Gratitude Day and 50 Ways

I did a bunch of thinking in my sort-of writing-hiatus recently. I pondered how I want to spend my time and what kinds of things I want to write. And I spent a lot of time thinking about my place in this World of Blogs and what I want that to look like.

As a result of all that thinking, I’m scaling back the sponsored and promo-y stuff I’m covering on this blog because (a) I want to actually write more and (b) I’d like to focus on things that matter.

Having said that, I want to tell you about something I’ve been lucky enough to get an early look at, because it’s the kind of thing I love and I think stuff like this matters.

By way of introduction: Remember the hope notes I left in a library book? I love the idea of someone finding them and pausing for a moment. “Your dreams are worth pursuing,” they would read, and maybe trust that it was true.

Whether it’s a note left for a stranger or for someone you know, spreading love and gratitude is a beautiful thing. That’s the idea behind a new book called 50 Ways to Say You’re Awesome by Alexandra Franzen.

50_ways_cover_400

The book is full of personality. See?

sweet-potato-chips

mind-moves

sagacity

Each of these (and 47 others) is a tear-out page with some more stuff and a place to write on the back. Some of them are sweet. Others are funny, sassy, or punny.

I love it.

I’m going to use each one. I’ll put them on desks for colleagues and in the mail to friends. I’ll stick them on mirrors and under windshield wipers. I’ll leave them somewhere for people to find and smile thinking of the moment of discovery.

Isn’t that just so good?

Speaking of good, to celebrate World Gratitude Day on September 21 (tomorrow!), author Alexandra Franzen is sponsoring a pretty awesome giveaway. If you share your story about a creative way you said “thank you,” you’ll be entered to win a $500 donation to your favourite charity. You can find details on her website.

Plus, if you share an ecard through the Sourcebooks Pinterest app you could win another $100 donation to your favourite charity, plus 10 copies of the book to give to anyone who makes your life a little more awesome.

Lots of good here, people.

Intrigued by this book? Of course you are. You should get one.*

If you want one of these books and want to test your karma before buying one, you can enter to win one below.

Just promise me one thing: You will embrace gratitude and spread a little bit of love today.

*Affiliate link. Because honesty is awesome.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thoughts on Birth Plans

You probably know that the whole birth experience thing is kind of one of my passions, right? I spent four years being righteously pissed off about ending up with a scheduled C-section with Connor and the whole of this last pregnancy hoping for a different outcome. And I did get the med-free VBAC I was hoping for. (Yay!)

Last night I told Rich I kinda sorta wanted to have another birth just to know what it would be like. He looked at me like I was crazy. I don’t actually want another baby, and the thought of going through all that after-the-fact pain again freaks me right out, but I’m still curious about how it would go.

One thing I totally know — after my experiences and hearing others’ stories — is that you just never know how a birth is going to go. I knew that before I had a baby, and I really, really knew that once my first was born. And so I went into the experience with Ethan’s birth hoping and planning a little bit but trying not to get stuck on one particular outcome. [Read more...]

Review: The Secret Lives of Wives

I’ve read a couple of non-fiction books about marriage recently. One was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed: A Love Story, about the process she went through coming to terms with having to marry her Brazilian partner, Felipe, because of an issue with U.S. immigration. I liked the book all right—it’s an interesting sociological study of marriage—but, oh lord, can that woman make a big deal out of something. I don’t think she knows how to live outside a state of emotional turmoil.

In any case, the thing that struck me about Gilbert’s book is that she seems determined to believe that, in marriage, a person expects—in fact needs—her spouse to make her happy. Despite being a strong, educated, fairly independent woman, her very identity is wrapped up in her relationship. I’m sure it won’t  be a surprise to you that this is a perspective I find hard to choke down.

A while back*, another blogger I know (who works in PR) was looking for people to review a book about marriage. Laura offered up a copy of The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married. I had heard about the book because it was getting fairly sensational press and I thought it might be a juicy read.

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It was, in fact, a very good read, but not in the sense I expected. The author, bestselling journalist Iris Krasnow, interviewed more than 200 wives whose marriages have survived for 15 to 70 years to find out what they do to make their marriages last. Yes, there are the expected affairs and illicit liaisons. There are women who keep some sort of their lives secret and would never even dream of sharing that side of themselves with their husbands. Contrary to the author’s argument, however, I suspect those women aren’t as happy—or happily married—as they’re portrayed to be.

The thing that fascinated me, though, was that the book’s essential assertion is that you have to be someone separate from your husband in order to stay happily married. This, of course, is no surprise. It’s the exact opposite of Gilbert’s belief and the exact message that made me like Krasnow’s book so much more than Gilbert’s evolving narcissistic memoir. (In case you haven’t heard, I’m not a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert. Though, to be fair, in that post I did acknowledge one part of her perspective that really spoke to me.)

It’s also no surprise that in The Secret Lives of Wives Krasnow concludes that the secret to a happy marriage is as individual as the women she spoke to but that, ultimately, “marital bliss is possible if each partner is blissful apart from the other.”

So, wanna read it? Enter below.

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Review of Purple Leaves, Red Cherries

Some things capture you from the very first. That was Purple Leaves, Red Cherries for me.

“How long does it take, being a mom? When is my shift over?”

A couple of months ago, some of the Just.Be.Enough team members had a chance to get a copy of this book to read (and their posts inspired by the book went up on the site last week). I bowed out because I got to participate in the Striiv challenge, but I did get a PDF copy of the book. One look and I knew I needed to read it in its intended format, so I bought the Kindle edition. This book is stunning.

InSanity by Nomi Melul Ohad

“[In]Sanity” by Nomi Melul Ohad, first published in the book Purple Leaves, Red Cherries.

In the introduction, author Tania Elfersy describes coming up with the idea for the book: “So I got to thinking, mostly in the shower – my “room of one’s own” (where else do I get a peaceful moment by myself?)…” Oh yeah, I thought, this is an author (and mother) who gets it.

One of my rants about motherhood is that we don’t talk enough about what it’s really like. When I first became a mother I thought I was the only one who found it so hard, and I wish I’d had this book then.

“Why did it never occur to me that I could actually put down my baby and go to the bathroom?”

I dove into this book without really knowing what to expect, and I loved it so much I read it in one sitting. It contains several different categories of stories by real moms and each story is short. Really short, which makes it so easy to read (especially for tired moms who don’t get through more than a few sentences of a book before falling asleep at night). The categories demonstrate the complexity of motherhood, and the organization of the book makes it easy to go back and read something related to your own struggle and realize you’re not so alone.

“Who I Was, Who I Am” includes stories of women’s identities before and after children – one of my favourite topics.

“Love” is both heartbreaking and beautiful in its stories of mothers’ love for their children.

“Difficult Days” hit me right in the gut. Those could have been my stories.

They even tackled sex.

“But the thought of it. It’s so exhausting. I want a cup of tea, damn it!”

And the artwork is totally captivating. It gives the book a personality. It makes it sing.

Boundaries and Balance by Nomi Melul Ohad

“Boundaries and Balance” by Nomi Melul Ohad, first published in the book
Purple Leaves, Red Cherries.

Sprinkled throughout the stories in the book—amid the admissions of tiredness and difficult days—is the one almost universal truth about motherhood: There’s nothing else in the world like it.

“..the incomparable, heart-stopping joy of then and now and always being my daughter’s mother.”

Trust me, you should read this. You’ll be glad you did.

(All quotes are from the book.)

PurpleLeavesRedCherries-front-cover

Purple Leaves, Red Cherries is available in hardcover on Amazon, and for a limited time the Kindle edition is only $0.99!

To share some of this beauty with you (and with thanks to Tania Elfersy) I’m giving away a Purple Leaves, Red Cherries poster. One winner will receive a 24″x16″poster on semi-gloss poster paper, valued at US$21.70.(Visit the book’s website to see poster designs.)

Giveaway is open to US, Canada, Australia and the UK. (Poster sizes may vary to meet the country standards.) Closes at midnight on Dec. 21 (which is my birthday – just sayin’) after which one winner will be selected through Rafflecopter.

Note: I was not compensated to write this review and I bought the Kindle edition with my own dollar. I just really like this book. After getting to know Tania a bit through her blog and on Twitter I really like her too and am happy to help her promote this wonderful (self-published!) book. Which is to say: All opinions are my own.

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Book Review: The Lake of Dreams

I’ve never been part of a book club – the idea of having to read something on a schedule always seemed like too much pressure. And what if I didn’t like the book but felt obligated to finish it? What if I didn’t have anything intelligent to say? All those worries seem to go away when you’re a mom with a job and little time to read. Sometimes being “forced” to read something other than Curious George’s latest escapade is actually a good thing.

I joined the BlogHer Book Club with this in mind, and it’s been great. I’ve liked the books we’ve read so far, and the latest is no different.

Lake of Dreams coverThe Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards (author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter) is great for escapism. It took a while for me to get into it, and I found the early parts of the mystery that’s central to the story a bit cryptic. A few too many references to history and characters meant to sound intriguing but who, at that point, I felt no connection to. But with the journey of Lucy, the main character, and the meaning-of-life element, I knew it was going somewhere good.

The Lake of Dreams is Lucy’s hometown, where she returns after her mother has an accident. She’s looking for meaning in her own life—having flown home from Japan, where she lives with her boyfriend Yoshi without a job to keep her fulfilled—and immediately dives into her family’s history. Everything from her father’s relationship with his brother to his untimely death swirls around Lucy, causing angst and setting a questioning tone. But when she finds old papers, including letters written by a mystery woman, things start to get interesting.

I didn’t entirely buy the premise—that a whole family history, including secrets formerly unknown, could be unravelled by a seemingly coincidental discovery of hidden papers—but if you apply the suspend-disbelief philosophy it’s an intriguing read. It’s not a terribly intellectual one (though sometimes that’s just what a tired mom needs) but one of the aspects of the BlogHer Book Club I like most is the chance to pretend I’m in high school English again and pick apart a book at a level deeper than what my brain can process in the few minutes before I fall asleep at night. Come and join in – the first question (Do you act from love or from anger?) has me hooked already.

 

This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.