Wednesday, December 31

My Goals for 2015

This has been one hell of a year, folks. I've had one of the best years of my life - working hard in school, learning how to be a (kind of) real life lawyer, getting to see J more often, getting engaged, going to Vegas for the first time, living with both my cats again, finding an amazing roommate, and spending lots of time with my family!

At the same time, I'm really excited to jump headfirst into 2015... not that I have a choice, haha. It's going to be another difficult and stressful year, but this year is the year that J will graduate, move to New Hampshire with me, and I'll have my first law job in Concord! I'll also become a 3L this year, which is WILD!

Some people don't like making resolutions, but it's one of my favorite things to do! I love new ideas and organizing my life, so resolutions or goals are kind of my thing. :) So, check out my goals for 2015!

  • Start a new 12x12 project
I loved doing my 12x12 project SO much this last year, and I couldn't wait to do it again this year! However, with one significant twist - I can read whatever 12+ books I want to! I had to change the rules this year for my own sanity. I get really, really attached to book characters. Maybe this seems super nerdy to you, but I developed a strong attachment to Anne of Green Gables, and when I don't read the book enough, I miss her like I miss a friend. Same thing with Harry Potter. And the Watership Down rabbits, haha. I miss my literary friends, so I needed to do something this year where I still challenge myself to read, but I have the option of reading those books for my soul! I'm hoping to read a few I haven't before, and I'll still be posting about the books I read, like I did this year!

  • Notice when I'm gossiping
True story: I hate gossiping and I feel like shit whenever I do it... and sometimes I find myself still doing it. This year, I really want to notice when I'm gossiping. I really think that when I notice I'm doing it, it'll be easier to stop myself from doing it. After all, accepting that you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right?

  • 30x30 yoga project
I want to start a yoga project for myself sometime this year where I do 30+ minutes of yoga once a day for 30 days in a row! Partially this is a physical health-related goal, but it's also a soul-related and mental one - I want to see how I change during those 30 days, or if I do at all! It's no secret that I love yoga, and I would love to really work on my practice this year. During this project, I would do yoga every day for 30 days, and post (either every day, a few times a week, or once a week, depending on the factors of that particular month) about my experiences.

  • Give away 200 things
This is something I've done for the past two years, and something I think is really important to do. I throw out things that are perishable or gross, and donate everything I can. This project is good for assessing the things (in my closet, for instance) I really love and need in my life, and letting go of the things that are no longer serving me or are needed more elsewhere!

  • Have a law school book club meeting
I half-started a ladies' law school book club last year with the goal being to read more and drink more wine, and naturally we never chose a book or met. Thankfully, my friend Christina is an uber-babe and jump started us (or at least her and me) a few days ago, so what I really want to do is actually participate and have a meeting! We've already chosen our first book (Not That Kind of Girl) and I can't wait to talk with her about it! :)

  • Make blogging calendars each month
One thing that I learned from A Beautiful Mess's Blog Life was that blogging is immensely easier when I actually make a schedule of what I'm going to post and when. It's easier to write when you're excited about what's to come, and it's so much more helpful to keep on track! Last year, I starting scheduling around this summer, but fell off the wagon during the school year. I've already scheduled January and February, and I'm really going to try to keep up this year!

  • Find and cook two or more recipes each month
I'm a creature of habit, which means I'm really good at (and happy) cooking the same three recipes over and over again, haha. They're super healthy, mostly vegetarian, or easily made vegetarian. And moreso, they're super easy to make... but I'd really love to expend the recipes that I know by heart and teach myself a few more classics! I have about ten cookbooks at home that I literally NEVER use, which is so sad! Why have cookbooks if you're not going to use them, you know? I also got J two cookbooks for Christmas, and I'm hoping he finds a use for them!

  • Make my bed every day
I'd like to start making my bed every day a habit. Even if my room's a mess, I think I would feel better coming home after school every day to a clean bed. Plus I've heard people have better and more productive days if they make their beds in the morning. No idea if that's true or not, but I'm going to find out for myself!

  • Physical fitness goals
I have a great gym membership that I don't use nearly enough, so one of my big goals for the next year is to do morning workouts five times a week at the gym when I'm in Concord! It's an ambitious goal for me, but something I really, really care about doing. I already eat healthy 90% of the time, and I would really love to get out some of that law school stress at the gym and tone myself up more than I am now. Plus, I have 8:00AM or 8:30AM classes Monday through Friday this coming semester, so it's not like I have the option of sleeping in anyway. I'm a morning person, so I might as well make use of it!

I don't want to wear myself out and the last thing I want is to start an unhealthy habit, so my goals here are just that - goals. I'm not going to beat myself if I don't go to the gym all the time or don't quite meet my  goals. I just want to give myself more of a balanced life, and I think these fitness/physical health goals will be really good for me!

  • Reward myself when I reach my goals!
This is something I'm super excited about too, even though it's more of a promise to myself than anything else. Sometimes, just posting that I did something is a reward in itself, like when I could post about each book I finished in my 12x12 project this past year! I also want to give myself small rewards throughout the year, like if I make my bed every day for a week (lame, I know, but still fun for a reward, haha). I haven't come up with a list of small rewards yet, but I was thinking of things like $5 to spend on iTunes or a box of those Hostess Christmas tree cakes I'm obsessed with, haha. Small stuff, like the ladies at A Beautiful Mess suggested!

I'm really, really excited about these goals for the next year! All-in-all, I have ten goals of various levels of difficulty. It seems like a lot when they're listed out like this, haha. I think my 12x12 and 30x30 projects will be the easiest for me, and keeping up with my physical health and making my bed  will be the hardest. Is that weird, haha? Making my bed has always been contrary to my nature, as well as hanging up my towels. But aren't the best goals the kind that change your bad habits?

What goals are you thinking about making for this next year? Which ones sound harder than others to you? Do you hate it when people make fitness goals for the year (honestly, I usually hate it - I'm a hypocrite)?

Monday, December 29

2014 Resolutions: Recap!

  • Find a church in Concord
This was a success in my book. I found a really sweet Methodist church which I adore, and I've gone a few times over the past year, including Easter service with my mom. After going to an ELCA Lutheran service in Hilton Head yesterday, I do miss Lutheran services and communion. Part of me wishes I could find a nice Lutheran church in Concord, but at least for now, I'm happy with my Methodist church!

  • Read 12 new books for fun
This resolution went so well! I actually read 14 new books, and I adored doing my 12x12 project (even if it was hard to keep up with sometimes).

  • Be encouraging towards J and myself about getting fit
I don't think I did the best job about encouraging J and myself to get fit this year. I did a pretty good job of working out, but I didn't go to the gym nearly as much as I wanted to. About halfway through the semester, I basically gave up. I probably did a better job of encouraging J when he worked out.

  • Say "Yes" to social occasions more often
I think I did a great job with this resolution over the past year! Granted, I didn't go out as much as I could have, but I did make sure I made time for my friends and went to parties more. It probably helped that I had established friends when I came back to school last semester, but this resolution seemed easy to fulfill. :)

  • Get rid of 200 things
Done and done! It was harder to do this year compared to last year, but I did it just under the wire and I'm so proud of myself!

  • Do at least one craft a month
Total disaster, haha. I think I did this a few times at the beginning of the year, but completely stopped/forgot about it by this summer and never "touched it" again, haha.

In the end, I'm proud of myself for trying to better myself this past year, and for the resolutions I did complete! Reading and doing my 12x12 project was one of the best things I did this year - it was fun to do and I really needed to read more of my unread books! I'm definitely going to keep reading this next year... My 2015 goals, coming soon! ;)

How did you do on your goals for the past year?

Friday, December 26

Life Lately {vol. 36 - Christmas Edition}

James and I are best buds, 4 ever. :)

On Sunday, Abby and I studied for Evidence together!

Isn't Jamie a handsome fella?

On Monday, I had a massage at Intuitive Touch in Concord, and even in town, I couldn't help but appreciate how beautiful New Hampshire was. :)

On Thursday, I had to take Leif to the vet to deal with some digestive problems, but we got it sorted out and he was a perfect gentleman (unlike his big brother).

On Friday, Leif, James and I headed out to start our journey at 8:15AM! We had to get to D.C. by the end of the day - around an 8 hour drive - so I knew going into it that the drive was do-able!

I went through 7 states on Friday - New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and a tiny bit in Deleware (and don't worry - I was watching the road).

New Jersey was, at all times, the ugliest and most terrible state I have ever driven through.

My hotel in D.C./Maryland was perfect and close to the airport! Leif was really scared at first, but eventually warmed up to the place. He's not as good in the car as James, but this was the first trip I let Leif out of his cage. It was tough to deal with him on my own (always trying to sit on my lap or whine), but once J joined me on Saturday, Leif was so much easier to manage!

J's plane flew into D.C. just after 1PM, and we got into Hilton Head around 11PM that night! The next day, it felt so good to sleep in and enjoy being home!

Such a beautiful tree! :)

I really love my family. We're a weird bunch, but we really love each other. :)

My dog, Kichon, is an old lady at heart and has been since she was a puppy. There were a few times this weekend where I asked someone to poke her to make sure she was still kickin', haha!

J was so happy to reunite with Leif! :)

For Christmas Eve (and J's birthday), we had our annual little "feast," which was just as good as it is every year! :) I'm definitely spoiled!

Christmas morning, I treated myself to coffee in my mom's Pi Phi mug and had a blast opening my stocking up!

These avacado earnings were also in my stocking! How PERFECT are they?!

I also got a remote for my iPhone camera, which Grandma and I tried out. :)

I got several AWESOME books for Christmas (including some sweet wedding books), but this is the only one I've started reading yet - and it's AWESOME! Really down-to-earth and fun and useful! :)
Things got a liiiittle bit messy on Christmas, but it was so nice to see my grandparents as well as my family! We ended up eating lunch at 3PM, then went for a long, 2-mile walk on the beach!

This morning, J and I did yoga to wake up, and when I came back upstairs (post-coffee), Leif was just too cute for words! I wish I could transport this chair back to New Hampshire with me, because I can tell he'll be so sad to leave it behind!

This afternoon, J, Chase and I headed out to lunch at Golden Corral, browsed through Best Buy for an hour or so, then headed to Starbucks! It's been so gross and rainy out lately, so it's been really nice to get out of the house more now that the weather's so nice. :)

God, it feels so nice to be home! It's nice to have my family around and taking care of each other. It's nice to give the cats some more room to run around, even if Leif's too scared to leave the room. It's nice to have some free time from law school before this second semester hits me like a ton of bricks. It's nice to be around J and get to fall asleep next to my partner ever night. :)

I hope everyone's Christmas was as lovely as mine - I spent it with family, drinking coffee and watching each other open special gifts for each other, getting things I forgot I asked for and many things I didn't know I needed until I recieved them! Every time I get stressed out about not being happy "enough," or wishing I was as excited as when I was a kid, I remember all the things I got my family and I feel that excitement all over again, because I can't wait to make them happy! Does this mean I'm an adult?

Plus, being in Hilton Head in winter is just fabulous. I love snow as much as anyone, but it's great to be in a rainforest in 67-degree sunny weather. Not trying to brag or anything, haha. I'm just grateful. :)

Merry Christmas and the happiest holidays to you all!

Monday, December 22

12x12: Women, Food, and God

Women, Food, and God
by Geneen Roth

I was really excited to read this book, because it concerns three things that are near and dear to my heart: women, food, and God! I think I hesitated to read it for a long time because it seemed kind of boring (I mean, look at this cover compared to the past few covers - not that I should be judging a book by its cover, of course).

What I Loved:

  • There were small parts of the book that I really liked - mostly concerning how I/we see food. It seems obvious, but paying attention to when my body says it's hungry and when my body says it's full has been really useful over the past few days.
  • The author also had a part about letting go of everything that has happened to you in the past, which I found useful. She said that everything that's happened has already done so, and that it's not useful or helpful to keep dwelling on the negative things that have happened to us.

What I Wasn't Crazy About:

  • I really, really hated this author's writing voice. She was patronizing and dismissive and better-than-thou - basically like Ina Garten telling you why you have problems with disordered eating. A bunch of chapters focused on some of her retreats with women who want to eat and live better, which all were like, "I think this retreat is stupid because you're full of shit," "Ohhh but do you overeat because of something sad that happened to you when you were a kid?" "OMG YES HOW DID YOU KNOW?" "Hehehehe psh it's nothing you are so typical." Yeah. Patronizing. It ends up being a book all about the author compared to being about women, food, or God.
  • I really don't think there was anything particular to women in this book. I feel like men could have the same kinds of disordered eating habits, and the author's techniques could be just as useful to men.
  • There was really nothing to do with God in this book at all. The author kind of tries to get around this by taking about meditation and getting to know yourself and your habits, but I really don't think she successfully convinced me, as a reader, that God and meditation/awareness are the same thing, inherently. It was mentioned for like, a paragraph, and then never mentioned again. She mentions the word "God" twice, and they're both fleeting. 
Would I Recommend This Book?
  • No. Basically, I just feel like this book was a letdown. It really didn't need to be about women, and it wasn't about God. It was about food, and there were good parts of the book. Ultimately, I felt like the book was mostly about the author bragging about her "technique" to deal with disordered eating. Maybe someone who is struggling more with disordered eating would benefit from reading the book more. I don't binge eat - my issue is under-eating when I'm upset or stressed, but I feel like I'm in a really good spot, mentally, emotionally, and physically, right now. But I'm pretty sure that this author's pretentious voice would annoy anyone.

To be honest, if this wasn't a book in my 12x12 project, I would have stopped reading after a few chapters. J has insisted I mention that this was a self-help book, and perhaps I disliked it so much because I don't need help. But I insist that it wasn't terrible because I didn't need help - it was just so hard to read because it was all about the author and about how great it is that she's helped so many people. And it is great that people have benefited from her book! I just wasn't one of them.

Saturday, December 20

12x12: Dating Jesus

Dating Jesus
by Susan Campbell

I got this book, like so many others, at LEAST one year ago for Christmas. It seemed sassy and interesting and perfect for me, so I have no doubt why my mom (or Santa) got it for me. :)

What I Loved:
  • I really loved the author's voice. She's sweet, funny, self-depricating, and takes a very thoughtful look at herself - both now and growing up - which makes her a delight to read. You can really see the growth of her faith as she also grows up, which is most apparent when she looks back at her faith as a child, where she seems almost brainwashed into thinking a black and white world of faith is the norm, as well as the terror she feels at not being up to par with Jesus' commandments. It's interesting to see how she found a home in her church, while rebelling against it in small ways, like when she asked her Sunday school teacher why women couldn't talk in church.
  • My favorite parts of the book were when she looked back on her childhood. Those parts of the book were easy to read and had so much personality!

What I Wasn't Crazy About:
  • She switches pretty suddenly from stories about her childhood to the history of the Church or feminism, and I still can't really figure out how or why. It seems really disjointed in places, where I struggled to find the connection. For example, she'd tell a story about herself asking about women in the church in Sunday school, and then spent 3/4 of the chapter telling the story of Susan B. Anthony. Those tangents were clearly interesting, but I didn't always understand why they were necessary.
  • I felt a little patronized on some of the tangents. On several, she talks about women in the New Testament, and as someone who's studied the New Testament and already knew all of these facts that she was telling, it came across to me like she was trying to blow my mind, when, for me at least, this wasn't anything new to me. I think that if I hadn't learned all of this already, it may have actually blown my mind or changed my perspective, but unfortuantely, that wasn't the case.

Would I Recommend This Book?
  • Absolutely! I think the parts about her childhood more than make up for the weird transitions and preachy religious tangents. Honestly, if you didn't study religion intensively in college (or beyond), those parts might really blown your mind or think about the Bible differently! When I was reading it, I kept thinking, "To a person who's never studied this before, or who's coming at it from a more conservative perspective, this might actually be mind-blowing." It wasn't mind-blowing for me, but I think anyone who's interested in religion and learning more about it (and feminism) would really, really enjoy this book!

This was a really easy read for me, and I did love reading it! It was fun, it was sassy, and it reminded me a lot of my life growing up in the sense of her honesty and mind sets. It reminded me how rough it was to be in high school, and how glad I am to be out of it, haha.

Are you interested in reading this book? Have you read it before?

Thursday, December 18

12x12: Breaking Through The Stained Glass Ceiling

Breaking Through The Stained Glass Ceiling
by Maureen E. Fiedler

Unfortunately, no relation. I got this book for Christmas about two or three years ago and I was thrilled to get it! A book on interfaith relations and women and the Church? ABSOLUTELY. That's basically my bread and butter... and then I just never got around to reading it, haha.

What I Loved:
  • It was really informative - even if you already have a background in academic religion, which is saying something. Obviously we always have more to learn, but I didn't feel patronized or like she was trying to teach me basics. I always left each chapter or interview deeply interested in the work that person was doing or wanting to buy that interviewee's book to hear more about her point of view!
  • It got me invested and interested in academic religion and feminism again. It's not like I ever got uninterested, but I do get worn out in law school. It was a good reminder of this other side of me that I deeply love and am interested in.
  • I fell in love with a lot of new writers and inspirational women that I would never have known about before.
  • The format is somewhat easy to read since the chapters are split up into several different chunks - so, like with the Grimm Fairy Tales, if I'm trying to read just a little bit each night, I can commit to reading an interview at a time.

What I Wasn't Crazy About:
  • The format didn't appeal to me - it's set up where each chapter is a different subject, like "Women Interfaith Leaders" or "Women Academic Leaders." Then the substance of the book is interviews Ms. Fiedler did with each of these individual leaders. The interviews themselves are all really great and easy to get into, but sometimes it felt like I was just getting into the interview when it ended and I was supposed to move on to the next person's interview.
  • It's something I can really see an academic reading, but because of the format, it just doesn't read like a "normal" book. It doesn't flow in the same way a novel flows - and how could it, when it's a series of interviews?

Would I Recommend This Book?

  • I really would, especially if you're a religious academic, interested in different religious viewpoints in the slightest, or looking for new and interesting things to read! I'm going to go back through the book and mark down everyone interviewed who I wanted to learn more about, because most (if not all) of the interviewees had books of their own!
  • It definitely helped re-shape me during this semester and kind of remember my faith again. What's legal and what's moral are often not the same thing, and I think law school has a tendency to make you forget that your first priority should not be to see what you can get away with, but think about what the right thing to do is. Reading about so many women's faiths really woke me up to my faith again and inspired me. Especially when you're reading about so many different faiths, it actually really helped me to hone in on what I agreed with and didn't agree with.

It took me a long time to get through this book. I got about halfway through and kind of gave up because the format doesn't really lend itself to light reading. You're not invested in a particular character - you just hope the next interview is good, haha. I'm so glad I read it and finally finished it!

Have you ever read this book? Would you? How has your faith changed this year?

Friday, December 12

What Happens in Vegas!

The night before my flight, I was anxious and just wanted to see my loved ones!

I had two flights, and got this amazing picture during the first!

I finished my third-to-last book on my 12x12 project!

My family and I got lunch after we landed, and Chase (who's newly legal to drink) and I got our drinks to go! Vegas is a lawless place!

The Strip was amazing, especially at night! Living in a small town during law schoo is so different from this, but it really reminded me how much I adore cities!

Mommy and me! :)

I was so excited to see J too! We had some much needed time together. :)

He's such a goofball! It was fun to go shopping, even if I didn't get anything.
We explored a bunch of bars, but one of my absolutely favorites was the Irish bar in New York, New York! I'm a creature of habit, haha.

I can't express how needed time with J and my family was that week! It's one of the very hardest parts of being in law school so far away.

New York, New York!

Mom, Chase, J and I went ice skating on top of our hotel (the Cosmo), and afterwards, I got a campfire martini! We found out that night that my dad is not a fan of ice skating, haha.

I love my people! :)

Love me some Jon Snow, haha. Well, not actually - he's a whiny bastard (HA).

My family and I went to the Chandalier Bar inside the Cosmo on our last night in Vegas!

Coming back to New Hampshire was not easy, but it was easier with a bag of homemade chex mix! It was also easier knowing I would see everyone again in three weeks.

Vegas was SO much fun and such a needed break from law school! It was not relaxing in the sense that I can back refreshed and rested, but I did come back with all the love from J, my family, and his family! It was a blast, and even though I wasn't sure how much Vegas and I would "gel," it turns out I really loved it, haha.

Now I'm in the midst of finals! Two down, two to go (one today), and a paper due next Friday! I'm excited to finish, because once I'm done on the 19th, I'm taking a road trip down to Hilton Head with the cats, and picking J up in D.C. where he's flying in on the 20th! I'm so excited to spend about a month with my family and J again, and having the cats around during Christmas is just icing on top of a perfect cake!

Good luck with finals, everyone! And if you're not taking finals, congrats!