Author Archives: Katy

Taking a Break To Unplug

Isn’t it silly when someone announces all over their social media, or their blog, that they are going to take a break from social media or their blog?

Well…

I’m taking a break from social media and my blog for the time being. It’s nothing too dramatic, I’m just reprioritizing a few things in my life right now, focusing on some other things offline. It’s all good. I’m okay, my family is okay, all that. But these kind of breaks are really necessary and inevitable in the world we live in today. With pandemics and polar vortexes, not to mention the manmade drama of politics and social media, taking a step back and a big breath is a healthy thing to do.

So, without out being too dramatic, and with a little bit of self-awareness, I’m going to step back. It doesn’t mean I won’t be online or commenting every now and then on some platform, it just means I’m going to take a break from writing. In the meantime, stay safe, love one another, and I will talk to you later.

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach: A Review

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
My rating: 4 of 5 star

This book was recommended by a dietitian on Tiktok, which is probably not the last time Tiktok will be the source of a recommendation. I liked the idea of a holistic look to nutrition, that it requires both a healing of the mind and the body. And that was really what this book was about.

Basically, there are ten principles to follow (though they are not to be thought of as rules but more reminders). Principles like “Honor Your Hunger” and “Respect Your Body.” The introduction touched on the white supremacy and patriarchal influences that led to European standard of fat phobia.

It focuses the majority of the book on mental health and overcoming that instead of following some nutritional rules. It even has a chapter dedicated to eating disorders and another one dedicated to raising intuitive eaters. It was really helpful and encouraging to learn that nutritional health won’t get better until the relationship with food heals.

So if you are tired of diet culture and food police, and want another book that encourages body positivity and a healthy mental and physical lifestyles, this book is a must for your reference shelf. I know that it will be staying on mine.

There is no profanity, sexual content or violent content. There is a lot of discussion on physical attractiveness and eating disorders, so be aware of those triggers.

Fate: The Winx Saga: A Review

Fate: The Winx Saga created by Brian Young
My rating: of 5 stars

Apparently, this series is based on an animated series from Nickelodeon, but in a much darker context. The basic premise is that fairies exist. Our world is called The First World, and the place where much of the story takes place is in The Otherworld. In The Otherworld, there are seven realms, and all of them send their best and brightest to the private school at Alfea.

Bloom, our main character, is from California and doesn’t have magical parents. In fact, when her abilities appear, she has no idea what is going on. She is found by the headmistress of the school and brought to Alfea. She meets her roommates, all fairies with different abilities that affect the elements – water, earth, light, even an empath. There is the mystery of Bloom’s lineage and her connection with The Burned Ones, these creatures who are deadly and appeared around the same time that Bloom’s abilities appeared.

There is angst and teenage drama, wistful romances and dark secrets. Very much Vampire Diaries or The Secret Circle vibes. I like that the faculty of the school didn’t seem shady or mean, but genuinely care about the students and preparing them for the worst of circumstances. I think teen shows can miss the opportunity of adult mentors. Even Bloom’s mom, while probably a little intense at times, truly cares about Bloom in a really authentic way.

I know that not a lot of people have liked this series, especially ones who are familiar with the animated series or the books, but I haven’t seen anything so far that would make it completely unwatchable. Like I said, it reminds me a lot of The Secret Circle which only got one season so that might not bode well for this show. It also has Vampire Diaries Vibes as well, which had many seasons, so it will all depend on the fan base. And the real question is, with the popularity of Bridgerton (which I will review soon), are we still in a fantasy-watching mood as a society? Either way, I enjoy the mystery and the magic. I don’t mind the teen angst, and I look forward to watching more episodes!

There is profanity. In the first episode, there is a shirtless boy and a clothed girl in bed. Some chaste kissing, sexual innuendo, but nothing graphic. Violent content includes a mutilated body that has been burned, fight training, and choking by vine, but nothing explicit, and you don’t see anyone actually being attacked, just the aftermath.

Charity: Hope Mommies

The final organization I want to talk about this month is about something that is very close to my heart. If you haven’t been reading this blog very long, mainly for my book or film/tv reviews, you may not know that I am a loss mom. Before I had my kid, I was pregnant three different times. I had one miscarriage and two stillbirths before my rainbow baby.

After my first stillbirth, the hospital presented me with a shoebox filled with sweet encouraging notes, a candle, some lotion, and a sweet letter from another loss mom. That is the main mission of Hope Mommies, to provide support to mothers and families experiencing infant loss.

Speaking specifically about the Dallas chapter, they have a private Facebook groups, meet for dinner about once a month in various parts of DFW, and come together (before COVID, mainly) to put together shoeboxes of support like the one I received at my stillbirth (I actually received another one at my second stillbirth as well. I have been blessed to be able to be a part of some of these gatherings that put together the shoeboxes, knowing how much it meant to me, personally.

And, they usually host an event in October (which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month) to remember the precious little ones. Sometimes it is a walk, sometimes a balloon release, sometimes it’s just a small service to remember. Plus, they host Bible studies using devotional books that were written by other Hope Mommies.

1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss at some point in their lifetime. To have organizations like Hope Mommies, a community of women who support each other in their faith in Christ, is necessary. I hope to continue supporting others and walking with them in their journey just as these beautiful women have walked with me.

For more information about this organization, you can visit their website here.

Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Review

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
My rating: 4 of 5 star

This was the Life’s Library community book choice at the end of 2020. It is classic from the 1930s by Zora Neale Hurston. It is thought to be feminist literature because the main character is presented as a strong female character.

The story follows a woman named Janie. Raised by her grandmother who was a former slave, Janie was the product of a probable rape, which leads her mother to want very little to do with her. Janie grows up and marries the man who her grandmother sets her up to marry, but the marriage doesn’t last long. She gets married another two times in her life, and this book follows her life throughout those marriages.

People around her like to put her in boxes that she doesn’t quite fit into. While at first, she tries hard to meet the expectations of others, she eventually learns to trust herself and find contentment in the choices she makes, no longer caring about what other people may think. It is empowering, but also heartbreaking, as near the end of the book, she has to make very hard decisions that bring sad consequences. But her resilience through everything is beautiful.

This book wasn’t what I expected. Most of the classics I know are flowery in their descriptions, but Hurston really focuses on dialect, conversation, and moves the plot forward this way. This would definitely be a good audiobook to listen to (I actually listened to parts of this book instead of reading it completely). The story is meant to be read out loud. Very entertaining and definitely recommend.

There is a profanity in the book. Sexual content includes mentions of rape and kissing. Violence includes mentions of rape, whippings, there is a gun involved in a skirmish that ends up pointing in Janie’s face, and there are deaths and descriptions of dead bodies being buried after a hurricane.

Tiger: A Review

Tiger directed by Matthew Hamachek and Matthew Heineman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This intriguing, fascinating, and heartbreaking two-part documentary is on HBOMax right now, and it is a definite recommend.

Tiger Woods was a big name in sports when I was in high school. I remember all the commercials he was in, and I remember the scandal of his infidelity to his wife. But, as with all stories, there is more that what we see in the tabloids and on the screen.

The first part of this film covers Wood’s childhood. His strict upbringing with his father and mother who provided and prompted him with all the necessary tools to nurture his natural talent at golf. His childhood and adolescent years were not typical. His father was convinced he was going to be the next greatest social changer of his generation, right up there with Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. What incredible pressure to place on the shoulders of a kid.

The second part of the film covers his fall from grace. The trips to Las Vegas. The many girlfriends and mistresses, in particular they interview Rachel Uchitel. The role models who he grew up around who were not faithful to their own wives, including his own father. The way that the tabloids, the sponsors, the fans, even his own family used him for their own agendas, never really allowing him to find out who he really was. His entire identity was wrapped in golf.

And when his performance started to decline, so did he. When everything came out in the open, and he fell hard, it was just so hard to watch. But even though his upbringing was hard, his father really did love him. So does his mother. And as he finally comes into who he now is, you can see him finally enjoying life in a healthy way. At least, I hope so. I hope he has found happiness and contentment in his life after so many hard years.

This was a conviction to me about parenting, about being a good, kind friend, about caring for the people around you beyond whatever agenda you have. It’s about authenticity. And it ends on such a hopeful note. Even if you aren’t into sports at all, this is a good one to watch.

There is profanity. No sex scenes, but sex is discussed, primarily by his mistress and the tabloids. His dad’s friend hints at it as well. Violence includes beatings and navy seal training, the car accident he is involved in, and a tape of a DUI arrest.

Charity: SPCA of Texas

Throughout my entire life, I have had a connection with dogs, particularly rescue dogs. My first pets were rescues. My current pets are rescues. And before I had my kid, I was pretty involved at one of the local rescue animal sites, called the SPCA of Texas.

Of course, the organization is a little different from when I volunteered, especially after COVID, but I will share my experience with the organization and some of the exciting ways to get involved as well.

I started volunteering in 2015. I was started on basic cleaning duty – washing laundry and cleaning empty cages. But I moved on pretty quickly to walking the dogs who were in the adoption kennels. Eventually, I started fostering dogs in my home, and then began working with families who came in to adopt, matching them with dogs who were ready to be adopted.

There was no doubt in my mind that everyone who worked or volunteered at this place loved animals. And there were so many departments. There was the front-end who primarily worked with adoptions. The vet clinic that would see mainly dogs who were adopted from there but also some from the community. The behavior department that worked with dogs who need some kind of training or rehabilitation. There was even a farm section at the facility where I volunteered that housed horses, sometimes goats or donkeys. And there is what I call the “Rescue Team” who go on calls to investigate possible animal cruelty or neglect, or try to help owners who may have gotten overwhelmed in the care of their animals.

I gravitated towards the behavior department. The staff behaviorists would train us to work with all kinds of situations, but my favorite were the undersocialized, overstressed dogs. Seeing a dog come out of its shell, looking for comfort and connection was the most rewarding feeling for me. And finding homes for these newly rehabilitated dogs was a close second. I fostered 11 dogs in the two years I volunteered, and all of them found forever homes. I almost adopted my first foster, but I’m glad that I didn’t (though I think of that sweet pup all the time) because I wouldn’t have had the room or energy to work with the other 10 dogs.

My first foster. Wasn’t she a doll?

My favorite thing about this organization (other than the fact that I can play with dogs and call it volunteering) is that they really support their volunteers. We were given opportunities for training, education seminars, and some staff would even take the time to answer questions and problem solve with me. I was a part of the team, and that really made the difference.

And even though the traditional volunteering is still being put on hold, as far as I know, the SPCA of Texas is still working hard for the welfare of animals. I know the fostering program is still running (I still get all the emails from that group), and I know that the staff is still working hard to care for animals ready to be adopted. I look forward to the day I can return to the facility and volunteer in whatever capacity I can.

If you are interested in more information about this organization, you can visit spca.org. Also, they are doing a virtual Strutt Your Mutt event in May to raise awareness and funds to fight animal cruelty. You can sign up for that here.

The Fifth Season: A Review

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 4 of 5 star

Last year, in 2020, N.K. Jemisin showed up on my radar with her book “The City We Became” which was a big hit among some of the readers I follow online. But before I read that book, I wanted to read something off of her backlist first. So, this is why I picked up The Fifth Season trilogy.

I’ve only read the first book, but so far I am hooked. To be honest, I wasn’t quite hooked until after 100 pages. There is a bit of a learning curve with this book. It is a science fiction that is based in geology and seismology. The world keeps have these cataclysmic events that set everyone back to a more primitive time. If they prepare for it well enough, then they or their children might survive the dark years when the dust from volcanos cover the entire earth.

Not only does it have a vocabulary learning curve, but it’s a book that throws its reader into the middle of the story. There are different types of people in this world. Stills, who are just normal, every day people. Orogenes (or the derogatory name Rogga) who can create, quell, or monitor the earth’s movements and volcanos by using the energy and heat around them. This makes them dangerous to stills because that energy and heat could come from them, leaving them dead. Finally, we have the Guardians, a strange group of people who care for, train, and monitor the Orogenes.

The story follows three women (whose connection is revealed toward the end of the book). Damaya is a young girl whose powers have gotten the attention of the Fulcrum (a training facility for Orogenes). When a child shows orogene abilities, there is fear in the community. Some parents or community members can kill the child, though they are encouraged to contact the Fulcrum and have the child removed and trained. Damaya’s point of view is one who is new to the Fulcrum and to training.

Syenite is an orogene Fulcrum member who has been attached to a mentor, Alabaster. Not only does Alabaster continue her training, but they are also supposed to breed together. It really exemplifies the animal type treatment that these people receive.

Finally, Essun (her story is written in the second person which was jarring at first since each chapter basically changed POV) is a middle aged woman who is an orogene but hides her abilities. She lives in a small town with her husband and two kids. Her kids are both orogenes, but she hides that fact as well, until one day she comes home to find her son murdered and her husband and daughter disappeared. She knows that her husband killed her son and kidnapped her daughter, possibly not knowing that her daughter was also an orogene, which means she is in danger. Essun sets out on a quest to find her daughter.

It touches on dehumanization in a hierarchal society, something that evolved over time through each of the cataclysmic events (called seasons). In addition to all of the story and character development, there is also the mystery of these huge obelisks in the sky and the stone eaters, something that will probably be revealed and discussed in the following two books.

The book is excellent. There was no real information dump. The reader is just dropped into the middle of everything and must patiently pay attention to the details in order to catch up. But it is well worth it. Looking forward to the next books.

There is a profanity in the book. Sex is used for the purpose of breeding, especially among orogenes, further dehumanizing them. There are some hints to child abuse. Also there are multiple sex scenes, some described in detail, but I wouldn’t say they were steamy. There is also a lot of death. The son of Essun is very young when he is killed. There are stabbings, death by losing the heat in your body, mentions of cannibalism and turning to stone. This book is heartbreaking. I originally thought it was YA, but after reading it, it definitely felt more of an adult genre book.

Canvas: A Review

Canvas directed by Frank E. Abney III
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a nine minute short film on Netflix about love and loss and art. It is beautifully illustrated and for all ages.

None of the characters have names, but it opens with a 2-D animation of a painter in front of his canvas, painting the perspective of a woman sitting against a tree. But as she turns around, the painter wakes up in a 3-D animated world. He is alone. His granddaughter comes to visit. She is a little of an artist herself and sets out to create her own drawings while visiting him. But she comes across a place that has been shut off, and once she opens that door, it gives the painter an renewed opportunity to open his heart once again.

It’s gorgeous and sweet. It’s emotional, and the music adds to that emotion. Highly recommend this precious little film for everyone and anyone who enjoys a story of love, loss, and finding love once again.

No profanity. One chaste kiss. There is a death implied, but there is nothing too heavy in this short film.

Charity: Alzheimer’s Association

As I wrote about last week, this month I am sharing some of my favorite nonprofit organizations that I have had a personal connection to. Since this is the month of love, I thought talking about the charities I loved fit into this month perfectly.

We have been participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease since 2010. I saw a commercial while watching a show on Hulu which is how I found out about this organization. My father-in-law had, at that point, been diagnosed with dementia and I knew from my own family experience the long road ahead for my husband. I thought getting involved in an event like this over the years could give him some support and encouragement to know that he wasn’t alone in his experience.

Our first Walk experience

But the Alzheimer’s Association is more than just a walk on a (hopefully) sunny day in the fall. They provide information and support for families and caretakers walking this journey with their loved ones. They lobby government officials for policy and budget lines dedicated to finding both treatment and a cure for this disease.

They host other events throughout the year that provide people with education, even entertainment. One year, they hosted a viewing of Still Alice, a film based on the 2007 novel by Lisa Genova, about a linguistics professor who contracts the disease and how she and her family journey through her inevitable decline. It included a small Q&A at the end of the movie by the organization about new policies and research happening at that time.

But, for the most part, the biggest event for us is the Walk. We have been all over the DFW metroplex for the Walks over the years. Last year, because of COVID, we did a virtual walk, using the app created by the Alzheimer’s Association that included testimonies at different points in the walk and other information and encouragement. It was a creative way to make last year special despite having to be apart.

This year, we are planning on continuing the tradition of participating in the Walk. We will be fundraising more as we get closer to the end of the year and building our team in the meantime. We are so thankful for this organization who has provided such encouragement and support for our family as well as many other families in our community.

If you are interested in participating in the walk this year or getting involved with this organization, please visit them at alz.org.