Book Review: The Gift of an Ordinary Day

The Gift of an Ordinary Day:  A Mother’s Memoir

by Katrina Kenison

the-gift-of-an-ordinary-day-cover

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I bought this book at a library book sale several years ago, and it has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since.  Whether I purchased it because of the title or because of the cover (yes, I do initially judge books by their covers), I don’t remember.  I had never heard of it before, so it wasn’t because of a recommendation.  It may have just called out to me, as books often do.  So, I bought it, and it sat on my shelf for years.  The reason I chose this book to read among all the books on my shelf at home is just as puzzling to me.  It just had a way of calling out to me, saying “now is the time to read this.”  When that happens, I trust…because those are the books that often have the greatest impact on my life.  This one did not disappoint.

Summary (from Goodreads)

The Gift of an Ordinary Day is an intimate memoir of a family in transition-boys becoming teenagers, careers ending and new ones opening up, an attempt to find a deeper sense of place, and a slower pace, in a small New England town. It is a story of mid-life longings and discoveries, of lessons learned in the search for home and a new sense of purpose, and the bittersweet intensity of life with teenagers–holding on, letting go.

Poised on the threshold between family life as she’s always known it and her older son’s departure for college, Kenison is surprised to find that the times she treasures most are the ordinary, unremarkable moments of everyday life, the very moments that she once took for granted, or rushed right through without noticing at all.

The relationships, hopes, and dreams that Kenison illuminates will touch women’s hearts, and her words will inspire mothers everywhere as they try to make peace with the inevitable changes in store.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  This book must have been calling out to me because I chose to read it at a time in my life where I could really relate with the author.  As her teen boys approach the end of their time living at home, she feels a desperate need to spend more time being present with them, holding onto what is left of their time together under one roof, and appreciating every moment of it.  My daughters are a few years younger than her boys were when she wrote the book, but I still feel the urgency of savoring those moments, those “gifts of an ordinary day.”  I really loved the author’s writing style, and I felt like I was right there with her throughout the entire story, feeling her every emotion.

The author offers so many valuable insights in this book!  I recommend that every mom of a teenager read this book.  Although I imagine nothing can really prepare us for the inevitable day when our children leave the nest, this book helped to remind me that every stage of life is a gift, and learning to slow down and practice presence and gratitude in each stage will help to ease the transitions.

Find more reviews about this book at Goodreads.

Some of My Favorite Quotes from the Book:

“When we focus on what is good and beautiful in someone, whether or not we think that they ‘deserve’ it, the good and beautiful are strengthened merely by the light of our attention.  When we choose to see and appreciate what is good and beautiful in our children, that goodness can’t help but grow, and their beauty blossoms forth.” (p.169)

“The life we have right here, right now, is the best life there is.” (p.209)

“Grace is available for each of us every day — our spiritual daily bread, but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” ~Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance (p.264)

“Do your work, then step back.  The only path to serenity.” ~Tao Te Ching (p.231)

“The only trust required is to know that when there is one ending there will be another beginning.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes (p.197)

 

Book Review: The Afterlife of Billy Fingers

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers:  How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There’s Life After Death

by Annie Kagan

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers Cover

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 Stars)

Why Did I Read?

This book was recommended to me by my Reiki Master teacher.  When taking the Reiki Master class a few weeks ago, my teacher played a song called “The Swan of Tuonela” by the composer Jean Sibelius.  In the book, The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, Billy tells his sister that cosmic sound is very similar to this song.  My teacher told us briefly what the book was about, and it sounded fascinating to me, so I decided to check it out at my library.

Summary (from Goodreads)

“Annie Kagan is not a medium or a psychic, she did not die and come back to life; in fact, when she was awakened by her deceased brother, she thought perhaps she had gone a little crazy.

In “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers: How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There’s Life After Death,” Kagan shares the extraordinary story of her after death communications (ADC) with her brother Billy, who began speaking to her just weeks after his unexpected death.

One of the most detailed and profound ADC’s ever recorded, Kagan’s book takes the reader beyond the near-death experience.  Billy’s vivid, real-time account of his on-going journey through the mysteries of death will change the way you think about life, death and your place in the Universe.”

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I LOVED this book!  I thought it was fascinating!  I have a strong interest in reading books about Near-Death Experiences, but this book takes it even further.  Although some of the things described are really “out there”, especially near the end, I really believe this is true.  Just have an open mind when reading this book.

I found it to be comforting and reassuring that we are all loved unconditionally regardless of our actions, and there is something great waiting for each of us on the other side, although the experience will be different for each of us based on what our beliefs are.  This book also confirmed my belief that we are eternal souls, and our time on this earth in a physical body is just one way for us to experience new things and help our souls grow.

This book was a VERY easy read.  I read it in about 3 days, although I probably could have read it all in one sitting if I had the time.  I did not want to put it down!

As Billy gave Annie advice throughout the book, here are a few bits of wisdom that I got out of this:

See yourself Billy Fingers

What you achieve on earth is only a small part of the deal.  If there’s a secret I could whisper, and that you could keep, it would be that it’s all inside you already.  Every single thing you need.  Earth is just a stopover.  A kind of game.  Make it a star game.  If I could give you a gift, it would be to teach you how to stay free inside that game, to find the glory inside yourself, beyond the roles and the drama, so you can dance the game of life with a little more rhythm, a little more abandon, a little more shaking-those-hips.” (p.84)

“All beings on earth carry the light from this sphere within them.  That’s why spiritual philosophies say that we are one…the light from the sphere propels your soul into your body when you’re in the womb.  It then becomes the invisible force that gives you life…” (p. 94)

“Don’t overlook the riches contained in the darkness.  Life’s very temporary, so don’t let time just pass.  Let the moments fill you — the ones you judge to be good as well as bad.” (p.95)

“There are many worlds, and the afterlife has many forms.  Where you go, who you meet, and where you meet them is different for different people.” (p. 104)

“After you’re dead, you are able to be in more than one place at a time.” (p. 105)

“Beliefs are big on earth.  People collect them.  Some of these beliefs are helpful, but others just keep you running around trying to follow rules that others have laid down.  They don’t have a lot of personal meaning.  It’s a good idea to sort through your beliefs now and throw out the ones that don’t serve you.” (p. 105)

“People spend lots of time on things that make them unhappy…to cultivate joy, pay attention to what you like.” (p. 152)

“Every single life is valuable in ways you cannot imagine or figure out while you’re alive.  Every single life is a gift.” (p. 154)

Cosmic symphony

See more reviews of The Afterlife of Billy Fingers on Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Millionaire Messenger

The Millionaire Messenger:  Make a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice

by Brendon Burchard

The Millionaire Messenger cover

My Rating ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I am inspired by Brendon Burchard, and I would eventually like to read all of his books.  Until now, the only book I have read of his was The Charge (another 5 star book…see my review).  I have a long list of books I would love to read.  The Millionaire Messenger was on the list, but it was not one that I felt I needed to read right away.  Until a few weeks ago.  When I watched one of Brendon’s free videos promoting his program Experts Academy, he referenced The Millionaire Messenger often and I felt called to read it right away.  So, I got it from my library and began to read…

Summary (From Goodreads)

“In The Millionaire Messenger, Brendon Burchard pulls back the curtains on the once-secretive “expert industry” and shows how to become an influential and highly paid advice expert through websites, books, speeches, seminars, coaching, consulting, and online programs.

Blessed to receive life’s golden ticket – a second chance – after surviving a dramatic car accident, Burchard has dedicated his life to helping others find their voice, live more fully, and follow their dreams.

By following his 10-step program, average, ordinary people can learn to package their struggles, successes, research, or life’s story into advice for others and become experts on any given topic.  In the industry of people who share their advice and knowledge with the world and get paid for it, Burchard is the “guru’s guru.”
If you’ve ever wondered how the gurus spread their message, serve others, and build a real business, then this is a must-read.”

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I found this book to be both inspiring and motivating.  There is so much information in there, and it is difficult to take it all in at once.  It definitely is not a leisurely read.  To get the most out of it, you must do the work.  I found it helpful to have my journal nearby and answer the questions that were presented as I went through the book.  I especially enjoyed the questions he presented at the beginning.  He asks the reader to list 5 things they have learned about a variety of different topics.  I enjoyed answering those questions and learned a lot about myself through that exercise.

I feel like I need to read this book again because it is so packed with content and there are so many of his ideas I want to implement into my work.  If you have a message you want to share with the world, as I do, then I highly recommend reading this book and doing the work involved along the way.

Experts Millionaire Messenger

For more reviews on The Millionaire Messenger, visit Goodreads.

Book Review: The Boy on the Porch

Happy New Year!  Over the holiday break, I was able to enjoy some wonderful quality time with my family, enjoy a little bit of downtime, and even settle in to read a few good books.  My idea of a perfect vacation! 🙂  One of the books I read over the break is a book that has been highly recommended to me time and time again by a good friend of mine: The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech.

The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

The Boy on the Porch cover

My Rating:  ****   4 out of 5 stars

Why Did I Read This Book?

I read this book because a friend of mine recommended it.  She knows the types of books I enjoy, and she thought it was one I would like.

Summary (from Goodreads)

One day a young couple wakes to find a boy asleep on their porch. Unable to speak, the boy cannot explain his history. What kind of person would leave their child with strangers? All they know is that they have been chosen to care for this boy. And as their connection to him grows, they embrace his exuberant spirit and talents. The three of them blossom into an unlikely family, and John and Marta and the boy begin to see the world in brand-new ways.

What Did I Think?

I did enjoy this book.  I read very few fiction books, but I did enjoy this story.  I liked the short chapters, and I liked that it was a VERY quick read.  It held my attention right from the beginning.  There was the perfect amount of suspense to keep me interested and wondering where this boy on the porch came from.  I thought the ending was also perfect.  It put tears in my eyes, and I love books that move me to tears!  I would recommend this book if you are looking for a quick, easy, fun read.  🙂  In all honesty, though, I do not think it is a book that I will read a second time.

If you would like more information about the book or the author Sharon Creech, check it out on Goodreads here.

Book Review: 365 Days of Wonder

365 Days of Wonder:  Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts

by R.J. Palacio

365 Days of Wonder Cover

My Rating: ***** 5 out of 5 stars

Why Did I Read?

I read this book because it goes along with one of my all-time favorite books – Wonder, also by R.J. Palacio.  (You can see my review for Wonder here.)

Summary (from Goodreads)

In the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Wonder, readers were introduced to memorable English teacher Mr. Browne and his love of precepts. Simply put, precepts are principles to live by, and Mr. Browne has compiled 365 of them—one for each day of the year—drawn from popular songs to children’s books to inscriptions on Egyptian tombstones to fortune cookies. His selections celebrate kindness, hopefulness, the goodness of human beings, the strength of people’s hearts, and the power of people’s wills. Interspersed with the precepts are letters and emails from characters who appeared in Wonder. Readers hear from Summer, Jack, Charlotte, Julian, and Amos.

There’s something for everyone here, with words of wisdom from such noteworthy people as Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Confucius, Goethe, Sappho—and over 100 readers of Wonder who sent R. J. Palacio their own precepts.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  I loved that it was a VERY quick read, with one precept per page and a short essay written by Mr. Browne at the beginning of each month.  I loved the way it tied into the book Wonder (which I think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime).  I loved all of the precepts.  I have been writing down quotes I love since I was a little girl, and I had always wanted to compile them all in one place.  365 Days of Wonder contains many of my favorite quotes, and I found the book and all of its precepts to be very inspiring to me.

I love Mr. Browne’s character.  He is a wonderful teacher filled with wisdom, and he passes it on to his 5th graders.  I think he is one of those teachers that makes a huge impact on his students’ lives.  He doesn’t teach just for students to pass a test…he teaches them much more important things, such as kindness, wisdom, justice, etc.  I loved these lines from Mr. Browne’s December essay:  “Teachers need the freedom to teach — freedom they can’t have if they’re only teaching so their students can pass tests.  I’m pretty sure my students won’t find anything about Hector on the Common Core tests.  I’m equally sure that what they learned about Wisdom, Justice, Courage, and Temperance may stay with them for the rest of their lives.” ~Mr. Browne

teacher affects eternity

I would absolutely recommend reading this book, although I would suggest reading Wonder first.  Now that I have read Wonder and I’ve read Mr. Browne’s perspective in 365 Days of Wonder, the next book on my list to read is The Julian Chapter:  A Wonder Story.  I’m looking forward to reading Julian’s perspective.  In this Wonder story, I love the whole concept of getting the different points of view from all the different characters.  It really reinforces the idea that we should not judge others because we have no idea what they are going through, and people act the way they do for a reason.

For more reviews on 365 Days of Wonder, or information about author R.J. Palacio and her books, check it out here on Goodreads.

Book Review: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Book Review: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff

Simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life

by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.

Don't sweat the small stuff cover

My Rating:  ***** 5/5 Stars

Why Did I Read?

I just finished reading this book for the 2nd time this year. The first time I ever read this book was this past April.  I had always heard very good things about it, and when I saw it at the book swap shed at my local recycle center, I was very excited to take it home and begin reading it.  I liked that this book looked like a very quick read, and it was!

Summary

This book is a New York Times Bestseller.  It lists and describes 100 strategies on living a better life.  The topics cover everything from Random Acts of Kindness to being present, practicing humility, quieting the mind, and so much more!  The main message I got from the book is to learn to slow down, relax, and go with the flow.

Goodreads summary of this book:
“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff is a book that shows you how to keep from letting the little things in life drive you crazy. In thoughtful and insightful language, author Richard Carlson reveals ways to calm down in the midst of your incredibly hurried, stress-filled life. You can learn to put things in perspective by making the small daily changes he suggests,including advice such as “Think of your problems as potential teachers”; “Remember that when you die, your ‘In’ box won’t be empty”; and “Do one thing at a time.” You should also try to live in the present moment, let others have the glory at times, and lower your tolerance to stress. You can write down your most stubborn positions and see if you can soften them, learn to trust your intuitions, and live each day as if it might be your last. With gentle, supportive suggestions, Dr.Carlson reveals ways to make your actions more peaceful and caring, with the added benefit of making your life more calm and stress-free.

don't sweat the small stuff quote

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  I loved that it was a very quick read and it could be read very easily in pieces in short amounts of time.  Each of the 100 strategies was about 1-2 pages long, so I found it to be a great book to read anytime I had a few moments to spare (waiting rooms, in line at the gas pump, etc.).  I think all of the advice in this book is excellent.  I think everyone could benefit from slowing down, living in the present, and learning to go with the flow.  I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars.  It is one of my all-time favorite books, and I would recommend it to everyone to read at least once.

When doing some research for this review, I was surprised to learn that the author passed away at a young age.  I am grateful that he put this book out into the world along with several other books.  I am thankful that he shared his wisdom with the world because I personally believe sharing what we know is one of the greatest gifts we can give to others.  Richard Carlson may physically be gone from this earth, but he will forever live on through his writings, and for that I am grateful.

For more information about the author and reviews on Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, check it out here on Goodreads.

Book Review: A Quaker Book of Wisdom

  A Quaker Book of Wisdom:  Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service, and Common Sense

by Robert Lawrence Smith

My Rating:  ***** 5/5 Stars

A Quaker Book of Wisdom Cover

A Quaker Book of Wisdom cover. Click on photo for more reviews at Goodreads.

Why Did I Read?

I just finished reading this book for the 2nd time this year (I read VERY few books more than once, so to be deserving of a 2nd read, it had to be a book I REALLY enjoyed!)  I honestly can’t remember why I read the book the first time.  I probably acquired it from a library book sale or our local recycle center book swap, and I honestly don’t know how long it was sitting on my shelf, but for some reason, that is the book I chose to read.  Maybe it was the title that caught my eye.  I am always eager to learn of the wisdom others have gained, and I enjoy learning about different religions and their traditions.  Also, I liked that it was relatively short and looked like it would be a quick read.

This time I read it because I recently came across a quote from the book that I had written down, and I decided it was worth another read and a formal review on my blog.  This is the quote I had written, my favorite from the book (and excellent advice, in my opinion):

A quaker book of wisdom

Summary

In this book, the author draws on his own life experience and the wisdom of others who have influenced his Quaker outlook on life to describe for us the Quaker values, traditions, and beliefs in regards to:  Silence, Worship, Truth, Simplicity, Conscience, Nonviolence, Service, Business, Education, and Family.  He reinforces throughout the book the main message of Quakerism to “Let your life speak.”  Here is one of the Quaker beliefs that resonated with me:

wisdom begins in silence

In the Epilogue, the author shares and describes for us 10 Life Lessons that he has learned:

  • Seize the present.
  • “Love yourself, whatever faults you have, and love the world, however bad it is.
  • Stop talking and listen to what you really know.
  • Play a team sport you love.
  • Accept the fact that our lives are only partly in our own hands.
  • Believe in the perfectibility of yourself and society.
  • Make your love visible in the world through your work.
  • Seek justice in the world, but not in your own life.
  • Look for the light of God in every person.
  • Let your life speak.

The author wrote this book because he believes “our greatest possession is what we know about life.  We can do no better than to pass along our most precious possessions to those most precious to us.” (and I wholeheartedly agree with him.)

What Did I think?

This really is a wonderful book FILLED with wisdom and lots of great advice.  What a tremendous gift this book is to the world, but especially to the author’s descendants.  Writing this book and putting it out there is a wonderful example of service, giving back, sharing wisdom, and letting his life speak.  He doesn’t just write about these things, he lives them.  If every family had someone to pass on wisdom and put their traditions in writing so they would live on for generations to come, it would be a great thing.  I enjoyed learning about the Quaker values and traditions, many of which coincide with my own personal beliefs.  This is one of my all-time favorite books, and it is one I would recommend for everyone to read!