The Beautiful American is beautifully written

BeautifulAmericanSometimes I wonder if I was alive during World War II.  It’s a time that fascinates me and feels familiar.  It’s a time of horrific tragedy and a time of bravery.  It’s also a time when a lot of young Americans relocated to Paris to follow their artistic dreams.  They were called expats.

The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin is about Nora Tours, a young woman from Poughkeepsie, NY who has fallen in love with the high school quarterback who has a love of photography.  After high school the couple heads to New York so Jamie can try and get a showing in a gallery.  After failing, they head to London for the same purpose.  After failing there, they head to Paris where it should be easy because that’s where true art is happening.

After trying and being unsuccessful at securing a gallery showing in Paris, Nora and Jamie are almost broke and ready to head back to Poughkeepsie when Nora runs into Lee Miller, a childhood playmate who is now an international model and aspiring photographer.  Nora and Jamie get sucked into Lee’s life and meet very interesting people like Picasso.

The book starts out with Nora searching for her 16-year-old daughter Dahlia who has disappeared and thinks Dahlia is retracing her and Jamie’s path from London to Paris and could possibly be in London.  This is where she runs into Lee outside of Harrod’s after not seeing each other for almost 17 years.  Lee invites Nora to spend the weekend at her country farm where Picasso will also be a guest.  The book goes back and forth between Lee and Nora’s childhood and their weekend visit on the farm. Then it brings us to Paris and France where the majority of the book is centered.

This is a beautifully written book that takes the reader to a time when Europe is on the verge of World War II to just after the war.  I found Nora more of a backseat character as in the fact she isn’t a strong personality.  She kind of just goes along for the ride as Lee is an out there personality who doesn’t care about other people’s feelings, she just live life the way she wants to live.  Once Nora leaves Paris, her character gets a little stronger.  It’s nice to see her evolve a little bit.  There are some parallels between Lee and Dahlia.  I don’t like to give too much away so I will say, this book will pull you into Paris and into the lives of these people.

Here is the description from the back of the book: As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals…and break years of silence to forge a meaningful connection as women who have shared the best and the worst that life can offer?

A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional women.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat.

14 Questions for 2014

Every day you wake up, it’s a new day, a blank slate, a new page of your life.  A chance to make each day a better day than the day before.  It’s a time to shift your focus to the positive and to forget about the negative.

It’s the same for a new year.  If 2013 just wasn’t your year, forget about it and write a new chapter to your life in 2014.  To help you get started, I decided to ask 14 questions for 2014.  Fourteen questions to ponder as you think about what could happen this year and what you might want to accomplish.  There are many more questions I could ask, but these are just a starting point.

1. What do you love doing that you aren’t doing now?  Are you doing what you believe in or just settling?
What is your dream job?  Do you wake up in the morning looking forward to starting the day?  Do you look forward to going to work?  If not, then find your passion and go for it.  If you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop.  I like being creative and in 2013 I took the initiative and created my own position at work.  Now I’m doing what I love for a nonprofit that I love and work with people I enjoy being around.  I’m living my passion.

2. Where do you want to live?Paris
Are you living in the house, city or country you want to be in?  Have you thought about taking the leap and looking for a job in your dream location?  Why not?  I have to admit, I would love to live in another country.  My top places are England – my second family lives there and I would love to live near them; Australia – love the year round great weather; Tuscany, Italy – I’ve always wanted to live here after seeing Under the Tuscan Sun and Paris – I don’t speak French and I’m not very good with different languages, but I LOVE this city.  All different locations and different reasons for each of them.  I wish I could at least spend a few years in each location.

3. What adventures do you want to have?Skydiving
Make a list of things you want to do that you might think are impossible to complete.  Something you have always dreamed about trying but people have said “are you nuts.”  Break down the steps to enjoy the adventure.  What steps would it take to scuba dive, jump out of a plane, ride the tallest rollercoaster or even camp for the first time.  Whatever the adventure may be, breaking it down into smaller steps makes it easier to achieve.

4. How do you manage your time? What works for you?
Time management is really important because if a president can get a workout in, you can too.  I’ve used a Franklin Planner for over 23 years and I also put appointments in my phone and on several different calendars.  I also keep a To Do List and prioritize importance with A, B and C.  I read a book once that said tackle the frogs first because if you go after the tadpoles first, you will never get the big important projects done.  So don’t procrastinate, eat the big frogs first.

5. What do you want to accomplish in your life?
This one kind of goes along with #3.  This could be a new job, a home improvement project or getting the degree you’ve been putting off.  Again, break down the steps to accomplish your goal and make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

6. What makes you come alive?Lily-Door
What makes you happy, what makes you smile?  Those are the things that make you come alive.  It could be the first steps of your child, the unconditional love from your dog or watching a flower bloom.  It could be something at work or going a little bit further in your workout.  Find what ignites you and makes you smile.  Find your passion.

7. How can you express yourself creatively?
I know, not everyone thinks they are creative.  But you would be surprised the creativity that lives inside you.  Do you know how to pick great colors for the walls of your house?  Are you good with numbers?  I think being creative comes in all different forms.  I hope I’m creative when I write social media posts for work.  I hope I’m getting more creative with my writing.

8. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?love-letter-vectorjunky
Last year, I was at a baby shower and we were asked to write a letter to the baby as if she was 16.  What advice would we give her?  I wrote a very long letter.  It might make her roll her 16-year-old eyes or laugh at what I wrote, but it was everything I wished someone had said to me when I was 16.  What would you say?

9. What type of people inspire you and make you come alive?
Who motivates you to be a better person?  Make sure you surround yourself with positive people.  Our nonprofit holds a luncheon that is so inspiring every time I listen to the winners’ stories, I want to be a better person.  Energy vampires or negative people, whoever they may be, will really suck the energy out of you.  Believe me, I’ve felt exhausted after talking with certain people.  They have slowly been eliminated from my life.  Eliminate the negative people in your life.

10. What ignites your brain?
With me, a good book where the characters and their lives sit with me for weeks and sometimes months after I’m done, that ignites me.  A great conversation with friends, a challenging equation, solving an issue at work or listening to an inspiring person speak.  There are many different things that could do it.

11. What physical exercise do you enjoy that makes you sweat and enjoy?
Find something that you enjoy doing that will get your heart rate up and make you sweat.  Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it, you won’t stick with it, you won’t make it a habit.  Again, find something you love doing.

12. What does your body need in order to function at its best?Vibrant Produce
Think about it.  Food is pleasurable to eat, but if you think of it as fuel, you might think of it differently.  Would you put sugar in your gas tank of your car?  Then don’t dump it in your body.  Make sure you have plenty of the right fuel.  If you need a little bit of sugar in your engine, make sure it’s only a small additive and not a tank full.

13. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
I know I would have traveled more.  I love the enjoyment of seeing different cultures and different landscapes.  I would also probably take the leap of faith and tried living in one of my dream locations.  Think about what you would do differently.  If it’s not so far out there, then why not go for it?

14. What do you want to be remembered by?
I’ve heard the phrase over and over, it’s not what you do but how you make people feel.  I hope when I’m gone that people remember how they felt being around me.  I hope it’s a positive feeling and not a “thank God she’s gone” feeling.  Make sure people remember you in a positive light.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Introverts and Extroverts are different kinds of people

extrovert-vs-introvert-640x1071I’ve been shy all my life.  Sometimes painfully shy.  When I was in kindergarten, some of the kids had made fun of me so I quit talking.  I had private sessions with the principal to see if I was mentally handicapped.  He said there was nothing wrong with me since I would talk to him and my Mom didn’t find out about any of this until she went to Parent Teacher Conferences.  She thought everything was fine since I couldn’t shut up after school.

In our society, being shy has a negative connotation.  That person can be perceived as having low intelligence, not having any ideas during a meeting, anti-social and dull.  But that is so off the mark.  Many scientists, inventors, creative people, authors and even entertainers are shy.  Well, the correct word is introvert.  Think Einstein, Ben Franklin, Bill Gates, and even Barbra Streisand who is so shy she has debilitating stage fright and has to fake being an extrovert to get on stage and perform.

Introverts are the ones who don’t blurt out every thought that pops into their heads.  They are the ones that sit back, observe and take their time formulating their answers.  They are the quiet ones in meetings.  Even though they are quiet, extroverts need to listen and not talk over them.  Surprisingly, introverts are extroverts on social media and in their writing.  Must be why I handle the social media at work and I love to write.  I like sharing my thoughts on paper.

Extrovert vs. Introvert

Extrovert vs. Introvert

Here is a good example of extroverts talking over introverts.  At my last job, I used to go to lunch at noon and sat with a bunch of people.  Whenever I talked and I mean 98% of the time, people would start talking over me as if I had never talked like what I had to say had no meaning and what they had to say was the most important thing and everyone needed to listen.  I soon realized it was draining having lunch with all those extroverts (not knowing they were extroverts, I just thought they were rude) so I switched to 1 p.m. where I could quietly read and avoid the extroverts.  To be honest, it ticked me off how they talked over me.  I have since seen other extroverts talk over introverts, even in a quiet setting, so I engage the introvert and ask them to continue telling their story.

I recently read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain and it made me realize just how much of an introvert I am.  For those of you, who are extroverts, let me give you a little insight on what it is to be an introvert.  Most introverts, including myself, are not comfortable talking in front of big crowds, we don’t like the spotlight and we don’t like to make small talk.  The thought of going to a party or social event where we really don’t know anyone is almost paralyzing.  Yes, I said paralyzing.  Recently, I was invited to a wedding reception for a former co-worker.  I have to go alone as my husband and daughter can’t go.  The thought of going by myself makes my heart race, my anxiety level go up and makes me not want to go.  But I will, because I will actually know several attendees.  But still, I won’t be comfortable, yet I will soldier through the event.

images-1I’m also registered for a day-long conference in June where I will learn information on a program we use at work.  There is a social afterwards.  Will I stay?  Of course not.  After sitting in a room all day with strangers, I will be exhausted and the thought of trying to make small talk with the strangers makes my stress level go up.  Do I register for classes or sessions that mention will breakout into small groups or will do role playing?  No way.  Just typing that sentence makes my heart race.

I also learned from the book that most introverts get worn out after a day of stimulation and need to recharge after work or school before they can socialize further.  I always wondered why I am exhausted at the end of the day when I sit behind a computer all day.  It’s because my desk is in the center of the room where I have constant interruptions and interactions with staff and guests.  It makes total sense now why I just want to go home and put my pajamas on and read a book instead of running errands where there will be crowds or going to a big event or social/happy hour.  I have found a way to curb some of the exhaustion my day could bring by not eating in the kitchen with the rest of the staff.  I have created a quiet space in an empty office with a comfortable chair where I can sit quietly and read.  It’s where I “recharge” for the afternoon.

Now I’m sure all the extroverts are thinking ‘what is wrong with you?  Why don’t you want to be more social?’  Of course they won’t get it.  They like to be around people.  I do enjoy my friends, but I like the intimate gatherings in my house or going to happy hour with one to two friends.  What I don’t enjoy is when our office has an open house and I’m supposed to make small talk.  I would rather go in the kitchen and clean then stand around and talk to strangers.

thIntroverts and extroverts need to understand each other in order to treat the other person within their comfort zone.  For example, I have several extrovert friends and my husband is an extrovert.  They like to karaoke and I like to watch them karaoke.  One night, one of my extrovert friends decided to sign me up to sing without me knowing it.  When they called my name I said no.  She tried to get me on the stage.  What did I do?  I walked out of the bar and did not return.  This is a good example of how an extrovert needs to respect an introvert and not put them into a situation they don’t want to be in.  I was perfectly happy watching the extroverts with their fun, and it made me happy to sit in the back booth and sing along from there, while they enjoyed the spotlight.  What the extrovert did, was damage our relationship by disrespecting my wishes.  She KNEW I wasn’t comfortable with going up there and singing in front of people, yet she disregarded my wishes.

The book talks about how sometimes introverts need to fake being an extrovert to get through situations.  I work at a Sports Commission where we host many events.  Yes, when we have big events, I interact with thousands of people.  I know what needs to be done and I do it.  Do I like being around all those people?  No.  Do I enjoy the events?  Yes.  Am I exhausted after an event?  You bet.  Most times after an event, I spend the day so drained I feel like my iPhone when it’s on 4% battery life.  After our marathon I usually go to bed and sleep for several hours.

Recently, I’ve been describing myself as a hermit.  When I say this people look at me Woman in Hammock with Bookfunny and laugh.  Those have to be the extroverts.  I have many weekends where I get home from work at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday and I don’t leave my house again until 8 a.m. on Monday.  That’s right I DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE FOR TWO DAYS.  No, I’m not a recluse, although I could be considered one.  I just like quiet space where I can read and watch TV and spend time with my family.  I don’t need to be out in crowds to get my enjoyment.  In fact, being on a private island with access to Netflix, books, fresh food and a hammock sounds like heaven to me.  I don’t even care if anyone is on the island with me, just give me a quiet location and I will be happy.  Yes, that truly would be my happy place.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Take the unofficial quiz below and answer the questions with either true or false.  The more true you have the more introverted you are.  The more false the more extroverted you are.  I answered 17 of the 20 questions with true, that is how introverted I am:

  1. I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.
  2. I often prefer to express myself in writing.
  3. I enjoy solitude.
  4. I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame, and status.
  5. I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.
  6. People tell me that I’m a good listener.
  7. I’m not a big risk-taker.
  8. I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions.
  9. I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.
  10. People describe me as “soft-spoken” or “mellow.”
  11. I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished.
  12. I dislike conflict.
  13. I do my best work on my own.
  14. I tend to think before I speak.
  15. I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself.
  16. I often let calls go through to voice mail.
  17. If I had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.
  18. I don’t enjoy multitasking.
  19. I can concentrate easily.
  20. In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.

The Losing Season and Pat Conroy steal a little piece of my heart

1966-67 Citadel Bulldogs. Front row: John DeBrosse, Pat Conroy, Jim Halprin, T.E. Hooper. Back row: Doug Bridges, Greg Connor, Brian Kennedy, Dave Bornhorst, Dan Mohr, Al Kroboth, Bob Cauthen, Bill Zinsky.

1966-67 Citadel Bulldogs. Front row: John DeBrosse, Pat Conroy, Jim Halprin, T.E. Hooper. Back row: Doug Bridges, Greg Connor, Brian Kennedy, Dave Bornhorst, Dan Mohr, Al Kroboth, Bob Cauthen, Bill Zinsky.

There are few books that affect me when they are over.  Ones that make me sad and depressed because I will no longer be with the characters.  Ones that can break my heart so much that when I turn the last page, I end up crying or even sobbing because I have grown to love the characters and/or I wish the book wasn’t done.

This type of book sometimes sneaks up on me.  Usually it’s a book I think will be okay.  One that I might stumble upon and think ‘okay, this could be good.’  Recently I had a book that surprised me so much I almost felt a depression coming on when it was over.

My sister suggested I listen to audio books in the car since she has enjoyed it so much over the last 20 years.  I thought what the heck I will give it a try.  I’ve listened to a few that were okay, one I quit after the second CD because the reader was blah and the author was a little too obsessive for me about her dog.

Cadet Pat Conroy

Cadet Pat Conroy

Then a co-worker brought in a sack of audio books she thought I might enjoy.  Among those books was one by Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides and The Lords of Discipline.  Author and son of The Great Santini.  But this book isn’t fiction, although The Great Santini is about his Dad, this book is about Pat and his teammates of the 1966-67 Citadel basketball team.  My Losing Season is about Pat’s last year as point guard and captain of The Citadel Bulldogs and about his childhood with a strict and abusive father which defined him as a man.

When I say “Pat Conroy” in my head or out loud, I hear the voice of Jay O. Sanders who read the book.  Jay has a slightly southern accent that fits perfectly with the book.  While listening, I wondered how many times Jay read the book to know when to put feeling and passion into the dialog because he does a fantastic job.  When I see a college basketball player getting ready to shoot a ball, I have a feeling “Don’t shoot Conroy” will pop into my head once in a while as Pat’s coach constantly yelled this during that losing season.

Col. Don "The Great Santini" Conroy

Col. Don “The Great Santini” Conroy

Now granted, some people don’t like sports or some people can take it or leave it.  I work in sports and I love sports.  I’m not obsessed, but I enjoy a good game of basketball where the players play their hearts out and leave all of it on the court.  During the Bulldogs’ losing season, you felt the passion and love of the game; you felt just how hard they fought.  I found myself cheering for them even though the games were played back in 1966 and 1967.  I cried after Pat had the best game of his life and his Dad still called him a loser and shoved him up against a wall.

I cried and laughed while driving to and from work.  I sat in my car in the parking garage before work as I finished listening to the book, surprised by the afterward by the author himself (I should have read the cover closer).

His short speech would have brought me to my knees had I been standing.  It left me sobbing in the car, tears streaming down my face as I walked into work and got on the elevator.  When I went to return the audio book to my co-worker she saw I was crying and hugged me.  Then she said “keep it,” as she knew I would listen again and again.

Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy

I’m glad I decided to take a chance on this book.  I’m glad I listened to it during March Madness as the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship roared into town and I will listen to it every March Madness as Pat reminds me each time that you have to believe in yourself.  Not everyone will be affected by Pat’s story as I was, but that’s okay.  I’m just glad I got to experience the 1966-67 Citadel basketball team’s losing season and the young man of Pat Conroy.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Persistently Obsessed

While driving home from work the other day I had a light bulb moment. Upon reflection I think it was a dull glow my entire life but I just didn’t see the glow until now.

FuelSaverCard-ShopEarnSave-jpg-300x188It was a Wednesday and I remembered the weekly Hy Vee (Iowa based grocery store) advertisement would be waiting for me when I got home. I was thinking “oh goody, I can see how many items in the Fuel Saver program I want to purchase to reduce the cost at the pump.” Yes, I think I did say goody. This made me realize I have been obsessing about the program.

I have been thinking about going back to the store and picking up more Greek yogurt since we like it and I can earn another 10 cents at the pump. While I was contemplating stopping, I realized over the years I have obsessed about other things to the point I feel like it takes over all my thoughts and my life. Then I realized I have an obsessive personality.

I know everyone obsesses over things at one point in their lives. But looking back over my life, I have been obsessed with things to the point that after a while I don’t want to see it anymore. It can be little things like a song I could play on repeat for two hours straight, to reading book after book, which I never tire of doing.

Right now my obsession is the Hy Vee Fuel Saver program. Why am I obsessed? Because if you pay attention to what items earn you discounts on gas, you can save a ton at the pump. For example, my sister and her husband have figured out this program to the point of filling up three times in the last month to the max of 20 gallons each trip for a penny a gallon. That’s right; they purchased 20 gallons of gas for 20 cents. They haven’t purchased anything extra; they just pay attention to the ads.

block1So now I’m determined to get penny gallon gas. I’m pouring over the weekly ad, circling items I regularly buy. I had my pen out with the latest ad circling and debating over the items. When I was done, I figure I will add another 80 cents to $1.00 to my discount. Last week I saved 93 cents towards my next fill up.

But there are other things I’ve been obsessed over and suddenly lost interest. I used to make all kinds of counted cross stitch projects in my early 20s. I was good at it to the point people were purchasing finished products. I was organized with my craft. I had all the color skeins of yarn wrapped on little plastic disks and all in numeric order in a plastic carry case. I purchased extra so I would never run out. I also would buy pattern after pattern wanting to do them all. I could spend hours working on the designs and when I wasn’t working on a project, I was thinking about it, counting down the minutes when I could get back to it. I even attended a cross stitch convention where I met designers.

Then I stopped. Right in the middle of a Christmas project of a snowman on old looking cloth. For the life of me, I don’t remember why I stopped. Maybe it was my daughter becoming more active or maybe because I found a new craft.

IMG_0684I then got into Stampin’ Up! and making my own cards. I could sit for hours in the basement and make all these elaborate cards. Again, I wanted every stamp set in the catalog. In order to afford the stamp sets I signed up as a dealer and conducted workshops in people’s houses. If you knew me, you would be laughing right now. I’m not a sales person and I’m not someone who likes to be the center of attention. So I only made enough to get my discount.

After a few years I stopped stamping. One of the main reasons was getting breast cancer and the chemo did a number on my eyesight. Another reason was getting tired of sitting in a room by myself away from my family. Also, I realized the cost of my time and the materials was way more expensive than getting a box of 16 Christmas cards for $2.

One of my favorite albums.

One of my favorite albums.

There have been other obsessions. The normal childhood obsessions with an actor or singer, a certain pair of pants, and favorite TV show. I always thought I would marry Donny Osmond or one of the Keane brothers. Every night after school I HAD to watch Walter Cronkite, I loved the man and thought he was the best news anchor alive.

I became obsessed with everything British, I’m happy to say that will forever be with me. Right now I seem to be obsessed with historical fiction. That’s all I’ve been reading for the last two months to the point I think I could pass a world history test. That’s saying something since history bored me growing up.

With the age of social media I’ve been obsessed with Facebook. I created a profile in 2007 to check on potential college interns and totally forgot about the profile until two years later when I remembered my account. Then I had to be on it all the time. Looking at what friends were doing and posting. Now, I handle all the social media at work so the novelty of being on Facebook has faded.

One of my co-workers introduced me to Mafia Wars, a computer game on Facebook. I got so obsessed with this game I played it at breakfast, over lunch and at night. I could find myself spending hours at a time over the weekends trying to take care of all my tasks within the game.

mafiawars-logoI joined a MW women’s group and became Facebook friends with them so I could earn more items and help them. I couldn’t ignore the game because I had invested so much time and had gone so far in the game, I hated giving up everything I had accomplished. I even stressed about what I would miss when I was on a Caribbean cruise for a week. But then I realized I was obsessed, the game was taking over my life. So I went cold turkey. I sent items and weapons to the person in charge of gifts for the group.

I then said good-bye to the women in the group, I deleted the app from my profile and deleted my MW friends from my profile, which was 60% of my Facebook friends. It was like a cloud lifting and I was coming out of a fog. I had no clue how engrossed I was in the game and how much it had taken over my life. I have days when I want to get back in there and see what is going on then I take a breath and chase the thought away. The game made me realize I need to be careful when it comes to computer/video games as I do enjoy them and I can become narrowly focused on that one activity.

I’ve been obsessed with Pinterest off and on. I can go look at pictures for hours, several days in a row and then not log in again for a couple months. Then I go back for another round of searching.

Goodreads-logoThen there is Goodreads. I don’t think I will ever get tired of this website. Since I LOVE to read, I LOVE this website. It has brought me free books and contact with authors. Because of this site I have proofed the first 10 pages of an author’s soon-to-be-published second book and I have reviewed a young adult book for an author I really like. This website has slowly brought me into the publishing world and I couldn’t be happier.

I know I can become obsessive with products. Right now I can spend hours on They have the best iPhone covers. If I purchased all the ones I wanted, I would be constantly changing them. Right now I have a different one for each month. Obsession or just someone who likes to change things up with her mood?

Now that I’m aware of my obsessions, I can reign in the bad ones and embrace the good ones.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat.

The traditional wedding might not be the norm anymore


Our Wedding Party

My house is currently filled with a bridal party for my daughter’s best friend who is getting married in 2014.  They are watching Bridesmaids while my daughter makes cupcakes for them to consume then we are headed out to the engagement dinner.  Even though the wedding is more than a year out, they are having bridesmaid gatherings, shopping trips and there is a binder.  I don’t remember doing any of this.  In fact, my Mom pretty much planned everything since I had major surgery four weeks before the wedding.

Sure I had bridal showers, but I never had a bridesmaid trip or as they say in England ‘hen party.’  I didn’t have any ‘get drunk and can’t remember the evening’ party.  Last year, one of my co-workers had so many friends getting married she flew off to different destinations for a half dozen (felt like 30) bridal party weekends.  It was so bad people started asking where she was flying off to each weekend even if she wasn’t going anywhere.  I don’t remember any of my friends having a bridal party trip or even a wild party.

My maternal grandparents who were married for over 70 years.

My maternal grandparents who were married for over 70 years.

Maybe we were boring, or maybe you just didn’t do that sort of thing in the 80s.  Or maybe because I was from such a small town, it never crossed our minds to take a girls’ weekend trip.  Not even to the big city an hour away.  Oh wait, by then I WAS living in the big city.

I remember I really wanted my friend Doug to be one of my bridesmaids but you just didn’t have a guy stand up on the bride’s side.  I wanted to buck tradition but wasn’t brave enough to do it.  Now it’s no big deal.  This bridal party has a female standing up on the groom’s side and a male standing up on the bride’s side.  It’s more about who they want and not what tradition dictates.

Our traditional church ceremony.

Our traditional church ceremony.

A lot of my daughter’s friends are getting married and they are barely 19.  We waited until we were 23 and sometimes we think that was young.  I sometimes wonder if getting married so young will cause them to divorce in 10 years.

I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction lately and it shocks me that back in the 1400’s girls were promised to someone as early as 10-years-old and were married off by 16.  I can’t imagine that happening now; I think it would be considered human trafficking.

A few years ago, I had a friend who finally got married in her 30’s.  They were struggling about where to have the ceremony.  Should they stay here so family and friends could participate or should they travel to Hawaii and have a private ceremony by the ocean.  They love to travel to warm destinations so it made perfect sense for them to marry in Hawaii and have a party when they got home.  I’m glad they did it and I know they are glad too.  I always wanted to get married in Italy or on a beach, but again, I went with tradition and married in my childhood church.

My sister and her husband married in the oldest Iowa church during the Iowa State Fair. He wore a WWII uniform and she wore a wedding dress from that era.

My sister and her husband married in the oldest Iowa church during the Iowa State Fair where they met. He wore a WWII uniform and she wore a wedding dress from that era.

I’m constantly telling our daughter she needs to follow her heart and desires and marry on her terms and where she wants it to happen.  It’s really not about the church and tradition anymore; it’s about making a magical experience for everyone.

Looking back, if we were getting married now instead of 25 years ago, I think I would have done things a lot differently.  Would I have stood in front of 300 people to say my vows?  Heck no, I hate being the center of attention and hated being that exposed.  Would I have my wedding in a church?  Only if the church is in Tuscany, Italy.  Would Doug be standing next to me as I say my vows? You bet.  Do I regret the type of wedding we had? Not at all, because in the end, I married my best friend and it doesn’t matter where the wedding was held, who was there or how much or little was spent. What mattered was saying I do to the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

Until next time….enjoy the view from your passenger seat.

Opportunities do knock

iStock_Chapter1I had the neatest opportunity drop in my lap.  An opportunity to experience one of my dream jobs.  Growing up I always wanted to be a foreign correspondent.  I think watching the nightly national news sparked that bug.  Plus I’ve always been intrigued by foreign destinations.  It’s one of the reasons I acquired a journalism degree.  But then I met my husband in college and I realized I wasn’t cut throat enough, so instead I stayed stateside.

But that’s not the dream job I’m talking about.  The other dream job is to work in a publishing house.  After deciding a foreign correspondent wasn’t in my future, I started thinking about how much I love books and how thrilling it would be to read manuscripts and decide which ones to push to the editors as possibilities for publication.

writing450I can imagine the stacks of manuscripts on my desk.  Stacks and stacks of them.  Each in a different pile on my desk, on the back credenza and on other surfaces, possibly on the floor.  I can also imagine at the end of the day taking several manuscripts, placing them in a big bag and throwing the bag over my shoulder as I turn off my office light.  I can also see myself at the end of the day reading a manuscript at night, in bed with my reading glasses on.

Out of the blue this week, author Taylor Adams, who I’m “friends” with on contacted me and asked if I would read the first ten pages of his second book, which is in rewrite, and give my opinion.  I don’t know Taylor, but I’m guessing he has read some of my book reviews on

writing jobsI have a feeling we became friends on when I signed up to win his book.  Several authors have requested to be my friend after registering to win their books.  I love the opportunity to communicate with the authors and tell them how much I enjoy their books.  Authors are different than actors.  You might know their name, but they usually don’t have a posse.  If they have a Facebook Fan Page, most likely they are the ones updating it.  Take Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah.  Two of my favorite authors.  I have exchanged comments with Kristin on her Facebook page and from the family photos shared on Jodi’s page, you know she is updating the page.  This makes them human and makes me like them even more.

It was so much fun to read how excited Kristin is with her book Home Front being commissioned into a movie to be directed by Chris Columbus who is an award winning director.  It’s like a girlfriend telling you about their great news over drinks.

A few months ago I put out in the universe to give me the opportunity to read manuscripts, but I wasn’t sure how to accomplish this dream.  I’m really glad the universe listened and helped Taylor find me so I could experience one of my dream jobs.  Something I can cross off my bucket list, but something I would love to do a lot more down the road.

Until next time….enjoy the view from your passenger seat.