46 Things in 46 Years 

Written by my wonderful mother ~

 1. Have dessert for dinner.

2. Stay up late, wake up early.

3. Go camping.

4. Pray

5. Exercise. No matter what. You will always feel better after it.

6. Take naps.

7. Make coffee dates with your grandmother, consistently.

8. If you want something, ask. Always.

9. That stain on your shirt? That pimple? Your flat/frizzy hair? Those 3 pounds you gained? No one, and I mean no one, is noticing it. Only you.

10. Take mental health days.

11. Every home needs an animal.

12. Every home needs a baby.

13. Thinking about going back to school?? Do it. Time is going to pass anyway-go to college.

14. When a person is quiet and doesn’t smile, that doesn’t mean they are mean or rude. Be the one to talk and smile. You will see the change in them, even for only a brief moment.

15. Strike up conversations with strangers. Especially the elderly. While in line, at restaurants, etc. their stories are fascinating.

16. Those things you said you’d never do or weren’t interested in? Do them. Step out of your box.

17. Embrace the differences in people. These differences make: the work day go faster, raising kids an exciting, adventurous challenge, various opportunities to learn in social settings, hanging with friends humorous and makes families what they should be; unique and loved unconditionally.

18. When a child sees you, light up like they are the best gift you could have ever been given. Each and every time.

19. Sit on the floor/grass with your children. It means a lot to them and their vantage point is amazing.

20. Love someone? Tell them AND show them.

21. During times of sadness, feeling overwhelmed, etc. take one day at a time. Sometimes it’s one hour at a time.

22. When someone tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t. -Louis CK

23. Be messy, and complicated and afraid, and show up anyway. -Glennon Doyle Melton

24. It’s never too late to make a big change. Big changes are the scariest, yet the most rewarding in the end. You will then wonder why you didn’t do it earlier.

25. Do NOT do what is expected.

26. Rules are meant to be broken (learned this from my child) History gets made when you act a fool.

27. You can respect a role without respecting the person.

28. Listen to the person talking to you. Truly listen, do not just wait to respond. Make eye contact and don’t look away at other things.

29. Accept apologies. But, only accept sincere, straight-from-the-heart apologies from someone who rarely needs to apologize.

30. Apologize. Look them in the eye, tell them why you are sorry and learn from it. Make it a point to not have to apologize to that person again.

31. Good people make bad decisions. They just do. Even the kindest, most compassionate people make poor decisions.

32. It’s okay to disagree with someone. Do it respectfully.

33. SOMETIMES, ask for forgiveness instead of permission (another tip learned from my child).

34. If there is a toxic person in your life, even if a family member, you CAN choose to NOT have them in your life. Your choice. Simple.

35. Ask others: “Are you okay?” and “How can I help?”

36. Laugh. Laugh a lot and daily. Need help with it? Watch Ellen, Kevin Hart or anything Robin Williams.

37. Empathy is important, extremely important. Gotta have it. Make sure your kids have it.

38. Dance! Dance in the kitchen. Dance with your small kids. Dance with your grown kids. Dance in the car.

39. Compliment others.

40. When someone does something that you appreciate, tell them. Do this often.

41. Sometimes, you just have to say (and convince yourself) “It is what it is”.

42. Have family game nights.

43. Spend oodles of time with your parents.

44. Write down the funny/not so funny things your kids say and do.

45. Never stop dating your spouse.

46. Marry that person that agrees with all 45 of the above tips.

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22 Things in 22 Years

  1. A bad night won’t last forever.
  2. Have patience.. with everything. It can really go a long way.
  3. Take whatever career path you desire, even if it’s not guaranteed to make you a lot of money. Your happiness means more than money every damn time.
  4. The only key to your happiness is within yourself. Your happiness is not someone else’s responsibility.
  5. To continue off that, just because you have a boyfriend does not mean your life will be perfect. You just have someone to comfort you when life isn’t perfect.
  6. And to continue off that, your life will never be perfect. Roll with the punches.
  7. Shit happens to everyone, got that? You’re not the only one going through shit.
  8. Smile in your selfies, even if it shows your eye wrinkles.
  9. Everything has the potential of being temporary: that boy, a friend, this feeling.
  10. Enjoy what is good while you can, and exercise your patience while it’s bad.
  11. High school is not the best years of your life. 
  12. Exercising is good, but so is that pizza.
  13. When in doubt: Treat. Yo. Self.
  14. Life is too short to put up with shitty people.
  15. It’s important to learn to appreciate your alone time.
  16. People may disappoint you, but that is not always a true indicator of their character.
  17. Treat everyone like they are your best friend.
  18. Never go to bed mad at someone, especially your child, parent, or significant other. You know what they say about not knowing what tomorrow will bring…
  19. People are different. This shouldn’t scare you. Differences are beautiful.
  20. Popcorn completes a movie.
  21. Love always wins.
  22. There is no other person in the world like you. There is no one else you were meant to be. You are you, and you are beautiful. ❤22

Writing is Hard™

This is more of a ramblin’ post, so I am sorry if it is messy or confusing, but here are my feelings, friends:

I’ve loved writing since I was a kid. I would write little “silly” short stories, and even some autobiographies, which made my mom claim that I was her favorite author. I was convinced that some day I was gonna be professional writer. (Little did I realize how difficult it would be to write a whole novel.)

Writing has been hard lately, especially this past year. I have had a whole jumble of words in my mind, but I have just been unable to get the words out on the page (or computer screen, let’s be real.) I had hoped that maybe it was just college getting in the way, which was a feasible excuse. Once summer hit, I had high hopes that I would be doing a lot more writing.

Well, I was wrong. Writing is hard and I am struggling with it and, basically, I don’t know how to go on.

I don’t know where to go exactly as per a writing theme for my blog. Should it simply be for my creative writings? Should I make it a book blog? Is it okay to keep it a mix of things? Am I even meant to have a blog?

I guess I just haven’t developed my own sense of blogging and writing style yet, which hurts my soul because I want it more than anything.

I partly believe I have been struggling with my writing because I feel my writing is not good enough. (Fun fact: I never feel good enough about anything. I am merely mediocre just wingin’ life.) Writing is clearly just a hobby of mine, whereas other people take it so much more seriously because it is their actual career. Yikes.  I read all kinds of blog posts, magazines, journal articles, etc. and become in awe of how well some people write; I’m constantly impressed with the way people put words together and obtain the ability to tell such fantastic stories. If they can write that good, then where does my writing even fit in the grand scheme of things? Where do my words have a place in this world?

When I tell people this, they give me advice, such as “Just write!” “Write for thirty minutes each day!” And, I’m sorry, but that is BS. If I were to try to follow that “write for thirty minutes” rule, it would just stress me out more about writing, so I don’t think it is something that would make me fall in love with writing again.I have about 20 drafts saved on here, with great ideas and topics that I am actually really proud of, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to actually write them. Writing just is not as invigorating as it was before; it now seems more exhausting. It seems that, lately, only on a rare day does writing enthuse me like it used to. (Oh, how I miss that feeling.)

I don’t have a large audience that reads my writing on my blog. It sucks, I wish I had more readers, I wish my blog was able to reach more people, because maybe that would encourage my writing more. This sounds kind of pathetic to be putting out there, but it is the truth. I am not feeling encouraged to write because no one else is relying on me to write. (I’m a people pleaser, what can I say?) My boyfriend has told me, on multiple occasions, to write for me, not for my readers. This advice  was probably the most helpful writing advice I have received. I want to start writing to impress myself, because who cares who is viewing my work and if they like it?

I have a lot farther to go in my writing journey as well as a pretty big hole to dig out of. I have a lot of confidence that needs built, with many other things besides writing.

Writing is what gives me happiness but also makes me feel super lonely and withdrawn.

I just wanna be a bomb ass writer, but at the same time I don’t feel motivated to write at all. A conundrum at it’s finest.

Writing is hard.

Starfish Review

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Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Starfish

Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publication Date: September 26, 2017

Bio: Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

My Thoughts: If you were to ask me what piqued my interest about Starfish, my answer would be both the social anxiety representation and the Japanese representation. I have never read a book that had a Japanese character, so better late than never to get a jump start on this type of specific diverse read! If you know me well, you know I love reading books with a mental health theme, so it is no surprise that the social anxiety rep in this book caught my eye. Kudos to the author, Akemi Dawn Bowman, because she created and wrote both themes very well! (Well, the social anxiety at least- I can’t personally speak for the Japanese rep, but to the best of my knowledge she wrote it well.) It is always reassuring when you just know that the author has the understanding and knowledge of what she is writing about; it was evident throughout the book that the author knows first handedly or has done her research about what it is like to be biracial or suffer from social anxiety. Thank you, Akemi!
I felt a lot of STRONG emotions toward three of the main characters: Kiko, her mom, and Jamie.
Kiko’s mom… aka, the worst mom I have ever encountered in a YA book. There is not one single good quality about her: she is a narcissistic, narrow minded, and unfeeling character. Some of the things she did to Kiko and her brothers rose my blood pressure while getting my blood boiling. When you feel such strong emotions toward a character, you know the author is doing his/her job successfully. Few characters have angered me like she did, which I believe was the purpose of the character,
Kiko is just a beautiful little soul who I just wanna hug and reassure her how worthy and lovable she is. Her dedication towards her art left me inspired for the creative work I do (writing, blogging, drawing, etc.) Meaning, I wanna be as talented and cool as Kiko. I relate on a personal level to the social anxiety she experiences, so this left me feeling empathetic toward her struggles with her mental illness. The fact that she finds her happy ending in the epilogue of the book will leave me satisfied for the rest of my life… that may sound dramatic, but oh my god it is so true.
Jamie…oh, my heart. It has been a while since I had a book character crush, because lately the male characters in my book just have been annoying and incorrigible. However, if I had to pick a boy for my friend Kiko to love, it would be Jamie. He is gentle, dorky, goofy, handsome, and compassionate. He was always helpful and understanding of her anxiety. I appreciated how the author depicted Jamie as a perfect guy for Kiko to date, but gave Kiko the awareness that she can not solely rely on Jamie to make her happy.  I want a real-life Jamie, please.

The plot itself was fairly fast-paced and kept me eagerly flipping each page, which is not a commonality in my reading. I grew connected with the characters and storyline enough that I never wanted to put the book down. The author had several plot twists that kept me reading past my bedtime. (Again- not a commonality in my reading!) The last few chapters in the book left me on the edge of my seat because so much stuff happened!
This will be one of those books I will recommend to each and every reader out there, especially if they are interested in books centering around mental illness because this book depicts mental illness with a more positive outcome. Kiko works towards overcoming social anxiety and fully understands that the capability to “conquer” her fears is within herself. Even though Jamie is absolutely wonderful and helps Kiko, Kiko is aware that it is still within herself to successfully overcome the hurdles she faces. I personally believe this is something each and every person should understand.
The author does a beautiful job with the story telling and character building in this novel and I look forward to reading more of her work! If you are looking for a riveting, fast-paced, and diverse read, this is the book for you.

 

Jessi’s Story

A Little Bit About Jessi:

Jessi Elliott is a newly graduated law clerk and debut author of both young adult and new adult romantic fiction. Her love of writing was born after many years of reading and reviewing books on her blog. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her family and two adorable cats. When she’s not plotting her next writing project, she likes to spend her time hanging with friends and family, getting lost in a steamy romance novel, watching Friends, and drinking coffee. You can find Jessi at http://www.jessielliott.com, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up to date on book news and upcoming releases.

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Jessi on writing and self-publishing:

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. In fact, it wasn’t until about five years ago I decided that was what my dream career would be. For the longest time, I wanted to be an actress.

I’ve been writing for almost twice as long (almost ten years), but when I started out, being published wasn’t a thought I had. I wrote only for me. Hindsight, that’s probably a good thing, because the first story I wrote was essentially a really terrible The Vampire Diaries fan fiction. Do I still have it? Yes. Will it ever see the light of day? Hell to the no.

Flash back to the last couple of years of high school when you’re being prepped to pick a college or university. You’re basically asked what you want to do with the rest of your life and expected to make a post-secondary choice based on that. Of course, I initially wanted to major in creative writing. I have a supportive family, but that wasn’t something they were going to get behind. I had to take something that would ensure a stable future. That was fine. I ended up taking a two year Law Clerk college diploma and wrote on the side.

Fast forward two years to where I am now, recently graduated and releasing my first book in February 2018, I’m happy with my life so far. I decided in January 2017 that I was going to self-publish my debut novel Twisted Fate. I did this for many reasons, but the main one being I wanted control over EVERYTHING. That’s probably the biggest advantage of self-publishing. On the flip side, the biggest disadvantage would be that I won’t see my book in stores worldwide, I’ll have to depend on mostly online sales. That’s okay with me. I researched A LOT before I decided to go this route, and I’m happy with my choice.

I’m not ruling out traditional publishing in the future, but for my next few releases, I have a plan for them.

My love of writing definitely stemmed from my love of reading, which I used greatly as a coping method for anxiety. I’ve been living with and learning how to deal with anxiety for six years now, and the escape of a fictional world and relatable characters has done wonders. I know how bad my day is going, I can pick up a book and be transported to a different world for a while, and that’s pretty amazing.

I can’t wait to see where my creative brain takes me next, and until then, keep reading and writing the things that you love.


I decided to start a guest blog series in an effort to expose the diverse and beautiful people out there in the world. “Our Stories” is a guest blog series where I give writers a chance to share a unique story, experience, etc. that has made them into the person they are today. These unique stories can range from topics like sexuality or race to being a hospice nurse or growing up with a single mom- anything that has the power to shape a person’s life.

What experiences have you had that makes you who you are? If you are interested in participating in this guest blogger series, send me an email at brandibrendle@gmail.com so we can discuss. I am looking for multiple stories that  show how wonderfully contrast this world is.