Moments of Gratitude – 07

still managing to write daily, I am happy to get to do this.

Here’s week four, still able to keep up with daily gratitudes and my magic list on the weekends. 

lots of ordinary life shots here, my life is pretty small and repeated.
but i love it anyway. i love the outdoors time we take more than anything else.

Here’s to Seeing more Magic in 2019.


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

Joy of Art – 06

make time to savor all you love.

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 – 07










Another solid week of reading.  Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! 


Recursion (4.5stars):  It’s always challenging to explain a Blake Crouch novel and this one is no exception. If you’ve read Dark Matter, you have some idea what you’re expecting in this book. His books are fast-paced, “keep you on your toes and wildly confuse yourself as you try to keep track of things that are happening” books. 

Recursion is about physics, the science of the human mind, memory generation, politics, and so much more. It’s also about grief, our desire to set things right, connection, greed, and so much more. And most of all, it has character development that’s rich which is rare in books with the kind of plot and pacing his books have. 

I’ve read a bunch on quantum physics and I studied a bunch of computer science and have even taken classes on the human brain but I can’t really tell you which of his ideas in the book are possible and which are pushed well outside the realm of possibility and which are just completely made up. Partly because they are a bit mixed up together but mostly because I don’t really care. If you’re a complete stickler for accurate science, this book might frustrate you, but if you take it for what it is, a fast-paced, very entertaining, though-provoking book that uses science as its story source, then you will enjoy it thoroughly and find that not only is your mind blown during reading it but that you think about it well after you’re done. And if that’s not the sign of a good book, I don’t know what is.

thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Elsey Come Home (3.5 stars):  This quick little book started out not being able to hold my attention too much but by the time I was more than halfway through I was really invested in Elsey. There is so much suffering and so much realness and so much tenderness in this book. Marriage is hard. Being a human is hard. And while I don’t drink, I could still connect to her feeling of wanting to escape and her feelings around choosing between being a mother and being a thing you want to be (painter in this case) and being a wife. Her internal conflict is so real in this book and so easy to connect to that I couldn’t help but root for her. 

I’m glad I persevered with this one.


The Body is not an Apology (4 stars):  For the last few years, I’ve been on a journey towards trying to make peace with who I am both inside and out. As part of my word for 2019, I’ve decided to dive deeper into this journey and that means reading books that teach me to unlearn many of the messages I’ve been given (or I chose to distort) throughout my life. This spreads over many areas but none more than my body.

So even though I had not heard of Sonya Renee Taylor before picking up this novel, I knew it would be good for me. It would help change some of the messages in my head. 

And it was.

The messages I have in my head will not disappear with one good book. Years and years of conditioning and messaging doesn’t get erased in a few hundred pages. But like most journeys, it all begins with one step forward. And this was a solid step in the right direction.

I don’t think there is anyone who couldn’t benefit in some way or another from this book. It’s not about fixing your body issues, it’s not about fixing anything, in fact. It’s about learning to love yourself (I was going to write radically but that word doesn’t sit well with me and if you’re like me, I don’t want you to not read this book just because of that word.) There is so much goodness in this book. I had heard of the concept of how you’re not your thoughts from many many other books but this one brought it home for me. I get it so much more now.

If there’s an inkling of interest when you read the title of this book, then I’d say grab it, you will not be disappointed.


The Shape of a Life (4.5 stars):  I don’t usually read biographies, let alone biographies of mathematicians. But this particular book caught my attention with its description and it’s similar timeline to when my father-in-law got his PhD in Math (his PhD adviser is in fact one of the names mentioned) so, on a whim, I decided I would read it.

I am so glad I spent some time with this book. There were layers and layers of interesting stories and learnings for me. Even though there is a lot of math in the book, much of which I didn’t understand, I still deeply enjoyed reading Yau’s journey. I had never heard of this mathematician before and now I feel like I have had a window into math, or a type of math, at a certain time in history. Of course, this is all written from one person’s perspective, with one person’s biases but it was still interesting. 

In my experience, solving hard math problems takes hard work, and there’s no way around it, unless the problem is rather trivial.

I loved this because I think it encourages hard work and discourages the belief that we are born “geniuses” at math. 

Yau’s childhood and youth are a heart-wrenching read and very eye opening to me. It was incredible to see his success despite all of the hardships he (and his family) had to endure. 

There were so many opportunistic coincidences in Yau’s early life that culminated in his ability to end up in the United States (and his ability to study math vigorously) and it made me realize that we all have a lot of random coincidences in our lives and what might look like a disaster (not getting into the any schools for example) might turn out to be the thing that sets the course of your life positively (as it did for Yang.) and also that a single person can completely change the course of someone’s life. There are many who played a major role in getting Yau to where he could really thrive. Like Salaff who worked extraordinarily hard to get him into Berkeley.

“I have spent a whole day without eating and a whole night without sleeping in order to think, but it was of no use, I got nothing out of it. Thinking cannot compare with studying.”

It was quite depressing to me how incredibly political academia is. I knew this of course but as someone who has spent all her life in corporate America, with a brief stint in non profit land, it was depressing to see how academia can put all of the greed and political shenanigans to shame. All that bickering and blocking each other’s paths. What a waste of incredible mental talent. (I know there’s a lot of cooperation, too, which is also clear in the book.)

This was a really enjoyable read for me, despite (or maybe because of) being very different than my usual fare.

gratitudes to netgalley and the publisher for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Golden Child (3 stars):  This was a challenging book for me to read. I don’t want to write too much about it because it will be easy to give away the plot. But as a mother, it made me think a lot about sacrifices parents think they should make, how much parents alter the course of their kids lives, how words have power (and of course actions too.) and how some decisions are ones i will never agree with or understand. Maybe if I had read this book at another time, I might have been able to separate myself from the story enough to have some sort of literary criticism on this story. But I am not able to do that at the moment. Some books just come at the wrong time (for a reader) and this was one of those cases for me.


Lie With Me (4 stars): This quiet, small, and beautiful novel takes place over decades of two characters’ lives. The story is told from the perspective of one of them when they were teenagers and then again a few decades later and then again about ten years after that. This not a plot-rich story. It’s not about what happens but it’s about youth, identity, and love.

It’s about connection and how brief but powerful connections can (and do) have lasting impact on our lives. I originally wanted to read this book because I thought it might be like Call Me By Your Name which I loved. And parts of this story might have similarities to that story but to me the two felt very different. 

The prose in this novel is very sparse, very clean. It’s so stark that the emotions come to the surface that much more. I have never read Besson before and it sounds like he is a famous writer and this might be his style. At first, I found it jarring but, over time, I really appreciated the space it provided for me.

This is not a happy story. In fact, I would say it’s a really sad story but it’s not presented in a way that makes you feel the sadness on the surface like some melodramatic books do. It’s subtle and quiet and so the sadness I felt was deeper and quieter. 

Overall, it was a really beautiful story and I am excited to have discovered a new-to-me author. I am looking forward to reading more of his books.

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.


Here and Now and Then (3 stars):  This book took me a while to get into. I listened to it on audio and decided that the narration wasn’t good. I also felt like I couldn’t get interested in any of the characters. There wasn’t enough character development or depth to make it so I cared about any of them. I felt like each character had 1-2 token things about them sprinkled in to make them “interesting” but there was no real depth. Which meant I didn’t end up caring about them enough. 

The plot is very unusual and maybe for a lot of people that’s enough but that usually isn’t enough for me and this book was no exception. By the end, I was a bit more interested and I am not sorry I read it but I feel there was more opportunity here for the author to develop the characters further and make this story deeper.


And there we go, a really solid week of reading. Here’s to another fantastic 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!

Stories from 2019 – 07

This story is about back to school night for my younger son who is in 4th grade. I always love capturing back to school nights because they are such a moment-in-time experience and will change so drastically over the years.

Here are two more stories from my 2018 album. The content for these comes from the “learn” kit. 

This one is about the climbing adventure we took for my husband’s birthday. He’s a huge rock climber so we all went outdoors and the kids and he climbed while I sat and watched them and took photos.

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 – 07

Weekly Intention:  This is a full week of work. My first in a while. And the kids’ too. They are off the following week and I will also try to take the time off so this week my intention is to close the loop on some of the things I have been dragging my feet on so we can be ready to go first thing when I get back. My intention this week is also to really take time to check in with myself, figure out my feelings (especially around work) and communicate with my manager (and myself.)

This month’s intention is: Works like Magic:  This is your month to get things done. Step it up a notch at work. Step it up at home. Take the steps you’ve been meaning to take. Book those vacations, classes, etc, make plans. I’ve made no progress on next week, spring break, Nathaniel’s birthday trip, summer vacation, or the taxes. But I’ve paid for 2019-2020 tuition and we’ve had David’s birthday so we’re doing things even if last minute. Maybe I can use a bit of my time off to move some of these forward.

One way I will show up this week:  i will be more centered and play more of a facilitator role, hold on to my opinions less firmly.

One magic I will make this week: planning our winter vacation might be magic.

This week, I will pay attention to: what i am feeling about work and how to communicate my needs better.

This week, I will be kinder to: myself. i need it.

This week, I will focus on pleasing: my manager by getting some things ready to go.

One new thing I will learn this week: let’s just focus on getting clear around my feelings this week.

I am looking forward to:  friday i guess since i will then have some time off.

This week’s challenges: tuesday is challenging with having to go to the kids’ school at night and then again wednesday morning.

Top Goals: 

  • Work: plans for march, prep for monthly, email 2.
  • Personal: keep up with journaling + art + yoga, pushups, gym.
  • Family:  david ML,  math with nathaniel. cook for Jake. family photos and celebrations. go on at least one adventure.

I will focus on my values:

  • Love:  love for my job maybe. find my path to it.
  • Learn: about what’s really getting to me.
  • Peace: peace with where i am now.
  • Service:  to my work for our todo list and then to my family for booking a hotel.
  • Gratitude: gratitude being able to pay one more year of tuition. 

This week, I want to remember:  that feeling my feelings is important. time with family is important. there will be time to read books in the future.


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

Weekly Reflection 2019 – 06

Magic I Saw this Week: I will say that I’ve been feeling off and frustrated and disgruntled. It’s hard for me to put my finger on why but I can tell the sentiment is there the whole time. So I am hoping to work on it soon by taking some time to fully journal and see if I can get some of the thoughts out of my head on to paper. Maybe that will help. In this state, I am not as open to seeing magic. But I was still able to see how I am helping some of my workmates tangibly. I saw the magic of David when he worked so hard on his ML and when we celebrated his 14th birthday. Magic of Nathaniel with his friends. Magic of Jake and his ability to forgive. Magic of spending time on my couch reading which is my favorite magic.

Magic I Made this Week:  I took Friday off to celebrate David’s 14th birthday. I emailed my mom, journaled, did my pushups, and yoga. I kept going even when it was really hard. I used my twinkly lights and my fire on youtube to help ground myself. I read a lot. I rested. I spent time with Nathaniel helping him with his homework and with David on his ML. We celebrated david and I made room for Jake to socialize and climb. I also did some lovely art.

Magic of Me that I explored Week: I spent time ruminating and wallowing which wasn’t great. But I also got my hair done and tried to be kind to myself.

Top Goals Review:  

  • Work: figured out a plan for release and reviews, prepped for monthly, and didn’t do japan yet.
  • Personal: kept up with journaling + did some art + daily yoga, daily pushups, went to gym twice.
  • Family:  celebrated david’s birthday,  did math with nathaniel. cooked for Jake. took family photos and did celebrations. went on a tiny adventure.

I celebrate: David turning 14! I can’t believe he’s 14!

I am grateful for: taking Friday off. and forgiveness.

This week, I exercised: I’ve done yoga every morning and I’ve also done 10 pushups a day minimum each day. I also went to body pump once, and a full yoga class at work. 

Self-care this week: Still journaling, sleeping so-so, hiking, and leaving work as early as possible to work from home as much as possible. Got my hair done. Still need to work on nutrition. 

I showed up for:  David and his birthday. We all took the day off. 

I said yes to: iterating on a graph a lot of times.

I said no to:  working on Friday.

Core Desired Feelings Check-in:

  • Embrace: i am embracing how I feel. I plan to go all out and really journal my heart out.
  • Alive: playing this awesome video game as a whole family was super awesome and made me come alive.
  • Lighter: it feels so much lighter when i work 4 days a week.
  • Kinder:  i really tried to be extra kind last monday. i’m a work in progress.
  • Surrender: i need to surrender to what is and i am really fighting it a lot.

What I tolerated this week: sadness, quiet, frustration, pain. 

My mood this week was: tired and sad and then happy.

I am proud of:  david. i am so so so proud of him and so thankful for our relationship.

I forgive myself for: everything this week. i will let it all go.

Here’s what I learned this week: i learned that i have to take time to slow down and that everything works out even if i have to do it last minute. i don’t have to stress.

What I love right now:  i love that i am making so much time to read.


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

Moments of Gratitude – 06

Love the variety this week with some outdoor adventures and some work stuff and some home.

Here’s week four, still able to keep up with daily gratitudes and my magic list on the weekends. 

Loved this book. Loved going walking. Love Nathaniel’s dance.
Love the ranunculus. Love my friend’s book launch. Love the weekend photos 🙂

Here’s to Seeing more Magic in 2019.


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

Joy of Art – 05

This week I wanted to share a piece of art I did thanks to a new book coming out called DIY Watercolor Flowers.

I am always obsessed with being able to draw and paint flowers. I love them so much in real life that I always try to capture them in my art and can never really do them justice. 

Boudon’s book has three main sections: Basic Techniques, Plant Directory and Flower Compositions. The first section gives you watercolor techniques: how to overlay, how to create transparent layers, how to blend, how to contrast, etc. She also reviews brushes, papers, paint of course. 

Then the plant directory has: roses, peonies, carnations, dahlias, anemones, poppies, and foliage.  She has small detail flowers, too. All of the steps are simple (well they look simple and of course they take a lot of practice to master.) and relatively easy to follow.

The last section puts it all together with some lovely compositions. Frames, circlets, bouquets, patters, streamers, etc. This was my favorite section of course. There are step by steps but not as many as I tend to crave. Having said that, if you practice all the plants in the directory, I have no doubt you can get these bouquets. 

Overall this is a lovely book for people who want to start painting flowers. It’s not super advanced but it will get you started on painting flowers in no time!

i had to put my own spin on it of course. It says Be open and willing to try new things. It’s how you learn.

thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy. all opinions are mine. 


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 – 06










Another solid week of reading.  Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! 


The 4 Habit of Joy-Filled Marriages (3.5stars):  I’m a firm believer that it’s easier to work on your marriage when it’s working than when it’s in trouble. It’s easier to do things to strengthen a solid base than to patch up one that’s teetering. I make a point to read these kinds of books when I am feeling like we are in a good place and feeling a lot of love towards my spouse. This way it doesn’t feel like the exercises explained in this book are coming from a place of despair but a place of love and connection.

When I saw the title of this book, it sounded like the exact thing that might be a wonderful addition to my life. I definitely have 15 minutes a day and I love the idea of a joy-filled marriage.

This is a really quick read. I finished it in one sitting. But, of course, most of the value of this book is not in the reading of it but in doing the exercises suggested in the book. Much of the science in the book wasn’t new to me and was explained in a way that felt too simplistic (though I can totally understand why the authors would choose that path, this is not a science book.) But I really liked a lot of the suggestions in the book and the perspective they added.

Joy isn’t simply a choice you make. Trying to choose joy can feel like trying to fall asleep when you have insomnia. Joy is a feeling you get when you’re happy to be with someone who’s happy to be with you.

I don’t know that I agree with all of that (I think it’s possible to experience joy when you’re alone, too.) but the idea that joy isn’t the choice but the outcome resonated with me and I’ve been noodling on it since.

Brenda was modeling for me what it looked like to keep the relationship bigger than the problem. Since then, we have tried to make that our “go-to phrase” when we get upset. It is not uncommon for one of us to say, “Let’s keep the relationship bigger than the problem.”

I really liked this idea. While it’s terribly hard to do this in the moment of a major disagreement, this idea is a great one to keep reinforcing and baking into the fabric of our marriage.

I also really liked their clear definitions around the negative emotions you feel so that you can recognize your own emotions. Naming the difference between sad, anxious, despair, shame, anger and disgust can be subtle and difficult at times and it’s not possible to address your (or others’) feelings unless you can connect with them and tell the difference.

I have learned that there is a big difference between saying “thank you” and feeling appreciation.

This, too, was a poignant sentence for me. Often times, even in a gratitude practice i do alone, it can be easy to list things from the day which isn’t always impactful. Whereas, if i sit down and close my eyes and really conjure the feeling of that moment I am listing, I can feel the contentment and joy. Appreciation is about feeling the joy, and sharing the joy.

Many of the exercises in this book are about being together, holding hands, sharing stories about your day, your past, your marriage. The exercises are simple on paper. They encourage connection both physically and emotionally (and psychologically.) and I can totally see how it completely strengthens (and adds joy) to your marriage when you do them regularly.

I will mention that this book has Christian-based religious references which wasn’t clear from the blurbs. It’s not the core of the book but there are many examples. Had I looked up previous books of the authors, I probably would have been able to guess that. I focused on the examples that resonated with me and the concepts they were highlighting.

Overall, this book is a great way to strengthen your already strong marriage. It’s also a wonderful way to start a new marriage.

thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Editor (3.5 stars):  I read and really loved Rowley’s previous book, Lily and the Octopus, so I was looking forward to reading this. I know some people are big fans of Jackie Onassis but I knew very little about her and wasn’t sure this book would be interesting enough. In fact, I had no idea she’s been an editor for many years, so I wasn’t sure if the author had made up that premise. Apparently, he did not.

While some of the color added by the Jackie bits were fun, to me, what made the book enjoyable was the story under the story (always) and in this case it’s about the relationship between the main character and his mom. It’s about family, connection, belonging.

“But I struggled my whole life with identity. To know who I really was. Why I didn’t feel connected. Why I never truly fit in, And all this time you had the answer! You could have saved me when I was spiraling and you didn’t.”

My mother nods, and it’s a long time before she speaks. “It breaks my heart to hear you say that. From the day you were born, you’ve always been more yourself than anyone I’ve ever met. I guess I felt deep down you didn’t need to know anyone else in order to know who you are.”

So much of this resonated with me. Both the feeling of lack of belonging and lack of identity and the feeling of being so much myself. I feel like both of those things can be true at the same time.

This book is quiet. It’s slow. There are a few big things that happen but it’s really not even about those things in the end. This is not a “let me read and see what happens” book. It’s a book where if you connect with the characters, you like it and if not, you might not.

I really liked it.

thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a preview copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Journey into Yourself (3.5 stars):  It seems a bit weird to be giving Eckhart Tolle anything but five stars. I like to make sure to listen to these at least a few times a year. I think the reason it’s not a five-star for me is because I’ve heard these types of thoughts/teachings several times and there wasn’t much new here for me.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t life changing the first time around and it also doesn’t mean I don’t get value out of it every single time. I read that someone said his calming voice is soothing and wonderful for them but for me, it has a bit of the opposite effect. I tend to prefer Tara Brach or Sharon Salzberg because I connect with their voices right away. Also Karen Maezen Miller. But this might be the one better suited for you. I think when you’re doing this type of work, it matters most to connect with the person so you can be more open to hearing the teachings.

I am grateful I took the time to listen to this. I am grateful for the learnings. I am grateful for the reminder that my stories are just that, my stories.


Beneath the Sugar Sky (4.5 stars):  Another gem from Seanan McGuire. I can’t believe no one recommended these books to me in the last few years. They are absolutely amazing. The detail and creativity in each book is only overshadowed by the variety in her characters who are all so unique and so layered and delightful. And the dialogue is exceptional and observant. These tiny books pack so much.

I have only one more to go which is due at the library in a week and I am almost sad to start it because then I will not get to fall into one of McGuire’s worlds until the next one is out.

This story, like the second one, does not require you to have read the first in the series. More than a series I’d say these are companion books. They can be completely stand alone but if you’ve read the first one, there are a few repeat characters, making the experience deeper and more delightful.

It’s such a joy to find books like these.


So Lucky (3.5 stars):  (I don’t why 1-5 never seems enough for me that I have to give half points!)

This was a very interesting read. It reads like a memoir when it’s fiction. Even after reading it, I am not sure if parts of it are true vs made up. I guess it doesn’t matter. It reads like a raw memoir of a woman recently diagnosed by MS.

I have an ex-boyfriend who has MS so I was curious to see what the author wrote about it. While there are some bits about MS itself, the book, was so much more. It was about helplessness, anger, frustration and all the feelings you feel when your life starts on a negative spiral and doesn’t seem to let up. There are so many simultaneous horrible things in this character’s life. I don’t want to ruin any of the plot but it’s just one bad news after another. And then she tries to fight it all and that ends up backfiring on her.

And she can’t rely on anyone really. Not her loved ones, not people who are supposed to protect us. Not her own body (or mind.)

I love that the emotion in this book is real. It’s not sugar-coated. It’s not fake. It does choose your empathy over the character’s realness. It gives it all to you raw and in abundance. It’s hard to read because you’re so uncomfortable with it all. But that’s the point. (or so i assume.)

I’m glad it was a short novel, I am not sure I could have taken it if it were twice as long. But I am also glad I read it.


Our Life in a Day (4 stars): I don’t know why I thought this was going to be a cute story with cute little bits. It wasn’t. Maybe the “game” concept threw me off from the beginning and I had expectations that it would be light and sweet.

So I think it’s important to make it clear that this is not a light book. In fact, I’d say the opposite, there are several heavy subject matter in these pages. I want to give trigger warnings but I can’t really do it without giving away some of the plot so I will refrain. Just make sure you’re going in with the expectation that there is serious, heavy, difficult topics discussed in this story.

Now that that’s out of the way, this book wasn’t a quick/easy read for me despite the fact that it’s a small book. Maybe it was partly the subject matter, and the jumping back and forth in time due to the nature of the “game”, but I think it also was that I didn’t feel invested in the characters and their relationship.

Ordinarily, I love character novels. I don’t need a plot to make me happy, but I do need rich, layered characters and we had some of that here. The characters were real and flawed but since most of the stories are from Tom’s perspective, we get a lot more of the depth of his feelings than Esme’s. And even though we do learn a bunch about her (and she’s definitely not 2-dimensional) she’s not as rich as I would have liked.

I loved the honesty of the story. The mental health issues weren’t glossed over (for the most part, some of Esme’s pain is definitely not dealt with in as much detail since these are Tom’s stories.)

‘Me too,’ she said, shifting slightly closer to him, ‘But you’ve got to remember that it’s not just about today. It’s the whole year we’re celebrating. It’s always dangerous to plan these things too carefully.

I loved this part. I’ve been guilty of focusing too hard on an anniversary, a new year’s eve, a moment in time and then having so much ride on that moment. It’s so important to have all that in context.

He knew as he was doing it that he was making up a different version of his life. The one he wanted people to see when they looked at him and Esme. Not the actual one they were living. Complete with all its unhappiness, secrecy, and heartbreak.

This made my heart break. Don’t we all know how this feels sometimes? The way things look. The way we try to make things look. It’s important to remember this when looking at others too. How they are also trying to do this.

Most of this book felt raw, real, true. It didn’t shy away from the hard things. It didn’t sugarcoat how hard it is to live with mental health issues, how hard it is to be in a relationship, how flawed we humans are. It’s rare to see a book like this. I almost wish the “gimmick” wasn’t there because, for me, it took away from the depth of this story a bit.

thank you to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy in return for an honest review.


In An Absent Dream (4 stars):  I don’t think I’ve ever read a series quite like this before. This is not exactly a series. Book one gives an overview of a place and an overarching idea and then each of the books go down deeper into the characters/worlds that book one implies. This could theoretically go on forever (I hope it does!)

This particular book is Lundy’s story. As a book reader, it was one of my favorites. I loved her, I loved the deep dive into fair value. There is so much ache in this story. There’s so much depth. That’s what’s so unique about these books: there’s so much depth in both the imagination and the ideation. The philosophy behind each place and the richness of description, the depth of character building. Each of these are exquisite and well-crafted.

I have loved every single one of these books and I cannot wait to read more. I hope the author keeps giving us more and more of these wonderful children and their worlds.


I Owe You One (4.5 stars):  Loved this book! I haven’t always been a Sophie Kinsella reader but I’ve read her on and off for the last five years or so and I like her quirky but real characters. It’s important for you to know what you’re signing up for when you read her books. These are fun, sweet books and if you go in with a different expectation, they will disappoint or frustrate you. I find that there are moments where her books are just right for me.

I like the windy plots that you know are going to end well. I like that she drives you mad with “why is the character doing that?!” but deep down you know the character is just being human and it’s hard to be a human.

Her characters grow as you read the book and you fall in love with them piece by piece and root for them even as they drive you mad. And then when the book is finished, you feel sad knowing you will not get more of those characters.

I think this book was exactly what I needed right now. It’s light, it’s sweet, it’s like a nice, warm hug that made me smile.


And there we go, a really solid week of reading. Here’s to another fantastic 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!

Stories from 2019 – 06

This story is about my kids running. My kids don’t do a lot of sports so I really like seeing the few times that they do it. And I am really glad I captured this story.

Here are two more stories from my 2018 album. The content for these mostly comes from the “learn” kit .

This one is about a work event that I was helping plan and I learned so so much from my colleague Martha who’s planned these before.  It was long, stressful but a big growth experience.

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 – 06

Weekly Intention:  This week I don’t get to work from home two days but I will be taking Friday off due to David’s birthday (14!) and I have a hair appointment on Monday which I am excited about. So the rest of the time I will plan to be present. I will also plan to carve 1 hour daily to catch up so that I don’t have to do all my work over the weekend which I’ve been doing a lot of lately. Not sure how to make that happen but I will be conscious about it and see if I can pull it off.

This month’s intention is: Works like Magic:  This is your month to get things done. Step it up a notch at work. Step it up at home. Take the steps you’ve been meaning to take. Book those vacations, classes, etc, make plans. Oh, man, i love how these are always perfect timing. I do indeed have to book those vacations. I need to figure out spring break, Nathaniel’s birthday trip, summer vacation, etc, etc. but I have no patience. Let’s see if I can pull it off.

One way I will show up this week:  i will be more open this week. especially where i find myself closing down.

One magic I will make this week: let’s see what magic i can pull off for David’s birthday

This week, I will pay attention to: how to make my work schedule a bit smoother.

This week, I will be kinder to: my husband. i love him so.

This week, I will focus on pleasing: hmmm how about our schedule by actually booking some trips?

One new thing I will learn this week: still not doing the online class. meh. maybe i just give up on that and pick something else.

I am looking forward to:  david’s birthday.

This week’s challenges: figuring out some space for taking time to catch up daily.

Top Goals: 

  • Work: figure out release and reviews, prep for monthly, and japan.
  • Personal: keep up with journaling + art + yoga, pushups, gym.
  • Family:  david birthday,  math with nathaniel. cook for Jake. family photos and celebrations. go on at least one adventure.

I will focus on my values:

  • Love:  love for my son who is turning 14!!
  • Learn: about the work schedule and what’s holding me back from putting a stake on the ground for the summer.
  • Peace: peace with going at the pace i need to.
  • Service:  hmm service to david this week for his friends and birthday get together.
  • Gratitude: gratitude for having all the support around me that i have. 

This week, I want to remember:  that things will work out, meetings will get scheduled, vacations will get booked, life will be ok. It always gets done in the end.


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

Weekly Reflection 2019 – 05

Magic I Saw this Week:  I had a few different colleagues that were very kind to me this week. I work on some of the diversity and inclusion efforts in my organization and I am always so grateful and excited to work with some of the best people. We went to parent conferences this week and I saw both my kids taking time to reflect on the first semester and how they made progress and what areas they’d like to work on and it’s really magical to experience self-reflection like that. I saw some magical sunrises this week. I mean all-sky completely-orange ones. Stunning. I saw my husband being kind and loving and patient and generous.  

Magic I Made this Week:  I took meetings from home two days this week. I saved commuting and got more done in the process.  I took time to draw and time to journal. We hiked together as a family and went climbing together as a family. I went to the gym at work, too, and did yoga and pushups daily. I wrote to my mom, I used my twinkly lights and my fire on youtube to help ground myself. I read a lot. I rested. I spent time with Nathaniel helping him with his homework and with David brainstorming ideas. We went to the kids school for conferences. We took time for each other this week.  

Magic of Me that I explored Week: I read a great book this week called Your Body is not an Apology. I think I need to make a list of books like this that I have to keep reading to educate myself.

Top Goals Review:  

  • Work: I tried to communicate release and reviews but alas we’re doing one more round, did not get to prep for monthly, but did get alignment a bit better. didn’t do japan. must do better here.
    Personal: keep up with journaling all but friday + did art + yoga, pushups, and went to gym.
    Family: didn’t do physics with david, we’re taking a break, did a bit of math with nathaniel, but not much. cooked for Jake a few times. did family photos and celebrations. went on an adventure at the school.

I celebrate: wonderful parent-teacher conferences

I am grateful for: getting to work from home Thursday and Friday, especially since it was raining on Friday.

This week, I exercised: I’ve done yoga every morning and I’ve also done 10 pushups a day minimum each day. I also went to body pump two times, and another yoga class at work. 

Self-care this week: Still journaling, sleeping reasonably well, hiking, and leaving work as early as possible to work from home as much as possible. Still need to work on nutrition. 

I showed up for:  Nathaniel for his writing homework this week.

I said yes to: not drinking tea after 3pm so . i can sleep better.

I said no to:  nothing specific comes to mind for this week.

Core Desired Feelings Check-in:

  • Embrace: i am embracing the reality of life. i feel like the more i push against things, the more i get frustrated so I am trying to learn to move with and not against.
  • Alive: climbing, hiking and being outdoors in general makes me feel really alive.
  • Lighter: not much here this week except the drawing, that helps the most at the moment and jake’s hugs.
  • Kinder: trying really hard here and sometimes failing more than i’d like.
  • Surrender: i need to surrender to what is a bit more. surrender to the fact that people are who they are and i am who i am. 

What I tolerated this week: indecision. other people’s. drives me a bit mad.

My mood this week was: tired and frustrated a bit.

I am proud of:  going climbing.

I forgive myself for: getting impatient and tired. and triggering with certain people, at least i am noticing it.

Here’s what I learned this week: i learned that i am feeling resentful and angry and i need to make peace with this before i can move on and really thrive. i would like to figure out how to reflect on what’s going on and work on how to make it better.

What I love right now:  i am loving the relatively quiet fridays, the balance of work, personal and family time.


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