A Book Lover’s Dream – I’d Rather Be READING

There comes a time for every book lover, when we want to take our nose out of those print pages (yes, I have a preference for print over ebooks) and desire to connect with other readers who also sacrifice every waking hour for a free moment to delve into another world. Not all of us who love the written word, have the luxury to join a local book club or empty our minds for several hours perusing the shelves of a local book store. Sometimes, we must find  book companionship on Goodreads or social media outlets by following our favorite authors and book reviewers. Yet, recently I was given an opportunity to join together with fellow readers and one of my favorite authors, Anne Bogel, and celebrate the launch her upcoming book, I’d Rather Be READING.

 

IRBR1

There’s nothing like the opportunity to be a part of a book launch team as we all anxiously await the early release of the book and the anticipation of connecting with an amazing writer, blogger, and podcaster.

As I had high expectations for I’d Rather Be READING by Anne Bogel, I did not expect her book to bring me back into my bookish world from childhood to adulthood. As she traveled through her own personal book travels, my own path through the written world quickly emerged from the recesses of my memories. Bogel wrote about visiting the library with stacks of books and reading deadlines, while also reminiscing about those days spent in a local book store with her father. Each of her own experiences, not matter how personal, reminded me of a similar bookish adventure I experienced. I did not think this book would give me a chance to return to those childhood moments of when my journey towards reading became a true love and how this progressed into adulthood. It was her literary journey that allowed me to also reminisce about mine.

IRBR

If you are a book lover like myself, you won’t want to wait another second. Pre-order I’d Rather Be READING now and receive not only a book that will bring laughter and bookish memories, but if you pre-order before September 4th at IdRatherBeReading.com you will receive the special bonuses posted from the website below.

Preorder one copy of I’d Rather Be Reading (before September 4)
from your preferred retailer and receive these digital bonuses:

  • FREE digital download of the audio version read by Anne
  • Access to Anne’s new class “7 Ways to Get More Out
    of Your Reading Life”, live on August 2
  • Beautiful digital artwork from the book

Preorder two or more copies and receive:

  • All of the above digital bonuses
  • Signed book plate
  • I’d Rather Be Reading bookmark
  • Postcard print from the book
  • Bookish stickers from the Modern Mrs Darcy shop

IRBR2

 

Don’t waste a moment by ordering this late. Because I’d Rather Be READING might just be calling your name, for we all know that sometimes we don’t find the books, the books find us.

“Happy Reading!”

Beautifying the Holidays

Let’s Enjoy Each Other’s Company.

The Holidays can be a difficult time for year for many people. Whether it’s due to a loss of a loved one, being alone and not having people to share it with, or the stress inflicted by relatives around you, it is also the time of year we can step back and learn to appreciate the simple pleasures in life, such as family, friends, our daily blessings and to become more grateful while giving back to others.

Sometimes we forget how to handle the stress of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years that we get caught up in ourselves and our own desires, while forgetting the needs of others. Instead of focusing on the gifts, the food, or the parties, let’s focus on spending time together or going out of our way for someone who is dealing with a difficult time. Learn to enjoy the company of every person, whether we get along or not. Annoy them with kindness! You know the saying, “kill them with kindness”.

IMG_1310
Credit: DMHeckenkamp

This isn’t easy advice to follow. It’s easier to give our time and money to those we love and show respect in return, but sometimes it means more to out of our way and enjoy the company of those who we cannot handle! Enjoy your Holiday Season and take time to think and care for not only those you love but those who might annoy you, but also are deserving of love too.

The Special Moments.

1.   Pick one person in your life who needs to feel loved and do something extra special for them. Send them flowers, make them cookies or even a funny card in the mail will brighten their day.

2.   Go out of your way to invite someone out for coffee who might annoy you, but needs a shoulder to lean on.

3.   Make extra time for those you love. You might make a small effort here, but don’t they deserve your time and attention. Even setting up a date night for you and your significant other or even more fun, schedule a date night for a couple who hasn’t had a night out without the kids in awhile.

4.   Truly take the time to listen to someone. Instead of zoning out when someone is seeking advice or even just to be listened to, maybe try to absorb what they are saying and be interested in them.

5.   Learn to love others more than yourself. This might seem obvious, or you are rolling your eyes at this point, but life has enough tragedies, woes and selfish people who want the attention all the time. Take a moment to accept your sufferings, appreciate your blessings, and stop dwelling on your own problems, oftentimes you will realize that others have it much worse and are in dire need of a friend.

The Importance of Family Time

As the cooler temperatures creep upon us, (what do I mean creep? It has been in the 70’s and 80’s for far too long in Wisconsin) it is that time of year when we all need to take a step back and examine more than just our life, but the lives of those around us. With the start of school and fall activities, one thing should become clear to us as the carefree days of summer disappear – the importance of family/framily time.

IMG_0543
Photo Credit: Katy Oberst

Family dinners were always a huge part of my childhood and even though my brothers and I might have missed a few when we were in high school, in exchange for our sports and after school clubs, but looking back, I wish we hadn’t. I’m very grateful for those activities, but looking at the bigger picture they appear very insignificant now. But I suppose that is part of life and learning to grow into a better person.

From the moment my husband and I started our family, we wanted to focus on family time, and so every night we sit down to eat as a family. I am grateful for this, no matter if we are rushed some nights to get out the door for soccer or if other nights we enjoy an hour dinner to make up for the rushed evenings, but this is our time and something that we value. This means putting away any distraction for the time being – whether that’s homework, cell phones, work papers, none of that matters during our dinners.

Family time doesn’t only include dinners, but we heavily value our Sundays. Each weekend it may look different, but overall, it is quality time spent with our children. Whether getting together with extended family for a game of soccer in the backyard, watching the Packers, or taking a naps after enjoying brunch, whatever encompasses our Sunday, it always includes time with our kids.

I’m not going to pretend that technology is obsolete on a Sunday and we have resorted to the “Old” Days, but we don’t want to waste too much time with those distractions. It isn’t always easy, because sometimes all I want to do is scroll through Twitter mindlessly. But that isn’t what my children need and when it comes to “family time” it’s about our family as a whole not as individuals.

So, find what keeps your family grounded. How do you come together? Are you working towards something bigger than just one or two people? How do you create an experience that not only allows, but forces you to understand and learn more about each other? If we don’t know the members of our immediate family, then we aren’t truly living. These are the people who will be there for us through thick and thin (even if it takes awhile to get over last year’s family reunion) but they are still family.  It might take awhile to find your family’s “thing” and sometimes if you have been gifted with a friend who is like family then you are truly blessed to open your circle and to grow in love. Continue searching, and eventually, you will find what brings your family joy and you won’t want to let it go. It will be worth missing the parties, the overtime at work, lunch with friends, and even the addicting Instagram stories because your family is where you can be yourself and where you can rejuvenate for the upcoming week. Put your family as a priority and everything else will quickly fall into line.

Motherhood is More than a Mirror Image

We all do it. We all stand in front of the mirror every morning, some mornings are less hectic than others. But we all stand in front of that mirror looking for the flaws, the pieces of us that only we can see. The pieces of don’t really make us into the person we are inside. This rings true even more so with mothers. There’s something about mothers, who sacrifice each day of their lives for the sake of their family, but only focus on the negatives and I am no exception to this bad habit. It’s time that we truly begin to value our worth and learn to love ourselves as we are. We stand in front of that mirror with self-pity, something my grandmother told me to never have, yet there it is creeping in. But why? Why do we allow ourselves to only focus on the mirror image?

IMG_1048
Credit: DMHeckenkamp

Maybe it’s from the fact that we spend more time getting our children ready than ourselves. Shower? Who has time for a shower?

Maybe it’s because we spend hours making dinner, but only get an opportunity to finish the toddler’s plate of picked-over food. We really can’t blame the toddler for our actions.

Maybe it’s because we no longer find the desire to go shopping for clothing because it either won’t fit or it will only get covered in food from the two year old’s fingers.

Maybe it’s because we would rather spend the time sleeping than taking a shower and putting on makeup. We have all been there.

Maybe it’s because leggings are more comfortable than anything else. Don’t get me started on my opinion of leggings as pants.

Moms. These aren’t good enough excuses. Yes, we have a tough job, one of the toughest as we teach our children how to obey, behave in social situations, and learn life lessons, but they still aren’t good enough excuses.

We are all tired, and yes, there are many different stages of motherhood. Of course, if you just had a baby, you get a pass. If you are going through mental turmoil, you get a pass. If there is a death in the family, you get a pass. But don’t allow these passes to become part of your everyday routine. If we want to teach our children to be upstanding citizens one day, then be their first example. Teaching is more than just speaking words, it is actions. Just like the infamous saying, “actions speak louder than words.” Something my grandmother would repeat to me on a daily basis. What are our actions saying to our children?

Are we telling our children, by our behavior, that only high expectations apply to others? Or are we setting the bar high for ourselves making it easier for our children to follow, because they will follow. Are we showing ours friends, family, and strangers that we have given up on life during this “stage”? Because if that’s the case, then motherhood doesn’t look very appealing to young women.

Motherhood is difficult, but did we really expect it to be easy? There are countless expectations from society and even ones we put on ourselves. Motherhood is a gift, a true vocation of pure selflessness. That doesn’t mean we should take care of everyone else and not ourselves. We must also care for ourselves, because if we don’t, our families and friends will also suffer the consequences.

Motherhood is not a mirror image. What you see is not what you get. EVER. But that is fine. We must only be able to recognize who we truly are within ourselves so that we may help our families thrive and our children learn to grow in virtue and goodness. If we are to look for what is good, true, and beautiful, as mothers, we should be the first to portray that image. For if families cannot be the first to give this gift to society, then what do we have left to rely upon? Because the world is dark and full of heartache, yet, what better place to bring light than through ourselves as mothers and through our children. We can’t change the hate in the world, but we can start by taking care of ourselves which will in turn transfer to our children – the ultimate gift from God.

 

IMG_0686 (1)
Credit: DMHeckenakmp

How Do You Like Your Coffee?

There’s something very telling about a person and how they drink their coffee. As a mother, I survive on many cups of coffee, but that wasn’t brought about by motherhood. I was an avid coffee drinker before children. I’d have to say that my coffee taste has changed from a light blend of coffee with cream and sugar to a dark roast with only half and half, no sugar. Have you ever thought what your cup of coffee might say about you?

coffeeheckenkamp
Copyright: Danielle Heckenkamp

Black?  Cream?  Sugar?   Flavored syrup?  Whipped cream?  A touch of cinnamon?

Whatever your coffee preference, you will be surprised how it relates to who you are as an individual.  Do you make the most of your talents and experiences while using them to further your passions, career or hobbies?  Or do you sit by the wayside hoping someone will notice your talents and only plan on utilizing them if you are given constant recognition?

Our culture has attempted to eliminate “personal pride” with a fear of offending others who might not have achieved the same as us. That’s no way to live life as God has given each one of us unique abilities. So, instead of comparing, or allowing jealousy to ruin relationships, spend that energy on improving yourself and ultimately for the good of society.

We only get one chance at life, don’t waste your limited time. As a mom, I quickly discovered my need for personal time to decompress and what my talents were most needed in my vocation. That might be through running, cooking, reading, crafting, painting, event planning, whatever it might be, find the time to discover your passions.

What does your coffee drink says about you?


Black Coffee:  If you prefer your coffee without any teasers, then you probably don’t easily change your mind and it’s difficult for you to stray from a consistency.  This is a great quality, as you are very reliable, but be prepared, your opinions may not always be the best for everyone else.  Show your talents, use your God-given gifts, but remember to occasionally step out of your comfort zone. Caught you! This is your chance to take your big dreams and put them into action. Stopping dreaming and start making things happen – you have the abilities.

Coffee with Cream: You can’t drink coffee without cream?  Then you are reliable, organized and flexible.  You are probably stubborn, because unfortunately you can’t drink black coffee or coffee with sugar; you have restricted yourself to a specific taste!  You know what you want in any given situation and can make quick decisions. You are flexible not only with your creamer, but with any curve-ball thrown your way as well. Try to focus more on the details – this might not come easy, but sometimes the details are extremely important. You are able to vary the amount of creamer without freaking out, most of the time…

Coffee with Sugar:  These are the people who love the sweet things in life.  Not just sugar-wise but they take advantage of every adventure life throws at them.  Talk about flexible, these people are willing to try anything.  However, they like to try many things all at once, they get really excited and they may have a difficult time following through as new excitements pop up.  If you want to have a great time, find a coffee-mate who loves their sugar! (These include all of those addicting tasty treats: Frappuccino concoctions and syrup laden lattes)

Espresso: If you are one of the rare people who prefer a shot or several shots of espresso then I salute you. Once in a blue moon this is my drink of choice, but it’s normally after a night of absolutely no sleep or a day I choose to forget. If you drink espressos on a daily basis, and I mean, every. single. day. then you are natural born leaders and like to view life as black and white, but that also means it is difficult for you to let loose and enjoy the sweet things in life. Maybe next time, liven up your espresso with caramel sauce and whipped cream, just for something different. Do the same thing in your life, take a few days off from your demanding job and drink your espresso alone at a coffee shop without your phone (no technology!), you don’t event get a book. This time just sit alone with yourself and think in quiet, if you can do this, then next time choose a book that motivates you to be even a better person.

 

coffeemagnolia
Copyright: Danielle Heckenkamp                     A fun, yet inspiring book!

Now this isn’t an exact science, but it sure was a great conversation starter at my last dinner party.  It’s your turn. Ask your friend, “how do you like your coffee?”

The Happy Jar – A Children’s Book of Memories

If you are looking for a great children’s book for the start of summer vacation – I recommend The Happy Jar, written by Jake Frost. I always love a children’s book that draws our little people into a deeper understanding of life and The Happy Jar is just that – a book about family and the little moments that help the world go around. I definitely recommend it! My eight year old daughter read it to my son’s kindergarten class and the children loved the book. It’s a great way to start summer vacation as a family – create your own happy jar.

image2.JPG
Photo Credit: DMHeckenkamp

I look forward to asking my children what they see in their own “happy jar”. Here are a few of my “little moments”:

Snuggles with my children

Kisses from the 19 month old

Drawings from my 8 year old

My husband as we walk together side-by-side each day of our lives

Date nights with my husband

Good friends who are always there for me

A warm and loving home – a secure place for my family

My parents and siblings who love unconditionally

Rainy days and books

Sunny days and sparkling water

The smell of freshly cut grass

Campfires and roasted marshmallows

LOVE

 

What’s in your Happy Jar?

image1.JPG
Photo Credit: DMHeckenkamp

A Whirlwind of Transitions

The past year has been a continue stream of transitions for our family. From the decision to prepare our house to sell last spring to now being in the final stages of building, it has been a total whirlwind. I am grateful for the many, many ups and several downs (as every situation is a learning experience), but through the entire process, I have come to one very concrete and meaningful conclusion for me. It was something that I knew all along, but sometimes (and only sometimes… kidding…) I need a refresher.

IMG_8064
Credit: DMHeckenkamp

Do you want to know my eye-opening experience? It’s really very eye-opening, but after learning to adjust our living style during the purging/packing process, the selling & “staging” process of our home, to the moving, and now the second purging/packing attempt before we move into our almost built home – yes, there has been a ridiculous amount of time spent “getting rid of stuff”. I have come to really dislike unnecessary “stuff” – the things that hold us back from what truly matters, our family and friends.  I have come to truly appreciate the time I have with my family and friends – shamefully, I took that for granted. I am grateful for the time we spend together as we laugh, play games, read, or even clean together. These memories make the days worthwhile even if it’s while we accomplish the most meaningless tasks.

I did have to laugh today as I was listening to the Jennifer Fulwiler Show on Sirius XM while she briefly spoke with Rachel Balducci about organizing and dealing with the “hoarders” within a  family. There are definitely a few hoarders within my family too. In fact, when my daughter was young we would call her the “bag lady”, because she would carry bags of clothes and toys around for fun. She even had a specific bag for her tissues, just in case her nose needed to be wiped (that was her idea, not mine…).  My children have reached a point that if they can’t find a toy, then they assume “mom gave it away”. (I honestly can’t remember everything I give away versus toys they misplace…) At first their comment made me sad, but they quickly moved onto another toy, just as adults move from “toy” to “toy”.

The moral to my rant is rather short and sweet. Through these many “transitional phases” I have experienced over the past 12 months, nothing in life is worth its’ value, except the hearts and souls of the people placed in our lives – particularly of our family and close friends. The purging and hoarding doesn’t mean anything if we continue to purchase more items to fill a void. Happiness cannot be found in this life among these growing piles of “junk”, the piles only encourage us to purchase books about cleaning, organizing, and purging. Then we end up with a mini library of such related books.

IMG_8164
Credit: DMHeckenkamp

 

Our society has become so absorbed with organizational skills, yet we honestly don’t have much to show for the past several years of these Best Selling books attempting to give advice. Instead of focusing solely on items, we need to focus on ourselves and what we are lacking – not in a material sense, but in a spiritual sense. Do we find solace in material goods due to our loss of personal relationships? Or maybe we search so long for comfort and peace that we fail to look inside ourselves. In a culture that is so self-absorbed, we have failed to examine ourselves in the most crucial way – within the confines of faith, hope, truth, and charity. I think it’s time that we put down the countless advice books relating to emptying our homes and start by reading a book that will let us open our hearts to those around us. For this world will continue to suffer if each one of us chooses to focus on our material items rather than our interior lives. So let’s agree to “purge” for the last time and instead, let’s create a home where we can grow together as a family and open our hearts to our neighbors and friends who search to fill a void with the useless “treasures” of this earth – for no everlasting can be found here.