Books, Favorites, Important Stuff, Random, Recommendations

Podcast Rec

believed

Y’all know I occasionally do favorite things and recommendations – usually for books and movies.  Today, I’m doing something new. I’m recommending a podcast. I love podcasts. They are great for long commutes and when slugging away on the treadmill or trails.  I wish I could take credit and say I discovered this one on my own.  It was actually rec’ed to me by a dear friend. The podcast is called Believed. You can find it at  michiganradio.org/believed and on the NPR One app, Pocket Casts, Apple Podcasts, and wherever podcasts are available.

I feel I should give you a warning. This is not a feel-good podcast. It’s about the Olympic Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar and the sexual assault cases brought against him nearly a year ago.  I know many of you will shake your head ‘no’ at this discovery and say “no way” but please hear me out. I know many of us are weary about the whole sexual assault ‘Me Too’ movement.  I don’t think this podcast is riding the movements’ coattails. as this case exploded before that movement. For me, the take away for this podcast is to remember sexual assault/harassment can happen anywhere and to anyone and in situations where trust is just a given.

This podcast was a real wake up for me. Even with the “Me Too” movement, we as women tend to forget or bury things even though we’ve all endured something. It might have been something as benign as a creepy teacher that liked to leer at girls with large chests (Yep, that was my school.). Or, it could be something more serious like a hansy boss or a date that ended in rape. We need podcasts like this one to remind us these predatory people will stop at nothing to get what they want.  There are many clowns out there, like Larry Nassar, that have been pulling crap for years and never get caught. They have perfected the cover-up.  They are super slick and hard to catch.  As a parent of a young girl, it was a reminder that even the most trusted adults can be wolves sheep’s clothing. Just because someone holds a position of trust does not mean they are trustworthy.  I urge any parent to listen to this, especially parents of young girls who have close relationships with other adults.

 

 

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Books, Opinon

The Hate U Give

IMG_0889.jpgIt’s been a while since I did a book review so…  I just finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Even though I love young adult literature, I hadn’t heard of this book until I read about it being banned at our old school district.  I don’t believe books should be banned. There is knowledge to be had from the written word even if that knowledge is to shake your head and say, “Damn, that writer is an idiot and this book was trash.” This book is not trash and should be read.

The story revolves around a 16-year-old girl named Starr. She lives in a predominately black community, many would call it the hood.  While going home from a party, Starr and a male friend (both black) are pulled over by a white police officer. The male friend is shot by the police officer. The book details the aftermath of the event, what it means for Starr personally and the community where she lives, and how the homicide is dealt with in the local judicial system.

As you can imagine from my description, this is not a happy, beach read. It’s real, gritty and sometimes hard to take but necessary. Incidentally, I listened to this book rather than reading actual pages and I think listening to it made it that much more real. Even though we are different races, I understood what Starr meant when she spoke of her neighborhood and the people in it.  I could see the run-down neighborhood my grandmother lived in, where I lived until age 6.  In the characters, I saw people I knew from my time there, adults and children from my distant memories. I know of the struggles some of those people have, especially with the police and other authority figures, the preconceived notions on both sides, and how those preconceived notions are tearing those neighborhoods apart.  Much like To Kill A Mockingbird did back in the 60s, this book brings to light some hard truths about race and perception. And like good art/literature should, it provides an opportunity to think about the situation and see it from a different point of view, perhaps even start a conversation.

Photo Credit: The photo above is a screenshot of my Goodreads page. Yes, I gave it 5 stars. I rarely give books 5 stars.

 

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Books

The Devil Made Me Do It

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Devil. (Insert needle being drug across a record sound effect.) I know that seems really odd since we are just days away from celebrating the birth of Jesus.  Don’t think I haven’t noticed that little fact and don’t think I haven’t been mentally saving this blog topic for this particular moment.  Honestly, I’ve been thinking about the Devil for quite a while. Earlier this year, I read the often forgotten C.S. Lewis classic, The Screwtape Letters. If you’ve never read it, here’s the Cliffs Notes version. It’s an exchange of letters between two demons, a senior demon and his nephew, regarding the nephew’s work in bringing down some random guy.  The letters talk about how it’s important to make the random man question his faith and use every day struggles and bad events (like war) to the demon’s advantage. Basically, the demons prey on human nature and even say the path to hell is a slow one and to take advantage of it after all they (the demons) have nothing but time.

Now before I go any further it’s full disclosure time. I’m a Christian. I got to church on a semi basis.  Yes, Annelle I pray. (Steel Magnolias reference) But, I never really talk about my core religious beliefs or religion in general with most people.  I certainly don’t talk about it like some of my friends.  I am in no way disparaging these friends.  They are very secure in their beliefs and I applaud them.  However, to me, religion feels very personal and I feel very weird sharing my views with anyone.  I’d go so far as to say I’d probably walk naked down the street before I spoke about my core religious beliefs.  So, you can see this entry really puts me out of my comfort zone.  Now back to my point, I have often heard my more vocally religious friends say things like, “The Devil is testing me.” I never said anything when I heard this phrase but I never really bought into that belief.  It was always my opinion that the Devil had bigger fish to fry than worry about me, some random lady with no particular influence.  Then I read Screwtape Letters.  It totally shook some of my core beliefs and the way I looked at the world around me.

I started to wonder if all of our petty problems and death by a thousand papercuts moments were really just the Devil trying to drag us down and do bad?  What about war, injustice and the us versus them mentality our country is currently experiencing? Is that the Devil introducing doubt, negative energy, insert favorite adjective here, into our subconscious? Or, is this just the progression of things and life just playing out?  I’ve always believed humans had free will to make our own decisions, both good and bad.  But, what if we really don’t have as much free will as we always believed.  The whole thing is certainly a head scratcher and could be debated for an eternity.
And now back to being days away Christmas. I don’t know about you but I’m not feeling it this year.  I’m not feeling the Christmas spirit and I’m not sure why.  Christmas is my favorite holiday. I have my shopping done. I sent out Christmas cards for the first time since 2011. I put up decorations.  I made the traditional foods.  I watched the shows and movies. And yet, something is missing and still feels off.  My thoughts drifted back to The Screwtape Letters and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all the Devil’s doing or if I was just having an ‘off’ year.  Are you dear reader feeling the same way or is it just me?  Are these feelings just a reaction to so many sad instances of the year (hurricanes, floods, fires, shootings, etc.) or is this something more sinister?  I don’t have an answer.  I suspect much like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop, the world may never know.

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Books

Inspiration through books

I love to read.  It’s one of my favorite hobbies.  I love to share books with others and will do so from time to time on this blog. For the last six years every Wednesday I have volunteered at my kids school library.  I didn’t do it because I wanted to be close to my kids. In fact, I’ve always taken a shift when I knew they wouldn’t be around because I knew they would just act up if they saw me.  I volunteer because I’m a frustrated librarian or English teacher.  I love when a child finds a book that just speaks to them, when a struggling reader finally “gets it” and when a child asks me for a recommendation. Watching those moments unfold fills me with indescribable joy.  Had I known this a million years ago when I was in college, I probably would have chosen a different major. But, I digress. [Whispers – That happens a lot.]

I recently read two books that sort of served as an inspiration or catalyst for this blog.  They are The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison and What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey.   Both of these books deal with coming to realizations, being your best self, following your own path and for me, a woman over 40, having a midlife crisis.  These books are filled with amazing insight and tiny moments of clarity or as Oprah calls them “Ah ha moments”.  Some of the greatest lessons for me were centered around not waiting on the perfect opportunity and asking oneself if there was nothing to fear from following your dreams would you still do it.  Everyone stop what you are doing and let that last one sink in.  Here, I’ll just type it again for emphasis.  If you weren’t afraid of anything (specifically failure) would you do it?  Can you imagine?  That was huge for me.

I recently decided I was tired of not having a paying job and I wanted to re-enter the workforce.  But, here’s the deal, for my family situation, I wasn’t so sure I could pull off a traditional, outside the home 9 to 5 gig and who would want me.  I have been out of the workforce for years.  I couldn’t go back to what I used to do before kids.  My hours were insane.  I didn’t want to work retail, at least not yet, so I looked into some work from home opportunities.  Most of these aren’t working out for various reasons which I won’t go into at this time.  I was and continue to be REALLY frustrated. Then I had a hair brained idea. I could blog or vlog or something social media. The idea was and still is a jumble but it was there just percolating in my brain along with the other 10,000 ideas I get everyday. A blog sort of makes sense. I have always loved to write. I enjoyed writing papers in school.  For many years I made my living writing press releases and doing marketing, PR and fund raising for various non profit organizations. Then life happened and the most I wrote was a grocery list or a Facebook post.  Because of my lack of practice, my grammar is atrocious.  Readers please forgive me; I’m working on it.  I broke out my Harbrace the other day.  My 11th grade English teacher would bleed all over my posts – yeah I’m looking at you Mr. Rummage.  Believe me grammar is not like riding a bicycle.  One really does forget where to put that comma, semicolon and parentheses.

Anyway… My friends have been encouraging me for years to write a book or a blog or have a public access show or basically anything that would require me to open mouth or put pen to paper.  They say I’m funny (I think I’m weird).  They say I have a lot to say (I do).  They say I have interesting perspectives (that’s debatable).  They say I don’t give myself enough credit (do any of us?).  So yeah, this is me following a dream. Well, more like a hairbrained Lucy and Ethel scheme, but I doing something.  I’m writing.  I’m being heard.  If for some reason this gets seen by some lovely person who wants to give me a paying gig for voicing my opinions then fantastic let’s talk.  I may add a vlog at some point but to be honest I am NEVER camera worthy.  I habitually look homeless. Who knows, maybe I will build a Patreon account.  For those of you who have never heard of Patreon it’s a funny little beast.  Basically, Patreon is a crowd funding site for bloggers, vloggers and artist types.  You give them money and you become their patron. It’s like tipping your server or commissioning art or putting a dollar in a stripper’s thong.  Same same but different.  I could be internet famous.  Or, I could just be screaming drivel from the rooftops to no one in particular.  Either way, I’m taking a leap and time will tell if I will soar or crash.

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