Day 2

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.  ~ Mark Twain ~

Yeah, still trying to figure out the “why”.  How about you?  Do you know why you are here?  Feels a little existential doesn’t it?  Like, what do they mean?  Is it when you find out what your passion is?  What makes the biggest impact on the world around you?  While we’re at it, has anyone figured out who “they” are yet?  Anyway, I’m still searching.  There’s a lot that makes me happy – my dogs, my husband, reading, the natural world, food – but they can’t be the WHY, can they?  Have you figured out your purpose?

The one thing I can say is that I know my Goals.  Immediate ones, ones I’m hoping to accomplish by the end of 2018, are losing a few pounds, getting my Glucose down a few points, and paying off a significant portion of our debt.  Long Terms Goals include finishing my degree and hopefully having a successful IVF procedure before I turn 40.  But back to today – Tuesday, 2 January.  Today’s Goal: Trying to come close to that perfect Macro ratio I set for myself while staying under my recommended calorie intake.

The Macro percentages I set for myself are 55 – 60% Fats (Healthy fats!), 30 – 35% Protein, and 10 – 15% Carbs.  Max caloric intake is 1,850.  It’s harder than it sounds!  Since I started looking at labels and scrutinizing everything I’m thinking of eating, it’s crazy to realize how many carbs are in EVERYTHING!  Sweeteners are also carbs and just about every American food item has some sort of sweetener in it.  Things I didn’t even think could have sugar, do – Taco Sauce, Half ‘n Half, Milk.  I thought it would be easy.  All I had to do was give up processed food, breads and grains, some fruits, and obviously sweets/sodas.  Nope, it’ll be more than that!

At the end of the day, my percentages per my FitBit app were 65% Fats, 21% Protein, and 14% Carbs.  My caloric intake was 1,839.  Apparently I was 141 calories “Under Budget” for the day but since I’m always either over or under, I don’t really care.  At the end of the week, as long I’m staying at a deficit, I’ll take it as a win.  But getting back to my numbers… I need some work!  My fats need to come down and I need to figure out how to add more protein.  But how to do that without adding calories?  Ugh, I need to do some more homework on that.

Carbs I’m happy with for my first go at tracking but I say again, it was tough!  For example, I thought I’d do a Shakeology shake as a snack between breakfast and lunch.  Those are supposed to be healthy, right?  That’s what’s being pitched and I have a lot of packets from the last order I did a while ago.  I figured that it would fill me up for a while so all I would need is a snack at lunch.  Unfortunately, when I entered it, it threw my levels all out of whack so I ended up stopping at half a shake and I’m saving the rest for later.  I like mixing it with milk instead of water but I’m hearing differing information on whether that’s acceptable with a Low Carb / Keto Like diet.  I would consider using Coconut or Almond milk instead but I need to check the labels first.  If all they do is sacrifice calories, fat, and protein then I’m no better off.

So what did my menu got the day look like?  For breakfast I had coffee (with half ‘n half and traditional sugar) and a Pancetta & Swiss Quiche.  My snack was half a Strawberry Shakelogy shake (I use a 20 oz mixing container).  Lunch was some salame with cheddar slices and dinner was a ground beef Taco Salad.  I was starting to drag around 4 p.m. so I thought I’d try a decaf coffee with Stevia and heavy whipping cream (it’s recommended over half ‘n half).  Personally, I’m not crazy about the Stevia.  It left a funky aftertaste that was reminiscent of other popular sugar alcohols used to replace traditional sugar.  Since those tend to make my stomach cramp, I’m not sure how much I’ll be using the Stevia.  Sure, it’s probably mind over matter but if my stomach is going to have to do some adjusting, I’d rather not have that in addition to it.  Not in the beginning at least.  With my Crohn’s, any little bit of stress or change to diet can cause problems.  Some threads mention Monk Fruit so maybe I’ll try that next.  But the cream wasn’t a bad substitute.  I can see myself making that a permanent change.

Bullet Proof Coffee is also a recommendation for use instead of my regular coffee.  It’s a mix of butter, coconut oil, coffee, Stevia, heavy whipping cream, and some other things.  It sounds utterly weird but people swear by it.  It’s supposed to have a latte texture and you can use sugar free flavoring to jazz it up.  But I think I’ll wait until this weekend to try it though.  No sense in starting my work day off on the wrong foot with bad coffee.  My coworkers would definitely not appreciate it!

Thus ends my ‘Day 2’.  Let’s see how tomorrow fairs…..

 

P.S. It wasn’t mentioned yesterday but my height is 5’1″.  That puts me in the “Obese” category.  Womp, womp, womp!

Advertisements

Day 1: In The Beginning

What is it people say when they start something new?  “Today is the day”?  I’m not sure I have an opening as great or cliche as that.  Or really ANY opening.  I can’t think of a way to start other than to say that today is Day 1.  Day 1 of hopefully a positive change in my life.  At least a slightly healthier version.  But it’s not what you think.  This isn’t just some New Year Resolution.  I mean, I guess in a way it is but I don’t think of it that way.  Today could be August 1st for all I care.  I wanted (read: needed) to make a change and the first of the month seemed like a good time to start.  It just so happened that the nearest “first” when I made this decision was New Year’s Day.  So here I am.

I suppose I should back up a bit and explain myself.  Back in the Fall, my husband and I took a class to help us get out of debt.  Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey.  The Chapel on base was offering it free of charge to military members and their families.  We’d been struggling, living the proverbial “paycheck to paycheck” and I was seriously tired of spinning my wheels.  It felt like as soon as we’d get a little put back, something horribly expensive would break or we’d need to buy something for whatever, and there went the little bit we had put back.  It was beyond frustrating!  So when I got the email, I immediately signed us up.  One of the questions they have you ask yourself is, “What’s your why?”  It’s meant to act as a motivator.  Something to hold on to when all the limiting of spending gets to be too much.  It’s that same why that brought me to make this decision.

Our reason is that we want to have a family.  We’ve been trying to get pregnant for almost 6 years and suffice it to say, it hasn’t happened.  In the beginning, we thought we could go about it the old fashioned way.  As time went on and nothing took, we went to the doc. After some medical appointments and tests, we were told that we’d need help.  Of course, as fertility treatments are not typically covered by insurance and are pretty up there in price, we’d need to get a handle on the financials.  Even being a military family, we were looking at $10k.

That was 2 years ago.  Life and a move from Maryland to Ohio later, we were due for another round of tests.  I don’t want to go into it too much right this moment, but the news wasn’t good.  That time was not kind to me and what little chance we had was severely diminished.  Not only did it break my heart, it added an additional $8k to our estimates.  Money was one thing we could for sure work on but my body was something else entirely.  How do you fix a body that was apparently not made to ever be a mother?  How do you accept that something you once dreamed about might never happen?  How do you tell your spouse that you’re reason they can’t be a parent?

I was spinning.  There were no answers.  Not optimistic ones at least.  So I needed something to focus on besides my traitorous body.  It so happens to be that it’s my body that needs the work.  I’m slightly overweight and pre-diabetic and not as fit as I was in my 20s.  What better way to punish my body than by punishing my body with soreness and starvation?  I’m kidding.  But no, really, it feel appropriate.  Bonus seemed to be that in my research on diets was that it helped fertility for some women.  I’m not holding out too much hope but it can’t hurt.  If nothing else, I’ll at least be a skinnier childless person, right?  Someone for the moms to envy?

So starts my year.  Currently my weight is 170.8 lbs with 44″ hips, 42″ waist, and 14″ upper arms.  I decided to measure my arms instead of my chest because that’s what I’m really annoyed over.  I absolutely hate finding a cute top and my arms not fitting.  Anyway, my goal is to lose 10 pounds in 6 months through cutting carbs/sugars and hitting the gym.  I don’t want to call it the Keto diet because it’ll be heavily modified to fit my IBD and ileostomy but I’ll be using a Keto cook book for recipes since they’re low in carbs/sugars generally.

Tomorrow I’ll go more into what I have planned for the week food-wise but if I’ve learned one lesson on my first day, it’s that I need a bigger fridge.  Or maybe to just buy for a few days at a time instead of the whole week.  I don’t think I can fit one more thing in there!

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year to you wherever you are right now!  ~ Kat (a.k.a. The Eternal Gypsy)

Disclaimer: New Year, New Life, New Blog

Hi, Everyone.

I’m sure you thought I was done. That I had disappeared. Well, almost. The person I was when I started this blog is gone at least. 2017 has been a tumultuous year for me and my family. So much has happened and it’s changed my life’s trajectory. This past year has brought into sharp focus aspects of my life where I was coasting. It put me through experiences and moments that caused me to ask myself, “How bad do you want it? What are you willing to do?” The most recent revelation of the year sent me into a tailspin. I had to pull my heart and soul back to step 1. After a lot of internal arguing, pleading, bargaining, and meltdowns, here is where I stand.

So what does all this mean? It means I’m finally tired of hiding. It means that now, in my mid-thirties, I’m over framing myself in away that I think others will accept better. It means I’m going to be the hideous, unapologetic, completely transparent train wreck that I am in real life when no one is looking. No more omitting my truth from the narrative. No more shying away from my Crohn’s or struggles with infertility or frustration with the military. (Bet you didn’t know I was a MilSpouse?!) It means that from this moment on, this blog will about Life! Mine in particular.

Now I know most of you followed me for my book reviews or thoughts on locations I’ve explored. This change will probably make you want to “unsubscribe”. While I understand, I sincerely hope you don’t. Books and trying new things are still my remedy for stress. An introvert needs a few vices right? Besides, I’m still a wanderer at heart. So there will still be reviews but they’ll just be mixed in with other posts.

As such and to close, there will be a major overhaul of the blog. I plan on switching up the layout, deleting some posts, and archiving others. By Tuesday, it should look like a completely different site.

Here’s to 2018 and the new Gypsy!

Love, Kat (a.k.a. The Eternal Gypsy).

Earthing at Beavercreek Wetlands

When life gets crazy, I have to get off the grid. Lately, it’s been very much so. Stress is… Well… Stressful. It doesn’t help that I have a health condition that can be acerbated by stress. Sometimes it feels like I’m running marathon, get tripped up, and spend the rest of the time stumbling along, trying to keep up. The only problem is, I have no idea where the finish line is so exhaustion sets in and I start living more in my head than in the present.

For obvious reasons, this isn’t a good thing. Tasks get dropped, things are forgot, depression hovers. So a reset is desperately needed. A moment to step back and see what’s important. Make a plan and take a breath without the computers and cell phones and date books and people pulling at me; screaming at me that this is paramount and needs to be done first when in actuality it isn’t that important.

Thus begins my tale of an unexpected Grounding at Beavercreek Wetlands…..


Civilized in a modern world, but disconnected from a primal, powerful source of energy and healing. See, the Earth is basically a six sextillion (that’s a six followed by twenty-one zeroes) metric ton battery that is continually being replenished by solar radiation, lightning, and heat from its deep-down molten core. The natural rhythmic pulsations of energy flowing through and emanating from the surface of the Earth keep the biological machinery and global life running in rhythm and balance-and that includes you! Unfortunately, we live like cut flowers, detached from the nourishing Earth energy. Earthing, also known as grounding, is simply reconnecting to the Earth’s healing energy.

Admittedly, I didn’t head out with the intention to Ground. I just wanted to hike with my dog. Get some fresh air. However, the Universe knows what I need more than I do. I need only listen. With the occasional proverbial smack upside the head. And by smack, I mean a slip into a muddy bog. Up to my ankles. Completely covering my shoes.


Normally I hike in boots that would prevent this type of thing. Good, sturdy ones that keep my feet dry while tromping through a wetland. But this day, I was wearing ballet flats. My overwhelmed head was wrapped up in my never ending to-do list and not thinking of wearing my boots. So after my flats filled with mud and I cursed myself for not wearing sensible shoes, I figured why the hell not. I rinsed them off in a nearby stream and spent the rest of my walk barefoot.


Bonus moment: I ran into a Grandfather and his Granddaughter walking the same trail. They had got lost looking for another trail and needed directions. After pointing out the way, I warned them of the bog and small pond that had creeped across the path. Seeing my bare feet, they chose to do the same and the squeals of laughter from the little girl as the mud oozed up between her toes brought a smile to my face.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

It’s been some time since I lasted posted. The start of the year saw me launching a home based business, celebrating mine and my guy’s birthdays plus our anniversary, and becoming embroiled in organizing a Home Business and Craft Bazaar for a local volunteer social group I joined. It’s all been great fun but I was so busy that the mere thought of sitting in front of a computer screen at the end of the day just didn’t get my creative juices flowing. That, and my time to indulge in reading was limited as well. I pledged to read 30 books this year on Goodreads, a far sight less than previous years, and I’m already behind. Bibliophiles talk of book hangovers, I was (and truthfully still am) going through book withdrawals. It was hard to look over at my bookshelf, at all the newly acquired novels just waiting for me to caress their pages, and not have the energy to devote to reading any of them.

But finally, FINALLY, my life is beginning to return to a normal rhythm. This means that I’ll be back with more book reviews and my thoughts on the local Dayton, OH area places worth visiting or missing. During my accidental self-imposed sabbatical, I visited a winery in Versailles, explored the WACO Museum, tried a few new local dive restaurants, and did crack pages of a couple books (just not as many as I would’ve liked. #AdultingSucks). One of the books I was able to sneak in was Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver. It’s the sequel to Delirium and book #2 in the series.

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Pandemonium quite literally picks up where Delirium ended. Unlike most books that have a bit of a recap in the beginning, don’t expect that here. The reader is dropped right into Lena’s drive to get as far away from the fence as possible. She’s injured and wholly unprepared to be in the Wilds. Especially alone. She’s also heartbroken over losing Alex. If it weren’t for a group led by Raven stumbling across her, Lena would’ve more than likely given up in and died in those woods. As it was, she was hard pressed to find the will to go on once her body had recovered. Everything she knew, everything she had planned for the future, was gone. My heart went out to her. Lena desperately needed a kick in the pants to get her firmly back on the side of the living and the kick came in the form of Raven.

Alex

I really liked Raven’s character. She was a bad ass with a soft heart she kept hidden. Slowly becoming a maternal figure, she taught Lena some tough lessons that needed to be learned if she was to survive in the Wilds and help with the Resistance. Raven was everything I had hoped Lena would become after reading the first book. Despite us seeing Lena get stronger and grow into this new mental construct she created to survive, there’s still traces of the original Lena that peaks through. I feel like Lauren was able to present us with a nice middle line between Lena’s old pushover personality and Raven’s stricter, more harder edged one. This amalgam is something I didn’t even know I wanted to see in Lena until it happened. So thank you, Ms. Oliver, for that.

TakingOne thing I did have problems with was the bouncing back and forth between “Then” and “Now”. Oliver chose to alternate her chapters, eventually merging into the present storyline. I suppose it was to keep the reader guessing but it mostly just messed the flow up for me. I would have much rather her present the story in a traditional linear way. The back and forth didn’t add anything to the story as far as I could tell. It wasn’t like she was having a flashback to reinforce a lesson she was living in the present. Which brings me to the main plot of this book… The Resistance kidnapping Julian.

Quick summary, Julian is the son of a very powerful man and leader of the Deliria Free America (DFA) organization. The DFA is pushing to give the Cure at an earlier age and take a more harder line against the Invalids. Julian heads up the Youth Division and was so far spared from getting the Cure due to a brain tumor. During a DFA rally, Julian and Lena (tasked with watching him) were both kidnapped and held hostage by a third faction, the Scavengers. Seemingly to be held for ransom. Despite Lena trying to keep Julian at arms length, they eventually warm to each other while imprisoned together and through their subsequent escape. For her part, she’s still in love with Alex and not ready to move on but as we know, sometimes the heart doesn’t cooperate. Julian grows on her the more he opens up about his past; how his older brother was infected and rebelled against their father, eventually losing his life. We see Lena experiencing almost the exact same things she did with Alex, but as a role reversal. Her, now the one showing Julian that life without love and emotion is not worth living.

Heal

I wanted to like Julian, and truthfully, I do. He’s a great guy. Smart, sweet, considerate. Normally a character I’d be all about. I’m just not sold on him being a love interest for Lena. He’s too innocent for the new person she has made herself into since losing Alex. They don’t mesh. I’m sure he’s fully capable of stepping up and will go through his own version of transformation in Requiem but for now, he’s just too soft. I didn’t feel the chemistry like I did when she was with Alex and I have no problem admitting that I’m fully and completely a #TeamAlex chick. I mean come on, the dude field dressed her leg when she was bit by that dog and took a bullet for her when they were trying to escape.

 I think it was this forced (to me) emotional dynamic and the timeline bouncing that made me not like this one as much as the first book. Even the two major plot twists at the end (which I was all GASP!! and EEK!!! for one of them) couldn’t save my overall feeling of the storyline. I walked away feeling “meh” at best. So ultimately I gave this 3 Stars. Not amazing but not horrible either. Just… There. I do plan on picking up the third and final one in the series, Requiem, just to see where Oliver takes that final scene. So stay tuned!

Freedom

Two for One Review: Angel Burn and Angel Fire by L.A. Weatherly

As my post title says, I’ll be going over two books in this review. Both are from the Angel Fire series – Angel Fire (Book #1) and Angel Burn (Book #2). I know there’s a third book, Angel Fever, and I’m guessing it is the final installation in this story. I haven’t read it yet though. Angel Burn was so hefty and drawn out, I think I need a break from this world. However, first things should be first so I’ll start with Angel Fire.

angel_burn

From Amazon:

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself does. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil.

When I initially read this, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it. It was interesting, but not what I would call an automatic favorite like Susan Ee’s Angelfall. To be honest, it still isn’t but after having sat with it for a while, I did enjoy it. It seemed a little long for a first book in a trilogy though (455 pages). To me, first books should wet the appetite and make you wish for more. This intro into Willow’s world was more of a full on meal. I wouldn’t say it dragged really… There was just a lot going on!

We start by meeting Willow as a typical high school girl – Nothing special, a little weird because she’s psychic, but that’s it. Average looking with average physical fitness. She lives with her aunt and helps take care of her mom who is mentally disabled. There’s no real mention of a father unless it’s the aunt lamenting that it’s Willow’s father’s fault for her mother’s condition. It’s not until about a quarter of the way into the book that we first hear of the angels. There’s a classmate that has met one and is planning to join the Church of Angels (a church set up by the angels so humans can worship them) but she wants Willow to read her future to confirm that it’s the best idea. When Willow sees through this girl’s palm the true damage that is being done to the people around her, she tries to stop the classmate from meeting with the angel again. This, of course, backfires epicly when the angel comes to confront Willow and realizes that she is a half angel. Something that isn’t supposed to exist at all.

Enter Alex. He’s an assassin by trade, trained to kill angels specifically. Believing he works for the CIA’s Project Angel division to combat the threat to humanity that angels have posed, he’s completely unaware that the angels have infiltrated the highest levels of the program. Alex, a legend in his own right for his efficiency and sterling record of dispatching his missions with zero problems, is also the son of the founding father of Angel Killers, AKs for short, which were absorbed by the CIA after Alex’s father’s death. Unfortunately, the AKs are basically being used as a government sanctioned hit squad by the angels now. All communication is done through text. He gets a location and basic description of the angel to be killed. No questions asked. He just does his job and moves on to the next assignment. That’s it. So when he gets the notice to take out a female angel, he thinks nothing of it. However, upon arriving in Maine and observing Willow to access the best time to strike, he begins to notice that something isn’t quite right about this job. She’s angel but not and doesn’t appear to be attacking humans either. Intrigued, he decides to wait and see what she’s about first. It’s not until he follows her to a Church of Angels service where she tries to save her classmate that he decides she shouldn’t be killed and there’s more to this story.

The rest of the book is spent with Alex and Willow on the run together. Alex has an instinctual distrust of all things angel so even though he finds Willow attractive, he still considers “other” for most of the book. Willow, for her part, spends the majority of her time grappling with finding out she’s half angel and what all that means (besides dodging angry Church of Angels followers bent on killing her). As with most couples that are on the lam and dependent on each other for survival, a friendship does eventually blossom and as trust slowly builds, so does the attraction. This budding new love is tested at the end when Willow is asked to take on essentially a suicide mission to stop the angels.

In my opinion, Weatherly is a master at the slow burn. I love that Willow and Alex’s relationship grew organically and it wasn’t the insta-love so many YA books have nowadays. Honestly, if that’s what I’m in the mood for, I’ll just pick up one of those 200 some odd page $3 Kindle romance stories. Most of the time though, I’d prefer it to be somewhat believable. The downside to seeing it all play out slowly, is it’s just that: Slow! While the story was interesting, I found myself getting distracted in places and once that happens, I get pulled out of the book. I honestly don’t know what could’ve been cut or edited to make it better but it’s something I experienced and disliked. In the end, I gave it 4-Stars on my Goodreads page.

dividing-line-floral

Now I’ll get into my review of Angel Fire. If you’re not looking for spoilers (not that I am really giving you any), I’d suggest you stop reading. From Amazon:

In the wake of the Second Wave, the angel menace has exploded, and Alex and Willow are on the lam. Willow’s prophetic dream points them to Mexico City, where they connect with a fledgling group of angel killers led by the exotically beautiful Kara, an Angel Killer from Alex’s past.

angel-fire

But the team remains suspicious of Willow, even after the more-experienced Alex takes over as leader, training them hard for a rush attack on the Seraphic Council, or “The Twelve.” This elite group of all-powerful angels is also under the scrutiny of Willow’s angel-father, Raziel, who has his own sinister plan to defeat them.

What Willow hasn’t told Alex is that there was also a mysterious boy in her dream, one she felt overpoweringly attracted to. When brooding, gorgeous Seb shows up in the flesh, he turns out to be another—possibly the world’s only other—half angel. He’s been searching for Willow all his life, and when Alex enlists this rival to help keep Willow safe, he can’t predict what chemistry will pass between them or how far Willow might go to keep Alex safe. Will their love endure or spell doomsday for the human race?

Okay, so I need a Gatorade after this marathon of a book. Like seriously, it was 638 pages! Normally, that wouldn’t be a big thing. I love big books and I can not lie. Haha! I am not, however, a fan of books that feel like they drag on FOREVER and don’t really move the main plot along! That’s what this one does and it completely killed the desire to pick up the third one any time soon. Let me set the stage…

The story opens with Willow and Alex on their way to Mexico to start a new training camp for Angel Killers (AKs). They choose Mexico City because Willow had a premonition that something serious was going to go down there. Great so far, yes? Absolutely! Then we run into Kara, a former AK that grew up with Alex and his older brother while their father ran the AK Camp in New Mexico. Shall I mention that Alex had a huge crush on Kara when he was younger? Even gave him his first real kiss? Kara has started a small band of former Angel Spotters that she is trying to train into AKs. (Backstory: Angel Spotters were the ones that kept an eye out for angels feeding off humans then relayed via text message the information to the Angel Killers). Our first encounter with this misfit group doesn’t go anywhere close to plan and Alex decides to step into the role of team lead. Sadly, while Alex is welcomed with mostly open arms, Willow is summarily shunned and distrusted.

Then comes Sebastian, or Seb for short. He’s another half angel. Personally, I’m struggling with his purpose in this story. On the one hand, he’s a handy tool to help Willow work through some problems she’s having with her angel self and to teach her skills she’ll need for the upcoming battle… But on the other hand, I almost feel like he was just created to cause drama where none was needed. According to Seb, he learned he was half angel when he was just a boy and has dreamed of Willow his whole life; even spending nearly every waking moment searching for her. Seb comes into the picture already deeply in love with Willow and wanting to be with her romantically. While he tries to hide his feelings at Willow’s request, Alex catches every lingering look and intense animosity grows between the two of them.

Furthermore, since both Willow and Seb are psychic, they pick up on the emotions of the other one. Initially, Willow is fascinated and awed by the fact that she’s not the only half angel in world. She also feels an intense draw to Seb (describing it as like meeting like). For her part though, she acknowledges that Seb is attractive but never truly doubts that she is in love with Alex. Willow combats Seb’s advances as smoothly as possible and never once lets him push past what would be considered friendly. Unfortunately, life is all about perception and their secret conversations and constant companionship sparks a deep jealousy in Alex. It all comes to a head when Alex discovers that some part of Willow’s mind is always on Seb, even when her and Alex are alone together. He asks her to choose between him and Seb. Willow, already concerned that she’s somehow hurting Alex’s life force, can’t imagine not having Seb around so she refuses to rise to Alex’s challenge. Alex takes that as her preferring Seb and breaks up with her.

Ultimately, the plot to destroy “The Twelve” seems to take a backseat to the emotional drama that unfolds around Seb, Willow, and Alex. Heck, even Kara gets into the mix when she kisses Alex while he and Willow are broken up. Sure, they talk a little bit about strategy, going on training hunts, getting their marksmanship up… But really, it’s mostly the relationships that take center stage. The actual battle only lasts maybe 20 pages. That was really disappointing to me. I enjoy a good angst ridden romance but this just seemed too much and a little forced. I didn’t get Seb’s feelings for Willow. How can you be in love with someone when you’ve never even met them? It seemed very stalkerish to me. I just don’t agree with the role Weatherly chose for him. I think it would have been so much better if he came on the scene as a friend or brotherly companion – sans the romantic feelings. It unnecessarily complicated things, drew the plot out way longer than it should’ve been, and took away from the story as a whole.

I finished the book feeling worn out emotionally. I was angry, sad, hopeful, frustrated, and at times happy. I just wished those feelings had more to do with the destruction of the angels than the interpersonal turmoil. I gave this one a 3-Star Review for the unneeded left field curve ball.

A Dream Came True at Wolf Creek Habitat

The day started like pretty much any other day. Chores, playing on Facebook, debating which book to dive into next. Then I receive a text. No big deal, right? People get texts all the time. So why was it so important? This text was from my brother, again, not so unusual, but it was the message. He had found a wolf preserve within driving distance to both of us. Knowing it was a dream we each held dear, plus a major bucket list item, I was beyond excited!

img_20161203_134456688

Not many people know that the Wolf is my Spirit Guide. He came to me when I was little, during a tumultuous time in my life, and hasn’t left me since. Growing up, we hear the stories of the Big Bad Wolf and Werewolves. In movies and television shows, they’re always portrayed as killers and bringers of the darkest evil. However, they never scared me. On the contrary, they fascinated me. There was a secret to them that not many knew. I wonder if this lack of fear was because even then, I knew we were kindred souls. I too had a hidden life and strength. When I’d go camping in the backwoods of Florida, my childlike imagination would hope to see one. I didn’t know that wolves haven’t roamed those areas in forever.

img_20161203_142032005

Native American and Celtic custom regard the Wolf as the way of finding the deepest levels of self, of inner knowing and intuition. (…) The wolf, is a symbol of the night. This time can seem lonesome and scary to us. But it is also the time when img_20161203_220246through dreams, we may discover valuable things about ourselves. This is a lonely path. To truly come to understand yourself, you must be alone, undeterred by the beliefs, judgements and views of others. The wolf teaches us to learn about our inner self and to discover our inner power and strength. However, to achieve this, we must take risks and face our deepest fears. Wolf requires sincerity. Though demanding a lot of us, much is given in return; a spirit helper that is always there to help, giving us extraordinary powers of endurance. Learn to hear the voice within yourself, which in silence is as clear as the sound of the wolf howling in the night. ~ Shamanic Journey; Wolf Power Animal Symbol of Wildness, Social and Family Values

As I grew older and started to think about what I wanted to do as img_20161203_140651667an adult, it always came back to them. I wanted to be near them. In the wild, in a sanctuary, at a preserve or zoo. Unfortunately, I got really sick and my plans for college had to be put on hold. That dream job hasn’t left me though. It may take me a while yet, but I will one day work to save them and teach others about these amazing animals.

Wolf Creek Habitat in Southeastern Indiana does exactly that. Their mission is to “educate people on the importance of these magnificent creatures.” They’re only open on weekends and the hours vary based on the season. A visit to their Facebook page will give you any specifics for that particular day such as operating hours. For example, they were closing early on the day we went due to an educational program some of the wolves were attending.

img_20161203_140321303

On the 2nd Friday of every month, they also host an event called ‘Howlin’ at the Habitat‘. Wolves are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk, so holding the event from 6 – 9 p.m. will allow you to see them when they’re most active. The cost is $50 per person regularly ($25 for military members and children under 12 years old) and that will get you into 3 of the enclosures. Groups of 10 or more will only cost you $40/person. You also have to be at least 53″ tall to interact with the wolves. If you’re unsure about all that and would just like to see them, or have smaller kids that can’t join in the fun, it is always free to come stand on the catwalk and observe from above.

If you do choose to go in, at least 2 handlers are with you at all times and they’re exceptionally knowledgeable on both the wolves at the sanctuary and the species in general. They recommend that you wear long pants and a t-shirt or long sleeved shirt as well as closed toed shoes. The wolves can and will jump up on you so I’d recommend not coming in with something you might worry about getting messed up. Speaking of the wolves, they also like shiny things so jewelry, barrettes, zippers, and the like might become an object for chewing. My hair clip was of particular fascination and so was another participant’s nose ring. The only other restrictions are cameras. They make it a point to not allow any large cameras in the enclosures. Cell phones and compact cameras are acceptable but they won’t take responsibility if they get messed up. Again, checking the website will give you all this information too.

Started by a family which still lives on the property, Wolf Creek Habitat is registered as a non-profit organization and is USDA Licensed. All funds raised by admission, educational events, and merchandise go straight into the running of the sanctuary. Food, maintenance, and electric are the biggest expenses according to the brochure.

Our goals at Wolf Creek are to provide the best home and care possible to the wolves that are owned illegally, abused and neglected, and those that people for some reason inappropriately choose to raise as pets (of which usually get euthanized or abandoned once people realize that wild animals don’t make good pets and don’t want them anymore). It is unfortunate that wolves under these circumstances could not survive if they were attempted to be reintroduced into the wild. Animals can live their lives at Wolf Creek being very loved and very well taken care of by some of the most passionate people we’ve ever met. We strive to educate about the false stigma that has been created around these non-violent animals. Movies and stories make wolves sound like vicious killers and they simply are not. Wolves are tranquil, innately afraid of humans, and animals that give balance to nature by predication of the overpopulated hoofed animals (deer, elk, caribou, moose, buffalo, etc.).

~ About Us; Wolf Creek Habitat Pamphlet

I think the short film, called Ambassadors, made back in 2013 by the owners of WCH, Kathy and Terry, says it all. It’s about 6 minutes long and totally worth a watch. Wolf Creek Habitat has also been recognized by the Ian Somerhalder Foundation and visited by the man himself. You’ll see signed pictures of him and group photos with the staff as you walk into the office.

img_20161203_140713111_hdr

As another point of outreach, a WCH wolf has been featured in a music video and you can even have some professional pictures taken with them (think: Senior Pictures). Just note that those are done by appointment only and strictly during certain days.

I could easily gush forever. On the one hand, I want to type about everything – The Wolves, what I learned, the howling that broke out (Yes! I absolutely got a video!!). On the other, I don’t really have the words to describe my visit either. It’s just something that was felt, in my soul, to be right. It was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to go again, this time sharing the wonder with my husband. Having spent time with the wolves, it has only solidified my resolve to one day work with these incredibly misunderstood animals. I owe this moment, this incredible memory, to my not so little, little brother! Thank you for finding this place and telling me about it. Sharing it with you was a blessing.

img_20161203_151447773

I’d like to close by sharing my encounter with Aurora, the Timberwolf. I think of all of them, she was my favorite!