Give Yourself a Break

I took a mini blog-cation around the end of March in a last ditch effort to finish up some writing. I didn't actually get that much writing done, but the break was nice. It was a good reminder of something I lose track of all the time:

Breaks are good for you!

In our busy, busy world with our busy, busy lives, it's easy to forget to give yourself a moment. We're constantly running on deadlines, goals, and expectations. Have to get to work on time, must finish that paper, remember to pick the kids up. There's almost always something we feel we have to be doing or should be doing, and let's face it, there's just NOT ENOUGH TIME in the day.

And that's why breaks are important. If you're running all the time, you're going to run yourself into the ground. You'll lose sight of the point, of what's important. You'll probably even forget to enjoy doing the things you like to do.

Breaks let you rest and reflect. How else are you going to get perspective if you don't step away for a bit?

These recent breaks I took reminded me why breaks are awesome.

  •  Rock Band break: I bought Rock Band 2 a few months ago, but house-remodeling and cleaning made it impossible to play at home. Also, we didn't much feel like it. A few weeks ago, we played and it was super, super fun. The long break, plus the new game (which allowed band customizations), renewed our love for the game. Oh and our band, Mit Hutten, is awesomesauce (at least on the medium level).
  • Writing break: After my failed attempt to make my April resolution writing deadline, I took a break from it. Plus, there were Real Life distractions as well. As with many long breaks, it was hard to get back on board with writing. However, when I finally started working on my WIP again, it felt great and I started to feel really excited about it again.
  • Reading break: I've been reading a lot of YA fantasy/paranormal romance, and I've enjoyed it. Still, after a while, you lose the sense of excitement and newness since you come to expect that certain things will happen. Gayle Forman's If I Stay was a breather. Yeah, it's got a bit of the paranormal (in premise), and okay, there's some romance too, but it was more of a contemporary, literary YA read. It was a different kind of story, not to mention beautifully written. I loved it, and it also made me eager to get back to the other books - mostly YA fantasy and/or paranormal - I had lined up. Included among these books was the rest of the Gemma Doyle trilogy. I had been eager to read them, but with all the fantasy-ish stuff I'd been reading, plus the huge book sizes, I felt a little burned out and daunted. After my break, I was ready to go, and I have since finished the trilogy.
So next time you feel totally stressed out or pooped out, stop. Breathe and cut yourself some slack! One of the best things I learned in my Meditation class is that sometimes, you have to just banish everything else and BE in the moment. Trust me, you'll feel refreshed afterward.

Have you taken any breaks lately? What did you do or NOT do? How did you feel about it?


    Quarter Progress Report: Resolutions 2010

    Time is flying! I just wish it would fly through the weekdays a little faster and slow the heck down on the weekends. Two days is not enough!

    In any case, it's time again to grade myself on my 2010 Writing/Reading-related resolutions. Here goes!

    1. Writing habits/schedule: I was doing rather well for maybe a month. I got in a bit of writing before bed almost every day. Sadly, this has gone on the wayside of late. Grade: D-

    2. Solaris short stories: I'm not even going to go into this. Grade: F / I F because I was supposed to finish 2 by April, but I instead started a whole new one sometime in February (or was it March?). The Incomplete is because all of them are incomplete.

    3. 2009 NaNo Story: I put this on hold in order to work on the short stories, which really, I'm no good at. Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through this. Anyway, despite actual NaNo writing being on hold, I did manage to strain out a semblance of a plot from the tangle of plot threads that I had. Thanks to Luce, I now have a general framework up through the climax. Unfortunately, I also have a secondary POV to consider. Eep! Grade: B-

    4. Write down ideas: Not much ideas, but I did write out loose NaNo outline and some other bits and pieces. So yay! Grade: C

    5. Blog more: Other than my mini-vacation, I've been pretty on top of it! I'm kind of impressed. I was even going twice a week for a bit. Much of this has to do with you, the lovely people who stop by. Thanks for keeping me on point! :) Grade: B+

    6. Read more: So back at the beginning of February, I thought I was going to burn out, BUT I HAVEN'T! I have slowed down my reading somewhat, and I cut down my library queue to give myself more time and less pressure. It's been great. I'm rather proud of myself on this one. Grade: A+

    So what is that? One point five broken resolutions? Not bad, not bad.

    What does YOUR quarterly progress report look like? Have any new resolutions? Any tips for how you stay on top of your goals?


    Library Appreciation Week!

    This week is National Library Appreciation Week!

    I have many fond memories of my local library. Back in high school, I was part of the Library Youth Committee, which basically meant I sat around with my friends once every few weeks in a meeting room at the library and brainstormed ideas for the library newsletter. The newsletter was called Books and Beyond, and I'm sure it had some gems in it. So I had planned on sharing some of those gems, but as with many plans, it has gone awry - namely, I can't find my copies. Insert Fail!Whale here.

    So instead, I will share a few library-related memories.

    When I was little, I wandered through the shorter aisles of the children's section. I was a browser then, as I am now, and I chose based on my fancy. There were a few books I checked out over and over again like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I only ever wandered over to the "grown-up" section of the library to check out non-fiction books on animals. I remember one book I loved in particular. It was a book of animals in alphabetical order, but all the pictures were beautifully illustrated. Knowing I would have to return this beloved book, I made my dad redraw my favorite illustrations.

    I practically lived in the mythology aisle (not quite enough books to call it a section) at one point. I was mostly interested in Greek, though I dabbled in a bit of Norse and Egyptian. There was a point when I'm sure I read every single Greek myth book my library had. It didn't matter that by then I'd read many of the myths related in those books multiple times.

    The YA section has grown so much since back then. It's decorated with hand-drawn posters, and it's expanded enough to include manga. It's like a little slice of Borders.

    Plus, the county libraries have a really easy system for searching and requesting books online. It's awesome, and it has made it so much easier to feed my book whims. This glorious system is what gave me a bunch of the great books I've recently read. Many of these books are pretty new, and I likely wouldn't have read as many of them if I didn't have this convenient, easy system at my disposal because I don't have that much room in my house to buy and keep that many books.

    What are your memories of the library? How much do you appreciate libraries?

    You can check out how others are celebrating the awesomeness that is libraries at Market My Words.


    Mind the Gap

    It's Friday, which means I get free reign to be as random as I want! Of course, since I was looking forward to randomosity all week, I ended up with a real theme for this Friday's 5. I was inspired by a Nathan Bransford post about "gap" books. Basically, "gap" books/shows/etc. are things that everyone and their mom has read/watched/etc. - and indeed they're probably part of our cultural fabric by now - but somehow you haven't acquainted yourself with them yet. So my 5 this week will be about the "gaps" in various aspects of my experience.

    1. Books I haven't read (childhood/YA edition): The Phantom Tollbooth, Catcher in the Rye, The Giver, Peter Pan, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass (I know, I know...) A Wrinkle in Time, Lord of the Flies, Charlotte's Web (I saw the animated movie?), NONE of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie books.
    • Roald Dahl books - I might've read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in class, but maybe I just saw the movie (both of them). So I can't really say.
    • I think I read one Baby Sitter's Club book, if that counts? I've also got 2.5 books out of the Chronicles of Narnia.

    2. Books I haven't read (classics edition): A lot of Shakespeare but notably Macbeth, NO Hemingway whatsoever, Slaughterhouse Five
    • The Iliad - I know, I know. It's utterly shameful, considering my great and unabiding love for Greek mythology. I've read the Odyssey like a million times, but not this one. I don't know why!
    • I've read 1.5 books of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    3. Movies I have not seen: The Godfather, The Shining, The Goonies, Miracle on 34th Street, The Breakfast Club, Breakfast at Tiffany's, none of the Rocky movies.
    • I don't think I've ever seen an entire Hitchcock film either - just bits and pieces - but I don't like horror movies anyway. I always want to know what happens, but I can't really take sitting through them.

    4. TV shows I haven't/don't watch: LOST, The Office, American Idol, never watched any Star Trek TV episode from any of the series.

    5. Childhood games/toys I haven't played: Chess, checkers, Magic the Gathering, Pokemon (when this craze hit, I'm might've been a little old for it), Slip n' Slide (probably because I have a pool...and a real slide)
    • I played with a Skip-It a couple of times, but I always really wanted one.

    So there it is. At least, that's all I can think of right now. What are your gaps?

    P.S. Look what I got in the mail this week!!!

    Actually, it's been sitting on my desk in an UNOPENED white envelope for most of the week because I thought it was a book my sister had ordered for school. I know, big fail on my part. Also, the picture is flipped so that the words read the right way. :P

    It's my copy of Joy Preble's Dreaming Anastasia that I won from the lovely LiLa last month! That's their snazzy LIAR SOCIETY authoresses calling card included in the book. :D Thanks, LiLa! Speaking of, have you entered their totally epic contest yet?

    Happy Weekend!


    April brings Awesomeness

    I'm back from my mini-blog break! Did I finish any stories? No, BUT the end of March was awesomesauce! I celebrated some dear friends' birthdays, and uh, I gave up much needed sleep after a late night out to picnic in OK Go's next music video. I KID YOU NOT. It is surreal to me. Good thing I have pictures to prove it.

    I have to thank my sister for her fangirlish tendencies (no wonder we're sibs) and telling me to not-be-such-a-grandma and to trade sleep for a rare opportunity. SO WORTH IT. I realize suddenly that last time I broke a resolution was for an OK Go concert. Hmm.

    That awesomeness aside, I have more to share!

    The fabulous and hilarious Lisa and Laura are holding an EPIC contest to celebrate their 500+ followers!!! Check out LiLa's Totally Epic 500 Followers Contest to see what the amazing prizes are and to place your bets! What? Did I forget to mention the premise of the contest is an ARM-WRESTLING match between the sisters?

    See, I told you it was awesome.

    Anyway, with the weather warming, my mood is lifting as well. I feel a new determination to work on the resolutions I've been failing at. So expect a Resolution Progress Report soon, along with some brief book reviews. In March I finished ArchEnemy and Soulless, and I finished If I Stay this weekend. I'm currently a little over 100pgs into the next Gemma Doyle book, Rebel Angels.

    Alz and I are also thinking about doing a character interview, but we'll have to see who we can persuade or coerce into obliging us.

    Spring has put a bounce in my step. Has it done the same for you?