September 24, 2020

How early is TOO early to go to bed?

 This sounds completely crazy, but I think I'm going to go to bed now. It's only 7:00, but I'm super tired (I haven't been sleeping lately) and I took an anxiety med earlier, which always makes me tired. I've been feeling so much pressure lately (hence the anxiety).

Jerry has a three day weekend, so we are going to try to get as much done as possible around the house. We need to finish the porch, pull up all the grass that was next to the landscaping, build Noah's desk, *possibly* pull out the Asian pear tree in the front yard (I've had it for like six years and have never gotten fruit, so I give up), level out all of the dirt to prep for new landscaping, and several other things. It's going to be a LOT.

Is this even an Asian pear tree?

I looked it up before and it looks like one, but I ain't never seen an Asian pear on that tree in six years. Our apple tree (on the other side of the yard) has only gotten a few apples that get eaten by birds before we can even pick them. I've always wanted a fruit tree, and an Asian pear tree would be my DREAM. But I just feel like it's not meant to be.

Remember this funny story with my dad?! Hahaha!

But anyway, I did great on Day 3 of Cookies Fall Challenge, so I'm happy with that!

September 23, 2020

A Sticker Chart (Nerd Alert!)

My friend Emily LOVES sticker "award" charts. I never really understood how stickers could be motivating to us as adults.

When I was actively doing bullet journaling, I did enjoy filling in charts and things--and I LOVE checklists! I don't know what gave me the idea to make a large poster board with sticker charts for my Cookies Fall Challenge, however. But I like how it turned out!

I've actually found it pretty fun! I look forward to finishing eat item and putting a sticker on there. The challenge is 92 days long, which is why there are 92 boxes for each item. I printed out one for each of the "rules" of the challenge and then glued them onto a poster board.

I also have a chart for keeping track of my weight (once a week) and for my daily running mileage.

Finally, I have a bunch of photos on there that I particularly like or that give me a good feeling inside. They make me want to keep going and not give up.

Yes, I'm SUPER nerdy... but how fun is this?! (I still need some tacks to hang it on the bathroom wall). And this is in the master bathroom, where nobody goes except for Jerry and me!

I did great again today on the challenge--checking off everything on the list. I had a bad day mentally, though--I am frustrated with a few projects that I am feeling pressured to get done (the front porch and Noah's desk). I've run into problems with each, and they shouldn't have been difficult!

Hopefully I'll sleep well tonight and see them with fresh eyes tomorrow.

September 22, 2020

Cookies Fall Challenge - Day 1

Today was off to a great start! 

I'm planning to do all three challenges--the Cookies Fall Hard, Cookies Run/Walk Checklist, and the friendly mileage competition. I wanted to start the day off strong, so I completed what I could as early as possible.

Even though the Cookies Fall Hard Challenge is a modified version of 75 Hard, I'm still planning to follow the exercise rule for 75 Hard--I haven't broken the streak at all, so I'd like to finish out the full 75 days. After that, I'll switch to the Cookies Fall Hard version.

For 75 Hard, the exercise "rule" is two workouts a day for 45 minutes each, and one of them must be outside. For my version, I chose 60 minutes total for the day, with at least 30 minutes outside. So for a couple more weeks, I'll still be doing 45 minutes twice a day.

I went for my first walk as soon as it was light outside, at around 7:30. First, I took my progress photo for Day 1. I'm going to try to dress in the same clothes, or something similar, every week for comparison. Lately, I've been wearing bulkier clothes because it's been colder outside in the mornings, so my comparison pictures aren't very, well, comparable.

I walked Joey through the park and apparently we went slower than usual, because we ended up walking for 55 minutes instead of 45. As we were walking, I realized that I was supposed to do my walk at 9:30 AM, because that's when fall officially starts--and the plan was to walk from summer into fall.

When I got home, I decided to work on a couple other items on the list and then go for my second walk just before 9:30. I wrote in my journal, I read my 10 pages in a book, and I drank a quart of water. 

Then I headed out for walk number two. Right as the time hit 9:30, I happened to be at a small beach area so I stopped and took a picture of my Garmin--it's officially fall! (Sorry for the bad picture)

I even got to check off two items on my Fall Checklist--first the fall equinox walk and then the "two-a-day" walk (meaning I walked twice in the same day). For today's mileage, I got in 5.77--not bad!

I was DREADING this afternoon because I had a dentist appointment to get a couple of fillings. I absolutely despise going to the dentist--ever since I broke my jaw, just the thought of the dentist gives me anxiety. I canceled my appointments for the last two years because I just couldn't bring myself to go!

I actually had to have a root canal in 2016 on a tooth that had cracked when I broke my jaw. I was absolutely terrified! But afterward, I took this picture of me trying to blow a kiss (to text to Jerry), and it remains one of my favorite pictures--hahaha! I looked similar today, but definitely not this funny.

I found a new dentist (my previous one that I really loved had retired) and went for a cleaning yesterday. The hygienist was SO nice and gentle--that was the best cleaning I've ever endured. But I had a couple of cavities and the thought of getting my mouth numbed is what I hate the most. I asked the dentist if he could do it without numbing me, and he said that the top cavity could be done without numbing, but the bottom one would need to be. *cue anxiety*

I made the appointment for today so that I wouldn't have time to chicken out and cancel. I couldn't believe how bad I was shaking! I asked if I could wear the heavy lead apron (used for x-rays) during the procedure because it helps with anxiety (kind of like a weighted blanket). Even with that, I was shaking so badly and was nearly in tears.

I'm sure the dentist thought I was crazy (but hell, I actually AM crazy, so...). The thing is, I'm not actually afraid of the pain... I had a horribly broken jaw and my teeth wired shut for six weeks, so a minor dental procedure is nothing to me on the pain scale. 

The reason I have so much anxiety is because of the ANTICIPATION of pain. When my jaw was broken and the surgeon would mess with the wires around my teeth, it was extremely painful (despite being on loads of pain killers). If I KNOW that something is going to hurt, I can definitely handle it. But when getting a tooth drilled, I am always anticipating the drill hitting a sensitive spot and searing pain shooting through my mouth.

I was hyperventilating through my nose when he was drilling and I was so sure I was going to have a panic attack. I had my eyes squeezed shut and I was concentrating on clutching my hands together under the lead apron. 

I was so so so relieved when it was finally over. I hated the fact that the lower right side of my mouth was numb, especially considering I had to go to Lowe's. But thankfully, I had to wear a face mask so it covered up my crooked mouth!

Anyway, that was a long, uneventful story. Today went great as far as the challenges! I stayed within my intermittent fasting eating window and I got in all my water, too. I hope everyone else who is doing a challenge had a great day, too!

September 21, 2020

Fear of Failure

Tomorrow is the big day! The first day of fall and, therefore, the first day of my Cookies Fall Challenges. I'm so excited :) (I love that comparison photo above of my weight loss--isn't it awesome?!)

This is my first time hosting a challenge in the fall, and I decided to do not just one, but THREE. Something for everyone!

1) The checklist similar to Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge--a list of items to complete during or after running or walking. It's a way to keep running or walking interesting.

2) A mileage competition. Runners and walkers can log their mileage (you must sign up by 11:59 PM ET tonight!!). I am going to post a leaderboard each week, showing who has run/walked the most miles that week and overall. Hopefully, this will inspire you to get in some miles!

3) Cookies Fall Hard Challenge. This one is tough! And it's MEANT to be tough--hence, the "hard". The "rules" are modified from the 75 Hard challenge. There are six rules, and each of them individually seem do-able. And they are. Putting them all together is going to be HARD. 

I've heard from more than a few people that they would like to try it, but they are worried that they might fail. 

I have a lot to say about this and I hope I'm able to put it into words. Let me try to explain...

Two months ago, I started the 75 Hard Challenge. I was going full strength, 100% effort, until I learned I may have been doing one of the rules incorrectly (it was stupid). But I let that get into my head, and eventually I started slacking on a rule here and there.

I've most definitely not followed all of the rules since the beginning, and according to the entire 75 Hard Challenge, I am supposed to start over every time I make a mistake. 

Am I a failure?

On one hand, yes--I failed at doing the 75 Hard Challenge as written. However, I have walked (or biked a couple of times) for 45 minutes twice a day EVERY SINGLE DAY since July 20th! I can honestly say that I have never deliberately exercised this much in my life. Is that failure?

My "diet" for 75 Hard was intermittent fasting with a 20:4 ratio. For about 95% of the time, I've done great! But I've also had a few days where I ate way outside my window--not because I was hungry, but because I was stressed out and I just wanted to eat. While I ate on plan for 95% of the time... did I fail because it wasn't 100?

Another "rule" for 75 Hard was to read 10 pages of a non-fiction inspirational book every day. I did this, for a long time. But after I finished my second book, I just couldn't find another that interested me. I don't enjoy self-help books! But did I fail, even after reading two full books? I continued to read books, but not the inspirational ones specified in 75 Hard.

There is a rule for drinking a gallon of water a day. For me, this isn't very hard to do when I'm focused on it. However, on some days, I was too busy or too stressed to care, and I "only" drank 96 ounces of water instead of 128 ounces. Did I fail?

For 75 Hard, it's also required to take a progress photo every day (I do a full-length mirror selfie). Call me vain, but this is actually something I've excelled at! I haven't missed a single day. 

So, my point is this: While I was "supposed to" do this challenge strictly by the book, without fail--and believe me, I tried!--I didn't do it perfectly. I "failed" at the 75 Hard Challenge, and I should have started over several times by now.

Instead, I chose to just keep doing the best I could do. While I might have "failed" at the challenge, I am still a million times better off than if I'd quit the very second I made a mistake. 

It reminds me of this quote, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll still land among the stars."

It sounds corny, but it's true! My friend Dean (who I met via my blog and became good friends with) taught me this lesson. He always aims for goals that seem way out of reach. While a lot of people would say not to aim for something that high, because there is a good chance you'll fail, he chose to think of it this way: Aim higher than you "expect" to do, and even if you don't hit that particular goal, you'll still do better than if you aim for a lower goal. You'll never realize your potential if you never push yourself way past your comfort zone!

If I had thought 75 Hard was "too hard" and I decided to modify the exercise portion to be 30 minutes once a day, I would still think that was hard for me to do. Exercising every day, without fail... that's hard for me! But I aimed WAY out of my comfort zone and shot for 45 minutes twice a day. Something that seemed impossible for me--someone who couldn't even stick with 30 minutes 3 times a week for a long time.

And I'm actually doing it!

However, EVEN IF I was to "only" do the first workout every day, I would still be MUCH better off than if I just didn't attempt it at all. Or even if I committed to 30 minutes a day! If I'd committed to 30 minutes, I'd only do 30 minutes. But by committing to 45, I'm pushing myself for 45. And if I happen to only do 40 minutes, or I only do one workout a day, etc? I'm still "landing among the stars" and doing much better than I would if I hadn't even tried.

Dean is such a great example of this!

I'll try to give you the quick rundown:

I first learned of Dean when he submitted a Motivational Monday post for his first 5K. I followed along as he lost weight, ran a 10K, reached 100 pounds lost... I called him Dean the Machine. And I invited him to join a Ragnar team that my friend John and I were putting together. Anyway...

Dean mentioned to me that he decided to shoot for a sub-2:00 half-marathon, and he wanted to know my thoughts as a running coach. He had just finished a half in about 2:15, so I told him that I didn't want to be discouraging, but I thought he should aim for more like 2:10. He thought about it, and then told me that he was going to shoot for sub-2:00 anyway--which would require shaving 15 minutes off of his time in just 4 months!

And you know what? Come April, at his goal race, he ran 1:57! I was shocked, but very excited for him. That was a huge improvement! Next, he told me that he was going to sign up for his first marathon to take place that fall... and that he was going to aim for sub-4:00. Again, I didn't want to discourage him, but I never recommend having a time goal for one's first marathon--it's challenging enough just to finish, let alone worry about pace. But Dean is honestly the most determined person I've ever met...

In October 2014... Dean ran his first full marathon. His time? An insane 3:52:43!

He explained to me this concept of "shooting for the moon" (although he didn't call it that, I promise, haha). He aims for goals that are BEYOND what he really hopes, because even if he "fails", he'll still do better than he would if he'd aimed for something that seemed very "do-able".

Take goal weight, for example. I didn't tell anyone this, but when I was hoping to get down to 133 for my goal weight, I was secretly "aiming for" 125. That way, if I got down to, say, 130, would it mean I failed? Hell no!

If I'd been aiming for 133 and I actually got to 133, I'd have met my goal--but I would have stopped there because I met the goal. If you aim higher than your goal, you'll still be better off than if you just aim for something "do-able". We want to be better than "do-able"! 

When I was training for the Chicago Marathon in 2013, my goal was to "finish strong" (basically, to have a good race and not feel like shit when I finished). I also wanted to PR--that meant running under 4:51:51 (my previous marathon time at the Detroit Free Press Marathon).

When I trained? I trained as if I was going to run a 3:55 marathon. I followed the Hansons Marathon Method and I ran my training runs as if I was going to finish in 3:55. Deep down, I knew I wasn't even going to try to run sub-4:00 (I didn't really desire to), but I also knew that aiming for it in training would make my "easy marathon" feel good! I finished the race in 4:16:23, and I was THRILLED. I honestly believe that if I'd wanted to run 3:55 that day, I could have. But my goal was to feel good throughout the race.

If I had "only" aimed for a PR (less than 4:51:51), then I would have succeeded if I'd run 4:51:50. And yes that is still excited, but I wouldn't have hit my potential. I never would have DREAMED I could run 4:16:23!). 

I found this sign taped to the house when I got home from Chicago, hahaha. I LOVE IT.

Anyway, I realize this post is all over the place, but I am hoping to convince you that you CAN do the "Cookies Fall Hard Challenge". Yes, it's hard. Yes, you may "fail" at some of the guidelines. But even if you succeed at one of them, isn't that better than nothing?

Even if you only do it for ONE DAY, isn't that better than ZERO days?

So, I encourage you... if you are thinking of doing the Cookies Fall Hard Challenge, but you are worried you are going to fail, just give it a try! Shoot for the moon!

You can find all the information on this post: Cookies Fall Challenges (Official Rules and Sign-Up Sheet).

I'm very excited to start the challenges tomorrow. Yes, I'm aiming for all three! If I only aim for one, then I might succeed at one. But if I aim for three, maybe I'll succeed at one. Or two. Or all three! Who knows?! :) 

September 20, 2020

Summary of How I Did With My Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge

This year marked the fourth annual Cookies Summer Run/Walk Challenge--a checklist of 56 items to work on completing throughout the summer. The challenge start on the summer solstice and ends on the fall equinox. 

Each year, I say I am going to do ALL of the checklist. I start out strong and then just forget about it a month in. I've always done the running challenge (it's the same either way; but I always chose to run instead of walk).

This year, I chose to walk, and I think that is what helped me the most. I didn't complete the entire checklist, but I'm super impressed with how many of the walks I *did* check off! Here is my list:

Aqua Jog  - Walk/jog in a pool or lake (or any body of water you choose)

✔ Beach Walk  - Find some place that you can walk along a body of water

✔ Bridge Walk - Walk over a bridge of some sort

✔ Early Bird Walk - Start your walk before 6:00 AM

✔ Even Split Walk - Walk 3+ miles with mile splits of less than 5 seconds difference (I couldn't do this again if I tried! Look at how close these splits are)

✔ Evening Walk - Start your walk between 5 PM and 7 PM

✔ Explorer Walk - Walk in a city you’ve never walked in before

✔ Fartlek Walk - Vary the speed of your walk by “walking very fast to the mailbox”, “strolling to the tree”, “walking hard until you see a red car”, etc. Make it up as you go along—it should be spontaneous and fun.

Forrest Gump Walk - Walk without a predetermined distance—just walk until you feel like stopping. Arrange ahead of time for a family member or friend to pick you up when you’re done.

✔ Generous Walk - Leave a few quarters in random places on your walk for others to find (it’s always fun to find a quarter!)

Heads or Tails Walk - Flip a coin every 2 minutes during the walk. If it’s heads, walk fast; if it’s tails, walk slow.

Hilly Walk - Find a hill, and walk quickly up then walk down 6-10 times

Multi-City Walk - Map out and walk a route that takes place in two cities

Night Owl Walk - Finish your walk after 10:00 PM

✔ Opposite Walk - Walk your favorite circular route in the opposite direction

✔ Park Walk - Go for a walk in a park

✔ Penny Pincher Walk - Find a penny (or other coin) on the ground while you’re walking (I find at least a penny on almost every walk I do!)

✔ Photogenic Walk - Stop and take 4 scenic photos during your walk

✔ Podcast Walk - Download a new podcast and listen to it while you walk

✔ Progression Walk - Walk 3+ miles with each mile faster than the previous

✔ Race - Enter a race (any distance) and walk it (official virtual races count)

✔ Rainy Walk - Go for a walk in the rain

✔ Rover Walk - Go for a walk with a dog (if you don’t have one, call a local animal shelter and ask if you can take one for a walk)

✔ Walk in the Dark - Go for walk when it’s dark outside (wear reflective gear and a headlamp for safety)

✔ Fast Walk/Stroll - Do 50/50 intervals of walking very fast and strolling

✔ Lunch Walk - Start your walk between 12 PM & 2 PM

✔ Runventure - Map a route that you’ve never done before, and walk it

Scavenger Hunt Walk - Create a list of 8 items you must search for on your walk; then take a photo of each to document your findings.

✔ Scenic Walk - Choose a pretty place to walk, and walk slowly enough to really pay attention to all the views

✔ Selfie Walk - Take a mid-walk selfie (carefully, so you don’t trip!)

✔ Silent Walk - Walk without headphones or a speaker of any kind

✔ Stone Age Walk - Walk without any sort of technology (not even a watch!)

✔ Sunrise Walk - Start your walk before sunrise, and end it after

✔ Sunset Walk - Start your walk before sunset, and end it after

✔ Tempo Walk - Walk slightly faster than your easy pace—it should feel uncomfortable, but not miserable

Track Walk - Walk on a local track (indoor or outdoor)

✔ Trail Walk - Walk on an unpaved nature trail

✔ Treadmill Walk - It doesn’t have to be boring! Hop on the treadmill and vary the speed and incline for an interesting indoor walk.

✔ Zoo Walk - See if you can spot five different types of animal species on your walk

✔ **Solstice Walk - Start your walk in spring, and end it in summer (June 20, at 5:43 PM ET, marks the beginning of summer)

✔ **Creative Ice Cream Flavors Walk - Walk for ice cream on Creative Ice Cream Day (Wednesday, July 1). Share a picture of your most creative ice cream concoction!

✔ **Independence Walk - Walk 4 miles on the 4th of July, wearing red, white, and blue.

✔ **Buck Full Moon Walk - Walk on the night of the Buck full moon, which takes place on July 5 at 12:44 AM (ET). If the moon is visible, it counts! (Despite the time)

✔ **Chocolate Walk - Go for a walk on World Chocolate Day (Tuesday, July 7) and enjoy something chocolatey later to celebrate

**Embrace Your Geekness Walk - Wear your nerdiest outfit for your walk on Embrace Your Geekness Day (July 13)

**Emoji Walk - Describe your entire walk with nothing but emojis for World Emoji Day (July 17)

**Friendship Walk - Go for a walk “with a friend” on International Day of Friendship. If we are still practicing social distancing, give a running friend a phone call after you each walk and discuss how it went. (July 30)

**Watermelon Walk - Eat some juicy watermelon to refresh after your walk on National Watermelon Day, Aug. 3

✔ **RUN FOR COOKIES! - Celebrate with a yummy chocolate chip cookie on National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, Aug. 4

✔ **Beer Walk - Go for a walk on International Beer Day (Friday, Aug. 7) and finish with a cold beer; Or for an alcohol-free option, walk for a root beer!

✔ **Corn Full Moon Walk - Walk on the night of the Corn Moon on Sept. 2 at 1:22 AM. (If the moon is visible, it counts—despite the time!)

✔ **Book Walk - Listen to an audiobook on National Book Day during your walk on Sept. 6 

**Labor Day Walk - Put some serious “work” into this walk to celebrate Labor Day on Sept. 7

✔ **Rock Walk - Look for a pretty or unique rock during your walk on Collect Rocks Day (Sept 16)

**Appreciate a Friend Walk - After your walk, write a “real” letter (on paper!) and mail it to a friend for National Women’s Friendship Day on Sept. 20

**Fall Equinox Walk - End your summer by running into fall at 9:30 AM (ET) on Sept. 22.

So, as of today, I've checked off 41 out of 55! The final walk (#56) will be on Tuesday. That walk will count as the final walk for the summer challenge AND the first walk of the fall challenge!

Even though I didn't do all of the walks on the summer list, I'm pretty impressed with myself for what I did do. 

And I'm very excited to get started on the (three!) fall challenges! You can check out the details on this post--for the mileage challenge, you must sign up before tomorrow at 11:59 PM ET. I hope you'll join in!

September 19, 2020

Saturday Night Bullets

Whew! What a day. I don't know if my back has ever been this sore.

I've had a bad back as long as I can remember--even when I was as young as eight years old. It's super frustrating because NOTHING helps it, and I've seen several specialists, done the therapies, etc. Nobody can really tell me what's wrong or how to fix it, ugh.

Anyway, I was ready to collapse by 2:00 PM today. I went for my morning walk after chatting with Jerry when he got home from work at 6:30 AM. Then I worked on the front porch until 1:00 PM. Then I went for my second walk and was feeling the pain big time by the time I got home. Then I sat down with my heating pad. I hate having chronic back pain!

I don't have a lot to write about, so here is a little of this and that...

**I started tearing down the front porch. It all started with a teardown and bonfire...

(The Lowe's bucket on the right is full of water in case it got out of control--that was a big fire!)

**It's been SO HARD to find pressure treated lumber (it's treated with some sort of chemical for outdoor use so that it doesn't break down from the weather). Because of the wild fires in the Pacific Northwest, lumber has tripled in cost and is very hard to come by.

I will post pictures of the porch when I finish it. I'll probably finish it tomorrow or Monday.

**I'm so sad that my most favorite place I've ever visited is being destroyed by fire. And I don't say this lightly! Every time I've gone to Oregon/Seattle I've gone hiking--I LOVE the trees and clean air and everything about the atmosphere there.

I went to the Toledo Lowe's (the one closest to me didn't have anything in stock) and was able to buy most of what I needed. The 2x6's were out of stock, but I was able to get them later. When I went to the Lowe's in Toledo, I brought along my circular saw, tape measure (which is affectionally named the M.W.--inside joke), pencil, safety glasses, and speed square. I was fully prepared to cut down the long boards in order to fit them into my Jeep Renegade.

I had to buy a lot of lumber, and I fully expected to be cutting it down in the parking lot for an hour or more. But a super sweet (and very easy on the eyes!) male employee helped me out and cut everything for me. I knew Lowe's would cut plywood down, but I wasn't sure about the long 5/4 boards (the Lowe's nearest to me won't cut treated lumber because of the fumes).

Because everything was cut down to less than 6 feet long, I was able to fit into the Jeep, no problem! I even got a few stair stringers.

**Joey and I have a new favorite walking route in the mornings. During a typical route, I decided to turn into what I thought was a small park area but turned out to be a pretty large open park. It's in the middle of the peninsula--we used to walk the perimeter of the peninsula on the road, but the park is in the center of the peninsula with the road going around it.

Our usual route on the road:

And walking the center, where he can go off-leash. I usually circle this twice--it's 2/3 of a mile around:

I can let Joey off leash, which is awesome! It's surrounded by a canal, so even if he was to disobey me and run off--he never does; he's actually REALLY good about staying nearby--he would be stopped by the canal. I've been using the walks as a way to train him--when I whistle and hold my arm up, he runs to me immediately and I give him a small treat. Sometimes I'll tell him to sit and stay while I walk way ahead to where he can't see me, and then I'll whistle. He's great about staying until I whistle!

**I think Jerry got tired of seeing my "boob money" on the counter in the bathroom. We call it "boob money" because whenever I find change while I'm walking, I tuck it into my sports bra. When I get home, I set it on the counter in the bathroom--and I've collected quite a pile! Today, I saw this on the counter where my pile of change usually is... BAHAHA! (It says "Not Political" on the side, because I'm "Walking 4 Change" for my own benefit, I guess! 😂)

**As I write this, Duck is TOTALLY passed out to the world. He's sitting on my lap while I sit on the couch (with the heating pad on my back!) and I've never seen him so limp and lifeless. It's hilarious. (I have to pee so badly, but I don't want to get up and disturb him--I know you other cat-lovers can empathize!)

**Don't forget, I posted about the Cookies Fall Challenges, so if you're interested in doing those, make sure you check out this post before it starts on September 22nd!

September 18, 2020

What I've Been Reading, Watching, Listening To...

Yesterday, I posted the Cookies Fall Challenges (there are three!) so if you're interested in participating in those, you can find the details on yesterday's post.

One of the challenges is very similar to 75 Hard, which I've been doing for... 50-something days now. Because of 75 Hard, I've listened to several audiobooks lately. I've also been reading a bit and have watched a couple of things worth mentioning.

(Links in this post are Amazon affiliate links--just meaning that if you were to purchase through the links, I may get a small commission)


'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' by Suzanne Collins - This is the prequel to The Hunger Games series. I really enjoyed this, but nowhere near as much as The Hunger Games. It took place 60-something years before The Hunger Games, when the Games were only going on for about 10 years.

'Where the Crawdads Sing' by Delia Owens - I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. I hadn't been so engrossed in a book in well over a decade. I heard great things about it, but the synopsis didn't interest me.

Finally, I wanted to read something so I just decided to give it a try and after a chapter or so, I was hooked. I literally couldn't stop reading it! I carried my Kindle around with me, reading whenever I had a spare second. Definitely don't let the synopsis turn you away; it doesn't do it justice at all!

'If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood' by Gregg Olsen - I apparently read one of his other books, 'The Last Thing She Ever Did', and I really liked it. I loved that he wasn't afraid to be graphically descriptive of uncomfortable things (hmm, I wonder what this says about me?).

'If You Tell' was the same. (Trigger warning of child abuse.) This is based on a true story (which is shocking).  I discovered that I really like this author--I just started another of his books.


'The Social Dilemma' on Netflix - Holy smokes. This is scary as shit. It's a documentary about social media and the "behind the scenes" things that the social media companies are tracking about each of US.

There are interviews with former high-up employees of the companies who won't even let their children use social media because they know that your privacy is GONE before you even blink. I made my kids watch this documentary because I wanted them to see the power that is behind these "harmless" apps like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. I think everyone should watch this!

'Girlfriends Guide to Divorce' on Netflix - This is a guilty pleasure drama that I only watch while on the treadmill. And since I do 99% of my walks outside, I've only watched about eight episodes or so of this show. Nevertheless, I love it! I know that if I didn't have the "rule" about only watching it on the treadmill, I'd binge watch all the seasons in a matter of a couple of days.

Listening To

I've been listening to audiobooks while I walk. And I walk a quite a bit--90 minutes a day. I usually listen to the audiobooks on 1.2-1.5x speed, so I get through them a little faster. I really love listening to memoirs--particularly addiction, mental illness, or survival memoirs.

I do want to mention that I'm very picky about the narrators of audiobooks--I won't listen to them if I don't like their narration in the first minute or so. But the following books are ones that I very much enjoyed the narration, and if I recommend an audiobook, it means I liked the narration. Here is what I've listened to recently...

'Drunk Mom' by Jowita Bydlowska - Wow. This book was VERY raw and honest. A new mother tells her story of her addiction to alcohol and the path that it led her down. She describes all of the poor decisions she made while under the influence and it was very hard for me to to fully grasp how she could justify them--but I really did love how honest it was. I feel like some memoirs gloss over the very bad times to keep from sounding "too bad"--but this was just the opposite.

'Dry' by Augusten Burroughs - I loved his memoir 'Running With Scissors', and I was very interested to listen to the audiobook (narrated by himself) about his path to sobriety from alcohol. It was very funny and I adored his narration. Because of his narration, I actually think this would be a better audiobook than if you were to read it. He has a great way of writing about sensitive topics in a lighthearted way.

'SEAL Team Six' by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin - After reading 'Can't Hurt Me' by David Goggins, I really wanted to read/listen to a memoir that was similar. I've always found military snipers fascinating--the amount of detail and mental calculation that they have to do in fractions of a second is mind-boggling to me--so this book interested me.

It's the memoir of a former sniper in the Navy SEAL Team Six (the elite of the elite). He writes about his training (which literally made my jaw drop a few times while I was out walking--I couldn't believe what goes into their training!) and then missions that he participated in (learning about the "behind the scenes" stuff was very interesting). 

'Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness' by Suzy Favor Hamilton - This book was not at all what I was expecting--but so good! I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I had no idea who Suzy Favor Hamilton is--she was an Olympian runner back in the 90's. I should have known that, right?!

This memoir is about her "secret life" as an escort in Las Vegas. There is so much that goes into it--her eating disorders as a teen, undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and her very public career with a very private personal life. Her descriptions of her personal life are jaw-droppingly honest and had me thinking, "I would never share that!" Hahaha. I love the honesty.

'On Call in the Arctic: A Doctor's Pursuit of Life, Love, and Miracles in the Alaskan Frontier' by Thomas J. Sims - This book was a random pick when I was desperate to find something to listen to, and I am SO glad that I chose it! It was one of the most fascinating memoirs I've read/listened to.

It's about a doctor fresh out of medical school that avoids the military draft by voluntarily going to Alaska to serve as the primary physician at a very small-town hospital. The equipment and "technology" are pretty much archaic and he has to improvise in just about every situation, making the best out of what he has to work with. He tells the craziest stories about his time there!

Warning--this is not a book for the squeamish. He is graphically descriptive of his medical procedures and if you are at all squeamish about that kind of thing, this is not the book for you!

I've just started listening to 'The Cuckoo's Cry' by Caroline Overington and I've started reading 'Lying Next to Me' by Gregg Olsen. I'll let you know what I think when I do another post like this!

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