Coincidences/Mystery Read/Kate Morton

the lake house

Do you remember the first time you read Sherlock Holmes or the first time you watched Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law portray the crime-solving duo?  Perhaps you binge-watched the Benedict Cumberbatch version with the nail-biting arch nemesis, Moriarty?

Either way, I’m sure you remember the first mystery you ever read.  You remember the way it made your heart beat faster, your head started swimming with all the possible endings, and you turned the pages so fast you damaged a few.

 

 

 

These are the kinds of books I like to read around Halloween.  I like to go on a journey where I become totally engrossed in a world I’ve never seen.  It’s intoxicating!

I have recently discovered a new author with a knack for mysteries.

Her name is Kate Morton.

Here is a quote from Kate about writing:

I started writing because I wanted to recapture the joy of reading as a child. As soon as I learned that the black marks on white pages were doorways and that it was within my power to go through them (and the back of the wardrobe) whenever I chose to, I was hooked. I read everything that I could get my hands on and could usually be found hiding in a bough of one of the avocado trees in our garden, book in hand. I’m still chasing that feeling of complete immersion, which makes the real world disappear. There are ups and downs as a writer, but when the fictional world starts to live and breathe, there’s nothing like it.

This woman is a true talent with adorable bangs and an admiration for history.  It’s like we were separated at birth.  It has been a while since I connected with an author like this!

The first book I decided to read by Kate Morton was merely just a cover that caught my eye at Barnes and Noble.   I never thought I would read it for 5 hours straight.  It’s been a long time since a book has captured me like this.  With every twist, I would come up with a new theory on “who dun it” LOL.  I would think to myself, “Aha!  I have it.”  I decided this writer was nothing more than another two-bit mystery writer like all the others when she spun me on my head and up was down while down was up!  I love when that happens!  Something amazing happens when the whole story hinges on one sentence, and Morton did just that over and over again!  I’m not going to even go into more detail.  I wouldn’t dare do any *SPOILERS*  Just read it!  You won’t regret it!

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The world looks so different with just a small bit of change.  We usually point our fingers outward thinking we know the source of all our problems when in reality a slight shift on the inside could transform everything.  I’ve personally experienced this feeling in my own life.  Perhaps that’s why I related so much to this book.  You can change your whole life by simply looking at it differently.

Some have criticized this book as predictable and full of convenient coincidences.  However, I don’t believe there are such things as coincidences.  The word “coincidence” is scattered throughout the entire book, so much so that it’s almost a joke.

Some are so pessimistic when good things happen in their lives.  I know I have.  We think life can’t be that wonderful, but it can.

I’ve seen it.

I’ve felt it.

swing.jpgI’ve watched Providence step in and change everything.  Where hope was non-existent, opportunities now flourish; where doubts had flooded in, courage grows effortlessly; where loneliness overpowered, you discover friends.

I don’t think it’s an accident that one of the main characters of this book was a writer.  I don’t think it was an accident that I picked this title over all of Morton’s other books.  You can feel it when inspiration is hitting you.

I can feel something really amazing on the horizon.  Just because I’m looking at the world in a new way.

 

Some of you may or may not know, I’ve decided to write a book.  It’s a book about a woman who inspired me when I was writing my thesis.  Her name is Nixola.  She was a journalist in the late 1890s.  I love her writing style, her quippy sarcasm, and her tireless search for the truth.  I want to tell her story.  It needs to be told and the world needs to hear it.  It’s going to take some time and hard work, but it’s going to happen.  I never thought I would do something like this, let alone want to, but here I am.  It’s funny how things turn out, but it’s not a coincidence.

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-Sarah

2-month Update/Will I Make It?/New Website

So what do you think!  I hope you like the change.  I think WordPress is going to make a nice new home for “Nerd Named Sarah,” don’t you!?  I’ve added a new feature for the blog as well.  If you click any of the pictures it will take you to Amazon so you can purchase the book!

Ok, so this is more of a 2 months and one week update, but close enough!  I only read four books in the past month, and I’m starting to worry about making it!  I will though!  You can bet on it.

The schedule for the rest of the year is to finish The Great Gatsby, which is such an easy read.  Next, finish four more books during the last week and a half of October (don’t worry, it’s not as crazy as it sounds with all the books I’ve started but have not finished).  Then I only have 6 books a month for November and December. Whew!

Here’s what I read this month:

0125d-no2bbarriersNo Barriers — If you want to know what I think of this masterpiece and you missed last week’s blog post, click here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

KalingWhy Not Me? — She’s refreshing in an off-putting way

Though it’s difficult to relate to a famous comedy writer/actress, she had a way of portraying herself if a very ordinary way.  She made silly mistakes when she first came to Hollywood.  She fawned all over the president.  Kevin Hart made her laugh and cute boys made her blush.  She was cute…in a greasy hair, t-shirt and underwear kind of way!  Favorite quote: When you are entitled, you are the most insufferable person ever.  If you are entitled and hardworking, which I am, you are still pretty insufferable, but at least you somewhat earned your entitled behavior. 

 

I Dare YouI Dare You! — If you want to put a pep in your step and read what I thought of this classic, click here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

the darkThe Dark Between Stars — This author is the most amazing artist.  I have struggled to find poetry I could enjoy, but ever since I read my first Atticus’ poem I have been captivated ever since!  His first book was amazing and his second book just might be even better! There is no way I could only choose one favorite poem, so here are two of my favorites:

 

 

 

“What if she says no?”

asked the boy,

and the old man smiled,

“best not live scared of thorns

or you’ll never find a rose.”  

How beautiful is that!  Wait, here’s another one.

“The doubters

are just dreamers

with broken hearts.”

He can do so much with so few words!

 

That brings the grand total to…….

Pink Heart Light Bulb Anniversary Card

YAYYYYYYYYYY!  That’s 17 books to go.  I’ve started the following:

  1. The Lake House by Kate Morton–Which is crazy fascinating!
  2. These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach–It’s kinda funny so far.
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl

Til next time,

-Sarah

No Barriers/I Broke Through One of Mine/New Location

This book…you guys.  This book.  If you follow me on Instagram (@nerdnamedsarah) you might have seen how much this book got to me.  If you read this book (and I highly suggest that you do) you will need a box of tissues for sure!

No Barriers is a book my mother gave me.  I thanked her for it but didn’t think much more about it since non-fiction is very difficult for me and this book is 454 pages long!!!  Yeah, I never thought I would pick this book up.  However, as of late, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching.  I’m trying to learn how to communicate better, with myself and with others.  You would think it would be easy to tell yourself what you want, what your dreams are etc.  False.

Interestingly enough, it is not easy to be honest with yourself.

Y’all, self-sabotage is a real thing.  It sounds stupid, but in the moment, it really makes a lot of sense to shoot yourself in the foot. 😆 You regret it later, sure, but will you learn from it?  No.  Will you get past it since you learned the hard way?  No.

It turns out, it’s a choice.  It’s a choice to break barriers in your life.  Let me show you what I mean.  Or rather, let’s have Erik Weihenmayer show you what I mean.  *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS*

At first glance, Erik Weihenmayer is a blind daredevil.  A crazy dude who likes to pull stunts even though he hasn’t been able to see since high-school.  However, if you look with more than just your eyes, you’ll see so much more in this inspiring man’s life.

The odds of Erik contracting the disease that took his sight were about as good as winning the lottery.  It could have happened to anyone, but it happened to him.  He grew up learning to cope through climbs and hikes.  True, he couldn’t catch a ball or throw a frisbee, but he could do a lot of things most kids don’t do with perfect vision.  As an adult, Erik helped start a movement dubbed “No Barriers” that sought to break the stereotypes of disabilities.  He was inspired by veterans that barely lived through the injuries that took their limbs.  He learned lessons from blind children in Tibet who fought against the cultural belief of feeling worthless.  Erik learned by looking outside of himself that others have it rougher than even a blind guy who likes to climb mountains (Someone else will always have it worse than you-NOT a constructive thought in my opinion).  An idea kept coming back to Erik.  The idea that there is a choice.  The choice you make when you’re on the edge. “Déséquilibré. It means…that point of imbalance.”  It’s that moment where it feels normal to give up.  You think to yourself, “I’ve gone far enough.  It’s only logical to stop here.  How could I possibly go farther?  There’s something in my way.”  A barrier.

We’d rather give up than fail.  We’d rather not try than miss the mark.  Why don’t we get a kick out of at least saying we tried?  Another good quote from the book, “I want to run more, but I think I’m going to fall a lot.  Falling sucks, but that’s just a part of it.  I’ve got to get up and keep running.  I guess what I mean is that you can’t run if you’re not willing to fall.”  I have trouble with this in my own life.  Irrationally, I expect to be perfect right out of the gate.  When it gets tough, I bail.  Can’t fail if you didn’t really try.  It’s MUCH easier.
Erik goes through so much in this book.  He loses his brother to alcoholism.  His best friend is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  He experiences a traumatic adoption with his son from Nepal.  Not to mention, he fails to be able to kayak the Grand Canyon, his first dream since reaching the top of Everest.  Now before I turn you off to this book entirely, stay with me.  Just keep reading.

That’s a lot to go through in a lifetime, let alone a couple of years.  We say the phrase “face your fears” like it’s easy…like we can see the benefit on the other side in the midst of the storm.  Here’s the catch.  There is NO hindsight in the moment.  Through the struggle, the pain, the tears, you can’t see the way out until you are there.  BUT, you can’t get there, unless you’re willing to put in the blood, sweat, and tears.  It’s an investment.  Sometimes they’re risky, but whether the outcome is good or bad (unlike with money) you always get a lesson out of these investments.  Erik tried so many things to get where he is today.  He tried out a crazy weird mouthpiece that creates sensations and draws shapes for the brain to interpret (like he’s seeing with his tongue. How cool is that?! 😃).  He tried different kinds of kayaks to find out which one worked best.  Erik tried countless radios and other forms of communication so his guide could effectively lead him through the white waters of the Grand Canyon.  It’s difficult for us to try new things because it removes us from our comfort zones, but only then are we able to grow into the person we want to become.

So here’s the part where I tell you something about me.  Have you ever thought you knew something about yourself?  It’s a thought you have pretty much set in stone.  You say, “I KNOW this about me.”  You don’t think it will ever change.  But then it does.  It shakes your reality a little bit.  You don’t know which way is up and which way is down.  I’ve always thought I didn’t belong in Midland, Texas.  It’s a city I’ve lived in for ten years.  I got the chance to be somewhere else for a bit, and I took it!  With glee and joy in my heart, I took that chance and ran with it!  I didn’t realize how much I would miss it.  I didn’t know how much this city is a part of me.  Being away wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.  I thought it would be a chance to see new things, be a different person, finally spread my wings.  How arrogant was I?!  Reality check.  You don’t change with your location.  You change you.  If you’ve got something you don’t like about yourself, GET UP and DO something about it!  After all, what’s stopping you.  Oh yeah, that barrier, right. 😏

Here’s the truth about barriers.  They are a choice.  It’s a choice because the barrier is all in your mind.  If a man without arms or legs can climb a mountain or learn to surf, if a deaf woman can write original songs, if a blind man can kayak through the grand canyon AFTER climbing Mount Everest, then you CAN choose to break your barrier.  🙌
I know what you are thinking.  “Sarah, you don’t get it!  I have a real disability or I don’t have the same options you do or I REALLY do need a change of environment.”  Are you telling me that’s IT!?  You’re just going to accept that barrier as a part of your life now? Hogwash!

There’s ALWAYS a way around, under, between, through, over, behind, beside, or beyond your barrier.  The ONLY reason you are still on this side, the only reason I’m still on this side of it…is one choice.  It’s my choice.  It’s your choice.  You don’t have to live in fear of your barriers anymore.  You don’t have to give up.  You don’t have to turn back.  Choose to stick it out.  Choose to face your barrier.  Decide, today, you will live a life with NO BARRIERS! 🙋

-Sarah

P.S. Erik eventually kayaks the Grand Canyon successfully!  Just in case you were wondering. 😉

P.S.S. Thanks for the book, mom 🙊

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves.

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
-Marianne Williamson

Taylor Swift/First Concert/Disappointed

Ok, so this post is late for good reasons!  I promise.  This past Saturday, I went to my first Taylor Swift concert!  It was magical!  I saw her walking backstage and nearly lost my mind!  I sang the words to every song and lost my voice a little.  I wouldn’t replace those special moments for anything!  I have loved Taylor since I was a little girl.  I have been an avid fan that has defended her when people said she couldn’t sing.  I defended her when people said she dated too many men.  I defended her when people said she was shallow, bubble-gum, or over-rated.

 
But this, I can’t defend.

 
Some of you may or may not have heard about her recent post on the mid-term elections in Tennessee.  First of all, I fully intended for this to just be a post about how much I loved Taylor and how inspiring she is as a songwriter, but now I can’t. (You ruined my blog post man! lol)  Second, I fully support her right to say and believe whatever she wants.  I, unlike some people, am not threatened by opposing opinions.  I am disappointed that she would alienate half of her fans.  She basically said anyone who disagreed with her was a bigot and a racist.  Again, as I’ve said before when you lump a group of people together and say they are all the same based on your experience, you are being extremely close-minded.  There are gay, and yes even transexuals out there who are conservative who would heartily disagree with her.  I wonder if she has thought about them.  Does she feel as strongly about their rights?

 
The fact of the matter is that those same people you are criticizing are fighting for your individual rights to say whatever you want.  It’s cheap for a celebrity to use their pedestal for lobbying purposes.  It’s cheap for people to say, “Ok, NOW I’m a Taylor Swift fan.”  I don’t think it’s brave to come out with a popular opinion…and if you think it isn’t popular to be a Democrat, or Liberal right now, you really have your head in the sand.  Come out with an unpopular opinion and then maybe I’ll take notice.  Come out with an unpopular opinion before you sell the last ticket to your USA tour.  I’m sure someone is going to call me a bigot or a racist.  Ok.  But to say that I don’t have the right to do what I want or say how I feel is WRONG.  Call it what you want to. 😉  Hey, I’m still a fan of her music!  I’m just not that big of a fan of her right now.  I’m not mad…I’m just disappointed.

 

“I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”  -Voltaire

 

-Sarah

Girl, Wash Your Face!/Rachel Hollis/ #Last90Days

If you haven’t heard of Rachel Hollis yet, you need to make sure you haven’t been living under a rock because this lady is the bomb!  I actually read her book earlier this year while I was finishing my thesis for my Master’s degree in history.  It was timely because, at the time, I was feeling sorry for myself.  I kept concentrating on how HARD the process was instead of enjoying the fact that I was finishing my FU**ing thesis at the young age of 25!!! (Pardon my french 🙈) I mean come on!  I should have been crazy proud of myself, but no.

Now maybe you didn’t have trouble finishing your degree.  Maybe the idea of staying in school for that long sounds like a nightmare to you, but we can all relate to feeling sorry for ourselves.  The worst part about being in that state is no matter what you do, you don’t feel like you can do anything right!  You can’t ever get ahead, you are always exhausted.  Nothing brings you joy, and you spend your days bitter and lonely even when others are around.
Here’s how Rachel helped me crawl out of the pity party pit where I had given up on life.  (I’m being a little… ok, a lot, melodramatic but you get the idea. Lol)
In just the first chapter this woman had me hooked.  As a fellow people pleaser, I really related to her.  It’s so easy to compare yourself to others and induce a stress-eating, self-loathing depression where you might as well give up if you can’t be the best.  At least, it’s easy for me.
So, now that I have admitted I have a problem, (Hi, I’m Sarah and I’m a people pleaser. lol), I can deal with it.  First, take responsibility.  One of my favorite movies, How Do You Know, with Reese Witherspoon, has a quote. “Don’t judge anybody else until you check yourself out that way you are lucky if it’s your fault because then you can correct the situation.”  The first time I heard this quote I HATED it!  I’m like, “Great, so everything is your fault and you can’t be mad at anyone else ever?!”  I was not in the right place to hear this.  But the second or third time I watched the movie (Because who can resist a good chick-flick with Reese Witherspoon?!) I heard it a little differently.  Since I am a people pleaser I have a tendency to point fingers, anything just so I don’t have to admit I am the cause of the problem or anything is wrong with me.  DEAR GOD DON’T LET ANYTHING EVER BE WRONG WITH ME!!!  I can’t stand to admit when I’m wrong and will white-knuckle it past the point of logic.  Let’s just say, it’s not pretty.
But if you listen carefully to the quote, it’s just saying pay attention.  There’s nothing wrong with checking in to see, “Could I make this better with a few tweaks?  Could I do something different to change the outcome in the future?”  It’s what grown-ups do, and I don’t mean that in a condescending way.  Rachel can explain it better than I can.  Her first call to action is to take responsibility for your life.  The whole thing is yours!  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Then and only then can you create change in your life.  Stop beating yourself up because it serves no purpose.  Get up and do something about it!  Girl, get out of bed!  Girl, dust yourself off!  Girl, wash your face!! (Great title, right?!) The point is to own it.  I think we sometimes think someone, someday is just going to hand us the life we want.  It doesn’t really work that way, and in all honesty, I don’t think we would like it if it did.  When we fight for something, it’s truly ours.  You need a goal in life.  I don’t think I knew that.  You NEED a goal in life to push you forward.  You NEED something to shoot for.  Sometimes you’ll hit it right on!  Other times you’ll miss the target, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t need the goal.
Here are some of Rachel’s rules to live by:
1.  DON’T compare yourselves to others!  “Comparison is the death of joy.”  If you haven’t listened to Rachel guesting on the Ed Mylett Show Podcast, you have to!  She says that life is a little like a math test.  Keep your eyes on your own paper!  Beat your own record!  Be better than YOU were yesterday!  Compete only with yourself!
2. Start small.  She started by giving up diet coke.  I decided to start with small things like making my bed in the morning, giving up ice cream (I have a mild addition to Ben and Jerry’s, like that was a threesome I could always get on board with! lol) Making your first goals easy to chew create momentum and you start to trust yourself again.  Ed Mylett said in the same podcast episode mentioned above, that if you can’t keep promises to yourself, you begin to not trust yourself, so it’s no wonder you can’t keep promises to others.  You have to keep those promises you make to you.  They matter.  Your goals matter.  Life does get in the way.  We all make mistakes and miss the mark but that does not give us, that does not give ME, permission to quit!  You can’t quit on yourself.  You can’t!  I won’t allow it and neither will Rachel!  (I’m only slightly kidding. lol)  But in all seriousness, I got your back girl and I’d like to think you have mine. 😊
3. “Hustle for joy.”  This one sounds like “Duh, Rachel!  Of course, I know I should be joyful and happy!” But it goes beyond just being happy.  Rachel tells us to enjoy the simple things in life.  Every day, write down ten things you are grateful for, and eventually, you’ll notice that you have to pay attention to be able to write down that many things.  So, you create a habit of joy and gratitude.  Look for it!  Seek it out!  Enjoy your family, friends and the little things that make you happy.  You know what they are.  😉
There is so much more to this book but these are the things that stuck out to me.  Don’t be afraid to say your inner dreams out loud!  Go after them!  Dream BIG!  Like BIG, BIG!  Do the things you’ve only day-dreamed about.  Love yourself even when you fail and DO NOT WALLOW IN SELF PITY!  It doesn’t help you or make you feel better anyway.  What’s easy is not what you want.  Believe it or not, you want the challenge.  You’ve just made a habit of finding the easy way out.  These are the things that spoke to me and these are things I say to myself as I maneuver through life.  It is eye-opening, timely, a little scary, but definitely good!
This feels like a core workout.  All these books, podcasts, epiphany-filled moments, and long big-girl conversations with my mother, feel like I’m stretching myself passed where I ever thought I could go.  My sister is getting her yoga teaching certificate right now.  But before she ever thought about becoming a teacher she knew what she had to do.  She had to get strong.  She had to try and fall.  Strengthen.  Try and fail, strengthen.  Over and over, pushing the boundaries to find her inner strength as well as the physical.  Now, I watch her going into head stands with ease and grace.  She makes it look so easy, but I know firsthand it was not.  It took a lot of work, pain, bruises, breakdowns, coaching, and learning to get to the place she is now.
That’s what this feels like.  It feels like I’ve just discovered my core muscles (theoretically speaking) and let’s just say, I don’t have any abs to speak of! Lol, I’m learning what I’m capable of, I’m listening to people as they show me how to adjust this or that.  I’m testing my boundaries and I’m surprised when I can do more than I thought.  I’m getting stronger.  That’s what matters!
And that’s why I’m so excited to say I am doing the #Last90Days challenge with Rachel Hollis!  You should join us!  Here’s the link! There’s an inspirational theme related video every Monday and a Facebook group and it starts today!!! We can do this!  We can treat the last 90 days of 2018 like we do the first 30 of most years!  We can make today count.  We can make the next minute, the next second count when we decide, Yes!  Today is the day.  Today I will try, and I won’t give up.  Today.  That day is today.
Love,
Sarah