Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tuesday Tunes: Alanis Morissette's "You Learn"

Editor's Note: Song lyrics denoted in bold italics.

Full disclosure: I went through a wannabe emo/goth/woe-is-me phase when I was 14. This was right around the time Alanis Morissette and her deep emotions came on the scene, so I'm sure that had something to do with my sudden turn to the dark side, but, man, I thought I was such a badass. You know, like I was going to fully reject society and rebel or something. Or, that's what I wanted to do, at least. Really, I just sang along all angry-like when Alanis came on the radio and imagined getting revenge on my cheating ex-boyfriend.

But there's one Alanis song, in particular, that really, really spoke to me -- probably the most of all her songs...

Alanis Morissette's "You Learn"
From Jagged Little Pill

I first heard this tune at a time when I was growing up and first learning about this grand thing called life. I think I sort of heard it as just the right time for it to have such an impact on me. Here was a woman who knew who she was and didn't apologize for any of it. In fact, instead of hiding in the shadows, she sang her truth for the world to hear. That's the definition of Girl Power, if you ask me!

I recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone
I recommend walking around naked in your living room
Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)
It feels so good (swimming in your stomach)
Wait until the dust settles

At first, it's only natural to want to avoid all of life's trying and painful moments; we try to steer clear of those experiences as much we can. it's easy to think that if we fall down that rabbit hole, then we'll never be able to dig our way out again. But to recommend that we actually throw ourselves into these situations willfully? What a radical notion, I thought, to actually want to feel that pain. But then I realized, especially when I was depressed, that if we just sit with it for a bit, we begin to see that things work out.

You live you learn
You love you learn
You cry you learn
You lose you learn
You bleed you learn
You scream you learn

True, I had to sit with those uncomfortable feelings for months and months, but I eventually discovered that I was able to manage them better than I originally thought I could. It was a pretty powerful feeling, indeed, and it gave me this rush of confidence, like, "YES! I can most definitely DO this!" And when you do come out on the other side of those painful trials in life, you realize that they've become a part of your core and have worked to make you so much stronger in the long-run. And the best part? You no longer have to be afraid of them; they no longer have that power over you that they once did. By this time, I really started to feel like a weight was flying off my shoulders and I didn't have to walk around with that burden anymore.

I recommend biting off more than you can chew to anyone
I certainly do
I recommend sticking your foot in your mouth at any time
Feel free
Throw it down (the caution blocks you from the wind)
Hold it up (to the rays)
You wait and see when the smoke clears

Maybe, too, life is really about taking risks? I'll be the first to admit that I've never been too good with that one, mostly because I HATE change and, well, taking a risk is a pretty big change. It's like stepping out on the edge of a cliff without knowing if there's a safe place to fall below you. Part of you desperately wants to look at see what's down there, but the other part of you just wants to keep your eyes shut because if you open them, you just might die. OK, that's perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but you probably know what I mean. Really, it's like you're enaged in this intense inner battle with yourself and you have virtually no idea what part of you is going to win. And maybe a small part of you doesn't even want to know. Maybe you're too scared of the outcome or maybe you think that if you just stand still a little longer -- on that cliff, remember -- then some grand answer will magically appear before you like some sort of sign. But, maybe, really, you should just go ahead and take the plunge. After all, that just might be what is going to be the most meaningful for you in the end. It might just give you a whole new beginning, if you will.
And to think, I learned all this from Alanis when I was just 14... xoxo

If The Baby-Sitters Club Was All Grown Up...

During my formative years, I read every single book in The Baby-Sitters Club series. I had a voracious and undying love for those plucky pre-teens, what with their wit, can-do attitude and entrepreneurial spirit. I mean, they were pretty much the Beyonce of the late '80s!

But what about when they grew into adulthood? What would they be like as twentysomethings or -- gosh! -- even thirtysomethings? Would they still have that trademark innocence? Illustrator Siobhan Gallagher imagines what their lives would be like as Millennials -- you know, living, trying to take the perfect selfie and just generally struggling to get by. The result is the brilliant The Jaded Quitters Club...

If you think about it, though, aren't we ALL members of The Jaded Quitters Club sometimes? Life can get pretty tough and complicated. It's sort of nice to know that Kristy and Co would be in the same boat as the rest of us.
And who can forget the awesomeness that was The Baby-Sitters Club video series? I watched those things over and over. Who was your favorite Baby Sitter, friends? Did you have a favorite book? xoxo

[Via Huffington Post]

Monday, May 23, 2016

My Essay on HelloGiggles: "What My Grandmother's Stories Taught Me About Life and Love"

I got a nice little surprise on Saturday afternoon, ironically, as I was furiously working on a new essay: My essay "What My Grandmother's Stories Taught Me About Life and Love" went live on HelloGiggles! I've been wanting to break into this awesome site for awhile now (way to go, Zooey Deschanel!), and the fact that I got to do it with a piece about my grandmother just makes it extra special. It's weird because you're never really aware of the impact your loved ones have had on you until they're no longer here. As I've gotten older, I've been thinking more about my grandparents and all the good times we shared. My favorite part of those visits?

All. The. Family. Stories. She had literally thousands of them, and I never got tired of hearing them.

Here's an excerpt of the essay, and I'm SO happy they used my grandparent's wedding photo (side note: The photo almost didn't happen until someone said, "you need a photo on your wedding day!" This is the only one they have from that day)...

Maybe her influence is even part of the reason I became a writer. Stories are powerful. Sharing who you are is powerful. Being brave enough to be vulnerable is powerful. My grandmother was all those things.
Hearing those stories as a kid, I appreciated them simply as a look into my grandmother’s life when she was young. But now, I can’t help but see the sneaky little tricks she pulled on us. She was telling amazing stories, sure, but more than that, she was sharing her wisdom and teaching little life lessons along the way. About finding out who you are. About running full-speed ahead after your passion. About living fearlessly. About falling in love and not looking back. It takes courage to do that, and I’m grateful every day for the courage my grandmother passed on to me. Be brave. Be you. And tell lots of stories.

You can read the full essay here and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at mellow1422@aol.com and let's chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can't wait to hear from you! Love you all... xoxo

P.S. Make sure you hug your loved ones extra tight today!! :)

10 Random Thoughts I Had While Trying To Fall Asleep

I'm one of those people whose mind is running like a hamster wheel until the moment I fall asleep. It doesn't matter that my head may have hit the pillow; half the time, I'm not even sure that my body knows the difference between lying down and sitting up. It has a mind of its own and tends to operate at full speed ahead -- thanks for passing that trait down to me, Ms. Bear!

It's sort of a curse, really, this inability to calm down and quiet my mind. Maybe I need to start practicing some of those New Age-y mindfulness activities or drink a glass of warm milk before bed. But, c'mon, who has the patience for that??

I certainly don't.

So I'm left with my wandering -- and wondering -- mind, then. Every night. Last night was a particularly eventful one, too. In the name of preservation and for your sheer entertainment/enjoyment/anti-boredom solution, I made a mental note (I know, the irony!) of some of the thoughts that crossed my mind last night. Come with me as we take a little walk through the catacombs of my mind. Here are 10 random thoughts I had while trying to fall asleep...

1. Where did the phrase "counting sheep" come from? I'd much prefer something like "watching paint dry." Sheep are so cute!
2. I'm so sad that we only have 10 episodes left of Nurse Jackie! What are we going to watch next? This is a VERY serious matter.
3. Wow, my Netflix/TV addiction is real. Is there a 12-step program for that?
4. Now that it's summer, I really should invest in some neon polo shirts. After all, it's only fitting that my loud wardrobe should match my loud personality.
5. OK, it's still in the midnight hour. If I go to sleep RIGHT NOW, I'll still get almost eight hours of sleep.
6. Come on, eyes, lull yourself into a deep, peaceful slumber. I'm really not kidding around here.
7. I have so much work to do tomorrow. Time to make a mental to-do list!
8. Oh, shoot, what if I can't remember everything on that list? Too bad my phone is charging.
9. Why can't summer last 365 days?
10. I think I'm going to get a taco salad for lunch tomorrow. I've been craving one, and I'm not in the business of denying myself things that make me the happiest.

Whew!! See what I mean here, friends? The loops! The nagging! The food cravings! Will it ever end? What do you find yourself thinking about at night? How do you stop those incessant thoughts from keeping you awake? I'd love to know your tips! xoxo

[Photo via We Heart It]

Man Candy Monday.

Good morning, friends, and welcome to a brand-new week! Full of hope! Full of possibilities! Full of...caffeine?!? However you're getting through this morning, let this guy help put you in a good mood. I've only discovered his awesomeness since we started watching Nurse Jackie. He's one intense soul. He seems like the kind of guy who knows how to carry a conversation. And, well, those eyes could stare at me any time...


"Growing up, I wasn't an athlete or anything like that. The only place I felt like I belonged was in the theater."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Have a Breezy Weekend

Happy Saturday, friends! What are you doing this weekend? I was working on essay pitches yesterday -- hence why this week's Link List is coming so late. I look forward to doing a bit more writing this weekend as well. Isn't it great when the ideas just flow so easily and it doesn't feel like you're pulling teeth to get every word from brain to keyboard? Knock on wood the Muses stick around awhile! I hope you all have a relaxing weekend, and here are my favorite finds from the wonderful Web...

Who couldn't use more rose gold in their lives?

I'm SO MAD The Family was cancelled!

"All the things I've learned about forgiveness"

Mixed signals are seriously the worst.

Such wise words for those struggling and contemplating suicide.

Just one more reason I love Robin Wright.

If other jobs were like the arts is sad because it's true!

How to talk about death with the grieving.

Shonda Rhimes' new Still Star-Crossed looks at life after Romeo & Juliet.

Harry Styles, what have you done?

19 songs to heal your broken heart.

How beautiful are these billowing forms created by dripping paint in water?

"The moment we stopped being just friends"

On being a freelancer during the summer.

Parents in the '90s vs. today.

Touching words on life with autism.

Oh, I can identify with this writer's addiction to Coca-Cola.

10 tiny tweaks to improve your life.

Jackie Kennedy's is a style icon for all time.

In love with this beaded bracelet...sigh...

And as always, feel free to connect with me on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Bloglovin! See you there, friends! xoxo

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Love Lounge: What Is Your #RelationshipStatus?

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day -- I say it's purely for work/research purposes -- and what should catch my eye?

This splendid hashtag: #MyRelationshipStatus

I know! It's awesome, right? The responses were hilarious, cheeky and creative, to say the least. Just take a look at some of my favorites...Woman seeking wine #MyRelationshipStatus
And then I got to thinking about my contribution to the hashtag, and let's be real for a moment here: It's an extremely accurate hashtag. I mean, the evidence abounds, and who am I to argue with pure, hard proof?
There's this post, after all, where I detail all the boys who -- you guessed it! -- exist only on screen or in books. And let's not forget all those other ones that came into my life after that post: Dr. Owen Hunt, Dr. Mark Sloan, Dr. Alex Karev, Dr. Hank Lawson and Charlie from How To Get Away With Murder -- obviously, there's a pretty big doctor trend here. But honestly, can you blame me? Fictional characters are the ultimate "boyfriends," sort of like neopets for adults -- low-maintenance to maintain, drama-free and you have the upper hand in the relationship! What could possibly be better than that?

Hmmm, now that I think about it more, maybe there's a book in all of this. It could be like an ode to all the (fictional) boys who've stolen my heart over the years, everyone from Alex P. Keaton to Zorro. Hey, that could even be the title of said book. What do you think?

So, friends, I'd love to know: What's YOUR #RelationshipStatus? Single? Attached? #ItsComplicated? Let's chat in the comments -- or let me know on Twitter by tagging me @melissablake and using the hashtag #MyRelationshipStatus! Looking forward to hearing from you!! xoxo

If Classic Works of Literature Had Clickbait Headlines...

We've all seen those headlines. You know, the ones that are so shocking, so riveting, so intriguing that you just have to click on them. We know they're outrageous, but we still click on them. Our curiosity gets the better of us.

Every. Single. Time.

Now just imagine your favorite books in clickbait-headline form. These classic titles re-imagined are awesome, aren't they? Tell me they don't have BuzzFeed written all over them! See them all here... xoxo

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My Essay on POPSUGAR: "4 Things I Want Men to Know About Women With Disabilities"

AHHH!! I'm so excited, friends! I've been wanting to make this announcement for weeks and now I finally can...

Guess what???

I'm now officially a contributor to POPSUGAR! I pitched them an essay idea last month and it went live yesterday on their -- surprise, surprise! -- Love vertical. I've been realizing lately how much I love writing about the intersection of love and disability, as well as where I fit in to all that. I know I've been writing about this topic for almost eight years here on the blog, but I feel like I'm taking it to the next level.

Here's an excerpt of "4 Things I Want Men to Know About Women With Disabilities," which has already been shared 26 times...

It used to be that society's perception of the disability community skewed more toward the negative. People with disabilities were seen as weak and dependent, living out their days sitting in their wheelchairs with a blanket over their lap and not doing much of anything productive or worthwhile. Sadly, for some reason, that image has stuck around longer than it ever should have.
NEWS FLASH: These sorts of misconceptions are just that — misconceptions. They're at once antiquated and damaging, not just to those with disabilities, but to society as a whole. They're insulting in their sweeping generalization and chooses to focus on the disability at the expense of the person.

You can read the full essay here and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at mellow1422@aol.com and let's chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can't wait to hear from you! Love you all... xoxo

P.S. Catch up on more disability and love talk! :)

How I Feel (In 5 Photos) Wednesday.

"How can I fall, how can I fall...When you just won't give me reasons..." --Breathe

[Photos via That Kind of Woman]
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