Friday, January 30, 2015

Life on the Bayou, “Lucy” at the aquarium, and an MRI

Gosh, but it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write. So much has happened in the past two months and it’s left me turning in circles and unable to focus for a while.
December found us spending more time in church for funerals of family members, than not. I lost my dad at the beginning of December, a very close friend the day after Christmas and my husband’s niece lost her baby only days before her due date before New Year’s.
Losing a parent is rough and going through a funeral with family members at each other’s throats is not a pleasant situation. Losing someone who has been an integral part of your life for the better part of 17 years isn’t easy. Especially when that person sees you as part of their family and that is how it was. This man was as close to a saint on earth as I have ever met. He touched so many lives in a spiritual way and his legacy will live on forever. He was that kind of man, truly special.
Our niece’s baby did so many somersaults that she managed to twist her umbilical cord to the point it cut off her life-line to her mother. She was a beautiful little baby, pink as could be as she had just passed before delivery. It was heartbreaking for everyone. Her passing marked the third death in my husband’s family in five months.
As I look back and try to absorb all the emotions that have been floating around, I told my husband that I didn’t know what was the hardest – grieving a parent you’ve known your entire life, watching the burial of a beloved man, or watching two twenty-eight year olds standing with their arms around each other when they finally make the decision to allow the casket to be closed on a baby they will never get to raise.
Life is strange and definitely not for us mere mortals to understand. At the baby’s funeral, our priest said that the week before we had buried one of our finest (our friend) and that day, we were burying one of our purist. On New Year’s Day when our priest visited at the hospital, he spoke about the baby being a true angel, that she wasn’t tainted by this world. She had never taken a breath of this life. I thought of the Blessed Mother carrying a Savoir, and I thought what an honor, to be chosen by God, to carry an angel. That is special.
This past week I had the chance to play with the penguins at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. A friend of mine has a child with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and he was eligible to be part of the Easter Seals program that sponsors the event. My friend invited me to go along. She is too funny and sweet. The aquarium is closed on Mondays and she knows that I am an introvert and suffer from social anxiety. When the person told her we would be the only ones there (besides the other four families) she immediately thought of me – so off we went on a field trip, the two of us and two of her children. Did I mention how great it is to have such wonderful friends who love you and take your quirks in stride? I was not always so lucky, so I know that I am truly blessed.
We had so much fun, but the day wasn’t without incident! “Lucy” just had to do something! After learning about the penguins and their habitat, we were invited to enter the habitat and play with them. Of course, the habitat includes a huge swimming hole! I think I prayed the entire time that I would not fall in, because if that was going to happen to anyone it would have been me!
Most of the penguins are quite friendly and we were able to hold them. We were allowed to stay and play for a long time, which was nice. We weren’t rushed at all and the penguins seem to enjoy the visit as much as we did. The person in charge was as eager to answer all of our questions, as we were to ask them.
The only thing I feel bad about is that I am in most of the pictures because Mom was busy taking pictures of the kids and I was helping them hold and play with penguins! I felt she should have been in the photos instead of me, but at least the camera was safe in her hands. At the end of the visit, we were squired away to a room where two penguins with paint on their feet walked all over paper taped to the floor. Each child went home with a stuffed penguin and a picture “painted” by the penguins. We had so much fun!
Okay “Lucy” did have one incident that could definitely have been disastrous, but wasn’t. When we entered the door to go to the penguin’s habitat, don’t ask me what I expected to see. A staircase perhaps? What I saw was a ladder, much like those used in boats to climb down into the engine rooms. I had to laugh at myself and even said, “Oh! A ladder.” We climbed up the ladder with no problem and I forgot all about it – that is, until it was time to leave.
Having spent a little time climbing up and down such ladders, I knew as I watched everyone climbing down as though it were a staircase, that it wasn’t. Soon, it was our turn to follow Jude’s mom and sister down the ladder. They laughed when they turned around and saw Jude and I descending the ladder the same way we had climbed up. A ladder is a ladder is a ladder, I don’t care how you call it. She thought I was little nuts when I described how I climbed down, but Jude and I made it safely to the bottom with him climbing down by himself (like a big boy) surrounded by my arms.
That was the safe part, because as I turned around and started out the door, I didn’t see the raised lip and almost went flying. I still can’t tell you how and where I caught myself, but fortunately an accident was avoided.
If you would like to read about the program and see a few pictures, please click on the link.http://www.nola.com/family/index.ssf/2015/01/easter_seals_louisiana_and_aud.html
And, what do you do on the way home with kids? You stop for chicken tenders! We had a great day and it was nice to be light-hearted for a while.
Tuesday, I had an appointment at Ochsner for a MRI on my hand. The diagnosis was erosive arthritis and if you follow me on Instagram, (@SouthernCharmPlanner) I am documenting my progress with a medication that was prescribed. My doctor told me Erosive Arthritis is a cousin ofRheumatoid Arthritis. Not a lot is known about it and there is no cure or known treatment – rare was what she called it. That didn’t surprise me as I already have two “rare” blood disorders. I am an INTJ and have a “rare” personality – 4% of the population share this personality. Rare is quickly becoming part of my vocabulary.
Since Hubby was off at the duck camp, a friend went with me to the hospital. On the way home – laughing here – we stopped at iHop. It’s not only children who like chicken tenders! We ended up sitting and talking until almost dark!
I escaped two incidents this week unscathed – which still has me shaking my head. The second was Friday evening when I went to the dog’s kennel to check to make sure their blankets had not been drug out of their houses. Their kennel is the white picket fenced yard surrounding my Garden House (the pic is above). Their houses are located under an overhang to the side and on a wooden platform. As I walked onto the wooden platform, my foot slipped on the slime (it’s been raining) and down I went. My arm went down on top of the fence between two pickets and I hit my knees. My thought as I was going down was this is going to be a bad one. By the Grace of God, I was kneeling down and wondering what I broke when I realized I hadn’t hurt myself, not even my knees! I am still shaking my head because I’ve done more damage with less traumatic falls. My favorite jacket was even spared.
Other than catching up on Etsy orders and book reviews, that has been my week. Hope you enjoyed visiting!

IMG_1664IMG_1666IMG_1679IMG_1683IMG_1690IMG_1693IMG_1706IMG_1712IMG_1713IMG_1714IMG_1718IMG_1733IMG_1732IMG_1731IMG_1726IMG_1727

Bury Me with my Pearls by Jane Jenkins - Review

Bury Me with My Pearls is a real-life, roller-coaster ride of laughter, tears, and stomach-churning truths by a professional speaker, humorist, and singer who, as Miss South Carolina, represented her state in the Miss America pageantand has been singing, speaking, and writing ever since. Incorporating the analogy of pearls, this book uses humor and spiritual principles to bravely address difficult issues many in her audiences encounter within changing roles, self-actualization, and families.
Bury Me with My Pearlsaddresses the importance of how to guard the countless gifts given by our Lord and that doing the right thing is the right thing, regardless of our feelings or circumstances. It is about trusting God in all things and how he can turn our irritants into to pearls. Bury Me with My Pearls encourages us to develop our pearls, protect our jewels, carefully wear them next to our hearts, and share with others. All of this with a good splash of humor.
Explore how to walk in love while pruning the family tree in an environment filled with difficult people and how God’s power is released when learning to trust Him, to embrace the lessons being taught, and to grow spiritually no matter how painful. Like the process of the pearl, so many women need to find and embrace their buried treasures.
Jane Jenkins Herlong CSP
Jane Jenkins Herlong’s comedy and singing is a featured on Sirius XM Radio and Pandora Internet Radio. Jane is a humorist, singer, parody writer and best-selling author.
From the tomato fields of her native Johns Island, South Carolina all the way to runway of the Miss America Pageant, Jane’s contagious optimism helps audiences learn how to handle difficult life situations with a sense of humor and grace. Through really funny original Southern stories and award-winning singing audiences learn life-skills dealing with stress to achieve more success. Jane travels across the country and has spoken in New Zealand and Germany. She is fluent in four langues: English, Southern, Northern and Gullah.
Jane’s story of overcoming being labeled Dyslexic and other challenges give audiences a recipe for balancing their own personal journey with humor and hope through folksy wisdom-Southern style.
Jane is the author of the book, “Bury Me with My Pearls,” “Bare Feet to High Heels: You Don’t Have to be a Beauty Queen to be a Beautiful Person,”and “What Ta-Tas Teach Us.” As a professional singer, Jane has recorded multiple CDs including her Big Band, Gospel and Broadway CD entitled, “Favorites.” In addition, Jane has recorded her CD of Christmas Classics entitled, “The Spirit Of Christmas” along with numerous live recording of her comedy and live speeches that are available on iTunes and Pandora.
For more information visit her web site: http://www.janeherlong.com and check out Jane’s funny YouTube Channel! http://www.youtube.com/user/janeherl

My Review:
Being a Southern girl and someone who wouldn’t be caught dead without her pearls, I just had to read this book when I saw the title. Not familiar with this author, I was enthralled by her ability to make you laugh and cry and then laugh again.
Jane Jenkins Herlong is an amazing writer and I loved the way she wove scripture into her stories and ended each story with a moral lesson.
You will be inspired by the book and maybe even a better person for having read it. I highly recommend reading Bury Me With My Pearls and it’s worth every one of the five stars I’m giving it.


Buy on Amazon in these formats:

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

The Charm Necklace by Lauren Rosolino - Review 5 stars

How do you move forward from a loss like this?

“What was left of me was not a whole lot, not my former whole self. Because Michael and I were connected, joined, fused together, it was hard to make the distinction between him and me. We affected each other so much and so deeply it was hard to tell where one soul ended and the other started. The seams that fastened us together were twisted and indistinct, folding into each other, entwined like lovers’ bodies. So when you took one away, ripped it at the seams, you took whole fragments of the other half, leaving the edges jagged and uneven.”
Skylar Medina has never asked for much – just to marry the man she loves and create the family she’s always dreamed of with him. But when Michael is killed in a car accident, she becomes consumed with rage and despair. In the year following Michael’s death, Skylar must face her cruel and unbarring reality. As she navigates her feelings, her destructive tendencies, and the web of complicated relationships with friends and family, she finds guidance in places she’d never expect.
Will Skylar have the strength to let love in again? Or will she let anger and grief destroy her?
…This book contains some sailor-worthy language, sexy scenes, and deals with the darker sides of death, grief, beliefs, love, and anger…
Lauren Rosolino, author of The Charm Necklace and writer of stories about finding beauty in brokenness. Lauren graduated from Wayne State Universitywith her BA in Psychology and currently lives in Rochester, MI with her techie husband and their dog, cat, and bunny. Lauren grew up in the suburbs of Detroitreading Harry Potter, watching Gilmore Girls, listening (and dancing) to a lot of music, and wondering why people do the things they do. The Charm Necklace is her first novel. Find out more at http://www.laurenrosolino.com.
My Review – 
This was a magnificent book. It had a beautiful story line. It was well-written. The Charm Necklace by Lauren Rosolino was a book that once you picked up, you couldn’t put it down. I laughed and I cried. The book takes you through a tragedy that makes a person either grow or lay down in defeat. The characters chose to stand up and fight. That is what grief does to you. That is what happiness does to you.
Death comes so suddenly, out of nowhere. In the morning, you wake up in the arms of the one you love, that night you go to bed all by yourself. You remain in a state of shock asking yourself questions like ‘Did that really happen? Is he really dead? He can’t possibly be dead, can he?’ And you reassure yourself with statements like ‘He’s just away on a business trip,’ or ‘Just another late night at the office, that’s all.’
There isn’t much more I can say about this book except to recommend you read it and to give it as many stars as I can – 5. I hope this author is around for a long, long time.
During this time, you see friends and long-lost relatives you hadn’t seen since you were a child, and it hits you that nothing really matters: not those five extra pounds you were trying to lose, the back porch you’ve been meaning to repaint, that new show you forgot to record, those new designer shoes you’ve been lusting for. How could any of it matter in the face of death? You’re faced with the feeling that your life, your work, all your accomplishments are obsolete and meaningless when seen in the finality of death. All those things can’t save you from it.
Once you finish reading the book, the author invites you to her website for a final chapter that you won’t want to miss.
I’m still upset that you were taken away from, but it’s no longer the living-breathing kind of hate that eats away at you. It’s the kind of anger that just wishes you could still be here. I can see now that your death was an accident. No one meant for it to happen.
Buy on Amazon in these formats:

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Resting Place, A Graveside Diary by Pamela Little, Nonfiction / Personal Memoir, Review

In search of a resting place, Pamela went to her final one—her grave site. Tackling life from the perspective of death, she addresses her darknesses, including alcoholism, food addiction, bipolar disorder, and her self-diagnosed “post-divorce destruction disorder.” Over the course of four years, a new light begins to emerge, beckoning her back from the living dead.
Demographic: Women - divorced, overeaters, or bipolar
 
 
 
Pamela Little
Pamela Little's writing career began in the fifth grade when she won The Evans Award for Drama for a play she wrote overnight titled The Case of the Missing Watch.
She went on to win two American Pen Women prizes for creative writing in high school. While a college student, Pamela earned recognition from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and the Annual Hemingway Days Festival for her newspaper journalism.
As a professional, Pamela wrote the "Family Matters" column for five years at The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, managed communications for a tourism agency, attended the Betty Ford Center's Professionals in Residence program on scholarship, and worked for a Montessori school. She also received the Gannett Award for Best Enterprise Reporting and numerous accolades from the Society of Professional Journalists.
As a writing coach, Pamela helps people organize their journal collections and publish their diaries. Through her ministry Soul Custody, she creates and conducts Marriage Memorial Services for divorced families. Pamela is currently at work on a series of daily meditation books to help parents after divorce. The Resting Place, A Graveside Diary, is her first book.
Visit Pamela Little at www.restingplaceonline.com
Purchase on Amazon in Kindle or Paperback
My Thoughts:
If you asked me my first thoughts on the book, I would say it is a strange book. It's different from anything I've read so far, and I've read a lot of books. It is not a book that can be rushed through - I am a fast reader and I stress - this book cannot be read fast. Not that you can't speed read it, I guess you could. It's a little hard to explain other than saying it is a slow read. The words will not allow you to read it quickly.
Pamela Little has experienced a lot in her life and with The Resting Place, takes the reader on her journey to find her resting place while still alive. She buys a cemetery plot and goes to her final resting place each day to write and meditate on her life.
Pamela Little felt that in order to tackle her "living" life, she needed to begin to assess her life from death moving backward. We all have darkness in our lives, some more than others because of different struggles. Pamela Little suffers with some pretty powerful life-altering darknesses which include "alcoholism, food addiction, bipolar disorder, and her self-diagnosed “post-divorce destruction disorder." Just one of these would topple most people.
In the book, she takes us through her struggles and how she finally finds her resting place within herself. I identified with her "post-divorce destruction disorder" having been through a traumatic divorce and alienation of children. I understand her search to find that resting place. It is a long journey that ends back where you start - within yourself.
Pamela Little is blunt, honest, and sometimes a little crazy in her memoir. She decides to view life from death's view in an effort to live life to its fullest. It is a spiritual journey. After reading this book, I think I understand the journey bi-polar sufferers go through and how it affects their outlook on life. While I would describe the book as a little strange, it is a good book. I'm giving The Resting Place four stars.
I cry now because I care so deeply about myself, maybe as equally as I care for them (daughters) now. I am so worth living for! I have missed myself while I was dead. I can breathe now. Easily. Finally, I can rest in peace (while alive.)
 
Pamela Little says her mission is to "help people see things from different perspectives" and she does in her half humorous, half insightful voice in her new memoir The Resting Place: A Graveside Diary. Yes, graveside. And not the grave of a dearly departed but her own grave that she will eventually call home. Her journal entries reveal her life--her strengths, her weaknesses--through deep reflection with a story arc that grabs the reader by the hand and takes her along for the journey.-        Matilda Butler, award-winning author and co-founder of WomensMemoirs.com
 
 
My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Always With You by Andrea Hurst (Review, Tour)

Always With You
 
 
Author: Andrea Hurst
Publication Date: February 6, 2014
Pages: 348
ISBN978-1495326783
Genre: Women's Fiction
Format: Paperback, eBook (.mobi / Kindle)

"Always With You is the bittersweet and poignant love story of a woman trapped between temptation and the ties that bind."
~Tracey Garvis Graves, New York Times bestselling author of On the Island and Covet.
"Hurst captivates from page one, and keeps you hooked until the very last word, in this entrancing story of the power of love and all its consequences.” 
~Melissa Foster -New York Times & USA Today bestselling & award-winning author.
"Warm-hearted, wise, touchingly written, and exploring the depths of human emotions. This book about forbidden love is not to be missed." 
~Bharti Kirchner, Author of five novels including Darjeeling and Tulip Season. 
1977 is a glorious time to be alive in the beautiful wine country of Northern California, and Cathy has everything she thought she wanted - from a thriving health food cafĂ© to loyal friends.
Since the devastating failure of her short-lived marriage, Cathy has buried herself in her work and kept men at arm’s length. But when an old high school friend, Pam, brings her family for a short stay, Cathy’s stone walls begin to crumble when she meets Jamie. Jamie, whose compassion and warmth slowly break down her defenses. Jamie, whose devotion to his four-year-old daughter melts Cathy's heart and makes her desperate for a family of her own. Jamie… who is married to Pam.
A profound love that transcends time and place is impossible to resist. But is love more important than friendship? Are loyalty and fidelity an anchor or a chain? In the end, it’s all about choices – tough ones that can break hearts. Now Cathy must make the most difficult choice of her life.
Buy Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20665112-always-with-yo
 
Andrea HurstWhen not visiting local farmer's markets or indulging her love for chocolate, Andrea Hurst is an author and literary agent. Her passion for books drives her to find and write stories that take readers on a journey to another place and leave them with an unforgettable impression. She is a developmental editor for publishers and authors, an instructor in creative writing at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, and a webinar presenter for Writers Digest. She lives with her dachshunds in the Pacific Northwest, on an island much like the fictional Madrona, with all of its natural beauty and small town charm.
Her published books include Always With YouThe GuestbookThe Lasy Dog's Guide to Enlightenment and Everybody's Natural Food Cookbook, and she co-authored A Book of Miracles.
To learn more about Andrea and her books, visit www.AndreaHurst-author.com.
Join her on Facebook for book giveaways and more delicious recipes and scenic photos from Madrona Island at www.facebook.com/andreahurstauthor
Connect with Andrea:
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE
My Thoughts:
I enjoyed Always With You. Plain and simple, it was a good book. The cover was beautiful and that alone will draw you to the book. 

I have been reading quite a few romance books lately and this book had a different spin on it. The story was a little long, but I'm sure how the author would have shortened it without cutting out some of the "meat" of the story. 
The writing was good. I enjoyed the characters. The book had characters you fell in love with and on the flip side, one or two that you wanted to slap silly. The story is set in the Nappa Valley and it was nice to spend time there, albeit through a book. I was drawn into the scenery and wanted to stay there. I went along on scenic drives and canoe rides down a river and then sat on the shoreline basking in the sun. I enjoyed cooking along-side the characters. 
Summarizing, Always With You by Andrea Hurst is a good book. It had a different storyline and the characters were very likable. I found no errors worth mentioning and the surprise ending was the best part of the book. I'm giving Always With You five stars. It's a light-hearted read and a great one for the cold, wintry nights coming up. 



My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55.