Self-love Project for Once A Month 4 Ladies

Four UW-Oshkosh graduates started a website called Once A Month for Ladies (OAM), a 24/7 online ladies night. One of the gals happens to be my college roommate, so I have been able to join in the fun monthly activities (A 90s boy band reunion with 98 degrees and New Kids on the Block in July, woohoo!) and projects, as well as being a contributing writer when I think of a post idea.

Starting now until the end of July 2013, women from around the world will be participating in the OAM Self-love Project. I hope you will join in and post a simple picture of yourself with a great reason to love you! I think that this is such an amazing project to help women feel more confident and remember why they are special.

This is my third entry (I participated with one photo last year, and two this year) for this project, and I felt this last reason is Measure Life in Bookmarks appropriate!

OAM self-love project

It was a kind of pretending composed of pride, of the pain of powerlessness, of need--the fear of need--and it came from caring: from caring so much that you were fearful for your own self, and how alone you were, or might someday be."
- Lois Lowry

Child Vision Goggles

It’s about time I start utilizing my library card! It seems strange that someone like me who reads every available second rarely visits the library, but since I collect books it was hard to justify reading a good one and then not having it to add to my own library (three bookshelves now!)

Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley Facebook page.

However, I couldn’t get myself to purchase all the children’s books I was contemplating reading. The idea to read more children’s books came to me over the hours I spent at an elementary school, working for the Boys and Girls Club. I started remembering the way my mind saw the world when I was younger: so innocent, so naive, and everything about it was exciting and I never sat around worrying what was to come or leave. I think even the choices I made as a child were more noble then some of the ones I’ve made as an adult.

My students, the 20 or so Kindergarteners, are always looking for attention games to bring them back to the present moment; otherwise, they are an angry bird, or a pet, or a mommy and a daddy, or a wizard, or a super hero. And some just want to push my buttons by playing on the expensive musical instruments and band stands around the room (because someone thought it was a good idea to put the Kindergarteners in the Music room).

Photo courtesy of www.millvalleylibrary.net.

Photo courtesy of www.millvalleylibrary.net.

One student drew on the piano with pen to get my attention, but to her it was worth being talked to for those few minutes when I had to scold and explain why what she did was not OK. She didn’t need to worry about the price of the piano. She didn’t need to worry about forking over the bills. She didn’t need to worry about hurting the Music teachers feelings or mine. She fulfilled a single need, the only need she had at that moment: eye contact. If she’d made that mistake again as an adult, she would have been fined hundreds of dollars or at least paid for the cost of cleanup. And what needs as an adult could she say she needed fulfilled after a vandalism act like that? The same one? It definitely wouldn’t fly.

I decided that my life was missing a big part of literature as an adult. Reading novels like The Giver are completely different when you read them as a child vs. as an adult. So, I began with a few random authors, including Neil Gaiman. But then I rediscovered Lois Lowry. I am not a fan of her really young fiction books, like the Sam and Anastasia books, but the junior high age, such as Number the Stars, The Giver, A Summer to Die, and Autumn Street are beautiful stories.

Reading children’s literature as an adult has opened a different chapter to my reading/writing career.

Pressing that Publish Button

As it is for any writer, pressing that publish or send button can be daunting. Every time I write anything, I go back and edit it multiple times (And my multiple, I mean a million). Then when I try to refresh my mind by pacing the house, I end up back in my computer chair a few minutes later to edit all over again. Writers know that the writing process is never truly finished, and when you’re sharing an important or personal story (via digital world or not), it is even more difficult to stop checking for mistakes.

Whenever I post anything to this blog or send out a story for publication, my palms get sweaty, my armpits get stinky, and I squirm in my chair as I beg my eyes to catch the silly mistakes that slipped through the first 10 rounds of editing.

What I’m trying to say is that once the post goes public and I share it to my Facebook page:

I am a freaking mess.

Photo courtesy of blog.gaiterjones.com.

Photo courtesy of blog.gaiterjones.com.

But it unfortunately comes with the territory since it does not feel any different when I send my freelance articles for publication. That can be even more stressful since your entire reputation for accuracy is on the line. I have tried many ways to distract myself, such as trying to convince myself that my posts are flawless, telling myself that everyone makes mistakes, or forcing myself to shut down the computer (There are way too many uses of “myself” in this sentence!). I always hope that at least one person who reads the post will click that Facebook “Like” button by the time I log back in, which is probably within a minute of sharing. Sadly, a “Like” on Facebook (even if it’s just from my mom) let’s me know I have some sort of positive feedback and I can go to sleep.

When my view statistics skyrocket, I am even more of a mess. I love seeing the bar rise and numbers increase, but if there’s still zero people who have liked it on Facebook the nerves start up again.

Ah, such is the life of a writer.

If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”
- Emily Bronte

Zombie Reads

For the last week I have been losing sleep and the only thing that knocks me out is a specific novel: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. It’s like it is calling me from the shelf:

Wake up … wake up—read me …
(At least it wasn’t calling: “Let me in! Let me in!”)

Or rather quotes from the story keep surfacing and I can’t sleep with the story playing in my head. Just watching the movie wasn’t enough (because, let’s face it, the movies are completely different from the novel). So, last night, I gave in and started to read it for the FOURTH time. It’s the most I’ve read any book because, hey, I have a lot of unread books on my shelves. Finally I slept through the night for a full 8 hours after reading a few chapters. Before that it was 4 to 6 every morning, tossing and turning, blaming it on the storm or my cat or my job hunt.

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A 1943 Random House edition of "Wuthering Heights" purchased from Studio.

A 1943 Random House edition of “Wuthering Heights” purchased from Studio.

Last weekend when I was out celebrating the onset of summer, I stopped into one of my favorite stores on the Ave. It’s called Studio 213 LLC and they have about 8 or more rooms filled with different artist’s or collector’s items. The last room at the end of the long hallway is filled with old books and to my surprise I found a 1943 Random House edition of Wuthering Heights. I’ve been in this room several times (of course), but this time the title jumped out at me and I started squealing as I pulled it from the shelf. A stomachache arrived and everything. (Due to an adrenaline rush or maybe just pure excitement, these stomach issues happen every time I enter a bookstore. You can imagine my bathroom breaks when I worked in one.)

Wuthering Heights film 1992. Photo courtesy of www.fanpop.com.

Wuthering Heights film 1992. Photo courtesy of www.fanpop.com.

Not only was I thrilled to have finally gotten my hands on an old edition of the greatest novel/love story of all time (in my opinion), but this particular edition had my favorite cover art. It is an image that I’d discovered during an obsessive Google search shortly after I’d returned from my trip to England where I’d visited the Yorkshire Moors and Brontë Country. Wuthering Heights was the first of the 5 novels required for the English Department’s Study Abroad Program at UW-Oshkosh and I chose to read it first. My hands were shaking by the end of it and the addiction was official. But I read it again when I got home, just in case.

* * *

Wuthering Heights film 2009. Photo courtesy of www.filmlinks4u.net.

Wuthering Heights film 2009. Photo courtesy of www.filmlinks4u.net.

If you live in the Fox Cities, check out Studio; if not for the old books then for the artwork. Who knows what treasures may be waiting for you!

Also, if you haven’t read Wuthering Heights, please do so. It may take time to get used to the old English language if you don’t regularly read it, but it’s worth it. You may not even know why you want to read it again after your first try, but I can guarantee you will pick it back up again to see what you missed.

If you can’t handle reading a book without watching the movie or vise versa, I would recommend PBS Masterpiece Classic’s 2009 version for emotional impact (and my personal favorite Heathcliff played by the dreamy Tom Hardy) and the 1992 version (starring the wonderful Ralph Fiennes as Healthcliff) for a closer adaptation to the novel, though both still stray quite a bit. I always heard that the 1930 movie version was the best, but I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy yet, nor have I seen the 2011 version, which starred the first black Heathcliff.

Now I have to ask: Is there anyone else who is haunted by their favorite stories in the middle of the night? Do you ever give in and read until you’re able to fall back asleep? Please share and help me to feel less of a crazy person!