• Bookish,  Personal,  Writing

    About last month…

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    I have never been a big, “It’s [whatever month] and I’m thrilled!” type of person.

    By writing that, I realize I have an automatic elimination from the PSL (pumpkin spice latte) club and the sweater weather crowd. Not that there’s anything wrong with either because I wear sweaters every chance I get and drink exactly one PSL per year.

    But October 1st, on a Monday, the day before a vacation, after a ridiculous September, and I’m all about a big cheer for October.

    September was a month for de-cluttering our home after reading this book. The book talks about the “magic” that happens beyond having a tidy home. Pounds are lost, money is found, new paths are revealed, relationships change, etc. I was skeptical of it being one of those pseudo-spiritual things but the author was right.

    It’s not an automatic state of enlightenment but what happened for Steve and me, as we let go of our past belongings, we were freed up to turn a page and consider the future.

    1. New boundaries were set that were long overdue.
    2. Relationships changed. And for the better, no matter how you look at it.
    3. Things we thought we needed; turns out we didn’t.
    4. We found ways to save over $1000.00 per month.
    5. I started writing again.

    I’m amazed at what we were able to accomplish in September, even with high stress levels because of situations outside of our control.

    And about the control; I know I’ve written that in large part the past four years have felt completely out of my control. I lost myself. But I feel like I found myself again in the simple acts of throwing away papers, donating clothes, and finding what brought me joy in my surroundings.

    Who knew that I was buried under a stack of papers and in a sock drawer of mismatched misfits? That’s not where I imagined I would find myself because let’s face it, that’s not as adventurous or exciting as going on a solo kayak trip or climbing a mountain eating berries and drinking water from a filtered straw.

    But I’ll take it. Along with the $1000 in gift cards that we found tucked away in cards and drawers.

    So bring on October! The month where we will turn the page, travel, and finish creating a home full of what brings us joy.

  • Feminism,  Personal,  Writing

    About this morning…

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    To say that the last two weeks have been tough would be an understatement. And really, it’s been more like the last four years. I’ve shared snippets here and there on Instagram but because so much has been intertwined with other peoples’ stories to tell, I have largely remained quiet.

    But in remaining quiet I lost my voice. Sure, I had a voice to advocate for everyone around me but for me it was radio silence. I’m not blaming anyone for this because I know I did the right things for the right reasons.  I wouldn’t change anything because our experiences make us into the people we are meant to become.

    This summer we stopped watching the news. It was a conscious decision that Steve and I made together and it was a good decision. I get everything I need to know from my daily conference calls and emails at work. The rest of it, the commentary especially, wasn’t good for my mental health.

    I have paid attention to the Kavanaugh hearings and as a mother of a daughter who had her own story to tell earlier this year, yesterday was gut-wrenching. Between that and everything else, I woke up on fire this morning.

    I am far from perfect and I yelled. I yelled at my daughter and my husband over things that are worthy of getting upset about. But I felt so much more inside and knew it was about far more than people not taking care of their morning responsibilities.  I had hit my limit. With everything.

    I don’t cry and this morning my daughter saw me cry for the first time ever as I apologized to her for yelling. But I wasn’t crying just because I yelled. I was crying because I woke up different. And tired.

    I’m tired of how people treat each other. I’m tired of how men treat women. I’m tired of how women treat men. And the worst, I’m tired of how women treat each other. I’m tired of trying guess what is next and what someone’s motives are. And I’m tired of things that don’t bring me peace. When you don’t have peace, you get caught up in the chaos and the next thing you know you’ve lost your voice. I know this cycle well.

    I was telling my husband last night that lately, no matter how bad my day was, writing in the evenings helped my mood. So I’ll be writing more. Writing brings me peace and gives me a voice.

    And quite possibly, more peace and feeling like I am heard will keep me from losing my mind at 7:00 am when our dogs do dumb shit. Everyone wins.

  • Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Personal

    Tidying up

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    I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up earlier this month and the book lived up to the title. There is a system to follow that I’ll let the book lay out for you if you are interested. But the basic concept is to purge by category instead of by room i.e. closets.

    You literally ask yourself if the item you are holding brings you joy. If so, keep it. If not, toss it into the donate pile. It sounds a little silly at first to ask such a simple question but it works so well.

    We started with clothes. The book suggests putting every piece of clothing you own on the floor. As in pull every shirt off it’s hanger, every pair of socks out of the drawer, and even coats from hall closets. We opted to pile everything on the bed because if we didn’t get through the clothes we weren’t going to be sleeping there. Two hours later and we were done and had immaculate and organized closets and drawers.

    Next up were the books. I’m the reader in the house so this task was on me. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to be able to part with books because I love books and having them in the house; or all over the house if we are really being honest.

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    I dumped my bookshelves, collected the books on nightstands, end tables, and even the ones in Amazon boxes. Those books are ones I typically slowly introduce into the house because my husband pays attention to silly things like new books piling up.

    I posted a before picture on Instagram showing all the books on my bed. The comments ranged from shock, mild outrage, volunteering to take books off my hands, and even a few encouraging comments. I started slow following the same process of asking myself if the book brought me joy. It was surprisingly easy.

    I attach memories to objects and books are no different. The first book I picked up was one I read when I was going through a really awful time.

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    Joy at the sight of this book? No way. Donate pile! Within an hour I had my books sorted and looking at the donate pile made me happy.

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    But what actually brought joy was to see clear shelves full of my favorite books to read again, loan to friends, or to look at the cover artwork because book covers have really become miniature works of art in the past few years.

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    I also found books that I could not believe I ever bought and read. What was I thinking? Thank God for therapy! And I’m sure I also bought and read a self help book to counteract this poison. I should find it and bundle them together before I donate this one.

    I also found some real gems I had forgotten about.

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    Don’t worry though, I still have lots of books to do fun things with. I love this cart!

  • Audiobooks,  Book Reviews,  Personal

    Lucky Boy book review

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    “She’d learned the lesson that all women learn sooner or later. If there was something to be done, she’d have to do it herself.”

    “There is a beast in all of us. On the worst things can bring it ripping through the human veneer.”

    Lucky Boy ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    This story tugged all the heartstrings and even tore a few in the process. I finished it at lunch today, ugly cried, and then had to go back to work. 😳

    Soli is 18 when she crosses the border illegally from Mexico. The journey alone was harrowing and she arrived at her cousin’s in California broken and pregnant.

    She’s determined to keep the baby and has a boy who she named Ignacio. His nickname was “Nacho” and was such an endearing reminder of how young Soli was. She finds a good job with a family, is a great mom, and everything is going well until she and her cousin are picked up by the police.

    The parallel story is Kavya and Rishi, a Berkeley couple who are desperate to have a baby. After many failed attempts they decide to foster: enter Ignacio into their lives. They nicknamed him “Iggy” and I liked how the author did this to show the contrast between the two worlds this toddler was living in.

    This was such a timely book and without spoiling the ending, the reader is forced to look at such a difficult situation where no one is right and no one is wrong.

    The audiobook was fantastic and I was amazed at the narrator pulling off both an Indian and Hispanic accent. The writing was excellent; so descriptive and vivid. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about both perspectives of the immigration debate without it being too heavy-handed or political.

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    What did I personally love about this book? The relationship between Kavya and Rishi. Their separate grief and their shared grief. The way they learned to communicate and support each other. Absolutely, I found the message of the book to be so important: awareness for the plight of the undocumented immigrant and their American citizen children. But also, what is a book if you can’t apply parts of it to your own life?

    “Why did people love children that were born to other people? For the same reason they lived in Berkeley, knowing the Big One was coming: because it was a beautiful place to be, and because there was no way to fathom the length or quality of life left to anyone.”

    This last quote has been my life the past several years. Loving children, teenagers in particular, born to other people. It’s often a thankless job and one even resented because you are “the mom” in the house but never THE mom. And don’t get me wrong, I never ever want to replace their mom but it is a purgatory I would not wish on anyone. Especially kids. So my heart went out to the characters in this book lost in a purgatory of a situation where there were no good answers and no clear signs of heading in the right direction. Sometimes all you can do is love hard and hope for the best despite the unknowns.

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