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BritWeek: A Royal Treat!

30 April 2016

Hi Lovelies! Remember how yesterday I went to a tasting and preview of Royal Chef Darren McGrady's royal inspired desserts for Sunday's BritWeek Gala? Well it's time to unveil some of the scrumptious and mouth-watering goodness. Get out your imaginary forks and enjoy!

Z: Zest for Life

We've done it! We're survivors of the A to Z Challenge. And it feels amazing. After a month of looking to the past for quotes, victims and statistics about child abuse and sexual assault, it is time to look to the future. Yesterday we focused on saying goodbye to suffering in the past. And today is a new day. It is a new opportunity to find and embrace the zest for life.

BritWeek: A Tasty Sneak Peek

29 April 2016

Yours truly with Royal Chef Darren McGrady.
BritWeek has officially wet my appetite and I bet you too will be salivating over these scrumptious royal desserts whipped up by Royal Chef Darren McGrady who worked in the Royal Kitchen at Buckingham Palace for the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh and their guests for 11 years before becoming the Private Chef for H.R.H. The Princess of Wales for four years until the tragic death of Princess Diana...

BritWeek is Making a Splash in LA!

Hi lovelies! Have you heard of Brit Week? If you are like me and hopelessly clueless, it is an annual celebration of the creative fusion between the United Kingdom and California (and now Miami) founded by Nigel Lythgoe (of So You Think You Can Dance fame) and then Consul General Bob Peirce ten years ago. Every Spring, Brit Week hosts a program of events that promotes British creativity, innovation and excellence in California across multiple categories including, film & television, music, art, fashion, design, retail, sport, philanthropy, business, and more.

This year's LA festivities are happening from 23 April - 8 May. That means that there are still plenty of interesting events worth checking out including:

Y: Yesterday

Wow! Only two more A to Z Challenge posts left! I cannot believe what a fabulous time of reflection and learning this month has been. A big thank you to all of you who have joined me on this journey and left a comment or two to share your wisdom and thoughts. For those of you just joining me, hello! I have been focusing on child abuse and sexual assault in hopes of giving a voice to victims and survivors and encouraging victims, survivors and family/friends! For this next to last post, I would like to share some encouragement...

X: eXcuses

28 April 2016

Happy Thursday. As part of this month's A to Z Challenge, I am focusing on bringing awareness to child abuse and sexual assault. It has been one eXtreme and eXhausting process but hopefully I have been able to give voice to these victims and survivors and to remind my lovely readers that we are not alone. So today lets talk about those horrid eXcuses people give for abuse and assault.

W: West Side Story

27 April 2016

Four more days left on this A to Z Challenge where I have been focusing on giving a voice and bringing awareness to the numerous cases of child abuse and sexual assault happening worldwide. With that in mind, and after two very heavy posts about children who were abused and murdered lets focus on the 'fictional' West Side Story and the infamous Anita near-rape/taunt scene.

V: Victims

26 April 2016

Good morning! Five more days of my first A to Z Challenge. Almost a survivor of the challenge! :) This year, I am focusing on child abuse and sexual assault in hopes of bringing awareness to the horrid situations happening on a daily basis worldwide. Today lets focus on two of the VICTIMS of some of the most infamous child abuse cases and give them a VOICE.

U: Gabrielle UNION

25 April 2016

Happy Monday. It's the 21st day of my A to Z Challenge and what a journey! For those of you who haven't been following, I chose to focus on child abuse and sexual assault in hopes of raising awareness for my readers. After the positive feedback I received on my Quotes post, I want to start the final week off with a couple quotes from Gabrielle UNION, best known for her work in Bring It On and Being Mary Jane, who was raped at gun-point when she was 19.

SB Zoo: Himalayan Monal Pheasant

24 April 2016

Have you been enjoying The Joyous Living's series on the Santa Barbara Zoo and its gorgeous offerings? Today I am thrilled to share with you one of the zoo's most beautiful residents -- the Himalayan Monal Pheasant.

Guard Your Eyes and Heart

23 April 2016

I will set no worthless thing before my eyes... It shall not fasten its grip on me. - Psalm 101:3
Numerous films, television series and miniseries are vying for your attention and patronage each week. So how do you choose which ones to spend your hard earned dollars on and watch? Do you look at the ratings? Reviews? Family Guides? Or do you take a chance and see a film/show because your favorite actor is the star?

As a young person, I was in the habit of seeing a movie because of the high critical praise or because someone I admired was in the film. About 5 years ago, I felt convicted in my faith and decided I needed to better guard my eyes and heart against unnecessary crassness and ugliness and came up with three questions that I ask before seeing any film/t.v. series.

This post is not meant to judge anyone else or tell you what to (or not to) watch but I hope that those of you who are interested might find this post helpful.

T: Ted Bundy

Happy Saturday! Today was a tough one as I could not think of what I wanted to share with y'all as I partake in this A to Z Challenge. But I reckon there really aren't that many more perfect Ts to mention in connection to sexual assault so today I bring you Ted Bundy and his many portrayals in literature and film.

Fantasie SS16: Ivana

22 April 2016

Hello, beauties! It's wedding season and that always brings out lace, pastels and luxurious lingerie. So whether you are a bride, going to a lingerie shower or just looking for something feminine and beautiful, allow me to present the gorgeous Ivana set.

S: Shadow

T.G.I.F.! Have you been following my A to Z Challenge story this month? What a journey! I have been studying and trying to give a voice for child abuse and sexual assault awareness this month.

Today, I am excited to introduce: SHADOW.


21 April 2016

Good afternoon! This afternoon as part of my A to Z Challenge (focusing on Child Abuse and Sexual Assault) I am excited to share about the late Ann Rule, my favorite true crime author.

Q: Quotes from Men

20 April 2016

Good morning! Today is the 20th of April and it has been quite an experience going through this A to Z Challenge with y'all. For those of you new to my series, I am focusing on child abuse and sexual assault during the month of April to bring awareness, provide support and a reminder lest we should ever forget. I hope you are enjoying this experience as much as me.

For today, Q stands for Quotes. Specifically, quotes from men who were sexually assaulted and abused. Too often the focus is on the male perpetrators and yet as I mention in my D for Date Rape post, men are also victims/survivors. So here's hoping I can give them a voice by repeating some quotes and remind my male readers that you are not alone. Even though many male assaults go unreported, there are others out there. You are not alone.

P: Terrell Peterson

19 April 2016

Good morning! As part of this month's A to Z Challenge, I am focusing on child abuse and sexual assault awareness/prevention and today's story is the tragic tale of Terrell Peterson, a 5 year old little boy, who was murdered partially as a result of gross misconduct by the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services.

O: Oatman Girls

18 April 2016

Happy Monday! This month I have been sharing stories about child abuse and sexual assault as part of the A to Z Challenge. And what an amazing experience it has been, especially given the opportunity to share true stories of victims and conquerors. Today's story is about the Oatman girls who were abducted and enslaved by a Native American tribe in 1851.

N: Never Forget

16 April 2016

Happy Saturday! Today's post is going to be short and sweet. In honour of the letter "N", let's focus on those victims we've previously mentioned lest they ever be forgotten.

Never forget! Never forget the victims and never forget the atrocities that made them victims. Let's learn from history and move forward!

M: Murdering Mothers

15 April 2016

Happy Friday! What an invigorating #azchat last night listening to others share their excitement for the challenge and getting to MOB other bloggers' pages. I was gratified to have 10 'mob' my page and it's gratifying to know that my topic on Child Abuse and Sexual Assault has been helpful for you guys! Thanks for your mentions... Means so much! xx

Moving onward - "M". We're half way through! And it's time to talk about those murdering mothers. God forbid they should exist but sadly they do...

Jungle Book LEAPS OFF the Screen!

14 April 2016

It's here! The wait is over and Disney's The Jungle Book is leaping off the screen starting tonight! And trust me, you are not going to want to miss this awe-inspiring live action remake of the beloved animated film.

L: Likens Case

Good afternoon! Today's A to Z Challenge post is on another tough topic but hopefully by people reading this, the story will never be forgotten and hopefully one day people won't commit these heinous crimes.

Freya Lingerie: Utopia

Freya's Utopia set. Photo by The Joyous Living.
Happy Thursday! Here in the Ventura County it is lovely with just the right hint of a breeze making it pleasant to leave the windows open allowing in fresh air. A lovely spring day! And ladies have I got a treat for you... presenting Freya Lingerie's recent Utopia collection for this SS16! It's everything you'll want - playful, sexy, colorful and has you dreaming of a tropical summer in paradise!

SB Zoo: Elephants

13 April 2016

Welcome back to The Joyous Living's series on the Santa Barbara Zoo. Did you know that the SB Zoo has had the same two Asian Elephants since 1972? They are Little Mac and Sujatha.

K: Kids at School

Happy Hump (Wednesday) Day! It's also the 13th of April and this great A-to-Z Challenge I have embarked on with some of the most delightful bloggers I have met. I have chosen a tough set of topics - Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness - and am amazed by all the wonderful feedback and comments I have received from you all! Thank you!

So moving on... Post #11! Let's address the issue of kids at school. Do you, parents and kids alike, know your rights?

Night Manager: Olivia Colman

12 April 2016

Tom Hiddleston + Olivia Colman. Credit: AMC.
 We're back with part #3 of our Meet The Night Manager Cast!

The Night Manager is coming direct from a successful run on BBC One to America on 19 April 2016 (my birthday!) thanks to AMC and what a cast the creators have assembled including Hugh Laurie ("House, M.D."), Tom Hiddleston ("Thor", "I Saw the Light"), and Elizabeth Debicki ("The Man from Uncle"). But what about the rest of this stellar cast? Today we bring you the superb BAFTA-winning Olivia Colman.

J: Jungle Book

After seeing The Jungle Book last night at the El Capitan (review coming soon), I knew I had to somehow use Kipling's The Jungle Book as my "J" for the A to Z Challenge. Please bear with me as I use some latitude to discuss "Child Abuse Prevention Month".

In Kipling's The Jungle Book series, Mowgli runs away to be with the monkeys and after being rescued and brought home by Baloo and Bagheera he is subsequently spanked.

When I was a child in the 80s there was little to no talk about spanking. You would see a mom spanking a child in the grocery store and nobody would blink. Nowadays, I imagine many people would see that as "child abuse" and might even call the cops on that mother. And who among you remembers teachers using wooden paddle to punish for bad behavior? Now of course there is a "time-out chair" but it wasn't too long ago that corporal punishment was the norm and spanking was an acceptable choice for parents.

But now there is a raging debate about whether spanking is in fact child abuse. CNN contributor, Navarrette says spanking is common sense whereas a Texan mom was arrested and sentenced for sparking her child. What do you think??

In Kipling's children book, Mowgli is spanked (given "love-taps") as punishment for running away and disobedience.
Bagheera's reasoning for the "love-taps" is that "Sorrow never stays punishment" and that "(Mowgli) has done mischief, and blows must be dealt." In the early 1900s when the book came out, there was little discussion about this scene but you'll notice that none of Disney's The Jungle Book films show any such "love-taps" nor this specific scene of mischief being done either.
Bagheera and Mowgli in the 2016 The Jungle Book. (c) Disney.
So what do you think? Should parents be worried about possible probation and sentencing for spanking their kids? Would Kipling have included these "love-taps" in his book if he lived now?

a2z Health: Massage Review

Looking for a massage? If you're in the Ventura County you might have heard about a2z Health (a massage therapy school) in Thousand Oaks. For a discounted price you can get a student Swedish Massage. But is it worth it?

The Night Manager: Tom Hollander

11 April 2016

We're back with part #2 of our Meet The Night Manager Cast!

The Night Manager is coming direct from a successful run on BBC One to America on 19 April 2016 (my birthday!) thanks to AMC and what a cast the creators have assembled including Hugh Laurie ("House, M.D."), Tom Hiddleston ("Thor", "I Saw the Light"), and Elizabeth Debicki ("The Man from Uncle"). But what about the rest of this stellar cast? Today we bring you the under-appreciated BAFTA-nominated Tom Hollander.

I: Influence

Happy Monday! I left you with a rather heavy topic on Saturday (Helter Skelter/Charles Manson) so today let's start off the week with gratitude and recognition for those who use their influence as politicians, actors, musicians, etc. to make a difference for those less fortunate!

SB Zoo: Katniss and Peeta

10 April 2016

Say hello to Katniss and Peeta! No Joke. At the Santa Barbara Zoo, the two resident otters are named Katniss and Peeta (most likely after the stars of The Hunger Games trilogy).

The Night Manager: Natasha Little

The Night Manager is coming direct from a successful run on BBC One to America on 19 April 2016 (my birthday!) thanks to AMC and what a cast the creators have assembled including Hugh Laurie ("House, M.D."), Tom Hiddleston ("Thor", "I Saw the Light"), and Elizabeth Debicki ("The Man from Uncle"). But what about the rest of this stellar cast? Leading up to the debut of The Night Manager on 19 April, The Joyous Living will be introducing you to some of the miniseries' talented stars beginning with the delightful Natasha Little.

SB Zoo: African Lions

09 April 2016

Welcome aboard The Joyous Living's series on the Santa Barbara Zoo! Located about 90 minutes north of Los Angeles in the picturesque city of Santa Barbara, California, the zoo is one of the most beautiful and lush small zoos in the country and worthy of a visit whether as a half-day or full-day excursion.

Let's begin with the Cats of Africa exhibit:

H: Helter Skelter

Happy Saturday! Apparently today is National Unicorn Day (who knew? LOL) so as I sit in my blue unicorn onesie (yes, I own one and they are super comfy!) I want to thank you all for sharing with me on this journey as we discover and bring awareness to "sexual assault" and "child abuse" this month.

G: Getting Through the Day

08 April 2016

Thank God it's Friday! It has been a little over a week since the A to Z Challenge began and I am loving it! I hope you are enjoying my journey half as much as I am as we pay homage to "Sexual Assault Awareness" and "Child Abuse Prevention" month. Today, G stands for Getting Through the Day: Strategies for Adults Hurt as Children by Nancy J. Napier.

Nancy J. Napier's book, Getting Through the Day: Strategies for Adults Hurt as Children, enables adults who had been traumatized during their childhood.  Napier provides "new" strategies to meet the demands of daily living with the help of numerous exercises for self-help.
About the Author:
Nancy J. Napier is a marriage and family therapist in private practice in New York City. She is a former president of the New York Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociative Disorders, a board member of the New York Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and a past board member of the New York Milton H. Erickson Society for Psychotherapy and Hypnosis. She is the author of several books, including Sacred Practices for Conscious Living.

Where to Buy: Amazon ($20.95), B&N ($20.95)

Hope this has been helpful! And remember that every victim needs an outlet to share and find their voice! Therapy and journaling are my two favourite methods for finding my voice but to each their own so if you know someone who is looking for a self-help book, this might be a worthwhile option. The reviews are high and Napier's CV is impressive. Cheers!

Updated on 7-18-18: Price is now $20.95.

Misty Cotton Shares Her Love for Cabrillo Music Theatre

07 April 2016

Misty Cotton.
Misty Cotton will be joining Ventura County's Cabrillo Music Theatre for their much anticipated spring production of Stephen Schwartz's Children of Eden. This is her third time starring in one of Cabrillo Music Theatre's beautifully produced shows having previously starred in 2011's The Marvelous Wonderettes (as Missy) and 2010's Happy Days (as Pinky Tuscadero).

Playing the duel role of Eve and Mama Noah, in Children of Eden, the age old tale of parents and children and letting go, Misty Cotton was generous enough to spare a few minutes for The Joyous Living to share her love for Cabrillo Music Theatre and what she hopes you will take away from this lush production! Enjoy!

F: Fritzl Case

It's Thursday and what a journey we've gone on so far! My appreciation to everyone for following along as we learn more about "Sexual Assault" and "Child Abuse" this month.

Today's F stands for the Fritzl Case.

E: Enough (2002)

06 April 2016

Happy Wednesday! Thanks for sharing in my A-to-Z Challenge this month, focusing on "Child Abuse Prevention" and "Sexual Assault Awareness"! Today E is for Enough, the 2002 thriller starring Jennifer Lopez as an abused wife.

What a Beautiful Day!

05 April 2016

Today was one of the most wonderful and beautiful 5 Aprils I have ever experienced. Thanks to all those of you who sent such sweet words, prayers and love my way! Each was appreciated with a heart full of love and thanksgiving. So for a few snippets of today:

D: Date Rape

Happy Tuesday, lovelies! Thanks so much for following my A to Z Challenge. It's been a tough but rewarding challenge focusing on such tough subjects as "Child Abuse Prevention" and "Sexual Assault Awareness". Today being 5 April it is time to focus on "D" and a chance for me to share my own story, if you will indulge.

C: Charity

04 April 2016

Happy Monday! Today is 4 April and hence a chance to showcase the letter "C" as part of this month's A-to-Z Challenge! I am so glad to be participating in this programme for the first (and hopefully not last time) this year. With a heavy topic such as I have chosen -- to shed light on Child Abuse & Sexual Assault Awareness -- today seems a perfect day to showcase a couple of the many (!) charities that bring awareness to the ongoing abuse and work to lower the number of victims.

B: Breaking Dishes

02 April 2016

Day #2! I am so excited to be bringing awareness to two of April's national commencement topics - Sexual Assault Awareness & Child Abuse Prevention.
Today I bring you a short story I wrote in 2006 entitled, Breaking Dishes. I hope you enjoy it and remember that all abuse/assault victims need an outlet to vent and find restoration before they can be conquerors and survivors. Let's enable our loved ones to find their voice.

A: Amber Hagerman

01 April 2016

Let's get started! Today marks the first day of April, the National Child Abuse Prevention Month and today is the first day of my first Blogging from A to Z challenge.
In honour of the letter "A", let's discuss Amber Hagerman, a sweet 9 year old who's abduction and murder 20 years ago led to the famous AMBER Alert programme.

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