Monthly Archives: July 2015

Exercise Epiphany

The concept of willingly deciding to exercise used to be utterly foreign to me. My friends would go to Flywheel or some sort of boot-camp-torture-chamber every morning and I would lie in bed wondering why they would choose to be in physical pain rather than getting that extra hour of sleep.

Over a month ago I had to start yoga (as a mandatory class to graduate from Emory) and was completely dreading it. How would I muster the motivation to do yoga at 8:30 am every day for six weeks? It didn’t seem possible.

As the weeks went by, something clicked in my mind.

I used to associate exercise with negativity because I didn’t realize that there is no “right” way to fit fitness into your life- you have to do what works for you.

I suffer from chronic panic attacks and anxiety, so the thought of a fast-paced cycling class or trainers yelling at me in boot-camp sounded like my worst nightmare. Yoga centered me, it cleared my mind, and most of all it made me believe in the power of meditation.

When my yoga class ended, I wanted to try another type of exercise that would be accommodating to my lifestyle, but slightly more intensive.

A little over two weeks ago I started Pure Barre and it has changed my life in ways I didn’t think possible. I could not recommend this class more to people who suffer from any type of anxiety or panic disorder. The instructors push you to work your hardest and perfect your form, but they are upbeat, gentle and create a relaxing and non-intimidating environment. The class works every part of your body, but you aren’t focusing on physical pain because you are able to shut your eyes, listen to the music and really feel the mind/ body connection.

So, to those suffering from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc.: I know this post sounds obnoxious and you are all probably rolling your eyes. It definitely took me a while to come around to the idea of incorporating fitness into my lifestyle, and if it takes you a while too then that’s cool.

Just know that it’s not about achieving the toned Lululemon thigh gap… it’s about achieving peace of mind.

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A “Personal Essay Collection” Kind of Summer

This summer I have been on a streak of reading collections of personal essays by female writers. While Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham will always be my favorite, the two brilliant books I just finished likewise stole my heart.

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

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Keegan’s collection differs from the others I read as it contains both personal essays and fictional stories. It is also unique in that Keegan’s collection is posthumous, as she passed away in a tragic car accident just a few days after she graduated from Yale. Keegan’s family and mentor compiled nine stories and nine essays by Keegan that subsequently became an incredibly insightful body of work.

The book’s title refers to the final essay Keegan wrote for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness”, which ruminates on life after graduation. She writes, “We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time”. She urges her peers to pursue their artistic passions in lieu of being sucked in by the corporate world. All of Keegan’s pieces eloquently touch upon relationships, death, conflict, love, and loss with a youthful, yet discerning perspective.

Every girl in her 20’s should be required to read this breathtaking collection. The Opposite of Loneliness is a tribute to Keegan’s extraordinary talent, as well as to her rare quality of being both realistic and optimistic at such a young age.

And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould

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This essay collection, written by a 28-year-old Emily Gould in 2010, was both a melancholy and inspirational read. Gould writes about everything from sleeping with a 14-year-old boy her senior year in high school, her abusive relationship with a frat boy in college, transferring to The New School in New York City and experimenting with women in her writing program, working at a dilapidated jazz club in the city, selling her soul to Gawker, her grandfather’s death, brooding over a failed relationship, furnishing her apartment with the help of a high-end furniture thief, and consistently smoking a lot of weed.

Reading this book was almost existential as I truly felt I was diving into Gould’s soul. Her writing is fluid and understated; a no frills outlook on the confusing and complicated lives of modern women.

My favorite essay is “A Concentration in Writing”, in which Gould describes having to write a memoir for her fiction workshop at The New School about someone being a victim. Gould really wrote a story based on her own experience of cheating on her boyfriend in college. Her boyfriend found out she was cheating because she wrote about it in a diary that she left next to her bed. When he confronted her about it, he violently pushed her to the ground and was about to slam her head into the concrete until a friend luckily intervened.

When Gould presented the story to her class for critique, another student raised her hand and asked why the narrator character had written about her infidelity in a diary, and why the diary was in a place where her boyfriend could find it.

The essay concludes with Gould responding: “That’s just the kind of thing she does”.

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