June 2019 Audiobooks

June 17, 2019 Emergence: Seven Steps for Radical Life Change by Derek Rydall

Review: Great book, inspirational. The exercises in the book were great, I had personal, permanent breakthroughs with at least two of them. I felt for little time, effort, and money, that’s really impressive and cheaper than therapy!   If I go back through the exercises, I’m confident I’ll have more breakthroughs. Biggest lesson: Your personal longings are a key to help you develop into the person you are meant to be. Trust yourself and be your own best counselor. Repeats in various ways the ideas to turn to oneself rather than outside sources for life direction. Rydall also addresses the shadow side of our longings, and how the resistance to that polarity, rather than understanding and compassion, can limit our development. I think this was presented in Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is when she says there are no thoughts you need to cut out, just meet them with love. The idea was clearer to me in Emergence. I read Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly in July, and some of the research she presented affirmed Rydall’s book. I felt the those concepts were more accessible in Emergence. I totally recommend listening to/reading this book.

May 2019 Audiobooks

May 1, 2019   The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, narrated by Simon Vance

Review: I loved this, and the narration complimented Pooh’s soothing, unruffled style. I listened to it twice. It relates The Way (of Taoism) to Pooh and common psychological alternatives to the other characters in A.A. Milne’s books. The suggestion that each character in the book series represents a different mental illness abounds on the internet. For example, Piglet exhibits anxiety, Eeyore depression, Rabbit OCD, Roo hyperactivity. On one webpage, I saw Winnie the Pooh representing ADHD. In The Tao of Pooh, Pooh represents the Tao, a near-perfect state of being present in the world. Without trying to impress others, to force change on circumstances, or to be someone else, positive outcomes seem to flow to Pooh effortlessly. He stays in the present moment and stays true to himself: “a bear of very little brain” with a fondness for honey. He’s enough and he’s also beloved.

In The Tao of Pooh, Hoff points out that rather than characterizing individuals, the “mental illnesses” illustrate components of personality in each of us. Every person has the potential to exhibit these behaviors. I can be a know-it-all, get fussy about my environment, give free reign to shame, fear, hyperactivity, and pride.

My theory is that, since Christopher Robin is the only real boy in the series, he represents the timeless entity within us, an individual’s “true self.” Christopher Robin acknowledged, accepted, and loved all the friends in the Hundred Acre Woods. He didn’t try to change them, but he didn’t let them or their idiosyncrasies overtake his own thinking. He met them with love, compassion, and boundaries. The one dearest to Christopher Robin’s heart, the one he holds closest, is Pooh Bear. According to Hoff, this is The Way of Taoism.

I’ve considered that online claim that Pooh suffers from ADHD and Hoff’s claim the Pooh is a perfect Western culture example of the Taoist “Way.” Both can be characterized as present-moment, self-directed attention. Maybe the ADHDers are onto something good.

May 3, 2019        The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Review: I love the content! My biggest surprise was that Kondo mentioned she felt connected to things more than people as a child. I didn’t, but I’ve placed people as such a priority, I often feel guilty for tending to things. Poems about letting the dishes sit in the sink and letting the laundry pile up hung on my walls over the years as moral direction for motherhood. I realized things also mean a lot to me, and without judgement about that, it’s perfectly fine. Every time I see a certain piece of art I love, I notice and am benefitted. Every time I work in an uncluttered space, I appreciate it. I like being able to easily access things I need. I enjoy the tidy look of organized materials. I like order and it’s okay that I take the necessary time from the people in my life to create that condition.

A new idea for me was that Kondo suggests getting it over with in one specific time period, rather than a never-ending process. You can do that!? She recommends it. You’ll always have to go through mail, and in the US, through the endless stream of toys and trinkets kids bring home from school, church, recreation, and even dining, but the major stuff overhaul can be completed in six months. I’m still working through my whole house de-cluttering, but the physical spaces I’ve cleared have also cleared my mind.

May 3, 2019    The Three-Day Effect by Florence Williams

Review: I remember this as a free Audible members selection in May. I thought this would be presented as a book read by a narrator, but it’s more like a collection of recorded interviews from the wilderness woven together by the author. It’s coherent and solid, but the background noise of natural recording distracted me at times. Scientific research was presented to support the personal experiences shared by participants.

I already held the conviction that nature is a healing, stabilizing, empowering force from personal experience. The three days concept was new – it takes time to untangle from the tech and thoughts about home. One must become acclimated to nature, to sense it’s grandness without overwhelm. In every case Williams used, the first day was decompression, the second day was better, and the third brought the most benefits of present-moment focus, relaxation, and feeling of well-being.

May 10, 2019      Tao Te Ching: A New English Version     Lao Tzu, Stephen Mitchell

This was a natural follow to The Tao of Pooh. It was good, I’ve listened twice. Some phrases were instant quotables for me; others I may need to ponder for years before I grasp them. It’s a standard text referred to by many of the authors I’ve read in 2018 and 2019.

May 19, 2019      Feeling is the Secret byNeville Goddard

Short and sweet, this how-to manual instructs how to access the subliminal mind (and it’s power) to create by taking care of thoughts and feelings at bedtime. I have put it to practice and had amazing experiences. It doesn’t provide content, but practical methods for engaging your mind in pursuit of your highest good.

Some alternate interpretation of Bible teachings. For example, regarding male and female relations – it’s about components of the brain rather than male and female humans. Re-interpreting these Biblical teachings would change some fundamental ideas about human relations in a few churches.

March 2019 Audiobooks

Purchase date: March 7, 2019    A Mind of Her Own by Paula McLain

Review: This was a free Audible members offering and I listened to it in one night. I loved it! It covers Marie Sklodowska Curie’s university study years until the time she got engaged, focusing on the courtship with Pierre Curie. I learned about her familial commitments, her effort and determination, some of the health costs she suffered for her work, and the science research she was doing. The romance was sweet and charming.

Purchase date: March 8, 2019 Wishes and Wellingtons by Julie Berry, read by Jayne Entwhislte

Review: Free to Audible members in March. I tend to do lots of self-help and how-to books. This is fiction and a delight. I highly recommend it. It deals with human/moral issues like loyalty, boundaries, and personal growth. No romance, no foul language. It’s funny, heart-warming and brilliant. I list the narrator’s name here because she deserves it: her performance is the pinnacle of narration. I loved Jayne’s performance so much I spent time googling her. She’s fabulous, the story is fabulous, there’s nothing holding you back from this book. Go get it; you’re welcome.

Purchase date: March 28, 2019 If God Were Your Therapist: How to Love Yourself and Your Life and Never Feel Angry, Anxious or Insecure Again  David J. Lieberman PhD

Review: This was solid but a bit dry for me. I got it because I read a paper copy of Make Peace With Anyone by the author and liked that. Boundaries, self-regulating thoughts and interactions. Judeo-Christian values.

Feb 2019 Audiobooks

Feb 6, 2019 The Jackrabbit Factor: Why You Can by Leslie Householder

Review: This was a bit slow, repetitive, and heavy-handed. It’s an allegory that gets the message across; it just belabored the point. Akin to Wallace Wattles’ The Science of Getting Rich, but the message is delivered fictionally. One scene seems to portray a mother working outside the home as turning her child into dollars for others via childcare.  Although I’ve been a SAHM for seventeen of the past twenty years, I find the idea offensive. For a variety of reasons (finances, husband’s work travel, distant from family, and nap schedules) I spent a few of those years in what felt like solitary confinement. It was a blow to my mental health to be so cut off from the outside world. If a mother wants or need to work outside the home, providing child care does not change her child into currency. On the positive side, making more money easily, as Leslie’s book aims to teach, could ease financial conditions.

Jan 2019 Audiobooks

I love my Audible membership! Here’s what I lsitened to and what I thought about it.

Purchase date: Jan 14, 2019        The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Review: Love her! Gretchen self-studied by tackling a new category in life (finance, friendship, physical fitness) each month and making a concerted effort to increase her abilities and enjoyment in her own life. I didn’t know other people did this, or maybe I didn’t know not everyone did this. I’ve conducted these experiments on myself, for myself, but didn’t realize that a one person sample was enough to write about. Silly me: Gretchen’s book’s a best-seller. I love her no-nonsense tone and her willingness to try and also drop things if they don’t work for her.

Purchase date: Jan 25, 2019        Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Review: Great book on negotiation. I listened to it twice. My take-away: repeatedly ask the question “How can I do that?” while negotiating. Also, save up so I can spend time training at Voss’s Black Swan company to be a better negotiator and (side perk) pretend I’m a secret agent.

Purchase date: Jan 31, 2019       Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Review: This was free to Audible members the month I downloaded it. I lost interest about ¾ of the way through. By then I questioned some of his life choices, including leaving his wife and child to be his best version of himself, continuing to run on splintered bones repeatedly (claiming the splintering makes his bones stronger – the opposite of what the pediatrician told me when my kid broke a bone), and the extreme lengths to which he’s gone to prove himself. He seems to be bent on punishing or proving himself, both of which cause me pause in taking his life advice. My brother was a Marine and is currently in the Army. He said people are physically and mentally capable of much more than we can imagine. I believe it. I think this is Goggins’ point, too, but he’s way over the top for me.

Update on 30 Days of Giving

Day 1 – Freezer to Girl Scouts

Day 2 – 1 hour at the pool for the littles

Day 3 – Thank you cards to my folks and a friend

Day 4 – Text to Sunday School parents and Sophia backrub

Day 5 – Played board game with Soph, Ros and Jules; took Mer to the midnight showing of Spiderman: Far From Home.

Day 6 – Watched fireworks on youtube with little girls in prep for the Fourth of July (one hated fireworks the past five years, so I’m hoping she can enjoy herself a  bit more this year).

Turtles All the Way Down book review

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I liked this book tons until the last couple of pages.

It relates a summer in the life of a teen girl with obsessive compulsive disorder and/or anxiety.

I thought Green conveyed dignity for the character suffering from the disorder(s) and did a great job illustrating “for the rest of us” what it may be like for someone suffering with the condition. Both achievements in depicting persons with mental illness are welcome and notable.

The writing was good and I have a vivid sense of the White River in Indianapolis and will remember a bit of it’s history forever. Few words, big impact. Well done, John Green.

My trouble was the last two pages, where there was a huge time warp and a somewhat depressing ending. Apparently I like happy endings and resolution. The protagonist doesn’t outgrow her mental illness, and struggles through her adult years. All this is covered in only a few paragraphs, which skips a lot of stuff I’m interested in (what happened to the lover/husband, the kids?).

Frankly, I think the book will launch more medical interest in developing better medications or cognitive therapies for people suffering from mental illnesses.

For all it’s realism, the resolution segment lacked a certain feel-good quality I prefer.

It’s my first John Green book.

My fifteen-year-old asked if anyone dies. She said someone always dies in a John Green. I told her “No.”

Upon reflection, there was a death, but it wasn’t a main character, more of a plot development.

With more reflection, perhaps John green has stuck to his reputation. While our protagonist doesn’t die physically, I felt great loss as she never-quite-made-it to the life she wanted. Heart-wrenching.

30 Day Giving Challenge

I listened to about half of Cami Walker’s 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life 29 Gifts on Audible this Spring. It was recommended by Jen Sincero in You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.

I estimate that I give a lot regularly, so I haven’t made a study of it. But the idea was coming back.

Day 1: Yesterday I decided to drop the price on an upright freezer I was selling online and get rid of it already! So, when one of my potential buyers asked if I’d be willing to donate it to the Girls Scouts, I said yes. Another buyer came by before the Girl Scouts. They left without buying, saying they’d get back to me.

The freezer was still here when the Girl Scouts Ranger showed up to collect it. I was thrilled: it was my lucky day and I got to start my thirty days off with a gift I couldn’t have imagined!

Day 2: Today I gave my three youngest kids a trip to the swimming pool for an hour. I don’t love the pool (although I do love taking photos of “the littles” poolside), and spending a couple of hours at the pool is all about them.

As I parked the car the thunder rolled into the area and we didn’t even have a chance to get out of the vehicle. It was 86 degrees and sunny. The tears started. The three-year old said “Look at me! These are real tears, Mom! I’m not fake crying!”

We drove home past Burger King, where I tried to soften the blow with ice cream and french fries. I promised to try again after their dad got home from work.

We got there again around 6:00 p.m. We were able to swim for 25 minutes before distant thunder rumbled through again. We were able to play in the sand pit until 7:00 p.m. It was far from perfect, but an hour at the pool today was my second gift.

I’ll put up a short list at the end of the 30 days.



Sophia’s a teenager!

Sophia turned thirteen!

Sophia found a few photos of Tiki cakes and we came up with our own version.

Her dad convinced her to go with funfetti-flavored cake mixes, which we made last Sunday. Six 9 inch layer cakes from three box mixes. Cooled, leveled and into the freezer Sunday night. Freezing preserves them, crumbs are brushed off without the possibility tearing the sponge, and during assembly the icing sets up fast between cold cake layers.

Wednesday I made easy homemade fondant and two batches of buttercream frosting I assembled four layers but Soph wanted five, so on went another layer. With a light crumb coat, I was out of frosting! It was nearly 10:00 p.m. and we loaded the cake in the fridge and went to bed.

Thursday we whipped up another batch of buttercream, a batch of rice crispy treats for the Tiki base, dyed, rolled, wrapped, and painted fondant. We put everything in place and finally we were done!

Happy birthday, and the best year yet, my Texas darling!

Sophia at her second birthday!
Sophia turned seven!
Sophia turned thirteen!