Review: Jaybird Freedom Wireless Earbuds

It’s been quite a while since my last post. Exciting things have been happening in my corner of the world (I’ll get to those in my next post). A while back, I started having some trouble with my wireless Jaybird X2 earbuds. Despite being fully charged, I couldn’t get them to turn on. After charging them multiple times, I finally got them to turn on, so I went for a run. The next time I went to use them, I had the same problem.

I emailed Jaybird’s customer support about the issue. Since none of the “try this or that” they had recommended worked, they offered to replace my X2s, but since those were out of stock, they told me they’d be sending me the Freedom earbuds instead. Before agreeing, I did a lot of research to make sure what I was getting would at least be comparable to what I had.

Then, in order to get the new earbuds shipped, I had to cut the cord on my X2s. Let me tell you, this was a nerve-wracking experience. My thoughts were racing: “What if I accidentally emailed the wrong place and this was all some sick joke and I’m just out the money I spent? What if one of their customer service reps is pissed off and taking it out on me?” I did it anyway, because there was no way I was going to get those X2s to work consistently ever again. After sending them a picture confirming I had cut the wire, they notified me the Freedom earbuds would be on the way.

I received the Freedoms relatively quick and so far, I am extremely happy with them. They are much smaller than the X2s. Plus, the ear fins, which are designed to keep the earbuds securely in your ears, come in several more (smaller!) sizes, so I was able to use the extra small ones! The foam tips are also much, much nicer with the Freedoms.

You can see a comparison between the two in the pic below:

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Freedoms on the left, X2s (with cut cord) on the right.

You can see how much smaller the Freedoms are. The control panel (?) is a bit bigger and heavier, and that box next to the controls on the Freedoms is a battery pack. I haven’t tried running with that, because I think it would add too much weight. So far my biggest issue with the Freedoms is trying to find a good cord length for me. It comes with these tabs so you can shorten the cord. I’ve tried it almost as short as it goes, which was uncomfortable. I also tried an in-between length, but it would catch every time I turned my head to check before running across an intersection. I’ve tried running twice now with the cord as-is without the tabs, but that made the control panel bounce around too much, so I’m still trying to find a happy-medium with that.

Aside from the cord length, I’ve been extremely happy with these earbuds. They block out the sound really well (almost too well to be safe), fit comfortably, and most importantly, they stay put! They are small and discreet, so I don’t feel like a total dork walking around in these. If you’re looking for new (or your first) wireless earbuds, you can’t go wrong with the Freedoms. They are a little more expensive than the X2s (and I was fortunate enough to get the X2s on sale), but I think it’s worth it, especially if you struggle with earbuds fitting your ears like I do. I’m actually not sure you can still buy the X2s–I think they’ve been replaced with the X3s. But there’s about $20 difference between the X3s and the Freedoms, which is definitely worth it to have better-fitting earbuds.

As always, thanks for reading!

-AB

*Please note that this is not a paid review.

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12 Goals for 2017

In my last post, I talked about how I felt about my goals for 2016. For 2017, I’ve come up with 12 goals to focus on. I’m debating focusing on one per month (better get started if so!). I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media about picking a “word of the year”. I though a lot about it. I made a list of goals and words, but I just couldn’t pick any single word for my year. The ones that most stood out were Grow, Simplify, and Explore. I suppose I could say “screw it” and have three words. For now, I’ll just stick to my goals:

  1. Continue strength training. Since starting the Harder to Kill Challenge back in October, I’ve been strength training at least a couple times a week. It has really made a difference in how I feel and it’s something I want to continue this year.
  2. Practice more yoga. I’m currently participating in the Yoga Revolution challenge by Yoga with Adriene. It’s 31 days of yoga for the month of January. So far, I’ve done yoga every single day, and hope I can continue without breaking the streak.I really want to grow in my practice and I’ve considered looking into teaching.
  3. Travel more. My husband and I finally created a dedicated savings account for vacations and we’ve been fairly successful about building that up. We’re hoping to plan a trip this spring (location TBD), and maybe another, shorter trip this fall.
  4. Write more. I’m a writer. As in that’s my job; it’s what I get paid to do. And that’s completely awesome. Except that it sometimes means I don’t get around to blogging or doing the creative writing I want to do. I announced more than a year ago that I intended to write a book, but I’ve made very little progress with it. My goal this year is to make some progress.
  5. Read at least one book per month. That’s at least 12 books this year (and at least 12 reviews over on my other blog, Black Coffee Books). I’m hoping to exceed this goal, but I never seem to achieve the loftier 25 or 50 books a year. So maybe by setting a smaller one, I can surpass it and feel proud of my accomplishments.
  6. Create a business plan. I haven’t officially announced this one yet! But my husband and I are seriously discussing opening our own business in the next couple years. So my current goal is to figure out the start-up costs and create the business plan.
  7. Volunteer more. Although I had planned to volunteer last year, I never actually did. This year, I really want to become more involved in the things that matter to me. I want to look into volunteering at the library and maybe participate in a community clean-up event.
  8. Increase sustainability. By the end of last year, we were using cloth napkins pretty much exclusively in our home. My goal for this year is to continue finding ways to be more sustainable and create less waste. I got an amazing Starbucks travel mug for Christmas that I intend to start taking with me to the coffee shop so I’m not using paper cups as often. We’re also still using paper towels (although much less so now), so I want to find ways to reduce our dependence on those as well.
  9. Minimalism. Along the same lines of sustainability, I also want to focus on minimalism. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff we have. I want to be more mindful this year about the things I choose to buy and bring into my home. Is it something we really need? Are there other things I can get rid of to make space for the new? I’m also really intrigued by capsule wardrobes, but haven’t quite managed to start one. Maybe 2017 will be the year of the capsule wardrobe.
  10. Focus on my marriage. I want to have the best marriage we can possibly have, so I want to do what it takes to improve our communication and other aspects of our relationship. I think doing so will go a long way in our happiness for the year and in the long run.
  11. Spend less time on social media. I’m as guilty of it as everyone else. I check social media every free chance I get (and sometimes when I’m really not free to do so). I only half-listen to things my husband tells me if I’m scrolling through Facebook while he’s talking. It has interfered with my work and frankly, it’s just exhausting. I get more and more frustrated with it every single day. I think at some point in the very near future I’m going to take a hiatus from social media. If/when I return, I plan to severely limit the time I spend on those sites.
  12. Spend more time outside. Because I work from home, I never have to leave the house (which is totally awesome sometimes). Of course, right now, it’s freezing outside and I don’t want to leave the house. However, I know it’s definitely not good to stay cooped up inside all the time. So I really want to make more of an effort to get outside when I can (especially if the weather is nice). I want to go on a few hikes this year, and I need to get back into taking my dog for nice long walks.

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Somehow, running didn’t make my top 12 goals! I do have some running goals this year though! I want to run a few more 5ks and potentially run my first 10k sometime this fall (before it gets too cold). Right now, I’m focusing on yoga and strength training because I refuse to run when the temps are below freezing. I think both of these will help me ease back into running when the time comes.

What are your goals for 2017?

As always, thanks for reading.

-AB

Reflections on 2016

Just before the start of the new year, I blogged about my goals for 2016. Below are my 2016 goals and how I feel about them. I’ll be doing a separate post on my goals for 2017.

  1. Eat Healthy. I feel like this has improved, especially since we moved back to St. Louis. While we were in Dallas for the first part of the year, I feel like we almost felt like we were on vacation (at least when it came to food). Trying new restaurants and finding new places we loved was one of the more exciting things about our new city. Unfortunately, most of those restaurants served less than ideal foods. After we moved back to St. Louis, I feel like I turned things around with my diet. I have still struggled at finding the right balance with my food sensitivities, but lately, I feel like I’ve been doing well.
  2. Be Active. I improved in this area immensely. While we were living in Dallas and I was unemployed, Copper and I were going on at least two walks a day. Most of these walks were two to three miles. In one month, we walked over 100 miles together. On top of that, Chris got me a yoga membership for Christmas last year, so I was taking classes several times a week. After we moved back to St. Louis, I got sick, so it took me more than a month to get back into an exercise routine. But I started going to yoga twice a week again. Then I ran my first and second 5ks of the year and also started strength training thanks to the Harder to Kill Challenge. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made in the last half of the year and hope to continue my progress in strength and running in the coming year.
  3. Read More. I’m not quite where I wanted to be with this goal. I read intermittently while we were in Dallas. After I started my copywriting gig, it became more and more difficult to have the energy to read after work. Once we moved back to St. Louis, I got back with my book club and am in the midst of my second book with them. In an attempt to read more, I started a book review blog. I have not yet reviewed any books, though.
  4. Unplug More Often. I’ve made some progress here, but not a ton. I really struggled to sleep in Dallas, due to living in a noisy apartment complex in a noisy neighborhood (a mere two-ish miles from the airport!). So I tried to stop checking my phone after a certain time. I tried reading before bed. Nothing ever really worked. I finally started sleeping better once we moved back home. I’m still trying to limit my time on my phone and checking social media, especially. I think in 2017 I’m going to do a social media detox, at least for a while. It has become overwhelming in recent months and I want to spend less time there.
  5. Be Present. This one was connected to my goal to unplug. In unplugging, I aimed to be more present. I have tried to avoid checking my phone during meals and at family gatherings, but I don’t always succeed. Lately, I’ve also tried to limit my phone use even when I’m eating alone. This is another goal that will take some more work in the coming year.
  6. Drink More Water and Tea. I wanted to drink more water and tea and less alcohol. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve really succeeded or not. In most cases, I’m at least a little bit more mindful of when and what I drink. If I’m going to drink a beer, it’s going to be a really good craft beer that’s totally worth it. I do drink a lot more tea than I used to, which I have really enjoyed. Lately I’ve been trying to drink a cup of tea before bed to help me wind down at the end of the day.
  7. Be Kinder to Myself and Others. I’ve been pretty successful with this one, especially after moving back to St. Louis. I have taken more time to be kind to myself by doing yoga, finding ways to re-energize, and get rest. I went on a day-long yoga retreat in early November and participated in the Harder to Kill Challenge. Being kind to myself has always been difficult, but I think I’ve made some great strides in how I think and speak to and about myself.
  8. Have Better Relationships. This one tied in with unplugging, being present, and being kinder. It was especially important to me to stay connected with family and friends after we moved to Dallas. I made more of an effort to send cards to friends and family for birthdays and holidays. And although it was difficult, I tried to make a point to call people more, like my parents and grandma, (I know this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I really don’t enjoy talking on the phone). Our time in Dallas was pretty challenging as a newly married couple, but I think we are better now having gone through that experience together.  
  9. Budget: Reduce Debt, Increase Savings. I had lofty goals with this one. I did, thankfully, make some small gains here, though. We paid off only one credit card debt this year. We did, however, increase our savings. In fact, just a few months ago, we opened up two more savings accounts. We now have an emergency savings, as well as one for car repairs and home renovations, and one for vacations. We had an unexpected expense come up about a month ago, and it felt good knowing we had enough in savings to cover it. It sucked using it since it had taken quite a while to build it up, but thankfully, we didn’t have to use it all. So now we’re working on building the emergency savings back up to where it was and beyond. I’m hoping to really hit our debts hard in 2017 and make a bigger impact there. It felt really, really great getting that first card paid off, so I want to continue that momentum in the coming year.
  10. Write More. This wound up being a big success and not much of a success all in one. I got a job as a freelance copywriter, so writing is currently my full time job. I spend between six and eight hours a day writing. I also did a fairly decent job of maintaining my previous blog back when we were in Dallas. After we moved to St. Louis, I really lost the motivation because I was sick and trying to get everything unpacked and get readjusted. On the creative side, I have not written much of anything this year. I have had plans to write a memoir, and I still want to do so, but I made very little, if any, progress on it this year. I’d really love to get into the habit of writing for pleasure a little every day in the next year.
  11. Find a Job I Love. Well, I get to write every day, and when people ask, I get to tell them I’m a writer. I get paid to write. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. Freelancing has its own challenges though. Dealing with taxes and health insurance is all frustrating and overwhelming. And although I do have a steady gig right now, the pay is not the same from month to month, which makes number nine on this list more difficult. Overall though, I do enjoy the work I do, so we’ll call this one a win.

Those were my primary goals for 2016. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. What were your goals for 2016? Where did you succeed and where did you struggle?

I’ll be back soon with another post about my 2017 goals–stay tuned!

-AB

Turkey Trot Recap

I wanted to write this a little sooner, but things have been busy with the holidays. Last Thursday on Thanksgiving I woke up early and we drove out to Edwardsville so I could run in their Turkey Trot 5k. It was my first ever Turkey Trot. Why Edwardsville? Because Chris’s company was sponsoring the race. Plus I figured the course would be much flatter than the ones closer to home!

Unfortunately, it was a bit colder in Edwardsville than it was in Florissant, but once I started running, it wasn’t so bad. They had a wave start based on your estimated pace and finish time. I was one of the last groups to go, lol. Thankfully, I was right, and the course was pretty flat. It ran along a trail in town that was a little narrow, but fine otherwise. The course also went through parts of SIUE. There was one BIG hill during that part of the race, somewhere in mile 2, I think.

After that, it was pretty flat and smooth. I managed to keep my pace under 12 minutes/mile throughout the entire race. My official time was 35:53 and my official pace was 11:35. I don’t remember my official time or pace from my last 5k in October, but my time was around 38 minutes. So I improved quite a bit in just one month’s time.

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Pre-Turkey Trot

The rest of Thanksgiving was spent with family. We had lunch with Chris’s family and dessert later with my family. I did not attempt to eat paleo or Whole30 at either of those meals. But I was mindful of what I ate. I ate some of the mac ‘n cheese I made, along with turkey, stuffing, salad, and a sweet potato. Chris’s mom made pecan pie and that’s one of my favorites, and I only get it once a year. So I had some pie. Worth it.

I ate gluten and I ate dairy. And I probably ate eggs in some form. I felt okay afterward. I got back to eating paleo this week and have felt much better. I’ve been avoiding eggs, dairy, and gluten in particular. I even remembered not to eat the skin on my baked potato yesterday. It’s not perfect, but it’s practical 😉

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! I’ll be back soon to tell you all about my Harder to Kill Challenge, as it will be wrapping up this weekend!

-AB