Thursday, January 29, 2015

Anna Karenina

Anna KareninaAnna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Success! There were times I didn't think I was going to make it through this book - and I'll be honest, I skimmed through a lot of the "ranting" sections the last half of the book. I am so glad that I did read this, when the novel stuck to the story it was so well written. Tolstoy had an amazing gift for imagery, for understanding his characters, for creating "drive" in them, it was a very passionately (for late 1800's) and quite shocking story line.

Now for the criticism... this book rants - politically, socially, religiously - it rants. Those were the parts I started skimming as I realized they were just a way for Tolstoy to state his own arguments to what was going on in his life as current events. They really have nothing to do with the story. If you want to read Anna Karenina, and if such a thing exists, find a copy that has only the novel story in it.

Overall, a shockingly good read.

Summary: Leo Tolstoy’s classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature. Generations of readers have been enthralled by his magnificent heroine, the unhappily married Anna Karenina, and her tragic affair with dashing Count Vronsky.

In their world frivolous liaisons are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming passion makes them a target for scorn and leads to Anna’s increasing isolation. The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together. Anna Karenina is a masterpiece not only because of the unforgettable woman at its core and the stark drama of her fate, but also because it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.

Recommended Reading:
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Off The Wagon

I had week one and week two... and then week three, well, I was caught up in the crazy.

Water was a struggle. I'm lying. I made a half hearted effort and managed to chug down 16 oz through the day. However, I did stick to my 2 cups of coffee rule!

Bible reading... I thought about it?

Writing... I also thought about it?

Project 52... "Happy" just isn't a subject I want to deal with.

However, life must go on. In the past I would have been caught up in playing the "Catch Up Game", but that is not going to happen in 2015. What is going to happen in 2015 is just accepting where I am at. It will get better, or it will just be, but I won't ever know if I stop trying.

I'm back to using the big jug of water, I cut up half a lemon to put in it. I had been using a whole lemon, but I developed a ginormous cold sore on my lip. I'm not sure if it was from the additional acidity in my diet or just from stress, so on the side of caution I am going to scale back on the amount of lemon that I use.

Bible reading is at the fore front. I went to a workshop over the weekend and one of the topics was "Soul Care" and I have realized that between youth group and teaching Sunday School, my own spiritual well is not a well at all, but a canal. What goes in goes directly out, and sometimes it's in a drought. So I am going to actively seek out more ministry - I started Women's Bible Study last week and I'm going to ask for ministering from my pastor.

I'm going to stick with 15 minute time slots for writing. When I tried to increase to 20 minutes I stalled out, so I think 15 minutes is good. I know it's only about 100 words, but at the end of the week that's about 500 words I didn't have before.

Project 52, I am going to accept that there are some subjects that I may not be inspired by. It's okay, they'll still be there when the inspiration arrives. This week's subject is BUBBLES. Hmmm... I wonder where this will take me?

Also on my goal list for this week... finishing Anna Karenina. It's happening.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I Got This

I am super blessed to have friends around me. Really strong female friends who "get" me. I don't know how I would have gotten through the last month without them - whether it was letting me have a panic attack crying fit in her office, giving me a place to be on New Year's Eve, sending me meaningful pins on Pinterest, or sending me awesome articles such as "How to Kill Your Ex and Get Away With It". I'm kidding! This is the article that my friend TH sent me.

It got me to thinking though - how am I getting through this? It has been a struggle for me, more so than any breakup I've had before. Put that down to an intensity of emotion, the way things ended, or just that it was the straw that broke the camel's back (meaning: I'm tired of relationships that don' whatever the case, I'm going through some STUFF.

So, here's my advice for dealing with a broken heart. Or as I like to call it: How Breaking up Prepares you for Love.

H: Hurt. It's okay to hurt. The person who left meant something to you. There's a grieving process to go through. Just remember that even though you're broken, don't make other people broken too. It's instinctive for us to try to make others feel our misery. Don't do it. Just don't. So cry, make a Breakup play list on Spotify of every sad and angry song you can think of, write letters that you're never going to send, have pretend arguments in the shower where you get the last word with him, pack up his old shirts, and look at pictures, notes, text messages. Go ahead and hurt, but don't live in the house that hurt built.

B: Busy. Be busy. Find projects, make goals, renew hobbies, go places, be with people. Do the things you love even though you don't feel like doing it. Watch three seasons of 'Once Upon a Time' on Netflix. I had a friend go through a divorce last spring. She's a teacher, so over the summer she spent every day doing something, going somewhere, just being busy. The person that you loved isn't in your life any more (his loss), but you do still have a life.

P: Pray. Pray for healing your heart. Pray for peace. Pray for patience. Pray for understanding. Acknowledge to God that you don't know His plan, and even though it's hard for you to accept, there's a reason God took someone out of your life. Pray for forgiveness - for yourself if needed, and the other person. Pray for them to have the life they deserve. Pray for their happiness - even if you want them to be miserable forever - just keep praying it and one day you will really want them to be happy.

L: Learn. Take some time off to learn about relationships. Evaluate what you want, who you are, and where your boundaries lay. Was there something specific that he didn't like? Look at that habit objectively - is it something that needs to change? This is a hard one, I know. One thing that HE said he didn't like was how I seemed to get upset about little things. I know, and it's something I've been working on (and continue to work on)... but sometimes I think he missed the bigger picture of how my brain works and didn't bother to find out. Sometimes the best thing we can do in a relationship is to get someone else's perspective.

This is how I've been handling things the last month. It's left me barely holding on, but I am still holding on.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It's Always a Full Moon, Baby

I'm trying really hard not to complain about the weather... but I miss summer so much! Putting on 19 layers just to go from the house to the car is ridiculous. Although the last two days have been incredibly gorgeous for January in South Dakota.

My resolutions are going well. Water is good. (Except yesterday and today.) Less coffee is good. Exercise is good. Writing has been amazing - I logged in 1414 words since the last check, which brings me up to 1826! Project 52 is a fun challenge and an interesting way to look at my life.

I'm struggling on the reading front though - not because Anna Karenina is terrible, it's not, at all. I am totally in love with this book. The problem is that my wishlist on exploded. My TBR shelf shelves are out of control. I'm conflicted how to resolve this. Do I grab a bunch of shorties (books under 200 pages) and whip through five of them? Do I ignore and continue on with my door stopper challenge? Do I review and let go of books that may no longer interest me? Sigh. This is an issue for me. One that I can probably let go for another six months. If you have ideas, tips or just bad advice, leave me a comment!

That's it for updates. I have ideas for non-book related posts that will be coming soon. This blog is morphing from just book reviews and I like that. I'm okay with it. I'm looking forward to it, really. So keep watching for new content, new stuff - and let me know what you like!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Project 52 Sleep

Resolutions are good. Kicking butt on the water, still reading the Bible, working my way through Anna Karenina, and have logged in several hours writing. I don't have a word count because it's still written by hand and I haven't punched it into Word yet. It feels like a lot though. Possibly the most writing I have done in several years - and it feels oh-so-good.

This week's photos are about sleep. Something I have struggled with for a few decades. So it's ridiculous to try to find some happiness in pictures of sleep, but I tried.

Here are two of my favorite seven year olds settling in for a sleepover.

I was lucky enough to go to an overnight retreat at Bible camp. Good for my soul, not so good for sleeping.

My bed. I don't normally sleep with one of the couch cushions but The Diva brought it into bed so she could sit up and read. Why yes, she is my daughter.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Project 52 Water

I have a bunch of excuses why yesterday's post didn't happen - are you ready?
  1. It was Youth Group night. Which involves feeding my family a very rushed dinner of frozen pizza, getting both kids to the car, picking up my niece, plus any setup I have to do before class. Usually I have 30 minutes to accomplish this.
  2. It was -10000 degrees outside so after shoveling the snow drift in front of the garage, parking the car, dragging the trash can from the curb to the door, and then running back out to the garage (which I should mention is not attached to the house) to get my daughter's school bag... I was exhausted.
  3. Getting pictures posted to FaceBook and Instagram was as easy because I could do it from my phone. Getting stuff on this blog involves getting out the laptop.
  4. I really was exhausted. I haven't been sleeping well with all the emotional stuff going on. I do pretty good the first part of the night - I have finally stopped crying in the shower and myself to sleep (now if I could just manage the other 18 hours of the day... that'd be great) - but there's a blank space in my sleep. I don't know what else to call it. It's just this empty place where I stop dreaming and start thinking/remembering and it wakes me up. It sucks because I don't wake up enough to get up and do something else, but just enough that I'm not sleeping and my mind is thinking about HIM. I hate it.
So there ya go. There's my excuses. And here's my pictures.

This is my lemon and water jug. I haul it to work every day. My co-workers tease me about having lemon with my vodka. I like to think they're just jealous of my dedication to a project.

This is a picture of my leaky shower head. It makes me crazy hearing it drip-drip-drip but my attempts to fix it so far have failed.
Next week's subject is SLEEP. That should be interesting...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The First Step is the Hardest

I'm here. This is good. It's January in South Dakota. This is not good. I am already craving the warmth of summer. Green grass. Flip flops.

Instead I am buried in snow, less than zero temps, and clomping around in snow boots and thermal underwear.

First week of the year. Done! Resolutions are still here! So let's check in.

Money: Put $20 into the E Fund on payday. I also received my check from the newspaper, so that added $215. I had increased my 401k contribution to 15%. This may need an adjustment. I'm going to let it ride through January. Kids and I may have to eat beans and rice at months end.

Writing: I wrote 412 words (baby steps, small wins here, kids). That does not include my weekly column or this blog. Those are actual words for my manuscript. I decided to finish the novel I've been calling "Finding Adam". It's the closest to being done - ha! Now if I could just find the rest of what I wrote....

Happy People Goal is #12 - taking care of my body: Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. So what does this mean for me? Limiting my coffee and soda. Paying more attention to physical activity. Getting more sleep at night. Taking my PTSD meds.

Photo of the week is water. I'll be posting the pics I took tomorrow.

90 days of water: It's tough! My first day was a failure of epic proportions, but then I picked up a big 2 quart bottle and started adding sliced lemons to it. I can drink hot or cold. I even managed to make it through a weekend! And my coffee intake is down to two cups a day, and both of those are before noon.

Books: I finished a small book I had started before the new year. Now I'm digging into Anna Karenina, which technically I had started before the beginning of the year (like the beginning of December) but I haven't gotten very far. Now it is the only book I'm reading besides the Bible. I'm not consistent about reading the Bible every day, but I'm working towards that. Hopefully this will all work out! My wishlist on exploded. Right now I think I have 15 books coming. GULP! Good thing I've sworn off having a boyfriend or any semblance of a relationship in 2015.

Overall I am happy with my first week.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Lord of the Flies

Lord of the FliesLord of the Flies by William Golding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a fast read. It was a bit confusing at first because there isn't a setup - the book starts after the boys have been stranded on the island. It bugged me that I didn't know how they got there, what were they all doing on the plane, where were they going? So I moved past it. Kind of. The characters were quickly established, grounded in their personality and rapport between the book and reader began.

There is so much I want to say, but yet I'm overwhelmed by this book. How quickly the events escalated, and then just as suddenly there was the end. I wanted more. I wanted details of vengeance and the struggle to be human. It was over too soon.

Summary: William Golding's classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island is just as chilling and relevant today as when it was first published in 1954. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires. Overseeing their efforts are Ralph, "the boy with fair hair," and Piggy, Ralph's chubby, wisdom-dispensing sidekick whose thick spectacles come in handy for lighting fires. Although Ralph tries to impose order and delegate responsibility, there are many in their number who would rather swim, play, or hunt the island's wild pig population. Soon Ralph's rules are being ignored or challenged outright. His fiercest antagonist is Jack, the redheaded leader of the pig hunters, who manages to lure away many of the boys to join his band of painted savages. The situation deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away, until Ralph discovers that instead of being hunters, he and Piggy have become the hunted: "He forgot his words, his hunger and thirst, and became fear; hopeless fear on flying feet." Golding's gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition.

Recommended Reading:
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
1984 by George Orwell
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Getting on with 2015

I'm trying to be light-hearted as I write this but ... 2014 was a crazy year.

I started the year with the guy who was "the love of my life" and turned out to be a big fat liar.

I was angry.

I painted my dining room.

I vented on FaceBook.

And then I moved on. I met someone else. I was happy - oh so happy - and then Christmas came and it ended (apparently he was not as happy as I was). The relationship, the happiness, the end of it all is an aching spot in my chest. It wakes me up at night. I can't seem to swallow past it. I know it will heal in time. It will go away and just leave a little silvery scar. Right now though... it's pretty fresh.

Even though I'm starting 2015 a little broken, I think it's all going be okay a year from now. Who knows, maybe even next month. Or August. Whatever.

So what are my resolutions for 2015? Breathing. Getting up every morning. Pretending that I care.

I need to be more than that. Standing still, wallowing around in this heartache is not an option. I'm setting a few big goals for the entire year, and then some small goals to help me get back to the land of the living. I don't have set months for most of those challenges, but I'll be organizing and arranging over the next few weeks and will be sharing the challenges, progress, and success (or lack there of) with you.

Big Goals:
  • Half of my emergency fund built up. It's taken a hit over the last few years and really needs to be perked up. The other half will be a 2016 goal.
  • Full car fund. This may be a necessity in 2015. My current car is 10 years old and I average about 500 miles a week commuting to work. I refuse to make replacing a car become a panic driven emergency. I also refuse to go into debt because of it.
  • Christmas Fund. I say this to myself every year, and this time I mean it!

  • Finish a manuscript. I think I have three or four ideas half started. I want this to happen - even if it's not a best seller the next great American classic and I self-publish it myself.
  • Take two writing classes. I'm fortunate to be near a college that offers online writing classes.
Happy People Do This
I found a list of 12 things that happy people do. I'm going to focus on one each month, hopefully some become a habit. Fake it till you make it, right?

Project 52
A photo a week. That's it.

Small Challenges
Brought to you via Pinterest. I have collected a few little things that don't fall into the scope of "I have all year to do this" and more into the scope of "taking things one day at a time". Fun things. Fun things, healthy things, that will hopefully help me look at what I have in my life rather than the person who chose to leave it.
  • Drink water. I'm making this a 90 day challenge. You have to scroll a bit through the link to get to the part where she talks about drinking water, but it's like she's in my head. I have tried to drink more water - and when I do my skin clears up, I feel better, I sleep better and "other things" are better. I've never managed this for more than a month, so 90 days is a pretty big deal in my "coffee, beer, or tea" world.
  • Be Happy. This kind of goes with Happy People Do This, but it's focusing over a quick span of time. A lot of my friends do something similar during November. I'm gonna be weird and do it Not In November.
  • Planking. It's my least favorite yoga position. It would also be incredibly good for me to improve my core strength; I'd have less issues with my back and hip if those muscles were built up. I WILL love planking!
  • A Month in Photos with my kids. Should be easy. And interesting.
So there ya go! That's my game plan for 2015! Time is going to pass regardless, so I may as well make an effort to enjoy it! Are ya ready? (It's ok. Me neither.)