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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Crazy Week and Incognito

It was a CRAZY week last week...and I was in hiding. Work was nutty to say the least and I found myself having to "deny" my activities and hobbies, including this blog, in order to just sail through the week (thought it felt more like I was on the Titanic) without getting additional projects thrown my way.

I love blogging and I love my blog...however, I want to keep it that way. It is something I do in my PERSONAL time, for my PERSONAL reasons, about PERSONAL things. It is not something at this point that I wish to do "on-the-job". So I had to play stupid and dummy-down my knowledge and skills. Sad, I know, but it was necessary.

It's unfortunate that I have to do that. But that's the rub of working for a TINY non-profit get too involved at times, whether you want to be or not. And unfortunately with no extra compensation. I'm only human....emotionally, I need the incentive...and I like to eat! If it was an organization that I was completely indeared to, that may be different...but all I do is feel like I've been repeatedly taken advantage of as of late.

The HUGE PLUS side, however, to all of this, is that I have been growing a spine...I've been learning to speak up and out and stick up for myself. I'm starting to gain more ground with this confidence thing. I realize now that I am not a punching bag, a doormat, something to be swept under the carpet or shoved in a closet. I am human and I have rights and I owe it to myself to set boundaries. I put up more and more fences every day, and if there's one thing I can say lately is that I feel so much better!

Hope your week was more sane than mine and I promise to be better this week....if you see someone lurking the web in Groucho glasses, a mustache, and cigar, chances are it's me!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Passionate Love Affair

Having refused to replace my TV last month has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only do I feel more relaxed at night and in the mornings (my "prime" viewing time too fall asleep and wake up by), but I have so much more time to READ! Simplify, simplify, simplify, I say!

Rising gas prices have also made me re-think my daily habits. Those lunchtime errands are usually completely unnecessary and have just been the result of frustration and boredom. Sitting at my isolated, corner desk (I'm the only person who can boast "real" walls in my office) or in my car on a nice spring day, I feel like I can truly maximize my break time and "down" time by sitting back with said books or a colorful magazine.

I've been going through 2 books a week which is huge for me! I can't get enough inexpensive, mass-market paperbacks! I actually get a little high when I grab something off the shelf! Great substitute when I can't afford a new outfit!

I love a good book, and I am a sucker for a pretty cover! While I admittedly own a Kindle, I use it mostly when traveling; it IS very convenient to pack. HOWEVER, I feel there are so many talented artists out there who design such LOVELY book covers, I feel it's my duty to support their talented efforts.

There's also just something about the book itself, its heft, its chunkiness, and the smell and feel of the pages. They are my Pandora's boxes and I get simply giddy when I can pick up a few at my local Dollar Books or on sale at Target. If I'm running low on funds, but need a quick pick-me-up, a little book will do quite nicely, thank you!

My current obsession is with Cozy Mysteries. Pretty much non-existent violence, no blatant sexual escapades, and minimal foul language, these books literally ARE cozy reads and great escapes. I find myself identifying with a lot of the main characters. They tend to run in series and I have several favorites right now:

These were my FIRST introduction to cozies! We were snowed in for a week and FINALLY got to the supermarket. I was desperate for a read and picked up "The Blueberry Muffin Murder" and was hooked! Set in a small Minnesota town, the characters are down-to-earth and remind me of my relatives! Read more about Joann and her Lake Eden friends on her website!

I just started reading Leann's books and found a new favorite! Set in the south, they are homey, tasty little reads about a trio of cats and their faithful owner!

Found her first book at B&N one day waiting for my hair appointment. I couldn't get a woman to move to reach for another book so grabbed the first one from this series and was immediately drawn into the story. Very believable characters and setting in New England (always the sucker for that neck of the woods). Thank you, rude lady!

Her books are rather hard-to-find, but thank you, Dollar Books! Very quippy pace and language with a slight sarcastic edge, seems to run similar to how I talk to myself! No wonder, the author is a fellow Saggitarian...explains a few things!

I also follow some of my favorite writers at the Cozy Chicks Blog..

What are your great escapes? Is there a particular genre of books you gravitate towards when you need to be whisked away?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Shabby Apple Giveaway!

Pretty, vintage-inspired and affordable, Shabby Apple has become one of my favorite brain-break places to visit in my virtual shopping mall!

And who can resist a giveaway?? Enter to win your chance at a $100 gift card to use to purchase your perfect summer garden party dress or a 20's inspired swimsuit!

Visit Shabby Apple $100 Gift Card Giveaway to enter!

Keeping my fingers crossed!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Inspirations Friday - Bullying

I've been a little tired this week and feeling uninspired. I was FORCING myself to think of something that MAY or MAY NOT inspire me. Just wasn't feeling it.

A friend of mine were taking a break at work and she started telling me about the movie she just made her 15-year old son and one of his friends watch, "Bully". Suddenly I was inspired.

I'm not going to pontificate of the evils of bullying. If you're reading this, you already know, and you're probably NOT in denial that it exists. It's not just "boys being boys" or "spoiled little daddy's girls". It's mean, it's wrong, it's born out of ignorance and misguidance. There, I'm off my soap box already!

I've never felt a need so strongly to want to help, but not sure how to yet. I'm not a parent, not affiliated in any way with a school, but I was unfortunately, bullied in the past.

I found myself opening up to someone for the first time probably ever about the rough time I had in Junior High School and for the first two years of High School (same town, same kids so what do you expect?). Years later I found out it was my supposed "best" friend that was rallying for the assassination of my self-esteem. I had no friends in the seventh grade because of it, and it was a slow-start to the eighth grade. I think it really started in the sixth grade when puberty started to hit and everyone was a little bamboozled by the surge of hormones rushing through their bodies. I was a late-bloomer, wasn't quite there yet and didn't understand any of it.

While I still wanted to play "store" and act out stories from my favorite books, many of my friends moved on to other not-so-innocent antics. I guess bullying made them feel they had the upper hand and made them deal with the confusion in how their bodies and minds were changing. If they couldn't control that, at least they could control something...or someone else.

Usually it happened on a Friday or Saturday night. There were the slumber parties that suddenly I wasn't invited to anymore. There was the round-robin of crank phone calls all night, threats, harassment of my parents and the lies they heard. There was the awkwardness Monday at school, the whispers, the hush hush gossip, the giggles and know-it-all looks. There were the concerts and birthday parties I was excluded from, and the lunches eaten alone at the corner of the cafeteria.

And I didn't understand any of it. I hadn't done a thing, but I guess that, too, in a way was the problem.

Towards the end of the eighth grade, it had improved, but reared its ugly head again by sophomore year in high school. Different group of girls this time and I stared it down incredulously. Fine, go ahead, beat me up, taunt and tease me over lies, trust the other person whom you just meant and throw away our childhood friendships. Fine with me. I didn't need any of it anymore. I was beyond hurt. Anger started to take over because I wasn't going to be the victim this time around. And I wasn't.

I actually earned some respect and the bullying this time around stopped almost as soon as it started. That was lucky for me, but not the norm for many.

If you were bullied, or know someone who was or is still, STAND UP! Do something! Sitting back and letting it play out is not going to help. Being supportive in any little way can. Don't be afraid anymore. You have the upper-hand!

The pain never fully goes away. I still feel it to this day. I'm still baffled as to how anyone could be so mean and hurtful no matter WHAT their age or what is going on in their bodies.

My pledge to you is to start somewhere. If you have a Facebook account, "like" the following pages in solidarity. There's strength in numbers and you can find more great information on their pages!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"I Love It" Thursday - A Bonny List Fer Tha!

One of my favorite places that I long to travel to someday is Yorkshire, England. Rolling hills, misty air, sheep, and farms. While I am sure life for the farmers hasn't always been pleasant or easy, it looks idyllic to me, especially after a long day of sitting in front of the Samsung, straining to find hidden and random XHTML code responsible for webpage meltdowns....well, maybe always not-so-random (I am still in training, you know!).

My head has been spinning long-past bedtime lately as I have a hard time coming off of my work-a-day high of trying to solve today's installment of "The Mystery of the Broken Hyperlink". Call me Nancy Drew; sometimes my brain seems more "on" at 3 a.m. than when it should be during the OTHER waking hours when I actually get paid to look like I know what I am doing. The only salve for my bruised brain (and ego) has been getting lost in a good read or a good British TV show, many which double as both. Dual-purpose entertainment - gotta love it!

Oh to be a Brit and solve all of life's problems over high-tea and scones! If it were only that easy...maybe reading tea leaves will unlock the mysteries of the web!

Here's a list of the countryside I've found myself meandering through lately (not all Yorkshire, but primarily!):

By far my favorite TV show and my introduction to the English countryside of Yorkshire. Seasons 1-3 and the specials are the best. I started reading the books when I was eight; the are frequently re-read and always loved!

A new treasure! Takes place in Kent and I am in love with the family! The books are on my Amazon wish list (in case you are planning on buying me a present anytime soon! - no pressure!). Yes, that IS a young Catherine Zeta Jones!

Almost slap-stick comedy at times at its finest! I can't believe this show ran for over 30 years and never seemed to lose its edge! Absolutely lovely Yorkshire scenery to boot! 

Takes place in London which occasional trips to the countryside, but I had to include it. Some of the best comedy written and no matter how many times I see the reruns on PBS or check them out from the library, the episodes remain as fresh to me as the first time I saw them!

Lovely Oxford countryside and although these families endured incredibly hardships, you can still appreciate their love for their land and each other. Hopefully the book will be just as good!

I strongly suggest you check any of them out when you have a chance! I've been lucky enough to find them at my local library, even if I have to wait a few weeks (always well worth the wait!).

Ohhh....and ANY Jane Austen movie will do in a pinch as well as they offer stunning glimpses of the English Countryside. My hats of to the Queen!

What do you get lost in?

Monday, April 2, 2012

My No-So-Latent Strength

In reading an email I sent to a friend detailing the events of the last two years of my life, I discovered something about myself this weekend: I never really thought of myself as a "strong" person, but what I've gone through, the decisions I've made and my strong convictions have taught me that I am, indeed, strong.

Strength is as much a willingness to make changes, no matter how frightening, as well as feeling in control and picking your battles. Strength is accepting your mistakes and pledging to learn from them, more so than it is to sit back and never try anything in the first place and just accept the status quo. It's going with your gut, when everyone else points in the opposite direction.

It's resilience.

I've learned a lot about myself in the last 24-months or so. Sure, it may take me a while, but eventually I come around. I've always been a slow or late bloomer. But when I've made up my mind to do something, there's no stopping me, even if it takes me longer than most. I don't have regrets. I would, though, if I just sat back and accepted everything as it was even if it hurt to do so.

I may at times seem overly-sensitive or indecisive. But that's just my mind working over-time to make sure I'm making the right choices. I tend to hash things out in my head, by myself. It does keep me up at night and gives me butterflies, but in the long-run, I am confident in my decisions. There's no looking back. I do what I need to do and move forward.

It's a quiet strength I never realized I had. I took it for granted as being weak. That's far from the truth.

As anxious as I was last Friday to make that phone call, I did, to surprising results. Once I put the nerves and excessive sweating behind me, I felt renewed and a huge sense of accomplishment. I could tackle anything at that point. I had no regrets and saw the anxiety I experienced as a blessing and opportunity.