Book Review: Attachment Theory by Thais Gibson

In spite of all the focus on love languages, I highly recommend this book as a more relevant guide or at least dual companion in regards to relationships. Understanding the ways in which those around us attach, the pain that may linger from past pain in attachment, and the best way to accomodate in relationships is a critical component. Gibson does a wonderful job of explaining in a very straightforward way how different attachment styles act, react, and interact. Complete with a self-test and clues to understand a partner, friend or loved one’s style allows for a well-guided tool applicable to now. Beyond understanding the attachment styles of others, learning our own needs brings awareness and resolution to many of the conflicting scenarios we find ourselves in.

Book Review: Burnout to Breakthrough

This book seemed to come a bit too late for my own life, but one that is insightful and powerful. The self-reflection and encouragement in this book is empowering for even the most burnt out caretaker or career person. Laden with enjoyable and memorable quotes and jingles, McDargh allows us to slow down and appreciate that there is more to life than whatever it is keeping us busy. Taking action backed by science, McDargh recommends a clear redistribution of energy to the places we need it – steering clear of the term balance. Overall, I felt this book lacked a clear formula for breakthrough. It seemed to be without a clear strategy and focused each reader on reflection instead. Emphasizing coming up with a personal plan that works for each individual, this book is not a quick fix for those already in a hypervigilant state of crisis due to burnout.

It is finally here, Crutchprints in the Sand’s Chest of Timeless Treasures!

It is finally here, Crutchprints in the Sand’s Chest of Timeless Treasures! A wonderful paperback book with articles, full color photos, and more is available for purchase on Amazon. Click here to buy yours today!

This collection of timeless treasures encapsulates the love, laughter, faith, and hardships of life as a disabled woman. An amputee since the age of four, Ashly tells story after story of her adventures and adaptations to life through individual articles. Inspiring, hilarious, and stirring, this treasure chest will enrich the life of the reader in unexpected ways. Her gift for storytelling and relaying messages of hope and heart are reflected in each chapter.Ashly survived osteosarcoma cancer at the age of four and remains a high-level amputee of her right leg. Over the years, Ashly learned the way humor armed herself to accomplish the impossible tasks of life, while disarming those around her that are uncomfortable with a disability. Using that humor and faith as a bridge of connectivity, Ashly inspires everyone she meets with her positivism, humor, and kindness. This treasure chest is broken into four sections: Articles from Ashly’s unique journey, Humorous stories, Poetry, and Relational articles highlighting connectivity. Each section includes stories unique to the perspective of living with limitations. while managing to ‘dream despite disability’ as her website states. Ashly P. Ash lives in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. A cancer survivor and an amputee, Ashly is the face behind Crutchprints in the Sand, a blog for humor and inspirational posts. Ashly works to bring awareness and advocacy to and for the differently abled through social platforms, speaking engagements, and writing.

*Due to the high cost of publishing, there is also a Kindle version available free to those that are a part of the Kindle Unlimited plan, and a lower cost e-book offered as well. Regardless of how you do it, take the time to enjoy this collection.

Book Review: The Herd by Andrea Bartz

When one of their best friends goes missing her friends are left picking up the pieces of her business and life, while trying to understand where their powerful and beautiful friend has gone. This mystery keeps the audience guessing the whole way through, and an ending that brings surprise if not complete shock. There is something in this for every woman: friendships, love, female leads, murder, and sisterhood. This was part of the April 2020 Once Upon a Book Club box containing corresponding gifts with the characters and theme in the book. Most ends were tied, readers are pleasantly satisfied, and this novel was a safe bet for the author. If you like chick flicks, mysteries, and girlfriends this is the book for you!

Book Review: Stories We Never Told by Sonja Yoerg

Yoerg does an outstanding job of revealing the blind spots we all have in this work of reflective suspense. Jackie, a doctor of psychology walks through a data breach on her career study. Newly married, she also is forced to reconcile her relationship with her ex boyfriend to her new spouse and we are left wondering if many of the problems are Jackie herself. A suspenseful look at betrayal, obsession, unexpected events, and the inner workings of the mind, this is sure to keep readers engaged.

Book Review: The Last Piece by Imogen Clark

“They had no idea how strong she could be.” Imogen Clark

This is the quote pulled and chosen to accompany the Once Upon a Book Club July 2020 box. Read within twenty-four hours, this book still feels unfinished in spite of the conclusion. Following Cecily as she revisits and explores the secrets of her past, we learn her internal thoughts and conflicts as we connect to the cold reality of social pressures and standards in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Did Cecily make the right choices all those years ago? Is she making the right choices now? A light read and empathetic look into the life of another, this book is sure to grow insight but not guaranteed to satisfy.

Book Review: No One’s Home by D.M. Pulley

This was a wonderful thriller touching on elements of paranormal without abandoning you in the world of fantasy. Pulley manages to capture your attention from beginning to end following the lives of four families through the history of one home and allowing us to piece together an explanation for some present activities. Following all four families did create an element of confusion and I felt some of the character development escalated a bit too quickly. I read this in the fall and found that this is a book to cozy up with and enjoy! The feature of Once Upon A Book Club’s October 2019 box, the gifts eerily matched the themes and characters in a way that permanently brought this book into my life.

Book Review: The Girl Beneath the Sea by Andrew Mayne

I started reading this on the beach and found myself struggling to be drawn in. Mayne’s characters are well developed, and the plot moves forward at a good pace, but I can’t help feeling like something is lacking. The characters are all clever and the audience is particularly prone to enjoy Sloan and her ambition to resolve the myriad of conflict from her family history, her profession, her relationships, and a murder at hand. The book leaves me wondering if this is ‘book two’ in a sequel and I am missing a foundation for the character’s stories, and it ends without many of the loose ends wrapped up that I am accustomed o as a reader. One of the best-selling authors on Amazon, I will likely give Mayne another shot to see what I am missing.

Mountains and Valleys of Mobility

Like most people with disabilities, I struggle with the highs and lows of the roller coaster ride I am on. I want to enjoy life and not let things stop me. “Good for you,” strangers pointed out to me yesterday on a small trail in Trough Creek State Park. Yet today, when I tried to get out of bed, I couldn’t. I sat with tears in my eyes and talked to myself about how it could be worse, how I could be worse off, how others have it worse.  I sobbed right through my whole inner-motivational-speech half hating the part of me that wouldn’t let me wallow. It is hard. My mom often points out to me that I am what she calls an in-between disabled person and that is one reason things are such a struggle for me. Yes, I am missing a limb and on crutches or in a wheelchair full time, but I am also able to do exceedingly well for someone in my situation. I am not content to sit back and let others take care of me, nor do I want to miss out on the adventures life sends my way. This predicament puts me in a unique niche as an in-between disabled person. Not helpless, not fully able. The price for partaking in life’s adventures often results in days like today where I am bedridden or bound to a wheelchair and unable to leave the house or mobilize myself at all.

And what of it? It is the low point of the emotional roller coaster of being disabled. If being able to climb the side of a mountain is a high point, the next four days of incapacitation will be the valley and pit of depression. In my mind it is so hard to reconcile the dissonance of the toggle, able/disabled, on a day to day or sometimes hour by hour basis. The emotional ride is exhausting and the irrationality of my reality can be costly. Yesterday, I could cook and serve a meal, take a short mountain hike, pack up everything from our trip, drive three hours home, pick up our pets, and carry my backpack of clothes in the house. Today, I cannot lift my tea kettle to pour myself a cup of tea. How can a person navigate these extremities on a daily basis without it taking a toll emotionally?

The first thought that I have, which many other disabled people share, is to simply stop doing things that are hard for me. I didn’t have to do the trek back to see the waterfall yesterday. I didn’t have to walk from the camper to the water several times with the children on Sunday, and I didn’t have to walk around the town of Bedford on Monday. If I hadn’t done those things, I would have maintained a relatively stable level of ability. But at what cost? What is the point of pushing through life without doing the things we don’t have to do? Should I have remained in the hotel room when others enjoyed the small town? Should I have been content only with pictures of the waterfall and sat in the car? Should I perhaps not follow the children and partake in their adventures but satisfy myself only in their stories of fun? The truth is relative in this situation. For me, I survived cancer to live and enjoy life and the fullness of it. Unfortunately, that means embracing these highs and lows along with it.

I am careful here not to produce scripture that I have turned to in these situations as a type of justification for my choice to be an active disabled person. As mentioned, the truth is relative in this situation and there is nothing in the bible that fully vests an interest in me being active and then unable to move because of it. The bible is full of encouragement for me as well as for those that choose to live in a more restrained manner . However, I feel one of my purposes on earth is to suffer well and be an inspiration to others through that suffering. It is not the case for everyone, and many would choose to play it safe and not push themselves to experience life at the expense of their body and comfort.

This particular morning, I sat skimming Facebook for a distraction through glassy, tear-filled eyes. I stumbled across one quote followed by another, the connection between the two was made by a wise friend: 

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. Helen Keller

Either you reach a higher point today, or you exercise your strength in order to be able to climb higher tomorrow. Friedrich Nietzsche

Personally, I am not sure how Nietzsche could make a statement like that in light of nihilism, but that isn’t the point of discussion here. The point is, I saw the principles in these two quotes, and embraced them. If anyone would know the ups and downs of disabled life and the emotional toll of it, wouldn’t Helen Keller? The excitement of learning and exploring as she was led about one day only to sit in the silence and darkness the very next, would certainly be taxing. Frustrating, to say the least. Yet, Helen maintained her inspiration and increased wisdom in all she did. I’m sure, no I’m positive, that she cried and had days like I have. But I love that it didn’t stop her either. She wasn’t content with allowing the world to be interpreted to her as others experienced things. Instead, she dove right in and chose to experience them herself.

Yes, living a fairly stable and mediocre life devoid of action or adventure would produce the most consistent and predictable outcome for me and my body. But will I truly grow, allow my soul to be strengthened, my ambition to be inspired, and my successes achieved by choosing such a modest lifestyle? Will I be content in knowing that I chose to not experience and embrace the fullness of the mountains God offers simply because I don’t want to embrace the valleys? The answer for me is a resounding no. I shall continue to push myself to reasonable limits, and enjoy the fullness of life. I’ll plan and enjoy one day at the expense of a few bad days; and I’ll abstain from things I truly want to do in order to save up my body for something I would love to do. One day, when I can no longer do these things and am stuck permanently in a wheelchair with limited ability, I will think back over my life and these memories. In that time, I am most certain that I will have more to reflect on than if I play it safe now while others partake in the adventures for me. Physical strife and emotional taxation are the price to be paid, and I am determined to pay it (within reason) while handling these trials and sufferings with the utmost integrity and honor.

Even bedridden today, I can experience and strengthen for tomorrow. I shall read and experience adventure through books, while healing my body to resume mobility. I may possibly play the piano and make music for the Lord to enjoy. If my hands hold up I can continue crocheting a blanket I plan to bless someone with. Writing via talk-to-text has already happened in this article today, and I can practice mindfulness and intercession as well. These down days will not be wasted days, no matter how low the valley I find myself in. All things are for the betterment of Christ’s purposes and I only hope to continue living up to that in the years to come.

Book Review: Little Creeping Things by Chelsea Ichaso

When Cassidy accidentally started a fire as a child, she loses her best friend. Taunted as ‘fire girl’ in her small town, she never seems to escape the reputation of tragedy and blame. When her archenemy goes missing, it is up to Cassidy to search and prove she is not guilty, in spite of all evidence. The conflict in this book is mastered by Ichaso as issues of trust, knowing one’s own mind, and the intricacies of relationships are explored. This quick and well-paced read is perfect for light summer reading or fall devouring. Not one to venture into the arena of young adult fiction frequently, I am proud to say that this book managed to defy the norm and be an enjoyable read.