Reflecting on 2014: Life

balanceIs it just me or does it seem as if 2014 has rushed by? Maybe time passes slower in my mind, but it seems as if it was the beginning of summer a few days ago and now it’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve all at once. They say time flies when you’re having fun but it also flies when all you’re focused on is work. For me, 2014 was about progress. Whatever I did or attempted was meant to push myself and my goals forward. This intention paid off at work, and even on this blog, but not so much in my personal life.

I had neglected my personal life. Sure, there were some fun moments with family and friends but my overall attempt at improving my personal life was a 4 on a 10-point scale. The reason for this is that I, like many others, believe that improvements at work will better all aspects of one’s life. If you have a good job, then life must be great.

But that’s not true. A good job doesn’t lead to a great life despite all the comforts it can provide. I was focused on my job because I want to advance my career and work enough to rid myself of my student loans. I was laser focused on this. But I think such a focus was a tad unhealthy. Such focus helped, though. It got me kudos at work for my great work ethic, which led to a promotion; and it helped me shave off a bit of debt and learn how to better manage my finances. But other than those, I haven’t progressed much, or even budged, in my personal life—living situation, relationships, health, and all the other stuff.

I didn’t realize this, though, because I wasn’t paying attention. Improvements in one area led me to falsely believe that all areas were also being improved. And it’s not surprising, really, that I thought so since the positives at work and in my finances made me happier and more confident. Though I am proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished in 2014, it’s time for me to work on improving my personal life. I’m shooting for a well-balanced life, if such a thing is possible. So for 2015 I plan to continue with the progress made in 2014 so I can acquire a more balanced life by 2016. I guess the word for 2015 will be Improve since I use it quite a lot in this post.

So here’s to a great 2015.

Cheers! Have a wonderful New Year.

Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas to All!!

Christmas, my favorite holiday, has rolled around again. I am late with my well wishes but I do hope that everyone had a wonderful and magical Christmas day filled with lots of joy, laughter, and love.

This year I’m highlighting the holiday with this awesome piece by Alexander Jansson, a Swedish illustrator. I’m in love with his work, which is often whimsical and surrealistic. The one above is a mixed-media illustration called “Doctor Blumenauer and His Magical Flying Table.”

I selected this one not for its relation to the holiday but for the story it seems to tell. All the characters are in awe as they watch Doctor Blumenauer’s table fly into air. They all believe it’s a real magic table but there’s a guy in the shadows behind Doctor Blumenauer’s caravan with a control, programming the table. The illustration makes me wonder at Doctor Blumenauer’s back story. He’s obviously a charlatan here but how did he get started and was he chased out of the last town he visited? What are his Christmas plans? Will he spend it alone? And is that his assistant in the shadows?

My mind is already jumping to conclusions, forming a story about Doctor Blumenauer. I hope the illustration tickles your imagination too.

Here’s to a Happy Holiday.

Merry Christmas!

“The Black Cauldron” by Lloyd Alexander

I don’t like the covers for this book. I think this one is best though it doesn’t fit the story. Eilonwy wasn’t the protagonist or figured prominently in this one.

Taran’s adventures continue in The Black Cauldron, the second installment of Lloyd Alexander’s the Chronicles of Prydain series. In The Book of Three, first of the series, we learn of Arawn’s fearsome, undead warriors—the cauldron-born—that are brewed from the belly of his huge, black cauldron. Now, in The Black Cauldron it is up to Taran and friends, along with some new companions, to destroy the cauldron and prevent Arawn from growing his army.

Quick summary:

It’s hard to tell how much time has transpired between the events in the first novel and the beginning of this one but I assume it is a few months. After returning to their respective abodes (Eilonwy and Gurgi remained at Caer Dallben with Taran), they are rounded up by Prince Gwydion to embark on a quest to steal and destroy the black cauldron. Along with Taran and his friends, Gwydion calls upon various warriors and kings from across the land to congregate at Caer Dallben for a council before embarking on the quest.

They travel to Annuvin, Arawn’s lair in the north, where they believe the cauldron is housed. Taran makes some new friends on the journey such as the poetic Adaon, who is both a warrior and a bard, while gaining the ire of others, specifically Ellidyr, a lowly prince from a small kingdom. While Doli and Fflewddur accompany Gwydion and his company in infiltrating Annuvin, Taran remains without the fortress with Adaon and Ellidyr, serving as rear guard. The plan goes smoothly except there is no cauldron steal. Plus, Eilonwy and Gurgi, who were both left behind at Caer Dallben, pop up unexpectedly and the groups—both front and rear guards—are attacked by Arawn’s ferocious Huntsmen. It’s an unfortunate situation but with Adaon and Doli’s help, Taran and his party are able to escape the Huntsmen and seek refuge at a Fair Folk waypost. They had to part from Gwydion’s party while escaping the Huntsmen.

Continue reading ““The Black Cauldron” by Lloyd Alexander”

Book News: Film Adaptation of Stephen King’s “It”

I am excited to learn that Stephen King’s horror novel It will be adapted for film. The plan is to split the book into two movies. Cary Fukunaga, an American film director known for the True Detective series, will direct the first movie. The producer for the film is Dan Lin.

It is a story of a group of kids who are terrorized by a wise-cracking, demon-possessed clown. I am glad that someone decided to take on this project. The 1990 miniseries based on It was scary when I was a kid but watching it now, I find it laughable. I know the planned project will be much better but I hope they do it justice. I have yet to read the novel but I’ll get to it before this film is ready for theaters.

Vulture has more on the announcement.

“The Blood of Olympus” by Rick Riordan

This is the UK cover, which I like best. The heroes look like they mean business and Gaea is just lurking underground, waiting for their blood to spill. I also like that she takes up most of the cover.
This is the UK cover, which I like best. The heroes look like they mean business and Gaea is lurking underground, waiting for their blood to spill. I also like that she takes up most of the cover.

The long-awaited final installment of the Heroes of Olympus series was released on October 7th, 2014. I wasted no time in getting it. As soon as I was finished with TIME magazine’s issue on great empires, I grabbed The Blood of Olympus to read and boy was it worth it!

So we’re done with the House of Hades and the Doors of Death. The heroes are plagued by nightmares and monsters, as always, and now they have other worries: getting the Athena Parthenos back to Camp Half-Blood before Nico disappears into the shadows; avoiding Orion’s arrows; figuring out how to stop Gaea from waking and if/when she does, how to get rid of her; and defeating the giants gathered at the Parthenon. Our heroes have a lot on their plate, not to mention their constant anxiety over their companions’ safety as well as the preservation of their respective camps. We can’t help but wonder whether the heroes will accomplish all their tasks and save the world and whether they will need therapy after the events of this book.

As always with Riordan’s books, The Blood of Olympus is fast-paced; however, it has a more mellow moments throughout that the other books. The characters reflect on their actions and futures more and they are not as obsessed with their significant others. —Well, expect for Annabeth but we’ll excuse her since she went through hell with Percy.— I was glad to see that certain characters stepped up while others took a back seat. The most improved is Piper, who starts to kick some serious ass. She finds her strength, which is in her emotions and instincts, and she trusts in it to whip a giant’s butt while soothing Annabeth, who has an emotional breakdown. I think Piper is strongest in this installment. In the other books she is too focused on her relationship with Jason, which detracts from her strength and sense of purpose. Though she does care for Jason in this one, it does not consume her purpose.

Continue reading ““The Blood of Olympus” by Rick Riordan”

Alia Atkinson: First Jamaican and First Black Woman to Win a World Swimming Title

Woot! Woot! An amazing moment.

Repeating Islands

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Shanelle Weir writes that Alia Atkinson made history in Doha yesterday evening when she became the first black woman – and racer from Jamaica either gender – to win a world swimming title – and, she adds, “the moment came with a fourth line in the history books: in 1:02.36, she matched the world record of the woman she pipped, Ruta Meilutyte, Olympic and World l/c champion.” Atkinson credits her parents: “Growing up on the island of Jamaica, surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, my parents felt that not only was learning to swim important for keeping me safe from drowning, but that the ability to swim would also provide me a lifelong passport to a world of recreational pleasures and employment possibilities on a planet that is mostly made of water.”

Read excerpts here (see link below for full article):

The first black woman ever to hold a…

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Missing My October Groove

Daily Prompt: Winning Streak

What’s the longest stretch you’ve ever pulled off of posting daily to your blog? What did you learn about blogging through that achievement, and what made you break the streak?

It’s odd when things like this happens: when I happen upon something that relates to what’s going on in my life or how I currently feel. Today’s daily prompt is like that. I just posted on Facebook that I find it hard to write because all my thoughts suck and the motivation has disappeared. Much as I would like to write, everything I type seems wrong. So I hopped over to Daily Post for some inspiration.

Today’s prompt is fitting if I substitute “posting daily” for “writing daily.” From the end of September to the beginning of November, I wrote daily. Sometimes it was for my blog and other times it was personal. I was inspired, motivated, and on a creative high that I thought would never end. I was happy that I was caught up on discussing the books I read and that visits to my blog had perked up some and I had even gained a few new followers. Writing daily helped to make my thoughts clearer and strengthened my writing. I learned that though I thought I was a night writer, anytime of the day worked as long as I commit myself to the task. But my creative energy is usually higher in the mornings, shortly after waking up, or late at night. I also learned that once I am in that zone where I’m typing away heedless of what’s occurring around me, it doesn’t matter where I am working or how noisy the area is. Once I am committed to the task, I enter a vacuum where all that exists are my thoughts and the characters I tap on to the screen. I was happy with this process and I thought I had finally formed a writing habit that would remain but the constant writing lasted for a month and then stopped.

I wrote nothing for the month of November. At first I reasoned that I was just taking a break—that I’d OD’d on writing and I needed a breather. Then it was that I needed to finish reading my current books and then I would have something to discuss. Next came the usual excuse: “I’m too busy.” And then the cop-out: “I don’t feel motivated/inspired/creative/in-the-zone to write.” But those excuses were just a mask for the truth—I had broken a productive cycle and become lazy. I began by skipping one day, which led to two, then three, four, five, and so forth until a month had passed and I wrote nary a thing. I couldn’t even muster the motivation to discuss the books I read. But I hope December will be different. Starting with this post, my plan is to push myself to write every day until I get back my October groove.