Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sometimes the Universe Sends Me a Reminder...

Though I know better, I often live in a bubble of my own making. I go about my days, doing my thing not thinking much about the possibilities that can happen as a result.

Ever since I started writing book reviews and conducting author interviews for Chick Lit Central I have taken the approach that it was for my enjoyment - nothing more, nothing less.  Though the rational part of my brain realizes people actually read what I put out there, the part of me that is wrapped away in my bubble doesn't think much of it.

However, periodically, I will receive a comment on what I've written or something like this will randomly pop-up: The Daily Carly. What is it you're looking for you ask? Check out the headline that reads, "Chick Lit Central: The Blog!: Jen Lancaster claims her chick lit turf... plus a giveaway!"

And whose interview was it you ask? Before I answer that question I'll give you chance to guess...

Give up? Yep, it was yours truly.

We found out that this particular interview was picked up by Carly Phillips by an individual who read the interview, e-mailed us to let us that they liked it and how they found the blog, and also told us they were going to continue following CLC because they liked the interview so much.

First and foremost, I'm always flattered when someone praises what I've written. (Seriously, even though I've been writing for CLC about a year now, and I've received my fair share of positive comments, every time I receive a compliment it still feels like the first one I've ever received. Remember, I'm just over here in my bubble doing my thing.) However, this interview was a BIG deal and I felt very fortunate to have gotten the chance to run it from start to finish to begin with. Furthermore, I am flattered that Carly picked MY interview of all the interviews that posted yesterday about Jen Lancaster... and trust me, there were plenty of them to choose from.

So tonight, I send a heartfelt "Thank you" out to Carly for selecting my interview for her blog. Also, a heartfelt "Thank you" to Penguin Group for sharing the post and to all those who enjoy reading my CLC reviews and interviews.  It is truly my pleasure and privilege to be able to share my thoughts and words with you.

Also, a "Thank you" to the universe for sending this my way... it's nice to have the reminder every once in awhile that there is life outside my little bubble.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Little Bit of This; A Little Bit of That

This week for the Thursday Blog Project, Susanna asked us to write about the following:  What do you collect? Why is this a reflection of you?

At first the only thing that came to mind is that I collect frog items.  I've been doing this for as long as I can remember.  Actually, I have a frog item in every room of my place.  Sometimes it's obvious, and other times not so much - I don't want there to be overkill.  I've been collecting frog stuff since I was attending school at TCU - aka, "The Horned Frogs".  My first frog item was a Beanie Baby frog - named "Legs" - from my mom as a Valentine's Day gift.  (She put it in a Starbucks travel mug so I also got that for VDay, too.)  However, after college my love of frogs lingered on.  I'm not sure what this says about me, but I figured as long as I don't over do it I don't really need to think about what it says about me.

The coolest shot glass in my collection
Another thing I collect is shot glasses.  Though this isn't such an odd thing to collect, I actually collect shot glasses from places I've never been to.  It started about four years ago when a friend of mine got me a few of them from the cities she had been to for work.  Since I didn't do a lot of travel at the time I thought it was funny.  Now a days, I still ask people to bring me back a shot glass from their vacations if it is a place I've never been and don't anticipate every going to.  (And I never expect people to pay for them.)  However, I have a few "one off" glasses from the few places I've traveled to recently or other special glasses.  The thing this collection says most to me is that I have to travel more.  It was a message I took to heart more in 2012 and hope I can do a fair share of in 2013, too.

The last collection I'll write about it my book collection.  Since I joined the Chick Lit Central team I've obtained quite a few books.  When I started doing book reviews for CLC I totally expected my book collection would grow , however I didn't expect it multiply like it has.  Even though I'm done reading a lot of them I can't seem to let go of them.  It's like a part of me expects that I'll read them again.  Honestly, I find this collect just humorous in general because a few years I MAYBE picked up one book, whereas last year I read and reviewed 16 books.  My how times have changed!!!

Now that I've talked about my collections, please take a moment to read what my fellow bloggers have to say about theirs......

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

•  Mom of Many (Susanna) 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Measuring A Year

This week for the Thursday Blog Project, Melissa asked the group to write about the following:  In "Seasons of Love" from the musical "Rent," they ask "How do you measure a year?" Throughout the song, they list the ways in which one might do so. ("In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee...") Talk about how YOU measure a year. 

WOW!  That is a great question!  For some one who reflects upon the past, often, this is a difficult one for me to answer right now.  Not because I don't know how I measure a year, but due to the fact that I have been "measure a year" a lot lately.

Thing in my life are in flux at the moment - a lot of flux actually.  To say "when it rains it pours" feels like an understatement.  I am overwhelmed, but thankfully it's in a good way.  Even though I have been looking back a lot it's hard for me to write about it right now.

In another life, I would have written about it on this blog while it was happening; however, that's not me anymore which is one way I can measure a year (or even two).  I guess that is one things I can note - what I write about has vastly changed since I started blogger, and surely changes year to year.

I apologize for my lack of content on this one.  Again, it has a lot to do with what is going on in my life right now.  Please take a moment to see how my fellow bloggers measure a year:

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

•  Mom of Many (Susanna) 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

BlogHer Book Club Book Review: The Willpower Instinct

Almost two years ago I gave up eating chocolate.  

It was Ash Wednesday 2011 and earlier that day a good friend of mine and I were walking through the train station downtown trying to determine what we were going to get for lunch.  Somehow, some way the conversation went from lunch to the fact that it was Ash Wednesday and what I was going to give up for Lent.  Now, the question was more of a joke then anything else as I am Jewish, but it got me thinking.  What would I give up for Lent if I actually did observe the tradition.  I asked a friend (who is also Jewish) of mine what they would give up if they had to give something up.  Her response: Chocolate. :P Oh, I'd love to be able to give up chocolate.  As I made my way home that evening I got hungry and ironically I had a 3 Musketeers bar on me.  I took a bite out of the bar and thought to myself how it was just "ok".  I didn't eat anymore of the bar.  Instead I spent the remainder of the ride home thinking about how chocolate was no longer enjoyable to me and if it really would be so difficult to give it up.  That's when I decided to try to go the duration of Lent without chocolate.  At first it wasn't easy.  However, as one might imagine it got easier as time went by.  Part of that ease had to do with my willpower.

Willpower is not something I think about consciously about most of the time.  Most of the time I just do things that come naturally to me, but at the end of the day there have been times when I have had to consciously think about. Though I believe I have a good handle on willpower, I wanted gain a better understanding on the topic.  This is where The Willpower Test by award winning psychologist Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. comes into play.

Based on a continuing education class "The Science of Willpower" Dr. McGonigal designed for Standford University, this book takes readers through the ins and outs of willpower.  The idea behind the book was to take readers through her ten week course which includes the reader implementing the material into their own life.  Yes, readers of this book are encouraged to pick something they believe could be helped by willpower as a basis for the exercises in this book.  I think a person gets the most out of this book if they do the exercises.

I like the way the sections of this book are titled.  They were light and catchy.  For example, "From Saints to Sinners".  They were definitely made me want to dig into the information.  In regards to the information, it was understandable and interesting.  I didn't feel like I needed to have a Ph.D. to understand what was being said nor did I feel it was drab and painful to get through as some books with similar formats might be.  

Overall, this book gave interesting insight on the topic of willpower and has an interesting approach too.

Disclosure: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own. 

Changing It Up A Bit

This week for the Thursday Blog Project group, Sara presented us a challenge:  Do something you've never done before. Something new and/or different. Tell us about your experience. 

Originally when she gave us this challenge, I figured my "something new" would be having a glass of champagne while I got a pedicure.  Though I had planned on doing this LONG before this assignment came up, it was in fact something I had never done before.  However, I decided to do something different instead.

For over a year I've worked in an environment where I can wear jean to work.  No formal or business casual attire required for this gal.  This fact has caused me to slack a bit in my appearance.  Sure, I dressed nicely when were interviewing candidates, but aside from that I've kept it pretty casual.  So to mix things up, the other day I wore a nice top and skirt.  Oh, I even put on a pair of heels too!

It was interesting to see the reaction of others.  I noticed I got looks from people who see me on a daily basis in jeans.  I could even tell the folks at the train station were wondering what was up.  In the morning, getting on the train was interesting.  The skirt I was wearing was fitted and limited my range of motion so when the train engineer once again over-shot the platform and I had to jump up a bit to get to the first step I had a bit of trouble.  I worried this would be a problem, but hoped it wouldn't be.  Maybe I should have lifted up my skirt a bit to help with this situation, but I do have a sense of modesty for goodness sake.  At work my coworker asked me why I was dressed up and if I had something special going on, but that was the only really comment I got.  I think there were some who wanted to ask, but didn't.

In some ways this was an adjustment for me.  As I said above "dressing up" for work is a novelty.  As such, it makes me feel different.  When I dress up nice I believe I carry myself differently.  Even when I'm wearing a nice top and pair of jeans there surely is a more relaxed way about me.  I don't care as much about my appearance.  Also, when I slip on a pair of heel... I truly do carry myself differently then.

It was an interesting little experiment and I'm glad Sarah "tasked" us with this challenge.

Now that I've talked about what I did diffierent this week, see what my fellow bloggers did different:

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•   Mom of Many (Susanna)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Great Lessons of 2012

One of the nice things about getting to pick the Thursday Blog Project topic is that you usually pick it because you know you have something to say about the topic (or at least that has been my experience).  So, as you might imagine, I had something specific in mind to write about when I picked today's topic: What is the greatest lesson you learned in 2012, and how do you plan to apply what you learned in 2013?  And that was the case.  I was sure I knew what exactly I was going to write about, however as this Thursday drew closer I began to waiver.

2012 taught me a lot of lessons.  I did a lot of things differently in 2012 that I hadn't done before.  I avoided conflict and situations that caused me stress when it was in my control to do so.  I took chances and started living more of a life than I have in a long time.  I also tackled a few challenges that I had always avoided.  (And those are the things I can remember doing - there are probably so many other things that I am not mentioning because I can't remember them at this moment.)

Of all the lessons I've learned, three stick out to me as the greatest lessons learned in 2012.

Sometimes you have to take a great risk
For the past several years I've played things "by the book".  For that matter, I can probably say that about how I've conducted myself my whole life.  I've never done anything that anyone can really say was irresponsible. I'm not the person people would call a risk taker.  That is until now.  In 2012 I took some risks that could have failed and set me back.  Instead, I saw recognized the risks and owned them, but also saw the rewards that could come from taking the risk.

This was a good thing for me.  It opened my mind up to a world of possibilities and made me think seriously about the different things I want to do in my life.  From that I have made a list of things I wish to try in the near future.  It's also made me take a serious look at things in the present and the steps I need to take to change the things I want to be different.

Letting go  of the "Oh Shit Bar"!
Going hand-in-hand with what I just talked about above is letting go of what I call my life's "Oh Shit Bar".  In 2012 I started to live my life again.  Instead of holding off on doing certain things because I really shouldn't have done these things because circumstance weren't what I needed them to be, I just let go of the oh shit bar and started living life again.  I feared doing this mainly because I was afraid of what others around me would say.  I'm sure there has been some criticism from some that I really shouldn't have done the things I've done even though I have the right to enjoy life and relax just as much as someone in a better position.

Removing myself from conflict or stressful situation when I can
I guess that is where the whole avoiding conflict and stressful situations part of my plan comes in to play.  By removing myself.  Some people might call this being passive, but I really saw it as removing myself from unneeded strain in my life.

Does this mean I avoided conflict all together?  Absolutely not.  I guess if I had to really simplify what I did it's that I picked my battles better and recognized situation that could potentially cause me unneeded grief and strain before they were even an issue.

The last great lesson I learned in 2012 was...

Seize opportunity... even if it's just for the sake of saying you had the experience
 I did a lot of things in 2012 just for the purpose of having a new experience.  I strongly believe that you aren't truly living if you aren't constantly trying new things.  There are a lot of things I did this past year that were new experiences for me.  I can't tell you how many times I uttered the phase, "At the very least this is something new to try and I'll have a new story to tell."

I plan to apply all these lesson that I learned in 2012 to my life in 2013.  I feel like they have shaped a life that I enjoy living and have led me to exciting new places and can do the same in 2013.  I think they have also opened up my mind to learning new lessons this year as well.  And have really given me an solid understanding that we are never done learning and that learning can happen in many different ways.

Now that I have talked about the lessons I have learned in 2012 and plan to apply in 2013, please take a moment to read what my fellow bloggers have to say:

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

•  Mom of Many (Susanna)