Arizona Adventures!

Hey everyone!
Today’s post is at least 3 months overdue – sorry! I’ve been having some technical issues with iMovie that’s causing delays on my Vlogs so stay posted as there’s a lot to come!

This vlog is a little disjointed as you’re seeing what was meant to be part of an ongoing series about shenanigans to get into in Arizona because I was living there & attempting to get into shenanigans – followed immediately by footage of me moving back home.
If you’re confused about when I lived in Arizona, don’t worry – you’re not alone! I was going to film a big announcement & create several videos discussing the move, however, circumstances changed quickly & creating an ongoing series seemed pointless.
Long story short, I moved to Arizona in December 2015 for a new job in an attempt to expand my Resume, broaden my horizons by living in a new state, & live closer to several friends/family members, including my godchildren. Unfortunately, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer very shortly after that & I moved back to NorCal in July 2016 to help my family & spend time with her.

Please enjoy this small snippet of my time in Arizona featuring Danny from Savage Squad, click here to see their channel! Please FOLLOW MissAl-Leigh.com to stay updated with future shenanigans, SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel for more vlogs, SHARE, LIKE, & COMMMENT! Thank you 🙂

Beauty Deals 2.0

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Book Review! Douglass’ Women by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Okay, this is going to be the last Book Review for a bit – I was reading like crazy for a while but now I have to catch up on other topics!

Initial Thoughts:
“Douglass’ Women” is a random $1 Store find – believe it or not! It wasn’t on my Book List but it sounded intriguing and I thought, “For $1, why not?!”. I’m not up to date on all the history about Frederick Douglass, especially his family life, so I’m not sure how much of this is true or fictionalized.

Plot:
The story of famous abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, as told from the point of view of the two women he loved most – according to this story. One, his wife, a free woman of color, Anna Murray Douglass & the other, his lover, an educated white German woman named Ottilie Assing. They battle each other over the years & eventually come to the realization that Douglass is the problem. Unfortunately, they’re both too invested to turn away so they spend the rest of their lives longing for a man that cannot give either of them what they truly want & deserve. The story shows the different ways people deal with love, grief, infidelity, and how those emotions can help us find ourselves, or tear us down. Essentially, the typical story of a cheater & the people they hurt along the way.

Characters:
– In the beginning, Anna is a woman with almost nothing to offer, except what Frederick wants most – freedom. Initially he is attracted to her potential and the future they COULD have together. Like most dreams, to make it a reality you have to put in effort. He didn’t want to put in the effort to build a future with Anna, he was more focused on building his future in the political world. Anna saw a much different future. She saw babies and a love to grow old with, not politics and traveling the world. They didn’t know each other long enough before jumping into a commitment to know that they just weren’t compatible because they wanted very different things. Anna is an extremely strong woman. Anna’s desire to be with Frederick was misguided from the beginning, but she stays committed & tries to make the marriage successful. She manages to persevere and raise her children with grace & dignity, despite the many “sins” her husband commits against her.
– Ottilie is a woman who offers Frederick everything, a whole world of formal education, fancy parties, powerful people, and social change. They are more compatible on a social and intellectual level. However, Ottilie’s obsessive desire to be with Douglass in a romantic way is their undoing. She gives him too much. He tries to resist at first, but she persists and shows him he can have his cake & eat it too. Obviously they live in a time where divorce wasn’t much of an option so she had to have known all along that he could only be with her legally once Anna died. What a risky game! Unfortunately, that is often the case when a woman agrees to become “The Other Woman”. In the beginning Ottilie comes across as villainous. She makes everything a competition with Anna, in her mind & in conversations with Frederick. However, towards the end, you see she was just lonely, insecure, & also misguided. Although she honestly should have expected it, when Frederick eventually betrays her too, she loses all sense of reason. To a certain extent her reaction is understandable because she’s centered her life around him, but that’s why you can’t build a life focused on someone else. If, most likely when, they leave you, you have nothing left.
– Frederick is tough to analyze. He comes off as a very rude, selfish, conceited, mean spirited man, but you have to understand that he spent his youth being treated less than human by slave owners. Earning his freedom allows him to pursue (almost) anything he wants & he wants it all. How can you blame him? However, despite his circumstances, I still feel like he had an ugly heart. He was always so focused on himself, even in the bedroom! During the sex scenes, which were very uncomfortable to read, his “sexy talk” consists of, for example, “I’m no slave” & “I’m equal to any man”. Uhhhh okay, a romantic moment with a lady isn’t really the time for this kind of talk – at least in my opinion, but what do I know!? Based on his character as described in this story, I have no warm feelings for him, despite his accomplishments. I’m not sure if the author is doing a historical figure a disservice or if she did the research to find that he really was not a great person in regards to his personal life.

Quotes:
Pg 225: Anna, “When I was most angry, I reminded myself Freddy fathered my children”, Ottile, “When I was most lonely, words failed to comfort me. Ideas can never be children”.
I think these two quotes sum up a great deal about these characters. Anna was angry with the way Frederick treated her. She used her position as a mother to help her cope. She couldn’t give Frederick a beautiful, educated wife to impress his colleagues with, but she gave him a family. Ottilie, on the other hand, was defined by her loneliness, that’s why she started the affair to begin with! While she could give Frederick the lifestyle Anna couldn’t, she couldn’t give him a family to continue on his legacy. That’s the draw of the two women. They both offered something completely different, a “special skill set”, that Frederick wanted.

Overall:
A sad story of two strong, educated in their own way, extremely different women that found themselves struck down in the name of love. This story shows the paths that love can lead us down & how they aren’t always as romantic as we envision them to be.

Rating: B
I enjoyed this book, although the sex was a little much for me. I guess you won’t find me reading “50 Shades…” anytime soon, haha! The reason for the B rating is simply because I wasn’t over the moon about this book. It was good, but not something I need to read again.

Have you read “Douglass’ Women”? If so, what are your thoughts? Did you find it enjoyable? I also recently reviewed “The Duchess” by Amanda Foreman – another book based on women in history, although that one was written as a Thesis so it’s more historically accurate. Do you have any book suggestions for me? Please let me know in the comments below!

Book Review! The Happiness Project – January/February/March!

Click here to purchase The Happiness Project!


Hey all!
I’ve had this book on my To Read list for a long time & decided January 2015 was the perfect time to start a Self Actualization/Self Help book, ya know, “New Year, New You”. That turned out to be the best decision because the author, Gretchen Rubin, created The Happiness Project as a year long project. Each chapter is a reflection of goals she set for herself & how she spent the month working towards them. Rubin was a Supreme Court clerk, but decided to leave law to become a writer. The Happiness Project consists of her personal values and research she conducted on the subject of Happiness.

I connected with Rubin almost immediately because she talks about something that I often struggle with, waiting to start projects until her life is in just the right place. I have a tendency to do the same thing, as evidenced by the way I waited precisely until January 1st to start this year long project. Rubin ends up deciding there are no perfect circumstances & sometimes you just have to dive into things. Her desire to change her way of thinking motivated me to join Rubin on her Happiness Project, instead of just reading about it. Each month I will follow the goals & we’ll see how I do. Look for these reviews periodically as it will (obviously) take me a year to fully complete this review and project.

Below, you will find the Goals for January, February, & March, my review of the author’s experience, and what my own experience was. Click the FOLLOW me button on the top right to be notified by email when I post the next installment!

JANUARY
Goals: Sleep earlier, Exercise better, Toss/restore/organize, Tackle a nagging task, Act more energetic
Review: I enjoy Rubin’s writing, she’s sarcastic and sassy. We would be great friends or hate each other because we’re too similar. She’s pretty Type-A & I can be too. She talks about finding peace through having things in just the right order. My friends & family semi-seriously joke that I have OCD because while I’m not necessarily a neat freak, I can be VERY particular. Another thing we have in common is an “insatiable need for credit” (p 24). We want the gold star! We’re highly motivated by praise – I’m really giving away all my secrets – haha!
My Experience: January’s goals were a breeze as I had already made them my New Year’s Resolutions.  I had just moved back to my hometown & was an unemployed, recent college grad – it was the perfect time to focus on my health and sort through the belongings I had accumulated in recent years plus all the stuff waiting for me at my childhood home. I definitely felt better after getting my things in order (somewhat) & getting back into a healthy lifestyle.

FEBRUARY
Goals: Quit nagging, Don’t expect praise or recognition, Fight right, No dumping, Give proofs of love
Review: While this book is based on Rubin’s experience, she also delves into research she conducted, which I found interesting & somewhat troublesome. Something that struck a nerve for me was, “the most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women” (p 52). I found this interesting because I don’t consider myself lonely & a majority of my friends are males because I don’t often find friendships with women fulfilling. The troublesome part of the research was that it relied heavily on stereotypical gender studies. For example, on p53 she talks about her husband not being a good listener, “[l]earning that men & women both turn to women for understanding showed me that Jamie wasn’t ignoring me out of lack of interest or affection: he just wasn’t good at giving that kind of support…[he] wasn’t going to have long discussions…[h]e didn’t want to spend hours pumping up my self-confidence” First of all, who WANTS to spend HOURS pumping up someone’s self confidence?! Second, why should we assume just because he’s male that he doesn’t want to have long discussions or isn’t a good listener? I know plenty of males that enjoy talking way more than I do & are way better listeners – that’s why we’re friends, because we complement each other. I understand there’s science behind these ideas, but if we want to grow as a society, we have to stop applying stereotypes to all men/women. Just learn about people & who they are.
My Experience: This month’s Goals were focused on Rubin’s marriage & I’m single, so I simply chose to apply the Goals to my friends and family. Following through was not as simple. I definitely struggled this month. I was especially nervous about “Don’t expect praise/recognition” because as mentioned earlier – I want that gold star! For example, as a “proof of love”, I bought my mom & myself passes to a ZUMBA studio. The instructor asked how we found them & my mom said, “We found you on Groupon”. Usually, this is where I would jump in & say, “Actually! I found the passes & bought them as a gift”, but I bit my tongue. I tried to consider these struggles as “what difference would it make?” issues. What difference did it make for the ZUMBA instructor to know that taking classes was MY idea, who cares!? Well, I care, but I guess that’s not the point. Another Goal I struggled with was “Quit nagging”. I found it hard to distinguish between nagging and giving a proof of love. Continuing with the ZUMBA example, in the past when my mom wouldn’t want to work out, I’d nag her about getting in shape, being healthy, etc. In an effort to not nag, when she didn’t feel like going to ZUMBA, I didn’t say anything. To me, it felt like I was uninvolved, the nagging was how I showed I cared. In this instance, not nagging worked because my mom found motivation on her own & didn’t feel like I was forcing her. In another instance, when I didn’t nag my friend about following through with something, feelings were hurt because she felt like I hadn’t been involved enough. You can’t please everyone!

MARCH
Goals: Launch a blog, Enjoy the fun of failure, Ask for help, Work smart, Enjoy now
Review: It was comforting to hear Rubin go through similar trials that I have experienced while blogging. A couple quotes from this month I took to heart are, “People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think. Even if [you do] something wrong on the blog, it [won’t] be a disaster” (p75). Also, “one of the biggest challenges posed by my blog was the doubt raised by my own inner critic…Was it egocentric to write so much about my own experience?…I didn’t want to be [a] novelist who spent so much time rewriting his first sentence that he never wrote his second…I needed to…[push] ahead without constantly second guessing myself” (p78).
My Experience: At first glance, I was feeling iffy about these Goals because I already write a blog (obviously), & failure & asking for help are not things I enjoy. The blog issue turned out to be a non-issue, because I’m still in the beginning stages of blogging, so it was easy to follow some of Rubin’s advice and start creating more content. I think I made great strides in terms of posting here more often, which has definitely made me happier and gotten my creative juices flowing as I try to plan my next post. I’ve been asking for help from others in the form of trying to find work & looking for companies that offer new bloggers support like the Bloguettes or Blogger Babes. I’m trying to enjoy the failure of being rejected from jobs, but that’s proving to be difficult. However, when I’m rejected, I try to think of it like “Woo hoo! Now I have more time to find an even more perfect job!”

Overall at this point, I can’t say I’m remarkably happier, but I feel like I’m challenging myself and growing along the way. Is that the same thing as Happiness? I’m not sure, & I think that’s what Rubin is aiming to find out. What do you think!? Have you enjoyed reading about The Happiness Project? Are you inspired to start a project of your own or follow along with me? Please let me know in the comments below! Remember, you can click the picture of the book at the top of this post and it’ll take you to all the Amazon listings – some sales are as low as one penny! Thanks for reading!