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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

How It’s Been Going

Well, we have made it safely into February and while I’m at that point of, “Well 2019 can only get better from here,” the year has not been a total waste.  I thought I’d take a look at some of my resolutions and how I’m fairing. How are yours looking?

  • Listen more/talk less-Hm, I have definitely not been in quite the talkative mood although that’s not what I was really shooting for with this one. My hope is to be more present in the lives of others and less involved with myself. This was good to look back at to keep at the forefront of my mind.
  • Depend on my phone less-Fail mostly. While I’ve been on Facebook a lot less and have removed it from my phone for part of the last month, I still aimlessly check things. I’ve thought about going smartphone less but I do use my phone for good a lot. So that’s still up in the air.
  • Less fast food/junk-This is better but not perfect. Sometime I don’t eat in the morning and then we are out running around and I end up starving and accidentally stop and grab something. I have included more healthy foods at home though. So this in general has improved.
  • Gain muscle back/feel fit- 100% have nailed this one! I’m proud of myself for maintaining regular gym visits this year (16 so far I think?). I felt off a bit this week due to feeling out of it with a possible virus? Not sure. But I’m down a little weight and my clothes are fitting different and I feel muscles again!
  • Deny myself/slow down/spend less $ on inconsequential things-all have made progress and I have these things on my mind often! In addiction to this I am trying to simplify I our home more and have donated several bags of stuff. Hoping to get even more cohesive spaces in the next couple of months.
  • Blog more-Yay, I have blogged more regularly.
  • Learn Photoshop-Not even on my radar right now
  • Read 60 books- I think I’m at 4 books so far for the year but almost done with 2 more. I have not felt like reading much to be honest and need to get back into a good swing with it.

So overall, I think I have started to foster better habits and a healthier mindset on a lot of things. I have not felt the best emotionally (although I have felt much better in the last week or so). So that little dark cloud kinda followed me around and I was a slug for a bit. I’m choosing though, to focus on the progress I’ve made rather than bury myself in all the ways I could’ve done better. I think it’s important to pause and reflect on your goals/habits and find ways to do better. A book I’m reading by Matthew Kelly, keeps saying, “Just do the next right thing,” and that has become my mantra. And right now, that thing is getting Henry off the bus in these flooded waters! Hope your 2019 is looking up.

It’s Just Been On My Mind

Do you ever think about how short life is?

I know you do when life forces you to. You lose someone close to you and hits you, (even more so if they’re young or it was unexpected). They’re here one day and then then the next they’re just gone. Irretrievable.  But then a little time passes and you start taking time and life for granted.

You watch your children grow before your very eyes, faster than you can even comprehend.  Time passes and you don’t even know where it all went. You forget little things, that at time meant so much. You remember them when you look at pictures or watch videos and you laugh and cry because you know time is moving faster than you want it to and they’re growing faster than you’re ready for.

Time is just so abstract, it’s here right now and then it’s gone. They always say, “live life to the fullest”.  I hate cliches. But I think about all of this a lot because I hate to feel like I’m wasting something I can never get back, I can’t buy time, I can’t borrow time.

In the last couple of years I’ve been able to reconcile with two people that I had a falling outs with. It’s hard to admit that because I want you to think that all of my relationships are perfect and that I’ve never done a thing to hurt anyone ever. But I have, I have hurt plenty of people, I’ve put myself first many times. With both mended relationships, I was reminded that it’s never too late to *try* to make it right (I say try because you need 2 people to reconcile) and that sometimes we need reminded that putting your pride aside before you don’t have a chance to is important.

And then people are just gone . They die or they’re far, you broke the relationship or they’re just not in your lie for whatever reason. And it’s hard to live with loss. But I guess you start to take things for granted if you never deal with loss. The loss reminds you of your life, it reminds you that life is short, until it doesn’t anymore.

Nobody knows how to say goodbye
It seems so easy ’til you try. 
Then the moments passed you by,
Nobody knows how to say goodbye

Nobody knows how the story ends
Live the day, doing what you can.

(Those lyrics from the Lumineers just played on Pandora, how timely.)

January makes me so introspective (and at times pretty melancholy) I don’t know where I was going with any of this. There was little direction. I don’t know where I started or ended, but here I am

A Day in the life of Isha

Well, you (Zakk) asked and so here it is. This was harder to do than I imagined. First of all, all the times were approximate. I did not come and write down everything I did and eventually I gave up writing it all down, not every single nuance of the day is recorded. This was also the WORST day of my week I considered redoing this and picking  a better day. But I want to be honest, real and in the spirit of being more vulnerable, I want to share it.

It was stressful and I didn’t handle everything well. As I was look back over it, I’m like oh boy, I can’t wait for the perfect parent to read this and judge me for letting my kid have screen time or for not forcing them to eat the dinner I made. Also we ate dinner in front of the TV this night, you’ll understand why when you get to that point..  So if you’re a perfect parent, we probably shouldn’t even be friends (my kids love “screen time” and love “the girl with the read hair” aka Wendy’s).

12:30 AM-I think I finally fell asleep.
2 times throughout the night (I think, maybe more?) Alexandria woke to nurse.

6:55 am- My alarm goes off. I come downstairs and throw some breakfast sausage on the cast iron to start cooking for Henry, I grab him a plate, open a yogurt, shell some pistachios, pour some milk. I run upstairs and carry him and his clothes downstairs. I help him get dressed (he’s not a morning person), I turn the sausages, he gets his shoes on, I do his hair, he sits at the table and stares into space. I ask him to take a bite at least 500 times. I get his sausages on his plate and continue to ask him to eat so he doesn’t starve all day. He eats at a snail’s pace. I make coffee and talk to him.

7:20 am- We leave for school, we say morning prayers and he asks me what the red arm on the speedometer does, so we talk about speed limits and why they’re important.

7:35- I get back and both girls are both awake. Josh gets ready for work,leaves and I make them breakfast.

7:45- I turn PBS on, get some coffee and sit down with a book for my “spiritually” focused time. I immediately stop because I realize I didn’t get dinner in the crock pot. I get up, do that. Today it was Cheesy Chicken Rice+broccoli . After that, I sit back down for my quiet time.

8:30-We turn the “Trolls” music station on Pandora any have a dance party.

8:45-I realize I haven’t eaten, I grab my overnight oats and eat (feed Alexandria my oats)

9:00- We read 500 books.

9:30- We play family. I’m the baby and Peyton is the mommy. I get to “take a nap” and be read to. I remember that being a kid is the best.

10:15- I put 2 baskets of laundry away.

10:30- I help Peyton practice writing her name.

11:00- I make an early lunch for P and A because A is very tired and ready for a nap. I set up some quiet time activities for Peyton to do while Alexandria naps (Kinetic sand, coloring, etc).

11:10-I try to convince Alexandria to eat, she doesn’t want to.

(this is when I stopped keeping track of time, the rest are approximate times).

11:45?-I take Alexandria upstairs to nap. She nurses and falls asleep. I come downstairs and  sort/fold a bunch of laundry while listening to an audio book (The Tattooist of Auschwitz). I clear the table off, look through some paper work, organize the entertainment center, run some more laundry. Peyton is still playing quietly so I piddle around the house, organizing things. Do some texting and planning about some things at church with the religious ed director, texted with another friend about how I fail at some things (true story, I’m not perfect) but how I’m really recognizing those moments and striving to be better. She (APRIL!) was so supportive and offered some helpful advice, as usual.

At some point Alexandria woke up.

2:30ish-Henry gets off the bus. I let him watch some PBS. They all have a snack around this time.

3:00- I work on homework with Henry. We talk about some things, I don’t handle this in-depth convo well, his feelings are hurt in it and so we have 2nd conversation where I am a much better parent. This is a long story I don’t want to go into. Parenting is hard sometimes. I’m seriously so thankful he’s a kid with a big heart. This left me feeling pretty emotionally depleted, and basically like a failure.

3:30-We all get ready to leave for the indoor playground. I’m sure I asked them to get their shoes on 500 times.

4:00- We leave for the playground, rocking to Veggie Tails along the way.

4:15- We arrive, the kids all go play.

4:30- A big kid barrels into Alexandria knocking her back hard, she hits the back of her head on the floor and bawls. I hold her for a good 20 minutes (slightly worried about her head). This kid/his mom/baby sitter? never comes to ask if the baby he just plowed through is okay (this really bothers me at the time)….however, she seems to be just fine, acts normal, but doesn’t want to go play.

4:45-One of my children has a small accident, because they waited a wee too long to go potty. Unfortunately I have no change of clothes for them and so I let them know we will have to leave. They are upset because they’re not ready to leave. As we are walking back into the play area, I open the door and Peyton’s toe gets caught under the door and rips a nice hole in her toe which immediately starts bleeding. She’s in a significant amount of pain, I’m holding the baby and trying to help blood not drip on the floor, looking for Henry who has run off to play. The lady working, helps get me some things and gets Henry who has run off in the play area. Henry gathers all of our things, Peyton cries, Alexandria has run off to climb on top of a table. It was chaotic, stressful. I did manage to keep it together and comfort Peyton. We eventually leave, I carry both girls out to the car, good thing I’ve been working out, (I am still winded though) and we head home.

5:15- I call Josh on the way home and let him know (while in tears) that Peyton’s toe looks pretty unfun and he should probably come home to help me determine if she needs,  to go somewhere to have it checked out. I hold Peyton’s hand the whole way home and tell her she can pick a movie out (she picks Big Hero 6) when we get home.

5:30- We get home, Josh gets home shortly after. We get everyone on the couch, we are examining Peyton’s toe, I’m pretty much done emotionally and it’s showing . Josh and I are both short with each other, Peyton cries off and on because she just wants a bandaid on. I talk to the doctor and a friend who recently went through a broken toe with her daughter.  We all determine Peyton should be fine that night, get her all taken care of and decide to reassess later (Update: her toe is fine and shes able to wear a shoe and walk).

5:45-6- Josh and I finish up making dinner, we cuddle Peyton on the couch, try to convince the kids to eat dinner. I ended up making Peyton peanut butter and jelly (+ applesauce), she’s overtired and hurt, I just want her to have something in her tummy before bed. We cuddle on the couch until the movie is over.

7:30-We all go upstairs to get them ready for bed.

7:40- I head out to the gym while Josh finishes bedtime routine. I do an arm workout that leaves me sore for 2 days (at least) and do 30 minutes of cardio, hoping it will help me release some stress from the day.

9:00- The cardio didn’t help. I get home and cry. Then I shower, I go in and kiss a sleeping Henry and Peyton, I sing from one of their favorite books, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be,”  and get Alexandria to bed. My mind races, my heart is sad. I try to read but I can’t focus. I try to pray but I can’t focus. I go over the whole day and how I failed my 3 sweet little gifts and my 1 big gift (even though a lot of it was out of my control). I think about how short I was with Josh, how I lost my temper with him. I basically just beat myself up for an hour.

10/11:00 (idk when)-I come downstairs, Josh has fallen asleep on the couch, but Henry comes downstairs and asks for a cuddle, so he heads up.  I get my prayer journal out. I write down every single thing that happened, that’s upsetting me, all the things I did wrong, everything I learned and how I can do better the next day. I finish a bag of popcorn while I’m doing this because duh, stress eating. I think about how tomorrow I can do a lot of things better and that I will do them better ( and I do. The day is full of almost all good things).  I ask Jesus for Mercy.

Eventually I get to sleep around midnight?

I wake up to a new day.

 

My Favorite Books from 2018

I asked what people would like to read about and of course “BOOKS!” were mentioned, because my friends are awesome. Last year Josh challenged me to read 100 books. I don’t know if he was joking but I took him up on that challenge. It was all going well until I hit a reading rut in August/September and suddenly I was 10 books behind! I rallied and ended up reading 101 books. Here are some of my favorites that I read (or reread) last year.

 

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
3.5/5 stars

Okay, I’m not really sure if I’m recommending this book. I really can’t decide. gRegor and I decided to read this together because it was on both of our to-read lists. It took me a couple weeks to plow through (it took gRegor a little bit longer ;)). Anyway, bear with me. Have you seen the movie Simon Birch? That movie is loosely based on this book. I’ve yet to rewatch it since reading this book (we had it on VHS tape back in the day!). This book is VERY long, it was probably the longest book I read last year (it sure felt like the longest book I’ve EVER read, but I think a couple Harry Potter books are longer).  The journey that Owen and his friends take is a long one, full of many twists and turns. It’s quite a spiritual journey, for more than one character. But never has any book come together at the end like this one did. It really kinda blew me away and made me a tad jealous that I would basically never be able to come up with something quite as epic. I didn’t love or hate it, part of the time I was just trying to get through it. But I also think some people really enjoy the more detailed/lots of stories in one big epic novel. If you love that, this one is for you. If you’re trying to read a ton of books this year, then wait.

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
4/5 stars

The main character Starr, a 16 year old,  African American girl who lives in 2 different worlds, her prep school world (basically an all white school) and her home life which at times can be scary (drive by shootings, drug dealers, etc). The story follows the ups and downs of both of her worlds. You see her transform into to a bold, brave girl who faces the racial tensions in each of her worlds head on. Everyone should read this book. I think often times we don’t know how to relate to other people because we haven’t walked in their shoes. This book is a great way to walk in Starr’s shoes, rasee how racism is alive and scary. Quick, easy, educational read. It is now a major motion picture.

Divine Mercy for Moms by Michelle Faehnle and Emily Jaminet & Saint John Paul the Great: Five Great Loves by Jason Evert
5/5 stars & 5/5 Stars

I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this book before, it’s probably one of my favorite books of all time. While “Divine Mercy” is generally a Catholic topic, don’t let that scare you off.  I’ve read this book twice and both times felt like the first time. It truly helps me be a better mother, a better spouse, a better person. Mercy isn’t always easy to give, but it’s certainly something God is always waiting to give us. This book helps you find ways to live out your calling with more grace, purpose and mercy (for yourself and others). I may just go ahead and read it again this year. I put these together because they’re 2 peas in a pod. Saint John Paul II really brought the message of Divine Mercy to fruition for the church and he canonized Saint Faustina (who received and shared the message of Divine Mercy). In this book you’ll read about who JPII was. He was more than just the Pope. You don’t need to be Catholic to enjoy this one (besides he was so greatly loved by people of walks of life). His life was truly inspiring and he was brilliant! I credit JPII on my path to forgiveness.

 


The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah
5/5 Stars

When people ask me what was my favorite book last year or what book they should read next? This book is always the first one to come to mind (funny because a couple years ago, Hannah’s book The Nightingale was my #1!). I LOVED this book. Why do I love reading? Because I’m usually half lost in some story half the day. When I’m not reading a book it’s like half my brain isn’t in use.  And every so often a book really digs in deep, like this one.  Anyway, this book was just so rich in detail that I was totally absorbed. It is set in Alaska and it made me want to go there and experience it for myself (although Alaskan winters? Not so much). I didn’t know much about Alaska but oh my gosh! It sounds incredible and kinda scary. After I finished this book I added a bunch of Alaska shows to my list on Netflix (none of which I have watched yet because the whole reading 101 books last year ruled my free time). Anyway, the book follows a young girl and her unstable parents as they pick up and move to Alaska. Her father is abusive and her mother basically enables him. I will reread this book one day. (I also reread The Nightingale last year, go read that one too. WWII, historical fiction).


Birding Is My Favorite Video Game By Rosemary Mosco
4/5 stars

If you know me (or drive with me) you know I’m a bit of bird nerd (I blame Josh). I’ve constantly got my eyes on the lookout for birds (not crows and the like but hawks, Eagles, Bluebirds, anything you don’t see every day). Last year we even had an Eagle at our house, it was awesome. Anyway, my friend Cam got this book for me (thanks!). It is comic book like and very clever. I laughed out loud at times and even learned a thing or two. It was a fun, quick and educational read. Get outside, read and find a new to you bird.

 

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith  (aka JK Rowling)
5/5 Stars

Another favorite from last year was the next book in The Cormoran Strike series. While I didn’t LOVE the first in this series I have loved the rest. They are mysteries by heart and will at least call to mind that mystery from Harry Potter when you just couldn’t figure out who the bad guy was. But the characters (Cormoran and Robin) will be what keep you coming back for more). Cormoran is a detective, Robin has joined his practice and they’re also working through lots of personal problems and trying to sort out what in the world they/each other are feeling. It will also leave you wanting fish and chips (from a legit pub). I don’t  know what else to say without spoiling it. Go start the first book!

 

If you’re not on Goodreads and you love (or even just like) books you should join! Do you have any recommendations for me? Good luck on your 2019 reading goals (I just finished my 2nd book of the year yesterday!).

Here’s to 2019!

Ah, yes, new year, new blog post. But hopefully more than 2 blog posts in 2019. I mean, I’m not sure anyone even reads this anymore. But my fingers march on. I do hope to write more this year. What has kept me from blogging this past year? Basically not feeling like I can be vulnerable. Good news, though. Last year I read a book about being more vulnerable, I’m going to try it out, so please be kind if you decide to ever respond to my posts. 😉

Last year I feel like I did a good job of meeting my goals. Okay…at least one goal. My reading goal was 100 books. I read 101 books. I know, I know….,”Isha, how you do you find time read so much.” Really what you should ask yourself is, “Why aren’t I reading more?” I didn’t watch any TV, stayed up too late reading and had no life outside of books and my family, ha. Reading 100 books wasn’t easy. It would’ve been much easier had I not been 10 books behind schedule in September. I then had to kick my butt into gear. I listened to many audio books and read some short blah books. But I did it! And that will not be my goal again, until my children have grown and left and I’m old lady bookworm. I hope to only read great books this year and not feel forced to read at times.

I honestly don’t remember my other resolutions and hopes for last year. But here are some I have for 2019:

  • Listen more/talk less
  • Depend on my phone less
  • Less fast food/junk
  • Gain muscle back/feel fit
  • Deny myself (I tend to indulge my every whim)
  • Slow down, experience more, don’t rush life
  • Spend less money on inconsequential things
  • Blog/journal more/not care what people thing about my writing
  • Learn photoshop  or lightroom
  • Read 60 books

Here are some bucket list items for the year:

  • Visit Yogi Bear in Bloomington
  • Attend  the Holy Family Catholic Conference
  • Michigan
  • Take the kids on the Polar Express
  • New Windows for the house
  • Paint/decorate the kid’s rooms (we will hopefully finally get around to doing this!)
  • Mulch and plant the front flower beds (and then actually take care of them, this is all new to me!)
  • Try a new cuisine
  • Visit a new state/destination
  • Take H & P to a Pacers game

On top of these fun things, my best friend is getting married! This will be my most favorite event of the year and I can’t wait to see her walking down the aisle to her groom who will be bawling his eyes out.

Above all, I pray we find joy every day in the simple.  What are your 2019 hopes and goals?

(a small) 2017 Book Look Back

2017 Goal: 60
Actual books read: 74!

I read 27,068 pages across 74 books.
My average rating was: 3.8/5 stars.

Favorite Book:  While nothing immediately stood out like in prior years, here are a couple favorites

 

 

Least Favorite/Most over hyped: (only rated 2 books below 3 stars all year, and this one was supposed to be great!)

 

 

I didn’t manage to stay on top of my reviewing. I don’t really feel down about it though, I’m pretty proud of the 74 I read this year! Josh told me to go for 100 next year. I think I will! Looking forward to all of the new adventures I will find.

Thank you, Mrs. Hogan

Next year, Henry starts Kindergarten and it has caused me to be reminiscent and reflect on my elementary school days. They were truly some of the best school years of my life. I went to a great school (go Templeton Tigers!) and from 4-6th grade I was blessed with the best teacher, Mrs. Hogan.

I’m not just throwing the word “best” in there lightly, she truly was the best. She treated us as family, not as students. There were several times she drove me home (knowing we didn’t own a car) if I missed the bus or a couple times just because she sensed I needed to talk. If you’re a teacher, NEVER underestimate the impact you can have on your students.  I am sure, at times it feels like you are just drudging through. But hear me: You truly can change their lives and make a forever impact. I’ve been thinking of Mrs. Hogan and her support and love and I wanted to share just how special she was.

My life, from 4th-6th grade was often times full of turmoil at home, the situation between my brother and mom could at times become volatile. I did a lot of growing up during this time, not because I was eager to, but the circumstances of my life caused me to. I couldn’t ignore the reality I was facing every day at home.  Eventually my brother left (when he was 16-17 years old) and we didn’t know where he was, if he was safe or alive. And at the time, that was so scary for me. I didn’t understand why any of this was happening.

And then one day, my grandma told us she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. This, was obviously devastating news. This was a time before some of the more modern advances, we were unsure if she could or would beat it. I remember the evening we found out. My mom and I sat on the couch and she cried. I was 12 at the time. I sat and comforted her. I was terrified I would lose Grandma, but I didn’t let much emotion out. I just sat and told my mom it would be okay.

The next morning, I felt numb. I went to school and I sat at my seat and didn’t engage in any before class shenanigans as usual (begging Mrs. Hogan to play the newest N’sync CD, reading the newest Harry Potter, etc). I just sat there and stared at the table. If anyone reading this remembers me then (or knows me now), I am rarely quiet, I loved to be in the thick of things. Mrs. Hogan immediately recognized something was troubling me. She came over and sat next to me and asked what was up, she knew what home life was like for me, she probably assumed it was related to that. I told her my grandma (who she knew, most people in Bloomington knew her), had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Mrs. Hogan comforted me and asked if I would like to share it with the class.

When school started for the day she had everyone sit in a circle on the floor and she let me share with the class the news, it was quiet, I cried, but I felt such a release and relief to not be carrying that news alone. And this moment of sharing would start what would come to be known as “Lean on Me Thursdays”.

Every week, Mrs. Hogan had everyone sit on the floor in a circle and we would take turns sharing whatever was on our hearts. Sometimes it was that a pet was sick and dying, other times it was family life at home. One day, a girl who’s brother was friends with my brother, started crying. She turned to me and apologized. She knew that I didn’t know where my brother, as he had ran away from home several months prior, but she knew where he was. She felt that she had been lying/keeping it from me. We both cried and hugged. And we started to heal.

This space that Mrs. Hogan gave us, allowed everyone to be heard, loved and supported. We were able to feel whatever we needed to and we weren’t alone. Mrs. Hogan created a safe place for us. I can’t even express what this meant to me at the time. I knew that I wasn’t alone.  That special group of kids and Mrs. Hogan helped me through the toughest time in my life. Were we all best friends? No. But we all knew that we would be heard and supported by each other. Mrs. Hogan also shared with us heartbreaks from her own life too. This created such a trusting environment for us.

I think about this short time in my life often, how it shapes me, even today. It is just one of those things that will leave a lasting impression on me. It made me more compassionate towards everyone, not just the people I was closest to. Today, I know that in times of darkness or fear, that I’m never truly alone. That there is always someone who would be there if I needed them. I think that is often times hard to see when we get to certain places in our lives. But we are never truly alone in our struggles, there is always someone who we can lean on, who will hear us. And if you ever doubt that, then know, that you can always lean on me.

Thank you Mrs. Hogan. Thank you  for hearing me cry out in silence. Thank you for seeing and hearing all of us, thank you for not just sticking to your curriculum. Thank you for seeing us little humans and understanding that life was coming at us so fast and we needed you and needed each other. You changed my life in more ways than just this. You didn’t see my socioeconomic status, you saw the funny, silly and caring girl who had potential even if many others would look the other way. Thank you for those 3 years in my life. They were the best. You were the best.

Short Thoughts on Books 19-32 of 2017

Well, as you can see, these “reviews” aren’t pretty, with no external links added, etc. But I just finished reading book 60 and I really don’t have time to make this posts pretty. Maybe in 2018 I will do a better job of keeping up (don’t count on it).  I would really like to blog more and will make a better effort and not just about books. Maybe I’ll even blog about something that pisses someone off (like my thoughts on kneeling during the National Anthem! Woooo-weee, things could get heated!).

Here are some short thoughts:

Legend series by Marie Lu

4/5 stars

This young adult series could be lumped in with The Hunger Games. It has all the adventure and heartbreak that you’ll need and you’ll want to read the next one.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
3.5 stars/5

This book would appeal to anyone who loved Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, you don’t get to see the whole picture until the end of the book and you’re guessing along the way about what really happened, who is to blame for the little girl who goes missing disappearance. I remember not loving any of the characters, they were all pretty self absorbed. But it sure did keep me reading.

 

Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait by Leo Maasburg
10/5 Stars

Honestly, I could write an entire post about this book. Any and everyone should read this book. Don’t let the religion aspect get in the way of how it can help you become a better person. Mother Teresa, was funny, so human and loved everyone she met. “If I’m busy judging people, I wont have time to love them” (probably not a perfect quote, but you get the idea). If we could all adopt many of her ways of life, the world would be better. We just have to get past self.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
2.5/5 stars

I had to go read what this was about because I kind of forgot, but I knew when I looked up the cover that I didn’t love it. The characters were unlikable, the story felt disjointed and all over the place. I expected more from this book because it had fairly high ratings but I was never able to make a great connection with it.

Smart Martha’s Catholic Guide for Busy Moms by Tami Kiser
3.5 /5 stars

This is not a book you read straight through, like it’s title suggests it’s a guide, you come back and read portions of it as you need ideas (for cleaning/organization/dinner plans, etc). Unlike it’s title suggested, it’s not really Catholic. She threw some Catholic words/ideas in after the fact (at least that’s what it felt like). Ex. “Rotate toys, so your children don’t have too many to play with, also pray a rosary”. I made the mistake of trying to read it through and that probably led to me not loving it. I think as the years progress I will find times that I can refer to it more.

 

Still Life by Louise Penny
3/5 stars

This is a mystery, which generally I love, but i felt this was lacking. It felt like nothing happened and then all of a sudden we knew who killed who and why. It took me forever to get interested and I can’t say that I was ever really vested in it. When it was over, I was glad and I didn’t want to read the rest of the very long series.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
3.5/5 stars

This is the second book by Whitehead that I’ve read. Well, the first (Sag Harbor), I never actually finished. But I had higher hopes for this book because it had great reviews. I don’t think I loved it as much as others did. It was written from different character’s POVs over a span of years, which sometimes made it hard to remember what happened when and why. But I’ve always been so interested in The Underground Railroad, so the history of it kept me interested.
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
3/5 stars

OH MY GOSH. I think this may be the longest book I’ve ever read, it took me like a month to finish it. And I didn’t love it. Like some of the other later books in the Game of Thrones series, I found some parts hard to follow, sometimes a new character would just be thrown in and I wasn’t sure how they fit in or what I was suppose to follow with their story. However, the parts I did understand were good. But boy it’s hard to get through such  an intense novel. I often times had to google to make sure I understood what I had just read/what had happened. Partly because I may have fallen asleep during parts of the book! Joke. Kinda. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the next book, but I will read it…..if it ever gets published.

The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn
3.5/5 stars

This is the 2nd time I’ve read this book. And I could read it again and still not absorb half of it. It touches on the book of revelation and how that relates to the Catholic mass. It illustrates the how and whys of the  mass and how it’s pulled directly from the Bible. It’s not for the faint of heart, you must really focus while reading it and have a Bible handy for reference.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
4/5 stars

A book that I’ve started several times, but never completed…until now. The story centers on Esther, who is a smart woman, going through a very intense mental breakdown. It illustrates well, that mental illness knows no bounds and can/does effect people from all walks of life.

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica
3/5 stars

I generally love thrillers/can’t figure outers, but this wasn’t my favorite. Written from several POVs, with very little information/context given, it made it too uninteresting to follow. I didn’t like having to infer SO much. One of my early notes on this book was, “IDK this book is weird.” Enough said.


Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
3/5 stars

Apparently I’m too much in a hurry even for this book. It was like in school when I read some material and had to reread it 8 times before it sunk in, except sometimes it never actually did. Yeah, that was this book for me. There were some parts I really enjoyed and it kept my attention but I think I need more quiet and less hurry in my life to absorb it. That being said, I think a lot of people who are into this type of stuff would love this book and it does a good job of breaking things down. The cover is beautiful and gets a 5/5.

 

 

 

Books 6-18 of 2017

Blogging (and reviewing books) is clearly not my strong suit this year. I never take the time to sit at the computer and even think and the following reviews are pretty sparse but at this point I’m just scrambling to catch up (for the 1-2 of you that may want to read about these books). I’ve read a total of 27 books this year, here are books 6-18 (with 2 of them being rereads).

Pottermore Presents: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous HobbiesShort stories from HOgwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists and Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide by JK Rowling

4/5 stars (as a whole)

Nice little short E-books that provided extra information on some key characters (Lupin for one!) and other tid bits about Hogwarts. Honestly I felt like if you’ve read the books and a lot of other back story elsewhere from Rowling than you have already learned most of it. But I will never say no to anything about Harry Potter written by Rowling. These are easily read in an hour or so.

 

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
3.5/5 stars

This book took me around 2 months to read/listen to. It constantly lost my interest and I had to resort to online summaries sometimes. A lot of the main characters are missing (because they’re all dead. Seriously everyone dies). I felt like this book was just one to  be trudged through, a kind of bridge from one book to the next (that is to be foreseen as I haven’t made it very far into the next book).

 

Saint John Paul the Great by Jason Evert
5/5 stars

I absolutely loved this book and I am not a huge non-fiction/biography lover. The first part of this book outlines JPII’s beginnings, of which are so harrowing you would think they were made up. You can clearly see how his sorrowful childhood and risky (due to the Nazis and Soviet Union) teen years shaped the man he became. I don’t think it matters if you’re Catholic or not, this book is really meant for anyone. The story progresses to JPII’s years as Pope, all of his valuable contributions to the world, devotion to his faith and complete selfless nature. I could devote an entire blog (and I may) to parts of this novel that truly resonated with me (about forgiveness). Men (and women) like JPII are rare.

 

Beautiful Mercy by Pope Francis (and others)
3/5 Stars

A quick, easy and just okay read. Each short chapter is by a different Catholic scholar (priest, nun, author, etc). I wasn’t overly moved by their stories and felt they were missing some depth, that’s not to say they don’t matter, they just didn’t hold my attention.

 

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
5/5 Stars

I love books I don’t want to put down, books I don’t want to end. This novel needs read by everyone in 2017. It could open so many doors, start so many conversations about the differences between races. It specifically speaks to Caucasian vs. African American misconceptions/misunderstandings/racial tension. Ruth (African American), a labor and delivery nurse heads in to check on a newborn baby (Caucasian), a boy who is the child of 2 white supremacists. They ask that she is removed from their case. The infant unfortunately passes away in the course of the next day and Ruth is taken to trial for his murder. A novel that had me questioning what I need to learn/change in order to just be a better human being. I think that there are conversations among all races that could be had if we had the courage to step outside of our comfort zones and ask the questions so that we can better understand one another.

 

You Can’t Eat your Chicken Pox Amber Brown by Paula Danziger
4/5 stars

I read this to reminiscence about days past ;-). This was one of my favorite series as a kiddo and I happened to have it on my shelf.  A cute little book following a spunky girl on summer vacation. The book does bring up divorce, as her parents have separated, so it could be good for a child struggling with separated parents. Good for beginning readers.

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
2.5 /5 stars

I was initially just interested in this because I have a friend named gRegor and I love The Hunger Games series (also written by Collins). However I couldn’t wait to finish this book. I force fed myself this book. It’s about a boy who falls down a hole with his baby sister and is trapped in an underworld and his long last dad happens to be there too. I like fantasy novels but this one just rubbed me in all the wrong ways. Pass.

 

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
4.5/5 stars

Lily, the main character meets Ryle who has never been able to commit to a relationship. However, the spark they have develops into love and Ryle and Lily fall hard. Lily, recently opening her own flower shop, grew up with an abusive father and a dear friend, Atlas who helped her escape rockets back into her life. All of these lives are colliding, leaving everyone questioning what to do. Ryle battles his own demons, demons that Lily has already faced in her childhood, ones she is not sure she can live with forever. A great book that opens the dialogue on abuse, touching on mental illness and knowing your limit, when you should walk away.

 

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard
4/5 stars

The 3rd installment in the Red Queen series finds Mare in captivity of King Maven, wondering if she will ever see her family and friends again (or if they are even alive). The war rages on and loyalties are constantly called into question and in the end she will even question the one she loves most. Will he stay or go? This is hard to review without a hundred spoilers. I did find it just a tad slow at at times but overall it kept my interest. The epilogue was really just the next chapter in the book, it wasn’t in the future as epilogues tend to be and I didn’t like the ending (and not just because it was cliff hanger). I am looking forward to the next one (write, write, write Aveyard!).

Also reread: Red Queen and Glass Sword

Books 6-18 of 2017

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