Monday, May 31, 2010

some life lessons are so hard...

I've been debating whether to post this or not.  I feel so immensely guilty thinking about it, let alone putting it out there in the world.  And I don't know if this is proof that therapy is working (they are very big on writing things down, especially when learning you are a writer), but I've decided that I want to get this out.  I'm hardly a popular blogger in the the big, mad world of the internet, but maybe someone will relate and come to realize what I'm still trying to work out.

My mother's issues were not about me, not really, and I don't need to let her unhappiness ruin the remainder of my life.

My mother passed away last year in January of 2009 and it was so bizarre to me when people would share stories.  They described this happy, full-of-love woman that I only caught glimpses of in my lifetime.  They talked about how caring and funny she was, how proud she was of me. 

It truly baffled me because that was not the woman I knew.  Most of what I knew of her was angry, mean, and a woman who wouldn't take care of herself.  She drank and got vicious when she did.  She would fight with my sister and I would be thrown into the middle trying to keep the peace, but I don't know why I bothered...because she always found fault with me.  Over a year after she has died and I still hear things like "you're fat and ugly" and "you have a worthless life" in my head.

I've grown up thinking of myself this way.  I can't take a compliment.  I push people away.  If I don't let someone in, they can't leave me behind.  My dad left me with this woman that he chose and no one else seemed to notice or care what she was like.  And as an adult, I can see that she faced a hard situation.  Suddenly widowed and left with two little kids to raise herself and I'm pretty sure, from things she said (often when drunk), that she was never particulary happy.  And I wish I knew why.  I wish I could've been the daughter she wanted and needed, the one who could get her to take care of herself, the one who made her proud because she was "normal" by her standards, one who she didn't constantly find flaws with no matter what.

The thing is, I know I need to forgive her, but as my therapist would say, I need to go through all this stuff I've repressed (because I couldn't let people think she wasn't a good mommy, and she was a good mommy some ways) and internalized before I can reach that point.  It's so hard to do.  And I feel incredibly guilty that I can't just forgive those things and move on like a grown up, but I'm not there.  I still love her, but I hate her just as much.

It's like I'm stuck on this ferris wheel between the bottom and top.  I don't want to go back down, but I can't quite see the top and the beauty out there in the view.

That's the main reason for this post.  Because over the last few months I've been feeling lost.  I've lost seventy-five pounds since last May and I can't let myself celebrate it.  Because of that voice in my head that says "You're fat and ugly."  Because when my life spiraled out of control at a young age and my mother was putting me on diets all the time, I realized I could control food.  She couldn't make me eat right.  And I would use my allowance or babysitting money to buy junk.

And now, after so many years of that, it's so hard to change that mindset of control.  It's not on my mother anymore, it's on me.  I control whether I let the fear of the unknown and possible failure continue to deter me, or whether I pick myself back up and remind myself that I can do it.  I lost seventy-five pounds.  I'm definitely capable.  And the demon voice in my head, whispering that I'm too much of a dreamer, is wrong.  It's time to squish the demon voice into the ground.  To forgive myself and my mother and everyone else I perceived to have wronged me.  I need to learn that letting someone in doesn't necessarily mean they will abandon you or reject you for being yourself.

To those out there like me:  other people's issues are just that...other people's issues.  It's easier to say than to truly believe, but just keep saying it.  Know you're not alone because every morning I'm starting a new day with endless possiblities.

And maybe one day I'll finally be able to say honestly that I've accepted the good and bad of my mother, forgiven her for the bad, and have moved on.

Book Review: Dream Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon


Summary:  In the ethereal world of dreams, there are champions who fight to protect the dreamer and there are demons who prey on them...

Arik is such a predator. Condemned by the gods to live eternity without emotions, Arik can only feel when he’s in the dreams of others. For thousands of years, he’s drifted through the human unconscious, searching for sensation. Now he’s finally found a dreamer whose vivid mind can fill his emptiness.

Dr. Megeara Kafieri watched her father ruin himself and his reputation as he searched to prove Atlantis was real. Her deathbed promise to him to salvage his reputation has now brought her to Greece where she intends to prove once and for all that the fabled island is right where her father said it was. But frustration and bad luck dog her every step. Especially the day they find a stranger floating in the sea. His is a face she’s seen many times.... in her dreams. 


My Review:   One of my friends recently chided me for having never read Sherrilyn Kenyon in all my reading, so I attempted to start with the Dark Hunter series through my library, but after months on hold, it was removed from their catalog (the horrors), so I finally added the Dream Hunter series to my requests and I'm glad I did.

I loved the Greek mythology mixed into the current day world. I loved that no one in these books - gods or not - was perfect in any way, but not inherently evil either. The main characters were compelling. Geary was smart, wary, and while she kept her guard up emotionally, she loved those in her life fiercely. And of course, Arik has his own interesting story of wanting to experience emotion and moving from his own selfish needs to an act of selflessness and trust.

This is one of those books that proves how a typical writing trope can be used well in the hands of a good writer. I'm intrigued to continue on with this series (when the library will let me have the book - sometimes it's hard being at the hands of the library gods).

My only recommendation is not to follow my lead if you start this series. I would suggest starting with the Dark Hunter series. While it wasn't a major part of the storyline, at times I felt like certain scenes would've packed more umph if I knew the dark hunter background.

Very good read from start to finish.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A very cool contest in a double trouble sort of way.

Two amazing sites are giving away a Zuvo Water Filtration System! That is a $299.99 value!

First stop by One2Try's giveaway.  And earn and extra entry if you head over to Midday Escapes to enter her giveaway of the same thing.

With so much gunk going into our water, a giveway like this is one I can't recommend enough.  Of course, I'm hoping I win it.  Hee.

Swagbucks

I just discovered Swagbucks.  Any pointers from those out there who use it?  It seems a bit like MyPoints from what I've seen thus far.

Anyway, if you're interested, I'd love if you use me as a referral.


Search & Win

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gratitude

I'm trying to put my gratitude and positivity out into the universe.  Even on my very bad days, which I've been having a few of lately, I have moments of clarity where I realize how fortunate I am in many ways.  Every person faces hardships and in the scheme of things, I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and a job with health benefits.   A lot of the time, I take that for granted.  A lot of the time, I don't let the universe know that I'm grateful.

Universe, thank you.

Also, I must thank Coupon Mom for the giveaway win of $125.00 dollars!  It came at just the right time, after my car had to go into the shop.  I'm very grateful.  And everyone should check the site out, especially if you're pinching pennies.  The site is full of coupons and samples.  As someone who has recently begun coupon-clipping, it's a great asset.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

wishcasting wednesday for 5/26/10

Today is Wishcasting Wednesday.  I'm having such a rough day, so I'm full of wishes and hopes at the moment.  This Wednesday, we were asked to ponder What do you wish for your space?

I wish for my space, both mentally and physically, to be cleared enough for me to accomplish the things lingering in my subconscious.  there are so many things I think of that simply get lost in the shuffle and I want to find those and organize myself so that it's not such a hard thing.  Mostly I wish for my space to be entirely mine, a zone where nothing outside can enter to deter me from what I want most - to create.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

two cool contests from two cool websites

 Again, I try to limit the blog posts I make about giveaways, usually utilizing twitter and such for that, but some of them are especially cool to me and I like to share.


Survey Junkie

Survey Junkie is running a giveaway where you can win a bag from Twisted Orchid, home of very cool bags. If you're a lover of purses and bags like me, be sure to check out the giveaway.



Review Retreat

Next we have Review Retreat with a giveaway of $ 100.00 gift certificate to ATGstores to be used for whatever your heart contents.  Awesomeness.


Check them out!  And good luck (not too much luck though - it's been too long since I got a new purse into my greedy little hands)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

fight for it...

picture courtesy of the notebook doodles

I think this pretty much sums life up.  Sometimes I need to be reminded of that.

2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge

Sign up here.

I'm doing the Mini YA Challenge, which is to read 12 YA books by end of 2010.  I do read a ton of young adult books, already have this year, but I figured, since the year is about halfway over, I would start fresh from this point on.  So the other YA books I've read this year I won't count.  I'll start fresh with 12 new ones to get done before the end of the year.  I can do it.  I hope.

(List of books as they are read will be added here with corresponding links to my reviews)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'm Marianne Dashwood...



Take the Quiz here!
 
This is quite fitting as my mother named me after Marianne Dashwood (my sister was named after a different Jane Austen character from a different book).  Then we would have these moments where I was accused of being too dramatic and I would point out who she named me after.   Though I must admit, I'd much rather be Elizabeth Bennett sometimes, especially since she ends up with Mr. Darcy.

Cool giveaway for readers & writers!

Valerie K of the I Should Be Writing blog is running a very cool contest - a massive birthday extravaganza for both writers and readers.  Some great things are up for grabs and highly recommend rushing over there and entering.  The giveaway ends on June 10th, so make sure to get over there and sign up. 

Wishcasting Wednesday

It's Wishcasting Wednesday and today the question is what do you wish to have?

The quick and easy answer is more money.  Not a lot, just enough to be able to pay off my bills and go back to school, to find a path that is right for me because part of my unhappiness at the moment is connected to having no passion for what I do.  I think money would remove the stress of always worrying about living paycheck to paycheck.  Give me some room to breathe and maybe, just maybe, I can feel open to new experiences.

But there is a trap in that.  Money isn't really what is holding me back from my wishes.  Money doesn't bring fulfillment and while all of the above is true, that money would help, it's not necessary.  I don't need money to sit and write the book that's brewing inside me.  I don't need money (for the most part) to continue on my weight loss journey.  I don't need money to explore other jobs and passions in the world. I just need me - my mind, my spirit, my body - and sometimes that's a scary thing.

So, again, I ask myself, "What do I wish to have?"  I wish for confidence in myself.  The faith to know that I can make anything I want happen if I choose.  The ability to remember that I'm always capable of creating, no matter what else is going on around me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Book Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta


Summary:  Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future. 


My Review:   This book is now added to my favorites. I borrowed it from the library, but I'm guessing that I'll buy a copy at some point to re-read as it was so wonderful. It was one of those books that pulls you right in and manages to capture your imagination and heart within a page or two.

I loved the characters in this story and how everything fell into place between the supposed story-within-the-story and what was going on with Taylor's life. And I really loved the journey with Taylor, a character that in some ways wears her heart on her sleeve and in other ways is just so terrified and closed off.

I enjoyed her relationship with Jonah and the territory wars. I enjoyed learning of not only their origins but how the way they began and that what it was meant to do seems to be what Taylor and the other characters seemed to accomplish.

Highly addictive read. I didn't want to go back to work or sleep, I just wanted to keep reading.

Definitely recommend and plan to add to my permanent library.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Unconscious Mutterings - Week # 381


Week # 381


  1. Labor ::
  2. Labor Day means no more whites to wear
  3. Sweater ::
  4.   Fall
  5. Five minutes ::
  6. Jill's favorite answer for how long something will take
  7. Treatment ::
  8.   therapy
  9. Eyebrows ::
  10.   need waxing
  11. Awake ::
  12.    barely this morning
  13. Salmon ::
  14.   Lovely Bones beginning
  15. Red ::
  16. black
  17. Hospital ::
  18.   scary
  19. Midwife ::
  20.   important

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Latest Read: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


Title: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Summary: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

My Review:  This was one of those books that I didn't want to put down once I got a few pages into the story. I warn that it deals with suicide, so if that's a trigger for you, it might be a good book to avoid, but I think it deals with it in such a unique and yet truthful way. It was an interesting way to tell the story of one girl's life and have it understood by someone outside of her world. It's heartbreaking at moments, both for Hannah and Clay.  It's a lot like real life in many ways - that you want to know why and how it happened - and mostly, as you get to know Clay as a character more, you want to know why he would be on such a list as to receive the tapes.  You're both grateful and sad that it happens to him. 

Again, I really loved the style of storytelling with this book.  It was a great way to learn about so many different characters at the same time.

Highly recommend.  Couldn't put it down.

Overall:  5 stars

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book Review: Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster

Awhile ago I discovered Jen Lancaster's blog, Jennsylvania, and immediately loved her style of writing.  I looked through her list of books written and decided to give it a try.  Luckily, my library (everybody support your libraries!), carries her books and I was able to put a few of them on hold.



Title: Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist's Quest to Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie is Not the Answer by Jen Lancaster

Summary:  Personal Training, Session One: I'm standing at the front desk, waiting for the mythical "Barbie" to appear. While I was sucking down water and aspirin earlier today, trying to shed my hangover, I started thinking about how judgmental I can be. I mean, why should I have instantly freaked out when I heard someone named Barbie was going to be my trainer? Sure, the name brings up images of gorgeous girls with long blonde hair, shiny white teeth, deep tans, and impossible-to-achieve, completely enviable figures, but maybe this Barbie is different.

My Review:  As someone who has been on a quest over the past year to come to terms with her own weight issues, I decided to start with this book. It's not a weight loss guide, by any means, nor does she claim it to be anything more than her own journey, but if you're someone who has tried to lose weight (be it ten pounds or fifty pounds), you can relate to her own feelings and experiences.  It reads like a conversation with a friend, who understands what the whole process is like. It's written in a funny, sardonic voice that I adored and I couldn't help but relate to her woes of working out, the ability to talk yourself into "one little cheat" and realizing that most of the diets out there want you to be afraid of food for no good reason.

Some might not relate to the weight loss portion, but it's intermixed with pop culture, funny conversations, and trying to live life and attempt to be healthier.   I enjoyed it. 


Overall: 4 stars

my body remembered Mother's Day before I did

Both my sister and I have been sick this past week.  She had a flu/cold/upper respiratory infection, while I ended up with some sort of stomach/nausea issue, where I kept throwing up.  I'd start to feel better, go to work/do stuff, and it would hit again.

Friday, after talking to my doctor because I just couldn't get myself to work without feeling like crap (my sister was back on her feet by then), I realized that I think it was mostly mental/anxiety/stress leading to it.  It also hit me that Sunday (today) was Mother's Day.  This is only the second Mother's Day without my mother, and last year, since she had only been dead for a few months, Mother's Day felt no different than most days.  Maybe that's why I think this year, despite being overwhelmed with the "Don't forget to celebrate mother's day" media bombs, I had repressed a lot of my feelings about it.

Add to it that my sister was sick in the same way that my mother was the last time I talked to her and it was a recipe for disaster.  You see, my mother had the flu, she swore she was getting better.  The last thing I said to her was, "Do you need anything?  No?  Okay, goodnight."  And the next morning, I woke up and she was dead.  Gone.  No explanation, no time to accept it, and no preparation like I had with my dad (which is a story in and of itself, being eleven years old and constantly going to the hospital because it was time to "say goodbye to daddy" again and again - the man was testing us and himself, I think), and no more chances to deal with all of the unresolved issues with my mother.

my dad & mom

I miss my mother.  We had so many issues, I could fill a magazine rack, but outside of that, she was my mommy.  She ended up having to raise me and my sister herself because my dad died when I was eleven and my sister was eight.  For tons of reasons I'm still trying to work through, it became a very tight unit of the three of us.  It was us against the world.  Everyone else seemed to fall away, caught up in their own lives, and even once I was an adult, it became really hard to be an adult apart from my mother.

I wish I could say that I don't notice her absence every day.  Whoever said it only takes a year to grieve is a big liar or much less codependent than I have ever been.  I still wake up some mornings from dreams where my mother is alive and it takes a quick second for it to dawn on me that she's really gone.  I still see some weird reminder of her and want to sob or yell about how unfair this is.  Why did this happen to me?  Why didn't I check on her that night?  Why did this happen?  

Mostly, I feel so confused and torn, much like our relationship.  Because I know my mother loved me, that she would give her life for me, but our relationship was tumultuous at best.  We fought all the time, her motto with me was, "if I can't be honest with you, who can" and constantly made me feel like a loser, and then would wonder why I had such issues with self esteem.  She was unhappy and had her own issues and for some reason, I was the one she focused that unhappiness on...and because she and I were a lot alike (combative by nature), our fights could get epic and really mean.

She wasn't perfect, but no one is.  I was harder on her because my dad died before I could truly recognize his imperfections and that made my mother's so much more obvious to me.  I would create the perfect dad in my head, who was never cruel or didn't get me or told me to stop dreaming so much and be practical.  I know that wasn't fair to her, but it's something I'm only starting to realize.
 
I think, on this Mother's Day, that's what makes me the saddest.  She never wanted to talk about her life, her friends, her relationship with my dad...and once I was an adult, I was so on the defense with her, that I had no patience and couldn't allow myself to be real with her.  I wish I had been able to have this sort of insight before she passed away, to make sure she knew that I loved her no matter what and knew she tried to do her best for me and my sister. 

All I can hope is somewhere she knows that I love her and forgive her for all that she did (or that I perceived she did) wrong, and hope she can forgive me.  I hope she knows that I want to be the daughter who will make her and my father proud, create a good legacy based on all the great things they taught me - to be intelligent and kind and to care about what happens in the world.  And I hope she can see that I'm trying to take her loss to make good changes in my life, to try to make something out of losing her that helps me become a better person.

Really, I just want to say:  I love you, mommy, and I'm sorry and I miss you very much.  I would take another night of fighting about your crazy Republicanism that made no sense over almost anything else.

Note:  I read a much more eloquent piece on Slate, Remembering My Mother on the Holiday She Hated, by


Friday, May 7, 2010

Week 379: Unconscious Mutterings




Week 379

  1. Creepy ::  
  2. stalkers
  3. Links :: 
  4.   more to read
  5. Sane ::  
  6.   something I strive for
  7. Bun ::  
  8. beef & bun, the perfect restaurant in my head, where condiments are not allowed
  9. Visual ::  
  10. my over-active imagination
  11. Remote ::  
  12. Remote Control was such an awesome show back in the day
  13. Freaking ::  
  14.   my way of cussing
  15. Curly ::  
  16.   curly hair, my own evil curly hair
  17. Saga :: 
  18.   The Saga of a Girl with a Republican Mom (my future memoir title)
  19. Different ::  
  20.   how I've felt most of my life

Thursday, May 6, 2010

random thought of the day

Sometimes life is so busy happening that keeping up and enjoying it are hard to do.  I'm in one of those types of places right now.  I hate that spinning out of control feeling and worry that the most brilliant things are happening and I don't even see them...too busy with the mundane parts of life.