Wellness Wednesday #37 – Admitting the Truth

buttonHonestly, I can’t tell these days what I’m portraying of myself online. There is so much in my world that is terrible/stressful/painful right now. Most of it involves other people, though, so not things for me to discuss here. I’m trying to stay positive, and it isn’t working so well. Maybe I seem okay online? I’ve had some people say I sound positive. But maybe I look the truth, too: erratic, scattered, falling apart.

I won’t – can’t – go into detail. The evasive, short version is this: We moved northward this summer for two sets of reasons. The first had to do with family needs (though admittedly, I didn’t want to rush, but wanted to wait until next summer). I see that as our positive reason for moving. The negative reason was the second, and had to do with the situation we were in (and the need to escape it). The house we bought in 2015 caused severe illness (mental and physical) as well as financial ruin. I don’t know if I would have sprung for Reason #1 if Reason #2 hadn’t been propelling me away from my then-current situation. In any case, Reason #1 drove me to embrace a move that truthfully isn’t sustainable for me in the long run. We won’t be moving back any time soon, but there is a big part of me that is already counting down the 5.5 years until the boys are in college and I can go back home. If it weren’t for my kids and the money and the reasons we chose to move in the first place, I’d’ve already abandoned this place and gone home.

Obviously, that’s not a good way to begin a new life, with a new house in a new part of the world. Going home right now is not an option for some time, and so my focus is now on planning and strategizing and working to be in the best place (health-wise, financially, etc) to return in 2222. For the first time in several years, I have an actual longterm plan to work toward. That’s good? I guess? Shrug. Maybe things will change. Maybe I’ll get to love my new house and meet new friends. Maybe I’ll stop being scared to drive in the snow/ice and I’ll acclimatize to six months of winter (boo! I want four seasons!). Or maybe I’ll just continue to be a hermit for the next few years, while I fight my way through this stage of my life and into the next. I don’t know. Like I said above: erratic, scattered, falling apart.

I will say that despite all this internal turmoil and debate, I don’t regret our decision to move, though I do regret the haste with which we moved. The place we were in was untenable for reasons I can’t fully explain – not without writing a novel about it, at least, and this post is already too long and maudlin.

The last few months have been extremely tough. I tried so very hard to be okay and happy, but eventually I had to just admit to myself that I’m sad, scared, lonely, and very far away from home. Hopefully by admitting it and getting it all off my chest, I can let it go and work my way forward again.

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Best New-To-Me Authors of 2016

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday asks for our favorite new-to-us authors of 2016. For me, 2016 was actually a year of rereads and deep reading (for already-loved authors). Only 33 authors were new to me this year (so far, anyway), and of those, only five are authors I either want to read more from, or already did read more from.

1. Eloisa James – James was the first romance author I’ve read that actually wrote books I enjoyed. Romance (of the Harlequin variety) is well away from my comfort zone, but I enjoyed reading James’ version of fairy tale retellings. I’m not sure I’d read more of her books regularly, but I really appreciated that I wanted to read any at all (much less four).

2. Gigi Pandian – This is another one of those out-of-my-comfort-zone things. Pandian wrote some of the cozy mysteries I enjoyed this fall, and I’m looking forward to further works, both in the series I’m currently reading and in others.

3. Firoozeh Dumas – I only read one book by Dumas, a collection of essays, but found her funny, engaging, and insightful. I’d gladly read some of her other nonfiction!

4. Kate Racculia – Racculia’s Bellweather Rhapsody was one of my favorite books of the year. Her writing was spectacular and I loved the way she wove in so many different elements in the story. I’d love to read more from her.

5. Melinda Salisbury – Salisbury’s debut novel, The Sin Eater’s Daughter, absolutely blew me away and I’ve loved reading further in that series this year. I can’t wait to read the rest of it, and to see what she comes up with next!

Perhaps next year, I’ll have a few more new-to-me favorites on my list!

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Posted in Book Talk | Tagged | 3 Comments

Sunday Coffee – November

img_6958November was a crazy and busy month, the first full month in our new house, with some dramatic changes in those short thirty days. Things:

  • unpacking and organizing the house, plus fixing some house problems and such
  • crazy weather changes, from 60s and 70s to snow and ice
  • Thanksgiving, of course, plus a few other family parties for anniversaries, birthdays, etc
  • car trouble – joy!
  • some really bad things happening to some of my extended family😦
  • decorating for Christmas
  • the first NaNoWriMo since 2009 in which I didn’t participate
  • the worst politics ever, not to mention the ramifications that came afterwards
  • binge-watching NCIS reruns because my brain wouldn’t really do anything except watch TV this month
  • (hence) very little reading…
  • as many bubble baths as I could manage
  • anxiety, depression, and homesickness, plus work with doctors to try to get medicated for said anxiety and depression

It was a hard month, but I’m trying to focus on some positives. First, there’s the surprise 70’s-themed fondue party we threw for my in-laws’ 40th anniversary. It was the day after Thanksgiving and we were all dress in our 70s best. The party was full of trivia, 70’s music, sandalwood incense, paisley, and half a dozen kinds of fondue. It really was totally awesome, and one of the only times all month that I felt calm and at peace.

70s-party

After that came one of my favorite things of the year: decorating the house for Christmas. Christmas is another thing that will be hard so far from home, but I’m doing all I can to incorporate as many family traditions as possible.

decorations

That’s about it for my November. I imagine the next few months are going to be particularly rough for me, but I’ll keep trying to find the little lights in the dark.

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Like a River Glorious, by Rae Carson

like a riverLeah Westfall is now in California with the remains of the ragtag group she traveled west with in Walk on Earth a Stranger. Her uncle is still after her, and she knows she has to let some of her closest companions in on her secret ability to sense gold.

I was very wary going into this book. Too many of the books I’ve read lately – even highly anticipated ones –  have sifted straight through my brain without making an impression. I absolutely did not want to do that to this book. I’ve been dying to read it, though, and finally broke down to try. Figured that if it wasn’t working out, I could always save it for later. And thankfully, though I think I engaged less than I would if my brain was working properly, I did actually enjoy the book! There were two things that really struck me and that I want to focus on in this review.

First, Carson does a phenomenal job of highlighting social injustices without becoming too heavy-handed. Background to the plot is the plight of Native Americans (both the stealing of their land, and the way they were rounded up and used as worse than slave labor), the treatment of Chinese immigrants, and the lack of rights for women. This was all especially poignant given the current climate in our country. Carson never actually connects the two situations, but the connection is so blatantly clear that it would be difficult for a reader to not make it. It’s all done in a way, though, that doesn’t feel like there are neon signs pointing to the injustice yelling, “Here! See? We’ve done this before and it’s BAD!” This was the way life was at the time, and Carson doesn’t gloss over those negative things, but there is also a plot on top of all that. It’s a balance I appreciate.

Second, and probably most important to me, is the discussion of family and “home.” I think this hit me so hard because I feel so very far away from family and home these days, and so books that center on groups of people who become family or tribe over time – those speak directly to my heart. So many of these characters were foreign to each other when they first started traveling together, and now they’re bound to each other by so many things. New characters join the group, and when Leah begins to realize that “home” is not a place but a collection of people, I admit that I cried. Some authors just really nail large group friendship dynamics, and Carson is definitely one of them.

I look forward to seeing where this series goes in the future.

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Wellness Wednesday #36 – Seven Years

buttonIt’s crazy to think it’s been seven years since I started on my weight loss journey. At one point in my life, I thought I was pretty much through with the weight loss portion and would be focusing on maintenance and learning to love my body from then on. Surprise! I’m not all the way back up to where I started, but it’s close enough to be depressing.

seven-years

2009: Begin
2010: -15 lbs
2011: -66 lbs
2012: -95 lbs
2013: -105 lbs
2014: -99 lbs
2015: -50 lbs
2016: -37 lbs

I’m honestly not sure what to say here. I’m disappointed, depressed, and resigned. Another part of me is angry, determined, and wanting to push. I have so little strength these days. The last 3.5 years of my life have been pure misery and constant battle, and a body and mind can only take so much before they give out completely. I don’t expect the battles to end any time soon, which means I have no idea where I’m going to get the strength to improve my health either.

Funny to think that half of the last seven years were working in my favor, and the other half knocking me down at every turn. As I said, I don’t expect the misery to stop soon, but there’s a part of me that hopes the tide of crumminess will at least lessen at some point in the near future. I don’t know how much more of this I can take. And I want something to celebrate by this time next year. Frankly, I want to be done talking about weight loss!

Maybe by the time I hit anniversary #10 (Nov 27, 2019), I’ll be back to full maintenance again. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but I’ll just keep telling myself that, and trying to battle on.

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A Diverse Gift-Giving Guide (TTT)

Today is another freebie on Top Ten Tuesday, this time related to a holiday gift-giving guide. I decided to highlight diverse reads, and rounded out to a full dozen. Here are some great books to get if your recipient loves:

Classics: The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
Contemporary YA: The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
Fantasy YA: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Literary Fiction: The Untelling by Tayari Jones
Historical Fiction: Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
Mystery: Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Fantasy: Nekropolis by Maureen McHugh
Magical Realism: Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Horror: Voodoo Season by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Nonfiction: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Middle Grade: Sold by Patricia McCormick
Short Stories: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Happy buying!

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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Sunday Coffee – Happy Thanksgiving!

img_6845It’s that time of year! Halloween has passed, Christmas is coming, and we spent this week gorging ourselves on turkey and stuffing and pie. Especially stuffing, in my case, because it’s honestly the best food in the world and I need to avoid it if I ever want to lose weight again, haha.

Thanksgiving is very different for me up north than it is in Texas because of a few things. First, there’s already snow on the ground here and my brain rebels against that. To my brain, winter and summer should both be balanced by spring and fall, and yet I seem to keep living in places that are either six months of summer or six months of winter. It’s been a super warm winter here compared to normal – apparently there’s normally a foot of snow on the ground by Thankgsiving, I’m told – but there’s still been snow and days when it doesn’t get above freezing even in mid-afternoon. To me, that’s December through February weather. It feels very strange to have Thanksgiving when it’s that cold out, the same way it felt strange the years in Texas when it was nearly 90 degrees for the holiday.

Second, I had this Thanksgiving with an entirely different set of relatives. That isn’t a bad thing of course, just different. We hosted the event at our house this year, with my in-laws and some extended family joining us. I tried to bring a few Texas traditions to the table, like my Aunt Lenny’s special cornbread-sausage-poblano stuffing. Mostly, though, the tradition leaned Midwest instead of Southwest. Very different for me.

thanksgiving

The holidays make me a bit homesick. I wish I had the time and money to go visit in December between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I don’t this year. The plan for next year is to spend Christmas break down in Texas with family. (Hopefully.) This year, we’ve already decorated for Christmas and I’m incorporating as many of my family’s traditions as possible for all the holidays to help me stay close to my loved ones back home.

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