Amanda Cade

Worth It! (Things to try, read, watch, hear, and discuss)

Well, my new year is off to an interesting start. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you would probably need only one guess to predict what I’m about to say: Work. Went. Crazy. (I am now picturing all of your shocked faces.) I also have not been feeling one hundred percent this last week, party because of what was likely a minor cold and partly because work has been physically and mentally taxing. So I have been very intentionally spending my evenings taking care of myself, and not letting my workaholic tendencies take over. As a result, I have been especially grateful for several items that are great for regular self care and wellness. 

Foot Massager

feetWhen I’m conducting training, coordinating events, or running between meetings and conversations, I don’t get a lot of desk time, and even well chosen shoes can’t stop all that from taking a toll. Here in the United States, studies have shown that 70-80% of adults experience intermittent or chronic foot pain, and I’d guess that just about everyone has felt the ache that comes from a long day in motion. If you experience chronic or serious pain, you should discuss it with your doctor, but for everyday foot fatigue, an in home massager is fantastic. Mine has both massage and heat, and usually ten minutes is enough to wipe out the effects of the day.

Vaporizer

Screenshot 2020-01-12 at 8.11.01 AMDry air isn’t good for your skin, eyes, or sinuses. Keeping a healthy level of humidity in your home helps maintain both health and comfort, as well as leading to better quality sleep (and that’s always a good thing). A lot of people feel that vaporizers are only for when they’re sick, but regular use leads to increased overall health and comfort. I have a Vicks model that has slots for Vapo Pads, which I use any time I’m feeling slightly congested. It works like a charm.

Heated Mattress Pad

bedThis is a relatively new addition to my home, a gift from my sister Audrey. There are two reasons I absolutely adore this gizmo. First, I hate being cold. I mean I despise it. I sleep under a blanket and a comforter unless the weather is over eighty degrees, and then I’m still tempted. An even greater benefit, though, is that it’s also like a full-body heating pad. Before, when I came home aching from a physically taxing day, I would use a standard heating pad, sometimes moving it around from back to calf to forearm and so forth. Now, I can just lay in bed for awhile, get heat everywhere, and feel the soreness ease. I’ve also found that I’m a lot less stiff when I wake up in the morning.

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What are your essential self care and wellness items?

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Yesterday, the Netflix/BBC adaption of Bram Stoker’s Dracula became available here in the United States. I’m a big fan of the Dracula mythos, have read the novel multiple times, read many other books featuring the character, and have seen too many film adaptions to count. Basically, if there’s a new Dracula movie, I watch it. So of course, yesterday I dropped everything to watch the three part miniseries, which runs about 4.5 hours.

Was it time well spent? Well…yes and no. Let’s take it one episode at a time. I’ll be including a few plot details, but no serious spoilers. We kick things off with…

Episode One: The Rules of the Beast

Dracula 1 The first episode gives a nod to the epistolary format of the novel by framing the narrative as a conversation between Jonathan Harker and Sister Agatha, who struggles with her faith but has made a serious study of vampires and the occult. The introduction of this character let me know right away that the show wasn’t planning on strict adherence to the source material, but that wasn’t really surprising. There are a lot of elements from the original story here, and the show’s take on Harker’s time in Dracula’s castle is creepy, visually engaging, and generally felt like a worthy adaption. I really enjoyed Claes Bang’s portrayal of Dracula as he used Harker’s blood (the show relies heavily on the idea that drinking blood allows the vampire to absorb knowledge, memories, etc.) to transform himself from an octogenarian, old-world aristocrat to a young, modern gentleman who would fit in well once he journeyed to London.

As Harker’s story came to a close, the show included some reveals that further distinguished it from the novel. I won’t get into specifics because of spoilers, but I will say that overall I didn’t mind the changes, because they were interesting and made me wonder where the show was headed. The climax of the episode was a confrontation with Dracula that showcased both his powers and his limitations. The situation surrounding this event was completely new, and while it felt a little forced, and went on a little too long, on the whole I thought it came together pretty well.

Overall, I enjoyed the first episode and happily went straight into…

Episode Two: Blood Vessel

Dracula 2 Here, Dracula shifts firmly into the role of protagonist. Once again, a large chunk of the episode is framed by storytelling, but this time it’s Dracula himself narrating. Again, we have an important section of the novel adapted and re-imagined. This time, it’s Dracula’s voyage on the Demeter. In the book, Dracula is only glimpsed as he slowly picks off the ship’s crew. The show greatly expanded the story of this trip, adding a collection of passengers, including Dracula himself. As the death toll mounts, the count actually participates in the attempts to find the murderer. I would have liked to see a little more exploration of a few things (specifically, several of the passengers and their connections), but you can’t have everything. Unlike the Demeter’s doomed voyage in the novel, in the show a group of survivors discovers Dracula’s nature and we have another confrontation.

I liked the second episode as much as the first, especially because of the flavor of a mystery story, a genre I really enjoy. I was looking forward to seeing how everything played out in…

Episode Three: The Dark Compass

Dracula 3 …when, in my opinion, the whole thing falls apart. After the events on the Demeter, Dracula wakes up in the modern world, and it turns out that he has been expected. I was dubious about this turn of events from the start, but was willing to give it a go. What I was expecting was a new interpretation of the London events of the novel, with a spin on Lucy Westenra’s turning and the subsequent final confrontation with Dracula. Was I got was…not that. Honestly, this episode simply couldn’t decide what it wanted to be about, and became a strange collection of shallow characters, poorly developed conflicts, and plot holes. It was completely lacking in tension, and the resolution was as bland as it was unsatisfying. Stories can be changed, adapted, reinvented, etc…but any story needs to be good.

This version of Dracula ended up being 2/3 pretty good, and 1/3 hot mess. I’d say it’s worth three hours…but not four and a half.

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Seen it? Want to see it? Other thoughts? Let’s chat.

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Happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2020 is off to a great start.

I’m officially calling an end to my Blogmas and probably won’t be posting again until Sunday. I’m super proud of myself for thirty-two straight days of blogging, but after much consideration I’ve decided not to try continuing to post every day. I enjoyed the experience, but found it to be occasionally stressful, struggled with ideas a few times, and discovered that posting daily left me without the creative energy to write the longer and more detailed posts that I’ve been doing since starting this blog.

So I’m returning to the old format of one main post on Sundays, but I’m planning to try writing at least one additional post a week to share something that’s going on, a lesser known holiday, or a focused idea (more along the lines of my Blogmas posts). We’ll see how that goes, especially since things are picking up at work again.

Thanks for reading and supporting me over the past month. I’m looking forward to a fantastic new year!

best life

How are you starting 2020?

New Year Party

2019 is almost behind us (and, in a few early time zones, is already gone). I hope it’s been a wonderful year for all of you, and that you’re ready to welcome the new year with hope and anticipation.

I’ve kept New Year’s Eve pretty low key for the past few years, preferring small gatherings with family or friends to large events. I guess I’ve gotten a little too old for serious partying. Lol.

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What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?

books

The best thing about the holidays is spending time with family and friends. The second best thing is having more free time. I chose to spend a lot of mine reading. With a whole week off work, I binge read like nobody’s business, and put ten more books in the “finished” column. That brings me up to 267 for the year.

Back in September, I wrote two posts about increasing reading, including whys and hows. If you missed those, here they are:

Being able to spend several hours each day lost in a story has been one of the highlights of the past week.

reading on book

What’s your favorite way to spend extra leisure time?

To Do List

Being somewhat hooked on to do lists, I have day like this about once a week, but today is the official Still Need To Do Day. Today is a great day to:

  • Take stock of the things you wanted to accomplish in 2019, and try to get in a few you’ve left untried or unfinished.
  • Tackle some of the things you set aside during the rush of the holidays.
  • Set yourself up for a clean slate for a new week/month/year.

I’m concentrating on two things today. First, post-holiday business, like cleaning and finding a home for Christmas gifts. This year, I received lots of stuff for the house, so I have a pile of things to put up or put away. Second, for the past week I’ve completely unplugged from my job (which is pretty rare for me), so I have emails to read and material to review so I’m ready to hit the ground running when business resumes.

You Can Do It

What’s on your list?

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Today is National Call a Friend Day, intended to motivate everyone to take the time to have a conversation. A lot of our communication these days happens digitally, through emails, social media posts, texts, and so on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t quite the same as a real time, back and forth conversation. I’m a big fan of conversation (I prefer face to face, but on the phone is still pretty good), and make an effort to have regular talks with the important people in my life. Even so, when I took some time to reflect and take stock this morning, I easily thought of several friends I haven’t actually talked to in weeks.

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I’m going to be making some calls and catching up with them over the next few days, starting today.

Let Me Know

Are there people you need to catch up with? How important do you think it is to have phone or face to face conversations?