Sunday, 3 June 2018

New Adventures

After years over here, I finally decided to move over to WordPress. You can find me at 

https://elmariesenchantedlife.wordpress.com/

Please come follow me over there, and share in more of my wondrously Enchanted Life! :) 

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Book Review - Confessions of a Queen B*

*This is an unpaid for review, and the opinions herein are entirely my own. This review contains spoilers about the book*

I don't read nearly enough as I would love to, but my first book review for my blog is:

Confessions of a Queen B*, by Crista McHugh.
(image from Goodreads)

Let me start off by saying that this is not the type of book I generally read. My latest book obsessions have been more in the Dystopian / end-of-the-world genre, but life is a battle enough, without making my reading include constant battles for life, so I decided I need something more fun for a change.

Confessions of a Queen B* is not your regular teen drama.

Alexis Wyndham is not your regular highschool Queen Bee, she is the Queen Bitch. After being the object of ridicule from a horrible betrayal by her best friend, Alexis makes people quake with fear via exposés on her blog, The Eastline Spy. 

She spends her days fighting crusades against the in-crowd, saving poor freshmen from bullies, taking down a peeping tom in the girls locker room, and sparring with the head cheer leader. All she wants to do is get out of the hell hole that is high school. But, as fate would have it, she gets paired with the star quarterback for a group project, and her carefully built facade falls away. 
With the help of her best friends, flamboyant, comfortable-in-his-own-skin Richard who uses Justin Bieber as an insult, and tattoo-ed and pierced Morgan with a thing for older guys, Lexie has to re-evaluate her Mean-Girl-esque stance on life, and open herself up to showing compassion where it is needed.


Like I said before, I haven't read a book in this genre in a while, but I really liked this one. Crista McHugh offers up some quick and witty sarcasm, creates humorous views into the teen angst we are all glad we left behind, and the excerpts from The Eastline Spy are a fun and insightful way to begin each chapter. I sped through it, as the book kept me wanting more, but the end did seem slightly rushed. 

All in all, I give Confessions of a Queen B* by Crista McHugh a rating of:

By the way, are you on Goodreads? Please add me as a friend

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

The Games People Play - Little Odd Galaxy

*All the views expressed here are my very own, without compensation from the developers*

Changing the way I think about my blog, means changing the things I blog about. So, I give to you, the first of a feature called 'The Games People Play'. And by 'People', I mean me.

I download new mobile games around 5 days a week. It sounds crazy, I know, but usually I only try a game out for a few minutes before deciding it's not for me. Other times I am instantly hooked.


(screenshot)


My current obsession is Little Odd Galaxy, a Match 3 puzzle by Korean based Ninecats Games Inc. This is their first mobile game release, and follows the adventures of Oddry as he defeats Eggmonina and the cute aliens who stole his carrots. 
(screenshot)

As Match 3 games go, there is nothing new about the concept with Little Odd Galaxy, but the cute graphics and easy game play were a big draw card for me. It's the type of game that I find myself not 'thinking' about - I tend not to be good at strategically planning my moves in Match 3 games - but my brain enjoys the rest! That said, I have encountered levels that take me up to 10 tries to get through. No complaining here though!

The developers added a 'board game' element to certain levels, where matches next to white dice tiles move Oddry around the outside of the board to reach the goals. Its a fun addition that ups the challenge factor, and one that I find myself looking forward to on new levels. The game design also includes little gems like this smiley face waiting for you on level 119:

(screenshot)

Game play also includes a daily spin, which gives you the chance to to win important boosters, coins and extra lives. Every 5 completed levels also allows you to unlock a special chest, filled with bonuses to help you along your quest.

Ninecats Games made Little Odd Galaxy completely free to play (optional items can be purchased in the app), and without any annoying ads to disrupt your playing time, you should be able to fly through the levels. Luckily, they promise new levels to be released every week.

Overall, as fun, easy to play games go, I thoroughly enjoy this one, and give it a 3.5 / 5 rating. Well done to Ninecats Games Inc, I can't wait to see your next release.

Join in the fun HERE for Android, and HERE for IOS.


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Working Mamma Miseries

Let me start this off by saying I love my job! Even when it drives me crazy (thanks to my tribe for always listening without complaining!). Yes, there are times that I have to rush back to the office with both boys to print and sign important documents. Yes, I have had to sit at the hairdresser doing work on my tablet. Yes, I have had to do emergency invoices while at my cousin's wedding. But I love my job.

I am so grateful to work for a company that understands that, above all, my kids come first. They let me go without questions when I get urgent phone calls from school. They let me leave the mine early so that I can make it back to town on time to collect my son from rugby. They give me the freedom to come and go as I need to, to make my own hours, as long as my work is done. And I love it.

 I love my husband with my whole heart (Hi Liefie!) But he doesn't have anything to worry about if he needs to leave the house early, or has to work late. He knows I will be there to keep things running at home.

But being a working momma is hard y'all!

It's a constant battle. It's waking up super early so that I can have a quiet cup of coffee and do my makeup before the rest of the world wakes up. It's 5am Pilates classes because I need to get some exercise in and that is the only time I have for myself. It's a persistent gnawing fear that my children need me to be more present for them during the day. It's googling dinner ideas and project research while punching the days figures at the office. It's clock watching and planning what time I need to leave to make it to the rugby match or the karate practice on time. It's my son doing homework until 9pm because mommy was busy with dinner and dishes and his younger brother and couldn't help him when he needed it. It's hardly having time with my husband, because our daily lives are so rushed, that I fear we are living past each other. It's falling into bed too tired to string a conversation together.

It's a constant inner war. Am I dropping my boys by not being there to pick them up from school every day? Am I being disloyal to my employer for putting my family first?

Am I a bad mother for not wanting to be a stay at home mom? I so envy those 'put together mommas', the ones with an entire car load of children, who each take 5 extra mural activities, who are on the PTA and SGB, elected for every committee, hand baking cupcakes for bake sales. The ones who never look as though they are inches from a nervous breakdown ( I mean they must be, right? They just never look like it). But I know myself.
I know that I need to feel needed, to feel as though I am making a real contribution. I need adult conversation. I need to feel as though I am not financially dependent on my husband. To make my own money.

There is so much pressure on us, as women, as wives, as moms. Pressure to be all, to be everywhere, to be everything to everyone who needs us. But I think the most important thing for us all to remember is that we are a team. We are all fighting our own battles. We all have enough drama going on without being judged and ostracised for our actions and feelings.We need to reach out, to form deep and meaning connections with other moms, other women, who we can be ourselves with and who have our backs.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Rebirth of a blog

Wow.... I couldn't even remember my log in details for here. It has been far too long since I have written anything!

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about restarting my blog (maybe even moving to a new platform if needed). My first thought was 'I don't have time', as I think most of us feel. But that simply isn't true. Just today, I spent quite a few hours lazing on the couch, Facebook surfing and binging on Netflix with my boys. This post could have been written long ago, if I just lifted my butt off the couch and got it started...

My next thought was 'I'm a different person than I was when I started this'. Isn't that a blessing? That we change? That we grow? I am so glad that I am not the same as years ago...

Lastly, I thought about my writing... I thought about my voice, about what I have to say, about who I want to reach. I realised that, while I started this blog with the best of intentions, my motive was wrong. I had these high and mighty dreams of reaching out to unknown people, about inspiring them and changing their lives.

I was writing for the wrong audience. It was so difficult to push myself to keep this blog going, when I was battling with anxiety and depression. I have a bad habit of starting things with a bang, and then letting them frizzle out. I think this blog was one of those bad habits. I was writing for other people, not for myself, and it made it difficult to keep up. I feel as if most of my posts were fake, as though I was lying to my readers and myself. There are so many raw emotions that I kept hidden, so much silence, in order to preserve this image I was trying to portray. Life is ugly, and difficult, and exhausting, and I feel as if I wasn't honest about that.

That stops now. I am fooling no-one by the image I was trying to show. I am loud, and emotional, and weird, and slightly crazy. I fail as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter and a sister, as a person, on a daily basis, and if I want this to be a true portrayal of my life, then I need to get real about it.

I am going to try, to spend these moments writing about my life, about what I love, about the battles I fight. I am not going to make grandiose promises about posting every day, because it will not always be possible. But I am going to promise to try. To do my best. Because that is all, as a human, that I can do.

Phoenix image

Lots of Love
Me

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Trust

Trust...


Such a little word, isn't it? But with such big implications.

As a child, we just kinda 'know' that our parents will be there to care for us, to feed us, bathe us, catch us when we fall, wipe away our tears. This simple understanding lays the basis of our trust relationships throughout our lives.

For most of us, our first experience of broken trust comes on the school playground: a harsh word spoken by a friend, a promise broken, a secret revealed. But, for most of us, these instances teach valuable lessons regarding friendships, respect and integrity. Even in these difficult times, we find a lesson to learn.

The most painful lessons in broken trust come from the people we care most about. One bad relationship can ruin our ability to trust for years. And if the person we finally open up to, betrays our trust again, well then chaos generally ensues.

Making the decision to try rebuild a trust so deeply broken is not one to be taken lightly. It takes hard work and commitment from both parties. However, I have come to realise that sometimes we need to let go of the fear ad worry for our own benefit. By clinging on to whatever happened, we are merely allowing that fear to dictate our lives. Sometimes, you need to forgive someone, not because they deserve forgiveness, not because you think what they did is right, but because you deserve peace.

For someone with anxiety, that is often easier said than done. We overanalyse, overthink, expect the worst. But, especially in my specific case, I think the person deserves a second chance, and I know, more importantly, that I deserve peace.

Monday, 13 March 2017

The last 6 months in a nutshell

Half way through March... How did we get here? Why does my December visit to my dad feel like it was a life time ago? How have our lives become such a crazy rush from one day to the next?

The last six months have been intense... I have cried and wished and fought harder than ever before. I have experienced some of the highest highs and lowest lows of the past years, but through it all, have continued to learn important lessons about life, about myself, and about the people around me.

In October 2016, I had a big health scare. I spent a week so ill I didn't want to leave the bed, and to make matters worse, J was sick that whole week too. Knowing he felt as cruddy as I did, I felt so sorry for the poor little guy! In between us all being ill, I had to pack up our flat, and prepare for the big move into a new house with E. We went from our little family of 3, to a full family of 4. Getting used to sharing 'my' space with someone was a challenge in and of itself. And to crown off that week of sickness and stress, I walked into the office on Monday 31 October, only to be told that I was being retrenched. It felt as if the ground had been torn out from under my feet, and it was the beginning of a very bad downward spiral for me.

Luckily, with the help of friends, family and E, I found a new job within a little over a week, and I started working again less than 2 weeks after being retrenched. But, some times I get reminded that nothing in my life ever comes that easy. That weekend, I learnt a very hard lesson about trust,forgiveness, and inner strength. I can look back now and realise in what bad shape I really was during those weeks and the weeks that followed.

You see, I suffer from anxiety and depression. I replay scenarios in my head for months, even years after they occurred, analysing my every move and word. I practice phone calls and conversations in my mind long before I even open my mouth to say a word. I worry about things that probably will never happen. I jump to the worst possible conclusion whenever I am unsure about what is going on. I spend hours analysing who said what and how they said it and what people think of me and if I'm good enough and if I tried enough and what if no-one loves me and what if people aren't pleased with me.... If I'm being a good enough mother, a good enough girlfriend, a good enough daughter and sister and friend and employee. There is a voice in the back of my mind that never shuts up... I hear it gossiping about me, wondering about how I'm shaping up compared to other people, guessing if I'm good enough to be wanted, to be needed, to be accepted. I avoid confrontation, to the point of allowing people to emotionally, mentally and verbally abuse me. I get myself so worked up, that eventually I can't breathe, that my heart races and my palms sweat and my scalp crawls. I take calming tablets before going to events where people might be looking at me. Although I 'like' people, the idea of introducing myself to someone new and striking up a conversation gives me heart palpitations.

I don't talk about it, very few close friends and family know, and I grew up being told that mental illness is 'all in your head'. Reaching out and getting the help I needed was tough, it still isn't easy. Looking back now, I don't think I've ever been in such a dark and ugly place in my life before, and the idea that I could so easily spiral back into that dark void of nothingness fills me with horror. In truth, publishing this post fills me with horror, but that's the point isn't it? To unashamedly write what I'm thinking and feeling, to stop caring so much about what people think, to spend more time doing what makes me happy.