Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell

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I put Then She Was Gone on hold from the library on a complete whim. Sometimes… when my hubby is working, and the kids are sleeping… Mommy gets on all the review/blogs/instagram, and goes down a huge rabbit hole putting hundreds of books on hold. This tends to get a bit awkward when I walk into the local library, and see the pile of books sitting waiting for me!! I had forgotten that this was one I had put on hold, and when I read the first page, I was completely sucked in.

Meet Ellie Mack. She’s fifteen, the youngest daughter of three, and is the apple of her mother’s eye. She is a great student, friend, sister, and now a girlfriend of the high school hottie. It’s getting close to her school exams, and she’s looking forward to big plans this summer. And then she was gone. Ellie literally disappears. Her mother, Laurel, 10 years post disappearance, has let her other two children slip from her fingers, and her marriage has fallen apart. Then, Laurel meets a man in a cafe. Before she knows it, their lives become more intertwined, and she’s meeting his daughter, Poppy. Poppy looks alarmingly like her disappeared daughter Ellie. And from here, Laurel begins to try to put the pieces of her daughters disappearance together.

Whoa. This book was fantastic. Lisa Jewell is becoming a prolific British writer, with 16 novels now published. Yet this was my first novel of hers, and I thought it was brilliant. She took a classic “thriller-type” description, and blended a family drama, a pyschological  thriller, and a mystery. You are instantly sucked into the storyline of a mother’s love for her family. As much as Laurel is grieving the loss of her daughter, she is also grieving and struggling with the loss of the family members who are still her in life. Her ex-husband is just a gem of a man, and at one point you can see that he really misses his old family life, but too much damage has happened to them all.

As the father of your children, as a friend, as someone who shared a journey with you and as someone who loves you and cares about you. I don’t need to be married to you to be all those things. Those things are deeper than marriage. Those things are for ever.

Jewell’s writing is superb. You probably know the stigma… mystery/thriller… a driving plot, but ho hum writing. But, what I’ve noticed these days, is the blending of multiple genres is creating gorgeous, thrilling books… and these types of novels gained a ton of depth. Not that it’s anything like Louise Penny’s series, but the writing reminded me a lot of her style. It’s thrilling, but also poetic in nature. I 100% recommend this book to a lot of different types of readers. I actually bought Lisa Jewell’s next novel, Watching You, recently and am looking forward to digging into it soon!

Until next time, enjoy your weekend reading time!

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September: Continue to Learn

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Whoopsy… I dropped the ball on posting for my September Happiness Project. But here’s the thing I’ve realized, at this point in my project… I am tired! Summer has been busy for all of us, so in hopes of an organized September I had thought of all these different things months ago that I could accomplish for September.

Well… here’s the truth, I decided this month is truly just reflection. I had hoped to sign up for a course, or some lectures, and what I know right now what I need is a slow down. It’s time to journal, listen to some reflective podcasts, and truly just be.

This week I listened to an eye opening episode of Goop podcast, which was an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah. At one point Gwyneth asked Oprah whether she was happy, and I’m paraphrasing, but what Oprah answered back was with that being happy isn’t a word she uses for herself. It’s temporary, but being present is a thing. It’s about not holding onto a something too tightly with your expectations. It’s about being you, and taking comparison out of your life and living YOUR best self. This episode was one big AHA moment for me, and exactly what I needed right now.

SO last but not least, what I’ve learned and continue to learn about myself is that it’s not always about being perfect. It’s about being balanced, and whole.

That’s all for today, and I will check back in with you in October 🙂

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler

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Good God, this novel is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story. I’ve been obsessed with the Fitzgeralds since high school when I first read The Great Gatsby. Let me rephrase, I’ve been obsessed with the writers who gathered in Paris for deep inspiration. The flapper dresses, the bobs, the glamorous cigarettes, prohibition…  everything is so alluring. I picked up this book awhile ago, but when I heard that the Badass Women’s Book Club had it on their list, I decided this was exactly the type of book I needed to read right now.

Let me take a minute to tell you, I had this romantic view of the Fitzgeralds. Ever devoted, very drunk, and a lot of passion. F.Scott Fitzgerald was a drunk in the truest form. Drinking all day, and drinking and writing all night. He wasted his life away while getting drunk with his writer pals, and obsessing about who truly wrote the greatest was American Novel. BUT, I knew nothing about Zelda, other than she was F.Scott Fitzgerald’s wife.

Scott reached for my hand. “Damn it all, you are the love of my life.”

This tragic, passionate love story had me right from the beginning. It’s basically a fictional biography, based in lots of research. I think that Therese Anne Fowler did an amazing job, and deserves a lot of praise for this. Without giving too much away, Zelda was a badass babe. She could write, act, dance, and on top of that bring the life of the party. Scott admired this, but also wanted to control this about her. By keeping her sheltered, he could achieve more greatness he believed. She was his muse, which he ultimately quelled to the point that she was driven to psychiatric hospital for a long stint. These two flew too close to the sun, and got ultimately got burnt.

If you do decide to pick up this book (which I strongly suggest you do) please read the Author’s Note at the end. It’s very informative, and covers the last half of Zelda’s life which does not include Scott. Being a historical fiction junkie, and a fan of literature, this novel was a perfect fit for me. Not only was the story fascinating, but Therese Anne Fowler wove a beautiful story.

Okay, so I will now be up all night reading about the Fitzgeralds, Hemingway, Stein, and the rest of the literary cast. Until next time, happy reading!

 

July Wrap-up, August… you’re up!

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July Wrap-up

Okay, humble brag moment… I rocked July. It was a pretty good month for my small goals. Here’s a quick re-cap on the goals; go to farmer’s markets, start journalling, and get to the cottage. All of these were really attainable, and provided so much mental relief.

For journalling, over the years I have had these romantic ideas about buying the perfect journal and writing daily pages. Flash forward, and I now have easily 10 beautiful journals just in my night table with a few pages written over the years in each! Then, I had a client tell me all about how they bullet journal. What they told me was it’s basically like a life planner, journal, list taker, all in one. It’s brilliant… and I’ve been able to keep up with it, and really love the outlet. Check out an example of a bullet journal here. Keep in mind, my bullet journal is incredibly boring. I have a black pen, and my book… that’s it!

August: Pursue a Passion

Ahhhh August. Everyone that knows me in real life, knows that August is actually Hollie-palooza month. It is the month of my birth, and I feel like when August comes around, it’s truly my time to shine. Yes, I’m that person that just LOVES their birthday!!! You also probably know that I have a couple passions… so here’s how I’m going to pursue them:

  • Sign up for a marathon. Ugh, yes. Also confession here, I did this on August 1st… But the thing here that I want to accomplish is just running, not training over the top, just enjoying the process.
  • Write a little more. I have several writing ideas I’d like to pursue, and whether it’s just brainstorming on them, or actually finding a course that would help me… TBA!

That’s it friends, I’m keeping it simple. That is the point of the Happiness Project, working on simple things that make big differences in my life.

Lastly, I’d really like to share with a fun thing that happened to me lately. I was nominated for the Inspire Project in Peterborough. This was such an honour, and am so grateful for this nomination. Take a minute and check out the amazing women that our town of Peterborough has!

 

May is for Mom Life!!

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It’s another new month, which means time for me to start some new goals for My Happiness Project!! April was focused on my work life, and I felt pretty darn good about what I had accomplished last month. If you want to read about those goals, just flip on over here to read them.

I’m dedicating the month of May to improving my “Mom Life”. I feel like this area of my life is somewhat a survival course on a daily basis. At the end of the day if my kids are fed, smiling, and dancing in my kitchen, I know we had a good day. But there are areas in which I can improve upon my mothering skills:

  • Play: When my kids ask me to play, I’m going to get down on that floor and drive the damn trucks across it.
  • Get outside: This is one I know I can ace… I love being outside, and so do my kids. They sleep better, they eat better, and they look so much healthier when they play outside. So whether we have a picnic, or just run around like crazy people, its all good!
  • Question time: My 4 year old son asks a million questions, and sometimes I just give him the easiest answer I can think of. BUT I do feel like I can elaborate on these answers, and also ask him more questions to see just how much information he is grasping.

Reading material this month:

  • A book from my childhood. Possibly a Roald Dahl book! Stay tuned on this one.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez
  • A memoir.

That’s it for this month… really it’s just about me stopping in the moment and playing with the kids, instead of mopping the floor, making dinner, or picking up all the toys.

Do you have any goals this month?!?

February: Time for Love

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February marks month 2 of My Happiness Project, and the focus this month is “Time for Love”. When I initially mapped out this project “Time for Love” meant working my relationship with my hubby… well, the plan has shifted a bit to include myself in this plan too.

My husband and I have had a stressful first month of the year, with some personal things popping up, as well as him going back to school while working full-time…  let’s just say that we have had to work as a team more than ever. And I think we have been an amazing team, and am really happy with how we have been coping with these stressors… but as much as it’s fun working as a team to get through the day, I don’t want us to forget about being a couple. So below I’ve listed a couple of goals to work on:

  • Go on a date. This sounds easy. I know couples who do monthly, or even weekly date nights… we are not this couple. Although we really enjoy date nights when we do them, it’s just hard to get a babysitter, line it up with out schedules, and get out the door. So this month, we are going on a date! Stay tuned for the update 🙂
  • Timing. You know that feeling when you have something important to talk about with your significant other, and you just want to get it over with… It’s the end of a long day for both of you, and you decide to just get the conversation over with. This is something I do all the time… but this month I’m going to work on picking the right time to have these important discussions, or decisions. Because just picking the right timing for an important chat can completely change the way it goes.
  • Saying Thank You. It’s really easy for me to take for granted the fact that my hubby just does all the things he does. I appreciate it all, from plowing snow, to bathing the kids, to bedtime stories… so I am going to make a better effort at telling him how thankful I am and how much I appreciate the things he does.
  • Self-love. Like I said earlier, it’s been a bit of stressful month. And I think like any parent, I have a hard time taking time for just me. But this month I’m going to force myself to get more comfortable with it. Once a week I am going to make sure I have some “me-time”. It can be a fancy coffee and reading, a pedicure, or just some quiet time!

Some required reading I’m doing this month:

Anywho, that’s it for February! And please in the comments below let me know a great romantic classic that I could add to my reading list this month. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Happy Sunday! Today I’m coming at you with a non-fiction book about creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert has written many novels, but you probably know her best from the bestseller, and movie Eat Pray Love. I had put Big Magic on my required reading list for My Happiness Project for the month of January. I thought that maybe it might inspire me to live a little more creatively and write more.

And you have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simple do not have time anymore to think so small.

The key points of the book are to stop being so afraid of doing what you want to do, and to stand up like your badass self and embrace the thing that makes your heart sing. There is a wonderful story about one of Elizabeth Gilbert’s friend in this book who at the age of 40 decided to start figure skating again. She described that her friend had a completely different feeling within herself when she would skate, even though she hadn’t done it since she was a kid. So she did it, and still does it. She’s not preparing for the next Olympics… but she is happy, and healthier for it.

She also talks about how originality isn’t the key, but authenticity is. The idea of thinking up something entirely original is really daunting. Because in all honesty, how many ideas are really original. All the great writers, songwriters, athletes, and everyday people have most likely been inspired by someone else’s thoughts. So you do you, and embrace the ideas and feelings that make you want to be creative.

To me this book is all about inspired living. I love to read. I love to write. I love to run. I also love my job as an RMT. This book has ignited a fire within me to just do what I love to do, and fully commit to it. Be in the moment, and let the magic take over. And likewise… if you need to go through the motions of your day before you can arrive at your beloved task/hobby, do that without complaints. It’s all part of the process.

It’s nobody’s business but your own.

You may think that the books I’m reading are a waste of time. You may think that my writing is terrible. You may think that my career choice is crazy. But dammit, I really don’t care what you think. I know in my heart that I love these things. I know that the books I read are part of a bigger picture for me. I know the writing that I do is part of my process. And I know for sure that my work is deeply meaningful to me, and my individual clients. So, friends, your opinions are great, but what they are are yours. And this book has taught me to be authentically myself, and go where my heart wants to.

Believe in the magic. Until next time, happy reading!

Podcast listeners may enjoy these with Elizabeth Gilbert: