Everyone of us has a reason that we do or do not go see a show or concert or recital.
That’s fair. Time is precious. Why waste it with something that you have no interest in seeing?
Is it possible, though, that we miss rare opportunities to better ourselves or to learn something that will make us better people by removing a prejudice and seeing something that we thought might not interest us?
I think the answer is yes.
Covid has left us battlescarred all around. Not only were we taught how to stay indoors and veg in front of the TV, but we learned to judge and hate and condemn those who don’t agree with us. We saw cities destroyed. We saw people lash out with hate towards any political figure that they didn’t agree with. We saw condemnation and judgement. Did we see love for our fellow man?
So now that we are out and about more…what is your criteria going to be?
Recently, Jeremiah Dew told one story that really stuck out to me during his question and answer time after his show at Overshadowed.
He told of a young boy who was taken into captivity as a slave. He was taken from an area of Africa that had never seen water. He spoke a different language than the other captives and had never seen a white man. He couldn’t communicate and actually thought that these white figures must have been demons. He saw many African people who escaped and jumped overboard in fear of what was happening to them. Imagine what they must have felt when they reached the shores of America to be treated as animals in many cases.
I tell that story not to cause you all to think–“that’s not my problem“…”stop the political message.” I tell the story because I think we need to learn that we each come from a different perspective. We need to stop and think about which perspective might be different from our own and how God wants us to react to others around us because of it.
For more of my thoughts please watch the video below:
I’ll never forget the first speech tournament I competed in. I was a Jr. and scared out of my mind. I wasn’t exactly a novice when it came to competing because our school required all speech majors to be involved in the commencement contest each year. I don’t remember ever putting my whole heart into it. I was never really recognized in the speech department as being much of a talent, so couple my insecurity with that and I felt the full weight of imposter syndrome.
Looking back, I just don’t think I worked hard enough. I certainly didn’t walk up with confidence and I’m sure my insecurities hurt me when I competed.
After graduation, I taught Jr High and then High School Speech. Our school began to enter the Fine Arts Competitions and I began to encourage my students to enter and compete.
I don’t think I really understood the art of competing though until I worked under Randy Thaxton (who was in charge of the Bible Quiz team). I also began to learn from what Donna Reed (English and Speech Teacher) did to train each of her competitors. If I didn’t hold those secrets so close to my heart I could write a book! They taught me through their thoroughness, preparedness and spirit of excellence.
I used to tell my speech students that they had no idea how lucky they were to come from a school that had three speech teachers and people that wanted to invest in them. I’m so glad my own children had the chance to learn from both of them.
As I began to realize how important my role was in preparing the students to compete, I learned that my job was more important than just preparing them “to win”. It was a ministry and I LOVED working with each student. I have such great memories from humorous speech and reader’s theater performances and my favorite, duet acting.
Not every person that enters a competition can win. There is always a loser.
Are you a failure if you lose?
Babe Ruth once said, “Never let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game.”
I have learned so many life lessons from being involved with competitions. I really miss the times I watched my own children compete and I loved watching them win. The losing wasn’t as fun, but the determination that came after that was inspiring.
Ah! “The Thrill of Victory the agony of defeat.” There is nothing like it.
I hope you’ll watch the video below for the five benefits of competing! And then? Go find something to compete in!
How did it get to be March…well, not just March but the end of March?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m LOVING the warmer weather and the sounds of birds and the anticipation of a fantastic summer, but TIME IS FLYING! I need a few more hours in every day and just cannot seem to catch up. I’m not sure if things are just crazy busy because the world has come out of hibernation or if I got used to a slower pace for the two years I had nothing to do….maybe it is a combination of both. Whatever the reason, I am once again behind on my reading goal.
In the month of February I read three books. Here are my thoughts.
Book #1 All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle
From the Cover:
In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment.
But Hubert Bird is lying.
The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul.
Until, that is, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on.
Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out. Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . .
Life is certainly beginning to happen to Hubert Bird. But with the origin of his earlier isolation always lurking in the shadows will he ever get to live the life he’s pretended to have for so long?
What I liked about this book:
In truth, it took me a little bit of time to “get into” this book. The dialect and way that Hubert kept referring to himself as, “Me just couldn’t do it today.” The constant “me” was distracting. But then, I fell in love with the heart of Hubert. I saw that his life had not been easy. He had loved and lost and still managed to turn the other cheek and show kindess and forgiveness to those who caused him great pain. As Hubert begins to escape his lonliness, I couldn’t help but think of my mom and how many years of loneliness she felt living without my dad. I began to relate to Hubert and cheer for him from the sidelines. I’m not sure how a book can be heart-breaking and uplifting all at the same time, but this one is. Mike Gayle has written a touching, beautiful book and I can’t wait to read another of his books.
Gayle crafted such believable characters. He formed them so that you could picture them and almost hear them speak, thus thrusting the reader into the heart of the story. You can’t help but love Hubert. He is a true gentleman, but not without flaws. You recognize him and cry out for the injustices that befall him, and cheer for his victories. I seriously miss that the story is over. I miss him.
I also love that the story–even though it isn’t recent–made me think of the plight of so many others that are treated badly because their skin is a different color.
I also loved the sense of community that Hubert was able to establish. It was inspiring to watch a community of people who needed someone come together and create friendships and family and were no longer alone. I wish we would all be more aware of those around us that might need someone. Pardon me while I go cry some more.
Who should read this book? Fans of family stories. If you are interested in multicultural or diverse characters. Read if you like thoughtful books with a touch of humor.
“After all, it was always easier to meet new people if there were two of you. It gave you confidence and made you feel at ease.”
“And that’s the funny thing about life. Extraordinary things can happen to ordinary people like you and me, but only if we open ourselves up enough to let them.”
Book #2 In The President’s Secret Service by Ronald Kessler
From the Cover:Never before has a journalist penetrated the wall of secrecy that surrounds the U.S. Secret Service, that elite corps of agents who pledge to take a bullet to protect the president and his family. After conducting exclusive interviews with more than one hundred current and former Secret Service agents, bestselling author and award-winning reporter Ronald Kessler reveals their secrets for the first time.
What I liked about this book:
Hmmm. Difficult question. I did find some of the stories quite interesting. I found that I would find one chapter interesting and then the next would be technical and super boring to me. Unfortunately, towards the end I didn’t even enjoy the personal stories. I found myself wondering how much of the story was true and if some of these tales just came from people who didn’t like the Presidents they were called to serve. On the other hand, I started to wonder if there is anything good about any of the familes we have put into the White House. It was interesting to think about what each agent has to go through and how much we take them for granted. For me though, the book doesn’t put them in a good light. Instead, it makes me think less of them for the sour attitudes they seem to have developed.
Who should read this book? Lovers of history. Read this book if you are interested in government and politics and learning more about the people who have served our country.
“Boys will be boys,” he said. When the door of the elevator shut, Reagan said to Hresko, “But boys will not be president.“
Book #3 The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
From the Cover:
An unforgettable and heartwarming debut about how a chance encounter with a list of library books helps forge an unlikely friendship between two very different people in a London suburb.
Widower Mukesh lives a quiet life in Wembley, in West London after losing his beloved wife. He shops every Wednesday, goes to Temple, and worries about his granddaughter, Priya, who hides in her room reading while he spends his evenings watching nature documentaries.
Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager working at the local library for the summer when she discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a list of novels that she’s never heard of before. Intrigued, and a little bored with her slow job at the checkout desk, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list, one after the other. As each story gives up its magic, the books transport Aleisha from the painful realities she’s facing at home.
When Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to forge a connection with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha passes along the reading list…hoping that it will be a lifeline for him too. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between two lonely souls, as fiction helps them escape their grief and everyday troubles and find joy again.
What I loved about this book:
Everything? Sigh. How could a book lover not love a book that is about reading books? This book centered around a library and a list of books that everyone that finds the list begins to read. This list seems to be magical as each person reads the book at exactly the right time in their life to teach them or help them through life’s newest journey.
This book reminded me of so many wonderful hours I spent in the library with my mom. It made me wish that I had spent more time there with my own children. I loved the way Adams brilliantly connected the characters and stories. Seriously, how does someone plan and craft such heart-felt, real, flawed, needy, loving characters? I love that the book also pulled me in so deep that when tragedy unexpectedly happens it broke me.
I can’t say enough about this book. If you love reading and you haven’t read this book yet, you simply must find it and put it on your TBR list.
Pardon me while I go spend time in my library–please, God, don’t ever let the world close them down.
Who should read this book? Lovers of reading. Everyone.
Anxiety, Cancer, Death, Depression Grief, Suicide
“Please try to remember that books aren’t always an escape; sometimes books teach us things. They show us the world; they don’t hide it.”
“…sometimes when you really like a book, you need to read it again! To relive what you loved and find out what you missed before. Books always change as the person who reads them changes too.“
“…books, they had the power to heal.”
“There was something magical in that—in sharing a world you have loved; allowing someone to see it through the same pair of spectacles you saw it through yourself.“
That is all for this time! Have you read any of these? I would love to know what you thought! Also, If you choose to read one of these because you read my review, please let me know! That brings me a great amount of joy!
Until next time-this is just me-talking to you-from the wings!
This past week I had the wonderful experience of spending five days in Southern California for a planner convention.
No, I didn’t say planter. No, it isn’t for event planners.
It was simply for this wonderful society of people who love planners,stickers,markers and….well, PLANNING.
My journey/love for all things planners started about five years ago. Things were growing at Overshadowed and I knew I needed to be better organized and needed to plan further ahead. I made a trip to my local Michael’s and picked up a Happy Planner and promptly fell in love. Since that time, I now have two planners and have been to two “Go Wild” for planners conventions.
You might be thinking I have lost my mind, but let me just give you a sample of what inspired me this time.
Our first speaker was Stephanie Fleming. Have you heard of her? She and her mother started a sticker company called, “Me and My Big Ideas”. They then went on to create Mambi which created,The Happy Planner, in a tiny garage-based business. The products are supposed to inspire customers to live creatively and to plan a happy life. She has written a book, started a podcast, retired, and now has gone back to school.
Yep. You read that correctly. She RETIRED and then went back to school.
She titled her workshop, “Change of Plans“.
Here is how she began:
“You are not powerless. Change is inevitable–and it’s important to create a life and an environment that allows us to deal with this change!”
It is a message I really needed to hear. You all know that my past year has been full of change. Change isn’t what caused the pain, but it still has been difficult to get over the change.
When it comes down to it we will always have some sort of change in our lives. Friends move. Jobs end. Parents die. And sometimes the world stops with a pandemic or war.
Change is inevitable. The question is-how do we respond to it?
Stephanie went on to give several points.
Be flexible and resilient. Understand that you are a work in progress. Embrace that fact instead of embracing the art of staying the same.
Expect the unexpected. If we aticipate the curve we will have a plan that will help us face it.
Have a growth mindset. George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
In other words, by preparing (planning) what you will do when change comes, you will handle it better. You will be better equipped to adjust.
What makes us equipped?
Control the controllable and adapt to what you cannot control. Don’t waste your time on trying to change something that you cannot change!
So what happens when there are changes that hurt you to the core?
Reflect on that change with purpose. Write your thoughts out. Journal. Pray. Seek counsel. Reframe the change so that you can find something to show gratitude for. Things that are negative might still be bad and hurtful, but we can REFRAME it in our minds so that we can grow from it instead of hiding in our rooms hoping it will go away.
In closing, she gave a quote by John Maxwell:
“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
So the question is….How will you respond to CHANGE in your life?
As I reflect on all the speakers I heard last week, I am filled with motivation, determination and strength….all things I needed to refuel with after last year.
Pardon me while I take out my planner and give gratitude for planners and what they continue to teach me.
How do you adapt to change? I’d love to hear about it! Hey, I’d love it if you would sign up to follow this blog!
Until next time-this is just me talking to you from the wings!
This week’s blog is by Kelly Zea. Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your love of theater and God with
us both now and on stage!
One of my earliest memories was at the church my grandfather preached, watching the kids rehearse for their Christmas program. I remember adult’s encouragement to participate, but I shied away and just watched them sing, quietly and inevitably learning the lyrics. I remember the fear mixed with excitement as the window of opportunity neared its final moments to perform alongside the other kids. I remember my shy, single-digit aged, watch-from-the-sideline self was the bravest it had been as I took the chance and joined the chorus of cardboard costumed Christmas presents on stage. That small act of being present gifted me the value of being brave – both on stage and off.
Fast forward to my formative teenage years when our Pantherettes Poms team was cut from the school budget and eliminated, freeing up time to audition for my first high school play, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Disappointment of dancing off one stage turned into walking onto another, a blessing in disguise which would become the most memorable part of high school and lead to where I felt I truly belonged: the theater.
That first show quickly revealed an irrational insecurity when its only song required us to sing. The director accommodated my fear of singing by gifting me the shortest solo and single word, “Flush,” and also a nickname I’d bear the rest of my high school theater days. I later even purposely tried to get the role of the Wicked Witch to spare myself from having to sing. It was the summer going into my senior year when I decided to face my fears so that I could attempt to obtain the lead role in what would be my last high school show. I bought the cd to memorize the songs, took a choir class and extra lessons from my generous music teacher, and was more determined than ever. Earning the role of Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun” meant everything to me and required a growth spurt like none before to rise to the challenge. Thanks to my directors who believed in me and took the risk casting me and coached me throughout, I gained confidence and it reinforced the decision to continue to pursue acting by becoming a theater major in college.
While my time at Columbia College Chicago was a different story, my story with the stage thankfully did not end there and as I faced more fears. My bravery was a building block to more blessings of opportunities such as: Second City’s Music Improv program, working as an extra in Chicago’s film and tv industry, and the sweet suburban community theater the scene which ended up changing my life the most). Community theater became the space to stand up for faith and ultimately grow in faith.
I once again fought through fears in front of everyone auditioning for Overshadowed’s “It’s a WonderfulLife” in 2013 and resisted the growing urge to leave before it was my turn. It didn’t take long to realize that God kept me there for a reason. Overshadowed would soon become one of the most crucial places of my faith journey. It was a ministry, unlike any theater experience I’d had, and became a place filled with prayer and desires to glorify Him. Not without growing pains, of course, but thankfully alongside grace-filled believers valuing the power of prayer and God’s Word, I continue to experience healing and sanctification.
I’ve been blessed that theater has been a constant in my life and a home away from home. Theater has encouraged growth through habitual risk taking, generated creativity and more joy than I could have ever dreamt, and, most importantly, fostered community and brought me closer to God in so many ways. Although my trajectory went in a different direction than I dreamt as a little girl, I am so grateful that God was with me each step and led me to the places I’ve been. I’m grateful to the building blocks of bravery which led to so many amazing opportunities and memories that continue to form to this day.
Just as children learn to stack blocks when they are children, building blocks can be used in many areas of our lives. You can’t run before you learn to walk. You learn the alphabet before you learn to read. Is there something in your life you need to pursue step-by-step?
I encourage you to see that our biggest blessings are just beyond our fears. Is there a fear that’s been stealing your joy? Are excuses keeping you from trying something you’ve always wanted to? I pray you experience God’s peace and bravely follow His lead into adventures you couldn’t imagine, touch lives you don’t yet know, and become more like Him through all of it.
Isn’t it sweet of the Creator of the Universe to bless us with creativity and ways to glorify Him through the arts? Be brave and blessed, dear friend.
Kelly Zea is a Christ-following, theater-loving northwest suburbanite who works as an Instructional Assistant in a high school. When not professionally bantering with teenagers, she can be found pet sitting, capturing moments, indulging in theological discussions, dreaming of and missing Africa or running, punning and dancing through life, Zeabunking the lies of the world one reminder of God’s truth at a time. You can follow Kelly at@Kelifornialove28
We’d love to know how God is using theater in your life? Or what building blocks are helping you grow?
I’m basically a very happy person. I’ll admit though–the last couple of years have been rougher than normal. I used the COVID shut down to sharpen some of my skills and pursue avenues that I normally don’t have time for. In some ways it didn’t work out for me.
In trying to have a voice and encouraging others to “think for themselves”- I was attacked verbally for being in a “conservative bubble.” The person accused me of posting things that “weren’t true for the purpose of inflaming the population”. In the end, she unfriended me. I also had family issues that have not gone away. Why do I say all of that? Because in the midst of struggles you wonder what it is you are supposed to be doing in this world.
I am a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, child of God, teacher, director, actor, author, planner, encourager, motivator, speaker, founder of a non-profit, proud American…. is there more? Maybe. I have always had big dreams.
Do I want more? That is such a difficult question. I am content.
I’ve been able to work in a non-paying job for years and not resent it because I felt so strongly about my purpose and I guess my “why.” (Although I’ve never put it into those words before.)
Why do I exist? Why has God allowed my to have another day on this earth? Am I doing all that He wants me to?
There are times that I feel that I can never be enough. I am swiftly reminded that God doesn’t NEED me, but that if I am willing He can and will USE me.
So, do I want more? YES! Because somehow there is a need in me to KNOW that I am making a difference.
Is that what humanity is all about? Even though we don’t want to be proud or want attention, we still have something inside us that needs to have a little attention. It is an endless cycle.
At times I feel like I came to the party too late. Sometimes I feel that the people that can influence others need to be younger and beautiful. Yet, there is a wisdom that comes from experience and as I live more of life I know that my speech becomes more bold and more confident.
My message? It’s not too late.
I think I always knew what my purpose was. I think I just wasn’t confident to own it.
In this upside down mess of a world we are living in can you say what your purpose is? What keeps you going? Who do you have influence over? Did the last few years make you forget? Make you afraid?
It’s not too late.
My parents used to tell me that for each and every experience I had in life there was someone that could learn from me and my journey. Amazingly enough, the tough experiences have been shared time after time. I can hear the voices of wisdom in my head as I share. The same will be for you. Turn your worse fears, hurts, disappointments and failures into life lessons for all of us. For every fear you face there are 100 of us who can learn from you.
Could that be WHY you faced the things you did? Because one of us might NEED you?
That’s why I write. That’s why I have theater camps. That’s why I started Overshadowed.
I’m sure there is a girl or boy out there that needs to know their voice matters.
All you have to do is open your mouth and be willing to speak.
What is your why?
I believe in you!
I would love to hear your whys! Please take a moment to like, share and follow!
Until next time, this is just me, talking to you, from the wings!
“Wrong? What do you mean wrong? ” You might be asking.
I’d like to ask if you think she actually sinned by making the movie….but I don’t want to be side tracked by conversations about other people making their own choices.
The main point is this….even if you liked the movie, even if you could see that the movie is drawing people to God….is it RIGHT for a director to ask people to strip almost naked and act out sexual scenes for others to watch?
Yes, you are responsible for the choices you make. You alone have to decide where the line is. I remember being told as a teenager that I needed to decide what my dating standards were before I went on a date because in a car was not the time to decide if I would or would not…..kiss, make-out, have sex.
The same goes for actors. I actually asked a potential Christian intern last year what their” line was.” They looked at me in complete bewilderment so I continued. “For example, what do you believe is wrong for you to do on stage…like would it be okay to be naked?” Their response? “I guess I’d do that. Depending on the context and purpose.”
Maybe that is the root of the problem. What happened to us as Christians that some of us think it is not only okay to watch just about anything, but equally okay to actually be the one naked and “having sex.” ?
Is any of it sin?
I keep thinking of “Be careful little eyes what you see, for the Father up above is looking down in love.” and “never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” or in Mark 9:42, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”
So, was it wrong for Francine Rivers to allow others to be so naked (granted, she might have had a bandaid on) that to the world she APPEARS naked? In fact, she wanted us all to believe she is naked. Further more, was it wrong for the two characters to imitate having sex, complete with movements and well, more….?
Just in case you think that Francine Rivers didn’t have a say once she sold her script, this is from a recent announcement with Penguin Random House:
“Over the years with other options, the character of Michael didn’t come across the way it must. When Cindy Bond of Mission Pictures approached us, I decided to write a sample script of what I felt needed to be seen. I read a few books on how to write a script, loaded final draft onto my computer, and took a whack at it, never expecting they would use it. They bought it! When D.J. Caruso pursued the job of directing the movie, we worked together on the script. He restructured it and we strengthened scenes. It was a collaborative effort to bring a powerful redemptive story to the screen. I was also involved in the auditions and selection of the actors – especially Abigail Cowen and Tom Lewis, who played the leading roles. They are wonderful!”
In every other interview I’ve seen Rivers seems to be thrilled with the movie.
In 1991, Francine Rivers published a book called Redeeming Love. Since then it has sold over three million copies. That’s amazing for a Christian author....maybe any author.
It had mixed results as a novel, Rivers has a way of writing than can be a little steamy to an innocent mind. The controversy even then was that the book was a “gateway to soft porn.”
For me, my daughter and many of my friends, Redeeming Love was a powerful book. For many of us, the thought that our Lord pursues us the way that Michael Hosea pursued Angel or the picture of Isreal in Hosea was so moving that it brought us to tears. I understand why Rivers is so protective of it. It is a masterpiece.
The popularity of the book made many of us desire a film and Rivers herself longed for a contract. The film was many years on the drafting block for various reasons. When Rivers began tweeting about the film the Christian community went crazy.
And then the film was released.
I heard many people talk about the nudity and (excuse the next graphic language) the sexual movements of couples, considering if those elements had a place in a “Christian film.” I began to wonder if it was “right” for me to watch it.
I decided (giving warning to my friends) that we should see it and then give our thoughts. We didn’t talk about it before we filmed-we wanted the conversation to be raw and real. After watching the video below, I must admit, I wish I had waited a few days. I think the peace maker in me wanted to be pleasant and entertaining, but as I ponder the film I think I would have changed my rating. I give it a thumbs up at the end, but that was too generous. This film needs to come with more warnings than it does. Yes, the subject matter is difficult. Yes, I think Christians should show a realistic picture that sin is ugly and life is not always handed to a Christian all wrapped up in a bow that gives us a happily ever after. Yet…as a director and a Christian, I think some of the elements in this film could have given us that realistic picture without “crossing the line.”
Is it possible that people will know about God’s love from this movie?
God doesn’t need any of this to call people to him.
Is it possible this movie could cause people to sin by watching it?
I believe the answer to that is also yes. Doesn’t the Bible warn us to not be a stumbling block to others?
What is considered “nudity”? (The aurgument is that at one point Michael’s hand covers her beast so that you cannot see…well, you know.) So that makes it not nudity? I disagree. You see too much. It is nudity to me. In fact, I think one of the problems with the movie is that it tries to have a little steaminess with the sex scenes.
I wonder if we have become desensitized to “things of the world?” Arguing that “you don’t really see anything”, or that the people that are acting out the sexual scenes are portraying married couples doesn’t sit well for me. I think we should require more from a film that labels itself “Christian” or one that is supposed to show us God’s holy, pure, and unconditional love.
Before you use this argument on me….I KNOW the BIble is filled with stories of sex, sin and murder, but it isn’t written in graphic detail. Song of Solomon is the exception, but it isn’t written to be steamy and doesn’t include full color video.
Please watch the video below and let us know if you’ve seen the movie or if perhaps the video will help you make a decision. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Join us next week as our discussion goes a different direction. I seriously cannot wait for you to see part two!
Rebecca Leland, Naomi Rogers, thank you for your frank discussion. Thank you Rebecca for filming and your efforts in editing this mammoth job!
I would love it if you would like, share and follow!
Until next time this is just me talking to you from the wings-
My reading goal is 52 books again this year. I’m off to a good start and I’m hoping the changes I’ve made in planning and organizing will help me keep on track because I really really do love reading.
Most of you know that my mom passed away last year. She is going to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery where my dad is. After COVID, things backed up there so the funeral is going to be Monday. That being said, I’ve been doing so much thinking about my mom and what we had in common. At the top of the list is that she loved to read and instilled in me a love of reading as well. Recently, I was looking at her facebook wall where a former student said, “I sure would love to hear her read Charlotte’s Web aloud just one more time.” Me too. Me too.
In that spirit, I would love to tell you about the books I read this month.
Book # 1 One Day in December by Josie Silver
From the Cover:
Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.
What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
On a purely surface level, this book was enjoyable. It was a light read full of romance and stars-in-your-eyes love. It was a book you could curl up and escape with. So, that sounds like I liked it, right? Hmmmm. Keep reading.
What I liked about this book: The premise. I am a romantic. I love the idea of love at first sight. I love-love. I love the humor and the realism that sometimes we make decisions based on our friends rather than on what our own heart is saying. The characters were believable and even though there are criticisms I have of those–I still found that they were crafted well. However, I didn’t like the way Laurie’s “best friend” reacted when confronted with the truth. Is it true that women really treat each other like that? (Sorry, I’m being so cryptic; I don’t want to spoil anything.) Also, I got really tired of Laurie always accepting second best and settling. I don’t like the fact that I’m not sure she ever realized that that she was doing that either which seems implausible to me. Someone who had looked day and night for the boy who made her heart beat faster just by looking at her would recognize that something was missing. Once we get to know Jack I didn’t like him anymore. Laurie can do better.
It would make a great Hallmark movie. Some of us will think that means it is a winner of a book. Some of us will think that means it has huge red flags.
Who should read this book? Fans of romance. Read this book is you are looking for a quick, warm story.
“You tread lightly through life, but you leave deep footprints that are hard for other people to fill.”
“There comes a point where you have to make the choice to be happy, because being sad for too long is exhausting.”
“New Year in particular is so full of portent and promise, weighted with expectation and hopes and idealism, but then on the flip side it can also be the time when people look for change, or say enough is enough and call time on a relationship that’s run its course.”
Warnings: There is a fair amount of sexual content and descriptive words.
Book #2 The Wedding RInger by Kerry Rea
From the Cover:
A woman who wants nothing to do with love or friendship finds both in the unlikeliest ways in this hilarious and heartwarming debut by Kerry Rea.
Once upon a time, Willa Callister was a successful blogger with a good credit score, actual hobbies, and legs that she shaved more than once a month. But after finding her fiancé in bed with her best friend, she now spends her days performing at children’s birthday parties in a ball gown that makes her look like a walking bottle of Pepto Bismol. Willa dreams of starting fresh, where no one knows who she used to be, but first she needs to save up enough money to make it happen.
Maisie Mitchell needs something too: another bridesmaid for her wedding. After a chance encounter at a coffee shop, Maisie offers to pay Willa to be in her bridal party. Willa wants nothing to do with weddings—or Maisie—but the money will give her the freedom to start the new life she so badly desires.
Willa’s bridesmaid duties thrust her into Maisie’s high-energy world and into the path of hotshot doctor Liam Rafferty. But as Willa and Maisie form a real friendship, and Liam’s annoyingly irresistible smile makes her reconsider her mantra that all men are trash, Willa’s exit strategy becomes way more complicated. And when a secret from Maisie’s past threatens to derail the wedding, Willa must consider whether friendship—and romance—are worth sticking around for.
What I loved about this book:
The main character! Willa is adorable. I am a sucker for an underdog story and that is Willa from top to bottom. She is unlucky in love, a now disaster in business. she has nothing except her family. Rea captures you right away by her descriptive writing style. I truly felt like I was at the birthday party and witnessing every detail of that disastrous event. From the moment I picked up the book I couldn’t wait to see Willa restored! Rea also did a wonderful job of creating the characters around Willa–you see the ones that love her and you want Willa to be able to step out of her own hurt and learn to really see the ones who are with her now.
I also love Rea’s dialogue–she writes so that you can “hear” what the characters are thinking and it is so enjoyable!
Friendship doesn’t always come the way we predict it, but the new friends Rea gives Willa are delightful. I’m hard pressed to tell you if I like Willa or Maisie better. I just wish Rea would write a “what happens next” next story about these two.
Who should read this book? Fans of love stories. Read this if you like books about friends! If you like characters that aren’t quite put together-this may be the book for you!
Warnings: Language. Slight sexual conversations and words.
Book #3 Float Plan by Trish Doller
From the Cover:
* A MUST-READ FOR GOOD MORNING AMERICA, OPRAHMAG.COM, BUZZFEED, POP SUGAR, AND MORE! *
Heartbroken by the loss of her fiancé, adventurous Anna finds a second chance at love with an Irish sailor in this riveting, emotional romance.
After a reminder goes off for the Caribbean sailing trip Anna was supposed to take with her fiancé, she impulsively goes to sea in the sailboat he left her, intending to complete the voyage alone.
But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.
What I liked about this book:
I looked for books in January that were books about December or holidays or escaping. It is pretty cold in Illinois during this time and since books let you escape, I figured why not pick a warm place? I was intrigued about a book who would have such a strong female character who would be brave enough to set sail entirely by herself. I LOVED that she couldn’t. I love that she realistically wasn’t ready to sail alone and yet emotionally wasn’t ready to sail with someone else either. I love the journey physically and emotionally that Anna went on. She became stronger as a sailor, a woman, and a person. I loved that this book had love in it, but that isn’t at all what the book is about. Recognizing that is key. Honestly, even though I was looking for a light-hearted read–I’m so glad this one wasn’t. It was serious when it needed to be and sensitive when it needed to be.
Who should read this book?
Fans of love stories that take a little longer to develop. Read if you are a lover of finding love again stories. If you are looking for a women’s story about grief and survival this one is for you.
“The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears, or the sea. —ISAK DINESEN”
“But I’m starting to understand how sadness and happiness can live side by side within a heart. And how that heart can keep on beating.”
“Why did you go somewhere I can’t follow?”
“The stages of grief are not linear. They are random and unpredictable, folding back on themselves until you begin mourning all over again.“
Warnings: suicide, self-harm, depression, grief, language, some sexual content
What are you reading lately? I’d really love to connect with you! Please leave a comment, share or follow me!
Until next time-this is just me talking to you from the wings–
During Covid Overshadowed started an Instagram live. Rebecca Leland was our hostess and each week she would invite special guests on her show to talk about something behind the scenes at Overshadowed. We called it, “Spill the Tea.” She would add to the fun by sharing a tea or coffee recipe and other coffee trivia. It was a wonderful way to keep us connected at a time we couldn’t pursue live theater. Bonus: Rebecca Leland is a natural and such a joy to be around.
Recently, she had the chance to be part of the directing team at a local theater. I was curious to see if she learned anything as an actress from that experience–as my mom always taught me, “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you judge them.” Wouldn’t the world be different if we all stuck to that motto?
As we got together for the latest episode of From the Wings, I was fascinated to see what she learned and see if she could make me a better director from her experiences.
I think we both agreed that an actor walks into the audition process completely unaware of what is going on in a director’s head and heart. I wish there was a way to help make the process seem less personal to the potential cast member. For me, it isn’t personal–I am simply trying to put together the best cast for my vision. You may be the best singer, but if you are 20 years younger than the best option for the guy you might have to play opposite of–then the pairing simply may not work. It isn’t personal against you–it is just a fact that the age difference might make it uncomfortable for the audience to watch. It is difficult for a director to paint their vision for everyone, but trust me when we say, we really don’t want to hurt anyone and we want you to come back and audition again. I find it very sad when I don’t cast someone in the lead part they wanted for a particular musical and then they never audition for us again. They might be exactly right for the lead in the next show, but we will never know because they didn’t come back because they took it personally.
It is easy to “THINK” you know what is in the mind of the director, but unless you ask, you cannot.
Bad mouthing the decisions a director makes shows that you think you know better. Perhaps you do, but your vision is not the director’s vision and by tearing down the choices that a director makes only shows that you do not trust them and it tears down the whole experience for the rest of the cast as well.
The best productions are ones that the cast is unified towards making the production a once in a lifetime experience.
This episode allows you to see just a little of what a directing team might be thinking. Perhaps if we could, “walk a mile in each other’s shoes.” we might come together to make some pretty amazing theatrical experiences!
I hope you enjoy it!
I would really love it if you subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Rebecca Leland, thank you for joining me on the show and thank you for all of your work filming and editing it!
Please feel free to post and share and I’d love to hear what you think about our thoughts!