Sunday, December 27, 2015

Holiday Coffee Thoughts

Want more Coffee Thoughts? Check out the September 2015 edition

These are my Holiday Coffee Thoughts. 


Christmas went by too quickly. I wasn't prepared for it, like I normally am. I felt like everything was so last minute. And work has been absolutely crazy busy, so the little things that I normally do got pushed to the wayside.  I NEED A DO-OVER. 


I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I'm 32, I should probably know by now, right? Does anybody ever know? I used to be super concerned about job titles and salary. Now, I couldn't care less. I feel like the important things in life are all outside of the workplace. But, bills. 


Christmas time in New York is spectacular. I know, you're tired of me talking about New York. I won't go on and on about it again (at least for this year! ha), so here's my NYC trip post in case you missed it. 


I love these two little elves. 



Christmas is way better than New Year's, in my opinion. Christmas makes me think of family, fun times, laughs, good food. New Year's makes me think of all the shit I said I was gonna do during the year, and didn't. I mean, it won't stop me from saying a bunch of new shit that I'm going to do for 2016. But still. 


Where was the snow, Mother Nature?!! You sneaky little wench. This 70 degree Christmas stuff just does not cut it. At ALL. Again, I need a do-over! 


I am obsessed with quirky Christmas ornaments. Those beautiful trees that you see on HGTV with the themes and the perfectly color-coordinated ornaments... yeah, you won't find those at my house. We have such a random, completely awesome assortment of ornaments that we've accumulated through the years. 98% of them are crafty ornaments that the kids made in school. And the other 2% are Penn State ornaments that my hubby collects.


I'm so over Elf on the Shelf. Chippy the Elf can go kick rocks. He sits in our kitchen 365 days a year because I'm too lazy to put him away. And I tell the boys that he's there to watch them all year long and report back to Santa, so they have to remember to always be good, not just at Christmas time. Does it work? Meh. But at least I don't have to move him around or whatever. 


I'm leaving the decorations up until Spring. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating just a smidge. But I feel like they should be appreciated and admired for longer than a month. 


I didn't send out Christmas cards this year. Epic fail. Like I said, I felt like time just went by so quickly that I barely had a chance to breathe and then BAM, Christmas was over. So... I'm sorry to any of my lovely friends and family who were expecting a card from me. I'll make it up to you next year and send 2. :) I might get wild and crazy and send cookies, too. 


So, these were my Holiday Coffee Thoughts. Now that the Christmas whirlwind is winding down, what are some of your thoughts? Did it go as expected? Share your thoughts below. 


P.S. Don't forget to join Andrea and me for the ABC Reads 2016 reading challenge! We'll begin on Jan 1st. The goal is to read 26 books for the year, each one with a title that starts with a letter of the alphabet. Sounds awesome, yes? Join us! 




P.P.S. Use code CHRONICLESOFCHAOS to get 15% off any issue of Holl & Lane Magazine! Issue 5 launches on January 1st, 2016. 
HollLaneMagazine

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

All I Want for Christmas...


... is nothing. At least, nothing you can buy in a store. Don't get me wrong, I like presents as much as the next girl and usually around this time, I post a Christmas wishlist of some sort here on the blog. But I can truly say that I have every "thing" that I need, and then some. What I truly want is an intangible thing that can't be purchased at Target or Amazon Prime. What is that thing? Well, I'm glad you asked. 

Here's what I really want for Christmas this year. 

Kindness.

When did we all become so jaded? When did we all begin to think, "Homelessness, poverty, hunger, joblessness, illnesses - these are so not my problem"? A little bit of kindness and sympathy goes a long way. Not everyone is blessed with the same tools, resources, funds as others. Yes, we'd all be mortified if we were that mom standing in line at the grocery store, only to hear that her card has been declined. But instead of getting irritated that she's holding up the line, maybe you have a few extra dollars to spare and help her out. Maybe you ask her, "which of these things is an absolute necessity and you need it right NOW?" and then you buy it. Or maybe you don't have any extra funds, so you volunteer to help her pack up her cart and go over to customer service so they can sort it out. I guarantee you, she will remember your kindness and likely pass it on to someone else when she can. 

Have clothes you don't wear anymore? Donate them to Goodwill. Purchase a few extra toys for the Toys for Tots program. Donate pet supplies to a local animal shelter. Take a second to jot down a quick Thank You card to your mail carrier, for all that s/he does all year round. Hold the door open for someone. See a man looking a little confused at the perfume counter? Ask him if he needs help picking out a fragrance. Little things have such a big impact. Little things leave a long-lasting impression. 

Kindness is the best and biggest present you can give someone. I wish for kindness this holiday season, and every other part of the year. For me, for you, for others. 

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” 
― Henry James




Sunday, December 20, 2015

Awake in the City That Never Sleeps

Times Square, Dec 12th around 1:00am

There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless. -Simone De Beauvoir

Can I just say that I'm having a love affair with New York? I can't wait to go back! There are so many things to do and see. OK, let me back up and start at the beginning. 

In late October-ish, my friend Andrea and I were talking about Stephen King books and that "Misery" is playing on Broadway (starring Bruce Willis!). We had briefly talked about getting tickets and going to see the show, but it didn't work out on my end due to schedule/cost. And I was really bummed about it. 

Then in early November, I suggested to Charlie that we take a bus trip to NYC because I could get discounted tickets through my job at the time. When I went to the ticket office to make the purchase, the bus trip was already sold out. I was even MORE bummed and whined that I really wanted to go and wanted to see NYC at Christmas time, etc. 

Well, my sweet hubby decided to surprise me and booked a room for us and we planned a quick trip to The Big Apple last weekend. It was so much fun during the car ride, it reminded me of our younger days. 

Due to traffic and construction, our 5 hour drive ended up being almost 7 hours. We didn't check into our hotel room until 11:30pm. We quickly dropped off our stuff in the room and ventured out into the night. We of course had to see Times Square and Rockefeller Center and wandered around just taking it all in. 




Side note, the tree at Rockefeller Center does not stay lit 24 hours a day. You can kind of see it in the background of this picture. So don't go see it at 1:00am like we did that first night. 

We finally went back to the room and crashed. We woke up early the next morning and took a trip to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum which I wrote about previously, but here are a few more pictures from that visit. 


One World Trade Center (can you see the teeny tiny window washers on the top right side of the building? Shew, I couldn't do it, not for 500 billion dollars!)

9/11 Memorial Pool



I'll say it again to anyone who hasn't been - GO. Such a moving experience. We also went to Battery Park and had a leisurely breakfast and saw the NYPD memorial and the beautiful views from the Hudson River. 

After that, we decided we were ready for some cheering up, so we made a stop to Senor Frog's for some lovely libations and chips and salsa. Then, we went to Madame Tussaud's wax museum. 


After that, we went to Bryant Park to see the many vendors for the Christmas Market (thanks for recommendation, Kimiko!). 



We wandered for a bit, but then decided we could use a rest and go somewhere to sit for a little while. We decided to go to the movies and saw "Legend" with Tom Hardy. It was so good! Plus, going to a movie theater that is like 3 or 4 stories is really weird and cool at the same time. I lost track of how many escalators we rode from the ticket counter to the concession stand to the theater. 

After the movie, we headed over to Bill's Bar and Burger at Rockefeller Center to meet Andrea and her hubby for dinner. We made a quick stop at the tree and this time, it was lit up and beautiful! 


Dinner was a blast. There was college football smack-talk, book talk (my fave!), great food, and great company. :) After dinner, we decided to go over the NY Public Library and get our picture taken. 

I stole this picture from Andrea's Instagram!! :) 
After we said our goodbyes to Andrea and Chris, Charlie and I began our long trip back home. We were sad that the trip had come to an end, but we both knew immediately that we would be back. And we are already planning a trip for 2016!! The NY love affair continues. Until next time! 

A souvenir from our trip!

As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world.   -Pearl S. Buck



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: Stay Tuned!


Hi there, WODW-ers! You may have been expecting a prompt and a link up today, but my lovely friend and cohost Shelly and I have decided to take a little hiatus for the holidays. We know that everyone is busy this time of year, so we want to wish you a super amazing awesome wonderful holiday season. WODW will be undergoing some improvements and we'll be back to share the changes with you at the beginning of 2016! 

Hugs and high fives to all. 



Monday, December 14, 2015

The Hurt and the Hope



My hubby and I just got back from a trip to New York City. We had an amazing time, and I'll share what we saw and all the fun things we did later in another post. But there was something that I experienced that really stuck with me and I want to share that with you first. 

September 11, 2001. Better known as 9/11. I think all of us who were alive that day can pinpoint exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard of the terrorist attacks. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives that day. Think about that for a minute. Think about the person you love most in the world, and multiply that person by 3,000 and that's still not enough to describe the pain and heartbreak that the victims' loved ones dealt with (and continue to do so). 

Charlie and I got up early Saturday morning and took a taxi to the 9/11 Memorial Plaza and Museum. There were people standing around holding hushed conversations. The names of the victims are inscribed in bronze around the memorial fountains and there were people gently rubbing their hands across the names. There was also a man painstakingly washing the bronze, keeping it clean from dirt and debris. The sound and sight of the rushing water, with the sunlight reflecting off the surface, instantly made me choke back tears. I don't know why it was such an immediate, physical reaction, but I kept thinking that we were on the site of the original twin towers and the immense tragedy that had taken place. 

Tribute to 9/11 at the Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum 12-12-15

We went inside to the 9/11 Museum and I remember being struck by the sheer absence of noise. Most museums, you'll hear the hustle and bustle of people, scattered conversations, and laughs. As soon as we came down the escalator, we entered into this cloud of silence. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced. 

As we moved from exhibit to exhibit, I grew increasingly upset. People always say the words "senseless tragedy" but I don't think there's a more apt description. Hearing recorded voice messages and seeing personal belongings from some of the victims really brought home the sheer magnitude of loss that took place that day. I can't imagine the thoughts going through their minds during their last moments. 

I don't write all of this to depress anybody. And the memorial and museum truly inspired a sense of profound hope in me, despite the sadness. But it just also puts in perspective how small my "problems" really are. And reinforces just how short and unexpected life can be. You never know what will happen. 

My advice - figure out what you want in life, and do whatever it takes to get yourself there. We only get one ticket to the dance. Don't waste it on "good enough" or "some day". We owe it to anyone whose life is unexpectedly cut short to not let our dreams waste away. Take that trip. Sign up for the class. Interview for your dream job. Say yes to the date. Eat weird foods. Be who you've always wanted to be. 

But most of all - never forget. 

"No day shall erase you from the memory of time." -Virgil
9/11 Museum 12-12-15



Monday, December 7, 2015

Announcing the ABC Reads Challenge for 2016


Hi friends! This post is for all of the book lovers out there. My lovely friend Andrea and I are super excited to announce our upcoming reading challenge called ABC Reads! 

What does the challenge entail? Well, I'm glad you asked. There are 26 letters of the alphabet and we challenge you, during the course of 2016, to read a book that starts with each letter. For example, Atonement (A), The Bell Jar (B), Catching Fire (C), and so on. Makes sense, right? You don't need to go in order - if you want to start with S, go for it. We're easy to please around these parts. On the last day of each month, we'll host a link-up for you to share your ABC Reads.  We will award one point for each letter you review AND a bonus point for linking up with us!  

At the end of the year (or when the first participant reviews a book beginning with each of the 26 letters), the winner will be awarded a $30 Amazon gift card. So, what do you say? Do you accept our ABC Reads challenge? 

We'll begin on January 1, 2016. Share with your friends, spread the word! The more the merrier. :)

Ciao!


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: Nothing But Pet



Welcome to Write or Die Wednesdays: A Writer's Link-Up! We are Shelly 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!

Check out our new button... you like? Feel free to update your posts/sidebars with the new button (or keep the other one if that suits your fancy, we're not picky!).

Thanks to everyone who linked up for the previous installment of #WODW! The writing process is a topic near and dear to our hearts, obviously. It was fascinating to see where you find your inspiration, how you organize your thoughts, and how they translate onto paper (or blog). We love that you love writing as much as we do!

This round of Write or Die is all about pets. Pets you own, pets you love or hate (or love to hate!), pets you've lost, or maybe even pets you'd like to own some day. Whatever you decide to write about, we can't wait to read it!

Happy writing!


*****

An Ode to Pets
{Dedicated to my furbabies, Rocky and Luna}

Your eyes gaze so lovingly
And follow me to and fro
Your tail wags with joy
Whenever I come and go
Your ears twitch a certain way
And I know exactly what you're trying to say
Your tummy begs to be rubbed
And I am not immune
To the sweet unconditional love
That you give me, as if I hung the moon
I feed you, I walk you, I shelter you
It seems but a small price to pay
For the comfort you bring to me each and every day

To the people who say ,
"They are just dogs and cats"
I assure you you're mistaken
They are so much more than that
They are creatures of love and light
Of patience and forgiveness
They are a pain in the ass
They are the kindness within us













   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: The Write Stuff


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!

Thanks to everyone who linked up for the previous installment of #WODW! The posts you shared about laughter as it pertains to getting out of funks, finding a mate, losing a mate, or sparking creativity were fun to read. Check them out here if you missed it!

This episode's prompt asks us to share our writing process. What gets you writing? What are your rituals? Challenges? Tell us all about it!
Happy writing!

image-3


***********


My writing process is to procrastinate as long as possible. Seriously. I have to look at my phone and scroll through every single social media app I have. I have to watch my shows. I have to eat. I have to stare at my blank screen or the blank pages of my journal. I just have to get all of those things out of my system so that my head is clear and is receptive to writing.

I feel like I write much better under pressure. When I try to plan actual writing time, the words just don't flow the way I want them to. When I clear my mind of all the noise and the clutter, I finally feel ready to express myself. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I just sit in silence. Sometimes creativity will strike at the weirdest times and then I'm thankful for my obsession with pens and notebooks because there's one in arm's reach no matter where I am in the house.

I tend to be very succinct when I write. Which in my opinion is good, but sometimes I feel like it's not enough. Sometimes I'll read back my work and think, "OK. You made a strong point. But now what?" And it's the "now what?" that gets to me. Because I don't like to ramble, just to make whatever I'm writing longer. I always feel like less is more.  But then I second guess myself.

I try to just write whatever I'm feeling and not edit too much. If my husband is home, I'll have him read it and tell me what he thinks. I may make a few word changes here and there. But I try to keep the integrity of what I wrote intact by not messing with it too much.

What's your writing process? I'm so interested to see what rituals and processes you have. Share with us! Don't forget, you have 2 whole weeks to link up with us, so you have plenty of time. :)


   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Elevator Therapy


What if you were stuck in an elevator?


Have you ever been stuck in an elevator? I have, but it was just for a few minutes, so I didn't have enough time to panic. There were 2 other people in the elevator with me, and after a few nervous chuckles a piece, all was well again. 

But what if the elevator remained stuck for an hour? Or 12? My anxiety would have skyrocketed and I would have assumed the fetal position on the floor. But another part of me starts to ponder what happens to people when they are stuck in close quarters for long periods of time. It could be kind of therapeutic, in a way. There's absolutely nowhere to hide. No room you can escape to, no curtain to help draw your boundaries, nothing. Just you in a metal box. 

I'm sure the first few hours would be spent trying to call for help, or trying to escape somehow. And once all options have been exhausted, there would likely be an uneasy silence as we all came to terms with the reality of our situation.

But after a while, I think we would begin to open up. What else are you going to do to pass the time? So we start talking to each other and asking questions. Maybe there's laughter, or tears. Maybe the confessions begin because our burdens become too heavy to bear.

I think about the unresolved nature of life and the people I'd like to be (temporarily) trapped in an elevator with in the name of getting closure. People that I've hurt, or who have hurt me. People that I've lost touch with and want to reconnect and let them know they are still important to me. But life happens, and all that jazz. It could be a cheap form of therapy. Albeit highly stressful, haha. 

Or maybe you just need to vent to someone who doesn't know you or a thing about your life, and so you choose to be stuck with strangers. This could totally be a thing, guys. I'm inventing the elevator therapy room. Boom. :)

If you could be stuck in an elevator with someone, who would you choose? Why? I'd love to hear more! 

P.S. Don't forget to join Shelly and me for Write or Die Wednesdays beginning on Weds, 11/18. The prompt is: "What's your writing process?" Come share with us! 

Writing prompt: What's your writing process?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: The Many Faces of Laughter


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 round of Write or Die focused on loneliness. It was a word prompt that really hit home for us. The posts ranged from the fictional, the hypothetical, the reflective. Posts about friendship, sleeplessness, tips to feel less lonely, and MORE. Click here to check out those posts if you missed them.

For this next installment of Write or Die, we have a quote for you in the photo below. Do agree with it? Do you have some funny memories or stories to share with us? What makes you laugh? We want to hear all about it! Happy writing, beauties! Don't forget that the link up is live for 2 weeks, so you have plenty of time to join us.



*******

I don't know why, but every time I hear the word "laugh", my mind immediately goes to the movie Carrie, based on Stephen King's book, and a chorus of "They're all gonna laugh at you!" echoes in my head over and over.

I mean, macabre, much?

I can't help it. I like dark humor. I find weird things funny. I love sarcasm and wit. I love puns, and double entendres, and corny jokes.

So, I decided that instead of writing something super profound about laughter, I will just share some funny memes with you. These always make me laugh! Enjoy.

"If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane." ~Robert Frost




What are some things that make YOU laugh? Come share with us!



   

    An InLinkz Link-up
   

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lessons Learned: October 2015


I said in my last Lessons Learned post that my word for October would be "peace". And for the most part, it was pretty peaceful. 

Some highlights from last month:

* It was my 8th wedding anniversary. 


* An article that I wrote was published in Issue 3 of Holl & Lane Magazine. SQUEEEEE!



* I got to meet my beautiful friend, Shelly. She was as funny, sweet, genuine, and kind in person as she is online. 



* I'm not big on travelling - partly because it's hard for me to juggle around my kids' schedules and partly because I get the worst anxiety ever about going someplace I've never been before and being thrown off my routine. But at least I didn't have to fly. And I ended up really enjoying this work trip. I love looking at the ocean! Check out the view on the way home:



* We got a new addition to our little family. Meet Luna, aka Luna the Tuna. :)



* Halloween with my little superheroes

Hawkeye and Batman
All in all, it was a pretty good month. And I learned that it's OK to slow things down. It's OK to not do it all. It's OK to let a few things go and worry about them later. And it's also OK to take care of me. Sometimes, saying no to things is the best option, or else I"ll run myself ragged. 

October has been a nice little breather. I'm looking forward to all that November will bring! I'm already listening to the Christmas station on Pandora. Not sorry. :) 


What were some of your highlights from October? I want to hear all about it. 

{In case you missed them, here are the lessons learned from August and September.}


P.S. Don't forget to join Shelly and me for the Write or Die link up beginning on Weds, Nov. 4th. The prompt is the quote below. Come share some laughs with us! 




Sunday, November 1, 2015

Read All About It: Inside Out by Anastasia Amour

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

You guys, I'm such a huge fan of Anastasia! I worked with her not too long ago for blog stuff and she was so kind, warm, and welcoming. Her inspirational blog just draws you in - positivity, girl power, and general badassery. So, when she asked if I'd like to review her soon-to-be-released book, Inside Out, I said, SIGN ME UP!!

Inside Out is a book that will transform the way you think, talk, and feel about yourself, in the best way possible. The book aims to stop all of the negative self-talk that is so harmful to your confidence. In today's society, we are bombarded by messages that are harmful to our self-image. The book offers a 14-day program that will help you to achieve that fearless body confidence that we all yearn for. Being comfortable in our own skins and not trying to live up to some arbitrary "ideal" woman. 



I've really struggled with my own self-image and body confidence, especially as my body has changed after having 2 kids. Reading through some of the exercises in Inside Out really made me stop and think about what those thoughts are doing to me and how I can embrace who I am without any shame or guilt. One of my favorite chapters was about eliminating toxic influences. 

I really can't wait for you guys to read Inside Out! The book will be available in e-book format or paperback beginning on November 14th at Anastasia's website. She was generous enough to provide all of you lovely readers with a coupon code for 15% off! Use the code below when you make your purchase. 


Here's some more info about Anastasia:


Anastasia Amour has taught thousands of women across the world how to stamp out self-inflicted negativity and embrace imperfection throughout their lives. Dubbed by readers as “a force to be reckoned with”, “truly transformative”, “a positivity powerhouse” and “the only positive body image guru you’ll ever need”, Anastasia’s debut title, Inside Out is the handbook for every woman who craves Fearless Body Confidence, taking readers through an empowering 14-day journey that will see them undergo a radical change from within. You can connect with Anastasia at AnastasiaAmour.com, on social media or contact her direct via email on hello@anastasiaamour.com.

 Ciao, lovelies!