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The Struggle of Second-Guessing Yourself

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my choices. And how much I worry about my choices after the fact. I’m a consistent second-guesser. I usually stumble into my decisions rather than consciously make a choice, which only compounds the aftermath of my descent into second-guessing hell.

It isn’t the way I’d like to live my life, but I have such a hard time believing that what I’m actually doing is a good idea. Let’s look at some examples:

 

  • DECISION: I leave my first part-time job (a graduate assistantship) and an MBA program because I got a full-time job doing what I actually want to be doing and the schedules just didn’t work together.
  • SECOND-GUESS: Could I have actually just toughed it out working like 60 hours a week plus going to school full-time? Did I take a dead-end job over a degree?
  • DECISION: I agree to a promotion because it seems, in theory, like it will advance my career.
  • SECOND-GUESS: The details of the promotion are vague at best and purposely veiled at worst. Perhaps I should have just stayed doing what I’ve been doing. I’ll hurt my coworkers because they’ll have to take on many of my old responsibilities.
  • DECISION: I decide to stay with 4 roommates that I’ve never met at a conference and sleep on an air mattress in order to save money.
  • SECOND-GUESS: Well…this sounds like a terrible idea from the beginning. You don’t even like people! Why would you want one unknown roommate, much less four!
  • DECISION: I buy the red skirt.
  • SECOND-GUESS: Maybe the red skirt won’t fit me? Maybe it’s too gaudy? Did I really need a red skirt? Could I have gotten by just as well with my pink skirt?

 

As you can see, some of my second-guessing is warranted (although the whole 4 roommates and sleeping on the floor thing actually worked out just fine), but most of the time it’s either “too little, too late” or just unreasonable.   But how do you know that you’re making the right decision when you’re making the decision?

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This is my daily struggle. I keep thinking I’ll get better at it with time, but I’m almost 26 and it looks like I’m still in the same uncertain boat. The biggest problem with being a “Second-Guesser” is that it makes it impossible for you to take big risks. And many times big risks are the only way to make lasting and worthwhile change. As I mentioned before, most of my decisions are not consciously made but usually stumbled into. Because of this, legitimate change just doesn’t happen for me. (Legitimate change doesn’t come from accidentally making a decision). Legitimate change takes a risk, but I’m too busy second-guessing my pseudo-decisions to take any kind of risk!

So this is a problem. For me. Maybe for you too. Or maybe you’ve got it all together. If so, I’d really love to know how! More power to you!

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30 Days of Yoga Camp with Adriene!

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How often have you committed to “30 Days” of some new idea, workout, or diet, and only managed maybe the first 5 to 10? I think we’ve all done that. People tout their systems as life changing and only a small commitment because 30 days doesn’t seem that long, right? That couldn’t be that hard!

But it is. It always is.

Which is why I want you to try something for me. Something I tried and actually stuck with and completed. Thirty days of yoga!

Now, I know what you’re thinking… “I can’t do yoga for one day, much less 30!” Or “Isn’t yoga for weird, vegan hippies?” Or “But I’m a guy! That’s a girl workout!” And you’re wrong about all those things. You can absolutely do yoga for 30 days. And yoga is for everyone! Not just girls and vegan hippies.

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But yoga is still always going to be intimidating to those who haven’t tried it. Or tried and met the wrong instructor or classmates. Which is why I love Adriene from Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. I discovered her in January of 2015 when she started her first “30 Days of Yoga” where she released 30 straight days of full session yoga videos to guide you at home in your practice. The goal was to build up a community of old and new yogis and “Find What Feels Good” (her motto and brand). It wasn’t about losing weight, but learning to love your body the way it is and continually stretching it to its limits and building up physical strength. I completed the 30 Days program last year although it took me about 2 months to do it, and while I didn’t stick with yoga every day (or even most days) like I’d promised myself in 2015, I was excited for what Adriene had in store for 2016. And she didn’t disappoint.

This year it was “30 Days of Yoga Camp” and rather than just focusing on the physical practice, she also introduced daily mantras for building mental strength. And while I loved the original 30 Days of Yoga because it got me on the mat again after 2 years of yoga-less life, I’m utterly enthralled by and passionate about Yoga Camp! At first, I wondered if the mantras would be weird. I’d never done anything like that in my practice or really in life before. But as the days went by, I found myself fully embracing the mantras. I even used them as daily prompts for my journal and started a habit of journaling right after my yoga practice which contributed to a very calming and introspective time for me in the evenings after a stressful day at work. While I’ve always enjoyed yoga for its rhythm and almost dance-like quality at times, this 30 Day session really connected my mental and physical spaces much better than ever before, and I felt I reached some much needed places of peace and Zen on many days.

Plus there is the joy of a home practice. Right now, I just don’t have the money or the time to commit to an actual yoga class. And while I know there would be many benefits from having an instructor physically in the room to help adjust my mistakes and fellow yogis to share my experience with, for now, practicing with Adriene in my room alone is a welcome gift. It’s free. It’s void of self-consciousness. And Adriene has a fun and quirky personality so that I laugh at her awkward jokes and feel like she’s right in the room with me pushing me past some points that I’d like to just call it quits. And it made me realize that it’s a wonderful way to get more comfortable with your body and your yoga abilities before taking the leap into a physical classroom. You see, we’re all at different levels, and that’s great! Whether you’re a man or woman, a lifelong dancer and human pretzel or someone who’s never even been able to reach their toes, yoga can work for you! It’s frustrating when you first start out and you feel so out of balance and weak and shaking, but that’s why this practice is so great. In 30 days of 30 to 40 minute workouts, you’ll build the core strength and sense of balance that you need. Soon you’ll find those poses you initially struggled with can be attained with ease.

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For me, it was an all around amazing experience physically and mentally. Which is why I think you should try it too! You don’t need experience or a super stretchy body. All you need is patience, perseverance and knowing how to find what feels good for your own body.

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So many thanks Adriene for you dedication to the “Find What Feels Good Community.” You’ve changed my life in ways I don’t even fully understand yet, and I hope more people will find such good in your work as well!

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Great Books I’ve Been Reading: January Book Round Up!

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Since discovering Goodreads and the yearly book challenge, I’ve been reading A LOT. For the past two years, I’ve kept track of what I’ve been reading and included the list in my goal reflection blog each January, but how does this help you find a new, awesome book to read? Or inspire you to start reading again if you’ve fallen to Netflix binging in your free time? This year I decided to remedy that by creating a monthly book round up! I want to give you my rating and a few things that struck me about each book. Also, I want to show you how much I read that’s owned or borrowed (from the library, usually), and what type of format I’m reading (I’ve become especially partial to audiobooks which help me stay awake for all the long drives I have!) So with no further ado, let’s jump into what I read in January!

January Books 1

Room by Emma Donoghue
Book Type: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: 4 – Pretty Good

You might recognize this title because of the Oscar buzz its film adaptation has been receiving as the lead actress, Brie Larson, has been nominated for Best Actress. I wanted to read the book before watching the movie because I knew it was supposed to have an interesting premise and storytelling mechanism. It’s told from the perspective of a precocious 5 year-old boy, Jack, and that narrative voice can be frustrating at times. A 5 year-old can only understand the world so much so I felt limited at times during the story. I wanted to scream at him sometimes! But that frustration translates well when taken in context with the overall narrative (which I won’t tell you anything about, because SPOILERS!) It makes every misunderstanding and question from innocent Jack all the more gut-wrenching. All-in-all, a worthy read of human endurance.

January Books 2

In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard
Book Type: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: 4 – Pretty Good

This is supposed to be a YA book, but I can’t imagine too many teenagers having the patience to follow the somewhat plot-less romp that is In Zanesville. However, as an adult, I was very much able to connect with the angst and confusion of being a teenager that this book so wonderfully captures. It’s like a nostalgic time bomb with quirky characters and situations from the serious to the trivial. It felt like a more literary version of Nickelodeon’s As Told By Ginger.

January Books 3

The Golem and Jinni by Helene Wecker
Book Type: Hard Copy
Source: Own
Rating: 5 – AWESOME!!!

The Golem and Jinni was a gift from my dearest boyfriend for Christmas. It’s a book I’ve had on my too-read list for a while if for nothing more than the beautiful cover. Something about it spoke to me, and the book itself didn’t disappoint. It was somewhat slow-moving at first. Mostly because I didn’t quite know what to expect. There was magic. And the late 1800s. And a lot of Jewish and Syrian mythology that I wasn’t aware of. Have you heard of a golem before? A creature made of clay and brought to life to do its master’s bidding? And apparently there are some Jewish rabbis who know some pretty dark stuff (like animating clay). But this isn’t really a magical story. I mean, magic sets it in motion, but the story is really about two “people” who don’t feel like they fit in. It’s a not-so-subtle metaphor for immigrants (as they actually are technically immigrants to America), but moreover, a metaphor for feeling detached from the world. I really connected with it because of my struggles with depression, and I imagine there might be something you’re struggling with as well that you’ll find in the pages of this magnificent novel.

January Books 4

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Book Type: eBook
Source: Library
Rating: 5 – AWESOME!!!

Library of Souls is the third and final book in “Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children” series that began with the bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which found much of it’s uniqueness from the use of found vintage photographs. Like the first two books in the series, Library of Souls uses these haunting images (with very little digital manipulation) to build a unique world, and I’ve always been impressed with how each photograph is used.

I will say though, that it was a little hard to start because it had been so long since I’d read the previous book. But once I got back into the rhythm (and read a plot synopsis on Wikipedia) I found the characters to be just as vibrant and enjoyable as ever. I really enjoyed this journey with Jacob as he came into his own with his “peculiar” talent. He’s a true hero, in my opinion.

So if you’re considering reading this series, I’d say, “Do it!” It comes to a wonderful and satisfying conclusion so you won’t be wasting your time.

January Books 5

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Book Type: eBook
Source: Own
Rating: 5 – AWESOME!!!

Every Last Word felt like your average “discovering yourself” YA novel for three-quarters of the book. But I kept having these nagging questions in the back of my mind while reading (which I can’t tell you because SPOILERS!) Then suddenly ALL those questions got answered in a twist I really didn’t see coming but was set up perfectly.

I also really enjoyed the author’s note about how much research she did on OCD for this book and working closely with a friend’s child who was diagnosed with OCD. It felt very authentic in the way it deals with mental illness which as a girl who was diagnosed with OCD at 11 and depression in her 20s, this is really important to me.

Out of all the books, I read in January, I think Every Last Word was my favorite. It was an unexpected favorite at that! I’m used to stories about depression, but not so much OCD and the anxiety disorders that can come along with it. Despite the seemingly overused YA premise, it felt more authentic than many like it I’ve read in a while.

 

Well that’s January’s book round up for you! I hope you’ll consider reading something here or even giving me suggestions of books you’ve read this month that you’d think I’d love! I also really love to point out that 3 out of the 5 books here came from the library! Use your library people! I also use BookBub which is a great email service that sends you a daily round up of discounted books in your interests. This is why I have WAY too many eBooks! My brain’s like, “$0.99? Sure! Why not!? This sounds fun!” Anyway, however you get your books, I just hope you enjoy reading!

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In Defense of “Spaleb” (Or That Time Pretty Little Liars Jumped Five Years Forward and Broke Up Fan-Favorite Ships)

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Pretty Little Liars’ five-year time jump this winter season has all the fan favorite relationships in turmoil. But really, what can you realistically expect after five years out of high school and their hometown? Despite two years translating to five and half seasons, technically they’ve spent more time off in the adult world than they did in their high-school relationships (both friend and romantic). So why is everyone up in arms at the prospect of Spencer and Caleb getting together?

Well, first let’s look at the fandom. I think if you did a poll on which “ship” fans rooted for the most on PLL, “Haleb” (aka Hanna and Caleb) would win. I’m even a Haleb shipper! But I think that comes from Hanna and Caleb being my two favorite characters on the show so the fact that they get to be a couple just brings all kinds of juicy fun feelings as a viewer!

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But honestly, I really don’t have a problem with “Spaleb.” People are angry online because “you shouldn’t date your friend’s ex” (which is, honestly, good advice). Some are creeped out and find it gross. (But I think that’s just because they’re so obsessed with Haleb that they’re not seeing beyond it).   Others feel like it isn’t realistic or is too rushed. But I have to disagree with all of these assertions and here’s why.

  1. Spencer didn’t just fall in love with Caleb and start dating/hooking up with him right after he and Hanna broke up. It’s been YEARS. Long enough for Hanna to have moved on to the point that she’s engaged to another guy and looks quite happy. I feel like there might be a time limit on dating your friend’s exes. Like if it’s been 3 years and you don’t even talk to your friend that much (except for when you’re sequestered in your hometown because of your potential involvement in a murder case), it’s probably okay to fall in love with your friend’s ex. I mean, let’s be realistic here.
  2. It’s not one-sided at all. I feel like in the first 3 episodes of this half of the season, PLL did a great job of setting up Spencer and Caleb’s “history” over the last 5 years. And it’s a really believable story. They went through hell in high school in their own way. They meet randomly while traveling the world for school/life experience. And they cling to one another because of a sense of camaraderie and history. They know what the other went through without having to do all the embarrassing and traumatic explaining. And so they have adult experiences together for a few years. It’s not too far of a stretch to find them developing feelings for one another with time. (Maybe it’s just not the best idea to get together while you’re both hanging out in your hometown with a murder investigation going on and your exes running around too).
  3. They actually had chemistry prior to the “Five Years Forward” time jump. In the last few seasons, we found Spencer and Caleb being paired together several times doing detective work. It was always platonic and understandably so, but they were friends first. And friends with similar interests. They’re both—how do I say this nicely—the smartest ones of the group. Hanna, Aria, and Emily are all wonderfully talented girls, but Spencer’s got the lock on “school smarts.” And she’s “tech-y” like Caleb. So you can see where their interests might overlap in the world outside of high school drama.

In all honesty, I find it kind of romantic and sweet that two friends from high school would meet again a few years later on the other side of the world when they’re not bogged down by the stress and trauma of being stalked by a crazy person and reconnect and fall in love. Because if PLL were reality, none of those high relationships would have lasted anyway. I mean, there’s a slim possibility, but since all the girls (but Alison) went off to different states for college, it’s inevitable that they’d change and grow apart from their high school beaus. For once, I feel like PLL actually depicted something close to reality. And for me, that’s kind of a win!

You don’t have to like Spaleb. You can hope and pray that “Haleb” and “Spoby” is end game. (I know I’m rooting for “Ezria!”) But let’s not call it disgusting. Life (and five years) changes people. I’m just glad PLL is finally acknowledging that!

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