The Sunshine Sisters isn’t all sunshine

32867521The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green is about the relationships within one family.  Ronni Sunshine is the perfect selfish Hollywood diva who cares more about her image than her three daughters who can’t wait to get away from her, and a husband who can’t make her happy no matter what he does.  To the general public, Ronni is a wonderful person who has the perfect family.  But behind closed doors it’s another story.  Ronni is narcissistic and often a cruel mother.

When the veil comes off and her mood comes out, Ronni treats her daughters differently and the daughters react in different ways to Ronni’s cruelness.  Nell, who is the oldest, withdraws within herself and when she turns 18, flees to a farm a few miles away where she befriends the owner, who becomes a stable mother figure.  Nell seemed like a genuine, down-to-earth person who worked tirelessly to fill the voids she didn’t get from her childhood.

Meredith takes a lot of abuse from Ronni.  She is told she needs to lose weight, that she isn’t pretty enough.  This breaks Meredith and she flees to England to stay with relatives.  Meredith is a people pleaser and wants everyone to be happy.  Because of her mother’s comments over the years, Meredith doesn’t feel she deserve to be treated with respect, which leads her to be engaged to a who acts like she isn’t good enough as herself.

Then there is Lizzy who doesn’t take any crap from Ronnie.  While growing up, she laughed at the things Ronni said and did, never taking it seriously.  Lizzy really came across just as selfish and self-centered as Ronni.  Now a famous TV chef, Lizzy doesn’t care who she hurts with her actions, including her husband and child.

The main focus of the book is bringing the three girls together again to be with Ronnie, who has become ill and wants them by her side as she passes.  Once again making everything about her and bringing the attention to her, the center of attention.  This story is also about the relationship between the sisters, who are not close and are so very different.

The Sunshine Sisters shows that families can look all rainbows and sunshine on the outside, the inside, behind closed doors, might not be what it seems.  It’s probably why on the news, the neighbors say “they were such a nice and loving family” when something goes wrong with a family member or an entire family.

I have four older sisters so it was interesting for me to see how the sisters were very different yet could support each other after being reacquainted. There were relationships where I wanted to smack people on the back of the head and relationships where I wanted to stand up and cheer.

I have pretty much read all of Jane Green’s books and have enjoyed every one of them.  Like her other books, I had a hard time putting The Sunshine Sisters down.  When I wasn’t reading the book, I found myself thinking about the sisters.  The Sunshine Sisters looks like a fun cheerful book, but instead it dives into family dynamics that aren’t so filled with sunshine.

Book Description:
The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Girls are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own, their mother s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears and they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all.

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