Bodies of Water by T. Greenwood | Book Review

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“In 1960, Billie Valentine is a young housewife living in a sleepy Massachusetts suburb, treading water in a dull marriage and caring for two adopted daughters. Summers spent with the girls at their lakeside camp in Vermont are her one escape–from her husband’s demands, from days consumed by household drudgery, and from the nagging suspicion that life was supposed to hold something different.

Then a new family moves in across the street. Ted and Eva Wilson have three children and a fourth on the way, and their arrival reignites long-buried feelings in Billie. The affair that follows offers a solace Billie has never known, until her secret is revealed and both families are wrenched apart in the tragic aftermath.

Fifty years later, Ted and Eva’s son, Johnny, contacts an elderly but still spry Billie, entreating her to return east to meet with him. Once there, Billie finally learns the surprising truth about what was lost, and what still remains, of those joyful, momentous summers.

In this deeply tender novel, T. Greenwood weaves deftly between the past and present to create a poignant and wonderfully moving story of friendship, the resonance of memories, and the love that keeps us afloat.”


What an amazing book. I have been completely engrossed by T. Greenwood’s writing the last few weeks, this being her third novel I have read in a row. Her detailed characters and ability to draw you into her scenes make her books so powerful.

Bodies of Water was such a moving story about love during a time when if it didn’t fit inside a certain box, it was forbidden. This was the love story of two women, Billie, and Eva, that started in the 1960s. This book is narrated by Billie and alternates by her in the present (when she was in her 80s) and going back in time. It was raw and heartbreaking and also just breathtakingly beautiful. The story was depicted so accurately for the times and showed both the personal and financial circumstances that altered the path of their story in such a powerful way. It covered so many issues including domestic violence, loss, friendship, alcoholism, infertility, marriage, and motherhood. I didn’t want this one to end and it is a book that will stick with me for a long time.

 

Wednesday Randomness |The Balancing Act

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Have you ever been in a stage where you felt like you had to “do it all?”.  I have definitely been there, and although there certainly are life stages where this has been more challenging, I have found more recently that sometimes, less really is more.

One of the biggest things that has helped change this for me is being okay with “good enough”. And to do this, for some things, I have just lowered my standards. This may sound simplistic but it really has helped so much. In order to give 100 percent to the things that really matter to me and our family, other things are sometimes dropped.

There was a time when I tried to juggle too many things, and what happened is nothing really got done well at all. A few months ago I read Stretched Too Thin by Jessica Turner. While not all of the chapters were totally applicable to our situation, I found some of it to be so helpful and affirming to this idea.

“The best advice I was ever given was to imagine that my life was a juggling act. Only some of my balls are glass and some rubber. I can drop the rubber balls and pick them up later and they aren’t any different. However, if I drop a glass ball, they are broken forever—no matter how hard you try to fix it. The key then is to determine which balls are your glass balls.” -Jessica Turner 

Prioritizing the things that really matter to me and our family and not worrying so much about the other things has helped so much. And what is important to me, might not be something that is important to someone else, and that’s the great thing about it. This has been a game changer for me, and also something that has helped clear my mind of clutter which often resulted in extra worries and pressures that I was really just putting on myself.

Determining what my glass balls were was the first step. Like many people, the physical and mental health of myself and our family is a top priority, although how we get there might be different. This past year was my first time being back to work “full time” and I had a lot of apprehension about how I would manage those demands while also meeting the needs of our family and my own self. I could look at it like I had “less time” or I could see it as just needing to “manage my time” differently. I chose the latter and it made all the difference.

I am an early riser so during the seasons where my work is full time I would work for a couple of hours in the early morning so I could still prioritize taking a break during the work/school day to exercise or go to a therapy appointment. These things are important to me, so I made them a priority in my schedule. I also do a lot of my editing on the weekends so I am able to work around the kid’s schedules. I combined seeing a friend while also completing an errand so it was getting two important things “done” at the same time.  Have you ever gone grocery shopping with a friend?! It’s really an amazingly fun thing to do and you will feel like the best multi-tasker ever.

Things like laundry took more of a back-burner. We wash a load of clothes every night and that is a priority, but actually putting it away isn’t. We each have a basket that we separate the clean and folded clothes into and there are certain times of the year that we mostly just live out of these baskets. It works for us. During the busier times of the year, we have a pretty small rotation of things we have for dinner and it simplifies not only the planning and shopping but also our evening routine. Our kids have school lunch, every day. Not only does it make our lives so much easier but they are exposed to lots of new things that they might not be as eager to try at home.

I certainly don’t have all the answers but seeing how much control I really did have was such a freeing thing for me. It has also helped me when I see someone doing something and I start to go down the path of “how do they do everything they do and THAT?!” Everyone has priorities and everyone’s priorities are different. This not only makes me feel better about what I do but it also just helps me be happier for what my friends are doing and not having it just highlight my own insecurities. ❤

Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear | Book Conversation

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Quoted from Goodreads.com:

“One morning, Kim Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year old son in the car while she ran into a store. What happened would consume the next several years of her life and spur her to investigate the broader role America’s culture of fear plays in parenthood. In Small Animals, Brooks asks, Of all the emotions inherent in parenting, is there any more universal or profound than fear? Why have our notions of what it means to be a good parent changed so radically? In what ways do these changes impact the lives of parents, children, and the structure of society at large? And what, in the end, does the rise of fearful parenting tell us about ourselves?”

This week I started listening to Small Animals on Audible and I am now about halfway through. This book came highly recommended from many of my peers and it has not disappointed.  Brooks is a talented writer who not only shares a memoir type style story of her own journey as a mother but also presents a well researched look at modern parenting in America. She shares about the challenges we face today as mothers ourselves and also how this affects the  relationships with have with our children and with one another.

I have found this book to be very relatable and find myself nodding frequently as I listen along. Parenting no longer feels like something we just do in the privacy of our own homes and this idea that the world is watching as we parent can sometimes feel completely debilitating. Between the worries, fears, pressures, expectations, and frequent judgments (from one another and also sometimes from ourselves) it sometimes feels like you can’t win. Brooks is a wonderful narrator and not only is this book really resonating with me but it has also given me a lot to think about in my experience as parent in today’s society.  I look forward to discussing this more when I finish.

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts!

-Genevieve

 

Starting again…

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Almost 9 years ago, I started a blog. It was a completely different time on the internet, the days of which blogs were more like online journals and less like people trying to influence what you buy.

I was newly pregnant at the time and it was a way to document our daily life and my excitement about impending motherhood. Over time, it became one of the most helpful ways for to me connect with other moms when new parenthood looked a lot different than what I had initially expected.

To say the transition was challenging, would be an understatement.  I struggled immensely with the lack of sleep and the challenges of nursing all combined with significant anxiety. I often felt isolated being home with a baby who was upset a lot of the days (and nights).

I found my online connection with other moms going through this, a life saver.  It normalized my feelings, but also encouraged me to reach out for help. I am forever grateful for that community of people who supported me so significantly during a hard stage of life.

As time went on and our children grew older, it didn’t feel so much like it was my story to share online anymore, so I made the decision to stop blogging. Our stories were more personal and less about me and more about them as individuals.

Social media wasn’t anything like it is now. Recently I have struggled, just like many others with the comparison trap. The bright and cheerful photos when much of life doesn’t look like that. But I have also found that it can be a wonderful way to connect with others. I hope that by sharing again, both the highlights and the struggles, that it can be a way of connection once again.

I am excited to start blogging again.  My life looks so different than it did nine years ago and I also have learned so much. I am a reader, a photographer, an educator, a mental health advocate and someone who loves connecting with the people and world around me.  I hope to share a mix of these topics on this space and I am so happy you are following along. ❤
Continue reading “Starting again…”