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In-Between is Right Where I Want To Be

30 Jul

Have you ever thought about how you spend your in-between time?

I wrote about it recently, but since picking up a unique read, I felt the need to write on the topic again. 

A writer who I truly admire, for his way with words as much as his generous drive to teach amateur writers how to hone their craft, is releasing a new book this week called The In-Between: embracing the tension between now and the next big thing. Part memoir, part self-help, Jeff Goins takes the reader on a journey through his life’s most important in-betweens. Jeff describes how he has learned to slow down and appreciate the time spent waiting for the next major event, because sometimes those minutes, hours, days, weeks, and even years can be the most fulfilling aspects of our lives.

I agree completely.

{an excerpt}

“We all want to live meaningful lives full of experiences we can be proud of. We all want a great story to tell our grandchildren. But many of us fail to recognize that the best moments are the ones happening right now.

Maybe the “good stuff” isn’t ahead of or behind us. Maybe it’s somewhere in between. Right in the midst of this moment, here and now. Maybe Annie Dillard is right. Maybe what we call “mundane,” what feels boring and ordinary, is really how we spend our lives. And we have an opportunity to make of it what we will – to resent its lack of adventure or rejoice in its beauty. Perhaps, the abundant life we’ve been seeking has little to do with big events and comes in a subtler form: embracing the pauses in between major beats.”

 

I daydream about this concept of “in-between” often. Maybe because I’ve spent most of my life anticipating each subsequent milestone. My parents often joked I was “10 going on 25” because it was as if I could hardly wait to grow up so I could start working to accomplish my dreams. Looking back on my childhood I can totally agree with this playful teasing, since I struggle to recall basic, everyday memories others can drum up so easily. I was too caught up in what was way up ahead that I missed out on the fun happening right in front of me.

The only thing that is certain is the moment we are in right now. {Tweet that.}

I like to believe that I’ve enjoyed the in-betweens in my life thus far, but truth be told there are plenty I could have appreciated more than I did. Jeff’s book is teaching me to value every day of my life as much as the last because the next day is never a guarantee. Time passes so quickly that if we don’t pay attention, it can slip right through our fingertips. I want to live each day full of gratitude for today and for all those dreams I have yet to accomplish.

If you haven’t picked up Jeff’s book yet, go buy it now. I have a feeling you won’t be able to put it down and it will leave a lasting impression, as it did for me.

In-betweenIsRightWhereIWantToBe

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My 10 Favorite Children’s Books

28 May

Books_BML

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” ― Madeleine L’Engle

 

School’s out for summer! I know we’ll be taking lots of long walks to the library and the pool this summer. Which got me thinking about writing a post on my favorite children’s books.

Someday, I will share my story with my kids. When the time is right. For now, we spend the time after bath before we shut the light for the night, snuggling up, lost within the pages of these magical stories.

Many of these have been gifts to our children, but a few were saved from their parents’ own collections. There is no greater hand-me-down than a favorite book. I’m thankful to my mother-in-law and my mom for saving our childhood reading materials to pass on to our own kids.

Here are my ten favorite children’s books (as of this moment), in no particular order. I’m including my favorite line from each.

  • Pete the Cat – I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin ~ “No matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song…”

Pete

  • On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman ~ “Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.”
  • The Two Cars by Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire ~ “Their motors liked the cool night air and purred like kittens.”
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson ~ “There was nothing but pie. But there were all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best.”

Harold

  • My Name is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry ~ “I am Rosa, the greatest, bravest activist who ever was!”
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein ~ favorite poem: “The Land of Happy”
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein ~ “Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”
  • Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld ~ “Tomorrow is another day, another chance to work and play.”

Construction

  • The Empty Pot by Demi ~ “By and by the whole year passed.”
  • That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressioa Cowell & Neal Layton ~ “I don’t care WHO she is,” said Emily Brown. “This rabbit belongs to ME. And his name isn’t Bunnywunny. It’s STANLEY.”

Emily

Is yours on the list? If not, please share in the comments! We’re always looking for our new favorite.

Mini book review: Perfect Chaos by Linea Johnson & Cinda Johnson

27 Aug
Book description from Amazon.com:
 
A dual memoir of a mother’s and daughter’s triumph over mental illness.
 
The Johnsons were a close and loving family living in the Seattle area – two parents, two incomes, two bright and accomplished daughters. They led busy lives filled with music lessons, college preparation, career demands, and laughter around the dinner table. Then the younger daughter, Linea, started experiencing crippling bouts of suicidal depression. Multiple trips to the psych ward resulted in a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and it took many trial runs of drugs and ultimately electroshock therapy to bring Linea back. But her family never gave up on her. And Linea never stopped trying to find her way back to them.
 
Perfect Chaos is the story of a mother and daughter’s journey through mental illness towards hope. From initial worrying symptoms to long sleepless nights to cross-country flights and the slow understanding and rebuilding of trust, Perfect Chaos tells Linea and Cinda’s harrowing and inspiring story, of an illness that they conquer together every day. It is the story of a daughter’s courage, a mother’s faith, and the love that carried them through the darkest times.

 

My mother-in-law recently heard Linea and Cinda Johnson’s interview on NPR. She was captivated by the story of a young woman (Linea) who, not unlike her daughter-in-law, had fought a brutal fight with bipolar disorder. (And is winning the battle, I might add.) The book is told by the teenager who rapidly cycles between major depression and extreme mania and her mother who is torn apart by the crippling feeling of being so many miles away from her daughter when she needs her most.

Being so moved by the interview, my sweet mother-in-law immediately ran out and bought the book. I received it this past Friday and devoured it in two days. (I would have read it faster, but you know, with two little ones running around demanding food and water at times, I had to take breaks.)

 

Was it tough to read at times? Yes. Did it remind me of my manic episodes and hospitalizations? Yes. Did it make me cringe when I read Cinda’s accounts of what she and her husband went through to figure out what was going on with their incredibly talented younger daughter because those are some of the same emotions that I’m sure ran through my parent’s minds as they struggled for understanding when I first got sick? YES.

 

But I loved it so much. It made me want to tell all my friends and family to go buy it right now and read it. Read it so you’ll understand what I went through. Read it so you will understand what my family was dealing with when I was sick. Read it so you’ll know what an incredible husband I was lucky enough to marry. Read it so that you’ll have a better understanding of mental illness. Please. Read it.

 

There were so many parts of the book that made me whisper, “it was that way for me, too,” and “her time in the hospital sounds just like how my time in the nuthouse went.”

 

Here is the review I wrote on Barns & Noble and GoodReads.com:

This book is an amazing recollection of the trauma and stress a family
goes through when their daughter is suffering from and is ultimately
diagnosed with a mental illness. It takes you day by day through their
raw emotions and fragile feelings, so much so, that you feel as though
you are right there with them, fighting as hard as they were to keep
Linea alive and stable. Their story hits home hard for me, as it is
strikingly similar to my own. Reading Cinda’s words was difficult for
me, as I couldn’t help but think that those were the same emotions and
fears that my own parents experienced when I was first hospitalized. I
related so strongly to Linea’s descriptions of what her mind was
thinking during her darkest times. I would recommend this book to
anyone, not just a family dealing with a family member who has a mental
illness. It provides an insightful education to a normal person on what
someone who lives with a mental illness goes through and how support
from friends and family can mean the difference between life and death.

 

I am so proud of them for standing up and telling their stories. It is a goal of mine to someday share my story too. Reading their book made me even more excited to finish mine. Linea’s story is so incredible to me because she is so brave.

 

I want to be brave like Linea. I want to bare my soul to the world someday because I want people to know that mental illness is real and sometimes scary, but that it is possible to be a successful, loving, fun, caring, and healthy person even when you have a diagnosis like bipolar disorder. A great mom, even. I am.

So. I signed up to attend a writer’s conference in November. I am thrilled. It’s going to be just the kick-in-the-ass I need to finally finish my manuscript so that I can query literary agents.

I’ll get there someday. I’ll attain my dream of becoming a published author. One step at a time.

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