What are you reading?

I am currently reading between three and five books at the same time. I know that may seem unreasonable to those of you who read one at a time, but it’s how I do things. I have linked the titles to amazon.com for the curious.

The books are…

Strong Curves

The Art of Non-Conformity

The Joy of Unschooling

And the fourth is something I rotate back and forth between, usually audiobooks…

A Year of Magical Thinking

Last Child in the Woods

As a family, we are reading Farmer Boy from the Little House on the Prairie series.

(Since we’re living in such a small space, I did blog about what we do for books here.)

Throughout a given year, I tend to gravitate toward biographies. My top three biographies are: UnBroken, The First Lady of the Confederacy, and Yes, Please.

UnBroken is undoubtedly the best written biography that I have ever read. I was captivated from the first page. With historical accuracy and deep insight, this book reads like a novel.

While scouting through the library last year, I randomly selected The First Lady of the Confederacy from a group of Civil War era bios. The life of Varina Davis is far from what I anticipated, and the misguidance of my preconceived notion of her is what made me adore this book.

Yes, Please is technically an autobiography, excuse my lumping it together with bios, but for the sake of not really caring to be too accurate, I don’t care. The book is hilarious just like its author.

This year I’m attempting to read other books that spark my creativity; I may even include some fiction if I can find something that captures my attention.

What are you reading? What are your favorites?

I’d love to hear some suggestions from you, dear readers.

Yours Truly,

Marlie

Almost Ten

Goodness gracious time flies!

Emma will be ten NEXT month, and there is simply no way that I am old enough to have a ten year old.

When Emma was a baby, I often pictured her at “double digits” and wondered how she would be. (She’s marvelous, by the way.)

Last week she told me that since she was almost ten, she should probably learn how to cook.

She pulled out their Kids’ Fun & Healthy Cookbook that her Nana gave to her for her ninth birthday and poured over the pages.

“Mom, would this be good?” She asked over and over again. Finally, I told her to pick a dinner that she would like to try.

She chose “Griddle Chicken with Potato Salad.” We discussed the ingredients we would we need, and we shopped for the missing items.

Last night, she successfully made dinner from the recipe she chose.

It was delicious!

And just like that, she’s ready to be ten.

Yours Truly,

Marlie

Life doesn’t give you Seatbelts

Words of wisdom from LEGO Batman…

Are your kids LEGO everything fans? Ours sure are! We have finally found a reasonable way to store them in our rig, and it came with the rv when we bought it.

(Currently in use by two cuties)

The 2 1/2′ x 1′ (ish) rectangle container was the bottom side of a gamer chair area that came with our rig. At first it seemed so cool to have gamer chairs for our kids, but we soon realized that they rarely sat in them.

What’s the point of gamer chairs if you don’t sit in them? We ripped them out and replaced them with bean bags. “So much more comfortable, Mom!” Awesome.

As for the LEGO box…

 

It’s not the overtly organized look that I crave, but the rectangle box does the job. Our kids pull it into the center of their room and spend hours building legos.

“Mom, you HAVE to see what I built!”

It’s always quite the treat.

Sometimes, I am so nervous to customize things in life, even in our fifth wheel, but in the case of the gamer chairs’ exit, the rectangle box and bean bags are much more functional for our kids.

Here’s to more thinking outside of my comfort zone!

Yours Truly,

Marlie

Allowing “What If’s”

Between 2008-2010, Mike and I lost everything during the credit crisis. We owned our own construction company, and we had several houses, including our own, at various stages of building.

During that time, the bank that held our mortgage came after our personal house first. Our daughter was tiny, and I was seven months pregnant with our son. Mike found a house through our investor that we could redo and live in. The problem was that the woman who had lived there was a hoarder. It took us a few weeks, but we were able to get the house cleaned out, painted, and new floors installed before our son was born.

We moved in, Jensen was born a month later, and Mike left for basic training five days after Jensen was born.

Insert Army life….moving to Texas, enduring deployment, dealing with PTSD, etc and more of that later.

Leaving Texas, moving to Florida, discovering extended travel, buying a rig, visiting new states, flying to Germany, meeting new friends, celebrating holidays…on and on.

The point of this short description of the last decade is; I stopped allowing myself to think of “what if’s” with any kind of positivity.

The world was a dark, scary place that would only bring some kind of torture to my soul. Understandably, at the time, I was struggling with depression and anxiety. It started after the births of our kids, continued while we lost everything we owned, became progressively worse during Mike’s absence due to his Army career, and seemingly cemented into my DNA when we moved to Florida.

I don’t write this lightly. I did not know who I was as a person. I couldn’t stop talking negatively to myself. I gained and lost weight. I subjected myself to verbal abuse from others because in some way, I thought I deserved it.

But last January, something changed. Mike and I watched the story of this guy who lost a ton of weight after dealing with past issues of abuse from his father. There was something so raw and real about his story. I broke down and cried.

That night, I wrote all my feelings of past trauma down onto a steno pad. I began working through the issues that had stopped any creativity or positivity from entering my conscious mind.

Somehow, I stumbled upon Dr. Layne Norton who recommends dealing with emotional issues during dieting. He recommended Kori Prost’s lecture on Emotional Eating 

After hearing her lecture, I started taking baby steps to change my thinking on what anxiety was grounded in reality and what was not. After having people show up at my house (2008-2010) with eviction notices and bill collectors calling my phone daily, I would shrivel up in fear every time someone would knock on our door or call my phone.

In the weeks that followed, I realized why I didn’t recognize myself anymore. As I was buried in the past, I had given up playing the piano, writing, singing, and a myriad of other things I thoroughly loved.

Slowly, over the past year, I have allowed “what if’s” to be positive. “What if” I could write a book and publish it myself? “What if” we could travel full time as a family? “What if” we could start a blog? “What if” I could strength train and become stronger? “What if”….

Granted, I still struggle with negative thinking and worry over worst case scenarios, BUT I am getting stronger mentally.

I write all of this to simply state…you can too.

If you’re dealing with depression and anxiety, I know it’s not just a “think positively” and all will be well. (I have had people tell me this over the years; it doesn’t work.) It is a deeply personal battle that may require medical attention and years of trial and error.

You are worth it. I am worth it.

Yours Truly,

Marlie

 

 

Over 20,000 Words

When I started this blog last summer, I certainly didn’t think that I would have written over 20,000 words by December. Granted, that may seem like a drop in the bucket (pardon the cliche) to some writers, but to me, seeing the stats from my blog (thank you, readers!!! You guys are awesome!) really opened my eyes to how much writing I have actually done.

My hubs told me that James Patterson says that to be a good writer, one must write a million words. (paraphrase) I’ve not yet read any books by Patterson, maybe I should, but I have listened to part of his Master Class. Mike wanted a subscription to the Master Classes for his birthday back in November, and we have both learned a great deal from the people who teach their craft on that site.

Personally, I did not see a million words as feasible, let alone a goal. But for some odd reason seeing 20 some odd thousand words written on the blog really inspires me.

Hmm…maybe I should go for it.

Yours Truly,

Marlie

Working in a State Park

Working in a state park has been such a fun experience. Sure, there have been some odd things to get used to, but overall Mike, Emma, Jensen and I are loving it!

Some of our daily tasks include checking the iron ranger (an iron box that people put their fees in), going on “rounds” through the campground (making sure it’s clean and ready for guests), delivering firewood to campers, interacting with day pass visitors, etc.

My absolute favorite thing to do in the state park is to meet people. I am naturally curious about people, their stories, and where they’ve traveled. Some people are very talkative about where they’ve been and where they’re going. Others look at me as though I’ve requested one of their kidneys when I ask them “So, where are you headed?” Of course, I understand that to a perfect stranger, this question might be a little too personal. But as fellow travelers, we want to hear about cool places to visit and roads to take to get there.

Mike and I first realized that working as campground hosts in state parks was an option when we stayed at Gamble Rogers Memorial Recreation Area in Flagler Beach, FL. If you’re a fellow traveler, check it out. It’s gorgeous!

The campground hosts in that state park were friendly and hard working. The couple had been retired for years, and they decided that in order to see the country the way they wanted to, getting a free campsite for keeping up with the campground was the perfect option for them. They enjoyed working in Florida in the winter and transferring up to Acadia State Park in Maine during the summer months.

I remember Mike and I mulling the idea over, but seeing it as an idea for the future not for anything over the next couple years.

Funny how things work out.

One of the odd things that happened was a woman and her teenage son knocking on our door at 10:30pm because they had locked themselves out of their cabin. They told us that they had heard a noise outside their cabin, ran out the door to investigate, and got locked out. They had walked with only socks on over to our rig which is parked at the only full hookup site in a separate campground that is closed for winter.

Another odd occurrence was a car that pulled up around 1am blaring music that rattled our windows. We woke up to this intense thudding noise and realized it was “music”.

Two nights ago, Mike and I were startled awake by a woman pounding on the door to the ranger’s station while screaming “Help! Help!” We jumped up and looked out the window only to see her run back to her vehicle and speed away to the highway. We have no idea who she was or what help was needed.

Today, is a quiet day so far. Most of the state park staff has the day off, and we are enjoying the sunshine after several days of rain and fog. In a couple of hours, we will drive our little cart around the campground, stopping to check if campers need firewood, and making sure the sites are neat for guests.

It’s a pretty sweet gig. Did I mention that we’re surrounded by Redwoods?

Yah, pretty sweet.

Yours Truly,

Marlie

 

Internet!!

Today, while we have been an hour north of Richardson Grove, I actually have LTE on my phone!

For the last five days or so, we have had constant fog and rain which means no internet for us. Boo!

Our Friday included hair cuts for kids, shopping for something for Jensen to wear to my brother’s wedding, and grocery shopping. Whew! It’s been busy. Thankfully, I was able to hang out with my favorite people, too.

Have you ever shopped for a seven year old boy? It kind of goes like this: “No, that shirt is too itchy.” Repeat 20x

Anyway, our truck is loaded up with plenty of groceries for the next week or so, and we are getting ready to head to Southern California for the wedding very soon.

Happily scrolling through social media,

Marlie