open heart, open mind..

After a day filled with so much love and joy, today my heart is filled with sadness, anger and grief. The events that occurred yesterday are enough to make us hurt deeply. And the worst part? The helplessness we feel. The fear of it happening anywhere. The want to rewind and stop these horrific acts from happening. From there the only thing for us to do is to place blame.

One of the worst scariest things in the world to me is the fact that anyone can have a baby. Anyone can raise a child or for the sake of argument, NOT raise them at all. Am I the only one who finds this terrifying? In our sheltered, privileged lives we could never imagine the horrors some children are exposed to. Neglect, drugs, molestation to name a few. Those times in our lives– when our brains our developing–they are most critical to who we will be as we mature.

The opinions I am about to express are my own. I do not force my views on anyone. I understand we all have shared different experiences and those experiences play a huge part in our views. If you wish to stop reading I won’t feel offended. I hope you will read though. There are times I need to release thoughts in my mind and today is one of those days. If you’d like to read an opposing opinion or a shared perspective, please continue.


When there’s a car accident, who do we normally blame? The car? Sometimes there are faulty parts that caused the accident, sure. Do we blame the person behind it? More than likely. We look at all the details as to why and how this crash occurred. Was the person intoxicated? Did they fall asleep behind the wheel?

We forget to use this logic when it comes to gun violence. Often, we think the gun killed people, that’s what we can blame! Let’s take the guns away! What about the cars? Cars kill people every single day. They’re a dangerous weapon. Why aren’t we taking away people’s cars? When we are hurt by something so deeply like what happened yesterday we tend to think the easiest thing to do is to take things away. Simply put, be gone with the pain.

Why don’t we look and investigate beyond the obvious, as we do for these car accidents? How come we can’t look at the person involved and say, “Hey. Maybe this person had a mental illness. We should really focus and give more attention to mental illness. How come there was no help?” Or “Was this person a victim of bullying? Lets focus on stopping bullies.” Let’s look more closely at families and understand sometimes it’s the way they were raised. Sometimes it’s an illness in them that needs to be noticed. And sometimes it’s just a sociopath maniac.

Our system is more than faulty too. No matter what, if you really wanted to, you can get ahold of a gun. It will always be that way, unfortunately. For instance look at drugs. They’re illegal and one of the biggest issues in the world today. It doesn’t stop people from selling and using, does it? What thought process makes sense to others that making guns illegal is beneficial to all citizens as a whole? Especially from those who conceal one with the intent to protect themselves and their loved ones. A good guy with a gun will always defeat a bad gun with a gun. Take those away from the good, and the bad will still be bad, leaving us with no way of defense.

My hope is for this country to unite and compromise on such an important topic. I know there is a way for us to all understand each other and find a happy medium. We just have to be willing to adjust slightly and accommodate on both sides of this debate. There is a way to fix this and as Americans I believe we can do it, but we have to do it together.


My heart, my soul, and all my prayers go out to everyone who was affected by these horrific acts yesterday. If there were a way to take the pain away, I would. ♡

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Dear Former Classmates,


I just recently read a book that rocked my world and it made me think of all of you. Yes you; the friends I’ve left behind, the bullies I never stood up to, and the peers who never knew me. I knew what I had to do once I finished Punk 57. I had to write this letter to all of you.

In elementary, middle and high school I had my share of different friends and I did my share of some serious growing (not always positive growth either). Now I’m going to be 26 and it’s time for me to do some healing. It’s time to speak up and unlock the chains in my mind where these thoughts forever hide.

To the friends I left behind during my school years; I apologize to you. At such a young age we try to find ourselves. We want friends who we can play with, we want friends who won’t judge us, and some of us want the friends we seek approval from and in return, never get. Whether it be classes, after school activities, or personal lives..they take the wheel in steering us through these years, and I’m sorry I couldn’t grow apart from some of you with more finesse. Thank you for being apart of my life however short it was, you’ve played a role in who I am today.

In elementary school I was a tomboy. I played sports and I got dirty. I never wore a dress (used to cry when my dad made me) and as boy crazy as I was, I would have rather beat them in a running race than to hold their hand. I had my solid group of friends who shared the same interests as me and we were inseparable for those first years. I later found myself making new friends, the ones we would do anything for to get their approval. I wanted to fit in, I wanted to expand my group of friends and I no longer wanted to be the tomboy.

Transitioning to middle school is one of the worst phases of life. You all know this, you’ve been there with me. Puberty is coming (damn you, wild hormones), school dances are coming (just as exciting as they were daunting), LIFE is coming at you head on and you don’t know what to do in order to survive these years. The worst part of middle school? The bullies. The ones who made these terrible years even harder to trek through.

To the bullies; I wasn’t innocent to it and I can only try to explain it, in the ways I experienced these moments. To put it in an understandable perspective, it was a form of survival for me in middle school. I used to wonder often if I was alone in feeling this way. Did I say mean things to others? Yes. Did I say mean things about others behind their back? Yes. Did I DO terrible things to others? Yes. Were my friends a victim of my bullying at times? Yes. Why?? Being bullied is no excuse to become a bully, I know this. And yet, for me it was my choice of armor during these years. My mind set was to hurt others first, to stop them from hurting you period. It didn’t work that way, though. If you are reading this (and I hope you are) and was ever directly or even indirectly affected by any of my words or actions I am asking for your forgiveness. There have been days where I have cried over these actions and words because as I matured, I cannot fathom how cruel I could be to a classmate, especially with the knowledge I have now: we were probably going through the same emotional rollercoaster.

The movie Mean Girls was the movie of our time in middle school. I mean, who didn’t watch it? Who didn’t love it? Me and my friends loved it so much we became them. It was disgusting. The final message of the movie was all in all great, but who at that age focused on the message when you could be a plastic? ::shudders:: I wore pink on Wednesdays. My friends and I made a Burn Book. Some friends even went so far as to stealing boyfriends. I’ve tried to completely block out these years, but because of the person I’ve become it’s hard to do so. For anyone I hurt in that time, I felt my punishment was to suffer with those memories. Some of you may even think I still should suffer with them.. but I’m letting in go in sincerely saying I’m sorry.

I was no stranger to being bullied either guys, contrary to what you may believe. If I ever wanted to step out of my comfort zone there were always the few ‘cool‘ boys that had a comment ready for me. Being ‘popular‘ only means maintaining an image that people have of you and it’s usually never a good one. I didn’t want that image but I had come too far and was too weak and fearful to walk away from it. So I stayed a person I didn’t want to be. Now, a lot of you may have been much stronger than I was. Maybe you took bullying with a grain of salt, remained who you were with the knowledge it would all be over soon. Maybe you stood up for yourself and did not care what anyone said about you. Maybe you were comfortable enough in your own skin to brush it off. I envy you. You were stronger than I ever was.

By the time high school came around, I hated myself so much, I knew was a time for a complete adjustment. I had discarded friends from middle school who were no longer helping me grow towards a positive, better me. It was like shedding skin and I started to become more of myself. I found a new groove and made new friends. Friends that I could be my complete self around and who didn’t judge me. A sentence I started to hear more and more throughout my high school years was, “Wow before I actually knew you, I thought you were a bitch.” That stung and that sentence has stayed with me engrained in my mind for life. I didn’t want to be the person someone saw as a bitch anymore, because that’s not who I ever really was. This is for the ones who never knew me. I know you had your judgements of me. I’m not blind and I’m not stupid. But guess what? I had feelings too. Come high school, I was friendly to everyone. It wasn’t faked, it was now genuine. I’m sorry I was unapproachable, I take fault in that. 100% you cannot just wipe away what you know to be true about someone and believe they’ve changed over night, but high school is when I able to be ME again. I started to stand up for myself because if I wouldn’t do it, no one else would. I started to stand up against bullying when I witnessed it and I sure as hell stopped caring what anyone else thought about me.

To myself. Time has a hand in healing you and will continue to do so, facing your demons one at a time in the process. If I could talk to my elementary school self and give her advise for her future, I would remind her to stay true to herself, to be so incredibly strong when all you want to do is cower. Don’t be the pushover, stand up for yourself and stand up for others. Don’t be afraid to apologize or ask others for their forgiveness. But most of all, no matter what path you choose and how many twists and turns come along.. you will be okay. You will always be okay in the end.

With so much love,

Erika

PS. To those who have read this: if you are going through some tough times, please stick it out. Be true to yourself, fight for yourself and always always remember these tough times will end. We need them as reminder to enjoy the good times.

Punk 57

Author: Penelope Douglas

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Review:

“When I was little,” he goes on. “I used to be able to go home and get away from it. But now we’re older. We have Facebook, and everything they say about me during the day, I get to see online every night.” … “One of you assholes pushes my tray into my clothes and dumps food all over me, and the first thing everyone does is take out their phones. And then I have to relive it through pictures on my newsfeed every hour–even days and weeks later. Over and over again. I can’t get away from it anymore. Not even when I leave school.”

I never thought about it like that. When we were younger, the dynamics of friendship and fitting in were only difficult at school. When we went home, we were free, and most of us, hopefully, felt safe there. Now, the only thing we leave at school is school. The pressure, the gossiping, the bad feelings, it follows us home online. There’s no break from it.

This book dug up some old wounds for me that never really closed because well, I never really let them. Punk 57 is by far the best book I have read in 2018 and I don’t see it leaving that #1 spot for a n y t h i n g else. Yes, I’m that confident because that’s how good this read was. When I first heard of this book I needed to read it ASAP. When I finally purchased it, I threw it on my TBR pile because I was currently reading another book. Boy, did I make a mistake by forgetting it. I’ve been praising my TBR Jar for pulling this one out for me this time around! I went into it blind, which I usually like to do because that means no expectations. I was surprised just how instantly I fell in love with the way Penelope Douglas writes.

Ryen and Misha. Two names that are both gender neutral. And that’s exactly how Ryen and Misha became pen pals seven years ago. Ryen, the girl from Falcon’s Well and Misha, the boy from Thunder Bay. They promised to hold onto this, for it had become an escape for them. No searching for each other on social media, no face to face contact. Just the letters.

It’s been 3 months since Ryen has heard back from Misha. Did he die? Disappear? Did Ryen do something wrong? That doesn’t stop her from trying to reach him. When her letters continue to receive no response, she wonders if seeking Misha out is her best option. Until the new guy, Masen arrives and distracts her just enough to make Misha seem farther and farther away.

Misha has never gotten along with his father and things have only been worse since his sister Annie’s death. He should’ve seen the signs, but more importantly he should have answered her phone call that night. Life has spun out of control, wondering if he can turn even turn to Ryen anymore. Misha heads to Falcon’s Well in search for something that belongs to him, but he doesn’t expect to find all that he does.

“We were perfect together. Until we met.”

Did I already mention that this is one of my top favorite books..like EVER? Not only because Misha will forever have a piece of my heart, but because it was a totally unexpected story. On the surface you might see a crazy pen pal love story on the rise with its quirks added in, but if that’s all you’ve retained then you read it wrong.

The message in this book is one that needs to be spread and voiced more and more these days. There is nothing like knowing who you are and hiding it in fear of what others might think. Even worse when you know your actions are hurting others and it’s the last thing you ever wanted to do. It’s never too late to change and become the person you want to be.

The age group I would recommend for this book ranges. I want teens to understand it’s okay to be themselves, I want them to be told and believe to hold on, because school life will end. You will enter adulthood, and you will find your tribe. I want adults to read this, look back and reflect, and when it comes time to raising our own children, we will know the qualities we want them to posses.

FOR NOW

Author: Kat Savage

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Review:

“I don’t listen to my heart anymore, Samuel. It has betrayed me before and it will betray me again.”

“No, Delilah, your heart didn’t betray you. A man did. There’s a difference.”

Delilah Spencer is no stranger to heartbreak. Between the child she lost from a miscarriage to the husband that walked out on her, it seems heartache is all she’ll ever know. The subtle hand movements over her abdomen are Delilah’s reminder to mourn her baby girl, but how are you supposed to mourn the husband who betrayed you in the worst kind of way?

Delilah has to get away from the life that caused her nothing but pain. We like to think packing up and moving is the answer to heal ourselves, so when Delilah chooses to live close to her best friend, Emma it seems like the start of a new life. Maybe she can be happy here.

Enter Samuel Young–devilishly handsome, single father. When Delilah stumbles upon him (literally) he will stop at nothing to receive her attention. Samuel has fully healed from his troublesome past so he knows how to recognize hurt in another. Can his full heart, patience and persistence be enough to keep Delilah? Or is this only a For Now kind of love?


Kat Savage’s debut novel is nothing short of gripping. She certainly knows how to grab hold of an audiences attention and keep them in a trance from start to finish. I did not want to put this book down when real life was calling me back and closing it for the last time was tough. I wanted more Delilah and Samuel.

As far as storyline goes, it was a perfect selection. The twists and depth from the characters were as if Kat has been writing novels her entire life. She’s a natural. What I would like to see from Kat in the future is expansion. There were certain points in the story where I think some scenes happened too fast and I just wanted them to play out slower, I just wanted MORE. Call me greedy! I wanted more of the wonderful story Kat was giving us.

I’m certainly excited to see what Kat Savage will serve to us in her novels to come and I’m hoping she stays in the novel realm because she’s a natural. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you check it out. You’ll be on the edge of your seat for the next one too!

Cut: A Medical Murder Mystery

Author: Amy S. Peele

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Review:

We never give a second thought on organ donations and the process of it all. There are only a couple occasions when this discussion is actually had;

1. When we decide to be a donor or not on our ID’s and 2. If a situation arises where organ donation affect us directly.

And then sometimes a book like this one comes around to remind us of both the greatness in donating and the possible horrors that are kept hidden.

Sarah Golden is currently a traveling organ transplantation nurse (one of the best in the country depending on who you ask). She didn’t expect the

shit storm that was about to hit her head on the day she walked into work where Amanda Stein was recovering from her liver transplant.

Amanda Stein could not be bothered with the world. It was all about her—even ask her boyfriend Sergio Torres. The millionaire was in dire need of
a liver due to her Hep C escalating. It’s not too hard to find one when you’re best friend is married to Dr. Bower, the number one transplant doctor in the US, or so we might believe. That’s not the way the system works, unless you make it work in your favor.

Sergio Torres is an addict. He’s addicted to women but none more than Amanda Stein. 6 years of an on and off, open relationship with the devil, they
couldn’t possibly be more perfect for each other. There are no boundaries he wouldn’t step over for Amanda.

Jackie Larsen is Sarah’s BFF since nursing school. She’s a rum loving lesbian with the best personality you could ask out of a supporting character
role. The possibility of trouble is limitless when her and Sarah get together and they’re about to play detective to get to the bottom of Amanda Stein and how she received her liver.

Can money really buy you anything you want?


I completed this book in just 5 hours. Putting it down was not an option. Amy Peele has a way with mystery especially medically. She knows her way

around the hospitals, clinics, etc and gives us an inside look on transplantation I never thought of engaging myself with—because luckily I’ve never had to. This book got me interested in the topic of donation. I am currently not an organ donor but I also feel I
am not educated on the matter to do so. I feel some research in my near future so I can understand, change my mind, and be able to help someone in need if it ever came to it.

I totally recommend this book for anyone who has a tough stomach. There are so parts that’s go in depth, I myself getting a little squeamish at certain parts. It’s a good solid mystery with the perfect amount of comic relief. You’ll wish you were friends with Sarah and Jackie!

Turtles All the Way Down

☆☆☆

She clicked off her light, and the world went dark. I felt my eyes trying to adjust, but there was no light to adjust to. “Now you can’t see the walls, right? Can’t see the rats. Spin around a few times and you won’t know which way is in and which way is out. This is scary. Now imagine if we couldn’t talk, if we couldn’t hear each other’s breathing. Imagine if we had no sense of touch, so even if we were standing next to each other, we’d never know it.

“Imagine you’re trying to find someone, or even you’re trying to find yourself, but you have no senses, no way to know where the walls are, which way if forward or backward, what is water and what is air. You’re senseless and shapeless–you feel like you can only describe what you are by identifying what you’re not, and you’re floating around in a body with no control. You don’t get to decide who you like or where you live or when you can eat or what you fear. You’re just stuck in there, totally alone, in this darkness. That’s scary. This,” I said, and turned on the flashlight. “This is control. This is power. There may be rats and spiders and whatever the hell. But we shine the light on them, not the other way around. We know where the walls are, which way is in and which way is out. This,” I said, turning off my light again, “is what I feel like when I’m scared. This”–I turned the flashlight back on–“is a walk in the fucking park.”

I never wanted to read another John Green book after I read The Fault in Our Stars. I was so intrigued by a friends review that I really wanted to give him another shot and try this book. It was a good book, but that is all. It wasn’t memorable and I didn’t feel any feels.

I cleaned all of my poor thoughts of John Green off my mind–I swear to you I did–in order to read this book. I pushed it aside and was able to look at him as a new author I never read before. I still didn’t love this book and for the life of me cannot understand this authors hype.

The characters that John Green writes are impeccable. They are full of life and so much detail is paid attention to each and every one, so it’s impossible not to love them. They feel real and whole, like you know them personally. It’s quite fantastic.

If you love the characters so much, why didn’t you love the book? This is where it gets tricky for me and you might 100% disagree. The story lines of this book traveled down too many roads. I has just a couple chapters left and I still had questions about certain roads we took earlier in the book. We were given a lot of dead ends and a lot of unanswered questions. I would have to say that the material he gave us gives us a picture for an amazing story and quite frankly, I feel John Green gets lazy then rushes to just get to the finish line.

I want to talk about how John Green writes relationships. In this story I would not for a second doubt that Daisy and Aza are BFF’S. This relationship was given the time and dedication that ALL relationships should have. That is probably why my favorite road was when I was traveling down Daisy and Aza’s. Enter Davis Pickett. Exit Davis Pickett. ???????? I’m still wondering his place here. I love him–his character–so, so much but he just. doesn’t. fit. But wait, there’s more! Not only do I think he doesn’t fit, the “love story” (it actually pains me to refer to it as one) between Aza and Davis is just pathetic..and it didn’t have to be. It was exactly how I felt about Gus and Hazel Grace in The Fault in Our Stars. It’s unbelievable in the literal sense. I do not for a second believe that Aza and Davis were/are/will ever be in love with each other. I just don’t feel the connection and actually sorry that I didn’t.

In my opinion, I believe that John Green needs to both,

A. Devise a plan for a book that contains one storyline to follow, and focus and that completely.

B. Do not write anymore “love/romance” stories. I feel nothing from them.

I hate to leave you guys with a sour taste in your mouth about this book, because like I said at the beginning of this review–it’s a good book. It held my interest enough to want to read it and to want to finish it so that has to count for something, right? Maybe one day again, I’ll return to John Green and I won’t be disappointed. It’s just really sad to say that today wasn’t that day.

o•b•s•e•s•s•i•v•e compulsive d•i•s•o•r•d•e•r

I started Turtles All the Way Down by John Green yesterday. You may or may not know that I am not a John Green fan because of how much I despised The Fault in Our Stars, but one of my fellow PLN’s wrote a wonderful review for Turtles All the Way Down, and I just had to get my hands on it. What stuck out the most to me was that it incorporates OCD and the main character Aza who has this disorder. It made me want to read, to see OCD from another’s eyes. It also made me want to share what I experience with you.

I try to be open with who I am that way I can feel more comfortable being me, with hopes that I am also helping others who may suffer from the same disorders/phobias/thoughts that I experience. OCD being one of them. The initial shock of being diagnosed with OCD conjured all the tears I could muster. Why was I crying? I knew I suffered from this disorder and had specifically started to see a counselor because of it.. but being told it was true was the first step to help overcome it.

Do you count your steps? Is there anything you do in repetition because of fear? Do you double check on things such as locks or appliances? Do you chdck on loved ones multiple times to make sure they’re okay? These are just some behaviors associated with this disorder.

The other night I had experienced an episode. I always plug my phone into the same outlet every single night. I switched the outlet and put my phone on the other side of my bed. I couldn’t sleep. The fear that something bad might happen because I switched which outlet my phone was plugged into took over and kept me awake. I tried hard enough and did not allow myself to give into these thoughts. The next morning my alarm on my phone didn’t go off and guess what I blamed? Switching the outlet. I contemplated just switching the cord back to the original outlet and save myself the worry but I didn’t. Last night I fell asleep soundly, woke up and everything was okay.

I am taking steps little by little and find myself reaching goals I have set in place to conquer my OCD. That feeling is incredible–to win over the obsession. I still have days, and I always will. I know there is no cure. There are days this disorder wins and there will continue to be days that it does. I just refuse to feed into it and let it take control every time it wants to. I urge you all to do the same.