Why You Should Be Reading Young Adult Novels

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading feeds the soul in a way that other activities can't. It allow you to learn and to travel and to experience life through the eyes of others. I would even argue that a good book is even better than a good vacation!

Some of you non readers are probably rolling your eyes, like "yeah right!" But seriously! There is scientific proof that reading can actually improve your life. Reading can decrease your chance of developing alzehimers and can improve your memory. It can also be theraputic and a stress reducer and it allows you to better emphatize with others. They say that readers get to not only live one life, but many lives.

Plus, there is nothing sexier than a well read man or woman.

Just saying.

There are so many genres and different kinds of books, but I'm hear to tell you why you should not only be reading, but why you should be reading books from the Young Adult (YA) genre.

YA Fiction centers around characters who are, well, young adults.  Usually characters are in their teenage years and the story tend to follow characters as they discover who they are and how the world is.

Just because the characters are young doesn't mean the books can only be enjoyed by those in that same age group.

In fact, some of my favorite books have been from the YA genre.

Here are 5 reasons you should be reading YA.

1. You Can Escape Your Adult Life

Remember when you didn't have bills to pay? When you didn't have to work 9-5 or weekends or holidays? When your biggest problem was what you were going to wear to school? Or if you would talk to that cute boy? Or, hell, if you would pass your science test?

It was definitely a simpler time and we get to leave our current problems on the back burner for a while.

2. You Get to Relive Young Love

It brings back all those memories of how in love you were. It was uncomplicated and awkward and it brings you back to those sparks you felt that were so innocent. It's less about the physical and more about the infatuation and the excitement.

It's the passion and the heartbreak but from a safe, wiser distance.

3. Everyone is So Pure

Most of the characters are apologetically themselves. They are hormonal and emotional and give themselves free range to feel what they feel.  If they are angry, they are ANGRY. If they are sad, they are SAD. They rarely hide their feelings or their weirdness. They allow themselves to live fully in the moment, before society tells them how to act in the real world. Before they have to and are able to control their feelings in front of others. Before we start to pull back parts of ourselves so that who we are is contained in a nice little, semi-presentable box.

4.  Good YA Fiction is Actually Well Written

Some people think that YA is dumbed down for teens to understand, but that's simply not true. There is an art to writing from a teenagers perspective in a way that is believable. Most YA is anything but juvenile and is actually complex and complicated and can be just as enjoyable as other genres.

5. Because You are Allowed to Enjoy What You Enjoy

Oh I'm sorry, are you an adult? I guess you should be hanging out in the non-fiction section of the book store.


You can literally read what you want to read, with no reason other than because you want to. YA fiction is fun to read and why should you deny yourself that?

Not sure which book to pick up?

Here are three books that absolutely deserve a read. 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

What are your favorite YA books?


Ban Negativity and Embrace Silliness

Friday, April 17, 2015

I had a brief moment of negativity yesterday.  The toxic thoughts started as I was struggling with some new yoga poses. Rather than easing myself into the challenging shapes, I disconnected with my breath and grew more and more frustrated. I finally gave up. Instead of leaving my discontent on the mat, I took the icky feelings with me. They began to flow over into everything else I was doing. My evening walk was cut short because the pestering voice inside my head would not shut up! “Katie, you are such a quitter.” “You might as well go back to being negative. Its so much easier. Youre failing at this happiness thing, anyway.” Blah, blah, blah. My shoulders started to ache. My entire body felt twisted and tense. I decided to ask the noxious voice to exit, stage right. After much resistance she grumpily bowed and promptly left the building. Whew! Shoulders relaxed and a smile graced my face once again. What a wonderful moment! It can be so easy to forget that we all have the power to hush our inner bully.  That destructive voice will always try to convince you that your life is an impossible task. 
The next time you are convinced you can’t conquer negativity, try doing something silly. Sure, you might feel ridiculous, but the good feelings will soon overpower your concerns about looking like a wackadoo! My go-to happiness prescription is dancing.  I have a playlist called “Fresh2death” which features jolly toe-tapping tracks by Janelle Monae, the Beastie Boys, Kendrick Lamar, and Missy Elliott. It's my path to instant happiness!
I recently finished watching the show Garfunkel and Oates on IFC. They are a fun and adorable, musical comedy girl-group. One of my favorite songs by them is called “Loser." I highly recommend checking it out on YouTube.  Its all about why its okay to lose. Losing means youre trying. Youre putting yourself out there.  So, in a sense, you are always eventually winning! Failing shows us what we are capable of.  It prepares us for lifes next dare.  Dont stop being you. Win or lose, you are making progress!  
To help inspire me to stay hopeful and present, I made a short list of why I am AH-MAZING (see photo). Make one for yourself!  Dont be modest! Shine on, starlets!



Beach Ready Trends

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It is starting to heat up outside, which means it's time for Bathing Suit Season again! 

If you are like me, and many other women, the idea of getting back into a swim suit can seem kind of intimidating, but there really is a suit for every person! I am in the market for a new bathing suit, so I have been all over the web looking for the perfect suit. I did the dirty work and found that these are the hottest trends right now. I am obsessed with all of them, I can't decide which one to try out! You can find these trends in all price ranges and they are perfect for all body types. 

Which trend do you think you'll rock?
Left: ASOS   Right: ASOS
Left: LuLus   Right: Forever21

Left: Nordstrom  Right: Forever21

Write Down Your Journey!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hi, everyone! 

Today’s topic is journaling. I have been journaling for as long as I can remember. I don’t know what got me started or when. I have always felt compelled to write things down as a way of working through the problems I was experiencing. For the past few years I’ve been keeping two separate envelopes – one collects dreams, and the other collects writings about my feelings. I prefer to reach for stationery or whatever paper is handy, and put those entries into an envelope. You can keep your entries in a binder, notebook, computer, shoebox, or whatever suits you. I love my system because not only do I have a record of my thoughts over the years, but of the different kinds of stationery I’ve bought. It might seem silly, but the stationery itself brings back memories, too.

I don’t consistently journal every day, or even every month. I write whenever I feel a strong emotion, and it’s often negative. The impulse to write becomes overwhelming and journaling provides a wonderful relief. When I have it all out in front of me, considering what I should actually do about the way I feel becomes easier. I also remind myself of things in my life that are still going well. It is so easy to let negative thoughts take over. I love the quote, “Don’t let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.” Going back to earlier entries of better times helps to motivate me through the bad ones. 

It’s all about putting things into perspective. I write down my goals, too. Reading about good things that happened in the past and reminding myself about the good things I have coming up helps me stay optimistic. I am a rather pessimistic person, so I need this. 

I have a dream envelope, too. I don’t dream often, but when I do I make sure to write it down. It’s entertaining to read about the bizarre and confusing things that run through my mind at night. Because I write them down, I notice certain patterns that occur when I’m under a lot of stress, and it reminds me that I need to take better care of myself. On every entry, I always write down the date. On some of my earliest entries, probably from the late 90’s, I did not do this. I would love to know how old I was, for context, but I can only guess now.   

When you journal, don’t write for anyone else except you. Following a specific format is not important. I often write lists and make diagrams. Some people like to make art journals, so that it’s like a combination of a scrapbook and a journal. Included in my envelopes are photos, tickets to a live reading by David Sedaris, playbills, some of my drawings, and tons of other stuff. I keep telling myself I’m going to organize it one day, but I have come to enjoy dumping out the envelopes and picking entries at random.

However often you do it, and in whatever way you choose, it’s a very simple project, and it’s very easy. The time and effort it takes to jot everything down is totally worth the reward. 

Start journaling today! 


Meet Katie!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Well, hello there! My name is Katie! I am the newest contributor to the blog!  

I enjoy theatre, writing, yoga, catering to my prima donna cat, Saba, walking my dog, Magazines (Maggie), and cooking up fun dishes. 

This time last year my favorite pastime was feeling sorry for myself, and snoozing so often that I put Sleeping Beauty to shame. I stopped living! With the help of wonderful friends and family, Zen teachings, and yoga I have created a more positive outlook to life.  I stopped resisting life and everyday since, while still full of challenges, has been beautiful. Happiness is not about having everything you ever wanted. It’s being content with what is. 

We are often bombarded with images of the things we “need” to obtain bliss. But how often do those things make us whole? In my experience, never. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy indulging in a cute pair of heels. But they could be the most adorable shoes ever (think unicorns and kittens) and I accept that I cannot look to them for true happiness. The real jubilance, the kind that frees you from wanting more and more, comes from within.  Looking for the most adorable and accessible beauty trick? Look within yourself. Start exploring your inner joy. You will radiate!

Imperfections aren’t problems to be corrected. They are part of our canvas. Each one creating a portrait that, when you take a step back to admire and appreciate, is really quite amazing. Go ahead. Splash some colors around.  We are rare works of art.  It’s time for our unveiling!


DIY Blankets

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hey friends! Angela again!

So, a couple of years ago, I taught myself how to crochet. Between Pinterest and YouTube, it was pretty simple to learn. It took me some time to find the perfect YouTube video to get started, but once I got the hang of it, there was no stopping me!

I was a crocheting maniac!

Just recently, I made this crib-sized baby boy afghan blanket. 

The stitch I used in the blanket is called C2C (Corner to Corner). I first learned the stitch by using a Youtube video.  This guy, Mikey is a great teacher, and his videos are very easy to learn from. He moves at a great pace for beginners.

For this afghan, I used Red Heart worsted weight yarn--Baby Blue, Aran, and Frosty Green-- with an H (5.00 Boye) hook.  For the boarder I did a simple half-double crochet.

 I’m not sure yet, who the lucky boy will be who gets this blanket, and I’m thinking of making a matching hat to go with it… What do you think?

Want to see what size you need for your project, check out this link for size references.


LIFE | Candidly Susie

Friday, April 3, 2015

Whether or not this will come as a surprise to you depends on how well you know me or don't know me. I don't think it's any secret that self confidence isn't something we are born with. It is learned and can be taught and just as easily it can also be untaught.

I try to appear to be as confident as possible at all times. I don't like for people to think I am weak, not in any sense of the word. Let me be clear: I am not weak. But I am human. I can experience a whole range of emotions and feelings within the scope of a day, an hour.

We all tend to portray ourselves in the best light possible. We want others to think we've got it all together, that we've got it all sorted out. We want them to think that we've always been confident and that our self confidence has never been tested because to show anything else implies that we are less than perfect. We are not perfect. We are human.  I am human.

Up until maybe the last year and a half or so, I have struggled with this notion. I have fought with the fact that I am not perfect. This may seem silly, because we all know that no one is perfect; it is not possible.

I have fought with my body, I have fought for my body. I have fought with my self-doubt and lack of self esteem. I have felt inadequate and unimportant. I have felt unloved and damaged. But these are feelings...they have no basis in reality.

They have absolutely no basis in reality.

I remember a long time ago in 6th grade a boy pointed out something incredibly embarrassing to me about me. I thought if he can see this and I can't, he must see what everyone else sees. I must be the one who is blind.

He probably doesn't even remember what he said to me, but I have never forgotten it. And it started an unreasonable fear within myself OF myself. Maybe everything I thought about myself was wrong. It has to be and maybe I'm the only one who can't see it.

But that wasn't the case. It never was.

Almost 2 years ago I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, an immune system disorder that causes my thyroid to be an overachiever. It turned my life upside down. I was so sick and in denial for so long I landed myself in the E.R. It scared the shit out of me, to be so helpless. It was then that I decided I needed to get better. I needed to be better. My mind, my body, my soul all needed to be better.

I had let this disease take over my life without ever putting up a fight. My performance began to slip, my passions faded away, my life seemed empty.

I didn't want to feel that way anymore. So I decided enough was enough. I was tired of feeling tired. I was tired of feeling like a failure. I was tired of feeling sorry for myself. I was tired of not feeling beautiful, of feeling like I belonged in the shadows. My husband and my son deserved better. I deserved better.

When you know better, you do better.

Now I know better.

I will NEVER allow myself to be bullied by anyone or anything every again. Not from outside myself and not from inside myself. I am not defined by any of that.

I am taking risks and I am taking chances. No one gets to tell me that the path I am taking, that this journey, that my life is anything less than what it should be. NO BODY.

This is why I started this blog because we all deserve to be the best versions of ourselves.

Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to enjoy your life without judgement. Know that the way others see you is a reflection of themselves, not you. Know that you are beautiful, with make up, without make up. Know that you are amazing as a size 2 or as a size 16. Know that you are worthy during sickness and during health. Know that you are loved. Know that you are capable of success. Know that you are worthy and nothing should ever change that.

As always, Thank you for reading,