Book Review: Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer

I absolutely loved Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer. I’ve been a Strohmeyer fan since 2001 and this book, published in 2011, did not disappoint. In fact, it’s my favorite non-Bubbles Strohmeyer book so far.

Kindred Spirits is about four friends, Lynne, Carol, Mary Kay, and Beth, who met during a school board meeting and formed the Ladies Society for the Conservation of Martinis. These four friends become each other’s family as they raise their children together and endure the hardships, as well as the joys, of life together. When Lynne dies suddenly, she leaves behind a huge secret and tasks her friends to fulfill a mission for her she could never accomplish in life.

Lynne’s secret is something that hits particularly close to home for me because of my profession. There were so many truths in this book regarding the secret Lynne’s keeps I can’t help but think that Strohmeyer really did her homework.

Every chapter is interspersed with martini recipes and it made this teetotaler almost wish she was a drinker. If you are a drinker and like martini’s I suggest trying out some of these recipes to see if they really are as good as they sound.

The friendships between these four very different women was so heartwarming. Especially how much they demonstrated their love and loyalty to each other, even in wrong choices, and in this case, Lynne’s death. I think every woman wishes she had a core group of girlfriends who are her soft place to fall and friends she can go to for marriage and parenting advice; friends who never judge you and love you unconditionally.

This book is well-written and heartwarming. I had a hard time putting it down and only did so when I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I found myself crying several times as I had grown quite attached to these characters. I liked it so much I think I’ll recommend it to my book club for a pick for next year.

Beating a dead horse

I don’t want to beat a dead horse.  Heaven knows dead horses have already been through enough.  Here, they’re already dead and yet we keep beating them like they’re still alive.  That’s not nice.  Why beat a horse when he’s already dead?  Unless he’s a Zombie horse here to eat your brains, and then well, beating a dead horse is a life saving thing.  I like my brains.  I don’t want them eaten by a Zombie horse.  Hence, why I must beat this dead horse…

That’s my utterly round about and not-to-so-humerous way of saying, when I posted about what it’s like being a liberal Mormon post-unsuccessful Presidential election of a Mormon, I got a lot of positive response from lib-Mos in the same shaky boat as me who felt like they were on the boat alone and were surprised to turn around and see other people there.  I also got a lot of support from conservative Mos who said it was wrong to treat people that way.  But I’ve read on numerous blogs that have hashed and rehashed this ad nauseum and there were some people that questioned whether there were conservative Mormons, or those who voted for Romney, who really did throw some hyperbole, vitriol, and questioning of testimonies at fellow Mos who aren’t conservative and didn’t vote for Romney.  Or if we just made it all up in our pretty little heads.  As much fun as living in an alternate reality is, I prefer my life to be drug free.

Well, not to be all, “see I told ya so” up in here, while beating my Zombie horse so it doesn’t eat my brains (I need those!), I have to post a link to a post notorious Mormon mommy blogger cJane wrote about voting for Obama.  The actual post isn’t important to my point (although I thought her post was exceptionally well-written, and let’s just say I haven’t always agreed with cJane on many, many things), it’s some of the comments that followed her post.  A lot of the comments were supportive, but some of them were just straight up mean – from people claiming to be good Mormons.  I don’t know…I must be a little weird when I believe church leaders when they say the church is politically neutral and there are good things to find in all political parties.  What they really mean is, “vote Republican or take your butt right out of this church immediately, buddy!” right?  Right?!

This is just a sample from the very loving, accepting, Christ-like people who took the time to read cJane’s post, tell her what a horrible person she is, and questioned her testimony and the right to call herself a Mormon.  Geez, with loving brothers and sisters in the Gospel like this, who needs enemies?

“Crap crap crap. As nice and sweet as you tried to make this post sound it is crap. You are trying to sound all nice about supporting a president that supports womens rights and murder. 3rd term partial birth abortions is murder. Please explain to your children that. And that you support that and that it is ok. People like you should not be a mormon in all honesty. Romney is a man of God and would have led this country in the right direction. Obama has led this country completely off course and will continue to do so. I feel sorry for your children and their future and I hate to be the one to tell you this. This post is such crap!!”

And that was one of the ones that wasn’t taken down.  The really hateful ones were removed.

A Month of Gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving last year my bestie K and I went to a yoga class at the gym and our favorite yoga instructor read us this quote by Melody Beattie.  It was one of the best yoga sessions I have ever attended because our instructor set the entire intention toward gratitude.  She reminded us that during this crazy holiday season where stress is really high while we attend a million activities and parties while trying to decorate our houses and make holiday treats and buy a ton of presents for our kids, family, and friends, that it is good to slow down and really appreciate the blessings in our lives.

A lot of my friends have been posting on Facebook something they are grateful for every day until Thanksgiving.  Other friends have created a “gratitude tree” where they have a paper cut-out tree and every day they put a leaf on the tree with something they are grateful for until Thanksgiving (kind of like an Advent calendar) and I like this idea so much I think I will do it next year with my kids.  Last year I wrote an A,B,C post about things I am grateful for inspired by my friend Mitch.  All those things I’m grateful for still stand, but I wanted to re-iterate what I’m thankful for this year.

-I’m thankful for my family of origin.  God blessed me with two loving parents and two incredible siblings.  Even though my Mother is now in heaven and my Dad is far away, I still feel their love every day.  And my brother and sister are two of the greatest people I’ve ever known.  I’m grateful for their friendship, love, and support.  I love the people they are, the people they married who couldn’t be more perfect for them and add so much to our family, and the little people they created.  My nephews and niece are the cutest kids ever!  I’m glad that my nephews are such good friends with their cousins and that they love spending time together.  It’s true that some of your first best friends are your cousins.

-I’m thankful for the family the hubs and I created.  I married the best man I’ve ever known and not a single day has gone by where I didn’t think that marrying him was the best decision I ever made.   My sweet children add so much to my life and as usual they teach me more than I teach them.  It has been such a joy to watch them learn and grow.  I’m so grateful for the ease at which we have been able to add children to our family.  Working where I work, I can never take our fertility for granted.

-I’m thankful for the family I married into.  I’m so thankful for what a great family the hubs comes from because my mother and father-in-law are two of the nicest, kindest, most loving people I’ve ever known.  They accepted me as part of the family the day I met them.  They have helped the hubs and I out so much and they’ll never know how much I appreciate it, especially since they are the only grandparents my kids have who live nearby.  I love that my kids are so close to their grandparents and have such a bond with them.  Also, the hubs has some great siblings who also married some great people.  We have the cutest nephews and niece ever and I’m so glad my kids are close with their cousins.  The hubs’ sisters are some of my very best friends.

-I’m grateful for extended family and the love that has been given to me by uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, great-aunts, and uncles, etc.  My extended family might not all be close by, but they’re always there supporting me and my family.  I’m grateful for my grandparents.  I didn’t get to know my paternal grandfather very well since he lived back east and died when I was 8.  My paternal grandmother was a force to be reckoned with and I’m glad I come from such a strong woman.  My maternal grandparents moved back to Utah from Boston when I was 2 and I was always so glad that I grew up having them be a part of my every day life.  My maternal grandfather was one of the best, kindest, most gentle men I’ve ever known.  He was out-going, loved life, never met a stranger, treated everyone like his friend, and I can’t help but think I married a man just like him.  My grandmother, while quite different from my grandpa, loved me and I’m grateful I got to know her better as an adult when the hubs and I took care of her.

-I’m grateful for good friends.  My NYCbestie and bestie K have been steadfast and loyal friends who have gotten me through a lot of hard times.  They are both my every day, in the trenches, through good times and bad, gigglefest, best friends.  My friend, Shupee, and her husband flew all the way across the country so they could spend 20 minutes at my mother’s viewing.  It was one of the most kindest, selfless things anyone has ever done for me.  She supported me through my mother’s illness by sending me cards and presents, and I wonder if she knew at the time how much that saved my life.  I have truly been blessed to call some of the most incredible people in this world my friends.

-I’m grateful for a warm home, a roof over my head, electricity, running water, enough clothes to change my outfit every day, and plenty of food, and a variety of it, to eat.  I read an article last Christmas that said if you have any of those things, you are more fortunate than 90% of all the people who have ever lived on the earth.  I try to remember this whenever I get bogged down in my first world problems.

-I’m thankful that my NYCbestie was not seriously affected by Hurricane Sandy and she is safe.  Especially considering she doesn’t live that far from places that were disastrously affected like Hoboken, NJ and Staten Island.

-I’m grateful for the good employment of the hubs and myself.  We’ve both worked in some crappy jobs and it’s nice we both now are employed in jobs and careers we love.  I’m grateful for the people I work with and the clients we work for.  I can honestly say my life has been blessed the last 6 years because of the type of work I’m involved in.

-I’m grateful for Mountain Dew and cheetos.

-I’m grateful for the great neighborhood we live in and kind, friendly, and helpful neighbors.  We moved here 3 years ago this Thanksgiving and it remains one of the best decisions we ever made for our family.  The kids go to a great school, have made great friends, and we are surrounded by great families.

-I’m grateful for my memories.  I’m grateful for having a mother who loved me unconditionally.  I’m grateful that if she can’t be here right now, that God gave me a mother-in-law whom I love like she was my own mother.  Sometimes I forget she didn’t birth me herself.  I’m grateful that if my kids can only have one grandma right now, that God gave them the best one.

-I’m grateful for words and writing and having an outlet to express myself.  I’m grateful for books and for a mother who instilled in me a love of books.

-I’m grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the peace it brings me.  I’m grateful for the atonement and for the opportunity to repent of my mistakes.  I’m grateful for the love and grace of my Savior because I know that I’m so far from perfect I could never measure up.

I hope that I can continue to reflect on all my blessings, not just during the holiday season, but all year long.

Helping Hands

My best friend has lived in New York City for 12 years.  A year after she moved there 9/11 happened and I spent the better part of the day of September 11, 2001 worrying about her safety.  October 29th of this year, I spent another day, and several days after, worrying about her safety due to Hurricane Sandy.  She was one of the lucky ones.  She is safe and never even lost her power.  I appreciated her constant Facebook updates and text messages letting me know she was okay.  I wish I could be there in New York aiding in the clean-up efforts.  Since I can’t be, I’m glad that members of my church, including one of the hubs’ cousins who is currently an LDS missionary in NYC, are there to offer a helping hand.

Check out this video to see just some of the people who, instead of holding church last Sunday, boarded buses to go help out their fellow brothers and sisters.

http://vimeo.com/53357089

This is pure religion.  It is exactly what our savior admonishes us to do.  It reminds me of the scripture found in Matthew 25:35-40