Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lessons Learned: August 2015


Another month bites the dust! August was a doozy. It was a really long, hard month. I think I'm still recovering from it, to be honest. One of the things that I learned from last month is that it's OK to take a step back and remove some things from your very full plate. I won't go into that again here because I wrote about that in my newsletter (sign up here so you don't miss out on the fun!), but I did learn some other valuable lessons from August that I want to share. 

{LOVE NEVER DIES}
I married a keeper. Well, obviously, I already knew that, it wasn't something I just discovered last month. My hubby and I have been together for 14 years. There aren't many surprises left when you've been together that long. All depths have been plumbed (that's what SHE said). We know everything there is to know about each other. 

But what does surprise me is that our love, which began when we were in high school, is still just as strong today. It may have changed and evolved over time. But it's there, always. My North Star, guiding me through some tough times lately. When I'm in my funk, just being in the same room together cheers me up. Or when our feet find each other under the covers. It's the little things. I noticed the other day when we were at the mall that we always touch each other. Maybe it's holding hands or just rubbing an arm or standing really close. It's like a reflex. I don't know what I'm trying to say other than I know I'm lucky to have a love like this.

OK, you can barf now. 


{DISTRACTIONS ARE... DISTRACTING}
Duh. But I've had a lot of trouble focusing lately. I've lost count of how many times I've started to do something and stopped midway and started something else and completely forgot what it was I set out to accomplish for the day. The TV will catch my attention or the kids will talk to me about something or the time-suck that is my phone will go off every 5 seconds. It's too hard to get anything done when I'm letting myself get pulled in a million directions. FOCUS is my word for September. 



My 3 favorite posts from August were:



What lessons did you learn in August? Come drop some wisdom around these parts. :) Ciao!



P.P.S. I am going to shave my head in support of raising money for childhood cancer research. Come check it out! 



Monday, August 31, 2015

Read All About It: We Were Liars #collaboreads

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


Hello, beauties! Guess what time it is? Round 3 of #COLLABOREADS, hosted by Rachel and Amber! It's a book review link up with a monthly theme. The best part is - you get to pick whatever book you want as long as it fits into the theme. The theme for August was: A book set in the summertime. 

{If you're interested, check out my previous #COLLABOREADS reviews for June and July.}

I chose a book that my lovely friend Shelly so generously gifted me a few months ago that has been on my TBR list for a while: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. 

Here's a brief synopsis from Goodreads: 
"A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth."

So, without further ado, here is my R.E.A.D.S. review! 

{Riveting} What part of the book could you NOT get enough of? 

The mystery. You know something happens to Cady and the rest of the "Liars", but you're not really sure what it is. I figured out the big "twist" pretty early, but I still couldn't wait to see how it would all be revealed. Cady is a part of the Sinclair family, a wealthy family that seemingly puts money before everything. Cady and her cousins get fed up with the manipulations and scheming of their parents who focus only on their inheritance and who will get what. 

{Elements} How did you relate to/care for the characters? What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns? 

I didn't really relate to the characters much as they were a group of wealthy teenagers vacationing on a compound. But I did relate to Cady and Gat's love story. Just because you are wealthy doesn't mean you are necessarily wise. Cady's grandfather didn't approve of her dating Gat because he wasn't like "them" - he was different. I remember very vividly growing up and being told by my mother all the myriad ways that everyone was "less than" and not good enough for me to be seen with, let alone date. What a crock of shit. But that's another story for another time.  

{Associate} What other books are like this one? If none, did it remind you of a particular TV or movie with its themes and characters? Does it serendipitous-ly line up with things going on in your life or the news right now? 

The book had a kind of "Sixth Sense"-ish feel - meaning, you spent a lot of the first half of the book following along with the plot, thinking things were one way, and then bam! You have to go back and re-analyze everything you just read because things were not what they seemed. I liked that aspect of the book very much. 

{Design} You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages? 


I liked the cover design well enough, I guess. There wasn't anything that really jumped out at me, but I can see how it relates to the story - young people enjoying a summer day. I read the ebook version on my Kindle, so there wasn't really much to note about the layout. 

{Stars} How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend?

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. I think the big twist could have been written a little differently to not make it so obvious so early. But otherwise, I enjoyed it. It really kept my interest because I wanted to see how exactly the circumstances came about. I also enjoyed the love story between Cady and Gat, it felt very authentic.  

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

+ “There is not even a Scrabble word for how bad I feel.” 

+ “The universe is seeming really huge right now. I need something to hold on to.” 

+ “He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.” 

+ “Silence is a protective coating over pain.”


Have you read "We Were Liars"? What did you think? What are some of your favorite summertime reads? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Also, the theme for next month's #collaboreads link up on Sept 28th is: Back to School. 


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: You Have Entered the Silent Zone


Welcome to Write or Die Wednesdays: A Writer's Link-Up! We are Vashelle and Mia inviting you to partake in some creative writing with us every other week.

                          

If you are new to this link-up and wondering what Write or Die is all about, check it out here!

The last episode of Write or Die Wednesday had us talking about our breakfast rituals, favorite breakfast foods, morning superstitions and more! What a fun prompt. If you missed it, you can check it out here!

This Write or Die is a free for all! We want you to link up your favorite post, whether it is from the archives or a new post on a topic of your choice. We can't wait to read what you all share!

IMG_3539


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I need some peace and quiet in my life. Lately, I've felt like there's been too much noise. My mind feels cluttered. Sometimes, when it gets to be too much, I go lay down in a dark, quiet room.

And sometimes I just want to be left alone with my thoughts.

My wish is to be enveloped in a cloud of pure, perfect silence. Preferably with soft pillows and fluffy blankets. And a metric butt-ton of books.  Oh, and coffee, of course.

Why is there so much noise these days? Phones chirping and ringing, making demands of us.

Shut your pie hole, NOISE. Let me think. Leave me be. Not all silences need to be filled. Shhhhh.


   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Monday, August 24, 2015

What I Can Do


These are the things I can do: 


I can listen.  

I can write. 

I can hold my liquor. 

I can speak another language. 

I can see the good in people. 

I can make a mean stir fry. 

I can laugh at myself. 

I can remember everything. 

I can love with all of my heart. 


What can you do? 


P.S. Don't forget to link up for Write or Die beginning on Weds, 8/26. This round, the prompt is a free for all. Write about whatever you want, and then come link up and join the fun. See you back here soon! 


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

If Life Hands You Oranges



I think we're all pretty well-versed in what we should do if life hands us lemons, right? What do you do, though, if life hands you oranges instead? 

See, oranges are tricky. There's the shiny, bright, happy outer layer. That's what the world sees first, right? It always makes us happy when we see it - makes us think of sunshine and summertime. Little globes of color and glee. 

But once you get past that peel, there's the bitter pith underneath. Nobody likes looking at that. They try to peel it off as quickly as possible. It's kind of a letdown after all that beautiful orange skin. Now there's just the flaky, dry, dandruff-y part. Little stubborn strings that stick to your fingers and won't come off. 

If you're patient, though, and stick with it, the bitter layer finally falls away and you're left with this juicy, meaty core. It's sweet. It's fragrant. It's a little orange puzzle, but the pieces all come together perfectly. There are little seeds of hope inside. You just can't always see them at first glance. 

If you give it just a bit more effort - I mean, you've come this far after all - you'll end up with the most delicious nectar of joy. Who doesn't want a glass full of that? 

I feel like an orange most days. Happy shell, bitterness below the surface, true substantial complex sweet self with seeds of hope inside. 

Who needs lemons when you can have oranges? 





Monday, August 17, 2015

Read All About It: The Ocean at the End of the Lane {+ Giveaway!}

Linking up for the Dreams, etc. Book Club discussion

I found this book to be very creepy! I didn't really know much about it going in, so the storyline really surprised me.  



The Summary:
"Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what."
What I Liked:
I really enjoyed that a majority of the book was told from the narrator's point of view from when he was just 7 years old. I think there's a certain magic that childhood holds for us - memories are more vivid, things just stick with you.

I also really enjoyed the interaction the narrator had with Lettie Hempstock, his 11-year-old friend and her mother and her grandmother. They just seem like women who are so wise, even young Lettie, and know so much about the world.

They were kind of like the guardians of the "good" world and did their best to keep bad things out and keep people safe.

I also really liked some of the imagery in the book. You can just picture what the woods look like when the boy is running through, or you can picture what Lettie's house looks like (even as it changes).

What I Didn't Like:
The "darkness" that is unleashed - while incredibly creepy - just didn't quite make sense to me. I don't think there was enough of a back story or explanation as to where the darkness came from. It was just sort of there and accepted as part of the story. I'm not someone who needs every little thing explained but I feel like we didn't get ANY explanation, so that bothered me.

Also, the imagery of the fabric as part of the darkness really creeped me out. We tend to think of monsters and creepy crawlies when we think of stories about things that go bump in the night. But the piles of rags and fabric... it just gave it this really sinister tone. I don't know, I can't explain it, if you read it, let me know what you think. :)

Favorite Quotes:
  • "Books were safer than other people anyway."
  • "I was not happy as a child, although from time to time I was content. I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else."
  • "Adults follow paths. Children explore."

My Rating:
3 out of 5 stars. 

Have you read it? What did you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 


Also, I'm joining my beautiful friends, Stephanie and Erica, for a really cool giveaway with prizes that are perfect for that photographer in your life. Mug, lens cap, phoneography starter kit... I know you won't be disappointed! Enter below. Good luck!  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: Choke


Welcome to Write or Die Wednesdays: A Writer's Link-Up! We are Vashelle and Mia inviting you to partake in some creative writing with us every other week.

                                  

If you are new to this link-up and wondering what Write or Die is all about, check it out here!

For our last round of Write or Die, we talked about pain. The inspiration came from a Khalil Gibran quote. There were some really brave stories shared and we hope you check them out. Thanks to all who participated!

And now, onward to our current prompt!


The prompt for the next two weeks is the word: Breakfast. Happy writing!







Breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day. That's what they always say, right? Start your day off right. Fuel your body. Jump-start your metabolism. All that jazz. 

I totally get it. And most days, I do eat breakfast. Eggs and bacon. Fruit. Breakfast shake. Something to help shake the hunger pangs. 

But some days, I wish breakfast would go pound sand. Some days, I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and everything annoys me. The birds chirping outside. The sunshine streaming through the windows. 

I get this sense of misery at the thought of the coming day. An hour alone with my thoughts in the car. Then 8 hours of nothingness. Unhappiness so thick I could cut it with a knife. My "fake it" button is broken beyond repair. 

I start eating my breakfast and it tastes like sawdust. It gets lodged in my throat, and I choke on the lump of despair, try to swallow the bitter pills. 

Don't you ever wonder at the point of it all sometimes? Here I am eating my shitty breakfast, and out there in the world at this very moment, people are dying, kids are going missing, water is being contaminated, marriages are ending, fires are raging, hatred is being spewed. 

I know what you're thinking - Whoa, Mia, it's just breakfast, what is your deal? And I have no idea. It's just been one of those days. The universe has peed in my Wheaties. 

And it would be easy enough to tell myself to cheer up or to snap out of it. And most times I do and I'm fine. But sometimes I just have to indulge it. Let myself feel the emptiness, the rage, the resentment. Choke it down like a big bowl of oatmeal. It's a small reminder that while I'm in my safe little bubble, there is real, and I mean REAL, tragedy happening out there all the time. And my problems become a little more ridiculous and minuscule. It serves as a wake-up call, of sorts. 

OK, so that was a little heavy, I apologize. But you know it's not always puppies and rainbows here at the Chaos Crib - Mama keeps it real. 

But now it's YOUR turn to share how the word "breakfast" inspires you. Link up your posts below! 

P.S. Don't forget to sign up for The Chronicles of Chaos newsletter for important info that you won't find on the blog!