Writing

Being a Mom is Awful

Grey’s Anatomy is one of my all-time favorite shows. I’ve watched every episode of every season, many episodes more than once. The writing is the best. There have been so many moments when I felt like the writers were in my heart or brain, grabbing my own words and feelings.

Tonight was no exception. The main plotline involved two 8-year-old boys finding a gun in the home, with one of them being seriously injured. The residents and doctors fought to save the boys’ life and help the other not to forever blame himself for hurting his friend.

As sisters Meredith and Maggie (who live together and raise Mer’s kids after her husband’s death) walked out of the hospital after their shift, Maggie began crying and they had this conversation:

Meredith: What’s wrong? What’s wrong?
Maggie: I don’t know how you do it, Mer.
Meredith: Do what?
Maggie: Love your kids like this. I really love them.
Meredith: They love you too.
Maggie: No, I love them like – if something happened to them, I would die. My heart is so wide open and they’re so fragile. I don’t know how you live like this. I don’t.
Meredith: It’s awful.

Yep, it’s absolutely awful. It’s the hardest thing about being a parent. The love is almost too much too hold sometimes. When you say, “I’d give my life for them,” you mean it literally and with every fiber of your being.

It reminds me of this quote I heard years ago and has always stuck with me:

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
― Elizabeth Stone

Yep. It’s absolutely awful. And I wouldn’t change it for a thing <3

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

I recently finished the novel “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins.

the girl on the train paula hawkins

Here is the book description from Amazon:

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

I couldn’t put this book down. It’s written with narrators that change each chapter so you learn things from different perspectives and come to find why all their lenses are so very different.

Like “Gone Girl”, this is a book I’d recommend you NOT read any spoilers about or it’ll ruin the reading experience. I was told early on that there was a ‘big twist’ and kept looking for it with each turn of the page. But, be patient Grasshopper – it takes a good damn while. Just relax and enjoy the story as it unfolds.

Suffice it to say, “The Girl on the Train” is the book next in line after “Gone Girl” and “The Husband’s Secret” of obsessive reads and breakout bestsellers that soon “everyone” will be talking about. Be the first on your block to read “Girl on the Train” and remain the trendsetter that you are.

Speaking of “Gone Girl”, it’s only $4.99 for Kindle right now if you haven’t read it yet 😉

This whole review and talk about spoilers and big events reminds me that I need to re-read “Every Last One” by Anna Quindlen from several years back. It’s one of my personal Top 10 Reads of All Time. It won’t be as good the second time since I already know the spoiler but, man, was that a good book!

I’m always tempted to Google when people talk about big events or spoilers in a popular new novel but I’m always glad that I don’t give in to it. I love that feeling of suspense and turning pages quickly to get to whatever it is, and I want my reaction to be natural to its unfolding. Spoilers take the fun out of everything, don’t you think?

Happy reading and let me know what you think about “The Girl on the Train”!

Family: The Tradition of Having Chinese Take-Out on New Year’s Eve

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve evening and I just placed our annual phone order with Golden China. My husband will pick it up on the way home from work, along with a stop at the grocery store for Martinelli’s sparkling cider for the kids.

Yes, we’re creatures of habit but let’s put a more positive spin on that, shall we? We love to create and uphold our own little family traditions. It’s fun, we look forward to it, and – perhaps after some fits and starts – it’s predictable each year.

I heard online today that having Chinese food on New Years Eve is a “thing” on the East Coast, so much so that you have to order your food by the day before if you hope to get any. Wow, that’s kinda’ cool!

I’m on the West Coast and I don’t think it’s a “thing” here. Is it? Is it a “thing”, fellow West Coasters? I mean, there was snow in San Diego today so anything is possible 😀

Photo by:  Ali Inay
*Image courtesy of Unsplash.com

We came about this tradition in a round-about way. It started out many years ago, maybe 15, with Christmas Eve. My husband’s grandparents always invited us to Christmas Eve service at their church. The first year, the service was done, we were all in a happy mood, and HUNGRY! Where could we go at the last minute, without reservations, that could seat 20 people, without too much of a wait? (Some of us had long drives home).

We enjoyed it so much, we kept this tradition of Christmas Eve service, then a Chinese food sit-down dinner for many years. I have great memories of those nights! Everyone was dressed up, the kids shot straw wrappers at each other across the table from their Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers’, the grown-ups talked and laughed, and the food was colorful and delicious.

Sadly, my husband’s granddad passed away and not long after, his bride took on health problems that kept her from church. That tradition died as well 🙁 However, my own family decided to keep it going in our way, to honor and remember our grandparents/great-grandparents and relive those memories each year. For maybe 2 years, we ordered Chinese take-out that we ate at home after attending Christmas Eve service at our local church.

The downside of this arrangement was that, when our Christmas Day dinner tradition arrived the next day, we still had tons of leftovers and, honestly, no one was ready for another big meal quite yet anyway. So the next year we decided, let’s just move the Chinese take-out dinner tradition to New Years Eve! We’re always home anyway, watching movies and staying off the icy/wet roads with drunk drivers.

And that’s how our New Year’s Eve Chinese Food Take-Out Tradition began and, I hope, shall continue for many years to come.

Happy New Year! I hope you and your family enjoy your own traditions in 2015 – and maybe even create some new ones. God Bless.

PS: One of the best parts of ordering Chinese food take-out is . . . leftovers on New Years Day! And, hence, why I seem to have another tradition of my very own: Starting a diet on January 2. I shall be upholding that tradition this year. Please stay tuned if you’d like to join me in the journey 🙂

Christmas 2014: Beach Time, Internet Detox, and Home Organization

It’s been a while since I posted but I consciously did a bit of a “internet detox” this holiday season. My family was off school and work and I, miraculously, was off work for 10 days! I have several jobs but the main one is typing charts for a busy doctor’s office, so time off is very hard to come by. I’m so grateful to have steady work and to be able to work from home – between playing kid taxi, ya’ feel me? – so I’m not complainin’ just explainin’. Ha! I’m usually on the computer pretty much around the clock for work and family stuff, even entertainment, so it was nice to just step away for a while. Have you done an internet detox?

We spent some glorious time at the beach with extended family and I really recharged my batteries. There’s nothing like sea air, crashing waves, great food, and family that loves you unconditionally <3. I took loads of photos but here is my favorite: IMG_5596

The rest of the time was filled with typical Christmas break stuff: Last minute shopping and wrapping, making our traditional Italian dinner for Christmas, opening presents, visiting nearby family, going to movies (“Wild” awesome! “Unbroken” disappointing, boo hoo), reading books by the fire, and lazing around with my family. {We’re binge watching “Blue Bloods”, an awesome show for families to watch together}. Needless to say, it was the best of times 😀

I also got the organizing bug and managed to clean out 2 bedrooms, 3 closets, a cabinet, and the kitchen pantry. My bookshelf sorely needed attention – here, see for yourself:

IMG_5636

Yes, that’s a lot of books! But believe or not, this is the “purged” version 🙂 About once a year, I go through it to make sure I still want all these lovelies. I adore having my own little library – in addition to the one inside my Kindle – and often re-read and loan books out. In the end, I removed 6 hardcover books which, ironically, were none of my own books but ones I had borrowed and forgotten to return. So there’s something else for the To Do List 2015: Try to remember who loaned me what and return them!

Here is the final result:

IMG_5651

Eh, at least it’s an improvement, sagging shelves and all, LOL. It’s mostly fiction but some non-fiction, too. I mainly organize alphabetically by author. This time, I also grouped together all books that have to do with Italy/Europe whether fiction or non. Sometimes I get “in the Italy mood” and this will make it easier to find a good read. I also grouped together weight loss/motivation books, both fiction and non-fiction, for the same reason. Anyway, I’m happy with the results and predict that at the end of 2015, I’ll be doing it all again!

Also on the organizing front, I got my 2015 Dayplanner refill and penciled in all of 2015 with school calendars, birthdays, sports events, and business things; now that feels good! I also found a pretty little journal at Ross while I was Christmas shopping. I can’t find it online but it’s similar to THIS ONE on Amazon . . .

Amazing Grace journal

. . . except the flowers are more like pink roses and it says, “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound.” Inside are lined pages with a Bible verse at the bottom of each one. I’m hoping to start a new habit of daily journaling – just real basic “what’s the haps”. Also, I’d like a place to keep random notes and perhaps cut down on my Post It Note addiction 😉

So, what was your favorite part of Christmas vacation 2014? Did you get any home projects done or just enjoy your family, friends, and down time? I hope it was a little of both and I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Deep Thoughts: And It’s Just Like That

Photo by:  Silvestri Matteo

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an older person in my family, a remarkable woman. I feel guilt for not making more time to spend with her because, as they say, she won’t be around forever.

I’ve been thinking about why I feel guilty – familial obligation? No, it’s not that. It’s that I’m missing out on some finite time, time that I won’t be able to spend with her . . . “when I have time.”

I’ve been thinking about why I adore her so much, why I think I should be hoarding time with her, why I’ll weep when she goes.

I’ve been thinking about the shine in her eyes when she sees my family, the hearty laugh, the love of books we bonded over, the instant embrace into her family when I joined the club.

I’ve been thinking about how it must feel to be near the end of your life and knowing, to the bottom of your soul, that you did this thing well. You lived every moment. You loved deeply. You forgave. You laughed. You moved on.

I’ve been thinking about how I’ll want to be remembered when I pass on.

And it’s just like that.

#30DaysOfThankful: What Is it and What’s the Plan?

To go along with one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place – paying more attention to gratitude and the GOOD things in life when there is so much to bring us down – I’ve decided to participate for the first time in “30 Days of Thankful” (#30DaysOfThankful). With Thanksgiving coming in the US, it’s the time of year we tend to be more thoughtful anyway.


*Image via TheTomKatStudio.com

If you’re a scrapbooker like me me, you may have heard of CATHY Z’s VERSION {I just love that tiny 4×4 WRMK album, don’t you?}. A message board I’m on is doing this as a challenge for a prize – which would be lovely to win but that’s not what’s motivating me 😉

The challenge is to post something we’re grateful for on each of the 30 days in November. With your list of gratitudes, you can do many things, such as:

– Make a mini album
– Share on social media
– Make a scrapbook layout
– Share the list with your family
– Write a daily PROJECT LIFE CARD & pair with a photo for a quick album

Or anything else you’d like to do!

I have 2 other journaling-heavy memorykeeping projects going on right now so I’m not going to attempt a mini album or anything intensive. I think I’ll make my daily post on the message board, then compile those into a weekly post here on my blog. I think a daily post here would overwhelm the blog, LOL.

I’ll share my daily posts on Twitter – because gratitude begets gratitude (hopefully), right? I also created a PINTEREST BOARD to gather inspiration for this project. Stuff like this, from Cathy Z, who I mentioned above:

I’d love to have you join in – it’s a Pinterest group board! Just email me your first name/last name or the email address you use with Pinterest, and I’ll add you – send to: erika(at)blessednotlucky(dot)com.

Have you participated in “30 Days of Thankful” before? What form did you use and what was the experience like? Will you do it this year? I’d love to hear your plans!

Blogging: Ultimate Blog Challenge Wrap-Up

I talked about joining the Ultimate Blog Challenge for October 2014 right HERE. Basically, you try to blog daily for a month, hopefully increasing engagement, networking with other bloggers, etc.

Today is 10-31-14 and we’ve made it through the month. The “Ultimate Blogging Challenge” didn’t go the way I expected it to but it was still fun. I started off strong, posting daily for the first 5 days. Then, of course, “life got in the way” with work and some travel taking up a bunch of my time.

I did manage to get 4 more blog posts done by the end of the month, so 9 total during the challenge period vs. the goal of 31 😀 Even though I fell short, I’m glad I did it and will probably try again next year.


“Wellllll, kind of . . . ”

It was fun finding other bloggers via Twitter (using the hashtag #BlogBoost). I was also listed in the UBC blog directory. To be honest, I don’t think either thing led to much if any traffic to my blog 🙁 That was a letdown because I did make it a point to visit some other UBC bloggers and wish they would’ve returned the favor.

I think blog challenges in general are good. The prompts give you ideas if you’re running dry and the challenge itself is motivating. I encourage other bloggers to do challenges like this one.

Gratitudes: Kate Nash, Go “Not Giants”, and New Picoult Novel

I’m not a morning person. AT ALL. So it always surprises me when I have one of those “God, I love life!” mornings. Like today.

– Hazelnut coffee, Kate Nash & He is We on Pandora, and feeling “not frantic” about work today

– Slept well, remembering a nice evening with my family watching the SF Giants lose 😉

– It’s late October and still sunny in the 70s and 80s every day

– Red Sox seat covers arrived (thank you, Amazon!) and I’ll rock them in my new car today

– October bills are paid, monthly Costco trip is done, and we aren’t broke

– Looking forward to starting the new Jodi Picoult novel, “Leaving Time”

jodi picoult leaving time

{And Jodi herself just Retweeted me! Wow, great day!}

Those are the things making me blissful today. How about you?

Blessed Not Lucky: Weekly Round-Up 10-05-14

Just some random-ness from my week wandering the web . . . hope you enjoy!

Oh yeah, I’m so very guilty of THIS!

I’ve been hanging out HERE a bit but hopin’ it gets more hoppin’. C’mon over and join us – all bloggers welcome 🙂

Found THESE in muted pink @ TJ Maxx {they made me happy!} and have been enjoying THIS
on the chilly mornings lately.

“Drah-ma!” makes me tired so I totally agree with this:

* Found on Pinterest, originally from THE MOTIVATED TYPE on Etsy {but no longer available, that I can see}.

Blogging: Why I Started the “Blessed Not Lucky” Blog

So. This is a fairly new blog, just a few months old and not many entries yet. I have lots of work to do – publishing posts and getting my blog to look the way I want it to – but I’m so happy to have gotten started!

I’ve actually been blogging since 2007 and have two other active blogs – one about my hobby and one for my work-at-home business (transcriber / blogger / virtual assistant).

I *love* blogging which brings together two of my favorite things to do . . . 1. Writing and 2. sharing about the things I love:

– photos
– music
– gratitudes
– writing
– blogging
– weight loss
– travel
– etc.

sfbridge
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

Obviously, those aren’t things I get to talk about much on my other blogs – because those are very focused on the topics at hand. I don’t like to mix in too much personal stuff on them because it dilutes their purpose.

But I keep finding myself frustrated that I can’t write or share about all my favorite things listed above. Dang.

So I decided to start THIS blog – “Blessed Not Lucky” – where I could talk about all that fun stuff. I also very much want to connect with other bloggers and blog readers.

Along with all this, I love to laugh about the absurdities of life and have a very sarcastic sense of humor. So we are gonna’ have us some fun!

My dream is for this blog to get better and better, to make some new friends, and to express myself in a more creative way than I’ve been able to in the past.

What’s in it for you? Well, I hope you enjoy reading what I share. I hope you feel blessed by my blog. I hope I make you laugh so hard that coffee shoots out your nose 😀

Wish me luck and I hope you’ll become a regular reader! Do we have anything in common? What types of things do YOU like to read about? I would absolutely LOVE IT if you’d leave a comment below . . .

Blogging: Would You Like to Join Me in a Blogging Challenge?

As you can see, this is a very new blog. I have 2 other established blogs about my hobby and my work – but I’ve started this one to be more personal. I’m going to write about ‘real life’ things, share some photos and thoughts, make you laugh, and have some great conversations with you.

But it all starts with readers, right? I need to get the word out and find some new friends 🙂 Hopefully, that’s you! I’d love to network with other bloggers and find some new blogs that *I* love to read. Maybe we can share ideas, support each other, and be bloggy friends! Maybe we can even do guest posts for each other, who knows? The sky’s the limit.

I found a cool blogging challenge that I hope will help me with all of the above. It’s FREE (that’s my favorite price!) and sounds like a lot of fun. It starts on October 1, 2014 and the goal is to post at least once per day through October 31. I figure even if I don’t meet that goal (hey, I get busy sometimes! LOL), I’ll still have a lot more blog entries than I would on my own. And you can sign up to receive daily blogging ideas and encouragement, not to mention interacting on Facebook and Twitter!

ultimate blog challenge

I’m familiar with Paul Taubman because I’ve learned so much about WordPress from him. I joined the opening webinar about UBC and Danni Ackerman seems awesome, too!

Doesn’t the Ultimate Blog Challenge sound fun! Whether you have an established blog – or a new one like mine – this challenge will hold you accountable for daily posting, gain you some readers/friends, and help your SEO {which means Google will love you more}.

Would you like to join me? If you’re here BECAUSE OF the UBC, will you please say “hi” in Comments? Thanks & I look forward to meeting you!

Blessed Not Lucky: Weekly Roundup 08-31-14

Just some random-ness from my week on the web . . . hope you enjoy 🙂

– Here’s to GOING SLOW ON PURPOSE . . .

THIS is going on the Christmas wish list for this beach girl.

– Some of the loveliest singing I’ve ever heard. Don’t click Play unless you have some free time right now. You’ll be sucked into finding all their other videos on YouTube 😉

– From one of my favorite writers . . .

– I’ve heard good things about THIS BOOK. And it’s only $1.99 for Kindle right now, just might snap it up.

– Well, dang. There goes THAT PLAN.

Blessed Not Lucky

It all started with a gift.

My mom got me a pink hoodie for Christmas.  Across the front, in pretty white script writing it said, “Blessed Not Lucky.”

At first, I just loved the hoodie because it was pink and cute and warm.  But then I kept thinking about it.  “Blessed Not Lucky.”  

And isn’t that how I’d always felt?

Lucky (adj.)  Producing or resulting in good by chance.

Blessed (adj.)  Bringing pleasure, contentment or good fortune; having a sacred nature.

Lucky is based on chance but Blessed is based on something better. Lucky comes from nowhere but Blessed comes from a higher power, whichever one you believe in (or even if you don’t).

Lucky is like a winning lotto ticket. Pure random chance. A numbers game. A coincidence. Your turn, numerically speaking.

Blessed is like a reward. Earned or not. Happens to all but appreciated by few. Bless others and your turn comes sooner. And more often.

Blessed Not Lucky.

That’s how I choose to see the world. How about you?