Tag Archives: Mount TBR 2021

September 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

September has been a better month for me. It’s not been so tumultuous, and I am enjoying the peace I am experiencing. I know though that I have several important decisions to make, but in the meantime, I am going to savour the peace.

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

“The Giblin Guide to Writing Children’s Books” by James Cross Giblin

Though the latest reprint of this book is 2005, I was using it in a course as recently as 2017. I only skimmed it back then, but took the plunge this month to read it as a book study. Read more about it on my Mount TBR 2021 post.

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Read more about this book below.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“Escape to Reality” by Mark Cullen with Ben Cullen

You may have seen him on TV or heard him on the radio, but have you read any of Canada’s most famous and loved horticultural expert’s books? In this collection of short essays, Cullen (with the occasional piping in of his son) writes about everything from the value of a gardener’s work to how to think like a plant.

Consider this:

“Experience tells us, according to <Peter> Ladner, that local food reduces our dependency on oil. A Canadian study on ‘food miles’ estimated that sourcing fifty-eight food items locally or regionally rather than globally could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about fifty thousand tonnes annually. That is the equivalent of removing almost seventeen thousand vehicles from the road.”

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read in my life! My book club partner and I took our time over it, savouring it over several weeks. 

There are just too many fantastic learnings to mention here, so I will leave you with this video about “the honourable harvest”.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

None

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

I haven’t been writing every day.

Read related literature to my writing.

Not done.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month. These are the two that I analyzed:

“Why I resigned from my tenured position teaching climate science in college” by Heather Short

Why I like this:

-it’s a timely piece, and it mentions several things I have been thinking about lately

-it’s an expert’s point of view

-it’s a mixture of facts and opinion

Favourite quote:

‘Teaching this to an 18 year old is like telling them that they have cancer, then ushering them out the door, saying “sorry, good luck with that.”’

“On Sept. 30, I hope people will do more than just take the day off” by Andrea Johns

Why I like this:

-it’s written from the perspective of a Mohawk woman

-it’s another timely piece, written as a reflection on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

-it offers solutions

Favourite quotes:

“It’s great to, again, have a holiday that recognizes the legacy of the residential school system. But there’s a lot of things that are tied to the residential school system: socio-economic issues and missing and murdered Indigenous women and land and economic inequalities.”

and

“I hope that people won’t just take the day off, like they would treat it like any other holiday, going to your cottage on potentially unceded Indigenous territories or spending the time not engaging with … the history of residential schools.”

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

“Woodland Dreams” by Karen Jameson; illustrated by Marc Boutavant

What I like about this book:

-every creature gets a unique, descriptive name: Big Paws, Velvet Nose

-repetition: every refrain starts with “Come Home…”

-sparse and poetic text is a delight on the tongue

-unique rhymes, e.g., schemer/dreamer

“Butterflies are Pretty Gross” by Rosemary Mosco; illustrated by Jacob Souva

-breaks the fourth wall

-very humorous (I’ll never think of breakfast in the same way)

-plenty of tongue pleasing alliteration (deliciously disgusting, pretty peculiar)

-fascinating facts presented in an interesting way, e.g. read about the sneaky Alcon Blue caterpillar

Special shoutout about the “little senses” series, written for those who are very sensitive, e.g., those on the autism spectrum. I read “It Was Supposed to Be Sunny” by Samantha Cotterhill. A girl adapts to not having her birthday party work out exactly as she wants to with the gentle help of her mother.

Submit one story to a contest per season.

I placed eighth in the first round of the latest NYC Midnight contest, which gives me 8 points. Yay! I submitted my second story. This time I got mystery, which I have never written before, but it was fun writing outside of my comfort zone.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

Suzanne Simard on her book “Finding the Mother Tree”. (Guelph Arboretum)

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

Not done

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I did this.

Blog at least twice a month.

Not done

Weekly treasure:

One of my local blue jays

Challenges:

HaikuforTwo:

I wrote three.

100 day challenge:

Read two chapters of a book a day. 

I didn’t do this, but I intend to get back to it, as there are two library books I wish to complete.

How was your month?

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

August 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

This was another challenging month for me with a lot of soul searching, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Here are my results:

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben

In my third attempt to read this book, I finally succeeded! I don’t know why I didn’t finish the first two times, because it really is a wonderful book. Perhaps I just got distracted? Anyway, to read more about my impressions of the book, see the entry below.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben 

This quote sums up the book and the feeling that you will leave with after reading it:

“When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you no longer can just chop them down and disrupt their lives with large machines.”

I believe the book should be required reading material in school.

Apparently also there is a related movie.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

“World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Written by a poet, Nezhukumatathil weaves her story into observations of nature. A delightful read!

Favourite quotes:

“And so, I ask: When is the last time you danced like a superb bird of paradise? I mean, when was the last time you really cut a rug, and did you mosh, bust a move, cavort, frisk, frolic, skip, prance, romp, gambol, jig, bound, leap, jump, spring, bob, hop, trip, or bounce?”

and

“It is this way with wonder: it takes a bit of patience, and it takes putting yourself in the right place at the right time. It requires that we be curious enough to forgo our small distractions in order to find the world.”

“Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku” by Natalie Goldberg

I started this when I was on vacation in July and finished it upon returning home. Part history, part travelogue, I really enjoyed journeying along with Goldberg. The book motivated me to write several haikus about what happened on my vacation, and I wrote them in the book, so the book has become a keepsake.

“The Comfort Book” by Matt Haig

I loved this book so much that I bought it after I read my library copy. So much deliciousness here!

Example:

“…one of the most common feelings among people was the feeling of not fitting in among people. The comfort, then, is the weird truth that in one sense we have most in common with others when we feel awkward and alone. Isolation is as universal as it gets.”

and

“I used to worry about fitting in until I realized the reason I didn’t fit in was because I didn’t want to.”

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Very sporadic.

Read related literature to my novel writing.

No, I didn’t do this.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month. These are the two that I analyzed:

“My greatest pandemic discovery has been finding the wild in the city” by Andrea Curtis

What I like about this essay:

-Evocative language:

“We’ve also slipped down the side of steep embankments, threaded our way over boulders, passed ancient washed-out bridges, dodged storm water outtake pipes, graffitied underpasses and fjorded frozen streams.”

-Unexpected discoveries:

‘In his beautiful book about walking called The Old Ways, the British naturalist Robert Macfarlane calls unofficial urban paths, the ones trodden but not formally marked “desire lines.”’

-A thoughtful takeaway

“Hearing the voices from my family’s past 50 years later felt like coming home again” by Gayle Belsher

A couple of discoveries:

-The essay starts with a few facts.

-The essay mentions how the author’s journey links to the pandemic, which I am seeing is a common topic now in creative nonfiction essays.

Overall I am starting to see patterns, and I am going to try such techniques as peppering facts in my creative nonfiction essays.

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

These are the two that I analyzed:

“This Pretty Planet” by Tom Chapin and John Forster; illustrated by Lee White

The book is based on a song, so it’s not a surprise that the text is musical. Short and sometimes rhyming text make it easy on the ear; the illustrations also make it easy on the eye.

Favourite part:

“You’re a garden

You’re a harbour

You’re a holy place.”

“Peace” by Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul; illustrated by Esteli Meza

What I liked:

-beautiful and creative rhyming pairs, such as correctly/directly

-peace explained in a child friendly way: “Peace is pronouncing your friend’s name correctly

-animals are featured in the pictures, and the author’s note explains how peace also affects animals

Submit one story to a contest per season.

Not a good month: I got five rejections. However, I am planning on repurposing two of those stories.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

I didn’t do this.

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

I’ve been working my way through a course about marketing writing.

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I have dropped out of one of my critique groups due to scheduling conflicts. However, I still continue meeting with my first critique partner weekly.

Blog at least twice a month.

I’ve completed this task.

Weekly treasure:

The birds that have been coming to my bird feeder have provided a lot of comfort. How many sparrows can you see?

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo

I wrote four!

100 day challenge

Read two chapters of a book a day. This works well for me, and I will continue it.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

July 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

Admittedly summer always throws me off schedule. I forgot that last year in the midst of the “summer that wasn’t” due to the restrictions of Covid-19, our planned trip to Germany had to be cancelled and there was little to do until we discovered the beach in August, where we went once a week, which at least provided a mini respite from the sameness of it all.

The upside of that summer was that I was much more productive, or at least that’s how I remember it. This summer though, I seem to have fallen into the natural summer rhythm of spontaneity verging on chaos. 

We managed to have a one week socially distanced family cabin vacation up in the Muskokas. Bliss: swimming, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, even one session of archery. Not only that, but I was able to read like I haven’t read in a long time on rainy days. Alas, I lost that momentum when I returned home, due to a series of unexpected visits. Not that I am complaining, but the dizzying speed of reentry change sometimes has my head spinning.

Now on to how I did with my revamped resolutions. 

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I read “The Global Forest: 40 Ways Trees Can Save Us” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger. See the next category for a description.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“The Global Forest: 40 Ways Trees Can Save Us” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger.

I don’t think that the title is accurate—more like “40 Ways Trees Play a Part in Our Lives” or something similar—but certainly the book is bursting with fascinating tree facts and stories. I read the book in short bursts, two chapters a day, following the pattern I used in the 100 day challenge. It works!

Quote:

“…most trees are not naturally solitary. They are community dwellers. The community for the tree is the forest. Inside the forest all mother trees get the greatest protection possible.”

“The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature” by Sue Stuart-Smith

I read this as part of a book study with one of my critique partners. Well researched and well written, the book is a delight to read. So many benefits of gardening and nature including even the use of them in trenches during WWI. Who knew? 

Quote:

“It is one thing for gardens to provide respite from war but quite another to create them in the very midst of it. Yet this is what happened during the long, drawn-out fighting on the Western Front. Pretty flowers may seem trivial when shells are dropping all around, but in that landscape of utmost devastation, the beauty of nature especially of flowers, provided a psychological lifeline in a way that nothing else could.”

I see parallels to this in these Covid-19 times, with there being an uptick in interest in gardening.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

“H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald

I tried to read this before, but I never did finish it despite its luscious language. This time I took it slowly, reading about 5 chapters per week and then discussing them with my book club partner, and I am really glad that I did it that way. I think the book is meant to be savoured, lingering over the descriptions.

After her father passes away, Macdonald trains a goshawk. She intersperses her experiences with that of T.H. White, who also wrote a book about training a goshawk.

So much to love in this book, but I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Of all the lessons I’ve learned in my months with Mabel this is the greatest of all: that there is a world of things out there—rocks and trees and stones and grass and all the things that crawl and run and fly. They are all things in themselves, but we make them sensible to us by giving them meanings that shore up our own views of the world. In my time with Mabel I’ve learned how you feel more human once you have known, even in your own imagination, what it is like to be not.”

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

I didn’t do it every day, but I did work on my writing here and there. I did a lot of planning for my novel I am working on too.

Read related literature to my writing. (I need to figure out an actual number.)

No, I didn’t do this.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month.

These are the two that I analyzed:

“The fashion industry’s ‘plus size’ label shames women to fit an unhealthy standard” by Laura Sang

What I liked:

-a doctor who treats eating disorders uses her own experience in having to wear plus sized clothes due to Covid weight gain to talk about the damage the fashion industry is doing

-a call to action, eye opening

“How does a book addict part with his collection?” by Arthur Chapman

-totally relatable

-intersperses personal experience with general experience

Overall, I enjoyed both, but nothing stood out for me.

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

These are the two that I analyzed:

“Wanted! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom” by Heather Tekavec; illustrated by Susan Batori

-I love the structure of this very humorous picture book; it makes it memorable. (Wanted for; criminal activity; rap sheet; FYI)

-Good beginning: “Creatures all over the world are turning to a life of crime, chaos and corruption.” 

-Everybody gets a cool, catchy name: Ms. Jagged Jaws, Copy Cat, Big Bad Mama

“Ocean Speaks” by Jess Keating; illustrated by Katie Hickey

What I like about it:

-First page grabs you right away: “The beach was a blanket of squishy, soft sand, and Marie wanted to feel it under her feet.” 

-Length of sentences: 

“Shoes off.

Socks off.”

-Great comparisons:

“The ocean stretched out before her, like a big blue mystery.”

“The waves were talking to her, whooshing up to her toes and sighing away again.”

-The power of threes: “forests and farmhouses, boulders and bird calls, wheat fields and waterfalls” 

-Plenty of alliteration: “plotting every point on paper”

Submit one story to a contest per season.

I have already done this.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

Not done

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

As a challenge from the library, I signed up for a course at LinkedIn Learning. It turned out to be facilitated by the writer of one of my favourite craft books, which is “Wired for Story”. Sweet!

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I met most weeks, but not every week.

Blog at least twice a month.

Not done.

Weekly treasure:

Doesn’t our campfire look like a starry sky?

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo

I wrote two.

100 day challenge:

Read two chapters of a book a day.

Done

How’s your summer been going? Do you feel like it’s been more like a “normal” summer? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

April 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I read two: 

“Dear Scarlet: The Story of my Postpartum Depression” by Teresa Wong

and 

“Der Erste Tag Vom Rest Meines Lebens” by Lorenzo Marone

Click here to read about them.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I finally finished my first course, and with it my textbook written by Mitchell Hewson.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

I read three.

“the lost spells” by Robert Macfarlane; illustrated by Jackie Morris

This, a companion book to “The Lost Words”, is meant to be spoken aloud. The pictures are as gorgeous as the words. This is one book that I will buy as gifts for people.

Click here for a taste.

“If I Knew Then: Finding wisdom in failure and power in aging” by Jann Arden

I love this memoir. Arden writes like she is talking to you as a best friend, which makes it a pleasurable read. A lot of the book is about embracing your cronehood—something I wholeheartedly agree with—but also about Arden’s past as the daughter of an alcoholic father and an alcoholic herself.

Favourite quotes:

On her dad:

“I am starting to forgive him for being absent, even for being mad all the time. I realize now that he wasn’t mad at us kids or at Mom; he was mad at his own life. “

and

“Sometimes the devil you don’t know isn’t as bad as the devil you do know, and I will never let anybody tell me any different.”

“The Reason I Jump” by Naoki Higashida

A fascinating, much needed, and rather poetically written look into the mind of an autistic teenager, written by a 13 year old autistic boy.

As someone studying horticultural therapy, I appreciated the following passages:

“… our fondness for nature is, I think, a little bit different from everyone else’s. I’m guessing that what touches you in nature is the beauty of the trees and the flowers and things. But to us people with special needs, nature is as important as our own lives. The reason is that when we look at nature, we receive a sort of permission to be alive in this world, and our entire bodies get recharged. However often we’re ignored and pushed away by other people, nature will always give us a good big hug, here inside our hearts. 

“…nature is always there at hand to wrap us up, gently: glowing, swaying, bubbling, rustling…You might think that it’s not possible that nature could be a friend, not really. But human beings are part of the animal kingdom too, and perhaps us people with autism still have some leftover awareness of this, buried somewhere deep down.”

Higashida also writes his own stories, and I really love his story called “The Black Crow and the White Dove”. 

I had no idea that the book had been turned into a movie!

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Done!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week. 

Done!

Here are my favourites:

“We all have privilege to some degree. What we do with it matters.” by Taslim Jaffer

Favourite quote:

“As a brown Muslim woman, I have been the butt of jokes, the target of overtly racist comments and on the receiving end of microaggressions that prick like tiny needles but nonetheless leave scars. 

But I also go unseen in other situations. Like when I am fair enough to escape colourism or when my Muslim identity isn’t obvious because I don’t wear a hijab. Or, like in the case with the clerk casually referring to the “China virus,” I am not the racial group being targeted. 

In those circumstances, I am privileged enough to decide to say something or not.”

“I lost my mother. This is how I know when she’s with me” by Kandace Chapple

Do you have a sign from a departed loved one? When I see a feather, I associate it with my mom.

“The Covid-19 pandemic may be an opportunity to transform the way we live” by
David Suzuki

Favourite quote:

“In this moment of crisis, we should be asking what an economy is for, whether there are limits, how much is enough and whether we are happier with all this stuff.

Can we relearn what humanity has known since our very beginnings — that we live in a complex web of relationships in which our very survival and well-being depend upon clean air, water and soil, sunlight (photosynthesis) and the diversity of species of plants and animals that we share this planet with?

Can we establish a far more modest agenda for ourselves filled with reverence for the rest of creation?

Or will we celebrate the passing of the pandemic with an orgy of consumption and a drive to get back to the way things were before the crisis?”

“How Not to Get Kidnapped: a Suggestive Guide” by Meredith Town

I really enjoyed this hilarious essay.

“Gliding Toward the Sun, an Essay on Cross-Country Skiing” by Kandace Chapple

Favourite part:

“I skated two full strides and figured I was above water over my head. Few swam in these waters even in the hottest days of July because it would mean bringing out a souvenir leech between the toes. It was just as well. Lake Dubonnet is a lake’s lake—all business, no play. The shores housed a thick racket of brush and trees for birds and deer and coyote. The water bred mosquitoes and bluegill and bass. I loved the lake for its solitude. Not once had I come here to find I couldn’t hear the silence on the other side of the lake.”

-Read 5 picture books per month

Done!

My favourites:

“A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart” by Zetta Elliot; illustrated by Noa Denmon

A Black child explores his emotions over the year, and the emotions include joy, fear, anger, pride, and peace.

“Ten Ways to Hear Snow” by Cathy Camper; illustrated by Kenard Pak

On the way to her grandmother’s house to help make a meal, Lina discovers several different ways to listen to snow.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

I am still working on my synopsis for the CANSCAIP contest.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

“Fresh Stories for a New World: Finding Your Stories Through a Practice of Side Writing” with Karen Krossing (SCBWI)

Natalie Goldberg on her new haiku book (Geneen Roth)

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

Alas, I did not do this.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

I attended at least one per week, usually two.

-Blog at least twice a month.

I didn’t blog twice last month, but I have already blogged three times this month.

-Weekly treasure:

My tulip that looks like another flower

Challenges:

100 days

I have done it! I have completed reading my German book! Yay me.

Since the 100 days challenge is not over, I have started a new book written in German, but even after the challenge is done, I’m going to keep reading one book I really want to read but find intimidating using the just two pages a day method.

HaikuForTwo

I wrote two, one from “the lost spells” and the other from “The Reason I Jump”.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

2021 Bookish Resolutions February Wrap-up

Is it the end of February? Already? Where does the time go?

I traditionally struggle with February, but this year the month felt somehow easier to bear, although it was not without its challenges including a couple of tumbles on the ice resulting in some swelling…Ouch! That’s not like me at all. I usually am steady on my feet on ice…Anyway, perhaps it was a signal to slow down and pay attention more, which I have been trying to do, but I guess I needed to be reminded. A painful reminder indeed. Why couldn’t a sticky note with this message have come fluttering down, landing gently on my forehead instead? Hmmm, this might be the plot of a new story. Messages from the sky!

Anyway, without further adieu, here’s my monthly wrap up.

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I finished one book for this challenge—a book written by my uncle called “Africa Revisited”—so that puts me a bit behind, but I am reading a few other books from my TBR list. I am sure that I will catch up soon. Click here to read about the book.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I have the book for this month’s CHTA book club, which I have skimmed but not finished. Some more catch up to do.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

Success! I read one memoir this month.

“this is not the end of me” by Dakshana Bascaramurty 

Bascaramurty documented friend Layton Reid’s dying and then eventual death of cancer. It’s refreshing to see more chapters of how his family is doing after his death.

Favourite quotes:

“would you like to learn the secret to taking on life’s most brutal obstacles?

here it is.

there is no secret. just keep moving, dummy. that’s it.”

and

“for better or worse there are days that just suck the good out of you. your spirit, your strength and your hope. and then there are days when the universe seems to rally around your cause when all prospects seem lost at that particular moment.”

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Done!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week. 

Completed! Here are my favourites:

“After Amanda Gorman’s performance, I’m reminded that poetry has the power to ease a frantic mind” by Millie Morton

Favourite quote:

“Memorized lines of poetry can be retrieved anywhere and anytime, without a charged battery, even in the middle of a dark, sleepless night.”

“I Don’t Buy The Idea That Women Need To Enforce ‘Positive Rudeness’ To Succeed” by Janice Quirt

Favourite quote:

“The world needs compassionate people to lead, work, parent and contribute. I want to teach my kids that they don’t need to sell themselves short in life, but they have to be decent people. Being aggressive or yelling at people may sometimes provide short-term results, but such strategies do little to build long-term trust and loyalty. That’s as true in the corporate world as it was in kindergarten.

I desire to be heard, and I want my kids to be heard, but not at the expense of resorting to cruel tactics. I’m not suggesting that women bend to the whims of assertive men by placating with false niceties, because that won’t resolve anything. But I do think a cultural shift needs to occur, and I’m hoping a more kindness-forward approach, and not flexing to take up space, could benefit everyone involved.”

“Caught in my mental darkness, I don’t know if I can tough it out” by Scott Lear

Favourite quote:

“I also wonder if I have the courage to continue to expose myself in such a naked way. Is courage even the right word, or is it self-serving selfishness? I’m not thinking of the reader I’ve never met, but about my family, friends and colleagues. How will they feel when they read this? Will they feel guilty or mad I haven’t shared my feelings with them? Will they think I’m weak? I don’t want them to feel any of this.

There’s a lot of mental-health stories written after the fact. When someone’s standing at the top, looking down at the abyss they crawled out of. I find this helpful and inspiring. There’s far less written about being in that abyss. What it’s like to be in darkness. To be surrounded by people, yet feel alone. Perhaps it’s because it’s so painful bringing that emotion to the front. It’s easier to keep it inside and let it simmer. Or maybe I just haven’t bothered to look.”

“The Colors of My Life” by Jacqueline V. Carter

Carter writes about her experiences with colourism, which is not the same as racism but a form of prejudice based on skin colour.

“We Need To Calm The F&%$ Down About Parenting Teens” by Jeni Marinucci

Favourite quote:

“It’s about balance. If I freak out and make a huge deal out of a teen sleeping in until 1 p.m. on a Saturday, or spend all our driving time harping about that friend I don’t like or every meal becomes an inquisition over vegetable consumption, I’m raising the stakes AGAINST myself.”

-Read 5 picture books per month

Completed! 

My favourite:

“The Boy and the Gorilla” by Jackie Azua Kramer; illustrated by Cindy Derby

After his mother dies, a boy talks through his grief with an imaginary gorilla, which helps him connect to his father.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

I’m on fire in this category! I submitted to two contests. Although I didn’t win or place in either one, I now have a couple of stories I can play with.

Valentiny 2021

Click here for the results.

Fanexpo Flash Fiction Competition

Click here to read the winning stories.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

I attended three, making up for the lack of webinars I attended last month.

“A Conversation with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer” hosted by UBC

So many fantastic takeaways from this webinar with the author of “Braiding Sweetgrass”, but my favourite is the response to what an educated person is:

“An educated person knows what their gifts are and how to put them into the world.”

“The Power of Hope: Using Psychological Theory to Help Our Hearts…and Our Writing” (WriteonCon)

diy MFA: My #1 Go-To Writing Technique

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I did not do that, although last month I did several.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

Done!

Blog at least twice a month.

Done!

-Weekly treasure:

The tree I sat on while I watched my husband and daughter tobogganing

Challenges:

NF Fest

I read all the posts, but I did not complete enough challenges to qualify for prizes. It’s not the point anyway. The posts are excellent, and I learned a lot.

100 days

100 days to work on a project of your choosing

I have been reading two pages a day of my German novel, and I am surprised and pleased at how much easier tackling a novel that you find intimidating is that way.

HaikuForTwo

I have done one haiku for this challenge.

New challenge:

30 Words

This is a challenge that has been revived. I’ve not posted my first one yet, but stay tuned…coming soon.

I also realize that if my guiding word for this year is Nurture, I need to set some goals to do that. You would think that would be an easy thing to do, but I don’t even notice I’m not doing it. Thus the message from the ice…

I hope that you have had a good February. Now we turn to March and thoughts of spring. Already I can hear the birds singing in the morning again. Bliss.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

Bookish Resolutions 2021

Happy New Year!

Although the bookish resolutions challenge is not being run this year, I am still going to do it, because I found it to be very helpful for my Focus, which was my word of the year last year.

This year, my word of the year is Nurture. I chose this word, because it encompasses a bunch of things I want to nurture, including my writing and my connections.

Kinda looks like icing instead of paint…..

One of the suggestions I read was to make a stone with your word on it. Well, mine didn’t turn out exactly like I had hoped, because the paint got stuck in their tubes and swooshed out. I’m taking it as a sign to also nurture my inner child…

So here are my bookish resolutions for this year:

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I successfully did this in 2020.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

Luckily the CHTA is starting a book club this month, so that will help.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

-Write or revise 15 minutes a day.

That’s a slight change from word count. I’m going to see if a time limit works better for me than a word count.

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week.

This is a slight decrease from last year’s 5 creative nonfiction essays a week.

-Read 5 picture books a month.

I am decreasing it from 5 picture books a week, because I’m not going to be concentrating on my picture book writing this year, but I still want to stay informed.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

New this year for me, I am hoping that this resolution will help me to stay committed to writing something so I can submit something.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

There were so many choices last year, and I am sure that will continue.

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I have so many writing courses that I have never finished, and that I would like to finish.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

So far I am in two writing groups, so I should be able to finish this, barring problems with schedule conflict.

-Blog at least twice a month.

I want to take the pressure off myself a bit this year, but I do still want to maintain my blog. With this second blog post of the month already, I’ve actually already completed this part of my resolutions for this month! However, I do know that I will do a check in later this month.

So that’s my bookish resolutions for 2021! The revision reflects a change of goals for me.

I have been working through Julie Hedlund’s 12 days of Christmas and just started Tara Lazar’s Storystorm. How about you?

Have you made any resolutions? Do you have a word of the year? I’d love to hear about it.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

2020 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

I have done it! I have completed my 2020 Bookish Resolutions!

This has been such a great experience, and I am going to do it again. My 2020 word is “focus”, and this challenge is one of the ways that has helped me to focus.

I am going to do the challenge again (even if it isn’t hosted at the same blog), but I am going to change what I’ll do every week based on what I hope to accomplish in 2021. This year, as well, I am using the templates to design your own challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy.

December Wrap-up

I completed my Mount TBR challenge for 2020 and have already planned Mount TBR for 2021.

-I read a couple of memoirs:

“The Lark and the Loon” by Rhiannon Gelston

Not strictly a memoir and definitely genre pushing. Read my review here.

“off script: Living Out Loud” by Marci Ien

I have long admired Marci Ien, and I loved this book about the highs and lows of her personal and professional life. The structure—a bunch of short stories—is one that I aspire to for my memoir.

Ien is now an MP, and I hope that she’ll write about that experience too.

Favourite quote:

“Fuelled by, I have to confess, a simmering resentment, I began posing the question myself in interviews—not to women but to men. After listing all their accomplishments, I’d say something like, ‘I notice you have four kids. How do you do all that and balance time with your family?’

I’d often be met with long pauses. With, say, ‘I’ve never been asked that before.’ And, sometimes, answers that were quite thoughtful. There are men out there who want to make sure they spend time with their families and are trying to do better on that front. But even these men were slightly taken aback. It wasn’t a question they were used to being asked.”

Watch this interview for more about the book.

-I wrote at least 250 words 5 days a week.

-I limited my social media time: 15 minutes maximum for Facebook and 15 minutes maximum for Twitter.

-I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. Here are my favourites:

The Birthday Party” by Randi Evans

One of my talented classmates writes about arranging her 70th birthday party in Spain.

I need more people with ADHD in my life” by Brittany Penner

Favourite quote:

“I saw clearly the ways in which they lift my spirit and lighten my heart. They often recover from intense situations quicker than I can even process them. They constantly teach me the necessary art of adaptation to life’s various surprises. They remind me to loosen my grip on certain aspects of life because when those things are gone, acceptance is always less painful. There is always a tomorrow in their world. And if there’s no tomorrow, there’s still today and we might as well enjoy it.”

My Publishing Journey” by Phyllis L Humby

How Humby got not one but two books published.

Project Christmas: How I convinced my Persian parents to let me celebrate the holiday” by Azin Sadr

Favourite quote:

“The following Christmas, my parents bought a miniature tree that came up to my waist. I was so proud of it and decorated that thing like there was no tomorrow. That year, the best gift my parents gave me was keeping my light on: They knew that fostering my spirit was more important than any cultural distress they may have felt. I was not asking to be Christian, I was simply asking to be a part of the holiday spirit.”

“A first hand account from an Alberta ICU during Christmas” by Dr. Raiyan Chowdhury 

Favourite quote:

“I know Christmas and the holidays for all Canadians is going to be hard this year.

It’s especially sad in our unit.

Most Canadians know that while this year will be lonely, they will see their loved ones in person again and life will eventually return to normal.

That’s not the case for our COVID-19 patients and their loved ones.

For some in our unit, this will be their last Christmas together. I try to remember that as I power through one of the most difficult working weeks of my life.”

“One card, 50 years of greetings: the ultimate green Christmas tradition” by Lorna Krahulec Blake

I love the idea of sending a card back and forth for 50 years!

Bonus:

I had to share three poems by one of my classmates. They brought me to tears when he read them in class.

-I read 5 picture books per week. These are my favourites:

“The Library Bus” by Bahram Rahman; illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

Set in Afghanistan. Pari becomes Mommy’s library helper on the library bus.

“A World of Mindfulness” by the Editors and Illustrators of Pajama Press

One of the better books about mindfulness.

“A Quiet Girl” by Peter Carnavas

Mary is a quiet girl, which allows her to hear things that nobody else hears.

“From Tree to Sea” by Shelley Moore Thomas; illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal 

What various elements of nature can show you about yourself. I like what the moon can show you the best: “…even when I change I am still me”.

“Violet Shrink” by Christine Baldacchino

In this book about anxiety acceptance, Violet doesn’t like going to parties, but her father keeps taking her to them, until they work out a compromise.

“Swift Fox All Along” by Rebecca Thomas; illustrated by Maya McKibbin

Based on the author’s story. Swift Fox starts to learn about her indigenous (Mi’kmaq) heritage.

Bonus books:

“Pretty Tricky: the Sneaky Ways Plants Survive” by Etta Kaner; illustrated by Ashley Barron

Quick change artists, exploding flowers, and seeds in disguise? What’s not to love about these plants that are masters of deception?

“The Vegetable Museum” by Michelle Mulder

For ages 9-12, this story revolves around an heirloom vegetable garden while tackling several issues of loss.

-I attended several writer’s events:

Interview with Vicky Metcalf award winner Marianne Dubuc (Writer’s Trust of Canada)

Interview with Matt Cohen award winner Dennis Lee (Writer’s Trust of Canada)

To access both of these interviews, click here.

Interview with Rupi Kaur (q)

To access this interview click here.

I spent at least one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

-I blogged one time a week.

-I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary.

Bad news though. I lost my object diary when my computer died. Let’s hope that it is retrievable. 

-Here is one of my weekly treasures:

Wishing everyone a better 2021.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

Mount TBR Challenge 2021

Some of the books I acquired from our local little libraries

Last year was my first year participating in the Mount TBR challenge, a challenge in which you read your own books that you have accumulated over the years. It may seem odd to some people that you haven’t already read your own books, but hey, there are so many distractions to doing so, including buying even more books. All kidding aside, I find that the biggest challenge I have to reading my own books are the many recent books that can be found in the library, especially ones I discover after I read those top 10/100 lists or best new books of the season lists or best books at the end of the year lists. You know the ones that I mean. 

Last year I chose to start with Mount Blanc—24 books—thinking that it would be easy peasy, and that I would far surpass that level. But no, I struggled with even completing that level! But I’m going to strive for Mount Blanc again and see if I can overachieve this year.

I have a bunch of recent books I got from the little libraries in the area—score!—that I saved for this challenge plus some that I barely made a dent in reading last year (less than 50% read counts). I look forward to devouring some and grazing others.

Interested? Click here to read the rules for the challenge. You can also click here to see the books I read for last year’s challenge.

I wish you much reading bliss.

January Reads

“The Happiness of Pursuit” by Chris Guillebeau

From the book jacket: “A remarkable book that will both guide and inspire, “The Happiness of Pursuit” reveals how anyone can bring meaning into his or her life by undertaking a quest.”

There is so much goodness in this book that it’s hard for me to pick out just one quote, but I’ve decided to let you ponder this one:

“In quests of old, the hero had to travel across distant lands in search of reclaiming a grail or key. These days, we often have to recover something more intangible but no less important. Many of us undertake an adventure to rediscover our sense of self.”

A very cool book that has motivated me to think about beginning my own quest. First step: make my life list.

“The Kindness Diaries” by Leon Logothetis

Speaking about quests, this actually is a book about a quest.

I saw the author speak a few years ago and bought the book afterwards. I tried to read it a couple of times, but for some reason I never made it past a couple of chapters.

I wondered why that was after finally plunging past the first few chapters. It’s a very touching book, and I cried several times.

The book is about Logothetis’ journey to find connection to people. He attempts to do this by going around parts of the world and seeing if people will buy him gas for his yellow motorbike, as well as food and a place to sleep. In return he gives certain people generous gifts to help them fulfill their dreams.

Favourite quote: 

“Because at the root of all our love, and the root of all our heartbreak, is that undying, unstoppable desire to be connected to each other. I believe we all want to live in that web of kindness, and not just because of what we receive by being a resident, but by what we are able to give.”

It’s been a great start to my reading year!

February Reads

Only one book read this month, but plenty on the go!

“Africa Revisited: A Diary of a Sentimental Journey of Return” by H.J. Schueler

Written by my uncle, this book has a special place in my heart, as it not only is written about a return to his and my father’s homeland (Tanzania now but Tanganyika then), it also contains a lot of family history. My great grandfather was a missionary sent to the Nyakyusa Valley in 1893, and there’s a lot of family history in that area. It’s on my bucket list to visit the valley.

March Reads

Still only read one book this month, but at least I am chipping away at it, bit by bit.

“Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process”; edited by Joe Fassler

In Fassler’s own words:

“…I ask working artists (many of them writers) to choose a favourite passage from literature, the lines that have hit them the hardest over the course of a lifetime’s reading. Each person looks closely at his or her selection, explains its personal impact, and makes a case for why it matters. Taken together, these pieces offer a rare glimpse into the creative mind at work—how artists learn to think, how they find inspiration, and how they get things done.”

It was hard for me to choose a favourite—there were so many takeaways—although the fact that Sherman Alexie chose just one line stands out for me.

For a sample of what the essays contain, click here.

April Reads

“Dear Scarlet: The Story of my Postpartum Depression” by Teresa Wong

This was a reread. I have this graphic novel in e-book form, but I reread it in hard copy form, borrowed from the library. I loved it every bit as the first time I read it. Having also suffered from postpartum depression, I could relate.

“Der Erste Tag Vom Rest Meines Lebens” by Lorenzo Marone

(English name=“The Temptation to be Happy”; originally in Italian)

I’m proud that I read this book in German. It’s not normally a book I would read but my cousin’s wife left it behind when she and her family visited one summer.

77 year old Cesare deals with life through sarcasm. Then he meets his neighbour Emma, a victim of domestic violence, who changes his life.

My favourite part of the whole book is the last few pages, when the main character lists all the things he loves. Just look at some of the things he says:

I love glasses of marmalade and the yellow light from the street lights.

I love to bury my feet in sand.

I like the colours of tomatoes and the smell of cream on my skin.

There are pages of this!

It reflects my current philosophy of looking for happiness in the small things in life. Maybe I will write some of my own down. 

May Reads

None

June Reads

None

July Reads

“The Global Forest” by Diana Beresford-Kroeger

I’ve been following Diana Beresford-Kroeger for a while now. Besides being chock full of tree knowledge, the book follows an interesting structure. You can learn all about it and about some of her other books in this Youtube video.

August Reads

“The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben

I love this quote from this fabulous interview with Wohlleben: “It’s not really a book, but it’s a guided tour through my forest, and everyone can be a part of it.” Indeed, reading the book does feel like that. I highly recommend going along on the journey.

September Reads

“Giblin Guide to Writing Children’s Books” by James Cross Giblin

Because this book was last updated in 2005, some of it is outdated, but surprisingly a lot of it is not, and it is still well worth a read, especially if you are a newbie children’s book writer. Everything from writing nonfiction to the types of juvenile fiction to rhyming. It has the best example of a query letter I have ever seen, and I plan to model my future letters on it.

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This Youtube video highlights one of my favourite parts of the book.