Maintaining a Health and Fitness Routine During Quarantine

So, it’s been a while. Last time I posted on this blog was a sunnier time, with only a slight fear of pandemic looming on the horizon. Now, no matter where you are, COVID-19 is probably the top thing on your mind.

As I maintain a regular exercise routine at a local gym, I was skeptical about my ability to continue this while also social distancing. However, I’ve found a plethora of resources that have made it easier than ever to stay fit.

Many gyms have begun to offer online courses. My local gym started offering live online yoga and HIIT classes. They even rented out their spin bikes and now run online spin courses as well.

The internet is great resource to find classes like this, and more. Look at fitness influencers or local gyms on Instagram. Currently, I am following an online ab challenge from @fit.like.krys on Instagram. Turn to MindBody to find class schedules for online, typically zoom, courses.

It’s important to get outside during this crisis. It can help both mental and physical health. Try to bike, run, walk, or just sit outside for a bit. Just remember to stay 6 feet away from anyone else.

Eating healthy is also imperative to maintaining a healthy routine and immune system. Stick to vegetables and other whole foods. Currently, I am making my way through three days’ worth of healthy meals delivered from a local restaurant. Look around to see if there is anything like that near you–it allows you to stay healthy while helping local businesses.

Many fitness companies are currently offering freebies to those cooped up at home. Pure Barre is offering an extended free trial of their video courses, as well as Peloton. There are plenty of workout videos you can find on Youtube, as well. Favorites include Yoga with Adriene and Blogilates.

What have you been doing to stay fit and sane during the past few weeks? Let me know in the comments below.

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Review: Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age is all the rage (no rhyme intended) these days. The novel packs a story of backstabbing and coming of age amongst heavier topics of race, class, and gender.

Image result for such a fun age

The novel follows Emira, a recent graduate of Temple University with a degree in English Literature. Emira is somewhat disappointed to find her only position after college to be a babysitting gig for Briar, the daughter of Alix Chamberlain. Alix runs a “female empowerment” brand called Let Her Speak. Alix is obsessed with own influence and blind to her disregard for the actual humans around her. With this character, Kiley Reid pokes fun at white female influencers who proclaim their own “wokeness” while continuing to uphold their privilege over others.

The story begins when Emira is stopped by a security guard who doubts that she’s actually a babysitter, and accuses her of trying to kidnap Briar. A bystander videotapes the encounter. His name is Kelly, and, after Emira begs him to delete the video, they begin a romantic relationship. But Kelly has secrets of his own. After the video mysteriously resurfaces, tensions rise to the surface and erupt on a televised interview.

This was a quick, intense read. It was well-written and contained nuanced, detailed characters. This was a really great read for our times, and a way to change our perspectives on the beliefs and positions we’ve held to be the norm.

Rating: 4/5 stars

How to get Freelance Writing Jobs

So you want to get paid to write–Where do you start? There are plenty of online and in-person platforms out there for you to get connected with online publications and those looking to fill their content creation needs. Of course, you must hone your skills and create a portfolio first, but afterwards, these are some of the places where you can find work:

Upwork

Upwork is a great resource for freelance jobs of any kind. You can find personal assistant, blogging, or other writing jobs on here. I’ve written freelance for multiple blogs and publications through Upwork. It’s a website on which companies and individuals can post freelance job offerings. You need “connects” to apply for jobs. You can pay for these, or you are given a set amount for free. You can pitch a price or follow the employers offering. You also create a profile where you can display your portfolio and past projects. 

AngelList

AngelList is a job board, like Linkedin, for startups. You can search for freelance content creation positions on here, though there are typically more openings for tech-related jobs on here. I currently work a freelance content marketing job through this website. 

Linkedin

Though Linkedin primarily posts full-time positions, you are also able to find part time work or freelance work on the website if you are searching for the right things. 

Pitching on your own

If there is a publication that you want to write for, and they accept submissions, try going this route. Unfortunately, a lot of online publications won’t pay well or at all for submitted pieces. Try to start smaller in order to build your portfolio, then pitch to bigger companies.

Send out your info

Another way to get freelance writing work is the old-fashioned way–you can create business cards with your information and links to your portfolio on them, and leave them up in coffee shops and other local businesses. 

Creating a Portfolio

In order to gain freelance writing work, you have to get your  voice out there. This can be through a portfolio website, like clippings.me, or a personal blog. A personal blog is your best bet, as it allows you to start publishing work yourself, and maintain a carefully curated internet presence.

Do you have any experience freelance writing? Let me know.

Why it Helps to Have “Range”

Every so often, there comes around a new career book that disrupts everything we’ve commonly held to be true. Take the highly popular Grit by Angela Duckworth, that helped to dismantle beliefs in inherent skill and genius, and instead placed emphasis on the importance of effort, coining the term “grit” and starting a movement. Or Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, which similarly examined the circumstances, not inherent genius, that contributed to success, turning our conceptions of billionaires and historical figures on their heads.

David Epstein’s Range looks at the importance of what, and how much, we focus on. It criticizes a one-track pathway, and instead looks at the ways in which having a range of skills helps people to succeed. Range explores this through a variety of case studies–initially following a comparison between the training of Tiger Woods and tennis player Roger Federer. Like the books that came before it, Range also dismantles what we have commonly held to be true and/or good–that being the best in one specific pursuit is something to brag about and tout. Instead, it is increasingly more helpful to have a variety of skills. In science, education, etc., this helps people be more prepared for the problems they have to tackle.

I really enjoyed Range, and it provided me with helpful advice as I continue to develop my own skills and plan on entering the work force. I found it to be written in a straightforward, conversational, and easy to read way. The case studies and experiments outlined in the book were interesting and clear to follow. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in the subject of skill and anyone looking to examine their own “range”.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Review: Evie Dunmore’s Bringing Down the Duke

If historical fiction and/or romance is your thing, Evie Dunmore’s Bringing Down the Duke is a must-read. The new novel follows Annabelle, a member of a suffragist movement and one of scarce few female students at Oxford University. Annabelle is charged with following Duke Sebastian Montgomery, in attempts to sway his political beliefs and convince him to vote for an amendment that will allow women to vote.

It is not long, however, before Sebastian finds himself unable to resist Annabelle’s charms. Yet a relationship between the two, who come from different classes and different aims, seems impossible. The two continue to come together and apart until some form of solution is found.

I absolutely loved this book. The romance was very similar to Pride and Prejudice–bickering turns to love and back again to bickering. The relationship between Sebastian and Annabelle is intense and swoon-inducing.

The historical aspects of the novel are interesting and important, as well. It illustrates the ways in which women were restricted from making their own decisions and owning their own property, and the ways in which they were treated by the men around them. The struggle for the vote comes through in scenes of protests and back-stage political calculations. The women in the suffragist group serve to both entertain and inform readers, their conversations at time humorous, and at others poignant messages on the ways in which women were prevented from leading their own lives.

One complaint: the political aspect of the story at many times took a back seat to the romance, and Annabelle did not seem to be doing much real work for the cause. It may come across as problematic that her romantic relationship with a man is what serves to truly help their efforts in the end, not her own individual work. Though her intellect and passion for the cause is what serves to change Duke Montgomery’s mind.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical romance!

Rating: 5 Stars!

My Best Books of 2019

2019 was my year of audiobooks. I eagerly consumed book after book in audiobook form after getting into knitting. I’m so glad to have found a way to multitask and get in more reading. It was also a year of book clubs, and some of these are from those as well. I read a combination of new and old, fiction and nonfiction, and I am excited to share them here with you. The following are my top ten books, in no particular order: 

Olive, Again

I must confess I never read the previous book—Olive Kitteridge. But I am currently almost finished with the audiobook version of this and I am in love. It is written as the combination of many different lives and experiences in the same small town in Maine and has such a genuine and true heart. 

Dominicana

Dominicana explores the history of immigration to America through the fictional story of one woman. This was a quick and entertaining yet powerful read. 

Miracle Creek

Miracle Creek was one of the best audiobooks that I read this year. It is at once a thrilling mystery and emotional exploration of family, immigration, and raising special needs children. 

Christmas Shopaholic

Though I have never read any of the other books in the Shopaholic series, I really loved this one. It put me in the Christmas spirit like nothing else. Becky’s personality and her shopping habit are unique, lovable, and hilarious. 

Educated

Tara Westover’s Educated was definitely my favorite memoir of the year. Westover overcomes extreme odds, growing up in a fundamentalist mormon family and experiencing abuse at the hands of her brother. Yet she overcomes this to become a highly educated, respected academic. 

Maybe you should Talk to Someone

In a year when everyone seems to need therapy, this memoir was a great exploration of the practice through such a personal point of view. The book explores a therapist’s perspective of going to therapy herself after a particularly painful breakup. 

Children of Blood and Bone

This was my favorite fantasy book of the year. It is a very popular YA novel that explores clashes between groups, kingdoms, and family members, with a little magic added in. 

An American Marriage

I read this for a book club and absolutely loved it, though it could be heartbreaking and frustrating. An American Marriage asks whether or not newlyweds can stick together after one of them is falsely accused of a crime, and spends five years in jail. 

Where’d you go, Bernadette

I may be a little late to this party, but I only recently listed to this on audiobook. I loved it for its humor, warmth, and ability to stay down to earth while tackling big issues. 

Ducks, Newburyport

The most experimental book on this list, Ducks, Newburyport is essentially one extremely long sentence. It offers a glimpse into the mind and life of one women, and explores pressing issues of today from a warm and personal standpoint. 

What were your favorite books this year? Let me know in the comments. 

Affiliate links to Books a Million. I receive commission for purchases made through these links. Great hardcover books for only $5! Shop now!

How Joining Groups on Meetup.com can Improve your Professional and Personal Skills

Why join?

In my adventures after college graduation, I needed something to fill my time both socially and productively. I had heard a lot about the meetup.com app and website where users can create groups and events, and decided to give it a try. I completed an account and took a look at the events in my area. In the central New Jersey area where I live, there were a lot of hiking clubs. This is where I started.

two person walking towards mountain covered with snow

Immediately, Meetup provided me with a way to explore my hometown and home area in a completely new way. I was introduced to people and trails that I had never heard of before. Thanks to Meetup, I found plenty of new hiking areas around me. This helped me get outside and active, but also become more social.

What does Meetup have to offer?

Each group I joined introduced me to even more groups. From my first hiking club, one specifically for 20s and 30s members in my area, I met a woman who also ran a book club that met at a local Panera. It did not take long for me, a long-running book devourer, to join. One Tuesday a month, we met to discuss new books, typically fiction that spoke to the female, 20s and 30s audience. Many of them ended up being from Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club.

people tossing their clear wine glasses

Another club I joined was called the “Wining Women”, ha ha. It was a group of women in their twenties and thirties who go together to drink wine or hang out at other fun events like bowling alleys and axe throwing. My first event in this club was at SM23, a hidden gem of a cocktail bar in Morristown, NJ. We shared stories of work, listened to music, and got creative drinks at the funky bar.

Through my book club I was introduced to yet another book club, this one a more personal theme–each month, we met at a member’s house, and each participant was charged with bringing a home-cooked dish relating to a chosen theme. We brought “food that reminds you of the water,” for Where the Crawdads Sing, and “southern food” for the Georgia-set An American Marriage. Our conversations hit deep into the meanings of the books, and friendships were forged. This club even inspired an article that I wrote for The Attic on Eighth about pairing books with food.

What does this have to do with a career?

All of these clubs have provided opportunities not only for friendship but networking and professional development, as well. I gained contacts in fields that I was looking for jobs in, particularly higher education and publishing, and receiving great help on applications from the willing and selfless new friends. They also inspired me to get outside, and gave me a schedule to make up for a lack in productive use of time.

I enjoyed these clubs so much that I have since started my own in a way. I have begun teaching basic knitting skills to members of my original book club. This is something that has, as well, encouraged me to break out of my shell and taught me valuable skills.

Have you ever tried meetup.com? What did you think?

Staying Productive During the Holidays

You probably view the holiday season as a time to wind down, relax, and lay on the couch eating homemade cookies. And it certainly can be. But don’t waste perfectly good time that can be used to plan and improve your skills for the coming months. Below are a few ways to utilize this time in order to continue staying up to date with your job search.

  • View holiday parties as networking opportunities: Don’t just chat mindlessly, but ask friends and family what they are up to and see if they know anyone working for a company you would enjoy working with. Take these constant social gatherings to be new opportunities for growth.
  • Keep applying: The holidays may be seen as a “dead” time to hear back from employers, but continue job hunting and getting your resume out there. Maybe you won’t hear back until later, but take this time to send in the perfect application.
  • Spruce up your resume: Take the time off to brush the dust off of your resume. Check out some new resume templates or samples online for inspiration. Add new positions and skills, and make sure it serves to pack a powerful punch for future recruiters.
  • Find connections from your family: Older family members can be a great resource for career advice, particularly if they are working in the same line as you. Family members closer in age can also help with advice and connections–for example, I was recently put in touch with a new contact working in publishing thanks to my cousin.
  • Develop your skills: take online courses in coding, marketing, or even literature. Hubspot Academy and edx are just a few of the sources to go to to find free or inexpensive courses that will help you to grow your skillset and knowledge.
  • Practice Interviewing: Take this time to run a practice interview with a friend or family member, and prepare strong answers to interview questions. Find more tips here.
  • Plus–Get the perfect interview outfit: Maybe you could even ask for this as a gift. It’s important to look the part when interviewing for a job, so prepare yourself this holiday season.

What other advice do you have? What are your plans for the holidays?

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Great Read about Life, Love, and Therapy

In 2019 it seems that everyone is talking to someone, and, with an overall influx of anxiety and a focus on mental health, openly speaking about therapy is more commonplace than it ever has been. But, talking about our issues and emotions has never been easy. Lori Gottlieb explores this through her own experiences as both patient and therapist in Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. The memoir follows her life and the choices that led her to what she describes as a very rewarding career as a therapist.

She details her relationship with clients who present various problems. There is John, a seemingly curmudgeonly man who works on a very popular TV show. Even John is hiding painful pasts and emotions that are brought out in sessions. Then there’s Julie, a college professor coming to terms with her cancer diagnosis. Lori explains the nuances of relationship between client and therapist, and even what to do in cases of seeing someone in public.

Lori details her experiences both as therapist and as a patient with the therapist she coins “Wendell”. Lori decides to go to therapy after a shocking and unexpected breakup that leaves her anxious and constantly teary. Wendell helps Lori to unpack and rethink her thoughts about her ex, herself, and her child. Along the way, you learn about Lori’s life and about the history and methodology of psychotherapy.

I really enjoyed this read, and it provided a humorous, personable look into the histories that bring people into therapy. I think that it demystified the practice, and hopefully inspires more people to “talk to someone”.

Carrie Kerpen’s “Work It”: An Excellent Source for Professional Development Advice

Carrie Kerpen’s Work It: Secrets for Success from the Boldest Women in Business, features advice for young, female professionals and those starting off on their own. It features interviews from professionals including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. Kerpen is also the host of the podcast “All the Social Ladies”. 

This was one of the first strictly career development books I have read, and I found it to very very inspiring and helpful. As a young women starting to build my career, many of the interviews and notes included spoke to my current journey. I enjoyed the format of the book, which was broken into organized chapters that also contained graphics and bullet points of best practices, plus parts you are able to fill out yourself. I think that this was a really great way to get in touch with your career goals and break away from negative thinking. 

Work It was written for women in the career force, and it includes a chapter on balancing family and career and on navigating a hostile work environment. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on networking and building a “squad” of powerful women to support your efforts. Networking is a big focus of the book, and I learned to not be afraid to send direct emails to people you want to gain advice or work from. I also learned to view networking as a never-ending activity, and to do it even in casual situations. Anyone can be a helpful contact. I also learned how to be able to say “no” when requests are unnecessary or harmful to my goals, and how to get over failures and move on to new endeavors. This was an excellent source for women looking to become entrepreneurs.  

The interviews in this book were particularly helpful, seeing how this is what Maggie does regularly for her podcast. Each women shared advice that aligned with the goals of the chapter, and included heartfelt personal anecdotes.

Overall, I was really pleased with the quality of this book and recommend it for any woman in the work force looking to grow or start their own business.