history, huh?

Every year I set a New Year’s Resolution and by February I’m thinking, why did I do this to myself? So instead of falling into the pattern of basic and unattainable goals, I decided to be sweet and simple this year: Read more books. 

I’ve actually had people tell me that as a mother who writes from home, I should have plenty of free time on my hands but contrary to that belief, I don’t. No one has free time on their hands these days. We are so busy with our jobs, our families, our friends, our houses, and on top of all that there’s the self care hurtle. It’s overwhelming. But I’m a firm believer that a good writer is a good reader. The best way to become a more balanced writer is to write and read a lot. A LOT. Every single day. 

I started off with some books from my shelves that I hadn’t gotten to yet. An older YA vampire series from my younger days. The last three books of the series sat there and whimpered to be loved for far too long, so I loved them. They were wonderful. But it wasn’t until I flew back home to California for a long weekend a few months ago that I turned to GoodReads to see what I was going to download and read next. As I skimmed through the lists of the best books of 2019, one really stood out to me. 

I’m a sucker for a good romance novel. As a hopeless romantic, there’s nothing my heart swells over more than two people who defy all odds and obstacles to be with one another. It’s been a long time since I read a book with such a unique plot or two characters that I would die for, but Red White and Royal Blue but Casey McQuiston just floored me. 

If you have been searching for a refreshingly new love story and haven’t read this book yet, you need to. I first picked it up back in February and I’ve already reread it about five different times. No shame. 

Alex Claremont-Diaz is the biracial son of the first female President of the United States (woot woot!). He is passionate to better his country and he’s completely relatable on a personal level, especially to anyone who has gone to college. Up until four o’clock in the morning. Color coded binders and notes. Constantly pushing yourself to be better. It’s like someone was spying on me back in my university days. 

Henry Wales is a Prince of England, a seemingly unimpressed and bland heir to the throne. If you ask Alex, Henry is completely insufferable. He hates him. He can’t stand the way he presents himself, or how tall he is, or how dreamy his ocean blue eyes are. 

The two start off as nemeses who go from talking shit to each other to causing dramatic public scenes which forces them to mend the bridge between their two countries by pretending to be friends. And shockingly, the more time they spend together, the more tolerable they find out the other one is. A little too tolerable when, much to Alex’s surprise, he realized he isn’t quite as straight as he had spent his life convincing himself he was. 

My heart literally melted the deeper I got into this story, as the layers of each character were pulled back to reveal how raw the pain was that both of them had buried deep in their souls. Not only do they fully accept one another for who they are and their baggage, but they also inspire the other to be better versions of themselves for themselves. And if that isn’t the kind of relationship we all strive to be part of and see our loved ones in, what kind of human being are you?

Not only does Red White and Royal Blue have two of the sweetest protagonists, but the secondary characters are just as loving and supportive with their own colorful stories all woven together in a thick tapestry of new adult relatability. The book touches on relevant political issues and conflicts within the way the people running our country maneuver through politics to meet their agenda, both for the good of their people and, unfortunately, the good of themselves. 

It’s the debut novel writers like me dream about publishing and I couldn’t be more proud of McQuiston for the success and creativity she shows. It’s easy to get competitive as authors when we see others succeed, but as artists we have to celebrate one another for our accomplishments and support each other in our stumbles. At the end of the day, all any of us want to do is write great books that people can relate to and escape from their troubles. This was a hundred percent one of those books for me. 

Check it out for yourself: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41150487-red-white-royal-blue

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Book and Coffee Cup photo by fotografierende on Pexels.

RWRB Cover art photo from Spectrum South

10 ways to celebrate earth day at home

Today is the 50th year anniversary of Earth Day! On this day in 1970, one of the most overlooked holidays (in my humble opinion) was born. Now, over 190 countries around the globe take part in honoring the Earth, which is incredible, but there is still plenty more we can do this day and the other 364 days in our year. Earth Day offers an endless list of ways to celebrate and especially now, a time to reflect on how our own actions affect the planet we call home. 

One of the hardest things to do as humans is to look inward and recognize that we are part of the problem. Whether it’s accepting blame for hurting someone’s feelings or recognizing that we have made mistakes that cause serious ramifications, the truth is we are all human and all of us trip sometimes. It’s not entirely the mistake that we should linger on, but what we can do to correct it. Now that we are all staying home for the time being, it means most of us are not only stuck in the couch, but also stuck inside our heads. While that can be a scary thing, it’s not always a bad thing. We need to reflect on ourselves from time to time. Just like we call our friends and family to see how they’re doing, we need to ask ourselves those same questions. Are you okay? How are you sleeping? What can I do to help? 

That last question echoes and I decided one of the steps my family and I can make this Earth Day is take that one extra step to caring for our beautiful planet. We may all feel stuck at home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t step out into the fresh air and take a moment to appreciate nature. Side note, isn’t it amazing to see the planet healing while all of us cut down on waste and pollution? We are already doing so much for our health and environment by staying home but since it’s Earth Day, we can always take things a step further in the right direction. This year, my family is keeping it simple. We picked up trash around our neighborhood.  

It’s mind blowing how much trash ends up littered on the side of the road or in public parks. Just our neighborhood alone, trash always gets caught in the fence that separates our back yard from the small creek running through base. Cleaning up after ourselves is completely free and a great way to honor our Mother Earth, not just today but every day. This was also a fantastic learning experience for my nearly three year old daughter. This simple act not only teaches our children to simply not litter, but to teach them that we only get one planet. The energies that flow through us are the same energies that flow through the streams and the breeze that rustles through the trees on a warm spring day. When we take care of the planet, we take care of ourselves. 

1: Pick up trash.

2: Go for a walk.

3: A day of no driving, no pollution. If you are an essential worker and have to work on Earth Day, commit one of your days off to stay home or walk rather than go for a drive.

4: Make a donation to a charity dedicated to sustainability or animal preservation.

5: Recycle.

6: Invest in reusable bags for everyday shopping instead of using plastic. This includes the plastic one-use produce bags at the grocery store. 

7: Invest in reusable metal or silicone straws and reusable storage bags to reduce plastic waste going into the oceans and landfills. 

8: Subscribe to paperless bill pay/online payments.

9: Don’t leave the water running when washing hands or brushing teeth. We can potentially waste gallons of water by letting the tap run when we aren’t actually using it. 

10: Unplug electronics when not in use. It’s easy to forget about those small kitchen appliances sitting on our counter. Leaving your toaster plugged in all the time actually uses up energy even when you aren’t making delicious toasted snacks. This goes for phone chargers and other power cords around the house as well.  

BONUS for those who practice the craft: 

Earth Day is also a great time to gather elemental representation for your altar or meditation space right in your backyards or local parks/trails that are currently still open to the public. Stones and dried flowers are perfect to showcase earth. Bird feathers for air, and if you live close to the ocean, a small vial of sand and a seashell are classic representations for water. Fire is a bit harder to scrounge up in the wilderness but a simple candle is always a good choice. These are just a few items on a long list of options for your sacred space, and the most obtainable items I was able to obtain when enjoying Mother Earth this specific holiday. 

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Park bench photo by Kaboompics on Pexel.

Wood Light Vacation Picnic photo by Pixabay on Pexel.