Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy [[ Shhh…SPOILERS! ]]

•April 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The Hunger Games Trilogy BoxsetThe Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I will start by saying I came into reading The Hunger Games trilogy with the mistaken impression that Suzanne Collins was an undiscovered writer till this point, who possessed some spectacularly impressive raw power. This apparently could not be further from the truth, and I wish I could find what on Earth I read that implied as much. Collins is a TV writer and award-winning writer of children’s books–far from a stranger to the world of writing, which explains MUCH about how wildly popular this series became: She has skill. From the deep characterizations provided of main and even relatively minor characters to the rich portrayals of Panem and the arenas that completely immerse the reader in this dystopian world, she is able to captivate our attention from the start.

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Book Review: The Painted Table

•April 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The Painted Table: Honoring Mother--By Not Becoming HerThe Painted Table: Honoring Mother–By Not Becoming Her by Suzanne Field
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a very excellent book. There is a concept in Buddhism that our parents–and all their suffering, talent, etc.–are within us. Whether your father was a workaholic, alcoholic, or fun-loving guy, the seeds of those characteristics are also within you, and if watered and nurtured, will manifest. We cannot simply look at those aspects of our parents that we dislike or even resent and reject them–they are already a part of who we are. It is simply up to us to practice “selective watering”, and choose whether or not we want those things to manifest in our own lives.

The Painted Table follows a girl through her life with a mother whom she never understood and never could get close to for various reasons, and as she grew up, she tried to hide the reality of the situation. It wasn’t until someone very special entered her life to push her boundaries and comfort zone in an encouraging way that she began to accept her past and stop dreading that any similarity to her mother meant she was destined to become her.

The book is written from a Christian perspective, but studying Buddhism myself, the concepts struck home even more clearly. By trying to understand the past and view her mother with compassion, Saffee recognizes what a tortured soul her mother was, which allows her to heal and in some regards, bring peace to her mother as well.

I am quite sure that we all have “painted tables” in our lives, both our own demon(s) and the thing(s) that tortured our parents and have in some way affected us. The question after reading this book is what you will do about it. Do you keep closing the door so you don’t have to look at it? Do you slap on another coat of paint to try to pretty it up like ‘lipstick on a pig’? Or do you delve into it, one small step at a time, analyzing from every angle and asking questions until the puzzle unfolds itself?

This was such an enlightening book, touching, and a very easy, accessible read. I could have devoured it in a weekend if I had not paced myself, reading a chapter or two every morning after meditating. I encourage you to take your time reading it so you can fully absorb it, and when you look inside yourself to find the painted tables in your own life, be sure to look for the positive ones as well as the challenging ones. They may even be connected more closely than you realize.

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Coming Back to Myself

•April 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Good NIGHT it has been crazy-busy lately!  I just realized it’s been three-and-a-half WEEKS since my last post—yikes!  This is partly due to having started a separate unrelated blog, the Pup having hit the Troublesome Threes a few months early (stinkin’ little overachiever…), an ever-increasing workload (a good thing, with all of Alpha’s medical bills), and also—I’ve started writing again.

Ahhhhhhhhhh.

There is precious little else that makes me so happy.  A few weeks back, I was getting lots of crafting out of my system, and I felt bad because I had really, really, really intended to get some quality writing time penned into my schedule (schedule? what’s that?!), and it just wasn’t happening.  And if I don’t make it happen, then who’s going to, right?  But we had a new range, which beckoned me to try some new recipes and play Food Network Star.  Plus I discovered Pinterest, and started a small garden, and started/completed several (3? 4?) sewing projects, and—and—and—Just. Didn’t. Write.

So a couple of weeks ago, the muse just started beating me over the head.  This probably started during Monday-night meditation.  Once my monkey-mind is quieted down ever so slightly, the plot bunnies come out to play, and the rest of the half-hour sit simply has to be surrendered to thinking through a story.  Now I’m several chapters in with a good outline, fairly complete story arc, and even some ending or near-ending scenes that insisted on being written and may or may not get incorporated, but they wanted out, so I had to write them.

Somewhere in the last few months (after the resolution to write more for the pure and simple fact that it makes me happy), an old friend who is now a published author got in touch with me on Facebook, and I started following a blog she shares posts from on occasion–Kristen Lamb of Writer Warriors.  She shares so much good information and helpful tips, and one of these days, I am going to have to pick up her book [ We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media ] and jump on the #MyWANA bandwagon with Twitter or something.  Her most-recent post got me thinking about a number of things, even beyond my writing.  What hit home in particular was her suggestion to take that To-Do-List item that I am least looking forward to and tackle it FIRST, to build up my confidence and productivity.

And you know what?

It makes perfect sense.  In my work-work, once I get the real drudgery done, the rest is a breeze.  And in my writing, when I get to a point in the story that just feels awkward or like it’s just not going to come out quite right regardless, I have a tendency to stop writing and instead go and do research (not all bad, granted) or just go back and re-read and re-re-read what I’ve already written, and I still don’t make any progress until I just decide to screw it and write it how it comes out.  I usually make a little notation in the text to remind me that I anticipate what’s to come is going to be complete and utter drivel…but then I look back after I’ve written a few hundred more words and it’s actually working, and I take out that note and keep going.

I hope to get into making regular updates here…there are plenty of stories I could share from the Wolf Den lately, like how the Pup and I went outside and played in the rain for close to 90 minutes this afternoon. (FreePlayLife Week 11, I’m looking at you!)

In the meantime, I’m still drumming out my “Shitty First Draft” and hoping it ultimately manifests into something more publishable than my quadruple-crossover-fanfiction that garnered one [1] dedicated reader.

Springtime at the Den

•March 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It seems there is just so much going on lately–I’m actually surprised my head is still above water (not to mention all the rain and flood watch advisories, hah!).

The Pup spent all winter looking wistfully out the window at her climber/playhouse thing covered by a tarp to protect it from the elements and asking when she could play on the slide again. “When it’s warm,” we kept assuring her.  Then we had some 70-degree days in January/February, which was just insane, and we had no intention of going out to unearth the thing when there was still bound to be tons of snow on the way.

At one point, her uncle and cousin brought us some firewood and split most of it to season, so there were scraps of splintered wood and chunks of bark all over the backyard that Alpha and I really wanted to get cleaned up before letting her loose out there.  So one day last week, when it seemed Winter had simply given up the ghost, Continue reading ‘Springtime at the Den’

FreePlayLife update!

•February 29, 2012 • 2 Comments

I’m completely in love with this 52-week challenge going on over at FreePlayLife.  I was late to the game, so I’ve been catching up.  This is week 7 and so far I’ve got all but one challenge done:

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Keeping my own needs met {FreePlayLife Week1}

•February 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

So now I’m on to my official start of the FreePlayLife 52-Week Challenge.  Week 1 was learning to speak my needs and ask for what I want, and the recommendation was to use Pinterest—which I’ve quickly grown to love. =D  I have post-it notes all over the place, so this type of set up is soooo cool to me.

The day before I read about the FPL challenge, I had mentioned to Alpha that I thought I might be able to keep the kitchen (my absolute least favorite, yet always necessary chore) cleaner if he could help out, maybe even the Pup.  As she has lately begun happily offering to take dirty cups, mugs, snack bowls, etc. into the kitchen, I thought perhaps she might be willing to clear the table before going to play for a bit or watch some Nick Jr. before bed.  We haven’t gotten that far, just yet, but to helping with the dishes, Alpha readily agreed, and the very next evening after we finished a dinner that I had spent most of the day cooking and I just wanted to collapse on the couch for a little while, he put away leftovers and rinsed pots before the residual food got stuck on. <3  It made such a difference, and after putting the Pup to bed, I came back to the kitchen and found I had more than enough energy to load the dishwasher, scrub my pots, and clean the countertops—tasks he and I both know without speaking them that I should probably do myself.

So when I sat down to start pinning things to my “What I Want” board, the first was a sign that reads: I like hugs…I like kisses…but what I love is help with the dishes.

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Give me back that Filet O’Fish…give me that fish!

•February 22, 2012 • 1 Comment

So, whilst I work towards catching up on my 52 Weeks to a Free Play Life, my writer-brain is enjoying being active again and is faithfully providing me thoughts that I hope are blog-worthy.

Today marked the first day of the pre-Easter, Lenten season in the Catholic tradition, a tradition that I grew up in and spent the better almost-two-thirds of my life deeply immersed in.  Most of my friends from school would probably be stunned out of their minds if I were forward-enough on Facebook to “come out” as no longer a Catholic, because for several years, I was the girl who wanted to be a cloistered nun, and who–even after changing her mind about that misperceived vocational calling–knew trivia about the faith and catechism like the back of my hand.  I should have been on Jeopardy! Vatican Tournament.

Continue reading ‘Give me back that Filet O’Fish…give me that fish!’