Thursday, January 5, 2017

Books of 2016

The wonderful Leigh Kramer did a couple of posts of her favorite fiction and non-fiction books read in 2016, and I've been inspired to share a few of my own favorites. For a complete list of books I read last year, check out my Goodreads challenge.

Favorite Fiction

  • Eleanor & Park, Carry On, and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell ~ All three of these books were SO good! I cannot distinguish which one is my favorite. I will tell you that I finished both Eleanor & Park and Attachments in one day, and I was sad when they ended. I got the audio version of Carry On and by gosh, by golly, it was lovely to have a British accent in my car. All the swoons for Baz and Simon. 
  • The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon ~ A tad confusing in the beginning, but then it clicks and oh my goodness this is a fascinating, suspenseful read. Highly recommend it, and I encourage readers to stick through the first 100 pages... that was when it really grabbed me. 
  • Robert Galbraith's Cormoran Strike mysteries {aka J.K. Rowling writes detective stories for adults} ~ I loved these books. I audio-booked them all, and the narrator was fabulous. I loved how the characters developed over the three books {I hear rumors of a fourth - fingers crossed!}, and I love mysteries. So good. 
  • Speaking of J.K. Rowling, my 2016 list would not be complete without Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. Lots of thoughts and feelings here, but no spoilers. It was fun to jump back to Harry's world, even if it was different on a stage. And fun fact: I finished The Cursed Child exactly one year after I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Morning Star by Pierce Brown ~ This is the final installment of the Red Rising Trilogy, and ohmygod it did not disappoint. I put off reading it for a while because I wanted to re-read Golden Son {book two} first, and I'm glad I did. For an entire weekend, I could not put this book down. I angry-texted my sister, I wept, I screamed, I yelled, I scared my flatmate and her friend, and then at the very end, I wanted to start all over. If you have not jumped into this series, let 2017 be your year!
  • Ok, last one by J.K. Rowling: The Casual Vacancy ~ Creepy, well-woven, sad, intense, and brilliant, of course. I audio-booked this one, and our dearly beloved Tom Hollander was the narrator! Such fun. 

Favorite Non-fiction
  • Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther ~ I devoured Esther's memoir of growing up in a cult and then escaping from it and rebuilding her life. The very first paragraph made me laugh, and then I kept reading and my laughter disappeared. It was a haunting story, and Esther is beautiful and strong to share it. 
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander ~ Truly eye-opening! I appreciated all the research and fact-finding Alexander did to argue that incarceration really is the new Jim Crow. Highly recommend this to all. 
  • All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister ~ Oh how I loved reading this. For anyone out there thinking "the struggle is real," this is for you. Friendships and cities and education and choices... lots to discuss!
  • Night Driving by Addie Zierman ~ Zierman's first book was so valuable to me in 2015, and I was not disappointed by her second. This is a delicate questioning and a desperate exploration of what "light" looks like in the middle of life's dark winters. 
  • Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham ~ "Gilmore Girls" fans, rejoice! Graham's book is just like her - hilarious, sincere, enjoyable, and genuine. Bonus: Graham narrates the audiobook herself :)
  • Ghost Belly by Elizabeth Heineman ~ This was a book I read for one of my doula trainings, and it made me cry tears of sadness, understanding, and frustration. Heineman did a beautiful job describing the pain and confusion she and her family faced after a stillbirth. Her writing is lovely, blunt, and vulnerable. 
This year, my Goodreads challenge/goal is to read 70 books. What about you?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Life at Lightning Speed

January is over already!! This month has flown by. Lots of things have changed and are changing, and then some things are remaining the same, and both are beautiful.

In January, both this blog and I had a birthday! The blog turned 7 and I turned 27, so yay!

On my birthday, after a yummy dinner of gyros, after presents, after my parents and sister went home, I sat on my couch and made a list of 27 things I want to experience while I'm 27. Some of them I've done before and want to do again, and some of them I've never done before and I'm excited to try. I will probably post the list before my 28th birthday and show you everything with pictures.

I will share one thing on my list, though. I wanted to dye my hair, and last weekend I did! I have been wanting to go darker {I'm naturally a medium-to-light brown}, and so last week I bought a box dye and Saturday night I bit the bullet and dyed my hair. I've had my hair colored before, both out of a box and professionally, but this was my first time I was the one with both the hair and the bottle of dye! Don't worry - it looks fabulous :)

Speaking of changing colors....

I painted my living room wall! The light is quite awful - the original wall color was a lime green that was fun and funky {and not at all like the urine color that it appears in the above picture}. But oh my gosh, PURPLE!!!

Here's after the first coat - isn't it fantastic!? A wee bit streaky {that's why we do second coats} but overall, quite lovely. I just touched up the trim last night, so I'll try and remember to share some pictures once the tape is off and the furniture is back in place. Key word there is "try."

Let's see, what else happened in January? I attended a birth {ALWAYS a joy!}, spent time with my sister who was home on break, met friends for happy hours, and watched several episodes of "Parenthood." I read 5 books, cleaned many parts of my house that had been neglected, and got my business license. My doula adventures probably deserve their own post, so we'll see if that happens.

The title of this post basically sums up life - it's happening fast! I've got a good life, and I'm grateful. Thanks for being a part of it!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What I'm Into: December 2015

What I'm Into

Linking up with Leigh Kramer as we review the last month {and year - hello, 2016!}.

I really should do a final Reading Challenge update and share the last quarter of the year, but I doubt that it will happen as an independent post. So let's just deal with that in our hearts and combine the updates. whatevs. 

"A Book You Chose For Its Cover" - I read The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett, which is a Doctor Who adventure. Yes, I chose a book because Matt Smith's face was on the cover, but hey, that was basically the assignment! This was a light, fun read, and it was especially enjoyable because it takes place during Eleven's time with Amy and Rory - such a treat. 

"A Book Your Mom Loves" - silly Bek. Silly, silly Bek. Let's take a moment and appreciate the silliness of Bek. You guys, my mom reads a lot, but she has read this one particular book probably a dozen times. When I saw the challenge, I knew that book was the book I'd be reading. Why I waited until December to start reading a 1,400-page book, I will never know. Anyway, I'm currently reading "...And the Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer. It is very enjoyable, but there's no way on God's green earth that I'll have it finished in 24 hours. 

Not related to this reading challenge, I also read:
  • Room by Emma Donoghue - LOVED. Terrifyingly innocent and haunting... Don't watch any movie trailers until you read the book first. {I'm hoping that this will make the movie slightly less intense, but I doubt it}
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - also loved. Don't audio-book this one; get the hard copy. There are illustrations {by the author's husband} and details that make the book. 
  • Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul by Erika Morrison - this is such a good book. It's one of those soul-stretching, boundary-breaking books, and I highly recommend it. 
  • Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey - cannot recommend this one enough. To borrow her analogy of sorting through an attic, Sarah gently cradles each item and shares what she's learned from her own life and sorting. Gentle and beautiful, and I was thrilled to learn that Sarah spent some time in the Anglican Church!
  • New and Selected Poems: Volume One by Mary Oliver - this is maybe probably the first book of poetry I've attempted to read as an adult, and I'm actually really enjoying it. There are a few lines of various poems that just stop me in my tracks, and I was not expecting that. 

  • Jayna and I finished "Gilmore Girls" last night - ALL. THE. TEARS. and FEELS. Oh my word. Counting down to the Netflix revival already. Related: I'm going to start "Parenthood" very, very soon in order to get my Lauren Graham fix.
  • This week I finished Season Four of "Longmire." This show sure knows how to end seasons on cliffhangers! 
  • I started watching "New Girl" last night. I can't decide if it's cute and quirky or cute and annoying. 
  • "Doctor Who" - Season Nine just ended. Capaldi is so brilliant.
  • "Sherlock" Special airs in less than 48 hours - yipee!
Doula Adventures:
My website is live {check it out!}, I attended my second certifying birth at the beginning of this month, and this week I've been completing and mailing business licensing forms. Also, I submitted my last two BAI homework assignments, so as soon as I attend three more births and get my grades, I'm done! My goal for 2015 was to finish all the non-birth assignments, so yay me!

thanks, Meryl

Listening to:
  • "Details" album by Frou Frou {Imogen Heap is part of this dynamic duo!}
  • "Hello" by Adele... can't stop, won't stop
  • "Satellite Kite" album by Beautiful Eulogy - discovered them because Josh Garrels does a song with them. I love the musical soundscape-esque mixed with the steady rhythm of not-quite-rap {more spoken word}.
Grateful for:
  • Samara came up before Christmas, and she and Cami and I got some good reunion time together. I'm grateful for my two best friends!
  • Ellen is home for Christmas break {I didn't get to see her over Thanksgiving}, and we are watching the "Harry Potter" movies together. I'm grateful for my sister and our mutual love of Hogwarts.
  • My dear parents gave me a peanut ball for Christmas. This is something I asked for that is more for my business than it is for me, but I'm still thrilled. My family shook their collective head at me, but I still squealed with joy. Grateful for family who loves me at my weirdest.
That's it! December and 2015 are almost done, and I'm ready for a great year in 2016!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Doula Adventures: Website is Live!!!

Hey y'all! Sorry for the radio silence the past month. I've been busy cranking out the last few details of my website, and I'm thrilled to share it with you now! I'm definitely still tweaking it as I receive feedback {and please feel free to send me your thoughts!} but as of Sunday, it is live and public and REAL. Jeepers creepers.

So. Drumroll, please. Welcome to Uplifted Birth's live website!!!

Really, please let me know what you think: is the website clear, do you have unanswered questions, could I say something in a different way, etc. I look forward to your response!

Friday, October 2, 2015

31 Days of Something

Throughout the blogosphere, people are starting 31 Days of Writing projects. It's another sign of autumn, right, these 31 days? Get your pumpkin spice latte and write every day for a month.

October 1st sort of snuck up on me this year. I mean, it was a Thursday. Bridesmaid duties had kept me focused on Saturday the 26th, and I wasn't really aware of anything after that date. But here we are, and I'm trying to think of a topic upon which to pour out thoughts for 31 days, and the only cohesive theme that seems to permeate life right now is how everything. is. changing.

And while change is a part of life, this season of change has felt especially difficult to swallow. It is taking me longer to accept new things and reconcile The Way Things Were Before with The Way Things Are Now. This is both a mental and a physical challenge; my weekly schedule is completely different, and I am nothing if not a creature of routine.

I could make a list of all the things in my life that are changing, but I'm afraid that the list would turn into an angry rant about why certain things have changed and why certain things shouldn't change. Mostly I'm afraid that I would write a list and then curl into a sobbing mess on the floor.

Life is so hard sometimes.

There's no neat and tidy way to conclude this; life is difficult especially in the middle of change, and that's where I'm at. I don't have a conclusion or a point to make; I just have my struggles and my confession that I won't be writing every day this month. I will be reading others' struggles, like Micah J. Murray's becoming human series and my dear friend Carla's journey of grieving her stillborn daughter Cora. I will be reading and nodding my head and aching and crying right along with these people, because I am human and I am grieving and life is hard. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reading Challenge Update: Three Quarters Done

Fall officially started September 23rd, and we are now three quarters into 2015. Sounds like it's time for a Reading Challenge Update! Doesn't autumn make you want to read?

July: a book from your childhood - I re-read These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've been growing my collection of the Little House books recently; seeing these books on my shelf makes me happy. My mom read these books aloud to me when I was a kid, and revisiting them has been such a treat!

August: a book recommended by someone with great taste {but taste vastly different than mine!} - Villette by Charlotte Bronte was recommended to me by Julie, and I hated myself for committing to read it...for the first 150 pages. And then! Suddenly I was hooked. No spoilers, but Julie and I had a wonderful rage-fest over the fate of various characters. Bronte is cruel, and I can't help but love it. 

September: a book that was originally written in a different language - The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank is so touching and agonizing to read. It's took me a while to get through it, mainly because I do a lot of my reading right before bed and I really didn't want to have sad dreams {and also because Harry Potter}. Anne was a very aware teenager, and it was touching to read her observations about herself, her family, and the world in which she lived. 

I'm excited for the last two books on this challenge list: a book your mom loves and a book chosen because of its cover. What are you reading these days?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What I'm Into: August 2015

This month has positively flown by! It is crazy to me that September - the beginning of Fall!!! - is upon us.

People.... I read the Harry Potter series. All of it. All seven books. I can't even deal with how incredible these books are, how deprived my life has been up to this point, and how much I wish I could read them for the first time over and over again. Augh! Tear count is definitely in the hundreds. {Oh, and I was officially Sorted and I am Gryffindor!}

Embrace the Body by Tara Owens {currently reading}: This book has received great reviews from a few bloggers I admire, so I'm eager to get deeper into it. 

When We Were On Fire by Addie Zierman {currently reading}: whoa. Addie gently and beautifully captures the culture of the Evangelical Church in the 90's and 00's... It's like I'm seeing it clearly for the first time. Highly recommend this one, and you can also check out Addie's website.

Working On:
Doula website galore. SO close to hitting publish! It will probably be at the end of September - fingers crossed. And in the meantime, if you feel so moved, you can check out my Facebook page :)

Kitchen cabinets, cleaning and "frosting." Ugh. Taking forever, mainly because this last week of August has been so busy. My goal is to clean the wood of the cabinets with this cleaning goop and then paint the glass. Two doors are done but still on the floor, and I've got two doors by the fireplace waiting to be painted. I know all the chaos will be worth it when they're done, but by golly I wish they were done now. 

My friend Rebecca is getting married at the end of September, and as one of her bridesmaids, I had the pleasure of helping organize and host her bachelorette party! It was really chill and fun and relaxing - how can it not be with a chill group on the beach? We also had the wedding shower and played "the shoe game," which was hysterical.

Listening to:
  • Florence and the Machine's album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Can't stop, won't stop.
  • Hailee Steinfeld's new single "Love Myself"
  • Elle King's "Ex's and Oh's"

My sister and I are in the middle of Season 6 of "Gilmore Girls" - yes, we've just made an interesting discovery about Luke!! But that's as far as we've watched, so keep your spoilers to yourself, sweetie.

Speaking of sweetie, Season 9 of Doctor Who starts September 19th!! And River Song is going to be in the Christmas special! Happiness!!!

On the blog:
In August, I wrote a big long post on my thoughts on the Church. While there are no comments on the post itself, I've had conversations with quite a few people, and it's been good. I'm looking forward to continuing the discussion, and I welcome your thoughts and other pieces you've been reading and writing about this topic. 

Thanks to Leigh Kramer for hosting the What I'm Into link-up {that I missed via blog but am joining via Twitter}. See you next month!