Friday, February 27, 2015

Happy Be-lated Anniversary!

On Febraury 25th this blog celebrated it's 4th anniversary- began on 2/25/2011.  I'm in-debt to one friend who told me I should really write a blog and another that helped me figure out how to create the blog and make it function. 

What I've learned in the four years of writing this blog...
1. I like writing down my thoughts.
2. I like having a place to keep track of things: books I've read, training schedules, races, and family events.
3. I like the idea that some of my friends/family may get to be a part of my memories even if they aren't there for them.
4. I enjoy looking back and reading and reliving life events.
5. This blog may just give me the material needed to write a book one day- so thankful to have that material!

Random rantings of chattynatty on this celebration of freedom to share myself and my ideas/musings with others...

Another night of Oscar's watching has passed- love award shows.  I think it is seeming someone winning something and being so honest to goodness happy. Lady Gaga "KILLED IT"- amazing artist.  Would have been even better if Julie Andrews could still belt out those lyrics and they could have had a duet.  Always saddened to see the passing of such amazing actors, directors, etc in the Memoriam. 

Trying to live through another Midwest winter. I have to travel to Vegas in two weeks for a conference and not sure what to wear- will be strange to get out my spring wardrobe.

Set back in the return to running/full activity as my knee blew up (swollen now) after a workout where I either rode to long or hard on the trainer or did too much weight on the leg press machine. One of my Lenten "to do's" was walking or some aerobic activity 10 minutes or more daily- well unfortunately for my knee to stop swelling I'm on the "bench" (aka couch) for the time being.  Guess "the big guy" had something differently planned for my Lenten journey.  Still hanging on with the "no sweets/treats" despite being offered free pie at Village Inn.  Took my kids there for breakfast yesterday and it was painful to be offered free pie and not be able to partake- Lent is challenging!

Friday night book club instead of Wednesday night book club- first time in almost 13 years of our book club we had to cancel book club for weather, but on the bright side- TGIF! BC being cancelled on Wed was a bummer- so rely on the renewal of my full spirit with the experience of being with these awesome ladies on a monthly basis.

  Reading a PD James mystery and struggling a bit- Victorian/English mystery writing- I may be broken by the harsh writing of mysteries by authors such as Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson- I'm not able to handle the easy going, prim and proper style of the English mystery. 

Well must go and make popcorn shrimp, mac n cheese and veggies for the kid's dinner.  I'm so ready for a "Natalie Pour" with my Bookies!

Happy Anniversary ChattyNatty readers- thanks for continuing to read me and support me. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

No this isn't a repeat!

You ever have one of those days where you start the day out annoyed by some email you received or some conversation you had?

Then mid day something happens to shift your whole outlook.

I had a busy morning and some internal grumpiness and frumpiness lurking inside my heart and mind. I went to bible study and felt at least momentarily released from the focus of my crankiness. Back in the car I was headed to home with brief stop at friend's house to pick up something "little" she had for me. I figured it was some long lost book I'd lent her...

Instead she handed me a small cardboard box and stated-"it's not jewelry".

Inside surrounded by tissue paper was housed my cupcake perfume dispenser.

I cried, I hugged, I told her "thank you" and "I'm so lucky to have you" and " I love you"- not because of this little ceramic cupcake but because she cared, she wanted to help me remember my childhood and what true/simple joy is like. Also I was changed. My day had changed just from this simple act of friendship that arrived in my day.

Life is good! I am thankful! I am lucky to be me -surrounded throughout life with friends and family who care and bring me happiness and love.

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Do things ever happen that you think- this isn't coincidence?

This past summer I was in Wisconsin, Dells vacationing with my family, my sister's and my mom and dad.  While the "cousins", my sister, brother in-law and parents were on a "Duck Tour" my hubby and I visited the local library (I know big surprise) and also perused a local book store that was going out of business.  I purchased a book and a couple of journals (writing focus- poetry and creative writing) along with "The Writer's Chronicle" Magazine.  Got a great bargain on all of them because the store was going out of business.

Fast forward- I'm finally digging into the "The Writer's Chronicle"  May/Summer 2014 edition.  I come across an article "Chronicler, Risk-Taker, Breaker of Silence An Interview with Camille T. Dungy" by Leslie McGrath.  I started reading and within the first few lines I knew I was reading the whole article...

Camille T. Dungy moved during her childhood to Southern California and then Iowa City, Iowa as her father, an academic physician, taught at a number of universities.

This is where I live, this is where I work, healthcare is my profession.  So I read on.  She is an author with three collections of poetry: What to Eat, What to Drin, What to Leave for Poison.  Suck on the Marrow.  Smith Blue.  Now I'm not a poetry fan, I'm trying to read it, but I don't always get it.  However, reading this interview I very much was grateful that the beginning line of the article drew me in.  Here is why...

Favorite lines/responses from Camille T. Dungy

What we don't say or write is nearly always as important, often more important, than what we do say or write.  this is a lesson we need to learn and learn again. (pg. 15)

It's a balance of what needs to be said and what doesn't. (pg 16)

Every word ought to be worth something in a poem (pg 16)

Howard Nemerov (said) 'Some poetry, not necessarily the most interesting sort, has the clear intention of communicating-meanings.  Other poetry has the clear intention of deepening the silence and space about itself"(pg 16)

Everything might not always be factual, but I always strive for truth...'Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story" (pg 18)

Wherever I was, there were books, and books were friends.  Writing was a thing people did, early in the morning, late in the night. (pg 18)

This is a description on what Camille Dungy witnessed one day when on the streets of her city in adult life.  She was observing this little girl reading a paperback book, holding her father's hand, while waiting to cross the street. 
This little girl I saw could immerse herself in the world of her pleasure, in her book, and her father would take care of the dull business of getting them across the street safely. That is the ultimate gift the father was giving that child.  I know because I had such a gift given to me.(pg 18)

The thing about me is that I like writing.  I reckon I am like a person who really likes running, who can't go more than a day or so without at least going for a little jog.  They may run a race now and again, but that's not so much the point as a rational use for all that training.  The point is to run one day and then the next and then the next.  It's not that I always like writing in the moment that I am sitting down doing it.  Ith' just that I really notice if I have gone too long without sitting down to write.  I get cranky and my thought are backed up and sluggish.(24).

Then it hit me- not until the last page- it hit me.  This was Dr. Dungy's daughter.  One of the pediatricians that retired a few years ago from our Department of Pediatrics.  I knew him, I'd seen him in the flesh, and now I had met his daughter through type, words, writing.  Life is really utterly strange sometimes.  So many of her words and answers to questions form the interview really spoke to me- as noted above. 

I had planned to write a funny and spiritual take on Ash Wednesday and National Celebrate Wine Day tonight, but instead I came across this beautiful author's words and found she had graced the city I now live in with my kids.  Her father was a retired pediatrician who likely cared for some of the kids I may see at times in my own clinic.  Life is strange, but I have to think not coincidental.   Think the Ashes and the Wine worked well for me today!

Life is really sometimes too surreal.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Memories

For some reason earlier tonight I started thinking about this cupcake perfume dispenser I had as a child.  I was thinking how just the vision of the ceramic, chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, an a cherry on top brought a smile to my face.

Why do these image come into our daily lives?  Why does one think of these type of possessions, and why do they bring back such vivid memories and produce in us such genuine happiness?  Half of the time I can't hardly remember names of people I casually see once or twice a year, but this ceramic perfume cupcake from my childhood I can so vividly describe.  I remember the weight of it, the feel of it, even the aroma of the perfume (it was an OK smell, but not like all the "cake batter" and "cupcake" flavored objects on the market these days).

I don't know the above answers; one could hypothesize that the people you can't remember their names must not mean much to you so you don't put their names away in your important memory bank.  But even there I sometimes have a "brain fart" as I call them and can't recall something that I really do care about or at least experience on regular basis.  I also wonder if those little memories, experiences, objects of our childhood are imprinted into our brains at times of most rapid brain growth and development and so they stick with us for longer. Or possibly these childhood memories stick because when a child we are "multi-tasking" like we are now a days an so can't focus on one object/memory per time.  

Maybe the answer is even simpler than that.  Sometimes it may be small things that make the most impact or imprint our brain greatest or have the crazy ability to put a smile on our face after we've had a long day. 

It got me wondering what "small things" in my children's lives bring them or will bring them, down the road when they are in their late 30's, such joy, vivid memories, and place a smile on their face or a warmth in their heart.

I realize lately that it is indeed quality not always quantity in many things in life.  I'm one of those people who is not only an emotional eater, but an emotional shopper too.  With all the depressing events occurring around me, to friends and family (see last post) I unfortunately care a lot and so feel the hurt and sorrow- not in the same depth or physical pain my friends and family are experiencing, but it gets to me. Again I write this in honesty, not to get some great award for being empathetic or a martyr.  I just write it because I just feel sad for these Peeps that are having tough times. 

So I like to feel better, like most people and so don't always choose the brightest ways in which to feel better: aka eating too much, drinking too much or buying things on a whim.  Now I'm not like a manic shopper, but sometimes I get buyer's remorse and think to myself did I really need that item?  Did I really need that extra "Natalie pour"?  Did I really need that extra serving of pasta or bag of chips?

So I'm trying to be more cognizant that my choices need to be thoughtful and purposeful and not based on just wanting to feel better because another friend has cancer or an acquaintance of mine's son is dying. 

Now don't get me wrong I do think retail therapy can be helpful, but as with everything lately I feel this need to really look at the purchases and think "do I really need that?", "is it going to make me feel better if I buy that?", and lastly "at the end of my life are these 'things' really going to matter?"

So speaking of shopping I found multiple pictures of the cupcake perfume dispenser that started this post off just by googling cupcake perfume dispenser.  Come to find out it came out in the 1970s from Avon.  All the different sites I looked at the cupcake was "out of stock".  I'm thinking a lot of little girls who grew up in the 1970s are like me and looking to "buy" a little piece of happiness and memory.  I may keep looking and eventually purchase it as it would go great on my "childhood memory" shelf in my reading room at home.  However, just the image alone brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

Love that my brain went where it did this afternoon.  Love finding this image and remembering the girl who loved her cupcake perfume dispenser.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

School of Life

So I decided to do my own "school of life" since I can't travel to London, England right now and don't have the cash to spend tons of money towards "self-help" classes, etc. So instead- I'm doing my own curriculum.  It's kind of how I'm also approaching my "writing" right now- self taught. 

So what did I accomplish this past week and what did I learn...

I watched several TED talks- free via You Tube.  If you have never heard of a TED talk you should check it out.  You can type in TED talks with a subject lets say "writing" into your google browser and all the different talks under that subject will appear for you to choose.  They are video mini presentation ranging from minutes long to around 18 minutes in length- the longest I've watched has been around 18 minutes, but many are around 12 minutes in length. 

I typed in TED talks "self-improvement" and watched the following...
"Why I read a book a day (and why you should too)" Tai Lopez
I thought the title was a tad misleading, because I felt like a. he really doesn't read a whole book through/day (not the way I define reading a book in a day- which is reading front cover to back cover, majority of words) and b. his talk was really to me about mentoring. His definition of reading a book/day appeared to be more skimming, picking out different chapters or words that sounded interesting and reading just that section.  However, I did like his point about books, they are "hidden treasures" and a way in which to be mentored by great people no longer living.  Reading their biographies, etc.  The main premise of the talk was about mentorship.  His rule for mentors is the rule of 33%: spend 33% of your time with those "below" or "lower" than you, 33% of time with your peers, and 33% of your time with people way ahead of you.  I really liked the following line...
Remember, everyone wants the good life but not everyone gets the good life because not everyone is willing to do what it takes.  You must be different. You must do what most won't.

Another one was titled "How to make healthy eating unbelievably easy".  I can't remember the speaker's name, he was a younger college kid who had broke his ankle during college and for two weeks after the break he rehabed and avoid walking all over campus by moving home.  He was majoring in a health science field of some sort and had some nutrition background in his studies.  He came home to find his 11 year old brother over weight and choosing food not healthy/nutritious.  So he worked on helping his brother change his eating habits and eating choices.  He did this by changing the environment to match the goal.  If you want to lose weight you have to create an environment that makes this possible: get rid of the junk food, replace it with vegetables, fruits, and other healthy choices.  If it isn't there you can't eat it.  He promoted setting up the environment to work for you, to allow you to be successful.  If you plan and set up the environment to support your goals you won't have to make so many difficult decisions.  Find out your trigger foods and rid them from your house.  Totally makes sense, and sounds so simple.   Easy strategy to help working towards a more healthy lifestyle.  I also thought this idea could be applied to other life situations- exercise, professional goals, and changing behaviors. 

I also spent some time with some great friends this week.  I learn so much from my friends and their wise advise always amazes me and makes such sense. 

One friend talked about "should" not being part of your vocabulary, but instead replace "I choose" with "I should".  Take ownership in your activities and decisions.  She also had the great idea of not multi-tasking.  Be in the moment, and focus on the task.  She talked about her one friend who always seemed to be so "present" in the moment and also happy.  My friend realized that this friend of hers was not one to multi-task.  If she was doing laundry she was doing laundry.  If she was having coffee with a friend she was having conversation with that friend, not checking her cell phone, or thinking in her head of all the "to do's" she has yet to do. 

Another friend and I talked about making the time and priority to do exercise/activity daily.  It seems so odd to me that for so many of us making the time daily to get your blood pumping and body sweating is such an issue.  Also it is always something that after the fact I'm glad I've done.  Now my active life has changed some and I'm still rehabbing and running minimally, but I'm able to do other things and should.  So I have to make the effort to regularly do something to get the blood pumping and body sweating. 

Lastly, I'm always on the quest to find answers to my religious/spiritual questions.  So I'm looking to books as a way in which to become better educated and figure out some of those answers.  I'm currently  reading "Exercising Your Soul" by Gary Jansen.  He writes "the premise of this book is to practice certain types of formal prayer so that you move toward a state of living in perpetual prayer"(38).  Sounds very challenging and I'm not one to pray much if at all so we will see how successful I am.  This book may challenge me.  One of my big questions is why do tough/bad/ sometime even horrific things happen to people who are spiritual and/or religious?  He answers this somewhat for me on page 18 "spiritual living doesn't make you immune to the troubles of life, but it does give you strength".  Not too far into the book so that's all I have for you right now.  

Besides the reading, watching, listening I've also tried to just practice this past week different lifestyle changes to help me be more present and also more reflective.  Writing down notes while watching, reading and listening helps me to journal this journey.  I don't think I will have all the answers, but I'm hoping that by immersing myself in some self-taught ideas on "school of life" I will be living a more full and happier life.  Onto finding some more "school of life" learning experiences. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Stuck on the Couch

Fun sinus cold has kept me home today.  I'm enjoying some tea, nasal rinses (ugh- those puppies burn), and Kleenex.  I'm also enjoying the fire, the snowy view and a warm quilt wrapped around me surrounded by books, notebooks and access to the computer.

I'm trying to rest, but my "januaryitis" is finally lifting and I'm wanting to be "let's go" mode instead of "on the couch sick" mode.  So if I can't physically be active my brain and creative musing is taking over for lack of the physical mobility.  Here is what I've found via browsing internet this morning... Totally spoke to me. 

"I still get very high and very low in life. Daily. But I've finally accepted the fact that sensitive is just how I was made – that I don't have to hide it and I don't have to fix it. I'm not broken."--from my TEDx Talk Glennon Doyle Melton

Also read the following by Amy Maclin..
"There were never any classes on how to live.  What do we need to be happy? How can we make love last? Why should we keep washing the dishes when we're all going to die someday?"

These words spoke to my "Januaryitis" mind.  I read it in her article "Educating Amy" in my January Oprah magazine (thank you awesome mother in-law for the subscription).  The above questions are some that have been floating around in my head.  So I read on...

"As I hurtled into my 40's.  I knew I was lucky.  I had a good husband, friends, interesting work- but I worried that I didn't deserve it all, or that I was messing it up, or that everything would be taken away." I added a few lines of my own to this quote "my children, my family"- but otherwise spot on with thoughts I had felt/thought.  Was this author reading my mind? So I read on... wishing/hoping for the answers.

"It felt obscene to gnaw on my fears and regrets, because I was loved.  How could I feel adrift in a universe where I had an embarrassment of riches?...No one can think about this crap all the time and still live in the world, so I got therapy and figured I'd just grimace and bear it.  But then I found out there really is a School of Life".
Again- she had me- I was all eyes on the page.  This "School of Life" is in London and gracing its threshold is a sign that reads "Good Ideas For Everyday Life".  Ok sounded to good to be true. 

Upon entering Amy found different self-help books and "feel good" items for sale along with different classes she could sign up for.  She picked "How to Develop Emotional Health" book up and bought it and the book stated again something I was thinking "We know it's ridiculous to think a book that's half an inch thick could tell you everything...But we know you wish it could.  We wish it could too.  The absurdity of it all! Together we will figure it out what we can."

Exactly- It was so relieving to read that someone else out there has felt the same way I have and had the same desire to find the answers to those life questions.  So I can't go to London- although I'd love to. I'm not going to be able to read every self-help book out there to answer all my life questions (besides my "to read" list is already totally out of control). 

However, reading something like Amy Maclin's article and also writing down my "life questions" may just be how I get the answers. 

Life is too short seems to be a statement plaguing me lately.  Is it because I am indeed getting older?  Is it because I've been reminded within the past year and even just in the month of January how fragile life can be: death unexpected, mental and physical health issues of loved ones, the fact that my children are not getting any younger, but getting older each and every day?  I don't know what prompted it, but instead of hemming and perseverating on the "life is too short" I think I need to be enrolling or moving into my own "School of Life" program/curriculum. 

So instead of training for a race, adding another "to do" on the list of never ending "to-do's" and not actually accomplish it I would like to start today to figure out the answers to my questions.  I hope through the process the "life is too short" mantra that is echoing in my head will be replaced by a different mantra.  As Amy Maclin notes in this article she has tried to work on different life processes, for example, she wrote a check and attended a class on breathing better (relaxation class).  Well we all know what Amy did next- she left the class and all those lessons on breathing better went out the door when standing in line waiting impatiently for the lady in front of her at the Starbucks make up her mind and "just order already".  Or like for me I say in my head or read something that makes me think- I want to be a more patient/empathetic mother, and I do some actions that warrant steps toward this change, but then in a split second I lose my cool, my anger takes over and my inpatient nature returns and I feel like I've made no head way towards the better, more empathetic and overall "happy" mom.  So how do you change- how do you enroll in the "school of life" and make it stay for the long haul?  I don't know if I will ever know this answer, but I'm hoping the process and journey to strive to find the answers will be a great learning experience.

Some brainstorming ideas:
1. Read some of those self-help books, articles and blogs that help me figure out different mechanisms to work towards end goal of really living life to its fullest.
2. Live a healthy life- NOT PERFECT- but focus on good health and well-being choices for me and my family.
       - meal plan (yep if I plan my meals/snacks I definitely eat better)
       - stay active on daily basis (strength training and cardio) incorporated into    everyday life
       - drink Water- totally simple and I don't mind it-so why don't I do it more
3. Have FUN- with my kids, my husband, my family and friends.  If life is going to be too short why not make the most of it and have FUN in the process.  Sad to say I may need to write a bunch of lists to jog my brain as to what those FUN ideas are when I'm in the middle of a long work week, hectic family schedule, or stressful time.  Also, find creative ideas to help the FUN be easy and not requiring big expense account.
4. Write/Journal/Track progress in this "school of life" process.  This will help me to sift through what has worked and what has not.
5. Talk to friends, and mentors to find out if they know the answers.  I have so many great friends that have lived some very full lives.  They likely have answers that I may be able to benefit from.  Questions I'd like to ask them:
    - What do you do in your daily life to live life to its fullest?
    - What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your life and how have you persevered?
    - What is the greatest life lesson you have learned?
    - What would you do differently looking back at the life you have thus lived?
We will see how my "school of life" goes. 




Sunday, February 1, 2015

January Reads

Do I read for enjoyment?   Do I read to educate myself?  Do I read to be better read? Do I read for "free therapy"?  Do I read to connect with people, my children, my husband, my friends and family?
Do I read so I can learn to write? Do I read to escape?  Do I read every night before bed because I just sleep better than?

Yes.  Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

My questions and answers could go on and on.  A friend recently was going through a tough time and I asked her how she was getting through.  One of her answers was books.  She was using books to counsel her on how to get through this tough time.  In fact she stated- "I don't know what I'd do without books".  Exactly!

So my reading year of 2015 has begun.  Here are the books I read either by myself or with the kids this month.  Some were excellent and some were Meh! But I honestly can say I think I gleamed something from each and everyone of them.  In no particular order:

Confessions of an Amateur Believer by Patty Kirk
Nonfiction read on a lady who grew up in the catholic church, had some tough life things happen in her teenage years (parents divorced, mom became mentally ill due to a tumor in her brain, author experienced a sexual assault- never went into detail but this event made her "flee her home" and run to other countries to figure out life: Hong Kong, Bejing, Germany, etc), she then ends up falling in love with a man who prays daily and attends church on regular basis and does daily acts that equate being Christian (in my definition of Christian- helps neighbors out, is civil and loving to others including family, etc).  So she falls in love with him and they end up having two girls who sound like everyday girls who know how to challenge their mama in their own ways.  She becomes a born-again Christian (this title has never set well with me, don't know why, but those were her descriptive words.  I think I don't like the title, because I don't think you are ever born-again.  I think people just came back around to faith, God, etc).  Anywhoo- I read it to add to my quest for better understanding of my big religious questions.  I didn't get them all answered, but I felt she addressed some of them so left me feeling less out in left field wondering these things.  For instance, Anne Frank was a Jew and she died during the Holocaust.  We all know her story.  Well the authors daughters were talking about the book/story and one stated to her mother (paraphrased)- Mom I don't think God would be so mean to not have Anne Frank go to heaven even though she is a Jew and doesn't believe in Jesus.  Mother agreed and so again I had some validation of my crazy thought of maybe all of us end up in the same place after this life on earth.   So good read- not the best- I didn't crazily write down sentences or quotes I was reading during the read, but overall nice look at someone's life process.

The Mysterious Woods of Whistle root by Christopher Pennell
I read this book with my oldest and we enjoyed it.  The main character Carly is spunky, adventurous and investigative.  She has been burdened with being not able to sleep at night and only during the day and so this sleep pattern doesn't really allow her to be "normal" like the other kids in her class.  She also is an orphan, which sometimes I wonder why it seems so many main characters in children's chapter books are orphans.  She befriends a mouse who plays music, specifically the fiddle, on her Aunt's homes rooftop at night and that is where the journey and mystery of Whistle Root Woods begins.  Overall I thought it was just O.K.  At times I felt there were some missing pieces within the story and struggled to see all the connections, but it was a good read with my fourth grader.

Reading and Writing: A Personal Account by V.S. Naipaul
I was eleven, no more, when the wish came to me to be a writer; and then very soon it was a settled ambition.
This line is what drew me to the book.  The author is dealing with accomplishing being a writer living in India, then England and how to mesh it all. His father was a journalist so he knew about writing, but I felt that the journalists life was not what the author felt his father and of course he should shoot for. 

This excerpt also struck me as very inciteful.  He talked about how some of the classics in writing didn't speak to him, but for instance he received creative insite by going to the "cinema" instead.
As a child trying to read, I had felt that two worlds separated me from the books that were offered to me at school and in the libraries: the childhood world of our remembered India, and the more colonial world of our city. ... What I didn't know, even after I had written my early books of fiction ... was that those two spheres of darkness had become my subject. Fiction, working its mysteries, by indirections finding directions out, had led me to my subject. But it couldn't take me all the way. -V.S. Naipaul
It was a quick read, really it was an essay bound in a book, but I do think that if I want to write reading about writers and their process is indeed helpful. 

I Suck At Girls by Justin Halpern
The second book for Justin.  His first Sh*t my Dad Says was HILARIOUS!  We read it for book club many moons ago and I just couldn't stop laughing.  This one wasn't quite as hilarious, but it was a comical read and made me laugh, which I think everyone needs more of in their lives. My husband and I have been trying to read books together and then discuss- like a mini-book club. We read this one and enjoyed it, but didn't have a lot to discuss on it.  We both agreed that when the "dad" was written into the story it was much funnier that when "dad" was absent.  I will definitely read another Halpern book when it comes out.  I'd like to see one when he has kids and is a dad. 

The Four Doors by Richard Paul Evans
Another quick read, short book, but nice. Nonfiction read on making your life better.  I don't think I got as much as I thought I was going to out of reading this book because I struggled to remember exactly what it was about.  I can tell when a book really sticks with me or got into my noggin and this one wasn't one, however, others have really drawn from this book so if interested in any of the four points below it may be something you want to pick up.

The doors represent the principles that will create change in your life.
#1 Believe there is a reason you were born. You are important.
#2 Free yourself from Limitation, You can do anything you set your mind to.
#3 Magnify your Life. Live everyday as if it were your last day on earth.
#4 Develop a Love-centered Map. Love is all that matters.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
This was our book club read and I really enjoyed it.  It was a well written story with great characters full of all sorts of depth.  The story isn't a feel good story and I hesitate to say too much as I don't want to give the story away.  Just read it! 
Also- just found out that Spielberg owns the rights to the book and is making it into a movie. Will be interesting to see who he puts in the characters parts as I already have a visual on what the main characters look like. 

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
My oldest and I read this one together.  We are trying to start a kid's book club at church and so this was our first book picked.  Fun/magical story about a boy- an orphan (big surprise)- who is taken in by a magician as his apprentice.  This is the first in four books thus from our local author and so I think I will read further books in this series.  It wasn't too heavy or dark, aka Harry Potter, but had enough intrigue to keep me and the fourth grader engaged.  For book club I'm thinking of making Bennet's biscuits (one of the character's biscuits recipes is shared at the end of the book), discuss and do some sort of craft in connection with the book- make our own "locus magicalicus" (magic stone). 

I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Lorretta Nyham
Great book!  Here are my comments I posted earlier this month.  I just couldn't wait until the end of the month to post them.
 These two authors have put together a wonderful story of friendship between two women who have never met, but through letters.  The two main characters are both wives of military men, and one has a son who is also in the armed forces during WWII.  There are no chapters, just letters.   I found it a great read, and even more interesting was to find out at the end of the book that the two authors have never met in person.  They met via a blog.  Decided to write a book together based on letters and as of the publishing date still had never officially met in person- Amazing!
My favorite book of Jan 2015.

Snowball (The Puppy Place #2) by Ellen Miles
My daughter and I read this one together and it was perfect.  It is a great series for my little one who loves animals especially dogs.  We will never have a dog, so until she is an adult and can have her own place and puppy (a plan has arisen where she and my niece are going to live together and raise their two dogs together when they are grownups).  Cute story about rescuing a puppy named Snowball and finding him a home. 

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
Sherlock Holmes is old and retired and he meets a young lady named Mary Russell and takes her under his wing.  This was a book hubby and I started and he almost didn't finish.  The writing style, Victorian language, got to him.  Although a mystery it was a mystery of Holmes era.  Not today's mysteries which are very graphic, violence filled, along with recreational drugs, etc.  I enjoyed it and will likely go on to read the next one.  However, husband won't be joining me on the journey. 

Onward to February!  Happy Reading Friends!