Monday, October 2, 2017

Rewind and Redo

The idea that we've been living in fear since 9/11 felt acutely true today when the news of the Las Vegas shooting appeared in my daily news summation email from the New York Times. I'm just sick about it. I don't know anyone who was there, though a past Dougherty student was shot and is in serious condition. My friend's friend broke her ankle trying to get away. None of those experiences are directly mine, but I am still so sad.

We also got district press release today that there have been threats made on two of the neighboring high schools. Besides the death of my loved ones, a school shooting is my greatest fear. Columbine and ten years in the classroom were a sure way to cement that. Though the threats are most likely the poor choices of bored teenagers, they will haunt my dreams and make me anxious all day tomorrow.

Seth and I are working tirelessly to bring children into this world, and I want so desperately to give them a hopeful existence. It's hard to imagine that today. Praying extra for light and love to win the day.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Reviewless Week

Since starting this school year, I have managed to finish at least one book a week. This week, I didn't. Lots of reasons why, but I surprised by how disappointed I was in myself for not finishing anything. Obviously, this is not a real problem, but it was a good example to me of putting unnecessary expectations on myself. Yes, I have the goal to read more. Yes, I am happier when I make reading a priority, but finishing the book cannot be the only satisfaction I get out of the process. And measuring myself against other people's reading pace cannot be a marker for success, either in support of what I'm doing or against.

I read recently in one of my Brene Brown books that expectations are resentments in the making. That's a tricky thing to say since expectations (which often lead to the goals I set for myself) can sometimes give us something to strive for, but I have been on a quest in recent years to not be defined by external markers. In living authentically, I don't want to use comparison to find my standard of living.

I'm not sure this is making any sense, but I wanted to write and had no book review to write. So, here it is.

Happy October. I'm so glad the fall is really is here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Rising Strong

Rising StrongRising Strong by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can a person be a spirit animal? I love Brene Brown, and if she can't be my spirit animal, I want her to be my next door neighbor. I adore her candid feedback on life and well-researched ideas. She makes me want to be better, and her commentary is thought provoking and leads to endless hours of conversation with Seth and my friends. I can't help it.

If you haven't read anything Brown has written, start with "Gifts of Imperfection" or her TED talks. She really is a rock star.

Happy reading-

ps. Probably a solid 4.5, but like I said, Brene = spirit animal, so we round up.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Present Over Perfect

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of LivingPresent Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my "summer book" - the one whose premise spoke to what I wanted more of in my life. My book two months later is covered in post-it tabs showing a couple dozen quotes or ideas that I want to return to. Shauna's candor and collection of are insights are beautiful, and her commentary about the story of Christ saving Peter after walking on the water is potentially life changing.

So why the three stars then? Because the commentary was repetitive in parts and aimless in others. There are portions that I profoundly loved and then portions where I was left waiting for the point. I admire Shauna Niequist as a person and a writer. I appreciate how she helps others, myself included, cultivate our truth and the goal of living a life that is focused on only the essential. I just wonder if the book needed a bit more editing or more content.

Either way, I think you will find great takeaways in "Present Over Perfect". Happy reading and happy living-

Favorite Sections: You Put Up The Chairs, The Man in the Tuxedo, The Spring of the Basketball Hoop, Walking on Water, Baptism, And the Soul Felt Its Worth

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Woodson's writing is lovely. The childhood images she invokes are profound and still so simple. Stories written as a series of poems are great because they pare down the extraneous details, so that you don't get lost in side stories.

I loved seeing a glimpse into Woodson's memories. I could taste the arroz con pollo and see the fireflies on a summer night. I loved how she captured her desire to write and how she came to find her voice in a changing world. Plus, how can I not love another Jacqueline who didn't want to be called Jackie.

It may be out of your usual genres for reading, but give it a whirl. Happy reading-

ps. I am really torn between a 4 and a 5. The first half, I was enjoying it, but the second half was so, so good. So Goodreads, please help out your readers, so I can give half stars.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Power of Vulnerability

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and CourageThe Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I cannot say enough good things about Brene Brown's work. Just listening to her speak makes me feel both more capable and more complete. I love these audio recordings because they link the concepts of her various texts together. While this was not described on Audible as lives sessions, her commentary is just as well organized as a traditional text. I cannot recommend this enough, whether this is your first Brene Brown experience or your sixth.

Happy listening--

ps. Brene's next book "Braving the Wilderness" comes out on September 12th (just in case you didn't know). :)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything

Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes EverythingReading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In graduate school, one of my professors said, "You share what you love." For me, two of my most commonly shared loves are baked goods and books. In the two days that I was reading Bogel's debut book "Reading People", I texted six different friends about various pieces of the book, and I talked incessantly about it to my husband. If that wasn't enough, I tabbed the heck out of my book for things I wanted to go back to. I emailed myself (a more common practice than I care to admit) at work with notes about extroversion and introversion that seemed imperative to share in regards to class discussions. I ordered a follow-up book, and then I made my husband take Kiersey's personality assessment after I'd already taken it twice. All this to say, that I was more profoundly entranced by Bogel's "Reading People" than I could have anticipated.

The book, itself, is not an ideal book for reading cover to cover (how I read it) but is meant, instead, to be used as a tool and lens with which to view our personalities and the personalities of those around us. Better understanding aspects of our personalities simplifies the guessing game of "why did I just respond that way?" and allows us to prepare practical courses of action when strange situations arise. This book does not have all the answers. Most books of this nature do not. Instead, it invites you like Carol Dweck's "Mindset" or Gretchen Rubin's "Happiness Project" to become the best version of yourself through more focused self-observation and self-actualization. That process is made all the more enjoyable with Bogel's insights and anecdotal candor. Bogel, who is best known for her "Modern Mrs. Darcy" blog and "What Should I Read Next" podcast, is on her way to being known for giving readers a better way to find their place in the world than their results from "Which Harry Potter House do I belong in?".

Happy reading friends, and when you're reading to talk all things personality, I'll have fresh cookies ready.
ps. On a personal note, this is the first time I've ever been invited to be a part of a book launch team and given an ARC or advanced reader copy of a text. Small reader dream come true.