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Wednesday Wisdom: Making Black History

As I’m sure you’re aware, February is Black History Month. Growing up, I think the biggest complaint that I heard was that we got the shortest month of the year. Before I really understood too much, I would just celebrate that we got a month. Although I still strongly believe in celebrating our 28 (and sometimes 29) days of the year, I’m coming to realize some far more important things. For one thing, we cannot just treat Black History Month as a look at the past. The things that happened last week, month, and year are just as important. We are constantly shaping our history, and we need to act accordingly.

On top of always shaping our history, in today’s day and age it seems like there is always someone (usually a white man), who does something racist, but is too afraid of the word “racist” to admit what they have done. This tells me that we should be focusing on the 1800s history, the 1960s history, the 1990s history, and the 2010s history more than ever. On the other hand, it seems like the ally network has grown, but what’s annoying is that allies aren’t saying anything that hasn’t already been said. It’s jut that now people seem willing to listen. I could harp on this, or I could just be happy that we have a voice.

Some people might find what I’m saying depressing, and I completely understand why. For me, I feel like it’s far more important to focus on the victories and use them as fuel to keep going. Nothing will make you work harder than trying to prove somebody else wrong. But nothing will make you work longer than knowing that what you are doing is making a difference. 

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One Twelfth

Today is the very last day of January 2019. Can you believe that? I am honestly so surprised that this month has gone by so quickly! It’s important to check in with your new year goals every so often (more often early) so that you know how well you’re doing. It’s important to realize that you are either ahead or behind, particularly behind, before it’s too late. So, let’s recap my goals and how I’ve been working towards them so far.

  • Lose weight. I have completed the first week’s worth of exercises for the PiYo/T25 hybrid calendar as of yesterday. The best part? My husband has been working out with me! I have explored many methods of accountability, and although I wouldn’t say that there was anything that didn’t work, there is nothing that compares to having my husband next to me. There is nobody I would rather high five at the end of a sweat session than that man. I’m also eating more vegetables, because that was lacking. 
  • Read 60 books this year. I am in the middle of books 4 and 5 of 2019, and I have to say that I am enjoying them. I’m close to finishing Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynne Barnes, and I’m casually listening to 11/22/63 by Stephen King on Audible. I am honestly really glad I’m starting the year on a long audiobook, because one of the subgoals was to read no more than 15 audiobooks, and ultimately I wanted to limit it to one a month if possible. But, I am a little behind my 5 books/month goal and I am hoping that I can at least finish one of these books before the weekend hits. 
  • Call my friends and family more often. This is quite possibly my biggest failure thus far of 2019. Insofar as I was supposed to call a friend yesterday but didn’t realize that yesterday was the day we agreed upon until today. I also have not been calling my parents or my in-laws as much as I wish I was. The good thing is that my husband is calling home more often (see how making aligned goals can be to your benefit?) so I’m hoping that his example will help me be great. 
  • Knit, knit, knit! Well, I finished the Ravenclaw scarf I had been working on, but I still need to finish weaving in the ends and backing it. I am working on a striped blanket for myself, gloves for a friend, a headband for the shop, and want to start more mug cozies. Essentially, I’m knitting but I’m not knitting as much as I told myself I would. I am putting in knitting time whenever I can and that’s rather nice!

How are you doing with your goals? Have you checked in lately? Is there anything you feel like you need to improve? Anything you feel like you’re doing an absolutely spectacular job of?

Oops. Not A Book Review

 

I was supposed to be doing a book review today, but I have basically not read anything this month. (Which is to say, I am right on track with my reading goal for the year but I’m behind where I expected to be). Thus far in 2019 I have read:

  • One Pill Makes You Stronger by Jill Stegman (ARC, 2 stars)
  • One Week of You by Lisa Williams Kline (ARC, 5 stars)
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (4 stars)

Now, I theoretically could write a review about any one of these books. The problem is that none of them really stuck with me. I thought One Pill Makes You Stronger was mismarketed, and could have been good if it was actually a book written for somebody like me. I thought One Week of You was a great light love story, and I had a hard time putting it down, but once I was done I realized how thin it was. And Dumplin’ was great, but I watched the movie on Netflix before even putting the book on hold so all I could do the whole time was compare it to the movie. So you see, I’ve read all these books but none of them made me feel and thus, I am not writing a review this week and I am instead going to share with you my reading lists.

I made four “priority” reading lists for 2019.

  • >4 stars on Goodreads
  • Published in 2017
  • Published in 2018
  • Older than me (based on original publication date)

Of these, I am trying to work across the lists rather than down any single list. I am currently reading Little White Lies (Published in 2018), in large part because Bad on Paper Podcast is reviewing it this month and it was 100% my cup of tea! I also have Words on Bathroom Walls (Published in 2017) checked out from the library, so that’s next up on my list. Overall, I have a total of 8 of the books in my personal library, and although that wasn’t at all a motivator when making these lists, looking at them later makes me wonder what my subconscious may have been up to ;).

Although the actual book review won’t come until later (maybe next week, maybe further delays), I am curious as to how you make your reading lists. Do you strictly go based on book club reads, do you try to work through your to be read shelf, or something else entirely? Do you just walk through the library and pick out a cover that speaks to you? Whatever it is, I am dying to know! Drop me a note in the comments, and happy reading!

Finished Object Friday!

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I recently finished these gorgeous mug cozies and sent them straight to my Etsy shop! Thanks to some wonderful family and friemily they’re already almost sold out! I’ve noticed that lately I have been on a huge braid kick, and this was no exception. The only downside is that because these are knit in a colorful yarn, with two strands held together, the pattern doesn’t come out nearly as much as I would have liked. I was able to share the pattern with a friend, who knit in a single strand with a uniform color, and this is what it looks like if you do that.

The yarn I chose is a yarn I’ve had in my stash for forever. It was one of, if not the first, yarn I purchased with the intention of making something for my Etsy shop. However, every time I started knitting with it I just wanted to barf at how the color came out. It was such a relief to find something that the yarn weight worked perfectly for and the color was actually quite gorgeous.

Most of the patterns that I get, I grab from A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns (s/o to then boyfriend, now hubby for winning my birthday/Christmas 2016/2015). I almost always make some modifications, though. I have also started this headband, but because I didn’t want the braid to go around the length of the headband, I had to sit down and figure out (a) how to convert the pattern to knit in the round, (b1) how to alter the number of stitches for width, (b2) how to make the repeat look seamless, rather than like an edge. I restarted this project three times before I was finally able to get it down. But now, I have one completed headband and I am working on a second today. The dark taupe headbands will hopefully be up in the shop by the ned of this upcoming snowy weekend, and then I’ll get to work on another color.

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Bonus content:

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My Ravenclaw scarf is coming along great! I abandoned the double knitting idea and I am so glad. I have been able to power through this project as a result. It’s a 300 row pattern, and I am on row 225. I set a goal for myself to be done with this by January 27, which is exactly 364 days since I placed the online order (Webs Yarn Store) for this yarn. Even though we didn’t get the yarn and the pattern set until February, I personally felt like I really needed to do this for myself. I also had a wedding in there, and my dear friend was kind enough to see my stress and tell me to take a break from his project. Also, I totally lied. I set the goal because I restarted on December 27, I had no idea I purchased the yarn on January 28, 2018 until I started my taxes! (But admit it, the former explanation is way better, isn’t it?)

Are you binding off or casting on right now? Are there any patterns that you’re finding you are completely drawn to? Let me know in the comments, follow my Instagram page, and my Etsy shop!

Motivation Monday: Happier 2019

Welcome to the first Monday of 2019! By now I bet you’re back to work or school (or maybe not, our undergraduate students don’t return until a week from today), and you’re wondering how the heck you got by before the break happened. Maybe you have no idea how you had so much energy and life at work before when now you constantly feel super burned out. On the flip side, maybe you’re feeling like being home for the holidays was a lot of work and your job is a relief. Either way, I bet one thing felt better the the other. So now what do you do? 

What really helped me was thinking about what made me happy during the holidays. Was I happy to be in lab, even though it was empty and unfamiliar? Or, was I happy sitting at home powering through books trying to reach my 2018 goal? For me, I came back from vacation both ready to work and ready to have a vacation from my vacation. I had really rough time staying in the lab all day long, partially because it was empty and partially because I had been away from home for almost a full week and I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering to things that could get done at home. I’ve finally had enough time to get through everything I wanted (with the exception of a few choice Christmas decorations not making it back to the closet). I am now back at work, and I am feeling great. I showed up for my experiments both Saturday and Sunday and things seem to be going great, but I had to get here somehow.

In my example, it’s clear that it didn’t take me long to realize that reading felt like a chore, but lab felt easy and fluid. It only took a few experiments and a few more books to realize that the rewarding feelings came from an experiment coming to completion (even when a few things seemed amiss) whereas a finished book was just a finished book. I had to realize for myself that lab was where I wanted to be. But what if you’re the exact opposite? What if your side b*tch is where you want to be? GO BE WITH YOUR SIDE B*TCH Y’ALL!

I’m serious, if you do not feel fulfilled at work, figure out what things fulfill you. We live in a wonderful time where you can make money doing just about anything. It might take a lot of work and a lot of time, but I bet if you find happiness you will feel the it was more than worth it. Start making lists of things that bum you out and things that make you really happy.* Try to figure out how to do more of the happy stuffs and less of the bumming stuffs. Once you figure out what makes you happy and is something you can do more of, start researching how to use that to your advantage. Make a vision board if that’s something that will help you. For me, I have a vision board which I am looking t s I type this, but I also have a white board exclusively for my Etsy stuff (ironically, the white board is larger than the vision board). I have a calendar, and an inventory, and ideas. I erase things that I don’t want to pursue as I think more about them, but I write everything down so I have a record. I put a lot of energy into that, but I love my day job, so I really make sure to keep it on the side. For you, the might have to be different. Whatever it is that makes you happy, you need to go for it. Make 2019 the year that you leave fear behind. 

There may be other things that are holding you back from being your most confident self. Have you completely ignored workout plans? Is your holiday waist yelling at you to get yourself together? Are deadlines sneaking up on you and perhaps even sneaking bye you? All of these things are natural. Why you need to know is the you aren’t going through them alone. Even if nobody is willing to talk about it, that doesn’t mean that you’re not in good company. Social media is such a burden in this aspect because you only see the people who didn’t fall victim to these things; you see the people who ate a salad for both lunch and dinner but not the person that got fast food. We hide our authentic selves in favor of sharing the uplifting things. It’s not even that we’re hiding intentionally; we just share what makes us feel good and usually we know that the fast food is “cheating” so we don’t share it because it bums us out. Oh! Look at that phrase that just came back… that means we should do what? LESS OF IT! (I totally said that in a like a happy Andre Johnson voice in my head, and if you don’t watch Black-ish you should start now). 

Moral: Do more of what makes you happy by figuring out what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy. Turn your side b*tch into your main b*tch if you need to. Smile often, and comment on this post with a 2019 goal for being happier!

*You may already have an idea, dream, desire, etc. for what you want to do instead. In this case, go on and do it! I still think lists are useful, particularly because you may find some connections that you didn’t see possible (personal example: book-inspired knitting themes). Still, if this is where you’re starting then your list is going to be different from the person who just needs to do something.

Self Care Sunday: Skin

Okay, let’s talk skin care. I (completely coincidentally) began a new skin care routine on January 1. Lately I’ve been struggling with more blackheads and pimples, but mostly more blackheads. I have a friend that introduced me to Rodan & Fields last summer. However, at the time I was introduced, I was feeling really non-committal. It felt like my skin was changing every time I blinked and I didn’t want to spend the money on something I wouldn’t end up using because my skin was being such a prick. However, my skin has been on the oily side for months now, even with my previous routine. I did the math awhile ago, and even though it’s an expensive price tag, taking into consideration how many fewer products I would be using, it made a lot of sense to take the plunge.

Right away, I began to love washing my face. You have to ease yourself into the regimen (every other morning, then every morning…), and it has by far the hardest thing I’ve had to do so far this year. It’s so invigorating to feel like your skin is actually clean and not just washed. Normally, I wash my face twice a day with either a 2% salicylic acid wash or 1% salicylic acid wash (morning) and a gentle cleanser or exfoliating wash (night). I apply Cetaphil, and then I move on. I rarely wear makeup, and even when I do it’s usually concentrated to eye liner, eye shadow and mascara. So, you see, I never really worried about how my skin looked or felt, I just made sure that I was cleaning it so I could feel better about myself.

In the end, I actually got sick of it. I couldn’t handle always having pimples and blackheads. I couldn’t deal with the other bumps that might turn into pimples if I gave them a few days. I couldn’t handle the toilet paper blotting at work because my skin was so oily that I couldn’t stand it anymore. I’m still so early into this routine, so I have no idea how it’s going to work out for me, but I am hopeful. I do feel a difference in my skin, even if it looks the same. I think this will be my first successful commitment of 2019, and I am all for it!

Do you have a routine that you swear by? What about a new routine that you’re trying out for the new year? Let me know in the comments!

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