Bittersweet

I will never forget that Tuesday morning. I was pretending to work, but I’m sure I was sending off yet another email to my mom or a vendor about last-minute details.

I had one more day of work in Birmingham, and then Mike and I would load up his car and drive the three hours to my childhood home in a suburb of Atlanta.

And then, at 8:45 a.m., suddenly, none of those details mattered in the slightest.

The first plane hit, and then another, and when all was said and done, almost 3,000 people would lose their lives.

It was a communal shock and grief l had never experienced.

But I also had personal shock and grief to experience that day.

It took me a while to admit how angry I was that “my day” was so deeply marred by the events of 2001. It felt incredibly selfish. I feared others would think I was upset about seemingly trivial details like flowers and cake.

That wasn’t why I was angry though, although, I would argue that I had every right to be upset about those details, carefully chosen both because it was our special day and because our young-20s bank accounts left little room for frivolity.

My heart was broken because of all the people who were unable to be there to celebrate with us that day. I was mad because the week that should have been exciting and fun and happy was instead full of tears and anxiety and fear. We felt our wedding—and therefore our marriage—would always have this heaviness, this weight…

This September will be 19 years since that week. I can tell you that our marriage has had its share of heaviness and weight, but not because of how our wedding day was changed. We’ve had the same struggles that all couples have, but we’ve also had the joys and highs that come with choosing to love one person forever. People do associate our wedding with the events of that week, but not in the way that we feared. We still have friends and family tell us that our wedding was their favorite because it was a glimpse of light in the midst of such darkness. It was a sign that life would go on, and it reminded us all that in the end, love wins.

I’ve been heartbroken once again this week, but not for myself.

I know there are people getting married with only 10 or fewer friends and family when they envisioned everyone they loved in the same room.

I know there are high school seniors and college seniors who’ve worked so very hard anticipating the walk across a stage with proud parents and peers cheering at the sound of their name.

There are countless other celebrations and life events that have been years in the works, and there are likely more cancellations for all of us to come.

What I expected to be a sweet week 19 years ago turned out instead to be bittersweet. I would undo everything that happened that week if I had the power, but as I don’t, instead, I have with time, come to see the richness and depth in the bittersweet.

And while I would wave that same magic wand over the world right now and give everyone back their health, their small businesses, their regular school and work days, and their days of celebration, since I can’t, I pray instead for the richness and depth of bittersweet days.

That those who you can be near, would draw nearer still.

That the pride you feel at accomplishing something would be deeper.

That the excitement you feel about whatever is next would only be heightened in the face of your current reality.

And that the bitter pill of disappointment would blend with the sweet sip of celebration to create something deeper, richer and truly worth savoring.

leaving our wedding

How I’m battling the dragon of anxiety

If you’ve spent more than a minute with me, you know I’m the kind of person who feels things deeply. I also tend to absorb the emotions and energy of others. On my best day, I can stem the tide of rushing, even conflicting emotions, process what is and isn’t helpful, and move forward in strength.

But.

There are days this feels impossible. Days I feel everything that everyone around me feels so acutely that I can’t even figure out how *I* feel. Days that what I *do* feel seems impossible to carry.

Sometimes it manifests as anxiety. Some days as depression. Some days as just pure old stress and anger.

There have been times where medicine was called for, and I’ve heeded the call. But even during those times, and *especially* during seasons where medication hasn’t been the right answer for me personally, I’ve built my own toolbox to manage my emotions, instead of allowing them to control me. Sometimes my tools work better than others, but thankfully there are many of them, and usually one of them will at least temper, if not slay, the dragon.

This week, however, I admit I let the dragon roar loudly, so loudly, before I pulled out the ol’ toolbox. As I watched the world around me go batshit crazy, it felt impossible to hold back the fear and panic that I had been pushing down so long. But once again, I’ve opened my trusty box of tools and I’m doing the work to bring the Truth into focus.

None of my “tools” are that original, and none of them may fit your need, but seeing as how many people who don’t normally battle anxiety may feel it creeping in, I wanted to share what I’ve found most helpful.

1.) Community.

This one is currently going to be extremely hard for most of us, seeing as how our schools, churches, neighborhoods and groups are all shuttering for safety. We’re going to have to get creative. If you have a supportive spouse or roommate, let them know you may need some extra hugs or kind words. Missing coffee with your bestie? Consider “sharing” a cup over FaceTime.

2.) Outside time.

The winter months are the hardest for most of us. Or the rainy ones. For me, I know much of that has to do with not getting outside. This winter, I’ve tried to be better about that and force myself outside for walks instead of doing all indoor exercise. It’s been really good for me. While my family will be avoiding parks for a few weeks, bike rides and walks outside will still be a good option, and something we’re going to be intentional about.

3.) Gratitude.

I’ve recently resumed the practice of a gratitude journal, and it’s been extremely good for my heart and head. There are a lot of ways to do this, but I recently began following this suggested daily practice: writing down three things you’re grateful for, and expound on  at least one of them (dig deeper into why you’re grateful). This one in particular I believe will be very helpful for all of us who may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of navigating work and kids’ schooling at home, not to mention, not being able to get out and about. Reminding ourselves that there are a million things to be grateful for, even on our hardest day, has been scientifically proven to change not just our perspective, but our health!

4.) Generosity.

Getting outside of my head is much easier when I’m getting outside of mySELF. Looking for others who need encouragement, need reassures, need anything, reminds me that I’m not alone in needing others, and gives me an amazing sense of purpose when I might feel pretty useless. You don’t have to have a lot of money to practice this one either—simply sending texts or emails (or snail mail!) to people who might need a little lift can make you both feel better. I personally believe a well-chosen GIF is about the most generous gift you can give a friend.

5.) Self-care.

This is a buzzword, I know, but I don’t mean go on a shopping spree (and certainly not at the moment!). This is another case where creativity is the name of the game while we’re all homebound. I personally am obsessed with baths. I can literally feel stress melt away during a long epsom salt bath. Also important for me is listening to music. I am working on compiling a dragon-slaying playlist on Spotify, so if you have any suggestions, please share. I start all my mornings with 32 ounces of water, but then it’s coffee and a candle while I read my Bible and pray. And yes, even a little Netflix and Disney+ (dig up some of your childhood favorites!) can take your mind off of things you can’t control.

6.) Movement.

Call it exercise, call it moving your body, call it whatever you want, just do it! Several years ago, I began a practice of exercising 5-6 days a week, and I’ve never looked back. It started out for my physical health, and yes, that’s still part of why I do it. But it’s certainly not the only reason, and lately, it’s not even the biggest reason. Getting my heart rate up because of a vigorous walk or lifting heavy weights feels GOOD, unlike when my heart rate is up because of stress. It doesn’t have to be intense to be effective. In fact, low-impact exercise like yoga can be incredibly beneficial to both your body and your mind. Just move, somehow, some way.

7.) Faith.

This will not be true for everyone, but for me, this is the most crucial of all. Remembering that I am deeply loved by God, unconditionally, and beautifully made in His image brings me back to center. During this season of Lent, I’ve been doing a devotional that has me start each morning by writing out one attribute of God and worshipping Him for it. Beginning each day remembering His strength, His love, His peace. . . it is precisely what I need to put things in perspective.

 

This is in no way an exhaustive list, and of course, it is highly personal to me, but if you’re feeling anxious and uncertain of what to do about it, I hope my toolbox might inspire you to make your own. No matter how you slay your own dragon, I hope you know, you’re worth fighting for. Your peace. . .  your power. . . your soul. . . YOU, are worth fighting for.

I hope you know you're worth fighting for

There’s more: Getting off the sidelines and onto the slides

“Are you going to do it, mommy?”

“No, sweetie. I’m not really dressed to go sledding.”

“Awwww.”

Then I remembered. I am doing two separate studies right now. One is about replacing stress and anxiety with positive rhythms in your life. The other is about achieving higher creativity. Guess what each of these very different studies, yet both grounded in spiritual truths, have revealed is lacking in my life?

Play.

I know that may seem odd if you see my social media feeds. Our family knows how to have fun. We camp, we travel, we go to movies, we go to concerts, we see musicals, we’re IN musicals…

But when I look back at so many of the things we do, I’ve realized that more often than not, I am on the sidelines, watching my people have fun. I do truly love seeing them laughing and having the time of their lives. As a parent, there’s really nothing better than seeing your kid living their best life and having a great time doing it.

Except.

Maybe there’s more. Maybe there’s jumping in the ring with them.

Maybe instead of holding the bags, there’s getting on the coaster and throwing your hands up.

Maybe there’s dancing yourself silly instead of Instagramming everyone else.

Maybe there’s closing the computer and having an afternoon jump session on the trampoline.

Maybe there’s getting out from the umbrella and into the waves.

Maybe there’s getting on the sled, whether you’re wearing the right clothes or not.

Maybe there’s more.

And so, I stopped taking photos and videos for a few minutes (and let the previously-disappointed-in-me daughter take them instead), and I played. Not for long, because, well I’m 40 and my back hurt.

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But, danggit, I played.  And I remembered why it’s more fun to play than to just watch people play.

And as I heard my girls cackling as I slammed into their daddy at the bottom of the hill and he fell on top of me, I remembered that it’s more fun for all of us when I play.

Yes, maybe there’s more.

Let’s play.

Just imagine

Mike and me at Disney World

If you spend any time around our family, you’ll learn pretty quickly we’re one of “those” families, aka, a Disney family. Our girls grew up watching the movies, and when they were just 5 and 6, we took our first trip to Walt Disney World. We’ve been hooked ever since. So much so that my husband has turned to trip planning both as a side hustle and to feed his obsession for all things Disney.

Disney doesn’t do everything perfectly; in fact, there is probably just as much to criticize as to love. But there’s a good reason for that: they don’t stop trying. They are always changing, always looking for new and better ways to improve their parks, their business, and their brand. Do they get it right all the time? Of course not. But the reason they’re still in the game is because they’re still choosing to put themselves out there.

One of my favorite Walt Disney quotes is this: “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

Every time I read it, I think of the wisdom of those words that goes far beyond a theme park.

As long as we as humans can use our imaginations, we can build a better world for all its citizens.

As long as we as individuals can use our imaginations, we can continue to become stronger, healthier, kinder humans.

As long as we as families can use our imaginations, we can forge stronger bonds, grow deeper relationships, and be stronger building blocks in our communities.

As long as we as intelligent beings can use our imaginations, we can continue to find cures for all that plagues. (I’m looking at you, cancer and type 1 diabetes.)

As long as we as souls can use our imaginations, we can draw closer to our Creator, find our purpose(s), and leave this world better than when we entered it.

I’m a bit of a goal-setter, it’s true. Some of you may have followed along with my 40th birthday challenge: each month leading up to it, I set goals for myself to try new things and have new experiences every month. Honestly, overall, some would call it a big fail. I didn’t meet most of my goals, and at the end of it, I was a bit burned out on self-improvement, if I’m being honest. It’s taken me a while to get reenergized about a lot of things.

But this year is different. Instead of focusing on major goals, I’m doing a deeper dive into my imagination. I’m spending a lot of time dreaming of what is next. I’m reading more. I’m journaling more. I’m doing a couple of studies to remove my creative blocks. More to come on that.

I’m not sure what—if anything—will come of this time of imagining. But I’m scared to think of what would happen if I stopped.

Whether you’re Walt Disney dreaming up a theme park on a park bench, an 11-year-old crafting a fantasy world in her notebook, a retiree wondering what’s next, or a 40-year-old mom feeling stuck, don’t stop imagining what could be.

The world needs your dreams. And so do you.

The new sacred

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Sometimes a sacred space looks like fluorescent lights in place of stained glass, and school desks instead of pews.

I’m in a group of women that gathers in a children’s Sunday School classroom on Thursday mornings to talk about God and share our lives with each other. And let me just tell you about these women. Smart as hell, Jesus-loving, neighbor-caring, family-focused…  Many are in the weeds of parenting. Some are in the throes or just the start of caregiving for their own parents. Some work outside the home. Some stay home full-time.

Their stories.

Their vulnerability.

Their brokenness.

Their joy and celebrations.

I am here for it all. This is a special group, and not because there’s anything extraordinary about any of us. But there’s something powerful that happens when you share the nitty gritty. When you pass the tissues and then a few minutes later, someone passes them to you. When you let down the walls and then keep them down so the real work can begin. When the time ends and you walk back into your ordinary day, but the words that were shared and the tears that were shed stay on your mind and worm their way into your heart.

I don’t know how long my path will intersect with any or all of these women. But I do know my journey will look different forever because they crossed it.

“Vulnerability is hard, and it’s scary, and it feels dangerous. But it’s not as hard, scary or dangerous as getting to the end of our lives and having to ask ourselves what if I would have shown up. … Show up. Be seen. Answer the call to courage … because you’re worth it. You’re worth being brave.” Brene Brown

On rescue and honest prayers

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Parenting always has its ups and downs, but lately in our world, there have been a lot of downs. We’ve been dealing with some tough stuff with a child, and it’s left us feeling discouraged and overwhelmed.

We’ve sought outside counsel, and are continuing to fight for her heart, but in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been dealing with my own heart issues when it comes to this situation.

Because at a certain point, I realized I’ve been asking God to take away this problem, to make things “all better,” but neglected to ask what He might be doing in all of us through this situation.

And even more humbling, I realized that many times, I’m asking Him to make it all better so that it’s easier on me as a mom. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with asking our Heavenly Father to lighten our load, but doing it under the pretense of “help her” instead of “help me,” isn’t being honest with God or myself.

This morning I read this in a devotional by my favorite author, Shauna Niequist:“I prayed for the waiting to be over, instead of trying to learn something about patience or anything else. I prayed for it to get easier, not that I would be shaped in significant ways. I prayed to be rescued, not redeemed.”

I still want God to make things easier, and I’ll keep asking that. For her, and for me. But as of today, I’m doubling down on my prayers for transformation in my own heart, believing that rescue might actually look a lot more like redemption.

On measuring sticks and what I learned from missing every mark

When I set out to make the last year in my thirties count (see the original post here), for me, that meant goals. As a self-driven, highly motivated person, setting goals equals progress.  I like a good measuring stick.

Until I don’t measure up.

And, if I’m being super honest here, I don’t feel I measured up these last 10 months. Aside from the first month, “dry May,” I didn’t hit one single goal 100 percent. Sure, I did MORE of the good things I set goals for, like reading books, doing random act of kindness and purging our house. But there were also many, many days I missed the mark.

So, I failed, right? Or so I’ve felt. Especially since the ongoing goal underlying all this self-improvement was to help me make healthier choices overall to help me hit that magic number: goal weight. Forty (pounds off) by forty (years old)? Not. Even. Close.

Yet one more way I didn’t measure up.

But.

Sunday I completed a goal I’ve had for a year. It was something I never wanted to do. I like to be healthy – I exercise daily, hike, lift weights, etc.  I run… when chased. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but in general, I don’t love to run. So why would I chose to participate in a half marathon?

For starters, I knew there was NO way I’d be doing a whole marathon. Ha! But a half? That felt… almost doable? It felt like one of the biggest physical challenges I’ve undertaken (a couple of backpacking trips might rival it), combined with the hardest mental challenge I’ve undertaken (did I mention I don’t love running?).

I’d heard about the Disney Princess Half Marathon for a long time, and upon doing some research, it seemed like the one to do. I’m all about distractions to take my mind off the pain of running. My Disney-loving husband wanted to do it with me, so we signed up and printed off our training plan.

Then, not even halfway through our training, injury struck. My left foot, which had been bothering me for a couple of weeks, finally gave out on a 5-mile run. My arch was in extreme pain, and after some self-diagnosis, I called on the professionals.  I spent the next two months trying to minimize pain (even walking was limited) and get back on the pavement. Finally, a little over a week before race day, I was able to run around 6.5 miles.

Six point five. The longest run of my life, yet still only half of what I would have to run on race day.

* * * * * *

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One fun thing about the runDisney races is people really get into it and dress up. Meet Ariel and Prince Eric.

When I stepped on the grass to line up with over 20,000 other people on Sunday morning, hours before the sun came up, I carried a lot with me.

I carried the failures I had felt over the last year.
The goals I failed to meet.
The forty pounds I failed to lose.
The demons I failed to conquer.
The training plan I failed to finish.

I carried pain.
My foot: a combination of posterior tibial tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
My head: A killer cold that had come on a few days earlier. (This, combined with unusually high heat and humidity for this time of year in Florida would nearly do me in a few times.)
My heart: the feelings of failure I’ve felt this past year as a mom, a wife, a person… combined with the fears that I would not be up for yet another challenge, all came together to speed up my heart rate before I ever took a step toward 13.1.

* * * * * *

Sure enough, doubling your mileage on a hot and humid morning with a head cold and an injured foot… not recommended. While it was cool to see everyone decked out in costumes, to see the Disney characters out for meet and greets (clearly for people running MUCH faster than us, as there was a 16 mile/min pace required for the race, and stopping for pictures would greatly impact your pacing), and to run through the Magic Kingdom, I was still, well, generally miserable.

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Running toward the castle. If you’re gonna run 13.1 miles, this is the place to do it.

Only once did I fantasize about quitting; mostly, I was afraid I was going to embarrass myself by throwing up. I was a bit surprised by just how physically demanding it was, and the heat really got to me. There were more walking steps than I had hoped for, and the running ones were hardly fast.

But each step got me closer to finally finishing one goal.

And then… we could see the finish line.

* * * * * *

But let’s back up a minute. Just a couple of minutes earlier, a text came through on my watch. I could only read one line from my friend before I had to blink tears away and put my wrist down to avoid reading more. I knew I had to save the ugly cry.

“Whatever is happening in this moment, you are enough.”

My friend is an amazing encourager, but she couldn’t know Just. How. Much. I needed those words.

“I didn’t read my Bible every day.”
You are enough.

“That makes three days in a row that I forgot to do an act of kindness.”
You are enough.

 “I could only run one mile before the pain became too much.”
You are enough.

“Not only did I not lose weight this week, I gained it.”
You are enough.

“I didn’t run a half marathon; I probably walked more than half of it.”
You are enough.

The problem with measuring sticks of our own creation is that the goal is always moving. A half marathon? Why not a full? Lost 60 lbs? Why not 40 more? Raised a healthy child? Why not a happy one, and a grateful one?

All those goals… great ones.

All the striving… exhausting.

* * * * * *

Yes, we crossed that finish line. And while the heat exhaustion and the two miles we had to walk back to the car and then to meet family (we logged over 19 miles that day in total!) kept me from ever allowing the full-on ugly cry that was one sympathetic look away from gushing over, I knew in that moment that my friend was indeed right.

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* * * * * *

As I approach the last month of my thirties, I have a new goal. And it’s not to quit setting goals. Haha! But it is this: to view every goal, every dream, every desire, every challenge through a very specific lens: my teary eyes reading these words.

You are enough.

On setting the bar low

IMG_5185December is almost over, and I’m just now writing an update on November… yep, sounds about right. Ha! Let’s be honest, the main reason January is full of resolutions and goal setting is because we let EVERYTHING go in December. It also helps us make great progress in January since we often set the bar so low the month before. Not that I’m suggesting one should do that, of course…

For November, my 40 x 40 goal was a gratitude journal, and it went as well as a gratitude journal can go. I definitely learned something about myself, which is that while I might have more to pull from at the end of the day, in terms of reflecting on things to be grateful for, I also FORGET TO DO IT ALL THE TIME. Once I switched it to be a part of my morning routine, I was far more consistent. I also decided it’s something I want to continue, so I’ve kept it going in December. However, it’s getting trickier to come up with original gratitudes every day, which I think is going to make it even more effective in terms of helping me dig deep to find joy, so I’m up for the challenge.

Originally, I had some ideas for the month of December that would be super fun, but I decided to keep it simple because a) some months of this year-long challenge have been quite pricey, and December is already an expensive month , and b) December is also a crazy busy month (some of if self-inflicted), and I didn’t think it was realistic or kind to myself to try to take on anything too time-consuming. Since this challenge is all about self-improvement, when I think about December, I think about FRAZZLED and sometimes distracted from the spiritual significance of Advent, so I chose something that would help me focus on spiritual growth.

Last year, Mike and I did the She (and He) Reads Truth Advent studies, and I really loved doing something that was not only Advent-focused, but also was solely Scripture for a change. I love a good devotional book as much as the next girl, but there’s something really powerful about honing in on the sacred text during this holy month. So I decided to pick the study back up again. One cool thing about doing the same one as last year was seeing my notes from last year. At this point last year, we were going through one of the hardest seasons ever as a family, and, wow, it’s really hard to read some of the processing I was doing at that time. But it’s also incredibly encouraging to see how far God has brought us. He was truly faithful to carry us through, and while I still have some hard soul work to go in terms of forgiveness and healing, it was gratifying to see the progress and transformation that  has already occurred.

So for the rest of this year, I’ll continue with my gratitude journal, spending time in the Bible, and also doing some reading up for January’s goal. Here’s a hint of what’s to come:

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“See you” in 2019!

 

Words

IMG_4590“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall.” – Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

It’s not always the TV,  but it is often a screen of sorts, whether my laptop or phone, that keeps me from reading like I want to, and like, as a writer — and heck, a person — I know I should. So I really loved my October 40×40 challenge of reading twice a day. Each morning I read from a few different devotional books and Scripture. And each evening, I read from one of several books I’m reading. I finished a few, and got a lot further in a few more, and I have high hopes of finishing the massive stack by my bed before the end of the year… If I do, it will be the most books I’ve read as an adult in such a short amount of time, and I can’t think of a better way to begin the wrap-up of my last decade in my thirties.

A few things I’ve learned about myself: I enjoy reading more than one book at a time, but only one per genre, and no more than two or three at one time. So I enjoy having a non-fiction book on life or parenting, a captivating fictional book, and a devotional or theological book all going at the same time. I also discovered, thanks to my girls and their reading bowl assignments, a love for middle grade books!

Picking up a book instead of my phone at bedtime did wonders for my mental health as well, so I’m really trying to continue this habit… It’s amazing the allure that social media or even catching up on the news can have for me, but it’s also amazing how much my brain, heart and soul come alive when I allow carefully chosen and edited words to enter my psyche instead of the often hastily chosen or painfully rendered words and stories du jour.

As I continue to pour words into my world with books, my November challenge flips that with a goal to also daily pour out words — words of gratitude. I’ve started a gratitude journal with the goal of not repeating, or resorting to the obvious. October was hard for me, emotionally and spiritually, as I reflected back on the events of October 2017 that sent me spiraling, so I’m once again doing the hard work of digging in to find the beauty among the ashes.

While part of me is terrified that this challenge may end without me hitting my ultimate goal of 40 lbs gone, I am beyond thankful for the work that God has done in my heart and mind as I have embraced challenges that I pray are making me a better reflection of Him and a truer version of who He made me to be. Now excuse me while I go write that last sentence down in my gratitude journal…

With a dreamy far-off look, and her nose stuck in a book…

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When I started the 40 x 40 challenge back in April, I had two main goals: make the last year in my 30s really count by taking on some self-improvement goals and fulfilling some bucket list wishes, and get to my goal weight (40 lbs from where I was in April).

I wish I could report back that I’m making progress on that second goal, but since I’ve pledged to be open on this journey, I have to share that I have not made nearly the progress I had hoped at this point. I have not given up on the end goal, and never will, but I just have to be honest about where I am right now. I’ve got a great plan and wonderful support, but at the end of the day, I’m at the mercy of my own decisions each and every day.

However, I am plugging away at my monthly goals and really enjoying the unique challenges I’ve given myself each month. And now that October is finally upon us (although still no sign of the actual fall weather I’ve been told is supposed to accompany the month), it’s time for a new challenge! Every day in October, I’m committing to reading both the Bible/a devotional and also reading at least one chapter a day in a just-for-pleasure book. Ideally, I’m reading the Bible in the morning, and a book in the evening, but I’m not being legalistic on the timing. You wouldn’t think these two tasks would be very hard for someone whose ACTUAL PAID JOB is to WRITE SPIRITUAL THINGS, but alas, physician, heal thyself.

I’m a week into this challenge, and this is probably the one monthly goal that I will attempt to continue long-term. Reading my Bible and/or a devotional is something I do try to prioritize, but in all honesty, my consistency ebbs and wanes with each phase and season of life. Committing to every single day for a month I hope will help me carve out the space for that in my current phase of life. Currently I’m reading three different devotionals — all with a different theme — in the morning. They’re all very short, but each of them starts with a Scripture and ends with a prayer, and it’s so cool how every day, at least one of them hits me between the eyes.

But reading for pleasure is a hobby that I often fail to do, save vacations. Not only do I thoroughly love reading, it is also something that can better both my person and my career, so making it a regular part of my daily rhythm is something I’m aiming to continue as I roll into the next decade.

I just finished Crazy Rich Asians this weekend (really fun!), and I’ve started Matylda Bright and Tender, one of my daughters’ book team books. I’m hoping to read a few of their book team books pretty quickly so I can talk about them with my girls, and then move back in to the massive pile of books beside my bed (pictured above). They’re a mix of fiction, spiritual, parenting and self-improvement, so I’m planning to rotate between fiction and non-fiction. The best part about that picture is that I’ve purchased most of these during the last year, while I had supposedly put myself on a book-buying hiatus. Apparently I’m a book hoarder, not a book reader. Aiming to change that.

I’ll report back in November with all the books I’ve read… if you’ve got any “must reads” let me know. Actually, don’t. I’m on a book-buying hiatus, you see.