Watching Glass Shatter: A Book Review, A Conversation and Breaking News!

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Welcome, to the Watching Glass Shatter Blog Tour!!

Today we celebrate the debut novel by James J. Cudney

 

 

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Book Review

Watching Glass Shatter

James J. Cudney

4.5/5 stars

Most first time novelists will keep their story simple and the number of characters to a minimum, in order to manage the task of development and continuity within the narrative. This strategy makes perfect sense and has been successfully employed, many times, by young writers looking to produce a strong, first effort.  Numerous moving parts can be difficult to pull off even for seasoned writers, so many debut novels will be lacking a particular depth, or breadth, within the story itself.  James J. Cudney boldly ignored that safe path and crafted a story full of colorful, flawed and relatable people who have, not only their own demons to wrestle, but issues to resolve that affect the future of their entire family.

Watching Glass Shatter revolves around Olivia, the proper and controlling matriarch of the Glass family who, until the death of her husband, has been under the assumption that all was well with her five sons and their respective families. The sudden and unexpected death of the beloved Ben, husband and father of the Glass clan, throws the presumed perfect family into an uncertain future, one that neither the sons nor Olivia are prepared to handle. What will become of the family business and legacy? How will Olivia move on without her husband of 40 years? The reading of Ben’s will only presents more problems as two mysterious letters are bequeathed to Olivia, and she alone controls the power held within those pages, knowledge that will forever change the dynamics of the Glass family. She has some tough choices to make regarding the son Ben speaks of in those letters. Which of her 5 sons will have his world come crashing down?

Cudney weaves the story lines of these many characters together brilliantly. The first few chapters are a lot for the reader to absorb as each new family member is introduced, but soon you will find yourself wondering what will happen next to Olivia and her sons Caleb, Teddy, Ethan, Matthew and Zachary, as Cudney draws you further into the Glass family dynamics. The cliffhangers are well timed, as is the overall pace of the story. There is no dull moment, there are twists and turns and unexpected, even tragic, revelations.

Watching Glass Shatter is the first effort for James J. Cudney and his writing will only elevate as he evolves into a more seasoned story teller, and I can’t wait for his next  publication. I highly recommend Watching Glass Shatter.

Book Purchase

  • Available in both electronic form (PDF, MOBI or ePub) and physical form
  • Buy @ Amazon

 

A Conversation with the Author

James was gracious enough to answer some questions that I had after finishing the book. I wanted more time with the Glass family, so much had happened and a few of the unresolved issues were niggling at my brain!

Q: Where did the inspiration come from for the characters in the Glass family?

A: “Completely made up as I am an only child…I am detail oriented, so I just kept pushing myself to think of relatable people we all knew on some level.”

I then began asking very specific questions to which James answered quite honestly.

I wanted to know more about the contents of the second letter and its impact on the other family members.

Will the Glass men resolve their problems or will they go off course again?

Has Olivia really changed her controlling ways or does she fall back into her old habits?

And, so many more! I can’t include them here as they are huge spoiler alerts and I am not going to ruin the story for anyone! However, I did mange to get some news out of him that he will allow me to share now, with you!

BREAKING NEWS:

James will be publishing a sequel to Watching Glass Shatter!!! The timeline will be announce in early 2018!

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Now we will all get to see what happens to the Glass family, thank you James!!

 

 

 

Be sure to follow James on the rest of his blog tour by clicking here for daily post updates.

 

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More fun ways to support James!

Giveaways

  • Jina @ Author Inspiration is hosting a GIVEAWAY for a free e-copy of the book. Feel free to share her post; you can see the guidelines and enter here.
  • I will announce a Goodreads Giveaway free signed physical copy available for entry from 11/10 thru 11/30.

Goodreads Debut Author Award Nominations (By 11/5)

  • If you want to vote for Watching Glass Shatter in the Goodreads Choice 2017 Book Awards, the book is eligible for many categories, including as a write-in vote for ‘Debut Goodreads Author.’ You can vote here for Round 1 by 11/5 by scrolling to the bottom and entering in Watching Glass Shatter, then clicking Submit.

Favorite Character Poll

  • Enter the poll to choose your favorite character thru 11/20. You can choose from all the major family members or submit your own write-in vote.

Subscribe to Newsletter

  • Subscribe to my newsletter to receive special content and plans for 2018.

 

I am sure you will all join me in congratulating James on this tremendous accomplishment! 

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Have You Read Jay’s Novel Yet?

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Our very own James J. Cudney has written his debut novel, “Watching Glass Shatter”. The moment I read the synopsis, I knew I had to get involved!

From Jay’s website: This is my truth now

Book Summary

A contemporary fiction novel focusing on a New England family’s drama set in current times. The wealthy Glass family has lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. But it is Olivia who receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family.

Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia needs to figure out which boy Ben is referring to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney is searching for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. But when Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her.

Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life altering, but she will not rest until she is able to bring her family back together after Ben’s untimely death. Will she be able to fix them or will the whole family implode? We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re a mix of quirky fun!

I knew this was going to be good, but I didn’t realize how much I would be drawn into the story from the first chapter! Jay is clearly a talented story teller and, while my version was purchased before further editing, I am confident that any literary alterations will only enhance an already superior body of work.

Jay will be starting a blog tour to promote his novel and I am honored to say the Invisible No More will his first stop! I want to encourage you all to read “Watching Glass Shatter” before he kicks off  the tour so we can all talk about the story, appreciate his interviews and we can all say “we knew him when”!

I purchased his ebook from Amazon, it is currently only available in this format. I don’t own a Kindle but Amazon has a free Kindle reader app which can be downloaded so you can start enjoying the story right away! It was easy to install and worked great, I am now reading his novel on my iPad.

Here is the link to purchase the book: Watching Glass Shatter

I will be posting a full review prior to the blog tour kick off, the schedule is below.

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You are going to be hearing a lot about this next month, so why not get a head start and see what all the (much deserved) hype is all about!

 

Netgalley Book Review: The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book Review: Netgalley

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The Wife Between Us

Greer Hendicks, Sarah Pekkanen

4.5/5 stars

 

When Netgalley suggested that I would like The Wife Between Us based on my preferences and past reviews in the Mystery & Thrillers genre, I thought how predictable. Another novel about cheating, lying and infidelity, haven’t I read this so many times before? Then I took a look at their description that read

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.

You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.

You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.

You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.

You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.

 

Assume nothing.

I was intrigued so I dove into the story of Vanessa, the wife who had been cast aside, Emma, her replacement and Richard, the man at the center of it all. The first third of the story moved along well and I was definitely interested in these characters but I felt that all my prior assumptions were well in place and had yet to be challenged. For all practical purposes this appeared to be the story of a jealous wife. Still the authors expertly conveyed Vanessa’s pain, which was so palpable and relatable, that I wanted to know more about how her marriage fell apart. I was sure that my review would have to contain a warning to those who have suffered the deep ache and torment of infidelity in their own lives to, perhaps, steel oneself in order to read this intensely accurate portrait of betrayal that Vanessa had to endure. But, as the description above promised, the narrative takes a dramatic and unexpected twist in Part II of the novel. Although I felt this was slightly clumsy and a tad awkward in execution (perhaps that was the intention of the authors?) it was nonetheless extremely effective and totally unexpected.

As Part II progressed and morphed into Part III of the story the twists kept coming, right up to the final page and I found myself altering my initial proclamation. Whereas I previously had concern for survivors of adultery and may have warned them to wait for the pain to lessen before reading The Wife Between Us, I now realize, if you have been at the loosing end of an affair, then you should, and need to read this book! I love the ending and the feeling I was left with as I imagine how the lives of all three characters would unfold as they move forward.

I absolutely recommend this book and hope to watch the movie someday, as I believe it would make a great suspense story, akin to Gone Girl. This story will take you places you had not thought of and will leave you thinking, “What just happened”? That is the most I can ask of a good book!

Netgalley Book Review: Enigma, by Catherine Coulter

It has been quite awhile since I did a book review, and this is not the normal self-help, midlife crisis tome I usually post in this category. However, I did read Enigma from my Netgalley shelf and felt like it was worth sharing the review with you good people. Please let me know if this is something you would, or would not like to see, in the future as I will be penning more reviews for Netgalley in the Mystery & Suspense genre. Thanks!

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Book Review Netgalley

 

Catherine Coulter

Enigma (21st in the Savich & Sherlock series)

3.5/5

 

I have been reading the Mystery & Suspense genre for 30+ years and it is still by far my favorite category. I enjoy the puzzle that is laid out by the author, tempting the reader to figure out what information is important and how the story will unfold. The downside to having read such a large sample size of this sector is that very little surprises me anymore. The plot twists are generally anticipated, the foreshadowing is upfront and fairly blatant and common themes are oft repeated. All the above applies to my experience with Catherine Coulter’s latest installment of her FBI Thriller series, Enigma. I was drawn to this novel for two main reasons. First, I have read Coulter’s previous works and found them to be entertaining and secondly, any cover with a DNA molecule grabs my attention. I am a molecular biologist and am often curious as to how the author will handle some of the more complicated and nuanced details with respect to genetics and disease.

Enigma opens with a hostage situation where an apparent mad man has entered the home of a pregnant woman, Kara Moody, and holds her against her will. While engaged in a stand off with the local police, FBI Special Agent Dillion Savich manages to single handedly save Ms. Moody setting up the first of the common themes I mentioned earlier. The audience learns that Agent Savich is not just merely an agent but a super hero with extraordinary skills, and of course the head of the local police department feels threatened by his innate talents and they do not get along in the face of Savich’s incredible negotiating skills and expert marksmanship. The old feds vs local cops, is the first of our common themes shared by most of the novels in this genre. The abduction appears to be just a peripheral event but the savvy reader knows that this will be woven into a larger storyline as the novel unfolds.

In parallel to this occurrence a high profile inmate has orchestrated an escape during a prison transfer. He is, of course, exceptionally cunning, manipulative, violent and attractive. This sets up the need for a special team of brilliant, and attractive agents to track this monster, forming the basis of the next common theme: everyone is exceptionally smart and beautiful. Of course two agents are selected to work together for the first time to track the madman in the heavily wooded and remote forest. The agents are about the same age, both have a strong and complementary skill set, are single and one is male and the other a female. Convientlty setting up the next common theme: Will they or won’t they?

Quickly we learn that Kara Moody and this young man are pawns of, you guessed it, a grander more sinister game. Which is orchestrated by a brilliant, yet evil genius with apparent unlimited wealth. Common theme number four: the bad guy always has unlimited liquid assets at his evil genius disposal.

Both story lines are compelling and Coulter weaves them together brilliantly. The cliffhangers from one chapter to the next are expertly crafted, and I enjoyed learning the fate of each beautiful, talented, brilliant character. One such transition occurred in chapter 11 which took me by surprise. An unexpected plot twist that I did not see on the horizon! Another area that Coulter excels at is constructing strong female roles in high-ranking positions, which I do appreciate. I was particularly fond of Kim, the teenager as she was a pleasant change of pace in the storyline.

As for the human genetics component, it was hit and miss for me. Yes HLA genes are contained on the human chromosome number 6, but a single inversion event would not explain the toxic tolerance by the systemic response. More importantly, it would most likely not be inherited in the offspring, which is why a parent is often not a suitable organ donor for their own child. There is no amount of evil genius, or disposable income that could make this happen! And, I don’t believe that hardened experienced FBI agents would be sitting around, after what they had just endured, and have a politically correct discussion on the merits of DNA testing like the one that occurred in the novel.

Common, predictable themes and nitpicky genetics aside I do recommend this book! I was entertained and surprised once. That means it was well worth my time and money.

6 Remedies for a Midlife Crisis

Make it Ulta, a psychology blog posted an article that I wrote on coping strategies for midlife. If you are interested, you can read it here:
https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/49689215/posts/1306563942
I really respect this blog and its mission, I am honored to be a contributor as they address a number of important issues. Be sure to check them out!

Gratitude for Attitude, Day 21 Update!

gratitudeI decided to not reblog my daily gratitude challenge so that I would avoid filling up your feed with a ton of my personal responses. Instead I am opting for periodic updates, such as this one!

It is day 21 of my 30 day challenge, heading into the homestretch! I have been doing a good job keeping on track but did miss one day when I was posting in other categories. I am still worried about posting while we are in Mexico, I don’t know how my internet will be while we are there, and day #26 will be a long travel day. I will try to finish this challenge!

Day #21

The prompt today is “what song are you grateful for?” Hum, I don’t have a song, but I am grateful for Pandora. When I began running I didn’t listen to music. I used that time to organize my thoughts and sort through feelings, often unpleasant ones, and focused on pounding and purging those sad, hurt and painful emotions out of my consciousness. Honestly, some of my longest and fastest runs were when those emotions were at their strongest, and most agonizing. I always felt better after my workout but, perhaps that was not the best therapy for my mental health. I loaded Pandora onto my phone and found the Def Leppard radio station, along with classic 80’s rock platform (I’m old, remember!) and found that running with music helped me to finish my work out and have a more positive outlook. I still use running to work through the same issues, but now have a way to turn the noise down when it becomes truly difficult. So, I am grateful for the music technology that brings the songs to me on the go!

Day #1

When I woke up this morning the first thing I smell is coffee brewing. Today I was extremely grateful for the odor of fresh brewed coffee made by my husband! He rises early to catch the stock market before it opens (so we are talking 5am in the Pacific Northwest). I am always grateful that he makes a wonderful ,strong pot of coffee for me when I get up!

Day #2

This is a tough one! This is like picking your favorite child (which I don’t recommend doing!). I am grateful for both my cell phone and my computer. My cell phone keeps me connected to my kids and helps me keep track of my life, perhaps I am too dependent on this particular technology.  My computer is invaluable for entertainment, blogging and information.  I am grateful that there are innovative minds out there helping me navigate my world and keeping me connected to all of you!

Day #3

Today’s prompt is “what color are you grateful for today?” For me, this is ocean blue. When I am stressed or upset and need to refocus and calm myself, the image of the ocean waves on a warm sandy beach is my “happy place”.  I don’t live close to the ocean, in fact its about a 3 hour drive with no traffic-and there is always traffic! I am close to many rivers or lakes and find that most bodies of water help to calm me and realigns my attitude. I hope, one day, to live closer to the ocean itself, perhaps a home with an ocean view, that is a dream that makes me happy!

Day # 4

What food am I grateful for? This will sound odd but I am grateful for solid food! I grew up with a genetic anomaly that affected my colon. I really suffered from age 13 until I was 42 and met the doctor that would change my life -no exaggeration here! It took medicine 30 years to catch up to this ailment and I spent the majority of those three decades eating soup, broth and a few other foods that did not hurt! So, today I am grateful for all the spicy, meaty, cheesy goodness that I can partake of like all the rest of the world! And, grateful for a doctor who went into the oh so glamours field of gastroenterology!

Day #5

It’s day five of “Gratitude for Attitude” and January 1st. What sound am I grateful for? Well, I drank and ate a lot last night during New Years eve, so I was awake a good portion of the night trying to sleep but my body was processing my excess indulgence and sleep was not going to happen. I did hear my husband softly breathing next to me which usually irritates me that he can sleep so easily! But, this morning I realize just how much I would miss that sound if he were not there. How many nights have I lay struggling to sleep and found his quite, slow inhale and exhale comforting? Too many to count! The few nights we have been apart, recently for his work travel, have reminded me how hard it would be if he were not there, laying next to me. I am grateful he is in my life, and still here to enjoy the future with me. I am resolving, on this first day of the New Year, to be grateful for is presence, even when he can sleep and I can not!

Day #6

I guess I already spoke about the ocean and what it means to me in day #3-I did not read ahead to today’s prompt which is “What in nature are you grateful for today?” I could easily reiterate how much the ocean and flowing bodies of water mean to me, and that would be a true statement of gratitude! But I guess I will cheat here a bit and include another aspect of nature that makes me happy and fulfilled, and that would be hiking in the woods and rock climbing outdoors. Our son is a rock climbing instructor and hiking and climbing often mean spending time with him. I cherish the time I spend with my husband, daughter and son and being active with them, running, climbing and hiking outdoors and, in nature, feed my soul. I miss this specific outdoor interactions with them, but when I can’t be with those whom I love, I still find peace and happiness when I am alone hiking through the woods, sitting by the ocean or running along the river. I am grateful to have these happy connections to draw from when times are tough!

Day #7

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It’s been a week so far and I have been doing a pretty good job keeping up with the prompts. Some have been really easy, day #2 for example. Others like today: “What memory are you grateful for?” are considerably more challenging. Not because I don’t have any amazing memories, but because I am a parent. Every mother knows that there are so many incredible milestones that you are privileged to witness as your children arrive into adulthood. I am grateful to have lived long enough to be an active participant and have a front row seat to many such achievements. It is too hard to pick just one!

I am blessed with two healthy and talented children and one of the memories I am grateful for was the opportunity to see my daughter win the state gymnastic championship when she was 8 years old (the next four state championships wins were really special too!). The look on her face when they hung the 1st place medal around her neck, after all the hard work and practice she had put in, was one of the most prideful moments my husband and I have shared with her. She beamed for a week! Another close rival for that coveted “grateful memory” award came during my son’s senior year of high school. He is a gifted clarinetist and was a performer in orchestra, the high school symphony and wind ensemble and was the principle clarinet for the Bellevue Youth Symphony here is Washington State. Each of these groups bestow a year-end award to a special musician and is either awarded by the peers or the music director/conductor. I sat in awe as my son’s name was announced at each end of year concert. He had been recognized and honored by every ensemble and was so proud, as were his parents!

These are the moments and memories that I am grateful for today! What are yours?

Day #8

When I first read the “what book are you grateful for?” prompt, I was completely overwhelmed. How could I possibly choose just one book! I started mentally reviewing all the great novels, autobiographies, true crime, mystery series……then it hit me. I am grateful that there are still book stores where I can grab a cup of coffee and spend hours perusing actual books! Not E-readers, nooks or kindles, but actual hard backs and paperback editions. I don’t read on my electronic devices, I want to curl up with an actual book, by the fire with that cup of coffee. I want to use a book mark or highlight a fact or passage that speaks to me. I may be in the minority here, and I am ok with that, what I am not ok with is the loss of choice. When Borders went out of business I was terrified that all other brick and mortar bookstores would follow suit. I try to buy from small businesses and Barnes and Noble as much as possible to do my small part in maintaining my future options. Long live the hardback!

Day #9

Today’s prompt: What place am I grateful for?

I am going with a place that is a composite of every beach scene I have encountered. Its my “happy place”. The space that I envision if I am practicing yoga, meditating or attempting to still my mind. It looks something like this:

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In my mind the waves are making a beautiful, powerful sound, the wind is gently blowing and I can feel the sun on my face.

I am fortunate enough to have travelled to some amazing places and this imagery always comforts me and takes me back to a place where I feel safe, loved and protected.

I am grateful for nature!

 

 

Day #10

I am moving into the middle of the challenge now!

Day 10 asks “What taste are you grateful for today?”The molecular biologist in me automatically goes to the sour, sweet, salty and bitter taste bud options. But I think the intent of this prompt is supposed to be more emotional based, so I will respect the spirit of the question and go with coffee! I came to coffee drinking later in life, around the age of 25, when I was in graduate school. I had and hour and half to two hour drive each way while living in Southern California. I was exhausted and needed some sort of help staying awake while commuting at 4am and working in a demanding doctoral program. So, I had my first cup and I still remember that moment today! It was amazing, the taste, the energy, I thought “now I can get through this!”. Two years into that program I had my first child, 17 months later my second child, 6 months after that I defended my doctoral thesis-and needed coffee the whole time (minus gestation and lactation time of course!). I am still excited to taste that first cup of coffee in the morning and have been back in the Seattle area for the last 20 years- a perfect match!

Day #11

What holiday am I grateful for? They each have their own unique qualities that I enjoy, but I think I will go with Thanksgiving. I really enjoy having the food, family and fun without the pressure to buy presents! We have a very traditional day with all the standard dishes, which are great. But for me the best day is the day after Thanksgiving. I get to lay around in my pjs, watch football (all day) and then eat wonderful leftovers!

Day #12

The texture that I am most grateful for is that of paper. I know, I keep talking about books! I recently was not able to choose the stories and novels that I enjoy the most as I was reading other material. It reminded me of how much I crave and really need that time to connect with a good book. “A good book” as any writing that is important to you! Don’t let others judge or dictated what they deem worthy of your time! It is none of their business what you enjoy reading! I have been made to feel bad about my literary choices to the point of where I would conceal my books and read only when I was alone. It took time for me to realize that this person had no right to make me feel this way, but it’s hard to set aside  harsh judgements from those we love. It is a struggle to this day, but I am grateful that there are still books to hold, read and enjoy!

Day 13#

“What ability am I grateful for today?”I think the timing of this entry is quite apropos as I just finished a three mile run.  Well, more like a three mile hobble! I am running with an injury and was so irritated that I could not go faster or farther today. I was down and discouraged by the slow healing timeline for this nagging damage in my calf. I was feeling worried because I am scheduled to start my half marathon training next month. I grumbled to myself all through my shower about how long this is taking to heal. Then I sat down to look at my daily “gratitude for attitude”prompt and realized that I am grateful to be running at all, or walking for that matter! So many others would love to have the mobility and the opportunity to be healthy enough to even consider entering a half marathon. I should be focusing on what I can do, what my abilities are and as opposed to what they are not! And, this is why I am doing a daily gratitude challenge-so I remember what is truly important!

Day #14

What sight am I grateful for? Our kids are young adults, 22 and 20 years of age. They have school, work, friends and hobbies. They are close, not just in age, but as friends as well. They rock climb with a group of friends, the go to Dairy Queen to eat blizzards and they lead busy lives. The sight I am most grateful for is the rare moment when all four of us are home together, just eating dinner, watching a movie or talking about our day. It is a sight I took for granted when they were younger, because we had plenty of time together back then.  I cherish these moments now that they are so few and far between!

Day #15

I am most grateful of Fall.  I have been a student and professor for my entire life. Fall for me is the start of the year where I am gearing up for classes. Either teaching them, taking them or, when my kids were in K-12, preparing my children for the start of the school year. I know January is linked to renewal and resolutions, but for me, September was that “fresh start”. This was the time when all things were possible, when I was going to be more organized (supposedly) and it meant that a new 9 month list of deadlines, assignments and test schedules began. There is a surge of energy that always will be linked to Fall. And Football is back baby!!

Day #16

Is this a trick question! Who asks a woman what she likes about her body? Well, I am going to go with strength. I am grateful for my body’s mobility and it’s abilities. I have run two half marathons (two more planned next year), rock climbed both indoors and outdoors (I’m climbing at about a 10.d/ 11a/b level inside and much lower grade outside!) and I do yoga regularly. I need  this exercise to survive my everyday life and really feel the absence of endorphins on the days I cannot be active. My knees ache, my left calf spasm all the time, my shoulders pop and crack but I will never give up! I am lucky to be able to do all these activities and truly appreciate my body’s ability to keep up with my mind!

Day #17

Today’s prompt: What knowledge are you grateful for? I recently found myself in the very real possibility of loosing connection with some extremely important people in my life. They have been my family for the last three decades and severing that connection looked like a certainty. You never realize how much time you will have with someone and my time was rapidly running out. I took the time to write a letter to each person letting them know what they have meant to me, my children and my life. I am grateful for the knowledge that  they know how I feel about them moving forward, no matter what happens in the future.

Day #18

My “piece of art” is really the entire genre of classical music. My son studies classical clarinet performance in college, and there were many moments during his k-12 years when my husband and I did not know if our son would even go to college. We are in one of those school districts that are very challenging. Our son does not fit the traditional math, science, reading curriculum. He is artistic and loved classical music and history, which were the subject he excelled and not the subjects covered on standardized tests. He struggled because his gifts were not appreciated in that system. When he discovered classical music his world opened up and his path was revealed. He has blossomed in college where his abilities and talent are appreciated. That was all we wanted for our son, and the art of music made that possible-I am eternaly grateful for that!

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Day #19

The touch I am grateful for is that of the simple, but powerful, hug! I did not grow up with a lot of hugs in my family, we were not a hugging family. I met my husband when I was 19 and he is from a hugging family and all of there family friends were big time huggers. Every holiday, party or small event now required multiple hugs from folks I really didn’t know all that well. They are amazing people, who only meant to be welcoming and I was not uncomfortable, but unaccustomed. It would take years for me to grow to a comfort level with this greeting. Once I did, I realized how kind, warm and comforting this simple contact generates. Once my children were born there was not acclimation period needed! I hug my children all the time and I may not have had that ability if my only exposure had been from my parents. I am grateful to my hugging coaches over the years!

Day #20

Ok, this one is too big for me to answer with just one name. Who in my life am I grateful for? That is not a one name answer! I can take the easy way out and say my children of course, but if it were not for my husband, they would not exist. If my in- laws were difficult people then I may not have married the man who would later give me said children! I am already up to six people! I will say that my family have all contributed to making my life worth living, and the difficult times worth weathering and I am grateful to have each of them in my life!

Gratitude for Attitude, Day 21 update!

gratitudeI decided to not reblog my daily gratitude challenge so that I would avoid filling up your feed with a ton of my personal responses. Instead I am opting for periodic updates, such as this one!

It is day 21 of my 30 day challenge, heading into the homestretch! I have been doing a good job keeping on track but did miss one day when I was posting in other categories. I am still worried about posting while we are in Mexico, I don’t know how my internet will be while we are there, and day #26 will be a long travel day. I will try to finish this challenge!

Day #21

The prompt today is “what song are you grateful for?” Hum, I don’t have a song, but I am grateful for Pandora. When I began running I didn’t listen to music. I used that time to organize my thoughts and sort through feelings, often unpleasant ones, and focused on pounding and purging those sad, hurt and painful emotions out of my consciousness. Honestly, some of my longest and fastest runs were when those emotions were at their strongest, and most agonizing. I always felt better after my workout but, perhaps that was not the best therapy for my mental health. I loaded Pandora onto my phone and found the Def Leppard radio station, along with classic 80’s rock platform (I’m old, remember!) and found that running with music helped me to finish my work out and have a more positive outlook. I still use running to work through the same issues, but now have a way to turn the noise down when it becomes truly difficult. So, I am grateful for the music technology that brings the songs to me on the go!

Day #1

When I wake up the morning the first thing I smell is coffee brewing. Today I was extremely grateful for the odor of fresh brewed coffee made by my husband! He rises early to catch the stock market before it opens (so we are talking 5am in the Pacific Northwest). I am always grateful that he makes a wonderful ,strong pot of coffee for me when I get up!

Day #2

This is a tough one! This is like picking your favorite child (which I don’t recommend doing!). I am grateful for both my cell phone and my computer. My cell phone keeps me connected to my kids and helps me keep track of my life, perhaps I am too dependent on this particular technology.  My computer is invaluable for entertainment, blogging and information.  I am grateful that there are innovative minds out there helping me navigate my world and keeping me connected to all of you!

Day #3

Today’s prompt is “what color are you grateful for today?” For me, this is ocean blue. When I am stressed or upset and need to refocus and calm myself, the image of the ocean waves on a warm sandy beach is my “happy place”.  I don’t live close to the ocean, in fact its about a 3 hour drive with no traffic-and there is always traffic! I am close to many rivers or lakes and find that most bodies of water help to calm me and realign my attitude. I hope, one day, to live closer to the ocean itself, perhaps a home with an ocean view, that is a dream that makes me happy!

Day # 4

What food am I grateful for? This will sound odd but I am grateful for solid food! I grew up with a genetic anomaly that affected my colon. I really suffered from age 13 until I was 42 and met the doctor that would change my life -no exaggeration here! It took medicine 30 years to catch up to this ailment and I spent the majority of those three decades eating soup, broth and a few other foods that did not hurt! So, today I am grateful for all the spicy, meaty, cheesy goodness that I can partake of like all the rest of the world! And, grateful for a doctor who went into the oh so glamorous field of gastroenterology!

Day #5

It’s day five of “Gratitude for Attitude” and January 1st. What sound am I grateful for? Well, I drank and ate a lot last night during New Years eve, so I was awake a good portion of the night trying to sleep but my body was processing my excess indulgence and sleep was not going to happen. I did hear my husband softly breathing next to me which usually irritates me that he can sleep so easily! But, this morning I realize just how much I would miss that sound if he were not there. How many nights have I lay struggling to sleep and found his quiet, slow inhale and exhale comforting? Too many to count! The few nights we have been apart, recently for his work travel, have reminded me how hard it would be if he were not there, laying next to me. I am grateful he is in my life, and still here to enjoy the future with me. I am resolving, on this first day of the New Year, to be grateful for is presence, even when he can sleep and I cannot!

Day #6

I guess I already spoke about the ocean and what it means to me in day #3-I did not read ahead to today’s prompt which is “What in nature are you grateful for today?” I could easily reiterate how much the ocean and flowing bodies of water mean to me, and that would be a true statement of gratitude! But I guess I will cheat here a bit and include another aspect of nature that makes me happy and fulfilled, and that would be hiking in the woods and rock climbing outdoors. Our son is a rock climbing instructor and hiking and climbing often mean spending time with him. I cherish the time I spend with my husband, daughter and son and being active with them, running, climbing and hiking outdoors and, in nature, feed my soul. I miss this specific outdoor interactions with them, but when I can’t be with those whom I love, I still find peace and happiness when I am alone hiking through the woods, sitting by the ocean or running along the river. I am grateful to have these happy connections to draw from when times are tough!

Day #7

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It’s been a week so far and I have been doing a pretty good job keeping up with the prompts. Some have been really easy, day #2 for example. Others like today: “What memory are you grateful for?” are considerably more challenging. Not because I don’t have any amazing memories, but because I am a parent. Every mother knows that there are so many incredible milestones that you are privileged to witness as your children arrive into adulthood. I am grateful to have lived long enough to be an active participant and have a front row seat to many such achievements. It is too hard to pick just one!

I am blessed with two healthy and talented children and one of the memories I am grateful for was the opportunity to see my daughter win the state gymnastic championship when she was 8 years old (the next four state championships wins were really special too!). The look on her face when they hung the 1st place medal around her neck, after all the hard work and practice she had put in, was one of the most prideful moments my husband and I have shared with her. She smiled for a week! Another close rival for that coveted “grateful memory” award came during my son’s senior year of high school. He is a gifted clarinetist and was a performer in orchestra, the high school symphony and wind ensemble and was the principle clarinet for the Bellevue Youth Symphony here is Washington State. Each of these groups bestow a year-end award to a special musician and is either awarded by the peers or the music director/conductor. I sat in awe as my son’s name was announced at each end of year concert. He had been recognized and honored by every ensemble and was so proud, as were his parents!

These are the moments and memories that I am grateful for today! What are yours?

Day #8

When I first read the “what book are you grateful for?” prompt, I was completely overwhelmed. How could I possibly choose just one book! I started mentally reviewing all the great novels, autobiographies, true crime, mystery series……then it hit me. I am grateful that there are still book stores where I can grab a cup of coffee and spend hours perusing actual books! Not E-readers, nooks or kindles, but actual hard backs and paperback editions. I don’t read on my electronic devices, I want to curl up with an actual book, by the fire with that cup of coffee. I want to use a book mark or highlight a fact or passage that speaks to me. I may be in the minority here, and I am ok with that, what I am not ok with is the loss of choice. When Borders went out of business I was terrified that all other brick and mortar bookstores would follow suit. I try to buy from small businesses and Barnes and Noble as much as possible to do my small part in maintaining my future options. Long live the hardback!

Day #9

Today’s prompt: What place am I grateful for?

I am going with a place that is a composite of every beach scene I have encountered. It’s my “happy place”. The space that I envision if I am practicing yoga, meditating or attempting to still my mind. It looks something like this:

happy-place

In my mind the waves are making a beautiful, powerful sound, the wind is gently blowing and I can feel the sun on my face.

I am fortunate enough to have travelled to some amazing places and this imagery always comforts me and takes me back to a place where I feel safe, loved and protected.

I am grateful for nature!

Day #10

I am moving into the middle of the challenge now!

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Day 10 asks “What taste are you grateful for today?”The molecular biologist in me automatically goes to the sour, sweet, salty and bitter taste bud options. But I think the intent of this prompt is supposed to be more emotional based, so I will respect the spirit of the question and go with coffee! I came to coffee drinking later in life, around the age of 25, when I was in graduate school. I had and hour and half to two hour drive each way while living in Southern California. I was exhausted and needed some sort of help staying awake while commuting at 4am and working in a demanding doctoral program. So, I had my first cup and I still remember that moment today! It was amazing, the taste, the energy, I thought “now I can get through this!”. Two years into that program I had my first child, 17 months later my second child, 6 months after that I defended my doctoral thesis-and needed coffee the whole time (minus gestation and lactation time of course!). I am still excited to taste that first cup of coffee in the morning and have been back in the Seattle area for the last 20 years- a perfect match!

Day #11

What holiday am I grateful for? They each have their own unique qualities that I enjoy, but I think I will go with Thanksgiving. I really enjoy having the food, family and fun without the pressure to buy presents! We have a very traditional day with all the standard dishes, which are great. But for me the best day is the day after Thanksgiving. I get to lay around in my pjs, watch football (all day) and then eat wonderful leftovers!

Day #12

The texture that I am most grateful for is that of paper. I know, I keep talking about books! I recently was not able to choose the stories and novels that I enjoy the most as I was reading other material. It reminded me of how much I crave and really need that time to connect with a good book. “A good book” as any writing that is important to you! Don’t let others judge or dictated what they deem worthy of your time! It is none of their business what you enjoy reading! I have been made to feel bad about my literary choices to the point of where I would conceal my books and read only when I was alone. It took time for me to realize that this person had no right to make me feel this way, but it’s hard to set aside  harsh judgements from those we love. It is a struggle to this day, but I am grateful that there are still books to hold, read and enjoy!

Day #13

“What ability am I grateful for today?”I think the timing of this entry is quite apropos as I just finished a three mile run.  Well, more like a three mile hobble! I am running with an injury and was so irritated that I could not go faster or farther today. I was down and discouraged by the slow healing timeline for this nagging damage in my calf. I was feeling worried because I am scheduled to start my half marathon training next month. I grumbled to myself all through my shower about how long this is taking to heal. Then I sat down to look at my daily “gratitude for attitude”prompt and realized that I am grateful to be running at all, or walking for that matter! So many others would love to have the mobility and the opportunity to be healthy enough to even consider entering a half marathon. I should be focusing on what I can do, what my abilities are, as opposed to what they are not! And, this is why I am doing a daily gratitude challenge-so I remember what is truly important!

Day #14

What sight am I grateful for? Our kids are young adults, 22 and 20 years of age. They have school, work, friends and hobbies. They are close, not just in age, but as friends as well. They rock climb with a group of friends, the go to Dairy Queen to eat blizzards and they lead busy lives. The sight I am most grateful for is the rare moment when all four of us are home together, just eating dinner, watching a movie or talking about our day. It is a sight I took for granted when they were younger, because we had plenty of time together back then.  I cherish these moments now that they are so few and far between!

Day #15

I am most grateful of Fall.  I have been a student and professor for my entire life. Fall, for me, is the start of the year where I am gearing up for classes. Either teaching them, taking them or, when my kids were in K-12, preparing my children for the start of the school year. I know January is linked to renewal and resolutions, but for me, September was that “fresh start”. This was the time when all things were possible, when I was going to be more organized (supposedly) and it meant that a new 9 month list of deadlines, assignments and test schedules began. There is a surge of energy that always will be linked to Fall. And Football is back baby!!

Day #16

Is this a trick question! Who asks a woman what she likes about her body? Well, I am going to go with strength. I am grateful for my body’s mobility and its abilities. I have run two half marathons (two more planned next year), rock climbed both indoors and outdoors (I’m climbing at about a 10.d/ 11a/b level inside and much lower grade outside!) and I do yoga regularly. I need  this exercise to survive my everyday life and really feel the absence of endorphins on the days I cannot be active. My knees ache, my left calf spasm all the time, my shoulders pop and crack but I will never give up! I am lucky to be able to do all these activities and truly appreciate my body’s ability to keep up with my mind!

Day #17

Today’s prompt: What knowledge are you grateful for? I recently found myself in the very real possibility of loosing connection with some extremely important people in my life. They have been my family for the last three decades and severing that connection looked like a certainty. You never realize how much time you will have with someone and my time was rapidly running out. I took the time to write a letter to each person letting them know what they have meant to me, my children and my life. I am grateful for the knowledge that  they know how I feel about them moving forward, no matter what happens in the future.

Day #18

My “piece of art” is really the entire genre of classical music. My son studies classical clarinet performance in college, and there were many moments during his k-12 years when my husband and I did not know if our son would even go to college. We are in one of those school districts that are very challenging. Our son does not fit the traditional math, science, reading curriculum. He is artistic and loved classical music and history, which were the subject he excelled and not the subjects covered on standardized tests. He struggled because his gifts were not appreciated in that system. When he discovered classical music his world opened up and his path was revealed. He has blossomed in college where his abilities and talent are appreciated. That was all we wanted for our son, and the art of music made that possible-I am eternaly grateful for that!gratitutde-challenge-copy

Day #19

The touch I am grateful for is that of the simple, but powerful, hug! I did not grow up with a lot of hugs in my family, we were not a hugging family. I met my husband when I was 19 and he is from a hugging family and all of their family friends were big time huggers. Every holiday, party or small event now required multiple hugs from folks I really didn’t know all that well. They are amazing people, who only meant to be welcoming and I was not uncomfortable, but unaccustomed. It would take years for me to grow to a comfort level with this greeting. Once I did, I realized how kind, warm and comforting this simple contact generates. Once my children were born there was not an acclimation period needed! I hug my children all the time and I may not have had that ability if my only exposure had been from my parents. I am grateful to my hugging coaches over the years!

Day #20

Ok, this one is too big for me to answer with just one name. Who in my life am I grateful for? That is not a one name answer! I can take the easy way out and say my children of course, but if it were not for my husband, they would not exist. If my in- laws were difficult people then I may not have married the man who would later give me said children! I am already up to six people! I will say that my family have all contributed to making my life worth living, and the difficult times worth weathering and I am grateful to have each of them in my life!

Day #21 is at the top of this post

Day #22

What story am I grateful for today? We have all been there. You have this hilarious story about something that happened when you were with a friend, and you try to tell someone who wasn’t there all about it and they just look at you with a small smile on their face, humoring you because they don’t see why its so funny. Your next line is “I guess you had to be there”. Those are the stories for which I am most grateful, for precisely that reasoning of “you had to be there.” I am lucky to share many of those stories with my husband, my kids and my friends, those unique moments that only the two or three of us who were present can enjoy.

Day #23

Today the question is “what tradition are you grateful for?” As I sit here watching Good Morning Football, the family tradition I am thinking about is the first Seahawks game of the season. Of course, my daughter and I watch the 4 preseason games that are held starting in August. And, there is the fantasy football drafts which occur right before the start of the regular season, and all the hype shows on ESPN and NFL network. But for me that first game in September really marks the start of the season, and the hope that this year we will win the Super Bowl. I usually make some good food to go with that game and my husband, daughter and myself get set up in front of the TV with all the optimism and excitement of the new season. We will cheer, cry and experience profound anxiety, along with the rest of the 12th man collective in Seattle, and although rooting for this team is exasperating at times, it is a tradition that our family enjoys every year. GO HAWKS!!

Day #24

What challenge am I grateful for?, isn’t just living from one day to the next challenge enough! I guess if I have to pick just one, I will go with earning my Ph.D. I grew up in a family that did not value higher education and I knew that I wanted to go beyond high school. I also knew that this meant there would be no college fund or moral support for my decision and that completing this goal would be a huge undertaking. I didn’t know where the money would come from and I was pretty sure that working many hours while being a student full time was going to be rough. I was also living on my own and had silly stuff to pay for like rent, food and health care. I was also 19 years old and not really prepared to handle it all, but knew that this was going to be my only shot at it. I did get one HUGE break in all this, at the same time as I was trying to figure all this out I met my future husband. He did come from a  family where college was important and he had been taught by his parents how to navigate this phase of life. Together we would go on to earn five degrees and make two beautiful children together. I am grateful that I met this challenge as it made my future teaching career possible, but I know that I could not have done it without the love and support of my husband and his family!

Day #25

The moment that occurred this week that I am grateful for was on Wednesday night. My husband and I were having a hectic week and we had plans for that night. We were supposed to drop off his car for servicing, then kill 4 or 5 hours and then attend a lecture on the French Revolution. Now, to be fair, that probably would have been a good evening. But, of course the weather was awful as it had been pouring all day with no end in sight. It was also very cold that day and the traffic was miserable just about everywhere we need to be to meet that schedule. We are also leaving for Mexico in a few days and both of us were feeling stressed about getting everything set for being away from the house and work next week. So, after much deliberating we canceled the auto service and decided to skip the lecture and go to a local happy hour that is close by and that we have really enjoyed in the past. We saved ourselves several hours and felt a lot less stressed as we checked off items from our to-do list, and after a couple of these, who wouldn’t feel less stress!

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We were very happy with our decision to downsize our original plan and I am grateful that we gave ourselves that time together!

Day #26

“What form of expression are you grateful for today?” I have spoken already about my gratitude for both books (writing) and for classical music in my son’s life. So, I will reiterate how important writing is to me. Since I have started this blog I have created more articles, reviews and recipes than I have ever penned before in my life. Prior to this experience the majority of my works were in the science field in the forms of technical papers or educational materials (tests, national competency standards and the like). I am enjoying the change of focus and the ability to be creative with a different direction. I hope to expand this area of my life!

Day # 27

The small thing that I use everyday that I am grateful for is my coffee pot! I have been quite vocal about how much I love coffee, even as I sit here now writing this I am drinking a cup of fresh brewed java. I have two automatic coffee makers and one french press and a 4 cup espresso stove top unit.  They are all precious to me!

Day #28

I am currently vacationing in Mexico so I have a very positive attitude today. That means that there have been many small things that I am grateful for today. If I have to choose just one it would be swimming in the warm ocean. We visited Santiago Bay today and the beach was warm and the water an extremely comfortable respite from the hot sun. This winter has been colder and wetter than usual in Washington state and being able to enjoy a break from the dreary days in Seattle have been fantastic!