Book Review! The Happiness Project (April to July)

This is the 2nd installment of my Happiness Project Review!
I started this project in January, you can read about the first installment here.

APRIL – Lighten Up – Parenthood
Goals: Sing in the morning, Acknowledge the reality of other people’s feelings, Be a treasure house of happy memories, Take time for projects
Review: I became insanely annoyed with author Gretchin Rubin at this point. I agree that reframing a negative outlook to a positive one is a healthy attitude that will lead to a happier life, but my goodness! She really seems like a Negative Nancy, I see why she felt the need to start this project.
My Experience: I had a easy time with singing, taking time for projects (such as this blog), & embracing happy memories. My struggle continues to be with other people’s feelings. I was perfectly fine acknowledging their feelings…it was dealing with them I had an issue with. This ties into being a good listener, which I will openly admit – I’m NOT. I can’t just listen, I want to get involved & become part of the solution. I have a friend that comes to me with her man problems & rather than just acknowledge how she feels & let her share, I say, “You have all the power in the world to leave, just leave!” Which isn’t making either of us happier or bringing us closer, so I tried & will continue to try  to JUST acknowledge her feelings.

MAY – Be Serious About Play – Leisure
Goals: Find more fun, Take time to be silly, Go off the path, Start a collection
Review: I continue to struggle with how I feel about Rubin. For example, she pretended to not like Harry Potter because she thought it was for kids. WHAT!? I’m not a fan of this. On the other hand, she also talks about her love for making “Blank Books” – decorating blank notebooks with magazine cut outs – something I also love to do. I kind of see Rubin as a warning, what I could turn out to be if I take life too seriously & don’t follow my passions.
My Experience: Find more fun/Take time to be silly/Go off the path were all easy goals to accomplish. I had recently moved back to SoCal & decided I would make much better use of my leisure time this summer by exploring more of what SoCal had to offer. My friends & I went on many wild adventures. Every time I live in SoCal I find new, exciting things to do & I’m more sad to leave than I was the time before. The only issue with these new adventures is the money they cost! It can be very expensive to be serious about play. I chose not to “Start a Collection” as I already collect things & honestly should work on slimming down my collections rather than adding to them.

JUNE – Make Time For Friends – Friendship
Goals: Remember birthdays, Be generous, Show up, Don’t gossip, Make 3 new friends
Review: I’m fairly certain I’ve mentioned my frustration with the research in this book, but it’s worth another mention. An example that irks me is on pg 157, Rubin says, “…research shows that…when introverts push themselves to act more outgoing, they usually enjoy it…”. I am in no way an expert, but I have my B.A. in Communication Studies & have studied how different personalities communicate. This contradicts most research I’ve read & I know at least a few Introverts that would disagree. I understand research isn’t perfect & when writing a research based piece such as this you only use supporting material. Perhaps I’m a tough audience because I have some background in the topics Rubin is discussing, but overall I don’t feel like I can trust the information, which is a turn off.
My Experience: During my birthday month I had a goal to remember birthdays! I turned off Facebook Birthday notifications to see which ones I genuinely remembered. While Rubin uses Bday greetings as a way to check in with friends, I feel like people “my age” are aware that Social Media is most likely the only reason their Bday was remembered. Any other attempt at communication feels fake, even if it’s not! Too often I’ve sent a Bday greeting & genuinely said, “Let’s catch up!”, only to have no response for whatever reason. The other goals are personal goals anyway, but it was good to reinforce them.

JULY – Buy Some Happiness – Money
Goals: Indulge in a modest splurge, Buy needful things, Spend out, Give something up
Review: Again, I’m more and more displeased with Rubin. No one is perfect, but her Goal in June is to not gossip, then in July, she delights in telling a story about a “wild and reckless guy” & how she was, “quite relieved when he broke his foot…because [it] prevented him from getting up to more mischief”. Uhh, okay? Not sure how that schadenfreude story is supposed to help me like her, but alright.
My Experience: My whole life is an experiment in splurging/buying things I need/giving up stuff I don’t, haha! Spending out was a little more challenging. The premise is somewhat related to “Be generous” and “There’s no time like the present”. Rubin made a good point while “Spending Out” that sometimes she saved blog post ideas for “the right time”. I often do the same thing or won’t create any content unless the setting is EXACTLY perfect, which sometimes results in the post never being created. In an effort to “Spend Out”, I started creating content even if the conditions weren’t just as I pictured them & no one even noticed. Overall, I felt more efficient and productive, which made me, yes, happier.

Quotes:
April – pg 109: “Although it’s true that taking photographs sometimes makes it hard to savor a moment when it’s happening, in the future, having pictures will help me recall a happy time”
YES. People always give me grief about taking pictures/group selfies or taking video at concerts, but I do it because I actually look back on those memories & it takes me back to that awesome moment.

May – pg 119: A quote from C.S. Lewis’s essay “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”: “When I was 10, I read fairy tales in secret & would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am 50 I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness & the desire to be very grown up.”
While I enjoy being a grown up, I don’t think that has to mean taking on a whole new set of “boring/serious adult interests”. The older I get, the less I care what other people think. I’m not cool, trendy, hip, whatever, I’m just me, & I like what I like. I think unhappy, insecure people try to trash talk other people’s interests.

This year is flying by & I’m obviously more than halfway finished with this book & project. I don’t necessarily feel that my whole life has changed in any substantial way or that my relationships have improved. As I mentioned earlier, I do feel slightly more efficient & productive in regards to my blog, which is making me happier in that aspect of my life. I’m also starting to feel that some of these goals are extremely similar in concept, just worded differently, so it’s feeling a bit repetitive.

What do you think of “The Happiness Project”? Have you read this or any similar “self help” type book? Please let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!

Week 3! Mid Week Update! The “Lowe” Down: Get Fit with Kylee Lowe!

Hello all!
I hope this post finds you all well! Today I’ll be posting my results & recapping my experience of Week 2 (Days 8 – 15) & giving a mid week update on my progress through Week 3 (Days 16 – 21) of the “Lowe” Down: Get Fit with Kylee Lowe! If you’ve been keeping up with the blog (click the FOLLOW button on the top right of this page to get email notifications whenever I post) you’ll remember the “Lowe” Down is a Health/Fitness Plan created for me by my friend and Fitness Guru, Miss Kylee Lowe. Check out her Instagram: @loveleeloe for fitness tips, yummy healthy recipes, and other fun goodies. Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 7.52.02 PM

WEEK 3 RESULTS
Week 2 Weight: ~ 5lbs                 > Week 3: About the same
Week 2 Measurements                > Week 3 Measurements
Biceps: (L) – 12”, (R) – 12.5”        Biceps: (L) – 11″, (R) – 11.5″
Chest/Bust: 42″                            Chest: 43″
Waist: 34”                                     Waist: 33″
Hips: 45.5”                                    Hips: 46″
Thighs: (L) – 26”, (R) – 25.75”      Thighs: (L) – 26.75″, (R) – 26″
I would be lying if I said these were the results I’m looking for, but I know this can be a slow process. I wish I was losing more weight, but I’m keeping in mind that numbers on the scale can be misleading and measurements and how I feel are more important. With that being said, although I’ve gained some inches back in my Chest/Hips/Thighs, I think that makes sense based on the Weight Lifting plan I’m on. I’m still losing in my waist, so that’s keeping me motivated. Also, I can feel my body changing – I know it hasn’t been that long – but I feel leaner and lighter. Other people have even commented that I look taller, I’m obviously not – haha!, but I think that’s due to my muscles changing which is causing my posture to change.

Days 8 – 14:
Week 2 had some interesting highs and lows. Around Day 10 I started feeling sick after some of the more vegetable heavy meals, such as the Green Juice and the Veggies/Hummus snack. I guess maybe that was my body getting used to the changes, but I’d been eating the same food all week with no negative reaction – I’m not sure what changed. I tried to stick to the meal plan as best as I could, but as soon as my stomach started to feel queasy, I stopped eating. I didn’t binge on other foods, which is obviously a plus, but I’m sure it’s not great that I wasn’t finishing all the meals. I’m happy to be going to the gym on a regular basis. I do enjoy working out, believe it or not. I’m just not sure I’m doing the right stuff or that my form is correct – one of the negatives of having your trainer live in a different state! 😦 I might look into working with a Personal Trainer from my gym just for a session on proper form. I’ve also signed up for a month long pass at a Dance Studio that offers Hot Hula, Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, etc, and I’m really excited to start that in March.

The “Lowe” Down – Week 3!

Days 15 – 21:
Not much to report this week. Week 3 is the same meal plan as Week 2. Fitness is almost the same – add another day of weight training. I was hoping to get some new recipes because I have enjoyed learning about proper portion size and different healthy recipes, but I guess if it’s not broke – don’t fix it!

Have you been following along with my posts about The “Lowe” Down? What are your thoughts at this point? I can’t wait to see the end results of all this after Week 4! Keep checking back to follow my progress and contact Kylee on Instagram: @loveleeloe if you’re interested in working with her on a Get Fit plan of your own! Thanks for reading, until next time…

Week 2! The “Lowe” Down: Get Fit with Kylee Lowe!

Hello again!
Today I’m going to be posting the results of Week 1 of The “Lowe” Down and the plan for Week 2. If you haven’t been following along, click here to read last week’s post about a new Collaboration I’m working on with my friend and Fitness Guru, Kylee Lowe. Follow her Instagram: @loveleeloe to get great fitness tips and contact her about getting The “Lowe” Down for yourself. Click the FOLLOW button on the top right of this page to subscribe to my blog and you’ll be notified when I post new updates! Also, Follow my Instagram: @missal_leigh to get sneak peeks of the plan in action!

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WEEK 1 RESULTS
Starting Weight: ~ 170 (like 173/174) > Week 2: ~ 5lbs
Starting Measurements                       > Week 2
Biceps: (L) – 13.25”, (R) – 13.5”            Biceps: (L) – 12″, (R) – 12.5″
Chest/Bust: 43”/36-38 DDD                 Chest: 42″
Waist: 36”                                             Waist: 34″
Hips: 45.5”                                            Hips: 45.5″
Thighs: (L) – 26.25”, (R) – 26.5”           Thighs: (L) – 26″, (R) – 25.75″
YAY, making progress! I feel much lighter and have more energy. Although I will say, I have a co-conspirator doing this with me, who wishes to remain anonymous, and she lost 12 pounds and 12 inches (!!!!) this week. I’m really proud of her for sticking with this, but I’m also a little jealous – haha!

Days 5 – 7:
The rest of Week 1 went really well! Again, maybe TMI for some, but you’ll be okay…I have NEVER gone pee this much in my life! The wonders of drinking water – haha! I’m not a huge water drinker, I mostly stick to juice, so drinking just water has been one of the biggest changes in my diet. It was a bit challenging to complete the Fitness portion because it’s been raining here, but I still got it done! Check my Instagram for some silly pictures of Bella after getting caught in the rain on our walk! I’ll be switching over to the gym from here on out, but I’d like to get Bella on a more consistent walking schedule because I think she enjoyed being out and about. As I mentioned in my Mid Week Update the food for days 4 – 7 was delicious. The menu has been changed up a bit for Week 2 & I have to say I’m sad to see my peanut butter and rice cake snack go, but it’s okay! I was somewhat surprised to see the Juices make a return, but I like the idea of learning how to incorporate Juicing into a Clean Diet.

                                                             The “Lowe” Down – Week 2!
Days 8 – 14:
Fitness: Running 6 of the 7 days for 30-45 minutes! Weight training 3 times.
*Before you eat/drink anything, drink a glass of lemon water after your morning run!
– Green Juice 8oz, 2 whole eggs cooked in coconut oil
– Green Smoothie
– Energy Juice, Mixed Raw Veggies, Hummus
– Lean Ground Turkey, Baby Spinach, Avocado, Fat Free dressing or Hot Sauce  & Tea
– Protein Shake
– Chicken, Brown Rice or Sweet Potatoes, Veggies
*Just before bed, drink hot tea or hot water & add lemon & cayenne pepper

So there ya have it! We’ve made it to Week 2! What do you think so far? Please leave me any of your comments/questions/concerns in the comments and be sure to contact Kylee through her Instagram: @loveleeloe to get the full details of the plan.

Hello 2013!

Hello again Bloggies!
It’s definitely been a loooong time since I’ve posted here. Since I have so few posts from when I originally started this blog in 2011, I’m not sure if I should delete them or not to get a fresh start. We’ll see.

I’m making it one of my New Year’s resolutions to keep up with my blog this year! My main goal is to keep this blog updated at least once a week with a general life update, and also include movie, book, and product reviews as often as I watch a movie, finish a book, or buy a new product. I’ll also try to include crossovers from my Pinterest page, like recipes and DIY’s I try. I’m going to try and educate myself on the finer points of vlogging so I’ll be posting videos here and/or on YouTube to just put myself on camera and possibly post videos of some physical training I’ll be starting. These are my goals, but achieving them is totally dependent on how much time I’m able to devote since I’ll be working over 40 hours a week at my internship.

I’ve decided to make my blog a priority for a few reasons…
1. Communication
Since I’ll be moving back to SoCal again I figured keeping this blog updated regularly would be the best way to keep all my family in the loop about what I’m doing.
2. Memories
When I moved to SoCal last time I didn’t do a great job of writing down the fun things I did in any sort of journal form, which I’m usually pretty good about, so this time around I wanted to have a more concrete way to keep my memories all together…maybe someday I’ll print it all out and publish a memoir! Lol.
3. Education/Career Goals
I’m a Communications major with goals of going into Public Relations, mainly publicity work in the entertainment field. This means at some point I could end up running someone’s Twitter, Facebook, blog, or issuing statements on their behalf. Obviously I have experience running my own Facebook, but that’s not really enough. If all goes according to plan with this blog, it will be evidence that I’m capable of successfully running multiple online social media outlets in a professional and competent manner. Also, recording videos for Youtube will help me gain on camera experience which I feel like will help prepare me for future press conferences and other public speaking forums and editing the videos will help my technological skills.

Well, I think that’s all for now. I plan on uploading a movie review on The Guilt Trip featuring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand, a book review on The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht, and possibly a video haul of some Christmas gifts, VERY VERY soon!

Until next time…
Al-Leigh