Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What I Lack

The last post I wrote was very intense, so I thought I'd shift gears and try to lighten the mood a bit.

Those who know me well, know about my obsession with my eyebrows, or rather my lack of eyebrows.  I just don't have any.  I did, sort of, when I was younger, but they were not very pronounced.  The kiss of death though, was when I started plucking them to give them "shape", and now 15 odd years later, I have none to speak of. 

It's common knowledge, that when you don't have something you tend to fixate on it, and it's even worse when it's something relating to your face.  Eyebrows are seriously the crown of the face, and without them everything just looks weird.  Don't believe me?  Just take a look at the Mona Lisa. 

My curse in life is having to draw these damn things on every day!  Because of this I have often thought of having them tattooed on.  Oh how great my day would be to go underwater and come up looking like the same person!  Unfortunately permanent makeup is not only expensive, but a gamble.  Worse than having none, would be to finally have some, but permanently look like the Bride of Frankenstein. 

So for now, I will do what I can to make the best with the cards I've been dealt.  If it means I have to check my husband's sleeve after cuddling with him on the sofa and resting my head on his shoulder to make sure that the two tell all marks my eyebrows love to leave behind aren't there, then I will.  (Coincidently, if I see those marks, then I usually make myself scarce pretty quick and run to the bathroom to do a quick touch up!  If it means when watching a scary movie, and I raise my hands to cover my eyes during an exceptionally scary part that I have to lean over to my sister and ask, "Did I just wipe my eyebrows off?" then I will.  And, if it means that every time I break a sweat for more than a second , I have to ask my best friend, "Are my eyebrows still on?" then dang it, I will!  Because that my friends is just what has to be done, when you have this lot in life!  So be good to your eyebrows, and be thankful that big or small, one or two, blonde or black that at least you have some, because trust me when I say it could definitely be worse!  :)

A Touchy Subject

Last night one of the classes during my Army Family Team Building workshop was called "Crisis, Coping and Grieving."  Obviously in the military this is a very touch subject.  No one usually wants to teach this class for obvious reasons, and many don't even want to take it for fear of "jinxing" themselves.  So many times in life, what we want and what we need are two totally different things as is the case with this class.  Someone may not want to take it, but that doesn't mean they don't "need" to.

The class covers the stages of grief, coping strategies, things you can do to help others cope with grief and the procedure of a casualty notification.  Being fairly new to military life this class was especially helpful to me.  Honestly before last night, I really had only a very vague idea of what happens when the death of a soldier occurs.  Even if it's the absolute last thing you want to think about, as a military spouse it's important to know what happens in the event of this kind of tragedy.  I mean nobody likes talking about wills either, right?  Unfortunately part of being a responsible adult is broaching these types of touchy subjects. 

Still another reason to be aware of these procedures is to avoid being the victim of a sick and twisted scam.  Last night's instructor told us a story of a woman who was woken up at two in the morning by someone banging on her door.  They were dressed in ACU's with no rank and no unit insignia.  He claimed something had just happened to her husband and wanted her to let him in.  What would you have done in that scenario?  If you answered, "Obviously, I would open the door and let him in," you are exactly the person who needs to take this class.  The woman, sensing something wasn't right, did not open the door, but instead called her husband's Chain of Command first.  Turns out her husband was okay and that the guy banging on her door, was just a sick jerk that had devised an elaborate scam to get into her house!

The least you should know is this:

  • Always make sure your FRG or Rear D has the address where you can be reached.  That means, if you go home to visit your parents for a couple of weeks while your husband is deployed let them know!  Next of kin is always priority in this situation, but if they don't know where you are they can't notify you.  Also, keep in mind soldiers in the same unit are put on blackout and no information is released to their families either, until they can make the notification.  If it takes an extended period of time to locate you the chances of inadvertently finding out from an "outside" source are dramatically increased and other spouses in the unit could be wrought with worry wondering if its their soldier.
  • Notifications are made between 0500 and 2400.  However, there can be exceptions.  For example if there has been a leak to the media, they may notify at a different time to prevent you from finding out though the news.
  • Usually the CNO (Casualty Notification Officer) will be accompanied by a chaplain and possibly by other soldiers.  The CNO will ALWAYS be in either Class A's or Dress Blues.

If you're interested in taking this class for more valuable information, contact your ACS

AFTB is available on every post and offers a variety of classes that will help both those new to the military life and those who are seasoned veterans as well.  It's a great resource to take advantage of.

Randomness: Pop or Soda?

One day while our friend Jeannie was visiting from Michigan, my husband was headed out to the gas station.  I asked him to bring me back a "soda".  Jeannie commented that it was so weird how everybody here called it "soda" instead of "pop".  She said back home everyone called it "pop". 

This got me curious and I wondered which is more common?  Do more people refer to it as "pop" or "soda"?  So, which one is it for you?

Thank You!

Just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone who's already participated in my giveaway! The comments have been so awesome and tremendously supportive! I very much appreciate your kind words!  Make sure to check back on Monday to see if you won a prize!

My giveaway is still going strong!  Want to join us in the fun?  See the link in the sidebar (towards the top under My Giveaway for more info).

"Blogged" Ranking

Recently I joined the blog directory, blogged. This directory works by submitting your blog for an editor's review. Once completed, they post it to their online database and give you a rating. There scale is from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest rating you can achieve. I got my rating today, and it came in as an 8.3!!!!!! I was so excited when I found out I totally would've done cartwheels in my living room if I had ever figured out how!

To see my page on the blogged directory click here. Also, my rating is in my sidebar (towards the top)!

New Job

Today was the first day of my new job, as the Donations Display Coordinator and Volunteers Supervisor for our post Thrift Shop!  They have some really amazing merchandise there and for incredibly cheap prices too, hence the "thrift" in the name Thrift Shop.

Today I mainly familiarized myself with the store and got to know the daily procedures.  Basically, my job is to make sure the donations get sorted through and on the floor as quickly as possible.  After all, you can't make money unless it's on display.  (Boy I'm just full of obvious wisdom today!) Speaking of displays I'm also responsible for making sure the store looks aesthetically pleasing and creating new attractive displays each day we're open.  I'm particularly excited about this part as it will give me a chance to flex my creative muscles! 

My duties as the Volunteers Supervisor will be to train the new volunteers, and delegate out the tasks that need to be accomplished daily.  It's my first official role as a "supervisor" and I'm a little nervous about it, although I'm sure those who know me best would say this is ridiculous since I've been telling people what to do for years, ha-ha. :) 

Everything I saw today was pretty standard, but I'm sure there will be plenty of posts in the future about the crazy things I'm destined to come across in my adventures as a Thrift Shop worker, so make sure to check back for those!

If you want to see where I work, click here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

GIVEAWAY! Ends Friday 7.31.09!

To increase the communication via my Guestbook and Tagboard, I've devised a little contest! Here's how to win:

  1. The first 10 people to sign my Guestbook will receive a small prize.
  2. Everyone who signs my Guestbook between now and midnight (EST) on Friday July 31st will be entered to win a grand prize.
  3. Everyone who leaves a comment on my Tagboard will be entered to win a grand prize.
  4. Anyone who joins my mailing list between now and Friday will receive a heads up on my next giveaway.  For example if the next giveaway is announced on September 5th, then those on my Mailing List will be notified via email on September 4th.  This will be handy because all of my giveaways will have a "first 10" element meaning the first 10 people to do (fill in the blank) will win a prize as in #1 of this giveaway.

To recap there will be 10 "First 10" prizes, and 2 separate grand prizes.  That's three chances to win!!!!

Currently we're stationed in Hawaii, so all the prizes for this contest will be in varying forms of Hawaiian souvenirs.

  • First 10 Prizes will be things like key chains, shot glasses, earrings, bracelets, or necklaces, etc.
  • Grand prizes will be things like coffee mugs, thermoses, coasters, dishtowels, or some combination of these and the smaller souvenirs mentioned above).

Winners will be announced Monday August 3rd at 12:00 Noon (EST).  What better way to break up the chaos of a Monday?

Both my Guestbook and Tagboard are located in the sidebar to your right.  My Guestbook is  the 4th item down directly under the announcement for this Giveaway.  My Tagboard is closer to the end than the beginning, directly under the map (Where my peeps at?) and above the "Fellow Military Wives Blog List."

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me through the form labeled "Contact Me" (also located in the right sidebar) or via email at glimmergirl77@hotmail.com.

Give your friends and family a chance to join in the fun, and email them this post with the link below (it's the little envelope icon at the bottom of this post)!  After all, the more, the merrier!  Good luck and thanks for playing!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Check it Out: Funny Pic

 

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Great now all I need is a dinosaur and I can be motivated to exercise everyday!

This photo compliments of the blog "Things that Make Laugh".

Accepted

I just received a letter stating that I got into Walden University!  Double happy day (see my post entitled Writing Feedback for more info)!  Walden is one of three online schools I'm looking at attending this fall.  Two of these schools require you apply and be accepted just like a traditional college because they are actually in fact traditional colleges that happen to have online programs.  

This is really exciting news!  Now I just have to decide which school will be the one for me.  All of them have great aspects to their programs that would fit my needs and future academic goals extremely well.  Unfortunately this decision is on hold until I hear from the last school on my list, Boston University.  Their application deadline for the fall online semester isn't until Friday, July 31st, and I'm in still in the process of completing it.  According to my admissions advisor, after submitting it I should have the decision within a couple of weeks.  So until then, the final verdict will be put on hold.

Too bad Hawaii doesn't sell lottery tickets, because good fortune like today's doesn't happen very often! :)

Please take a minute to sign my Guestbook and thanks for visiting my blog!

Writing Feedback

At the close of the Clarity of Night "In Vino Veritas" Short Fiction Contest I recently entered, Jason Evans the contest organizer, co-judge and Clarity of Night Blog Owner said over the next few days he and Jaye Wells, fellow co-judge, would be writing comments on what they liked about each entry.  Today I got mine from Jason. 

I'm totally excited about what he had to say  .  .  .  I got a perfect score!  Woo-hoo!  Happy day!  Thank the universe!  Validation like this gives me so much external encouragement to continue pursuing this passion.  I would go forward with it no matter what, but it's so nice to have positive feedback in an industry where rejections are as common as the books we're trying to write!

Here was his comment in it's entirety:

"Ha! I thought he was going to confess something else. The nervousness was described so well. Great work! Realistic interaction.

Perfect score.

Welcome to The Forties Club!"

Keep in mind this makes more sense if you've read my story.  If you haven't, take a second and check it out!  It's only 250 words so it won't take long to read, essentially that's the length of a Starbucks order.  You can find it by clicking here.

Also, please take a moment to sign my Guestbook!  I'd love to know who you are! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

What makes a book good?

Recently I started reading a book called "I Do (but I don't)" by Cara Lockwood.  The narrative flowed easily and before I knew it, I had read the first few chapters.  The story was simple, a wedding planner who can't find love, (gotta love the irony) and entertaining as well, or so I thought.

I Do but I Don't

Around the time I broke through the first hundred pages, I started to get annoyed.  The main character was quickly becoming an idiot!  She meets and starts to fall for a gorgeous fireman.  Then she finds out he's the groom in the big, rush wedding she's in the process of planning.  Or so she thinks.

(Spoiler alert)  It becomes painfully obvious that he is not in fact the groom, but instead only a groomsman.  Still the main character goes on and on about feeling torn for having feelings for a man who is clearly taken.  The more I read, the more I got really irritated.  The author just made her seem really (for lack of a better word) dumb.  Then I got annoyed because the author thought she was being clever thinking the readers wouldn't figure out what was really going on.  Honestly I'm not sure what happened because I stopped reading it. 

I don't often stop a reading a book I've invested myself in for over a hundred pages.  I usually tough it out.  I mean obviously there was something good about it, or I wouldn't have gotten a quarter of the way through it; but this time I just couldn't finish it. 

Then I got thinking, what makes a book good?  Is it the cast of characters?  Does there have to be both a stellar protagonist and a solid supporting cast around them?  Can you have one without the other and still consider it a good book? 

Maybe the characters are secondary to the actual story.  A seamlessly intertwined plot and climax that catches you in their grip from beginning to end, can make you forget about a lot of the other things going on in the book.

What about the foundation?  Does the setting make a difference?  If you have great characters and a decent plot, does it really matter where it takes place?

Then, there's the voice of the author?  The attitude or feeling that comes through with each word sucking you into their world until the last page is turned can definitely be a powerful tool in creating a good book.

In my experience the best books are usually those that incorporate all of these elements, and yet there are always exceptions.  "My Sister's Keeper" was one of the best books I've ever read.  Now let me just add here, that in my life I've read a lot of books.  If someone asked me what was my favorite, I'd have a hard time coming up with an answer.   I enjoyed so many on an equal level.  "My Sister's Keeper" was the first book I'd read in years that left a significant mark on me.  The emotional impact I felt from it was tremendous.  So much so, that I have recommended it to friends, family, and anyone else I come across who likes to read.  I have never recommended a book as much as this one. 

My Sister's Keeper

The funny thing is that the characters annoyed the crap out of me!  Each character at one time or another made me want to cause them bodily harm.  Also, at times the story made me crazy with anger and outrage.  Regardless of these issues, I couldn't put it down. 

So really, what makes a good book?   Actually, it's almost  sort of a mystery.  There are some books that have all of the elements present to make it good, but somehow it just falls short.  Then there are others that seem to be missing pieces and end up being some of our favorites.  I guess it comes down to how you put all together.  When put together well, characteristics that we would otherwise deem not-so-great, can make a book that you will remember for a lifetime. 

That's my take on what makes a good book, what's yours?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Check it Out: Fun Blog

While stumbling through the cyber universe with my fave StumbleUpon, I cam upon this fun little blog. Check it out if you need a laugh!

Here's the link:

Life can be seriously funny

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monsters Inside Me

There's a show on Animal Planet called Monsters Inside Me.  It's about different parasites and how they wreak havoc on the human body.  I've seen it a couple of times now, and it is truly fascinating, albeit gross at times, but nonetheless fascinating.  Throughout the entire show, Garret and I were squirming in our seats and scratching at imaginary creepy crawlies on our skin.

Parasites are both tiny and highly evolved which can often be a deadly or at least painful and/or uncomfortable situation for their human hosts.  Just keep in mind that by the end of the episode you could have a serious case of the heebie jeebies and be itching up a storm.  But hey, that's half the fun!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Upcoming Events

Here's what's coming up for me:

Tuesday I start my new job, woo-hoo!  Oh happy day!  I'm so excited to get a little extra income rolling in!

Also next week, I've got my Level II AFTB classes from Monday through Thursday 5:15-9:00 PM.  Once I take this level I will then be officially ready to begin teaching it!

Speaking of AFTB, my next teaching engagement will be August 5th and then again August 25th at the WLC.  This time around I will be teaching the class on Military and Community resources.

The Hui (spouses's club) will be having their annual Super Sign-Up on August 31st.  Each year this event marks the beginning of the Hui membership year!  This is the first event after the summer break allowing all of our members to come together again to fill out the new membership application and pay the application fee.  It should be lots of fun!

Additionally, I'm entering two more writing contests!  Both deadlines are on August 31st as well!

I hope to make the announcement of what school I will be attending and when it will begin within the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

AFTB Recognition

Today at our monthly AFTB meeting, I was recognized and awarded with a Certificate of Appreciation and a gift.  The certificate said:

In recognition of your invaluable volunteer service to Army Community Service.  Thank you for your dedication in serving the Soldiers and Family members of US Army Garrison, Hawaii.  Your volunteer service truly reflects the spirit of

Imagine, Believe, and Achieve

I was so surprised and excited!  Gestures like this really set this program apart.  Being appreciated always makes me feel so happy, and it just inspires me to want to do more.

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The gift was a canvas tote bag, with a thermos mug, a lanyard, and a pin.  All of them were decorated with the "Imagine, Believe, and Achieve" theme.  I loved it!  I can always use another bag (you know I never travel lightly, even if' it's just to the Commissary, or a meeting, or a doctor's appointment, I like to be prepared).  I also can never have to many coffee thermos mugs.  Those lids come in handy when you're drinking hot beverages while driving.  If I use the lanyard, I may actually be able to find my keys in my purse, and the pin will proudly go on my name tag!

AFTB Reg Pin

I love AFTB!  It has taught and given me so much in such a short time, and I'm forever grateful!

Clarity of Night Writing Contest

Today the winners were announced for the Clarity of Night "In Vino Veritas" Short Fiction Contest I recently entered.  While I did not place, I was bestowed with another honor. 

The contest was judged using PETS Voice.  Up to 10 points are awarded for each of the following elements:

  • pacing
  • entertainment value
  • technical use of language
  • storytelling

Then up to 5 points are awarded for uniqueness of voice.  This makes a grand total of 45 points possible.

The impact of this system is to score writing technique higher than the underlying story.  According to Jason Evans, the blog owner, host and judge of this contest, the reason why he takes this approach is because stories are everywhere, but the skill to make a story come alive on the page is far more rare.

Entries scoring at least 40 out of 45 in his scoring system are inducted into The Forties Club.  He states:

In my judgement, these writers have done their job excellently.  Their strong, skilled writing brought their stories to life."

He also says that this contest had more perfect scores and near perfect scores than any other Clarity of Night writing contest, and that, "The new inductees into The Forties Club have schooled us well in excellent writing."

I was one of those new inductees!  Needless to say I'm totally excited by this honor!  Having my writing recognized by a published author in this way is the best feeling ever!  I was really intimidated to enter this contest due to the level of talent I was competing with, but I'm so glad I did and I'm really happy with the way it worked out!  Given that this is my first writing contest, I couldn't have asked for a better result! 

The stats on this contest were pretty amazing too.  The 158 entries generated 41,582 hits from 11,589 unique visitors.  Unbelievable!

In case you want to check out my story for yourself, here is the link:

Nerves and Secrets: A Confessional Tale -- By: Angela Norton

New Volunteer Position

Volunteering can seriously turn into an addiction.  Shortly after I became an AFTB Instructor I was told I would be a good candidate to volunteer with AFAP (Army Family Action Plan).  Long story short, I am now an AFAP Facilitator.

AFAP meets annually with a board comprised of civilians, government employees, soldiers, and spouses of soldiers, etc. to discuss problems submitted by the post and to find solutions for those problems.  Basically it's a way for Soldiers and their dependents to let Army leadership know what works and what doesn't.  The types of issues range from having recycle bins at the Commissary for plastic bags to getting legislation passed that mandates the states charge no higher than in-state tuition rates for military personnel and their dependents.  It's a phenomenal program and I'm very excited to be part of it!

My role will be to assist the Program Manager in going to the units, FRG groups, and other support organizations within the Army community to promote the program. 

I won't begin until the first week of August, but I can't wait to get started! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Five Fun Facts for Today

  1. The world's termites outweigh the world's humans 10:1.
  2. 97% of all paper money in the US contains traces of cocaine.
  3. Only 55% of all Americans know that the sun is a star.
  4. There is a "cemetery town" in California named Colma.  Concerns about the public health, crime and the need for space forced the city of San Francisco to outlaw burials in 1902.  The city of Colma, which is five miles south of San Francisco, was established to bury the dead.  The ratio of dead to living people is 750 to 1.
  5. From 1939 to 1942, there was an undersea post office in the Bahamas.

Today's fun facts were provided by GreatFacts.com.

Charity Mission Statement Complete

I recently created the mission statement for my charity, With Love.  It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it might be.  The purpose of the mission statement is to state clearly and concisely the mission of the group.  I already had a pretty defined idea in my head, and transferring it to paper didn't take me long at all.  In fact I think I spent way more time researching information on mission statements than I did actually writing it.

Next up for With Love is to write the Articles of Incorporation.  I've already done some preliminary research on this aspect, and I can say with most certainty that it will be a lot more challenging than the mission statement was.  Thankfully, I do love a challenge. 

Due to the tricky nature of this step, I probably won't have it completed for a few weeks yet, but when I do I'll post an update here.

New Baby Blanket!

I wanted to make my sister who's expecting a baby in January a baby blanket.  Initially I started off using some white cotton I had and a pattern I found online.  Then, I got this great idea to use some of the yarn I had leftover from previous crochet projects.  I found a cute pattern online, and I altered the color scheme to use six colors of yarn I had leftover.  I'm really happy with the way it turned out, it's totally different from the other blankets I've done.  The pattern was easy to follow and worked up quickly.  Also, it was my first Easy+ pattern which means I'm totally moving up in the world of pattern difficulty! 

The only problem is that it came out girlie instead of the intended gender neutral, as we do not yet know the sex of the baby I wanted to make something more unisex.  Oh well.  If we find out she's having a boy, then I'll probably just donate it with the rest of my items this fall.

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For the pattern to this blanket click here.

Currently I'm working on the white cotton baby blanket I originally started out to make.  As soon as it's finished I'll post those pictures too!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

AFTB Instructor Update

This past week I taught my first AFTB class at the WLC.  The WLC is a month long leadership training course for Specialists and Corporals who want to be promoted to Sergeant.  Soldiers taking this course live at the NCO Academy for the duration of the course. The spouse of the Soldier attending WLC is invited to attend our day of Level I classes there and as an added incentive they get to have lunch with their spouse.  It works out well given that not only do they get to see their spouses who are away for a month, but they also get the valuable information our program offers, many of which would not know of its existence otherwise. 

All in all I was really pleased with how well it went.  Even though I'd put in a good 20 hours of preparation for it, I feared that something might go wrong.  I was ecstatic that, for the most part, it was smooth sailing!  The only rough spot was that normally the class I was teaching (Financial Readiness) would be a 75 minute class, but all the classes are reduced to only 30 minutes at the WLC to work into a one day schedule.  When I got the signal from Shelly, our Volunteer Program Manager, that I had five minutes left, I thought she was joking.  I felt like I'd only been talking for five minutes, not 25 minutes!  That said, I had to bust a move to get through the rest of it, but luckily I have some experience with talking at an accelerated rate if need be, and was able to cover everything.

At the end of my class, Cat, the paid Program Manager, whom I absolutely adore and am quickly becoming good friends with, gave a little shpill about how this was my first class as an instructor and that she didn't want to embarrass me, but that she thought I did a great job and wanted to give me a hand.  The rest of the class joined in clapping, and I have to say I wasn't embarrassed at all, but rather completely thrilled and elated!

I also got a stellar critique from Shelly, who as the Volunteer Program Manager is both present at all AFTB classes, and required to do evaluations of new instructors on their first three classes. 

As I walked back to my car with Angie, the instructor who taught the last class after me, she also said that I did a good job.  Needless to say I was virtually on Cloud 9 on my drive home.

Like I've said before, this organization is made up of the best people, and I'm so happy to be a part of it!  I plan on teaching some of the Level I classes offered next month, as well as taking the remaining Levels, II and III, so I can begin teaching those too!

Five Fun Facts for Today

  1. The typical lead pencil can draw a line that is thirty five miles long.
  2. Japanese research has concluded that moderate drinking can boost IQ levels.
  3. Percentage of American men who say they would marry the same woman if they had it to do all over again: 80%.
  4. The Great Pyramids used to be as white as snow because they were encased in a bright limestone that has worn off over the years.
  5. Every three days a human stomach gets a new lining.

Today's fun facts were provided by the website GreatFacts.com.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shout Out

I just want to send a quick shout out to my Grandma Tellez! 

She was the one who made my new laptop possible when my other one died, and considering I spend all my days on it, it's safe to say I would be nothing without it.  My life begins and ends each day in front of this computer.  So, thanks Grandma!  Once again you have enriched my life with your undying and unwavering support. 

She doesn't really have the opportunity to read my blog, but I thought it was important to give credit where credit is due!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Writing Update

Recently I've been working on the outline for the novel I want to write.  My first novel actually, and while I've had this dream since virtually the day I was born, that's all it's been, a dream.   Well not anymore!  Keeping with the current theme of my life, which is that the years are going to pass regardless, so might as well do something productive with them, I've jumped feet first into the novel I want to write! 

Unfortunately at this stage it's a lot of outlining, character development, story arcs, etc., and actually, not so much writing which is a bummer, considering that's my favorite part.   It's also the part I need to refine and hone into a well crafted art form.  So, I've decided a great way to accomplish this is to enter writing contests.  Usually contests have a theme you have to write around, a word limit, and a deadline.  All things that a professional author would need to be able to do well.  Additionally, I'm coming up with some article ideas to write about, and maybe try to get some freelance work.  That way, not only am I honing my craft, but I'm also making a little extra money too.  The freelance market is very competitive, so I thought I would start out with a few writing contests first, to get my feet wet.

This week I entered my first writing contest!  The contest was sponsored by the blog, The Clarity of Night, who's owner, Jason Evans, is both and an attorney and author, how fitting is that, he's totally got my dream jobs!  The contest will be judged by him and a guest judge, Jaye Wells, who is also an author.  Her debut novel Red-Headed Step Child was released this spring.  Jason provided a picture as the inspiration for this contest, and we were to write a 250 word short story about our inspirations of the picture.  There were 158 total entries, and I was number 158. 

I was really nervous, and quite frankly a little intimidated  to enter because the level of talent of those who entered this contest before me and previous contests is extraordinary!  Despite this, I bit the bullet and took the plunge, and I'm so glad I did!  This was a great experience for me!  First of all, it got me writing, which was the number one goal to begin with, but also because it took me outside my writing comfort zone and challenged me.  In the end I was pretty pleased with the result, although since I submitted it, I've thought of about a hundred different ways I could've improved it and made it so much better, but that happens sometimes.

I'm really happy, and even a little proud of myself for having the nerve to enter this contest and put my writing on display for others (very talented and gifted others at that) to read and critique.  It's sort of a gut wrenching experience to say the least, but if I ever want to have any hope at being a professional writer, I'll have to get used to it.  I'm hoping contests like this will help me in that endeavor. 

I've already found the next contest I'm going to enter, and am actively working on that story as well.   Click here to see my entry in The Clarity of Night "In Vino Veritas (Truth in Wine)" Short Fiction Contest.

Academic Update

Here's where I currently stand in the process of getting back into  school this fall.

  • Kaplan University:  Application submitted.  College transcripts received.  Waiting on high school transcripts.  At this stage in the process I'm ready to see what type of financial aid packages would be available to me here.
  • Walden University:  Application submitted, including goal statement essay.  Just waiting on one of my college transcripts and then my application will be presented to the admissions board.  This is one of the schools that you have to be accepted for admission to enroll.
  • Boston University:  College transcripts have been received.  Waiting on high school transcripts.  Currently working on application, including 500 word personal statement essay.  I couldn't submit my application until my transcripts had been received and evaluated.  I got word two days ago that this step had been completed and I was clear to submit my application.  I plan to have it in by the end of next week, but technically I have until the deadline, July 31st.  This is the other school that requires me to be accepted  for admission to enroll.

I would be truly happy to attend each of these universities.  All of them have something phenomenal to offer in an undergraduate degree program.  Either way, they all start at the end of August or the beginning of September, so one way or another we'll know soon which one it's going to be.  I'll definitely be keeping you posted.

NOTE:  I think it's comical that some schools still require my high school transcripts.  I mean that was just so long ago. 

Charity Update

I've been doing a lot of research on starting a charity and have moved on from the research stage to the doing stage.  I am happy to report that currently I am working on the mission statement for my charity.  The general idea is to donate hand crafted items to hospitals for premature babies, babies born to families struggling financially and oncology units for cancer patients (both young and not as young).  Additionally, I hope to work with other groups such as homeless shelters and battered women's shelters.  Essentially any organizations that assist people in the community who are having a hard time meet their needs.

In a sense the goal is two fold.  One part, donating to hospitals, is to brighten the spirits of those who are enduring serious medical problems or who have a joyous occasion (such as the birth of a baby) but maybe not a lot of money, and so are items could be of use.  The second part, donating to homeless and battered women's shelters, is to help people who find themselves in difficult and financially depressed situations where they may not have enough money or opportunity (in the sense of a woman who had to unexpectedly flee her home due to abuse) to buy the things we could provide.

After much debate, I have decided on a name for my charity.  I'm going to call it With Love.  I think it's simple and encapsulates the idea by which I and any other member of my charity would work under. 

As far as donation go, I plan on donating some obviously, but I also plan on soliciting donations from knit and crochet groups and the crafty individuals in the community.

I plan on making a big donation this fall, but I doubt it will be under the charity name just yet.  After all, setting up this type of organization is nothing if not time consuming.  If that turns out to be the case I will probably donate through one of the crochet or knit groups I belong to. 

If anyone is interested in becoming a part of this project, please don't hesitate to contact me, just use the form on my sidebar or email me directly at glimmergirl77@hotmail.com.

New Crochet Project: Patriotic Dishtowel

 

Patriotic DT 1

Today I finished crocheting this dishtowel.  I'll be honest, I wasn't thrilled with the result, but crocheting with color can often be a process of trial and error.  I'm going to try a different order of the colors and see if that turns out more aesthetically pleasing.  At any rate I used the Lion Brand Cottontail Dishtowel Pattern but used Lily Sugar 'n Cream yarn in Bright Navy, Red, and White. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

Patriotic Cozy

You would not believe how much cozies come in handy here in Hawaii.  Drinking ice tea becomes more of sport than a leisure activity.  Glasses drip with condensation the likes of which this girl from the dry climate of Arizona did not even know were possible, and, don't even get me started on the puddles left behind.  They're the condensation equivalent of the Great Salt Lake, huge but not so much useful.  

Given this environment, cozies have become not just handy, but necessary.  I found a pattern for one on the Lily website that was red, white, and blue, and I couldn't wait to make it.  I love any opportunity to show support for the men and women who serve our country.  Hey, what can I say, I'm totally biased.

RWB Cozy

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hats! Hats! Hats!

I've been pretty busy this past week, but in my free moments I focused on making more preemie hats for the fall donation I'm planning to make.  By the end of the week I had racked up 18!

 DSCI1023

Monday, July 6, 2009

New Crochet Projects

Saturday night I finished a Bubbles Baby Blanket for my niece Tiley.

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I also finished another toddler sunhat.

DSCI0988

I'm going to focus at least the next few weeks finishing my ripple afghan and making preemie and infant baby hats.  The crocheted preemie hats (pictured below) work up really fast--I can have one finished in 15-20 minutes depending on which pattern I'm using.  These are just the hats I've made since Sunday afternoon! 

DSCI1004

I hoping to have a really big donation to give this fall, and with patterns that work up quickly like these, I feel confident that I will be able to accomplish this!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Yoga and Buddha

funny yoga clip art

A few weeks ago, I started doing yoga again.  It was something I used to enjoy tremendously, but for a reason I can't recall, I stopped practicing it regularly.  I began again out of necessity (my back had been really sore and tight), but I continued because of how well it worked for me.  I'm not just talking about how much it's helped my back either; I'm also referring to the very positive, very obvious effect it has had on my psyche.  It never ceases to amaze me how a few controlled and concentrated breaths coupled with specific stretches can have such a completely profound impact on my mental state of mind.  The longer I do it, the more I love it!  It's not largely time consuming and it's certainly not inordinately difficult (at least not at the level I am), but still, it is so effective!  Sometimes I marvel at the simplicity.

One day a short time later, while reading a yoga book to learn new exercises, I came across a small chapter on Buddhism.  It was fascinating!  Buddhism teaches what they call "The Four Noble Truths" and they are:

  1. First Noble Truth: Suffering is an inescapable part of life, and we all suffer fear and pain to some extent.
  2. Second Noble Truth: Suffering is caused by desire and expectation.  For every desire that is satisfied, a new one rises to replace it.
  3. Third Noble Truth: By detaching ourselves from desires, we learn to live in the moment and appreciate the gifts of the present.  The past is gone; the future is yet to be lived.  True happiness is in enjoying the here and now.
  4. Fourth Noble Truth: Following the Eightfold Path leads to the end of suffering.  This is the guidebook for moral living that leads to wisdom.**

The Second Noble Truth is the one that has had the most profound impact on my life.  At the time that I read it I thought it was very interesting, but later that day I began to realize just how true it was and how far reaching this principle applied to life.

Garret and I went to see Transformers 2--great movie by the way.  The movie had just begun, and I dropped some popcorn on my lap.  The last time this happened I walked out of the protective darkness of theater and into the brutal light of the lobby to discover little grease stains all over my jeans.  Wanting to keep this from happening again, I began an intense search of the offending kernels which had now worked their way between my bottom and the seat.  All the while trying to keep the popcorn I still held in one hand from falling and making the situation worse.  So there I am shifting my weight from one leg to the other, trying not to disrupt everyone else's movie viewing experience, still looking for the wayward pieces and attempting to watch the movie at the same time.  The longer I was unsuccessful, the more frustrated I got, and then it hit me:  My desire to keep my clothes stain free was causing me pain and suffering.  It was the Second Noble Truth unfolding right there before me at the 1:40 showing of Transformers 2 in the Mililani Cineplex!  I decided to accept whatever fate my clothes had in store and pay attention to the movie, and an instant feeling of peace washed over me.

buddhism

Since then, I have seen the Second Noble Truth in countless areas and ways in my life.  When they were out of my favorite cereal at the commissary; when I got stuck behind the slowest known driver in the universe; when the Wal-Mart cashier was unbelievably rude to me; when I missed a stitch in the blanket I was crocheting and had to undo several rows to correct it; in all of these circumstances once I recognized it was my desire, want, or expectation that was causing me pain, I simply accepted the circumstance or person as it was and my pain was no more. 

It seems so simple, and yet, just like yoga, it is so effective.  It has  been such a liberating experience and has brought me more peaceful moments during situations that might have otherwise been very stressful.  The next time you're really frustrated with something give it a try and let me know how it works for you.  After all you have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

**From "Yoga Chick - A Hip Guide to Everything Om"

Mexi-Bake Recipe

One evening a few weeks ago, bored with the norm, I concocted a new dinner.  Inspired by missing authentic Mexican food but being limited to what I had available in my pantry, the "Mexi-Bake" as I'm now calling it, was created!  All things considered it turned out pretty well, so I decided to post it here to share.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb browned ground beef
  • 1 packet McCormick Taco seasoning
  • 1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 1 can sliced olives
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 T. butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix browned ground beef and Taco seasoning according to directions on packet.  Combine all ingredients together in greased 13 x 9 baking dish and bake for 45 minutes.

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