Monday, November 30, 2015

Music Monday: 25 by Adele

Adele has been a busy woman. She's been taking over the iTunes music charts, with song "Hello" as number one, and "When We Were Young" at number 10. She's even been breaking world records, as her album has sold more copies than Taylor's Swift's "1989" and Drake's "If You're Reading This It's Too Late,' even breaking records held by *NSYNC's "No Strings Attached", according to an article called "12 Mind-Boggling Facts About Adele's Record Breaking Debut."

However, before we talk about the records, let's focus on the music. Because, let's face it, it's a pretty great album. The release was a long awaited follow up to Adele's "21," and says "hello" (no pun intended) to the next phase of the singer's life. Some of themes include moving on from heartbreak, and motherhood.
The album starts out with "Hello," which is the album's lead single. The song is a beautiful and emotional cry to one's ex-lover who they haven't spoken with in a while to get them to reunite, and is a great track to get the listener ready for the next hour (I have the deluxe edition) of "25." Breakups are a common theme with the album, but unlike "21" when they talk about the raw emotions of a breakup, they deal with the scars. Songs like "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," "When We Were Young," and "Water Under the Bridge" deal with these themes. Other songs, such as "Sweetest Devotion," talk about motherhood, as the song is dedicated to Adele's song. While the album is classified as R 'n' B in my iTunes, I see some similarities to Taylor Swift's "1989," with songs such as "Water Under the Bridge." However, each and every one of the album's tracks showcase Adele's beautiful vocals, and song writing abilities.
"25" is something that I believe is unlike any other release recently. Adele is clearly talented, and she has the vocal range and ability to prove it. Even though it's been four years since "21" has been released, I can tell you the album was worth the wait. Adele shows lyrical and musical maturity, and each of these songs are something that have been listening to since the day that I got the album. (Which was last week, at Target.)
Overall, I recommend "25" by Adele. Sure, it's something that everyone is talking about. Sure, "Hello" is a bit overplayed.  However, it's an album that I believe is one of the best of 2015, and perhaps maybe an album that's going to be an classic in the years to come. Therefore, I recommend everyone--from the classic rock junkies to the rap music enthusiasts--to give this album a listen. I know you all will enjoy it. If you do purchase this album, I recommend that you get it from Target. You get three extra singles with the deluxe edition, all of which are amazing as the 11 in the standard edition.
Songs to Listen to: Hello, Send My Love (To Your New Lover), I Miss You, Remedy, Water Under the Bridge, When We Were Young, River Lea, Love in the Dark.
*Image source

Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Review: Instant Happiness Journal

*Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review
Lately, it seems like I've been a little short on the Happy front. Between stresses from work and school, I've been on a constant sinking ship of anxiety. Therefore, I decided to take up journaling in the effort to help combat my stress and anxiety. The book 'Instant Happiness Journal' by Karen Salmanson instantly became a must-have for me, and I was eager to see what this book had to offer.
The book is basically like a journal, but extends more than just a standard notebook.The book has a series of prompts for someone to write in. The book itself is a journal, and is filled with prompts to be written in. I've used it a few times, and can honestly say that the journal is cute. I've used it for the past few days, and I've looked foreword to writing each prompt. They all require some thinking, and even opens your mind up to new thoughts.
Overall, this book is a must have for those who are going through a hard time, those who are starting to journal but are at a loss as to where to start, and writers. I recommend this book highly, as both a blogger and a person whose going through a hard time and needs an outlet for them to vent about their lives. As the holiday season approaches, I recommend this book as something on everyone's gift list, or something to give to the one whose going through a rough time.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Things I'm Thankful for Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers. I hope you have a day that's full of food, and good memories. However, today I wanted to reflect about all of the things that I am thankful for. Lately, it seems like my life is a constant down spiral, and I wanted to remind myself that everything that in my life isn't all that bad.
Really good friends:
I have a lot of great friends, near and far. I'm grateful for the support my friend Kari gives me whenever I'm upset. I'm grateful for Griffin always being there for me as a person of both insight, and enlightening me with different ways to look at the world. I'm also thankful for the wild adventures I've had with both Griffin and Gabriel. I'm also grateful for Panera dinners with Vanessa. I've learned what good friends are and I've tried to surround myself in good company. I'm surrounded by a lot of good people who have been there for me and I'm grateful for it.
I have a close-knit family that are there for me for the highs and lows of my life. From my goofy grandma who I enjoy having Friday afternoon lunches with, to a supportive single mother who does everything for her child. I'm grateful for those two in particular, however, I'm still grateful that I have a good support system to rely on.
My dog: 
My dog is my best friend, and she's one of the people who always makes me happy when I'm upset. She always makes me laugh, and I'm happy to have my dog around whenever I'm feeling upset.
My opportunities:
From going to school to getting to work at a newspaper, I've had a lot of opportunities at my age. For that, even though I complain about them, I'm grateful for all of those opportunities.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Let me know in the comments below. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Stressed to Impress?

When looking back at this semester, only one word comes to mind-stress. Stress from work, stress from classes, and stresses to keep my sanity. As it finally draws to a close, I can't help but be grateful for the chance to have a break and just breath. I also can't help but feel victorious in the fact that I survived what I will probably deem as the most stressful time of my life. 
However, it's no secret that college students these days are stressful, which results in anxiety and other mental health problems. Most of my friends, including myself, work multiple jobs. They also go to school full-time, and some even have an internship. This results in many burning out, anxiety levels sky rocketing through the roof, as well as anxiety's effects. According to an article on the New York Times Blog Anxious Students Strain College Mental Health Centers, anxiety now surpasses depression as being the most common mental disorder diagnosis. The article then goes on to say that one in six college students are diagnosed with anxiety in the last year. And with college students like myself loading more and more on their plate, it's easy to see where the ultimate source of stress is. 
In college, the bar is raised and expectations are high. We have to go to class to get a degree, and do the work to getting  passing grade. But in some majors, you need experience. For many this is an internship. Then, we need money to pay bills such as car insurance, and just to have money in general, so then add a part time job. And some college students with outstanding bills often result in working an extra job. Sound like a lot? I haven't factored in sleep, food time, and of course time to just to relax. Bottom line-college is stressful. The question is why is it so?
The answer is that we are out to impress, since we are about to enter a job market that's competitive. So, we pile on jobs, internships, pretty much anything to stand out. And this creates a block of pressure, which can cause the back to break if one isn't careful. 
There's only so many hours in a day a person could keep pushing themselves for it to remain healthy. Everyone needs to realize that they can't keep going at a rapid pace, and not have an effect on themselves. While it's important to have experience, get good grades, and have money, it's also important that we take time for ourselves. Watch Netflix, read a magazine, and just do nothing. When we are programmed to be constantly busy, it can be a weird change. However, it's something that I think is crucial, especially when we are piling everything on ourselves. After all, that's the one thing that can help combat stress. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Things I Love Tuesday-Little Words Project

Many of my readers know that I was really close to my grandfather, whose now deceased. However, what many don't know is his last words to me, which were to "be happy." Since he was always happy and focused on everyone else's happiness, it wasn't surprising that those were his last words.
Recently, I've been going through a bit of a rough time. I have been formally diagnosed with anxiety, and have been dealing with its' effects. I saw the Little Words Project on Instagram, and decided to treat myself to bracelet, because I thought I needed a reminder to be "happy." I also really liked the bracelet, and wanted one to be a part of my jewelry wardrobe
So, I got the bracelet with the words "Be Happy," because of my grandfather. I choose Air Blue Opal, because light blue is one of my favorite colors. The bracelet itself wasn't expensive, and it took about a week for it to arrive home.
When I got it, I was instantly in love with the bracelet, and put it on with my blue Lokai bracelet (pictured above). It even included a note from the company, which instantly made my day. I love how passionate the company is about what they make, and is really refreshing. The bracelet even can be registered on their website, so if you choose to give the bracelet away, then you can track it's journey. Pretty cool, huh?
I've only worn it a few times since getting it, however, everytime I look down on it, it reminds me to aspire to be happy. It goes with Alex and Ani bracelets, as well as my Lokai. However, I know I'll be purchasing another bracelet again, as both gifts for myself, and gifts for friends as the holiday season rolls around. They have great customer service, and a great product. Therefore, for those who are looking for someone to give to friends, families, and of course themselves, look no further. The Little Words Project is a bracelet that offers a great meaning, and of course a great bracelet. And, for about $20, it's definitely worth the investment.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Music Monday: Why Taylor Swift's 1989 Is Still a Hit

A polaroid of Swift with shoulder-length blonde hair wearing red lipstick and a long-sleeved sweater with a picture of birds in the sky. Her face is cut off by the frame above the nose and "T. S." and "1989" are written on the white polaroid frame with black marker. Image Source
When thinking about one of the most iconic musicians of our generation, one name in particular comes to mind. And that is Taylor Swift.
A year ago, Swift released the album "1989," which contains music from Swift's birth year. Since then, "1989" has had five number one hits-"Style," "Blank Space," "Shake it Off," "Wildest Dreams," and "Bad Blood." Several other of her songs have charted, such as "Welcome To New York." "1989" has spent pretty much every week in the charts, and has sold over 8.6 million copies according to its' Wikipedia page.
However, a year later, Swifties all around the world, myself included still have the album on repeat. I've listened to "Style" over 200 times, and know the lyrics to most of the songs pretty much by heart. Her songs are still being played on the radio, and pretty regularly too I might add. Therefore, the album "1989" is an album that is one of the greatest of our generation, the same way "Thriller" was for our parents'.
What I liked about "1989" is that it's different than anything else out there in today's music market. I'm a huge fan of the '80's so I credit that to being the reason why I'm so obsessed with it. And the songs are just amazing. From "Welcome to New York" to "Wonderland," the album offers music that is both lyrically and musically mature, which is the reason why I love the album so much And, on the artistic end of things, it's just a great release.
As Swift's first non-country album, I can honestly say that there's not a single bad song that I don't like on the album. While I often put other albums aside, I still manage to listen to Swift's album pretty regularly.
What also is unique about "1989" is the the lyrics. From "Cause darling I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream," to "red lip classic thing that you like," Swift's lyrics are amazing. Songs like "Out of the Woods" and "Clean" are songs that are both emotional and honest. Swift has always managed to maintain a sense of reliability with her listeners, however, this album shows off her song-writing talents.
Even as I find more music that I'm obsessed with at the moment, I still can't help but have "Style," "Blank Space," or "Out of the Woods" still playing. The album itself is a modern-day classic, despite the fact it's a bit overplayed on the radio in my opinion. Therefore, in my opinion as a music enthusiast, I can honestly say it's a must listen to listeners going through their twenties (which is Swift's target audience), and beyond.

Friday, November 20, 2015

NanoWriMo Week 2 Update

Current word count:29,288 out of 50,000 (As of 11/16/2015)
Hi guys! So I'm updating you all on my latest endeavors writing for NanoWriMo. Since my last update, I've written over 18,000 words, and 66 pages. I still can't believe how much I've been able to accomplish. Usually, right about now I would be giving up. However, I still can't help but be encouraged to write more. I could see that this would be the year that I actually finish my novel, which is really exciting.
One of the problems I've been having is trying to figure out how to make my novel last 50,000 words. I know that the problem I'm going to create for my character is going to last a little while longer, but I'm not sure how long it's going to make it last while being interesting. However, once I'm done writing this update, I'm going to pen an introduction.
Furthermore, the biggest update I have novelling is that I'm on Tablo. So far, I've published the first chapters and I'm looking to publish more as time goes on. By the end of the month, expect the entire novel to be up.
Anyways, this weekend I'm going to be spending it novelling. Stay tuned next week for a special update.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The YA Debate?

As many of my readers know, I'm a huge fan of Young Adult Literature. I've read every word John Green, Sarah Dessen, and Lauren Conrad (yes, her books are considered to be YA) have ever written, and some of my favorite books are in fact of the Young Adult Genre. With that being said, those books often cause a literary debate. And that is, are they literature? And, should adults be picking these novels up as well?

We Were Liars is a YA Book I've Read Over the summer.
This semester, I am taking a Young Adult Literature class, where many of the books are books I've either read before or could see myself reading. Some of the books include "Perks of Being a Wallflower," "We Were Liars," "The Hunger Games" and "The Maze Runner" just to name a few. All of these books are books I've either read or wanted to read.
This semester, I'm also taking a 20th century literature course. Obviously, you can tell the different between my texts for the classes, because there's a difference between John Green and Ernest Hemingway. However, when someone says these books aren't exactly literature, I can't help but wonder what is literature? What makes something a piece of literature?
A lot of the Young Adult books I've read were in my spare time. When I'm reading a book for pleasure, I'm reading it because I've heard it's good or because I want to have something to entertain me. I'm not close reading, and I want something that is a good novel. However, Young Adult novels often have some serious elements in them, such as one of my favorite books, "The Carrie Diaries" by Candace Bushnell. Carrie is struggling with trying to figure out who she really is, as well figuring out what she wants in relationships. Furthermore, that's a serious theme. Another one of my favorites, "Saint Anything" by Sarah Dessen, explores the impact having a family member doing time in prison hashad  on a family. That's a serious read, in my opinion.
However, I understand that reading something like "L.A. Candy" maybe not be have the literary nutrients as something like "The Sun Also Rises" does. Furthermore, I think reading in its entirety is a good thing no matter what you're reading. I've loved reading since I was little, and use reading a way to relax. I read over 15 books every summer, ranging in all kinds of genres. To me, as long as someone's reading, it doesn't matter what it is. Therefore, I can honestly conclude that reading YA is a good thing, because it definitely feeds someone's appetite for books. And when growing up, we were told to read books. It shouldn't matter whether or not something may or may not be considered to be literature.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Under the (Negative) Influence

Last week, I wrote one of the most honest blog entries in a long time about my struggles with depression and anxiety. Now, I'm writing to talk more about it, because it's something that has taken center stage in my life, sadly. Furthermore, it's something that's affecting every avenue in my life, and something I have to deal with.
Today, I want to talk about something my therapist bought up to me in a session. He said to avoid people that bring you down during this negative time, because it's only going to drag you down even farther. If someone's making you feel bad or upset while talking to them, then just don't talk to them. After that session, I realized there was a grain of truth to what he said, and that through out my circle of friends I've been feeling dragged down by some. Whenever a friend says I'm anxious or upset, I am tempted to shout "try living my life! I have anxiety! I have three jobs! I go to school. I have no free time." That's not the most helpful thing in the world to do, but sometimes I feel that way.
While a lot of my friends are going through a difficult time themselves, I'm now beginning to realize that some people have truly made me upset to talk to. It's not that I'm upset with them or that I don't care about them, it's just I feel constantly dragged down whenever they complain. That's why in turn, I try to avoid talking about my struggles unless you are one of my closest friends. I'm fearful of being that friend who constantly brings everyone down.
As I deal with my anxiety, I'm realizing something. I'm realizing that I need to put myself first. Just like it's not someone's responsibility to 'fix' me, it's also not my responsibility to fix someone else's mess. As a friend, I can be empathetic and there for you when you need a hug or someone to talk to. But, it's also not my problem to fix what's wrong in your life. If you're constantly complaining about not having something and not doing something about it, chances are I'm not going to want to have you around me anymore. It's cruel and mean, yes. But I'm not in the place to be dragged down, because I have something else going on.
There's some friends who make me feel better about things, and are positive influences in my life. However, there's some that truly are not the case whatsoever. Selena Gomez once said "you are who you surround yourself with." Since hearing that, I can truly identify with what she was saying. I have some good friends already, however, if you're going to complain about your life consistently, I'm going to either encourage you to change it or talk to someone who can. Problems, can be fixed, just like things can. Sometimes, I'm not the resource to do so.
At the end of the day, being a good friend is important. However, Natalie's mental health is something I think is as well.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Giving Peace a Chance

Yesterday, over 150 lives have been taken in the acts of senseless violence due to ISIS. The bombings took place over several locations, including a restaurant, stadium and a concert hall. The bombings resulted in France closing its borders, as well as the city of Paris shutting down completely.
I watched some of the coverage last night on CNN. My heart literally broke when I was listening to the newscast and heard the stories of several victims, who called in through video conference. What happened to Paris was simply terrible, and I couldn't believe some of the things I was watching on the news. The one thing that went through my mind as I was watched this was the lyrics of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance." And all we are saying, is literally give peace a chance.
My heart and prayers go to those who were affected by this tragedy, as well for the country of France. Pray for France, and please pray for the world. We all need peace.
Give peace a chance.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Books I Want to Read Over Winter Break

This semester, I had a list of books that I wanted to read. I only read one. No, I'm not being lazy, rather I'm taking so many literature classes, I barely have time to read for pleasure. As the semester draws to a close, I'm looking foreword to reading whatever I want again. Of course, I have some books in mind. Below is what I hope to read over winter break. Have you read them? Let me know in the comments below.

  1. Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton
  2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  3. All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes
  4. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

An Open Note to My Friends Regarding Anxiety and Depression

Dear Friends and family who are reading this,
This is a letter from me to you. Some of you reading this may know me personally, and are really close to me. Some of you may not know me other than this blog, which in some ways is extraordinary in itself. I'm writing to you all, in hopes this is something that helps you understand more about depression, rather than excuse me.
I have been suffering with the effects with anxiety and depression since the beginning of the semester due to over scheduling and pressures of school/work/life. My anxiety is so severe, it's been affecting my physical health, as well as my mental well being. There are somedays I'm so depressed or anxious I don't feel like leaving my bed.  I've been in treatment for those things, and have been seeing a therapist. However, I would like to take the time to talk to friends and family about what's going on with me so they can understand because I feel like they sometimes don't get what it's like to deal with this.
Sometimes, I'm not going to be in the mood to talk to you, or I'm going to not be in constant touch with you. It's not a symbol of whether or not I'm interested in being your friend. It's just my mind is going 1,000 miles an hour and I can't stop thinking about what's going on to focus on anything else. I apologize for sometimes losing touch with my friends, and some of the friends I talk to are the ones I'm close enough to discuss my mental struggle with. It's nothing personal if I don't message you everyday, or ask to hang out. It's just I'm overwhelmed, and trying my best to deal with what's going on with me.
The past few months have been nothing less than crazy. I'm trying my best to deal with it, using resources that my campus has and what I can do for inner peace. Through therapy, I've been trying to manage my symptoms, and trying to maintain a positive attitude. It's a day to day struggle, something I hope you all understand. I'm trying to stay afloat, and I'm trying to be the best person I can be. I just ask you to bear with me, and to understand it's not you. It's truly me.
Cliche, but very true.

Monday, November 9, 2015

NanoWriMo Update 1

Word Count: (As of 4 pm on Sat. Nov. 6) 11,860
Nano Wri Mo, or National Novel Writing Month, occurs every November. It's the month of extreme writing, and the end goal is to produce one novel spanning 50,000 words. Wow, that's a lot of words! Challenge accepted.
I've done NanoWriMo a few years now, and usually the farthest I've ever gotten was about 20,000. The thought of writing a completed novel usually was a daunting task, and I've never completely finished a novel. Or got to the middle part of it. And throughout the year, when I wrote novels that are not rushed, I would just get bored in the middle and forget about them.
However, this year I've decided to enter. Despite not having much time to do it. I've decided, in the efforts to relax, to use it as a time to just write. My novel is called "Tinderella," and it's about a girl whose forced into the online dating scene. She goes through trials and errors, and in the end, could find a Prince Charming.
 The bottom line is I'll edit later. NanoWriMo has definitely been a huge bit of motivation to write it, along with Nano Word Sprints.  I'm determined to make it to the goal, and I'm already 1/5th of the way there. Actually, I'm passed the 1/5th mark, which makes it even more exciting.
What's even more shocking about it is how much I've been writing. Every day, I've been writing an average of 2,000 words. Why? Because you have to tear me away to get me to stop writing. I'm so immersed in the story, and I literally can't stop writing. Writing my novel has become a place where I can just relax, which is something that I need.
So, here's to another week of intense noveling. I know I can do it.
Are you doing NanoWriMo? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Who Says Retail Therapy Can't Solve Your Problems?

One of the most unhealthy things I do is whenever I'm feeling blue, I go in my car and go shopping. "Treat yourself," I tell myself as I purchase something "shiny and new" such as a new purse, sweater or if I make a trip to Dava to buy a new ring. Add that with a little bit of Starbucks, and my deepest blues seem to sail away.
Yes, I'm living in a material world, and yes I'm a material girl.
A PuraVida Bracelet I Bought Recently.
This past semester has been beyond rough for me. And yes, I know shopping isn't the answer to solving your problems. But, here's my mentality. Sometimes, you just got to treat yourself. Sometimes, it's okay to splurge on a new ring, a new purse or even some books.
Because you deserve it. Every now and then, we need to treat ourselves to something because we are worth a million. Sometimes, we need to treat ourselves out to a wonderful meal by ourselves or with friends with great food. Or, sometimes, we need to have an extra special dessert. While it's important to save our money for rainy days, it's also important to things that make us happy and smile. After all, sometimes we buy a dress that looks amazing, or a piece of jewelry that can add a sparkle to an ensemble.
The take home message here is simple. Sometimes retail therapy can solve our problems and make life a little brighter. After all, part of loving yourself is treating yourself.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Having Fun or Being Responsible?

When I go out with friends, I often refrain from drinking, partying and doing other things such as using marijuana recreationally. I also don't condemn those who do those things. My Friday nights are often spent at home watching Netflix with my dog because I'm too tired to do much else. It's a choice I made personally, but when I do go out it's rare. I'm an introvert and I'm proud of it.
However, with some of my friends, I feel like when I go out with them I have to be the responsible one. I don't drink or smoke, so it's quick for me to become the voice of reason and to take care of those who have. It's not fair, and it's something I feel should be addressed. Just because I am not under any influence or high doesn't mean that I have to assume the right of caretaker.
Sure, getting drunk can be kind of fun. I can often be perceived as "innocent" for not partaking in a lot of partying activities. That's not a realistic way to judge someone. My version of fun isn't getting plastered on a Friday and Saturday night. My version of fun doesn't contain drinking. I don't drink because it's a personal choice I made for myself. However, I have friends whose versions of fun do in fact contain those things.
Let me say this first before I continue: I do in fact care about my friends. I don't judge them because they have a lot to drink. The reason why I take care of them is simply because I care about them, and want them to not do things that could potentially hurt them.
I'm not writing this to judge them. I'm writing this to say I'm sick and tired of having to be the "responsible" one when it comes to friends drinking.  I'm tired of worrying about friends who make unhealthy decisions, such as driving drunk and then feeling responsible for them when they do make those mistakes. I'm tired of having to take care of friends who indulge too much. This has happened a few times now and it's something that I'm sick of doing. It's really not fun nor is it fair to me, because on the rare occasion I do go out, I want to actually have fun. I deserve that, because I work hard enough.
I believe if you're going to drink, you need to be responsible for yourself. Just because you've had a few drinks doesn't mean that you forgo the right to make important decisions for yourself. Don't become someone else's problem to take care of you if you're drinking too much and making bad decision. If you want to have a drink, designate one driver to drive. Then, every time you're going out alternate them. Be sure to not drink too much so that designator doesn't have to take care of you if things go crazy. Be responsible, because you're an adult and need to responsible for yourself.
I'm writing this as a rant and to make people more aware about how I'm feeling. I shouldn't have to choose between having fun or being responsible.  It's just really unfair for me. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Music Monday: All Time Favorite Artists

You all can guess from last week that I listen to a lot of music. Last week, I told you all about my favorite albums of all time. Today I'm going to tell you about my favorite artists. And, I can promise that this list will be a lot shorter than the previous one. Like my favorite albums, be sure to expect a lot of diversity, and classic rock.

  1. Madonna
  2. Ozzy Osbourne
  3. Elton John 
  4. Lana Del Rey 
  5. Aerosmith 
  6.  Demi Lovato 
  7. Tegan and Sara
  8. The Pretty Reckless
  9. Def Leppard