Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Usual Rules

The Usual RulesThe Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really, really like this book. I like it so much in fact that after reading my sister's copy seven or eight years ago, I thought about it enough to buy it for myself and reread it. It's not perfect, but I am so impressed by Maynard's ability to tell an authentic story without dipping into the overly-dramatic or overly-simplified. 9/11 is such a hard topic to use as a backdrop for a story, but Maynard tells a poignant coming-of-age story about a girl named Wendy who loses her mom in the towers. What I love most about this book is the description of Wendy's mother and step-father's relationship. Maybe it's because I love love, I love Seth, and I love reading about people's little details. This isn't a casual read because the topic is so heavy, but it's a worthwhile read. Think about it. You might really enjoy it.

Happy reading!

ps. I shouldn't be so excited, but I actually read three books in January. That's a big improvement for me. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Goodnight June

Goodnight JuneGoodnight June by Sarah Jio
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh man - I wanted to love this book. It was a gift from a dear friend who has great taste in books. She hadn't read it though and bought it because the book has a fantastic premise. It is a story that explains how the beloved children's classic "Good Night Moon" came to be - it's a story about books, authors, and friends. It has a great setting - I couldn't love Seattle more. It has letters - I love stories that have letters. BUT - it is so predictable and painfully formulaic. There are glimpses of greatness, but it felt too much like a Hallmark movie...which is a great fit for some, but for me, life is too short to read books like this.

Too harsh? :/

Happy reading!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

There, I said it.

I used to scoff at New Year's goals and resolutions. I even brought treats to work and called them resolution breakers. It seemed flimsy - the idea of setting a goal just because a date rolled around. I wanted a real reason to make a change. And while I still maintain that setting a goal just to set a goal isn't a great idea, I have become a huge believer in adopting new habits, new goals, or whatever you want to call them.

Last year, I decided to journal every night. I was tired of entries that started with, "Wow, it's been forever since I..." or entries that included "Really wish I wrote more." If you don't like something, change it. So I did. I wrote every day of 2014 with the exception of half a dozen or so days. Clearly this meant something to me because I've mentioned the journaling before, but it along with a few other things were game changers - I did something I had never done before which only made me more motivated for what I wanted to accomplish in 2015.

2015's habits/goals are not anything fancy. In fact, they are subtle enough that no one except myself will notice that they are in place. Four weeks into the year though, I can tell you they are making a difference...proving again to myself that I can do things if I set my mind to it. With no fanfare, they are--

  • Floss and anti-aging lotion daily (How am I 31 and still avoiding flossing? I know better. And I already am going to have more wrinkles than my peers who married ten years sooner than I least I can aspire to younger looking skin down the road.)
  • One chapter a day (I always say I love to read, and then I hardly read)
  • One chapter, half a devotional, or one talk a day (I need to do something spiritually focused more regularly)
  • Continue journaling daily. 
  • Exercise three times per week, even if it's as simple as walking. (So far this and reading are the highlight.
Like I said, nothing dramatic, but they work for me. The new semester that started this past week also is a fresh start of sorts, so I've added a few things.
  • 15 minutes a day of organizing papers, files, etc. at work (Makes all the difference for sanity and making my room look as organized inside the cabinets as it does on the outside.)
  • Weaning off soda...again. (I did it last year for a few months along with a few other times. This time I'm going for moderation - just not keeping it in the house and not having it daily.)
  • Reaching out to more friends and making actual plans (No more of this - "Yes, we should do something soon." I am actually making plans and loving catching up with friends and people I haven't seen in ages.)
It feels silly to document all this, but there it is. My simple life in a nutshell. It's not over dramatic or flashy, but it's a wonderful life and I'm going to do all I can to make it even better.

Happy 2015!

Monday, January 19, 2015


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't know what to say about Wild, but I am so glad to have finally read it. Cheryl Strayed is a gifted writer, and if nothing else, the book is worth reading just for how well she describes her experiences and feelings. But Wild is more than that - it's honest to the point of being uncomfortable, and some people hate this book because it seems on so many levels that Strayed caused many of the problems that led to her misery and then she bemoans her condition. But I think that's just life in a nutshell and part of the growing experience that so many of us go through, especially in our twenties. While most of us don't go so far as heroin and cheating on a spouse, we still make less-than-perfect decisions and then, over and over again, are surprised at the pain and frustration that follows.

While Strayed's decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail was ill-informed, naive, and reckless, I admire it so much. I love when people realize they cannot continue the path they are on and make a change. Again - Strayed's decision on so many levels was not a good one, but I understand that drive and yearning to stop waiting to live the life you've always wanted. When I reached that similar conclusion that Strayed did at an age not much older than she was, I didn't strap a hefty pack on and hike, but I did take voice lessons, I went back to teaching, I lost weight, and I stopped worrying about others' expectations about me and my life. It was the most liberating experience and has continued to push me towards being the person I always wanted to be. Strayed's hike didn't change all the hard things she had faced before she began, but it gave her the perspective she needed to face life in a healthier, more optimistic way. Reading her story reminded me that I cannot just wait for life to give me the things that I want. Instead I have to purposefully work towards those things, one step at a time.

Happy reading!