2016 Reading Challenge - July!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

As it is the last day of July (can. you. believe. it.), I wanted to share the book I chose for July for the 2016 Reading Challenge.

I read a blue million books in the month of July, indeed all summer long, and I plan a post or two in the next week or so about all the books I read, quotes I enjoyed, and what I learned.

But, officially, my pick for July's reading challenge theme was "A book published before you were born." I chose Persuasion by Jane Austen.

I read this book in a different manner than I have all the other months' books, in that I listened to it as an audio book. I am not an auditory learner; thus, I realized that it's easy for me to listen to an audiobook only if I've read the book before. I had read Persuasion before, obviously, and I enjoyed the experience of listening to it read to me.

Now is a great time for me to tell you about a really cool app called Overdrive. It allows you to "check out" audiobooks from your local library, download them to your phone, and listen to them. I used this app to get Persuasion and Emma. I'm currently waiting on my turn for Pride and Prejudice now.

Listening to Persuasion gave me good motivation to walk in the park as well as drive distances in my car that I might not have otherwise enjoyed. I listened to Persuasion as I drove to Charleston to the airport on my way to visit my friend Colleen, I listened in little bits as I drove around town, I listened on my drive from the Charleston airport to Morgantown to visit my family, and I listened as I walked around the park.

If you are a frequent walker in Ritter Park and also happen to be reading this blog post, then everything probably makes sense in your life now. By that I mean, I react to what I read, and I just can't help it. I LOVE Persuasion, I've read it and watched it so many times, that I found myself talking back to the novel in the car as well as reacting to various scenes with my face as I walked in the park. I am absolutely sure I looked like a crazy person, especially on the day I happened to be in the park as Anne Elliot opened her letter from Captain Wentworth:

"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never."

You guys. Seriously. How are you NOT going to react to that. I know what my face must have looked like in the park that day, multiple times, actually, as I swiped the status bar left a couple times to hear it again and again.

I mean, this letter has its own page on Facebook.

I can only say, if you have not read Persuasion, please do so. And when you're done, read Captain Wentworth's Diary because it's also wonderful. If you have read Persuasion, read it again. And again. And again.

"I have loved none but you."


When a Young Lady is to be a Heroine

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Last night I went to bed with a new library book I hadn't started yet and the desire to throw Northanger Abbey a bone.

By that I mean, I usually watch one of my Jane Austen novel adaptations as I'm going to bed at night, but Northanger Abbey (and Mansfield Park) make the rotation only rarely because, well, they're just not as good as the others. (Sorry Jane, still your number 1 fan.) I put Northanger in the DVD player, laid down, and placed my unopened novel beside me. I started watching the first few minutes of the movie, winding down from my day before I picked up my book.

Near the beginning of the film, I heard a line I didn't remember hearing before, and I really liked it. The line was "For when a young lady is to be a heroine, something must and will happen to throw adventure in her way."

Great, right?

Because I know that films -- even great adaptations -- often change the words of the original author, I decided to do some research to see what Austen really said. It turns out, Jane Austen really wrote these words in Northanger Abbey, "But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way."

I decided I liked that even better! It made my heart feel good for so many reasons. I found a little meme with it on there, and I saved it to a Pinterest board.

Smiling, I opened my new novel.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this on the first page:

I literally laughed out loud.

Apparently it was really, really important that I discover that quote yesterday. What are the odds? I've decided I'm a young lady who is to be a heroine!

Oh, and the name of the novel I started?

Jane Austen Ruined My Life

I can't make this stuff up.

A Year of Living Auntie Mame - Day 3

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Yesterday was a really sunny day, and I had done all for Snicks's health that I could before his doctor's appointment in the late afternoon, so I took my books, my sunscreen, and myself to the pool for a couple of hours.

On the drive there I was listening to music, thinking about the nice birthday I had had, the good wishes and gifts I had received, and the fact that I was just a really fortunate person to be driving to the pool with a book on a sunny day, knowing the people I know.

And then.

You knew that was coming, right?


My brain started talking back to me.

I don't know about you, but a lot of the time my brain starts talking back to me, and it often says very unkind things.

Yesterday, my brain told me I'd better not get used to feeling happy and positive because it never lasts, and I know it. "Just wait," my brain said. "Just wait till early September when you're overwhelmed with teaching and coaching and graduate school. We'll see how Auntie Mame you feel then. Or how about in December when it gets dark at 5 p.m. and you're cold and haven't seen the sun in days. Are you really going to feel like life is a banquet then?"

And then my brain laughed at me. My brain is really not a nice person at all.

This happens to me a lot. And often, I don't know what to say back to myself. My brain likes to scare me into not enjoying the moment for fear of how bad I'm inevitably going to feel at some yet-to-be-determined time in the future.

And I hate it.

Yet, I allow it to happen a lot.

Instead of just enjoying the sunny drive to the pool, I allow my brain to scare me into spending the drive waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak.

But yesterday, I realized that Auntie Mame's whole schtick is living in the moment. Enjoying life as it is in that moment, and dealing with hard times as they come, instead of spending life in a perpetual state of preparing for the worst. Because that is exhausting.

So I'm committing to doing that this year. I will not spend my year worrying about when the next bad thing will happen or when I'm going to start feeling bad again. Instead, I will enjoy the moment I'm in, as much as I can, so when things do get tough, I'll have some strength and grace to draw from.

Join me.

Living Auntie Mame

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Today is my 32nd birthday, which is weird for so many reasons. What does 32 feel like? I don't actually know because I feel the same as I did yesterday. 32 sounds so old; in my head I think I'm still 17.

I like things like birthdays because I like feeling like there's a special day on the calendar where I can hit reset if I need to. And right now, I really need to. I need to regroup and gather myself, and there's no better day to start again than a birthday. If my birthday is the start of a yoga class, I really need to set my intention for the year, just like I would on my mat.

I was giving this some thought the other day, and I realized exactly what I want my intention for this year to be. And that is -- I want to be Auntie Mame. I've talked about my desire for this on my blog before, but it's time to take it from a fun wish to reality. But I realize that I need accountability in order to make that happen. Because it's really easy to talk about being fun and free spirited like Mame until you're getting unkind emails from students' parents or an issue with a student comes up and I'm stressed to the max.

One of the teachers I take class from (Valerie) frequently starts class with a thought from a book she reads called A Year of Living Your Yoga. That title mixed with my Auntie Mame desire in my mind and gave me the idea of blogging A Year of Living Auntie Mame.  In a lot of ways, I feel like this is the six month check up of my 2016 theme.

To tell you the truth, I really don't even know what this means exactly, but I think I'm going to figure it out along the way. I can tell you that today is off to a good start because of the people who know and love me.

Allow me to explain.

As previously mentioned today is my birthday. I was fortunate enough to receive some really nice gifts from some really great friends and family. But after I assembled them in one group, I realized ... I am already a quirky weirdo, which, I believe, is the first step to being truly eccentric like Mame. 

Please look at this haul:

Let's start in the top left.

This shirt was a gift from my friend Sarah. I feel like this requires no explanation, as Sarah knows my heart and, therefore, knows champagne is my love language. :) I think this is my new life motto. Auntie Mame-approved.

Next is this great glitter fish wallflower from Colleen. The closest sea animal to a shark that Bath and Body Works sells, and, you know, glitter.

The next is this flat iron that I've been needing to get for about a year. My parents got me this after my mom did a lot of research on which was the best one. Watch out world, I'm coming with my beach waves.

Next is the Alfred Hitchcock artwork. I am a Hitchcock fan from way back, and if you are, too, then you are already geeking out about how cool this is. I just sat here, mouth open, for like three whole minutes after I opened it. My only dilemma is -- home or classroom? I don't know where Erin got this, but -- wow.

Let me tell you all about these two middle gifts here. My sister Emma got me some sea salt hair spray (best. ever.) and the newest Monkees CD. If you don't know about my history with The Monkees, I will have to tell you about it some other time because I don't have the space to do it justice here. Suffice it to say I'm their biggest fan. I'm actually listening to this CD as I type right now. It's as good as I hoped. :) Here's why Emma's gifts are so great: Emma asked me what I wanted for my birthday. In so many words I said "sea salt hair spray and the newest Monkees CD." Bam. Delivered. There's something to be said for someone who literally gets you exactly what you asked for.

I'm going to group the last two items together because I feel like they were the last two pieces of the puzzle I was waiting for in order to completely lose myself in the world of Jane Austen (I could link some previous blog posts here, but I don't have that kind of time. There are too many). I was teetering on the ledge a bit, but I've fully fallen now. The first thing, in case you can't tell, is one of those old-fashioned was seal letter sealer things. Some months back, upon viewing Pride and Prejudice or Emma or whatever for the blue millionth time, I texted Erin and was like you know what would be cool to have? One of those wax seal letter sealer things. She was like yeah I guess that would be cool. WELL HERE IT IS. Who even knew you could get one? I mean PLEASE LOOK AT THIS:

Is this not the coolest thing  YOU HAVE EVER SEEN EVER?! If I know your address, be prepared to receive a lot of mail from me in the near future. As I was practicing using this for the first time, I truly thought that Mr. Knightley may come and ask me to take a turn about the garden with him.

The book Say It Like Miss Austen is a gift from the woman who's been my second mom my entire life, Patrice. I've spent years saying things about Jane Austen, and now I can just say them like Jane Austen! For example, it's unkind to call someone a moron, but what if I said, "What a picture of intellectual poverty!" instead? I mean, I'm still saying you're an idiot, but I sound so fancy doing it!

I truly think that this may be the most eclectic mix of gifts ever given. But I feel like I've done something right in my life if my friends and family thing of me as a champagne drinking, glitter loving, wavy hair sporting, Alfred Hitchcock- and Monkees-obsessed person who lives 50% of her life in the world of Jane Austen.

If that's not enough, please note that I am currently writing this sitting in a donut-with-a-bite-taken-out pool inner tube that's not inflated because I don't have enough air. (Final gift from Erin.)

Auntie Mame - Day 1. We're off to the races.

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