May 31, 2016

Quarterly Goals - Summer 2016

I think the main thing I learned here was that I do much better when my goals are a one-time task vs ongoing things.  I'm constantly vacillating between more and less structure, so my summer goals are a little looser than the spring ones.

Enough yammering - here's how I did for Spring!

Spring Seasonal Goals (March, April, May)

Fun & Frivolous Goals

1. Host a social gathering - Check!

Sooo... it's not technically until June, but it's a murder mystery and it's been a long time in the making.  I'm counting it.

2. Finish my painting projects - Check!

So so so glad this is done!  Things I have learned: 1) Painting is fun but being an adult = being much more aware of all the flaws and I don't enjoy the end result as much 2) Just because I watched someone else do it online does NOT mean I can do it too.  I'm delighted to have color in the 2 rooms I spend the most time in but I'll be taking a break from painting for a while and possibly hiring someone next time.

3. Follow the 40-day plan from May Cause Miracles - Fail

I really, really like the idea of this.  But follow through is hard because it requires me to do something first thing in the morning and at the end of the day and those are my least disciplined times.  You're also supposed to check in at lunchtime so that's three times per day you have to do something and if you miss one, it messes up the schedule for the other activities.  It's too much.  Maybe at some point I'll read through and try to make myself a simplified version but for now I'm accepting that it's more than I'm willing to do right now.

Business & Design Goals

1. Treat my business like a business - Fail

This was mainly referring to setting daily and weekly objectives and I failed pretty hard.  I continue to be reactive and scramble around working on whatever feels the most urgent.  Getting client projects done!  But not in as organized a fashion as I'd like.  I'll figure it out - I just need to experiment until I find the system that works best for me.

2. Get my business bank account set up - Check!

'Bout damn time.  Seriously, this took way too long.  I struggled with getting my business properly set up but I am now licensed AND in possession of the proper "formation of LLC" paperwork, along with a bank account.

3. Pick a weekly learning project - Fail

When I dropped my class I thought I'd magically opened up piles of free time and it would be a piece of cake to pursue education on my own.  Ha.  Hahahahaha.  No.  I will always find ways to fill "free time" and I wasn't as motivated to do this as I'd hoped.  The new plan is to build "learning projects" into client projects.  Client wants to do a mobile site?  Instead of saying, "Sorry I don't know how to do that" I'll say "Sure - you can have it at a reduced cost and here's the potential setbacks of dealing with my learning curve.  As long as you're cool with it, I'd love to give it a try!"

Relationship Goals

1. Have a home-cooked meal with Ryan 3 nights a week - Fail

Bleghghgh... we're just too lazy.  We couldn't do it.  We did continue to focus on weekly date nights, but that all too frequently involved going out, rather than doing things at home and I can't quite muster up guilt about it.  Cooking and watching TV always feels a little bit like a letdown as date nights go.

2. Take a family trip with Ryan and the dogs - Fail

We did take a trip, but the puppies did not come.  :'(  One day.  It's difficult anyway, with Toast not being house-trained yet.

3. Walk the dogs 5 days a week - Check!

I started strong and finished less so, but I'm still comfortable checking this off.  Walking the dogs isn't too hard when I work from home, and my mom and I typically include a walk at the beginning of our pilates workouts, so that's 3 freebies right there.

4/9 - Mehhhh...

Like I said, a bit shaky!  I'm going to focus on one-and-done type goals for future posts, mainly because expecting myself to keep up with something ongoing for 3 months is too much.  That sort of thing works better for monthly goals, which I'm not currently doing.

Here's what I've got for summer.

Summer Goals

  1. Kindle Catchup! - Read all my extra books (for Dani and Erin's challenge)
  2. SEO tutorial - Follow and apply to my website.  I need to learn how to do this and I keep putting it off.
  3. Escape the Room! - Ever since I heard this was a thing, I've been dying to go.
  4. Toast/People Training - We need to hire an official trainer for at least a session or two since her skittishness is making it difficult to really teach her much.  Although she knows sit!  And "outside."  Basically we need to be taught how to teach.
  5. Task List Zero - Clear it, just once, and leave it empty for one full day before filling it up again.
  6. Belated Spring Cleaning - It's about time to fight the dog smell once again.
  7. "Finish" Bedroom/Office Decor - Now that everything's painted, I just need to hang stuff and buy a new bedset to match the green walls (current one is red and gold).
  8. Complete the Month of Happy - I'm going to attempt to try out everything everyone's suggested to me for June and then I'll write a post about what I liked best and what I'll continue.
  9. Take 1 Day Per Month to Do Nothing - This sounds fun but is actually really hard and I'm terrible at this.  But I would enjoy it so much if I could make myself do it!
This time around should be easier, and a couple of these are already in the works (though to be fair, they weren't when I wrote this!).

Do you make seasonal goals?  What are you planning for this summer?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

May 26, 2016

My Definition of Tolerance

Did you read Dani's post Tuesday?  If not, get on that, please.  I'll wait.

The post she's referring to is a confusing one.  A lot of "I'm tolerant because I only believe gay people shouldn't get married, I don't DO anything about it.  But please don't say anything mean to me because I deserve the tolerance that I don't actually give to others."  At least that was my interpretation.  You might have a different one.

I write about a lot of social issues, and I frequently write them in a, well, passionate tone.  Yeah, passionate, let's go with that.  I use strong language and I don't always make it clear that disagreements would be welcomed.  Honestly, I usually struggle to form gracious replies when it does happen, so I won't pretend otherwise.

But what I don't do is say, "This is my opinion, so don't disagree with me or say anything mean."  I don't cage my statements with ridiculousness like, "People will probably try to shut me down/stop me from saying this/negate my opinion/etc."  Because my opinion is just one of many and the fact that I expressed it invites others to express theirs.  Freedom of speech does NOT mean you can say whatever you want without consequences.  It means no one can stop you from saying what you want, and they can choose to act accordingly.

And somewhere in the heart of that is where I believe tolerance lies.  I don't believe tolerance is simply ignoring things you don't like.  I don't think it's enough to just bury your head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist.  I think true tolerance exists when we live and let live.  When we don't write legislature that gives privileges to some and restrictions to others.  When we don't seek to control the lives of others just because our beliefs are different.

I don't believe we live in a very tolerant society.  And, in my opinion, it's still one highly influenced by religion, which hasn't historically been very good at tolerance.  I think it's something we struggle with, each and every one of us, because by nature, we're suspicious of anything new or different, and we're "uncomfortable" with things we haven't been around much.  But we're also living in a society that is capable of rapid advancement, and change, and questioning the modus operandi.

That is a power we need to use more.  Do you have core beliefs?  Do you have opinions?  Do you know you're absolutely, 100% right?  Why not question yourself, just a tad?  I do it all the time.  I've changed plenty of opinions that I've realized were just outdated or wrong, after time and experience showed me what an ass I was.  Even if you end up in the same place you started, true tolerance is only going to be reached when you put yourself in someone else's shoes, and think about life from their point of view, before going back to ignoring it.

If you did your research and realized your stance on a social issue actually negatively impacted other people's lives, would you still believe it?  If their actions had nothing to do with you, and would impact your life in no possible way, would you still seek to control them and prevent them from living that way?  How much of other people's pain is worth adhering to an ancient scripture full of conflicting messages, many of which are ignored by the majority of believers of that faith?

You might do all of the above and then still believe what you believed before and if that's the case, I certainly won't stop you.  You express your opinion all you want, but I will too.

The floor is yours.  What do you think?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

May 25, 2016

A Very Important Request

In my rant post, I talked about difficulty of maintaining positive emotions and how I tend much more towards the neutral or the negative now than when I was a kid.  I also have fewer up and downs, which is a perk, but I spend probably more time than I should chasing that elusive feeling of joy and fun that I used to feel with minimal effort.

I'd like to leave that behind, and try to focus more on figuring what happiness means as an adult and what things make me happy now instead of continuing to jump into swimming pools and try to convince my brain that, "Hey, this is fun, remember!  No?  Well, I'm staying here until you think it's fun again so settle in..."

I also used to like the beach, art, and playing imagination games.  Alas, adulthood has ruined all these things for me.  As for what I like now, some things I know already - I like organizing, design, planning events, and books (though to be fair, I always liked those).  I know that a clean house makes me feel better than a messy one, and I need elaborate to do lists to keep my mind "uncluttered."  I know that new purchases make me happy at first, but then fade into the background and social events are mostly good, but only if I don't overload myself.

Outside of that, I'm really still learning about myself.  I've tried 30 day habit-changing plans and I know I have trouble sticking to anything for that long.  I've made gratitude lists and tried tons of little "happiness hacks" and I'm still trying to figure out which ones are actually effective and which are bogus.

Here's where I could really use your input.  I'm going to try to collect tips, tricks, and habits from people I know that they've found to be effective and then give them a try.  Some of you have helped me already - thanks a ton!  But anyone who wants to chime in, please do.  June is my "birthday month" and what better present to myself than to try to find new ways to be happy?

So tell me what you do to make your life better!  Is it planning your day or a daily ritual like exercise, meditation, reading?  Do you make your bed in the morning to increase your happiness, or maintain a minimalist lifestyle?  What contributes the most to your overall happiness that you can recommend to others?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

May 24, 2016

My Favorite Web Comics

I mentioned a couple of these in my favorite Instagrams post, but I have a few more that I absolutely adore and wanted to share with you guys.


Math, science, typography, this guys knows seemingly everything and while I don't understand all of his jokes, I always laugh at the ones that I do.  I sometimes say "there's an XKCD for everything" and I honestly think he's covered a broad enough range that there is almost always a relevant strip from XKCD.

2. Sarah's Scribbles

Cute and funny and all too often evoking the cliche "SO TRUE!"  If you, too, struggle with adulting, then you'll get a kick out of this (and you don't even have to like the world adulting, because she doesn't use it).

3. Hyperbole and a Half

Sadly defunct, this comic had some absolutely amazing posts.  My favorites are her childhood memories (this one, definitely) and the ones about dogs (try this).  In the last couple she gets pretty real about depression and overcoming it, and now I think she's focused more on making books.

4. The Awkward Yeti

This one I mentioned already and I will not apologize for it is amazing!

5. The Oatmeal

Some of these get a little too crude for me or just downright disgusting, but I've also laughed my butt off and shared my two favorites with everyone who will click the link.  If you like dogs, read this.  If you're a runner, read this series.  There's also a ton on grammar, and some on web design.

6. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

These... well they're a little more out there.  And they're super cynical.  But the artist posts a lot, which is nice...

7. Cyanide and Happiness

This one I haven't been following as long, but it's been good for a quick chuckle now and again.

8. Fowl Language

Cute and funny and (mostly) family-oriented, this one is also pretty good on Instagram.  By "good" I mean formatted well for a vertical orientation.  For example, I love Sarah's Scribbles but I have to get it through Feedly since the print is usually too small to read on Insta and THERE'S NO WAY TO ZOOM IN!  (Seriously, wtf Instagram?)

9. Happle Tea

This is another one that isn't terribly active anymore, but if you ever want to dive through the archives, good, good stuff.  I love mythology, so I'm a sucker for all the jokes about Greek, Norse, and even Egyptian gods.

And that's it!  What are you favorite web comics?  Any good ones I'm missing out on?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

May 19, 2016

Unapologetically a Rant Post

I can't really call this anything else, so I'll just admit it: I'm ranting about a bunch of things that have bothered me lately.

1. Dogs Need Their Vocal Cords

Ryan and I were out walking the other day and a family had their dog in the median of the street to keep their dog away from the other dog walkers (such as us).  The dog was making this godawful yodeling/screaming noise that I've never heard before and I probably wouldn't have realized what was going on if Ryan hadn't discretely whispered, "It's vocal cords were cut."  WTF???  You want a dog but you don't want it to bark, so why not, right?  You want a cat but you don't want it to scratch, so let's surgically lop off the tips of its paw knuckles.  And we certainly can't have a heavy tail wagging and possibly knocking things over, so let's dock that thing.

I have another solution.  DON'T GET A PET!  Rather than destroying your animal's modes of communication (body language or verbal), just don't get an animal that communicates in ways you don't like.  Maybe you're really more of a hamster person.  And cats have muscles that they need to exercise by scratching.  I don't want my furniture scratched up either, so I get it, but that's why I didn't get that particular pet, rather than maiming the one I have.

This infuriates me so much and I can't do a damn thing about it and I hate it.

2. Finding Time

I've been listening to Steph and Jana's Armchair Librarians podcast and one of their episodes hit upon a topic near and dear to my heart: time.  They talked about how people ask how they find time to read or complained about not having the time, and the real answer was "If you cared enough, you'd make time."  That goes well beyond books.  We can't make time for everything - there's too many things - but we all fill our time with something and for some of us that's books, for others it's video games or TV or whatever.  But complaining is silly, because you're doing something with your time and if it doesn't allow you to do what you want, maybe you should ask yourself if it's really the thing you want to be prioritizing.

3. I Fail to Be Open-minded About...

Dog breeding instead of adopting, people who don't read, people who downplay their intelligence or think being intelligent is uncool or unfeminine or some other BS.  Littering but especially cigarette butts, saying "___ isn't for me" when you don't even know what it is or it's an absurdly broad category like "exercise," people without goals or ambitions, religion, and most forms of extremism.  I'm sure there's more but the point is not that I don't tolerate these things - it's that I know people who fit into many of these categories and I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I can't, so it's easier to just pretend it doesn't exist.

4. "She's not a looker."

Someone I know said this as a joke about Harriet Tubman because she's going to be on some denomination of money and that apparently makes her appearance cause for criticism.  I understand that people make jokes and I don't want to get to the point where I'm overly sensitive and can't handle any kind of humor, but for fuck's sake.  Who cares what she looks like?  Can it be any worse than the plethora of ugly, old white guys we have on our money already?  And notice that no one ever comments on their appearance.  I want to be able to take a joke, but one that's rooted in sexism and the fact that women are consistently objectified and their bodies given more attention than their accomplishments?  No, I don't want to "be cool" about those jokes.

Getting past the particular misogyny of this comment, it also made me think about the way we talk about celebrities.  To be clear, I don't think male actors have to deal with the same level of objectification that females do, BUT we are very cavalier with our scrutiny of any public figure, because we don't know them personally.  It's almost as if the emotional distance gives us some sense of ownership.  I've listened to a bunch of men, none of whom possessed particular stellar body types themselves, go into great detail about Kim Kardashian's body transformation as she "got fat" and then "got hot" again.

I like to think myself above such assholery, but I objectify, too.  I make a point of only doing it to say positive things, but who's to say that that actor or actress wants compliments like "I'd tap that" or "I'd go gay for her"?  Even as a joke, is it ever appropriate to rank someone's worth by how willing you are to have sex with them?  I don't think so, and that's why you won't hear that shit from my mouth anymore.

5. Friendships Ending

I don't think it's that big a deal.  Unpopular Opinion Puffin, over here!  But seriously - people want to make something solemn and permanent about friendship.  Like if you grow and change and move into different directions you're still obligated to make time for each other.  If your interests change and you make new friends who share those interests, you're a traitor or a fake.  Well, I say it's perfectly natural and we should just enjoy things while we have them instead of trying to cling onto something that's past its prime.  Some friends might be the kind that you can call after months of not speaking - I have one of those.  And some might just be friends while it's convenient and fun for both of you - I have those too.

Both contribute to my life in important and fulfilling ways, even though one has stood the test of time and the other has not.  And even the one that's lasted for years and years I don't expect to last forever.  It will last as long as it needs to, as long as we still get some value out of each other.  It's not a marriage, you're not bound to just one, and you're under no obligation to make it last forever.  I think that particular freedom is a beautiful thing and should obligate us to seek out the very best people who can help us realize the best within ourselves, rather than clinging to what's familiar, even when it stagnates us.

6. Things That Are Hard

I think I had half-written a post about this titled "Adulting" for Alyssa's sake (sorry - beating jokes to death is a problem I have!), but even without all the humorous ones like "folding laundry right after it dries," I had a huge list.  And, to be frank, sometimes it really bothers me.  I feel like it shouldn't be that hard to be an adult.  It shouldn't be that hard to get basic chores done and take care of myself.  It shouldn't be that hard to have a clean home.  It shouldn't be that hard to be happy.

The older I get, the harder it is to laugh.  The less often I feel genuinely elated or even content.  More and more often I feel just neutral, or tending towards the cranky side.  I remember my mom describing growing up and her emotions.  She said as a child she'd lived on an emotional plateau, experienced some ups and downs as a young adult (from dating and being affected by the emotions of others), and then settled back down into a lower plateau.  It sounded horribly depressing, but I'm starting to think I understand.

I don't know if I can explain it in a way that doesn't sound awful, but I think the older I get (and I assume other people as well), the more I learn to protect myself from the lows, and to handle my emotions in a mature way.  This takes away so much of the power and intensity of the down swings, which is great!  But I almost feel like that caution acts as a buffer with happy feelings, too.  I feel it, just not with the immediacy and intensity of my youth.  I spend more time worrying about the plan, and how things will work out, and whether other people are enjoying themselves, and less about myself.  If that sound self-sacrificing, it's not, it's just a natural stage of growing up and realizing other people have feelings.

In any case, I spend a lot of time coming up with ideas and working on activities to be happier, but I'm starting to wonder if it's a pointless battle.  Staying out of a slump and not being miserable, sure.  But maybe searching for the joy and simplicity of my youth is just setting myself up for failure, because they don't exist anymore.  Maybe not being miserable is as good as it gets as an adult.  And for the record, I'm not miserable!  I have good moments and bad, and the occasional burst of elation - it's just relatively short-lived and lost so easily.

I think a part of me has been convinced that if I get ahead of this whole "being an adult" thing, that's when I'll find happiness.  That I just have to be a better adult, and then happiness will come along naturally.  But now I think there's no such thing as a "real adult" and everyone has different levels of success with different things.  I think there's no secret stash of happiness waiting around the corner, and I'd be better off living more in the moment instead of trying to rush ahead to something that's not there.

I think a lot of things, but I'm not 100% I've reached any sort of meaningful conclusion on that one, so maybe I'll just leave it there and ask you guys what you think.

Do you find it hard to be happy as an adult?  Do you handle emotions differently now than you did as a kid and what's the end result on your overall happiness?  What things make you want to rant?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

May 17, 2016

How to Cut Your Own Hair (a Pseudo Tutorial)

Pseudo - not genuine; sham.

Keep that word in mind.  I do cut my own hair BUT (and this is a huge but) my hair is really easy to cut, I'm not terribly picky about the results, and I have a high tolerance for imperfections.  I do not take responsibility for any bad haircuts that may result from this pseudo tutorial and if you follow my instructions incorrectly and do terrible things, I will laugh at you.

Now that that's out of the way, let's get started.

Step 1 - Prep

Normally I cut my hair right after a shower.  No real reason - it just clumps together and makes less of a mess.  It's also harder to cut.  Wet or dry, it needs to be brushed and pulled straight.

Step 2 - Top Pony (aka Layer)

I don't bother with the ponytail anymore, but it's the same idea.  Flip your head upside down, gather you hair into a ponytail on the very top of your head.  Decide how much to cut, and snip straight across.

KEEP IN MIND: this angle means that you're cutting more from the top of your head than the back or sides, because that is the hair that has the shortest distance to go to fit into the ponytail.  So base the length to cut off on how long you want your top layer to be.  DO NOT: make 2 ponytails and cut the top one shorter.  This WILL result in a mullet.

Step 3 - Back

Ponytail at the base of your neck, right on the hairline, as centered as possible.  I realize the hair has to move around to the front of your face in order to see, so, using 2 fingers, pull the hair straight out behind you.  Clamp your fingers on whatever part of the hair they're on (making a straight "trim line"), and then bring it around to the front, making sure that line hasn't moved.

If you just want to make sure everything's even, you could just trim this - I typically want less distance between the short and long layers, so I'll cut off another inch here.

Step 4 - Sides

Guess what!  It gets even less precise.  For the sides I sweep all my hair forward over the left shoulder.  I "ponytail" it on my neck just behind my ear, and trim off any "sticky outy" bits.  Repeat this on the other side.

Step 5 - Clean Up

When I finish, I'll typically run my hands through my hair and trim anything that feels like an "edge."  So basically the end result is that any configuration of ponytail should result in a rounded end, like a paintbrush, rather than jagged edges.

Step 6 - Angling

Totally optional - I like to mess with the front to get a more "piece-y" look, and to have something still frame my face when I put my hair up.  Using a finger (or comb if you have one - I do not), create a part that isolates the hair around your face that you want to be shorter.  Do something with the rest - push it back, clip it up, whatever.

I typically angle my scissors down, start at the highest point, and then slide or chop my way down until I've gotten to the end/where I want the longest hair to be.  At a recent, rare paid-for haircut (I got it done right for my wedding), my stylist showed me a method that involves pulling all that hair forward and "rolling" it.  Then he just did basically the same thing, but there was a lot more "shaving" since his scissors are sharp and mine are not.

Step 7 - Bask in Your Self Cut Glory

I've gotten a surprising number of compliments after cutting my own hair.  I'm always amazed because I only cut a couple inches off so it's not terribly obvious, and I obviously don't possess any great skill.  My theory is that hair likes to be cut, and so it rewards me with extra volume and shine for a few days after a trim.

And now a story...

Once upon a time, Sister3 learned that her greatly talented oldest sister was able to cut her own hair without botching it terribly.  Said talented sister shared this magical methodology and Sister3 decided to give it a go!

Unfortunately, Sister3 did not follow the method and decided that not only would she cut her own hair for the first time, but she would deviate wildly.

(You might be able to guess what's coming next.)

Sister3 decided that she wanted MORE layers, and not just the puny amount Sister1 was cutting.  She decided to add a second ponytail so that the top layer could be even shorter.

She succeeded.  Sister3 finished her hair cut, only to realize that long hair with very short hair on top is also referred to as a mullet, and should never be created intentionally.  Sister3 then took herself to a hairy cuttery with more haste than she schedules most doctor appointments and unmulleted herself, vowing never to cut her own hair again.

That should be the end to this sad tale, but unfortunately it is not.  These 2 sisters, one so talented, and one so mullet-y, had a wonderful mother.  Wonderful Mother decided that she, too, would try the magical hair cutting method that was working so well for her one daughter.  Wonderful Mother had heard the mullet jokes, but had been cutting her own hair for quite some time and thus thought the same mistake could never happen to her.

At the time of the cut, Wonderful Mother paused, thinking how ideal it would be to have short hair with the illusion of length.  Perhaps Sister3 had simply not used the 2 ponytail method properly.  Wonderful Mother double pony-tailed and went to town.

Shortly after, Wonderful Mother was on a Skype date with her 3 daughters.  She was wearing a hat.  No one thought to question this apparel choice, but the reason for it became apparent when she said, "So I decided to try Jenn's method of cutting hair..."

Moral of the story: Extreme layers = mullet.  Short with the illusion of length = mullet.  Short in front and long in back = mullet.  You can always cut more, but you can't uncut.  Don't mullet yourself.

Have you ever cut your own hair?  What's the worst mistake you've ever made?  (Mine involves bangs)

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

May 12, 2016

So Apparently I'm Sexist

A while back my sister told me about a study on sexism done where the primary researcher, who considered himself a feminist, discovered that he himself displayed misogynistic behaviors.  Rather than discount his study, he gave it an honest look and realized that we aren't always aware of our own prejudices, because they're so ingrained that they're not always conscious behaviors.

I've observed this in my friends and my own behaviors.  The people who are the most prejudiced tend to be the people who have given the least thought to their beliefs.  "That's just the way it is" and "I call it like I see it."  I have had plenty of my own sexist beliefs that, only after growing up and examining them closely, did I realize were patently untrue or instilled in me by our culture and not by any sense of logic or fairness.  I thought men should be tough and never cry.  I thought women shouldn't be muscular and should be nurturing.  If someone had told me "Black people do ___" or "Mexicans are ___" I probably would have just believed it without questioning where that information came from.

I've come a long way in the last few years.  Part of that was just growing up and realizing that you really can't put people into neat, little categories.  No one is a cliché or stereotype once you get to know them.  And part of that was actively seeking out information through blogs, Reddit, or books like Lean In.

That last example was pretty mind-blowing because I'd thought I'd already made so much progress, and then I found myself guilty of several of the misogynistic tendencies Sandberg talks about.  Successful women are considered cold, arrogant, and selfish.  Men can take credit for their successes, while women are expected to attribute them to teamwork, outside assistance, or luck.  I forced myself to rethink my opinions on prominent business women I've known personally and to definitely question other people's perceptions of public figures.

I think I had some misguided notion that at some point I'd have it all figured out and I'd be "done."  At some point I'd have successfully reached a point where I didn't have any more subconscious prejudices.  But that's silly and here's my latest example.

We've had a dog for 4 years.  He's a male.  I have given this absolutely no thought for the last 4 years.  But we just adopted a female dog.  Guess what their nicknames are.

Luke = buddy, bud, bubba.  Toast = baby, babes, sweetie.  I did not even notice I was doing this until Ryan started calling Toast "buddy" the same way he calls Luke by that pet name.  And it felt wrong to me.

I still can't make myself call Toast "buddy."  So I started calling them both "baby" or "puppy" because that feels right.  And trying to use their names more often, which is better dog training anyway.  I realize there are other factors at play, like the fact that Toast is the new dog, and she's younger, and so on.  But at one point I found myself using the pet names my mother used for my sisters and me (she called us "baby duck" and I called Toast "baby dog") and it's kind of bizarre that I only did that when I had a "girl" around.

So I'm watching myself, because I'm fairly certain there's some prejudices left in there and I absolutely don't want to pass them on to my children.

What are (or were) some of your subconscious prejudices?  How do you make yourself aware of your own inconsistencies?

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May 10, 2016

Books, Books, Books!

Back from vacation and ready to talk books!!!  I read tons of great fantasy and dystopia this month and hardly any self help type stuff.  I should probably be embarrassed, but instead I'll just admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Here's my reads, from favorite to least (I actually had a "did not finish" which is pretty rare for me).

♥♥♥♥♥ - 5 Star


Fire/Bitterblue (the rest of the Graceling Series)

I think Fire might have been my least favorite, because I was so tied into Katsa's story and I didn't want to read about anyone else.  So maybe about half the book I was whiny about that, and the fact that Fire wasn't a particularly compelling heroine.  But then at some point she really starts to come into her own and I finally (grudgingly) admitted that she was pretty awesome and got into her story.  By Bitterblue, I had accepted that each book featured a different character, and it bothered me much less.  It was kind of fascinating how the books are tied together not by the protagonists, but by the villain (former protagonists do make an appearance, but the focus is very much on the bad guy and either defeating him or dealing with the aftermath of his tyranny).  To sum up: fantastic books BUT be prepared to read about different characters.

I Am Malala

Sooo good.  I had so many emotions while reading this and I found her story incredibly powerful and inspiring.  I think, if nothing else, this is a great story for people to read (or listen to) to get a better sense of what's going on in that part of the world.  The message of the book is that education is the best defense against terrorism and ignorance so educate yourself and give this a listen!

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller series)

Just gonna copy pasta my Goodreads review for this one: "The story was told by one of the characters so every so often you get a chapter with the storyteller and other characters talking. Sometimes it seemed important and sometimes I wished the author didn't bother with it. Storytelling method aside, this book is awesome! I love the Kvothe character. He's kind of a cliche "child prodigy" but it really didn't bother me because the things he does with it are fascinating. I like the world, the "magic" system, and thoroughly enjoy all the characters and their interactions together. Definitely getting the next one!"

♥♥♥♥ - 4 Star


Divergent/Insurgent/Allegiant (Divergent Series)

I actually read these as a direct result of chatting about them with someone after the last book linkup.  I'd been on the fence about this series for a long time and after watching the movie decided not to bother.  HOWEVER, I am extremely glad I gave them a chance, because they were a solid 4 star.  Yes, I did get annoyed by Tris and Four's "will we/won't we" relationship, BUT for the most part it fit the story and I felt like they did finally grow as a couple at the end of the second book and unlike most of the rest of the world, found them less annoying in the third book.  ALSO, third book was my favorite.  Everyone else was upset about the ending, but it shocked me, made me cry, and I found it to be more realistic than your typical ending.  The second book is my least favorite, but the beginning and end are quite good and the first book is miles better than the movie.  The details make more sense, Tris has more depth and emotion, and you get more details about the world, which I liked better than the characters (at first - they grew on me).

The Crown (last of The Selection series)

The Heir was a 3 star.  Switching from the original story to their child was unexpected and I felt almost cheated, like I'd been tricked into starting a new series that, frankly, wasn't that good.  I could not stand Eadlyn, but for some reason I preordered this one (probably my need to finish stories), and I was quite surprised when it downloaded itself to my Kindle this past weekend.  In any case, I'm glad I did, because it was better.  Eadlyn finally has some much needed personal growth, and the royal family deals with problems by talking to their subjects instead of continuing to charade a perfect situation while remaining completely oblivious.  I will say that the plot still seems a little thin, somewhere in between an actual YA dystopia and a romance story, but it was better than the previous book and the ending was unexpected and left me completely satisfied, which bumped it up to 4 stars at the last second.

 - Did Not Finish

Yes My Accent is Real

After going through some of the most popular comedian style memoirs, I was looking for something else to listen to while I do some of my mindless work tasks, and this was available with no wait at the library.  I didn't care much about Kunal Nayyar (Raj from Big Bang), and I think that, combined with the fact that he's pretty young and doesn't have a whole lot to talk about, really set this up as a disappointment for me.  The tone is kind of self-deprecatory humor, which I normally like, but it's mostly just stories about girls - his first crush, his first kiss, his first girlfriend, etc, and the way he describes it is so awkward it made me cringe.  He goes on and on about "milky skin" and "intoxicating perfume" and I just couldn't do it.  I returned this a third of the way through and switched to podcasts.  Disclaimer: I did give it 2 stars on Goodreads, because I felt like there was nothing inherently wrong with the book, but it was definitely not for me.


I'm trying to be better about using the library instead of buying books, so I'm going to finish the Inkheart series before allowing myself to buy the rest of the Kingkiller books (which I'm pretty sure I want in paperback).  I'm also considering purchasing physical copies of the Mistborn trilogy, since I successfully convinced Brother-in-Law AND Ryan to read them, and talking about the books with them has me itching for a reread.  I know I'll be reading some less-exciting stuff in June for Dani and Erin's challenge, so I figure I'll indulge myself now with all fun fantasy reads!

What have you been reading?  Have you read anything from my list and what did you think?  Do you have a stack of "should read" books that you ignore while you read fun ones instead?

Linking up with Steph and Jana
Life According to Steph

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