Book Lovers Tag

 

 

First spotted this fun, little tag on Ritu Bhathal’s blog, But I Smile Anyway, then saw it on Shelley Wilson’s blog, Motivate Me.

I’m a book lover and both Ritu and Shelley invited anyone to play. So here I am. And here we go.

 

Do you have a specific place for reading?

 

I wish. Like a spot under a weeping willow or in a gorgeous garden blooming with roses or a soft window seat with sheer, billowing curtains. *sigh* No, I read in the car, in bed, while I’m walking from room to room, sitting on the couch…

 

Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

 

I have a ginormous collection of the silliest, sweetest, loveliest, most awesome bookmarks ever. Yet…when I need to keep my place in a book (which is often as I’m constantly interrupted), I usually grab a random receipt, scrap of paper, or business card.

 

Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of a chapter?

 

I can stop anywhere. Literally anywhere. Mid-paragraph. Mid-sentence. Hell, mid-word. This isn’t my preferred way to read (or, rather, stop reading) but has become that way. I used to finish chapters but, alas, times have changed. Or lack of time has changed. That said, if I’m two sentences away from the end of a chapter, I try to crawl my way to the finish line.

 

Do you eat or drink while reading?

 

Yes. I love sitting with a cup of tea or glass of wine while reading. It’s my “me” time. But that doesn’t happen very often. I’m usually reading whenever I get a spare moment so I’m chugging some water or my morning coffee before I’m on to the next thing. I don’t really eat while reading though. That would be disastrous.

 

Music or TV while reading?

 

I can barely concentrate when the neighbor is mowing his lawn so, no. No music or TV. As a matter of fact, if the kids are awake when I want to read, it’s DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time! (A.K.A. silence-in-the-house time.) Luckily, I have a book-loving family.

 

One book at a time or several?

 

Something a bit more than “several”. Always a few nonfiction/reference books plus a novel or two and some anthologies and short stories. I’m… Ooh! Shiny! *runs away*

 

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

 

Home. But I will read in my car provided there is NO ONE else there and I’m parked somewhere quiet. Never in a coffee shop or even a library because, regardless of how quiet places are supposed to be, there are always distractions.

 

Read out loud or silently?

 

Hmm. Do people read out loud? Now I’m wicked curious who reads out loud to themselves. Do you? Let me know in the comments. (Do I need to say that I read silently?) Although…now I must admit I read out loud to my children. But that’s totally different.

 

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

 

No. No! Who does this? Do you? What are these questions? I mean, if it’s a reference book, sure, but not a novel (novella, novelette, short story, whatever).

 

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

 

You could sell my 15-yr-old books in a bookstore they’re so new-looking. And I’m a big fan of rereading. Still…spines intact. (Except my Harry Potter series. They’re like an old, favorite stuffed animal. Worn and loved.)

 

Do you write in your books?

 

All the time. I draw and doodle and make rude comments in the margins. No! No, I don’t write in my books. That’s like… Just no. In my nonficiton/reference books, I highlight. I’m a huge highlighter. (Oh, and I will admit to trying some black-out poetry in a completely destroyed, unreadable copy of Harry Potter that was going to be thrown away and I saved. Because. Harry Potter.)

 

I’m going to follow suit in the nomination/tagging here and say that if you’d like to play, you’re tagged. (You should play. Just saying.)

Have fun, fellow book lovers!

 

Migraines and Manicures

 

 

“I totally have a migraine,” she flips her shiny hair over her shoulder and takes a sip of coffee.

“Those are the worst,” her friend says loudly and somewhat sympathetically.

The girl with the “migraine” looks up from her iPhone long enough to say, “They so are. Do you have an Advil?”

An anvil? Sure. I happen to have one here I can drop on your head to give you an idea of what it’s like to actually have a migraine.

When did this term become synonymous with a bad headache? Or a Frapuccino-sipping, hair-flipping mild one?

Three days ago, my head felt like a coconut being split open.

I felt like one of the extras in a B-rated horror movie, shrieking for a moment and having the camera linger on me long enough to show the audience I was the latest victim of an ax-wielding psycho star.

Actually, I might have welcomed having my head split open at the time. The pressure was…indescribable. I thought my brain might actually be swelling and pressing against my skull. Gross, right? I know. Then there’s the nausea and vomiting that goes along with the blinding pain, the vision problems, and the inability to move for fear of crumpling to the floor in agony. Not to mention (but I will) that if someone drops a spoon on the other side of the house, they may as well have hit you over the head with a frying pan. Oh, and you have to avoid sunlight like a vampire. Because. Pain.

You can’t read, write, eat, think… So, basically, you whimper (very quietly) and wish the time away. At least, that’s what I do.

This is how I spent my day—curled up in a ball under the covers with my hands desperately trying to cover my ears and my eyes at the same time. That didn’t work out well.

A migraine is a medical condition.

Seriously. It has symptoms and everything.

People, please, for the love of all that is good and covered in chocolate, stop. If you’re up and about, swishing your sweet coffee concoction, examining your manicure, pouting over your split ends, and texting, please don’t complain about your “migraine”.

It makes people who actually suffer from migraines feel miffed.

Okay, angry.

Okay, maybe it only makes me angry but this is my blog so…

 

 

I may be overreacting a tad here but, having just been through a 2-day adventure in agony (again), this was a fun little rant. And kind of overdue… Just saying. Do you suffer from migraines? How do you cope? Hopefully better than I do.

 

May Day Celebrations

 

 

The fire of the sun

In a spray of bright flowers

Spring turns to Summer

Petals float down from blue skies

Dancing with me in the breeze

 

May Day A spring holiday celebrated for millennia around the world, usually with flowers, crowning of a May Queen, and dancing around the maypole. Every country or region has its own specific customs.

Read more about May Day 🌺

Beltane An ancient fire festival marking the first day of summer (making Summer Solstice in June “midsummer” – Shakespeare, anyone?). Fires were used to represent the waxing sun and thought to provide protection and abundance for the coming season. The Green Man is often associated with this festival as are fairies and tree spirits.

Read more about Beltane 🌺

Lei Day In Hawaii, they celebrate Hawaiian culture and tradition with dancing and the giving of leis (necklaces made of flowers). Each island in this archipelago has its own distinct flower which is used to make the leis.

Read more about Lei Day 🌺

 

The May Queen

(an excerpt)

You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;

To-morrow ’ll be the happiest time of all the glad new-year,—

Of all the glad new-year, mother, the maddest, merriest day;

For I ’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ’m to be Queen o’ the May.

~~~

The honeysuckle round the porch has woven its wavy bowers,

And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint sweet cuckoo-flowers;

And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray;

And I ’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ’m to be Queen o’ the May.

~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Wishing you all joy on May Day!

🌸🌸🌸

 

When Does a Victim Become a Villain?

 

 

When does a victim become a villain?

What is it that turns someone we would love to protect into someone we love to hate?

Is it the first act of violence against another living thing? Does it have to be human? When does the child who has been brutalized at home become the bully? Is there a magical age when we stop feeling sorry for the child or is it simply a response to the child’s actions?

When I read a book or see a film, I want to know about the villain’s history. He did that?! What on earth happened to him?

That’s just me. Others might not care. Good guy vs bad guy. The end.

I want more. I want to know why the bad guy is so bad. Is he pure evil? Did he make a mistake? Is he mentally unstable? Is he out for revenge?

When it comes to villains, grey matters. Har. Yes, the brain. Psychology and whatnot but, also, areas between the black and white world of good and evil. It’s not simple.

Of course, sometimes, it is. Simple, I mean. Other times, it’s extraordinarily complex.

In searching through the biggest baddies of all time for the Villains Blogathon, I saw some surprising selections.

Carrie from Stephen King’s Carrie is listed as one of the top villains. Hmm. The whole movie sets up those last scenes. She is bullied horrifically at school and abused sadistically at home. Also, she’s unsure (and afraid) of her powers. Then, well…burn, baby, burn. Returning home, Carrie is taken in by her mother who hugs her to hide the great, big knife she’s about to stab Carrie with.

Then there’s Regan. A disgusting-looking, in-need-of-a-facial, pea-soup-projectile-vomiting little girl. The girl from The Exorcist is one of the top villains? She is possessed by the devil, people. Just saying.

Norman Bates is, um, Psycho. This kid, the one who grew up to be his mother (literally), had an extremely disturbing relationship with his cruel, possessive, demented mother. His entire life was abuse and isolation, leading to his inevitable insanity and the infamous stabby shower scene.

If you’ll allow me to delve into the realm of television for one teensy moment, I must talk about one of my favorite victims/villains of all time: the beautifully insane Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer played by the incredibly talented Juliet Landau. Oh, yeah, Drusilla is nasty. No argument there. But it’s her backstory that makes me seriously sick. She was an innocent young woman who caught the attention of a vampire who, patiently, goes to great lengths and takes great pleasure in torturing and tormenting her. He waits for the perfect moment to take her soul and make her immortal—right as she is driven insane.

There are also the people who were victims because they were sort of…magically (or in some other unnatural way) morphed into villains: Jack Torrance (The Shining), Gollum (Lord of the Rings), the kids who lived in Gatlin, Nebraska (Children of the Corn), Bucky A.K.A. Winter Soldier (Captain America/Civil War), Regan (The Exorcist)…

I’m not defending any actions. I’m not denying their villain status. I’m asking when, exactly, do these characters become villains?

 

When does a brutalized or brainwashed victim become a villain? What pushes the helpless victim into the role of evil villain?

 

 

This post is part of The Great Villain Blogathon. Click here for all the participants.  #Villains2017

Read my Matrix contribution to VILLAINS2016 here. Working within the constraints of the Matrix was tough but chatting about the villain of the flick was wicked fun and philosophical and *psst* not Agent Smith.

 

A joyous thanks goes out to the hosts of The Great Villain Blogathon 2017: Ruth of Silver Screenings, Karen of Shadows & Satin, and Kristina of Speakeasy. This is an annual festival of fun. Evil fun. 😈

#villains2017

 

Are You Dealing With Stress or Burnout? What’s the Difference?

 

 

I believe everyone has a certain amount of stress in his or her life. It could be a lot or a little. It could be brushed away or completely take us down. But it’s there. For everyone.

I found this amazing two-part series about stress and burnout. What is the difference? Why is it important to know the difference? What can you do about them?

It’s a must-read.

Whether you’re stressed/burned out or not, it’s a fascinating look at these two conditions. It’s eye-opening and informative. Really. Check it out, bookmark it, both, whatever…but do visit these pieces by Ruth Harris on Anne R. Allen’s blog:

 

 

ETA: I just found two posts on Sally Cronin’s blog about stress. I had to add these. They deal with similar issues in a very different way, focusing on health. Symptoms of acute vs chronic stress, how to manage stress with diet (vitamins, minerals, foods), and much more. Please check these out.

 

The link between stress and your heart

Strategies and foods to relieve stress

 

 

photo: Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

 

My Candle Burns at Both Ends

 

 

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

I could dissect this poem, line by line, pondering its possible meanings with regard to Edna’s life and writing. But this is not a lit class, it’s a blog. So I won’t. Also, I don’t want to.

It’s here today because the words are speaking to me and I need to share them.

Right now, I choose to see this poem as a reminder.

To a person who is working too much, overwhelmed and exhausting herself, who knows she cannot keep this up much longer, who addresses those who support her as well as those who do not. In the end, regardless of this knowledge, she cannot help but say how lovely it all is.

I feel these words deeply.

Watch as I go down in flames and see how beautiful the fire is.

How goddamn beautiful.

Life is difficult and stressful and a strange beauty emerges in those moments. If we look. And when we find it, we need to share it. Shout it out to friends and foes.

There is beauty in the moments of madness.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Are you going through a difficult time? Have you taken on too much? Could you use a break? I’ve got nothing. Sorry. No tips. No fix. Just support, solidarity, and a little bit of poetry.

 

The Art of Saying “No”

 

 

Your friend asks if you would edit her essay. Your kid’s teacher asks if you would run the bake sale. Your boss asks if you would stay late.

What do you do?

When you can’t take on one more thing? When your plate is overflowing? When you simply don’t want to?

Has anyone here mastered the art of saying “No”?

You in the orange shirt.

“Um…open your mouth and say the word ‘no’.”

Hmm. Interesting.

*pushes button*

*person in orange shirt drops through trap door*

Anyone else?

Good. Now that we’re all on the same proverbial page, let’s talk.

 

Some will say it varies. It depends on who is asking and what they’re asking. I’ll allow this line of reasoning. To a point. This is part of the issue.

I mean, really, if your boss asks you nicely (or not-so-nicely) to stay late, most people say, “Sure, you wretched piece of…” or probably just, “Sure.” Some people, like me for instance, say, “Of course! Not a problem!” Then those people, like me for instance, wonder what just happened.

If a friend wants help with a project, most people will probably help but they’ll be honest about what kind of time they have to offer. After all, their friend will understand. Some people, like me for instance, will sigh internally and not speak up about my lack of time and tell them to send it (if they haven’t already sent it because they know I’ll say yes).

It’s easier to say no to the bake sale request. Or so it would seem. But then some people, let’s say…um…me for example, begin thinking about the last time they assisted in any of their son’s school activities. Then, when they can’t remember (because it was like 7 months ago), say, “Absolutely!”

These answers come from negative emotions such as obligation or worry (employer), fear of upsetting someone (friend), and guilt (school).

For one who has not mastered the art of saying no, or even taken classes in it, this can be problematic regardless of the circumstances.

And for one who feels guilty or obligated or in some way responsible for making everyone happy, saying no to demands on your time can be damn near impossible. This is what I lovingly call The Yes Mess.

I want to scream. I want to scream loudly, “Hell, no! Are you kidding?! I couldn’t fit another thing into my schedule if I wanted to! I’m not a robot! Aaaahhhhh!” Or something like that. Instead, I say, “Sure! No problem!”

It is a problem.

I feel like this is linked to self-worth. By neglecting myself for others, I’m basically saying that other people’s projects, assignments, happiness, work, time, etc. are more important than my own. In other words, other people are more important than I am.

They’re not.

I need to remember that.

Instead of immediately saying yes to everything, I am making myself a promise to say, “Probably.” Or “I think so.” I know. It’s ridiculous. It’s not even close to a “no” but it’s as close as I can realistically get at the moment. Baby steps. Plus, this might make it easier to come back and say that I can’t.

If I’ve already agreed to something, that is even more difficult for me. I don’t want to let people down so I run myself into the ground making sure I do it. Or I let it slip through one of the numerous cracks in my life and feel horribly guilty.

So. If I say yes, I am giving myself permission to say, “I thought I could fit this in my schedule but I just can’t right now.”

I am not exaggerating when I say this stuff stresses me out, hurts my health, and keeps me up at night.

My health and well-being (and that of my family) must come before any demands on my time.

That’s really the end of that. Let’s see how this goes.

 

 

Have you mastered the art of saying “no”? If not, why? If so, how do you do it?

 

The “Yes” Mess

 

 

When you say yes to every request, you’re going to have a real problem. Because, sooner or later, you’re going to ask yourself, “How did I get into this mess?”

You, sweet stuff. You are how you got into this mess. No reason to play the blame game. Okay, lets play. Tag. You’re it. You’re to blame. You did this.

You probably didn’t know it would turn out to be so:

  • Time-consuming
  • Annoying
  • Boring
  • Frustrating
  • Difficult
  • Time-consuming

But…would that have stopped you?

If you had known, what would you have done?

When faced with someone asking for your help or a favor (big or small) are you able to say, “no”? If not, that’s something you really ought to think about.

Which I am. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. As you’ll see in my post tomorrow.

This has been called many things including “the disease to please”. Catchy, huh? Literally and figuratively. FYI: I have this disease so use Purell when you’re done reading, just to be safe.

Until tomorrow, gentle readers.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you say “yes” to every request? Where does that leave you?

 

 

 

Vernal Equinox: Balance in a Time of Imbalance

 

 

I found a post from exactly one year ago and, unfortunately, I’m in a similar place. I thought this year would be different but, alas, I’m here…in this post about a day not working out the way I wanted it to.

I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. I’ve taken on too much and have fallen way behind online and in real life. Looking back at this post from last year tells me something: I need to change. I accept that.

Easier said than done, as they say. I’ve got to agree. They are right.

I’ve never liked the term “balance” because, as I’ve stated numerous times, it’s unattainable. But today is the first day of spring. The Vernal Equinox.

This is a time of balance.

On the equinox, day and night are of equal length as the sun crosses the equator. Today, we experience the same amount of darkness and light—outside and within ourselves. Take a moment to meditate, to reset. Adjust any imbalances you feel.

I wrote that just two years ago. I’m going with it. Though it seems contrary to what I’m saying here, it’s not. Adjusting imbalances is not quite the same as trying to achieve balance.

While I won’t be chasing my tail in a futile attempt to attain complete balance in my life, I will be sitting. Just that. Sitting. Breathing. That’s nice, too. And paying attention. To the things I’m neglecting that need more attention and the things I’m spending too much energy on that are draining me. I will try harder to listen to my inner self.

I found this, too:

This is a time of beginnings.

We are being offered a fresh start. Spring cleaning removes dust, dirt, and clutter from our homes. The debris that has accumulated over the cold months can be swept away, leaving an inviting space. Our external environment affects our internal one. In this way, we are helping clear our minds as well.

I needed to see that. To reread those words. To remind myself what I believe to be true. And to do something about it.

 

The Vernal Equinox is a time of balance and beginnings. It’s a perfect time to take stock of your life and press the reset button. It’s also a great time to start new projects or dust off an old project and breathe life back into it. Mother Nature is backing you up right now. What will you do with this gift?

 

Happy Spring! 🌼 (And, to my friends in Australia, Happy Autumn!)

 

Share the Love of Reading #BookGivingDay

 

bookgivingdayblogbadge-2017

Oh my love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
Oh my love is like a brand new book
That’s in a waiting room

What? (I know. Hold on. I have a good reason for that atrocity.)

I’ve written about my love of books before.

I also have a few essays out there complaining about Valentine’s Day.

Red roses, puffy pink teddy bears, gaudy glitter-covered greeting cards, caramel chocolates, and the fact that this stupid day clearly brings out alliteration in full force. Along with the need to butcher perfectly beautiful poetry.

So February 14th is a wonderful holiday. Yes, I’ll say it again. Wonderful.

It’s International Book Giving Day.

It’s true! A glorious day dedicated to the love of reading and, in particular, sharing the love of reading by giving books away.

Know about this? Awesome. Get out there and spread the love.

2014bookgivingday

Never heard of it? Check it out.

Here are a few ways to get involved, from a toppling pile of books donated to your local school or library to dropping a single book off at a hospital or waiting room. You can even give books from the comfort of your own home to the organizations listed here.

My family? Well…

2016-blogbadge

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

What will you do for International Book Giving Day? Let me know—I’d love to hear some good book-giving stories.

If you share it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, tag it: #bookgivingday

 

 

I posted this last year on February 14th which didn’t give people who hadn’t heard of this holiday time to plan so I’m re-posting this year to give you a little nudge, heads-up, or reminder that you’ve got a few days to give books. And here’s a PDF to download printable bookmarks to place inside those books you give. Seriously, give a bunch of books or leave just one in a waiting room somewhere. It’s all good.

 

The birds and books blog badge by Marianne Dubuc

The cute foxes bookplate by Karl Newson

The space cat & moon mouse blog badge by Ben Newman

 

Poetry Foundation {Robert Burns}  The poem I ruthlessly butchered in the beginning of this post.