Monthly Archives: May 2016

Pre-Memorial Day BBQ (or Making Drunk Fruit)

This past weekend, my friends Marie and Chris hosted their Memorial Day party. It was actually on Sunday (so everyone with Monday off could sleep in after being at the party late) but since Mondays are always my day off not matter what, that worked for me.

I had made drunk fruit for 4th of July last year, but made a big mistake in making it. I forgot the margarita mix and all the liquid the fruit soaked in was tequila. So the fruit was a bit too strong then for some people. This year, I decided to find margarita mix that already had the tequila in it, so I couldn’t repeat the mistake. Fortunately, I found some at the grocery store when I went to find watermelon and strawberries so my dish for the party was easy enough to make.

Drunk Fruit

I had leftover margarita mix, so I brought that with me too. And I had drained the margarita mix the fruit was soaking with and that was another drink for the party (that ended up being one of the most delicious drinks!). And since I wanted any kids at the party to be able to enjoy the fruit too, I had some “sober” fruit with me as well.

The party was a pretty classic Marie and Chris party. Most of us were hanging out in the backyard just having fun chatting and being silly. Some people were playing ping-pong or board games, but I pretty much stuck outside talking to my friends who I hadn’t seen since the last Marie and Chris party.

I really enjoyed myself. I did eat a bit too much (and felt that the next morning), but there was so much good food! Of course there were hamburgers and hot dogs but there was also macaroni salad, veggies, grilled corn, banana bread, and chips and dips. I’ve been good with my food lately and I know that sometimes you just can’t focus on eating the right things or the right portions. Hopefully with eating ok the rest of this week I will get back on the track I was with my food. I didn’t end up drinking, but I’m not a huge drinker so having water was perfectly fine with me.

Most of the time I was just hanging out at a table outside chatting with my friends. We got into some really intense debates about politics and healthcare, but it’s because we are such great friends that we can have heated debates and still be cool with each other afterward. And I love that we are all passionate about what we were debating about and everyone was respecting other’s viewpoints even if they differed from their own. That’s a rarity these days so I know how lucky we are that we can have those discussions.

And of course we talked theme parks too. I want to go back to Universal Studios before my pass is blacked out for the summer, so we were trying to figure out when we might be able to do that. And my friend Caroline and I are overdue for another Disneyland adventure so we were trying to compare calendars to figure out when we could both go. I think we are going to be able to make it sometime this summer, but it might have to wait until the fall because we both don’t want to deal with the summer crowds when kids are out of school. I’ve got a bit of time before my Disneyland pass is blacked out too, so I’m hoping we can make it to the parks soon for another fun afternoon!

The thing I love about these parties the most is just the love that is there. I’ve known a lot of those friends since I was 18 so I have known them close to half of my life now. I joke with Marie that she is my college buddy because I was in college when I met her (she loves that because it’s just silly). They’ve all seen me grow up, and I’ve seen many of them get married and have babies (there were so many babies at the party!). I know that I deserve to have friends like this, but sometimes I just have to sit back and be so grateful that they became my friends when I was an annoying underage kid at the theater we all performed at. Most people in their 20’s and 30’s don’t want to befriend an 18-year-old (especially since after shows they loved to hang out at bars and I was underage). But I just happened to get in with the right people who didn’t care that I was the baby of the group.

I stayed at this party later than I do for most of the parties, but I did have to get home early enough since I had my workout the next morning. I think I left around 11pm, so the first part of the party was winding down by then. But the second half of the party that is a lot of the karaoke and jam sessions hadn’t started yet (I’m pretty much never there for that part of the party). But I was there for about 7 hours, so I felt like I had a lot of quality time with my friends and I’m excited for the other upcoming summer parties! I think there might be one each month this summer!

Major Progress (or I Can Run!)

This past week might not have been my best week of workouts, but it was the best one in my mind. I had so much progress that week that I can’t believe it, and I’m terrified that somehow this week won’t be as good. But I’m going to try my absolute best to make sure that I keep making these giant steps forward!

Monday was a pretty typically workout. We had a mile by mile challenge which meant we did a mile on the treadmill and a mile on the rower (split into 4 parts). Since I’m a power walker, my treadmill segments were all .125 miles (instead of .25 miles) so I knew they would all be pretty fast. I was able to do all my treadmill segments at 3.7 miles an hour and at 6% incline, which is usually the speed I use for my all-outs. All of my rows were pretty fast too and I was able to keep them at about a minute or under. The floor work was a lot of lower body work, but I was able to use some good-sized weights like 20 pounds for squats and my upper body work with the pullovers was using the 25 pound weight (only one weight in my hands for that one). I was pretty happy with that workout especially with my treadmill times, but I had no idea how amazing the rest of the week was going to be.

Wednesday was a power day where we didn’t switch between blocks. During the 3 treadmill blocks, 2 of them were the same format. We had 5 minutes of work where it was 30 seconds of all-out and then 30 seconds of walking recovery repeated 5 times. The first time we had that 5 minute block, I worked on increasing my speed each time. I started at 3.6 miles an hour and worked my way up to 3.9 miles an hour by the 4th all-out. But on the 5th all-out of the block, I decided to run.

I’ve done basically no running in the last decade or more. I’ve been warned by hip surgeons that high impact stuff isn’t the best for me, but I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care anymore. I know that I will need double hip replacements in my life. My original surgeon was so sure that by this point in my life I would have needed at least one of them done. But I haven’t and from my last set of x-rays, I’m actually looking better than I did a year ago. If I’m going to have to have the replacements done no matter what, I might as well use my hips now before they get replaced. They are going to be replaced if I push myself or if I just sit on my butt. So I’ve decided to push myself.

So for that last 30 second all-out, I ran at 4.5 miles an hour. It felt so good to do that and my hips didn’t really hurt at all (the bottom of my feet did a bit, but that’s totally different). I was feeling so amazing after those 30 seconds that I decided to push myself even more on the next 5 minute block like that. For all 5 all-outs, I ran at 4.5 miles an hour! I had a tough time with my walking recovery and I sometimes had to jump the rails of the treadmill to catch my breath, but I did it! I was on such a high from actually running that the rest of the workout kind of was a blur for me. We had some sprint rows for 150 and 200 meters and some squats and lunges. The lunges were a bit tough for me because my legs were feeling a bit wobbly, but I was still not in any extra pain in my hips because of the running! This was seriously such a huge step for me because I had believed for so long that I would feel the pain I had felt before surgery when I tried to run. I never thought that it wouldn’t hurt me any more than walking does!

Friday I was still on a high from running, and I had another great opportunity to test it out! We did a 12 minute challenge on the treadmill for distance. Our coach, Bruce, was going to call out when to be at a push pace versus at a base pace during those 12 minutes, but we could also follow our own plan. Most of the time, I follow the coach. But I was on a mission and I knew I had to do my own thing. For the first 11 minutes of the challenge, I followed the same pattern: I ran at 4.5 miles an hour for 30 seconds and then I walked at 3.5 miles an hour for a minute to recover. I was feeling pretty awesome through most of those first 11 minutes. I occasionally had to jump on the rails to catch my breath, but it wasn’t because of any pain issues. I just have to work up my cardiovascular strength. After those first 11 minutes, I had a minute of walking to do if I followed my original plan. But instead, I walked for 30 seconds and then finished up with 30 seconds of running! This was the most running I’ve done in over a decade and it felt so freeing! I was exhausted after those 12 minutes, but I had gone farther in those 12 minutes than I had in a 13 minute challenge earlier this year!

12 Minutes Treadmill

For the rest of the treadmill time on Friday, I just did walking. Running is so new to me so I have to take it easy and I didn’t want to overdo things. On the floor, we had a bit of rowing (between 200-400 meters) and a lot of arms and chest work. For my arms I was using 20 pounds and for my chest I was using 25 pounds. My heart rate was staying pretty high during the weights, but I know that it was because of the running. I’m hoping my body can adjust soon enough to get back to a lower heart rate, but this is so new and my body needs time to get used to it.

On Saturday I tried to take things a bit easier. We had 2 blocks on cardio and then switched to the floor, and for my cardio I was on the bike. That’s my standard 4th workout of the week plan and I know my legs and hips needed a bit of a break from the running and walking. My heart rate stayed a little lower than I would have liked, but it was also a recovery day for me so that is to be expected.

Once we switched to the floor, the first block was a lot of upper body work. We did chest flies, squats with bicep curls, and triceps presses. I was working mainly with 20 or 15 pound weights (I tried to do as many bicep curls as I could at 20 pounds, but I had to finish my reps with 15 pounds each time). The second block was a lot of core work including work on the straps. We had single arm rows and rollouts on the straps and then finished our block with some crunches.

After we all completed those 4 blocks, we got back together for a partner challenge. Because of the number of people in class, I ended up being without a partner, but for this challenge it actually worked out ok. Basically, we were split between the treadmill and the rower and we went for 90 seconds. Then the teams with partners switched spots and the goal was to see how many meters between the 2 partners you could get on the rower. I wasn’t able to see how many meters I got because the rower reset for me while I wasn’t on it, but that’s ok. For the first treadmill round, I went back to the bike until I realized how short the treadmill blocks would be. So for the second and third round I was on the treadmill. For the second round, it was a 60 second push and a 30 second all-out. I did my push at 3.5 miles an hour and 6% incline and for the all-out I ran at 4.5 miles an hour. And the final round was 30 seconds of a push and 30 seconds of an all-out and I decided to see if I could run for an entire minute. So I was at 4.5 miles an hour (2% incline since runners didn’t have to have incline) for an entire minute! I can’t remember the last time I ran for an entire minute (easily over a decade ago) and it was amazing!

Over the weekend, I didn’t have any extra pain in my hips from the running. My quads were a bit sore, but that could have been from other work too. I’m not sure how I’ll keep up the plan to try to do a bit of running during each workout. This past week just worked out really nicely for me to bring a bit of running back and I want to see how much I can do. I have no plans to try to run my next 5K (which is about 5 months away), but if I can run/walk it that would be incredible! I could easily get a new PR if I did that. Hopefully I can find a great way to add bits of running into my treadmill workouts from now on and this momentum will just keep moving forward!

Dog DNA Test (or Tucker Is A Real Mix!)

A little while ago, I had won a dog DNA test from a contest online. I mentioned to my parents I had won it, but I forgot about it for a while. But finally, a package arrived at my dog with the Wisdom Panel test! I shipped it off to my parents so they could test Tucker!

I had been saying for years that I wanted to do a DNA test on our dogs. The dog my family had while I was growing up, Rascal, was a purebred Carin Terrier (we got the papers saying that when we adopted her) so she was never a mystery to us. But when we got Dante, we only knew about his mom (she was a German Shepherd/Border Collie mix). We never knew what his dad was but since he looked pretty much like a German Shepherd and Border Collie, we just said that was what he was. I wanted to get him DNA tested, but it wasn’t cheap to do and my parents didn’t want to waste the money.

When we got Tucker, the only information the foster mom knew about him (and his brother Chaucer) was that the mom was a Shepherd mix. Since the dogs were rescued from a dog hoarder, there was no way to find out what dog was the dad. And we don’t know if anyone knew more about his mom either.

Again, I started to bug my parents to get him DNA tested. They didn’t want to because they didn’t want to find out something scary about his breed mix and they thought it was still an expensive thing to do. Every so often, I’d say we should do the dog DNA testing and every time my parents would say they don’t need to do it.

So when I won the test, I was so happy! Finally we could find out what breeds Tucker is a mix of! According to my parents, it was a pretty easy test to do. They just had to swab his cheek and then put it into a container and ship it to Wisdom Panel. The results are supposed to come back within 3 weeks, but we got ours back much soon!

DNA Results

While Wisdom Panel tests for about 200 breeds, sometimes they can’t figure out exactly what breeds are in a mix. That’s why you see the “Mixed Breed” on one side. But I love that we got a breakdown for his parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents!

We are assuming that the side with all the breeds figured out is his mom’s side since that is the side with the Shepherd on it. We had all assumed for a while that Tucker was a Shepherd/Lab mix, but we didn’t know what else he could be. We had been making random guesses for a while, but none of us were right!

Now looking at the DNA test, I never would have guessed Rottweiler or Boxer but it totally makes sense looking at him. He’s got the Rottweiler head and a Boxer smile. Not sure what dog breed has the giant teeth he has, but I think his big teeth are a charming part of his smile.

Tucker Smile

I don’t know where the Akita part of him is, but I totally can see how Chaucer was part Akita with how he was just a huge bundle of fluff! And none of the breeds in his mix are dogs with long legs, but in his mix breeds that couldn’t be determined there are some dogs with long legs (like Poodles and Weimaraner). And Tucker’s got some of the longest legs of any dog I’ve ever seen and he can get into the weirdest positions with them.

Long Legs Tucker

No matter what breeds the dog DNA test was going to come back with, that can’t change the total lovable goofball that Tucker is. No background on him can change his personality, but it is really fun to know what breeds his mix is. Also, my parents can finally give better answers when they get stopped on walks or hikes and people want to know what type of dog he is (that happens all the time).

While the DNA test was a lot of fun, I’m glad I won it so we could test Tucker. And after I won the test, I looked it up to see how much it would have cost to buy it. It turns out it’s not too expensive! On Amazon, you can get it for about $70. So if you’ve got a mixed breed dog that you’d like to find out their heritage, I highly recommend getting the test and seeing what the results are!

BTW, I was not paid by Wisdom Panel for this review. I randomly won the test and was so happy about what we found out that I wanted to share it with you all. My review is all of my opinion and I was not influenced in any way to write my review.

Missed Milestone (or 1,009 Posts!)

When I wrote my 900th post, I mentioned how the next milestone was going to be a huge one. And I really did view my 1,000 post to be a big milestone and I was super excited to get there. A few months ago, someone asked me when I would get to my 1,000th post and I checked and saw it was still a bit away. I was excited that it was coming up, but I didn’t focus too much on it because it was not coming up too soon. But perhaps I should have looked at my numbers more carefully because I realized this week that I actually had my 1,000th post almost 2 weeks ago!

Missed Milestone

My 1,000th post was the one about the cast and crew read through for the short film I’ll be starring in, so at least I had written about something fun! But I still feel really dumb for forgetting to remember a milestone that I had been looking forward to for so long! I hadn’t had a big blog post figured out for my 1,000th (I’m sure I would have figured out something if I planned in advance), but I would have loved to acknowledge it on the day that post went live. But instead, I’m doing that now on my 1,009th post!

Maybe me forgetting about this is a sign that writing this blog has just become almost like a habit for me. I don’t pay attention to how many posts I’ve written (or how many more I will write) and just enjoy writing on here and sharing whatever things are happening in my life. Sometimes I have fun things to share, sometimes I have massive writer’s block and I feel bad I’ve got nothing to tell you all. But sharing the truth in my life has just become normal to me and I think if I was forced to stop blogging for some reason that I would feel a huge hole in my life.

I’ve seen a bunch of articles lately about how right now there are too many bloggers out there, nobody is making money off of their blog, and eventually people are going to stop reading blogs. That’s fine with me. I’ve never made a penny with this blog (I would love to eventually, but I haven’t yet). While it’s been a while since I’ve had a day without readers, I would still write this blog even if nobody looked at it. I’ve said this so many times before, but this blog has become the therapy for me that I never knew I needed. It’s also become a memory book and there are times that I search my own blog to find out what date I had done something or gone to a certain event. I like that I have this record of this time in my life and hopefully I will be able to keep things up for many years to come.

I know I’ve said this before, but when I started this I thought that maybe my family and a couple of friends would read this. While a lot of people who read my blog are people who know me in real life too, I’ve met new people though the blog as well! It’s opened up new social circles and groups that have introduced some of the most amazing and incredible people to me. I’ve had opportunities that I don’t think I could have gotten without having this blog and I’m so grateful for everything that has come my way because of these 1,009 posts. I never would have imagined when I wrote my very first post that staying consistent with my writing and working hard at it would get me to this point. I honestly started the blog because a friend told me I should do it, so I jumped in without really thinking what I would do.

I have no clue what my next milestone post will be. I don’t think I’ll be thinking each 100 posts is a milestone and I don’t know if I would want to wait until my 2,000th post either. My blog anniversary is coming up soon and that will always be something to celebrate. But since this is really just a daily part of my life, I’m not sure if I want to celebrate every step since it is just my life and not anything extraordinary to me anymore.

But for now, here’s to 1,009 posts and the journey that I’ve been on and that you have all followed me on! Who knows where I will be when my 2,018th post comes out? I can’t wait to see!

Home Cooking (or Getting Into A Routine)

I haven’t really written about food on here lately. Meals used to stress me out so much and I knew I needed to work on it. So many nights I would either forget to go to the store to get groceries or got home so late that I was too lazy to cook. So I’d order delivery food or get some take out from a quick service type place. I know that I wasted a bunch of money (and ate a bunch of calories that I didn’t need) doing that, but I just couldn’t get into cooking.

I tried cooking a bunch of different times and different ways. I thought meal planning would work for me, but I ended up losing inspiration or not feel like eating what I was supposed to eat that night. Bulk cooking worked for a bit, but I got really bored with it and if I didn’t have time to bulk cook I couldn’t seem to get back on track. I would hear about what other people would do, and it would seem so simple. But for so many reasons I just couldn’t get into cooking. A lot of it does have to do with the amount of work and cleanup required to make a meal for just me, but that really is laziness.

I knew something needed to change and I set my monthly challenge in March to be to not get delivery food for the entire month. The last time that I ordered delivery food was actually in the middle of February and I’m happy to say that I haven’t gotten delivery food since. I have gone out of dinners and I’ve gotten take out from places like Chipotle or a salad place, but since delivery food was the bad habit I wanted to break I’m pretty happy that it’s been this long since I’ve gotten it. There have been a few times where I’m feeling super lazy and think it would just be so easy to order something in, but I have been working really hard at keeping easy to put together foods or ok frozen dinners at my house for those nights. While frozen dinners aren’t the best option, they are significantly better than anything I could get delivered to me.

My cooking hasn’t been anything too crazy. Most of my dinners have been a turkey burger and some veggies like broccoli or sweet potatoes.

Healthy Dinner

If I start cooking the potato in the microwave and finish it in the toaster oven, I can put that meal together in less than 20 minutes. I also do make more recipe type dinners from time to time. A lot of time I make meatloaf because it’s pretty basic to put together. The last time I made it, I did about half meat and half chopped veggies so it made a lot of meatloaf for not as many calories.


I make meatloaf in muffin tins so it’s easy to portion out and put some aside for leftovers for the next day or so. After the prep work, there’s not that much cleanup since the muffin tin is a disposable one. So I’m usually able to clean up while the meatloaf is in the oven and I don’t have to worry about cleaning up after I’m done with dinner.

I have no clue what really got me to cook more often. Nothing really has changed in my life, it just happened. But I think a lot of things in my life have happened that way. I would have been trying to kick a habit that I didn’t like for years (like chewing gum or drinking soda) and then one day it stops and I don’t really think about it. I don’t missing chewing gum at all, but there are the rare occasional times that I do miss soda. Fortunately, that craving goes away pretty quickly so I’ve been soda free for several years now.

The same thing happened with cooking. I was trying to force the change to become a home cook for a long time. And while I would get into a habit of it for a bit, it never stuck. This time, it just feels natural and right for some reason so I don’t see any reason for me to stop. I do still have so many changes that need to be made about my food habits, but I’m so glad that I’ve been able to make this change now and hopefully other changes will fall in line too.

A Night At A Screening (or Forgetting What Non-Screenings Are Like)

Last week I got an invitation through Women In Film to attend a screening of “Neighbors 2”. I had seen the first movie and I thought that the second one would be fun to check out. I wasn’t planning on going to the movies to see the movie (I try not to spend money on movies unless they are really the type of movie that needs to be seen on a big screen), so I was pretty excited for the invite to the screening!

The different screenings I get invited to all have their own personalities. The SAG-AFTRA Film Society screenings are pretty much always at the DGA theater and they are the type of screenings that you have to show up early for to make sure you can get in to the theater. There is no food or drink allowed inside of the theater and pretty much everyone stays until the end of the credits (it’s actually in the rules that you are supposed to stay until then). Most of the SAG Awards screenings are like this too. You go to a screening house and line up to get in. They are private events so they are almost always actors.

Women In Film doesn’t always do screening like that. Sometimes they are private events, but they also sometimes are with other organizations too. When I saw “The Theory Of Everything”, that was the fanciest screening I’ve been to. And when I went to see “Miss You Already” it was a screening with other groups, but somehow it ended up being more like a private screening with the crew and a couple of other people (I was one of the random other people there).

I’m aware that I’m probably spoiled with the screenings. Not only does it allow me to see more movies than most people go out to see, but the environment that I see the movies in is very different from what it’s like at a normal movie theater. Most of the time, nobody is allowed to eat or drink so I don’t have to worry about weird smells (I once sat next to someone in a movie theater who ate a tuna sandwich during the movie and the smell was pretty overbearing) or the noise of people eating. Also, at screenings it’s extremely rare to see a cell phone out. Not only are the people at the screening usually too into the movie to look at their phone, but since some screenings are advance screenings you can be kicked out if security sees the light of a cell phone during the movie (security will be standing all around the theater just watching for that cell phone glow). Seeing movies in screenings has fortunately become my norm and I’m so grateful for that. So when I see a screening that isn’t what I expect, it throws me off.

The screening for “Neighbors 2” was held at a movie theater at The Grove, and when my friend and I lined up to go inside we noticed that it appeared that the screening was not just Women In Film but a couple of different groups attending the movie. We got our tickets and got some popcorn (we had gotten dinner at The Grove before the screening) and walking into the theater.


As soon as we walked inside, I was shocked about how crowded the theater was. We had gotten inside about an hour before the screening and a lot of the seats were already taken (or saved by people putting their coats or purses on them). Also, at the front of the theater there was a DJ, a step and repeat, and a bunch of people there. Turns out, this screening was also sponsored by a local radio station (I think they might have given away tickets to the screening as well). Before the movie started, there was very loud music from the DJ and people climbing over seats to get to the front to play some games to try to win a free poster or frisbee.

Once the movie started, there were a couple of people talking around us and eating loudly (we may have been guilty of eating loudly too since we had popcorn). And I saw a couple of people trying to secretly text or check their phones during the movie even though we had been warned that if you were caught with a phone on that you would be kicked out. I really wanted to shush the people who wouldn’t stop talking during the movie, but I tried to ignore it and enjoy watching it. But this was all a reminder of how spoiled I have gotten with the screenings I’ve been to.

The crowd and the noise didn’t ruin the movie for me at all, but it was a bit distracting. Overall, I enjoyed “Neighbors 2”, but I wished they had focused more on the parents instead of the college students (I definitely identify more with the parents). It was pretty funny and I think my friend and I both had a pretty good time at the movie.

Pushing Myself (or So Many Hills!)

This past week of workouts seemed to all be strength days (or at least partially strength days). I know that Orangetheory mixes things up, but I really did hit the strength days only! Strength days are days where you are supposed to be heavier on the weights on the floor and during cardio you do inclines. Since power walkers always do inclines for push paces and all-outs, strength days are days I try to push my inclines higher (like you are supposed to) and I always seem to struggle with that. So I’m guessing somehow I needed this week of strength workouts to test myself to my limits!

Monday was not just a strength day, but we didn’t switch between blocks so I was on the treadmill for 30 minutes straight. I managed to do my hills at between 6-10% even though I know I was supposed to do some at 12 and 15%. I used to be able to do those inclines without any issues, and it does make me sad that I’m still not back to where I used to be (and there’s a chance I might never be able to do those higher inclines again). When we don’t switch between blocks, my body is pretty exhausted by the end of the cardio. So by the end of things, I was doing my base, push, and all-out paces at the same incline and just bumping up the speed .1 mph for each of them. I was supposed to up my inclines, but I just wasn’t able to do it.

On the floor, it was very legs focused. We had lots of lunges and squats which are getting better for me. My lunges are still difficult with balance issues, but my form is significantly better. And my squats are much easier and I’m getting closer and closer to being able to use heavier weights while doing them. The only problem I’m having is that my arms aren’t strong enough to hold those weights. I’m struggling a bit with my grasp with the 25 pound weights and that’s with using workout gloves. I’m not sure how to strengthen my arms, wrists, and hands to be ready to hold heavier weights so I’m open to any suggestions.

On Wednesday, it was an endurance, strength, and power day that also happened to be a run/row day. But it still felt like strength only because during the run/row we were doing all inclines. All the rows were 250 meters and I managed to get faster each time I did the row (which is not normal for me). My best row was 250 meters in 57.4 seconds, which isn’t that bad at all! I’m pretty happy I got that row done in under a minute at the end of the cardio block! For the treadmill, we had progressively increasing inclines but decreasing distances. I did .4 miles at 6% incline and 3.5 mph, .2 miles at 8% incline and 3.6 mph, and .1 miles at 10% incline and 3.7 mph. The fact that I’m doing 10% inclines is good because for a long time the highest I could go was 8%. I’m really trying to focus on that improvement versus the improvement I would still need to make to be back to where I was almost a year ago.

On the floor on Wednesday, it was a lot of arm work. I was doing my chest flys at 20 pounds (chest flys are harder than chest presses which I can do at 25 pounds). For my squats I was holding a 25 pound weight and was able to use that same weight for my triceps work too. We also had some planks and pop jacks, and both of those I was able to do on my toes (versus my knees).

Friday was another all strength day. There were 6 blocks total (3 on cardio and 3 on floor) but we did do a switch in the middle. We did 2 short cardio blocks first, then switched to do 2 short floor blocks. Then we went back to do the long cardio block (11 minutes long) and the finished with the long floor block. I was so happy for the switch because it did give my hips and legs some time to rest before the long block. For one of the short cardio blocks, we worked our way down the hill. I started at 10% incline and every 30 seconds we went down 1%. I did that entire thing at 3.5 mph and it didn’t feel too fast for me at any of the inclines. On the long 11 minute block, we worked our way up the hill and my inclines ranged from 6-10% incline. For the last all-out I really wanted to see if I could go higher than 10%, but I was too tired to try it in the end and I’m sure it’s for the best since I don’t want to try a high incline when I’m tired (and my walking form is sloppy).

For the floor on Friday we did all abs for one of the short blocks and while I could do most of the ab work, there was one thing that was about moving our legs that my hips just weren’t going to do. So I did some basic crunches during that time. For the other blocks, they seemed to focus on arms again. We did a couple of rows on the straps and then did chest presses and bicep curls (I did both at 20 pounds instead of 25 because I was dealing with some weird pain on my chest from sleeping weirdly).

Even though this was a 3 workout week, I think I pushed myself pretty hard during all 3 workouts. I pushed myself for some heavier weights when possible, pushed myself for faster rows, and pushed myself for higher inclines. I know that soon I’ll be at whatever the next level is for me in my workouts, but with all the hard work I’ve been putting in it’s tough not to be a little impatient and want to see that improvement now.

Hoping To Fix My Computer (or Can The New MacBook Pros Please Come Out Soon?)

This is totally not the post I was planning on writing for today. I’ll write about what I was going to write about next week, but today’s post is all about my computer frustrations.

My laptop is my life. I run multiple jobs off of it, I run my blog off of it, and I do most of my online work on it. It’s really that important to me and I need it to work the way it should work. I understand I do a ton of multi-tasking (when I’m working I must have about a dozen windows open), but it should work just fine. But my laptop is also 6 years old. That’s not a horribly old laptop, but when you do as much work on it as I do every year counts. I try to stretch the lifespan of my technology as long as I can, but there are limits.

Over a year ago, I ran out of storage on my laptop. The new models have a baseline of twice the storage I have now, so clearly I don’t have that much space on my computer. I’ve gotten rid of as much as I can (all my old blog posts that are freelance articles are deleted and no movies are actually stored on my laptop), but I’m still down to less than 10GB of storage left. I’ve tried to find more and more to delete, but I’m pretty limited in what I can get rid of and still be able to work.

I also can’t upgrade my operating system because of the lack of storage, so not everything is running as smoothly as it should. My computer can be very slow and laggy at times, especially while I working. It’s so annoying to always have to tell customers on the phone that they have to hold while a website loads on my computer.

Obviously, the clear answer to my problems is to get a new laptop. And that’s totally my plan. I have enough money for a new one (thanks to all the money I saved for my taxes that I didn’t end up needing) and I pretty much know exactly what I’m going to get. I want another MacBook Pro and I’ll be upgrading the storage and memory (which will be quadruple what I have now) so the new laptop lasts me at least another 6 years.

The only problem is that the most recent MacBook Pro was released about a year ago. They are no longer current machines and a new one is supposed to be released really soon. But really soon is a pretty open-ended phrase. I thought they would be released before the holidays last year. Then I thought they’d be released in April. Now the rumor is they will be released in June.

I don’t know how much longer I can wait on getting a new laptop. My current one with no storage is getting to the point where it isn’t very functional for me. It would be a perfect machine for someone who doesn’t have several thousand photos that they keep on it. And I’m hoping a friend will buy the old machine from me when I get the new one because it really is a great laptop for someone who doesn’t have the same storage needs as me.

But for now, I’m dealing with a pretty glitchy set up. And last night, because somehow 4,000 of my photos disappeared, I spent my night watching my computer restore itself to an old backup in the hopes that whatever happened will be fixed.

Computer Restore

I will probably be jumping for joy the day the new MacBook Pros are announced and will be ordering one the second I’m able to. I can’t wait to be impressed by how much better a new computer will be for me!

Hanging Out With Unite For Strength (or Talking About The Union)

Remember how the other day I blogged about skipping a couple of actor events? I definitely made up for it over this past weekend! Not only did I have the Netflix event on Saturday, there was a fun get together with fellow actors who also were part of the Unite For Strength slate when we had the SAG-AFTRA elections last summer!

Technically after the SAG-AFTRA convention my work as a delegate was done. I can try to join different committees and I can be as involved in various events as I’d like (just like any other SAG-AFTRA member), but there are no other responsibilities as a delegate other than to represent my fellow actors at the convention and to vote on different things at the convention with their best interest in mind.

Since my delegate work was done, I’m so glad that this gathering was organized for us to see each other again and to discuss recent or upcoming union issues. It was held at the house of one of the actors who ran on the Unite For Strength slate and it was pretty casual. There was a ton of food (I feel bad that I didn’t bring anything with me) and it almost felt more like a reunion than anything else. Most of the people there were people I hadn’t seen since the convention because I have not been as active in the union as I was hoping to be so far.

We’ve had a lot of things happening in SAG-AFTRA lately. One of the biggest, and saddest, things that has happened since the convention was the passing of Ken Howard who was the SAG-AFTRA President. It was a big blow to all actors when Ken passed away. He was an amazing advocate for actors and he was one actors who helped to get the merger of the unions to happen. I know that we all miss him and while we know that the new president, Gabrielle Carteris, will do an amazing job we all wish that he was able to complete the term he was elected into.

On a happier note, the union is celebrating the very recent passing of the new commercials contract. This contract will give us raises in our work and will also help to protect us as actors in the new landscape of commercials. Since there are digital commercials (like what you see on YouTube or Hulu) plus ads through social media (like twitter and Facebook), we need to have policies in place for those and this new contract is getting that started. The new contact was passed by over 92% of those who voted, but we are all a little saddened that only 13% of those who could vote did so. We were trying to share ideas of how to encourage our fellow actors to vote because I feel like more actors should be voting on major issues like new contracts.

Along with the commercial contract, we also were discussing the Best In The Biz campaign that SAG-AFTRA has to help organize commercials to get them organized as union contracts. When I was non-union, there were quite a few non-union commercials, but now it seems like non-union commercials are a bigger percentage of commercials than ever. Non-union commercials can pay actors whatever they want and don’t have to follow the same rules as far as how long they can run the commercials or residuals.

I did a non-union commercial back in 2007, and it’s actually still running now. When I did that commercial, I made $500 for the day (which I was so happy about) and didn’t think about it. But since it was non-union, I haven’t gotten any residuals for the 9 years it has run so far and I have no idea how long they will continue to run it. And while it’s on the air, it’s considered a conflict for any products that might be a competitor. I didn’t realize what I had done when I did that commercial, but that’s why I’m so passionate about getting commercials organized to be union and not non-union. I don’t want to see other actors get into deals like I had and aren’t making what is fair for that job. Major multi-million dollar corporations are doing non-union commercials and there is no reason for them to not be union.

There is also currently a campaign to get Spanish-language jobs to be union so those actors get the same pay and benefits as the actors who work on English-language jobs. I don’t know too much about this situation, but I agree that all actors should be equal under contracts. You shouldn’t be paid less (or not get eligibility for union benefits like health insurance and pension) because a show is in Spanish and not English within the same studio system.

The last thing I got to hear about was the new opportunities that there are for union actors to volunteer within the MOVE (Members Organizing Volunteer Efforts) program. I have signed up to be a part of MOVE and I do get the emails about the various events. So far, they have been when I couldn’t attend. But I’m really hoping to be able to join something soon. Just this past weekend, they helped the post office sort donations that were given during the Stamp-Out Hunger drive where people in LA left canned goods in a paper bag for their postal carrier to take. I wanted to help, but I had the Netflix event at lunchtime and then I had to go straight from that to a babysitting job. But they have other programs like the Senior Buddies and attending various charity walks that I think I might be able to do at some point this year.

I’m hoping that we can have another hangout like this in the near future. It’s a great way for me to stay informed about what is happening in SAG-AFTRA and then I can share that knowledge with others. There’s always a ton happening in the union (and we get a lot of emails every day), so I know that people might miss things from time to time. I want to continue to be a leader for others within the union and to help promote events and issues that I think other actors need to be aware of or to take action upon.

Netflix Luncheon (or Rebels and Rule Breakers)

Through both SAG-AFTRA and WIF I got email invites for an event that Netflix was hosting this past weekend that featured the women of Netflix shows. The event was a luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire hotel and since the luncheon technically didn’t start until noon, I figured I should accept the invite because my work shift would be ending at 11am that day (I don’t miss work to attend events so I do miss out on a bunch).

There was free valet for attendees at the hotel, but it was so packed that it almost took me 30 minutes to get into the valet area and get out of my car! Fortunately, the pre-reception was still going on when I arrived so I checked in at the front, got my table number, and headed inside the room where the event was.

Netflix Event Beverly Wilshire

I had never been inside the Beverly Wilshire before, so I was so impressed by the space and the set up in the room. There was a bar for drinks, but I ended up spending my time before the luncheon started looking for friends of mine. Fortunately, since there were invites from a couple of different organizations I ended up knowing quite a few people there. Most of them were people I knew from the SAG-AFTRA convention because they were there representing the union at the luncheon.

At noon we were instructed to go to our tables and sit down so the presentation and lunch could start. At each of our seats, we had a card that on one side had the people who would be speaking and on the other side the menu of the lunch.

Netflix Speakers Neflix Menu

I knew who would be there speaking ahead of time because it was on the invite for the event, but I was still so excited to hear everyone speak. The panel was done in 2 segments and each woman there shared a bit of her story and a bit about how she feels about being a rebel. Being a rebel in the entertainment industry can mean so many things, and each of them had such a wonderful viewpoint. I loved hearing about how women are afraid not to be polite so they don’t try for things or ask things that might be a bit bold. While women shouldn’t worry about always being polite, there’s no need to not be gracious. Being polite and gracious are different things, and I never thought about that.

I’ve always been scared to not be polite, so this was really hitting home for me. I know I’ve been paid less than my co-workers because I didn’t want to see rude or pushy to ask for a raise. I’ve been treated badly at day jobs because I didn’t want to make a fuss and tell HR that I’m being harassed. I’ve tolerated guys saying pretty bad things to be because I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t being nice because I’ve heard far too many stories of women being shot or attacked by men after they reject them (because to some men, rejection is rude and women shouldn’t do it).

I had already been making strides to being more bold in the past. More recently, I’ve been very outspoken about friends that I’ve wanted to work on projects with. The short film I’ll be starring in soon is because on a phone call with my friend Christopher I said that I was mad that he and I hadn’t worked on a project yet. He said he didn’t have anything that fit me, but next thing I knew our short film was written and now we are in pre-production. I’m going to be in another short film this year because when a friend mentioned that they were working on getting it to pre-production I asked what part there is for me. That isn’t the nicest way to ask, but it was effective and I’ll be playing a small part in that film now.

This entire luncheon was so empowering and really got me thinking about how I need to work on finding the balance between being polite (which is what I’ve been told I have to be) and being pushy (which is what I need to be to help further my career). I don’t have the answer on what that balance should be, but honestly I hadn’t been working hard enough in the past on this to make it work for me. I’m so inspired by what all these women said at this luncheon. I know that if I make a couple of small changes in how I interact with others (and how I network) that it can be a huge impact in the auditions I’m getting and the parts that are being offered to me.

The panel part of the luncheon was only about an hour or so long and after it was done we all were told to head back up to where the pre-reception was for desserts and drinks. I was able to find more of my friends at that point and I think all of us were equally inspired by what we heard (both men and women were at the event and I only heard very positive things from everyone).

We know that diversity is more than just women, but getting more women filmmakers and having women’s stories told in film and tv is important. Just this week, a pilot for a new tv show was rejected because it skewed too female. That’s is horrible. I’ve never heard of a pilot being rejected because it was too male. There’s also all the hatred that I don’t understand toward the all-female “Ghostbusters” movie. Some people don’t think that women need to look up to other women or are complaining that men have nobody to relate to in that movie (there are male characters and if they have to watch an all-male cast they can watch the original movie). And some people think that while women will watch shows about men, men won’t watch them about women. This has been proven wrong by movies like “Bridesmaids” that have been big successes.

These are all attitudes that need to change in order for more women to be writing projects, directing projects, and playing characters that are no just the girlfriend or the pretty one to look at. I feel like this change has started, but there are so many voices speaking negatively regarding gender diversity in film and tv (who want to keep it male centric) and I hope that those people will see that putting more women in front or behind the camera will not diminish men but will in fact create more projects that everyone can be in.