Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Why New Year's Eve Is One of My Favorite Days of the Year

Photo from Pexels.com

Christmas is winding down, and we are quickly approaching one of my favorite days of the year: New Year's Eve. As someone who is constantly analyzing herself and always trying to find ways to grow and be a better person, New Year's Eve is almost a sacred time for me. It's a time when I look back on the year, the highlights, the hard lessons, my relationships, my hobbies, my habits, my career, etc. And as I reflect, I pinpoint what plans, behaviors, and ways of thinking worked for me and what didn't. Being a goal-oriented person, I also really enjoy coming up with goals for the new year and writing them down on notebook paper.

I usually stay at home, although this year I'm toying with the idea of going out for a change. I'm also kind of quirky in that I feel like the movies and shows I watch on NYE, as well as the music I listen to and the books I read, have some sort of magical significance. Even the snacks I eat and the drinks I drink are carefully thought out. I often make home-made cheese-dip and then of course there's the obligatory champagne. I send my loved ones emails or texts, and many times they'll reply since they're staying up to ring in the new year as well, and I'll feel love and connection with them. I tend to remember all these details years later, and they remind me what frame of mind I was in at the time.

Even though this day is in essence, just another day of the year, it still feels sort of mystical to me - like the closing of another life chapter, and the spark of a fresh beginning filled with possibilities.

Although I haven't yet compiled my personal goal list for 2018, I'm starting to think about it because NYE is less than a week away. I of course have the typical weight-loss/better-health goals like most people do. I have some new writing goals, too. But one new thing that I'd like to apply to my daily life going into 2018 is to Appreciate More Than Complain.

It seems like whatever I focus on out of those two, I get more of. When I get into a bad habit of criticizing things, life somehow comes up with more things for me to criticize! It could be simply because I'm focused in that negative sort of way and because of that, I'm seeing more things that need complained about. But when I appreciate more, I all of a sudden start seeing more and more things in life to appreciate. I've gotten a good head start doing this the latter half of 2017, but I want it to really get into it as a daily way of life in 2018. I've noticed my days are just better days if I think in terms of appreciating rather than criticizing. I'm wondering if other people have had the same experience.

What about you? Do you have any new goals for the new year? Also, do you have any personal New Year's Eve traditions? Feel free to share in the comments!

And as always, I appreciate you for reading!



Monday, December 18, 2017

Godless: Diversity Done Right

It seems like books, TV, and movies these days are trying to promote more diversity in their stories, which is a very good thing. Unfortunately, many times the inclusion of diverse characters goes over like a led balloon because they are shallow and undeveloped. They come across more as "tokens" than as human beings we can relate to.

There is one new show, however, that I just watched, and it is doing diversity right. It doesn't tout itself as a diverse show, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it so diverse. It's a Western series on Netflix called Godless.

Now, obviously being a Western, one can imagine there will probably be Native Americans, and there are. And a couple of those characters are awesome. There are also African American characters that are a less typical of what you'd normally see in a lot of Westerns, which was cool. But what I found particularly surprising in a good way was the lesbian and bisexual characters.

These Les/Bi characters are not the main characters, but they are part of a very strong supporting cast. And their sexuality is done in such a way that they don't feel like tokens at all. It's truly part of who they are as people, not something that Hollywood sloppily painted on them for the sake of diversity. They aren't just thrown in there for titillating sex scenes either. These characters are strong, fascinating three-dimensional women. 

Another way Hollywood tries to do diversity these days is to make someone's sexuality ambiguous. Is she or isn't she? Is he or isn't he? Are they or are they not? Well, in Godless, it's sincere, and it's obvious, not subtle at all. You don't have to guess. These characters are who they are; it's clear, and they also totally own it and live it.

So if you don't mind some rated-R level Western violence, and you're looking for a diverse show, check out Godless on Netflix. It's a limited series, so it only has one season. I thought it was a really great story overall - and it has a satisfying ending! (My beef with Hollywood and their modern unsatisfying endings is something I'll save for another post!)

Have you found any shows or movies or books that have well-developed diverse characters and not just stereotypical token diverse characters? If so, share in the comments!


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Best Book Read in 2017

It's December (already!?), and one of the things I like to do at the end of the year is assess which book was the best book I read during the year.

I read every genre there is, and I also read both new books and old books, so always a fun surprise to look back and see which one out of the eclectic pile grabbed me the most. This year, I hands-down have to say it was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

Penguin published this novel in 2014, but the book saw a surge in popularity when HBO did a mini-series based on the story. I haven't seen the show yet, but I do know that it won several 2017 Primetime Emmy Awards. 

Have you ever noticed how a lot of the movies and shows that win awards are based on really good books? It's almost not fair to have a competition where a show based on book can go up against a show with an original script. Shows that are based on books already have excellent storylines, and judging from the popularity of a book, I'm sure that producers can guess the show/movie will also do well with audiences. Make it easy for everyone to succeed.

All that aside, this is a really good book. It's compulsively readable. It twists and turns and has some surprises. I recommend it to readers who enjoy fast-paced modern contemporary fiction that's both a mystery/thriller and deals with real-life issues.

This story touts itself as a mystery, but it's also portrait of domestic abuse, which normally I wouldn't be too jazzed to read about; however, the novel does such a good job at going into its characters' minds that I found myself both engrossed in the story and also feeling like I was taking a crash course in psychology.

What was the best book you read in 2017? Feel free to share in the comments!