Thursday, December 3, 2015

Oct/Nov Reads

I feel like the theme for this year's posts has been focused on my lack of posting.  I'm busy, as is everyone else, but I'm not any busier now than I was a year ago so why am I not writing more.

Well the year has been tough and my writing really started declining after my injury in Fall 2014 and then other life issues have occurred and more decline of writing has occurred. 

I have loved my blogging and it has introduced me to many other people out there, but I'm not sure that I will continue to write posts in the year to come.  So with that said here are my reads from Oct/Nov (since I am so behind decided to combine them).  I plan to post a Dec reads post at the end of the month and then revisit whether I want to continue posting. 

November Books:
The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughn
This was a multi-character story line.  The premise was four different ladies and one gentlemen vying for a baking prize through a baking competition.  The competition was based on a past baker and wife of a grocery store chain who was also an author of a cookbook.  This cookbook and the recipes were the ties between present and past for these ladies, and gent.  I found all of the different stories the ladies brought to the table intriguing.  The man's story was present, but he was really not a main character as the book's purpose I felt was to show how these four ladies (present day) and the fifth (past baker and cookbook author) changed their life paths and some of them their ways through baking and being a part of this competition.  The ladies' ages varied and so it really gave a nice picture of different changes/stresses/ and happening women experience throughout their lives.  I highly recommend this read for those who love baking, cookbooks, recipes and for those who just love stories about women, friendship and adversity.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer
This was our book club read, and we just discussed this book at last night's book club.  I felt the consensus was: well liked book, maybe not loved by all, and many who just "liked it" felt the writing along was so beautiful and well done that it made up for not "loving it".  A story that takes place during WWII with two main characters being children/teens.  One is a Hitler Youth and through his story I had a better understanding of what it was like to not truly have much of a choice, but to become a part of this side of the war.  The other character Marie-Laure is a young lady who became blind mid elementary years and who lives in Paris at the start of the war and then has to move to Saint-Malo a city along the sea where her recluse great uncle lives.  Their two stories only converge in the physical tense for one afternoon otherwise their stories are running in parallel giving a different picture of what occurs during this war.  Again I was beautifully wrote and the writing was so descriptive I can visualize what the set of this motion picture (have a feeling it will be made into a movie) would look like just by the detail of the writing.  For me it was 4 star for the overall writing and story, but I think I was surprised it wasn't a 5 star for me because of my love of reading of WWII and the two characters being teens/children as story's main characters. 

October Reads
For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible by Jen Hatmaker
This one was a disappointment for me.  I have read blog posts by Jen Hatmaker and really liked them, but this book was just too fluff for me.  However, towards the end of the book there was some redemption as I felt she started getting to some "meat" of real life discussion and writing.  I think I was hoping this book was going to be similar to Glennon Doyle's Carrior on Warrior, but it wasn't at all. 

After You by Jojo Moyes
This is sequel to Me Before You- one of our book club's favorites.  For a sequel I felt it was very well written and believable, but for me the story didn't have the depth and the "pull" that Me Before You had.  I still recommend reading it if you enjoyed Me Before You.

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
Another Armande Gamache mysteries and I liked it, but didn't love it.  When you love an author and so enjoy their books it is hard to find every book they write as good as your favorites of theirs.  I think we as readers come to the table with our favorite authors expecting the best to continue and sometimes the story line or characters just aren't as good as past books.  I found that with this book.  Louise went out on a branch with this one, because the character who is killed in this story is a young kid.  I don't know if that is why I didn't embrace this story as much, but I definitely think it was unlike her previous Armande Gamache mysteries.  I will of course continue to be eager for her next book in the series to come out, but will put this as one of my least favorites from the series. 

I was a bad book clubber in October and started Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich. I got about 80 pages into the book and just wasn't enjoying it at all. So I put my big girl pants on and chose to put the book down.  Sometimes you just have to walk away.

Hope everyone has a final month of joyous reading to end 2015.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Septemeber Reads

This was an interesting month of reading. It was one of my more "heavy" subjects and challenging reading in comparison to past months.  You'll see what I mean in a minute. 

In no particular order...

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I picked this one of my "to read" shelf from my reading room.  I have had this book for awhile.  I bought it at a second hand store because I read "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and loved it.   This was described as the prequel to that book.  The book takes place in 1920's Barcelona.  The protagonist, David Martin writer who had gotten famous by writing under pen name, is approached by Andreas Coreli to write a book that has never been written before.  This story is very dark and I found it not as enjoyable as "The Shadow of the Wind".  It was readable and Zafon's writing is truly beautiful, even when he is describing dark subjects such as people being burned alive.  However, I was disappointed- make the subject matter was too dark or the story just a tad to unbelievable. 
 
Indemnity Only (V.I. Warshawski, #1)
 
Sara Paretsky received the Paul Engle award at the 2015 Iowa City Book Festival this past Friday.  I heard when the book festival schedule was coming out that she was receiving the award and decided that since I hadn't read anything by Sara I should before it came book festival time.  Most of her books are mystery genre.  Her main character I knew before even knowing Sara's name- V.I. Warshawski.  Kathleen Turner played V.I. Warshawski in the movie version of Sara's books.  This was a good book.  Very entertaining, and I loved the Chicago city setting being almost like a character throughout the story.  V.I. Warshawski is a powerful, energetic, sexy female character who goes against some big "guys"-- Chicago Union, Chicago Life Insurance Company, etc.  After reading this book and then hearing Sara herself talk at the recent Paul Engle award this past Friday I realized how seamlessly she was able to cover important themes throughout her mysteries, but at the same time keep the entertainment factor that makes mysteries so enjoyable to read.  I also after hearing Sara speak Friday am truly looking forward to more V.I. in my reading life.
 
The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder
 
I picked this book up when visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Minnesota this summer.  "The Heroines' Bookshelf: Lie Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder" by Erin Blakemore was a great reminder of all those literary heroines out in the world waiting to teach us about themes and qualities that occur in our lives.  For instance, one chapter on Anne Shirley and her quality/strength of "Happiness" or Sarlett O'Hara and her quality of "Fight".  I felt like I was walking back into some great memories of reading from my past.  It was also a great reminder of qualities and strengths we hope and wish for in ourselves and other females. 
 
 




You're Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect
 
"You're Loved No Matter What- Freeing Your Heart From the Need to be Perfect" by Holley Gerth
I use to not be a nonfiction book reader.  Now a days one of my favorite places to go is the "New Nonfiction" shelf at the two libraries I most frequent.  This is where I found this book.  Why it caught my eye was the cover- 1st, the cute little bike with basket and streamers blowing from the handle bars was to cute to pass up.  The 2nd was the title- "You're Loved No Matter What"- this title seemed to speak to me.  I do a lot of dumb things and to think that "you're loved no matter what" is truly comforting.  So I picked it up and went on my way.  The book had more faith based theme then I expected, but I actually felt her writing flowed well with topic of God/Faith and Religion. Sometimes that sort of writing is too forced for me, but Holley knew how to intertwine the idea of letting go of our pressure and desire to be perfect and where faith fits into that letting go. Some of my favorite quotes from the book were the following...
 
pg 11 "And humans are messy, flawed, glorious and deeply loved.  Jesus already knows all that about you.  He can handle who you are."
 
pg 33 "you can deeply disappoint people while deeply loving them".
 
pg50 "Every time I make a list of all the things I feel guilty about, I discover each one offers ways to be grateful instead."
 
pg89 "Growth is a process not an event"
 
pg 133 "Excellence is doing what you can, with what you have, where you are, as you are."
 
Descent
 
This was our book club read for the month.  Tim Johnston knows how to read one hell of an intense book.  "Descent" was finished in three nights of reading, because a night longer would have been too much for my brain and anxiety level to handle.  The story starts with two siblings going out for a run/bike ride while their parents slept in their beds in the hotel they were staying for their summer vacation.  This morning outing with two siblings would be the cliff off which the story fell and I felt like the excitement and suspense really didn't change from there.  I will say that the first 1/3 of the book Tim's writing style was bothersome to me- I felt he was very jumpy from person to person/topic to topic/setting to setting, which confused me at times.  However, once I got past that writing style the story really grabbed me.  Excellent book, minus writing style in the first part of the book.
 
The Little Paris Bookshop


 
This was my favorite read of the month.  The main character Jean Perdu is an owner of a book shop, which just happens to be housed inside a barge which calls it home the Seine River in Paris, France.  Now those who know me well know one of my life's dreams is to get to Paris, France someday.  I also love any place that houses books- i.e. bookshops.  However, this story is so much more than a story of a main who owns a bookshop.  It is really a story of love, hurt, finding oneself, and these ideas are shown through not one, not two, but several characters.  Jean Perdu is a man whose heart has been broken and at the beginning of the story I thought he would be a character who would start to wear on me for his "depressed" nature.  He ends up being my favorite character.  This story is truly beautiful.  If you love books, travel and love "love" stories I highly recommend this book. 
 A couple of my favorite quotes from the book...
 
pg 175 'Saudade': "a yearning for one's childhood, when the days would merge into one another and the passing of time was of no consequences.  It is the sense of being loved in a very that will never come again. It is a unique experience of abandon. It is everything that words cannot capture."
These lines and the word saudade were heart warming.  I think we all can remember childhood and how time was truly of no consequence. 
 
pg 323 "3 things that made you really 'happy' according to Cueno's worldview:
One: eat well.  No junk food, because it only makes you unhappy, lazy and fat.
Two: sleep through the night (thanks to more exercise, less alcohol and positive thoughts).
Three: spend time with people who are friendly and seek to understand you in their own particular way.
Four: have more sex- but that was Sammy's Addition".
 
Some good books in the above... as always hope you are finding some good books to spend some time with.  Would love if anyone as read any of these books and has a different take or different review for me to hear/read about. Happy reading Friends!
 
 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

August Reads

Big Girl Panties  Great Read!  I needed some light reading and this was perfect. Stephanie Evanovich knows how to write relationships and also sex scenes. I was a little flushed at the cheeks at times when she was describing the SEX scenes.  So if you pick this up to read and are offended by some of the graphic details I apologize, but if you can get past those scenes the story is really lovely.  If you love sex scenes you will be happily pleased with how well she writes these, and no the book isn't  soft porn :).  Main character is overweight/obese female who meets a gorgeous male physical trainer  coming home on a airplane.  They both have assumptions about the other when seeing they will have to sit next to each other.  What comes out of that meeting is quite perfect. 

The Bookshop  This was another good read. Penelope Fitzgerald was the author and I haven't read anything by her before but she is known for her short fiction.  This was a book, but was not lengthy in comparison to the other books I read this past month.    Any book based out of a book shop has me.  I thought the characters were well developed and described- the kind of book where you have in your head what each character looks like.  It is a "real life" story about a lady who opens a book shop.  Trials/tribulations she encounters with opening this shop are the main themes in the book, but off these struggles blooms different relationships between book shop owner and some of the interesting people who live in this town.  Not many of these book shops are likely left or opening and so it brought me to an era I would have liked to be a part of.  Most of us who live in Iowa City, IA are spoiled with Prairie Lights Book Store- which appears to be thriving and not at threat to closing like so many other book stores have because of the new technology: Kindle, Nook, etc along with the ease of ordering a book on-line.  After reading this book it made me enjoy walking through Prairie Lights and even Barnes and Noble and purchasing a book or two. 

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1) Graeme Simsion writes a great book.  This was our book club read for August.  It was so funny, real, touching, and just a good read.  Excited to find out it is the first in a trilogy.  The main character, Don, is a professor of genetics who doesn't have any luck with dating/meeting women.  He decides he is going to find his perfect mate by putting together a survey to find that perfect gal.  Rosie then enters his life and she's not his perfect mate per the survey.  However, Rosie, despite her imperfection, is so perfect.  If you like a little romance, humor, snarkyness you will find it with this book.

On the Banks of Plum Creek  (Little House, #4)  Laura Ingalls Wilder- need we see more.  Daughter and I read this on our family trip to South Dakota.  Our goal was to have it finished by the time we arrived in Springfield, MN where this book takes place.  However, time flies and we finished it within the first days of August.  This story is great, probably not my favorite out of the series, but it is quintessential Wilder: Laura, protagonist, and her family trying to make their life in the prairie.  I enjoyed reading it again.  Daughter enjoyed it also.  Here are a few pictures from the trip to MN to see "on the banks of plum creek". 
The Banks of Plum Creek
 

Although we, my son and I, were disappointed that the dugout was no longer there.  No idea why I thought the dugout would still be standing.  They do have a plaque marking the place, but the dugout fell in long ago. 

The replica of the dugout at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. 

Can not fathom riding across country in this wagon- yep that is the real size :).  I guess I can't complain about my mini van anymore.
 
Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! This book by Rachel Macy Stafford was a needed read.  I have a horrible admission- I use my cell phone to talk to friends and family when I'm driving.  I stop at stoplights and will return a text.  I know this is dangerous yet I just can't shut the phone off.  So this book has woken me up.  She talks about safety, but she really sells getting off your phone to really enjoy this life you have with your family and friends and really be present.  Being present has been a long goal of mine.  Her writing style is perfect for this topic and I wrote down many quotes/ideas from the book.  Here are just a few....
 
"Living hands free means making a conscious decision to temporarily push aside distractions and give your undivided attention to someone or something meaningful in our life"- pg 23
 
"Rachel's Definition of Daily Distraction: takes the focus of what truly maters, prevents me from being fully present, stops me from investing time and energy in people I love, hinders ability to slow down, relax or get adequate sleep, holds me back from enjoying life, taking risks and being my authentic self".
 
She had a whole list of sabotaging factors that I connected with from her list:
phone (email and text), laptop computer (social media, online shopping), to do lists, overcommitment, excessive feelings of guilt inadequacy, perfection or self-doubt.
 
"grasping what really matters mean going to tender places in one's soul"- pg 43
 
"the truth hurts, but the truth heals and brings me closer to the person I aspire to be."
 
"Say these 3 phrases daily to your children 'I see you', 'You matter', and 'I love to watch you...'"- pg 80
 
"It is the times I least want to be Hands Free that I most need to be Hands Free"- pg 119
 
If any of the above statements stop you in your shoes and you can say "yes" I really think reading this book will be great for you.  I'm not perfect I still talk on the phone when in my car, but I do it less and I really focus on when anyone is in the car I'm present- focused on the time together, even if it is just time to be quiet together, listen to the radio, or have those discussions that would not have taken place if I was not Hands Free.
 
Still Alice Lisa Genova is amazing!  Here is her bio from Goodreads:

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Still Alice, Left Neglected, Love Anthony, and Inside the O’Briens.

OK so you are a neuroscientist and have written how many best sellers?  Crazy!  This book I had somewhat avoided for awhile because it had been so talked up.  However, I saw it at the library and picked it up.  Boy am I glad I did.  It was so well written and I think a very accurate picture of early onset Alzheimer.  After reading the book I watched the movie and thought Julianne Moore was excellent.  I just didn't like that they put Alec Baldwin in the part of her husband.  He wasn't believable as a physician/researcher.  I liked the book much more.  I am planning to read some of her other books in the future. 

OK- that's it.  Great month of reads.  Hope you are enticed to read one or more of these, but if you just pick up a book or visit a library/book store in search of your own I'm ecstatic!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Where have I been?

I look at the number of blog posts I've done in this last year and it is pretty abysmal.  I've been struggling with my writing for awhile. I think it is more than writing I've been struggling with and I've just finally waken up and discovered...

Last year was hard: lost my grandpa, lost my uncle, had a likely career ending injury in running and racing with the tear of my ACL, followed by rehab that was challenged and required another surgery, and of course the fun (not) of additional body weight to my 5' 3" frame via emotional eating.  No this isn't a pity party it just hit me the other day when out to breakfast with a friend that I came to the realization that I've lost bits of my self, accept for the weight gained, that has thrown me out of sorts.

I've felt lost.  I've tried to replace the love for training, and running/racing with trying to make writing a goal to focus on.  I took a class and learned a ton, which I'm grateful for, but I also learned that the story I thought I wanted to write just couldn't come out of me.  I felt like a fake trying to write about "an everyday woman accomplishing her BIG" (70.3 triathlon).  How was I suppose to write about accomplishing my BIG while not even able to have confidence or enjoying the writing/drafts I tried writing?  That self doubt and lack of confidence has also made me question who really reads my blog/posts and the importance of my writing.  Does anyone really care?  Am I self centered and writing about things that really don't matter.  My one caveat is I never feel bad about writing about what I read, because I feel like if my monthly blog posts about that month's "reads" gets someone else to pick up a book and read the writing has totally been worth it.

So in the last few weeks I've picked up a book myself and started to read about " You're Loved No Matter What-  Freeing Your Heart from the Need to be Perfect" by Holley Gerth.  It was on the new nonfiction shelf at the library and the back of the cover really spoke to me...

As women, we tend to think that if we could only get our act together, life would be perfect.  but you're not supposed to be perfect.  you're supposed to be human. And humans are messy, flawed, glorious, and deeply loved.

It's time to lay down those unrealistic expectations that exhaust you.
It's time to embrace who you are- even the messy parts.
It's time to start living fully instead of just trying not to fail.

Let's do this. Together.

Sounded too good to pass up.  So I read the first two chapters and was wanting to write notes in the margins and underline words that spoke to me- and you know defacing library books aren't my style- so I went out and bought the book.  Now, warning, for those of you who aren't religious or don't believe in God, she talks about God quite a bit, but she's one of those people who writes about God and talks about God and her words/sentences/quoting of the Bible don't turn me off.  Some books, people, and blog posts turn me off with the God or Jesus word.  I'm religious, I'm a Lutheran, but yet I'm not one of those who loves being told how the Bible is to be interpreted or how to parent, work, be a woman based on this author's beliefs about God/Jesus, etc- kind of like nails on a chalk board for me when I'm reading these pieces. 

Holley however, is not like that for me.  I feel her way in which she incorporates her faith and getting over the guilt and desire to be doing everything perfect is music to my ears, not nails on the chalk board.

So through reading this book I've made some decisions.  I will write when I want to and what I want to.  I need to move onward away from the writing which was so focused on my love of running, training, etc.  At the same time I don't want it to be forced writing.  I want it to be enjoyable. 

I was feeling very boxed in with my writing the last few months.  I just want to write for writing sake, not to get published, or to create a full/finished draft of a book or short story.  I've gone so far as to tell my lovely writing group that I'm taking a hiatus.  I was going to writing group and felt like I wasn't contributing to anything and leaving feel again disappointed in myself for not doing more with my writing- hence not being perfect. 

After making the decision to not be forced into a writing time line or writing project I've discovered I'm writing more now than I have in the past months.  So I'm not starting a new, I'm just continuing on with this blog in somewhat atypical form- unplanned, unstructured writing and just writing for the fun and enjoyment of it. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

July Reads

Lordy--- has it really been a month since I've written a post?  Yeppers.  Well here goes- the reading I did in July- hope nothing shocks you :).

Liberty by Ellen Miles
Another Puppy Place saga daughter and I enjoyed together.  It was an appropriate story about a puppy found on the fourth of July.  We finished it on July 1st.  Although, not a high brow read, spending time reading next to my youngest is so well worth the lack of plot and character development. 

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Pamar
Interesting read about Vanessa Bell and her sister Virginia Wolff.  Amazed by the research that must have gone into getting the background notes for this book. Again I think a well written book but the relationship issues and family issues made it not a real enjoyable read. However, planning to look for Vanessa Bell art as I was unaware of her before this book.

Just Do It: How One Couple Turned Off the TV and Turned On Their Sex Lives for 101 Days by Douglas Brown
I know I can't imagine what some of the "bookies" are saying reading this, if they read it :).  They are wondering- "What the Heck".  Well this was a book club book for my husband and I.  We have been trying to read books together and then discuss them as this leads to making me happy by spending time reading and discussing and makes him happy by spending some needed time together.  This was his pick for our July Book. It was an interesting read.  I really thought I would be reading some pretty graphic and not so "chatty natty" material, but alas as with so many things we read we can pull out the topics that are of interest to us.  Me- relationships and bettering one's relationship with those I love- is definitely a topic I can read about.  Me- not so much- reading about going to the Porn Convention in Las Vegas (really can't ever fathom me walking into that type of venue- I'd be so embarrassed and laugh a lot- for as outgoing as I am that scene isn't me).  So this book was actually pretty good.  I liked the guys writing.  I was a little worried that the story would become slow.  Really, how many pages can go on and on about one couple's sex life.  But there of course was more to it.  My tough part of the book was not all the sex, sex, sex, it was the wife.  She just was to perfect.  She was a stay at home mom, who worked also out of home while watching two girls at home- the one sounded like a real piece of work because of comments of only being able to be calmed by her dad- "whisper time".  And this mom didn't have any TV or cable to help keep her kids busy and give herself a little "me time"- like maybe I've been known to do in my life as a "mom".  She also was a foody, really clean, healthy, "make her own bread" foody.  She was into yoga and it was her idea to try for 100 nights in a row of sex- no really- I kid not- her idea- she's like woman of the year right?  So reading about this perfect wife somewhat drove me nuts.  Hubby and I had an interesting attempt at discussing the book.  I was irritated with the wife still so couldn't really discuss the book rationally.  Plus our youngest interrupted the discussion because she needed one of us to help her get to sleep- talk about book club downer. 

The Last Treasurer by Janet S. Anderson
This was a YA book about a kid who of course is being raised by his father because his mother has died.  I swear most YA books the kids are either left with just one parent or no parents.  Can't figure out why that is.  Anyways, this book the main character is part of a family in which treasure has been found in various houses in a square that many of the family members live in.  It is a good, quick read.

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
Excellent Book Club book for July.  This is a story that is not a feel good, but because of the mystery it is an interesting, and I thought enticing read.  I kept reading because I wanted to know what the outcome was going to be.  I liked how each chapter was titled with the name of the person who's perspective that chapter is written or told from.  Her chapters were also short so it made for an almost "dialogue" like style of storytelling.  One person's view one chapter, another person's view another chapter.  I'm always impressed with people who can come up with this type of story line and keep it interesting until the end.  Really well done.

And that's all folks- onto August (well I"m already halfway done with this month- some more great reads already and it is only day 15).

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Taking the steps...

So first quick up date- the inner excavation class I'm doing is going great!  I'm enjoying journaling, taking pictures, and getting creative with how I am putting my work together.  I'm amazingly blessed with a wonderful life, great family and some really genuine Peeps in my life.  I'm finding that others don't have it so great.  Grateful for what I have and hoping some of the others involved in the inner excavation class find themselves and find that happiness, peace, or resolution so many of us seem to be looking for.

This week the theme for the class is "I seek" and is all about senses and recognizing at any given moment what is happening around you- you remember those five senses: hear, taste, smell, touch, see.  She add a sixth- know.  What do you "know" by those senses- what do they tell you, teach you, help you see. One of the activities is a type of meditation that you think about what you hear, see, taste, smell, see, touch and know.  You can do this meditation sitting in quiet/peace or do it as a walking meditation.

I took my walking meditation "6 senses" walk yesterday morning before work.  I did not wear any headphones and just tried to be present in my walk.  I saw: dew, birds, deer scat, flowers blooming, and bugs.  I heard: birds talking, singing and squabbling, dogs barking, my feet landing on the pavement, and bugs.  I smelled clean, morning air.  I touched my fingers together as I swung my arms, and the fly that kept buzzing around my head in one part of the trail (I touched it because I was swinging my arms around to helicopter this annoying fly away).  I didn't really taste anything but my morning dry mouth (brushed teeth plus no hydration- kind of dry), however when I walked by some hollyhocks I imagined if I was a bee the nectar from the flower would taste like "nectar of the gods".  What I know from this walk was the fly annoyed the crap out of me and I lost some of my presence when swinging my arms wildly to divert it away from my head.  What I also know is that it wasn't that bad walking in the morning and really taking in my surrounding minus listening to my Ipod.  It was relaxing. It was energizing. 

So the inner excavation continues and I'm eager to continue on.

Along with the inner excavate I'm doing a 7 day consistency challenge.  My action steps are walking or some physical activity 20 minutes every day along with having a smoothie for breakfast every morning.  So far I'm doing well.  I'm kind of coming to terms that walking may need to become my new best friend.  I went for follow-up doctor visit this past Monday and everything looks good, but my doctor is really heavily encouraging me not to head back down the running path.  He is concerned that I will just end up needing further knee surgery in the future.  So he wants me to continue to do PT, find other activities like walking, biking and swimming and hold off on running for 2 more months.  I was hoping to hear something different, but I've been reminding myself that 2 months ago I couldn't hardly walk down stairs without discomfort and a horribly odd gait.  So onward we go with walking and hopefully more activities to come with no knee swelling. 

I leave you with something I read today which is so true- sorry don't know who wrote/said it...
"Just like nutrition, the process isn't sexy, but showing up again and again and again (and again)- regardless of how you have to rig the process to make it happen- is what leads to fitness success over time".
Planning to keep it on my calendar/"to do" list to Show Up tomorrow and the days to come.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Two different trips

I'm getting ready to take a trip, well really two. I leave for both of them Monday. I'm totally excited for both. In two days I leave for Vegas with my hubby, my sister and my brother in-law. On the same day I leave for Vegas I start a personal trip that will challenge me physically,mentally and spiritually.

The class is a free 6 week class run by Liz Lamoreux. You do have to buy the book "Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self Through Photography, Poetry and Mixed Media." by Liz. I first heard about Liz via Pinterest then her blog. If you are interested in learning more about her go to www.lizlamoreux.com.

Her intro of this book starts with these lovely words, "I am so glad to find you here reading these words because it means you are in the midst of one of the greatest adventures of your life-looking inward and sifting through the layers to unearth who you are as you walk on your life's path"(7).

Sounds right up my alley. I'm constantly trying to understand me, my purpose and all the other questions that come with those two: how, why, when and where.

Liz doesn't stop there. Her 2nd sentence of the book is the call to action. "The journey of doing this work- the big work-of looking inward to figure out where you are, where you want to go,how you got to this moment,is the focus of the book.

It is a closed Facebook group. This is how we will communicate during the 6 week class and how Liz leads us through the 7 chapters of the book. We are sworn to secrecy and so stories and the experiences can't be shared- it's personal. I'm here to say by reading many of the introduction "hello's" thus far am impressed, intrigued and amazed to get to know these classmates better.

Excited to create some new stories and take both these journeys- on to sunny Vegas with some of my most favorite Peeps and the internal journey of discovery.

----- Sent from mBox Mail Hotmail for iPhone and iPod Touch http://www.fluentfactory.com/mboxmail

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June Reads...

The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy
 
The Anatomist By Bill Hayes
I was so excited to write about this great book that I tried sneaking it in on my May Read's Post.  I finished it in June though so saved it for this month's post.  It is the true story or back story of the two men who produced the book Gray's Anatomy: Henry Gray (author) and Henry Carter (illustrator).  The author who wrote this book knows how to write.  He had a brilliant way of weaving current day story with the back story and flashback story of these two men who brought the production of one of the most utilized anatomy books known to health care providers and the general public. 
 
Bill Hayes set out to get the real story behind the production of this book.  This book, Gray's Anatomy, was not written when digital photography, computer processing, scrivener, or other current day publishing tools are possible.  I found it interesting that most of this book really focused on the illustrator Henry Carter.  His illustrations, attention to detail and knowledge of the body was AMAZE BALLS! 
 
I also really appreciated the way in which Bill Hayes wrote about his own life and different ways in which this book connected to his own personal life (have to read it to understand what I mean).  Again, well written, easy to read and totally made me want to go back and re-read my own anatomy books and try to remember my own gross anatomy class.  
 
So glad I found this book on the New Nonfiction shelf at my public library.
 
Marriage Illustrated with Crappy Pictures
 
Marriage Illustrated with Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick
 
This was another book I found on the New Nonfiction shelf.  It was a book that my husband and I both enjoyed.  It was spot on in some aspects of our own marriage.  The first illustration in chapter one couldn't have been anymore true:  Husband lying in bed with no sheets on and asking when, oh when can we turn the air conditioning on.  Wife on the other side of bed huddled up under her pile of covers, trying to find the heat radiating off her husband to keep her warm.
 
It was a pretty funny book, but not the funniest, not funny like "Sh*t My Dad Says" by Justin Halpren.  The pictures add to the comic relief felt when reading it. It is an easy read and I suggest a good book for any husband/wife duo to read together. 
 
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works
 
10% Happier ... by Dan Harris
This was our June book club read.  It was a book I likely wouldn't have picked up, but as always with book club I'm so thankful for this group of women who challenge my reading brain. 
 
It is a memoir/creative nonfiction genre about Dan Harris, ABC newsman, who finds meditation, Buddhism, mindfulness, and becomes 10 % happier.  I think he did what most newsman do researched, studied it, but then he actually put it in practice.  Again don't want to spoil his story, so want you to read it if you are looking for something that could possibly help you: become more even keeled, less angry, more in the moment, really more present.
 
The topic of being "present" is something I continually struggle with.  Just the other day I was telling someone that this book has made me realize that I need something to change my thinking, and meditation/mindfulness sounds pretty good.  I don't want to wish away time just to hurry up and get to another time.  I don't want to miss some really important moment in my life or my family's life because I'm too busy moving forward, looking forward. 
 
I liked this book because it spoke to me, but I'm not sure that it was the best written book or that I connected with Dan Harris.  However, it has helped me connect with my hubby.  He is finishing the book now and we have had some great conversations already about ways in which the book  has spoken to us in different ways. 
 
If anything I can say "thanks" to Dan Harris for bringing to light that "being present" is really besides being "happy" one of my ultimate life goals.  Thanks Dan Harris!

     
     
Liberty (The Puppy Place, #32)
 
Liberty By Ellen Miles
Yep, another Puppy Place. saga.  Appropriate one for this time of year a story of a lost puppy found on the night of the 4th of July fireworks.  Some of you may wonder why I put these type of books in my "monthly read" posts, but these books are just as important as the other ones, because I have read them with one or both of my kids.  My daughter really loves these books, because she loves dogs, and dogs will never be a part of our immediate family.
 
So as horses, real horses, weren't a real part of my immediate family growing up, I lived vicariously through reading books with my father, and checking out any horse book I can from the library.  Even during my late elementary school days when I thought I'd become a "big animal vet" I'd go to the adult section of the library and check out horse anatomy books.  I know I was a library nerd even back then. 
 
This is a great series that teaches kids about what it takes to take care of animals and how animals aren't for everyone.  This book even had some teenage angst in it.  Thanks Ellen Miles for letting my daughter live vicariously through the puppy place books to fulfill her love for dogs for the time being.
 
She and my niece have already figured out that when they are older, after college, they will both have dogs and live together.  Can't wait to see that come to fruition. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Like this reminder...

If there is one fact in my profession that every client knows, but doesn't "know" it's this. You're not perfect.

Can't for the life of me remember where I read it, but it is so true.

I don't expect to be perfect but I tend to have expectations for life "things" that put a cloud like perfection on them.

I think along with these high expectations and perfection comes another tough word: guilt.

I'm ready to start shedding the guilt.
I recently told myself I was going to buckle down and not drink any adult beverages for the month leading up to my trip to Vegas. We'll I lasted all but two weeks and said screw it and had an adult beverage, or 2. I felt guilty for a few minutes and with that guilt came the other toughy-feeling weak.  However, I moved forward and accepted my choice, took a breath and moved on.

At about the same time I came into this idea of dumping guilt I also finished reading "10% Happier" by Dan Harris. It is a book about this man, author and ABC news anchorman's, experience with meditation and mindfulness. I found many of the ideas from this book as ideas and actions that would help get rid of the guilt I constantly was battling with. "Be present" was definitely the big take home point for me. Intentional actions and experiences instead of my current chaotic, scatter-brained, multi-tasking self.

Then came a new Facebook and blog page to follow: Live Well with Kell. It was a suggestion from a friend at work. Her friend Kell wrote about different ways in which to live well. I love her voice. She is so upbeat an positive and has doable suggestions for living life well. One of Kell's recent posts, which happened to coincide with the reading of Dan Harris' book, was we all make choices and so lets say if Kell decides to eat a donut  for breakfast that's fine, that's her choice, but then she can't complain about her weight. I liked this idea and I liked the mindset of we all have choices to make and no one is perfect. If I decide to lets say eat a  whole Jack's frozen pizza then that's my choice but then I can't complain about it.

so note to self: no one's perfect, get rid of guilt in life, be present, and accept our choices and move on with no excuses or complaints for the choices made. I'll let you know how this new mindset works.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

May Reads... I know, I know, its the middle of June

I'm a little embarrassed at the lack of posts/writing I've done this year.  When I went to write today's post on what I read in May I was shocked to see I've only written 24 posts this year.  Part of the reason for my lack of writing has been my lack of running and racing, which for so long has been a great source of my writing.  I've also been working on this online writing class that has been taking up my time and the writing I'm doing for that has been no "post worthy".  So the class is almost done and I plan to move forward with working on my writing, so I hope to be writing more posts. 

But for now here we go with what I read in May.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet."  Pretty powerful first two lines in chapter one.  I'm being taught the importance of strong lines to start a story, because, as it makes sense, this grabs the reader and they keep reading.  These lines grabbed me and I kept reading.  The story is about Lydia, who is dead.  However, it is a mystery how she died.  It is a story of a family, mixed race: Caucasian and Asian.  The father is a professor, the mother was suppose to go to medical school and be a doctor and instead doesn't, and two sisters (one being Lydia) and a son.  It is a story of a family and all that comes with being a part of family.  It wasn't a feel good book, but I enjoyed it.  It was a combo of family drama + mystery.  Well written and another I'd suggest for you to pick up. 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Our book club book.  This was our 13 year anniversary of book club.  It was a good book, but I kind of felt like I didn't enjoy it as much as other bookies did.  However, many of the bookies read this book awhile ago, some of them reading it again, because they liked it so much the first time.  The story was a sad one and shows all of us just what a life of poverty looks like.  It also reminds us that just because you are poor doesn't mean you can't be happy.  It is a family story and the characters were well described.  I think it just didn't hit my emotional side as much as I would've thought it would have.  Francie Nolan, the main character, was  a strong, inquisitive, determined young lady.  I really liked her character.  Again, good book, but not my fav of this month's reads.  I always feel like I pick books with such high expectations of being great that my expectations just set these books up for failure or disappointment. 

Noodle The Puppy Place #11 by Ellen Miles
We, daughter and I, are continuing on with reading about all the wonderful puppies that need homes.  She, my daughter, would love a dog, but alas that just isn't going to happen so I'm going to try and keep her love for puppies and animals alive by reading books with her about them.  She enjoys them and they are fast reads that help our chapter a night goal be realistic. 

The Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
This was our kid's book club at church read for the month of May.  It was an entertaining story and the length of this book challenged me to get finished in time for the kid's book club.  I read about the first half to my daughter out loud, son finished it early May, the fast reader he is.  I liked this story and the characters were quite interesting.  Ben (an orphan boy) and Firedrake (a dragon) befriend each other and go on a journey searching for the "rim of heaven".  This "rim of heaven" will be a safe place for Firedrake to live and also he's hoping to find some dragon friends there too.  Ben and Firedrake aren't the only interesting characters in the book, but you will have to read it either by yourself or with your kidos to discover the others.  

The Day After Tomorrow by Allan Folsom
This book was on my parent's bookshelves while I was growing up.  I think I picked it up a couple of times, but never really dived in.  Then last year my parents were moving out of there home into a smaller home and needed to unload some of their things to either my sister or I or to Goodwill/garage sales.  So my sis and I went through their library and picked out books that we wanted and I picked this one and added it to my box full.  I picked it up in April and started reading it and just couldn't get it done by the time April ended so I finished this one early May.  The protagonist is a doctor who is in Europe for a conference/speaking engagement.  He finds a young medical student quite beautiful and quite interested in him- they hook up and then they part.  He has to go back to California and she needs to go back to med school.  He can't leave her though and so follows her back to France.  Game changer- he sees the man who killed his father when he was a child and the mystery begins.  It was at times far fetched, but I thought it was a book that definitely grabbed my attention.  Interesting twist at the end. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Felt like a snow day...

yesterday the rain came down and after I ran errands and went to PT yesterday morning I arrived home to two kidos enjoying Garfield on Netflix.  Sorry Garfield, nothing against you, but I really don't care for your animated cartoon.  So after the show was done I said, "OK enough TV".

The two awesome kids of mine played almost the rest of the afternoon setting up their own "Animal Farm/Zoo" for youngest and "Jurassic World" for oldest.  It really felt like a snow day.  The kind of day where your kids stay in their pj's all day and get out toys you haven't seen them play with in forever, due to the over scheduled schedules us crazy parents put them on.

It was a great day- full of imagination, creativity, and some video production with the Ipad in tow to make their own videos- way better than Garfield in my eyes.  I may be a little biased.  Hope you and your kids, if you have them, have time to have a "snow day" this summer at home.




Friday, May 29, 2015

Smack- right in the face!

 
So some days I feel like the words on the page are smacking me awake.  I've read two different pieces this morning and both just struck me with such "Aha!" that I had to share/write it down.
 
The first came when I was reading a magazine article about a confirmation experience of the author.  Yep- church confirmation. It fell into my lap at a perfect time, especially since my thoughts from yesterday's Bible Study were still a buzz in my head. 
 
  Yep- I'm in a Bible study group that meets once a week- I'm trying to educate myself on this great book. I joined this past fall and it has brought me nothing but sheer joy, happiness, and unending love of those I'm surrounded by.  These women and men know their Bible.  However, they don't judge, they don't lecture, they don't read it word for word literally.  They have introduced me to a beautiful book that for the longest time I was put off from, scared of and felt wasn't needed. I have learned just because there are people out there who like to read the Bible literally and tell anyone who will listen that they are the end all be all expert on understanding what the Bible means doesn't mean I have to agree with them.) OK so I digressed...
 
The article "Confirming our Youth" by Elyse Nelson Winger talked about the author's experience into becoming an adult within the church through confirmation via flashback to her own confirmation and realization of her daughter's current confirmation.  The reason the article spoke to me was because of the following lines the author writes about her daughter Catherine and also the lines of Rainer Maria Rilke the author quoted at the beginning of the piece...
 
"... be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.  Do not now seek answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them.   And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without even noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." -  Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.
 
"Catherine brings to this milestone quite different concerns and convictions than the 13-year-old me.  And her questions and doubts are inviting (okay forcing) me to look anew at the meaning of confirmation.  Among every confirmation class across every church there are young people at different stages of belief and faith, and all of them deserve the opportunity to affirm their baptism with authenticity and integrity.  What does this mean?"..."Catherine is very interested in what's really 'true' and she doesn't know how she can say yes, in her own terms, to the promises her father and I made at baptism when she's not sure she's all in."
 
The "Letters to a Young Poet" lines couldn't have hit me in the face any harder- basically just live life- the answers will come.  "Love the questions themselves" was a big "aha!" for me.  Also, the experience of Catherine's questions/doubts coincide with those I seek to have answered by attending Bible Study and trying to get my hard questions answered.  What is "true"?  What is "right"?  I think reading this article made me realize I have to live the questions, ask them and then continue living, not waiting to hear the "right" answer.   Through living life some of my tough "life" questions may just be answered. 
 
Then I was cleaning out my inbox and found this email from Liz Lamoreux.  She is one of my favorite people, I've never even met.   Liz Lamoreux is one of those people I'd tell my favorite Peeps- "Hey this person would be one of our peeps".   Her blog lizlamoreux.com is excellent.  She is also a great one to follow on Pinterest.  So here is what she sent me and the "aha!" I had. 
 
The image was sent with her post- EXCELLENT!
 
This morning found my daughter and me running late for school. My husband usually takes her because he's a teacher at the school she goes to, so it just makes sense that they go together. But some mornings I need to take her. She was so excited after celebrating Jon's birthday yesterday that she had a lot of trouble getting to sleep last night, so I let her sleep in. But as I'm known to do, I didn't really think about how I needed to get myself ready along with the usual routine of getting her breakfast, making her lunch, helping her get dressed, etc.

I so often think I have more time than I really do...as though each minute is really 90 seconds long. Can you relate?

And I'm trying so hard not to do the "come on, hurry up, keep moving, we're going to be late, can you stop telling me that story and just focus on your shoes" thing. I've been focusing on empathy and reinforcing the positive with her lately, and I'm seeing huge shifts in the way she interacts with us and those around her, even in the way she sees her world.

This doesn't mean that I didn't say, "Honey, if we don't get your teeth brushed right now, we're going to be late" or that I didn't say, "Stop your story for a moment and eat another bite of breakfast." But I tried to just let it be softer and breathe through my own "We are SO GOING TO BE LATE!" inner dialogue.

We finally got into the car and if traffic was non-existent and we made the lights, we would be there just on time.

And I had a choice. I could tense up my shoulders, hunch over the wheel a bit, tell her to be quiet, and get laser-focused on driving so that we wouldn't be two minutes late. Or I could enjoy the drive with my daughter and turn up the radio and we could sing together like we love to do.

Each day we have these simple little choices we get to make.
  • We can choose to snap at someone or take a breath before we speak.
  • We can choose to drink the glass of water our body needs or drink our third cup of coffee.
  • We can choose to wear clothes that make us feel good, the necklace that reminds us to just show up as ourselves, the shoes that just feel good on our feet or we can put on the clothes we've never really liked because we hate going shopping and refuse to change that story.
  • We can choose to reach out with gratitude or think about how we should write a thank you note and then never do it.
  • We can choose to pause and notice what we need or we can push through without even taking a deep breath and wonder why we're stuck in the story of not having enough time, being enough, doing enough.
  • We can choose to rest or we can just keep spinning.

So what did Ellie and I do? You probably already guessed the answer. As we pulled into the parking lot of her school, we were singing American Authors "The Best Day of My Life" at the top of our lungs and she was saying, "Mama! Mama! Look at my new dance move." And as I parked and turned around to see her dancing in her car seat, my heart grew another size.

I don't always choose the path with more magic, more ease, more light. But when I do, I can feel myself settle into my life with more love within and around me. Every. Single. Time. And I want to remember that I get to choose because I really do want to feel like I'm living my life. I don't want to feel like life is happening to me. I want to live it. Yes. Yes. Yes.
 
I don't think I have to add too much more to the above- I think the "simple little choices we get to make" should be printed and put on my mirror in my bathroom, on the dashboard of my car when I go to pick the kids up from school, and as a book mark to glance at when ending my day exhausted, frustrated, annoyed, irritated, or just plain confused on my purpose in life.  "AhA!" we all have choices- we just have to step up and choose what is best for us- easier said than done, but this email couldn't have come at a better time than this morning! 
 
Again, where would I be without reading in my life!  It gives me so much! 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Hot Mess

Trying something different with this post- the text in normal print was written on 5/7/2015, the text written in italics was written today.  Think of it as a flash back/flash forward kind of story.
I didn't think I was a hot mess, but clearly I was because I couldn't stop from tearing up, snot dripping from my nose and Kleenex being used to dry the tears and wipe the drips from my nose- then of course wadded into wet balls in my hands. 

I was talking to the Health Coach, this was my third session. I was suppose to be making progress, but instead I was more resentful, frustrated and more lost than I had been when I started the coaching sessions.

The first time I met "Julie" was 6 eeks ago for my initial intake/interview.  I shared with her my story of injury last fall, surgery, rehab and now 6+ months after surgery feeling nowhere closer to where I'd have hoped to be after all this time.

Anytime I took a step towards a more active lifestyle my knee would "blow up".  After the second time of this occurring I happened to have 6 month follow-up with my surgeon.  He diagnosed me with quad tendenopathy.  He wanted me to undergo ultra sound evaluation and likely steroid injection.

Yesterday I had that appointment and confirmed I had something causing my swelling- it is a foreign body (likely bone fragment) in the synovial joint of my right knee.  The very nice orthopod and his sport's fellow drew off 12 cc of turbid (a mix of blood/clear) fluid from my knee and then I got the injection.  I HATE needles, so this wasn't a fun time, but I was proud of myself no tears and even prouder of my awesome hubby (aka coach) who was with me the whole time. Today I met with my surgeon and he feels that the foreign body is likely the cause of my inflammation/swelling in my knee.  I will undergo arthroscopic surgery on May 26th.  I'm not betting the farm that this will be the end all be all to my issues, but I think it needs to be taken out or I won't be able to move forward with getting on with activities of daily living, and PT.  My surgeon of course has to give me the "now I can't promise that you won't continue to have problems because of the degeneration already done in your knee, but I'm hoping this will let you get back to being more active".

So why was I resentful?  I told "Julie" that it was hard to come to the gym and walk by the treadmills and see all the lively, vibrant people running along without a care in the world.  Meanwhile I got to walk on the track while people ran past me.  It is hard to be around others who can do more than I can.  I know pity party, but "Julie" said it was all relative to my current situation so as usual she made me feel better and let me know that I could feel this way.

I also had done the horrible thing of weighing myself the week before this session and my weight keeps on increasing.  I'm trying to do better with monitoring my food intake and adult beverage intake OK so yesterday I ate a king size Snicker's Bar at work.  I know I shouldn't have, but it was our "thanks for being a nurse" gift.  I have no control sometimes.  So the number on the scale has me very frustrated.

I've never been a numbers girl.  What I mean I've never been like a daily or even weekly scale stepper because I don't really care what the number says, but my clothes not fitting right, well I'm not OK with that.  The number on the scale confirmed what my clothes were already trying to tell me. 

Not having a goal to work towards is hard for me: no training logs to look at, no workout schedule to plan due to no races on the calendar.  Looking back I realize now I do have goals, they are just different goals: they are doing ab exercises every day whether I like it or not, doing push ups or weight lifting for my arms, even if I can't do lower body exercises.  I have this writing class to focus on and the goal of getting my "BIG" story written down, if it is only for me.  I just have different goals and I'm resisting this mindset change in a big way.

I'm frustrated with not knowing what I can do that won't "piss-off" my knee.  I'm frustrated because I doubt the discomfort I feel- am I feeling discomfort because my knee is just so deconditioned or am I feeling discomfort because something really isn't right with my knee.  Yesterday and today's confirmation that I have something in my knee that shouldn't be there was a help in this area of frustration.  Part of me was doubting my symptoms and wondering was this a figment of my imagination- was I not doing enough rehab, not enough ice, not enough NSAIDS.

I told "Julie" feeling lost was probably the scariest thing.  I feel there are so many unknowns.  What if the doc next week says sorry can't help you out or I get the steroid injection (which side not I HATE needles so that should be a good time) and it doesn't work and I have to have something more invasive done.  So I obviously survived the injection- no tears- Fist Pump Me! My surgeon was awesome and got me in today so I didn't have to wait to see if the steroids would work, because that foreign body isn't going to be going anywhere- can't dissolve miraculously.

"Who I am" is a never ending quest or theme in my life.  I ask almost daily "who are you", "who are you going to be when you grow up", "what kind of parent are you", "what kind of wife are you", and luckily I feel blessed with such awesome Peeps, that I just don't go there with the "what kind of friend you are".  The unknown is so hard for me.  I am a planner I like to have it figured out or at least a goal, time line, or list of how to accomplish my overall goal of figuring out "Who I am" 

These feelings of frustration, resentment equal chattynatty pretty unhappy.  When I'm not happy I cry.  I used to cry more that I do now, I know hard to believe, but over these last 6+ months my emotional state hasn't been stellar and the tears have been flowing more frequently.

The tough thing with all of this is happiness/being happy or not being happy melds into every facet of my life.  So when talking to "Julie" today I was a scatter brained hot mess.  I cried about not being able to run on the treadmill, realizing my internal crankiness wasn't making me "mom of the year" candidate, nor giving me empathy for others: my patients I care for, my family, my friends, and strangers on the street.  All this hot mess was intertwined and affected by my health and happiness.

I was seeing my unhappiness turn me into the hot mess I was in front of "Julie". We covered everything from my physical, mental, spiritual and mommy well being during this session.  I offered up examples of unhappiness in all these areas.  I also offered up my extreme guilt and realization that my pity party was lasting way to long.  I know there are many people out in life living much harder, harsher, horrific lives than I am.  This made me feel even worse and cry more.  Why couldn't I just "suck it up buttercup" and move on and be happy with the wonderful life I do have: friends, family, children, love of reading, writing, etc, etc. 

When I see my oldest's negative coping skills and crankiness it is a further reminder to me that my own actions haven't been the best to help model better coping and less crankiness when things just don't go his or my way.  This crushes me to think my lack of coping, my frustration, resentment, impatience and bad mood was/had been transferred to my beautiful oldest child.  It is always hardest to see those attributes you like least in yourself in those of your kids. 

So "Julie" said, " what is the one thing that can make you smile or laugh today?"  She reminded me my overall goal with the Health Coach Sessions wasn't a number on a scale or toeing a start line of a race, it was "Happiness" that is what I had written.  I just wanted to be "Happy".  So I answered her that my children, particularly my youngest child could brighten me up because of her never ending resilience, love for life, beautiful smile and great laugh.  That was going to be my "make me smile/laugh today" answer.  So I left and went out and you know "Julie" is a great Health Coach, that master's degree has done her well.  She knows her stuff and my daughter's beautiful smile, laughter and never ending determination to get that soccer ball at soccer practice tonight was just what I needed- a little "happy".

So moving forward- another surgery, minor this time, but still involves those dreaded NEEDLES!  As two of my beautiful favorite peeps said in almost the same words- "you will get through this" - hope to look back in 6 months and see how right they were.  I'm giving myself another 6 months to return to possible running life, but for right now my goal is to be able to ride a bike with my kids, do yardwork, walk up and down stairs and not feel the age of my right knee (I've been told by several docs I have the knee of a 60 year old).  Onward march!



Monday, May 11, 2015

April Reads

I am embarrassed.  I haven't posted anything since mid April and that post was the March reads.  Now here we are 11 days into May and I'm finally posting something and sure enough I'm posting April reads.

I don't like the excuse "I'm busy", because I strongly believe that if you make it a priority "I'm busy" just isn't in your vocabulary.  So I have no excuses, but will share- briefly-what I've been doing to keep me away from my blog: I'm taking a writing class on line.  It is 10 weeks with two "free weeks" throughout the 10 week course schedule.  It is called DIY MFA 101.  I am enjoying it, but "woo dogs" it is keeping me hopping.  I plan to share my DIY MFA experience after I'm done with the experience- kind of like a review.  I may not be writing much here, but I have been writing more and doing more writing exercises since starting the class.  Had to go out and buy another spiral notebook today.

I'm also in the midst of trying to keep up with two book club books- one I need to finish by this Sunday so I can help run the kid's book club at church.  One of the girls in the group chose "The Dragon Rider" by Cornelia Funke.  It is a great book, but boy it is a long one 500+ pages, and it is not big print.  I'm trying to finish it within the next two nights.  Then I need to start my book club book for May- "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn".  It is a long one too.  I am feeling the pressure of reading by a deadline- should be interesting to see if I pull this one out and keep up with my online writing course- oh and the laundry, cleaning, being a mom, and wife. 

O.K. now onto April reads:

"Compromise Cake: Lessons Learned from my Mother's Recipe Box" by Nancy Spiller
I found out about this book because it was talked about in another book I read about writing memoirs.  This is a memoir with the main theme centering around the relationship between the author and her mother.  Each chapter has a food dish/item and recipe as the basis for the discussion of their relationship and also the author's relationship with other family members in her lifetime.  The book painted a picture of a real life experience of a daughter whose mother is depressed and has mental illness issues.  I found it a somewhat sad story overall.  It is a true/real life story though and I did enjoy how she tied different recipes into her subject matter for each chapter. 

"Museum of Thieves" by Lian Tanner
This was another great pick for the kid's book club at church.  I loved the characters and found the story line interesting.  It reminded me, somewhat of the Hand Maid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, meets The Giver by Lois Lowry meets the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  (Now there weren't girls being used as "baby making" machines like in the Hand Maid's Tale and yes I know many YA- Fantasy novels could fall into these three books descriptions).   The story begins with Goldie Roth waiting for "separation day".  She is ready for the chains to be broken among the children, their parents or The Blessed Guardians.  However, the story really takes off when this "separation day" is cancelled, and Goldie, being like any other strong women/girl protagonist: mischievous, strong willed/stubborn and emotional, will have nothing to do with her "day" being taken away from her and so does what any sound minded girl her age would do- runs away.  She meets a cast of characters throughout the story and they are all very well developed and written: Olga Civolga, Sinew, Morg, Broo, Toadspit, the Fugleman, The Protector, Hero Dan.  It lead for great discussion and fun activity of making book marks and book covers depicting our favorite scenes from the story and/or favorite characters from the book. Others have asked me what we do at the kid's book club and I say the same thing I do at adult book club, just don't drink wine, and have more emphasis on an activity tide with the book.  The kids are really amazing and well read ranging from kindergarten to 6th grade.  My favorite part of book club is discussing what our next book will be and voting on it. 

"Mountains Beyond Mountains (Adopted for Young People): The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Could Cure the World" by Tracy Kidder
I wrote on this one already.  It was a good story.  I'm amazed by this physician's ability to sleep so little, work so continuously and be so optimistic.  At times I found the story almost too hard to believe.  His never ending work ethic, networking ability and confidence + intelligence get him far in life and his goal to "cure the world".  Great book for anyone in healthcare.  The best part of this book was the fabulous Haitian meal we had at the host's house for book club.  This Bookie is a true master in her kitchen.  The food was incredible and the drinks and dessert just added to fabulous Bookie conversation.

"Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson
GREAT BOOK!  Really enjoyed this one.  It has a very intriguing story line.  The book starts with the birth of this child Ursula and the reader gets to experience Ursula's birth, life, death over and over again throughout the book.  It has many historical references (WWII being a major one).  I felt like it was a very well written and interesting twisty turny type of "Ground's Hog Day", but instead of Bill Murray reliving the day over and over again with the Sonny and Cher song playing in the background (I've Got You Babe) you hear instead the over and over again life beginnings of this interesting being- Ursula.  Amazing story and it really kept me entertained and wanting more despite me knowing where the story would go- over and over again- to her birth, her life and her death, but oh how a person's life can be born, lived and death occur differently over and  over again.  I'm ready to dive into her next new release "A God in Ruins". 

Onto May reading.  I'm being optimistic that I will have accomplished reading both book club books by the end of May.  Hope that optimism isn't too unrealistic.