RSS Feed

Begin Again

Posted on
Begin Again

Do you ever find a movie, or a book, or a TV show, something that catches you in just the right moment?  Speaks to your current mood?  Makes you smile?  Makes you happy?

The movie, Begin Again was that movie for me this weekend.

I went to see it without knowing much about it except that it had Keira Knightley (who is Elizabeth Bennet in one of my favorites, Pride&Prejudice) and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner in the Avengers, but also lovable Matt in 13 Going on 30).  I knew it was about music, but that was about it.  I went in with no real expectations.

I really enjoyed the movie.  I had a friend post on Facebook a brief review that said it started out kinda angsty – and I would agree.  It starts out establishing where the characters are at in their lives when they meet. Neither is in a good place.  The story really gets going when they meet and begin to work together.

I’ve seen the movie billed as a romantic comedy. I wouldn’t say it’s a romantic comedy.  This is not a story of two characters coming together to fall in love with each other.  No, these characters come together for a different partnership.  It’s really about discovering themselves again and changing the direction of their lives.

Ruffalo’s Dan is floundering professionally and in his family life.  He has lost control of his music development and production company and is estranged from his wife and daughter, living in a sad little apartment alone.

Knightley’s Gretta is a singer/songwriter who came to New York, “tagging along” with her emerging artist boyfriend and is essentially lost in the shuffle as he takes off into his new rock star life.

Dan has previously shown talent for finding new artists and helping to develop, nurture and market them.  He sees Gretta’s potential and wants to work with her.  The movie centers on that partnership.

What is so fun, so joyful about this movie is that they both are at a point where they can have a ‘Well Why The Hell Not?’ attitude and can take chances. 

Why not try this crazy idea of recording this album together?  Why not challenge what’s conventionally done? Why not bring in artists that might not otherwise be used?  Why not take a chance on ourselves and others?

The heart of the movie, where it really sings, is where they are recording the demo all around New York.  Everyone seems to be having fun with it.  Dan comes to life again during the process and the joy is infectious. I don’t know about the others in the audience but I was having fun along the way, too.

I also enjoyed the interactions between the characters, especially our main characters, but also all of the many in the great cast of characters.

Dan’s relationship with his daughter, Violet, played by Hailee Steinfield, starts out awkwardly, but then builds as the movie goes on and you find yourself cheering for him to mend that relationship and really be a dad for her.  His wife, played by Catherine Keener, doesn’t get nearly enough screen time because she’s fantastic.

Gretta’s boyfriend, Dave, played by Adam Levine is believable, if a little unlikeable. You can see the star quality, the performer on the stage, but despite his real life wattage, I
mainly just hated his beard.  :)

The character I absolutely love in this movie is Gretta’s friend, Steve (James Corden) from back home that she finds in the city. He seemed like the kind of friend we all would love to have.  He sees her in a moment of heartbreak and literally drops what he is doing to hold her.  He comforts her, but he laughs with her, too.  He pushes her when she needs it and supports her through it all. I just loved him.

What really spoke to me in this sweet little movie was the theme of beginning again.

It’s never too lateto begin again. It’s never too late – with your career, with love, with your family, with your friendships, with your life. It’s never too late to find joy.  It’s never too late to dare to try something different.  It’s never too late to imagine that your life can be different.

20140721-001149-709839.jpg

Still

Posted on

I apologize for missing my post last week. I was on a wonderful 10 days off from work and I kinda let everything slide. But I am back to work tomorrow, so here is my back on track weekly blog post.

Despite having time off, I have stalled quite a bit finishing my biggest project by playing around with a lot of little ones. I have stuck to my commitment to write every day, but I frequently write in a rather directionless manner. I’ve decided I will need to alter my goal and will be more specific in the next 365 challenge. But, one fun bit about allowing myself such a great deal of freedom as to what I write is that I’ve played around a lot with poetry.

Tonight I thought I’d share one with you and thank you for checking in with me. Have a great week.

Still
-CJ Schwartz

Together they stood still
Wrapped in his arms, she shook
From the pain of the news.

People moved about all around
Talking of their day
Or what their night would bring.

A shopkeeper swept the sidewalk
Outside the door across from
Where they silently stood.

A child played in the water
Of the fountain down the way-
Ignoring his parents’ demands.

The sun beat down on their skin
No air moved, only the brush of
His kiss on her brow registered.

Pain of her loss burrowed deep
But only he could bring her round
And reach her in the stillness.

Who Moved My Cheese

Posted on

What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid

 

My department at work was challenged this week to read the great little book, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson.   Chances are you’ve seen this or read it.  I’ve read it before, but read it again as part of the challenge.  If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s a short parable of 4 characters in a maze and how they react when their cheese moves.  The cheese is metaphorical for whatever we may be pursuing, money, success, happiness, etc.  The cheese moving represents change.  How do we deal with change, both before and after it happens.  The author uses the story to highlight lessons we can apply to our own life.

One of the comments the writer makes is that what we get out of the story changes depending on what may be going on in our own lives, so each reading will most likely be seen from the perspective of our current situation. 

I am in the process of changing jobs, in the same company and essentially in the same department, but there will quite a bit of new changes.  My cheese is definitely moving.  I read this story with my situation in mind.  I thought of which characters I was most like, and also about some of the people I know and which character they are most like.  One character sniffs out cheese – always looking for change.  One character scurries after new cheese – actively deals with change.  One character hems about, resistant to change.  The last character is resistant at first but then learns to laugh about how change is inevitable and then sees himself getting to the new cheese he needs and makes it happen. 

After the story, there’s a section of the book that creates a little fictionalized discussion where people who had heard the story applied it to their own lives.  I seem to remember last time I read this that I skipped this section for the most part as it does seem a litle forced.  I read it all through this time and there was one part that really stood out to me. 

The fictionalized conversation has the 6 or 7 people talking about whether they are afraid of change.  Most say no, they’re not afraid of change, but one of the people reframes the question, “So tell me do you think other people may be afraid of change?” and they all say yes.  This section spoke to me this time because it is always comforting to think about how we are not alone.  Sure I am making a big change at work, moving away from cheese that was working out okay, but I am stepping out into the maze in search of new cheese.  It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who may be afraid of change.  And as the author points out, the result of change is not necessarily anything to be afraid of and may even lead to something that makes us happier than we realized previously was possible. 

For my situation I also thought about how great it would be to be the character who ventures out in the maze first, leaving behind a path of suggestions for the character who resisted change and stayed behind.  I like the idea of being someone who ventures out in a new direction and may possibly set an example for others to take a risk and make a change, too, instead of being the character who ties him/herself to what may be a bad situation just because it’s comfortable or the idea of change is too scary. 

I’ll remind myself of this when I get scared or have moments of struggle with my “new cheese” and like Haw, the character who ventures out into the maze for new cheese, I’ll visualize myself being successful. 

I hope everyone has a great week – see y’all next Sunday when I will be on vacation – Yay!  :)

Pure Imagination

Posted on

I recently overheard my oldest son singing the song, Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  He didn’t know much of the lyrics so we went to that glorious resource for research, YouTube, and found this clip of the original Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder, singing Pure Imagination in the movie.  How great is that song?

Come with me
and you’ll see
a world of pure imagination…

One of the great things about being a writer is you can’t lose that connection with worlds of imagination, and they are usually worlds we create. But even if those worlds are largely our own creation, we draw inspiration from the world around us.  

I went to the really spectacular Perot Museum this weekend with my husband and three boys as part of a really cool event my husband’s company hosted for employees.  We had the whole museum to ourselves from 7pm-11pm Saturday night.  No crowds, no lines, no rush.  Can I just tell you what a great way to experience this very hands on museum that was? It was especially so for my little boys, who I had initially told to be polite and not touch things. Funny thing is that this museum of science has much that is very hands on, so then it became, “Okay, you can touch everything!”

I saw this great quote on one of the walls of the museum:

20140615-224318-81798011.jpg

I loved this quote because I think it captures beautifully the way we are called to see things. Maybe what we see isn’t pretty, but harsh as the quote mentions, but still, all we need to stir us from the everyday is out there. All around, there is so much to spark our imagination and our creative selves.

If we allow ourselves to look.

To see.

To hear.

And to imagine.

What speaks to you to spark your imagination? Where do you go to let your imagination run free? Drop me a line in the comments – I’d love to hear.

Top 10 Ways Having a Writing Goal Has Helped Me

Posted on

I’m over halfway through my year long commitment to write daily.  365 days of writing every day was the goal I set for myself at the end of 2013 and here we are in June already! Halfway seems like a great place to throw in an update and a rundown on why I’m glad I made the commitment.

1)  Setting a goal and sticking with it feels good

I know I can’t be the only one who has ever said “I should do…” whatever it is and then just not followed through with it.  I have a couple of other things right now that I talk about doing but am not actually taking any action to do.  But I’ve set this writing goal, I’ve shared this writing goal and because of that I feel good about doing something that I’ve said I wanted to do.  Because … well, see # 2 

2) I would have quit already

If I didn’t have this writing goal there are more than a few nights I absolutely would not have written anything.  I would have said, I’m too busy, too tired, or whatever other excuse I could find.  And I have been tired, busy and otherwise disinclined to write.  But it’s important to me that I follow through with this goal, so I have.  Have I written something really short or counted my blog when I was doing the A to Z Challenge when blog post were not originally in my plan? Absolutely.  But I have written every day.  Something.  Even if it was small and frequently when it was bad.  But I haven’t quit.

3)  This goal has helped lead me to other new & exciting things

Because of my writing goal, I’ve started building this blog and my Twitter presence.  I’ve found many cool new people and groups and resources as a result.  I likely would not have started blogging had I not made this a part of my writing goal.  I’ve really enjoyed the process of writing and also reading other blogs I’ve found because of my own.  I love that I am building an archive of previous posts that I can go back to read or point others to sometimes.  Because of the writing goal and establishing the blog I joined Twitter (and ok because I wanted a certain celeb’s Tweets) to promote my blog and start building connections.  It’s been a fascinating process both blogging and Tweeting.  And I love it!

4)  It’s a great conversation starter with others, writers or otherwise

Meeting new writers on Twitter or in real life, I usually mention this writing goal.  I’ve found it’s been a great way to start talking about what I’m working on, but also just about my journey as a writer.  I’ve been surprised how many others have had similar goals.  Some blog every day in addition to their other writing.  I’ve not made that commitment yet, but that may be part of my next 365 day goal!  We’ll see. :)

5) Word count

Of course writing every day has helped add to my word count on my novel, which has brought me almost to the end of the first book – though I am still tweaking.  I need to stop and just edit.  I’m getting close.  But I’ve also started the next book in the series and I’ve worked on a few short stories as well.  Had I not made a commitment to write every day, my current WIP would still be sitting on my computer untouched.  Instead I’ve made serious progress.  It’s fantastic.

6) Experimenting with style

Some days I do not feel like writing on the novel or the short story.  So to stick with the required daily writing, I’ve written quite a few poems. Let me just assure that is not at all my normal style.  But I love it.  I have a couple that I’d even say are relatively decent.  And the others are still an example of me stretching myself and trying something new.  I’ve also played with a few other formats such as flash fiction and an attempt at a humorous essay.  I’m going to write every day anyway, so I feel a bit more freedom to try new things. 

7) Distraction from “real life”

Some days my day to day “real life” of working full time, a long commute, managing the kids and trying to keep a house running gets a bit … crazy.  It’s truly wonderful to have this writing commitment because I have a creative outlet that helps my sometimes weary soul.  Yes, my job may beat me down one day, but I can remind myself that I am not just my job, I’m also writing! The kids may get a little loud and we may be watching another episode of really awful kids television, but I am not just a parent, I’m also writing! I may have just had an overall bad day, but I am also writing. 

8) Helping define myself as a writer

And guess what?  I am a writer.  I am not just another person who wants to write someday.  I am writing.  I can call myself that, not because I am a bestselling author, but because I am doing the work of actually sitting down at the computer, butt in chair, to write.  Actually, sometimes I even write on my iPhone (hey it happens, you gotta do what you gotta do to get in the writing sometimes!)  I both can say I am a writer and I can tell people what I write.  Small steps sometimes can be big ones!

9) If I can do this, why can’t I also …

As I said before I’ve been known to talk about making changes and not always make them, but I can see how I’ve successfully stuck to something after having made it a solid goal with a serious commitment.  I’ve started to look for how to apply this in other areas I need some “stick with it”.  Little successes can lead to other little successes.   

10)  It’s fun

It really is fun.  There is a reason I’ve always wanted to write.  I love it.  And the sheer pleasure of writing and having written is well worth setting this goal. 

 

Versatile Blogger

Posted on

20140528-233718.jpg

First I have to say I am sorry for missing my regularly scheduled post day last Sunday. I was able to have a date night with my husband at the last minute whilst writing my blog post and I just dropped my blog and went out for a kid free night. It was fantastic, but I was sorry I missed and will do my best not to skip for so long again.

This post however is to first thank the person who nominated me for this blogger award and then to share the love and nominate fellow bloggers who are all really awesome and well worth checking out!

Big thanks to the Reckless Romantic for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger award. To accept this award ( which I am late in accepting – apologies again ) I agree to:

1) Link to the person who nominated me
2) list 10 other bloggers to receive the award
3) link to their sites
4) let them know they were nominated
5) tell 7 things about myself

7 Things to Know About Me

1) I am working on my first book in a planned series. It’s Paranormal Romance and the first draft is almost finished!

2) I have a great love for reading – all genres and recently have even added poetry into the mix. Read my A to Z Challenge posts about my love of reading and recent love for poetry.

3) Music and movies are also great loves and help keep me sane. See my 30 Seconds to Mars, Outro or Mumford and Sons posts for music.  Though all of these fit into the A to Z, 30 Seconds to Mars is a new favorite band – top 5 all time I think for me! For movies check out my Playing by Heart or Zoolander posts.

4) I love to travel, though I don’t get to do nearly enough now as a happily married full-time working mother of 3 crazy & wonderful young boys (ages 8, 6 & 6 – yes, you read that right, I am a mom of identical twin boys. All 3 of my sons are fantastic fun). Read my post on Scotland travel for an example of travel love.

5) I am a hopeless Fangirl. Check out my ode to Fangirling. My primary Fangirl love is for Tom Hiddleston & can be found throughout my posts, but you can read also about my Fangirl love for Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Sherlock and Game of Thrones.

6) I challenged myself to write everyday for a year back in the end of December 2013. Read my first post about getting started or what I learned early on writing every day. I am at over 150 days now and the challenge has been fantastic!

7) I love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment and tell me something about you! Go check out the other bloggers and Reckless Romantic who referred me and comment on their blogs. Bloggers supporting bloggers is a beautiful thing.

Bloggers I recommend:

1). Lunatic Lover and Poet

2.) Tea and Knee Socks

3.) Wordsplash

4.) Celine JeanJean

5.) Larry Atchley Jr.

6.) Robyn LaRue

7.) Gwynn Rogers

8) Tina DC Hayes

9) A Writer Inspired

10) Cheryl Wright

The Fault In Our Stars

Posted on

20140517-234150.jpg

As seems usual for me, I am a bit late to this party, but now that I am here, I love it! :) John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is, as you have no doubt heard and/or seen, being made into a movie. I was tempted to wait until after I saw the movie to read the book because I have the tendency to play the “That’s not how it was in the book!” game and I was afraid I might do that with this one. But I really wanted to read the book because I have seen so many great reviews. I bought the book at a local grocery store with a gift card I’d been given. Why buy food with a gift card when there are books? :). I got a trade paperback with the original cover, not the movie cover, because I am funny like that. :)

Then I was busy with family in town and other things and only this week did I finally get around to reading it. It took no time to love it. Sadly my life does not easily accomodate reading a book the whole way through anymore, but I did stay up late reading a few nights and finished it yesterday.

Cleaning, who needs to clean? Laundry? It’ll still be there. Kids fighting? Sorry guys, I gotta see what happens to Hazel and Augustus. Mommy, are you crying? Yes, yes I am.

Green does so many things right with this book, and as a writer who is always looking to improve her craft, I had to admire his story and all the little details. I cried several times and not just in the BIG moments. I laughed a lot too, cared for the characters, and could see it all so clearly.

I purposely did not watch this trailer until I had read the book so there would be no spoiling the book for me. Now that I have read the book I am super stoked to see that the movie looks like it will be really great, too.

Since I did not want any spoilers I will carefully avoid giving any. I do want to share with you one of the things that really spoke to me that is not tied into something that would be considered a spoiler. Feel free to comment and we can chat about the book as much as you want though. Because there are so many good things.

Hazel has a book she loves in this story. A book she had read again and again. A book that spoke to her and her experience. A book that meant something to her and then to Augustus as well. Of course as a reader I can identify with having a book that you love like this. But because of some things that happen in the story, I really caught a glimpse into the power of being the author (or creator of anything really) that touches people. What we write has the power to move people. Maybe it is simple entertainment, and that is great. Maybe we just take them out of whatever else is going on in the world for a moment. Maybe we make them laugh. Maybe we make them smile.

Maybe we can change their life.

As Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben reminded him, “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. Reading this book helped me see the power and the responsibility.

As I work on things I am writing, I will remember. And even if all I ever write that gets read is this blog, even this can be important to someone. Maybe not monumental (ok probably not monumental ;) ) but even small things can make a difference.

And we may never know the difference we make.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

We Are Not Alone

Claire Casewell

Books, Blogs & Other Mayhem

For the Love of ...

the journeys of a writer, reader and wanna be foodie...

Eye-Dancers

A site devoted to the Young Adult sci-fi/fantasy novel The Eye-Dancers

The Moving Circus

The sounds in my head.....

Photos by me

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Anna Bayes

Writer of Erotic Romances for the Fiercely Loyal

Part Time Monster

Nerd. Girl. Monster(s)

avneetoberoi

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Strahbary's Fields

A California Girl's Place for all things Geek Chic

Shelli Rosewarne

Author of paranormal romance and fantasy

No Page Left Blank

Tracey Lynn Tobin's Blog

Goddess of Healing

The Blog of a Goddess

Alex Hurst

A Fantasy Writer in Kyoto

Writing, Life, and an Itch to Explore

The Life and Times of Teej

Indie Hero

Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller

belindagbuchanan

One Author's thoughts

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 117 other followers