The happy road to a better nutrition

This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. The opinions expressed below are my own.

After two weeks of diving into the diet program, I found myself on a clear path to achieving my goals. My goal was to lose weight without losing my sanity and after one week I started seeing the results. I started losing weight, and the main reason was that I was shifting how and when I was eating. I started sticking to the Intermittent Fasting (the Lemon water is still my favorite thing to drink every morning) and soon breaking the fasting with one of Joel Marion lunches ideas, and soon enough I started seeing results.

I am basically following the Morning Ritual that Joel Marion mentions at the beginning of the book which is found below

❖ “One of the simplest 3-Minute Fat-Burning Morning Rituals, lemon water is a glass of water mixed with the juice of one half of a lemon. This drink provides all the benefits of regular drinking water, which supports weight loss, digestive health, physical performance, and cognitive function.”

In a nutshell, the Always Eat After 7 PM plan consists of The 14-day Acceleration Phase to kick-start the program and see rapid results, The Main Phase where you’ll learn exactly which foods to eat when in order to achieve your weight-loss goals, The Lifestyle Phase to keep the weight off for good, and within this concept comes the ability to make it easy to follow, without deprivation or exhaustion, and gaining a ton of energy along the way.

After two weeks in the program I gained so much energy back that I was able to add work-out time 3 times a day and I was really surprised by the amount of energy I have throughout the day. Instead of feeling deflated at the end of the day, I had sufficient energy to clock in 30 minutes of running, cycling, follow-along routines, and more.

And if you are wondering, quoting from the book, how Intermittent Fasting works, here it is… 

❖ “Intermittent fasting really shines when it comes to improving the hormones that directly affect your hunger, blood sugar, and metabolism. One is insulin. Intermittent Fasting combats insulin resistance, meaning that it helps your body use insulin more normally, thereby lowering your diabetes risk and boosting your metabolism.”

Once you start reading all the scientific facts backing up this info you realize and understand the reasons why IF works. What are the things I love the most about the book? Well first is the easy-to-follow plan. The first weeks are basically made for you to follow in order to get the results you want. No guessing, no counting macros, no counting calories, just what your breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner should be. You can follow it or mix and match as you want.

I also liked the recipes!!! My family has already picked two or three favorite dinner meals that we have repeated, and they are delicious! For example, the Stuffed Bell Peppers are delicious and so easy to make. the whole family enjoyed this dish a lot. Last Saturday I made the Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Roast with Roasted Peppers Stuffing, and we had a restaurant-quality meal at home. We finished dinner off with the No-Bake Salted Caramel Bars… all of this and still sticking to the diet… Priceless!!!

The book features full and complete meals packed with flavor and none of the restrictions other diets have. The recipe portion of the book also includes a great variety of smoothies that I and 12 year-old son have tried and loved.

Without a doubt, Joel Marion’s Always Eat After 7PM program makes dieting easy and eliminates 90% of reasons for resistance, allowing you to easily adapt to this healthy new lifestyle.

I invite you to see my previous two posts!

Learn more about the book and how to purchase here

This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. The opinions expressed below are my own.

weight loss with the right guidance

This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. The opinions expressed below are my own

Having a hectic life with little room to take the time to do elaborate diet plan meals or extensive work out hours was the main reason to choose Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion as my way to go to accomplish my weight loss goals, specially when my 40th birthday is around the corner. I am a mother and a wife with a full time job as an marine engineer, with a Life Coaching growing business, and although we condition ourselves to be ok being the last one in line… I wanted to put me first and treat myself to a healthier me.

For my first post please see link:

The book opened the opportunity to shift how I diet. Instead of watching my family eat dinner while I had a shake or a cup of tea or coffee (as part of a diet), I am now actively participating and eating during dinner time. This alone was for me a big motivation to go ahead and sign up on this program and follow the book. Additionally, I found myself reflecting on my previous beliefs of food, nutrition, calorie intake, and health. I truly enjoyed how all those previous concepts are being replaced by “smarter” ones that are allowing me to reach my weight loss goal while keeping my sanity.

The more I read the book the more I realized the great impact of the knowledge this book was provided to me. From breaking away from the notion that in order to lose weight I needed to starve myself to the new concept of intermittent fasting and eating late at night. This book impacted me health-wise way more than I expected it. It opened my eyes to a new way of looking at nutrition, weight loss, and a healthy lifestyle. Based on surprising science, Always Eat After 7 PM debunks popular diet myths and offers an easy-to-follow diet that accelerates fat-burning and allows you to indulge in your most intense food cravings: Eating the majority of your calories at night. 

In this post, I wanted to provide more info on the author Joel Marion. Bestselling author, Joel Marion, is a fitness expert and nutritionist debunking the myths underlying traditional dieting and offers a simple, highly effective weight loss program. I believe that a great book is the result of a great author and this is no exception. Below is a quick interview with the author that allows us to understand his background, vision, and passion for achieving optimal nutrition.

1. What was the inspiration behind writing this book? 

Joel Marion: After authoring 6 best selling books it was glaringly obvious there were 2 huge misconceptions about dieting that needed to be exposed. The first is that you can’t eat late at night or before bed, which science now shows is NOT true. And second, you can’t eat large portions that satisfy your natural instinct. This book solves both these problems by providing an evidence-based, enjoyable approach to dieting that can be used by any person to quickly achieve their weight loss goals.

 2.  How long did it take for you to develop and perfect this diet?

Joel Marion: It actually took several years of researching for me to discover the real science of eating late at night. After a few years of tweaking and refining, I finally came up with a rapid fat loss solution that overcomes all the pitfalls of traditional diets. 

3. You are the author of six bestselling books, what is different about this book compared to your others?

Joel Marion: Although many of the concepts are similar, the biggest difference is that you don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorite foods. You don’t have to deal with the burden of eating every few hours. And you don’t have to skip the carbs at dinnertime or avoid eating before bed.

The more I get to know about Joel and his approach to this new exciting diet, it is clear to me that experience and acknowledges are clearly backing up Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion which is now available to purchase. It is truly inspiring when you are following a proven diet that is backed up by scientific facts, personal training experience, and in-depth research. 

I invite you learn more about the book and how to purchase here where additional information on this new revolutionary dieting concept can be found.

This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. The opinions expressed below are my own

The road to a healthy lifestyle… when you are turning 40!

This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. The opinions expressed below are my own.

I am a few weeks of turning 40 years old and my journey to my “ideal weight” has been an uphill battle all the way up.

When I was in my teens I was what is called in very good shape. I did taekwondo, I watched what I ate, and my father was an avid runner, so that kept the household into a more active and healthy lifestyle. When I was 17 I got into a pretty bad car accident and during my long period of not being able to move, my diet was restricted in a way to keep a balanced weight (which consisted of steamed broccoli and grilled chicken for about 8 months…). And then came college, the usual “freshman 15” was more like a “freshman 30”, and from that point on the battle to be in my ideal weight started.  After two pregnancies and countless of yo-yo diets, my weight went up and down until I was 34 years old. I was able to stick to a diet plan and finally reach my ideal weight… I was indeed a happy camper.

However, even though I reached my goal something was not right, because the road to achieving my goal was just unbearable. I was calorically deprived and overly tired from constant rigorous exercise, and in the minute that I reached my goal, I knew that… 

  1. I could not keep counting calories forever.
  2. I could not keep running miles after miles to keep my metabolism moving.

So as the scale kept going up in numbers,  I realized I needed to find an alternative that 

  1. Will let me eat food that I wanted 
  2. Will not give me a 1-hour killer workout routine 5 times a week

So I started looking around to the next best alternative and that search has continued until today. My husband, who is following a very good healthy lifestyle, mentioned Intermittent Fasting. So I did some research and the information was very conclusive about its benefits. It sounded like an amazing alternative, but I felt that everyone had a way of “fasting” and how to break the fasting or when to break the fasting was not really a common answer. 

But I luckily found Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion and it was a match made in heaven. It clicked the boxes of what I needed and even better clicked the boxes of what I wanted, letting me eat the foods I wanted, not giving me crazy exercise routines, and keeping me in a plan that would keep me sane, in a good mood, and healthy.    

Bestselling author, Joel Marion, is a fitness expert and nutritionist debunking the myths underlying traditional dieting and offers a simple, highly effective weight loss program. 

Right into the first Chapter, Joel dives right into why this program will work for me, debunking myths after myths of dieting confusion, mistakes, and false hopes.  

This info is backed up by scientific studies carried out all over the world showing the benefits of eating late at night and the benefits of intermitting fasting. Based on surprising science, Always Eat After 7 PM debunks popular diet myths and offers an easy-to-follow diet that accelerates fat-burning and allows you to indulge in your most intense food cravings: Eating the majority of your calories at night. 

Here is one of my favorite quotes in the book so far:

“Late-night eating also curbs calorie intake the next day. In a four-week study, dieters added a snack to their daily regimen 90 minutes after dinner every night, and check this out: late-night eaters ate an average of 397 fewer calories per day.” 

Knowing that his book is backed by multiple studies and researches almost confirm that you will get real and lasting results. He also explains how controlling the time that you eat will greatly benefit not only your weight loss but also how you should consume the meals (time, quantity, and the right foods) for your lunches, dinners, and snacks. Not only does Joel give tons of tips and tricks to stick to his plan, he includes more than 70 recipes that help with your weight loss journey. 

Below is the book cover for you to check it out as well:

Additionally below is additional info I was able to find online:


I read the first few chapters of the book and am now starting to get ready to dive into my weight loss journey with Joel Marion as my guide, I feel excited and motivated!  I will turn 40 years old with a big smile as I embark on the Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion  plan! 

Always Eat After 7 PM: The Revolutionary Rule-Breaking Diet That Lets You Enjoy Huge Dinners, Desserts, and Indulgent Snacks—While Burning Fat Overnight by Joel Marion is now available to purchase. Learn more about the book and how to purchase it here…

More post to come as the plan progresses!

This post is brought to you by our sponsor, “Always Eat After 7 PM”. The opinions expressed above are my own.

my story with books: a literary road trip

I owe my love of books to my dad, who has always been an avid reader.  Throughout my life certain books have remained in my memory, imprinted on me through the feelings they inspired by reading its pages, those feelings and emotions have stayed with me, providing a place of refuge when needed. Below is a quick narrative of these books throughout my life:

When I was 9 years old, my father gave me my first book called “Heart”, by the Italian writer Edmondo de Amici,. This was the book that welcomed me to the world of reading. My second book was the “Little Prince” by Antoine De Saint-Exupery, which I have read several times during my lifetime. When I got pregnant it was the first book I bought my children, and we currently still have three versions of this book to this day.

When I was 13 years old I read “100 Years of Solitude” by the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I vividly remember re-reading its pages, over and over, as I felt a door opening right in front of me showing me the brilliance of the human mental creativity. I clearly remember when Ursula (a character in the book) passed away, I cried, closing the book for a few minutes showing my respect to this imaginary, but majestic character. 100 Years of Solitude was the first book I bought in English. When I understood that I was going to live in the US, I went to a book store and bought it, it was the first book for my new library.

At 14 I read “Sophie’s World” by the Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder who introduced me to the fascinating world of magic books, in which your mind can expand with learning and at the same time become fascinated by the storyline.  At 15 I read my first scary book (and the one that has scared me the most so far), “The Turn of the Screw” by the English writer by Henry James, which gave me nightmares for months. I loved the feeling this book gave me, after watching so many horror movies, no fear has been greater than the one I felt that lonely afternoon, reading this book as the night was falling…

At 16 I had a Spanish teacher who invited me to expand my knowledge of reading, I read “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Manchaby Miguel de Cervantes (I can still recite the first two paragraphs of this book) along with other distinguished Spanish writers such as Federico Garcia Lorca, Antonio Machado, Miguel de Unamuno, and many others.  

My father did his job too, giving me a free pass to the home library with vast collection of Latin-American writers. I lost myself in the poems of the Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges, the Chilean poet Gabriella Mistral, the Mexican poet Octavio Paz, and the Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario (his poem “A Margarita Debayle” is one of my all times favorites, being able to remember the entire poem and giving me happy thoughts every time I read it.), among others. I devoured the books of brilliant writers like the Mexican writer Juan Rulfo’s “The Burning Plain”, the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa’s “The Green House”, and the Argentine writer Julio’s Cortazar’s “Hopscotch” (which impacted me tremendously), and of course the Chilean writer Isabelle Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” (and “Paula” which I consider one of the most heartfelt written books, so raw with sadness and hope that it touches your soul).

I spent my teenage years indulging in coming of age books like the Gothic novels by V.C. Andrews “Flowers in the Attic” (the whole series), “The Babysitters Club” by Ann M. Martin, as well as touching books like “The Alchemist” by the Brazilian writer Paulo Cohelo.

When I got to college, I returned to my father’s library every time I would go visit, stealing a book or two right before coming back to the US to “read in the plane” but never with the intention of returning them. Among my traveling companions were the Portuguese Jose Saramago, the British Kazuo Ishiguro, the Belarusian Svetlana Alexandrovna Alexievich (one of my favorites writers), the Spanish Arturo Perez-Reverte, and the American Stephen King among others.

In my latest years I have continued to read, sometimes more committed than others, still taking into account every suggestion my dad gives me (The last book suggested by my dad was by the Argentine writer Eduardo Sacheri’s “Papers in the Wind” which I loved). He will bring me books in Spanish (even when written by American or other non-spanish speaking writers) and I will go and buy books in English, submerging myself with American writers more and more every day.  

I take turns between old-time literary masterpieces, and new and upcoming writers. I take turns (simultaneously) between self-help books and fiction, mixing in autobiographies and comedy.  I do work in expanding my reading experience, signing myself in the “Goodreads” book clubs, local book clubs, and following my oldest son’s reading adventures.

What about you? What books have impacted you the most? Which books are you reading now? What is your personal story with reading?

… and always keep a book by your nightstand… it may surprise you.

Book Review: the unexpected joy of being sober by Catherine Gray

This blog has personal input and you are invited to provide any comments at the end of the blog.


I got this book as a recommendation in a book discussion in Goodreads… I ordered online and was truly anticipating its arrival. When it came, I felt a bit of a panic… I have been sober for a while now, on my own, and after years of choosing sobriety, this was my first book on the topic of sobriety… so I was anxious… however I quickly realized I did not need to be anxious at all… just disappointed I did not read this way earlier.

The book is witty, funny, honest, informative, educational, heart-warming, and at times heart-wrenching… I read The book is witty, funny, honest, informative, educational, heart-warming, and at times heart-wrenching… I read this book slowly and taking my time.  Some parts I was able to read faster than others, and other chapters I read them twice… yes, as in with a highlighter and a journal next to me twice…

As always, below is my honest review of the book.

My Personal Opinion:

The first aspect of the book that called my attention is how personal its voice is.  It was brutally honest but full of compassion at the same time. Having the personal experience of what happens when alcohol takes over, I was deeply connected to her story, from her denial, to her acceptance, and taking the hard-strong decision to stop drinking and embracing sobriety along the way.

The book goes back and forth at times, making comparisons of how it “was when drinking” and how “it is now sober”.  It gives hope, it gives comfort, it gives self-compassion, at times allows us to forgive our decisions as we, along with the author, learn to make better decisions and move forward towards sobriety.

The story is her story, so we can relate at times, and at times we cannot. However, the author does point out several times, that the story is about her’ process of getting sober and she hopes that her experiences can connect with yours or a loved one of yours (in my case at times I had a strong understanding, and at times I did not… but it was her story, and from my point of view, I was happy she was just been honest about her journey.  There were many parts in this book in which I saw the courage of her storytelling. It takes guts to put it out all like that… but as a person pursuing sobriety, the book gave me the lesson than if I am not honest… well I am still in denial.  The honesty of the book has its mission, and I embraced it and I am thankful for it.

I do recommend this book for those people who are entertaining the idea of sobriety, and for those who have made the decision to be sober, whether you have done the 12 steps or you are trying on your own for the first or 20th time, read the book, it will help you.  The book has a lot of scientific data to back up the many why’s of how we feel, think, and act while we drink, and then when we stop.  It gives us clarity to understand our behavior and decision-making abilities while we are seeking the companionship of the alcohol and the radical change of our lives when we decide to step away from it.

Favorite quotes:

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change’.”

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

“I didn’t have a drinking problem as such. I was great at drinking! It was the stopping. I had a stopping problem.”

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine GrayThe Witch Elm by Tana French

“Once the fear took hold, I was fucked. I’d never known anything like it could exist: all-consuming, ravenous, a whirling black vortex that sucked me under so completely and mercilessly that it truly felt like I was being devoured alive, bones splintered, marrow sucked.”

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

On playing games in relationships “You’re not a performing seal. If you need to perform tricks to keep his/her attention, you never really had it to begin with. Imagine how exhausting that would be long term. You’re starting an intimate, supportive relationship, not joining the circus”

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

“What I was really thinking was: Don’t even for a minute think I’m vanilla because the truth is I am so hardcore I had to quit. I drank so much it was a matter of life and death. I’m like a rock star compared with you… you should look at me with a touch of fear and awe because I am such a badass you would quiver just to think about the amount of rot gut I’ve ingested over the years. So step off with your preconceived notions, okay?”

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober – Catherine Gray

The Highlights of the Book:

The highlight of the book is the honesty with which it is written. You can see the soul-baring right in front of you and you want to hug it while telling yourself you can do it too.

Additionally, as a self-help book is full of science-based data, with countless studies outcomes clearly mentioned and many doctors from Neuroscientist to Psychiatrists giving us detailed information about the why and hows of alcohol abuse and reinforcing the fact that walking away from it its the best choice we have when it cannot be moderated.

The book is also full of inspiring quotes from Frida Kahlo to Maya Angelou, the inspiration is found all over the book and it gives you strength and courage.   It touches on the sensitive subject of alcohol and Hollywood and how being sober is “like going against” what is view as fun and classy.  The author does provide us connection with other sober people, from Podcasts to Actors, the point is that we are not alone and singled out. 

 Finally, the book is entertaining, I found myself laughing out loud and constantly nodding, I can clearly imagine the scenes, the bars, the restaurants, the friends, the wild parties and the painful aftermath.

The Negatives:

It is based on the author, Catherine Gray, journey to sobriety, so it is an autobiography which is also a self-book. If self-improvement books are not your type, this is not for you, also if you have no problem with alcohol or you are very comfortable with your consumption of alcohol this book is not for you.  The main purpose of the book is to give you the courage to take up on your journey to sobriety (and make it your own), so if alcohol is not the problem, I would not really recommend the book.

Information as found in Amazon:

  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Aster
  • Publication Date: December 18, 2018
  • Category: Self-help
  • Language: English

What are you reading right now? What book would you recomend me? I am always looking for recommendations to add to my reading list.

Below is the link to the book in Amazon. It is an affiliate so I do get a small comission. Thanks.

Below are my favorites thing right now when I am reading… They are listed from my Amazon affiliate program.

Take the time to listen to your own story: a Journey to Self-discovery

From a very young age I was always ready to go with the flow. There was this innate acceptance of how life would play out:  graduate from school, go to college, get married, and have children, raising a family while continuing to work professionally hard with the goal of climbing the corporate ladder and being able to retire comfortably.

When I graduated from high school, I did not have any questions considering what I wanted to study … while all my friends were discussing about their future careers … medicine, law, economics, I had the brilliant idea of ​​studying Marine Engineering … it made sense to me being a Panamanian with the importance of the Panama Canal always present. 

I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in New Orleans where I met my husband, we married when I was 24, we had our first son when I was 27, and my second son when  I was 30. During all this time I worked constantly as a marine engineer for which I feel an incredible passion.  I was 30 and life was going as planned. I kept looking forward, ticking-off all the life to-do boxes, convinced I was on the right path…

Then I turned 35 years old and one day it hit me! I needed to reflect on my life, to take a little time to see where I was, to reconnect with myself in a profound way. The chosen path was never questioned, but how much I was enjoying my day to day was. I felt a terrible fear when I understood that the years had passed, and that when I looked back, there were immense moments of joy, but also great parts of my time being more in a constant wake up, work, housework, kids time, sleep and repeat … I realized my soul wanted to enjoy my day-to-day. I wanted to be aware of my life, to maximize every minute of it. I wanted to know if I was living my life to the fullest.

After talking to my husband for several days I decided that it was up to me to put the time and effort into creating a sense of awareness in my life. To discover and create techniques and ways of seeing my day to day, not as just another day, but as a unique day. I studied several Life Coaching courses, I read several books about mindfulness, sobriety, and self-improvement in my life and to the lives of the people I love the most. I saw with a magnifying glass the parts of my life that I wanted to change and those that made me feel more proud and I decided to keep my goal of always trying to improve as a person, not as a wife, or as a mother, but as me, as Mari. Being able to face the person I am and accepting her is my goal every day, every morning, and every moment.

After almost 5 years I feel that my life is in the now, in this moment, as I write this post, as I cook dinner every day, as I made my bed, as I earn a promotion, as I hear my husband and my sons telling me that they loved me and appreciate me.   My resolution every day is to have a full life that occurs every day.  Throughout this search for acceptance, awareness, and mindfulness, I have improved my relationship with myself, my husband, my children, my parents, and my friends. I got my certificates as a Life Coach with the mission of helping other women find their Purpose of Life and Happiness.

We all have the right at some point to stop the speed train of our lives and reflect about the past, recognize our present, and envision our goals for the future.

Book Review: the witch elm by tana french

At the end of this post there are two Book Review templates for you and your kids!


I got this book at Barnes and Noble, way before the current mayhem took place. After a quick glance to the bI got this book at Barnes and Noble, way before the current mayhem took place.  After a quick glance at the book I decided it would be worth the read. I did not know about the author and her previous book, I literally judged the book by its cover.  As I started reading I had no idea what the plot, characters, or main idea of the book were, I readily submitted myself to the author narrative, the story, the backstory, and the mystery.

My Personal Opinion:

I personally loved the plot of this book. I loved how disconnected I felt from the main character at the early beginning just to evolve together with the character until I felt as I was him, I was able to understand his thoughts, his feelings, his fears.  

The characters of the novel are well described, with a lot of details, the unnerving feeling that some of them gave me, the apathy I could feel from some of them, then the deep love, the deep kindness, the anguishing feeling of knowing that life is ending, the fear of not suddenly not knowing who we are, the devastation of sickness or injury. So many feelings throughout the story, my feelings were in a continuous dance where many music was played.

At times I felt as if the lesson of “anyone’s good luck can just run out” was very present at many times.   The way the author translate that message throughout her characters and their stories was astonishing to me. I am honestly looking forward to continue to read other books from Tana French.

I do recommend this book, especially for those readers looking to wake up their reading neurons and are looking for a special treat of self-discovery, human empathy, and social apathy.   The book is full of beautiful prose, beautiful characters, drama, mystery, past and present coming to a shocking merge.

Favorite quotes:

“Honestly it wasn’t Susanna I was tired of, not really; it was me, wronged innocent, white knight, cunning investigator, killer, selfish oblivious dick, petty provocateur, take your pick, what does it matter? it’ll all change again”

The Witch Elm by Tana French

“The thing is, I suppose,” he said, “that one gets into the habit of being oneself. It takes some great upheaval to crack that shell and force us to discover what else might be underneath.”

The Witch Elm by Tana French

““Once the fear took hold, I was fucked. I’d never known anything like it could exist: all-consuming, ravenous, a whirling black vortex that sucked me under so completely and mercilessly that it truly felt like I was being devoured alive, bones splintered, marrow sucked.”

The Witch Elm by Tana French

“But we’re so desperate, aren’t we, to believe that bad luck only happens to people who deserve it.”

The Witch Elm by Tana French

The Highlights of the Book:

The book is written in the first person and that intimacy that we developed with the main character is unique as in times you can feel the despair, the urge to connect, the urge to understand, the urge to make sense inside his head of what is going right in front of him.  It makes you feel as you are part of the story and I did develop an incredible empathy for him, holding his hands throughout the narrative of the book.

The Negatives:

The story is thick and waved into a waterproof canvas that at times may lose you when you are trying to keep up.  Some parts of the story were a bit too long and a part of me wanted it to move forward faster. The frustration of the main character at times was a bit overwhelming and will bring the story into a depressing crossroads in which all possible roads did not provide a positive alternative, but more tragedy.  Be patient at the beginning and stick to the story and you will be rewarded. It is a long story and if you prefer shorter books this maybe a bit difficult to digest.

Information as found in Amazon:

  • Print Length: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition
  • Publication Date: October 9, 2018
  • Category: Thriller
  • Language: English

What are you reading right now? What book would you recomend me? I am always looking for recommendations to add to my reading list.

Below is the link to the book in Amazon. It is an affiliate so I do get a small comission. Thanks

Below are some Book Reviews Templates that you can use for you and your kids now that we will spending more time at home due to the current outbreak of the Covid19

Below are my favorites thing right now when I am reading… They are listed from my Amazon affiliate program.

Changing our priorities and moving forward

These days have been a learning curve for all of us towards empathy and understanding the people around us.  It’s humbling to understand that at the end of the day, the old saying, “We are all the same” is true and that no matter in what part of your life you find yourself, the ability to understand that there are still much more to learn can change our perspective, change our priorities, and also change our goals.

Changing priorities and goals have become a necessity for survival.  We need to reassess our current needs and wants, we need to connect with our community, we need confront the person we have become, and take the time to understand that right now, we are having the opportunity to change, and to change for the better.

During these four weeks, my priorities and goals have changed in all aspects of my life, and I believe I am not the only one.  Goals like, “Losing weight” have been upgraded to “Eat healthy to make your immunity system stronger”, and when my priority was “To find time for myself”, is now “Finding time to spend time conversing with my kids”,  and so on. My goals and priorities are shifting constantly these days and it is important to acknowledge that fact and accept it, so that we can allow those changes to take place within us.

This is a learning curve to all of humanity, and we are on this together, changing, evolving, and moving towards progress is the way we move forward and thus, it needs to be embraced.

As we move forward, below are questions that can help us understand these changes that are happening within ourselves and can allow us to have the courage to accept these changes, and the clarity to trace the roadmap to move forward.

  1. What 3 outcomes would you most like to achieve over the next 3-6 months?
  1. What leads you to want to take action NOW about the issues that are of concern or interest you (as opposed to 4 months ago?)
  1. What are the qualities, strengths, and values that you have which you think will be more helpful towards achieving the outcomes you have set out in 1 above?
  1. List below a small number of actions that you can take now to begin to move towards achieving the outcomes you want to accomplish?
  1. What can you do or say to yourself if you lapse or are tempted to lapse to help you stay on track or get back on the path to change?

How my personal story has taught me to be patient and resilient during these hard times.

I live every day with the goal to make it the best day.  Every morning I reset myself to open my heart to all the possibilities of the day.  I envision happiness, content, laughter, and a flow of positive energy. Every night I go to bed reliving the day, grabbing the best moment and feeling thankful for each of them, from the ordinary to the extraordinary moments.  This I do every day, why? Because life can throw anything at you, without warning, and without any consideration, I have learned this the hard way… Now that we are housebound and we are staying at home alone, or with family, or with friends, there are moments that we want to break free of the constraint and we “need to do something that requires the outside”, we are all feeling the same. This feeling of wanting to break down our limitations and have our freedom to come and go is equal to all of us.

I am about to turn 40 in a few months, the big 40, and when I look back, Life (or destiny) has given me hard lessons, not all at once, but every few years… yes, a part of me has learned to “expect” the storm which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you see it.

So how do I cope with difficult times? We all have different ways of coping, for me, there is one action that has allowed me to move forward, time and time again, which is being compassionate with myself. I allow myself to feel all in, and then I try to see the positive way out, owning my feelings, being kind about my feelings, not judging me but looking for ways to move forward. 

I would like to talk about one of the “storms” of my life, not the most destructive or painful, but the one that I keep thinking and going back to now that we are “bound” in our homes.

When I was 17 years old, just a few days away from turning 18, I had a car accident.  I was driving and had friends in the car, and because of one or too many reasons, I lost control and we went down a ditch, a really big ditch.  I don’t remember much right after the accident, I know we got out of the car, that one of my friends was bleeding, and that we climbed the ditch back up, that a car was passing by and gave us a lift to the hospital.  I remember my parents being worried about my friends, who were our guests, and trying to get them back to the city in an ambulance. A good friend of mine saw me sitting by myself, being completely out of it, so he sat next to me, he realized I was in shock, so he asked me to lay down and put my head on his legs, and then… and then I could not move.  People rushed at me and X-rays were taken revealing that I had fractured my neck (C5) and 4 other vertebras in my back (L5 – L2), with a couple of broken ribs that no one mentioned again. All of a sudden all the attention was on me, getting me to the city was the priority, getting me in an ambulance, in the hospital, immobilizing me.  

The next few days were painful both physically and mentally, but we got through, I had a great doctor that had experience on my particular situation and quickly moved forward with the Halo (picture below)

I spent the next three weeks adjusting to the Halo, but happy I was able to move, it was going to be a process, but that the outcome seemed very good. I had a cast for my lower back which did not bother me as much since the Halo was painful. I asked the doctor for how long I will stay with the Halo? He said 3 to 4 months, I thought I could do that, one day at a time, and focus on the outcome, on the moment in which all will be ok again.

Four weeks into the treatment, one of Halo’s nails in the back of my head, sprung back, I had a reaction against it, and by the time I got back to the hospital, the doctor had to remove the whole thing,  Got me a new neck brace, called Minerva, and told me to stay in bed, looking at the roof, with no movement, until I was able to try again the Halo. I spent three weeks in bed not moving at all, with sores in my back and tears in my eyes.  

After three weeks, the doctor said, my skin had healed and the Halo was back. This time it was decided I will shave my head to make sure we can see if my skin was reacting again, and a dermatologist was brought in as part of the team of doctors.  Unfortunately, the time to recover was reset, meaning my last two months were not valid, and the 3 to 4-month countdown started again. But I was able to walk, and that was enough. I was put on a simple diet that will allow me to stay healthy due to the fact I was with limited movement, and my stomach was able to handle since I was taking a lot of strong medicines.

I spent my days playing scrabble (alone), watching cable TV, and being entertained by whoever came to visit.  I made myself a pretty good schedule that I will make sure I will follow every day. Within the confines of my house with an outing every few days (not easy to walk around with the Halo as people just stare at you especially with a bold head).   But the time passed, one day at a time, morning, noon, and then it was night time, and another day was crossed off in the calendar.

My “new” 3 to 4 month became 8, which was very painful (pain wise) with the pressure of the halo having to be adjusted every week, bringing tears to my eyes, as soon as I would walk in the doctor’s office.  But the day came and 10 months after my car accident, the Halo was removed. I was bold, and still had to wear a neck brace, but I was happy. So very happy. I went to dinner with my parents, a nice place, and we toasted, just the three of us.  

It’s been four weeks of being homebound, but for me, but when I think of being homebound I cannot help but feel that it is ok, because it has been worse.  This time around I don’t have a Halo, I can move freely in my house without feeling pain, I can play scrabble with my family or online with other people, I can cook different meals and not have a stomach ache.  

I think about those that are sick, those that are bound to a bed, that cannot move, the people that are hurting and in pain and under extreme uncertainty about their medical status, my heart goes to them.  

In summary below are tips and lessons that I have learned during my car accidents that I apply today to the social distancing and been homebound:

  1. Create a routine (shower, work, reading, coffee time, solo game of scrabble or puzzles, tv time, cooking, etc), create a routine that allows you to see the time passing in a productive way.
  2. Reset your mind every morning, opening the possibilities to productivity, love, community effort, friendship, education, among other positive actions the day can bring to you.
  3. Be grateful every night, alone or with your family.  Allow your kids to express gratitude also.
  4. Be kind and compassionate with your feelings and yourself.  It is ok to feel down, aggravated, mad, sad, frustrated, exhausted, etc, all of these are valid feelings, give yourself permission to feel them and then refocus on the positive, in your routine, in a hobby, or physical activity.

6 prompts to help us reflect during hardships

I believe in the power of gratitude, to look into our lives with kindness, compassion, and love. To believe that we all have a life purpose and that the pursuit of happiness is imprinted when we are born.

I believe that we are all the same, humans, that my pain is not more hurtful than your pain, that my happiness is not more deserving than yours.   We are all searching for different things but that leads to the same goal: to live our lives, to live it the best we can.

I am providing you with some questions that you can use during this coming week, questions which while we honestly answer them we can calm our minds, ease our anxiety, take a hold of our fears, and smile with hope and faith.

I hope these questions provide you time with your thoughts and feelings. That beyond the anguish, uncertainty, and fear that surrounds us you can find the moment to be present with yourself.  To talk with your mind with kindness and understanding. We, grown-ups, do have our own set of worries, our parents, our sons and daughters, our jobs, our life that we have been building day by day, it all seems to be on the verge of crumbling and it is scary.  But do believe that we are resilient, we are stronger than what we believe, that we are empowered by our history and comforted by our vision of the future. We should not lose track of that, especially of our vision of the future. It is about doing all we can today so that our future can unfold itself.

Do I owe someone forgiveness?  Do I need to ask for forgiveness?

Am I open to feel small moments of happiness around me?

To whom or what can I give my wholehearted attention today?

How I am consolidating the feelings of what I want to do and I need to do?

What motivates me today to make the decisions I am making today?

As our minds start to spiral out of control, we need to take a moment to reflect on our feelings, the validate them, understand them, and when the necessary act above them.  The human race for, once again, is having its strength tested, however, this is 2020 and we can expect that our technological advances can match our personal and emotional ones.  We, united, can overcome this pandemic. United is the key.