Repeat After Me

It’s easy for us to get bogged down with things that don’t matter. In all honesty, I know it’s the reason why I had a tough time in 2018. Finding a balance between life, family, and self-care has always been a daunting task. The trick is to not only declutter our own spaces, but also our day to day activities. If you know what your priorities are, it will be easy to have a structure in your schedule. But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about the things that I need to remember so I can avoid having a repeat of 2018. I’ve been blogging since 2011, and every year I worry about the little things that deter me from enjoying my hobbies again. Things like book review deadlines, acquiring the latest hyped-up book, hauling books every week just so I can show everyone my recent acquisitions. And most of all, I got caught up with comparing my reads, my followers, my popularity with everybody else. Last year, it got to a point when I would go for weeks at a time without checking my blog. All because with every day that passed by without a post, the heavier I felt about it all. So I just ignored it all together.

Somehow, I lost sight of what it means to have an outlet for my thoughts, opinions, and emotions. I may know a few people who are just as crazy about books as I am, but they’re far and few in between. My blog, besides being an outlet for my opinions, is also a way for me to reach out to the world and connect. And even if my blog is tiny, somewhere out there, it will find a way to someone beyond the far reaches of my imagination.

  • My blog is a hobby.

It’s a place of creation; a place where my mind gives birth to something spontaneous, and even artistic. Ideas that are not forced. Ideas that come as naturally as breathing. It’s also a place where ideas can die but in a natural progression as in life. And that’s okay and perfectly acceptable. Above all else, it’s a hobby. One that I should enjoy and not treat as an obligation.

  • I cannot/will not apologize.

Sometimes, we get caught up in pleasing others or fitting in with the majority that we lose sight of who we are. It’s the same thing when we review books. Don’t apologize for your opinions. Don’t get into the habit of looking over your shoulders to see what everyone else is doing. YOU DO YOU.

  • R E S P E C T

Respect others as you would respect yourself. And the only way to do that is to be honest with yourself and your audience. Take pride in what you do but never ridicule others for their choices and opinions.

  • You are not in a race/competition.

Envy is a deadly sin. One that prevents us from enjoying what we love: reading. Forget about the bloggers that are getting ARCs and new books left, right and centre. Worry about the books that are left unattended on your shelves. Compete against yourself. Beat your previous goals. Challenge yourself to read books that you wouldn’t otherwise read. But don’t give in to pressure. Don’t let anybody else dictate what you should read.

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At Home: Achieving the Boho Style

I’m one of those people who’s not a fan of going stagnant when it comes to the decor of my house. So every Spring, my home goes through a transformation of sorts. I tend to drive my family crazy with the whirlwind of cleaning and rearranging to achieve the kind of look I want. This year, I opted for the style of the moment: Bohemian Chic. At first, I was a little hesitant to make the change because everything was about minimalism in my house last year. And to achieve the boho chic decor, you must shed your inhibition towards contrasting colours and textures; filling your rooms with house plants, and woven knick-knacks on every available surface of your house.

CONTRAST

Both my couches are now littered with pillows featuring a variety of colours and vintage-looking prints of varying patterns. Anything that offers a contrast to the overall appearance of a room got me one step closer to joining the Bohemian movement. Persian rugs are also a must. Unfortunately, they cost a lot of money. But if you try your luck at IKEA, they have some great ones that are inexpensive. Of course, having vintage rugs are optimal. But I can barely afford a runner so I’m saving up for when I can get a big rectangular one that can over a wide area in my living room.

PATTERNS, TEXTURES, & FRINGES

On my thrifting weekends, my eyes are always peeled to textiles and blankets. They may look like eyesores now but when they’re properly mixed with the overall aesthetic of your house, it works.

So yes, my house is an ever-changing landscape. I’m never satisfied with how it looks. Who knows what I would be into in the summer? What about you? Do you get bitten by the decorating bug quite often? What’s your style like? Come back next time for more about this Bohemian chic style. But for a few ideas about it, here are a few Instagram accounts that I follow:

@sub_folk_collective

@thisthriftedabode

@labohemehouseofthewishingtrees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Comment Section


Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

(From A Psalm of Life, Henry Wordsworth Longfellow)

This is Longfellow basically telling y’all that life is short so don’t waste it. Yesterday, I found myself engaging in a debate on social media again. Sometimes, I get by with a shrug of my shoulder and move on. But there are times when I let it get to me. Yesterday was the latter. Which sucks because it ruins my day completely. Do you remember when you started caring about politics? I was thinking about that on Sunday when I was strolling the aisles of the grocery store. I remember going to Arizona with my hubby years ago and engaging with the service car driver about American politics. Fortunately for me, we shared the same opinions. Her son was serving in the military and was gay. (I was surprised when she shared this to me as well). Her family was happy that President Barrack Obama was pursuing the elimination of “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” rule. I don’t really remember how we got started talking about politics, to be honest. Anyway, just a great example of why we shouldn’t readily dismiss a person because of their political opinions. You don’t know who’s behind the keyboard or their motivation as to why they voted one way or another.

I think it was Lin-Manuel who said as a reminder to “not get stuck in the comment section of your daily life”. And the worst way to do that is to waste a beautiful day in a war of words with some unknown person hundreds of miles away from you.

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Life Lately

Hello, Readers.

I turned 43 last Saturday. Instead of a big birthday bash (which never happens, anyway. Lol.), I opted to drag my family to my city’s contribution to the Resistance. Winnipeg Walk for Human Rights’ main purpose was to let the world know that our city, our province, our country is open to everyone. It was also our way of walking hand in hand with our Muslim brethren especially in light of what happened in Quebec. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate the country where I live in right now. We are progressive and our sitting provincial administration, though, Conservatives still care about the very foundation this country on which it was built.

I was sure that I would get grief from my family for marching in below 10-degree weather, but actually, they expressed their gratitude for having “forced” them to go. It’s great to be out and be a part of the community for once and ever since then, my husband and I have been talking about politics more and more. I greatly appreciate this newfound point of interest because the last year and a half or so had been frustrating for me. Literally no one in my family wanted to talk about politics so I have been involved in way too many social media debates which weren’t fun at first because I was letting it get to me. Nowadays, I’ve developed a much thicker skin so trolls don’t bother me anymore.

This is me. I didn’t have a pink toque (beanie, for you Americans) so this is my version of it. I did wear a bright pink scarf, though. The walk wasn’t very far but it was certainly a cold day. And then afterwards, my husband took me to the bookstore for my birthday treat. I picked up quite a few books which I will share on my Hoarders post sometime next week.

The walk was great. I was mostly in a reflective mood. I was able to think about how different this birthday has been for me in comparison to the previous ones I’ve had. I’ve matured in some ways and regressed in some and I’m okay with that because it’s me, all me and I don’t have to be sorry for anything. I’m looking forward to what life has in store for me.

Come at me, bro.

 

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When Everything Else Becomes Insignificant

img_2504I’m sure a lot of us have been trying to come to terms with the outcome of the US’ presidential election. Some of you are probably jubilant that your candidate won. For the rest of us, however, it will probably take a bit of time (and therapy). And I know it’s hard – especially to the Americans who knew what was at stake going into the polls. So as we slowly – painstakingly find out how this election will shape history for the future generation, it’s hard not to feel anything else but fear and worry. It’s difficult to give him a chance when the people he is surrounding himself with are people whose beliefs are based on the exact things we’ve opposed him to begin with.

As a woman, and one who has followed Hillary’s career as a politician, I’m devastated. She has given me so much hope and courage to never settle, never give up and to keep fighting. Now more than ever, I’m reminded of all the ways her character has been unjustly assassinated during the course of her political life. Before she was the governor’s wife, she stood in the face of patriarchy and would continue to struggle to find her place in a world full of men who are uncomfortable with what she stands for. I, however, will always know her for the woman who fights for the children; for a charitable organization who continues to help the poor and the sick. For the environment; for the racial, social, and gender inequalities of the world.

 I will never forget what I learned in the last two years. I will never forget the hate and the ignorance. I will never forget the anger and the intolerance. I will never forget the lies and the manipulation. I will never forget to hope and be courageous. Most of all, I will never forget what she’s taught me and my daughter about a woman’s rightful place in this world.

Thank you, Hillary.

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Life Lately

Today, I thought I’d give you guys a break from my usual book reviews. I’m sure you’re tired of reading my nonsense, so what’s a better way than to chronicle my life outside of blogging by showing you pictures from my iPhone? I mean, I know I’m not going to be able to avoid posting pictures without any books in the background because it’s virtually impossible. There are books on every surface of my house, especially in my bedroom. Case in point: this stack of books beside my bedside table. I like that I can go to any random rooms and pick up a random book to read. Unless of course, I’m in the midst of a very good book, in which case, that book will be attached to me like an extra limb. What about you? Are books taking over your house?

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Last Sunday was Father’s Day. I posted this picture on my Instagram account wishing every dad and single moms out there who are doing their thing day in and day out. My husband is a goofy dad. He hangs out with my kids any chance he gets. He’s hilarious and fun, but he’s also a disciplinarian. The kids know when it’s time to get serious.  Now that my boy is involved in baseball, they’ve been spending more time together. I like that they have this thing together so I try not to encroach. I don’t even watch his games and go to his practice. Is that bad? This picture was taken when we went to Hawaii 6 years ago. I can’t believe my boy is 9 now and my daughter is turning 15 on Saturday. Time sure is getting away from me.

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I don’t know why we did this at the end of the school year. But we got his eye checked a couple of weeks ago and found that he really needs glasses. His eyes are worse than his dad’s. I asked the optometrist if it was because of the hand-held devices he’s into but apparently, bad eyesight is hereditary.  My daughter wears glasses, too. And she’s at -5.00 grade. So they blame me. *sobs*

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Life Lately

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Good News

Well, I found a job! I’m so glad my job search is over, guys. It’s been a difficult couple of months and all I have to say is, thank the good Lord above. 🙂 I have made a promise to myself to persevere, work hard, and enjoy this position because it could open up doors for me. It’s only a term of one year, but who knows what will happen, right? I just want to put all the bad things of the last couple of months behind me.

Blisters, Bussing, and Fitbit

The job is downtown and since the parking costs an arm and a leg, I decided to start taking the bus instead. My feet are covered in blisters because the bus stop is a bit of a walk (15 minutes from my house and another 15 to get to my place of employment from the bus stop downtown). But the best thing about taking the bus is that it gives me a bit of time to read and the walking helps me reach my 10K steps goal per day. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted but happy and relieved that I’m my own person again.

Missing in Action

Sorry for the lack of posts, guys. Like I said, I barely have enough energy by the time I drag my carcass home. I’m sure it’s only temporary. I just need to give my body some time to adjust to all these activities. Also, I need to find comfortable shoes! Today, I wore one of those Skechers memory foam walking shoes, but it still gave me blisters. Gah.

Moving Out

Like I mentioned last week, we started emptying out the cabin. *sad panda face* So this weekend, that’s what we’re doing. I’ll try to write some when I have the time this weekend, but I’m not making any promises. I tried to catch up on Bloglovin’ posts last night, but I only managed to read two-days’ worth of posts. I’ve got Monday’s and Sunday’s and Saturday’s to get through yet, so bear with me. That’s it for now, I think. I just want to give you guys a quick update in case you send out a search party for me. Lol.

Happy reading, y’all!

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A LIFE MINIMIZED: UNSEEN CLUTTER

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Clutter is not just physical things that constantly bog us down in our daily lives. It also comes from different sources that hinder us from having a clearer view of what’s important. Today, I’d like to talk about the clutter that we don’t see but have become blinders that we’re not aware of.

Sometimes, you have to take a look around at the people you surround yourself and figure out the role they play in your life. Just to be clear, people are not things. You can’t just get rid of them just because they disagree with your lifestyle, religion and politics. Personally, I actually find it fruitful when I engage someone in a debate about what they’re passionate about.  I don’t necessarily discount their thoughts right away but I try to find what I could take away from our discussion.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the people whose first instinct is to put other people down. I know a few. But just because I figured out who they were, does not necessarily mean I’ll ask them to make an exit out of my life. When I decided to take stock of who I am, I figured out that I let so many things and so many people control the person that I was supposed to be. And when I realize that only I have the power to steer this ship, I’ve come to realize that I can control how I react to the negative thoughts that are constantly bombarding me on a daily basis. In the same token, I can control how another person’s words affect me. I am allowed to feel hurt, but if I choose to wallow, then I’m giving it the power to turn into a festering wound.

When we’ve been hurt by someone close to us, our first recourse is to tell anyone with an empathic ear in the hopes that they’ll side with us. But the problem with that is we create a vacuum of hurt by involving people that had nothing to do with the problem to begin with. It doesn’t solve anything but only adding fuel to the fire. So the next time you hear a gossip or a negative remark about you, talk to that person directly. Don’t start a cloud of drama that will only worsen as more indirect people get involved.

It’s an odd thing to have all these time in my hands. But it sure is nice to be listening to myself and my thoughts for once. I’m not  thinking about deadlines and things I have to do for somebody else. The break sure is nice, but once in a while, I let the worry creep in.

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Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 174

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Black Apple by Joan Crate | The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky | Black Apple by Joan Crate


FIRST THINGS FIRST

I would like to thank HBG Canada and Simon and Schuster Canada for these review copies.

Dear Life, You Suck

I sure hope you all had a better week than I did because I’m not gonna lie, life just kicked the living shit out of me this week. I was unexpectedly let go from my job for reasons that didn’t make any sense to me. If it was a book, it would’ve been littered with plot holes. In all honesty, I feel betrayed and completely devastated because I never saw it coming. I was there for three months and in those three months, I was praised, given a hefty raise and made to feel like I was set for life. They made me feel like I was the best thing since sliced bread. On Friday, I got a call first thing in the morning and was told that the partners have decided I’m not the kind of person they see to help them move the company in the direction they want. It was a rough week to begin with bookended by this unexpected bad news.

But I’m not the type of person to dwell. So after a good cry, I went job hunting right away. I sent my resumes out and have already gotten a couple of prospects. The problem is, this devastation have taken a toll on me. I feel like no matter how hard I work or how much I gave, it’ll never be enough. I’LL NEVER BE ENOUGH. Going for job interviews is hard. My anxiety level goes through the roof. But I can’t not work. And so I must do it.

Sorry for my absence.

I’m sorry for not being around this past week. Like I said, it was a bad week so I was not able to write any posts. At least I was able to do my rounds yesterday, so in that aspect, I’m caught up. I turned 42 on the 4th. I went on a date with my husband and have managed to eat dinner sans my iPhone. That’s a first.

On Audio, Net Galley

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Thanks to Net Galley and Loveswept for my copy of Worth it All. I follow very few romance series out there and The McKinney Brothers is one of them. I read and enjoyed this installment, though not as strongly as the first book.

Audible had a first in the series sale a couple of weeks ago that I simply could not pass up. I heard The Passage (5 Stars) and Hounded (4 Stars) the last two weeks and have enjoyed them immensely. The Passage was insane, you guys. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to add it to your MUST READ SERIES. I have no words how amazing it was! Hounded has been on my radar forever and a day. I snapped it up and heard it immediately. It was as everyone claimed it to be: FANTASTIC. I can’t wait to dive into the next book!

Anyway, sorry this was a bit longer than normal, and thanks for reading – as always.

xoxo

Joy

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Merry Christmas!

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Hello, dear readers!

I just want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope you’ll enjoy your time with your family and friends. For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, I wish you, and yours  a Happy Holidays!

It’s been such a great year. 2015 is the year that I can truly say the most fun I’ve had on the blog. I figured out what I needed to do to make it less of a job and more of a really fulfilling hobby. I realize that I need not sweat the small stuff and not care too much about popularity and numbers. I created less pressure for myself and figured out the importance of reciprocating. I appreciate every single one of you, my loyal readers.

I’ll be back in the New Year armed with positivity and hope that I can do better.

Happy reading, and I love you all!

 

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