January Journaling

January has been my second month of bullet journaling and I am enjoying the process so far. I find setting up the spreads relaxing as I let my mind wander while creating. For my January spreads, I decided to use the theme of Chinese lanterns as this month sees the celebration of the Chinese New Year.

It was fun drawing all the lanterns and I was delighted to see the result. Opposite my cover page for the month, I decided to choose a bookish quote. My daughter found the perfect one for me from Harry Potter.

It did take me a while to draw all the little lanterns for all the spreads – especially as I use the A4 size journal. The time doodling and colouring, however, passed quickly while I listened to music and chatted with my daughters if they were sitting at the table with me.

I have started tracking certain habits – especially those that are linked with my annual goals. It has been interesting for me to see the trends.

My weekly spreads have definitely been a delight. I am recording any tasks and events that have been planned for the week. I am also using the page as a journal to record my thoughts and experiences.

I am enjoying the lantern lights that I have created for January. Now I need to think of the theme I should use to create pages for February.

Have you created January spreads for your journal/planner?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. In the spirit of the New Year, why not join in the challenge and share some square photos featuring light.)

Book Review: Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

I was interested to read Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles and was pleased when the team at Harper Collins Canada sent me an ARC of the novel.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Blurb:

In his first contemporary teen novel, critically acclaimed author and two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles spotlights the consequences of societal pressure, confronts toxic masculinity, and explores the complexity of what it means to be a “real man.”

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.

His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.

With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right? 

My thoughts:

This is a novel that adolescent boys need to read! It describes the fumblings of a teen boy as he attempts to attract the attention of a girl he likes. With all the advice given to him by various people, he learns to make his own decisions – and to live with the consequences. This novel is a diverse read that focuses on a topic that is an essential one for adolescents: the interactions one has with the opposite sex, and how to treat the people you are attracted to.

Not So Pure and Simple focuses on the growth of Del as he learns how girls want to be treated (not how he thinks they want to be treated); and that the girl he likes may not always like him back. Giles takes the reader to the time when relationships with the opposite sex can be confusing. Exciting, but confusing. The author does this with a sense of humour and sensitivity, acknowledging the confused emotions of the teen boys.

A serious thread also runs through the story as the need for sex education is highlighted. The opposing views of the adults towards the programme is shown as well as how the attitudes of the opposing viewpoint can affect the lives of the teenagers. The programme is not only about the intricacies of sex itself; but also about the need to respect the members of the opposite sex.

Not So Pure and Simple is an important story that needs to be told. Yes, relationships can be a minefield when you are a teen but there a certain lessons to be learned that can make it seem less so. I enjoyed reading Lamar Giles’ story and I am sure that many young people would too.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 3rd novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Grateful for Admin Support

As you all know, on Monday the teachers in our school board walked out of the classroom and walked a picket line in front of the various schools. (If you missed my post, it is here.) At the start of our 3 hour stint in -18c temperatures, our school principal came out and offered us baked goods. In addition, she told us that she had organised a gift card at the coffee shop down the road and that we were to each grab a hot coffee on her and the vice-principal.

Midway during our time picketing in the freezing cold (literally), the VP came out to encourage us. She spoke to each person in our group, showing her support for what we were doing. In addition, the office staff and support staff also came out during their break to show solidarity.

On Monday was the second time I have participated in a strike since teaching here in this country. And this time round the support from the admin staff is incredible and not what I expected. It makes things a little easier because the heads of the school do have more work when we are participating in strike action. The show of their support helps to create a positive atmosphere in the school.

This week I am grateful for the support of the admin staff at the school where I work. It certainly helps when we all foresee a long road ahead.

What are you grateful for this week? Leave a comment or a link to your post below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Going Back

PHOTO PROMPT © Na’ama Yehuda

Sitting in a plane seat for hours, inactive and restless, was difficult for Tate. It reminded her of high school and the ongoing drone of the teachers’ voices. The Haagen-Dazs, however, made her think of sunny days with her girlfriends. As each scoop melted in her mouth, thoughts of their antics and conversations swirled in her mind. Sighing, she savoured the last mouthful. She needed to get back together with them. They had been her rock and she had been drifting along aimlessly since her departure. The plane was taking her home and bringing her closer to her people.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post was inspired by Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge asks for bloggers to write a story in 100 words or less in response to the photo prompt.)

Walking the Picket Line

Yesterday my colleagues and I participated in the fourth phase of our ongoing strike by withdrawing full services. The day dawned with the frigid temperatures of -18c but we were determined to stand up for what we believe is important.

Our bodies constantly moving to keep warm, we gathered together in front of the school where we teach. The school is not at full capacity, so the group was small. However, we cheered one another on as our bodies got used to being out in the extreme cold. As someone mentioned, it was a little like yard duty – but for an extended period of time.

I am proud to be working as a teacher for our school board. I know that we have an important job to do – a job that some in our society do not appreciate. However, the parents at our school are very supportive and understanding. They realise that the reason we are standing up to the government and the cuts they want to enforce is for the good of their children, our students.

A few parents brought their children over to show them that yesterday was not just a day away from school; these parents had explained to the children what it is we are fighting for. Two of our students yesterday morning walked the picket line with us to experience strike action. Definitely a learning moment.

It is not often that we were able to catch the sunlight and stand in its warmth. Our neighbourhood has been changing over the last few years as condos are sprouting up in its streets. We became sun seekers, searching for any spot in which to stand. Sunlight was rare, though, and we walked up and down a section of the street to keep ourselves warm (especially our feet!).

We are hoping that the government ministers see the light (did you see what I did there Becky 😀 ) – but we do not have any hope that they will. Today the secondary schools are going on their third walkout and, thankfully, the temperatures have risen by 15c. Hopefully the next time we walk out of our classrooms for the strike action, it won’t be so cold.

Have you walked the picket line?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge.)

Teaser Tuesday: Twice In A Blue Moon

On Instagram, many women posted positive reviews of Twice In A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren so I decided to pick it up from the library to read. Today I will share an extract from this romantic comedy.

The extract I am sharing with you describes the moment when the main protagonist, Tate, is caught unawares by reporters and photographers. Since she was a child, she had been living in obscurity causing a lot of curiosity about her as her father is a famous and beloved actor:

“An explosion of cameras caught the awkward collision on film. I’d see the photos everywhere for weeks to come. A chorus of voices shouted my name – they knew my name. Nana turned, grabbing my hand and jerking me back into the hotel. It took me a long time – far longer than it took her – to figure out what was going on.” (p107, Simon & Shuster, 2019)

The story continues fourteen years later when she encounters her first love, the man who sold her story to the papers.

Would this romantic comedy interest you?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Book Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

In December, the team at Harper Collins sent me a few books to read and review during the Winter.I was so happy to see that they had sent me The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin as I love to read any book that features Paris.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer—after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.

But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light—she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he’ll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true.

My thoughts:

Reading this novel brought back so many memories of the year I lived in Paris. So many experiences of Sarah, were my own experiences. The Parisian descriptions were what I had gone through myself. I love this city and reading about it in The Little Bookshop on the Seine, took me back to one of my favourite places. The descriptions of the city and its people are truly authentic.

Rebecca Raisin has written more than just a love story. She has written a story about a woman who, despite finding the man she loves, goes on an adventure of discovery. Not only does Sarah go to Paris and experience another country and culture, she also discovers another part of herself. She learns to be a stronger person and to find her voice.

The story centres around a bookshop and, as such, has some beautiful bookish imagery. The imagery is perfect for a reader who loves books – and is the second reason I wanted to read this novel (the first being Paris, of course!). The description of the Parisian bookshop reminds me of my adventures into the bookshops of Paris. Loved them!

The Little Bookshop on the Seine describes the positive experience working in another country can bring. In addition, it shows the growth a woman can experience in her own right while being in a serious relationship. I enjoyed this little novel as it is so much more than a romance. This book has recently been published and is a gem. It is the perfect read for those who love Paris, books, and modern romance stories.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 2nd novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Music Monday: Lose You To Love Me

For the last couple of days I have had Lose You To Love Me, a song by Selena Gomez, continually running through my head.

The first few times I listened to the song, I did not quite get what the song it was about – it just didn’t make sense. And then it clicked! In order to love herself, her toxic relationship needed to end. The song tells us, too, that you will get over a heartbreak – and that it will make you stronger.

Lose You To Love Me is such an inspiring song. And I love the voice of Selena Gomez. I know I will be listening to this song for a long while yet.

What song is currently running through your head?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Weekend Coffee Share: A Little Catch-Up

If we were having coffee, I would greet you with a big smile as it has been a while since we have had coffee. I have no excuse for my lack of commitment except to say that the weekends have, for the last month or so, been a time when I have avoided any computer screens. I have instead been journaling and enjoying the creative process that this activity brings. This coming week, I will share a little of what I have done with you. It is a relaxing activity and one that reminds me of the hours I spent as a teenager drawing and practising my calligraphy.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that since our last chat I have been on a break from school as well as celebrated Christmas in the warm climate of the Dominican Republic. I am still sporting browner skin but the memory of the warm sun on my skin seems like a memory. Instead it has been cold in the city I live with icy winds, sleet, and snow.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am back in my routine at school – the deadlines very quickly make a person feel as if a vacation hasn’t happened! On Friday we had a PA day on which we wrote report cards. As we are currently in strike action mode, we are not expected to spend hours crafting comments and inputting these into the system. Instead, we are recording grades on a class list. It makes for a less stressful and time-consuming experience.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that negotiations with the government have stalled and they are not negotiating in good faith. Up until today, we kept our fingers crossed that the situation would change. Alas, nothing has so we will walk out tomorrow. All schools in my school board will be closed and the teachers will be walking the picket line. Tomorrow is forecast to feel like -20c so I do not think it will be a pleasant experience! However, it is important for us to show solidarity and I am sure all of my colleagues will be with me in front of our school standing up for what is important.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I plan to spend some time reading this afternoon. For some reason, I am feeling tired this afternoon and will take the time to relax.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

A Beach Sunrise

Last Christmas we began our day a little differently to the usual. Instead of waking up, grabbing a cup of tea and gathering around the Christmas tree to open presents, we woke up early to watch the sun rise on the beach.

The morning was cloudy (it would actually rain quite a bit later that day) so the glory of the sunrise was hidden. However, the light shining from behind the clouds created a moody atmosphere.

Even though the sun was hidden, we did see the glorious colour of light erupting from behind the clouds.

When I looked in the other direction to where the sun was rising, I noticed the pink light colouring the clouds a little as well as the few visitors who had joined my family to watch the beginning of a new day.

Looking back towards the sun, the sea and the clouds seemed even more atmospheric as the sunlight hid behind the clouds.

As the sun began to rise in the sky, I realised that even though the view wasn’t what I had hoped for I was glad I had come out to the beach with my family to experience and celebrate an event that I don’t often see.

Seeing the sun rise on Christmas Day was the perfect way to think about what the day truly means. I enjoyed the change from our usual routine – a routine which we will return to on the next Christmas Day.

Where last did you watch the sun rise?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge.)