Archive | June, 2018

Off Topic Thursday: Triathlon

28 Jun

I’ve been building to this Off Topic Thursday topic for a while now. Did anyone else notice my last three months were swimming, biking, and running? This month, it’s all about combining the three and talking about triathlons!

I did my first triathlon in 2004 when I was 14. It was a sprint distance race that I did with a friend on my swim team. The joke was on me because that friend was a runner and I was not. It went OK but I didn’t return to triathlon until 2014 after I got married. I looked up my results and all I can say is at least I got faster! I tried on my own through 2014 and 2015. At the end of 2015, I was suffering from bad knee pain when I ran and was limited to about a mile before I had to stop walking. Biking wasn’t so bad but it still wasn’t good. I was about to bow out of my last tri of the season, which I’d already registered for when my husband and a friend suggested we do a relay. It’s the only one I’ve done to date and I have to say it was amazing and I hope I can do another one again.

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Fist place Sprint Relay team! Go Team Bishop!!!

A post shared by Sam Ann Elizabeth (@samannelizabeth) on

In 2016, I decided to get serious and hired a virtual coach. I’ve met him in person a handful of times since he lives ten miles from me. He’d send me workouts to do each day and help me increase mileage and intensity of my workouts. With his help, I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon in September of that year.

I continued with my coach in 2017 and also set a crazy goal of doing a race per month. I over-committed and ended up with more than one per month and a total of 5 triathlons (2 Olympic, 3 Sprint). The schedule was a bit too much for me and I didn’t perform very well. However, I got into a great rhythm with my training.

I decided not to retain my coach for 2018, but I’m keeping him in mind for some goals I have for next year (keep reading). I joined a club team this year and last week I did my first tri as a team member. It’s fun to have a community that will push me instead of relying on myself. I’m hoping to participate in more of the workouts now that my class is over and I have a lot more time during the week. I’ve been taking part in weekend swims since January but it’s time to change my focus to triathlon as a whole. I have one more race this year, an Olympic in September on a course that I’ve done twice already and am excited to dominate again.

I do have one crazy goal. Well, half crazy. I want to complete a Half Ironman in 2019. The September race I’ve done has that distance as an option and I think I can do it. I’m doing a half marathon later this year to remind myself how much training this will involve but I really think I’ve got this. School will be done and I can devote more time to biking and running (I think I’m good on the swim).

I want to do a few sprint tris next year as well. I came really close to breaking 1:30 last week and I think I can do it! I just cramp up like I did before. That would be a good way to end my run. I’m thinking of focusing more on open water swims in 2020 along with some road races. I really just don’t like biking, haha.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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WWW Wednesday, 27-June-2018

27 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I think I made it through one chapter of The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I’ve been studying during lunch when I can and finally got back to it some today. I’m really enjoying this book and its unusual format so I look forward to reading more when I can.
Still waiting on the hold of Dreams of Joy by Lisa See to come back. Sigh.
I didn’t finish The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan before the book club meeting and ended up skipping it in order to study a bit more. I felt bad, but I wasn’t sure how much I’d get out of the discussion if I was only a bit over half-way through it.
With all my driving to school, I’ve made great steps forward with The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer. These books are fun and exciting but I do sometimes get frustrated feeling I’m kept in the dark. Toward the end, I’m sure everything will start to come together so I’m just looking forward to that.
Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt has been a good read for me so far. I don’t read many business books because I’m usually trying to escape from B-School by reading, but Goldratt makes it all seem more fun by giving his stories a plot.

Recently finished: Let’s not talk about it. Maybe next week?

Reading Next: I’m not going to start Brainiac by Ken Jennings until I finish Friedan. I have to keep telling myself that since the book is so tempting right on my bedside table…
I forgot to cancel my hold on another car audiobook so I have The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan ready to go when I finish Meltzer. I think another week or so and I’ll be able to start this one.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

My Last Day Off (?)

26 Jun

I hate doing this again, but I’m taking another day off this week. My final is tonight (!!!) and I spent the weekend studying and celebrating a family wedding. Needless to say, not much writing got done. And not much reading. Unless you count class slides. Which I don’t.

I do have a post planned for Thursday so please check back and see my Off-Topic Thursday post for the month. It’s one I’ve been building to for a while and I’m really excited to share.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

When Life Gets in the Way of Reading

25 Jun

You all may have noticed that in the past two weeks I’ve finished 0 books and I’ve taken two days off from blogging to keep the rest of my life under control. I’m very fortunate that this was foreseeable and not related to any kind of crisis. It’s school, work, and family coming together to be as intense and frustrating as possible all at the same time.

On a normal day, I’ll read some of 3-4 different books. I’ll take you through a typical day (and hopefully answer consistent questions about how I read so many books at a time) and explain how things have been different the past two weeks.

I typically wake up around 5:00am. On days I go for a run, I listen to my eaudiobook and get in about 40 minutes this way. On days I head to the gym to swim or attend spin class, I’ll get maybe 10 minutes of my car audiobook in during the drive. Total (average) reading time: 25 minutes.
This part of my day hasn’t changed much. Over the past two weeks, I’ve taken a few more days off than normal. So instead of this happening 4 mornings a week, it’s happening 3. I’m going to stick with an average reading time of 25 minutes.

During lunch 3 days a week, I read at my desk while I eat. This gives me about 30 minutes to read the ebook I keep on my phone, which is why that book is a rather slow one for me. Total reading time: 30 minutes.
I’ve been studying and reviewing notes during lunch since my class started. I don’t have much time at home to do these things so getting them done during lunch is a great option. Total reading time: 0.

After work, I usually head home and get about 15 minutes more in with my car audiobook. Total reading time: 15 minutes.
While in school, I’m driving to campus twice a week which gives me about 30 minutes in the car. This is the only area where I’m getting more book time in than I normally do and can be attributed to why I’m getting through car audio so much faster than normal. Total reading time: 30 minutes.

I normally cook dinner and listen to an audiobook while I do that. I use the eaudiobook on my phone for that. Total reading time: 20 minutes.
While in school, I’m eating while reading more notes and reviewing presentations and test material with classmates. No reading time here.

I like to get ready for bed early, around 9:30, and read in bed for 20-30 minutes before turning the light off and going to sleep. It really helps me unwind before falling asleep. Total (average) reading time, 25 minutes.
I’ve cut back to about 10 minutes if I even read at all for the past few weeks. I’m so exhausted after getting home after 9:30 that I don’t need to unwind much and I can fall asleep immediately. Total (average) reading time, 5 minutes.

So that gives me a normal total of 1:55 minutes of reading during an average day and over the past two weeks, an average of 1 hour per day. It makes sense that I’m at almost half speed for my reading when I look at it this way. Life is getting in the way.

But that’s OK. Life does this sometimes and I haven’t stopped reading completely. I’ll get back to it and it’s coming soon. My final exam is tomorrow (!!!) and after that, things will be much calmer in my life. Maybe I’ll enjoy the summer weather and read outside. Maybe I’ll go for some more long runs and listen to audio. Perhaps a car trip and some long audio with my hubby. I have to remember that “This too shall pass.” I’ll find the time when I can.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Another Day Off

21 Jun

I hate to do this again, but I’m taking another day off. Second in two weeks! I know this is unlike me. My class ends next week so I’m very hopeful that this can be the last time and I’ll be back in action next week. Wish me luck on a good final paper and final exam! I’ll be at a wedding this weekend so studying might be a challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 20-June-2018

20 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Almost no progress on The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver this week. School ends next week and it’s in high gear now so I did a lot of textbook reading during my lunches. I hope to return to it soon.
I am very disappointed to say that I lost my hold on Dreams of Joy by Lisa See! I put a hold on it to get it back but it might be a bit before I’m able to jump back into this one.
I am starting to think I won’t finish The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan before my book club meeting. I’m out of free time until my class ends so I’m reading about ten pages a night, not enough to help me finish. Seeing as the meeting is the day before my final exam, I might skip it entirely.
I’ve made great progress in The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer. I think that’s solid proof of how seldom I’m home! I’m about halfway through the book now and I should easily finish before I leave for Europe. I don’t want a lingering audiobook while I’m gone.
I started another eaudiobook while I wait for Joy to come back. I started Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt. I’m enjoying it so far and it’s very relevant to the business class I’m taking. It’s not too long so I should wrap it up in a week or two.

Recently finished: Nothing! I’m moving slowly now but I’m optimistic that it will pick up soon. It has to, right?

Reading Next: I’m very tempted to pick up Brainiac by Ken Jennings since Mystique is dragging so much for me. This one looks fun and full of trivia facts. That seems so far off now…


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

‘A Walk In the Woods’ Movie Review

19 Jun

Image via Movie Poster Shop

It’s been a while since I read a book that had been turned into a movie and it was a nice break. It let me say to my husband on Saturday, “I have to watch this movie!” I enjoyed A Walk In the Woods a lot as an audiobook and I was curious how it would be turned into a movie so it was a delight to see this and see how things developed.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Nick Nolte. I had an idea in my heads of what Katz would look and act like, much of it derived from the narrator of the audiobook. Nolte didn’t hit it exactly, but he was pretty darn close! I enjoyed his portrayal and how he struggled with the hiking but became so much better as the film went on. When he wanted to give up, he let Bill talk him out of it. That was a lot of growth from when he got off the plane.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Katz’s drinking. I’m glad this still got brought up. I thought with the direction the film was going that it would be cut since it was at the end of the book. It was one of Katz’s biggest demons and another big moment of growth for his character.

Running into bears. This was a bit much for me. The two did run into some kind of creature (I suspect a bobcat) but the encounter was nowhere near as exciting as the one in the film. It seemed a bit too convenient that the bears were scared off by the men in their tents. Honestly, that wouldn’t always work.

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Nature facts. Toward the end, Bill goes off about the American Chestnut but it’s the first time he’s talked about nature or the trail at all for their entire trip. The book had Bill giving facts about the trail’s history and the landscape they’re walking through the whole time. Why take it out at the beginning and leave only the Chestnut?

Things That Changed Too Much

Not stopping in Tennessee. When Katz brought up fast forwarding the trip, I was ready for it. The Smokey’s were the worst part of the trip for both of them. I was really surprised when Bill kept going and they didn’t skip ahead to Virginia. That was a bit too much for me.

Not taking a break and coming back to it. I didn’t like the pace of hiking the trail in the book, but this was weird. Instead of taking the summer apart and Bill hiking parts of the trail by himself, they stopped completely in Virginia. In my mind, they weren’t as close to ‘finishing it’ as they came in the book. They had all of New England that wasn’t touched. Either way, the book and movie fell short of what I was hoping for in the story, but the movie even more so.

This was what I was looking for in a fun read about hiking and being outside. I’ve been couped up inside with school projects and I’d love to get out like Katz and Bill. Reader, have you seen the A Walk in the Woods movie? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

18 Jun

My book club met last week to talk about Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn. I enjoyed the book a lot myself but it had been almost three weeks since I finished it when we finally met. I was a bit fuzzy on the details of the story so I did a lot of listening.

This book was selected as the National African American Read-In book for Black History Month in February. Our group sponsor had read it for that and enjoyed it so much that she put it on our docket.

Woodson was born and raised in Columbus, South Carolina, and New York City. She currently lives in New York. A lot of her other books are either picture books or ones aimed at a YA audience.

The style was very poetic. Others described it as a dream and feeling like a stream of consciousness. The structure of the book was very non-linear. Some people disliked that structure. One reader described it as a ‘Swiss cheese’ story because of all the holes in the plot. One of the times we talked most about her non-linear writing was when there was a trauma. When Gigi was raped, when Angela’s mother died, the death of August’s own mother. All of these were alluded to, circled around, and the event itself only stated outright after we’d heard the effects and feelings of those involved.

We loved the female friendships in this book. The girls grew from 8 to 16 during the book and it was easy to see the intensity of young female friendships during this time. They acted like mothers to each other when they needed it. This complicated their relationships as well because disappointing a friend or being betrayed by her was as painful as disappointing your mother or being betrayed by family. August had a series of mother figures in the book. Her friends, their mothers, her dad’s girlfriends, and other women served in guiding her to womanhood. One of the few memories she shares of her mother is being warned not to let other women too close to you. We wondered if this influenced her inability to forgive Sylvia on the train. Maybe she was mad Sylvia had children when she didn’t. Maybe she was shutting herself off emotionally, the way she had when her mother died. Or maybe she’d started taking her mother’s advice.

Again, the bits about August’s mother were very cyclical so it’s not completely clear what happened to her. We suspect she may have been paranoid schizophrenic. Maybe just paranoid. She seemed to be suspicious of her husband being with other women all the time and didn’t trust anyone. This may have been the source of her advice to August. We don’t know if she had reason to be suspicious of her husband. We thought it was odd advice to give a daughter not to have close friends so wondered where the anger came from. August had shut down completely when her mother died to the point that she doesn’t remember it. She hints at it many times, remembering the funeral and leaving with her father. We debated if it was a coping mechanism that kept her from realizing her mother was dead or if she was too young to understand what it meant to die and she really believed her mother would follow them to Brooklyn. It seems that her brother was too young to understand but August was at an age right in the middle. Did her father explain to her what happened, or did he hide some of the truth to save his children the pain? Her later interest in anthropology and death traditions seemed to be a way for August to look at how she should mourn and what to do when someone dies.

The father was left with a difficult situation and he did fairly well. They may have been poor but they were clean, fed, and clothed. August comments on how other children were not so lucky. Her father is also resourceful, sending her across the street to a woman who can braid her hair for her since he doesn’t know how. Sister Sonja was a great woman for August and her brother to have in their lives. Their father may have dated a lot of women, but the ones that stuck around were good people. Her father didn’t have the friendships and community that August found in her friends. He and her brother turned to religion for their community.

I thought the title referred to the difference between the Brooklyn August remembers and the one she sees when returning for her father’s funeral. Someone else proposed that it’s a contrast to Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love this idea, how two stories in the same place can be so different.

The ending was hopeful for August. She had something to look forward to, a life she’d made for herself. The other girls didn’t have as much hope. They were stuck in the new Brooklyn and it was so different from the one August loved.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Day Off

14 Jun

I’m taking a much-needed day off. I’ll be back on Monday and should have school and life better under control. Look for a book club reflection and (maybe) a movie review!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 13-June-2018

13 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made better progress with The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver than I expected to, which was a welcome surprise. I figured out what the structure of the book is and I’m really intrigued to keep read it and see what happens!
I got a few runs in and made some decent progress on Dreams of Joy by Lisa See. I’ve enjoyed See’s writing in the past and this book doesn’t disappoint and I’m glad I’ve gotten to read it!
I’m afraid my progress has slowed with The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. I’m not as interested in it as I wish I were and it’s made me read less at night and find other things to do with free time during the days. I’m pushing just to finish in time for book club now.
I started a new audiobook in my car but not the one I thought I would. I’m reading The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer. It’s the second in a series I started a few years ago (I’m seeing a trend) and I remember the previous book well enough but it’s getting mixed up with other Meltzer books to me. I’ll sort it out in time, haha.

Recently finished: I finished A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson late last week and I want to go hiking so badly now! It was a fun read and I meant to pick the movie up at the library and totally forgot. Darn! I hope I can watch this one soon, it seems like it would be a pretty funny film.

I posted my review of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout on Thursday and my book club reflection of it on Monday. It wasn’t a favorite of mine or my book club. Unpopular Opinion Alert!

Reading Next: No change on Brainiac by Ken Jennings. I’ve already had to renew it and I haven’t cracked it open. I really hope I can get to it soon!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!