Sharing My Stuff

I just finished reading Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level by Laura Tremaine. I have been anxiously awaiting this book since I began following the author through her podcast, 10 Things to Tell You. I pre-ordered the book back in August. This was the first time I had ever pre-ordered a book. I was 100% certain I would love the book. I also pre-ordered a copy as an early birthday present for my childhood best friend, because I thought it would be fun for us to discuss the questions. I knew another friend would buy herself the book (hi Lauren!), and my cousin (hi JJ!) saw an Instagram post I wrote about the book when it arrived, and she began reading it with me as well.

Laura Tremaine, author of Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First. Source:

Since the book came out just two weeks ago, I have talked about the first chapters with friends and family (Hi Holly & Ellen!), and encouraged more people to buy the book. I highly recommend this to every woman (men could certainly read it as well, but they are not the typical audience for this kind of book) to read and then share with friends. Laura Tremaine’s entire premise is that we all have stories to tell and we should be sharing our stuff with the people who are important to us. This sharing can be done online or in person, or even just in your journal when it’s really personal or private, but the important part is the sharing.

I often find in my own busy life that when I check in with friends and family, we tend to spend the majority of our time catching up on the basic, superficial parts of our lives (the weather, the same work successes and challenges, the same COVID news, the same stuff), and we rarely get to the deeper stuff. I have already found that through this book, my friends and I are able to share things that feel much more real, important, and connected to what matters. [Not that we are going to stop talking about The Housewives. Ever.]

As I read the book, I took my time. I read one chapter at a time and then I spent time journaling my thoughts about each chapter’s question. Some of what I wrote I have shared or will share in my conversations with friends. Other parts I wrote just for me. I have always used writing as a way to reflect. But I haven’t always shared my thoughts. I mean, I have a blog and I wrote a book, so I have shared plenty of thoughts over the years! But when, where, what, and how I share depends on the topic. There are times when it is easier to share something publicly, on social media for example, than it is to share with one person.  There are other times, when the topic is personal or raw, when I only feel safe sharing with one person, in person. The value of this book is that all forms of sharing are encouraged! And for any of my friends and family reading this, Chapters 2, 4, 5 and 6 brought up some fun memories for me that I’m happy to talk about for hours!

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A Month of Writing

Back in the end of December I set a goal for myself to write every day of January. I decided to give myself the following options: journaling, blogging, or working on fiction.  I am proud to say that I met my goal!

During the month of January I wrote in my journal every single day. I haven’t done that since my sophomore year of college when I was taking a class for which that was a requirement. I think back then I had to write 5 pages a day.  This month, some days I only wrote a paragraph, but other days I wrote a lot more. I know that because of this goal, no matter how tired I was after a long day, I made sure to journal something.

Sometimes when I journal I write to capture what is going on in life, even if I never go back to reread it. Other times I write to process thoughts and emotions, stressful moments, or new discoveries. Even though most of my life feels controlled by COVID (What mask am I wearing today? How many feet apart can students be this week? When and where can I get my next test? When will I be eligible for the vaccine?), I try to journal about more than just that. I do enjoy writing at the end of the day and hope that I can maintain that habit.

I also wrote 6 new blog posts this month (hobbies, women mentors, reading, habits, inauguration day thoughts, and this post). I never know how much I will blog, as my posts are driven by ideas that come to me and the time I’m willing to spend drafting them. It’s fun to look back and realize that because of my daily writing goal, I was more aware of a desire to create more blog posts this month.

Writing fiction has been something I have wanted to do since I was a child. I haven’t made any attempts to write fiction in over a decade, but this month I put fingers to keyboard and began to sketch out an idea. I have no idea if the idea will become something real, but it is a place to start. I only opened that file a few times this month, but it was a start, and I plan to continue. It feels like a small way that my word of 2021, DARING, is pushing me forward this year.

When you read advice from writers, there are two themes that come out more than any others: read a lot and write every day. I have always been a voracious reader, so I have that box checked. Setting this goal for January helped me tackle the second piece of advice. I plan to continue to write as much as possible in the coming months.


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January 2021 Reading Update

I rarely have a reading plan at the beginning of the month. I read what interest me, and usually have a nonfiction book, I’m always looking for fun fiction to balance my reading. I didn’t plan on this month being full of female authors, but that is how it turned out. This month I read 8 books.

  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson – I heard about this book for the last few months, and knew I would appreciate reading this and would learn from it. Wilkerson compares America’s race history with that of India’s caste system and with Nazi Germany.  She shares elements of history from all three nations that are not taught in our typical history books. It is clear how much Americans still need to learn about our own history, and until we recognize the atrocities that we lawfully allowed to happen, especially in the American South as she details, we cannot truly move forward. This was a powerful, engaging book that every American should read.
  • Leading While Female: A Culturally Proficient Response for Gender Equity by Trudy T. Arriaga, Stacie L. Stanley and Delores B. Lindsey – It’s interesting to me that my first two books of 2021 were both nonfiction.  I actually started reading both of these books in December and just happened to finish them at the beginning of the month.  I have heard two of these authors speak before and I’m familiar with the Lindsey’s Cultural Proficiency work.  Over the last decade I’ve learned more about the staggering statistics of female versus male educational leaders and am constantly grateful to have worked with and for many strong leaders, including more women than the statistics of the nation represent. I appreciate the authors desire to educate and empower both women and men to mentor and support more female leaders. They weaved cultural proficiency throughout their lessons, along with real talk from participants in their leadership retreat. They also addressed intersectionality, because a woman and can have more elements to her identity than her gender alone.  This was a quick read and good for leaders already in position to be mentors and supports, and those seeking to move up in their careers.
  • The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister –  I LOVED this book!  Thanks to my friend Shelley for telling me about it on one of our recent walks (one of my other hobbies!). Emmeline was raised by her father on a remote island, taught to live by scents. As she grows and her life changes, taking her to new worlds and experiences, her sense of smell helps her get to know people and find what matters to her. It was a bittersweet, beautifully written story that I didn’t want to end. I wanted to smell the amazing scents she created!
  • The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda – I enjoyed this book! There were a number of twists and turns, some of which I didn’t expect at all, which is always fun. When Avery’s best friend Sadie dies, no one is sure what happened or why.  The story flashes from the summer of the death, to the summer afterwards, with some other elements mixed in as well.  There are a lot of lies told throughout this story, so it’s hard to trust anyone. I love how the author continued to surprise me up until the end.
  • The Survivors by Jane Harper – This was one of my January Book of the Month Club books and I enjoyed it! It started out a little slowly, but I became invested in this small beach town in Australia and all of the hurt and suffering due to a sudden death, and the memories of a tragic accident more than ten years previously.  Kieran and his wife and baby return to his hometown to help his mother prepare for a big move. Little does he know that a new death will bring up the memories of his brother’s sad passing, and all the guilt people are carrying with them about that event. All of the characters face heavy burdens as they hide their own secrets from one another. I appreciated the intricacies of the relationships and the hidden secrets revealed throughout the story.
  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord – This was such a fun YA read! I needed a palate-cleansing, easy fiction read over the long weekend and this was perfect! Two teens, Pepper and Jack, end up in a Twitter war over their parents’ dueling businesses. As they fight it out over memes and GIFs, they get to know each other through the usual high school drama, with some sweet twists in between.
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett – After loving Bennett’s recent novel, The Vanishing Half, I heard that her first book was just as good. I had also heard that this book had a more satisfying ending, and while I enjoyed this book a lot, I found the ending equally open-ended.  In this story, Natalie and Aubrey are two teens who form a friendship founded in the fact that they are motherless, yet surrounded by know-it-all mothers in their community. Half of the book takes place when the girls are 17 and half a few years later, when Natalie returns to town from college. I enjoyed that the story took place in Oceanside, which is in northern San Diego County, where I live. The local references were fun to read, including a nod to our May Grey June Gloom summer weather, with an addition I had never heard: “No Sky July. Fogust”! Natalie and Aubrey’s relationship with Luke follows them through the story. What I appreciated here, as I do more and more often, is how flawed each of the characters was in their own way. They were each keeping secrets that hurt themselves and each other. They had a hard time being honest, even with themselves. They didn’t seem to like themselves much, which made them painfully human and real. It was a bittersweet story about a small community and well worth the read.
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. – This book was highly recommended on my favorite podcast, so I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it very much. It was very long, very dense with research studies and scientific facts, and very focused on PTSD and childhood trauma.  The last few chapters addressed what I was really interested in: mindfulness, yoga, biofeedback, and other holistic ways to heal our brains and our bodies. One of the last chapters delved into the role that theater can play to support children and adults recover from trauma. It reminded me the year my 8th graders and I participated in a grant called “The Opera Project,” where my inner city students, many of whom came from trauma-filled childhoods, worked with opera educators to write and perform an opera. It was a powerful experience for them to learn a new artform and to express themselves in this unique way. I saw the connections between their growth throughout that year and the research behind that called out in the book.  If you, or someone you know, suffered significant trauma, this might be interesting for you. If you love details about brain activity, and how by changing our brains we can change our mental and physical beings, you would be interested in this book. Otherwise, typical educators would probably not be interested. There wasn’t enough connections to education for me.

Fiction: 5

Nonfiction: 3

Young Adolescent: 1


Author is of or plot addresses a different race/ethnicity, orientation, religion than me: 3

Female author: 9

Male Author: 1

Nonbinary Author: 0

Library books: 4

Currently reading or my my TBR list soon: A Promised Land [audiobook] by Barack Obama, The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

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Inauguration Day Reflections

This morning I sat in my office watching the Inauguration of our 46th President. There were some incredible moments that brought me to tears of joy and relief.

  • Watching the first woman, who is also the first person of color, inaugurated as the Vice President of the United States of America. Welcome Madame Vice President!
  • Watching the National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman perform her beautiful words with grace, dignity, and hope for the change that is needed in this nation
  • Listening to the wonderful performances by Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Garth Brooks and feeling the words to those familiar songs deep in my soul
  • Watching the new First Lady, Dr. Biden, support her husband as he took the oath, knowing that she is an educator
  • Watching our new president take the oath of office, knowing that he will actually follow through on the words of the oath and the meaning of the office

Many of us were hoping that the calendar change between December 31 and January 1 would bring about change. When that didn’t happen, not in relation to the pandemic nor the political climate, we all took another emotional hit. We have been living in chronic stress for months as a world in a pandemic, years of stress as a nation in conflict, and centuries of stress for another part of our nation. People are hurting. We need change.

Today I think our nation was able to take a deep breath and let it out. This inauguration doesn’t change everything, but it is a step in the right direction. We have more work to do individually and collectively. I am so grateful to work in a system committed to doing the hard work to make systemic change on behalf of our students and our community.

This afternoon I sat in my office (I pretty much sat in my office most of the day!) participating in the San Diego County Office of Education’s virtual Equity Conference. Today’s keynote speaker was Dr. Monique Morris, a scholar I heard speak at an AASA conference about 4 years ago.  She was just as inspiring today, especially in relation to the equity work we need to engage in on behalf of all students, especially our Black girls, which is the focus of much of her research.  A few takeaways for me from her speech:

  • Are our schools trauma-informed or trauma-responsive?
  • Equity work requires that we change the institutions that are a part of the tapestry of harm
  • The use of yoga and mindfulness in schools should be available to all students, considered as a return to regulation
  • Is this policy/practice one that leads with love or with fear?
  • Learning cannot take place without trusting relationships
  • Equity is the work of dismantling systems of oppression
  • A social movement that changes people and systems is a revolution

A student was quote today saying that all they want is “unity, community, and engagement” within their school.  That is what we are working towards.  Our students need us to be daring, need us to do this work. Tonight I will end my night watching the virtual inauguration celebrations with hope in my heart.

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Developing Habits

What habits have you developed for yourself? Are you working on any habits for the new year?  Back in late October I decided to add in one healthy habit at a time for myself. I started with drinking more water.

For step one, I began to track how much water I was drinking. I knew that it wasn’t a lot, but I didn’t truly have an amount in my mind. I use my Fitbit tracker, since it’s already connected to me and tracks my steps every day. Early on I saw that I was not drinking much water, so my goal was to drink at least 64 ounces each day. It took me about a month before this habit became consistent – both the drinking of the water and the tracking of my intake.  After Thanksgiving, I had a great stretch through most of my winter break where I met my goal just about each day. It was so nice to see a row of little stars on my app!

Looking back, this last week was not good for my goal. The difference between last week and last October, however, is that I still drank 40-60 ounces of water each day, I just didn’t track a full 64 to hit that goal.  Back in October, I was drinking half that amount! It’s nice to see that I have developed a habit of drinking more, and that with focused effort I can continue to meet my goal.

Another habit I wanted to work on this month was writing. I set a goal for myself to write every day.  So far, I have written in my journal every day this year, I have written 4 blog posts, and I’ve even written some not-ready-to-be-read-by-anyone fiction. There are still many more days in this month, but a few things have helped me with this goal.  First, I keep my journal on my kitchen table so I see it in the morning and the evening each day.  Second, I created a list of blog topics that I might want to write about, so I have ideas as soon as I sit down to write. Third, I told a few friends about this goal for accountability (and now anyone reading this!). I love writing, but I’ve never made a conscious effort to commit to a daily practice. I look forward to reflecting on this at the end of the month to see how I feel.

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Reflecting on Women Mentors

After recently finishing Leading While Female: A Culturally Proficient Response for Gender Equity by Trudy T. Arriaga, Stacie L. Stanley and Delores B. Lindsey, I was reflecting on the amazing women leaders who have served as my teachers, mentors, sponsors, colleagues, and friends throughout my 23+ career in education.

“Our best reporting shows that women make up 75% of teachers, 52% of principals, and fewer than 25% of superintendents. We can safely say that women are doing the work of classroom teaching while, disproportionately, men are making administrative and leadership decisions.”

Every time I see the statistics above I marvel at the incredible luck I’ve had to work for more women leaders than these averages.  Since I began teaching, I have had as my direct or indirect supervisor: 1 female assistant principal (and many males), 2 female principals (and 3 males), 7 female assistant superintendents (1 male), and 5 female superintendents (3-4 males). My first three years of teaching I only saw male leaders, but once I moved to San Diego and found a great position, I was blessed to see women leading at all levels of the educational system.

While I had no ambitions to even become principal at that time in my career, it was never a doubt that I could, if I wanted to. Then that first female principal, my now-friend Bobbie, saw leadership potential in me and she encouraged me (now I recognize this as sponsorship) to get my Master’s Degree so I could move into administration.  From then on, I continued to learn and grow under the support of female and male mentors who expanded my knowledge, challenged my thinking, and provided me opportunities to do and be more than I knew was possible.

I was pleased to be able to “pay it forward” in my director roles, when I was in a formal position to mentor instructional coaches, coordinators, and assistant principals, as well as aspiring leaders through the academy I ran for three years. I am so proud of all of the academy “graduates” who are now assistant principals and principals. It is so important that we seek out our own mentors and that we intentionally mentor others. Just as I believe every educator can benefit from their own instructional coach, every aspiring and current leader can grow with the support of mentors. Often we need someone else to show us what is possible, especially if we are women who put in way more time than men do before applying for the next level position.

As a female leader, I will continue to support other leaders at all levels of our system. How are you supporting leaders in your system?

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How I Read So Much

After publishing my list of books I read in 2020 someone asked me how I possibly read so much, while maintaining a full time job that keeps me plenty busy throughout the week. I decided to use that question as a prompt for one of my daily writing sessions (part of a goal in January).

Since 2015 I have been keeping track of what I read here on this blog.  Below are my annual stats.

  • 2020: 71
  • 2019: 89
  • 2018: 55
  • 2017: 59
  • 2016: 69
  • 2015: 44

Before this, I often kept a reading journal, especially when I was a middle school English teacher encouraging students to develop readerly habits. I have been an avid reader since I was a teenager.  The joy of having a father who worked in the publishing industry was that I was able to get access to a lot of new books any time I wanted them! I went through phases with a variety of authors (Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Mary Higgins Clark – early days!) and then phases of discovering new-to-me content. I didn’t read much fiction in college, but once I became a teacher I began to read a lot of YA and adult fiction for my own enjoyment.

Nowadays, I choose to read something every day. Sometimes my morning routine is quicker than others and I can squeeze in 20 minutes of pleasure reading before work. Other days, I listen to an audiobook during my commute and/or my workout. Some week days I come home and still have energy and enough brain power to read in the evening; other days all I can manage is watching some bad tv before bed! But when I have the energy, I choose to read before watching tv.  Back when I watched live tv with no fast-forwarding capabilities, I used to mute the tv during commercials so I could read. That is how much I enjoy reading.

There are certain things that I know I will enjoy and be able to read in just about any mindset. It helps to know what genres you like best, and to have a few favorite authors you can always go back to.  If I’m slogging through a long, dense nonfiction book, I have to also have a fiction book that I am reading so that I don’t lose my love for reading in general.  Reading those nonfiction books matter, but I need a balance in my reading life. I also give myself permission to quit a book. At this stage in my life, I know what I like and it’s not a good use of my time to read something I hate.

So my quick tips to how I read so much are:

  • Find what you love and read more of that!
  • Choose to read before you do other things (like mind-numbing tv)
  • Find a balance (fiction, nonfiction, audio, etc.)
  • Keep track and compete with yourself!
  • Have fun!

One thing currently missing in my readerly life is a book club. I’ve participated in book clubs in the past, and I’m considering finding one for myself this year.

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I find that the older I get, the less adults share their hobbies with others. I know that those of you with kids in the house may not have as much time as those of us without kids, but I also know that everyone has their own interests. I also think that it’s time to stop celebrating a culture of always being too busy.  Work isn’t meant to be a 24/7 enterprise, and having hobbies helps us step away from the non-stop inbox demands.

I love hearing how other people chose to spend their free time (however much or little that is in a given time of your life!).  I was reminding of this topic while listening to a podcast episode of The Glo Show by Gloria, who shared her own hobbies. Here are a few of my hobbies.

  • Reading: If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you must know that I love to read! Reading is relaxing to me, but it is also educational, informative, and entertaining. I love learning about new places, meeting interesting characters, and getting lost in a fictional world that is a little nicer than our real world can be at times. Here is a list of what I read in 2020.
  • Podcasts: Over the last few years I’ve gotten more into podcasts. I like listening to short, manageable stories while on my commute to and from work. I know there are amazing education-related podcasts out there, but I prefer to spend my time just before and after work listening to non-education topics.  Here are a few of my favorite podcasts these days: 10 Things to Tell You, Office Ladies, The Glo Show, Women & Money, Smartless, Literally, The Lazy Genius, Armchair Expert, Brene Brown. The first two in the list I listen to weekly without fail.  The rest will depend on my mood, and the guest or topic of the show.
  • Taking pictures: I won’t call this photography, because I have limited skills that I haven’t attempted to grow, but I do enjoy taking pictures. I take walks outside as often as I can, and I try to take at least one picture on each walk. Walking is also a hobby at this point! I love nature, and finding beauty in small or unexpected places. I also love being able to look back at my pictures from years past, and remember where I was and what was going on in my life and/or the world.
  • Travel: This is a hobby I have missed so much over the last year. I love traveling and visiting new places. I have a number of friends who I enjoy traveling with, and we are all ready to book our next adventures as soon as it is safe to do so. There are still so many places to visit on my travel bucket list!
  • Music: When I’m not listening to podcasts or audiobooks in my car, I love to blast my favorite songs and sing along! Music always makes me happy. I’ve missed live concerts over the past year as well, and look forward to going to concerts and theater performances again in the future.
  • Writing: This is a hobby that I know many people don’t share with me. Many adults (and children) seem to dislike writing, but I have always loved to write. I’ve been an amateur writer my entire life. Some days I blog, other days I journal, and sadly most days I write emails at a minimum. I’ve decided to challenge myself to write something every day for the month of January, so you may see a few more blogs pop up! Some of the things I write will not be published, but some will for sure.

A picture from Iceland last year that incorporates travel, taking pictures, and walking

What are some of your hobbies?

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What I Read in 2020

Each month I blog about what I’ve read. I do this primarily because I tend to forget the plot of a book about 10 minutes after I’ve finished reading it, and therefore I often forget what I’ve read (and I read a lot!). So my blogs serve as a reminder and a reading record.  One of my reading goals this year was to keep better track of what kind of books I was reading by type and by author.

Below are my stats for the year. Since this is the first year I’ve done this, I’m not sure how many books I’ve read outside of my “bubble” in past years, but I know it wasn’t as many as this, since I was making conscious choices this year. The number still seems small considering how many books I read overall, so this is a continuous goal. I think it’s so important to read diverse books, as reading allows you experience things you can’t do or understand in your own life.

Fiction: 52

Nonfiction: 19

Young Adolescent: 9

Audiobooks: 12

Author is of or plot addresses a different race/ethnicity, orientation, religion than me: 23

Female author: 51

Male Author: 21

Nonbinary Author: 1

One other fact I decided to count at the end of the year was how many books I read through my library e-reader (i.e., for free!): 39

I also like to compete with my own reading records from previous years, so here is a summary of how many books I’ve read the last few years. While I didn’t break my 2019 record this year, I read more than each of the other years on this list.

  • 2020: 71
  • 2019: 89
  • 2018: 55
  • 2017: 59
  • 2016: 69
  • 2015: 44

For my final list of what I read this year, I’ve included ** in front of my favorite books of the year.

  1. Inside Out by Demi Moore [audiobook]
  2. **City of Girls  by Elizabeth Gilbert
  3. The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson
  4. Marcelo and the Real World by Francisco X. Stork [audiobook]
  5. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
  6. Relentless: Changing Lives by Disrupting The Educational Norm by Hamish Brewer
  7. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  8. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
  9. My Life Has Been A Bowl of Cherries by Louise Bond Dowling Vincent
  10. **The Institute by Stephen King
  11. **Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
  12. On The Come Up by Angie Thomas [audiobook]
  13. Open Book by Jessica Simpson [audiobook]
  14. **The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
  15. Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow [audiobook]
  16. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
  17. **The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
  18. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
  19. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
  20. They Call Me “Mr. De” by Frank DeAngelis
  21. A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell
  22. Sea Wife by Amity Gaige
  23. **Untamed by Glennon Doyle [audiobook]
  24. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
  25. The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand
  26. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
  27. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  28. **How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  29. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
  30. Beach Read by Emily Henry
  31. The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben
  32. Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
  33. Stealth by Stuart Woods
  34. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds [audiobook]
  35. **Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan [audiobook]
  36. Treason by Stuart Woods
  37. **Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla Saad
  38. **When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal
  39. **White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo
  40. **The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  41. Deacon King Kong by James McBride
  42. All Adults Here by Emma Straub
  43. Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
  44. Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by Anthony Doerr
  45. Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
  46. The Last Flight by Julie Clark
  47. Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker
  48. Life Will Be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler [audiobook]
  49. The Likeness by Tana French
  50. Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes) by Mindy Kaling [audiobook]
  51. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
  52. Thrive Through The Five: Practice Truths to Powerfully Lead Through Challenging Times by Dr. Jill M. Siler
  53. Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown [audiobook]
  54. The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle
  55. So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  56. **Coaching for Equity: Conversations that Change Practice by Elena Aguilar
  57. When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
  58. The End of Her by Shari Lapena
  59. **The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  60. ** Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane
  61. Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben
  62. Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion, and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World by Scott Harrison [audiobook]
  63. Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
  64. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  65. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
  66. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
  67. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
  68. One Life by Megan Rapinoe
  69. Hit List by Stuart Woods
  70. Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin
  71. The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

To read more about what I thought of each of these, you can look back at my monthly summary posts. That’s what I do when I need to remind myself of a book or an author.





I’d love to hear what your favorite books of the year were in the comments.

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My Word of 2021

Six years ago I discovered the free Find Your Word course by Susannah Conway. I love the process of journaling through what 2020 has been for me, and what I wish for in 2021.  This is different from setting new year’s resolutions. I choose to find a word that represents what I want, need, and hope 2021 will bring into my life, but sometimes the word chooses me.

In 2020, my word was GRACE. This word found me long before we knew what 2020 would bring to the world. I needed to leave space for grace for myself and for others as we lived through a global pandemic.

In 2019, my word was SHINE. My goal was to shine personally and professionally, and I did that through a new job, a published book, and a sunflower tattoo 26 years in the making!

In 2018, my word was POSSIBILITY with a supporting phrase of Adventures that Stretch. This idea helped me looked differently at what was possible if I shifted my viewpoint. I also enjoyed some incredible adventures that did help me stretch in new ways.

For 2017, my word was CHALLENGE, and it served me personally, professionally, and on a global scale. I love new challenges and appreciated the permission I gave myself to rise to some new challenges and to say, “I’m not going to take this on,” to other challenges.

In 2016, my word was REJUVENATE, with a more internal, physical focus that I needed.

The first time I chose a focus word was 2015, and my word was MINDFULNESS. This proved to be a fulfilling year of learning to be more present, learning to mediate, and to enjoy each individual moment.

My word of 2021 is… DARING.


This word feels like a challenge to my introverted self, but also like something I need after a year of grace and masks and isolation. I’m ready to be daring in some big and small ways in my life. I’m looking forward to a fun 2021!


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