Bringing Me Down

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” ~ Mason Cooley

Have you ever been reading a good book, but you recognize that it’s just bringing you down? I’ve been on a young adult fiction kick lately, but I can’t help but notice how depressing the content has been. Don’t get me wrong! The story lines are interesting, and the writing is good. I have every intention of recommending the same books to other readers, but I will issue the recommendation with a caution, “This series is great, but read it with a box of tissues or a cute puppy or kitten nearby because it will destroy you emotionally.”

I kept adding different young adult titles to my reading list, and I finally decided it was time to give them a chance…even if they do bring me down while I’m reading them. At present, I’m reading a standalone novel, and I’m working my way through two different series. They all have their own merits, but I highly recommend the tissues…and a puppy.

(Only a couple of days later…) The standalone novel is Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. In a nutshell, this is a fascinating retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin legend, and I do actually highly recommend it. This story manages to weave together the stories of five different families in a complex fairy tale. Initially, I wasn’t certain I wanted to even finish the book because it seemed so dark, but as the pieces fell into place, I was intrigued by the struggles involving love, hate, good, evil, pride, abandonment, racism, and so much more. This book wound up being such an exploration of issues that we are examining today! I would recommend this for older teens and adults.

The first series that I have been diving into is the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. I definitely recommend keeping the tissues and puppy/kitten around when reading the Red Queen series. To sum it up, the world is divided between Silver-blooded rulers with special powers and Red-blooded servants who are constantly being sent to fight Silver wars. Unexpectedly, a Red is discovered with even more powerful skills than a Silver, and the world changes as they know it when it turns out that there are even more Reds with powers. I’m halfway through the series, and I feel like I have to complete it now because it has my attention. I won’t lie though that I sometimes read a while on it, and then I put it down and read something uplifting. I’m hoping it becomes a little more positive by the end, but at this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if it didn’t. Again this book made me contemplate serious moral questions such as, “When, if ever, should a few be killed to save the many?” and “What role does propaganda play in setting the course of national events?” I would recommend this series for older teens and adults with the understanding that there is a lot of death and destruction and some mild language.

The second series is the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. This series is set in a technologically advanced future after the world has suffered from a round of plague deaths. There is a population of people living on the Moon (Lunars) who are capable of visually deceiving people. The Lunar queen believes that the only heir is dead, but there are rumors saying otherwise. Meanwhile, there’s a unique cyborg teenage girl repairing droids and other electronics on Earth, and she’s just been asked to attend a ball. Unfortunately, her stepmother would rather she didn’t. Each book in this series is loosely based on a fairy tale character. The first is based on Cinderella, the second is based on Red Riding Hood, and the third is based on Rapunzel. These books have a serious bent, but they have some lighter material as well. I’ve just begun the third book in this series, and I’m looking forward to finishing the series. I recommend this series to teens and adults, and I compliment the author on the ability to tell a complex and fascinating young adult story without using any curse words. I was beginning to think that authors weren’t capable of writing fiction without those totally unnecessary ‘sentence enhancers.’ (That’s a Spongebob reference! I couldn’t resist!)

It feels good to write about my experiences, but it feels just as good to write about the awesome writing abilities of other people. I hope one of these books appeals to you, and even if it doesn’t, just give it a try to get outside your typical comfort zone.

 

What I’m reading right now: Cress by Marissa Meyer and Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Listening to right now: Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Books of the Bible I’m currently studying or reading: Titus, Revelation, I Chronicles

 

Back Again…

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ~ C.S. Lewis

I won’t make any excuses for where I’ve been all this time. I’ll just say that I didn’t follow through on what I started, but now I’m determined to keep up a regular post. The process will be cleansing for my soul, and I hope some of my situations will inspire someone else.

On that note, I thought about going back and re-reading my old posts, but instead I’m going to let my thoughts be what they were. No point in wasting time lamenting what I felt or wrote in the past. It’s probably how I felt, and I feel no need to hide it from anyone or myself.

Anyway, I am currently sitting at the computer doing the exciting job of cleaning out old emails while watching my Nashville Predators play. LET’S GO PREDATORS! (clap clap clap-clap-clap) As I sit here reading and deleting and reading and deleting and reading and deleting and did I mention that I’m reading and deleting? It occurs to me that technology has not eliminated my clutter. No, technology has only changed the form in which I have clutter. Instead of physical clutter, I now have digital clutter, and it’s all over the place.

  1. Email – This really goes without explanation. You give an email address for EVERYTHING, and you get an email from EVERYTHING.
  2. Pinterest – I LOVE Pinterest. I love finding things that make me laugh, recipes to try, crafts I want to do, and so on and so on, but sometimes I find myself drowning in pins and wishing I had time to do it all.
  3. Facebook (and any other form of social media) – Someone’s always posting an update that they want everyone to see, and I’m learning not to feel compelled to ready all of them.
  4. Texting – Most of the time, this is a handy development of technology, but sometimes I have pointless, time-wasting conversations with friends.
  5. Game apps – I am guilty of spending way too much time on my favorite hidden object game (Hidden City Hidden Object Adventure). It is fun, but what else could I be doing instead of playing it?

All I’m saying is that reading and deleting emails is encouraging me to simplify things. I don’t have a fail-proof plan for this. No step-by-step procedures to accomplish my ultimate goal. I just know that I don’t want to keep missing out on what’s happening right in front of me – ya know, this thing called LIFE?! I would rather be living in the now than living in the digital ether. Maybe that’s my goal for this year: more real life and less non-human interaction. Maybe that’s what ‘back again’ means.

What I’m reading right now: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard and Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Listening to right now: Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Books of the Bible I’m currently studying or reading: 2 Timothy, Revelation, Zechariah

Gettin’ Ready to Leave This World

When I decided to leave my job, I did NOT take the decision lightly. I took a lot of time to think and pray about the whole process, and I geared myself up by consulting books that spoke to me on a personal level. After all, no two people can make this kind of decision the same way. I can only tell you what worked for me.

For years, I have enjoyed reading books on why other people make monumental decisions — career and otherwise. I have no idea why this matters to me except that I suppose I like to understand what makes other people tick. In light of that, the following list is compiled from books that encouraged me over the years to self-examine.

Setting the Stage Reading List

  • Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood
  • Here if You Need Me by Kate Braestrup
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow
  • What Should I Do with My Life? by Po Bronson
  • Jesus Did It Anyway by Kent M. Keith
  • All That Is Bitter and Sweet by Ashley Judd
  • Praying for Strangers by River Jordan
  • Smile at Strangers by Susan Schorn
  • When God Winks at You by SQuire Rushnell (not a mispelling, by the way)
  • Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge
  • Quiet by Susan Cain

All of those books in one way or another helped me understand more about myself, and I found great inspiration in reading about other people doing the same thing. If I had never bothered to read those books, I don’t know that I would have had the courage and wisdom to make the decision to walk away from a job where I really no longer belonged.

When I finally made the decision and informed my boss, I felt two things: total relief and sheer panic! (It was the oxymoron of emotions!) It wasn’t the simple thing of placing an order at a restaurant and then instantly realizing that you don’t want what you’ve just told the server. Nope! Once you tell your boss that you’re leaving, you can’t really take that back and still look professional…especially once they’ve hired your replacement! There were a couple of times where I almost went back and said, “I was just kidding…really…I’m staying…because I fear change.” Yep! I almost went there, but instead, I reinforced my decision on a steady diet of prayer and reading.

20160620_232056

Prepping for Departure Reading List

  • What Color Is Your Parachute? 2016 by Richard Nelson Bolles
  • God Is Always Hiring by Regina Brett
  • Let Hope In by Pete Wilson
  • All the Places to Go, How Will You Know? by John Ortberg
  • In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson
  • What Keeps You Up at Night by Pete Wilson

These books helped me overcome the fear about my decision by reminding me that all change involves risk, and failure isn’t always a bad thing. Where do we learn best but in the arena of failure?

I still need reminding frequently that I made the right decision so I often find myself diving into other books for perspective. The great thing about perspective is that it changes every day with our growing experience and knowledge. Strangely enough, I found two articles after I left that reinforced my decision for multiple reasons, and they also made me think more about why other people leave a seemingly “good” job. If you’re interested in the same sort of thing, check out these two resources:

“Top 6 Reasons People Quit” by Ed Rappuhn (The Tennessean)

“9 Things That Make Good Employees Quit” by Dr. Travis Bradberry (TalentSmart)

So I might still be trying to figure out exactly which direction that I’m heading, but at least I know that I took the right exit at the right time. Everything after that is just part of the adventure.