My Favorite Books

I’m starting this post with an asterisk.  It’s never good when a post starts with an asterisk, right?  But, I’m starting it that way because although I love to read and learn new things from books, I don’t have a lot of “extra” time and I don’t really dig listening to books on Audible.  I like to have an actual book in my hand to read.

*When I say I don’t have a lot of time, I mean that.  I work over 40 hours a week away from home, have 2 kids, work a side hustle with Rodan & Fields, try to schedule blog posts (I promise I really do), spend time on starting my own personal growth/development journey, have a 10 year old in travel sports, have a very needy (although also very cute) 5 year old in tee ball and try to keep up with a house, a 7 month old puppy and occasionally laundry.  On a good week, I can get a walk or two in on the treadmill.

So, without further ado….my FAVORITE books that I continuously come back to, year after year.

Reshaping It All, by Candace Cameron Bure.  This book is G-O-L-D!  She wrote this book back in 2010 or 2011 I believe, when she was starting to come back into the spotlight, and I’m telling you; it’s relatable, down to earth, HONEST and something every woman and mother needs to read.  It’s no secret that Candace is, and always has been one of my favorite people in the celebrity world.  I love many of her books, but there was something about this one that clicked with me instantly.  I refer to it all the time, 8 years later!  It contains ways to mindfully eat, a handful of very simple recipes, scriptures related to each chapter’s subject and even touches on getting back into a workout routine and getting your mind back to what’s important.  Go get it or download it!

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  I was reading Self Magazine one day in 2011 while eating breakfast (side note: this only happened because we only had 1 kiddo at the time, obviously haha) and saw the suggestion for this book.  At the time, I wanted to read something new and different, and what’s better than a book called with this title?  Right?  I walked myself into Barnes and Noble and bought it a few days later.  We were living with my parents at the time while our home was being built and the only piece of workout equipment they had was a stationary bike.  So I took the book with me every night while I was on the bike.  I was hooked.  What an amazing book!  And, at the same time, my workout went from 30 minutes to 60 minutes because I literally couldn’t put the book down.  The idea that every month Gretchen implemented something that sparked happiness in herself and in others made me happy as well.  The notion that if you just change things up, start some new habits that are good for your soul and change your perspective on every day occurrences was a little mind blowing to me.  It made me think about what my habits were at the time and how I could change them ever so slightly to become a happier person, and/or make someone else happy.  It’s a book I’ll never forget or get rid of.  Every time I even see it in my book collection I think of happy times.

The Frugalista Files, by Natalie McNeal.  I can’t even remember how this book fell into my lap.  Maybe another magazine suggestion?  Maybe my friend suggested it?  Regardless, it was funny, insightful and enlightening!  Ironically, I remember reading this book while watching the Royal Wedding (William and Kate)…so I mean, basically this concept sums up my life, haha.  As I’m reading a book on how to save money and how this amazing woman paid off over 30,000 in debt, I’m watching a million dollar wedding and getting googly eyes over Princess Diana’s massive diamond ring on Kate’s finger.  All joking aside, this book was awesome!  Natalie, the author, is so funny and honest and gives realistic goals and tips for cutting back on expenses, while being a woman in the workplace that still has a great social life.  It was a fun read and would be good for anyone looking to change up some of their financial habits. Check Natalie and her hilariousness out!

Do you guys notice the word habit keeps coming up?  It amazes me, that even in 2011, changing habits was something I was not knowingly gravitating to.  Habits are obviously the HARDEST thing in our lives to change.  You don’t even realize how hard it is to change them until you try to be consistent to make a change.  Now that I’m slowly stepping into the personal growth/development world, I’m realizing how naive I was before, when I THOUGHT I had good habits.  Friends, let me just tell you, I have a looooooong way to go.  Sorry for the side step from the book reviews, but it’s amazing to me that even 8 years ago…personal development was there, under the surface, screaming to be heard.

Girl Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis.  If you haven’t heard of this book, you are living under a rock.  If you haven’t read this book, you are missing out.  So listen, sometimes we search for something to grasp when we go through hard times.  I was doing this last spring/summer when panic disorder was ruling my life at the time and my anxiety was spiraling out of control.  I was desperately looking for something and someone to relate to.  I would google anxiety help and all kinds of crazy stuff would come up, I would search and search for books on anxiety and OCD and panic disorder and only clinical type books would come up, no matter how I tried to search.  Then, deep, dark in the rabbit hole I had gone down in, I came across someone recommending this book.  Here’s the thing, this book is NOT a book on how to help anxiety.  I think it was more like a red blinking light sent to me from God that I needed to do a deeper dive into the world of all things Rachel Hollis.  When I did this, I found her podcast called Rise.  I had never listened to a podcast and didn’t even know how to work the podcasts on my iPhone.  I came across her podcast from April of 2018 about how she dealt with her debilitating anxiety.  I felt like the world sat still for just a minute….I had FINALLY found someone I could relate to, someone my age, that was a mom, that had been an event planner, that wanted to work, but had bigger plans no matter the struggle with anxiety and that was honest about her successes and failures.  Are our reasons for anxiety the same?  Somewhat.  But, I took the TOOLS in that podcast and in the book that I found and applied them in my day to day life.  Game-changer.  As I mentioned above, the book is not about how to deal with anxiety, but if you are struggling with anxiety and know the red flags associated, then you will find the tools in the book.

This book is about lies we tell ourselves as women, moms, sisters, daughters, co-workers etc. that we have started to believe.  This book is about ENCOURAGING you to live the life God created you for.  Will it happen overnight?  Heck no….God wants us to work for what we want, ya know.  It’s about using our gifts God blessed us with, to their greatest potential.  It talks about getting out of your own way and not caring so much about what people may think of your goals!  It opened up a lot of doors for me; for example, I felt led to talk about my anxiety struggle and knew so many others around me dealt with similar issues, but I just didn’t know how to display it.  Now I use my blog, yep…this little sucker here, to be completely 100% honest about my anxiety battles.  Do you know what that did?  It, in turn, helped other people, which in turn, helped me feel better, helping others.  Then I thought, as silly as it sounds, I’ve always wanted my own platform, and it’s giving me one…albeit a very small one right now, but it’s something.  It encouraged me to keep going, through the panic, through the OCD, through the anxiety and get my story out there.  I have no idea where all of this will lead, but I know where I would ultimately LIKE for it to lead….anxiety and all.  So, stay tuned and please please please, go get this book and subscribe to the Rise podcast!!!

The 5 Second Rule, by Mel Robbins.  I’ll be honest, this was another find on my quest for all things anxiety help last summer.  I didn’t find out about this book until last fall when I had come across something of Mel’s on You Tube.  I, again, like many times, fell down the rabbit hole of listening to her Ted Talk on the 5 Second Rule, then going on to listen to her give interviews with several personal growth gurus and before I knew it, I was following her on social, subscribed to her You Tube channel, ordering her book and listening to her morning coffee talks.  The book is not all about how to get past anxiety.  It’s about learning how to change your brain’s thoughts.  We can retrain our brain, ya know?  It’s about developing habits and staying consistent and doing them anyway even when you don’t.  You hate working out, welp, 5-4-3-2-1- DO IT ANYWAY.  You can apply this teaching to basically any situation in life.  It takes work.  Don’t let the simple concept fool you…because trust me, I’m still working on it.  I have a long way to go before my brain adjusts to accept different thought.  Here’s something to take away though, Mel is one smart woman.  She is a lawyer and is one of the most sought after speakers in North America.  All of her research is backed by science, generally from Harvard or Yale studies and she is hilarious!  Also, she’s a busy mom with an even busier life that still manages to be present and open to new thoughts and ideas.  And yes, she’s an anxiety sufferer as well, but has self taught her way around it.  It’s a great read guys, you should definitely check it out!

Well, there ya have it!  My top reads!  I really hope you will hit up your local library or Target, or hop on Amazon to give these books some love.  I have several others that I have read that are definitely some awesome reads, so I may include them next time.  As you can see, I’m not a big fiction reader.  I really don’t have an answer for why that is.  Maybe because what little time I can devote to reading, I want to read about ways to make my life the best it can be?  That sounds right.

(Side note: I’m 100% positive that Rachel Hollis’ new book Girl, Stop Apologizing will be on the next list, but I just haven’t finished it yet.)

I hope you all have a great day and if you have read any of these books, drop me a note and let me know what you thought of them!!

xoxox

Mary

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Things Having Kids Has Taught Me

* That the definition of “me time” is completely different than it used to be.

Gone are the days where Brock and I would just go out somewhere for a beer or actually go to a restaurant for a meal during the week.  Also much harder to accomplish- making a full meal with more than 10 ingredients  with sides and a dessert.  Reading a book in 2 days may not happen again for a few years; more like 2 months and that’s pushing it.  Going to the gym at any time of the night, meeting our friends who don’t have kids yet for a night out at the drop of a hat and actually having plenty extra funds every week for shopping trips to my fav stores are all things that have taken a backseat.

But you know what?  When Brock and I are 40 and sad because our boys are living their own lives, I know I will wish more than anything to have these crazy no “me time” days every day again.  Family time trumps “me time”–every time.  Memories are priceless!

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*That you will never have an organized house again.

I’m so type A and I dream of the day that I come home and sort out the mail into coupons/bills to pay/save and file containers and cook in my uncluttered kitchen with countertops that are free of paperwork and appliances.  Afterwards I would go upstairs to a room with a bed that has been made (throw pillows and all!) and a floor clean of scattered clothes.  The reality is our house is clean-but it’s normal for it to carry some load of clutter when you have kids, especially more than 1 kiddo, as I have recently learned!  I’m definitely not one to throw my hands up and say “F it!”  Part of me says “do the best you can” and the other part says “you will have the most organized house ever–when the boys are in college.”  Ha!

I feel like you should learn to be happy with a good in-between.  We are teaching Brayden to do simple things around the house.  For example, he is learning to pick up his toys in the evening, and I always stress to him that it’s important to put one toy up before getting out another.  He also knows to hang up his jacket, let the dogs out and put his dirty clothes in the laundry room.  Baby steps, I know-but I’m so very appreciative that he likes to help his momma!  He loves to help clean his play room as long as Brock or I help him and he was completely pumped about the chore chart we keep on the front of the fridge for him.

I want our boys to be helpful and mindful of why we are asking them to carry their (small) loads.  I don’t want them to grow up and not know how to clean a room, do dishes or hang up clothes.  But, at the same time I also realize Brayden is only 5 and he should get to be a kid, which is why we are only asking very simple things of him and try to make it fun along the way.

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Brayden trains with Gavin

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* That the more pets, the merrier sounds great until you start having kiddos.

Brock and I are so very guilty of this!  I seriously wish we could tell our pre-kids self that 2 animals should have been our limit, or even smarter–1!  We have boxers and if any of you are boxer owners then you know that these doggies never really “calm down” and they will act like a puppies until the end.  I personally love this characteristic about them!  However, throw some babies into the mix and things can get overwhelming fast!  Until recently, we had 3 boxers and to be honest, some days were just total chaos when Brock and I were adjusting to taking care of 1 baby, then again when we had 2.  I’m a firm believer in taking care of every responsibility you have and I don’t think you should ever take on an animal or a child without being able to pay for their care.  $75.00 per month for heartworm preventative and $60.00 per month in food is extremely manageable until you add in an extra $50 per week in formula costs and $60 per month (approximately) for diapers.  And you can’t forget all the other daily expenses like clothes, babysitting/childcare, baby gear, a major rise in health insurance costs (going from husband and wife to family plans) and several other items you have to start purchasing.  Suddenly the $200 a month in pet expenses seems a little steep.  Still, the pets are still there and depending on you, as their owner, to provide them with the best of environments and living the lifestyle they were used to living before kids.  Some days I seriously found myself saying to Brock that I wished I had 1 five pound dog that didn’t ever shed who’s only expenses per month included a $10 bag of food, a $20 flea/heartworm pill and a grooming session every other month.

Our boxers are awesome and I wish like crazy my Stella was still with us.  Our dogs love us and love our kids more than I can even explain.  My point is this:  if you plan to ever have kids one day, think about all the possible what if’s in your future before you bring a dog(s) into your family.

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(Miss you, Stella Marie!!)

* That $100 doesn’t get you anywhere these days.

This can apply to married peeps with or without kids. No explanation required! Can I get an amen!?

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*That I am capable of so much more than I ever thought.

Parenthood brings out a side of me that makes me a stronger person.  I no longer come first, my family comes first.  Whatever they need, whatever helps them thrive, whatever makes them smile; that’s what I want to give them.  I also realize that every day I’m teaching our kids.  Teaching them right from wrong, what’s good for them, how to be kind and considerate, how to have manners and even how to pray.  It’s true what they say, kids are little sponges and they are listening even when you think they aren’t.  I love watching Brayden and Mason learn by exploring the world around them.  I love watching Brayden take Mason under his wing and protect him.  It comes so natural and makes Brock and I so proud.  There is a strength that comes with knowing you are behind all of these wonderful and amazing things.  I never knew I was capable of teaching, mentoring, helping and guiding until I became a parent.  It’s pretty freaking awesome and I’m so very happy with our boys!

boys with c & cs gifts

*That you never know what this kind of happy is until you have it.

Five fingers, five toes, that toothless grin, first smiles, the chubby belly, the curls, the rolls and the perfect little ears.

This is happy, this is love…..

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mason hospital july 13

 

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