Week Three: Things I Am Good At

This one is difficult! I think about the things that make up the most significant portion of my life, and I struggle to find things I am good at without following with “but” or “even though.”   I am good at making bread even though I am terrible at baking. I struggled to create this list, but I managed to build it.

  1. Being organized. I am ridiculously organized. I can elaborate, but that would make for boring writing. Trust me, I am fabulous at organizing.
  2. Planning and time management. I am a self-proclaimed “pre-crastinator.” I get things done, and I get them done as soon as possible. My entire school year is planned before well before the first day of school, sometimes before the last day of the previous school year. My clothes are planned for the week. Knowing where things are going is one of the easiest ways for me to control my anxiety.

    New Planner Day is one of my favorites!
  3. Setting goals. I often tell Liam that he is not allowed to merely complain. If he doesn’t like something, he needs to either do something about it or accept it. At this point, he finishes complaints by saying he will practice. “I’m not as good at drawing circles as my other friends… I know, I know, I need to practice.” If there is something I want to be able to do, I try to create a plan to make it happen.
  4. Teaching. Teaching is the career I chose at the age of twelve when Mr. Eccelston cemented my love of reading and writing. It was then I decided I wanted to do exactly what he does. I consider myself fortunate that I knew at a young age what I wanted to do with my life. While the road to teaching was a long and winding one, I am thankful life took me down the path it did. After fourteen years, teaching is still something I enjoy. I feel I truly make a difference.                                                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Liam was younger, he had all the self-confidence in the world. As he gets older, he is beginning to doubt himself, which is sad to watch. I asked him what he thinks he is good at and he, too, struggled to think of real, noteworthy items to put on his list.

  1. Hanging and pull-ups. He just learned to do pull-ups and is very proud of himself, doing them from the swingset and the pull-up bar in our house as often as possible.
  2. Reading. Liam loves to read! He will read just about anything he can get his hands on: magazines, fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels. Right now, he’s devouring the Dog Man and Minecraft series. I love that he loves to read and I love his confidence regarding his ability to do so.
  3.      
  4. Playing outside instead of sitting in front of the TV. I was surprised to head Liam state this one because, like most kids, the struggle to balance screen time is real. Once he said it, I noticed that I can’t remember the last time he even turned on his tablet. He’s been reading his books. He and I had a Saturday morning date. After our classes at Laid-Back Fitness, we went to a new coffee shop then headed to the used bookstore. Liam loves roaming the isles and looking at all of the books. Because we came home with a shopping bag full of books, he has been focused on those over Minecraft and other games on his tablet. The weather has been so beautiful this week that we have been spending a lot of time outside. I’m thankful that he is conscious of his good decisions.

52 Lists for Happiness

I stumbled across a blog mentioning the book 52 Lists for Happiness. The writer is posting entries weekly on her blog. I liked the idea so much that I immediately ordered the book myself and decided to try to follow suit. The next year is bringing a lot of changes, so it seems like a perfect time to prioritize and search for happiness.  I’ve decided to use this exercise as an opportunity to get ideas from Liam as well.  We walk Banjo twice a day, allowing plenty of time for discussions.  These walks are some of my favorite times, even when Liam talks my ear off about Zelda or Minecraft. I’d love to ask Liam to create as many of these lists as possible and share them with him when he gets older.

Week one is pretty straightforward: List what is making you happy.

Mike and Liam: They’re both such great people! I am truly blessed.

Spring: Finally! We will soon be complaining about the heat and humidity, but for now, let’s enjoy the warm weather, open windows, and longer days. This is the first week Liam and I didn’t have to bundle up during our morning walks. Last night, we ate dinner outside. It is such a welcome change!

My friends: Without them, I would never have signed up for a half-marathon, nevermind been excited about it! My friends keep me laughing and trying to be a better person! What more could one ask for?

Fitness Challenges: Last weekend was the half-marathon. I’m also participating in a challenge through Laid-Back Fitness. I’m interested to see how my body changes when I focus on strength over cardio.

And from Liam:

Banjo

Going for walks with Banjo

Playing with Banjo (Do you see a theme?)

You and Dad

Harry Potter

Making my First Communion

I love the idea of focusing on the positive things in our lives. While the next few months will bring a lot of changes, there are a lot of great things going on in all of our lives. Perspective helps keep us all finding the positive things happening in our lives.

My Favorite Audiobooks

When I visited California, ran each night along the Sanfranciso Bay Path, listening to Hamilton as I completed my evening runs (to In and Out Burger). By the time I joined BRG, the Hamilton Mixtape had provided the soundtrack for my runs. Those two albums remind of times I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried new things, both with life-changing results.

The week before the Gaspee Days 5k, I put together a Spotify playlist titled “Run Run Run,” filled with guilty pleasure tunes to get me through my first race as a “real runner.” As I continued my running, I added to the playlist but found that the playlist didn’t always match my mood and finding other playlists on Spotify. This was great until I started going over my data usage each month. When I attempted one of my first longer runs, I purchased an audiobook to try during the run. I was hooked! I often borrow audiobooks on CD from the library, to listen to on my ride to work. However, changing CDs and carrying a CD player during runs did not sound enjoyable.  Audiobooks are expensive and I am cheap. Before signing up for a trial of Audible, I downloaded the OverDrive app from the library.

OverDrive allows you to borrow audiobooks for free. You can download the books, allowing you to listen without eating all of your precious data. It isn’t perfect. There are often long hold lines for popular books and you cannot renew books, something I often do when borrowing books on CD. However, I have never had an issue finding a book that I enjoyed. If I find myself getting close to the end of the two-week borrowing cycle, I listen to the book at a faster speed to ensure I complete it on time.

I have the best intentions to read more. Each year, I set a goal and track it using the Goodreads app, coming two books shy of last year’s goal of twenty-five books. This year, I have already “read” fifteen books in 2018, a mix of real books and audiobooks.

In my months of listening to audiobooks during long runs, I find myself preferring non-fiction and autobiographies over fiction. I also find myself listening to cheesy, celebrity autobiographies at an alarming rate. Here are a few of my favorite audiobooks:

A Man Called Ove

 

Last spring, I trudged through My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. I finished it over an extended period of time and didn’t love it. Hearing praise for A Man Called Ove, I decided to give Fredrik Backman another try. I loved this book! It tells the story of Ove, a crotchety old man, and his neighbors who insist on including him in their lives. I enjoyed the flashbacks explaining how Ove became his grumpy, particular self. I’ve heard rumors about it becoming a film; I would love to see this!

Yes, My Accent is Real and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You 

 

I love The Big Bang Theory. At the recommendation of a friend, I found this book. I enjoyed hearing Kunal Nayyar discuss growing up in India and coming to the United States as a college student. My favorite passages were the ones in which he discusses his relationship with his father. I found myself wanting to spend time with his dad more than Kunal himself. Not that Kunal is at all offputting; his father offers him sage advice at pivotal times in his life.

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and be Your Own Person

I have never watched a single episode of any of Shonda Rhimes’ shows, not because they do not interest me. I’ve missed her shows because they start at 9:00 and 10:00, a time I am already in bed asleep. By the time I’d hear how great a show was, I was already several seasons late to the party and never got around to tuning in. Year of Yes follows Shonda’s pledge to say “Yes” to every opportunity offered to her. I finished this book wishing to be her friend. I enjoyed her positivity, her appreciation for her life, and her notes on balancing work, motherhood, self-care, and adult relationships.

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

As someone who often admits that if I had history teachers as amazing as my English teachers, I probably would have become a history teacher, I thought I knew about my country’s history. This book enlightened me to a lot of things I did not know about the beginnings of America. It definitely made some of my longer runs go by quickly!

 

 

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

 

Samantha Irby managed to leave me speechless! I loved this collection of essays about dating, work, and family. She is unapologetically honest, leading to hilarious one-liners that I would often repeat. This is the book I’ve recommended to every friend I know can handle Irby’s antics. From discussions about disastrous dates, her love/hate relationship with her cat, to adapting her friends who now have kids, We are Never Meeting in Real Life is a surprise that got me through a few great runs, even getting me to run longer at times because I wanted to hear how stories end.