Monday, January 27, 2014

What's Your Purpose?

While drinking my coffee, I rest one hip against the counter and watch my kids enjoying their breakfast.

Watch as they feed themselves and joke with each other, laughter filling the room.

My heart feels lighter just by being around these sweet boys.

I wonder about the kind of people they will become. I wonder about the trials they will face. I wonder about the successes they will have. I wonder about their purpose.

Which made me think about my purpose.

Ever think about your purpose?

Wonder what it is you are supposed to be doing?

Why exactly are you here on this earth?

(Wait! Don't go anywhere! Just hear me out.)

I'm not one who is normally prone to such substantial pondering but I couldn't help thinking about it the other day. 

And then I had a realization, an epiphany, if you will.

What if you are right where you need to be?

What if your purpose is exactly what you are doing right now?

What if your purpose is to be the best accountant, best teacher, best nurse, best mail carrier, best fireman, best writer, best chef, you can be.

What if your purpose is to be the best mother, best father, best husband, best wife, best friend, best sister, best brother, you can be.

We are not all called to cure cancer. Or solve the mystery of dark matter. Or locate the remnants of Noah's Arc.

Nor should we be.

If this was everyone's purpose, then how would we function as a society? Who would put out the fires? Who would do our taxes? Who would take care of the books in the library? Who would teach our children? Who would enforce the law? Who would deliver the mail?

So is your current purpose less honorable?

Can we be at peace with where we are right now?

Why can't this be a meaningful purpose?

I challenge you to be content with where you are in your life right now. I challenge you to look at your life with the perspective that you are right where God wants you to be (or whatever higher power you believe is in control).

Think about this.

You are the person you are today because of your genetics, your experiences, your successes, your failures, your emotions, your knowledge and your memories.

All of these things work together to place you right where you are at this moment.

This is not random. This is not accidental.

As Master Shefu in Kung Fu Panda says, "There are no accidents."

And I, for one, happen to believe him.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Standing up, I reach my arms over my head. Stretching out my back. Rolling my neck. I reach up and massage my own shoulders. Man, that feels good.

Looking down at the iPad, I note the time. Dad and I have been doing inventory for 3 hours.

Poking my head out of the stockroom to the front of the store, I yell, "I'm headed upstairs for a snack. Do you want anything?"

I see Dad sitting on a turned over crate, scanning the books on a lower shelf.

Dad replies, "None for me, thanks."

Running up the stairs, I enter the kitchen, stopping only as I spy the fruit basket. Snatching an apple, I head back downstairs. Taking my time, enjoying a moment's break from doing inventory.

Walking back through the stockroom, I spy boxes of new releases delivered yesterday. I wonder if Dad wants to set them out front.

Taking a bite of apple, I stroll through the stockroom doors, mouth full of food, I say, "Did you want me to put out the new releases?"

Dad comes from behind one of the shelves, followed by Adam.

My mind has such a hard time processing what I am seeing that I stare openly at both of them, mouth agape, full of partially chewed apple.

Ever so oblivious, Dad cheerfully says, "Natalie, Adam here told me that he gave you a ride home this morning since the Explorer wasn't working." Adam stands beside my Dad with a big smile on his face.

As quickly as I can, I close my mouth and swallow the apple. Smooth, Nat. Super smooth.

Recovering best I can, I say, "Yes, he was very nice to give me a ride home. Thanks again." 

Clasping Adam on the shoulder, Dad continues, "Adam also said he would be happy to fix your truck. And since we are new to town and I don't know the first thing about fixing cars, I think we will take you up on your offer."


Looking like the cat who ate the canary, Adam interjects, "I would be happy to fix Natalie's car in return for her letting me show her around town, Mr. Turner."

"Oh, please. Call me Rick." Dad corrects. Swell. Even Dad is not immune to Adam's charms.

Adam comments, "I have some free time now, if that works for you, Natalie."

Both sets of eyes settle on me, waiting for a response.

Clearing my throat, I state, "Well, I wish I could but I'm swamped here with inventory." I make a big show of gesturing to all of the books as if he wasn't aware we are in a bookstore.

Waving his hand in the air, Dad announces, "Don't worry about that. There is no rush. Go and enjoy yourselves."

Grasping at another straw, I state, "Well, I wouldn't want to inconvenience you."

Adam assures me, "I have two sisters and I would hope someone would show them around if they were in a new city. It would be my pleasure." So you took out the "dutiful big brother" card. Well played, Adam. Well played.

Adam shoves his hands in his jacket and rocks back on his heels. He looks smug. He grins even broader, if that's possible.

Realizing, I have no other excuses, I mutter, "Let me go get my coat."

Adam's eyes twinkle as he says, "No problem."

Spinning around on my heel, I head back through the stockroom and up the stairs. Grabbing my coat from the hall closet, I stomp my foot for good measure.

Thanks for throwing me to the wolves, Dad. 

Okay, wolf. One arrogant and narcissitic wolf. One handsomely, attractive wolf. With the greenest eyes and dark hair and full lips. Those lips that quirk into the cutest smile.

Running a hand down my face, I look at myself in the mirror. I take in my green sweater, my wavy auburn hair hanging loosely at my shoulders, my gray eyes.

Maybe I should put on some make-up. 


That would mean I'm interested. I'm not interested. TOTALLY not interested.


So he's cute? So what?! He knows he can get any girl he wants. I knew boys like that back in high school. Boys like that are trouble. Nothing but trouble. Probably lots of steamy, sexy, trouble...

Another entry with Nat and Adam. I'm totally digging the interplay between these two!

The post before this one was "Does Coffee Count?"

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Does Coffee Count?

Approaching The Cozy Nook, I tilt my head further towards the window to see any signs of life inside. The curtains are pulled back in the living room so I know Dad is awake.

Coming to a stop in front of the building, Adam announces, "Here we are. Safe and Sound." He smirks as if he can't help but smile at his hilarity.

Clearing my throat, I say, "Thanks for the ride home."

Because not only is he the hottest guy in this town but he is also Prince Charming, he inquires, "Would you like for me to take a look at your engine? It would be no problem. You can consider it a welcoming gift." His mouth lifts to one side as tries to contain that annoying (yet sexy) grin of his.

I really don't do the damsel in distress very well. I can take care of myself. Thank you very much.

I politely decline, "Thank you but that's not necessary. I'll have my Dad take a look at it." Okay, Dad doesn't know a lick about fixing the Explorer but Adam doesn't need to know that. Dad fixing a car is as likely as Frosty the Snowman getting a suntan.

Grabbing my backpack and opening the truck door, I turn back to Adam. "Well," I concluded, "thanks again. See you around."

Winking, Adam says, "Definitely, snow bunny."

Closing his door with a satisfying thud, I head to the front of the store and fish out my keys. Halfway inside the door, I realize I never heard Adam leave.

Risking a glance over my shoulder, I find him staring at me from inside the car. He looks serious. Deep in thought. In a flash, the serious expression is gone. His grin is back. Putting his hand to his forehead in a military salute, he heads off down the street.

Ooookay. Kind of sweet. Kind of creepy. 

Walking to the back of the store, I head towards the stockroom. Once inside, I make for the stairway, right inside the door.

Going up the stairs, I enter into our small living room that opens up to the kitchen. The hallway is on the right leading to two bedrooms each with their own bath. There is nice wood trim, painted white, around each of the windows which are currently open to the sunshine. 

Not to shabby as apartment living goes.

I see Dad sitting at our kitchen table drinking coffee and reading the morning paper. I drop my backpack by the table and lean down to give him a peck on the cheek.

"You know you can read the newspaper online," I inquire. 

I enjoy giving Dad a hard time about reading things on paper. When in actuality, I love books just as much as he does.

Dad feigns outrage, "When did that happen? Why wasn't I informed? How did I not know about this?!"

Grabbing the orange juice and a glass, I sit down at the table. "Have you eaten?"

Dad answers, "Does coffee count?"

Sighing, I say, "No, coffee doesn't count. Let me make you some breakfast."

Dad says, "You are too good to me, Natalie."

Reaching for the eggs, I state, "That is true." I make us a spinach and cheddar cheese omelet with sliced bacon. Skiing always gives me an appetite.

In between mouthfuls of food, Dad questions, "Stevens Pass?"

I respond, "Yes. That is my favorite trail to go on. I like going out there early in the morning. I like the feeling of having the world all to myself."

"Sounds nice," Dad says.

I state, "It makes me feel hopeful, you know?"

Dad's eyes turn sad as he pushes his plate away, he says, "Yes. I remember that feeling."

Suddenly, my eggs feel like a lump of cold concrete. I no longer have an appetite. Swallowing them quickly, I change the subject. "So, do we need to work on inventory today?"

Dad pushes his glasses up top of his head and rubs his eyes. "Sure. I guess we'd better get to it."

I'm halfway to the sink with both our plates when Dad inquires, "Who's truck was that outside?"


Shrugging, I state, "Oh my old hunk of junk wouldn't start so I got a ride home." Knowing my "hunk of junk" comment would throw him off the trace.

Dad jokes, ""Hunk of junk? Maxwell is part of the family. That is no hunk of junk."

Shaking my head, I say, "Dad, no one names their cars. You realize you are 'the crazy old professor who names their cars', right?"

Giving me a wink, he retorts, "I'll have you know its 'the crazy old bookstore owner who names their cars' now. Show a little respect."

It is my 2nd Blog Birthday! Woo hoo! Let's celebrate with another addition to Nat and Adam's story with the introduction of Nat's Dad.

If you would like to follow the story up to this point, you can check out 'Sometimes I Write A Little Fiction'.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Most Anticipated Books of 2014

When you are lounging around in your free time, what is it you enjoy doing?


I said "free time"!


Oh gosh!

Give me a minute.

*Wipes tears from eyes.*

That is some funny stuff.


But seriously, when you have some, what do you like to do in your free time? If the answer is read books, you are in luck!


Where are you going?!

These book recommendations are from ALL genres, not just my favorite YA dystopia. There is bound to be something you would enjoy.

There are about 270 books on my "to read" list on Goodreads. "Hello, my name is Michelle and I'm a readaholic."


But there are probably only a couple dozen that I am super excited about. I'm talking "open the refrigerator to find the last piece of your favorite cake in there when you thought it was gone" excited.

Some of these are books coming out this year and others are already published but I haven't read yet. These books, I am most looking forward to reading this year.

So, without further ado, here is a list of my most anticipated books of 2014.

1. Ignite Me (Shatter Me Series #3) by Tahereh Mafi
2. Three (Article 5 #3) by Kristin Simmons
3. Bossypants by Tina Fey
4. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
6. Be With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout
7. Mortal Beauty by Ann Aguirre
8. Fates by Lanie Bross
9. The Falconer by Elizabeth May
10. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
11. Tangled Souls by Jana Oliver
12. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
13. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
14. Survivor Roundup by Angela Scott
15. The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
16. The Beautiful and The Cursed by Page Morgan
17. White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout
18. Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield
19. Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
20. The Lonesome Young by Lucy Connors
21. Panic by Lauren Oliver

Are there some books listed here that you have read? What did you think of them? Which books are you looking forward to reading this year?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Save Your Breath

Ever so chivalrous, Adam opens the passenger door of his truck. He bows and gestures to the inside. He says, "My lady, your chariot awaits."

Rolling my eyes, I scoot into the passenger seat. This guy is a piece of work.

Climbing into the driver's seat, he snaps his seat belt in place, puts the key in the ignition and we are off.

As he nears the exit of the parking lot, Adam inclines his head towards me. He asks, "So, where to?"

"The Cozy Nook," I answer.

Raising an eyebrow, he says, "I don't think they are open this early in the morning."

I say, "Dad owns the bookstore. We live in the apartment above."

Adam responds, "So you guys are the new owners of that old store."

"That's us," I quip.

Grinning, he says, "Welcome to Mountain Springs."


"And may I ask what brings you to our fine city?" Adam asks.

Turning to look out the window, I quietly say, "We wanted a change of pace." I can feel my eyes begin to tear up. Swallowing the lump in my throat, I force those painful thoughts away.

Adam picks up on my non-verbal cues and decides to change the subject. He questions, "Are you enrolled in one of the colleges around here?"

I answer, "I go to the U." The U being short for our state university.

Surprise registers across his face. "Really? Me too." He says.

Smirking, I say, "I know. We are in the same geography class." Secretly I am taking pleasure in having one up on him. Ha! Mr. Boy-Man-Wonder!

He looks momentarily stunned. Then he grins. Smiling at me before looking back at the road, he says, "Well, I should have my head examined because I can't believe I haven't noticed you before."

Raising an eyebrow at him, I cock my head to the side. "Seriously?" I question.

He looks dead serious when he responds, "Seriously."

Shaking my head, I clarify, "No. I mean are you seriously trying to use that line. Do girls really fall for this stuff?"

He laughs good-naturedly and answers, "Oh yes. Lots of girls would say I am extremely charming."

"More like extremely irritating," I countered, crossing my arms over my chest.

He gives me the look. 

You know. 

The smolder. 

An honest to God "smolder". And I'll be, if a million little butterflies didn't take flight and flutter around in my stomach.

He questions, "What is your major?"

I answer, "I'm thinking about Physics or Psychology. I like them both."

Adam looks impressed. He states, "You like Physics. I didn't know people voluntarily liked Physics. This has got to be a first."

Smiling despite myself, I reply, "I was in a couple of advanced Physics classes in high school and I really liked them."

He quips, "I guess that means you aced those courses."

I say, "Yes, it does."

Whistling under his breath, "Brains and beauty. Who knew?", he teases.

Smirking, I retort, "Save your breath, pretty boy. That won't work on me."

He says, "You said 'pretty boy' which means you think I am hot." His smile grows broader. "Admit it."

Rolling my eyes again, I clarify, "I'll admit you may have a screw lose."

He insists, "You are totally into me."

I retort, "I am not interested in the slightest." Liar.

Risking a glance at me, Adam insists, "We'll see about that, snow bunny. We shall see." His eyes twinkle with mischief and smiles knowingly as if he already knows the outcome.

Here is another entry with Nat and Adam. If you missed the first two parts, you can find them here and here.
I think I'm liking the interplay between these two characters. Let's see where it goes.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Well That Explains A Lot

The internet.

It is simultaneously the best and the worst thing to happen in quite a long time.

It's good if you are searching for the meaning of a word or looking for reviews on the restaurant where you are eating or if you are looking for where you might like to vacation.

It's bad if you have an ailment and you want to figure out what exactly is your diagnosis.

"Oh, look. I must have a cavity!

"No wait! A root canal. I'm gonna have my faced drilled on!"

"Definitely, it's gingivitis. Look at these red, puffy gums."

"I just know it's periodontal gum disease! I'm going to have to have surgery on my face!"



So, needless to say, the internet can also make you a little crazy if you let it.

However, there are a lot of great things out there too.

For example, parent blogs.

Reading on of my many favorite parenting blogs out there, I came across a book, "Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka".

This book is amazing, guys. Seriously.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking there are a MILLION parenting books out there so what makes this one so special.

I'm so glad you asked!

This book is very straightforward, easy to understand and basically just uses common sense.



Let me explain.

This book talks about many different concepts that most people already have common knowledge of. She speaks about 'spirited children' who are normal kids who are just more - more intense, more sensitive, more perceptive, more persistent.

For instance, she talks about the power of labels.  She speaks of taking negative labels and turning them into positive ones. Some examples she gave were:

Negative Label                             Positive Label
Nosy                                            Curious
Stubborn                                       Assertive
Wild                                             Energetic
Picky                                            Selective 
Whiny                                          Analytical

It seems like a simple thing to do, and it is, but I think it can have a huge impact. She says to teach yourself these new labels and use them to discipline your children.She says the feelings and images you create with these new labels are totally different from the old lousy labels.

I have discovered that since I am using more positive labels it has helped how I view my kids, therefore I am much more positive in my interactions with them.

Another concept she covers are Extroverts vs. Introverts

Now, as a former Psychology major, this concept is old hat to me. However, looking at it from a parent's perspective as how it relates to my kids, I see this concept in a new way.

She explains that Extroverts and Introverts get their energy in different ways. Extroverts recharge by being around people, talking with people and interacting with people. On the flip side, Introverts recharge by having time alone away from people, maybe to read a book, play a video game or watch some TV.

She says that the child who is an Extrovert who follows you around all day and always wants your attention is not trying to drive you crazy. They are simply Extroverts and that is how they recharge, by being around you. Extroverts think by talking, are outgoing, tend to talk more than listen and want to tell you about their ideas right away.

Likewise, the child who is an Introvert prefers to watch before joining an activity, likes doing things by themselves and becomes grouchy if around people for too long.

Again, so simple but very profound. I realize my kids aren't trying to drive me crazy by wanting my attention all the time, but as Extroverts it is part of their personalities. As a result, I am more patient and less snappish (is that a word?) with the kids.

One of the big issues she tackles is sleeping. She says many books mention the "cry it out" method for sleeping. This will not work for spirited children. Some children get more upset and can cry for hours at a time or get so upset they throw up.

She states some kids need more help getting to sleep. Some kids may need to have their back scratched or have 5 stories read to them or need you to snuggle with them. All of these methods are acceptable. Different stratagies work for different kids.

Other ideas are not taking a bath too close to bedtime as it elevates the body temperature and it will take a while for a spirited child to relax as their body temperature regulates. Another idea is keeping the TV and the iPad/iPod/etc. off before bedtime as these things tend to get spirited children wound up.

Hubby and I discovered that keeping the boys away from the TV and electronics before bedtime does help them relax and fall asleep faster. We also find that if we give them a bath right before bedtime that it takes them a lot longer to fall asleep. 

After reading this book, I thought, "Well this explains a lot!" Gotta love those light bulb moments.

If you are looking for a good, straight forward approach to parenting with real world solutions, I would check out this book.