Author Archives: Sheila (Book Journey)

Morning Meanderings… A RUNNING kick off to the year and MORE First Books



I guess we are doing this.  “

Little known fact about me…. that line above is how I usually think right before I have to complete whatever I agreed to do or signed up for.  😛  True story….  The first year of Wine and Words… we planned it – I envisioned it, found authors, held meetings, and then the day of the event…

I was all butterfly’s and twirling tummy… and thought…

“Well, I guess we are doing this.”

That still has not changed.

I sign up for things and agree to things- because they are who I want to be…  I want to be a runner.  I want to be a biker and a hiker.  I want to be a thrill seeker.  I want to be energetic.  I want to have events in my community that are fun and successful….   and so I plan things.  I agree to things… and I do them.

Yesterday was no exception.  Doing the Polar Dash on January 1st each year is insane,  The weather is usually freezing…. it is a 2 1/2 drive for me to get to the event to run in this freezing weather.

Yet to see all the people that do this…. I like being a part of that crazy.  I like to start out a new year with something positive and shiny.  And here is how it went…


I ran with my two friends Sheila (yes another one!) and Belinda.  The weather was fantastic – in the mid 20’s…..  if my knee would have been feeling top notch, I would have loved to have does the 10k instead of the 5.  We ran, we got our free beer ticket at the end and we had a delicious lunch.  I felt I hit the mark for shining day one of 2017.

Also – if you did not see and read the First Book post from yesterday, please do.  LOVE LOVE LOVE the participation.  I had a few late comers to the party and I am happy to add them here today.  Look in this mix for our Emcee of Wine and Words, author Lorna Landvik.


Thank you to all once again for ringing int he New Year with me and with great reads.  I love looking at all the titles and seeing what I should be reading.  Also – did you find me in yesterdays post?  I am there.  ;P

First Book – 2017…. Day One To SHINE


Happy New Year People Of The Book.

There is a lot I like about a new year.  It is indeed a fresh start… it’s a new deck to play with.  I retired my word of 2016 (COURAGE) at midnight last night.  The word has served me well and will always be a part of me now that I have spent a year learning to live that way.  Excitedly, today I have opened the door to my new world for 2017…. SHINE.  I hope to SHINE this year and be an example for myself as well as others that circumstances do not have to destroy you, that you can live with amazing grief.

And of course…. a new year is new book adventures.  Long before I had a blog, I was doing First Book by myself.  Every year I made a big deal out of choosing that first book of the year.  It is exciting to see by the outpouring from all of you from all over the world coming forth to share the excitement of that first book with me.

As I have done the past 4 years, I am very excited to present to you, the books that we are reading as we go into 2017:







Thank you all for once again joining me for one of my favorite events of the year.   I am off this morning to run my first 5K of the year, the Polar Dash In ST Paul with my friend Belinda.  I am excited to kick off my word right from the start.

Happy New year to all of you.

Shine Always,




Morning Meanderings…. Bringing The Year To A Close


December 30th.

Does that just feel crazy to anyone else besides me?

This whole year really has been… different.  I started out the year just trying to breathe and honestly not really caring if I did.  That solid depression/funk stayed with me through June and only started lifting when I had to be a part of the Camp Board I am on… I went in planning to resign when the week was up… I came out…


From there – I moved into August for Wine and Words and then I MOVED.  By that I mean, I got on my bike.  I went back to the gym.  I started walking with friends and signing up for runs.  I started to find me again, probably because I was actively trying to… for myself and for my son.  Reading, fell to the wayside this year…. its crazy to say that but true.  I kept my mind occupied with projects and going and doing.

It brought me to now… still and forever crushed by the enormous loss in my life… at the same time determined to do something with what I have been given as I am all too painfully aware many of us take our days for granted….  and I can tell you first hand – dont do that.  LIVE each one well.

So here we are.

Our winter so far has been mild with little snow.  I have walked a lot through our local arboretum with friends… more than I have probably ever been out in the winter weather before.  Yes yes… I am a Minnesota girl who is not a fan of winter – it is true.

If you have not signed up for first book yet – please do!  I love putting that together for the new year and it is so uplifting to see all the readers from around the world!  Here is the link to that post.  I look forward to getting back into my reviews and back with all of you as we enter 2017.

When Land Mines Turn Into Speed Bumps


It is Christmas morning.  I am sitting here in a very quiet house and I am reflecting on the past year… the past two years…  and how different things are now.

Christmas 2014 was our last Christmas as a full family.  Christmas Eve Justin would be in town and hanging out with me all day while we prepped or today.  No doubt he was wrapping gifts (he could wrap anything!) and seeing friends while he was in town.  In the evening we would have watched Harry Potter movies (I know we did!) and eat junk food, staying up way too late as always.

Christmas day would have brought me making an egg bake and orange cinnamon rolls, the house would smell delicious.  Brad would come over around 10 am and we would eat and then open gifts together.  Hang out for the afternoon playing board games, laughing, and just being together.  I can so clearly see that last Christmas together.




Which brings me to today.

I have a little tree set up on the kitchen table.  This is a step  Last year I did not put up a tree at all.  I wrapped a few gifts last night… also new.  I did not wrap gifts last year.

A few days ago I came across a message I had wrote on Facebook a year ago.  I spoke on how difficult it was to be out in the community because you just never knew what was going to happen.  I referred to it then as land mines…. what people said, what they did, or even the sad look they gave me created an eruption of overpowering emotion in me….  land mines.  And I avoided that situation at all cost.  In fact throughout last winter, I became so worried about the land mines I did my best to never go out into public situations where I might step into one.

I mean why put myself through that?

What caught me most about this year ago message….  was it made me think about those same situations now.  Yes, they still happen.  I still run into people who have not seen me in a while and there is still the question I usually can now answer “how are you?”, and yes still the sad looks especially this time of year, and yes the long hugs which are amazing and break me all at the same time.


and this is where I was surprised…

the world landmine no longer applies.

These situations that a year ago flooded my mind with the need to escape to get away from all these people that know my loss, know my struggle….  now are more of a speed bump then an all out land mine exploding my world again and again.

Please understand me.  I actually LOVE that people still acknowledge my son and acknowledge the incredible loss that it is.  Because – it is.  And I do not want him forgotten or the reality ignored.  Yes… it hurt every day.  However, YES -acknowledge him.  Share your memories of him…  yes tell me that his eyes were like mine because mine are like my moms and that means SO MUCH.  And yes, be real around me.  Honestly – it does still suck.  It hurts like crazy and I just do what I can to be strong and live out even this as well as I can.

Often (like the Ugly Sweater party) I put myself in situations that I know are going to rip me up….  it is hard to be around all of Justin’s friends or be at events that I know he would be as well.  Yet – I have to be a part of that.  To be close to them and their hurt, is a powerful speed bump worth every hard minute of it.  I have no choice…. I have to go.  I have to be with them whenever I can.  They carry keys to my son.  I want to try all the keys and learn all I can.

One young girl at the party came up to me at the end of the night.  She said, “You don’t know me, but you used to work with my mom.  I read what you write on Facebook and I have to tell you that I love you.”.

This.  This.  This.

Tears flow while I type this, but I had to share  – the POWER of this.  The power of knowing what I say, being 100% real and raw, can speak to others.  Wow.

Soon…. Brad and I will go to a movie.  Later, I get to watch him open gifts.  We will eat together as a family….  which is sooooooooo bitter sweet.   Yet I know and I know and I know…. Justin is smiling on us.  He knows how incredibly hard it is for me to do it – but I do.  For all of us.

My message to you (you knew I had one!) is make the absolute most out of today.  See your Christmas through new eyes.  Whoever you are lucky enough (yes lucky enough) to be with today.  Make it magic.  Love unconditionally.  Let old hurts fade away.  YOU get to decide what you do with today and how it all plays out.  You never know what next year will be like so do not take for granted what you have today.

Merry Christmas my friends. 


Cruising Into The NEW Year


This is a sticky post up to the New Year.  Please do not miss the two events I host every year….

First Book Of the Year

One Word (your word for the year!)

All new posts will be under this one.



The One Word For 2017…. The POWER of One Word


It was in 2013 I started to promote a word to represent my year rather than a resolution.  A word, can fluctuate – take on new meaning depending the circumstances, and come out at the end with a whole new meaning then first anticipated.   My word from last year was like that and in the end – while we went through a lot together… it still was an effective word.

I have come to love choosing my word each year, and you are welcome to read the link above to explain my past words and what happened with them, but the rest of this post will focus on my current word, how it has served me and what 2017 will bring.


2016 has been my year of COURAGE.  Those of you who know me/follow me know what an impossible year 2015 was and coming into 2016 I needed a word that would lift me up when I needed it… that would help me take the next step whatever it would be.

COURAGE served me well.  There were times throughout the year I wondered if I could… if I should…. and COURAGE brought me to it – and through it.  My friends (God love them!) supported me, Kerri found me the word to put on my chain…


and Gail presented me with a cool key for my key chain that also reminded me….


COURAGE was the perfect word for me for 2016.  So perfect, the last couple of weeks have been a bit scary as I thought of moving away from the word to something new for 2017.  Courage helped me when I thought I couldn’t do something… or I just wanted to stay in bed and avoid the world as I now knew it.  Often it was the word that made me do things I was afraid to do.

Those of you who have participated in the One Word know that it can be a hard decision to choose just the right word.  I spend a lot of time looking at lists, watching descriptions of things… considering who I am, where I am at, and what I strive for.

After much deliberation for a while I thought maybe PERSEVERE would take me through 2017…. however the more I thought about it… the word felt heavy, like slogging through troubling times – everything hard but still moving on….

Honestly, I don’t want to slog through the year….

I kept looking hoping for something lighter, but still represented me well, motivated me, caused me to keep on going for me – for Justin….  for Brad….

So here is what happened today.

I was walking in the Arb with my friend Farrah.  I was talking about the one word and how I was still searching.  I told her about persevere, in the running but I was not feeling it.  I mentioned that the word “Shine” was one I liked, it felt positive, light, and represented who I wanted to be, but I was still uncertain.

After our walk we went out for coffee.  While warming up in the cozy coffee house Farrah suddenly looked at the rows of coffee mugs for sale and pointed.

This is what she was pointing at:


Tears filled my eyes.  Honestly I don’t think I have ever seen a coffee mug with the word SHINE on it.  It felt like it was meant to be.  Farrah teared up as well.  “I guess that is my word.”  I said.  And I like it.

The story should end there… it doesn’t.

I came home after our coffee and was bringing things in the house.  I glanced over at a picture of Justin and froze.  Next to his picture are the two medals I brought home for the run that my friends and his have ran for him the past two years….  right next to his picture, on the ribbon strap of the award was the word….


My breath caught.  My word.  MY word.

SHINE…. for 2017 I hope to shine in all I do.  I hope to reflect well in my doings, never settle for less than SHINE quality and be the person I want to be for myself and for Justin.  We got this kid…. for you I will shine.

I hope you consider choosing a word for you.  I have had an amazing experience every year with my word.  Each year has held something special because I had picked a word to represent me and I lived it out.  Here is a list of words however you can choose anything you wish.

If you do choose a word, I would LOVE to know about it.  If you blog, please let me know if you post about it as I would LOVE to cheer you on throughout the year as you make your word work for you.  If you do not blog, please consider participating anyways.  A word…can be a powerful thing.

Fill out the form below.  I would love to know your word.  🙂


Morning Meanderings….Count Down To Christmas


Good morning.

I hope all of you are well and snug and warm and ready for the week to come.

This season is odd for me now.

No tree is put up in our home.  I am not bustling around and wrapping gifts and making lists….

The joy of the season – for me is gone.  For now anyway.  And I hate even writing that because it makes me sad but it is also so true.

So what do I do?

This week I will do what I have been doing the last 5 months.  I will stay busy.  I will go to the gym, walk in the arb, have coffee dates and find my way through.  My friend Amy and I are going to make a make shift 5k for Christmas eve eve  (yes the eve before the eve) because having something to focus on works for me.

Enough of that though….

lets talk books.

WHAT?????  Books?

Yes yes.. ha ha.  I have not written a review in ages.  I need to.  I want to.  I am ready for a New Year in that sense as I can start my Good Read goal again…. the one I blew this year as I just…. didnt.

AND be sure to check out First Book of the year…..  AND soon to be coming/posting will be One Word…. our word for the year which I am still sorting through as I do every year…trying to pick just the right one.  It is a BIG DEAL.

So that is a brief what is happening with me.  I am off to the gym, making biscotti this afternoon while listening to audio and perhaps a walk in the arb with a friend.

Working my way back.

I am.


The First Book Of The Year 2017


Yes.  YES!   We are totally doing this again.  This is the fourth year that I am thrilled to host the First Book Of The Year.  As always, I hope you will join in this fun event. I absolutely LOVE seeing the pictures from all over the world of all of you with your first books.

So what is First Book of the year?

The First Book is a book that maybe you have been wanting to read for a while but have not had time for, a coveted book, an old favorite re-read – whatever you want.  The point is that this is the book that will kick off the year for you.  What will it be?

Our posts of what we are reading will go live on January 1st.  You do not need to be done with the book on January 1st, just reading it on January 1st and yes, you can start on the 31st and be reading into the New Year.  I would like to link up all your posts here on the 1st as well so others can visit you and cheer you on!  If you are interested, please fill out the short form below.

Here are the pictures sent in from last years First Book:









Here is all you need to sign up and to know what to do.  Please help me to spread the word…. lets fill January 1st with the great First Books!

Good to be back all…. good to be back.

Morning Meanderings: We Now Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Program


I do exist.

I have no excuses.  I just went about life and didn’t make it here.  I needed time to find me again… it is still a work in progress but I feel as though I may be getting there.

AND – I have been DOING.  Which…. is actually a great word.

I am going to quickly update you as I have TONS to catch up on with reviews and crazy things that have been happening (in good ways)…

Most importantly at this moment – YES to those of you who have asked if I am doing First Book again.  YES!  I love first book and this will be my 4th year doing it and I absolutely want to own this one again.  I will have the sign up ready today – I hope you will join.

Did I mention I LOVE First Book?

Next – YES I am totally doing ONE WORD again as well.  This will be the 5th year I have hosted the One Word and as you know from last years post, I LOVE this as well.  I am still thinking about my word……  posting soon on this.  Yes I promise 🙂

As for everything else….  I have been running, dressing up, biking, hanging with friends, getting out of the house, working with non profits, working with a fun online project, creating websites, walking in the snow, going back to the YMCA, lifting weights, saying YES more… and remembering that I am doing this life for two now…  and I can not let Justin down.   (Yes there are sample pictures….)






I miss all of you.  I just have not been taking the time to be here and I need to do that.  Minnesota is cold…. damp… and it s a good time to get acquainted with this blog again and all of you.

Thanks for waiting for me. 




Morning Meanderings… Not The Same


Good morning.

I woke up this morning at our cabin on the North Shore.

It is weird to be in Minnesota now… I have not been in Minnesota on this date for 5 years….

This is the time of my annual trip with Justin to Florida.  We went three years in a row, 2012, 2013, 2014….  last year, I went with my friend Amy to Arizona during these dates… and this year…

this year….

I felt I needed to do this alone.

So here I am.  At the cabin….  drenched in his memory… signs of him everywhere…. a note on the refrigerator, his entries in the guest books… the memories… the ginger ale bottle…   and this – makes me cry but I want to share this with you… and for me as well.


It was August 2014 and Wine and Words had just ended and Justin and I were taking our annual weekend trip here to the cabin as we did after every Wine and Words.  We stopped in Duluth at Grandma’s Restaurant to have lunch.  We were sitting up at the bar, myself exhausted from the planning of W & W as I always am afterwards, and looking forward to a fun two days with my son.

The bartender walked by us carrying a little bottle of Scwheppes Ginger Ale to deliver to a customer sitting down from us.  Justin stopped talking, stared at the bottle of Ginger Ale and said, “Oh my God…. delicious!”

I have no idea why – perhaps the over tired version of me, perhaps the atmosphere, honestly it may have been the Bloody Mary we each had with lunch… but I thought that was the funniest thing ever.  I started laughing so hard I cried.  Justin just stared at me and started laughing too.  I could not stop – I could not catch my breath and I just repeated what he had said, “Oh my God, delicious.” and we would both burst into laughter again.

Justin of course, had to have one… and that little bottle has sat in the window sill of the cabin kitchen since that day.  We kept it as a memory… and you do know I love memories…..

This morning.  I picked up the bottle… I unscrew the top and breathed in the faint scent of Ginger Ale….

remembering the laughter….

remembering the weekend….

trying to breathe it directly into my heart forever….

It is a hard day.

I brought my bike in the event it is warm enough for me to bike today.  I feel as though I need to do something to honor this date, this crazy date that is filled with sunny memories of Harry Potter world,  bonding with my son year after year, Justin’s tattoo on November 2nd 2014 to commemorate our trip… mine now that matches his….


I am thankful.  Every day.  I know I know I know I was lucky to have him as long as I did….

I knew these days would be hard.., I knew I had to get away and grieve.. and do what a broken mom does as she tries so desperately hard to put together the broken pieces and make some sort of mosaic version of who I was and who I am supposed to be.



Nov. 2, 2012 – Harry Potter World Florida



Nov, 2 – 2013- Harry Potter World Florida



Nov 2, 2014 Florida – Harry Potter World


Nov. 2 2015

Nov. 2 2015 – Arizona


Nov. 2, 2016: North Shore Minnesota

Nov. 2, 2016: North Shore Minnesota


Still here.  Still moving forward one step at a time.  celebrating us, remembering us….  ALWAYS.