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The new year has been off to a fantastic start! I can’t believe it’s only been a month because of how much I’ve accomplished over the past few weeks. If you’re along for the ride on this month’s update, buckle in–it’s been a month of big changes!

I’ll break down this first part of the update into the 2017 goals I have started to accomplish.

Goal: Overall fitness

In my journal, I have a list of specific goals related to fitness, such as being able to touch my toes, building my upper body strength, and being able to run a half marathon without being bedridden for days afterward. (See: Star Wars Half Marathon. That post downplayed the injuries I got when I attempted this last year.)

Though I started to work on this goal in late November, it wasn’t until this month that I somehow seamlessly started incorporating exercise into my daily routine. I think that I’ve been able to stick to it so easily because it’s become a huge de-stressing activity, and I truly look forward to getting home each day so I can start my workout. I’ve been spending about an hour and a half each day on a combination of running, yoga, the elliptical in my apartment complex’s gym, and home workout videos.

Goal: Zero waste

I’ve always been an obsessive recycler, and the main reason I stick to veganism is for the environment, so working on reducing my waste even further seems the next logical step. There’s a lot of evidence of environmental damage because of all the plastic and other resources we burn through and then discard without second thought, so I’m trying to be more conscious of the trash that I produce.

So far, I’ve started to make sure that when I go shopping, I am only buying things with either no packaging at all (shout-out to the Celebration Farmer’s Market!) or packaging that is 100% recyclable.

Another big change that I’ve made is that instead of burning through a carton of coconut milk each week, I’ve been buying oats in bulk and making my own oat milk. I love making new discoveries in the kitchen, so I’m thrilled that I discovered how easy it is to make my own milk.

Goal: New experiences

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I mentioned this goal in last month’s update, and I’m happy to say that January brought several departures from my typical routine. The first weekend of the month found me road tripping to the Florida Keys.

Another weekend saw me hosting my grandparents, who came up to go to the Morse Museum with me (which is a place that has been high on my list ever since I read a book about Louis Comfort Tiffany more than a year ago). It was the first time they’ve ever stayed overnight with me, and it made me really glad that I’ve worked my way to a point in life where they could stay over and nobody had to sleep on an air mattress!

Goal: Enjoy my independence

After telling me all about her past marriages, the sweet old lady who was notarizing my half of the divorce paperwork gave me a stern look as she finished stamping the last page. “Never forget to enjoy your independence,” she told me. “You have a whole life ahead of you.”

In this new stage of my life, I’m taking that to heart. I’ve always been a loner (which makes it surprising that this relationship lasted almost 4 years–we definitely had a good run), and I’m really enjoying being on my own again. I’m already planning some trips for my spring and summer breaks, and I’m really excited to get back into the swing of solo travel!

What I’ve Been Reading

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Peony in Love by Lisa See: I love Lisa See, and she is definitely one of the main reasons I’ve taken such a big interest in Chinese history. While this book didn’t quite measure up to the others I’ve read by her, I still found it interesting to read a story that illustrated the Chinese belief of the ghost world.

The Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson: This was a children’s graphic novel that I wanted to preview before putting it in my classroom library, and it was a pretty adorable read about imaginative girls at summer camp.

The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian: This was billed as a satirical novel about post-Tiananmen China, but it read like a short story collection, and I never got pulled into it.

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu: Ugh, I hate poetry. Every once in a while, I try to give it another chance, but this did not convert me.

What I’ve Been Listening To

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland: Great memoir by the first African American soloist in the American Ballet Theatre. As if ballet isn’t hard enough, this book relayed the challenges of navigating the virtually all-white world of ballet as an outsider.

Aftermath by Chuck Wendig: This was a poorly-written sci-fi book that is part of the Star Wars universe. The audiobook format made up for the bad writing, however, as it had the same sound effects and music that can be found in the movies.

On Gold Mountain by Lisa See: A well-researched tale of See’s family history, this book was truly amazing after having read so much of See’s fiction; so many of the stories from See’s family tree were recognizable as scenes from her novels.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan: Enjoyed this story about the Chinese immigrant experience. And the movie adaptation moved straight to the top of my list once I found out Ming-Na Wen is in it!

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami: I absolutely love Murakami, but I had no idea he was a runner until listening to this great memoir about his running life. Very motivational to listen to during a workout or run.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: People in the book community seem to consider “rich people problems” books to be their own genre, and I’ve never been interested in reading about rich people making dumb decisions with their money. Until now. I’ve read a lot about the Asian experience but never with a focus on the top 1%. It was a lot of fun to read about these extravagant characters jetting between Indonesia and Singapore and Hong Kong on their private planes.

Train’s new album, A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat: I don’t usually listen to music, but Train is one of the very few exceptions. Their album came out at the end of the month, and I’ve been hooked.

What I’ve Been Watching

Nothing more than the aforementioned home workout videos!

On the Blog

Love, Elizabeth