Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Living Rooms and DVR's

One of my favorite things about having a DVR (or TiVo) is that you can get a two for one deal with your monthly bill - free classes at the gym without the membership fee or expelled time of actually GOING to the gym. Allow me to explain.

One type of exercise I usually love to do is anything that requires my attention and listening to do the routine; Enter fitness classes. But as I said, I don't want to pay the fee, so ever since we started having the Direct TV service in our home, I've found a way to take advantage of the DVR recorder to file away tv work-outs I might want to try. For us, Channel 261 is nothing by Fit TV 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It features all types of exercise routines in a "class style" format just as if you were at the gym watching an instructor. The classes range from belly dancing to kick boxing and I love the variety it provides. (A great bonus for my fellow Out-of-Shapers).

Some of my favorite 20 minute workouts include:
1. Namaste Yoga - includes a warm-up, full routine flow, and a meditation cool down.
2. Core Max - floor exercise to shape and strenghten the core.
3. Shimmy - belly-dancing routines (Hello, ABS!)

Another favorite (which is slightly longer at about 45 minutes) is All-Star Workouts. It rotates routinely from kick-boxing to yoga, abs, legs, butts, hip-hop dance, etc. and the instructors are pretty legit. Sometimes they can be on the annoying side, but that's the beauty of MUTE. You can still get the work-out in without the fake "You're Doing Great!" comments while your clearly heaving in your living room with your hands on your knees.

Now for the best part. Although these episodes air on a regular schedule...who really wants to get up at 6am to catch a Namaste routine. NO THANK YOU. Just hit record and save all your favorite episodes to create your own personal archive of classes to attend at your convenience whenever you want.

Don't have a DVR? Go the old school route and throw in a video cassette or DVD and record. Rather than buying DVD's in the store, start making your own series and get more out of that monthly cable bill! You should be able to get the Fit TV channel if you have service with Time Warner, Comcast, Cox, Dish Network, Cablevision, or Verizon.

Fit TV is also associated with the Discovery Channel and has a great website for you to use for free as well. Currently, there is a 2009 National Body Challenge going on that only requires you to submit a short profile about yourself and then gives you great access to healthy recipes, a progressive weight loss plan made just for you by experts, weight and fitness trackers, and a suggested daily menu. And the best part...no gym. However, if you absolutely must use a gym, you can download a free pass to any participating Bally Total Fitness Gym as part of the challenge.

I just joined the Body Challenge this week under the Maintenance program. I don't really need to lose weight, I just want to tone and stay at the size I am through healthier eating, and daily exercise. My personal profile tracks my progress and shows exactly how many calories I will burn if I follow the suggested work-out provided. For example, my suggested work-out for today is for a Core Workout and is said to burn 152 calories if done to completion. An instructional video is also provided with every workout, just in case you don't know the warrior hold already or need some clarifcation on how the moves should look. Every move uses your own body weight and can be done in a 6' x 6' space...perfect for the living room! After two sets, I promise you'll be burning.

Click now and join me in the Challenge! We're only a few months away from that bikini!

Monday, March 30, 2009

My FF: Fitness Filosophy

Ok Step #2 - Total Body Crunch Time.

Since this certainly cannot be summed up in a single exercise post I have a feeling many of my April posts will be devoted to my take on fitness. And what is that you might ask? Well, here is my Fitness Filospophy:

"Doing the least painful and minimally exhausting activity to provide the maximum result in the shortest amount of time - while keeping me entertained."

As a former Division 1 college soccer athlete many people don't beleive me when I say I'm not a runner. They throw their heads back, roll their eyes, and mutter "Yeah right, quit fishing..." or something along those lines. But I PROMISE. Contrary to my thin frame and athletic background I am terrible at running and despise most fitness work-outs. I avoid treadmills. I hate gyms. And I don't believe in such a thing as a Runner's High, (I think it's just a mean lie that "runners" talk about to make us out-of-shapers feel even worse). The only way I'll get on a treadmill is if I haven't moved in days and I've just realized I finished the last pack of Oreos...that I bought yesterday.

So in place of this nasty little plague called running, I try to come up with new ways to exercise whenever possible. I really do enjoy the feeling of working-out, and I do appreciate a good sweat, but I just need to get there driving a different car. I need entertainment. I need variety. And I need exercises that don't give me reminders that I'm exercising. Like a freakin' side stitch.

Oh, and I don't want to pay money to do it. What a waste. You know I'm going to go right to Taco Bell on the way home from the gym and crack a bottle of wine after I work out. Sorry, but I'd rather spend my monthly membership fee on shoes. (Thank God my shoe size won't fluctuate quite like my pants might).

So if you're with me, and hate the run-around of the gym and those bragging high runners (wait, is that right?) stay tuned through April for more of my Fitness Filosophies. I'll keep you entertained, get you in a bikini, and we won't spend a penny; at least I'll try.

Disclaimer: You are willingly reading advice from an out-of-shaper. It's your own fault for listening to someone who gets winded on the stairs.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Good-bye Casper, Hello Dove

With the tulips sprouting outside and the cherry blossom trees blooming, a hint of spring is filling our Virginia air. And with the coming of spring comes the dreaded, horrifying, and inevitable bikini season...right on its heels. Although beach tanning and ocean swimming are still a good distance down the road, a few preparations must begin now to ready ourselves for the summer sun. My short list of Itty Bitty-Teenie-Weenie-Bikini To Do's is listed below.

1. Fake Tanning
2. Total Body Fitness Crunch
3. Plan a well-deserved vacation
4. Swimsuit Shopping

I put the tasks in this order (namely with swimsuit shopping in dead last) because who wants to face the mirrors pale skinned and soft with no foreseeable motivation?

So here we go. Today I will address my plan for Step 1 - Fake the tan until it's real. I did the whole tanning bed approach in college and after coming back fried and lobster-esque every time (not to mention having to endure lectures from my mother and grandmothers) I gave up on the bulbs. It never works for me, and I hate the cringe of my skin after a pricy (and fast) fry. I've also tried the fake tanning sprays, 1-hr dying creams, and the bronzers. But my new go-to this summer is a similar product only different.

I've come to love the Dove product Energy Glow; a gradual tanning lotion with subtle self tanner components. I use the medium to dark level and LOVE the way it smells. To me, it's the perfect combination of light coconut, vanilla, and mojitos...(ok the last scent is me day dreaming). Three small pumps is the perfect amount for a leg and one pump will coat an arm perfectly and evenly. Although JJ hates the smell and tries to throw me in the shower every time I use it, it gives me the best (and fastest) tan for only $4 a bottle. *Note: The same bottle has lasted me since the first week of February!

Another favorite product that most of my friends and family use is the Jergens lotion which does the same trick. While I think Jergens is OK and effective, I found a similar lotion that smells 10 times better. The Hawaiian Tropic Island Glow Daily Moisturizer comes in three skin tone shades just as Jergens does, but it uses more of the floral and fruit extracts which gives it a better scent and less of the fresh-out-of-the T-Bed smell.

A third tanner to try is the L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Lotion. This one contains an SPF of 15 within the lotion and provides more Vitamin E to help create smoother skin in addition to providing sun protection. I've found this product to be a low-maintenance friend and only requires an application once or twice a week to build a nice base tan.

Now, for those "I need a tan NOW" moments (last minute party invite, random 80 degree day, etc) my go to product is the Neutrogena Instant Bronze Streak-Free Foam (Level 2). This definitely has more of a dying effect as you'll be running around with a hint of copper within 10 minutes of applying and a full tan will show within 2 hours. I prefer the foam because (a) You can see it easier than a spray (b) It won't spray all over your bathroom floor (c) It dries faster and spreads more evenly. While it won't last for very long (ie: after a few showers, it's gone) try this bad-boy for those desperation moments and last minute penny-pinching stresses.

And of course, when all else fails...hit the spray-tan option at your local tanning bed. If you can hold your breath for a full minute and don't mind spitting up brown particles after it's over, it's another great option for a full week's glow. Try to cash-in on the pre-summer specials they might be highlighting as well. A single session often costs around $30, but for the savvy shopper you can usually grab a two for the price of one deal or somtimes 3 sessions for $40.
*Note: For all you blushing brides out there, avoid this option less than 3-4 days before your wedding. No one likes an orange bride...especially the camera.

Happy Tanning!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Greenies in Training

To begin, let me say that this post is entirely out of intrigue for the recent GO GREEN fads we're seeing everywhere - from tv shows, to magazine articles, radio shows, and celebrity trends. I understand it all, and I certainly see the benefit in "going green" and living a more sustainable life. But if you're anything like me, you kind of don't really know where to start. And I do feel bad sometimes. I leave phone chargers plugged in, lights on when I leave, and stare into the fridge for minutes at a time hoping something new will miraculously appear. Recognizing my faults, I'm trying to do better and be a little more proactive.

Several of my friends are Greenies, and they've inspired me to at least do a little extra research to support my self-improvement project. Baby steps people...I'm trying. Some things I can do, but others I just can't - for instance, I would love to shop for groceries with re-usable bags, but then what will I use to pick up the dog poop? Until someone can show me a biodegradable poop bag, it's plastic for me, please.

But I have stumbled across a few resources to get me started and here are few tips I've uncovered along the way. Perhaps they will help some of you GIT's (Greenies in Training), too.

Save at the Pump. Use the lowest speed on the gas pump trigger. The slower you pump, the lower the energy rate and fewer gas vapors are expelled. It will take longer to fill a tank, but you'll actually get more gas for your money. Also, try not to pump gas from a station that has JUST received a new shipment of fuel. Typically, the newer gas is filled with more dirt particles due to tank stirring - which is bad for your engine and gas mileage. Tip seen on the show Stuff Happens on the Discovery channel Planet Green.

Bag Re-Use. When you buy toilet paper, try to buy the double roll sizes and buy in more bulk. You'll be consuming less cardboard by buying fewer rolls but still receiving the same amount of toilet paper. You can also cut a small hole at the top of the bag, so that when you run out of toilet paper, you can re-use the bag as a bathroom trashcan bag (or a doggie bag on walks!) Tip taken from Green Living for Dummies.

Surf the Net. A great website I've found is associated with the tv channel Planet Green. This site is stuffed full of Green tips from fashion and beauty to container gardening, sustainable products, green recipes, volunteer opportunities, and re-use ideas for your old junk. It's a pretty good website for us beginners, and I recommend you browse it in your free time. A few of my favorites from the site:

- Healthy Green Dog Food Diets - Feeding Man's Best Friend

- DIY: Crafty Green Projects - Using scratch supplies

- Eco-Friendly Food Quiz - Test your trivia skills

- No Green-Thumb Needed - Gardening tips for all levels

There's something for everyone and any beginner can take a tip or two away from this. From skin care, to laundry, and travel & tech tips...browse for just a minute or two and you're sure to find some improvement you can make to be a better GIT.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Paying Uncle Sam

Taxes. Hate 'em, curse them, and wish April 15th had a different purpose in the calendar, but of course we all have to file, and we all have to like it. This year (as a newlywed) was my first year to file a joint return, and to be honest, the first year I've actually filed taxes myself. Not having the comfort of a family accountant and the blind satisfaction that Daddy had taken care of it, JJ and I had a few decisions to make on how to file.

We toyed with the idea of using another accountant in our area, but voted against it as the end of March was creeping quickly and we had a short list of zero contact names to work with. I also stopped through Best Buy and checked out the Turbo Tax software product but didn't have enough time to compare the various choices...(What's the difference between $19.99 and $79.99)? Finally, we decided the easiest and stress-free way to go was to enlist the help of an H&R Block agent in good ole Orange, VA; a decision I can't say I will endorse again next year...and here's why.

1. It cost roughly $200 for them to prepare our taxes; and our return was very simple. Enter the W2's, deduct for education, and post interests earned on bank statements and dividends. Not a big deal...but for $200 I'd like to think I could have done that myself with my own caluclator and pocket protector.

2. It took two hours. And worst of all...it made us late for a live basketball game; something JJ does NOT tolerate. Our Tax Associate, while seemingly educated and in the know, couldn't get our simple numbers to add up right for the first hour and a half which forced JJ to start playing bowling games on his phone, and me to repeatedly ask her if another manager in the store could give a fresh perspective: aka - hang it up lady...you ain't gettin it. Finally, she somehow changed a number and the whole thing added up correctly, but she had no idea why or how it happened. Glad we paid good money for a "professional" to have no clue.

3. It smelled like mothballs. The whole office. If you know anything about me...my nose never lies. I have very little patience for professional environments that are not clean, well-kept, and at least appear to be updated and sanitized. Now, I do understand we live in a small town, but when you're dealing with people's money, I'd like to think offices such as this would work a little harder on first impressions.

4. The inability to file taxes in two states at the same time. This little office was so small that no one on the staff was able to file our taxes in the two states where we lived this past year. Only one person came through once a week to visit the office and complete the out-of-state work which means I have to make another trip to get the second round of paperwork. No one in the whole office can do it? Again...must be the small town factor, but still. Driving the 5 miles again next week is more of an annoyance than a burden.

Although everything is now filed and off to Uncle Sam, JJ and I left more preturbed and frustrated than we thought we'd be. (He was going to miss the opening game announcements, and I really wanted my hot dog). And so we made the decision (as suggested by numerous friends) to look into Turbo Tax next year and pull up our pants to be our own accountants. If anyone else is curious about this software, here is what I've found:

1. The software comes in four different choices: Basic, Deluxe, Premier, & Home and Business. Each one builds on the previous level (Basic being the most...well, basic) and additional features are added based on the complexity of the return. Ex: if you are single and don't have many complications other than bank statements or an IRA, Basic might be for you. If you are married, bought a home, and have education expenses on top of two IRA's and bank statments, Deluxe would be a better choice). They even have a Help Me Choose page that allows you to select various categories to show you which option is best for you.

2. A Live Community support service is also available 24/7 for you to talk directly to a tax expert or Turbo Tax employee if you have any troubles along the way. Basically, think of it as an IM chat room for taxes. Just type your question into the conversation box, and an answer will appear to help you navigate the software or make a decision.

3. The e-File option allows you the same flexibilty as an H&R Block service to get your refund back as fast as possible. After submitting your return, you will receive an email notification within 48 hours, and your return can be directly deposited into your account within 8 days.

4. Discount opportunities are also available. If you file before Mach 27th using Turbo Tax, you can probably reap the benefits of a cheaper access fee (usually about $20 less than the original price). At H&R Block, I wasn't allowed to use my new customer coupon of $20 (even though I was a first time customer) just because my husand's family had used them the year before.

5. The overly informative website will also bring you a piece of mind that this is a legitimate service and one that will likely find you the most deductions. If you're still not convinced, ask around. I'd be willing to bet several of your friends use this service and have had positive results.

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed tax professional. These are my own personal opinions and observations and should not be considered professional advice.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pushing Resumes

Much of my motivation for starting to write on Nook Fiction came from two sources; my friends and my charming job title - UNEMPLOYED. First, let me be clear. I am entirely grateful to be in the position I'm in, as I did not get laid-off due to the recession like many of my fellow hunters. My husband and I (whom I will refer to as JJ from now on) have been very lucky in our living situation and have thankfully avoided many of the economic daggers. But I am a new graduate - fresh out of MBA school - along with the other 1.5 million 2009 college graduates in America. That's 1.5 million Starbucks drinking, subway riding, metropolitan bound, big ambition, 22 year olds all after the same jobs as me.

At age 25, you would think I should be at least a little bit ahead of the game compared to this group of hustlers, but after two years in a profession I'm not interested in and little experience outside of MBA papers and exams, I find myself back at square one and ready for a career change. After much research and too many failed scrolling attempts on big search engines, I've narrowed my search to three areas, Marketing, Public Relations, and Corporate Communications. All areas where I have no more experience than my 22 year old competition.

So far, I've picked up a few job search tips for myself and for anyone else who may be needing a little creativity in their seach.

1. Avoid the Big Boys. While monster.com, careerbuilder.com, and Yahoo! Hot Jobs all provide an enormous database of openings, everyone looks there! You are up against way more competition than you think. Rather than using them to find jobs, use them to find company names in your area. Once you find a few, google the company name and search for jobs directly from the company's website. Usually you'll find jobs that aren't even posted on the Big Boy sites.

2. Creep on Social Networks. I was told several times to use sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to talk to people and put the word out that I was looking. While I understand the value of networking, it's just too awkward for me to Facebook chat someone to ask for a lead with their dad's best friend from Idaho. Instead, I just creep around on these sites to again, search for new company names in my area. Often people will list where they work on their profiles and you can go search those sites for jobs. If you find something, you can always contact that person later to ask for advice or a good reference.

3. Chamber of Commerce. The location where JJ and I live is not exactly bigger than a 4 stoplight town...literally, there may be four....total. It takes us a good hour to get to any mid-major city, and even longer for the bigger metropolitan areas. Because of the commute, I search for jobs in four locations, Charlottesville, Richmond, Washington, D.C., and small cities in between. Once I find a location that is within reasonable distance I google the Chamber of Commerce sites to see who's listed in that city, then go to the company's website to search.

4. Do You Take Cream and Sugar? Go the intern route. Right now, as I search for opportunities in areas where I've never really worked, I keep in mind that internships are definitely not out of the question. Even though I have an MBA and I'm a bit non-traditional, I'm eager to find a spot at the bottom where I can learn it all...the basics, and hope for a full-time hire on position later. No job is ever beneath you...especially in these times.

5. Personal Inventory. Start a journal. In addition to my blog, I have also been keeping a journal that I write in to record quotes I've heard, new books to read, personal goals, etc. Journaling has helped me strip down to the bare bones of the infamous interview question - what are your strengths and weaknesses? I feel like I am JUST now starting to figure out who I am and what I want to do, and putting it all down on paper helps to show you what you're made of...or what you're not!

6. Embrace the Weekends. Job searching can take a major toll on your health: physically (hunched in front of the computer for 8 hours straight), mentally (will I ever find something?!), and emotionally (does anyone think I'm good at what I do?). But just because you're not working doesn't mean you don't deserve weekends, too. Chances are recruiters and companies aren't in the office on Saturday afternoon posting new job opportunties, so take this time to re-charge and relax. Stepping away from the search for a few days can help build motivation to dive back in on Monday, and it will take your mind off the unemployed shadow over your head.

Bottom Line: it's a rough world out there. Remember, it will take some time to find the right fit - especially right now. Our jobs become an enormous part of our life; our thoughts, our friends, stresses, and responsibilties. Stay patient and remain calm in the thought that everything happens for a reason at a reasonable time.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Calling All Righties

I am a righty...always have been. I'm right-handed and right-footed, I have right-wing values, and like that we drive on the right side of the road. As hard as I've tried to take more Louie's in life, I am a bonified Ralphie. I've tried to write left handed - failed. I claimed to have a left foot in soccer - failed. And I've worked hard to convince myself that I am a left-brained analytic - failed.

All through my undergraduate business classes and even this year through my MBA courses, I have had to strain to get the left-side of my brain to cooperate with me. I beg, plead, and hope that someday soon derivatives and the time value of money will click and become crystal clear, but alas, I am a righty. I think more creatively and in colors as opposed to black and white. In high school I used to have to dress up like my math teacher to make studying for a test easier...what lefty needs a costume to do math?

So I got really excited and relieved when I was listening to Oprah on XM radio a few weeks ago and she was interviewing the author, Daniel Pink, who wrote the book A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. Pink says that as we have moved through decades and different ages in our world (the Agriculture age, Industrial Revolution, Information Age, etc) we have increasingly relied on analytical skills to further us along with progress and innovation. But as technology has beocme so advanced and jobs are more easily automated and outsourced, Pink suggests a new age may be upon us in the near future - The Conceptual Age.

Although Left Brainers have thrived in the Information Age and much of the past, The Conceptual Age, according to Pink, will be dominated by the Righties. He suggests that this new Age for Right Brainers will come as a result of the three A's - Automation, Asia, and Abundance. My counterparts, the Left Brainers, have worked hard to boost technology so we can produce in mass consumption, do it faster and better, and cheaper...in Asia. With so many jobs and tasks being outsourced, those who will succeed will be the people who can apply emotion to logic, and design, stories, and empathy to now easy to copy jobs.

He also suggests that in this new time, the new MBA is the MFA...kind of like red may become the new orange in fashion. While I must disagree with this statement (now weeks away from my MBA graduation...thanks Pink) I do agree with his theory. In this turbulent time of lay-offs, recessions, outsourcing, and budget cuts people are asking themselves what they can do to remain valuable in their jobs.

Pink's advice - get to know the artsy, fluffy, space cadet side of your brain and figure out how to apply your creativity to your job. So you make toilet brushes for a living, eh? Well who wants an ugly brush by their toilet anymore? Make it pretty! Get creative and apply designs to a basic product. You say you only think in numbers, efficiency graphs, and dollar signs? Pink says to keep a design notebook with you wherever you go and record all the design elements in life that are good and bad. Learn about what works well and what doesn't to ultimately make your business more efficient and more profitable.

This is exciting news for us calculus drop-outs! Now more than ever artistic design, writing, thinking, and colorful business theories may just be more appreciated than the cut and dry number crunching skills...after all...can't someone in Asia make an automated spreadsheet?

Pull out your crayons and paint brushes Righties, and curl up with this intriguing, easy read by Daniel Pink. You never know, a whole new world may be looking for your whole new mind!

Friday, March 20, 2009

I have an addiction, sir!

I admit it. I love, love, love reality television.

I've never really thought I had a problem or an addiction as I still regularly tune into my favorite weekly sitcoms; Grey's, Desperate, Ugly Betty, Entourage. That is until I looked at my DVR list today. I can now officially say, "My name is (Nook Fiction), and I have a reality tv addiction."

I love it. I love them all. The Making the Band fights, the Real World Pranks, the MOVE THAT BUS tear jerking moments, and the most dramatic rose ceremonies...EVER. I can't get enough, and they're like my escape into someone else's ridiculous life. I feel like I know these people, and we were meant to be friends...please disregard the fact that they have no idea who I am. I have so many favorites I've had to use my friend's DVR just to record them all, (Thanks, ST). I'm embarrassed to do this, but admitting you have a problem is the first step...so here is my list:

The Biggest Loser, Making the Band (1,2,3,4), The Bachelor, Party Monsters Cabo, Project Runway, America's Next Top Model, The Apprentice, The Amazing Race, The Hills, The City, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Jon and Kate Plus 8, Ruby, Little People Big World, T.I.'s Road to Redemption, Run's House, From G's to Gents, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Here Come the Newlyweds, and Girls Next Door. (Whew....)

But my newest favorite is Running in Heels. It airs weekly on The Style Network, Sundays at 8pm, and it's fabulous. It's a reality show (obvi) following three up-and-coming fashion interns in NYC. They all three work at Marie Claire magazine and share an apartment together (the perfect ingredients for drama). The three "characters" include:
Ashley (Left) - rude, snotty, and over-confident city girl who will do anything to get her way and will crush you with her stiletto at the first opportunity. But never fear, she's two faced, too, so you may not always see it coming.

Talita (center) - she's SO L.A. Her puppy's name is Chanel (isn't that what every L.A. girl names her dog), and I'm pretty sure she's not the brightest bulb in the pack. She's really good at talking other people into doing her work for her.

Samantha (aka: Sam) - the midwestern girl-next-door who seems to get all the lucky breaks. Ashley and Talita gang up on her and try to make her feel bad for being the nice, polite, friendly girl. She's kicking their butts on the job (so far)!

It's The Devil Wears Prada in episodes and it's a definite one to tune into for a look behind the fashion world scenes...that is if your DVR isn't already full.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nook Fiction; It's in us all

We all have stories. The one about the time our best friend made a fool of themselves in public. Or the night you laughed so hard you cried. Or the morning after you got caught in a big fat lie.

Truth and fiction live in each and every one of us, and if you're anything like me, you're usually busting to tell someone about it. Over the years, I've found that each time a new story, a big change, a dilemma, a heartbreak, a choice, or a really great joke has presented itself to me, I run to the same place everytime to let it all out - and that place is The Nook.

We all have a Nook. For some of us, it's a place in nature where it's so quiet your thoughts ring as loud as a bullhorn. For others, it's your best friend's shoulder while you share a pint of ice cream with bad TV. It may be an old park bench next to the field where you played little league softball as a kid. And even still, it may be the solace of confiding in your four-legged furry companion. Whatever your Nook may be, it's the place you love to go with all the news in the world, and it's the place where you'll find exactly what you're looking for...

Throughout my life I've had the pleasure of finding many different Nook's. All of which have come in some of the forms mentioned above. I've sorted through many thoughts, and exaggerated many stories in the Nook at one time or another and I wouldn't change a minute of those moments for anything in the world. Some of my Nooks have been my college teammate's open arms and hugs, my parent's advice over coffee and sunsets, my husband's left arm that falls asleep while we watch TV, my puppy's big sigh when we share a pillow in bed, and the quiet stillness of my favorite rock by the lake, the creek, and the river.

As change has come and new beginnings have invited new endings in my life, several of my Nooks have become farther and farther away. But the stories keep rolling, and the changes...well they'll never stop coming. And someone needs to hear about them! So I now introduce you to my new Nook. My Nook Fiction. My thoughts, my stories, and my opinions all laid out here for someone and anyone to read. I'm glad that someone might just be you.

Welcome to my stories. Welcome to my Nook Fiction.