Sunday, November 2, 2014


We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.
May Sarton

I wonder sometimes if, in all my endeavors to be real and genuine, I am actually fake. One thing that is very important to me is to surround myself with people who are genuine. I can't tolerate being around fakeness, and I go quickly in the opposite direction if I encounter it. But, I've been pondering things. I strive to create a happy, cheerful, and optimistic presence online. 

On Facebook and Instagram, I post items that are upbeat and uplifting. I intentionally do not air dirty laundry, or post negative words, or anything that may cause my friends to argue and fight. If anyone crosses certain lines I have in my head, their comments are deleted and we all move on. I strive to create a happy environment online, especially on Facebook. I rarely speak about any troubles I'm walking through, or any struggles of any kind. I rarely (if ever) tell my friends that I'm having a bad time. 

But, I wonder, if in doing so, I'm really only showing a fake side of myself. Maybe I'm showing an unattainable goal. I'm creating a beautiful, picture-perfect life online, but when in reality, my life is far from perfect. 

Am I being the very thing that I hate? 

Where is the demarcation point? 

Can I display my true reality while being both optimistic and honest? Should I?

I don't know.

We all create an image (whether consciously or subconsciously), for others to see. We create the "us" that others see.


It's not truth. It's fiction. 

Tightrope - Alexander Millar

Friday, October 31, 2014

epilogue: a grand adventure!

What a grand adventure!

Writing is dirty and gritty and tough. The Write31Days challenge has been a fantastic growing experience for me, and also the most difficult thing I've ever done as a writer. I spent a lot of time outside my comfort zone. I learned about myself along the way.

I had to get over my perfectionism in a hurry. Before participating in this challenge, I wrote for the public eye very sporadically. Sometimes once a week, but more often, I posted once or twice a month. This gave me plenty of time to not only write “better”, but to also proofread, rewrite, and allow my wonderful team of dedicated “pre-readers” take a look at my work.

For the challenge, I had to post content every day, regardless of whether or not I was 100% happy with it. There are several typos and errors I've caught after publishing my words. But I've learned to move on, and go to the next project. I've learned its okay to not be perfect.

I've learned to not be so hard on myself. I have a tendency to be over-critical and extremely judgmental of my own work. During this project, there was simply no time to dwell on the typos or misspellings. I've had to move on to the next project. I suppose we need to live life like that – moving forward always

I signed up at the very last minute, with just barely an idea forming in my head. Since then, most of these posts have (thankfully) popped into my head in just the nick of time. Most mornings, I would wake up, and have absolutely no idea what to write.

I realized I've not read nearly as many classics as I thought I had. A friend sent me a link of “best books ever written” to help jolt my memory for books to write about. As I perused the list of 1500 books (no, I never reached the end) I saw so many I’d heard of which I’d never read. I intend to read more “classics.”

This month also challenged me to balance my life better. To prioritize. I need to pay attention to what I need as an individual. I have to learn to say no. There have been several outside stressors in my life, in addition to writing the daily posts. Although it’s not easy, I discovered I can handle setting aside more time to write.

I need to write more. I don’t write enough. I call myself a writer, but I need to write daily, so I can stretch my mind and get more proficient. So, one day I can publish something really worth reading.

Oftentimes, I fall into the trap of comparing myself to my writer friends; they are extremely talented. I need to only compare and compete against who I was yesterday.

What matters is me improving myself, and my craft. If I waste time on comparing, I’m unhappy, and while stuck the comparison trap, I won’t grown as a person, or progress as a writer.

The comments, the conversations, and the page views were all a wonderful bonus; but I did this challenge for myself most of all. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it.

To my many dedicated readers, old and new, for not only reading, but encouraging me to continue writing, thank you for believing me in me: Joanne, Becky, Abby, and Judy. I truly appreciate you.

I've been encouraged and helped immensely by others who were also participated in this challenge: Amy thank you for encouraging me to get over my need for perfectionism. Corie thank you for being such a kind and patient teacher. Chris thank you for encouraging me to share my words, and for reminding me to call myself a writer. David thank you for being a fantastic cheerleader, and adding my links to your posts.

Thank you Jay for getting me lunch on the days I was too busy writing to stop and eat.

Everyone, THANK YOU!

>> If you'd like to read all of my 31 posts: click here.

Photo Credit: Wesley Jobes, August 1, 2010

This post is part of the 31 Days of Bibliophilia series.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Passage

“We live, we die. Somewhere along the way, if we're lucky, we may find someone to help lighten the load.” 

I’ve never read a book like this before. It was recommended to me by my friend Chris, when I signed up for Audible several months ago.

It’s a very intense story. There are many characters; it’s somewhat difficult to keep track of them all in your head. But hang on, I promise it will be worth it. This tale reaches out and grabs you. Despite the horror, the heartbreak, and the downhill spiral, you have to know how it ends.

One of the most intriguing sections, and an integral part of the story, is the top secret experiment which began in a secret underground lair deep in the mountains in Colorado.

The US government rounded up twelve death row inmates, and, after convincing them to sign release forms, conducted experiments on them. The scientists wanted to produce super soldiers for the US Army. The experiment content originated from a man named Fanning, who had been a survivor on an expedition into Bolivia, where he had been bitten by an infected bat.

If you think you know where this is going, you might be right.

The twelve subjects slowly grew stronger. The scientists didn’t feel as if they saw much progress; all the “creatures” did was to eat 9 out of the 10 rabbits they were given for food.

By this time, they were referred to as creatures, because their bodies had morphed into weird rabid-looking beings. They hung in the corners, making clicky noises with their throats. Their claws clicked on the walls, and their eyes glowed with liquid green fire.

The scientists, and the soldiers guarding the compound, received orders to shut down the operation. There was no perceivable success. The subject had so far shown no signs of superiority or special immunities. They were freaks.

However, unknown to the scientists, the twelve have developed the ability to communicate in their minds.

One of the assistants, Grey, was able to understand them clearly, and, on the insistence of Babcock (one of the twelve), he unlocks the secured area, releasing them all. He is bitten, becoming the first casualty.

What follows is utter chaos. The twelve ran rampant across the country, killing. The people, whom they did not kill, were changed into creatures like themselves. The entire population of North America is nearly wiped off the face of the earth.

Much later on in the story, someone remarked, “Sorry, we made vampires; it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

But what follows is a delightful collection of twisty plots and surprises. It’s a magnificent book, and I’m happy this was my first great vampire story. 

The Passage, 2010, Justin Cronin

This post is part of the 31 Days of Bibliophilia series. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Hunger Games

“I am not pretty. I am not beautiful. I am as radiant as the sun.” 

I can be a very stubborn woman. This delightful trait was handed down to me from many generations of stubborn Polish ancestors. It can be a blight on my personality, but there might be a good reason for it.

I was extremely stubborn about this book. Despite the well-meaning and gentle (some not so gentle) suggestions of family and friends, I absolutely refused to read it. I don't like to do what everyone else is doing. Neither will I often read what everyone else is reading. I want to make up my own mind about reading a book. If it's popular, and everyone else is reading it, I walk swiftly away from it. I'll read it eventually, maybe, but always on my own terms.

Finally, I picked it up on a Friday night. I didn't go to sleep until I'd turned the last page. No, that's a lie. I intentionally left myself two pages for that Saturday morning, because I didn't want to admit that it had such a strong hold on me. I wanted to keep in control of myself.

The story is that of Katniss Everdeen, a young woman, sixteen years old.

She lives in Panem, a country created sometime after what we assume is the demise of earth as we know it. Inside the boarders of Panem, lie the Capitol and twelve districts in various states of poverty.

Katniss is the responsible one; she takes care of her mother and her younger sister Prim. Her father died in a mine explosion, leaving her mother nearly comatose with grief. Her mother stays home all day, barely lucid. Katniss supplements their meager rations by illegally hunting small game (and if she's lucky, a deer or two) on government property. She is proficient in bow hunting, and can also find edible berries and plants in the woods.

Many years before Katniss was born into District 12, an uprising took place in the 13th, the most outermost District. The rebellion was swiftly overthrown by the existing government.

As a cruel reminder to the populace, the president of Panem, his fellow politicians and advisors, hold an event: The Hunger Games. Annually, two young “tributes” (a male and female) between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from each district. The tributes are then tossed (after some physical preparation and training) ceremoniously into an arena; they must fight to the death until only one remains, all while being recorded and watched, and their odds being bet on my people who don’t care if they live or die.

The names of potential tributes are added throughout the year, as they become eligible, into a giant lottery. Some, those who have poor families, have their names in the bowl many times. For a small loan, the families can add the name of their child again.

Katniss has her name added countless times; her family had to eat, so she added her name, and they ate. The odds, for her, are high. Prim, who has only just turned twelve; her name is listed only once.

At the annual selection ceremony, which everyone is required to attend, a silence creeps among the villagers. It is a horrible “game.”

A tipsy woman in spidery stilettos, with bright pink hair and a glimmery purple face slowly draws the first name.

Her voice echoes loudly across the still clearing, “Primrose Everdeen!”

I have a lot of admiration for this story. I love the strong, resilient female hero that Katniss portrays. I admire her courage. She faces fear and does not run away. She doesn’t depend on outside resources for help, or rely on someone else to save her; she saves herself.

It’s story well worth reading.

The Hunger Games, 2010, Suzanne Collins

This post is part of the 31 Days of Bibliophilia series. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


"I don't want to be just one thing, I can't be. I want to be brave and I want to be selfless, intelligent and honest and kind."

Divergent is a Young Adult title that reads easily, and is rather difficult to put down.

This is the story of Beatrice (Tris, as she later calls herself). She lives with her family in a future world near what, in years past, was Chicago. There are strict rules and laws in place that govern their society.

At the age of sixteen, every person takes a test that determines what “faction” they will belong in.

Abnegation: selfless
Amity: peaceful
Candor: honesty
Dauntless: brave
Erudite: intellectual

Once the test has determined what faction they should be in, each young person can choose. There is a ceremony during which each individual can either choose the faction that the test determined was best-suited for them, or they can go against the grain, against what they are taught, and choose another faction. Once their faction is chosen, they are no longer part of their old life. They no longer have any contact with their old life or anyone who was part of it.

“The future belongs to those who know where they belong.”

This seemed similar to me of when a young Amish person goes through Rumspringa. They have a certain number of years when they can “live English” but if they make the decision to leave the Amish church, they are “shunned” and can no longer contact their family and friends in the Amish church. In fact, their family treats it as if the person dies, and never speaks their name again.

After choosing their faction, each sixteen year old must to go through rigorous physical and mental training, evaluations and tests. If they fail, they will be tossed out as “factionless.” It is better to die than be factionless. Many factionless roam the streets, hungry and homeless. Groups made of Abnegation members often goes out to them, bringing food and clothing.

Tris took the test. However, her results were “inconclusive.” Instead of the normal one-faction result, her test shows Tris has a propensity for Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. Confused, she asks the test-facilitator. She whispers Divergent, and quickly erases the test results, sneaks Tris out a back door.

Tris is filled with confusion. She thought her test would tell her where to go, where she would fit it; she thought her questions would have been answered. She was born into an Abnegation family but never quite felt like she fit – she had a very difficult time being selfless.

This story is somewhat similar to titles such as The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and The Giver.

These are all situations in which a young adult comes of age and has to decide for who they are going to be. Will they obey all the rules set in place by their elders, or, filled with conviction, move forward rebellious, wantonly abandoning the rules in pursuit of a higher, more worthy, purpose?

What decision did Tris make? You’ll have to read the book to find out! 

Divergent, 2011, Veronica Roth

This post is part of the 31 Days of Bibliophilia series. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

October's Party

Today is my birthday; and this is my favorite poem about fall, my favorite season

October's Party
By: George Cooper

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came—
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly "hands around."

Photo credit: awelltraveledwoman

This post is part of the 31 Days of Bibliophilia series. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

books: life-changers

A good book is hard to read, on account of how often it makes you stop and think.
Chris Brady

If I'm engrossed in a book, I have to rearrange my thoughts before I can mingle with other people, because otherwise they might think I was strange.
Anne Frank

While the consequences are often quite hellish, I am absolutely and perhaps permanently against ignoring books recommended from the heart by very nice people and strangers; it is too risky and inhuman; also the consequences are often painful in a fairly charming way.
J.D. Salinger

Reading is sometimes thought of as a form of escapism, and it’s a common turn of phrase to speak of getting lost in a book. But a book can also be where one finds oneself; and when a reader is grasped and held by a book, reading does not feel like an escape from life so much as it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself.
Rebecca Mead

One must always be careful of books and what's inside them, for words have the power to change us.
Cassandra Clare

A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair.
Katrina Mayer

But when your heart is tired and dumb, your soul has need of ease,
There’s none like the quiet folk who wait in libraries–
The counselors who never change, the friends who never go,
The old books, the dear books that understand and know!
Margaret Widdemer

Image credit: booklover

This post is part of the 31 Days of Bibliophilia series.