Monthly Archives: May 2012

What’s the secret in your nest?

I have a story to tell you.

About two weeks ago I bought a beautiful, new, red camera.  A couple of days later I was outside enjoying the sunny, warm weather with my daughter when she discovered a little nest in a nearby tree. Even by holding her camera/phone above it to take a photo, she wasn’t sure what was in it, maybe a dead bird? We hoped not.

My new digital camera has the handy feature of an adjustable monitor so that I could see my intended subject by angling the monitor down while holding the camera above the nest. This let me see that I had in frame what I wanted, but it wasn’t until we looked at the captured image that we could see what was there.

What do you think we found?     Take a look.

Can you see it?

Take a closer look.

Yes, that’s a peanut shell!

Although I would get a kick out of telling you that we found a new and unique way to grow peanuts, I’m sure you wouldn’t believe me anyway.  The truth is my dad has a peanut holder hanging on another tree and filled it with roasted peanuts in the shell. Obviously, either a bird – or maybe a squirrel – took its prize to a more private place and released the peanut for his own satisfying snack.

That’s got the be the ultimate in take-out, don’t you think? 🙂

And, those of you who are allergic, please note it is an empty shell.

The way my brain works, I began thinking about this peanut shell hidden in a bird’s nest. But I didn’t just think about how funny that is, but also the uniqueness of it.

Nests … homes … privacy … secrets … keeping ourselves from the world …

Just allow me this far-reaching musing, follow me awhile …

How often do we keep to ourselves the thing we most would like to do for fear of people thinking we are crazy for considering such a thing? Such as .. oh, I don’t know .. skydiving, for example. Or running a marathon, or writing a book, or teaching what we know to people who really want to learn. Why are we so afraid of living our lives to the fullest? Why do we practice singing when no one is there to hear us? Why do we dance but only when we are alone? Why do we write in secret? Why do we hide our stash of peanuts (our talents and giftedness) and enjoy them privately instead of sharing them?

I think it’s fear of rejection, or ridicule, or .. ‘not good enough” mentality.

I believe in order to overcome the fear of what others will think of us, we must first accept ourselves and the way God has gifted us. We must see ourselves honestly and then take that first step. Take a class, or join a club, or offer our abilities where there is a need. Do whatever is necessary to learn, and discover and grow. Now that we are in the age of Internet communities we have tremendous advantages and opportunities to connect in areas once not accessible. We have no excuse anymore.

So, why do we hide? I know that once we step out we’ll find many others who feel the same way, and through our efforts to grow they will be encouraged to crawl out of the nest, too. How do I know? Because I was afraid, someone encouraged me .. and still does .. and I am crawling out of my nest. It’s not so scary after all!

What’s in your nest? What unique gift do you have that you are not letting the world know about yet?

Or, what have you done to take that step and change your life?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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Book Review: Secret Daughter – by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Book: Secret Daughter  (A Novel)
Author: Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Publisher: William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers
Date: March 9, 2011; paperback April 5, 2012
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Pages: 356, paperback
Price: $13.99; less on Kindle
My rating: An extraordinary read, very convincing, with an ending that is both satisfying and disturbing.
 
 

I won this book, probably on Twitter, and promptly added it to my huge TBR (to be read) pile.  Had I known what I was in for I would not have waited so long to read Secret Daughter. Oh my!

Canadian first-time author Shilpi Somaya Gowda has written a compelling story that had me from the beginning. Born in Toronto, Canada, to parents from Bombay, India, she had insight and good understanding of both cultures. She mostly told the story from the perspective of three women – the adopted daughter, the adoptive mother and the birth mother. It was involved and interesting and hard to put down once I started reading.

I don’t want to give away too much and spoil it for you, but for anyone who has adopted from another country, or is thinking about it, this book gives a different view of some of the things to take into consideration.

The characters are well-developed, their life situations are convincing and detailed, and the reader gets to share in the story of their lives over a span of twenty-five years. It was easy to care about them. In fact, I experienced a range of emotions as I read this international bestseller.

I liked how the author headed her chapters with not only the title, but also the location, date, and name of the person the reader was visiting in that chapter. Each chapter is only a few pages long which made it easy to read when having only a few minutes. It also helped the reader get oriented right from the start and occasionally helped the author step over a span of several years to move along in the story. It was well done.

The only thing I did not like is the way the author chose to end this novel, although it is quite believable the way it happened. Obviously the ending did not interfere with the book’s success. Even so, if you are one who likes to read the end of a book first … in this case DON’T!  Please, do yourself the favour of not peeking. It is well worth the wait.

There has been criticism that the author ignored or changed some things about the culture of India to fit her story, but I don’t agree. In a couple of places I had questions, too, but since I have never studied their culture nor have I visited that country, I accepted that perhaps it was something that is changing there with the times. I believed the author would know that, so I didn’t let my lack of information get in the way of a great read.

Originally, this is not a book I planned to review, but having experienced it I wanted to introduce it to you to add to your TBR list. You won’t be disappointed.

You can find Secret Daughter listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: On the Bright Side: The Starling series, Book 1 – by S.R. Johannes

Book: On the Bright Side
Author: S. R. Johannes
Publisher: Coleman & Stott
Date: February 15, 2012
Genre: tween paranormal (directed at ages 9-12)
Pages: 256 paperback
Price: $8.99; less on Kindle
My rating: an interesting, unusual paranormal with humour for young readers
 

From the author I received an electronic copy of On the Bright Side to read on my pc kindle in exchange for an honest review.

I began reading this book as I usually do, with a serious take-it-all-in attitude. It didn’t take me long to discover that, for one thing, there are few, if any, similarities to the real Heaven.

But, let me back up a little.

This story is about a teenage girl who dies suddenly and is transported to Haven (that’s not a misspell), otherwise known as Cirrus. So begins her afterlife as a ‘Bright” and her training to be a guardian angel. Knowing that people do not become angels (since angels are angels and people are people), at that point I began reading this story with a different attitude, one of simply enjoying the author’s amazing imagination and the world she created based on good and evil. It was quite interesting, entertaining, and captivating.

The main character, Gabby, is now a BIT (Bright in Training) and being prepared to protect a former friend she would rather ignore. To add insult to injury, that friend is strongly interested in Gabby’s still living almost-boyfriend. The added frustration is that the angel she befriends in Cirrus is assigned to … ahh, but I must be careful to not spoil the read for you. I will just say that Ms. Johannes has written a story that young readers are sure to enjoy as they follow Gabby defiantly – and not without serious mishap – set out to earn her wings.

A few things of note:

  • There may be young readers who will take parts of this book seriously, therefore misunderstanding what Heaven is really like.
  • There are many puns and plays on words, such as Skyfone, and there is much technology used in Cirrus (amusingly, there is not a perfect cell phone connection there either), and skyolations for when rules were broken (violations).
  • The outcome of the battle between good and evil is dependent upon the actions and abilities of the Brights.
  • The characters’ personalities are very flawed (meaning jealous, temperamental, scheming) as they live in death with much the same human attitudes and problems as they did in life.

I did find S.R. Johannes’ imagination to be intriguing as she came up with ingenious inventions, humourous situations, and surprising plot twists. It became obvious that she was not trying to use Cirrus as an actual perfect setting but a fictional, imaginary, outlandish one which made for quite a different easy-to-read story.

If you want your young reader to enjoy a fantastical fictional experience, this could be a good book to pick up. It had me pulled along as I kept wanting to find out what’s going to happen next.

On the Bright Side by S.R. Johannes is the first book in a planned series called The Starlings, so start with this one.

You can find On the Bright Side listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

I received the Beautiful Blogger award!

On May 10 I received a lovely surprise from fellow blogger Ruth Schiffmann, the blessing of the Beautiful Blogger award!

That’s really encouraging since I feel that I’m not keeping up my blog very well between going back and forth (if you are following my blog you’ll understand what I’m talking about) and trying to catch up on the books I have here to read and review on my blog and elsewhere,  along with .. just keeping up.

Have you ever wondered, as I have … when do I get back to my life? Then I realize .. oh yeah! This IS my life!

Enough whining.

THANK YOU to Ruth for this cyber hug. Please pay her a visit at her blog, Out on a Limb.

I don’t know if I can fulfill the rules for this one, share 7 random things about myself, and then pass the award on to 15 other bloggers – that’s the hard part so I am awarding it to 10 instead.

7 random things about me:

  1. A friend recently called me an internet junkie. I think he may be right. And I see nothing wrong with that as long as I am careful about where I go on the Net, get food and exercise, and don’t totally neglect my responsibilities in ‘real life.’
  2. Blessing others is such a joy (blessing) to me. It’s fun to do things secretly, too.
  3. I’m 5’4.5″ (that’s 5 feet 4 1/2 inches) tall. (never forget that half inch!)
  4. When I was a child my eyes were definitely brown, now they are more hazel.
  5. I would love to have a dog like my beautiful Shasta who died three years ago this month.  She was German Shepherd/Husky/Wolf and had such personality. I still miss her so much. But I also would like to adopt a Greyhound. Anyone have one?
  6. I enjoy movies, but not horror or gore or ones that are overly sappy or loaded in swearing. I like movies that do not insult one’s intelligence, although some comedies seem to have that as a requirement.
  7. I am starting a list of my favourite words  … for no particular reason, I just like them.

I am sending this award on to the following beautiful bloggers:

  1. Sue Harrison
  2. Linda Leinen
  3. Donna Yates
  4. Janet Sketchly
  5. P. Allen Jones
  6. Renee Johnson
  7. Jo Hart
  8. Patricia Blomeley-Maddigan
  9. Karen (whose last name I don’t know)
  10. Darlene Foster

I hope you visit these great bloggers. Thanks again, Ruth, for this award. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Book Review: My Own Worst Enemy: how to stop holding yourself back – by Janet Davis

Book: My Own Worst Enemy: how to stop holding
yourself back
Author: Janet Davis
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Date: March 15, 2012
Genre: Christian living
Pages: 172
Price: $14.99; less for e-book
My rating: An inspiring, encouraging read, especially for women who self-sabotage and want to break that cycle.

I received an ARC (advanced reading copy) through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

First I must say that even though I stated the genre as “Christian living”, this book can be helpful to anyone seeking a way to break free of the nagging voice in her head …

“Just who do you think you are?”

Have you ever heard that in your own thinking? Have you held back because of what others will say or what they would think of you being so bold as to share your thoughts or talents? Why, you could look proud or cause someone to be jealous!  Pish tosh!  (By the way, pish tosh means rubbish, bunk, a ridiculous proposition.)

In her book, Janet Davis addresses the many ways women sabotage themselves and hold themselves back from being all they are made to be. To quote: “Women often find that the biggest obstacle to being all they were created to be is themselves. Though they long to succeed, they can’t silence the voice inside whispering, “Just who do you think you are?”

In three sections and thirteen chapters, the author addresses various situations while using her own life as an example along with those of other women. She also parallels those stories with women in the Bible. (I did question a few of her suggestions regarding Biblical situations, but that did not overshadow the overall ministry to women through this book.)

Section One Chapters are: The Unimagined Life; The Unworthy Life; The Unlived Life

Section Two Chapters are: Identity: Pretense vs Presence; Creativity: Conformity vs Uniqueness; Shining: Recoiling vs. Radiance

Section Three Chapters are: Choosing Vulnerability; Choosing to Say No; Choosing to Tell Your Story; Choosing to Re-Create in the Midst of Loss; Choosing to Persevere in the Midst of Injustice; Choosing to Grow Up; Choosing to Say Yes to God

At the beginning of each chapter, Janet poses something to consider, then at the end she revisits that thought and adds a list of questions for the reader to answer. Those questions can go as deep as you allow them to, depending on how much time you want to take, how serious you are about dealing with the problem, and how much you are willing to face.

My Own Worst Enemy: how to stop holding yourself back is a great read-alone book, but it also can be used in a small group of women who get together to work through the questions and help one another address the problem of self-sabotage.

If you have not been aware of how adept woman are at undermining themselves, you may be surprised as to how subtle is that inner voice. My Own Worst Enemy – by Janet Davis – may be just the book you didn’t know you needed.

You can find My Own Worst Enemy: how to stop holding yourself back listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading … and, Creative Musings!  🙂