Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

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Life is a Journey Not to the Top of One Mountain but Several

The Noticer book cover on desert background. If life is a journey, this is a sweet book to help guide your path.

“Life is a journey.” It’s pretty cliché, I know, but sometimes a cliché just works so well we can’t describe something a better way.

Have you ever felt that life had become stagnant? A career had peaked and there was nowhere to go. A relationship had hit a plateau. A hobby you adore suddenly seemed pointless. That’s the mountaintop and life’s journey doesn’t end there.

“Think with me here…everybody wants to be on the mountaintop, but if you’ll remember, mountaintops are rocky and cold. There is no growth on the top of the mountain. Sure, the view is great, but what’s a view for? A view just gives us a glimpse of our next destination – our next target. But to hit that target, we must come off the mountain, go through the valley, and begin to climb the next slope. It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life’s next peak.”

The Noticer by Andy Andrews

You can get to the top of a hill and think, “Ah, yes. Here I am. I’ve made it to the top.” You begin to set up camp, make a space for yourself, but then that feeling sets in. When you take a look at your immediate surroundings, it seems there is nowhere to go but down the other side. Is this all there is? I’ve gotten to the top and now I just sit and wait?

Nope. Not even close. Take a longer look out at the horizon, get your binoculars out if you have to. There’s another peak in the distance, maybe another small one or a big one. The valley below may be wide or narrow, swampy wet or bone dry, it may even look like perfect farmland, but it has to be crossed. This is growth.

We tend to look at our life as one long climb, interrupted by trials and errors. If we somehow manage to get to the top, we win, but most of us never get that far. Most of us keep looking at our feet, climbing is all we know.

What if instead we looked at our life as a journey, with up sides, down sides, hills, mountains, fertile valleys, and dry deserts? Each portion of the journey helps us get to the next. Each hill gives us a view to survey and decide which direction to choose. Each valley teaches us the skills we need for the next climb.

Each of us should be living our own independent lives, creating our own future, following our own individual paths. People join us on our journey, long and short term. We’re born to parents that attend us in the beginning, into families that help us through the first valleys, but at some point, we stand on a mountaintop and choose a direction of our own.

We meet friends and lovers, choose full-time, part-time, and occasional partners, build small and large clans that make it easier to pass through the next valley and up the climb to the peak. Again, we stand and survey the view, choose a direction, find out who will join us, and wish the others well on their own chosen journey.

At the end of our lives, we may be at any point on the map. We’ve met people and lost people. We’ve created relationships, lost some, built on old ones. I’d like the see the “location history” of a single life, with all the intersections of other’s lives, how long they moved alongside us, and where we all ended up.

This past year, I’ve been on a mountain top and had begun to feel that “Is this all there is?” feeling. The longer I sat on it, the more fearful I became about what was coming next. Stay on the mountain dreaming about the other peaks, waiting for something to happen, or head down into the valley to work through and then head back up another peak. Neither option looked like something I wanted to do.

But then I thought, “I can’t sit here enjoying the spoils until I die. It’s just too early in life for that!” I took a good look around, decided on a new general direction and headed down the hillside. I’m not sure what peak I’m headed to at this point. I only know that the journey isn’t over and that standing still for too long isn’t going to make anything easier.

Life is a journey that’s too short to wait on fear of the unknown.

I posted about this book when I read it back in January. Go check out “The Noticer” by Andy Andrews, to see where my journey with it began.

Andy Andrews has a lot of inspirational books out and a podcast too! His website links to all his work.


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“The Invisible Life of Addie Larue”

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue book cover on desert junk pile.
Even a Junk Pile can be Pretty

A big giant “Thank You!” goes to The Orang-utan Librarian for bringing “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” by V.E. Schwab to my attention. When I read the review I immediately added it to my wish list right and then…magically…I happened across a Barnes & Noble that was…wait for it…OPEN and I wandered inside.

The Starbucks wasn’t open, so it wasn’t perfect, but it was damn close so I’m not going to quibble over details.

I took a deep breath as I walked in the door and began wandering around. Civilization.

Like I’ve said before, I try not to buy books on a whim. There are just too many books to read in this world to just jump in willy-nilly. Besides, my resources (time and money) are not infinite. As I browsed the shelves cautiously, like an animal that hasn’t eaten in so long that it’s forgotten what food is, I remembered the wish list on my phone and got it out.

I got three books that day, all from the list, and “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” was the first cover I recognized and picked up.

I wouldn’t have got it from the title, but reading the review I was instantly reminded of Beauty and the Beast. “Far off places, a daring swordfight, a prince in disguise!” The book is about none of those things, but it is magical, involves a girl wanting more than her village and a bookstore. I’m SO in!

I’ll be attempting to savor this book, but I bet I’ll wolf it down like tacos with ketchup, so I’m sure you’ll be hearing about it within the next few weeks. As always, I’ll be adding my first thoughts about the book in my monthly email newsletter, which you can only enjoy if you sign up for it at the link below!

Want to want to read more posts related to this book?

Why My Personal Story Telling Helps Me Stay Connected
Ultimately, Most Life Choices Are Just Best Guesses
What Is The Key to Understanding Love?
My Empty Nest is Not the End of the World, But I Could Use a Hug

” The Philosophy of Peace”

Philosophy of Peace book cover at a fireplace.

I picked up “The Philosophy of Peace” by John Somerville to read next. I wanted to end the month on a non-fiction note and decided this title had a nice positive ring to it. Since this book was picked up out of the pile of books I adopted from a friend, I really have nothing else to go on other than the title, so I did a quick search of the “interwebs” before I started to read it and found very little other than the book for sale across the web. Strange.

From the book itself, I see it has a copywrite of 1949. The dedication says,

Philosophy of Peace dedication.

So far so good, I suppose. We haven’t had another thing called a World War since, but we have been constantly at war all over the world, so there’s that.

There’s an inscription inside as well, and you know how much I love that.

Philosophy of Peace inscription by someone who gave the book as a gift.

I love this. Where are Mr. & Mrs. Martin Haisler and Edward W. Gray now? Why did he give this book to them? The book was published in 1949. What was it like in Hollywood, Florida then? What did they do for a living? How old were they?

If I could make a law, I’d say you have to write something in any book you read about who you are and why you are reading it or why you’re giving it. In fact, I’ve been giving books as gifts for years and from now on, instead of ordering them sent, I’m going to buy them, write a note inside and then send it personally. Time traveling again!

In search of more information about the book and author, I went directly to Wikipedia and they don’t have a page on this author. Amazon has the book listed under a used book seller with no details. The only thing I found was an obituary from the LA Times from 1994.

I’m sitting down with this, the day my youngest baby leaves the nest, with a cup of coffee and finding out what I can. Maybe it’s simply no longer relevant? That happens.

You can find “The Philosophy of Peace,” a revised edition with introductory letters from Einstein and Mann, at Thriftbooks. I’d love to see that book and compare it to my original version. If you decide to read it, let me know in the comments!

I’ve written a few posts about quotes and ideas that I found interesting as I read. Please go over and give them a read. You may find yourself wanting to read the book too…or just come argue with me.
Open and Honest Discussion of Any Ideology is the Best Cure
Can This Cardinal Rule Apply to Any Discussion?


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Negativity Bias can be a Positive Force

An example of negativity bias from the book on a desert background.

The old negativity bias is a strong instinct.

“Just like in life, where beautiful moments vanish in a second, and things that ache feel like they stay with us a whole lifetime.”

The 28 Mansions of the Moon by Motaz H Matar

I’m not a romantic, so the first thing I think when I read something like this it, “Of course they do! The things that ache remind us not to do that again!”

Humans are geared, like any animal, to watch for danger signs.

I’m trying to remember who said it, but I remember hearing on a podcast that the good things can happen over and over again. That which will kill you only needs to happen once, so we have an eye for those things. We should anyway. That’s what has kept us alive.

The beautiful moments; the attentive partner, the hot coffee with the perfect amount of Irish whiskey, a taco expertly crafted (that’s meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and then siracha ketchup, for those that are unaware), we can experience them time and time again and get joy from them each time. We don’t need to remember forever the feeling of looking out over Main Street at Disneyland and seeing the castle. We can go see it again! And better yet, forget it and go experience something else, like a perfect score at a trap shoot or bowling game with friends and beer!

The things that ache though, that’s what we need to remember. The grocery store that always has the bad meat that you can’t eat the next day. That freeway that is always packed with cars? Better to remember that and find a new route. That romantic partner that gave you signs he would turn out to be a complete asshole? Yeah…things you should remember and avoid in the future.

If we’re wired this way naturally, if we all keep having the same response to the same phenomena, shouldn’t we consider why? Instead of thinking, “Wow. Humans have some serious flaws,” maybe we could consider how the response may have served us in the past and how we can use it today.

What Is The Negativity Bias and How Can it be Overcome?

Knowing that we are hardwired to pay closer attention to and hold on to the negative aspects of life can help us sort through and make sense of our feelings. Instead of romanticizing them and crying over it, maybe we can think logically and use this instinct to our advantage.

You can find this book and others at Motaz H Matar’s website. If you read it, let me know what you think!

I posted about this book when I started reading it at the beginning of January, “The 28 Mansions of the Moon.”


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Assuming Positive Intent is the Start to More Compassion

Having Compassion quote on a desert background.

“Rather, genuine compassion is based on the rationale that all human beings have an innate desire to be happy and overcome suffering, just like myself.”

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

Assuming that others have positive (to them) intent, in the same way you do, is the first step to developing compassion.

All human beings? Even people that don’t vote like me or have a different religion? Even people that I think are racist?

Yes, they do. And accepting this and allowing others their space, without infringing on your own, is the way to feel genuine compassion for others. It also leads to happiness, for you and for those around you.

I’m am the worst when it comes to practicing this concept. I know it logically. I’ve written about it. I’ve read about it. I’ve meditated on it. And yet still, I come unglued when I’m faced with the fact that everyone does not think the way I do.

“If you’d only listen to me!” I scream in my head…mostly. “What you are doing does not lead you where you want to go, dumbass!” Dumbass is one of my favorites. I grew up hearing my Grandpa call people a dumbass and loved it. As a kid, it conjured up all kinds of hilarious images. As an adult, it’s even better. Not only is the person stubborn like an ass, but they’re dumb too. Blind, deaf, and mute to the actual world around them, digging all four hooves into the dirt and leaning back with all their weight against getting anything productive done. It’s such an apt name to call people.

I’m guilty of being the biggest dumbass just about every day. Why? Because I honestly believe I know what’s best for everyone around me. It’s obvious that I know more than you do. It’s clear that I’m smarter and more emotionally intelligent. If you’d only listen to me and do what I say, life would be so much easier for us all.

It’s sad that life doesn’t work that way. There are days when I want to scream and lock myself away in a remote cabin, far from the entire world. Just me, my books, my coffee…

Oh, who am I kidding? What’s the fun of living if I don’t get to attempt to control the behavior of others?!

We all do this to some degree. We all think we have the right answers for everyone, or at least we’re headed in the right direction. In all honesty, I wish we could at least know the right answers for our own lives, but that rarely happens too.

If only we could live like the Borg, mentally connected to each other so we could all know how everyone else felt, what everyone else was thinking, without the communication gaps. You know what I think we’d find if we could mind meld with everyone else? We’re all doing the best we can with what we have. We all have our own individual goals, emotional needs, etc. We’re all trying. We all want to be loved unconditionally by someone. We all want tacos for dinner. Once we realize that, nothing else really matters.

I wonder why it’s so hard for us to believe that. Can you imagine a world where everyone around you assumed you had positive intent? What if everyone you met believed that you were making the best choices to meet your own individual needs? And that if for some reason you overstepped another human’s boundaries, they would inform you gently and you’d respond in kind so that you were both comfortable?

Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it? We can start with our own lives with this one thought. Everyone around us, no matter what they are saying or doing, wants to be happy and is trying to relieve their own suffering. Get out of their way.


You can find The Art of Happiness at Thriftbooks. If you read it, let me know what you think!

I posted about this book when I started reading it back in December, New Read: The Art of Happiness

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Why I Get Up in the Morning: My Power is Out Edition

Bare toes poking out from a blanket on the couch.
Heat Exchangers

My Monday morning “Gratitude” post was going to be about waking up before dawn every morning, snuggling down into my corner of the couch, wrapped in a blanket. I’m the happiest girl in the world with a cup of coffee and my toes sticking out from under the blanket like a heat regulator.

The hours before the sun comes up are my most productive, reading-wise. I’m obsessed about it. I have my book, my journal, my glasses, and a pencil ready and waiting on my desk every morning so I don’t have to hunt for them. I regularly wake up thinking, “I could go back to sleep for thirty more minutes but…my book!”

This morning was the same until I looked out the window into the dark desert and saw a glint of white.

Desert snow

It DID snow! The weather report said there was a chance, but I’ve learned not to get my hopes up when it comes to weather predictions in the desert. A 20% chance of rain means nothing around here. Partly cloudy = one cloud drifting across the sky. But this morning, there it was, a fine layer of snow on the dirt everywhere I looked.

I snuggled down into my corner of the couch as usual and then, predictably, as the sun started to come up, the power went out.

…sigh…

That’s the fun of a more rural life. I’m not being sarcastic. It really is. We live just far enough outside the city to make things a bit fun but not too crazy. Dirt roads and driveways lend themselves to the rustic atmosphere but become interesting when it rains more than one day. Snow melting into the dirt and sand is different than snow pushed to the side of paved roads.

Desert snow.

Last night’s snow wasn’t much but when it does snow more than an inch or two the whole town shuts down for the day. It doesn’t happen every year, so we all sit back and enjoy it. The sun will come out and melt most of it away in a few hours. A few days later the wet will evaporate into the air or sink down into the sand. A week later green shoots of grass will show up everywhere and then dry out over the following month. Then we get to watch the rabbits come out to munch.

Snowy desert front yard.
Get out your snow shovels!

As I type, the sun is out, the sky is clear and blue, and there’s a beautiful light blanket of snow everywhere. My husband had begun to brew beer early this morning so when the power went out, he had to drag the generator out of the garage to continue. The wood burning fireplace still burns, but without the electric fan to move the heat around the room the dog and cat have parked themselves in front of it. My laptop works for now. My couch was in the recline position when the power failed and I had just finished brewing a pot of coffee, so I’m good for the morning at least.

The power is never out for long, so there’s no need to stress. It’s just a nice excuse to sit with one more cup of coffee…and my book!


Click over to “Why I Get Up in the Morning – Episode One” and read my first gratitude post. Six months and only fourteen posts? I thought this was going to be a weekly thing! I know…I’m working on consistency in many things. Remember?

These posts were inspired last year by Sagittarius Viking‘s Weekend Coffee Share posts. How did I find her? I don’t remember, but I am also a Sagittarius AND a Viking and I love her posts! Coincidence?!

“The Secret Life of Dust” by Hannah Holmes

"The Secret Life of Dust" book cover on the desert floor.
“The Secret Life of Dust” by Hannah Holmes, surround by…dust!

“The Secret Life of Dust” called to me from the pile every time I walked by. I told it I would read it soon, it was next in line, be patient. As soon as I finished my last book, I picked it up and put it on my desk. I could tell right away it was happy to be there.

What do I know about this book? Nothing really. I liked the cover. I assumed it was about science when  I picked it up out of my friend’s donated library.

“From the Cosmos to the Kitchen Counter, the Big Consequences of Little Things”

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?

I sat down to add it to my reading journal and couldn’t decide what genre to put it under. Non-fiction, sure. But is it science, history, sociology? I looked it up on Goodreads but that didn’t help.

Goodreads genre list.
Not Helpful

I love categories and counting things. How am I supposed to mark this?! I guess it’s just another lesson in not putting things in boxes. Life doesn’t work that way, I’m told. I’m reminded of it every time I try to put things in order, no matter what part of my life I’m working on.

Kitchen things are used in the garage. Education comes from everywhere. Family can be found in anyone. And meaning can be made of clouds…which are only there because of dust.

You see what my brain did there? Pretty clever, I think.

I started reading first thing this morning. And the first chapters are about space dust. Now I want desperately for someone to go out there “Star Trek” style and confirm humanity’s observations. What’s out there? Who’s out there? Is there another planet full of beings looking out in our direction and wondering, “What is that strange blue/green glow?”

Want to read more of my thoughts on this book?
Weird Science: A Kangaroo Rat’s Unhappy Flight
I’m Always in Awe of Humanity’s Insignificance – Just Dust in the Wind

Have you read this book? Want to read along with me? Go get The Secret Life of Dust and leave me a comment about your thoughts on it. I can’t wait to hear from you!


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Reality is Not The Curated Fragments of Life in the Media

Curated fragments of life quote with book cover background.

“Now instead of following their favorite celebrity on social media, ONI users could become their favorite celebrity for a few minutes each day. Exist inside their skin. Live short, heavily curated fragments of far more glamourous lives.”

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Let’s put an emphasis on “heavily curated fragments” and talk about that for a few paragraphs, shall we?

In the “Earl,” that’s what they call IRL (in real life) in the book, we all project a curated image as we move through our daily lives. At work, at the grocery store, at the playground with other parents, etc., people mostly see what we want them to see. We don’t walk around with our life story on our sleeves for everyone to see.

The more time we spend with people though, the more they know us and our secrets, the things we try to keep from the public eye. We don’t hide them for nefarious reasons. We’re not hidden criminals…I hope…mostly. We all have a public and a private image.

Inevitably, those small quirks that make us unique, or those bad habits we try to hide from public view, slip out into the Earl from time to time. We react badly to an offense. Our children thrash our last nerve. A rough day at the office turns into road rage on the way home, the middle finger goes up, harsh words are spoken. It happens. But we quickly return to our persona.

At home, with our closest family and friends, we are a different person. Our guard goes down and we are more ourselves.

On the internet, social media especially? How much more so? How many different personalities do have? How many “heavily curated fragments” of ourselves do we present? It depends on the individual. Celebrities, politicians, people that depend on public favor, I’m sure have a lot of work to do maintaining an image that doesn’t do them damage.

You can’t please everyone all the time.

Humans are flawed. We make mistakes. We ruin things and create messes with people. That doesn’t make us bad people, but when you’re trying to sell an image…well…it’s best to curate one that is appetizing to as many people as possible.

But what about us “normal”? I’m not selling an image to my family and friends. Or am I? This blog is one curated image that I project to the public. It’s certainly not all of me on the page. There are other sides of me that are my private thoughts, though it may seem like you’re getting all of me.

And escaping from dull reality into fiction isn’t a new thing. We used to tell stories, then read books, listen to the radio, watch movies, and then tv.  We have always wondered what someone else’s life would be like and assumed that it would be better or more exciting than our own. It usually isn’t.

What if we could see our own lives curated in the same way? Would we be jealous of ourselves and wish to escape into that life?


Have you read Ready Player Tw0? Did you read Ready Player One? Or watch the movie? Comment and let me know what you think!

If you’re interested in my monthly reading newsletter, where I describe all my juicy immediate afterthoughts of the books I read, along with various other hilarious tidbits, subscribe by signing up for it HERE!

“The 28 Mansions of the Moon”

The 28 Mansions of the Moon book cover on a Joshua Tree.

This book is special because it is the first I’ve purchased and read because I followed the author on Instagram. I loved his posts and then saw that he had a book out…had to get it. It doesn’t take much for me to want to read a book, that’s for certain!

I’m thirty pages in today and enjoying it immensely. It’s different, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to read more and maybe learn more about what it’s based on.

You can find the book on Amazon here and follow the author on Instagram here.

“The 28 Mansions of the Moon” is also my first new read of 2021.

This year I plan on doing something different and read one book at a time for a while. I used to have two books going because one was usually a slow, difficult read that I could only focus on for about twenty minutes before my brain hurt. I may pick up one of those reads again and need to have two books going at once, but for now let’s see how this goes!

Cup of tea and a book journal.
Afternoon Tea

I have a brand-new book journal for the occasion.

Believe it or not, I found this lovely little book over a year ago in a shop in San Diego. I picked up and thought…no, I’ll just lose it before I need it…but it’s SO cute! Yep. I bought it and now I finally get to use it. Yay for keeping track of things!

Happy New Year Everyone!

If you’d like to know my thoughts on this book, you’ll find them at the links below.
What Does it Mean to be Human? Contradictions!
Negativity Bias Can be a Positive Force


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New Read: “Normal People” A Novel

Picture of my new read cover with a desert sunrise background.
Sunrise in the desert…priceless.

Another “New Read” Blog Post? Already?!

Yes, I just happened to finish both of my previous books one day apart, so on to new ones in the same fashion. “There’s no rest for the wicked.” Right?

Picture of my new read cover with a cup of coffee and a cat.
The cover says, so I’m ready!

Once again, I’m not sure why I originally picked this book up. It wasn’t a bookstore or Costco book pile impulse buy. Neither was it a gift or free book I happened across. I must have read about it in another book or article. Like I said in a previous post, I’m working on fixing that gap.

The title is probably what drew my attention. “Normal People” by Sally Rooney, maybe I’ll learn something about these so-called normal people.

From the back cover, though, it looks like a modern love story. That’s always nice to read too!

I have a fresh pot of coffee and some oatmeal cookies and I’m ready to dive in.

Have you heard of this book? Want to read it with me?

You’ll find my thoughts about quotes from this book at…
The School System is Oppressive for a Reason
Can We Find Human Connection in an Irritating Sound
I’m a writer. What’s Your Superpower?


My monthly newsletter highlights my immediate after-thoughts about the books I read the previous month. You can sign up for that awesome email at the link on the right or by hopping over to my Autobibliography page. Once you opt-in, you’ll receive one email a month only available to my email followers…mmm…so exclusive!

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