Books I Read This Week 2017 – 18

I started this week with Hourglass. I don’t think I’ve ever read Dani Shapiro before and I am not sure what compelled me to pick this one but I am glad I did. I liked it. I can’t even put my finger on why. Maybe it was the honesty.

I then moved on to The Book of Polly which I had been resisting for some reason. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but in the end I think I did. I certainly didn’t feel sad that I read it. 

I had similar feelings around The Stars are Fire. I’ve read Anita Shreve before and I sort of felt she was ok but not amazing. And while I enjoyed this book, it all ended a bit too neatly for my taste and I felt flat after it was over. Meh. Still not sorry I read it.

I wanted a bit of a break so I picked up the short South and West. It might be short but it wasn’t light and I liked it but didn’t really give it the attention it deserved.

I then moved to Mindshift. I’d taken a class from Oakley before so I knew I was going to like it and I really liked it. Her class and this book are both 100% worth it. It was uplifting and practical and interesting. 

I’d been looking forward to reading American War all week so I was really glad when its turn came (I have a lot of library books checked out so I have to create a discipline around which one I can read first depending on the due dates.) I read it in one day. It was both better and not as good as I had anticipated. It was very sad. I finished it as I am writing this so I am still thinking about it so I can’t say much more yet. 

And finally, I ended the week with Option B. I am still reading it but it’s almost over. I really like it. It’s not a happy subject matter but it helps to have reminders that life is unpredictable and I am so very lucky right now. This makes it book number 97 for 2017.

I’ve also started both Storm in a Cup and For the Love, both of which I am reading slowly, in between books because I like them so much.

Books I Read this Week 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

May 2017 – Shining Means – 3

karenika.comThis card says: Shining means being vulnerable. Taking your truth and standing with pain and sorrow. Being willing to be who you are. Being willing to sit with your pain and with the pain of others. Creating the safe space for others and allowing them to create it for you. Being willing.

It’s so hard to be vulnerable. It’s hard to sit with your own pain. It’s hard to feel the pain. It’s so much easier to try to numb the pain. With sleep, with food, with exercise. With whatever your thing is. To do whatever you can to not feel it because feeling it sucks.

But I’ve learned that those feelings don’t go away. Just because you ignore them or numb them or bury them, they don’t actually disappear. Just because you don’t want to feel them it doesn’t mean that you can get rid of them.

They stay there until you work through them. At least that’s what I believe to be true. And as hard as it is to sit with your own pain, sitting with someone else’s pain is even harder. Especially if it’s someone you love. 

I always just want to make it better. I want to take their pain and put it on myself. I want to fix it. I want to make it better. I want it to go away. But just like you have to work through yours, they have to work through theirs. All you can do is sit with them. Create the space. Make it safe. And just be there. It’s so hard to just be there.

When I am shining, I can be that space for others. I sit there. I listen. I hold their hands. I sit with them in the pain but I don’t try to solve it or make it go away. This is the gift I can give them when I am the best version of myself.

Shining Means is a Monthly Project for March 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here. You can read about the start of this project here.

Nourish Me – 18


  • I read: I’ve had a full week this week. I’ve spent almost no time on Facebook and have had a lot of time reading. I haven’t surfed the internet at all. Well, I opened a lot of tabs but didn’t read any of them. It’s books all the time for me.
  • I learned: I finally signed up for and started this well-recommended class on Happiness and I’ve read several non-fiction books this week, I hope they count as learning!
  • I watched: I watched no TV this week at all. Didn’t even turn it on. Nor did I watch netflix. I did watch the awesome beer commercial but that’s all!


  • Exercise: I did one day of exercise. It was great. Let’s see if I can do more.
  • Food: I did what I had planned to do last week and just ate a lot more nutritious food this week. I had protein every morning. I ate a lot of salad. I ate some veggies. Things are getting better.
  • All the others: still doing ok on all other things. Though I’d still like to drink more water and I’d like to cut out the coffee to only when I am at work and once a week outside of that. Can I pull that off? 


  • I rested: Feeling more rested this week. Still more tired than I’d like but not terrible.
  • I connected: I did a lot of connecting all day Saturday with the parents of all the kids. Plenty of connecting at work, too.
  • I journaled: I have been writing a lot here. I think that will have to count for now.
  • I made art: I did make some art this week. I have plans to do more, so let’s see if I can pull it off.

Things are getting better very very slowly but still at least on a positive trajectory here.

Nourish Me Week 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

May 2017 – Shining Means – 2

karenika.comThis card says: Shining means apologizing. Not just saying “I’m sorry” but also meaning it. Looking a person in the eye, acknowledging the pain caused and asking for how one can make it better. Really meaning what you say and intending to make things better. You can’t shine with all that weighing you down.

I love this one. Shining is about being honest. Meaning it. It’s not about not doing wrong, it’s about owning your wrongdoing. Stepping up and saying what needs to be said. I have no problem apologizing most of the time. I don’t like to make mistakes. I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings, especially the people I love. When I do hurt them, I have no problem apologizing. But I don’t always do all the things I’ve outlined above. I don’t always suggest ways to make up for it. 

I intend to make things better but in some areas I fail more often than I’d like. I feel like some mistakes I repeat too often. Some hurts I keep re-inflicting and I would like to get better at that. I’d like to do more than “intend” to do better, I’d like to make a plan and actually take steps in order to do better. 

I also would like to be able to let go of the small things. Sometimes I find I get stuck on being right about small things and have needless arguments with people I love. I’d like to let that go. And for the people I don’t love, I’d like to let it all go. Then I can truly shine.

Shining Means is a Monthly Project for May 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here. You can read about the start of this project here.

2017 Stories – 18 – Happy Birthday Nathaniel!

Nathaniel turned a wonderful eight this week!! We started our celebrations with a big balloon and a cupcake to wake up to as we always do. 

I tried to take some fun photos as he ate his cupcake but he was too busy eating it and being mischievous.

Which is Nathaniel’s favorite thing to be.

He then got to open one present before school. This was a fidget cube we’d ordered for him months and months ago. It turned out to be a pretty popular gift.



While he was at school, I decided he needed more balloons so I went and got 8 colorful ones and waited for him at pickup with all of them. It was a hit and he was quite happy to have them!

We took some shots while we waited to pickup David.

When he came home from school, he got to open all of his other presents and have Oreo ice cream cake which was his choice (in the end he ate all the icing but none of the ice cream!)


I love this boy madly. 

Especially watching him laugh.


He got some legos, a circuit board, some other circuit board like toy, a remote-controlled car, and a book this year. He was quite delighted.

Over the weekend, we had a little party for him at a Jumping place and he was in a good mood as always!

How can you not love this boy!

Happy happy birthday little boy! Can’t believe you’re eight now!!

Stories from 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

May 2017 – Shining Means – 1

karenika.comThis month’s project is related to One Little Word. Ali asked us to write questions pertaining to our word and think about what it means. I did this last year, too, and I loved it so I decided it was another opportunity for me to reconnect with my word.

This card says: Shining means being intentional about how you are showing up in your life. Paying attention to what lights you up and what makes you shutdown. Stepping back to ensure your choices are intentional and not incremental or external. Being the best.

This is such a big part of shining for me. Being mindful and understanding myself. It’s so easy to do the next thing and not think about how little things add up to represent my life and whether I am ok with spending my life this way.

It’s also easy not to pay attention to what lights me up and what shuts me down. I light up when I am in the sun. When I have coffee with a good friend. When I am reading. When I am painting. Listening to music. Taking a walk with my family. Hugging any of my boys!

What shuts me down is being put down. Being around people who think very highly of themselves. When I let someone down. When I am not appropriately dressed for an occasion. When there’s sarcasm or irony or unkindness. When I feel unworthy or less than.

I want to ensure to fill my life with places, things and people that make me shine!

Shining Means is a Monthly Project for May 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

Living Intentionally 2017 – 18

Weekly Intention: Happy May!! Rabbit Rabbit! Well, no meetings week is over so the nights will be back to being full this week. And the days appear to be just as full. I have plans to go to work four days this week. That’s relatively uncommon for me but here we are. My intention for this week is to get through the days mindfully, slowly, and intentionally.

My other intention for this week is to figure out how I want to use my time like i mentioned yesterday. So here are some preliminary thoughts:

  • Time at work: I’d like to take the time to think about and document my learnings from the last year and then recommend and put in place best practices from what I learned. I’d also like to meet with others and listen to their learnings so I can implement them with my teams. 
  • Time at the kids’ school: I’ve learned that committing time to the kids’ school is meaningful to me. It’s a natural and meaningful way for me to meet other parents and faculty.  It shows me a side of the school I don’t otherwise get to see and it allows me to feel more connected to the school on a personal level (and not just through my kids.) I like it and plan to continue doing it. My two areas of passion and reading and math so I’ve already committed to shadowing the middle school STEM Fair lead in order to take over from her the following year. I’ve also committed to organizing snacks for MathCounts (though this is not usually my favorite type of volunteering, I am going to give it a try for a year.) and possibly co-running the Math Circles next year. I enjoyed doing Lit Club this year but it was very time consuming so I will only continue that next year if I can do it for Middle School instead. I will also volunteer at the Book Fair. This list makes me happy so far. I am a tiny bit worried about the snacks but I am sure we’ll be okay. Other than these, my plan to go to school once every two weeks for an event/talk/etc. I know this looks like a lot but I think it’s about the right amount for me, especially considering both my kids will be at the same school next year. I will take a step back and assess as I go, of course.
  •  Time with Jake: One thing that slips through the crack more often than anything else is time with Jake. Especially since we support each other so much as we take care of the kids and manage our work schedules. We don’t spend as much time together (just the two of us) as I’d like. We chat throughout the day often and send each other loving emails/notes but I still want more time together. I have two goals here, one is to carve out an hour during the week when the kids are in school so we can have breakfast/coffee together. And the other is to pick an evening where we can go on date nights every other week. If we do those two, I will feel considerable progress here.
  • Time with the kids: Time with the kids is twofold for me: fun time and teaching time. I want to spend time with each kid, working on math together. For this, I want one hour a week per kid. And then I want to have fun time with each kid individually for an hour a week, too, doing whatever they want to do. We spend a lot of time during the week doing homework, talking about school/life but these are not necessarily consistent so this is what I want to make sure we do consistently.
  • Time as a family: Here, too, I plan to keep it simple. Most of our family time is chores and/or eating and I’d like to change that. Three wishes here: 1. go hiking weekly – saturday mornings, 2. have a family night – every other week when we aren’t going on a date, 3. go back to taking our family photos weekly (consistency plays a big game, if it’s once a month, it’s much less likely to happen than if it’s every week.)
  • Time with friends: This one is a bit tricky. Friend-time directly competes with alone-time and much much much of the time alone-time wins. So I need to always remind myself that friend-time is worth it. I’d like to commit to friend time every other week. Either book club, or 1-1 time or some other social event. That’s a pretty good amount for me. Maybe I can even say something a bit more like 2 old friends and one new one each month?
  • Personal Time: And finally, me-time. Right now, I spend a lot of my me-time reading and doing puzzles and resting. I don’t want to remove any of those but I do want to reduce them and add more variety. I’d like to go back to adding exercise into my days, even if it means I sleep a tiny bit less. I think it will be a worthwhile compromise. I want to commit to 30 minutes of learning something new each week and 30 minutes to watch TED talks. 

So there we are. No time better than now, so I hope to start implementing all of these starting this week. (Except for next year’s school volunteer commitments of course.) Let’s see how it goes.

Things I want to get Done: I have a long list this week.

  • Work: Newsletters. no, really.
  • Work: give my presentation.
  • Work: document tracking.
  • Work: 2 metrics documentation+work.
  • Work: Start with YAG.
  • Vacation: Figure out Memorial Day Weekend.
  • Vacation: Book Sydney hotels (work/personal.)
  • Vacation: Book flights to Cairns. 
  • Summer: Book camps for David (and third for Nathaniel).
  • Personal: Come up with exercise plan.
  • Personal: Try out 15 mins of art.
  • Personal: Buy sneakers.
  • Family: Pickup books back from teachers.
  • Family: Take family photos.
  • Family: Go hiking.
  • Love: book date night.

This month’s intention is: May: Help others Shine: Ok now it’s others’ turn. It’s time to be the mirror to their light so it can reflect off of you. Think of ways big and small that you can help people in your life see their own light this month. Smile. Show them how amazing they are. Thank them.  Oh, I love this one. This week’s intention is to make little notes for Nathaniel’s lunch every day. He always asks for them and I never make them. Let’s see if I can pull it off!

Ways to Shine this week:

  • One: Bold: Bold plans at work. Bold plans to help out at the kid’s school. Bold plans all around this week!
  • Two: Open: Open to being flexible this week. If things don’t work out, I will come up with new plan. Adjust as needed.
  • Three: Heal/Nourish: I’ve been doing a better job eating more nourishing food. I’d like to take the time to ensure it continues. 

I am looking forward to: most of this week for some reason. getting through my todo list above! I can do this!

This week’s challenges: On the upside, no one day looks to be super-stressful this week. On the down side, a lot of trips to work, a trip to David’s school and a lot lot lot of meetings. I have some solid work (and todo list items) I’d like to get done this week and I am not sure when I can do that in between all the crazy meetings but I’d like to see if I can pull it off.

Top Goals:

  • Work: let the documentation begin!
  • Personal: exercise, can i do it?
  • Family: looking forward to setting a few routines here.

I will focus on my core desires (bold, mindful, nourish, love) by: starting some of the practices i outlined above.

This week, I will say yes to: getting stuff done!

This week, I will say no to: inertia. things are getting done this week!

I am worried that:  i won’t get work done. i will do nothing for sydney. i won’t book the camps or come up with a plan for when jake’s parents are visiting. I won’t exercise. None of the things I outlined above will actually happen. I will get tired and give up. 

This week, I want to remember: that life is a marathon and not a sprint. it’s going to be okay.

April 2017 – Fabric Sentiments – All

You can read about the start of this project here.

And here we are. Another month is over. This one was a lot of fun!

Onward to May!

Fabric Sentiments is a Monthly Project for March 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

Weekly Reflection 2017 – 17

How I shone this week: I did a really good job turning things around in my head this week and changing my perspective. I showed up, I listened, I did a relatively good job of balancing between work and home. I showed up for work, I showed up for my kiddos, I showed up even for jake a little bit!

I’ve been thinking a little about how to think differently. Evaluating things in my life. I think it’s been too long since I took stock (I know this sounds ridiculous since I take stock all the time but while I take stock of the day to day, I don’t always take stock of the big things I commit to around work, how I spend personal time, how I volunteer at the kids’ school, how i spend time with kids, how I spend time with Jake, how we spend time as a family, how I spend time with friends, etc. So my plan tomorrow is to break these down a bit and really consider how to spend my time since of course how I spend my time is how I spend my life. 

Things I wanted to get Done: 

  • I so wrapped  Nathaniel’s presents and got ready and did the party. woot!
  • No dent (went teeny tiny dent) in Sydney plans and no dent in hotels. maybe this week?
  • I totally helped David with his journal and they won best journal award, woot!
  • I booked some of the kids’ summer camps. I still have to book two for David and one for Nathaniel, but progress!
  • I did not send newsletters, boo!

I celebrate: Great support at work, Nathaniel’s birthday, David’s TTC being over and their award. Good week!

I am grateful for: my boys. so so grateful.

I nourished myself by: resting this week. I tried to sleep as much as possible and took advantage of no meeting week which meant no working at night.

Reflecting on my worries: i am working on figuring a way forward, it will likely continue to be vague but i am not ready to give up yet. nathaniel’s party was lovely. david’s team did struggle but they still did great. i was semi-unproductive all week but i am ok with that. i am working on letting go. i didn’t journal – i need to think about why- but i did eat well and give myself grace. I am not where i’ve been, i am taking steps forward.

I let go of: hanging on to things. it’s a work in progress but i am working at it.

Core Desire Check-in (bold, mindful, nourish, love):

  • bold: i have been bold all week, taking chances, trying and trying.
  • mindful: i am still mindful of what i feel and i am also mindful of how i am spending my days, my thoughts, my energy.
  • nourish: the veggies did indeed result in better nourishment for all of us!
  • love: i feel so much love for my family and life this week. so grateful to be here, now, and in this life.

What made me laugh this week: my whole family made me laugh yesterday on the way back from the museum, mostly cause I was so incredibly tired and they were giving me a hard time but we laughed and laughed.
What I tolerated this week: several trips to work and a really really long saturday!

My mood this week was: restful, thoughtful and at times worried but also grateful.
I forgive myself for: being irrational at times. i’m working on it.
What I love right now: i still love the flowers on my desk!! but also the backyard in the lovely weather.

Here’s to a wonderful week eighteen! We are now done with one third of 2017. Here’s onward to a magical two thirds.

April 2017 – Fabric Sentiments – 20

You can read about the start of this project here.

This one says: no beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart.

Fabric Sentiments is a Monthly Project for March 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

Books I Read This Week 2017 – 17

I first read The Animators. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but I did. I loved parts of it and wasn’t crazy about other parts of it. In the end, I am glad I read it. 

I then moved on to Lucky Boy knowing it was going to be a tough read and it was but I loved that the author didn’t try to make it didactic or easy and just gave us a story that was complex and gray, just like life is.

I was conflicted about reading Idaho but in the end I decided I wanted to and I am glad I did. It was another story that didn’t really resolve cleanly but I didn’t mind. I liked the layers of the story, I really liked some of the characters and I enjoyed the writing.

I am starting to sound repetitive but I also wasn’t sure about Perfect Little World. The premise sounded a bit odd and I didn’t want to read a cult story. But it was not a cult story. It was also layered, complex, messy and interesting. Not didactic. I really enjoyed it.

And finally, I ended the week with The Wanderers. It was interesting, enjoyable and worthwhile for me.

I chose not to read Word by Word for now, I also abandoned The Life Changing Magic of not Giving a F*ck.  I decided The Thousandth Floor would have to wait until the sequel is out. and Idaho this week, too. I haven’t decided if I will finish either. Let’s see. I have some books that I’ve been looking forward to in my queue so that might take precedence.

Books I Read this Week 2017 is a year-long project for 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.

April 2017 – Fabric Sentiments – 19

You can read about the start of this project here.

This one says: exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you are.

Fabric Sentiments is a Monthly Project for March 2017. You can read more about my projects for 2017 here.