School

Looking Back on the Semester and Getting Grades

Amidst adjusting to my new job, I just received my grades for the spring semester. It’s crazy to think I started the blog at the start of the semester and was able to write about my first day of class, the COVID-19 pandemic, all the way to the very last exam.

In that time, I’ve done so much for the blog: I’ve read 15 books (15 more than last year!), began learning calligraphy, revisited music production, and have completely organized most of my life!

So needless to say, not only did I want good grades for personal gain, I also wanted them to work towards achieving for the blog. With Project 1 being dedicated to trying to CALI a law class (getting the highest grade), I felt determined to work towards it.

In light of the grade changes following the school closing for the semester, our classes became pass/fail. I’m excited to say I passed them all! I can’t say I was particularly nervous, but there’s always that one voice in the back of your head that whispers “what if?”

My school also implemented an honors pass which means the top 30% of the class received an honors pass instead of a pass. It doesn’t affect your GPA, but for those that demand competition, it’s what we got.

I received an honors pass in my legal writing class, which means there’s a chance I CALIed in it. If it didn’t, I made it to the top of the class, which honestly is enough for me. I did bet during the last week of class that I had a chance in legal writing. While I’m not going to bet that I got it, we should find out who did in the next few weeks. So who knows, maybe I did complete Project 1?

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School

I Started a New Job!

Hello! Apologies for the radio silence lately, but I come bearing good news: I started a new job!

I’m extremely grateful the summer position I was given was not cancelled due to the pandemic. Many of my classmates had their opportunities cancelled and of course, with the current economic conditions I expected mine to follow suit.

Usually law firms hire several students each summer. My firm hires a few in anticipation of them collaborating and working together. While there are other students working with me, they all started before me and are in the classes above mine. When paired with the fact that this is my first legal position, I am a bit overwhelmed.

That being said, I’m very excited to be starting this position. I’m working for a great company in the heart of the city and everything feels like an early 2000s Devil Wears Prada-esque movie. Except all the people I work with are lovely.

My days consist of taking the train downtown, walking through the city to my skyscraper, going through the gorgeous marble lobby, and heading to my office. I seriously couldn’t ask for a better gig.

Sheraton Palace Hotel, Lobby, Architecture

In the midst of it all, I’ve failed to update my blog. As it’s still the first week, I’m still transitioning. I’ve been so tired when I get home, I don’t really have many project updates. However, I hope to find some sort of normalcy soon.

Thank you for bearing with me as I get used to my new routine. I promise, I’ll still have plenty of project updates this summer! I’m looking forward to sharing this next chapter with you all!

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Project 7, Uncategorized

How To Learn a Basic Calligraphy Alphabet in a Few Hours

My calligraphy journey has been off to a great start! I’ve probably committed about 7 hours or so to it so far but I’m really proud of my progress!

The Skillshare class I’ve been following has been fantastic (not sponsored!). It’s meant for beginners and is a perfect introduction into lettering. Additionally, he shows you how to make a calligraphy pen out of a soda can and a popsicle stick, so if you’re unable to get a pen, he’s here to accomodate.

The first few classes were centered around learning basic strokes. For each stroke he taught you, he asked that you do a full page. At first, I was hesitant since it seemed like so much work. But I did it nonetheless. I’m so glad I did, because it really steadied my hand. It also taught me to recognize how much ink is on the pen and how often I need to refill.

The basic strokes ended up looking something like this:

And because I’m a child, I colored on some of the exercises. Sorry, but I’m not sorry. Note that the smudging on these came from my coloring, not from my ink which was strange since I colored the images days later.

I was really satisfied to see improvement across these images. I was starting to feel really confident with these basic movements.

From there, I tried my first alphabet. It turned out like this:

I apologize for the shortened video, I usually use my boyfriend’s phone but since he’s at work I used mine and well, I ran out of storage. Oops. I’m a professional. I’m also hoping I can make this videos higher quality soon. I’m doing the best I can here.

I’ve got a long way to go – especially with letters that are not within the parameters of the basic strokes I learned. Letters like g, k, p, w, w, x, and z all need a little workshopping. But for a first try, I’m pretty happy. It’s not wedding invitation worthy, but it’s definitely fridge worthy.


So there you have it: progress. Nothing more satisfying than seeing growth, right? Next I’ll tackle uppercase letters.

How do you think I did? Would you ever want to learn calligraphy? Let me know in the comments down below!

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Uncategorized

Project Updates – June 2020

Happy Hump Day! After finishing my law journal writing competition, I now have a week of freedom before my job starts. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this week of nothing – maybe a bit too much. In anticipation of starting the job, I’ve been putting my all into blogging. Here’s where we stand with the projects:

Project 1: CALI a Law Class

This project has most definitely morphed into an amalgamation of legal success, which is fine by me. I won’t mention the writing competition again – but that was tough to do for the three weeks after finals. Burnout is everywhere.

But I’m excited to announce that I’ll be working at a downtown law firm over the summer! I’m really looking forward to trying out the career I’ve worked 23 years for, but nervous nonetheless. I’ve never really had a steady 9-5 job. All of my jobs in the past were either intermittent or entirely at home. It might take a little adjusting to go full adult.

Project 2: Get Organized

I’m almost done! Yesterday I tended to some much needed lawn care and general landscaping – a task that didn’t even make my list. I don’t have a lawnmower, but my front yard isn’t more than 20 square feet, so I just used scissors. It may have looked stupid, but it got the job done. After I get my next paycheck – shears. The bushes need trimming.

Everything else that’s left is mostly on my hard drive. My hard drive plunges into the depths of my childhood and it’s tough to clean without getting distracted. Oops.

Project 3: Make a Cover Album

I’m so slow on this project and I’m sorry. I’ve had very little motivation or inspiration for it. However, a slight breakthrough that might be a gamechanger: I got SkillShare (not sponsored). While I got it for my calligraphy project, I figured I could make use of it to really learn how to use FL Studio. Hopefully learning more about the program can inspire me.

Project 4: Read 100 Classics

Abbey and I have officially started a book club where we’re holding ourselves accountable to reading one book a week. This week is Madame Bovary. Outside that, I’m also working through Beowulf – but progress has been slow. When I’m not reading, I’m listening to Les Mis on Audible (not sponsored). So while it’s been over a week since there’s been a review, it won’t be much longer, I promise.

In the meantime, Abbey’s been crushing it. She actually surprised me by listening to Les Mis at work over the past few weeks. Not to be outdone, I got it too. She’s only one or two books behind me now and I’m a little intimidated (don’t tell her I said that).

Also, I’m on Goodreads! Come stop in and say hello! Reviews will be going up this week!

Project 5: Write a Book

Yeah, there’s been no progress here. Doing this project with Abbey makes it a little tough to work on since we both have to be willing and able. But I’m hoping to force her soon.

Project 6: Learn How to Blog

This project has shown the most promise. I’ve really put in effort here. You may have noticed my posts looking a little better and that’s no coincidence. I’ve been focused on creating better content.

I’ve also been diving deep into social media! It’s beyond overwhelming to optimize one platform, let alone several. I’ve been putting most of my effort into Pinterest, creating pins left and right. Everything’s scheduled, so expect to see a lot of pins there in the coming weeks.

It’s been so much fun meeting new bloggers. To the fresh faces, hello and welcome!

Project 7: Learn Calligraphy

I’m really, really enjoying this project. It’s a bit unexpected honestly. I didn’t expect to sink my teeth in as far as I have. After the first attempt, I’ve begun following a SkillShare course. I’m still learning basic strokes so while I haven’t written any words, I have pages and pages of lines and circles and boxes. I’m glad the course moves slow though, I’m actually seeing real improvement. I can’t wait to share it all with you!

Project 8: Run a 10K

This project was paused for my competition. Each and every day was spent writing and writing and writing. Now that it’s over, I’ve been slow to get back into the runs. Don’t worry, I will. It’s a minor setback.

And that’s where I’m at with everything! If you enjoyed today’s post let me know in the comments down below! Which projects are your favorite to read?

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Blogging, Brand Building

Can Social Media Grow Your Blog Quickly?

I’m now on social media!

As a part of my learn to blog project, I’ve been reading up about tips and tricks to help make your blog a better experience for your readers. Of course, social media is an integral part of connecting with your community. However, I want to use this opportunity to run a little experiment to find out which platforms are most effective.

So after doing some research, I compiled the most heavily suggested platforms for bloggers and some of the advice successful bloggers have given for using the platforms. My goal is to try these out in the way they recommend and see if it really does drive traffic and engagement on my blog. Without further ado, I present to you my preliminary findings (and handles) for social media platforms for bloggers.

Pinterest

I was shocked to find that Pinterest seems to be the bread and butter for bloggers. As someone who phases in and out of using it personally, I didn’t really understand how I could promote my content there. The best description I found was that Pinterest is a visual search engine that operates outside of the limits of SEO (Search Engine Optimization: the metric that Google uses to decide which results to show first when you search something).

Pinterest has its own internal search algorithm that can give you a shot to be seen. Also, in terms of longevity, your content is even more evergreen. As long as someone searches for something that’s similar to your pin, it has a chance to be seen.

There’s also plenty of data about when and how often to post. The general consensus of what I found was posting 5-10 pins a day was most effective for getting seen and the best time to be seen was between 8-11 PM EST. I found a really useful (and free!) downloadable Pinterest guide linked in this post that told me more than I knew about Pinterest.

I started posting pins I created on Canva twelve hours ago. Each pin has two views and one has one save. I focused on big fonts and clear presentation. Definitely more visibility than I was expecting for someone who doesn’t follow anyone yet.

Would you pin it? I’m still trying to get a feel for what’s “pinnable” and what’s not.

Find me on Pinterest: jacquelineofalltradesblog

Instagram

Instagram is everywhere. It’s not a surprise it’s recommended, although the ways to scale on it seem to be different than Pinterest.

The key to Instagram seems to be 1) a strong hashtag game and, 2) following similar accounts to yours. I still have yet to figure out which hashtags work. Once I find out, I’ll do a deep dive on what I find to help you all too.

Also, stories? I’ve never posted a story on my personal Instagram, so I have no idea what I’m doing there. Let’s find out together.

I made my Instagram so I could post my time lapse of my calligraphy attempts, I expect to put more content there soon!

Find me on Instagram: jacqueline.ofalltrades

Facebook

Okay, so I actually had no idea how to grow a Facebook page besides promoting it. As a broke college student, paying for views is not within the budget. Enter facebook groups.

Facebook groups that promote bloggers are a great way to find similar creators and discover new blogs. They work in a you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours kind of way. Nevertheless, some of these groups are over 30,000 bloggers, so that’s a big audience that can potentially see your content. Here’s a list of recommended blogging groups.

Some pages let you join as your blog page, where others you join as your personal account. I’m having trouble joining any with my blog page at the moment – I wonder if it has to do with the fact I have only 2 likes on the page. Once I figure this out and can join groups, we’ll revisit my findings.

Find me on Facebook: @jacquelineofalltradesblog

Twitter

To me, Twitter is the chaotic evil of social media. I stopped using it about five years ago. I’m going to have to really be convinced it’s worth my time to get one. Sources seem mixed and with other platforms being recommended more heavily, I’m staying away for now until I learn more.

Do any of you have a Twitter for your blog? Does it actually help engagement?

Goodreads

Goodreads is really only relevant to me because of Project 4. It’s basically a virtual book club: you can share what you’re reading, reviews on what you have read, and join chats all about it. Honestly, I’m looking forward to talking about the books I read more with others. I created a bookshelf with my list of classics and I expect to be retroactively posting my reviews.

The only downside is that it can mess with your SEO. Basically if you post the same review on your blog as you do on Goodreads, Google is going to recognize the duplicate content and likely display the Goodreads search result before your blog (since it’s a bigger website Google finds it to be more relevant). There is a solution which is to write different reviews. For me, I think my Goodreads reviews will be shorter and more about how the book made me feel. Here’s an interesting article about this problem.

Find me on Goodreads: jacqueline-of-all-trades

Bloglovin’

I’m very mixed on Bloglovin’. It’s a one-stop-shop for blogs where a reader can read their favorite blogs from a variety of platforms. On one hand, that’s great. Finding people who like to read blogs is perfect for what you’re doing. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure you’ll have the same problem as you do with Goodreads. Will Google recognize the Bloglovin’ content as the original?

I’m not really sure on that. So for that reason, I need to do more research before I can be convinced the platform helps more than it harms.

Do you use Bloglovin’? What’s your experience been? I’d love to know especially since I’ve never used the platform myself.

So with that, I enter my social media journey. I’d love to hear from you guys though: what’s your experience been with using social media?

Also, follow me or drop your usernames in the comments down below! I’m looking for accounts to follow!

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Project 7

My First Attempt at Calligraphy

This week, I received all my calligraphy supplies for Project 7! There’s no better way to decompress after finishing a massive task than to get a little creative, so upon finishing our law journal writing competition, we decided to blindly test the materials.

The Materials

I chose this set from Amazon (not sponsored!). After redeeming a coupon, the set went from $15 to $9. The set included one pen, eleven nibs, and some ink. While I don’t have anything to compare it to, I did like the pen and thought it was easy to use.

Without any instruction whatsoever, I blindly tested the nibs. Each one is different in both shape and size. Some have a pointier tip where others create a brush effect by a flatter edge. Some also are longer than others, I have yet to figure out what the effect of that is. Here’s what each of the nibs looked like:

As I was using the pen, I realized it was easier to use than I expected. The ink was easily controlled by the nib which surprised me. I thought using a calligraphy pen would be like writing with a needle – scraping the paper. But it really wasn’t. It felt just as natural as any other pen.

I Tried My Best…

From there, I decided to try writing a little bit of print and a little bit of script. I didn’t look up any sort of instructions – I wanted to start at the absolute beginning. While I will learn actual technique, I just wanted to mess around. I’m hoping that as I get better, I can look back on where I started and see some progress.

I also made a time lapse of my first attempt. (Yes, I did have to set up an Instagram just to post this, expect more content there in the future!). Check it out:

All in all, I was not disappointed. I expected more smudging, but I was careful not to overload the pen with ink. I’ve always had decent handwriting, but I’m looking forward to learning calligraphy fonts. I know consistency is the most important part and my handwriting has never been very consistent.

…And Then My Boyfriend Blew Me Out of the Water

My boyfriend also gave it a go. He might have been the underdog being a lefty, but he was able to pull together something very impressive. He’s always been a bit snotty about his pens, always using only a certain kind of pen because he liked the way the ink flowed. Before trying the calligraphy pen, he was already an accomplished doodler. Here’s some of his older stuff using normal roller-ball pens:

Needless to say, he couldn’t wait to get the calligraphy pen in his hands. He managed to make this on his first go:

(To see a time lapse of his work, check out the second slide in the Instagram post above!)

He also had an absolute blast. I made the executive decision to leave the calligraphy materials at his house so he could dabble whenever he wanted.

I’m excited to take on this project and I can’t wait to get into the real stuff! Playing around was fun – but now it’s time to craft an actual skill. We’re looking forward to both learning more and discovering a new world we know nothing about.

How’d we do? Share your thoughts with us down in the comments below!

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Motivation, Resources, School

The Importance of Being Competitive with Yourself

Hello again! I know I’ve been gone for a while – which is a little ironic seeing as my last few posts included gems like What I Learned from Blogging Every Day and Four Reasons Why Taking a Break Can Boost Your Productivity.

The Writing Competition

I’ve been away working on my law journal writing competition. What started as a three-week chance to earn a spot on a law journal at my school turned into one of the most stressful experiences in recent memory. Something kicked into high gear and I just wanted to compete. As someone who is usually low stress and hardly ever feels competitive, this was a strange shift. One I definitely wasn’t prepared for.

Now, I’m not allowed to talk about the specifics of the competition, but what I can say is that it was hard. The topic, in my opinion, was very difficult. I spent two of the three weeks just trying to understand the material, not a single word written.

Finding the Competitive Spirit

Something happened while I was competing and every ounce of my body just wanted to win. So much so, that I (safely) went home to stay with my parents – abandoning my boyfriend who was also competing – just to completely focus. I kicked all other distractions out of my life, including this blog.

It was a roller coaster of emotions, but I got through it. In the end, I turned in what I thought was a really strong effort. But honestly, even if I don’t make it, I’ve found peace. I forgot that while I make an effort to better myself in my personal life, I’m often complacent in my academic life. Being the best in the class has never been important to me (that’s why I started a project trying to do it, I wanted to see if I could motivate myself to compete). I’m excited that I’ve found that drive to compete.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of this blog – because since starting this journey I’ve just wanted more for myself. Not handouts, but I wanted to earn every bit of satisfaction. Finding competition has been one of the most fulfilling experiences and I’m really glad these weeks of mental burnout and suffering are over. I’m even more glad I came out on top.

The Validation

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, this morning I received my grades for the motion I wrote. It was the only other thing I slaved over, and I slaved over it because it was a part of my project. The grade came back and I was way above the average. Pushing hard and competing against yourself does pay off.

Do you compete against yourself? Do you find this practice healthy? I’d love to hear any and all thoughts down below!

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Book Reviews, Project 4

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Book No. 15

71. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)

Dates: 5/21/20 – 5/22/20 (2.5 hours)

Plot: Fantastic confectioner and inventor, Willy Wonka, invites 5 children – chosen by his famous Golden Ticket system – to tour his chocolate factory.

Experience Before Reading: As a child, Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors. I’ve read most of his books and took the stories with me well into adulthood.

Takeaway: Maybe it’s because I just finished Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that I felt the need to read another English children’s classic. I’m not sure. But I’m glad I did. It’s just as whimsical as I remember. Roald Dahl has a unique writing style in that he almost writes like a child, rambling on like only a child would:

And what a palace it was! It had one hundred rooms, and everything was made of either dark or light chocolate! The bricks were chocolate, and the cement holding them together was chocolate, and the windows were chocolate, and all the walls and ceilings were made of chocolate, so were the carpets and the pictures and the furniture and the beds; and when you turned on the taps in the bathroom, hot chocolate came pouring out.

Chapter 3

Additionally, Dahl shows and doesn’t tell. The story moves quickly. Willy Wonka himself picks up the pace by telling his guests that they need to hurry up. There’s never a moment to digest the craziness, it’s just a plethora of ideas.

These impossible ideas are thrown at you from every direction – on the tour they pass rooms with fantastical names that they just walk (or run) right on by. I absolutely loved the absurdity of some of these rooms. I won’t spoil them for you, read them for yourself with an absolute grin on your face.

The whole book is just fun. It makes sense why it has survived all these years: Dahl has the imagination of a child. As adults, our brains often strike down ideas that we believe to be impossible, but Roald Dahl embraces this and pushes his creativity to come up with such crazy notions. When paired with actual lessons and commentaries from why television rots children’s brains to how resisting temptation may lead to rewards, it becomes a book that children of every era can enjoy.

I’ll end this review with the best review of the book I saw. I think it sums up my experience well:

I responded to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because it respected the fact that children can be adults.

Tim Burton

Would I Recommend It?: To every child, whether they’re “grown-up” or not.

Abbey’s Review

Dates: 5/31/20 (2 hours)

Experience Before Reading: I read this book as a child and remembered thinking it was a bit too weird for my tastes. Obviously I watched the movie(s) – let’s not talk about the Johnny Depp one. In addition to being vastly underwhelming, it is the source of an embarrassing moment when my brother mentioned he thought it was a dark film and I responded, “I agree, it was kind of hard to see a lot of it.” His subsequent laughter has haunted me to this day. I’ve never liked the movie and this may be part of it. I would like to say in my defense that I was 10, so cut me some slack.

Takeaway: People always give Grandpa Joe sh*t for being in bed and then when suddenly presented a golden ticket he’s fine to go out, but like he’s 96. My grandma can barely get out of her chair, but I’ve seen her walk nearly a mile to get to a “lucky” slot machine and she’s 88. Give Grandpa Joe a break! Also why is gum chewing so bad?

Important Note: While tasting the wallpaper, Willy Wonka says to try the snozzberries. In a later work, Roald Dahl uses snozzberry to refer to, well, Roald’s little Dahl. Thought this was important for all readers to know. Also, the fact that Roald Dahl wrote an erotic novel is ludicrous. I heard he was a big sult actually. (Not sult shaming, just sult surprised)

Would I Recommend It?: If you liked Alice in Wonderland, I would totally recommend this. It has the same sort of nonsensical fun that children always enjoy. I think I probably liked this better than I did as a child. I am definitely going to be watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory tonight!

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Motivation, Productivity, Resources, Time Management

Four Reasons Why Taking a Break Can Boost Your Productivity

As someone who is always working on projects and posting about them every day, I can understand why people think I’m more productive than most. But I’m not. To be honest, I’m probably less productive than you think. It’s all about time management. I’m an adamant believer in working smarter, not harder.

I’ve been in rigorous academic environments for a while now and one thing I notice, especially in law school, is that so often people incorrectly equate working more with doing more. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

There is so much danger in working until you drop. That “grind mentality” leads to much less success than little progress every day. We need breaks. Breaks can be anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of days. Sometimes, taking more time off is critical. Allow me to explain:

1. Breaks Allow Your Mind To Reset

“Just sleep on it!” It’s a phrase we’ve all said, the concept of waiting to make a decision until the morning when you’re all fresh. Sometimes, though, we need to “sleep on it” in the middle of the day. Think of it as restarting a computer. When your computer is moving slow, you reboot it and there, it’s fine again!

Taking a break allows your mind to look for new solutions by looking at it with fresh eyes. You’re looking at your problem in a whole new light, right? Not quite. In difficult and nuanced situations, your brain has likely been processing your problem all along. According to a theory proposed in 2006, called Unconscious Thought Theory, your unconscious mind helps you make better decisions for these issues:

[C]ontrary to popular belief, decisions about simple issues can be better tackled by conscious thought, whereas decisions about complex matters can be better approached with unconscious thought.

A Theory of Unconscious Thought, Ap Dijksterhuis and Loran Nordgren, 2006

You can read the full paper here.

2. You Can Compartmentalize Your Work

I’m notorious for this one. If I’ve got two assignments due, I only work on the one that’s due first. I won’t even touch the second one until the first is done.

This is a useful technique for the same reasons as above. You’re keeping yourself exposed to only one problem at a time. Cranking out assignment 1 and taking a long break before assignment 2 allows your brain get ready for a new topic.

Psychologist Jordan Peterson argues that getting small tasks done can keep us motivated to keep moving and that these small changes make a big impact in our lives. It’s powerful stuff. It’s a bit more motivational than concrete evidence of compartmentalizing, but if you’re interested, you can listen in yourself here.

3. The Longer You Work, The Less You’ll Accomplish

This is the law of diminishing returns. Eventually you’ll hit a point where the more effort you put into something, say studying, the less you’ll retain. That first hour of working on something is primary real estate. Measuring out the wood you’ll cut to make furniture, chopping all the vegetables for a soup. Whatever it may be, there eventually comes a point where your brain just won’t get much more.

While I could explain more on this topic, I think it’s best summarized by a Ted Talk my boyfriend sent me last night. Go ahead, watch this for yourself. You may be surprised:

4. You’ll Probably Be Happier Doing Your Work After Taking Breaks

Scaling back can be invaluable. It’s common knowledge since burning out doesn’t feel good. But happiness can boost productivity (check out this academic paper from the University of Warwick about work environments and productivity).

It’s exemplifies why those who have the “grind mentality” might not get as much done in a day. One social media hustler, Gary Vaynerchuk, consistently advocates for working until you can’t any more. A real-estate investor, Graham Stephan, took the opportunity to explain exactly why this mentality doesn’t work for everyone – and why it didn’t work for him. I’m a big fan of this video because it promotes mental stability and also accomplishing big goals:

If you made it this far, I hope something has struck a chord that it’s okay to move slow. This method works well for me, but I want to know: what productivity tips do you have? Does this method work well for you?

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Project 8

Another Big Announcement: Project 8

You thought yesterday’s news was exciting? I’m here with another new project! It’s finally a physical project, too. I’m going to run a 10k.

My (Not-So) Athletic Background

I’ve always been relatively in control of my general health and fitness. As a kid, I was a big softball player. All throughout college, I was a bit of a gym rat. I was never really obsessive, but I enjoyed working out. When I started law school, working out took a bit of a pause. A year long pause to be exact.

Even though I enjoyed working out, I’m not much of an athlete. Especially when it comes to running: my knees face slightly inward so I have a strange run. I also have asthma and feet that don’t quite fit properly into any shoe. On top of that, I’m really slow. I tend to interval run: walk x feet, run y feet, etc. My runs in college averaged around a 5k (3.1 miles).

Despite my quirks, I’ve always wanted to run races. Five years ago, during my freshman year of college, I tried to run a half marathon. Somewhere around 8-10 miles into my training, I got nasty shin splints and nixed the idea since I didn’t want to injure myself. Nothing more embarrassing than a freshman girl hobbling to her classes from a treadmill injury. Since then, I haven’t tried distance running.

But with the creation of this blog, I wanted to try a race again. I figured a 5k was a little too easy and with the next highest race being a 10k (6.2 miles), I thought it might be a good goal. To break out of my interval running, I want to try and do it in under 60 minutes.

My First 10k

Fast-forward to yesterday morning. It was time to kick myself into shape. I figured I’d try the 10k without any sort of training to establish a baseline. I’ve gone on maybe two other runs this month, both 5ks. Besides that, the lethargic quarantine lifestyle has kept me from any other workouts.

So at what might be the most out of shape of my life, I took to running the 10k. My goal was to just be under 2 hours. This is what happened:

Mile 1: There’s some nature reserves and parks near my home that I thought I’d run to. The problem is that they’re at the top of a 300-foot hill. So right at the start of my run I was met with elevation. Great. I didn’t even try to run it. At least I’d coast down it on the way back.

Mile 2 and 3: This is where your body just wants to stop. Hands down, these were the most difficult miles. At the end of mile 3, I made it to a lake which was a nice little spot for joggers. All of them waved hello.

Mile 4: I had now accepted my suffering. My hips started to lock a little, but knowing I was on my way back, I found my stride. I was surprised I had it in me since pretty much every other run in my life was done by this point.

Mile 5: I was so jaded at this point. I did coast down that hill, but it came at the cost of cramps on the right side of my body. Also, queue the nausea.

Mile 6-6.2: I made it to my boyfriend’s house with a tenth of a mile to go. I did little laps around the sidewalk of his place. I was pretty much crawling. I looked like an extra for The Walking Dead. But damn it, I did it.

I was proud to have done it. As a student, I’m constantly pushing my mental strength, but to know that I’ve become strong enough to control and push myself physically was really exciting. I think I might have caught the bug again.

But now for the part you’re all waiting for: my time. I clocked in at 1:41:10. I was so proud to have finished, I didn’t even care. I also saw a variety of factors that could be optimized: I was out-of-shape, it was so humid, it was muddy from rain the day before, my asthma kicked up, I didn’t know how to pace myself, etc. etc. I know that to improve by 41 minutes is insane, but I know I can do it.

It was just so gratifying to complete my first run. I know that I’ll continue to get better. Seeing my boyfriend’s face when I walked in, he was so proud of me. As a runner himself, he was excited to see me trying something he loved so much. That in and of itself made it all worth it. I asked him if he’d plan my runs, go on some with me, and be a running sensei to me. He agreed to all of them.

As if that wasn’t good enough, I did some research: the cutoff time for most 10k races is 1:30:00. That means if I were running at 10k for a race I wouldn’t have finished or gotten my medal. So yeah, there’s still some work to be done. And man am I hungry for it.

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