Books of 2020

2020 was a lemon of a year. Instead of whipping up pitchers of lemonade, I read. Lots and lots of books. The local library closed for about two months, so after plowing through the few loaned books I had, I began downloading books on my iPad via Hoopla, a free online media source. I also purchased a few books to add to my home collection. In June the library reopened, and I was once again able to borrow hard copies to help soak up time. By year’s end, my list grew to an all-time personal record—82 books! I highlighted my top five choices in red, which are split among the genres of biography, fiction, memoir, and self-help.

I wish you well as we begin a new year, and hope your days are filled with joy, good health, connection with others, and books.

TITLEAUTHOR
Finding Chika: A little girl, an earthquake, and the making of a familyMitch Albom
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and MeAdrienne Brodeur
The Time KeeperMitch Albom
The Deepest Well:Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood AdversityNadine Burke Harris, M.D.
Onederland: My Childhood with Type 1 DiabetesJamie Kurtzig
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone?Lori Gottlieb
Images of America: GreenhillsDebbie Mills and Margo Warminski with the Greenhills Historical Society
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative BattlesSteven Pressfield
BecomingMichelle Obama
The Unbreakable ChildKim Michele Richardson
Finding Your Way Home: A Soul Survival KitMelody Beattie
Brother & Sister: A MemoirDiane Keaton
Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His SonRichie Jackson
The Two Lives of Lydia BirdJosie Silver
The Book of DelightsRoss Gay
Dear EdwardAnn Napolitano
Cincinnati Goetta: A Delectable HistoryDann Woellert
One Day in DecemberJosie Silver
Zen in the Art of WritingRay Bradbury
Signs: The Secret Language of the UniverseLaura Lynne Jackson
Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the DirtTodd Harra and Kenneth McKenzie
Beginner’s Guide to NumerologyJoy Woodward
An Abbreviated LifeAriel Leve
The Light Between Us: Stories from Heaven, Lessons for the LivingLaura Lynne Jackson
Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living DangerouslyJessica Pan
Everything is Horrible and WonderfulStephanie Wittels 
Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to LivingTim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle
This Could Change EverythingJill Mansell
Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic WorldBrook McAlary
Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults)Michael N. Marcus
A Different Kind of Same: A MemoirKelley Clink
The HideawayLauren K. Denton
Changed By Chance: My Journey of Triumph Over TragedyElizabeth Barker
Recipe For a Perfect WifeKarma Brown
Splitting the Difference: A Heart-Shaped MemoirTre’ Miller Rodriguez
Fire Season: A MemoirHollye Dexter
Let’s Talk About Death Over DinnerMichael Hebb
Green Nails and Other Acts of Rebellion: Life After LossElaine Soloway
A Leg to Stand On: An Amputee’s Walk into MotherhoodColleen Haggerty
Four Funerals and a Wedding: Resilience in a Time of GriefJill Smolowe
Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and UnderlivingCeleste Headlee
The End of Your Life Book ClubWill Schwalbe
St. Francis Society for Wayward PetsAnnie England Noblin
Her Beautiful BrainAnn Hedreen
Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending WomenEdited by Nina Gaby
Flip-Flops After Fifty: And Other Thoughts on Aging I Remembered to Write DownCindy Eastman
The FallenDavid Baldacci
The Keeper of Lost ThingsRuth Hogan
Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their LivesBrian L. Weiss, MD
We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and HumorMarika Lindholm and other authors
My Sister’s GraveRobert Dugoni
Bones Never LieKathy Reichs
Wild and Precious LifeDeborah Ziegler
Found: A MemoirJennifer Lauck
Secret Girl: A MemoirMolly Bruce Jacobs
Marrow: A Love StoryElizabeth Lesser
A Perfect ProposalKatie Fforde
Dead Guy’s StuffSharon Fiffer
RedemptionDavid Baldacci
Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous ManMary Trump
A Cold TrailRobert Dugoni
UntamedGlennon Doyle
Writers and LoversLily King
I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a WomanNora Ephron
Life After Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort, & Community After Unthinkable LossJennifer Ashton, M.D.
Your Voice in My HeadEmma Forrest
The House on Olive StreetRobyn Carr
Bunco: A Comedy About the Drama of FriendshipRobin Delnoce
Past Lives With Pets: Discover Your Timeless Connection to Your Beloved CompanionsShelley A. Kaehr, PhD
Anxious PeopleFredrik Backman
Walk The WireDavid Baldacci
You Ought To Do A Story About MeTed Jackson
And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer And LongerFredrik Backman
The Friends We KeepJane Green
The Buddhist on Death RowDavid Sheff
The Lost and Found BookshopSusan Wiggs
The Spirit’s Way HomeNatalie Fowler
Finding Freedom: Writings From Death RowJarvis Jay Masters
Britt-Marie Was HereFredrik Backman
Prozac NationElizabeth Wurtzel
No Time Like The Future: An Optimist Considers MortalityMichael J. Fox
So You Want To Talk About RaceIjeoma Oluo

Mother Earth Gets Her Day

In 1970, twenty million Americans came together on behalf of the planet, creating a day that pays homage to Mother Earth. Fifty years later, Earth Day is recognized around the world as its network has grown to 75,000 partners in 190 countries. There are many ways we can honor and respect our planet, not just today, but every day. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Use energy-efficient appliances
  • Purchase a fuel-efficient car
  • Vow to have at least one “no drive” day per week
  • Conserve energy and water: Turn off lights when not in use, be mindful of thermostat settings, limit your time in the shower, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth

Many years ago, the Prophet Muhammad said, “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.”

Mohamed Irshad was reminded of these words as the world came to a virtual standstill in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said this on April 1, 2020:

We fell asleep in one world and woke up in another.

Suddenly Disney is out of magic,
Paris is no longer romantic,
New York doesn’t stand up anymore,
the Chinese wall is no longer a fortress, and Mecca is empty.

Hugs & kisses suddenly become weapons, and not visiting parents & friends becomes an act of love.

Suddenly you realize that power, beauty & money are worthless, and can’t get you the oxygen you’re fighting for.

The world continues its life and it is beautiful. It only puts humans in cages.

I think it’s sending us a message:

“You are not necessary. The air, earth, water and sky without you are fine. When you come back, remember that you are my guests. Not my masters.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun Day

It’s been a month of Sundays since COVID-19 began its swift spread across our land. Some of us are growing anxious, weary, even stir-crazy. Take a moment today to restart, re-energize, even reinvent yourself. As beings of light, the easiest way to do this is to spend time outdoors, soaking up the sun (and some vitamin D, too.)

If it’s cloudy or rainy where you live, bring the sun inside as you sing along with The Beatles. And yes, it’s ALL RIGHT.

“Here Comes The Sun”

 

 

 

 

What Will You Do With Fourteen Days?

The carrot has been dangled. May 1st has become the targeted date for many businesses to reopen. That’s fourteen days from today. Are you ready? And by ready, I don’t mean ready to head to your place of employment, get a haircut or mani-pedi, or dine-in at your favorite restaurant. I mean, did you milk the global pause for all it’s worth?

Did you spend quality time with family? Did you engage with nature? Did you find creative ways to work from home and/or help kids with schoolwork? Did you check off items on a to-do list? Did you learn something about yourself that you never knew? Are you making a concerted effort to change—change the way you think, change the way you speak, change the way you live, change the way you engage with your community?

If restrictions do lessen in the coming days, I hope you’ll take time now to reflect on all that’s occurred, not only in the world at-large, but also within your own neck of the woods. Jot down a list of things you’re grateful for, and then make another list of things you intend to implement or do differently in the coming weeks and months. Post these lists where you can see them and refer to them daily. We are humans, creatures of habit, resisters of change. We’ll need reminders so as not to fall back into old habits and routines.

I’ll end with a little bit of a nudge from Karen Lamb:

” A year from now you will wish you had started today.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jump

For the past several weeks, I’ve been using the terms awakening, change, growth, lesson, opportunity, shift, timeout, and wake-up call when describing our current global situation. Yesterday while texting with kindred spirit, Rita, a new word was interjected into the mix—Jump.

Jump is a verb or action word, and we need action now more than ever. Merriam-Webster has two very relevant definitions:

-to start out or forward-BEGIN   I would suggest that we are at the threshold of a new beginning, one with infinite possibilities for change and growth. And so, we must JUMP into it, which leads to a second definition:

-to spring into the air-LEAP   This is our “leap of faith,” which implies doing something or believing in something that is uncertain, but we do it anyway.

Let us remember we are jumping into an opportunity to rewrite our course, and we must trust that this edit is for our greater good. Ray Bradbury says it this way:

“Sometimes you just have to jump out the window and grow wings on the way down.”

 

 

Time: A Wish Granted?

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of chatting with my friend and spiritual mentor, Sandra. During our conversation, we exchanged our thoughts and perceptions about the current global situation, including how feelings, words, and actions create our reality.

We live harried lives, always running from one thing to another—work, school, extra-curricular activities, appointments, errands, caring for aging parents, yada, yada, yada. When discussing our incessant “busyness,” Sandra and I noted how people often bemoan a lack of time. We mutter things like, “I wish I had more time,” or “I’ll do _______ when I have more time.” Take comments like these, multiply them by the masses of humans who’ve uttered them, and BAM! here we are. The Universe is perfect, always listening and doing its best to answer our pleas and prayers. Our wish for time has been granted.

There are at least two significant observations and/or lessons here. The first is be careful what you wish for, and the second is best said using the words of William Shakespeare:

Make use of time, let not advantage slip.”

 

What She Said

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Today’s quote comes from Helen Keller. Ms. Keller, left deaf and blind from an illness contracted when she was nineteen months old, became a vocal champion for many issues still being discussed and debated today—woman’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, and antimilitarism.

Fifty-plus years after her passing, Helen’s message has been condensed to a hashtag—AloneTogether. This is all well and good, however, remember words are just words unless followed by action. 

I think AloneTogether is our new global mantra. Believe it. Recite it. Practice it. Now and always.

 

 

 

 

What He Said

I can lose all sense of time Googling inspirational and motivational quotes. I enjoy this process almost as much as contemplating their meaning. I conducted a search using terms I believe are relevant to our current global situation: awakening, change, growth, hope, optimism, and shift. I scanned a few hundred quotes before settling on one by the late Mahatma Gandhi. By the way, the term “mahatma” means great soul. And he is.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

 

 

What Have You Been Up To?

Week four of the COVID-19 lockdown is upon us. I assume many, if not most of us, have implemented and adjusted to new routines—working from home, homeschooling children, limiting errands to what’s essential, physical distancing, and more. I’d also like to believe that we’ve taken this gift of time to reinvent ourselves and our priorities, all while remaining positive as we navigate the shift that’s taking place.

I’d love to hear the ways you’ve made use of this time, as well as your plans to maintain these changes in the coming days, weeks, and months. Here’s a few things I’ve done or am doing with this newfound opportunity:

  • I tidied up my recipe binder, and in the process unearthed several old favorites. I also husband-tested several new dishes, including main courses and desserts.
  • After devouring my stash of library books, I surrendered to technology and am now reading on my iPad. A huge thank you to my local library for providing sites where books can be downloaded for free.
  • Under the heading, “Learn Something New,” I decided to expand my knowledge of astrology and numerology. I’m doing this via YouTube videos, books, and by connecting with websites suggested by like-minded friends.
  • As a way to spend time in nature, I walk daily, steering clear of fellow exercisers. I generally listen to music as I traverse the neighborhood, or catch-up with friends via cell phone.
  • I’ve decided to start composting kitchen and yard waste and am scouring the internet for information. I hope to purchase a bin in the near future. Yes, I’m excited about making my own dirt.
  • I charged the battery in my fancy schmancy digital camera and intend to get behind the lens this week. It’s likely I’ll snap images of my two favorite subjects—cows and trees. Yep, I’m weird.

Let me know what you’ve been up to. By sharing our stories, we stay connected, motivated, and uplifted. Just one of many gems embedded in this time of awakening, enlightenment, and rebirth.