Exciting Stuff

Book review! – Dark Black by Jessica Germaine 

When my wonderful husband and I were in Savannah we meet a lovely young author called Jessica Germaine…


It was a very windy day… 

Now I love reading and I especially love reading new books from people I can actually talk to, so to come across Jessica whilst walking along the riverfront was great!

She is (ok this is a first impression as we only met the once! But in my experience first impressions are usually correct 😊) a very genuine, lovely young woman with a totally adorable daughter!

It takes a lot to set out your stall and sell your own work, I’ve done it myself so many times selling my art and it can be demoralising when people look at your work and walk away saying things like “well I don’t like the look of that” whilst still in earshot! Just rude!

So when I see someone starting out and obviously passionate about their art I make an effort to talk to them and if I’m intrigued/interested I will buy their work… Jessica totally fitted the bill!

I bought a copy of Dark Black (which Jessica kindly signed) and on a plane in July started to read…

Before meeting Jessica I had no idea ‘urban street’ was a genre. I’m a big reader and i had never heard of an Urban Street Novel – ever. It is possible that we don’t have the same branding of genres in the U.K…

Anyway I start to read…

Initially I was a little put off by the introduction being written in capitals, I can’t get away from the image of someone shouting at me! 

Also the type setting of the book is similar to a poetry book with the writing in the center of the page with large gaps either side – I know, I’m being picky, however I have since learnt that Jessica originally started writing lyrics and poetry which fits with that style 😊

I start the main novel and I have to say it took some getting into, again this had nothing to do with the novel and more about me, as a middle aged British woman… 

It’s written in what I assume is street language and to be honest a lot of the time in the first few chapters I had no idea what the characters were saying!! It’s also a little on the racy side but appropriately so for the story. It made it ‘real’ – once I got over my middle aged British woman thing, or should I say ‘tang’ – and I apologise if I got that wrong!!

I’m not going to say any more about the story – you need to read that yourself… a very brief synopsis (courtesy of goodreads) is as follows…

Charlytte Black is young girl who runs away at age fifteen, trying to escape her abusive Aunt JoAnne. In the streets, she struggles to survive on her own and does whatever it takes to make sure she never has to return home. Ever.

Once I got into the language and stopped trying to correct the spelling – again that was an English to American thing, way too many ‘z’s!!! 

I really enjoyed the book, it’s not like anything I have read before and had we not met Jessica it’s not something I would’ve picked up. It was refreshing and I loved the way she brought everything together which made for a very satisfying ending. There’s nothing worse than a book that leaves you dangling! 

This book leaves you with a message that will hopefully inspire young girls who think there is nowhere to turn that actually with some hard work, determination and learning to accept help that there is always a different path.

Would I recommend Dark Black? Totally! And I will look out for Jessica’s next books too 😊

Body Boss

Bodyboss week 12 – the final reckoning!!

Here it is, at last, the final week!!


Yep still don’t look like the girls in the book… good job my expectations were never that high!

It’s a ridiculously busy week this week loads going on at work, and at home, not to mention getting everything ready for our first trip back to the U.K. after moving to Connecticut nine months ago – my goodness the time has flown!

So far this week I need to:

  • wrap presents for god-daughters, 
  • paint a portrait to deliver back in the U.K. (I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned the fact that a paint in my not-so-spare time…), 
  • start a business plan for a nursery I still support in the U.K., 
  • do my forty hour a week day job, 
  • see Neil Gaiman in Hartford – I admit this is very far from a chore, I love Neil’s writing especially how varied his genres are, I can relate to being interested in a large variety of seemingly unrelated topics! 
  • Dye all the grey out of my hair,
  • fly to the U.K. 
  • and of course complete the Bodyboss program!! 

Who needs to sleep? 😆
So let’s get going!

Monday – legs and booty!

I really am fired up, it’s the last legs and booty, I will totally nail this, I am amazing, I can do anything!!!

Although maybe not Reverse Butterfly Kicks… by the time I get to the Squat Cross Jumps I can barely move, it’s taken me nine minutes to do the first set… I blame the 10 miles of walking round New York we did yesterday, my legs are like lead!

I do three rounds and I will admit that I ditched the Ski Moguls for the last two (I still don’t have a box to jump on so they were plain Ski Moguls not ones onto a box) – I manage a super speed shower and we’re straight out the door to go and see Neil Gaiman!

I’m glad it wasn’t a meet and greet as I don’t think my colour went back to normal until half way through the show!

If you love reading I would totally recommend reading some of Neil’s work, my favorite books of his are Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book and American Gods (which I believe has been televised) and if you like audiobooks he co-wrote Good Omens with Terry Pratchett and there is an excellent audible play version of it by Radio 4 which is the best I’ve ever heard, very funny!

The evening itself was brilliant, very inspirational especially as I can totally relate to his feeling of being ‘found out’ at any time, after all we are all winging it in some respects! 

I survive Monday…

Tuesday – Yoga Day!! Ah no, they’ve done it again, I should’ve guessed really with it being the last week that it would be a challenge day…

Six exercises, start the timer!!

Ok I can officially do all but one of the exercises… guess which one… yep it’s those pesky push-ups!

However I stop the clock, write down the time, and…

First week of Bodyboss pre-training this challenge took me 8 minutes, week 2 of the main program it took me 7:10 minutes, week 12… drumroll please…. 5:40 minutes!!! Get in!!!!

I think this is a hashtag happy bunny moment 😄

I take my euphoria up to the easel and paint a portrait of a dog. I do love painting 😊



Wednesday – Arms, Abs and Core… I’m glad it’s the last one!

Oh my goodness! I think I may pass out.

However I can do Plank Rotations, I can do Jack Knives (sort of), I can’t do Spider Planks – well I can do a version that doesn’t envolve the push-up element so I do that… 

I face plant on the final Down Dog V Press.

Thursday – Cardio, and the next few chapters of American Gods on Audible!

On the basis that I’m at the hairdressers at 5pm this evening which means getting there straight from work I set the alarm to stupid o’clock and get up at 5am to do 40 minutes of cardio before work, how’s that for dedication!!

To be fair if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ll be on a plane and then traveling on Saturday I would’ve shifted the workout a day and finished on Saturday – this week that’s not an option! 

After the hairdressers I wrap gifts and sort the business plan out – all that’s left to do tomorrow is do the Power Up workout and pack!

The Final Power Up Friday!!

Oh blimey they don’t make this easy!!

Four exercises two of which I need to do modifications for and one is swapped out completely – it’s only the Butterfly Kicks with Clap that I can do!

I modify Aeroplane Push Ups to Plank Rotations, I swap Box Jumps with Bench Hops and try my best with Reverse Butterfly Kicks…

Ok now for the reckoning – how did I do?

Well I went to the doctors to weigh myself before we left and I’ve lost a total of ten pounds! Which considering there has been zero dieting going on is amazing!

I can now fit into the clothes I came to the USA with – result! The downside of this is that I’ve been working really hard and when I saw my friends and family for the first time in 9 months they didn’t notice a difference as I was back to where I was when I left!! It’s a good job I have a sense of humour 😄

But here is the photographic evidence of all the hard work – the before and after shots!


I am so happy!!

However now that I’ve completed the program what do I do?

I don’t want to let all this good work go to waste, one thing I have really enjoyed about this program is that it’s progressive but I want to have a change – I think I will return and do the program a second time, but not yet…

I have been thinking and researching whilst having a couple of weeks off – I have been doing tons of walking in the Lake District so I’ve not been sitting around!! And I have decided that the one thing I found I loved during this program has been the Tuesday yoga days…

So…

The next thing is…

Yoga Burn! Another 16 week program (if you include the extra four weeks of advanced training) let’s see what happens here!!

Body Boss

Bodyboss – week 11, I know, week 11!!!

Only one more week to go and I will have completed the Bodyboss program!!!

I feel like the end is in sight, it’s been so hard but I know I can make this last step – I don’t have a flat stomach, I can’t do push-ups but my goodness I feel better!

We’re going back to the U.K. for a week next week, which is perfect timing as I’ll be able to do Friday’s final power up before heading to the airport and writing this blog on the plane 😊

I will be having a week off the exercises while we’re there – I would start something new but it’s going to be such a busy week as we’ll be visiting family and friends not to mention working – so it will be back to a regime when we get back as I don’t want all this hard work to vanish – it’s taken too much effort.

I am so looking forward to seeing everyone, especially my little ones, I know they’re coming out here in the summer but I do miss them so much. I’m also really looking forward to seeing my best friends, my aunt and my very special Dad – there’s not going to be a moment spare!!
Even less as it turns out there is a festival in town on the Saturday (there’s always a festival in Ulverston – google it, it’s an amazing town!) this week it’s the Retro Rendezvous festival and so my Dad will be out performing the Flea Circus (an amazing street theatre act from the amazing town!) and Daisy – yes that’s me – will be making a guest appearance! How well this will go bearing in mind I will have been up for about 30 hours by then, is anyone’s guess… I just hope Dad has some coffee on the go! 


Feel free to check the Flea Circus out on Facebook – the new website is currently under construction – Uncle Tim’s Flea Circus

But I am back to my procrastination! On with the Bodyboss!!

Monday – Legs and Booty

My goodness I am tired today… this was a real struggle… lots and lots of jumping, I’m officially rubbish at jumping! I used to think Frog Jumps were my worst, but today it was definitely the Squat Cross Jumps, simply zero energy. But, I carry on…

And Single Leg Glute Bridges?! I mean really that’s just mean! I’m supposed to do 50 three times… I do 30 of the proper ones and 20 straight glute bridges…

Thank goodness for the cool down and an opportunity to jump into the pool for a few lengths to cool off, we are so fortunate to be living here, ok it’s only temporary but it feels like we’re on holiday every day!

As tomorrow is the 4th of July it’s a day off work, which means a well needed lie in!!!

Tuesday – happy Independence Day to all Americans!! 

Tuesday is normally yoga day but as I have a day off we decided instead to take little Nya and go for a walk to Bluff Point – such a lovely place, Nya was a little tired after the first mile and so we had to stop every hundred yards for her to have a sit down! We keep forgetting she’s only six months old!

      
I wish I had taken extra holiday now… but on the plus side most of the office did and so it will be nice and quiet and I can get some work done undisturbed!

Wednesday – Arms, Abs and Core…

It’s the last push so I knew this was going to be tough but good grief!!!

Aeroplane Push Ups, or just Aeroplanes as I like to do them – even without the push up bit they’re still rock hard!! One exercise in and I’m already my delightful shade of puce…

Jack Knives – yep these still elude me so I modify to ‘v’ sit-ups and hope they’ll do!

Power Plank, Spider Plank (minus the push-up element – well, I do a bit of a dip down but to be honest not on all of them) and Down Dog V Press not pleasant but done – not only am I a delicate shade of puce but I am literally dripping – nice!

Side Plank Lifts – I really feel I should be able to do these, they don’t look as if they should be that difficult but my goodness they are I still only manage 20 out of the 40,

We won’t mention the minute skipping, a five year old would’ve been ashamed of my attempt…

Thursday – Cardio Day!

I’m really looking forward to today, I’m starting a new audio book – Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (it seemed appropriate given that it was Independence Day this week!) I love Neil’s books, there aren’t many authors who can write across the genres with the success he has, and we’re going to see him talk next week, I’m more than a little excited!!

If you’ve never read any of his books I would totally recommend ‘Neverwhere’ or his collaboration novel with Terry Prattchet ‘Good Omens’, and then go from there…

40 minutes flew by and I can’t wait for next weeks session! 

Friday – Power Up!!

Oh great lots of jumping and jack knives – or rather ‘v’ sit-ups!

Well now I am completely shattered!!! But week 11 is done, tick, completed, only one more week to go!


I’m doing pretty good on the headstand too… 😊

Now for a weekend of jobs to get ready for next week, including a trip to New York to get presents for my beautiful Goddaughter and her lovely sister, happy days!

Body Boss · Uncategorized

Bodyboss – week 10 – officially Boss Level! Eeek!!

This is it, the last cycle, the toughest cycle, I am still in the game!! All be it on the ‘b’ team…

I don’t know if America has the concept of a ‘b’ team but essentially it’s the team that puts as much effort and work into their game but don’t quite make the grade… I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never be able to do a push-up, well, not before the end of this program. Maybe in another year or so, possibly.

I’m feeling a bit like that at the moment, don’t get me wrong I feel tons better than I did when I started and I’m so much stronger but I definitely don’t have the body that the girls in the pictures do, not even close.

Girl in book:


Me:

 
But… me at the start:

  

I need to focus on the positive:

  • I may not have a flat stomach, but it’s better than it was.
  • I have kept up with the program and not given up – that’s a huge plus!
  • I have to admit that I have enjoyed it more than I thought I would, even when I get stuck, I can modify and keep going.
  • I can do a headstand! Ok that wasn’t part of this program but without bodyboss I wouldn’t have even attempted it!
  • I can do a V sit-up.
  • I have lost a bit of weight – and that’s without any form of diet, which living out here is a minor miracle! In the U.K. I was always told to clean my plate, it’s a bit of a culture shock being able to ‘box up’ what’s left and take it home!
  • I went clothes shopping and was a size Small – still makes me giggle! As to whether I can fit into the clothes I brought over from the U.K. or not… we’ll find out after week 12!

After writing down all the positives I already feel better, it’s very easy to put yourself down, much easier than complimenting yourself.

I try to always be kind to myself, a very important lesson learnt by experiencing some tough times, basically there are enough people and things that will try to erode your confidence – don’t join them!

Monday – legs and booty! 

Oh my goodness… but I’ve got this! Well apart from the reverse butterfly kicks… and it takes 9 minutes and I am so rubbish at ‘jump rope’ especially when I’m cream krackered, all I seem to do is basically whip my ankles!!

My thighs hate me…

Tuesday – yoga day!

I love, love, love yoga day. I especially love it as my wonderful husband joins me.

This week is my choice so we’re doing a fundamental basics with Adriene, it’s great, looking at focusing and grounding your basic balance. I love how you concentrate on working and stretching, becoming aware of you muscles and then the wonderful relax at the end… a workout that leaves you completely stress free… I think I could get into yoga…

Wednesday – arms, abs and core – hmmmm

Ok I’ve now got the bench hops right, apart from not quite getting the height – twice – not pretty but I keep going! 

Leg lifts – again I think I’ve cracked it, I was having serious issues with my back arching when I tried to lift my legs but now I put my hands under my bottom which prevents my back arching and forces my stomach to do the work, boy do I know I’ve worked my stomach!!

Still can’t do push-ups. I have a theory though, I’m going to start stood up and doing push-ups on the breakfast bar, I then intend to lower the height to the bench building up my strength until I can do a full on push-up… it’s a cunning plan, so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel! (If you’ve never watched Blackadder – you should!)

Side planks are also still an issue, I manage 20 out of the 40… three times… 

I have decided to practice my headstand after each workout, I’m trying it against the wall – again I figure if I get comfortable against a wall I can start to try to balance slightly away until I eventually can do them properly.

Thursday – cardio day!

I’m quite looking forward to today, it’s the last hour of my book ‘The Elementals’ by Michael McDowell it’s great listening to a book whilst on Satan (my running machine) as you don’t realise how long you’ve been walking/jogging – forty minutes goes in a blink of an eye and it was quite exciting! 

It’s a really good book, based in Alabama it’s a slow burning, gothic horror, although I felt it was more haunted house than horror… it worth a read/ listen! 

Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ next, he’s one of my favourite authors so I’m looking forward to the next fourteen hours on Satan – not all at once though!!

Friday – Power Up!!

Hmmm only four exercises but two of them are tricky I.e. currently impossible…

Box Jumps – slight issue being still no box… still no intention of getting one, it really would spell disaster!! I substitute with bench hops…

Push-ups – I start my experiment and do push-ups against the side shelf thing, it’s sort of breakfast bar height but it’s a random shelf in the basement… anyway it’s hard work but I can do them! 

Here marks the end of week 10 and my goodness me I am certainly feeling it this week!!

I can hold a headstand against the wall for about thirty seconds and get down without breaking my toes – bonus!! I may get my wonderful husband to video it next week!!

Two weeks left before the final reckoning and I’ll see if I can fit into the clothes I brought over with me… I really don’t know if it will be a success… 

Body Boss

Bodyboss – cycle 3, week 9… I think I’ve reached the top of the wall!!

I can’t believe I’ve made it this far! Especially after the last two weeks…

This week not only am I doing Bodyboss but I’m also doing a daily yoga challenge – it seemed a good idea at the time.

Funnily enough the challenge has given me a new confidence in my abilities to do some of the bodyboss exercises, after all who would’ve thought I could do a headstand (ok it was only for a nanosecond but that’s not the point!) I would never have even attempted it without the last 13 weeks of Bodyboss! 


So on with the program!

Monday – legs and booty – I can so do this!!

Frog jumps, extra effort put in, a whole 40 of them, 3 times… good grief I certainly know my thighs exist!

Plank leg lifts – got it!

Reverse butterfly kicks – what on earth?!! I’ve been doing really well actually doing exercises I couldn’t do at the start but these? I mean seriously how do you lift both legs up when lying face down on your yoga mat? I can lift one leg up at a time… that will have to do…

Squats with side kicks – I can do these, although my side kicks are more waist height than shoulder height, still, they’re off the floor so that’s technically a kick!

Bench hops... ahh…. after looking at the instruction photo more closely I’ve realised that I’ve been doing these incorrectly… I’ve been holding the bench near the end of the bench and sort of hopping from side to side lifting my feet about a foot off the ground… apparently I should be the holding the bench at the top of the bench and actually jumping my feet over the bench – to be fair it makes more sense now… 44 is an odd number to do, 40 would be neater, or maybe 30? I’m good though and go for the prescribed 44, three times… I only tripped over the bench four times – success!! 

The rest of the exercises go without a hitch, although I’m absolutely cream crackered!

Tuesday – yoga day 😊

My wonderful husband has picked another video to help his back – it was really relaxing and helped with my yoga challenge. I do love yoga… 

Wednesday – arms, abs and core… oh good…

With the extra yoga challenge I’m certainly feeling my muscles this week!!

We start with Butterfly Kicks – the right way up!! That’s a relief!!

Followed by Plank Rotations – which I can now do – yey!!! 

It then goes a tiny bit downhill… meet Jack Knives – these are the big bad cousin of V Sit-ups, I’ve just got the hang of V Sit-ups, Jack Knives are practically impossible – in fact at the moment they are impossible! My legs don’t straighten… oh well I guess I’ll just have to keep trying… after ten I swap to V Sit-ups…

Spider Planks – I can do half spiders… the legs are there(ish) but I can’t do the dip down bits, but I do the best I can!

All the rest is totally do’able! I put all my energy into doing all three circuits! I think I may pass out…

Thursday – cardio day!

40 minutes on Satan listening to my book, I can do all 40 minutes at 4 miles per hour with about 4 minutes jogging at 5.5 miles per hour – not too shabby!! 

Power Up Friday!!!!

Totally nailed it!!! Although I did swap out the Aeroplane Push Ups with Plank Rotations…


Cycle 3 complete! Only three more weeks left and do you know,  I really think I can do it… 

Cycle 4 – Boss Level next, it says ‘Disrupt Yourself’ hmmm….

Exciting Stuff

Making some income from blogging…

My initial ideas on blogging was to improve my writing skills, and to stick at my exercise program, and so far I have succeeded – well no one has told me to stop writing which I’m taking as a favourable response…

But everyone who knows me knows that I have a rule that all my hobbies are self funding, in fact my art hobby has paid for a few family holidays as well as all my paints which is pretty amazing! (trust me I’m like a kid in a sweet shop when it comes to paint or actually anything stationary based!).

So I started looking at ‘affiliate schemes’ – essentially these are adverts on your blog and if readers click on them and then purchase something I get a percentage. Sounds reasonable.

I was discussing this with my wonderful husband who asked a very interesting question…

“Why do you want to sell other people’s things when you have your own?” 

Not something I had considered… research is on going… watch this space, things might get a tad exciting!

Some of my art will be involved but not as paintings… intrigued? I hope so!

Here’s a taster of some of my previous art work…



Let me know what you think and watch this space!!

Exciting Stuff

Yoga Club Box – 5 Day Challenge!!

As some of you may have seen I have started to subscribe to a yoga club box… this is a monthly subscription for a monthly yoga outfit, it’s amazing value!! This is my second box and I received $185 worth of clothes for $79, bargain! (They have two other price options – $45 and $69, but on the basis that I only have had, one workout outfit that I’ve had for six years, I reckon I’m worth it!)

The clothes are gorgeous too, I’ve chosen the ‘funky’ option as I feel the need to jazz my life up a bit – so far they have not disappointed! They have sent two outfits that I would never have picked up in a shop but they look amazing!! 

Anyway I noticed on Facebook that they were running a 5 day yoga challenge that could win several prizes including vouchers for Jala clothing and even a years supply of yoga boxes! Now I have no illusions of winning – until very recently I’ve not done yoga for years (seriously it must be at least 15years and 28 pounds since I last did a class!) but the little videos my wonderful husband and I have been doing on a Tuesday has rekindled my love of yoga and I figure it would be fun, after all how difficult can it be?

On balance I think it was more of an elimination than a challenge… 

Day 1 – Virabhadrasana 1 or Warrior 1

So far so good, I’m liking this! I even wear the leggings from my first yoga box, so nice!


Even little Nya wanted to get in on the act although she knows she’s not supposed to dig there!!

Day 2 – Paripurna Navasana, Full Boat Pose

Hmmm… looks easy but then it also looks like a harder version of the dreaded Russian Twist from the Bodyboss program, however I can now do those so maybe it will be ok…

I start in a Russian Twist position and try to straighten my legs, after several attempts I manage it! Briefly, my thighs are on fire!!! But day two done – tick!


Yep I definitely don’t look as happy in the full boat pose…

Day 3 – Bakasana, Crow pose

Omg, thank goodness I’ve been working out and my balance is beginning to improve!! 

This is really really difficult! But after about half an hour I figure it out – ish… again I can’t hold it for very long and little Nya licking my face is not helpful, very cute, but definitely not helping!


Day 4 – Sirsasana, Headstand (I kid you not!)

Ok, deep breath, I can do this… the fact that I could barely do a headstand when I last tried one and I was about 11 years old then, is not going to stop me having a go!

Nya is removed from the room – the last thing I want is to squish her during a rapid and probably uncontrolled descent! 

I follow the instructional videos that the sponsors of the challenge have posted, they make it look so easy! I try for about an hour… and all things considered I think I did a pretty good job! I held an unsteady headstand for approximately 5 nano seconds, I do actually want to keep trying this and intend to do it again after the challenge to see if I can do better, I’ll use a wall next time!


Please note yoga outfit courtesy of the second yoga box!!

Day 5 – Marichasana – the last day, quite sad, I’ve enjoyed this.

I working on the basis that anything is easier than yesterday and this looks a wonderful deep stretch.

The first variation is a twist and it’s a really lovely pose…


You can then deepen the stretch and reach round your body and clasp your hands…

I did try this but there is more of me than I anticipated and I can’t touch my hands – I need to lose about 4 (ok make that 8!) inches, or grow my arms, or, yes I know, practice more to be able to stretch! 


Challenge completed to the best of my ability!

I really have enjoyed pushing myself and although I haven’t quite made it, I did far better than I ever thought I could – especially when it comes to headstands!!

I now feel inspired to do ‘yoga every dammed day’! 

Namaste 🙏