Q&A DAY 1: What do I Hope to Gain from This Experience?

During this 30 Day Challenge, I will be answering a series of questions, personal and otherwise. In turn, I hope to only learn more about myself as an individual person. As a person today, I know I have many flaws and many of which make me who I am. However, they are still very detrimental to me and those around me.

What I may gain, on the other hand, I do not know. I may gain a lot, or I may not. At the end of this challenge I will reflect over the next 30 days and my responses to each question. Only then Will I be able to gain anything from the exercise.

I am hoping with the knowledge I gain from myself, I may be able to see my flaws and change any behaviors which are harmful to my well-being. Learning about myself will allow me to reflect and change those parts of me I do not like. This challenge will help me to grow and mature and become the person I am meant to become.

“To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.” ~Nicolaus Copernicus

Find more Quotes here: Brainy Quotes

Tomorrow’s Question: Q&A Day 2: How do You Deal With Criticism?

Stick around during this 30 Day Challenge and receive a link to the FREE PDF printable version.

Book Review: Game Over by Andrew Klavan

The MindWar Realm, created by computer hacking terrorist Kurodar, is a world void of all life where rotting living dead creatures roam and graveyards are full of terrible memories. Kurodar needed a place to find a way to get his vengeance. The only way to defeat Kurodar is to send Rick Dial, a high school athlete turned MindWarrior. With the help of his MindWar avatar friends, Favian and Mariel, in a battle of good versus evil, he must find within himself the faith in order to triumph over the beast.

Not your typical YA Fiction novel, Andrew Klavan captured my attention with vivid storytelling allowing me to become part of the world in which he created. Chapter after chapter, I found myself not being able to put it down due to the suspense and not knowing what might come of Rick and his friends. The overall’s message of the story is simple: Believing in yourself and never giving up will take you farther in life than any kind of hatred ever will. Even though this is part three of a trilogy, I didn’t need to read the first two books in order to still be able to read and understand the stories main plot points. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something a bit different than your typical YA Fiction novel.

(I received this book as advance copy from HarperCollins in exchange for a review)

Looking for this book? Find it by clicking on the link below.

(affiliate link) Game Over (The MindWar Trilogy)

Writing Prompts #3: Travel

We all have that one dream vacation, where we are free to leave our worries behind and just escape: The Caribbean, a foreign land somewhere in Europe, maybe even inside the U.S. Wherever the location, I’m sure visions of peaceful relaxation come to mind when you think of slipping away, preferably unnoticed. Whichever way you choose to spend your vacation, be sure to enjoy every minute of it.

When writing, I take a mental stay-cation. I take a minute to allow my mind to wander, mostly places like a jungle or other heavily secluded area. This helps me to relax so I can get back into the groove of whatever it is I may be working on at the time.

Need to take a quick break for a 10-minute breather? Here are some writing prompts to help you get focused and back to where you need to be.

  • DREAM VACATION: What is your dream vacation? What is the one place you have always wanted to visit? What do you like about this particular vacation spot? Do the native people speak another language? If so, do you plan to become fluent in this language? What else can you tell me about your dream vacation?
  • FAVORITE GETAWAY: What destinations have you traveled to so far? Which one was your favorite? Who did you take with you? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it? Would you go again?
  • HONEYMOON: Where was your honeymoon travel spot? If you haven’t had a honeymoon, where would you like to go? What kind of place is it? How long did you stay?
  • FAMILY HERITAGE: Where do you ancestors come from? Plan a vacation geared learning more about where you came from.
  • HUMANITARIANISM: Many third world countries are much less fortunate than those in more industrialized countries, i.e. the U.S. Plan a visit one of those countries and prepare to do some volunteer work. The natives in the area get to benefit from your help, and you get to feel good about yourself.
  • HAUNTED ATTRACTIONS: I admit; I’ve got a fascination when it comes to the paranormal stuff. TV shows like Ghost Hunter and Paranormal Sate tend to pique my interests. If you are anything like me, plan a road trip, stopping at any haunted attractions along the way. Or if you prefer things to be a little milder, the U.S. national parks are my second best choice.

What traveling have you done? Comment your stories below and be sure to share this with friends and family!

(Affiliate Link) Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration on Amazon.com

She Should Have Said No (Trigger Warning)

** TRIGGER WARNING! CONTAINS MATERIALS RELATED TO SEXUAL ABUSE AND RAPE. DISCRETION IS ADVISED.**

(This piece is based on true events.)

Thinking back, she remembered the time when she was 13 years old. Long days and even longer nights, that summer was a hard one. She filled her days with pain, anger and sadness. She had so many times imagined the day she would end him forever.

Late one night, she heard him calling her name. She slowly pulled back the covers and rested her feet on the cold, hard floor. She knew was about to happen and she braced herself as she went to see what he wanted. She always went to him as he did this often. As she stood in the doorway, she stopped only to realize too late she had made a mistake.

He lay naked on his bed and with a finger, beckoned her closer to where he was.

“You’re mine tonight, and you’re gonna give me what I want,” He breathed angrily. “And you ain’t getting away this time.” He pointed to the empty spot on the bed next to him. Rather than get punished, she did as she was demanded.

He grabbed her breasts and squeezed them too hard for her liking. She didn’t make any objection, but rather let him do as he pleased. It will all be over soon, she thought. He made no point to be gentle or slow about his movements tonight. He was going have her, and nothing was going to stop him. As she lay there motionless, his hands moved roughly and forcibly over her small body. His giant hands only made her look smaller.

She tried not resist and forced herself to slip away to her place. She didn’t realize he said her name and his hard slap brought her back to reality.

“I said get on top of me.” She obliged as she didn’t want to upset him again. Flashing back to the last time, she shuddered. Don’t think about last time. But the images were there. They ignored her pleading commands. Tears rolled down her face as he pushed himself inside of her and she painfully settled on top of him. He began rocking her back and forth, sliding up and down.

Again, she willed herself to slip away to her secret place; a place where he couldn’t hurt her anymore. A place where she felt safe. There was no safe place. He controlled her: mind, body and spirit. Inside her head, she screamed for him to stop; told him NO over and over again. She could’ve said no, but she didn’t.

Once more, she was thrown back to reality as he climaxed inside her, grunting as the last drops were left inside. He rolled her off of him as he moaned and grunted; a big man wasn’t as swift and limber as his leaner male counterparts.

As he slowly began to relax and catch his breath, she rolled over and curled up, beginning to weep; silently at first, then a bit louder. The connection of his fist to her face made her fall silent once more. On nights like this, it was better to be quiet. He liked the quiet.

“I went easy on you tonight.” He reached down and touched her, running his fingers over her wetness. “It could’ve been worse. Now be a good girl and go back to your room.”

As she lay in her own bed, tears streamed down her face for hours. Her last thoughts before finally tiring herself to sleep:

I should’ve said no, but no wasn’t a word men like him understood. They never understood; they only take what is not theirs.

Being an Introvert in a House with Four Kids

Life with four kids is both a blessing and a curse. It certainly has its good and bad days. Some days I watch them and I can’t help but know that I am blessed to have them in my life. Then there are those days where I just want to rip my hair out and scream; throw a childish rage because I don’t get my way. It’s selfish, really. Yesterday, was one of those days. After snow 2 days in a row following a weekend, I was definitely ready for some much needed me time.

It’s a Catch-22 at times. When they are here I want to be alone, but when they are gone, all I want is for them to be home. After they leave for school and I have the whole house to myself, I find myself getting bored without them here. The house is quiet and uneventful; there is never a dull moment when they are around.

As an introvert, having me time is the only way to keep my sanity. Me time comes when my four kids are at school for the day. I make an effort to squeeze it in when I can. I have to have some me time or I lose it. I end up fighting with my boyfriend over small trivial things; I’m yelling at the kids. It makes me feel terrible and guilty when I get that way. My whole family ends up avoiding me for a couple of days afterwards. I begin to hate myself. It’s not a pretty sight I tell you. Not pretty at all. I love these kids, but having four of them can be too much.

Being an introvert in a house with four kids is definitely not easy. It most certainly has its challenges; it also has its rewards. I’ve been through a lot and dealt with some big challenges along the way, but this family has been my biggest challenge so far. Sometimes I need to slow down and remember there is a reason I was blessed with this family and these kids. I wasn’t given anything that I can’t handle.

I often claim these kids as if they were my own, but they are not mine biologically. I get compliments from others all the time that I’m brave and [I deserve an award], but all I’m doing is just loving these kids the way they need to be loved and just being there for them. They need someone who will always be there no matter what. They need me.

As crazy and chaotic a day in this family can get, I will always be there for them. I may not have been there when they were born, but I’m not going anywhere. Like any family, it has its own good days and its bad days. I think to myself what would my life be like if I wasn’t here. Then I realize there is nowhere I would rather be. Everything is just the way it is supposed to be; I am exactly where I need to be. These need me and I need these kids.

Writing Prompts #2: Music

Music is everywhere. It is the wind in the trees; it is someone’s laughter; it is the tiny footsteps of a small child padding down the hallway on a stormy night. Genres range from classical pieces to (terrible!) pop songs on the radio while carpooling the kids to after school activities. For most people, including myself, music is the breath of life. Music is my biggest motivator; I usually like to put on a few of my favorite tracks and clean the house or cook dinner. Music is also great for when I’m sitting down to write. It helps when I am able to tune everything else out and feel like I really accomplished something that day. When I am feeling low on creative juices for the day, it is great for much needed inspiration. As I am writing, it can transport me to different out-of-this-world dimensions where there are no boundaries and nothing exists but me and my words. Are the words just not coming out for you today? Put on some music and give it a go! Here is a list of music writing prompts to get you started.

  • FAVORITE SONGS/ARTISTS: What are your favorite songs? What makes them special? Who performed those songs? Are they an up-tempo or down-tempo? Easy listening or hard and heavy? Do they remind you of a specific time or person in your life?
  • WRITE TO MUSIC: Put on a favorite album and forget everything else going on around you. Don’t think about anything; just feel. Move with the music and try to feel what the performer is trying to convey in the words.
  • WRITE SONG LYRICS: Contrary to popular belief, song writing isn’t as hard as it sounds (except when trying to put it to music). Is there an instrumental song that is a particular favorite of yours? Try to write lyrics to it. Still lost? Follow these steps to writing that perfect son.
  • FAVORITE LYRICS: Have you ever heard lyrics in a song, then tried to decipher their meanings? If you haven’t, then now is a great time to do just that. Pick a song that has meaning to you and write about what you think the lyrics mean. Don’t know the words to your favorite son? Find them on AZ Lyrics.
  • FAVORITE GENRE: What type of music do you normally like to listen to? Are you an all over the board kind of person, like me? Or do you prefer to stick to only one or two kinds of music? What are your go-to genres?
  • WORST GENRE: Time flip this around now and describe your worst genre of music. What type of music, when heard, makes you cringe and grit your teeth? What type of music just grinds your gears? Feel free to rant on this one.

In what ways does music help you feel inspired? Leave your comments below and let me know!

(Affiliate link) 365 Journal Writing Ideas on Amazon Kindle app.

Po’ Man Beef Stew

1 1/2 Lbs. Ground beef or Ground turkey

1/2 Yellow onion

2 Tbsp butter or margarine

1 Can Diced tomatoes, drain well and set juice aside

1 Can Diced potatoes, drained

1 Can Diced carrots, drained

2 C Water

2 Beef bouillon cubes or 2 C Beef broth (omit 2 C Water for broth)

1 Pkg brown gravy mix

1 Tsp black pepper

2 Tsp Season All

1/8 C Worcestershire sauce

1/4 C Ketchup

1/2 C Brown Sugar

Juice saved from can of tomatoes

In a large cooking pot, brown ground beef and drain well. Add beef back to pot along with the onions and butter, sauteing until onions are soft. Combine with tomatoes, potatoes and carrots; set aside.

In a small sauce pan, bring water to a boil with bouillon cubes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and stir in in brown gravy mix, whisking continually until well blended.  Add black pepper, Season All, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and tomato juice. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and add sauce mixture to beef and vegetable mix. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Remove from Heat and let cool. (Optional) Serve over white rice and enjoy!

Writing Prompts #1: Everything A to Z

As a writer, I find it hard sometimes to come up with the right words. In list writing you don’t have to because everything is short and sweet. No need for fancy-shmancy big words: Milk, check; bread, check; eggs, check. I’m a habitual list maker; and until something is in writing, everything just looks like jumbled chaos inside my head. If I take a trip to the store without a list, I know I’m in trouble. I end up coming home, only to go back later because I had forgotten something the first time. With four kids in tow, this is not an easy task. Lists save my time and sanity. They may not understand now, but my family will thank me later.

I like to get creative with my list writing, especially when I’m making something to go inside my art journal. One of my favorite types of lists are A to Z. They can be on a multitude of subjects and if you ever get bored, just make an A to Z list of lists. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • FAVORITE FOOD: What are you favorite foods? Favorite cuisines? you could also write down things you would like to try or recipes you have found. Another suggestion is an A to Z list of chefs; national and international.
  • A TO Z ROAD TRIP: By now most everyone has played the Licence Plate Game or has at least heard of it. In lieu of something that can become repetitive and maybe even monotonous, plan a road trip to with cities/towns that follow the alphabet. To make it more challenging start with Z. Even if you don’t go, it would still be fun to do research on each city and learn about different types of people. You never know, you may want to move to one of them one day. You may choose to make a European list as well.
  • MISSION STATEMENT: Write your life’s mission statement in ABC format. Where do you want to be when you look back and think of where it all started? Who do you want kids to grow up to be like? What are the backbones to your happiness? Well being? Sanity?
  • PLACES IN YOUR HOMETOWN: Where do you like to hang out? Where are you most likely to be seen or doing? Who are you with? Do you have secret places you like to sneak off to that no one else knows about?
  • WRITERS & ARTISTS: If you are a writer or artist, who do admire? What works are they known for? You can even write about multiple people and each one can have their own entry. They don’t have to be someone famous; could be someone close to you that you know personally.
  • N.A.M.E.S: Think of the people closest to you and try to come up with acronyms for their names, or even your own name. Write as many as you can think of; make them as weird as you possibly can. Share them or don’t share them. It’s up to you.

Can you come up with any more ways to write an A to Z list? Leave your comments below and be sure to share this with friends.

(Affiliate Link) JOURNAL: 365+ Writing prompts on the Kindle App

Simple Ways to Meet Your Goals

Happy (belated) New Year! Welcome to 2016.

Most of you by now are making resolutions and (hopefully) following through. Resolutions are a great way to bring needed change into your life. Transformation can be great, but only if you stick it out until the very end. The trick to making it work is simple; small realistic alterations to your life that help back up your objectives in order to achieve them.

For example, most people say they want to lose weight. Realistically, this can’t happen overnight so we make small changes to our diets and add some exercise to our routines. As dreadful as it may sound, being active and drinking plenty of water are the main things that help boost our metabolism.

Metabolism is the bodies break down of essential nutrients found in the foods we eat. These nutrients are then carried throughout our bodies and used as energy for our various activities throughout the day. Everyone’s metabolism is different. Some people have a very slow metabolism, some vice versa. Genetics can play a role in the efficiency of metabolism. Thanks to Bob Greene and his book Get with the Program (check the link at the bottom of this page)I could write a whole volume on how metabolism works and what we can do to lose weight. Metabolism is long process with many phases. The first step in metabolism is we must receive the nutrients; for most of us, it’s by eating. The food then goes to our stomach where acids help break down the food for the digestion process. During digestion, nutrients and minerals are carried from the intestines and to the blood stream where they are either discarded or transferred into sugars, fats or waste.

Just like how our bodies use metabolism as an energy source, our goals can be explained in somewhat the same manner. In order for us to change, we need to look and see what the different areas of our lives are and see where we need to balance ourselves. We select our goals according to how we want others to see us in the future. The objectives are then broken into smaller ones that be easily achieved. In order to make consistent change happen, we must continue to make small goals that can be accomplished through simple effort done each day.

What are your plans for 2016? What small things can you start doing today to make them achievable? I would love to hear what you have to say! Leave a comment and be sure to share this post with friends.

For Ordering Information on Get with the Program, be sure check out this link (affiliate):  Get with the Program!: Getting Real About Your Weight, Health, and Emotional Well-Being

Cornbread Muffins

INGREDIENTS:

1 Box Jiffy yellow cornbread mix

2/3 C. all purpose flour

1/3 C. Sugar

2 Tsp. Season All

1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper

2 Eggs (with box instructions)

1/3 C. Milk (with box instructions)

1/2 Can creamed corn

1/2 Yellow onion, finely diced (optional)

2-3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl:  Jiffy mix, flour, sugar, Season All, and black pepper. To this mixture add eggs, milk, onion and creamed corn.

BAKING:

For cornbread muffins,  grease 12-cup muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. For a 9×9 baking pan, grease baking pan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Using a microwave on high heat, melt the butter or margarine for 15 seconds or until soft and set aside. Once the cornbread is pulled from the oven, brush on melted butter or margarine. Let cool and enjoy!

Recipe yields approx. 12 servings.