WAKE UP GRATEFUL by Kristi Nelson: A Review

At the beginning of the new year, I began an informal “study” of gratefulness. My experience with illness and recuperation this past summer has left me with extreme gratefulness for life and living. Each morning, I wake up and say, “Good morning, Lord; thank you for another day.” The mug for my first cup of coffee says, “Renew/Restore/Refresh,” so I repeat the little mantra I’ve made up: ” ‘Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me;’ Restore me to health, please; and refresh my mind to where it can handle anything that might come my way today.” Then, I am ready to start my day. I believe I read in something by Brene Brown that Happiness does not cause gratitude, but gratitude causes happiness.

Deb Nance, a blogging friend at Readerbuzz, sent me a whole list of books about gratitude available at our local library that she discovered in her recent study of happiness. Here is the first book from that list that I have read in 2022.

A serious and very helpful book

Nelson does not allow her reader to wistfully think, “I’ll be grateful when…,” but encourages her to be in the moment and grateful for what she already has. It is a “touching, powerful, real” read because she shares her own story as a survivor of Stage IV cancer. During her search for recovery, she met a Benedictine monk, Brother David Steindl-Rast who helped found the Network for Grateful Living. This book articulates his teachings, which the author has put into practice in her daily life. Subtitled “The Transforming Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted, this book is full of inspiring quotes, which I often copied into my Quotes Notebook. I also began a gratitude journal during the time I read Wake Up.

Nelson tells the reader, “Grateful living offers a path and a promise” and explains both. The book is full of practical guidelines and specific practices for the reader to carry out. These practices are: Stop. Look. Go, and each is given for every section of the book. I was spurred to put these practices into action and to continue doing so for some time now.

To call Wake Up a self-help or self-improvement book is an understatement. it is a narrative by Nelson of her journey to a more positive, happy life, plus ways the reader can obtain this for herself.

I highly recommend this book.

Thanks to the Story Reading Ape blog for the use of this meme.

THIRSDAY THOUGHTS

I know I overuse the word “lovely,” but Wintering:The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times is a lovely book. Even the cover gives the reader a sense of peace and serenity.

One of the most helpful, most inspiring books I read in 2021

Published in 2020, May’s book fills a need in the human psyche. I for one suffer from SAD, seasonal affective disorder in the winter. The bleakness of the clouded skies and leafless trees depress me. Just looking out the kitchen window can immobilize me into standing there motionless, doing nothing for fifteen minutes or more. This cannot be a healthy mental state.

Wintering takes us through the seasons of the year, starting in September with the prologue, and continuing through late March with an epilogue. This beautiful, healing book looks at the winter season as a time of rest and healing. “…wintering cannot be avoided, but need not be feared.” Winter season is compared to “a warm blanket on a cold day.” We are instructed to use this time to “care for and repair our selves when life knocks us down.” The author gives personal examples from her life in a memoir-like musing on the winter season. We find that she underwent adversity and discover how she (not avoided it, but) worked through it.

This simple, little book leads us to understand that the “transformative power of rest and retreat” convinces us that “life is cyclical, not linear.”I am in the winter season of the cycle now; this year I will not “rush” the coming of spring, but prepare myself and heal myself from life’s blows in preparation for it.

I highly recommend this book.

This was one of the last books I finished in 2021.

DON’T FORGET THE ICE vs REMEMBER THE ICE

Although I finished my Non-fiction challenge much earlier this year,

Completed in March

I am still trying to read more non-fiction. Recently, a friend, Susan, gave me some books she had left over from when she was the CFO of Alvin Independent School District on team management and communication. One of these books, which I’m just getting around to reading is Bob Nicoll’s Remember the Ice.

A fine book on effectively communicating

The title stems from, which is more effective, to say, “Don’t forget the ice,”or to modify the “message” to, “Remember the ice”? Nicoll contends that saying, “Don’t forget the ice” registers in one’s subconscious as “FORGET the ice” because we are most likely to leave out negative messages like, “Don’t.” Instead, he says, we should phrase the communication in a positive way, “REMEMBER” the ice; thus, we will be more likely to experience positive results.

There are many tips and hints about effective communication with others, but here is a tip for self-communication: “Why would you ever begin a sentence with the words, ‘I can’t,’ when you are endowed with the ability to DO anything you put your heart and mind to.” (Bob-ism #9) LOL

By modifying our message, the author points out, we can positively modify our communication to others and to ourselves. This was a helpful book. it made me think.

RAE

ONE OF MY 2021 READING GOALS, Read More Non-fiction: An Update

I am doing well in this challenge I presented myself for 2021, and here is a non-fiction book I just finished, Your Turn by Julie Lythcott-Haines.

A must read for all twenty-somethings that this seventy-something learned from as well

This book is a contender for best non-fiction read of 2021. It deals with “the painful adulting struggle.” The author, “the mentor our young people deserve,” reminds me of a cross between Brene Brown and bel hooks as she advises and exlains. This book helps empower and equip young adults for real life. It consists of 459 pages jam-packed with helpful life lessons and anecdotes drawn from real life that teach without preaching.

Speaking of teaching, this book would make a good community college course on “Adulting 101.” It has an index where one can look up a specific topic, turn to that page listed, and receive immediate advice and help. The appendixes at the end are also very relevant. All of the anecdotes are nitty-gritty, down to life situations. Many of the anecdotes are from Lythcott-Haimes’s own life or her family’s life, which demonstrate her vulnerability as she “shares” in order to assist the reader. Your Turn is an outstanding book.

This book is yet another darned HELPFUL read.
Thanks Evin!

BOOKS FROM THE BACKLOG

This meme, hosted by Carole’s Ranch has been on my mind for some time now.

The meme here is to focus on books one has been intending to read for some time. Jan Sincero’s Badass Habits , published in 2020 is one that fits this category in my TBR pile. Fortunately, in January 2020’s issue of Real Simple magazine, a staff writer read the book and wrote about it, saving me the time of having to read the whole book by reading the article.

In Habits, Sincero states that a certain mindset is required to keep” updating your habits game.” She reminds us to…

…Stay aware

…Shift focus when you start going down “pity pathway” and to consciously “think thoughts aligned with where you want to go and who you want to be.”

The book gives us several strategies to build good habits and stop bad ones.

  1. You will believe what you tell yourself. Talk positively! Then, repeat positive thoughts like a mantra.
  2. Limit time spent with people who think and/or speak negatively.
  3. Limit distractions.
  4. Commit to change, and conviction will follow.
  5. WRITE IT DOWN. “Write down habits you need to change, and write down those you want to establish.
  6. Track the results. Pause at the end of each day, and give yourself checks and x’s. Use a chart. This way, you can see your progress.
  7. Develop new habits for 20 minutes at a time. CHANGE TAKES TIME!
  8. Get up and start your day at the same time each morning. Establish a morning routine.
  9. Just do one thing a day towards eliminating bad habits and establishing good ones in their place. Little steps matter.

This article had insights and positive steps I could take without reading the whole book. Real Simple makes things just that–real simple!

MASTER OF ONE by Jordan Rayner: A Review

Because I read so many novels, almost to the point of exclusively, about eight years ago, encouraged by Deb Nance (Readerbuzz) in my book club, I made an effort to step away from my comfort zone and read more non-fiction. Rayner’s Master of One published in 2011 fits this desire perfectly. I found it every bit as interesting as any novel I’ve read.

Rayner tells the reader that the quote attributed to Ben Franklin, “Jack of all trades, master of none” is a misquote. It should read, “Jack of all trades, master of one.” The author advises that rather than “making minimal progress in a million different directions, [we should become] competent” at several things, but exceptionally gifted in one. Rayner speaks with authority because he has been an entrepreneur, thought-leader, and a best selling author. He calls us to pursue a single calling, offering the “less but better” theory of accomplishments. He also walked away from an outstanding career to write and promote this book and establish workbooks, training sessions, etc. to reinforce it.  He encourages us to offer “service to God and others” as a major criteria for a successful career. Many anecdotes are given to encourage us to “Find  and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do.” Rayner has done just this. I find this book an excellent guide to help connect your faith to your work.9780525653332

FIRST LINE FRIDAYS

This fascinating meme, hosted by “Hoarding Books” asks readers to simply copy the first line or lines of a book, then ask their readers to state whether they would choose/buy that book based on its first line.

Here is my Friday Firstliner from John Ortberg’s YA version of ME, the me I want to be:

After asking the typically-teen question, “Why did God make me?”, Ortberg opens with,

“One week it was all the rage on Facebook to replace your profile picture with the photo of a celebrity who could be your double…I noticed a lot of people chose extremely attractive celebrities for them[selves] and claimed people say they look just like them. I wondered if some of those people might need contact lenses.”

Ortberg’s humor and self-depreciation is a delight to read.  Next to Max Lucado, Ortberg is my favorite inspirational author.

HIDDEN HEROES: EVIDENCE THAT GOD IS AT WORK: A Review

This is an old (1995) title that came into my hands from a friend who was donating it to my Little Free Library; however, it is full of “new” ideas and very inspiring. Don Moore and Lorna Dueck have collected short examples that prove, in Billy Graham’s words from his forward, “…God is still at work using ordinary people to do extraordinary things” and “…amid the apparent chaos and conflicts of our world, God is still at work through the lives of…men and women committed to Christ and seeking to serve Him.”

The examples chosen are mostly from Canada, but could be applied anywhere in anyone’s lives. There are a great deal of inspiring examples that might help the reader choose his own ministry/service as she/he sees needs arise in his/her location and life-situation. Heroes from sports figures to educators, to housewives and moms, to professional, trained leaders are given with each turn of the page. The stories often occur after the “hero” has taken a beating–losing a job or having to downsize, and turns it into an opportunity to serve in a way that is helpful to the Lord’s work and totally fulfilling.

This is an inspiring book for someone who wants to “do something.” Sometimes it is something that makes a difference in one life; sometimes it is something that “takes off” and makes a big difference in a big way. Regardless, the book is full of examples of people who took action, not just paid lip-service.