Did you happen to read Glennon Doyle’s recent book, Untamed? While I have been familiar with Doyle through the years, I never got around to reading any of her other books. She popped up in my consciousness through authors I am keenly interested in – Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown and of course, Oprah. If Oprah likes you, you are gold, right? But somewhere between the time I discovered her and sort of knew who and what she was about (life struggles included anorexia, alcoholism, drug addiction and unplanned motherhood to name a few) to her writing the book Untamed, she seemed to have undergone a complete shift in thinking.Continue reading “Untamed”
Looking back through my blog content, I didn’t spend much time talking about my 2019 reading list. I might have mentioned a book here and there but the only time I blogged about books this year was for my 2018 list which I published in late January (better late than never?!). This year I set a goal of 70 books and finished 77 as of today – this number astounds me because I used to read a couple dozen books a year. The benefits of sobriety! I’ll take you through a few of the best books in a few different genres that I enjoyed.
Best Audiobook: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
There is a lot of debate on book Twitter if audiobooks even count as books read and I’m here to say they absolutely count. If you listen to a book and take in all the information from the book you have every right to count them on your “read” list. I have tried to read A Man Called Ove many, many times because everyone told me it was good, but it didn’t take until I listened to it while I sweated it out at the gym. All this time I had been pronouncing Ove wrong – this is one of the benefits of listening – hearing things pronounced correctly.
Finding your purpose can be a lifelong quest. I’m not sure I’ve found mine yet but I’ve whittled away a few things that I’m pretty sure are not it. One school of thought, if you want to bring your purpose into your life (not sure if this is even possible), is to dig back to when you were young and remember what you were most interested in. The things you were passionate about back then could lead you to your next career or job. Can you get paid to read?!
Yesterday I had a bunch of ideas about topics to blog about. I didn’t write them down and they have vanished, vaporized, gone. Does that happen to you? You’re in a groove, ideas are flowing and you’re sure you’ll NEVER forget them? So noted.
On the tail of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram post about writing I thought I’d pull out her 2015 book about creativity called Big Magic. I listened to the audiobook when it first came out and loved it so much I decided to pick up the hard cover edition to add to my writing inspiration library. She describes the magic of ideas: how they come to you and how they disappear if you don’t act on them. She illustrates it with an example from her life about a book idea she worked on until her personal life got in the way of her project and how she’d lost the passion for it when she tried to return to it. Poof, it had disappeared.
She talks about how ideas are energy and they are looking for a human to bring them to life but you have to be open to receiving them. And if you don’t take up this particular project, it will move on to someone else. Have you ever had an idea and saw it pop up somewhere else? Someone else brought your idea to life? This happened with that particular book project. Someone else wrote the book.
This got my attention. I decided I better start paying attention to my ideas. Write them down. Be open and see where they go.
Before we get too far into 2019, I thought I’d take a look back at the books I most enjoyed in 2018 and would highly recommend to others. My tastes veer toward mystery, suspense, psychological thrillers, and current fiction as well as British fiction (I have a love affair with London and England that began in the summer of 1981 when Lady Diana married Prince Charles for all the world to see). British mysteries are a favorite!
I have to say it was a wonderful reading year for me. I am a pretty tough critic and usually I don’t hand out to 5 (out of 5) stars very often – though I would lean a bit toward four and a half for many if that was allowable on Goodreads. In 2018 out of the 83 books I read, a stellar 19 were 5-star reads (22%) versus 2017 where only 11% were. Let’s get to it. They are in no particular order and I’m not going to list them all here because we’d be here all week. Continue reading “Favorite Books of 2018”
Over the past couple of years I’ve gotten away from watching television. There seemed to be no time to keep up with all the shows people were talking about: Game of Thrones, This is Us, Big Little Lies. And Grey’s Anatomy is still on! The last shows I properly binged on were Downton Abbey and Breaking Bad, two shows so good but as different as could be.
Instead I was reading every chance I had and you can see the numbers of books read climb as my TV watching diminished right up to last year where I managed 83 book. Now I have all the time in the world and I’m finding it hard to focus on one book for very long. I had always loved movies so I started going again and have seen The Favourite (astonishing) and On the Basis of Sex (this calls into question what am I actually doing with my life) in the past week. And since I’m solo here in Florida, I turned on Amazon Prime and was delighted to see Lady Bird on there, a movie I had hoped to see in the theater. It is exactly the kind of quirky movie I love. The next night I watched Beautiful Boy, a heartbreaking movie about a drug addicted son that I wrote about here.
This brought me to yesterday. I am trying to go between the books The Alice Network and The Gifts of Imperfection but cannot stay focused. Instead I perused a few YouTube channels I follow but still nothing held my interest. I cleaned around the house and by 6:00 I found myself collapsed in my chair and started looking for something on Netflix. After the requisite 30 minutes of scrolling I settled on You.
I am now properly hooked after binge watching the first four episodes. I don’t know whether it is good fortune or bad but there are only 10 episodes right now so it won’t be a situation where I’m bingeing for days in a row. While You is no Breaking Bad, it is definitely keeping me entertained and surprised.
What are you watching?
Christmas is coming but you wouldn’t know it if you walked into our house today. I have been procrastinating about cleaning the dining and living rooms which hold the remnant mess of our summer kitchen remodel. There are always better things to do (reading, reading, reading) with my free time! I kept telling myself I would get to it and even this week when I knew time was running out, I couldn’t ignore the siren song of my Kindle. I recently finished I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and then I became obsessed about anything else I could find out about the rapist and murderer who terrorized California in the 70’s and 80’s. And then I said to myself let me just start another book before I jump into cleaning.
Here we are at Monday again. How does this keep happening? Here’s a
brief longish synopsis of things I did.
Friday. I consider this part of the weekend now since I no longer work on Friday. I put on my parent hat, though, because it was parent/teacher conference day. The school year is winding down and so is my patience with a couple of his teachers. In fifth grade, they start rotating to various teachers for their subjects and there are about a dozen different classes to catch up on. The appointments run 15 minutes apiece and after looking at how he’s doing overall, I decided to catch up with four of them. Three he’s had past behavior issues with and one I missed last time. Two I deliberately chose not to meet with due to their behavior issues. And the rest I see often enough that if anything was going on they needed to talk about, we could address at any time. The meetings went pretty much as expected and the behavior issues are less intense than they were at the beginning of the year.
From there, Liam and I went shopping to pick up some last minute items for the trip. I took him to Kohl’s and let him pick out some activewear since he doesn’t have much he hasn’t outgrown from last summer. This turned out to be the best idea of the day because I usually pick out what I want for him (based on my style) and the kid definitely has a style of his own and gravitated towards things I wouldn’t have picked out. He loved one outfit so much he wore it the entire weekend even though the weather is not yet conducive to shorts and t-shirts. We collected just about everything we need and it was nearly noon by the time I got him home. I headed to a meeting (AA).
The afternoon was spent packing Liam’s bag and then organizing my own things and it was pretty interesting that everything was going to fit into my Vera Bradley weekend bag. I will also have a backpack for the misc items like electronics, guidebooks, and miscellaneous supplies. We didn’t do much else but one of my e-book holds came through from the library and it’s really good. I was halfway through a physical book from the library that was due back that day and I was unable to renew it because someone was waiting for it. It was called Mrs. by Caitlin Macy and while I liked it, it wasn’t enough for me to keep to pay the library fines. The e-book I started and am 60% through is called The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances and it’s the story of a mother whose son becomes entangled in a less-than-desirable relationship (from the mom’s point of view). There are twists and turns galore. It’s also set in London and I love books set in London.
That evening, Liam had lacrosse practice and then we went to a fish fry place for dinner. This is the most delicious place for a fish fry and it’s a good reason to look forward to Lent because we rarely go outside of that time of year. Needless to say, I stayed up late reading!
Saturday morning I go to a meeting first thing. It’s a great way to start the day and this is my favorite meeting of the week. I love getting there early (by 7:30) because there is an older lady who I can talk to about things I’m dealing with as a parent that are hard (she’s like a surrogate mother) and she helps me talk out whatever issue and I always feel better. There was something that came up during one of the parent/teacher meetings I was very concerned about and she allayed my fears and that I was doing a good job as a mom.
I haven’t updated you on my running lately but it’s going pretty good. Since I’ve been back from Florida, my ability to get to the gym regularly has suffered but when I get there I’m doing it. I’ve managed to get to 20 minutes of running and 10 walking for my workout and I got a good workout in both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Liam also tested for his next level of black belt and did a great job. This kid really amazes me with his dedication to Taekwondo. Testing lasts about 3 hours so that’s a good chunk of the day. We went to church that evening in anticipation of skiing Sunday but decided not to go after learning the conditions were “mashed potato”. Not my favorite.
Saturday night we made pizza at home and then at 7:00 I was tucked into bed with my book! This is how I love to spend a Saturday night. Maybe not every Saturday night but this was the perfect weekend for it.
Sunday morning is another meeting I love but I rarely make due to getting to church or skiing. It was a very good meeting and I saw a couple of friends to catch up with. I don’t know a lot of people at this meeting but I uncharacteristically engaged someone new in conversation before it began and I will now have someone new I know next time I go.
When I got home, Liam and I went out on some errands. I have been trying out Stitch Fix and had to return the items I didn’t want (which is to say most of them). I ended up returning the library book that was due Friday, returning one of my Target purchases from Friday and had to go back to Kohl’s because they forgot to remove one of the security tags from a top I bought. I was fairly annoyed by this because it was an inefficient use of my time but then I ended up finding a great spring basket for the front door. I have officially obliterated my Lenten sacrifice of giving up shopping!
I was also in search of a pair of white leggings for an outfit I wanted to wear on the plane. I visited White House Black Market, Chico’s, Loft, Talbots, Target to no avail. I gave up and we went to the gym. When we got home, Jim showed me a new purchase he made – an Apple watch – and he was pretty thrilled about it. He offered to buy me one too (this was something we talked about for our anniversary last fall but never did it) and I said why not! So off we went to the Apple Store and I picked out a similar watch. I love it already but I have very little knowledge of its capabilities yet! But in the mall, there was an entire store devoted to leggings! How’s that for synchronicity? Yup, they had the white leggings.
Once home, we both set up our watches and then I made dinner. After which Jim and Liam watched basketball until 60 Minutes. If you haven’t heard who was on last night, I might think you are living under a rock. I half listened while I read my book and wish I hadn’t. And now we are here on Monday morning.
There are many book-made-into-movie scenarios and for book lovers, there is an overriding passion for books over movie. I couldn’t agree more. I have seen so many of my beloved books turned into movies only to have them disintegrate on the big screen. Gone Girl, My Sister’s Keeper, Girl on the Train, Mystic River to name a few. There have been many that were well done, too, and I enjoyed the movie apart from the book (The Help, Eat, Pray, Love – I wanted this movie to be a full length adaptation, The Fault in Our Stars). And there have been many, many more that I refused to see due to not messing up the picture that was already in my head.
Today is supposed to wrap up my Florida vacation but a storm in New York may keep me here for a couple more days. Jim has sent me a picture of our snow covered cars along with the news that school has been canceled. I have refrained from responding with a picture of my blue sky above. I guess I wouldn’t mind being stranded here a couple more days while the snow sorts itself out.
This is my cleaning day here. Time to do the laundry, run the dishwasher, vacuum and clean the bathrooms. Unfortunately, I don’t know whether I won’t be flying in the morning so I’ll have to do all this “just in case”. It’s ok though because cleaning this house is a piece of cake because we don’t have a lot of stuff here and I’ve been keeping it up as I go.