Category Archives: Books

Slow down, you move too fast…

This new “job” doing bookkeeping for the church has been a really great thing for me. Missing the work these past four years, and wondering if I was even still capable, really wore down my confidence level. But as I do this job, day by day, my confidence is building back up. This time, however, I’m doing the work with a full reliance on God to help me through.

The only problem might be that I’m taking it a little too seriously. As my husband said to me the other night, I’m going at this like it’s my career. True, I was up a little too late straining my eyes on balancing and reconciling. I forced myself to go to bed and get some rest, but it was too late. I had already pushed myself past my limit. The next day I had some serious pain in my left eye (my ‘good’ eye). It figures the right eye was fine, as she is absolutely useless. The sharp, throbbing pain was surprisingly more tolerable than my regular headache. I just put an eye patch over that eye, sat back with a cup of coffee and my Les Mis soundtrack, and rested for awhile. It was much better by the evening, but hopefully I’ve learned my lesson not to overdo it.

Today the kids are home for a snow day so it’s nice to have the company. They are busy playing their video games and I’ve just been putzing around the house, doing some reorganizing. It’s a lazy day, and I’m loving it. I started reading Lord of the Rings this week and I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. Humor was not something I expected, but it’s given me a few laughs and I’m only on the third chapter. I’m trying to move away from my normal genre of legal thrillers. I just finished Angela’s Ashes and Cider House Rules and they were both great books. My list of books to read is growing shorter, so if you have any books you would suggest I read, let me know.

I’m struggling to find a smooth transition to a closing, so I’m just going to leave it here. Have a happy Friday everyone!

 

 

 

Reading

When I came to bed last night I found a note on my bedside table from my son. He was asking if we could go to the library the following day, and if so, he asked that I wake him up. That last part is laughable because he’s an early riser – no way am I getting up before him. But I was touched by the request anyway, and super proud that with one week left of summer, my kid wants to walk two miles to READ. 

We had a great time. Luke checked out some Michigan Chiller books he had been wanting to read, and Natalie perused the children’s cookbooks. Then they both put on a couple puppet shows for me, and we headed back, stopping for lunch on the way. 

Nothing super special, but we all really just enjoyed each other’s company and had a good time. These are the times I hope they will cherish and store away in their memory banks for years and years to come. 

Do more of what makes you happy

I have a sign hanging in my living room that says “Do more of what makes you happy”. I look at it regularly and it always makes me wonder: what makes me happy? I really want to know, so that I can follow this rule. I feel like I lost some of this self-awareness when I lost my hearing, and I certainly don’t do many of the things that make me happy. So I thought I would start a list (I love lists) here on the blog, and maybe it would help me to think of those things and perhaps take some steps to start doing those things.

What makes me happy:
1) Drinking coffee – I do that plenty
2) Tattoos – I only have four, plenty room for more
3) Concerts – The hearing loss makes this extra challenging and scary, because I don’t know if I would enjoy them the same, but it’s worth a shot, right?
4) The city – I love walking around cities, big, small, it doesn’t matter. Chicago, Lansing, Mason, they all fascinate me.
5) Reading – On any given day my mind is partly stuck in a good book. Reading makes me happy, for sure.

That’s it. I can’t think of any more. I’m sure there are more, but that’s a start. Maybe more ideas will come to me in my dreams tonight.

What about you? Tell me readers, what makes YOU happy?

Permission to purge

“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Kondo, Marie
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KK0PICK

I am loving loving loving this book and what it is teaching me. I am gaining some really fresh insight about what things to keep, what to discard, and why. I have done a great deal of de-cluttering around the house that turned out making our move to this new home much easier. I started the purging process long before we even knew we would be moving, but I’m so glad I did. The packing and unpacking would have been a major cluster****. However, I am still frustrated on a fairly regular basis as I come across things that lack a home and/or take up space. But this woman who has mastered the art I strive for has given a beautiful explanation for my frustration. Why am I so irritated? Because these things don’t bring me joy. They have served their purpose and it’s okay to let them go.

It’s okay! Goodbye to the labelmaker that no longer connects to my computer. I made plenty of labels with it. I can say goodbye to that tailored green jacket. I wore it when it fit post-pregnancy and I don’t plan to be that heavy again. I can even say goodbye to the clown afghan my grandmother crocheted for me when I was a little girl. I enjoyed it, loved it nearly to pieces, but it’s time to let it go. The memories will remain. Ah, this is such a freeing feeling for me. I can discard things and forget about feeling guilty. I can’t wait to get to it.

But for now, I’m honestly still recovering from having the kids home for Christmas break, so I’m tired. And it’s flipping cold, so that doesn’t help. My legs are not cooperating, because the extreme temperatures and MS do not get along. So well just have to table this discussion for later. Such is my life, and we keep moving on. Walk on, my friends, walk on.

Whodunnits

I am reading this book – “Sharp Objects: A Novel” by Gillian Flynn. It’s so hard to put down! I just have to know whodunnit. I think it must have been Adora but don’t tell me. I’m only two thirds of the way through.

I’ve always loved a good mystery. I am my mother’s daughter 🙂

Experiment

So. I’ve been feeling rather irritated with myself lately, or just irritated in general, I can’t decide which. I find myself wasting a lot of time. It’s true that I have a lot of time with being home all day, no job, kids at school, and I can certainly afford to waste it. But I just don’t feel satisfied with that. I believe when I get in the habit of wasting a lot of time, that it sends me on a sluggish spiral down to Lazy Town. Then nothing gets accomplished. No book gets written, no good meals get planned or prepared, the dust starts to settle and cake up on the surfaces (metaphorically, mostly. Mostly.).

So I made an executive decision today and uninstalled Facebook from my phone. Because I’m pretty positive that’s what’s causing most of this. Not all, but a good portion of it. I also spend a lot of time reading books on my phone, but I’m not ready to call that “wasting time”. I love the books.

Here’s the issue with Facebook lately. My feed is 90% BORING. The other 10% contains thoughts and stories and updates from people I actually know. I know some people have decided to check out of Facebook altogether, but that 10% I would be missing is too important to me to give up. So rather than giving it up, I’m just going to limit my exposure to the section of the day when I intentionally sit down with my laptop to “work”. I have my alloted time every day to work: pay bills, plan meals, write, etc. and when I’m done working or need a break I can hop over to Facebook and catch up. So I’ll still be around, but it won’t consume my time or thoughts. In theory, of course, it’s only been 12 hours 😉

Painting

Oh my goodness. This past weekend was a whirlwind. Lots of fun activities going on. I can’t quite process it all. In fact, it has sort of left me in a State of Funk. (Also, I just finished reading The Giver, so I’m tempted to capitalize the Common Words. My apologies. Do you accept my apology, Giver Fans?)

Anyhoo, Saturday we went to Luke’s soccer game, and Grandpa took us out for lunch after. Natalie was wanting to do something special with me, so we went to this local “paint your own pottery” place called Playing Picasso. We had so much fun! Natalie was ecstatic, and had so much fun that she has decided she would like to have her 7th birthday party there (because her 6th is already planned). Of course she only gets one birthday per year, so she has the next three all planned out. This year is laser tag, next year pottery painting, and the year after that roller skating. Well, at least we have time to plan lol. Anyway, I really liked this place, and I’m already thinking I would like to come back on my own and paint some stuff. Maybe I’ll  even throw myself a party one of these times.

On a normal day, the pottery painting was A LOT of art for this girl here, but I didn’t stop there. No sirree, I had plans to go to Painting With a Twist with a friend that evening. This was a completely new experience for me, but I had heard from other people that it’s a lot of fun. They get 20 or so people set up at tables, with brushes and paint, and then an instructor guides everyone through painting a masterpiece. After 2 hours, you have 20 matching paintings (in theory) and they take a group photo while everyone stands proudly holding their finished paintings.

I was a little hesitant to do this, knowing I would have trouble seeing and hearing the instructor, but we had them place us right up front. This way we had a better chance at reading lips, and could readily ask questions as needed. I ended up asking a lot of questions, mostly relating to which color was which on my palette. My vision is bad, but not in the way most would think. I have a much smaller field of vision, but within that field I am able to see 20/20 with my left eye (20/40 with the right). Colors on the other hand, are hard to distinguish. So most of my questions were relating to the colors: which one is blue? Is this one green? Can you show me where I just painted the white circle? White on white is impossible for me to see, and that happened to be the first thing we did. Oh, I could have freaked out right there, but I decided not to. I was determined to have fun, no matter what, and that is exactly what I did. Even when I lost my balance trying to reach the top of my canvas and almost knocked over the entire effing table. Yes, I lost it. Fell right over onto the table. But I quickly recovered, exclaimed “oops, I forgot I have poor balance”, laughed at myself, and moved on.

At the end of the day, I went home with some fun memories and a painting that turned out to look pretty darn cool!

Painting With A Twist
Painting With A Twist

It may not seem like a big deal for most, but it was to me. I am still, two years later, adjusting to life with hearing and vision loss. I am almost daily faced with tasks that are new to me. New to the NEW Me, not the Old Me. And that can sometimes be a smidge frightening, but I am also daily making the decision to ignore that fear and just keep moving forward. Because today is a gift, and I refuse to waste it being afraid. Do you hear that? Life is a gift! Open that bad boy up!!

Shalom

I have done almost nothing today. I mean, no real work or housekeeping or other responsible adult type of activities. Here was my day so far:

  1. Morning preparations: fed the kids breakfast, packed lunches, made coffee
  2. Took the kids to the bus stop – get this, it’s a 2 minute walk. TWO!
  3. Read a book while Piper slept at my feet. (Piper is the dog, in case you’re new here)
  4. Fixed my morning smoothie with banana, strawberries, and blueberries.
  5. Took Piper outside and played fetch.
  6. Had lunch – made a sandwich on buttered toast with leftover tomato, green pepper, onion, and fresh basil. It was surprisingly yummy!
  7. Finished reading the book (a Grisham novel…The Racketeer. Not his best work but it still kept me entertained).

Mixed in with all of that was some Facebook browsing and texting with a friend. Not much else. So it’s been a long overdue lazy day, I guess. I still have an hour before I’ll leave to meet the kids at the bus stop, and I haven’t decided how to spend it. Getting bored is kind of unnerving for me. I think I’ve forgotten how to relax.

Now, lest you get all envious of my luxurious life of no job and no responsibilities (sort of), I feel like I should remind you that what I have here is a trade-off. Multiple sclerosis, sudden deafness, visual impairment. So while it is nice on days like today to be home, I still have my regular struggles. I am extremely grateful to be home for my family and I am also extremely grateful to be able to rest when I need it. Today was a day of rest. Shalom.

On healing and cardboard boxes

I have been reading a wonderful book written by Joni Eareckson-Tada called “A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty”. If you haven’t heard of Joni, I’ll give a brief background. She is an accomplished author and advocate for the disabled. She  sings and paints and hosts a radio show. What is so remarkable about this is that she was in a diving accident in 1967, at the age of 17, and has been a quadriplegic ever since. Her entire adult existence spent in a wheelchair, completely dependent on others. And yet she lives and breathes and inspires others to do the same (you know, to live).

Joni talks about the issue of divine healing. I know God can heal, and I have prayed countless times for it. Yet physical healing hasn’t happened for me. And some Christians will try to say if you’re not healed it’s because of a secret sin, or lack of faith. I’m here to declare that’s horse dookie. God will heal me, in His time.

Besides, if He isn’t healing me now, I trust that it is for a purpose. What that is exactly, I can only speculate. In fact, I believe God shared some of it with me today, through Joni’s book. She was describing the great analogy of the treasures in jars of clay, or in modern terms, gifts in a cardboard box. The box is just what holds the gift. It does not need to be fancy or even well-made. In fact, the more beat up the box looks, the more the gift inside will stand out. Do you see? Light shining through the dark, a gift glowing out of a cardboard box. The plainer the packaging, the brighter the light shines.

So I can understand why God has allowed my ears and eyes to fail. My disability brought me home, and gave me the gift of time. Time to give to my family and friends and ultimately, to God. That gift of time is the shining light in the darkness of hearing and vision loss. If the latter were the means to that end, I am thankful for all of it.

Can’t put it down!

Have you ever read a book that you just can’t put down? I was an avid reader as a child, but that went away as I entered the “real world” and responsibilities moved in and crowded out any time or mental capacity to read for fun. Lately, however, I am rekindling that love of reading. It started with a book my mom let me borrow (via Amazon Kindle, which is cool). It was a book I couldn’t put down, and when I finished it I had to find more books by the same author to devour. See, I’m so used to my time being limited that I am not so willing to waste my time (or money, I suppose) on a book I won’t absolutely love. So finding an author I know I like helps.

The book that rekindled my love of reading was “Don’t Let Me Go” by Catherine Ryan Hyde. The next book I found of hers was “When I Found You”, and then “Walk Me Home”. Each of those were just as gripping as the first. But free books are not always readily found, so I took a short break. When I returned, I found a special on a book by Annalisa Grant, called The Lake. It’s a trilogy, which requires much more commitment than I was ready to hand over, but the first book was free, so I downloaded it (I only read books on my Kindle because with my poor vision, the contrast of black ink on white paper is too tiring). I forgot about the book for several weeks, but then just last week I saw it and decided to give it a shot. The rest is history. I’m half way through the second book ($3 on Amazon) and I am loving it. I have shed more tears from these books (happy cries as well as sad cries) than I ever have with any other book. The last time I remember crying his hard from a fictional story was years ago when I watched “P.S. I Love You” (I was crying so hard I had to pause the movie for several minutes, and then I think I may have called my mom for consolation).

So there we have it. Now that I’m not wasting my time with television, I’ve replaced that vice with books. It’s very hard to break away, but kids are persistent and not afraid to tell you what they want or need, so I’ve managed to balance my renewed addiction with making peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and painting nails. Natalie and I even had a lovely time this afternoon, snacking on carrot sticks and hummus and sugar snap peas.