Lady on Lady Hate.

Today I would like to touch on something that has been on my mind a lot recently between my newly chosen education/career path and the media.

Lady on Lady Hate.

What sparked this post was a tweet that author J.K. Rowling sent out in support of Madonna after Madge fell during her performance at the Brit Awards last week.  For those that didn’t see a clip, Madonna was performing her new single and it appeared she got pulled down off of a platform by the cape she was wearing by one of the dancers.  It wasn’t her fault and it was an accident.  Madge, always graceful, got right back up and continued performing.  The problem is that the world went NUTS with nasty and snide comments about Madonna.  I mean, this wasn’t even her fault!  Even if it had been, shouldn’t our first worry be for her safety?   Shouldn’t we applaud her recovery and drive to go forward instead of reveling in her less than glamorous moment?  Well, J.K. Rowling did just that in this tweet:

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The sad thing is that it is so very rare to see a woman praising or applauding another woman in today’s world. The media makes it seem that, as a whole, women are kind to each others faces and nasty behind each others backs. Sadly I can think of far more women in my life who fit that than the type of woman who supports and encourages other women, and I blame a lot of that on society and media.

As young ladies we get mixed messages.  We are told to be dainty and girly and always polite.  But, then we are told to grab life by the sensitive bits and pursue our dreams, and that we can do whatever boys can do.  It is entirely possible to be both.  You can be driven and kind. You don’t have to revel in someone’s misfortunes.  We as humans, by nature, don’t like every single person we meet.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But to be a ‘Mean Girl’ to someone new in the work place just because it’s fun?  To rip apart someone, no matter how famous, who had some sort of misfortune?  That’s NOT okay.

So when did it become so ‘fun’ to make fun of others – regardless of if we know them or how famous they are?  When did that become the proper thing to do?   I firmly believe that hate is a learned action.  Just like young girls who see their mothers obsess over their own bodies tend to grow up to do the same, young girls who listen to their mother and her friends tear other women down for whatever reason think that’s the ‘norm’ and ‘okay.  Young girls coming home from school in tears because someone bullied them, or way worse, ending their own lives over bullying.  It’s not a joke and it’s not okay… yet the meanness continues in our schools and in our media.  It is our job to teach the younger generations how to act, and so far friends… we are doing a bang up job at best.  But, that is a post for another day.

Higher Ground

As always, I am terrible at blogging.  I can’t tell you how many times I had a thought, an idea, or an event that made me WANT to write.  But then, I just didn’t.  Depression is a MFer.

So here I sit, awaiting yet ANOTHER wonderful north east Ohio snow storm that OF COURSE has to happen on a Sunday so I get to drive in a mess to work at 6:15am on Monday morning because even when the weather forecasts call for snowmageddon, somehow the cities are never ready for it.

I bought a new planner today.  This was the highlight of my day.  And I know there are those of you who don’t know me out there confused as to why:
A) I am buying a planner when it is almost March, as opposed to doing so at the new year like a “normal person”
and/or
B) Why buying a planner was the highlight of my day

It’s because… I as of March 30th I will be back in school to obtain my Master’s Degree in Psychology with a concentration in Gender Studies.

I have always wanted to go further with my education.  The problem was I was so stunted when it came to options.  I have my BA in Human Development and Family Studies.  This has me working at a local child care center – where the money isn’t half bad and the job is really fun.  However, I paid HOW MUCH for that piece of paper and I am changing diapers and wiping snotty noses of children who are not my own.  I knew online schooling would be my best bet – I could still work full time without rushing to and from class.   But, honestly?  The only things I could think of were in the education field or counseling.  Both require outside practicum hours that would be nearly impossible to make work within the confines of my work schedule.  So, I gave up.  Maybe I just wasn’t mentally ready to think about going back at that time.  Maybe I was just terrified (oh wait, I still am!).  Whatever the reason was, it just didn’t happen then, or any of the handful of other times I really started to look into Grad School again.

A few weeks back I had a conversation with a friend of my husband’s who is a HR person.  She was trying to help guide me into a new career path as I had expressed interest in getting out of child care/teaching and doing something… more.  I craved more.  I like to think I am good at what I do, and I do enjoy it… but I need something different to make me fully happy in my career.  Shortly after that conversation I was reading posts and chatting with one of my favorite people on the planet.  Unbeknownst to her she was inspiring me through her work that she is doing within human sexuality.  It got me really thinking that maybe I could turn something I am majorly passionate about into a living for myself.

Things that I am passionate about:  Ending mental health stigmas, GLBT rights, Breaking traditional gender roles, sexuality within rape survivors or eating disordered patients…. just to name a few.

Forward to another conversation with another lovely lady who got her Masters degree online and is now working on her Doctorate.  She encourages me to check into the school she attended for her Masters… when I start searching through offered programs I was becoming discouraged.  It was more of the same… until I saw the Psychology program offered a concentration in Gender Studies.  It clicked.  I *KNEW* it was right for me.  I went for it.

I had the day off of work on Monday (funny how that worked out…) and reached out to the school.  Now here we are.  I will be studying online at a Regionally Accredited University and within eighteen months to two years, depending on how I stagger my courses, I will be finished.  My mind is absolutely spinning at the ideas I have and the jobs I can look into once all is said and done.

Am I nervous?  VERY.  I have ADD and because my husband and I are trying for a baby I can’t be on my medication.  I have anxiety and depression that can be overwhelming at times.  However, I also have the support of my husband and close friends who all believe in me.  My mom and a few other family members that know seem very excited for me and are encouraging as well.  I know it will take some work, and maybe more work than the ‘average’ person.. but I can do this.  I will.

Here’s to new beginnings and hopefully a whole load of success.

Bout of Books 12.0 Wrap Up!

Bout of Books 12.0 ends tonight, and I doubt I will see much in the way of any progress worth noting tonight.  It was a super long day of moving furniture and cleaning my house… so it was a total loss in the way of reading.  I have to admit, I kinda sucked for this read-a-thon.  I didn’t complete my goal, and until last night I was way behind.

Total pages read: 727

Total books read: 3 – One novel and two graphic novels.

During the week I ended up focusing on The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.  I didn’t read a lot each night, due to being absolutely knackered after going back to work from a long break, but I tried to get a few pages in each night.  Saturday I finished that book and moved on to Anya’s Ghost… that was a pretty quick read and I was able to also pick up and finish The Gigantic Beard that was Evil.

However I made no progress on Bad Feminist.  I thought I was really going to be more into that one than The Interestings, but that wasn’t the case.  I’m enjoying Bad Feminist, though, and plan to finish it soon.

Not my best read-a-thon but not my worst.

Reviews of all books and graphic novels are forthcoming :)

Bout of Books 12.0!

I normally wouldn’t make two posts in a day, let alone within a few hours of each other, but I just noticed that here is a Bout of Books reading challenge starting TOMORROW! I thought about just posting this tomorrow, but I am back at work (after twelve glorious days off) and so I wouldn’t get around to it until the evening and then day one is almost over!

For those who have absolutely no clue what I am talking about here’s the official Bout of Books Website.

I always mean to do these reading challenges, but they always tend to fall to the wayside (Bout of Books, Read Your Bookshelf-a-Thon, Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon), but because I am trying to read a bit differently this year (if that makes any sort of sense) I want to try some of these just to keep a momentum going.

Because it is my first week back at work and I know I will have TONS to do because my classroom just got repainted and I have to get ready for new students, etc… I am not going to go too crazy.  These are the reading goals I would like to reach this week, if possible:

I would like to finish the two books I am currently reading:

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The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
I am currently on page 236 of 538 and would like to finish the book this week.

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Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
I am currently on page 71 of 318 and would like to finish this book this week.

The next two are both graphic novels that I have out from the library that I would like to read this week:

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Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

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The Gigantic Beard that was Evil by Stephen Collins

This may be a bit ambitious of a TBR for the week, but I am more than willing to try and see how far I get!
Are you going to participate in Bout of Books 12.0?  If so comment down below and let me know your goals for this read-a-thon!

(all images via amazon)

Mindfulness on Social Media.

**This may be the first in a likely short series about mindfulness and it’s place in my daily life**

As always, the new year brings on introspection and self evaluation for many people – including myself.  Honestly, I find myself really doing this a few times a year.  I think being introspective is a great thing and to spend some time on deep personal introspection often is important to me.

With social media being so prevalent in recent years many, including myself, have falling victim to the need to make a status update at every single moment.  I love keeping up with my friends, and as an introverted home-bodied person I love seeing most people’s daily lives play out.  When my friends share their happiest moments, I am there to ‘like’ that status and celebrate with them.  When they post their struggles, I offer my support and an ear to listen.  But, where should we draw the line when it comes to what we share?  We’ve all heard about the ‘over-sharers’ on social media.  The ones that explain, in detail, their horrible break up or bout of the stomach flu.  We’ve also all heard of the ‘lurkers’ that never post a single thing but drink in every single moment of each dramatic status posted.  The key, for me, is finding a balance between the two.

This year I am trying to break myself of the daily habits I had when it came to social media. On January 1st, I posted two posts meant to be inspirational to others that were feeling introspective and wanting newness in their lives.  I’d like to continue some more of that.  I want to continue to share news stories that touch me, affect me, or that I feel others should be more informed about.  I want to share bits of my life, but to be mindful of not only what I am sharing, but also why I am sharing it.  Looking back at my Facebook timeline (the form of social media I use most often) I see quite a bit of them are repetitive or update style (doing this, now doing that, next up this… throughout a day updating as I go).  Let’s be honest here, no one cares ;)  That’s obvious by the very little interaction on those posts – and that is perfectly okay!  To share important and exciting moments is fine for me, but I don’t need to do a day by day diary.  It just doesn’t feel like ‘my style’ any longer.  That being said, I LOVE reading others posts like that and I am in no way trying to shame anyone away from it.

This also brings to light posts that can be misconstrued as ‘bragging’ or ‘showing off’.  I joined in a friends discussion of something similar back around Christmas time when she posted her feelings about the piles of presents under the tree/Christmas morning carnage photos.  I think in all honesty most of those are done out of sheer excitement and wanting to share their happiness and joy – not as a “Look at me!  Look at me!” deal.  I got a bracelet I had been wanting for several years from my husband for Christmas, and yes, I did post a picture of it on Facebook.  I used to post book hauls on Facebook as well, and I don’t any longer.  I am trying to be mindful of other people’s feelings – and also their opinions (which can at times be downright hurtful).  I’m not ‘showing off’ to show how ‘great’ my life is, nor am I doing it to make my life seem better than it is.  But, the more I have thought about it that’s another thing I want to try to pull back on a bit.  It’s not that I get tons of gifts all year long that I feel the need to share, but I also don’t need to prove anything to anyone for any reason :)

This was a lot of off the cuff thoughts pulled together rather quickly today.  Like I said before, this isn’t to say that I am judging ANYONE who chooses to do things differently than I do.  These words are just my own introspection on my own habits.

2015 Reading Goals

As this blog is going to be a lot about books, I thought I should share my 2015 reading goals.

For the last seven years, at least, I have been actively setting a goal for how many books I’d like to read.  I have also been keeping track of said books.  At first it was on a private book discussion board with some friends I made through an online journal site, and then I started using Goodreads.  Each year my goals were pretty much the same:  Read at least 52 books in a year and try my hardest to reach 100 books in a year.  In more recent years I have met and surpassed 52 books rather easily, but never reaching 100.

The last year and a half has felt like one big reading slump to me, and I was struggling to figure out why.  I would spend hours looking at BookTube videos on YouTube, searching for these titles that sounded wonderful at my library and through Amazon.  Then I would get the books home, and have little to no desire to read them.  It was frustrating.  It wasn’t until the end of 2013 that I finally think I figured out my problem.  I was pigeonholing myself into just one major genre – Young Adult.

When YA become a ‘thing’ I was really into it.  I grew up reading Fear Street, Box Car Children, Babysitters Club, Alice, and Anastasia Krupnik books.  But, nothing like today’s YA was available back then.  The stories in today’s YA are often just as fantastical and complex as things you would find in ‘regular’ adult fiction.  I loved the lighter tone of many of the books, and in all honesty, the shorter length of many of them.  What I think started to trip me up was all of the series/duologies/trilogys.  I get so into a series, for the first maybe three books… but then after that things start going in weird directions, I get confused because of the length of time between books (I am not the best at re-reading, I often get bored).

This past year I read a string of just ‘meh’ YA books which pulled me further into the slump I was already in.  When I looked back at some of what I was reading when I remember really being into reading, it was a lot of regular fiction books.  Those take me a bit longer to get through just because they are often more dense and/or longer – but I enjoyed them.  There are tons of books, a lot of classics included, that I haven’t read because of feeling like I need to meet a certain self-set goal.

So, here are my 2015 reading goals:
I have decided that my ‘goal’ will be 30 books.  If I go above that, great.  If I don’t reach it – that’s fine as well.  I just want to read and grow as a person along with what I read.
I am going back to trying to read two books at the same time – one fiction and one non fiction.
I want to tackle some classics, both long and short.
I want to finally get through A Game of Thrones, and hopefully one or two more in the series this year.
I want to read a little less YA and a lot more ‘regular’ fiction.  YA will still be read, as there are several releases I am looking forward to and series I’d like to finish, but it won’t be the main focus.
I am also going to read more graphic novels this year.  I read Saga (1-3) last year and fell in LOVE and it got me to pick up even more graphic novels.
I want to being to collect the works of the amazing Ray Bradbury.
Finally, I’d like to give a review of each book I read – no matter how old or new the book is.

I am sure I will revisit these goals as things change throughout the year, and I may even make changes here and there.  But, I am confident at this moment that these will work best for me as of now.

Be.

Several people I know, both bloggers and not, choose a word  (or in some cases a group of words) each year that are meant to serve as a guide and a challenge throughout the next year.  For several years now I have fallen back on my favorite word, which is “Believe”.  This year, I am going with something new.

Be.

To be present in each moment.  To be the best wife I can be.  To, hopefully, be a mother for the first time.  To be a better friend.  To enjoy each moment as it comes, and ride the waves of life as calmly as possible.  To simply just BE.

What am I hoping for 2015 in my life?  A lot of things, both big and seemingly small.  I am not ‘resolving’ to do any one thing, but rather work towards things and ideals that I would like to achieve.  Some things are out of my hands, but that doesn’t mean I can’t pray about them and do everything that is within my power to make them happen.  As for the things that are totally within my control, I just need to step up and do them.  It may require some thinking outside of the box, but I have the ability to make life a little sweeter for myself and those around me.

What am I hoping for 2015 for this blog?  First and foremost that I stick with it, which has never happened before ;) I tend to get so many great ideas and then get overwhelmed (a theme everyday of the week? Tried it.  No thank you!). To use this is a platform to discuss things affecting my life – likely both good and tough.  To blog about books, one of my biggest passions.  To do reviews of each book I read (I hope!) no matter how old the book is, instead of just focusing on new releases and Galleys like I have in the past.

So, welcome to the journey of my life – at least the bloggable parts.  2015 could be the best year yet, I plan to be present in each moment and make it so.