Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Power of Prayer

Or How I Asked God for a Sign and He Sent Me the Pope...

First off, before I even get into this post, I'd like to say that even if you're not a Christian, I hope you'll read this. By most people's accounts, I'm not what you'd call a great Christian example, and am probably not "qualified" to write a whole lot on the subject of Christianity. I don't go to church every Sunday. My mother was raised in a beat-your-children Catholic household, and had zero interest in doing anything that her parents she told my sister and me that we could figure out what we wanted to do when we were adults. This resulted in a ME who is still, at 42 yo, trying to find a church that feels like home. But although CHURCH wasn't a big part-of my life as a kid, prayer always was. 

For as long as I can remember, I have always prayed. I have very early memories, ones that I know come before the age of 5, of praying with my older sister before bed at night. I believe that my mother told my sister that she was supposed to say them with me, and at some point said sister decided she was done reciting things with my pipsqueak self, because the prayer I said all the way through high school went something like this: 
God I love you very much, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, plus Mommy, Daddy, Sissy and Me, and Charlie, Shady, Springfield, Garfield, Bupo, Killroy, etc....
This prayer tells you a few of things. One is that I clearly got mixed up on the classic bedtime prayer, and made it something completely my own. Then we have the fact that we owned a lot of animals, and named them after very 80's things because I added every pet we ever owned in the lineup after my family. The above are two cats, one dog, and a few birds...but the list went on a lot farther, I just didn't want to bore all of you! And last we have the knowledge that I came up with this extremely early in my life because I have zero recollection of ever referring to my older sister as "Sissy"...and yet I called her that in my prayers until I was married.

As a child I wholeheartedly believed in prayer, and that stayed with me into adulthood. Even when I haven't attended a church regularly, I have always read the Bible and prayed. I taught my children how to pray, although they initially said the prayers that they learned in the British schools they attended as little ones. I have had some incredibly devout friends over the years, and inevitably we would have a conversation that went something like this: insert defensive Christina "Just because I didn't grow up going to church every Sunday doesn't mean I'm not a Christian and I don't believe in God. I read the Bible. I pray. And anytime I have ever prayed and prayed, and asked God to help me out with something, it's worked out." Normally this would end with said friend telling me to chill out.

I write all of this now to say that I'm a bit flummoxed by the hatred towards prayer at the moment. Now, I'm not talking about politicians not working on a problem and simply praying a problem away. And I'm not about to start talking politics on this blog because that is SO not my thing. I'm talking about venom being thrown at someone who says they will pray for a person who is going through an issue or a crisis.

For example, Director Kevin Smith recently had a massive heart attack and Chris Pratt wrote on Twitter how big of a fan he was, and how he would be praying for Kevin because he believes in the healing power of prayer. You would think that he'd just outed himself as chester the molester for all the abuse that was hurled at him. The comments went from vile to things like Doctors and Nurses heal, prayer doesn't, etc...or just plain outrage.

Of course Doctors and Nurses heal, but Chris Pratt is neither of those, and what can he do for Kevin Smith?? I mean, you can send a card or something else...but what could praying for someone possibly hurt? And why would it be a bad thing? What you're effectively doing...even if you remove God from the putting out good energy and sending love to another person. If you keep God in there, you're asking for help from a higher power. Would I want no Doctor and just some guy to pray over my broken and bloody body in an accident? But would I want everyone to pray for me while a trained Doctor was working on me in the event of said accident? Heck yeah! Because I believe that there is something to it.

I'm sure that part of my faith in prayer is because I feel like I've seen examples of God answering them before. Now, he may not answer them the way you think they should be answered...but in my experience, he is in fact listening. I thought I'd share with you the biggest and most personal example of this in my life.

A little over ten years ago, I was in a very bad place emotionally and about as low as a person could get. I'm not going to go into the details, but believe me when I say that it was rough and I don't even like thinking about it a whole lot. I was at a fork in the road, and was fretting over a decision that I'd made...and incredibly unsure over whether it was the right one. All of this coincided with a last hoorah trip to Rome with family before we moved back to the States from Europe.

After arriving in Rome, and dropping our things off at our hotel, we immediately headed towards the Vatican to show our visiting family a few places with the expectation of returning the next day for the full tour. My husband's brother and his wife are Catholic, and decided to walk in a small chapel outside St. Peter's Basilica to pray. I immediately felt the urge to go inside and do the same. So I walked into this dark and reverent space, and quietly moved to a spot in the back pew away from everyone else, and I prayed. Surrounded by people praying in many different languages, from all over the world, I prayed like I'd never prayed before. I told God that I didn't know what to do...that I needed help...that I was lost...and I needed a sign. I begged for a sign that I'd made the right decision, that everything was going to be okay, that I was going to be okay. Then I wiped the tears from my eyes, and left the building.

The next day my husband and I were given one of the most glorious gifts you can ever give parents...the gift of sleeping in. Our visiting family had taken the kids to the Vatican museum, and we were meeting them for lunch. We woke up and got ready at a leisurely pace, and then left to meander out way to our meeting spot. We remarked on how quiet Rome appeared...hardly any traffic or people walking around. It was bordering on eerie. And then as we got closer to the Vatican we could hear something...the sound of someone we started walking a bit faster. And that's when we stumbled on the Pope. That's right...the Pope was speaking in front of St. Peter's Basilica...and the place was FILLED with people!! And we had NO IDEA this was happening. Right as we walked up, and I pulled my video camera out, he started speaking in English...and he blessed everyone who was there, and their families. It was impossible, regardless of your faith, not to feel the love when standing there among all of those believers. It was palpable. We stood there basically filled with shock and awe.

Why yes, that is the Pope behind me...
And that's when I realized that I'd been given my sign...about the biggest sign that God could possibly give out...The Pope. He knew I needed something large for me to see it, and know that it was from him...and you can't get much bigger than that. Not to mention the feeling of standing there in the middle of that many people praying simultaneously. St. Peter's square holds 141,000 people. That's a lot of people praying...and anyone who has stood with that many people praying at the same time would tell you that it is a tangible thing you can physically matter your faith.

The funny aside to the story is that the very Catholic family that was visiting never got to see the Pope. They were in the uncrowded museums with our children, completely unaware of what was going on outside...and so angry afterwards that they wouldn't even watch my video footage! Ahhh...back in the day before we all had cell phones to text and say "Get out here, you're missing the Pope!!".

So...flawed Christian that I am...I believe in prayer. If you don't, that's okay...but it's not hurting anyone for ME to pray. And if I hear that something is going on in your life...a health issue, a problem with your child, someone in your family is sick, etc...and I care for you, chances are you WILL be in my prayers. Because sometimes there's nothing else I can do. And if there is a God (which I believe there is), then maybe praying will help...and if me and all the other believers are wrong, then did it really hurt to have us thinking about you, sending our love, and hoping that things will get better for you?? Because for nonbelievers it's just semantics right? Is there really a difference between thinking to yourself "wow, I feel bad that suchandsuch's husband was just diagnosed with cancer. I hope they're okay." and "God, please watch over suchandsuch. Her husband was just diagnosed with cancer. Please let her feel your love, and let your healing touch reach her husband."??

I'd also like to remind everyone, because I think people forget at times, that a lot of people believe and practice prayer...not just Christians. Eastern religions use meditation as a form of prayer. We all know Muslims pray. But even followers of the Pagan or Wiccan faiths use prayer. There may be different words for it, and a slightly different way of going about it, but it's still prayer folks.

 Dawn Welburn - Reawaken Through Touch FB Page
A healing prayer written by my big sis

As for me...Catholic or not...when you ask for a sign and are given the continue to pray. You pray your booty off. Because from where I'm sitting, God was right. I made the right decision, and everything DID work out. It doesn't always work out the way you think it's going to, but it usually does.

So maybe cut us pray-ers a little slack. I'd say the majority of us are just asking for a little extra help to go along with the love and whatever other action we're using in any given situation. I think this is on my mind more right now because I have a few family members and friends that I love dearly that are going through medical issues, and all I can do at the moment is pray. Pray that they will be healed. Pray that they will have strength as they go through their ordeal. Pray for their family members as they fret and caretake. Pray for the Doctors that treat them. Pray for Peace if things don't go the way that we want them to. Because sometimes that's all you can do. And I pray that God will ease my worried mind at that realization.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Match Made in Manhattan Book Review

 Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer on Tomes and Tequila

I have another Booksparks book review for y'all! Huge thanks to them for sending me another lovely white box filled with pink squiggly paper confetti goodness and a book to perk me up from the dreary winter doldrums I've been drowning in. (Perhaps I shouldn't drink wine before I write blog posts because that was quite a dramatic sentence??)

I found this latest book to be entertaining for a myriad of reasons. The biggest one being that the website is talked about a LOT in my house, as my husband is of the mind that a certain child of mine should be searching for his wife on there right now. Personally, I have not dated since the early 90's, and that was as a I can't even fathom what it would be like to try and find a prospective partner in 2018, as a full grown adult. It seems like it gets harder and harder to meet new people in person, and outside work, it can be a struggle to find people you talk to enough to make a connection with. In comes Internet Dating to bridge that gap!

And in comes Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer*, a book all about a woman's quest to find the right man on

Alison has had two fairly long and serious relationships, and travels in a circle of close friends who all went to school together. After she breaks up with her boyfriend, she finds herself lonely and looking for a relationship with someone who she hasn't known for years. So she decides to enter the world of, makes a profile and sets out to find love online. What comes next is a hilarious mix of odd dates with strange men, fun times with her friends, and angst over when is the right time to get intimate with a new man.

This quote was made purely to show my daughter's guy friends that all chicks dig guys in Henleys.
I really enjoyed this, and thought it was a fun book to read. Her pants speech, when she tells men that she's enjoying her date with them, but they aren't getting in her pants tonight, was a nice and clever twist...and I thought it was hilarious that all of her friends made jokes about it...and it was something she was known for. Alison's little eccentricities were what made this a fun book, and not a parody. The fact that she stayed friends with everyone she dated, bar one, was also something I found fresh. This wasn't a book full of man-bashing or anything, just a lady trying to find the right guy. It was full of heartwarming stories, and the cast of characters were intriguing and memorable.

As someone who has been married for eons, it was great to spend a little time in the life of a woman on her quest to find "the one". It was a quick read, and a perfect book to spend time with while the weather has been all gray and rainy. It would also be a good beach read...something fun and perky to peruse while drinking a beverage with an umbrella sticking out of it. Humorous and clever chick-lit made to entertain.

So big thanks again to Booksparks for sending Match Made in Manhattan to me! I have been suffering from the winter blues, and this was the right book at the right time.
 *my posts may contain affiliate links, which mean I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase using them. Thank you for supporting my channel and visit my review policy for more information.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Curating Your Best Life

Or my list of Bs...

As I've mentioned previously on the blog, I'm very much trying to live my life with intention, and not be as reactive as I've been before. I've always taken things as they've come, and been very spontaneous and fly by the seat of your pants...rarely with a plan or agenda. So for me, using a planner...setting goals...writing out action plans...all of that is new. I've tried various schemes in the past, but none of it stuck or made much of an impact. But it's hard to conquer the world, become a badass, or make any real changes, if all you're doing is putting out fires and reacting to the things that are coming at you. 

I've joked that this blog and my new YouTube channel is, at the moment, me throwing a bunch of disjointed things out into the world and hoping some of it sticks. But I sat down the other night with paper and pen, hoping to find some clarity, and decided that for me it really is about curating your best life. It's what I'm attempting to do. And all of the pieces I'm writing, the videos I'm filming, and the pictures I'm putting on Instagram, are all centered on things I'd decided I wanted to focus on in my attempt to do just that. But without laying the master plan out for anyone to see, it might not be apparent to anyone else. So, this is the beginning post of me laying out that plan for you to see. I hope it will make some sense, and that it sounds like a journey you might want to go on with me. 

Laying in bed one night I was thinking about my life, my priorities, and what was important to me. The things I wanted to focus on. Things I wanted to work on. Areas that were central to who I am and where I'm going. (This explains a lot about why I have trouble sleeping, yes??) And I wanted to name them, write them out, really put pen to paper and start making a plan for once, to ensure that I'm nurturing the areas that are vital to the new and improved me...and not wasting time on things that are irrelevant. But I also wanted to have an easy way to remember them. 

Hence the Bs. A grand cheesy-sounding master scheme planned out by yours truly.

All of the areas that I wanted to focus on. All of the things that were important to me, that I needed to work on a daily basis, could be categorized by words that start with the letter B! How incredibly clever of me!! Maybe I could remember them this way?? 

So I made a page in my bullet journal for each category, and when I moved into my Filofax I moved the lists over there. At the top of the page I wrote in big letters my B word, and then I listed all of the things I could think of to do that related to that word. I basically did a giant brain dump, and now when I'm planning out my days/weeks, I'm going to those lists and trying to grab items off of them to put into my baby routines to INTENTIONALLY put my energy into the areas that are important to me. 

Now the B words, or my specific words and the way I'm using any of this, may not work for you. But the idea behind it is pretty solid. Sometimes we have a disconnect between what we feel in our heart is a priority, and what we are physically doing on a day to day basis. We may say that friendships are a priority, but what are we doing regularly to tend to our most precious relationships?? Or we think that family is #1, but we are always putting work first. I know that I'm letting my self-help-book-reading-freak-flag-fly, but I truly believe that you can benefit from taking some time to at least think about...if not sit down with paper and pen and write out...what is important to you, and what you can do to nurture those areas. And then try your hardest to do some of those things. Because even a marginal effort is better than letting something be an afterthought. 

I figured I would share with you MY Bs, and it'll most definitely give you an inside glimpse into why my content looks like it does. These are a reflection of my priorities and things that are important to me, and also areas that I felt I needed to improve on. They are all a part of me trying to curate my best life (which I'd thought of using as the subheading for my blog actually...well Curating Your Best Life). 
  • BEAU
  • BODY
  • BASE
  • BLOG
Clearly you can see that I took a little artistic license in coming up with these categories, and I'll briefly explain my thoughts behind them...but I honestly could probably do a blog post each to really delve into the items I have written down and how I'm putting them into action on a day to day basis to make a difference in my life. And whether or not I feel that it's working. That is if even one of you reading finds this interesting!! 😉

Beliefs is where I've put everything centered around my spirit and faith. I'm trying to grow in this area, and make it a larger part of my life so my list includes things like reading the Bible every day, listening to sermons and Christian podcasts, keeping a prayer journal, a gratitude journal, exploring local churches, reading devotionals, spending time in quiet prayer and reflection, etc. This is one area where my list, and making a clear and conscious decision to intentionally work on adding these items into my life has really paid off. 

Beau is all about my relationship with my husband. This year we'll have our 25th anniversary, and I never want to take him for granted. I want to ensure that he knows he's loved and cared for. This incredibly cheesy list is full of date night ideas we will probably never use because we're too busy drinking beer and watching home improvement shows to leave the house. But I have reminders that his love language is not the same as mine, and I need to remember that unlike me he'd prefer I made the floor so clean you could eat off it, or I made sure there wasn't a single book outside of my bookshelf in the office instead of writing him a long love letter. 

My Brain list is probably the longest, as it's the one that reminds me that I love to learn new things and all of the myriad of ways in which I can do that. Of course books are on this list (and I believe you learn from fiction along with nonfiction). It also includes things like online language programs, podcasts, free online classes, museums, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, art galleries, museums, TED talks, lectures, listening to new music, webinars...the list goes on and on. I am also fascinated by researching that goes in here too. It's mainly a reminder that you don't have to be in school to learn new things. 

My Body list is all about exercise really. I've listed a bunch of different things I can do to try and get moving again, from dancing to walking the dog. This is also where Weight Watchers and healthy eating would go. And learning to love the body I'm currently in while I'm losing weight, which is tough for me. Plus things like routine doctors appointments, drinking enough water, vitamins, etc. If it has anything to do with treating my physical body better, it goes here. 

The Bonding list is where I keep ideas for nurturing my relationships with my two adult kids and my friends/family. Ideas like buying flowers for people and Christmas gifts for my daughter's roommates to being better about Skyping my sister and having one on one girl time with my daughter. I always want to make sure the people I love know that I love them, and I have some major improving I need to do on this one. I know I can be an absentminded friend and daughter at times so I'm brainstorming, and a major work in progress...

The Beauty list might seem at first glance to be a little vain, but trust me it's not. I haven't always been the best about self-care, so this list isn't so much "spend more money at Sephora" as it is things like remember to take your makeup off every night, keep lotion in your purse, maybe get your nails done with your daughter, etc. As someone who has struggled with self-esteem and self-confidence, I am really trying to love my girly self and delight in the simple pleasure of a regular beauty routine. But I need reminding, as it's not second nature for me. So there's a method and reason behind the skincare pics on Instagram, and makeup videos on YouTube. 

My Base list is probably the most boring because it's really a house cleaning list that I haven't quite sorted out yet. I can't figure out if I want to try and do some form of a FlyLady zone cleaning, or what...but I've never had a good routine for keeping my house clean. And I live with an over the top clean freak. This is another thing that is really more about the lack of routine, because we keep a pretty darn clean house...but it's a lot of sporadic entire days spent doing the uber-clean, and then days of not doing much of anything. I'd rather have it be spread out more evenly. But I haven't figured out how to do it yet...hence the list. 

And last is my Blog list...where I'm writing down all of the random ideas I have for posts and videos. I have a lot of junk floating around in my head, and I need to get it out and on paper. I'd like to get ahead on videos and posts so that I have less instances of not getting anything up due to being sick or the hubby being off work that day, etc. So this list is my brain dump for all things Tomes and Tequila, in an effort to become a bit less scatterbrained. 

Some new devotionals I purchased recently
I would say that most of my areas of focus are pretty universal. My beliefs might by different than yours...maybe yours involve more yoga and meditation...or you wouldn't call it beliefs necessarily, but it could be tweaked. Maybe you don't have a Beau (or Babe) at the moment, so that could look different than my 25 years married one does. Say you don't have a Blog...but it could be Business...or another word for Hobby, you get the idea. The point is to really hone in on what say a 10 out of 10 level marriage would look like, what are some actions you'd need to do to make that happen, do some brainstorming, and then try and incorporate them into your life. Or a 10 out of 10 spiritual life, etc. As I said in my post about picking a word for this year I am trying to find new ways to take ACTION in bringing about the positive changes I want to make in my life. 

I'm now thinking of a million other ways you could do this. Use, hobby, hottie or husband, home, etc. You could sit down and decide that you are on top of everything in your life except two Gs that you want to focus on this year...Guitars and Gardening...and write down all of the ways you could grow in those two things this year. Or don't be a cheesy-goofball like me, and actually use the words that REALLY apply regardless of what letter they start with. 😜

I hope that in sharing my crazy Bs I've given you a few tips to hone in on your priorities in life, or given you something to think about. My aim in writing posts like this is twofold. I hope that if there are others out there who struggle with some of the same issues I do, I can be of some help. But writing always helps me to focus on what's whirling around in my monkey-brain, and cements the idea a little firmer in my head. Plus it puts the intent out there in the world. My sister now knows I want to Skype her more!! LOL It gives me some accountability. 

So please, if you've read this long and rambling post and it's made an ounce of sense to you, leave a comment and let me know. I'd love to hear from you! 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How To Stop Time Book Review

 How To Stop Time by Matt Haig, review by Tomes and Tequila

Recently I was asked by a friend for a few book recommendations for her husband. I equal parts love and stress over blatantly recommending things, which is ironic and odd given that I write and review things all the time. It is all about that gnawing feeling in my gut that screams...what if they don't like it?!? Which I really have no control over, as everyone has different tastes, and I don't think you all expect to love the same things that I do ALL the time...but it's still something I stress over. ANYWAY, so when looking for a book for her husband, who enjoys historical fiction and things like 11.22.63, I stumbled upon How To Stop Time by Matt Haig*, and it intrigued me. So I recommended it to her, and then bought it for I could see if I was failing as a bibliophile by doing so.

And then, because I'm a fickle pickle and horrible book blogger, I promptly picked it up the day after it arrived, and read it post-haste instead of reading any of the 100 or so OTHER books sitting in my office waiting for me to give them a shot. For some reason I've found that if I tell myself I HAVE to read my books in a certain order, or try in any major way to prioritize by how things come into my possession, I will rebel and drag my feet to the point that it no longer becomes fun. I have to shop my shelves, and grab what looks good in the moment, or it feels like work to me. That's why I rarely do blog tours. 😏

But back to the book How to Stop Time!

Tom Hazard has a condition that causes him to age incredibly slowly. He was born in the 1500's, and after facing incredible hardship and the loss of loved ones, is scooped up by the Albatross Society and taught to live by certain rules in order to not be detected by normal humans aka "mayflies". He's depressed and lonely, and uncomfortable with the behavior of the Society Head...who reluctantly allows him to return to London and live as a history teacher. With the past bleeding into his present, will Tom figure out how to live again? And will the French teacher at his new school test the number one rule he lives not fall in love??

This was another fairly easy read for me, that I absolutely devoured in a day...just like She Regrets Nothing. And it's kind-of funny, I told my son while I was reading it that I saw this in my head as a movie. Rarely do I picture things being acted out when I'm reading them. I don't normally see characters or places as I'm going along. But with this book, I could SEE everything so clearly. I could perfectly visualize Tom walking down a street in London, and seeing the present day chip shops etc but also seeing what it was like in the past bleeding through and causing him to lose his breath. Being taken aback by realizing he's standing in front of the spot that was once his home, and is now a pet shop.

 How to Stop Time by Matt Haig, review by Tomes and Tequila

In the beginning of the book, Tom talks about how he's not like a vampire stuck perpetually in his youth. He is aging. He will die. He CAN die. He's not immortal. But the story is reminiscent, at least to me, of some of the better vampire fiction I've read in the past. Even more so, it reminded me of the television show New Amsterdam starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (of Game of Thrones fame), which only aired for 8 episodes but I LOVED. The whole idea of living for an extremely long amount of time, watching people come and go, places evolve, loves lost and the whole gamut of issues that would arise if you had lived for over 400 years...and knew you were going to live for about 900...are fascinating and this book merely touches on them, and with a flourish that is at times almost poetic.

I think my favorite sections of the book involved the people in the past that Tom interacted with, and then how he tried to weave some of his knowledge into the school lessons he was teaching. I'm a giant Shakespeare nerd, which you probably know if you've been reading the blog for a while, so the section in which he works for Shakespeare was wonderful. Was it historically accurate? I haven't the foggiest, and don't even care a whole was just entertaining to me! And having drinks with Fitzgerald?!? So lovely, and in my head Fitz was totally Hiddles. (If you haven't watched Midnight in Paris, you need to!!)

Yes, there is a bit of a love story...but it wasn't sappy or overwhelmingly emotional. I feel like the real love story here involved Tom and Life in general. The book really was all about Tom figuring out how he wanted to live all of these years that he's been given. Did he want to just go through the paces and saunter along in a fog? Or did he want to open himself up to new and exciting possibilities, and put himself out there again?

Like I said, a quick and enjoyable book. Science-Fiction with some historical aspects. I enjoyed the author's writing style, which has an almost poetic flourish. I am going to have to see what else he's written, so I can add them to my ever growing and willy-nilly stack of To-Reads!

Sorry I didn't get anything up on Friday or Monday. With it being a holiday weekend, I had my hands full with a husband off work and a daughter in town. Eventually I will get enough posts written in advance where that doesn't happen anymore! I'm thinking I'll be doing my review for Stories I'd Tell In Bars on YouTube, as it lends itself to pajamas and alcohol. And I also should have a February Favorites video up the first week of March. Please let me know if there's anything you'd like to see either on here or on my YouTube channel! I'm open to suggestions.

 *my posts may contain affiliate links, which mean I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase using them. Thank you for supporting my channel and visit my review policy for more information.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

She Regrets Nothing Review

Super excited to be back bringing you some Booksparks reads, and extremely grateful to them for sending me boxes full of pink paper confetti and heart-shaped sunglasses, along with fun reads like this one for their Winter Reading Challenge! I don't know about y'all, but for me, dreary winter days are the best time to read things that take you out of your current environment and into something completely out of the life you live. She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop certainly fit the bill for me!

She Regrets Nothing is a Gossip Girl combined with All About Eve combined with Metropolitan novel, with a dash of Vogue and Gatsby thrown in for good measure. This is guilty pleasure reading, and there's nothing wrong with that! And as a lady who was always enthralled with New York City, I ate up every delectable tidbit of it.

Laila lives a modest existence in Grosse Pointe, Michigan as a dental hygienist who is dating the dentist at the practice where she works. During the funeral of her mother, three mysterious and oh-so glamorous people arrive who look as out of place as one possibly could in her neck of the woods. Liberty, Nora and Leo are cousins Laila never knew she had, from the mysterious wealthy family who cut her father off before she was born and he moved to the midwest. Turns out they didn't know about her either until recently.

Laila hits it off with Liberty, the eldest of the cousins and a former model turned literary agent, and within two years she's ditched the dentist husband and moved to New York City. Completely at the mercy of her cousin's extreme wealth, all while feeling she deserves that wealth too, Laila struggles to create a new identity for herself in the city. She has the right last name, yet no one knows her. She's pretty, yet not as pretty as her eldest cousin, and when coupled with her other cousin Nora's trashy fashion sense comes off more tramp than socialite.

 She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop, review by Tomes and Tequila

Liberty does everything she can to try and help out her cousin, giving her a job and trying to help her make friends. She believes her to be sweet and kind, and feels overjoyed to have a new family member in her life. But is Laila as nice as she thinks? Are her intentions really that good? And do any of them REALLY know this woman they've let into their lives??

I gobbled this book up, but I have also been known to put Gossip Girl on when I can't think of anything else to put on tv for background noise. The book is told from the viewpoint of various people, so you have a good idea of the mindset these folks are in. It doesn't take long to realize that some are more vain and vapid than others. Or that one might have a more nefarious goal than anyone else realizes. But the book hits a spot about 3/4 of the way in where I just went...NO, why did she DO THAT?!?!

I think my favorite character in the book was Liberty's best-friend Reece...who for whatever reason I kept picturing as Gabrielle Reece, the beautiful statuesque volleyball player. Why? I have no idea. I read Reece, and then couldn't get that image out of my head for the rest of the book...and I have no idea what the description of her actually was now except tall. She may have been described as an olive complected woman with long flowing black hair or something, and I still saw Gabrielle Reece. Clearly I have issues.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading this one. A few of the characters felt a little like caricatures, and you have a good idea of where it's all going as you're reading...but none of that took away from the sheer pleasure of reading a book where a character might hop onto a plane to an island getaway with a rich old guy they just met. Or look down on someone for taking the subway to work. Or use a matchmaker to meet a suitable older fella with a loaded bank account. Fun stuff, I tell ya!

So huge thanks again to Booksparks and the author for sending me this book! It took me out of my February doldrums and into high society for a little bit, which I thoroughly needed.
 *my posts may contain affiliate links, which mean I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase using them. Thank you for supporting my channel and visit my review policy for more information.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Weight Watchers Tips, Resources and Info

I have been doing Weight Watchers for 3 months now, and have lost right at 30 pounds. I have a very long way to go, as I mentioned in the first post I wrote about my weight issues last week. I am by no means an "expert" at either weight loss or Weight Watchers, unless you count expertly starting many schemes over the years and not lasting more than about 2 weeks to a month on them before giving up. But, since I began this journey in November, I've had a few friends join also, and since I'm an internet researcher at heart, I thought I'd try and compile some of the fantastic resources I've found in one spot for anyone who is on this path with me. And if you're not on Weight Watchers, and just interested in eating healthy and taking good care of your body, I still think you might find some interesting things I hope you'll stick it out and see what I've found for ya!

First off, I think it might be silly to say check out the Weight Watchers site and app...but I'll do it anyway. There is a wealth of information to be found once you've joined. From an incredibly impressive recipe and restaurant section, to a lively Instagram-like community area. And now we even have OPRAH on there, complete with her own videos and suggestions. She has brought with her an emphasis on your mind and spirit being a part of the weight loss experience, and making sure you have a clear vision of where you want to go. Plus, knowing your WHY. They talk about this in meetings frequently. You need to know your why, keep it current, and be ready to pull it out when the going gets tough.

Okay, the next resource I have for you is one that I bring up a lot and am a HUGE fan of, but others might not even consider...and that's YouTube. You all know I'm a ridiculous fan of the site, but I can tell you that when I joined WW, I don't think my first month would've gone as well as it did if it weren't for the channels I'm going to list in a minute. There is a fabulous and wonderfully supportive group of I'm going to say women, who are making content that will inspire and keep you going when you're still taking baby steps and unsure of what you're doing. If you're an online member only, there are a few who breakdown everything that was talked about in their meetings for the benefit of people who can't or didn't go. You will learn from watching that even people who do everything right sometimes don't have a loss because our bodies are weird, and that consistency is key. And for me, one of the biggest benefits was the grocery hauls! It made shopping so much easier mainly because it helped me get an idea of what others were eating, cooking, and which items had the lowest point values. Trust me, my first grocery shopping trip after joining took me probably 3 hours, with my phone out and open to my WW barcode scanner the entire time! One sugar free creamer is NOT the same points as another, people. But I are a few of my favorite Weight Watchers YouTube accounts!

  • Amanda Cypert : Living the Program This gal is young and gorgeous, with a channel full of grocery hauls, recipes and meal prep! At her size, she is working with the lowest amount of daily points available on the program, so a great example of using your points wisely! 
  • The Fit and Fabuless Mama Kim has lost over 100 lbs on Weight Watchers, and just recently started working as a receptionist for the company. I follow her on Instagram also, and she's such a positive lady who has shown me that it's possible to lose a lot of weight if you just keep working the program! Her channel has recipes, grocery hauls, weigh-in motivation and a whole lot more. 
  • Let's Get Fit Okay, this might seem a bit odd, but Sandy's channel is one of the reasons I started my own! This woman uploads EVERY DAY but Sunday, and shows what she ate, whether she walked, is honest about what food went into her mouth, etc. She is slowly losing, and has been doing the program for a while, but I love listening to her videos...and for a long time it was part of my bedtime routine!! She also does a full rundown of her meetings, going through the book that is handed out and discussing, perfect for the person doing only the online version.
  • Weight Watchers with Carrie This is another lady who has lost over 100 lbs on the program!! And she uploads pretty much daily, sometimes twice a day, showing what she ate, recipes and groceries. Her husband joined her on the program when she'd lost about 60 lbs, so they are doing it together. She started her channel very early into her journey, so it's all up there for you to see, and once again gives me hope that it's possible to get all of this weight off! 
  • The Skinny on Weight Loss Kelly and Kim are two hysterical identical twin sisters who joined Weight Watchers together and have lost a combined almost 200 lbs on the program! One twin has hit her goal weight, and the other is SO CLOSE. They upload once a week, and have definitely gone the slow and steady route as I believe they started WW in 2013 maybe? But they crack me up and I always enjoy what they're talking about because it's definitely real life. 
So, we've covered YouTube, now I'm going to point you to my favorite social media site Instagram, and give you a list of some accounts you should be following over there. If you're not on Instagram yet I say, why not? LOL But really, I'm not suggesting everyone should try to do an account like mine with flatlays and staged shots. My Instagram is a curated account, which I try very hard to keep as authentically ME as I possibly can, but is inherently designed to look pretty and hopefully get and keep y'all's attention. But the social media site can definitely be used as a weight loss tool for support, inspiration and accountability. Plenty of people post their meals (and not even fancy shots), their sweaty faces after exercising, their weigh-in numbers (which I do too), foods they love that are low points, recipes, grocery hauls, etc. There is a THRIVING Weight Watchers community over there that is extremely supportive, so maybe consider opening an account just to play with and follow others who inspire you. Here are a few people to follow if you ARE over there: (oh, and follow me too please. I do an Insta-story of my weigh-ins, and will try to add more stuff, my account is kind-of all over the place, just like me really...)
And now for a few good ole websites to check out! I'm always looking for recipes that I can make where they've taken the work of figuring out the points for me. I guess I'm just lazy that way! But when I do it myself it usually leads to me hovering over my extremely low point gigantic pot of chicken chili trying to figure out if the entire thing is only 5 points, how much is a cup?!? This normally means that my husband is done eating before I've ever even sat down at the table! So...websites...Weight Watcher Friendly...go:
Hopefully some of these links, channels and people can help to keep you excited and motivated as you're losing weight, getting healthy and achieving your goals on Weight Watchers. 

My own personal 5 tips for sticking with this program, even though I'm early in my own journey, are as follows:
  • Track every bit of food that goes into your mouth, no matter what! I don't care if you ate an entire large pizza, 20 chocolate chip cookies, 5 margaritas, and the largest heart-shaped box of chocolate at Target...track it. Even if you're NOT on WW, and just trying to lose weight, track your food on My Fitness Pal, or your Fitbit. But track EVERYTHING, good or bad. And then, brush it off...even if you went over your daily allotment, your weekly allotment, and then some. Every day, you start off with a clean slate. Your points are right back in there again. I used to be an all or nothing, and one bad meal would take me so far off program for so long that I would find I'd been off for 6 months and gained everything back and then some! Track it, and then move on. We had a lady at my meeting last week who told us she was so excited she'd lost .2 lbs, and that was with her drinking "an entire case of beer, 2 bottles of wine, a few margaritas, a pizza, AND going out to eat!!!". We've all been there, honey. Track it, and keep on keepin' on. 
  • Never let yourself get to the point where you're starving! Now this one is tricky, because we need to learn that fine line of sating and fueling our bodies, but not over-stuffing ourselves. BUT, you should never be starving. Should you feel hunger before dinner? Yes. Should you be climbing up the walls wanting to eat everything in the house? No. And there are enough 0 pt foods in the program now that regardless of how much you've eaten points wise already, if you are starving, eat something...just choose wisely. Grab something that's zero points instead of crap. Pick an apple, or some carrots. Eat a hard-boiled egg, or a couple slices of chicken breast. If you're starving, you will make bad decisions. Why make it harder on yourself?
  • Don't keep trigger foods in your house. If you know that you can't pass up guacamole, and will eat an entire container of it with a family size bag of tortilla chips, don't keep it in your house. I'm not saying that you'll never eat guacamole ever again, because that's just dumb and unrealistic. Weight Watchers is a lifestyle and not a diet. It's intended to be a program you can stay on for the rest of your life, and I'm a firm believer that telling yourself you can never eat something ever again is only going to make it more appealing. (Are you getting a vague idea of what I was like as a teenager as you read that?) But keeping your pantry filled with Cookies and Junk Food is going to make it very hard for you to grab those carrot sticks that I mentioned up above when you're starving. Put a barrier between you and bad choices, so that when you're weak you have a slight hindrance to the diet equivalent of waking up after passing out with a bottle of tequila in your hand, not remembering what you'd done. I live with people who are not watching their weight. If my son wants something that isn't in my plan, he keeps it downstairs in the den cabinet, stashed behind his DVDs. Just the act of having to walk downstairs to his area keeps me from making bad decisions. And if I'm going to go through the effort, then I need that snack-sized Snickers. 
  • Find your why, and keep your goals in mind. I've found that being skinny isn't a good why. Your why needs to have a certain depth and scope that will keep you focused when life gets hard, and your previous coping mechanisms were unhealthy. Really take some time to sit down with a journal and write down whatever comes to mind when you think about what's led you down the road to wanting to lose weight. And set some goals! And not just that great big end of the road weight loss goal either. Break it down into manageable chunks, and then figure out what you can do each and every day to get you closer to those goals. Your goals shouldn't just involve the scale either. You really need to think of your whole being, as cheesy as that sounds, if you're going to get make those long range goals, especially if like me they are a ways down the road. My weight gain is not just due to eating too much, so my weight loss shouldn't just be about eating less. 
  • Reward Yourself  And NOT with food! When you're breaking down those goals into small manageable chunks, plan out fun rewards for yourself when you reach them. It could be anything from a manicure or a new book every 10 lbs to a glass of wine on Friday nights for tracking every day that week. Have fun with it. Weight Watchers knows that rewards work! That's why they give you stickers and charms in their meetings!! I'm heavily motivated by stickers. I honestly should have a chore chart like a little kid on my fridge...I would get more accomplished. But enjoy this process people. Try not to make it drudgery. If it is, you won't keep doing it. And you didn't gain weight over night, so it's not going to come off over night. And unfortunately, the older we get the harder and slower it usually is. So, buy a set of gold stars from me, and give yourself one every day you track. Take a photo, and tag me on Instagram. It will make me laugh! 
I hope this post is helpful in some way! I have too many friends joining me on this program, and I would love to be a helpful resource and support for all of you have been for me. Please let me know in either the comments here, or over on my Facebook page, if you're on Weight Watchers or trying to lose weight with me. If you're posting on Instagram, please let me know you're name over there so I can follow you. And I'd also like to know if you'd like me to write more about my journey. I know I'm kind-of all over the place at the I'd love to hear from you. 

*my posts may contain affiliate links, which mean I receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase using them. Thank you for supporting my channel and visit my review policy for more information. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

In Praise of Girlfriends

Or Why Galentine's Day Isn't Such a Bad Idea...

For some reason, I managed to get up and stay up with my husband at 5 am today, even though I got about 3 hours of sleep last night. In my head I was going to have an incredibly productive day, and do all sorts of amazing things from my to do list once I'd finished getting this blog post up and published. I started fiddling with a book review, and was struggling to find the words even though I really enjoyed the book. Then I started working on my planner post, and couldn't seem to find inspiration there either. So I headed over to YouTube and watched a few tutorials on my editing software, along with a couple planner videos and one makeup tutorial...because watching other people be productive apparently counts as being productive yourself today. So, it's 10 am and I've done nothing of note except feed my dog. But I've found my mind wandering heavily to a few of my girlfriends, and how much I miss them. 

Now, I promise I'm not going to fill this lovely public webpage with things like, Boy I miss friend A in Maryland today or Damn I wish I could sit in friend B's car in the driveway like we used to, confessing our deepest thoughts and fears to each other. That would be both overly personal (even coming from someone like me, who shares A LOT) and incredibly cheesy and fake sounding, though both of those supposed theoretical sentences above are true. 

But Valentine's Day is next week, and Instagram is filled with women sharing their "Galentine's Day" ideas, and it's got me thinking a lot about women and the role girlfriends have in their lives, and mine in particular. At first I thought this Galentine's thing was incredibly cheesy. First off, it originated in a tv show that I've not watched much of. And then, I'm already not a huge fan of Valentine's Day, which sounds bad...but my husband grumbles about how it's a "Hallmark-created holiday", and he doesn't like "forced romantic gestures"...and I guess that's rubbed off on me a bit. And I can see how it would be hard to be single and surrounded by red hearts and roses from December 26th until February 14th. What was once a bring your wife home a rose, and maybe go out to dinner thing has turned into diamonds, vacations, and entire florist shops. We are a world of excess, folks...but saying all of that, I did tell my husband I still expect conversation hearts, and perhaps a margarita. 😁

Galentine's I think I can get behind though! I mean, I don't know that it needs to be on February 13th really, but maybe that tones down the whole Valentine's thing for those not attached in a relationship. I kind-of think that every day should be Galentine's Day. I love my girlfriends, and although I wouldn't say I'm the best friend in the world...especially since I'm scatterbrained, and not the best at initiating get togethers and phone calls...I DO try to let my ladies know how important they are to me. 

I have always had a lot of friends, and been a very social creature. I'm currently going through probably one of the most...reclusive and solitary stages of my life. Growing up I had a lot of friends. I'm a big talker and extrovert, so I never had an issue reaching out to new people. For a lot of my life I had one "best friend", who inevitably changed through moves, relocations and life stages...but as I've got older, I've realized my heart is big enough to hold more than one friend close. But with everyone scattered around the globe now, I personally need to work a bit harder to ensure they all know how important they are to me, and we continue to find ways to keep that tie that binds us strong. 

Because, although I'd consider my husband to be my best friend and confidante always, there is still a need in my heart for girlfriends. Girlfriends are just different than husbands! And I think that we need them just as much, if not more as we get older. Girlfriends don't mind it when you moan and groan about something, even if you caused it yourself. The good ones will love you still, even if you confess crazy stuff to them in a drunken stupor (not that I know anything about that...). They will hold your hand, and cook for you, when you get sick. They will mother your child for you if you can't get to them (thanks again K!). They will tell you you're pretty, even if you've snapped them for a week in a row with unwashed hair and no makeup, while sitting on the toilet (um, not that I'm speaking form experience...). And the best ones will stand by you, through thick and thin, day or night, no matter what. 

Maybe we should have more Galentine's Days. Take our girlfriends out for lunch and a manicure. For a coffee date. Or have a Skype/Facetime Drinks date, if you aren't close. Send them a card just because. Do a wine and paint night together. Play games at someones house. Be a cliche, and help spend each other's money on a shopping trip together! Do the unexpected! Support your girlfriend's passions. Raise each other up. Tell your best friend that you love them, because it's not weird...and there are a lot of different types of love. Plus life is short people. I tell everyone that I love how I feel. I've had someone pass away who I worried didn't know, and that will never happen again. I have a big heart...and I have a lot of love to pass around! 

So, on February 13th, maybe take a minute to tell your lady friends how important they are to you. Drop them a line. Snap them first thing in the morning saying hey! Send them a tweet with a cute picture of Michael Fassbender to brighten their day (I mean, I guess it could be someone else...but if it were me, I'd prefer Fassy). Tag them in an Insta-Story of you lipsyncing to a funny song to make them smile (once again, I'm just listing things I want...). Take a minute out of your day to recognize how important your female friendships are, so they can continue to thrive. Because I think we're all a little guilty of taking our girlfriends for granted at times. And it's incredibly easy to make someone feel special, it just requires intention folks. 

So, in praise of Girlfriends rock!! If I forgot to call you back that one time, consider this a formal and public apology! 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hello Mornings Review

 Hello Mornings by Kat Lee Book Review on Tomes and Tequila

I have a new Christian nonfiction book review for y'all today, which I devoured last week. It basically covers two things I really want to focus on in 2018...well really for the future and not just the year...and that's my spirit and getting my mornings under control.

We'll start with the mornings thing. I've always been a night owl. I think this goes back to my husband working shifts eons ago, and then not getting off work until later than your average person for quite a few years. We had always stayed up late, not necessarily doing anything productive mind you, but I've never had a set, early bedtime. I also have insomnia, which might be helped by the set, early bedtime that I've just confessed I don't have. I've also never had a great daily routine. I've always been a willy-nilly, spontaneous person, and yet fascinated by the routines that other people have and I've never managed to grasp. I covet them big time, and have decided at 42 yo that it's time to get my crap together. So, morning routines are way up on my priority list this year.

I've also decided that I want to prioritize growing in my faith and spirit. I was not raised in a family that attended church every week. I think I have casually mentioned this in other reviews before. Over the years I have sporadically attended different churches, intimidated as all get out because it feels like everyone else knows what they're doing, and I'm on the outside looking in. But I read books, listen to sermons and podcasts, follow Instagram accounts, and devote time daily to reading the Bible. I'm hoping to find a Church home soon, as I feel in my heart it's a missing link...but for now, I'm doing the best I can. And trying to make a concerted effort to put my faith high up on my priority list.

So, the book Hello Mornings by Kat Lee * is one that can be filed under the "Instagram Made Me Buy It" tag, and I'm incredibly happy I made the purchase. For the life of me, I can't remember which account that I follow shared the book first, but it was one of those instances where I'd seen it so many times that I finally had to head over to Amazon and take a look at the reviews...which eventually led to what was probably a late night purchase from my cell phone. 😁

I wasn't aware until reading the book that there is a website and podcasts of the same name, with a thriving community of folks online supporting each other in following the plan outlined in the book. I am definitely going to listen, join and devour all of this content now that I know it's there...but like normal, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Hello Mornings is a book dedicated to building a three part morning routine that the author has found to do amazing things in her life. The idea is that you start your mornings with God Time, Plan Time and Move Time. She starts with a simple 3-minute version of this routine, and then gives you a myriad of ways that you can build on it. She also discusses habits, the power of a good routine, and why it's important to start your day with God so that the rest of your day falls in line with your spirit. To me that goes with something I've seen on quite a few accounts on Instagram since the new year, which is starting your day with the "Word before World"...or praying, reading scripture, devoting time to God before you reach for your cell phone.

 Hello Mornings by Kat Lee review on Tomes and Tequila

Like I said before, I devoured this book. I'm talking, reading through a migraine devoured it. It is written like a good chat with your girlfriend, and never comes off as condescending or "holier than though"...which I hate to say I've found in some books of this genre. I think my favorite part is the fact that she starts with the simplest routine, one that anyone can accomplish and feel good about themselves for achieving. Her 3-minute version is to read/pray/memorize Psalm 143:8, look at your calendar for the day, and then drink a glass of water. That's it! Just that simple habit covers your spirit, your daily plan, and your health.

And honestly, although this is a very Christian book filled with tons of advice for people trying to build their relationship with God, the actual morning plan could be tweaked for anyone...although I'm not sure the actual book would be at the top of someone's list if they were not Christian. But the plan could be morphed to meditation or any form of calm spirit building practice, and then the rest of the plan kept the same. I feel the main takeaway is to start your day focusing on your Faith before life gets in the way.

The book has plenty of stories from other women, sharing how they've incorporated this plan into their lives...women in various stages and lifestyles, from working women, to stay-at-home mothers with little ones still. And my absolute favorite thing, and one that you'll recognize if you're a long-time reader of the blog, is the actionable steps and lists of how-to's that are peppered throughout, and the great resource section that really lays out everything that was covered more in-depth earlier in the book. I am a HUGE fan of practical tips that I can use TODAY to put into practice the tenets laid-out in a book.

I will be going back and doing some of the exercises in the book that I jumped over in finishing it to review, but if you're intrigued at all, I believe on her website you can download the first chapter for free. She also has a lot of other great content to be explored. But, I'm so happy I bought this book when I should've been sleeping! It is just a bright and shiny, happy book that left me incredibly excited to begin a new routine.

I'd love to hear in the comments if you have a set morning routine that you follow. I'm always zooming in on people's planner photos on Instagram to see what their daily/weekly routines are, and hoping to get a glimpse of how everyone else is managing the day in/day out tasks that need to be accomplished. I feel like it's something I definitely need to work on!! OH, and be sure to check out my January Favorites video on YouTube.
 *Affiliate Link, please visit my review policy for more information.

Monday, February 5, 2018

My New Love Affair With Instagram

I feel like I might need to start a new regular feature on the blog devoted to "Things Instagram Made Me Buy!". As I've been spending more time over there, my To Buy and To Read list has grown exponentially, including new brands and authors I'd never heard uttered anywhere else. And I'm personally a fan of Insta-Stories because I like knowing the person behind the page, and no matter how curated you try to keep what you put out there to your people, I feel like your energy, vibe, personality and heart shows through in those short little videos. I know I've unfollowed people after watching them, but I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself let me rewind a tad.

For a long time I focused my social media energy on Twitter, feeling like I never quite "got" Instagram. The followers have never come easily, and for a time there I was paying way too much attention to where I thought I was lacking compared to other people who were doing the same as me, yet pulling numbers at least 5 times what I did. I would share my frustration with my kids, "But she just put the book in a tree?!?!" and they would remind me, yet again, that I'm not doing any of this for the numbers.

I have googled how to have a successful account, when it's best to post, and devoted way too much energy trying to be a Good and Successful Instagrammer...and never felt like anything made a difference. So for a long time there I'd toss a photo up that I'd usually taken for a blog post, and then leave. And I'd head to Twitter...the place of my people.

Twitter I could understand, and I built up followers a lot faster and enjoyed interacting with other book folks...and building friendships with a few authors and other bloggers. I managed to get on a few blogger lists and built followers up to a respectable number I felt. Of course, 95% of the people who follow or share anything of mine over there are other bloggers or I doubt that the reviews are reaching anyone who might benefit from them. But that 1K of followers stroked my fragile ego, so I zeroed in on what I knew best and stayed over there.

However, in the last few months my feelings about both have changed dramatically, and I find myself spending the time I've allotted to social media over on Instagram instead of Twitter. I know all of this may seem like a silly subject for an entire blog post, but my reasons for the change are HUGE really, or at least they are in my eyes...and it's something I think needs to be addressed, although I know it's been covered by others and probably more succinctly than this.

I am not a political person. I don't keep my head buried in the sand or anything. I vote. I read. I like to think I'm reasonably well-educated. But I'm not someone who chooses to spend her spare time debating politics with people. I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and that you can have a different opinion than I do, and we can still be friends. I doubt that what I have to say is going to make you change your mind on anything, so I think what I think what you think. It's what makes the world a fun and crazy place. It would be boring if we were all the same.

I am also not a fan of mean-spirited people and negativity. I have suffered from depression in the past, and honestly don't do well when I'm surrounded by people who behave ugly or put off a vibe of having a sour distaste for humanity. Don't get me wrong, I'm no pollyanna. I'm not walking around with birds chirping around my head all day or anything. I just can not stand ugliness for the sake of being ugly, or bitter vitriol being spewed because you're sitting behind a keyboard and don't have to see the whites of someones eyes as you cut them to pieces.

Now, the Internet has always been a place where people who felt like they didn't have a voice before were free to speak. Where the world is at your fingertips. I love the internet, obviously...I love social media and enjoy greatly that I can write something from my couch in Virginia and my friends all over the world can read it at a moments notice. But for me, in some areas of the interwebs, the cons of hatred and negativity have overwhelmed the pros. And I find that in order to keep my head in a great place, to stay focused on my goals to love myself and grow the life of my dreams, I can't spend a lot of time in places that make me feel bad.

And Twitter makes me feel bad (Facebook too if I'm not hanging out in the right places).

Keep in mind that I really only follow bloggers, writers and authors. That's it.

I used to love pouring through my feed looking for new books and blog posts by other bloggers to read and share, but now I'm struggling to spend my time on there long enough to find what I want! Yes, book people are allowed to spew whatever they want on Twitter, it's not like it has to stay focused on books...but there have been authors that I LOVED and supported for years that I'd no longer purchase a book from because what they've put out to the public has been so full of hatred. So, I look for the people I love...the people I want to make sure I'm supporting properly...and then I leave. And my follower count is reflecting that, which is a little sad, but I'm okay with it I think because I know that I'm doing what is write for my health and sanity (drama queen much?!?), and doing my little bit to make sure I don't succumb to the pull of others towards negativity.

So instead, I'm hanging out in the world of Instagram. If there's negativity over there, it's not hanging out in the same place as me. And I'm trying so hard to keep all the love that I feel over there flowing and growing! (Okay, that line was even too cheesy for me I think, but I'm keeping it in here...)

Yes, I ranted about the fingerprints on my stainless steel appliances once, and I'll always give y'all an honest review of what I'm checking out for you...because if it's horrible, it's horrible. But it is refreshing to scroll through a feed of nothing but positive vibes and people supporting and building each other up.

I follow authors, and get the privilege of telling them congratulations on their achievements shared, along with a yee-haw over their Friday night cocktail and cool handbag. And then I usually end up searching for that handbag and putting it on my wishlist.

I follow planners, and ooh and aah over their amazing bullet journal spreads, extremely detailed daily/weekly cleaning lists, and am inspired to continue using my planner to become more productive. Sometimes it leads to a cool new Etsy shop to peruse. Or a small business online to support and follow, complete with another new person to fall in love with.

I follow others on Weight Watchers, and cheer their weight loss accomplishments, support them when they have a setback, borrow their recipes, watch their YouTube videos as soon as they're uploaded, and get the inspiration to keep on keeping on in my own weight loss journey.

I follow people who encourage me to grow in my faith. Their love seems to radiate right out of my phone and straight into my heart. It's led me to buy new devotionals, download a free Bible study program for the year, and seek out new ways to love, encourage and grow.

I follow book bloggers, of course. We love each other's pictures, and I look to them to figure out what I want to read next, even more so than Goodreads or other sources really. You can only see a book so many times before deciding you need to read up about it and see if it's for you. And I'm beginning to feel that my photo game is getting stronger, which has put the green-eyed monster to sleep.

And don't even get me started on the beauty accounts I follow. To me the best part has been watching them open PR boxes in their stories, and then see what items they end up liking in their upcoming videos. I find it fun to see which items they receive...and never talk about! I have tried to stick with people who are transparent and their honesty is apparent. But they aren't good for my bank account.

I try to share the love. I try my best to like and support people. And no matter how big your account is, if I see you do a video where you're singing along to a song or dancing, I AM going to send you a DM saying "You Go Girl!"...because they make me happy on a deep emotional level. The world needs more cute dog videos. More grown ass women dancing with their girlfriends, and sharing it with everyone. More Love. More Happiness. More Likes...You Go Girls...Good Job Lady...Love That Photo...Congratulations!...Beautiful Picture!! Being a positive force is never a bad thing. And you don't know how much that one word might impact someone else's day.

So, if you're missing me over on Twitter...I'm probably hanging out on Instagram, trying not to purchase more skincare just because it comes in a beautiful frosted blush pink bottle. I'm working on my flatlay photos, and attempting a subtle color scheme on my feed. But I haven't succumbed to putting a book in a tree...yet.