mid-week meditation #6

Hi everyone! Hope you are having a great first official week of summer! 🙂

This week I am teaching a reading and public speaking summer camp for kindergarteners, and it is rewarding but absolutely EXHAUSTING. However, the kids are adorable, eager to learn and wide-eyed with curiosity, and I am trying my best to enjoy each moment. Here is a meditation based on that desire:

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Here’s to savoring the little moments!

Question of the day:

  • What do you love about today?

review of “the secret keeper” by kate morton

I mentioned on Saturday that I was happy to be curling up with a good book: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, which was the January pick of the PB Fingers book club. I’m so happy this book was chosen for the book club, because otherwise I’m not sure if I would have known about it. I had not read any books by Kate Morton before, and in general I do not read much historical fiction, but I will certainly be checking out the rest of her work now!

The Secret Keeper shifts between present-day England and WWII London during the Blitz. It took me fifty pages or so to fully settle into the book, but I grew to deeply enjoy the rich details and extensive research Kate Morton must have done to write this book. I also don’t want to spoil it, but the ending is marvelous!! I felt almost giddy with suspense and the thrill of a surprise well done.

kate morton

Without trying to give too much away, here are some of my thoughts and take-aways from this book:

  • Reading this made me feel like I was alongside the characters, living through a war: incessant days and nights of terrible bombings, friends and family killed, men going into battle. It made me appreciate the quiet, peaceful life I enjoy. Nothing like war to put my own little daily struggles and problems into perspective. And it also made me feel very grateful to veterans and current U.S. soldiers who put their lives on the line for our country. I want to do something as part of my #yearofkindness to show my deep appreciation and gratitude.
  • On a craft level, reading this book as a writer, I was impressed by the way Morton shifted across characters and time periods to keep the reader in suspense. Also, by using a close third-person perspective, she was able to dip inside multiple characters’ thoughts and points of view–and the reader was left to decide how much to trust/believe the information given. {I have long been a fan of unreliable narrators ever since falling in love with The Great Gatsby in high school.}
  • I really enjoyed settling into the vividly drawn world of this book. Morton’s use of details and description is stunning. I want to weave in more details and setting description into my thesis novel that I am currently revising.
  • Historical fiction is wonderful reading! I love feeling like I am learning things about a place and time in history while also being engrossed in a story. Caring about the characters in the book also makes me feel that I get a better sense of who the people were who lived during that time.

Have any of you read The Secret Keeper? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Have a wonderful day!
-Dallas

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like these:
review of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
review of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

marvelous monday: finding happiness in the details

Happy Monday, everyone! I admit it, I had a hard time saying goodbye to this weekend. It was just so nice! I always feel such energy and excitement in the air when summer turns over to autumn. {I won’t lie, I still had a hard time waking up this morning … more on that in a minute!}

On Saturday Mike and I went to Feast of the Hunters Moon, a Lafayette tradition. It’s sort of like a Renaissance Festival but for colonial times. People seize the opportunity to dress up — not just in colonial period costumes, but as pirates, animals, face-painted Native Americans {which always makes me cringe after taking a Native American History course in college} … there is singing, dancing, cricket-playing, marching. We saw a fife & drum troupe and a miniature horse pulling a carriage around, bells jingling. Tents were set up all around with people selling homemade goods; we walked past a blacksmith, a leather tooler, potters and jewelry makers. And there’s all sorts of delicious and interesting food {as one friendly lady told me and Mike, “That’s why they call it FEAST!”} We sampled bison stew, fried smelt, corncakes, an apple fritter, and croquignoles, which are cinnamon-sugar donuts. It was a gorgeous, crisp sunny autumn day and I think my favorite part was just walking around taking everything in.

On Sunday we had a relaxing workday and book-browsing at Barnes & Noble, then played a few rounds of pinball at this local arcade before heading home. Would you believe that yours truly actually scored high enough to win a free game?? Yes, I was proud. The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” may just be running through my head right now. 🙂

Maybe because it was such a lovely weekend, it was extra hard getting up this morning. My first thought was: “Monday? Waaaah!” But I diligently rolled out of bed, and as I brewed my mug of tea I thought of that saying, “The dollar is in the details.” I think it can apply to happiness, too. The little details of our days can bring us so much joy if we just take a few moments to appreciate them.

Here are a few details that brightened up my Monday morning:

1. James Taylor on the radio. I love you, James!

2. Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea. {My mom got this for me last Christmas and it is so yummy I’ve been trying to draw it out and ration myself to a cup or two a week, though I might end up caving and using it all up this week! … It’s so perfect for autumn}

3. Pumpkin pie. For breakfast. {I needed to celebrate the yummy pie I made last night after a true disaster of a pumpkin pie attempt on Friday … more on that later this week!}

4. The “good morning” text message from my dad … he’s so sweet and always sends me text messages before he goes to bed on Pacific time, so when I wake up on Eastern time I’ll find a good morning from him waiting on my phone. Always gets my day off on a good note!

5. Watching a hilarious episode of Arrested Development as I ate breakfast.

6. A sunny 58-degree day outside … cold enough to wear my cute boots and scarf, but not too cold that going outside means freezing my butt off.

7. Cute dog videos on YouTube … I miss my dog Murray so much {he’s our family dog and lives with my parents in California} and watching videos of adorable & funny dogs that remind me of him almost makes me feel like I’m waking up to him snoring upside-down on “his” couch in the living room.

8. The pretty autumn wreath I snagged last year at CVS pharmacy, of all places. I just adore it! I love coming home and seeing it hanging on my front door. I hope it brings a little smile to our mailwoman’s face every day, too!

I’m feeling a zillion times better already, ready to embrace the day! What details are making your day marvelous?

❤ Dallas