Books I Read This Week 2019 – 26

This was a okay reading week, for me. A few books but long ones. Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Middlegame (3.5 stars):

Smart kids get put on a pedestal by parents and teachers alike, and the rest of the class gathers around the base of it throwing rocks, trying to knock them down. People who say ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ don’t understand how words can be stones, hard and sharp-edged and dangerous and capable of doing so much more harm than anything physical.

Ok like many others, I am going to have a lot of trouble explaining this novel. I’m a huge fan of the wayward children and even though I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, there are enough similarities that I wanted to give it a chance. And then I just kept going, though I will say this was likely about a third too long. It could have been a tighter story without as many repeats. I know some of them were on purpose but some just felt like lack of editing, to me.

I think whether you like this novel or not hinges a lot on whether you connect with the two main characters. All the negative reviews I read seem to have felt no connection and the positive ones seem to have loved the two characters. I was mainly on the second camp. I loved these twins. I loved the math vs words split. I loved their connection. So I was willing to endure much to get to keep being in their world. I also loved Erin and really enjoyed watching her evolve.

There are many many interesting references here that I likely missed which could deepen the story in a second or third read but alas it’s unlikely I will. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed my time in Roger and Dodger’s world and can’t wait for more Seanan McGuire novels.


The Wisdom of Anxiety (5 stars):  “As Rilke said, ‘Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart, and love the questions themselves.’ When embarking on inner work, it’s essential to remember that life is a work in progres, and there is not end goal to healing. As humans, we are both whole and broken, formed and unformed. But there is a critical difference between having broken parts that need attention and believing that there’s something fundamentally wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you. You are intrinsically good, loved, and whole.”

I usually read a book in 1-2 days. I will sit with it, dive into it and then come up for air when I am done. I expected to do that with this book as well and I couldn’t have been more wrong. This book turned out to be a journey for me. A journey through my own anxiety, my own childhood, my ability to be kind and generous with myself. I could not take this journey in one day, I needed it in bits and pieces, I needed to sit with it all.

I have highlighted 73 different sections in this book. I can’t quote all of them here but here’s one more that is the most resonant for me, especially as a parent but also for my own child-self:

“As a parent, one of my deepest desires is for my sons to know that they are loveable and loved exactly as they ae, no matter now angry, loud, messy, or disrespectful they are. I want them to know that all their feelings are welcome and important. I may not always like their behavior – and I let them know – but it doesn’t alter my love for them, which is unchanging and eternal. I’ll say to them “I didn’t like how you treated your friend today, but nothing will ever change how much I love you.” The message I hope to impart is: I love you because I love you. I don’t love you because you’re beautiful (even thought you are.) I don’t love you because you’re creative (although I do reflect back an awareness of your creativity.) I love you because I love you. And that will never change no matter what you do. “

This book is a reminder that anxiety is about a call inward to fill your well, it’s an opportunity to be curious and to be kind and to learn. It’s an opportunity for wisdom and growth. What a kind and generous perspective. It’s the kind of book that encourages action and growth through curiosity, openness and self-kindness instead of blame and shame. I am so incredibly grateful for the time I’ve spent with it and I know there will be times I will refer back to this to remember all of the wonderful and kind lessons she imparts.

Huge thanks to netgalley and sounds true for an early copy and for the opportunity to read this wonderful book.


The Sentence is Death (3.5 stars): I read the first book in the Hawthorne series last year and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to the second one and it did not disappoint. If you liked “The Word Is Murder,” I am pretty optimistic you’ll like this one, too.

I really enjoy the juxtaposition of Horowitz being the writer in the story and having the story within the story aspect to the whole novel. I enjoy Hawthorne and Horowitz’s characters both immensely and the interaction even more. I liked the first book slightly better just because there was so much joy in the newness of the concept and the introduction of the characters.

While I wasn’t able to guess the full whodunnit in this story, there were some twists and turns I was able to see coming and I actually enjoyed that the most. It managed to get me excited about how clever I was as a reader but also kept me guessing until the end in some ways.

Horowitz doesn’t disappoint. Looking forward to #3


The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna (3 stars): This detailed and thought-provoking novel of a family saga starting in Cambria, Italy and ending in Connecticut over the course of some 100 years started out as a five-star read for me. This is exactly the kind of novel I usually like. It’s character-driven. It takes place over a long duration where you see the characters grow and change and find yourself getting more and more attached to them.

All of which happened. Especially for Stella, her sister, Tina, and her mom. But then the story was too long and my interest (especially over the repeating themes) started to wane. I don’t usually like reading around the topics of rape and incest and they play a reasonably major role in this story so that also started to get to me after 12 hours of audio and I had a hard time staying with it.

I am glad I finished the story and there were so many bits that I loved but, for me, it didn’t finish as strong as it started. And yet, I know it will stay with me for a while.


And there we go, an okay week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Stories from 2019 – 26

This story is about what each of us are doing with climbing at this moment.

Here are two more stories from my 2019 album. The content for these comes from the “habit” kit and then leftovers from all my previous kits. 

This one is about going canoeing together and how much it makes me happy to be near the water.

Stories from 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. Everything on the pages is from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise.

Everyday Magic – 26

Weekly Intention: [i do now have a bit of a prioritized list but not really. my plan here is to do it during week of july 1, i’ll try to keep myself accountable here.] this is our magical week. my intention is to be present and to do my best to keep anxiety at bay so magic can surface and envelop me. i am really really hoping i can surrender.

This month’s intention is: Big Magic: And here’s summer. Time to go big again. Add some magic to your days with your kids and husband. Take trips, add wonder and awe. If you’re going to go big once this year, this is the time. This is it. let’s let the magic happen!

One way I will show up this week:  present. open. surrendering.

One magic I will make this week: i will participate, i will show up, i will support my loved ones.

This week, I will pay attention to: the incredible awe-inspiring life around me

This week, I will be kinder to: my family and my husband.

This week, I will focus on pleasing: my family.

One new thing I will learn this week: i’ll be doing a lot of learning this week.

I am looking forward to: magic!

This week’s challenges: just a lot of logistics that I am hoping all goes well.

Top Goals:  only one top goal this week: Be Present and Drink in the Magic.

I will focus on my values:

  • Love: love for what we can do for each other.
  • Learn: learn how to surrender.
  • Peace: with not knowing all the details
  • Service: to my family.
  • Gratitude: for being able to add magic to our lives.

This week, I want to remember: getting to do my bucket list.


Everyday Magic is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Weekly Reflection 2019 – 25

Magic I Saw this Week: I want to start by saying that after a long period of darkness (some quite dark) I seem to be feeling better, much better which is magic all on its own. I’d like to say it went away as randomly as it started but I am stepping back to pay attention it and I think there’s a lesson around purpose somewhere there for me but I haven’t digested it all just yet. For now, I am really appreciating that it’s here and I’m feeling it. This week was a mix of home and work time and a lot lot of work but it was work I am excited to do and my cup feels like it’s overflowing in all the right ways, so it felt magical.

Magic I Made this Week: I made time to have a conversation with a friend of mine and I also made time to go climbing because our usual time wasn’t going to work this week. I totally didn’t want to but did it anyway and it was very much worth it.

Magic of Me that I explored Week: i didn’t do much here and haven’t been journaling, just haven’t found a rhythm here, yet.

Top Goals Review:  

  • Work: made some tangible progress on tokyo, put a pretty big dent in my todo list, but did not start personal plans
    Personal: did daily drawing, did exercise, did not really journal, nor did I restart yoga, but I did get some solid sleep.
    Family:  i so totally loved and hugged my people. I did a make a tiny summer plan for N. did not pack at the time of this writing but will have packed by the time you read it.

I celebrate: feeling better.

I am grateful for: a little downtime

This week, I exercised: i went climbing on wednesday, did body pump on Monday and Yoga on Tuesday.

Self-care this week: hmm not a huge amount this week but I have been sleeping in a bit.

I showed up for: work.

I said yes to: climbing even though I really didn’t want to go.

I said no to: working late into the night, I feel like I need a break every day.

Core Desired Feelings Check-in:

  • Embrace:  i am embracing how I feel, so grateful for it.
  • Alive: all this work is making me feel alive.
  • Lighter: i feel lighter now that i feel a bit better.
  • Kinder: hmm actually i want to be kinder to my kids.
  • Surrender: surrendering for our adventures and assuming all will be great.

What I tolerated this week: sleeping poorly every night still unsure what’s going on.

My mood this week was: excited.

I am proud of: saying yes.

I forgive myself for: not getting it all done in one week.

Here’s what I learned this week: i really do better when i have a purpose.

What I love right now: having work I enjoy doing.


Weekly Reflection is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Joy of Art – 24

we are all unique in our own way. another life book 2019 lesson.

These are small pieces I do at work or at home at night to help remind me why I love doing art. 


Joy of Art is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 25

This was a meh reading week, for me. Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Marriageology (3 stars): I am a big fan of reading about marriage (and other topics) while things are going well. I feel like at moments like these, I am open to learning and receiving because I am not constantly triggered by what I might be upset about. So all potential ideas feel like options I can try out and use to strengthen my marriage. This book has both anecdotal stories and academic research and statistics. I would say that if your marriage is in trouble and you’re reading this book for ideas, the tone might throw you off a bit. It’s funny and jokey, not in a bad way but it might rub you the wrong way if you’re hurting or angry. 

For me, I enjoyed this reminder of several different areas to pay attention to in my marriage and to always keep working on it.


The Better Sister (2.5 stars):  This was a relatively fast paced novel that started with an interesting premise but then didn’t keep up the pace as much as I would have liked. If domestic mysteries are your thing, you will likely enjoy this and the few twists it contains. I didn’t really want to put it down while I was reading it which is definitely a sign of good pacing and plot, for me. But alas I don’t think it will stay with me for long.


The Invited (3 stars): I had read that this story was going to be creepy and while I am not picky in my reading tastes, I generally try to stay away from creepy. After hemming and hawing I decided to pick it up anyway and I am glad I did. This is a medium paced character driven novel, you get attached to the characters through slowing learning more and more about their lives. 

The chapters are short and pacing is much faster than a typical character-driven story though I’d say slower than a typical mystery. For me, this didn’t turn out to be creepy at all. There is a twist here and there and I was able to guess several pretty easily but it didn’t take away from the story, for me, since there’s more depth here than a typical mystery story. 

In the end, I am glad I picked it up.


With the Fire on High (4 stars): Acevedo is such a good writer. Her characters are so 3-dimensional they come off the page. They stick with you and you find yourself thinking about them all the time. This novel was very different from Poet X and still had some of the similar themes. It was fun, deep, thought-provoking, fast-paced and meaningful all at once. It’s hard to pull off all of those things in one story and she does such a good job with it!


The Farm (3 stars): Golden Oaks is a surrogacy farm. Women host children for the wealthy. Many of the women who are hosts are immigrants who need money and jobs and a leg up in life. The clients are wealthy and white. This story is dubbed as dystopian but it’s not that far from a potential truth. 

While it was character driven, I still found myself unable to get into it as much as I would have liked. There was not enough variety and inflection in the story. The characters were each different but they all fell a bit flat for me. I felt the story went on longer than it needed to be (especially the epilogue.) 

While I think there are some very interesting ideas in this book and it’s a valuable social commentary, I think the execution wasn’t as tight as it could have been. Having said that I still enjoyed reading it and am glad these kinds of books are getting printed and read.


And there we go, an okay week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Stories from 2019 – 25

This story is about when we went walking along the water as a family, something i am trying to do more and more

Here are two more stories from my 2019 album. The content for these comes from the “habit” kit and then leftovers from all my previous kits. 

This is about us doing yoga daily and how it’s all about making this one sentiment more possible.

Stories from 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. Everything on the pages is from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise.

Everyday Magic – 25

Weekly Intention: [still no prioritized list.] This is my last week before I take a small amount of time off, so my intention this week is to focus really hard on work and button up as many things as I can so that I feel like I am at a good place to leave.

This month’s intention is: Big Magic: And here’s summer. Time to go big again. Add some magic to your days with your kids and husband. Take trips, add wonder and awe. If you’re going to go big once this year, this is the time. This is the week in between two pieces of magic.

One way I will show up this week:  motivated, driven, focused.

One magic I will make this week: get really organized both with my todo list and plan for the people.

This week, I will pay attention to: what needs to get done. where I can empower others more.

This week, I will be kinder to: everyone around me.

This week, I will focus on pleasing: all of the todo list items!

One new thing I will learn this week: a little bit about each of my team members and a solid understanding of what there is to do.

I am looking forward to: getting a lot done (crossing fingers!!)

This week’s challenges: Just a lot to do before I leave town.

Top Goals: 

  • Work: tokyo, get my todo list done, start personal plans
  • Personal: daily drawing, exercise, journal (!!), and restart yoga, sleep.
  • Family:  love and hug my people. make a summer plan for N. pack.

I will focus on my values:

  • Love: love for all my todo list.
  • Learn: learn how to be better organized.
  • Peace: with not being all perfect yet.
  • Service: to all the todo list still .
  • Gratitude: for having things to do.

This week, I want to remember: how excited I feel about stretching my boundaries.


Everyday Magic is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Weekly Reflection 2019 – 24

Magic I Saw this Week: There was so much magic this week. I started my week by traveling to Santa Cruz for a 3-day leadership course and it was at this magical place surrounded by beautiful evergreen trees and wonderful yoga and an infinity pool. Delicious, fresh food and time reserved for me to think about my career. It’s such a luxury to get to have all this and I am incredibly grateful for it. It was truly magical. Then I came home and worked hard and I’m so super excited about my work and all the ways in which I hope to grow.

Magic I Made this Week: I made time to go to this class which was amazing. I also went climbing twice with my family this week which was such magic, too. When I was in Santa Cruz, I met up with my friend Lori whom I hadn’t seen in years and years and we had a wonderful time together. I went in the pool even though I was uncomfortable with the idea of it. I went to yoga even though I was tired. I also kept drawing every day.

Magic of Me that I explored Week: hmmm i guess not much qualifies but there actually was a lot of this in my class this week.

Top Goals Review:  

  • Work: i spent a lot of time thinking about my career goals, i started working with new teams to get organized but have a long way to go, i also began making a plan for settling org but also really really early.
  • Personal: did daily drawing, did exercise, did not journal (!!), and did not restart yoga, slept pretty poorly all week. no bath tub at hotel.
  • Family:  loved and hugged my people. did not make a summer plan.

I celebrate: taking time to do this course.

I am grateful for: my new adventures at work. i feel grateful and excited.

This week, I exercised: i went climbing on monday and thursday, to yoga on Tuesday.

Self-care this week: i went in the pool! I met up with my friend.

I showed up for: myself this week.

I said yes to: some awesome challenges at work.

I said no to: working while I was in the class.

Core Desired Feelings Check-in:

  • Embrace:  i am embracing my new setup. here’s to doing the best I can.
  • Alive: the class made me feel alive and focused.
  • Lighter: i feel lighter as we approach our vacation.
  • Kinder: kinder to myself this week, i needed it.
  • Surrender: surrendering to doing the best i can with what i have

What I tolerated this week: sleeping poorly every night.

My mood this week was: vulnerable and open and tired.

I am proud of: being open.

I forgive myself for: feeling how i felt at the end.

Here’s what I learned this week: everyone has their own story and personal path.

What I love right now: being home for a bit before we leave.


Weekly Reflection is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Joy of Art – 23

beauty comes in all shapes. welcome it all into your life.

These are small pieces I do at work or at home at night to help remind me why I love doing art. 


Joy of Art is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 24

This was a meh reading week, for me. Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World (3 stars): “Better a brain than a fist. A brain can hold anything, from giant things, like distant stars and planets, to tiny things we can’t see, like germs. A brain can even hold things that aren’t and never were, like hobbits. A brain can hold the whole universe, a fist just holds what little it can grab. Or hits what it can’t.” There are so many beautiful bits in this book, and yet, for me, it mostly dragged. I just couldn’t get into the story and didn’t ever really connect with the main character. In a book where the main character is alone 60+% of the time, this was a major issue.

While there is indeed a twist toward the end of this book, I couldn’t decide if the twist was at all necessary. I couldn’t decide if it added to the story in any way. Sometimes the twist makes you go back and revisit everything you held to be true while you were reading a story. In rare cases where that’s executed perfectly, that’s great. In most cases it’s just a disaster, in my opinion, where the author just assumes the reader is dumb and they can drop a huge twist with no hints along the way that just makes the first half of the story completely unimportant. I hate those. In this case, though, I felt it was neither. It didn’t do much to serve the story, and I think I would have enjoyed the end of the story just as much without the twist being presented in such a twisty way. 

I did enjoy the end of the story but I am not sure it made up for the whole time I invested in this one. If you like beautiful writing, dystopia, or twists, this might be your cup of tea.


Exhalation (4 stars):  I read Ted Chiang’s previous book after I’d already seen the movie Arrival. While I enjoyed the writing, I couldn’t get into the stories. I figured it was my inability to focus at the time so when this new collection came out, I was looking forward to it but also a bit apprehensive. I don’t usually read short story collections, so that only added to my overall worry that I wouldn’t like this book.

Alas, my worries were unfounded. If you’re a fan of science fiction and good writing, you will find something to treasure here. There are a wide range of stories and one of the best parts is the author’s note at the end of each story, telling you about how the idea came to be and what area of science it was based on. To me, that was icing on the cake. 

I loved many of the stories but for me the first and the last stories (“The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” and “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom”) were the best. I also loved “Omphalos” and chatted about it at length with my fourteen year old. Even his titles make me smile.

So glad I decided to tackle this one.


The Unpassing (3 stars): “It was a kind of violence, what my father had done. He had brought us to a place we didn’t belong, and taken us from a place we did. Now we yearned for all places and found peace in none.”

This is a story about grief told from the perspective of a young boy of an immigrant family from Taiwan. The boy gets meningitis and is in a coma, when he wakes up, he finds out that his sister also got it and died. The story is about all the ways in which the family grieves the girl on top of the struggles they have as an immigrant family in Alaska. Things do not get better and there’s a lot of sadness in this character-driven story. 

The news from the time (80s) are also incorporated into the story, things like Challenger explosion, etc. The themes around grief, immigration, racism, bullying are all covered. The book is slow and grim but also has beautiful prose. 

If character-driven stories are your cup of tea, you will appreciate this one.


Rules for Visiting (3 stars): This is a very quiet novel and not much happens in it. But in a sweet, wonderful way. This book doesn’t focus on what’s going on but more about what does it mean for us to be human, what does friendship mean, and how do we make or keep friends. What does it mean to foster relationships in your life. 

I am more like the main character in this book than not, I have friends but i don’t really do the work to foster them too much. I prefer to be alone with my books. Unlike the main character I have a family so when I feel the need to connect, I have my wonderful family which makes it even less likely for me to try to foster and grow friendships. This book made me think a lot and I made a list of all the people who’ve been in my life that I’d rather have a closer relationship with so that I can also work on growing those relationships over the coming months. 

Any book that makes me more intentional about my life is a good book, for me.


Everything is F*cked (2 stars): I try to never ever give low ratings because I know that a lot of effort and care and blood and sweat goes into writing a book. And who am I to judge a book and say it was bad. But then again, these are just my opinions and I find that when I am looking around picking a book to read, the variety of opinions matter to me so I think it’s important to be honest about how I felt about reading a book so that other people can make choices that work for them.

I’ll say that I read and really liked Mason’s first book so I was very much looking forward to this one and hoping it would be more of the direct and honest style I’ve appreciated from him. And this book had some of that but it attempted to be so philosophical, so high level that I didn’t at all feel the personal connection to it like I did in the first book. It was all over the place and much less organized than the first book. 

It had some interesting and thought provoking ideas but many of them were from other books I’d already read, so not new to me. I did like much of his philosophical points and historical examples but it just didn’t really coalesce into a solid delivery in my opinion. 

I will still read more books by Manson and look forward to his next one, this one just wasn’t a home run for me.


Noble Heart (5 stars): I am a huge fan of Pema Chodron and this is a very comprehensive set of lectures. This was likely a recording at a retreat so the format is: lessons/learnings and then meditation over multiple days. It’s not ideal for listening to in one shot while running errands, etc. But to be honest, I can and will listen to Pema anytime, anywhere, under any condition. 

Her ability to take concepts and make them human, add a layer of humor and a layer of personal touch is unparalleled. She is such a good teacher because she’s fallible and the audience can relate to her so well because it’s clear she understands why we all seek these learnings because she clearly does, too. 

There is such a density of content here that I can listen to it again and again and appreciate it deeply each time. So grateful for teachers like her.


And there we go, an okay week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Stories from 2019 – 24

This story is just about my boys. all the ways in which they are so themselves.

Here are two stories from my 2019 album. The content for these comes from the “habit” kit and then leftovers from all my previous kits. 

This one is about new years eve and how we were all together as a family.

Stories from 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. Everything on the pages is from Ali’s Story Kits unless mentioned otherwise.