Friday, December 22, 2017

Candlelight Mornings

This morning is the first "everybody sleeps in" morning of the holidays.  No exams for my last school-age child and late night re-runs of Friends mean she'll be down till noon or later.  The oldest is in her bed downstairs as well.  We sat with her a while last night as she wrapped gifts and watched That 70s Show.  I do not need to get pulled into another tv show.  That's for sure...but it's good to spend time with my girls doing things they like to do...and it's even better that sometimes they don't mind me doing those things with them.
I'm not a perfect mom.  I hope I'm done trying to be.  All I can do is go from here.
Happiness and resilience may be the best gifts I can give them anyway.

We closed on our house yesterday.
Owning two houses at the same time was not great.  It created a lot of stress and lack of funds. Yeesh.  We are both incredibly glad that our house sold quickly.  We know that's not the case with a lot of people who have to buy before selling their old house.

I struggled with panic as we sat in the lawyer's office yesterday.
I had to walk outside on the porch and let the sun warm my face and a cool wind wash over me before I could get myself back together.  
Once the closing attorney called us in and began passing the multitude of papers across the table for us to sign, my breath once again became shallow.
I started talking at that point.
Chit Chat.
Nothing special...just talk.
A distraction.
It worked for a while and got me out of there in one piece.

My big girl Layla had her regular vet checkup yesterday, and we may be facing a health crisis with her.
She has what may be a tumor on her cornea.
We'll make an appt. today to see a canine opthamologist in Ocean Springs.
Yes, that's really a thing.
Our local vet said that one of his partners "probably could" remove it for pathology but the best guy for the job is in Ocean Springs.
I'ma take a "best guy for the job" over a "probably could" any day.
We're talking about an eyeball here.
Not to mention a member of our family.
We don't do that "it's just a dog" thing here.

I picked up a turkey this morning.
At the local Spay and Neuter Clinic.
True Story.
P.S. the turkey was frozen.


I also got to talk to an old teacher friend of mine at the Spay Neuter Clinic.
I haven't seen her in a while and couldn't get over how fabulous she looks. 
Weight Watchers.
All these people keeping looking fabulous with Weight Watchers.
And when I say fabulous, I don't mean skinny as a rail with their skin hanging off.  
When I say fabulous, I mean "glowing" and healthy...with smiles on their faces...and smaller pants.
I can't do gimmicks.
I've seen the sassy commercials that talk about WW as an old way to lose weight.  
WW has been around a long time.
It's stood the test of time a lot longer than some of the new ways to lose weight and I think more importantly, to maintain it...learn how to a spade a spade when it comes to emotional eating...encourage people to take part in realistic exercise that be sustained for a lifetime.
I like that.


I spent entirely too much time last night on Amazon reading reviews and sales pitches about Essential Oils and diffusers. 
Who knew there were so many options?! 
I finally chose one and ordered it.
We shall see.

I'm ready for a nap this morning.
And may very well take one before the lunchtime meeting today. 
The room was so hot yesterday that I had to eat two snack bags of Skittles in order to stay awake.
Re-read the paragraph on Weight Watchers now.


I'm way behind on book reviews, so to clear my brain, I'm probably going to do a couple of shorter snippet posts with several reviews in one.  
My brain will like that I think.
Clear those shelves and move on.
My brain is having a hard time with ebooks right now.  
Does anybody else forget they have books if they only have them on ebooks?
I may have to let those go for a while.  
The main benefits I've found with ebooks is that they are much more convenient when traveling and if you're buying books, ebooks tend to be cheaper.
That's pretty much it.
I give up on audio books.  I'm too visual...I'm too tactile.  I need to hold and touch the pages.  I need to underline things.  
Audio books make me kindof nuts.  
I end up having to re-read a book I liked anyway so I'm not sure what the point is.
I'd much rather listen to a podcast.  


The key to my serenity I think is to keep all this stuff balanced somehow.  
Not overwhelm myself.
Let things go.
More discipline.
Write things down.
Check off the list.
Copy over things that don't get done.
Take naps.
Spend time with my dog.
Light a candle first thing in the morning.
Say my first prayer of the day by candlelight.
Keep it simple.
Apply grace to myself and others.
Speak kindness.
Say Merry Christmas as many times as possible.
Be nice.
Stay out of traffic.

Did I mention take naps?


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thankful Thursday - Acceptance and Amazon Prime

As a part of active recovery, a gratitude list is paramount for me.
What I want to do here weekly is not just be thankful for the easy stuff (although that does have a place)...but I want to take the negative and spin it positive.
This practice has truly helped me become more mindful and aware of life's simplicity...a simplicity that I miss when I'm racing around.
One day at a time.
Keep coming back.
It works if you work it.

8:41 a.m.

1.  AA - if it wasn't for AA meetings, I would most certainly be drinking again by now. Most certainly.  I've stepped up my meetings and have come to love the midday meeting close to my home.  

2.  my children - they have no idea how grounded they keep me.
no idea.

3.  FedEx - they will deliver my middle daughter's Christmas on time in Montana.
Doesn't matter that I essentially had to buy the box a plane ticket to make it there before the resort she's working in closes the mailroom on Friday.
Run, Run, Rudolph!

4.  the Furminator bath my GSD will receive today. GSDs are called German Shedders for a reason. PSA for those thinking of getting one.

5.  my hairless house after said dog gets the Furminator treatment.  Keeping my fingers crossed anyway.  Could seriously use one of those iRobot thingies for the upstairs and the downstairs...just afraid the pittie mix would attack them or retreat into panic mode...or both.
True story.

6.  literally and figuratively closing doors on the past - Closing on our old house happens today - I'm all about owning only one house at a time - so is my wallet, and so is my husband's stress level.
I'm not sad.
That's a little weird to me.
But, I'm going with it.

7.  Amazon Prime - seriously, do I even have to explain this? I bow to you, Amazon, your free shipping, easy returns, fantastic customer service, and a Christmas shopping season I can deal with.

8.  early morning shopping - get out, get it done, go home...before the rest of the world catches on.  Only for things I can't get on Amazon of course.

9.  Gift cards - seriously - who doesn't love to go shopping on someone else's dime.  I know my girls do and I am happy to oblige.  
Ditto what I said about Amazon in #8.

10.  Year 2 - the year of Resentment - brought up by a 3 year chip receiver at yesterday's noon meeting.  I'm not happy other people have experienced unhappiness.  What I am grateful about is the crazy things in my head are actually NORMAL.
It's ok to be ok and then not be ok.
Guess what?
Life is like that for everybody.
Not just alcoholics.
Recovering alcoholics just live it drowned in memories of booze.


11. Acceptance - topic of last night's meeting - I'm learning.  I will probably keep learning for many many years to come.  I'm in trouble if I ever think I know it all.  So thankful to have that pressure removed.  
I don't have to know it all.
There's time each day to learn.

12.  my husband who knows how to get the hot water heater to heat our water for my nightly shower...and his willingness to put down whatever he's doing to make hot water happen for me when I've decided it's time.

13. bedtime - I don't always like it because I can very easily get caught up in IG, FB, Twitter, etc. long into the night.  But, bedtime is almost as important to me as this list.  I'm much better when I adhere to 10 p.m. bedtime.
If it's not done by 10 p.m. it's not getting done.
Amazingly all those things not done by 10 p.m. seem to be just fine waiting till morning so far.


Take a look around...Stop for a minute.   
Find one thing you are grateful for.  Just one.
I'd love for you to post it in the comments :) 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sober Christmas - Practicing Gratitude

6:35 a.m.
It's not Thursday yet, but I'm racking up the gratitudes.  Gratitude was the topic yesterday in my noonday meeting, so it's heavy on my mind this morning.  I'm freaking grateful to be sober as I type this morning because I've come closer to drinking over the last few weeks and especially the last few days than I have in the last 18 months.

Christmas is hard.
And that's just crazy.
I'm sitting in my semi-dark bedroom right now with one candle burning.  I've said my first prayer of the day.  
"Lord, I need you.  Please help me stay sober today."
My sponsor says stop trying to make everything so complicated.  
One day at a time.
One moment at a time.
One meeting at a time.
Pray first thing and then pray again before bed...and of course, any time in between is good too.

Right now I have the luxury of going to as many meetings as I would like.  
I'll go to two today.  
My sponsor did bring up yesterday after our meeting that it must be really hard for those who are leaving their work at noon, coming to the meeting, and then going right back to work.  She is retired, and I'm on Christmas vacation.
She's right.
I cannot even imagine trying to be sober, knowing I need a meeting(s) and not being able to get there. 
I am grateful.

I'm supposed to be working on my steps.  
I've apparently lost the "homework" my sponsor gave me many months ago.
I'm blaming it on our move.
I'll have to tell her today if I still can't find it by meeting time.
I have to do this hard work if I want to get stronger.  

Nighttime seems to be the hardest.  
The music.  The lights.  The parties.  The red and green decorations. The wine.  The mixed drinks.  Everybody is drinking.
And celebrating.
But not me.

I read Lotta Dan's post this morning about how what other people drink is not my business.
I want to be that recovering alcoholic.
I want to not think about what other people drink.
The beer my husband drinks is not my business, and I don't even want it.  He drinks nasty beer anyway.  Miller Lite.  Bleh.
But, the Captain Morgan Rum that my oldest daughter keeps in the pantry does indeed call my name.  
Hard liquor was my drug of choice. 
Takes less to do the job.
No sipping.
Just throw it back.
Don't even need a glass really.
Yep. There.  I've said it.
That was me.
It isn't me anymore.

As I pulled into the grocery store last night for buns, kitty litter, beans, and chips, I noticed the liquor store with its neon lights.  The word W.I.N.E.
A lady I had just seen going down several aisles in tandem with me was walking into the liquor store.
A young mother perhaps.
Getting the wine for her upcoming Christmas party or even as a gift for Christmas.
She may have even bought one of those cutest little wine gift bags that I saw everywhere as I was Christmas shopping yesterday.
What she drinks or doesn't drink, as Lotta said, is none of my business.
What is my business is that for me to walk through those doors means I hand over everything in exchange for alcohol.
My sobriety. my family. my job. my self-respect. my mental health. my trustworthiness. my children.  my husband. 
Last night I chose all of those over alcohol. 
One day maybe I'll be able to get through most days without obsessing.  But that day is not today.  
I'm not giving up.
7:05 a.m.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thankful Thursday - Meetings and Memories

As a part of active recovery, a gratitude list is paramount for me.
What I want to do here weekly is not just be thankful for the easy stuff (although that does have a place)...but I want to take the negative and spin it positive.
This practice has truly helped me become more mindful and aware of life's simplicity...a simplicity that I miss when I'm racing around.

1.  AA - So incredibly thankful that after 2 months of no meetings, the topic of the night brought up by a woman still in treatment was "complacency."  
God did that.  
In our closing circle we always say, "Keep coming back. It works if you work it."  
I hear you, God.
I hear you.

2.  Big brown German Shepherd eyes that see right into my soul.

3.  a man who is growing with matter how painful and rocky, he tries in his own way...with his own love languages.

4.  The Marriage Advent fun that begins tomorrow! One task per day.

5.  the quiet (mostly) weeks before finals...hunkering down in my space.  Mine.

6.  Finding books on Goodreads that bring back warm childhood memories...books I haven't thought of in years.

7.  Ebay...where vintage copies of those books from my childhood can be found.

8.  Finding unique places inside our new house for my books.

9.  Realizing that the last two books in my car that were going to be donated...probably need to come on back in the house.

Take a look around and see what you can find...go ahead...I'll wait :) 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books on our Winter TBRs

Linking up with The Broke and the Bookish today via the best meme in the blogosphere, Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010.

Each week they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post and, if you want to, add your name to the Linky widget on that day's posts (typically put up midnight EST on Tuesday) so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

This topic is like crack for me.  I would have books in every room, every corner, every shelf in my house if I could.  I just gave away a lot of books during our recent move and have already regretted some of my now missing reads and TBRs :(  I can only imagine what my TBR and Wish List is going to look like after reading everyone else's lists!  Here are the Winter (January and February 2018) selections I have my eye on:

TBR for 2018

Flavia de Luce - Jan. 30, 2018
I haven't read any of these, and I'm not going to force myself to go back to #1...

Feb. 6, 2018
Jumping right on this series as well...

Jan. 2
a little non-fiction never hurt anyone...

Feb. 27
neither does a little spiritual practice...

Jan. 30
I listen to Jamie's podcast every week and am anxious to read her entire story...

Feb. 6
Please load me up with all the historical fiction...Spanish flu epidemic of 1918!

Feb. 6 
more historical fiction...

still more American historical fiction...daughters 
Jan. 30

the human spirit and the connection between generations...
Jan. 2

ALASKA...wilderness - toughness - family...I'm there.
Feb. 6


Monday, November 27, 2017

A Uterus is a Feature, Not a Bug by Sarah Lacy - TLC Book Tours

A Uterus is a Feature, Not a Bug: The Working Woman's Guide to Overthrowing the Patriarchy
by Sarah Lacy

• Hardcover: 320 pages• Publisher: HarperBusiness (November 14, 2017)
Purchase at HarperCollins

About the Book from Harper Collins

A rallying cry for working mothers everywhere that demolishes the “distracted, emotional, weak” stereotype and definitively shows that these professionals are more focused, decisive, and stronger than any other force.

Working mothers aren’t a liability. They are assets you—and every manager and executive—want in your company, in your investment portfolio, and in your corner.

There is copious academic research showing the benefits of working mothers on families and the benefits to companies who give women longer and more flexible parental leave. There are even findings that demonstrate women with multiple children actually perform better at work than those with none or one.

Yet despite this concrete proof that working mothers are a lucrative asset, they still face the “Maternal Wall”—widespread unconscious bias about their abilities, contributions, and commitment. Nearly eighty percent of women are less likely to be hired if they have children—and are half as likely to be promoted. Mothers earn an average $11,000 less in salary and are held to higher punctuality and performance standards. Forty percent of Silicon Valley women said they felt the need to speak less about their family to be taken more seriously. Many have been told that having a second child would cost them a promotion.

Fortunately, this prejudice is slowly giving way to new attitudes, thanks to more women starting their own businesses, and companies like Netflix, Facebook, Apple, and Google implementing more parent-friendly policies. But the most important barrier to change isn’t about men. Women must rethink the way they see themselves after giving birth. As entrepreneur Sarah Lacy makes clear in this cogent, persuasive analysis and clarion cry, the strongest, most lucrative, and most ambitious time of a woman’s career may easily be after she sees a plus sign on a pregnancy test.

Golden Lines and My Thoughts

Everything I'd been told about the great disability of motherhood was a lie. 
I've always believed motherhood was a disability. Always.  A disability I welcome and am willing to sacrifice for...but still a disability.  I don't even remember where it comes from...that's how ingrained it is. 

We all know we live in a patriarchy, but somehow saying the word "patriarchy" makes you sound like some kind of unhinged extremist.
Why does everything have to be a fight?  Why can't we all recognize the patriarchy as a description, accept it, and then get to the real work of balancing things out.  Lacy does a fantastic job of pointing out that being a feminist does not mean that you hate men.  A feminist simply wants equality for everyone.  Period.

Misogyny is not imposed against all women equally.  It is only used against those who are in some way a threat to patriarchy.  "Benevolent" sexism/misogyny rewards women who hold up the patriarchy's view of women.  "Hostile" sexism/misogyny punishes those who do not. 
This discussion blew my mind...but very clearly explains why even some women are ok with the patriarchy in control...they've been taught to be good...if you're good, you'll get rewarded by those in power.

This book is called "A Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug," not "A Baby Is a Feature, Not a Bug." Whether or not you're a mother or even want to be a mother, you're a sister as far as I'm concerned. (61)
There were a few places in Lacy's book I felt would leave out women who have not given birth...especially those who have been unable to give birth.  I am not one of those women but have many friends who are.  As in this quote, Lacy tries very hard to include all women, but I'm not sure if she would be successful.

I came out of labor and called Paul for an update on the insanity. 
One characteristic of women that Lacy displays vividly is our ability to get done what has to be done, our tenacity, our loyalty, etc...all those characteristics that make us anything but the weaker sex.

The skill sets required by motherhood and entrepreneurship are astoundingly similar. 
I loved reading this section...Lacy spends a great deal of time pointing out all the "flaws" the stereotypes would have us believe that are, in fact, positive aspects of being a woman, a working woman, a woman who runs a company, a home.

The "warrior girl ethos" puts girls at risk because they come back before they are fully healed. 
The "warrior girl ethos" is the downside of all those traits pointed out above...when we're holding on and keep going past our healthy points, we are then bending once again to the patriarchy...trying to work even harder to prove our worth...many times, ironically, to our detriment.

My nanny took particular exception to the magazine pointing to Eli and labeling him "problem #1" in the photo 
The Uber story blew me away, especially in light of all that we currently know about Uber's CEO and workplace environment. Lacy's experience as a somewhat privileged working mother taking on the patriarchy was scary...imagine what it feels like to someone without that privilege.  Lacy pushes us constantly to act on what we say we believe.  I can't know how it feels to be anyone other than myself and my place in this world, but I can honor other women's perspectives, hear them out, and help where they tell me they need it most.

The upshot: White men in tech don't actually give a shit about diversity 
Lacy's world is the tech world so there is a lot about that specific workplace environment...but I've seen this same attitude in educational administration as well. In a profession of mostly women, take a look at the upper echelon...I don't have the statistics for this, but you better believe I'm going to be looking them up.  That's what reading Lacy's book will do...make you dig for more info and add a whole host of women entrepreneurs to your Twitter feed!

Women need new patterns every bit as much as the men controlling boards and capital do.
Lacy presents a plethora of statistical information showing the numbers...the unbalanced percentages of women in high places and dispelling the age old adage of there not being enough women trained for those positions.

My life was a drug-free, totally legal version of a Scorsese movie.
I was so glad that Lacy not only tells the story of herself as the highly successful woman company owner in a world of men, but she also lets the reader see that living that life is not in the least bit easy and that family life and personal life may sometimes take a huge hit before a working mom fully comes to realize her own true self.  Not that Lacy encourages the breakdown of family or personal life...she presents a very realistic case for the patriarchy being so ingrained in us that we have to sometimes go through all of these stages just to fully breakthrough and realize who we are.

One of my investors sent his security team to my house as the story exploded in the first twenty-four hours and my face was everywhere as the enemy of Uber.
When many would have tucked their tails and hid, Lacy did just the opposite.  She responded to the threats from Uber execs and supporters "full on cottontail" to protect her livelihood and that of her children.

It was only in 1972 that the Supreme Court rules that both parties within a marriage were separate entities with their own individual rights. 
Mind blown.
When I was born, my mother was not recognized as a separate entity with her own individual rights.  I was 4 years old whenshe was given that right.
Still having to digest this and wondering what else I don't know.

The patriarchy wins when women are divided.  We need to fight for single mothers living in poverty if we believe anything we say about equality.
Lacy has that conversation that is so needed today about women supporting each other.  I do want to read more about the research she presented that questions the ideas that women are attacking each other.  I'm still wrapping my head around all of this because I spend a lot of time trying to help my daughters navigate the world of "mean girls"...I've seen it.  I do get the idea of those same traits as beneficial for a man but "bitchy" in a woman.  Just wondering how these same ideas apply to younger women?

Women have to be willing to be the boss, and they have to do it as women, not by pretending to be men.
I thoroughly enjoyed Lacy's discussion of Iceland and the status of women in that country.  Again, she paints a realistic view and weaves history and facts in with the political and social.

By 2020, China will have a thirty to forty million surplus of men, the largest gender imbalance in the world.  Twenty-five percent of Chinese men will be "low skilled bachelor[s]."
More reading for me.  Again, my entire life I'd heard the one child per family rule in China...but I've not read the "unintended social results" that are beginning to become visible.  Interesting indeed that this heavy population of men is anything but happy, content, or satisfied.  Perhaps men and women could, in fact, complement each other if allowed to do so.

I'm sad. I'm starting to think I can't actually have it all. That it's all slipping away. That on the wrong day, child protective services would be horrified if they walked into this house.
Most women will enjoy Lacy's honesty.  Living her life isn't at all matter how much money, nannies, house in San Francisco, travel, etc.  at the end of the day, she is Sarah Lacy, Mom.  And with that title comes many of the same fears the rest of us have about ourselves.

I became like Evie by putting on a suit of feminist armor every day whether I called myself a feminist or not, whether I felt that strong or not. 
Patterns.  What do we do now with all of this info Lacy has given us.  We get up every day and do it again.  We set new standards.  We teach young women and young men differently.  We try to leave behind a world a bit better than when we entered it so the next generation of women can carry the torch.

The Author

Sarah Lacy

Sarah Lacy is the founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of the investigative tech news site She has been covering technology news and entrepreneurship for over fifteen years, with stints at BusinessWeek and TechCrunch before founding her own company while on maternity leave in 2011. She lives in San Francisco. Most importantly of all, she is the mother of two young children.

Follow Sarah Lacy on Twitter 

Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, November 14th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, November 15th: Literary Lindsey

Thursday, November 16th: Openly Bookish

Monday, November 20th: The Desert Bibliophile

Tuesday, November 21st: Kritters Ramblings

Wednesday, November 22nd: Wining Wife

Monday, November 27th: Peppermint PhD

Tuesday, November 28thStephTheBookworm

Thursday, November 30thInstagram: @juliecookies413

Friday, December 1stHarry Times…all jacked up

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday - The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

Linking up with Wishful Endings today :)

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

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

I force myself to stop at 1 choice.  Once I find it, I stop looking...until next week :)

Without further adieu, here's my Can't Wait choice among the "Coming Soon" selections on Barnes and Noble for the week of November 20, 2017:

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

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

“I dare you to read this novel and not fall in love with Arthur Truluv. His story will make you laugh and cry, and will show you a love that never ends, and what it means to be truly human.”—Fannie Flagg

An emotionally powerful novel about three people who each lose the one they love most, only to find second chances where they least expect them

“Fans of Meg Wolitzer, Emma Straub, or [Elizabeth] Berg’s previous novels will appreciate the richly complex characters and clear prose. Redemptive without being maudlin, this story of two misfits lucky to have found one another will tug at readers’ heartstrings.”—Booklist

For the past six months, Arthur Moses’s days have looked the same: He tends to his rose garden and to Gordon, his cat, then rides the bus to the cemetery to visit his beloved late wife for lunch. The last thing Arthur would imagine is for one unlikely encounter to utterly transform his life
Eighteen-year-old Maddy Harris is an introspective girl who visits the cemetery to escape the other kids at school. One afternoon she joins Arthur—a gesture that begins a surprising friendship between two lonely souls. Moved by Arthur’s kindness and devotion, Maddy gives him the nickname “Truluv.” As Arthur’s neighbor Lucille moves into their orbit, the unlikely trio band together and, through heartache and hardships, help one another rediscover their own potential to start anew.
Wonderfully written and full of profound observations about life, The Story of Arthur Truluv is a beautiful and moving novel of compassion in the face of loss, of the small acts that turn friends into family, and of the possibilities to achieve happiness at any age.

Advance praise for The Story of Arthur Truluv
“I don't know if I’ve ever read a more affecting book about the natural affinity between the young and the elderly than Elizabeth Berg’s The Story of Arthur Truluv. It makes the rest of us—strivers and preeners and malcontents—seem almost irrelevant.”—Richard Russo, author of Everybody’s Fool

“Elizabeth Berg reminds us of both the richness of any human life and the heart’s needed resilience.”—Jane Hirshfield, author of The Beauty: Poems

I think I need stories like this one right now...stories that remind me of the human spirit...what do you think?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thankful Thursday - 30 minutes - writing - Starbucks

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

So, no negatives here.  
Only positive.

1. writing - even if it's just these 30 minutes a day posts, even if nobody else reads it, writing soothes me...I can't tell you how many times I've been spinning out of control and at least burned off some steam by sitting myself down and writing. 

2.  options - my dad pushed me to get my terminal degree so that I would have options.  Even if I never needed them or wanted to pursue them, he believes a person should always have options.

3.  my Starbucks - ok, I know this is a tad shallow, but I love walking in the door to, "Good Morning, Mrs. Patti!" 

4.  podcasts - I'm unable to go to AA meetings right now because of so much other "stuff" in our schedule - podcasts are my AA meetings.  The online recovery world is such a saving grace.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before.

5.  honest discussion - don't balk here...the husband and I have been married 28 years, and a few nights ago we had one of the most honest discussions we've had in our entire marriage and/or time together.  Seriously.  It was difficult, but I swear I feel closer to him than I ever have. 

6.  choir - I've been singing in church choir since I was in middle school.  My parents always made sure I was there...we kids complained, fussed, Mrs. Jones was so mean, etc...and then the band...I was certainly not the most accomplished flautist, but I learned to read music and learned enough musical theory to enable me to hold my own in a choir full of "real music people."  Choir right now may truly be my therapy...I love the melodies, I love the cadence, I love our professional, humorous, faithful, musical director and his high expectations.  I love the other choir members who've welcomed me with open arms.  I love the music...oh the music...I hum it every day, and the emotions the music evokes are so deep.  Choir truly touches my soul and keeps me grounded.

7.  Thanksgiving prep - Thanksgiving is my jam.  This weekend I will start my prep and I'm just giddy about it!

Take a minute and find something to be thankful for...I's worth it.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday - Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Linking up with Wishful Endings today :)

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

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

I force myself to stop at 1 choice.  Once I find it, I stop looking...until next week :)

Without further adieu, here's my Can't Wait choice among the "Coming Soon" selections on Barnes and Noble for the week of November 13, 2017:

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

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

Louise Erdrich, the New York Times bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House, paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event.
The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.
Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.
There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.
A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

My first Louise Erdrich read was The Round House...sister can work a novel, y'all! 
I can't wait to see how she spins this!
What do you think?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

TLC Book Tours - The Psychobiotic Revolution

The Psychobiotic Revolution: Mood, Food, and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection 

by Scott C. AndersonJohn F. CryanTed Dinan

Format? hardback

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

Why?  the link between gut health and mental health isn't an idea that's new to me.  I've read a lot about, see the connections clearly, and want to learn as much as I can.  I was trained to be a researcher so I'm constantly looking for answers, explanations, or even just more questions.

Title?  not really much here that would have pulled me in...the sub title is helpful for sure.
Cover?  Meh...I kindof expected more from National Geographic.

What Now?  

I've already looked in the grocery store for yogurt without added sugar...guess what?  I haven't found much of it.
I think it's time we pay a lot more attention to what we are buying and blindly consuming.  I know I am.

Golden Lines

It takes a germ to fight a germ (14).

Properly established, a compatible biofilm can lead to a lifetime of gastronomic bliss, unburdened by inflammation and its frequent companions, depression and anxiety (22).

We have long comforted ourselves that breast milk is pure and antiseptic, but we now know it is a microbial balm for your vulnerable baby gut, full of bacteria (71).

In short, your body hobbles your immune system while it deals with stress (124).

The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that depression and anxiety will be the top cause of disability for the coming decades.  That the rates are increasing even in the face of escalating usage of psych meds, indicates that we don't yet have a good solution in hand. 140-141

Many studies, both quantitative and anecdotal, confirm the age-old adage attributed to Hippocrates: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" (179).

Nothing is an instant fix (192).

The only exercise some people get is operating the remote control (222).

Modern processed foods were developed, for the most part, in the United States.  We have a tradition going back only hundreds of years and resulting in a mixed, poorly vetted, inconsistent cuisine (243).


We've long been told that what we eat is the foundation for everything.  We don't want to hear it; we want a pill or some other easier answer to getting our lives back on track, feeling better, and taking control of our brains.  The authors of The Psychobiotic Revolution present clear research that we are indeed what we eat and that our lives would be much more enjoyable if we could balance our gut health in order to balance the rest of us.

What I Liked

The charts and drawings similar to what we used to trace in middle school...I'm a visual person so charts, photos, graphs, drawings are a must for me...I do wish there had been more color.

the history of penicillin and other antibiotics - "mold juice" (32).

the boy in the bubble

medical history intertwined with the science...another successful way to keep the reader going!

the similarity between broad spectrum antibiotics and chemo. 
"...taking antibiotics is like dropping a bomb into your guts" (205)

adaptive immunity
how immunity works and what happens when it doesn't
the vagus nerve
sugar cravings as "microbial longings" 

the very specific discussion of "bad" bacteria and "good bacteria" and our propensity today to think of all bacteria as something to be rid of.

the birth to death discussion of our microbiota 

the humor...amidst the deep scientific discussion, a "boop" of humor would bop me on the head and make me chuckle...just enough to keep going.  I had to give myself permission on several occasions to not be worried about the fact that I really wasn't sure exactly what the authors were talking about.

"Our evolutionary history, which included very few pastries rolling across the savanna, didn't prime us for glazed doughnuts" (87).

the discussion of the Mediterranean type diet, fiber, and a Japanese diet...although I do with there was more of this kind of application information.

the discussion of the American diet of being exactly opposite of what our microbiota need...the authors don't just tell you this; they show you.  It makes perfect sense.  There were several places where I thought, "no wonder I feel bad when I eat that."

the discussion of the nervous system and its divisions...reminded me of high school biology...I remembered a lot of the info in these chapters from the "good ole days."  I guess I was paying attention after all.

the case studies used throughout the chapters to illustrate the theories

the very specific discussion of the types of psychobiotics and where they can be found...the mixtures of certain ones, and why or when you would want to be sure and eat them

Chapter 7 - My Favorite Chapter - very specific information on how to add more psychobiotics to your diet.

the brief information on intermittent fasting - I'll definitely be reading more about this.

Whether we want to heart it or not, many of the major ailments of the present are directly related or exacerbated by the food we eat or don't eat...including IBS, Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac and Gluten Sensitivity, eating disorders, obesity, Diabetes, Parkinson's Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Heart disease, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I'm a geek so I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Appendix, the Glossary, the Notes, the Further Reading page, and the Index.
I'm not even sorry for liking these things ;)

What I Didn't Like

animal research :( - transferring fecal matter and such...ew.

the phrase "highly associated with depression and anxiety" is repeated more than multiple times...I almost started counting.

The science is thick...not that I didn't like it...but I do think the average person won't want to wade through all of it. 

Overall Recommendation

This book is for you if you wonder if you'll ever feel ok, and you are ready for a serious discussion about the food we eat and why and how it affects our mental health via gut health.

The Authors 

About Scott C. Anderson

SCOTT C. ANDERSON is a veteran science journalist with specialization in medical topics and computer programming. He was one of the creators of Lego Island, a computer game, and his work has combined computer programming with medical research. He runs a laboratory called Freedom Health that studies bacterial health in racehorses and has developed prebiotics for animals and humans. He lives in Hudson, Ohio (between Cleveland and Akron), was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and recently lived in Sonoma, California.

About John F. Cryan, Ph.D.

JOHN F. CRYAN is professor and chair of the department of Anatomy & Neuroscience, University College Cork. A principal investigator in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, a leading-edge institute researching the role of microbiome in health and disease, he lives in Cork, Ireland.

About Ted Dinan, M.D., Ph.D.

TED DINAN is professor of psychiatry and a principal investigator in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at University College Cork. He was previously chair of clinical neurosciences and professor of psychological medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London. He lives in Cork, Ireland.

Other Stops on the Tour

Wednesday, November 1st: Sapphire Ng
Thursday, November 2nd: Peppermint PhD
Monday, November 6th: Based on a True Story
Thursday, November 9th: Jathan & Heather
Monday, November 13th: Instagram: @caitlyn_block
Tuesday, November 14th: Literary Quicksand
Thursday, November 16th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Friday, November 17th: Instagram: @leahbhealthy
Monday, November 20th: Instagram: @wellnesswithedie
Tuesday, November 21st: Dreams, Etc.