May 2018 My First Reading Club Subscription Box Review!

This month I did the May 2018 My First Reading Club unboxing and review on my YouTube channel (Maranda’s Toys & Books), so I figured I would post the video here in case anyone wanted to see which children’s books I got this month for only $9.99 plus S&H! This box is always SUCH a great deal! Definitely recommended for families!

 

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PO Box Opening Fun! Cute Sloths, Favorite Anime Series, and New Books!

I recently received a wonderful assortment of goodies from a friend and blog reader named Brian via my PO Box! Most of the time when I receive mail via my PO Box it is either books or products that companies or authors would like me to consider reviewing, but once in a while I do get something just for fun and that is always awesome!

The first item in the box I received was this adorable Easter sloth dressed up in bunny ears! Isn’t he the most adorable thing? I love sloths in general, and Brian knew that since we had exchanged cute sloth videos on Facebook in the past.

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The second gift in the box was this awesome Death Note anime dvd set! It has the complete series, which is awesome since Death Note is my favorite anime series of all time (which is saying something since there are a number of other anime series I love as well)!

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Lastly, since he knows I love books, Brian sent me a cool Batman graphic novel and an art book. The graphic novel is called Hong Kong and starts out with a weird murder plot involving a snake which drew me into the story right away. The art book is called The World of Rubens 1577-1640 and is a compendium of works by the artist Peter Paul Rubens. I was familiar with some of Rubens’ work, but this visual guide definitely widened the scope of his work for me.

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I want to give a big “thank you” to Brian for sending all this neat stuff! I’ve really enjoyed it so far! If anyone else ever wants to send anything via PO Box for me to consider sharing on my blog (or to enjoy privately), here is the address:

Maranda Russell
PO Box 14
Englewood, OH 45322

I am always happy to feature children’s books, toys, candy, cute stuff, and anything related to subjects I blog about frequently, such as mental illness, autism, chronic pain conditions, etc.

Goodbye Freelance Writing Career

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I’m at the point I think I’m going to have to make peace with the fact that my freelance writing career is over in many ways. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still plan to blog and do this kind of personal writing when able, but over the past years I also supplemented our income a bit by taking freelance writing gigs from various clients. I covered a wide variety of writing assignments: reviewing books, writing promotional materials and press releases, writing children’s books, editing and proofreading, and many other oddball writing jobs.

Now, I find I just can’t do it. Partly due to physical health conditions (particularly my back/neck pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia), but also due to my mental health conditions (depression, anxiety, bipolar type 2, etc.) Sometimes I’m not even sure which condition is really at fault. Is it the CFS making it almost impossible for me to get out of bed and function at all, or is that the depression? Is my back pain causing me anxiety, or are the panic attacks causing me to tighten up and the back pain to worsen? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Much of the time, I really don’t know. But I do know I can’t go on like this forever, and I definitely can’t take the additional stress of taking on freelance writing jobs anymore.

* Art by Maranda Russell

Belief in Hell Dies Hard

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Recently I read an excellent poetry book entitled “Shit House Rat“, written by Daniel Crocker (a fellow bipolar writer). The poetry in this collection is brutally honest, gritty, and humorous, and even engages some of our favorite characters from Sesame Street in a way that is unique and really outlines the harsh reality of adult life “on the street” .

One poem that especially triggered some thought on my part is one called “A Dream of Siblings”, in which the poet has a dream about his deceased brother being trapped in a sort of hell. Like me, the author no longer believes in a literal hell, at least not of the Christian theological kind, but as the following lines from the poem show, he still struggles to let go of that old belief in a fiery pit of torture:

“Even though I gave up
believing in this shit
years ago, I still wonder

Maybe I never gave up believing

Maybe, once having faith, no one
ever gives up believing

Even if the things we believe in
are horrifying.”

Writing Prompt: Message in a Bottle

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Today’s writing prompt: If you were to write a message in a bottle, what would it say? Who would you hope finds it?

My response: “To whoever finds this, I was here. I lived. I loved. I hurt. I laughed. I cried. You will too. Enjoy the ride.”

I would hope it was found by a thoughtful young person who was just starting out in life. Someone who isn’t too cynical or jaded yet, but is mature enough to appreciate life for what it is.

Writing Prompt: $1,000 to Spend

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Today’s writing prompt: If you were given $1,000 to spend right now and you had to spend it, what would you buy?

My response: If someone gave me $1,000 to spend right now and I couldn’t save any of it, I would go on a fun shopping spree! The top things that come to mind to buy are books and toys of course! There are a bunch of books on Amazon I have been wanting to get for a while, so I’m sure I would grab up a bunch of those. Lately I have especially been interested in getting some of the poetry collections written by people who have bipolar disorder. I would also do quite a bit of shopping on Ebay, getting certain toys and collectibles that I have been wanting for my collections. The Funko mini Heroes series comes to mind since I have been collecting those recently.

I would also likely grab some new agey or pagan stuff. There are some t-shirts put out by The Mountain company that I would love to have that feature all kinds of cool designs. I would probably buy my husband that 3-D Star Trek chess set he has always wanted too. Pretty much, I would buy the stuff I always buy, just in greater quantities! Oh! And I would pick up the new Halloween candle at Bath & Body Works! And do some shopping at the PINK store at the mall! And Hot Topic! Man, now I really wish I had that $1,000!

Writing Prompt: Favorite Childhood Memories

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So I’ve decided to try to post a writing prompt every Saturday. Hopefully I won’t fall off the wagon too many times trying to do so!

Today’s Prompt: What memories from your own childhood would you most like to relive?

My response: I know it sounds corny, but the memories I would most like to relive are just ordinary days filled with happy ordinary moments. Eating cinnamon toast made by my mom while I sit and watch My Little Pony and play with my own pony toy collection (how I wish I had kept those toys!). Playing on the trampoline in our screened in front porch. Watching Nickelodeon back when it was the bomb. Coming home on the last day of school with my backpack full of goodies from the teacher and an entire summer spread out in front of me like a magical adventure. Camping out in my Smurf sleeping bag with my sister, telling scary stories and then being unable to sleep. Family picnics and midnight fishing trips with my dad. Those are the things I miss the most and would love the chance to revisit.