I’m Reading A Book.

I’m reading a book.

Yes…I know.

How cerebral of me.

In the past year of self discovery, one of the changes I made was to read more often. In the second half of last year, I read twelve books, or so. When the new year began, I saw @JackiYo post a hashtag on Twitter that sparked my interest. I asked her what #26in2011 is and she explained it as an initiative to read 26 books during the year 2011. The tag was started by @davefleet last year when he used #26in2010. However, it was actually inspired by @julien‘s idea for a book-a-week.

What a great way for me to keep up with my reading, I thought. You see, I’m what I like to think of as a “passive-aggressive competitor”. I am competitive, but only when it’s not really an official competition. I have always felt that people are much more likely to succeed when the pressure of winning isn’t hanging over their heads. For me, it tends to be a contest with myself to excel. Then if I perform better than others, it’s an added bonus. And when I surpass everyone…well, sometimes it gets ugly.

But, I digress…

I’m currently on book #4, A Wrinkle In Time. Since joining Twitter, I have somehow connected with a large number of Young Adult (YA) readers and writers. Before Twitter, it hadn’t occurred to me to pick up a YA novel as reading material. I’m 33. I’m not a “young adult” no matter how whimsically I wish for it to be true. After seeing so many others that read YA material, I was soon reminiscing about all the books I devoured as a child. A Wrinkle In Time is in my top five favorites. So, I put down my uncertainty and picked up a book I loved to find out how it would affect me today.

Even though I had read this book so many times in my youth, its pages washed over me with a newness like the first time I read it. I remember how dearly I identified with Meg. Her awkwardness. Her insecurity. Her ability to keep everyone at arms length, yet the need to pull them all so close. The intangible connection with her brother shows her protective nature. Then an unexpected love interest gave away her vulnerable side. I remember the wide-eyed awe with which I absorbed the crosshatching of science and fantasy in the story. It was everything my tender soul needed at that age. And now, it’s able to unearth all those memories that  I hadn’t realized had been buried so deep.

Because of this book, my choice of reading material has now broadened extensively. While I love to be right, having my opinions proven wrong through my own experiences never ceases to renew my spirit. As I continue to read this year, I can now include an entire genre I had thought I had left behind me. So, thank you to all of the YA readers and writers that have opened my eyes. I thank you. My creativity and imagination thanks you.

And the 10 year old Christine Marie thanks you, too.

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10 Things I Learned on Twitter in 2010

I’d say, for me, this has been the year of the Twitter.  I discovered it when I started blogging and thought it would be great to help my writing.  Which it has, in wonderful ways that I would have never thought.  However, I’ve also learned a few interesting commonalities about people from some of the amazing folks I follow.

1.)  No one likes to wear pants.

It’s true!  There’s tags like #nopants and #pantsoff to prove it.  Apparently the restriction is just too much for people to take at the end of the day.  Quite frankly, I’m glad to see it’s nothing to be ashamed of. 

2.)  EVERYONE likes bacon.

I’m sure there’s plenty of foods that are big favorites, but the love of bacon has got to be the purest.  And I am certainly included in that group.  Greasy and limp, or burnt to a crisp, it doesn’t matter…it’s all heaven.

3.)  You never need to feel alone when there’s a hashtag for everything.

There are loads of popular hashtags on Twitter.  Friday nights you can join #wineparty.  All day Friday you can post what you’re reading with a #FridayReads tag.  If you’re writing any time of day, use #amwriting.  If you have great advice for writers, post it with #writingtips.  When I post my blog from All About Momsense, I use #mommyblogger.  If there’s a need, a hashtag will fill it.

4.)  Celebrities are normal people.  Mostly.

I have chatted with Scott Grimes (ER, Band of Brothers) and Kellie Martin (Life Goes On, ER, Christy) and they are two of lots of fantastic people that answer back and tweet about every day life.  They help you remember that they are just like us and want to enjoy life with their families and friends and get through the day.  Whether talking about amazing homemade recipes or being plain silly, they really are just like you and me.

5.)  All ridiculous occurrences should be shared with photos.

Did you just see a complete stranger with the worst hair ever?  Tweet it.  Have you found a store that has a completely innocent sign that reads like a dirty joke.  You need to share that.   New shoes?  Going out and need someone to check your outfit?  Share it, get the feedback, feel redeemed. 

6.)  Everyone’s children are out of hand.

Kids pooping in hallways, screaming about candy, feeding the household pets table food…it’s all there.  It’s not a result of bad parenting.  It’s a result of life.  When everyone says your kids are angels, so well behaved, Twitter knows the truth.  They are bad, and they are wonderful.  We know every hair pulling, heartstring tugging moment.  Good and bad, it’s all there in 140 characters.

7.)  News travels fastest on Twitter.

If someone dies, thousands of people are informed in seconds.  If a child is missing, everyone soon has a copy of a face to look for.  If someone is missing, Twitter is looking for them.  It only takes a few moments for information to spread.  The domino effect of tweet after tweet being passed should be record breaking. 

8.)  Outdated sayings are welcome…even encouraged.  Or create your own!

I haven’t used “word” as an affirmation since I was in middle school.  Suddenly, it’s everywhere.  Things like “awesomesauce” and “for realz” are probably my personal favorites.  Acronyms are a requirement, as well, with only 140 per tweet.  OMG, BTW, IDK, IKR, IRL…the list is endless. 

9.)  Even professionals can be goofy. 

Sure, some people are here for the social media marketing benefits.  Having Facebook, Twitter and blogs all contribute to spreading your name around and gathering an audience.  But sometimes, it helps to share a bit of your personal side to show you aren’t a robot.  An offhand comment can be like loosening your tie at the office party.  Relax, enjoy. 

10.)  Twitter cares.

There is an incredible support system within the Twitter-folk.  If someone is sad, others will encourage him.  If someone needs help, we look for suggestions.  We talk, we listen, we make each other laugh.  We send each other food and drinks.  There is a heartfelt connection that we create with each other. 

It may seem immature to some, but Twitter has built an increasing web of friends, colleagues and confidants that I never thought I would have.  I’ve become close with people hundreds of miles away.  And for as much as I try to learn about each and every one of them, I hope they know that their friendship is something I truly treasure.

The Need for a #DailyGiggle

If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that every day I post a #DailyGiggle.  Most days it is either a silly photo or video from various sites.  The only requirement I have for choosing one is that it has to make me laugh out loud.  Whether hysterical laughter, or just a little chuckle, it has to initiate a reaction from me.  And for videos, I try to keep it under five minutes in the interest of people at work who might be checking it out.  I pick a new item every day and usually put in some time searching.  If I’m lucky, something that I recall that has made me laugh in the past pops into my head and I just go find it.

Who is reading these tweets?  Let’s do the math.  I have less than 300 followers  and I’m pretty sure that about 100 of them are bots, businesses or people that don’t even read my tweets.  Still, that leaves about 100 or so that might read them.  Even if only half of those people see the #DailyGiggle, that could be 50 people that I have made laugh.  To me, that is an extremely successful day. 

Why do I post these tweets?  I’ve come to find that if you make it a point to get some laughter each day, you can make a difference in the way stress affects you.  Being happy doesn’t just come naturally.  You have to help it, nurture it and encourage it to be able to keep it.  It may seem like hard work, but you’ll find that when it comes to making yourself happy, it doesn’t feel like work. 

Still not convinced?  Let me list a few of the health benefits of laughter for you:

  • Relieves physical tension
  • Decreases stress hormones
  • Increases immune cells & infection fighting antibodies
  • Improves blood vessel function & increases blood flow
  • Decreases pain
  • Eases anxiety
  • Increases energy

The list goes on and on.  A good laugh may give you temporary benefit, but when you are laughing regularly you could see some real long term advantages.  The improved blood vessel function and better blood flow can protect you from heart attack.  Relieving anxiety can help you avoid stress related illnesses such as anxiety attacks and stomach ulcers.  Taking care of your body can be difficult for people on the go.  We don’t always eat right and exercise.  However, it’s still important to do what you can to keep your health in check.  Better health means less trips to the doctor.  That means less doctor bills to pay and one less stress to worry about. 

I’ve been on quite a journey in this past year and the most important lesson I’m learning is that happiness is easy to come by when you are looking for it.  And with this lesson, I hope the spread around the joy a little.  I feel like if I can be this happy, more people should feel this way, too.  So, if you’re on Twitter, look for me and my #DailyGiggle hashtag.  For those of you that follow me already, I hope you enjoy the giggles.  And for those of you that retweet them, thanks for spreading around a few laughs!

Whether you are or aren’t on Twitter, please, do what you can to get some laughs every single  day.  The more you laugh, the more you’ll see what a difference it can make. 😀

What Have I Done?

It’s happened.  I have finally succumbed to the peer pressure and set up a Facebook page.  What have I done?  I am already regretting my decision.  I am a Twitter addict, tried and true.  I like the anonymity and the brevity of it all.  I actually receive useful writing information on Twitter.  There’s something to be said for that.  I’ve learned quite a bit about writers, rules and tricks of the trade.  That was my goal from the beginning. 

But now…now I’m looking at a page of gobbledy gooked comments all over the place.  There’s no organization.  There’s random updates of which I have no idea what they are.  I like order!  I would look at one person’s page and find they know someone else I might know so I keep going from page to page saying “I know this one!” and “Hey, I havent seen her in forever!”  What have I done?  I don’t want to open this door.  I don’t want to invite a flood of people I haven’t talked to in ages to chit chat about stuff I don’t care about.

Am I selfish?  Am I conceited?  Maybe I’ve turned into a hermit?  I’m not sure, but I feel like I’ve opened Pandora’s box with this stupid page and I just want to shut it.  I want to fill it full of concrete and lock it up tight and drop it to the bottom of the nearest river.  Is it too late to turn back?  I am really trying to convince myself that this was a good idea, but I can’t do it.  There is one person that I haven’t talked to in ages that I have been dying to talk to.  Maybe I can just send her my email address and then shut it all down.  I’ll shut it down and pretend like it never happened.  That sounds good, right?  No one will ever know? 

Right?

RIGHT?!?!

Crap…how did I get 24 friends already?

My Twitter Addiction

I’m not quite sure how it happened.  I thought I would join to connect with some writers and find out what advice or information I could find that might help me with my writing.  First, it was a few tweets here and there.  Then it quickly became so much more.  With every passing day I am tweeting more, reading more tweets, retweeting, finding tweeps to follow.  It’s like I’ve suddenly fallen down the rabbit hole and now I’m chasing a blue bird to find out what is next. 

I have spent quite a bit of time on my home computer these past few weeks.  Time well spent looking into writing opportunities and job options.  However, because I am at the computer for so long, it gives me ample time to toggle back and forth between two windows, one, of course, occupied with a Twitter screen. 

As I sit and ponder how this addiction became so rampant, it was easy to see why.  I started with a purpose and when I found so many interesting people to follow, it spread like a shockwave to other topics.  I began following bloggers, celebrities, and sometimes even random people for no reason other than the fact that they might make me laugh.  There are also many resources to follow like news, charities, and even accounts that provide Green information. 

So, what does it all mean?  What purpose does it serve?  Well, for someone like me, who spends most of her day at home with the kids, it’s an incredibly easy way to reach out to people in a way that I never could before.  I can socialize in a whole new way without having to worry about the annoying “what do you do?” small talk.  I can find out the latest news and ways to contribute to charities.  I connect with people all over that I never would have had the chance to meet in person.  Incredible people that are thoughtful, funny and appreciative of the lives they lead.  These are the types of people that I always want to surround myself with, but can’t find at the local Target while I’m too busy shopping anyway.  If I like what they have to say, I follow them; if not, I unfollow.  It’s that simple.  There’s no getting-to-know-you interference.  If you want to know someone, read their tweets.  There’s no break up awkwardness.  When you no longer enjoy their rants or care what they are eating for breakfast, you push one button and ties are severed.  It is “Friendships for Dummies” in a whole new light.

Thank you, Twitter, for providing me with the easiest way ever to find, meet and converse with people I actually want to talk to.  Now if I could only find an “unfollow” button for some of the people I meet face to face.