My Favorite Child

DSC_2657Every day I look at my son and think to myself, he will do great things. I don’t know if every mother feels this way, or if it’s just my ego, but I am pretty sure my son is the best.

Does every mother feel her child is the next Einstein? I don’t know, sometimes I see my son playing with his toys moving beads on a wire from point A to point B and he does it in such a precise and calculated way that I have to wonder if every 7 month old puts that much thought into moving beads. Will he be a brain surgeon? A master engineer? Who can say with those bead moving skills?

Does every mother wonder if her child is going to be the next Mozart? When my son “sings” along to Caspar Babypants and sings lalalala over and over again in such a wide range of pitch I have to wonder if my son is the next musical prodigy. Will he play the piano? Mandolin?

Does every mother wonder if her baby is going to be the next Jesus? I mean who does he get those angel eyes from? Definitely not me but wait, his Dad’s eyes are pretty amazing. And when he gently pats my chest while he is nursing and holds his hand over my heart I know he is better than I ever hope to be and his love and compassion are incomparable.

All I know is that he has already mastered the role of son, to me there is no one better.

♥R♥

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Black Ice: A Review

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Britt Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there…and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

I have to confess, I love young adult (YA) fiction. I don’t know if that means that I have not grown out of my 16 year old expectations of entertainment or if YA as a genre is just the best… I will let you decide.

I just finished reading Becca Fitzpatrick’s Black Ice and it was everything you could want for a Friday night, Dove chocolate kind of book-fest. There was suspense, romance, danger and for the night I was able to lose myself in a story that was fast-paced and marathon read-worthy. My husband laughed when he saw me half way through the book 4 hours after I bought it. I recommend picking up this book for a vacation, weekend, or a distraction read.

Warning: I stayed up until 1am reading this book, make sure you have adequate sleep-in time the next morning.

Happy reading,

♥R♥

black ice

 

 

 

Revisiting My First Two Loves: Short Non-Fiction & The Football Player

My extremely talented writer friend Danielle Campoamor posted on Facebook that she was looking for some short stories about the moment you found out that someone was cheating. She is compiling these stories into what I am anticipating to be a great read. I emailed her the following story and I told her whether is it used in the piece or not, it was a wonderful writing prompt.

Thanks Girl.

My First Lesson in Cheating

Even after all these years when I look back on this memory I want to wrap my arms around my 15 year old self and say “You are better than their ugly words.” Because gossip and cheating go hand-in-hand in high school.

My first love was a senior, a football player, popular, and everything the stereotypical first love should be. Unfortunately this plain Jane book worm couldn’t keep up with him and he lost interest after a few months when a beautiful cheerleader caught his eye.

The first time I heard about the new romance between my football player and the cheerleader was in the cafeteria. I walked past a table of boys to get to the soda machine, I like to think they didn’t know I was there so their malicious talk was a little less cruel. One boy said very loudly and clearly, “I would ditch Rachel for (said cheerleader) she is so much hotter! Rachel is alright, but pretty average and kinda boring. I would make the same move as (said football player) did.”

I swear to God my heart stopped beating. I left my money in the vending machine without my soda so I could sneak quietly away. Their words echoing in my ears. How dare they judge the value of everything we shared off of my looks! How could they cheer him on and justify his betrayal simply because She was more beautiful?

I crumpled in a quiet hallway and cried through my Science class.

Looking back now, I see the naivete in myself and the foolish importance of superficial beauty that the young find so meaningful.

Update: Danielle used my story in her article. Yay! Read the full article here.

 

 

New Directions

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I haven’t written anything in a long time. I would love to blame it on life changes, getting pregnant, having said baby, quitting my job, but that would be a lie. I haven’t found enjoyment in trying to write my novel. So I’m putting it aside for now and just writing when inspiration strikes. No more forcing a project I thought I wanted. I just want to write about life, marriage, motherhood, the good, the bad, and the painfully funny.

Lets Seperate FEELING From Thinking

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Ladies, what is with this trend of saying “I feel” rather than “I think”? I have been seeing it in articles all over social media and hearing it daily (like this one) . I admit I have picked up the feel-y trend as well. Every time I do it I cringe and remind myself that “I think” is a much stronger statement than “I feel”. If you know something is fact just state the damn obvious. Drop the “I thinks” and the “I feels” all together and say it with confidence. Honestly switching I “think” with I “feel” just weakens your opinion and voice. Unless you truly are talking about feelings.

For example, if you have to use a fuzzy disclaimer because you are telling half-truths when repeating a story, say “I think”. You don’t FEEL a person said (blank), you THINK they said (blank). You don’t FEEL the person was wearing a red shirt, you THINK they were. The level of intensity you want to remember this switch depends on how seriously you want to be perceived. How much confidence do you have in what you are saying? When I hear someone say “I feel” (first I cringe) and instantly start to wonder if they are feeling or thinking. Then I lose track of the substance behind their statement. When I hear “I think” I perk up and prepare for a debate, but I am paying attention to their statement. When someone states exactly what they mean I instinctively believe them because they sound strong in their statement, I may not believe them for long if they can’t support their opinion but they have an advantage in the beginning.

You have to contemplate how to maneuver your statements in a professional setting. If you are being interviewed, would you really say “I feel” rather than “I think”? The interviewer is going to hand the job over to the person with stronger convictions and knows their own mind. If women fall into the habit of using the weakest verb when stating their mind, their opinion is forgotten before they are even heard.

I have noticed this trend with women mostly and it saddens me because we are already looked over in many aspects of the professional world. Lets stop the trend and start thinking, better yet, KNOWING our own minds.

The Lazy Writer: Reading is My Crutch

Since I made my declaration of “I’m going to Write a Novel!” on FB, people ask me all of the time, “How is your novel progressing?”. To which I reply, “No comment…hahaha” or “Writers block is a bitch you know?” as I shuffle my feet and avoid eye contact.

I have a pretty extensive outline (which I am quite happy with) and tons of notes and ideas, but when it comes to the writing, well I don’t have  much. The few pages I do have I am not happy with and honestly it has thrown some water on my fiery passion of writing. I think damp is a good way to describe how I feel about my novel. I got caught up in the storm of a great idea and I was running full tilt and splashing in the puddles, but now the thrill has worn off and I am just wet and cold. To distract myself I read a lot.

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I have always been a voracious reader and a half ass/part-time “writer”. I read everything I can get my hands on. Lately, I have been on a huge Tudor/English court kick. Phillipa Gregory and Sandra Gulland are two authors who I highly recommend if you like the genre. I took a break from Henry the eighth and all of his dramatic descendants to read the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. You have to love the sexy, sassy Sookie and all of her supernatural eye candy. But I have to wonder, is all of this fun reading just a delightful distraction?

Front Cover  Front Cover Front Cover

Are voracious readers all just lazy writers? Are we the crash and burn wannabe authors who just couldn’t hack it in the literary race? My story is the one novel I can’t buy off of the bookshelf until I write it.

Time to put on my rain boots and word sludge.

What to Expect to Read When You are Expecting

Well surprise everyone I am 17 weeks pregnant. I have been in a bit of a writing lull and my reading time now includes baby books. Well… not books but book.

I am reading “What to Expect When You are Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel.

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What to Expect has been a great source of information on how your body will change. They are very PC in their descriptions about breast changes and how some women start to show earlier than others. BUT, they don’t mention the fact that you go through a stage where you look like a beer pong champ. I am talking bloat and thick through the middle. You will get all of the side effects of a long weekend of drinking: the gas, ohhhh the gas, heart burn, and the bathroom will be your new hang out spot. Pregnancy is one of those things that is beautiful from a distance. Talk to a woman’s partner or someone arguably closer (cubicle mate) and they will tell you the dirty truth about being near a pregnant woman. Thanks for loving me anyway guys!

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It feels as good as it looks ladies.

What to Expect has been a huge reassurance that these weird-ass side effects nobody talks about are not me losing my mind. I have had bloody noses, SI joint pain, dry skin, acne, and then beautiful skin, and then acne again. I don’t know why we aren’t just given a list of possible side effects when we find out we are pregnant. Hey Doc, can I get a list of the things I should call your office about and a list of things that are completely  normal? I think this would save everyone a lot of time… and your receptionist won’t want to murder me for interrupting her lunch yet again. Luckily What to Expect covers a lot of these side effects.

I’m still waiting for “The Dirty Truth: What to Expect When You are Expecting”. The nitty-gritty down and dirty truth about pregnancy. Until then ladies pick up a copy of “What to Expect When you are Expecting” it’s the only preggo book I can find that doesn’t put me to sleep after two pages. I got headaches from the last book I tried to read from all of the eye-rolling.

The Stupid Girl

Disclaimer to all readers: Please don’t read this article as me casting my emotional rod into the internet ocean for compliments. This narcissistic issue starts and ends with me.

“I am stupid.” I say this to myself often throughout the day. I whisper it to myself in the bathroom at work after I ask an obvious question to my co-workers. Every day when I leave the office, I think to myself, “I am the weakest link on my team.” Hell, I would vote myself off in most team situations. I inhale the word idiot and exhale in a rush of anxiety when someone asks me for directions within the town I reside. How do I explain that I can’t remember street names that I drive on daily? When people talk about North, South, East, and West they may as well be speaking a foreign language. My family has had to deal with more directional hysterics from me than anyone should have to in a lifetime. I thank God daily for their patience.

I think my stupidity complex started in elementary school when my class began learning multiplication. My teacher created a pyramid to chart the basic 0-12 multiplication table. Well let me tell you I was no Pharaoh of THAT pyramid. My peers started to progress, but I always stayed at the bottom. I think I got through the 2’s (2×2 =4, 2×3=6, etc.) and just stopped. For months I sat in shame at the bottom of that pyramid while I watched other children receive treats for their success. It was not the rewards that I coveted, my parents were generous people, I didn’t want for much growing up. I wanted to be equal with my peers, but I was always behind.

I hated sitting in class where the whispered words “You’re stupid.” echoed throughout my mind and bounced around the walls. School was my mirror, where I had to face the part of myself I desperately loathed. In high school I graduated with a 2.0 GPA, a courtesy from teachers who desperately wanted to see me succeed. Even living through the trauma of K-12, I decided to attend community college. The decision was due to my best friend applying. I thought, “I guess college is the thing to do”.

After my first quarter at community college which felt like a flash back to the nightmare of K-12 (Pre-reqs are the worst!) I began to look forward to class. I found a passion for learning aside from the anxiety of everyone finding out just how stupid I really was. I devoured the content of each class. I knew that my work was weak so I made up for it in participation. I volunteered my ass off. If the teacher asked a question, I was the first to answer. Extra credit, I was all over it. My GPA went from a 2.0 in high school to a 3.7 upon graduation from Western Washington University.

My time at WWU was a chaotic, wonderful, crazy time in my life. I was working two jobs and completely immersed in my English literature degree. I was finding my way and learning who the “adult Rachel” was. I had my setbacks as well though. For example, I remember being in a study group for a 400 level English class. I was with two very intelligent classmates (the Sheldon and Leonard of the English world) and I told them I felt bad because I wasn’t helping much with the assignment, they were just flat out faster than me. But in good humor they joked that I provided the tea and the study space at my apartment. I cried that night, all of my old anxieties and worries rushing back at me. The echo of “I’m stupid, I’m stupid, I’m stupid” was an earthquake inside my dark bedroom.  The next morning the emotional disaster that was my ego followed me onto the bus. I went to class with a residual “Stupid“.

Time reveals the magic of our past, hidden behind the black curtain of the present.

All of my life I had teachers and parents who believed in me. They were showing me their faith in a variety of ways. My 3rd grade teacher had me read one of my stories out loud to three other classes. My math teacher Mr. Sessions gave me extra assignments so I could graduate from high school. Upon graduation day he gave me a dream catcher that he made himself. My Dad paid for my first two years of college out-of-pocket, with only a 2.0 GPA from high school backing up my scholarly reputation. My Mom and step father let me live at home for four years after high school. They spent hours every week helping me with homework. None of those people would have gone to such effort if they did not see any potential in me. I will never forget how I almost fell to the floor when one of my classmates introduced me to his reading group as one of the most insightful, intelligent people in our class. That compliment was a cast for my broken confidence that was beaten down by yours truly.

I can look back now and appreciate my academic achievements; I can attribute graduating to not floating by on participation and extra credit. I looked like an idiot (often) and I survived. I hope sometime in the future I will look at this time in my life and realize that: I was good at my job. My novel was decent. I should listen to my husband when he patiently tells me that I am, in fact, an intelligent woman. Maybe one day I will realize that I am not the only driver in a constant state of lost. Tomorrow I will look in the mirror and tell myself, “You are not the stupid girl.”

Scents and Scentsibility

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Three books at once; I am quite the promiscuous reader.

I decided to splurge and get a facial for my birthday in August. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the spa was the amazing smell that permeated throughout every room.There is something about natural oils that can invigorate and soothe you at the same time.

On the other hand, have you ever walked into someone’s home and it’s like walking into a Bath and Body Works (guilty)? Where you smack into a wall of perfume and smoke. While it smells amazing it can give you a headache or make you feel nauseous depending on the scent. Don’t get me wrong, I love my citrus summer, and fall pumpkin spice candles as much as the next girl, but when I am trying to read and relax I want the spa experience.

I started researching the benefits of essential oils and found some really interesting information on Web MD: Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes. “The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods. says ion researcher Michael Terman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York… In fact, Columbia University studies of people with winter and chronic depression show that negative ion generators relieve depression as much as antidepressants.” – Web MD

Negative ions are abundant in nature. For example, a water fall produces 50,000 Ions/cc, the country 700-1,500 Ions/cc, and mountain/seashore 5,000 ions/cc. While an air condition room has fewer negative ions 0-25 ions/cc (doTERRA manual). The negative ions upon reaching our blood stream increases our serotonin and help immensely with our mood.

I searched Amazon and read many blogs for the best product to dispense natural oils and I found  a few different options:

  • Tea lite diffusers (burn the oil)
  • Plug in diffusers
  • Fan diffuser
  • Nebulizer
  • Ultrasonic mist diffuser

I decided on a ultrasonic mist diffuser: doTERRA the Aroma Lite Diffuser, because it adequately dispenses the oil and there is no smoke to inhale. I chose two oils from doTERRA: Purify (lemon, lime, pine, citronella, melaleuca, cilantro) and Citrus Bliss (Wild Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Grapefruit Peel, Mandarin Peel, Bergamot Peel, Tangerine Peel, Clementine Peel essential oils and Vanilla Bean Absolute.)

.DSC_0292I plug in my diffuser every evening when I get home from work. I use the 8 hour setting (there is also a four hour setting) so that it runs for a few hours before we settle in at night. The diffuser is very quiet (and trust me I am a light, finicky sleeper) so we let it run while we sleep. The soft purple glow is very soothing, but I turn the light off because I can’t sleep with any light. Both scents are lovely, but the Purify has a much stronger smell than the Citrus Bliss and I tend to gravitate towards it for that reason. Follow the essential oil use chart to choose which oils work best for you.

I love to have the diffuser on while I am reading and writing. I am prone to anxiety and sometimes this hinders my ability to write. The smell helps me to relax and quiets my mind from the chaos that typically ensues after work. I don’t think this diffuser will be my “end all” for my anxiety, but if it helps in the slightest (and I truly believe it has) then it is worth every penny.

Here are some more links about the health benefits of essential oils. I chose to write mostly about the positive effect it has on my mood because that is the main benefit I have received.

9 Essential Oils with Huge Health Benefits

Benefits of Essential Oils: 10 Natural Ways to Heal Yourself

The Struggle is Real

Don’t you  just hate when inspiration strikes at 7:41am when you are sitting at your work desk? Luckily I have an awesome coworker and friend who I can bug across the aisle, “Ashley, can you listen to my novel idea?” We look at each other with data-glazed eyes and talk about creative ideas and the light of humanity begins to shine again.

I am so grateful for my day job of project management and scheduling that affords me the money for my house, bills, and fun on the weekend. Although when that writers itch begins it’s hard to focus on the Excel sheet in front of me. In fact, I just want to run from the building, jump in my car, and drive home to my novel. Why do the waves of urgency hit at the most inopportune places/moments? I document my thoughts, but by the time I get home the rush has left, and I am stuck with uninspiring notes.

I’m asking writers out there, how do you schedule the time and more importantly the inspiration (as if it can be scheduled) into your 40 hour/week career schedule?

Happy writing/reading peeps!