Self-Quarantine Diaries No. 02


A few weeks ago, I shared a few reflections on my first week in quarantine due to COVID-19. I had been furloughed by work, started my first experiences with online classes, and started a puzzle. Well, a month later, a lot has changed.

To begin, I went back to work in a very limited sense. My work is only fulfilling curbside orders or ship-to-home orders for books. The biggest focus is having us rearrange the entire store and deep clean everything. I returned to work on Tuesday, and I legitimately could barely walk by the end of my shift. I had moved bookshelves, loads of books, and laughed with my coworkers again. I know I am incredibly blessed to be back at work.

Which leads me to my next change: I am giving back to my community. With the stimulus check and returning to work, I have some extra money to provide to my community. I have shopped a few small businesses, ordered contactless delivery food, and donated to food banks. My donations are nothing huge, but I know the difference a small act can make. I encourage you, if you can, to look around your home and see if you can help in any way you can. Perhaps it’s staying within your home.

Before quarantine, I bought two puzzles with the idea that I would have an abundance of time. I didn’t even finish one puzzle. My brain could not focus on the puzzle for extended periods of time, and I grew frustrated. I quickly fell into binge watching shows. Within a month, I watched a season and a half of This Is Us, all of Girl Meets World, and five seasons of New Girl. I can confidently say I will have New Girl finished by the middle of next week at the latest.

I have not been able to focus on reading in any capacity. As I scroll through Twitter and Instagram, I know many other readers are feeling the same way. Reading is usually an escape for me, but, after a full day of terrifying news and online classes, I simply cannot focus enough to start a new book. I did manage to finish Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden.

It was a light enough book for me that I could easily sit down and read it in bigger chunks. I loved the focus of the humanitarian work, but I did get irritated by the main character not believing in the importance of baking. Let me know if you would like to see a full review here on the blog about this book.

As far as school goes, I officially was late to one of my Zoom classes since my professor changed the time, and I forgot about it. I have definitely gotten less motivated throughout the month to actually do my work in a consistent manner. A few of my professors have even stopped posting consistently which does not help my procrastination. I can feel the drain of online classes every day from my classmates, professors, and myself. I have three weeks left, so I can only hope to find motivation somewhere.

Realistically, I am feeling the drain of quarantine on my spirits. I try my best to check in with my friends and family with video chats or texts. As well all know at this point, it’s not the same. I know I have to do my part, though, to stay home as much as possible for those around me. I am doing all that I can to practice my part in this whole system.

How have you been doing during COVID-19? What does quarantine look like from where you are? Let me know in the comments!



Matching Outfits to YA Book Covers


I recently saw this trend on TikTok and Instagram where people matched their outfits to book covers. Personally, I didn’t think I had any outfits that would match the books I own. After a quick video chat session with my friend, I found some pretty awesome combinations!

shiver by maggie stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater matching book cover outfit

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

The Selection trilogy by Kiera Cass matching outfit

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Lovely War matching book cover outfit

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge matching book cover outfit

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter: Chamber of Secrets matching book cover outfit

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer matching book cover outfit

I had a lot of fun putting together these outfits! I did make this a TikTok (follow me @themisscharley) and added in an extra outfit. Make sure to check out the TikTok to see the full outfits and a bonus one!



Self-Quarantine Week One Reflections


I started writing three different posts this week, but none of them felt quite right. I struggled with knowing whether or not to write about the Coronavirus quarantine. One part of me wants to create “timeless” blog posts that don’t mention the quarantine at all. The other part of me wants to be relatable and express where I am in life right now.

So here goes a reflection on what has happened since I went into self-quarantine:

I got furloughed

If you’re like me at all, then you may have never heard the term “furloughed” before COVID-19. I know I certainly had no idea this term existed which was scary when I heard it the first time from my store manager. Furlough is when you are still an employee of a company but you don’t go to work for an extended period of time. It’s not a vacation, but you can get paid depending on company policy. I am so lucky to get my PTO and two weeks’ worth of pay.

The last time I didn’t have an hourly job was my freshman year of high school. Even in middle and high school, I volunteered after school or babysat. My spring break week was strange to have no schoolwork or work to do. I will touch on what I did later, but I had to create a routine for myself to feel some semblance of normal.

Luckily, my state governor announced being able to file for unemployment even if you are just furloughed, so I will hopefully be able to start seeing an income in that way. Unemployment has a negative connotation in society, but these circumstances will hopefully change the shameful words used.

classes went online… to Zoom

Many of my classes this semester are teaching methods courses which requires going into schools, group work, etc. With schools shut down for the rest of the semester, half my professors are requiring Zoom calls. I had never heard of Zoom until two weeks ago. As I’ve gotten used to it, I do think it’s a pretty neat program for classes with breakout sessions, whiteboards, etc.

I struggled to get into a zone with online schooling since I have always attended school in-person. I rarely used my desk for homework, let alone lectures. My chair definitely isn’t as comfortable as I thought it was. I have construction going on outside that literally shakes my entire house while I’m trying to concentrate.

Overall, this week went pretty well with classes. My schedule is blocked out for my morning classes, lunch, and then three hours of strict homework time. I surprised myself with how productive I have been recently. Thursday was a struggle, though, since I didn’t sleep well. I tried and tried to focus in my homework block, but I was simply too tired. Thursday turned into a nap and mental health day for me. I pushed myself during the rest of the week, and I thought I was alright with the quarantine. I discovered I need to structure my night for more relaxation than normal.

I re-downloaded TikTok

If you missed my Lent post, then you may not know I gave up social media for Lent. No Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok. This week I downloaded TikTok, though, out of pure boredom. I watched just about every YouTuber I subscribe to on YouTube try to learn new TikTok dances in their videos. I decided to download the app and allow myself an outlet to be creative or just goofy. I have a timer set, so I don’t sit on it for hours. I haven’t downloaded the other apps onto my phone unless absolutely necessary (i.e. I’m a small group leader for middle school and the weekly large-group teachings are on there.). By the time this post goes up, I will only have about a week left of Lent.

I started a puzzle, read four books, and watched too many TV shows

Before I went into self-quarantine, I picked up two puzzles from work for spring break. I decided to start with the really difficult bookshop puzzle, but I have lost some steam with it. I didn’t realize how large the measurements are for the entire puzzle, so I started putting the puzzle together on my floor. With my bad back, I can’t sit on the floor for extended periods of time like I would enjoy. Perhaps on the weekends, I will put more of the puzzle together.

When I visited my sister for spring break (pre-“safer at home” orders), I read three books while in self-quarantine. I shared those reviews on Goodreads (and one here). I just finished reading A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews aka Cait from PaperFury (recommended as part of my ’12 Book Recs from 12 Friends’). I devoured that book in a matter of days. I cried at the beginning, the middle, and the end. I really wanted some vegan cake. I can’t believe it took me so long to read that book. 10/10 recommend!

For the past two years, I have fallen behind in watching so many shows. Well, last Saturday I watched half a season of This Is Us. The combination of a comfy bed, rainy outdoors, and a cry-worthy show made the entire day escape me. I also started watching New Girl for the first time. I am weirdly invested in that show now.

Let me know what you’re doing in quarantine! Any recommendations for what I should do next? Also, let me know if you want more posts about how I created my weekly schedule, reviews, etc.

Stay safe and healthy! Be mindful of those around you.



march 2020 thrift shop haul


I love spending free time wandering through local thrift shops and discovering new treasures. For the past month, I have had a few pieces in my head when searching: a new winter jacket and a jean jacket. I finally found them along with a few other pieces.

So here’s a quick look at my recent thrift finds:

jean jacket: $4.49

Goodwill was having a sale on all winter jackets AND the tag color was half off, so I actually got this jacket for 75% off the thrift shop price. I was even more ecstatic when I looked up the brand and found a similar jacket by this brand being sold for over $100!

winter jacket: $7.49

I am quite literally in love with this jacket! My other winter jacket is now over three years old and has tears around the cuffs and bottom hem. I only recently discovered a small tear by the hood which I will fix with fabric glue in this jacket. This jacket was too cute to pass up!

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan: $2.49

I could not believe my eyes when I saw a hardcover of Immortal Beloved in Goodwill! I read this book back in 2012, but I fell in love with this trilogy. I will definitely be needing to reread this book since I have it on my shelves now.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares: $6.99

I went to a different Goodwill about 30 minutes away from my house, and I found THIS GEM! For anyone who doesn’t know, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series actually has five books. This is the fifth book! I easily find the first four books in just about every thrift shop, but I recently resolved myself to never being able to find the last book. A few squeals may have come out when I snatched this one off the shelf. The stickers were a little tough to get off, but a damp paper towel and a few minutes later… voila! A sticker-free cover!

Rachael Ray cookbook: $2.49

Rachael Ray was the cook of my childhood and my role model. I learned how to cook from my parents with her 30-Minute Meals for Kids cookbook, and I watched all her shows on Food Network. When I find her cookbooks in thrift stores, I almost always buy them. This one just so happened to have a half-off color tag. And yes, it did come with a jacket, but I enjoy seeing cookbooks without them.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare: $4.99

Clockwork Angel hardcover by Cassandra Clare

I already own the entire Infernal Devices trilogy, but I had Clockwork Angel in paperback from when my parents first bought me the book. The rest of my books are hardcovers, so I screamed in excitement to see a hardcover of Clockwork Angel for half off and in great condition! I had to swap out my editions, so now this gorgeous trilogy all matches.

100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs: $2.49

100 Days to Brave devotional by Annie F. Downs

Annie’s podcast is one of my favorites, especially her enneagram books. I always keep my eye open for this book when I go to a thrift store, but I have never seen one before! My plan is to dive into this book after Lent since I’m in a few different plans right now. I can’t wait!

thrifting total: $31.49 price tag

Which section do you always check when going to a thrift store? Any great finds? Let me know in the comments if you would love to see more thrift hauls this year!



Guest Post: 5 Ways to Celebrate Singles’ Awareness Day!


Today is a very special day because my best friend Hannah Marie is visiting the blog today! She is here to share some secrets about the best way to celebrate being single on Singles’ Awareness Day, aka February 15. And guess what: it doesn’t have to be SAD! Enjoy.



Hey, everyone! So it seems that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and now we are left with the next best thing: Singles Awareness Day (aka discounted chocolate day)!

Many people look at being single as a bad thing—like some kind of terrible disease that no one wants to catch—but some of us savvy, single people know better. Singlehood is something that you can thoroughly enjoy, and today, I’m going to let you in on my top-secret singles-only blueprint to having an amazing Valentine’s Weekend, or any other weekend (even without a significant other).

So without further ado, here are 5 super fun activities you can enjoy 100% on your own!!

1) Cook Yummy Treats

There are so many cute treats on Pinterest, it would be a mistake to not try to make them! Or, if you’re not much of a sweets person, you could even pick out a nice, yummy dinner recipe to spoil yourself a bit.

So many people don’t think about this, but cooking at home can be an awesome way to practice self-care. We put a lot of emphasis on food being a communal thing, but good food is something that can be enjoyed alone too! Talking the time and effort required to cook a delicious meal is one of the best ways to show yourself some love. True, it might be easier to grab fast-food, but at the end of the day, eating is an experience, and cooking the food you eat can be a very special part of taking care of yourself.

2) Have a Spa-Night

Sometimes you just need a spa-night to make your day better! Go to the store (or online) and pick out some new face masks, bath bombs, nail polish, etc… Or you can even search Pinterest for some easy, homemade spa-treatments. Whatever you do though, go crazy with it! The goal is to make yourself feel completely pampered.

  • Do your usual skincare regime
  • Use pore strips
  • Put on a face mask
  • Run a bubble-bath & toss in a bath-bomb (extra points if there’s glitter!)
  • After you wash your hair, do a hair mask or a deep conditioning treatment
  • Turn on a soft, relaxing playlist while you soak in the tub
  • OR you can rewatch your favorite episode of your favorite sitcom
  • Exfoliate and shave
  • Dry off and moisturize
  • Paint your nails your favorite shade
  • Wrap yourself in your favorite pajamas OR a silky/fuzzy robe
  • Extra points again if you have fuzzy slippers or socks!

Spa days are great because it is a way for you to show your body some love. Especially after a busy week. Remember to take care of yourself every day, not just on “special” days.

3) Watch a Rom-Com

There’s nothing like curling up on the couch and binge-watching your favorite romantic comedies. And with streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, you have hundreds to choose from! Or, if you don’t have these services, you can always find good, half-priced movies at Half-Price books.

(… but if you have Netflix, I highly recommend To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before + the brand new sequel, P.S. I Still Love You)

Watching movies like this can be really good because it lets you be able to simply enjoy something without thinking too hard about it. It gives your brain a bit of a break and (hopefully) makes you smile!

4) Explore Your Nearest City

If you need to get out of the house, I’ve got an activity for that too! When I need a day out, I’ve found that I enjoy exploring my nearest city. I pick out an outfit that is comfortable but also makes me feel super cute and confident, and then I just start walking/driving.

You’d be surprised how many little places you will discover if take the time to slow down and find them. By driving through towns without stopping, you often miss all the little antique shops, coffee shops, and local businesses that your city has to offer. So take a moment to slow down and truly explore. Who knows? You may even discover your new favorite hangout place!

5) Try Something Completely New

This one might feel a little intimidating at first, but I can almost guarantee that you will be glad you did it. Many times we are unwilling to put ourselves out there and try something new (for instance, a dance class!) because we feel like we have to have a partner or someone there with us.

But let me tell you, trying new things, making memories, and collecting new experiences should not be hindered because you don’t have your best friend with you or because you’re a “Single Pringle.” Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is a sure way to grow and become a stronger, more well-rounded person. So instead of waiting on a partner, get out there and try that thing you’ve always been wanting to try!

I use Facebook to find local events to attend and have found some real gems because I was willing to try.

  • Join a dance class
  • Take a crafting class (sewing, knitting, baking, etc…)
  • Go to a local open-mic night
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter
  • Join a book club (local libraries often have these)
  • Attend a trivia night
  • Go to a concert

There are so many more amazing things you can do as a single person that can be just as fun and fulfilling as they would be with a significant other, but you have to have the right mindset for it. Allowing yourself to be open to being your own friend takes time and can be difficult. However, once you start the journey, you will learn so many things about yourself and learn to enjoy your own company. Being single doesn’t have to be sad and miserable. It can actually be one of the most special times of your life.
Just start small… and push yourself a little more each day.

Hannah Marie is a 20-something college lifestyle blogger who has an affinity for hot tea, gentle music, and blush pink. She can often be found hiding behind the enormous stack of books she needs to read for school, where she is most likely scribbling poetry or editing her novel. You can follow her on her Blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Wattpad (and most other social media platforms).

how to write a letter to your friend when you don’t know what to say


Did you know February 7 is National Write a Letter to Your Friend Day? Well, I wanted to help prepare you to get that letter in the mail for the friends you may see every day or just once a year. As an adult, I tend to only receive bills and junk mail, but my day brightens when I get a letter from a friend. Sending a letter doesn’t have to be anything extravagant or expensive. In fact, I love sending letters to the friends I get see every day and week just to give a little more intention into our friendships!

one: get your hands on a card

If you are a busy person, like me, then I definitely recommend taking just a few minutes in the card aisle at the store to pick a card that has some special meaning. I find that a card that has an inside joke attached to it even if the purpose is completely unrelated to anything they’re currently doing in their lives can make their day. For example, one of my friends and I have a joke about her and avocados, so I love to find any punny avocado cards for her. But a simple ‘Thank You’ card for their friendship would be appreciated, too.

If you have a bit more time, then I recommend crafting a card! The card doesn’t need to be anything extravagant. I recommend checking out Pinterest for some fun card ideas. (While you’re there, make sure to give me a follow!) Pinterest is my hub for all things crafty, but I know they have some super simple card ideas, too.

two: write a sentence or two!

I love to write just a few sentences to either encourage my friends, reassure them, or just thank them for their friendship. Typical messages could say:

“I am so glad you’re my friend! See you soon.”

“Love you! I can’t wait to see what the year holds.”

“Hope you have a good week!”

Literally, you can write anything and your friends will love it. I find that sending my friends a letter instead of a text is ten times better. The letter usually takes a day or two for my friends to receive, so just knowing that I sent them without their knowledge is the best.

three: add a little something

This step is completely optional, but you could add in a little fun surprise, too! I have an overabundance of stickers, so I love to give stickers to my friends. You could add in a $5 gift card, confetti/glitter, or even a little paper heart with a sweet message.

And that’s how easy it is! Writing letters takes just a few minutes each week to give your friends some extra love.

What’s your favorite thing to get in the mail? Do you like to write letters? Let me know in the comments!



how to spend less money on textbooks (and a free spreadsheet template!)


Today I wanted to share something I have been perfecting for the three years I’ve attended college. The biggest struggle as a college student is always finding the best price for textbooks. I literally have spent hours before toggling between tabs trying to remember which site had the best price. Anyone else? Well, I have created a spreadsheet that I’ve used for two semesters now and love.

I’ve split the spreadsheet up into sections:

  • Class
  • Textbook Title
  • ISBN

  • University
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Amazon
  • Chegg

  • Final Costs

The first three sections (Class, Textbook Title, ISBN) are all one color to differentiate from the store costs. I find that keeping track of which books go with which classes also help me once the semester starts, so I remember to bring the right books to class. I add in the ISBN code with the book’s title since many professors require to have a specific version of a book, especially if you’re an English student.

The next four sections (University, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Chegg) are all places where I shop for textbooks. You can easily change these depending on where you shop by changing the titles. Under these sections I divided them into the four main criteria associated with purchasing textbooks: “Buy New”, “Buy Used”, “Rent New”, and “Rent Used”. By the end of the semester, I always forget where I got which books and whether or not they were rentals. Being able to refer back to this spreadsheet has been a lifesaver for me.

The final section (Final Costs) is the most important to pay attention to when you’re entering your prices from the stores. I have coded the spreadsheet for each row to automatically choose the lowest price from the textbook’s row which also gets calculated for a final total at the bottom of the column. I added instructions to the spreadsheet for if you are to add additional rows for more textbooks or classes, so this final section calculates correctly. Having this estimated total actually saved me from accidentally buying a duplicate textbook since I noticed the total seemed off in the website’s final total.

This spreadsheet does all the work for me! I copy the ISBN code into each site’s search bar, enter the totals, and add the cheapest one to my cart. Looking for textbooks takes less than an hour now instead of multiple hours adding to the stress of starting a new semester.

Click the picture below to be taken to the Google spreadsheet:

You will be able to make a copy or download the spreadsheet for you to edit to your specific preferences. I hope this helps you when you’re searching for textbooks this semester!

One final tip: I have found using Honey, a built-in browser coupon search engine, also helps me find coupon codes for free shipping or textbook specials right before I check out. For example, it saved me $20 extra with shipping from Chegg this semester where I was already saving money simply by having it connected to my browser. I clicked the little ‘h’ in the corner, and it does all the searching for me. 10/10 recommend!

Do you enjoy the beginning of a new semester? What stresses you out the most about a college semester? Let me know in the comments!



Ten Years From Now… my bucket list for the decade


With everyone looking back at the start of 2020, I want to look forward. The past few years I have been reflecting within myself and around myself, so I had a lot of intentional growth. The next decade is surely going to be a crazy ride full of change, and I wanted to give you a glimpse of all that is to come!

start my teaching career

This is a pretty easy bucket list item to accomplish. In 2021, I will start the year off with student teaching. Hopefully by the end I will have started my first job as a teacher. I have no idea what 2020 will hold for me, let alone what 2021 will push me to accomplish. Prepare for many quarter-life crisis posts.

move into a house

I don’t see myself moving into a house any time soon, but I’m shooting to cover the entire decade here. I hope by the time I turn 30 I will be able to afford a house. Whether I’m married or not, having a home is a goal of mine just to have a permanent place to call my own. I will definitely be living in apartments before owning a house, but I can’t wait to have a few interior decorating sessions with my friends on our crazy Friday nights.

adopt/rescue a dog (or two)

One of the biggest struggles of moving out will be having to leave my parents’ dogs behind. I love them so much. My family have had pets since before I was born. I can’t imagine living without some sort of animal to keep me company. As soon as I have a semi-permanent place, I can definitely see myself adopting at least one dog asap.

travel outside the United States

In reality, I will probably just end up traveling to Canada to accomplish this bucket list item. I don’t even have a passport right now, though, so I have a few obstacles to tackle before traveling anywhere. The US by itself is huge, but I have so many places outside the US I want to travel to before I have children, too. (I’m such a cliche, I know.)

pay off private loans and majority of federal student loans

I have a few plans right now for paying off some of my federal loans, but the private loan just keeps floating around in the air above my head. I definitely would not suggest taking out private loans simply because of the immense financial pressure placed on you immediately while in college. If you ever feel the need to take out a private loan in order to go to college, I would suggest trying to find a more local college or an alternative option. But I hope by the end of the decade, I can have most of my debt paid off with a solid start into planning for the future.

buy a car

I definitely see myself purchasing a car within the next five years since I plan on moving out of my parents’ house and potentially further away. While I love my SUV, I think I will end up in a smaller car (I see you, Prius.) with better gas mileage and emissions.

monetize the blog

This has been a dream of mine for a while, but I want to enjoy building my blog in the next few years before transitioning. I follow many bloggers who never had a thought of monetizing, but there are others who make a living off of their blog. I would like to have a secondary income, especially as a teacher, to help me build a savings as I head later into life.

write a novel

Gah! I make this a goal for every year, but I just want to actually write one before the end of the decade. Maybe this will mean breaking down and doing NaNoWriMo one November or maybe I will randomly get a burst of motivation to actually write during a random summer month. Listen, you are more likely to know than I do.

have a husband (or a long-term boyfriend)

With all the self-improvement and recognition of my flaws I have done in the past few years since college started, I finally feel in a place where I can give myself time to date. This just may be the only bucket list item that I can’t actually control. But, oh man, I need that so badly. I need to open myself to not being able to control everything in my life. (But that’s for another day.) I want to be able to make a new relationship with someone else and experience life with them.

be known for my faith and kindness

These two items (faith and kindness) are some of my biggest struggles. I have gotten better with focusing on delving into my faith, but I have a million more miles to cover before I have even a slight grasp on Jesus. As for kindness, well, that’s just something I work on 24/7. I like to always think of the legacy I will leave behind wherever I go, and these two qualities are what I want people to connect to me when they say my name.

Do you have any goals for the decade? For the year? Let me know in the comments!



Follow me on my socials!

I finished semester five… now what?


This is going to be a quick post from me today, but I wanted to give you all a quick life update. I just finished up my fifth semester in college, and life is only going to get more stressful from here.

If you are new to the blog, I am an education major studying to be a teacher for first through eighth grade students. Starting next semester, I am going to be starting a lot of my methods courses, which are courses where I actually learn how to teach specific subjects. All my prior semesters have been filled with child development, general education, and English classes. I have two more semesters to complete before I begin my student teaching semester.

All of this build-up has caused me a lot of stress because I have been dreaming of becoming a teacher since kindergarten. Now, I can literally feel my lifelong dream becoming a reality which is a scary thought when you don’t have much else planned for beyond that dream. For me, 2020 is going to be all about planning.

As an enneagram one, I absolutely love having things planned out and ready to be checked off my list. But with graduating college comes a lot of uncertainty. Even trying to prepare for student teaching and passing licensure tests has a lot of uncertainty. This upcoming week, I am actually taking one of two tests that I will need in order to become a licensed teacher in the state of Wisconsin. I put a lot of money into this, and I can only hope that I pass.

Back to 2020, though: I will be focusing intently on my finances and preparing for my future. I hope to get a secured job while in my student teaching semester and be financially secure post-graduation. I also know the next two years of my life will be entirely in God’s hands. Never before have I had to completely trust in God as much as I have to now.

I know this post seems kind of random and rambly, but I wanted to explain why I have not been able to post for blogmas as much this week. I have been preparing for the FORT test and hope to be able to fully relax for a few weeks before 2020 planning begins.



my evolving gym mindset

Welcome home!

I have not written a blog post in a hot second because of school’s workload. All of September’s posts came pre-scheduled from the first week, and I just allowed myself to sit back and relax. Now that we’ve hit October, however, I have fallen behind in many of the tasks I know I should do on a regular basis: writing blog posts, creating Instagram posts, and going to the gym.

If you couldn’t tell from the title of this post, I wanted to discuss how I feel about the gym. Most people would agree with me that I don’t particularly enjoy the act of going to the gym. After two weeks off from working out, I dragged myself out of bed and down the stairs to go to the gym on Monday morning. Mondays are rough to begin with, but add in going to the gym? The pits. (If I didn’t have my workout leggings on from sleeping in them, I probably wouldn’t have gone.)

But I did go the gym. I sat in my car for twenty minutes before going, but I went. As soon as I stepped through the doors, I resolved myself to the treadmill. Treadmills for some might mean running full force and trying to push themselves further than they went last time. Since I hadn’t been to the gym in two weeks (or even worked out), I gave myself the excuse to just walk for thirty minutes and then leave.

But then I stepped on the treadmill. I increased the incline and started at a 3.0 speed of walking. After five minutes, something in me pushed myself to start running at 5.0 speed. (I really enjoy those whole numbers if you couldn’t tell.) I knew I had to push myself past my normal boundaries. Those past two weeks didn’t mean anything when I had gone for two weeks before three times a week with completing high-intensity workouts designed by Tanner Hobbs. (Check out Chasing Freedom Fighters here.) I ran for a full minute, which feels amazing when you don’t enjoy running, and did it again after the first time. I did interval running for fifteen minutes.

But then I stepped off the treadmill to strength train. I am intimidated by using weights. But I used them. I am nowhere near the confidence to do deadlifts or anything with huge weights and all that. Perhaps one day, but Monday was not that day. When I was doing my strength training, though, the rest of the gym zoned out. I stared into literal space across the track surrounding the upper-level of the gym, and I tuned into the current podcast (Jordan Lee Dooley’s SHE podcast) playing through my earbuds.

But then my mind stepped in. I became aware of how badly my muscles burned with each weighted arm lift. This is the part where my relationship with working out usually stops. With Tanner’s workout program, she tells how many repetitions you should do each movement. I could hear my mind telling me to stop arguing with my inner critic (shout out to my fellow Enneagram One’s understanding this) to keep going. Usually I stop when I feel the burn. This past Monday, though, I kept going.

This is what I want to tell you all: keep going. I still didn’t do all the reps, but I surprised myself by pushing through one more than I thought I could do. With the final cycle, I actually completed two more than I thought possible. My body is a work in progress, but the extra pushes I gave myself push my progress to a point I never thought possible at the beginning of the year. It’s like the Starbucks rewards app with the checkpoints: each point you push yourself past will give you something a little extra and better than the last checkpoint. I could keep pushing myself to the same checkpoint, but I will never be able to get the better reward.

Maybe this gym revelation post is rambly or doesn’t make sense to you. Maybe my revelation is nothing new to you. My hope is that I can look back at this post and see how this moment can push me to continue going to the gym despite having a load of homework waiting for me afterwards or start a yoga session in the middle of a high-stress week. This hope is what made me write this post. This hope of a healthier and more fulfilling future is what gets me in and out of the gym.

And today? The day after (writing this on a Tuesday) going to the gym? I looked in the mirror and loved what I saw. Not because I worked out or started to lose weight. No, I loved myself because I persevered and worked hard to get where I am today. I overcame my mind (a difficult task as a One) and all the thoughts racing around the track.