I can hardly contain myself. The Oscars are HERE! Every year, I look forward to the awards and the red carpet fashion, but for whatever reason, this year’s Academy Awards feel particularly exciting. I made it a goal this year to see as many of the nominated films as I could. Here’s what I saw:
- American Hustle
- The Wolf of Wall Street
- August: Osage County
- Captain Phillips
- Dallas Buyers Club
- Despicable Me 2
- The Great Gatsby
- 20 Feet From Stardom
- Lone Survivor
- Iron Man 3
- Blue Jasmine
Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. My biggest regret in the list is not yet seeing 12 Years a Slave. Confession: I was nervous to see it in theaters because I know I will cry like a baby. I’ll wait until it’s available On Demand and watch it in the comfort of my own basement. That being said, from what I’ve heard it has good chances of snagging Best Picture, and for very good reason.
Below I’ll list who/what I think will actually win (#1) and who/what I really want to win (#2). I’ll only make predictions for the categories in which I’ve seen one or more of the films and feel I can make an educated (or at least somewhat educated) assumption. Alright then, without further ado…
- 12 Years A Slave
- Dallas Buyers Club
- Matthew McConaughey
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Cate Blanchett
- Amy Adams
Best Supporting Actor
- Jared Leto
- Jared Leto or Jonah Hill
Best Supporting Actress
- Jennifer Lawrence
- Jennifer Lawrence or Julia Roberts
Best Animated Feature
- Despicable Me 2
Best Costume Design
- The Great Gatsby
- American Hustle
- Alfonso Cuarón
- Martin Scorcese
Best Film Editing
- 12 Years A Slave
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
- Dallas Buyers Club
- Dallas Buyers Club
Best Original Score
Best Production Design
- The Great Gatsby
Best Sound Editing
- Gravity (or Lone Survivor… I have faith)
- Lone Survivor
Best Sound Mixing
- Lone Survivor
Best Adapted Screenplay
- 12 Years A Slave
- The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Original Screenplay
Other items worth noting – Jennifer Lawrence has already tripped on the red carpet, Ellen DeGeneres is going to be amazing and as usual, Lupita nailed it.
Share your own predictions in the comments or let me know via Twitter (@AllyDenton), I’ll be tweeting all night!
Every year, I get the travel bug. Everyone must, right? It’s normal to crave a change of scenery, a break from your typical routine and new encounters with friends and people. Normally, I love the journey. In other words, the process it takes to get from point A to point B. Stick me in an airport for a few hours with a notebook and I’m a happy camper. When you’re in transit, you’re in this weird state of limbo where time dictates everything, like when you’re supposed to depart, but your normal sense of time is totally disrupted. Your personal schedule becomes basically irrelevant. It’s kind of cool. You’re pretty much at the mercy of the travel gods (aka airline booking agents) to make sure you’re good to go, leaving you with nothing to do but be still and pass the time.
This, of course, is easier said than done. I was reminded this past weekend how the very soothing thing I just described can become the most frustrating, exhausting task in the entire world. Travel can suck, big time. Especially when Operation Freeze Indiana Forever takes over just as you’re boarding your plane. Here are some reasons traveling is great and miserable all at once.
1. You want to feel glamorous, and sometimes you do (usually when you bring matching luggage and the inside of your purse could look like one of those “What’s In Your Carry On?” spreads the celebrities do in Vogue with oils and spritzers and shiz.. so yeah, it’s rare). But most of the time you just feel icky and smell like recycled air.
2. Everything is out of your control, which can be relaxing… until it’s not anymore. It’s amazing how the airport can go from calm, quiet oasis to that scene from Mean Girls when “the girls go wild”. That’s sort of what happened to me last Friday. I boarded the tiniest plane ever to connect in Chicago. I got on, no snow happening. I sit down in my seat, oh crap, it’s snowing. We pretend like we’re going to take off. Oops, bad idea. We turn around and head back to the gate. I kid you not I walked into a different airport than the one I had been in just moments before. Sides were taken, no one was smiling, it was loud, babies were crying, people were scared. Wild, I tell you.
3. Napping is appropriate. Where else (except for college) can you just fall asleep in the middle of the day and no one even thinks twice?
4. If you’re like me and have trouble napping, there are plenty of coffee shops, bars, markets, whatevers to keep you occupied, caffeinated and entertained.
5. The problem with #4: so. damn. expensive. And I’ve noticed the longer you have to sit and wait for your flight/train/bus the more you’re willing to spend and the less you care. I was at the airport for nearly 10 hours on Friday. By about hour seven, my budget plan hit the fan and died. $4 SmartWater? Sure. $6 magazine? Worth it. $3 bag of gummy bears? But I need this… It is a vortex people and it will suck you in.
6. People watching at transportation hubs is superb. If you’re solely an observer, usually no one will bother you. If you’re more forward, you can almost always strike up an interesting (or at least time-consuming) conversation with a fellow traveler. Of course there are moments when you might not feel like chatting. Flying home on Monday was one of those days for me. I was exhausted, I had a bad cold and had just about had it with anything airline-related. The 68-year-old doctor from Nigeria sitting next to me, however, felt quite the opposite and looking back, I’m glad I took the time to learn a little bit about his life. Be nice to everyone, it’s what makes the world go ’round, as they say.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts about travel?
In my opinion, the annoyances are always worth enduring in the end. By the time you arrive at your destination, any snags you ran into previously have faded away into the backdrop and you’re eager and ready for a new adventure.
Earlier this month, Apple released a new television ad for the iPad air (watch below). I get that it’s the point of all commercials to suck you in as a captive viewer, but this is really one of the ads you can’t help but pay close attention to. I credit that to the fact that this ad begins in silence. Not pure silence, you’ve got some wind blowing and other audio of that sort, but there are no words for the first 12 seconds. You almost don’t notice this because of the beautiful landscapes and scenery you’re looking at instead. It’s visually stimulating to say the least, but more happens in 90 seconds than just stunning images and backgrounds.
A few other commenters have written this ad off as too-much, cliche or typical of Apple to go so “over the top”. I’ll admit, I felt the same way the first time I saw it. It’s easy to roll your eyes and think… beauty, poetry, the human condition, blah blah blah, are you serious Apple? Just sell me an iPad and cut it with the touchy-feely crap. But the ad came on again and again and there I would sit in awe of those beautiful mountains, feeling my creative juices begin to stir and eventually, my feelings changed. So basically, the ad worked.
Here are some things the ad does particularly well:
You could argue that juxtaposition is the driving force behind the entire ad concept. With Robin William’s speech from Dead Poets Society as voiceover throughout the duration of the ad, we both see and hear the constant intersection of technology, mankind and culture. By placing an iPad Air on top of a mountain, at the edge of a waterfall and underwater in a coral reef, we see worlds colliding–the natural and the manmade. But it doesn’t feel invasive or wrong. In fact, it feels quite the opposite–powerful, creative and totally right. In this footage, nature and technology are living in harmony and mankind is thriving. Who doesn’t want that?
2. Challenges the definition of poetry
There are a lot of different people featured in the ad–engineers, athletes, dancers, musicians, mountaineers, architects and children. They are all working on something and the implication here is that they are all doing what they’re doing for a bigger and greater purpose (hint: it’s their verse!). Hockey players using the iPad Air to strategize their next play–poetry. Engineers making advancements in wind power technology–poetry. Storm chasers tracking an incoming swell–poetry. DJs playing for a crowd of young EDM fanatics–poetry. The interesting thing here is that the ad does not focus on an end product. Instead, it showcases the creative process. The message is not this is what an iPad can do for you rather, this is what you can do for the world with an iPad.
3. Sparks the viewer
For a perceptive viewer, I think the ad sparks equal parts wanderlust equal parts inspiration to get out there and start innovating, whatever that means for you. The commercial ends, literally, with a challenge to the viewer: “What will your verse be?” I know, I know, cue the collective groan from the audience… And I guess that is where the ad takes a huge risk and in the mind of some, fails in doing so. But I think we can all agree that if any company can toe the line of cliché and still get away with it, it’s Apple. And despite that potential shortcoming, the ad succeeds in a major way by advertising its product in a supporting-actor role, so to speak. The message Apple promotes is that no matter what you do, the iPad air is your perfect companion. But by not highlighting any apps or specific capabilities of the iPad, the human projects take center stage. It’s subtle and slightly subversive but by doing that, the iPad steals the spotlight without you even realizing it… And isn’t that the mark of a great ad? It’s storytelling at its finest. It’s something that clicks so effortlessly, you can’t fully realize or explain it’s power and influence.
What do you think about the ad? I’ll be curious to read and discuss your comments below.
Also, check out two more ads I’ve been enjoying and thinking about by Google and P&G.
Read previous rounds here.
If we were having a drink right now it would probably be a beer of some sort, considering the Patriots vs. Broncos game currently blaring from my living room. I’m not a huge beer fan however, so I might go ahead and pour myself a glass of red wine instead. I like the juxtaposition of it all.
If we were having a drink right now, I would ask if you recognized me. For the first time in really, forever, I am not a blonde. Nope. Decided it was time for a change. I’ve always been too scared to dramatically change my hair color. People always told me I would never be able to get the blonde back. Psh. So a few weeks ago I had an appointment scheduled with my hair guru. I explained I wanted to go darker, handed her some pictures of Jennifer Lawrence, closed my eyes and said do yo thang.
I don’t like to say that I’m a “brunette” because… I’m just not. But right now, yes, my hair is brown and I’m having fun with it. Sometimes when I’m getting ready to head out the door and just quickly glance in the mirror I freak out for a second. And then I remember, oh yeah, I did that.
If we were having a drink right now, I would start stressing about all the training I’m supposed to be doing. A few months ago, I had the brilliant idea of signing up for a half-ironman distance race. That is, 70.3 miles of swimming, biking and running. If you’ve kept up with my blog at all, you know I got into triathlon this summer and had a great time doing it. It was fun to start training in three different sports as opposed to just running a lot (I was really starting to get burnt out on the whole running five days a week thing). I felt strong, confident and was eager to keep racing. I seriously couldn’t wait to sign up for Muncie 70.3 when registration opened.
Fast forward a few months later and…yeah. I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here for any scrap of motivation. All I want to do is yoga. All the time. Right now I feel like I could easily replace my training schedule with six days a week of yoga classes and that would just be perfectly fine and dandy. The only thing left hanging is a lot of guilt for spending an arm and a leg on the Ironman entry fee. But, who knows? Maybe in a week or two my motivation to eat, sleep, triathlon will return but until then, you’ll find me sweating on my mat. Stay tuned.
If we were having a drink I would tell you about my upcoming trip to North Carolina. I’m so excited to get out-of-town, even just for a weekend. I’ll get to see my brother, who has tickets to Book of Mormon (score!), and some good friends who have moved to Charlotte since graduating. Fingers crossed for some warmer temperatures, too.
If we were having a drink right now I would definitely offer you this amazing dark chocolate covered caramel popcorn that has sort of been my BFF this weekend. Seriously. Have some.
If we were having a drink right now I would tell you that I’m chomping at the bit to get started on something. For the past few months I’ve been living in a perpetual state of transition. I quit teaching this fall to pursue writing. I realize now that I didn’t really know what that meant. I had no structure to follow or specific goal to chase and I don’t always do well without tangible direction. I began to feel uneasy about what I was doing and as a result, decided I wanted to pursue something else entirely. So I set off in that direction for a few months and eventually realized no, that’s not the right move either (But that’s being kind – it was really more of a what the hell? are you serious? type of realization). Instead of being honest with myself I was looking for a quick fix to feeling directionless and scared. I know I’m speaking in vague terms here but there’s really no need to give you the nitty-gritty, mostly petty #postgradproblems details.
Bottom line, I’m ready to start working on and toward things I’m passionate about. It’s true, life is short, but I’m only 24. There is plenty of time and really, I need to slow down and enjoy it. It’s time to feel young and fearless again.
The holidays are synonymous with movies. Years ago, my family used to go to the theater every Thanksgiving night for the release of the new, box-office busting Disney movie. I have a distinct memory sitting in the theater for 101 Dalmations (the remake, of course, with Glenn Close) waiting for the previews to begin and watching my little brother shake hands and introduce himself to other, much older, movie-goers as they walked in to find their seats. From the age of three he was a politician in the making, but that’s another story.
There were a handful of movies I wanted to see this year—Anchorman 2, The Book Thief, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years A Slave, Catching Fire among others. But the movie I most wanted to see was David O. Russel’s American Hustle. With Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale in leading roles, who wouldn’t? American Hustle is quite the departure from Russel’s masterpiece the previous year, Silver Linings Playbook. I know. It’s my own fault I even entered the theater with that in my mind, but with two of the same actors, Lawrence and Cooper, it was hard not draw lines between two.
American Hustle opens with the line “Some of this actually happened.” I didn’t think about those first words very much throughout the duration of the movie, but looking back now, I realize it was perfect. It warns the audience to not take anything they’re about to see too seriously, to not be afraid to laugh even when it feels inappropriate (this happens a lot) or uncomfortable. Most of all, the line asks you to question the authenticity of the coming events and the people driving them. For a movie about the construction of individual realities, this blurs the distinction between truth and deceit even more. “People believe what they want to believe” is repeated over and over again throughout the film.
I was fooled, along with the rest of the audience I imagine, that American Hustle was a cut-and-dry mainstream movie about crime and money and love and the intersections of the three. What I didn’t expect were the layers of humor, dark avant-garde moments and according to my brother, some Cohen-brother-esque instances of violence and absurdity. Amy Adams’ performance is an example of this. I don’t know if there is another actress out there who can convey multiple, contradicting emotions in just one glance at the camera, but she nails it. (Spoiler Alert!) The last scene in the film is Amy looking back at the audience, her face full of both happiness and contentment yet longing and desire. In that scene, you can’t help but feel as if she’s settling for something lackluster.
I didn’t plan to go see The Wolf of Wall Street. In fact, I didn’t know much about it until watching the trailer right before I left for the theater. Prepare yourselves for this one: its three hours of non-stop money, sex and drugs. But if you can look past the superficial, you will be blown away by the performances. I hope DiCaprio finally gets his Oscar from this one. He was the perfect man for the part—within his character of Jordan Belfort, you could peek glimpses of other DiCaprio roles: Gatsby, Frank Abagnale from Catch Me If You Can, and I swear, his voice has never been the same since he played Danny Archer in Blood Diamond. While Wolf lacked the depth and layers of American Hustle, Wolf was far more entertaining and exciting to watch, even at three hours long.
The funny thing about the two films is that essentially they are the same. Money, greed, deception, notoriety… both films are a modern day tale of the American Dream and the false hopes it sustains. It’s impossible to watch either movie without considering our nation’s reliance on money in the abstract. It certainly points out flaws in our system, and unveils greed as perhaps the root cause of our financial downfalls. But you have to ask yourself, who is to blame here? If our economy is rooted in greed, how could we not see this coming?
Truly, this is getting into a conversation I am not prepared to have. English major, over here. I don’t think I make enough money to fully understand it yet. If anything, these films showed me I better get a grip on how our financial system works because news flash, its not going anywhere.
All in all, both American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street ask you to question who the real bad guys are because in the end, you’re not so sure. Hopefully, you leave the theater realizing not everything is as it seems and that in reality, everyone is just doing their best to survive.
I spent the first decade of my life in Paoli, Indiana. Paoli, two hours south of Indianapolis, is a small town situated on the northeastern edge of the Hoosier National Forest. It’s a few miles east of French Lick, probably the most well known town down there due to the recent revival of its resort, casino and winery. You could argue Paoli is known for its ski hill, Paoli Peaks, even though the running joke is that you ski through more tobacco chew and mud than actual snow.
When I was small, probably in pre-school, I had a babysitter in Paoli named Anita whose house I went to everyday. Anita took care of me and my younger brother plus a few other kids both older and younger than me. At Anita’s house, I learned how to look for locust shells at the bases of trees. I learned how to tie my shoes, the bunny ears way, out on her back porch. During nap time, I learned about patterns. Refusing to sleep, I stared at the swirls on the ceiling in her daughter Jackie’s room, finding new pictures and faces in the plaster everyday. I’ve never been one for midday sleeps.
After nap time the group of us, led by Anita, would go outside in the front yard to pick up stray bullets. I didn’t know then that they weren’t actually bullets, but shells, mostly small copper ones from rifles or shotguns. Calling them bullets made more sense to my 4-yr-old mind. Anita’s husband, Lawrence, owned a gun shop right on their property. Their house was at the bottom of a hill and the gun shop was closer to the road, at the top. It was just a small house on the side of the road, a few yards away from their long driveway.
Because of this, there were strict rules about playing in the front yard and if I’m remembering things right, it wasn’t until after Lawrence closed his shop that we could finally go out to hunt for those locust shells, for acorns, rocks, arrowheads and of course, the bullets. We walked with tender steps through the yard, chins tucked and eyes peeled, calling out “found one!” each time we caught a glint of copper in the leaves. We pretended they were Civil War bullets, little pieces of history no else had yet discovered. We collected them in our pockets, having a contest before our moms picked us up to see who found the most. Most days we handed them over in fistfuls to Anita, but once or twice I’d whisper in her ear, “Can I keep one?”
We didn’t hear gunshots that often, and when we did, we were never too concerned. But one day, a clear shot rang out, a little bit louder than normal, and not a minute later, Lawrence camp tramping through the front door telling us we should come out and take a look at this. We zipped up our jackets and hand in hand we marched up the hill to the road along their house. As we reached the crest of the hill, I could see something sitting in the road. “Don’t touch it,” Anita instructed. I stepped a little closer and saw it, a snake. A dead snake. A dead, Copperhead snake.
Before I had a chance to get too scared or grossed out or anything of the sort, it was time for a lesson on identifying snakes, courtesy of Lawrence. He showed us the markings and how you could identify a Copperhead by the shape of its skull. I imagined the snake chasing Lawrence down the street, threatening him with fangs and venom and a sinister hiss. I saw Lawrence turning quickly on his heel, drawing the pistol from its leather holster, firing a sharp, clean shot and the snake stopping dead in its path. I heard the echo of the shot ringing out through the forest and Lawrence, successful, blowing smoke off the barrel of his gun.
In reality, the Copperhead was probably just minding his own business, lying on the pavement to digest a meal or maybe because it was warmer there than in the wet leaves of the yard, I’m not sure. But Lawrence was smart to get rid of the snake. Copperheads are so camouflaged on the ground they are virtually invisible to their prey, or to little humans, searching for acorns. Even though they prefer to leave humans alone, they will sometimes bite when stepped on or touched. And even though their venom isn’t the most poisonous of the snakes in Indiana, no venom is better than some, in my opinion.
Since then, I’ve had a few more snake encounters in Southern Indiana, all harmless, but this is the one I remember the most. The image of that Copperhead burned into my mind for better or worse. I had quite the story to tell my mom when she picked me up that afternoon. And I was happy to report that the next day, even after the previous day’s events, our bullet hunting went on as scheduled, uninterrupted.
Disclaimer: if you’re more of an Ebenezer Scrooge and less of a Tiny Tim, you probably won’t enjoy this post. Cheers.
To me, tomorrow truly kicks-off the holiday season. It’s with great anticipation that I welcome the holidays every Thanksgiving. That’s when I feel it’s finally time to start listening to Christmas music, decorating the house, baking yummy treats, and it’s always worth that extra wait.
It’s a shame to me that in the past few years (or maybe its been even longer, who knows?) our society’s way of celebrating the holidays has transformed from maybe what is now considered traditional, to a frenzied, hectic and stressful time of year. This year, Black Friday is interrupting Thanksgiving Dinner, with lots of stores opening up the night of Thanksgiving. Isn’t that the opposite of what Thanksgiving is supposed to be?
I was watching the news earlier this week and a local channel did a segment on “getting through the holidays” as if this time of year is something to be endured rather than enjoyed. I don’t want to be insensitive. I know it can be chaotic hosting gatherings and parties in your home. I know the sentiment this time of year can make dealing with personal loss or tragedy even harder. But what happened to slowing down, being kind and sharing the holiday spirit with one another? Maybe I sound naive or even phony typing that today, in 2013, but it’s really how I feel and how I hope to always approach this season.
On Facebook I’ve noticed people counting down the days until Thanksgiving by sharing what they’re thankful for each day. I’ve enjoyed these posts and when reading them, I’m reminded by the power social media, and hopefully tiny little websites like mine, have for good.
However you spend it, enjoy tomorrow and know that in some way, small or large you have reason to be thankful.
1. I’m thankful for Shadow. We don’t know this guy’s story but wow, what a dog. It took him two days to get close enough for Richie and I to put a leash around him. But once we had him he didn’t want to stray very far. He loves people and loves to play. I’m so thankful we were able to give him a home and a family.
2. I can’t mention one dog without mentioning the other. Indy is a diva, but I love her. I think she’ll always be a lap dog no matter how big she gets.
3. I’m thankful for my younger brothers. The three of us could not be more different, but when we’re together there is no shortage of laughs – usually from old SNL impressions. Plus, moving back home this summer has been much more fun with my 14-yr-old brother around to harass.
4. I’m so lucky to have supportive parents. They are patient through and through and the most reliable people I know. Not to mention, they’re pretty fun to hang out with and make decent roommates.
5. The rest of my family is awesome, too. We are loud and nosy and probably not as funny as we think we are, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
5. Richie and I always know how to have a good time. Whether we’re skiing and hiking in Colorado or just watching Breaking Bad episodes on the couch with the dog, I’m thankful to have him by my side. And it doesn’t hurt that he looks like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, don’t you think?!
6. I’m thankful that my body allows me to run a race every Thanksgiving morning. This has become a tradition over the past few years and it reminds me that I am so blessed to be able to do what I love to do! I don’t take this for granted.
7. I’m thankful that I’ve always been able to find a job when I need one.
8. I’m thankful for my Butler University education and the people there who helped me along the way.
9. I’m thankful for the mountains and their humbling strength.
10. I’m thankful for mornings like this one, with coffee in my hand and a fire crackling by my side. I love to be busy and moving but there is nothing like sitting at home with nothing to do and no place to go.
11. I have some amazing friends who bring me tremendous joy. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like now that we’re no longer in college together, but I have no doubt we will always be in touch and won’t let a road-trip stand in the way of our fun.
12. They say good friends are like good wine… or something like that. But I’m thankful not just for my friends but for time spent being social with them all, new and old. Sitting around a table, sipping wine and catching up will always be one of my favorite things to do.
13. Wine pairs well with food, and boy do I love some good food. Food is so easy to take for granted. I need to do better about appreciating the fact that I’ve never had to struggle to find food on my table.
14. I’m thankful for good books and taking the time to read them.
15. I’m thankful for walks around the neighborhood with my mom.
16. I’m thankful for snow and sunshine.
17. I’m thankful for music.
18. I’m thankful for the challenges I face because I am always stronger on the other side of them.
19. I’m thankful for Common Ground and the Sunday mornings I spend there.
20. I’m thankful for Christmas trees.
21. I’m thankful for yoga.
22. I’m thankful for ice cream.
23. I’m thankful for random acts of kindness and paying them forward.
24. I’m grateful for those who serve in the military, especially my dad. And am extremely thankful and proud that he’s been promoted to serve in Washington, D.C. as the result of much hard work and dedication paid off.
25. I’m thankful for dance parties in the car and late nights talking in the kitchen.
26. I’m thankful for old pictures that bring back good memories.
27. I’m thankful for new adventures that the future will bring.
28. And whether I know you or not, thank you for reading this blog. I’m glad you’re here.
Yikes! I haven’t posted a blog since August. What happened to September? Time flies, right?
It’s hard to say what a “normal” day looks like anymore – but here’s a “day in the life”, my life that is, from today, October 1.
6:00 a.m. – Alarm #1 (iPhone) goes off, is immediately snoozed and buried somewhere deep in my comforter.
6:05 a.m. – Alarm #2 (deafening time bomb/alarm clock) goes off, snooze button slapped yet again.
6:15 a.m. – Wake up with a jolt because I’m afraid I’ve overslept (technically, I have), look over at the clock, okay good it’s only 6:15, and proceed upstairs to eat breakfast. I pretty much always eat breakfast right after waking up and if I don’t, it’s probably all I’m thinking about. I wake up starving and honestly don’t function very well until I gulp a huge glass of water, eat some fancy oatmeal and pour a cup of coffee. It’s the most important meal of the day people, c’mon!
7:45 a.m. – After assembling myself, a gym bag, a lunch box and my school bag I can finally head out the door. I almost forget my dog, who is starting “Doggy Day Camp” today. Indy and I hop in the car and head out the door to be greeted by lots and lots of traffic.
9:00 a.m. – I get to school, settle into my classroom and check on Indy via the webcam at her day camp (http://videos.bestfriendspetcare.com/Indianapolis_dog_play_outside_video_93.html). I teach second period, clean up the classroom during morning break, then teach again third period. All of my students are working on projects in groups so I just monitor their progress and help them when needed.
11:00 a.m. – I’m done teaching until much later in the afternoon, so I leave school and head to the YMCA to go swim some laps. I’ve got a triathlon this weekend and want to make sure I swim, bike, run and do yoga at least once before Friday (Friday will be a day off before the race on Saturday). Luckily, the pool is pretty empty because who goes and swims laps at noon on a Tuesday? Not too many folks.
12:30 p.m. – Done swimming. Done showering and re-assembling myself. I head out to my car and debate whether I should head back to school to eat lunch or stay out and run a few more errands. I decide on option #2 so I shamefully eat lunch in my car then head over to Keystone Mall.
I need (want? need? I don’t know) some things from Sephora so I go there and then immediately regret my decision because everything in the store costs $547. It does make me feel slightly better when I get a free gift with my purchase but then I question my identity when the lady at checkout says, “Yay, you’re now a V.I.B!” Is this good or bad?
I get back to school early, catch up on some e-mails, lesson planning, etc. and then teach until the end of the day – 3:35 p.m. On my drive home I realize I’ve heard the new Katy Perry song at least 11 times today and taken more selfies than ever before.
5:30 – Itchy work clothes are off, comfy yoga clothes are on. I’m driving over to Flourish, a studio nearby, for a heated vinyasa class. I’m a little nervous because despite the title of my last blog post it’s been about three weeks since I’ve been to a yoga class. When I come out of the studio about ninety minutes later I realize I’ve left my trunk open the entire time I was practicing… oops.
7:45 – After wasting time on the Internet I finally get around to cooking dinner, eggs with some veggies mixed in. Fancy, yes? I hang around the kitchen and spend some time with my little bro (post cross-country meet) who is eating McDonald’s for probably the fourth time this week. I swear McDonald’s doesn’t normally enter my life this much. But hey, like I said, what is a normal day anymore?
Currently – 9:43 p.m. – I’m in the basement watching season one of Breaking Bad (behind much?) and maybe an episode of Mad Men after that (I really am just years behind on TV you guys) while I work on this post. I’ll be in bed before 11 because I am old and boring! Good night!
It’s good to be good to yourself.
I’ve always been an active person, give or take a little. When I was young I switched from sport to sport as I grew tired of one and curious for another. That, or I realized I wasn’t going to be an Olympic gymnast by age 8. Swimming, cheerleading, cross-country, basketball, a few failed seasons in soccer–I learned from a young age that exercise is important. Somewhere in that process, my young mind, like many others I imagine, decided that good quality exercise needed to be painful. A good workout = sweat, tears and blood. Maybe this became my reality because I spent so much time in middle school running as punishment. Or maybe it’s because when I was even younger than that, I assisted my Army Ranger dad in his workout regimen, holding down his feet for sit-ups and sitting on top of his back for push-ups, counting like a drill sergeant the whole way. This, of course, after he had completed a long run with or without a forty-pound rucksack. Talk about pain…
Yoga has begun to shatter this equation: that exercise has to be rough on your body. Yoga can be hard—don’t get me wrong. But if you’ve experienced even just one yoga pose, a downward dog, perhaps, you know that it’s a different feeling than what you’d get after, say, pounding the pavement for ten miles. I love running. Everyone already knows this. But I know that each time I head out on the Monon, my hips, knees and ankles are screaming, “Stop it! We are all going to get arthritis, you fool!”
Listening to and getting to know your body is important for everyone, but especially if you tend to push yours to any sort of limit. Yoga kindly points me toward my weak spots, my tight spots, and then works on them for the better.
Slowing down is healthy.
Living life at 100mph is not sustainable. For anyone, I don’t care who you are.
People work out to relieve stress. I do. But often, I find that the workouts I choose can sometimes be more stress inducing than stress relieving. During a run, it’s very easy to get caught up in your watch and focus too much on the numbers instead of how you’re actually feeling. Cycling down Indiana back roads past green, gorgeous cornfields is one of the most relaxing things I can think of. But trying to cycle through Indianapolis traffic (which isn’t even that bad)? Not so much. Of the three disciplines I focus on, swimming is the most relaxing. But going back and forth over and over again usually becomes a chore at some point during the set.
Yoga, on the other hand, absolutely forces you to slow down. Even if you don’t want to which, let’s be honest, I rarely do. If you focus on making the most of a yoga practice, you’ll ideally be connecting your breath to each movement, drawing everything out as your breathing allows. This takes a lot of focus, and once you get it down, it empties your mind. Maybe I’m stating the obvious, but when I first started yoga, I didn’t feel that way. Yoga can be intimidating, especially if you’re in a class with some hardcore lululemons who look like they could balance on their pinkies. You get caught up in how you look, if you’re moving too slow or too fast, you get nervous trying to listen to an instructor’s detailed cues. But once you let that go, you allow yourself to relax, and finally enjoy the process of slowing down.
Strong > Skinny.
Many women (and men I guess, though I can’t speak for them) workout to be thin. I do, too. It wasn’t until I a few months into yoga that I decided instead of trying to be thinner, I should workout to be stronger. And just like that, yoga showed me how weak I really was. Sure, I’m strong in a lot of ways. But there’s a difference between being able to jog for long periods of time and being able to hold a handstand in the middle of a room for two minutes (… which I cannot do, by the way). Yoga is showing me that just wanting to be skinny is kind of ridiculous, and more than anything, unrealistic. It is possible, however, to get stronger, and that’s what I’m doing each and every time I step on a mat. Chatarunga is hard as hell, but I know that every time I at least attempt it, something is happening in my arms. It’s also kind of cool that yoga is a strength building exercise, but you never touch a weight or any other piece of equipment aside from your own body.
Be nice more often.
This one is different than the rest, I know. But often when I go to yoga class, and I listen to what the instructor has to say, something will dawn on me as I’m working on my mat, and I realize that maybe I haven’t been the person I want to be today. Maybe I was grumpy walking into work and didn’t say hi to a co-worker. Maybe I snapped at a family member or was short with a friend. But for what? It didn’t make me any happier, or make me any less stressed about anything, that’s for sure.
I’m working to eradicate unnecessary stress in my life because I believe it to be the culprit for so many of our bad behaviors. I’m not a doctor or a nurse or a health and wellness expert by any means, but I know that life is short and there’s no reason not to be a joyful person. Why not try and just be pleasant to each and every person you encounter? You have no idea what the person on the next mat over is going through. Kindness goes a long way and yoga is helping me to remember that more and more. Usually after a yoga class, I am on top of the world—carefree, relaxed, helpful. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel and be that way all the time? And who says I can’t? It’s making a conscious effort, that’s all.
Thanks for reading everyone, namaste.