Some Thoughts on Gratitude

Posted: May 31, 2019 by Rachel

I woke up Wednesday morning with a deep sense of exhaustion in my bones and had only one thought beyond wishing I could go back to sleep: That I would be grateful for this day I’ve been granted. I closed my eyes and listened to the birds outside the window, the kind of quiet coming from my son’s bedroom that could only mean he was still asleep, the soft breathing of my husband in bed next to me. I slipped out of bed and tugged on a housecoat over my nightgown. I was on a mission for coffee; if I acted quickly—and quietly—I could enjoy it in bed before DJ woke up.

When I sat back down on the bed, hot cup of coffee in hand, I forced myself to be still for a moment longer. I studied the way the early morning sun cast itself over the furniture and walls in the bedroom. I listened again to my husband’s breathing. I took my first sip of coffee.

It’s easy to get caught up in the every day minutia of life—work, parenting, cooking and cleaning, errand running and bill paying—and forget to stop and recognize just how lucky you are. You, me; we’ve both been granted another day. All we have to do is embrace it. Play with your kids, your dogs, whatever it is. Kiss your partner.  Do something for yourself, for someone else. Try your hardest. Be the best version of yourself you can be.

Read more

A New Chapter

Posted: May 28, 2019 by Rachel

I don’t notice the color of my therapist’s new office during my first visit, but looking back on it now, I imagine it to be an unimaginative shade of beige.

Beige is boring. And entirely expected.

I can, however, recall the way her dark hair was pulled away from her face, and her kind eyes. I wonder if that’s a prerequisite to becoming a therapist; those eyes. The kind that can coax anything from you—the truth, perhaps. Certainly everything else, too.

Read more

words to live by

Posted: May 24, 2019 by Rachel

What Has Always Been

Again I resume the long
lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest.

What more did I
think I wanted? Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be.

Wendell Berry
(via)

she always knew when enough was enough

Posted: May 5, 2019 by Rachel

on losing a mother

not many people can tell you what you’re in for
when you lose a parent suddenly.
i’m glad that’s the case, but good god
it would be nice to talk to someone my age
who understands what it feels like.

my mom died seventeen days ago.
we’d been by her side for days, weeks, all of us—
sisters, aunts, nieces, nephews, granddaughters,
brothers, daughters, husband, friends—
but she waited until i stepped out for a moment,
when she could be alone with my dad,
to take her last breath.

i sat back in a tiny, uncomfortable chair,
pulled my legs tight against me and wept.
i’ve never felt more alone than in that moment
and i hope i never feel that again.

the last words my mom spoke to me,
three days before she passed away,
were in response to a simple question i’d asked:
“how are you feeling?”
i’d arrived back at the hospital after stopping home for a shower
and something to eat that wasn’t fast food
to find my aunt bent over her, singing, crying.
my mom turned to me, and spoke so quietly
i could barely hear a thing:
“i feel at peace,” she said.
less than 48 hours later she was gone.

it all happened much quicker than any of us expected,
but that’s my mom for you:
she always knew when enough was enough.
she’d made her peace, said her goodbyes
and now it was our turn.

Ready for the Sun.

Posted: March 8, 2019 by Rachel

current office view

It got cold again here in Las Vegas. Although I feel almost bad typing this when my friends and family back in Ontario, Canada are dealing with highs almost thirty degrees cooler, it’s still cold. And overcast. And rainy.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the cold and darkness of winter was getting to me. We’ve had some glimpses of sun since them, but nothing that has stuck. I know Spring is just around the corner, and that the clocks jumping forward this week will help, but, again: oof. I’m ready now.

I’ve taken to raising the blinds here in my office while I work. Most days it’s not the most beautiful view, but it does serve to remind me that there is a world out there that exists, which is especially hard when I’m editing page 87 of a 249 page manuscript that we’re behind on. My editing muscle hasn’t been put to the test in quite a while on works other than my own. And Men’s Adventure isn’t usually my go-to genre. But I will say this for the genre: it moves fast, which keeps me on my toes.

Now I’ve forgotten what I came here to say.

Right, the world outside my window.

To say it’s been a crazy last twelve months is putting it lightly. I’m not one of those people who takes pride in being insanely busy. To me, it just means unnecessary stress, and when I’m stressed I cry. Oh boy do I cry. I cried last night and again this morning. I’ll probably cry tomorrow, too. It’s how I cope. Shopping also helps me cope, but that’s bad, so I’m not going to talk about that. (I have two items to be returned to their respective stores tonight that I’m not going to talk about either).

What I’m saying is that I’m ready for a new season. A slightly slower season. A sit-outside-with-a-book-and-iced-coffee kind of season. A season of teaching my son to ride his bike without training wheels, of watching my husband and son race cars out on the road. A season of park visits and messy popsicle juice dripping down our arm. A season where I turn the computer off at the end of the day and don’t check my email again until the next work day.

I’m ready for the sun.

oof.

Posted: February 22, 2019 by Rachel

I’m not the least bit ashamed to say I’ve been struggling a bit lately. February. Dark, cold, tiring February. I’m not a fan. I’m not the biggest fan of winter overall, actually. One of the best things I ever did was leave Canada for Las Vegas eight years ago. The winters here are much more mild and forgiving, though I feel strange writing this as we come off of two days of heavy (for us) snowfall. You heard me right; I said snow. That photo was taken looking out my front window.

So, February has kind of been kicking my butt. Oof. I feel perpetually tired (I’m talking exhausted once 4pm hits) and my inspiration levels have been steadily dropping. As I’m in the thick of writing my new book (just a little shy of 30k words at the moment) I worry about letting this melancholy get any worse. I’m worried my book will go down the drain.

I know I’m not the only one having these feelings–they’re all over social media and in my inbox and ears too. February is hard on so many of us. I wish I could snap my fingers and make it Spring. Just give me the light. Give me waking up to a bright room. Give me iced coffee and pink lemonade.

Sometimes cooking some of my favorite recipes helps, like this apricot and cheddar chicken melt that Dom can’t get enough of, or this honey sriracha sesame chicken with cauliflower. But, oof, my cooking has suffered too. The other night I made breakfast for dinner: hash browns, turkey bacon and eggs all mixed together. I added salsa verde to mine and devoured it. The boys loved it too. DJ asked for it the next night, and you know what? I made it again.

All of this has just been a long-winded way of saying I’m over you, February. Of course, before I know it it will be the dead of the summer and I’ll be complaining about how much I’m sweating and the very particular way the Las Vegas sun has of feeling as though it’s burning into your skin. But that’s a story for another day.

things I think about at 5:30a.m. on (what happens to be) valentine’s day morning

Posted: February 14, 2019 by Rachel

First, and always: go back to bed. Then… everything else.

I must remember to get heart balloons while DJ’s at school. I did that last year and he remembered, and asked if there would be balloons this year. He has a great memory when he wants to.

Should I change things up now, while it’s early, and use my full name as a writer?

More rain? And while we’re at it: I’m over this winter darkness and am ready for Spring.

I really should try just to have one cup of coffee today.

I’m not anti-Valentines Day but that doesn’t mean I enjoy the bombardment of cheesy instagram posts and awful jewelry ads I’ll be faced with today. #cliche

Is that a headache looming or am I just really tired?

Don’t forget to look for a copy of the illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for DJ’s birthday. Also: see if you can find the second book on sale for mom and dad to give him.

I’m tired, I could go back to bed.

Just 918 words left until I hit the halfway mark of my first draft. Do I have time to do it today?

Where is DJ’s red shirt that he wanted to wear to school today? I really hope it’s not in the wash (when was the last time I did laundry anyway?)

Do I have time to shower before everyone else gets up?

I’m up, so I may as well get working on those 918 words.

I’m tired; I need coffee.

things and thoughts

Posted: January 29, 2019 by Rachel

I spend too much time on Instagram–this I know to be true. But sometimes it has its benefits, like when I came across a quote from Portuguese author Jose Micard Teixerira that so accurately summed up my belief system these days. He said, among many things:

“I no longer have patience for certain things… simply because I have reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism.

I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me, and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate.

I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities.”

I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that happened in 2018, but I grew up. I realized I can’t please everyone, and I shouldn’t have to. I let go of friendships that were doing more harm than good. I learned that self-care is choosing not to argue with anyone committed to misunderstanding you.

I shed a lot of ugly last year. And I’m so much better for it.

The Best Books I Read all Year (the 2018 Edition)

Posted: December 22, 2018 by Rachel

Here are (in my humble opinion) the best books I read in 2018, in no particular order:

PLACES I STOPPED ON THE WAY HOME — I read this book over a 24-hour period in two sittings. When I was done, I typed out a simple, one line review: Review to come when I catch my breath. Well, it took me nearly twenty days to find the words to describe how much I truly ADORED this book. Meg’s words touched me–her hopelessness, her excitement, her love, her loss–in a way that I simply didn’t see coming. She simply took my breath away and will continue to do so each and every time I, rightfully, re-read this beautiful memoir. In fact, the second I finished reading, I flipped back to the front cover and started reading it over again.

P.S. FROM PARIS — I absolutely loved this book. It was funny and quick, and will certainly be looking into his other novels ASAP.

THE GREAT ALONE — To try and wrap my mind around how I feel about THE GREAT ALONE is a near impossible thing. To start, this book was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. This book broke my heart. I spent a few chapters reading while tears streamed down my cheeks. THE GREAT ALONE is compelling, maddening, inspiring and downright terrifying. And oh so beautifully written. I haven’t felt so many emotions from a book in a very long time.

AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE — Thought-provoking, timely and full of characters you want to root for.

NEON IN DAYLIGHT — A jaw-droopingly good first novel, Neon In Daylight was full of vibrant characters and beautifully crafted prose.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US — Curveball after curveball after curveball. This book had me guessing and guessing again. A total mind fu*k in the best way.

MY SALINGER YEAR — Described as “a memoir about literary New York in the late nineties, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself entangled with one of the last great figures of the century”, My Salinger Year was incredible.


Honorable Mentions:


P.S. The 2016 edition

What I Read: October 2018

Posted: November 1, 2018 by Rachel

What I Read: October 2018

Wow. So, it turns out I haven’t shared one of these posts since March, which definitely bums me out. But, I’m here, and I’m ready to share what I read in October. October was tough. It was a busy month, and when I did have time to read, I had trouble doing so. Nothing kept my attention. Well, except these books, apparently.

What I read in October 2018:

  • YOU  // Technically, this was my second time reading this book, but that still counts. I started watching the new Lifetime tv show, and got about two episodes in before deciding I needed to re-read the book before I watched anymore. And, I have to tell you, YOU was just as good the second time around.
  • WORLDS OF YOU: POETRY & PROSE  // I’m thrilled to have a copy of this on my shelf because not only is it a beautiful cover, the writing was absolutely beautiful as well. If you were to read my copy, you’d see flagged pages and underlined passages, and, for me, that’s the sign of a great book.
  • EVIDENCE OF THE AFFAIR // Well. I’m a big big fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid and was super excited when I heard about this story. It kind of pains me to say that it was just okay.
  • FANGIRL // I’m kind of cheating by including this on the list because I started it months back and only finally finished it yesterday. I thought it was sweet and relatable and very funny.
  • THE DARK BETWEEN STARS // A collection of poetry by Atticus that was incredibly touching.
  • BONE // If you enjoy poetry, this is a must-read.

Read more