106: Get Lucky

Get Lucky by Katherine Center

Last weekend when I finished Katherine’s most recent release, I set out to find her other books to purchase … then realized the two I hadn’t read were both on Libby – without a wait!

Sarah loses her job after some pretty crazy stuff happens and when she’s at her sister’s for some much needed rest they hatch a plan. Mackie and Clive have trying to have a baby for six years, and after the latest miscarriage, she’s decided to give up. Late one night the sisters have the brilliant idea for Sarah to be Mackie’s surrogate.

All is well until all is not well. The pregnancy puts strains on every relationship in Sarah’s life ruining most of them because of a lack of communication. It was a fun read with a lot of great quotes. Katherine is an amazing writer – and this novel is no different. Can’t wait for the next one, it’s all lined up in my queue!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

105: How to be Fine

How To Be Fine by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer

I can’t remember why I started listening to the podcast By The Book, but I remember why I stopped. It was their view on forgiveness and how they don’t think people need to forgive people who have abused them. All I could think is, “You are not operating from a Christian view of forgiveness.” Forgiveness isn’t ‘forgetting and then putting yourself back in the situation’ like they were portraying.

So not sure why I picked this up, mostly because Anne Bogel talked about it and I was curious. I appreciated 90% of this book. I still have issues with the forgiveness section plus their view on sexuality and prayer/meditation. I give them mad props for writing a book, hosting a successful podcast, and being great people – I just think we have different views on all three of those above issues because I come from a foundation of Christian Faith and they do not.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

104: Emotional Equations

Emotional Equations by Chip Conley

This was recommended to me by one of my coaching advisors a few weeks ago (well months ago and then again a few weeks ago), and I’m so glad I picked it up. Chip walks through different elements that build other emotions.

The two that were the most enlightening for me was Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness and Disappointment = Expectations – Reality.

Putting the equations down as opportunities for digging deeper into the emotions was helpful. If I want to reduce my anxiety, focusing on the things that are known and putting myself in a position of power over them reduces the anxiety. The same for disappointment, being better about expectations so they coincide with reality – especially now. Being disappointed that something planned for 2020 isn’t what we thought it would be in 2019 is on us to adjust our expectations.

A great read – even with a few problematic chapters (the one on faith comes to mind) … although I’m not really a fan of people trying to critic faith who don’t subscribe to any faith. I think they’re talking about something else, like “faith in people” or “wishful thinking.”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

103: What You Wish For

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

I started this yesterday with a few chapters and then finished today. It was such a delight! Sam was just the character I needed as a follow up to my last book. She doesn’t have a super easy life, but she chooses joy and happiness.

Sam is the librarian at the most fantastic school I’ve ever heard of, and her life is great. Until Duncan shows up. She believes it’s going to be a disaster until it actually is a disaster but for completely different reasons than she first believed.

Also, I learned a fun new insult (if insults can even be that fun, still exploring that): dull as chalk and half as fun.

Since I discovered Katherine Center I’ve thought, “Her books are the fiction version of Brenè Brown’s work. She must know Brenè Brown.” And y’all, she does! Makes so much sense! I appreciate how she illustrates how someone can live a full, happy life.

I debated reading this book slowly so I could savor it, but that is not what happened … basically spent the whole day reading devouring it.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

102: The Bookshop of Yesterday’s

The Bookshop of Yesterday’s by Amy Meyerson

I haven’t finished a book in over 10 days … probably because I disliked the main character in this book so much. I didn’t stop reading because I didn’t realize it until more than half way through, so I pushed through.

I found her to be annoying. I wanted to like it because of the bookstore element, but I just didn’t. That’s all I’ve got folks, not a fan. Well written, but did not like Miranda. She and I would NOT be friends if we met in real life.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Simple Joys

The other day I had to kill a paper wasp nest that had taken up residence on the ceiling of my back porch. While I don’t sit out there often, I wasn’t excited about a colony of wasps taking up residence. I value hospitality at this home, but only to people, not to insects. So I set out to destroy it (which I just said much more dramatically than necessary). I sprayed them the morning prior and then gave it the recommended 24 hours to kill off the colony before I knocked it down.

Then as I was plugging in the hose to rinse everything down, I discovered a bush I’ve never noticed before.

I spotted a few flower buds on it too!

Hydrangeas are one of my favorites. I even tried to plant them in a pot last May to give my back porch a little color.

But out back they weren’t happy. One afternoon in the sun and they needed moved out front.

It was too late though. The flowers had faded and they were well on their way out. That planter has had a rough time of it in the past year too. Some mums were there, but they died. Then I planted some flowers which died. Then it lived for a long time with just some sad dirt until I purchased three different types of mint to plant a few weeks back. Mint seems to just take over the space that it finds, so I’m hoping that happens and I have a minty front door plant!

But back to this week’s discovery. Each time I think about it I get so happy. I even told a new friend about it with an enthusiasm that would parallel winning the lottery. Fresh cut flowers make me really happy – and thinking about how I might have a bush where I can have fresh cut flowers on the regular makes me really happy! That I can have fresh flowers on my dresser all the time, oh how wonderful!

Why does a simple thing make me so happy when the world seems to be crashing in? Because if I don’t choose joy in small things and wait for only big things, I might not get to experience this emotion very often, or at all. It’s the simple things that make a life, not the big things. When the world is crashing in and we’re fighting a deadly virus, racial injustice, murder hornets, paper wasps, a sand storm, a crazy election, sadness, death, grief, and anger, the little things have to bring joy to give us a fighting chance at surviving.

There are times when I can’t see the joy in the midst of the sorrow. I had a few hours this morning where I was just overwhelmed. It started with a medical appointment (nothing’s seriously wrong), a pharmacy pick-up, and being locked out by my roommate. It was all too much when I was already sitting on the edge of an emotional breakdown.

I called a friend to talk through my feelings where she reminded me I am an emotional being who is allowed to fell, even encouraged to feel. I replied, “I don’t mind feeling big emotions, I just don’t like when they come out of my eyes.” (especially in the middle of a work day) Then I looked up at my dresser where I placed the few buds my new hydrangea bush gave me yesterday morning and remembered that I choose joy in the simple things.

Whenever I get excited about small things, people look at me strangely. I once was excited about our new copier at work, which wasn’t a big deal or even all that exciting – but it’s the little things that weigh us down, so if we don’t get excited for little things, what do we really have?

101: Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I’ve been wanting to read this for a while because I’ve seen it everywhere. People have been saying it’s an amazing debut. And it is an amazing book. Also infuriating because I kept asking, “Are people really like this?” Two of the main characters, Alix and Kelley, are still holding grudges over something that was a misunderstanding in high school. They both made up an untrue story about the other, and now, 15 years later, they’re digging into that narrative.

Emira is the focus of the story, in my opinion. While her character is well developed in the book, I didn’t like her. I wanted to. I wanted to root for her. I wanted to see her as good, but she was messy and maybe just introverted. Not everyone has to be the strong female lead in the book. I thought she was taken advantage of many times by her friends, Alix, and Kelley – and she didn’t seem to care that it was happening that way.

The book seems like an accurate depiction of what life is like for a Black woman in America, and that made me so furious – because how are we letting this be normal, okay, or acceptable? In the end, I didn’t appreciate how Emira stood up to Alix or even Kelley. It seemed like she dehumanized them in the same way that they dehumanized her – and I don’t think we can fight injustice with dehumanization of the other side.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ because the writing is amazing, and I’d even recommend the book – but I didn’t like any of the characters!

100: Dare to Lead

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

I was cleaning my desk the other day (I didn’t get very far) and remembered I’ve been wanting to re-read this book for quick some time. The first time I read it, I gobbled it up quickly like I have most of Brené Brown’s work. It was fantastic. This time I read with a pen in hand. It’s possible I underlined more passages than not. I also made many notes, connecting her work with the coaching certifications I’ve earned in the last two years: Conversational Intelligence®, Change Style Indicator, EQi 2.0, Listening Intelligence, and Global Team Coaching.

Much of this work about courage, shame, vulnerability, and bravery has been fodder for my regular counseling appointments as well. It was Brené Brown’s work that initially brought me to the conclusion I wanted to see a therapist to talk through these big concepts I didn’t have any idea how to manage. A few years later, I’ve gotten a lot better at managing them. Understanding what I’m feeling, why I’m feeling it, and what I need to work through those emotions.

Whenever I think about what people will think when I say that, I can fall into some shame, thinking people will judge me because “I feel big feelings and talk about them with someone.” Then I get out of the SFD and realize that’s what we’re supposed to do. We were created with emotions and if numb the bad ones, we numb the good ones too. If you don’t feel the lows, you won’t feel the highs either.

This book is basically a compilation of all of her other books with a focus on leadership in the stories and examples. I recommend all of her others as well, but this is a fine place to start.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

99: Love Lettering

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

I was excited about this love story, but it was not all I thought it would be. I read reviews that Reid and Meg were regular people and such great characters. I don’t think they were though.

Meg is making a living as a hand letter artist in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She does mostly planners for people. Have you ever commissioned a personalized planner? Is that an actual thing?

I wish the publisher had inserted some images of the hand lettering the main character does, they weren’t able to recreate the same effect with a few font changes.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

98: Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

This is the second in a series I’ve now read #3 and #1. Polly is back at the bakery, but when her patron dies, so does her dream for a while. Malcom comes in to take over, do things for efficiently, and make more money. It doesn’t quite work out that way though.

So Huckle goes to America to earn money so Polly can buy “Nan the Van” and continue to live her dream as a baker.

There’s a lot of water drama, friendships, healing, love, lighthouses, and puffins, of course. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️