Wednesday, January 28, 2015

There, I said it.

I used to scoff at New Year's goals and resolutions. I even brought treats to work and called them resolution breakers. It seemed flimsy - the idea of setting a goal just because a date rolled around. I wanted a real reason to make a change. And while I still maintain that setting a goal just to set a goal isn't a great idea, I have become a huge believer in adopting new habits, new goals, or whatever you want to call them.

Last year, I decided to journal every night. I was tired of entries that started with, "Wow, it's been forever since I..." or entries that included "Really wish I wrote more." If you don't like something, change it. So I did. I wrote every day of 2014 with the exception of half a dozen or so days. Clearly this meant something to me because I've mentioned the journaling before, but it along with a few other things were game changers - I did something I had never done before which only made me more motivated for what I wanted to accomplish in 2015.

2015's habits/goals are not anything fancy. In fact, they are subtle enough that no one except myself will notice that they are in place. Four weeks into the year though, I can tell you they are making a difference...proving again to myself that I can do things if I set my mind to it. With no fanfare, they are--

  • Floss and anti-aging lotion daily (How am I 31 and still avoiding flossing? I know better. And I already am going to have more wrinkles than my peers who married ten years sooner than I did...at least I can aspire to younger looking skin down the road.)
  • One chapter a day (I always say I love to read, and then I hardly read)
  • One chapter, half a devotional, or one talk a day (I need to do something spiritually focused more regularly)
  • Continue journaling daily. 
  • Exercise three times per week, even if it's as simple as walking. (So far this and reading are the highlight.
Like I said, nothing dramatic, but they work for me. The new semester that started this past week also is a fresh start of sorts, so I've added a few things.
  • 15 minutes a day of organizing papers, files, etc. at work (Makes all the difference for sanity and making my room look as organized inside the cabinets as it does on the outside.)
  • Weaning off soda...again. (I did it last year for a few months along with a few other times. This time I'm going for moderation - just not keeping it in the house and not having it daily.)
  • Reaching out to more friends and making actual plans (No more of this - "Yes, we should do something soon." I am actually making plans and loving catching up with friends and people I haven't seen in ages.)
It feels silly to document all this, but there it is. My simple life in a nutshell. It's not over dramatic or flashy, but it's a wonderful life and I'm going to do all I can to make it even better.

Happy 2015!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wild

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't know what to say about Wild, but I am so glad to have finally read it. Cheryl Strayed is a gifted writer, and if nothing else, the book is worth reading just for how well she describes her experiences and feelings. But Wild is more than that - it's honest to the point of being uncomfortable, and some people hate this book because it seems on so many levels that Strayed caused many of the problems that led to her misery and then she bemoans her condition. But I think that's just life in a nutshell and part of the growing experience that so many of us go through, especially in our twenties. While most of us don't go so far as heroin and cheating on a spouse, we still make less-than-perfect decisions and then, over and over again, are surprised at the pain and frustration that follows.

While Strayed's decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail was ill-informed, naive, and reckless, I admire it so much. I love when people realize they cannot continue the path they are on and make a change. Again - Strayed's decision on so many levels was not a good one, but I understand that drive and yearning to stop waiting to live the life you've always wanted. When I reached that similar conclusion that Strayed did at an age not much older than she was, I didn't strap a hefty pack on and hike, but I did take voice lessons, I went back to teaching, I lost weight, and I stopped worrying about others' expectations about me and my life. It was the most liberating experience and has continued to push me towards being the person I always wanted to be. Strayed's hike didn't change all the hard things she had faced before she began, but it gave her the perspective she needed to face life in a healthier, more optimistic way. Reading her story reminded me that I cannot just wait for life to give me the things that I want. Instead I have to purposefully work towards those things, one step at a time.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Seth & Jaclyn's 2014 Cooking Adventures

Last year on New Year's Eve, Seth and I were pouring over cookbooks and randomly started making a list of thing we'd like to make. When the list started it was barely a page and a half long. It had everything from breads to desserts, and we had grand plans of making everything on our list. And perhaps if the list had stayed a page and a half long, we would have. But you see, the list was on Google docs, and we could update it anytime a recipe sounded good, and now a year later our list is five pages long and includes restaurants we'd like to try. The great thing is that we, in no way, feel defeated. We ate delicious food this year and had a wonderful time making it. And if you follow my instagram, you've had to look at it or if you hang out with me, you've had to hear about it. Sometimes I can't help it. Despite setting off the fire alarm in Tahoe, making insane messes, burning a few things, and breaking a few dishes, it has been my most delectable year yet, in and out of the kitchen. Can't wait to see what 2015 holds. Happy New Year!
ps. Two guesses what Seth and I are doing first thing this New Year's Eve. 
pps. If you want to be included on our Google doc list and the recipes we're working on, let me know. So many yummy things we'd love to share with you. :)

Unbroken

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am reluctant to admit how little I have read this year. It's a combination of shifting priorities, decreasing attention span, and perhaps less-than-ideal book choices. As this year was closing out, I finally delved into Unbroken and found everything I need and want in a book. It is, without question, the best book I read in 2014 and a book that I would recommend to anyone (a rarity with my usual choices). It is compelling and a story that focuses in on the triumph of the human soul - it is honest, unflinching, and careful. Hillenbrand is one of the best chroniclers of her time - she captures things so vividly that even pictures or film cannot overshadow the narrative she tells.

Louie is a new hero - not because he was extraordinarily good or even because he was an Olympic athlete. I admire him because he endured to the end and he enabled others to do the same. I love people who are not content to accept the status quo. They make me want to aspire for more. Hillenbrand does the same for me. She is a woman with difficult challenges in her personal life, but she still works so hard at her craft. After reading this book, how can I not try to be at least a little bit better?!

Happy 2015 and happy reading!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Yes, Please

On Sunday, Seth and I were sitting down to dinner and getting ready to start a movie when he turned to me and said, "Would you like to send out a Christmas card together?" Yes, Seth. Yes, I would. How cute is he?
Oh, how I love the start of holiday season. Happy November!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Time Keeper

The Time KeeperThe Time Keeper by Mitch Albom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know people think that Mitch Albom is cheesy or cliche, but I love him. Part of my inspiration for finally telling my parents that I was indeed going to be a teacher came from "Tuesdays with Morrie". "The Time Keeper" is probably just a three star book, but the discussion of time and how we measure it, obsess over it, and freak out over the lack of it, etc really spoke to me and made me evaluate my own obsession with time. And maybe I loved this book extra because Seth and I spent a Saturday afternoon at Apple Hill reading together and sneaking bites of apple donuts between chapters.

Albom's books are perfect short reads. They require little effort, always give you something to think about, and make you feel better about the world. Sometimes I need a break from how dark typical fiction can be, and instead spend time thinking about something uplifting and inspirational.

Happy reading!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

All Hallow's Eve & Us

Seth and I have a Halloween tradition of doing dinner and a movie to escape the madness of trick-or-treaters and having to dress up. Don't get me wrong. I love the fall, and I love Halloween candy. But my perfect Halloween includes yummy food with my handsome Mr. Mann, previews (oftentimes the best part of the movie), a movie with that candy we didn't share with those cute kids in costumes.
Last night was not our best of our Halloween outings because the movie choice ended up being so dark and horrifying (not a horror movie, by the way - we chose a World War II epic that ended up showing only the worst of humanity), but I do love this tradition. Seth joked that we won't be able to keep this up once there are little people involved. Maybe when that is the case, we'll move our date to Dia de los Muertos.  Happy (belated) Halloween!