Posts filed under Be Inspired

Rainy days are for good books and bad movies...

Houston rarely has two rainy days in a row. But this weekend was one of those few exceptions. And the only acceptable exercise on such occasions is either a marathon of reading and/or a binge of movie watching. I was productive. I did both...

So here is the rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly. Starting with the good... here are the three books I was able to finish (full disclosure here, I clearly did not read three books in two days, but I definitely finished all three this weekend :)...

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

It is easy to take comfort, independence and freedom to choose for granted. This autobiography was a stark reminder than not everyone enjoys such privileges. I had always prided myself in starting from 0 and going as far as I have in life on my own. Well, this book redefined 0 for me. A truly powerful and engaging story that feels uncomfortable and intruding at times, but one that ultimately teaches a lesson in perseverance and courage. Highly recommend.

Big Girls Don't Cry

Do not be fooled by this title. First, this book is not a feminist manifesto by any means even if it does celebrate the historic moment when a woman was so incredibly close to winning the nomination for president. Instead, Rebecca Traister's work takes an honest look at the current state of women in politics and how easy it is to take missteps. Second, this book does not glorify the almost first-time female presidential nominee. Instead, it makes a brilliant analysis of the presidential campaign ran by Hilary Clinton and her team - a refreshing and very relevant read, especially in the midst of the current political landscape. Hilary should have this book on her reading list right about now, or at least a good 6 months ago...

Daring Greatly

You may have seen one of Brene Brown's TED talks on vulnerability before (there is a very good chance you have, by the way - there are more than 22,000,000 views of her most famous TED talk... 22 MILLION!). The subtitle of her book reads "How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead." I'll fess up... This title has had a very profound affect on me, especially at work, where vulnerability is traditionally frowned upon (or so I thought..). If you struggle (like me) with the constant perceived need of stoicism, this book, combined with a healthy amount of yoga will make you feel much more comfortable in your own skin, flaws and all :).  

Now, you didn't think I spent my entire weekend enriching my mind and reading such great and inspiring material, did you? Every now and then, you need something mind numbing... So here is the bad... and the ugly :)


The obligatory Romcom... Or so I thought. 

If you want a romcom, Before We Go is not your movie. It's still a good and refreshing experience! Just not a romcom. That said, I actually really enjoyed the charming and easy-going nature of this movie. It doesn't make you think too hard but it certainly lets you enjoy a good chance-encounter plot with exceptionally good-looking leads that leave you with a ton of unresolved feelings at the end. And, to find that Chris Evans directed this? I think I have become an even bigger fan overnight.  

And now we get to the ugly......


The Do-Not-Waste-Your-Time Romcom

Nicholas Sparks... enough said? I am not even sure what prompted me to see this. Perhaps it was the rainy Sunday afternoon. But I have always found his novels rather sappy and uninspiring. This movie adaptation tops that list. Combine that with a very uninspiring cast and you have yourself a recipe for a snooze. Which is what ultimately happened anyways! Mission accomplished, I suppose. At the very least, Chewie certainly enjoyed having me around the house for more than 4 hours at a time so we were all happy in the end, even if I was technically napping. And... I am officially caught up on my sleep needs. Hello, old habits! It has been too long. 

Now, to finish on a much more inspiring note... I only have one more week of this maddening doctor-imposed leisurely no-run break. I am dead-set on going for my first run this Thursday (after being cleared by said doctor, of course). To celebrate, I happened to purchase these beauties yesterday. Only to later find out that someone rather famous has the exact same pair of kicks in the exact same color... Someone, give me the odds of that, please? 

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Posted on October 25, 2015 and filed under Be Inspired.

Best cure for a rainy day? Mark Rothko!!

If you know anything about Rothko, you are probably thinking that I need to brush up on my Rothko knowledge. This isn't Rothko, is it?!? And despite the fact that the artist himself would probably agree with you (this piece was specifically disowned by him as part of his previous Retrospective shows), I still find it to be quite stunning and one of the most unexpected things I learned about the famous artist during my visit to MFAH today. 

This particular piece is part of his Subway of New York series and is called Underground Fantasy. As it turns out, Rothko spent the 1940's creating art that hardly resembles his famous color block paintings and this particular one is perhaps my personal favorite. What I like the most about it is how it hints at his future development as an artist: if you merely flipped the painting vertically, you can clearly see the stacks of color blocks appear in front of you.

Okay, enough of playing art critic and onto a quick tour of my favorite pieces from today. As you move slowly through the exhibition, you will notice how the years have changed Rothko's approach to his art..

(By the way, do you see the man in this one? He looks positively 80's, shoulder pads and all). 

...and how Rothko became the Rothko we all know. Each wall presenting a more abstract painting than the last...

...until you arrive at his quintessential style...

...that can make any dreary day like today feel happy, rested and inspired. Isn't this one happy ending? Happy Sunday!

Posted on September 27, 2015 and filed under Be Inspired.

The Apple Watch...

If you have addictive tendencies, here is my advice. Do not buy the Apple Watch. If, however, you are confident you can resist developing dependencies on technology, then by all means, keep on reading. Because this review or, rather, review-pretend (I am not really in the business of reviews) is more than raving. Why? A few reasons...

1. It truly is the best workout gadget you can get: I used to own a Motoactv (or, as my friends would call it, a wrist laptop/upper body workout gear) and it did everything I needed it to do: it tracked my pace, time and distance for my runs, it played my music, it could even act as a heart rate monitor if you invested in the add-on's. But it died... Fast. And it also got discontinued (perhaps because it would die so fast?). The Apple Watch was the first thing on the market that was able to fully replace my old device's varied functionality while also doing so much more (and being so much smaller, and so much nicer looking)...

2. Speaking of, it really does look great... Granted, I quickly invested in a good leather band (for dressier occasions) that does not cost an arm and a leg ($250 for a tiny strap of leather... really, Apple?). Instead, try this. Just as good, at 10% of the price. I am actually tempted to acquire a few other colors while at it. Red and blue are my next purchases.   

3. It allows you to stay connected, without the appearance of being a socially inept jerk:  I quickly found out that I don't need my phone on me or in my pocket all the time (or hardly ever). Which makes mom very happy (because I have effectively removed those "pesky" wireless waves (if you discount bluetooth) away from my head). But the added bonus is that I no longer have to be one of those who take their phone out and leave it on the table while glancing at every incoming e-mail (talking to you, dear friend who shall not be named).  

4. NO MORE CORDS!! Thanks to these amazing headphones! To be fair, it took a few fails of other brands until I arrived at these. Which made for a few difficult runs as my music would die on me on several occasions at mile marker .75 with nothing but my non-steady breathing to pace me (and I do have my heart beat logged for proof). But these guys are just the perfect fit and performance for my sweat-intensive summer workouts :). 

5. Last but not least, it is a great conversation starter. It would appear that the watch is still quite the novelty and people love asking me about it (which also prompted me writing this - I hate sounding unprepared and now I have all my reasons for loving it neatly listed out!). 

In a nutshell, I am very happy with my Apple Watch. And, as any kind and loving technology would do, the watch is now telling me it's time to stand up (since I have been sitting down for more than an hour) and wrap things up. Yup, I now have an official digital mom! What's not to love about that?

Have a wonderful week, everybody! 

Posted on August 24, 2015 and filed under Be Inspired.

Old habits die hard... I'm on a boat!

Ahh, the good old days. In another life (well, to be less dramatic, three years ago), my lovely adventurous friends forced me into trying wakeboarding. Being the overly confident skier I am (my parents had me skiing before I could walk) (on another note, what made me think skiing would be of any help here?), I didn't exactly think it would be much of a challenge for me. Ha ha ha. Wakeboarding, as it turns out, is a WHOLE another ballgame. What I quickly found out was that in order for me to wakeboard, I would need to learn how to stand up on the board in the first place. And I have to say, physics is not there to help you (being pulled by a force that is perpendicular to your natural trajectory sounds laborious, and it is!). But I eventually did learn. And then got addicted, and maybe even decent at it. So much so, that this was me, circa 2012 (read, not afraid of some air): 

Then... Fast forward a few years of being too busy to tend to my sport, and here I was a few days ago, on a boat, hesitating. Why? I thought about that for a little while. What was I so scared of? Admittedly, there is no way to sugarcoat this - falling hurts. And when you wakeboard, there is no elegant way of tapping out. You fall. (Sometimes sports are such great metaphors for life, aren't they... :) But isn't it that falling is a part of life, but getting back up is living? I like that thought. So, I got on that wakeboard, and I fell, and I got back up, and it was great. And to my delight (truly, or otherwise I would have felt rather embarrassed), I was even able to stand up on my first try: 

See that smile there? I had forgotten how much I loved this. So... Even though there was no jumping this time around (hey, give me some credit for being outside the wake!), I have a suspicion you may see a lot more images of me on a wakeboard this summer ;). 

Happy beautiful and scorchingly hot Sunday!!

Posted on July 26, 2015 and filed under Be Inspired.

Check, check.... is this thing working?

Well, out of the very, very, very few things I love and I'd never want to forget, I managed to leave behind my most precious one: my camera (my precioussssss...). Yup, I have been camera-less for the past week and it has been uncomfortable (which begs the question... addicted much?). I never thought I'd feel this handicapped without it. And it's not as if I forgot it somewhere I can never retrieve it from... It's sitting pretty and safely at my brother's house. Well, I guess I should reconsider safely - it is, after all, within the reach of an 18-month old whose fascination with any and every button could mean the death of my beloved Olympus... 

So without my go-to tool for fun blog posts, what was I to do? Stop writing (a rather depressing thought), blackmail said brother into shipping said camera overnight (unlikely, knowing my brother's loving propensity for procrastination :), or find another source of original images (hello, iPhone camera, long time no see...)? Least amount of drama and most opportunity for fun clearly points to the only viable option of the three: number 1. So with that said... it's time to say goodbye, dear reader (insert Andrea Bocelli's lovely but sad voice). 

Just kidding. You did not buy that, did you? 

Not only am I quite happy to show you my all-time favorite iPhone snaps, but I also just bought myself a brand-spanking-new camera. Life is too short not to document (or splurge)! 

A few things I am noticing about my mad iPhone camera skills:

  • I can't seem to understand this hypothetical concept of horizontals... Do you see a single horizontal here? I don't either, it's okay.
  • Thank goodness for Instagram... their filters can save (almost) any shot.
  • Speaking of filters, I clearly have a thing for the tilt shift option. 
  • More on filters... sometimes, they are not necessary (AT ALL) but that requires investing into some awesome travel locations:

If you are wondering what all of those images are (because, you know, why wouldn't you...), here is a quick recap:

  • Letter K = Krafstman Baking in the Houston Heights = great lattes. 
  • Forbidden City, Beijing, China = enough said... just stunning. 
  • Popov BMW X5 M Series = #lifegoals
  • Heart in Mug = random heart in my coffee... I think it must mean something.
  • Graffiti = Plovdiv's graffiti culture is giving Banksy a run for his money. 
  • Cool chimney = no clue what that was... sorry.
  • Bug = I hate bugs but this one seemed too cool not to take a picture of. 
  • Pretty sunset from the plane = #feltsosmall 
  • Even prettier sunset from the beach = our little planet is so beautiful. 

Thanks for sticking around in this difficult time (ahem, quiet blog time). The truth is, I can probably manage quite alright without my beloved camera and with just a phone - it works, right? But why would I? After all, my new and amazing Olympus PEN E-PL7 is (thanks to Prime) a mere two days away from coming home! Addiction satisfied...   

Posted on July 11, 2015 and filed under Be Inspired.