As I mentioned in my last post I want to get more regular, themed posts going on this site to just practice with that kind of thing. Don’t take anything in here too seriously as it’s just an experiment. Do let me know what you think though!
The idea behind Focus Friday is to post a list of the books, products, movies, music, and on and on that influenced me the most over the last week. I suppose it is common practice to state that I am not affiliated with anything I recommend (I doubt they even know who I am!) and just wanted to let people know what I use to make my days and weeks the best they can be. Since this is my first list it’s going to cover more than just a week… it’ll go back til about mid-November when I would say I started taking life more seriously. Some of the things have already been mentioned in other posts; I just wanted a singular list to collect everything together. So without further ado…
- Down Dog by Yoga Buddhi – I have used about a half dozen yoga apps in the past and this one is sticking. It’s very professionally done and has a wide range of poses so that every session is a little different. You can customize your session from time length to what part of the body you want to work on… I do hamstring opening a lot because I’ve taken up running and it greatly reduces recovery time. In the two weeks I’ve been using it there’s been a noticeable difference in my balance and core strength. I’m able to hold positions far longer than I was initially. As with all high-quality fitness apps there is a subscription cost but to me it’s worth it
- Headspace – Headspace is famous… most of you have probably already heard of it. I’ve had an affair with Headspace off and on for several years but this time it’s become a habit. I’ve made meditation a part of my morning routine and have not missed a day for 16 days. Prior to Headspace I was using a free meditation app (the name escapes me) which was okay for getting into the swing of things but wasn’t very consistent and seemed a little too… shall we say metaphysical… for me.
- C25K – Better known as Couch to 5K, this is the app that got me started on my training for a 5K in April. I’ve since moved on to a training session that works through my Garmin watch but that doesn’t mean C25K isn’t an awesome app! The basic version (all you need, really) is free with ads. The training plan is very simple and easy for beginners. The first week is 8 splits of 1.5 minutes of walking and 1 minute of jogging. Doable for most people. When I started my Garmin training program and it said to do 3 splits of 7 minute runs I about had a heart attack.
- SCRIBD – Scribd changed my life, plain and simple. Not only am I able to listen to audiobooks at work to continue my personal development journey while mindlessly writing appointment letters, it also makes me more productive because I tune out all of the miserable old women I work with, haha. In all seriousness, they have a vast library of both audiobooks and print books (even cookbooks!) for the price of a Netflix subscription. Unlike Audible, your subscription fee includes all of the books; you never have to buy any of them. Audible definitely has a bigger library but there are more books on Scribd than I could ever read / listen to in my lifetime anyway.
- The Headspace Guide to Mindfulness and Meditation by Andy Puddicombe – It probably makes sense that I’m reading this at the same time that I’ve begun meditating regularly. It’s of course written by Andy Puddicombe, the voice and mind behind the Headspace app. The book offers insights and tips for incorporating mindfulness into your daily life. The app mentions a few of these, for 30 seconds a day, but the book goes into much greater detail. I’m not sure I’d still be meditating without the tips in this book.
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – This book is an in depth look at the science behind habit which also comes with some practical insights into how we can change our own habits for the better. From alcoholism to shopping at Target, this book has several case studies to give a good, basic understanding of how our brains form habits (and in some cases, how people exploit them).
- You are a Badass by Jen Sincero – While reading this I got the distinct impression that it was written for women but everything in it applies to any gender. I started reading this right at the beginning of my whole “reinvention” and it definitely helped propel me to where I am today. Without it, I don’t think I’d have consciously focused on staying positive and optimistic 24/7 as much as I have. Believe me, I have been a hard-core pessimist my whole life and this book changed me.
- Unf**k Yourself by Gary John Bishop – I read this at the same time as You are a Badass and although they both have similar end-goals, they are almost diametrically opposed in how they approach them. I think that reading two books with somewhat opposing opinions can be a great way to figure out what you really believe. Unfuck Yourself is more about taking personal ownership of your life and having a sense of responsibility for everything that happens to you whereas Badass is about self love and care. Both are valuable viewpoints and I’ve incorporated a bit of each into my life.
GADGETS AND GIZMOS
- Garmin Vivoactive 3 – Thanks to the wonders of the Kohl’s charge card and a generous $50 gift card I got for my birthday in September (and forgot about until December) I finally picked up a Garmin smart watch. These are mainly geared towards running so if you’re looking for something to send texts on and use apps with, stick with the Apple watch (might get one of those too for the non-running hours). I’ve had a Fitbit in the past and the Garmin seems more accurate. The phone app also has customized training programs, one of which I’m using, for running. It does allow you to read texts but you can only reply with yes or no. I’m fine with that as I prefer not to text. It also measures heart rate and stress which I don’t use as much as I could.
- Optima Nuforce BE Sport 4 – My favorite purchase of the last year, I FINALLY got some wireless bluetooth headphones. These were rated the best on a few websites I looked on and they didn’t disappoint. They come with several different sizes of earbuds and wings to keep them in place and they don’t even come close to falling out while I’m running. My last pair of headphones were so loose they were a constant distraction. The sound quality is also phenomenal for the price.
- Google Pixel 2 – It might be strange to review my smartphone on this list but hey, why not? I’ve actually gotten two phones in the last 6 months. The first was a Samsung Galaxy S9 and boy oh boy was it trash. Not only does it come loaded to the gills with useless bloatware, it never stayed paired to my car stereo, crashed at least once a day, and had a button to bring up Samsung’s garbage personal assistant conveniently (not) located right where your finger would always accidentally push it. The Pixel 2 is better in every possible way. The camera is the best camera I’ve ever owned either on a phone or as a standalone, it comes preloaded with nothing but the essentials, never has trouble pairing with any of my devices, I could go on. This is the best phone I’ve ever owned.
(note: music is a huge passion of mine and as such my tastes are extremely varied. There’s gonna be some weird stuff here from time to time. Just go with it.)
- Ghost – Prequelle – I’m an occasional fan of blackmetal and while Ghost is anything but, they have similar sensibilities. I’d call them a satanic Queensryche although the “satanic” bit is mostly tongue-in-cheek. That won’t be much consolation to my devout Christian readers but it is what it is. They have a pretty varied sound, traversing heavy metal to indie / folk rock and a very theatrical sound and look. They’d be a perfect soundtrack to a Rocky Horror Picture Show sequel.
- Gunship – Gunship – This isn’t one of my favorite albums but it has two of my favorite songs on it: The Mountain and Tech Noir. Gunship were one of the first in line in the fairly recent 80’s soundtrack revival genre of Synthwave. If you love 80’s synthesizers, Casio drumbeats, and lyrics about the future as we saw it in 1982, Gunship is perfect for you.
- Gogol Bordello – Super Taranta! – An oldie but a huge favorite of mine. Every track on this album brings up a memory for me. If you’ve never heard their self-labeled “gypsy punk” before, picture a raucous mix of polka and early punk rock. It truly is one of the greatest sounds on Earth.
I think that’s good enough for my first list! Again these are all provided just as ideas for people looking for recommendations. You might not have a lifestyle anything like mine and thus none of these will apply. In the future I hope to include more variety but I didn’t want to go too long with this one and these are just the things that immediately stick out to me. I promise I don’t only read personal development books. 😉