Friday, January 23, 2015

The Force is sort of okay-ish with this one.

Last Saturday, I ran in a 10K.

Why on Earth would I do something so crazy? What demon possessed my body and got me out of bed long before the sun on the Saturday morning of a three-day weekend?

That would be Darth Vader.

Yes, friends, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in June of 2014, I was all about the training for a half marathon and RunDisney announced their Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon weekend.

Not having yet crawled across the finish line of that Half I "ran" in Salt Lake City, I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to another one. And it's a darned good thing, because I barely lived to tell the tale of that fateful race.

(In fact, I might have never got around to telling you all the story. Did I tell you about it? It wasn't pretty...)

Anyways, I didn't want to jump right in and commit to another half, so I thought, Heck! I can do a 10K. I mean, that's half of a half. And if I'm going to do a half, I can certainly do HALF of one.

So I signed up for the 10K.

And then I proceeded to become amazingly lazy. And kind of crazy about the new man in my life. And mostly lazy.

And I just kept putting off training for that 10K.

"There's still plenty of time," My inner voice whispered. "You still have months."

Well, all of a sudden it was January 14th and three days before the race and I was like, Crap. What the heck am I supposed to do now?

I thought about bailing, but these RunDisney races are pricey, yo.  So I figured I should go for it.

Friday night, I picked up my bib and my shirt, and then I took off to "carb load" at dinner with a lovely couple from church.

(My definition of "carb load" is to "eat a crapload of Chinese food 10 hours before race time.")
A photo posted by Karen Peterson (@karenmpeterson) on
Saturday morning that alarm started blaring at the ridiculous hour of 3:30AM. The only reason that hour even exists is so that we have something to sleep through.

So I rolled out of bed, stumbled around putting on clothes and shoes and got in the car to drive the two miles to the parking structure. Which is just as ridiculous as it sounds in light of all the walking I was forced to endure that morning.

I'm not kidding. I parked in the Disneyland parking structure.

(Thankfully I have an annual pass and didn't have to pay the $17 for parking that should have been waived given how much the damn race cost in the first place, but whatever.)

Then I walked approximately 3/4 of a mile to the gathering area where they were showing scenes from Star Wars on a giant blow up screen and some guy was narrating and trying to get everyone excited about being up so crazy early. And then I had to walk another 1/2 mile or so to the starting line. So, really, driving saved me about 3/4 of a mile.

I don't always think things through.

The race started at 5:30. For the people in Corral A. I was in Corral D. My race started somewhere around 5:50. Somehow I missed that part in the instructions or I would have slept an extra 20 minutes or so.

I have a friend who was doing the race too and we were going to meet up and walk it together, but I never found her and I went by myself and that was mostly fine, except that there were parts where it would have been nice to have someone to complain to when the blisters started to form and my feet hurt.

She's probably glad I didn't find her, come to think of it.

The course ran on the street and over the freeway before going into Disneyland. Let me tell you, seeing Sleeping Beauty's Castle in the greenish-pink glow of sunrise is spectacular. I recommend seeing it. Someday. Preferably closer to noon.

We wound through Frontierland and over to Fantasyland. There were characters along the way and some runners were stopping and getting in line to get their pictures taken.

I was much too concerned with getting kicked off the course before the end to be bothered stopping for a photo op. So I kept going. Around Fantasyland, into Tomorrowland and off into the "backstage" area before winding around and into Disney's California Adventure, and then into a parking lot that would eventually lead to the finish line.

At some point while I was in DCA, a girl with an orange flag and a sign that said "Official Sixteen Minute Mile Marker" or something like that passed me. And I panicked because they said if you didn't keep a sixteen minute mile you would get kicked out of the race.

So I knew I had to keep up with her.

But every time I sped up, she sped up more. I swear, I was going faster and SO WAS SHE.

And then she was gone. Disappeared. I'm pretty sure she was taken away by the Force or jumped into hyper space or something because she was just no where to be found. And I knew I was going to miss out on crossing that finish line.

But I kept going, walking as fast as I could. My feet hurt too much to run anymore, but I still managed to stay upright.

This girl I didn't know just randomly started walking with me and talking to me and telling me I could do it. She had only been a little ahead of me and stopped to fix her shoe, but she stayed with me for that last .2 of the 6.2 miles and I was grateful for her. She was like my own personal Jedi Master telling me to "Use the Force, Karen," and "Trust my feelings, Karen." Although, really, my feelings were telling me to curl up and take a nap.

Anyway, she stayed with me across that finish line and it was as beautiful a sight as the finish line in Salt Lake City when I seriously thought I was about to die.

So I crossed that line and my race was over and I kept walking, following a path that led me to Powerade and more photographers and I got my picture taken and Disney wants SEVENTEEN BUCKS for it and I'm not paying that so I kept walking and got my snack box and walked and walked right back to my car and took my own finishing photo.

A photo posted by Karen Peterson (@karenmpeterson) on
I lived through it. And I feel pretty darned good about that.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Confession Wednesday: Movies and Sports and Jennifer Lawrence

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Hello, friends!

Are you ready for another round of confessions? Because I sure am! Let's get started!

• I ran a 10K on Saturday without training for a single minute. It was excruciating. But I finished. And I'll tell you more about it tomorrow.

• I included a movie in my Top 10 list that I hadn't actually finished watching yet. I had seen part of it and knew already that I loved it. I'm not going to say which one...(And yes, I had finished watching before any of you had even read the post.)

• I am more mad about The LEGO Movie not getting nominated for an Oscar than I should be. In fact, I'm more mad about that than I am about David Oyelowo not getting nominated. But NOT as mad as I am about the fact that Ava DuVernay was overlooked because she was robbed.

• I a little bit hate the Jennifer Lawrence remix of "The Hanging Tree" that's been all over the radio. I love JLaw. I like the song. I loved Mockingjay. But I just don't love the remix and I wish they would stop playing it.

• I'm kind of totally annoyed that the Seahawks are back in the Superbowl. Mostly because I can't stand Richard Sherman. So basically one guy has ruined the entire team for me. Go Patriots.

What are you confessing today? Link up below!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Karen's Top Ten Films of 2014

 I didn't see as many films as I wanted to this year. But I've seen some really great ones. Here are my Top 10 Favorites of 2014: 
10. Life Itself--The documentary about film critic Roger Ebert is one of my favorite documentaries ever. It's inspiring and sad and optimistic and very well done. 

9. Two Days, One Night--Marion Cotillard's Oscar-nominated performance in this Belgian film is desperate and sympathetic. The film is about a woman who has one weekend to convince her co-workers to give up their bonuses in order to save her job. It's a simple movie, but powerful.

8. We Are the Best!--Three 13-year-old girls decide to form a punk band. The only trouble is, they don't know how to play any instruments and have only written one song. It's a coming-of-age film that is funny and insightful and enjoyable.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy--If you haven't seen this, you missed one of the biggest films of the year. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go watch it.

6. The Imitation Game--I can't say enough good things about this one. Yes, it's about a code-breaker in World War II, but it's about so much more than that. I'm not a big Benedict Cumberbatch fan, but wow. 

5. Selma--I'm baffled that Ava DuVernay wasn't nominated for this film. It's fantastic and beautiful and inspiring and seriously deserving of so many more accolades.

4. American Sniper--I really liked this when I saw it back in November, and I like it more as I think about it more. Bradley Cooper's performance is transformative. This is Clint Eastwood's best film in years. 

3. Birdman--Quirky and a little bit weird, but I really enjoyed this film about a washed-up actor struggling to maintain his relevance. The performances are outstanding, the writing is great, and the decision to put it together to look like one continual sequence is a risk that paid off.

2. Boyhood--This is just such a cool idea that really worked. Getting the same actors together every year for twelve years to put together a film about growing up? Brilliant. And the performances are great. I can't say enough good things about this film.

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel--Wes Anderson's best film since The Royal Tenanbaums. Seriously. So, so great. It's funny and quirky and delightful and hilarious. I loved every minute. And it's ridiculous that Ralph Fiennes didn't get an Oscar nomination!

Honorable Mentions: In a top 10 list, there just isn't room for everyone. A few that nearly made the cut are 22 Jump Street (yes, really), Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The LEGO Movie, and Interstellar.

Worst Films of 2014: Maleficent, Need for Speed

What did you think? What were some of your favorites and least favorites? And what do you still want to see?

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Friday, January 16, 2015

My 2014 Book Survey. It's for fun.

I got this from Angie at My So-Called Chaos, who got this from Beth at Printcess, who got this from the Perpetual Page-Turner. So there you go. It sounded like fun and I'm doing it.

Books read: 10
Pages read: 5.307
Number of re-reads: 0
Genre read the most: Fiction

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Sycamore Row by John Grisham

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Getting Waisted by Monica Parker

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
Didn't start a series.
Best sequel: Sycamore Row by John Grisham
Didn't end a series either.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Gillian Flynn

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Single Woman by Mandy Hale

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Arya Stark from A Storm of Swords and A Clash of Kings

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (Even though I HATE the book, it's beautifully written.)

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
The Single Woman by Mandy Hale

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
"You have to stop worrying about finding love. It will comes when it comes. Get comfortable with being alone. It will empower you."--Mandy Hale, The Single Woman

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: We are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
Longest: A Storm of Swords by George R R Martin

How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
We are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Jon Snow and Ygritte

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Arya Stark and The Hound

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Sycamore Row by John Grisham

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Jake Brigance from Sycamore Row

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
The Game of Thrones books

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
A Storm of Swords by George R R Martin

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
A Storm of Swords by George R R Martin

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Hunt the Wolf by Don Mann (because it is NOT GOOD)
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 
Oops. I haven't written a book review in a really long time.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I didn't really participate in anything book-ish in 2014...Something to do this year!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
Blogging life? Um...I think that would be the 4th Annual Blog Awards.

(Not sure what happened to #6...)

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Nope. I totally sucked this year.

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
A Year of Living Prayerfully: How a Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer Life by Jared Brock

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
The next Game of Thrones book??

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
I want to read 30 books in 2015.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
I haven't read any 2015 releases yet. Boo.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Essential Oil Diffuser is my new best friend.

Ah, essential oils.

I love them.

But they can be a little scary to use when you're first getting started. Because you just look at these little glass vials and wonder what the heck to do with them.

Most Young Living Essential Oils can be used topically, meaning you put them on your wrists or your chest or wherever you need them, depending on what you're doing with them. And many oils can be taken internally too, either in a vegetable capsule or with honey or water or or or. There are a lot of options.

But one of the most effective ways to use oils is to diffuse them.

Now, there are different types of diffusers, but most of them work pretty much the same way. You pour in a little bit of water and then add a few drops of your favorite oils and turn it on and voila.

When I signed up for Young Living, I ordered the Premium Starter Kit, which comes with a home diffuser. But I was really nervous about using it because I was afraid of doing it wrong. Or something.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally decided to play around with it and oh my gosh. It is making SUCH a difference.

My allergies were starting to bother me. So I threw in some peppermint, lavender and lemon and my drippy nose cleared up within hours.

Trouble sleeping? A little Peace & Calming helped calm my anxiety enough to lull me into blissful slumber.

Feeling depressed? I popped in a few drops of Joy and couldn't believe the difference.

But my very, VERY favorite combination right now is En-R-Gee mixed with Orange. I'm telling you, when I put those two together, I can't stand sitting still. I get shit done. I can't handle being lazy. It's magic.

There are all sorts of other combinations and single oils you can diffuse. In fact, You can diffuse any essential oil, I think. And there are amazing benefits from diffusing.

Sold yet?

Okay, here's the deal. I'm offering a deal for anyone that signs up and places an order through my Young Living site in the month of January. For any order you place, I'll send you a USB Diffuser (retail value $24.75) in the color of your choice. Now, this is a small diffuser that can be used in any USB port. In your computer, in your car, etc.

If you say, "You know, I really want to go all in on this essential oils thing," and sign up to be a Wholesale Distributor and order a starter kit, I will send you a copy of the Essential Oils Quick Guide. You know, so you know what oils to use and what to use them for. I find mine amazingly helpful.

And if you have ANY questions about essential oils, please be sure to let me know!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Confession Wednesday: Motivation, Paranoia, and Too Much TV (Like there's any such thing!)

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Hello, my friends!

It's Confession Wednesday! And boy do I have some confessions for you today!

• I have been completely motivated in some things (budget, saving money, etc) and completely UNmotivated in other areas (cleaning, getting to the gym). How do I find a balance?

• You know those commercials with Overly Paranoid Rob Lowe? That is totally me. I am a crazy, paranoid, hyper-anxious lunatic. Some stuff has been going on with Chris and his kids and I completely misinterpreted things and...well, I thought the worst. But everything is TOTALLY GOOD. I'm just crazy and need help.

• Oh wait. I'm getting help. Haha! I had switched to seeing my therapist every two weeks because things have been so good for so long and my depression and anxiety have been so totally in check. But I've had to go back to weekly appointments because the new year just brought it all back with a vengeance. I'm doing okay now, but still need a little extra help.

• On a completely unrelated note, I really want Bates to be guilty on Downton Abbey. But then, I'm still convinced he murdered his first wife, too...

• I started watching The Bachelor again. Stacey got me into it a couple of years ago and every season I swear I'm not going to watch it. But then I do. Ugh. Someone help me!

Have something to confess? Link up below!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I Need a Budget, and So Do You

I know Confession Wednesday isn't until tomorrow, but I have a confession today:

My finances are a disaster.

It's true.

And they have been a disaster for a long time.

I mean, I always manage to get the important stuff paid mostly on time. Particularly my rent and my car payment. The two biggest things. Because I quite enjoy having a roof over my head and a way to get to places like, oh, you know, my job.

But my phone bill is almost always late by at least a week because of the way my due date falls compared to my paychecks. Sometimes I don't have enough cash for gas to get all the way through the month and have to borrow from savings or put it on the credit card. Same with other luxuries like food.

And don't get me started on my student loans.

I made the decision last week that 2015 is the year I will finally take control of my financial situation.

Living paycheck to paycheck is painful. Especially since there is usually more month than money, to borrow a saying from someone I used to know.

To make matters even more frustrating, I only get paid once a month. So I have to make that monthly paycheck stretch for four weeks instead of two. I think I honestly had a much better handle on things when I was paid every other week and always knew there was more money coming in soon.

So last week, I was pondering on what to do and I was chatting with my good friend, Google, and I found a website I have long heard about, but have never delved into deeply.

It's called YNAB. Or, You Need a Budget.

Now, before your eyes start glazing over, let me assure you that this is absolutely NOT a sponsored post. This is a real life "I found this program and love it and I think you will too" kind of post.

I've started budgets before, but they've never worked for me. Mostly because they're full of projections and hopes and dreams and leave very little wiggle room and then I get annoyed and stop sticking to it.

But YNAB is completely different. YNAB has four basic rules that help it be very structured, but also very flexible. Two things I really need in this process.

I'm not going to go into all the ins and outs of YNAB, other than to say that there is a desktop application that you can download to any and all computers you use. When you buy the software, you get a household license, instead of a computer license. So, for instance, I have it downloaded to my computer at work, my laptop at home, and I have the mobile app on my phone.

The computer application looks kind of like this:

So you add in all your checking and savings accounts and loans and investment accounts and etc. Then you start budgeting for the current month based on what you currently have in your bank accounts. You don't need to worry about going back into the past. Even a couple of days. I started this on January 5 with exactly what I had in my account on that day. And I based my budget on what I had that day. Which meant I didn't worry about the bills I had already paid or the gas I had already purchased or the food I had already eaten. I just moved forward from January 5.

You also don't plan ahead. You make your plans for your money when you actually have the money in hand. So I won't sit down and make a budget for February until I actually have my money for February.

This helps me focus on the here and now. Without getting too far ahead of myself and starting into the realm of hopes and dreams and monopoly money that I want to get. Maybe I think I'm going to make X amount of money selling ads on my blog. I can't budget for that because it isn't real. I only end up making .X instead. I have to budget for what I have, not for what I hope.

So that's the basics of the program.

And then there's the mobile app that is available for Android and iPhone both.

With the mobile app, you can enter transactions as you make them, so you don't have to worry about forgetting to add a purchase and thinking you have more money than you do.

Because I'm sure I can't be the only person that looks at the bank balance, forgets about the things I have due or the things that haven't cleared yet, and assumes I have more money than I really do.

This puts an end to all of that.

I know I've only been using it for a week, but my entire financial outlook is already turned upside down. Or, should I say, right side up? I can already feel myself more calm and steady and ready to get myself off the paycheck to paycheck cycle. I realize I waste a LOT of money on things I really don't need to be spending it on. And I've already cancelled a couple of services that I don't need because I'm not getting enough benefit out of them.

I LOVE THIS PROGRAM. It's like it was invented just for me.

And you know what's totally rad? They give everyone a 34 day free trial. Not just a couple of weeks or a month. THIRTY-FOUR days. To try it out in your everyday life.

PLUS, there are free budgeting classes and a series of e-mails that introduce the ins and outs of the program to you, and a blog and all sorts of other things.

OH. And if you're a student, you can actually use the software for free. (It costs $60, but is TOTALLY worth way more than that.) The information for getting set up for student use can be found here.

So there you go. My totally unsolicited and 100% honest appraisal of You Need a Budget. It is already changing my life, and it can do the same for you.

I'm definitely going to buy the program. Just as soon as there's room in my budget for it...

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