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Book Review: News of the World by Paulette Jiles

What does it mean to be free? What happens when “saving” someone isn’t necessarily saving that person? Paulette Jiles explores these questions, beautifully, in her book, News of the World. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels and performs the newspaper for those who want to know what’s going on, but who cannot themselves read the news. This lifestyle suits the widower, and he enjoys what he does. Then, he is asked to help return Johanna, a 10 year old girl, to her relatives. Johanna has forgotten how to speak English, and tries to run away constantly during their 400-mile journey to her relatives. 

Like Jiles’ other novels, News of the World is beautifully written. Her words almost sing on the page. Not only does the adventure that the two travelers take keep one turning the page, but the development of the characters and the relationship between Captain Kidd and Johanna also keeps readers engaged from beginning to end.

About News of the World

• Paperback: 240 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 20, 2017)

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Jill Gann

About Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, TX.

Find out more about Paulette at her website.

Book Review: Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

To leap, or not to leap: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of familial expectations and obligations, or to take arms and follow one’s own passions and dreams? In Kiss Carlo, Adriana Trigiani explores this question among others against a backdrop of a local Shakespeare theatre company. It’s 1949, and Dominic Palazzini and his three sons are doing well. Meanwhile, Dominic’s orphaned nephew is trying to find himself and break free from the just-a-job he has.  

Every time Wining Husband and I go to a book sale, we pick up books by Adriana Trigiani. The stories she tells are rich, complex, and dive deep into the psyches of her characters. Kiss Carlo is no different. If you’re looking for a great summer read that will have you coming back for more (or if you’re lucky enough not to have small interrupters, read all the way through to the end in one sitting), then Kiss Carlo can fill that niche. It’s beautifully written, and it really pushes the question of what’s more important: passion and happiness or tradition and family.

About Kiss Carlo

• Hardcover: 544 pages
• Publisher: Harper (June 20, 2017)

From Adriana Trigiani, the beloved New York Times-bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife, comes an exhilarating epic novel of love, loyalty, and creativitythe story of an Italian-American family on the cusp of change.

It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia bursts with opportunity during the post-war boom. The Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph Office, owned and operated by Dominic Palazzini and his three sons, is flourishing: business is good, they’re surrounded by sympathetic wives and daughters-in-law, with grandchildren on the way. But a decades-long feud that split Dominic and his brother Mike and their once-close families sets the stage for a re-match.

Amidst the hoopla, the arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone (Dominic and his wife’s orphaned nephew) who lives and works with his Uncle Dom and his family. Nicky decides, at 30, that he wants more—more than just a job driving Car #4 and more than his longtime fiancée Peachy DePino, a bookkeeper, can offer. When he admits to his fiancée that he’s been secretly moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theater company, Nicky finds himself drawn to the stage, its colorful players and to the determined Calla Borelli, who inherited the enterprise from her father, Nicky must choose between the conventional life his family expects of him or chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes.

From the dreamy mountaintop village of Roseto Valfortore in Italy, to the vibrant streets of South Philly, to the close-knit enclave of Roseto, Pennsylvania, to New York City during the birth of the golden age of television, Kiss Carlo is a powerful, inter-generational story that celebrates the ties that bind, while staying true to oneself when all hope seems lost.

Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this novel brims with romance as long buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Trigiani’s consummate storytelling skill and her trademark wit, along with a dazzling cast of characters will enthrall readers. Once again, the author has returned to her own family garden to create an unforgettable feast. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love, and the abiding power of la famiglia.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Tim Stephenson

About Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Visit Adriana at her website: www.adrianatrigiani.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Bean Box Subscription Review

*This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on an affiliate link and making a purchase helps me to support my family at no additional cost to you.  I received a 3-month subscription to Bean Box in exchange for my honest review of the product. 

It’s really not a secret that I have a strong coffee addiction. One of the hardest things about being pregnant, other than not being able to drink wine and the 3rd trimester discomfort, is having to cut back on my coffee consumption. Even now, because I’m breastfeeding, I have to be mindful about the number of cups of java I enjoy since baby bodies are not able to metabolize caffeine. That said, I was really excited when I was offered the chance to review Bean Box in exchange for receiving a 3-month subscription to the service. 

About Bean Box

There are two main subscription options for Bean Box. You can choose to get a Bean Box sampler, which comes with four 1.8-oz roasts for each month for $18, or you can choose the coffee of the month option, which features a different 12-oz bag of coffee each shipment for $23 per shipment. Here’s where it gets cool: If you choose the 12-oz bag option, you can also choose how often you would like to receive your bag of coffee.  If you would like more frequent shipments, you can choose to get one bag every two weeks or you can choose to get a bag each week. Bean Box offers discounts for these options. 

I received the coffee of the month subscription option. The roasts I received were: 

  • Broadcast Coffee Roasters’ Columbia Tunia
  • Slate Coffee Roasters’ Cream and Sugar

I have one more shipment I’m looking forward to in the next couple of days. 

Tasting Coffee

Bean Box Coffee Gift GuideJust as there is with tasting wine, there is an art to tasting coffee. If you’re new to the idea of tasting coffee and thinking about the nuances of flavor, I strongly suggest reading Bean Box’s blog post: “How to Taste Coffee Like a Pro.” To taste coffee at home, we use a Capresso brand burr grinder. Using this type of grinder as opposed to other types of coffee grinders helps to preserve the beans’ oils, and thus helps to bring out the nuances of taste. We used a French press when brewing, and for tasting purposes, we kept the coffee unadulterated by milk or sugar. 

Broadcast Coffee Roasters’ Columbia Tunia

Broadcast Coffee Roasters is owned by Barry Faught. His three Seattle cafes have attracted a good bit of attention- and for good reason.  He has specially sourced his beans through travel, and takes a lighter roasting approach to preserve the unique qualities of each bean. Wining Husband and I were really impressed with their Columbia Tunia flavor that we received in the May box. I never thought I’d taste apple in coffee, but I did. This coffee had hints of crisp apple, smooth caramel, and chocolate. While we had this coffee, we didn’t need any sugar or cream – it was perfect as it was!

Slate Coffee Roasters’ Cream and Sugar

Slate Coffee Roasters is a newer Seattle coffee scene member. The family opened their business in 2012 in Ballard, Washington. Like Broadcast, Slate features single origin coffees. A visit to their coffee shop is a real treat as you can order a flight of coffee – much like you would if you were to go to a wine tasting. Like Broadcast, Slate prefers to veer on the side of the lighter roast to bring out the flavor of the beans. I’ll be honest, I normally do not like lighter roasts – but I found that I loved their Cream and Sugar roast. It was smooth and nutty. I could really taste the almond and caramel notes in the coffee, and really liked it.

I’m really looking forward to what July’s box brings, and we’ll be continuing our subscription to Bean Box. We love sampling coffees from different roasters, and it really makes for a nice treat. 

All new Bean Box subscribers receive a 10% discount on their first box when signing up for the Bean Box newsletter.

What’s your favorite coffee? Post your thoughts in the comments. 

 

 

Book Review: Strange Contagion by Lee Daniel Kravetz

Happy Independence Day! I hope you’re going out to see fireworks later. 

How do social behaviors become viral? I found Strange Contagion by Lee Daniel Kravetz to be a fascinating work exploring how it is that emotions can be passed from one individual to another. Have you ever noticed that if you’re around someone who is stressed out or who is complaining suddenly you begin to feel stressed out and you begin to complain and feel dissatisfied with the current state of affairs? I know that I have. Kravetz searches for the reasons that behaviors and emotions can be passed from one individual to another in a way that makes this book a page-turner. I find the idea of a social contagion to be absolutely fascinating (and true to my own experience), and I was unable to put this one down. 

About Strange Contagion

• Hardcover: 288 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (June 27, 2017)

Picking up where The Tipping Point leaves off, respected journalist Lee Daniel Kravetz’s Strange Contagion is a provocative look at both the science and lived experience of social contagion.

In 2009, tragedy struck the town of Palo Alto: A student from the local high school had died by suicide by stepping in front of an oncoming train. Grief-stricken, the community mourned what they thought was an isolated loss. Until, a few weeks later, it happened again. And again. And again. In six months, the high school lost five students to suicide at those train tracks.

A recent transplant to the community and a new father himself, Lee Daniel Kravetz’s experience as a science journalist kicked in: what was causing this tragedy? More important, how was it possible that a suicide cluster could develop in a community of concerned, aware, hyper-vigilant adults?

The answer? Social contagion. We all know that ideas, emotions, and actions are communicable—from mirroring someone’s posture to mimicking their speech patterns, we are all driven by unconscious motivations triggered by our environment. But when just the right physiological, psychological, and social factors come together, we get what Kravetz calls a “strange contagion:” a perfect storm of highly common social viruses that, combined, form a highly volatile condition.

Strange Contagion is simultaneously a moving account of one community’s tragedy and a rigorous investigation of social phenomenon, as Kravetz draws on research and insights from experts worldwide to unlock the mystery of how ideas spread, why they take hold, and offer thoughts on our responsibility to one another as citizens of a globally and perpetually connected world.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Lee Daniel Kravetz

Lee Daniel Kravetz has a master’s degree in counseling psychology and is a graduate of the University of Missouri–Columbia School of Journalism. He has written for Psychology Today, the Huffington Post, and the New York Times, among other publications. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and children.

Find out more about Lee at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Book Review: Soulmates by Jessica Grose

Everything happens for a reason – or does it? This is a question philosophers and theologians have debated about for a long time. On the one hand, it seems as though there is a divine order to the universe – things cannot be merely coincidental. On the other hand, things can be so random that it’s hard to believe that there’s any sort of order to the universe. Soulmates by Jessica Grose takes a sneering, biting hit at new-age spirituality in its own answer to this question. 

As a Christian who dabbled in Kabbalah, Buddhism, Wicca, and other spiritual paths, I was intrigued by the premise of the novel: A woman’s ex husband ran away with a yoga instructor after the modern wistfulness for a more peaceful existence through new age spirituality. The novel is as much of a mystery as it is a satire. It’s great fun to read, and I had a rough time putting it down. It’s a novel about how sometimes the people we think we know the best can be the people we know the least because we’ve already made up our minds about who that person is. 

About Soulmates

• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 13, 2017)

“For anyone who has ever suspected something sinister lurking behind the craze of new-age spirituality, Jessica Grose has crafted just the tale for you. With the delicious bite of satire and the page-turning satisfaction of a thriller, Soulmates is a deeply compelling, funny and sharply observed look at just how far we will go to achieve inner peace.”—Lena Dunham

A clever, timely novel about a marriage, and infidelity, the meaning of true spirituality, perception and reality from the author of Sad Desk Salad, in which a scorned ex-wife tries to puzzle out the pieces of her husband’s mysterious death at a yoga retreat and their life together.

It’s been two years since the divorce, and Dana has moved on. She’s killing it at her law firm, she’s never looked better, thanks to all those healthy meals she cooks, and she’s thrown away Ethan’s ratty old plaid recliner. She hardly thinks about her husband—ex-husband—anymore, or about how the man she’d known since college ran away to the Southwest with a yoga instructor, spouting spiritual claptrap that Dana still can’t comprehend.

But when she sees Ethan’s picture splashed across the front page of the New York Post—”Nama-Slay: Yoga Couple Found Dead in New Mexico Cave”—Dana discovers she hasn’t fully let go of Ethan or the past. The article implies that it was a murder-suicide, and Ethan’s to blame. How could the man she once loved so deeply be a killer? Restless to find answers that might help her finally to let go, Dana begins to dig into the mystery surrounding Ethan’s death. Sifting through the clues of his life, Dana finds herself back in the last years of their marriage . . . and discovers that their relationship—like Ethan’s death—wasn’t what it appeared to be.

A novel of marriage, meditation, and all the spaces in between, Soulmates is a page-turning mystery, a delicious satire of our feel-good spiritual culture, and a nuanced look at contemporary relationships by one of the sharpest writers working today.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Judith Ebenstein

About Jessica Grose

Jessica Grose is a writer and editor. She was previously a senior editor at Slate and an editor at Jezebel. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, Marie Claire, Spin, and several other publications, and on Salon.com. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

Find out more about Jessica at her website, and connect with her on Twitter.

Book Review: The Art of Fear by Kristen Ulmer

Fear can be a powerful thing. It can bring us to our knees, freeze us in our tracks, and paralyze us. It can warn us of danger – either real or imagined. Fear can also motivate us and drive us, then sabotage us right before we’re about to receive what we’ve been striving for. Fear can also be moved past and turned into a positive factor in our lives. This is what Kristen Ulmer discusses in her book, The Art of Fear

It is so important to keep fear from biting us in the back when we’re trying to do great things. For many, the fear of failure keeps them from acting on their dreams, for others, the fear of success can be a powerful demotivator. Ulmer implores us to reshape the way we think of fear – to shift our thinking from fear being a weakness to the idea that fear is, instead a natural emotion, a “curiosity.” If you’ve been struggling with fear, this book can help you to reshape the way you think about its role in your life. 

About The Art of Fear

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (June 13, 2017)

A revolutionary guide to acknowledging fear and developing the tools we need to build a healthy relationship with this confusing emotionand use it as a positive force in our lives.

We all feel fear. Yet we are often taught to ignore it, overcome it, push past it. But to what benefit?  This is the essential question that guides Kristen Ulmer’s remarkable exploration of our most misunderstood emotion in The Art of Fear.

Once recognized as the best extreme skier in the world (an honor she held for twelve years), Ulmer knows fear well. In this conversation-changing book, she argues that fear is not here to cause us problems—and that in fact, the only true issue we face with fear is our misguided reaction to it (not the fear itself).

Rebuilding our understanding of fear from the ground up, Ulmer starts by exploring why we’ve come to view it as a negative. From here, she unpacks fear and shows it to be just one of 10,000 voices that make up our reality, here to help us come alive alongside joy, love, and gratitude. Introducing a mindfulness tool called “Shift,” Ulmer teaches readers how to experience fear in a simpler, more authentic way, transforming our relationship with this emotion from that of a draining battle into one that’s in line with our true nature.

Influenced by Ulmer’s own complicated relationship with fear and her over 15 years as a mindset facilitator, The Art of Fear will reconstruct the way we react to and experience fear—empowering us to easily and permanently address the underlying cause of our fear-based problems, and setting us on course to live a happier, more expansive future.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Meaghan M. Golden

About Kristen Ulmer

Kristen Ulmer is a facilitator who draws from her tenure as the best woman extreme skier in the world for twelve years and from thousands of hours facilitating clients on the subject of fear. Her work has been featured on NPR and in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, Outside magazine, and many other publications. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Find out more about Kristen at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

Book Review: It Happens in the Hamptons by Holly Peterson

Who doesn’t love a cheesy Lifetime movie? I’m a huge fan of them myself, and sometimes I give into the guilty pleasure of following along some whacked-out tale that gives me the warm fuzzies at the end. That’s kind of how It Happens in the Hamptons by Holly Peterson is. This novel is pure guilty-pleasure reading. It’s a very quick read, perfect for sitting with by the pool this summer.  Have fun with a romp in the Hamptons, living large alongside Katie Doyle. 

About It Happens in the Hamptons

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 9, 2017)

In the Hamptons, everyday people are as complicated and fascinating as millionaires…

When Katie Doyle moves across the country to the Hamptons, she is hoping to find summer employment, new friends for her young son, and a chance to explore a new love affair with George, a dazzling investor. What she finds is a strange cocktail of classes, where society’s one-percenters vacation alongside local, hardworking people who’ve lived in the Hamptons for generations. Though she’s looking forward to her move, Katie is wary about mingling in her boyfriend’s East Coast elite circles. She soon discovers Southampton isn’t all that it seems to be on the surface—and neither are the people who live there.

As George takes Katie on a whirlwind tour of country clubs, haute couture, and lavish events, Katie is amazed to witness sudden whims becoming dire needs, extramarital affairs blossoming right and left, and people purchasing friends and loyalties like a pair of shoes. Even the middle-class townspeople maintain determined façades while maneuvering like sharks among the wealthy summer invaders.

The more Katie becomes immersed, the more she learns the stories of both the upstairs and downstairs, the upper crust and middle of the road. The combustion between classes becomes explosive as the summer tears on. Betrayals, a sexual predator, and a missing person lost in murky waves drive the reader on a racing Learjet through impossible twists and turns before landing at the shocking conclusion. When Katie meets Luke, a marine biologist and teacher, he makes her what it is she really wants as she understands the life she’s begun for herself is built on shifting Hamptons’ dunes.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Eric Strifler Photography

About Holly Peterson

Holly Peterson is the author the May 2017 social satire fiction release, It Happens in the Hamptons. In 2016, she curated an outdoor cooking book, Assouline’s Smoke and Fire: Recipes and Menus for Outdoor Entertaining. In 2014, she published The Idea of Him and of the New York Times bestseller The Manny in 2007.  She was a Contributing Editor for Newsweek, an Editor-at-Large for Talk magazine and an Emmy Award-winning Producer for ABC News, where she spent more than a decade covering everthing from trials of the century to global politics. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Town and Country, The Daily Beast, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle Decor, Departures and numerous other publications.

Find out more about Holly at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

The Teenager Graduated and Baby 4 is Here

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks involving a high school graduation AND a birth. The upswing? There is a beautiful and healthy new baby in our lives, the teenager gets to go off to college in August, and I’ll be able to enjoy a glass of wine with Wining Husband on our anniversary in a couple weeks. The downswing? Baby 4 is here due to an emergency induction.

First, the graduation. The teenager blows me away with how accomplished he is at 18. You should see the stack of medals and awards he has accumulated. I do not think it is possible to be more proud of him than I am. He’s going off to college on multiple performing art and merit scholarships in the fall. I want to eat up as much time with him as possible before he heads off. I am so glad I got to see him walk across the stage. On Monday, it didn’t look like I would be able to do that.

 

From Low Risk to a Cause for Concern

In March and April, I was hit by a nasty, nasty respiratory virus that knocked me out for a few weeks. On top of it, I had some family issues going on in the background, that evidently were enough to create a good amount of stress. I noticed at my doctors’ appointments that my blood pressure, normally in the 115/60 range, had started to creep up. I was gaining more weight than is normal for me at the end of pregnancy. I started to look for other warning signs and red flags for preeclampsia.

On Thursday, May 4th, I woke up and my feet were extremely swollen.   I put my feet up and tried to stay off of them as much as possible until my OB appointment in the afternoon. The swelling did not go down, even though I was resting. I even took a nap on my left side. We got to my appointment, and my blood pressure was the highest it had been. They collected a urine sample, and I was sent home with instructions to go right into labor and delivery should I develop a headache or visual disturbances. 

Will I Make Graduation?

I heard nothing back on Friday, so I assumed no news was good news. However, I continued to feel worse in terms of fatigue levels. Saturday we did graduation prep – we got decorations and the teenager’s graduation gifts. I’d intended to finish up any client work and an outstanding customer order over the weekend, but just heading out for that bit of activity wore me out. I felt that something was wrong, very wrong. It was more than just anxiety. I knew there was something not right. I took it easy, only because I had no choice. I couldn’t focus, and I felt like heck. On Sunday, the contractions began – but they wouldn’t get regular. I started to worry I wouldn’t make it to Tuesday’s graduation.

Late Monday afternoon, I finally heard back from my doctor’s office. It turned out I DID have protein in my urine and glucose. They wanted me to come in again the next day, Tuesday, for further evaluation.  

A Very Risky Situation

I went in. My blood pressure was very elevated, over the 140/90 threshold. I still hadn’t had a headache or vision disturbances, but I did feel really out of it. Plus, I was nauseous and having horrible heartburn. I also was having a hard time catching my breath. Just the short walk from the bed to the bathroom was wearing me out. My OB wanted me to go in for immediate induction, but she agreed that if I could pass the non-stress test that I could go to graduation and then head in for induction right afterward. I was hooked up to the monitor, but Princess Ladybug was fluttering all about and they couldn’t get a good tape on her. So, it was off for a biophysical profile ultrasound to ensure that she was safe. 30 minutes later, I was cleared to head to graduation. I was in a world of back pain, but I ate, I visited with my sister who had come in to support my teenager for graduation, and then I rested with Princess Boogie Oogie and the Chunky Monkey until it was time to head to graduation. 

Mid-graduation, my head started to hurt, and my ears started to ring. I started to feel even worse. I was very glad I was being induced soon. I watched the teenager walk across the stage, clapped, watched the closing, took pictures, scarfed down some food, dropped the small people off at their grandparents’ house, made sure the teenager got to his grad night celebration, and headed in to begin the induction. When we got in, my blood pressure was the highest it’s ever been in my life. I felt completely awful. 

19 Hours Later…

19 hours of unblocked (no epidural, no pain medication) natural except for Pitocin labor later, Princess Ladybug made her appearance. There was cord compression going on, and I tried to remain calm for the purpose of getting her into this world as quickly and safely as possible.  I was 38 weeks along, she was 6lbs 11oz and 19.75″ long. My husband cut the cord, and my sister was there for the entire birth…and yes, I was making goofy jokes and faces on a yoga ball when I was dilated to 7 cm because I was trying to remain calm and focused to get through the pain and get baby here as soon as possible. By that time, my blood pressure had returned to normal, and the headache had turned into a hunger and thirst headache. The swelling had gone down a good bit. My OB decided not to give me magnesium sulfate unless the headache persisted through eating, having some caffeine, resting, and hydrating. Baby was examined by the pediatrician – and she looked great!  

We Got to Go Home!

The next day, after the 24 hour testing for myself and Princess Ladybug, we were able to go home. Everything had returned to normal for me, and Princess Ladybug was doing great. She’s the smallest birth weight of my 4 kids.  I still have to be on the lookout for any sudden change – particularly a headache that won’t go away or blood pressure that goes up for the next 6 weeks. Moreover, because I had preeclampsia, I’m now at an elevated risk for preeclampsia should I become pregnant again and my stroke and heart attack risk have doubled. It’s really important (as if it weren’t before) for me to stay on top of my health. I’m not going to lie. I’m an emotional wreck. I’d been hoping that in a couple of years that we would try for the last baby, baby 5. Now, we’ll see what my OB says. That may be too risky to my health and that baby’s health. I have four kids who need me earthside. 

Preeclampsia Warning Signs

The thing that saved both mine and Princess Ladybug’s lives was familiarity with the warning signs of preeclampsia. I had a mild case of it that could have become much worse had I not had great medical care and raised a concern over the swelling. Here are the warning signs. Share them with the women you know. It’s also important to note that you might not feel any symptoms, hence why its so important to have regular prenatal care where your blood pressure and labs are carefully monitored.

  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher, or significantly higher than your baseline – 15 degrees for diastolic, 30 degrees for systolic).
  • Protein in your urine
  • Swelling – particularly in the face, hands, and feet
  • Headaches that do not go away with Tylenol, food, water, or rest
  • Sudden onset of nausea or vomiting after mid-pregnancy 
  • Abdominal and/or shoulder pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Weight gain of 2 or more pounds in a week
  • Vision changes including flashing lights, auras, light sensitivity or blurry vision and spots
  • Super fast and strong reflexes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety, racing pulse, mental confusion, or a sense of doom

I was lucky, as my symptoms largely disappeared during late labor and after birth. Many women are not so lucky. Preeclampsia occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period in 5-8% of pregnancies. It can progress really quickly after 20 weeks. Preeclampsia, HELLP Syndrome and eclampsia are responsible for 76,000 maternal deaths and 500,000 infant deaths every year.

You can learn more about preeclampsia and learn how you can help with research on this disorder at the Preeclampsia Foundation’s website. 

I am running behind on book reviews, client work, and customer orders at the moment. I am doing my best to work through the backlog, but my health has to come first. 

I am so glad and so thankful that Princess Ladybug and I are both here in this world. 

Review of How to Be Everything by Emilie Wapnick

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of different interests. In fact, while I’ve always known I’ve wanted to be a writer, it hasn’t been easy eliminating other potential career paths. I also LOVE architecture. In another lifetime, I’d totally be an architect. Maybe I’ll go back to school and get an MFA in fiction writing…oh wait, maybe I’ll go and do a MPA and work for the city. I already have an MA in philosophy and most of a Ph.D. in the same discipline, but for a while, I toyed with the idea of getting an MFA in creative writing and social justice then getting a joint Ph.D./JD in social justice law and political theory. Yup.  I can be a bit of a hot mess when it comes to deciding what I want to be – AND I’M GROWN UP…sort of…kind of…maybe.

So when I had the opportunity to review Emilie Wapnick’s How to Be Everything, I was really excited. Maybe now I could figure out how to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do within a lifetime. I love her concept of a multipotentialite, what I need now is a strategy for making that work in my favor. The chapter on productivity was especially helpful. Since I have so many projects all the time, keeping track of them and making sure I progress on the projects waiting in the wings can be a bit daunting. 

If you’re looking for a way to make it all work, this is a handy book to have on hand. What would you do if you could figure out how to be everything? 

About How to Be Everything

• Hardcover: 240 pages
• Publisher: HarperOne (May 2, 2017)

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a familiar question we’re all asked as kids. While seemingly harmless, the question has unintended consequences. It can make you feel like you need to choose one job, one passion, one thing to be about. Guess what? You don’t.

Having a lot of different interests, projects and curiosities doesn’t make you a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none.” Your endless curiosity doesn’t mean you are broken or flaky. What you are is a multipotentialite: someone with many interests and creative pursuits. And that is actually your biggest strength.

How to Be Everything helps you channel your diverse passions and skills to work for you. Based on her popular TED talk, “Why some of us don’t have one true calling”, Emilie Wapnick flips the script on conventional career advice. Instead of suggesting that you specialize, choose a niche or accumulate 10,000 hours of practice in a single area, Wapnick provides a practical framework for building a sustainable life around ALL of your passions.
You’ll discover:
•  Why your multipotentiality is your biggest strength, especially in today’s uncertain job market.
•  How to make a living and structure your work if you have many skills and interests.
•  How to focus on multiple projects and make progress on all of them.
•  How to handle common insecurities such as the fear of not being the best, the guilt associated with losing interest in something you used to love and the challenge of explaining “what you do” to others.

Not fitting neatly into a box can be a beautiful thing. How to Be Everything teaches you how to design a life, at any age and stage of your career, that allows you to be fully you, and find the kind of work you’ll love.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Emilie Wapnick

Emilie Wapnick is a speaker, career coach, blogger, and community leader. She is the founder and creative director at Puttylike.com, where she helps multipotentialites integrate all of their interests to create dynamic, fulfilling, and fruitful careers and lives. Unable to settle on a single path, Emilie studied music, art, film production, and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University in 2011. Emilie is a TED speaker and has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, The Financial Times, The Huffington Post, and Lifehacker. Her TED talk, “Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling,” has been viewed over 3.5 million times, and has been translated into 36 languages. She has been hired as a guest speaker and workshop facilitator at universities, high schools, and organizations across the United States and internationally.

Find out more about Emilie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Book Review: My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach

No matter how great life seems, things like depression, anxiety, and nervous breakdowns can hit at any time. For Mark Lukach, and his wife, Giulia, mental illness hit after Giulia turned twenty-seven. Lukach chronicles their life with mental illness and the way that mental illness shapes a marriage. The story that Lukach tells is poignant and page-turning. I couldn’t put the book down because I had to find out what was happening with Giulia whether she got better, and how Mark and their marriage fared through all of this. 

As someone who has suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety, it was really good to read a book from the perspective of someone who has been the partner of the person struggling against mental illness. I recommend this book and hope that it helps to de-stimgatize mental illness.

About My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper Wave (May 2, 2017)

A heart-wrenching, yet hopeful, memoir of a young marriage that is redefined by mental illness and affirms the power of love.

Mark and Giulia’s life together began as a storybook romance. They fell in love at eighteen, married at twenty-four, and were living their dream life in San Francisco. When Giulia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted; the next she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe.

Eventually, Giulia fully recovered, and the couple had a son. But, soon after Jonas was born, Giulia had another breakdown, and then a third a few years after that. Pushed to the edge of the abyss, everything the couple had once taken for granted was upended.

A story of the fragility of the mind, and the tenacity of the human spirit, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is, above all, a love story that raises profound questions: How do we care for the people we love? What and who do we live for? Breathtaking in its candor, radiant with compassion, and written with dazzling lyricism, Lukach’s is an intensely personal odyssey through the harrowing years of his wife’s mental illness, anchored by an abiding devotion to family that will affirm readers’ faith in the power of love.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Mark Lukach

Mark Lukach is a teacher and freelance writer. His work has been published in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Wired, and other publications. He is currently the ninth-grade dean at the Athenian School, where he also teaches history. He lives with his wife, Giulia, and their son, Jonas, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Find out more about Mark at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Instagram.

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