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.

 

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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.

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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

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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!”

Five Ways to Love Your Life

Life is too short, let’s enjoy the moments of love and try to overcome the heartaches with a smile, because there will be heartaches and lots of them. It isn’t that we should ignore these troubles, but we need to remember that everything shall pass.

Many people go through life only finding the negativity that surrounds them. What a horrible way to live! It seems that this type of mentality would exhaust a person more than having a happy disposition. Life is too short, let’s enjoy the moments of love and try to overcome the heartaches with a smile, because there will be heartaches and lots of them. It isn’t that we should ignore these troubles, but we need to remember that everything shall pass.

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  • Wake up each morning at the same time and preferably at an early time. Depending on your schedule, of course. There is no reason to waste your life away in bed. Carpe Diem! Waking up a bit earlier might give you a few extra minutes that you can enjoy by yourself with a warm cup of coffee and a good book.
  • Schedules are important, but they should never stress you out. If you are making a schedule to improve your chaotic lifestyle then that’s a step in the right direction, but if this schedule is unrealistic and can never be achieved, don’t push yourself into a state of despair. Adjust the schedule, little by little, so that it fits into your life appropriately. Remember, good things usually happen in small steps.

 

  • Smile more, laugh more, talk more, and yes, even listen more! Take a moment the next time you are at the grocery store and count how many people you see smiling, usually the clerks aren’t even happy. Stand out from the norm, make a point to smile at people, make them laugh, and engage in a conversation. Not a conversation all about YOU, but about the person standing in front of you because they deserve kindness too.

 

  • Take care of yourself. If you aren’t happy about your life, your body image, your health, or your financial situation, then it’s time you make changes. Of course, these changes won’t happen overnight, but this is all about setting realistic goals. No one gets out of financial difficulties within 2 months, sometimes it take years or even a decade, but it can be done. Our society is based on wanting self-gratification immediately, but this is completely unrealistic. Find a friend or ask a professional for help to get you back on the right track. Never be afraid to ask for help, it’s okay to be vulnerable.

 

  • Good Things Take Time! Don’t expect your life to change without you initiating those changes. It is easy to pick up a bad habit, but it is so much more difficult to permanently fix those bad habits. They say it takes 21 days to fix a habit, that’s almost a month. Give yourself a month before giving up on your goals! At no point in our lives will we be perfectly happy. There are too many factors outside of our control, but if we make the most of our situations, work to better ourselves, and assist those around us, life will always be good!

Finding a Friend to Last a Lifetime

Sometimes we go through life searching and never quite knowing what we are searching for – sometimes it’s a career change, our purpose in life, and sometimes we find ourselves searching for a friend. And just when we least expect it, an amazing thoughtful person is sent our way. Someone who doesn’t take advantage of our kindness, but desires to give it in return. Someone who stands by us no matter the mood or stage we are going through in life. Those are the true friends, who stick with us through thick and thin. If you have found someone like that, hold onto them, because good friends are hard to find!
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WHAT MAKES A GOOD FRIEND?
But what makes a good friend?  Why does it rarely occur to us that a good friend needs to start with ourselves and maybe, just maybe, we will find that amazing person(s) who will be by our side just because of who we are? It is true that people with similar characteristics are drawn to each other. So, start by becoming the type of person you would like as a friend.

  • A good friend is never in the relationship for their own personal gain. Yes, we all want someone to talk with, to laugh with and to just be ourselves with, but that’s not personal gain as long as we desire the same for the other person. Thinking of others is sometimes one of the hardest things to do, but good habits are formed only by repetition.
  • Friends have each others backs! It’s called devotion, dedication, and sometime with a lot of compromise. We all have to learn these behaviors as adults, whether it’s in the workplace, at home with our spouse, or with our family, but why do people think that this shouldn’t exist within a friendship? It shouldn’t matter where or how you and your friends spend time together, it just matters that you are together!
  • Take it easy and enjoy the ride. We often forget that life is a ride and we really don’t have control over most of it. If we remember that it isn’t all about us, it will make life much smoother. A good friendship will learn to “go with the flow”. Schedules change, moods change, and it’s okay. Friendships should never be exhausting, dramatic, or hurtful. And if you can’t enjoy your time with that friend, then it’s time to weed out the bad, toxic friends.
  • Love your friends. Appreciate their virtues and their vices. You should want to do everything in your power to be there for the people near and dear to you. Everyone desires a happy life, so why not work each day to make the lives of those you love a little bit happier, easier, and above all filled with LOVE! Because all we need is love, right?

 

  • Smile! A happy person can move mountains and make some of the best friends!

 

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE!

A shout-out to my best friend, Katy, of many many years, who has stuck by me through thick and thin, but this is what has made our friendship great. I hope you all find a dear friend who keeps you grounded and laughing at the same time!

 

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If you haven’t read our fabulous book about manners and common sense,

purchase it on Amazon!

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?

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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.

 

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

Surviving Motherhood: It’s Not What I Envisioned…It’s Even Better

Motherhood brings so many different phases. Places we never thought we would go, decisions that seemed so far away when the baby was born, and dreams we thought were simple to attain. We all have dreams and goals for our lives as mothers – whether working out of the home or working in the home. As my oldest reaches her 8th birthday in three and a half months (yes, she has been counting down the weeks), it has brought a sense of reflection for my role and place as a wife and mother.

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It took me a long time to truly value my role as a mom. Yes, it was exactly what my husband and I had wanted and we were so excited to begin a family, but until baby number 4 graced our family, it was a whirlwind experience. Each pregnancy was so different and each child was even more different. I look back at those early years and I was just surviving. Surviving to wake up for the 8th time in one night to nurse an infant. Surviving to stay awake until nap time and entertain the toddler. Surviving to stay on top of the laundry, the cleaning, and the cooking, while also wishing for the next step of motherhood. But what was that next step? Have you noticed that we always wish for the next phase in our lives, but we never know what that entails and somehow we still desire it?

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Looking back, those early years of toddlers and infants were extremely difficult. It was all a new experience for me. My beliefs of what motherhood really included were only slightly true. Somehow, in my dreams, I failed to imagine the screaming two year old who only chose to express himself with a long, loud wail. I envisioned laundry, but somehow I forgot it has to be put into the drawers or hung on a hanger. The thought of cooking for a family sounded creative and fun, but I never thought of the little picky eaters who wouldn’t appreciate the effort (luckily, my husband is very appreciative).

But I eventually learned to call these disappointments “graceful moments”. Small moments of my life as a mom are not what I envisioned. Instead these are moments of self-sacrifice – a true act of love for my family. I don’t have much to give the world through material items, but I can give my love. And isn’t love the greatest gift of all? It is what we all desire in one way or another. We seek love in our spouses, our family and friends, our children, our neighbors, and even from a stranger. A kind word or smile goes a long way.

So through all these small moments, I have realized that motherhood is even better than I imagined. Those sweet kisses and hugs from my children wouldn’t mean as much if I was never tired. Even that screaming two year knows that his mama needs a kiss (even if it’s on my knee while I’m cooking dinner). The self-sacrifices that mothers give and give more each day of our lives is what makes this world beautiful – it continues an ongoing story that has lasted through the ages. So don’t view frustrations and exhaustion as disappointments, they are only small moments of time, but they give us the opportunity to embrace the experiences of motherhood. This may sound like a dream, because in the moment of doing the 5th load of wash with a screaming toddler, it’s difficult to find joy. But we must remember that eventually the laundry will stop, the cooking will slow down, and the screaming toddler will become a 2nd grader and we will look back at those struggling days with joy, because motherhood wouldn’t be such a beautiful vocation if it didn’t involve hard work and self-sacrifice: a true act of love.