Friday, October 14, 2011

I've Been Tagged! 10 Random Facts About Me

I’ve been tagged? Uh oh! Am I in trouble? What’d I do now? What the heck does that mean? Good gravy! She’s my friend & I hope I didn’t offend her somehow. Yeah. Leave it to me to have those be the first thoughts that popped into my mind. That notoriously rude ‘self-doubt monster’ rears its ugly head again, as usual. So, sledgehammer in hand in preparation to knock the monster on its silly head & apologize if I had, in fact, hurt my friend’s feelings, I marched off through the links to find out what I’d done.

Oh my goodness. It’s a game? All that angst was over a bit of blog-hopping writing kinship & fun? By the time I was finished reading what ‘Tagged from Me to You’ was all about, I was laughing so hard at myself over the silliness of my initial thoughts, the now unnecessary self-doubt monster slaying sledgehammer slipped from my grasp, landing on the virtual floor of my mind with a distinct thud. It probably would’ve served me right if it had, instead, landed on a toe as punishment for consistently allowing thoughts of fear or self-doubt play first.

Now here’s how all that got started. You see, last month while I was in the midst of desperately trying to sort through how best to drag myself out of a horrible month-long blogging slump, a lovely & quite artistic blogger/writer friend of mine, Ozlem Yikici, had been tagged by her friend for this bit o’ writing fun. Subsequently, she tagged me & two others to play along by sharing ten random facts about ourselves. Nervous as the thought makes me—I really tend to become quite skittish writing autobiographical things—Ozlem’s a genuine sweetheart & I’m grateful she thinks enough of me to want to know more about me—let alone thinking you all may want to know more about me—so I’ve decided to play. By the way, she has a terrific blog & an even more terrific heart, so you’ll want to check out her delightful little slice of the ‘blogosphere’ whenever you’re finished here.

So here goes. Ten random facts you may not already know about me.
  1. I still believe in unicorns, dragons, & the like. Why? Because I feel that if one loses the belief in the possibility of magic, any shred of innocence one had left will be forever lost.
  2. I’m no connoisseur of art by any stretch of the imagination—just not enough field trips to the Detroit Institute of Arts as a kid, I suppose. However, my favorite artists are—in no particular order—Luis Royo, Olivia De Berardinis, Sue Dawe, Auguste Rodin, Julie Bell & Boris Vallejo.
  3. When I was in first grade, I longed to be a paleontologist when I grew up & had firmly decided that I would reconstruct the fossilized skeletons I discovered in Mom & Dad’s basement which naturally would require them to allow me to cut a hole through the upper levels of the house & the roof. They played along like the amazing parents they are & let me believe they’d be allowing me to carve up the family home when I grew up & achieved this dream. To this day, I still find dinosaurs fascinating—I actually got misty-eyed in the opening scenes of Jurassic Park, my favorite fossilized creature is a trilobite, & I yearn to one day own a piece of amber jewelry that actually contains a visible insect—an insect that very well may have seen my beloved dinosaurs.
  4. My favorite color is electric blue—more specifically airport runway light blue as beautifully depicted in this photo by Stan Drennan of 29k Productions.
  5. My favorite books of all time are The Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel. I read “Clan of the Cave Bear” & “Valley of Horses” at such a young age that my significant other, once he’d finished reading the series, says he can see a substantial amount of Ayla, the main character throughout the series, in my personality. I’ll take that as a huge compliment, thank you very much. ;-)
  6. I think goats are positively adorable & have a small collection of goat items—figurines, stuffed animals, & such. I decided they were cute when I was around 15 years old & saw a little herd of baby goats—okay, I know they’re called ‘kids’, but there’s a difference here to me—bouncing, romping, & playing all over a huge pile of hay as though it were a trampoline up north by the cabin our family owned while I was growing up.
  7. I have no human children of my own, but I’m relatively content with our wonderful family of ‘CritterKids’—most of whom were rescued from some type of situation in which they were unwanted, neglected, abandoned, stray, or abused. To me, they are my children. I realize there are those who think that’s insane—so be it. When it comes right down to it, though, they are really no different than human children—in fact, they’ll depend on me as their ‘Mom’ for everything throughout their lives & they’re much less ‘portable’, whereas most human children eventually grow up & become self-reliant. Just a little food for thought for those out there who would criticize people who view their pets as their kids/family.
  8. After having been a complete ‘serial killer’ of any unfortunate plant related to the orchid family—my favorite flower—for several years, I finally figured out how to successfully keep orchids alive & thriving. I can even get them to bloom again. I relish the fact that I even got one of them—a gorgeous dendrobium, the color such a deep burgundy velvet that it appears nearly black from some angles—to bloom again that the nursery that sold it to me said would never happen without a professional type tropical greenhouse.
  9. While I’m relatively sure it’s against the ‘rules’ & I probably shouldn’t have done so, about seven years ago I was completely mystified & awe-struck when one of the manatees at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium put its nose up over the edge of the glass enclosure while I was standing there thoroughly enraptured by them—almost as though it was just as curious about me as I was about it—that I stretched up on my tip-toes & petted its bristly whiskered snout. The human-animal connection I felt in my soul in that brief moment is virtually indescribable. Recalling the phenomenally spiritual emotion of moments such as this one still mists up my eyes to this very day.
  10. Walking barefoot on the beaches of or swimming in any of the Great Lakes—although my 2 favorites are Lake Superior & Lake Michigan—is pure therapy from the Great Spirit & Mother Nature to me. Squishing my toes as deep as I can into the cool, pleasantly heavy wet sand as the waves swirl around my ankles & calves while feeling the breeze caress my face makes me feel so spiritually connected to the entire splendor that is this planet we call home.
There you have them. Ten random facts about me. With so many wonderful friendships I’ve made so far in my blogging adventures, I have to say that choosing who I’d tag was difficult. So even if you weren’t tagged but would like to play (it actually helps with writer’s block, truth be told), feel free & be sure to let me know because I’d absolutely love to learn more about all of you.

Tag! You’re it! I’ve tagged Mary Ann Peden-Coviello because she is an incredible writer, is extremely interesting, & I’m so happy that the Twitterverse blessed me with such a wonderful friend. She’s probably going to kick my hiney for tagging her, too. ;-) Next up is LizzieBeth because not only has her upbeat & supportive personality helped me regain a more positive outlook on things, but because her blog is simply awesome. As though she weren’t interesting enough already with her compelling short stories that leave one craving more & her cheering on of others, she has excellent guest bloggers on her site regularly & I’ve ‘met’ some really neat authors on there. I’m so glad to be blessed by her friendship. Last, but certainly not least, we have Donna K. Fitch who has quickly become another wonderful friend & introduced me to her very intriguing friend, Aisling. Donna’s blog posts are insightful & honest, just as she is. She & Aisling also somehow totally understand my ‘squirrels’ & have had me in stitches this past week laughing about them rather than cursing them which is definitely a blissful change of pace.

Please visit the blogs of all those I’ve tagged as they’re all really excellent people & don’t forget to visit Ozlem who tagged me first. Trust me. You won’t be sorry you ‘met’ any of these fabulous individuals.

As always, your thoughts are appreciated. Blessed Be. ~ Cari ~

Monday, October 10, 2011

Life Lessons From a Fiction Novel? Absolutely! Cari's Book Review of "Among Women" by J.M. Cornwell

Among WomenAmong Women by J.M. Cornwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh Yes You Can Learn From A Fiction Novel ~ I Just Did

Among Women J.M. Cornwell

I have to say it's been quite some time since I've been so personally pulled into a book that I literally felt as though I was experiencing every emotion, touch, sound, sight, taste, & smell as I did while reading this book. Naturally, those emotions & sensations were not always pleasant. However, the ability of Ms. Cornwell's writing causing me to truly feel what the characters were feeling was definitely a pleasant surprise.

I did not, in any sense of the word, simply 'read' this book. I walked with Pearl on her journey--through the harrowing angst of uncertainty, the unexpected joys, the formation of friendships & adversaries alike, & ultimately through Pearl's self-discovery. Pearl is simultaneously none of us & all of us. As I was, you will be stunned to discover that, more often than not, you can relate to Pearl on some level--most likely multiple levels. For instance, like Pearl, I generally have a tendency to find difficulty in truly bonding or getting along with & understanding other women. That's merely one example--I don't want to spoil the book--of Ms. Cornwell weaving the reader into the story.

Too often, we go about living our everyday 'normal' lives, comforting ourselves in the cozy blanket of a misguidedly reassuring "that will never happen to me" mentality whenever we hear of the goings-on of a sometimes corrupt justice system. Worse yet, we all too often find ourselves judging those who have been 'in the system' without ever actually knowing that person or their real story. Pearl teaches us that, at any given moment, our cozy blanket of 'normalcy' could be ripped away from us in the stroboscopic flash of blue & red lights coupled with the ratcheting sound of cold handcuffs digging brutally into our wrists for reasons that, even after being subjected to various forms of abject humiliation & terror, we may never even know. Like Pearl, we could just as easily become lost in the system--nothing more than another number in a vast sea of numbers--another human being to be judged by those who don't even have the faintest clue of who we truly are.

There are valuable life lessons to be gained through reading this book with both an open heart & an open mind. One learns that behind every statistic, there is a story--a heartfelt tale that may force you to judge less harshly than you otherwise might have had you simply stumbled across someone's prison record on the internet or on the news. One may ascertain that not only can you survive being thrust into what would seem to be the most dire of circumstances, but may also unearth a rare opportunity for the ultimate success of self-discovery--an opportunity you may never have known existed were it not for having been forced into such an adverse situation. One may never have known that such strength or talent existed within yourself, let alone have had the courage derived from absolute necessity to act upon it.

This is an excellent book which I wholeheartedly recommend with complete confidence that you will enjoy it as much as I did. I am eagerly anticipating the sequel.

I read this book on my Kindle. It is also available in other formats. The paperback & Kindle versions are available on Amazon: Among Women Other eBook formats are available at Smashwords: Among Women

View all my reviews

I'd like to personally thank Mary Ann Peden-Coviello for her constant posts on Facebook strongly urging people to read this book & for introducing me to Jackie, who graciously & unexpectedly slipped this book into my email inbox through Amazon. Both of these women have been such a help to my growth in writing by nudging me in the right direction when it seems that I'm needing it &, more importantly, by their friendship. I'm blessed to have both of these great women in my life thanks to the great big world of social media.

As always, your thoughts are appreciated. Blessed Be. ~ Cari ~