Daily Year of Yes

Year of Yes – 20

And here we are. There are so many amazing things I can say about today but none, for me, will surpass the joy of seeing a woman be sworn in as a vice president of the United States. A woman of color. What a day this was.

If you didn’t listen to Amanda Gorman ( @amandascgorman )
and her incredible poem today, I can’t encourage you enough to go find it. I had back to back meetings today from 7am to 6pm but I still had CNN in the background the whole time and was able to hear Garth Brooks sing Amazing Grace and I cried.

I am grateful for this day and I am paying attention to the good. I will remember it. May it be the beginning of many more.

Yes to breaking barriers. Yes to hope once again. Yes to a new day!

#yearofyes #karenikayearofyes

Books I Read This Week 2020 – 1 & 2

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I also have an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art. Since I didn’t post last week, this will be an extra-long post. And going forward I am experimenting with auto-posting my reviews as I post them to goodreads so we will see how that works.

Float Plan (4 stars): If you’re a fan of sweet romance novels with strong female characters, some steam, you will enjoy this story of Anna whose husband to be has committed suicide and she decides to go on their dream sailing journey anyway.

Along the way, she finds help, kindness, love and herself. I really liked that she’s strong and capable and he’s kind and generous. I also really enjoyed some of the transient but sweet secondary characters.

Sometimes a sweet, semi-predictable love story is exactly what’s needed and this one hits the spot beautifully.

with gratitude to netgalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Enneagram Empowerment (4 stars): Last year I discovered the enneagram which at first sounded very astrology-like and wasn’t appealing to me. But after some work, I have become very interested in it and have been reading most of the books I can get my hands on.

It is often eerily accurate and quite interesting. This book was no exception. It is a great starting point if you don’t know much about it (though I wouldn’t recommend going by the quickie quiz it has in the book. I’d recommend you find several online tests, read heavily and then figure out your type. To be fair, the author recommends reading each type thoroughly, too.)

It has a quick (4-page) overview of each type and then a section for self-empowerment (self-compassion, responding to stress, living strengths, empowered thinking, and more) and then relational empowerment (setting boundaries, centers of wisdom, etc.) Each section is short and quick but there was still quite a bunch of food for thought.

If you’re new to the enneagram, you will enjoy this book. If you’re not new, you’ll still like the empowerment focus.

with gratitude to DK and netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

Just Work (4 stars): I have so many thoughts about Kim Scott’s new book. This is generally a sign that I need to sit with it a while more so I might come back to this review and change/add. But I just finished it so here are some of my raw thoughts.

– There’s a lot of vulnerability and honest sharing of life experiences in this book. Kim shares a lot of what she experienced as an employee and decisions she made as a leader, she recounts many of her regrets at both times
– There is a structure to the book that makes it easy to parse and contextualize the definitions, roles, and actions
– She gives a lot of examples of both what not to do and what to do

And while she shares a lot of examples of where she made the wrong choice and how she regrets it, she doesn’t give a lot of examples of where she made the “right” choice when her own life/career/etc was on the line. She gives a lot of examples of when she was in a consulting or power position and acted as an upstander (her nomenclature) on behalf of highlighting, correcting, and speaking up about a situation someone else was in. But not a lot of examples of her own career as an employee where she did take a risk to stand up or as a leader, where she corrected something in real time. She definitely owns up to her incorrect behavior (which is definitely commendable) but somehow it started to bother me that they were all examples of where someone else rescued her out of a situation, or she waited it out, or some other thing she says not to do – and she also readily acknowledges the person harmed (I really appreciate her not using the word “victim”) should completely get to do what they believe is right for them which I totally understand. But I kept thinking that if her advice in this book is so sound, why is she herself not taking it? I couldn’t tell if this was a biased view and I am sure there’s a flaw in the thinking but because it kept creeping up, I wanted to acknowledge it.

Putting this aside, there are a lot of tangible pieces of advice here both for leaders and observers that I found very helpful. These are not platitudes. They are real, tangible ways we can hold ourselves and our leaders accountable, and start the journey towards change.

This book is hard to read and can be demoralizing, especially if you belong to an underrepresented group. Several of her gender-specific examples really were tough for me to read, especially where it paralleled my own experiences. But it also ends on a hopeful note, pointing out that just workplaces are possible and worth working towards.

No book on this subject will be perfect. No author will get it all right. I appreciated Scott’s honestly, openness, vulnerability, and no-nonsense advice in this book. I will have to sit with it a while longer to see what else stays with me.

with gratitude to St. Martin’s Press and netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

How to Fail at Flirting (3 stars): Enjoyed my time with this light read. Both of the main characters are great and so are the secondary ones. Serious issues like abuse and racism are covered here but the spotlight shines on the romance and it’s lovely.

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett (4 stars): what an absolute joy of a story. i fell in love with this book from the first few minutes. I loved all of the characters. I loved both the past and the present stories and i loved the quiet way in which it was told. Really sweet.

Take it Back (3.5 stars): An interesting mystery story. Stands out from the pack because it handles issues around religion and groupthink and masculinity. But it also has some tropes that didn’t thrill me. I could see several of the twists coming and felt frustrated maybe because my expectations were so high going in.

Three O’Clock in the Morning (5 stars): “There are occasions when you need to talk, and you mustn’t take anything for granted. Then there are other occasions when you have to keep silent because there’s something intangible, something precious in the air, and your words might dispel it in an instant. These are two simple concepts. The hard part is to know when to apply one rule and when the other.”

Loved this beautiful story of a father and son who spend two days awake in Marseilles because of a medical procedure and walk and talk and bond during that time. They talk, really talk, for the first time. The book is told from the son’s perspective (he’s a senior in high school) and the reader gets to experience both their dialogue and the son’s inner thoughts.

“In other words, I again blended in with my contemporaries, while at the same time wanting to be very different from them. All teenagers suffer from the same schizophrenia. They do all they can to be the same and dream of being different.”

They go through many different topics : family, life, career, choices, sex, and more. I often think about how we as children do not get to experience our parents as adults or even full humans really. They are always playing the role of “parent” in our life so it’s hard to see them as humans with their own lives and regrets and choices and thoughts alongside that. In this story, the son is experiencing his dad as a human for that brief period.

“I don’t know. Maybe leaving something you care about in a place you don’t really want to leave is a way of staying connected to that place—of hoping to get back there. I don’t know.”

I loved so much of the dialogue, the son’s thoughts, the quiet and deep and wise nature of this book. It was like a perfect movie. I was in Marseilles just a few years ago so I was also able to visualize some of the scenery and imagine them walking down the streets.

“Perfect comes from the Latin perficere, to do something completely. Imperfection, in the etymological sense, is that which isn’t complete. Incompleteness distinguishes jazz from any other kind of music. In classical music, for example, the score contains all the notes to be played. The performer reads it and plays the written notes, nothing less but also nothing more. His performance is all about the many different ways he can interpret those notes, but the notes are always the same. In jazz, the score is just the starting point.”

The blurb of this book likened it to the movie “Before Sunrise” and I think it was a perfectly apt comparison. I loved every moment I spent with this book.

With gratitude to netgalley and HarperVia for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

Caste (4 stars): I have so many thoughts about this book but I feel like I still have to sit with it some. I absolutely agree with the author’s premise and it was eye opening to read so much of this book. While I usually love the storytelling and example-focused non-fiction narrative, in this case, I found myself wanting to learn a little more about the structures and academic understanding of caste systems. Which is why I feel like I need to go learn more, think more, and then revisit this book. If you’re like me and have been intimidated by the size of this book, I highly recommend you pick it up, it is very well written and the fact that it’s not super academic and has a lot of examples and stories makes it easy to digest and (for me) considerably less intimidating to read. I have already had several discussions in my household as a result of this book and expect many more to come.

The Color Purple (5 stars): What an exquisite novel. I know that many people read this book when they are much younger but I had never read it before and in some ways, I am so glad to have read it when I am a mother, and older, and can understand and appreciate some of the nuance in this story as well.

I was worried that this book was going to be very sad, so I kept putting off reading it for book club, but finally 4 days before the meeting, I decided it was now or never. I am eternally grateful that I read it. The story is definitely very sad, but maybe because I knew how horrific it was going to be, I was able to move past the devastating parts enough to deeply appreciate and enjoy Alice Walker’s story. There’s hope woven through this story and especially by the end, I felt the power of women supporting, uplifting and being there for each other.

If you’re like me and haven’t read this one, I cannot recommend it enough. The audiobook is fantastic and also highly recommended.

The Lost Apothecary (4 stars): This is the story of two women: Caroline, who is in London where she was scheduled to celebrate her tenth wedding anniversary before she found out her husband was cheating on her. So now she’s made it to London alone and stumbles on an apothecary vial near the river which then sets her off on a journey to figure out where it came from. And Nella, an apothecary in late 1700s who has moved away from her mother’s traditional apothecary shop to a much more nefarious one where she sells poisons for women to kill to be free of the men in their lives. The book goes back and forth between the two women as you see Nella’s story unfold and Caroline’s story colliding with it.

While I enjoyed both women’s perspectives, I liked my time with Nella more and found myself looking forward to those chapters. This is not your modern mystery where everyone is over the top and there are giant twists and all the characters are unreliable. This is old-school mystery that develops its characters, brings the setting into the reader’s mind and imagination, slowly unwinds, builds up to some twists to show you life is not as expected and finishes with a very satisfying coming together of the story. Much more my kind of mystery.

with gratitude to harper audio and netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Why We Sleep (4 stars): I put off reading this book forever. Started and stopped it many many times. I found it to be both incredibly useful and detailed and scientific and also really hard to read. There’s just so much there and much of it is quite academic. At some point, I was like “I totally believe you, no need to give me details, just tell me what to do and what not to do” Maybe because I am so tired and need more sleep 🙂

Joking aside, sleep is serious business and if you didn’t think so before, you absolutely will after reading this book. It will absolutely change your understanding of the necessity of sleep and will definitely make you reconsider your life and choices around sleep.

Good Company (4 stars): This is the story of Flora. Flora and Julian have been together for 20+ years and have a beautiful daughter they love and a life they’ve worked hard to build together. Flora and Margot have been best friends and Margot is a famous actress now. While she’s digging through drawers in her house to find a photo to give as a gift for her daughter’s graduation, Flora stumbles upon her husband’s wedding ring that he had lost 15 years ago.

This small act slowly start unwinding her life and having her rethink many of her choices and at a loss for what she should do as a result of this discovery.

I found it interesting that many who read the author’s previous novel found this one to be not as good. I felt the opposite. This book is decidedly quiet. Not a lot happens and if you need big things, over the top personalities, crazy twists, loud shouting matches, this is not the book for you. This book, in my opinion, is so much better than that. The characters are well built and each and every one of them is 3dimensional. You can find something to like and something to dislike about each of them. You feel for them and root for them and also shake your head when they disappoint you, which almost all of them do at some point.

This book felt real to me. I could imagine these people in the world, living their blissful-looking life with all the layers of struggle, pain, joy, and hard work under the surface layer. I loved the nuanced struggles of what you tell people and what you keep to yourself. When is it your duty to divulge something that you know about someone else that could completely change their life. How much of what we do is for our own benefit vs others’ good. How to navigate a loss that’s actually 15 years old but you just find out. How to feel when everything you thought you knew is not what you thought it was but it also kind of is. What makes a marriage, a family, a friendship. There’s so much good in this book. So much subtle depth.

I loved the time I spent with this book and if quieter books are your cup of tea, I highly recommend it.

with gratitude to netgalley, Harper Audio, edelweiss and Ecco publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

And there we go, grateful to be reading.

Books I Read this Week 2021 is a year-long project for 2021. You can read more about my projects for 2021 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 also have an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art (paused at the moment but restarting soon hopefully.)

Daily Year of Yes

Year of Yes – 19

There are so many things I am thinking about and want to talk about but my mind is all over the place and I have a review at work tomorrow, it’s inauguration day, and my sciatica is flaring ( possibly connected to the prior two points. )

So I will share something lighter instead. Earlier when I shared my awesome green smoothie ( which we are still drinking daily by the way! ) My friend @evelyn_skye shared with me several of her and her family’s tips. One of them was these quick and easy veggie wraps. I finally tried them this weekend and have already had three since then. I used what I have at hand which was black beans, corn, cheese, tomatoes, chicken and avocado. I had already eaten the ten zucchini I roasted but next time I’ll add those too.

I now have some amazing person helping me with my calendar at work which means I have 30 minutes set aside for lunch ( as opposed to 3 minutes in the past ) so that coupled with this super simple idea means I now get to have a lunch that includes more veggies and protein too. YES.

And just to call it out because my diet driven brain is definitely saying it: I know the tortilla and cheese aren’t “healthy” and I know corn is not the ‘best’ vegetable and avocado is fatty. Blah blah. But here’s the deal, before all this, I was eating crackers and goat cheese for lunch on a good day and cookies and chocolate on a less good day. And neither of those has half the nutrition this meal has. And the goal here is adding more nutrition, so it’s a win! ( I still eat cookies and chocolate too btw, the goal is to add more nutrition not to restrict anything. )

So here we are. One more simple win. If I can find 3-4 other lunch options and 3-4 dinner options, I am set for life, or at least for a few months!

Yes to better nutrition, yes to simple, fast, and delicious options. Yes yes yes.

#yearofyes #karenikayearofyes

Review: The Lowering Days: A Novel

The Lowering Days: A Novel
The Lowering Days: A Novel by Gregory Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a gift of a book this was. There are so many things that I loved about this book but at the very top of my list is the exquisite writing. There are so many sentences in this book that stopped me in my track and made me rewind the audio to listen again. It’s truly exquisite writing.

This is the story of a small town in Maine along the Penobscot River. The town is adjacent to where the Penobscot Nation is and the town’s mill is harming their land. When the mill is burned to the ground on the eve of its reopening, it causes ripple effects across the town.

Most of the book is told from David Almerin Ames’ perspective as when he’s old and looking back to this time in his life. There is a wide range of issues covered in the book: identity, family, marriage, racism, war (Vietnam) and what it means to be man.

This is a quiet, slow-moving book. Even though a lot does happen in the book, it’s not about the action or the pace, it’s about the slow build of the characters, who they are, how they interact, how their lives intersect to both help each other and cause harm to each other.

The characters are well developed and complex and memorable. The setting is vivid and most definitely a part of the story, too. Absolutely magnificent. I have enjoyed every moment I spent with this book.

with gratitude to netgalley and Haper Audio for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Daily Year of Yes

Year of Yes – 18

Some days I find I have nothing to say when the evening comes and it’s time for me to post and then other days I have so much to say, I can’t pick which to focus on. Today was one of the latter.

I have been lucky enough to have an advanced reader’s copy of an upcoming book by @authorlisagenova titled “Remember” which is a nonfiction book about memory. This book is incredibly readable and absolutely fascinating and practically helpful in a million ways. But here’s the part that stopped me today:

“Because we remember what we pay attention to, we might want to be mindful about what we focus on. Optimists pay attention to positive experiences, and so these events are consolidated into memory. If you’re depressed, you’re less likely to consolidate happy events or pleasant experiences into memory because happiness doesn’t jibe with your mood. You don’t even notice the sunnier moments when you’re only focusing on the dark clouds. You find what you look for. If you look for magic every day, if you pay attention to the moments of joy and awe, you can then capture these moments and consolidate them into memory. Over time, your life’s narrative will be populated with memories that make you smile.”

This is exactly why I pick a word of the year because it helps me remember what to pay attention to and why I picked YES this year so I can pay attention to the good stuff more and so I can create my life’s narrative to be positive. I firmly believe this is a tangible way I can absolutely train myself and my brain to be more optimistic.

So here’s to saying yes to paying attention to the GOOD stuff because every single day has good stuff and because you remember what you pay attention to!

There are so many other gems in the book and I can talk about it for days. It comes out in March and it’s highly recommended.

#yearofyes #karenikayearofyes #onelittleword

Say Yes – 2

  • Weekly Intention: Ok the intention of this week is to go slow slow slow. Sometimes when i am anxious, I have the tendency to go fast, i purposefully would like to invert that and go slow instead.
  • This month’s intention is: January: Yes to Baby Steps: Start small. Make a plan for the steps you want to take and give yourself a lot of grace. Take a handful of steps. You got this. still working on this. took some steps last week, would like to plan some more for this week.
  • One way I will leap this week:  I have a big scary meeting on Wednesday day, showing up there will be a leap for me.
  • One boundary I will set this week:  i plan to change my whole calendar this week.
  • One area where I will go deeper this week:  hmm still trying to figure out my 100day project.
  • What do I need to sit with this week?  my calendar, my goals for 2021, and journaling.
  • I am looking forward to: the 4-day week, it’s lovely to have a day off.
  • Focus on Core Desired Feelings (lighter, kinder, enough, magic, wild): I am finding that i feel stressed and thus not as kind. so i want to be able to make a call on what matters most each week and then let go of all else.
  • This week’s challenges: Wednesday will be a challenging day. I just need to make it through Wednesday.
  • Top Goals: 
    • Work:  do the preso well. figure out new schedule. talk to D about it.
    • Personal:  start journaling.
    • Family: i would like to do one thing with each kid this week.
  • This week, I want to remember: Things are going to be okay. Even if hiccups happen in the review, I will be fine.

Daily Year of Yes

Year of Yes – 17

My sweet husband bought me these bath bombs back in September for my birthday, I thought it was time to put them to use.

I am usually the kind of person who does things from the inside out, as in I think about what I want, figure out how to make it happen, and then create structures and make plans and then I go do it. I don’t need external accountability or any other outside factor.

But, lately I feel tired and apathetic and I can’t even get myself to journal which is how I’d usually do the looking within to come up with the list of what I want.

Which is why I’ve been defaulting to the thing I love that is easy: reading. I am not mad at myself, I am also healing and doing 10-20 minutes of exercise daily, I am slowly working on my storytelling and of course I am working a lot.

But I still know that when I spend more time really connecting with what I want/love and then work towards doing it more, I am always happier. Always.

So I think, at this moment, I need some of that external accountability. Some outside in structures to help me get going enough to get past my inertia. For me, this will be a combination of some classes, picking a few people to help me feel accountable, and keeping track of how things are going. I will write some plans down tomorrow and then set a 10-day goal to just move forward and not question things. Non-negotiable. Then I can step back and evaluate.

Here’s to hoping it starts the positive cycle.

Yes to doing what it takes. Yes to finding what works. Yes to both accepting what is with grace and still knowing I can do more to create the life I want.

#yearofyes #karenikayearofyes

Weekly Reflection 2021 – 2

us laughing
  • The Best Part of this Week: This was a tough week. The best part of the week was taking a walk with Jake in the middle of the day on Thursday. It was sunny and beautiful.
  • I celebrate: being bold and asking for what i wanted this week.
  • I am grateful for: my hairdresser who comes to my backyard to make sure we can both be safer.
  • This week, I exercised: i did daily peloton classes: 3 arms, 3 strength and one stretching class. I am at around 90% with the sciatica so I am hoping to re-start the bike this or next week, slowly.
  • This week, I said yes to: i tried my best to give myself grace this week. the schedule was quite hectic.
  • I said no to: working late into the night to keep up with my email.
  • I honored my values (love, learn, peace, service, gratitude): I am trying but I will be honest that this week was low on some of these values.
  • Top Goals Review: 
    • Work: i did talk to L, made a decision and the preso is ready to go. talk to L, make a decision on presentation, prep for presentation
    • Personal:  I have not started journaling 🙁
    • Family: I did support the kids as they started their first real week.
  • My mood this week was: hectic
  • I am proud of: the amount of work I got done this week, while not dropping the ball too much on other todos.
  • I release: the emails i didn’t read, the people i disappointed, the times I yelled.
  • Here’s what I learned this week: that my current work calendar is not sustainable.

Daily Year of Yes

Year of Yes – 16

Family photo day today. We used to take photos every weekend for the last 8-9 years but have shifted to monthly photos in the last year. These photos are still some of my very favorite memories form all of our years. This particular tradition also helped me get over my ‘i don’t like to be in pictures’ thing. I want to make sure that when I am not around anymore, there are thousands of photos of me for my kids to share with their kids. For all the years before this tradition began, I had almost no photos of myself since I am the official family photographer.

Yes to finding creative ways to get around my hangups. Yes to doing it anyway. So much of life, for me, is being scared, being anxious, being uncomfortable and doing it anyway!


Daily Year of Yes

Year of Yes – 15

And here we are, it’s finally Friday. This week decidedly felt like seven weeks long so I am grateful that we’re starting a long weekend. I certainly need it.

Here are some things I’m saying yes to right now:

– Yes to slowing down to let my body heal – I have been on medication for over 15 days now and my sciatica is finally starting to dissipate. I resisted the medication and time away from exercise but I’m admitting that I needed it and should have done it much sooner. If exercise and health is a lifestyle and not a sprint, taking time to heal is necessary and not an inconvenience.

– Yes to friendship and connection. I am so grateful for the few deep friendships I have in my life and for making the time to connect. I am pretty introverted and pretty happy alone but these friendships have been meaningful and honest and kind and I am so grateful for them. Yes to making time for deep connection.

– Yes to being here for it all. There’s a lot going on right now. With the world, with America, with work, with school and with life. And I am here for it all. I am listening, learning, leaning in and taking it all one day at a time.

So here we are. Here’s to a weekend of rest and filling my cup back up. Next week promises to be a doozy too.


Daily Year of Yes

Year of Yes – 14

Because we were both planning to work late tonight, my sweet husband came home in the middle of the day. The original plan was for us to have lunch together but I decided what would help me the most was to take a walk during that time instead.

So we took an hour-long walk and chatted. It was a warm day here and the sun was shining and it was the very best way to spend an hour in the middle of my day.

Yes to connecting with people I love and yes to being outside more. Always yes to sunshine and walking.


Daily Year of Yes

Year of Yes – 13

Are we really only 13 days into this year? How is that even possible? All those posts from early last week where things were calm and quiet are moot now. This week has been hectic, intense and jam-packed.

I know that juggling home and work and pandemic and kids’ schedules is hard and it’s been for me, too. But I also have worked from home for ten years while my little one was 0-10 and had just barely transitioned to working from the office when covid shut our lives down.

One of the advantages of of all that time was spending not just quality but volume of time together with my kids and really connecting with who they are, their values, and the things that matter to them. As a result, I feel a deep connection with my kids and I really enjoy the privilege of getting to share so much of their lives. Of course I would prefer that they go to school and experience a more typical childhood, interacting with their cohort all day long, but if I have to be stuck at home with anyone, I am grateful to be stuck with my people.

Love them so much.

Yes to family and yes to being there for the struggles, for the minutia and for the laughter. Always for the laughter.