Posts from the ‘Favorite Things Monday’ Category

It’s That Back To School Time Again!

So I suppose it’s time to rid the blog of cobwebs, and get back to my regularly established blogging schedule of new posts on Mondays and Saturdays.

This summer has brought a lot of news, and a lot of things that I would have written about had I found words for them, such as the murder of Cecil.

But, as it’s impossible to discuss all of what we’ve missed, here’s a bit of a round-up of things I’m loving to kick off the school year (our district goes back tomorrow):

Zoya Nail Polish I bought 6 colors a month or so ago, when they had a buy 3 colors, get 3 free promotion. I also bought their base and top coats, and their polish remover. So far, I’ve tried 5 of the 6 colors, and I’m impressed with all of them. The only color I haven’t tried is their black, which I plan to wear the entire month of October in honor of Halloween.

Barry’s Tea I always keep coffee and tea in my car, so that I can drink what I’m loving at the moment while I’m babysitting. I love Barry’s Tea. It’s strong, without being too bitter if I leave the tea bag in, which I usually do. I couldn’t find the box of tea in my car, and was very upset about it. Happily, I found it and now am back to sipping it happily when I’m not home. I’ve also had Barry’s Decaf, which is delightful.

Bewley’s Tea I’ve tried Bewley’s Dublin Morning, Irish Breakfast, and Irish Afternoon teas. These are teas that I predominantly drink at home, as the boxes have fallen apart as they’ve travelled with me. These are all strong, delicious, and I can go through all three teas in a day and feel entirely fulfilled and not at all bored.

Twinings Prince of Wales Tea I first had this tea last fall, and it’s so delightful. I don’t quite know how to describe this tea, but whenever I drink it, I feel very happy and satisfied, even if I’m not having a snack with it.

Worry Stones This link is to Irish Marble worry stones. I’ve recently made myself a couple of worry stone necklaces using Connemara marble, but as I am an anxious person by nature, compounded by having a very difficult run of things the last few years, I’m hoping that using worry stones will be a good and calming habit and strategy for me to manage my anxiety.

DuoLingo I’ve used DuoLingo for Italian and Irish, and I love how quickly this program allows you to learn sentences. I use MindSnacks to quiz things like vocabulary, but DuoLingo is a must for me for learning or maintaining a language. I bought a workbook that came with CDs for Irish, but thus far I’m having some problems with grammar, and word order… Basically I’m making the most ridiculous mistakes that it’s embarrassing, and no one but me knows the mistakes that I’m making. The best part about DuoLingo is that it’s free! I have the app on my phone and try to use it often.


Role Reboot

It occurred to me that I linked my essay “The Year I Was Diagnosed With Lupus” to here, but that I never actually told you the circumstances of how I started reading Role Reboot and why I was so interested in publishing with them (and have been interested in doing so for the last year).

I first discovered Role Reboot after I started reading Emily Rapp’s Little Seal Blog. I believe I found Little Seal after Taylor Swift released her song “Ronan” about a different Ronan. I loved Rapp’s writing, and so I googled her and found her first book, and then the essays that she has published with Role Reboot and other places, as well. I liked that Role Reboot didn’t shy away from the nitty gritty of life, because that is what life is for many people: situations that you wish were different but are powerless to change.

I like reading about people who have atypical experiences. In Star Trek, the Vulcans say, “Infinite diversity in infinite combination,” and I believe that to be true of people, though there are experiences that are universal, each person experiences things differently. Sometimes, media can be so monotonous that it feels as though the same things happen over and over and over. To find a place where people were writing about things I’d never experienced was an incredible joy.

My experiences of life have also been quite different. Most 24 year olds don’t undergo treatment for their third autoimmune disease. Most 24 year olds aren’t incapacitated by their symptoms. So a year ago, when I first wrote things that didn’t quite fit with my memoir on chronic illness, my first thought was that maybe they were things that could be adapted for publication by Role Reboot. Almost a year later, I had an essay, not one of the pieces I’d written a year earlier, but an essay that worked on the same themes as the pieces of a year ago, published by Role Reboot, and I was ecstatic. Chronic illness isn’t a subject that many journals will broach. It is depressing. It is difficult. It is fraught. And it is scary. But I didn’t think that that would be a problem in this case. I submitted to Role Reboot first, and told myself that they would reject it. But if they had rejected it, I had no idea where else to submit it with any hope of publication.

When I heard that Role Reboot had accepted my essay, then entitled ‘The Lupus Year’, I was ecstatic.

I am so happy to be back to feeling like a writer, and I am hopeful that this coming academic year will bring more essays published, and perhaps… Perhaps it will even bring a book deal (I HOPE).

Elephant Journal

I find a lot of literary magazines and online journals I never new existed because my friends are being published by them.

In the spring, a friend of mine from grad school posted a link to a piece she wrote that was published by Elephant Journal. I thought the name was cool, but didn’t know anything about them. She’s published more pieces with Elephant Journal since then, and about a month ago I became a member so that I could read as many of their pieces each day as I wanted. I also got stickers, which were quite a draw towards membership.

One thing that I really like about Elephant Journal is that it is a very open journal, writing about eco-friendly, green, wellness, and practices such as yoga. From their About Page: “The mindful life is about yoga, organics, sustainability, conscious consumerism, enlightened education, the contemplative arts, adventure, bicycling, family…everything. But mostly it’s about this present moment, right here, right now, and how we can best be of benefit, and have a good time doing so.” What a beautiful notion upon which to found a journal!

I don’t do yoga–I am way too clumsy, but enough of my friends do that I am not entirely lost in that world. I do eat organically as much as possible. I try to be conscious about my purchases, and to educate others. I grew up in a separate culture from my peers, even though we lived in the same communities at the same time. I think what I love about Elephant Journal is that it feels like home to so many different varieties of outsiders, and for writers, it seems to say, You are different, and we welcome you.

If you are able to support Elephant Journal (a readers’ membership is just $13 a year), I urge you to consider doing so. If you are not, I encourage you to give their articles a read from time to time. You never know when you will find an article that impacts your life!

Outback Steakhouse

Whenever we go to see my grandparents, we go out to eat. My family is highly motivated by food, and also seeing them while we’re all eating eliminates some of the awkward silences known to most families as we clumsily move from topic to topic.

Because of my celiac, I am incredibly limited in where I can eat safely, because a lot of restaurants have gluten free or allergen menus and allergen statements, but a lot of places have food that is rife with cross contamination. Because I am so sensitive to gluten, even the smallest amount of cross contamination can be a big problem for me, so this means that we generally go to the same few places over and over. But the issue with us going out isn’t only my celiac: my mom and sister are vegetarian, and my sister is a very picky eater.

One time when we were going to see my grandparents, we decided to go to Outback Steakhouse after discovering that they have a gluten free menu. We’ve been a few times since, and recently, we discovered that their dessert, Thunder From Down Under is gluten free. My sister ordered one and our waiter asked if we wanted 3 spoons, and I said no, and he said that it’s all gluten free, and that there are no regular flour brownies. We got three spoons. I had about 3 spoonfuls before I had to stop so the richness and wonderfulness of it didn’t make me sick. Any restaurant where I can get a steak and a lobster tail or a steak and shrimp is good with me, especially if I can also get a loaded baked potato or garlic mashed potatoes. And throwing the dessert into consideration means that Outback is basically my new favorite place.

And I have never gotten sick there. This is a huge win. My sister’s favorite restaurant for a long time was Applebee’s (it might still be). We go there from time to time, and I am not opposed to eating there, but it’s entirely hit or miss in terms of cross contamination, and my getting sick. We always tell them that I have a severe gluten problem, and please to make sure that nothing else touches my food, but flour is something that goes airborne remarkably well, plus if a chief puts a burger on a bun using his spatula and that spatula touches the bun and then touches my steak, it could be a problem for me.

When I was a kid, the Fosters beer commercial was my favorite. I like Australian accents, and some of the idioms that come out of the mouths of Aussies. I think they’re funny. While Applebee’s is more of a hometown bar and grill, Outback feels like more of a restaurant somehow, and the one closest to me is now serving Dr. Pepper, which has always been my favorite soda. (I am perpetually trying to remove soda from my diet, but sometimes it is the only thing that works, and I don’t believe in the complete depravation of something that you really like, because that isn’t healthy.) So that’s something else that Outback has going for it.

I can’t wait to go back to Outback (and also to eat my leftovers). If you have food restrictions, how do you cope with them when you go out to eat? What are your favorite places to eat?


A few weeks ago, I bought a Chiropractic Affirmations Calendar App. I’d found it maybe 2 months ago in the App Store, but didn’t have the money to buy it or the space on my iPhone for it. I’ve since bought it! And, though I’ve been having a problem with it posting to my Facebook, I love it.

Here is today’s:

june 8

Each day has a different picture and a different affirmation for the day, and there is a calendar where you can jump to a specific date. The months and days on this portion of the calendar are all vertebrae! I am a happy Chiropractic geek!

I’ve also been posting a lot of affirmations and Chiropractic things on my Instagram and Twitter recently, because I am hoping that moving forward, Chiropractic will be a big portion of my writing life.

If you’d like to check this calendar out for yourself, here is the link! If you want to learn more about Chiropractic or just talk about a Chiropractic experience you’ve had, leave me a comment!


I grew up in a house surrounded by music and by musicians. My mom is a classically trained flautist, my Godmother a Bel Canto soprano, her then-husband a pianist and organist, and my Godfather a violinist. My father loved music deeply, though he was not a musician.

I grew up listening to church music–my favorite band was Chanticleer, and I saw them in concert–and then I went to school and to camp and discovered The Spice Girls, NSYNC, and Backstreet Boys… As a child in the 90s does.

I am not musically talented, not that that stops me from singing along to most types of music. I love listening to lyrics, and I will listen to anything as long as the story it tells is a compelling one. As a teenager, I adored the music of singer-songwriters like Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton, and Avril Lavigne, who were all only a few years older than me and who played their own instruments and wrote their own lyrics. Because they were writing about their own experiences and observations about the world, their songs were more relevant to the lives of their listeners, and knowing that these three women in particular were successful because of the things they were writing were hugely inspirational to me.

I remember the words to their songs, even though I haven’t heard some of them in a long time, and to be honest, the records I listened to in middle and high school are still some of my favorite records to put on today.

Some of my major life experiences occurred while I was listening to these records, and their subsequent records have been the soundtracks to many eras of my life.

I love Taylor Swift’s music, and I cannot help but feel that her rise in the music industry would not have been so astronomical if not for this niche having been carved ten years earlier by the young girls with guitars and pianos writing their own music in their bedrooms.

I challenge you to put on one of your favorite records from middle school to see if it still speaks to you. I’ll do the same. Leave a comment with your experience and I’ll report back on mine, too!

The Power of The ‘Interwebs’

Last year, when I was undergoing treatment for lupus, I turned to the powers of the internet, because my treatment was largely uncovered by insurance.

One person donated and told me to pay it forward when I was able.

The internet has spawned some amazing things: crowdfunding for the creation of everything from music to films to books and likely many other things, as well. I have attended concerts from my couch because of the internet, and I have interacted with celebrities and authors on Twitter, which is amazing.

I recently attended a concert/q&a online. Tickets were purchased on a ‘give what you can’ scale, which I think is going to be the way of the future. In this particular venue, you also had the opportunity of buying a ticket for someone that was attending for free, and I was able to purchase tickets for a number of people that could not pay for their own tickets (tickets were in the $1-$5 range, and then you could leave tips), thereby paying some of the money contributed to my treatment forward. It may sound like it’s not an equivalency, but this concert was performed by an artist whose music got me through many a dark moment last year, and the few people that got in touch with me to thank me each told me that this same music helped them through their own dark times. To each, I told them, “Pay it forward.”

And how amazing that someplace that is considered to be so dark and terrible and anonymous might be a source of great change in the world?!