Friday, June 28, 2013

Healthy Thoughts

Andes; Cusco, Peru


A HUGE part of getting healthy, is making sure your thoughts are positive. It sounds easy, right? I bet many people don't realize how negative they really are. How many people use the term "F my life" or "I just can't" or "I'm not doing enough" or "I'm terrible at this."

What about...

"I hate the way I look in this dress"
"I don't like my [insert body part here]"
"I shouldn't have eaten that brownie for lunch"

Even saying "I want to be a writer" when someone asks you what you want to do with your English Degree isn't thinking positively. If I said "I'm a writer," now that would be positive.

Healthy, positive thoughts are so important to us as writers. We swim in a world of rejection a lot. I even had a dream about sending a query off and being rejected in like two seconds. It's hard and it will be harder if we let it bring us down.

Now, I didn't just magically decide one day that I needed healthy thoughts, or that my thoughts were unhealthy. This has been a learning process and don't think for a second that all I have are perfect thoughts because...man, it's hard to change how you think. Once you begin though, you'll start becoming hyper-aware of where negativity comes from and it will make you feel icky. Then you'll realize where you picked those thoughts up from (maybe your mother or your father? Teachers or other influential characters in your life). You'll start to tell those negative thoughts "no!" and feel better for it.

Changing our thoughts allows us to attract positive things in life because we're finally not focusing on the bad. It's a good exercise for anyone.

Start by turning one negative thing you say about yourself into a positive one. What would you change? 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What are you going to do with that?

Personally, I hate all these articles that waste time telling me that my major is one of the “10 worst Majors for Finding Jobs” or what have you. Unlike a lot of people, I suppose, I didn’t go to college and choose a major thinking, “Hmm, what would give me the best, highest-pay job?” I went to college thinking, “I’m going to major in what I love.”

Unfortunately, not all kids get to do that. I don’t know how many friends I made who said, “Yeah, I hate Biology but my parents said I had to be a doctor.” I have a truly gifted friend who can draw amazing pieces and write to match! Her father wants her to be a Lawyer and only agreed to let her major in English because she could apply to Law school after (this was after trying the Pre-Med track for a little while because her Dad wanted her to be a doctor).

To me, this is tragic, but I can’t speak for parents out there because I’m not one. You’re telling your kids this stuff out of fear—fear that they can’t succeed with a certain degree, fear that they won’t make enough money to survive in this world, and you want that. You know, I can’t blame you for those fears, and maybe your kid ends up liking what they do, finding a passion for it…but sometimes, kids just end up with a lot of resentment and self-hatred. Don’t let that happen to your kids.

You can encourage both creative outlets and your wish to see them have a good day job.  

Okay, I am finished ranting, lol. 

What do you guys think? Parents, how do you balance letting your kids explore their creativity and nudging them to get degrees they can 'do something with'? 


Monday, June 24, 2013

Makeup Tutorials

Why yes.

I have an obsession with makeup. It began harmless enough, and now it's not so harmless. I don't know why, but I love it all--from the shadows (there's all kinds: shimmery, matte, creams, pencils), to the variety of lip glosses. I'll try everything. I'll also watch tons of makeup tutorials. Not that I try them on myself, but I just like them. I think it's really awesome to watch people put on makeup. To me, it's like artistry....because I mean, you can do A LOT with makeup.

I also happen to like funny makeup videos. Here's one of my favorite:



Did you like the video? It made me laugh so hard! 


Friday, June 21, 2013

A new beginning: Flavorful Fridays!


I’m not sure I’ve talked much about my health before. Let me tell you some things today. My family has a history of diabetes, high cholesterol (which can be genetic), high blood pressure, and, if you haven’t guessed, obesity.

You know those smoking commercials that say “It stops with me”? Well, I adopted that model when it comes to my health.

I don’t want any of the above I mentioned.

That said, my blood pressure has the tendency to be high because of my anxiety (which I am managing with therapy and a positive attitude!). I was also an obese child and I was made fun of a lot. At the moment, I’m not even the smallest I’ve ever been, but I like my size and my doctor says I am healthy.
You have to maintain health, though, which means you eat right and you work out! Last year (that would be in May of 2012), I decided to change my health for the better. I began to exercise regularly (at the moment, I spend an hour on cardio, and have been doing the 30 day shred, it will kill you, but it is fun!). I also changed eating habits. Yes, I mean…I have experimented with healthy recipes for the past year and I haven’t found one I hated!

So I am going to begin sharing these recipes here and whatever workouts I begin, or my progress to become a healthier me!

We’ll start with something I made last week: Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Kale Quesadillas. I know what you're thinking. Why in the world would I eat something with sweet potatoes, black beans, and kale?! And it probably has cheese (it does)?!! Gross!!

NOT SO. 

These are my new favorite quesadillas. I found the recipe here.

Now, I added my own modifications because...well, I didn't have a lot of cumin and I had no chili powered, and I don't think if I have them when I make them make them again I'll use it. My ingredient list was as follows: sweet potatoes (3 medium), kale, onion, black beans, pepper, and a bit of cheddar cheese. I added a little bit of the cumin I had, and I used whole wheat tortillas and topped them with organic sour cream.

They were delicious...something about the mixture is just...well, perfect!

My quesadilla

Now, mine obviously isn't as pretty as the one on the other blog, and you can see my finger in the upper left-hand corner, however, I'm sure it tasted just as good! I also have a quesadilla machine (coolest flea market find ever), so they come out all perfect and crispy!

Here's some reasons why you should eat sweet potatoes: 9 Reasons to Eat More Sweet Potatoes
Here's some reasons why you should eat kale: 5 Reasons to Eat Kale

So, would you try this quesadilla? 






Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Writers & Social Media



Why do YOU use social media? 





I'm asking because I went to the OWFI Writer's Conference and one of the speakers asked me and Aaron (from Aaron's Word Tree) what we wrote. We said YA and she automatically said "You need a tumblr!" 

I thought this was strange. I do have a tumblr. I don't use it often, and I certainly couldn't use it as my blog home (I've tried). 

Well, when they began speaking, I understood why she said that--the speakers said, "You need to be where your audience is." 

You're all aware that my book isn't published, and though I'd like to reach YAs, I feel that's why I have a Twitter and a Facebook. If those YAs out there want to find my blog, they will...through my Twitter or Facebook...and they probably aren't going to care that it's on Tumblr, Blogger, or WordPress. 

But really, I didn't start blogging to connect with YAs. I started blogging to connect with other Writers and hopefully find people who will fall in love with my book--YA or otherwise. Now, that doesn't mean I don't want to connect with YAs, but when I began this blog, I just wanted to get into the community, find some help, and be around others who knew exactly what I was going through because they'd been there, too. 

Now, when I'm published will this blog be different? I mean, it'll probably have an awesome, shiny picture of my cover on it. I'll probably get to post more about how my journey in the publishing world is going...but no...really, it'll be the same. I'm still going to want to connect with writers, and with people who love my book. 

I get what they're saying...but in the end, I need to do what's most comfortable to me and being on Tumblr isn't comfortable. Also, Social Media is already overwhelming enough. 

All of this made me curious as to why you, as writers, use Social Media. Why did you begin a blog? Do you find Social Media overwhelming? 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Music for Monday: Kodaline

You know those songs you like to press "replay" on no matter how many times you've already heard it? That's what I've been doing with this song. It's called All I Want. The video pulls at my heartstrings, and for whatever other reason, I really like it. Enjoy! 


Monday, June 10, 2013

On Being A Terrible Speller: English Major & Writer Woes

Okay, so, I *think* I am finally settled and I can begin focusing on my blog again. Being out of the country for a week and a half really does a number on your sense of surroundings and ability to really...do anything. LOL.

Today I wanted to talk about something that really...irks me: the fact that I am an English Major and a terrible speller.

Now, I'm not mad that I am a terrible speller per say. I'm more angry that it's assumed that because I am an English Major (and a writer), I am a great speller. Or great with grammar, or that I have automatically read and understood all classics.

I am not a good speller. It took me forever to remember how to spell necessary (nec-essary, like neck-essary is how I finally learned, by the way). Also, I'm really bad with grammar. Commas suck, and fragments and run-on sentences? We have a tough relationship. As for all those classics I'm supposed to have read--do people realize that there's more to English than just the classics? There's literature from all over the world (which is what I took, WORLD LIT).

Also, I am an ENGLISH WRITING major which means my track was more focused on academic writing rather than LIT (which involves culture studies at my college...which is odd and...well, that's a whole other conversation).

Anyways, the point I am trying to make is this: Just because I can't spell certain words, have some problems with run-on sentences, and haven't read every classic, doesn't mean I didn't earn my degree, or that I am stupid. It means that I don't know everything (and I don't claim to! That would be silly!). As an English Major, there's this pre-concived notion that we all think we're grammar police and we're all in love with The Great Gatsby.

Just FYI - I don't think I am the grammar police, although I do have my pet peeves (like everyone), and I happen to love The Great Gatsby.

There's also this silly notion that, in order to be a great writer, you have to be a good speller and excellent with grammar. Maybe you do have to have that to be a good writer, but you don't have to have those things to be a good storyteller.

If there is one thing I have learned, in the end, people just want a good story.

Take the book An Uphill Climb by David Sargent. Read it? It's a great book. Guess what? In the book, David talks about writing the book (confusing, huh?). His wife mentions that the spelling and grammar are terrible, but she KNEW it had potential and she knew it was a great story. That always resonated with me.

Don't get me wrong--we should all strive for as polished of a manuscript as possible....but it's not the end of the world if we have trouble with a few sentences or words.

Now, if only we could convince the rest of the world.


You're all writers and subject to the same scrutiny, how do you feel when others do this? What do you take comfort in?  


Saturday, June 1, 2013

My Great and Powerful Trip to Italy!

Wow! Can I just say that being in Italy for 9 days wears you out?! I am finally home, and I can just say there really is no place like home! That said, I am grateful to have gotten to go to Italy, so let me take you through my adventure.

First, we left on May 25th for New York. The plan was to stay the night in New York to look around and see things. While that is what happened, it happened in a way I didn't expect. First, we have standby tickets because my boyfriend's mother works for American Airlines, so we missed our first TWO flights out of Tulsa. The plan had been to take a plane from Tulsa to Chicago. It was changed to taking a plane from Chicago to Dallas and then to Newark. That happened. By the time we got to our hotel, all I wanted to do was sleep! But the hotel only had a one bedroom room even though we'd called ahead and asked if they still had our two bedroom on reservation! So...there was some sleeping on the floor.

The next day, it was so rainy, which was fine, except we didn't have an umbrella. Luckily, you can buy those on the street. lol. Here are some highlights from the outing!

Simon & Schuster!! I saw so many publishing companies!

Central Park! Beautiful!

Central Park

Artists Gate - Central Park



Time Square
So, after our outing in New York, we hurried to the airport and waited to head off to Italy. They had plenty of seats on the plane, so getting there was easy. I sat next to a really cool guy who traveled to Italy several times and told me where I should go and how to find really awesome food. The guy who sat on my other side was reading Dan Brown's Inferno which I thought was funny for some reason.

We landed in Milan, Italy around 9 or so. This is what the outside of the airport looks like:


We found a taxi to our hotel. This is the view outside of it:


We slept for an hour before taking a train to Milan Central and checked out Milan (I should mention that we got where we were going most of the time because my boyfriend knew more Italian than me, lol).

Here are highlights from Milan:

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle


Sforza Castle

Milan Cathedral - Il Duomo
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Dinner for that night:

Yummy Pizza!


We stayed in Milan for a day and then moved on to Venice by train. Here are the highlights from that train ride:


Train tracks! 


Wine Country!

Aladdin and me

Venice was a source of so much inspiration for me. Let me tell you that the water is not brown (or it wasn't when I was there), and it didn't smell...until they started to sell seafood the next morning. Here are some highlights from Venice:

What it looks like when you get out of the train station


View outside our window

View out of the front of our hotel








What we had for dinner: 

Red wine


Penne

We stayed in Venice for a day and then headed by train to Florence!


The view outside our hotel in Florence:


When we got to Florence, we left to head to Pisa, which is only about an hour away. Here are some highlights from Pisa:

Heading to the leaning tower of Pisa


This is what it looks like from a distance!
It wasn't as huge as I thought it would be.

Beautiful!


Duomo of Pisa



Dinner that night:


The next day we took a look at Florence. Florence and Pisa are located in what's called Tuscany, and you can tell just by the colors! Here are highlights!

You can't tell, but this was green and white marble. 

This also had green marble - Il Duomo


Disney is everywhere!!


Ponte Vecchio

From afar - Ponte Vecchio

Dante!
Sky from a shopping area

That evening, we took a train to Rome, our final stop where we spent three days!

Waiting on the train...


Our first stop: The Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

...I think this was the temple of Hercules...but I might be wrong.

Colosseum

Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

Entrance to the Colosseum
These were shopping areas.

A couple of doorways

Shopping areas

Wildflowers

Arch of Titus

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

Roman Forum
Standing in the Colosseum and the Roman Forum was the most awesome experience I have ever had. Just knowing what happened there years ago gives me chills. I thought of all the history I had learned--of Caesar, Marc Anthony, Hannibal, Hasdrubal and Scipio.

You all probably know that the Roman Forum is where Caesar was stabbed by his friends twenty three times. On the day of his funeral, Marc Anthony pointed out everyone who had participated in Caesar's death, demonstrating that, if these men truly loved Caesar, why had they murdered him so violently. This lead to riots and the Roman's built a great pyre and burned Caesar's body, casting personal belonging into the fire with him.

I thought of how I was walking where Romans once walked, where blood had been shed, where a great empire once ruled. It was absolutely breathtaking. I wish there hadn't been so many people around...I would have sat in silence and just watched everything.



Next we went to the Piazza Venezia:



Then the Pantheon:

Panorama of the Pantheon
 The latin on the top of the columns reads "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, made this building when consul for the third time," though, I read that the pantheon was rebuilt several times and probably rebuilt the last time by Hadrian.

Inside looking out.

The dome
The Pantheon is the most preserved Cathedral from Roman times. The Dome is the largest unreinforced concrete Dome in the world.


Then we saw the Trevi Fountain:

The Trevi Fountain

For dinner we ate at this place: 

This place was awesome!


On day two, we saw the Vatican:

The Vatican 

The Vatican




The Pieta




This is the Dome on top of the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica,
we climbed more than 300 steps to see the next views.  

From the top of the Basilica

From the top of the Basilica

From the top of the Basilica

Heading to the Sistine Chapel 




Hercules

And sorry, no images of the Sistine Chapel because you're not allowed...and I didn't take any secretly because I believe in respecting sacred places. However, you should know that it is amazing and the images look 3-D.

For dinner on this night, we ate at a place we didn't like, so there was no picture, but we did have gelato!!:


On our last day, we shopped and saw some pretty sites:

Rose Garden in Rome

Rose Garden in Rome

Rose Garden in Rome


Tiber River
Shopping in Rome


I think this is the temple of Hadrian

Piazza Navona


Our last meal in Italy: 

Pizza! don't remember what it was called, but it had zucchini on it!


Now, the next day would have been Monday the 27th, and the day we were supposed to depart from Rome, however...remember how I said we were on standby? The plane was full this day. It was also full on the 28th. After having to stay two days, I just wanted to click my heels and be home. Despite my disappointment that I couldn't go home, we had some good days...here are some images from our two extra days in Italy:

View outside our Hotel
The Ocean
Alright, I am done with my trip to Italy. I am now home in Oklahoma. Before I leave you, and though I know this was a terribly long post...I must tell you--the day I got to Italy, terrible storms ravaged Oklahoma. More closely, they destroyed parts of Moore, Oklahoma. I live a total of 17 minutes away from Moore and drove past the devastation on my way home. It was both devastating and frightening. Yesterday, I sat at a friends house while Tornados broke out all around us. If you live in Oklahoma or any place prone to Tornadoes, please, please have a safety plan.

This link will give you information on how to help Moore if you are interested.

Thanks everyone!

Ashley