A Stiff Drink………and Chocolate

Navigating Daily Life, One Step at a Time…

Rigidity…..Our Downfall.

I wrote this as a Facebook status today and I thought it ideal to also share here. In the light all that is going on, I thought it relevant.

What have I learned recently? That people who have rather strong (and extreme) opinions absolutely refuse to see the other side even when that side is presented rationally, respectfully and logically. They refuse to think that there might be another way, or that their opinion may not be factual or accurate to the situation. In the last 24 hours I have had my humanity insulted, been told to Eff off by someone who has formed an opinion of me solely based on my response to one post.

This is what I feel is currently wrong with our country. People refuse to educate themselves. They refuse to see past their own noses. They refuse to have polite, respectful DEBATE; to even consider something other then their own.

We don’t have to agree. I want you to debate with me. Make me think. Make me consider if what I feel, believe and opinionate on is accurate. I’m not going to follow blindly. I’m going to listen (so long as, again, you’re respectful and can give me valid, verifiable details) and I’m going to try to see your side. I might even be able to and STILL disagree. What’s great about that? Its how we move forward instead of remaining in the past.

But the minute you reduce your conversation to insults, expletives purely for the sake of said insults, I’m done. The minute I realize that no matter what data I give you, particularly when it is verifiable data, you are still going to hold fast to how I’m wrong and why you’re right. We’re done. At that point it becomes pointless because you refuse to change or be flexible.

We, as a society, have grown rigid and that can (and will) be exploited.

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Voice…

There are many ways to use your voice. The most obvious is to speak or sing. Discussion, hopefully civil, leads to understanding and hopefully growth both for yourself and for those with whom you choose to share those thoughts and sounds with.

 

Voice can also mean texts. How often in this day and age do we forgo the use of the phone (what it’s primary directive is technically supposed to be) for text speak and interaction? Being able to text someone, for whatever reason, is not only less intrusive, but EASY. We can put it out there and they can either respond or not as they see fit.

Voice can also mean what we share online. Whether it’s benign or caustic, whether it’s a tweet, a Facebook status update, an Instagram picture or whatever other new form of social media interaction is bound to come along, what we share online is also our voice. The downfall here is that we can mask our true voice so exceptionally easily if we choose to and there are many that do in favor of living out some form of alternate reality. I do my best, personally, to be unapologetically me regardless where I am.

 

But more importantly in this day and age (and in light of recent events) using your voice means speaking out about the causes you object to and supporting those that you do. I am finding myself, more and more, becoming actively vocal on the issues that matter to me. But I also accept and realize that part of that involvement means I have to not only vote more (particularly at the local level) but also reach out to those who are my elected officials, even if they are part of an opposing party, to fill them in on what I desire as one of their constituents.

Our Constitution was created with the idea that every person (and we can obviously argue what the term “person” meant in 1776) participate in their government. Yes, we were substantially smaller both geographically as well as population wise but that document, along with the Declaration of Independence, was constructed to ensure that those rights be inalienable – unable to be taken away from or given away.

 

But they knew then that in order for this American Experiment to work and be successful, we ALL had to partake of it which includes our civic duty to understand the documents, to understand our part in the larger picture and to utilize our resources (our elected officials) to the best of their (and our) abilities.

I have become far more critical and vocal about a number of issues lately, particularly our government but we also need to be critical of ourselves as a people and as what we were intended to be – the ruling body.

Let us not forget that. Let us teach our children the importance of that. Let us use our voice – regardless what your political beliefs are, to participate in this experiment and be an active, involved and most importantly EDUCATED part of our country. Let us reach our to our elected officials through all means possible – phone, written word, social media, etc. and demand that they do their jobs to work for us (regardless religion, political party, socioeconomic status, gender, or otherwise). Without us, the experiment dies and we will degrade into that which We The People fear the most…..a “government” of extremists, oligarchs, dictators and religious zealots.

Use your voice.

Use.

Your.
Voice.

Restarting and Expansion

I’ve decided to restart this blog for a few reasons. I’ve been primarily blogging (when time allows) on my goth-centered, pop-culture type blog over at Professional Goth. But I’m finding, more and more, that though I have more lighthearted thing I want to promote there, particularly with aesthetic and pop-culture, I have also wanted to use my voice more with world events and things going on that are more of a heavy conversation. That just doesn’t fit there, but I think here it will do nicely. An area for growth, introspection and tackling of the topics that we generally prefer to avoid.

So let us begin.

I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. That the world as a whole swings like a pendulum between the grand and the horrific. We are human, after all and generally prone to the same fallacies, hubris and ego as well as the redemption, heroics and virtues. That also means that we will continually, collectively, stand at a crossroads. I believe we are there now. I believe that this generation, like the ones that have come before it, stands at the precipice of decision to who they are going to be. It’s a scary place for many. I know I, myself, am at best apprehensive and at worst terrified of what the next decade, the next 25, the next 50 years of my life will hold based on the decisions that are being made now.

It has become apparent that we need to stand up, raise our voices and take an active part on what is going on around us. Failure to do so, and to educate ourselves (on BOTH SIDES of any issue) so that we can make that educated choice means that we are complicit in what those outcomes will be – for good or ill. The scariest part, for me, is which side has the most movement and participation.

Moving forward, I can hope to provide those arguments, those viewpoints, those insights here for other of like-mindedness to appreciate and those of opposing-mindedness to ponder.

I will appreciate fact-driven, fact-proven discussion on what I post here regardless of what side it happens to be on. I will also require respect and an open-mind on both sides. Those that refuse to participate under those guidelines will be removed or blocked. You can have an opposing view, and I encourage that as it is from what opposition that education can be obtained. But, the whole point is to open dialogue and discussion. Disrespect, vitriol, malice – these will not be tolerated. Look at it like you are visiting someone’s home and are participating in a discussion within that house. This is my house. You may not agree with me and I’m alright with that. But you will be respectful, and all claims need to be substantiated with fact-driven proof. Opinions need to be promoted as such, as I will do as well.

 

 

 

 

 

The Internet is My Education

When I was in high school, I had accepted my fate as a high school graduate and nothing more. I had lost the love of school, something I had while in elementary school living in Massachusetts in the 1980’s, but something I had lost upon moving to Florida. You see, when I was in school up north, I recall the teachers being engaged, excited and there were smaller class sizes. I can vividly recall in third grade having a class where everyone was assessed their current learning level and broken into groups based on that level – some were diamonds, some were hearts, some were clubs, etc. When we needed to work on a particular subject like math or reading, we were broken up into our respective groups and we were taught together while the remainder of the class worked on other topics like art, social studies, etc. In this manner, the students were all integrated and we all learned the same things by the end of the year, but we learned it in the manner and pace which suited us. This wasn’t so in Florida. You were put in a class and that was that. Too bad, so sad if you didn’t catch on or couldn’t keep up with everyone else – you were left to your own devices. It was a whole different ball game, but one that I had little to no interest in playing.

So, by the time I got to high school I knew I wasn’t going to be going to college. My family was not one of financial means though we were able to keep ourselves clothed, fed and solid roof over our heads. I didn’t grow up with the latest and greatest all the time and brand names certainly weren’t something I developed an affinity for surely based out of the fact that I never got to wear them. I’m also of the generation where parents didn’t save for their children’s education like is common now among the Millennial’s or Generation Z were fortunate enough to have. Paying for college ourselves simply wasn’t going to be a viable option. Grades wise, due to my disinterest in most classes by the time I reached high school, I was doing well enough to pass and get by, and certainly in the subjects I enjoyed (which tended to be centered on artistic and creative courses like photography, choir and yearbook staff) I excelled at. But being a solid B/C student meant I would graduate, but I wouldn’t really qualify for grants, scholarships or anything that would truly assist me financially in pursuing a higher education. Thankfully, I went to a technical high school that still offered classes like electric, mechanic and cosmetology. Guess what this creative girl decided to do? That’s right; I chewed up the bulk of my elective selections with doing hair, painting nails and generally making people feel good about them while working predominantly on little blue haired women that came in every week for their rinse and roller sets! At the least, I would be able to graduate high school not only with a diploma, but also a license and training in a trade that could, realistically, make me money.

What changed my mind then? Why did I decide when I was an adult to go back to school and get my degree? Well, becoming a single mother from before the birth of my first child certainly put some things in perspective. I wanted to show my children that you CAN get a degree, at any stage, and that it is a beneficial piece of paper to have. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and I wanted to put the real world experience I had (if applicable) to work in other ways. I also, selfishly, wanted to take advantage of the programs available for single mothers to make improvements on their life. Granted, that’s not something to bank on – but the programs were there; it seemed silly not to make use of them.

I enrolled in Saint Leo University because if I was going to do this, in spite of the costs it would ultimately take to do it, I wanted to be certain that my degrees were coming from an educational facility that wasn’t considered a technical college or a stereotypical ‘online’ college degree. I wanted it to be as though I had gone to any of the major universities or colleges that exist in this country. Again, that was my vanity, but having been in human resources with various positions I knew the weight a degree from University of Florida had over, say, a Keiser University. It’s nothing against the Keiser’s, the University of Phoenix or any of the other educational institutions that target working students just like me. They are and can be the ideal option for folks. I just wanted to prove to myself I could do this this way. Saint Leo, also, was the only non-online school that I would be able to get my degree completely online without having to take in-person courses and with my scheduling that was a necessity. Working all day, and raising a child (while finding out just before my first classes started that I was pregnant with a second!) meant that I would need to take classes on nights and weekends. Coordinating that in a traditional school setting would have been far more stressful and chaotic than it needed to be, and what would I do if, for instance, myself or my child were sick or something happened and I needed to work overtime? Online was certainly the way to go.

The internet, from the get-go, has been the only way that I, at least in this point in my life, would have been able to get a degree. Were there not programs out there with which I could take my classes in MY time, and not having to physically be within the hallowed walls with the tenured professor’s right there waiting was a requirement, I doubt I would have been able to do as I’ve done. The internet, when I first graduated from high school, was something ephemeral and new; it was just starting to become something that was a tool and had yet to truly become a household name, more or less available in almost every home. Now, we can work through it, shop through it, play through it, study through it and even earn our full degrees in certain situations. Doing so does have its drawbacks, however.  For all the sake and ease of being able to take my classes when it was convenient for me, it was an expensive route to take! Sure there were other options available, but going with the school I did ensured that my degree was accredited properly and from an institution that had meant certain requirements where I COULD take my degree other places. You have to truly research your schools to ensure the degree you’re getting is transferrable and ‘universal’ and not just local to your particular county or state. It also means that you have very little down time to relax as you’re trying to cram full time school (in my case) with full time work AND raising a family.

The unique experience that I have gotten in obtaining my two degrees (Associates and Bachelors in Business Administration) through the internet can never really be replaced. I had to work a little harder and communicate more with my instructors than some due to not having that face-to-face interaction, but I also feel I had more access to information and resources through my use of the internet. It required me to think outside the box sometimes for places to obtain references and research from and I wasn’t limited to what the school or even my public library had available. I could feel confident in knowing that I had unlimited resources at my fingertips from blogs to libraries to magazines and newspapers. I could take my time to read through my information and determine what I wanted to include or not because I was on my own schedule (albeit within the confines of predetermined deadlines) and since I was able to see ahead in my classes from the onset I could schedule my time more effectively.

The internet has ultimately become my education. It is not just a tool, but the classroom and the resources for information. Were it not for its invention, I doubt I would have ever held a degree, more or less two and I am truly thankful for the direction that the internet took in its development to provide this outlet for me. For this mother, the internet has been more than just Facebook, Twitter or cute pictures of animals, it has been my development and progression into a better partner, mother and employee – all because I have been able to pursue and fulfill an achievement I never thought would be possible when I was a teenager.

 

The Makeup Tutorial Women Should Watch Before They Leave The House

This girl is AMAZING.

Thought Catalog

This girl is awesome, and I wish there were more women out there like her — we could all use this message from time to time. (And yes, I try not too put too much optimism on my eyes, either.) [tc-mark]

Read this. One woman’s inspiring story of leaving it all behind.

TC Site

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Soda Pop

I am a soda junkie. I admit it. It’s my primary vice and weakness next to chocolate. (But at least chocolate can have some beneficial side-effects!) I give the excuse that it’s genetic – my biological father would drink a 2 liter of Pepsi every day.

Regardless, soda (or tonic, pop, coke, pepsi, whatever your geographic preference for it happens to be) is pretty much toxic for you.  It has been attributed to:

This just to name a few! I mean, when you look at that list alone, why would you want to drink this stuff right?! BUT IT’S SOOO YUMMY.

Well, as of this morning I hadn’t had a soda in 4 days. I actually attribute that to my recent purchase of the NLA for Her Performance Her Aminos. It tastes delicious and is just sweet enough to curb my sweet tooth while actually being beneficial for my fitness goals.

This morning though, I had a craving and I’ve learned through experience with my personality that if I dont curb the craving it sticks around, so I broke down and grabbed a small coke from McDonalds. (the BEST place to get fountain soda usually).

I drank half of it.

Then I was done.

*blink*

For anyone that would know me in real life, this in and of itself is a HUGE fete! Its also a promising indication and hopeful that when I DO decide to partake of a little soda in the future then it wont be something I feel the need to keep drinking.

Small steps, at least. 🙂

NLA for Her Product Review – Taste

Alright so yesterday in the mail I received a starter stack of the NLA for Her supplements. I referenced them here. Needless to say I was excited! But I also knew that starting them in the middle of the day when I knew I wouldn’t be lifting or running was probably not the BEST idea and I wanted to follow the plans as close as possible.

So I opened up my box to this loveliness:

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What you see here is the Her Whey protein powder in Chocolate Eclair, Her Aminos in Pink Lemonade, Uplift in Raspberry Lemonade Energy and Shred Her Fat Burner.

I had used, on occasion, the Phase 8 MuscleTech Protein Powder as that’s what the my boyfriend has been using, and we’ve tried the Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate and Cookies & Cream. They all smelled alright, though the Vanilla smells the best. He’s not really liked any of them other than the Vanilla, which he’ll drink alone, or add to coffee, or include tumeric, cinnamon and what not to. Out of those, my preference was for the Strawberry, but they are exceptionally hard to mix up. I tried it with both water and milk, but in either case I was mixing for minutes to get all the powder to dissolve! VIGOROUSLY mixing, mind you. And taste wise it was alright but eh. I always felt that they had a bit of a chalky taste to them, or that weird aftertaste that protein powders are notorious for  and ran into clumps of powder from time to time even AFTER shaking in my mixer.

Back to my box though…

I hurriedly opened the Her Whey protein powder and couldn’t WAIT to try it! It smelled divine and the scoop even was right on top instead of buried deep within the canister and had a nice, long handle on it. But I decided to wait. Ideally, I’ll have one shake after a work out and one at lunch, but knowing I wouldn’t be working out yesterday or today, I opted to wait to have one tonight.

I did follow instructions and woke up this morning to take my one Shred Her pill and a cup of Her Aminos mixed with water. The Uplift I’ll be saving until I know when I’ll be working out, as it should be taken roughly 20 – 30 minute prior to working out. Since I intend on starting T25 at night after work, I’ll be using that once the program comes in. But, Her Aminos should be taken first thing upon waking, and roughly 5 – 6 hours later. You can also use it pre, during and post work out which I intend to.

Oddly, I’ve been looking for something that would help me break my soda addiction, and honestly, Her Aminos may very well be it! It tastes GREAT and the pink lemonade tastes just like Crystal Light, only so, so much better for you! I did get the reported tingle about a half hour after drinking it, but it faded and wasn’t so bad with my second cup around lunchtime. It shakes up well and I actually look forward to seeing how well it does for me and my propensity for soreness after a workout.

The Her Whey I tried at dinner time and I have to say…OMG. I could immediately make out the chocolate and cinnamon and it shook up like a DREAM. Fully dissolved and clump free after only a few shakes with water. I may very well try it with milk at some point for a milkshake. 🙂 I can see why baking and cooking with this powder is touted. But it tastes GREAT. It didn’t have that chalky aftertaste. I am happy to say that I gladly drank it down quickly and clean up was a cinch.

I’ll be taking pics later tonight to start posting progress shots, and of course I’m going to be altering my diet to eat better moving forward. But the excitement I had in opening the box has only bee solidified and I’ll be curious to see how NLA for Her Performance is going to help me in obtaining my fitness goals.

 

Maleficent – Mistress of all Evil (Review)

So, I am a HUGE Disney fan. I think it’s an osmosis thing as my father is also a huge Disney buff and, in fact has a Disney room in my parent home. Oddly enough, however, I was never into the Princesses or Fairies or anything like that. Granted, I had a soft spot for Ariel cause, well, a red-headed mermaid that LOVES to sing? Yeah, that one’s right up my alley.

ariel_little_mermaid_high_quality_wallpaper

But ultimately, I was a Disney Villains girl through and through – to include Stitch.

 

 

 

But always, ALWAYS my favorites were the Evil Queen (lesser known as Queen Grimhilde; it’s no wonder she was so obsessed with vanity with a name that would cause me to be sour too!)

 

However, my heart tried and true always went to Maleficent. Yes, she’s an evil fairy. Yes, she curses a baby to die on her 16th birthday for nothing more than just being born and spiting the King and Queen to whom she was born. But there was something about the woman that just resonated with me. Not sure what that says about ME per se, but c’est la vie!

I was thrilled when Once Upon A Time mentioned that they would indeed have Maleficent in the show, as I fell in love with Lana Parrilla playing Regina/Evil Queen to counter Ginnifer Goodwin‘s Snow White. But I wasn’t at all happy with the work up that Maleficent got in the show and was duly disappointed in how she was portrayed.

Though played by Kristen Bauer van Straten (the infamous Pam from True Blood; so there was promise at least), OUaT’s Maleficent not only looked horrible, but lacked everything that she was supposed to be – wicked, delightful, elegant and menacing. Instead OUaT’s take on her was a cast off character who paled in ability next to the Evil Queen (which, as much as I LOVE Regina in the show, c’mon!) and who was at best fodder. Even in her dragon form, she was no match for, well, anyone. That is nothing against Mrs. Bauer van Straten at all. It’s simply how OUaT’s writers developed (or better, didn’t develop) the character. She had no OOMPH and even a solid actress in evil roles like Kristen couldn’t salvage her. I was ultimately disappointed at the loss of opportunity and potential for a good, solid, antagonist in the show to play off against Lana Parrilla. (Think of the triangle that would have made!) But I get it, with Regina and the formidable Robert Carlyle as devious, witty, insane and  twisty Rumpelstiltskin, there would have been far too many villains for one show.

Needless to say, when I saw the initial teasers of Angelina Jolie portraying Maleficent in a full length movie, I was cautiously optimistic. I LOVE Angie, for a whole slew of reasons but also cause knowing her past, I knew she’d have to have to have some idea how Maleficent should be. Then when I started to see the trailers for the actual movie, I got really, really excited. She looked correct. She had the poise, grace, elegance and dripped in wicked from the scenes that they showed us. Now, lets just hope that the story and direction held up to the aesthetic.

Could I be optimistic? The more I saw the more anticipation grew.

Now,  I haven’t been to an actual theater in over three years now. Its generally not worth the costs anymore and with a 52 inch flat screen and premium sound system at home with over 500 channels available to me, going to the movies and paying the exorbitant prices for them just isn’t my cup of tea anymore. I used the be the person that would boundfully take in at least one movie a weekend, if not more, and would gladly stand in lines for over an hour on opening night to be among the first to see a much-anticipated film. Not so much anymore. But Maleficent, she got me out of the house and into my local AMC on opening night no less. (Though apparently, no one goes to the movies anymore either as the 9:45 showing on a Friday was practically empty.)

Worse, as I sat down I prepared myself for the possibility that my expectations would not be lived up to (as is the case in far too many instances when it comes to retellings or reconstructions of much beloved characters) and settled in with my $11 cherry coke and popcorn.

I wont go into too many details with the story line itself because, ultimately, it’s rewriting that we thought we knew about the Mistress of All Evil. Jolie is a little too over the top in spots and I think there was some footage left on the cutting room floor which could have been added (the movie clocked in at an hour and 38 minutes, so they had a little room for additions) BUT the camp fits and isn’t over done so much that it turns the drama of the important moments into a comedy. There are, of course, the endearing moments and Maleficent is more than just a wickedly delicious evil fairy. Far more than that in fact.

Visually the movie is stunning and The Moors are someplace I would love to be able to live myself. Action fares well, and they dont scrimp on it. Magic, of course, abounds, and though the movie is quick there is decent character development in everyone except Aurora, who rightfully so is more an afterthought in this movie than in the original animated feature of her own name. Elle Fanning is somewhat annoying as Aurora actually as Aurora in the animated film comes across far more mature and intelligent than Fanning’s portrayal.

None the less, I enjoyed it and would gladly see it again, though I’m not sure I’m willing to shell out another $22 to see it. Maybe next time I’ll skip the soda and popcorn. Its a good film to take children over 6 to as some of the creatures may scary them just in their visage, but though the violence is well done, there is no blood that I saw and death was implied. Either way, it will be one I add to my collection when it becomes available on Blu-Ray and ultimately, I wasn’t at all upset with the retelling and was quite pleased with the work up that my favorite Disney character received. It makes me love her all the moor…

 

get it?

 

See what I did there?

NLA for Her? T25?

So, I’ve been REALLY bad lately and have finally hit that wall where I’m done – I wont stay like I’ve been anymore. I want out of this body which is smooshy and weak and back to where I was pre-baby. I’m not concerned about the actual WEIGHT number, I just want to get toned and healthy again.

A lot of that is indeed my diet. I have to change it. No more excuses. I’m entering my late 30’s and the diet I had in my 20’s and early 30’s simply isn’t going to cut it anymore. My metabolism is changing and I have to accept that and work with it instead of against it.

I also need to increase my exercise. I’ve been restarting my running – at least twice a week though ultimately I need to get it to 3 – 5 times. I’m adjusting my schedule to it. I’ve just purchased the Focus T25 program from Beachbody and will get started on that as soon as I get it in. I can find a half hour a day to get that going.

 

I have also been looking into the NLA for Her line of products that are promoted by IFBB Pro Jessie Hilgenberg. I’ve been reading a lot of positive things about the products as well as their taste and after using the Phase 8 protein powders, I’m thinking that this may be a better alternative for me. If you’ve had experience with these lines of products, please let me know your thoughts! I’m considering the standard stack which includes the Her Whey Protein Powder, Her Aminos, Shred Her Fat Burner and Uplift Energy.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once I get my T25 in, I’ll take starter pics and post as well as write up reviews.

I’m GOING to do this.

No more excuses.

 

May: Mental Health Awareness Month

With so many dealing with varying degrees of stress, depression, anxiety and a plethora of other mental health disorders or ailments – and having dealt with postpartum depression myself as well as being diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, I thought it only appropriate when a friend posted this on social media to include it here. Depression especially is insidious and hard to manage; whether you are the one afflicted or the support trying to help get them through it. Just remember that there IS help out there, whether its through medication management, behavioral therapy, or other methods. You dont HAVE to suffer. Not every way works for everybody and the only right way is what works for you (so long as you’re not hurting yourself or someone else!)

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