An update!!

So I’ve been thinking about some things that I could do with this blog – so many possibilities out there!! – and I’ve come up with a couple of ideas.  Hopefully I will be able to implement one of my devious plots starting next Thursday.  In the meantime, within the next few days I will be making one (or more) posts with recommendations for books to read.  The top ten post I wrote the other day didn’t even come close to covering my favorite books, so I think that I shall do book recommendations every few weeks.  Maybe I’ll designate a day when I can do that, so you guys know what to look for (or what to avoid, depending on what you like reading here ;)).  I won’t do ten books at once, since that takes far too long (and probably gets a bit annoying to read) and doesn’t allow me to go in depth with writing about the plot and what I enjoyed about the book – I want to be able to do mini book reviews or something along those lines.

 

So I guess you could say that this blog is still under construction, but it’s starting to all come together.  I will also write some about my WIPs as I work on them more – they’ve been woefully abandoned these past few weeks, due to personal circumstances (and horribly difficult papers to write for grad school), but hopefully soon I shall be able to get back into the swing of writing a little each day.  If I could do it for NaNoWriMo, I can do it for other months too. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 recommended books!!

This idea is taken from The Broke and Bookish blog, over on Blogspot.  They have Top Tens every Tuesday, and while sometimes they’re not things that I particularly have an opinion on… this week I certainly do.  Well, if I can weed out my top ten recommended reads from all of the other books that I have read!! (All of the links lead to Goodreads.)

 

1) The Little White Horse – this is an excellent story for people of all ages.  It is for all ages, although originally written as a children’s tale.  It has an almost fairytale-like quality.  I first encountered it when I was eleven or so, borrowed it from the library, and then wanted to reread it.  However, then the library had gotten rid of their copy, so for my birthday, I got a copy.  I still have it, and I now realize I need to reread it.  Such an amazing story.  Definitely a “cosy read” for those blustery evenings, or the days when you’re home sick, etc.

 

2) Sarah’s Key – set in WWII (a time period I find so very fascinating!!), this book tells the story of a ten year old girl and her younger brother.  It hops from 1942 to present day, telling Sarah’s story about the round-up of Jews in Paris, and what happened to her little brother.  It is a sad tale, but very well written.  I have enjoyed other books by Tatiana de Rosnay, and I highly recommend any of her books.

 

3) Mr. Churchill’s Secretary – this one is also set in WWII.  While the title made me think of a dry, dusty office with an elderly woman taking notes in shorthand, this book was anything but dry or boring.  As I wrote in my review of it, “it takes a little while for McNeal to set up the plot … [but] it was exciting, so intriguing by the end that I couldn’t put it down.”  It is full of intrigue, mysterious happenings, and fascinating characters.  I believe it was McNeal’s debut novel and it was an excellent start.  I look forward to reading any of her others that I may come across!!

 

4) Feed – the first in a trilogy called the Newsflesh trilogy, this novel is set in future America, where zombies roam freely.  It was a little slow at the beginning for me, but when I finally let myself get caught up in the plot, it was an excellent read.  While I normally am not a fan of “zombie literature,” this series is an exception.  I have actually recently just ordered the rest of the trilogy so I can read them at my own pace and truly enjoy the excitement that runs rampant through Mira Grant’s work.

 

5) The Ladies’ No. 1 Detective Agency – the first in a wonderful series by Alexander McCall Smith, this book introduces us to the indomitable Mma. Ramotswe.  Set in Botswana, this book – and the rest of the series – is another “cosy read.”  The prose is gentle, the plot comfortable – not too exciting, but interesting enough to hold your attention.  McCall Smith’s attention to detail is extraordinary, and I found myself feeling as though I were there in Botswana with Mma. Ramotswe when I was reading this book.

 

6) Discount Armageddon – also by Mira Grant, otherwise known as Seanan McGuire, this book is a paranormal adventure set in future Manhattan.  Or rather, a parallel Manhattan, since I don’t think it particularly spells out that it’s in the future.  It’s just a different Manhattan of today than actually exists.  It’s a fun ride, and I am looking forward to reading the next one in the series – not that “cosy,” but definitely enjoyable.  It’s the best kind of book to read while you are waiting for something, since I know that I got so caught up in it that I often did not notice time passing at all.

 

7) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – this is an excellent novel by Anne Bronte, one that I believe is not know as broadly as it ought to be.  It draws the reader into the world of Helen Graham and Gilbert Markham, and makes one wonder what the mystery is behind Helen’s reclusive behavior.  I actually need to find a copy of this so I can reread it – I first read it when I was about fourteen and enjoyed it immensely, although I believe I would enjoy it more if I read it today.

 

8) Emily of New Moon – although less well-known than the Anne of Green Gables series, this book is the first of a very delightful trilogy.  L.M. Montgomery has always been a favorite author of mine and although I love the Anne of Green Gables series, this trilogy was – to me – a better read.  It starts out with young Emily, a newly orphaned girl of ten or so, moving to her Aunt Elizabeth’s farm, and details her adventures with Perry and Ilse, two new friends that she makes as she goes to school (Ilse) or runs wild around the countryside (Perry).

 

9) Alanna: the First Adventure – although I am sure that if I looked back at it now, it wouldn’t be such a favorite, it was one of the best contemporary books that I read while growing up.  I really ought to reread it sometime soon through the eyes of an adult and revisit that fantasy world that so caught me in its grip when I was younger.  Tamora Pierce was one of my favorite authors back then, when I first forayed into fantasy.

 

10) Redwall – the first of Brian Jacques’ lengthy Redwall series, this book was one of my favorites while growing up too.  Although the plots of the books were all similar, I loved reading the adventures of the mice and other animals in the Redwall Abbey.  Once again, I need to reread these books, since I want to see how they have changed since I have grown older (read: since I have changed as I have grown older ;)).

 

What are your top ten books? 😀

Being body positive.

While this is not technically about books or tea (although I am enjoying a mug of Tazo Zen tea while I write this 😉 ), I think it belongs on my blog.  This is something that I have seen countless people – not just women – struggle with.  Whether or not they have eating disorders, disordered eating, or are chronic dieters, it seems that – especially in America – the focus is so much on “I need to change how my body looks” instead of “I need to love my body no matter its size.”

 

I’ll be honest.  This is something I have struggled with since I can remember.  It’s not an easy thing, to go against what society declares to be the “only” way of thinking, the only way of acting.  People seem to put exercising, dieting, and losing weight up on a pedestal.  There are countless posts on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter about how X amount of pounds need to come off after X holiday (usually Christmas and New Year’s).  If you don’t exercise, you’re looked down upon.  And if you say that you’re happy with your body the way that it is, you’re frowned upon even more, because how could that even be possible?  Society truly is messed up in this way (and many other ways – don’t get me started on that one 😉 ).

 

So – being body positive.  In my opinion, this is one of the most important things to learn while you live on this earth.  If you can be happy with your body, no matter the size, and if you can be kind to yourself and others – and not judge based on size – then you have a lot of problems solved before they’ve begun.  I’m not telling you that you should be okay with being overweight/underweight if it’s jeopardizing your health in any way.  I am not at a healthy weight for my height, currently, but that doesn’t mean that accepting my body is impossible.  I can accept it for what it is, and more importantly, for what it does for me – there are so many things that we take for granted when we go about our days.  When was the last time you were consciously grateful for the ability to walk? to breathe? to digest food? to smile?  I could continue listing, but you’ve gotten the idea, I hope.

 

But being body positive is more than just accepting your own body.  It’s about rejecting society’s focus on weight.  It’s about accepting other people and not creating first impressions based on their weight.  It’s about saying that yes, there are people out there that could be called “fat,” or “obese,” and that they are still gorgeous.  I have seen many a woman that would be considered lazy and fat by society at large, who is beautiful inside and out, who has self confidence that I can only dream of having one day, and who doesn’t care what society thinks of her.

 

You know the sad part, though?  We are society.  We make up society.  Yes, the media has a lot to do with what we think is the ideal, but if no one in society bought into those magazines, ads, and commercials, then they’d be out of business.  Yes, I know that is not realistic – but whether you like it or not, you are part of society as a whole.  I am calling you to action.  Take a stand for being body positive.  Accept yourself the way that you are.  Don’t let weight define you or anyone else.

 

And don’t be afraid to make a ripple in that ocean of weight obsessed people!!  Speak out for what you believe is right, and stand up for what you know is healthy.  Not society’s idea of “healthy” (overexercising, eating too little, eating only a certain type of food, etc.).  The actual healthy, where you eat what you want, when you want it – in moderation of course, but who cares if you eat an extra serving of ice cream once in awhile, or have more than two Reese’s cups?  The actual healthy where you exercise when you want to – if you like it, great!! but if you don’t, and if you don’t have doctor’s orders to exercise, then don’t worry about it.  As a last thought – if you exercise regularly and find yourself panicking on days that you can’t… re-evaluate your exercising… because it is not healthy to become so obsessed with something that if you can’t do it, you become panicked.

 

Give yourself a hug for me today.  Smile at yourself in the mirror, and tell yourself, “I am grateful for my body, no matter what size it may be, and I am thankful for all that it does for me.  I reject society’s ideals for beauty and instead agree to work on finding beauty in everyone.”

Under construction.

In between the times that I write on here, I am almost always trying to think of a topic for a new blog post.  The only problem with my current idea for this blog is this: as a new writer, I don’t really know enough about writing professionally to offer much advice on that topic.  However, I can write book reviews… and I can ramble about tea. 😉 I also have found that I enjoy writing about topics that are relevant to me and my studies (see last post for an example), so I may incorporate more of those into this blog as I run across topics in my classes and side studies.

 

I am passionate about writing, though, so I am sure that there will still be posts about writing, my WIPs, what I’ve recently discovered about myself through my writing, and other things of that nature.  I am also considering doing more book reviews on this site, more in-depth than the reviews I write at Goodreads… so there may be more of those in the future, somewhat as fillers for the other blog entries/articles that I will be working on.  I want to eventually get to a point where I update this blog regularly, perhaps twice or three times per week, just to keep myself on the tips of my writing toes, so to speak.  However, right now, I am just working on figuring out who I want my blog audience to be, and what I want to write about.

 

Thus the title.  This blog is currently under construction… but I will be continuing to update it as I figure out just what kinds of things I enjoy writing about. 🙂

A break from your regularly scheduled programming…

This is not about writing… but I think it deserves a place on my blog, since it deals with issues that I, as a social worker, will have to confront daily.  Not to mention, I have a personal interest in this issue.

 

What am I talking about?  The two articles that were recently written, one in the New York Post, and the other from blogs.villagevoice.com.  The first, from the NY Post, is titled “Scoop the Nuts.”  The other is titled “Another Subway Death Solution: NYPD Tracking of the Mentally Ill?”

 

They are both recent articles, written – obviously – about the recent rash of subway deaths in NYC.  According to both of them, the solution for this problem is to round up the “25 most wanted mentally ill” in the city.  The NYPD and the Department of Health are working together to find these people and force them into treatment, on a “mental hygiene warrant” (NY Post, p. 1).  Apparently these people are already wanted for other crimes and they haven’t been able to be found (I wonder why… I mean, New York City is such a tiny little hamlet…).  The treatment has also apparently been court-ordered.

 

Although I do feel genuinely bad about the innocent people who died, I also feel for those mentally ill who are now running scared from the NYPD and DOH.  “The city has already drawn up a list of the 25 most wanted,” the Post writes.  “…But tracking them down won’t be easy.  ‘There’s no rhyme or reason to their craziness,’ said a law-enforcement source” (NY Post, p. 2).

 

This violates so many ethical principles that the social work profession upholds.  It also violates the Constitutional rights that every human should have – despite different brain chemistry.  Even with Kendra’s Law in place (1999), that “give judges the right to order involuntary treatment to those who meet the criteria of ‘mentally ill'” (blogs.villagevoice.com, p. 1)… you know, I thought that we were trying to fight the stigma that is attached to being mentally ill?  As someone I know recently said, it’s getting to the point of where those with mental illnesses are being put in the closet that LGBTQ people were in for so long (and still are in – I am not saying this to begin a debate about LGBTQ rights).  Being mentally ill has had such a stigma for… well, for as long as anyone can remember.  And even now, in 2013, people see it fit to “round up” the “25 most wanted mentally ill.”

 

To me, it sounds like something out of a Ray Bradbury short story.  It is horrific.  What about these people’s freedom?  Adults legally can refuse treatment.  It’s been that way forever.  Involuntary treatment – do you actually think that this is going to work?  People need to want to get better in order to actually do so.  They need to want help before they’ll accept it.  They need to want to take medication and go to therapy in order for those things, in conjunction, to work.  What about the justice of it?  Would you force radiation treatment on someone who has cancer, who has specifically said that they don’t want it?

 

Yes, I understand that these people, the “25 most wanted,” have committed crimes.  But the legislation that orders them into treatment isn’t likely to work, and I feel like there are too many people out there that don’t understand that.  Being mentally ill – it’s not as though you can put someone with bipolar into treatment and expect that in a couple of months they’ll be back to normal.  It’s a “problem” with brain chemistry.  The same with schizophrenia.  The same with depression.  The same with… fill in the blank.  Medications may work, but they may not.  There is such a thing as being “treatment resistant” – which doesn’t mean, in psychiatric terms, that you are being noncompliant.  It means that your body just does not react to medication as expected.  Sometimes therapy doesn’t work, either.  And once again – it comes down to: do these people want help?  If they don’t, what right do we have to say, “No, I don’t care what you want, you need to be in treatment” – and then force them to be in treatment?  Even if it won’t work.  Even if we would never say that to anyone who is physically sick and refusing treatment.  What’s the good in that?  Where’s the freedom?  Where’s the social justice?