How pimento cheese and chicken salad can save our souls

Last night I met with some good friends at a local sandwich shop. We discussed a fabulous book over pimento cheese, or chicken and egg salads. We also discussed British television, under-reacting, how children survive to adulthood, pre-reading, parental angst and Chuck E. Jesus. We did not talk about news, politics, rage (well, other than parental rage), or anything else of national or international import. Basically, it was delightful. At one point I thought to myself, these are the moments that save our souls.

I’ve been thinking about important minutia lately. Oh how we love the grand, sweeping gesture. We accept the mantra, “go big or go home.” But most of us don’t have the energy, knowledge or support to go big, so we just go home, where we feel powerless to add anything of value to a floundering world.

Here is where we miss an important truth: it’s the little changes, usually begun right at home, that begin sweeping momentum shifts. It’s not about making the biggest splash when we cannonball into the pool. We simply start where we are with what we have.

We live in a culture of hero worship. Even the church has “heroes of the faith” we love to rally behind. We believe we aren’t smart enough or good enough or experienced enough to do something for ourselves. So we wait, and we wait for someone else to start something we can get behind. And by get behind I mean make a facebook post about it and hope people like it enough times to affirm our position.

But last night, as we encouraged each other, admitted our secret fears and confessed our secrets (My children had no formal educational instruction until they were 8-ish years old, and now they all go to college. How about that?), I realized how empowering it is to be seen…heard…known and finally, accepted. Such a small thing which makes such a huge difference.

Instead of marking the things which divide us, instead we joined together for a bit on the things which make us human, a trait every one of us shares. These shared little things are the ones which save our souls, not the giant political systems or the moral majority. The way we change the world is by connecting with each other in small ways, across systems and religions and ethnicity. When we meet in the connecting spaces, we create the momentum that tilts the world towards love, acceptance and equality.

Yesterday I shared about feeling rage, impotent, helpless rage. But today I woke empowered – to feel more, to hear more, to connect more. You probably won’t hear about it in the news. It probably will receive very little attention at all. But I will know. If I can shift the moment to love those closest to me, then perhaps they will shift theirs as well. Each of us shifting a bit at a time towards love, mercy, grace and justice eventually we’ll create a tidal wave so huge, it covers the whole earth, washing us clean.

This and That on Saturday: ideas, projects and books

On Writing

Yesterday as I blogged, I realized it’s becoming difficult to come up with new content every day. Apparently, seventy days worth of words is all I have without some sort of break in between. I’m not giving up on the one-hundred days project, not at all, but I am feeling more challenged. This is actually a good thing. It means I am looking for new things to say instead of rehashing old ideas forever. I feel like I’ve taken seventy-three cleansing breaths, and now I’m ready for anything.

I started a separate book review blog. You can click the link, or find it in the page menu. The Mo’Joy Reads page will direct you there. It’s a teeny, tiny, baby blog with just a few entries so far. But it’s making me immensely happy. It’s so clean, organized and lovely. I’m using categories and tags to help facilitate looking up subjects and genres. I’m toying with author tags too. I’m like Monica from Friends with her label maker. SO HAPPY. Feel free to check it out.

On Reading

Earlier today I was commiserating with a friend who is reading too many books. I have too many on-going myself right now, even after trying to carefully curate my consumption. (I get alliteration points for that sentence, right?) I started reading on Netgalley and went a little crazy with book requests. So I’m hammering through some advanced reader copies and trying to wrap up a few loose end books. I’m still having a great time reading all sorts of new things for the 100 Story Summer. I’ve picked up so many books I might never have otherwise. In fact, be looking for a review today of The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf which may end up being one of my favorite books of the year. SO GOOD!

For years, I’ve felt a bit guilty about giving in entirely to my desire to read like a maniac at every spare moment. But this little side-project of mine has actually proven not only fun, but a huge productivity boost. Instead of getting fewer things done because of my reading, I’m doing and enjoying a lot more. I think I’m just not wasting time like I used to. This is an unexpected and delightful side-effect.

On the Month-of-No

The landscape of summer has shifted a bit since May when I got the idea for a month of no. It has actually opened up a bit more, relieving me of a few more responsibilities for a nice little window. I’m going to keep refining my schedule and saying more no than yes this summer. In fact, if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a resounding no . I like myself a lot more since starting this little plan. Although it can’t go on forever, this little window seems tailor made for me to take advantage of it and listen. Since I’m learning to trust my gut more and my guilt less, I’m going with it.

On Running

In January I set a little goal to lose 36 inches. I can’t use a scale because I obsess over numbers and climb on the awful device no less than twenty-seven times a day to see if I’ve fluctuated an ounce. It’s ridiculous, and not very healthy for me. We don’t actually own a scale. But for whatever reason, I can healthfully engage with a tape measure.

Anyway, since January I’ve been walking, and then walk/running, and now, I’m a runner again. I’ve had an on-again-off-again, mostly off-again, relationship with running since the half marathon almost two years ago. In fact, I’m beginning to toy a tiny little bit with doing another one. NEXT YEAR. Part of my crash and burn was training too fast and too hard for the last one and then a really difficult experience with heat and humidity actually forcing the route to close for marathoners.

This month has me clocking some of the longest distances I’ve run since before half marathon training (remember the giant toe blisters? and the terrible fall? I was a beat up girl). I remember, now, why I loved running to begin with and what a healing practice it is for me. The continued shrinking is nice too. I’m a little bit ahead of pace to meet my measurement goal by the end of the year.

So here we are. Caught up on the little things that matter so much to me, but seem difficult to work into a blog. Happy weekend to us all. I hope you find a good book to read, a quiet place to rest and someone you love to share it all with!

 

Shaking it Up: Evolving to make life work for me

Since I started this one hundred day project, I’ve been sort of winging it. I began on a whim, and since then, writing every day means I don’t have much time to plan ahead. But it’s June now. The month of No. Yesterday I identified several things which make me grumbly. I know because I was grumbly. Since then I’ve journaled and meditated, read a book and had a run. These are all things which make life work for me rather than against me. In my journal this morning I wrote:

Evolution is the natural process of staying with something. Sustainability depends on change; nothing growing is static. Essentially, you have to shake it up or let it die.

Even in just three days of margin, I see things which don’t fit the life I’m working towards. These things are simple choices which change the tone of my day drastically, but which are hard to identify as lode bearing choices when life is busy. Eventually, these choice will serve me when I say yes again as well. Hopefully, by then they will be habit.

I actually started thinking about change last night in relation to reading. In my effort to read one hundred stories this summer, I’ve opened myself up to a wider range of book types than I normally choose. Doing this has not only helped me realize how many different types of literature I enjoy, it also has given me a better understanding of techniques and tropes which work (or not) for different genres. Changing my reading has changed how reading works for me.

Granted, I could possibly have gone another twenty years reading exactly the way I always have, reading the types I always choose and been perfectly happy. But allowing an evolution, of sorts, in my reading life has created something I enjoy more than I was already. Who doesn’t want to enjoy something they love even more than they already were?

Of course this got me thinking about any number of choices I could intentionally change, and how those changes might also make life work for me even better than it already is. How can I write better, plan better, relate to others better? Not more quantity (that’s the rat race) but more quality. I don’t necessarily want to produce more, I want to better perform and enjoy what I already know I love. And then for fun do some completely new things as well on occasion.

Because I find comfort in routine, I can hang on to something far too long. Because my perfectionist freaks out that I might not do a new thing perfectly, I can be reluctant to change. But what I shared from my journal is a sign that I am breaking free from those worn out patterns of behavior which don’t serve me well anymore. Those three little sentences are new pattern of thought an internal revolution which could lead to me enjoying life even more than I currently do.

Inevitably these changes start out a bit awkward and uncomfortable. They will change and shift, seeming to stutter before they hit a familiar groove. But the more I shake things up, the more I find routine is good, but it’s better when it’s balanced with a few edgy things to keep me on my toes.

I’d love to hear what or if you are doing anything to shake your life up. What things have changed to make life work for  you even better than before?

 

Looking for a quiet space to read: 100 story summer

This weekend is the culmination of a month of planning and pushing through. As in all busy weeks, reading didn’t make it to the priority list. I read in the gaps, in the moments before succumbing to sleep, or while waiting in the car. But I can see the June, the month of no, shining on the horizon. Today we celebrate our wonderful middle girl Bailey for working hard and completing high school as well as her first year of college. Next week can be about reading again. This week the story is all about our girl.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

I am a firm believer that sometimes, we have to try a book on more than one occasion to determine if it’s really not a good fit. Sometimes the book is fine, it’s us who isn’t ready or open or a good fit yet. Beautiful Ruins is a book which proves this point, at least for me. It’s been about five years since I tried to read this.  I was lured in the first time by the gorgeous cover. Although, I don’t remember why specifically I finally put it down; I was a good way into the book when I did. I do remember feeling unable to connect with the characters and that the story was disjointed.

Fortunately, this book came around again thanks to my postal book club. Because I was accountable to read it, I was determined to try it again. And whoa nelly! am I ever glad I did. I absolutely LOVED this story the second time around. The setting is lush and isolated, the characters quirky, broken, searching, flawed and beautiful (well, mostly beautiful, some characters are simple distasteful no matter what.). Making brilliant use of shifting time lines and POVs, a mystery, of sorts, unfolds. All along the way, each narrator searches for love and belonging in their own way.

I am delighted to have the chance to change my opinion on this amazing book. I highly recommend it to all.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked this book up only to return it to the library unread, through no fault of the book itself. The hype surrounding the story kept bringing me back, and finally, I picked it up and finished it all in one sitting. I’m not sure what I expected, but what I got was a quiet rumination on family, relationships and ghosts from our past. The story is different than I imagined, very understated and vague. It hints and peeks around corners rather than blatantly revealing harsh details. It quietly forgives even when we aren’t sure what is being forgiven.

This book is a perfect quiet afternoon read. It doesn’t hurry or make you turn pages quickly to see what’s next. It is thoughtful and complex and deserves undivided attention so no layers get missed. I’m looking forward to the companion book, Anything is Possible which releases this summer (and may already be available).

 

Finding Calm: Something Fun Sunday, Ep. 6

The week has finally arrived. My middle daughter’s graduation party is this week, and I am knocking down the details while trying to maintain my cool, calm demeanor in the middle of it. *snort*  OK, maybe calm isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of me, but I am working on creating margin, so I have no need to panic, and making time to sleep, exercise, eat and create. Which brings us to the fun stuff.

I know Saturday is technically the day I talk about books around here (On the blog, at least; I talk about books at home on the daily). But I feel it’s necessary to put first things first when I speak of fun things. This week marks the release of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s summer reading guide. As usual, I’ve obsessed all week over what is available at my library (nothing), and what is available on overdrive (a few). I’ve picked out the ones I can’t miss, and the ones I am not so sure about. I’ve arranged and rearranged my too read list based on what I want to read now and what is coming due at the library. What can I say, book are serious business around here.

Today two of the books on the reading guide are on sale for kindle. I’ll link them at the bottom of the page.

Having reached the pinnacle week of May, I’m personally anticipating arriving in June and not feeling completely burned out. For me, this is a huge win. But as an introvert, I know by the time June rolls around, I will feel maxed out socially.

June is officially the month of no. I will not make commitments nor will I travel. I will not be out four nights a week. No will be a word I use often and with great relish. With my family and close friends I try to say yes as often as possible, but next month even those will be sparing. It’s good to give and give joyfully, but there is also a time to lay low and replenish. I loved this article about saying no.

A key component in my daily balancing act is the calm app. I’m using it twice a day currently. Those fifteen minute chunks may be the most important thing I do each day. My anxiety is better. I don’t struggle as much with anger and resentment. I feel calm (go figure). There is a free version if you want to try it out, and it’s apple and android compatible.

Finally this:

Graduation

I can’t even apologize for the language. In this month of nostalgia and misty eyes, when people express sorrow that I am growing older and my children are leaving home, this is how I feel.
Empty nest party time is almost here, folks. We’re powering through.

 


One Hundred Story Summer: When you have an off-week

I knew it would be difficult to top last week’s reading experience. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to stall out for a bit after a series of really good books. This week, I held true to form. I couldn’t settle on a book, and when I did I was unhappy with my choice. It was enough that I considered not even writing a story post this week. But, I finished on a high note. And since I’m practicing the art of finishing what I start, even in an off-week, I’m sharing with you. Here we go.

Drink: The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston

I debated whether or not this book fit into the “story” category. I often read for information, but I won’t count those as stories for the 100 story summer. However, this book fits both categories of informative and memoir, as the framework is a personal memoir of recovery from alcohol addiction.  While alcohol is not my struggle in recovery, there was much from her personal experience that I related to. The specifics of recovery may be different for each person, but there are also components which seem universal, this book only proved that hypothesis to me. I very much enjoyed the personal element of the story.

Unfortunately, I often got bogged down in the torrent of information between the personal interludes.  I enjoy information so for me to find this overwhelming means a lot. I occasionally found myself skimming just to get past it and back to the personal story. This may be because I’m not entirely on-board with her message, or it may be because she is so passionate to drive her point home. Whichever the case, it took me a while to finish as it wasn’t one I could read in large chunks without tuning out. This is one I recommend, but with caution. Be sure you are ready for all the facts before you enter.

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner

This book has been on my radar since it came out strictly because of its title. It seems I, too, am always chasing slow. When it showed up as an Amazon deal (still on sale today), I grabbed it. Alas, now I suffer from buyer’s remorse. I wish that I had done a bit more research on the author and content before I’d purchased it. It isn’t that the writing or story are bad. They aren’t, in fact her style is lovely. It just wasn’t a good fit for me. The author is a lifestyle and fashion blogger, very much not my niche. I also didn’t feel like the story went anywhere. We began with a certain issue, and circled it and circled it…and circled it…and circled it without ever landing the plane.

What I’m leaving with is this: it wasn’t for me because of my personality and taste. You might like it, but maybe find out more about it before you commit.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

First of all I found this book un-put-down-able. I read it in two sittings, the second one consuming the last three-fourths of the book. Secondly, never have I been so conflicted in my emotions. Thirdly, the more I think about it having finished it, the more deeply I love it. Opening with the most haunting line I’ve ever read:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

This book is complex, exquisite, agonizing and beautiful. The characters are hard to love, and yet wonderfully relate-able. I wanted to give up on them so often, but instead I found myself rooting for them over and over again. Exploring issues of race, gender, generations, expectations, sibling relationships, sexuality, and grief and loss, this book balances the line between beauty and destruction and never once loses its way. Maybe it’s because I love people in recovery, but I couldn’t walk away from these deeply damaged, vulnerably beautiful, destructive people.

I don’t believe this is a book everyone will find appealing (there may be triggers if you have experienced trauma so check the content), but if you are the type who believes in redemption for flawed humanity, this one is right up your alley.

Although I stuttered out of the gate this week, I’m glad to have ended with a remarkable story.  Next week is crazy busy for all the best and most celebratory ways, but hopefully, I can still squeeze a few books in.

The week I Read Everything: 100 Story Summer

This week I joined in the Bout of Books readathon. It was also my birthday week, although I had plenty to accomplish, I allowed myself a great deal of leeway for reading. It was my gift to myself. As you can see, I read a rather ridiculous amount, and I’ll likely finish another book today. This week I read incredible books that range across the spectrum of style, content and story-line. It’s been a truly great adventure and only whetted my appetite for reading. However, by the end of the week, I missed my non-fiction reading too. So my reading will be a bit more balanced in the weeks to come, and a bit less as I tend to read non-fiction more slowly.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Years ago I read Hosseini’s Kite Runner, which was beautiful and horrible all at the same time. I want to say I loved the story, except I didn’t always love the story. I was often repulsed by the events and yet the story unfolds with such tenderness and unexpected beauty that I loved it all the same. A Thousand Splendid Suns reproduces the same magic a second time.

Miriam and Laila are born a generation apart, but their lives become cruelly intertwined in the war torn streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. Spanning decades of history, from the cruel regime of the 60’s and 70’s to the despot warlords of the 80’s and early 90’s, these two unlikely heroines embody what it means to love, lose, survive, and even hope in an oppressive and militaristic society. By the end of the novel, I was barely breathing. I had to remind myself to slow down and read all the words in an effort to discover what happened next. Harrowing and haunting, this is a story of feminism and friendship where such things should not be. It’s beautiful and wonderful, and I am the better for having experienced this book.

You can expect to see a review of Hosseini’s third book, And the Mountains Echoed very soon.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

After reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, I needed to step away and read something completely different, something with a guaranteed happy ending. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler is a retelling of Shakespeare’s classic, Taming of the Shrew.  It’s not typical of Tyler’s style or story-lines, but it is exactly what I needed after being emotionally ruined by my previous book.

Including a fake marriage to extend green card status, PETA saving laboratory mice, a sharply, brilliant preschool teacher, this story ultimately realizes family should be a launching pad, not a lifelong behavior template.

I might not have enjoyed this story as much if I were looking for more nuanced Tyler, but when I needed a light-hearted, familiar love story, this book delivered.

Lincoln in the Bardo – by George Saunders

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I put this book on hold based on a podcast recommendation. Whatever I expected, this book wasn’t it. In fact, I can’t think of another book I’ve read constructed quite like this one. Snippets of news, press releases, diaries, memoirs, internal dialogue, ghosts, vice, heaven and hell, death, grief, and redemption all rolled up together in an extraordinary way.

Based on the death of Willie Lincoln, President Lincoln’s son, of typhoid fever during the early days of the Civil War, the study of Lincoln’s grief is deeply moving. But it’s not the only story being told here. The residents of the Bardo, a Buddhist concept of the space between death and rebirth into a new life, also have stories to tell and truths to reveal. Understanding the things which hold us to this earth, regret, unfinished work, inability to let go, greed, avarice, lust and making peace with our identity are also important themes in this story.

As much as I loved this book  (the more I reflect, the more I realize how complex and wonderful it is), it is one I will recommend only occasionally. It’s not easily accessible nor meant for reading quickly without attention to constantly changing details. But, for the reader who is willing to invest time and attention, it’s an exquisitely wrought exploration of humanity and eternity.

Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls

Many, many years ago, I read and loved Jeanette’s memoir, The Glass Castle. Even though it was harsh and terrible at times. It was also beautiful and hopeful. It’s a story of accepting where we’ve come from and our inability to change the people we love.

Half Broke Horses is not a memoir but a “true-life novel” of Jeanette’s grandmother, Lily. When Lily was fifteen years old, during WW1, she rode her horse 500 miles from Texas to Arizona to accept her first teaching position.

Alone.

Lily is harsh, wild, crazy, intelligent, beautiful and a stark realist. From teaching hard-scrabble western children to selling bootleg liquor out her backdoor during prohibition, her determination and intelligence inspire me.  Her audacity makes me want to stand in a chair and cheer. I love the Wild West anyway, and reading the story of this true pioneer woman is the most fun I’ve had this month.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Last year I read the book, One in a Million Boy. Since then, I recommend it to everyone who will listen and people who aren’t so interested too. Its understated beauty and simplicity are perfect. A Man Called Ove is the first I’ve read since to capture that feeling of simple, beautiful goodness.

Ove’s story is one of loss and grief, how when we’re broken, love mends us. It’s about community, and family, and being angry at the world, about losing and finding home again without ever leaving the living room.  I laughed, aloud, which I don’t do frequently with books. I cried aloud, too.  Even when it’s predictable, it’s OK because the predictability is so right, setting things exactly as they should be. I’ll read this again and again for how it’s beauty touches my soul as a very good book should do.

Something Fun Sunday: Birthday week!

Something fun Sunday is a struggle for me this week. I don’t feel bad, but I also certainly don’t feel fun.  However, what I know about myself is when I least feel like fun is when I most need it.  Plus, this week is cancerversary/birthday/Mother’s Day week and I share one of those special days with my lovely youngest daughter’s birthday, so there is a whole lotta celebrating going on. I plan to enjoy it, funk or no.  I plan to continue to avoid internet debate and the endless news cycle as much as possible, and also read my face off.

Without further ado, fun things *cue huzzahs*

Unbeknownst to me until yesterday, next week is apparently a Bout of Books Read-a-thon week. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! I’m planning to procrastinate responsibility as much as humanly possible and read until my eyes hurt. Then I’ll put on my reading glasses and read some more.

Bout of Books
We’re also planning to go see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 next Sunday.  Hunky wondered if it was an appropriate Mother’s Day activity and I was all, Heck to the Yes, it is!  Truth be told, I wasn’t terribly interested in the first one, but then I  saw it, and now it may be my favorite Marvel movie.
In case you haven’t seen it enough times, you can watch the trailer here (apparently, there is no embedding for this one.)

I’m also really, really, really, really am looking forward to Rob Bell’s new book
I posted before about how Rob Bell is one of the voices who keeps me sane lately.  I plan to buy this jewel with or without birthday money. You can plan to read more about it when I do.
SO GOOD!

 

 

So even when I don’t fele particularly fun, there’s still plenty of fun stuff to enjoy if I just put my mind to it. For my birthday I’m giving everyone permission to have as much fun as they want this week! Life is short. Here’s to a beautiful 44!

Falling in love with the Middle East: 100 Story Summer

I discovered a new passion this week. Don’t you love when that happens? I discovered I am completely enamored with authors from the Middle East. Honestly, other than news stories and prejudicial diatribe, the Middle East isn’t an area where I have much knowledge or experience. While it isn’t likely I will travel there anytime soon, I can certainly broaden my horizons by learning from those who have lived there and feel a deep love for their country.

This week I plowed through two books by Middle Eastern authors. I also reread a classic from high school. Although I remember the overall theme, very few specifics, not even the ending, stayed with me. Reading it was practically a brand new experience.

I’m also working my through two non-fiction books, one quickly and one much more slowly as it is a huge tome.  Though these won’t count as part of the 100 story summer, I’ll still share them as I finish them in case they interest someone else as well.

What I Read this Week

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

This novel is a both a dreamy love story and a timely commentary on the experience of being a refugee in an unwelcoming world. While some would call it sci-fi, to me it seems more along the realm of magical realism. The opening sentence reads,

“In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace or at least not openly at war a young man met a young woman in a classroom and did not speak to her.”  

We never learn the location of the first setting by name, but it’s obviously a Middle Eastern city. When war moves too close, people relocate by moving through a series of magical doors which open to new cities in new and distant countries.  

This story is an exploration of survival, isolation. Exploring the idea dislocation even in a crowd, this book is a beautiful way depiction of a harsh reality for thousands of people every day.

Girl of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsenea 

I really enjoyed this book which seems to evoke mixed emotions from reviewers. It was widely banned in Arab nations for its commentary on upper class Arab women. In America it’s been described as shallow and un-inventive.  However, I don’t think its shallow by accident. Instead shallow materialism serves as a foil for women who are complex, repressed and intelligent. Told as a series of subscription group emails and narrated by an omniscient and provocative narrator, the story follows four women through love, marriage, school, growing up and finding themselves. Fortunately I didn’t read the sharper reviews before reading this one, and I do recommend it.

A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Obviously a departure from my Middle East theme, I’ve been wanting to reread this book for awhile. This week I read it as a catharsis and escape from political events. This dystopian story is set in post-was America. Theocratic authoritarianism replaces the democracy in a merciless way. Fertility is a premium and women who are able to conceive become property of the rich and infertile. Following the story of one woman through her nightmare reality, we receive a glimpse of the darker side of power, religion and misogyny.

Something Fun Sunday: Episode 3, The one where I take a nap

I’m I the only person who feels worn out each Sunday? I know it’s traditionally the first day of the week, but my mind has given that title to Monday. By Sunday afternoon, I’m just tired. In just a little while, one of my fun things for Sunday is going to be a great big afternoon nap. Amen!

This week threw curve balls and changes galore. The Hunky and I finally got a new bed. The Portwood-ettes barreled on through their last semester before college. Summer is so close they can practically smell it, and the weather here wants us to believe it’s summer already. Have I mentioned my disdain for summer?

I’m two weeks into the Whole 30 eating plan today. Every Sunday I want to give up and eat a loaf of bread, but every Monday pushes me one week closer to the finish line and I batten down my self-control and power on. This year I am measuring inches instead of mean old LBS, and I’m about 2 more inches from a crisis in the pants department. I dislike clothes shopping, but I suppose this is a pretty good reason to need to.

On to the Fun Stuff

Yesterday I shared what I’m reading for 100 story summer. But I never read only one book at a time, and I always have a non-fiction going along with my fiction. This week I am reading about some natural ways to combat depression. I’m on a huge self-care kick (if you couldn’t tell), so this is right up my alley.

I’m always late to a band wagon – if I choose to join it – but I’m only a few weeks behind the S-town podcast bandwagon. Friends, I gotta tell you, this is one great story. I didn’t expect to be so emotionally invested or to relate to so many of the events. I’m halfway through and it’s all I can do not to quit everything in order to just sit and listen. Hello, self-control.

Growing up, I always felt very competitive. I had to be the best, all the time, at everything.  Thankfully, I’ve moved away from that mind-set over the last few years. There are many things I want to do well, but I want to do them well for me, not in order to beat someone else or prove anything. Mostly, I want to lead a quiet, fulfilling life. That’s why I love this article: What if all I want is a mediocre life?  I don’t have to be the best at anything as long as I am striving to be the best me.

I know I proclaim my love for Spotify often and loudly, but it really does bring so much fun into my life. This week I put together a playlist so fraught with nostalgia, I can’t stop listening to it. I grew up in Nashville listening watching Hee-Haw, loving the Grand Ole Opry and listening to classic country. My dad loved the Outlaws ( Waylon and Willie and the boys), and me, I just love it all. No one else in the house wants to hear it so I have to listen wisely, but just a little everyday is enough to make me happy for hours and hours. So, if you want to laugh at me, or join in my reverie, I’m sharing the playlist here.

I hope everyone gets a little nap today, and we all head into next week knowing everything is already ok. Hey, it’s May…BIRTHDAY MONTH!! Whoooo-hooo!