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La vie  «
Pick my brain
Monday, January 21, 2013
Reading in 2013
Mood:  happy
Topic: La vie

I know I'm about three weeks late on this, but Happy New Year!

I rang in 2013 with a group of my best friends, eating wonderful food, sipping on handcrafted cocktails, listening to music, and playing some hilarious games.

It was a perfect way to start the New Year.

I have never been big on New Year's resolutions, but I have set many goals for myself this year.

For starters, my health needs more attention this year. While I have always enjoyed good health, the load of work I took on in 2012 brought with it an unbelievable amount of stress.

As of today, I am a full-time editor. I also maintain nearly 7 blogs of my own, for fun. I am also a hired writer for nearly 12 blogs anchored around the country. I am also a blogging teacher for LSU and online. And finally, I am a freelance writer for two magazines based in Baton Rouge. 

In 2012, I did a large amount of volunteer work, and in 2013 I am continuing that tradition, only in a much bigger way (more on this later).

So, in 2013, I am vowing to sleep more. My body, and my mind, could really use it.

With that in mind, I purchased all of the necessary materials for that to happen. I now write to you from a brand new bed: new bed frame, new mattress, new bed sheets, comforter, duvet, quilt, and pillows.

I've slept like a baby these last two weeks, and I hope it continues.

I've also been training to become a volunteer for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). I am just 6 hours away from completing 32 hours of training, putting me on the official list of CASAs.

Although I am nervous, I am especially excited and grateful that I have been given this opportunity. I am looking forward to meeting my CASA child and hopefully making a positive difference in their life.

Having rambled on about my month so far, I will say that I feel so guilty that I have YET to finish a book! A friend loaned me a giant bag full of mystery fiction novels, but I've only gotten through 1/2 of one.

So pathetic.

Last year was the first year I actually counted the books I read as I read them. In years passed, I simply had a goal to "read as much as I can" and I ended up reading more that 25 books each year—still commendable in my eyes. 

And so, I am not going to count books this year. This is by no means to get me off the hook. Reading is not only something I love to do, it's also a very important resource in my career as a writer and an editor. I must always keep learning.

As always, I'll keep you posted on the books I finish, and at the end of the year, we'll see how well I did.  

Posted by wittywriter7 at 7:51 PM CST
Updated: Monday, January 21, 2013 8:11 PM CST
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Thursday, December 27, 2012
Happier at Home
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: La vie

The great thing about having an annual reading deadline of December 31 (at midnight) is I get to read any books I get for Christmas right away and count them toward my goal. 

This year, I was excited to get "Happier at Home," by Gretchen Rubin. I read Rubin's first happiness book earlier this year, "The Happiness Project," which was a really enlightening book.

Happier at Home has a similar concept: what are things Rubin can do around her home to make it a more enjoyable place for her family, and herself?

Following the previous format, Rubin sets goals for her project each month, setting aside time to take her daughter on adventures, paint a picture on the wall, and cook special breakfasts for each holiday.

While I enjoyed this book, it wasn't as refreshing as the first one. I think I was so caught up in Rubin's original idea, this one seemed phoned in.

2012 reading goal: 28/29 

Posted by wittywriter7 at 6:50 PM CST
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012
How Starbucks Saved My Life
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: La vie

I don't usually enjoy reading books again, after I've already read them. However, there are a few books that have inspired me so much so that I need to read them more than once.

One of those books is "How Starbucks Saved My Life" by Michael Gates Gill.

It is the true story of Gill, who grew up priviledged, graduated college, and went on to get a great job at an advertising firm. But after many years of hard work, he gets laid off. 

To make matters worse, Gill finds out he has a brain tumor, and needs surgery.

During a routine stop for coffee at Starbucks, an employee asks him if he would like a job. In fact, he does... he needs one.

The book follows Gill's journey as a Starbuck's employee—not only is he the oldest one working there, but he lives the furthest away from the store, and he's around people of different cultures and backgrounds—it is a journey of many layers.

The entire book is inspiring—a must read. Like most books I read, I found several great quotes to note:

  • Leap with faith rather than huddle in fear.
  • Trusting your own heart is your greatest—and only—path to real happiness.
  • To those who will see, the world awaits.
2012 reading goal: 22/29 

Posted by wittywriter7 at 2:57 PM CDT
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Sunday, October 7, 2012
Gunn's Golden Rules
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: La vie

It's obvious that I'm tearing through this reading goal like there's no tomorrow. It's only the first week of October and I only have 8 books to go—so, what will I do if I finish 29 way before the end of the year?

I will slow down the reading. I don't want to read 40 books this year and set a goal for 2013 of 41, or anything like that.

For book 21, I was excited to read a book I bought at the beginning of this year, a kind-of fun, candy read: Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work by Tim Gunn. 

Gunn is most recognizable from his work as the mentor on Project Runway, but he's also done other work at Ralph Lauren and at Parson's school for Design.

While the role that he plays on Project Runway isn't a character, Gunn has done a fantastic job of branding himself as a fashion icon, as well as a manners icon, whether he meant to or not.

Gunn's Golden Rules is a book loosely based around those aspects of his life—how to "Make it Work," use modern manners, and be a confident, fabulous self.

While each chapter was named after a certain rule, I found the text within the chapters rambled a bit, but nonetheless I noted several great quotes while reading (I am one of those people who read with a post-it pad and/or a highlighter by my side).

  • You can be too rich and too thin, but you can never be too well read or too curious about the world.
  • If you're not learning, what makes you want to get up in the morning?
  • Whatever you're doing, give it your all.
  • The key is admitting that in every situation there's a lot you don't know.
  • There's nothing harder than living your life as someone you're not, even if being what you are is very hard. 
  • Ambitious people are more attractive and more fun to be with than people who maintain the status quo. 
2012 reading goal: 21/29

Posted by wittywriter7 at 11:33 AM CDT
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Monday, July 30, 2012
Orange Julius
Mood:  lucky
Topic: La vie

From the time I was 2 years old, I was blessed with the company of a cat. At that age, my cat Lucky was my favorite playdate. I recall many fond memories dressing Lucky up in my doll's clothes, and putting her in my green and white buggy, for a ride around the house. 

Lucky hated this, and at times, she probably hated me. But she remained by my side for 17 years, through it all. I took Lucky to bed with me every night, she sat with me when I cried, and ocassionally made nice with my friends over the years.

Late into my junior year of high school, a friend told me about a litter of orange kittens that were just born at the local humane society. After school, we went to check them out. The mom of the kittens looked just like Lucky, the dad was a huge orange tabby.

I picked out one of the orange kittens, but had to wait the 8 weeks until i could take it home. The lady at the shelter told me I needed to prove myself as an owner, so I should visit the cat often. As often as i could, I drove out to the shelter to hold my new cat.

But shortly into these visits, the cat I had chosen died, as did many of the other kittens. There was just one remaining orange cat. The shelter told me I could have that one, or I didn't have to pick one.

I had wanted an orange cat since the 6th grade, when I met my friend Alicia's cat, Butterball.

I decided to take the remaining orange cat. When I reached in the wire cage to hold him for the first time, he meowed and scratched me. He wasn't very cute, he was very tiny, but had giant ears and a rat-like tail.

Regardless, I came to visit him and got to take him home after 8 weeks. I named him Orange Julius. 

When I got home, my mom was less than impressed. The adjustment was difficult. OJ meowed constantly through the night, wasn't good with the litterbox, and was a downright brat. My mom told me we could take him back to the shelter.

As an animal lover, I couldn't do that, even though I nearly hated the little rat under my bed.

But in time, Julius stopped meowing so much, and came out of his shell, and even grew into his ears. Lucky seemed to hate him, but I figured that would happen. Julius liked her, and always wanted to play, but she wouldn't have it. 

Over the next few years, Julius was a welcomed member of our family, and Lucky was getting old. During my summer home from college, Lucky ran away. I knew right away it was her time to go, but I missed her dearly.

Julius missed her, too. I'll never forget how much he changed when she ran away. And once he was the only cat of the house, his personality really shined.

Julius soon became my buddy, although he remained a brat. He liked playing fetch with twist ties, begging for table scraps like a puppy, and he loved knocking over my water cups.

Once I graduated college, I moved OJ to Louisiana for what was supposed to be a month-visit. I met my mom in tennessee, got Julius, and we drove back together. He meowed most of the trip, until the final leg when he curled up on my lap.

It took him awhile to get used to my apartment, but eventually it was his home and he especially liked relaxing on my second-floor balcony. I wasn't taking him back to Indiana. He was an annoying roommate, but I loved him very much, as did my friends. 

Recently, I moved Julius into a new apartment, which he seemed to love.

Nearly a month ago, I was forced to say goodbye to Julius as he joined Lucky in his final resting place.

I don't want to get into the details of his final days, as they still plague my thoughts. However, I would like to say that I was able to have the chance that many pet owners don't get—I got to have a real goodbye.

I said my farewell to OJ on a Sunday afternoon, the night before my birthday. He was in good spirits, purring, just like he did almost always. I played Julius his favorite music, by Chris Botti, an album I listen to often when I write at home. I will never forget playing it, and watching OJ stretch on his back and close his eyes for a nap while I worked.

Although I am still very much grieving, and am struggling some days, the happy memories I have with Julius fill my heart with Joy. He was a fat cat, but was still my buddy, and I loved carrying him around my apartment in the mornings. He would wait for me to get out of the shower, and sit on my bathroom counter while I got ready. I kept his toys in a bathroom drawer that he figured out how to open with just one paw.

Julius loved food — nearly anything. He especially loved bread, of any kind, and he also loved popcorn. When he wasn't begging me for food, Julius just wanted to be around me. He would lay on my keyboard, while I was trying to work, or lay on me if given the chance.

OJ was a real part of my family, and was there for me through thick and thin. I will be forever grateful that he was the kitten I took home from the shelter that summer. I know I'll never get to have another cat quite like Orange Julius, but I am thankful for the years he was with me. All I can hope is that his life was as amazing as he was, and that him and Lucky are finally friends.  

"Glad to be Unhappy" by Chris Botti, featuring John Mayer 

Posted by wittywriter7 at 1:24 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, July 30, 2012 2:15 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 15, 2012
A Place of Yes
Mood:  on fire
Topic: La vie


I just finished reading “A Place of Yes” by Bethenny Frankel.


I was taking my time with this one, because it has so many great takeaway lessons and I often took lots of notes while reading it.

If you are a Bethenny fan already, I don’t need to explain to you how amazing she is as a woman, a businessperson, a mother, a wife, and now, a writer. She’s got her hands in all the pots, but for all the right reasons, and it works.

In “A Place of Yes,” Frankel shares her secrets as to how she overcame a tough childhood, a rocky adulthood, and even the ins and outs of previous business failures and her persona as the runaway bride.

She breaks the book down into 10 rules to live by, or as she says, 10 rules to living the life you dream:

1. Break the chain. You don’t have to carry baggage from the past; take the good and leave the bad.

2. Find your truth. Listen and do only what’s right for you.

3. Act on it. Don’t wait, don’t sit, don’t put off, just DO.

4. Everything’s your business. Do everything like it’s your job.

5. All roads lead to Rome. Stay focused, work hard, and you’ll end up where you need to.

6. Go for yours. Put yourself first, achieve your goals for you.

7. Separate from the pack. Don’t follow the crown, stand up for your truth.

8. Own it. Even when it’s difficult, admit it, own up to your actions.

9. Come together. Get yourself right first, then connect with others (who deserve you).

10. Celebrate! Drop the worries, and celebrate the good times.

In reading this book, I found I could relate to Frankel and use her rules to help me get over my past and tear through my future with drive and success. Whether dating woes, childhood baggage, or dead-end careers are holding you back, I recommend this book to you!

In fact, it was such an inspiration to me, I knew I had to tell Ms. Frankel herself. Her website,, includes a huge forum where she invites her fans to share their stories of "Acting on It." Below is my story:


I want to start off by saying thank you. Thank you for sharing your stories, not only through television, but also through your books, and for being truly you in every part of your life.

As a writer, I always make it a point to email authors when one of their books inspires me, and yours did nothing short of that.

Before reading "A Place of Yes," my life was in transition. I just moved into a new apartment, joined a gym for the first time, and was trying to make career moves. But I was just going through the motions.

I knew 2012 just had to be my year, because if it wasn't, another year was just going to pass me by.

I have always enjoyed watching you on Housewives, and now on Bethenny, and as most of your fans say, it's easy to relate to you.

I knew about your books and your products, both which make me respect you as a businesswoman even more. I wanted to buy myself "A Place of Yes," but I always have money noise and never let myself spend.

But I went for it, and it was more than worth it.

As I mentioned before, I am a full-time editor and a freelance writer. My dream is to make a living from writing novels. But, like most writers without a deadline, the novel gets put off, repeatedly.

And so, I'm acting on it. I'm making everything my business.

My editing job is a real drag. It's a place where individuality isn't praised and creativity is unheard of. I have never fit in.

I do need my job to pay my bills, but after reading "A Place of Yes," I know I can find fulfillment in other parts of my life.

Instead of just going to the gym, I started talking to my trainers and meeting people. Eventually, those same people found out I'm a writer, and started reading my work in a local magazine. Eventually, the owner of the gym approached me about writing articles for the gym's blog.

I wasn't sure if he was serious, so I waited a few days. Pre-Bethenny, I would have just blown it off thinking I couldn't do it. Instead, I thought "why not?" and emailed him with some ideas. In return, I now have a free gym membership and a writing gig I never thought I'd have. And I'm going to keep going for it. It's not just going to be a health and wellness blog, it's going to be The Blog!

In my freelance work at the magazine, I wanted to get the scoop on a program in our city, Dialogue on Race Louisiana—an organization made to discuss modern-day racism in institutions. I initially joined the group to write an article, which I did, but I also found something I'm really passionate about: treating everyone with respect and making sure opportunities are open to people of every culture.

After the story was published, people at my office asked me about it and wanted to know more. I have since taken the "advanced dialogue" and signed up for training to become a Dialogue Facilitator, so I can spread the word of equality.

On top of that, I went out of my comfort zone and did something I always just thought of doing: I submitted a proposal to Louisiana State University's leisure class board, stating that I wanted to teach a class to the community on blogging.

I worked on the syllabus, came up with a schedule, found articles to share, and went through an interview explaining my love for writing and blogging. I got the job, and now will be a teacher in June of this year.

Although Acting on It has provided me with some great immediate rewards, I know the road ahead is long and hard.

In fact, in the midst of all this, I lost some close friends who accused me of being stuck up. They had mistaken my focus and drive for being a snob, and instead of supporting my efforts, they dropped me.

When you are driven and success is on the horizon, there are some people who just don't want to see it happen. But that isn't because you, or I, or we don't deserve it. It's because they haven't found their truth just yet.

And about my novel? I'm making a schedule to write, write, write, and edit. I'm also pitching ideas to nationally-known blogs to get more practice and get myself out there.

I could go on about breaking the chain with my family issues and past relationships, but after reading the book, that's not even where my mind is at now. I'm driven and focused on my career, because accomplishing things is what makes me happy.

So thank you again, Bethenny. The ideas in "A Place of Yes" are doable and inspiring, and best of all, easy to remember. I hope other readers have the same success as I have, so far.


Holly A. Phillips

2012 reading goal: 7/29 

Posted by wittywriter7 at 1:32 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2012 10:45 PM CDT
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012
All that your love can bring
Mood:  amorous
Topic: La vie

To my one true love, Holly. Lonely was the song I sang, 'till the day you came. Showing me another way, and all that your love can bring. Happy Valentine's Day! See you tonight, baby! Love always & forever, John


Posted by wittywriter7 at 8:30 AM CST
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Saturday, January 7, 2012
8 reasons Clooney is my role model for 2012
Mood:  hungry
Topic: La vie

Although this entry is coming about two months late, I finally got around to reading Rolling Stone's article on George Clooney, "Confessions of a Dirty Mind: what's under George Clooney's bed? And other secrets of the coolest man in Hollywood."

Now, it has to be said that I've always been a fan of Clooney—what girl isn't? The man is sexy. Buuuut, I was so intrigued with this article that I decided it would be to my greatest benefit to name Mr. Clooney one of my role models of 2012.

I know he's probably reading this, and probably extremely flattered, so you're welcome, George.

Here's why:

1. He keeps a Louisville Slugger under his bed in case someone breaks in...which they never have (translation: I'm buying a gun in 2012)

2. He always has beautiful girlfriends, yet he's still single (translation: get hot guys, but remain single). 

3. "He's the Last True Movie Star. He's the Last American Man. He's Hollywood's perennial bachelor prankster and its most-powerful silver-haired statesmen." (translation: be awesome)

4. He keeps dozens of white shirts in a glass case (translation: look hot).

5. He's from the midwest (translation: work it, always).

6. He dropped out of college (translation: real dreams don't need degrees).

7. His take on marriage: "I answered that question in 1997, having recently been divorced, and I really haven't addressed it since. It's one of those things, like many things in my life, that get picked up and repeated and are made to seem like real news."

8. His biggest fear: "I had this very irrational fear that I could just fucking do something." (translation: fucking DO something).  

Posted by wittywriter7 at 9:51 AM CST
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Friday, January 6, 2012
It's a new year...
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: La vie

First post of the new year...the pressure is on!

For the last few years, I've taken the time to look back at the year, note my accomplishments and think about how I can make the coming year even better.

I'm not going to do that this year. I don't think looking into the past does me any good, as the past few years haven't been good. I will say, that the last few months of 2011 were great, and it gives me hope that 2012 has good things in store for me.

I've never been one for new year's resolutions, but of course there are things I'd like to accomplish in the coming year. I absolutely want to keep on track with reading (read 28 books in 2011, gotta read 29 in 2012) and stay on it with my fitness (exercise and diet).

As for my writing, I'd love to tell you all that this will be my breakout year. But that will only happen if I bust my ass and do enough work to make it happen. So, please send words of encouragement and bags of bold coffee.

Other, small but important goals include eating at my dining room table more often and calling in sick more often. I also want to be brave and stand up for myself when necessary.  

Overall, I just want to be a more positive person this year. So bring it on, 2012, I can take it! 

Posted by wittywriter7 at 9:15 AM CST
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Monday, December 26, 2011
Christmas countdown part IV
Mood:  bright
Topic: La vie

It's the final installment of my advent calendar...what a fun 25 it's been getting a gift everyday! I wish it was like this everyday, although I don't know if I'd appreciate it quite so much.  

Day 21: A Lindt chocolate snowman! My calendar had just the right amount of sweet treats. 

Day 22: A Pepsi charm necklace...literally a small Pepsi can on a silver chain. No one can appreciate this as much as me, as my favorite movie is Home Alone, and as Angela pointed out, the movie quotes "Fuller, go easy on the Pepsi!!"

Day 23: A bottle of BLVGARI Rose Essentielle perfume! Smells wonderful!

Day 24: A small jar of Knott's Blackberry Jelly...and a note from Angela, "THE JELLY OF THE MONTH CLUB: The Gift that keeps on giving!" --A joke from Christmas Vacation!

Day 25: Cold, hard cash and a chocolate Santa. A great way to end 25 days of AWESOME...Thank you guys!!!!


Posted by wittywriter7 at 10:32 AM CST
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