Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: Love is a Haunting Melody

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 are wondering what Write or Die is all about, check it out here!

Also, don't forget to join the #WODW Book Club! We have begun reading our second selection, The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes, and you have plenty of time to join in on the fun if you haven't already! We'll be reading and discussing this selection until September 30th. Click here to join!


The prompt for the next two weeks is the photo below. Happy writing!

Write or Die Wednesdays Piano photo


Love is a Haunting Melody quote piano rose

The sunshine streamed through the window and warmed the already hot attic. He barely glanced outside because his attention was focused on the piano. He didn't touch it, he just sat there, staring intently, sweating right through his t-shirt.

It was the first time in a year that he had looked at the piano. It used to be in the living room, right off the main entrance to the house. It grabbed your attention as soon as you walked in the door. A beautiful, shiny, white grand piano. Well, it used to be, anyway. Now the neglect was the only thing you noticed. He doubted it even still played properly.

His chest felt tight. He closed his eyes and tried to remember the melodies she used to play. But that only brought tears to his eyes. He wiped them away angrily. He was tired of tears. Of sadness. Of missing her. Her smile, her eyes, her soft, sweet voice.

He wanted to smash the piano into a million little pieces. Just destroy it and break its hold on him. But he sighed and dismissed the thought immediately. He couldn't destroy his last link to her. He didn't know how to play anything other than Chopsticks, but he knew that the piano was now a part of him, just like it used to be a part of her.

He reached out and plunked a key with one finger. The sound of the note reverberated through the attic, startling him. He decided to end his trip down memory lane and get out of the sweltering attic. He started towards the ladder, but stopped in his tracks when the piano began to play a soft, haunting melody.

The hair on the back of his neck stood up. His heart started pounding. He wasn't sure what was happening. Was he having a heat stroke? Hallucinating? Maybe he was dreaming. He was afraid to move, so he stood frozen in place.

Then, the singing began. It was her. It was her voice. He was confused, mesmerized, delighted. He called out to her, anguished, yet illogically hopeful. Immediately, the singing stopped. The melody stopped, too. The piano was quiet, still covered in dust, as if no one had touched it. His heart dropped. He berated himself for calling out, for interrupting the song. The pain of losing her was so fresh, as if it had happened yesterday, instead of a year ago. He recalled many evenings before, watching her play, basking in the sweet sound of her singing.  

The sadness became overpowering. His shoulder shook with quiet sobs. He couldn't bear to look at the piano, but he also couldn't bear not to. He wanted her back. He'd do anything to have her back.

She should never have tried to leave him. All he did was love her. All he wanted was to spend forever with her. What went wrong? Why did she push away his love? He clenched his fists. He heard her laughter, a wicked sound. Visions of a blood-soaked piano filled his mind. Splatters and streaks all over. Scarlet pools glistening in stark contrast to the shining white of the piano. He shut his eyes tight, trying desperately not to remember.

Suddenly, the piano began to play a thundering melody. The sound clanged in his ears, so loud he bent over in pain. The singing began again, only this time, the lyrics sounded like screams. Frightened, he ran over to the ladder, desperate to get away, desperate to forget. He climbed down as quickly as he could and ran to the front door. He stopped and took a shuddering breath before opening the door and running out into the warm, glowing sunshine.

“Love is a haunting melody that I have never mastered, and I fear I never will.” 
-William S. Burroughs

*This is an original story written by me. Please do not copy or distribute without my permission. Thank you.*


    An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, June 29, 2015

Read All About It: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins #collaboreads

I'm super excited to be joining the first #collaboreads link up hosted by Rachel and Amber. It's a book review link up with a monthly theme. This month's theme was a book on the New York Times Bestseller list.  

There were a lot of great books on the list when I checked it earlier this month, but I obviously went with The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins. 

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

What part of the book could you NOT get enough of? 

Pretty much the entire thing. I read it in one sitting while I was home sick from work. I could not put it down! Basically, the book is about Rachel, a divorced woman with a drinking problem who rides the train every day "to work" - even though she was fired months ago - because she doesn't want her roommate to know she's been fired. She is obsessed with her old house where her ex-husband and his new wife live and the train takes her past there each morning. There is also a couple a few houses down from them that Rachel loves to watch - she thinks their life is perfect and she has even named them Jess and Jason, though she has never met them before. 

One day, while on the train, Rachel sees something shocking happening with "Jess." She later sees that a crime has been committed involving Jess and she realizes what she saw likely has something to do with it. But people have trouble taking Rachel seriously because of her serious drinking problem, her blackouts, and her tendency to lie and stalk her ex-husband and his new wife. 


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

There weren't many, or any, likable characters in this book. Lots of anger, betrayal, lying, infidelity, etc. But at some points, I did feel sorry for Rachel, as she struggled with trying to manage her drinking, lying to everyone, having blackouts, being unemployed, lonely, etc. 

The plot twists and turns are what makes the book so hard to put down!!! What happened to Megan (Jess' real name)? Did Rachel really see what she thought she saw? It's so good. 

But there were a few storylines weaved in that just didn't seem to make sense to the story. They could have been omitted without hurting the story. 

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? 

A lot of the reviews on Goodreads compare this book to Gone Girl. It does have similarities and will keep you guessing until the end of the book as to "who done it." But if you're comparing it to Gone Girl, I think this one comes up a little bit short because of the extra convoluted plot lines that weren't necessary as I mentioned above. Still a great read, though. 

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? 

The cover is perfect for the story. It shows a blurry landscape, as if it was being viewed from a moving train. Which of course is fitting to the story since a majority of it revolves around Rachel riding the train each day. 

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

I give this book 4 stars. I definitely recommend it to a friend, especially one who likes mystery/thrillers where the culprit isn't immediately apparent. I read it in one sitting. It's the perfect book to read with a cup of coffee, a warm blanket, and a rainstorm outside. :) 

Have you read The Girl On The Train? What did you think? 

The next link up is July 27th. July's theme is: a book with someone's name in the title. Which book will you choose? 

P.S. Don't forget to join us beginning on Weds, July 1st for the Write or Die writer's link up. The prompt is the photo below. We can't wait to see what it inspires you to write. Prose, poetry - all are welcome. Happy writing! 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Noticing Rainbows

rainbows sunlight reflection water

It's been raining like crazy here the past few days. I was grumbling about it in the car and my littlest guy, after only hearing the word rain, smushes his face up against the window and says, "Mommy! If it rains, that means there will be a rainbow." His expression was one of pure joy and he craned his neck this way and that, hoping to catch a glimpse of a rainbow. 

It reminded me of life in general. Some of us only focusing on the rain and the storms - others, excited about the possibility of rainbows. I've always been a dark and stormy girl. But it warms my heart to see the hope and wonder in my boys' hearts. It just goes to show that anyone at any age can teach someone something new. My 4 year old feels the love and the hope in his heart as easily as he breathes. And that makes me smile. Makes me proud. Sure, life will throw obstacles in his way as he gets older. But his foundation, his core, his soul is filled with light. 

"Hope is a rainbow of thought." -Harley King

Rainbows happen when sunlight and rain combine in a very specific way. It's not some meteorological lottery game of chance. It's a very deliberate set of circumstances. The sun has to reflect the rain a certain way. There's determination there. I definitely need more determination in my life. It's easy to sit back and think of the gray skies that have plagued our lives. My list is certainly long enough. But so what? It's time to let it go. It's been my security blanket for too long. Life is what you make of it, right? 

"I know there is a rainbow
For me to follow
To get beyond my sorrow
Thunder precedes the sunlight
So I'll be alright"
-Mariah Carey, Rainbow

The rain ends eventually. It does. And when that happens, I'm determined to notice the beauty of it. The sunlight. The song of the birds. The pure blue sky. I'm determined to be the rainbow that doesn't give up. The rainbow that knows it can only exist in the aftermath of the rain. 

"Where does the rainbow end, in your soul or on the horizon?" -Pablo Neruda   

P. S. You can't have rainbows without the sun. I had a great time participating in the Sunshine Box Swap hosted by Always, Abby and Mrs. AOK. I was paired with Diana and she sent me this awesome box. Diana was so sweet - this box was actually a replacement because FedEx lost the first one. Her kindness made my heart smile. Thank you, Diana! 


P.S. Also, don't forget to join us beginning on Wednesday, July 1st for the biweekly Write or Die writer's link up. The prompt is this photo below. We can't wait to see how it inspires you. Happy Writing! 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Chase Your Dreams 2015: Half Way Point Check In

Back in January, I put together a swap called Chase Your Dreams 2015. The basic premise of the swap is that you would list your top 3 goals for 2015 and be paired with another blogger who would send you a package of items designed to help you achieve your goals. I was paired with the lovely Dean from Mrs. AOK and she's been an amazing friend ever since. Anyway, I thought that now would be a good time to check in on those goals, since we're halfway through 2015. 

So, let's check in on my progress, shall we? 

1) Write my novel. 
My goal was to have a rough draft of my novel completed by the end of the year. I have about 1/4 of the draft done. Not exactly stellar progress. But I find my "spare" time to be quite limited and I just don't have the time (nor the peace and quiet) to write. I'm not ready to declare defeat on the goal just yet, though. I work better under pressure and I bet once the end of the year grows nearer, I'll be cranking out extra pages in no time. So, stay tuned. 

2) Focus on wellness. 
I am kicking ass at this goal. If I do say so myself. Working out, eating (mostly) clean, trying to stay as hydrated as possible. Do I have cheat meals? ABSOLUTELY. I'm human just like everyone else. But I try not to go overboard and binge like I used to. I'm running my first 5K tomorrow and I'm so excited! This is something I would never have seen myself doing in the past, so it's cool to see that I am moving out of my comfort zone a bit. 

3) Read 100 books. 
I have completed 29 books so far this year. If I stay at this rate, I will only complete 58 books for the year. But ya know what? I'm OK with that. Like I mentioned, my free time is limited. And whatever time I do have is usually spent going to the gym. 

Overall, I'm not unhappy with my progress. I'd obviously like to see a lot more progress for goal #1 by the end of the year. But I'll work on that as much as I can. 

What's the status on your goals for 2015? Making progress? Need a push? 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Write or Die Wednesdays: My Quest for Empty Space

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 are wondering what Write or Die is all about, check it out here!

For our last #WODW link up, we all shared a moment when we felt on top of the world. Or for some of us, we shared our hope that the moment was still yet to come. We are so grateful to those who linked up with us and share their stories. If you missed it, you can check out those posts here.

Just a reminder: Write or Die Wednesdays is a biweekly link up. The benefit for YOU: More time to brainstorm your posts and link up. If you get busy one week, there's still the 2nd week to take advantage of and write your post.

Also, don't forget to join the #WODW Book Club! We are currently taking suggestions for the next reading and would love to have your input. Click here to join!

book club

The prompt for the next two weeks is the quote below:

Happy writing!!


My Quest for Empty Space

Take a look at me nowwwwww.... There's just an empty space. I know, I know, I had to channel my inner Phil Collins.

Anyway, I'm not sure that the quote has any relevancy to my life at all. Maybe I'm just taking it too literally. I really feel like every part of my life is filled to the brim. But what bothers me the most is the clutter and the sheer amount of JUNK around my house. It's something I just can't keep up with anymore.

For the most part, the boys' toys (ha, that rhymed!) are restricted to the play room in the basement. But laundry, random junk mail, markers, crayons, the boys' school papers - every useless thing you can think of is just everywhere.

I always have the best of intentions to organize everything into a Pinterest/Instagram-worthy space. But I just can't juggle yet another ball without dropping all the others.

Anybody want to come over and help me clean and declutter for the price of $0? Anybody? Bueller? No?

So, since there aren't any takers, my quest for empty space begins now. Items on the "Empty Space To-Do List" include:

* Donating the mountains of clothing that I never wear.

* Stick to the cleaning schedule that I developed earlier this year (and only followed maybe twice. Sigh.).

* Clean out the kitchen pantry and donate whatever we don't use and isn't expired.

* Hold the boys accountable for their "chores." It's not a lot, but every little bit helps me and my sanity.

* Squeeze in a load of laundry before starting a show on TV.

* Do absolutely nothing with my mountain of unread books, except admire them lovingly. ;)

Do you have any tips of minimizing? Reducing clutter? Sticking to a cleaning schedule? I'm just tired of looking at a huge mess day in and day out! 


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, June 13, 2015

I Won't Let Go

It's my hubby's birthday tomorrow, although we actually celebrated on Friday. We've celebrated 14 of his birthdays together now. That's a lot of birthday cake. Except this year, he didn't have cake, just some fried ice cream that was shoved in his face. Haha. Not by me, though. ;)
A photo posted by Mia Sutton (@mychaoticlife1) on

I've found that as the years have gone by, naturally the comfort level in our relationship has grown. Fights are few and far between, as we've learned which buttons to push or avoid. There's no second guessing if he will like a present that I bought or a meal that I cooked. Glances, smiles, expressions, silences - they all speak volumes and we know them all like the back of our hand. 

We've been through a lot together. The birth of our sweet babies. The untimely deaths of loved ones. Triumphs, failures. Times when we couldn't stand each other, times when we couldn't bear to be apart. There are sweet memories and there are old wounds. 

And there are days yet to come. I can't wait to celebrate many more birthdays together with my partner in crime, my best friend, my love. 

Whatever happens, I know one thing for sure:  I won't let go. 

P.S. Don't forget to join us for the Write or Die writer's link up beginning on June 17th. The biweekly writing prompt is the quote below. Hope to see you there! Happy writing. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I am not a doormat.

I'm a people-pleaser. I've said it many times here on the blog, and I'm sure you'll hear me say it again. I don't like drama. I don't like confrontation. I don't like when people are mad at me. I am an expert at just letting things roll off my back or ignoring someone when they are being rude. I try to be like Tay-Tay and shake it off. I seem to have a high tolerance for other people's bullshit and it takes A LOT to make me angry.

But I do have my limits. I'm human. Just because I keep quiet, or just because I smile, or just because I try to turn uncomfortable situations into a joke and make people laugh, doesn't mean that I'm not angry or sad or disappointed on the inside. I just don't show it because most of the time it wouldn't be productive. Sure, it would probably feel good for a minute to just say whatever I'm feeling (which would involve plenty of four-letter words), but what would it accomplish at the end of the day? Only more drama. More negativity and conflict. Sometimes when I'm feeling more upset than usual, I'll vent to a friend, and then once I get it out, I feel better. 

Lately, though, I find it harder and harder to hold things in. The thread that keeps my filter in place is fraying at an alarming rate. I find myself wondering why I have allowed myself to become a doormat to other people. That they can say or do whatever and I just take it. I can guarantee that if the situations were reversed, they would balk at being treated that way. 

I'm not starting the revolution or anything here, but I think it's high time that I stood up for myself. That I demand the same type of treatment that anyone else would expect to receive. I still say killing with kindness is the best solution, but if that fails... well, let's just say I'll be in the corner sharpening my verbal claws. 

I am woman. Here me roar.  Raaawwwrrrrr. ;)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Write or Die Wednesday: Topsy Turvy

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 are wondering what Write or Die is all about, check it out here!

For our last #WODW link up, we all took on the photo of a lion. It inspired some fiction, personal stories and inspirational posts! Thanks to all who linked up!

Just a reminder: Write or Die Wednesdays is now a biweekly link up. The benefits for YOU: More time to brainstorm your posts and link up. If you get busy one week, there's still the 2nd week to take advantage of and write your post. The benefits for US: More time to promote and (hopefully) grow the link up, as well as allow us time to focus on our secret project. Aside from the frequency of the link up, nothing else is changing. You still get thought-provoking prompts and the chance to flex your writing muscles. Don't touch that dial! :)

Also, don't forget to join the #WODW Book Club! We are currently taking suggestions for the next reading and would love to have your input. Click here to join!

book club

The prompt for the next two weeks is the photo below:


Happy writing!!


Full disclosure: I struggled with this post, probably way more than I should have. I think it goes without saying that the biggest highlights of my life were getting married and having my 2 boys. But who am I outside of being a wife and mother? What accomplishments or memories do I have that belong solely to ME?

That's a really tough question for me. And that just leads to all kinds of internal conflict that I don't want to think about at this moment - dreams yet unfulfilled, restlessness with my current state in life, etc. But honestly, maybe I'm just taking it way too seriously, as if life is going to hand me a gold star and say, "Hey girl hey. This is a TOP OF THE WORLD moment for you. You're welcome." If only.

Or maybe my own top of the world moment has yet to come. Or maybe it won't be one big shining moment, but a series of smaller moments that lift you up. Or maybe my Eeyore costume is just on too tight and is deflecting the sunshine and rainbows from my memory at the moment.

I don't know what the answer is, or what the future holds. But I'll keep on climbing, with the hope that I'll get to the top one day.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Reflections: A Look Back at May 2015

And another one gone, and another one gone, another month bites the dust! Haha. We're just trucking along, aren't we 2015? And side note, I'd really love to be wherever that picture above was taken. Look at that beautiful golden sunlight. Sigh. 

Anyway, let's take a little look-see back at May, shall we? 

Progress Check - Goals from May 2015:

* Create a morning routine. SUCCESS! Finally. Haha. More on that later this week.  

* Read more books! Sigh. Let's not even talk about it, OK? June is a new month. I can do this. 

* Do some spring cleaning and have a yard sale. This is in the works and will happen in the next few weeks. So, I'm totally counting it as a win. 

3 Most Popular Blog Posts from May 2015:

Highlights from May 2015:

* I joined the social media team for Holl & Lane Magazine. Have you checked out the first issue yet? Also, be sure to click here and like the Facebook page for more updates! 

*  We finalized plans for a family vacation later this summer and put down the deposit. First family vacation since 2011. Cannot wait! Related news, I found a bathing suit! It was the 2nd one I tried on. I may or may not have done the dressing room boom-boom dance at Target. Which is the long, formal name for twerking. #sorrynotsorry

Goals for June 2015:

* Complete the Ice Cream Race 5K at the end of June. I'm excited, it's my first ever 5K! Whipped cream foam, chocolate syrup slides - I mean, it was meant to be! Plus, we'll be supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 

*  Set a consistent schedule for running. Hope to be able to run at least 3 times a week. 

What were your highlights from May? What are your goals for June? 

P.S. Don't forget to join us beginning tomorrow, June 3rd, for Write or Die Wednesdays. The prompt is below. Happy writing! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things: May 2015 edition

It's been a little while since I've shared some of my favorite things with you. I know you're just dying to see what's on my list. Well, never fear. I aim to please. 

* Outlander

Claire and Jamie

I can't even describe it. This show is so good. I haven't read the books that the show is based on, but I still recommend the show. The basic premise is that Claire, an English woman on vacation in Scotland in 1945, accidentally travels back in time 200 years to 1745. She is already married in the present time. But she is not sure she can ever get back to her husband, Frank. And in the meantime, she meets Jamie, who fights tooth and nail to protect her and keep her safe, since times were different in 1745 and it was very dangerous to be an unaccompanied woman in Scotland - especially an English woman. She falls in love with Jamie, and it goes on from there. So, so, so, so good. Watch it! 

*  Tyme Hair Iron

Photo from www.tymehair.com 

I need this in my life. I saw a video of a woman using the Tyme Iron on Facebook and I was blown away. It straightens AND curls your hair, which I know sounds contradictory, but for those of us with curly hair, it would be a blessing and a timesaver. The problem with straightening your hair with regular flat irons is that you end up with super straight hair that just kind of hangs there. And unless you know your way around a curling iron (which my burn scars would prove I do not), you can't get those long, perfect waves. But this straightener does both for you. Omg. Need, want, must have. Haha. Let's just pretend it says $19.00 instead of $190.00. Womp womp. 


Mr. Thomas and Me

This awesome book lover's link up was created by Rachel and Amber. What I like about this link up is that each month there will be a different topic - for example, a book that starts with the letter W - and then everyone gets to choose their own book that meets that criteria. What an awesome idea. The first link up starts June 29th. Go check it out and see what the first topic is. I've already selected my book, wahoo. :)

* HUMAN Tanks

I've been spending a lot more time at the gym lately. And I've found that the proper gym attire is always a sassy tank top. I love these ones from HUMAN.

*All tank top photos from www.lookhuman.com


Who doesn't love getting some green? $170 is up for grabs, people. Enter now for your chance to win! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What are some of your favorite things? 

P.S. It's almost time again for the Write or Die Wednesdays biweekly link up. Join us beginning on June 3rd. Prompt is below. Happy writing!!!