More Myself

Let’s go back to 2001 when the album songs in A minor came out. I remember sitting in the backyard of a friend’s house. There were about ten of us sitting around. I don’t recall if it was late spring or early summer, but it was chilly. I was talking with a friend of a friend about cd’s we had purchased recently. I was that person that looked forward to what new cd I could buy each Tuesday. For whatever reason I had bypassed buying songs in A minor that week. This friend of a friend could not stop raving about it. Guess who headed to Target soon after to pick it up? The whole cd was just as good as her first single, Fallin’. I recently grabbed the cd and have been listening to it in my car. Her voice is just as smooth now as it was back then.

I have bought almost every cd of hers since songs in A minor was released. Those albums I do not own on cd I have certainly listened to now via Spotify or Apple Music. There was no question of purchasing her book, More Myself. Reading her book was like watching VH1’s Behind the Music or watching the extras on your favorite movie- only better- the book is always better. I believe that most celebrities understand that privacy is not the same for them as it is for “normal” people. I believe that they have a right to not share parts of their life with the rest of the world if they do not want to. I am so glad Alicia decided to write this book. It provided insight into the music she has created. It shows how hard she works. Her positive energy flows through the pages of this book just as it does on her Instagram page. The sense of calm that radiates from her voice when you listen to her sing live ran through my veins. I connect with her wanting to grow and improve. On page 254 Alicia says “I want to know who I am and accept ever part of that identity. I am frightened and I am fearless. I am weak and a warrior. I am uncertain and I am confident. And by learning to embrace the paradox in all of it, I am more myself.” How powerful.

I hope that someday I can be present at one of her concerts. I think tears of joy would flow from soul.

Two Weeks into Lent

We are exactly two weeks into Lent. It feels great to say I have been away from Facebook and Instagram for that length of time. To be honest, I quickly went on tonight to check in with my bookclub to see if we are still planning on meeting next week, and I will have to check in periodically over the next few days to see what the plan is. However, I have not gone on to scroll through either of the social platforms. It feels amazing! So amazing, that at this point, I may give up one of them. Now, who is to say that I will still feel that way when this is all said and done, but two weeks in, I just may! Or at least, I will scale down who I follow. Time will tell.

What have these past two weeks taught me? Tonight, my oldest out of nowhere said “mom, I am glad you gave up Facebook, I feel like you were on it too much”. Yes, Stella, I probably was on it too much. I am not proud of it. I could have been on it much more, or much less. Now, what she doesn’t realize though, is that everything is on my phone so I am not always on social media. Text communication about friend get togethers, music that she loves to listen to, email correspondence about her extracurricular activities, and shopping for things we actually need all take place on this time consuming device. The phone is with me and is a part of me. That is the way of the world. I can be better though. We all can be, right?

What have I done with this extra time? I have gotten back on board with some much needed self improvement. I have felt like I had fallen off of the train with my healthier lifestyle. It had only been a few weeks, but I was not happy to feel and see the results start to diminish. I had a friend ask me what my “why” was. What is the “why” behind my weight goals. I knew a little bit about my why, but I had A) lost site of it and B) had to dig a little deeper to provide me with some much needed motivation. I think that discussion is for another post as I am still processing through that why.

A friend at work introduced me to the YouVersion Bible app. It appeared I had downloaded the app about three years ago, so I guess she re-introduced me to it. My morning routine has welcomed some new found Bible studies and has brought a college friend back into my circle. I would say a triple win so far! I have ebbed and flowed through starting my morning with some spiritual words and I am not quite certain why it is easy to drift away from this routine as it does bring me a sense of calm. I have brought back my journal too. There is something therapeutic about writing for me. There are a few topics that I have declared off limits for this blog. I need to remind myself that a journal and a pen are just as good.

I have finished two phenomenal books in the past couple of weeks too. Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano and Daughter of Molokai by Alan Brennert. This is not a sales pitch by any means, but if you love to read and you love to get new books in the mail I highly suggest subscribing to Book of the Month. Maybe with leaving Facebook and Instagram I will find enough time to catch up on my pile of books. They all sound so good, it is hard to make a decision each month. Daughter of Molokai was not part of the Book of the Month subscription. I read Molokai by the same author years ago. It by far is my favorite book. I have not been to that particular Hawaiian island, but reading it brought me back to Maui and the heart warming feelings it brought to my senses while I was there. I have read a lot of good books by authors that bring great detail to their writing. Those authors make you feel like you know the characters. They make you feel like you sitting there next to them. This author exceeds all of my expectations with his level of detail. I lent Molokai to someone once and didn’t get it back. I ran across it at a 2nd hand store and bought it again. Honolulu is another book by Alan. Again, I lent this out and never got it back. At some point I will want to purchase it again. It was that good. Daughter of Molokai is a sequel to Molokai. You don’t have to read them in order, but I would recommend it. Alan makes learning about history fun again for me. If you have a fear of flying or are taking a trip soon I would suggest not reading Dear Edward. I didn’t know what to expect out of Ann’s story, but it brought a sense of warmth to my heart after a tragic situation occurred. I couldn’t help but feel for Edward and is family. They all struggled in their own way, yet being family they made it through together. Life is not perfect, however we have to work together.

I am excited to see what else come from the next few weeks of peace.

The Year 2019

Everyone has been reflecting over the past few days as 2019 came to an end. I have too in my head and have not known where to start. I even felt at one point, why write about it? My answer? Write about it for me. Write about it for those that will read it. Write about it to document your past. Talk about it, just in case it helps someone else. So here I am and it’s January 1, 2020.

Born in 1982, I have now lived in 5 different decades, 2 centuries and 2 millenniums. I am not certain if I would have thought that deeply about it had it not been floating around Facebook and Instagram. Goodness gracious. I feel like I have seen a lot, however, my grandfather-in-law passed away last week at the age of 92. Think about what he saw! I graduated high school almost 20 years ago. *almost hyperventilating* It doesn’t feel like that as I remember it so clearly. My best friends are still from that time in my life or shortly after. Maybe that helps with that feeling.

Since getting married in 2011 life has had it’s ups and downs. Marriage is not easy. Moving to a new town was not what it was cracked up to be. Being a mom is difficult. Throw those 3 things into a 10 month span, it was a rocky ride. A rocky ride that didn’t settle down. Until 2019 that is.

What happened in 2019? Let me back up a ways. I had a doctor tell me late in 2017 that I was normal. The overwhelming feelings I was having was normal. Nothing was wrong with me. She prescribed me some medication, yet didn’t think I needed it. She was right. I tried it. It made me feel tired and I quickly tucked it away knowing it was not right for me. She referred me to a counselor. This counselor was amazing. She too, said that what I had experienced was normal, that the rocky road I had endeavored would have caused a lot of people to feel the way I was. Sad, overwhelmed, exhausted, feeling heavy, and not knowing what else I could do. I felt alone in this town. I saw her many times and it helped me become aware. This awareness taught me that I was not alone. I had to go with my gut and take time for myself. I had to put distance between me and some people in my life. Without going into too many more details, details that I promised I would not share, I had to make some decisions. I had to speak my mind in a calm and direct manner and make some decisions. 2018 was a long year. A long year of reading books by Rachel Hollis and Jessica Turner. A year of discovering the Enneagram. It was the start to realizing for myself that I am ok to be me. I am ok to know what I am. I am ok to know that I am normal. I am ok to know that I am not asking too much.

2019 happened. Right at the beginning lightbulbs were turned on in our home. It was like the universe shifted. We, or I, but really, we, waited out the storm. I was blessed to attend two courses through my work on leadership. Again, my eyes were opened. I was not alone. There were tools to help me and others through our troubles. We just have to be open to them. We have to be open to change. Not everyone is and that is ok too, but, some changes have to be made to remain healthy. Thanks to Brene Brown, thanks again to Jessica Turner and to Elizabeth Gilbert, I was brought back to life. These authors speak very powerful words!

Now, don’t get me wrong. 2019 still had its downs. It was not peachy keen all the time. However, with hard conversations, keeping an open mind, acknowledging people’s differences, and because of the hard work I put into studying myself, it was less overwhelming. We are still climbing this newer steep hill, or at least, in my mind we still are.

Towards the end of 2019 I took a new job. One that caters to my strengths. I am excited to test how this works out for me in 2020. Now, if someone reads this from my new place of employment, they may have caught the word “test”. I am not going anywhere. Testing my strengths at this job has already proven how it lifts me up. Focusing on my strengths has worked for me. I am not fighting a part of my life like I was. I can’t wait to dive more into this topic and share what I learn. I am fascinated with how others work. How do we help others find their light? I ponder what the world would be like if we all realized how to be our best self, how to acknowledge our wrong doings and lift each other up.

I welcome the new year and all that it will bring. The good and the bad.

2019 Book List

Here I will list the books that I read in 2019. Most of them I will provide a link to my book review. Beware, if you read the review, it may give away what happens in the book. Read with caution *smile*

Three Wishes, Liane Moriarty

Coffee Pines & Designs Book Review Here

Still Alice, Lisa Genova

Coffee Pines & Designs book review here

Of Mess and Moxie, Jen Hatmaker

Coffee Pines & Designs has many posts referencing this book.

Friendly Deceit, L.V. Hope

Coffee Pines & Designs book review here

The Fringe Hours, Jessica N. Turner

Coffee Pines & Designs book review here

Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert

Coffee Pines & Designs book reviews:

Big Magic and Encouragement

Big Magic and Enchantment

Big Magic and Permission

Big Magic and Persistence

Big Magic and Trust

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Review here

The House Pinterest Built by Diane Keaton

Review here

The Bridal Quartet by Nora Roberts

Review here

Educated by Tara Westover

Review here

Still in the Game by Devon Still

Review here

From Scratch by Tembi Locke

Review here

Flow Grip Still by Kennedy Ryan

Review here

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Review here

Soul Series by Kennedy Ryan

Review here

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hildebrand

Hoops Series by Kennedy Ryan

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

Review here

Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski

Review here

The King Maker and The Rebel King by Kennedy Ryan

Review here

Winter in Paradise and What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hikderbrand

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Curiosity Leads To More Books

We have all heard about the dog that gets distracted by a squirrel. Or someone gets lost down a rabbit trail. Well, I get distracted by shiny objects. Or, maybe I can call it being curious. I took the Gallup Strengths Finder test this summer. Input and intellection were two of my top five strengths. Both talk about reading to become more knowledgeable about subjects so I can relate (another top five strength) to others. That would explain how I read two totally random books this year. I started them this summer and finished them both just recently. Kennedy Ryan’s writing encouraged me to read White Fragility and Come As You Are.

I have always been interested in other cultures. Our heritage, our race and our upbringing helps shape us. Whether we embrace it or shy away from it. Often times, Kennedy has her characters intertwined in interracial relationships. I am a Scandinavian woman living in the Midwest. I grew up listening to gangsta rap and watching Boyz n the Hood. I am far from the world 2Pac lived in. So very far away. I came across White Fragility by Robin Diangelo as I tried to find a book that discussed living as a minority. I listened to the audiobook version. It changed the way I tried to prep myself to explain race to my girls. I thought I was going to teach them that they should treat others all the same. I realize I was not preparing myself to say the right words though. They need to acknowledge the differences we all bring to this world. We are all unique. We have our ancestors. We have all struggled in some way or another. We may have different skin colors, speak different languages and maybe have a different God. What we all deserve is love, kindness and respect. That is what I have always prepared myself to say to my kiddos. This book helped me come up with the right words. This book made me feel shame. It made me feel sad and angry. It was not an easy read, however, I hope that it opened up my eyes and my heart. I hope that it helps form me into the loving human God wants me to be.

Come As You Are. Far from any book I have read before. I tell you though, I plan on providing this book to my girls when they near adulthood. It’s “far too much” for a teenage girl to read, but I wish I would have known what a “normal” woman’s sexual health is like. There is no normal. That is the thing. I read about Kennedy Ryan’s strong women characters with sexual confidence and desire. Far from this girl right here. I am not like those girls. I am hardly a rated R version *sigh* all I am going to say is I highly suggest this book. For the hubby’s out there, not a bad one to read to gain some perspective.

To wrap this up, I am amazed at where by brain wonders these days. I am amazed that I go to read a mindless romance novel, which I am so thankful for, and I turn the page wondering what is the best book to educate me on random topics.

Thank you for the many talented authors out there. Ryan’s latest work, The King Maker, is another great piece of art.

Thai Carrot Soup

Last weekend I started to use up the many pounds of carrots we were blessed to have out of our garden. Many things did not grow well, or a critter got to them, however, the carrots were plentiful. I could not decide which soup to try first, so of course what did I do? Have a small bowl of both. By far the Creamy Thai Carrot Soup with Basil was the winner for me. This came from the Minimalist Baker. The bottom soup was a Roasted Carrot Soup. It tasted awfully close to the Slow Roasted Tomato Soup I make from Gwyneth Paltrow which has remained one of my absolute favorite recipes from her. Please enjoy the unique taste from the Minimalist Baker.

Knoephla Soup

Knoephla (pronounced neh-fla) soup is a recipe I grew up on. My mom can whip it up without a recipe. In fact, When I asked her for a recipe years ago, she could not even give me one. She just throws random amounts of ingredients into a pot. Once I tried to write it down as she made it. Then I found I could not make the dumplings from scratch like she does. It is truly an art, and store bought dumplings are just not the same. It is quite disappointing when I can not carry on a tradition like this. This being said, I can mimic the scent of the butter cooking the onions, carrots and celery. Win for me!

I was excited to see Molly Yeh put her Knoephla Soup recipe in her cookbook, Molly on the Range. The ingredients are slightly different than the one my mom makes. I was excited to put her recipe to the test. I would say it passed. It is almost as good as my mom’s. Molly just can’t duplicate the love my mom puts into hers. *smile*

Soul Series Book Reviews

What would summer be without a no-nonsense romantic beach read? Or 3? Or 6? Kennedy Ryan’s Grip Series was followed by the Soul Series. Amazon offers these books for free on their Kindle App. Kennedy Ryan traps you into Rhyson and Kai’s characters with such visual detail. It is difficult to escape their world to go back to your own reality. You may as well take a couple of days off of work, or block a weekend and leap into their soundtrack complete with lust, life lessons and love.

Soul Soundtrack

Ghost- Ella Henderson

Somewhere Only We Know- Keane

Lost Stars- Adam Levine

Crash Into Me- Dave Matthews and

V.3005- Childish Gambino

See You Again- Wiz Khalifa

Adventure of a Lifetime- Coldplay

Fly Before You Fall- Cynthia Erivo

Mistakes- Andra Day

Believe- Mumford and Sons

It Will Rain- Bruno Mars

Half Crazy- Musiq Soulchild

Piece by Piece- Kelly Clarkson

Girl on Fire- Alice Keys

Lay Me Down- Sam Smith

Hymn for the Weekend- Coldplay

Our Love Will Survive- Wild Belle

Happy Birthday- Kygo

Call Me When You Get This- Corrine Bailey Rae

Stitches- Shawn Mendes

Find this playlist on Spotify.

Daisy Jones and the Six Book Review

Bookclubs galore! Everyone and their mama has a bookclub these days. Reese Witherspoon’s Bookclub listed Daisy Jones and the Six as one of their books. What a wonderful and unique pick on their end. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a phenomenal writer who took a fun approach to her writing style for this book. It was as if the main character interviewed band members from the fictional band, Daisy Jones and The Six, to create a biography of their music journey in the 1970’s. I loved the surprise at the end which lead the reader to find out who was conducting the interviews. I long for a band to put music to the song lyrics and create a true soundtrack to the novel. Until then, enjoy the playlist below which can be found on Spotify.

Poison and Wine- The Civil Wars

Silver Springs- Fleetwood Mac

Shake it Out- Florence and the Machine

American Girl- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Holy Water- Jim and Sam

Because the Night- Patti Smith

Sweet Creature- Harry Styles

Our House- Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young

Emmylou- First Aid Kit

Paid-Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Flow Grip Still Book Reviews

6th grade? 7th grade? Warren G playing on my stereo. My dad sticks his head in my room and says “don’t let your mom hear you listening to this stuff”. He smirks and closes my door. Goodie Two Shoes. Those words could describe me. Yet, gangsta rap was my thing. Sadly I can not recall if Warren G was my first rap cd. Bone Thugs n Harmony maybe? 2 Pac posters lined my bedroom walls in high school. Many hours were spent at Musicland, the music store at the mall. Cd singles were bought and if I couldn’t afford the cd I would buy the cassette tape. This was during a time that kids were not “carded” for cd’s that had a Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics label on it. The Source and XXL magazines provided me with more “posters” to tape to my walls. I was devistated when 2 Pac died.

Thanks to the podcast, Sorta Awesome with Meg Tietz, episode 203, I was introduced to the writing of Kennedy Ryan. Meg and Anna Hithersay discussed Kennedy’s trilogy Flow, Grip and Still (free on amazon Kindle). An interracial love story between Grip and Bristol. Grip is a brilliantly smart African American rapper who grew up in Compton and Bristol is the over privileged and hard working white girl from NYC. She fights the electric pull she has with him, not because of his race, but because he is her brother’s best friend. Eventually love wins and they can not deny their affection any longer. The story ebbs and flows through their intoxicating connection and the heart wrenching doubts that come from their loved ones and fans. The third book brings deeper levels of emotion as they prepare to grow their family with the addition of children.

Long gone are the days southern Cali was the place for me. The daydreams floated away decades ago where 2 Pac from Poetic Justice was meant for me, not Janet Jackson. This book brought smiles to my face. Just a white girl surrounded by her posters of 1990’s rap moguls. To quote Lin-Manuel Miranda, “love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside”.

Grip Flow and Still soundtrack

Fallin’ Alicia Keys

California Love, 2 Pac

Juicy- The Notorious B.I.G.

U.N.I.T.Y.- Queen Latifah

Nobody- Keith Sweat

I Belong To You- Lenny Kravitz

Live Your Life- T.I. & Rihanna

You Don’t Own Me- Grace & G Eazy

Love on the Brain- Rihanna

So in Love- Jill Scott & Anthony Hamilton

At My Best- Machine Gun Kelly

Until the End of Time- 2 Pac

Tell me What We’re Gonna Do Now- Joss Stone & Common

Pretty Bird- Jhene Akko, Common

Give Me Love- Ed Sheehan

Thug Luv- Bone Thugs N Harmony & 2 Pac

Into You- Fabolous & Tamia

Adore- Prince

Dear Mama- 2 Pac

SupaStar- Floetry & Common

Runnin’- Naughty Boy & Beyoncé

Feeling Good- Nina Simone

You Are the Best Thing- Ray LaMontagne

Let’s Hurt Tonight- OneRepublic

My Block- 2 Pac

*you can find on my Spotify