Joan Rivers ‘A Piece of Work’.

Just saw this!

Just saw this!

As nerdy as it sounds, my weekly trips to the library continue to impress me. Last weekend, I was searching through the DVDs looking for season 3 of “Girls” – the only season that U-Verse On Demand refuses to show, but I successfully found it (and watched it), and then I just started wandering to see what else I could find.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that they have nearly all the seasons of “The Wire“, “The Wonder Years“, and “The West Wing” (apparently I was hanging out in the Ws for awhile)…so now you know what my fall lineup looks like.

I also stumbled across “A Piece of Work” starring Joan Rivers – which is a documentary I’ve been wanting to see for years! This documentary follows Rivers in the year of her 75th birthday. It was released in 2010, and it was filmed during the year right before Rivers went on “The Apprentice” (and later won). From Google:

This revealing documentary follows the life and career of Joan Rivers, a veteran comedienne arguably more known for her extensive plastic surgery than for her talent. The film explores her early years in the comedy industry and touches on her longtime professional relationship with Johnny Carson, who is one of many celebrities featured, along with George Carlin, Phyllis Diller, Kathy Griffin and Rivers’ own daughter and frequent screen partner, Melissa Rivers.

I have always been a fan of Joan Rivers – but I realized how little I knew about her as I watched this movie. I didn’t realize that she was basically blacklisted from NBC by Johnny Carson, and her appearance on “The Apprentice” was basically her first time back. Her being blacklisted is also the start of a downfall he couldn’t handle, and he ultimately committed suicide.

Rivers’ career, like probably most comics or entertainers, has seen its ups and downs, and at the start of the documentary, Rivers and her team are trying everything they can to fill her schedule. As we all know by now, her schedule gets booked – and fast.

Of course, watching this documentary was bittersweet as we know how Rovers’ story ultimately ends. And the saddest part? In the movie, she talks a lot about how “getting old” has been the biggest struggle in her career, which is essentially why she got all the plastic surgery, and that’s how she reached her end.

Sad – but hey, the documentary had a happy ending! In all honesty, it was interesting to watch (although I love documentaries) and is definitely worth watching if you are a Rivers fan, or just a fan of comedy.

But there’s something else I’ve been watching…

Unlocking the Truth

From MTV: A new docuseries has got me HOOKED.

From MTV: A new docuseries has got me HOOKED.

This docuseries, “Unlocking the Truth”, started on MTV last Wednesday, hosted by Ryan Ferguson, who was recently released from prison after serving 10 years for a murder he didn’t commit. Now he’s working with a team of lawyers and investigators to help others who may be in similar situations.

The series focuses on three cases, and dives into the stories of each – and they are riveting as hell. So far, the two episodes have scraped the surface of two cases (from MTV.com):

  • Michael Politte was 14 years old when was arrested for the murder of his mother Rita Politte. She was found dead in her home after being hit with a blunt object and then set on fire. Michael is now serving a life sentence in the same prison in which Ryan spent eight years of his life.
  • Kalvin Michael Smith was 26 years old when he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and robbery for attacking pregnant Jill Marker. He has served 18 years of his 29-year sentence. Kalvin’s case has garnered the attention of many people in his town, and a “Free Kalvin Smith” movement has started in the city of Winston-Salem.

Y’all. This shit is so good! And finally, let’s not forget that the MTV Video Music Awards are on Sunday night, and I probably wouldn’t care if it weren’t for BRITNEY. We’ve all forgiven her for that one year when she opened and, well, she clearly wasn’t ready. Instead, let’s recall the good years. Here’s a personal favorite:

Followed closely by, of course:

…And that was 15 years ago. SHE LIVES, y’all – Britney lives! I am really excited to see what she pulls out for this performance. Anyway, I hope you all have a fantastic weekend – thanks for sticking with me this week, and I’ll be right back here on Monday!

Why I stopped following you online.

Social media, I cannot.

Social media, I cannot.

I’ve written a lot about social media and the effect it has on us, and it’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’ll preface this by saying that, in general, I am a fan of social media – a lot of the professional work I’ve done in the last decade revolves around the stuff, and I think it’s done wonders for entrepreneurs and creating jobs. In short, it’s changed the way we live.

But it’s also done a number on our brains, and it affects the way we conduct our relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners.

And no, this isn’t me saying that I’m jealous when my online friends post pictures of their every lavish vacation (from the packing to the plane to the washcloth animals!), or when there are birth announcements and wedding anniversary love notes.

In fact, those things make me pretty happy. There are full on albums of pictures from places I will probably never get to see, and life milestones being celebrated that I may never get to experience for myself. And I’m truly happy for my friends when their lives lend themselves to the lucky light of the world and good things happen.

But it’s the other side of it all that gets me down – if there was no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, I’d probably never pay much attention to these luxe lifestyles; or these milestone celebrations, unless of course, we all actually met up for drinks and dusted off photo albums like we once did.

So, is social media making us feel inadequate? I’m not the only one with this on the brain – I read an article on the Zoe Report that was a firsthand account of what it was like to “quit” social media, and she brings up a great point about why social feeds (particularly Instagram) can bring us down:

What’s worse, before social media, you knew people who, for example, drove a car that was better than yours, but you also knew people who drove cars that were worse than yours. This gave you perspective. Now, everyone edits their lives so that it looks as though every single person you know is having better experiences than you are, in one way or another. You may understand, rationally, that this isn’t true, but you still respond emotionally to the deceptive information you’re receiving via your Instagram feed.

She said since she quit Instagram, she hasn’t gone back, and is much happier, and finds herself actually reaching out to her friends more.

In all honesty, I don’t spend much time on Instagram. This fact alone is probably why it took me six months to realize that the last guy I slept with actually went back and UNLIKED all of my photos that he had, at one point when we were talking, liked.

And while my self-worth does not weigh itself in “likes” on Instagram, it sure stung when I realized (at 4:30 am on a Sunday) that not only did he go back and unlike all my posts, he was also the first person to like any and every picture that any and every single girl from our same high school posted, which I can see in my feed.

It was then and there that I decided I can’t play this game anymore. The first thing I did was send Instagram a big, fat middle finger, because, I have this guy blocked, along with other losers from my past, and yet I can still see whenever he likes said pics from single girls. Pic of glow bracelets? LIKE. Pic of dog? LIKE. Pic of nephew? LIKE.

Please. Blocking someone on Instagram barely does me any favors, and so, I started unfollowing people. It may not be personal, but it’s time I take control of the FOMO here. And I’m not going to subject myself to memories of an asshole or imagining him with other women just to pretend to save-face, or for the chance to see that one filtered pic of your summer night on the lake. #SorryNotSorry

In the days since, I’ve cleaned out my Facebook, too. If you’re not contributing to the happiness of the world, you’re adding to the sadness, and trust me, I’ve got sadness up to my ears. Again, nothing personal, but we’ve got to reign this digital hot mess in.

And don’t think I’m just being random and petty trying to avoid exes; I’ve got half my family, most of my coworkers, and anyone from the past that has sent me sexual or abusive messages, left inappropriate comments on my page, attempted stalking, and played the whole “Oh I was cleaning out my friends list and accidentally deleted you”-game; nope, block, and goodbye.

I have always enjoyed Twitter more, and lately SnapChat, and I think it’s because (on Twitter) I can interact with people in my industry that I may never meet in-person, but we can still relate on similar issues. I also like SnapChat because, for the most part, it’s fun and unfiltered, and it’s less about complaining and more about laughing at life.

Yes, I realize I may sound like a crazed, cut-throat lunatic right now, but if we know there’s something sucking the life out of us, why are we so slow to cut it out?

Kelly Evans, news anchor for NBC, recently deactivated all of her social accounts after realizing she needed to spend less time on the artificial relationships online, and more time on the friends, family, and work relationships right in front of her.

In the article from NBC.com, she says it worked, and she actually went back to reading a printed newspaper to get informed each morning (!). Here’s what else:

But what I have turned “off” — hopefully for good — is the need to keep up with the Instagram Joneses. Am I “missing out” on stuff now as a result? Sure! And I can’t wait to hear all about it when I catch up with everybody directly.

So, will I be deleting my accounts? Not quite yet. I have, however, deleted several apps, making the mindless scrolling less of an option. And I’ve unfollowed people that I don’t care to see updates for. If we really need to catch up, email me, call me, and let’s meet – in the unfiltered, real-time, no phones kinda way.

Call me crazy, call me old school, call me out of touch – hell, call me maybe – but I’m ready to get a little more real in a way that makes me smile #NoFilter.

BBC: ‘The Secret Life of Cowboys’.

Happy Humpday! Blanche’s Book Club chose the latest read at random, among the shelves in the library. I really did sort of stumble up on it, thought the title was cool, and then saw a quote of praise on the back from Michael Perry, author of “Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren At A Time“, which is a book I absolutely LOVED. Just in case the title sounds interesting to you, here is the description from Amazon:

Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin, where the local vigilante is a farmer’s wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, Population: 485 is a comic and sometimes heartbreaking true tale leavened with quieter meditations on an overlooked America.

So, anyway, the book I picked up and read was “The Secret Life of Cowboys” by Tom Groneburg. Here is the description from Amazon:

In this classic memoir, a young man facing a future he doesn’t want to claim has an inspiration—Go West. Tom Groneberg leaves behind friends and family, follows his heart, and heads to a resort town in the Colorado Rockies, where he earns his spurs as a wrangler leading tourists on horseback. Later, Groneberg moves to Montana, where he works for wages at a number of ranches before buying his own ranch. Demystifying the image of cowboys as celluloid heroes,The Secret Life of Cowboys is a coming-of-age story as stunning as the land itself and a revealing look at America’s last frontier. 

Okay, yes, Tom Groneburg leaves behind his family and his friends – he leaves traditional college life as we know it and learns to be a proper ranch hand, by being thrown into the work and simply doing it every single day. But, Groneburg did have the love of his life by his side, so he wasn’t alone in that sense.

A few scenes in this book really got me – like when Groneburg learned to build a fence for cattle, and it took him hours to simply dig a hole, get the post in, and then start threading wires. He learned to lead horse trail rides for tourists, and dig a well to get water to his freezing cabin. The guy lived off barely any money, worked at all hours, and even learned how to ride a rodeo horse in an arena, decades after most people should.

I loved the courage in this book, despite the fact that I could relate to barely anything in it. A review from David Abrams in January Magazine sums it up nicely:

The Secret Life of Cowboys is a first-rate account of men and women whose lives revolve around hard land and stubborn animals. Through his portraits of ranchers, wranglers and rodeo champs, Groneberg goes beneath the stereotype of saddles, saloons and sagebrush.

Good-bye, John Wayne. So long, Gary Cooper. It’s time for you to ride into the sunset of mythology. This a book that tells it like it is, showing both the joys and the dark agonies of life in the modern American West. What Frank McCourt did for Irish poverty, Groneberg does for Montana ranching.

Truth be told, this book is not so much about the hidden secrets of cowboys as it is about Tom Groneberg, disillusioned kid from Chicago who goes west in search of purpose. “I chased a dream and it kicked me in the teeth,” he writes. “Yet I find myself falling for it again and again.” It’s a cliché from the Me Generation, but Groneberg does”find himself” in the hard work, the unforgiving land, and the company of horses.

If you’ve ever ridden a horse, fantasized about the west, or hell, been fascinated by a sunset – this book is for you.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Who Do You Love?” by Jennifer Weiner. Want to read it with us? We’d love to have you! Share your thoughts on the book with us via the blog comments, email (holly@thebitterlemon.com) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.

#LochteGate & other times men failed us.

Boy, did #LochteGate PISS. ME. OFF! Here I am thinking “Omigosh, Ryan Lochte is soooo hot”, and I’m cheering for him in his only two races, and I’m putting him on my SnapChat, and I was so sad when I heard the news that he’d been robbed at gunpoint. I frantically checked Twitter to see if he was okay; I diligently watched TODAY as he explained the entire story… and then we find out it was all a lie? What the hell?

Aside from it just being disappointing that Lochte turned out to be the douche he looks like, it looks bad for all the athletes, and it looks bad that there was no real punishment for him. It’s ridiculous, and I honestly wish he would get his medals taken away and never be allowed in or at an Olympic event ever again.

But this whole Loch-Mess got me thinking about all the times celeb guys let us down – you know, those moments when you just want to put your head in your hands. Pure disappointment. So, here are some of those moments, in no particular order.

John Mayer’s Stupid Mouth 

Everyone knows I love John Mayer. In fact, love is probably an understatement. But, I’m not blind to the fact that he’s said some really stupid shit that will not be repeated here. In fact, there were many years that his stupidity made it difficult to be a fan – it was almost as if every fan had to have a prepped defense at the drop of his name.

There was his comment about Jessica Simpson in bed, his embarrassing interview with Rolling Stone magazine, that unfortunate time he dated Taylor Swift, and his general sense of douche-baggery during the Jennifer Anniston years. We rolled our eyes, and we moved on – but not until he apologized publicly and moved to the bowels of Montana.

Every Contestant on ‘The Bachelor’

Okay, so maybe not EVERY contestant, but that show manages to highlight some of the WORST dudes in society and turn them into D-list celebs. Let’s travel down memory lane to the one and only Jake Pavelka (season 14), who stole our hearts and then chose VIENNA! Argh!! Honestly, his season was probably the one that really turned me off the most. If you recall, Jake was a pilot and ABC ate that shit uuuup – changing up the theme song to feature Jeffrey Osborne’s “On the Wings of Love” – which was catchy as hell, I’ll admit.

And who can forget Juan Pablo Galavis (season 18)? Granted, we were blessed with Andi Dorfman’s spice because of him, but still… he was awful. And I can’t sleep tonight without mentioning Arie Luyendyk, Jr. – from “The Bachelorette”, season 8 – I just cannot with him.

Justin Bieber’s Antics

Between pissing in a mop bucket, to egging his neighbor’s house, getting a DUI, and in general, just being a little punk ass, Justin Bieber lets down us Beliebers a lot. But I’d be lying if I said his little shit storm of an attitude isn’t what makes him so likable. He will never learn, because he doesn’t have to – and we’ll all still be here when he decides to come back to Instagram.

Lance Armstrong Caught Doping

In October 2012, the USADA found Lance Armstrong had bee doping since 1998, and consequently stripped him of his 7 winning titles of the Tour de France, along with any prize money. Suspicion grew against Armstrong for years after quickly recovering from cancer, and having several questionable urine samples. It’s easy to say that after that, his LiveStrong campaign went right down the toilet.

Zac Efron Goes to Rehab

I love me some Zac Efron, but none of us can forget when the hottest star EVER packed his bags and went to rehab for drugs and alcohol in 2013. And don’t get me wrong – I think going to rehab is a respectable move. The disappointing part was the heavy cocaine use that was basically his dirty little secret. Many celeb reporting outlets said Efron was out of control on cocaine, and that his problem was not about alcohol. Either way, he seems to be on the right track (we hope), and should probably come hang out in Austin any day now.

Brian Williams Joins Club of Liars 

In February of last year, it was brought to the world’s attention that newscaster Brian Williams had fabricated a story about being in a helicopter that was shot in a war zone in Iraq. His story contracted that of people that were there, and the top-rated journalist admitted he was wrong. This entire thing made me so sad, because I truly respected him as a reporter. And honestly, I still do, and I’m glad he is working a second chance on MSNBC, after he was quickly blackballed from NBC’s Nightly News.

Chesapeake Shores: Episode 2.

Her brows tho...

Her brows tho…

Nothing like a good little show to sit down to on a Sunday night, right? After last week’s drama-filled premier, this week has something to live up to.

At the start of the episode, the kids of the family are sitting around a campfire (soooo dreamy), as they are recovering after their mom/grandma fell (last episode) and is safely recovering in the hospital.

Shortly after, we are blessed with the singing and guitar strums of Jesse Metcalfe, or I mean, Trace. Helloooo!

Abby runs by, and they start talking about how when Trace moved back, oddly her father offered him a job. Trace seems suspicious of this and asks her if he knew he needed work. She didn’t seem to know what he was talking about. Hmm…

There are tensions between Jess and her mom, and stepmom, but meanwhile, her father announces he’s “taking the summer off” and everyone seems shocked by this news.

Jess tells her family that she’s going to have the B&B ready for the weekend, but it’s clearly in no shape for that to be a true statement, and her dad seems irritated. I’m getting the eery feeling that something is going to happen to their father…

Abby and Trace go on a walk on the beach, and she asks him about his music career. He shrugs it off and says, “It’s there when I need it”, but she reminds him that music was his dream; is he really just going to give it up?

He turns the conversation back on her and says he remembers she had a lot of plans, too, but what happens to them? I’m sure this is not the last we’ll hear about it.

Abby’s brother is prepping to deploy, as in, he’s waiting for his cab to come and take him to the airport, and she asks him if he’s scared to go back. He tells her no, because he was baptized just last week. She seems shocked by this, and then the cab arrives.

He tells her not to worry about him, to just take care of herself.

Things are definitely heating up between Jess and her step mom – she wants nothing to do with her, despite having to live in her home.

And then, we are blessed with a shirtless Trace, despite an emotional scene – he gets news about someone having to have surgery, and heads out to the water with his guitar. And then he beats the shit out of his acoustic, yells, and tosses it into the water.

But by the end of the episode, Jess is hosting the grand opening of her bed & breakfast… and Trace is outside waiting. He seems pretty pensive and doesn’t understand why Abby didn’t want to kiss the other night.

He says, “Do you even know what makes you happy anymore?” Ouch. And then, Abby’s ex husband pulls into the driveway, and Trace is all “Great, love to meet him”, but she insists he keeps to himself. So, he watches from his truck as Abby starts to fight with her ex.

He presents her with papers from his attorney and says her summer plans to stay in Chesapeake Shores aren’t going to work for him. The last scene is her opening the letter, and she breaks down crying.

Hmmm! Stay tuned for next week’s episode! I’m excited to see what happens between her and Trace… of course🙂

Podcasts I’ve been listening to, Part IV.

Happy Friday! It should come as no shock that I’m still deep in podcast land; listening to as many episodes as possible to make it through my days in a cubicle. Thanks to other podcast listeners, and just general digging, I’ve managed to find some new (new to me) shows to keep me occupied when my usual podcasts haven’t posted a new episode yet.

Risk! I heard about the Risk! podcast from listening to another podcast (so meta), and I was pleasantly surprised once I started listening. Here is the “About Us” section from the Risk! website:

RISK! is a live show and podcast “where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public” hosted by Kevin Allison, of the legendary TV sketch comedy troupe The State. The award-winning live show happens monthly in New York and Los Angeles. It’s featured people like Janeane Garofalo, Lisa Lampanelli, Kevin Nealon, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, Lili Taylor, Rachel Dratch, Andy Borowitz and more, dropping the act and showing a side of themselves we’ve never seen before. The weekly podcast gets around a million downloads each month. Slate.com called it “jaw-dropping, hysterically funny, and just plain touching.”

Dear Sugar. I believe I heard about Dear Sugar from another podcast, also. Most podcasts feature ads for other podcasts and I think this was one of those situations. I’ve just started listening to this one this week, so I’m only a few episodes in, but so far, I’m getting a more doctor-scientific-ish version of “Dear Abby” – type of vibe. Here’s the website description for the podcast:

The universe has good news for the lost, lonely and heartsick. Dear Sugar is here, and speaking straight into your ears. Hosted by the original Sugars, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, the podcast fields all your questions — no matter how deep or dark — and offers radical empathy in return. New episodes are released weekly.

The Moth. I heard about The Moth on the season 5 finale of “Girls”, when Hannah goes to a live storytelling event, ready to spill the beans about Adam and Jessa:

I didn’t realize it was a podcast, too, until I saw it on the top podcast charts. Here is the brief description from The Moth website

The Moth Podcast features re-airs of all new episodes of The Moth Radio Hour, plus additional stories from our vast archive recorded over the past two decades. Episodes are released every Tuesday.

The stories are a mixed bag; they are all true, but some are hilarious and some are really sad. I listened to a few stories from middle school students during a “takeover” week. If you’re into stories, this is a goodie.

2 Dope Queens. A coworker recommended this one to me and I will be forever grateful, because it is so hilarious, I listed to all 13 episodes within two days. I am anxiously awaiting new ones! A little bit about the show, according to the website:

Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams are funny. They’re black. They’re BFFs. And they host a live comedy show in Brooklyn. Join the 2 Dope Queens, along with their favorite comedians, for stories about sex, romance, race, hair journeys, living in New York, and Billy Joel. Plus a whole bunch of other s**t.

What podcasts are you guys listening to? I’m always looking for new ones and I’d love to hear your ideas! Have a fantastic weekend, and stay safe…and dry! See you here, on Monday🙂

Calling Baton Rouge (my heart).

Parts of LSU campus underwater on Saturday.

Parts of LSU campus underwater on Saturday.

The first time Baton Rouge felt like home was around 3 a.m. in January 2004, after making the 15-hour drive from Indianapolis to the Dalrymple exit near my dorm. The Louisiana State University football team had just won the National Championship, and there was a giant sign welcoming students back to campus after a long Christmas break.

I won’t lie, my first semester was hard. I felt like I didn’t fit in, that maybe I moved too far away from home, that maybe college just wasn’t for me, and I didn’t know if I even wanted to go back. But, as I would come to find, I’m a person who gives second chances. And I’m so glad I gave Baton Rouge that chance.

I left Baton Rouge nearly 1 year ago to-date, and as many tough things I went through there, it remains home to many memories I hold dear. There is a house on Olive Street, just West of campus, where I fell in love one chilly October; a sorority house on Lakeshore Drive where I met some of my best friends; a massive football stadium where I spent some of my best Saturday nights; a basement newsroom on campus where I retreated between classes, typing away to meet deadlines; a bar near the overpass where I learned how to make a proper martini; a complex off Corporate where I had my first apartment all by myself; a clothing boutique where I read my first poem for a crowd…among so many others.

And as I write this, many of those landmarks are drowning.

And I know, it isn’t about me, for many in Louisiana it’s about their life, their homes, their childhood, their families. And for that, my heart breaks.

Last week, southern Louisiana was hit with incredible downpours adding up to more than 30 inches of water, overflowing storm drains and various bodies of water in the surrounding areas. The overflowing water has since forced more than 10,000 people out of their homes and into emergency shelters, into the homes of friends and family, or even homeless. As of yesterday morning, more than 70,000 Louisiana residents have applied for federal aid, with more than 40,000 homes reported as having damage.

Even though the rain has paused, forecasters remind the public that all of the water that is currently upstream, must come down, and the water will continue to rise. The American Red Cross has stated this as the worst natural disaster to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy, despite receiving very little news coverage.

On Sunday morning, I laid in my bed, scrolling through Facebook, reading the status updates from my friends and colleagues in Baton Rouge, many of whom have been displaced. Some of them reported having to evacuate their homes, only to seek refuge at a friend or family’s home, and then evacuate again. Some of them were seeking boats or phone numbers for rescuers to save their elder family members. A former roommate of mine said her parents left her childhood home with nothing but the clothes on their backs, even leaving the family pets behind and only hoping for the best.

By Sunday evening, I was in tears. I think about my friends who are hurting; I think about how much a home means to us as humans; how tough it must feel to leave it all behind. I think about all of the families in a shelter, sitting in someone else’s clothes, sleeping on a cot, or in a sleeping bag, and all the small children not knowing what’s happening.

In all honesty, I’ve escaped any sort of real tragedy my entire life. My childhood home caught fire just a few months after we moved out. The house I lived in during high school flooded after I moved to Louisiana – I visited my hometown and that house shortly after the flood, and it looked terrible.

In Baton Rouge, I skirted Hurricane Katrina by mere miles; the sorority house I lived in at the time served as shelter for those displaced. For Hurricane Gustav, the fence surrounding my apartment complex disappeared in the wind, and many of the apartments below mine were flooded. Sure, I lost power and was stir-crazy, but I suffered no damage.

Even driving to work days after the storm was very emotional – I hated seeing my city in such disarray. Even one of my favorite bars burned to the ground; and with it went my initials I’d carved into the wooden banister during a first date with a boy from work.

But now, I’m 7 hours away from the sinking city I once called home. And I know right now all I can do is help financially, and possibly emotionally, and I can spread the word. If you live far away and have any inkling to help, I want to tell you how.

How to Help Baton Rouge & #LaFlood Victims

For starters, my dear friend and sorority sister, Sarah, is living in Baton Rouge, and has donated hours and hours of her time to helping those in need. She has set up a very helpful Amazon Wishlist for specific items that are needed – many shelters are turning away items that are not on their lists. If you choose to ship to the gift address, they will be delivered straight to Baton Rouge. Sarah has been using her home as a receiving dock for these items and is delivering them to the shelters in need.

Sarah has also set up a GoFundMe account strictly for helping flood victims and volunteers. This is where my awesome mom has made a donation, and we have been receiving multiple updates daily from Sarah telling us where our money is being spent – including receipts – and I can assure you, she is purchasing the exact items that are being requested at the shelters, and from those in need. I say this because I know people, including myself, are weary to throw money at a problem without knowing how it’s being spent. Trust me on this one.

I’m also noting the Baton Rouge Food Bank, as I trusted it with my annual donation when I lived in Baton Rouge. As of yesterday, it was reported the Food Bank had four feet of water in their facility; and they are badly in need of help. For more information on the Food Bank, click here, and to make a monetary donation to the Food Bank, click here.

If you cannot help monetarily, I know they could always use volunteers if you live in the area. Don’t live close? Share this information; spread the word. I don’t think many people realize just how awful this disaster really is. And the thing is, just because the rain has stopped, and even once the water recedes, there are STILL going to be people in need.

As I’ve mentioned all week, if there is anything else I can do to help, please let me know. My home is your home; I cook a delish chili, and I’ve got pillows and blankets for days. If you’re down to bunk with Blanche, we would love to have you.

If there is one thing I know about Louisiana, it is the spirit to continue to rise, no matter what. May this disaster only be proof of that.

Affordable, delicious eats!

Vegetarian lasagna!

Vegetarian lasagna!

I am still on a very tight budget, although I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but as a foodie, lowering my budget on groceries has been tough. I love digging through my books and clippings of recipes, making a grocery list, and spending time cooking it… and of course, eating it. And, as you probably know, lately it seems like eating homemade meals is just as expensive as going out.

But my budget has only allowed for very simple, cheap meals, made from what I can find from the aisles of my local discounted grocer. And admittedly, many of those foods are less healthy, which is not something I am used to.

I went from eating mostly fresh, organic foods, to processed carbs, probably full of GMOs. But, before I sound like a privileged asshole, I have found a few meals I’ve enjoyed. I found that I can get most of my items on discount and then splurge on one “fresh” item at the grocery.

So, I made spaghetti -purchasing the noodles and sauce at Big Lots, and getting grass fed beef at the grocery. The entire meal was still under $10 and had at least 4-5 servings. I also made brown rice and beans, which I often ate with salsa and tortilla chips, I splurged on a rotisserie chicken, which I ate with baked sweet potatoes. I haven’t been eating out, so when I craved Chinese takeout, I made my own version of fried rice with brown rice, frozen stir fry veggies, and a fried egg on top (plus soy sauce and sriracha) – it was pretty good!

But last week, I saw a recipe in my email inbox from Bethenny/SkinnyGirl. It was for Vegetarian lasagna, with an added twist of pesto sauce. I decided to make it, provided the pesto and cheese wasn’t expensive.

To my surprise, all of the ingredients were very cheap! Almost all of them were at Big Lots – the whole wheat noodles, red sauce (which was optional in the recipe), and shredded mozzarella. I went to the grocery for the pesto, which was $1.99 for the store-brand, and the ricotta, which was also around $2. The entire meal was around $10, and offers at least 5 servings, and it is delicious!

I had fun actually making something from a recipe, and eating something that I know wasn’t absolutely terrible for me. Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

– 8 ounces whole wheat lasagna noodles
– 15 ounces part-skim ricotta
– 1/3 cup chopped basil
– 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (I left these out, and threw in a handful of spinach I already had)
– 1/3 cup packaged pesto
– 4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella

Optional: Add your favorite red sauces between layers

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Set aside.
  2. Combine the ricotta, basil, and pine nuts in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray. Spread 1/3 of the pesto into the bottom of the pan. Cover with half the noodles. Spread half the herb-ricotta mixture over the noodles.
  4. Repeat with another 1/3 of the pesto, the remaining noodles, and the remaining ricotta-herb mixture, then cover the whole thing with the pesto. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
  5. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes or until heated through and bubbling.

If you’ve got go-to, budget-friendly meals, I’d love to hear about them!

Making friends…as an adult.

Creating lasting friendships as an adult? The struggle is real.

Creating lasting friendships as an adult? The struggle is real.

I was having lunch with a few coworkers last week (read: we were gathered around a rotting picnic table eating from our packed lunches), and we got to talking about how difficult it is to make friends as an adult, particularly once you’ve graduated from college.

My coworkers explained they did have people they called; people they liked to meet up for drinks with, but it was almost impossible to get anyone to agree to nail down a plan – everyone seems to be in search of the Bigger, Better Deal. The BBD.

As I attend more and more dance classes, I meet more people that would make great company. And I’ve thought to myself, “Okay, once I get out of my spending freeze, I should invite that person to brunch,” and then I think, well screw the spending freeze, I could still invite that person over for a pool day or to have wine at my apartment, right? But how do you even approach someone in a way that isn’t completely awkward?

An article in the Wall Street Journal, “The Science of Making Friends” says we are constantly shedding friendships, and the older we get, the less time we feel we have for friendships. The article also suggests to treat new friendships like dating; with intention, but also with caution. Interesting.

One idea I liked from the articles was to be a friend when someone needs one. Perhaps an acquaintance is going through a difficult time; bring them a coffee or simply tell them you’re there if they need someone to talk to. I think these small gestures can go a long way.

An article from Bustle, “7 Ways to Make New Friends as an Adult” suggests using MeetUp – a large networking group that allows people in the same city to create their own “MeetUps” or join one someone else has created. Sounds cool, though there is a monthly fee. Meh. There’s also a similar site for women called “Girlfriend Circles” that looks kind of cool.

Another suggestion was to volunteer. This idea makes me excited, because I DID sign up to volunteer at the Austin Film Festival this year! I primarily signed up because I heard it’s a great way to meet people in the industry… and since I’m working on a script, I’ve got to start somewhere. But now that the event is getting closer, there are events (the first one is Friday) left and right, and I’m excited to start meeting some of the other volunteers. Sure, we’re not saving the world, but at least we have two things in common: film and Austin.

The good thing I discovered in reading all of these articles is that a lot of people feel the way I feel – making friendships past 25 is a challenge, just as anything else can be. And when looking for new friends, it feels really vulnerable putting yourself out there, but it’s comforting to know that scientifically, we can bond with just about anyone.

So, go ahead, and put yourself out there. Invite someone to do something! I know I am going to try… what’s the worst that could happen?

Don’t answer that.

Chesapeake Shores: Episode 1.

I'll be recapping a new series from The Hallmark Channel!

I’ll be recapping a new series from The Hallmark Channel!

I don’t think I’ve been as vocal on the blog about just how much I love the Hallmark Channel, but it’s true! I love watching their marathons of “The Golden Girls”, adore their easy-going original movies (I have actually started working on a script to pitch their way), and mark my calendar when they strike up a new original series.

So, I will proudly admit that I’ve been counting down the days to the premier of “Chesapeake Shores” for MONTHS. Here’s the scoop from the Hallmark website:

The multi-generational family drama of “Chesapeake Shores” follows Abby O’Brien (Meghan Ory), a high-powered career woman, divorcee and mother to twin daughters, who makes a trip from New York City to her hometown of Chesapeake Shores. Her visit home brings Abby face to face with her past, including her high school sweetheart Trace (Jesse Metcalfe), her uncompromising father Mick (Treat Williams) and her esteemed grandmother Nell (Diane Ladd). Abby realizes the toll her career has taken on her ability to be a hands-on mother to her daughters, and considers a permanent move to Chesapeake Shores.

Before we go any further here, let’s start with these two words: Jesse Metcalfe. Hottie, hot, hotterson. You may recognize him for his role in “Desperate Housewives”, as well as in “John Tucker Must Die”. And he looks so good – I have a feeling you’re going to be hearing that a lot over the course of this season.

The “Chesapeake Shores” TV series is based off the book series (there are 13 books in total!) written by Sherryl Woods.

The premier episode opened with Abby running on the treadmill in her home, and we are immediately aware that she’s got it good. Her New York apartment is quite stunning, and she’s the person we pretty much all want to be: a fit, cool mom who’s organized and looks like Anne Hathaway.

At the office, we learn that Abby is successful, and extremely poised considering her coworker is dating her ex-husband. And that’s when things start getting interesting! Mid-meeting, Abby gets a call from her sister, begging her to come home for an “emergency” in Chesapeake Shores.

Abby goes home, possibly trying to avoid the news that her ex is getting remarried, okay and also to have an excuse to stop drinking kale-lemon shakes. Her family’s home is pretty much what dreams are made of: waterfront, sturdy cottage, with those heavy doors we all know from homes we felt safe in.

The emergency is, her sister, Jess, needs help at the bank after falling behind on a loan she took to fix up a house in order to run her own bed and breakfast. Though it takes some convincing, Abby heads to the bank the next morning to see how she can help.

To her surprise, her ex-fiance Trace (Metcalfe) is there, and immediately confronts her about why she walked out on him for New York. Which, I have to admit, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would leave a man looking like Jesse Metcalfe behind. Sorry, New York.

The small town embraces Abby’s return, though she says it’s just for a weekend… despite the fact that she gets news her daughters’ nanny just quit. It’s also apparent to Abby’s family just how busy she is with work, so busy, in fact, that she can’t keep track of her calendar or keep up with her daughters’ schedules, which results in a difficult, late-night conversation with her father.

During her regular morning jog on the beach, Trace catches up with her and tells her he bought the “beach shack” – a landmark they apparently enjoyed as teenagers. He says it reminds him of some of the best times in his life.

Later, Abby catches up with Trace and apologizes for leaving unexpectedly years earlier. She explains herself, and just as it seems like things are growing soft between them, some gorgeous girl appears in the mix to see Trace. Ughhh.

On Abby’s jog back to the family home, she spots an ambulance in front of the house. Abby heads to the hospital and makes plans to stay in town longer. In the midst of all this, her ex continuously calls her, because he wants custody of their two daughters.

A dramatic episode this one – slow clap for the Hallmark Channel!

Just when you thought all was lost, Trace rides up to the family home on a moped, looking cute, and offering to take Abby on a walk. He assures her that he doesn’t have a girlfriend, but he appreciated seeing her hint of jealousy.

So, off they go, and Trace ends up shirtless (DEAR GOD), and they go for a swim in the lake – I’m pleasantly shocked at how far Hallmark let this go. Sure, they only kissed, but, you know.

He admits to Abby that he went looking for her in New York, but didn’t have the courage to actually make it to her door… and then Abby confesses she paid attention to his country music career over the course of all these years… and now, they’re both back in town – though Trace has yet to admit why he’s back.

Amidst all the drama, Abby gets a job offer in Baltimore, and is feeling pretty confused about the state of her life. Don’t worry, the premier episode ended with fireworks. Literally. And the season preview looks quite fantastic. I can’t wait!

I hope you will continue to join me for my weekly recaps of “Chesapeake Shore”!

Celebrating the 90’s (You’re Invited)!

So, if you haven’t heard – which, if you got The Bitter Lemon email newsletter, you would have heard already – I am having a 90’s celebration on Saturday (tomorrow!), right on SnapChat! There’s going to be many, many movies, even festive food, possibly terrible fashion and makeup, 90’s music, trivia, and general reminiscing about the greatest 10 years of my life: THE 90’s!

Join in the fun by following me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 – and then just having a 90’s night of your own! Dig out your old DVDs, your favorite tunes from the 90’s, find your cordless phone, strap on your pager, and let’s DO this!!

As I was pulling out all of my 90’s DVDs the other night, I got to thinking about why I love the 90’s as much as I do.

In 1991, I was in first grade, meaning that I lived with my parents for the entire decade, had no bills, and I also started wearing colored mascara in 4th grade, had a clear purple cordless phone, and modeled my bedroom after that of Clarissa Darling’s – minus Sam coming through my window.

In 1997, I started middle school, which I am still labeling as the most terrifying point in my life. I’d left my school friends behind over district lines, and was tossed into a world of the unknown: combination lockers, ala cart lunches, and Gap Worldwide t-shirts.

I immediately got my cartilage pierced (which is still here), traded my glasses for contacts, overloaded on Bath & Bodyworks self-tanner, and properly waxed my Doc Martins. I even wore a Limited Too two-piece suit to my first boy-girl swim party.

And then, I met a group of girls that loved Hanson. And we bought issues of Teen Bop, we had slumber parties, we wore themed pajama pants, didn’t bother with boys, conquered video games, and ate endless amounts of candy. Yeah, the 90’s were good to me.

So, what else was happening in the 90’s? Let’s take a look:

Music 

The 90’s gave us TONS of amazing music, including Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”, MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This”, Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and we welcomed artists of all kinds, including Hootie & the Blowfish, Hanson, The Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Sister Hazel, Christina Aguilera, 98 Degrees, Weezer, The Dave Matthews Band, The Goo Goo Dolls, Mariah Carey, TLC, Jewel, and Alanis Morissette, among several others.

Some of my favorite singles from the 90’s include Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream”, “Wonderwall” by Oasis, “Buddy Holly” by Weezer, “Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees, “Groove Is In The Heart” by Dee-Lite, “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” by Lauren Hill, and “California Love” by Snoop Dogg.

Fashion

It’s safe to say the 90’s had its own look. Grunge music definitely inspired several looks of the decade, from bold nail polish and band tees, while preppy looks from “Clueless” made their appearance, and of course, sporty looks thanks to The Spice Girls.

A group of offbeat fashion icons emerged in the early ’90s, giving girls everywhere the confidence to be themselves and wear whatever they want. Blossom Russo will forever be remembered for her hats, Clarissa Darling’s mixed prints and oversize Keith Haring t-shirts are the stuff of legends, and Kelly Kapowski could pull off a crop top like no other.

On the early seasons of Friends, Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel Green became famous for her layered, choppy haircut, created by stylist Chris McMillan. It remains one of the most iconic hairstyles of all time, and was the most requested celebrity cut of the ’90s.

And how can we talk about 90’s fashion without mentioning “Sex & The City”, which premiered on HBO in 1998. Sure, it was a show about sex, love, friends, and New York… but, the fashion. Wow.

Your guide to 90's fashion

Your guide to 90’s fashion

TV

Who can forget television in the 90’s? Shows that were popular in those years include:

  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
  • Boy Meets World
  • Seinfeld
  • Full House
  • The Simpsons
  • Saved by The Bell
  • Rugrats
  • The Real World
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  • Dawson’s Creek
  • Friends
  • Family Matters
  • Frasier
  • Home Improvement
  • My So-Called Life
  • The Wonder Years
  • The Secret World of Alex Mack

…Can we just talk about that last one? Did anyone watch “The Secret World of Alex Mack”? I definitely did, and I distinctly remember her turning into a silver puddle of whatever it was?? Here’s the show description from IMBD:

She’s Alex Mack. One minute she’s walking home…the next there’s a crash and she’s drenched in some weird chemical! Then she gets powers…

Ha!

News

As sad as it is to mention, the Oklahoma City bombing happened in 1995. I remember going to church that night, and hearing people talk about it.

On a lighter note, Bill Clinton was elected into office in 1992, and everyone (ok, so maybe not everyone) thought he was so hip and cool.

In the wake of the Rodney King verdict and accompanying riots, the verdict for the case against O.J. Simpson was as equally polarizing in the later half of the decade.

Technology

You may not believe it, but the internet launched in 1991! I remember my dad bringing home our first computer; it was such a new and cool experience, even though I mainly played solitaire on it. I do remember my dad showing me the “Santa Tracker” on Christmas Eve though, and I thought that was pretty cool.

The 90's bought us the iMac.

The 90’s bought us the iMac.

Of course, the internet opened the doors to many new things – one of them being Napster in 1999, and an entire world of free (and eventually illegal) digital content. In 1995, eBay was founded, and three years later, we met Google.

Technology also had an effect on popular toys, including gaming systems, the Talkboy and TalkGirl, and other talking toys, such as the FURBY! And who can forget the Tamagotchi?!

Other Trends

In 1997, we were introduced to the world of Harry Potter when the first book of the series was published. The 90’s were dotted with fun little things, such as mood rings, Lip Smackers lip balm, mini backpacks and platform shoes.

ALL HAIL.

ALL HAIL.

Anyone remember inflatable furniture? Yep, it was popular, right along with Trapper Keepers, discmans, pagers, Bubble Tape, and Doritos 3-D.

…So, come party with me tomorrow! I originally said 6pm for the start time, but my stack of movies is pretty tall, so the chances are likely that I’ll be goofing off on SnapChat all day. Check out the trivia, and some old school music, and a large pile of Pizza Rolls. Hope to see you there!

BBC: ‘Lost Girls’.

The latest read for Blanche’s Book Club is for all the true-crime lovers out there! I saw this book on a reading blog I have liked for years, and I added it to my list. I love true crime books, but I have to be in the mood to read them, and frankly, this has been the summer of marshmallow reads.

But then I had lunch with someone who’d read this book and said I would absolutely love it. And they were RIGHT. The book? “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery” by Robert Kolker. Here is the description from Amazon.com:

“Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a haunting and humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island, in a compelling tale of unsolved murder and Internet prostitution.

One late spring evening in 2010, Shannan Gilbert, after running through the oceanfront community of Oak Beach screaming for her life, went missing. No one who had heard of her disappearance thought much about what had happened to the twenty-four-year-old: she was a Craigslist prostitute who had been fleeing a scene—of what, no one could be sure. The Suffolk County Police, too, seemed to have paid little attention—until seven months later, when an unexpected discovery in a bramble alongside a nearby highway turned up four bodies, all evenly spaced, all wrapped in burlap. But none of them Shannan’s.

There was Maureen Brainard-Barnes, last seen at Penn Station in Manhattan three years earlier, and Melissa Barthelemy, last seen in the Bronx in 2009. There was Megan Waterman, last seen leaving a hotel in Hauppage, Long Island, just a month after Shannan’s disappearance in 2010, and Amber Lynn Costello, last seen leaving a house in West Babylon a few months later that same year. Like Shannan, all four women were petite and in their twenties, they all came from out of town to work as escorts, and they all advertised on Craigslist and its competitor, Backpage.

In a triumph of reporting—and in a riveting narrative—Robert Kolker presents the first detailed look at the shadow world of escorts in the Internet age, where making a living is easier than ever and the dangers remain all too real. He has talked exhaustively with the friends and family of each woman to reveal the three-dimensional truths about their lives, the struggling towns they came from, and the dreams they chased. And he has gained unique access to the Oak Beach neighborhood that has found itself the focus of national media scrutiny—where the police have flailed, the body count has risen, and the neighbors have begun pointing fingers at one another. There, in a remote community, out of sight of the beaches and marinas scattered along the South Shore barrier islands, the women’s stories come together in death and dark mystery. Lost Girls is a portrait not just of five women, but of unsolved murder in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.”

“Lost Girls” tells the stories of five women, all living seemingly normal lives, until they fall on difficult times – whether financial, situational, or emotional – and end up working as prostitutes.

Some of them start of in traditional escort houses, but all of them eventually end up online, particularly on Craigslist, because they make more money, don’t have to deal with a pimp, and most of all, they don’t have to stand on street corners to wait for clients.

What lures them into the business is the same thing that keeps them there – fairly easy money, big pay, the ability to provide for their families, and freedom.

That is, until they all get out of the business in the same way: cold blooded murder.

I loved this book for many reasons. Yes, it was a little scary and reading it after dark was not really an option (which is probably why I read most of it in one sitting on Sunday). However, Kolker really digs to find the stories of these women, who were basically forgotten by… everyone except their families.

Without blatantly saying it, Kolker tells another story: about how we (meaning society) tend to treat people in the sex industry, mainly based on stereotypes, and that is what I found to be most fascinating about this book.

My only disappointment? That this is Kolker’s first and only book! I’ll definitely be on the lookout for his next one (if it ever happens).

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Who Do You Love?” by Jennifer Weiner. Want to read it with us? We’d love to have you! Share your thoughts on the book with us via the blog comments, email (holly@thebitterlemon.com) or on Twitter & SnapChat @OrangeJulius7.

Ditching disappointment.

Always under a rain cloud.

Always under a rain cloud.

I’ve been thinking a lot about disappointment lately. I mean, do you ever get to that point where you’re just not even feeling mad, more just let down?

Disappointment can come from anywhere. Speaking from experience, I’d say recently I felt disappointment when I couldn’t make it to Indianapolis to see the Dave Matthews concert; or when a guy I liked admitted he was only interested in hooking up; or when I discovered a TYPO in my cover letter, or when a wedding date stopped talking to me; or when the last person I slept with actually UNLIKED every single picture of mine on Instagram, as if he wished the memories would disappear.

I mean… come on.

Disappoint happens when your expectations exceed reality. And that is not a good feeling. The best way I can really describe it, is that scene in “500 Days of Summer”…

These are all moments where I just felt like throwing my hands up and doing a lil, “Whatever”. So, how can we handle disappointment in any remotely positive way? Well, I found some great advice on the Tiny Buddha website:

For starters, you’ve got to let yourself feel the emotions. I’ve had so many conversations with friends where they want to do everything they can in order to make the bad feelings go away; and trust me, I’ve been there. But sometimes, you’ve got to just feel all the feels in order to get it out of the way.

Once you give yourself some time to let it all out, it will be easier to look at the situation with more clarity, and you’ll be able to gain some perspective on it. But know that this will ONLY happen if you give yourself that time.

Next, you’ve got to remind yourself who you really are. Don’t let this disappointment take over your personality, or your life. This will help you cope with situations that don’t align with who you are.

And finally, find acceptance. Know that disappointment is a part of life, and you will experience ups as well as downs. And sometimes… guys are just assholes.

But seriously, I was reading another article that said to start by keeping your expectations in check, because then you won’t be as let down. And I get that – how many times have we heard that if we go in with no expectations, then we won’t have anything to lose. But sometimes it’s just too easy to get excited!

And as always, it’s important to learn from your defeats. Maybe the person disappointing you has made it a pattern and it’s something that needs to be resolved further. Or perhaps its a personal issue. Whatever it is, if we continue to learn from our ups and downs, maybe we’ll experience less of the “downs” in the future.

But can we talk about something that has NOT been disappointing lately? Drake lyrics. I mean, I was really loving me some “Hotline Bling,” and I also love “One Dance”, but how about some “Too Good”? I am loving this song!

Years go by too fast, I can’t keep track. How long did we last? I feel bad for asking; it can’t end like this. We gotta take time with this…

#LivingLife

Facing the sun.

Facing the sun.

Last Tuesday, I was taking my favorite dance class (per usual). I love it for two reasons: 1. The dances we learn are always fun and challenging; and 2. The instructor has this amazing, positive energy that’s contagious.

On this particular Tuesday, she was teaching us a dance very different from ones she’s taught us in the past; one that was less about exactness and perfection and more about being comfortable in our own bodies, feeling the music, and adding our own style.

In my years of dancing, this is probably something I have never done. I’ve always been instructed to do this; do that; fit in with a team, not necessarily stand out or be myself.

And that Tuesday night, our instructor told us to dance like no one was watching; in other words, LIVE LIFE; dance!

One of the reasons I got back into dance was to gain back some self-confidence I’ve lost over the years. Whether it be from manipulated men I’ve dated, family issues, friendships gone sour, or even career missteps, sometimes I don’t know who I am – even at 31.

I know I’m not the only one that sometimes struggles with body image, or speaking up at work, or feeling nervous about getting out there to make friends or date. It’s tough! And the more I research about it, having confidence can be a constant thing to work toward.

#Truth

#Truth

The good news is, many of the things I listed in “Simple Ways I’m Tackling Life” are also things we can all do to help ourselves regain confidence. These are things such as:

  • Paying special attention to hygiene
  • Dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself
  • Eat a healthy diet & make meal times special
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Keep your living space neat & tidy
  • Do something creative!

But I’ve also discovered some new things we can do to boost confidence and feel good about ourselves. One of those is to make three lists: 1 that lists your strengths, 1 that lists the things you’ve accomplished, and 1 that lists the things you admire about yourself. Keep the lists handy so you can refer to them often, and especially when you’re feeling down.

Think positive thoughts. This is a tough one for me, but I know it’s necessary. Tell yourself how great, unique and valuable you are. Affirmations on the mirror? YES.

Here’s a cool idea I found: set up a challenge you can realistically set for yourself – whether it’s learning a skill you’ve always wanted to learn or hosting a dinner party. This could also be doing something you’ve been putting off, such as cleaning out a room of your house or finally planting that garden. I’ve got to think of what my challenge will be, but this sounds like such a great idea!

The next thing is to do something nice for someone else (#LoveUp). I forget how great being a CASA volunteer for 3 years made me feel, and I definitely miss it. This could be something like volunteering, or even just saying something nice to someone or holding the door open for a stranger. The world needs love!

And finally, don’t be afraid to speak up about how you’re feeling. That’s exactly why I love this blog – many times, when I’m feeling low or have an issue, I write about it only to find that I’m not as alone as I originally thought in the way I feel. We are stronger in numbers and we can help each other.

So, what are you going to do today to help yourself, or someone else, feel a little bit better? I think even doing just a few of these things will help me, and whoever is reading this, feel way better – and I’m all about that!

The Olympics have taken over my life.

Let the games begin!

Let the games begin!

I’m writing this as I watch gymnastics, and even though it hasn’t been on very long, there’s already drama with the harsh scoring.

Let me back this up. Okay, so Friday night was the opening ceremony, and I have watched them before, but for some reason I always forget how long they are. As in, they are more than four hours long. I’m going to be honest here, I was struggling and almost fell asleep before the torch was lit.

I will say that, it’s always very interesting to me how the host country chooses to celebrate the opening ceremony; what music they will play, what dances they will perform, and I’ll admittedly say that each time I watch, it reminds me how little I know about other cultures.

I always enjoy watching the Parade of Nations, as you get to see all of the different athletes, and often hear their stories of triumph. And really enjoyed hearing Hoda freak out when the shirtless guy from Tonga came out carrying the flag, and he was sufficiently oiled.

Even though the games have only been on for a few days, this is definitely the most I’ve watched. Also, I don’t even understand the coverage. The descriptions on the TV guide are vague, so I never know if it’s something I need to record or not. So, I ended up recording, like, nine hours swimming and a lot of it was repeated.

I just really, really don’t want to miss Ryan Lochte. Here are some of my other initial thoughts on the Olympics thus far:

  • I loved the Polo blazers team USA was wearing for the parade of nations
  • Hearing all the stories of the athletes who’ve overcome adversity made me really emotional
  • Ryan Lochte’s SnapChat is a saving grace
  • I kind of think they’ve overdone the coverage of the “Olympic Moms”. Yeah, we already know, women are awesome!
  • Why does Michael Phelps talk that way? I feel like his mouth is different than everyone else’s.
  • Synchronized diving is seriously insane. They are perfectly together, down to the pauses and jumps… it amazes me.

At the time of writing, the US has 8 medals, including one gold medal in shooting (by a female, I might add).

Aside from spending a lot of my time watching others live their dreams this weekend (seriously, what’s more satisfying than watching the most fit athletes in the world reach their goals, while I sit on the couch shoveling brownie-pretzel snaps into my face?), I did most of the usual: read, hit the library, did some freelance, worked on the blog, and slept a ton.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and I’ll unpack some of those thoughts as the week continues, right here on the blog.

In all honesty, I couldn’t sleep Saturday night, so I took to scrolling Instagram. Big mistake. I could easily see that the last guy I had a crush on was in the habit of “liking” pretty much every post on my feed – as in, people I’m friends with (mostly single women). Ugh.

Despite us not talking, and not even being friends on social media, I just am not in a place where I need to see that. And even when you have someone blocked, it still shows you all the shit they like and comment on. Thanks, Insta.

But what I noticed more than his desperate tries for attention, was the fact that he’d gone back and unliked every single one of my pictures from when we were friends.

Really? Honest question: is this something people do now and I’m just now realizing it? Because I would never do that.

I get it, he hates me. But, that doesn’t change the fact that at one moment in time (a mere several years), he didn’t hate me, and we had some fun. What’s the purpose of going back and unliking all the pictures? If he was trying to do it to hurt my feelings, it worked.

I spent more time than I should have thinking about it yesterday, and I’ve got some solutions to disappointments such as these that I’ll discuss mid-week.

Until then, I’ll be burning calories and stress at dance class, and working to survive another packed week at work. And yeah, I’ll be watching the Olympics… and probably Snapping about it.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,162 other followers