Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Money

**I know nothing I'm saying here is revolutionary but I needed to say it nonetheless.**

We're told throughout our lives that money is the true measure of a life. Not in so many words but it is implied. Where you live, where you work, what you drive, what you wear, with whom you associate are all indicators of a successful human being. Or not so much if you do it "wrong." What you believe, how you treat others, the values you hold dear matter not at all if you don't have money. If the prosperity Christians are to be believed, even Jesus believes in amassing wealth.

I hate money. I hate what people become when they amass too much. I hate what it does to people who can't get enough to get by in our consumer culture. Mostly I HATE it because there is no longer any way to survive in this modern world without it. And those with the most money take great pleasure in reminding the rest of us just how little we have. Oh, you can live off the grid and spend as little as possible. But you can never get away from it completely.

Money buys power and power controls the money. Money poisons our air and water. It fills our food with chemicals; unnatural configurations of which we're only beginning to discover the dangers. All the while it deregulates any safety protocols that could protect us from the dangers. Money poisons our minds, pitting the poor and middle class against each other while the rich sit back, control the narrative, and get more rich. It teaches us that to be poor is to be less than human, not deserving of the most basic human rights. Don't have enough money? Get a better job. Can't get a better job? Get another job. It doesn't matter that the one job should pay enough for shelter, food, clothing, and transportation to said job. If you ask for (or demand) fair wages, you're ungrateful and a liability. If you ask for help, you're a taker and a drain on the economy. If you're willing to help others, you're an enabler. Money tells you who to hate and who to love.

Most problems of modern man can trace back to money or the lack thereof. I saw this clearly in every history class I ever took. America was built on the rich getting richer by using (or eliminating) anyone who stood in their way. Ask the Irish Americans. Ask the African Americans. Ask the Native Americans. Ask the Asian Americans. Ask women. Ask anyone who isn't a rich white male. We're simply tools they use to amass more wealth.

I don't want to measure my self-worth by the size of my paycheck. I don't want to be judged by the fact that I drive a Toyota instead of a BMW. I want to feel good about myself because I care about others and not what they can give me. I want the people I care about to know they are worthy of respect regardless of job title, bank account, or credit rating. I want everyone to have the same opportunities for self-improvement regardless of where and to whom they were born. I want children to never go hungry. I want all families to be able to spend time together. I want good health to be a right and not a privilege of the wealthy. I want what we'll never have: true equality.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Art Journaling

I'm finally making a go of art journaling. The last 9 months (or more) have been a bit stressful and maybe a tiny bit depressing with a few wonderful times mixed in. But the sheer lack of regular creative work has left my brain fried. So this year I actually managed to stick with journaling thanks to some very interesting prompts from Journaling Junkie on tumblr and A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves and Janet Fitch. I don't have time to write every day but this is the first time I've kept going back to my journal instead of writing for three or four days and quitting when I missed a few. I'm learning that writing when I can (or when I remember) is better than trying to do it every day and getting frustrated with myself when life gets in the way.

With some confidence in committing my thoughts and feelings to paper, I'm also trying an art journal. I got two small Art Journal Kits with mixed media paper and several sheets of pretty textured paper for Yule. What you see here is my design for the simple teal cover. I've already made 6 pages (2 still works in progress) and I'll share them as I'm certain I don't want to add more layers or write more words. With another creative outlet, I really feel like can start improving on my drawing skills as well. I think the one that has kept me going is my roommate. She's super supportive and has all the best art supplies. Check back soon for my first few pages. I'm sharing them on my tumblr page also. If you have art journals you've shared, post a link in the comments. I'd love to see them!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Witches and Witchcraft Reading Challenge 2016

Okay, so I'm going to attempt this challenge again. I'm pretty sure I read enough to reach my challenge level. I just didn't review them or link to the challenge site. New year, new chance to do it right. Right? I will attempt the maiden level of 6-10 books and hopefully review and share. I also challenge my readers to join the fun. Don't forget to let me know (send a link) so I can cheer you on. The challenge:


2016 Witches &a Witchcraft Reading Challenge


Welcome to the 5th Annual Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge!
Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the 2012, 2013, 2014  & 2015 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenges!
I hope you all had as much fun as I did! Welcome to the 2016 Challenge!!

Rules

  • Low commitment…you can sign up to read just ONE book as an INITIATE!!!
  • Participants who choose to link up reviews will be entered for the end of year prize!!
Challenge Rules:
  • This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2016 – Dec 31, 2016. I will be posting a place to link up a sign-up post (below), reviews and a wrap-up post. (Note: You do not have to review the books to participate, but only those who link up reviews will be entered for the prize)
  • Grab the reading challenge button (code & button below) and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate- you could track your progress and post reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.
  • Any full length book that includes a witch as a main character or includes major witchcraft elements counts. They may be fiction or non-fiction. However, they should not be reference books which are not read cover to cover-I will leave this to your discretion.
  • Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
  • When you sign up in the linky put the direct link to your post about joining the 2016 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge, not just a link to your blog.
  • You can move up levels, but no moving down.
  • Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2016, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  • Have some Witchy Good Fun !!!

The Levels:

Initiate: Read 1 – 5 Witchy Books
Maiden: Read 6 – 10 Witchy Books
Mother: Read 11 – 15 Witchy Books
Crone: Read 16 – 20 Witchy Books

Friday, November 6, 2015

NaNo time again!

Once again I'm participating in the writing torture known as NaNoWriMo. But this time I've done something I never tried before. I plotted. I liked the idea of being a pantser, but alas I'm plodding, planning, pantser. Now, with outline in hand, I've started to make real progress on the cozy mystery I've threatened to write for three years. I have almost three chapters. Well, first draft chapters because first rule of NaNo is no editing. You just keep writing until you're done. Editing happens after you have a completed first draft, which a point I haven't yet reached. So I'll try to keep a running total of my work, for better or worse.

Here's where I am right now:



2842 / 50000 words. 6% done!

Yep, already a bit behind but if I can manage 1887 words a day instead of the usual 1667, I can cross the finish line on time with 50k words. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Review: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was exactly what I needed to inspire me before starting NaNoWriMo this year. Pressfield has great way of cutting through the nonsense and getting straight to the point. He explains the how and why of creative Resistance and the best ways to overcome that nasty inner critic we all have. The book ends on the right note to make anyone ready to jump right in with both feet and create and innovate no matter the struggles it took to get to that point. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to do more with their lives but have let negative habits take control instead.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future

Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future by Ly de Angeles
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

UGH! No wonder it took me so long to finish this (over two years).

Maybe it was my preconceived notions about the book but I was underwhelmed. I was expecting...umm, what's the word here? Oh, right! Practical information on being Pagan and working towards sustainability. What it turned out to be was basic attitudes a Pagan should have toward the world we live in, also without any practical suggestions. I already knew that a deep connection with nature, the need to live as green as possible, and trying to get along with and embrace different cultures were important. The problem I, and other Pagans I know, run into is how to accomplish the high-minded ideals (or something close to them) expressed in many of the essays while living in a capitalistic society on a tiny budget.

Basically, I would've been better off simply reading Starhawk's works and skipping this book altogether. Her name on the cover was my primary reason for buying the book in the first place. I'm going to try David Suzuki's "The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature" and hope for more helpful information.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review - Armada by Ernest Cline


**There may be mild spoilers ahead but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.**

Having never read Ernest Cline’s first novel, Ready Player One, I seem to have approached his second book without the preconceived notions I’ve read in most other reviews whining that it was just a rehash. I got to enjoy the sci-fi/fantasy book, movie, TV show, and video game nostalgia of my childhood unfettered of expectations.

Armada, the story of a high school kid turned galactic hero, lets you know early on that it’s a mash-up of Ender’s Game, The Last Starfighter, and a few others. And yet it worked. Zack Lightman, the main protagonist of the story, was for me a refreshing change from the special snowflakes that seem to inhabit a lot of stories these days, all of the chosen ones destined for greatness from birth. Zack is one of many talented people capable of saving the day because they were trained to do so. He’s smart but not smarter than all the grown-ups around him. He has anger management issues. He disobeys orders. He’s an average teenager thrown into an extreme situation and responds as I’d expected the teens of today to react; with skepticism, sarcasm, and hidden awe. I especially enjoyed his relationship with his totally cool mom.

The biggest issue most have with Armada is the name-dropping, or as one reviewer called it, the “cheap pops” of all the 70s and 80s cultural references. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it until I got to the end, to see what direction Cline would go with the conclusion. In the end, they were more than just “an attempt at cleverness” as suggested by A.V. Club’s review. Or trying to be cool or flashing sci-fi “street cred.” I thoroughly enjoyed how the pop culture was part of the plot, how all of our years of consuming the culture were simply preparing the human race to not freak out when aliens do actually show up, like in the many scenes of panic in Independence Day (also referenced in Armada). Cline taps into the language of sci-fi pop culture. Not the obvious quotes that anyone could google, but the minutiae that only true fans obsess over with lines like:

When Zack is contemplating why an alien ship would be in his small town, he thinks, “If there was a bright center to the universe, I was on the planet it was farthest from. Please pass the blue milk, Aunt Beru.”

“And now, like my father before me, I was paying the price for my lack of vision.” In reference to Zack thinking about how he wasted his time playing video games to the point he though he was hallucinating them.

Those aren’t just quotes from Star Wars. They are an immersion into the story and reflecting it into real life as “nerd” culture does. We have our own language and he uses it well to tell this story, like when Zack’s best friends “the Mikes” are debating the merits of Bilbo’s sword Sting versus Thor’s Mjolnir. They are personally invested in the outcome. I also liked how Zack doesn’t blindly trust in how things ended. He has his father’s gift of skepticism in the face of a supposed Utopia.

While the characters all acted as you'd expect of gamers and sci-fi nerds, they were believable, likable, and very diverse in age, race, and gender. I’d definitely recommend this to any sci-fi fan and all of my sci-fi customers at Half Price Books. And I think I’ll need to read it more than once to pick up on things I might’ve missed the first go-round.

Oh, and I almost forgot one more thing. I’ve read several reviews about how it isn’t really a young adult novel because they wouldn’t necessarily get the references. That’s because it wasn’t written to be a YA novel. Just because the protagonist is eighteen does NOT mean it’s YA fiction. “Perks of Being a Wallflower” has a teenage protagonist but that isn’t YA either. It’s literature. You know, like the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird. 

**I did receive a copy of the book from Crown Publishers (Penguin/Random House) through the Blogging for Books program for an honest review.**

This review will also be posted on my Goodreads account.