July Book Round-Up

I’ve had very erratic luck with books this summer. I’ve raced through some, took my time with others, and abandoned one or two. I feel a lot of guilt over abandoning books, particularly ones that have gotten rave reviews, but life is too short to force myself to read something I’m not really into. Plus, if I’m not enjoying the book I’m reading, I’ll just stop reading completely. Better to switch to something else.

Rather than give a synopsis this month, I linked the title to the book’s Goodreads page. You’ll find detailed synopses and reviews there. (I know, I’m being a little lazy- it’s just been a busy week!)

Books I raced through: 

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriartythe last anniversary

Why I raced through it: Moriarty’s characters are so thickly tangled, yet so very unique. Her novels have plenty of dramatic tension, tempered with a good dose of humor. It’s an appealing combination, all the more fun because I always know I’m going to enjoy it from beginning to end.

the matchmaker

 

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

Why I raced through it: I just love Nantucket novels, and I love the way Hilderbrand really gives the reader a sense of being on the island, capturing its beauty and the passion she has for Nantucket. But I can’t say I enjoyed this one as much as her other books. The characters didn’t feel real enough to me. I think Hilderbrand allowed the device of Dabney’s matchmaking to overrun the heart of the story, which was Dabney’s rediscovering of herself. Continue reading

It’s Worth The Fear

I have a dream, a goal, an ambition. It’s the most important thing in the world to me, after my family.

I want to have a book published.

(I was about to write, “I want to be a published author”- I almost forgot that I already am! And I’m very proud of publishing a short story, but it’s only a stop on the way to publishing a book, which has always been the ultimate goal.)

If you have a dream, a goal, an ambition that’s truly important to you, you’ll do anything you can to make it happen. Including things you once thought were boring, tedious, annoying, embarrassing, or even… scary. Continue reading

It Is My Birthday, I Fear

I’m turning 33 today.33

33 is my scary age.

I don’t really know why this is, except that it’s the age Jesus was when he died. I know, that sounds ridiculous, like I’m somehow comparing myself to Jesus. I can’t explain why it matters, but it does. That strong Catholic upbringing sometimes rears its head in strange ways.

The other day, I discovered that Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. That made me feel marginally better, like 33 might be a good year for writing important things. But there I go again, comparing myself to a major historical figure. (Though I doubt either would want to be compared with each other, let alone to me.) Continue reading

What’s The Opposite of Fear?

Many emotional states have polar opposites. Happy, unhappy. Excited, calm. Accepting, resisting.

But what’s the opposite of fear?opposite of fear

To my mind, these are the top contenders: Courage, Faith, Hope, and Logic.

Courage is the most obvious choice. The opposite of something should be capable of combatting it. If you feel courage in the face of fear, the fear lessens. One cannot have more of one without having less of the other (though both can escalate as danger escalates).

Faith is needed to overcome fear. If you don’t believe that the source of the fear will ever go away, you’ll always be living with that fear. In contrast, if you have faith that you’ll one day be able to defeat the fear, it makes it that much easier to live with it in the short- and long-term.

Hope isn’t quite as strong as faith, but can still be used to push back against fear. If you kindle small hopes against larger fears, you can diminish the fear.

Logic is a great weapon against fear. Fears are often (though not always) irrational; reasoning against it takes away some of its power. In addition, logic can be calming, and calmness, though not exactly a contender for fear’s opposite, can play a part in defeating it. Continue reading

Child’s Fear, Parent’s Fear

As I wrote in my early June post, Birthing A Zero, my good friend/cousin recently had a baby. Soon afterward, Edwin and I went to visit her and the baby at their house. Edwin has been there before, but not often. As soon as we got in the door, he was glued to my side. He huddled next to me, sucking on his pacifier, and barely said a word the entire time. A couple of weeks later, my cousin brought the baby over to our house to visit. Edwin couldn’t have been more different. He said hello to the baby, played with his toys, showed them that he knew his colors and letters, and was generally charming and fun. What was the difference? We were with the exact same people… but we weren’t in the same place. In our house, Edwin’s house, he felt safe. So even if someone a little less familiar walked in, he still felt in control of his environment, and could be himself. In someone else’s space, on the other hand, he felt nervous, insecure, maybe even afraid.

And it occurred to me… I’m EXACTLY the same way.  Continue reading

Little Steps Defeat Big Fears

fear stepsFear is a big, mysterious concept. We know it when we feel it, but we find it hard to explain where it comes from. (In that way, fear is a lot like bravery, another indefinable force that I wrote about in a guest post for the Female Yoda.) Fear can often be crippling; it has a major effect on our life choices. Often, fears have no logical reason for being. All of the characteristics of fear only serve to increase the fear itself. Fear is the ultimate reproducible energy.

But even though fear is a big thing, we can often combat it by taking little steps.

For example, my parents must have done a great job teaching me about ‘stranger danger,’ because at 32, I’m still ‘afraid’ of strangers. I’m also afraid of small talk, crowds, and over-stimulation. These fears can be boiled down to two: fear of making mistakes (saying the wrong thing, offending someone or misrepresenting myself) and fear of rejection (having someone react badly to something I’ve done or said- or not done, not said). I don’t feel those fears when I’m talking to someone I know well, or in a familiar environment with a few people, because I know I’ll get another chance to make an impression. (This is also classic introvert behavior.) Continue reading

July’s Mini-Series: Fear

I’ve been really happy with my new system of focusing on one topic, like a mini-series, for each month. So far, we’ve explored beauty in May, and parenting in June (in the past, there was also November’s gratitude series and February’s cancer series). You might think that for July, the quintessential summer month, I’d choose to write about something light and simple, like “vacations” or “relaxing” or “family fun.” Well, I considered all of those, but instead, I’m going to go with something much more complex.

FEAR. Fear will be my mini-series focus for July.fear icon

Why? Because I’m facing a pretty major life transition at the end of the summer, and while parts of me are excited, some of me is scared. I need to work through some of those fears, and others I’ve held onto for far too long. What better way to do that than to write and share them? Continue reading