“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

It’s been nearly a year since I posted anything here. I’m sorry. It’s another one of those hiatuses that life forces upon us.

I have another baby boy. He is everything I wished for and more. Life on our own in a new city was already somewhat chaotic, so I thought, why not add to it?

But here’s what I have after all that chaos: two lovely little boys who we love more than life itself. They are our joy, our center, our breath. They are everything.

“My God, Mae thought. It’s heaven.”

The Circle by Dave Eggers

What a profoundly terrifying book. I feared for Mae’s sanity the moment they decided to add more than 2 screens to her work space. To be honest, I found it a little bit unbelievable that there can be so many people that naive about the world The Circle was proposing. But then when I really think about it, how many of us are always on social media now? Reading this book almost made me deactivate Facebook, that’s how scared I was.

Some of the benefits proposed in this technological dystopian novel are actually available now to a degree, and we’re able to maintain these with signing our souls over to the entities offering these services.

For example, as a Canadian living in Australia, I had my entire immigration processed online. I didn’t have to go down to a run down office building to wait in line or do face to face interviews. I’m sure others with more complicated situations than mine would still have to do so, but I did not.

Same thing with the annual income tax reporting in Australia–it’s all online. I don’t have to use an accountant and I don’t have to go to a tax office (we did have to go visit a run down office to speak with the IRS when we were doing taxes in the States).

And both these services were available to me by simply providing a couple of pieces of basic identity information. I didn’t have to install a chip in myself or wear a camera around my neck 24/7.

Eggers seems to have taken the current obsession with social media, with being heard and seen, to the extreme. His work with The Circle reminds me of A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (for those of you too lazy to read about it, it’s a satirical essay about eating offspring from poor families in order to reduce poverty).

Another book I read from Eggers A Hologram for the King. I also enjoyed the social commentary Eggers was hinting at in that novel. Eggers is definitely an author I want to read more of.

“What would you do if I died?”

What would you do if I died?
If you died I would want to die too.
So you could be with me?
Yes. So I could be with you.

Cormac McCarthy, The Road

McCarthy was born in 1933 and published his first novel at age 33.

This is a piece of dialogue between father and son (a young boy) in a post-apocalyptic world where the two try to outlast cannibals, rapists, and disease.

Yet somehow these lines are absolutely relatable for parents in the modern first-world societies, where the most danger we face daily is being stuck in traffic.

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”

Charles Darwin

This past Sunday we gained an hour when the clock fell back. I find myself with an extra hour of time each morning with which to do whatever I wanted.

This is of course conditional based on how long our son sleeps in. Case in point: yesterday. There was no “hour of free time” as our son woke the same time as we did. So the extra hour was still Finley time (which, while enjoyable and rewarding, is not free time).

This morning I woke up at 4:30 (body clock 5:30). I spent the usual half hour browsing my phone in bed while boobing Finley (an early morning snack keeps him asleep for longer some days). I fully got up at 5:00 (body clock 6:00) and found myself with 2 hours to spend before I actually needed to get ready for work and get Finley ready for daycare.

I think about how I missed another daily quote for yesterday, so I set out to schedule some daily quotes for upcoming days that I just might not have time. Mondays and Wednesdays are the most difficult as half an hour in the mornings are already deadlocked for a morning jog, and those are also workdays where I must be ready to leave the house at 8:00.

I’m really proud of myself this morning for making proper use of the extra hour. It won’t be long before my body clock aligns with the adjusted time, so I should milk this for as long as I can.

On Writing Projects:

This has been stalled for the past couple of months. I had a burst of inspiration for a project a few months ago, started it, and now it’s stalled. It’s an interesting story (or so I think) with a not-so-popular perspective, which is why I really really want to be able to finish it and get it out there. It’s now become a Lost Work, in the pile with the others that I’ve started and stalled on.

And now I find myself revisiting an old idea yet again. I wrote a short story a long, long time ago about a girl who was different. The story was well-received by a lot of people and I received a lot of praise for it. Back then, I had the idea of turning the short story into a novel. Over the years I’d revisited this idea over and over, only to start and then stall whenever motivation left me.

I’m struggling to find a way to make myself accountable for finishing my Lost Works. I have a whole digital folder of these… the oldest of which dating back more than 12 years. The folder transferred and backed up over the years as I migrated from machine to machine, always looking for the perfect writing Medium.

During my time researching authors from the daily quotes I’m doing, I learn more and more about their Becoming stories. How they got their First Big Break and how they toiled to get there. I have a general idea of how old they were when they finally published their first novel and I know that there is always still time for me. That it’s not a completely lost dream for me just because I am a 33 year old mother of a young child. Some authors took more than ten years to finish their first work.

So I guess the point is that I still have time, as long as I choose to make time.

The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: “I did not have time.”

Franklin Field

So this post was going to be about how I did not have time to post a daily quote every day and how difficult it was to find interesting quotes now that I’ve gone through most of the interesting books I’ve read recently. I had tens of excuses ready.

But then while researching quotes on time management for this post, I come across this line by Franklin Field, and I realised that I had really just failed myself by letting things go. I was letting myself off easy. If it was really that important to me to have quotes ready each day and to post the reviews of books I’d already finished, I would have made time to do it. Instead I allowed myself to be constrained and made excuses.

I had given myself a hard deadline to post the quote by 9 am each day, and as it became more and more difficult to make that daily deadline, I would slip. I’ll do it tomorrow, I told myself. I’ll just change the publish date. What a cheat. That’s not the way to get myself writing again.

So this post is about admitting my failure, and not making excuses. I won’t go into how I “could not find the time” in the last few days to keep up with the daily quote exercise. I’ll just say that I failed.

The importance of admitting failure is so I can look at what went wrong, then start again. I can keep striving to do better. I can’t promise to be completely successful next time. I will fail again, but that’s okay, too. I just have to keep going, despite the failures.

I have two books I’ve finished reading and hadn’t begun reviews for yet. I will catch up. I will return tomorrow with a daily quote of the day, but I won’t give myself a hard deadline anymore. As long as I get in before the end of the day, then all is okay.

Thank you to all those who’ve followed me and liked my posts. I’m sincerely sorry that I haven’t kept up the daily quotes as I should have been.

“Constant action creates constant results.”

Christine Kane

Here’s Christine Kane, an American singer-songwriter who is also an entrepreneur.

Today is my Rest day on my new training schedule, but I don’t plan to be off the hook that easy. As mentioned yesterday, I wanted to insert some kind of in-home training that I could do without subjecting my son to having to wake up super early without his mama in the house.

First thing I did when I woke up this morning was to stay in bed and browse my phone. Hang on though, I wasn’t just plain browsing, I was checking out the new apps I had downloaded yesterday. So here are my first impressions.

Screenshot of Gixo's homescreen.

Gixo – $7 and change every month just to use it? You’re kidding! Granted, that’s cheaper than a Netflix or Spotify subscription… but really? I signed up for the trial. This was the first app I browsed through and I was worried that all the apps would require me to subscribe in order to benefit from them.

Six Pack in 30 Days – Looks straight forward: pick a plan and go with it. I picked “Lose Belly Fat”, then your training is broken down into days. Select a day and you’ll see a list of different exercises that will be pretty easy to do from home.

Butt Workout – This is very similar to Six Pack in 30, though it skips the middle screen of days and goes straight to different types of workouts, and this is concentrated to your glutes instead of your abs.

I plan to try either the Six Pack or the Butt Workout later this afternoon when I’ve got some free time. I’m working from home today and tomorrow, which means I’m running after Finley most of the day, so… I’ll check in with my next progress tomorrow!

“My philosophy? Simplicity plus variety.”

Hank Stram

Today’s fitness quote comes from an American football coach who won three AFL championships and Super Bowl IV. I’m not a sport fanatic at all, but even I know that’s impressive.

For readers who plan to follow me the long term, I have to admit something now: I don’t do that much research before committing to trying something. Case in point, my exercise plan. I jumped into the C25K program thinking it was an everyday program–it’s not. And now I find myself with other days in my week that I must fill with some form of exercise. As every mother of a young toddler knows, hitting the gym before work is a no-go, not unless I want to drop the little monster off at daycare extremely early (which I suppose I could do, but I miss that lil’ deuce so much already as it is).

One of the programs I came across on darebee.com incorporated squats and calf raises into every alternate day after a training day. However, I can do 10 squares and 10 calf raises in about 5 minutes. Then that’s it… workout over. I’m left feeling somewhat dissatisfied with myself and I have a ton of early morning energy left. What I did like about the squats and calf raises though was that I could do them at home–which made me feel less guilty.

See, yesterday morning when I returned from my run, it was to a very awake Finley. Turns out he’d woken up minutes after I’d left, and he was wailing for mama until Jamie got him out of bed. They were playing happily enough, but it still made me feel like shit that Fin was basically awake from 5 am that day all because I wanted to go for a run.

How is it that Maria Kang can work out happily with her kids??

Some days I fantasize about being one of those women who can work out with her kids on board. But this is not something that can be practically done when you have to work a full 8 hour day that day. Imagine me waking Finley up at 5 am to sit on my back as I do sit ups. He wouldn’t be sitting for very long, either. With my mummy-luck, he’d probably shit on me, too. (Sidenote, GIS “work out mum” led me to Maria Kang’s site, which is a pretty cool read).

I’m getting side tracked. A side effect of researching for an article while I’m writing it.

So this morning I went google-hunting for short workouts I could do at home, which led me to Marie Claire’s “The 24 Best Workout Apps for Women Who Want Results“. From their long list, I’ve picked out these apps to try:

Gixo – Marie Claire toots that there are a ton of workouts in this app you can do without leaving your APARTMENT!

Six Pack in 30 Days – I am curious to see if I will ever have visible abs.

Butt Workout and Fitness App – I would like to get rid of this mum butt.

Freeletics – Building muscle, again, WITHOUT LEAVING YOUR APARTMENT!

Daily Ab Workout – Same reason as Six Pack in 30 Days…

Daily Yoga – I don’t like yoga very much, a bit boring for me, but I thought I’d try again.

J&J Official 7 Minute Workout – For those days when Fin just won’t stay asleep for very long. Or for my “rest” days.

That looks like quite a list… but I’m putting Hank Stram’s philosopy to the test. Simplicity plus Variety. And of course, I’ll be checking back in with my progress as I go. Hopefully my findings can provide some insight for other people in a similar situation.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.”

Walter Elliot

So I woke up with my new alarm today at 5 am. I hear the rain outside and for a few minutes, I wonder if I should just stay home today and call it a rest day. After all, it is raining.

But it’s literally day 2 of my new training plan. Day 2, and I’m coming up with excuses to stay home. I didn’t even have a hard time yesterday–I actually enjoyed it!

Here’s a funny story. I downloaded the Couch to 5 K app on my iPhone (and now, as I write this, I realise this is not even the official app… a fact revealed after I google it for linking here). It’s a super shitty app and I was surprised that it looks so bad for a app that promotes a fairly popular training program. Lazy me shrugged it off. I also adopted a try-for-longer-than-I-want-to approach to most things recently as I don’t want to miss out on something great just because I’m an idiot or that my first impression is wrong.

So week 1 day 1 of my C25K training was done incorrectly. I got the warm up part right, but the interval run turned into just me running/jogging for the whole 15 minutes. I was waiting for the app to prompt me to switch from running to walking and then running again, but it never happened.

When I tried the app again this morning, I realised I had to keep the app on screen and the phone screen ON the whole time for it to actually prompt me. What a horrible design feature!! Granted, I’m an idiot for not testing it out more before using it, but still.

I did actually enjoy running the whole way though. I’m not sure if it was because it was the first time I ran in a long time, but it felt good. I didn’t feel tired and I didn’t get stitches in my side like I expected to, so I guess I’m less unfit than I thought I was. The total distance I ran/jogged/walked was at 2.95 K, and I ended up feeling refreshed rather than tired.

Week 1 day 2 today, my legs are a little sore, but nothing horrible like I expected. I also did end up doing the interval training since I left my phone screen on with the app loaded the whole time. The in app trainer also sounded like the announcer in one of those cheap bluetooth headsets–you know the one, the lady with the incredibly faint Chinese accent to her English, telling you what was happening in the most dispassionate tone.

Another program I found online had introduced rest days through out the week, which I’ll be adding to my routine. Tomorrow is another training day and then Thursday I get a rest.

Anyway. Upon further googling, I found the offical Couch25K app here. I’ll download this today and try it out for tomorrow morning and log here about how I go.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

A quote by Joseph Addison.

So my husband and I have been talking about me taking my health and fitness seriously. It’s something that has been floating at the back of my mind for a while, but I never get around to actually doing anything about it.

I wish I could say that I stumbled across the quote by Joseph Addison and that’s what got me going (some whole thing about if I’m going to write a reading column then I ought to keep fit as well)… but that’s not what happened.

See, I decided that I was going to start running tomorrow (a Monday), and I was not going to let myself chicken out or give up, or fall out of the habit like before. I promptly edit my alarm to 5 am. Then I spend the precious hours thinking about HOW I was going to do it and googling different programs to try. I’m also worrying about whether I could even find my jogging bra and shorts… I am even tempted right now at 10:40 pm while my husband and child are sleeping next to me, to get up, use my phone as a flashlight and rifle through my drawers for my running clothes. Doing all that would definitely wake them up and I can see a grumpy Jamie mumbling “what the hell are you doing?!” while little boy Fin whinges, half awake.

Right. So I can’t get up right now to look for my running clothes. But how else will I force myself to be accountable to this goal?

Oh wait, didn’t I recently redo my whole site to dedicate to better content and serious commitments to reading and writing? Why not channel that same energy to fitness?

So I am writing here. And of course I must find a quote for the title, to fit with my “thing”. And here is a very fitting quote about reading for the brain and exercise for the body. Perfect.

So here I am. I found a program I want to try: Couch to 5k. I’m starting tomorrow and I’m going to just run with it. I will write another update with how I go. First day impression and first week impressions and so on.

And yes, all of the puns in this piece were intended.

How This Works

Welcome to Just Words In Your Head!

The two things I love doing the most is reading and writing. So that’s what this site is focused on. I do plan on doing some feature articles on small town bookstores and random things here and there, but regular content will be on reading and writing.

Firstly, on the right hand side of the site you will see my most recently read books as well as what I’m currently reading. I am continuing the same challenge I did in 2018–4 books a month.

As for articles about Reading, currently there are two main columns: Book Reviews and Daily Quotes.

Book Reviews are titled with the opening sentence of the book because I always found the opening sentence to hold a lot of power for the setting of a story or a conversation. It’s actually how I decide whether I’m going to read a book or not–all based on the first impression I get from the opening sentence. White Flag Reviews are reviews of books I quit reading for one reason or another. These are a recent addition as I’ve just come across my first White Flag book of 2019.

Daily Quotes are just random quotes that stuck out to me, whether from a book I am reading or just in passing. Some of these are inspiration and some of them are just plain interesting. I will post one of these every single day.

With Writing, I plan to plop stuff down about my process and struggle with current projects. I don’t have much to go on right now as my work has been stalled for a while, but the plan is to get everything ramped up again once this site is in better shape.

And then there is Everything Else, where everything about my life that doesn’t have to do with reading and writing goes. Because we are each so much more than our hopes and dreams.

I have big plans for this space, so please stick around and I will try my utmost not to let you down.

— Just Words