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Chosen by random selection, the winnner of the $10 Starbucks Giftcard is Mitch.

Thanks for playing, everyone — you all gave very helpful comments.

Mitch, I’ll contact you via email for details.

Cheers!

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Starbucks Giftcard Giveaway


‘Appy new year!

Hope your fresh start is brimming in optimism. Mine, as of day 4, has been good-ish. I’m putting serious effort into finding a job to fill my days and weary bank account. For ten years I’ve been swimming upstream in suburban utopia, and it’s time to get out and dry off (ew, bad metaphor and two clichés to boot — wait, three…). 

The first prong of my get-a-job strategy involves hunkering down in coffee shops all across town, sopping up free Wi-Fi while abstaining from mega cookies and buttery scones. I try not to peek at other laptop screens and/or eavesdrop, but the temptation — oooh, I tell you, it’s not easy. I think the lady to my right has a cool job. She’s drapped in a plum-colored scarf, hunched over her Mac and doesn’t appear to checking Facebook — a coffee-shop anomaly. Another guy in a too-big coat keeps making business calls to people I can tell don’t want to talk to him. He’s using an amped-up, folksy voice to coax them into thinking business with him is so fun.

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, my second prong to the search involves soliciting friends and unfortunate blog readers (Mom, are you there?) for help. I’m conducting a little “grandma research” experiment as part of a potential job idea, which I won’t explain now because, well, you guys are busy, right?

Normally, being a purist, I eschew using a personal blog for anything impersonal. But 2011 is a new year, and I need to get something done. 

So I’m hosting a mini-writing contest. Yep.

My contest is this: win a free ten-dollar gift card to Starbucks (I know, not a windfall, but still: free!)  in exchange for a dazzling comment to the following prompt:

Tell me how you feel about Starbucks and why.

In ten days, I’ll randomly select a “winner.”

That’s right: ten days, ten dollahs. Exciting, no?

Christmas posts — again.

Advent marks our return to church on a near-regular basis. The first Sunday is a bit dicey as I scurry around screeching, in search of tights without holes, the elusive “church shoes,” and black pants that fit me — because last year’s black pants don’t. Someday my kids will tell their therapists about damage incurred while getting dressed for church.

Last Sunday we had it all together — as in new tights, cheap patent leather flats and new black pants from The Gap. As we settled in for our post-worship repast of broken chips and leftover salsa, I asked my daughter what they talked about in Sunday school.

She sighed, rolling her eyes and said, “Ah, Jesus — again.”

On that note, I’m linking two Christmas posts I wrote a while back. Recently Barb brought referenced them in a comment, and I went back and read them. I confess, I liked them. They reminded me to get over myself and stop trying to make it all look perfect.

And I need to be reminded — again.

Christmas Post 1.

Christmas Post 2.

I love you and I hate you.

I can’t get it together to write a post.

I’m overwhelmed.

I need to go running, do 25 loads of laundry, sweep the gobs of cat hair off my stairs, buy two more linen napkins and a can of red spray paint to paint the thistle I clipped for my Christmas urns. (Do I need to do this last one? Hell yeah.)

Add this to the bigger stuff: I need to find a job – or more importantly: figure out what kind of job to find. I need to stop creating new blogs every time I have an idea (seriously, I’m up to four now due to the cunning words “register a new blog” — the metaphor for my life not lost on me).

I need to lose 10 pounds.

Before December 3rd.

So I sit down to post, to unwind by exercising some flabby creative muscles.

But I can’t, because I’m too jealous — of you people.

First there’s this gorgeous post by Mom Zombie. She and I are in similar places in life, but look at the beauty in her day that she thought about and then wrote about. Her post: soulful and original. My post: borrowed links.

Then Allison, does it with her post on holiday gift ideas. It’s not enough that she’s pretty and skinny and sooo nice. She’s also funny, charming, and made this amazing book of her amazing posts for her (I’m certain) amazing dad. I”m not only  jealous she has good ideas, I’m jealous she has a good dad.

Next, Mrs. Waltz – absent for like, forever! And she sneaks in a well-crafted, intelligent post with her characteristic wit — oh, and a super-smart link, which reminds me how clever she is, and how interesting her Google reader must be. I don’t even know how to set up a Google reader. I’m not even sure there is such a thing. Is there?

And Cherie, re-invented with a new blog so fresh, I can feel Maine, smell Maine, hear Maine — even though I’ve never been to Maine. Also, her new Internet presence is well-integrated with her other social media outlets. As a former marketer, this rallies further envy. Ha! — good objective, great strategy and even better tactics. 

Plus, isn’t is enough that Shauna just published her second book? No. She has thick hair and a million friends. And her friends come over and they have a party, and eat yummy things. So she posts recipes, inspiring another book. And, P.S. Is that a top-of-the-line Le Creuset baking dish I see in the picture? Of course it is.

One more: Did I mention my sister-in-law? She runs the marketing department of a big city, law firm and has a stunning garden — at her weekend house… in the country. And speaking of, recently her picture was in Town and Country — her picture with Katie Couric with whom she hosted a fabulous charity event where they raised mega bucks to help cure cancer. The other day, she sent me an email with a link to an essay that was just published. Published!

So, my point is this: With Thanksgiving just two days away, let me say, I’m grateful to know such talented, bright and passionate people. I’m further grateful a few of you kind people still read my little blog. Of course, what choice do you have with all the linking I’ve done?

But, please guys — could you just aim a little lower? Or maybe a lot lower.

Keep me company down here. I have  chocolate…and vodka.

And the winner is…

My daughter chose the winner for the “Bittersweet” giveaway. If you commented below, I put your name in a hat. She stirred the names around and pulled out…

Kathy! Hooray!

What’s fun is that I know Kathy — well sort of, in a blogger way. She writes about her on-going battle with fibromyalgia at The Fibrochondriac. Lately, things have been rough so I’m happy to have this book find it’s way to her. Also, if you are reading this post, please go to her blog and  give her a pep talkey comment. Put some sunshine in her day. 

Meanwhile, thanks to the rest of you for commenting.

Book Review: Bittersweet

I’ve been asked to write a book review. Me. Asked.

And yes, I know enough about marketing to know the difference between literary criticism and social media tactics. Still, it’s exciting to be a tactic.

Before I begin talking about the book, let me tell you upfront: it’s a Christian/inspirational book. I tell you this because Christian/inspiration is not normally my genre. My dad and stepmother are fiery evangelical Christians. My mother and her husband are tough-talking Calvinists. And I’m their religiously disappointing daughter: struggling, doubting, asking, and hesitant. I have unresolved issues in the devout department, so it’s not my normal thing to recommend a Christian book.

So with that out-of-the-way, just a bit more background: two years ago when I was in a very dark place, a friend of mine bought me this book of essays called “Cold Tangerines” by Shauna Niequist. I loved the book. It was the right book at the exact right time. I felt so moved, I sat down and wrote to Shauna. And she wrote me back. Since then I’ve had a few electronic exchanges with her and I continue to read her blog. I like to pretend I know her. She’s lovely, funny and very cool. I know if she lived next door, I’d be stalking her for friendship.

The book, “Bittersweet,” is her second book. Like her first book, it’s not churchy in a way that makes me nervous. Instead it gives pause. Pauses, I like.

But while her first collection of essays was celebratory, this collection is more varied and raw. In this book, Shauna writes about beautiful and sad events in her life, and how inextricably linked the beauty and sadness were.  

I liked a lot of things about this book: its honesty, its humor, its vivid description of gorgeous meals and meaningful friendships.  But what I really enjoy about Shauna’s writing is that whether lapping up the good or weeping over the bad, she thinks deeply about her life. She’s contemplative and present. I find her mindfulness contagious — inspirational even (yes, genre well-named).

In an essay called “Evergreen,” Shauna writes about an emotionally fragile time in her life and her realization a year later that she’d survived it. Shauna writes:

I was afraid, then, that it would always be like that. I was afraid this was the new normal, that seasons of lightness and peace were over in my life, and this brittle, fractured way of living would last forever.

and then:

One year ago today, a similarly snowy, lush day, it was all different, and I want to hold this moment like a charm — remember, remember.  The snow is falling on the evergreen tree in our new backyard, and our cozy little house feels warm and safe…We are a million miles from last December, and I want to keep this moment with me as a reminder of what can happen in a year. 

As someone continually accused of over-thinking, I like that Shauna mashes up her thoughts and passes them through a sieve. And she does so openly and graciously. 

Bittersweet is the kind of book to give to a good friend, or a book to read when you’re in a funk — or better yet, a book to give to a friend who’s in a funk. Wrap it up with a bar of Lindt chocolate, and you’ve thwarted a nervous breakdown.

Oh, and one last thing — surprise! As part of my tactical responsibilities, I get to give a book away for free. So If you’re interested in reading it and/or passing it on to a funky friend, leave me a comment saying so. I will randomly select an interested commenter for a free (!) book.        

Also, feel free to check out Shauna’s blog.

Halloween: Well Done

One down. Two more to go.

I love this time of year. I can dink around in holiday minutia  — like sewing a glitter cat on a leotard or rearranging spooky votives — and totally avoid facing more important issues. I don’t even need to procrastinate. I have too many meaningless things to do.

I’m scurrying around — unfinished, sleepy and bloated. I’ve eaten a lot of stolen chocolate. I’m happy. Well, happy-ish.

It’s probably the chocolate.