Illustration – Progress Update #4

So for the last few years, I’ve been working on my illustration skills. I’ve been slowly getting better with practice. The reason that I wanted to improve, was that I wanted to incorporate more illustration work and styles into my design work. Not only that, I just think illustration skills can make a more well-rounded designer.

Art is something that I’ve loved since I was young. But after high school, I just sort of stopped while in design school. And even before, I was never that good at drawing. I worked hard on it but always felt like my work wasn’t good enough. However, now, I’m thrilled with my progress. I’m nowhere near some illustrators I’ve seen, and may never get there, but I’m happy to keep working and learning and growing as a self-taught, hobby-illustrator.

The images below are some sketches (I mostly do faces; it’s my go-to) and some full-color illustrations I’ve done. The bird is unfinished – I’ll get it it some day – and I did Inktober, which are all the spooky little ones on a few pages.

Here are my favorite sketches and illustrations I did in 2018:

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2019: New Year | New Goals

2019 is a brand new year! I’m a big believer in setting goals, not resolutions, and working toward accomplishing tasks rather than setting out to make “big changes” in my life. Last year was rough and, even though I don’t like resolutions, I do like the blank, clean slate a restarting of the calendar can give, even if it’s kind of arbitrary.

Last year, I tried to do too many categories with too many goals to keep up with. I tried splitting my time as evenly as possible between them and realized that some things aren’t as necessary for me to focus on. And I’ve been doing a “monthly focus” where I focus on one thing more than the other each month, but found myself not devoting enough time to each. So this year, I want to focus on three more than that others. My main focuses will be design, reading, and writing — three things that suffered last year, along with everything else, even though they’re more important. I’ll be doing less illustration practice and simplifying my health and fitness goals, but keeping film on the same level. I’ll break it all down below.

Here are the goals I’m setting for 2019:

Design

This year, I’m going to be continuing freelancing on the side — especially in the first few months, as I’m getting a large break from my main source of income with the small business I co-run until summer. So I’ll be focusing on doing more freelance design jobs this winter/spring. With that, I’m hoping to work more toward opening an online store of products (like cards, stationery, prints, etc.) with my designs. It was a goal last year, but I didn’t have the time, and now I have some so I would love to get it going — many steps before that happens, however. With that, I want to start doing some of these designs, and others, outside of work — like the book covers I did for practice/fun a few years ago. I want to do more, with a goal of one a week to keep my creativity going between freelance work.

  • freelance work
  • plan to open online shop
  • 1 personal design project a week (52)

Reading

I never read as much as a I want to. I want to change that. That’s why reading is one of the main goals I have this year. It’s so important for me, not just as a writer, but as a person, to read more. It’s something I love. I’m setting my Goodreads goal for 52 books. I know, I know — if you’ve read my blog before, you know that I’ve done this before and every year, I don’t get anywhere near 50. But I want to focus more on reading specifically. So I hope I can do it. If I just double my reading time this year, I’ll make it. I also want to return to some old reading lists — I have several series and trilogies that I’d just like to finish or continue.

  • read 52 books
  • complete trilogies/series
  • read more often
  • Reading Rush (formerly BookTube-A-Thon)

Writing

This year, my goals for writing are pretty much the same. With NaNoWriMo 2018, though I wrote 50,000 words and completed the challenge, the book itself is far from finished and I’d like to complete it. I’d also like to do NaNoWriMo again this year, outline a new fantasy series that I’ve been thinking a lot about, and continue to work on the book I’ve been working on — or supposed to be working on — Thoughtless.

  • finish NaNoWriMo ’18 draft
  • NaNoWriMo ’19
  • outline fantasy series
  • Thoughtless

Film

I’m more or less keeping my goals for film the same. Instead of wanting to see 25 new (to me) films, I’m going for 30, which shouldn’t be an issue at all because I was able to do 25 easily last year. I’d also still like to do a small, short film project — I wrote one two years ago that I love, but it’s not a feasible film to create on my own — and write another feature-length film, as I did last year.

  • watch 30 films
  • write/shoot short film
  • write feature-length film

Illustration

I’m doing a total change to my illustration practice. I’ve been steadily better in the last few years, which is great, but I’ve been taking too much time focusing on it. Last year, sketching a few times a week, everyday for two separate months, and doing several full-color illustrations a month was two much. This year, I’m going to just do two days a month where I sketch and illustrate for a few hours, and do Inktober with daily prompts. Much more doable with everything else and I think I’ll like it more, as I was getting frustrated that I had to do it every week instead of wanting to.

  • sketching and illustrating 2 days a month
  • Inktober

Health & Fitness

For health and fitness, I’m going to continue to walk everyday — though, the last two months of 2018 were spent doing nothing — and working out 3 times a week. I’d also still like to try to get up earlier and so far, I’ve been slowly going to be earlier to do so (skipping New Years Eve festivities and going to be early helped set that habit and realign my sleep schedule). I’m adding, however, a tracker in my bullet journal on how much soda I drink –both diet and the occasional regular — and would like to limit myself to about two a week instead of the one, sometimes two, a day. I already had three this week, so I’m not doing great, but if I could do without it for the Whole30 for a few weeks last January, I think I can do it.

  • walk everyday
  • workout 3x a week
  • go to bed/wake up earlier
  • 2 sodas a week

Other

I have a few stragglers for the year that I’m adding here. This year, I want to take one work day each week (I work six days, Mon-Sat) and devote it to solely intake, filling my creative well. Whether that’s watching a film, reading, going to a museum, going for a walk, etc. — just stepping back from outputting and creating, and making sure to absorb (this will obviously help with my reading and film watching goals). This is so important as a creative, and I think sometimes I forget — and wonder why I occasionally have a creative block when working. Another thing is, I’d like to grow my social media following more — I’d like connect more with people and grow my numbers before opening my online shop. I plan on posting the designs I’m doing more often and be more engaged than I have previously. Not only just on social media, but here on this blog. I want to post more and be more active here. Speaking of, another goal is to post about my further learning journey that I posted about a while ago. I’m learning a lot about language right now and want to move on to Greek mythology later this year. My goal is post once a month about things I’ve learned, things I’ve found interesting.

  • 1 intake day a week
  • grow social media
  • post regularly on blog
  • further learning – 12 posts

As I said, I also like to choose a specific month to focus on these goals more than the others. I find it helps, especially with something like NaNoWriMo and Inktober. It makes it easier to let a few things slide and focus on just one each month.

  • Jan: Design (plan + research for shop, freelance)
  • Feb: Writing (NaNoWriMo ’18 draft, outline fantasy series)
  • Mar: Reading (5-6 books)
  • Apr: Design (continue planning shop)
  • May: Film (write/shoot short film)
  • Jun: Writing (Thoughtless)
  • Jul: Reading (4-5 books + Reading Rush 7 books)
  • Aug: Film (write feature-length)
  • Sep: Design (open shop?)
  • Oct: Illustration (Inktober)
  • Nov: Writing (NaNoWriMo ’19)
  • Dec: Reading (5-6 books)

Looking at all these goals has me wondering if I should try to choose a few less hobbies. This is normal, right? It probably is. I’m just interested in a lot of stuff. Anyway, those are my goals for the year.

2018: End of the Year – Goals Wrap-Up

2018 was a difficult year for me. It has had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs. My dog died, I turned 25, I had a bit of a mental breakdown, I almost went to Spain for 9 months but couldn’t, and I’ve been in a strange, surreal funk since my 25th birthday–almost six whole months exactly. (Side note: I’ve always felt weird about having a birthday in the middle of the year. I can’t ever pinpoint how old I was during a particular year in the past because I’ve spent equally half of each year as two separate ages. I can’t just perfectly do the math in my head from my birth year. I’m bad at math anyway.) All of that and I haven’t even mentioned all the terrible things that have happened in the world. It hasn’t been the greatest year. But at the same time, looking back and from where I am now, I’m doing good. I’m at a good place at this moment in time, on New Year’s Eve, heading into 2019 with a good night’s sleep — no, for real, I’m spending tonight alone and have no obligation to stay up until midnight. I’ll be able to have the perfect start to waking up early and having a more productive year. Begin as you mean to go on, and all that.

Anyway — on to the reason for the post! How have I done with my goals for the year? Well, let’s take a look.

Design & Illustration

I had scaled back from my lofty goals of 2017 and I think I did fairly well. Although, opening my online shop took such a back burner this year that I decided against doing it at all for this year and focus on it next year. I did start freelancing on the side and had a few projects, all gone well. As for practicing my illustration skills, I started off sketching weekly well enough but fell out of the routine after a few weeks. Although, sketching every day in both April and September as my focus for the months worked well, only having skipped three or four days in each month. And I did, unexpectedly, participate–sort of–in Inktober for the first time, illustrating six or seven prompts at a time each weekend and on Halloween. This counted as several illustrations for the month and I ended up with the needed twelve to complete my goal! All in all, I did all right with these goals and I have some ideas and changes for next year.

  • sketch 2-3 times a week ✓
  • 2 full-color illustrations a month ✓
  • start freelance work ✓
  • open online shop

Writing

*deep breath* I really didn’t do well this year. i mean, technically I accomplished most of my goals here, it just seemed like less because the MAIN goal I had was to finish the draft of “Book E” but decided against writing it and to focus on the book I’ve been working on, Thoughtless. So that’s what I started working on but barely worked on it. (It was a really bad year after my birthday, y’all.) Anyway, I did finish two short stories, I finished the draft of the book I did NaNoWriMo 2017 with and I did NaNoWriMo 2018 this year and won! So, I’ll take it. I did my best.

  • write 2 short stories ✓
  • finish first draft of Book E Thoughtless ✗
  • finish the draft from NaNoWriMo 2017 ✓
  • complete NaNoWriMo 2018 ✓

Film

I’m real happy with what I’ve accomplished in this category. Technically, writing a feature-length film is a writing goal, so I did actually write a lot this year! I like the film I wrote, even though it needs a lot of work and I’m not confident in writing in this form yet, but I enjoyed the experience and it was a great start in writing for film. I also did a small project of my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary video — not the short film project I’d wanted to do, but I’m counting it because it was after my birthday and as I said before, not a great time. I’ve done a rough cut of it and like it thus far. It’s just a wedding video but I enjoy the practice in filming and editing something. I also watched 25 new-to-me films! One was even in theaters! Just a quick top five of them: Lady Bird, Incredibles II, Atomic Blonde, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Annihilation, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Okay that was six. Special mention to The Edge of Seventeen, which was a surprisingly great coming-of-age film. That’s seven. I’m bad at this. I just really liked them, okay?

  • watch 25 total (in theaters or not) films ✓
  • film 1 experimental short film/video project ✓
  • write a first draft of a feature-length film ✓

Reading

I set a goal of reading 25 books, thinking I could trick myself into reading more. I usually set my goal to 50 and always fail around around 20-25. And how many books did I read? 23. I just can’t seem to get there, y’all. But I’m setting my goal back to 50 next year and I’m really going for it. I know, I know. I’m a masochist. It’s fine. I can do it, I believe in myself. Don’t you believe in me? (Don’t answer that.) I did read less fantasy, shorter books, and I abandoned my old reading lists that had been eating me alive for not getting to them. That felt good to just read the books I wanted to in the moment as I chose. I even abandoned the newer list I made and just went with whatever I was feeling after finishing each book.

  • read 25 books ✗
  • read less fantasy ✓
  • read shorter books ✓
  • abandon old reading lists ✓

Exercise

Boy, howdy. I walked a lot (except for the last two months, I walked almost every day) and I even worked out a bit. I tried the Whole30 and had a mental breakdown because of it and lost my dog after the first week — so I needed chocolate and alcohol. I wrote a whole post about that experience. Overall, I lost a good portion of my weight (though put some back on these last few months because of holidays and not exercising at all) and am proud of that. Even if it’s not as much as I wanted. I’d rather gradually lose weight and feel better than killing myself to lose it quickly. I’m good.

  • be more active, walk or bike ✓
  • stick to work-out schedule better ✓
  • do the Whole30 at least once ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • go to bed earlier/wake up earlier ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As you can see, I technically accomplished a lot of my goals. I just feel sort of meh about them all, though. I feel like I’m exactly where I started last year. I haven’t gone any further in my life or career, not really. This year was rough. But I’m looking forward to 2019. I have a lot of goals and changes I want to make for next year. And I’ll post all about it soon.

✌️

2018: Autumn Favorites

So, it’s the end of the year. Winter Solstice was yesterday, officially ending the Autumnal Season and Christmas is literally around the corner. You know what that means?? It’s winter! And also it’s time to share my autumn favorites of this year!

BOOKS:

  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
    I’d heard of Sabriel a few times over the years, briefly, but didn’t go further than a quick scan for it at the bookstore when there but never bothered to search for it online or anything. It had just been one of those books I had on my giant mental list of books to read. Well, after hearing about it again, I decided to actively put it on my to read list and search for a copy. I finally–as in months later–found a copy at a Goodwill, an enormous bind-up of the first three books in the series, then a trilogy. I didn’t know much about the trilogy except that there was necromancy involved and gates in “Death” but I didn’t know what that meant. This book immediately shot up to top of my “favorite books of all time” list, easily in my top ten. It’s such an incredible world the world Nix has created with an interesting, unique magic system. It’s such a great story and wonderfully executed. I’m incredibly sad I hadn’t heard of it or cared to hear of it while in high school, because I would’ve eaten it right up. But I’m at least glad that I found it now.
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    Quite possibly my favorite read of the year. This is a long, dense book and I read it in a month–which for many people is ridiculous, but I’m a slow reader and often read many books at a time, and for me this book would’ve normally taken several months if it were any other story. I’m a sucker for collegiate novels, for books about murder, and for books about secret clubs–this book has all of those things and it sucked me in hard and I, most of the time, didn’t want to put it down. I read it in large chunks of fifty to seventy-five pages at a time, which is a lot for me. Though I wasn’t a fan of the end, it didn’t disappoint me too much where I disliked the book because of it. The journey getting to that end was well worth it enough for me to consider rereading the book sometime in the future, which is something I rarely do.

Films:

  • Alien: Covenant
    Okay, so I know Prometheus is not the greatest movie of all time. I get it. I’ve read enough articles about why people disagree with me on liking it, but I’m not a complete idiot. A lot of it wasn’t great. But it’s still one of my favorites and I liked it a heck of a lot more than any of the other Alien sequels (seriously, I only like the first Alien and not the others (okay, I guess Aliens is good, too)–and don’t get me started on the crossover with Predator, ugh.) Prometheus has a lot of elements that I love, it’s gorgeous to look at, and I can look past its faults and see the goodness in it, whatever it was they were trying to say with the film. Now, Alien: Covenant? Its sequel? It started SO GOOD. The first half of that film was incredible. I couldn’t believe how good it was! And then…it just…hit a wall of crazy and I couldn’t make sense of how it had gone so bad and so wrong so quickly. Even still, I enjoyed watching the entire thing, even if I only thought the first half was good. I don’t even know if it was directly at the halfway point, it was just shortly after they found David. That’s when it started to go down hill. I loved it anyway, though.
  • Incredibles 2
    Seriously, just forget Marvel. I want seven Incredibles movies, a spinoff series, and a television show. I love this world so much, from this family to the rest of the supers. Everything from the animation, the music, the style, the story. Everything is good and I think I like this movie even more than the first. And The Incredibles is on my Top Five Favorite films of all time. That’s how much I loved this movie.
  • Maggie’s Plan
    I’m a huge fan of Greta Gerwig–from acting in Frances Ha (another of my Top Five Favorite films of all time) to writing and directing Lady Bird, she’s fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s Plan. She’s great it in, obviously, and Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore are equally great. It’s a funny and, at times, frustrating story to watch unfold, which made it a really enjoyable film to watch. I love movies that make me want to climb inside it and give advice to the characters. Not to fix or change what they’re doing because the movie is bad, but wanting to inject myself into the story because I’m so invested that I’m frustrated I can’t talk to them to help out the situation. That’s this type of movie–and I really liked it.

Music:

  • Feel it All Around by Washed Out
    This is the song used for the opening credits of Portlandia, my favorite sketch-comedy shows. It’s also one of my favorite songs. It’s mellow and repetitive, an easy song to get lost with.
  • Human by dodie
    Dodie is one of my favorite singer-songwriters and her latest song Human is astoundingly beautiful, in both sound and lyric.
  • Love is Blindness by The Damn Truth
    This cover of Love is Blindness was used in an ad for Yves Saint Laurent fragrance a few years ago and I was obsessed with it–a lot of people were, according to the comments section of the video. After finally figuring out the band, I wanted impatiently for them to release it as a single. Then I forgot about. But THEN, I recently remembered about this song and looked it up and they’d released it a year earlier! It’s so good.
  • Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea by MISSIO
    I first heard this song on an episode of How to Get Away with Murder and just loved the sound of it throughout the scene it was playing in. After listening to it all, I couldn’t stop. It was on repeat for a solid week.
  • Monster Mashup by Pomplamoose (feat. Tessa Violet)
    I’m in love with this Halloween-themed mashup of Thriller and the Ghostbusters theme song (and some others). It’s such a great, fun version of these songs.

Television:

  • American Horror Story: Apocalypse
    I’ve had a love-no thanks relationship with American Horror Story, only having seen a few seasons in completion (one, three, and eight) but for the most part, love the ridiculousness of it. I was particularly excited for this season because it took two seasons I loved and had watched, season one and three, and crossed them over. Now, this season wasn’t great–the end in particular irritated me. But for the most part, it was fun to watch and I enjoyed getting more of the witches from Coven. I wish it was just a show about them, tbh. And I also enjoyed the addition of Cody Fern, who is a phenomenal actor–I loved him in The Assassination of Gianni Versace this past year.
  • Single Parents
    I was pleasantly surprised to love this sitcom as much as I did, and am continuing to do. It’s hilarious, I love the characters, all the child actors and their characters are amazing and hilarious. All the adults are funny. Everything about this show is good and I didn’t think I’d even like it! It’s a cute show!
  • The Walking Dead
    The Walking Dead has had its ups and downs…and downs. But I’m in this for the long haul. I read the comics, I love the characters and world, and I’m going to stick it out. I decided this during the Negan Era, the worst two seasons the show has had, in many people’s opinions, including mine. There were some bright spots, but for the most part, I was just waiting for it to be over. And now that time has come! We’re getting a new start with this show and I’m digging it thus far. Rick leaving worked for me–even how they did it–and I like their big ideas with his character. I like where they’re going. I love the time jump, even! The Whisperers’ introduction was one of the best of the show in this new era! I’m ready for this show to get good again and I have–hesitantly–high hopes.

Other:

  • Fracter
    Now, if you know me, you know that I’m not into many games. But recently, in the last few years, I’ve found a few apps for my phone that I really enjoy. Fracter is one of them. This game–which I’ve already completed and am impatiently waiting for a follow up, if they were to have one–is phenomenal. The design of it alone is incredible enough to consider playing. The look is what drew me to it and I stayed for the puzzling levels that kept growing and growing in size to an overwhelming finale. I couldn’t stop playing it!
  • Two Dots
    The other game I play often is Dots & Co, and this sequel to the original puzzle game Dots, has now become my new obsession. Two Dots has a similar vibe and style to Dots & Co, but has different features and mechanics that are great. I really enjoy playing it whenever I have some extra time in a car ride or when I can’t sleep.
  • Anker – Wireless Keyboard
    Because my Macbook recently called it quits, I’ve been using a desktop for the first time in–well, since I was thirteen and used my parent’s computer to chat with friends on MSN. I miss the portability of a laptop, though, and for writing it’s sometimes essential to get out of the office. So, I bought a wireless keyboard to connect to my iPad and I love it. It’s so much better than using the keypad built-in, which takes up half the screen when I use the Scrivener app, which is the program I use to write in. It’s a great keyboard that connects automatically, lasts a while with battery, and I haven’t had any problems with it so far.

And just like that, autumn is over and winter has begun. The year is nearly over! It’s been an interesting year and I can’t wait to see what films, books, and music I’ll be enjoying next year.

Further Learning: A Post-School Journey of Education

I’ve never liked school. I mean, I liked some subjects, like English and art, but thought history was boring and wanted to bash my head in during math. But what I didn’t realize until after I was finished with school, was that I actually liked learning. I loved it. I just wasn’t learning what I wanted to, what I was interested in. I realized this during Art History while going to school for design. It was my favorite class. I’d always thought I hated history, but what I thought of as “history” was what we learned in high school — quite literally, the boring parts. I loved learning about architecture and art, what society was like hundreds of years ago in different countries, different cultures, and how they changed. I realized how much I actually liked to learn — and not just about history, but other subjects I was never taught.

So, I didn’t just want school to stop and learning about interesting stuff I liked to stop with it. After finishing college, I decided that I was going to keep learning about the things I was interested in. I made a list of all the subjects I had an interest in and wanted to learn more about.

I’ve always loved Greek Mythology (I had a semester-long class in middle school about it and fell in love) but have always wanted to learn more, I’ve been interested in language, religion, history, and a whole bunch of other topics.

Here’s a rough list:

  • Language
  • Greek Mythology
  • Ancient Rome
  • Egyptian Mythology + Ancient Egyptian History
  • Witches (Salem; European Witch hunts)
  • Monsters and Legends
  • Religious History
  • Modern Cults
  • Scandinavian History
  • Norse and Celtic Mythologies
  • British History
  • Symbolism and Iconography
  • History of Ancient China
  • The World Wars
  • Evolution
    PLUS A LOT MORE

I have set out a plan and have already started reading books on the subjects that I’m interested in. To start, I read one of my first non-fiction books, Penny Coleman’s Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial — which was a fascinating read about how we’ve treated our dead in the past, how other cultures do, and how it has changed. Afterward and since, I’ve started with the topic of language. Linguistics and etymology have always been an interest of mine and I’ve been loving learning more about it. The schedule so far is continuing with Language for the rest of 2018 and early 2019, then start with Greek Mythology around mid-2019.

And, because I document a some of my life here on the blog, I decided I wanted to post more about my new journey. That’s the plan starting in 2019, a new series of posts documenting my journey: the books I read, articles, films, documentaries, etc. along with my thoughts, things I found interesting or learned, and a general overview of each subject. I’m very excited about this!

First, however, we have to get through the rest of 2018. This was just an introduction. I have a lot of posts about NaNoWriMo (it’s coming so soon!) and wrapping up the year before then. I’m hoping the first posts about Language will start in the beginning of 2019!

2018: Summer Favorites

Here are the books, music, films, and more that I’ve been enjoying this spring, roughly between April and now, early September:

Books:

  • Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa
    I bought this book solely because of the cover and I ended up really enjoyed it. It’s about a guy who works at a confectionery shop in Japan (making dorayaki, which is sweet bean paste spread between two pancakes) and an elderly woman who requests to work there to teach him how to make the perfect sweet bean paste. It’s a good read.
  • Corpses, Coffins, & Crypts: A History of Burial by Penny Colman
    I usually don’t read non-fiction, but I’ve been wanting to do some more learning now that I’m done with school. I have a whole plan and maybe I’ll do a post about it someday. Anyway, I read this book about death and it was fascinating. Penny Colman takes you on a journey that’s both personal and historical about what it means to die, to be buried, cremated, or entombed. It talks about different cultures and how they go about honoring their dead. It’s truly fascinating – though, a bit dark and morbid, so if that’s not your thing, skip it. But I think there’s plenty of lighter, uplifting messages within the book, too, to balance it out. It’s an interesting read.
  • The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
    I read The Nest during BookTube-A-Thon and it was such a great read. It’s about a wealthy family of siblings from New York City who are all awaiting their trust fund – the Nest – to be given to them after the money was needed to take care of an accident caused by the eldest, drug-addicted brother. As they wait to be paid back by him, the siblings all deal with their own financial and family issues. It’s told from multiple perspectives (more than just the siblings) and it’s honestly a book I didn’t want to put down – which rarely happens. I don’t know if it’s because of the time frame of the readathon, but I definitely flew through it and loved it.
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
    Another BookTube-A-Thon book, Annihilation was a weird, weird science fiction book about an all-female team entering into Area X, a mysterious alien-like landscape of creatures with devastating effects, mentally and physically, to those who enter. It’s a bit of a trip. It definitely didn’t follow a traditional plot structure, the storytelling was unique and it was nothing like anything I’ve ever read before. It was such a good read and I can’t wait to read the whole trilogy. And see the film with Natalie Portman that just recently came out – though I think I want to read all the books first, because I think they changed a lot for the film, so I want them to be completely separate in my head.

Films:

  • Jurassic World: Fallen Empire
    As summer is always the most busy time of year for me, I was only able to see one new film – and I even saw it in the theater! For my 25th birthday, as I was born in the same year as the original Jurassic Park movie’s release, I kind of had to celebrate our 25th anniversary together. I wasn’t too big of a fan of Jurassic World, although I liked it, it just wasn’t fantastic. However, Fallen Empire far surpassed my expectations…well, for the first half anyway. The first half of the movie is, by far, my favorite part of the entire franchise – maybe just under the original movie. But it’s so close. I wish the first half of Fallen Kingdom had been the whole movie because it was literally so so so good. The second half parred just about the same as the first Jurassic World, so good but not great. But that first half, y’all. THAT FIRST HALF. I want to watch it again and again just for that.

Music:

  • Mean Girls
    I’m not someone who is known as a musical theater person. But even saying that, I feel like it’s slightly wrong to say about myself. Even when I told my sister that I was currently obsessed with the Mean Girls musical, she was like “Yeah, that checks out.” I guess I grew up with musicals as a kid (all movies: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, West Side Story, Wizard of Oz just to name a few) and in high school/early college, I loved the movie Chicago and I was thrilled to see the touring production of Beauty & the Beast in my senior year of high school. I think I’m the type of person who would have joined my school’s musical theater program if we were to have on, but we didn’t, so musicals were kept as a dormant hobby of mine that crept up here and there, but took FULL BLOWN CONTROL of my life the moment I heard about the Mean Girls musical. Mean Girls is my favorite teen comedy. Everything Tina Fey does is perfection, so when I knew she was writing the musical too, I was in. What I didn’t expect was to love it so much. I listened to the few songs released as “singles” over and over again, then repeated the whole cast album probably six times in a single weekend. I definitely didn’t watch the full bootleg of the show that someone uploaded to YouTube and loved it, though. That didn’t happen. But seriously, the songs are great, the show’s hilarious, and Taylor Louderman is just BEYOND EXCEPTIONAL as Regina. Her voice is insane.
  • High as Hope by Florence + the Machine
    If you didn’t know, Florence + the Machine is my favorite band (band? singer? duo?) in the history of the universe. A new album has been released and its just so so so good. My favorites on the album include: Hunger, Sky Full of Song, South London Forever, and Patricia. It’s just so good. I believe, possibly, this might be my second favorite album of Florence’s. Ceremonials is still my favorite – and will probably stay that way – but High as Hope is so close to it.
  • ‘Sila’ (feat. Tanya Tagaq) by A Tribe Called Red
    I first heard this song in the trailer for the film Thoroughbreds and I became obsessed with it. I’m always looking for lyric-less songs to listen to while writing, and this one is an intense, sort of terrifying, rad jam that’s just perfect for scenes that are intense, rad, and sort of terrifying. Which I happen to write a lot of. It’s a good fight scene song.
  • ‘Issues’ by Julia Michaels
    First heard this song during the trailer for the show Killing Eve (more about that later) and fell in love with it. Julia Michaels’ voice is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard (watching her perform and getting to hear the way her voice sounds live is great). It’s a really great song that’s almost addicting to listen to.
  • ‘no tears left to cry’ by Ariana Grande
    I was LATE to the party, but this song by Ariana Grande is addicting to listen to. I mean her vocals are always incredible but there’s just something about this song that I love. It’s simultaneously mellow and kind of sad but it’s also a banger and I love it.
  • ‘Crush’ by Tessa Violet
    Tessa’s been one of my favorites for a long time – I’ve watched her on YouTube for years and I love her style of music. This song is killin’ it and it’s so catchy and I love it and can’t stop listening to it.

Television:

  • Killing Eve
    THIS IS MY FAVORITE SHOW OMG. Okay, calm down. It’s just so good. Sandra Oh has been a favorite forever and she’s incredible in this show as Eve. This weird ass, comedic spy thriller is the greatest show I’ve ever watched. The performances. The writing. Everything is so spot on. There wasn’t a single episode I didn’t like. Not a single scene! Everything about it is so good!
  • Station 19
    I’m an avid watcher of the Shonda Rhime’s produced/created shows on ABC during the TGIT line-up. Grey’s Anatomy has been one of my favorite shows for years, How to Get Away with Murder is addicting, and I love Scandal, and now that Scandal is over, in its place is a Grey’s spin-off about firefighters that is soooo great. I was hesitant when first hearing about it, not really thinking I would like it, but it’s managed to grip me as much as Grey’s Anatomy had the first time I watched it.

Other:

  • RX Bars
    I’ve been eating more healthy lately (well, not lately lately, but in general) and Larabars have been my go-to because my local grocery store has them on sale for 10 single bars for $10. But they’re not my favorite. Because now I’ve discovered the more-than-twice-as-expensive-but-also-twice-as-delicious RX Bars. They have the same idea of being made with whole foods, but they do it so much better. The flavors are stronger, the dates are less prominent, and the egg whites make them more chewy. THEY’RE SO GOOD. BUT SO EXPENSIVE. GAHHHH.
  • Spirits Podcast
    This isn’t new to me, nor is it new to one of my favorites lists here on the blog. I’ve written about it in the past, but Spirits Podcast is just the best. I wasn’t listening to many podcasts for a while, mostly because I wasn’t going for my walks as often. Podcasts just sort of fell out of my routine. But now that it’s nicer outside, I’ve been walking almost everyday, and I’ve rediscovered my favorite podcast and catching up on the episodes I’ve missed. Spirits talks about some of my favorite things: myths, legends, monsters, ghosts. It’s such a good podcast with two incredible hosts, tipsily talking about my favorite things – literally so funny and interesting and awesome.
  • Hit the Bricks
    Speaking of podcasts, I’ve been getting into audio dramas lately and this one couldn’t have come at a better time. My friend PJ created Hit the Bricks, which is set in the universe of the Wizard of Oz books. The pilot – which is fantastic – is out now and I can’t wait for there to be more. I’m already hooked into this story and I want to know what happens.
  • 23andMe
    I did the thing. I spit in the tube. Which was gross. But then I got my ancestry results in two weeks. Which was not gross. It was so cool. I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time but didn’t have the money and then my parents gifted me a kit for my birthday. What were my results? I’m very white. Like, 97% white. But what KIND of white am I? 22% French and German (Netherlands), 15% Finnish, 8% Scandinavian (Sweden), 12% English and Iris (UK), 3% Eastern European, 2.5% Iberian, .5% Southern European (Italian; was expecting more since my great grandfather literally immigrated from there so…haha) and like 30% just BROAD European/Northern European. Which is a big percentage that isn’t accounted for (maybe all my Italian hiding???). I really want my parents to also do this so I can connect them and mine will be more accurate. And then! I’m also 2.5% East Asian and Native American (.3% Northern Asian/Native American and 2.3% Native American) and .1% South East African (it originally told me I was North African/Arabian, but that has since become more accurate, which is odd.) Several things were surprising (like not having much Italian and having that small bit of African) but some things weren’t (I knew I was Native American on both sides of my family and I knew that I was Swedish, but I didn’t know I was Finnish at all; this has been a debate in our family but apparently we are from the Swedish part of Finland, which makes sense that my great grandparents came from Finland but spoke and were culturally “Swedish”.) I’ve always wanted to know my ancestry (and still want more info when my parents do it!) and now I do! I want so badly to be able to meet the people in my lineage, to hear the story of every ancestor I have. It’s just such a cool thing we can do, it truly is.
  • Duolingo
    So there was a strong possibility that I was going to go live in Madrid, Spain (yeah yeah 2.5% Iberian!) for about 8 months but it isn’t going to work out, unfortunately. I’ve been very bummed about it. But anyway, during the weeks that I thought I was going, I started Duolingo to learn a bit of Spanish to help me while I was over there. It’s such a great app, especially if just to learn the basics like greetings and dining out and useful tourist stuff. I don’t know how accurate it would be to become fluent, but it’s a fun app that makes it easy to learn a new language.
  • Venmo
    I’ve heard of Venmo a million times but never cared about it until one day, my cousin asked me to do some work for her editing her college essays and papers. She told me she’d pay me for it, which was awesome because I needed the money, and I loved getting back into that collegiate frame of mind. It made me miss my days of writing essays and papers (which, weirdly, I loved). Anyway, she had me get Venmo to make it easier and it totally was. Venmo rocks. Also, every time someone gives you money, the little notification sound is a ding and a cash-register sound. It’s adorable.

2018: Goals Update

2018 has been a very strange, busy year thus far. So busy, that I haven’t been posting on here as much as I’d wanted, and I’m definitely late with this post — it was originally planned for the midpoint of the year, end of June/early July, and seeing how it’s late August, that gives you a good idea.

A lot of this year is about change for me. A lot of new and exciting things might be happening, so that means some of my goals need to shift a little. But everything has been going great so far!

Here are my goals I set for the beginning of the year and how I’ve been doing on them:

Design & Illustration

  • sketch 2-3 times a week – I’ve been mostly okay with this. During the summer, when I’m busier, some weeks I didn’t sketch at all, but for the most part, I at least sketched twice (this just means 15 to 20 minutes of sketching anything). April was my first illustration focused month and I sketched daily – only missing three days!
  • 2 full-color illustrations a month – I’ve done this so far! I’m really improving and would love to post something about all the finished pieces (the ones I think are good enough to share, anyway).
  • start freelancing – I did this! I took the plunge, created a website, have had a few clients, and am loving it. It’s challenging to get clients but it’s working out just fine for now, especially because I just started.
  • open online shop – Not going to happen! As I’ve said, I’ve become so busy with my day job and freelancing, and with the near future changes in my life, this is a goal I’m going to have to put off a little longer. But it’s a good thing! It’s just not the right time.

Writing

  • write 2 short stories – Done and done! I wrote two short stories, one at the beginning of the year and one in June.
  • finish first draft of Book E Not happening anymore! I, again, decided to change projects. If you read that post, you’ll know about the other series I wanted to write. Well, I decided it was a much more original, more suited book for me to write. (For reference, in that post it’s Book C, the first in Series 2). Instead, I’ll be working on Book C and have been all year. It’s going good!
  • finish the draft from NaNoWriMo 2017 – Done! It turned out great!
  • complete NaNoWriMo 2018 – To be determined! Can’t wait for October to outline the new novel and for November to write it!

Film

  • watch 25 new (or new to me) films – I’ve watched eight. Which is not great. But I have a ton on my DVR ready to watch and I even saw one in theaters this year (it’s so hard to do this, y’all) and it was great! I’ll post a full recap of films later on in the year.
  • film 1 experimental short film/video project – I did! I have yet to edit it. It’s actually from footage from my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary — not exactly the project I had in mind, but I’m glad for the refresher with editing and filming.
  • write a first draft of a feature-length film – Currently working on it! August is my month for focusing on film projects, so I’m writing it right now and loving it!

Reading

  • read 25 books – I’ve read 15 so far and am not worried at all about hitting this goal. BookTube-A-Thon was really fun this year, even if I only read 5 books instead of 7. It bumped up my number when I was struggling with summer time to read!
  • read less fantasy – I’ve only read one!
  • read shorter books – I’ve read mostly short books!
  • abandon old reading lists – I have done this! In fact, a good portion of the books I’ve read so far this year are books I just recently purchased or found.

Exercise

  • be more active – I’ve definitely done this! I’ve been walking a lot and started working out a bit. So far this year, I’ve lost 20 pounds. From my original weight two years ago, I’ve lost almost 40.
  • stick to a workout schedule – I’ve been walking almost daily but haven’t really nailed down a good schedule. I’m hoping to make sure this happens before fall/winter, where I tend to fall off the wagon.
  • do the Whole30 at least once – I’ve posted about this already, but the Whole30 is hard af and I decided to quit doing it. For my mental stability, I needed to stop. But at least I tried!
  • go to bed earlier/wake up earlier – I’ve been semi-doing this one. I think overall, I’ve been going to bed on the earlier side than normal (between 11:30pm – 12am rather than the usual 1am) and get up around 7am instead of the usual 9pm. However, I could be doing more. I love the nights (and mornings after!) when I go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 6am. It’s something I still have to work on!

Monthly Focus

In my previous goals post, I posted about each month being a focus month for one particular goal I have for the year. I broke it down and followed it for the most part, up until June. Here’s the rest of the year:

Jul: Reading (read four to five books in the month; BookTube-A-Thon)
Aug: Film (write feature-length; film and edit one short film/video)
Sept: Illustration (two or three full illustrations + daily sketching)
Oct: Health + Fitness (exercise every day; eat well)
Nov: Writing (NaNoWriMo 2018)
Dec: Reading (read four to five books in the month)

Most of the changes in my life aren’t going to change the monthly focuses too much. We’ll see what happens. So far, I think I’ve been doing really well and I can’t wait to share about the changes that might be happening soon!

BookTube-A-Thon 2018

Every summer for the past few years, I’ve participated in the fun read-a-thon event BookTube-A-Thon! It’s a lot of fun (and extraordinarily exhausting) and every year I try to do better than the previous year, desperately wanting to complete the challenge of reading seven books during the week.

Well, this year I definitely didn’t. In fact, I did more poorly than I had in other years. Ha.

But that’s okay! Because it was still fun!

Each year, there are specific challenges and this year, these were the challenges (including my choice of book next to them):

1. Let a coin toss decide your first read (Saga, Volume 8 by Brian K Vaughan)
2. Read a book about something you want to do (Timeline by Michael Crichton)
3. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation (Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer)
4. Read a book with green on the cover (The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket)
5. Read a book while wearing the same hat the whole time (Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman)
6. Read a book with a beautiful spine (The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney)
7. Read seven books (The Night Guest by Fiona MacFarlane)

I chose these books because they varied in genre and book type (sci-fi, contemporary, mystery/thriller; a middle grade book, a few adult, a graphic novel, and a poetry collection) to keep things interesting. I also tried to choose (mostly) short books that wouldn’t take me long to read. This is always my strategy, having a rule that each one had to be less than 350 pages (under 200 was best) and had short, distinct chapters to keep things moving quickly so I wouldn’t want to put it down. I overestimated my abilities with Timeline, however.

By the end of the week, I was exhausted. I started with Saga and The Vile Village, finishing both in the first day. I also started Timeline, the book I was most nervous about because of its length, to take out big chunks of it throughout the week. But with work and family stuff happening, and with the ever-present exhaustion that comes with reading for hours at a time, late at night, straining your eyes, I was only able to finish 5 whole books. The Nest, Annihilation, and Leaves of grass were all finished by Saturday night, leaving only half of Timeline left and all of The Night Guest. But because I was so tired and after a family event on Sunday, I was only able to get halfway through The Night Guest, and I gave up by 9pm. My eyes were hurting, y’all.

I crammed too much at the end instead of pacing myself well during the week. Such a bad mistake! I also wanted to challenge myself with Timeline, but it was just too long of a book to choose for this event.

Still, it was so much fun! I would have finished a lot of the other challenges, too, though in my exhausted, zombie-like haze, I forgot completely about watching Annihilation! I still plan on watching it (I loved that weird ass book so much) but I’m just bummed I forgot to do it during the week.

Anyway, to finish, here are the ratings I gave each book that I finished completely (surprisingly, I liked all of them!):

Saga, Volume 8 ★★★★★
The Vile Village ★★★★★
The Nest ★★★★
Annihilation ★★★★
Leaves of Grass ★★★★★

Timeline (enjoying, so will finish soon)
The Night Guest (enjoying, so will finish soon)

Looking forward to next year!

2018: Winter Favorites

From January through March, I’ve been enjoying some incredible books, films, music, shows, and more. Here are some of my favorites:

Books:

  • Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson
    The story of the third-eldest Kennedy child, Rosemary, is heartbreaking. If you don’t already know—it’s history, so there’s no “spoilers” here—she was intellectually disabled and struggled progressing passed a certain age in school. She frequently suffered from “fits” both of anger, frustration, and sometimes seizures. The family—or I should say, the father of the Kennedys, Joe Sr.—had her lobotomized at the age of 23. I don’t normally read non-fiction but I’m endlessly fascinated by the Kennedy family and couldn’t resist. Rosemary—and the thousands like her who suffered with similar issues and underwent the horrific procedure—deserved so much better.
  • Rooms by Lauren Oliver
    I bought Rooms because of the cover, I will admit. It’s incredible. And although I was initially intrigued when I first read the back cover, by the time I started reading it, I’d forgotten what it was about except for the fact that ghosts were involved. I wasn’t expecting to like the book as much as I did. It’s brilliantly written, expertly paced, and bounces between such interesting, unexpected perspectives that I was blown away by. It didn’t take me long to read—and as a slow reader, that’s a high compliment. The more I read, the more I didn’t want to put it down.
  • Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
    Again, I bought this book because of the cover more than the book. I’d picked it up while on vacation at a tiny little bookshop in a tiny little town. The idea of a young girl being told that the world and everyone around her was gone, dead, and that only her and her father were left only to discover that it had been a lie was such a great premise. This book is incredibly written and tough to read because you know that, somewhere out there, it’s happened to a young girl for real.
  • Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman
    I’ve recently been getting into comics/graphic novels. But superheroes haven’t really been on my radar—my favorites are The Walking Dead, Saga, and East of West—even though I love superheroes, and you’d think that I would’ve loved them as a kid. But I was more into the television shows/films about them rather than comics. I was given an e-book of Marvel 1602 for free with a purchase—I had my choice of any Marvel comic, and this one, written by Neil Gaiman and set in the Elizabethan era was a no-brainer. I wasn’t expecting to love it and I didn’t even know what it was about until I started reading. Imagine the Marvel heroes—the X-Men, Spider Man, the Fantastic Four, etc.—being born too soon. It’s great and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequels.

Films:

  • Lady Macbeth
    I’ve been excited to see this film for almost an entire year after I watched the trailer—which I enjoyed almost as much as a I did the film itself, maybe more—and I bought it on DVD as soon as I could. It’s such a visually appealing film that anything else about it didn’t matter. Every shot looked impeccable, every frame like a painting. Florence Pugh delivers such an incredible performance. It’s dark, it’s brilliant. I loved every minute of it, even the parts I was horrified by.
  • Lady Bird
    Yeah, yeah—I get it. You know this is a great film. It was nominated for several Oscars. I just have to gush about it because writer/director Greta Gerwig is one of my favorites, one of my idols. She’s amazing and Frances Ha, which she starred in and co-wrote is one of my favorite films of all time. Saoirse Ronan is another favorite that gives one of my favorite performances of all time; same for Laurie Metcalf. This movie is a favorite for life. It’s nearly perfect.
  • Get Out
    I don’t think I’ve ever watched a thriller film that is quite as unique as this—not even as a horror film, just as a film in general. It’s brilliant. Jordan Peele deserved every accolade for it. The performances were great—like Daniel Kaluuya is top notch, Betty Gabriel gave one of the most memorable supporting performances ever and she should have been nominated for something, and Allison Williams killed it.
  • The Skeleton Twins
    I love Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. I never expected to see them in such a dramatic film, especially one as dark as this, and be so incredible. It does, of course, have very funny moments, but ultimately it’s a dark story about two suicidal twins coming together again after ten years of not speaking. It’s really great.

Music:

  • ‘Til It’s Over by Anderson Paak
    I’ve been obsessed with the iHome commercial directed by Spike Jonze and starring FKA Twigs with this song in it. It’s the coolest commercial I’ve ever seen and the song is amazing.
  • Simply the Best by Noah Reid (from Schitt’s Creek)
    This cover of Tina Turner’s song by one of the characters on the show Schitt’s Creek is so so so good. The moment in the episode is so good. I just love it.
  • Make Me Feel by Janelle Monae
    This song is my jam. It is my morning routine song. It is my afternoon pick-me-up. It is the moon, the sun, the stars. Janelle Monae is perfection. The video is bomb. I love it.
  • More by Photocomfort
    A long time ago, I found a band called Photocomfort and downloaded their free EP on Bandcamp. Those songs were super inspirational for me for a long time but I never could find any more about the band and sort of forgot about them—other than listening to the songs I’d already had—and recently, I found them again. The song More is such a different sound from their first EP but I love it.
  • Mystery of Love and Death with Dignity by Sufjan Stevens
    Thanks to Call Me By Your Name and Busy Philipps’ Instagram, I’m in love with Sufjan Stevens and I love these songs in particular. So soothing and beautiful and gentle. Absolutely in love.
  • Mockingbirds by Grant Lee Buffalo
    If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan like I, you’ve heard the town troubadour, played by the lead singer of the band. He plays this song during the Firelight Festival in one of my favorite scenes of the first season.
  • Sober by Lorde
    I’ve been listening to a lot of Lorde lately, her new album Melodrama (okay, not so new, but I’m late, as always) is fantastic. Sober is my favorite song on it.
  • Every Other Freckle by alt-j
    I had alt-j’s album This Is All Yours on my iTunes wishlist after it was recommended to for a long time without ever listening. I’m glad I eventually did. This song in particular is my favorite. It’s awesome.
  • Losing All Sense by Grizzly Bear
    The song is great and I especially love the lyrics here:

“Could I ask of you not to cut into me
Dividing all of my body for me
I was left here to go through all the pieces
Nothing more to spare.”

Television:

  • The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
    This show is not perfect. I would’ve changed a million things about it—telling the story in reverse order was unnecessary; if you’re going to have Gianni Versace in the title, it should probably include him more in the story or at least just call it something else if they didn’t want Andrew Cunanan’s name glorified—but ultimately, it’s really great. Darren Criss is such an incredible actor and I think they told an incredible, if not flawed, story.
  • Queer Eye
    The reboot of Queer Eye is incredible and I cried every episode and I love the new crew and I just want more. There are so many touching moments, hilarious moments, important moments. It’s just such a great show.
  • The Good Place
    Let me tell you, I slept on this show like you wouldn’t believe. I was like “Oh that looks funny” then never checked it out. Never bothered. And then I heard just how good it was, so I decided to give it a shot. I’m almost glad that I never watched from the beginning, because binging it through both seasons was necessary. I almost wish I would’ve waited for the third to already be out because this! show! does! not! mess! around! It’s funny, it’s brilliant, it goes in directions that I never EVER would have thought. It’s wild. It’s fun. I love it.
  • Schitt’s Creek
    I casually watched this show for the first three seasons, seeing one or two episodes but never fully committing for no reason other than forgetting it was on. But now I’ve fully invested myself and have watched all of season four every night it airs. I can’t get enough of this show. It’s got such a subtle comedic timing and pacing that isn’t like other comedies. One of the best.
  • The End of the F***ing World
    This Netflix show is wild. It’s dark and messed up and funny. It’s a weird little show about two messed up teenagers who runaway from home. I loved it and I hope this isn’t just the mini-series it’s been planned to be. I’d love more of it.

Other:

  • Skillshare
    I was given a code to get two months of Skillshare classes for 99 cents. It was well worth the dollar. There are so many classes available for any kind of topic you could want. I’ve done some illustration and design classes, even a few that helped with my getting started with freelancing. It’s a great resource, though I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with it once my two months are up. It’s a bit pricier than I would want to commit to. But it’s something I’ll definitely think about.
  • Diet Coke Feisty Cherry
    Y’all, I’ve been trying to cut down on sugar and I know Diet Coke has terrible things in it and I shouldn’t drink it. I used to hate Diet Coke and only drank regular Coke. I’m a big fan. But when I heard about the new Diet Cokes with new flavors, I was sold. There are four flavors and they are: Twisted Mango (not bad, my second favorite), Ginger Lime (tasted like regular Diet Coke to me, maybe a bit of something extra, but for the most part it was just fine), and Zesty Blood Orange (which is the worst and it tastes like orange Emergen-C). The best one is Feisty Cherry and I’ve been drinking it a lot. It has the sweet cherry flavor of Cherry Coke with a bite of peppery goodness in the after-taste. It’s quite nice.
  • Adam Rippon & the entire 2018 Winter Olympics
    I love the Olympics. Every Olympics since I was a kid, my mom and I would watch everything we could. I especially love the Summer Olympics, but this year, I got really into the Winter Olympics. Figure skating, curling, skiing, speed skating! It was such a fun time and honestly, the best thing to come out of it is Adam Rippon has emerged into the spotlight as America’s gay sweetheart and he’s the best. He’s hilarious and every interview with him is gold.

It’s been a long, cold, depressing winter and I’m ready for spring! I’m glad I had these favorites of mine to get me through. It’s snowing right now, in April, but I’m hoping for some sun soon. I need it.

✌🏼

Health + Fitness: Attempting the Whole30

So some of my goals for the year include being more healthy. I want to be more active, exercise more regularly, eat healthily, lose weight, and ultimately just feel better. Also, fitting into some of the clothes in my closet that don’t quite fit currently would be nice.

There are several things that I’ve done to start off 2018 in the right direction. First, my monthly focus for January was for Health and Fitness. So, I started going on the treadmill everyday and attempted (along with my mother, who also wanted to try it) to do the Whole30.

If you don’t know what the Whole30 is, I suggest doing a Google search about it for the full low down. It’s a very popular…diet? I don’t know if I would call it a diet. It’s more of a…reset. Essentially, there’s a long list of foods that you can’t eat or drink for 30 days straight, no cheats. The foods basically include: all grains, gluten, soy, dairy, legumes, alcohol, and sugar. There’s some more and the details of each category are specific (not only can you not have sugar, you can’t have any sweet substitutes, including honey or agave nectar.) The purpose, from what I’ve gathered, is once the 30 days are over, you’re to start reintroducing these foods slowly to see how they effect you.

So, we decided to start it on January 2nd and do it for the 30 days until January was over. It’s incredibly hard and unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish it the first time we tried. Our dog died on the 9th of January and it was a Rough Time and we cheated—wine and chocolate, obvs.

It was necessary.

After, we decided to keep going pretty much with it—I definitely cheated more than my mother did—and decided to start over after the Super Bowl (our biggest day for food of the year other than Thanksgiving, so I was NOT going to skip it.) So on February 6th, we started over and only made it 10 days.

I decided to quit because on Day 16 (the day I actually quit) I’d realized that for six days, I’d been drinking almond milk that had sugar in it. I hadn’t been before, but I accidentally bought the wrong kind and didn’t notice—no wonder that iced coffee I made tasted so good! I’ll be honest, the thought of doing starting over that day when I was at the halfway point made me want to die. I actually started to cry.

The thing is, the Whole30 is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The first time we attempted in January, I had a headache for the first three days because of the lack of sugar—yikes, obviously I was addicted and didn’t realize. And I love the idea of the benefits from doing the Whole30. Energy! Weight loss! No inflammation! It seemed like a miracle!

And for those days that I was doing it…I felt none of those things. Which is normal! You’re not supposed to until like after Day 15. But for me, it’s not worth it. It may be amazing for people! I’ve heard and read and watched people on Instagram who love it. And that’s great for them. But for me, not being able to have things that I enjoy—whether good or bad; I mean obviously I love Coke which is terrible for me, but I also love peanuts and beans and things that are good for me!

30 days is too damn long not to have something joyful in my life. Life is too short.

Because those 16 days that I’d done (six not technically counting because of the almond milk, but for me they felt like they were still counting) felt like an eternity.

There was another drawback for me: my mental health. I have a troubled relationship with food and the Whole30 wasn’t good for me. My whole life, with my struggles with anxiety and depression, food was my go-to for healing myself and feeling better. It caused me to gain a lot of weight at a young age and I’ve been dealing with my weight and over-eating for 15 years. While doing the Whole30, I wasn’t able to have any of the food that gave me comfort. And even though I’ve overcome depression, for the most part, I haven’t with my anxiety. And my anxiety was through the roof during those days on the Whole30. I was irritable and miserable and overall unhappy. It certainly didn’t help the first month with my dog dying, but even the second time around when I was doing better with grieving, my anxiety was worse than ever.

There were some positives, though! I lost ten pounds in the first ten days and I lost a total of 17 pounds since the beginning of the year. That’s partly because I’ve been going on the treadmill almost every day (walking, not running—it burns off more fat and doesn’t hurt your joints). But that has a lot to do with me eating (mostly) compliant to the Whole30 since January 2nd. I mean, it’s mostly vegetables and meat. Super healthy. And, because I did the Whole30, I realized how intricately entwined my eating habits and my mental health are—something that I now know I have to closely watch and be more aware of.

Overall, the Whole30 life just isn’t for me. I know of people who do it often, taking a few days or a few weeks off and then doing it all over again, and that’s great! I just can’t be one of those people.

I do have a plan moving forward, however. My next monthly focus for Health and Fitness is in June, but until then, I want to start doing mini-Whole30s. My mother and I agreed that we overall like the concept of the types of food you can eat on the Whole30, but aren’t too keen on the timeframe and certain restrictions.

We’ve decided to modify it to include legumes, corn, rice, and beans, but leave everything else the same. I’m also considering a few sugar substitutes or some things with sugar, because I’ve missed coffee—I can’t drink it black. And we’ve decided that instead of 30 days, we’d do it for 10 days and have a “cheat” day or two, then do 10 more days. I think a lot of it for me was the length—and I know that’s the purpose of it! But the idea of only 10 days is definitely going to help me stick to it without going crazy. We’re not even calling this the Whole30, we’re just committed to eating healthier more often.

Hopefully, with our new program that we made up with the Whole30 as a base, we’ll be able to become healthier, lose weight, and maybe even feel better overall.