Tag: #Project29

Bored and Brilliant

Do people even get bored these days? I mean that in all seriousness. When was the last time you were bored?

As a kid I remember complaining about boredom all the time. School would get out for the summer and after about a month of freedom, the boredom would set in and I’d go whining to my mom. “I’m booorrreeeeed,” which loosely translates to “entertain me!”

Now, as an adult, boredom seems like a thing of the past. Who has time to get bored these days? There’s so much work to be done, adventures to go on, things to be read, movies and tv shows to watch! Not to mention those little moments of downtime which become filled with texts, Facebook, snapchat, trivia crack and candy crush! Seriously. There’s not enough hours in the day!

So with all these ways to occupy our time, why should we even want to be bored?

Well it turns out that boredom breeds creativity and brilliance!

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We should all strive to add boredom back into our lives, and the best way to do that is to cut back the amount of time we mindlessly spend on our smartphones. Instead of checking our phones every few minutes or keeping our faces buried in our phones when we’re in waiting rooms, we should use that time to stop and look around. Notice the world around us. Let that downtime give our brains a chance to generate some creativity!

NPR’s New Tech City decided to explore the connection between boredom (or lack of) and our smartphone use. They’ve invited listeners to join them in the challenge, which they’re calling Bored and Brilliant.

So how do we get an idea of how much time we spend on our phones? Well, you can download the app Moment. Moment will tell you how many times you pick up your phone per day and then how many minutes you spend using your phone.

I downloaded Moment about a week ago. I’m embarrassed to admit how much time I unconsciously spend on my phone!

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If you look at January 24th, I spent TWO HOURS on my phone! TWO HOURS wasted. I really want to scale back the amount of time I spend on my phone and refocus that time toward either “me” time or downtime.

The challenge starts tomorrow February 2nd! Each day New Tech City will send out a mini-podcast episode and a challenge for the participants. I’m really excited to take part in this project. I’m sure it’ll be an eye-opening experience.

So now that I’m almost done with comp exams, I’m ready to get Bored and Brilliant!

Here’s a sneak peek of the week ahead:

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C is for Coffee

The month of January was brought to you by:

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Phew! What a busy month it’s been and that’s why I haven’t had any time to update the blog! Basically, I’ve spent the past four weeks wrapping up my comprehensive exams. While they’re still not completely finished (I still need to defend them), I’ve jumped over the biggest hurdle of the process — writing them!

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Although blogging fell to the bottom of my priority list this month, I promise that my #Project29 goals haven’t completely fallen by the wayside. Despite the craziness and stress of comps, I did manage to keep up with my yoga and swimming routines.

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I’ve also been trying to meditate regularly, although it didn’t quite happen daily. In conjunction with the meditation, I’m in the process of establishing a regular morning and nighttime routine for myself.

Anyway! With comps almost behind me, it’s time to get my day-to-day life back on track. I’m going to dive back into my #Project29 list and get myself into a healthy routine as I prepare to transition to the dissertation phase of this PhD journey.

But in the meantime, I ran away to North Carolina for the weekend so I could fully unwind and relax after a stressful month/semester/year.

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Get Out of My Head

morning meditation:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them and the point is to live everything. Live the questions… – Rainer Maria Rilke

I love this quote, because grad school and scholarship is all about the questions! We’re taught that questions are more important than the answers. So to come across this sentiment in a non-academic setting is refreshing and affirming.

Anyway, the other day an article titled “NIH Spends $100 Million on Mindfulness Research” crossed my Facebook feed. It basically reinforced all the other information that I’ve read recently about the benefits of meditation. To sum it all up, here’s one key quote that explains why we need meditation:

“Recent studies published by the American Psychological Association show that people who practice mindfulness live in the present, which leads to benefits like fewer depressive thoughts, significant stress reduction, better focus and working memory, and more cognitive flexibility, to name a few.”

One of the scariest things to me as a graduate student and someone pursuing a career in academia is how dependent I am on my brain. My livelihood depends on my ability to think clearly and critically. My ability to succeed in my field comes down to whether or not I have insightful ideas to add to the conversations going on in theatre studies. Obviously I want and need to take care of my brain.

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(Source)

But sometimes, okay a lot of times, taking care of my mind and body comes last when you’re a busy grad students. When I wrote my #Project29 list meditation was one of the first goals that came to mind. I already know that breathing exercises and yoga help calm my anxiety, tension and stress, but somehow incorporating meditation into my life feels like a difficult task. I love the idea of it, but I struggle to put it into practice.

Well, the other day I stumbled upon Headspace. It’s a meditation app/program that is designed for everyday people. It’s not super new-agey and doesn’t feel hokey. Headspace is actually the brainchild of Andy Puddicombe. I’d seen his TEDTalk a while back and really liked his approach to meditation/mindfulness. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out!

The Headspace app gives you a free 10 day trial, but then you have to pay for a subscription. I’ve really like the sessions I’ve done so far and now I’m debating taking the plunge and paying for the app. I really do think that meditation would be a beneficial addition to my daily routine and I’ve never heard anyone say anything negative about it, so why not give it a shot?

Does anyone meditate on a regular basis? Anyone use Headspace? Or does anyone think it’s a complete waste of time? Just curious…

Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Animal!

Happy holidays!
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Whatever your beliefs or traditions, I think the holidays are the perfect time to take a break from life (or maybe just slow down a bit) and spend some time with your friends and loved ones.

I’m attempting practice what I preach. I know I shouldn’t even entertain the feeling, but I’m battling a bit of guilt. I’m trying really hard not to feel guilty about the time I took off from working and comps, because in the long run I know I’m going to remember the moments I spent with Hilary and my family and not the feeling about how I should have been studying.

And yet, I can’t help but think that the past few days (or even the past two weeks) I haven’t been nearly as productive as I would have liked. Sure, I’ve gotten some work done and I’ve enjoyed myself, but there’s still so much reading to do!

Anyway, wallowing in this guilty feeling isn’t productive so I’m trying to push it aside and just enjoy my break while also getting as much done as I reasonably can.

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The tradition began over 30 years ago when my aunt and uncle were living in Mexico. I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but I think some of my parent friends from work wanted to connect with my aunt and uncle who were in Mexico and my parents linked everyone up. Through the years the breakfast group has shifted and changed but the tradition continues!

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I love that this tradition is as old as I am! I’ve only missed breakfast a handful of times and those occasions were out of my control.

While at breakfast, my aunt gave me a Saint Christopher medal.

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My grandmother had one on her car visor for years. When she died Hilary inherited her car along with the medal. Last January Hilary’s car was stolen (and then recovered) and she was upset that Nana’s Saint Christopher was lost. So my aunt mailed Hilary a new one. My aunt ended up with an extra one and thought I should have one as well.

The rest of Christmas eve was spent running errands, wrapping presents, and spending time with the family.

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On Christmas morning my parent, Hilary and I exchanged presents, ate breakfast, and then prepared for the rest of the family to arrive.

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We traditionally host Christmas, so everyone comes to our house for dinner.

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Then after dinner, we always go for a walk down to the water. It’s usually perfect Florida weather and the sun is just getting ready to set by the time we head out.

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I’m not sure how the tradition got started, but Hilary and I always tap the stop sign (or whatever the ending point is for a walk/run) whenever we get to the turnaround spot on our walk.

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When we got home it was time to take family pictures! My mom wanted to boycott the pictures, so she made silly faces in most of them. Hilary was NOT amused.

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After pictures, things start to wind down. It’s time for coffee and pie and the scrabble board comes out!

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And by then Christmas was over.

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday, regardless of what you celebrate or how you celebrated. 🙂

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Oh yeah, and speaking of filthy animals… Look what dear Charlie did last night.

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Wild Inspiration

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”

– Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

Months ago, while looking for a present for a friend I bought Wild for my Kindle. At the time I had no idea that I’d be inspired by Wild or that I’d even connect to the subject matter. It took me months before I even considered reading it. It sat on my Kindle until something reminded me that it was waiting to be read.

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Earlier in the fall, I became overwhelmed with a feeling of restlessness — a feeling that actually inspired me to start #Project29. But even before #Project29, when I started reading Wild I immediately knew that I wanted to plan a multi-day backing adventure. I want to go on that sort of adventure precisely BECAUSE it would put me so far outside of my comfort zone.

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This afternoon my family and I went to see the movie adaptation of the book. Hilary actually read/listened to the book on her own and when she found out the movie would be released in December she started planning a time when we could go see it together.

I’m glad we could see it and experience it together. We’ve casually talked about going hiking together, especially since it’s become a hobby of Hilary’s, but now more than ever I want to make it a reality. I’m hoping that I can go visit her in May or June and we might be able to drive to Oregon and hike some of the Pacific Crest Trail together. Making the trip (or something similar) a reality would help me cross #15 off my #Project29 list.

So after finishing the book (this afternoon!) and seeing the movie, it seemed important to write about since it helped me work through that feeling of restlessness. It reminded me that I hadn’t been outside of my comfort zone in a while and that the way I was feeling was my mind’s way of gently nudging me to take some risks, face my fears, and embrace failure.

“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told.”
– Cheryl Strayed

Back Together Again

GUESS WHO’S HOME?!

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I’m so happy to be reunited with my sister! I know it’s part of growing up and getting older, but I definitely miss having her around on a regular basis. I’m excited for her to be home for the next 10 days.

Before going to pick Hilary up, I convinced my mom to go to a vinyasa yoga class at her usual yoga studio. I’m not quite sure what happened, but it ended up being just us and the teacher. It took a bit of time to adjust to a new teacher and a new studio, but I was really happy by the end of the class. The best part was the teacher gave us a chance to work on inversions. I want to be able to do some sort of inversion, any sort of inversion, but I’m also afraid. I need to work on letting go of that fear and then I think I’ll be able actually get into those poses.

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Then after yoga, my parents and I went to pick Hilary up from the airport. She wanted us to greet her with a sign, but since she made her request as the last minute we didn’t have time to make one. So here was dad’s creative solution:

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And it turned out Hilary had her own “welcome home” idea. She greeted us by walking off the tram with a GoPro!

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Hilary and I spent today catching up with each other by doing some of our usual activities.

We started the morning with a walk to Treasure Island. I realized that I haven’t been getting very many steps while I’ve been home, since I can let Sirius out in the back yard. So took Sir Sirius on a walk and got in our daily steps!

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When we got to the top of the bridge, Sirius refused to turn around and walk back down. I *might have* carried Sirius down the bridge because I was afraid he was getting too tired. It turns out that he just wanted to keep soldering on.

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After the walk, I’d gotten nearly 8,000 steps and I reached the 10,000 step goal later in the day.

The rest of the afternoon was low key. We didn’t have any food in the house, so Hilary and I planned some healthy meals — a kale lasagna and a creamy slow-cooker tortellini soup. Hilary was also stoked to make a trip to Publix. I tend to take Publix for granted, but Hilary was so happy to be back. She made a beeline for the Publix sub line.

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Hilary made the creamy tortellini soup for dinner and it was delicious! We ended up doubling the amount of mushrooms, onions, and tortellini, so we figured that our version of the soup was about 7-8 WeightWatchers Points.

I didn’t take any pictures of the final product, but Charlie was happy to help us in the creation process.

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Hope everyone else had a wonderful Wednesday!

Katie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Busy Two Weeks

The semester ended on Friday, but the last two weeks felt like they lasted an eternity! Somehow it always seems to work out that the two weeks between Thanksgiving break and winter break become filled with chaos, stress, and ALL THE THINGS. This last week in particular sucked because I didn’t expect it to be that bad, since for the first time in forever I am not in any courses. I think because I let my guard down, the week’s mayhem felt like a sucker-punch to the face.

Overall, I managed to keep my stress levels down during the last two weeks by making swimming and yoga a priority.

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I actually went swimming as soon as I got back in town from North Carolina. I knew that if I took too many days off, it’d be really easy to fall out of the habit. I didn’t even let the dead car battery deter me from going. After AAA came and changed my battery I jumped into the car and went to the pool.

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I maintained my yoga and swimming routine through this past Tuesday and then my schedule literally got so full that I couldn’t get to the gym unless I wanted to forfeit eating and sleep. Also, I take it as a good sign that on the days that I couldn’t get to the gym I was actually sad that I couldn’t go. I was craving satisfying feeling of the workout and the stress relief it provides.

And now that I’m back in St. Pete I want to keep up my fitness routine. So I called around and found out some places where I can keep swimming/working out. LA Fitness said they’d give me a 2-week pass and they have a pool at their facility. The YMCA also offers 3 day passes and some short-term memberships. Between those two options I plan to continue swimming while I’m on break.

This is the workout I’m doing at the moment:

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I’m still struggling with freestyle, so I’m committing myself to doing one of each of those 75 sets as freestyle. So I’ll do 75 freestyle, 75 breast stroke. Then 75 freestyle and 75 backstroke, etc. I end up exhausted at the end. I also figured out that you can track exercise (like swimming and yoga) on the FitBit and it will increase your calories burned, which translates into more Weight Watchers activity points earned. Pretty sweet!

I will also be going to my mom’s yoga studio. They offer vinyasa and all-levels yoga, but no hot yoga.

While I need to get my healthy eating habits back on track (those took a nose dive during Thanksgiving and the end of the semester), I know if I keep working out it will help prevent me from gaining weight (or too much weight) even when I make poor food choices.

Beyond exercise, what else has been happening?

Wrapping up the semester meant saying goodbye to this semester’s students. I felt so many warm-fuzzy-feelings. It was such a joy to meet and teach all of them this semester.

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If you had told me eleven years ago that one day I’d be back at FSU TAing and teaching play analysis, I would have thought you were crazy. I am so grateful for the opportunity to TA the intro for majors course this semester because it’s been a great reminder of my own journey to the PhD. Every day I am inspired by my energetic, enthusiastic, creative, passionate, and intelligent students.

December in Tallahassee is not complete without a trip to Dorothy B. Oven park. It’s pretty much my favorite place. I love all the lights.

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I went with a friend and we sipped gourmet hot cocoa as we strolled through the park.

And if you haven’t listened to Serial yet, then you’re really missing out. I binge-listened to the first six episodes as I drove from Tallahassee to St. Pete and the drive has never felt so quick!

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Photo source: http://www.newyorker.com/cartoons/daily-cartoon/daily-cartoon-friday-december-5th?mbid=social_tumblr

The forecast for the next three weeks includes LOTS and LOTS of READING. You know you’re a grad student when you rush to the library to check out a big piles of books hours before break starts.

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And finally, before all this happened I did manage to update about my technology cleanse in North Carolina.

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Results from the Technology Cleanse!

Back to the daily grind, although I’m moving pretty slowly this morning.

I spent most of yesterday riding home from North Carolina with my parents. After Sunday’s ban on technology, I cranked everything back up on Monday and actually had a very productive day of sending e-mails while I was in the car. I’m not sure if it was because I’d taken the day off from technology or not, but it felt great to cross a bunch of to-dos off my list.

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Stepping away from texting, the internet, Facebook, etc. didn’t feel painful and if anything, it was a relief. I’d say that overall I was much more productive on Sunday than I normally would have been. Despite the fact that I got roped into a LONG conversation with my mom about social media (oh the irony!) and took a walk/exploration of our property with my parents, I still read a fair bit of history and a play. I also didn’t really miss being connected all the time, I just missed the inconvenience of not being able to look something up real quick or sitting down to write (work).

I’m still trying to figure out how to strike a balance between the two extremes. Perhaps I’ll turn the internet off on my computer, iPad, and phone (and set the phone to airplane mode) during the day. If anybody has any suggestions on how to curb an internet or technology addiction, I’d love to hear them!

Technology Intervention

Is it me or does it feel really hard to completely disconnect from technology?

A wild and crazy idea hit me the other day. Here I am sitting in a cabin in the woods where I’m supposed to be reading for comps and instead I’m mindlessly playing candy crush and getting distracted on Facebook, so why don’t I spend a day— just one day—sans technology and disconnected from the world?

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The idea seemed easy enough at first, but now I’m having second thoughts. I realized how reliant I am on technology — my phone, iPad, laptop and TV provide endless amounts of entertainment, enrichment, and more importantly, they often help me do my work. A day with no technology would mean no music to listen to while I’m reading, no computer where I can write comp questions, no yoga videos on youtube, and no iPad to read PDFs or plays.

I originally came up with this idea on Friday and wanted to do it on Sunday, since I planned on watching the FSU vs UF game this afternoon. [Woo! The Noles won! Hooray for another regular season where we’re undefeated.]

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But then as today wore on, I started to talk myself out of the plan. I think the fact that I’m trying to talk myself out of this idea seems like even more of a reason to go ahead with it. I mean, why not do it? It’s just ONE day. I can read some of the books in the big bag that I brought. I have a journal and a bunch of fun pens, so I can write anything I need to by hand. I also brought exams to grade and they’re paper, so no technology necessary.

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I guess this will be a good way to find out how addicted I really am to technology. After my experiment, I should probably figure out some ways to disconnect more frequently but on a less drastic level.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have a ridiculously productive day of work. So here goes nothing!

A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

I woke up this morning to snow falling in North Carolina. What a wonderful thanksgiving surprise!

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Yes, it’s barely snow, but to this Florida girl even a tiny bit of snow is magical! I love watching it fall from the sky. I also love North Carolina and this house. It’s my happy place. 🙂

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Last year we spent thanksgiving up here and Hilary was with us. This year it’s just me and my parents. I wish Hilary could have joined us, but she’ll be home for Christmas.

#TBT to 1992-ish and Thanksgiving 2013

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It’s been a rough year and we all needed a break, so we thought thanksgiving in North Carolina would offer a nice change of scenery. My parents are decompressing up here and I’m spending the time making some progress with my comp[rehensive exam] reading. I’ve hit a wall with my work and I really hope that getting away from Tallahassee might give me a bit of a “reset.”

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We arrived last night and after settling in, I totally crashed. I slept like a rock and woke up this morning refreshed and relaxed. Overall, it’s been a lazy day. I decided to take the whole day off and I’ll get to work tomorrow. In between the laziness, we made a lovely thanksgiving meal with all the usual staples — corn soufflé, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes,and canned cranberry sauce! I also made a crustless pumpkin pie, since I wanted pumpkin pie but I didn’t want to waste a bunch of weight watchers points on it.

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As I thought about writing and expressing what I’m thankful for this year, I almost decided against a thanksgiving day post. Of course I’m thankful for my friends, family, the chance to pursue my passions, but I try and express my gratitude towards those people and things I love all year long. I don’t wait until thanksgiving day to be grateful for everything in my life. Although, I have to admit that after recent events I am more thankful than ever for my life and the time I have with my friends and family.

So I thought I’d write about things I’ve recently realized I’m thankful for: weight watchers, yoga, and swimming.

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While I’ve been doing weight watchers since the beginning of October, I’d gotten a bit distracted and hadn’t been able to get to meetings for the first part of November. I really find that going to meetings helps keep me on track and refocuses me every week. So last week I made it a priority to go to the WW meeting run by my favorite leader. Not surprisingly, I’m so glad I went!

It turns out that the topic from the week before had been about setting new fitness goals. During the meeting Danielle asked if anyone had met their goal and how they felt about it. While I hadn’t set a goal, I realized I felt kinda crappy because I’d slacked off on my exercise for the past few days. So I set a new goal in the meeting to get back into my fitness routine. Going to the meeting gave me the boost and motivation to get my butt to yoga AND swimming that night.

I also decided that I definitely wanted to find time and go to the meeting before I left for North Carolina. IMG_2835

The meeting gave me some smart ideas on how to enjoy thanksgiving without gorging myself too much. I ended up making the crustless pumpkin pie, inspired by someone at the meeting. I also drank lots of water and snacked on apples with cinnamon before the meal. And as per holiday tradition, we went for a walk after the meal.

Perhaps even more than weight watchers, I’m thankful for yoga and swimming. Both have become forms of exercise that allow my mind to disengage and relax, while I give my body a workout.

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I’m hoping that this isn’t lust or a temporary fling and instead my feelings for yoga and swimming develop into a lifelong love affair.

I also had a mini-breakthrough in yoga the other day when I was able to do full wheel pose! It’s a pose I had previously been able to do and had lost the ability in recent years, so when I pushed myself up into wheel I was so happy! There are a few other poses that I want to be able to get into, but I’m just not there yet. Perhaps that’ll be a post for a different day.

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I’m making progress with my swimming, as well. I’m still struggling with freestyle, but I like that it’s challenging. I’ve been going swimming three or so times a week and I feel really good about it.

Last Sunday I might have even overdid it. I went to hot yoga in the morning, then went swimming and walking on the treadmill at night. My body was sore the next morning. Oy.

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I’m actually looking forward to getting back to Tallahassee so I can get back into my yoga and swimming routine. But for the time that I’m up here, I found some yoga videos online and I’m planning on walking in the mornings and evenings.

And on that note, I’m going to resume my laziness and do some reading on the couch.

PS – I’m pretty sure Sirius is the most thankful of all. This year he found his forever family and gained a fur-brother. 🙂

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