Where has November gone?

(Warning: Unfocused, word-dump blog post ahead.)

Well, as you can tell by my lack of NaNoWriMo updates, I clearly didn’t get very far. I hate making excuses for things, but my goal of participating in NaNo was not really met. I mean,  I did do some writing. Just not very much. Between starting a new job, the holidays, and the never-ending drama that is being back home with family… let’s just say November was not my month to sit and be a productive writer.

As I mentioned in my last post, I started a new job. I work for an insurance company now. I know, a HUGE change from working for Disney, but it is challenging and the atmosphere and people are great. The hours are perfect and allow me to have my evenings, weekends, and holidays which is awesome because I’m preparing for an upcoming audition! I’m finally getting back into performing after… almost two years. Yikes! But, yay!

I’ve been spending almost all of my free time with family and friends, which has been a complete blessing. I’ve missed out on the last seven or eight Thanksgivings so it was great to see family I haven’t seen in ages. (Even if I did have bronchitis during the whole week.)

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Yesterday, I started and finished 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman which is honestly not something I’d ever thought I’d be interested in reading. I’m what you call a hardcore skeptic, but I actually started and finished it in one sitting. The focus of the book is on love for married couples (and it bugs me how it only focuses on male-female relationships but, that’s a whole other ball of wax.) Now, I’m clearly not married, but the book also discusses how this type of love resonates with children, family, and friends. I am always losing touch with friends and loved ones, going back to my introverted roots because it is where I am most comfortable. However, I hate how that can sometimes come across as a desire to lose or separate people from my life. So, I thought it would be a good read to see how I can become more aware of what others need to feel loved/fulfilled and maybe it will help me in that regard. I want to be close to people, but I fail at that quite often and I think this book is maybe a stepping stone to get to where I want to be and how I want to maintain my relationships.

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Tonight, while relaxing in the tub I started Mindfulness for Everyday Living by Christopher Titmuss. I’ve mentioned my interest and practice of Mindfulness in the past, and though I’m nowhere near an expert on the subject, I do utilize my version of it on a consisten basis. One of my main problems is that my mind races when I lie in bed. Even if I am super exhausted and feel like I’m dying for sleep, my brain just doesn’ shut off. Well, after watching a few videos on Mindfulness meditation and breathing, I’ve become pretty good at not letting myself get lost in the endlessness of thought, worry, and anxiety. On most nights, I’m able to calm my mind and my anxiety to a level where I am able to sleep. That has made a world of difference for me. Like I said, I just started it and hopefully it will prove fruitful as I continue reading it.

December begins this week. I can’t believe it. That means it’s down to the grind at work, so I expect to have some tired evenings ahead. But, I’m trying to get back into a good balance between work and life, so hopefully that will keep me sane this month. I also have lots of Christmas shopping I would like to get done so that will also keep me busy, but I love gift-giving so I’m excited for that.

I’m not really sure where this blog post has gone. It’s become more of a diary entry/book review. I originally intended it to be a bit more focused, but I guess this is where my mind wanted to go tonight. Hope you don’t mind.

As always, thanks for reading. Have a Happy December!

Until next time! ❤

 

Final NaNo Word count: 3,450

Permission to Create

When I was in elementary school, we used to have these projects where we were given these blank books. Completely white cover with completely blank, white paper. If I remember correctly, we called them Bare Books. I’m not completely sure on the name, but I do know that when it was that time of the school year, all the students would get SO excited. We filled them with stories, pictures, answers to questionnaires our teachers gave us, and whatever else our heart desired.

I was always a horrible artist. I could draw a mean stick figure and a pretty awesome tree with a sun, but that was the extent of my art skills in elementary school. (Who am I kidding? That’s still about all I can do!) However, we were always tasked with designing the cover of those books along with filling them out. I’m pretty sure I remember one year I drew a stick figure girl who was supposed to be me with a giant rainbow. Did it have anything to do with the stories inside? Nope. I just liked drawing rainbows and coloring with all of the markers.

Anyway, I started to remember those books while I was at a bookstore recently. I thought about how much I looked forward to writing in those books. I loved creating stories, characters, lands, scenarios, everything. I loved it.

Then, I got sad because I remembered how much school ruined reading and writing for me. Reading became something I sped through so I could take the Accelerated Reading test and get the most AR points. Writing became a chore because in Texas, you have to take these standardized tests at the end of the year to determine if you pass that grade or not. If your writing didn’t fit perfectly into their cookie-cutter mold of what a “successful paper” would be, then you failed the writing test.

I could go on a whole entire rant about how much I hate standardized tests and how absolutely horrible they are for students, but that’s another topic for another time. What I would like to talk about is how to get that passion back. How to not look at your writing, your artwork, or whatever your creative passion is with such a critical eye. How do you give yourself the freedom to create without limitation?

I’m constantly looking at my blog posts, my short stories, and wondering, “Oh wait, am I making grammatical sense? Did I use the correct punctuation? Am I using enough adjectives?” I think, in my mind, it’s because I’m so used to a “good paper” being something that checks all of these things off on a list. My work isn’t valid unless it meets specific criteria that someone somewhere deemed determinate of good work.

This is where I have to remind myself that creativity should not be measured. You should never compare your creative self to that of another. That would be like picking up a paintbrush and giving up because your art doesn’t look like Monet’s or sitting at the piano and comparing yourself to Bach. It can’t be done. It shouldn’t be done.

Not everything is black and white. Not everything can be measured and I’m sick of people calling creative work “good” or not. Something being “good” is so relative that it can’t be measured by any scale, list, or table. Never create anything with the goal of people calling it “good.” You’ll never be satisfied.

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So, the next time you want to sing a song, write a book, or create something from your heart, give yourself permission to do so with no hesitations and without apologies.

Until next time ❤

Word count: 2,719

Necessary Lies – Diane Chamberlain (Book Review!)

Hi, folks!

Hope you’re all having a wonderful week. I figured I would do something a little different for this post. Since I was sick in bed last week, I got a good amount of reading done, which I always mean to do more of but always make excuses not to… Anyway, I figured I’d give a little bit of a review of one of the books I read.

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Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

I bought this book last year when I discovered the website, Book Depository. I had heard wonderful things about the author, and the little blurb I read sounded interesting so I decided to add it to my cart. There was a 50% off promotion going on, so I got a really great deal on it.

When I tell you I read this book in one sitting, I’m not even exaggerating. Granted, I was sick in bed at the time, but it was a book I just could not put down.

It’s considered Historical Fiction and centers around two characters, Ivy and Jane, who live in North Carolina in 1960 when the “Eugenics Program” was still in full swing. It had been banned most places because it was said to be too much like Hitler’s attempt at creating a “Master Race,” but in North Carolina, it continued on until the mid 1970’s.

Jane is a newlywed who wants not to be a housewife like all the other women of her time, and instead gets a job as a social worker, much to her husband’s dismay. This is how she meets Ivy, a 15-year old girl who is basically taking care of her elderly grandmother, 17-year-old sister, and her sister’s 2-year-old toddler. They live in poverty and rely on charity and the few cents they make working on a tobacco farm to survive, but by the time Jane gets the family’s case, she can see that they are doomed if she doesn’t step in.

Aside from the blatant racism, the horrors of sterilizing people without their knowledge and then lying to them about the sterilization, Jane’s husband, Robert is probably the most loathsome character in the entire book. All he wants from her is a housewife who cooks and cleans and doesn’t talk so much. He’d rather her, “Shut up and look pretty,” which made me want to throw the book across the room multiple times. However, I knew that the tone of the book wasn’t in support of those behaviors and I had to keep remembering it was based on a southern family in the 1960’s, but I couldn’t help feeling completely enraged every time he would speak.

Ivy, as a character, is absolutely wonderful. The poor girl has had to grow up so fast and doesn’t realize how incredibly gifted she is, despite what the rigged I.Q. test says. (Part of how they determine who needs to be sterilized.) Each page brought me closer and closer to these two characters and seeing their relationship grow and change just kept me wanting more.

I’ll be honest, I had NO idea that the “Eugenics Program” was ever a thing in the US. I’m from the south, and we never talked about it during history, so I was appalled at the thought and am now doing research so that I can become a little more educated about the subject. As the book says multiple times, it is way too much like Hitler’s desire to create a master race of what he considered the “best,” and it mortified me that this was happening in our country less than 60 years ago. It’s petrifying.

I encourage you, if you want to read a book that will both break your heart and lift your spirits, AND has some awesome female characters, you pick up this book and give it a shot. This has definitely made me a Diane Chamberlain fan and I can only hope that I enjoy her other works as much as I did this one.

Are you reading any books right now? If so, which ones? Also, which genre do you usually prefer? Like I said, I’ve never found myself to read historical fiction outside of school, but this book just might be what introduces me to a whole new world of stories I’ll enjoy. Now, to choose which book I should read next…

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Until next time! ❤

Here’s to another year

Well, here we are. I’ve been back home in Texas for a little over a week now and it has been so relaxing. It’s been really nice to spend time with family that I usually only get to see once a year.

Christmas came and went way too quickly, but I notice that I really don’t mind it that much. I enjoy my family time and celebrating, but I was looking forward to just having a few chill days where I can just clear my head and recover.

That’s the one thing I am bad about when it comes to my depression and anxiety – giving myself enough time to heal. I usually just tell myself to suck it up and get over it, but it really just doesn’t work that way. It’s still really hard to fight through the overwhelming sadness on a daily basis, but I am making sure to take time to relax and rest, which is helping. At least, I think it is.Too bad there’s not just a “How-To” on this kind of stuff, but I hope I will grow and learn from it all in the end. That’s what is really keeping me going.

Now, I just need to work on eating better and working out. Being here in the south, everyone is always trying to feed you and if it’s not fried, then it’s covered in butter or sugar. Don’t get me wrong – I *LOVE* it – but, it’s just not healthy to live on. Cutting out soda is going to be the hardest thing for me, I think. Dr. Pepper flows like water here and I’ve found myself going from one every couple of days, to multiple a day. It’s bad, and I can tell it’s affecting my health and energy.

So, here’s to a 2015 in which I take care of myself and don’t let my own mental illness control me. A 2015 in which I take big, scary steps to be happy and start a life for myself. A 2015 that I can look back on at the end and truly say that it was a happy year.

Until next time! ❤

P.S. Here’s a little preview of a post I’d like to do about what I got for Christmas. SO mnay great books this year!

My Holiday Wishlist

Alright, so with the holidays coming up, I know we are all making lists in our head for Santa to check, right? 😉

I thought I would post a few of the things I have on my wishlist this year and maybe get some recommendations from you about things I should add or gifts I should purchase for a few friends of mine.

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Wreck this Journal Everywhere by Keri Smith

I have seen many a blogger and YouTuber talk about Wreck This Journal and other similar books. I feel like I would love having this around for when I am feeling down, or like I need a creative outlet. I feel like it would be fun to do one of the activities a day and maybe I could track my progress here on my blog.

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ZLYC Knee-High Rain Boots

I go through rain boots like nobody’s business here in Minnesota. Who knows about Florida, but I do know how much it rains there in the late Summer and Fall, so I can’t imagine I wouldn’t get much use out of them. I feel like these red boots are just so classy and they’ve gotten good Amazon reviews, so I feel like they would be great to add to my list.

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Once Upon a Dream: From Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty to Disney’s Maleficent

It’s not secret that Sleeping Beauty is my favorite Disney movie of all time, Aurora is my favorite princess, or that Maleficent is my favorite Disney character. I have so many collectibles from that movie, but I realized that I don’t own any literature about it at all. I love the history of fairy tales and how the Disney company has “Disney-fied” so many of them by giving them happy endings and such, so I feel like this book would give me a fun journey into the history behind one of my favorite stories. Plus, I hear the artwork inside it is incredible.

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Real Techniques Core Collection Brush Set

I use all e.l.f. brushes for my makeup and while they do get the job done, I have had to replace them a time or two because of natural wear, or some of them have broken apart and it can get frustrating. Granted, for $1-3, it’s hard to complain about them. I feel like I have heard every single YouTube beauty guru and blogger talk about the Real Techniques brand, and when I saw they are offering this basic set of brushes and case online for under $12, I jumped at the chance to add them to my wishlist.

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Mrs. Potts and Chip Action Figure by Funko POP!

As I’ve spoken about in previous posts, I am an avid Vinylmation collector and I really enjoy the way they look on display. I’ve managed to get this far in my adult life without purchasing any of the Funko figurines; mainly because I know myself and I wouldn’t be able to stop. However, upon making my wishlist this year, I caved and added a few of my favorite Disney characters to the list. I figure, I’m not purchasing them, so I can’t feel too guilty, right? Haha. 😉 Anyway, I can totally see how people get sucked into these and I hope to only collect a few that would mean the most to me. Besides, how can you resist these cuties!?

Alright, enough online window shopping. Time to get ready for work. What are some items on your holiday wishlist this year? I’m horrible at gift-giving, so I would love some recommendations on what to get for some of my friends this holiday season.

Thanks, as always for visiting.

Until next time! ❤