fun

The Book Learning Podcast!

I am beyond thrilled to introduce: The Book Learning Podcast with Steph (that’s me!) and Gabrielle (my good friend from the interwebs!).

I’m so incredibly excited to finally share this project with you. It’s been simmering for months now, while we worked out the details – and there were a lot of details. My to-do list for the podcast, if I wrote it all out now, would overwhelm me beyond words. But luckily we just took it one step at a time, and are still sort of muddling through. The most important thing, though, is that it’s launched! Boom. Bam! Out into the world goes my incessant giggling and Gabrielle’s awesome work ethic, and our baby of a podcast.

Watch the video above or here + listen to/download the podcast here!

I’m anticipating some questions. Let me head them off here!

What is the podcast about? 

Gabrielle and I are both amateur writers, with 16 novels collectively under our belts (it’s a skewed distribution..one of us has 15 of those, and it ain’t me). We realized that we wanted to get to know each other better, share our writing/reading tips with each other and the world, and discuss our favourite (slightly nerdy) topics to our heart’s content. If you’re like-minded, tune in!

Can you give me some specs about the podcast?

The first episode is 40 minutes, and it was a length that felt natural. You can probably expect future episodes to be about the same length. We plan to podcast roughly once at week. We record our podcasts through the Google+ service, Hangouts on Air. That means that they’re live while we record! In future, we may even alert you to when we record, so you can stream it live if you so choose. After recording in a video format, we pull the audio directly from the video and convert it to mp3. Then it becomes a magical podcast! So you can watch or listen to the format of your choice: the video and audio versions have identical content.

Why should I listen to your podcast?

Well, because it’s awesome! And this is the first episode, so it can only improve with time. We have a lot of fun ideas for upcoming podcasts, including but not limited to:

  • How we feel about books being adapted into movies
  • Self-publishing
  • Writing schedules
  • Our favourite books
  • Where we get inspiration
  • How to successfully complete National Novel Writing Month
  • Being professionally critiqued
  • Handling rejection
  • And so many more! (Listen to the podcast for a few more)

What you can expect from the podcast is a light, fun conversation between two young writers who love to write and read, but don’t take themselves too seriously. Become friends with us!

What is the first episode about? I don’t have time to listen right now, but I want to get excited for when I can listen to it later!

The first episode introduces the podcast and the podcasters (that’s us!). We talk about how we “met”, and how we hope the podcast will make us better friends. We also tell the stories of writing our first novels! Then we discuss what we’re currently reading. That’s the short version, for the long version you’ll just have to listen to the podcast!

Share + Rate + Comment + Suggest!

As we try to get this podcast off the ground and up into the air, we need all the help we can get. We would be so appreciative for your feedback: any and all of it! Leave comments here, under the youtube video, at my email, on iTunes, wherever! Rate us on iTunes! Share the podcast with your friends using that beautiful thing called social media! Suggest topics for upcoming podcasts, or make suggestions about books we should read, or ask us questions. I can’t tell you how excited we would be to hear from you. I’m serious. I’m talking to you.

And last but not least: thank you to everyone who has already been supportive of this project, before they’d even heard it. You know who you are, and I love y’all so much. Thank you for the excitement and support. Keep it up!

xo, Steph.


How To Survive Exam Season, Part 3

Here’s part 1 and part 2!

Photo thanks to WeHeartIt

It’s that time of year again folks: the blasted exam crunch time. Previously, I’ve written about how to stay physically healthy and how to find the study system that works for you. This year’s edition is more focused on mental health and stress-reduction strategies. Intrigued? Read on!

I find that this time of year requires a lot of discipline, focus, and motivation. Those things aren’t always easy to find, especially not when you also feel frazzled, stressed, and probably lonely. But finding time for fun activities can be so insanely hard, especially when you always have this looming dark cloud hanging over you, telling you “YOU SHOULD BE STUDYING RIGHT NOW”. How oppressive! I’m sure a lot of you are nodding in agreement – there’s always this sense of obligation or duty to be studying, and even taking an hour to catch up with someone at Starbucks feels very wrong.

The more we’re isolated, the more awful we feel; but the more we take time off from studying, the guiltier we feel. Stress central! Here are some of the strategies I’ve been exploring to stay sane this exam season.

Summer Bucket List

A couple weeks ago, I wrote down some of my thoughts on summer – some of the things I hope to experience before a chill sets into the air again and I’m back off to school. Today, I want to solidify my summer bucket list to ensure that despite my full-time job, I still live my summer to the fullest! Life’s good in the summer, and I don’t want to miss a thing. Here’s my summer to-do list!

  1. Have a picnic
  2. Go to the closest amusement park – July 20
  3. Spend a day at the beach
  4. Buy fresh produce at the local farmer’s market – July 4
  5. Take a hot yoga class – June 17
  6. Go for a motorcycle ride – June 29
  7. Attend a music festival – Montreal International Jazz Festival: June 25-July 4 (attended ~5 performances)
  8. Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo
  9. Throw a BBQ
  10. Practice my Spanish on BBC Languages
  11. Cook fresh lobster – July 10
  12. Take a cooking or a dancing class

Ooh I’m getting excited just writing it all down. So far this summer, I’ve already had so many amazing experiences: drinks at a live jazz club, long talks in an abandoned gazebo, reading on park benches, being showered by love by an outdoor tabby cat, poker nights with doors and windows wide open, fresh pie at midnight on an outdoor patio.. it’s been absolutely wonderful. I’ve been working hard, making friends, practicing my French (I speak exclusively French at work!) and enjoying the beautiful weather. I can’t wait to get the keys to my adorable new apartment and start making myself a home. So many exciting things to look forward to!

Tell me, what’s on your summer bucket list? Have you already had some amazing summer experiences? Let me know!

Beat the Back-to-School Blahs

Photo thanks to bofh

So. You had a long, luxurious break spent gorging yourself on food, friends and free time. You wasted away the days sleeping in, watching movies and making sandwiches, leaving the mess for someone else to clean up. You had a wonderful, lazy, ridiculous few weeks off.

..Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and school has presented itself as an inevitability that you are suddenly dreading with every fiber of your being. You have begun your goodbyes: “Goodbye, social life! Sayonara free time! Adios fun!” and begun your hellos: “Hello boring academic reading! Bonjour exhaustion! Ola junk food!”. Suffice to say you’re probably not feeling great about the coming semester. Visions of sugarplums summer vacation are dancing in your head.

Never fear! Your guide to beating the blahs is here!

1. Make it easier for yourself

Photo thanks to cfetcher

Get organized! Pick up some colourful binders, label them and keep your notes filed away where you can easily find them. If possible, take an interesting, easy course. Re-arrange your schedule so that it fits your life: for example, eliminate early classes. Stock your freezer with quick, easy meals like perogies, lasagna, edamame, pizza, burgers, bagels, frozen dinners, etc. Make it easy for you to eat whole, balanced meals instead of skipping them or ordering food (expensive!). Stock up on essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, toothpaste, etc, so that you don’t have to always be running to the store for more.

Anything that you can do now, up front, to make it easier for yourself in the long run, I encourage you to do! That way, later on, when you’re running out of energy, time, and any essentials, you’ll be grateful to yourself for having cleared away some of the muck and creating a slightly easier existence.

2. Inject fun into your routine

Photo thanks to mlr

Brighten your note-taking with colourful pens and/or paper. Schedule a study/textbook reading/cooking gourmet food date with a friend once a week. Make time for your personal special activities: turn the computer off one hour earlier and spend the time reading, writing, drawing, dreaming. Take the scenic route to class. Create elaborate meals whenever you have time. Dress up for school. Take a bubble bath instead of a shower. Watch part of a movie every time you finish a reading/assignment. Reward yourself for doing annoying tasks (laundry, dishes, toilet-cleaning?) with candy, a magazine, a new eye shadow, etc. Resolve to wind down with a glass of wine once or twice a week. Listen to music while you’re getting ready in the morning.

I know people who say they just don’t have any time for fun. That’s nonsense! As long as you make a small effort in your day to stop and smell the roses & appreciate the little things, you’ll be happy at the end of every day, rather than burnt out and depressed.


3. Fix what’s broken

Photo thanks to daviddoctorrose

Replace that old towel that never dries you off properly. Buy a shoe rack so that it’s easier to find and organize your shoes. Write yourself a reminder to water the plants, take out the garbage, etc, etc. Pick your clothes up off the floor. Move that table that you keep running into. Re-organize your kitchen cabinets so it’s easier to reach the things you use most often. Hang up that picture that’s been leaning against the wall since March. Buy a timer for the oven so that you stop burning things. Re-arrange the furniture so that you feel more zen. Get to class earlier so you don’t get a bad seat.

By ‘broken’ I mean not working. Take a good look at your life, your home, your daily routine, and hone in on the things that annoy you every day. There are most likely several things that bug you on a daily, weekly or occasional basis that only require a few minutes of effort to change. In order to have a successful semester, try tweaking a few things in your life to keep you running smoothly and happily throughout the school year.

4. Make your space beautiful

Photo thanks to missvu

Buy new linens for your bed and make it a cozy, nest-y haven. Keep photos of friends and family around all the time. Clear the clutter off your desk or workspace. Cover the walls with magazine cutouts, photos, murals, collages, artwork. Keep all your favourite things in plain sight. Colour-code your bookshelves. Paint the walls your favourite colours. Hang up a blackboard and write inspirational quotes on it in colourful chalk. Buy scented candles. Have living things: pets, plants, flowers. Always have soft music playing.

Make your house a home, a place where you love to be. Make your bed just for sleeping so that when you cozy down into your fluffy duvet, it feels luxurious and comfy. Light candles, play music, keep beautiful things all around you. When exams roll around, it will be nice to have a special, comfortable place that relaxes and calms you.

5. Cut back on time-wasters

Photo thanks to balakov

 

One of the things I’ve never understood are people who complain and complain about how exhausted, burnt out and stressed they are, who complain about having absolutely no free time, and who spend several hours a day on facebook. Huh? I don’t get it. Unless your desired use of what little free time you have is to creep people on the internet, than this whole statement doesn’t make sense. The sad part is, I know people who say that no, they have no free time and no, time spent on facebook doesn’t count as free time. Wait, what? So they’d rather be doing activities that they actually enjoy, like reading a novel, riding their bike, hanging out with friends? And they can’t do those things because they don’t have time? But they have time to log into facebook for hours at a time? Confusing.

I’m not exactly a saint on the social media front, and I have logged a good chunk of time on facebook, but I would never claim that I had no time for activities I enjoy. I simply chose to spent that free time online instead of engaged in interesting activities. One of my resolutions for the new year is to cut down on time wasters. Force yourself off of facebook, off of twitter, off your blog reader, stop watching tv shows you don’t even enjoy, quit checking your email 340 times a day, and focus. Force yourself to find other ways to spend that time. Force yourself to do a more mindful activity. It won’t be easy, since your brain would initially prefer to be on autopilot skimming through pictures of that weird kid from high school’s family reunion, but your soul will thank you in the end. Pump up the creativity!

And Breathe Deep!

Find joy in the little things. Always plan so that you have something to look forward to. Put in the work every day so you don’t have to cram at the very end. Spend some time every day re-centering yourself, relaxing, and breathing deep. Work hard, play hard, focus in class (my very best advice to myself, it’s the single best way to spend less time reviewing at the end of the course), don’t procrastinate. Make time for the special things. Get enough sleep and good food. Don’t burn yourself out. Smile.

And banish those blahs!

xoxo,


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