Books I've Read

Books I read in January 2018

Looking for your next literary escapade? Consider the following tomes that captured my attention over the last month:

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson


Thoughts: In my humble opinion, Brandon Sanderson is the best fantasy writer out there today. He is a master world-builder. Book 3 of the Stormlight Archive absolutely lives up to the excellence of the previous two books.  The thing I like most is that while you are drawn into an insanely detailed world full of complicated politics and settings, the character development is off the charts. In this book,  all of the major players are forced to look inside themselves and face who they truly are. Can they live with that person? Will they run from the truths that they find or embrace them? This recurring theme plays out in a variety of ways, all of them poignant and thought provoking. Loved, loved, loved the book!

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare


Thoughts: A delightful Middle-Grade Fantasy. Although I didn’t find a lot of originality in the plot of this book, I didn’t really care. It gave me the familiar cozy feeling of wearing an old sweatshirt. It might not be new, but I still really enjoy wearing it; or reading it in this case.  And I found the prose of the book to be excellent. The characters were engaging, the magic pulsed, and I happily joined in the adventure.


Thoughts, Wednesday Wisdom

Go With Gusto

Several years ago, I was watching a game show on tv and this little old woman came on. She must have been in her eighties, but she exuded energy and vitality like you wouldn’t believe. The host of the show asked her where she got her enthusiasm, and I’ll never forget her reply. She said she lived by the motto, “Go With Gusto” and that if you did anything in life, you should do it wholeheartedly.  The exchange only lasted a few moments but it really changed my life.

Because I’m a nerd and love any excuse to use a dictionary, here’s the lowdown on the #wordoftheday. Gusto is defined as great enjoyment, energy, and enthusiasm, and you will often see it next to words like relish, delight, and exhilaration. The first known use of the word was back in 1620.  So people have been #GoingWithGusto for almost 400 years!

Let’s think about that for a second. How much gusto have you shown in just the last 4 hours? If you’re like me, probably not enough. It’s so easy to get caught up in the routine of life. We often forget or don’t see the little miracles that surround us daily. We need to fight complacency with all we’ve got and delight in the wonder of everyday moments. I get a small heart pang every time I look outside and see my gorgeous Utah mountains, or when I hear someone laugh, or when my dog jumps into my lap for a cuddle. It’s so important to take the time to recognize these special moments.

Another aspect of “Going with Gusto” is saying yes to opportunities that come your way. Life has a way of throwing curve balls and changing your plans, but usually, if you are flexible, the outcome is far better than what you expected.

For instance, a while back my brother and sister-in-law offered me the chance to go to with them and see Imagine Dragons.  I got the call in the middle of a hair appointment and wasn’t sure I’d be available to go. The concert would start soon and I felt pretty tired. But I thought to myself, opportunities like this don’t come around too often. So I went and I had a blast. I got to see a band that I like and the energy in the crowd made me forget my exhaustion for a while. Think of what I might have missed if I had chosen to go home and watch Netflix.

Opportunities come in all sizes and the choice might not always be as exciting as a concert. Maybe someone just invites you to go for a walk with them or to go get an ice-cream. Maybe you take the initiative and invite someone else. Follow Nike’s advice and, “Just do it,” because it is in the act of doing that makes life an adventure. But not just going through the motions, by going with gusto and a lust to truly enjoy the experience.

There’s a great smidge of a poem by Benjamin Franklin that I’d like to end with today:

Mr. Meant-To has a comrade, And his name is Didn’t Do;
Have you ever chanced to meet them? Did they ever call on you?
These two fellows live together In the house of Never-Win,
And I’m told that it is haunted By the ghost of Might-Have-Been.

Don’t go through life like Mr. Meant-To. Be proactive and “Go With Gusto”. Or in other words, “Live the Vibrant Life!”

Thoughts, Wednesday Wisdom

Finding Forgotten Joys

A few months ago, I was astonished to find my old clarinet buried under a bunch of afghans in our blanket closet.(Yes, I was a band geek in high school. Props to all the rest of you out there.) Anyway, I thought my clarinet had been lost in a house fire back in 2006, so this discovery thrilled me.

Then doubt started to settle in. I graduated high school in 2004, and by that time I had more interest in playing guitar. I literally hadn’t touched a clarinet in over 13 years. Would I be capable of making music with this relic from my past?

So I bought some new reeds and a tube of cork grease. I assembled the horn, and I googled some sheet music from my favorite Disney songs. Bam! Music began flowing out of the ancient instrument like water.  Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely rusty and made mistakes. But like little soldiers, my fingers still remembered the positions drilled into them from years before. I didn’t even squeak that much. And the delight that filled my soul after such a long time is something that I’ll never forget.

People think time travel can only be found in Science-Fiction, but it’s a lie. Sitting in my room playing that clarinet transported me back over a decade. It felt like I was having a conversation with myself at sixteen. And I asked myself what in the heck took so long to come back to something I love.

Helen Keller, one of the true heroes of history, wisely taught us that “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” And the great Toni Morrison said, “Something that is loved is never lost.” I’m grateful that this lesson has been reinforced so powerfully in my life recently.

Now, some time has gone by and I’m still playing my old clarinet. It makes me happy. It gets my creative juices flowing. And ironically, picking up an old hobby has filled me with more desire to try new things and be more adventurous. I want to have as many marvelous experiences as possible. I want to love this life and make it a part of me. I want to encourage you to do the same.

So if you’re up for a challenge, try this: take a few minutes to think about the things you have loved most in your life. Are there things that you miss? If so, it’s not too late find them again.  Maybe it’s been awhile since you played a pick-up game of basketball with your friends. Maybe you used to paint, or go to the beach, or fish, or play board games. How long has it been since you read a good book just for fun? Whatever you loved when you were younger, chances are that you will love it still. You may be a little rusty and make some mistakes, but I guarantee that the joy you’ll find will surprise and delight you. So rekindle your old passions, find some new ones, and live the vibrant life.


Hello Goodbye 2017/2018

Well Peeps,

The end of another year is upon us, and I’m not going to lie, this has been a tough one for me. Posts on this blog have been few and far between. I’ve had a lot of personal struggles and haven’t seen as much success in my goals for 2017 as I would have liked, but I’m done licking my wounds and determined to make big changes in this upcoming year. It’s a blessing to have this time to reflect and truly choose to #LiveTheVibrantLife. The future is looking bright!

Here’s a little song to start/end things off in the right way. Best wishes to you and yours and Happy New Year!

Wednesday Wisdom

Embracing Minimalism

Over the last several months, I’ve been re-evaluating my relationship with stuff. I’ve been incredibly blessed in my life to have the things that I need and more. I thank my Heavenly Father for those gifts daily.  But I’ve realized that letting go of some materialistic things can enable me to live life more freely than ever.

I watched a great documentary on Netflix called Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things and it really made me think about the kind of possessions I want in my life.  I’m a sentimental person and I love for the things around me to have meaning. By decluttering my life of things that don’t have much value, I am truly a happier person.

That being said, I’m not an extremist. I stand by the philosophy of a happy medium.  Common sense is the most valuable commodity in the world these days. You need to do what works for you in your own life, and I believe it’s important to be thoughtful when making these kind of decisions.

I’d like to encourage all of us to think about all the stuff in our lives and seriously think about eliminating what isn’t working. Perhaps the flowchart below would be a helpful tool in getting started.

Keep living the vibrant life!