Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Day 404 June 27 - Top Ten Tuesday - Best Books You've Read In 2017 So Far

The Broke and the Bookish host this weekly meme that is my all time favorite!

This week's topic is:

"Best Books You've Read In 2017 So Far" 

I quit drinking in May of 2016, so by the beginning of 2017, I was still trying my best to keep my head above the water and crawl out of a pretty dark depression.  As I have many many times in my life, I turned to my Bible for solace and a view of the life I might could find ahead of me.  
I needed strength and I needed a reason to survive.  
My faith has always sustained me like that. 
My Top "Twelve" Tuesday of 2017 follows my progression in taking my life back through reading.

The Women Living Well Journals are more like guided notes than journals...I found by using the journals, I could keep my brain on track.  I learned to use a system of focusing on the words of the Bible, meditating on their meaning, pondering, and sometimes memorizing verses to repeat my myself like a mantra.  One of my doctors told me that with a long term drinking problem like mine had been, it could be up to 18 months before I really had myself back on track.  
The Women Living Well journals helped me immensely before I could really think about much on my own.  They also reminded me how to "write the word"...on the days when I could not stay focused at all, writing the word brought me much solace.

I love this Bible...in all fairness, I haven't read the entire thing, but there were many mornings when I would start here...hanging on for dear life.  

As I began to crawl out of my hole, I wanted to think a bit more so after reading my C. S. Lewis Bible chapter for the day and the Psalms, I would match my Women Living Well Journals with the deeper analysis found here.  I was learning that my brain needed something to think about.  The Life Application Bible doesn't just analyze things for you, it gives you the facts and let's you think as well.

4.  Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst

Terkeurst's book was the first book I've read in over a year.  Finally, I was able to focus and branch out a bit away from such a structured reading.  I still kept my Bible readings and journaling in the mornings, but at night I started adding a chapter a day of nonfiction.  I was blown away at the parallels between Terkeurst's description of a "relationship" with food and the "relationship" I had experienced with alcohol.  

5.  Wild and Free by Jess Connolly & Hayley Morgan

Connolly and Morgan's book fell into my lap at the point that I was beginning to think about who I was and what place I had in this world...without the ability to numb myself with alcohol. 
I wasn't sure anymore...and I'm not really sure if I was ever positive.
Wild and Free encourages women to be who they are without worry...using the parallels of the wild horses of Chincoteague Island...very similar to the lilies of the field and the sparrows Jesus taught His disciples about.

6.  Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst

I was a fan of Terkeurst by this point so Uninvited followed right along with the topic in Wild and Free.  What happens when you don't feel "wild and free'?

7.  Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst

Boy oh boy, did Unglued hit a nerve.  Every page.  Terkeurst might as well have been writing about me. 

8.  Make it Happen by Lara Casey

Life was beginning to pick up at this point, and I was beginning to make future plans...it seemed life was going to be ok after all, and I was ready for the next steps.

Misery doesn't love company, but it has been so wonderful and so spirit settling to realize that I am not the only one to fight this fight...and I am not the only Christian woman to fight this fight.  Myers and Williams tell their stories here and help other women keep their eyes on Truth.  I led a group of women through a study of She Reads Truth and began to see that I might have a place in the world.

10.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake was my first foray into fiction in a very long time.  I ran across it when I started cleaning off my TBR shelves at home.  I told myself that for every book on the shelves, if I didn't immediately want to read it when I first picked it up, that I would not keep it.  Many many many books...many more than I ever imagined went to the library, but Bender's book was one of the first that I longed to read after looking at the cover...and then reading the synopsis.
Damaged people, damaged lives, children with special abilities...a daughter's intuition made real by the taste of her food...a satisfying end but not happily ever after either. 
I read it in two days, closed the book, and whooped that my reading mojo might be back after all :)

11.  Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I started listening to Wild on audio over a year ago and never finished it.  I remembered how much I love audio with a good narrator but how much I also love "Golden Lines" but have an incredibly difficult time with those when the only copy of a book is one I'm listening to.  I would probably like to have a hardcopy of Wild, so I've been keeping my eyes open for one. It seems silly to buy two copies of a book, but reading from a book or ebook and driving is against the law ;P

12.  Simply from Scratch by Alicia Bessette

I'm in a feel good mode right now...a damaged feel good mode for sure...but definitely cozy, life does get better kind of reading mode.
I'm still not looking for fairy tales or happy endings, but I'm not interested in the psychological thrillers I used to be either.  I think I just want to see somewhat normal people weathering the hard times of life...and coming out ok on the other end.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Day 403 - Key Largo - Menu Monday that really isn't a Menu Monday because we're on vacation

After a long day of traveling, and a one night stop in Miami, we have finally arrived in Key Largo.
After a bit of culture shock (bc we're that Southern family that's used to Orange Beach, AL and Destin, FL for vacation), we're settling in nicely and getting ready for our first big adventure on this trip! 

Saturday - Ride in the car forever and ever and ever and ever...take lots of naps bc Ed won't let anybody else drive.

We at WhichWhich sandwiches for lunch on Saturday on the road - I've given Which Which a couple of tries and I am not impressed :(

A Smith family vacation staple, Steak and Shake was supper Sunday night.

Sunday - Miami Marlins vs. Chicago Cubs
We met up with our oldest daughter in Miami...she's here for an internship at Dolphins Plus for the summer.  
Poor Kendal has never been to a Cubs game and seen the Cubs win...we're not sure whose fault that is :/
We're Cubs fans btw...
Sorry Cubbies.

We did eat, hot dogs, pretzels, Cracker Jacks, and peanuts while at the game...oh and don't forget the $6.50 cotton candy
What the??

We did eat at a Pizza and Past place called Boardwalk Pizza Co. on Sunday night...this was my veggie pizza...and I ate every single bite...all by myself...sure did.
And I'm not even sorry. ;)

The first time I snorkeled was in Jamaica and I was a tad nervous (ok, more than a tad)...my goal for today is to relax and enjoy this beautiful life I've been given and to be an example for my daughters to do the same.

Supper is scheduled for a place called Robbie's in Islamadora
Yellow Snapper fish tacos were for dinner...I scarfed em down so fast I forgot to take a picture.
Then, the mosquitos proceeded to scarf us down.

Tuesday - Key West and Ernest Hemingway - I'm a reader and an English teacher...this planned stop makes me happy, happy, happy!!!!

Wednesday - Swimming w dolphins @ Dolphins Plus in Key Largo

Not even gonna lie, y'all...I'm so stinkin' excited about this experience! 
This is the place where our oldest is a summer intern :) 

Thursday - Head home and see anything we need to see on the way back.

Friday - Home - pick up doggies from the vet :):):)
Started missing them from the moment I dropped them off.

**The husband is a regular Clark W. Griswold on these trips...with his agenda and all...so I don't know much ahead of time (and like it that way)!

Anybody out there have any recommendations I can pass along to "Clark"??

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Day 400 - Friday 5 that didn't get posted until the wee hours of Saturday morning...5 Things I Like besides Books :)

Friday 5 - 5 Things I'm Liking Right Now Besides Books 

1.  Pacifica

Not only do I love this cruelty free skincare and makeup brand, I loved finding this sassy lil sale tonight at Ulta! 

When the young man at the register checked me out, he even reacted to the price
$4.75 for this little sampler pack!
Can you say CLEARANCE?
And the same size trial individuals were sitting in bins on the bottom shelf for $5 each.
I did not have to think twice about this purchase...and I skipped all the way home to try it out. 

2.  Rhian HY from WifeLife on YouTube

and especially her "Empties" videos!! 
Rhian is one of my favorite YouTubers to watch...she and Tashina from Logical Harmony are by far two of the best in their biz.
When I watch the empties videos, I keep my Amazon account open so that I can fill up my wishlist.

I certainly don't buy everything on my wishlist.

...maybe not even one thing...but you've gotta love a Wishlist.  
Yes, I was one of those children who circled all the things in the Sears catalog every Christmas.

If, however, the same product shows up on multiple empties lists, I'll keep my eye open for it and purchase the next time I need that particular product.
and/or the next time I find it at Ulta for $4.95.

3.  Podcast of the Week

NPR Up First starts my day once I get in my car.
In 15-25 minutes, sometimes longer if they want to cover a more in depth piece, Rachel Martin, David Greene and Steve Inskeep catch me up on what I need to know.
My love for NPR goes all the way back to Hurricane Katrina.
We had no power weeks...no radio signals, no cell phones...but somehow, someway, NPR got its shows to us.  
To this day, the station music and show music make me feel better, not to mention the quality of their shows.

4.  Paleo Running Mama's Facebook Recipes

Paleo Chicken Bacon & Strawberry Salad with Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette came across my FB feed this week...probably bc I have Paleo Running Mama as one of my FIRST to see FB pages.

(I have to keep my thumb on FB or it gets out of hand quickly.)

You better believe I'm adding this salad to an upcoming weekly menu! 

 5.  And, last but not least...

Cait Flanders blog is not new to me.  I've had it bookmarked for a while and check it now and again...but one of her posts this week really touched me.  I don't remember reading it before...maybe I did and just wasn't ready to hear what she had to say. 
I'm all about mindfulness.
In everything I do.
My brain is going to be busy, no matter what I do...so I might as well give it something incredibly worthwhile to ponder. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 399 - Thankful Thursday

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.  AA - Still thankful for my sobriety sisters, and last night I visited a new group after our regular meeting...a speaker group.  My sobriety sisters group is very small, cozy even...if an AA group can be cozy...but the speaker group was packed.  Packed. 
It was packed because 2 van loads of people were brought in from one of the local rehab centers.
The image in most of our minds of the alcoholic...the bum on the street with the 40 oz. Schlitz in a brown paper bag...was obliterated last night as clean cut, professional, mostly young, coffee drinking, expensive perfume wearing, smiling, congratulating people filled the room. 
There were so many people that when we formed the circle at the end of the meeting to pray the Serenity prayer, we had to layer up...the circle was too big for the room!
Now, I could look at this experience in a variety of ways...but remember, this is positivity only...so here goes:
I'm thankful AA exists.
I'm thankful that somehow, someway, no matter how, this roomful of people found AA.
I'm thankful that we somehow someway develop the nerve to stand up and tell our stories (or sit down)...so that the stereotypes will be expelled...so that other people will see that alcoholics are real people...they are your neighbors...they are your family members...they are others who work with you...they are the people you would never suspect...they have learned to hide their disease very well, and you would be stunned to find out about some of them.

2.  Millennials 

My husband and I are raising two millennials.  
We love every inch and ounce of them. 
I'm thankful for their differences and the new lens they bring to the world. 
I'm thankful for articles like this one from Penny Hoarder that give us some positives to build on for our millennial children. 
Has any generation ever been happy with the "new" generation that evolves.

I'm thankful for the ability to open my eyes a little wider and maybe see our millennials as stylistically different from my generation instead of lacking some sort of value.

3.  Summer School - seriously. 
less classes overall means more time to spend with individual students...
more one on one instruction = relevancy = better grades = happy students
happy students=happy professor
happy professor gets to keep her sanity for one more semester.
happy professor remembers why she wanted to teach in the first place.
I'm thankful for summer school

4.  Our counseling center at the college where I work. 

I've been at the same college for 15 years.
When I first started teaching, a few students here and there needed help.
More help than a teacher could provide.
I've watched the numbers of students needing help multiply to an almost overwhelming number to date.
The two main counselors that our college offers are superb.
They go above and beyond and truly love what they do.
They want to help students and go out of their way to do so.
Just this semester, one of our counselors helped a young woman move out of an unhealthy home environment and into a dorm...and even took her grocery shopping.
This is the kind of stuff our counselors do.

This article from Small Pond Science really hit home for me.   
Who am I (the teacher) to decide whether or not a student's excuses are legit?
What if they're all legit?
We can say all we want about millennials...but these young adults live in a seriously difficult world. 
I'm extremely thankful for the hard-working caring counselors at our college.

5.  The older I get, the more thankful I am for my healthcare insurance.
I'm thankful that if I suspect a problem, I don't have to hesitate to go to the doctor.  
I'm thankful for my job that helps pay my health insurance.
I'm thankful for co-pays.
I'm thankful for prescriptions that don't break the bank. 
I'm thankful for hometown nurse practitioners who keep my entire family kicking.
I'm thankful that if I'm somewhere else and need something from my hometown clinic that I can shoot a text and get the answers.
Thankful doesn't even begin to describe it.

I am thankful for the men and women on both sides of the government brawl, who speak up and out and demand this kind of healthcare for all U.S. citizens.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day 398 - Books I'm Waiting On Wednesday

I'm trying so hard to read what's already on my shelves, the specially priced items on Kindle and Nook websites, and my review books...


And then, as I knew it would happen, the blogosphere shows me this beauty: 

The Right Side by Spencer Quinn


to make matters even more difficult...
the author, Spencer Quinn, is the author of the Chet and Bernie series I'm getting ready to start. 

How am I supposed to stay focused??

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

“Brilliant. Deeply felt, but totally under control. I loved it.” —Stephen King

“A great suspense novel, and so much more. You won’t forget the heroic LeAnne Hogan—and the same goes for her dog! Not to be missed. —Harlan Coben

In this riveting new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of the Chet and Bernie mystery series, a deeply damaged female soldier home from the war in Afghanistan becomes obsessed with finding a missing girl, gains an unlikely ally in a stray dog, and encounters new perils beyond the combat zone.

LeAnne Hogan went to Afghanistan as a rising star in the military, and came back a much lesser person, mentally and physically. Now missing an eye and with half her face badly scarred, she can barely remember the disastrous desert operation that almost killed her. She is confused, angry, and suspects the fault is hers, even though nobody will come out and say it.

Shattered by one last blow—the sudden death of her hospital roommate, Marci—LeAnne finds herself on a fateful drive across the country, reflecting on her past and seeing no future. Her native land is now unfamiliar, recast in shadow by her one good eye, her damaged psyche, and her weakened body. Arriving in the rain-soaked small town in Washington state that Marci had called home, she makes a troubling discovery: Marci’s eight-year-old daughter has vanished. When a stray dog—a powerful, dark, unreadable creature, no one’s idea of a pet—seems to adopt LeAnne, a surprising connection is formed and something shifts inside her. As she becomes obsessed with finding Marci’s daughter, LeAnne and her inscrutable canine companion are drawn into danger as dark and menacing as her last Afghan mission. This time she has a strange but loyal fellow traveler protecting her blind side.

Enthralling, suspenseful, and psychologically nuancedThe Right Side introduces one of the most unforgettable protagonists in modern fiction: isolated, broken, disillusioned—yet still seeking redemption and purpose—LeAnne takes hold of you and never lets go.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Day 397 - Top Ten Tuesday -Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't

The ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish have done it again this week! Have I mentioned that this is and always has been my favorite weekly blogging meme?

This week's topic is:

"Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't" 

What's interesting about today's post is that I took a ton of pictures in BAM while traveling this past weekend...pics of books I didn't want to forget existed in the world...books I wanted to come back to.

I'm a series junkie...I can quickly become so wrapped up in a series that I can't think of anything else except getting my hands on the next one.
Among many others, I've enjoyed: 
The Mitford series, Anita Blake, Stephanie Plum, Cat Who, Mrs. Murphy, Kate Burkholder, Bess Crawford, Maisie Dobbs...and I could go on and on... 

I went a little overboard on this list...may or may not have put more than 10 titles on my list...may or may not have had to delete even more because the list got ridiculous...got caught up in the excitement and all that ;) 
 I feel sure I'll add more once I start browsing other people's lists...tell me where to start!!

I actually have this one on the ottoman by my reading chair so it will happen soon.
Set out west, Chet is the doggie detective who failed doggie K9 school (bc of errant distractive cats no doubt), and Bernie is his human PI...they're well on their way to making the world a better place :) 

I've looked at these so many times in the bookstores.  I'm not sure what's holding me back...the setting is Botswana, and what's better than a mystery in a far away from me place, steeped in culture,  and a female protagonist?  
Not much.

I visited Ireland in 2012.  It was a trip of a lifetime so I'm very curious about any stories that take place there.  In my younger blogging days, I was very fond of the psychological thrillers but am not sure that's where I am right now...as you can see by all the cozy mysteries on this list...
I've wanted to read Tanya French for a while though and am sure this is not the first time she's been on my list.  
We shall see.

More Ireland...and another title that has made more than one appearance on the blog.

5.  The Kopp Sisters by Amy Stewart

I discovered this series in a BAM while searching the cozy mystery section. 
Based on a true character from history...one of the first woman law enforcement officers in early NY...
I loved Lyndsey Faye's Timothy Wilde novels...and this...this...squeeeeeee!
I will very definitely have to give this one a try.

I was a huge fan of Sookie Stackhouse.  This series hasn't gotten the hoopla Sookie did, but I'd still like to give it a chance.

Ya'll...cozy mystery with a writer's apprentice...and dogs...German Shepherd dogs.  
I'm in.

8.  Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries by Cynthia Kuhn

I've actually downloaded this one already since it was specially priced on Amazon for .99
academics...college campus...students...female professor who solves mysteries in her "spare" time, the ivory tower...
Oh yeah

yes, I realize that once I start reading these cozy mysteries, I will somehow have to keep them all separated...
I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Nothing wrong with cozy, y'all.
Am I the only one who gets easily distracted by the covers of these books?

10.  Paw Enforcement series by Diane Kelly

not even gonna try and excuse this...even though it's a little embarrassing...told you I got carried away in the bookstore 
German Shepherd...
cozy mystery...
I'm predictable, right?

11.  Leaphorn, Chee, and Manuelito series by Anne Hillerman

Another favorite lifetime trip for me was with my husband to Taos, New Mexico and surrounding areas of the Southwest.  I've been interested in this series since then.

Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr

Park ranger, wild animals, the beautiful outdoors...let's go!

I'm stopping...I'm stopping...
I love this list...and this meme!! 
Way to go, ladies!