Gobble Gobble Gobble…the Sound of More Weight Gain Cause All I Do Is Read & Eat…

So intermittent fasting yielded little results. I don’t know what the hell I did wrong. I ate within an allotted time….and I was quite disciplined with that time….I was on the move more….I drank gallons of water a day….and the only thing out of it….10 pounds and then a dead cold stop. Since then….a 5 pound weight gain. Aaaaargh. I am bitter about it. Mad at myself about it. Discouraged about it. Not in the damn mood to think about it. Buuuuuuuuut…….

I will say this. All the weight gain…the double chin…has been quite enjoyable as it was happening. A steady stream of family gatherings that served delicious foods, the cold then hot then cold again weather has got me in full on “munchie” mode and sitting on a cozy sofa with my two boys and girl while eating to our hearts delight and watching Netflix from sun-up to sun-down on the weekends has been totally worth it…at least at the time. Then when the husband finally and rarely gets a break from his two full time jobs we treat each other to food cause why not….it’s the best thing to treat each other with. I mean..he’d prefer sex…but come on…..FOOD!! I’ve been a little too comfortable with life. All the down time I use to have at home was spent stressed and worried. Now my days of down time are spent easing into a life of contentment for the most part. Duh, I’m still a worrier by nature. I’m still a Curmudgeon. I’m still going to stress over just about anything in life..cause it’s what I do. But not gonna lie….I’m tired of stressing. I’m tired of caring of what others think. I’m tired of guilt and regret and thinking about what outsiders feel about my husband and myself. I’m tired of feeling guilty that so many people helped us out through our financial struggle and now that we have slowly come out of it we feel bad about taking time to enjoy a few things. And why….because judgment…not from the selfless givers but from others taking notes. I’m done with all that. I’m burned out. We’ve made financial mistakes, we’ve had some downfalls, we’ve even temporarily ruined the credit of someone near and dear to us…..yes….yes we have. Not intentionally…and we fought hard to not allow that happen. But yes…we have. I’m saying it. I’m putting that out there in the universe because I want the release and I’m tired of holding in our shame and fears…but that doesn’t mean that I take things lightly now or I am no longer humble and grateful. It just means that some things are beyond my control. Some things I don’t have answers to. All I can do now is accept, pray about it….and then refocus on how to fix what we broke. Most things are fixable, right?? Most people are forgiving, right?? And what isn’t and who isn’t…..well, that’s when self acceptance and moving on comes in.

And when did this become “Deep Reflections by Meesh”?? I was talking about food and it’s 20 pound stronghold on me….suddenly I’m in my feels over tribulations that plagued my family the past couple of years. Broken record much??  I need to stop before I get into the daunting discussion of people…the shitty ones…and why I can’t stand them.

Purge Purge Purge….and let go!

The holidays are upon us…the weather is nice and mildly cold. Cool…not cold. I live in Texas. We hardly ever get justifiable reasons to bust out the Ugly Ugg boots and fur trimmed hoodies. I mean..I know people that rock boots in our 110 plus degree summers…but hey…I ain’t judging. Okay well I am….but that’s their business not mine. I’m no Vera Wang myself. Back on track….Ugg boots and fur trimmed hoodies. It’s more like very thin leggings with an Abercrombie hoodie that we strip off by mid-day before dying of heatstroke kinda weather. Lost track again. The holidays are upon us and if I don’t get a handle on this weight and do something effective about it…I’m going to pack on even more pounds at the soon approaching Thanksgiving family gathering. Everyone in my family cooks amazing….everyone..so it’s inevitable I’m going to stuff my big fat face. 

But enough of all that…part of gaining weight is because I am enjoying the cuddle time in my lovely little home-made library, followed by a mug or two of coffee and follow that with a bowl of candy or treats beside me. (There’s a little bit of sarcasm in that) Yes…it just feels too damn good. I’ve managed to read a lot which is

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Aaaah my library..aaaah those pillows

amazing. When I am depressed or stressed the last thing I do is read. I just can’t get into any stories no matter how good they are. So the fact that I have been a reading beast as of lately doesn’t necessarily mean that I have no worries or stress…it just means that I am learning to let a lot of the ones I can’t control go….like I mentioned earlier. Our family therapist would be so proud. This week I opted for something with some thick skin…something with some power…something with some headstrong advice. I gots some learning to do…

Book of choice…..thun thun thuunnnnn…..

521How To Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds by Alan Jacobs….cause yeah, this world is spiraling out of control quick. So much chaos in this place. So much dissension and  cruelty and unnecessary loss of life, and unhealthy debating, and upheaval.  We want good old fashion values and old school way of life back and yet we keep modernizing the world we live in. Cell phones are over a $1000 and there are idiots that actually buy them. So according to Alan Jacobs, we are often times divided by three main things…among many other things…religious conflict, political conflict, and social conflict. We can’t stop fighting each other. We can’t stop asserting our damn opinions where it is not wanted, warranted, or needed. We all want to be right….some of us are hardcore in the belief that they are right…with no substantial reasoning behind it other than coddling and petting their self righteous egos. And according to Alan Jacobs the reason behind it all….WE AS A PEOPLE DON’T THINK. From conception, a tiny little blob began forming within the confines of our noggins called a brain…but unfortunately we don’t utilize that little beast of an organ into our daily lives….not like we should.  I quote from a synopsis of the book:

Most of us don’t want to think. Thinking is trouble. Thinking can force us out of familiar, comforting habits, and it can complicate our relationships with like-minded friends. Finally, thinking is slow, and that’s a problem when our habits of consuming information (mostly online) leave us lost in the spin cycle of social media, partisan bickering, and confirmation bias. 

It’s a humorous and witty thought provoking food for thought type of read. A fairly light weighted read…(small book.. I was not expecting it to be)….but full of enough depth to keep me going until the last page and not so much that I tired of it halfway through. We all are “sheep” on some level. I mean….I like to think I am a hippie of my generation…never engaging with anyone on anything political and religious….never partaking in all this presidential bullshit….never feeling pressured to co-sign onto some belief that makes me uncomfortable…and I say all that as I have a tab open to my facebook and twitter…while rocking a Stranger Things t-shirt that I just had to have, while also munching on Terra chips because I heard they are a better alternative to regular chips. The point? We all kinda submit to what we think is right. Our obsessions and fangirl/fanboying are justifiable. Our versions of healthy eating are the most researched, tried and true.  Why? Cause we googled it dammit!!

This book is basically just a resourceful reminder on how we should think…wait, that sounds a little cult-ish and a bit like I’m trying to sell you a gimmick. Well it’s not MY gimmick. Not throwing anything down your throats…it’s an informative read….that’s it. You can take something from this..or you can waste a few hours on it.  “Thinking is an art form”….and we just need to redirect our minds to view things that way. We are not robots and maybe we need that reminder. Again, food for thought…it’s a book that leaves one to ponder on our own little habits and why we are so quick to reach for that bag of healthy snacks, grab that book on How-To, why we don’t question something that our gut tells us is not right but everyone else is doing it so by god I’m doing it too (Except for vaccines…..please vaccinate your babies!!), why we allow other peoples religions to make us feel guilty or defensive about our own beliefs, why we are so obsessed with that t.v show..or want to get the products that actress uses, etc. How To Think is not a How-To on How To Think…it’s more a positive suggestion on why we should open our minds to actually thinking.

Peace, love, and happy readings. I’m now on the hunt for the next book. Something along the lines of: How Not To Think So Much About Food!!!

 

Thanks as always to the great people over at BloggingForBooks for my fee copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to which I gladly and voluntarily gave.

 

 

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A Question and Answer a Day….

ow this one is def going to be a quickie…

Just received in the mail an anticipated little book. The Daily Question: My Five Year Spiritual Journey by WaterBrook. I love to write. But I never write. Instead I diddle and daddle my days away with kids, the internet, reading….and did I mention, the internet? I use to write all the time as a child and a young teenager. Adulthood happens and sometimes we forget the things we use to love to do. I want to do some of those things again…at least a little..and whenever possible. I figured if I added a book like this in my life it would motivate me to take a few moments of my day to write. Seems easy enough. Seems do-able. IMG_1481

And so here it is. A reason to write. An outlet to write. A record keeper of things I write. To make life even easier…each page in this book gives me a date..a day rather…and a question for that day. I just provide the flare and creativity and writing ability to fill it. 5 years. 5 slots per page for that day…for reference…to compare what I wrote in the previous years. It would be interesting to see what I feel in the moment in comparison to what I felt a year ago or three years ago.

To sum it up…the pro’s to this book: It’s a beautiful hardcover record keeper. It’s sturdy and fancy and worth the price when it comes to that alone. The pages are lovely. The font beautiful. Easy to carry around, easy to hide…easy to get the creative juices flowing when we are basically handed the questions already. To the point…short and sweet..or maybe not so sweet depending how you answer the question.

Cons: My God, the book is tiny. I appreciate something compact and easy to tote along in a bag but this can practically fit in a wallet. Okay I’m exaggerating. It’s thick…it’s adorable…but it’s tiny and thus in my opinion not very functional when it IMG_1482comes to writing. It will make for strange maneuvering..and a bit messier handwriting. Another thing…I get it’s the concept, but having only about 2 or 3 small lines to write an answer to the question is def going to be one annoying feat. Some of us ‘writers’ like to write..especially when we get going. And I can’t see how anything substantial and worthy will be written when we have an extremely minimal space to do so. I would have liked a few more lines..a bit more space…but okay, stop complaining..I’m up for the challenge (and challenge it will be).

 

I have not written in this lovely little journal just yet….but I anticipate the day that I begin which I am aiming towards January 1 of 2018 just for the fresh start and the motivation to keep any resolution that will keep me somewhat productive. Maybe it will motivate me to grab a notepad and continue to write…and then who knows what I will produce. I’m sure our family therapist, my mother, my Aunt and a few other people would be happy to hear that.

 

Thanks as always to the peeps over at BloggingForBooks for my free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to which I gladly and voluntarily gave.

‘Tis the Season to be Creepy…

Just a quickie here…..I think…or maybe not…..

I’ve had a whirlwind of the past two weeks. A cousin’s Bridal Shower and then Wedding Celebration, kiddos and I are being inundated with school projects and activities, and bits and snippets of this that and the other. Fourth grade homework doesn’t quit, let me tell ya!! The husband has been putting so much overtime at both his jobs I forgot that I was married to the guy….

Then my daughter and I almost burned down my house yesterday when we had lunch heating in the oven while at the same time getting locked outside with no key thanks to a beautiful stray..and very horny….Husky dog that kept trying to lure my dogs out of their fencing. It was chaos. My husband had to give all his mail to another Postman and rush all the way home. I panic-cried several times…and my daughter laughed at me most of that time. I wish I had that girl’s guts. I don’t know

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We..the house included…survived. The lunch, did not.

how I gave birth to such a fearless and take charge amazing human being. Surely there has been some mistake and she was meant to grace another family with her charms. Surely God did not give Meesh, the social anxiety, anxiety riddled, over-dramatic, coward such a wonderful little girl that puts her mother in check way more than mother puts her in check. Still…she’s mine and I’m not giving her up.

So yeah..we’ve had a busy couple of weeks, and an even crazier yesterday…that we later laughed and laughed about. And today…peace and quiet…just in time for me to type this review. The husband came home early, surprising me with Chinese food, and I want to talk about books while rocking the biggest (creepy) smile on my face…..

On the same day that my mother brings me The Munster Family dolls…along with some other knick knacks….I get this book delivered to me. YES!! The stars aligned in time for Halloween. Not that I am a huge Halloween fan. I never dress up….but when anything seasonal coincides with and gets the reading juices flowing…I’M IN!!IMG_1444 The weather has been chilly. It’s blanket season. It’s junk food and sofa season. It’s creepy books and cuddling season. It’s also “I’m going to put on 10 pounds because of it” season. But blaaaah. I’m not complaining. I’ll worry about that later.

The dolls. Horror Beauts!! Went straight on my shelves…I have just the place…next to my Stephen King collection of course!! I can’t stop looking at them. The 6 year old is scared shit-less of them. And the damn cat keeps trying to knock them down. Kudos to my mom…no clue how that woman managed to have this collection. If you knew her and saw what she looked like you’d be perplexed too. She’s rabbits and butterflies…not Munsters and ghouls. But at least she knows her daughter well.

The book. The Creeps: A Deep Dark Fears Collection by Frank Krause. And if I am not mistaken this is a second book to another book that was so highly successful that he created this one to continue that success. All I know is I saw tons of reviewers wanting to get their hands on it..I thought it was intriguing…I don’t have enough graphic-novel-ish style books in my life…the peeps that did review it left great comments on it….I had to have it myself.

It Aaahmazing. Great book for any season….but just perf for this one. That cover….simple…but just right. You can’t go wrong in my book when a cover doesn’t actually have one of those paper covers but rather takes the canvas binding and creates a design on that. The feel of that texture on my hands….book nerd paradise PEOPLE!! And then we get to the inside….true to form with the canvas binding, they picked just the right design for the endpaper, the illustrations are whimsical, fresh, and fantastic for the theme. Literally the drawings look like what anxiety must look like in illustrations. Like they took those drawings from my own head whilst having panic attacks and then created some stuff. If that makes sense. 

If I couldn’t like the book more….I go and find several of my fears mentioned. AHAHA. Yes, I had a good chuckle about that. Then I went into a mini panic thinking of those fears and the near deaths that could have been caused by them. Also several new fears formed based on the fact that this book shed light to fears I never knew existed but now do….and eeeeeeek. (Solace…I’m not the only one).

It really is a whimsical, totally unique, and enjoyable read…easy to get through. I read it in one sitting….but went back several times to revisit it. I am on the hunt for the first book. Frank Krause gets me….he really, really gets me.

 

Thanks as always to the great peeps of BloggingForBooks for my free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to which I gladly and voluntarily gave and will continue to give on other reading review outlets.

How To Behave In A Crowd Review From A Woman That Avoids Crowds…

Busy wedding prepping week. Not my wedding. My cousin’s. But the struggle to find a dress when I’ve gained 20 freakin’ stubborn pounds that don’t want to come off is off the chain. As per my last blog…I am still going strong on intermittent fasting. It’s not so bad at all. Seriously, if I could do it, anyone can do it. It’s attainable and I sleep better because of it. I don’t wake up with bad heartburn from my all night eating anymore because there is no more all night eating. I set a schedule…and I follow it…less calories….mostly. HOWEVER…after having lost 10 pounds 224successfully, I have reached a plateau. Whatever I did in the first two weeks is not enough now and I am stuck. Then I put on 5 more pounds. So back to holding 15 pounds in the gut. Dress shopping is the worst because of it. Anxiety….insecurity…frustration…self-loathing..all that. I am angry at myself and I am still traumatized by those damn unflattering dressing room mirrors…..I faced at least 10 of them.

Silly trial and tribulation…I just want to look just as good as the crowd I am going to face this weekend at the wedding. Yes the crowd….I hate crowds. But I love celebrating and the silver lining in all this is that we are about to rejoice in the joining of two people. My cousins. We gain a family member..and how romantic for them to start a new committed life together. I enjoy watching them together…so young, so fun….their positive vibe is always so contagious and that’s reason enough to be honored to celebrate with them no doubt. But yes….I’m having anxieties thinking about all the peeps at the wedding. Aaaaargh to social anxiety. For two weeks I’ve been giving orders to my husband…find me a table in the corner…and get me drunk. AHAHAHA…..but for real though. Usually the plan every social outing.

222Moving on….I received a book in the mail. Decided to take it along with me to the Barber Shop as our boys to got their stylish haircuts for the wedding. How To Behave In A Crowd…God don’t I wish it was an actual how-to. Author Camille Bordas has created a lovely work of fiction….both witty and poignant…a short read but a solid one. It’s quirky…a little dark….funny…but not as funny as I would have liked. It’s there…just there. Like I laughed a little in my head but not enough for it to be out loud. Isidore Mazal, youngest of six children at 11 years old is the most basic of the bunch. Having never really achieved nearly as much as his siblings, he kinda trudges through life complacently….but what do you expect for an 11 year old. I mean seriously, what 11 year old knows what they are going to do in life…what 11 year old achieves a lifetime of goals?? Most don’t…I never did. But we don’t come from the family that Isidore does. The family dynamic….quirky to say the least. Tragedy strikes….and things drastically change for little Isidore. It gets rather philosophical. It gives an air of The Elegance Of The Hedgehog for me. Elegance Of The Hedgehog was very slow moving for me. Charming and witty…brilliant and unique…but flowed too slow when it came to me getting into the main character. It slogged through her personality and that exhausted me. I felt that way with this one. It took me a minute to grasp what I felt for Isidore. I did enjoy it though…but maybe not as much as I anticipated. Still..I think it is a brilliant book…and for a debut novel…that’s a promising thought for anything else that Camille Bordas might put out in the future.

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Author Camille Bordas

I will def be on the lookout. I def want to read more from her.

I loved the whole idea of this book. I loved the writing style. I loved the darkness and the wit. I didn’t love the depths we had to go to get to know the main character….but even with that I am just picking at anything. Camille Bordas…a promising author who def must have more behind that belt for us to enjoy.

Quick review….I have about a million squats and sit ups to do before Saturday.

 

Thanks as always to the wonderful peeps at BloggingForBooks for my free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to which I gladly and voluntarily gave.

When Goodness Prevails….& So do Good Books….

There is just so much strife in the world right now. Bad weather, natural disasters, people we love being diagnosed with difficult diseases, family/sibling rivalry and drama, North Korea and all that crap. It all gets to be too much. But yeah..not to sound like an ass but all that struggle makes the rest of us sit back and think, “Whew….I’m okay……I’m good”…..at least for now. Some of us dodge bullets, some of survive some illnesses that statistics say otherwise, some of us get through the struggle and move on…it’s life. I for one am the last person in the world to preach about….well, about anything. My struggles are minuscule in comparison to the struggles I have witnessed for others in just these past 2 months alone. I sit at home…cozy…looking at a laptop at all the devastation that is going on around us. I’m not going to be arrogant and say it’s because “I am blessed” that I get to be immune to all that desolation. NOPE. It’s because I have so far been fortunate not to be a part of that particular human experience at that particular time. I was not in that town, I so far have not been given a grave diagnosis by a doctor, I was not in that car, I was not standing right there at that moment, so on and so on. Who knows what tomorrow brings.

But yes….goodness prevails. I mean…I live in the wonderful state of Texas. I use to think most of us were jerks. Yet people everywhere came together for the victims of Harvey and Irma. People with hardly any money giving to those that lost it all. All walks of life helping and saving lives. It’s incredible…inspiring…motivating. Then Mexico City and Puerto Rico gets destroyed and it’s a really short lived happiness. I don’t know how any human can not be affected by all this. I found myself walking around somber for days and days because I felt bad to be so relieved and happy for my own life. 

And I’m not going to lie…there is a mixture of goodness and devastation for my own peoples in general. Literally looking forward to a close family members wedding that I am so extra excited for..while also praying for a family friend that was diagnosed with a very serious disease. Being happy for another baby coming to the family…while also indifferent to the fact that it’s from family I no longer kick it with. Relieved that my husband and I are finally paying all our bills and are in a better situation financially….meanwhile he has to work two full time jobs and be home even less than he already was. One minute I’m in a great mood because I won something online…meanwhile I hear that a neighbors house got broken into. Life is so freakin’ crazy. It’s so true when they say to be thankful for the “little blessings” as they happen cause let me tell ya, I’m excited when I get a two sentence email from my oldest son….especially when he goes weeks to reach out to us and I never know if he is doing okay or not. Life is a series of juxtapositions that we have to sift through and escape and cope from…might as well relish in some happiness when that comes our way as well. 

I’m being so damn reflective and it’s driving me insane. HORMONES!! Yes it’s that time of the month….but for real though…ain’t it the truth??!! Blah blah blah…..so goodness prevails. I had a “goodness” week. My 9 year old came home with instructions for a major project that he needed help with….and I had fun with it. All last week they read Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing. TALES OF A MUTHAF’EN FOURTH GRADE NOTHING….like, I read that when I was a kid…probably around his age!! I was so excited when he started talking to me about Fudge…and Dribble the turtle….and how so extra salty Peter is with his little brother. We had something in common…and it was literature based…and we laughed and laughed through out our entire conversation….(cue the pink hearts gushing out of my chest)!!

So the project…Poster board, cartoon drawing, 4 memorable characters, bullet point lists describing each significant character. There was creative flair, there was true to form cartoon animation, there was pencil coloring, there was experience…all of that going into one pretty amazing project. I wish that I would have taken a damn photo of the end results of what I believe is a masterpiece put together by yours truly. Unfortunately…I do not have such evidence. I know…I know…then it didn’t happen. ONLY IT DID. Point being…we had a great time together working on it. We even incorporated the 6 year old to help. How amazing it is that I had that moment with my boys. Sometimes I complain…and sometimes motherhood is about exhaustion and frustration and crap and mess and fighting and noise…but this time..it was all goodness. Okay maybe a few times there was fighting…and there definitely was a mess at the end of it and never mind the screaming match I had with pencil colors that kept losing their points when I sharpened them. Still, goodness.

Feeling inspired to keep the good nostalgic vibe going I’ve been reading some good vibe books. I could have gone with some classics that I’ve read in the past, however, I wanted something new to me but that also let off a nostalgic vibe.  A Tale For The Time Being…oh my God it was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t cry like I was told in reviews that I would and the end did get weird for me. Still, I thought it was good…had me involved through out. Then my free copy of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan came in and what better time than now to dive into it. It’s summery and nostalgic feeling, it’s historical fiction, it just gives off good vibe power rays.

So The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. England goes to war. World War II. A music professor, Primrose Trent, comes to the town of Chilbury. Since the men are at war it seems that the Vicar of the town church feels that the choir needs to be put on pause until they return. YEAH, BECAUSE WOMEN ARE INSIGNIFICANT!!! Ugh. Primrose, however, feels that it should carry on…with the women of Chilbury. Obviously Mr. Vicar is not going to be pleased with such defiance. Rebellious these women are…they carry through with the choir anyway.

It’s a basic feel-good tale. Something along the lines of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. But the beauty is in the scenery…a small town, quirky and lovely, make for such a unique and grown-up experience. The beauty also comes in the characters. All walks of life…not just simple town folk. People…with complexities, with stories of their own, with devastation and also goodness. I’ve just gotta spot light Venetia and her sister Kitty. The antics of the self-absorbed self-motivated Venetia are pretty vivid in this book…and her endearingly awkward sister that becomes quite a surprise voice to this choir.  And that’s just it…the women of this choir are so unique and interesting to read about..you root for them mostly. It’s a slow moving read that pulls you into the lives of these people via letters and journal entries. You fall in love with some of these characters, you yearn for that small town life, you feel the warmth of the time. It’s absolutely perfect end of summer reading. Goodness. Yes there is strife in these stories…but also goodness. Goodness prevails.

A lovely story. It makes for a really wonderful reading club/group book. Give it away as a gift to someone who loves cozy -feel-good reads. I don’t know much about the author. First story I have read from her….but yes, she’s on my radar and I am putting any of her other books on my tbr based on how this book made me feel.

Peace, love, and happy readings!!

 

 

Thanks as always to the wonderful peeps of BloggingForBooks for my free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to which I gladly and voluntarily gave.

Reading Through My Month Of Intermittent Fasting Experience…

Yeah…so the summer was not kind to my body. Well…maybe I was the one not kind to my body. Damn you food temptation and comfort eating. I ate..and lounged…and ate…and ate. I am so angry with myself that I allowed weight gain to happen to my poor body especially when I tried so hard to keep the weight off. And it’s the absolute worst for me because I am so freakin’ short. At 4’11 and having gained 20 pounds in just three months……ugh. I look like an apple with legs. Resorting to big t-shirts and stretchy pants again…I refuse to leave the house. I barely left the house to begin with. The one thing I actually looked forward to and dreaded at the exact same time was the kids starting school. Looked forward to it because it meant that I do all the walking to take them to school every morning and then head back home. Pick them up from school and head back home while holding both backpacks. That’s about 2 miles of walking a day. I NEEDED THE TREK BACK IN MY LIFE!! Dreading that in the meantime, and until I lose the weight, I have to deal with the daily struggle to find clothes that fit, that are also comfortable to wear in Texas heat while also covering up all my bad body parts, and having the courage to face all the staring moms (and dads) as they see that I have put on so much weight. Yes…I’m being presumptuous. Who the hell cares about staring at me. Only you don’t know some of the parents at my boys school. All last school year I walked around in cute tank tops and workout attire…..today, I’m digging into my husbands drawers for something I can pull over the gut. Gone are the days when a mom or two here and there would stop their cars to tell me “I need to do what you do” or “I’m being lazy…I could use the walking too”. It was motivation..and now that’s awash. Let’s throw some good ole’ fashion depression to my complainin’….but….stop stop stop….I am not feeling sorry for myself this time.Yeah, seriously, I’m not.

This time…with therapy and my daily Godly meditations…I have been focusing on the goodness in a situation. Okay…so there is no goodness…I’m fucking fat and that’s all there is to it. I need to stay away from sugars…so I ain’t trying to coat my blog words in it either. I gained weight. I want it gone. I need to do something about it. Yes…all the health benefits stuff…but mostly because I am sick and tired of huffing and puffing when I walk, and also I want to get back in my cute clothes.

I’m no expert…nor can I afford to get one. I am just an internet junkie with a little bit of time on my hands. Reading up on what would work best for me. Praying for some mini miracles…and going for it. Doing 2 miles a day…easy peasy (only cause I have no choice if I give a crap about my kids going to school or coming home from it). Cardio…so far completed a week of doing my long lost routine of 20 minute intense HIIT workouts in my living room. Sometimes I half ass them…but hey, I’m doing them. I have an injured pulled muscle in my calf to prove it thanks to jumping lunge switches. Yeah…little tidbit…only do those if you have warmed up so damn much it was practically the workout itself before you workout. Everywhere we go I hear someone saying “Do you smell Ben-gay??” Yeah over here…chubby short girl rocking globs and globs of it on her calf held together by a makeshift wrap I created with an old sock. That’s me. Then came the water consumption. My husband was told by a customer of his whose wife and he are nutritionist, that my best bet for digestion and less stomach fat was to drink lots and lots and lots of water. But also to drink a warm glass of cayenne and lemon water every single morning. Guess what…I upped it to two a day. Just to really get it going. I walk around with my gallon jug a day and am now on day 3 of drinking the stuff religiously. Not so bad…but if I don’t lose weight from anything else…I will because I have to trample up and down my staircase every 10 minutes to pee. I am stocking up on toilet paper this weekend. I’ve used 3 rolls in 2 days. That’s some intense peeing…let me tell ya. Taking pre-workouts, protein shakes, all that good stuff bought at the Vitamin Shoppe…. and now for the big goal (I’m not good with big goals…but here goes nothing).  Intermittent fasting. It scared me…a lot..at first. Right now I am on the 8/16 and trying really hard to be good and disciplined within the 8. Day 3, so far so good. I discovered that if I fit the 8 within a time that I usually am my most hungriest then I can maintain the habit and sleep off the rest. Next week I’ll work on the 5/19. 27 days later….well that remains to be seen. Sounds easy?? Well you don’t know me. But anything is better than what I did before to lose 50 pounds….practically starve myself and run run run out in the great Texas heat every single day on an empty stomach. I’m not doing that anymore…I don’t have the strength.

I am not hungry grouchy yet. I feel like it’s an attainable habit for the bigger goal. And what the heck…I have to do something to lose the weight. By the way….I went to the restroom already 4 times during the making of this blog so there’s that. Reading…don’t I always resort to reading for everything in my life??!!! YES!! So…what better way to stop thinking about food and all it’s goodness…reading. I keep the t.v off more when I read…if I keep the t.v off more then I don’t have to get hypnotized and manipulated into wanting to eat every single thing in my kitchen. ABC’s The Chew is the damn devil. I never can watch that show without grabbing a bite to eat…and another…and another. Ever watch an Anthony Bourdain show and not be hungry?? It’s literally an impossibility. So that’s it…I’ve done away with t.v for now…(American Horror Story doesn’t count) and I am hitting the books harder than ever…a place where it’s safe…usually.

So this blog isn’t just about my bullshit need to lose weight…this is about a book review too right??!! The Heart’s Invisible Furies..by John Boyne. Oh…avid readers can feel me when I say that when this book was delivered to me it was like when Indiana Jones found that lost ark thingamajig or when Joan Wilder and Jack Colton found that downed plane filled with all that pot and left over food in Romancing The Stone. I was in giddy city!! Even more so to discover that it was such a beautiful book…beautiful cover…lovely solid book in my hand.

Not quite a tome…more like a mini tome, at 582 pages. A great challenge to have. The reviews for this book were quite impressive and I was excited to get into the experience myself. A story set in Ireland…I never read enough books about a place I am so fascinated with. Always interested in an opportunity such as this one. Cyril Avery….the main character in this story, and a damn delight to read about, a gay man, that comes from an extremely conservative family and he’s always been told that he is adopted. Pretty sure it’s obvious what topic or rather topics this book is going to touch on. But there’s more…so much more. Yes it dives right into all the LGBT injustices…but there is also the historical elements and the dilemmas that go with that. Irish political issues…Catholicism..no wait, Irish Catholicism….oy ve!! It’s very to the point….very out there…very tense and intense. I mean you can’t read the first paragraph of this book and not expect anything less. It goes:

Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.

Scandalous, absolutely scandalous!! It’s not a light read by any means but that’s what makes this book so wonderful. There is so much food for thought…so much to discuss that you actually want someone else to read it just so you can push the topic of discussion on to another. A family saga..intriguing characters….you will fall in love with everything about this book. This read gives you a mixture of emotions throughout. Very intricate a story..even more intricate feelings will come into play as you are reading it. From happiness, to laughter, to tears and anger….quite the reading experience. I have been dabbling in light reads all summer and was ready for a difficult book…this was it. Exceeded all expectations. I’m ready for more.

John Boyne is the author of one of the most famous books ever…The Boy In The Striped Pajamas. Another tear jerker of a book. Not to mention that he has gone on to write many others that I am excited to get my hands on now that I can say that I have two Boyne books under my belt that I have thoroughly enjoyed. This book..along with the others…sold anywhere books are sold.

FYI: I peed 7 times while creating and editing this blog. Hydrated AF!!

Per the usual….peace, love, and happy readings!!

 

Thanks as always to the wonderful peeps at BloggingForBooks for my free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to which I gladly and voluntarily gave.

The Art Of Negotiating…Learned From A Book

So sometimes I like to try something different.

Enter: The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need: 101 Ways To Wine Every Time In Any Situation by Peter B. Stark and Jane Flaherty. Yeah….I’m an avid reader. We sometimes get notions to dive into unusual territory…for a bit of fun, education, and maybe even to actually learn something and it become a successful situation in  life?? The book just intrigued me. I don’t know why…..no, that’s a lie. 99I know why. Go with me on this….it’s going to veer in another direction and it might get confusing. It’s Big Brother season!! Big Brother 19 to be exact. Yes I am fucking crazed obsessed fan with that CBS show that has been going strong for years and years and years. But let’s take my obsession a bit further. It’s more than the show that comes out 3 or 4 times during the week. It’s the live feeds that really have me hooked. About 16 contestants…who they refer to as ‘House Guests’…16 house guests from all over the United States get picked to enter a house for about 3 months. Think MTV’s Real World…almost just like it….no t.v, no phones only in this case they can’t leave the house they are summoned to. They stay locked away in this house and the only access to outside is a large courtyard behind 4 walls. They can see the sky, hear car horns, once in awhile see a bird…and that’s it. 3 months…with the goal of participating in comps. There is a weekly Head of Household that nominates 2 people to “go on the block” and face eviction….but not before they get the opportunity to play for veto which could take them or someone they choose off the block. The main goal…to be the last man…or woman standing and win $500,000. There’s more to it….and then there are the live feeds 24/7. Yes we get to watch everything that goes on in the house from fights, to fun invented games, gossip sessions, to sex in the bedrooms, to just about everything. It gets brutal sometimes. Especially when the paranoia sets in. Cause here’s the thing….it’s not as easy as winning competitions…it’s a social game.100 A game of power, manipulations, of giving in to what you really want to say to others but know that kissing ass is going to keep you in the game longer, lies, backstabbing….Psychiatrist and Psychologists would have a field day on the studies they could be conducting if they watched this show. To see people that would otherwise in their real world not be so shady go on to a show and find themselves being the most shadiest fucker around. I could go on forever….like FOREVER. Remember I’ve been watching this thing for over 15 years. I didn’t even mention the chat rooms. Tons and tons of people live chatting with each other over what is going on at that particular moment in the house. And even those get brutal. Someone’s always gotta get personal. And from there we have the facebook Big Brother groups…twitter…..OH MY GOD….it’s a whole crazy little world of us. I am so fascinated on the study of people…and what they would do for money.

Which brings me to this book. One of my biggest dreams was to go on this show. But at my age…I feel like I have lost that chance. Not like it’s too late in all actuality..and not like I have a chance to even consider because I never tried out and even if I did try out there are hundreds of others that try out and have a much better shot than I and still don’t get in…but still, I won’t even try. My age…they eat alive. I’m really not old….but for Big Brother…I’d be the old geezer that they try to get out in week one. Let’s not even get going on the fact that I am a mother. No chance I’d be a part of any popular alliance. So yeah…not happening. But hear me out on this one…..I am literally resorting to prepping my 17 year old daughter into one day trying to get on. Stage mom??? I think it counts. This is actually very typical…as many house guests got on and remarked that they did it for their mother or father that were the biggest fans. Well, If I am going to start primping and prepping my daughter to be a fierce and ruthless competitor…then we might as well start with reading up. No surprise that one of the most popular books among the house guests was reading 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People….oh and also How To Win Friends And Influence People. Hey when you’re trying to win $500,000…all of a sudden taking up reading is not such a bad idea. More so when you already read. So maybe my daughter won’t have a shot….maybe she will. But several Big Brother winners are the ones that actually read these books. Off to a great start when I ran into this book and had the opportunity to receive it for review.

Okay Okay….all kidding aside….even if Big Brother did not exist, I’d still want to read it. However….because these types of books have very much been topics of discussion in the BB house and have served some of them well because of it…I wanted to get my hands on books of this nature. The title caught my attention…and I’m an introvert…that doesn’t even hang around people. But come on….who couldn’t use a few effective negotiation tactics, right??!!

Blaaaaaah…..and here we are. After that painfully long introduction and build-up to this review, I’m going to admit that my actual review of this book is not nearly as long. I don’t have much to say about the book…..yet. Yes, I kinda skimmed through it. Here’s the thing….it’s something of a how-to guide, right? It’s something to master over time, not all at once, right? So why read it just for the sake of giving a review of what I thought when what I actually think will come over time…when I have to do a bit of negotiating…when I can witness for myself if the tips and pointers on this book really work, right?

But here’s what I got so far. It’s not a very long book like I was expecting…which is actually great. Not everyone is such an avid reader. Some of us like to get to the heart of the matter and don’t have time to dig through a 700 page plus tome. And frankly, many peeps have a short attention span…anything over 400 pages…tedium sets in. Not the case in this book. Sitting at 240 pages it is perfect for light reading, perfect to carry around with you wherever you go, and great for note taking and quick refreshers. Right there…already shows how effective this book is.

Another great thing…other reviews on this book are very positive. I hardly found a bad review. I hardly found a mediocre review. Always a great sign that we are not wasting our time with this little investment.

From what I have read…what I gather…common sense tactics. Nothing too unbelievable or unattainable. Knowledge is key…or is that communication?? Either one….opens doors I’m sure. The examples in this book were good…memorable which is a good thing when you are in a negotiating situation and you actually want to take a moment to reflect on what the best approach is, how and why. It’s a guide that is easy to follow along but not so easy that you feel cheated out of $20 because the content is just too much cheese to even think in realistic terms. No…surely this book is quite effective in little ways across the span of your life…my life (if I ever left the house).

Which brings me to the true test…..my review is just a simple summary of what I got so far. I plan on flipping back through this book every now and again. I plan on touching up on the notes I will be adding. I plan on maybe seeing if these tactics actually work and then I can truly tell ya what I think of this book in terms of effectiveness. Tried and true. I hope what I read…stuck. And I hope what stuck can be used and I hope what I use actually works.

Def give this book a go. It’s one of those books that falls under self-help, business how-to’s, motivational-ish reads that you don’t have to read immediately (but do so if you do feel compelled to do so because I’m sure the author would want that)…rather, it’s one of those books that you can keep around the house, in a bookshelf, in your car. It’s just a great book to have around…because there is always going to be a time where you need these kind of tidbits of help.

Sold anywhere books are sold.

Peace, love, and happy readings.

 

Thanks as always to the wonderful peeps of bloggingforbooks for my free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to which I gladly and voluntarily gave.

Evicted….Shot A Pang Right To My Poor Broke Heart…

New York Times Bestseller and also winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Evicted: Poverty And Profit In The American City, by Matthew Desmond is a book that needs to be read. You wanna know what it feels like to be living paycheck to paycheck….you wanna build some empathy for the struggle of many Americans….you wanna find something relatable to the struggles you face….yeah, this book….read it.

Matthew Desmond‘s journalistic writing style is hard hitting, in your face, and shoots a bullet to the heart everything we as Americans should be concerned with in this difficult and trying world. He does not sugar coat realities, he does not hide from raw and visceral life struggles, he does not give us a watered down version of what is really going on in our world yesterday, today and what will become. I am impressed and heartbroken after reading this book. I want Desmond’s work to be a representation of all of poor America. I was poor America. I could be poor America in the future. We are only a job away, a paycheck away from poor America. It’s reality and it’s a bleak one. I’ve lived it and am scared every single night trying to go to bed, from living it again.

I sit here in my air conditioned living room, typing this review on my expensive fairly upgraded laptop, drinking a fancy Starbucks Latte as I see kids on bikes outside my window and hear my own watching cable t.v in the background. I am fortunate. Fortunate for all this. Deserving and undeserving. Take this back 3 years ago when my husband lost his $21 an hour  plus monthly bonuses and benefits job as a Operations Manager..bills piled up, a fairly new mortgage, and kids to feed. Downward spiral in the worst way, we never prepared for this. Every week we always said, “We’ll start saving after this splurge”. And we never did. We almost lost everything, utilities got cut off, collectors were barking left to right, and the kids couldn’t eat like they were use to. Still, we were fortunate. Still, we were doing better than most…still more comfortable than most. Yet, suicide was STILL on the table for topic daily. It was an option that we actually discussed…and I actually planned.

Take this back 21 years ago, when my husband and I just had one kid that we didn’t plan on having and a stepfather that gave me a ‘date of move out’. Poor, living in a one bedroom apartment with a sofa and a bed and not much else, on food Stamps and WIC, husband working a job that barely paid anything…struggling to get by. No cable, no phones, not much of anything. It was tough…tougher that we decided to have another child cause yeah, I make all the best decisions in life….pfffft. We continued to struggle, we moved out about every year just to get a $99 move-in special so we wouldn’t have to pay the rent on the place we were currently at because in all honesty we didn’t have enough to pay yet another month. You find ways to cut corners no matter how ridiculous. I guess when my husband lost his wonderful job 3 years ago…the sadness came from the memories of 21 years ago..and how hard it was then. We lived in fear of going back to that time but this time with four kids.

Here we are today. My husband and I are playing catch-up but it’s a lot less bleary and hopeless although the fear is still there. I suppose it never really goes away when you live paycheck to paycheck. My husband has been fortunate to be able to find two full-time jobs that could better provide for us. Harder work than before…less time at home…but it’s paying the bills. Sacrifice and struggle….it’s life. No point in looking back and wishing we could have made better decisions with our education. No point in pondering on regrets. We are feeding the kids and paying the bills and yes, now we have money for luxuries and extras again. Can’t look back…have to move forward…always.

Evicted….I am heartbroken and I am thankful. It kinda sucks to live in a world where one can be relieved to not be hurting as bad as others…yet knowing there are others out there hurting badly. The depression in me forces me to feel that tenfold and the guilt is difficult to ignore. At the same time there’s that anger that I hate to admit I have within me..the judgement. Basically…if we can do it…if my husband can kill himself working 16 to 18 hour days 6 days a week just to provide us with shelter why have sympathy for the man that can’t. I know it’s terrible.And I don’t mean that for everyone and every circumstance. I get it. We have often found ourselves in a deadlock, no win situation where we just absolutely can’t get over the hurdles…like having no reliable form of transportation, bad credit, no childcare, no help whatsoever and that’s not because I don’t have helpful family but rather family trying to make their own way as well. My husband and I have been on every level of that spectrum or have witnessed it for others close to us. This books drives at all those feelings. 8 families in Milwaukee and their struggles and hardships. We are slapped in the face with the realities of what they goIMG_1246 through on a daily basis in search of a comfortable permanent residence….comfortable being the bonus not the demand. Be it renter or landlord…both deal with the cruelties of poor America. This books opens your eyes to the harshness not just of the renters that struggle to pay their bills but to the landlords that struggle to keep houses and apartments under code, meet the demands of the renters, and how they scrounge many times to pay their own bills when renters can’t pay. Yes, we never stop to consider that if we don’t pay rent..the landlord can’t pay rent and they are the ones that have to deal with the banks many times. Then there are the asshole landlords that buy the cruddiest crappiest houses for as cheap as they can only to turn around and rent it out for the highest price the neighborhood allows, that could just care less…whose only concern is profit at the expense of hard-up people that need a break in life. It’s a viscous never ending circle….a dog eat dog world of trying to stay clothed, fed, and sheltered. This book puts so many things into prospective…I am floored by how amazing and disturbing it is.  The dialect….there is no sugar coating.

I can honestly say my poverty has come no where near what is described in this book by these families…but I’ve witnessed it for others. I have known of family..close family members in shelters. I have visited a family in these shelters. And in those visits I have witnessed other families and heard their circumstances for being in these shelters. I have judged. I have judged greatly. And at times I have felt saddened for what these families have to resort to. We can only know what we see and hear…but don’t fully know the entire story. This book gives us a glimpse of that..and I’d like to think that it creates an empathy within that is unavoidable. You will be floored by the statistics, you will be in awe of the facts, you will be somber to realize that this is a growing epidemic. Sometimes people do place themselves in these situations with all fault of their own…but many families don’t. Many families are trying. Many families just need that one break in life to get them out of the rut. Many adults trudging through life in this vicious circle….and then there are the kids. Breaks my heart.

I give kudos to the writing style of Matthew Desmond. Checking out his bio….it is evident that he speaks what he knows. Talented and well educated. Co- director of the Justice and Poverty Project. Another bestseller, On The Fireline is next on my list of books to read. Co-author of two other books about race. He’s certainly an author to always be on the lookout for.

This is such a solid book that needs to be read. I can’t give it enough praise. Non-fiction at it’s finest…you read the dialect of these people and you almost forget it’s not fiction…but fiction could not hit you in the face the way this book just did me. Harsh realities in a cruel world. I’m never really one to get into politics. I shy away from any political debates. I try best I can to keep opinion to myself. But this book…it’s something to be discussed. It’s something to share. It gives you a sense of a need for demand….demanding a change in our system, demanding something be done about all these families that struggle, demanding for better welfare systems and workforce help, a demand to understand. But will that happen…how will that happen?? Where are we going to get the money to make that happen?? As long as we live on earth..the future is bleak. I sit here at home…comfortably….just worried about myself and my own and live in fear it never happens to us again. I’ll throw a couple of dollars here and there to charity to make myself feel like I did something to help..and then go back to my comfortable home and not think about it until life reminds me again. Sad bittersweet reality.

Slightly off topic..but a part of my feels still….education is key. Educate yourself by reading all there is to know that is important. Do what you can. We fumble in life and we find quotes to make us feel better, to justify what we are doing is okay and what others are doing is not okay. If you’re a quote junkie such as myself you realize that there is a quote for absolutely every single thing and it goes the way of everything. There is no rule. The best things in life are free, yet, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. You’re never too old to learn, yet, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. A penny saved is a penny earned, yet, you have to spend money to make money. My point. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Just do what you can. Prosper. Stay afloat if you can’t prosper. Live life to the fullest. Stay alive as long as you can. If you have a short life coming to ya…enjoy it like you got a chance at a long life. Pay your rent. If you can’t pay your rent….find a way to get someone to pay it for you. I don’t have the answers…I only can relate to the struggle. (Excuse me for the crazy brain diatribe).

Peace, love, and happy readings!!

 

Thanks as always to the great peeps of BloggingForBooks for my free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to which I gladly and voluntarily gave and will give anywhere books are sold.

When You Choose A Christian Book To Read….

You don’t know me from a can of beans. I barely know me from a can of beans. I do know that I have a reading preference as far as what I enjoy the most, however, I will purchase and dabble in any kind of reading experience because I just love reading so much. Typically I aim for Historical Fiction…my fave. And typically I aim for Contemporary Fiction. And typically I enjoy a few Psychological Thrillers and Mysteries. So it was quite a daring move for me to request a book from the Christian section. Not that I don’t enjoy religious or spiritual based books. I have read quite a few. But don’t call me an expert of the genre…because that I am far from. I’m far from an expert in my own personal religion in real life. But here’s the thing……

So there’s this Youtuber that I follow. I just adore the woman. She is so much like me and yet nothing like me at all. Does that make sense?? It does to me. You know the kind of person you just instantly resonate with and seem to have all kinds of little things in common with but on the bigger scale of things you just know you lead two very different lives so your questioning why you ever thought you had a ton of things in common with that person to begin with is ridiculous. But you do…and you can’t explain it. I can’t explain it. The lady seems like she could be my mother..or my grandmother even. She has that familiar way in which she speaks and leads her life that gives me those nostalgic feels. Just that basic good home life, raised by good people trying to do good by their kids and grandkids, great memories, and a loving environment all around that far outweighs the troubles. A family that really tries. A family that loves before hates. Different in many ways…but the same. She’s amazing in that she speaks so much of her family….but beside her family, has led such an amazing life before that. She was married to an NFL football player…she worked for the singer of Tool!! Can I say that again….SHE WORKED FOR THE SINGER OF TOOL!! My all time favorite rock group. She owned a restaurant…owns a cabin in the woods. She is friends to some very amazing people.  Yet….here she sits in front of a camera…talks about her dogs, her grandbaby, and Jesus. Yes JESUS!! Oh God..this woman could be a Pastor. And what I love about her is she gets passionately involved in the topic and yet doesn’t come off fake or phony at all. She pushes no agendas. She doesn’t judge. She just speaks from her heart and I adore her for that. 

Moving on…because I am so captivated by this woman…I enjoy and take in many of the advice and tidbits of life that she has shared in her vlogs. I treat her like a member of my family…her and I have had lengthy correspondence back and forth. She’s given me a few shout outs!! So yeah….she creates these Jesus vlogs while in her own reflective time with God and they have got me thinking. Thinking about my own spiritual journey and what I want to take from this world. I was born and raised Catholic. My Uncle is a Catholic Priest..and I can honestly say I don’t do the man proud at all. I’m probably more of a shame to him than anything. I don’t go to church as regularly as I should. I don’t have my kids in CCD classes. I didn’t marry in a church. I did nothing that a Catholic is suppose to do. I live in conflict. BUT, I do have a personal relationship with God…or so I want to believe. I pray all the time. I believe….I have faith. For the past few weeks I’ve wondered if that was enough. So with enough questioning..the best thing to do is to seek out what you need to know, right??

One of the things that I shared with this woman was the fact that I recently dealt with some family issues. And so within those issues religion was used as a weapon to call me and my family out as being “in the wrong”. Using bible passages to validate their arguments…you know the whole “reap what you sow” many Christians most famously sought out and loved bible passage to justify saying “I hope you get your Karma and I hope it bites you in the ass for it”. Sharing facebook posts of Christian sermons that express this very topic. Every quote imaginable that was bible based used and shared to continue this warfare. And it doesn’t end. I’m not proud to say that I couldn’t believe it when I found myself using my religion to do the exact same. I actually went there once or twice….but then I wised up and thought how ridiculously stupid this all is. So I stopped…and I just moved on and I left those people alone…and then I thought…I could use some Jesus in my life and it has nothing to do with the haters. I just want to do it for me cause I realized…we all get that stupid. We all are that ignorant. We all sit around justifying ourselves and using God as that weapon to do so. Surely there is more to our purpose here on earth than to go around proclaiming “I’m good…I’m a good person…I didn’t do this…you did that…you didn’t do this…you should do that”. And maybe I shouldn’t say “we all” because that’s not true. Some people get it right. Many people get it right. Many people use their faith as it should be..and that is not to use it simply because they can..not to self serve themselves to attack others with but rather as a guidance for their own lives and the purpose behind those lives. I had a moment…and I wanted to ride with that moment because it felt right. It feels right.

So thanks to this wonderful Youtuber woman (and certain lovely family members. I don’t want to discredit all the people that root for me on a daily in my real life that also guide me and give me faithful inspiration…family members you know who you are) I came to a decision that I wanted to read my bible like I read any other book I enjoy. Cover to Cover..every single word I know and don’t know…I wanted to read this book and understand it. I wanted to get to know every story and it’s meaning and not just take snippets of passages and make my own assumptions. And this is not for anyone else but for myself. I don’t want to fight with people. I don’t want to hide behind what my religion says we should be but then not actually be it all. I don’t want to use something I have no real knowledge in and take it for myself as a weapon. I want to believe so much that that is not what my faith is about. “Keeping it real with you” isn’t a coined term to use when you feel the need to judge others for where and why and what they lack in life. God bless the ones that do..but I don’t want to be one of those people. God didn’t give us the right to appoint ourselves one of his employees the moment we think we are living life “right” and use that time to come down on others.  I want to learn more about myself because there is more to learn. I want to know more about my faith because I love my grandparents and the fact that it was so important to them to instill those values in us all should be motivation enough. I want to learn about how to be a better human being because there’s nothing wrong with wanting that and there’s nothing wrong with accepting that I made mistakes and want to make them less. I want to be productive and valued and it doesn’t mean I have to go out and do something amazing…it can truly just mean that I can do the little things but do them well. I want to learn the Bible just because I do and not because I want to use it to fight with people or to justify my own actions.

And so I just finished all of Genesis last week. It was wonderful. It was complicated. It was a bit mundane…I’m not going to lie…but it was wonderful to take a few hours of my morning for meditation and reflection and read…and then do a little Bible study from it via the internet. I use to be so confused by the words and now (although I still get confused) I find myself relating and understanding…and feeling great about it. Like I can literally sit here and discuss what I just read…like I do any other book. I can’t say enough great words about the feels….ALL THE FEELS I get from it. Now I’m onto Exodus…and enjoying it just the same if not more. By enjoying…I don’t mean enjoying like one enjoys watching a Star Wars movie…but enjoy in the fact that I find these stories much more beautiful and meaningful than taking snippets and quotes and pretending that I know they are meant for me and what is going on in my life. Now I am able to read an entire story and see how this relates to the world today…or see how this can matter to my own life. Again, I just want to be a better me and not at the expense of some idiot that throws the bible at me to tell me I am a bad guy. And I don’t want to resort to being that bad guy either. I only owe my explanations to God. And God is the only one that I will ask my forgiving to. I’ve already learned so much from this so far…and it has already fulfilled me with such blessing and feelings of hope and comfort. And listen…if you are not religious..faithful…spiritual…I get it…I don’t expect you to understand and I totally see why you’d think I’m just another corny Bible Thumper preaching the “Word” of make believe land. I did the same..probably will do the same from time to time. I’m not here to preach….just know that this blog and this particular message is not for you.

But wanting to continue with educating myself..with motivating myself..with fixing all the things about me…I wanted to read even more. Now…I know…the bible is the only book we need. But I’m an avid reader…we always want more books. We always want many stories and many reading journeys and we can never just settle for one. I had an opportunity via one of the book blogging sites I am a part of to request some Christian books. So I did. But although I was granted this particular  book..it never came. I was going to move on and read something else. But I decided to check the web and see if I can find the book as an ebook (which I absolutely don’t like ebooks but I made an exception for) and read it. I did. And yeah…..

The Heist: How Grace Robs Us Of Our Shame by Chris Durso. Just really interested me. The title…something I’ve thought about and questioned and wondered and so why not learn more about it. I can’t review the cover…I never got my physical copy. But from the pics via internet…standard Christian cover. Nothing fancy. Just a cover. 6746045_2191801

The content. Let’s just say….I’m sticking with the Bible for now. Well…I’m sticking with the bible because I intend on finishing every single page of it as my previously mentioned faithful goal. So what I mean is…although it was an interesting and informative read…I don’t think I am quite there yet. But yes..for those that are…it’s quite an interesting read. And this is not to say that it didn’t serve its purpose with me…it absolutely did. I intend on reading it again at a later time..when I am fully ready for it. Chris Durso, the author, is also the founder of MISFIT NYC. 72dd41ba33dc17517aeb0e217c9fc227He and his wife, youth Pastors for MISFITS as well as for Christ Tabernacle in Queens. 10 chapters devoted to solid Christian, Gospel based thoughts on why where we go wrong, why we go astray and what we should do to get back to our God filled purpose. He’s one of those hipster looking pastors whose cool style draws in many of what is  termed “Millennials”.  But he’s got some faith based experience. He’s not just speaking to be cool or popular. He has a purpose. One of the things that really drew me in….the term “Brokenness”. I had just watched a sermon (not his sermon) on YouTube of just this topic and it really got me in my feels. A punch to the gut…a few tears shed…the feeling of brokenness has hit me more than ever in these past few years but I never had a name for it. So to read it in this book…I enjoyed knowing I can resonate with it. I understood what he was trying to tell us and I was not offended by it either. Many times I have read a Christian based book and felt annoyed by the content or could not partake in it’s cheesy corniness. That was not the case with this read. It was to the point, straight forward, and did not make nice to spread an opinion where it mattered. I can respect that from a book like this. Actually at some points the message scared me a little….but that’s a topic for another time…my fear with my own religion.

To the point and hard hitting. To sum it up…one of it’s official descriptions of this book:

a daring raid where God’s son took back what the enemy had stolen, freeing us from the power of shame, sin, and Satan.

If you are ready for some Christian based lashing of why we are going wrong as a people. If you just want to dive into the mind of someone elses opinions on the matter then I say this is an interesting reading journey to partake in.

As always, peace, love, and happy readings.

 

I want to give credit to the peeps over at bloggingforbooks for my copy of this book because I did request it with them..however I never received my copy. But I did see this book via their site, and it did encourage me to go out and find the book for myself so in that I give them credit and owe my review to them for that reason.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving         

House Of Eternal Chaos…Street Of Eternal Happiness

Another day in the life. Does parenthood ever really slow down??!! Not in my world. I have often, in the past 3 years, found myself telling my husband “Sometimes I want to put these damn kids in a box, put that box away, and open it another time..when I am ready”. Life is hard…life is harder to deal with when you have kids because it’s a parents duty to pretend that nothing is wrong when things actually are. It’s a parents duty to tackle all the rough stuff and never let your kids see you sweat. Ever the saying a parent hears is that if a kid sees any struggle within a family they grow up with a complex..and it’s all your fault as a parent so we do every thing we can to not let that happen…but it’s inevitable sometimes. It’s life. And we can’t just get rid of our kids every time something grueling happens. We gotta work through it and with them in tow. That’s what family is all about. We don’t leave each other. We don’t give up on each other. And we don’t put each other into a box to store away….

Disclaimer…there is nothing major going on in my life to warrant my children getting severe complexes as adults nor reasons for them to be given away or put in a box for that matter. My husband and I make mistakes but we try our best and I am pretty confident that my kids know it and feel it and will grow up understanding that. We communicate with them the best that we can. We provide for them everything they need and even most times what they don’t need. They have Xbox, high calorie and extra yummy snacks, clean beds, Netflix, electricity and hot meals on the daily. No worries in the world except for the new school year fast approaching that they are not happy about (I’m not happy about either…school supply shopping and clothes….Aaaargh). But even still it’s the daily struggles that lead to marital arguments ( in front of the kiddos sometimes), dissension with outside family members (made public via family gatherings), financial setbacks (bills upon bills upon bills that never end), teenage drama (my two oldest showing my two youngest all the very things we don’t want our two youngest to know just yet)…all that. Yep..a day in the life. And it’s all good. It really is. There are those bad times…like really really bad times. But for the most part…it’s good bad stuff if that makes any sense. MANAGEABLE CHAOS!!

Chaos Chaos Chaos…So here’s the mini vent: I have a 19 year old son that has been out of the house for a few months. Living with friends and thinking that he can get by on his own. Mind you…he has not called to ask for anything. Still…I can’t help but feel like he actually does need me but his damn pride is in the way and won’t allow him to admit it. I worry that he is not eating enough, doesn’t have enough gas money, doesn’t have toiletries, doesn’t have clean clothes, doesn’t have the survival sense enough to not get beat up, mugged, incarcerated, or killed. I worry, worry, worry and he could care less. And there’s the advice I get all the time…that unwarranted advice/opinions to a mother, about a mother, from every family member (and sometimes non-family members) that think they know what goes on in your house…letting you know that you are not doing enough so do more or you did not do enough and you should have done more…oh but let me just make you feel bad for it and remind you that you suck at life..and parenting. And okay..I’m getting salty. But yeah…that shitty advice. I could also use a Parenting manual from all them “perfect parents” and a time machine…but that’s not going to happen.

With that drama weighing the heaviest in my heart and mind…I have the fun chaos of parenting the rest of my tribe. What a colorful tribe they are. My 6 year old can’t stop stealing mine and his older sisters lip glosses to plump his little lips with. Yes…my wild child. Plays with “army dude” action figures while prancing around the house in high heels and lip gloss. He loves to be rough and tumble in his retired toddler blanket capes and painted toes. He hides our money for no reason at all and we spend weeks trying to find it. I just found the $20 bill I had placed on the top of my shelf for an emergency that I was certain my husband forgot that he spent but claimed that he did not. I had to apologize to my husband, profusely. I hate doing shit profusely especially when it’s at the mercy of someone’s forgiveness. I think Mr. 6 year old also wants to be an art dealer when he grows up as he has taken to drawing images on paper and then placing it in the upstairs hallway for all to see. IMG_1098We have quite the collection now. This came about when he discovered the wonderful invention of scotch tape. The fabulous world of my 6 year old….a world where things get broken on a daily, couches get jumped on, and life is never ever boring.

As for my 9 year old….anxiety and OCD is at an all time high this summer. We were suppose to be using these few months figuring out ways to provide him the best treatment, routine, and action plan via his pediatrician so that way we can be better prepared this school year…but yeah…there’s other things taking higher priority. Dental work. All three kids…dental work. And it’s not for anything major…just catch- up from the 2 years we spent neglecting to go. Visiting the dentist every two weeks makes it near impossible for my husband to skip out on work for anything else. Days off are not spent at home lounging and recovering. NOPE. He spends it at the dentist with the kiddos getting work done. I am the biggest burden in that mess in that I don’t drive. Phobia. But it matters not, because truth be told, we only have one vehicle at the moment and my husband needs it for work. Not all postal workers get one of those queer looking box cars. Most have to use their own vehicle..and in our case it’s our family vehicle…and it’s getting tons and tons of wear and tear because of it. So much wear and tear we replace the brakes once a month, the tires sometimes twice a month, and all the rest is slowly falling apart. But yeah..the 9 year old is at his worst with anxiety. He has a new OCD habit of wanting to paint all his action figures with his sisters nail polishes. He can’t wait for help so he does it himself secretly. Let’s just say my main restroom has turned into his workshop and I have glow in the dark splotches of nail polish inside my toilet dripped from a project or two or 20. Why bother removing it….it’s going to happen again. He checks the weather every morning religiously so he can prepare for storms. Preparing involves turning all the t.v’s on in the house as loud as I allow so he doesn’t hear thunder, keeping the flashlight, blankets, food, and headphones close, and doing checks on them every 15 minutes. “Yep…still where you left them all…okay we’ll check again in 15 more minutes. No please don’t cry. I’m not annoyed with you.”  He panics for every bang and bump he hears in the house and he refuses to go outside for fear that something will happen while his daddy is away. So indoor time is a dilemma, my electricity bill is something to cry about, but I’m here, I’m home with my kiddies. I get to be in this moment with them. It’s not good for the budget struggling with one income…but no amount of money is worth time without my kids. As my husband and I always say “We’ll figure it out..we’ll figure out how to pay it.” whenever the looming thought of me needing to work becomes our topic of the day. Chaos Chaos Chaos.

And so in the meantime as I listen to my 9 year old in the background saying, “Daddy broke his promise” because daddy was suppose to get off of work early enough to pick him up and take him to the Lego store before they close and he has been up since 8 a.m staring at the clock, praying out loud, and waiting…all for a teeny tiny, not worth the amount of money it cost, Lego Battle Droid that he already owns several of…but that damn OCD won’t let him move on from just one freakin’ more. Aaaaargh. (by the way, daddy did not break his promise…on the way home from work, that’s in another town mind you, he got another flat tire during traffic, temporarily fixed it and rushed home in time to grab Lil’ OCD…let’s hope they get in on time).  I’m sitting here with just one kid (eating sherbet ice cream)…thinking about the book I just read. Received it about a day ago in the mail…read it during the night…and into the morning. Street Of Eternal Happiness. Because nothing reminds you more to appreciate your own life and relish (and mustard and ketchup. Insider) in the little things like a good book based on another culture that goes through possibly way more struggles than our own does (our own if you are living in the United States). It’s been on my radar. I had to read it. Didn’t think it was going to be sooner rather than later..but yeah. Read it. Did I love it??

Well, is it shallow of me to say that I fell in love with that cover??!! It’s absolutely adorable and I can’t stop looking and smiling at such a cute kid. Very much dressed like the YouTube videos that I am obsessed with…gotcha days!! Gotcha days are days when a a family go to another country (mostly impoverished area) and adopt a child that has been living in an orphanage. Tear jerker videos….I can’t get enough of them. The adopted child, upon being introduced to the family, is always wearing a unique style of winter wear. Nothing I’ve seen here. Almost like skiing clothes. It’s not important. Just something I’ve noticed that is unique to the way the children are dressed there. Very layered…poofy, and most time the first thing the parents do is strip them of the thick garb and place something lighter on them. So yeah..it reminds me very much of that. And I suppose if you are promoting a book about happiness it doesn’t get much better than this beautiful smiling and joyous child. IMG_1104

The content: I could not wait. Again..upon receiving it I immediately jumped right in. A little blurb/description I read that had me interested: 

An unforgettable portrait of individuals who hope, struggle, and grow along a single street cutting through the heart of China’s most exhilarating metropolis, from one of the most acclaimed broadcast journalists reporting on China today.

A work of non-fiction. Rob Schmitz, a journalist, a China correspondent for American Public Media’s Marketplace, and author, he begins this particular journey on what is dubbed the  “Streets of Eternal Happiness” which was a french district of Shanghai. In beautiful and vivid description Rob gives us the view of all he has witnessed and experienced in this little world.  A well thought out account of his days here in Shanghai..the rich traditions, the beauty of it’s people, the hardships and economic struggles and the move for advancement, growth, and expansion as is the case for every spot on this earth it seems. Gone are the little hole-in-the-walls that make up simple living. Here comes the big bad corporate run buildings and investments. Rob Schmitz’s writing makes me yearn for a world that I have never witnessed. Each person he describes he describes with much respect and love for who they are and what they serve in this community. I was captivated from the beginning and it did not leave me even after the last page was read. Rob’s journalistic style of informing is beautiful and serves it’s purpose to inform us of the environment around him.

On one hand we see the beauty of the people and their daily routines…the simplistic nature of their lives and the world they occupy….but not to deflect from another reality…the hardships that they face..the oppression at the hands of their government…the difficulties of being a truly financially poor society…the greed and the wonderful people that suffer it. This book gives beauty..but it’s also raw in its reality. I was moved by this book….moved, brought to tears, and appreciative of what I have, sorrow for what my little world doesn’t have. I live in a hustle bustle big city..within the confines of a comfortable little neighborhood on what use to be the outskirts of town but is now growing at such a rapid rate it is mind blowing…truly mind blowing. Within 5 years of living in my neighborhood I have witnessed such growth…what use to be an area that got rather eerily dark at night due to lack of street lights and lots of uncharted roads is now a booming community of stores and shopping malls. H.E.B is our biggest grocery chain. Most popular in Texas..it is about as big a company as Walmart. I literally live within only a few miles of 4 of those (within a few miles of 3 Walmarts). Two of those stores within walking distance in opposite direction of my house. All four of those stores less than 5 minutes away from my house. How…what…why is that even necessary??!! We are currently dealing with construction for the build of two major shopping malls in my neighborhood. It’s insanity. And much needed??!! I truly don’t know anymore. We are a spoiled country. And all other growing countries are quick to follow suit. All want that modern world…as the little people who maintain following hundreds of years old traditions gets trampled on. Growth is suppose to be exciting, suppose to be good, suppose to mean prospects and opportunities….but does it really??!! Sometimes it just gets all too intoxicating even to think about.

The people in this book..you will fall in love with. You will want to know more about them…you will demand you get an update on their lives in the next few years. Quaint, quirky, and unique people…you will find yourself very much wanting to know this world. The environment, the history, the culture. A small book…with a lot of story in it. Beautiful…an appreciative read. Loved it from beginning to end.

Sold anywhere books are sold. The smiles you give this read will follow…

So that’s my take on Streets of Eternal Happiness. I’m currently reading Fractured by Catherine McKenzie. I won it via a facebook giveaway and I was given the IMG_1102opportunity to select which of the author’s books I wanted. Fractured seemed something I would enjoy. So far so good…but also so far so confused. I’ve never read anything by McKenzie so I have nothing to compare this book to in terms of what her usual writing style is. This particular book is easy enough to follow and yet for some reason I keep getting warbled with the dialect. That’s probably just me. Maybe I need a reading breather. Still, it’s an intriguing read and I anticipate finishing this book within a day because it flows that smoothly. Review coming soon….

As always, Peace, Love, and Happy Readings!!

 

Thanks as always to the wonderful peeps at bloggingforbooks and to Rob Schmitz for my free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to which I gladly and voluntarily gave and will continue to give on other reading sites!!