One Lovely Blog Award – Bookish: Award

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Thank you so much to JD over at Studious Creatives for nominating me. I absolutely love her blog. You must go check it out! It is a wonderful inspiration for creativity of all types by a fellow book lover. I cannot praise her blog enough! I loved how open-ended this was. It was fun to write this post!

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog
  2. Share 7 things about yourself
  3. Nominate others (up to 15)
  4. Include this set of rules
  5. Inform your nominees

Seven things about me:

1. Family

I have a sister and the most adorable nephew ever! I feel incredibly blessed to be such a huge part of his life and I absolutely love being an aunt! I could talk about him all day. He is my light. I love him to pieces!

2. Loves

I LOVE fireworks. I have a lifetime goal of traveling to see some of the world’s best fireworks displays. I feel blessed to have seen firework displays in DC and NYC, including from a building overlooking the White House. I hope to add many more amazing experiences to my list one day!

3. Hobby

I picked up crochet not quite two years ago now, though I didn’t really get into it until summer 2016 when I took my first crochet class and then immediately a second one. I picked this hobby really quick and I’ve been really happy with the quality of most of my projects. It’s a goal of mine to sell a few crochet things on Etsy at some point. I also have a new goal of crocheting literary things and when I do, I will post them on this blog!

4. Digs

I live in a semi-rural area on a decent amount of property in a duplex. I specifically choose this location because it is close to things I need access to, like my library and Target, but it is not in town. There are no street lights, curb, sewer, or gutter. But there is a lot of quiet and nature. In fact, there is a cute little pond incredibly close to my house and I love walking around it with Nica. Nica LOVES grass so has been in heaven here!

4. Other loves

I love the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and not only have a life goal of seeing all of his houses which are open to the public, but also to build many of his houses out of Legos. I feel at peace in his houses. I will give an awful lot to live in one of his houses. They bring more joy than I can possibly explain. I mean, after all, they are just houses. Even his commercial buildings are amazing!

5. And still more loves

I love Legos and a few years ago, decided to throw caution to the wind and embrace my love of Legos. I’ve taken on their more adult sets with incredible joy. I wish I could afford more Lego sets as I absolutely love building them! Their newer architecture line is also really great because it combines my love of Legos with Frank Lloyd Wright!

6. Favorites

My favorite color is purple, ya know, the color of royalty. 😉 Purple flowers are also pretty great. The ones on the right grow wild in my lawn, until they get mowed over, which always makes me sad!

7. Pets

My first pet as an adult was a bunny named Logan. Do you know the rabbit from Monty Python The Holy Grail? That rabbit was based off Logan. He was the most assertive bunny I have ever met. He dominated Nica and asserted his space. Nica usually ran away from him in terror. It was an interesting dynamic. Logan was also a very clever bunny and had a tendency to break out of his home in the middle of the night as a baby. But then he grew up into a grumpy old man and mostly just sat as a big lump of fur. He passed away a few years ago from kidney failure. I still miss him.

8. Bonus: one thing about Nica

Nica has lived in more states than me by 2! She was born in Alabama where her mom (purebred Corgi) was a stray after Hurricane Katrina and she was transported to a rescue in New Jersey where she lived until I adopted her. When I lived in New York, I used to joke that I rescued her from a life in Jersey! Haha.

The Nominees

I wish I could tag everyone, but alas, I cannot. Nearly every blog deserves this award and it’s so fun to do! I’m sorry if I wasn’t able to tag you. This is the worst part about tags and awards. :/

Dani at Mousai Books
Abby and Erica at You Otter Read
Anthony at Keep Reading Forward
Elin at Book Owlie
Jill at Jill Jemmett
Kayla at K Drew The Book Worm

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Nica: Napping and Reading – Bookish: Life

IMG_20170913_135311Since Nica had her surgery, she has been sleeping a lot. It’s this heavy, deep sleep, where I can tell she has drifted off to a wonderful dream land. In these moments, I simply do not want to wake her. I try not to get up. When I do have to get up, I tip toe as quietly as possible to help ensure she does not wake. But other times, I am content to watch her over the top of my current read. While she naps, I read and it’s glorious for both of us.

It’s interesting that since her diagnosis of bile duct cancer, I find myself more and more simply sitting and watching her. Whether she is napping or licking her paws or simply relaxing, I find so much beauty in these everyday things. In fact, the beauty is often overwhelming and I simply want to smother her with all the love. But I also want to preserve that moment, watch her, and take it for what it is. That’s what I’ve been doing and it’s brought me a lot of comfort and peace.

IMG_20170913_143615My favorite napping and reading activity is outside. While outside, she doesn’t fall into that deep sleep, she does stretch out with a big smile on her face. She loves the outdoors, especially grass. As I write this post, she is happily panting in the sun. But usually, I am reading while she enjoys the day. Nearly every day since she’s been well enough, we come out to the backyard for some period of time and she enjoys the sun and grass and smells while I enjoy a good book and breaks admiring her beauty.

I don’t know why I didn’t do this more often with her before the diagnosis. I occasionally brought my laptop outside with her and worked for a time, but I didn’t stop and relax with her. Plus, I wasn’t really doing it for her as much as I was doing it to help me cope with a challenging task. But now, these moments are for her and while they bring me great joy, we do them because they bring her immense joy, even when I think she is spending too much time in the sun and not enough time in the shade. The joy on her face when we are outside just to enjoy the day is palpable. These are going to be some of my favorite memories when she’s gone.

IMG_20170913_144059Occasionally, we are joined by other creatures, but this frog is definitely the most constant. He apparently enjoys living inside my outdoor umbrella. Seems like an odd choice to me, but to each his own.

What are some small things you take immense joy in?

The Golden House – Reflection: Self-Care

32674732605_592af8cde0_o.pngPhoto credit: Selfcare | Cajsa Lilliehook | CC 2.0

This reflection will be a bit different than the previous format. While I will still be reflecting on a topic, it will be one the book inspired, instead of one based on the book itself. It’s a subtle difference, but I like to be transparent.

When Nica fell ill, my reading amount plummeted. It wasn’t intentional, but there were many long, very emotional days and I did not have the strength to read at night. It only worsened when Nica was released and needed around the clock care. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me at all, even with this blog as most people are understanding of such situations. But it did bother me, a lot, because my ARC reading schedule was already so very tight that if I slowed down reading, I was going to miss release deadlines for books I had requested. Admittedly, when I requested all the books I did, I never expected to be approved for them all since I had been denied most requests on Netgalley previously, but many weeks ago, I was approved for them all and set up a schedule I thought I could maintain even while reading other books that aren’t “required” or “work” or whatever label I throw on the ARCs which make them feel like a chore to review. I was doing great, until I wasn’t and the guilt mounted.

I tried to remedy this by first picking ARCs I thought I would most enjoy, like Girls Made of Snow and Glass, but that book was a bit disappointing and all I wanted to do was read a good book by a tried and true author, but that list of ARCs was suffocating. So, I picked up the next best ARC that was about to come out and started reading. But immediately, I wasn’t feeling the book, The Golden House. I knew that it was a me problem – that I just wasn’t in a space to deal with high literary fiction on the incredible scale that is Rushdie, but I felt obligated. I felt required to continue with this book. After all, it releases today. But it clearly wasn’t working for me to read this just before bed, so I set aside a large chunk of time to just read. And I did. I read and read and read and felt worse and worse and worse. See, it’s not just that Nica was recently diagnosed with cancer or still needs more care than normal, it’s also that I have my own surgery this week, I was in a car accident the night I went to pick up Nica from the hospital that I’m still in pain from and fighting the driver’s insurance, there’s been some family drama, and the fall semester has started so I now will be caring for my nephew much more. It’s a lot to deal with all at once, especially as a person with chronic pain and chronic illness. I could feel my mental health taking a hit. There was something about The Golden House that did not sit well with me and it ended up bringing all these issues to a head for me after my marathon reading session. Yet still, I felt like I must read it.

Balancing self-care with my responsibilities has been something I’ve struggled with most of my life. I haven’t ever had a well balanced work-life balance and it’s my life than suffers, not my work. Even through the worst of Nica’s recovery, I was writing blog posts through tears. I felt obligated to keep to the schedule I promised for both blog posts and ARCs. But I hit a breaking point last night. A hard, bad breaking point. Then, I had a thought. What if I just didn’t finish The Golden House right now? What if I just put it aside and read something light and fluffy, by an author I know can just make me happy? And like that, my anxiety lifted. It was exactly what I needed.

But what is the ideal balance between commitments and self-care? How does one balance the commitments made to readers and/ or publishers? This is an even more challenging question for me to tackle now than before when I had a 9 to 5 job. There was a boss to discuss this with and sick days to use. But now, I am the boss and there are no sick days. There are no coworkers to cover when I can’t be there. Either the work is done or it is not and I cannot easily, last minute, come up with alternative arrangements. Trust me, I am a much worse boss than most of my bosses in real life were. I do not value self-care for myself, so I don’t take it. Which was the problem in the first place. Had I simply stopped back when Nica was first critically ill and said, I’m only sleeping a few hours at a time and randomly crying throughout the day – I’m not going to write any blog posts, maybe I wouldn’t have had to hit the wall I hit last night. The wall that if it breaks causes me to fall into a minor mental breakdown. A wall that is the last defense before the spiral downward starts in earnest. I am not happy with how close I came to slamming through that wall and frankly, I’m not out of the woods yet. It’s only going to get more stressful for me before it gets better. But this time, I know I need to prioritize self-care.

Be forewarned that there might not be posts for the end of this week. I refuse to write blog posts from my hospital bed 🙂

How do you manage self-care? How do you find work-life balance when you are a self-employed blogger, writer, etc.?

Update: Brief Hiatus

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Photo credit: Gerd Altman / Pixbay / CC0 Public Domain

There was no Bookish post today and I apologize for that. I opted for sleep over writing a post. My dog, Nica, who is pictured in my profile picture, presented with severe fluid retention on Wednesday, August 16th and was diagnosed with a liver tumor. The tumor was surgical removed on Monday, August 21st. They ended up removing more than expected, including her gallbladder and a mass on her spleen as well as addressing an abnormal lymph node. Her recovery has been suboptimal and what was expected to be an overnight hospital stay turned into several days. Even though she was still incredibly anemic, we decided she should come home on Wednesday night in hopes of her improving faster out of the hospital. While she has made gradual improvement, she still needs care from me at least every 2 hours. This entire process has been incredibly draining as it has not been clear what is the underlying issue. We are still waiting on pathology results from the biopsies. The blog was updated last week mostly because of my writing the posts in advance, but my post on Thursday was written that morning and I am not happy with the quality. So in the interest of my own sanity and ensuring the quality on this blog is maintained, I will be taking at least a one week hiatus from blogging. If it needs to be longer depending on her recovery, I will update you as soon as the decision is made.

I appreciate all of your support and hope to connect with you all again very soon!

Rapid Fire Book Tag – Bookish: Tag

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Photo credit: I Love to Read | Carlos Porto | CC 2.0

Dani from Mousai Books posted this book tag a couple days ago and I really enjoyed reading her answers. I thought that my readers might enjoy learning a bit about my bookish style as well! Definitely go check out Mousai books as it’s one of my favorite book review blogs and Dani is the best! This tag was originally created by Girl Reading and she answered the questions without much thought. I answered in the same vein.

  1. E-book or Physical book? Physical Book
  2. Paperback or Hardcover? Paperback – I find hardcover annoying and heavy
  3. Online or In-store book shopping? In-Store!!! I love the smell of books! But to be fair, I buy nearly all my books online – I just start by shopping in the store and then try to find them used or a deal online.
  4. Trilogies or Series? Trilogies as I have no interest in reading a series that never ends
  5. Heroes or Villains? Is grey characters an option? No? Then heroes
  6. A book you want everyone to read? The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. It is one of my favorite books and she is my favorite author and I want everyone to experience the beauty of her writing
  7. Recommend an underrated book. The Hour of Daydreams – seriously, it is super rare that an unknown book is amazing, but this one is and I want everyone to read it!
  8. Last book you finished? The Shadow of the Wind – I have mixed feelings on this book, but a review is forthcoming.
  9. The last book(s) you bought? I went on a mini book buying spree the other day, so there’s a few: Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, Delicious Foods, Brown Girl in the Ring, and The Fisherman (I love Kindle deals combined with Amazon no rush shipping digital credits!)
  10. Weirdest thing you’ve used as a bookmark? I typically use bookmarks – well actually my favorite is bookjig which isn’t exactly a standard bookmark. Anyway, back to the question, the weirdest thing is probably a receipt or a blanket – whatever is nearby that I can quickly use to mark a page. With crochet books when I end up marking a few pages until I decide on a pattern, I have used other books as bookmarks, but it kind of worries me. I care a lot about the appearance of my books.
  11. Used books: yes or no? Yes…if they are in like new condition
  12. Top Three Favorite Genres: Literary Fiction, General Fiction, and Fantasy – really, I just love really amazing writing in nearly any genre.
  13. Borrow or Buy? Both equally. I used to dream of having a massive library one day, but now I dream of a more minimalist life, so I try to only buy print books I really love or expect to love. I also currently am only buying new books by diverse authors as part of a broader social movement. I greatly enjoy both the act of buying and the act of borrowing from a library. I don’t really feel complete without both.
  14. Characters or Plot? Characters. I care much more about the depth of the characters and how they emotionally impact me than I do about specific plot points. I can enjoy a book that seems to have no point as long as I love learning about the characters. Great, in-depth characters are why I read.
  15. Long or Short books? Is average book length an option? No, then long. I’m not a big fan of short stories and novellas tend to fall too close to that category
  16. Long or Short chapters? I don’t think I have a preference here, but if I lean one way, it’s probably toward long chapters. I don’t like choppy books with super short chapters.
  17. Name the first three books you think of: The Fifth Season, The Shadowed Sun, and The Shadow of the Wind
  18. Books that make you laugh or books that make you cry? Books that make me cry
  19. Our world or Fictional world? I don’t have a strong preference here, though I tend to read more books in the real world than in the fictional world. But I’m not a big fan of them overlapping, with the exception of dystopian/ future setting books.
  20. Audiobooks: yes or no? I really enjoy nonfiction audiobooks and it’s about the only way I will read nonfiction books these days, but otherwise, I strongly prefer printed books. With reading books, the worlds transports me more than listening to them and I live for that.
  21. Do you ever judge a book by its cover? I do and it does cause me to out of hand dismiss some books or to decide to pick up a book I’m unfamiliar with, but it is only a small part of my decision to read a book or not.
  22. Book to movie or Book to TV adaptations? Book to TV adaptations as I generally prefer TV to movies, in part because TV can do more with character development.
  23. A movie or TV show you preferred to its book? I rarely consume both medium, but I loved the movie Lincoln and couldn’t get through the first 50 pages of the book it was based off of. I’d probably say on the whole that I prefer the movie version of nonfiction books, especially for genres like memoirs or biographies.
  24. Series or Standalone? Standalone. There are popular books I haven’t read and probably won’t because I don’t want to deal with reading a whole series. I only consider reading complete series.

I tag FNM over at NZFNM blog, Delphine at Delphine the Babbler, and Harini at Books and Readers. I’d love to hear some of your answers in the comments, or better yet, as a post on your blog! So if I did not tag you and you wish to do this, please consider yourself tagged and definitely let me know if you do the tag. Otherwise, please answer one or two questions below! I’d love to get to know my readers a bit better!

The Awesome Blogger Award – Bookish: Tag

I’ve been nominated for an award and I’m blushing with excitement! I never expected for my blog to take off so quickly. I’m over the moon!!!

I was nominated by Harini over at Books and Readers and she is my favorite book blogger right now. Not only is her blog amazing, but also she has shown me great kindness and support from the very beginning. If I could nominate her again, I absolutely would. Definitely check out her blog – it’s wonderful!

awesome-blogger-award1.jpg(I stole this image from Harini who stole it from Des!)

The award was created by Maggie at Dreaming of Guatemala who stated:

This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.

Rules :

1.Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Include the reason behind the award.
3. Include the banner in your post.
4. Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader.
5. Answer the questions your nominator gave you.
6. Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers.
7. Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer.
8. Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated.

My Answers to Harini

What’s ‘peace’ according to you?

Man, starting with the hard questions! I feel like there are two ways I could go – the world peace way or the inner peace way. Since I’ve been focusing a lot on my inner peace lately, I will focus on that in my response. Peace for me is stillness, strength, and quiet no matter what is happening outside of me. It is this beautiful cave I retreat to.

What’s the one book everyone loves but you absolutely hate?

Anything by Jane Austen, but particularly Pride and Prejudice. It may have been the first book I bailed on and it was required reading in high school. I couldn’t even stand the movie. It was a rough few weeks in that English class.

Dream Destination?

When I was younger, it was always Hawaii, though I’m not sure why as I don’t really like the beach. Now, I really want to travel to Turkey or somewhere similar. I feel in love with Arabic and Moorish architecture in Spain and would love to see so much more of it.

One mistake that you regret so much?

Leaving the PhD program, though I’m much more compassionate toward myself about why I did.

Favorite subject at High school?

Statistics. I was really weird. English was a close second. And if we are including non-formal/ non-required subjects, than band was my ultimate favorite followed by pottery.

The one thing you want to change about yourself?

Currently, I’d like to improve my health enough to return to work, or really, just any level of improvement would be greatly welcomed.

The person you can’t imagine being without?

My sister. She’s a huge piece of me and I need her. She’s quite often the first person I turn to.

Favorite pet ever?

Nica, who is the cute pup in my profile pic!

Book People Vs Real People – Who do you prefer?

There are definitely times in my life when I would have said book people, but after falling ill and finding a large community of people supporting me, who are all my extended family now, I have to say real people. Real people are actually there when things are hard. ❤

One thing about the world that you hate?

Hatred itself, especially that which is based on shallow qualities like race, sex, or sexual orientation

Thanks again, Harini!

My nominees:

JD at Studious Creatives
FNM at NZFNM blog
Alyssa at Book Huntress’ World
Elin at Book Owlie
TJL at Books & Other Pursuits

My Questions:

Which book “changed your life”?
What’s your favorite thing about blogging?
Would you rather be a bookstore owner or an author?
Where’s your favorite place to visit?
What is something you really, really like?
Outside of reading, what’s a favorite activity?
What’s your favorite ice cream?
Would you rather have dinner with current famous people or dead/historical famous people (you get to pick who you invite)?
What’s a nonfiction topic/ genre you enjoy?
Do you hope to still be blogging in 5 years?

For those tagged, I completely understand if you cannot get to this right now. Just know that I enjoy your blogs!

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions as well! Comment below with your thoughts!