What Would Make You Happy?

On the heels of reading seven books in June, I took a step back in July and “only” read five books. I’d let the pressure of reading books so I could blog about them get too much of a hold on my life. That’s why I planned to not read as much in July. That didn’t work out very well, but I did start taking a closer look at the types of books I was reading and wanted or needed to read.

If you read my August blog posts, you know there wasn’t a fluffy beach read in the bunch. In fact, there wasn’t a novel in the five, and they were all about serious and sobering topics.

Photo credit: John Mark Smith on unsplash.com

September and October came along and most of my reading was dictated by the writing course I was taking. For two months, I read what I had to read or needed to read. It didn’t leave any time to read what I wanted to read, although I did start reading The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, by Peter Frankopan. It’s not a book that can be read quickly.

Reading is important for a writer; however, writing needs to be more of a focus for me now. I’ve procrastinated and let reading take too much of my time the last couple of years. I don’t regret reading any of the books I read, but I’ll never finish writing my novel at this rate!

What would make me happy?

About six weeks ago, I took time to discern what will make me happy. The things I came up with were (1) to work on my book; (2) to work on my genealogy; and (3) to get back to sewing and quilting. I haven’t sewn in going on two years now. I hope I can remember how to turn on the sewing machine. I have tubs of fabric that need to be turned into gifts or quilts and other household items.

The fourth item on my list is to get back to playing the mountain dulcimer. I should play it every day. I haven’t touched it in months. I hope my muscle memory kicks in when I take it out of its case today. I’m not very good at it. The reasons for that are (1) I’m not musically-talented and (2) I don’t put much time into it.

The Gifts of Imperfection, by Dr. Brene Brown

I recently reread The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown. It reminded me not to be so hard on myself and not to worry about what other people think of me. I listened to her book, Rising Strong, and it inspired me to be brave. That’s what finally prompted me to hire a professional editor to critique the first 50 pages of my novel. (See my July 12, 2021 blog post, 4 Other Books I Read in June 2021 and my July 26, 2021 blog post, How My First 50 Pages Stood up for Critique.)

Rising Strong, by Dr. Brene Brown

I’d been working on today’s blog post early in July, when I read Barbara Strickland’s July 11 blog post: Limit the Limits – Barbara Strickland – Author & Blogger (brstrickland.com. After reading an article in LinkedIn, Barbara blogged about a methodical way to figure out what your dreams are.

Her post sort of dovetailed with what I was writing four months ago that ended up being postponed until today. She looked at her list of dreams from a view of practicality. I didn’t have to consciously do that when I made my list because it’s not my nature to dream about doing or having things I can’t afford or don’t have the health to do.

Taking stock on this milestone year

I graduated from high school 50 years ago. There. I’ve said it. Do the math. Yes, I’m 68 years old.

Photo credit: Zoltan Tasi on unsplash.com

There’s something jolting about admitting I graduated from high school 50 years ago. I don’t know what it is about those anniversary years that end in a zero. I was not prompted to take stock of my life last year, 49 years after my graduation.

Our 50-year high school reunion was planned for last month but had to be postponed until sometime next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

I was in a class of 191. At least 33 of my classmates have died. Talk about a sobering thought! More than one of those were special, lifelong friends of mine.

Assessing my blog topics

Once in a while, I need to take a step back and evaluate my life – how I’m spending my time, what I’m accomplishing, what I’m doing to benefit others, and what I’m doing to improve myself. This is one of those times, so please bear with me.

This is supposed to be my writing blog. My reading is important and integral to my writing; however, since the Covid-19 pandemic started, I haven’t written much about my journey as a writer until this summer when I decided to get the first 50 pages of my novel manuscript critiqued by an editor.

A blog is supposed to serve a purpose. It’s supposed to benefit the reader. I hope my continued journey as a writer will serve as fodder for my future blog posts and those posts will enlighten or entertain you in some way. Otherwise, you don’t have any reason to keep reading my blog.

No pressure there!

Photo credit: Daniel Thomas on unsplash.com

There are many things I enjoy about blogging. Over the years, I’ve developed friendly relationships with a few readers. They live all around the world. Many of them have opened my eyes to things I didn’t know. They’ve helped me understand different perspectives. They have enriched my life. I will never meet them except via the internet.

People in 20 countries visited my blog the last week in October. Since I started my blog, people in 144 countries and territories have looked at it. That is surprising, gratifying, and a bit scary.

I never know what’s going to strike a chord with readers. When I have a reader from China or some countries in Africa, it especially catches my attention and I feel a heightened sense of responsibility.

I appreciate your taking time to read my blog. I’ll try not to let you down.


Since my last blog post

Here in North Carolina, we raced right through autumn last week and jumped into winter. There was snow in the higher mountains in the state and our county had a freeze warning. It just doesn’t seem quite right to have a freeze warning before having a frost warning, but that’s life in North Carolina.

Photo credit: Janet Morrison

I’m still decluttering my home in hopes of making space for more creativity and less stress.


Until my next blog post

Have you assessed your life lately? What would make you happy? What’s missing in your life? What are you waiting for?

I hope you have at least one good book to read.

I hope you’re happy and have everything you need.

Janet

More Great September Reads

Last Monday I blogged (Some Great September Reads) about five of the nine books I read in September. Today I’ll tell you about the other four books I read.

The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman

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The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. I chose it to fulfill an item on my 2017 Reading Challenge – a book set in Australia in the 1920s. It was published in 2012, so I’m a little slow getting around to it.

The Light Between Oceans is a story about good people making bad decisions for all the right reasons. Tom and Isabel Sherbourne live alone on a remote Australian island where Tom is the lighthouse keeper. Their world is turned upside down the day a boat washes up on the shore. In the boat are a man’s body and a wee baby.

Isabel has been unable to carry a baby to full-term, and her multiple miscarriages have taken an emotional toll on her and on tom. Do they keep the baby and claim it is their own, or do they report the incident and risk having to return the baby girl to her biological mother?

The Gifts of Imperfection, by Dr. Brené Brown

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The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.

My niece recently introduced me to the writings of Dr. Brené Brown. In September I read her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. Dr. Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston. She has studied courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame for 16 years.

I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Brown speak in Charlotte on September 14, thanks to my niece. It was a wonderful evening. Dr. Brown “tells it like it is,” as the saying goes.

Here’s a quote from the book I read:

“The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites.” – Dr. Brené Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection

I look forward to reading other books by Dr. Brown.

The Saboteur, by Andrew Gross

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The Saboteur, by Andrew Gross

I rarely listen to a book on CD but, as I mentioned in my blog last week, I listened to The Saboteur, by Andrew Gross. It is a thriller based on a true story about a mission by The Allies in 1943 to destroy a “heavy water” laboratory the Germans had built in Norway. “Heavy water” is another name for a hydrogen isotope called deuterium oxide. Germany needed to produce just a small additional amount of heavy water in order to have enough to make an atomic bomb.

The Allies and the Germans were both trying to create an atomic bomb. If this German plant in Norway was not destroyed, the Germans could have developed the atomic bomb first and won World War II. To say that would have changed the course of history would be a vast understatement.

The descriptions of the training and experiences this team of Allies had – which included traversing on skis and surviving in dangerously cold conditions – reminded me of a 91-year-old friend of mine. He served in the United States Army, 10th Mountain Division in Europe in World War II.

The Saboteur is the second of Andrew Gross’s historical thrillers I’ve read. Having read The One Man, I expected to enjoy The Saboteur. I was not disappointed.

Gone Without a Trace, by Mary Torjussen

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Gone Without a Trace, by Mary Torjussen

Gone Without a Trace is Mary Torjusussen’s debut novel. From the blurb on the back of the book, I thought I knew what I was getting into by checking it out from the public library; however, this book was full of surprises.

This is a psychological thriller that turned out to be about domestic abuse, but it takes an unexpected slant on the subject. Is one of the main characters suffering from mental illness or is someone trying to make her think she or he is? I’ll just leave it at that. If you like psychological thrillers, I think you’ll like this one.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m still reading Love and Other Consolation Prizes, by Jamie Ford and listening to A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles on CD.­­­­­­­

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Janet