Monday, 21 April 2014

You Are What You Eat

This year has very much been "the year I discovered how to live a healthy life". Aside from going to the gym, I've also been planning meals each week, rather than winging it and ending up with pizza or ready meals. I seriously recommend planning meals; ever since I started I've managed to spend less and we hardly throw any food out any more. Considering that an estimated 15 million tonnes of food is being chucked away in the UK every year, I don't understand why planning isn't being promoted more. And I love the "surprise" I get when I check what I'd planned for dinner some days - bearing in mind I make sure everything I plan to cook is food I love and I plan two to three weeks ahead.

The knock on affect of all this is I'm more and more interested in food and where it comes from. I'm over half way through reading Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meatby Philip Lymbery and having the whole horrible picture of industrialised, intensified factory farming spelled out has made me determined to buy free range and organic as much as possible. Once I finish the book I'll no doubt post a review on here but I can already highly recommend it. With my new found desire to make better purchasing choices I am now one of the "label readers". You know the ones; they stand by the aisle of food, fumbling with the packaging and staring at it like they're looking into the eyes of Cthulhu, before putting the product back in place and repeating the whole process again.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Book Review: Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep
Stephen King
Kindle Edition

First a confession; I was not looking forward to this book. I saw no reason for a follow up to The Shining, a book that left a deep claw mark in my psyche. I was concerned that there was no way King could create something that would come close to its impact. I was only partly right; King has weaved a wonderful story here, in the same universe as The Shining, rather than a straight-up sequel. As always his visualisations and characters are engaging throughout. Make no mistake though - this is no where near The Shining in scares, imagery or power. But then again, it isn't meant to be.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Where Am I?

Way back at the beginning of the year I set myself some big goals, and then broke them down into nibble-sized chunks to be completed over a 12 week/quarterly basis through the year. That's right, I'm turning my life into business plans - boring but so far it seems to be working. Below are the goals I set in January and where I am with the dawning of April:

- Improve fitness, specifically with cardio and making exercise a regular part of my life.

DONE! I joined the gym in January and have successfully gone three times a week, every week, since. When I started I could barely run for more than five minutes and everything hurt, all the time. Everything still hurts but I can now run for a full half hour without stopping and have regularly done classes I could never imagine being able to do before. Turns out Spinning is well named; I always thought it sounded like a medieval form of torture and I was right - but it is also brilliant fun. Or I'm weird. Maybe both. The important thing is I hit my weight goal and no longer feel like a blancmange.

- Write two short stories

FAIL! Except I haven't - let me explain: I originally thought I would write two stories to completion and have them out in the big bad world by now seeking publish and payment. I thought this despite having no idea of what kind of stories I would write or the markets I would send them to. That was my first mistake. I did come up with a nifty story idea though and rather than give up on it when it got tough I kept going, reworking it and cutting away anything that wasn't working. I also discovered some fantastic resources for ideas and plotting which will speed up future endeavours. So I consider this a win more than anything else.

- Read at least four books

DONE! I have finished an unexpected SIX books since January. All of them were fiction and for the next 12 weeks I want to try to get a non-fiction book in there. At the end of last year I realised I hadn't read nearly as much as I could have, and not as widely as I'd like so I'm in a good place to change that for the better this year.

- Book a holiday somewhere you've never been

DONE! In July I will be going to Rome with my man for eight glorious nights in that magical city. I have always wanted to see Rome, especially after studying so much of Roman history during my Classics degree, so I am extremely excited about this. Squeel!

Overall I'm pretty pleased with progress, despite not having any completed stories to show for it. I feel more confident when I'm writing now, and a lot more organised, which can't be a bad thing. I'm now thinking about the next quarter and what I want to achieve by the time 1st July rolls by… initial ideas are:

  • Read at least four books, with at least one being non-fiction
  • Increase my strength and get toned in time for the Rome holiday
  • Finish the short story I'm working on, including all edits.
  • Plan out a longer fiction piece and identify research areas
  • Write one blog post a week
  • Learn and practise HTML and CSS

Six goals seems doable but the major goal for the coming months and in fact for the whole year is: Live a Creative Life. That seems a pretty good place to start, and an excellent place to be.