I am going to tackle Amazon’s 100 Books to Read In Your Lifetime List.
I have read many of the books on this list but certainly not the majority of them and of those I have read, most of them were a really long time ago and I never remember anything I read so I am really looking forward to working my way through the list, re-reading some old favorites, rediscovering some long forgotten and enjoying the thrill of a great new book.
In addition to blog posts along the way, official book reviews will be posted both here and on Amazon. I have added a place in the sidebar to easily find out where I am am in my journey and how to access all the content it produces. Here we go!
Gone Girl – Book Review
I was thrilled to see that Gone Girl was on the list as I just finished it this last Sunday as my Mother’s Day treat to myself. So, we will start there.
Gone Girl is superbly written almost the entire way through. I love the chapter by chapter change of voice and how the story converged on itself and flipped on its head around every corner. I can see how this translated easily into a screen play and I look forward to watching the movie and seeing how everything translates. I am very glad I didn’t give in to this movie before reading the book.
My favorite part of reading this book is how the author made me feel like I was solving the crime right up to the point when I realized I knew nothing. Exhilarating!
My one gripe would be the ending. It just seemed a little flat and instead of building to an ending that left me feeling satisfied and exhausted the way I felt it should, it almost let the rest of the book down by just sort of petering out.
Still very worth the read. A great summer beach or vacation read. Couldn’t put it down. Good fun crime drama.
Wild – Book Review
Yes, I know it isn’t on the list, but I think that maybe it should be. This is the other book I read on my recent trip to Hawaii. Wild triggered my insatiable reading instinct once again and for that I will always be grateful.
I devoured Wild. I felt so connected to her story and like I was right there on the trail with her the entire time. The imagery was vivid and the characters along the way endearing and worth knowing.
I relate greatly to the author’s quest for major change and the idea of leaving one life behind and embarking on a new one. When one does this, there is a time of transition and it is definitely made easier by a big adventure or life changing event. For me, I knew I must leave my old life and the destructive patterns, unhealthy relationships and dead end prospects in order to find my new and true path. I didn’t hike the PCT but I embarked on my own harrowing journey of growth and self discovery through a summer at girl scout camp. It was nothing that I expected it would be, much harder than I could have imagined and exactly what I needed it to be.
This book was so well written from the first line to the last. I walked the entire way with her and when forced to put it down could not wait for the next opportunity to read it again. I cried at the end, as much for the end of my journey as the end of hers.
Next up ? Let’s start at the beginning with 1984
My laptop got a new look this week. I had been noticing on some of my favorite TV shows that people had these beautiful laptop covers. I chose this design called Daisy Yin Daisy Yang as it will coordinate well with the new design I have in mind for my home office.
I am so excited to actually have a real honest to goodness home office I can’t even control myself. Currently it is a total wreck and full of boxes that haven’t been unpacked, a whole house full of artwork and right now, about six stacks of clean folded clothes that need to be put away. Not ideal, but now that gymnastics season is over, I am excited to get started setting it up.
These skins come in many beautiful designs. Everything you can imagine is available from dark and broody to bright and girly, science or art from the greats. No matter what your style is there is definitely a fit for you.
It was very easy to put on and with the help of a sharp knife I was able to adjust it for my full flip screen hinges. You can see in the picture that they are cut out but still look seamless and great. Super easy.
This also isn’t only for your laptop. These skins are available for all sorts of devices: Phones, tables, game concoles etc.
I am really excited about my fancy new laptop skin and stay tuned for updates on my new office space.
Oh my god was she cute. So adorable and little and just starting out on her journey. My, how far she has come. Three seasons later she is a Level 7 and just down right amazing. She is so focused and driven and knows exactly where she wants to go. I am always floored by her commitment and passion. She works so hard and just blows my mind daily.
Here is her state meet video. She scored a personal best and came in 4th in the toughest age group. Couldn’t be more proud of my girl. Follow her on my Youtube Channel.
I think it would be fair to say that we would all like to find that perfect center point of what we love and what we are good at and what can provide us with a living that enables us to live the lifestyle we desire whether that is living in a mansion and driving a ferari or surfing the beaches of the world or living off the grid in Alaska. None of those, of course, are my desired lifestyle and probably not yours either. But, it is very important to know what your desired lifestyle is because it is key to finding that perfect center point.
One day during a therapy session we were discussing what comes next. I had spent years doing what I liked to call slaying dragons. Wow, I had a lot of crap and ghosts and demons to deal with. But taking the time to do that work was by far the best thing I ever did for myself. The result, however, was a sort of blank slate, wondrous and terrifying all at the same time. So now what?
My therapist recommended the book “What Color is Your Parachute?“. I laughed out loud – really. What did she think I was, graduating from high school or picking a major? Ok Mom. Ha!
But she insisted that I take a look, she said that she had used it to make her mid career course correction and that it may really help me, and that it certainly did. This book is awesome and provided me with a perspective I would never of even been capable of seeing as a teenager or young person. It takes a certain level of maturity to really look at yourself objectively through the eyes of someone with the life experience to understand who they really are.
Now, I will admit, I did not complete the entire set of exercises. Wow, it is really in depth, but I did complete a good chunk and certainly enough for me to get a good look and some ideas about where to go from here, which was the entire point after all. From there, the ideas really just fell out of my head. I couldn’t stop them. Focusing the chaos in my brain has always been a major challenge for me so you can only imagine what this was like. But, in the end, one glaring word would not leave me alone and I am super excited to actually, finally after all these years get moving on this adventure. In the end I am a writer.
So how did I get there?
The book asks you to look back at all the things you have done in your life and think about what you really loved about each thing and what you were really good at. It was fascinating because the same thing kept popping out again and again no matter what the context. I liked to be given a problem or question, or even come up with one of my own, and then figure it out, research it, and come back to present the solution or my opinion of what the solution or answer or whatever is. This is something I had found myself really liking about all the things I had done in my life from the activities of my childhood to school and college to menial jobs I had had to the career job I had chosen to the role I play in my volunteer and parent communities. I like to help people learn about things, I like to solve problems and figure things out, analyze them and see why things are they way they are and what would might be a better direction if there is one.
Oh, and I like to learn. I love to learn, about everything. I have to be the most curious person I know and I bet that the people who know me best and love me most would agree because I am constantly bugging them with questions or rambling on and on about something random I have been thinking about, things most of them would never have thought to think about. It is not a rare occasion for these same loved ones to roll there eyes or sigh at whatever I am chewing on today.
Growing up I remember my mom filling the shelves with encyclopedias, dictionaries and all those every answer to every question ever asked books. Gotta give her credit, she taught me how to research early. “I don’t know honey, why don’t you go look that up” was her stock answer to my millions of questions. The internet was the best thing that ever happened to me. Too bad it was too late to help my mom out while I was growing up.
And, because my writing prompt task for the day is to tell you all something I would rather people not know about me or am embarrassed to say out loud, I will tell you the real kicker. I love to be seen as the smart one and the one who knows stuff. My dream would be to be seen as an expert or scholar or deep thinker, someone who can envision ideas and solutions to the problems of the world. Of course, I have yet figured out how to focus or corral my brain enough to make any serious progress toward that goal. Structure is not my strength, lets say. Yet, I am quite confident in my intellectual capabilities and also am plenty self aware about my many limitations both mentally and emotionally, but I get an amazing amount of fulfillment in other people seeing me as someone they can turn to, both for information and solutions as well as support and comfort, because for those people that can put up with my crazy and my constant ramblings about meaningless nuggets stuck in my craw, I am fiercely loyal and would move heaven and earth for them. There, assignment complete now stop judging me. LOL!
I always joke that if I could go back and do it again I would go straight through and get my PhD so that I could be a professor. The university campus is one of my most favorite places on earth. I just soak it all up and my heart sings. But, the hard truth is that I have never been able to narrow down what I want to learn and teach about. There is never anything that specific that speaks to me.
So immediately as I was writing this and back when I was working my way through the parachute book, I thought teacher was the obvious choice. I will focus myself and pick a topic and teach about it. Perfect! But, we haven’t looked at the lifestyle side of things yet.
This is why an aptitude test or simply following your “dream” isn’t enough. You have to look at the whole picture. What do you want your life to look like, day in and day out. What lifestyle do you want to live. Do you want luxurious things, do you want to travel the world, do you want to have dirty hands and work outside, do you want to be alone most of the time, do you want to be interacting with others most of the time, do you like people, are you tolerant, patient, ambitious, selfless, do you like to drive, do you want to work in an office or would you rather be outside or out and about in the world. These are difficult and complicated questions and something you really must think all the way through. Take a moment and think about five and ten and fifteen years from now. It’s 10:30 AM. What do you want to be doing? It is 2:00 PM what do you want to be doing? Walk through your ideal day. What does it look like?
I found, for myself that going to an office or workplace a certain number of hours a day did not ever play into that picture. I want my day to be filled with challenging work and intellectual stimulation but certainly not an office building and being forced to be outside all the time isn’t really my thing either. I want to structure my day the way that works for me and that is flexible enough to absorb all the ups and downs of the day. I want to be there for all parts of my kids lives and still have something for myself, but for me that something for myself does not have to take the front seat. I don’t need that in the same way that others do. Flexibility is the key word in my ideal lifestyle. I like to do things on my own terms and in my own time with the flexibility to handle all life’s responsibilities and tasks in a way that keeps me sane. As an introvert, I have to be aware to make space for quiet and solitude and also make time for connection else risk isolation.
Doesn’t everyone want to do whatever they want on their own terms, you may say? Exactly, but that certainly doesn’t look the same for everyone, even everyone with the same assets and talents.
My husband, for example, if asked what an ideal day looks like, he would tell you walking a beach or sitting on a lanai with a glass of wine or hiking a trail, all in hawaii, his favorite place on earth. But, would he want to live there and do that day in and day out? No, not at all. He loves his corporate gig. He loves being a part of that community, takes pride in telling people where he works, gets a lot of fulfillment out of also being the one people can turn to, but for him it is all about getting things done. He loves to check things off the list, get the work done. He loves the hustle and bustle and as much as he loathes it sometimes, he even likes the stress that comes with the amount of responsibility he has. Though it weighs on him, it also lifts him up when someone acknowledges he is doing a good job or he solves a problem for someone and when people see him as a leader in his job. Although we have very similar assets and intellectual desires, our lifestyle choices are very different.
Luckily as with most things in our lives we balance each other here as well. We relate to one another, can help one another and always have lots of things to talk about and debate and love to sit and plan and come up with solutions together. His lifestyle choice and successes have also made it possible and easy for me to make my own lifestyle choice and for that I am very grateful. Don’t think that I don’t know how choosing your lifestyle isn’t a short term option for everyone, believe me I have been there, but I would argue that anyone can work toward a goal of a long term lifestyle choice. Only you control your future. Don’t like where you are then take a step to change it, even just a small one can make a profound difference.
Here, buy this book. It’s a start.
That is a long way from who I used to be, so angry and insecure. But within that anger and self loathing came a voice. The voice that wrote so much so long ago, the voice that struggled once it’s owners healing began. That voice had so much to say and such depth to draw from. For years now I have struggled with what a happy, well adjusted forty year old might have to say that would be interesting. That angry girl I used to be at least was interesting, or so at least that is how I felt for a while.
For years now, I have wondered what I have to say from this place. Nobody wants to read cheerful crap from someone with a great life. They want snark and humor and to feel connected to those worse off than them to make themselves feel a bit better about how miserable they are in there own lives. Well guess what? I think the version of myself that thinks that is full of crap. First of all, anyone who knows me will tell you I am far from cheery. But I am a bit snarky and even somewhat funny on a good day. And I do have something to say.
Finally, I think I can hear this version of my writing voice and am excited to see what it might have to share with the world. People do want to feel connected, and I can’t wait to connect in that way again, but they also want to feel inspired and challenged. They want to think deeply and question. They want to laugh and cry and feel. These are all the things I want too and I am finally in a place where I can see that these are the people I want to write for and I am ok with letting go of the other.
This is the first time I have sat down to write in a very long time. I know I am rambling but I am being gentle with myself rather than critical. Let the words flow, let the thoughts ramble. It doesn’t matter because I am writing and finally taking a step toward the person I was always supposed to be.
We are so proud of our little gymmie. She has worked so hard and pushed back from injury. Skills were gained and lost and gained again. Many huge accomplishments and minor setbacks. This is the nature of this sport and her passion and dedication never ceases to amaze me. Her strength and grace under pressure astounding.
Congrats on a great fist season baby. Onward and upward!
About six months ago, we welcomed a new addition to our family. An eight week old Entlebucher Mountain Dog named Dulcinea Berlin de Tierra Alta. We just call her Nea (Nay-a) or as she seems to come to best Nene. Leave it to this family to have a dog that comes to the name of trashy reality TV star.
She is full of beans and very drivey. That means that her herding instinct is very strong. She is super bossy, especially with EB who she sees as that naughty small cow. That naughty cow really needs a lot of management.
So, very sadly, my father died about five months ago when Nea was around 3 months old. So, while she needed us to be strong and stable leaders for her, we were a total mess. This was a very bad combination of events and we ended up in a big mess with Miss Nea. She was out of hand.
My father dying has been a strange and unsettling experience for me. Please don’t think me callous or unfeeling, it was very traumatic and sad and heart breaking. But, my father and I had just reunited only a year prior after being estranged for over 20 years. He left me when I was 13 years old and was not a father to me after that. I have very happy memories of my childhood with my Daddy, but that was a long time ago and that man was no more. I had spent years in therapy getting over the anger I had towards him. I had let that anger create havoc in my life for many years. After settling these things with myself, I felt it was time to settle things with him as well.
When I saw him, I was so surprised that he wanted anything to do with me. He had never reached out to me before that, yet according to him he had tried to be there, but my Mom wouldn’t let him. As we compared stories, it was extremely upsetting for me. I didn’t know whose version of my childhood was true as we had three distinctly different versions. I was really angry with him and my mom because it was really apparent that neither one of them could put their own stuff aside long enough to see what would have been the right thing for me. What happened to going to court and getting shared custody like normal people? I know that they were doing what they thought was best at the time, but as a parent I simply don’t understand what circumstances could have led to such a debacle and I don’t understand how you can know your child is in so much pain and not do anything to help them.
But, I also know that I will never know the real truth as we all have been steeping in our perceptions for 25 years. My only choice is to forgive and move on and that is what I am doing.
When he died, I learned what grieving was all about. For many years I was so full of anger that I didn’t even know what it felt like to be sad. I lost all touch with my emotions. It was just all anger all the time. My therapist has been helping me a lot with sad, that seems to be the hardest for me. I still don’t feel like I have had the chance just to miss my dad and be sad. I hope that comes with the settlement of his legal affairs and the final and official removal of his crazy life from mine.
Unfortunately I have had to deal with this crazy woman who fancied herself his wife, although that was not the case and the way my father spoke about her as well as her behavior since his death has proven to me that she is in fact a little crazy, just like he said she was. It is so sad. I tried so hard to do the right thing and be respectful of her and their relationship, even though my dad told me time and again that she would pull all the things that she has and that I shouldn’t trust her and should prepare myself for what would happen when he died. I so did not prepare myself and he did not finish what he needed to finish to make sure I wouldn’t have to deal with all this.
Death does funny things to people and I have learned more than I ever cared to know about it all. Finally, I just hired a lawyer because it was all just too much. Losing a parent it hard enough without having to deal with someone else’s crazy bullshit. It brought up all that anger all over again. It has been really hard. I am looking forward to being able to spend some quite time with my dad and my thoughts and my memories. I am looking forward to letting go of the anger and being able to just remember the short time we got to spend together.
Life has just been crazy. I am working through my grief as the lawyer works through the estate. We are working very hard to help Nea recover from her complete lack of leadership and to become the strong, loving and stable pack leaders that she needs so badly. She has come so far.
On the exciting front, The Fellows is coming to the end of her first competitive gymnastics season. It has been a long and bumpy road, but we are so proud of her and all her work and look forward to years of gymnastics to come. She is our super star.
EB is crazy as ever. He is enjoying soccer and very excited to start Kindergarten in the fall. I can not wait to see who he becomes over the next couple of years.
Welcome to the new and improved Redesigned Mom. This will now serve to chronical our family journey. Take a look at The Redesigned Group to see what else I’m up to.
Take care and talk soon.
She promptly informed me that she didn’t want to go if she had to miss practice. Always dedicated, she is. Well, I promptly informed her that I had purchased the tickets and we were going, but that we could compromise and go to the first half of practice and leave straight for the show.
Besides the gymnastics factor, we had several more stacked against us. First, she is not a princess kind of girl and Cinderella is her least favorite of the princesses. Also, she had seen a children’s performance of another play and had enjoyed it but wasn’t really all that impressed. I don’t think she really had any concept of what a major theater production was all about.
As the day arrived, she seemed to be a little more enthusiastic. It probably didn’t hurt that she had accomplished two major feats at the gym that week and was putting a little less pressure on herself for the upcoming first meet ever.
She also found out that several of her teammates had gone to the show as well and they had liked it. A little friend endorsement certainly never hurts.
So, we went to dinner and over to the show. The lobby was overflowing with little girls in princess dresses and tiaras. Meanwhile, The Fellows is dressed very cutely in a cotton dress and leggings over her leo. We did the best we could to clean up but a sweaty pony and chalk smudges were unavoidable. She still looked beautiful to me. I think she looks the most adorable right after gym; sweaty, red, and covered with chalk. Someone asked her where her tiara was, and she just looked at her blankly and said “HUH?”.
But, then the show started. I have to say, it wasn’t my favorite of the musicals I have seen lately, but watching her loving it so much was absolutely priceless. She got a little restless during the slow numbers and romantic parts, but she thought the stepsisters were hilarious and the fairy godmother’s pyrotechnics were awesome. There was a point when the entire stage was lit up like the fourth of July. Very cool.
The one thing I thought was really great about this show was the message. The story was updates, the cast multiethnic and the moral was very good. The focus was on taking responsibility for your dreams and doing the work and then anything is possible, even if everyone else says it is totally impossible.
Here is Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother rehearsing our mutually favorite number “Impossible”.
My absolute favorite part of the evening and my most recent flabbergastedly proud mama moment was the car ride home. Here is how it went…
The Fellows: Mama, are impossible dreams really possible?
Me: Well, yes, most of the time.
The Fellows: Then I want to be a princess when I grow up.
[At this point my jaw dropped and heart sank just a little. Great, taking her to see Cinderella had turned her]
Me: Wow, so what does being a princess mean to you?
The Fellows: [Thinks for several seconds and then answers] Being responsible for yourself and really really nice.
Me: [I think I may have made some strange sound at this point] I think that is a wonderful thing to want to be honey.
God, I love that kid. She makes me so proud every day.
Well, unless your camping, it’s kinda gross.
Adam Braverman to his dad in regard to wearing his shirt two days in a row.
Perfectly delivered, excellent writing.
Just as a teaser, there will be a major redesign and new features as well as new, more targeted content to enjoy.
I am so looking forward to embracing the researcher and writer that I now know I am.
Things may be a little messy during the transition, so please be patient. In the end it will all be worth it.
Big changes folks. Stay tuned!