I love discussing books with people because of all the different opinions. Some might absolutely hate a book that’s my favorite of all time. I might hate a book that it seems like everyone loves.
For instance the book The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah. I’m sorry y’all, I couldn’t even finish it! I skimmed it so I get the point but really I could not keep reading. It’s the most depressing book I’ve ever read. I normally love the everything Kristen Hannah writes but this was a miss for me.
I also finished Magic For Liars by Sarah Gailey which is a murder mystery mixed with a little magic and some family drama. Really a solid 3 star read. Which means I liked it but nothing to write home about. It was a great change of pace after the ever so depressing Winds.
Finished Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman. I love that author. This one was about a neighborhood and the lives of the people who live there. One struggles with her weight, one is having an affair, there’s a mystery over where one wife went. It was just a bunch of real life stories. Some of which it hit too close to home and I didn’t think I liked it but a few days after finishing it I was still thinking about it and I like that in a book.
Currently reading The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I’m only a quarter of the way in but holy crap this book is just want I wanted. A real escape with mystery and fun banter and witty comebacks. Yup I’m all in on this one.
Listening to Malibu Rising and loving it on audio. Not far enough to say but pretty intriguing right from the start.
That’s all I’ve got. Just a summary of my reading life for now.
I’ve read a lot of self help books, listened to the audio books, gone to the conventions, done the meditation, I get it. We need to find and love ourselves and yadda yadda and so on.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself. There are more than one side to me. I have emotions and different moods and different interest that make it impossible to put me into one category or one box. Even a big one (which it would have to be)! Ha see I can make fun of myself while also loving who I am and the many different versions.
There’s a lot of things not many people know. Like if I could go back and do anything over again… I’d join the military. It wasn’t an option that was presented to me in high school. No not because I’m a woman either. I’m not really sure why other than I was in high school during 9/11 and not many of the girls were jumping to head to Iraq. The point is, that side of me that would want to join, train, push myself, learn a ton, and ride or die serve my country is very appealing to me. It also would have been good for me. Helped the messy, lazier side of me.
The opposite side of me has the desire to be a debutante with fancy dresses, always put together, the vision of class and sophistication. I think overall military training would have helped that side of me. Instead I make due with what I have and try not to drop my kid off at school in my sweats. Try. I can proudly say that in almost a year that’s only happened once. Workout clothes don’t count yet. Baby steps. My friend and I have started a thing… we try to dress every day like we’re meeting and enemy. Which neither of us have but it sets the tone.
Then there’s gangsta Britt. She doesn’t come out often. Mostly cause my mom was not a huge fan and I grew up in the mountains surrounded by cowboys and jocks. Which was delightful overall. But I have that G side that wants to wear giant hoops and red lips while rocking an ‘I don’t care’ attitude and giant sunglasses. It’s really a Khloe Kardashian vibe. I have the sunglasses already.
I’m out going and shy. Introverted but also social. I like adventure and love staying home. I feel very strongly I don’t HAVE to be one thing or the other and my mood changes constantly. I make plans then decide I don’t want to go. That last one is mostly anxiety. Things always sound good then it comes to going and being around people I get uncomfortable. I do better in smaller groups.
I’m learning a lot about myself in my mid-thirties and going through this huge loss has rocked every side of me. It’s more of a struggle every day to put my self together and identify how I feel that day. The urge to stay in sweats is a strong one. Which is stupid because getting up, dressed, and ready to see an enemy actually feels great. It feels more normal and attempts to pull me back to myself. Whichever version that might be.
I read an article about how sometimes we are more comfortable around strangers than we are our own friends. The theory is that when we are around strangers we can try on new versions ourselves that we want to be without our friends calling us out with an “oh my gosh that’s so not you!” With strangers it can be us and they don’t know because they haven’t been around you for ages.
I agree with this. However I also think it depends on your friend group. I have very close friends who know all these sides of me and not one thinks “that’s not Brittany”. Because the closest ones to me know that I’m ever evolving. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do.
I hope no one judges me based on the person I was 15 years ago. Ugh!! Thank goodness I’ve changed and grown. I pray that I’ve matured. Grown more compassionate and understanding. I hope I’ve become less self centered. I know I’ve grown more sure of myself and am less insecure. I may have more anxiety but I have better tools and people to help me with that. I have a better relationship with God.
I like who I’m becoming. Yes I’m still becoming myself at 35. I’m a wife, a mom, a dog mom, a friend, a boss (yup the thought scares me too don’t worry), an employee, and most important I’m me. With all the sides and all the continuing changes. I’m grateful.
I’ve always been hot headed. I’m very reactive and I get fired up easily. I’m working on it. Not very hard but it’s better than nothing. Right?
So now two months after losing Nana, a year of my husband being diagnosed with cancer, and countless, equally as important family trials, I’ve noticed I’m a little more level headed overall. Until I drop my purse getting out of the car. Or forget a key ingredient from the grocery store. Or heaven help me if I wake up and my house is a mess because I didn’t clean it.
It’s the little things now that send me screaming through the house throwing things and swatting at the dogs like Mom-zilla. It’s taken these two months for me to realize that it’s not the knocked over purse, or my forgetful ness, it’s actually grief. Grief manifesting itself in anger and frustration.
I can feel it inside bubbling under the surface waiting for something to send it exploding at unsuspecting targets. Like my child asking for the 5th snack before noon. It’s not her fault. But there are days when arguing over eating a healthy meal feels hard so I cave to snacks then I get mad that she’s hungry for more snacks. Then poor Pat walks in and for F’s sake can you help me feed our child 12,000 meals a day.
See it’s not about the snack. It’s grief coming out to sucker punch me when I’m least expecting it. It’s the sadness that I was dealing with internally all morning that chooses to lash out at my unsuspecting family because that’s easier than crying.
I’m sure they would rather me be sad instead. But at some point I have to start living again and I pride myself on being able to power through. It’s only just now occurring to me that sometimes you can’t just power through on your own.
Here’s what’s been helping me get a leash on my Mom-Zilla moments. Going for a walk with friends. Bible study. Praying. Reading.
Fresh air is exponentially helpful when I’m breaking down. Getting out with a friend and moving and talking always leaves me feeling more refreshed and grounded than before
My friend Heather introduced me to the Bible app that has all kinds of Bible studies that I’ve started doing both on my own and with friends. I am a Christian and truly believe in the power of prayer and that God will bring me through this.
I believe that going through this extremely hard time is God changing me. He’s working on me to come out of this more compassionate and understanding. I hope that I can be there for other people turn this horrifying year into one of growth and change. Talking to him and friends daily has brought a kind of peace to the mom-zilla moments that no other substance could provide.
I also don’t know what I’d do without books. Fiction mostly because I rely on that escape at the end of the day. An hour or two to turn out the lights and leave my world behind for a whole different one. One where anything is possible and for the most part I know everything is going to be okay.
I don’t have everything figured out. But I do all I can and give the rest to God.
As I’ve mentioned Nana passed away. What I didn’t say was all the other loads of crap going on in my life. 2020 was a crummy year for everyone (understatement of the century, I’m aware) but for my family Covid wasn’t even in the top 10 worst things that have happened.
My grandpa was in and out of the hospital for a better part of the year, nana was in and out of the hospital before she passed, my husband has thyroid cancer for the 3rd time, his grandpa passed away, his uncle was diagnosed and passed from pancreatic cancer, and I’ve had other family members in and out of the hospital.
More than once I’ve been told I’m strong. I appreciate the sentiment but I don’t feel strong. I feel like Evelyn Hugo in the book The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. She said “Everyone sort of assumes that when faced with life-and-death situations, you will panic. But almost everyone who’s actually experienced something like that will tell you that panic is a luxury you cannot afford. In the moment, you act without thinking, doing all you can with the information you have. It’s when it’s over that you scream. And cry. And wonder how you got through it.”
While my last year hasn’t been a “life and death” situation it’s been about life. And death. Mixed with turmoil, trauma, hope, connection, and a ton of other things all wrapped up and put on the scariest roller coaster you can imagine. Yes I’ve wanted to throw up many times. like the quote says through it all I’m doing what I can with all the information. Powering through and doing what needs to be done.
I have the best family in the world. We rely on each other and take turns holding each other up and when it comes down to it I’d be lost without them and God.
My other coping mechanism is reading. I’ve always read to escape but over the last year I’m really diving in and getting away from life. Which is probably why I fell head over heels in love with the Throne of Glass series! It was recommended by every platform imaginable and my Instagram book bestie encouraged me to read it. I miss Instagram for that only! Still not going back though.
Anyway I dove right into this series and was hooked. The main character is brilliant and through her story I drew strength. She inspired me and I am a firm believer that books come into our lives for a reason. This seven book series was just what I needed for this season of life.
Throne of Glass Series has so much to offer and there were sections that were extremely emotional. Lots of people post about trigger warnings and I think it’s important for you to know if reading something would be beneficial or triggering. For me reading emotional or powerful things is healing. There are times I can’t even identify what I’m feeling but I pick up my book and next thing I know I’m ugly face crying trying to explain to Pat that it’s both the story and my life making me melt down.
Sometimes you need to cry over fictional characters because crying over your own life means to have to process and deal with it. We aren’t always ready to do that but the release of crying, laughing or getting angry is healing. Even if its over an witch and her dragon (don’t judge me till you read the book).
So if you’re struggling I recommend reaching for a book. Find a friend who can make a good recommendation or ask me! I’ll do my best to bring the perfect book into whatever season you’re in.
My Nana passed away on January 1st. Even writing that makes my eyes burn and my chest tighten. She was the best person ever. She was my best friend and a huge part of our community. I could write entire novels about how much she meant to me and everyone else but that’s not why I’m writing.
I’m new to grief. I’ve been blessed that this is my first real life altering loss. And that’s what it’s been. Life altering. It knocks the wind out of me and has left a giant hole in my heart that, if I’m not careful, threatens to swallow me whole. It’s a testament to Nana that she created our family to be as close as we are. That we have developed relationships that come together and lean on each other is because of her and Papa.
The day after her burial my cousin and I went to put the flowers from her memorial on her headstone. I would have never thought it would be a peaceful place for me but that day I found such peace in being there. The cemetery she’s at is beautiful. It’s quiet and lovely and I’ve started walking there once a week. I park at my mother in laws and walk about a mile to the cemetery. It’s become healing in a way to visit her and talk to her there.
I understand the cemetery and even visiting loved ones headstones is not for everyone. Not everyone finds it peaceful. Some think it’s creepy or that they don’t feel their loved ones there. I understand all of that. But for me it’s spiritual and I love having a specific spot where I can go visit her.
Today I took a friend with me. It was really nice to share my little ritual with someone else and we got talking about all the other headstones and people who have passed. We walked a few laps around the whole cemetery and I showed her Nana but also a few other people I know who are there. We talked about the lives of people there. Stories that are left untold, secrets people took with them, memories they shared with people who lived on and memories that have long sense been forgotten.
You see the flowers on peoples headstones. The trinkets that people leave that hold sentimental value. You see the ones that haven’t been visited in a while by anyone other than the cemetery grounds keeper. Those are the ones I like to visit while we’re out there. To stop by and hope they know someone is still thinking of them. Even though I’m a stranger I’m thinking of their lives.
Nana had a poem in her desk we found after she passed. It’s called The Dash. The premise is that on your headstone it reads “birthday – death date” but that dash in the middle is life. It’s how we live our lives, how we spend that time of the dash, that matters. So while I’m wandering around visiting everyone (most of my time is with Nana though sorry) it’s their dash I’m thinking of.
I have so many questions for all of these people! There are so many amazing stories that will be left untold. It sparks my overactive imagination and here’s what I wish: I wish everyone could write a memoir before they passed. Things they want people to know after they passed, things that were important to them, things they wish they could have said but didn’t, advice (can you even imagine the advice some people have to share but won’t have the chance!!) and really what their dash meant to them.
Here’s where my imagination goes wild. Everyone puts all that info a memoir and then it’s preserved at their grave site for people like me to come and read it. Oh the things we could learn!!!
I love you Nana. I pray my dash is as amazing as yours was. Anything I accomplish is because of you.
This was written by my cousins to Nana. I have no better words than these.
I like to joke that I chased my husband for 15 years before I caught him. That’s not 100% accurate but it’s not totally wrong either!
We met freshmen year and I was fascinated by him. He was a basketball and football player and he hung out with the cool kids. He was also painfully shy (he would argue now but it was true then). But that’s shyness made him mysterious and sexy. I hope he doesn’t read this cause it will go straight to his head.
Anyway we dated off and on, and while I always wanted him I’m glad he was a pain in my butt for a while. He says he broke up with me because he knew I was the one and if we stayed together in high school we wouldn’t have ended up together. Ummm nice try. Wasn’t born yesterday.
However he’s right. Please don’t tell him!!! Not only is he right I’m thankful he “choose” to wait until later for us to make it work. It gave me a chance to live my life and be wild and fun before we got married.
During my wild fun days my friend Jeanette and I would go up to the casino and play in poker games. We were two young girls who where seriously underestimated and often would win tournaments. We had a blast. We won money.
On top of being poker players we are both pretty avid readers (yes our husbands scored big time! Did I mean ruin we are also fantasy football enthusiasts?). She gave me the book Molly’s Game to read. True story about the 26 year old poker princess who was busted running high stakes poker games.
Great book! I loved her point of view and that it read like a novel so it kept me wondering what was going to happen. Overall the story shows that money doesn’t buy happiness and you develop a soft spot for the poker princess.
It also made me wanna play again. Yes I know the moral of the story was gambling is bad and doesn’t lead to good things and it can take you into super dark places. I get it. I also am trying to put together a group of girls to play!
For the record I’m talking $50-$100 buy in. Not $500,000 like she was dealing with. So no one here is going broke or ruining our lives.
Really I’m just excited to have another reason to get the girls together.
I read this memoir because I listened to the author on a podcast. At this point I can’t even remember which podcast but I loved the author and immediately put it on hold at the library.
The book is the story of her brothers struggle with heroin and the year following his death. She finds out about the addiction 3 days before her wedding! Its tragic, heartbreaking, funny, light, and covers all human emotion in one story.
She takes you on a journey through being there for her brother and what his addiction looked like to her and her family while she’s dealing with things of her own. It also follows the year after his death. She elegantly takes you through the stages of grief without actually calling them out and you feel the weight of her grief all the way to the end.
We recently had a loss in our family and I was instantly drawn to the say she describes the final stage of acceptance. It’s not accepting that the person has passed or that they are gone forever. Its accepting that the grief you are carrying is the new normal. You learn to want to live again and to not let it drown you but essentially its accepting your new normal in this world without them. You learn that when something happens that you want to tell them about, to smile at their memory and the fact that they would have enjoyed it.
She made you laugh through the book and made you feel like you knew him. I think he was amazing and I never even watched his shows. He said something that she loved and I am equally drawn to it. He said “we are all horrible and wonderful and figuring it out”. I think that’s the exact quote but I’m sorry if I got it a bit wrong.
But isn’t that the best quote ever? Doesn’t it describe everything in life? We are all horrible and wonderful. Life is horrible and wonderful and we’re all just trying to figure it out as we go.
We go through season and in every season things are horrible and wonderful. Even when things seem absolutely horrible (let’s be honest they do sometimes) there is something wonderful in that. Either in knowing that it can only get better from there or crying your eyes out only to have your 4-year-old ask you if you think she can fly if she jumped off the tall side of the couch. “No sweetie save the stunts for gymnastics please”.
Life is full of moments like that. I am blessed to be surrounded by people who know how to make me laugh when I’m crying. Whether its bringing up blasts from the pasts or jumping in with stories of their misery that are comical when it’s not happening to you. Thanks guys! I’d say misery loves company but I know you’re doing it to make me smile. Mostly to stop the ugly face crying I’m sure.
Ending on a happy note Rylan tried on flower girl dresses for us and holy moly! I wasn’t sure how she was going to be (let’s be honest she has a stubborn mind of her own). But she was brilliant! I brought in 3 dresses and the first one she came out like Cinderella and was turning and spinning and LOVING the attention! So much so that now whenever she puts on anything she likes me to go into another room so she can make an entrance and I can cheer. This happened last night when she put on PJ’s. She walked into the living room and did turns while we cheered and clapped. As I write this I’m a bit concerned we are raising a narcissist.
Eh screw it. One day people won’t do that. The time is now!
It’s no secret that I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of the book club community. I’ve jumped in head first and drank the Kool-Aid. How ever you want to say it, I’m obsessed.
It never occurred to me before to keep track of the books I’ve read or even count the number of books I’ve read in a month or year. I’m on book number 11 of this year which shocks me. I’ve kept track of the ones I’ve read along with a short review which is going to be so helpful because I often forget which ones I’ve read until I’m a few chapters in and have wasted my time.
So not only am I the person who journals, I’m now the person who book journals! Yup I can feel my husbands eyes rolling from across town right now. He’s doesn’t care. I do it in the morning when he’s at work. He can complain when I start putting on audio books for him to hear. Which is coming soon I’m going to find a good sports one and he’ll be sucked in and love audio books. Even I don’t believe that but its good to put good energy like that out in the world!
I’ve always loved the idea of Jane Austen. I want to have read her everything she’s written. Turns out I can’t. I tried reading Emma and it’s just so hard! I feel stupid. I wouldn’t even be admitting this if I hadn’t found a way around it! Jane Austen on Audio book!!! Someone on the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club suggested that I listen to it if I was having a hard time reading it. I wish I could find the thread so I could thank her! Maybe even buy her a thank you audio book. That’s how much it changed the book for me.
I finished The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty on audio book and loved it. I have a big crazy family and yet still love reading about other big crazy families. The family story mixed with a murder mystery was so enjoyable. I appreciated the message that all families have secrets and not everything is as it seems. The postpartum story in there threw me for a bit of a loop and I empathized with her much more than I would have thought. I give it 4 stars and highly recommend it.
Also still working on The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim. Really enjoying it but the book is from the library and is shaped weird. So I’m having a hard time reading at night and its uncomfortable to carry around. I’m blaming my slow reading of it on all of that. I am enjoying it. The story of 4 women who escape to a Villa in Italy is right up my alley and only fueling my wonderlust. Time to book a trip.
Because I can’t be anywhere without a book and the other one is weird shaped I am also reading Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful by Stephanie Wittels Wachs. The story of her brother’s death and heroin addiction. Not something I would normally read but I’m branching out. Thanks to this new bookish community. (I’m not even sure I’m using the term “bookish” correctly. Someone help if you know!) It’s encouraging me to expand my reading material and I happened to have listened to the author on a podcast and it sounded like something I could get into. I’m flying through it. Never thought I’d be so caught up in someone elses grief. I can’t put it down. I read this one till midnight last night.
So that’s my week of reading so far. Oh I bought stationary so if anyone is looking for a kinda crazy pen pal let me know! I’m ready!