46: Undone

Undone by Carrie Schuchts Daunt

A friend (hi Sarah) and I started buddy reading this last week. It was just what I needed, an excuse to video chat with my friend every couple of days to discuss the next section. My mental health was coming undone thinking about COVID-19, quarantining, social distancing, and being alone. I woke up in the middle of the night ruminating for hours about how the world was ending, and I was going to be alone for it.

I was able to pull myself out of the funk, mostly because that’s not a true statement, rather a statement of fear right from Satan himself. The book was okay. It’s a compilation of reflections from women categorized in four areas: Daughter, Sister, Bride, and Mother. Some were great, some were eye-rolly. They each ended with a scripture reflection followed by two questions. Each section was introduced and concluded by the author’s father, Bob with some questions for prayer.

I started by walking through them each very prayerfully, but after a while I skimmed them and moved on. The book was okay. Might be perfect for some women, but just not for me … and that’s okay. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

45: From Scratch

From Scratch by Tembi Locke

Y’all, I struggled with this book. We’re reading it for our IRL book club (which we’re having virtually tomorrow night) and if I didn’t own it and have to talk about it, I would probably have abandoned before page 50.

I’m really glad I didn’t abandoned it because it was beautiful, just not the best book for me right now. It’s a little slow moving, and grief plays a big role. I thought food would play a large role, but food seems like a secondary character in the book while grief is a main character.

The story follows Tembi’s love story with Saro intertwined with her grief after his passing. It’s beautiful. It’s not a quick read by any means. It’s more of a book that you really sit with and enter into her words. A member of our book club got it on audio and said it was amazing to listen to. Finally finished and am ready to discuss my ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read.

44: The Weekend Wedding Assistant

The Weekend Wedding Assistant by Rachel Gladstone

I picked this up on my last trip to the library before they closed indefinitely last week. I went into pick up a hold and grabbed a stack of books from some authors I know I like and this one was on the new released shelf.

It’s a sweet romance. I started reading it because I couldn’t get into my book club book and needed to ‘cut’ it with something. I enjoyed it, pretty closed door romance, but there are a few moments.

Overall, ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. It’s not quite a light, fun romance, but the author does a good job talking about a hard subject.

43: Get Out of Your Own Way

Get Out of Your Own Way by Dave Hollis

I’ve been following Rachel & Dave Hollis online for over a year now, since I read her first non-fiction book, Girl, Wash Your Face back in October of 2018. I like a lot of things they say (and I let a lot of things they say just pass me by). So when Dave was writing a book, I pre-ordered mostly because I’m curious about his side of the story.

The structure is the same as Rachel’s first book, 20 lies he believed, what happened to help him overcome, then three things that helped him push through. I agree with most of his lies.

The only thing that I miss from them (include Rachel’s books) is an element of faith. I know they are Christians, and the way they live and treat others is reflected in that, but they keep it close to the chest, let’s say. I think that’s intentional though … to keep their business and their community open to people of all religions and not focused on one particular belief system.

A lot of criticism from my Catholic friends of her books is that it’s not Christian enough … a lot of my criticism of spiritual books is that they aren’t mental health focused enough. It’s not that prayer isn’t enough and the Lord can’t heal us, but we need a place to unpack the lies we’re using as the foundation of our lives. Most of us cannot do that in our own heads. We need therapy or spiritual direction or something.

So anyway, back to Dave’s book. I could hear him reading it in his voice. I appreciated what he said. I agree with most of it. I’m also giving it a solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (which is 1 more than I gave Rachel’s first book).

My COVID-19 Boundaries

just a great pic from my trip last month

I’ve been consuming news and social media at a higher rate than normal, much like others and more than I typically do. I’m happy to be part of many online communities that were just additions to my daily life before now … but now are my community and interactions. Not every state is in the same place regarding social distancing and self-quarantining at this moment, but we are in the beginning of a global pandemic. It’s not an exaggeration or an over blown thing the government is ‘spouting off this week.’

So after scrolling Facebook and seeing someone (who is officially employed by the Church) saying things like the “government can’t force us to not have Mass, it’s a violation of our rights” and then continuing to spout off a lot of stuff that’s not helpful, nor scientific. Everyone believes they’re an expert, but the only thing I’m actually an expert in is me and the boundaries I need right now. So these are my boundaries right now to keep myself sane.

Limiting Who I’m Informed By: I’ve got to limit my news sources. I’ve chosen a few for coverage like the New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR. The 1st and 3rd are my regular news sources, but I don’t need all-day coverage. I also don’t need sensationalized coverage.

With this I need to stay off Facebook because my news feed is just a cease-pool of humanity (also composed of my friends and family … but they are not at their best on that platform). I’m staying on Instagram, but muting and un-following people who are negatively contributing to my mental health and emotional stability.

Social Media Usage: And following people who are providing hope and light right now. My favorite new follow is: Good Good Good. Kristen Bell and Rachel Hollis area also great follows for joy and goodness. There are lots of amazing spiritual life posts that I can’t help but share in my stories, so if you want to get them too, just follow me! I’m also participating in Blessed is She’s VBS (Virtual Bible Study) on Luke that started today. Which leads to my next area.

Being Intentional About Spiritual Life: It would be easy to stay home from Mass and do nothing. We’ve been excused of our obligation and some might take that to mean they can begin sleeping in on Sunday. I found a Mass that I could watch at a specific time for Sunday Mass and prayed the Rosary beforehand like I typically do at the parish. Looking for a new Mass though that’s live streamed and not previously recorded or even “produced” in any way. I just want to attend Mass with a community, with a moment of prayer during Communion. I think this is the one I’m going to attend from home next Sunday: Mass from America’s Catholic Church. I’ve also really appreciated this live stream of Eucharistic Adoration.

Staying Active: I made a commitment months ago that I was going to work out for 30 minutes every day, and I still am. Morning yoga has been my jam for the past few weeks while recovering from a cold I got while traveling (I’m better now), but later this week I’m going to add my cardio/strength routine back in. I’m not letting this be a time of staying up late and then sleeping in late … my alarm’s still set for 6:20 am. Walking outside when possible, while also social distancing.

Cleaning All the Things: I’ve been needing to clean my shower and bathroom and bedroom and whole house really for a while. So I started with a deep clean of my bedroom and bathroom on Saturday. Curtains, sheets, vacuuming behind things, etc. I even cleaned my shower, which does not regularly get cleaned while I’m getting cleaned. Then my office, guest bath, and hallway the next day. Next step is downstairs!

Reading All the Things: I’m also reading more (I know, more?! How?!). I gave up TV for Lent, so I’m trying not to watch movies and shows and instead pick up a book. I wish I’d grabbed a whole shelf when I was at the library last week, but alas I’ve got many books that are unread on my bookshelves. Probably enough books to last 26 weeks of quarantining instead of the 2-6 that we’re going to have to do. So if you need a book, let me know! Also the library does eBook lending via Libby and Hoopla, so there’s an unending supply should I run out of reads. I do have a favorite books I might re-read like Kara Isaac’s Christian Rom-Com’s. I also could dive deep into Anne of Green Gables, the antidote to a global pandemic since she’s just so delightful!

It’s really only day 3, the 3rd day of being 35 and I’m so grateful I was able to celebrate my birthday last week. Never before has a birthday brought in “such a new day” right afterward. Here’s to a few weeks of quarantining and social distancing to hopefully be back to normal by Mid-April? May? The summer? Soon!

42: Bloody Genius

Blood Genius by John Sandford

What’s there to do in the midst of social distancing and self-quarantining for a single woman without kids? Read, clean, and cook … and that’s what I’ve been doing.

I’m also taking a steroid to clear up an ear infection so I’ve got energy galore which is not great for social distancing and self-quarantine. But this too shall pass … and my entire upstairs has been deep cleaned (my bathroom and bedroom being the worst offenders).

In this installment, Virgil is called to the twin cities to help with a murder that happened in a library that no one can solve. He solves it, of course, since he’s a genius! It’s John Sandford’s standard Virgil Flower’s novel, nothing special, but not terrible.

I think Virgil might get married in an upcoming book and he’s definitely becoming a dad to twins, which is fun. Frankie is good for him, and I like seeing that story line develop over the course of many, many books. This is #11 or #12 in the series now. Don’t have to be read in order, but if you’re going to read more than one, they’re worth reading in order!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

35 Years Worth of Adventure

I was so disappointed to turn 25 and feel like I’d accomplished nothing. So disappointed that I put together a list of 25 things to do in the next 25 years. I’ve accomplished some, but it’s become less important to even look at in the past few years.

Then when I turned 30 I prepared by writing down all of the lies and expectations I and the world had told me I was “supposed to have done” and burned them. I couldn’t take the pressure to “be someone specific” any more.

Now at 35, I’m just thinking about all of the amazing things I did or learned or experience last year. What a fruitful year this 35th trip around the sun has been. So here goes, a list of them, 13 to celebrate a fantastic Friday the 13th birthday!

1. I learned that Florida Targets have a better selection of jeans than North Carolina Targets … ones that fit me perfectly!

2. I feel better about myself when I have clothes that fit, even if that means buying a bigger size when I’d prefer not to or spending more money to get something of better quality.

3. Going after my dream just because I want to is a valid reason to pursue something new. I don’t need to apologize for dreaming of something different today than I did ten years ago.

4. I completed a certification in Conversational Intelligence and now count myself as a certified coach (among thousands). I also got certified in Change Management Style and Navigating Change. And Emotional Intelligence. It’s been quite a year of growth!

5. Speaking of personal growth, I found a counselor who’s taught me how to see my worth for what it is, not what the world tells me.

6. I learned how to name my emotions, figure out what I need, and live in my Adult Chair (there’s an amazing podcast about that)!

7. I’ve also done some serious “thought-work” inspired by Kara Loewentheil’s podcast, which is amazing. Just because we find ourselves thinking a negative, limiting, or anxious thought doesn’t mean we have to continue to think that.

8. I spent 2 weeks in Italy and Portugal, two places I’ve wanted to visit for a long time and I purchased a ticket and went. It was as delightful as I imagined it would be.

9. I’ve worked for the past 6 months trying to clear up my acne in a natural way to take care of my skin better! I’ve also been working out every day for the last 6 months, which has been amazing for changing my perspective on the world and my mood. Also, drinking all the water!

10. I love to read. I’ve always loved to read, but in the past few years I’ve taken control over my reading life and been more intentional. I’ve always got a book going and find that I read an average of 200 books a year. And I love it!

11. I have a type, regarding genre. I know the books I like and it’s okay that that’s what I read most often!

12. I’m capable of doing amazing things … like coaching parishes to transformation or helping to transform an entire diocese!

13. I have amazing friends who let me love on their kiddos as often as I want. My godson and his brother have brought me some of my greatest joys these past years. I’ve always dreamed of a boy smiling and running to great me whenever I walk in the door, and I’ve got it in both of them.

My life isn’t what I thought it would be at 35. That I’d know more about the world or have a husband and kids. I do know more about the world. I’ve been given a family here in North Carolina better than I ever imagined. What will the next five years bring? I don’t know. Could be anything?

When I turned 30 and burnt all my expectations, I had a new job less than 2 weeks later that brought me to where I am today as a parish coach. I couldn’t’ have ever dreamed it would happen, but it did. So here’s to a year of adventure!