Tag Archives: Star Wars

Heather’s Top Two Movies Of 2016


“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

– Meister Eckhart, German Christian mystic

2016 was a challenging year for me personally, for many of my loved ones, for my students, for our country, for the world.  I want it to be sealed with a kiss of hope and happiness, so My Favorites posts are expressions of gratitude for the people who created things that made me happy this year.  I hope they make you happy, too.


These are the best of the movies I saw in the theater in 2016.  They were memorable for the sheer “butt travel factor,” because they took me away from my regular life for a couple of hours in powerful ways.  For a year that had many ups and downs, it was a gift to visit these strange places and witness the stories unfold:



Take tissues, fyi.


Arrival – I had no idea what to expect from this movie because I’d only seen the previews and I’m grateful I went in as a blank slate for this gorgeous movie. For a film about linguistics and the power of words, the dialogue is elegantly sparse and utilitarian.  It’s beautifully-shot and the message is pitch-perfect as we embark on a Trump presidency.







A great escape!


Rogue One –  A stand alone film that functions like a novella between Episode 3 and Episode 4, this installment is full of Easter eggs and connections that are fabulous for an OG Star wars fan like me.  There’s great action, beautiful scenery, wonderful chemistry, and a Jimmy Smitts cameo (swoon!).  This almost makes up for the messes that were Episodes 1 and 2.



What are your favorite movies from 2016? Please share in the comments!

Detoxing From Social Media


Over my school district’s winter break, I am taking a break from social media.  From December 24th through January 3rd, I am not checking Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  In the interest of transparency, I have logged into Facebook to check yoga class times and to see if anyone has posted anything wacky on my author page, but that’s it.

And it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be to go cold turkey.

I’m a fan of social media, largely in part because I use generally use it for the Forces of Good: keep in touch with friends and family, share information, offer a high five or virtual hug and laugh at funny videos and memes.  I also wanted to be totally present with my husband over the holiday because starting a new job and finishing a book has made me candidate for #1 Slacker Wife 2015.

I also have a very sick family member and I am reflecting a lot on the preciousness of time.  If I get a terminal disease, I am not going to miss liking people’s statues or picture of flowers.  I will miss hugging  people and walking through the woods.

But I didn’t realize how automatic it has become to click on the blue and white F on my iPhone screen.  It was totally automatic.  It freaked me out.  And made me feel ashamed of being so connected to this computer in my hand.

My thoughts so far:

Day 1 (12/24) : This is great!  It’s fun to be so disconnected and to live like it’s 2006. Please text me your photos from Christmas Eve dinner because I’m detoxing from social media.  See, I have self control. Now give me one of those cookies…

Day 2 (12/25)  I want to see people’s Christmas photos!  But it’s so nice to be out of the loop. But I want to see your kids in their Christmas outfits!

Day 3 (12/26) : Periphery, Harlen. Social media is  all periphery.  You’ll be in touch with anyone who really matters. But what’s going on???  I had to text my husband a meme I made instead of posting it on his FB page.  It was an Omar Little meme and it was about ceviche – who wouldn’t want to see that? Oh well. It was just for him.

Day 4 (12/27):  I really want to tell everyone – the entire universe – how awesome Star Wars: The Force Awakes is!  I want to tweet J.J. Abrams and tell him I have officially forgiven him for the ending of Lost.  Instead, I will rave to my husband and the friends we watched it with.  I will text my sister-in-law back because she saw it today, too.  And I am good with that.

Day 4 (12/28):  I am reading REAL news sources more now.  I am actually going to The Washington Post app instead of my friends self-selecting for me.   It’s only been four days? I’m PROUD of myself for being off social media for four days. Proud?  That’s terrible.  Shameful.  Proud.  Wow. It’s a good thing I am taking a break.  I’m wondering what the outcome will be.







Sunday Funday: My Tribe of Princesses (No Pink Allowed, Unless You Are A Pink Lady)

Sunday Funday: My Tribe of Princesses (No Pink Allowed, Unless You Are A Pink Lady)

I totally refuse to buy anything pink or Disney Princess for my niece or any of my children’s friends. I’m SICK of pink everything and I’m sick of Disney princesses.  Like Candy Crush Saga and scary horror books, pink and princesses are fine in moderation (all four make it difficult to sleep).  Given it’s #maythe4thbewithyou and Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood, I’ve been thinking a lot about which fictional women influence my writing. I’m not going to say anything literary here, nothing related to my English or creative writing degree, so flee now if you are waiting for a Shakespeare shout out.  If you’re a fan of pop culture,  here are five fictional women who have somehow influenced my writing and have helped shape Marina Konyeshna, the main character in my trilogy. Heck, they have all inspired me personally, too:


5. Stephanie Zinone.  The gum-smacking, cigarette-smoking, pants-hiding, motorcycle-loving star of Grease 2 was my idol growing up.  She wanted a Cool Rider AND went bowling.   Hey, I was on a bowling team!  So that made me halfway cool, right? I would have given up my  Sunday morning cartoons to be a Pink Lady.  Stephanie learned her lesson that she was missing out on love by having narrow expectations and she got the cute, Australian boy, too.

4. Julie McCoy from The Love BoatJulie McCoy from The Love Boat???? Are you wondering if I took too much Allegra today?  Come on, Julie was the problem-solver of the ship, had sensible hair, wore sensible shoes, and was the princess of everyone’s heart on that ship. I wanted her job – she got to go to Puerto Vallarta and meet Charo!  She was a career gal, traveling the world.  My friends voted her the actress most likely to play me in a Peace Corps Western Russia Six movie because I was the event planner for our group. What an honor! Julie worked with purpose and always had a smile in the stickiest of situations.

3. Wonder Woman. She wore an awesome headpiece, had magic bracelets, and flew a plane, an INVISIBLE plane, nonetheless (How about all of the birds that flew into that one? What a mess. Did WW even have a crew to clean that up?).  She was a butt-kicking brunette in a world of bleached blondes.  Now that I’m older, I am in awe of the garment architecture that kept the girls up and her tummy in.  I  even wore a Wonder Woman bathing suit during my first trip to Disney World.  Take that, princesses. Didn’t need you then, either.

2. Batgirl. Forget tea parties with my stuffed animals. I’d put on my mom’s leather, high-heeled boots and re-enact the scene where Batgirl had to fend of her attackers with her hands tied behind her back.  With my own arms held behind my back with an invisible rope, I clipped, clopped, and scuffed my way around the linoleum floor in the dining room, kicking invisible Bad Guy hiney.  Until my mom told me to put her darn boots back in the closet already.

1. Princess Leia.The swing set in the backyard wasn’t just a swing set, it was the Millennium Falcon. And when it was time to play Star Wars, I made sure I always got to be Leia (Sorry, cousin Bonnie. Yes, I was a brat. This apology is about 35 years late).  Leia was a multifaceted bad-ass.  The was the  shrewd princess in her “Help Me Obi Wan Kanobi, You’re My Only Hope” hologram.  She was the gun-slinging warrior in this.  A hottie in this (Yes, she was a slave here. I get it. My feminist side is hitting me upside with a light saber as I write this.  But she owns it somehow.).  And the gracious, elegant diplomat here.  She had it all going on.  Leia was goal-oriented, surrounded herself with great friends, and was well-spoken. It wasn’t her fault she made out with her brother – family secrets stink.  To this day, I hope I channel some of her intelligence and strategic thinking as I make my way through this crazy life as a writer and teacher.  The most important thing I take from her is that we can’t do it alone.  We all need our tribes, our Hans, our Lukes, our R2s, our C3POs and our Wookies.  In HOPE YOU GUESS MY NAME, Marina can’t get through the geocaching competition without the different skills offered by Gilly, Kendra, and Arman.  Without our tribes, ladies, we are nothing.

I’m so grateful these five fictional women were a bigger part of my influences than the warbling princesses looking for a Prince Charming.  There’s room for all of these versions of what it means to be a girl/woman but let’s get our girls caring more about strength, purpose, and fierceness rather than being pretty princesses.

Who are your Sheroes? Tell us in the comments below: