The Shows Are Strong

Fall is here. And that means pumpkin spice lattes, corn mazes and brand new seasons of television. Here’s what I’m watching (in no particular order!) Proceed with caution…there be spoilers ahead.

Gotham

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Dear Fox, way to turn this dud around.

Last season really dipped around the 5th or 6th episode. The best parts of the show were the rough and tumble portrayal of Alfred (played by Sean Pertwee), the crazed penguin (played by Robin Taylor) and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Fish Mooney (Jada can do no wrong!) I have a very soft spot in my heart for Ben McKenzie so I always liked him, but Barbara Kean (played by Erin Richards) was completely unbearable.

Gotham suffered from high expectations (much like season 1 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) When telling the story of a pre-Batman Gotham, you have to raise the bar pretty high. Enter season 2 and the Rise of the Villains plot line. Barbara Kean was imprisoned for killing her parents and in the season premier she and all the rest of the crazy-pants inmates of Arkham Asylum have been let loose to roam the city and spread their special brand of mayhem. Yes Please!

And that’s not even mentioning Cory Michael Smith’s, Edward Nygma, who has been turning out strong pre-Riddler performances since day 1. Now in season 2 he is getting a chance to spread his insane wings and begin the process of learning to fly! Double yes please!

Minority Report

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This show has a lot of potential. The movie Minority Report (let’s not forget that it came out 13 years ago…) sets the pilot of this show up in a post Precrime world. The precogs are no longer being used to predict crimes. But the youngest precog, Dash (played by the delightful Stark Sands) still gets visions and has been trying to use them, rather unsuccessfully, to save lives. Along comes Detective Lara Vega to give him direction. Definitely one to put on your watch list.

Once Upon a TIme

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Talk about coming in with a BANG!

After the events of season 4 and the savior going dark, it was truly promising to be an interesting turn of events and Sunday’s premier did not disappoint. What I loved most was that ABC decided to start slow with Emma’s decent into darkness. Lots of delicious set ups for the season ahead including harkening back to season 1’s memory wipe plot line. Very excited to see where this season is going to take us. If you’re behind on the show, catch up on Netflix. There’s always time to catch up!

The Walking Dead

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I just binge-watched season 5. And season 6 doesn’t start till Sunday, October 11th. If you aren’t caught up, there’s plenty of time and it’s worth the watch. I’m expecting great things from the new season!

Agents of SHIELD

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Yes! Yes! Yes!

The events of season 2 were so compelling and this new season (premiering tonight on ABC) promises not to disappoint. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has been a dark horse at times, but the Marvel team knows the gem it has on it’s hands and when the going gets tough they bring in the big guns. Which brings us to the Inhumans and the birth of Quake! Pumped for this premiere!

Heroes Reborn

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It’s true. Heroes had a rocky last 2 seasons ending in it’s cancellation, but Heroes Reborn is here to fill the void left in our hearts after the end of Heroes. Last week’s 2 hour season premier was incredibly strong. New characters mixed with old favorites and a Brave New World is finally being realized. One to watch!

The Mindy Project

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Thank goodness for Hulu, who swooped in at the last minute to rescue The Mindy Project from cancellation hell. With Mindy and Danny expecting a baby, it was just too ripe for comedy to miss and Hulu knew what it was doing! The first 2 episodes were Mindy at her best, charming…neurotic and chock full of funny. With wonderful guest starrings from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Kunal Nayyar in episode 1 alone, season 3 of Mindy is bound to bring joy to everyone still watching…and you should definitely still be watching!

Arrow

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Arrow’s premier doesn’t air till Wednesday, October 7th. But season 2 left off with Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak riding off towards the sunset and away from Starling City. Season 3’s promos show Oliver on the verge of proposal (I might be one of the few humans who don’t ship Ollicity) being called back into active duty as The Arrow. With a new costume and the DC team gearing up for the premier of Legends of Tomorrow in 2016, this season of Arrow promises lots of action and even more of all that we love about the show already!

The Flash

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I may love Arrow, but I LOVE The Flash! The Flash brings a levity to the world of superhero-ing. Season 1 was the strongest performance of last season (if you ask me) and I am eagerly anticipating the premier of season 2 on Tuesday, October 6th.

Doctor Who

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I have to admit. The 12th Doctor’s story lines haven’t exactly won me over yet. But this new season starts with an epic guitar solo and a return of a favorite villain, the Daleks. With the Doctor’s current companion, Clara, on her way out and the eager anticipation of the one and only River Song (played by Alex Kingston) I’m ready to finally let the Doctor win my heart. (Probably just in time to have to say goodbye. That’s how this works!)

Supergirl

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Out of all the new shows this season, I am most excited to see CBS’s Supergirl. There have been mixed reviews so far. With the Superhero meets Devil Wears Prada angle in play, it could easily go either way. But I find that angle to be interesting and I find Melissa Benoit charming. So I have high hopes.

The Big Bang Theory

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What a way to start the new season of The Big Bang Theory, This show can at times be a little tired as it plays on the age old story of nerds who can’t get the girls. But Leonard and Penny have just tied the knot but there’s trouble in paradise only hours after tying the knot and Amy has broken up with Sheldon. So the stories do seem promising and I’ve always found the show (especially Jim Parson’s Sheldon) rather hilarious! I’ve already tuned in to the first 2 eps and I can’t wait to see where they take Amy and Sheldon’s relationship!

What are you watching this season and what are you enjoying so far?? Let me know in the comments below or come connect with me on social media!

30 Days of Nerdy Hair – Day 10

Day 10: Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) from Avengers: Age of Ultron

If you haven’t seen Avengers: Age of Ultron then you must be living in a dark cave somewhere, far away from civilization and a movie theater.  As of now, the movie has made over 1.3 billion dollars worldwide. So…yeah. It’s kind of a big deal. And if you’re looking for a favorite Avenger, allow me to present Black Widow! She is one seriously bad ass lady, especially since she has to deal with so many men. That a tough gig!

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Not to mention that Natasha’s hair manages to be ready for action and/ or a photo shoot at any given moment. If I had to kick bad guy’s butts on the regular, I promise you, my hair wouldn’t look this good all the time!

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Earth’s Mightiest Hair!!

#AvengerinTraining – Hawkeye Week

Pushing Through

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After hitting the wall during Thor Week, I was back on track and pushing through Week 5. Spring had returned, making morning runs a joy to complete! I really love to workout in the morning. I feel like it’s my personal time to get things done. Like the rest of the world is asleep and the early morning hours were made just for me. I live right across from Astoria Park in Queens and I love to run along the water. It’s a gorgeous view and if it’s a particularly warm morning, the breeze from the water feels wonderful. It’s definitely one of my happy places!

Week 5: Hawkeye Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Clint Barton was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor, when he was sent to the compound to keep an eye on a certain grounded Asgardian Prince. Barton, aka Hawkeye, is a proficient marksman in archery and joined the Avengers to help save the world from it’s biggest threats.

Jeremy Renner has been doing action films for a while now, The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, so stepping into the role of Hawkeye seemed like an easy fit (though I’m sure the workout regiment was not easy.) Renner is 44 years old, though you’d never know it. Take a look at his fitness regiment over at Muscle World.

Inspiration

Movies

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Avengers, Age of Ultron… duh. You can also go ahead and rewatch Thor if you’d like, since Hawkeye is introduced to the MCU in that one. I also added a couple excellent films starring Jeremy Renner. In Bourne Legacy, Renner takes Matt Damon’s place and runs around being awesome! Also, try Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol to keep with the spy spirit. And for good measure and an extra dose of archery, go ahead and watch The Hunger Games.

Music

Hawkeye is a warrior and a soldier, so I put a lot of music in this playlist that made me feel that way. Like I could run through bootcamp and finish the toughest challenges.

Meals

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For Hawkeye’s meal plan, I took my shopping list from CelebritiesExercise.com Honestly, I really believe that if you are watchful in your eating and keep to the simple rule of moderation, you could eat just about anything and maintain your health (with glaring exceptions of course.)

Weekly Workout Challenge

To channel my inner Clint Barton, I worked on my abs and did a crunch challenge. I know we see a lot of arms from Jeremy Renner, but the core always comes in handy, no matter which Avenger you are channeling! And since I have a serious sweet tooth, my stomach is one of my problem areas. All that sugar just sits right there. So working on the core and getting it strong was a big priority for me!

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Day 1: 30 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 2: 60 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 3: 90 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 4: Rest Day

Day 5: 150 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 6: 175 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Day 7: 200 Crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Make sure to take all the final day’s challenges from each Avenger with you into Captain America Week.:

-2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)

-Chest Flys, Dumbbell Chest Presses, Standing Shoulder Presses, Arm Curls (25 reps)

-40 Squats (2 reps)

-20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups

-200 crunches (Middle, Left, Right)

Extra Credit

Archery @ Big Apple Archery

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I loved archery! And Big Apple Archery in Queens is a really great place to learn. They do a great job of showing you proper technique and give you plenty of time to practice what you’ve learned. They have excellent equipment and a great range on which to practice. The class had a decent number of students, but wasn’t so full that it seemed overcrowded or anything. Plenty of room on the range for everyone in the class. I used a Groupon deal to take this class, but the first equipment rental is free and if you purchase a bow from there, the first class is free. Definitely worth a try!

Sports Conditioning @ Velocity Gym

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Photo from Velocity Sports Performance

Hawkeye is a warrior, a soldier, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. So I figured he’d have done a lot of different things to train. I took an intro class at Velocity where they focus on conditioning the whole body for different sports. We pulled weights, ran sprints (thought I was gonna die after the sprints) and worked with resistance bands. It was indeed a full-body workout! Every inch of me ached the next morning. An introductory class is free and when you walk in you might be a little intimidated, but don’t be. The instructors are really great and will help you make it through the whole class and finish strong. I trained with 3 other men on my team and it was a really great experience!!

Stay tuned for the following Avenger: Captain America. Check out Iron Man week,  Hulk weekBlack Widow Week and Thor Week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

#AvengerinTraining – Thor Week

Hitting a Wall

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

By week 4, I was tired. I just wanted to sleep. Scheduling was getting difficult. The nice promising Spring weather had turned cold and my motivation almost left me completely this week. Morning runs were hard to come by (because I don’t like running in cold weather.) So I had to find other ways to stay energized in the morning. One particularly lazy morning, I forced myself up and out of bed and I started making a list of reasons why I was doing this. Why did I want to train to be an Avenger? Why did I want to get healthy? Why had I given up my beloved mint chocolate chip ice cream? Was it really worth it?

After writing down 2 pages of reasons why I should continue on with this journey, I found out that I did believe it was worth it and I went out and ran, in the rain no less. It was never going to be easy to do this. And if you take that step towards a healthier life, it won’t be easy for you either. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Chris Hemsworth who has children and a wife and a job and a lot of things that demand his attention. And the world will be against you. I pass by 3 Dunkin Donuts on my commute to work every morning. Giving me not 1, but 3 opportunities to cheat. But this week, despite hitting a wall… I refused to. Something about reaching a limitation really made me want to kick it down and press through. It won’t always be this way. But it was this week!!

Week 4: Thor Week

Watercolor Art by Blule
Watercolor Art by Blule

Thor Odinson, god of thunder, ruler of Asgard, wielder of Mjolnir. Thor was born into a privileged life. He was raised to be a king of Asgard, along with his adopted brother Loki. Stripped of his powers, he was sent to Earth by his father, Odin, to learn the true meaning of kingly responsibility. Upon his return he was welcomed back and was shown to be a worthy prince of Asgard. When Earth was once again threatened by his brother, Loki, Thor joined up with the team known as The Avengers to fight the threat to Earth, home of his beloved Jane.

Chris Hemsworth plays the mighty god of thunder. To prepare for the role, Hemsworth started training with former Navy seal, Duffy Gaver. Gaver applied an “old school bodybuilding approach” to train Hemsworth. Take a look at the full article and  workout over at MuscleandFitness.com

Inspiration

Movies

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Avengers and Age of Ultron, are on the list as usual. Adding in Thor and Thor: The Dark World for all kinds of Asgardian goodness!  Thor is a great figure of mythology so I added Clash of the Titans to the list because it’s all about the gods and demigods of Greek mythology, to keep with that mysthological theme. And for good measure I added in Star Trek, the JJ Abrams reboot, which stars none other than Chris Hemsworth himself, as James T. Kirk’s ill-fated father.

Music

The music used in Thor and Thor: The Dark World have that heavy epic feeling to them, so I also added a lot of Star Wars music and other epic movie themes. Along with Carmina Burana. Anything that makes you feel like you are in a sweeping epic. This music definitely made me run with purpose!

Meals

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I crafted my meal plan based on what Chris Hemsworth ate during training. Take a look at HealthyCeleb.com

Weekly Workout Challenge

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Day 1: 5 Kettlebell Swings/ 5 Pushups

Day 2: 8 Kettlebell Swings/ 8 Pushups

Day 3: 11 Kettlebell Swings/ 11 Pushups

Day 4: 14 Kettlebell Swings/ 14 Pushups

Day 5: Rest Day

Day 6: 17 Kettlebell Swings/ 17 Pushups

Day 7: 20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups

By now you should have layered on the final day’s workout from Iron Man Week, Hulk Week and Black Widow Week. Take the last day of Thor week with you into Hawkeye week. It should look like this:

-2 sets of Full Front Planks (60 second hold, rest in between)

-Chest Flys, Dumbbell Chest Presses, Standing Shoulder Presses, Arm Curls (25 reps)

-40 Squats (2 reps)

-20 Kettlebell Swings/ 20 Pushups

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Photo by Cristina Fowler

Extra Credit

Kettlebell Kickboxing

Photo from Kettlebell Kickboxing

I chose kettlebell class because I thought the kettlebell could stand in for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. At Kettlebell Kickboxing they teach you a lot of different ways to utilize the kettlebell. They also incorporate some kickboxing and cardio into the routine as well. It made for a really great full-body workout! I brought a friend with me to this class and we were both smiling and sweating by the end. Intro class to Kettlebell Kickboxing is $20. A great class!!

Diesel Class @ Crunch Gym

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Photo from Crunch Gym

If there is one member of The Avengers who could be described as “diesel” it would be Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. So I decided to take Diesel Class at Crunch Gym for Thor Week. I didn’t quite know what I was getting into. It was an intense 60 minutes of weights, cardio and floor work. Cruch offers a free trial at their gym where you can take advantage of their gym equipment and/ or their classes. I’m a classes person myself and I really loved the group energy in this class as well as the unbridled enthusiasm of the instructor!! If you are a Crunch member or thinking of joining, definitely give this class a try!

Other options for Thor Week:

Weight Lifting

Other Kettlebell Classes

Helpful Tips

Here’s a list of tips that really helped me through this fitness plan. They are nothing new. They are nothing you couldn’t easily find online or in Shape magazine. But they are things that really worked for me and I hope will work for you, if you need that extra bit of motivation!

-Be honest with yourself – Try using a food tracker, I like My Fitness Pal. And make sure to be accurate in honest in your tracking. Lying only hinders your own progress. And unless you allow someone to be your accountability, you will be the only to know if you are creating a faithful accounting of your eating habits. But I truly believe that if you start being honest, even if it means tracking the 2 bowls of mint chocolate chips ice cream you ate one night, that you will start to change your habits because you want to see healthier stats. And because it will start to feel so good to make better choices. It did for me

-Stick to serving sizes – For dry goods and things that can be broken into portions, I tried to split up the portions way before meal time came around. For example, as soon as I got home from the grocery store I divided up the whole wheat pasta into ziploc bags with the correct portion size in each bag. Same with things like grapes or chips. Anything that would be easy to overeat in one sitting. That way when the time comes to eat the food you want, you can judge it based on an accurate portion and log it into your food tracker correctly. It’s ok if you need more that 1 portion of the food. But that’s where the honesty comes in.

-Shop the outer rim – When you go to the grocery store, try to stick to the fresh foods. Dairy, fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, etc. These can be found along the outer circle of more super markets. The aisles generally hold dry, preserved goods. Some of which you might need. But to eat cleaner, greener, healthier meals, the best things are the ones that might not survive a nuclear apocalypse (I’m looking at you Twinkie!)

-Keep what you like, ditch the rest – There’s nothing worse than a fitness plan that feels like it was meant for someone else. That’s why I want you to be able to take what you like from it. Sure, working out everyday, never losing focus and living only off the land is probably the healthiest way to live. But it’s not practical. I’m a firm believer that some effort is better than no effort. So even if you just do a weekly challenge or hit one class a week, it’s better than nothing. I went on Pinterest and just made a whole board of things that inspired me (after all, that’s what Pinterest is for!) This allowed me to visualize and then I went ahead and took the things I liked and ditched all the rest. Enjoyment is really half the battle!!

Stay tuned for the following Avengers: Hawkeye and Captain America. Check out Iron Man week,  Hulk week and Black Widow Week in case you missed them.

And make sure to comment below with any questions, comments, etc! And let me know if you are trying any of these. I would love to hear from you!!

To Thine Own Self be True

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Photo from Fashion by Mayhem

Today is National Shero Day! A day to celebrate dynamic women that inspire us and drive us to be better. And the Shero I want to talk about is not a woman yet, but she is an inspiration. She is 6 year old Mayhem from the amazing Instagram and blog Fashion by Mayhem. If you haven’t discovered the amazingness of Mayhem’s daily fashion creations, please check her out right now.

I’ve been following Mayhem for a while and I continue to be amazed by her personality and ability to stay herself. She is gaining more and more press and attention and it hasn’t changed her. I hope this continues. But it made me think of myself when I was a kid. And how growing up did change me.

When I was younger, I always used to try crazy style ideas that I’d come up with in my head. (Who would ever have thought me capable of such a thing?) Skirts over pants, multiple bindis on my forehead, fingerless glove sleeves. I even made my own homecoming gown in the 10th grade. Basically, if I had fun with it and liked what I saw when I left the house… I’d wear it.

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This gave me a reputation for being a weird kid. I would often be made fun of and not just by the mean bullies, but by close friends and sometimes family too. I don’t think they meant to be mean. They were just commenting on the vast difference between me and (seemingly) everyone else. They just didn’t get me. Didn’t get my style and as we see everyday, humans tend to persecute what they don’t understand.

So, somewhere along the way, right around Junior/ Senior years of high school, I started to do what the other kids were doing. I started to lose that confidence and style that was once so uniquely me. I took to wearing t-shirts and baggy jeans, because if no one notices you, then no one will be mean to you. And I let myself fade into the background. I quit the high school marching band and got low grades and just phoned it all in.

There’s a funny story I like to tell about taking my Senior school pictures. Right before I went into the room, someone told me I had the biggest smile. So big that they could see my gums. And I thought “well, that’s a horrifying thought.” When I walked into the photographer’s room, instead of flashing my big, bright, beautiful smile with the confidence of my younger self, my smile ended up looking like what I can only describe as the pinched smile of a person with zero self esteem. Basically I looked like I had been drugged! I let someone else’s comment on my appearance change one of my favorite features. I love my smile, but in a split second I made the choice to hide it because of someone’s words.

I know what you’re thinking… how can style effect someone so much. It’s not the clothes that mattered in this situation because there was a lot more going on under the surface. More than a drastic change in fashion sense. There’s usually more than what you see or what you think going on in any given situation.

For a kid who proudly wore her Wonder Woman pj’s as everyday clothes, this switch in style was an important red flag.

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It took many years for me to feel comfortable in my own skin again. And to eschew the opinion of others, mean or otherwise, in deference to not only my own opinion of myself, but God’s opinion of me.

I talk a lot about those awkward years of missteps and self discovery, because I was a hot mess (minus the hot.) I knew who I was, then forgot who I was, then tried to find who I was in the eyes of everyone else around me. This is universal stuff here. So I like to talk about it because, for the most part, I’m through it. I’m on the other side, gently patting my younger self on the head and saying, “Oh, little one. If only you knew what I know now. How much easier your journey would be.” And once again, I think this is not something that just little ole me has been through. And if someone out there reading this says, “Hey, I feel that way too” well, that’s why I share! Sharing opens the door on things that we are ashamed of. Our past, our shame, our embarrassment. By talking about these things, we take away the power they have over us.

Yeah, I was an awkward, weird kid. But I grew up. Though I’m still pretty quirky and weird. And people still think that remarking on my differences is somehow a nice thing. But if we hold onto these things then we never overcome them! So rise up. Rage against the machine. Don’t let the past win over your future. Cause God has better things planned for you!! And Mayhem wouldn’t like it!

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Why Superman is the hero we need and Batman is the hero we want

The world is already a dark place. Have you watched the news lately? There was yet another school shooting yesterday… dark!! In light of the upcoming Batman v. Superman movie, there has been much debate about the 2 superheroes. And for some reason Batman seems to be winning the popularity contest.

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He has never been my favorite superhero. Call me the eternal optimist, but I’ve always been a Supes girl myself! He’s the superhero we need. He’s the best of us. The one who makes the right decisions in the most impossible situations. The one who sees the best in humanity even when it makes no sense at all!

Bats

 

Artwork on Etsy by RetroInc

Batman on the other hand is the physical representation of who we currently are, not who we could be. I like the Bat! He’s gritty and real and bad ass! But as cool as he often is, he isn’t the best of us. And we as a culture want to be told that it’s ok to be that way. It’s ok to not be the best version of yourself because it’s your choice and your life and somehow that makes it ok.

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Artwork available on Society 6 by Pandreaa

Superman is the challenge. The ideal. The seemingly alien goodness that shines in the darkened world. We need that. We need the ideal. The hope. Because a world without hope is like a Gotham without Batman. And that’s not somewhere I ever want to live.

I Need a Hero…

It isn’t the least bit fair for the average modern man out there. But for a girl raised on Star Wars, Disney and Gone with the Wind, who had a brother that introduced her to The X-Men, Power Rangers and The Green Lantern. A girl raised on pure whimsical imagination… of course I need a hero. Or at the least, a man more than willing to dress up like one on Halloween and at ComicCon.

How is the modern man meant to compete with the paragons of truth, justice and tight pants that are constantly being put out there? (Not that I’m complaining.) Such heroic figures. Men in tights and men in capes. Men of steel and of iron. Men in long coats, leather coatsbrown coats. Men who wear masksfedoras, suspenders and bowties. Men in suits and men with swords. Men in breeches and in loincloths. Men who wear chucks and men named Chuck.

It isn’t fair. But it’s not my fault. Long ago, Prince Charming entered the picture. And at the tender age of 4 it was all over!! Next came Han Solo, and as you can see from the list above, the rest is history. But I don’t care. I have to believe in heroes. Because in actuality, being a hero isn’t about carrying a gun or going to war or even about saving a life. The truth is, rarely does the average person get such a blatant opportunity for heroics.

No, it’s much deeper. It’s integrity and character. It’s seeing the evils in this world and at the very least, at the bare minimum, it’s caring about change. Humanity is capable of true greatness. Great acts of good, great acts of evil. And it’s modern mortal heroes (men and women alike) who are charged with changing the world.

We don’t have the mythical super-powered good guys to look to in times of crisis. But there’s a reason we’re so drawn to movies with heroic figures. Movies like The Avengers and The Hunger Games. Because when we watch them we feel inspired to heroics. Even of the smallest kind.

So I say again… I need a hero. But at the same time, I need to become a heroine worthy of such a man, should he one day come knock down my door. Tights, swords, chucks and all.

Hey, a girl can dream!!