Book Review: Head First, a crash course in positivity

 

Steve Lawton is the type of guy that seconds after meeting him, you feel as if you’ve known him for years. He just makes you feel comfortable. I first met Steve about 20 years in 1996, when my sister and brother-in-law got married.  Steve is a fellow Aggie, like my brother-in-law Jay. Throughout the years, I would see Steve at various functions. A few years ago, my sister shared that Steve had been in a really bad skiing accident in Colorado and that Jay and another friend drove an RV out to bring him back to Texas. After hearing details of the accident, it is truly amazing how Steve survived. Just a few short years after the accident, Steve has shareIMG_5097d his story of positivity, resilience and determination in an appropriately titled book Head First: A Crash Course in Positivity. After finishing it, I can truly say what an inspirational book it was to read. I was reminded of how fast life can change and the role one’s attitude plays toward dealing with life’s surprises. Steve gives the reader 8 principles of how to maintain positivity when going through something negative or difficult.  His journey reminded me of my Dad’s philosophy: “There are problems and there are inconveniences. Learn the difference.” This is so true as we wall get caught up in dwelling on the little things and deeming our life to be over because we got a flat tire or our cable is out. I urge you to step back and reassess your priorities. When you see that your coffee mug leaked onto your back seat, sure it’s aggravating and makes you want to scream…..but is it a problem or
an inconvenience? Having cancer, an amputation or being stuck on a ski hill because of a fluke crash that cracked your helmet….those are problems. However, if you have the right attitude toward those problems, they can slowly teter toward an inconvenience. If you let it, the disease or problem can ruin your life. Don’t give it that much power.

If you liked the saying referenced above of my Dad’s, you can find out more information here. If you are interested in reading Steve’s book, which I hope all of you are, you can buy it on Amazon.  Follow Steve on Twitter: @stevehlawton.  IMG_3295

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Book Review: Murder on Moonshine Hill

I had the pleasure of reading this book in advance of its publish date.  I would encourage all of you to download it on August 23rd when it is released.  You will thoroughly enjoy the latest from Joan C. Curtis.  Here is my review:

Riveting and engaging from the start, Murder on Moonshine Hill is yet another book of Joan Curtis’ one can’t put down. Thrust back into the never dull life of Jenna Scali, the reader follows her along as Jenna reconnects with an old friend she hasn’t seen in years. Being invited to her wedding after years of being apart has Jenna curious enough to grab her go-to buddy Quentin and head for the mountains of North Carolina. The trip is full of mystery as she arrives at the somewhat secluded hotel for the weekend. What was intended to be a short trip quickly turned into a maze of questions and drama surrounding the surprise murder of someone in the immediate group.  Not one to shy away from a good scoop, Jenna goes into detective mode and grows closer to her friend in ways she didn’t see coming. This book keeps you guessing and glued to the story of friendship, murder, suspense and more. Well done Joan Curtis!

This book can be purchased on Amazon: //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=marystwocents-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01HWOR4J6&asins=B01HWOR4J6&linkId=2f005fe2004ad270b4c50de872e240cb&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066C0&bg_color=FFFFFF

Book Review: The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans

You know those obligatory functions and parties we are all invited to each holiday season where we (speaking as a single person) wish there wasn’t that awkward “Spouses or significant others are welcome” thrown out there? I’ve been at those parties where I am the only one who didn’t come with a date. Sometimes it bothers me…but for the most part, I go and have fun, not letting it take away from my enjoyment. My latest book review is on The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans. When it comes to the holidays, I’m a sucker for a sweet, love story. I love the season that is just about over…the season of warm holiday movies and curling up with a good book that grab at our heartstrings. No violence, no crude scenes and no foul language…just strong characters and excellently written plots that makes us not want to put the book down. This was one of those books. Evans designed a story of two characters from different worlds but yet who worked in the same building. Nicholas Derr is an attorney with a healthy income and Elise Dutton is an administrative assistant who is more conscientious of her money. Derr, a handsome individual, notices Elise on a few occasions but takes a while to get the courage to go up and talk to the woman who has intrigued him. After he finally introduces himself, he gets right to the point. Nick proposes that they be each other’s date to their various obligatory holiday functions and this will all commence on Christmas Eve. At first, Elise is not sure of this idea from a total stranger. But 24 hours later, he once again joins her for lunch and brings the requested “contract” with him showing he’s serious. After going over the terms, they agree but not before changing it to a “promise” instead of contract.  To them, it sounded better.  The story goes on and describes in detail the various events.  One of my favorite parts was how Evans created such a sweet, gentleman-like character in Nicholas.  Nick sends Elise a gift each day.  As the gifts get more extravagant, Elise tries to refuse but Nick persists that he wants to do these things.  The story gives me hope that chivalry is not dead…even if this is only fiction.  Other details unfold about Nick and Elise…..oh, and as to what happens after their “promise” is fulfilled…..guess you’ll just have to read the book and see.   Happy Reading!

Book Review: Forever Christmas by Robert Tate Miller

forever christmasThis is a wonderfully written story about a second chance at life.  Readers follow the couple Andrew and Beth Farmer along their journey.  Childhood sweethearts, Andrew and Beth have been married a long time.  We come to find out Andrew is also married to his job as a literary book agent.  Beth’s career fulfills her but doesn’t drive her like Andrew’s.  This puts a damper on Beth’s desire to have children.  Andrew is visited by an angel who tells him that he has 3 days to make things right before his life will dramatically change.  Prior to this, Andrew’s life is consumed with work and consequently puts his marriage second.  Now, Andrew shifts his priorities and devotes the next 3 days to his wife.  After telling her they can spend the next 72 hours wherever she wants, he never thought she’d say his home town of River Falls.  But because he made a promise, they go there.  While visiting, they run into old high school classmates who are now living in Andrew’s childhood home.  This brings back difficult memories for him but for Beth, he forges ahead.  Andrew also learns that his estranged father has moved back to River Falls and has resided in a nursing home.  Not wanting to have anything to do with him, Beth convinces him to at least go see his father.  Andrew finds that during the 3 days, various people are disguised as angels who remind him of what’s at stake and this causes an internal fight within Andrew.  During this time, he realizes what he has not appreciated in his life and wants to rekindle the love he has for his wife.  He wants to stall the inevitable but the angels silently tell him that’s not possible.

This is a beautiful story of love, forgiveness, support and teaches us to value what we have right in front of us because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Happy Reading!

Escaping the Office

I’ve always thought it would be fun to be one of those people who parked themselves at a coffee shop to work. Well, today I was one of those folks. Due to a last-minute addition to our on-campus interview schedule, I elected to vacate my office for a few hours this morning. After I was released from helping check in recruiters, I grabbed my purse and iPad and headed for a beloved spot on Campus Corner, Cafe Plaid. I walked in, found a booth I liked and then set my bag down. I went to the counter and ordered a vanilla latte and headed back to my booth. When the server brought over my drink, I couldn’t help but smile thinking, “I could get used to this.”

latte

In the background, there is chatter of two ladies catching up two booths down. In the booth next to me look like two professors doing research. They’ll occasionally look up from their laptops   to chat but for the most part are engrossed in whatever is on their screens. Music plays in the distance, probably to get the staff energized for the looming lunch crowd. Even though there are many empty tables and chairs, this is still a great place to people watch.

One of my “dream jobs” (you know those “Oh wouldn’t that be cool but not 100% realistic) is to be a writer….whether I write for a newspaper or possibly a non-fiction book. I could easily see myself coming armed with a charged computer, grabbing a large coffee and settling in to get work done.

For now, I’ll enjoy the fact that I got to escape the office for a little bit…no office phone, no one popping in…just me, my iPad and coffee.

Where Azaleas Bloom by Sherryl Woods

I am one of those people who finds reading an outlet, a way of escaping into wherever the writer intended.  I have great respect and appreciation for writers who can do this successfully.  One of my favorite writers is Sherryl Woods.  One of Woods’ series is the Sweet Magnolias series that focuses on a group of good women friends who are there for each other through thick and thin.  They are famous for their “Margarita Nights.”  When a certain friend has a good or bad day, they immediately are on the phone and making the arrangements.  This particular book’s plot revolves around Lynn and Mitch.  Lynn is going through a divorce and barely able to put food on the table and support her two kids.  Mitch is a widowed contractor whose kids are grown.  Mitch and Lynn have known each other since they were young and are finding out the attraction for each other still there.  Mitch is one of those stand-up guys-thoughtful and genuine…I mean, who asks what you’d do with an unlimited budget for your backyard one day and then brings a landscaping crew to your house the next??   These types of guys are not easy to find….trust me, I’m trying to find one myself.   

So, thank you, Sherryl…for creating this outlet for me….but it sure would be nice to have my own Mitch.

The Power of the Pause

Thanks to someone’s post on Twitter, I discovered a link to a recent commencement address by Maria Shriver to Communications graduates of USC. Click here to listen and watch the whole address.  As always, she did a great job as she is such an eloquent speaker.  The focus of her message and advice to the graduates was simply to take a moment to pause in your life.  “Here you go, ready to hit the fast forward button, trying to get all the answers to the questions.  But before you do this, I am hoping and praying you have the courage to press the Pause button, yes, that’s right…the Pause button.”  After I heard this, I smiled and thought to myself how simple yet powerful her words were and how so many of us need to hear that over and over again.  We go racing through the events in our life, not taking time to enjoy what’s happening right now because we are so busy planning what’s next. 

I closed on my first house this past Friday. There have already been times I’ve thought about what all I need to pack, what date do I want to make as a target to move in, what all I want done before I move in, etc… After watching Maria’s speech, I want to enjoy this process…not make it stressful.  Frankly, the most stressful part is behind me with the closing process.  The house is mine and it’s not going anywhere.  I have plenty of time to move in and clean out my apartment.  Each time I go over to the new house to clean or check on something, I pause and take the time to realize what an exciting time this is for me. 

One of my favorite lines from her speech, though there are many, is the following: “Pausing today, and throughout your entire life, allows you to take a breath. It allows you to take a beat.  It allows you to be in the moment.” 

So often we hear the saying “Cherish the little things” and sometimes we just roll our eyes and don’t fully appreciate the true meaning of that phrase.  Those “little things” frequently lead to big things so thanks to Maria, I plan to not worry about what’s to come, all the packing that needs to be done.  I plan to be in the moment and take things one day at a time.  I plan to pause and be grateful that I have this opportunity.  I hope you all do the same.

Sincerely,
Hitting the Pause Button in Norman…