New Year – More Books



Wow!  It feels like forever since I’ve updated my blog . . . It has been!  But, I achieved my reading/listening/book consumption goal of 60 books last year!  Woohoo!   A part of me wanted to increase the target for 2019, but I decided to settle in at 50 and see what happens.

Well, I think I’m going to make it.  I paused my HULU subscription earlier this week and may do the same for Netflix.  I consume so much content that it’s ridiculous!  I committed to some new racing goals this year, so I’m excited to NOT spend so much time in a place where I’m watching stuff or letting it watch me sleep.

I’m starting this year with The Comeback from Louie Giglio, Originals by Adam Grant, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.  There are several books I just didn’t finish by 12/31/18, so I’ll start the year with a little bit of an advance.

Stay tuned for some of those reviews pretty soon.

Happy reading and thanks for sharing this journey with me.

So many books . . .

I have so many books to add from this summer . . . Wowzers! I definitely got behind on writing reviews, but here’s a list of a few books I read or heard this past summer:

The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber

The Book of Fate, Brad Meltzer

Boundaries in Dating, Henry Cloud

Zero Sugar Diet, David Zinczenko

All In: You are One Decision Away from a Totally Different Life, Mark Batterson

The 10x Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure, Grant Cardone

If I Live (If I Run #3), Terri Blackstock

She’s Still There, Crystal Evans Hurst

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson

An Enemy Called Average, John Mason

The Body Book, Cameron Diaz

The Masterpiece, Francine Rivers

Last Temptation, Michelle Stimpson

The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah

Someone to Watch Over Me, Michelle Stimpson

The Year of Less, Caitlin Flanders

Wait and See, Wendy Pope

Rise and Grind, Damon John

Falling into Grace, Michelle Stimpson

Many were great reads on summer vacation or while “finishing” something. BUT, there were maybe 4-5 on this list that are definitely worth a detailed review. Those are marked in BOLD text, so stay tuned for an update.

Your Dreams. God’s Plan: Are You Longing for Something More?, Tiffany Smiling

your dreamI gave this one 5 stars because I think God planned this book for the time in my life when I was reading it.

I started it during the time I was “questioning” a guy I was curious about and got a clear answer. Then, I finished it at the tail end of a mission trip to Kenya where I connected with some beautiful and amazingly talented orphan girls.

So, when the author admonished us “girls” to ensure that we’re chasing God dreams v. our dreams, I was right in the mix of evaluating my dreams – the way I want my life to look – and the reality of what it is right now or how God may want to evolve my station in life right now to do more for Him.

I’ve been on many mission trips now and none has left the kind of impression on me that this one did. It’s nice to rebuild houses after a hurricane or to construct churches or even a school campus. But, doing construction with all the kids right there with you and spending time with them and hearing their stories is just . . . Different.

So, this may not be a 5 star for everyone, but this was an on time, I need you to hear my voice book at this time in my life.

See more from the author here.

Attract Love At Any Age: The Ultimate Dating Guide For Single Women Over 40, Marlene Wagner

attract love at any age

** spoiler alert **

This one was fast. The advice is pretty straightforward: 1) love yourself, 2) be happy, 3) let a man be a man (let him pursue, etc), 4) don’t let him get away with crap (circa lesson 1).

While the target audience is for women over 40, I think the tone and content is appropriate for any single woman. The perspective of the author via her own life experiences probably make it that much more meaningful for younger women so they can learn from her mistakes.

I really appreciate the candor and direct tone of the book. This is definitely one I would recommend and / or would share. 😉



The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarity

husband's secretI finished it. This was a long read for me.

BUT, the stories and impact of everyone’s secrets was powerful. The husband’s “big” secret wasn’t anything remotely similar to what I expected (no spoiler), but it was big.

And the ripple effect in the lives of his family and those in the community around him was scary. This story is a great reminder that the decisions I make not only affect my life and my immediate family, but they can also change the lives of people in my immediate circle of influence and beyond.

Moving on to the next book . . .

I Moved Your Cheese, Deepak Malhotra

I need to do some book review catch up, but I’m on track to hit my goal (Type A woes) . . . Nonetheless, this little book packs POWER!!!!

cheese“Some pursuits are simply too important.  Some lives are not so easily confined.  Some mice are big.”

I read it in one sitting and felt like God was YELLING at me via the writing of Deepak Malhotra.

Over the last 11 years, I’ve had 18 different managers while working at the same company.  One of them has circled back around, so technically, she’s number 19.  I’ve just worked with her before.

Talk about moving cheese . . . The walls in this maze are constantly moving, so the reference to Who Moved My Cheese is very fitting.  Get used to change.  Get comfortable with change. Embrace it and change the way I relate to change.

HOWEVER, I Moved Your Cheese, is such a refreshing read for someone who asks why . . . For someone who even thinks about looking over the side of the wall to see who is moving all these walls all the time.  There’s comfort in knowing it’s okay to ask why.  It’s also admonition that sometimes you need to sit on top of the wall, get on the other side of the wall for a while or even punch through a wall.

Besides American Marriage, I think this will be one of my most meaningful reads of 2018.

Post-Houston Complete

AveryA couple of weeks ago, I shared that I was VERY nervous about an upcoming cycling adventure from Houston, Texas.

I’m here to report that I made it!  I logged 417.7 miles in 6 days and celebrated a group historic event in being the first female to finish the 100 mile day.  I was pretty stoked!  I was VERY stoked!  I missed about 50 miles in there due to a mechanical (another story with Shimano Ultegra DI2 . . . . KNOW DI2 for thyself BEFORE shipping one’s bike) and other stories, but I made it.

Celebration over, I know there’s more.  I know there’s another adventure, and there’s an opportunity to be an even stronger cyclist.  Particularly, a more lean cyclist.

I was introduced to cycling rice cakes.  Daily massage.  Constant stretching.  And most importantly, Mental toughness.  More than anything, this ride was a commitment to riding my bike every day.  Simply getting up, packing my gear, going to breakfast, and deciding that I was going to ride that day.  There were ABSOLUTELY days that I wanted to just ride in one of the SAG vehicles.  But, then, I remembered that I 1) paid a lot of money to raise awareness for childhood/adult obesity, 2) spent a lot of hours on my bike and trainer when I could have been doing more fun things, and 3) actually told people I would be riding my bike this week.  So, I had to ride.

So, now, I’m telling myself that the lean cyclist is coming out.  The super strong cyclist is coming out.  She will ride again – on Sunday.  And, she will ride long again in 2019 (or sooner).  That was fun.  That was hard, but I did it.  The ride leader is pondering a ride along the Underground Railroad in Alabama, and I would definitely consider that for 2019.

I don’t have a particular book reference for this experience, but I would attribute the commitment in part to just being who I am . . . I pick crazy hard stuff to TRY to do.  Then, I think Jennie Allen’s Anything is a great reference as well.  If God is who He says He is, and He’s living in me, WE can do ANYTHING!  Another reference might be Angela Duckworth’s GRIT.  At some point, you just decide this is what I’m doing and go get it done.  Houston to New Orleans got done!

Play with Fire, Bianca Juárez Olthoff

play with fire

This lady has spunk! My Sabbath School small group was doing her study on the Book of Ruth, so I decided to see what else she had written. She was also one of the speakers for the 2018If: Gathering.

This book was more autobiography than Bible study. I didn’t really have any expectations going in, but I enjoyed it. This gave me a little more perspective on the way she tells the Ruth story and the fire behind her messages.

My DNA involves a consistent search for self-improvement and deeper connection to God.  Because I read so much, I have a potential propensity to analysis-paralysis.  Her encouragement is similar to that of Gary Vaynerchuk in Crush It to trust your gut sometimes.  Don’t over think things, but appreciate that life experiences are also good teachers.  All teaching and all information is not derived from an external source or a professor/author pouring into me.  At some point, you have enough.  At some point, you have to act . . . to play with fire.

I’ll keep following her to see what else is up . . . so far, so good.

Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown


Strong back. Soft front. Wild Heart. Speak truth to BS. Just read it.

I heard Brene Brown at Catalyst Atlanta in late 2017 and bought the event kit with this book included. I started reading it soon after Catalyst. Because I read so many books at a time, this became a “read in chunks” book with lots of highlights, dog-eared pages and a desire to keep learning more.

The only sad part of the book was that a big chunk was shared in her talk at Catalyst. It was nice to dig in more, but that was my down if any.

I’m a biased fan of Dr. Brown, so I just say read this one with a pen and highlighter. 😉


Short listens, good lessons

100-0 principleThe 100/0 Principle: The Secret of Great Relationships, Al Ritter

Be real.  Give 100%.  Expect nothing in return.  In personal relationships, workplace relationships, volunteer engagements, the message is the same.  I was listening to a podcast with Shawn Stevens and Andy Frisello this morning, and I didn’t even make the connection between this audiobook and the Model Health Show podcast.  However, it’s clicking now.  One piece of advice Frisella gave was to be a generous person.  When you’re starting out and really respect the work of someone you admire, don’t send them notes telling them how awesome they are and request that they mention you on a blog or in a review.  Just tell them how awesome they are.  Give big just because that’s who you are.  That message comes across very clearly throughout The 100/0 Principle.  I think the core principle could have been shared in a podcast time frame (e.g. 1 hour), but the message is clear.  Others first.


bookendsBookends, Liz Curtis Higgs

Wonderful long plane ride fairy tale . . . Maybe someday this will come true . . . 😉 My lesson here was to remain optimistic.

Sorry, that’s all I can say about this one.  I like romance novels.  I really like Christian fiction.  This was just so “flighty” that is made sense for a long plane ride.  I don’t know that I would have finished on the ground.

I know that books by Liz Curtis Higgs have a strong following, and I believe this is my first one.  So, I’m definitely going to read others so I can have the real fan experience.  I’d guess this was just a novella to get folks in the author family. 🙂  #WishfulThinking #KeepDreaming


elementThe Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Ken Robinson

This was a good one. Again, in the spirit of getting to the point, I think the whole story could have been presented in maybe 3 chapters, but it was good.

I think more than anything, I was challenged to think about how to be more active in presenting alternate means to deliver relevant content in my classes. Understanding that we all learn in different ways is one thing, but finding ways to engage a whole group of students who bring all of their unique learning patterns together can be a challenge.

I finished this one in late 2017 while starting to think about 2018 courses and even how I interact with my local small group, book club, and Sabbath school.  Having been in adult Sabbath school classes for at least 20 years now, it’s interesting how many classes are taught with a single style – lecture with 1-2 people talking from the front and with people sitting in rows where they can’t see each other’s faces.  I’ve heard Andy Stanley say over and over again that circles are better than rows.  I think it’s true.  Seeing facial expressions, being in an environment where people can comfortably exchange ideas, engaging in multiple formats (i.e. online discussion before class + class discussion + some type of review after class) really helps with retention of information and higher engagement.  I definitely see opportunities to make improvements in the environments where I facilitate a discussion and will continue to seek ways to get better at both teaching and learning.

Crush It!, Gary Vaynerchuk


There were some good takeaways, but most of the activation suggestions are outdated as the book was written in 2010.

However, the core message is to push yourself to valorize your passion. One of the final steps is to monetize it, but put numbers (ie time, investment) in developing your passion.

I really like one of the key steps after work hard. Be patient. I think that one makes a ton of sense in a multi-generational workforce. As a more-experienced Xer in the workforce, it is a blessing to see such highly engaged younger coworkers in my company. The challenge I see most often is a high level of frustration that they aren’t moving “up” as quickly as they’d like to move. That’s where patience would help some of them (and us Xers+) to just chill a bit.

Yet, to just “chill a bit” is contrary to the premise of this book. Work hard. Go after what you want. Find ways to bring your passion to life. 😉

Houston – Tour de Youth


Houston.  Houston.  My spring fitness event this year is riding with the team from Tour de Youth to increase awareness of youth obesity and to raise funds for scholarships to Oakwood University.

I switched up my training this winter from just riding a lot to spending quality time in the gym with a fitness coach and then supplementing with time on the trainer.  In the last 6 weeks, I’ve added miles (outside – finally) and hours on the trainer to get ready.

This will be a MAJOR adventure for me, and I’ll be happy getting in a couple hundred miles next week.  I have nothing to prove, so I can relax.  But, I’ll go ahead and admit that I’m nervous as all get out.  I’ll probably be listening to my pre-event anthem, Lose Yourself, on repeat for the first hour . . .

Pray for me . . .