Tag: booksbymarieforce

July in Review: Reading, meditation, & spirituality goals on track

So, we’re in August—which means we’re now over halfway through 2022. When we think about how much ‘time’ is left in the year, we can look at it as: five months; or 153 days; roughly 21.9 weeks; or 3,672 hours.

I’d like to ask again–whoever is playing with the voodoo doll for the year—please put it down…

While the year isn’t totally mellowing, I think things are ‘slowing down’…though to be truthful, I’ve been staying away from the news for the most part this past month.

I’m still pissed about the supreme court overturning Roe v Wade towards the end of June…stating that the states should be allowed to dictate a women’s health…FYI: there is the separation of church and state (not to mention freedom of religion) within the Constitution for a damn reason.

While the anxiety has been acting up—I’ve been getting better at meditating at night (soothing pod meditations help), and am working on catching the imposter syndrome/inner critic as it pops its head out to yell…

I will mention again, that it is time to end the filibuster, expand the Supreme Court, enact term limits for both the Supreme Court and Congress, and finally codify women’s health care and gun control into law.

It also seems that the US ha fallen into yet another recession—which is going to make finding a job a little more difficult (but I need to find something so that I can start really paying down the damn credit cards that I’ve overused the past eight months).

In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘June in Review’ on July 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 89.3 million cases and now as of August 1st —we have reached just a little under 93.1 million cases (an increase of a about 3.8 million cases). Numbers are going back up—in part to the different variants of the omicron sub-strain of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

I will probably getting my booster shot within a couple of weeks—only because I plan on possibly trying to find something on campus (in terms of potential part-work).

As I alluded to last month, I’m going to focus on my strengths and values moving forward this summer: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths).

So before setting goals for August (and possibly the rest of the year), its time to look back at the goals I set for July and see how I did with each of them. The goals for July included:

  1. 135-155,000 steps
  2. At least one walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books (having at least one mini book review written and published)
  5. Recommit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least sixteen days)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  9. Writing, writing, and more writing

So how did I do with each of them?

135-155,000 steps:

I missed the minimum goal by about 5,000 steps. I only managed to get in 130,460 steps during July. It was an extremely hot month, and I only managed to do a single partial walk up at Boomer Lake.

While there were weekly walks up to the corner store to get the weekend newspaper–majority of the week I was only averaging about 3,000 steps per day.

One walk at Boomer Lake, and five to ten minutes of intentional movement:

I managed a partial walk up at Boomer Lake last week. The temperatures were usually in the upper 70s/low 80s by the time I’d normally be walking on the weekends. When you add in the humidity and total sun—I decided not to risk heat stroke/illness by walking.

Finishing at least one non-fiction book:

I finished the following:

  1. Dinosaurs Rediscovered: The Scientific Revolution in Paleontology by Michael J Benton
  2. HUSH MONEY: How one woman proved systemic racism in her workplace and kept her job by Jacquie Abram, Deborah Harris, and Delilah Harris
  3. Locked in Time: Animal Behavior unearthed in 50 extraordinary fossils by Dean R. Lomax and Robert Nicholls

Which brings my non-fiction reading to ten books so far for 2022. If I want meet the ‘original’ goal I set of 24 books read in 2022, that means I need to basically read three non-fiction books a month for the rest of the year.

Read at least two-to-four fiction books (having at least one mini book review written and published):

I finished:

  1. Along Came You (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #3) by Claudia Buroga
  2. Grace Under Fire (Buchanan/Renard/MacKeena #14) by Julie Garwood
  3. Resilience After Dark (Gansett Island #25) by Marie Force (Book review written)
  4. Love Under Two Architects (Lusty, Texas #46) by Cara Covington

I think I was also rereading various books by Julie Garwood and Marie Force to get ready for the latest in both of their series.

Which brings me to 67 total new fiction books read this year so far…and considering how many I’ve bought hut haven’t read yet.I could probably triple this number if I didn’t have various other things to also be doing during the day.

Recommit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (goal is at least 16 days)

I’m getting better at this…managed to do not quite two-thirds of the month with no spending (managed 20 days)…There were several large purchases this past month (including numerous e-books). The goal for August—is a single purchase from Amazon (in addition to any books pre-ordered).

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings:

Well, the time outdoors for the most part was only in the evenings when I took the dogs out. We were in the triple digits for most of July, and when its like 81F feeling like 87F at 7am—I just didn’t feel like dealing with humidity for any long walks.

I managed all three of the other goals: evening meditations (I’ve started using soothing pod meditations and can usually keep the eyes close for half if not all the practice); I did a daily oracle card drawing and wrote one thing I was grateful for each night in my journal.

I think it helped that I had all three down on my July BINGO card.

Craft time:

I managed to do a little photography and spend some time on Canva, plus doing some color-by-number on the kindle.

I should get back to the needlepoint and/or jewelry creation (would be a good use of time, when I ‘unplug’ at 8pm).

Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course:

I finished the last module for the medical writers organization (just need to do the assignments and post those within the Facebook group to possibly get the certificate of completion).

I also started watching the course on podcasting (its about seven hours), but decided its on hold until I either get the microphone and other equipment needed or download an voice recording app on the computer to play with (macs don’t come with that app preinstalled).

In addition I also started watching the course on infoprenuer: create information products and online courses on Udemy.

Writing, writing, and more writing:

In terms of writing—I’d managed to get a good amount done (there were the weekly assignments for medical news bulletin); I’m continuing with a weekly ‘post’ series on LinkedIn (molecular cloning step-by-step), and I’m starting a thoughtful Thursday post series as well.

There were only a handful of posts written for the blog though (something I’m working on changing).

I realize that with pivoting the blog to be more multi-facet (including science/medical/health topics in addition to the normal creative/reflective/hobby posts)—I may be both gaining followers and possibly losing followers (via wordpress) as well.

But that is what happens when you start trying to really figure out who you are, who your ideal ‘client’ base is, and the types of posts you’re going to be putting out.

So I did manage to get a BINGO for July…just not sure what the reward for that BINGO is going to be yet.

July BINGO Card

It was almost two BINGOS–but I haven’t changed the url of the blog, and the editorial calendar is still a work in progress.

In addition I set up a BINGO card for August as well…I’m finding it a little easier to work towards goals, if I have a way of checking them off that’s fun.

August BINGO card

You might notice that I ‘messed’ up a square–I accidentally put meditation down twice on my list of items for the August BINGO card, which meant I accidentally put it down twice on the card….

The website addy/url will probably be changed at the end of the week. I’d made a rookie mistake last month—I’d come up with several ideas for new urls, but totally forgot to see if any were already in use/claimed.

I ran a poll on LinkedIn to get some feedback, and when I decided yesterday to check on the status of the winner (plus some runner-ups), I found they were all in use. Which meant back the drawing board in terms of ideas, and another poll on LinkedIn.

Though, the ‘winner’ seems pretty obvious even this early in the duration of the poll (one week), that I will probably be updating it on Friday (August 5th).

I have it as a goal (on the August BINGO card) to create a editorial calendar for both the blog and then LinkedIn as well. This means I’ll have an idea of how often I’m posting and what posts require more ‘research’ than others (for both the blog & LinkedIn).

If I try to have a similar posting schedule of original content—I’d be driving myself crazy.

LinkedIn is going to have three ‘long’ post series (Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays), plus I do a reintroduction post on Mondays; which leaves Wednesday and the weekends.

The weekends are networking time (Saturday is the big day via different social Saturday threads), and self-care time.

Wednesday may be a random type of post (I’d been thinking Wednesday wisdoms, but it may vary).

The blog on the other hand, is where I need to be careful…

People have signed up to be notified when I post a new blog post…I’m pretty sure they don’t want to be getting a daily email stating that there is something new. Therefore I’m going to try to have most weeks be just one or two posts; though there will be some weeks when there are more (depending on books I read and write reviews over, new/full moon goals and review, month in review and so forth).

Currently I’m thinking of starting a Tuesday science blog series, working with molecular cloning and then come September work in the Friday medical topic blog series.

Some weeks may have numerous posts, other weeks only two. Plus I’m going to be working on getting the various birds’ pages up and published (so there will be a blog post here and there covering the various bird pages that are getting published).

With all that said, what are my goals for August? They will include:

  1. 125-155K steps
  2. At least one partial walk at Boomer Lake and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books (having at least one mini book review written and published)
  5. Commit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending challenge (aiming for at least 20 days; goal is 30)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development course
  9. Writing, writing and more writing

These are goals that align with various strengths/values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, and evolution/growth.

In addition—they all give me great practice at time and project management as I’m aiming for at least 85% overall completion (I’m fully acknowledging that I may not hit the step goal, and that I may also not have that much time outside—but I can work towards all the other ones).

In that regard—I will probably ‘unplug’ from the computer around 8pm or so in order to just read or possibly work on a craft project (or even brainstorm/mind-map an outline for a science topic).

So—how has your summer been progressing, and which goals are you finding it easier to keep?

Namaste….

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Review: Resilience After Dark–A Friends to Lovers Tale

Welcome back to Gansett Island!

The summer is slowly winding down, tourists are still around—but the year-round residents are eagerly waiting for things to get ‘dull’….

But let’s face it—things are never ‘dull’ on Gansett Island.

Resilience After Dark is Cindy and Jace’s story and picks up shortly after Blackout After Dark and Temptation after Dark.

Cindy is looking for a new roommate to help cover the cost of living on the island year-round, since Julia moved out…

Jace moved to the island to be closer to his sons, and now needs to find a place since the end of summer means the end of the free room at the Beachcomber…

Cindy and Jace both have ‘troubled’ pasts…but they may be the exact person the other needs…

So, grab a cold drink and a comfortable chair and sail back to Gansett Island…

In addition to seeing how Cindy and Jace’s relationship pans out, you can check in with the rest of the year-round residents…

See how Maddie and Mac are handling their crew, and how Mac handles the snip…

Are the younger Lawry brothers sticking around for the winter?

How are Jared and Lizzie handling parenthood?

To find out—pick up Resilience After Dark, now available everywhere…

I absolutely love this series, as each book is stand-alone but at the same time allows you to check-in with other characters and couples that had been featured in previous books.

So, if you haven’t checked out the Gansett Island series—here is your little nudge to do so…there are now twenty-five books to binge read, and they’re perfect for either a hot summers day read, or a cold winter days read.

Resilience after Dark is a five out of five star read

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An unplanned rant, hit two goals, plus planning for the future: May Goals in Review

So, we’re entering June—that means there are only seven months left in 2022.

I’d mentioned last month how I’d hoped that things would start to ‘mellow’ and ‘level out’—they haven’t. May wasn’t a great month—if it were possible to ‘erase’ months from the calendar, I’ve already picked the four months I want to do away with: February, April, May, and October.

Seems random doesn’t it? Well all four months have something in common: they’re months that we’ve lost dogs.

February 2018, we lost Spelunkers to cancer.

April 2015, we lost Speedbump to old age.

October 2018, we lost Piranha to old age, and Chewi to a combination of old age and cancer.

Then, this past month (May 2022) we lost Rolex to hemolytic anemia.

It was thought that her hemolytic anemia had been brought on by the allergy shot she had gotten last fall. Since she’d been on medication for over seven months and slowly being weaned with (what was thought to be no complications), everyone had their fingers crossed.

Unfortunately, her allergies acted up (we didn’t notice her licking and chewing on her leg), she gave herself a sore—which kicked in the immune system, which also triggered the immune cells against her blood cells. We had thought we’d caught it in time, but due to various issues, she didn’t beat this relapse. So I hope you’re enjoying yourself at the rainbow bridge, and watching over us.

The world is still going to hell in a hand-basket—Russia is still waging their illegal war in Ukraine, the SARS-CoV2 virus is still running around, and then there is the gun violence.

There were two mass shootings last month within a week and a half of each other. The ‘first’ was up in Buffalo, where ten people were gunned down in a supermarket—because of the color of their skin.

The ‘second’ one was just last week—and 21 people were killed: two teachers and 19 kids; plus 17 others were wounded.

Plus there were three shootings today: one at a high school in LA (students wounded), outside a Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania (one injured), and one in Tulsa OK at a hospital (four were killed plus the gunman). Not to mention that there had been another shooting in a small town outside of Tulsa earlier this week.

I know that people state that one shouldn’t be ‘political’ when trying to job search, start a freelance business, and so forth—but enough.

If people want to disagree—fine. If people don’t want to work with me—fine. If somehow these views result in not getting a job interview or offer—fine.

I know that people will say—‘but the Second Amendment’…

What is the wording of the Second Amendment?

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”

So, while it does refer to the right of individuals being able to own guns—it also states its main goal: a well-regulated militia (national guard) for the security of the state.

The amendment was needed because of the disconnection between individuals while they were drafting the constitution and debating over it—some didn’t like the idea of the government having that much ‘military’ control, while others thought it shouldn’t matter, since everyone had some type of ‘arms’ at home.

I truthfully don’t have any problem with responsible gun owners—those that have gone through the background checks, keep the weapons and ammunition locked up (separately), and so forth.

My problem—the ability for those who obviously have severe mental health issues to be able to buy weapons and ammunition and no one really blinks twice at it.

My problem—the toxic culture we live with day-to-day, that makes it ‘taboo’ for people to talk about mental health issues.

My problem—is that there are organizations and people who would rather keep lining their pockets with money, than try to resolve a pandemic that has been raging for decades.

My problem—the toxic patriarchy culture where rich, old, white men are afraid of the future—so they fan the flames of hate and misogamy to try to stay in power.

There is a good percentage of the American population that wants sensible gun laws; that want universal background checks, and the age limit raised for the purchase of weapons.

Why won’t Congress do anything? The pockets of many are being lined by the businesses that would ‘lose’ some money if those changes were put into place.

So, here is a solution: vote out every NRA-backed Congress member, plus any NRA-backed state politicians, and vote in those who support the Second Amendment—but who also support common sense gun laws, and universal health care (especially mental health).

So—please, lets have a civil discussion about universal health care (including mental health), universal background checks, closing loopholes, and ensuring that weapons don’t end up in the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.

So, that was my unintentional rant on gun violence in the United States. I know that it will take quite a while before anything worthwhile happens—but we need universal healthcare (including mental health) in this country, we need universal background checks, and ways of keeping weapons out of the hands of those that could do severe harm.

In terms of the total number of cases of the SARS-CoV2 virus within the US, when I published ‘April in Review’ on May 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 83.0 million cases and now as of May 1st —we have reached just a little over 85.9 million cases (an increase of a about 2.9 million cases). Numbers are going back up—in part to the different variants of the omicron sub-strain of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

So—please, wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and get boosted when needed.

As I alluded to last month, I’m going to focus on my strengths and values moving forward this summer: knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, evolution/transformation (values), learner, intellection, input, achiever, and deliberative (strengths).

Before trying to set my goals for June, I should look back at the goals I set for May and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for May included:

  1. At least 130-155,000 steps
  2. Starting to lift weights, do some cardio, yoga, walking, and so forth
  3. Read at least two non-fiction books
  4. Read at least two-to-five fiction books (also have written at least two mini book reviews)
  5. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course
  9. Writing, writing, and more writing

So how did I do with each of them?

At least 130-155,000 steps; I managed to actually surpass my goal step. I managed 188,937 steps for the month of May. This was in large part due to weekly walks at Boomer Lake—I think I only ‘missed’ one week walking at the lake.

In terms of the intentional movements: well, I managed weekly walks (for the most part) and since it’s summertime—it means mowing the yard at least every other week.

Since we lost Rolex, the other two dogs spend a good chunk of the day in my room with me—and I haven’t had the heart to ‘kick’ them out so that I can do a thirty-to-forty minute workout (yet).

For the non-fiction books, I’m currently reading the following:

The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myth in Greek and Roman Times by Adrienne Mayor

INNERCISE: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain’s Hidden Power by John Assaraf

I’m a little over a third of the way through each of them.

In terms of fiction books I’ve read the following:

Wildfire Griffin (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #1) by Zoe Chant

Wildfire Unicorn (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #2) by Zoe Chant

Wildfire Sea Dragon (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #3) by Zoe Chant

Wildfire Pegasus (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #4) by Zoe Chant

Wildfire Hellhound (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #5) by Zoe Chant

Wildfire Phoenix (Fire & Rescue Shifters: Wildfire Crew #6) by Zoe Chant

How Much I Want (Miami Nights #4) by Marie Force (book review written)

Etched in Honor (Aspen Pack #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan (book review written)

Faking the Game (Paradise Bay Billionaire Brothers #1) by Claudia Buroga

There may have been several other fiction books read—but they were either repeats or I haven’t finished them yet.

In terms of the no spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending challenge–I managed about a third of the month without spending some money. I of course splurged on e-books, the silly game, essentials (dog treats and so forth), and craft supplies.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings:

Time outdoors was manageable for the most part this month (there were some rainy days where I only went out briefly at night with the dogs).

The meditation/sitting quietly is still a ‘work in progress’—mainly in terms of setting a area up that I wouldn’t have to ‘take down’ as soon as I was done meditating. I managed the daily gratitude journal entries for the most part (there may have been a day or two that I didn’t do it), and I managed about two-thirds of the month in terms of the daily oracle card drawings

In terms of craft time: I managed to get in at least a weekly photography session up at Boomer Lake, and once some more black thread comes in, I’ll be starting on Rolex’s memorial tapestry. So there has been craft time—just not a ‘daily’ chunk of time.

In terms of working through personal/professional development courses: I’m also done with the LinkedIn Unlocked course that I purchased at the end of April—I think I have like two and a half modules left of it.

In terms of writing, writing, and doing some more writing: since I decided to start a 90-day content creation/research challenge, I have been doing a little bit of writing daily.

I’m working on the ‘molecular cloning’ series, in addition to researching various other topics.

I’m trying to stay ‘true’ to my strengths and values, but at the same time not fall down the rabbit hole of ‘overthinking/analysis-paralysis, and constant research’.

So, I made progress with some goals (steps, and reading), while others are still slightly ‘stagnant’ (limited spending, intentional movement, and working through various e-courses) in progress.

While it would feel ‘better’ to blame others—I know that I ‘triggered’ this month (due to stress, anxiety, and depression), and instead of rationally working through the emotions—I spent money.

I can handle the emotions (even all three at once)—but when there are multiple ‘causes’—that is when I really spiral.

Two of the main causes this month: losing Rolex, and the two mass shootings. I could also mention that there are health issues with other family members that didn’t help the situation.

But, all I can do is put one foot in front of the other and try to do a little bit better than I did yesterday.

For example—I managed about a third of May without spending money—therefore the ‘minimal’ goal for June will be twelve days (or forty percent).

I was ‘reminded’ in one of the personal/professional development groups—that when it comes to writing, having an outline is essential (especially as one moves towards a communications role and/or freelancing)—and that isn’t something that I do often. Usually, I’ll start writing and then draft an outline from the notes (even though I know that isn’t the way one should usually go about writing).

So moving forward into the last month of the first half of the year, goals for June will include:

  1. At least 130-150,000 steps
  2. At least one weekly walk at Boomer Lake, and at least five to ten minutes of intentional movement a day
  3. Finish the two non-fiction books that I started
  4. Read at least two-to-five fiction books (and write at least one mini book review)
  5. Recommit to the no spend days/no spend week/limited spending month challenge (aiming for at least twelve days)
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, and daily oracle card drawings
  7. Craft time (work on Rolex’s memorial tapestry)
  8. Working through at least one module of a personal/professional development e-course (aim to finish LinkedIn Unlocked)
  9. And of course–writing, writing, and more writing

Are the goals redundant??  Yes—but (at least for me) that is how they become habits—repeating them over and over again.

But they’re also goals that align with strengths/values: learning/knowledge, creativity, curiosity, spirituality, and evolution/growth.

What may change—how I go about achieving the goals–I’m going to spend the next couple of days also working on a multi-prong personal/professional development plan that will focus on career, finances, personal/professional development, spirituality, and hobbies/crafts.

I know what my biggest ‘sticking’ points are: being over zealous, trying to cram a months worth of ideas/goals into a few days, and then allowing the inner critic/imposter syndrome drag me back into my comfort zone when I ‘fail’ at achieving the goals.

This means I’m also going to be working on improving my time and project management skills as well—considering they’re part of each and every goal listed above.

The first step for June will be creating the rough draft of the multi-prong personal/professional development plan for say the next three-to-five years; then breaking those goals down into say one-two-three (or one-three-five) years, first set of quarterly, first set of monthly, first set of weekly, and then finally first set of daily goals.

In addition—I’m still working on figuring out my ‘brand’. I’m settling in on certain colors and fonts, I’m still attached to the blog byline (‘A little bit of this, A little bit of that’), so now I just need to figure out a good working web address for the site.

I’ll also be continuing with my 90-day content creation/research challenge. The goal is at the end of the 90 days I’ll have at least three months worth of content (maybe more, maybe a little less—since anything written and published here, or submitted to Medical News Bulletin is included on the spreadsheet), plus hopefully even more ideas of things to look into researching and creating.

So May really didn’t go as plan for the most part—but when one acknowledges the ‘triggers’, then they can slowly start reworking their responses to said triggers.

I know that when my anxiety and stress levels get too high or I start to feel a little more depressed than usual—I have a tendency to find chocolate and spend money. So, when I start to ‘auto’ buy things again—I need to pause, shut down the computer (after saving anything I’m working on), and go outside for a while (without any other electronics). That way, I’ll start creating a new ‘neural’ network for reacting to the problems.

But with just hearing about yet another shooting in the Tulsa area tonight (there was another one earlier this week)—I’m tired, and truthfully can’t think of anything else to say tonight—I’m voting out any and every political figure that is funded by the NRA (they may still win—but not with my vote), or who is against common sense gun laws…

Namaste….

No Comments BookscareerfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesMonth in Reviewno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPoliticsprofessional developmentReflections

Nico & Sofia’s Story: How Much I Want; Miami Nights #4

‘How Much I Want’, is bringing us back to Miami and the Giordino family and friends.

‘How Much I Want’ can be seen as a continuation of Nochebuena (the Miami Nights holiday story)—though you don’t necessarily have to read it before starting ‘How Much I Want’.

This is Nico & Sofia’s story.

Sofia and her son Mateo were introduced in the first book of the series ‘How Much I Feel’, and have been spotted throughout the other books as well.

Nico is the older brother to Maria, Dee, and Milo and cousin to Carmen, Domenic Jr. and others.

Nico had the reputation of a player, but was working on changing after meeting Sofia when she started working at his family’s restaurant.

Sofia has her plate full—working, taking care of her son, and finalizing her divorce.

Image (c) Wildfire Marketing Solutions

She’s noticed Nico, but at the same time has ‘sworn’ off relationships.

What happens when the relationship-shy Sofia decides to give Nico a chance?

Mix in the possibly dangerous ex, ‘lost’ family, and the rest of the Giordino family—and you have ‘How Much I Want’.

So pull up a seat, a cool beverage, and a fan; then sit back and enjoy ‘How Much I Want’. I loved the latest trip down to Miami, and I may decide to binge read the series again on the next stormy, rainy day that I’m stuck inside.

I give ‘How Much I Want’ five out five stars, and I totally loved Nico and Sofia’s story. I look forward to the next story in the series, and can’t wait to see how the family grows.

Another winner by Marie Force.

This is an ARC review and all images have been supplied by Wildfire Marketing Solutions

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Warning: Ranting and reviewing last months goals. 2022 is becoming a rocky road.

So, we’re two months into 2022, and I’m getting really tired of living through historical events. I’m hoping to ‘reset’ come March, and become a little more productive than I’ve been the past two months.

I mentioned last month, that I felt like I should treat January as the ‘tester’ month—well, if January was the ‘tester’ month, February was ‘flat’ and I need to really ‘reset’ this coming month and figure out the daily schedule—when I say I’m going to be working (researching/writing/editing, reading or doing crafts) and when I decide I’m done for the day.

So, we’re now about two weeks shy of starting year three of the pandemic (the US started shutting things down roughly mid-March 2020), and I’m scared that we’re starting to ‘normalize’ this damn virus and all its variants. In terms of the total number of cases of the virus within the US, when I published ‘January in Review’ on February 1st, I noted that we had reached a little over 76.2 million cases and now as of February 28th —we have reached a little over 80.6 million cases (an increase of a little over 4.2 million cases). Numbers are going down—I think in part to kids getting vaccinated (five and up), and others getting their booster shots.

So, why am I getting tired of living during historical events? Well, I could go on and on about the damn pandemic—but now it is the possibility of world war III that may be on the horizon that is pissing me off.

Last week Russia invaded Ukraine for absolutely no damn reason. While there have been swift sanctions against Russia, they haven’t stopped or turned around. My respect for the Ukrainian population is through the roof considering the odds against them. Also—I don’t hold anything against the general Russian population (considering the number of people who have been protesting the war, both in person and via writing). My irritation/grief/anger is towards particular individuals (whom I’m not naming—because I’m not giving them those ‘seconds’ of fame).

Somehow we need to develop both a universal anti-bullying law and a universal ‘pay/earning/savings’ cap and then work on improving education and other aspects of life.

Looking at the world—problems are arising from the huge gap in wealth between people. I truthfully don’t think that anyone needs to be a multi-billionaire or aim for becoming a trillionaire.

Also—there is no planet B, and trying to colonize Mars or the moon—that isn’t happening anytime soon. True there were plenty of sci-fi shows in the late 1990s/early 2000s that showed humans conquering space and starting colonies on far-flung planets—but that would require both belief and funding for science (two things lacking in the current day and age).

So, it would be nice if the huge companies would pay their employees above a ‘living’ wage, pay their fair share of taxes, and possibly give back to help protect the planet that we all call home.

So, in a nutshell—I’m tired of bullies (political/economical), and wondering when the next ‘disaster’ is going to strike. Therefore, before looking ahead to setting goals for March, I need to look back at the goals I set for February and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for February included:

  1. At least 120-140,000 steps
  2. Daily Intentional Movements (walking, chores, lifting weights, yoga, pilates, ect)
  3. Read at least one non-fiction book
  4. Read at least two-to-four fiction books
  5. No spend days/No-spend weeks/limited spending month
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings
  7. Daily craft time
  8. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

So how did I do with each of them?

At least 120-140,000 steps; I actually managed to reach the goal step, and actually slightly surpassed it. I managed to get 140,796 steps in during February. This included mostly walks with Chaos through the neighborhood and a short walk at Boomer Lake. We had quite a few winter days (snow/ice) that had me house bound.

Daily Intentional Movements:

There was ‘daily’ movement—though some days it was just ‘wandering’ around the house. There were eight walks with Chaos, a short walk at Boomer Lake, a couple of times shoveling the driveway & sidewalk (snow and/or ice), and doing chores. I’m still in the process of ‘developing’ a intentional movement calendar/game-board.

Reading at least one non-fiction book:

The only non-fiction book that I finished this month was ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson. I have been bouncing between several others, and also added quite a few others to the reading list as well.

Read at least two-to-four fiction books:

So, I read numerous fiction books this past month—but have only done one mini-book review:

Inked Craving (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #4) by Carrie Ann Ryan

The other books that I read this month included:

  1. Tattered Stars by Catherine Cowles
  2. Rescuing Annie (Delta Force Heroes #12) by Susan Stoker
  3. Someone Like You (Wild Widows #1) by Marie Force
  4. Cry for Me by R. Sullins
  5. The Redeeming Love series (nine books) by J.E. Parker

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month:

Didn’t do so well this month—my response to the possibility of the world ending is to spend money. Aiming to improve during the month of March—I’m planning on only a few ‘large’ orders from Amazon and the handful of e-book preorders.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings:

Time outdoors was dependent on the weather this month (as that is usually the case during the winter and/or summer months). I did manage to take Chaos for several walks, did a short walk at Boomer Lake (it was really windy that day), and spent some time outdoors.

Meditation/sitting quietly is still a work in progress. Due to elderly cats that are having ‘issues’, I’ve decided not to have a ‘permanent’ meditation area. Instead I’m in the process of designing an meditation area that can be put together when I want to meditate, and then taken apart afterwards.

I’m getting better at both daily gratitude journal entries and doing the daily oracle drawings. I only ‘missed’ a day or two of the drawings, and for the most part have managed to find something that I’m grateful for each evening.

Daily Craft time:

This is still something that I’m also working on improving. When I have ‘free-time’ I either decide to read, or possibly play the game Klondike. Though there have been a few days that I took the camera out, or did a color-by-number on the kindle. The craft goals for March include: a new cross-stitch project, and at least eight days of photography (either iPhone or actual camera).

Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course:

I watched two short Skill Share courses on mind mapping:

Mind mapping-beginner’s guide and Mind Map Mastery

These two courses were chosen because I wanted to ‘refresh’ myself on the basics of mind mapping. Since I’m in the progress of trying to both increase and ‘diversify’ my writing portfolio (via the blog, LinkedIn, volunteer writing, and other future prospects)—I want a ‘better’ way of brainstorming (instead of just a ‘vomit’ list of words and bullet points).

So the only goal that I basically ‘missed’ was the limited spending challenge goal. I realize that I’m an impulsive buyer, and when I get frustrated/irritated/scared/angry I have a habit of spending money to make myself feel better. The goal moving forward—only to play Klondike in the morning and/or late evening (and only spend money on the game possibly once a week), read at least three non-fiction books before buying more, and to limit the ‘amazon’ purchases.

This coming month that will probably be limited to three (possibly four) purchases. I have a rather large one ready to buy (numerous spirituality books, dog treats, and some more thread for cross-stitching); I will need to purchase my niece her birthday present at the end of the month, and the download of turbo tax (on the compatible laptop).

There may also be one or two more donations to groups that are giving support to Ukraine during this shit-storm that they’re enduring.

Over the past few months (and if I’m honest—the past few years), I’ve had the silent debate on how to connect all of my various social media platforms together. We’ve all been told that when it comes to job searching (or even starting our own businesses) that there are certain topics shouldn’t be touched on (unless they’re the direction you’re going in). Those topics are usually politics and religion.

We’re told to keep things ‘neutral’ or to have more than one profile (and keep one of those ‘private’ to where it can’t be spotted), on these topics. I’d thought of doing that—but have come to the realization that I’m not going to do that.

I know what I believe in (education for all, human rights for all, women’s right to chose, climate change is real, freedom of religion, and freedom to marry who ever you want—just to name a few), and I do share memes and other things that point out when others in power don’t hold up to those beliefs—and I’m no longer going to apologize for my beliefs and stances.

With that being said, what are my goals for March?

March goals will include:

  1. 130-155,000 steps; Hopefully with heading towards spring, there can be at least one walk at Boomer Lake and several walks thorugh the neighborhood with Chaos
  2. Figuring out my intentional movement calendar/board-game (aim for at least five minutes of intentional movement each day)
  3. Finish at least one non-fiction book
  4. Finish two-to-four (if not more) fiction books
  5. Recommit to the limited spending challenge
  6. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries, daily oracle card drawings, and overall commitment to improving my mental and spiritual health
  7. Craft time–complete one new cross-stitch project and at least eight days of photography (iPhone or camera)
  8. Continue working on expanding my writing portfolio
  9. Work through at least one module of a personal/professional development course

In addition to the above goals—I’m also going to work on improving my time and project management skills as well (as being better at both will help me reach the above goals and all other goals as well).

I’m also sending happy thoughts/good vibes to the people of Ukraine fighting for their country. War doesn’t solve anything, and as my grandfather (a WWII vet) stated: “War is hell”.

It seems that this decade isn’t going to be ‘smooth sailing’, and each year gets bumpier than the last. It seems that as a species, we have yet to ‘learn’, ‘process’, and ‘internalize’ that statement: ‘War is hell’. I’m afraid that until we manage to realize that, and fix a whole plethora of problems, we’re not going to escape the past—we’re going to keep repeating it (with different names and locations).

So, if you follow me on other sites—you will see me making political and religious statements. I won’t apologize for those statements, but will say this—if they (the statements/memes or whatever) make you upset/mad or whatever—ask yourself, why? I don’t share things to offend, but I do share to help try to educate, but also to show my stance of various topics.

Therefore on the eve of this new moon, I send healing thoughts and vibes to the people of Ukraine and Russia. Nothing is gained through the loss of lives…

Namaste…

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Time to grab a book, a reading nook, and read the day away: It’s National Book Lovers Day!

So today (August 9th) is ‘National Book Lovers Day’, and it is a day that encourages us to find our favorite reading spot, grab a good book (or two), and read the day away.

Here are some random facts on early books:

  1. The first books had either parchment or calfskin for pages
  2. The covers were usually made of wood and covered in leather
  3. They had clasps or straps to keep them closed
  4. The first public libraries appeared during the Middle Ages, and the books were often chained to shelves or desks to prevent theft.

I’ve always been an avid reader to the point where I would usually be accumulating huge to-be read piles (or actually entire to-be read bookcases) during high school and college.

I got my first e-reader shortly before I finished graduate school (as a way to help cut back on the number of boxes of books Id’ be having to move), and for the most part that is what I’ve stuck with over the years.

I will use my e-reader for reading most books (whether they’re fiction or non-fiction), but when it comes to having a ‘referenec’ book (usually a textbook)–those I prefer to have in physical form (easier to highlight, make notes, and so forth). As I movemore into freelance writing, the bookcases will once again be propagated by books–just the larger (and heavier) textbooks.

While I could try to list out all my favorite books, I thought I’d share some of my favorite fiction books so far from this year:

  1. Call You Mine (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #4) by Claudia Burgoa
  2. Inked Persuasion (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  3. Blackout After Dark (Gansett Island #23) by Marie Force
  4. Billionaire Unexpected: Jax (The Billionaire Obsessions #16) by J.S. Scott
  5. My True Love: Jules Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #2) by Melissa Foster
  6. My One Night (On My Own #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  7. State of Affairs (First Family #1) by Marie Force
  8. As We Are (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #5) by Claudia Burgoa
  9. My Rebound (On My Own #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  10. How Much I Love (Miami Nights #3) by Marie Force
  11. A Scent of Magick (McKendrick Warlocks #3) by Rhyannon Byrd
  12. Inked Obsession (Montgomery Ink: Fort Collins #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  13. Come Together (Butler, VT #7) by Marie Force
  14. Dawn Unearthed (Ravenwood Coven #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan

Yes, there is a trend in the authors–I usually have a small list of authors that are automatic buys for me, three of the above authors I’ve been reading for quite a while (Marie Force, Carrie Ann Ryan, and Rhyannon Byrd), while the others I’ve only started reading since the pandemic. If I really like the series, it won’t matter how long it is between books–I’ll purchase the next book (I think it’s been roughly fourteen years between the release of the second McKendrick Warlock book and the third–but I liked the overall plot of the series, I’m personally waiting for Colin’s book).

I’ve also bought a large number of books by ‘new’ to me authors over the past year (mainly through special sales), which I’m going ot be working in around all the pre-ordered books that I will still be getting throughout the year. I’m hoping to slowly expand my reading genera from contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance to also include mysteries/thrillers, and ‘normal’ science fiction/fantasy (in addition the non-fiction).

Here are a few of those books that I’m going to be reading over the next few months:

  1. Familiar Kitten Mysteries Bundle (Books 1-6) by Sara Bourgeois
  2. The White Magic Five and Dime: A Tarot Mystery by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco
  3. Phoenix Rising (Complete Series) by Annie Anderson
  4. The Dark Emeralds (Books 1-3) by Jerry Lambert
  5. Dead to Me: Arcane Souls World (Grave Talker #1) by Annie Anderson

Also over the past two years or so, I’ve been trying to balance out the fiction reading with some non-fiction reading, and here is a list of some of the books I’ve enjoyed reading:

  1. Minimalist Money Makeover by Michelle Moore
  2. The No Spend Challenge Guide: How to stop spending money impulsively, pay off debt fast, and make your finances fit your dreams by Jen Smith
  3. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
  4. The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–a creative and practical guide by Margaret Lobensteine
  5. Reboot Your Life: Energize your career and life by taking a break by Catherine Allen, Nancy Bearg, Rita Foley, and Jaye Smith
  6. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
  7. The Financial Diet by Chelsea Fagan
  8. What your clutter is trying to tell you: uncover the message in the mess and reclaim your life by Kerri L. Richardson
  9. YouMap: Find Yourself, Blaze Your Path, Show the World! by Kristin Sherry
  10. The Year of Less: How I stopped shopping, gave away my belongings, and discovered life is worth more than anything you can buy by Cait Flanders
  11. Pause: Harness the life-changing power of giving yourself a break by Rachael O’Meara
  12. The Latte Factor: why you don’t have to be rich to live rich by David Bach and John David Mann
  13. Girl on Fire: How to Choose Yourself, Burn the Rule Book, and Blaze Your Own Trail in Life and Business by Cara Alwill Leyba
  14. The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tonya Dalton
  15. The 12 week year: get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington
  16. Burnout: The secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
  17. Hello Fears: Crush your comfort zone and become who you’re meant to be by Michelle Poler
  18. How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up by Emilie Wapnick
  19. 25 ways to work from home: smart business models to make money online by Jen Ruiz

These are the books that have resonated somewhat with me, either in terms of finances, career, or trying to par down on the amount of stuff I own. All three of these areas are things I’ve been trying to focus on for the past eighteen months. I had decided right before the pandemic that I was going to take a ‘reboot break’ to focus on my health and finding the ‘right’ job.

Once the pandemic hit—I switched gears to more personal/professional development and ‘escapism’ (buying large numbers of books [both physical and electronic], craft supplies, and organizational supplies). I’ve worked through a small number of the courses—but have acquired a large number of books.

So, those are areas that I’m still focusing on (especially trying to get the impulsive purchasing under control again), in addition to expanding the genera I read.

Here are some of the non-fiction books that are on my to-be read list:

  1. The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify your strengths and create success on your own terms by Beth Buelow
  2. The Freelance Introvert: Work the way you want without changing who you are by Tom Albrighton
  3. Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers in World War II by Liz Mundy
  4. The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict
  5. When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt by Kara Cooney
  6. Just Do You: Authenticity, Leadership, and Your Personal Brand by Lisa King
  7. Owning It: Take Control of Your Life, Work, and Career by Kris Taylor
  8. Stepping Stones: A journey through the ice caves of the Dordogne by Christine Desdemaines-Hugo and Ian Tattersall
  9. Work Quilting: Piece together diverse income streams; live an insanely awesome life by Vikki Walton
  10. What if it does work out: How a side hustle can change your life by Susie Moore
  11. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  12. Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

So, there you have it: some of my favorite 2021 fiction books, and some of my favorite non-fiction books from the past few years. In addition to some of the fiction and non-fiction books I plan on reading over the next few months.

Curious to know–who are some of your favorite (automatic-buy) authors?

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State of Affairs: 1st in the First Family Series

**This series spins-off from the Fatal series by Marie Force. So if you’re a fan of her Fatal series and haven’t finished reading the books–come back after you’re read those, unless you don’t mind spoilers.

Picture of the paperback edition that I ordered from the author

So this is the first book in Marie Force’s new First Family series. This book (and series) starts right after the last scene in Fatal Fraud (the last book in the Fatal series). Therefore, if you haven’t read at least that book–STOP reading, unless you don’t mind spoilers.

This ‘new’ series follows Nick and Samantha as they make their transition from the second family (which was back in book eight or nine of the Fatal series) to the first family after President David Nelson was found deceased in the White House on Thanksgiving.

Without giving too many details away–it is a fast pace book, where instead of things happening over a couple of weeks, it is focused on the first week or so of their ‘new’ lives.

There are compromises from both Sam and Eli in terms of protection, and everyone trying to figure out what their new ‘normal’ is going to be. Everyone from the Fatal series was back (including those that are a pain in the backside for both Sam and Nick), and more characters are being introduced.

I loved the Fatal series (and actually started re-reading it before State of Affairs came out), and am planning on another re-read so that I can post brief reviews here on the blog, and am absolutely in love with the First Family series. It is going to be wait for the second book (it is due out in December), but Marie Force never disappoints so the wait will be worth it.

State of Affairs gets an A+, 10 out 10 stars review and I highly recommend the book to anyone who has read Marie Force (but may not have read the Fatal series), and even to those who haven’t but enjoy a little mystery/suspense to their stories.

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