When it comes to gardening, most people tend to imagine older ladies in large-brimmed hats tending to flowerbeds outside their sprawling suburban homes. (At least, that’s what I think of.) So when my boyfriend and I started a backyard garden during our very first spring out of university, we were met with some surprise. Now that we’re into our third season of growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs, we can’t recommend it highly enough to other twenty-somethings! In fact, it seems that millennial gardeners are becoming a bit of a trend. (Finally, something millennials aren’t killing…) Here are five reasons why gardening in your twenties is a definite must-do. Continue reading
Imagine this: you’re at one of your go-to restaurants. You take a look at the menu and skim past your usual favourites because tonight, you want to try something new. You order something you’ve never tried before. And as you’re waiting for your food to arrive, someone at the table next to you receives something that looks (and smells) fantastic. Immediately, you’re thinking that you wish you’d ordered what they did. Finally, when your meal arrives, you take a bite – and it’s simply not as delicious as what you imagine your neighbour’s meal tastes like. Now you’re regretting your dining decision entirely. This phenomenon is what I like to call Eating Out FOMO. Continue reading
About a year ago, I published a blog post entitled “3 Reasons Hiking is my Favourite Hobby for Exercise”. I provided those three reasons: a clear goal to achieve, no expectations about fitness levels, and the chance to experience the great outdoors. But I’ll tell you a secret, friends. Sure, I love hiking and its many benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. But the only reason it was my favourite hobby for exercise at the time was the second one on the list. I was afraid to try anything else because of judgment, both from others and myself. I was held back by my fitness fears. Continue reading
You may have heard of Yoga with Adriene. It’s a YouTube channel with around 2 million followers (at the time of writing) led by quirky, lovable yoga powerhouse Adriene Mishler. (Maybe you’ve read my two previous posts on the subject, here or here? Check these out if you’re curious about my experiences so far.) If you’ve heard of Adriene, then you’ll definitely know about the 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene challenges. They’re guided video practices released daily in January for the past three years.
Each series is available for free on YouTube, and contains 30 (or 31) videos at 15-45 minutes in length. If you sign up on the website, you’ll also receive a daily message to supplement the practice of the day. In January 2015, there was the original 30 Days of Yoga, and in 2016, Adriene released the sequel, 30 Days of Yoga Camp. This year’s series, Yoga Revolution, wrapped up this past week. I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed this year’s practice, but I’m finding that each one is unique, fun, and invigorating in its own way.
Why a 30 day experience? While it’s awesome to practice yoga wherever and whenever it fits into your life, a daily practice provides great structure for growth. This was true for me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Adriene gets into some of this in the intro video for her first series, 30 Days of Yoga:
So what if you’ve just found out about Yoga with Adriene, and want to begin a month-long yoga journey? Should you choose 30 Days of Yoga (2015), Yoga Camp (2016), or Yoga Revolution (2017)?
Naturally, I (and Adriene, I’m sure) would recommend all three — probably in chronological order. But perhaps you’re looking for a particular type of yoga challenge. If that’s the case, I want to provide you with some context and insight to help you choose, based on my own experiences with these three 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene series.
If You’re New to Yoga
My recommendation for newcomers would be the original 30 Days of Yoga. Adriene’s guidance is very clear and informative in this series — but don’t worry, there’s lots of fun and silliness along the way. There’s also a natural progression of difficulty throughout the series. As a relative newbie myself, I found the earlier videos helped me build strength and mindfulness to prepare me for the rest of the series.
If You’re Looking for a Physical Challenge
Is yoga your workout of choice? Awesome! I’d recommend Yoga Camp. I found this series to be the most physically demanding of the three. Like the first challenge, this sequel series provides a ramp up to the more challenging videos. Adriene provides opportunities to practice new, more difficult poses, but also offers modifications as you work towards them.
If You’re Seeking a Journey of Self-Love
Committing to any yoga experience is an act of self-love, but if your ultimate goal is an emotional experience, then Yoga Revolution is for you. This series is the embodiment of Yoga With Adriene’s slogan/mantra, “Find What Feels Good”. The focus is much more on mindfulness, positivity, and “tapping into your inner smile” than the other two 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene experiences.
If You Want a Consistent Practice
Maybe you’re having trouble sticking to those New Year’s Resolutions. (It is February, after all.) If you’re looking to make yoga a daily ritual to carry you into the rest of the year, I’d suggest starting out with 30 Days of Yoga. I found this series to be the most consistent in terms of style and length. The day-to-day cadence of difficulty and focus was also more predictable in this series. This made it easier to fit yoga into my daily schedule. And after these particular 30 days of yoga with Adriene, I felt the most prepared to continue my home practice without YouTube video guidance.
If You’re Looking for Something New
After practicing for a while in a highly structured public yoga class (or the same old YouTube videos), things can start to get stale. Yoga Camp and Yoga Revolution will help you step out of your yoga comfort zone, in slightly different ways. Yoga Camp focuses on the link between mind and body, using mantras to channel energy and breath throughout both gentle and challenging sequences. I found Yoga Revolution to be a bit more instructive, as Adriene discussed alignment, energy, and chakras, for example, throughout the series. Both experiences incorporate a bit of Kundalini Yoga as well, which was new for me, and might be new for you.
I hope these considerations help you Find What Feels Good — whether that’s 30 Days of Yoga, Yoga Camp, or Yoga Revolution! If you’d like, take the next three months and do all three 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene series! Let me know which one(s) you choose! 🙂
I signed up for Tone It Up last week. I’ve been following the daily workouts for seven days now. And I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.
Okay, let me provide some background here.
Exercise has never been a priority of mine. Unlike many young professionals, I’m not saying that I “fell off the wagon” when I graduated. I was never on the wagon to begin with. In fact, here’s a rundown of my fitness history:
- Took ballet at the age of five. Was horrible. Never went back.
- Passed swimming lessons up to Level 12, when they had that — basically, the one before official lifeguard training — then stopped. Never went back.
- Tried out for exactly zero sports in high school.
- Stopped taking gym class after Grade Nine. (Swapped it out for science or music courses…)
- Basically hated all things related to exercise.
Recently, I’ve participated in Zumba, done some hiking, and practiced yoga (including some month-long challenges). I even did a bit of circuit training, sort of… But the frequency and/or intensity of these activities don’t constitute a healthy lifestyle by anyone’s standards, including my own.
So I realized recently that it’s probably in my best interest to take care of my body. You know, so I can live longer, feel better, not get winded when I go up a flight of stairs… That kind of thing. Plus, I want to avoid a midlife epiphany that getting in shape would have been so much easier if I had only started earlier. Right now, for example.
Except I’m not the type of person that can motivate myself to do something brand new, and then commit to it from the get-go. Plus, gyms are scary for newbies like me. Like I said, I really don’t know what I’m doing.
Enter Tone It Up.
If you haven’t heard of it, Tone It Up (or TIU) is a website, a YouTube channel, and a massive social media presence run by Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott, two (extremely) peppy fitness trainers. Their site has workouts, recipes, an online store, and a community forum. The Tone It Up videos are pretty tough for me, though it’s clear how to modify the difficulty up or down with weights, duration, etc. They are also bright, musical, beach-y, and usually very feminine. A decent portion of their videos and a few of their recipes are available for free, but their famous “Nutrition Plan” and video series are for sale in the shop. So far, I haven’t personally purchased anything from TIU.
I’ll post a bit later on why I chose this program over the countless others out there, but here’s a quick update on how it’s going.
I’ve probably exercised more this week than ever before. (That’s not saying much… but still!) Everything on me has been sore at some point. I haven’t bought into the social media component yet, and I think that will be a long time coming. I’m getting used to waking up early to complete at least some of the daily workout first thing in the morning. That’s one of the requirements, known as the “Bootycall”. Also, I have never heard or used the word “booty” as often in my entire life — and it’s getting kind of weird, to be honest.
Will I stick with it? No idea. The ultimate goal of this experience for me is to normalize exercise in my everyday life. Having a video series and daily challenges gives it some structure and external motivation, which is helpful in this (very) early stage!
How do you stay fit — or get fit in the first place?
Last year, Joe and I celebrated our first Christmas away from home. We knew it would be a very different experience from celebrating with our families, and it was! There were traditions to leave behind and compromises to make. But the best part was having the opportunity to make new Christmas traditions for us as a couple. Some things we’ve “stolen” from our families, while others we’ve begun all on our own.
We’re both fortunate to have always had a real tree in our house at Christmastime, but my family has always chosen a pre-cut tree. While the process of choosing the perfect tree hanging from a barn ceiling can be fun, it’s nowhere near as rewarding as trudging through the snow and cutting down a tree for our own. When it came time to choose
This year and last, Joe and I have gone to Clembrook Christmas Farm in Milton, just south of Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area, to pick out our Christmas tree. And both years, we’ve been very happy with the result — especially after spending time and energy to find it ourselves. It’s worth it!
Sending Personalized Christmas Cards
These days, when everyone is inundated with email and social media, it’s always nice to receive mail once in a while. Joe and I hopped on the Christmas card bandwagon to break up the monotony of online-only season’s greetings. We simply take a photo we want to send, use Staples’ online Print and Copy Centre to create a card, and have a set of them printed in store.
Last year, we took a “family photo” of the three of us to send to our relatives in a Christmas card. This year, only Lorelai is featured in our cards, looking adorable as always. (I won’t spoil it since we haven’t sent them out quite yet!)
Growing up, Joe and I both had your standard chocolate advent calendars every December leading up to Christmas day. Every kid’s dream, right? But eventually, the joy and surprise of a new chocolate shape every day wears off (and the guilt of eating chocolate in the morning sets in…). So this year, we wanted to find something exciting to get us pumped for the holidays. And what better way to get warm and cozy in December than drinking copious amounts of tea?
I’ve become a more adventurous tea drinker in recent months, and now I love trying teas and finding new favourites. This year, we bought the DAVIDsTEA “24 Days of Tea” advent calendar. It comes with 24 (duh) teas in tiny tins, stored away in little cardboard drawers. Each day, you get to surprise yourself with a new flavour of tea! So far, we’re really enjoying the experience, and all of the teas we’ve tried. Plus, it’s giving us a mandate to slow down and have some tea and quiet time every evening.
What Christmas traditions are most important to you this holiday season?
I have a terrible memory.
When I was a kid, I received lots of praise for my memory. But this was solely because I memorized “In Flanders Fields” and recited it to my church on Remembrance Day in the second grade. From then on, my family and family friends had it in their heads that my memory was spectacular. Whether or not it was true then, it definitely isn’t true now.
Sure, I can remember basic facts and concepts. I’ve memorized pretty much every intelligible song lyric on KiSS 92.5 (because they’re set to music and repeated fifty times a day). I’ve got close relatives’ birthdays and other important dates in my head. But my long-term memories are spotty at best, and they tend to be visual memories of “scenes” in my head, rather than facts and stories. And when it comes to recalling something I’ve seen, read, heard, or even experienced recently, I’m totally useless.
It takes a lot of effort to move random data from my working memory to my short-term memory. I’m often busy, tired, or indifferent, so many of the things I hear or see don’t make it into short-term. And if they don’t make it to short-term memory, they definitely won’t make it into the long-term. Numbers and equations are awful for this. (Even worse: remembering to remember something — hence my tendency to abandon or lose important items that I need to have with me.)
It’s much easier to store information that has a context or a meaning.
Knowing why something is true helps me to recall what is true in the first place. In my academic life, if I had an understanding of a physics concept, I would be much more likely to remember the equation that models it. Its components and structure would just make sense. And in the worst case scenario, if I forgot the equation altogether, I could use what I do know to figure out what the equation should be.
Between memorization and understanding, I am of the opinion that the latter is much more flexible, helpful, and indicative of intelligence and subject mastery. It’s why I went out of my way to avoid school subjects that required straight memorization, such as biology or history. And given my memory struggles, I believe that grinding doubly hard to memorize is nowhere near as useful for me as developing a thorough understanding of a subject, and working out the “memorizable” facts from there.
Maybe you’re a natural memorizer, and therefore you disagree. More power to you! But I maintain that it’s important for you to have context for the facts and figures you memorize.
The problem, in my opinion, is that a fact recalled is often more revered than a concept understood.
For example, why was it so impressive that I had memorized a poem? Did I understand the poem, its context, and its depth? I highly doubt it. (Though I don’t remember. Hah!) Perhaps people assume that in order to memorize something complex, you must also understand it. But most people who took biology in high school would disagree. There may be a correlation, but it’s definitely not consistent.
I hate when we judge expertise on memory, rather than on understanding. You may have both, but you may also have only one or the other. There are fields and areas of life in which both are mandatory, and that’s understandable. But I’m not likely to focus my time and energy in those fields. I acknowledge the benefits of strengthening and improving your memory, but I also don’t expect myself to be able to recite the Periodic Table (or something relevant to my life now) anytime soon. When it comes to expanding your expertise, I think it’s more important to understand the concepts, then go from there.
“I want to oppose the idea that the school has to teach directly that special knowledge and those accomplishments which one has to use later directly in life. The demands of life are much too manifold to let such a specialized training in school appear possible […] The development of general ability for independent thinking and judgement should always be placed foremost.”
— Albert Einstein
For some tips on managing a poor memory at work, check out this post!
How do you balance memory and understanding in your areas of expertise?
Yesterday I finally — finally — finished the National Novel Writing Month! In a previous post I mentioned that this year’s 50,000-word challenge has been a slog, so I’m pretty glad to be done. Writing (the first draft of) a book in a month is a fun, difficult, and rewarding feat, and you’ll go through all sorts of highs and lows before you finish NaNoWriMo. After completing this challenge seven times now, I’ve found that there are many ways you might feel when you get to the end of the month and cross that glorious finish line. I’ll let you guess which thoughts are true for me this year!
- Yes! My fifty thousand words are complete! It’s party time!
- Whew, I need a nap. A long nap. And maybe some coffee.
- Actually, scratch the coffee. I’ve had enough of that already this month.
- This is so awesome. I wrote a book. A book! An actual, 50,000 word book!
- Wow, think of all the fun things I have time for now that I’m done this book…
- Oh gosh, this writing is awful. My plot is full of holes, my characters are one dimensional, and the grammar… Ugh! I have so much editing to do. How did I ignore all of this?
- I don’t need to edit yet — editing is for December! Time to decorate the house for the holidays, snuggle up under a blanket, and maybe think about editing. Just maybe.
- Oo, winner goodies! Should I buy a winner t-shirt? Stickers? Posters? Should I donate (again)?
- Wow, NaNoWriMo really knocked the wind out of me. Going to sleep now. Never writing again.
- Hmm… What am I going to write next year?
As we head into the last few days of November, what thoughts are running through your head? Comment below when you finish NaNoWriMo, no matter what your word count might be!
(a.k.a. “Do As I Say, Not As I Do: The NaNoWriMo Edition”)
Hello, friends. This post is going to be short and sweet because, well, I’m supposed to be writing.
If you’re not the writerly sort, then I hope your November is going well. But if you’re participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) with me and have just wrapped up the dreaded Week 2, then I salute you.
My novel-writing experience is not going well this year, and it’s partly because I haven’t been taking my own advice, which I shared with you all in this post on the first day of NaNo. I have been taking days off, not planning ahead at all, and have yet to attend a write-in hosted by my local region. As of this moment, I’m 5000 words behind. My motivation level to catch up is basically zero.
One of the toughest things about keeping on task this year is that I’m writing my novel on a Chromebook. I purchased it for myself for my birthday back in September. It’s small and portable, and perfect for writing — or so I thought. The problem is that my only option for word processing, essentially, is Google Drive. That means that my Chrome browser is open all the time. So the second my mind wanders from my novel, suddenly everything is open: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Bloglovin’… the works. It’s bad, guys. I might have to reevaluate my writing strategy.
However! I had an epiphany this afternoon that came to me in a dream while napping. I finally have some sense about how my book is going to end, and how I’m going to get my characters there. Here’s hoping this new direction will help me to stay focused and get this done.
Now I need to go write. Thanks for stopping by!
Whether or not you’re in the NaNoWriMo trenches with me, how’s your November going?
Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends! It’s a sunny and beautiful, albeit chilly, day here in the GTA. Once this post is complete, I’ll be heading out with Joe to a local conservation area for a hike and some fall colour sightseeing. But I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the things I’m thankful for this weekend. There’s so much to celebrate!
I’m thankful for the basics: the things we tend to take for granted.
It’s easy to jump right into the luxuries when considering the best parts of our lives. I know it’s important, though, to acknowledge and be grateful for those simple things that not everyone in this world may have. I’m explicitly thankful today that I have food, shelter, safety, the ability to use my body and my mind, and the freedom to express my opinions and strive for my goals. Obviously that doesn’t nearly cover it, but I want to ensure that I take time to ponder these today.
I’m thankful for my current living situation.
I’m very lucky at this time of my life to have an affordable, sufficient, and convenient living space; a supportive, intelligent, and loving partner; a playful and adorable fur baby; and a challenging and engaging start to my career. I don’t know what the next year will bring, but I’m hoping that all of these things will still be true next Thanksgiving!
I’m thankful that the Blue Jays defeated Texas and are moving on to the ALCS!
Yes, I’ve hopped on the Blue Jay Bandwagon. I’m not a sports person, and I’m especially not a baseball person. It’s slow and boring and kind of confusing! But I love how the current success of the Toronto Blue Jays is bringing people together. There is a distinct positive energy in the air at work when my office livestreams the post-season games. And last night, at Thanksgiving dinner, freaking out with my parents and my aunts and uncles at every good play (in their matching team jerseys, no less) was an awesome bonding experience. Here’s hoping they dominate the next round!
I’m thankful for this blog.
Being able to express my opinions and share my experiences by taking advantage of the technology available to us these days is a pretty extraordinary gift. Thanks for joining me on the journey!
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?