Braving the Wilderness: A Review

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand AloneBraving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Overall, I enjoyed the book. My favorite piece of this particular book was her acronym BRAVING which she uses in each of her Practices chapters, making them a more dimensional and practical. I’ve read Brown before, and this book is similar to her other books, almost a continuation from Rising Strong. But in this book, she addresses the issues of communication in a polarizing culture.
The example that stood out most to me was the conversation she had with a woman about gun control after the Newtown shootings. Brown’s beliefs about the issue were more nuanced than the woman wanted them to be. The woman was looking for an either/or camp. Which side was Brown on? Slight spoiler, Brown was on her own side.
And that’s pretty much what the book is about. How to be patient in listening, not quickly putting people in one camp or the other, being generous and allowing people to have complex thought, not immediately needing to always have an answer, being okay with delaying that answer or hearing more of what the other had to say.
The only criticism I have for the book is that a lot of her values match a lot of my values or at least a lot of my friend’s opinions on social matters, so the book doesn’t seem very off-putting and I am able to get the gist of the content. But, I could see someone else reading this with a more conservative background and having a hard time with the examples. It seemed like only people who did not have a conservative view actually experienced the wilderness, which may not always be the case. I’ve seen instances around me when I’m around my more liberal friends that when a conservative friend speaks up, it’s harder for them in that setting to do so. But I think this content would benefit anyone who is frustrated with the social circles around them, with the lack of healthy communication. Also, I think this book coming out just a few months before the holidays is almost perfect timing.
No matter what “camp” you feel you fit into or don’t fit into, I would highly recommend this book for anyone that needs some encouragement while trying to navigate the very divided country we are living in at the moment. Not only does it give tools to communicate, but also to listen.

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!


Fall TV: First Impressions

I’ve written about the Fall TV line up before, what I’m enjoying and what I’m not so much.  It’s interesting to go back and see what shows I initially enjoyed that I either don’t watch anymore or have been canceled, but it’s also interesting to see the shows that I have continued to watch from the beginning.


I do have limitations to my TV watching.  First, we have a rule of one hour of TV a night.  Second, we don’t have cable.  We haven’t had cable for the majority of our marriage.  We do have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, plus we have an antenna that gets the major broadcast channels.  Between these four things, we have plenty to watch.

We don’t always get to watch things live (or when they are scheduled on broadcast) which is another limitation.  If we miss something that plays on ABC, NBC, or FOX, then we can usually catch it on Hulu the day after.  But CBS is its own animal.  And you have to pay for that separately, which we are not really prepared to do right now.  So, you might notice a lack of the CBS shows in my list below.

So, now that all of that is out of the way, here are my first impressions for Fall 2017.

Good Doctor / Season 1

The Good Doctor (ABC) – Shawn Murphy is a surgical resident at San Jose t. Bonaventure Hospital.  He is also autistic with a savant syndrome.  The story follows him and the rest of the hospital as they navigate through Murphy’s strengths and weaknesses.  So far, the rest of the cast is slightly two dimensional, as they are building the story around this autistic surgeon.  It’s very interesting, however, and I would like to see them dive into some of the attributes of autism like overstimulation.


The Gifted (FOX) – Set in the Xmen Universe, mutants are now on the run from the government, who have deemed them a threat.  A family is caught in the middle when the parents find out that both of their kids have the mutant gene.  The father, a prosecutor who handles mutant cases, is forced to ally himself with the people he has been building a case against.  I’ve only seen the first episode, and if you have watched any of the trailers, you have seen the basic first episode.  The one thing I find interesting is that the family is portrayed as this strong unit, the parents and kids communicate with each other perfectly.  Even though the daughter hides the fact that she is a mutant, when it comes out, she is accepted unconditionally.  I know that they want us rooting for this family, but they just seem too perfect, at least in this first episode.


The Brave (NBC) – Special task force sent behind enemy lines to rescue people who have been kidnapped.  It’s fast-paced and action-packed.  Lots of fight scenes and stuff exploding.  The first two episodes have had some girl power to them, as well.  There is a girl on the combat team (who shares gratitude with the leader in a stakeout scene that she is treated like anyone else).  And the second episode, the kidnapped woman was not a damsel in distress, but someone who could kick some serious butt.


The Orville (FOX) –  Seth MacFarlane (you know, Family Guy) is the captain of a ship on an exploratory mission in space.  At first, I thought this was going to be a parody of Star Trek, and even though there are a lot of obvious homages to The Next Generation especially, it doesn’t feel like a parody.  Sure, there are a lot of funny moments, but there are some serious subject matters as well.  But overall, being a child of the nineties and loving Star Trek: TNG growing up, I really enjoy this show!


Marvel’s Inhumans (ABC) – I haven’t watched the most recent episode yet, but I did watch the two-hour premiere.  It. Was. So. Slow.  I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t watch the last few episodes of last seasons Agents of Shield yet, but I’m struggling to care about these characters.  A lot of the scenes are predictable or even unnecessary (the one of that scientist packing her bags, I just didn’t get it).  Maybe the storyline will pick up, so I’m not giving up on it yet, but I usually drop a show by mid-season, and I feel like this one will be it.  But for now, I’m just there for Lockjaw (the dog).

Of course, I’m also watching The Good Place (NBC), Speechless (ABC), The Goldbergs (ABC), and Modern Family (ABC), as well as Brooklyn 99 (FOX).  All of these shows are returning this season and they are all short sitcom type shows that I really enjoy.

That’s all we are watching this Fall.  I know This is Us (NBC) is a fan favorite, but with my own life stuff, the timing just isn’t great.  Maybe I will binge watch it a couple years from now when this season of life is over.

Are there any shows that you are watching right now, or excited to see?

September Favorites


This month has been so crazy.  The first half was filled with anxiety, and the second half was filled with nausea.  My productivity levels have been low, but I did manage to find a few favorites to share with you.

Over the last year, I have tried a lot of ovulation tests, but the Easy@Home Ovulation Test Kit seems to be the easiest and clearest test of them all.  And they are cheaper than any of the ones I bought in the stores.  Bonus!  This comes with 50 ovulation strips and 20 pregnancy test strips.  The only drawback is that the pregnancy test strips are not early testers.  So they don’t show up as pregnant until after your period has started.  I did have to buy some of those to get the early results.I mentioned this journal in one of my weekly check-in videos, but I really have been impressed with the quality of this Rifle Paper Company Journal.  One of the issues I have with a lot of journals is that the pages will stick together or I will skip over a page layout without knowing. But the pages in this journal are not thin, so it’s easy to see right where you need to be. They are a little more expensive – about 15-20 dollars, but the quality is worth it.

Other than that, the only other things that seem to be favorites this month are the few foods that I am willing to eat and keep down.  Clementines, peanut butter banana smoothies, oatmeal, and eggs are my basic regiment lately.  I have been eating a lot of carbs and fruit, but I know from past experience that this only lasts a little while, about 5-7 more weeks (but who’s counting 😉 ) and then my appetite will be back and I’ll be ready to indulge a little more.

I do have some food aversions, but I think I will save that for this Friday’s vlog!

Do you have any favorites this month?  Any advice on morning sickness?

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to These are all things I have used personally. I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself. Thanks!

Echo: A Review

Echo, Volume 1: Moon Lake by Terry Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven’t read a lot of graphic novels recently, but I enjoyed the Marvel universe when I was a kid, as well as an adult with all of the movies that they put out now. So, when I was looking to begin really getting into the graphic novel genre, I have a friend who is pretty well-versed in all things comics. He suggested this comic.
Terry Moore’s art is absolutely gorgeous. Each frame is detailed and visually beautiful. And the story is pretty interesting as well. It begins with a girl named Annie performing tests on a flying suit for a classified military contractor laboratory. And while doing the test, they shoot her out of the sky. Pieces of her suit fall from the sky over civilian territory, affecting a couple of people, though the one in particular that we follow through the book is Julie. The metal from the suit adheres to Julie’s skin and chest, and the adventure goes from there.
There is some language throughout the book, and some adult themes, but nothing really too extreme. The metal does adhere to her chest, so there are a minimal amount of boob jokes, but overall, the book merely sets the stage for the rest of the series.
I hope to get the next one soon so I can find out what happens to Julie. It’s definitely a great start to getting back into graphic novels!

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

Eleanor and Park: A Review

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started reading this book, I didn’t think it was YA, considering all of the profanity and the adult nature of Eleanor’s situation. Despite those two things, the book was really good. It was crass and uncomfortable, which aptly describes the two main characters. Park and Eleanor didn’t quite fit in at school for different reasons. Park was half Korean in the middle of the mid-west, which made him feel like he stuck out. Eleanor came from a very dysfunctional, abusive family, and she felt like she was huge and fat compared to other girls her age.
I really liked the switching from Eleanor’s perspective to Park’s perspective throughout the chapters. How they viewed each other was quite different than how they viewed themselves, and their place in society.
It was interesting to see the contrast between Park’s parents and Eleanor’s mom and stepdad. Even the difference between how Eleanor viewed life before her parent’s divorce. The relationships were complex, and I didn’t catch on to the mystery of the words written on her cover until it was revealed (which I won’t spoil, but it’s an awful reveal).
For any parents wondering if this would be a good book to read, I would recommend that they read it before giving it to their teen. It definitely deals with some pretty heavy material, but I think it deals with it well.

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!


Of Mess and Moxie: A Review

I wanted to take a minute to recognize today in our nation’s history.  I wrote about my memory of that day and subsequent days to follow here.  My prayers continue to be with those who have lost loved ones to the terroristic actions of others.

Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, to be fair, my personal perspective comes from a place of pregnancy loss and infertility, so anything I read or consume in any way is filtered through that perspective.

Overall, the book is hilarious. I chuckled and straight out laughed out loud at some of the parts of her stories. I’ve never read one of her books before, so this may be consistent with the rest of them, but this book was like sitting down over tea or coffee and chatting with a friend, listening to her tell me stories of her life. It wasn’t really one of those big, life changing, “this is how I’m going to live my life now” kind of books, but it did have moments of motivation and inspiration in it.

However, as from my perspective, there are some uneasy parts to this conversation. Parts that I have no connection to or relatability to. I don’t know what it’s like to raise teenagers or little kids. There was this one little section in one of her How To segments I could have done without (not everyone can relate to the Family Planning joke of “I just held hands with my husband and got pregnant). But if I were to recommend this book to one of my fellow infertility/pregnancy loss sisters, I would say, read the little add on before the acknowledgments first (One More Word As You Go), then read the last chapter (Rewoven), and the chapters We Live and Unbranded. Then, depending on your journey, carefully sift through the rest of the chapters knowing that she is speaking from her life and her journey. It’s not all about babies and kids and teens, but there’s a good chunk of it that is.

Overall, I give it four stars. It’s a funny, light-hearted kind of book that is like a calm, comforting conversation with a dear friend.

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  These are all things I have used personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

August Favorites


I’m not sure what next week will be like, so I wanted to touch on some favorites now instead of the very end of the month.  One of the goals I had this summer was to get on a walking schedule.  One of the things I started doing on these walks was listening to podcasts, so I thought I would share some of my favorites.


Hank and John Green are the Vlogbrothers on YouTube.  Separately, they have their own projects, but the Vlogbrothers channel is where it all started.  Basically, each brother would check in with the other once a week, and it grew into this huge community.  Hank has other channels that promote science and education.  John is a YA author who wrote The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns.  And they have done projects with the Gates Foundation, explained various issues that were in the news, and even do a huge fundraising project at the end of the year.  Oh, and they started VidCon, a YouTube Creator convention that gets bigger every year.

Their podcast is only a few years old, I believe.  I can’t remember when I started listening to them, but Michael and I usually have several episodes ready for long road trips.  They give advice (dubious advice, mind you) to people who write in with questions.  They also talk about the news from Mars and AFC Wimbledon (their interests, respectively).  And they also tout the podcast as a comedy show about death, which it’s not really, but sometimes they do get on the topic of extremely weird ways the world could be destroyed (or not so weird ways, I guess).  It’s hilarious, and it’s two brothers sharing life.  Thumbs up.


I talked about this podcast a bit in my letter to Jen Hatmaker.  So I’m not going to go into great detail about it here.  I am still enjoying it, somewhat, though not every podcast I’ve been able to relate to.  She is in a different life stage than I am and has different priorities.  But for every mom I know, I recommend this one wholeheartedly.

This was a podcast I really just fell into.  After I went through my library of books, changed my office into a library (that I practically live in now), and started reading more this summer, this podcast is perfect.  She talks to some writers but most readers.  In each episode, after getting to know her reader and what that reader likes and doesn’t like, she recommends several books.  There was one podcast this summer where she answered listener questions and did recommendations there too.  Needless to say, I have added several books to my Book-et list from this podcast.


This is not a current podcast.  I believe it ended in June, and I’m not sure if she will do it again next year.  But Shauna Niequist was the first interview for Jen Hatmaker’s podcast, and I absolutely loved it.  So, I went searching for Niequist’s podcast and found this.  I believe it’s a part of Relevant Magazine which is where Niequist writes?  But, the eight interviews that she does are phenomenal.  I also get a lot of book recommendations from this podcast as well.

And last, but definitely not least, The Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin (and her sister Elizabeth Craft).  I really enjoyed the book, The Happiness Project) from this author, and this podcast is basically an extension of that book, plus her other books.  It gives some practical ways to incorporate happiness (or basically organization, relationship maintenance, and self-care) into your life.  The conversation on each podcast is light and, well, happy, which is sometimes needed when I’m waking up in the mornings, getting ready for the day.  This is also the first podcast that I ever listened to, and I highly recommend it!

Do you have any favorites this month?  What podcasts should I add to this list?