CB Reads : Swing Time & When Breath Becomes Air

CB Reads Swing Time

This year I’m doing my best to turn off the screen and bury myself in pages as often as possible. I spend so much of my time in front of a computer or a phone screen, and lately sleep has become an issue for me (again, ugh), so reading has become the antidote. I’m attempting to read two or three books a month, and maintaining a mix of fiction and non-fiction.

This past month I read the novel Swing Time by Zadie Smith and the memoir When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Swing Time is the story of two young mixed-race girls who live in a low income project in London. The story is told from the perspective of one of the girls, who remains unnamed throughout the story. It follows them as they grow from young girls in dance class to adult women living very different lives. The story explores race, class, pop-culture, advocacy and “hero” culture and so much more. It’s such a rich, wonderful read.

When Breath Becomes Air was written by 36-year-old neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, after he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. As he transforms from a doctor into a patient, he shares his deepest thoughts about life, death, love and fatherhood. I found myself in tears for much of this short, beautiful book, as it hit very close to home for me. While the loss of Mr. Kalanithi is a tragedy, the words he left behind were extremely comforting to me, and I’m so grateful to him and his family for sharing them with the world.

CB Reads

In addition, my 6-year-old and I have been reading the new, illustrated versions of the Harry Potter books before bed each night. We just finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and we found the illustrated editions to be such a treat! He loves listening to the Harry Potter stories (his sister is obsessed and talks about them all the time, so he likes being in on the fun), but they are quite long, so the addition of the fantastic illustrations by Jim Kay help him enjoy the story and kept his interest throughout the entire book. It took us about a month to read it, but the next one doesn’t come out for a year, so we took our time!

I’m always looking for new book ideas, so if you’ve read something amazing lately, send me a note at megan@crazybananas.com or on Instagram and let me know!

CB Reads : 2017
1. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner
2. Millers Valley by Anna Quindlan
3. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
4. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
6. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
7. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
8. I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi
Up next…Sober Stick Figure and The Hate U Give

Lucy in the Snow 2017

Snow Days and Chasing Slow

Lucy in the Snow 2017

The last few weeks have been short ones around here. We got back to a somewhat normal schedule after the holidays, just to be slammed with more days off of school for the kids than I can count.

Just kidding, I’ve counted. Twice.

Basically with the combination of national holidays and inservice/teacher learning days, we have four-day school weeks from now until mid-February. Which, let’s face it, isn’t ideal. Not only does this make my work schedule difficult, it is hard on the kids as well! It’s almost impossible for any of us to get into a groove when our schedule is all over the place.

When I’m faced with these types of working mom problems, I tend to get extremely over-stressed and anxious. I find myself making lists in my head of everything I won’t be able to do because I won’t have the time. I torture myself by looking at the social media feeds of my competitors and colleagues, seeing all their perfectly lit images and the work they have been doing, and instead of cheering them on, I feel resentful. I worry that I’m falling behind, yet again, and that I’ll never get ahead of the game. I decide that I’m destined to fail, resign myself to my bed with some fuzzy socks, ratty PJs and Netflix. Why bother even trying, right?

WRONG. Because I don’t have to live fast in order to find success, and the whole idea of hustle equating happiness just doesn’t resonate for me anymore. When my kids have a day off school, I enjoy being with them. I like stepping away from the computer and being present as we throw snowballs at each others heads or read books. I don’t feel lazy when I’m in my PJs with them until 11 a.m. I feel happy. Joyful, even!

Tate in the Snow 2017

So why I am I torturing myself? When they were babies and I worked out of the home full time, I felt guilty for missing all these moments. When I started my own business and they were in preschool, I felt guilty because I couldn’t work as much as I wanted to. Now I’m feeling guilty when they have days off elementary school. I keep waiting for the next phase of life, when things slow down, but I’m starting to think that’s NEVER gonna happen. There will always be something pulling me in one direction while another is pushing me the opposite way.

This year I am planning to focus more on being present, but also on listening to my inner self when it comes to my schedule and work. I am finding doubling down on hustle when it comes to work isn’t always resulting in success. Instead, when I focus on doing what feels right in all facets of my life (working, creating, mothering, reading, meditating, eating chocolate, whatever) the success seems to follow. Recently I was fortunate enough to be asked to read the new, beautiful book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner, which really speaks to this topic. Erin chronicles her journey from a fast life, to a slow life and back again…and her conclusions aren’t what I expected. Instead of being a book about slowing down your life, this book was more about the question of why do we believe we have to have any particular sort of life for it to be a happy one? I related so much to her journey, and it made me think twice about my goals. Do I want a fast life? Do I want to be a minimalist? Do I want to disconnect from the internet and live in a yurt? Do I want to move to New York City and take my kids to school on the subway? Do I want neither? Both?

Chasing Slow

Do I have to decide?

Maybe we can just be balancing along the middle…sometimes wanting to throw out everything we own because the clutter is strangling us and other times buying a shirt on sale just because it looked cute online. Who knows? But for now, I can only be where I am. And I am a mom of two kids who are growing into grown-ups faster than I can fathom, so if they have a day off school, I’m probably needed on the front lines of the snowball fight. Afterward, when they are sipping on hot cocoa and fighting over marshmallows, I’ll likely sneak away for a little editing session or to answer a few emails. I’m not perfect, but luckily, no one is.

Lucy in the Snow 2017

If you’re looking for more info on this topic, the podcast “The Lively Show” is an amazing listen. I recommend starting with this episode!

Love Warrior

CB Reads : Love Warrior

A few weeks ago I posted about some things in my life that were making me happy, and included in the list was the incredible new book by Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior. I finished the book a few days ago, and I wanted to share a few of my thoughts.

Now, first of all, yes, this is a book about marriage. Except it’s SO MUCH MORE than just that. I think this book applies to anyone, anywhere who has ever loved or been loved. And in turn, anyone who has ever been hurt. Which, let’s get real, is everyone, everywhere! One of the biggest takeaways of this book for me was the idea that a love lost is not wasted. Grief is not just a sadness…instead, Glennon shares her idea that grief itself is PROOF that we have loved, and loved well.

Love Warrior

For those of you who are fans of Glennon’s website Momastery and her first book, Carry On, Warrior, this book might be a bit more intense than what you’ve seen before from Glennon. Which is saying something, because she’s usually very open! But this book goes even deeper, and really explores the anger that we experience as women when our trust is broken. It also investigates and puts a spotlight how the world receives a woman’s anger. In the end, it’s the anger that really forces Glennon to look further into herself than ever before, and helps her not only heal her newer wounds, but years of trauma, which started when she was a little girl.

But here’s the thing…Love Warrior is FUNNY! Like, I was laughing out loud reading certain passages. How can a book about infidelity, faith, love, anger and healing be funny? Well, that’s the gift you guys. Because if this book was too heavy, I don’t know if I could have made it through. Humor is how I work through the really difficult questions in my own life, and I’m so grateful that Glennon did the same, because it made her story even more familiar to me.

After reading Love Warrior, I feel more empowered to continue to heal myself and work toward closer relationships with all of my life’s loves…my husband, my children, my family and my friends. This book is truly a gift.

If you are looking for more Glennon in your life, I love this podcast interview with her…and also this one (although there is definitely some saucy language here, so make sure you’ve got your headphones plugged in at work before you hit play!).

Making Me Happy

A Few Happy Things

Okay, friends…it’s been a hard, long, exhausting few weeks around here. When things get hard, that’s when I used to reach for unhealthy solutions to make all the bad feelings go away, but in the last few years I’ve made it my MISSION to find better ways to cope. Some of these things have been ongoing (exercise, eating better, watching dumb TV, therapy, recovery meetings, etc.), but since the last few months have provided new and unique challenges, I’ve found myself more mindful of things that are making me happy. It’s just how things work, isn’t it? When life is all happy frappy, you don’t necessarily notice the little things that make you smile. But when life is a bit darker, the things that light up your day, even if it’s just a little bit, make all the difference.

So here are a few things that have been making me happy lately:

Making Me Happy

1. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton – I have shared my love of Glennon, the brilliant mind behind the Momastery blog, before (remember when I met her and cried and she hugged me?!), so I was more than excited when I heard about her upcoming book Love Warrior. I preordered a signed copy last Spring, and while the official release date is September 6th, I was pleasantly surprised to find it in my mailbox yesterday! I’ve only read a few pages so far, but I’m already engrossed in this memoir. You should absolutely order yours so you can get it next week when it comes out everywhere!

2. My Fake Candy – You guys, I’m a bit of a sweet tooth. I may or may not have bought an entire cherry pie the other day because I was feeling low. And while I definitely think it’s okay to treat yourself and ice cream can help when you’re sad (and it’s a much better choice than alcohol or drugs!), I know myself, and treating feelings with food isn’t usually a good choice (note: USUALLY…there are always ice cream exceptions). So I’ve been looking for a few healthier options for when my sweet tooth is raging, but I know I don’t want to eat a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. These chocolate chip cookie dough Larabars legitimately taste like candy to me, and are my favorite substitute when I am craving sugar. I’m also a huge fan of these wolfberry crisp bars from Young Living, which curb my chocolate craving.

3. LUSH Dream Time Temple Balm – My sweet husband LOVES giving gifts, so he always finds the kids and I little presents when he goes on work trips. When he returned from Las Vegas a few weeks ago, he brought me back a kit of fun bath products and beauty items from the brand LUSH, and this Dream Time Balm is my favorite. You rub a little on your temples right before bed, and all of a sudden your bedroom feels like spa!

4. Mai Tai Spritzer from Drybar – Okay, I’m not gonna lie…the other day I was feeling depressed and decided to go wander the mall. Is this healthy? Probably not, but I am not much of a shopper, so I figured it would be alright to do it once. Anyway, I found myself in Sephora with the goal of “finding something that makes me happy.” This sea salt spray for my hair was the winner! It smells like summer and heaven, and every time I put it on my mood elevates. #worthit

What’s making you happy right now? I need a few more things to add to my arsenal! All suggestions are welcome! If you need me, I’ll be over here eating ice cream Larabars…

CB Reads : Library Pressure and Meeting a Warrior

In the last few years, my reading schedule has been either feast or total famine. If you ask me, “Read any good books lately?” I will probably either rattle off five books I read in the last month or I’ll look at you with a blank stare for a few minutes while I try to remember the last time I picked up anything with actual pages with words on them. The biggest motivator for me lately has been an institution that certainly isn’t new…the public library! Instead of buying new books, I’ve gotten into the habit of requesting them from the library, and since many are in demand, it takes a while before I reach the front of the list. Then, once I have the book in hand, I only have a few short weeks to finish it before it’s due! Nothing like the pressure of paying a surly librarian a late fee to get me turning pages!

CB Reads

Here are a few books I’ve finished since January 1 (and yes, I totally have a late fee on my library card right now…one thing at a time, friends!):

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Now I’ll admit, I was a kid when the movie version of this book came out, and I remember my mother loving it…which of course meant that I hated it! Kids are fun. Anyway, I saw this novel on a list of favorites by another blogger, and I figured I’d give it a shot. It was so much more than I expected, and though the subject matter was heavy, I couldn’t put it down. The language and scenery drew me in, and I was totally enthralled. I highly recommend this one, it’s a total classic.

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton


I’ve written about this book before, but just this past month I was lucky enough to hear the author speak and was also able to meet her in person. My goodness, what an experience! Glennon’s blog Momastery and this book carried me through my early days in recovery (this post in particular, which is also included in her book), and I can’t describe what an honor it was to meet her, thank her and hug her. This is a book for anyone struggling with hardship in their lives, especially if they want to laugh again.

Confessions: The Private School Murders by James Patterson

Now, this book called my name from the YA shelf at the library, and while it’s not winning a Pulitzer anytime soon, it was still dishy fun! It’s a quick and easy read, despite it’s length, and I really enjoyed it. The story centers around a wealthy teenager who is also a amateur private detective, and a series of murders happening among her wealthy New York friends. There are several backstory mysteries as well, and the whole thing kept my attention, even if it was a bit predictable.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I’ve had this book on hold for months, so I was super excited when it finally came through! This story of a woman who witnesses a crime from a train car is non-stop action. I found myself finishing this book during one of our snowed in days early in the year, tucked in front of a fire, swatting at the children to leave me alone so I could finish! It’s an intense thriller (which is usually not my favorite), but the human stories that are built in to the story line are as interesting as the main mystery.

What have you been reading lately? I’m in the middle of All the Light We Cannot See, and I’m having a bit of trouble getting into it, even though it’s good.

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