Books · Goals · Planning · Reflection · Uncategorized · Vision · Writing

Book Talk – Am I reading more?

Happy Friday! Yes, I’m sipping coffee and I’m wishing I could take the day off to read. It dawned on me that I have yet to share much about my Vision Board and my plans to read more. I used to be an avid reader. A couple of books a week was a typical average. Life got in the way. More like Igot in the way of reading!

I read an article earlier this year about how some of the world’s most successful leaders read every day. So if they can make time to read, why shouldn’t I? In all honesty, I love reading and once I started down this journey of rediscovery this year, I wanted to read more and more. Joining Brenda Novak’s book club and reading challenge was a great launching pad for me. And my “to be read” pile grows larger every day. The more I read, the more I find I want to read.

Let me share with you some (not all) of the books I’ve read so far this year. In each of the books, I will share an overall impression of the book and maybe even a link so that if you want to read it to you can. Full Disclosure: If I provide a link and you use it to purchase it via Amazon, you will be helping me sock away a bit of money to help support this site. I thank you for that.

Reading For a Better Me

<a href=”Shaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure is a great book that is packed full of motivation for physical and spiritual fitness. I love watching her in movies on the Hallmark Channel and I loved watching her grow up in Full House. This book was her way of sharing how she went from that chubby girl to a healthier and happier version of herself. I enjoyed this book because it wasn’t a diet book. It wasn’t a book that pointed out everything I do wrong. It was simply her view on how through faith and family and introspection she worked to make small changes over time that have been maintainable. As such an easy read, I keep it handy and actually pick it up every once in a while to look at end of chapters where she provides recipes and scriptures plus a little practical advice. It never hurts to reconnect. I really enjoyed it and hope you might too. Check it out.

OOLA: Find Balance in an Unbalance World by Troy and Dave the OOLA Masters. Now this book is not new to me. I got it a few years back and with my refocus using a Vision Board, I decided to pick this one back up because I wanted to revisit it. Everyone talks about work life balance and how important it is. I hear it all the time at the office. I preach it all the time to my colleagues. Does anyone really know what it means or how to do it? This book is full of how to put that into practice. I love that it even gives you an assessment to help you learn which of the 7 areas of a balance life may be needing more attention. The OOLA masters don’t tell you “how” to fix yourself. They share real stories and examples which allow you to reflect. Then they offer encouring nudges on how to find your action plan starting small and going bigger and bigger until you feel OOLA complete.

If you don’t get any other book this year, get this one! I have enjoyed reading it again and I’ve also enjoyed comparing my Vision Board for 2018 to their suggestions of an OOLA board and recognize that I have work to do to help me get balance. I also realized that I think reading this book in the past truly helped me subconciously as I was building my vision. My focus areas are closely aligned to the Seven Fs.

Reading for Joy

I have to be honest that I don’t always read books that show me “how I can do things better.” I have to read for the sheer joy of reading. It is my great escape. I love diving into other settings with fun characters and seeing what happens in their lives. Sometimes I have books that I really wanted to read but I struggle to find the time or just have a challenge connecting. Don’t you? Then there are times where I’m so engaged that I cannot put the book down and procrastinate everything else I should be doing. It is important to make time for this kind of joy. I think that even the world’s leaders have had books of fiction or non-fiction that really and truly were escapes into other settings. I learn from these characters and story lines too. So, I made sure I read from this “To Be Read” pile too. Here are some highlights on some of these other books I read in the past two months.

Edge of Darkness (The Cincinnati Series)

“>Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose was a great book. This was part of Brenda Novak’s Readers Book Club. Last night was the book club discussion where Brenda visited Karen and they hosted a Facebook Live discussion that allowed all of us to be part of the interview and discussion. I haven’t been much into mystery and supsense books but I’m a converted fan after reading this book. It is part of a series and I have added all of the other books in the series to by TBR pile because this book was that good. Her characters are real. Her settings were vivid in my imagination. And I didn’t know who did it for certain until she revealed it. I had a good guess, but I wasn’t 100 percent certain. In the discussion she let us know which of her characters in the series she has planned to “star” in upcoming books and I was very excited to know that I can look forward to some of my favorite secondary characters taking the front seat in future books. I learned a lot about how Karen manages her writing including how she keeps track of all of the characters in the series. As a writer myself insight to the writer’s life and learning tools and tips I might apply to my own work in progress and ideation process always gets me motivated and excited. She is a huge fan of Tami Hoag so I’ve decided I must prioritize some of my TBR list to ensure that I read one of those books this year instead of continuing to put it off. Funny, how an interaction with people can change your thinking in only an hour’s time.

Any Dream Will Do: A Novel

“>Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber is probably my favorite of the books I’ve read recently. Do you watch Hallmark Channel Movies? I do. And Debbie is one of those writers who has had several novels made into movies. Her stories are just that captivating and full of real people and sweet outcomes that they lend so perfectly to the Hallmark lineup. I’ve watched so many and realized that I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book. So when I was taking up the challenge to read a book in February based on the look of the cover, this one stood out to me at the supermarket. And I’m so glad it did. I just loved Shay and Caden’s story. Shay is so imperfecttly perfect that she melts my heart. So much of her personality resonated with me. I felt a kinship of parts of me in my younger years when it comes to choices in trust and relationships. And much y favorite character really was probably Caden’s daughter, Sarah. She said it as she saw it as any youngster would but her insights and observations were just so simple and true. Perhaps she reminded me of my daughter at that age. Such wisdom from those so young! I hope you pick this book up and just dive into the characters and watch them grow personally and together to make a new heartwarming family unit. You will feel so good at the end. I assure you.

Her Secret Daughter (Grace Haven)

“>Her Secret Daughter by Ruth Logan Herne was a sweet “commercial” and I picked this book up so that I would have a quick read. I like the Harlequin series books for the short read. Often this is a book length that I can finish in an afternoon while sipping coffee. I enjoyed this book about Josie and I really fell in love with the characters from Grace Haven. Have you ever read a book where you love the secondary characters more than the main ones? This was definitely one of these books for me. Addie is the “secret daughter” and she was a little girl who could have been written so differently considering what she had been through in life. The author, Ruth, really had me cheering this sweet girl on because I just knew that she was surrounded by people who loved her and having a chance to know her biological mother would maybe confuse her but in the end could just be the thing to help bring her that much more joy. I was rooting for Addie more than I was rooting for Josie. And honestly, at first I wasn’t sure I liked Josie and wasn’t sure I wanted her for Jacob. In the end, Addie is who changed my mind about that. Check this book out one afternoon and enjoy it with your favorite beverage in a comfy chair.

I guess I was all about the kids in my books this month. And it proves to me that secondary characters are critcal to any story line and matter to readers. I am looking forward to the next few books on my pile. If you pick up and read any of these books, please come back and let me know what you thought of them. I’d love to hear. What else should I put on my list? Any suggestions?


Mom Worry – Thirteen Going On Thirty

Friday, I received a text from my daughter that the school was on lock down. Having just joined a conference call with colleagues in our Florida office, very near that recent school shooting, I immediately shared that I was texting with my daugher due to the lock down and apologized if I seemed distracted. With all of the recent shootings, imagine where my mind went. Yes. What threw me was how “commonplace” it felt to receive the reaction of genuine concern with everyone admitting they were logging into news sites while I was getting details directly from my daughter.

This instance wasn’t a shooter at the school. With so many already this year, it was what first came to mind for myself and my colleagues. Police were in pursuit of a suspect involved in a shooting near the school. During the pursuit, the suspect stepped into the perimeter of the school property. He was apprehended and the students and faculty remained safe. Thank God! Those twenty or so minutes of texting with my daughter, knowing what was happening and having zero control over the outcome, were terrifying. Relieved, I poured an extra cup of coffee and engaged in another conversation with God about the worry and fear that still clouded my focus. I rambled to Him about the way the world seems now. At that age, my world was so innocent in comparison. My friends and I talked about music and crushes and parties. At school we had fire drills and tornado drills. Lock down? That didn’t happen. If we were locked in the school it was for an overnight retreat type activity like Project Graduation. Am I showing my age?

About an hour after the lock down, I picked my daughter up (normal time) from school and while we drove to Taco Bell to grab lunch, she talked more than I ever remember her talking on a Friday. I was completely taken back by her rambling revelations. She shared that lock down procedures have changed recently because of the school shootings. And frankly, some of the things she shared made my heart ache more than ever. Did you know that our kids are being trained by their teachers, administration, and police officers? She has been taught things to remember when a shooter is on the premises:

  • Stay away from internal and external windows
  • Lock and barricade doors with anything you can like desks and chairs
  • If the gunman is shooting at you, throw things at him or her
  • A fire extinguisher makes a great weapon: spray at them with it or use it as a weapon to hit the person

What really was surprising about all of this was that my daughter was thinking about all of this while that gunman was running around the area. She mentioned that she realized the choir room, which is the class she was in during lock down, was mostly windows and unprotected. She mentioned that she raised a concern to her teacher that the fire extinguishers are in the hallway and not in any classroom. She shared how the teachers use their classroom phones and email to stay in contact with the office and any police that may be with the administration for updates on the situation. She talked about the games they played to try to stay calm and distracted from what was going on around them even though three helicopters flew overhead. She talked about throwing things at a shooter seems smart…”but what if he (she never mentioned a female…in her mind it will be male) has an automatic weapon?” And at each new reveal, my heart went further into my throat or further into my stomache. I listened and tried my best to sound like I could reaffirm the direction provided by the school. At least I think I did. I’m not sure. Two days later, as I’m writing this, whatever I said has faded. Her words echo in my mind. Still. And two days later, I’m still sad at the innocence that seems lost. My heart aches knowing that her thoughts about friendships and crushes, school dances and plays are all sprinkled with worries I never had.

At her age, I didn’t have email, classroom phones, access to social media or mobile phones that allowed us to connect with anyone outside of school during the day. When did being 13 sound more like being 30? When did it become acceptable that our children try to learn while panicking or planning to be at the ready for a war that they don’t really understand. Heck, as a parent I don’t understand it myself. I know that my colleagues in Florida are still reeling from that shooting. And I feel like many of us are hypersensitive. In the past two weeks, I found out that my cousin in Ohio had a school shooting in a junior high right next to the high school she attends. And even my high school alma mater in Raytown had to address a threat made by a student. Sadly, it feels like every day we are seeing more incidents that adds to my fears. For everyone not just my family.

This is more than politics and policies. I don’t care if my neighbor, friend, and collegue are for or against guns. I pray that people become in love with the idea of genuine relationships: ones where we spend time together, making eye contact, touching, and truly conversing. I’m simply drawing a contrast to being 13 in the 1980s and today. As a mother I worry. I do so every day. I know my mother did too. But her worries weren’t quite the same as mine. She worried that my friends were quality just like I do. She hoped I made good choices when faced with peer pressure just like I do. She worried that my heart would be broken just like I do. She worried about me getting hurt in a car accident but I don’t think she ever worried that a person with a gun would be in a mall or a school taking aim where I might be. This mom worries and continually asks, “When did it become okay for our children to be 13 going on 30?”

Noteworthy Mention: While I was working on this post today, I made it a point to shift gears for family. I made sure to pause in my writing to spend time with my daughter and watch a movie together. I even decided to make cookies today. I have control on what happens here in my home and I certainly can encourage her to be simply 13.

Family · Uncategorized

Why Coffee?

I have this pattern. Maybe i should call it a habit. Like an automobile, I need a starter and ignition to get this motor started. When I wake up, the first thing I think about is a cup of coffee. Or two. Heck, let’s be honest, I can drink the whole 12-cup carafe. Have you seen my cups? No? You will. I promise. I do not have small espresso or cappuccino sized cups. Go big or go home, I say!

So, every morning begins with coffee. Living in Phoenix has hot mornings most of the year, but that first cup of the day is never iced, never a cold brew. Not for this girl.

I have had friends whom I have known for decades; family members too for that matter, who ask me if I always drank coffee. Well…that is tricky.

In elementary school, when my mother was in nursing school, we lived with my maternal grandparents. I loved buttered toast for breakfast. Or maybe I didn’t love it but my grandparents did. And hot cocoa was my favorite beverage pairing. One morning there was no hot cocoa because grandma forgot to buy the Hershey’s cocoa powder. Do you remember a time before Swiss Miss instant packages? My grandmother was definitely old school. And her cocoa was the best. To this day, I have no idea what she did to make it so great. I just remember it was. (Now, I feel inspired to find or make my own recipe to share in the future.). I digress.

No cocoa?!? What was I going to dip my buttered toast in? My grandmother used her coffee. So I asked if I could try it. And I did. At age 8, I discovered that a cup of classic Folgers with a healthy splash of milk made an interesting pairing with toast. But…always a but…drinking coffee? No. That still was gross. And so NOT hot cocoa. The trend started though. Every once in a while I would pick coffee over cocoa and my cup that I didn’t drink, I just gave to my mother or my grandmother so they could finish it.

Even though my blog is less about coffee and more about things that interest me and sharing stories, DIY crafting, and reviews, coffee is an integral part of the blog. Some folks claim to have their best ideas in the shower. Mine…they come to me while sipping coffee. The only consistent quiet time of my day is my first cup.

So as I sip coffee, I will plan, write, and share here. By the way, I rarely drink Folgers. I am not a true coffee afficianodo. I probably never will be. That isn’t my calling or gift.

I would love to hear from you. How do you take your coffee? What roasts do you like? I look forward to your comments, including suggestions for future posts.