Month: December 2014

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.

Our holiday festivities always start with breakfast at Village Inn on Christmas Eve.IMG_3522.2014-12-24_140114.JPG

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!