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Awake My Soul – Yoga and a Summary of the Week

“And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life.
” – Mumford and Sons, Awake My Soul

I first discovered Mumford and Sons when I lived in Washington. I tend to associate writing my thesis with sitting at Starbucks or D&M coffee and listening to Mumford and Sons (and Florence + the Machine and Laura Marling). Five years later I still love Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons. Through all the ups and downs, the changes and growth, I always come back to this song. I love everything about it.

So when I went to this hot yoga class over the summer and the instructor ended the class with Awake My Soul it struck a cord within me. I walked out of that class with my body, mind and soul feeling nourished. This past year has been particularly difficult for me. There was a lot going on in all the different facets of my life and a lot of changes happening around me. I was out of sync and in need of something, but I didn’t know what. For me, leaving that yoga class was similar to my experience of going to church. Church usually leaves me feeling mentally nourished and stimulated. But for me, with yoga the experience is more complete. I’m challenged mentally and physically. I look inside myself to find strength and peace. I reflect on my place in the world and the life I lead and I set intentions for the class and the week ahead. I’m working on committing to going to Sunday morning hot yoga and making it my “church” time.


Today’s class was particularly challenging. I really struggled to bring myself into the room. My balance was also way off. I had a hard time doing poses that usually cause me no problem. The more I stumbled in the poses, the more frustrated I got with myself. I kept telling myself that there’s no judgement in yoga. No judgement of myself and no judgement of others. It was then that I realized that my mind kept wandering to all sorts of stuff. I was mentally writing this post, thinking about the work I needed to do today, and reflecting on recent conversations with friends. Whenever my mind wandered, I struggled to hold the poses. In order to really hold my body in the poses I needed to be mentally in the room, not just physically.


The class was also hard because it was the instructor’s last week. She’s moving to Denver. I really connect with her energy and the energy she creates in the room. She changed the way I look at yoga and how yoga factors into my life, so I’m going to miss her. I actually got a bit emotional at the end of the class, which really caught me off guard.

Looking back on the past week:

Wednesday Afternoon Adventure – #29
Onward, Ho! – My first accordion performance!

I haven’t been quite as productive as I would like and that’s causing me to be frustrated with myself. I need to work on putting aside judgement and just accepting what is and being okay with that.


My NaNoWriMo writing keeps being shifted to the back burner and I end up too tired to do it at night or forgetting about it all together. So I’m continuing to work on that goal this week.

  • Goal – Write every day this week

I also need to refocus myself on my healthy eating habits and tracking my food through the Weight Watchers app. That priority has slipped a bit between meetings, holidays, and other stuff.

  • Goal – Track my food every day this week and avoid any sugary desserts or treats

In conjunction with the healthy eating, I did manage to work out several times this week but I would have liked to do more.

Monday – Swam 800y + treadmill
Friday – Swam 800y
Saturday – Went for a walk, 9k steps
Sunday – Hot yoga

I did write out my work out plan in my planner, so hopefully that will help me stay committed to the work out routine. The top is the goal for this upcoming week (well, Thursday-Sunday) and the bottom is what I did this past week (Thursday-Sunday).


  • Goal – Stick to the proposed workout schedule that I’ve laid out. Only exception is taking one rest day in the middle of the week — Thursday?

To end this post, I want to end with the closing words that Charlsy uses at the end of her hot yoga class.

I may not be who I ought to be.
I know I’m not all that I want to be.
But I’ve come a long way from who I used to be.
And I won’t give up on becoming who I know I can be!

Onward, ho!

Progress is rarely linear.


Earlier this week as I talked with a professor she offered me a bit of a reality check. I desperately wanted to discuss the development of different types of theatre in a linear manner. I wanted to be able to look at these moments of theatre in a chronological order and be able trace the growth and progress from one moment to the next. She reminded me that history and life don’t work that way. Instead I should focus on the various shifts and changes from one period to the next. As life shifts and changes it progresses forward, but that progression is rarely neat and linear.

But it can be really frustrating to not be able to see how you’re growing or improving. I’ve accepted that a life in academia means that I put in a lot of hard work and often the results aren’t seen right away in any sort of immediate or tangible manner. A friend once commented that perhaps that’s why I’ve chosen hobbies that do offer the chance to see tangible progress. I’d say that while it might not have been a conscious choice on my part, it makes a lot of sense.

A lot of the tasks on my #Project29 list offer the chance to see the progress I’ve made. So I want to work on documenting the ways that I’m improving or developing — from yoga or swimming to the accordion. This week I’ve been practicing the accordion and I “mastered” my first “song”! Considering only two weeks ago my parents brought the accordion to me and I now grasp the basics, I’m pretty satisfied with myself. I don’t know if I’ll end up an accordion virtuoso (ha!) or if I’ll just play with it for fun, but I thought it’d be neat to record myself every so often so I can see how far I’ve come.

So without further ado, here’s my first accordion performance. It’s a classic piece titled, “Batter Up!”

Enjoy! šŸ˜‰

Wednesday Afternoon Adventure

Cross #29 off the list! A couple friends and I went on an afternoon adventure and got ourselves pierced!

After class and teaching we ventured to Bink’s.


Like I mentioned before, my only hesitation was whether or not I could go swimming after I got the piercing. I asked Bink and he said that as long as it was clean or chlorinated water I could go swimming right away and I wouldn’t need to bandage the piercing. So sign me up!

I picked out my jewelry, signed my consent form, and prepared myself!

before… drumroll please!


and after!


The whole experience was quick and mostly painless, although between the piercing and the tattoo I preferred the tattoo.

Anyway, I’m glad I went through with it. I love it! When it came to the jewelry I ended up going with the basic clear gemstone, but I sort of wish I’d gone for the purple gemstone. The fun part is that I can switch it up if I want to, so maybe I’ll do that the line. Bink also asked if I wanted to wear a ring at any point and since I’m not sure, he placed the piercing in a spot that would allow me to switch to a ring down the line.

So that was my fun afternoon adventure with friends!


Trying Not to Break the Streak – A Weekly Recap

I might go get my nosed pierced today? The opportunity presented itself last night when a friend mentioned that she was going with another friend who wanted to get a piercing. She was considering getting her nosed pierced and when I mentioned my desire to do it she said I should join. The other people I was with also told me I should do it! I’m pretty sure I’m going to do it, unless I’m told that I can’t go swimming with it. I’ve been on such a roll with the swimming thing that I don’t want to do something that will prevent me from going. I know myself and if I can get myself into a good rhythm with things, then it’s easy for me to stay on track. But the minute I take a day off or something gets in the way it becomes a challenge for me to get back in gear.

But first, if you missed any posts from the past week here’s a recap:

# 5 & 6 – Committing to Listen
# 17 – The #Project29 Version of NaNoWriMo
#& & 10 – Duathlon Day
# 25 & 29 – #29 – To Pierce or Not to Pierce?
#21 – Why the Accordion?

So looking back on the past week I’m pretty proud of my accomplishments. I’ve been very active and even in just a few weeks I can see the benefits from swimming and yoga. I feel much more relaxed, but also happy with myself for making exercise and mental downtime a priority.

I got hot and sweaty everyday! Here’s my activity for the past week:


Monday – Treadmill for 30 minutes, swam for 35 minutes
Tuesday – Open Flow yoga
Wednesday – Flow+meditation
Thursday – Swam for 40 minutes/800 yards
Friday – Treadmill for 35 minutes, swam for 35 minutes/roughly 650-700 yards
Saturday – Open Flow Yoga
Sunday – Hot Yoga
Monday – Treadmill for 35 minutes, swam for 35 minutes/800 yards.

This is the swim set I’m working on right now. I ordered a book called: The Waterproof Coach: The Waterproof Workout Book for Fitness Swimmers and Triathletes. It’s waterproof and has a mix-and-match set up, so I can customize my own workout. It’s nice to have a plan when I get into the pool. It’s been helping keep me on track and it makes keeping track of the distance I’ve swam a lot easier.


Over the next week I need to continue to make swimming, yoga, and walking a priority. I’m also starting to see how the increased activity is helping my weight loss. I generally have pretty good eating habits, but sometimes they need a reality check. Am I eating out too much? Am I indulging my sweet tooth too often? Are my portions too big? Cutting out processed food and eating a balanced diet is something that I’ve been working on for my entire 20s.

I need to maintain my activity levels this week, but in addition to that I really need to shift my attention a bit to other projects like NaNoWriMo and reading more. I’m struggling with getting in my writing, even thought I’m only trying to write for a total of 20 minutes a day! I know I can do better than that!

I also found some time over the past week to play around with the accordion!


It’s fun using a book that Nain used. In some ways it’s like having her teach me the accordion, even if she isn’t actually here.

The other biggish thing that came up this past week was getting a flat tire on the interstate.


The experience made me realize that I’m a bit helpless when it comes to changing my own tire. So I told my dad that in addition to learning to drive a stick shift (#23), I also want to learn how to change my own tire.

So what are my goals for this upcoming week?

I want to continue to maintain my level of physical activity. I want to actually write for 20 minutes a day for NaNoWriMo. I want to work on establishing my morning routine. I think having a set morning routine will go hand-in-hand with meeting my writing goals.

Committing to Listen

Listen to your body when it speaks to you. Why is this such a hard concept to put into practice?

I tend to override what my body is telling me to do, begging to me do, with whatever my brain thinks is actually the best course of action. Shockingly (or perhaps, not so shockingly) my body happens to be a lot smarter than my brain. If it needs to my body will bring me to a crashing halt, even when my brain is telling me to keep going.

In yoga classes, the teacher with often say to only do a pose if it speaks to you. They’ll suggest to back out of a pose if your body disagrees with it. This idea of listening to our bodies and conversing with them has stuck with me over the past few months of doing yoga on a semi-regular basis.


The older I get the more I realize that my body communicates with me on a regular basis. I’ll get headaches from stress or I’ll feel anxiety in my chest or sometimes I just feel like crap. Usually the way I’m feeling directly correlates to whatever external things are going on in my life.

The other day I stumbled across a blog entry that really hit home. It was titled, “Is commitment the missing piece of the happiness puzzle?” In the blog the author talks about committing to her yoga practice, but then she broadens the discussion out how in our society we are offered so many options that it becomes overwhelming and thus makes it difficult to commit.

This idea of committing or rather having a hard time committing really struck a chord with me. I’m committed to my work and finishing the PhD program. I’m committed to loving and being there for my friends and family. I’m even committed to taking care of Sirius and Charlie. But am I committed to taking care of myself? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Why is it that when life gets stressful the first thing to go out the window is my healthy eating habits and my exercise routine? It seems like one of those things that’s superfluous or a reward, but really it’s the aspect of my life that keeps me grounded and balanced. Exercise and healthy eating habits keep me happy, healthy, and sane.

In the past few weeks I’ve been doing great when it comes to making smart food choices and working out on a regular basis and you know what? I feel great! Sure I’m stressed and I feel a bit guilty that I’m not making as much progress in my work than I’d like, but I don’t have headaches or any of the other physical symptoms of stress.

So my challenge to myself is to work on listening to my body. Next time I feel like I’m too busy to exercise, I need to really look at my time and see if there is something else I can cut from my schedule before I sacrifice my workout time.

And on that note, I’m off to hot yoga!


The #Project29 Version of NaNoWriMo

I’m about six days late to the party, but November kicked off the start of National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriNo.

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The NaNoWriMo project involves writing a 50,000 word novel from scratch in 30 days. While I certainly am no novelist and I don’t really have any aspirations to write a book, I could stand to incorporate daily writing into my life.

Whenever I sit down to write, either for school or pleasure, I tend to get writers block. I become overwhelmed by all the things I want to write about or I feel pressured to write something brilliant.


It’s been suggested to me over and over again that I should do free writing as a way to retrain my brain and get over the writers block. Over the summer I made it a goal to try and do 10 minutes of free writing every morning. It turned out to be a great exercise. I didn’t feel the pressure to write anything in particular, so I ended up writing some great questions and making interesting connections between the books/scholars that I was reading. Yet since the semester started, my free-writing has fallen by the wayside.

Well with November being NaNoWriMo month it seemed like the perfect time to work on another one of my #Project29 tasks and #17 happens to be writing for 10 minutes a day of both personal and scholarly writing.

So my goal for the next month (err November 7th – December 7th) is to actively work on #17. I won’t be posting any of my writing on the blog, although the blog might count for some of the personal writing, but I will be updating on my progress. Wish me luck!

Anyone else participating in NaNoWriMo?

Duathlon Day

I’m pretty proud of myself. I did a “duathlon” this morning.

I woke up and went to the gym first thing! I started by walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I had planned on reading for school, but the book I wanted to read wasn’t on my iPad. I ended up listening to an audio version of a play instead.


After my walk on the treadmill, I went and swam laps!!! I’m still a bit in disbelief that since my swim lessons ended I’ve gone to the pool and swam laps twice on my own. I went on Saturday and swam for 45 minutes and today I went for 35 minutes. I’m definitely much more comfortable in the pool and my endurance is building, but my freestyle still sucks.


When I got home I did some research on triathlon swim distances. I wanted to figure out how many yards I need to be comfortable swimming for a tri.

The pool at the leach is 25 yards, so here is a chart I found online:

1 length = 25 yards (from wall to wall)

2 lengths = 50 yards

4 lengths = 100 yds

¼ mile = about 500 yards = 20 lengths

½ mile = about 800 yards = 32 lengths

1 mile = about 1700 yards = 68 lengths

1.2 miles = about 2000 yards = 80 lengths

2.4 miles = about 4000 yards = 160 lengths

The three triathlons that I’m looking at are:

  • Escape from Ft. Desoto // April – Swim .5 miles (800 yards), Bike 10 miles, Run 3.4 miles
  • Top Gun Triathlon // July – Swim 440 yards, Bike 10 miles, Run 3.1 miles
  • Lycra & Lace Women’s Triathlon at Ft. Desoto // October – Swim .25 miles (500 yards) / Bike 10 miles / Run 3.1 miles

I think I should be comfortable swimming 1000-1200 yards before I do a triathlon, which would be a bit more than the Escape from Ft. Desoto tri and at least twice the distance of the other two races. Now I just need to figure out how to keep track of my laps as I swim. Ha.

Anyway, later in the day I took Sirius for a walk and met my 10,000 step goal for the day!


Workout-wise it was a very productive day! Work wise… it was a bit eh. As Anne of Green Gables says, tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.

Goodnight all!

#29 – To Pierce or Not to Pierce?

It’s November and I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do about #29 on my list. I’ve been toying with two different ideas — joining a kickball team or getting my nosed pierced.

The idea of getting my nose pierced is something I’ve thought about and vaguely wanted to do for years now. In the past I’ve joked that I’d go wild when I was old and dye my hair crazy colors and pierce my nose. I might have thrown getting a tattoo in there, but I can’t remember. Anyway, as I approach 30 I realize that I’ve already gotten a tattoo, I’ve started dying my hair purple, and so why not just pierce my nose?


[Demi Lovato with a pierced nose]

My hesitation comes from worrying about what other people might think, which I know is ridiculous. I’m not even sure I can articulate it, but I’m afraid that other people might see me differently or judge me based on a nose piercing. I also tend to think that other people (and perhaps myself included) view me as being more reserved and conservative than I really am. I think my outer appearance and how I present myself to people is out-of-sync with who I really am. As I write out this post I realize that if I want to pierce my nose then I should do it. Why would I stop myself from doing something that I want just because I’m afraid of what others might think? Like I said in my accordion post, part of #Project29 is all about bettering myself and embracing the idea of doing what I want to do and not worrying about the judgment of others.

Honestly would it matter if I pierced my nose? Probably not. It’d be a little stud in my nose, not something big or flashy. It’s a piercing so if I changed my mind and regretted the decision I could always take it out and let it heal up. And I’m in a field where fun colored hair, tattoos, and piercings really aren’t a big deal.

I was talking to a woman the other day who’s in a field where she needs to look business-professional and I noticed her nose was pierced. We got to talking and apparently her husband and son called her bluff on wanting to get her nosed pierced by getting her a gift certificate to a piercing place in town. It turns out that she did it back in January and she doesn’t regret it at all. She’s also probably 10-15 years older than me, so it’s not like there’s an age limit on these sorts of things. As we wrapped up our conversation she gave me the name of a piercing place in town that is staffed by RNs and she assured me they were hygienic and responsible.

So I think I’m going to hesitantly write down piercing my nose for #29 on the list.

Now to think about the other contender for #29, joining a kickball team.

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There’s an adult social kickball league in town and I’ve had several friends play on it. They’ve had nothing but good things to say. I actually debated joining in the past fall and asked a friend if I should and he said that without a doubt yes I should join! Well with comps and all, I missed the window to sign up.

But now that I have #Project29 on the brain, I definitely think I should sign up. I’ve never been on any sort of organized sports team and just the idea of playing in a team sport sounds terrifying, so obviously I need to do it. I’ve also heard that it’s a great way to meet young professionals and people outside of my usual grad school circles. A step outside my comfort zone AND the chance to meet new people — sign me up!

Since I’m [tentatively] adding piercing my nose to the list as #29, I think I want to scratch one of my previous items off the list. The most likely item to go is #25 – Watch 29 of the AFI’s greatest american movies of all time. While I still want to watch those movies, joining a kickball team will be more of a person challenge with a potentially much greater reward.

Hooray! I’m pretty sure the list is now complete.

Why the Accordion?

The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, but I’m just gonna shake it off, shake it off and play the accordion!


I told my sister about my plan to learn the accordion she responded with true sisterly support, ha. She said, “Is the accordion that thing that goes back and forth and plays awful music, like polka?” Then she followed up by saying that I should send her lots of videos of me playing so she can endlessly mock me.

My mom asked me if I was *sure* I wanted to learn the accordion. Wouldn’t I rather learn the guitar or something more modern? The funny thing is that she is the one who suggested I play an instrument for #Project29. She actually suggested that I take up the piano again. I started playing piano when I was seven after Nain (the Welsh word for grandmother) died. She tried to teach me when I was a kid, but of course I didn’t have the interest or patience to learn at the time. Then when she died I decided that I wanted to learn. I play for 10 years before I gave it up in high school. So while I loved my mom’s suggestion to take up the piano again, I knew I would want to do it on my own piano and my house isn’t big enough to accommodate it.


So why choose the accordion? Well, much like how Nain tried to teach me the piano, she also tried to teach my dad to play the accordion. She was a music teacher and taught between 30-40 students out of her basement. She played the piano, organ, and accordion.


I like the idea of learning to play the accordion because of the family connection. I can carry on the family tradition of playing. šŸ˜‰ I’m also doing this for #Project29, which means I’m doing this for me and no one else. I don’t really want to perform for other people, so I don’t really care that the accordion is an antiquated instrument or might seem like an odd choice. It’s for me and no one else. šŸ™‚


Also, the nerd in me wonders if I can tap into some repertory knowledge a la Diana Taylor to help me in the learning process. If you want to nerd out on some performance studies theory, check this article out that explains the concept of the archive and the repertoire.

At least Charlie approves of my decision!


Anyway, bring on the haters because I’m gonna play the accordion!

Freestylin’ in the Pool

Step one: Overcome fear of going to the pool.
Step two: Actually get in the pool.
Step three: Become a freestylin’ baller in the pool!


Yesterday I graduated from my adult beginner swim lessons! The class was super basic (and I don’t mean that in the basic bitch sort of way). For instance, there were some people who’d never been in the pool before. I’m sure it was way below my level, but it was also nice to start from scratch. I got to review all the basics. We covered kick board, freestyle, breast stroke, back stroke, and tonight we learned flip turns! The two instructors both commented that I’d made a lot of improvement on my form and I’ve learned everything that I could. I’m pretty sure if this was the YMCA I would have earned the flying fish patch.


Although getting myself to the pool in the first place seemed like a huge hurdle, the challenge now becomes establishing a regular swimming routine. I need to commit myself to going at least two-three times a week. I actually really enjoy the workout and I find it very challenging in a satisfying sort of way. My entire body ends up exhausted and at the end of the workout I really feel like I pushed myself. My endurance has already improved a lot since I started. When I first started the lessons I was startled by the fact that I was so winded after just one lap, but now I am less winded and can do more laps before I need to take a break.

Also, I’ve discovered that swimming turns out to be a great workout for weight loss and toning muscles, both things my fitness routine desperately needs!

I decided that I’m going to reward myself with a new swimsuit if I swim two days a week for a month. There’s rumors that doing something for a month establishes it as a habit, so I figure if I can swim twice a week for a month it’ll become a habit. And then I’ll let myself get a new swimsuit!


At this point, I’d say that I’m halfway to establishing my goal of learning how to swim and making swimming a part of my fitness routine. So what now?


My next goal: I want to be able to do freestyle non-stop for 200 yards while incorporating the flip turn.

Right now that seems like a huge challenge, but I’m hoping in a few weeks or months it will be easy-peasy.