Monday, September 26, 2016

Happiness is....

...seeing that it's almost the 27th when I get to download my next set of Audible books.

...watching the leaves change.

...sweet texts and notes from friends.

...sneaking episodes of Fixer Upper whenever Seth and I find 42 minutes.

...mail that is not a bill or ad, especially cards from Jenessa and new Netfix movies.

...seeing all the fall decorations in my classroom.

...actually sticking to a consistent workout plan. Six solid weeks of five nights a week with my sweetheart working out every minute of it with me.

...dinner with the adorable Partridge family (including uninterrupted time holding their baby girl).

...catching up with both Seth and my parents. We're so lucky to have them.

...seeing the Giants hold on for dear life as the baseball season winds down.

...making plans to take a day off or go on a getaway with Seth.

...seeing October get closer and closer.

...waiting for Courtney and Lorraine to come over for our monthly dinner. Tonight a change of venue to watch (or mock) the presidential debate.

Happy Monday and happy fall y'all.

Getting into the Blog Groove

Remember when blogs were a thing and everyone had one? I used to spend whole Sunday afternoons catching up on people's blogs. Then came Instagram and Snapchat, and for book nerds like myself, Goodreads. I just went through my blog list to see which friends still had one. The answer - not a lot. Very few are updating regularly, but I am glad to catch those more detailed glimpses into the lives of people who I no longer live near. I really hope I live closer to some of my dear friends someday...dare to dream.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Taking My Own Advice

If you saw my previous two posts, you know that I've been reading and pondering about living a more authentic life. It's not that I think that I am putting on a front, but I do think in an attempt to maintain an optimistic outlook on life, I don't like to focus on hard things. Lately, my hardest thing has been fertility issues. This means an endless stream of prescriptions, lots of doctor visits, disappointing results, and uncertainty. I don't bring any of this up to complain, but because I'm starting to think that I need more of an outlet and because I don't think I'm being fully myself if I don't acknowledge this huge part of my current reality.

In all cases, doctors say that stress inhibits your body. I have been reminded of this repeatedly as I have made my way in and out of the San Ramon Kaiser. I don't know how to be optimistic - to keep hoping for a positive pregnancy result after each round of treatment, and how to also be realistic. I don't know how to anticipate or handle the random bursts of hormone side effects that appear at the most unexpected times.

That said, I do know God is the details. He's in the chance meeting of a woman who is nearly eight months pregnant with her second baby who also worked with my same fertility doctors for both her girls. He's in the hug from my husband when I feel sad about the label "the couple with no kids". He's in the encouraging texts from my mom and sisters when I'm nervous about giving myself a shot. He's in the unquestionable joy I feel for other women who are having babies of their own. He's in the love of friends who listen without judgment as I talk through my fears and concerns. Even in hard times, God is there.

I know things will work out and when a baby comes, the struggle to get that sweet spirit here will be replaced by perfect joy. Here's hoping that it's sooner rather than later.

Love Warrior

Love WarriorLove Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started this book because on the same day, Brene Brown, author of the amazing "The Gifts of Imperfection", and my good friend, Anna, posted that they were reading and loving Melton's latest book. Since I implicitly trust their taste and their ideas, I was in - no questions asked. I downloaded "Love Warrior" on Audible, and I was off.

I maybe should have asked some questions. I had no idea that Melton was a recovering bulimic and alcoholic. I didn't know that she would spend a large portion of the book grappling with her husband's pornography addiction and infidelity. Basically, I didn't know how raw this book would be, and on fertility hormones, sad things can push me to more extreme emotions.

That said, I am not sorry that I read "Love Warrior" - I really appreciate Melton's candor and her overwhelming desire to tell her story without glossing over the hard things. I think we do ourselves a disservice for not telling our "whole" story. So often, we talk about the success we have after a "struggle" - never detailing why we struggled or what we struggled with. This makes us feel alone when things are hard, and Melton and so many others constantly remind us that our struggles are part of life's beauty. There is no shame in needing to relearn how to love ourselves and others. It's the disconnect between the front we present or "representative" (as Melton calls it) that we send in place of our true selves, that gets in the way of fully experiencing life and fully sharing who we are. We can't love fully if we don't share fully - if we don't put ourselves on the line and stop apologizing for our feelings, our mistakes, and our successes.

I can't say that this is a book for everyone. Melton's explicit detail might be too much for some, but I would recommend it overall. If you enjoyed Cheryl Strayed's "Wild", Melton is a good writer for you. If you thought Elizabeth Gilbert in any of her books was self-indulgent or over the top, don't start here. Either way, happy reading and happy fall--

The Gifts of Imperfection

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You AreThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started this book ages ago and told everyone I knew about it. I even gifted the book a handful of times because I could not get Brene's voice out of my head. I love that she encourages more authentic and whole living in such a real and natural way. Part of me instinctively reaches for a a justification for why I didn't finish the book for over a year, but Brene would tell you that you shouldn't justify your behavior - rather you should own your own story and not be apologetic for being who you are. I know that I don't need permission to be who I am, but sometimes it's good to be reminded. Happy reading and happy living--

Ps. If you haven't watched Brene's TED talk on vulnerability, I would suggest fitting it in sometime this week. It's a game changer - no question about it.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The last book that I can remember reading after I saw the movie was the first Harry Potter in 2001 - that's how rarely I don't read the book first, even if it means I can see the movie in theaters. Honestly, I wouldn't ever have picked up this book, except so many people recommended it. And they were right. Who knew that something that involves space travel could hold my attention?! It doesn't hurt that I could imagine Matt Damon the whole way through since so much of the story is focused on Mark Watney. Miracle of miracles, I think Seth would actually like this book. It may be his one book of 2016. Opposites do attract sometimes. :)

Happy reading--

Big Magic

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I talk to people about Liz Gilbert, they have very strong, visceral reactions. People loved or hated "Eat, Pray, Love" - I was a hater who became a lover. People who love Gilbert feel inspired and liberated by her self-expression, her unapologetic dedication to pursuing her passions, and her unwillingness to settle. People who hate Gilbert find her self-indulgent and unrealistic. When I stopped seeing Gilbert as someone who was giving advice and rather as someone who just invited me along her "Eat, Pray, Love" adventure, I found truth in her experience much the same way that I found truth in Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" or Jeanette Wall's "The Glass Castle". All that to say that people who love Gilbert will like this book, but be mildly disappointed because she spends so much time actually giving advice rather than staying focused on her own anecdotal experiences and lessons with creativity. People who hate Gilbert will still find her self-indulgent, but she gets to be - it's her book, you bought it, you need to stop being surprised that she writes about her own whims and desires (too harsh?).

As for me, I was less enthralled with this book, but I still love Gilbert's honesty and I love her premise about pursuing the life you want to live without fear. So many of us wait for life to happen instead of going out and creating opportunities to be who we've always wanted to be. I can always use good reminders to be my best self, especially on the eve of a new school year.

Happy reading~