Essay in Honeysuckle Mag

Agnes and Paul

Over the past two years I’ve kept my published work separate from this site. I think the main reason I did that is because I wanted to keep this focused on things outside of dating and relationships and a lot of my work touches on that. But since I want to focus on my writing more this year it seems to only make sense to share the links to my work here and let you choose whether to read or not to read.

Here is an essay I wrote about finding my grandmother’s diary and what she reported dating to be like in her 70’s. You can read it on Honeysuckle Magazine.

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Mindful Monday: Write Every Day

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The past year or so I found it hard to write on a regular schedule. I felt blocked, which was hard since writing is something that I love. So I decided to get into the habit of writing a bit every day this month, but not put rules on what type of writing or how long to spend on it each day.

Sometimes I write blog posts, sometimes I work on essays or assignments from editors, and some days I just journal or work on a pitch letter. Some days I don’t want to write, but I feel it’s better to at least practice than just wait for the muse to strike. It’s better to be prepared for inspiration when it strikes by working on your craft.

If you are thinking about writing and feel stuck here are some books I’d recommend:

The Artist’s Way by Julie Cameron
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Only As Good As Your Word: Writing Lessons from My Favorite Literary Gurus by Susan Shapiro
How to Blog for Profit: Without Losing Your Soul by Ruth Soukup

Bullet Journal: Daily Tasks

If you follow my Instagram you probably know that I love my Passion Planner. I started using one last year and it has helped me stay more organized in my life. I do use the calendar section for all my appointments both professional and personal, but I use the blank pages the focus on my life outside of work, mostly because I use an online task management program for my projects at the office. I love tracking my home life offline though.

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One thing I’ve started is a “Today” section. Before I go to bed I go through the day, check off what I’ve accomplished, and write out my desks for tomorrow. I’ve kept it simple. I focus on my meals, a to-do list, workouts, and writing. I have a few rules to keep it manageable and productive.

  1. I don’t assign myself more than three tasks in any section and sometimes I only assign one or two. This helps me from overwhelming myself like I tend to do when I’m overly ambitious.
  2. If I don’t complete something I don’t sweat it. I save it for the next day.
  3. I make sure to include something I really want to do and treat it with the same level of priority as something I “have” to do. Trust me I’m a lot more motivated to do laundry if I know that working on an article is something that is just as important.

I’ll be sharing more of my bullet journal hacks throughout the year.

Splendid Spoon

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One of my goals for January was to eat more whole foods. I’m sure this is a goal for many coming off of the holidays. To make it a little easy at the suggestion of a colleague I decided to give Splendid Spoon a try.

Splendid Spoon is a weekly delivery service that sends pre-cooked vegan meals to your door. There are different plans. I’m currently trying the full program which consists of 5 breakfast smoothies, 5 lunches, and a one day cleanse which includes 4 soups and one light meal.

I may switch to the lunch only plan in the future, but starting off with the full plan has been a great way to kickstart eating wholesome food. Like anything, there are pros and cons to the service.

Pros 

  • Meals are gluten-free and vegan so they work for most people’s diets
  • Compared to other plans the price is reasonable $65 if you do breakfast only, lunch only, or cleanse only and $135 for the full program. If you do the math the full program is about $10 per meal.
  • They are a rewards program and referral program so you can save money on future orders
  • You can ask for certain foods not to be included in your plan such as soy, spicy ingredients, peanuts, etc.
  • You can skip weeks if you are traveling or busy
  • You can choose from a menu the week before your delivery arrives if you want to make any changes to your meals.

Cons

  • This doesn’t work if you are doing a strict AIP plan. While you can avoid many ingredients seeds, nuts, nightshades, and grains like lentils are part of many of the meals.
  • If you have a tree nut allergy you can’t do the full plan because the breakfast shakes all contain tree nuts, but they are working on a solution for the future.
  • There is a lot of packaging. They do work hard to keep it as minimal as possible and it is all recyclable or compostable though.

I’m in my first week so time will tell how much I enjoy this program and how long I decide to order one of the weekly packages, but I was very happy with my first package.

Top Ten: Theater

One of the reasons I always knew I’d end up in NYC is because I love theater. I was a drama club geek since grade school. I do get the performing bug every once and a while, but unfortunately for me, community theater tryouts aren’t easy to come by in a city where even the amateurs are professionals. I am very spoiled as an audience member though. I’ve seen so many incredible shows in New York.

Recently I was organizing my Playbills and programs and reminiscing about all the shows I’ve seen in the past decade or so. It was hard to narrow it down to 10 but, here are some of the show’s I’ve seen since moving to New York that have stuck with me all these years.

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1. Beckett Shorts

When: 2008

Where: New York Theater Workshop

Why: My sister and I went to see this my first winter in NYC. I had studied Beckett a bit in college, mostly his more well-known shows like Waiting for Godot and Endgame. This was a performance of four shorter works by Beckett, two of them without any dialogue. The unsettling score was by Philip Glass, but what made this show unforgettable was Mikhail Baryshnikov. The four roles he played demanded such extremes in physicality from complete stillness to frantic flight. What he can express through his face and body transcends language.

2. Company

When: 2011

Where: New York Philharmonic

Why: This is one of my soundtracks and a show I’ve always identified with. In my 20’s I related to the character Amy who was terrified of getting married. In my 30’s I connected to the protagonist Bobby the token single in his circle of friends who at times wants to be in a relationship but always finds himself afraid of fully committing to someone else. I’m sure in ten years I’ll connect to Joanne. The cast was incredible lead by Neil Patrick Harris. This was supposed to be a blocked concert but everyone was off book. This is a rare case where if you weren’t able to see one of the four live productions the one weekend it was performed you can stream or watch it on DVD.

Spring Awakening 

When: 2007

Where: Eugene O’Neil Theatre

Why: Even if I love a show I rarely see something more than once since Broadway tickets aren’t cheap. I did see this one twice though because it was so powerful. It was adapted from a 19th-century German play and featured a rock score by my junior high crush Ducan Sheik. The angst and discovery of self-identity and sexuality that everyone goes through in adolescence were explored by an incredible cast of young actors who would go on to achieve fame in theater, film, and television including Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter), Lea Michele (Glee), and John Gallager Jr. (American Idiot).

South Pacific

When: 2010

Where: Lincoln Center Theater at The Vivian Beaumont

Why: Rogers and Hammerstein were my gateway drug to musical theater. I’ve had the opportunity to see a number of their shows on stage, but this production was my favorite. It also introduced me to Opera singer Paulo Szot who I’ve seen now in Carmen at the Met and performing his cabaret act.

Time Stands Still

When: 2010

Where: Manhattan Theater Club

Why: This was a drama about a couple dealing with the aftermath of covering the Iraq War. James played by Brain D’arcy James is dealing with repressed PTSD and Sarah played by Laura Linney is dealing with a physical injury sustained by a roadside bomb but also questioning her professional and personal life as she adjusts to moving back into her old life. Subtle acting is the hardest to pull of and Laura Linney is simply brilliant.

Merrily We Roll Along

When: 2012

Where: New York City Center

Why: Another Sondheim, but unlike Company, Merrily We Roll Along wasn’t a hit when it premiered. City Center’s Encores is a fun series where every year they revive former Broadway shows some hits and some flops for two weekends only. I’ve seen a number of great productions there including Damn Yankees with Sean Hayes, Band Wagon with Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Bells Are Ringing with Kelli O’Hara. This was my favorite City Center show though and featured Lin Manuel Miranda as Charley.

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When: 2008

Where: Lyceum Theatre

Why: This was a show made for musical theater fans. Writers and stars Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell entered the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2004 which this show about writing a musical to submit to the competition. It eventually went Off-Broadway to the Vineyard Theater in 2006 and then to the Great White Way two years later. The show expanded on their journey during each incarnation. Co-stars Heidi Blickenstaff and Susan Blackwell were hilarious. This was one of the most fun shows I had ever seen.

The Heidi Chronicles

When: 2014

Where: Music Box Theatre

Why: This was a revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s play about a young woman whose journey happens to coincide with the second and third wave feminist movements. Elizabeth Moss played the titular character and although the play originally debuted in 1988, the monologue Heidi delivers towards the end of the show is still timely.

Sojourners 

When: 2015

Where: Playwrights Realm at The Duke

Why: Playwrights Realm is an Off-Broadway theater that produces two shows from up and coming playwrights every year. I’ve seen some fantastic shows there over the years including The Wolves, The Rape of The Sabine Women by Grace B. Matthias, and The Moors. This play by Mfoniso Udofia though really stuck with me. It’s about a young Nigerian couple who have immigrated to Houston, TX in the 1970s. The author is writing this as a series of plays about the various characters in this play and their children. I had the opportunity to see one of her other plays in this series this year, Her Portmontau at New York Theatre Workshop.

Lucky Guy

When: 2013

Where: Broadhurst Theatre

Why: This show received mediocre reviews, but I don’t really let critics’ opinions impact my own. I really enjoyed this show which Nora Ephron had written shortly before she passes away. It was the story of journalist Mike McAlary and the ups and downs of his career before his death. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I really enjoyed that this was a story about an average working class person who faced the various high notes and low points that we all do. It featured a great ensemble cast which included Tom Hanks, Courtney B. Vance, and Maura Tierney.

Duolingo

 

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Image from Duolingo 

 

I am not someone who naturally pics up on learning other languages. In school, I’d have to work my tail off to keep up because other languages don’t come easily to me. Over the years I’ve come to understand my strengths and weakness. I can memorize vocabulary words easily but stringing out sentences in the correct tenses requires more thought on my part. I can understand conversations and translate text in a language I’ve studied, but struggle with speaking and pronouncing words incorrectly.

That is why I love Duolingo. I’ve written about this app before, but I continue to sing it’s praises. This app allows you to practice the language of your choice in 5-10 minute lessons so there’s no excuse to not fit in practice. You work on your vocabulary, comprehension, listening, speaking, and conversation skills. It holds you accountable and encourages you to go back to practice on previous lessons when it thinks you may be rusty.

I have been a bit of a Francophile since childhood and I’m dying to improve my French skills. So one of my first challenges is to continue with the good Duolingo habit I’ve got going.

January Challenges

IMG_5989Last year I did a 365 project around cooking. It was fun, but I wanted to do something different this year. I wanted to focus on a number of things I want to achieve but do it in baby steps. These aren’t really goals they’re challenges. I plan on tackling five challenges each month. Sometimes I may repeat challenges if I don’t feel I did the challenge justice. Sometimes I may do something related to a previous month’s challenge even if I want to push myself further.  I may do challenges that are unrelated to other ones. We’ll see. I have ideas, but I’m allowing myself to be flexible. I’ll go into these specific challenges in more depth in other posts this month but they are:

1. Duolingo: Practice my French every day this month.

2. Read 4 Books: I have a challenge to read 50 books by the end of the year so I want to get into a good rhythm.

3. Eat Whole Food: The holidays are horrible for me. It’s sugar central! I want to get back to basics and detox in a healthy way.

4. Write Every Day: I used to write every day whether it was a blog post, working on an essay to submit for publications, or just journal/brainstorm.  I want to get back to that place.

5. Plan for 2018: I want to plan out what I want to work on and towards this year.