Sunday, July 24, 2016

Itty-Bitty Tale - Nose In A Book

My dad had this habit of dragging us kids off to distant mountain ranges, with nothing but dirt, sagebrush and looming trees. On occasion we would camp near a stream and would spend our day panning for gold, which did spark moments of excitement, along with our metal detector findings.

However, without fail, no matter where we ventured, I made sure I had a book to read. Call it an obsession, but back in the cool days I didn't have an iPhone to stick my nose in, just my books.


Yes, this was typically what I did while camping. Don't laugh. Apparently, someone thought it was an excellent moment to capture on film...

#1980sSelfie
#booknerd
#loverofbooks

These days when I find one of my kids reading, especially when it's one of my books, my heart swells with pride. Maybe they will learn the love of reading and follow in their mom's footsteps.

Or something along those lines.

What fun adventures did your parents force you to go on? (Dad I'm kidding, promise!)

Cheers to the 1980 and 1990 book nerds. May your children be just as rad.

Swing on by my website and take a gander at my fantasy books...

NikiLivingstonAuthor.com

Until next time. Mwah!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Niki's July Book Recommendations

I have to say, reading is way too much of an obsession and if my eyes would just stay open like they did at age twelve, I would read all night long.  Over the years I have read hundreds, upon hundreds of books and if I had my way, I would have one room filled with books from floor to ceiling and cushy couches nestled in the middle. 

My own secluded library.  I may share it with my family... if they are nice.

As a fun, new addition to my blog, I thought I would give four book recommendations each month.  For now I will do it as one blog post, but I might break it up and do one book per week, with more information.

Don't forget, when you buy a book, the author is depending on your review once you have completed reading. It only takes a few minutes out of your day to stop by Amazon and Goodreads and let others know your thoughts.

BUY!  READ!  REVIEW!

Book One - The Summer Solstice Series

The first one is actually a series.  I finished the third book about a month ago, and now I am a loyal reader of this author, K.K. Allen. 


I LOVE these books and I think Disney should pay close attention to this author.  They would be an excellent new addition to their movies!

Here is my review for the final book, The Descendants:
I have been dying to read the last book of the Summer Solstice series for a few months now, and life finally handed me some time to sit down and enjoy the chaotic madness of Kat's life and adventures! I LOVE this book!!! K.K. Allen is a fantastic author and I am so pleased to have stumbled across her books.

Don't take my word for it. Buy the books and dive into the magical world that the author has so beautifully created! You will not regret it.
These are already on my list to buy for my eleven year old daughter, as her Easter gift next year (we are boring, books and treats are what my kids receive for Easter).  Don't let these books or this author's work pass you by!

You can find these on Amazon:

The Summer Solstice Series Amazon Link


Book Two - What Would Angels Do?

Have you ever been interested in learning about Angels?  If so, this is the book for you.  Crystal Doty has articulated a well thought out book, full of personal stories, explanations of the Archangels and how we can become more like these mysterious beings.


This author has things going for her.  I can see her ascending to positions in this world like Doreen Virtue and Dr. Wayne Dyer.  You don't want to miss her way to the top.

Here is my review of her book:
Wow! I am in awe of this book. Before I began reading, I did not know much about the 15 Archangels, but now I can understand why the author felt compelled to write about them. She has created a masterpiece full of engaging and intriguing ideas. She calls the Archangels our strongest allies and then proceeds to bring them to life, by explaining their missions and how we can be more like them, in order to create a better world for all. I am excited to read her future books and continue to educate myself on her teachings.
You can it on Amazon here:

What Would Angels Do? Amazon Link


Book Three - Spark of Magic

I have come across many exciting books, and this one is no exception.  The author keeps events fast paced and intense, which makes me only crave more.


This book is also a part of a series and I am currently reading book of the Chosen Saga.  J.L. Clayton is an entertaining writer and will spiral you down a number of unexpected paths, making you beg for more.

My review of her A Spark of Magic:
Once the story began to move forward, I couldn't put it down. I tried reading throughout the night, but my eyes were too tired, and had to finally put it down. I just finished today, and I have to say, I'm hooked.

The author did a phenomenal job with character development, and created a world I related to as a teenager. It was fun to careen back to that age and remember the crazy drama of my younger years! J.L. Clayton takes you down a wild ride, filled with magic, love, darkness and chaos. I highly recommend reading this book! I can't wait to read the next two books and find out more about Charlie, Crispin, Jace and Tru!
 
You can find this book on Amazon:

Spark of Magic Amazon Link


Book Four - Second Chances

If you want to plummet into an emotional roller coaster, filled with goosebumps, tears, loads of smiles, and a fistful of WTF's, this will be an excellent choice of reading.  Lincoln Cole is a genius and his writing style had me captivated from page one.


Take a look at my review:

Wow! Second Chances by Lincoln Cole, is a must read. From the first page, I was hooked, and anxious for more. I read whenever I had a moment, and was absolutely engrossed by the story. I cannot say enough fabulous things about this book. The author is sincerely a gifted writer, and has a way with words. If you are looking for a dynamically emotional story, filled with life lessons, this is the story for you.

It begins with a mother, looking for a better education for her younger children, which spirals into the struggles of her eldest daughter, and a man who forgot how to be outward focused. Beautifully written, I was enthralled by their lives and the reasons they all became who they were. Everyone has a story, and this book embodies that thought, along with learning to take responsibility for our own lives.

I cannot recommend this book enough! It is officially in my top ten favorites.
You can find this book on Amazon here:

Second Chances Amazon Link


If you have any questions about these books, the authors pages and contact information are also on Amazon.  Just click on their names and send them a message. 

Until next time!  Happy Reading!

XXXX - Niki Livingston

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Dear Fellow Humans

As a writer, I second guess everything I type onto social media, blogs, and even my books. I can spend days mulling over one paragraph or scene, wondering if it will be taken incorrectly or if it sounds the way I envision it in my head.

This post is no different.

Writing can lack expression, so I want to be crystal clear on my thoughts and feelings.

My heart is full of love and compassion for the people I share this planet with. At the same time, my heart grieves and aches for the lives we have so carelessly and maliciously lost this past week.

#BlackLivesMatter
#BlueLivesMatter

In many eyes, I am a white, privileged woman, who was born into an area where I was surrounded by abundance. I do not know what it is like to be truly in a state of poverty. Although I have been to the bottom of a pit, curled up in fetal position (literally), wondering if I will ever be able to climb back out, it was not the lowest pit in our world and this is something I recognize and acknowledge. My trials do not compare to what others in our world and nation have endured.

I have never walked in a store and been racially profiled. People do not walk by me and cling to their purses, partners or children. The fraction of racism I have encountered, is nothing compared to what black people are enduring, even in the 21st century.

I just want to say to all African Americans, I see you. I hear you. I BELIEVE you. And... I am on your side.

Today was the day I finally had my AH-HA moment. Yes, ALL LIVES DO MATTER. I agree! However, that is not the point. Right now there is a part of us that is hurting and that is why BLACK LIVES MATTER has become a movement. We are ALL in this together and just like a broken bone needs healing, we deserve to repair the damage we have done to the black people in our lives.

As well, let's support the men and women who put on their police uniform and serve and protect our communities. Let's teach our children to respect the ones who risk their lives every single day, on and off duty, to keep us safe. Yes, there are bad cops. No, they are not the majority. Respect goes both ways and until we learn and teach each other that ALL of us matter, nothing will change.

I refuse to sit by and wait to see what happens. I will do my part by NOT being silent. I am on the side of humanity and I want to change the way our world is functioning, reacting and responding to anyone who is different from themselves.

Together, let's discover a new way to make our world a better place. What we are doing now, is not working. We have the capability to step back, take a wider view and re-evaluate. Instead of reacting, we can act. Stand up for one another. Stop sitting back and expecting others to do the work. If every single person, stood up and said, "Enough is enough", I believe we will create a ripple effect that will have a positive impact for future generations.

No more lives need to be taken. No more violence needs to be acted upon. WE can make a change for the better and for once, really SEE each other.

I don't always have the right words and I don't always know what to say, but I'm here and willing to be a part of our Human Movement. I want our children to grow up in a safer world. I desire for us all to know and love each other as human beings.

I stand by my fellow humans.

Who's with me?

#BeTheChangeYouWantToSeeInTheWorld
#Peace
#Unity
#UnitedWeStand
#HumanMovement
#NoMoreHate

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Happy 4th of July America

Last night I reclined in my comfy camp chair, on the lawn of the courthouse in Steamboat Spring, Colorado and admired the awe-striking fireworks in front of me.

I listened to my tiny nieces words, who sat next to me on her mama's lap, "I like that one. I like that one. Mommy, do you like that one?"

Every single firework, had a commentary from her and it was adorable. She was memorized by the light show. Awe... to be a child again.

Last year, on the 24th of July, we moved into our new home. We had brought our cats over to the house and left them on our back porch. Honestly, I don't know what we were thinking. The 24th of July is Pioneer Day in Utah and therefore we have a plethora of fireworks lighting up the sky. As we were nearing our previous home to pick up a load of our possessions, the fireworks began to fill the sky and my thoughts immediately went to my two kitty-cats.

I knew they would not be home when we returned.

We never found my cats and it broke my heart. We searched the fields near the house, we delivered flyers to our neighbors, and we even visited pet jail, but to no avail. As the days turned into weeks, I felt my heart shatter a little bit more, knowing the chances of finding them was growing slim. They had been with us for seven years and were the sweetest, most loving cats I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

I blamed the fireworks. I was angry with the people who so recklessly shot up hundreds of fireworks across our little town. However, the only person I have to blame was myself. My negligence was the reason I no longer get to see my cats every day. I should have put them inside, knowing the new home and the fireworks combined would be too much stress for them. Although my son and I are both allergic, we could have tolerated a few days, allowing them to become familiar with their new home.

Flash forward to today and although I miss my kitties, I did enjoy the firework show last night. It was not the fireworks or the other people's fault my cats are gone. It is mine and I get to take responsibility, instead of passing the buck onto someone who was probably being far more responsible than I was. The fireworks are a symbol of our freedoms and I will not be the one to take away from that celebration.

That being said, I have to say, I am proud to be an American. I am thrilled to be a citizen of the United States of America. I stand in awe and quiet praise of the men and women who have given their lives for my freedom. I do not apologize for my citizenship or my love for my country.

No, I do not support war and I realize others do not think the U.S of A is the greatest country in the world. To me it is not a competition. However, THAT does not take away my pride. I am allowed to love the country I live in, without apology. I don't have to love the government and their idiotic and destructive choices, to still love MY country.

I grow weary of the vile and disgusting way other people demand that I feel guilty for loving my country. I am saddened by my fellow citizens desire to put down everything great this country has worked for to become a strong house in this world. We have divided on an immeasurable level and it frightens me to know where this path is taking us.

We are in an election year and unfortunately this brings out the absolute worst in people across the nation. We forget that we are all in this together and when we choose to divide, we only encourage others to find ways to make us fall. By our own making, we have delivered ourselves to the enemy and unless we pull our heads out of the sand, they will win.

I am a Humanist. I believe in doing good to all people. We have the capability of evolving and rising above the hate and greed and becoming a united people once again. Regardless of religion, gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. we can stand strong and put a stop to the leaders, the government, the loud and obnoxious voices, who are intent on dividing us into our separate SHEEPLE stations. Really listen to what these "leaders" are saying to us and then RESEARCH for yourself and use your own brain to decide if what they are saying is really worth the hate between one another.

I for one choose to rise above the hateful and vile comments. I AM better than this. And I believe everyone else out there, is as well. Let go of the desire to be right and realize this world is only going to become better if we stop acting like a bunch of entitled, spoiled children.

#BeTheChangeYouWantToSeeInTheWorld
#ProudToBeAnAmerican
#Happy4thOfJulyAmerica
#DontBeSheeple

Friday, July 1, 2016

Combating Stress

I am easily in a constant state of fight or flight mentality, every single waking moment (and sometimes while slumbering).  I didn't want to be here, in fact I never even saw it coming, until it smacked me upside the head and knocked me to the ground. Alas, it is my life and I have to find a way to get a grip on my stress.

A normal day for me goes like this:

6AM - Wake up, shower, wake up two teenagers, meditate (a new implementation), make-up, hair
7AM - Wake up my 1st grader, help him start the shower, finish getting ready and make sure he showers and gets ready, make his breakfast, pack his lunch and eat my own breakfast
8:20AM - Drop off my 1st grader to school and head into work
8:45AM - 3PM - Work in the office... which consists of everything and anything, along with my basic duties. Multiple texts from my two teenagers, asking for whatever their hearts are desiring. Fires to be extinguished (figuratively speaking, thank the gods), and so on and so forth.
3:25PM - Pick up my 1st grader from school
3:40 - 6:30PM - Work from home
6:30PM - Make dinner and eat
7:30PM - A variety of things can happen at this time, but usually I spend an hour to three hours working on my writing, book marketing or researching. If I'm burned out, I will watch TV.  I also find 15-30 minutes to work out, during this time, although there are weeks I am not as consistent with this. Before I go to bed, I usually read for 30 minutes to an hour and meditate for at least 10 minutes.  I would read until 3AM, but I no longer have that ability, considering 6AM arrives so damn fast.

Weekends consist of a mixture of events.  I work on my writing, book marketing and researching, but I also clean my house, run errands, work on other projects, yard work, laundry and blah, blah, blah... you get the picture.

This all sounds like typical life, so why am I complaining, you ask? I'm not...


What I AM doing is getting my shit together and finding better ways to deal with my life.

#1 - Mandatory Morning Meditation

To get a grip on my maddening stress, I implemented a mandatory meditation every morning for at least ten minutes. I have to do it. I am on the ledge, staring down at the terrain below and I would prefer to jump with a parachute, instead of free fall to my death.

During my meditation I envision how I would like my day to go. I put all my tasks in order, while calmly taking deep breaths. When I finish my mental daily task list, I spend the last few minutes thinking of the early morning ocean waves or sitting under a tree, high in the mountains after a fresh rain shower, and I allow my body to completely relax and remember who I am and what I truly desire in life.

Just this small change has deeply impacted how my days have gone. Although it remains a work in process, it has assisted me to focus more and has allowed my body the relaxation it requires.

#2 - For the Love of Life, Get Off Your Chair

Anyone who works at a desk and stares at a computer all day, will understand what I mean. When my back is slumped so far that a hump is emerging and my neck is officially turtle contorted, I have to stop what I am doing, stand up and walk away. Whatever it takes, I will find a reason to walk away. Bathroom break, walk around the building break, or finally go speak face-to-face with the co-worker in the next office, instead of picking up my phone and calling them break.

Even better, if you can afford a standing desk, buy one. I am saving up for mine, which will be for my home office and maybe someday I can talk the owner into buying me one for work. Or use a Yoga ball. Those things magically keep you on the straight and narrow.

#3 - Take Deep Breathes

I know, this is what everyone says to do. Because.. TA-DA... it works. When my children are on the verge of doom, I ask them to take a deep breath... or two.  Seeing red soon turns into a pale pink (and no, I'm not talking about my pasty skin). When my life suddenly feels impossibly chaotic and unorganized, I stop what I'm doing, close my eyes and take several deep and long breaths. Whatever that extra oxygen does to my brain, has held me back from saying sentences and words that should never be mentioned out loud... to anyone.

#4 - Work It

I can suck at this part, but when I do stay consistently active, my stress levels decrease and I suddenly feel like I can manage life once again. Usually in the evening I do something. Five minutes is better than nothing, and sometimes that is all I can manage.

#5 - Evening Ritual

I sit against my bed, close my eyes and relax every muscle from my shoulders and up. Then I do neck circles, stretching my neck muscles little by little. I spend 10-15 minutes stretching and massaging my jaw and neck and then another 5-10 minutes meditating and allowing my whole body to let go of the day. The best part of it all, I have been going to bed earlier and waking up feeling more refreshed and ready to conquer the new day.

#6 - Get Over Others Opinions Of Myself

Who cares what everyone else thinks. As long as I am being a decent human, other people's opinions are just that, their opinion. As I've become wiser in my increasing lifespan, I have arrived to a place where others thoughts and opinions of myself, don't mean diddly squat. If you don't like me, don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out of my life. I only want and deserve awesome, motivated and inspiring folks in my life, and if you are not here to add value to my life, then go find someone else to harass... preferably yourself.


#7 - Stop Reading The News And Comments

Do I really need to explain why this is imperative. Just stop. I did, for the most part (although every so often I get sucked back in). You will thank yourself, even when you are completely oblivious to our world's one-sided and half-truth news. People are assholes to each other over the internet. So just stop.

Just my thoughts on the subject. Stress bites. Everyone deserves some solace and peace in their lives and if my solutions assist others, then I say hip-hip-hooray!

#HappyEndOfTheWorkWeek
#StressBites
#LiveFree
#StayAwesome

XXXX - Niki