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February 15, 2016

Only a Few More Days to Go... Maybe.

As the last week of my Facebook rehab ticks by, I've found myself not really anticipating the end of the 70-day experience, but rather dreading it.

Admittedly, I have slipped a bit. When I officially launched a new business last month, I returned to Facebook briefly to set up a business page there and to schedule a dozen or so automated posts so that I wouldn't have to babysit it for a while. The entire experience added up to about thirty minutes of Facebook time.

What I didn't do while I was there creating the business page was read messages, look at my news feed, or check the hundreds of notifications waiting there. I avoided the time-suck that the social media rehab was meant to curb, so even though it was a bit of a "slip", I guess it can also be considered a real-world test of my new powers of will.

If I can resist the gravitational pull of Facebook, then why am I still dreading the end of my fast?

Because people will expect me to be there and to be reachable at all times.

Yes, even my friends who know that I'm writing, working a part-time job, and running two businesses still expect me to respond to comments and messages within the hour. Every hour. All day.

Contrary to popular belief, we are not all fused to our screens 24/7.

From what I've learned from the curious folks who were willing to strike up conversations after hearing about my social media avoidance, I'm not alone in this overwhelming feeling of intrusion. It's like the accessibility that social media allows also destroys any boundaries that we used to consider "polite" in terms of social interaction.

So, what have I been up to these past two months? Quite a bit--enough that the assembly of this list surprised even me.

How I spent some of my time away from social media:

(In no particular order...)
  • Gave away a lot of stuff.
  • Sold a lot of stuff.
  • Reopened my Etsy store.
  • Started going to yoga classes.
  • Donned a mascot suit and became the Grinch for a day.
  • Won a scholarship.
  • Reconnected with my brother.
  • Renewed my CPR/First Aid certification.
  • Began volunteering with the American Red Cross.
  • Launched a new business.
  • Attended my first drag show.
  • Studied and am scheduled to take the exam for my ACSM Certification for personal training.
  • Joined the US Strongman Organization.
  • Registered (and stepped up training) for my first Strongwoman competition.
  • Picked up watercolor painting again after a seven-year hiatus.
  • Paid off our debt.
  • Practiced photography. 
  • Launched a new blog.
  • Read a lot of books.

If you're thinking that this experiment has been a positive one, then you're absolutely right. Getting my mind away from the constant chatter of trending headlines and rolling news feeds allowed me to get back in touch with me--the person behind the online presence. The person who used to talk to people instead of relaying messages through a cold network of screens and text.

Instead of reading about what others were doing, I went out and did my own thing.

It has been amazing. In fact, it's been so amazing that I may never go back to just daily social media check-ins. Weekly may even be too much.

Who knows? I may just turn out to be an old-fashioned kook who writes actual letters to their friends and calls people every once in a while to invite them to an event.

That doesn't seem so strange to me now.

January 19, 2016

Ever Wanted to Smell Like Your Favorite Bookstore? Now You Can!

It's no secret that I love all things bookish, so it should come as no big surprise that I've created a signature scent that smells like the distinct fragrance of old paperbacks and leather-bound volumes of tales of lovelorn ladies, mystery, and the macabre.

Yep, this is just part of what's been brewing behind the scenes while I've been on my social media hiatus. (Believe me when I tell you that it's the best thing I've done in years.)

I'll be sure to fill you in on the rest with a post packed with all the crazy details when I finish up my seventy days. In the meantime, please check out the perfume and share the link with your book-loving friends!

January 1, 2016

No, Really: I'm Not on Facebook

Dearest friends,

The past few days for me have been filled with emails about Facebook tags and notifications of messages received there.

I can't read them. Seriously.

As I announced weeks ago, December 10th was my last day on social media for seventy days.

My web browsers are blocked 24/7 from visiting the site. The app has been deleted from my phone and blocked from future download.  

I have purposely cut myself off.

Any posts that I make here on my blog are automatically delivered to Twitter and Facebook via an automated RSS feed. While it may look to the (very) casual observer that I'm popping in over there now and again, trust me--I'm not.

Please don't take my lack of response as a personal insult. I can't respond because I can't read your messages.

Best wishes for a bright and productive 2016,


December 31, 2015

What I Read in 2015: The Complete List

 Well, I didn't quite make my goal of 100 books this year, but I still feel like I read some pretty fantastic selections. (Favorites include links below.)

Here's the list:
  1. "Raven Boys" by Maggie Stiefvater
  2. "Brain Camp" by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan
  3. "How to Grow Up" by Michelle Tea
  4. "Mosquitoland" by David Arnold
  5. "I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You" by Yumi Sakugawa
  6. "F**k It Is the Answer" by John C. Parkin & Gaia Pollini
  7. "Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults" by Julie Tibbott
  8. "Get a Literary Agent" by Chuck Sambuchino
  9. "Blogging for Writers" by Robin Houghton
  10. "Olympians: Ares - Bringer of War" by George O'Connor
  11. "Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures" by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater
  12. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters- Vol. 1" by Jim Zub
  13. "Midnight in the Garden Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  14. "The Art of Procrastination" by John Perry
  15. "The Fade Out: Vol. 1" by Ed Brubaker
  16. "Oink: Heaven's Butcher" by John Mueller
  17. "The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno" by Ellen Bryson
  18. "Roadmap" by Roadtrip Nation
  19. "Odd and the Frost Giants" by Neil Gaiman
  20. "Bullet Gal, Volume 1" by Andrew Bergen
  21. "Get in Trouble" by Kelly Link
  22. "Bad Kid" by David Crabb
  23. "The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy" by Sam Maggs
  24. "The Crossroads of Should and Must" by Elle Luna
  25. "Exquisite Corpse" by Pénélope Bagieu
  26. "Trigger Warning" by Neil Gaiman
  27. "Don't Stay Up Late" by R.L. Stine
  28. "Read Bottom Up" by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham
  29. "Wild Heat" by Lucy Monroe
  30. "Motorcycles I've Loved: A Memoir" by Lily Brooks-Dalton
  31. "What Waits in the Woods" by Kieran Scott
  32. "Burning Down George Orwell's House" by Andrew Ervin
  33. "Maritime Richmond" by Dale Totty
  34. "Shadowshaper" by Daniel Jose Older
  35. "The Dream Thieves" by Maggie Stiefvater
  36. "How to Study" by Arthur W. Kornhauser
  37. "Blue Lily, Lily Blue" by Maggie Stiefvater
  38. "Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Pure Insanity" by Sean Ryan
  39. "A Writer's Guide to Persistence" by Jordan Rosenfeld
  40. "The Intuitive Gardener" by Marilyn Raff
  41. "The Fall of Princes" by Robert Goolrick
  42. "Strengths Finder 2.0" by Tom Rath
  43. "Polish Your Poise" by Jennifer L. Scott
  44. "The Curse of Crow Hollow" by Billy Coffey
  45. "Sinclair Justice" by Colleen Shannon
  46. "Bound to the Bachelor" by Kate Hardy
  47. "Black Cat Bone: The Life of Blues Legend Robert Johnson" by J. Patrick Lewis
  48. "10 Rules of Writing" by Elmore Leonard
  49. "Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain" by Charles R. Cross
  50. "172 Hours on the Moon" by Johan Harstad
  51. "The New and Improved Romie Futch" by Julia Elliott
  52. "Sherlock Holmes and the Necronomicon" by Sylvain Cordurie
  53. "How To Write More Words More Easily" by Terrance Field
  54. "Clutter Antidote" by Caitlin Kauer
  55. "Writers Write" by William Meikle
  56. "The Joy of Less" by Cary Richards
  57. "Reader Magnets" by Nick Stephenson
  58. "Unclutter Your Life In One Week" by Erin Rooney Doland
  59. "Living With Less" by Francine Jay
  60. "Night Film" by Marisha Pessl
  61. "It's All Too Much" by Peter Walsh
  62. "Shift Your Habit" by Elizabeth Rogers
  63. "How to be Alive" by Colin Beavan
  64. "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert
  65. "The Witches of Benevento: Mischief Season" by John Bemelmans Marciano and Sophie Blackall
  66. "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
My absolute favorite from 2015 would have to be Night Film by Marisha Pessl. It worked itself so completely into my subconscious that I would wake up in the middle of the night with flashes of characters and theories about the plot swimming through my mind. I don't think I've ever encountered a book so worthy of the label "engrossing" before this one.

A favorite that comes in a close second to Night Film is something completely different: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Hands-down the best book on overcoming hesitations, hang-ups, and blocks in creativity that's been published since Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.

How did you do with your reading goals in 2015? What were your favorite books of the year and what made them stand out above the rest?

I'll be pushing for 100 again next year! Join me!