On Sunday, I turned thirty-seven years old.
Ten years ago I thought I’d be on the brink of a total holy-crap-I-am-almost-forty-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life? crisis. Heck, five years ago I had much the same thought. I dreaded getting old because I thought, with age came limitations.

I am not freaking out. In fact I am the exact opposite of freaking out.

With age comes perspective, and I realize now my train of thought a decade ago with regards to aging was stupid and limiting. Age truly is only a number and it’s the limitations our society places on us – especially women as we age; which causes this irrational fear of getting older. It doesn’t help that our society seems to value the naivete of youth more than the wisdom of age, but perhaps that-like everything else in the world will change one day too. I think it will, especially since our society is living longer than it ever has before – if that’s not worth something, then I don’t know what is.

I’m actually totally digging my life right now. I feel like I’m on a forward trajectory. I’m steadily working towards checking off some goals I set for myself early this Spring. I am-I hope giving the twenty-seven year old me a run for her money.

Somewhere along the line I realized aging is a blessing. Old age is gift denied to many and each and every single day I get to spend with the people I love is a gift. The rest is just icing on the cake or toilet paper on my shoes, temporary and superfluous.

I am blessed, and my regular acknowledgement and gratitude for all the blessings in my life, I think really helps me keep things in perspective. I also began to focus on me and make myself a priority.

Gratitude is more than simply making a list of things you’re thankful for -though it certainly can begin that way. For me, the wonderful thing that is gratitude is feeling. When one truly feels gratitude your spirit is lifted.

Yesterday I took a few moments to write down what I am grateful for and some goals for the upcoming year.

gorguss books mugInstead of re-writing or paraphrasing, it here I’m sharing verbatim from my journal.

My heart is full of many blessings: I have an amazing husband for whom I’ve never questioned his love for me. My boys are healthy, smart, loving, beautiful human beings, being their mother is the best thing ever. I live in a place where everything is new to me, though I am surrounded by history like delightful crumbly buildings left to their own devices, while corn pops up in neat rows around it…

 

…This year I will finish this manuscript, I’m outlining. I will then actually share it with people. Real live humans who read stuff. I will edit and edit, and edit it some more until I feel it’s good enough to send it out on submission.

I will share a short story or two in order to help me with my fear or sharing my work. I will share them with the world via the Internet and websites like Wattpad or Figment.

I will commit to exercise. Like actual regular exercise where I go to the gym more than once or twice a month. I will consume less sugar which is my kryptonite.

I will help my boys to accomplish some of their creative goals.

I will continue to volunteer – but ONLY when it doesn’t interfere with my own life. What this means is no more putting off my own life to bake cookies or spend the day cleaning out a shed when I could be writing. I have learned to say no and I will say no a lot. It is not mean. It is not selfish. (Keep telling yourself these things when you feel guilty.)

I will given in more to my wanderlust.

When the urge to yell and get impatient with my boys I will imagine them as the tiny creatures they once were, or as my friend Jen recommends as the elderly.

I will read books from genres I wouldn’t normally choose. Science fiction, or those Harlequin type of romance books might be a good start.

I am an evolving creature… sort of… 31, 34, 35,

The Best parts of your life This week I was blessed to have both a lunch and dinner with friends. One was a sort of “wash” lunch for the executive board in which I held a role last year with my spouses group. The other was a lovely dinner to celebrate my birthday (which is on Sunday) and it was so nice to be able to spend time with friends talking about nothing and everything over delicious food and wine.

I ended both meals with sore cheeks from smiling so much.

This is a good thing.

As you get older it can be difficult to find good friends because one’s tolerance for the “faux” friend grows short. I’ve been very blessed to not only find women with whom I share common interests but for whom I respect and genuinely care for. We don’t have to like the same things or read the same books, but they are genuine, real, smart, and awesome and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to move abroad and meet them.

I had to say “see you later” to one of these women yesterday as she returns to the States, and in the coming months and year I will have a lot more “see you laters” but the thing is, the friendship will remain of that I am certain.

The best parts of one’s life are the small moments you spend smiling with people who matter to you. They really are.

 

 

 

 

Cinque Terre, Italy is everything you think it will be. Charming. Picturesque. Quaint. Lovely.

Though we only spent a day, we didn’t feel as though we were missing out, but leaving was hard. As we drove out of the mountainside we kept looking over our shoulder and craning our necks to see the closely stacked buildings. We were all completely charmed and wished we had more time to spend exploring all of it’s nooks and crannies. We’ve vowed to return, and I’m already planning a trip for sometime later this summer. I can easily see us all spending a lackadaisical four day weekend among the awe inspiring cliffs and views of the five seaside fishing villages that make up this beautiful and truly unique place.

Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy

Pisa Italy Summer-5

Cinque Terre, Italy

Summer-9

Summer-8

Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy

 

 

Holy Cow!
I was in a very long and slow moving line at the post office taking care of “life-stuff”, when I read the first sentence to Amanda Panitch’s debut novel Damage Done. Twenty-four hours later I resumed taking care of my “life-stuff” because this novel was absolutely unputdownable.

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch book review
Damage Done surrounds b
rother and sister Julia and Ryan.
Twins.
One is a sociopath.
One… (shrugs shoulders) Is not.
Bonnie & Clyde? Maybe. Maybe not.
All you do know for sure is Julia’s life was forever altered when she exited her high school band room…alone. The sole survivor of her brother’s psychotic rampage which left “eleven skull sized blood stains” on their band room floor.
To escape her brother’s legacy Julia Vann is made to transform into Lucy Black as her parents try to blot out the existence of her brother.
Can a dysfunctional family every find function after all the bloodshed and murder? 
Can Julia Lucy live without her brother? Or will his ghost haunt her? These are the questions you will ask yourself. These are the same questions that will make an understandably skittish Lucy become a little bit more than paranoid and a little bit more of a bigger liar.
Along for the ride and to make it a true YA novel are her still alive-for-the-moment, best friend Alane (who’s name annoyed the crap out me – I don’t know why – it just did) and Evan; the unbelievably hot jock who falls madly in love with her.
V.C. Andrews would, I imagine, totally dig this book and the magnetic-(Fatal Attraction to a whole new level) relationship that underlines this whole story.
The narrator’s voice and the story she tells is both captivating and beguiling, kind of like a Venus flytrap.
Genere: YA (I’d say 14+)
Don’t wait for you library to stock a copy. Buy it now…just maybe check your mail first.
Many thanks to Netgalley who provided me with an advance digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Oh how I do love to read and e-books are just wonderful. As you can see behind me I’m just as big a fan of traditional paper books, but sometimes an e-book is much more convenient, especially if you like to read anywhere or at anytime. I frequently get asked where I find my books. Usually I say Amazon, but that can get pricey so I do hit up these free sites on occasion when I need a new book fix, or sometimes to discover new authors.

free ebooks

Here are my favorite sites for free ebooks.

NetGalley Librarians, booksellers, bloggers, authors, and some of the best publishers are available.  These are usually new ARCs (advanced reader copies) unpublished or just published novels. You are expected to review the book, which can easily be done from inside their site.

Edelweiss Tons of books. Some even hard-copy. Same with NetGalley a review is expected in exchange for the book.

If you want to get into reviewing books NetGalley and Edelweiss are excellent places to begin.

 

FreebookSifter   I like this site’s search feature which allows the user to search under genre, or author etc.

Free Books Blog – Lists mostly free Kindle books.

Project Gutenberg free audio books, some are narrated by people others an electronic generate voice. Site also offers up sheet music which is way cool.

eBooksRead – This site offers more than 3o0,000 ebooks, as well as classic texts, dictionaries, manuals, statistics and essays.

OverDrive Great site to link up to  eBooks from your local library or school. This also includes audio files and other media depending on your library system.  Using an App makes it easy too available on iTunes and Android.

Find PDF – This is a search engine that allows you to look for a title, genre, author, etc. etc. It is wicked cool.

Book Yards – This website boasts that it’s the library to the world. Not sure if it is, but I like websites that aspire to great things and in my opinion there are few things greater than libraries, let alone “world” libraries.

Goodreads – Goodreads is probably one of my favorite sites for connecting authors to readers, and people in general to books. They have a great selection of e-books a lot of which are free to download.

Feedbooks – Excellent selection of e-books but this link takes you to the free-domain ones.

best websites for free ebooks

 Please note: This post was originally posted on December 10, 2013. I update it as I find new places for free books.

A person who loves to read usually has a book (or books) they’re currently reading. I am no exception to this universal truth. Anyone who knows me even a little bit gets this, but stating the obvious with a t-shirt ensures perfect strangers understand too.

nicole olea i love to read tshirt

What is this self professed lover of books reading?

At the moment I’ve got a chewed up straw (revoked from my son-which makes for a convenient bookmark) sitting smack dab in the middle of A Breath of Snow and Ashes.

I discovered the Outlander series in 2011 and quickly binged on the first few novels, but soon began to feel “burnt-out” by the series. There is a lot to absorb: the history, going back in time part, violence, Gaelic, and multitude of characters and ambiance is wonderful – and I recommend this series to everyone. I simply got fatigued emotionally and physically – these books are big. I put it down knowing I’d return to it sooner or later. This time I also have companion e-versions for when lugging the books around aren’t an option or for late night reading in the dark.

Written In My Own Heart’s Blood the latest book in the series has been staring at me from my shelf for months. As I said… It was time.

Indeed it was time. Time to travel back hundreds of years and pick up where I left off.

Isn’t it wonderful how books can do that? Much like the stones in Outlander, they’re magical.

 

 

If you’re a fellow bibliophile in need of a shirt that tells the world your love books too, I picked up this t-shirt on Amazon.

This post contains affiliate links.

I like an eclectic desk. I tend to use items to store things like note cards or pens that weren’t necessarily designed for that purpose. I also want the items that sit on my desk for any length of time to be aesthetically pleasing to my eye. As a writer I have to sit at my desk a lot. Having cool things to look at I find helps to boost the creative in me. I also discovered when I get creative in other ways like crafting my overall creativity is given a boost (as if I needed a reason to craft.)

Personalized External Harddrive with Washi Tape Decorating with Washi tapeMy external hard drive was smooth and sleek but pretty boring until I decided to give it a makeover with some washi tape.

Washi tape is a great way to personalize your tech gear or even to remake home decor accessories or every day items like candles (see photo below), jars, boxes etc.

This of course isn’t the fist time I’ve spruced up my tech gear. I gave my MacBook a boost using a lap top cover and some decoupage, because I didn’t want to do anything physically to my actual laptop. You check out my DIY Decoupage Laptop Cover post to find out how.

Personalized External Harddrive with Washi Tape-3To create this personalized external hard drive I simply grabbed three types of coordinating washi tape and lined them up. I didn’t even use scissors as I knew I’d cover the torn edges – though it looked pretty cool that way too.

Personalized External Harddrive with Washi Tape-2 How intricate your design is will be totally up to you. The sky is the limit.

Personalized External Harddrive with Washi Tape-4