February 8 2018

January Reads

Here are the books I read or listened to in January 2018. Check back for more lists of books about once a month.

These are the codes for how I read each book:
(A) = Audio Book
(E) = Ebook
(P) = Paper Book
1 to 5 *s rating system

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1) Stronger by Jeff Bauman (A) ****

2) Reach by Andy Molinsky, Ph.D. (A) ***

3) The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau (A) ***

4) Written in Stone [Books by the Bay Mystery #4] by Ellery Adams (A) ****

5) Poisoned Prose [Books by the Bay Mystery #5] by Ellery Adams (A) ****

6) Lethal Letters [Books by the Bay Mystery #6] by Ellery Adams (A) ****

7) Writing All Wrongs [Books by the Bay Mystery #7] by Ellery Adams (A) ****

8) Killer Characters [Books by the Bay Mystery #8] by Ellery Adams (A) ****

9) The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau (A) ****

10) Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic (A) ***

11) The Case for Hope by Lee Strobel (A) *****

12) God Speaks Your Love Language: How to Feel and Reflect God’s Love by Gary Chapman (A) *****

13) The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It by W. Chris Winter (A) ****

14) If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence, and Spirit by Brenda Ueland (A) ***

15) The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau (A) ****

16) Love in Every Stitch: Stories of Knitting and Healing by Lee Gant (A) ****

17) Selected Shorts: For Better and For Worse (Selected Shorts) by Symphony Space, Shahrnush Parsipur, Luis Alberto Urrea (Goodreads Author), Ethan Canin, Sherman Alexie, Ursula K. Le Guin, Karen E. Bender, Kamran Talattof (Narrator), Jocelyn Sharlet (Narrator), Robert Sean Leonard (Narrator), Harold Gould (Narrator), Keir Dullea (Narrator), Joanna Gleason (Narrator), Joanne Woodward (Narrator) (A) ***

18) The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks (A) *****

All of these books were checked out from my local library and downloaded as audiobooks to my phone. I can listen to them in my car while driving to and from work or on errands. I listened to them while getting dressed in the morning, eating my breakfast, and packing my lunch. If I am home alone, I am usually listening to a book while doing other things such as folding laundry and crocheting hats for charity. I was shocked by how much more reading I could get done by listening to the books instead of reading them either electronically or in the actual paper form.

As you might imagine, buying all of these books would be quite expensive, especially as quickly as I go through books. This is only one of the many reasons I LOVE my local library. I did read from paper books or eBooks, but those were the ones I carried along to read in restaurants while we waited to be seated or for our food to arrive. They are not on the list because I have yet to finish them. I find that I really enjoy listening to books. Maybe it helps me remember the times when I sat on or near my mother while she read from storybooks to me as a child? Who knows?

Why the library you ask? Well, other than the obvious money saving aspect of it, there is the fact that I have no intention of reading books more than once with a few exceptions, so I don’t feel the need to own them. If I own a book, I must find a place for it in our house and must on occasion dust it and all the others along with it. Life is too short to read the same books twice, so it is certainly too short to spend time dusting books or finding room for them. That is time I could better spend reading more books!

What is your preferred format? Do you read certain books in one format or another? What determines which format you choose?

I like to see what the front cover looks like, so you can see all of them below.

I actually read the first 3 books in this series in December 2017. This is a great series that I found when looking for writing books and I actually read the Writing All Wrongs book first and loved it so much I started the series and read it (listened to it) all the way through. I had apparently read the first book in the series years ago and never got around to getting the rest from the library.

March 9 2017

Visit Your Friend’s Bookshelf

On your next stay-cation, consider asking a friend of you can visit their bookshelf. Visiting a bookshelf that is not your own is an adventure to behold. Each book is a window to a new world just waiting to be opened and explored. Where will it take you? Who will you meet? What sort of adventure will you have?

Will you explore the reference books? Maybe an encyclopedia so you can explore new countries and see what sorts of things that country is known for producing. What does the flag look like? Do they dress differently than we do? What sorts of foods do they eat? Continue reading

February 10 2017

The Importance of Family Dinners

The Importance of Family Dinners

If you have children, you most likely already know how important it is to eat dinner as a family. We did this almost every night when the kids were growing up. The kids were allowed to help get dinner on the table by helping whoever was cooking or by setting the table. We would let them help plan menus for the week and voice what they were “hungry” for. Each child of course had favorite meals. We would talk about how it wasn’t good to eat the same thing more than one day a week. How we should try to plan a variety of different meats or even some meatless meals throughout the week. Eating together as a family affords opportunities to bond and many teachable moments.

Continue reading

January 19 2017

Books I’ve Read This Year

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This year began with my reading the book, The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod. I kept seeing folks in the bullet journal community doing level ten life spreads and when I searched to see what they were all about, I discovered it had to do with this book and since I had been hearing good things about the book too, I decided the time had come to add this book to my TBR list. As it happened it came in on hold from the library in time for me to read it and take it to the cabin weekend. It was a fairly quick read but did require a bit of thought. Luckily I had already gotten to the part where he told you to go to the website and download the Fast Start Kit (http://www.miraclemorning.com/start-here/). This includes the questions you answer to figure out where you stand in the various areas of your life so that you can begin getting all the areas up to level ten.
Hal also suggests the idea of getting up early every day and doing the SAVERS as a great way to begin your day. I am intrigued with the idea of the miracle mornings and believe it will work, but realize that I must first get myself to the point where I am getting at least seven hours of sleep on a consistent basis. I have it in my goals for the year to try the Miracle Mornings 30-Day Challenge at some point in 2017.
This was a good book and it inspired me to want to do better and try to un-do some of the bad habits I have developed over the last few years. I would totally recommend reading this book.

I decided that my word of the year to focus on would be FEARLESS, so I chose Why Not Today? Face Your Fears and Chase Your Dreams by Eric Dodge as the second book to read this year. I have known about Eric Dodge for years. I have met him and even had my picture taken with him in 2006, it didn’t turn out great but I will include it here anyway. He is a country music artist and an awesome performer. I had bought his book when it came out because I really wanted to support him and knew I would eventually like to read his book.
Eric wrote an excellent book and opened up and told the reader about his early years of being bullied, dating, depression, anxiety, weight gain and other adventures and things that lead him to be the person he is today. This book is a very uplifting story about how he overcame the obstacles in his life to become the wonderful man he is today. If you have ever dealt with any of these things in your life, you will enjoy reading this book. When I finished reading Eric’s book, I felt very hopeful, like I could do anything. If Eric could do it, then maybe I could too. I was willing to try.

The next book I found was one I had downloaded on a whim as an audio book from the library and I found I really enjoyed finding ways to “read” when I normally couldn’t, like while I was making dinner or driving. A great way to read that I don’t take advantage of nearly as often as I should. It was even better that it was read by the author. The book I listened to was called The Gratitude Diaries: How A Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan. Now I consider myself a grateful person who usually looks on the bright side, but after listening to this book I realized that there are numerous times in my life when I am more negative than positive. The author tackles a new area of her life each month and sees how it will react when gratitude is applied. She tackles marriage, love, family, money, career, possessions, health, fitness and more. I really liked her mix of real life applications and scientific research. I began testing some of her suggestions right away, so we shall see how the attitude of gratitude will change my outlook on life. Again, this book is one that I highly recommend.


Me with Eric Dodge Fall 2006 St. Louis

A really bad photo of yours truly with Eric Dodge in St. Louis 2006

January 12 2017

​SMART Goals 2017

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Ok, we have a new year and that means I need to bunch of new goals. I have been setting goals for years, but it seems I write them down, post them to the group that asks us to set the goals and then proceed o forget all about them until December when I dig them up and look them over to see if I have managed to actually, accidentally get any of them done. Usually, the only ones I got accomplished were the ones I would have done anyway because I certainly wasn’t deliberately trying o get any of my goals done. I decided that since I found this shiny new obsession called bullet journaling, that perhaps I would do well to really think about my goals before setting them this year and once they were recorded in my bullet journal I should actually try to actively get them done this year.

So I saw some folks in the bullet journal community talking about the importance of setting SMART Goals. So I, of course, Googled it and came up with lots of helpful websites and graphics. I decided I liked the looks of one of them so I saved it and tried to stick to what it said when it came to creating my goals this year. I will include the graphic in this post in case you want to see if the goals you have set for yourself are SMART Goals.

So, I won’t bore you by telling you what makes a smart goal because you can read them for yourself in the colorful graphic.
I split my goals into categories. I’m not sure why, but I’ve done this a few times before, so decided to stick to the established system this year because it seemed like a decent idea at the time.

FAMILY FUN GOALS:
1) Do a cabin weekend
2) April trip
3) Annual Hockey Trip for the kids’ birthdays

You are probably saying that these sound easy enough and you’d be right. I actually marked the first one off after New Year’s weekend because hubby and I decided the cabin was the way we wanted to celebrate the new year. (See my previous post and pictures of the cabin.) We already have the April trip planned because we planned it during our trip last April. The hockey trip is a matter of hubby and the two grown kids settling on a NY Rangers game that fits everyone’s schedule and is somewhere in the midwest. We actually did the 2015 trip in March 2016 and the 2016 trip in November 2016 because that was the way it worked out with the NHL hockey season schedule.

FITNESS GOALS:
1) Get 6 hours of sleep a night
2) Drink 6 cups of water a day
3) Continue using MyFitnessPal app

None of these is easy for me. I usually drink only water after work, but almost never drink water earlier in the day because I need my caffeine fix and so I drink my unsweetened iced tea instead. Yes, someday I will need to break the caffeine addiction, but this is not the year for that goal. I log into MyFitnessPal daily when I am at home, if nothing else, to record my weight each day. I am trying to do better about recording what I eat and drink in the app because I know when I do so regularly and stay within the caloric recommendations, I can lose weight. The sleep thing I have been trying to do better about since before I had kids (25 years ago) and it just isn’t happening, but I continue to try.

HOUSE GOALS:
1) Clean out my home office
2) Declutter the landing
3) Declutter my clothes

My office is an eight-foot square that was, in a former life, a breakfast nook. It has a built in china cabinet, an L-shaped desk, half of which has a hutch attached to it, three file cabinets with six drawers of files and four drawers of assorted junk between them and my desk has one of those long drawers for pens and such too. I am very good at cramming a lot of stuff in a small amount of space, unfortunately. Most of the stuff is just there at this point and needs to be gone through, sorted and decluttered. The clothing can always use a good culling. The landing is full of furniture waiting for the master bedroom to be gutted and rebuilt from the studs out. Seriously lofty, those goals!

PERSONAL GOALS:
1) Do some genealogy
2) Take three writing classes 
3) Read for thirty minutes a day

I was looking at the website just yesterday to see what classes are being offered at the local writers center. Reading is not hard, but I don’t always make time for it every day and I really should. I used to do genealogy all the time, it was my passion from the time I was in fifth grade until I started working full-time over ten years ago. I miss it, I can’t remember where I left off so jumping back into it might be difficult.

SPIRITUAL/CHARITY GOALS:
1) Pray daily
2) Read 15 inspirational fiction books
3) Crochet 26 hats to donate to charity (12 of 26 done)

Ok, so I already pray daily, but perhaps I should expand my prayer list a bit. I prefer to read inspirational fiction but want to make sure I am reading mostly in this genre. I attend three crochet/knit meetings a month where I can usually get an entire hat crocheted, but I don’t always get to attend the meetings and don’t always finish a hat at each meeting. I have already completed four hats this year toward the goal. Hats are my thing, I rarely deviate from the one hat pattern. Carpel tunnel could be a serious issue in achieving this goal.

WRITING GOALS:
1) Finish one of my previous NaNoWriMo novels
2) Publish something
3) Participate in NaNoWriMo (and hopefully win again)

In case you haven’t figured it out already, I LOVE NaNoWriMo! I have participated and won for the past four years. I have four unfinished manuscripts (just over 50k words each) to show for my efforts along with one Camp NaNoWriMo unfinished manuscript (just over 30k words) and a non-fiction book as yet unfinished. Thus, goal number one. Once that is completed, it would be nice to actually publish one of those six books. That goal could also mean writing and publishing a short story or article of some kind. Come November, I will be writing another 50,000 words on some new project.

So those are my 2017 goals for what it’s worth. The thing I’m not good at it checking in on those goals occasionally and planning to make sure they get accomplished. If you have any tips or tricks for how to actually get yourself to accomplish the goals, please contact me by email or leave a comment.