Cecilia Marie

one aspiring quaintrelle's voyage

Bookish

Slowly, I’ve been getting back into reading. I’m not sure what turned me off of it before – I think it was my eyesight; reading often gave me headaches. Now it just makes me tired! Sigh.

This year I’ve purchased a bunch of books! A lot of them aren’t even novels. I’m in the mood to talk about them, and since this blog barely gets love I thought I’d give it some to do that with :)

@heart What the Buddha Taught with Texts from Suttas & Dhammapada
I looked through many a list to find a good introductory book on Buddhism. I’ve been interested in the idea of Buddhism as a philosophy for many years now; I remember, as a 13 year old, printing pages of information about Buddhism from Wikipedia to enlighten myself on the topic, but not getting much further.

The reviews I’ve skimmed on Goodreads about this book excite me! It was used as an academic text at Grinnell College; reviewers boast the concepts are conveyed clearly and simply, yet it is supposedly addressed to ‘the educated and intelligent reader. I’m looking forward to picking this up once I’m finished with my current novel.

* * *

@heart Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
This purchase is probably due to the frustrated introvert in me wanting to make a stronger mark, but I think it could also help me pick out why I have trouble saying “no” without feeling guilty about doing so. I’m not sure I’m manipulative enough a person to ever apply the understanding of “why people say yes” to make people say yes without that same guilt.

It’s a little out of my comfort zone, but an exciting perspective to explore all the same. The synopsis does mention the book teaches you “how to defend yourself against” persuasiveness – that’s mostly what I’m after, but I’m not getting my hopes up. I think I’m just interested in the ‘psychology’ behind it all. Really, really interested!

* * *

@heart Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
I bought this book after I watched Susan Cain’s presentation, “The Power of Introverts”, about the reasons behind the book being written. She opened the speech by telling a story about her experience at camp, wherein she brought along a suitcase full of books, but when she sat down to read them she was counselled about making an effort to be more outgoing. Cain spent her life thereafter proving to herself and the world that she could be extroverted, ignoring her intuition that it wasn’t who she is and that she was fine just the way she wanted to be: introverted.

She says the world is truly made for extroverts, seen in the structures of our schools and workplaces, and that the world needs to realise extroversion isn’t the only way to be valuable. That people, and introverts especially, should realise the value of introversion. They both have their ups and downs! One isn’t superior!

Even after only seeing this presentation, the idea that “the world is made for extroverts” has resonated with me. I’m excited to read this book and see what she has to say. A review I skimmed reprimanded the book for keeping introverts “in their shell”, and I venture to assume that review was written by an extrovert. An introvert who embraces their introversion may seem on the outside as if they live in a shell (or a bubble, as I like to call my world), but who is anyone else to judge them for this? An introvert – not to be confused with a shy person – is excited by their inner world, entertained by it, doesn’t need to mingle and make a lot of small talk (though they might; it isn’t a craving like a strong-leaning extrovert has).

I can obviously talk your ear off about the differences between introverts and extroverts, I suppose looking for a job in the extrovert world as an introvert has made an impact on me. This book is a bit of a given for me, it would be strange not to have it on my shelf. And I haven’t even read it yet!

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@heart Fitting In Is Overrated: The Survival Guide for Anyone Who Has Ever Felt Like an Outsider
This book was recommended on a group for INFPs (or “Highly Sensitive Person” INFPs, but all the same, INFPs!) because it’s typical of an INFP to be misunderstood and cast out as a weirdo – or at least that’s what school was like for me except among my group of friends. The few new people who bothered to talk to me who would always tell me “I don’t know what they have against you, you’re awesome”. I wonder how my school life would ahve been without those nods of affirmation here and there…

I got through high school without fitting in, even got through some of university that way. I moved to a country town that was very cliquey and, still, I stood strong. Whenever I have tried to fit in, it always turned into my own “blend” of the world I was trying to melt into, rather than synthesising with it completely. This always made me feel like an outsider, but as I’ve grown I think I have learnt to embrace this and use it positively, rather than to accuse myself of failure, as I’ve been wont to do much of my life.

Something else I’ve been learning, in the past few years in full force, has been how to hold my tongue. I’ve always been an “open book”, sharing my thoughts freely and being very true to myself, but it has always bit me in the bum! This book’s synopsis touches on this, saying “it’s about choosing wisely when to speak your truth and saying it in a way that gets positive results”. I’m doing well and hope this book can help me perfect this skill. I’m sure it will make my life much more joyous, and my persona more graceful – something I am striving for.

* * *

@heart A Walk To Remember
The only novel I’ve bought this year?! Actually, I don’t think it is, but the others were for a collection rather than want for reading.

This book was made into a film, which just so happens to be my favourite film ever. Sometimes I think it’s a bit silly that my favourite film is a romance film, when I always fancy myself a massive psychological thriller fan, but I think it shows how gentle and fragile my inner world really is.

I’m looking forward to the differences in the romance and character developments that the film either missed or interpreted differently. I love both the main characters, Jamie especially has inspired me through my life, when I’ve been singled out and bullied, to be strong and true to myself. More recently she’s inspired me to realise that being true to yourself doesn’t necessarily mean revealing your weaknesses.

The story has been such an influence to me, moving me to tears on so many occasions, I can’t not have it on my shelf.

* * *

@heart The Chronicles of Narnia
Ah! A Walk to Remember wasn’t the only novel, then. Though this is still processing and barely in the mail as I only ordered it yesterday.

This year I bought an edition of “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, and had planned to buy the others to complete the Chronicles of Narnia collection, but then I saw that the first 7 stories were published into this one edition and decided to buy that instead of the 6 others individually.

I aim to read all of the stories before I watch the film – I watched the first film after I read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I’m not sure if I like doing it that way, I picked up on the differences too acutely. I will read this entire book before I watch anything else.

People and reviews have told me there are Christian undertones in this story, but, at the risk of sounding stupid, I didn’t pick up on any of them! I’d be interested to read a study guide on it in future.

* * *

@heart The Last Unicorn (graphic novel)
I watched the film “The Last Unicorn” after being recommended it by Princess Skye. She dressed as Amalthea and looked beautiful doing so. The beauty drew me in, and the opening song by America has a magical air to it that made me feel so at peace, The Last Unicorn took a piece of my heart.

It’s a children’s story about a unicorn who ventures to find more of her kind. On her journey, she loses her way. That’s all I’ll say so not to ruin the story for those who might be interested. I haven’t read the novel that the film was based upon yet; I actually thought that’s what I was buying when I bought this, but then realised it’s an illustrated, graphic novel interpretation of the story. I’ve only flicked through it thus far, and can say I’m disappointed with their version of Amalthea, but that the unicorn is amazing. I’m glad I bought it, since the story took me so much to heart I feel as if I grew up watching and reading it.

* * *

These are just the books sitting on my shelf that I’ve accumulated this year. There are others I want to read from years ago, too. Eek!


I really want these books, too:

@heart Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
I am almost ashamed this wasn’t the first book I picked up after learning what Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is. It’s such a short book, yet reviews for it are amazing, I’m so excited to read it! It’s written by Isabel Briggs Myers herself (and Peter Myers, excuse me).

I’ve learnt a lot about MBTI from the internet already that I wonder if this book will teach me anything new. Apparently it’s concerned with how each type learns, which could prove invaluable if I end up in a teaching position and able to type based on functions. Functions are amazing things! If you’re skeptical about how several billion people can be typed into one of 16 types, read this book! Reviews rave about how accurate it is.

I’m sure MBTI isn’t without its holes, but I’m still at the start of my journey to understand the system. I absolutely cannot wait to explore it more deeply. This is my favourite type of psychology, I only hope one day I’ll be able to base a paper I write on it! I’ve converted the two people I’m closest to toward MBTI by typing them and having them absolutely stunned at the resounding resemblance the descriptions had with themselves. It isn’t even that general – if you look at types other than yours, functions and all, it’s likely you won’t see yourself in it.

Maybe I place too much trust in this system, but it’s been a lifesaver since I discovered it; it helped me explain to myself why I do this or that, and how to improve and balance the points about my personality that I don’t like or which are hindering me in getting where I want to go. I’ve gotten a bit off track here, but I suppose the system itself is what this book is about after all!

The book teaches strengths based on how we learn, and to learn about how different people approach things is to perfect the art of communication. If we realise what someone values and we realise how different someone’s priorities could be while still seeing them as a valuable person, with all their own gifts and talents, we can put a stop to negative mindsets and overwhelming negative world views (something I’m prone to as an empath). I just can’t wait to read this must-have book, is what I’m saying, I suppose!

* * *

@heart The Highly Sensitive Person
I had never thought about my sensitivity being a “thing” of its own. Sure, “being sensitive” has always been a thing, but I suppose I’ve never thought about it being some sort of diagnosis. Who’d have thought anxiety could stem from something as simple as “being sensitive”? I’m still not sure what exactly being Highly Sensitive means, but I’m fairly sure I am a HSP, having discussed it before.

“Empathy consumes me”, I always say. Empathy is a big sensitivity of mine. The book comes with an assessment to identify your sensitivies, so I’ll see what accompanies empathy on my list once this book is on my shelf and I can think about it more deeply. I’m hoping that understanding my sensitivies will help me be able to overcome them if and when they try to overwhelm me, to be able to explain to the people I love why I am the way I am, and to be considerate and accommodating to others who might be HSP as well.

* * *

@heart Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence
Even the title of this book makes it a must-read for me. I’ve spent my life wishing I could be understood, relishing in the few relationships I managed to build that seemed to do this magically, on some other plane of understanding that I’d never reach on my own to work with.

This book is apparently a go-to for many training programs in counselling as a guide, so why haven’t I bought it? It explores character and temperament differences, something that since discovering MBTI I’ve been trying to explain to people, apparently to no avail. I hope David Keirsey can lend me a credible authority to use to more eloquently explain the concept of
“differences” to people. It seems like such a simple concept to me, but reading a lot of posts social networking makes me think it may be a completely foreign one to many others.

I will push this issue strongly until I am old and tired. It’s worthwhile for everyone to benefit from the obvious fact that they are unique, and so is everyone else. Somewhere along the way people started seeing the word “unique” as a negative thing, which is a fact I am sorry to look at. Perhaps it is arrogant to use it as a word to explain yourself with, but is that because we’re all the same? No way! Uniqueness is a given, something we take for granted now and have forgotten, absorbed in our own lives. Maybe this book will equip me with the tools to make people appreciate themselves, and help me to appreciate myself.

* * *

@heart Depressive Illness: The Curse Of The Strong (Overcoming Common Problems)
This book was openly recommended on a group I frequent for INFPs. Reviews claim it’s flipped their perception of depression on its head and opened them up to the strengths they’ve been ignoring and not being told are there. I’m not convinced I have depression, but I am convinced I have had it. Apparently the author uses a very assumptive tone and words his beliefs and theories as indisputable fact, so if I read this I hope I don’t get swept away reciting its contents to others the same way.

In more than one way I think this book will help me. Firstly, to perhaps understand what I should do to improve my quality of life, as understanding and knowledge help me reconcile myself to ideas much more easily than being told “it’s OK” or “it’s normal” to feel certain ways. The biological aspect of depression always confounds me! Just when I think I understand, the rug is pulled from under me and I’m crawling again. Understanding is a big motivator in my life. Secondly, approaching the book critically, keeping in mind his aforementioned tendencies, will be good critical thinking practise and will help me further develop unbiased mindsets, should I choose to pursue a counselling position in future.

I also hope to help some of the people in my life right now by using the insights this book may hold, so fingers crossed!

* * *

@heart The Last Unicorn (novel)
I wanted to buy this for my kindle, but I can’t seem to find a kindle edition, so it will join my graphic novel edition when I finally buy it. It isn’t the highest priority, but as I said above, has a place in my heart that feels a little empty without it there now that I’m getting into books.

On Goodreads this book is in a “the book was better than the movie” list, and since I loved the movie so, I really must read it myself and see whether or not I agree with the listopia. Though, I can’t imagine reinventing the characters with my own imagination. The curse of movie-before-the-book!

Things I Love (w36)


Image from Edson Hong via Flickr

@heart Feeling stronger
@heart Trying new things that a lot of people won’t ever try
@heart Anzac / oatmeal cookies :)
@heart New toys! I’m officially on Android (y).gif
@heart Catchy music, even if everyone else hates it >D<heart (You all know of Oppa You're my Style, yes?)

Skipped a couple of weeks because I want these entries to mean something and I found weekly a bit hard, so I’ll be doing them less frequently now but hopefully at least monthly heart.gif

Pole Fitness


Image from flaringshutter via Flickr

What do you think when you hear pole dancing? Maybe I’m in the minority, but personally I think of it akin to acrobatics or gymnastics. Artful, skilful, beautiful and hard. I don’t really get why most people think “I’m doing pole dancing” means “I’m a stripper” – I didn’t say “I’m stripping”, so don’t give me that look!

I went to my first pole fitness class this week. The studio I chose is an all-girl studio, founded 8 years ago to provide a “safe haven” for girls who just want to feel a little bit sexy and dare to be a little different while burning some cals.

The thing that got me interested was a YouTube channel: Miss Dirdy Birdy.

Girls we DiG – Dirdy Birdy by DopeSource Media was my first exposure to her. She’s amazing! She’s a pole fitness instructor in Sydney. I wonder if she’s as chirpy as my instructor.

When I walked into the studio there were 10 or so other girls there already, sitting around waiting for the instructor to finish teaching another class behind the curtain. I could see the crazy disco lights from behind the curtain and hear the instructor shouting “looking great, girls!” and other affirming words.

They left, and those in our class who’d finished paperwork and payments entered to claim a pole. It was quiet for 10 minutes, then we did introductions and nobody was shy – maybe shy people wouldn’t enrol for a class like this to start with? (even though I encourage it, at least for the bucket list! haha)

After intros we started with warm ups. The instructor showed us a “heel toe” move and joked that it sounded too cowboy, so she changed her cue calls to “forward back” instead. She was wonderfully hilarious and it didn’t take long to sink into the same aura and for the class to start getting chattier.

We learnt transitions, some moves like crawls and body waves (which I failed so hard at because I was laughing so much!), and a couple of spins. By week 6 we will be able to do a beginners routine!

I wore my heart rate monitor out of curiosity, and burned 300 calories in 45 minutes.

This class is only once a week, but I think I’ll be continuing beyond beginner. I’d love to be an instructor one day even! But I wonder where I could put a pole at home… Ahaha, lots of time to figure that out if the time comes.

 
Bucket list: @tick Pole dance :)

Winter Staple


Image from Shandi-lee via Flickr

Winter has just finished here, but the rain was lazy and is only making up for it now; the weather has been so crisp. I love big wooly jumpers and fuzzy slippers, and I carry my warmest rug with me through the house. I sip tea or milo to keep from shivering and warm up my wheat bag.

My favourite winter item, though, is my coat. It’s a Liz Lisa coat, made for autumn, but it does the job perfectly in Australia where we have no snow. I only wear it with my prettiest dresses and skirts, and with leggings and pretty shoes, never sneakers. I wear it with Lolita, too. It has gold Liz Lisa buttons and deep pockets, and a big chunky bow at the back.

I think I’ve been wearing my dressing gown a lot more than my coat lately though, whoops.

Winter is slowly approaching in the northern hemisphere, I wonder what favourite items everyone is preparing and looking forward to snow.gif

[Drama] Once Upon a Time


Once Upon a Time is a 2011-12 TV series. It’s a mash up of several different fairy stories, so of course I want to see what it’s all about; I finished season 1 last week. I hate following dramas as they air, too much suspense! I like to have all the episodes at my fingertips, just in case the cliffhanger is too much to bear ;)


The story follows Emma Swan (left) and her son Henry who brings her to accursed town “Storybrook” as they work on “Operation Cobra” ー a mission to break a curse that the Evil Queen (stepmother from the Snow White tale) cast on all the fairytale characters of their world, including names such as, of course, Snow White; Red Riding Hood; Jiminy Cricket; Belle; Pinocchio; The Mad Hatter; and Rumplestiltskin.

 
My favourite characters are Mr Gold (Rumplestiltskin) and Graham (The Huntsman). I laughed, I cried, I shook my head at some terrible plot holes, but overall I really enjoyed watching this drama, and I can’t wait for season 2 now that [spoiler spoiler spoiler! You’ll have to watch and see]!

A big plot point of this drama is keeping Prince Charming and Snow White together while the Evil Queen tries desperately to keep them apart to keep the curse alive and the characters oblivious of their predicament. The relationship between Snow and Charming is a really interesting twist in the tale. I loved storybook Snow White (not so much in Storybrook).


Even more interesting is later on in the series where you see why the Queen hates Snow so much. She wasn’t always a bad seed! I didn’t find that two-parter all that convincing, but I give the writers major points for including it all the same.

The Red Riding Hood story has some awesome twists as well, and Grumpy the dwarf gets his own little story. I liked that in Storybrook, life was more realistic – no magic, except for some little tidbits here and there (you’ll see!). I think it was very well done.

Lastly – I couldn’t ignore when young Snow wore a coat that reminded me of Lolita! I squee’d so much! I couldn’t get over how well young Snow pulled off the character the actress for young-adult Snow had established. The casting was perfect. But OH, the coat! It is pure evil that this picture is the best one I can find of her in it.

I’d give it 5 stars if I didn’t spend a lot of time screaming “THEY SO WOULDN’T DO THAT THOUGH”, alas. 4 it is!

★ ★ ★ ★

Things I Love (w33)


Image from Mara ~earth light~ via Flickr

@heart Levelling up goal.gif
@heart Not feeling anxious! This is new and sparkly for me!
@heart Going to the gym look.gif
@heart Setting off to another home for over a month! Bliss
@heart Motivational quotes! Maybe I’ll make a list of my favourites heart.gif
@heart CUPCAKES! Never will I not love cupcakes
@heart Receiving the most gorgeous, thoughtful gift from someone dear
@heart Laughing really, really hard (but not too hard)
@heart Recognition ^3^blush
@heart Being healthy (I take it for granted, I shouldn’t!)

Been unmotivated here lately, yikes! Need to brainstorm some material stars2.gif

Things I Love (w32)


Image from Emily Carlin via Flickr

@heart Pushing myself harder than yesterday
@heart Fruit! Strawberries and bananas especially :P.gif
@heart Making the changes I need to make to get what I really want
@heart Snuggling into a freshly made bed
@heart Tumblr communities
@heart Stevia sweetener!! Never adding sugar to anything ever again!
@heart Exciting plot twists and cliffhangers (Once Upon a Time heart.gif )
@heart Doing something charitable
@heart Being able to compare myself to nobody but myself
@heart Thinking ahead to my birthday (in like 40 days, haha)!

Giving Blood


Image from Jessica Laswell via Flickr

I’ve been meaning to give blood for a while. I was too close to the minimum weight for a while so I didn’t give, but now I’m healthier (heavier ) and all set!

This year I got a piercing in January, so I had to wait 6 months after that… Technically it’s 4 months, but I’m told they’re skeptical about believing people who say the equipment was sterile when it may not have been. Since I have no proof, I waited the extra 2 months. Before those 6 months were up, however, I underwent an operation! A couple of weeks ago, after seeing a Red Cross stall at an orientation fair I attended, I called to ask how long after my operation I should wait. He told me 2 months, which was up only last week! I’m glad I put off calling. It was exciting to hear that I could do it so soon!

My blood type is O-. If you’re unfamiliar with blood types, donors with O- are known as the “universal donors”, because O- can be given to any other blood type. While this is a fantastic type to be as a blood donor, it’s not so great if you need blood. O- types can only receive other O- type blood!

There was a chart in the bathroom about how certain blood types are sought for different types of donations. O- are sought for full blood donations, others for plasma, and others for both. Plasma takes a lot longer and you’re able to donate it a lot more often, since they return the red blood cells to you. I don’t think I’ll donate plasma, they don’t seem to need it from me. Maybe one day though.

It’s winter here right now, so we have the flu going around, and the wonderful man on the phone told me a lot of regular donors are ill around this time of year. I haven’t been mingling with illness, so I have a good bill of health. I’m glad I can use it help others this season!


 
Though the donation process is short (about 15 minutes), the rest and paperwork takes a while. They said I should allow about an hour and a half. When I went in yesterday, it ended up taking 45 minutes.

When I got to the blood donation centre they gave me a few forms to fill out, one had 3 parts, others were only a read-and-sign sort of deal. I’d eaten 2.5 hours before – they say you should eat within 3 hours before. They also say you should have a lot of fluids in the 24 hours leading up to the donation, and at least 3 tall glasses of water or juice in the 3 hours before donation. If I’m honest, I don’t think I drank enough fluids, but I did have more than usual.

They took my blood pressure and haemoglobin while they ‘interviewed’ me. Perfect blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg, mine is 101/64 mmHg! It’s low, but it has to be below 90 before it’s a real problem. To take haemoglobin, there’s a little needle that pricks your finger a little bit, then the blood is measured for iron absorption, to see if you’re at risk of anaemia for example. Mine is healthy at 123 g/L! According to wikipedia, normal haemoglobin levels in women are between 121 and 151 g/L.

After the interview they sat me down, elevated my chair and put a blanket over me. They gave me a stress ball to squeeze then poked me with the needle, which didn’t hurt at all. They sticky taped it down so that it didn’t pull or move, and we chatted. I mentioned at first that my fingers felt a bit weird, but when I started moving them more and squeezing the ball more often it went away. 10 minutes or so later it was all over!

I expected to feel more dizzy. When you’re a new donor, they sit you up for a couple of minutes before letting you leave the chair after your donation. I expected to feel quite faint, being so petite; people always joke when I mention giving blood that I wouldn’t have enough in me! But I felt totally fine.

In the refreshments area there was a European woman, I think her accent was French but I couldn’t be sure (the way she said “orange” just made me think of it!). She asked me if I want tea, coffee or juice, so I said juice. Apple or orange? she asked. Apple it was! She brought it out on a platter with cheese, crackers and a fun-sized chocolate, and asked if I wanted a muffin. I said yes before she came back and said “now, you have to eat ALL!” Yikes, I don’t think I could finish it on a good day! I ate what I could and put the rest of the sealed food in my bag for later. Thankfully her shift finished before I left so she didn’t see my half eaten muffin!

It takes 24 to 48 hours for your blood to replenish itself; they take about 600mL, and say the quicker you drink this much fluid the quicker your body will recover. No strenuous activity for 24 hours! The website said 12, but they said 24, so that means no workout. I felt a bit guilty, my muscles are yelling abuse at me and I’m fidgety. Can’t wait for the 24 hours to be up so I can get moving today!

Some time this month I’m accompanying a friend to his blood donation, as my overwhelmingly good experience has inspired him! He has had bad experiences with small blood tests, but giving blood in Australia is very safe, and he knows that if he feels funny they will stop, so he’s decided that the fear of what could go wrong is not enough to hold him back from at least trying! :) All the best for your donation (I know you read!), and I hope anybody else reading will think about taking the leap if they’re able as well. The people of your country need you! ;)

Things I Love (w31)


Image from alles-schlumpf via Flickr

@heart Feeling your muscles ache just a little the day after a work out
@heart Reading old diary entries to see how you’ve grown
@heart Chemistry between people; that undeniable pull
@heart Spending time with me, myself and I
@heart Trying new hair colours (even if it’s practically the same!)
@heart Earning enough ribbons on pupe for that pretty item
@heart Going for walks and taking in the crisp, fresh winter air
@heart Scheduling posts, when I remember to finish them :)
@heart Seeing good friends and good movies!
@heart Cuddles! Of course

August Challenge


Image from Horia Varlan via Flickr

Last month I made the decision to be a better person. It wasn’t about being charitable this time, nor giving back. These are the things I normally focus on when I think about being a better person, but when I put them into action there is always a nagging in my subconscious that I should step back and take care of myself first.

Taking care of myself feels selfish, so seldom do I consider this advice myself (though I always give it when I’m worried about somebody). As I become more comfortable with myself though, caring for others becomes so much less draining and flows much more easily, so it’s worth the effort! up.gif

Often, when I begin to heal and appreciate myself, something shoots me down. This cycle has been vicious, and I am resolving now to bring it to a halt. This month I will dedicate myself to picking up the pieces.

The most challenging aspect of this I’m tackling this month, as I am studying and semester 2 has begun, is trying to balance an active timetable with the active, dreamy world in my mind. They will have to cooperate, because if one piece is missing from my puzzle, I won’t be able to put it all together. I believe that only when I put all the pieces where they’re most comfortable will I be able to look outside my puzzle and help other people solve theirs.

What are you tackling in August? ^w^/