Monday, September 18, 2017

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Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano, a book review

Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano is the second book in the Internment Chronicles. In this part of the story, Morgan and her friends continue to experience the new world to which they made their way. Some of the characters don't want to be there at all. At least one has an ulterior motive for making the trip. Most of them are outcasts. If all of them were outcasts and knew that leaving Internment was best for them, the story would be far different than it is.

This book continues the interesting premise, but also the story telling style that lacks vigor. I didn't feel compelled to return to reading, but had to remind myself that I enjoyed the story and wanted to find out what would happen to the characters. This is a strange reaction for me and I can't quite figure out why I feel this way about DeStefano's writing style.

Oddly, I found that the totally disconnected covers caused me a problem. For one, I started reading the second book before the first even though I had both of them because I didn't realize they were part of a series. Lately, at least, I've seen a continuity in book covers such that I've grown accustomed to knowing that books belong together without checking too closely. So, the completely different covers for Perfect Ruin and Burning Kingdoms threw me for a loop.

I recommend this series only to older teens and adults. It is full of many mature topics. My twelve year old and younger daughters will not be reading this series any time soon.

Have you read Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano? What did you think of it?

Monday, September 11, 2017

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Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano, a book review

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano is an interesting book that begins the Internment Chronicles. The premise is unusual: a piece of a planet has broken free of the surface and floats in geosynchronus rotation almost above where is broke free. Because of the small space available to them on their floating island, the people of this place establish very specific rules to manage themselves and their lives. Among those rules: married women can only get pregnant after receiving permission and the gender of their baby will be predetermined, the people will live a set number of years no matter what, and everyone grows up knowing who they will marry from birth.

The premise of this story is such that I wanted to finish the book, but something about the story telling wasn't super compelling for me. As a result, I found myself not rushing back to read more. So I do recommend this series, but reservedly. I do not recommend it for youth under sixteen. There are many mature topics broached.

Have you read Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano? What did you think of it?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! Dare to Dream… Then Do it, What Successful People Know and Do by John C. Maxwell, a book review

Dare to Dream… Then Do It by John C. Maxwell is a wonderful encouragement. It's a small book in both size and length, but it packs a wallup with lots of lifting ideas, including profound quotes, and solid truths.

The chapter titles are: commit to your true dream. Ummm… YEAH! We all need to do this! Believe in yourself… yes. Must have belief if we will accomplish anything! Think differently. If we haven't been successful before now, we definitely need this one! Take action. Yep. Doing something is the only way to bring a vision/dream to life! Develop great people skills. Since no man is an island, we will definitely need to rely on others in some way, shape, or form… so learning how to interact with others is surely a necessary skill! Stay with your strengths… for the most part. I do believe in stretching to the limit to break out of old patterns! Never stop learning… absolutely necessary! Never give up… If the dream is part of your life's calling, giving up is simply not an option!

I enjoyed this little, easy-to-read book. I read it twice almost back to back and have had my three eldest daughters read it. I'll probably start reading it with my son (fourth child) pretty soon. Obviously, I recommend it to anyone interested in self-improvement!

Have you read Dare to Dream by John C. Maxwell? What did you think of it?

Monday, September 4, 2017

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Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi, a book review

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi finishes the trilogy begun with Under the Never Sky. This final installment of Aria and Perry's stories is good. The two are, for the most part, together in this part of the story and working to reach the fabled place in which they can live in safety away from the destructive Aether storms.

The violence and deaths are the form most of the mature content takes in this final book in the trilogy. My girls will definitely have to wait until they are older teens to read any of this trilogy. Thankfully descriptions of the fighting and deaths were not overly detailed or gory because I would not have finished the story if they were. I do recommend the trilogy for older teens and adults.

I have to say, more than other books and series, this story followed me into my dreams.  Very strange dreams they were.  This seems to me an indication of a good story... when my mind plays versions of it while I sleep!

Have you read Into the Still Blue by Veronic Rossi? What did you think of it?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! The Rubber Duck Principle: Quack Your Way to Happy by Jeanne Bice, a book review

The Rubber Duck Principle: Quack Your Way to Happy by Jeanne Bice is another good personal development and entrepreneurship sort of book.  The format is light and happy... like a scrap book of good thoughts and encouragement.  At least, that's how it felt to me.

I was surprised to find myself almost sobbing at times as I read the beginning of this encouraging book.  Seriously!  Jeanne Bice says it like it is and what she has to say, though some of it is said in other places, is said in such a way as to be deeply touching to me.  This is another book that I have added to my children's entrepreneurship reading list.

My eldest daughter has already finished reading it.  She did not complete the exercises as yet, but probably will have by the time this posts.  She likes that it's written as if the author is speaking to the reader.  She likes the way it's designed and she enjoyed all the positive sayings throughout it.

If you've read The Rubber Duck Principle: Quack Your Way to Happy, tell me in the comments what your favorite thing about the principle is without stating or rephrasing the principle (which would give it away and enable others to comment even if they haven't read it!).  Also, tell me whether you enjoyed the book and explain why or why not!

Monday, August 28, 2017

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Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi, a book review

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi continues to follow Aria and Perry as they attempt to make their way through various difficulties so that they can be together. Aria ends up doing a lot of traveling and Perry practically battles to earn his right to lead the Tides, his tribe. Although many changes happen over the course of the story, Aria and Perry's feelings for each other remain a constant.

I like the premise of this series and found this second of the trilogy interesting and enjoyable. As with the first novel in the trilogy, my girls will have to wait until they are older teens to read this because of the mature subjects handled within it.

Have you read Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi? What did you think of it?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! Loyalty is Love, How to Keep Your Clients Close for Life by Beverly A. Koen, a book review

Loyalty is Love, How to Keep Your Clients Close for Life by Beverly A. Koen, though specifically written for those in the house building business, has innumerable helpful and useful points for anyone in business.  The premise of the book is that customer service means customer retention, which then means repeat business.  This is definitely the goal for anyone with a product to sell!

I highly recommend this book.  It was relatively easy to read.  It did take me a while, since I had two other books working at the same time.  I have added this book to my children's require reading for their "class" which I call entrepreneurship.  None have begun reading it yet, so I'm not sure how well-received it will be by them, but I will make sure they learn what I found the most important bits and they will likely point out valuable lessons as well.

My Lilla Rose business efforts, being what they are, I have begun planning training for the ladies in my team.  The first book I would like them to read is 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  I will review it also, in this series of business and personal development related reviews.  So far, I am planning for Loyalty is Love to follow 7 Habits.  It really is that good!  And since hair jewelry definitely means there's plenty for customers to come back for, I think it will readily provide insights to the ladies on my team (ANYONE who wants to keep their customers coming back!)!

Have you read Loyalty is Love, How to Keep Your Clients for Life by Beverly A. Koen?  What did you think of it?
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Self-Improvement Saturday! The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, a book reviewed

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is a tremendous opportunity to grow in understanding of how to better negotiate life positively. I was challenged to shift my paradigm when I first read it and as I understand from someone whose read it a few times, this holds true with each reading! Not many books can do that!

One area that I seem still to need a great deal of work in is focused on is Habit 3… principles of personal management… particularly the Time Management Matrix. It's a four square way of considering activities and their nature. On the left, there are urgent activities and on the right are not urgent activities. The top boxes are Important things and the bottom 2 are not important things. The first square called quadrant one, which is the top left (both urgent and important) includes things like crisis, pressing problems, and deadline-driven projects. The top right, which is called quadrant two, (not urgent and important) includes: prevention, relationship building, planning, and more. The bottom left, which is called quadrant three, (not important and urgent) include: interruptions, some mail, some meetings, popular activities, and more. The bottom right,, which is called quadrant four (not urgent and not important) includes: trivia, busy work, time wasters, some mail, and more.

“Effective people stay out of quadrants three and four because, urgent or not,
they aren't important. They also shrink quadrant one down to size by spending
more time in quadrant two.
“Quadrant two is the heart of effective personal management. It deals with
things that are not urgent, but are important….” (p. 153)

Habit 4 is the other that impacted me in a deep and also good way. I believe I already felt to live this way, but it seemed I had more tools to do it after reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Think win/win is truly the greatest way to think and be in both intra and interpersonal relating! There's no reason, in most daily interactions, that anyone need lose!! What a wonderful world this will be when all know, understand, and live out the truth of win/win being the very best way to relate!

Have you read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey? What did you think of it?

Monday, August 21, 2017

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Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, a book review

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi is the story of how Aria is expelled from the protective shelter that has been her home for her whole life and what happens to her after she's expelled. It is also equally Perry's story. He is among those who have always lived outside the protective shelter. The first time we meet him is when he intervenes to protect Aria.

In this possible future, earth now has a layer of magnetic storm above the clouds. These storms wreak havoc when they touch down to earth, which they do regularly. Perry is sure the storms are increasing and his tribe needs to move. Although he thinks he should be their leader, his brother is.

This is an interesting and enjoyable read. I do recommend it for older teens. My 12 year and younger daughters will have to wait until they are older because there are some mature subjects brought up in the story.

Have you read Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi? What did you think of it?

Monday, August 14, 2017

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Sever by Laura DeStefano, a book review

Sever by Laura DeStefano is the final book in the Chemical Gardens trilogy. In this book Rhine and Rowan are reunited and Rhine finds that her life since her kidnapping and her brother have been much more connected than she could have ever realized.

I like that Rhine and her brother are reunited and find it interesting that he has willingly participated in things Rhine would not. The end with all its unlikely revelations is really interesting. This book is definitely the most interesting of the three to me. Again, though, my girls will have to wait until they are much older to read it as it deals with many mature subjects.

Have you read Sever by Laura DeStefano? What did you think of it?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! Go Pro: Seven Steps to Becoming a Network Marketing Professional by Eric Worre, a book review

Go Pro: 7 Steps to Becoming a NetworkMarketing Professional by Eric Worre is an awesome book! I felt a greater respect for my Lilla Rose and Young Living Businesses than before I read it, for sure. Why? Because I've felt frowned upon by others… and have definitely experienced friends and family not taking my efforts seriously. They seem not to believe my network marketing business is for real for whatever reason they believe it's not a big deal.

A business, to be for real, need not cost thousands and tremendous debt to begin and run! That is what used to be the only reality, but no longer! I am tremendously grateful that debt and thousands are no longer necessary!

This book helped me change my paradigm about network marketing. I definitely consider myself a Network Marketing Professional now. I certainly put in enough hours working my business to be taken seriously by anyone if they knew my invested hours… and so, at the very least, I must give myself the respect of taking myself (with all my unknown-to-others-efforts) seriously! What a gift to know I and my business are worthy of that (which I came to as a result of reading this book)!!

In addition to what I've gained by reading it, subjects covered in this book include, but are not limited to: prospecting, inviting prospects to understand products and opportunity, follow-up, training new distributors, and promoting events. I haven't listed everything Worre teaches and explains in this book, by a long shot! And I do highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to train their brain to think in new ways about their own network marketing business.

As for me, I love Lilla Rose and Young Living! They provide complimentary beautification tools and I'm grateful I found them when I did!

Have you read Go Pro: 7 Steps to Becoming a Network Marketing Professional by Eric Worre? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

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my thoughts: on comfort zones

Comfort is such a sweet and wonderful word! I enjoy comfort, especially when it is accompanied by peace. I enjoy air conditioning because it is a sort of comfort. I enjoy a great many things simply because of their #comfort# factor.

As enticing and enjoyable as comfort is, by its very nature, it means things are pretty much the same as they have been. That's how things become comfortable… we are used to them.

When we keep doing what we've always done, we'll pretty much keep getting what we've always got. For the most part, this is comfortable.

Comfortable doesn't always equal good, even though it usually does mean easy. Easy isn't always (probably not even usually) good.

I have experienced a great deal of discomfort recently. Most of this, generally described and felt as a negative, has come as a result of making efforts to activate and run my Lilla Rose business. One particular event, though, was something I did because I'd been feeling like I should and since it seems I'm in a season of going outside my comfort zone, might as well add one more thing to the list of ways I'm stretching!

It's not easy. Nor is it enjoyable in the moment! Yet, as I consider what I've accomplished, I feel really good about it! Most of it would not have been possible if I'd simply continued doing what was easy for me.

So, here's to biting the bullet and stepping outside of my comfort zone some more!

Have you done anything that has required you to leave your comfort zone, lately? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, August 7, 2017

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Fever by Laura DeStefano, a book review

Fever by Laura DeStefano continues Rhine's story begun in Wither. She has left the questionable safety of the mansion with Gabriel and immediately they find themselves in a scarlet district. Her experience there is interesting. The rest of the story follows her efforts to find her twin brother, Rowan. I think the way she finds him by the end of this part of the story is really interesting and definitely a cliff hanger.

Again, this book deals with lots of mature subjects, so my girls won't read it until they are significantly older. I did like it. Perhaps even more than the first of this trilogy.

Have you read Fever by Laura DeStefano? What did you think of it?

Saturday, August 5, 2017

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Self-Improvement Saturday! The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone, a book review

The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone was a tough read for me in a few ways.  First, I have allowed fear to stop me in my tracks innumerable times.  This has impacted my family in numerous detrimental ways... perhaps the most upsetting to me currently is the fact that I have stopped my children's forward movement with their business because I'm afraid.  And when I consider the fear in an objective manner, it's ridiculous.  Yet, I continue to allow it to stop progression.  This is unacceptable!  So, it's been tough for me to realize this lack in myself.  Sometimes... perhaps all the time, really... it's super important for us to realize somehow what we're doing wrong.  If we cannot see the problem, we certainly cannot fix the problem!!!

What else... So, the actual action part of the rule is also tough for me.  I mean, golly... I have six children.  Surely that explains why I don't get some things done... right?  Nope!  Not if I'm taking correct responsibility for my choices.  This is according to Cardone.  And, in my opinion, correct thinking.  My excuses will move nothing forward and benefit no one!  Least of all me and my precious family!!

The thought part is also tough for me.  I've been struggling with this for years in one form or another.  Now, I just have to lay it out....  I've described my goals to myself.  My longest-term ones are, I think, appropriately gigantic.  And when I approach accomplishing them, I will add more that are out of the realm of possibility (or so I may think now).  That way I will keep to the 10x Rule!  hahaha

My problem with this book is the inappropriate (read: foul) language used a few times.  This is disappointing to me!  Before my children read it, a sharpie will mark through those pointless marrings of an otherwise very good personal development and business improvement sort of book.  I am adding this one to my children's growing stack of books for their entrepreneurship class, for sure.  I think anyone who recognizes the family/generational curse of *a belief of lack* should definitely add this to their personally required reading.  And, if you don't, it probably won't hurt to add it to yours anyway!

Have you read The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone?  What did you think?

Monday, July 31, 2017

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Wither by Laura DeStefano, a book review

Wither by Laura DeStefano follows Rhine Ellery from the time she is kidnapped from her regular life into that of one of three forced brides. She lives in a dystopian future in which people have messed with their genetics to such a degree that females live only until they are twenty and males only until twenty-five. It's a really interesting premise and DeStefano tells an interesting story within it.

My girls will not read it until they are significantly older since there are many mature topics mentioned and investigated throughout this trilogy. I liked it, overall, but there were points in each novel that moved very slowly for me.

Have you read Wither by Laura DeStefano? What did you think?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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my thoughts: on becoming a master

Have you mastered a skill? Are you comfy calling yourself a master of anything?

As for me, I've long considered myself a “Jane of all trades, master of 1”… until recently. I don't think I said it pridefully at all. I just really did think I was quite good at crochet. Even a master crocheter.

Then the challenge. A friend asked me to make a particular hat for her granddaughter. I was excited about being able to do something for this sweet friend and set to the task. First, looking for a pattern. To not much avail. I found one, but it was in Russian and the English translation was missing key phrases and words here and there. Ugh!

Still, I felt sure I could figure the hat out simply by studying the photos of it. Ha!

Okay, so, I think I mostly did figure it out. But this challenge kicked my boodalicious bum up and down the street before I did! And it took me months! Yes, not all of that time was spent on crochet. But when I was crocheting, I was working on that bootybumkickingHat!

As a result of all this, I no longer consider myself a master crocheter. Oh, sorrowful day kalookalay! I return myself, head downcast and shoulders hunched forth, to the named rank of “Jane of all trades, master of none”.

Yet, I have hope that I may some day regain confidence in my skill… perhaps a new challenge that will not kick my boodalicious bum quite so long!

Have you ever felt yourself lose confidence in a skill you once felt masterful in? I'd love to hear about it… we can commiserate together!

Monday, July 24, 2017

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Demon King a Seven Realms Novel by Cinda Williams Chima, a book review

Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima is an interesting beginning to the Seven Realms series in which Raisa is living in the castle with her mother and being trained to become the next Grey Queen. Han Alister is trying to stay off the street, on which he was once a leader of thieves, and support his mother and sister. This is the beginning of their story.

Since I read the second and third installments of this series before this first part of it, I found it perhaps less interesting in some ways and more interesting in others. Less because I already know what happens to the two main characters and between them. More because it's interesting to see how the author laid out the events that lead to what I've already read.

This series is full of mature content. I knew my girls would have to wait to read this first part of the series based on the second and third parts I've already read. That is the case. I do recommend the series to older teens and adults. I particularly enjoy the appearance of the wolves and the meaning of them and Raisa's ability to see them.

Have you read Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

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writing life: power in observation

Recently, I have been inspired by other home educating Mamas who have sough to improve their ability to do something simply by growing their ability to observe.

One Mama went from drawing a basic line drawing with some rudimentary shading to drawing a very lifelike image of the same thing a few months later. She simply grew her power of observation between the first and last efforts.

Isn't that amazing?! And what a lesson!

More than likely, any of us could grow in any number of abilities and do a great many more things by simply growing our ability to observe. There is power in observation!

There are some folks, like me, that require some explanation of things to really grasp them. For instance, I might see the same thing over and over, yet without a verbal explanation of it (if it's one of the skills that I have difficulty with, especially), I may not comprehend how to replicate what I have clearly seen! I can usually even describe what I've seen, but it's like there is a disconnect between that and comprehending HOW to do it myself.

My eldest daughter is not like me. She can watch something done a few times and then almost perfectly do it herself thereafter. What a gift!

Which are you? Or somewhere in between? Have you ever learned to do something simply through observation?

Monday, July 17, 2017

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Monument 14 Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne, a book review

Monument 14 Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne is the final book in the Monument 14 trilogy. It is a good conclusion to the story of Dean and the others of the 14.

This story continues to follow Dean, Alex, Astrid, Niko, Josie, and the rest until we know the majority of what happens to them during this time of cataclysmic changes and their aftermath.

I recommend this book only for older teens and adults. The subjects handled within are definitely for mature audiences. There is a horrific scene and a few upsetting ones that could be disturbing to tender-hearted youth and may not be appropriate at all for younger than sixteen-year-olds. I will help my girls avoid this series until they are sixteen or older.

Laybourne does a good job of describing what could happen after a series of seriously destructive natural disasters followed by the release of really bad chemical compounds. I think, in many ways, some of the things she describes would be worse than what she portrays, really. I did like most of this book and the series in general. I did not like the description of really horrific stuff, but I know many enjoy that kind of thing.

Have you read Monument 14 Savage Drift? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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my thoughts: on winning

What is it about winning that is so very… enticing? I mean, war is, at least in part, seeking to win… to the extreme. Winning an argument. Winning a prize. Winning is exciting, right?

Are we pre-wired to seek to win? I think we are, honestly. The thing that is misunderstood in this plane… because we are in a fallen state… is that one person doesn't need to lose for another to win.

Stephen Covey is the main one I know in our modern day who coined the term #win win#. Even though we are in this fallen world, we are not required to be of the world in the way it thinks and does things. It is easy to fall into thinking that there can only be one winner (like the Highlander)… but God's way is so much better and, by far, preferable.

There are some instances when one winner is really necessary. Like in a race. Or in a game. And similar. Yet even in those instances, we are able to choose to celebrate together rather than the winner lauding it over the other(s).

I think it takes greater strength, courage, and character to help others feel like winner even though they may not have officially won the game, or prize, or race, or whatever.

What do you think?

Monday, July 10, 2017

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Monument 14 Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne, a book review

Monument 14 Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne is fast paced and easy to read. I started it in the evening and finished it before I fell asleep. The action and my care for the characters kept me hooked til the end. I look forward to reading the next in the series.

In this second book of the series, we learn more about what happens to Dean, Alex, and the rest of the 14 children we came to know in the first book. One group out on the road, their progress is tracked through Alex and in the bottom of the page marks the miles. Dean and the four with him remain at the big box store and the day count continues to mark their lives on the bottom of the page when the story is about them. I like that denotation at the bottom of the page. It makes it really easy to differentiate and give a sense of place and time while reading.

As with the first, I will not have my girls reading this installment until they are significantly older. There is one intimate scene. Not as detailed as the one in the first book, but definitely older teen to adult entanglement issue. The gore was less detailed than the first, which was a relief to me.

Have you read Monument 14 Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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writing life: it takes time

I love to write. Usually it comes pretty easily… especially when I sit down to write some of the stories of my life for my family. My novels take a little more effort for me to sort of submerge myself into the given world of whichever story before I can write what I feel like it something good for that story.


I have been using most of my time lately focusing on building my Lilla Rose business again. And I've had a few good paychecks as a result. Those are definitely encouraging. Still, all the time I've spent on my business efforts (and efforts to help my children with their business, too!) takes away from time I could spend writing.

Still, I work on my business stuff because I hope to earn enough through these efforts to accomplish things around our property, provide some things for our children, AND self-publish some (or all?) of the stories bumping around in my head.

Also, my business is good practice, really. I've done enough reading to know that Indie Authors (self-published) must market themselves to achieve any sort of success in selling their works.

So, all this time spent on Lilla Rose is valuable for more than just earning dollars! Though, we will definitely put those dollars to good use. I am also learning valuable skills for marketing my novels! In these ways I can see part of why Heavenly Father was nudging me to get back to my Lilla Rose business! He is so awesome!

Monday, July 3, 2017

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The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb, a book review

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb is described as a 'supernatural romance' on the cover. Through the first third to half of the book this description was not realized at all. By the end it is. It is a very tasteful romance with little physicality.

Calder chooses something no other fetch has chosen and then must make amends to return to where he belongs. I'd never heard of a fetch, so learning about that role is part of the story and was very interesting to me.

I do like this novel and recommend it, though it moved really slowly for me in the beginning. Reading the whole thing was worth my time, though I did wonder a few times if it would be. My twelve and ten year old will be allowed to read it if they want to.

Have you read The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 30, 2017

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Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins, a book review

Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins, illustrated by the same, is a simple picture book for children. A little fish invites the reader to follow him as he swims around seeing other fish. The text describes the fish it sees.

The illustrations for this story make it enjoyable for little children. The words are few, so without the art, it wouldn't be much. The art is very colorful, big, and bold.

My children really enjoy looking at this book and ask for it repeatedly. So, it is worth having for the children because they find it so enjoyable.

I would not have bought it, but am happy to have it for my kiddos.

Have you read Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins? What did you think of it?

Monday, June 26, 2017

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Supernaturally by Kiersten White, a book review

Supernaturally by Kierten White is a good continuation of Evelyn's story which began in Paranormalcy. Again, my girls will have to wait until they are older to read this series. But it could be appropriate for those older than fourteen.

I like that Evelyn begins to realize some changes she needs to make in her approach to thinking about things in this book. She is less vapid throughout, but especially by the end. Her fighting skills are seriously lacking, especially compared to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Thankfully Evie doesn't have as much need for them in this book as the last.

Have you read Supernaturally by Kiersten White? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 23, 2017

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Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett, a book review

Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett, illustrated by the same, is a fun story about a Texan armadillo. It is also a little less about cowboy boots, the armadillo's mom, and brothers.

The artwork for this story is really fun with lots for little ones to look at as a parent or older sibling reads to them. The pictures are primarily bright reds, blues, greens with plenty of browns mixed in. One of the things I enjoy so much about these illustrations is that it gives a feel for Texas, probably mostly western Texas, and the cowboy culture. Another thing I enjoy and appreciate is that the secondary story of the armadillo's mom and brothers looking for him is illustrated in smaller artwork at the outside of each page once the main armadillo has wandered off. Those parts of the artwork definitely add a great deal more than what the text describes.

My children really love looking at this book and ask for it repeatedly. They will readily sit and look at it quietly many times over. That, in truth, is the best recommendation for this book's artwork!

The story is good, too. The voice is very easily Texan, which is fun… even more now that we live in Texas. However, we enjoyed this story very well while we were still in Florida. Florida also has many armadillos and cowboys, in case you didn't know.

Have you read Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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writing life: when it gets hot, part 2

Have you ever chosen to live without central air and continued to work in the heat? I sure would enjoy hearing from you if you have! Whether your experience is similar or totally different! Make sure to let me know if you are someone who prefers hotter or cooler weather. That definitely does make a difference.

You see, I used to believe I loved winter. Most of the homes I lived in while I was growing up had central air and heat. So, I thought I loved the cold weather because you could always put on extra clothes and blankets. While this is still true, I have learned that I do not prefer either the extreme of cold or heat. I love the temperate days of spring and fall!

The heat of summer, though, still has the most difficult-for-me to endure temperatures. I have felt as though I would melt a few times, in all honesty. When the heat is combined with more than mugginess… with wetness hanging in the air, I have experienced oppression. Just to be clear, I refer to the last definition of oppression, which is: mental pressure or distress. Seriously! I believe it was sort of a perfect-storm-for-Tori (PSFT) situation that came as a result of the actual weight and pressure that abounds when the temps skyrocket and the weight of water in the air combine in #just# the right (or wrong!) way.

There have been a few days when I accomplish very little as a result of the “PSFT”. I freely admit those days are more frequent when I've been preggie than at other times! Though I am not proud of it, I have a tendency to be a bit weaker when preggie than when I'm not.

Have you experienced any personal difficulties with actually working because of the weather? Please share!

Monday, June 19, 2017

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Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, a book review

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White is the beginning of a series about Evelyn, a teen who bags and tags supernatural beings. In my imagination she looks a bit like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Evelyn lacks the series fighting skills of Buffy. In fact Evelyn in Paranormalcy, compared to Buffy, is rather vapid. Thankfully she does begin to change before the end of this novel.

I did enjoy this novel, though I won't have my girls read it until they are fourteen or older. Some of the paranormal creatures would likely be a bit nightmare inducing to my girls. Also, the way that Evie is so very self-centered might be more of an example to them than how she's changed by the end of this novel.

Have you read Paranormalcy by Kiersten White? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 16, 2017

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One Enchanted Evening by Mark Kimball Moulton, a book review

One Enchanted Evening by Mark Kimball Moulton, illustrated by Karen Hillard Crouch, is an unlikely, but sweet story. And since, by now, maybe you know my predilection for rhyming children's stories, if you are familiar with this one, you might guess that I really enjoyed it.

My children and I really enjoy the artwork that both attends to and expounds upon the text of the story perfectly. If I could have Karen Hillard Crouch illustrate for me, I would. Something about Hillard's watercolor art is very compelling. I enjoy her use of muted colors, even though that is not usually my preference for children's book illustrations. And the varied layout is well done and appealing.

The rhyme and rhythm are really well done in One Enchanted Evening. So, it is easy to read out loud again, and again.

All about bugs getting together for a ball, this story focuses mostly on the queen spider. And a field mouse knight. The unlikely pair attend the ball together, just for fun. Apparently, the mouse is sought after throughout the kingdom. Spider queen says yes and they attend and dance the night away. At the end of the story, the two get married and the last two pages end with sweet rhymes about love. The second to last, has a few overarching and true couplets about love while the last page directs us:

“So if you're wishing for true love
what's important, it seem,

is to accept

all the difference…

and to share

the same dreams.”

While that finale is truly wonderful and, of course, true, you really are missing out if you don't know the rest of the story. I highly recommend this book. It has a sweet tale of a mouse and a spider. Even more wonderfully, it puts poignant truth into the story in a fitting and easily way to which most anyone can relate.

Have you read One Enchanted Evening by Mark Kimball Moulton, illustrated by Karen Hillard Crouch? What did you think about it?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

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my thoughts: on owning a business and writing

Writing can be a full-time job. Running one's own business can be a full-time job. Combine the two and you have… chaos! Or, at least, the potential for it. What it means is you have to get more organized and prioritize activities daily and sometimes throughout the day.

Those who are already published, may find that is all they need to earn what they want to earn. Most writers, even those who are published, make around $10,000 per year. If it is a supplemental income, read: spouse has a job that pays most of the bills, that may well be enough.

As for me, writing has not moved into the “paying” phase yet. Therefore, and because I have goals that outstrip my husband's income, I work at home as an Independent Lilla Rose Stylist for myself and help my children with their business. I have a great deal to manage without writing and business running, so I'm becoming significantly better at organizing and prioritizing.

Planning and scheduling (especially social media and blog posts) have become exceedingly important to me. For some things, posts are scheduled out as much as a year in advance. Doing so relieves me of a great deal of “daily” work, which results in a much calmer homeschool mama.

Basically, though, it really just gets more challenging. Add more to one's plate and the plate gets heavier… sometimes that's good, but not always. I suppose that is as it should be… as one matures, life gets heavier and at least a little more difficult. However, if either the writing or the business running are necessary for any given reason or set of reasons or important enough to the person doing them, then the owner/writer will make it work!

Do you write and run your own business? I'd like to know what you do! What's your genre? What's your business?

Monday, June 12, 2017

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The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston, a book review

The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston is a good book. I did not absolutely fawningly love it. I do not highly recommend it to other conservative Christian Mamas. However, if you, like me, consider yourself a city girl striving to go country, there is much that you will recognize and commiserate with in the pages of Ralston's story about her own move from the city to the country. She is unabashedly (as we all should be about our own beliefs) liberal and proclaims her opinions frequently within the story. If such would bother you, do not read this book.

I particularly appreciate how she describes the process of becoming the lavender queen. It's interesting and enjoyable. Even more interesting is the end and how her work with lavender turns out. So, while there are many things I didn't enjoy or appreciate, I do think it's an interesting story and worth a read.

Have you read The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 9, 2017

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Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, a book review

Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Garth Williams, is a good book for emerging readers. There is a good deal of repetition, which, of course, will help with word recognition.

As for the artwork… the bunny looks like a bunny and the others animals look like you'd expect. I don't see much of a style peculiar to Williams, unfortunately. The art does fit the story. It also explains some of the text well. So, it accomplishes its purpose, for sure.

The story follows a bunny who is looking for a new home. He stops to ask a robin where it lives and knows it cannot live in a tree. It asks a frog and a groundhog as well as knows it cannot live where they do. After leaving the groundhog, the bunny comes across another bunny. The two end up living together in a hole in the ground.

It is a simple story and relatively easy to read. It would not be the kind of story a mama would necessarily love reading over and over again, though. So, if that's the kind of story you're looking for, make sure to pass this one. However, if you'd like your children to learn that bunnies live in holes in the ground (which is true), then this will be a great addition to your children's book library.

Have you read Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

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writing life: when it gets hot

If you didn't already know, my family and I live off-grid. I'll have a series about our experiences starting sooner or later. Suffice it to say, for the purposes of this post, that we have a small solar energy generation system, so we choose to live without certain amenities that most folks consider necessities. Admittedly, many of those amenities are almost necessities once you live with them long enough, but most are not actually necessary to sustain life. Thankfully we do have running water. And hot water. Those two amenities are “necessities” to and for me.

We choose to do without central air. Really, the only air moving we have is when we choose to use it are the fans we have. Most of the time, if it's hot, instead of using fans, we go outside. Amazingly, perhaps, it's almost always cooler outside… in the shade, of course.

One of the unexpected difficulties of being a writer and business owner in my situation (off-grid, choosing no central air) is the intolerance electronics have to the heat! Did you know? Have you experienced an overheating laptop, tablet, or phone? I've literally worked with these devices on cold pads I've jimmy-rigged together so that I could continue to work. Some days I do interpret electronics overheating as my break time. But if I did that all summer long, I wouldn't get any “platform” maintenance done, much less writing anything in any of the works in progress I have going. There would be no social media updating or checking on my down-line via the internet without the electronics that so disdain the heat!

Thankfully, I do have enough scheduled ahead in much of my platform and other business social media that I don't have to worry about taking a break for a day (or few) here and there. It is definitely important to schedule ahead to be prepared!

Have you experienced any unexpected difficulties as a writer or business owner because of the heat?

Monday, June 5, 2017

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Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale, a book review

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale is an enjoyable mystery romance. I started it in the afternoon and finished it before I fell asleep for the night.

Charlotte might just remind many a Mama of themselves. She, however, is far more financially successful than I have yet to be. Still, her vacation taking is perhaps a fulfillment of many ladies fantasy: to submerge into the idealized world of Jane Eyer.

Neither the mystery aspect nor the actual story are surprising. Yet even though I figured out the mystery before it was revealed on the page, I thoroughly enjoyed the author's story telling! I highly recommend this book for adults. Especially adult women. I will not allow my girls, 12 and younger, to read it until they are significantly older.

Have you read Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale? What did you think of it?

Friday, June 2, 2017

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Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos, a book review

Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos is a wonderful children's picture book about making a soup. It is especially wonderful because of the way the story easily teaches the reader some Spanish words and what they mean. It is a story with a good deal of repetition like 'The Farmer in the Dell'. So, the story is told and one or a few words originally in English become Spanish in the repetition. In the back of the story there is a pronunciation guide and definitions of each of the Spanish words, just in case you didn't know what they meant via context clues in the story.

This is a wonderful book for the library of those who want their children to learn Spanish bit by bit. I hope to add it to our library.

Have you read Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred by Samantha R. Vamos? What did you think?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

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my thoughts: on work

I believe we are here in this life for many reasons. This life is one of purpose. To think or believe otherwise is downright depressing. A grampa of mine thought there was nothing beyond this life… and probably nothing before it. He died a while back. I wonder if he's found out otherwise? It is entirely possible that he doesn't realize he's dead, if he's wrong. I figure if I'm wrong, I'm none the worse off. However, it seems to me, if he's wrong, he is a bit worse for the lack of faith.

Again… my love of tangents has again surfaced.

Could it be, that one purpose of our life here on earth is to cultivate love of various perhaps unnatural loves? I think it is! Since God is Love, I believe He wants us to love all that is good – even though we might, in our carnal nature not love it easily.

One love I believe we are meant to cultivate and nurture, is the love of work. Now, I'm not talking about obsessive workaholic type work. I'm really talking more about choosing to love that which sustains us and enables us to live independently, productively, and helpful to others.

To work only for the sake of earning money is a sorry state of affairs, in my opinion. Doing so is, in truth, a manifestation of loving money. While money is not the root of all evil, the LOVE of money is! So, working to make more money when it isn't beneficial (or has become the focus above independent living, productivity, and service to others) ends up being a form of sin.

On the other side, we find ourselves lazy, dependent on others for all that sustains life, unmotivated, and also in our carnal nature: sinful.

The happy medium in this situation is to love work and do it with a cheerful heart. However, the work we should cultivate love for is not just the work one does to make money. Dishes. Sweeping. Laundry. Washing the floor. Repair work of any and every kind. And so much more!

Do you think we are meant to cultivate and nurture a love of work?

Monday, May 29, 2017

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Every Day by David Levithan, a book review

Every Day by David Levithan is an interesting story with an interesting premise. I started it one day and read it here and there and then finished it in the early morning by reading through the night. So, it definitely kept my attention. I'm pretty sure it's more the attention one feels compelled to pay to a horrific car accident than because it is inherently a good novel.

A being moves from body to body, life to life, never two days in one body and life. Eventually, around sixteen years into this existence, the being falls in love. This novel is how the being falls in love and the aftermath. Like I said, interesting.

This book is potentially a very bad idea for many and even perhaps most youth… if youth is for others what it was for me. And since I'm pretty sure I'm relatively normal, I think this book should be more appropriately in the adult section. However, I'm equally pretty certain that the author, on some level or another, intends that the youth who read this book be made less sure of their own existence especially as pertaining to gender and sexuality.

Additionally, most strict (those who actually believe the Bible to be the word of God) and fundamental Christians would find this story seriously upsetting because of the author's treatment of homosexuality and even more: gender identity.

I will not allow my children to read this book as long as they are willing to respect my wishes. I hope they will avoid it until well into their twenties or later. This is definitely not a book someone who is gender confused should read! I do not recommend this book to any teen or young adult.

So, even with all that, there are some positives. For instance, the character A has very good character quality traits. I appreciate how this being desires to do right and well and help those whose lives s/he visits for a day. I also appreciate the choice s/he makes in the end.

I can't help but wonder if this being (and those like him/her) are of alien origin. Will there be a continuation of the story to reveal this? Will we know more about where A ends up and what s/he does? The end was not very satisfying to me primarily because the question of what these beings are is left unanswered.

Have you read Every Day by David Levithan? What did you think about it?

Friday, May 26, 2017

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Where's My Cow? by Terry Pratchett, a book review

Where's My Cow? by Terry Pratchett is my first experience with a children's picture book to which I could easily assign the term 'plot twist'. Nothing about the cover or title prepared me for the way the story would turn and the change in the art within.

Melvyn Grant is a really talented artist. He created art for this book that looks so real as to look almost like a photograph at times, yet he also pulls off great more typical children's picture book illustrations. I dislike the garish reality of some of the picture-like illustrations later in the book. In fact, I dislike them so much that I'm beginning to think maybe I should prescreen children's picture books to make sure they are acceptable because at least three of the illustrations in this book were such that I didn't want my two youngest to see.

Together, author and illustrator won the Children's Winner of The Ankh-Morpork Librarian's Award.

The story is good. It's very much like something my husband would do with a story… changing it to entertain our children. I can well imagine the fun the baby in the story had at his father's antics!

The art is amazing. Even though I didn't like the presence of a few of the portraits, they are still masterfully executed.

Have you read Where's My Cow by Terry Pratchett?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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writing life: why I write what I write…

Have you ever felt compelled to do something? Like… it was just part of what you were here on earth to do? Like… if you didn't do it, there would be some humungous part of your experience lacking and you would fall short of heavenly expectations if you didn't do your best to do… whatever it was you felt compelled to do?

That's why I write.

I could end there, but I have so many more words to share on this… probably won't say anything more illuminating than the above. It wouldn't be like me to be so very short!

Growing up, I heard often about journal writing. I think my first journal hales back to when I was five or six years old. What a treasure to have… only to me, but still!

My Mom was early and often impressed with my writing prowess. She has and likely ever will be my number one fan… though, when my two oldest girls found out I considered her so, they decided they were in some sort of race, vying to be my number one fans. They are pretty funny. Unfortunately for them, my Mom has… like… 30 years on them! So, it'll take some pretty fantastic feats for them to overtake her.

As my number one fan, my Mom has been sure that I would and should be published for a great many years now. She has been sure FAR longer than I have! In fact, she has known and believe it longer than I even really thought much of my writing. See, how can anyone beat that? I mean… sheesh! Anyone else is jumping on the wagon that I've decided I should actually drive! Can you imagine… I mean, she's held on during all the time I wasn't driving… and now, when I'm still learning to drive and she's still stoically encouraging… I think, probably, sometimes wondering if I'll ever get this thing managed. I sure wonder, myself.

My genre isn't hers, yet she encourages me and roots for me and applauds my expressed plans and hopes. She loves historical fictions. I'm pretty sure she probably likes mystery as well. I know she reads plenty of 'self-help' type self-education books. She has only started to get into fantasy because my girls adore it and she wants to understand what they are reading and interested in. So, maybe by the time I have anything actually good written, she'll love part of my genre. Since I'm pretty solidly writing in the genre “speculative fiction,” the fact that she's beginning to enjoy fantasy is definitely a good thing.

I guess the above only illustrates that I wasn't really directed or led to my genre by my Mom's reading choices and interests. I started reading fantasy (and romance) because it was the easiest way to escape the doldrums I considered my life. Imagining other worlds… and aliens… and what it would take to make it there… and what ifs… that was exciting to me!

Now, I still feel a good bit of excitement about those things. Yet, I feel more desire to share what I see (in my imagination and otherwise) by way of a story that maybe could be… sometimes. Other times, I just want to share truths by way of a fantastical story that as far as I know really couldn't happen. Maybe those truths will be easier to understand in the context of the fantastic. Maybe not. Maybe in my stories, they will simply be one of the eight times our silly human brains need to actually GET something!

Either way, I'm doing something I truly believe Heavenly Father has directed. And what greater joy can there be but to live out His plan for our lives?

Monday, May 22, 2017

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Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne, a book review

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne is well written and very easy to read. This story follows a group of children who are stranded as a series of natural disasters begin. Thankfully, they are safe in a large Walmart-like store. Their experiences are interesting and I was hooked quickly and read it through in less time than many other books.

I recommend this book only for older teens (maybe eighteen and older) and adults. There is one scene with nudity and various characters use profanity throughout. Additionally, there are a few pretty gruesome experiences and descriptions. My children will not read it any time soon. I, however, am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Have you read Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne? What did you think of it?

Friday, May 19, 2017

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What Can You Do With a Rebozo? by Carmen Tafolla, a book review

What Can You Do With a Rebozo? by Carmen Tafolla is a wonderful story about the uses of a rebozo. I thought rebozos were predominantly used in natural birth settings and with babies, so this children's picture book was wonderfully educational for me.

Amy Cordova created illustrations that perfectly support and clarify the story, which is what every children's picture book author hopes for in their illustrations, I think. The colors are bright and bold and convey a strong Hispanic flare. They keep young children's attention relatively well in my household.

Have you read What Can You Do With a Rebozo? by Carmen Tafolla? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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my thoughts: on the Mandelbrot Set

Pretty recently, I made a comment about a possibility pertaining to the universe in a group for members of my church. The only person to respond to me directly was exceedingly unkind and taunted my comments. Basically, he acted like a bully and made fun of my thoughts. The most surprising thing about him, to me, is that he did this unabashedly AND he's old enough to be my Dad. Seriously.

I responded that he was acting in a manner that was beneath him. He responded that his reaction was completely appropriate because of the ridiculousness of what he understood in my comments.

The thing is, I didn't deserve to be taunted, laughed at, and made fun of. That was all about him and how intolerant and unkind he is. In the moment of reading his unkindnesses, though, I didn't feel the truth of what I know! How true it is, this thing I've taught my children: the devil loves to manipulate our feelings and drag us down to misery by them!

So, anyway… as a result of that most disagreeable interaction with a stranger who should've known better, I feel the desire to share about the Mandelbrot Set here.

This most amazing mathematical set is not just a fractal. It is one of many ways of understanding the world around us.

This set is believed to represent the skin where order and chaos meet. If we consider this for a moment in human terms, what would that “skin” be? The mind, heart, and spirit of human beings, of course. Our minds, hearts, and spirits are the place where chaos (the devil) and order (God) meet. We are where they win or lose.

In a regular fractal, we see the fruition of sacred geometry, as it is considered. And it is beautiful, as is the Mandelbrot Set. However, in the MS one can move into it (zoom in, as it were) and the picture changes. While this is also true of other fractals, I'm not sure the end of the zooming is also. You see, in the Mandelbrot Set, when you zoom in far enough, so long as nothing has changed in the original, you'll eventually return to the exact same image as where you began.

Which lends a relatively good segue to the next point: The Mandelbrot Set is a picture of a pretty organic looking amoeba or paisley-type thing. On the outer edge of it are various size repetitions of the same shape. On the same outside line of each paisley on the outside of the main paisley are more of them… and on to infinity, it is supposed. If one changes one small (even the smallest thing we could change) on any of those paisley shapes, the whole picture changes.

This mathematical picture is awesome to me because it is a representation of us! First, as I already shared, I believe it shows our mind/heart/spirit as the place where chaos and order meet. Second, we see that no matter our path and life's experiences, we will continue to come round to the same exactly thing… unless the third thing happens… a change. If we change one small thing in ourselves, our perception of the whole world changes. If we change (as one small part of the world), the whole world also changes in actuality.

Ghandi taught it by saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Jesus Christ taught it in many ways, with particular focus on forgiving others.
Awesome, right?

Can you see what I see? If you want to know that I'm not the only one who sees it this way, please watch.