January Books

Due to multiple illnesses in January, I was able to read 7 books, a successful start to the year. Here they are.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

3/5 stars

This book was not what I expected. I loved one of Jewell’s other books last year, I couldn’t put it down and this one was just very different. It hooked me but it was hard to read, there was a negativity and darkness about that was hard for me to read through. I kept expecting the worst to happen next. So it just wasn’t an uplifting read in anyway for me. It wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t the one for me. The main character, was adopted as baby and when she turns 25 she inherits a house. In the course of the book you find out what happened in the house and why she was adopted.

The Explosive Child by Ross Greene

5/5

The title of this book is scary! This is really just a parenting book that focuses on lagging skills kids may have and ways to help them solve them in order to be successful. I realized last year that I myself have lagging skills and I’m trying to read and study as much as I can to help give my kiddos the skills they need to be exactly who they are supposed to be.

Parenting From the Inside Out by Dan Siegel

5/5 Stars

This was such a good book, I should just order it and keep reading it until it all sinks in. If you’ve had an trauma as a child (or as an adult), this is a great place to start (and therapy after if you need it). Trauma or adverse childhood experiences do change your brain, but you can repair that damage. Half of each chapter is science based research (I skimmed most of that part). Fascinating read.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

3/5 stars

Kayleigh asked if I wanted to read this book. I started it years ago but didn’t get into it at the time. This time I started and finished it quickly. It was one of those books that I read quickly and enjoyed but finished feeling…hmm. Some of the transitions weren’t easy to follow and the last quarter of the book I felt like was a poor way to wrap up and end, it just didn’t seem plausible to me.

The Whole Brain Child by Dan Siegel

5/5 stars

This book is so good, I will likely read it again (May be one that I buy). Parent or not, this book just helps you understand yourself more. It will definitely make you a better parent, more patient and understanding. The brain is such a fascinating thing!

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

5/5 stars

My first 5/5 stars for a fiction novel, I do not give many of those out for fiction books. This book is a book about women and books and how books change lives, about how books can be your best friend, about how books can find you just where you are. It’s a book about friendships that run deep and not following the status quo. It’s good one.

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas

4/5 stars

This was the final book in a very long series. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read it (if you like love and war, then yes, go for it), but the books are long and detailed and can feel cumbersome. Normally this book would’ve taken me weeks to read but thanks to the flu I read it in a week or so. I appreciate how the series was wrapped up and I’ll miss the characters a little. But man, just so long!

Life is Fraglie

I was scrolling Instagram when the news broke about Kobe Bryant’s death. I’m not a huge fan, I didn’t follow his career but like most Americans I know him, he’s one of the greatest, his name is up there with MJ, Reggie, Lebron. You don’t need his last name because you know his first. I read it and audibly gasped. I just looked at Josh and said, “Kobe died.”

Some deaths, they’re just more shocking than others. They cause you to pause longer. They make you look at yourself say, “Wow, I really am going to die.” I imagine in those final moments that the thoughts of Kobe and the other parents in the helicopter turned to their children, wanting to save their children and knowing they couldn’t. And that makes me break inside. I really can not fathom the despair that happens inside of a parent in a moment like that. It’s what makes these deaths harder, because our children are so precious.

Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and the others who died yesterday didn’t wake up knowing they would. They woke up, went to church and were ready to go play their favorite game. Like them, our next moments aren’t promised and we can’t know if we will make it home every night.

Tomorrow isn’t promised. And you know that. And I know that. But how quickly do we forget that? How quickly do we forget to just love a little better each day. How quickly do we fall into the trap of being annoyed at the little things or even the big things, that maybe aren’t really big in the grand scheme. How often do we forget to really just live and breathe to the fullest extent that our bodies will let us.

I don’t know.

I just know life is fragile. And you woke up today and you really don’t know what’s going to happen and you might wake up tomorrow but maybe not.

So say the thing you need to say. And slow down and listen to your children laugh, let them lay on you and feel their bodies full of life. Make your favorite meal. Text an old friend. Write a letter. Tell your mom you love her. Forgive. Go to church. Devour a book. Run. Wake up early and watch the sunset. Show up. Love your family.

All you have is right now.

Grateful List

Truthfully, today kind of sucked. My ears still hurt, I didn’t sleep well and emotionally I was just off. Aside from taking the kids to the eye doctor (perfect vision for H and P, A didn’t have a check up), we didn’t do much aside from play, watch tv and read. And I’ve read recently that simply listing the things you’re grateful for can boost your emotional health, so here goes.

  • I love the sound of the dryer. I’m so thankful to have a washer, dryer and dish washer. And the sound of the dryer going in the evening always gives me a warm (lol) feeling
  • I love the random things my kids say. Today Peyton said that she wished she could meet MLK in real life. She also said “it is snowing! How smart is Jesus for that?”
  • I love watching Henry draw, he’s been recreating all of Mo Willem’s books for a few months. He says he wants to be an illustrator now.
  • Alexandria says more and more each day, full sentences. But my favorite thing is when she ends a sentence with “Mama,” my heart just melts. “See snow, Mama? See snow everywhere Mama?”
  • I love days where we just do nothing (even though I feel bad at the same time).
  • I love great books that absorb you.
  • I am thankful that though today may feel like this, there is hope that tomorrow will feel better.
  • I’m thankful when the kids don’t have school, I miss them a lot when they’re gone.
  • Running hot water.
  • MLK
  • I started watching This is Us and I cry (sob) every episode. Josh doesn’t get it, ha. But it’s kind of therapeutic, especially Randall’s storyline. Sometimes it’s nice to know you’re not the only person who has ever felt the way you feel. And the show/acting are just fantastic.
  • Chocolate cake (thx J)
  • Time to journal and just get it out
  • The moment when the fog begins to lift and you can see the light again.

Bologna

I’ve been thinking a lot about my second semester of freshman year of college. I transferred to IUPUI (from ISU) that semester and lived in Ball Hall, which at the time was the only dorm at IUPUI.

The semester prior, I attended ISU, where I had a meal plan and ate too much food in the cafeteria every day. One time I had 7 bananas in one day just because I was clearly not as funny as I thought I was (thankfully now I’m as funny as I think I am). I had Captain Crunch for dinner a lot. My boyfriend at the time lived in Bloomington, I visited him every weekend and we ordered Avers Pizza at night and Jimmy Johns at 2pm when we woke up the next day. To say I gained the Freshman 15 would be an understatement.

But at at IUPUI, between the walking to campus and the eating maybe twice a day, that all came off. I shopped for food to keep in my dorm room because there was no meal plan, only options at the food court on campus (blocks away from the dorm, which I couldn’t afford). I also had very little culinary skills and an even smaller palette. So that semester I lived off bologna and mustard sandwiches and cans of Spaghetti-os that I warmed in the dorm microwave. Even if I had had better skills in the kitchen, I didn’t have the money to back it up. I had no job, no support and I was living off scholarship money.

I was so hungry. All. The. Time. Sometimes I would get back from class and jump in the shower and I would become light headed, to the point of almost passing out, from eating so little.

This is probably where I should stop and apologize to my roommate for never leaving the room except for class (I was never there on the weekends at least). I laid on the top bunk, studied and plowed through every season of Grey’s Anatomy (this was actually her fault, she introduced it to me) and man, once you started that show you couldn’t stop. I’m sure the aroma of Spaghetti-os and bologna wasn’t appetizing. I’m sorry Heather, I was just a hungry introvert with no friends (it was difficult to make friends a predominately commuter school, when you enter mid year).

Despite nearly starving, I look back at the semester warmly. At that time I was a Criminal Justice major (changed to English later) and thrived in those classes, the topics were fascinating to me. I loved the routine of going to class, studying, almost passing out in the shower and having free time to just do whatever (laying in my dorm room alone). I remember that…that inching away from who I had had to be in childhood and finding who I could be without that chaos around me.

Sometimes memory lane is a nice little road to travel. Although, I am thankful for a full belly and house full of fun (with no bologna ever again).

Fight the January Blues

January sunsets don’t disappoint

Historically, January has been my darkest month of the year. It’s probably the combination of coming down from the holidays, coldness, no sunlight and just nothing happening all month. This year I was determined to fight the down feeling that seems to pervade every crevice of my life, so I made a plan and so far, 8 days into the year, I’m feeling the best I have in January in a long time (ya know, aside from the double ear infection which I finally feel mostly whole from today).

  1. Go Outside/Sunlight

Living in Indiana does not make the winter easy (especially if you suffer from SAD). The sun is generally not around and the cold can be very bitter. This year, so far it has been warmish (upside to global warming) and the sun has been shining. I have spent time outside every day this week. A lot of it has just been wrapped up in a blanket with my face to the sun (because I’ve been sick), but one day the kids and I hiked around and played Star Wars.

I also asked for a therapy light for Christmas. It looks like a little iPad and it mimics sunlight. I’ve been turning it on and sitting with it while I do my morning reading (or now why I write).

2. Vitamins/Diet

A healthy diet is not my strong suit, it is something I always battle. Eating bad food is just sometimes how I deal with everything. So naturally I am deficient in the vitamins I need to even feel good. In fact, I recently got a trim and my hairdresser noted my hair seemed unhealthy (brittle). Yes, thank you, 2019 wasn’t my best year. So each morning I’ve been trying to take an array of vitamins to help replenish what I am lacking in diet.

3. Writing/Reading

Writing and reading are my outlets, what I’m “good” at (or at least what I’m not bad at…hopefully). It’s why I enjoy doing. And while generally I already read most days, there have been several books I’ve started and have just been lazy about finishing. Or there are times I waste just scrolling around on social media that I could be putting to better use. So far I’ve finished 2 books that I had started last year and have made progress in several others.

I’ve also been reading books that are helping me solve my actual problems. It turns out that I don’t know everything about parenting and I have leaned on yelling/just telling them what to do and guys, if you have a smart, strong willed child like I do, that just doesn’t work. You need to understand how their brains work, you need to understand why you parent the way you do and how you can improve. You can learn and make plans to figure whatever problem out that is weighing you down. And you’re likely not the first person to encounter it. There’s a book for that.

That 2nd book sounds scary, it’s just about problem solving with your children

I’ve been journaling every day. I’ve been stopping to journal when my worries/anxiety start to turn on and build up. I’ve been taking a moment to recenter myself. It’s okay to need a break.

And obviously I’ve blogged more in the last two weeks then I have in the last couple years. But the writing side of my brain seems turned back on. I narrate stories in my head again that I could share. It’s hard to explain, but a flip has been switched back on.

Writing really is therapeutic guys, it’s been proven to help our brains process things.

(And I’ve sent 3 letters out!)

4. Physical Activity

Everyone knows that the more you move the better you’ll feel. I haven’t been able to workout this year (but hopefully today that will change!). We are renewing our gym memberships, I’ve got new sneakers and I’m ready to rebuild my healthy body. Intense workout is also a great way to keep anxiety at bay.

5. Prayer/Self Talk

I know you’re not all religious out there and when someone says “just pray about it” it’s easy to roll your eyes. I even do it sometimes! But I also know there’s power in prayer and that God does not leave us to do this life alone. He is present in real way.

There’s also a lot of power in self talk. I sit here and I motivate myself with reminders every day: I am capable. I am worthy. I am loved. I can do hard things. I make plans and problem solve the things that weigh on me and give me anxiety. I no longer want my thoughts to bury me.

6. Be Present

It is SO easy to just want to escape into mindless scrolling. There’s something about it that soothes our brains like a drug does. But guys it really doesn’t. It’s a temporary comfort. Set your phone down, pick up something else. Go stare at the sky. Breathe in fresh air. Crank your music. Spend 15 minutes tackling a project. Plan a family night. Read a chapter in a book.

7. Let Go

Therapy. I know it can have a negative connotation and that mental health/illness can be something we want to hide or not be forth coming about. But I can not stress enough that your mental health is the most important health you can have. So if you need to talk to someone, do whatever you need to do to make that happen.

It will help your let go of the things you are holding on to, the trauma that changed your brain, it can be repaired. There is hope.

And I know, I do, that this is all hard. It doesn’t happen over night. I lived in a fog for so long I couldn’t even sit down and say…I need to change, I need healthier solutions. Take it each day, do 1% better each day. Small changes, become big improvements.

And reach out if you need to. We are all out here trying to do the best we can each day.

And finally, be kind to yourself.

2020

New year, new me? Right? I hate that saying as much as you do. I know resolutions sometimes get a bad rap, but for me it is helpful to measure things in a year’s span (and maybe even month by month this year). When I look back at 2019, it feels like…just a bad year. Not because we didn’t do fun things or have new experiences but because I struggled so much emotionally. I need to take time and reflect on all of the good though, and not let the darkness overshadow all of the light. My phone created a video of 2019 in review and it was absolutely beautiful. I know I have a blessed life, it’s just not always easy to feel that, but that’s getting better.

I am hopeful for 2020, it just looks like a good number. And despite starting it with a double ear infection and no running water for the time being (bye $), I know it will be full of light even if the darkness sometimes tries to overshadow it.

Here are my hopes for 2020:

FAITH

  • Attend adoration 1x a month
  • Take more time for daily prayer (interrupt those moments in my day that I need to take a step back and center myself).
  • Read one spiritual book a month (take time daily to read scripture on top of this).
  • Go on a retreat

FAMILY/HOME

  • Declutter, declutter, declutter
  • Create new spaces to be better organized (for library books, mail, paperwork, etc).
  • Purge closets, create better systems
  • Try new recipes (Josh made 1 yesterday, chicken guacamole bacon melt and I tried a new chicken tortilla soup, so good!)
  • Buy new windows for the house
  • Finish the kid’s bedrooms
  • Travel to a new destination (or 2)
  • Family night 1x week with fun activities

HEALTH

  • Gym/work out 4x a week
  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Consistently take vitamins
  • Get sunlight (real, by pushing myself to go outside even if it’s cold or with my new sunlight therapy)
  • Healthier diet/less eating out/actually eat full meals
  • Less phone time
  • Go outside even if it’s cold

READING/WRITING

  • Journaling daily
  • Blogging 1x a week
  • Write/send letters (do you want one?!)
  • Read 52 books
  • Read only awesome books 😉

What are your hopes/goals for 2020?

2020 Book Look Ahead

I should be trying to sleep because my head feels awful from what may or may not be a sinus infection that is taking it’s sweet time hanging out, making me wonder if it will become a full blown one. But I thought I’d get at least a start on another blog. It’s like working out, if I go too long then I may never start again. (Update next day: pretty sure it’s a sinus infection.)

Here’s a look ahead at some books I’m excited to read.

The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

This is the prequel to The Hunger Games series, which is my 2nd favorite series. I’m nervous to get excited for it, it’s hard to know what to expect. I may reread the entire series (and watch the movies), it’s been a few years. It hits shelves May 19, 2020.

The Heart of Perfection by Colleen Carroll Campbell

I loved this author’s other book (My Sisters the Saints), so I’m really looking forward to this (maybe April will read it with me 😉). I need books that are gonna pull me up to the light.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

I’ve enjoyed all of Moyes’ books (you may have heard of Me Before You) and this one has had great reviews (and a long waiting list).

Being Brave in the Scared by Mary Lenaburg

I found this book on Instagram through some accounts I have followed and it seems like a book that will meet me where I’m at in some ways.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I’ve had this book and series on my list for a long time. I have no idea what it’s actually about but I do love a good series. Do you have a favorite series to suggest?

Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly

I’ve read several of Kelly’s books and they’ve all given me something. I’ve thought about reading this book for awhile because I think I over complicate things sometimes.

A Parent Who Prays by Katie Warner

I saw this book mentioned in Instagram too. It’s kind of a little devotional you can write in and I’m excited to get started in it.

My 2019 Year in Books

Goodreads puts a summary of your year together for you.

This year my reading goal was 60 books. I read 48 total and I’ve started several others. While I didn’t reach my goal, I do feel good about the books I did read. My average rating for all of the books I read was 4.2/5 stars which is pretty high! After reading 101 books last year (goal of 100) and feeling dissatisfied with some that I forced myself through in order to reach that goal, Josh suggested I try to read only books that I thought I would truly love. This meant stopping after I started some which has always been hard for me to do (but life is short!). I do feel good about my reading log this year despite not reaching my number goal.

My favorite book this year:

Beautifully written, hard to put down. The author transports you! I don’t want to spoil even a moment of it, but take a trip with this book.

Honorable mention:

It’s a beautiful thing when you read the book you need to read. Sometimes books find you where you’re at.

Books you won’t be able to put down:

I truly could not put these books down. The first one I read on vacation and the second one on Christmas break. They both stayed in my brain even when I wasn’t reading and I always love books that wrap you in a hug like that.

Least favorite: I looked through my list a couple times and none stand out as being a book I would suggest skipping. It was a good yea r!

My goal next year is: 52 books, just 1 a week. What’s your goal? Try to read 1 more than last year. Do you have a favorite book I MUST read? Please share with this book nerd.

Here are all the books I read this year:

Just Write.

I am going to write more. Here (hopefully) and by hand, in a journal (already started). I used to journal all the time.

This post is just to keep me accountable. That really means nothing though. I can see me now, in a year, looking back at that sentence and laughing. Yeah, okay, great accountability, Isha.

I miss blogging/writing/journaling in the days of Xanga and Google Reader. Those were the days, guys.

You could just hop on your Xanga and type whatever you wanted without caring if it made sense or needed edited, in fact you didn’t even know if anyone ever read unless they commented. At least I know gRegor is reading this right now, hi gRegor. I don’t think I care if 100 people read any of my blogs, but a handful would be nice. Like hi, yes, I exist and have a couple things to say once a month.

I just miss not overthinking and just writing. I had a college professor that said, “Just write.” So simple, but how often do I do that. Just write.

So while I have made a small list of blog ideas, maybe sometimes I’ll just write (so that all my thoughts can swirl into the empty abyss).

So maybe it’s really, new year, old old me.

Show Up

Some of it you learn the hard way
Some of it you read on a page
Some of it comes from heartbreak
Most of it comes with age
And none of it ever comes easy
A bunch of it you maybe can’t use
I know I don’t prob’ly know what I think I do

(Eric Church Some of It)

I have wanted to share this story for awhile but I haven’t found the courage until today. I was driving back from my Great Aunt Emma’s funeral and I had a lot of big feelings in my heart and I heard the above song and I said, it’s time, it’s never going to be easy, but that’s life.  It’s hard to feel like I can put one of my greatest regrets out there for everyone to know and judge. But I want to because I hope someone can take something from it and avoid making the same mistakes that I did. It is something that truly did change my life and has helped form my choices and for that I am grateful. But man, I wish it wasn’t a lesson I had to learn.

Back in high school my friend Sylva befriended some guys from Sullivan, Indiana, this sweet little place with railway crossings through town, a diner, an old bridge we could walk over, and I absolutely fell in love with all of it and all the people, it just felt like this little town I had always been missing but never knew it until I was dropped in the middle of it. And through our friendships with some of these guys we met more people from this whisper of a place. And eventually I met Bryan.

Me, Sylv, Bry

Bryan and I formed such a close and special friendship. It’s hard to put into words everything that Bryan was. He was wise beyond his years, truly. It sometimes felt like he lived in my heart and head because he really just got me. I told him everything, easily, because he just understood everything.  And a lot of the time, we didn’t need words. Our friendship was lyrics and adventure and quiet moments. It was a John Green novel. We would spend hours on the phone, just listening to music together (like literally, turning the same song on at the same time), we wrote letters (his hand writing was atrocious, sorry Bry), we went to the top of the world. We went on walks everywhere because it was simple and beautiful.

Bry, on one of our walks

As we each left for college our friendship while still there, had some distance naturally, but we remained in contact and he visited me when I moved to the Indy area. We took a nap together in my apartment, we just laid there next to one another and floated off, waking later to set off on another adventure (we tried to get alcoholic beverages at Applebees, but they carded us).  I think of that nap a lot, because our friendship was just like that, an oasis, to float quietly off to. Our friendship was whimsical and pure, as if we were holding on to childhood, just for a little bit longer because we weren’t done with that grand adventure.

And then, Bryan got cancer. He called and told me, and really at the time it sounded like no big deal. He said would be up in Indy for his procedure. I lived in Speedway at the time and told him I could drive up to where he would be to see him. That day came, his mom called and I didn’t answer, I didn’t call back and I didn’t show up.  I didn’t show up for the rest of his life, except for small chats here and there, on the phone or via email. His health declined and on June 15, 2010 at the age of 21, Bryan Anthony Hagerman died and I wasn’t there. I didn’t’ show up.

Why?  Well, I’ve got a pocket full of excuses I can give you . I was busy, I was in a new, exciting relationship, I had school, a job, friends, we weren’t AS close as we had been, I was young and stupid etc. And none of that BS matters.  None of that matters because the only thing that really mattered that day and for the rest of his life is that he had people he needed and loved, to show up.  I wasn’t there, I failed him. And I will forever be sorry. When I think of my biggest life regrets, this is always the first thing I think of. Because I loved Bryan so fiercely but I Ioved myself more.

I have stopped beating myself up about it, because I know Bry. He wouldn’t want me to hold on to that hurt and disappointment. But he would be damned disappointed in me if I didn’t take this hurt, this regret and this hard lesson and truly learn from it. And Bry, I did and  I have and I think of it often. I never want that kind of regret again. But most importantly I want to show up for people. I want to show up for people when they’re sick, in the hospital, when they’re dying or dead, despairing, sad, when they need someone to be quiet with, when they’re happy or rejoicing.

Show up. Show up. Show up. Show up when it’s hard, when it’s uncomfortable, when you’re too busy, when you’re mad at them. Show up if it’s been years. Show up even if they don’t deserve it.

Show up because you don’t get a million chances in life to show up. Sometimes you only get one chance. And if you say you’ll be there, be there. Just be there. Just show up.

Bry, I love you and I miss you. I’m showing up.

Me and Bry

 

You can listen to “our”song by Relient K here: Those Words Are Not Enough

Feelings, inside of my head
I don’t know, but I’m thinking about you
Understand that it’s so hard to tell you, cause you already know
You already know
When it’s twice as hard to realize
That I’m still trying twice as hard to satisfy myself on my own
And I’m still waiting for things to change
I lay my life before you, and I’m not getting up
Father, how I adore you
Those words are not enough
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