Coffee and a Good Read- 2018

I am an avid reader. Here I will list the books I read during this year. I will provide a few words to describe my feelings of the stories told without giving away the book.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Unforgettable love. Inter-racial struggle. Ahead of the times. A must read.

https://www.target.com/p/calling-me-home-target-club-pick-jan-2014-paperback-signed-edition-by-julie-kibler/-/A-14850406?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=bing_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Entertainment%2BShopping&adgroup=SC_Entertainment&LID=700000001230728pbs&network=s&device=m&querystring=calling%20me%20home%20book&gclid=[*GCLID*]&gclsrc=ds

Darker by E.L James

This is the 2nd book written through the eyes of Mr. Grey. Enlightening. Additional details. Further perspective.

https://www.target.com/p/darker-fifty-shades-darker-as-told-by-christian-paperback-e-l-james/-/A-53057835?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=bing_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Entertainment%2BShopping&adgroup=SC_Entertainment&LID=700000001230728pbs&network=s&device=m&querystring=darker%20book&gclid=[*GCLID*]&gclsrc=ds

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffen

Something Blue by Emily Giffen

One does not have to read both books and it does not matter which one is read first.

Lovable characters. Chic Lit at its best. Why did it take me so long to read her books?

https://www.target.com/p/something-borrowed-reprint-paperback-by-emily-giffin/-/A-11338498#lnk=sametab

https://www.target.com/p/something-blue-reprint-paperback-by-emily-giffin/-/A-13305904#lnk=sametab

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

Held my breath. Not your typical Nicholas Sparks book. Suspenseful love. Root for the underdog.

https://www.target.com/p/see-me-hardcover-by-nicholas-sparks/-/A-49168470#lnk=sametab

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

Artistic writing. Hopeful. Why do his books not get old?

https://www.target.com/p/two-by-two-paperback-nicholas-sparks/-/A-53420456#lnk=sametab

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

This is the third book in the series. Me Before You was a tear jerker. After You was good but Still Me made me feel whole again. A great follow up to the second one as I was left feeling a bit disappointed.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This was my suggestion for the book club I was in. It is one of Oprah’s 2018 Book Club selection, but also one I kept seeing float across the Instagram account for Book of the Month. It had me at page 5 when one of the main characters references Love Jones, a movie I had on VHS back in the day. It has a soundtrack that I still frequently listen to. It is an emotional and intense read. I longed for it to be longer with more details of the love triangle that it is. Silver Sparrow did an excellent job with this piece of work.

Girl, Wash Your Faceby Rachel Hollis

Full book review here

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

Brief book review here.

Party Girl by Rachel Hollis

Read review here

Sweet Girl and Smart Girl by Rachel Hollis.

Here explains my love for these books.

Every Day by David Levithan

Book review here.

Another Day by David Levithan

My thoughts on the book are found here.

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz

Thoughts here on my first Enneagram experience.

Stretched Too Thin by Jessica Turner

See my thoughts here on this gem!

Silence, Broken Silence, Players Bumps and Cocktail Sausages, Silent Night by Natasha Preston

Equality & the Minority

There has been so much banter about equal rights lately. Well, for as long as I can remember, really. It’s amazing how it changes over the years, and it’s even more astonishing to me as I grow older. In the words of Rodney King “can’t we all just get along”? It’s true. It seems so simple. Why? Why can we not get along? God made us different but I have a hard time believing he wanted us to live in a world where there is so much hatred, negativity and disbelief. I don’t know the Bible well, but I know there are words in there that showcase God’s wishes for love, positivity and trust.

I listened to a talk this last week. It was between two men, both caucasian, that said they are at a point where they feel they are the minority and don’t dare say anything in fear of offending someone. Why should it be that way for them? As long as they are being kind to the people around them, what does it matter? With that being said though, why has it been that way for women in the past? Or African-Americans? Or any race or minority for that fact? Are we all not a minority at some point; depending on our location? Yes, it appears that Caucasian men have had it “easy” in years past, where their words mattered most. That their words were the way of the world. Thank goodness that is changing. I know the concept of “we are all created equal” could be up for debate. Some people are born with certain talents, some are born into certain family structures that cause life to be easier in some ways, some people work harder to move up in the world. So it easy to understand that maybe “we are not born equal”. I have to believe that God wants us all to be loved, respected and supported equally in a positive light.

I grew up with a family that supported me, I surround myself with strong women who work hard to make a positive difference in our world, I get to mold my children to be strong thinkers who help lift their friends up and showcase their passions.

I pray that we continue to move to equality. I pray that we love one another for our differences. I pray that we support each other’s talents. I pray that we acknowledge other’s weaknesses and encourage change for the better.

Friday Favorites: Stretched Too Thin

I have posted on Instagram and this blog many times already that I love this book, Stretched Too Thin. After listening to the audio version (link) once I had to read the paper copy. Thank you again, Jessica Turner, for allowing me to test drive this book for you. Here are my top 10 favorite quotes from the book. Now, there were plenty more, but these one caught me. My pen and highlighter got a workout!

1). “I love my family. I do great work. I’m thriving”. Page 13

2). “This ‘mental load’ that a person carries is defined by work-life balance coach Marie Levey-Pabst as the ‘largely invisible work of remembering and noticing.’ Because this load is carried inside our heads and isn’t visible in the same way going to an office is, we often don’t recognize it as real work. We lump it in as ‘what moms do,’ mentally reducing its significance and burden.” Page 21

3). “Women process life more like a plate of pasta. If you look at a plate of spaghetti, you notice that there are lots of individual noodles that all touch one another. If you attempt to follow one noodle around the plate, you would intersect a lot of other noodles, and you might even seamlessly switch to another noodle.” Page 47

4). “Do not let your emotions undermine your self-worth and calling.” Page 50

5). “Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real thing, particularly thanks to social media.” Page 57

6). “Don’t ‘Should’ all over yourself.” Page 60

7). “A lie many working moms tell themselves is that self-care is selfish.” Page 68

8). “Counseling is far beyond fixing people’s problems; it’s opening up people’s opportunities.” Page 74

9). “Resentment is anger that’s turned inward.” Page 131

10). “Brene teaches that saying yes inspires trust with our kids.” Page 156

Now, if you are a mom, feeling too exhausted to chase your passions and dreams (small or big) put down what you are doing and get this book. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Friday Favorites: Stretched Too Thin

I have posted on Instagram and this blog many times already that I love this book, Stretched Too Thin. After listening to the audio version (link) once I had to read the paper copy. Thank you again, Jessica Turner, for allowing me to test drive this book for you. Here are my top 10 favorite quotes from the book. Now, there were plenty more, but these one caught me. My pen and highlighter got a workout!

1). “I love my family. I do great work. I’m thriving”. Page 13

2). “This ‘mental load’ that a person carries is defined by work-life balance coach Marie Levey-Pabst as the ‘largely invisible work of remembering and noticing.’ Because this load is carried inside our heads and isn’t visible in the same way going to an office is, we often don’t recognize it as real work. We lump it in as ‘what moms do,’ mentally reducing its significance and burden.” Page 21

3). “Women process life more like a plate of pasta. If you look at a plate of spaghetti, you notice that there are lots of individual noodles that all touch one another. If you attempt to follow one noodle around the plate, you would intersect a lot of other noodles, and you might even seamlessly switch to another noodle.” Page 47

4). “Do not let your emotions undermine your self-worth and calling.” Page 50

5). “Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real thing, particularly thanks to social media.” Page 57

6). “Don’t ‘Should’ all over yourself.” Page 60

7). “A lie many working moms tell themselves is that self-care is selfish.” Page 68

8). “Counseling is far beyond fixing people’s problems; it’s opening up people’s opportunities.” Page 74

9). “Resentment is anger that’s turned inward.” Page 131

10). “Brene teaches that saying yes inspires trust with our kids.” Page 156

Now, if you are a mom, feeling too exhausted to chase your passions and dreams (small or big) put down what you are doing and get this book. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Friday Favorites: Podcasts

I am not certain why it took me so long to realize what a podcast is, but I am so thankful I finally did. It is weird how things come into our lives at the right time. I listen to one which references another, I listen to that one and it references another. So on and so on. There are brilliant women out there, and men I am sure *wink* The podcasts I have been drawn to are women lifting up women, moms talking about how normal all of these abnormal things are. I am not alone. These women are inspirational. They lift me up. They lift others up. They are artists, they are creators, they are authors and speakers. They leave me feeling like I want to do more. Not that I need to do more, but really encourage me to live life with passion and reach for fulfillment. I have women in my life, a mother, a sister, aunts, cousins, friends, these women are real, they are my physical soulmates, they are right here with me, but Rachel Hollis, Elyse Snipes, Jessica Honegger, Meg Tietz and Jen Hatmaker– they are there during the morning when I am getting ready for the day, they are with me in the car on my way to work and as I wind down for the night. I feed off of their dreams, their goals, their advice and make me yearn for more. Maybe they can do the same for you.

Rise Pocast with Rachel Hollis

Trailer Cast with Elyse Snipes

Going Scared with Jessica Honegger

Sorta Awesome with Meg Tietz

Rise Together with Rachel and Dave Hollis

For the Love Podcast with Jen Hatmaker

Morning Goals

I have always been a morning person. For the longest time I woke up at 5:30 to work out. Once I had Stella I woke up at 5:30 so I would be prepared for the day before she woke up. Emery was born and she was my 5:30 alarm! Heck, she was my 5:00 alarm for the longest time. Just within the last few months has she slept past 5:30 on a consistent basis. I thought to myself, maybe I should try working out again at 5:30. When I further evaluated my mornings I knew this was not possible without waking up someone in the house. I decided I needed to wake up at 5:00 to accomplish things I always wanted to do, but had yet tried to do.

For the last month I have woken up at 5:00 and have done the following 4 things consistently before leaving for work:

#1- Deep Breaths

I start by taking 30 deep breaths. My mind easily moves towards the list of things ahead of me for the day, I try to rope those anxious thoughts back to my deep breaths. This step is the hardest for me. I have tried off and on for years to meditate. I probably won’t master this task ever, but I would like to get better.

#2- Tibetan Rites

I move to my yoga mat in my dimly lit workout room. I complete the 5 Tibetan Rites. I first learned of these movements from the yoga instructor I had in Fargo, Andrea Paradise. Like meditation, I have done these “exercises” off and on. They seem to give my body an oomph of energy to get the day started. Supposedly, these 5 exercises are going to keep me young. *wink* I would like to find a good book to explain this theory more. I figure, if I don’t get exercise into my daily schedule, I at least moved my body for 10 minutes. With these movements I also complete a few yoga moves to stretch my body out of its tired and tight feeling- sun salutations, cat and cow and child’s pose.

#3- Prayer & Journal

This next step is the one I am most proud of. I grab my journal and I write prayers to God for 5-10 minutes. I tell him things I am thankful for from the previous day. I ask him to guide the people that surround me, to love them, to be with them during times of hardship. I take a minute to read a page out of one of my devotionals. This forces me to take God into my day in a way other than what I believe I need help with. He gives me something to focus on in his own way.

#4- H2O

I drink 4- 8 ounce cups of water before I leave the house. This is half of what my goal is each day to drink. I find once I get to work it is difficult to drink water.

I have completed these things each week day for the past 4 weeks. The weekends throw me off, but I do find myself yearning for them and come Sunday evening I look forward to waking up Monday morning to head to my space. I use my Bedtime alarm on my iPhone to alert me to go to bed so I get 8 hours of sleep and be awake by 5:00. I love the feeling of accomplishing goals. I hope this is a routine I can keep up with. Dark winter mornings are hard on me mentally, I hope this brings some light to my routine.

Happiness Project: August & The Enneagram

Contemplate the Heavens Gretchen Rubin said in her Happiness Project book. Read memoirs of catastrophes, keep a gratitude journal and imitate a spiritual master. Reading this chapter made me the least excited thus far on this Happiness Project journey. Early on in the month I heard a few podcasts that talked about the Enneagram test. I had never heard about it but all of a sudden I was hearing about it left and right. On a trip to the library I picked up The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz. I soon after opened up the latest Magnolia Journal where there was a brief article by the same author. I felt an electric pull to dive in. The book did a nice job explaining the background of the Enneagram. Christopher says “it reveals our path for reviving our true identity and helps us navigate the journey home to God”. And there it was, my connection to what Gretchen wanted me to do, maybe not exactly, but it was going to help me become closer to God and the Heavens. To live in the present in a more Godly way. I took a free Enneagram test online which explained my personality type as a 2- a helper, a giver. Through reading, it explained to me a few of the following points:

• I operate from the heart in love and kindness

• So much of what I do is for other people and lack self love

• I may “be what others think of me”

• Solitude will help me focus back on what my needs are

• It may be hard for me to ask for help, but once I do, I will become a better person, a healthier person

• “Twos learn to rest in the grace that they are loved for who they are, not for what they offer the rest of us”- page 211.

The last bullet item is what I have been working on for the past 9-12 months without even realizing this point. Wow! I am on the right path, well, according to Mr. Heuertz. Barnes and Noble just delivered the following two books:

Discovering Your Personality Type by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self Discovery by the same two authors

I am anxious to read and get their perspective. There are other books by them that I may purchase after I read these two. More to come on the blog I am certain *wink*

I didn’t read about a catastrophe but I did watch the movie War Room. This was a movie not about a catastrophe per say, but it was about a relationship that needed work otherwise the relationship probably would have bombed. Now, the acting is not great, but the message was what I needed at the moment. If you have ever seen the movie Fireproof you may understand the bad acting/great message feeling that I am referring to. If you are even a bit Christian, pick up the movie, I don’t think you will be sorry. It will help you lean in to God and your faith a little bit more.

It triggered me to pray more, and not just on my way to work, or when I feel the NEED for something, I have tried to sit down each morning for even a couple of minutes with my pen and paper and write out my prayers. Writing words have always helped me manage my thoughts and kept me on track. These prayers are for me, my family, my friends, my co-workers. These prayers are words of thanks to God for his help and reassurance. Gretchen Rubin, you are helping me in more ways that I ever imagined!

Stretched Too Thin

I have a couple of friends that I call my twins. This is how cool one of them is, she just got a tattoo of a stack of books with cup of coffee sitting on top! I literally want to drive hours to pick her up, take her to a tattoo shop and tell the artist, give me what she has! It turned out great!

She tags me on Instagram posts weekly with things she knows will speak to me. Recently she tagged me on a post from Jessica Turner. Jessica is launching the publication of her book, Stretched Too Thin. She was providing people with a chance to preview her book via the Christianaudio App. I prefer to read books rather than listen to them, especially books like this where I know I will want to highlight words and dog ear pages for reference. I was in for listening to it though, after all, it was free! Within the first chapter I was trying to figure out how to bookmark passages on the app. Within the first two chapters I knew I was going to need a physical copy, it was that good. Jessica is the one that narrates the book. As much as I was hesitant about listing to the book, it was like I was getting free therapy while driving in my car each day.

When I returned home last night after a full day of meetings and running the kids to Back to School Night, there was a physical copy of Stretched Too Thin sitting in my mailbox. What?!?! I guess part of the deal (that I missed) was that we would be receiving a paper copy!! This brings me joy. I finished the audio version last weekend. I have a stack of other books to begin reading, but I am rereading his gem with my highlighter out and pen in hand!

All Procrastination Is Just Fear

All procrastination is just fear.

Is this not the truth? How have I never really thought of procrastination like this before? I don’t recall what Rachel and Dave Hollis were talking about specifically when they said this, but it it was like a lightbulb went off above my head. I will tell you, listening to their Rise Together podcasts and her Rise podcasts turn on a lot of lightbulbs for me. For the last week I have thought of this quote when I reach for that unhealthy snack or putting off a workout. Come on Kirsten, you don’t need to put off sticking to a healthy lifestyle, you feel so much better when you eat smartly. Come on Kirsten, you feel so much stronger and happy if you sweat it out. There is always a fear of falling off the Healthy Train. It happens, over and over. Come on, Kirsten, don’t procrastinate any more! That is the conversation I have had with myself the last few weeks. I am finishing up three weeks of drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day. I have stuck to eating healthier than I have more recently. It’s a great feeling. An accomplishment. Take that procrastination; you are not worth the fear!

Happiness Review: Buy Some Happiness

Money is a tough subject for many. I am not a saver. I wish I was better. I am not horrible. I have learned a lot and have come a long way from the Express/GAP/The Limited credit card days back in college. I paid them off and closed them up a few years into college as I quickly realized that it was better that way. I will tell you though, those clothes made me happy. Good quality clothes make me happy. They last a long time. I had work pants (and still have one pair) that were 10 years old.

I am a firm believer that you can happiness…to an extent. One has to be relatively happy with life otherwise the bought happiness is going to be short lived.

Here are a few splurges that have made me happy in the past:

1. My old Honda. It was extremely reliable and I hardly had to pay for maintenance on it.

2. My Apple products. I have had two iPods and used them all of the time. It is just in the past 6 months that I do not use my most current one. My new iPhone now has enough storage to listen to so much of my music. It is more convenient. I will tell you, I am an iPhone girl, sorry other great products out there. iPhone just has it made with its simplicity and easy to use products.

3. Nickel and Suede earrings. The colors and comfort bring me joy. I have been wearing them for three years and can’t imagine the day they may go out of style. I continue to get compliments on them almost on a daily basis.

4. My book collection. Walking around Barnes and Noble makes me relaxed, excited about the stories I have access to and the learning ahead of me.

For the month of July I was extra cautious of where our money went. It was difficult at the end to see where it went as we had bought the majority of the clothes and supplies the kids needed for school, oh my, that adds up. I don’t know how families do it when they do not have the “hand me downs” we have been blessed with. I know we appreciate it and we pass along what is still in good condition onto others as well.

Gretchen Rubin laid out the month as the following:

Indulge in a modest splurge

Buy needful things

Spend out

Give something up

My modest splurge was one that I do 2-3 times a year. I stock up on Young Living Essential Oils that I use often. Deep Relief we realized works well on mosquito bites. We started to go through that one like crazy. It is one I leave in my purse at all times for my tension headaches. I finally was able to get Peace and Calming back into my hands and the Valor roller ball. I have never had Valor. Let me tell you, for the bit of anxious feeling I have each morning getting ready for the day, it has helped immensely.

As I took my weekly trips to Target for groceries and other needed items I steered clear of the woman’s clearance section. This helped me be mindful of only buying needed things and I would say that this was the “give something up item” she challenged me with too. It is too easy to see that yellow sale sticker and throw it in the cart. Now, I did not give that up for the girls. As seasons change I constantly comb through their section in preparation for the next year. I think I will continue to challenge myself to walk left instead of right when I enter into Target. This will help me bypass the cheap but stylish clothes they have merchandised to catch my eye.

She talked of spending out. This was basically telling us to not hold on to things for the “perfect” day. Use things, they will bring you joy, or else they just bring you clutter. I would say I am fairly good at this task anyways. Maybe not in regards to cute cards I find and hold onto until I need to send that special person a little note.

It was a good month. I continue to enjoy each month’s challenge! Check out the blog for other posts that talk about past month’s happiness challenges.