New Habits

Every year, I always tell myself I am going to write more. Somehow I seem to fall short a few months into the year. This year, 2014, I feel it is going to be different. Now I have three blogs going and am back in school, I have more passion in my life. The environment I have chosen to be in cultivates the habit of writing and learning and general curiosity.

On a friend’s Facebook page, she mentioned a site called 750 Words. I wish I had heard about it two days sooner! The premise of the site is that you are to write at least 750 words a day. No one (but the site admin, I assume) has access to what you write, so you can write whatever you want. Some people use it to help with their writing skills, others use it as a therapeutic tool, and some use it to get their creative juices flowing. I am so grateful to have found this site! Within half an hour of signing up, I was able to write almost twelve hundred words (I’m not a fast typer, I just have a lot to say).

For any of you who are creative in any way, please use this tool! It is a great way to help break up any blockage you may be experiencing!

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Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2014 be an amazing year!

Let me give you the most traditional poem/song that is played when the year changes, sang by a Scotsman himself:

Auld Lang Syne, if sung by the right person, always gets me misty eyed. Robert Burns did well.

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Bucket List

I’m nearing 32 and I haven’t created a concrete bucket list. So, here goes! This is just a small list. I will add to it when I get more ideas!

  1. Travel to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.
  2. Complete a sprint triathlon.
  3. Live on a farm.
  4. Have my own vegetable/fruit garden.
  5. Spend a month in New York City, writing & photographing every single day.
  6. Travel to Greece & Turkey.
  7. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
  8. Hike around Corsica.
  9. Throw a dart at a map and travel where ever it lands (unless it is the middle of the ocean).
  10. Visit all 50 United States and Puerto Rico.
  11. Drive across USA diagonally from Southwest to Northeast & Northwest to Southeast.
  12. Speak with everything but my physical voice for a week.
  13. Take at least one class at ACT.
  14. Audition for 3 plays.
  15. Do a volunteer vacation.
  16. Host a 100% vegan dinner for 30 people.
  17. Write a novel and/or collection of short stories.
  18. Complete a paralegal AA.
  19. Attempt to take the California State Bar.
  20. Run a bookshop/cafe.
  21. Have writing published.
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Anxious Playback

She scraped the ladle against the side of the deep set pot of soup. “I’m glad she’s eating,” I thought to myself, “but my god, I wish she’d stop with the metal against metal.” Each ding and scrape, my blood surged and crept a degree higher until the moment she dropped the ladle back into the pot and sealed it with the lid.

“Right, I need to go for a run,” I told myself, “Now.”

I strapped on my neon blue running shoes, grabbed my iPod, and snuck out the side door. For the first mile, I walked faster than usual and had a conversation with myself. I’m not lonely, not schizophrenic. The metal on metal just made my spine hurt and I was hanging from an anxious, thorny branch. Someone needed to talk me down and I am the only one who knows how.

As I turned into the school grounds, I slipped my earphones in. The sound of my own painfully anxious thoughts were subsiding and I was ready to hear something pleasant. Portishead’s self titled album made the cut. “It’s so jarring,” someone once said when I played it for them. Not to me, never.

While I escaped into the sound of the greatest trip-hop album ever made, I ran. I ran the perimeter of the high school. The bleachers were calling my name and I managed a few. Then, I began to run around the track. Fifty minutes later, I had run the entire length of the album, so I stopped. In silence, I stood on the cushiony track and stared at the new scoreboard some generous alumnus donated. My breathing was steady and hard. The crisp winter air made my sweat prickle against my forehead. My lips curled up in a smile and I began to laugh the way I did when I was young. The loud, full bodied laughter filled the air and echoed off any surface it could find. The metal against metal, the self conversation, the Portishead, and the silence, they lead me down a happy path. I was happy… And I knew it, and I clapped my hands.

[By Ellie McHale, Inspired by Daily Prompt]

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Where In The World?

Actually, where in cyberspace??

I just wanted to update everyone on my social media presence. When you have a moment, please take a gander and hit like or follow or subscribe!

DJ Toaster Biscuit on Tumblr
Ellie McHale on Instagram
DJ Toaster Biscuit on Facebook
Ellie McHale Photography on Facebook
DJ Toaster Biscuit on Twitter
LoveNugget on Twitter
Ellie McHale on Bloglovin’
Ellie McHale on Kickstarter
Ellie McHale on Etsy
Ellie McHale on Klout
Ellie McHale on Linkedin

Also, please swing by my two other blogs I seem to post more often at:
DJ Toaster Biscuit
Daily Ellie

The more followers, likes, subscribers, etc. I get, I’ll actually start posting vlogs on my YouTube channel! The channel exists, but there’s one embarrassing video. If you’d like to actually hear & see me talk, support me these other ways! And I am always open to suggestions as to what you’d like me to write & talk about.

Thank you!!!

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Goals!

In a previous post, I discussed doing a feminist reading challenge. Please check out the post to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.

So, guess what? I failed to complete it. I didn’t even pick up one book off the list. Sure, I decided to start the challenge in August just before embarking on a full course load for my paralegal program.

Anyway. I’ve decided to transfer the challenge over to 2014 and add a few books to the list. I shall challenge myself to read 10-12 feminist themed books.

The books I hope to read (or reread) are:
1. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
2. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
3. Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
4. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
5. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
6. How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran
7. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
8. Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
9. How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez
10. Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
11. Fear of Flying, Erica Jong
12. Bastard Out Of Carolina, Dorothy Allison

So, there you go. There is my list. Luckily, I own most of these books, so I don’t have an excuse to not read them. And, I officially have 13 months to get them read. Between quarters I’ll devote time to reading for pleasure. And, while school is in session, I’ll reach for a book instead of Netflix as a treat for finishing school work. My brain needs exercise, right??

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Day In The Life: Day Off

This is what a typical day off looks like for me, although some days, I find myself with more to do.

DJ Toaster Biscuit

It’s Monday and I’m lucky to have the day off. That is a pro (or con?) of working retail. Yesterday, I visited a friend in Morro Bay and good chunk of my day was driving.

Today, I’m taking it easy, especially as this time next week I will be back at school with a full load of classes.

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I woke up at 9.45am and grabbed a cup of coffee while I decided what to eat for breakfast.

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I decided on a couple pears and some cheese. Good carbs, calcium, and protein!

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I sorted through the Sunday papers and picked out the sections I like. I’ve got some good reading to do. My two notebooks I use for new words I come across & ideas I get for creative writing and blog posts.

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Afternoon tea and cookie. So good!

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I love these glass jars I got from Urban Outfitters a few…

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50 Facts About Ellie, part 2

Some of you may have snuck over here from part 1 of this list featured on Daily Ellie. If you haven’t and would like to take a look at it, please do! Things might make more sense if you do, although I’ve tried my best to keep things fairly random.

  1. In high school, my favorite band was The Black Crowes. I still love them and am kicking myself for not figuring out a way to catch one of their gigs on this tour. However, a few years ago, a friend had a spare ticket to The Black Crowes & Tom Petty at the Berkeley Greek. I happened to be available that evening. It was a phenomenal evening & I am happy I got to see TBC live. [I’ve seen Tom Petty live I few times, but he’s still amazing.]
  2. One of my first concerts I went to was Tom Petty when I was six or seven. My parents are very hip & were happy to bring my brother and I along to concerts when we were children. I remember two people with really long silky hair dressed in leather pants & vests dancing in the aisle next to us. They must have seen how into the music I was and invited me to dance with them. My parents were completely fine with that invitation, so I joined them and danced my tiny six (or seven?) year old bottom off. I remember having the time of my life.
  3. When I’m having a hormonal few days, I’ll eat one or two teaspoons of coconut oil before bed. The taste is soothing and my bad food cravings diminish.
  4. I love the smell of coconut. I love the taste of coconut water & coconut oil. But, I’m not a fan of most dishes prepared with coconut meat or coconut milk. I’ve found I’m still on the fence when it comes to Thai cuisine because of that fact alone.
  5. I was born in London, am still a UK citizen & a US Permanent Resident. My mother is first generation Irish-English. My dad is half Irish, half English. My paternal grandfather (who is Irish) was born in Agra, India and spent the first couple years of his life there.
  6. I want to visit India because of the fact my grandfather was born there. There are a few things stopping me. Mainly, I can’t afford the flight to and from India. Also, I wouldn’t know where to start or what to do. I don’t want to go there alone. I’d rather visit with two or three other people I know well, one of whom who has travelled throughout India or is a native of India.
  7. My top five favorite movies are:
    Bonnie & Clyde
    Singin’ in the Rain
    Boys On The Side
    Fried Green Tomatoes
    The Wizard of Oz
  8. I miss the hustle & bustle of London. I also get nostalgic for London circa mid-90s. That was a rad time, especially Camden. I’d love to live in Camden for awhile.
  9. I’d love to work for Ren Skincare. It’s such a simple and straightforward skincare line that offers amazing results. No, they aren’t paying me to say that, otherwise I’d actually be working for them!!
  10. I’ve finally chosen a degree. I am pursuing an AA in Paralegal Studies. My goal is to power through all of my required classes and be done by August next year. When I’m done, I am going to take a month or two off and travel around Europe going North West to South East. I’ve accumulated enough airline miles to get me between the US and Europe, so all I’ll have to worry about is lodging and food. Soon, I’ll start doing some research & chatting with friends who’ve done a lot of traveling.
  11. If I could stand the nitty gritty of veterinary school & everything else being a doctor entails, I’d probably be a licensed veterinarian by now.
  12. My parents got me in a swimming pool as soon as they got the okay, creating a major water baby. I don’t remember learning how to swim. In my active memory of my entire life, swimming has always been a part of it. I used to scare people when I when I was really young. At three or four, I’d take off running into the pool. Moments later my head would pop up & I’d paddle around giggling. It took me years to realize that not everyone knows how to swim. I’d always assumed that swimming was innate. Working as a lifeguard & swim instructor, I enjoyed teaching young children water safety and developing their swimming strength. The true reward was teaching adults how to swim.
  13. About four years ago, I injured my shoulder snowboarding. I didn’t have health insurance at the time, so I didn’t get it tended to. Now, it gets irritated if I don’t sleep well or if it is cold out. I haven’t let it stop me from snowboarding or doing any kind of strenuous physical exercise.
  14. I have also sprained my right ankle five times. It is now in a permanent minor swollen state. Every time I run or am on my feet for more than four hours, the swelling gets worse. Like my shoulder, I don’t let it stop me from being active. If I still have full mobility, I’m not going to stop moving. I don’t take my physical abilities for granted. I’m grateful I can go for a run or a swim or jump on a trampoline.
  15. Twice, I have participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Overnight walk. The first time I participated was in 2011 in New York City, and I made a week long vacation out of it. Last year, the event was held here in San Francisco. The event is approximately 18 miles long and starts at about 6.30 or 7.30pm. My legs were made to move, so each time I was able to finish the walk in about five and a half hours. This year I wasn’t able to participate as they didn’t announce the city with enough time for me to plan. I’m considering participating next year, but I have to decide soon. It’s a great cause that raises funds to help with mental health research & support.
  16. People have told me I’d fare well in the South. I don’t know if I should take it as a compliment or an insult. I’ve told myself to take it as a compliment and attribute it to my respect for respect. I’m a huge fan of manners & social graces. I believe in holding the door for women with children or those older than me. I believe in offering my seat to those who might need it more than me. I love “please” and “thank you” and know that a smile speaks volumes. I also believe that there is a way of being honest without being rude. I’ve found that people in the South and Northeast parts of the USA value manners and honesty, things the West Coast seem to lack.
  17. I love Bikram yoga, but sometimes my shoulder hinders my ability to do it. That’s why I’m still searching for an instructor that is patient & educational The one instructor I used to take classes from switched yoga centers and I have no idea where she teaches now…
  18. I loved sleep away summer camp as a kid, and wish I spent the entire summer at camp instead of just a week or two. If I ever have kids, sleep away summer camp will be essential.
  19. If marriage is in the cards for me, I definitely want to elope. A low key party would be in order though. It’ll be our way of saying “surprise, we’re married!!”
  20. I love roses. I love the way they look. I love the way they smell. And, I love skincare that is rose based. However, I don’t like receiving roses. Giving roses are very cliche. I’m not a roses as a gift, date on Valentine’s day type of girl.
  21. My favorite kind of dessert is a fresh pear or two with some agave syrup & roasted, salted almonds. YUM!
  22. I love red wine, but rarely drink it anymore. Pinot Noir is my go to wine.
  23. Sometimes, I crave raw onions. In fact, there has been an instance the craving was so severe I had to peel an onion and bite into it like an apple. Two bites and my craving was gone. One of my favorite snacks is popcorn with salt and onion powder. That keeps the craving at bay.
  24. Another dream job I have is a holistic nutritional counselor. I’m always on the hunt for a legitimate educational program to help me on that journey. If I get back into shape and become super regular with my fitness, I may even become a certified physical trainer which will allow me to incorporate nutritional counseling as part of my service.
  25. I love to laugh. That’s why my DVD collection is full of silly comedies. This means that I am exceedingly the Dumb and Dumber sequel has been confirmed.
  26. (Since I love mutiples of three, number 26, which is technically number 51, is your lucky cherry.) I love the idea of World Peace, which is why the best way to describe my political leaning & overall world view falls closest to Libertarian-socialist ideas. Deal with it. I am who I am. 🙂
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Small Business Bookshop

During my childhood, my goal in life was to be a writer and own a small bookstore that sold used books and independently published books and magazines (that were forward thinking and world peace positive). At 31, I still have that dream. But, in the technological, economically rough time we are living in, I understand how difficult and unlikely that dream is. During my teens and early twenties, I wanted the bookstore to also be a cafe & meeting place for students, radicals, progressives, anarchists, and all people non-mainstream. I wanted a place for people to feel safe, have a coffee, and somewhere comfortable to sit with a book to read or a conversation to be had. In Menlo Park, Kepler’s was the place to be. It started as a counter-culture meeting place a couple decades before I was born and became the intelligent, independent, book selling hub of the Peninsula (with Berkeley a 45 minute drive away). While I went to college in Washington State, Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane was the only real option I had for finding solace in my dream. And, I sadly only went in two or three times during the three years I was up there.

Lately, I’ve been itching to move. There’s a part of me that wants to move back to Cheney/Spokane and get some final closure. I left so abruptly when I actually did leave ten years ago. I want to go back to EWU, finish my degree, and start the ball rolling on some sort of progressive, positive hub/hive/social network that I feel that part of the state desperately needs.

But, with Auntie’s as the mainstay and iconic indie place of Spokane, I know my idea of an independent Salon/Bookstore/Cafe wouldn’t stand up to Auntie’s. There is no need for an identical business that is part of a dwindling business circle. But, what if I opened a Salon/Cafe? What if people would leave a book they’ve read and took a book they want to read? What if independent writers came and lead a Salon a couple times a month? What if…??

I’m partially on the way to fulfilling my dream. I’m actively doing part of my dream by writing this post. And, I’m cultivating the ambition to figure out a way to have my goals come to life.

I guess what I’m trying to say is HELP. If anyone out there want to join in on my fantastically fun goal of creating a Salon type Cafe in Eastern Washington, please, jump on the bandwagon. Let’s get this going.

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2013 Feminist Reads Challenge

While browsing through nerdy, book lover blogs, I came across an interesting post. The Hiding Spot is doing a Feminist Reads Challenge, something I am always eager to participate in. The challenge requires that the books feature a strong female lead character, positive support for the female gender, and a basic (or intensive) support of feminism as a whole. There are three challenge levels: easy (5 books), medium (5-10 books), and hard (10+ books). As we are now in August, I will feel most comfortable going the easy route. If I weren’t back at school, I’d go medium!

The books I hope to read (or reread) are:
1. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
2. The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
3. Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
4. How To Be A Woman, Caitlin Moran
5. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
(and bonus books, just in case)
6. Alanna: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
7. How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Julia Alvarez

I’ll update my Books To Read 2013 list to include these. In fact, I think I have to rework the choices on my list! School is a priority, however, I have six weeks off school before Fall Quarter starts. Hopefully, I can read a book per week.

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