Category Archives: 2019

CGB Book Club: Good Morning, Good Life #2

This book club is being run by my friend, Cindy Guentert-Baldo, on her Facebook group: Llamas Love Lettering. She will be doing livestreams every Saturday at 9 am PST (12 pm EST), and will send out an email the prior Tuesday, so you know what to read.

Week 2! I just received the email notice for Week 3 this Saturday, which reminded me to post for Week 2. Last Saturday, I was at an all-day planner event getting set up for the new year.

Good Morning, Good Life: 5 Simple Habits to Master Your Mornings and Upgrade Your Life

Our assignment this week is to read Chapter 1: Decide. Here are the questions that Cindy gave us to think about while we read:

  1. What is your “why”? Only share what you are comfortable sharing.
    I think I’m still working this out, but I want my life to matter, to have a positive influence on others.
  2. How did you feel when Amy shared what her “why” was? Did you feel a little judgy, or maybe relieved that her why wasn’t some Pinterest-worthy altruistic concoction?
    I guess I was a little surprised that she was so blunt about it, but it’s not a bad thing. She has a vision for her life and decided that acquiring the resources to make it happen is her motivation. Good for her. I just know for myself that acquiring wealth is *not* a motivator.
  3. What is it you truly need out of your mornings (really, out of your days)? Not what your family needs or your boss needs or your significant other needs… what is it YOU need?
    To be able to end my day with a sense of accomplishment, or to know that my day had meaning and purpose? I probably need more time to reflect upon this.

“The more you beat down your belief in your ability to know what is right for you, the more you start to think you don’t actually know.”

Pg. 28

Amy suggests removing some decision fatigue from your life, so you can concentrate on the important decisions. Some ways she suggests are to lay out your clothes for the next day at bedtime, creating a “usual order” for your morning beverage, and scheduling your exercise time.

She provides an interview with someone about his morning routine. My biggest take-away from that was when he was asked what helps him the most to get a productive start to the day. He replied that it was gratitude. “Think about the things that you are grateful for and you’ll be more motivated to do the things that you need to do.”

At the end of the chapter, Amy gives us 5 questions to help us discover our Why:

  1. What’s a moment that you remember being truly excited about something?
    I seem to be the most excited about interacting with others. It sounds silly, but I am a true extrovert at heart. Nothing makes me happier than being around others and sharing our experiences. Take this weekend for example: I went to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village. It was super cute and there was a lot to do and see; however, it was made 1000x better because I was there with friends. I could really feel all of the joy, awe, and wonder of Christmas because I was sharing the experience. This is probably also why I blog, photograph, and post on social media: not for attention, but to be able to connect with others.
  2. Think of something that has sparked passion in you, what was it?
    My goddaughter and her sisters, photography, blogging, reading, being a part of the Planners Gone Wild community…
  3. What do you need more of in your life that you’re a little (or a lot) afraid to say out loud?
    Focus? I picked that for my “word of the year” since I allow myself to get distracted and sidelined a lot in my personal life.
  4. What’s the real reason you need more of those things in your life?
    We only have so much time. I’d rather fill my life with things that are truly important than with filler. I want to have made an impact and a difference (for the better) in other people’s lives.
  5. At the end of your life, what would you like to be able to say about how you spent your time?
    That I loved God, I loved others, and I gave 100% of myself every day.

My question to myself right now is:

If I had a lousy day and were sick and feeling miserable, what would it take for me to feel good about my day in spite of that? I think some part of that is to give myself the grace to not be on top of my game every day, but I think there is also some room to redefine what a “good day” looks like.

This reminds me of the concept of redemptive suffering. Even when you feel useless and powerless, you truly are not. See also: On Passivity vs Activity in Suffering.

See you soon for Part #3!

CGB Book Club: Good Morning, Good Life #1

This book club is being run by my friend, Cindy Guentert-Baldo, on her Facebook group: Llamas Love Lettering. She will be doing livestreams every Saturday at 9 am PST (12 pm EST), and will send out an email the prior Tuesday, so you know what to read.

Of course, I’m coming into this a tad late. No surprise there. The first livestream went up yesterday, so I watched the first few minutes of it, then paused the video so I could read the Intro (our homework), then follow along with the replay. And, I started writing this blog. Because I love to distract myself.

Good Morning, Good Life: 5 Simple Habits to Master Your Mornings and Upgrade Your Life

Here are the three questions that Cindy provided for us to reflect upon while we read the Intro:

  1. Do you consider yourself a morning person? Why or why not?
    I do consider myself to be a morning person. This is when I am most productive and have the most energy. When on vacation, my roommates can attest that I’m generally one of the first people out of bed and out the door (and typically on my way to Starbucks…). I’m actually one of those *annoying* morning people who is super cheerful upon waking up. Unfortunately for me, I don’t generally have time to do all the things around the house before I need to go to work; and then don’t feel like doing them when I get home. #messyhouse #thankgodformymom
  2. What is it you’d like to get out of a morning routine?
    It would be nice to not have to run around stressed out in the mornings, and probably better for me if I have a routine of taking my meds, having more coffee at home ($tarbuck$), and in general, feeling more prepared for my day.
  3. Which of the five habits Amy discusses in the Introduction do you think is going to be the most difficult for you to incorporate?
    Rise. LOL! I’m notorious for setting a bunch of alarms, then justifying sleeping in longer. I even set my alarm to require me to do high-level math problems to get it to shut off. Turns out, they were too easy. *sigh* Plus, who wants to get out of bed when the house is cold??

“…To build the life I wanted, I had to do more than just show up for everyone else… I have to show up and choose myself.”

Pg. xii

Amy gives an example of jumping out of bed and immediately rushing to work, something which I do all too frequently. Mostly, because I only allot myself about 4-5 hours of sleep per night. ūüôā

“What if the first task of the day was to make myself happy?”

This is an interesting question. I’m not particularly motivated by seeking out my own happiness. In “The Four Tendencies” language, I’m an Obliger and am primarily motivated by what I can do for others, and am best at keeping external vs. internal commitments.

The 5 Habits:

  1. Decide: Choose for yourself what you want your mornings to look like. A good “why” will help keep you motivated.
  2. Defy: Combat your personal obstacles.
  3. Rise: Actually get up. (LOL!)
  4. Shine: Build the morning of your dreams.
  5. Thrive: “We are here to live a life. Not just a morning.”

See you soon for Part #2!

Thanos Snap

This afternoon, I finished the fiction book I had been reading over the past few weeks and debated what I was going to pick up next. It had been the end of a series and I didn’t really want to jump right into some other fictional world just yet.

I drifted from bookcase to bookcase, glossing over titles and colored spines. Finally, I landed on a volume on my Catholic bookcase, “Apostle of the Crucified Lord,” by Michael J. Gorman. This is a book from my Pauline literature course at Seminary. We had read a good quantity of the book, but not everything. Perhaps now would be a good time to go back and read the remaining pages?

Apostle of the Crucified Lord by Michael J. Gorman

As with most of my Catholic books, I have underlined and annotated the pages as I have read, so I know that reading through the remaining pages will take me more time than reading a work of fiction. I think that I want to turn this more into a reflection/Bible study as well, so the sections where we are going to examine, E.g. Galatians, I want to read that chapter in the Bible before reading that part of the book.

Just as a disclaimer before I begin: I am not sure if I will share the entirety of my reading/studying experience here, and I will likely *not* complete the study questions at the end of each chapter. However, if I do write more blog posts for this book, I’ll tag them with apostleofthecrucifiedlord, so that you can find them more easily. ūüôā

Now, for what caused me to write this blog post in the first place. I was reading about Paul’s conversion, and how he went from being a zealous persecutor of the early Christians to a zealous evangelist for Christianity, especially to the Gentiles. We probably all know the story: Paul was riding to Damascus, had a vision of the Lord, fell off his horse (was there really a horse, though?), and was blinded, etc.

As overly dramatic as that might sound to modern ears, it is clear that Saul/Paul had some intense encounter with the Lord and a swift change of heart. And, thinking about it, his experience does have some similarities to my own conversion. (You can read a little more about my joining the church here.) But, basically, I woke up one morning and without really knowing what the Catholic church was about and not knowing any Catholics, I had the conviction that I was going to be Catholic. It wasn’t really a decision, but more like a recognition of an inner truth. I haven’t looked back or questioned a thing since that day.

Prevenient Grace: The species of actual grace which, as an illumination or inspiration of the Holy Spirit, precedes the free determination of the will. It is held to mark the beginning of all activity leading to justification, which cannot be achieved without it, but its acceptance or rejection depends on man’s free choice.

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

By prevenient grace, the Holy Spirit flipped a switch in me that day. As I read I came across this, “A conversion may be defined, more fully, as a radical reorientation of one’s fundamental commitment that is expressed in three things: convictions, or belief; conduct, or behavior; and community affiliation, or belonging.”

It doesn’t always feel that I had this radical reorientation, but my life is definitely very different and my faith has colored every aspect of my thoughts and actions. Instead, it feels comfortable and inevitable, like *of course* this is how things were always supposed to be. However, the reality is more like the drama as Paul tells it. Whether it felt momentous or not, the Holy Spirit did a Thanos Snap on me that day and my life has never been the same. Thanks be to God!

Doing Something I Love

Last week, I had a meeting on the main medical campus and took the bus there from my office. On the way back at the end of the day, I got extremely nauseated – I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position and die. Instead of commuting home right away, I thought to take some photos of the fall leaves in the Arboretum. But there was no great place to park, and I wasn’t up to a lot of hiking, so I eventually decided to go to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens instead, with the idea of walking through the woods there.

I didn’t make it that far. I went into the Conservatory, and started snapping away with my iPhone. I’ve photographed Matthaei a bunch of times, but I always enjoy it. Here are (some of) the fruits of my afternoon:

I even edited my photos, uploaded them to an actual album on Flickr, and made them into a photo book via Blurb. It’s nice to do something you love to do, every now and then. ūüôā

Good Job, Brain, But Why?

My mind is an interesting place sometimes.

Take last night. I was dreaming, and at one point, I came up with the concept of sinks in elevators. Not tiny sinks, but full length counters with full sinks, like you would find in a master bathroom, with running water.

Then, I started working out how I would get running water and plumbing into an elevator car that traversed up and down multiple floors.

Because that’s what my brain does. Obviously, I need to work out viable engineering options for things like this in my sleep.

I came up with two fairly workable solutions before I woke up.

Do I Have That Book? Challenge

A lot of people on YouTube are doing this Do I Have That Book? Challenge. The premise is that you have a list of 20 questions and you have to search your bookshelves to find books that meet the criteria within the shortest amount of time.

Original Tag Video from Keeping Tabs: https://youtu.be/e4YnTYrGs48

But I found it by watching Kayla from Books and Lala, Jesse from Jesse the Reader, and Lala and Emma from Emmmabooks.

Challenge Questions:
1. Do you have a book with deckled edges?
2. Do you have a book with 3 or more people on the cover?
3. Do you have a book based on another fictional story?
4. Do you have a book with a title 10 letters long?
5. Do you have a book with a title that starts and ends with the same letter?
6. Do you have a Mass Market Paperback book?
7. Do you have a book written by an author using a pen name?
8. Do you have a book with a character’s name in the title?
9. Do you have a book with 2 maps in it?
10. Do you have a book that was turned into a TV show?
11. Do you have a book written by someone who is originally famous for something else? (celebrity/athlete/politician/tv personality…)
12. Do you have a book with a clock on the cover?
13. Do you have a poetry book?
14. Do you have a book with an award stamp on it?
15. Do you have a book written by an author with the same initials as you?
16. Do you have a book of short stories?
17. Do you have a book that is between 500-510 pages long?
18. Do you have a book that was turned into a movie?
19. Do you have a graphic novel?
20. Do you have a book written by 2 or more authors?

Video is not my preferred medium, but I did complete this challenge. Here are my receipts:

2. Do you have a book with 3 or more people on the cover?
Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline
4. Do you have a book with a title 10 letters long?
Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy
5. Do you have a book with a title that starts and ends with the same letter
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
6. Do you have a Mass Market Paperback book?
Executive Orders by Tom Clancy
7. Do you have a book written by an author using a pen name?
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
8. Do you have a book with a character’s name in the title?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

9. Do you have a book with 2 maps in it? Yes! Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff has several maps throughout!

10. Do you have a book that was turned into a TV show? Not that I could find during the challenge, although after the fact, I probably could have also used City of Bones for this prompt, too.

11. Do you have a book written by someone who is originally famous for something else?
Living with Honor by Salvatore A. Giunta
Famous for being awarded the Medal of Honor

12. Do you have a book with a clock on the cover? Not that I could find.

13. Do you have a poetry book? Not that I could find.

14. Do you have a book with an award stamp on it? I’m sure I do somewhere, but after spending too much time looking, I gave up.

15. Do you have a book written by an author with the same initials as you?
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
16. Do you have a book of short stories?
Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke
18. Do you have a book that was turned into a movie?
The Martian by Andy Weir

I finished my challenge in 12 minutes, 18 seconds and had a score of 16/20! Please link your video/post in the comments; I’d love to see how you did!

June 4 – Cheese Day!

I love these Wacky Holiday stickers from Once More with Love! I always intend to blog about them, but am continually distracted.

Tomorrow is Cheese Day, which is funny because when I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work today, that’s pretty much all I bought: white cheddar popcorn, shaved parmesan, shredded cheddar…. So, I guess that means that I’m all set to celebrate tomorrow!

As far as cheeses go, I tend to prefer drier cheese. My favorite string cheese is the low-moisture, light Sargento brand – anything else seems to be too oily or waxy.

What kind of cheese do you prefer?

Save the Dates! Reread-a-thon: March 10-16, 2019!

In¬†a¬†hurry?¬†Skip¬†below¬†for¬†the¬†details of the challenges and giveaways…

Make sure to follow the Reread-a-thon Twitter! @rereadathon2019

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m a competitive person. Mostly with myself, but I’m always game to join a challenge.

I’ve also been a bookworm my entire life. Growing up, it was rare to see me without a book. My mom would have to chase me out of the house to make me play and experience the sunshine. Of course, my mom was also a big reader (and still is!) and taught me to read at the dinner table and basically any time I had a free moment.

One huge difference between our reading styles is that my mom does not hang on to any books. She reads them, then gets rid of them. If she accidentally picks up a book that she’s read before, she will toss it aside as soon as she realizes it.

I’m the complete opposite.

Characters in books are beloved friends and I enjoy revisiting them often. I’ve read The¬†Martian about 30 times, so you know that Mark Watney and I are tight. ūüôā

When I heard that Merphy Napier was organizing a Reread-a-thon, I knew that I had to be a part of this! I jumped at the opportunity to host a day and can’t wait to participate alongside my co-hosts throughout the week! This is going to be so much fun!

The Details

The Reread-a-thon will take place from March 10-16, 2019.

Challenges:

There are seven challenges over the seven days, but you are not required to read seven books! ¬†You can double or triple the challenges for books, or, you don‚Äôt even have to do the challenges!! ¬†This is all for fun, so read a much or as little as you want ūüôā

  • Giving a Book a Second Chance
  • A Recent Favorite
  • An Old Favorite
  • A Game Changing Book
  • An Underrated/Unpopular Book
  • A Childhood Favorite
  • A Popular Book

Hosts:

Make sure to follow the hosts of the day on each platform (Blog, Insta, and YouTube) to enter giveaways! (Prizes and how to enter will be determined by each host – make sure to follow them and follow the Reread-a-thon on Twitter @Rereadathon2019, for updates, reading sprints, and more!)

Sunday, March 10 – Game Changer
A book that opened your eyes to / made you love a new genre.


Monday, March 11 РGiving a Book a Second Chance


Tuesday, March 12 РNew Favorite


Wednesday, March 13 РOld Favorite


Thursday, March 14 РUnderrated/Unpopular Book


Friday, March 15 РPopular Book


Saturday, March 16 РChildhood Favorite

Happy Re-reading!

Books Read in January 2019

After nearly a month off, I am back to work and my days are falling into a familiar rhythm. I’m fairly pleased with the reading I’ve done this month. Quite a bit of Jennifer L. Armentrout – more than anticipated!

Stats

This month, I read 9 books, with a total of 3,897 pages! That’s just one book off my 10 book/month goal, if I’m going to meet my Goodreads goal of 120 books read this year. Pretty good so far!

That’s about 125.7 pages/day.

  • 2 ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ
  • 4 ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ
  • 3 ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ
  • 0 ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ
  • 0 ‚ėÖ
  • Average Star Rating: 3.9
  • 0 Children’s books vs. 9 YA/Adult
  • 4 E-books vs. 2 Audio vs. 3 Physical books
    • This is not terribly surprising to me, as I am back to work and spend a lot of time commuting or away from home.
    • I read 18/31 days reading on my Kindle in January.
    • It’s kind of interesting that all 3 of my physical books this month are a hue of blue.
  • 0 e-ARCs; 0 Library books; 8 Owned books; 1 Subscription book – To be fair the library was closed for much of the month for some renovations.

Books Read

I’ve added the book reviews as links below, to try and shorten the length of the monthly wrap-up posts, and hopefully encourage me to post them as I finish reading throughout the month, instead of waiting and having a pile to do all at once. Let me know what you think of the new format in the comments. Thanks!

  1. Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
    1. ‚ÄúSporks are only used in the most dire situations.‚ÄĚ
  2. Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  3. This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
    1. This was a really cute read! I loved the friend group and the dynamic between each of the friends. I felt that the characterization was well done. The banter in this book was great!
    2. (Longer review to come.)
  4. Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  5. Oblivion by Jennifer L. Armentrout
    1. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs all I ever need to hear.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúThose three words?‚ÄĚ she asked. ‚ÄúAlways those three words.‚ÄĚ
  6. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
  7. The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
  8. The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  9. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
    1. “No matter how old you are, no matter how ready you think you are, nothing quite prepares you for the loss of a parent.”

January TBR Books I Didn’t Get To

  • Burying Water by K. A. Tucker
    • This one almost doesn’t count, since I finished it at 3 am on February 1st.
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
    • This is a long book! It makes it more difficult to read in bed and carry around with me, so I didn’t get as much of a chance to read it. Then, I would start another book while away from home and want to finish that read.
    • I’m currently only 61 pages into it and still figuring things out. I’m sure once I know what’s going on, I’ll pick up the pace and knock this one out.