Posted in Personal, reviews

Book Review: When We Believed in Mermaids

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week with writing, work, and kids. But enough about that. Today, I want to share with you a great book, I finished a few weeks ago. It’s titled “When We Believed in Mermaids.”  The title and blurb are below.

When We Believed in Mermaids: A Novel by [Barbara O'Neal]

An Amazon Charts, Washington PostWall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller.

From the author of The Art of Inheriting Secrets comes an emotional new tale of two sisters, an ocean of lies, and a search for the truth.

Her sister has been dead for fifteen years when she sees her on the TV news…

Josie Bianci was killed years ago on a train during a terrorist attack. Gone forever. It’s what her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has always believed. Yet all it takes is a few heart-wrenching seconds to upend Kit’s world. Live coverage of a club fire in Auckland has captured the image of a woman stumbling through the smoke and debris. Her resemblance to Josie is unbelievable. And unmistakable. With it comes a flood of emotions—grief, loss, and anger—that Kit finally has a chance to put to rest: by finding the sister who’s been living a lie.

After arriving in New Zealand, Kit begins her journey with the memories of the past: of days spent on the beach with Josie. Of a lost teenage boy who’d become part of their family. And of a trauma that has haunted Kit and Josie their entire lives.

Now, if two sisters are to reunite, it can only be by unearthing long-buried secrets and facing a devastating truth that has kept them apart far too long. To regain their relationship, they may have to lose everything.

My Thoughts:

This book was amazing. I enjoyed it thoroughly. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I purchased another book by the same author. It’s the story of two sisters. I’ll try and write this without spoilers because I don’t want to ruin it for you. The story takes us below the surface and shows the complexity of the relationship between the two sisters. It’s an excellent example of how the past affects our present lives even when we try to bury it.

It’s also a great story of the resiliency of the sisterly bond. It’s a great story that has all the feels. I highly recommend it.

How about you? What have you been reading lately? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Guest Author

Please Welcome Grace Rockwell and her new release!

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! Today, I have a guest, Grace Rockwell. She’s here to tell us a little bit about herself and her book. So without further ado, take it away, Grace!

My name is Grace Rockwell. Since I was a young girl, I’ve wanted to write a book. As an adult I’ve thought about sharing my life story of domestic abuse, chronic pain and mental illness. But I struggled to know exactly how to write it and when.

But in the summer of 2018 that all became crystal clear to me. One day I sat down in my dining room, with my laptop, and started writing. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. Eight weeks later I had a first draft – about 120 pages and 18 chapters.

After those eight weeks I was stricken with a debilitating depression. For month after month I was stuck and sat despondent in my recliner. Then in March 2020 I started feeling better.

In June I decided that I needed to add “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say. I finished my story and started looking for a publisher.

My manuscript was published and released in October 2020 by Westbow Press. The book is now available for purchase from the publisher and on Amazon.com.

This is what my book (Our Only Hope: Living a Life of Freedom) is about:

​“For those trying to weather through the storms of life, Grace Rockwell offers encouragement by sharing her own experiences and what she has learned from them. Growing up with chronic pain and in a negative abusive environment, where she was often rejected and alone, Grace learned to put her trust in the Lord. No matter what storms she faced, or how much pain she endured, Grace always came back to the Lord for help.

​Grace’s experiences will encourage you as you face your own storms in life. She reassures the reader that we can trust that God is always with us; He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. Our Only Hope will take you along Grace’s journey to find that the redemptive power of God is our only hope and it can become an anchor for our souls.

​Grace’s passions include not only spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, but also advocating for those suffering from chronic pain, domestic abuse and/or mental illness.”

Here is a sneak peek into the introduction:

          Do you ever get a song stuck in your head?…As I am writing this now, I’ve had the song You Never Let Go by Matt Redman stuck in my head for weeks. I’ve listened to other songs in the meantime, but it just won’t go away. Ugh! At this point I’m like, “OK. Must be I’m supposed to really think about the lyrics and the overall meaning of the song.” I’ve come to the conclusion that this song is really a reflection of my life, and all I have been through over the years.

          Speaking of my life, I’ve been looking back over the past 50 years and am feeling like now is the right time to share my story. I’ve also been praying a lot about where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to be. Prayers about what the next 50 years will bring. Prayers about how to share my story.

          Last night as I was going to sleep, I felt the power and gravity of who God is. It was storming with a lot of lightening and loud thunder. The rain was pouring down on the house and I thought, “Wow, God! There really is NO stopping You!” Then I went to sleep praying, “Lord, I don’t know when you want me to share my story, or even if I’m supposed to write my story. But if it is Your will, please give me the words. I can’t do this on my own. I need some direction here. Thank You, Father. Amen.”

          The next thing I know my alarm is going off. It was time to get up and get ready for my morning appointment. The problem was that I didn’t want to wake up. I was too involved in my dream and I needed to know how it ended. Instead of going back into the dream, I felt the need to start writing down everything I could remember from  the dream. You see, a few weeks ago I read a book by Jane Hamon called Dreams & Visions. Jane is a Christian teacher who really changed my opinion about dreams through her book. I will never again think of my dreams as silly, passing whims of the subconscious mind. Instead, I now pay more attention and try to really think through my dreams and what they might mean. Jane states that, “individuals should examine their own dreams and learn to listen to God’s Holy Spirit through this God-ordained method of communication.” (19) She goes on to explain that it is important to write down what we can remember upon waking. This is because it is only in those fleeting moments that we can remember. Jane recommends keeping paper and pen beside your bed so you can write before you even get out of bed in the morning. Or if you wake in the middle of the night.

          So that’s exactly what I did. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. Nine sticky notes later, I had jotted down all of the elements I could remember. And as I wrote, I realized that God was answering my prayer from the previous night. He was giving me some of the ideas for this book. Part of my life story is within each element and character throughout my dream:

          Protagonist – Little Girl

          Antagonists – The Enemy, Young Mama, Old Mama

          Supporting Character – The Caregiver

          My dream started inside a church. The young mama had brought her little girl to the church looking for answers. The little girl had been telling her things that did not make sense. She was telling her mama about things she could do, but the mama knew those things were not possible. Mama had realized that her daughter would only make these claims while she was taking her pain medication. At the church was the little girl’s caregiver. The caregiver tried to tell the mama that her daughter’s allegations were true. But it wasn’t the medication causing the phenomena…The next scene opens into a small apartment. There are two beds with a TV between them. The young mama is sleeping in one bed, and the old mama is sleeping in the other bed. The unborn baby is in the corner sleeping in a beautiful, white lace bassinet. The apartment and its furnishings are old, dusty, and falling apart. The little girl enters the apartment and starts using her powers to regenerate everything in sight. She starts in the bathroom and with her simple words, she speaks into existence a new sink, a new bathtub, new towels, new paint on the walls, and new flooring. She then proceeds to the large room with the two beds, TV and bassinet. She starts to regenerate the walls, the decor….But then the enemy comes on the TV and starts telling the little girl lies. Lies that she can’t do this. She is not good enough. She should give up. As the enemy speaks, she starts to feel horrible and her powers begin to fade. Then her body morphs into a black cat. As the enemy continues to fill the room with lies, her cat body starts to fall apart. Limbs fall off and fur falls to the floor.

          Enter the caregiver. The caregiver walks over to the TV and switches it off. She then starts praying over the little girl. She pleads with God to put the girl back together. As she prays, the girl regains her body parts and starts turning back into a child. The caregiver continues to fervently pray over her until the girl is back to normal. But when the caregiver stopped praying, the little girl would start falling apart again. After several times of this happening, the caregiver realizes that she must fervently pray without ceasing over this precious little girl… After some deep soul searching, I was able to interpret my dream as huge parts of my life so far. The little girl is me. The enemy is Satan, and the mama (young and old) is my biological mom. The caregiver is a representation of six godly women who have loved on and prayed for me throughout my life. And finally, the baby represents the unborn babies who my mom had miscarried before my brother and I were born.”

The book is for sale on Amazon (click on the buy button below) You can get free shipping with USPS, just click this link – https://www.westbowpress.com/…/boo…/815694-our-only-hope

For those trying to weather through the storms of life, Grace Rockwell offers encouragement by sharing her own experiences and what she has learned from them. Growing up with chronic pain and in a negative environment, where she was often rejected and alone, Grace learned to put her trust in the Lord. No matter what storms she faced, or how much pain she endured, Grace always came back to the Lord for help.

Grace’s experiences will encourage you as you face your own storms in life. She reassures the reader that we can trust that God is always with us; He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. Our Only Hope will take you along Grace’s journey to find that the redemptive power of God is our only hope, and it can become an anchor for our souls.

Grace’s passions include not only spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, but also advocating for those suffering from chronic pain, domestic abuse, and/or mental illness.

Today Grace lives with her husband in a small farming community in West Michigan, not far from where she grew up. She and her husband have four grown children and nine grandchildren.

Posted in Personal, September 11th

Never Forget

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of writing and working, but enough about that. Yesterday, was September 11th. As I thought back to where I was when I heard the Twin Towers had been hit, it feels like it happened just yesterday. I was driving to work when I heard about it on the radio. It was hard to work that day, but somehow, I managed to get through it.  

I’m humbled by all the heroic people who stepped up to help that day and the days that followed. From the ferryboat drivers who picked up people who were stranded on the island to the firefighters who climbed those stairs to get people out. Then there was Daisy a service dog who led responders again and again to where people were trapped.

We really do come together as a nation during a crisis. Let’s strive to honor everyone who gave their lives on that day, by striving to come together now and fix our broken system. This meme says it all.

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Posted in Documentaries, Entertainment, Family, friendship, social media

Technology’s Effect on our World

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy working and writing this week and I’m making progress on my WIP. I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about technology and it’s impact on our society. I had a class reunion this weekend and I got to see friends I haven’t seen in a long time. It was nice to catch up and walk down memory lane with them. Some of them, I’ve been able to connect with on social media and chat via messenger with them. It’s a great way to reestablish old connections.

With social media it’s easy to stay connected and catch up via chats, but there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction. I worry about our future generations where most communication will take place via the computer. I’m worried because I feel they won’t have the ability to read facial cues when talking with their peers because they won’t have enough practice with real life communication.

I’m also worried because I feel our young people don’t get enough physical activity. I see my kids and their friends spending so much time in front of a computer that they’re not getting enough exercise. Childhood obesity is on the rise and I feel the main reasons are the added sugars in our processed foods and the fact they’re not physically active.

So, even though technology has given us the ability to make connections over many thousands of miles, it has had a negative effect on our health, and it has also made our in real life connections more fragile because social media’s main goal is to keep us engaged.

They don’t want us to leave their site. So, they place items in our feeds to keep us there. Different articles on things we’ve liked. For example, if I like a random picture of an elephant, I’ll find more elephant pictures and articles showing up in my feed. There’s a documentary on this phenomenon called “The Social Dilemma.” If you haven’t seen it, you need to watch it. It’s on Netflix and it explains this whole process.

How about you? Do you feel technology has had a negative impact on our physical and mental health? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Earth, Health, mental-health, nature

Reconnecting with Nature

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of vacationing and writing and I must say I had an excellent time on vacay. Nothing like getting out on the water and soaking up some sun.

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy this awesome summer weather, too. Winter is coming and school is just around the corner for my guys. This school year is going to be different. Masks are recommended, but not required and the students will have to try and maintain a social distance of six feet.

I’m not ready for back to school. We’re returning this year a week earlier than we normally do and I feel we’ve been cheated out of some of our summer. I’m sure my boys feel the same way.

But enough about that, today I’d like to talk about the human connection with the Earth. I find it amazing that we can go for a hike in the woods or a walk along the beach and our spirits lift. They do. I’ve experienced it myself. We’ve forgotten about that connection in our hurry to build and create.

As a society we need to slow down and reconnect with nature.  I feel everything we need we can get from the earth. It provides food and water and by walking in the woods or on the beach we can improve our overall health.

It’s true, the trees in the woods release phytoncides. They’re a defense mechanism against fungus, bacteria, and even animals. These compounds are good for humans as well. According to one study, they enhanced the destructive mechanism in our cells that kill the cell when its time has run out. It also enhanced the anti-cancer proteins production.  Now that is good news.

To put this in layman’s terms, breathing in phytoncides enhances our own natural defenses.  I think this is incredible. It supports the theory that we’re all connected, with each other, and with nature.

Being in nature is also a great stress reliever as well. Studies have found that the stress hormone cortisol is lower when walking in nature. It also puts you in a meditative state and allows your creativity to flow.

Not only is walking in the woods good for you, but so is walking on the beach. Getting out into the sun is a great way to increase the Vitamin D in your system. That’s one major health benefit of going to the beach, but it’s also a great stress reliever. When you get near the water and hear the waves breaking on the shore, it releases serotonin in your system. Serotonin is a key hormone for relaxation and happiness.

Walking on the beach isn’t just good for our mental health, it’s good for our physical health as well. If you’re near the ocean the saltwater has anti-bacterial antibodies in it. So, if you have a wound that needs to be cleansed. Dip it in the ocean. Salt water also contains iodine which is a great antiseptic. It’s also an amazing immune system booster. It helps the thyroid gland do its job which boosts our immune system.

With all these health benefits, why would become the indoor generation? Technology has taken us out of the fields and put us inside and it has been detrimental to our health. We need to take our health back and reconnect with nature. We also need to take care of the Earth. With all the health benefits it provides it’s a key element to our survival, wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Don’t you think getting back to nature is vital for us humans? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal

Blogcation!

Hey there, I just thought I’d let you know I decided to take a blogcation this Sunday. I will be back hopefully, next Sunday with our regularly scheduled broadcast! Thanks for your patience!

Posted in Health, mental-health

Is Social Media Bad for Your Health?

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of work, writing, and running. This week I saw a post on Facebook (kind of ironic, I know) and it made the statement that Social Media makes you dissatisfied with your life.

I gathered from this statement that social media makes people dissatisfied because we start to compare ourselves to what other people post. The meme went on to say, get off social media, read a book, work in your garden, or go for a walk. Do something that brings you joy and do it for that reason alone. Don’t do something just so you can post it on Facebook later. Do it because you enjoy it.

I agree with this statement even though I’m guilty of spending time on social media myself. I find that scrolling on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter is a passive exercise. You’re not actively participating in life. Sure, you can connect with people and message them and that’s all well and good. I do that myself.  But you’re not actively living.

When you go for a walk, you’re not only doing something good for your body. You’re experiencing life. You’re experiencing the smells of the forest and the beauty of the wildflowers growing alongside the road. That’s living. You’ll feel better getting up and doing something. Going for a walk or a hike even by yourself is much better for you than scrolling through posts on Facebook.  

If you’re feeling frustrated with your life or you’re dealing with a problem and you can’t find a solution. Read a book. Reading is a great stress reliever and I guarantee if you read for even just fifteen minutes, the problem you’re dealing with won’t feel so big. Again, reading is active. Your brain is working, focusing on something other than your problem or dissatisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great way to keep in touch with people and make connections, but it’s not good for your health if you’re neglecting exercise or it creates mental anguish. Remember, the goal of social media is to keep you engaged. You have to actively set limits for yourself or you’ll get sucked in. It happens to the best of us.

Remember to actively live your life. Enjoy that walk or run while you’re doing it. Stay in that moment. Enjoy cooking that meal for your family. Enjoy the smells of the spices lingering in the air as you cook. Turn on the radio and listen to music while you work. That’s living. Social media isn’t.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about social media? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Parenting

What is PAI?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you today. I’ve had a busy week of working, running, and writing. My Fitbit has a PAI indicator on it, so I’ve been a little more active this week. LOL

The PAI indicator is a personal physiological activity indicator. It measures, heart rate, intensity of daily activity, and other multi-dimensional characteristics to determine your PAI value. Long story short if you score above 100, you’re living your best life. A score above 100 means that you’re reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and increasing your life expectancy. So, my goal is to get a 100 or better every day.

What’s nice about that number is that you don’t have to do high intensity workouts to achieve it. It can be achieved just by going for a long walk. The days I run, my PAI is much higher, but walking a couple of miles also helps me reach my goal as well.

This gives me hope because sooner or later, I’m going to have to stop running. It’ll become too hard on my knees and ankles, when that happens at least I know I’ll be able to walk and still maintain my health.

I’m worried about the next generation, though. Many teens these days aren’t getting enough exercise. They sit and watch YouTube videos or play video games and this activity has a detrimental effect on their health. Modern technology is great, but our bodies were made to move, and the kids these days are growing up on video games, Red Bull, and fast food. Not a great combination.

I try hard to get my boys out moving, but I’m not always successful. I’m thinking about getting them fitbits and telling them they need to score over 100 on their PAI before they can sit down at the computer and play their games. But what about when they’re back at school?

I wish school required more physical activity. We need to revamp our educational system to consider both mental and physical health. Make physical education a requirement all the way up to your senior year. Or maybe schools could offer classes for tennis, running, and volleyball so kids could learn those skills, too. I’m not sure what the answer is. How about you? What changes would you make to our educational system to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of our kids? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal, Writing

Writing and Exercise Go Hand in Hand

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of vacationing and writing. We took the boys to a water park. It was fun, but we were ready to come home. Family vacations are important. They give us an opportunity to connect with our kids again. They’re especially important this year because of the pandemic. I’m so glad things are finally starting to open, and we can travel now.

But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about staying active, especially for writers or people who sit at a desk for eight hours a day. It’s so important to get up and move. I’m trying to exercise at least five days a week. I was able to achieve that goal last week, but it’s harder when I’m working.

It’s important for writers to get up and move because writing is such a sedentary occupation. Did you know that sitting more than three hours a day can take two years off your life? Even if you exercise regularly, you still need to get up and move around every couple of hours. Take a break and go for a quick walk. Get the blood flowing again.

The benefits of exercise are not just physical. It helps with depression and anxiety. Exercise increases serotonin levels and dopamine levels which explains the fact you’re happier after you work out. I find that when I’m feeling anxious, going for a quick run helps reduce my angst.

I’ve also found that when I get stuck in my manuscript, if I step away from my work and go for a run or a hike, I can usually work out the problem. When I’m running, my brain works differently and I’m able to work out solutions to my story problems.

Any type of exercise will do. I run and do palates, but you could do Yoga or Zumba. Anything that gets your blood flowing. I used to do Yoga when I was younger and I’m going to start it up again just because I need the variety. How about you? What kind of exercise do you do? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!