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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Stuck.

I'm stuck.

Last week I was in sponsored post mode. This week and then some? Nada. Nothing.

I've got the emotions. I've got the anxieties. I've got the thoughts but I just don't have the words.

I've watched a few recent episodes of Glee lately and cried every.single.time. I'm about to catch up on the New York episode and then I have last night's episode and I'll be caught up.

Why is it that emotional for me to watch these damned episodes?

I can blame it on PMS. It would be easy to.

But I think it's a combination of real life emotions and "TV" related emotions all smushed up together.

I watched The Quarterback on October 11th. I cried like a baby throughout the entire episode. The characters mourned Finn and sang songs like If I Die Young and Seasons of Love. And I'll Stand By You. And I bawled my eyes out. And then I downloaded the soundtrack and cried some more.

And then less than an hour later I cried for real.

My father had died.

I can't say those words.

I say passed away.

I feel like I'm going to be sick even WRITING them.

Passover starts next week. Passover. Without my father.

Impossible.

Even all these years of me living in NC I've observed Passover to the best I could - explaining the difficulties to my father. Skyping through Seder. Raising my own glass of wine. Texting him pictures of tiny, flavorless matzo balls. Tzimmes with syrupy something. And no pineapple. I made matzo brie and called him that morning to find out how much sugar to put in it.

"Da, I'm making matzo brie."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

He'd laugh. Smile. I'd feel it even when I couldn't see it.

One year my parents brought a suitcase full of Passover here for the holiday. We laughed. It was seriously so heavy you couldn't lift it. But he did.

And he made me a matzo brie in my crappy pan. Until I remembered the wok I'd never used. So he tried that. But then he made me a matzo brie with bananas.

"Are there bananas in this?" He nodded. Smiled. Almost proud. I nodded back. And then he remembered. I don't eat bananas anymore. Oops.

I laughed. It's okay. We'll make another one.

* I'll stand by you. Won't let nobody hurt you. I'll stand by you. *

Always, Daddy. I'll always have you by me. And I'll always carry you with me.

And this holiday is going to be so damned rough. Just like any others before and after. Because you're not here. You're not here and it's just not fair.

But what can we do?

Passover will come and go. And then Mother's Day. Father's Day. My mom's birthday. My brother's anniversary. My dad's birthday. My brother's. And then mine again. Without him.

We'll reach the year mark. We're more than halfway there. How is that even possible?

* But I always thought that I'd see you again. *

Won't I? Still?

G-d, I hope so, Pops. Because I need to. Somehow. Somewhere. I just do.

I love you.


* I'm linking up with Pour Your Heart Out today over at Things I Can't Say. *

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sing into Spring #Giveaway with #Disney Records!

* As an influencer of The Entertainment New Media Network I received these CDs to facilitate my review of them and was not compensated for this post in any way. Walt Disney Records will be providing both, a gift set of the four CDs I received along with a 4-pack of preschool CDs to two winners picked by me randomly. All expressed opinions are strictly my own (and that of my 7yo daughter!). There are affiliate links throughout this post. *

It's time to SING INTO SPRING with Walt Disney Records!!!

Join me today as I invite you to learn about the four CDs I received to review for you all. Take a look!


My daughter and I have been bopping around my kitchen to the soundtrack of Teen Beach Movie all morning. It helps that she has seen the movie a good handful of times and we have it on our DVR as I write this. I'm pretty sure we'll be watching it again tonight now that she's motivated into the mood with the music in the background of our day.


Our second CD in this gift-pack is Disney's Play It Loud. With music by Zendaya (of Shake It Up), Debby Ryan (Jessie) and China Anne McClain (ANT Farm), your kids are going to love this. Seriously. It might be on repeat wayyyy too many times - but hey, at least it's kid-friendly lyrics, right?


We've also got a copy of Austin and Ally: Turn it Up for you. With thirteen songs the cast kicks it up a notch and I have to admit, the music is pretty catchy. It's the kind you find yourself singing along with after a while and forget it's a "kids' CD" ... for a little while, at least.


And then of course, let's talk FROZEN.


I mean, what is there to say? If you haven't seen the movie yet - well - you really must. But if you haven't heard any of the songs yet, I must ask you - where have you been hiding?

This CD is one of the top selling CDs right now. The music won an Academy Award for goodness' sake. Or maybe two. Who knows? But really - if you and your kids don't know pretty much every song by heart you need to enter this giveaway. STAT.

I'm also lucky enough to give away the Preschool Sing into Spring 4-pack to one lucky reader. This bundle consists of the Doc McStuffins Soundtrack, Jake and the Neverland Pirates - Yo Ho Matey CD, DJ Shuffle (which I kind of want for myself because it's got a mix of Sofia the First, Jake, Doc, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and more) and last, but never least, FROZEN.

YES. This means that BOTH winners will be receiving a copy of the FROZEN soundtrack. What more could you want?

Click through my Rafflecopter below and find yourself a way to enter. I promise to make it as easy as possible for you.

And if you want to purchase any of these CDs on your own, I've got the links throughout the post for you to go shopping. Happy listening!

a Rafflecopter giveaway * As an influencer of The Entertainment New Media Network I received these CDs to facilitate my review of them and was not compensated for this post in any way. Walt Disney Records will be providing both, a gift set of the four CDs I received along with a 4-pack of preschool CDs to two winners picked by me randomly. All expressed opinions are strictly my own (and that of my 7yo daughter!). There are affiliate links throughout this post. *

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'm trying to stay in the Zone.

* I received a variety of ZonePerfect bars as a participant in this challenge. I am not being compensated for this post and all expressed opinions are completely my own. *

If you have been reading me for a while you know that I struggle left and right with fitness, motivation and inspiration. You also might have seen that I started participating in the Blog Forward Challenge with ZonePerfect earlier this year.

Admittedly, I struggled through much of March with some traveling and some illness and then with the weather in the earlier months, sigh, excuses excuses. I'm getting back on track and I went for a really long walk the other day with a friend and am finally feeling like moving matters again.

I set some goals back in January. I set them again now, in April. I have lost some weight, and that's great. I'm back to tracking myself on MyFitnessPal and I find that it's helping. But I really need to do more. I need to bust out the sweats and find myself moving regularly. I need to consciously uncouple myself from emotional eating. *Come on, I HAD to.*

I need to remind myself that I have a Fitbit zip I could wear regularly and count all the steps I take every single day. Or I could turn around and get myself one to wear on my wrist so I can feel like I'm more motivated and more involved in my own health. More aware. Whatever it takes.

I was in Disney World last weekend for Type-A Parent Bootcamp and I walked A LOT. I felt really good about that. I ate a lot, too, but I could have done a lot worse. I actually didn't feel bloated or swollen or anything I usually experience when I fly. So I'm thinking the walking was a huge help. I even brought my Brooks kicks and wore them throughout Magic Kingdom on Saturday night. So I wasn't messing around.

And a huge bonus was that these ZonePerfect bars arrived before I left! So I was able to bring a bag of them with me and find a new favorite.


The Chocolate Almond Raisin bar is AMAZING. Seriously. I need to find a box of them and fast. I'm hoping I stumble across them soon. And if you want, you can sign up to be a ZonePerfect VIP and grab yourself about $10 worth in coupons (which will be emailed to you over the course of the coming year) for your own shopping experience.

ZonePerfect is also hoping to keep me charged in other ways throughout the coming months. They've sent me a portable phone charger, along with one to give away to one of my readers. So leave me a comment below with a flavor of ZonePerfect bar that you'd like to try and you'll be entered to win.

And if you're looking to swap out your sweetened beverages for something a little healthier, check out this graphic for more tips. I've started off by either completely eliminating sweet tea from my intake, or at the very least if I really am itching for it I do a half-and-half and go half sweet and half unsweetened. Sometimes it takes baby steps, but whatever works will get me closer to my goal.


I hope you'll stick with me as I make my way through this challenge and that you'll keep me posted if you are doing healthier things for yourself, as well. Any tips we can share will be great ones, I'm sure. Looking forward to connecting with you and finding my fitspiration from you all.

* I received a variety of bars from ZonePerfect as a participant in this challenge. I also received a portable phone charger for myself and one to give away to a reader. I was not compensated in any way for this post and all expressed opinions are strictly my own. *

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Zachary Levi needs our help! #IwantmyNerdHQ


Okay, so take a look at the adorable Zachary Levi. He's a nerd like me. And you. 

Don't pretend you're not one. We all know that most bloggers are ... at least a little bit. *wink*

Oh, don't get huffy now. It's a compliment. I promise.

Now - let's talk NerdHQ.

NerdHQ is an event that Zac (we're that close, I can call him that - fine, we're not but I will anyway!) is working to get off the ground again this year. He is trying to raise funds, get sponsors, do all the things that are required for an extremely large and exciting event such as NerdHQ.

I won't do it justice, but I'm happy to help promote this event because ALL OF THE PROCEEDS from the actual event will go to Operation Smile. So while the event is free to anyone attending, there will be things for sale and whatnot, and those proceeds will go towards supporting this incredible organization. 

As stated on Zac's NerdHQ Indiegogo page:

"As always, One Hundred Percent (100%) of the money raised by panels, auction items, photos and signings will continue to be donated to Operation Smile."



Joss Whedon, Zachary Levi, and Nathan Fillion at Nerd HQ 2013

To find out more about NerdHQ you can watch this video:



Consider donating to help get NerdHQ off the ground by contributing at the Indiegogo NerdHQ page.

And if you want to spend a good hour or so with Zachary Levi? Check out him being extra adorable in this video below. He's got loads of info on NerdHQ and answers a bunch of questions about Chuck, himself, and pretty much whatever gets asked of him (he even tells someone he can't ask them to marry him - but soo soo cute anyway!).

And if you skip to about fifteen minutes in you'll hear him talk about Operation Smile, how NerdHQ is NOT a non-profit, but they absolutely whole-heartedly support one with all of their efforts.

It's worth a watch. At the very least you'll realize that he's not just a celeb. He's a normal guy. Normal. Open. Honest. Real. Raw. Just like you and me.

 

* This post is sponsored by the Entertainment New Media Network. I have not received any compensation for this post, but am participating as an ENMN influencer at this time. *

Friday, March 28, 2014

Shadows in the Sun, Gayathri Ramprasad ~ book review



If you know me at all you know how important mental health is to me. Not just personally, but also professionally. I knew that I needed to read this book as soon as the blurb about it showed up in my inbox. I knew that I would be drawn to the author and her story. I knew I'd need to hear her voice and learn firsthand what her life has been like.

Shadows in the Sun: Healing from Depression and Finding the Light Within is a tremendously powerful book. Gayathri Ramprasad opens her heart and shares her intense experience of life with depression.

Gayu (the nickname her family calls her) starts off writing about her youth. She sounds like a sweet, young girl who seems to be enjoying her family, her community and her culture. She shares intimate details of her relationships with her parents and her siblings. And then she shares her breaking point.

She finds out that she failed one of her college classes and becomes inconsolable.

The panic, emotion, physical pain and revulsion she experiences seems beyond words - and yet she finds the right ones to describe and define it all for us, her readers.

She is growing up in India and the doctors say there is nothing wrong with her.

Her parents do not understand what she is doing or why.

Her siblings stand by and watch, waiting for another collapse.

The mental angst she experiences has her physically ill. She loses weight. She cannot eat food, or keep down anything she does eat.

She cries frequently.

She is terrified. Her mind races in fear.

And during this bizarre period of her life she finds herself feeling alone. Her family tries - but they just do not understand.

She rights things for herself, eventually passing her course and finding some hope.

She gets married (arranged by her parents) to a gentle and supportive man named Ram. Shortly after they wed he has to return home to America while she waits impatiently for her green card. She finds a way to survive the day-to-day at his parents' home. She maintains minimal connections with her original family. She functions. Barely.

But she suffers.

And she suffers alone.

Her new family, she is terrified they will see what she is hiding. Her husband cannot know how very broken she is.

Gayu's life throughout just about the first half of this book is bumpy, but she seems to have found a way to make things right once she joins her husband in America. She adjusts to this new world, this new way of life. She and Ram start a family of their own.

And then her walls crumble around her.

She falls headfirst into postpartum depression.

It is not until Ramprasad returns home to India with her new baby that she finds a reason for all of this twisted medical history. She is finally diagnosed with clinical depression.

FINALLY.

There is so much more to her story. So much we watch her go through. So much someone like me can understand and relate to. I'm so relieved to see her finally receive a diagnosis. A name for what it is she experiences.

But I am so sad about all of her continued fears.

I won't detail everything here as I'm not that kind of a book reviewer. And also because her story is so detailed and important, it'd be better if you read it yourself.

But, as you can tell when you pick up a copy of the book, Gayathri Ramprasad is an incredible survivor. She is currently an advocate for mental health awareness across the globe. She has established her own nonprofit organization that promotes personal, organizational and community wellness. You can find out more about the organization over at myasha.org.

Gayu is a survivor. She's a prime example of what a diagnosis, support and understanding can provide for someone suffering from mental illness.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of depression or postpartum depression, please consider reaching out for help.

Some important resources available to you are listed below. Don't hesitate to take that step. You might just save a life.

Postpartum International

Band Back Together

Postpartum Progress

Jenny's Light

Hopeline (Kristin Brooks Hope Center)

SAVE: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

If you are experiencing waves of fear and anxiety that lead you to considering hurting yourself, please reach out immediately to suicide hotlines. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

* I was provided with a copy of this book by TLC Book Tours. All expressed opinions and experiences are completely my own, and all resources have been researched by and are strictly provided by me.  If you'd like to win a copy of this book leave me a comment to tell me why. *

To purchase your own copy, click below. *affiliate link*