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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Favorite Children's Books of 2014

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Some of my favorite bloggers have been compiling lists of their favorite books of the year (which means my "to read" list is growing). I have read quite a few great books myself this year, but for some reason, the ones that stand out most are children's books. I loved so many children's stories this year. They were sweet, fun, wholesome, and beautifully illustrated.

So that's what I want to share.

First, a couple of notes: 1) These books may or may not have been published in 2014. I just happened to discover them this year. 2) I have provided Amazon affiliate links for each book. This is just so you can easily learn more about the book. If you happen to purchase using these links, Amazon may send a small amount my way which I will put toward blog expenses.

Now, on with the list!

Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
This book actually was newly published this year and is enchanting (as anything with unicorn in the title might suggest). Uni is a unicorn who believes that maybe, just maybe, little girls are real. I know... *swoon*

Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
My friend handed me this book in a library saying it looked like one I might like. She was right. After reading it, I immediately ordered a copy to add to our own library. In it Ramon is discouraged from drawing by his big brother, until his sister points out that his picture of a vase may not be perfect, but it is "vase-ish." Ramon goes on to create all sorts of ish drawings.

Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal, if that wasn't evident already. This magical book is about a girl who plants a kiss, then watches it grow. As if Amy penning the story wasn't enough, Peter H. Reynolds illustrated it.

Oliver's Tree by Kit Chase
A sweet story with equally sweet illustrations wherein woodland creatures help their elephant friend find a tree he can play in. As you might imagine, this is a tough task.

The Night Pirates: Pop-Up Adventure by Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright
A fun adventure where a boy's house becomes the facade of a pirate ship sneaking around. Be sure to get the pop-up version because the pop-up creations are surprisingly elaborate at times and add to the magic of the story.

Kipper's A to Z: An Alphabet Adventure by Mick Inkpen
Kipper is a favorite in our family and this book wonderfully covers the alphabet while actually having a plot (as opposed to "A is for Apple").

Of course I read many wonderful children's books with my son this year, but these were my favorites. What are your favorite stories?

My Favorite Books This Year

Which may or may not have been published this year, but this is the year I happened to read them.

Nonfiction

This I Know by Susannah Conway
I love this memoir. Her words and her photos combine to create a beautiful exploration of how we get through life. This is the book I recommend most from this list. (See my review of it here.)

The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron
Whether you think you need to lose weight or not, this is a great book to get you thinking about the way you eat and how it affects you.

Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential by Caroline Myss
A find your purpose sort of book with the approach of studying and finding your archetypes. I enjoyed learning about the archetypes and seeing how they fit me (or didn't).

Fiction

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag
A magical house helps women trying to find themselves. I loved the characters in this story

When We Were Grown Ups by Anne Tyler
While reading this story, I sometimes liked it and sometimes questioned whether I liked it. The fact of the matter is, though, I thought about it long after I'd finished it (and three more after it). I've continued analyzing and comparing characters and wondering about Rebecca's contentment.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Decent story throughout, but great because of the end. That's all I will say.

 

 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Dreaming on 2015 (and a new offering)

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Are you thinking about 2015? Me, too. This is the time of year where I reflect on the closing year and the one to come. What lessons did I learn? What do I want to learn? What do I want to practice?

Part of my reflecting on the coming year is a medicine card reading. Twelve cards - one for each month - that give me something to think about. What energy might the new year bring? How will I be able to use that energy or learn from it?

Medicine cards are my choice for this type of reading because the animals help me feel connected to the earth and the energies they represent help me look at things in a new light.

I note my cards and their meanings in my planning journal (I use Susannah Conway's Unravelling the Year Ahead workbook and I highly recommend it. It's free, so go print yours!). I think about what kind of flow might happen if I took advantage of these energies throughout the year.

Then at the beginning of each month I study the message of that month's card. I think about how it applies in my own life, how I might use the message to better myself or a situation I'm in. It's a beautiful way to bring myself back to mindfulness and to think about things from a different perspective.

This is a practice I have enjoyed for years as a way to welcome the new year and the fresh start it represents.

For the first time ever, I am offering personal year-ahead medicine card readings. Twelve cards pulled just for you to use however you wish in dreaming about 2015.

When you purchase a reading, within 2 days (or possibly 3 if it spans a weekend) I will send you an email with a photograph of your personal cards and an explanation of each month's card. You may wish to print the email and tuck it in your own planning journal or fill them in on the oracle pages of your planning workbook if you are using something like Susannah Conway's workbook.

Sound interesting? Buy your 2015 medicine card reading here. You may also want to give one as a gift. Just a thought.

Happy dreaming!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Winner of the Inner Alchemy Giveaway

MindyTsonas-IACair buttonWe have a winner!

In her interview last week, Mindy Tsonas graciously offered a spot in her upcoming Inner Alchemy circle beginning in January.

I enjoyed Mindy's Inner Alchemy: Earth Coven this fall and will be joining again for the Air Coven (thank you, Mindy!).

So... who will be joining me?

Well, here's how I decided. There were two comments: Paola commented first and Alina second. So I assigned Paola to odd numbers and Alina to even and rolled a die. Number three came up.

Congratulations, Paola! I can't wait to have you by my side in the Air Coven. Watch for an email from me.

For full details on Inner Alchemy: Air Coven and to register, head over here to say YES to the adventure.

 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Interview: Mindy Tsonas

How about another interview? I am so enjoying these. I love to see how everyone answers the same five questions in different ways.

Today's guest is Mindy Tsonas- a Wish Alchemist, Life Artist, and Feminist Girl Guide on the path of wild discovery and deep integration.

I recently "met" (online, as it were) Mindy through her Inner Alchemy: Earth Coven course where we made our own beautiful decks. You know, I love my oracle decks! Incidentally, Mindy is giving away a spot in January's Inner Alchemy: Air Coven to one Live Wonderstruck reader. Keep reading for details on how to enter!

Mindy's spirit came through as calm and gentle. I couldn't wait to introduce her here to all of you. Please welcome Mindy.

What have you been wonderstruck by recently?

I am always wonderstruck by the magic of kindred community. It never ceases to amaze me how one connection can lead to something new and exciting, and by reaching out and putting yourself out there, real friendships and collaborations can be born! It's truly the foundation of my creative life, and I couldn't me more grateful for such wonderful energy, especially in my Inner Alchemy Circles where we are creating so much magic together!

What part of your day are you grateful for? 

I am most grateful for my mornings. I am a creature who thrives on routine and alone time. Once my kids are of to school and stillness descends on my usually noisy and chaotic house, I feel myself hit my stride and the creative juices start to flow. It's my best time to write and do my work, and it is also the time I love to dream and pour all my energy into making them happen.

What part of your day is tough? How do you move through it? 

The hardest part of my day is in the waning hours from about 5 til about 7pm. My kids are tired and hungry, there is homework and laundry and dishes to be done, sometimes overflow of work - it's the usual stuff of life. I try to make it more manageable by putting on music or letting my youngest help me cook dinner and making it fun. We get outside whenever possible, and walk to the beach to break up the energy, as we all find being in nature to be really grounding and calming.

What do you wish your were more conscious of? 

I practice being present to my life as much as possible. It's never perfect and always a challenge to really be in the moment with whatever is in front of you, but I am working on this kind of daily consciousness and attention to the small things. I find the more I can move through my world this way, the more ease there is in my day to day, but there are always bumps along the way.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

I usually am very focused on work related things that are my passion and calling. It is harder for me to keep that passion in harmony with family and friends and other commitments. Since I love what I do and work for myself, it can be a challenge for me to stay focused on the totality of my life. It's not a bad problem to have, to love what you do, and I do not believe in the idea of balance as I think it's an ideal that can set us up for failure, but I do try to stay focused on the big picture by creating clear boundaries around work and making plenty of time for other joyful pursuits. I love teaching my kids to follow their dreams, as we live it together one day at a time!

MindyTsonas-IACair button Giveaway!

Mindy has generously offered a free spot in her upcoming Inner Alchemy online course to one lucky reader. To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post by midnight Eastern time on Sunday, December 7th.

In the New Year, on the first Full Moon, we will gather in our creative coven to honor AIR!

This season brings a new story... Animal Spirits and Archetypes

We are embracing wide open energy of emerging intuition

Our online gathering, January 4-17, 2015, will be centered around making your own one-of-a-kind Air Alchemy Deck. You'll be guided with stirring prompts and easy how-to's to create and infuse each of your cards with insight and deep personal meaning.  A keepsake and record of all of your soulwork will be collected and compiled in your beautiful, downloadable Inner Alchemy workbook, new this year! You will also learn unique ways to use these cards as a powerful tool in your creative life and work.
You will be accompanied by a gorgeous group of guides:

 



Heather A.Mattern * Jessica Borgan * Lisa Field Elliot * Julie Gibbons * Lisa Lister * Renee Magnusson * C. Delia Mulrooney * Amanda Oaks * Leah Piken Kolidas * Rachael Rice * Andrea Scher * Mindy Tsonas*

For full details and to register, head over here to say YES to the adventure.

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Sherri jumping in here again to say I joined Mindy for the fall Inner Alchemy course and it was amazing. You don't need to consider yourself an artist, nor do you need to have experience reading cards. I cannot stress this enough- no experience necessary! Mindy and her fellow guides will walk you through everything and the participants are so encouraging and welcoming. So leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway or follow the link Mindy provided to sign up. I will be there, too!

About Mindy:

Mindy Tsonas is a Wish Alchemist, Life Artist, and Feminist Girl Guide on the path of wild discovery and deep integration. Unabashed creativity, authentic sexuality, and daring personal alchemy are her touchstones. By sharing her own story, work and adventures, she carves out sacred space to honor the hard conversations that lead to better understanding and kinder self knowledge. She is a provocateur and heart-centered healer who is passionate about learning to trust the truth of our own desires. Find out more at www.mindytsonas.org

 

Update December 8, 2014: The giveaway is now closed. Here is the winner announcement.