Good Morning, Monster

What I read: Good Morning, Monster by Catherine Gildiner

Why I picked it up: Anne Bogel recommended it last week for people who liked Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, which I did.

How I read it: On audio while driving – in large chunks, which I’d recommend.

What it’s about: The author is a retired psychologist from Toronto, and she chooses five “psychological heroes” from her career to profile. Each story is unique while also a little interconnected since she has learned things from each person that she has put into practice in other areas of life.

What I liked: I appreciated seeing the entire arc of their story between 1 and 5 years of their lives as they worked through childhood abuse, trauma, and more.

What I disliked: I disliked that any child has had to undergo any of the terrible, awful, unloving, abusive events these five people did.

Genre: Memoir, self-help.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and absolutely. Be aware of the triggers, but this is a good listen.

Life’s too Short

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This is a delight – it’s the 3rd in a series, but it’s really a stand alone. I was laughing out loud in the first 30 page because Adrian and Vanessa were such a delight. She’s got a baby, and Adrian comes to save the day (well, really he knocks so maybe she can possibly make that baby stop crying in the middle of the night).

It’s sweet and a fast read and has all the feels. She’s fighting for ALS awareness and research. He’s fighting a lot of old demons. And their story is great!

“There must be a primal internal switch that flips when you see a man take care of a child, because I swear I fell a little bit in love right there. I mean, the guy was gorgeous without this witchcraft, but now? Holy cow.”


Goodnight Beautiful

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When Anne Bogel recommended this on an episode of What Should I Read Next, she said there were a few times she exclaimed aloud, “WAIT, WHAT?”

I had the same experience. So good. Mind bending. Thriller but not super scary. When I started part 2 I had to go back and look at the initial chapters to see what I missed. It’s all there. I could start over again right now to try to find all of the threads, but someone else needs tp read it before Book Club.

I can’t even share more about the story because anything I say will be a spoiler. Nothing is as it seems not even the jacket copy.

“And it’s not only them I’m interested in, it’s him, too, Dr. Statler.”



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I have mixed feelings about this book. Cute story but I think some of the comments on AI, professional cuddling studios, and a few other services she was going to try out for the article were ridiculous.

There were a few weird comments on relationships that annoyed me and made me think “yea, people feel this way … probably why the state of marriage is the way it is these days.”

Heads up for some open door scenes but even more than that some descriptions of these relationship substitute services that are spoken of like they’re normal but they aren’t.

“You have a perfect match. The notification alerted me as soon as I signed in. The irony was, I’d been logging in to suspend my account. After almost two years of Internet dating debacles and equally disappointing men, I was ready for a break. But then I’d received the perfect match message. Therefore, I did what any normal person would do. I internet stalked him.”


Best of Luck

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This is such a cute series, and the third might be the best one. You have to read the other two though, these definitely don’t stand alone.

“The thing is, you can’t freeze people out because you’re afraid they’ll treat you differently. They might treat you differently, at least for awhile. It’s new information. It’s scary information.”


Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

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Why did I wait so long to read this? Maybe because I thought it would be clinical or boring or make me want to roll my eyes at all the clients’ stories. None of that was true. Lori hooked me right from the beginning. Her patient stories were well-rounded, relatable, and beautiful.

I highlighted so many things. I regret that this isn’t a physical copy I can return to but am grateful that Kindle/Goodreads let’s you go back to your highlights to look through them.

I recommend this if you’ve been to therapy, thought someone was weird for going to therapy, or are considering it. The below quote is just one small paragraph of the helpful advice she gives throughout.

We have such a strong tendency to compare pain and say “at least I’m not …” or “come on, you’re not dying.” We’ve always done this but covid as exacerbated this problem. Then again last week with the snow and ice storm in Texas.

I’m sorry this book is over. So much that I could probably start it again right now.

“There’s no hierarchy of pain. Suffering shouldn’t be ranked, because pain is not a contest. Spouses often forget this, upping the ante on their suffering – I had the kids all day. My job is more demanding than yours. I’m lonelier than you are. Whose pain wins – or loses? But pain is pain.”


Girl Gone Viral

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Yesterday I was looking for a book to read so I went through my TBR and found the first book that was also available at the library. It was a lot of fun, and a bit of romance plus a lot of finding oneself and working through past trauma.

It’s the second in a series but so loosely connected you don’t need to read number 1, I can’t even remember it. A little steamy but such great family conversation and lots of cultural history!

“Happiness is a radical act. To be happy, or even have the possibility of happiness, when the world tells you you shouldn’t, it’s downright subversive.”


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!

40: Her One and Only

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

This is the 4th, and sadly the final, book in the Porter Family Series. Like the earlier books, it’s delightful. Rich in romance, Christianity, and intrigue. Dru, the youngest and only female Porter, is an “executive protection agent” who’s assigned to Gray Fowler, a veteran tight end for a rival NFL team. She’s assigned to his protective detail, and he’s none too pleased. A woman bodyguard? No Thank You, he says. He forces her to pose as his girlfriend rather than his bodyguard to keep his manly reputation in tact.

The of course fall for each other, that’s the name of the game in a romance novel. You knew it was going to happen. The way the author describes faith is nice, not quite far enough, but good. Gray has a lot of junk from his childhood to work through. He gets there with Dru’s help, but probably could have used an actual therapist too.

I think fiction can help us understand the process of changing our thoughts. For instance with Gray, he was told as a kid that “he wasn’t enough” and “he’d never be good enough to be loved” and he wasn’t loved by his mom in a real way and his dad was unknown. His mother had him when she was 20, and Gray was know as “Sandie’s bastard” when he went to school.

Why do we do that to children? Why do we pass on all of our crap to them? Why do we treat other humans like garbage to make ourselves feel better and call it ‘tough love’? The answer is because we’re a broken people. We struggle with our own crap and have a stigma on anything that has to do with mental health so we don’t get help. We all need someone to talk to about stuff. We all need to change the thoughts we think.

This is something I’ve been working on for the past few years, intensely over the past few months. Just because you think a though, doesn’t mean it’s true. If you think that you’re “unlovable and good for nothing” because someone told you that when you were a kid, they were wrong. That is a lie. That thought is garbage and has no business running through your mind. How do you change it? You become intentional about altering it, forming a new neural pathway.

If you can’t do it alone, you get help. Get a therapist. Ask a friend to help. Write it down and you’ll know it’s garbage. Start saying affirmations to yourself OUT LOUD. Even if no one else is saying it, you’re saying it.

God made us good. He loves us. When we tell ourselves we’re garbage or unloveable, we’re calling Him a liar.

So while I think Gray needed a therapist to work through his childhood, I also believe books like this can teach us how to do this on our own because they model the types of mental, spiritual, and behavioral changes we can walk through in our own life.


210: A Love Like Ours

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

The 3rd in the Porter Family series follows Jake and Lyndie’s story. They were best friends as kids, but her dad got a job in California and moved the family around middle school. Life has taken its toll on both of them in the intervening two decades. She’s been following her dream of training Thoroughbred horses while he experienced the loss of a lifetime during his time as a Marine.

I’m always glad to see books explore PTSD, especially from the wars of the past two decades. So many young men have sacrificed everything to serve our country and defend our freedom only to come home physically okay, but mentally wounded. PTSD might not be visible, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real and doesn’t have real consequences.

We’ve experienced this first hand in my extended family. I’m glad Becky Wade addressed it; however, I wish she’d include a lot more therapy to go along with the life changing power of the Lord. Both are good and necessary … we could all use a little more help with our mental health … and a reduction in the stigma of “seeing a therapist because you’re broken” would be a great marker of the next decade. None of us are perfect and whole and healed … we all need someone to talk to and a God to rely on. Let’s support each other in getting the help we need.