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A Few Favorite Things (Lately)

By November 11, 2013 7 Comments

I like lists.

I like lists of things other people like, from people I like, because there’s a good chance I will like these things, too. So, if you like me, maybe you will like my list. Are you with me? 🙂

Books – Top Four Since Summer
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. A middle grade read that I LOVED. It is so well-written, has such a great message without beating you over the head with it, made me laugh and cry (what a great combo!), and uplifted me overall. Fantastic. Julia gave a more in-depth review Here.

Gone Girl by Gillyen Flynn. Wow. I was skeptical given her other books that I couldn’t read (too dark, too depressing). And though I couldn’t recommend it to my teenage daughter due to some language and explicit sex scene (did we really need it?), I really, really enjoyed this book. What a good story! I look at books in different ways than I used to, especially regarding scene structure, plot, character development, and theme. There were so many plot twists that I couldn’t stop reading, couldn’t stop thinking about the characters, and couldn’t have predicted the ending – what a feat! 

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. There are some book that change your life. This is one of those books. I took notes, made photocopies of pages, underlined passages, and had excited discussions with my father for a week while reading this book. LOVED it. Daring Greatly is all about the power of vulnerability. Get started by listening to Brene Brown’s TED talk Here. Brene says, “Courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.” It is only through being vulnerable that we can really be seen for who we really are. Great book for parents and anyone who wants to have better relationships and live a more authentic life. Read it!

The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E.B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic by Michael Sims. I love Charlotte’s Web and I love books about authors, but I thought I might end up skimming this. I didn’t. This book is a great window into the life of a shy nature-loving boy who enjoyed animals more than people. This quiet observer grew up to be E.B. White of Strunk and White (every writer’s must-have book companion), and had a very long writing career at The New Yorker, and of course, in children’s literature. A fascinating look. 

What’s on my night stand right now? FOUR John Green books, the Weight of Water by Anita Shreve, and Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg. 


Mint M&Ms. Taste like a thin mint. Seasonal item? I better stock up. So good! I’d show you the pretty green candies but this package is, um, empty.

Virgil’s Cream Soda. And I don’t usually like Cream Soda.

Latest afternoon go-to snack: Dark chocolate-covered almonds with Snyder pretzels. Keeps me awake and writing.

When I saw the pomegranate in the store I shrieked. Seasonal item is here! Great for granola, plain, smoothies, desserts, snacks, disease prevention. My heart swoons pomegranate red.

I bought this at the grocery store. The scent, flavor, and luscious feel is divine.

I don’t like foundation because of the paint-slathering feel, but skin needed something. This is it. Grocery story purchase for about $9. It’s like a tinted moisture with a little bit more. I use the medium/deep and feel brighter and happier all day. Love it. Stocking stuffer? Amen.

Glucosamine Chondroitin, found at Wal-mart as a two-pack. At around $34, it’s pricey, but I tell you what, my knees feel good. No, they feel better! Placebo effect? I’ll take it. Instructions say to take two/day, but I only take one.
This is touted as helping joints increase range of motion and overall joint health.

Running Buddies.  It’s getting cold. The mornings are dark. This morning I had two runners in my driveway at 6:30 for a 6.2 hill run. Oh, I love them!

Freedom in Creation
In September it was my great honor to listen to Andrew Briggs, President of Freedom in Creation, and Peter Odoch. Peter was born in Uganda and witnessed first-hand, the terrible effects of war. His parents, brothers and sisters were taken and killed in front of him, or were indoctrinated, becoming child soldiers. Brother was turned against brother and to this day, Peter doesn’t know where some of his family is.

Peter has lived through great sadness, and yet he lived. Do you believe your life has purpose? That you were saved for something more? I do. Peter was. He married, became a father, and is now an adjunct professor at Gulu University and business manager of Life Giving Water, LLC. What does he do with most of his time?

He’s using his life to give, to save his people in Uganda.

Andrew and Peter are rarely in the United States. They are mostly in Uganda teaching and raising money to build wells. 
The children make jewelry out of rolled paper. Buying a necklace or bracelet directly helps these children raise money to dig a well and become educated. It seems that every night I dream of ways to fly to Uganda and dig a well. I see myself surrounded by children who have skin as dark as mine is white, and yet we belong to each other, all of us dependent upon life-giving water.

How can it be that we are obsessed with celebrities and living with such wealth when there are babies and children dying every minute because they don’t have access to fresh water? 

How can I be concerned about running mileage when children walk fifteen miles a day for a drink?

How can I care about chapstick and chocolate-covered almonds when children are starving? It’s because we are so blessed. Is it not a reminder: Where much is given, much is expected.

I suppose it’s fitting that I write this on Veteran’s Day. Thank you.

A few of my favorite things? Face lotion and running buddies, yes. But I was once told that service would be my first opportunity for great joy. That has proven to be true.

What are some of your favorite things? 



  • Wonder is definitely one of my favorite things. I plan on reading it aloud to my class when I finish the book I’m reading to them now. I know that I will cry while reading it, but that’s okay. They will survive seeing their teacher cry reading Wonder. Maybe it will even make a difference.

    And you are right. We live in such wealth, we have no concept how other people are suffering. Our nation views itself as the center of the world, never realizing that for thousands, maybe millions of people, the U.S. lifestyle has no impact in their lives (or possibly a negative impact).

  • Carrie Rubin says:

    I loved Gone Girl, too. Seemed readers either loved it or hated it. I read Dark Places by Flynn as well, but I didn’t like that one as much. Her characters certainly aren’t the most likable, but she weaves a great story.

    And of course, I love M&Ms. Especially while I’m reading. 🙂

  • Oh my…dark chocolate, cream soda, and mint m&ms…looks like we have a lot in common. 🙂 I’ve been wanting to read Gone Girl. What do you think of Ben Affleck playing the part in the movie? I LOVE the quote “Where much is given, much is expected.” So true! 🙂

  • Heather says:

    What a fantastic list! Wonder has been on my must read list forever. Now I’ve got to read it and your opportunity to hear 2 speakers like Andrew and Peter sounds amazing!

    Speaking of lists, have you heard of the app “Wunderlist”? It is one of my favorites, free, and helps me keep track of all my lists – like beauty items I want to try, music and movies recommended by friends, shopping lists, etc. I love it.

    I also love coconut m&m’s. Yum. I’ll have to try the mint!

  • bermudaonion says:

    I loved Wonder as well and could eat my weight in pomegranates.

  • An amazing list of favorites, some of which I already share with you and some that I’ll be trying thanks to your recommendation! And I love that you mentioned Peter and his past/present in Uganda. My stepdaughter was involved in fundraising for Uganda last year and learned some very disturbing, but important, lessons about what goes on in the world and how we can help others.

  • Nina Badzin says:

    I’m starting Wonder soon. Have only heard great things!

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