Leather Chair Reading! Fiercehearted!

Leather Chair Reading!  Fiercehearted!

There’s nothing better, in my opinion, than a good book that celebrates everything that makes women unique!  So as we celebrate this month of Valentine’s, let’s not forget to acknowledge our own goodness and embrace life, love and faith…so that we might live fully and love bravely!

“We lose ourselves in books, but we can find ourselves in them too!”  Tribute Journal

Fiercehearted  by Holly Gerth

January always seems to be a cold, hazy blur…so when February arrives, I need that proverbial “shot in the arm” so to speak, that picks me up out of the winter doldrums and gives me a little motivating gumption–and this book does it in spades.

“Every day we struggle to find more freedom, joy and purpose.  What if the solution isn’t trying harder or being better, but embracing the fiercehearted woman we each have inside us already!”  Holley Gerth

This book is like having a thoughtful conversation with a good friend where you aren’t afraid to be yourself–or even be a little vulnerable.  While in a perfect world, we’d all like to be on our best behavior and share only the good things we like about ourselves…if we’re completely honest, it’s nice to be able to let our hair down on occasion and expose a few weaknesses, then discuss ways we can capitalize on those shortcomings and ultimately make them work in our favor with someone we can trust.  In this book, Holley Gerth, is that understanding confidant who accepts things as they are, but outlines some critical notions that have helped her better navigate the journey of her struggles to make life less messy and complicated.

A Fiercehearted Woman…

Trusts her heart!  One of the things I love about this book is that each chapter begins with a quote from a fellow female author.  Ms. Gerth also writes each chapter so that they seem like they’re a collection of loosely connected thoughts covering an assortment of topics from prayer and child-like faith to dealing with the inner conflict that comes from trying to meet all your obligations.  The powerful concepts presented in this book suggest that perhaps the solution to living more fully isn’t necessarily in trying harder or being better, but rather, by simply striving to be more in tune with the strengths of the “fiercehearted” woman that is inside each of us already!

“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?  Mary Oliver

Lives a good story!   If you’ve ever caught yourself looking at someone else and thinking—oh man, why can’t I have their perfect life…Chapter 9 titled, “On The Shelf” is the perfect antidote for lifting you out of that mindset!  Ms. Gerth tells how she will often go to her local library to be inspired when writing.  One day while sitting surrounded by endless shelves of books that covered a myriad of topics from love and war to mysteries and memoirs, an analogy came to mind that gave her a new perspective on how to live her life more fully.

“In this world of options and opportunity, we believe that somehow we should pick any and all of them.  If you think about it though, instead of living fully in the reality of our own lives, we often find ourselves lost on the pages of ‘what might have been’ or ‘what could be’ –we catch ourselves wanting to live someone else’s story; a book with a more exciting cover and brilliant reviews from our peers.”

She goes on to suggest that when we really take a good look around us, we quickly realize that while many of the details are different, in many ways our stories are very similar…and we should begin to see our stories for what they are–unique, glory-filled, flawed works of art.  “We need to find the courage to stand by each other and be comfortable as we live our own stories.  Like my mom always used to tell me, instead of comparing ourselves with others, let’s celebrate one another and show more understanding and compassion as we all try to do our best.  To be certain, our lives seem to take on a magical quality when we stop comparing our lives to those we perceive as having more, and instead begin to intentionally appreciate all that we are blessed to have!

“Let’s be the heroines in our own wild, imperfect, glorious stories.  Never understudies for someone else’s.”  Holley Gerth

Has grit and gumption!  It’s my belief that despite our fears, we can still be brave, courageous and successful; everyone experiences fear and doubt in their lives, it’s what we choose to do with that fear that determines our course in life.  I love that Ms. Gerth points out that we’re rarely given the perfect conditions to forge ahead with our dreams and aspirations.

“Yes, our talents, education and preparation can be helpful tools, but they are not as helpful as flat-out grit.”

Ultimately, we need to have faith in ourselves so we can put one foot in front of the other and have enough gumption and stamina to not quit.  I believe it’s normal to be a little afraid; it’s learning to not let it control or defeat us–or even paralyze us into never doing the hard work that it takes to live fully and love bravely.  Failure seems to have a way of tempting us to think that we are foolish and presumptuous to keep on trying.  But as this wise author points out, “…when we do what is life-giving, worthwhile and beautiful, we are sure to face a certain amount of resistance.”  Like Ms Gerth, at the end of my days, I want completion and contentment not perfection.  When I come to heaven’s doorstep, I want to be sweaty and tired from giving my very best effort!This is just a small glimpse into a powerful and encouraging book that shows us how to better savor our lives in a world that can sometimes leave us feeling unsure about ourselves.  In the end…this book not only spoke to my heart and made it stronger–it made it grow in countless ways too…and that, my friends, is what a good book is all about!

“It’s never too late for a happily ever after.”  Lovelle Gerth-Meyers

A Fiercehearted Woman Manifesto!

This is an adaptation of an outpouring of Ms. Gerth’s heart during a particularly trying period in her life.  Lucky for us, her healing process gives us a step up when we are navigating a difficult time.

Get a free download file HERE.

Have you read any great books lately that really spoke to your heart and made you feel stronger?


Leather Chair Reading! Books That Challenge Your Heart!

Leather Chair Reading!  Books That Challenge Your Heart!

I think we all love books where we can get lost in the fictional journeys of wonderful love stories and happy endings…but sometimes it’s good to read books that create thought-provoking insights and challenge our core beliefs, our fears and our daily routines.

"Leather Chair Reading" Books that inspire you to live better. www.mytributejournal.com

“Challenge your fears… find your potential!”  Bishop T. D. Jakes

Small Great Things  by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things book.

This book hit close to home for me, since it is about a nurse on a maternity/NICU unit.  I’d actually seen some of my co-workers reading this book over the last few years and was intrigued, but once I found out it was about a nurse and her legal wranglings for something she wasn’t guilty of, I decided the subject matter seemed a little too real, so to speak, and that reading this book might invite bad karma!?  But then, as luck would have it, I mentored a nursing student one day who convinced me that the varied and fascinating layers of the plot line would make reading this book well worth my time…and boy, was she right!

The brief summary on inside the cover flap of the book is enough to leave you on the edge of your seat…and believe me, every nail-biting chapter leaves you deeply riveted to the story being told.  Small Great Things, takes on contemporary issues that are prevalent in society today, and as a nurse, I couldn’t help but ask myself how I would have handled things if faced with some of the same circumstances!

“Ruth Jackson was a maternity nurse with more than twenty years experience.  During one of her shifts, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’d been reassigned to another patient.  The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, an African American, to touch their child.  The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery.  Does she obey the orders or does she intervene?”

Leather Chair Reading! Books That Challenge Your Heart!

I love that each section of the book is named after a different stage of labor; a nod to the character’s profession…and the rebirth, of sorts, that each character goes through during the course of this complex, but incredible story! 

Jodi Picoult tackles a myriad of tough subject matters from privilege and prejudice to justice and compassion in this novel.  At the end of the book, she also outlines how she did extensive research with a cross-section of people and communities represented in this profound story that is based on true events about a woman in Flint, Michigan, who really faced many of the scenarios detailed in this book.  Although, a little uncomfortable to read about sometimes, the author doesn’t offer easy answers to some of the age-old conflicts and inner turmoil that many people, even in this day and age, are still trying to fully grasp and find the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we can all do small things in a great way!

Martin Luther King Jr. quote.

The author references this quote in her book, explaining that any good we do, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can have lasting repercussions.

A Shot Guide To A Long Life  by David B. Angus, MD

Leather Chair Reading! Books that Challenge Your Heart!

A Short Guide To A Long Life, may be  small in size, but contains simple and powerful guidelines on how to greatly improve the quality of life, at least as far as living more healthy is concerned…and in a literal sense, challenges habits we might have that keep us from living with optimal health.  I like that it is a handy guide of common sense practices that can help us develop new patterns of personal health care using mostly inexpensive and accessible tools that are based on the latest and most reliable research–you’ll find yourself referring to it often.  I especially like that the overall focus of this book is that we should all be better at taking charge of our health and wellbeing and that the code of conduct for physicians should be that of practicing preventative medicine!

“I want doctors to treat towards health…and not treat towards disease.”  Dr. David B. Agus

The book is cleverly divided into three concise and easy to understand sections…  1) What To Do  2) What To Avoid and 3) Doctor’s Orders –Dr. Agus believes as I do, that the more concise and doable healthy guidelines are, the more we’re apt to follow through with them.  Having worked in the healthcare profession for many years, I find this approach very refreshing!

"A Short Guide To A Long Life" by Dr. David B. Agus

Each chapter has memorable titles, (ie. “Get Naked”, “Get Off Your Butt More” and “Eat Real Food” to name just a few.) simple pencil drawings, and some questions your doctor should ask you so he can personalize your health care based on your physiology, genetics, value system and individual circumstances.  Dr. Agus also strongly suggests that…..

“If your physician treats you like a textbook patient…it just might be time to make a change!”      

I found the last chapter, Doctor’s Orders, which gives a decade by decade list of things you should routinely do to create a good health plan for yourself, especially helpful.  As with any recommendations found in this book, they are based on scientific research and follow the generally accepted guidelines in the medical community, but if you are experiencing symptoms or concerns that are not within the realm of “normal” for you–be sure to consult your personal physician as soon as possible.  I also love the Health Lists compiled at the end of the book–they are the ultimate “cheat sheet” that will help you remember key facts, rules and ideas, regardless of your age, for making healthy living a lifelong quest…including, Top 10 Actions to Reduce Your Risk for IllnessTop 10 Things to Help Educate Kids About Health and Wellness, Popular Weight Loss Myths, and Top 10 Most Useful Health and Medicine Websites.

Take care of your body quote.

This book will motivate you to take a good look at the overall health habits you have in place and what ones you might need to adjust to live even better.  It will also help you realize once and for all, to find a doctor who is invested in your health and who finds it not only his responsibility, but his privilege to help educate and care for your overall wellbeing…one who holds you accountable by asking all the hard questions. Helathcare cartoon.

I love the final bit of advice Dr. Agus gives…

“Don’t make living healthy too complicated…live your life, just try to live it better every day!”

Personal growth quote!

Have you read any good books lately that really touched your heart and helped you grow personally or challenged any bad health habits?

Here’s to happy hearts and healthy living! 

Love, Mary

Leather Chair Reading! Cozy January Books!

Leather Chair Reading!  Cozy January Books!

After all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, January seems like the perfect time to get cozy by the fireplace and relax with a good book on those cold, winter evenings!

"Leather Chair Reading" Books that inspire you to live better. www.mytributejournal.com

In our family, we still love giving and receiving good books for Christmas gifts…it gives us something to look forward to come January when the weather is bleak and schedules are a little less hectic.

Leather Chair Reading! Cozy January Books!

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”  Garrison Keillor

Here are a few cozy January books I highly recommend!

Prayers For Sale  by Sandra Dallas

Leather Chair Reading! Cozy January Books!

In all the many books I’ve read over the years, there’s only a handful that I can honestly say I couldn’t put down…this book was one of them!  Much of the story takes place in the mountain mining town of Middle Swan, Colorado–so getting cozy under a big quilt or a warm afghan is a necessity as you read about the cold, harsh winters the people endured there as they worked hard to eek out a living under brutal weather and living conditions.  The story takes place in 1936 when the great depression has ravaged the country and jobs are scarce.  The main character, Hennie Comfort, befriends seventeen year old Nit Spindle and her husband, who have come to find work in Middle Swan.  Hennie and Nit create an instant bond over their shared love of quilting, as well as the deep heartache both have suffered from having lost a child.  Hennie doesn’t sell prayers, not really, but her wise nature and deep commitment to helping the people of her community seems to make them believe that she is more in tune with a higher power than most.  I think one of the main reasons I loved this book so much was because Hennie’s resilient spirit reminded me of my maternal grandmother, who raised my mother and her six brothers, mostly on her own, since my grandfather traveled often, and for extended periods of time for work with his insurance business.  Hennie Comfort and women like her, have a work ethic and common sense approach to life that can’t help but inspire you to be a more selfless and loving person.  This book shows you that friendships truly have no boundaries if you sincerely care about each other.

"Prayers For Sale" by Sandra Dallas

How To Find Love In A Book Shop  by Veronica Henry

Leather Chair Reading! Cozy January Books!

A wonderful friend recommended this book for our neighborhood book club…and what a treat!  The title and cover art alone make you want to go find a cozy spot and get lost in the pages of this fun book!  One review of this book states that, “…it is a delightful story of a bookshop, its devoted new owner, its loyal customers, and the power of books to heal the heart.” —and indeed it is that, and more.  In fact, as you can imagine, some of the best stories aren’t told within the books sold, but rather from the customers themselves that frequent the Nightingale Book Shop.  Although Emilia gave a deathbed promise to her father to keep his beloved book shop open, where he fell in love with her mother, she faces some of the same dilemmas many small business owners face today…that of keeping things afloat while big property developers put undue pressure on her to sell out to large company conglomerates.  Compounding the fate of the book shop even further, is the tremendous debt her father had accrued before he died.  Even though there are a lively cast of characters, (and I loved them all) who create several storylines…from the introverted but sweet chef, Thomasina, who came on Tuesday afternoons to browse the cookery books, to Sarah, the owner of Peasebrook Manor, who used the escape that a good book provides to hide a special secret of the heart…the author is an amazing storyteller and develops each one in a compelling and heartwarming way.  It’s truly an enchanting story of the power of community–and books!  It’s a cozy January “must read”!

Leather Chair Reading! Cozy January Books!

“A town without a little book shop…is a town without a heart.”  Nightingale Book Shop owner, Julius, in “How To Find Love In A Book Shop”

Number The Stars  by Lois Lowry

"Number The Stars" by Lois Lowry

I read this gem years ago with my kids when they were in elementary school, but when my oldest granddaughter received this book for Christmas, I rummaged through my bookcases to find it and read it again.  Lois Lowry has written many wonderful children’s books, but this one is by far my favorite!

The story told in this book is based on historical fiction and the events that took place in 1943 during World War II, when thousands of Danish Jews were helped to escape to the neutral country of  Sweden in order to avoid being relocated to concentration camps by the German Nazi’s.  The book centers around the Annemarie Johansen and her family, who risk their lives to help Annemarie’s Jewish friend, Ellen Rosen, by pretending she is their late daughter, Lise, who had died earlier in the war.  The author states that the book’s title is from a reference in Psalms 147:3-4, where God states that he has numbered all the stars and has named each one of them…which seems befitting since so many innocent lives were lost due to the treacheries of this war.  It also ties into the special Star of David necklace Ellen wore that becomes a significant symbol of Annemarie’s courage when she breaks it off Ellen’s neck when Nazi soldiers raid the Johansen’s apartment early one morning, thinking they are illegally harboring the Rosen family.

"Number The Stars" book quote.

This novel received the Newbery Medal Award in 1990, which is given to a distinguished contribution to American literature for children.  One award reviewer stated, “Like the main character, Annemarie, young readers are protected from the full implication of the horrendous events of World War II, but will get caught up in the suspense of her courageous run as courier on the night of the family’s escape from Copenhagen.”  I also read where Lois Lowry traveled to Denmark to do research and conduct interviews for the book, and took the photo of the girl on the cover shown above that was used on many editions of the book.  If they haven’t heard about it already, introduce your children to this book and read it with them; they will surely develop a deeper appreciation for the freedoms they enjoy today due to the sacrifices of those who lived before them–including many children!

In this day and age, it seems more important than ever before to turn off the distractions of our TV’s and technical devices for a while, and pick up a good book.  I hope you’ll find the ones I’ve listed here as enjoyable as I did.

Open a good book quote.

What are some good books you’re reading now that we could add to the cozy January book list?

–Love, Mary