Friday, October 13, 2017

Thankful Thursday...on Friday - Figuring things out

As a part of active recovery, a gratitude list is paramount for me.
What I want to do here weekly is not just be thankful for the easy stuff (although that does have a place)...but I want to take the negative and spin it positive.

So, no negatives here.  
Only positive.

1.  our new church...the energy, the friendliness, the welcoming, the opportunities...

2.  my backyard - it's finally been cool enough to sit outside in the's a wonderful space.

3.  my husband - he can fix anything!  

4.  my husband again - he didn't even grumble when the washing machine in our new house leaked through the ceiling. Wowza!

5.  Fall Break - I think we should have one of these each week ;) 

6.  access to healthcare...and choices...I've got a little health issue and moving forward, I'll have decisions to make.  I'm just glad I get to make those decisions.

7.  the stairs in our new house - they may keep me from gaining 200 lbs. now that root beer has become my new nemesis.

8.  root beer and M&Ms - I've always turned to these two during times of stress, but these guys have made me realize that my dependence on them is not so different from my former dependence on alcohol.  We're currently discussing a truce and possibilities going forward.  The stairs have been invited to participate in the negotiations as well as my bathroom scale.

9.  being able to drive off campus of my job and truly leave town - I needed this so badly.

10.  the washing machine in my new house - through the leaking incident, I've learned to be more mindful of my house and its workings...and more careful and aware of how the insides of a house work together similar to the insides of a clock.

11.  my AA friends - I haven't been going to meetings - choir practice at my new church happens on Wednesday nights at the same time as Sobriety Sisters.  I am trying to find a meeting that I can attend at least once a week, but my sisters still keep in touch.

12.  choir - oh, how I've missed choir.  I really didn't realize how much until that first night of practice.  We sang an old spiritual called "Soonah," and literally, my eyes had tears in them.  I've been blessed by every practice and the one Sunday morning anthem I've been involved in so far.

13. my brain is truly beginning to feel ob/gyn told me about 6 months ago that it typically takes about 18 months for a recovering alcoholic's brain to truly recover...November will be my 18th month, and even though I still struggle, I have really been noticing a difference lately.  I'm more focused, more present, more aware, more ok, more lots of stuff that I haven't been in a long, long time.  

14.  this blog...I'm not here everyday...and I'm applying grace to myself for that.  It's ok.  I started this blog 7 years ago for myself.  When I look back at my posts, whether or not anyone else reads them, they bring me joy.  This space has become exactly what I intended it to be...mine.

This week's list could go on and on...and that should probably be the next item on the list...that I have so many things to be thankful for.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday - Seven Days of Us

Linking up with Wishful Endings today :)

Every week, I skim through the "Coming Soon" list at Barnes and Noble for the following week.  
I love looking at the covers and selecting finalists for my upcoming favorites.
Yes, I'm a book nerd.

If I find a cover that interests me, then I open it up and read the blurb...there are way too many books to read for me to waste one more second, so a book has to grab me...where I am in that moment.
And most of the time I can't even predict what that moment looks like.
It's up to the book really ;)

I force myself to stop at 1 choice.
That's it.

Without further adieu, here's my Can't Wait choice among the "Coming Soon" selections on Barnes and Noble for the week of October 16, 2017:

The Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Here's the synopsis from Barnes and Noble: 
(I've highlighted in red the parts that yell at me loud and clear that I must read this book!)

A warm, wry, sharply observed debut novel about what happens when a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the holidays...

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.
For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while her older sister, Olivia, deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems. 
Their father, Andrew, sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent. But his wife, Emma, is hiding a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.   
In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

Have you heard anything about this author or this particular title? 
What do you think?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Fire By Night by Teresa Messineo - TLC Book Review

The Fire By Night  by Teresa Messineo

Format? oversized paperback

Source? provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Why?  I love working with TLC, and I love historical fiction

Title? the title is taken from a verse in Exodus...just follow the light...I wasn't sure how the title fit until writing this review.  The light at the end of the tunnel...the light of hope...the light as a beacon...the Lord leading the Americans to find the prisoners.
Cover?  I had mixed feelings about the cover.  While there are planes in the sky, the nurse is nonchalantly biking down what almost looks like an asphalt sidewalk with a lunchpail in her hand.  The sky is I'm assuming the planes are dropping things...I'm not sure why she would just be calmly riding her bike.  I'm still pondering this.

What Now?  I want to know everything I can get my hands on about nurses in WWII who were not supposed to see combat but saw it anyway and then were sworn to secrecy after the war was over.
My mind has been blown.

Golden Lines

"War is the punishment for sin, Sister," she had said from memory, along with a hundred other pat answers.  Punishment for sin.  What colossal sin had some fool committed for this to be its outcome? (23)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had constructed the whole nightmarish labyrinth, never imagining for a moment that this wraith of a woman would be flitting around it in the dark, awaiting her own death in the morning; never imagining that a storage bunker they constructed would become the last bastion of freedom... (40)

I will not lose these six men, Jo vowed to herself, repeating aloud, "I will not lose them." (48)

And then we both joined the Army.  What were we thinking.  That it'd be fun? (73)

Not now, Kay pleaded with herself.  Stop remembering. Stop thinking. (93)

The baby kept crying, and the sound kept Kay alive.  It was as if he were screaming and crying and speaking out on her behalf, on behalf of them all... (103)

America was pulling out, dragged down by eight thousand bloodied soldiers pulling at her pant cuffs, slowing down her retreat. (141)

Maybe God was in the emptiness, in the cold and pain and despair.  Maybe finding Him there would be faith. Maybe even imagining He could be there was hope. (160)

"God bless you, Lieutenant McMahon.  Even if I should die, my love for you never will." (209)

Life must go on. (230)

We'll be together again, after all this time.  We will be strong again together - just as we had to learn to be strong apart. (291)

"...if the world of men ever tears itself apart again, it will take an army of nurses to put it back together." (294)


Jo and Kay.  An unlikely friendship in an unlikely environment.  
An enlisted sorority that became a fight for survival.  
A story that hasn't been heard but oh so desperately needs to be heard.
For 65 years their stories were stifled because no one must ever know of the horrors experienced by WWII nurses who saw just as much combat if not more than their fellow male soldiers.
Their lives were changed in ways they never could have guessed. 
They would never be the same again. 
This is their story...and gracious what a story.

What I Liked

Jo and Kay - two of the best female protagonist I've read in a long time.

The history...

Spring 1945, The Western Front
the HMS Newfoundland
propaganda leaflets dropped by the Germans
American POWs, men and women
Penicillin, the miracle drug
nurses performing surgical procedures in the field
the Geneva Convention
May 1942, Malinta Tunnel, Corregidor
The Rape of Nanking
Santo Tomas Internment Camp, Manila Philippines
Pearl Harbor
nurses education - learning to read German names for medicines and instruments
the Japanese and German soldiers
the numbers of troops and civilians killed and injured across countries
theaters of war
Gen. McArthur and The Forty-Fourth Tank Division, the First Cavalry
the GI Bill

The vividness of the description...I could see the blood splattering...the dirt flying...the shocking events happening...without any time to adjust and in the world these women kept their wits, I'll never know.  They are a testament to the spirit, strength, and survivorship of women.

The relationships...I don't have words for this depth...I can only imagine the kind of relationship formed when your lives are at can see the enemy coming...over and over again.

Suicide and PTSD awareness - when you finish The Fire by Night, if you've ever wondered why so many soldiers struggle when they return home, you won't wonder anymore.
"shell shock"
"battle fatigue"

Messineo weaves Jo and Kay's stories together separately...she also weaves their individual lives (the soldier and the woman) together separately.  I'm not sure I even have the words to describe how well Messineo does this.  I think this strategy is why Jo and Kay are so believable and likable...I walked away from The Fire by Night feeling as if I know these women...that their tragedies are mine via knowing if they were my grandmothers or another long lost connection. 

Aaron and David, the men
Admidst all the hate, the war, the tragedy, there was still good.

The importance of knowing the reality of war.  I think this is really an important point in our current time. Every generation away from history becomes more and more ready to carry our country's flag into war.  Do the people yelling and screaming for war even really understand what it is they are asking for?

I don't think so.

Jonesy - what a sweetheart

 Father Hook - his story made me cry.  

Messineo adds in just enough of Jo and Kay's "normal" life to hold things keep me see the hope in the future amidst all the pain and suffering of war.
I was also very thankful for the glimpse into Kay and Jo's lives after the war, both personal and still navigating the military as more truths are told.

Mrs. Greerson - thankful for precious souls like hers.

What I Didn't Like

The sexist behavior of many of the men in this story, and of the system itself.

The fact that this story has been hidden.  About midway through The Fire by Night, I stopped reading and started Googling, convinced that Messineo was over-dramatizing what had possibly happened to female nurses in WWII...I never heard about this in history class or even since...and I'm one of those geeks who loves to read and learn.  It didn't take me long to realize that Messineo wasn't dramatizing one bit. Not one bit.
Then I got mad.

Overall Recommendation

I want every American woman in the world to read The Fire by Night.  I'm appalled that there is so much of our history missing from everything we ever learn in school.  History can't die if we don't let it.

The Author - Teresa Messineo


Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, October 3rd: Girl Who Reads
Thursday, October 5th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Friday, October 6th: West Metro Mommy
Monday, October 9th: BookNAround
Tuesday, October 10th: Peppermint PhD
Wednesday, October 11th: Life By Kristen
Thursday, October 12th: Based on a True Story
Friday, October 13th: Literary Quicksand
Monday, October 16th: Into the Hall of Books
Tuesday, October 17th: Sara the Introvert
Wednesday, October 18th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, October 19th: Jathan & Heather

Sunday, October 8, 2017

49th Birthday, late edition - thanks, Nate.

I logged in today to change my "About Me" status here on the old blog...gotta change that 48 to 49...whoop whoop!

49 has been a pretty decent year.  
I've been sober for the entire 49th year, and while still working every day to hold onto that sobriety, I feel more and more confident as each day passes. 
One of the things I love about being a "middle aged woman" is that for so many issues, I just don't care anymore what other people think.
This is who I am.
Like it.
Or not.
Doesn't bother me one way or another.
Gosh I wish I could have convinced my 9 year old self that...or even my 29 year old self...or golly, even my 39 year old self.

The numbers don't scare me.
But, I'd be lying if the changes in my body don't aggravate the crap out of me. 

I'm not running anymore because my stupid lower back can't recover.
I can't see a thing...nighttime especially is ridiculous.
The wrinkles on my neck, chest, and of course these "jowels" on my jawline have, in fact, begun to bother vanity I guess.
I'm technically in menopause but still having hot flashes.
Probably looking at a hysterectomy for Christmas.
Thanks, Santa :) 

I said it.
It bothers me.

But, guess what?
I'm alive.
And I'm enjoying life.
We've moved to a new house.
I'm reading again.
My kids are all doing ok and working through their own lives.
The husband and I are figuring out this new chapter of our marriage.
It's all good right now.

I'm a realist though...and I know that the ebb and flow of life will continue as it always has.  
I'm ok with that.
I truly am.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

My Shhhhhhhedule Isn't Working Out Too Well.

It's been over a month since I was here.
And that makes no sense because I love it here.
So much.

One thing that's definitely happened is that school started back, one kid moved to Montana, another kid moved back home from Key West, we bought a house and moved, we prepped our house to sell and put it on the market...

Ok, that was more than just one thing.
And I already forgive myself.

I'm a little in mourning.
Somehow someway we bought a house with no bookshelves.
How the heck did I do that?

The buying and selling of our houses happened pretty quickly so I didn't have time to ponder the absence of bookshelves very much...but I've mentioned here more than once how many books I own. 

What the heck was I supposed to do with boxes and boxes and boxes of books and no place to put them?
Y'all, I gave a lot of books to the library.
I really did.
It was hard at first, but you should have seen the look on the small town librarian's face when I showed up with my boxes.  She was so thankful for the collection I had amassed, and that made me feel very much like I was doing the right thing.

As much as I like actual books...and there are some I'm not sure I will ever be able to give away...I do get the idea that there are going to be some books on my shelves that are TBR leftovers or books I read and even liked but don't remember one thing about.
Why in the world would I keep those if someone else might could read them and enjoy?

I'm even thinking that I might update my Kindle and start reading more books there.  The newer Kindles do allow the reader to see the book covers...and I'm a book cover freak.
I can also borrow more from my library.
Imagine that.
Maybe my library patronage would also help the libraries stay relevant.
I cannot even imagine a world without libraries.
I can't imagine it, y'all.

I can still buy books if I want, but then I can donate those right along to the library when I'm done.
It will help my budget too...if I have nowhere to put books, I can't buy stacks of them and store them on shelves.
Does that even make sense?

I have no idea, but it's what I'm telling myself right now.