Let’s Do A Book Review

20150930_201259

I love to read. My entire childhood I was a classic bookworm. I’d spend summers dragging home bags of books getting lost in them. During school if there was free time in class, my face was in a book.

As an adult with kids during the summer I still loved heading off to the library this time looking for more adult books. I’d still drag as many home as the kids. The danger of getting in good ones was just camping out and losing track of time…. sigh… when you’re an adult there are adult tasks to be dealt with so I’d have to drop the book and scurry around being productive and then dash back to what I was reading.

And oh joy! If I stumbled in a series I loved. I was covered for the summer lost in the stories the author had crafted.

I also challenged myself to look for interesting biographies on people… there are some wild, cool people in this world, do you know that ?

One of my fav’s was called “Fearless” about Adam Brown a Navy Seal on Seal Team 6. I will never, ever hear them mentioned again without an amazing respect of what they have to go through to be a part of such an elite, superhuman group.

Given my love for reading it’s no wonder I just love words, right ?? haha 😉

So I just finished off a book my son gave me for my birthday. I finally grabbed it and got started reading. He thought I’d like it cause of my interest in health/fitness etc.

Based on the title, I loosely thought it was a humorous fiction book.

Actually, it turned out to be a memoir of one woman’s journey and battle with body image and self esteem. Proclaimed fat by her mother at age 11 ( when her first diet started) she chronicles a life of negative body image, constant diets ( and failing them) painful moments through school, constant struggles and self loathing, and ultimately, (yay, figuring it all out)

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I’ve had times in my life dealing with diets (yuck), wanting to lose some weight, having the “skinny” clothes, the “fatter” clothes, and the ongoing goal to get back to the “skinny” clothes ( yay, I don’t even deal with that anymore 🙂 I never felt like I had bad self esteem or wasn’t comfortable in my skin. I did know when I needed to drop a few pounds and it bugged me. Bugged me that I was at that point and bugged me ’cause it felt like it would take eternity to get it done. This was such an interesting and eye opening perspective to me helping me understand the painful and difficult struggles so many go through in a battle to be “thin”, when really, that isn’t the source of happiness nor as it turns out, is it the ultimate goal.

All that to say, reading the book, my heart broke for a young child who was already under fire by her mom for being in her words “5 lbs over weight” and how it affected her childhood years and then into adulthood. Diets, dieting, and the constant cycle became a ongoing way of life for the author.

It is well written, humorous in a way that I enjoy, straightforward and brutally honest.

The book is an easy read and I highly recommend it if you’ve struggled with body image/ self-esteem… or know someone who has. The author shares her struggles, but also her victories and shares how she overcame the constant diet rat trap and her body insecurities, to being comfortable in her own skin. It does have a nice happy ending 😛

I also enjoyed the “reading group” section at the end with various Q&A’s, and an overall “wrap up” since the book published.

Tell me… have you read anything fun or interesting lately? What types of books do you enjoy ?

Celebrating Coffee

coffee words

This is a day late…but whatever… I never like following the rules anyway.

Yesterday was National Coffee Day so I’m going to give a nod to it and say of all beverages… doesn’t it deserve a special day of recognition ?

Those who know me, know and understand it helps operate me on a daily basis, hopefully on a high level 😉

I’m an easy to please no frills kinda girl with my coffee….I like it bold and black.

My day starts early and I am a happy camper to have a coffee pot that can be set to brew coffee before I roll outta bed. I mean really, to slowly be coming to life and smell it waiting for you ?

Ah… one of the 7th wonders of the world… glorious….

Stumble out… beady eyed… messy hair… find fav big cup… pour…. breath in…. and you begin to be infused with….life….

coffee victory

Once it brings me to life and my day is going, it is almost inevitable that later morning I’ll be making a stop at my fav coffee shop, Starbucks.

Now if you have issues with “the corporation” over something… don’t blow me up…. I do enjoy the coffee and since I drink it black it’s the 1) cheapest and 2) zero calories to the desserts in a cup they serve up as drinks.

I’ve been hanging out there for years now. And there is something ….soothing on a day that’s yucky and cold… or has been stressful… and grabbing a cup… and breathing it in… and all the sudden… the world feels upright 😉

But I figured out a long time ago as much as I love the coffee, I love the people who are there.

You may or may not have figured this out from me, but I’m very… social. That’s a gift, right ? haha

So over the years I’ve built friendships with people who work there and people who hang out there… the regulars if you wanna call them that… I guess I am too. One of the young girls who worked there recently caught me on her last day and hugged me and said…

“you’re our favorite regular here…”  aww that made me happy =)

Ok… the baristas. Hard working, most of them youngish, often in school, and full of ideas and new dreams. I love getting to know them and make a point to connect with the new ones who show up. I love their energy and for some reason they think I’m cool. It’s a win/win thing.

I’ve had times of hanging out with some of them and having some really good conversations. Or listening to their struggles or whatever they were currently up to.  They are often hard worked and sadly, can be treated badly by people. I try and bring them homemade treats at random times to let them know I appreciate them and their work. They know what I like and often have it waiting for me by the time I get in the door. I often hang out and read or write and they just let me make myself at home.

20130214_085058
And when they love you they write on your cup =)

The regulars. The ones who are there predictably at the same times, in the same places. There are a group of guys who hold down one corner and they always are wanting to know about my running and what’s going on athletically. One gives me weather reports when I tell him my run days. Another is an older man who could be my dads age. He want to know if I’m over my running injury yet, or if I ran or cycled that morning. He was the one who kept asking me and encouraging me when I had confided in him I was toying with a 50K race earlier this year. He told me he was proud of me when I finally signed up. He is a sweet man who’s wife passed away a couple years ago. The entire place has kinda claimed him as “family”.

One older man has been a runner for years and has done countless marathons. I met him before I ran my first one and I shamelessly picked his brain for training ideas. None of them seem phased when I come cruising in my athletic clothes, no make up and sweaty from a long run. Many times they will offer to buy my coffee.  Several of them think I’m crazy for doing what I do… but they admire me for it.

They all make an interesting group of individuals. Of course there are the friends I know and run into while I’m there OR my favorite, a total stranger that I can have an interesting conversation with.

No… I didn’t listen to my mommy when she said not to talk to strangers 😉

My favorite place is to be on the patio on a perfect day, reading or writing, and watching the world go by. It’s my favorite escape activity…. all the while enjoying coffee too….

I mean, is there a time when coffee isn’t a perfect accessory to daily activities ?

So, here’s to the designated coffee day, although I personally embrace and celebrate it each day 😉

20150215_195819
This is my kinda coffee cup….

What about you ? Are you a coffee drinker? If so, do you have habits or rituals you do with it ?

Things My Mom Taught Me

My mom passed away last year in the early morning hours of April 24, 2014. I won’t ever forget the day she quietly stepped out of this world as it was also my daughters 16th birthday.

I miss her.

I miss her sometimes in ways that crush my chest and leave me feeling breathless. There are moments I still can’t believe she isn’t with me. Grief is a weird animal and yet, another blog I have yet to write on. I think perhaps, in a way, I’m still kind of afraid to sit down and write about it. I don’t like pain but I also understand there is healing in pain too.

Ah well dear reader in another moment I will feel up to tackling that topic because I know there isn’t a person on this big planet who won’t walk through the avenue of grief at some point in time.

But for now… for this post… I’m reflecting on things my Mom taught me. Maybe in a way, some type of tribute to her for what she invested into me and my life.

20140428_151052
Circa…. mid teen’s…….

Her first born and only daughter ( my brother would come along 15 months later) we shared a close bond and enjoyed many similar things. She was always proud of me and supported me in everything I did. I can’t tell you the times I’d show up at the hospital and some member of the hospital staff  (whom I’d never met) would see me and say… “you’re that marathon runner, aren’t you?” My mom had pics of me running hanging in her room and she took every opportunity to tell a new victim  person about my activities.

Marathon running ( and training) of course requires a tremendous amount of strength, physically and mentally. I learned a lot about being strong from my mom.  I am grateful in the last few months of her life I was able to recognize that strength in her in a new way and see how I had been blessed to have that as a part of my makeup. I don’t mean strong physically, although I am, I mean the deep strength of a woman who goes through difficulties and can stand under them. One who learns to move through the storm and grow in the process. A woman who chooses to keep seeing good and joy even in the face of hardship and difficulties.

A woman who makes a choice to fight back and not curl up and die. Strength. My mom embodied that and I’m grateful to be molded in a similar way.

Moving into fall and the approaching holidays makes me miss her more acutely ( I encountered this last year) the changing of seasons and upcoming festivities reminds me how much she loved and embraced all activities from now through New Years.

I’ve missed her enthusiasm and planning of dinners and activities. The plotting of menus. The brainstorming over gift ideas. She approached the “holiday season” with a childlike enthusiasm.

So I’ll start with this… she put a love in me for all things holiday. With the first crisp of fall air pumpkins, scarecrows and her homemade pumpkin bread showed up. Thanksgiving was always accompanied with some new recipe she wanted to try and her “gifting” was to deliver pies to suit every tastes for each person who would be there.  When I say they dragged like, 12 homemade pies over to my home, I’m not exaggerating. Last year her gifting was sorely missed. I bake but don’t put the spread of pies out like she loved to do.

Christmas? Oh my goodness. It was a time to bless not only her family, but anyone in need she could find. Christmas was (is) about giving, sharing and family. She baked goodies to share with everyone she had connections with. Our home was always decked out ( no wonder I’ve grown up and my home is always all dressed up. Imagine my shock when I learned not everyone went through such effort to celebrate)

Special cookies. Stockings gently used from years of being hung with care. The anticipation of Santa’s arrival.  Putting cookies out. Late night Christmas eve service. The picking of just the “perfect” tree. ( to this day… I want a big one. I have 12ft ceilings so why not ??) The lights. Evergreen. The Nativity set carefully arranged honoring Christ’s birth. The old cardboard village with the ( lead!)  Barclay Santa and skaters nestled around it (this is my FAVORITE Christmas display which I’ll share in another post) Every area with something tucked into it.

20150927_192826
Mom and I our last Christmas together December 2013

My kids have grown up loving it and their friends have viewed it as going to a Christmas shop at times 😉 It makes the work all worth while. There’s something magical…. and that is the thing I guess my mom ( and grandmother) gave to me and I’m glad to give it to others.

I do so many similar things… traditions. Traditions that now my grown children want to do… there is something satisfying in that. Traditions involve family and a sharing of events that have been passed along from each generation.

She taught me how to invest into my family, my husband, to cook, bake, sew, keep a home, artfully arrange flowers, and make beautiful things. To be a cheerleader and encourager. I learned a Mom keeps things spinning.

20140428_150911
My wedding, 31 years ago. Can I mention, she made my amazing dress? And did my flowers ?

Random things were meant to be celebrated. A good report card? It was Friday? Nailed a new job ? Successful on a test or something challenging? Whatever… there were simple moments that were worth something celebratory.

She modeled loving sacrificially in marriage. She went through many difficult things with my dad, one of the biggest was his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s a few years ago. She would share some things with me about dealing with him but as a mom, I know, sheltered me. Since I’ve had the responsibility of caring for him in this last year I see some of what she dealt with and feel bad I didn’t really understand to offer her more support in the difficulty of what she dealt with.

She taught me as a mom, that a mothers love is bottomless and that no matter what she was always there. Even in her last days she was concerned about some difficulties I was currently going through and insisted I talk about it. I miss being able to share those things with her.

She taught me how to love and be loving. How to give freely and from whatever I have.  To be generous and selfless. To be kind to others.  I learned to be content with what I have because if you aren’t content, then you are ungrateful for all you do have. I learned about working hard for what you want and not having an attitude of expecting to have things handed to you.

She told me about God and faithfully took me to church. She put me in a place that in the years to come would allow me to move into my own relationship with Him. She taught me how to love and trust Him.

She taught me to embrace life and that every single day we are given is a pure, sweet gift. She encouraged me to see the beauty of the world around me and always pointed me to the fact we had a Creator who had fashioned all we see.

On being a woman… she taught me things that I value so much now….

How to be a lady. To act classy. To stand up straight ( in my …younger years… I hadn’t embraced or become confident in my 6’0 frame and sometimes tended to…slouch) I’m grateful I learned how to carry myself with confidence thanks to her “encouragement” 😉

She taught me to be proud of myself and my accomplishments and to always keep trying no matter what.

I was raised to be polite, courteous, and respectful.  On the flip side, I was also taught to stand up for myself and take nothing off of anyone.

I learned how to use makeup so I enhanced my looks without ( in her words) “looking like a clown”. I was schooled in the wearing of high heels so I didn’t “clop along like a girl who fell off a tractor” haha (My mom always had some lovely visual illustration to use)

let me tell you… today….I can rock a pair of high heels like no ones business… thanks mom…..

She often reminded me that being a woman, wife, and mother required some time to step away for myself and that was an ok thing to do.

20140428_213809
A Sunday afternoon hanging out. Me most definitely pre-transformation days…

My mom was an amazing,strong, passionate, loving, generous and giving woman. I’m so blessed to have had her and her influence for almost 50 years of my life.

I do miss her tremendously. However, if somehow, I can carry on and share the things she taught me, her life will continue to live on as well.

And hey… if you still have your mom.. right now… call and tell her you love her and thank her for what she’s taught you.

Blogging, Words, And All Things Writing

words

I read in an article a month or so back how women use more words in their day than men. There were varying “tests” done,  but overall showing females did use more words in a day than the guys.

Ok, I might buy into that, after all, I rarely find myself without words 😛

In fact one day I decided I’d try and text and talk like a guy… using less words… did I say a day ? I barely made it through a couple hours haha

Words. I love words.

They abound in my head, ideas leaping around and thoughts clamoring for attention and to be set free. Sometimes those words and ideas bug me during the night. Other times I’m out doing my daily schlepping through life and I get this great idea and I’m digging for something to throw it down on lest I forget later ( hey, I’m older! My brain is often scratched out on a legal note pad 😉 what’s worse is if I’m out running… I almost turn the idea into a chant to keep it in my head. Truly, it’s when I do some of my best thinking.

I get inspired from so much of the world I operate in.

People. Situations. Observations. My own thoughts ( scary, I know) Sometimes, even laughing at myself 😛

Words paint wonderful pictures. I love how you can take an idea in your head and shape it into something that people can see and “get”.  Or when you have something you feel passionately about, write it, and it resonates with the people who read it.

Nothing…is more satisfying.

So imagine my frustration? Perplexity ? Shock ? When I contemplated a few weeks ago what I was going to write on and…..

Silence. Crickets chirping. Nothing. It was hard to even come up with ideas. I didn’t come up with ideas.

Well, let’s not overlook my son was getting married (that happened Sept 12 and you’ll be hearing about that 😉 and really my mind was on that constantly. Not to mention juggling some family things and life well, I guess it just left me feeling, blank.

I was semi-horrified. How does this happen?

I’m a woman. I’m loaded with words. A plethora of words on any given day. What. the. heck.

So I did what any smart woman would do. I hit up a friend of mine who is a published author ( her third book just released… look her up… Jolene Navarro)

Anyway, I asked her as an author if she ever got “empty” “wordless” left holding the bag basically. She laughed and assured me she was currently 5,000 words behind in her writing.

Ah, sympathy. Just what I needed.

I told her I loved writing on health, fitness and of course all things running, but I had all these other ideas tripping through my head and those words had stories to tell, because they’re the stories of …. life……

She nicely reminded me that my life is what makes me real and 3-D ( I kinda like that illustration) and not just flat and focused on one area. Sharing life and things that happen make me real and people can relate to that.

Ok… that all sounded good.

She then put me on mission to write a “100 idea” list of all kinds of things about me… likes, interests, thoughts, passions, whatever.

I knocked out 50 at one sitting. I tackled more today. It’s getting harder… much harder.

Almost like… “hey, I’m Cathie, I like peanut butter” haha I’m not giving up though…..

The idea being if I hit a spell where nothing is firing in my head, I go to my list to (hopefully) propel  insanity  creativity 😉

So I guess I’m telling you all of this to say I will be bringing you “life” things from time to time. Sometimes hard topics. Others whimsical or funny. Maybe thought provoking. If I’m successful, entertaining or inspiring.

Not for one second is my focus of bringing you health, fitness and all things running on the backburner, I just want you to experience ALL of life with me.

word cloud

It’s a heck of a journey.

Get on with me and let’s go for a crazy ride.