Posted in community, current-events, Family, friendship, Health, mental-health, Parenting, Teen

In Real Life Connection vs. Engagement

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work, writing, and running. It’s treadmill season at the Orchard household and I did something to my back the other day when I was running. It hasn’t gotten any better, and I fear I’m going to have to go to the doctor and get it checked out. It has been four days and it hasn’t gotten back to normal. Ugh.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about staying connected. With social media we can connect any time for any reason, but is it a true connection? I don’t think so, there’s nothing like taking the time to sit down with family and friends and spending good quality time with them.

The social media platforms, be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, main intent is to keep you engaged. Behind the scenes, they analyze your likes and comments to learn what your interests are so they can plant more of those interests in your feeds. This keeps you on their site longer, and it appears like you’re connecting with friends and family, but in reality, it’s more about keeping you engaged than connecting with people.

Don’t get me wrong I love social media because it allows me to stay in touch with friends in other states and countries, but it doesn’t take the place of a true connection with your family and friends right here.

Just the other day, I had brunch with some friends and then we spent the afternoon painting together. It was an In Real Life Connection. One in which, I’m learning how to paint, and I must say Bob Ross is right, there are no mistakes just happy little accidents. 😉 But I digress, the point I’m trying to make is we need in person connection now more than ever. If we lose the ability to read social cues and body language, we’re going to set the human race back to the caveman era.

Evidence suggests there is a correlation between the rise in suicide rates and the rise of social media. We have more access to more information than we’ve ever had. That means we have access to chat rooms and forums that are pro-suicide. Our kids have access to these forums. So, if you’re dealing with a child with some mental health issues and they find their way to one of these forums, it could be trouble.

Cyber-bullying has led to suicides as well, especially among the younger crowd. Social media has become an avenue for that also. So, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a connection with your loved ones. We can never truly know what’s going on in someone’s mind unless we watch for the signs.

But that’s not where I want to go with this. I digress again. Sorry. What I want to say is that maybe Social Media is the symptom, and the real disease is lack of connection or disconnection.

I believe that if it’s not the sole cause, it’s a big part of it. So, keep the communication open with your family and friends. Stay connected. Make sure your kids learn how to make an emotional connection with their friends, so they won’t feel isolated.

So how do we stay connected with so many distractions?

  1. Engage in a common interest like hiking or biking or robotics
  2. Have family night where you play a card game or board game
  3. Watch a movie together once a week
  4. Take a family vacation

These are just a few ideas. There are many ways to make connections with your family. How do you connect with yours? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal, Writing

My One Little Word

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy with work and writing this week. I’ve started another WIP and I’m enjoying this one too. It’s the first month of the new year and I’m looking forward for 2022. The air crackles with excitement because I feel some changes are coming. I’m thinking they’ll be some good changes. My fingers are crossed, and time will tell.

But enough about that. Today, I want to talk about my one little word. At the beginning of the new year, I choose a word that resonates with me. Last year, I chose Persevere. I wanted to persevere in my writing journey, and I’ve done that I’ve finished two of my stories this last year and I’ve started a third this month.

So, my word for this year is “Resilience.”

Resilience is the capacity to recover from difficulties quickly.

Over the past couple of years, everyone’s had to become more resilient because of the pandemic. With the threat of potential illness, the shortage of workers, and shortages in the grocery store, we’ve all had to make adjustments in our lives. Some of us have had to start working from home and dealing with technological issues that we otherwise wouldn’t have had to deal with.

Learning to make these adjustments, builds resilience. Right now, we need to strengthen our resilience muscle more than ever. Especially in a competitive publishing market where things are changing also, but they’re changing in a good way. Because of Covid, readership has increased by 21%. That’s huge, and what’s nice about that is the biggest portion of that readership is the target market for my latest story. So, things are looking up. 😊

These are the reasons I chose resilience as my word for 2022. I feel if I strengthen my resilience, I’ll get to the finish line. But how do we strengthen our resilience? How do we toughen up?

Recently, I went through kind of a bootcamp on strengthening resilience for work and I’m applying the concepts in other areas of my life. This is what I’ve learned.

  1.  Face your fears. Feel the fear and do it any way.
  2. Use Positive Affirmations
  3. Change your negative self-talk to positive self-talk
  4. Don’t beat yourself up when something doesn’t go as planned. Learn from it.
  5. Change the script. When something bad happens don’t relive it over and over. Change the script so you learn from the experience.

These five steps will help you build resilience. I know easier said than done, but it will be worth it. Trust me. How about you? Do you have a Word for 2022? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal

RIP Betty White

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. This is my first post of the new year and I’m excited about 2022. I’m hoping for some exciting things to happen this year. 2021 was not the best year. One of my most beloved actresses died.

Yes, Betty White passed away on December 31, 2021. I don’t usually get attached to celebrities because I know I will most likely never meet them, but I grew up with Betty White on The Mary Tyler Moore show. That’s when I was first introduced to her. I loved that show, and when I go back, and watch clips it’s still funny. She had her act together and I loved her humor. I continued to admire her as I grew. She always had a snappy comeback and nothing seemed to get her down.

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In her later years, she also starred on The Golden Girls. I didn’t watch that show as diligently as the first one, but her humor and comedic timing did not fail her there either. I loved watching her give speeches. Her one liners were hilarious and she had a way of delivering them without losing her composure. She was one of the best.

I admire her for her audacity to be herself especially in an industry that only values youth. She was still a hot commodity at ninety-nine. What other actress can say that about themselves? Very few, that’s for sure. She is one of the greats and many people mourn the loss of her.

She was not only a great comedian/actress. She inspired people. She inspires me. Watching her succeed makes me realize that we all have that potential. We just need to stick to it and get it done. There will always be obstacles. I imagine Betty White ran into obstacles during her life, but they certainly didn’t hold her back.

I saw a meme on Facebook that stated: “In a world of Karens be a Betty.”  Doesn’t that just say it all?

So, here’s to Betty White. I raise my glass to you. Thank you for your humor and thank you for inspiring me. You were a class act and you will long be remembered.

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Posted in Holiday Posts, Personal

Favorite Christmas Movies

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work and Christmas shopping. We finally got our tree up a couple nights ago and I’m definitely feeling the Christmas spirit.  Right now, I’m sitting in front of a warm fire watching “Love Actually.” My favorite Christmas movie of all time.

So, because it’s the Christmas season, I thought I’d make a list of my favorite Christmas movies. In case, you need to snuggle up with a good movie to relieve some holiday stress. So, without further ado, here they are.

“Love Actually”

“Die Hard”

“The Polar Express”

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

A Christmas Carol”

Enjoy this last week before the holiday. I hope it’s stress free and you’re making amazing memories. Thank you to all my followers and friends I appreciate your support. Have a safe and Happy Holiday Season.

Posted in books, Personal, reviews

What I’ve been Reading

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you.  I’m back today after a week of work and writing. I’ve finished editing my second story, so now I have two WIPs under my belt. I still need to make revisions, but I’m taking a step back and noodling what and how I want to make changes. I’ve also started my Christmas shopping, so I don’t anticipate getting a lot of writing done during this time, but I have a new idea that I’m going to start outlining soon. 😊

But enough about that. After the seriousness of last week’s post, I’ve decided to do a fun post for this week. So, I’d like to share what I’ve been reading. I’ve got two thrillers I’ve finished, and I thought I’d share them with you in case you have some time over the holidays to relax and dive into a book. So, without further ado, here they are:

“We were Never Here”

We Were Never Here: A Novel by [Andrea Bartz]

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK • “This book is every suspense lover’s dream and it kept me up way too late turning pages. . . . A novel with crazy twists and turns that will have you ditching your Friday night plans for more chapters.”—Reese Witherspoon

A backpacking trip has deadly consequences in this “eerie psychological thriller . . . with alluring locales, Hitchcockian tension, and possibly the best pair of female leads since Thelma and Louise” (BookPage), from the bestselling author of The Lost Night and The Herd.

Marie Claire Book Club Pick • Named One of the Best Books of the Year by NPR and Marie Claire

Emily is having the time of her life—she’s in the mountains of Chile with her best friend, Kristen, on their annual reunion trip, and the women are feeling closer than ever. But on the last night of the trip, Emily enters their hotel suite to find blood and broken glass on the floor. Kristen says the cute backpacker she brought back to their room attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Even more shocking: The scene is horrifyingly similar to last year’s trip, when another backpacker wound up dead. Emily can’t believe it’s happened again—can lightning really strike twice?

Back home in Wisconsin, Emily struggles to bury her trauma, diving headfirst into a new relationship and throwing herself into work. But when Kristen shows up for a surprise visit, Emily is forced to confront their violent past. The more Kristen tries to keep Emily close, the more Emily questions her motives. As Emily feels the walls closing in on their cover-ups, she must reckon with the truth about her closest friend. Can Emily outrun the secrets she shares with Kristen, or will they destroy her relationship, her freedom—even her life?

My Thoughts:

This is a great story about toxic friendship with an incredible twist at the end. The characters are likable in the beginning and the author brilliantly weaves the threads of insanity, so the reader has an “aha” moment. The suspense builds and it was hard to put the book down. This story does not disappoint.

“The Wife Upstairs”

The Wife Upstairs: A Novel by [Rachel Hawkins]

Instant New York Times and USA Today Bestseller

“Compulsively readable…a gothic thriller laced with arsenic.” ––EW

One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2021: CNN• Newsweek • Vulture • PopSugar • Parade • BuzzFeed • E!Online • TimeOut • Woman’s Day • Goodreads • She Reads • Good Housekeeping • CrimeReads • Frolic • Hello! • Mystery and Suspense

January 2021 Indie Next Pick and #1 LibraryReads Pick

A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

My Thoughts:

This story was recommended to me by a friend, and it did not disappoint. It’s another thriller with a great twist at the end. Excellent character building that keeps you turning the page to find out the truth of what really happened. Another great read on a snowy night.  

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! How about you, are you reading any great books this snowy, holiday season? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!