Monthly Archives: December 2015

Retiring a Word…. Bringing In A New One

WORD

Here we are.

2015 has been the hardest year of my life.  I came into it with such high hopes only to feel I have been knocked off my ship and sent to crash again and again on the rocks along the shore.  You would think I could look at today as good riddance to a year that has been mostly pain… yet it still hurts to move away from the year, the last year of my son.  It’s hard to think I seen him and laughed with him and joked with him and talked books with him in 2015…. and I will not in 2016.

Emerge as you may recall, was the word that I chose to be my “it word” for 2015.  The plan for 2015 was to emerge into who I have always wanted to be… a full time writer between working on freelancing and on my own book…. no longer would it be a dream.  Well… emerge changed throughout the year with the loss of my son and my struggle to find a solid footing in what now seems to be an uncertain and shaky world.  Yet 8 months into this and I am starting to lay a path, starting to emerge again into something I believe my son would be proud of.  “Go Mom.” I can almost hear him say.

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And so, as I retire Emerge this year, while it was different than I had planned – it still worked.  I believe as this word will be removed from my necklace and placed in a keepsake box I will add a letter as to what it has been like to live with Emerge this year.  A new tradition for the words that are to come.

For 2016, I have chosen the word COURAGE.

cour·age
ˈkərij/
noun
noun: courage
  1. the ability to do something that frightens one.
    • strength in the face of pain or grief.

 

I even already made a purchase so I have something to wear.  I still need to find it in a format that I can wear it on my chain much as I did with Emerge.  I never took it off, and I don’t want to this year either.

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The new year is upon us.  There is still time for you to choose your word.  There is also still time for you to choose your first book.

 

Happiest of New Year to all of you.  Stay safe.  Stay well.  Love others unconditionally.

 

 

The Books of 2015

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2015.  what a year.
One  of my favorite anal-bookish things I love to do each year is keep track of my reading. I love to see the page count, the book count… I am a total dork when it comes to charts and all the bells and whistles.   I love keeping track on Goodreads each year and setting goals… however I lost track of everything this year.  I recall a big reading phase in late May and all of June just to keep my mind occupied… they were books with covers of cupcakes, and buildings, about friendships and businesses – safe books for me…. nothing deep but mind occupying.  I can recall bits of plot lines, but can not remember titles or authors – I am almost sure I did not review them and have no idea where to begin so they are among the missing.
In all honesty I probably would not have even tried to see where I landed on Goodreads for this year if I had not popped on there a few days ago and seen a super cool page to all the books I had remembered to record this year.  That love for lists and tracking sparked and I started to go through the ones I had not reviewed yet that I could recall.   And managed to come up with somewhat of a worthy year of reading :
goodreads 2015

click on image to go to report

I did not reach my goal that I set last year about this time, but I am surprised I was anywhere near it.  I like to see the books that I rated high.  I am not going to chat about them because honestly looking back they are all kind of blank to me (thank goodness for reviews!)
I do look forward to setting a goal for 2016.  And on that subject, have you picked your first book of the new year yet?  You can still join in the 2016 First Book Of The Year.  Come on… you know your going to read a book….. 😉

Do you use Goodreads to track your books?  Do you set reading goals?

Morning Meanderings…. Christmas After

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It is so crazy what sort of negative anticipation a day can bring.

I was not at all looking forward to this Christmas… the first one without my son Justin.  We did not put up a tree.  I did not cook.  I did not purchase any gifts until December 24th when my husband and I went up town to find things for our son Brad who would be joining us for Christmas Day.  Until that point I had avoided retail stores as I did not want to see the decorations or the happy people eagerly choosing the gift that would make their persons day.

I had been told, from those who has gone before me on this painful path that the anticipation of the “day/holiday” is usually much worse than the actual day.  It is kind of hard to tell because I think by the time I reached Christmas Day I was numb.  I did what I had to do because my son was here and we tried to carry on with a little normalcy.  We watched TV and I gave Brad Justin’s IPAD knowing that I would never be able to use it myself and it would sit in storage until it was obsolete.  We had to guess at Justin’s password and by using his password hints we were able to figure it out, clean out his personal notes and register it to Brad. We also logged him off of his Facebook which 8 months ago was unthinkable.  As you can imagine it was a hard thing to do… but I know it was the right thing to do and Justin would have approved.

Al and Brad played cribbage on Justin’s cribbage board.  Justin LOVED cribbage and Al and he would play for hours.  It was sort of symbolic to use his board for the game.  I felt as though he were including him.

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In the late afternoon we drove to the Casino which honestly Justin would have thought was an awesome way to spend Christmas.  We came up with that idea a few weeks ago as they have a seafood buffet.  At the time of decision I kept saying “Oh, we are those people you feel bad for because they have no traditions on Christmas…”  Once there, I seen my opinion on this was incorrect.  The casino was packed but not filled with sad and lonely lost people as I had imagined but couples and friends hanging out and having a good time.  Families were at the buffet and exchanging gifts and I had to change my attitude to maybe this was a nice way for families to enjoy a delicious meal and be together just as much as sitting at home around a tree.

Family traditions can be wherever you land.

 

I was wiped out by the time we came home around 8 pm.  Being “on” all day and the constant knowing what is missing while you try to keep going forward is exhausting.  I sat down and had a glass of wine out of a glass that Justin had made and hated that he was not here… and so glad I had climbed another milestone of firsts and made it through.  Justin wanted me to be happy.  I am trying kid…  I am trying.

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Thank you to those of you who sent me a Christmas card.  That is so nice and I so appreciate your kind and encouraging words.

 

For those of you signed up to participate in 1st Book of the year, don’t forget to send me your picture!  Looking forward to the post!

A Christmas Message To You

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I did not send out Christmas Cards this year so consider this our Christmas card.
I look outside at the silent whiteness and feel a great emptiness. Loss can be all-consuming and I waiver on the blurry edges of this new world and the one I had. My heart longs to go back and have a do over. I want to change things and put things the way they were but the pieces of this puzzle fall between my fingers as I try to hold tightly to the past that I wish so much was the present and the future.
In this new world I see friendship differently. I see life lines. I see compassion. I see those who have stepped up and those who have stepped back… and I understand both sides. The rose-colored glasses are off and my world is at times painfully real.
I don’t want this to be a sad message. I want it to be one of hope. For whatever reason, my time here on this earth remains. I don’t necessarily want… I would readily trade it – but it seems that is not meant to be.
And with that I look cautiously towards this new uncertain world. I cannot will not let go of what was. It is too much engraved in this beating heart and to take that away – would stop this heart forever. However, I can look at the blessings sprinkled throughout this new world. The connections with Justin’s friends, the courageous people I have met with their own stories of loss, the people and community who have held us a little closer, the ability to see somewhat of a path I hope to travel that will honor my son for all the years I have left until I can be with him again.
This post is not going as I planned.
What I want to say is this.
THIS Christmas, share a little more of you. DO something kind for a stranger. BE a little more open. Hug a little longer, laugh a little louder, and LOVE with all you have.
NEVER NEVER take any moment for granted. Each memory is precious so open your eyes to it and embrace each day for all it is worth. Your memories are treasures and you have the power to build on them. SO build.
Merry Christmas.
The DeChantal’s….. Al, Sheila, Brad, and Justin….. ALWAYS

 

My attendance at this site has been spotty at best this year.  When I think “I am back”, I am not back.  I write reviews in my head for hours after I read a book… what I will say, what funny punch line I will give…. but for whatever reason I don’t sit down and review it.  I hope that changes soon.  I am still here.  I still want to be that voice on this page that talks books and life and heartbreak and finding my way… and I hope you will all continue to stop in and see me here in 2016. 

Morning Meanderings… The Love Of The Written Word

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It is a CHILLY morning here in Central Minnesota.  I sit with my lap top and a BIG cup of hot coffee.  It is days like this where the outdoors looks painfully brittle that I am glad that I do not have to travel out in it.

I will however, do just that in an hour or so when I go just a few houses down from my own to visit my Aunt and Uncle.  Needless to say, our conversation will turn towards books and I LOVE that we share this desire to read.  Currently she is reading The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks which was a book I devoured when I first read it.  I will have to dig around before I go and see what else I can find her.

This connection over books that my Aunt and I found this summer has really made me rethink about readers and non readers.  After discovering my Aunts dormant love for books… I am wondering how many others are out there… too busy in there own lives, saying they could never sit still long enough to read a book etc etc…

But what if…

What if these self proclaimed “non readers” just don’t know where to begin?  In a world filled with so many titles and authors and… well without the guidance of a reader, someone who’s opinion you trust… where would you find a book that works for you?  I have also been thinking about this in terms of the library.  What can we do to make people fall in live with our libraries again?  To see the real value of what they provide for our community….  I think it begins with a book.

My son Justin was a reader.  What was interesting, was that with his college life and work and friends… he would fall away from books.  And then… he would hang out with me.  I would be talking about one title or another and pretty soon he was downloading it on his Kindle, or we were driving to the local book store…. and often, he would just load up right off my shelves.  I loved that.  In fact now, with his book shelf in our home… I glance at these gorgeous titles and I know some of them are mine that he borrowed from me…

and I can not remove them from his shelves to return to my own.

And that…

is ok.

My point here (yes, there is one), is that I think there are readers in our midst…. and this is something I have been thinking frequently.  How do we bring the readers out of the people?

Justin Dechantal, book journey

Justin’s book shelf

 

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In other news, my post about One Word has brought in a little fun discussion.  I hope you read it if you have not already.  I love choosing a word each year.

AND if you are participating in First Book Of The Year (and I hope you are!) start planning your picture with your book and email it to me at journeythroughbooks@gmail.com .  Everyone and anyone can participate, you do not need to have a blog.  This is one of my favorite posts of the year and I love to see all the people and what they are reading around the world as we enter a New Year.

 

One Word….What Can A New Year Bring?

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In 2013 I found a site that spoke of instead of having resolutions each year – choose a word.  A life long lover of words… I LOVED this.  I studied the list of words diligently trying to find the one that I wanted to represent me going into the new year and I came up with:

 

SONY DSC

 

Embrace can have several meaning but the one I liked and wanted to follow was:

 

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As I read that original post again this morning and this meaning that I just posted above, the tears run down my face.  I could not have had any idea of what choosing this word would mean two years later… but there it is and I am thankful.

Last year, going into 2015 was a hectic time for me and I was ready for change.  I did not even make a full post about my word but tossed it into a Looking Back/Looking Ahead post that also is difficult to read now.  I had so much ambition… I was going to take 2015 by the horns and OWN it.  My word, for 2015 was:

 

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The meaning of this word is…

1. to rise or come forth from or as if from water or other liquid.
2. to come up or arise

3. to come into existence; develop

4. to rise, as from an inferior or unfortunate state or condition.

For me, this was my fresh start word… and by April.  I thought I hated it.

When life changed for me forever, I looked at this word, which up until that point I wore on a necklace around my neck and thought “NO.  This is not what I meant.  I will never wear this again.”

And…

I took the word off of me.

In later April, I was given something that has a lot of meaning to me.  It needed to go on a chain and as I looked through my choices of necklace chains my eyes stumbled on the chain that held my 2015 word… Emerge.  The chain looked to be the right length and style.  And quietly I knew…

Even in this.  EVEN in this….

I must emerge.

I put the necklace back on.  It has new meaning.  A harder meaning.  Not the energetic “Run with the bulls” attitude I came into 2015 with… but a more humbling one.  I emerge.  Daily.  I rise… again.  I put my head up, I wipe away my tears and I do this every day for my son.  I emerge.

The necklace has gathered a few things this year.  A couple of tags made for me by my friend Barb.  The key I found when I was in Arizona, taking the trip over the dates that I would have been on with my son.  The cross is from Honduras.

WORD

And so that is a L O N G introduction into the word for 2016.  Here is the list but of course you can choose any word.  I studied the list and looked up definitions and believe I am going with:
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Definition….
Strength in the face of pain and grief
the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
moral strength to venture, persevere
I would love to have you do this with me.  What is your word for 2016?  How will you own it and why?

Morning Meanderings… A Little Downton Abbey Moment

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I am here.

I don’t know why I don’t post as much as I used to and I really wish I did.  I think about posts… and I dialogue them in my head… what I will say, what I will share…. a review, a funny moment, a hard one….

and then for whatever reason the days pass and I will think, “huh, I never did post about that.”

Really though… my whole life is like that now.  I struggle to get the simplest things done.  I would rather be at home than run an errand.  I still avoid crowds as much as possible, and I am working hard to avoid the retail stores this season as I just do not want to see all the decorations or the hustle of people happily gathering things for their soon to be celebrations.

But this…

is not about that.

I have been a Downton Abbey fan for the past couple of years since I first discovered this addicting PBS show.  Seriously if you have not watched this… you must.  All previous seasons are on Netflix.  In the past few months I have watched them all again…

 

That’s just good stuff.

A friend of mine told me that our local College Theatre was having a pre showing of the next season premiere that will not air in the United States until January 3rd.  It was a free event and people were encouraged to dress the era.  I was not up to dressing he part, but I was all in for going to the premiere.

The premiere was last night and it was fun to see those who did dress up.  Got to love our “Stars Hollow” style community.

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The premiere was wonderful.  The gentleman in the above pic to the right had trivia for us.  Some of the questions were:

What is the first machine you see in the first episode, first season?

What is Mrs.Hughes first name?

What is the name of the man who came to an untimely death in season one?

What has just happened in the opening scene of Downtown abbey season one episode one?

 

We also received some swag..

abbey

That was my evening… and it was a nice one.

In other news, First Book Of The Year is coming along nicely and I am thrilled about that.  We currently have 65 signed up to participate!  I think this meme, and the book I choose to read will be my way of getting through the end of this year and entering the next.

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Morning Meanderings…. The Book…. It Is Not About

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I drove some of you a little nuts yesterday by talking or I guess, not talking about a book and not telling you what the book I was not talking about was.

That was kind of the point.

Yesterdays post was not about the book, as I titled the post.  Discussing the book – would have taken away from my point.  The book discussion is what originally brings us together… but through the years so much more has come out of these monthly literary gatherings.

Today.

Today I will talk about the book.

anthony doerr, book journey, all the light we cannot seeOur book club just read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I did not personally get a chance to read it however the discussion that came from this book definitely held my interest.

A quick synopsis:

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.  ~ as described on Amazon

 

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The Bookies book club had a deep discussion on what life was like for Marie-Laure and what an amazing father she had.  I had heard this book made for excellent book club discussion, and observing this without having read the book myself confirmed this. The questions flowed freely and everyone had thoughts on the book, even sharing person stories of relatives that they had connected to the war.

Suzanne in our groups said, “Choosing not to read this book is a crime against humanity.”

That is a pretty powerful statement.

Over all the Bookies rated this a 3.9 out of 5.  For the most part they thought it was a slow start to the book and hard to get into until you get beyond page 50.  Some felt it took longer than that. Once into it however, it seemed that almost everyone found the book very good.

I plan to still read this.

 

It’s Not Always About The Book

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This past Tuesday we had book club.  It was our annual December potluck, home made gift exchange, and donation to the library’s book in a bag program.  Normally, this is one of my favorite meetings of the year as I do love the little extras we put into book club.  This year however…

not so much.

The last month has been hard – and I thought I had the book we were reading on my shelf and if I do… I can not find it.  The library copies were all checked out, and I personally wasn’t sure if the book was something I was going to enjoy so I did not want to buy it.  All that and a lot of procrastination… I had not read the book.

I went to book club that night feeling a bit stressed out… tired, and unprepared.

And then…

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The visiting, the glass of wine, catching up on conversations and lives….

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and the food…

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Meatballs and seafood chowder, soup, salad, dips and chips, olives, breads, bruschetta, chocolates, cake and more….

I sat back and another girl in our group led the discussion which is normally what I do.  Even though I had not read the book, the discussion was engaging.  It was interesting to be the observer and watch this group of girls who have come together because of a book… but really… more than that.  This motley crew of women are all friends.  We come together to share in each others lives, to care for one another.  We have been together through sickness and celebration, great sorrow…as well as joy.  As I watched this group that at one time were for the most part strangers – joke with one another, discuss this book, listen to each others opinions, and share personal stories that surfaced because of reading this book and I thought…

this is so much more than about a book.

The book… well, I will write another post and share with you about the book.  When I asked at the end of the discussion if they felt this was something I should read or pass on, they said it needed to be read.  In fact, my favorite comment of the night came from Susanne who said, “It is a crime against humanity to not have read this book.”

I guess I will be reading the book.

I did mention this was our gift exchange night… the rule being it must be something the giver has made.  I put together a metal basket of canned goods I had made this fall – salsa, apple butter, stewed tomatoes, pasta sauce, and homemade caramels.

Here are pictures of the gifts that were given  (Yoda would say “talent in group runs deep”)

PicMonkey Collage 1PicMonkey Collage 3PicMonkey Collage 2

Don’t forget…. 1st book of the year is just around the corner!

Dont Forget To Sign Up For First Book Of The Year!

first book of the year, book journeyYes it is that time of year to start thinking what you will be reading into the New Year!  Click on the image to go to the sign up post.  I hope you will join me.

This is a sticky post until December 30th.  All new posts are below.