Look On the Bright Side

3 Simple Steps to Help You Look for & Appreciate the Positives

According to Rick Hansen’s Method – Taking in the Good, if we store more negative memories than positive memories, we start to see the world as depressing and/or threatening.

We as humans are mostly hardwired to remember the bad things and forget about all the good! Our brains tend to act like velcro for our negative memories and like “repellant” for positive memories. This is clearly not a good way to live life!

If you really think about it words, can have a “sticky” property to them, when someone calls us a name or makes fun of us or just makes us feel bad about ourselves, those things tend to stick with us more than the positive things that happen to us.

BUT! Not to fear! Hansen provides us with a way for us to make our positive feelings more “sticky” to us! Here are 3 ways to take in the good:

     1.) Actively look for the positive in every experience you have

2.) Hold those positive experiences in your conscious awareness             for as long as possible

3.) Savor the positive experiences- Remember the feelings you felt

If you’re not a part of my Smart Lioness Pride Facebook Group for women yet, what are you waiting on?! 🙂 You can watch a video on this topic that I did as well! If you are really trying to make some changes in your life, I have created a worksheet to help you to “see the good” in your experiences, or at least it will remind you that’s the goal, if nothing else! 🙂

Download the worksheet here:  Look on the Bright Side

Mommy Monday: Megan Rix

Mommy Monday: Megan Rix

from the Blog, “This Anchored Life: Measured by Love & Spoons”

This blog post goes out to all the moms raising strong willed child. Anyone who has a sweet, kind toddler, who sits quietly in a restaurant coloring or plays alone while you get things done will probably not understand this at all and will most likely think I am a horrible mom. But, I’m willing to lend my sassy pants beauty over for a trip to the grocery store in case you’re curious. Or just go to my google search history and see how many times I’ve typed the words, “activities for a strong willed child” and maybe that will give you some insight.

It’s funny. We say “strong willed” because calling your own kid an expletive that starts with an a and rhymes with shmashole is frowned upon in society. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little human so much it hurts. I would never try to coerce her strong willed character out of her. I know that it will make her into an assertive, brave, and confident young woman one day. But that doesn’t mean I am oblivious to how much she will test my human will on her way to becoming that strong young woman.

To begin, there’s consistent use of the word no. I’m not talking about the average toddler use of the word no. I’m talking about this being my child’s favorite word. A word that is used hundreds of times a day in defiance. A word that is said with brute force, attitude, and bellowed at a decibel that once again makes my neighbors (and anyone in public really) question my ability to parent. If you are a parent to a strong willed child, you know exactly what happens when you try to win the battle of “no” and challenge them to do something they have clearly indicated will not be done. I like to follow up these challenges with a bottle of champagne.          

Then there are the facial expressions. Little miss thang has a WTF face that literally makes me slightly afraid of her. It’s like she’s flipping you off with her eyes. It is even a running joke in my circle of friends that Mack is going to need Botox soon, because the wrinkles between her eyebrows will be so deep from frowning by then that she’ll have no hope by the time she’s 30. You receive this look anytime you try to initiate a conversation within 30 minutes of her waking up. When you get her juice-to-water ratio wrong. If you ask her to climb down from something or hand over a sharp object. If you try to stop her from eating dirt, marbles, plastic, legos, or prevent her from licking the sliding glass door. Or simply if she doesn’t like your face. Want to know what goes along with those facial expressions? Reread the paragraph above this one. 

 

 

No one is exempt from her attitude…most especially her big brother. My kids could not be any more opposite and what Mack possesses in sass, Grant carries equally in sensitivity. He’s the boy you’ll want your daughter to marry when they’re older, but right now he’s just an easy target. Mack knows exactly which buttons to push and spends her day antagonizing poor G by stealing whatever he’s currently holding, pulling his hair, kicking him in the face from her carseat, and my personal favorite, lying on the ground fake crying when he’s having a meltdown. No, not for attention. Because at 2, she is making fun of him by mimicking him.    

Mack is also fearless. To date, she has climbed the refrigerator, walked into my room with a butcher knife which she retrieved after scaling the cabinets with her toes, jumped off of every tall surface in our house, tipped the dining room chairs over a dozen times as she tried to tightrope walk across the backs of them. Fallen off the trash can. You get the idea. Daddy also had to build her a special frame on the floor for her crib bed to sit on because she could crawl out before she was a year old. 

Research you say? Yep, I’ve done that. I’ve read tons of mommy blogs and online articles. Basically the most consistent advice for not losing your mind is to put your seatbelt on, hold on for dear life, and harness patience from Tibetan monks. Oh, and love them like crazy, because one day that strong will is going to serve them abundantly in life. Until then, I will find the joy in watching her chug her sippy cup of “appy juice” and then hurl it to the ground like a viking warrior.

Because there is also an incredibly sweet and cuddly side to Miss Mack. One that melts your heart and leads you to cover her chubby little cheeks in kisses. She loves exclaiming that she loves you at random times, with as much gusto as her exclamation of “no!”. She loves when you read her books. She loves to share her snacks (on her terms). She loves to be rocked to sleep and while this can sometimes take up to an hour at night, I relish this time because in those quiet moments, when she’s snuggled in my arms, all is right in the world. I remember that the years when she will too big to sit on my lap will come fast and furious, just like her current attitude. I remember that even though she came at me with a right hook when I tried to put her hair in a ponytail, one day we will do all the things I still love to do with my mom. Even though I am married with my own children, my mom is still my best friend. I hope Mack looks at me that same way too.

So if you have a strong willed child, I see you. I understand you when other parents try to give you advice you’ve already tried, or tell you that it’s a phase, or that all kids are this way at some point. Side note, they’re not. I see the expression you make when people say, “just bring the kids with you, they’ll be fine.” I’m with you eating at home because restaurant trips are like the odds in Vegas. Not good. I feel your pain when you get looks of disapproval from strangers…because why yes, perfect stranger, I absolutely train my child to have epic meltdowns every time they come in contact with other humans.

One day, we’ll all sit back and smile when our strong willed children become CEO’s and professional athletes. The one thing I know for sure is that when people ask me if I am having any more kids.

My answer is one word.

No.     

SHARING IS CARING

Rip Off Your Label!

Ripping Off Your Label

It can be suffocating to have all of these labels thrust upon us as women in today’s world. Instead of letting the negative labels hurt you and your future, rip those off and stick new ones on instead! I made a worksheet you can use below to help you work through your personal labels. Tell me in the comments:

What label are you dropping? What label are you replacing it with?

Sharing is Caring!!

Mommy Monday: Stephie Simpson

Stephie Simpson Mommy Monday

Let me take a moment to introduce myself; I’m Stephie a punk rock, crime drama obsessed, married mum of two from the beautiful county of North Yorkshire in the North of England. I am your typical 30 year old mum of two; although I blog at www.colitistoostomy.com and have been chronically sick since I was 10 with Ulcerative Colitis, where ulcers form inside your large intestine and often bleed, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I would like to talk to you if I may; about being a chronically sick parent and what it is like to be sick and be pregnant.

I never wanted children if I’m honest; I always wanted to be cool auntie Steph, although I never thought anyone would want to stick with me long enough to have children, let alone marry me! That had nothing to do with my illness because having it from such a young age it was a part of me, I never let it define me. When I had my large bowel removed and a pouch formed from my small bowel to my rectum I was told my fertility may drop by 25%. At the age of 21 with a partner of 3 years who also didn’t want children (at least with me) it honestly never bothered me. I do remember talking to him and mentioning it to which he responded with “If it happens, it happens.” If I’m honest I still don’t know how I feel about that comment!

But as it happens we never did fall pregnant, which in hindsight was such a good thing because 2 years later we broke up and I got together with the man I was later to marry; my 00Steve. You know I mentioned I never wanted kids? Well it all changed about 6 months into being with 00Steve, we were engaged and living together (I know quick work right?!) Just before Christmas 2010 I don’t know what but something inside changed and every time I looked at him I just knew I wanted to have a family with him. Part of me was absolutely terrified of the chance of not being able to have a family with him but we persevered for around 1.5 years before we finally got those two little lines on our test.

Now that pregnancy was far from easy! In fact I swear I must have been in and out of the maternity ward every week. My obstetrics consultant believed it was due to a massive amount of scar tissue and adhesions in the bowel; now he wasn’t totally wrong as I had had open surgery which left me with a 10 inch scar down my belly, plus polyhydraminos which is where you have an increase in amniotic fluid.  I saw him recently and we discussed how it was actually undiagnosed Pouchitis which in simple terms is Ulcerative Colitis in the pouch; the realisation that swept across his face was exactly the same as mine when I realised!

I had an elective caesarean section due to the previous surgery and unfortunately that happened on my second wedding anniversary! Only I had an issue with that of course, but at 12:52pm we set eyes on our unbelievably gorgeous daughter Lyra-Beth who weighed a dinky 6lb 6oz and was born to Weezer – Islands in the Sun. I remember turning to 00Steve begging him not to make me go through another pregnancy and having needles in my back; just the thought of them gives me raised anxiety.

I suffered with post natal depression after my daughter was born. 00Steve was able to take 6 weeks off on paternity and was pretty much the sole caregiver to Lyra-Beth as I was in lots of pain and still bleeding heavily. Him being able to take time off work was a God send to me to give me time to heal but it highlighted something in my brain that I wasn’t a good enough mum; that I was struggling unnecessarily and finding things far more difficult than I should have been. Now looking back that is a completely normal way for a new mum to feel especially someone that didn’t have much to do with children other than a nephew and the odd friend’s child. But at the time it was truly awful.

I then started to believe in myself as a mum although entirely jealous of the bond Lyra-Beth has with her dad, which was a good thing as we moved away from family and friends and I had to trust myself as a mum.  But no sooner as I had found that strength I got sick again typically just as I had decided I was mentally ready to try for another child, but this time it was different than before; with no regular flare symptoms to warn me that a hospital admission may be looming or when to take a rest it was scary. 00Steve swapped his shifts so he was at home on an evening to help out, I remember one night counting down the minutes till he got home so I could take my morphine, rocking on the kitchen floor due to being in agony and Lyra-Beth stroking me telling me it was okay. She was 2! My 2 year old was taking care of her mother in a sense and I never wanted it to be that way.

I knew I needed to keep going until my next surgery date which was to remove the area of infected small intestine and my rectum, but it didn’t stop me seriously contemplating suicide a few weeks before my surgery date. I admitted myself the next day to the surgical ward as I seriously needed some more help but as my surgeon was on (much needed) leave of his own my surgery date couldn’t be brought forward any earlier.

The second I woke up from my surgery I was in sweet relief, I knew instantly life with my ileostomy was going to be so much better than before and I was finally going to be able to be the mum my daughter deserved. But having more abdominal surgery left the chances of being able to fall pregnant once again up in the air. My surgeon was pretty honest with me and said he honestly didn’t know if I could or couldn’t but didn’t see any harm in trying. I thought that was completely fair and after everything I had been through we still had a beautiful, healthy and happy little girl and that was more than enough if we couldn’t conceive again.

But just two short months later we found out we were expecting again which was pretty amazing and exciting but it sadly wasn’t meant to be as the baby stopped developing at 6 weeks but I didn’t start to miscarry till I was 8 weeks. It was and still is really hard to deal with as no support is offered to people who suffer the loss of miscarriage, yes it was only early but I had so much love for that little Bean and all the what if’s? What would they have been like? What did I do wrong? We were told after I had the first period after the miscarriage we were safe to try again and that you are often quite fertile for a few weeks after. Now I’m sure if I didn’t fall pregnant the month later I would have been devastated after hearing the spiel about the fertility spike.

But we were incredibly lucky in our eyes to fall pregnant and this time it was a much easier pregnancy than with my daughter but I had the constant fear of “Will I lose this one too?” my ileostomy only stretched a small amount in size which I was thankful for but when I hit the third trimester I started struggling with increased pain and once again it was blamed on all my colorectal surgeries. I had planned to have a natural birth this time but at 27 weeks I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope with the pain. But the week before the caesarean date I was admitted to maternity with what seemed like early labour. There was nothing happening but it wasn’t really deemed safe for me to go home and after fighting with a obstetrics consultant that it wasn’t what was left of my bowel giving me grief I was diagnosed with “hypersensitivity to pain” which every Doctor I have seen since told me it was a cop out.

 

Our son Jacob was delivered after I freaked out as we had a plan in place with the anesthetist to help me cope with the needles in my back but all of a sudden everything got rushed and nothing had been put into place. The birth is something I am still trying to deal with mentally so I apologize for skipping over it but if you wish to read more please head on over to ( http://colitistoostomy.com/momostomy/traumatic-birth/#more-1819 ) as someone who is already in a heightened state of anxiety this was not going well!

We eventually got the needles in and Jacob weighed 6lbs 15oz was born at 11:26am to +44 – When you’re Heart Stops Beating. He was just the spitting image of his older sister and it was love at first sight; just looking at him made all the anxiety wash away until the consultant who blamed my stoma for everything asked me if I had already had one of my ovaries removed. Now this was quite alarming as I was undergoing a routine sterilization and as far as I was aware was still intact other than missing a rectum and intestines.

Once she asked 00Steve to leave the room she told me that she could only find one ovary so she thinks she clipped it but couldn’t be sure! That was it the anxiety came flooding back and needless to say 00Steve wasn’t happy on his return. I had opted for a sterilisation because we only ever discussed having two children and I could deal with being chronically sick and parenting to an extent but I seriously struggled with pregnancy. I didn’t want to have to consider having an abortion when just taking the tablets after my miscarriage felt enough like that. It has taken 5 months of fighting from me, my health visitor and the consultant who delivered my daughter to find out if I had been sterilised correctly and to help heal the mental anguish I still suffer from Jacobs’s traumatic entrance into the world.

So having a 4 year old and a 5 month old whilst still chronically sick is definitely a challenge I wouldn’t change for the world. I definitely live and breathe my children and hope that them having a Mum that isn’t always able to run around after them but can still do sit down activities will teach them to be more empathetic and kinder to those around them as you never know what is going on behind closed doors.

Do you feel that being chronically sick affects your parenting or how your body copes with pregnancy? Or did you suffer a traumatic birth with one of your babies? Please don’t hesitate to contact me either in the comments or via www.facebook.com/colitistoostomy www.twitter.com/colitistoostomy or www.instagram.com/colitis_to_ostomy thank you all for reading.

Share Stephie’s Story!!

Self Care Sunday

Hello Lovely Lionesses! Happy Sunday Funday!

I have created not one, BUT TWO FREE PRINTABLE PDF’S for you all to get super organized and ready for the week ahead!! Get EXCITED!!

“WE ARE EACH GIFTED IN A UNIQUE AND IMPORTANT WAY. IT IS OUR PRIVILEGE & OUR ADVENTURE TO DISCOVER OUR OWN SPECIAL LIGHT.” -MARY DUNBAR

Continue Reading

Mommy Mondays – Rachael Freeland

October 16, 2017

Today’s Mommy Monday post comes to you from Rachael Freeland! Rachel has a blog called Werifesteria: To Wander through the Forest in Search of Mystery. Rachel is from Melbourne, Australia originally, but is living in Amsterdam currently. Before Rachel became a mother she was a therapist and yoga teacher, which is super cool since I’m a therapist and I love yoga and really wish I had the time to get the hours to become a yoga teacher! So anyway clearly we have a lot in common! After she had children, however Rachel became a blogger and writer! So now she shares stories from her life on her blog and she does a fantastic job doing it! I found her blog very enjoyable to read and you’re going to love her Mommy Monday story!! Just for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “Pram,” a pram is a stroller or baby buggy.  So on with the good stuff!! Rachael Freeland

Bookstore Mishap

I pulled a book out of the shelf, and flicked through the pages, desperately trying to ignore the fact that my children were far more interested in the bouncy balls the bookstore sold than the books themselves.  When did bookstores start selling toys anyway?  I added the book to the pile of books I was buying and then suddenly, my nose detected a very distinctive smell.  I looked at my daughters, the youngest had adopted the full nappy waddle.   I bit my lip, looking around for a bathroom, but there was not one.  We were at least a twenty minute walk from the apartment and nowhere near a public rest room.  Where did people go to pee in London?

I thought briefly about putting her in the pram and hot footing back to the apartment, but Grace doesn’t do quick, especially not when I need her to and Ava Rose has the most delicate skin.  If I didn’t get this nappy off her now, her bottom would be red raw in minutes.  I looked around, there was no one, not even a staff member.  We were completely alone on the top floor of the bookshop and had been for the last 10 minutes.  I scooped her up, holding her slightly away from my body and pushed the pram around, nope, definitely not in the art section.  Fashion, mmm, maybe.  Magazines?  No, too risky, too close to the glass hand rail and the happy shoppers on the ground floor.   I spotted the service elevator, perfect.   It hadn’t opened since we’d come out of it 20 minutes ago.    

I lay Avarose down in the pram, whipped off her pants, undid the nappy, rolled it up and pushed it to the side.  Quickly, I wiped her soiled bottom and put on a new nappy.

The elevator pinged and the doors slid open.  I looked up, guilt smeared all over my face, the foul smelling stench still emanating from the pram, but it was just an empty trolley riding between floors.  I breathed out.  I grabbed her pants, pulled them on and then picked up the soiled nappy.  The tabs, oh my god, the tabs.  The nappy unrolled, and the little ball of poo flew through the air.  My daughter, wondering what all of the excitement was, lifted her head up to have a look.  The little ball of poo bounced off the back of the pram and landed right where her head had just been.  The next bit happened in horrifyingly slow motion.  My daughter, having decided there was nothing of interest to look at, lay her head back down.   

I emptied the packet of wipes into the pram, trying desperately to remedy the situation, but poo, it turns out is very, very difficult to get out of hair.  I pulled at the strands of her fine, blonde, curls but all that did was rub it in further. I looked around, trying to figure out what to do.  If Grace caught sight of it, she’d surely vomit, and then we’d officially be blacklisted from every bookstore in the UK, although to be perfectly honest, if that little black box in the ceiling, that I’d only just noticed was actually a camera, I was pretty sure we’d not be welcomed back in a hurry.

I scrabbled around the carrier of the pram, desperately seeking inspiration.  Finally my hand seized upon her hat.   There was nothing for it, but to shove it on her head, leave the books we’d been going to buy and walk nonchalantly out of the store. 

I think we’ll steer clear of bookstores for a little while.

If you would like to get in touch with Rachael you can find her on:

Instagram: @werifesteria_s

Twitter:@werifesteria_s

And of course, her blog, Werifesteria 

Let us know in the comments if you have had a similar experience, or if you would like to share a story of your own for Mommy Mondays!!

 

Sharing is caring!! Pin this post to Pinterest if you loved it!!

Self Care Sunday

Self Care Sunday!

Here again already!

I have a poem for you today.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters 

By Portia Nelson

I walk; down the street

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in

I am lost… I am helpless

It isn’t my fault,

It takes forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street…

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in… it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

IV

I walk dow the same street,

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

 

If this resonates with you, why does it resonate with you? Does this make you see more clearly the problem you may be a part of when your relationships continue to end badly, or go badly to begin with?

If this sounds all too familiar to you, join my Smart Lioness Pride Facebook group and comment on the thread discussing this post or shoot me a message on Facebook by clicking here if you would like to discuss this more in a private setting.

Click here to get your downloadable version of the Hole in the Sidewalk

Self Care Sunday

20 Things To Give Yourself Permission for:

1.) Rest
2.) To laugh
3.) To play
4.) Make mistakes
5.) To say “no”  to demands on my time that are simply draining
6.) To say “yes” to what I want
7.) To fulfill my childhood/lifelong dreams
8.) To ask for what I want
9.) To be who I am
10.) To try again
11.) To have fun
12.) To design my own life
13.) To ignore the haters
14.) To stay focused on what’s important to me
15.) To be whatever body shape I want to be
16.) To be imperfect
17.) To ASK FOR HELP
18.) To stop caring what others think of me
19.) To write a shitty first draft
20.) To create

Friday Feature – Megan Butler – Green Gables State of Mind

Reading for a Break from the World

By Guest Blogger: Megan Butler

A Quick introduction about Megan, from me, Hillary the Smart Lioness 🙂  So I don’t know if you have discovered Megan Butler’s blog, Green Gables State of Mind, BUT if you LOVE to read, or even remotely interested in giving reading another shot (It’s good for your cognitive health & ultimately is linked with the decreased likelihood of developing Alzheimers Disease.) Megan will be able to at least convince you to TRY, because she’s such a good writer and just really knows how to explain a book in the most perfect of ways!

But back to the point!! Megan and I grew up together in a small private school from 1st grade until around 9th grade (when I to moved to public school). Megan and I weren’t besties or anything but I do remember going over to her house once when we were in maybe middle school? I don’t know, but I remember having fun! Plus, I admired her a lot for her intelligence and just overall joyful attitude she always seems to have. When I came across her name on Instagram, I thought, “holy moly!” Its been FOREVER!! Which then lead me to find her blog, then lead me to binge read like, all of her posts because she is an amazing writer and I couldn’t stop! SO, naturally I reached out! (just kidding, not natural, it took some mustering of courage, no one likes rejection!) But I did it! And here we are!

So a little more about Megan..

Megan is a Dentist in Atlanta, Georgia now, but she and her husband have lived ALL over the country, which, I think, is SO cool! But let’s get on with the good stuff!!  I asked Megan to do a guest blog for me on some good reading for an escape, since anxiety and stress seem to be at an all time high lately!! Reading is a great coping skill/mechanism that is both healthy and fun IF you find the perfect book for YOU! I asked and she did not disappoint!! ENJOY!!

Megan Butler, Guest Blogger

Hi y’all, my name is Megan and I write a blog over at Green Gables State of Mind.  I absolutely love to read and find book recommendations for friends and family, so when Hillary asked me to write a post I jumped at the chance!

Do you read for an escape? I know I do. Although I also enjoy reading books to learn new things or to motivate myself for self-improvement, sometimes I just need a break from the stress of work or bills and just enjoy a really good story.  So when Hillary asked me to write a book post for y’all, I thought it might be helpful to post a synopsis of some of the books I’ve been reading lately! Most of these are newer releases  that have been receiving a lot of buzz and should be available at your local bookstore!

I picked a few different genres to give a good bit of variety depending on your reading “mood.” Hope you find a book you love! Happy reading everyone.

For a novel of female friendship and a coming-of-age story, check out
Marlena by Julie Buntin

What’s it All About?

The title character in Marlena and her best friend, Cat, avoided the social drama of their own high school because they were entirely too busy with their own.  Cat has recently moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with her mom and brother after her parent’s divorce.  Cat is forced to leave her beloved private school friends into a not-so-savory area of her new town, in an unfriendly high school, while dealing with the fallout of her parent’s separation and her own mood swings. She has decided she will shed her former identity with her former home – no more of her studious, preppy persona. She deceives her mother (who is busy dealing with her own grief via boxed Franzia) and, instead of attending school for the first few weeks, ditches it to hang out with Marlena and her group of friends.

She tries alcohol for the first time, which shapes her adulthood in unexpected ways. She has her first major boy crush and wades into the waters of flirtation and dating. Her makeup-free face becomes rimmed with eyeliner and too much blush, her attitude becomes surly, and in general becomes a mostly-insufferable adolescent.  Some of the passages in the book take me back to my own fashion disasters (BLUE EYESHADOW, y’all). I also would cringe while reading the scenes between Marlena and her mom, remembering all those times I snapped back or said hurtful things to my own mother. Most of all, the book takes me back to the time when everything felt so BIG and IMPORTANT, like what type of binder I used at school and whether or not so-and-so talked to me at the football game.

This book is about the memory of Marlena – because, as you’ll find out on the front book jacket (no spoilers I promise!), Marlena dies within the year by drowning…at least that’s what the police believes. We are hearing flashbacks from adult-Cat, an NYC career woman with a fiancé and a dependence on martinis, as she reflects on her fifteen-year-old view of Marlena versus the current, adult perception.

Initially, Cat was so entranced by the seeming exoticism of Marlena’s life that she overlooked the darker, grimier aspects of it. Cat and Marlena’s intense bond stemmed from their mutual (and differing) demons. Like Cat, Marlena’s family was disjointed and dysfuntional – though to a much greater degree. Marlena’s father was involved in drug dealing and often left his younger son in the care of his daughter.  As their next door neighbor, Cat often witnessed the family’s comings and goings, and held a deep fascination with Marlena’s life – as a teenager, Cat found it exotic and adventurous and dangerous in an alluring way. As an adult, Cat realizes how truly horrific Marlena’s life actually was.

Cat, despite her facade of being street-wise, was actually incredibly naive. Despite spending virtually every day with Marlena, Cat didn’t fully understand the repercussions of Marlena’s strict pill schedule – an upper in the morning, a downer after lunch and dinner or whenever things were getting a little too tough – and her backpack version of a pharmacy.  It’s only when looking back, seventeen years after her death, that Cat begins to understand the gravity of Marlena’s life, and blames herself for her passive role in her death.

Despite the dark subject matter and age of the main characters, this book doesn’t delve into the schmaltzy or overwrought. The author is fully aware of the ease in which this book could dive into eye-roll inducing angst, but she cleverly avoids it with her chapters in the present day, when adult Cat reflects on the moodiness of her 15-year-old self:

Great loneliness, profound isolation, a cataclysmic, overpowering sense of being misunderstood. When does that kind of deep feeling just stop? Where does it go? At fifteen, the world ended over and over and over again. To be so young is a kind of self-violence. No foresight, an inflated sense of wisdom, and yet you’re still responsible for your mistakes.”

So, if you’re looking for a gritty, intense teenage drama with adult themes, this book is an intriguing choice.

…For a feminist and funny tale, check out:

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

What’s It All About?

Young Jane Young is a slightly lighter turn from Marlena, though it still packs a punch. Young Jane Young stars Aviva Grossman, an ambitious and intelligent Congressional intern in Florida who has an affair with her well-regarded but very married boss and blogs about it in the similar vein to Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. When the affair is exposed, the Congressman doesn’t get the blame, but Aviva does, and her political career self-destructs before it truly begins. She becomes a laughingstock of the political world and a slut-shamed ex-employee. Forced to reinvent herself in Maine, Aviva changes her name to Jane Young and starts over. However, as her daughter grows up and Jane again considers public service, her past comes back to haunt her once again.

Though this story line sounds like it could potentially become over dramatic and cheesy,  it doesn’t because Ms. Zevin is too talented of a writer to slip into those pitfalls. Instead, this book takes a heaping amount of humor and a perceptive outlook on the common human weaknesses we all have to write a feminist, realistic story of how we can never truly outlive our past. This novel also exposes the double standard and misogyny that politics (as well as a litany of other career paths) display toward its female employees. Lastly, the story makes us question our tendency to quickly judge people based on a headline or rumor, without examining or asking questions from the other side.

My favorite aspect of this novel was how the story was split amongst the different female characters of the story – Aviva, Aviva’s daughter Rachel, and the Congressman’s wife – and their different experiences as women in this story. Each woman is incredibly real, human, and flawed, which adds a dimension of realism to a story that could easily seem oversensational. The true message behind feminism, after all, is the appreciation of the different life experiences of all women, and this story brings that idea to the forefront.

…For a Mediteranean romance, try

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

What’s it All About?

Confession: I absolutely love books set in far away places, and I partially love this book just because it was set in the area of Italy where my husband and I went on our honeymoon. Cinque Terre is just as much of a dream in reality as it is in stories, friends! But there are other legitimate reasons to love this novel for an escape! The story begins in 1962 along the Italian coastline, where an American starlet checks into a cozy inn, seeking an escape during her final days.

The story also flashes forward to the present day, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot — searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

This book has an extensive and eclectic cast of characters (including Richard Burton of all people!) and plays with themes of a fantasy world vs reality, of “what could have been” versus “what life actually is.” Although it is a romance story at its heart, it is also about relationships between friends and family. The main character, Pasquale, is well developed and intriguing, and the story is a quick read without feeling too light or superficial.  Though there are definitely heavier and dramatic sections of this book, this novel really is a perfect weekend escape read.  

…For a deep family drama that will make your life feel “normal” (or boring) by comparison, read:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

What’s it All About?

Celeste Ng is a powerhouse author who had a blockbuster hit, Everything I Never Told You, a few years ago. She is known for her deep character studies of family life in suburban cities, and the hidden dramas all people have in the privacy of their two-story homes.

Her latest book, Little Fires Everywhere, was released on September 12 and seems to be another family drama smash hit. Set in the planned community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, this story opens with a house that has been burnt down, and then flashes back to the events leading up to the arson. It seems the main story centers around the children from two families – the Richardsons, who thrive on order and rules, and the Warrens, who rent their house from the Richardsons and throw rules out the window.

The four Richardson children are all fascinated with Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl – of their bohemian lifestyle of constant moves and art projects, of Mia’s combination of odd jobs and creative endeavors, of Pearl’s thrift shop threads and Mia’s mysterious past. Conversely, Pearl is attracted to the privileged stability of the Richardson’s home – their morning rituals, their spring break ski trips, their clean houses and weekly schedules.

This unlikely friendship between two families is threatened when a third family (who are friends with the Richardsons) attempts to adopt a Chinese-American baby, and Mia and Mrs. Richardson take opposing sides in the custody battle.  As a result, Elena Richardson begins to dig into Mia’s past – with dramatic consequences.

This book was a complete page turner for me, and kept me hooked from beginning to end. Moreover, it had a great balance of humor, social critique, and drama. I highly recommend!

Hope one of these books fits your reading personality. Don’t hesitate to let me and Hillary know what you think. Plus, now it’s your turn – what books do you recommend for a little escape from reality? Can’t wait to hear your suggestions!

Self Care Sunday!!

Happy Sunday Funday/Self Care Sunday!

Helloooo my Lovely Lioness Ladies!! How has your weekend been?  Mine has been pretty productive, which I”m pretty excited about!!

 

I’ve got ALL KINDS of new and wonderful things coming to the Site VERY SOON! SO GET EXCITED!!!!!!!!  Staring in October, which is today, can you believe it?!?! I SURE CAN’T!

So anyway! Our first order of business is a NEW posting schedule for the blog which will be as follows staring this month, not all at once so you don’t get overloaded and overwhelmed! But over the month of October ALL KINDS of new and lovely content will be right at your fingertips!::

  • Monday — Mommy Monday’s starting October 9th (Click on the “Mommy Mondays” tab to be considered as a Guest Mommy Blogger!

 

  • Tuesdays — Take a break Tuesdays, Something inspirational and short & sweet!!

 

  • Wednesday– Wednesday Wisdom ( I’ll post what I learned from the latest Research I’ve been reading, in an easy to understand kind of way!

 

  • Thursday — Bossfidence Column ( In case you didn’t know, I also write for another blog called Bossfidence —- “This generation of millennial boss babes refuses to fit that mold; they are bursting through the barriers with a rebel outcry with the need to have a seat at the table. Bossfidence is taking initiative and control of your destiny through entrepreneurship, thought leadership and relationship building.” -Ashley Dunham, Bossfidence Founder)

 

  • Friday – Feature Friday- For this day I will feature guest bloggers, plus reviews for TV Shows & Netflix reccommendations

 

  • Saturday – Saturday Stories will be guest blogging (open to anyone) If you need a safe space to tell your story and get encouragement in return. This will be perfect for you!!

 

  • Sunday – Self Care Sundays – Self Care Sundays will include suggestions from muah on how to take better care of yourself and some new and different ideas for accomplishing self care.

I Figured I would start today’s Self Care Sunday with the results from my “Quest for the Best Podcast” survey!!

I did a survey across many different platforms, asking for people’s favorite Podcasts. And BOY did I get some good responses!!

After getting so many suggestions, I decided to make a list of all the Podcasts I came up with to share with those of you who are just getting started in the Podcasts world and need some guidance on where to begin!! We’ll you’re in luck! I have come up with THE BEST list of Podcasts ever made EVER!!! 🙂

ALSO this evening in my Smart Lioness Pride group on Facebook (FREE) at 5:30 CST Laura Lee Stjernstrom from LL Yoga Online will be providing your with a FREE mini Meditation to get your week started off to a great start! One of the best forms of self care is Meditation! Make sure you join my group so you can tune in!! Just click here to Join my group!!

If you’re interested in joining Laura Lee’s online yoga group you can click here to contact her!

AND FINALLY, if you made it this far you deserve my list of the BEST Podcasts EVER! 🙂 Kidding, but there are all different kinds for all different folks!! Podcasts are good to help you relax as well as learn something new or just straight up entertain you!!

 

Now for your greatest list of Podcasts EVER!

 

1.) The Love Bomb                                                     2.) Anna Farris is Unqualified

3.) That’s So Retrograde                                            4.) Sword & Scale

5.) Brain Candy                                                           6.) How I Built This

7.) Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations                       8.) Girlboss

9.) Strong Opinions Loosely Held                             10.) Lady Gang

11.) Dear Sugars                                                       12.) Hidden Brain

13.) The Art of Charm                                                14.) Earn Your Happy

15.) Optimal Living Daily                                            16.) No Philter

17.) Goal Digger with Jenna Kutcher                         18.) Don’t Keep Your Day Job

19.) Dudesplaining                                                      20.) Gary Vee

21.) You Should Remember This                                22.) Chasing Glory with Lillian Garcia

23.) Being Boss                                                          24.) Off the Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe

25.) Revisionist History                                              26.) Bare Naked Bravery

27.) Tim Ferriss                                                         28.) Melyssa Griffin’s Pursuit with Purchase

29.) The Model Health Show                                    30.) Brendon Burchard

31.) Tony Robbins                                                     32.) The Hilarious World of Depression

33.) My Brother, My Brother, & Me                           34.) Hello from Magic Tavern

35.) The Flop House                                                36.) She Did it Her Way

37.) Stuff Mom Never Told You                               38.) Pantsuit Politics

39.) Betch Slapped                                                 40.) Almost 30

41.) Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me                                    42.) Curiosity

43.) S Town                                                              44.) Casefiles

45.) My Favorite Murder                                           46.) And That’s Why we Drink

47.) From the Front Porch                                        48.) What Should I Read Next

49.) Bitch Sesh                                                         50.) The School of Greatness

51.) Celia Cavalli                                                       52.) Tiny Leaps Big Changes

53.) Women Wanting More                                       54.) The Grift

55.) You Need A Budget                                           56.) Marie Forleo

57.) Loveline with Amber Rose (Rated R)                58.) Up First (NPR)

59.) Teaching in Higher Ed                                       60.) The Thread

61.) The Divided States of Women                          61.) Cults

62.) The Kremlin Playbook                                       63.) Dirty John

64.) Every Little Thing                                              65.) Mindshift Podcast

66.) Modern Love                                                    67.) The Morning Breath

68.) Death, Sex, & Money                                       70.) Pod Save America

71.) Strange Indeed                                                72.) Rough Translation

73.) Hollywood & Crime                                         74.) Secrets, Crimes, & Audiotapes

75.) Lore                                                                 76.) The Breakfast Club

77.) Selfie with Kristen Howerton & Sarah James

78.) The Good Life Project                                     79.) The Way I Heard it with Mike Rowe

80.) My Dad Wrote a Porno                                    81) Small Town Murder

82.) Sleep with Me: The Podcast that Puts You to Sleep

83.) The Nerdist                                                      84.) On Being with Krista Trippett

85.) Where Should We Begin                                 86.) Brains On!

87.) Still Processing                                                88.) Pop Culture Happy Hour

89.) The Brilliant Idiots                                            90.) Mama Bear Dares

91.) Motivated                                                         92.) Meditation Minis

93.) Not Too Deep with Grace Helbig                      94.) Sexplanations

95.) Simplify                                                             96.) Serial Killers

97.) TED Radio Hour                                                98.) The Butterfly Effect

99.) The Lively Show                                               100.) The Minds of Madness

 

To download a PDF copy of my list of Podcasts you can click here->    PodCast Quest Enjoy!!
Let me know in the comments which are your favorites or which ones you plan to try out!!