Saturday, September 27, 2014

Don't make me choose!

"I was born with a reading list I will never finish."

When I tell people I am an English educator, they always comment on how much I "must love to read" (kind of a given in my profession, but thank you for stating the obvious). Then they proceed to ask, What is your favorite book?


Asking an individual with an English degree what his/her favorite book is is just downright maddening. Don't make me choose! I love to read, and as such, I have categories of favorites (not just "one," as many seem to think). This post is for all those who have found themselves in a similar position, and for those of you who may be looking for something new to read. As such, I present my categories of favorites (and these aren't all of them, as that would be a long post):

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Can Music Save Your Mortal Soul?

Now do you believe in rock and roll, can music save your mortal soul, and can you teach me how to dance real slow? - Don McLean

I was recently at Barnes & Noble (yes, I know, big shocker there) and thanks to my current nonfiction reading interest, I picked up a new title: This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of A Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin. I am just starting it (book review to come in a few weeks), but it is making me reflect on my own musical upbringing. I figured, what a unique and different topic for Certainly Candid! So here I am writing to you today. As I know I have many musically inclined readers out there as well, I present my own background:
A Case Study, or, Can Music Save Your Mortal Soul?
Music has always been a big part of my life. While I played many instruments, piano has always been my first love since I started private lessons at the age of seven. It is a versatile instrument that can shine as a solo or accompany others. In high school, I would spend my study hall time down in the music department. I knew which practice rooms held the pianos that were out of tune, or had sticky keys, or the coveted new replacements for ones that had finally broken down. Nine times out of ten, I could be found in front of the black and white keys with my sheet music.
It did not matter what I played. It often depended on my mood. Sometimes it would be the rigorous classical pieces my piano instructor had assigned. Sometimes it would be jazzy Broadway tunes. If I was in a contemplative mood, it would often be Lorie Line arrangements.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dancing with Dragonflies

"I almost wish I hadn't gone down that rabbit-hole — and yet — and yet — it's rather curious, you know, this sort of life! I do wonder what can have happened to me! When I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!" —from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Curiosity is a curious thing (see what I did there?). Defined as the desire to know or learn about anything; inquisitiveness, its etymology stems from Latin, Middle-English, and Anglo-French. Curiosity is part of biology and a quality that many species possess.

For today's post, I once again present a case study:
A Case Study, or Dancing with Dragonflies
During my time living on a farm, our cat had free reign over our expansive yard. He loved following my sister and I around on our escapades through the surrounding shelter belt of trees.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

If I Stay

I try not to jump on the bandwagon of books turned movies, but today I am going to make an exception for Gayle Forman's If I Stay. I recently reread the novel in preparation for the movie, but I first read this book long before movie rights were negotiated. It was published in 2009 and the movie has come out now, five years later (I included the movie edition cover of the book, just so that more people would recognize it - the original cover is just as beautiful).

What initially captured my attention about this book is the strong emphasis on music. Music has been a part of my life since I was a little girl (I took piano lessons starting at age 7, but that's a post for another day), much like Mia's connection with her cello in If I Stay. Secondly, Gayle Forman writes with strong imagery. I have read a lot of books over the years, and she is one of few that can really paint a colorful picture of what is happening in my imagination.

Now, about the novel. Mia is born into a musical family. Her dad was in his own band, but left it to be with his family. Mia has one younger brother, Teddy, whom she adores. The story, however, pivots around her relationship with Adam, a suave rocker she meets in high school. Mia considers herself to be the misfit of the family, the only one interested in classical music and her own love of the cello. It is surprising to her when Adam captures her attention, but their relationship grows in a unique way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Mad Ones

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars." - Jack Kerouac

I have interesting conversations with a lot of different people wherever I go. My friends and family are included in this, yes, but so are the random discussions I have with people I've never met before. People like the elderly lady who asks for a second opinion on which brand of frosting to purchase at the grocery store. The funny cashier who never fails to make me laugh when I pick up my morning Starbucks. The bookseller at Barnes & Noble who suggests new novels to read. 

These conversations are ones that stick with me over the years. Call it fate, divine intervention, whatever you like, but I firmly believe that these interactions help us in our everyday lives.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


"I saw the bomber. He took my legs, but he didn't break me. He only made me stronger." -Jeff Bauman

It is time for another book review. I know it has been a while, but it hasn't been for lack of reading. I have been reading a lot lately - Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, a reread of Gayle Forman's If I Stay (in preparation for the movie, of course), On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and countless others.

I chose Stronger by Jeff Bauman as my title for review. I am currently in an autobiography and biography phase, so I'm reading a lot of nonfiction lately. Bauman's memoir is powerful. Incredibly powerful. His writing is open, honest, and raw with emotion.

For those of you unfamiliar with his story, Jeff Bauman was present at the bombing of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Bauman had attended to cheer on his girlfriend, Erin, near the finish line. He was standing right by the bomb when it went off, resulting in the horrific loss of both of his legs. He writes about facing death, about his rescue, and ultimately, the peace he worked towards during his ongoing and continual rehabilitation.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Memoriam

Take a moment of silence to commemorate the lives of those who died on September 11, 2001.

Thirteen years ago our nation suffered one of its worst attacks on American soil: the tragic collapse of the World Trade Center, the destruction of the Pentagon, and the loss of lives on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania.

We need to take a moment to reflect on how so many lives changed on that infamous day. We need to recognize the loss of innocent lives, the loss of brave souls who responded to the emergency, and help those who survived. 

We must never forget.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Perpetually Chipper

I get easily excited about things I love. I hum a lot. I have a tendency to be zealous about trying something new. I am a morning person and super chipper at 7:00AM. During my first year of teaching, I would greet my period 1 class enthusiastically to the point where one of my junior girls snidely remarked, "Ms. Edwardson, you are like the most cheerful person in the mornings. Ever. I have a hard time around happy people before 10:00AM. Just an observation." Thank you very much, student of mine. I will take that as a compliment, even if it wasn't intended as one.

I realize that not everyone is like me. Not everyone is perpetually chipper, and over the years, I've had people tell me that it grates on their nerves when I am "so positive about everything." Their words, not mine. Let me be clear when I say this:

I will not apologize for being my own person.

I am not perfect. I have days where I could give Grumpy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a run for his money. I try really hard to turn my perspective around before the day is out, because nobody likes perpetually bitter people. I don't, anyway. I try really hard not to take my emotions out on others - they could be having a day that is worse than mine.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Just a Different Kind of Confidence

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." -Neale Donald Walsch

The word confidence has roots in Latin and French. From the Latin root "fidere" meaning to trust, the word confidence is certainly a loaded word. It is defined as "belief in oneself and the power of one's abilities."

People often forget that confidence comes in many forms. We cannot simply wrap up a person's qualities in a box, tie it with a bow, and put them in a certain category. It does not work that way at all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Giveaways!

Update: the first giveaway has been extended to Saturday, September 13 at 11:59PM Central Time.

Who doesn't love a good giveaway? 

In order to encourage readership and participation from you, my lovely readers, and broaden my audience, September is my month of giveaways! There will be one giveaway a week, for a total of four giveaways this month. Thanks to some wonderful sponsors, I have some really great items for you this month. Here is how the giveaways will work:

1. You can have your name entered in the giveaway drawings more than once. In order to have your name entered, you can do any (or all!) of the following:
Participate via Blogger:
  • Subscribe to Certainly Candid via email (this is done right on this site!)
  • Share Certainly Candid via Google+
  • Comment on any post on this site (one comment per post, please, and keep it topic relevant)
Participate via Facebook:
  • Like my Facebook page (this can only be done once)
  • Invite your friends to like my Facebook page (for every friend of yours that likes Certainly Candid you will get your name into the drawing - and so will they!)
  • Share my Facebook post links in your news feed
  • Comment/like Facebook links to posts (only one comment per post, please, and keep it topic relevant)
Participate via Twitter:
  • Follow me on Twitter (this can only be done once) @CertainlyCandid
  • Retweet my posts to your followers (each retweet equals one entry)

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