Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kindness

Photo: Cassie Ngo
I got this tattoo almost ten years ago, I think. It's gotten harder to read over the years, and I should probably get it touched-up, but it says It takes strength to be gentle and kind. It's a line from the Smiths' song, "I Know It's Over," and regardless of what the rest of the song means, I liked it enough out of context to get it tattooed on my arm, as a daily reminder to myself.

I try to err on the side of kindness whenever I possibly can. (Maybe there's a little Hufflepuff in me after all, I dunno.) I choose kindness whenever I can, sometimes even to my own emotional detriment. I also internalize criticism and blame myself first, rather than unleash on other people. Maybe if I take the brunt of the hurt, then other people won't have to.

I know there are lots of people out there who would not do the same. They will protect their own self-interests and mental images, tooth and nail, and I understand that instinct. They might say that I'm weak, a soft touch, a "bleeding heart."

My heart may bleed, but I can take it. I'm not afraid of my emotions. And I am fortunate (privileged) enough to have access to the space/resources/time that I need for self-care. (I understand that not everyone does.) I'm not weak for caring. I'm not weak for loving. I'm not "soft" because I try to treat others gently when they need me to.

Never, ever mistake someone's kindness for weakness. It's easy as breathing to be apathetic; it takes energy and effort to be hateful; but it takes strength to be gentle and kind.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

100 Days: Learning to change

Okay, but how cute is my donut stamp tho?
30 days have passed of my 100 Day challenge. What have I learned so far?

- My most difficult area was actually sleep. I definitely do not sleep enough.
- I need to not buy Easter candy on sale.
- Giving up soda was not hard, but maybe it's because I've replaced that addiction with sparkling water, because now I drink that constantly.
- I am definitely not drinking 32oz of water straight-up per day, but I drink just about everything else (coffee, tea, sparkling water, protein shakes, etc.) and since I was sick for a few days, I had a lot of soup. That's gotta count for something.
- I didn't meet my workout goal, but I did START working out again, which is better than not working out at all.
- I tried to journal every day, for my own peace of mind, but sometimes I just wasn't into it. But I do pretty much knit or craft in some form every day, and maybe I should just consider that part of my self-care time. I like the idea of guided meditations, but I don't often have those silent moments to myself in this house.

So now... I want to kick it up a notch. Whatever I did this month, even if it wasn't the "right" thing, I did it mindfully and with purpose. (Yes, I ate donuts with purpose!) Now, I want to make sure I'm actually doing the "right" thing more often than not.

- I used to be good at working out consistently, and the way I did that was to schedule them like appointments.
- I have a treadmill now! So I can work out even if I can't/don't want to leave the house. I also have yoga dvds.
- I'm trying out a site/app called Real Plans, to help me with get creative and stay organized with making meal plans, so that I'll actually stick with them.
- Along those lines, I'm going to actually try to adhere to some nutritional guidelines I'm setting for myself. (I find that my body feels best when I limit certain food groups.)
- I used to make sure that I got enough sleep by going to bed at the same time as my daughter, and then reading while she fell asleep. I'm going to have to start doing that again, because 1) I haven't been reading much lately, and 2) it got me into bedtime mode, while still allowing me some Me Time.
- I'm thinking about trying to monitor my hydration without actually tracking fluid ounces, but I'm not sure of how to do that yet. I know urine color is a good indication, but I feel like that's not concrete enough for me, so I might try to research some more on this topic.

So yeah, it's been an illuminating first 30 days. Here's to the next 30 (or 31!) being even better!

PS - For the first time EVER, I hit 10,000 steps in one day!


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Thursday, April 20, 2017

FO: Hawkshaw Cowl


Another finished project for your viewing pleasure!

This pattern is the Hawkshaw Cowl by Kate Burge and Rachel Price of Spincycle Yarns and uses two (different) skeins of their worsted weight single-ply yarn, Independence. I've chosen to call this my Unicorns and Mermaids cowl because the two colorways I chose, Goddess Above the Clouds and The Bee's Knees, remind me of unicorns and mermaids respectively. (My skein of Goddess literally matched my Unicorn Frappuccino yesterday!)

This was my first-ever brioche knitting project, and it was EASY PEASY LEMON SQUEEZY. Thank you, Kate and Rachel, for making this experience painless! Brioche knitting creates a squishy, reversible fabric that resembles 1x1 ribbing, and when you do it with two colors, it looks AMAZING. I'd always been too intimidated to attempt it before (I don't know why, don't ask me), but I seriously can't resist Spincycle Yarns' colorways, and this looked like a quick, easy knit. (It was.)

The pattern says to stop when it's around 12 inches long, but mine is about 9.5 inches edge to edge. I cannot imagine this being three inches longer - it already feels like it's going to swallow my head. I also hit upon a really long section of teal in my Y1, and it looked like enough to make it all the way around for the i-cord bind-off without changing color (this was important to me), so it seemed like a good place to stop. The thick-and-thin texture of Independence makes it look a little funky at times, but it's such a beautiful, soft yarn that I can't stay mad.

It's squishy and warm and sooooo beautiful. Have a look!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

100 days of health and fitness

Ready... SET...
Okay, so it's probably not a secret, but in case you didn't know, I have not been making health and fitness a priority in my life lately. Either I haven't been feeling well, or I've been overwhelmed, or I just can't overcome my inertia - no matter the reason, my body (and as a result, my mind as well) has been feeling pretty lousy. I mean, to be honest, winter has always ended up being my "off-season" anyway, due to weather and illness, and ever since I moved up north, I've been in the doldrums even more.

BUT... it's now officially spring, and the sky is a little bit brighter, and I'm ready to pull myself together and get myself back on track. And what better way to do that than to do a fitness challenge?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Some thoughts on the new live-action Beauty and the Beast


It's been a while since I've done a movie review on this blog! Usually, the only movies I bother to see and blog about are book-to-movie adaptations, and those usually go on my book blog. (I mean, technically, yeah, BatB could be considered a book-to-movie adaptation, but... meh.)

Okay, so fair warning: Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies, and Belle is absolutely my favorite Disney princess. (See?) As a kid, I of course identified with her as a book-loving outcast. Also, I love the, uh, Frenchness (?), and I'm sure it had something to do with my decision to take French in high school.

Therefore, I was rather intrigued when I found out there would be a live-action remake, and I was SUPER excited to find out that my favorite princess would be played by another favorite bookworm of mine, Hermione Granger Emma Watson. (PS - Before I ever found out that she was cast, I had made a list/photo collage of Disney princesses as my favorite YA characters, and I totally had Belle as Hermione. JUST SAYIN'.)

So, this movie had a lot to live up to. In some ways, it hit, and in other ways, it missed, but overall, I enjoyed it. I still prefer the animated movie from my childhood, but there are definitely some things I really liked about this one.

Some scattered thoughts (and I guess I should give a spoiler warning, not for the stuff everyone already knows from the animated movie, but for the changes that were made):
  • I LOVED the introductory scene, about how the Beast became the Beast. That ballroom scene was fantastic visually, and OMG Audra McDonald!!!! Can we just have her sing EVERYTHING EVER?
  • Stanley Tucci, your Caesar Flickerman is showing. Just a lil bit. :)
  • The whole movie was extremely beautiful, like, visually. I loved the color palette, and even the wintry scenes were gorgeous. There were quite a few shots and sets that looked like throwbacks to the animated one.
  • That said, the CGI... made me scrunch my nose a little. The songs where we were basically just watching a bunch of CGI instead of real people (like "Be Our Guest" or that song that the Beast sings after Belle leaves) just felt off and less interesting to me.
  • Speaking of the CGI, I kinda laughed when I realized at the end that Bill Condon had directed this, because I was thinking to myself earlier in the movie that the CGI wolves looked like the wolves from the Twilight movies. (He directed the two Breaking Dawn movies.) I was like, "... Jacob? Stop trying to eat the Beast!"
  • I loved most of the songs that were new for this movie. I did not LOVE the ones that were used from the animated movie, because they had made some changes lyrically and musically. I didn't mind the musical changes, but like, I couldn't suss out why they changed the words, and I just wasn't having it. 
  • I'm also quite familiar with the dialogue from the animated version, and I didn't like how they kept some lines, but changed others for seemingly no reason. Was it to shorten the movie? But it's not like the animated one is particularly long to begin with. And really, I kinda felt like I was just watching a Cliffs Notes version of the animated one at certain points. (Do kids still use Cliffs Notes?)
  • But again, the things that they added for this movie were awesome. I loved the backstory about Belle's mother and about the Beast's upbringing (like, why WAS he such a spoiled douche?) and all that stuff. The Paris part made me tear up. 
  • Dude, Kevin Kline, I KNOW you can do a French accent. What gives??? 
  • Speaking of French accents, it was fun listening to Ewan MacGregor as Lumiere. I mean, he's no Jerry Orbach, of course, but he pulled it off.
  • I did think "Belle" was quite spectacularly choreographed/blocked/performed/everything.
  • Emma Watson's singing... :/ I'm not making that face because she's a bad singer. Rather, I think they must have run her voice through autotune or some sort of vocal processor, because it didn't sound like a real voice/purely her voice? I don't know, it just didn't feel like it was purely her, if that makes sense.
  • Again, CAN WE JUST HAVE AUDRA MCDONALD SING EVERYTHING EVER, in EVERY scene she's in????????? 
  • Not gonna lie... there were a couple moments when I was half-expecting to hear something Harry Potter-related. I do truly think Emma Watson was channeling some Hermione there when Belle sees the library for the first time. 
  • I definitely noticed and loved how this movie was not alllllll white actors. It's the sort of movie where it would've been very easy (and expected, not gonna lie) to have a purely white cast, but there was a great range of skin tones among the crowd, and many of the POC characters even had speaking parts. =')
  • Speaking of diversity and representation... I know it was a huge deal that they decided to make LeFou gay. When I first heard this, I was like :/ because, yes, representation is awesome, but LeFou is technically a bad guy, and yo, Disney, y'all been queer-coding your villains forEVER. (Feel free to google that.) However, they took this LeFou in a totally different direction and I ended up loving it. And I cheered after the garderobe scene during the battle. (You'll know when you see it.)
  • Also... and correct me if I'm wrong... I felt like they did NOT have Gaston react to LeFou in a gay-panicky sort of way? It would've been easy to have him be freaked out and weirded out every time LeFou came on too strong, but it seemed like he just kind of took it in stride. Which I appreciated, even though I'm not sure it was entirely in character. But thank you for not making people react to LeFou like he's gross or weird or anything like that. 
  • And speaking of that whole "controversy," I laughed a ton when I saw all the comments about Belle marrying a water buffalo, BUT... don't laugh... that scene where Belle is tending to the Beast's wounds, he's technically shirtless (though covered in fur) in his bed, and holy pecs and delts, Batman! I mean, I know he's some sort of buffalo bear creature and therefore it's kinda weird to be into him, but HE LOOKS LIKE HE BENCH PRESSES. Just sayin'. 
  • Fun fact: Hattie Morahan (Agathe) and Dan Stevens (the Beast) were both in a remake of Sense & Sensibility as Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars. You know who also played Elinor Dashwood once? Emma Thompson! Who was Mrs. Potts in this movie. 
  • And speaking of Austen-ish things, I don't know why, but the dancing caught me off guard. You would think that I'd be used to seeing those types of dances, since I watch so many Austen movies (and I'm not saying they're all the same dances historically, either), but I guess I was expecting the same ballroom dancing that was in the animated one. 
  • Not related to anything, but I really want one of those ear cuff things that Belle is wearing with the gold dress. 
  • Thankyouthankyouthankyou for not including "Human Again." I hate how they added that song to the animated version decades later, and I just really don't care for it very much. However, it's curious that they did reference Romeo and Juliet in this version, just like that particular added scene did. (Also, why is Belle so into R&J anyway? It's nothing like the favorite story she sings about, and it's like, depressing as all hell. Come on, gurl.)
  • The Celine Dion (?) song at the end was a nice touch. 
Okay, that's all I've got for now. I am still very firmly attached to the animated one, but I liked this one too - it didn't ruin the old one for me, and it even added some new elements that I really enjoyed. :) Yep, still my favorite Princess.