Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thoughts On Being Authentic - Friday Reflections (Not on Friday)


As I prepared for this prompt about authenticity, my mind was flooded with numerous examples of inauthenticity from my life and from that of my friends. 

A male friend told me once about how his first wife acted differently before they married.  He is convinced that she was a mission to marry a "good man" (apparently her first husband was abusive) and therefore was on her best behavior throughout their courtship, never allowing any of her flaws or bad habits to be seen.  But, as it often goes, keeping up a facade is exhausting and about a year into the marriage, unable to maintain the pretense any longer, her true colors started to show through.  Unfortunately, this version of herself, her real self, was not what my friend thought he had married. They divorced two kids and seven years later.  He once said that he wished she would've been herself from the beginning, that way they could've saved each other a lot of time, money, aggravation, and disappointment.

Recently, another friend of mine echoed similar sentiments about his wife, saying that she behaved in a certain way just to "get him."  Apparently when they were dating, she pretended to enjoy many of the outdoor activities that he enjoys like camping and fishing. But, once they were married, she disclosed that she didn't like doing those things after all. My friend has eluded that he feels swindled because he thought he was getting a companion with similar interests, someone to do things with, but that isn't the case.  He's married to someone with whom he has little in common and with each passing year, the distance between them gets a little larger and the marriage gets less satisfying.

For my next example, I dug deep, going way back into my single days when I was online dating.  I met this guy whom I liked, but he and I lived about an hour and a half apart, so we spent a lot of time chatting online and talking on the phone before meeting in person.  We knew what the other looked liked, for I had a picture on my profile and he had emailed me a picture that he had scanned and uploaded that was 2-3 years old.  (Remember, digital photography was still relatively new.) My profile picture was about a year old and I disclosed that my hair was shorter and highlighted, but basically everything else was the same. He never I mentioned any changes in his appearance, so I just figured that probably looked the same.

When he and I finally met, had he not shared what kind of car he'd be driving and had I not seen him getting out of the silver Pontiac, I don't think I would've recognized him.  You see, in the 2-3 years since his picture had been taken, he had doubled in size.  

Wait a second!  I have never cared if a man was overweight because I've been overweight all my life.  That was not the problem.  My problem was that the man I sat across the table from during dinner that evening didn't match the mental picture of the man I had chatted with and talked to on the phone for two months. There was a weird disconnect between what I had been led to believe and what was real and I had a hard time reconciling the two.  Anyway, the date was weird and I believe he felt it, too.  He never asked me out again and I wasn't disappointed that he didn't.  

I wish that he had just been upfront about his weight when we talked about our pictures.  I still would've gone out with him because I enjoyed talking with him and he made me laugh.  Had I not been caught off guard, I think I would've acted less weird and the date might've turned out better than it did.

Despite all the obvious ramifications that can result from being inauthentic, why do we struggle so much with being ourselves?  Why do we put so much energy into pretending when we know one day the truth will eventually come out?

I know firsthand how hard it can be just to simply be yourself, especially in a world that is constantly trying to change you.  I was a teenage tomboy in the 1980s and 90s.  Although tomboys were not completely uncommon at the  time, they weren't as mainstream as they are now.  I spent the majority of my teen years battling and resisting the relentless pressure to be something I wasn't, which was an awful experience.  I truly believe what got me through those terrible experiences was the steadfast belief that pretending to be something I wasn't was worse than enduring society's pressure.  

Yes, I know, I make it sound like I was the Gen X poster child for being yourself, but I assure you, that's not the case. I had some moments of weakness when I caved under the pressure and most of them involved boys.

Case in point: I liked this one guy in high school.  One day he and I sat together in the bleachers in our gym and talked. In an attempt to be more "girly," because that's what guys wanted in terms of girlfriends after all, I had on a terrible pair of flats that hurt like hell and a trendy outfit that made me look ridiculous. They guy was droning on and on about something and I was pretending to be completely enthralled in what he was saying, which was inaccurate by the way. I didn't want to correct him because I didn't want to show him up. My paternal grandfather's words, "Don't get too smart because boys don't like girls that are smarter than they are," ran through my mind. So, I sat there trying to look interested, resisting the urge to tell him he was wrong, trying to be doting and flirtatious, and feeling like an absolute idiot. It was miserable. 

That evening, once I returned home, I kicked off those damn flats and threw them in the garbage. That's when I asked myself, "What the hell am I doing?" 

It that moment, it finally occurred to me that if that guy didn't like me, the real me, the smart me, the tomboyish me, the me that didn't wear uncomfortable shoes to school, the me that wanted to join in the softball game rather than watch from the fence, the me I was day in and day out, then he wasn't the guy for me. You see, I may not have been the pretty, feminine, doting co-ed, but I was loyal, understanding, adventurous, intelligent, kind, and fun to be around. I learned that the real me was by far and away more interesting and had way more depth than that phony, silly girl I was pretending to be.

So, I don't know if there is an easy answer to my earlier question. We struggle to be ourselves for many reasons, each reason as personal and varied as the next. For me, I pretended to be something I wasn't because I wanted to be liked by the boys I had crushes on.  In the end, I discovered that liking myself was more important. 

In closing, I leave you with two quotes:


- Oscar Wilde


Why do you think we (collectively as humans) struggle to be authentic?  

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful Sunday!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Recently Read - Vol. 22 (Oct. '17)


Ah, October.  I had such high hopes of reading more in October, but, as it so often happens, life had other plans.  Oh, well.  'Tis okay.  The important thing is that I did read some last month and that I'm pleased with the books I read overall.

So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on the three books I read in October:


Destroyer by Brett Battles
Read October 7-14 | Format: Audiobook | My Rating: 4/5


Think: What if the world you were responsible for creating was in jeopardy of being altered or even destroyed by someone with a score to settle?  What would you do to preserve the world you had come to know and cherish?

I find it hard to discuss books that are part of a series, especially where the story is continued in each following book.  I'll just say this, I enjoyed this book probably just as much as the first one.  But, keep in mind that these are not stand-alones, so you must read them in order.

Final Verdict: Recommend 


The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Read October 15-16 | Format: Audiobook | My Rating: 5/5

Think: A poignant first-person account of gorilla living in a cage who dares to dream of a better life for a young friend.

I can't say enough good things about this book.  It was a short, yet very charming read. It was funny and poignant and utterly delightful.  

Final Verdict:  Highly Recommend


Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen
Read October 16-29 | Format: Audiobook | My Rating: 4/5

Think: Impassioned, possibly bipolar Floridian schemes to rid the world of dinnertime sales calls, one telemarketer at a time.

This was not my favorite Hiaasen book by far.  It was average in my opinion.  The noir humor wasn't as funny as in his other books, the plot was a bit slow, and the characters were, frankly, annoying.  

Final Verdict:  Skip it unless you are an avid Hiaasen fan.

~~~

So, what have you read lately?  Anything you'd like to recommend?  Please feel free to share!

Linking up with Steph and Jenn:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tuesday Topics - Three Things for Which I Am Grateful



For an unlikely friendship that started around a year ago and continues today.



That the transfer to my new school went through without a hitch.  Seriously, I have been patiently waiting for the speech path who had been at that school to retire for about four years.  When she announced her retirement would be official one quarter into the new school year, I feared my chances of the transfer going through might be thwarted because the district I work for frowns upon transfers once the school year has started.

For the support of my friends and family as I've embarked upon this job change.  I'm not particularly a fan of change.  So, even though this transfer is what I wanted, leaving my old school was still difficult.  Without my support system, I'm not sure I would've fared as well as I have.  Thanks, guys...


What are some things you're grateful for?  Have a good one!


Linking up with Jenn @ Quirky Pickings (even though she's on hiatus at the moment)


Monday, November 6, 2017

Miscellaneous Monday - Random Thoughts

~ All last week, I truly savored the notion that I'd get an extra hour of sleep yesterday due to the time change.  But, as luck would have it, I found myself wide awake at 5:30am.  



~ I had two wonderfully blissful weeks off back in October, but (and I know how bad this is going to sound) I could really use a day off now.  For the past two weeks, I've been running around like a chicken with its head chopped off tying up loose ends at my old school, packing up all my personal belongings and moving it to my house, trying to get acclimated at my new school, and then moving my stuff there one painfully small carload at a time.  I'm exhausted and my poor house is a wreck. 



~ Because I was wide awake in the week small hours Sunday morning, I found myself perusing Facebook and I came across this meme:


First, I got tickled because the FB friend who commented on this (hence the entire reason it showed up in my feed to begin with) is a man.

Second, I got even more tickled when I started thinking about the last show I watched and who my birthing team would be:


Yep, the dysfunctional Gallaghers from Shameless, whom I had watched a rerun of the night before.  Lord help me if this situation ever came to pass (me being pregnant and them being my birthing team)!  As for who would catch the baby, I picked Veronica, the Gallagher's sassy, next door neighbor.


She, after all, was the one who helped deliver Debbie's baby on the kitchen table...  LOL!


~ Friday evening, I ate one of those Pull-N-Peel Twizzlers.  After swallowing, I realized that more of the sticky, gooey substance was remaining behind in my lower molars.  After clearing it with my tongue, I felt an open space that wasn't there before! That damned candy pulled off a dental crown and I inadvertently swallowed it!


So, tomorrow morning, I have an appointment with my dentist to get a temporary crown.  I've been examining my...  excrement for the past two days looking for any signs of the expensive dental work piece, but no luck.  Granted, I was  only willing to look from a far and not dissect the stuff, but still, I haven't seen any sign of it yet.  

I guess I have literally flushed several hundred dollars down the toilet.



~ I have discovered, much to my dismay, that I get absolutely no cell service in my new school.  And when I say no cell service, I mean none.  Zip.  Zero.  Nada.  Niete.  Nothing.  NONE.  It's a very weird feeling to be cut off from the outside world.  At least the WiFi works, although the sites I can access are extremely limited.




I hope this finds you having a great day and beginning to the work week!  As always, thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Currently... (Vol. 22)


Starting...  a new chapter of my career at Simpsonville Elementary.

Bidding...  a fond farewell to the faculty and staff of Heritage Elementary, who have been like my family for the past 18 years.  (If you are reading this, I will miss you more than words can ever express.)

Overwhelmed...  by the outpouring of love, congratulations, and well wishes I received from the Big H staff leading up to my departure.

Learning...  a new (to me) building, a new faculty, a new schedule, a new principal, a new ARC chair, a new roommate, a new community, a new school climate, and new students.

Shocked by...  the mountain of boxes that is currently in my garage.  These boxes contain all the personal therapy materials I've accrued over the past two decades.  Lord only knows how much money I've spent!


(The wrapping paper boxes were already in the garage...  LOL!)

Singing...  "Closing Time" by Semisonic.  This song has been stuck in my head for the past 3 weeks after I used a line from the song in a Facebook post announcing my job change.



Enjoying...  the shorter commute already!  (I've gone from a 90 mile roundtrip commute to 56!)

Reading, well, listening to...  the audiobook Survivor by Brett Battles.

Anticipating...  the new season of Shameless!  I LOVE the dysfunctional Gallaghers!



Missing...  the blue water of the Caribbean.  Although it rained during much of our cruise last month and we weren't able to enjoy the water as much as we would've liked, it was still nice to see the blue hues that I love so much.




~~~~

What have you been up to lately?  Have a great day!


Linking up with:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Halloween Freebie


Today I am linking up with The Broke and the Bookish and participating in their weekly Top Ten Tuesday feature post. (To learn more about TTT, click here.) This week's theme is -HALLOWEEN THEMED FREEBIE!  So, I have chosen:

Ten Bookish People (Real or Fictional) That I Would Invite to a Halloween Party

  1. Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby.  Think of all the party favors, food, and beverages he might be willing to contribute especially if I could convince Daisy to come...
  2. Jamie Fraser from Outlander.  He's a man in kilt, for goodness sake.  He has a ready made costume!  And, he's a good lookin' man in a kilt.  Need I go any further?
  3. Bridget Jones.  I suspect that she might wear her bunny costume. (For the record, it's been so long since I read Bridget Jones's Diary, that I can't remember if the bunny costume appeared it the book or just the movie.)
  4. Idgie Threadgoode from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.  I'm not sure why, I just think Idgie would be a hoot to hang out with! 
  5. Mark Watney from The Martian.  After spending Lord knows how many sols on Mars and days in space, inviting him to a Halloween party is the least I could do to welcome him home.  He could come as Marvin the Martian.  Okay, okay...  Bad joke.  I admit it.
  6. Patrick from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  I would expect him to come as Frank 'N Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  C'mon...it wouldn't be Halloween without an appearance of Frank 'N Furter, now would it?  LOL!
  7. Skink from Double Whammy and several other Carl Hiaasen novels. I can just see this gruff, road killing eating recluse showing up in his floral shower cap and neon yellow rain slicker! 
  8. Billy Idol, rockstar and author of Dancing With Myself.  It's Billy Idol!  Who wouldn't want to hear Billy singing some classic 80s tunes at a party? 
  9. Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Series.  I went deep and old school for this one.  Once upon a time, I LOVE Stephanie Plum because she was a riot!  I loved the hilarious situations she found herself in.  I just think she'd be fun to hang out with.
  10. Lula, also from the Stephanie Plum series.  Lula is a former ho' turned filing clerk and Stephanie Plum's occasional assistant.  Her presence guarantees to add some entertainment, whether it be because of her attempts to squeeze her size 18 boy into size 8 clothes or simply by what comes out of her mouth.  I think she'd be a fun party guest.

How about you?  Which bookish people (real or fictional) would you invite to a Halloween party you were hosting?  Thanks for stopping by and Happy Halloween!


It's worth mentioning that I participated in this same prompt two years ago. I looked back on my original "guest list" and did some tweaking.

Monday, October 30, 2017

An Open Letter to the Speech Pathologist Who Will Take Over My Program Once I Leave


Dear Future SLP of Heritage Elementary,

Today is my last day at Heritage,  the only workplace I've ever known in my 18 year career as a speech pathologist. This evening, after I have loaded up the last of the countless boxes that contain my personal effects, I will leave room 119 and will lock it up for the last time.  It's going to be tough and I know I will shed some tears as I leave the building and drive home.  Truth be told, I've already shed more tears than I care to admit. 

Tomorrow you will take the helm.  You will take over the program that was in complete disarray when I inherited it nearly two decades ago, a program I've rebuilt from the ground up.  I've put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this program and, as you can imagine, the thought of handing over my life's work makes me nervous and a bit scared.  You are new to this profession, so you may not realize that we speech pathologists can be a bit territorial, even the easy-going ones like myself.  But, this is the natural progression of things.  In order for me to move on to a work situation that is better suited for my life, I must leave behind all that I've known since I became a speech pathologist many years ago.   


But, before I depart, I have a few things to ask of you. 


Please be understanding of the faculty and staff.  I've been here a long time and they are accustomed to the way I do things.  It may be a shock to their systems when you do something differently, as you should, because this is your program now.  Let me repeat that - this is your program now.  Take this program and make it your own.  Just be patient with them and realize that they, like yourself, are having to adjust.  I have no doubt in time, that everyone will adjust and everything will be alright. 


Also, please be patient with the kids.  This change is very abrupt and will catch many of them off guard. I've had several of them for 4 or 5 years and with them I have a special rapport.  Many of them are very sensitive and they may be emotional for a few days as they adjust.  All I ask is that you love them, be understanding of them, and do right by them.  They are good kids. 


I sincerely hope that you're time at Heritage will mean to you what my time here has meant to me.  I fell in love with it the moment I first stepped through its doors 18 years ago when I came to interview.  I knew in that instant that this is where I wanted to start my career and begin a new chapter in my life.  Within these walls, I've laughed, I've cried, I've smiled, I've made long-lasting friendships, and I've grown both professionally and personally.  I wish the same for you.  I hope you love it as much as I have.


Best of luck to you as you begin the next chapter of your young career.  


Sincerely, 


Ericka



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tuesday Topics - Five Things I Love About Fall

Fall Foliage



The sounds of college football



The arrival of Honeycrisp apples



Fall Break!



Fall chrysanthemums



What are some things you love about fall?  Have a good one!


Linking up with Jenn @ Quirky Pickings


Thursday, October 19, 2017

I Believe...


The above picture is absolutely stunning.

Family can be more than just the people with whom we share a bloodline.

In taking the day off for your birthday.

Recycling is essential to the future of this planet.

The electoral college system sucks.

In freedom of speech.

Too  much screen time for young kids is contributing to the rise in ADD, ADHD, language delays, and speech sound production disorders.

In putting things back where they belong or, if they are not yours, back where you found them.

President Trump needs to spend less time tweeting.

In cherishing the weirdos who get you, for these are the members of your tribe.

That the heart is a big space and has a great capacity to love many.

In taking your vacation and personal days.

Foreplay is not overrated.

That a environment (nurture) sometimes cannot overcome the strong inert traits we are born with (nature).

In the Oxford comma.

That God is a kind and forgiving god and that he lives within us as us.

Leggings are not meant to be worn in place of pants and should only be worn with a top that covers your, as my principal says, "assets."  

In the separation of church and state.

Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone.

That karma is real.

In a woman's right to choose.

That Bon Jovi should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  (If you believe they should be, too, you can cast your vote here.)

Girlfriend getaways are essential to nurturing the female spirit.

In giving credit where credit is due.  This post was inspired by Kristen's (@ See You in a Porridge) April 2016 post.


What's something you believe?  As always, thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

If We Were Having Coffee... (Vol. 14 - One Last Look)



If we were having coffee on this beautiful Saturday morning in mid-October, I'd definitely recommend sitting outside on the deck.  The weather has been warmer than normal, we haven't had our first frost yet, so the leaves haven't turned much.  Most are still green, although they are starting to look rather dull. It's obvious that the lush greenness of summer has faded away.

I'd uncover the patio furniture and we'd settle in.  You'd ask about my fall break and I'd share that I just got back from West Virginia.  "I went in to see my family and the fall foliage.  The leaves are already turning there."  It was a quick, but much needed respite.  There's just something about the mountains that rejuvenates my soul.

Remembering that I usually do something active like ride ATVs or white water raft when I go to West Virginia, you'd ask what I did while I was in.  I'd say that I wasn't really there long enough to do anything other than visit the family.  "I did drop by the Wyoming County Historical Museum to pick up the prize I won from back in the summer."  You'd look at me quizzically and then I'd realize that you don't know what I'm talking about.  "Back in the summer, I participated in a photo scavenger hunt sponsored by the museum.  I won the second chance drawing for $50.  My aunt accompanied me as we traveled throughout the county taking selfies of ourselves in front of designated points of interest.  I promised her if I won, we'd use the money next year to do something fun."


We'd sit, enjoying the brisk morning air.  In a month or so, it will be too cold to sit out here this early in the morning.  I'd take a sip of my soda and I'd let out a long sigh.  Staring out into the yard at nothing in particular I'd say, "I also made a quick visit to a place that I haven't been to in at least 7 or 8 years."  You'd ask where I went and I'd reply, "To my grandparents' house."

My paternal grandparents' house is located a few miles southwest of my tiny hometown in an even tinier incorporated community.  They lived from the early 1950s until their deaths in 2006 and 2008.  After my grandpa died, my uncle and his wife, who lived next door, moved into my grandparents' house.  "I wasn't really close with my uncle and aunt once I became an adult, we just didn't have much in common anymore, and that's why I hadn't been over there in so many years," I'd share.

A couple years ago, all the houses in "the bottom," as it is called, became structurally unsound.  The property owners may have owned the land, but, they didn't own the mineral and gas rights.  So, for many years, coal, located deep, down in the ground underneath those houses, has been removed.   Support beams are put in place to hold up the "ceiling" after a coal seam has been removed, but something happened and the ceiling collapsed.  When this happened, it caused some of the foundations of the houses to  collapse as well, including that of my grandparents'.


"Basically," I'd continue, "the houses were completely jacked up.  The home owners sued the coal company for damages and sometime this year the buyout deal was complete.  My uncle and aunt took the buyout and moved out sometime in late summer."


"Because empty houses are huge liabilities," I'd explain, "especially in an area dealing with poverty and addiction, I suspect the coal company will level all the houses soon.  So, I drove over to have one last look before that happens."


I had mentally prepared myself for the reality that the condition of the house might be significantly different from how it was the last time I saw it.  I knew that my uncle had put on a metal roof, put on some beige aluminum siding, so the house was no longer gray, and had replaced the windows.  "But, I tell ya what, nothing could've prepared me for what I encountered when I pulled off the main road and drove across the bridge towards the once little gray house with the tidy yard and apple tree and grape arbor in the back."


I parked the car and got out.  For a few minutes I stood there, my feet firmly planted on the asphalt, and I couldn't will them to move.  I stared at the house and property in utter disbelief.  The lawn was overrun with weeds, miscellaneous objects littered the front and side porches, and it looked so sad.  "I've never seen a ghost town before but I feel fairly certain what I was looking at had to be very similar."


After a few minutes of stunned silence and being unable to move, I finally regained control over my body and walked to the front porch. I immediately noticed that the wooden sign proclaiming my grandparents' names, undoubtedly a Christmas gift from a family member years and years ago, still hung from the porch. I gingerly walked up the concrete steps after noticing the cinder block foundation underneath had given way in some spots and peered in the window. Random belongings were scattered on the floor and a few stray pieces of furniture remained.  "It honestly reminded me of those scenes in movies where a moving van backs up to the front of house in the middle of the night and by dawn the occupants and most of their belongings are long gone," I'd say and then I'd continue.


I exited the porch and made my way around the side of the house to the back yard.  The grape arbor, which had been in a certain spot for as long as I could remember was gone.  "My granny always made grape jelly and grape wine," I'd share, "up until Alzheimer's had robbed her of the ability to remember how to make them."  I'd fall silent for moment, lost in thought.  After a little while I'd let out a soft chuckle and I'd continue. "Those grapes were a pain in my ass for many years.  I used to mow Granny and Grandpa's lawn and those sweet grapes attracted bees like crazy.  I hated mowing under and around that arbor because I inevitably got stung."  I'd smile and say, "I loved her jelly, though.  All those stings were worth it just for that jelly."


I'd explain that I continued around the back of the house and immediately noticed that the apple tree was also gone.  The backyard looked completely foreign and I actually found myself looking around for it, as if someone had moved it.  "In all my memories of events that took place in the backyard, whether it's playing wiffleball with my cousins and the other neighborhood kids or me pulling two of my aunts apart when they got into a squabble one year at Thanksgiving or me sitting on the back porch steps with Granny drinking lemonade after I had finished mowing, that apple tree is there, serving not only as a background but also as a witness of my childhood."  


I stood there for a long time, looking at the spot where the tree once stood, remembering its fragrant spring blossoms, all the apples that filled the it in summer, and all the fun times I had climbing its branches with my cousins.  "We spent hours and hours playing in and around that tree," I'd say, "Even my Dad spent some time in there, too."  As the story has been told to me, he liked to hide in the tree and smoke. Grandpa caught him smoking in the tree once. Startled by being discovered, Dad fell out of the tree knocked out a tooth or two. I'd grimace and then chuckle.  "Apparently that tree had been a witness to a lot of childhoods."


The last place I visited was my grandfather's garden.  During every spring and summer, once he retired from the coal mines, that's where my grandfather could be found. "He absolutely loved his garden," I'd say, "and he was definitely good at gardening.  I really don't think there was anything, vegetable-wise, that he couldn't raise."  


I'd share how I walked up to the dilapidated gate that still precariously clung to its hinges.  I looked into the garden and gone were the neat tidy rows of corn and tomatoes and beans that I remember so vividly. The land was completely overgrown, having not been tended to in a decade or more, and it was hard to tell by it's current state that a garden had ever existed there.  

"Before too long," I'd continue, "everything over there will be reclaimed by the earth, not just the garden, erasing over half a century's worth of proof that a family once lived there.  That's why I had to go over for one last look."

With that, I'd sink deeper into the outdoor sofa, rest my head back against the cushion, and close my eyes remembering the bronze-skinned tomboy of yesteryear who mowed grass, swore at the bees, played wiffleball, climbed trees, and loved her grandmother's grape jelly.  


~~~

Thank you for joining me for my latest installment of IWWHC.  Have a wonderful weekend!


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