The Halfway Point

It’s blazing hot in Chicago right now, a world away from the polar vortex of last January. Every remaining weekend of this summer is already packed to the gills with plans; it’s utter mayhem. I love summer and wringing every last sun-soaked second of fun out of these three months, but this is also why I relish the cozy calm of winter and its time of forced hibernation.

Now that we’re at the halfway point of 2019, I thought it would be a good time to check back in on my goals for the year, in part to keep myself on track as well as make tweaks to stuff that isn’t really working for me.

  • Decrease my carbon footprint. This one is always going to be a work in progress. Besides being a lot more conscious of how much plastic we use, Kurt and I have also agreed to eat less red meat. I’ll never go full-on vegetarian (I’ve done it before and my body just overall feels better when I’m eating animal proteins) but I’m aiming to cut back by a lot, and replacing with poultry and sustainable types of fish. (Soapbox sidenote: this planet’s only hope of avoiding what’s getting closer and closer to an irreversible worst case scenario has to be major changes on a global level, so stay loud and be an educated voter, y’all.)
  • Keep up with healthy eating, yoga, and cardio exercise. This is another one that’s all about balance, and also giving myself a break when needed. I try to cram leafy greens and colorful veggies into my daily diet as much as possible, but also, my love of donuts is infinite and profound. Exercising 4-5 times a week is the right amount to keep me sane, so that is going well. I’d like to incorporate more yoga into my home workout when I can’t get to the studio, so HMU with your fave apps.
  • Be more mindful of my budget. Somehow, this is going well?! I’ve been making larger payments on my remaining debt (Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be theater majors), paying off credit card balances right away, and saving toward my pop pilgrimage fund. My hermit-like tendencies and Kurt’s preference to cook at home come in real handy with this one.
  • Organize my house and my digital life. Have you ever looked at how much it costs to replace couch cushions that have gotten all dog-and-catted up? It is WILD. But I am finally(!!) trying to finish decorating our house. I’ve also gotten into houseplants. My digital photos are still a mess and I keep meaning to finally finish assembling our wedding album, considering we just celebrated our 5-year anniversary. The to-do list is frankly overwhelming, but one thing at a time. It feels good to make at least some small progress.
  • Keep writing. Every week: Submit, Pitch, or Apply. I am most excited and proud of this one.  I realized quickly that my weekly submission/pitching goal forces me to write constantly. And the wider net you cast, the better chances you have. In 6 months of consistent pitching and submitting, I’ve had more success with getting my work accepted and published (and even getting paid for it!) than I had in the previous two years combined. I’m aiming to have sent out 52 total submissions/pitches by the end of this year (I gave up on residencies because I am already taking too much time off work), and I’m currently at 28, so I’m right on track. If I can share any encouragement with y’all, it’s keep up whatever you are doing, and do a lot of it. I love and support your creative vision!
  • Keep traveling whenever and wherever I can. This one, I live for. I will squeeze every last drop out of my PTO. Destinations don’t have to be far; I spent last weekend on the lake in Indiana and had a blast. I also decided to add onto this, to go someplace new in my hometown of Chicago at least once a month. I am a homebody and a creature of habit, so I really need to take better advantage of what my beautiful bonkers alligator-infested city has to offer. Last night, I went to a full moon celebration on the lakefront and watched fire dancers perform under the night sky, and it was definitely better than my couch.

For the rest of tonight, I’m gonna sit and relax in our sunporch, read a book, and listen to the summer cicadas.

 

30* Days of Yoga

*ish

For the month of March, I set a challenge for myself to do yoga every day, aiming for 30 practices total (giving myself a rest day halfway through). I mostly completed my goal, practicing on 27 out of 31 days. So, I took a few days off but if there’s anything I’ve learned from yoga, it’s to be forgiving to myself when I’m not perfect. In order to fit 30-75 minutes of yoga into my daily routine, I eliminated my usual cardio workouts from my week, instead focusing on getting on my mat.

This was the perfect challenge for me at this time; I’ve been wanting to expand my practice and increase strength and flexibility while also maintaining my daily meditation habit. I mostly went to power vinyasa studio classes which run 60-75 minutes long. On the days I practiced from home, I used the Cody App which I like for the variety of classes. As a former roller derby skater and Crossfitter, yoga is a big change of pace for me. In the last few years, I’ve been leaning towards the more slow and deliberate pace of yoga and Pilates, mostly because of the limitations I have in my knee after my injury 7 years ago and subsequent surgery. I can’t do All The Squats anymore, which makes me sad. But with yoga, I’ve found a way to increase my strength that doesn’t also make me constantly fear injury. And spoiler alert–I’ve gotten pretty damn strong and I kinda even love side planks now.

prayer twist, Wonder Woman-style

A few takeaways about the 30-day challenge:

  • I made SO much more dirty laundry. Most of the studio classes I go to are in a 93-degree heated room, and by the end I’m so sweaty my fingers are pruning. Obviously, this results in a ton of drenched leggings, tank tops, and yoga towels.  #laundryeverydamnday
  • I went to the doctor for my annual physical, and I was nearly an inch taller than I was last year! That’s what daily stretching will do for your spine and overall posture.
  • Blocking out time on my calendar helped me prioritize fitting the daily practice into my crazy schedule. Much like with my vision board, seeing it on my list of to-do’s for the day was the key to sticking with it.
  • My body awareness has become more heightened. I notice all the tiny differences in flexibility on my left side vs. my right, my strengths (quads and hammies) and tightness (my lower back has zero desire to bend but I’m slowly making gains but will likely hate camel pose forever).
  • Taking a selfie in a yoga pose using a 10-second iPhone timer is the greatest challenge of all. Everything on Instagram is a lie. It takes a village to get that perfect image you just scrolled past of a social media influencer in perfect Eka Pada Galavasana in front of a waterfall in Belize.

Now that my self-imposed challenge is over, I’m adding cardio back into my routine a few times a week, but I plan to keep yoga as my main form of exercise on most days.

lizard pose with quad stretch

March Goals

A few weeks into January, I spent a Sunday afternoon with a group of friends making vision boards. I’d never made one before, but in the decade or so, I’ve developed a tendency to overbook my life to the point where I lose track of some of the goals I want to attain. Making a vision board has helped me to focus on the handful of goals that are most important to me, helping me to prioritize my precious free time. It also gives me the excellent excuse: “Can’t do it; it’s not on my vision board.”

the bottom one says Cook, I swear

So far, I’m doing good! I’ve traveled to Las Vegas and New Orleans. I’ve meditated every day except 6 total (hungover Vegas flight, every day in New Orleans because sharing a shotgun apartment with 7 people, while super fun, is not v. Zen). I’m changing some of the other goals around a bit as various projects evolve, but you get the idea.

In terms of health and fitness goals,  I have a workout regimen that’s attainable and doesn’t totally dominate my free time. I run on my elliptical machine 2-3 times a week for 45 minutes while blaring pop favorites of yesterday and today. Then twice a week, I go to a power vinyasa class. I’ve never had a body that is naturally skinny, but I put on muscle quickly and I surprise people with my strength (usually during impromptu drunken arm wrestling challenges). With my crazy strong hamstrings and quads, I like to say that I have the lower body of a  male cartoon centaur. In terms of nutrition, I’ve slowly been improving my eating habits over recent years and working a lot more leafy greens and veggies into my regular diet. My biggest downfall is still sugar (gimme all the gimmick flavored Oreos pleez). This past January, I did a sweets-free month (still ate some fruits, opted for plain yogurt and added my own fresh toppings, ate regular bread but no pastries or donuts, no chocolate or candy, etc.) and it had a big impact on how I felt. It was also surprisingly easy for me to accomplish since I knew that there was an end date in sight. Sure enough, come February 1st, it all went out the window, and as of this morning I’ve eaten a slice of leftover cake with my morning coffee for 4 days straight.

So, back to the vision board! Starting tomorrow morning, March 1st, I’m setting two health challenges for myself:

  1. I’ve wanted to up my yoga practice for a while now, so I’m going to shoot for 30 days of yoga, at least 15 minutes to an hour a day. I want to see how it improves my flexibility, strength, and overall outlook.
  2. I’m cutting out sweet treats again, but with the allowance of 1 per week (that’s a single donut, cookie, or slice of cake. Or 1 sleeve. of Oreos because I make my own rules). The goal here is to better set a habit where I’m eliminating most sugar from my diet but keeping it attainable–I can still enjoy a piece of cake at a party or treat myself to a milkshake, just in better moderation.

I am better about adhering to goals once I’ve made them public, so to the handful of people who may end up reading this, thanks for keeping me accountable. High five!

 

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is a holiday dear to this theater geek’s heart. I adore planning, assembling, and wearing costumes. Here’s some photos of my costumes from the last several years.


2012

I needed to incorporate my crutch into my costume, so I decided to be Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol. God bless us, everyone!


2011

Cool Cat (from Community)

2010
Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks. “She’s dead, wrapped in plastic…”

2009
The killer bunny from Monty Python & The Holy Grail (Kurt went as the dead knight).

2008
Mozilla Firefox

2007
Disco Queen (Kurt is Mouth from The Goonies)

2006
Alice in Chains

2005
I was a roller derby girl (foreshadowing!) and Kurt was a baby.

2005
Chun-Li from Streetfighter

I wish I had digital photos of some of my favorite childhood costumes. Each fall, my mom would bring us kids to the fabric store, where we’d page through the patterns and pick out what we wanted to be for Halloween. She would sew amazing costumes for us that were always a hit at school. Some of my costumes included a rabbit, Care Bear (complete with big furry head!), and pioneer (during my Laura Ingalls Wilder phase.) I can definitely trace my love of costumes and dressing up to those early days, waking up so excited to put on my outfit for school and trick-or-treating.

Have a happy Halloween, everyone!