Friday, April 8, 2011

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

"Alanna: The First Adventure" is book one in the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. In it we meet Alanna and her twin brother, neither of whom are satisfied with the traditional roles they are expected to fulfill. Fortunately (and sadly) their father doesn't pay much attention to them. So Alanna manages to take Thom's place to go and study to be a knight, and he is able to go work on becoming a sorcerer.

Alanna becomes Alan as she works her hardest to become a knight. I think I'm a sucker for stories like this, because while it's not an original concept, I still loved it! Alanna faces many challenges in her journey, especially because she is naturally the smallest and weakest among those in training because of her sex.

Thom may be the one studying to become a sorcerer, but Alanna also has magical ability, and her talent with healing is strong. This becomes vital when a sickness sweeps through the castle and the Prince's life is threatened! She shows her strength of personality as she manages to manipulate her way into the sick room where she does battle for his life.

While the battle for the prince's life is a significant one, it's by no means the only most major one she will fight in this book. No, at the side of the prince she is called to fight and even greater foe. One no one could imagine they'd have a chance against.

The writing in this book is a little simplistic and at a young reading level, but it's still a lot of fun to read. My elf-sister, who recommended the series to me, says that as the series goes along it becomes more "grown-up." I'm glad, because if this is the first adventure, I'm looking forward to seeing what else Alanna gets herself into!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Judas Strain by James Rollins

"The Judas Strain" is another fast-paced action-thriller from the series "Sigma Force" by James Rollins. The Sigma Force is a covert field arm of DARPA, and they work to either neutralize or safeguard new technologies all around the world. This gets them into lots of tight situations, and this time is no exception!

The story of the "Judas Strain" traces back to Marco Polo. He and his crew encountered something deadly that they were never willing to talk about, and now it looks like that something has been unleashed on the world. At Christmas Island there has been a massive wave of death, and the most frightening part is that it looks like it was released intentionally. This could be the most terrifying biological weapon yet!

All of our old friends are in this book, and the situations they face are extreme. Commander Gray Pierce wasn't even originally involved in the situation, until his old nemesis shows up at his door step offering to help, and his parents are kidnapped to stop the two of them. Monk and Lisa find themselves in the middle of the ocean with a diabolical mastermind who is intent on destruction. And we even see our old friend Monsignor Verona from the Vatican!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Turned Upside Down and Inside Out

Did you know it's National Poetry Month? I've been writing a lot more poetry this year, so I decided that I would see how many poems I can write this month! I probably won't post most of them on here, but I'll post some of what I think are the "better" one's. I started this one last month, but edited it, wrote the last first, and changed up some stuff today, so I'm counting it. It's about my brother's fight with cancer.

Turned Upside Down and Inside Out
By Ruthie Stickney, 2011

It used to be…
That the sun shined in the day,
And the moon ruled the night.
White was simply white,
And black was the darkest color of all.
I drank coffee in the mornings,
And slept in my bed at night.

But nowadays…
The sun has taken over the night,
And now the moon rules the day.
White’s been overcome by black,
And Black has become a rainbow.
I drink coffee all day long,
And sleep whenever I can.

The world used to…
Revolve around my needs and hurts,
Others came second not by choice,
But because I had not strength to care.
Nothing left after the doctors appointments,
And the medications I had to take.
Lost in a world of one, others need not apply.

But now my world…
Is still centered around doctor’s appointments,
But they are not my own anymore.
Chemotherapy, IV’s, and follow ups,
Ambulances, ER, and hospital rooms,
Even a few surgery’s thrown in,
Watching his pain and hurting along.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wow! I read a lot of books this month!

It's April 1st - and other than being April Fools - it's also time to share my book list for this last month! I was really sick this whole last month so I got a lot of reading done... Wayyyyy to much.

In case anyone wonders - yes - I'm massively behind on book reviews. It's a chronic problem because I always have way to many things I want to do! Right now I'm both behind on writing them and posting them. Honestly? I have a big file of them going back to March of last year - I need to get on top of posting them again huh? I also have about about 30 piled up by the book case to review. Aiy yi yi. I'm working on catching up - on both of them. I have some strategies planned for blogging more regularly - and the pressure of books needing to go back to the library should get be catching up on the writing of the reviews :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Revelations by Melissa de la Cruz

"Revelations" is the third book in the "Blue Bloods" series by Melissa de la Cruz. She has a rather unique take on vampires, and I've been having a lot of fun reading through the series! In these books vampires are immortal, and originally were angels. They do feed on human blood, but they have very strict rules about it, and many of New York's Social elites are actually Blue Bloods (so called because of the color of their blood).

The Blue Blood community is still reeling from the incontrovertible evidence that the Silver Bloods, their ancient enemies, are not just legends or myths and are back and killing. For Mimi, while this should be shaking her up (she was accused of being one in the last book), she's more upset over her twins infatuation with Schuyler.

Schyler, mean while, is in agony as she's torn between her love of Mimi's twin, Jack, and her love of her long time friend Oliver, who is also now her blood familiar. She's also extremely distressed because her Grandfather is off on a dangerous mission and not reporting in nearly often enough for her satisfaction.

Just like the rest of the series, this is a fast-paced, page-turning, vampire soap opera that will keep you hanging onto every word!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories

by Garth Nix

I absolutely loved the Abhorsen trilogy, so when I saw that there was another book linked to it; I started dancing in my computer chair! "Across the Wall: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories" is a compilation of short stories by Garth Nix. Some are more of the length of a novella, and some of them are only a couple of pages long. Only one of the stories is set in the world of the Abhorsen trilogy, but the rest made for interesting reading as well!

One thing I really liked about this book is that each story has an introduction to it where we get to hear from Garth Nix why the story was written, and some of his stories surrounding it. I guess I'm just a sucker for stories, because I like even the stories about stories!

"Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case," is the first story in this book and the one that's based in the world of the Abhorsen trilogy. I loved the fact that we got to find out more of what happened to Nick, because while he is redeemed at the end of the last book, we're left with no idea of where his life is going to go from there. The only thing that frustrated me about the story is he left me wanting even more as he hinted at a blooming romance...

There are twelve other stories in this book and they vary vastly in topic and style – which I liked. While there is a degree of his "flavor" to all of them, it's always fun to see an author who can apply his talents to a variety of subjects.

Many of these pieces (maybe all, I can't remember) have appeared before in different anthologies or other print mediums. One of them (Hansel's Eyes) I had actually read before! Two are based in Arthurian legend, one is based in Nix's homeland of Australia, and we even have a "choose your own adventure" type story in here! Readers of Nix new and old will love this anthology of his work.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

First let me say - sorry for the lack of reviews lately!
I hope to be bringing these to you on a regular basis again now :)

I've read the majority of Terry Pratchetts books, and as I do my read through by publication date, I'm enjoying coming across the ones that I've never read! "Pyramids" is one of those, and as my local library didn't have it, I had to do an Interlibrary Loan request for it!

"Pyramids" is the story of Teppic, a young man on the verge both of becoming an Assassin and a King. Both are rather respectable occupations, and in fact Teppic had been sent to Ankh-Morpork to train as Assassin precisely because it was a noble calling and one that promised to give him the best education.

In Ankh-Morpork crime is managed by the guilds for the most part. They've taken what used to be rather haphazard acts of thievery and murder, and elevated them to an art. This actually allows for a more orderly society than they had before, and I find the system rather fascinating. I rather enjoyed the first portion of the book where we learn about Teppic's early days at the school, and his eventual Assassins test.

Teppic does not get to stay merely an assassin though, the blood of Kings runs through his veins, and when his father dies, it's time for him to go home and rule the kingdom.

Djelibeybi is a small desert country. It's narrow and long, and its biggest distinctions are the pyramids that dot the landscape (and bankrupt the kingdom) and that its presence keeps its two neighbors from warring with each other. Teppic finds himself being manipulated by the high priest into creating the biggest pyramid ever in honor of his dead father. Although, if he could hear his dead father like we can, he'd realize that the last thing he wanted was a pyramid.

The only problem with this pyramid is that it's simply dangerous to build a pyramid that big. Oh not for the reasons you might expect, massive pieces of rock and dying slaves and all that, but because the pyramids actually channel time. So when this mighty pyramid is built, and not finished correctly, everything in the kingdom goes haywire. The kingdom itself disappears, the mummy's walk, and Teppic the Assassin King has to figure out how to fix it all.

Friday, March 11, 2011

February's Book List

I keep getting sick - sorry I haven't been around lately! I'm rather late on posting this but I wanted to get it up because I'm part of a book reading contest right now :)

Funny thing? Since I've been sick the last week or so - I've already read more books than last month :P And it's only the 11th! I'm at 11 books as of today and almost to 12 :)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

When my evil twin tells me I need to go read a book, I listen, and I always find myself falling in love with yet another book! "Night Watch" is no exception and I can hardly wait to read the rest of the series! Originally written in Russian, the entire series has been translated into English for us by Andrew Bromfield. We're very fortunate that he did, Russian is a difficult language to learn, and I would be sad if I had missed out on reading this book because of that!

"Night Watch" begins a dark saga that pits the classic good versus evil, but with a twist. In this world there are what they call the "Others," people who can operate in the Twilight of the world, and these others are divided into agents of the Light and agents of the Dark. The agents of the Light form the Night Watch and it is their charge to keep an eye on the agents of the Dark during the night and make sure they don't cross any boundaries.

Now you're probably nodding along and going, "uh huh, I don't see anything strange about that." Well, the part that might throw you is that the agents of the Dark form what's called the Day Watch and their job is to make sure, during the day light, that the agents of the Light don't overstep their boundaries.

"Wait a second," you're probably thinking, "how can the good guys overstep their bounds?" Well, it's actually rather easy when you find out that the agents of the light and the agents of the dark formed and agreement years ago to prevent themselves from killing the world with their wars. Now each is allowed a certain amount of activity, but everything must be kept in balance, every good act means an equal bad act is allowable and so forth.

For many on the watch this is all part of the job, and they go about it without too much thought. When a mid-level agent named Anton finds himself pulled into the struggles for power and the intrigues surrounding them, he also finds himself questioning how the entire system works and the very nature of good and evil themselves.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Life Get's Complicated

Have you ever noticed that? Life can be super complicated some times. Mine sure seems to have a bad habit of doing that! Anyone who knows me would probably agree.

Lately the reason I haven't been on here is that I've been a wee bit distracted. Ok. More than wee bit if you want me to be honest. I haven't posted about it because at first we didn't really know anything. Then, once we did, I've been too emotional to want to talk about it.

My brother, I tend to call him Psycho, has stage 4 cancer. T cell hystocite rich B cell lymphoma to be exact. Don't know what that is? Well of course you don't! It's a rather rare form. It's a variant on a form of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma's that accounts for 40% of that category, but this variant accounts for only 1-3% of that. So yah, pretty rare.

The good news is that it tends to react like the larger group that it's a part of, so the docs have a good idea of to treat it, and they are very hopeful for his chances.

The bad news is that it's spread into a lot of places in his upper body. Just in the last two weeks he's had two more lymph nodes that have enlarged in his neck and we can feel them and see one of them. Don't know about you, but that shakes me up a bit.

We've had quite the adventure so far, and that's how I'm trying to take this, as just another adventure. It took the doctors some time to identify exactly what was wrong, so we could start treating it. So we'd get to appointments and it would be, "Well we know some more, but...." They ended up operating on his neck to take out one of the lymph nodes and that gave us the final diagnosis.

So now the next step in the adventure is to treat this. Chemo starts tomorrow, and I know we're all kind of waiting to see how it affects him. I know, deep inside, that we're not going to lose him, but the road to the other side might be really rough. We'll find out!

I'm so proud of Gordon, he's been really strong through all of this, and his faith has inspired me! He's spent the last couple of years taking care of me while I was really sick, now it's my turn to do the same for him.

I'll try to keep you guys updated from time to time, and I'm going to be trying to post more book reviews again. I have a back log in my files like you wouldn't believe! And the back log to write up is pretty impressive right now too. Or depressing :P

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Books Read - January

I've been recording my books as I read them this last month. I thought it would be fun to actually have an  idea of how many books I've read, what they were, and what types of books. So here's the results for this month:

Just for the heck of it I made a pie chart. Why? Cuz I'm just that weird. Some books cross over into more than on category, like "How to speak Dragonese" is both Juvenile (JV) Fiction and Fantasy :)

I haven't figured out how to add the labels yet :P So the big purple section is fantasy - big surprise right? 14 books fall into that categories. The rose color is JV Fiction at 6. Scifi and YA are orange and light blue and they are both 2 books. The remaining 3 categories (Romance, Adventure, Dark Fantasy) account for the smallest sections at 1 book each.

And letting go of my type A personality now to go and craft LOL

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Despicable Me – Movie Review

There is a $3 movie theater in my town that shows movies that have been out for long enough that they are no longer in the regular movie theaters. It's a great way to see movies on the big screen! Yeah, you need to wait for awhile, but it's still better than DVD, and if you bring some snacks in your purse (popcorn is expensive!) you have a cheap date.

Ok, so my cheap date is usually my brother. My hubby and I have a very different taste in movies! Love him anyway. Fortunately my brother and I have similar likes, and we occasionally have "brother-sister" dates.

When I first saw the advertisement for "Despicable Me," I thought it looked pretty funny. I love anything that takes your normal stereotypes and twists them, and the thought of a bad guy who has a soft heart? Priceless!

The movie was just as good, and better, than I had expected.

The basic concept is you have this bad guy, Gru, who wants to make a name for himself. He always has the nagging voice of his mother in the back of his head, telling him he's not good enough, and he's tried for a long time to prove her wrong. Things keep going wrong, but this time he's convinced he's got a fool proof plan, and he's going to steal the moon!

To steal the moon he needs a shrink-ray, which he steals, and is then stolen from him. His nemesis has the shrink ray and he can't find a way into his fortress/home, until he sees the orphan's that is. There are three adorable orphans selling cookies and those are apparently his nemesis' weakness.

Gru comes up with a truly evil plan that involves adopting the three little orphans. That's where everything goes wrong.

I can't really blame him for losing his heart to these orphans. They are truly adorable! Agnes, the littlest, is my favorite. She's so cute! I would adopt her and take her home any day.

I'll let you watch the movie to find out exactly what Gru's plan is, and how it all goes down. I really recommend watching it! I laughed hysterically the whole way through! In fact – insert embarrassed grin here – I laughed harder and louder than the little kids. Then again…so did my brother!

One thing that amazed me was that Gru is played by Steve Carrell. I don't usually like his acting, too crass, but he did an incredible job playing Gru! I didn't recognize his voice at all and his accent was great!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I'll have to admit that I was a little nervous when I went to see "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," last weekend with one of my best friends and family, and for more than one reason! The first was just that I've been reading the Narnia books for years, and I was worried about how they'd do on the portrayal. The second? Well…have you ever tried to go to the movies with an almost 3yr old and two 9 month-olds? It's challenging! Fortunately we had 5 adults for the three kids, and we managed to juggle them, and the popcorn, and still enjoy the movie. They went from a handful to peaceful when the little girl went to sleep and the twins discovered a new found love of straws!

The movie itself was a lot of fun. They did get some details wrong, but fortunately I don't have a great memory for details, and it has been a few years since I read the books! They did get quite a few things right though, and that more than made up for the things that bugged me!

May I also say that Prince Caspian is delicious? Good, because he is.

I think one of the things they did a great job with was portraying Eustace. He was an annoying little twerp just like he was supposed to be, but they managed to make you laugh as well as wanting to punch him in the nose! It was a great balance. I'm convinced they did something to his eyebrows to make him more absurd, but I'm not sure how they did it.

All in all it was a great movie. Wonderful visuals, plenty to laugh at, and safe for the whole family, although I really don't recommend taking 9 month olds to the movies, we got lucky! Now I need to go back and watch Prince Caspian. For some reason I never saw it and now that I know how scrumptious he looks…

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Leaping Beauty: and Other Animal Fairy Tales by Gregory Maguire

"Leaping Beauty" is the perfect book for anybody who loves fairy tales, and loves to read re-workings of some of the classic tales. In "Leaping Beauty" Maguire has given us 8 tales that will be both hauntingly familiar, and hysterically different. Perfect for adults, or children, or for reading with your children.

In "Leaping Beauty," we meet a royal family whose beautiful baby girl frog has been cursed by an angry hornet. Desperate to save their baby girl from her terrible fate, the royal parents go from person to person trying to get the curse changed. Each one is able to change it just a little, and in the end girl becomes a Leaping Beauty - and a famous ballerina!

"Goldiefox and the Three Chickens" retells the classic story of "Goldielocks and the Three Bears" with more than one twist. Not only are the characters just a little different, the ending will surprise and delight you!

"Hamster and Gerbil" was one of my favorites in this book. I've always loved the story of "Hansel and Gretle" and used to play act it with my cousins or brothers. In this version we have a mixed race (different animals) family with, of course, a wicked stepmother! Who just happens to be a skunk, what a perfect animal for a villan don't you think? How they get away from the evil Granny Porky (a porcupine) and get revenge on their Step Mother will keep you on the edge of your seat!

If you want to laugh, you might want to go directly to "So What and the Seven Giraffes." All the stories in this book are funny, but I think this one is the most absurd and the one that kept me laughing the hardest! First of all, who would name their child "So What?" That alone generates plenty of opportunities for fun! You'll have to read the story to find out the rest of it.

"Little Red Robin Hood" tells the old story from the perspective of a robin instead of a little girl. In many ways I think this one sticks closer to the traditional story than some of the other stories in this book, but it's still quite exciting, and well written.

Who doesn't love the story of the "Three Little Pigs?" I know I personally have heard the story dozens of times, with a dozen variations, and I've told the story quite a few times myself. In "The Three Little Penguins and the Big Bad Walrus" we have the classic tale, told with different animals, and slightly different materials. I loved it!

Poor Cinderella had it bad enough with her wicked step-sisters, but "Cinder-Elephant" has it even worse with her step-sisters (Mildew and Mayhem) since she is an elephant and they are normal humans. This gives them even more ammunition than the original step-sisters had! Just wait though until you find out what twist on the glass slippers Maguire puts in, and see how it all works out!

"Rumplesnakeskin" is the story of a vain sheep who gets caught up in the world of movies and all the dangerous traps that you find there. She finds help from a snake, but of course he has his own motives just like the Rumplestiltskin of old. This story also demonstrates how easily modesty can be given up when someone is dazzled by the glamour of fame and becomes desperate not to lose it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Abhorsen by Garth Nix

"Abhorsen" is the final book in the trilogy about the Old Kingdom by Garth Nix. There is one more book about the Old Kingdom, but it's a collection of shorter stories, and so it stands slightly separate from the first three books. I haven't read it yet (whereas this was my second time through the trilogy) and I really look forward to getting it from the library!

In Abhorsen we rejoin Lireal and Sam basically in the middle of the conflict. Ok, so they are actually at moment of reprieve when we rejoin them, but the previous book (Lirael) and this one could be read together pretty seamlessly.

Lirael is the newly discovered Abhorsen-in-waiting. That means that it's her duty to learn all she can and assist in making sure the dead stay where they belong, in the realm of the dead. She is also a Remembrencer, the first in a long, long time. As such she can go into death and view the past. That's how she discovered the truth about her parentage, and how she will learn the only way to stop the coming terror.

Sam, the Disreputable Dog, and Mogget are traveling with Lirael and doing everything they can to help. King Touchstone and the Abhorsen are over the wall in Ancielsterre, but they too will help when they can. The final confrontation is drawing near. We learn more about what it is Nick has been helping to uncover, and the truth is more horrible than any of them had imagined.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Poem: Not About Sunshine and Flowers

Not About Sunshine and Flowers

“Write a poem” my hubby said,
“Why are all your poem’s sad?”
He asked, and then said,
“Write a poem that’s happy.”

“I’ll write a poem that’s happy,
A poem about sunshine and flowers,”
I told him, thinking that those,
Those are happy images.

“Don’t write about those,” 
He told me, “Not about sunshine,
Not about flowers, not these,
That is not happiness.”

So I’ll write a poem that is happy,
But not about sunshine,
And not about flowers,
Definitely not these.

Sunshine makes me think,
Think of good times,
And warm feelings, but…
This is not about sunshine.

Flowers are symbols,
Symbols of love and joy,
And close relationships,
But this is not about flowers.

Happiness, this is about that,
Not about sunshine and flowers.

Happiness is about much more,
Happiness is waking up,
Curled up in warm blankets,
And knowing that the sun has risen.

Happiness is about many things,
The birds of the air and the bees,
The bees that buzz and fly,
And where they find their nectar.

Happiness is about the simple things,
So yes, happiness is about sunshine,
And happiness is about flowers too,
But this is not a poem about those.

Fairies and the Quest for Never Land by Gail Carson Levine

In "Fairies and the Quest for Never Land" we get to revisit Never Land and our fairy friends that Levine has introduced to us in "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg" and "Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand." This is also her most recent book.

In "Fairies" we meet Gwendolyn. She is the great-granddaughter of the original Wendy, and she longs to meet both Peter, and the fairies of Never Land. Her family has kept the original house in the family, and every so often Peter has come back to collect one of the girls in the family to come back and clean for and mother the Lost Boys. While the girls recognize that times are more progressive now, and the boys really could clean for themselves, they love the few visits they each get to the island, so they never complain.

Gwendolyn is different in that she is the only one who's ever shown such a fascination in the fairies of Never Land. She makes her mother tell the tales that have been handed down over and over, and focuses on the fairies. The illustrations in the book show she's also drawn pictures of them to put on her walls.

Her fascination is fueled when the "kiss" that Peter gave Wendy is handed down to her, and she begins to have dreams/visions of Neverland. The dreams/visions jump all over the place and often show different things, but she's able to piece together a lot about life on Neverland, and for the fairies in particular, from them. Because of this her ache for Peter to come and collect her grows stronger and stronger.

Then, one day, Peter finally comes, and all her dreams come true! She even gets to meet the fairies. Then she meets Mother Dove, receives a stern warning to "Beware," and has a dream/vision that show's her that the great dragon Kyto is being freed. She does everything she can to help the fairies first prepare and then fight, but sometimes in her great worry she forgets to "Beware" and causes more trouble than help. It's a sweet and heartwarming story, and I'll let you read it to find out how the final battle turns out!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse by James Luceno

"Jedi Eclipse" continues not only the saga of "The New Jedi Order," it also is the sequel to "Hero's Trial." In "Hero's Trial" a large portion of the drama was centered on Han Solo who is grieving his best friend Chewbacca. He finally started to move forward from his drunken stupor, but his gallivanting around the galaxy doesn't exactly put Leia's heart at rest.

In "Jedi Eclipse" Han is still in the middle of galactic drama as he helps his new friend Droma search for his clansmen. This puts the two of them right in the middle of the battles with the Yuuzhan Vong, something Leia doesn't discover until later, but of course Han's legendary luck kicks in time and again. They will be lead on a merry chase before they find Droma's clansmen though.

Leia meanwhile is visiting Hapes in an attempt to gain their support in the war with the Yuuzhan Vong. It's a difficult time for her emotionally as she's missing Han and worried about him, and visiting her former suitor does NOT help her emotions calm any. Especially when she starts having visions of disaster.

The Yuuzhan Vong are manipulating a new alliance with the Hutts, using them to provide the New Republic with carefully planned intelligence. The Hutts don't realize they are being manipulated though, and they genuinely (for once) are trying to help. Of course this leaves the New Republic trying to decipher the Hutts motives versus the Yuuzhan Vong's motives, and it's a sticky political morass!

And we can't forget about the young Solo's in all of this! Jaina doesn't really make an appearance in this book, but Jacen and Anikan are sent to Centerpoint Station where their basic differences in beliefs on how the force should be used are brought to the fore. This bit of the book also really interested me because it alludes to a story arch that I haven't read, and that sounds really interesting! Ah well, one story arch at a time!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Poem: Left Alone

Author's Note: This poem is not about me, or my relationship with anyone. I honestly don't know where this poem came from except I wrote the first two lines when I had a headache and I was hungry. The third line seemed to tack itself on, which confused me, and I stayed that way as the rest of the poem was written :P However, I do like the results! 

Left Alone

My head pounds like drunken dwarves are mining inside,
My stomach has a hole a mile wide, and growing.
Why did you leave?

I am lost, trapped in a labyrinth of your own special design,
Confused as a squirrel on crack looking for its nuts,
Why did you leave?

We were lovers of life, chocolate, and each other,
We were irreparably connected in soul,
How did you leave?

We never dreamed of adventure except we’d face it together,
All demons vanquished by a team of two intertwined,
Where did you go?

We swam in the lake in the snow, warming each other later,
We swapped stories, recipes, and our gum,
Who am I alone?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Years! What are YOUR Plans?

That picture is my dear hubby from last night at our New Years Party! No - don't get excited - we don't have a kid :P That's one of my "nephews" (ie, heart-adopted).

So its the New Year and everyone's making resolutions. Ironically, I'm usually not too big on New Year's resolutions because I'm sooo good at breaking them! This year though, it just happens to coincide with my health greatly improving so I'm making myself goals anyway.

One note about goals: I firmly believe that goals should be a year long process, and something that you frequently sit back and review. Why? Well life changes. I have no way of knowing today what things may happen to rock my world six months from now, or even tomorrow, and neither do you. If you don't give yourself the freedom to revise your goals periodically then you'll find yourself with goals that are now unattainable. Instead, you should set goals now, and plan on reviewing them as often as necessary. Maybe you'll be able to get through the entire year and keep every single one (or even just one!) but more often people tend to find that goals need to be adjusted, or restarted, or scrapped all together for a variety of reasons.

One good way to set goals is to follow the S.M.A.R.T method. I learned this years ago while in management and it's made a big difference in my life. So I'll share it with you!

S = Specific. Don't write down general goals like "lose weight," put down specifics such as "lose 5lbs a month."
M = Measurable. This is one way to make your goals specific. I.e. "Read 20 books this year." "Exercise 3 times a week. This can also include how you are going to keep yourself accountable. "Keep a list of the books I read." "Make an exercise calender."
A = Attainable. It might not be realistic to expect to climb Mt Everest this year (unless your already in condition for it!) but you might be able to take walks around your neighborhood, or plan on going on hikes in your area. And hey, if you plan it out, you might just be able to tackle a big peak before the end of the year! Just make sure you plan to work up to your big goals, don't just jump at them and expect to succeed. Have a plan.
R = Realistic. What's really realistic? I know myself and swearing off chocolate would NOT be realistic. However, promising to eat small portions of desert, and one piece of chocolate at a time (instead of a bag) is something that I can mentally handle.
T = Timely. This portion is one of the reasons I say that is important to revisit your goals. Timely is the concept of putting a time frame on your goals. "I want to lose 15lbs." Well when do you want to lose them by? Eventually? 3 months from now? Setting goals that are time bound also allows you to tackle a bigger goal in smaller chunks. Let's say your goal is to read 24 books this year. You can break that down and say, "Read 2 books a month." Now you know what you need to accomplish now, and not just within the next year.

So what does this look like put together? One of my goals this year is to take a photo a day. I'm calling it my photo 365 challenge. In fact, I started it at Christmas and the photo above is actually Day 8's photo! How does this fit in with SMART?

Specific - What am I doing? Taking a photo a day (minimum).
Measurable - 1 photo, per day. Posted on facebook, and every 30 pictures in a slide show on this blog, so I'm reporting on what I'm doing.
Attainable - if I carry my camera with me and focus on what activities in my life could have photo opportunities, then this is attainable. Hey, I even took a shot of my alarm clock one day when I remembered to take a photo at the last minute! The point is the picture :)

Realistic - I like taking pictures :)
Timely - This is a daily event for me, so it's certainly timely!

I have other goals and I'll post them later to share, but for now, what are some of your goals? Are there ways you can use SMART to improve them?