Mapping My Future with “My Life Map” #BHBC #spon

If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was 5, I would have said a veterinarian. When I was 18, that changed to a teacher. Now at 29, I am happy in a job measuring technology issues. Just last night, however, I told Greg, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”. Throughout life, I’ve had a number of jobs, dreams, and life situations that got me to where I am today. Each experience led up to the present and the present will lead to the future. Kate and David Marshall have the perfect book for me (and others) trying to figure out the “what’s next” question in  My Life Map: A Journal to Help Shape Your Future.


Photo Courtesy of Penguin Books

This journal serves as a tool to look at where you’ve been and what you hope to do. It’s good for people at all life stages (because, obviously, life changes from day to day, year to year). There are prompts throughout the book that have you look (workbook-style) at experiences, patterns, and ambitions. It’s a great tool for doing some self-examination and finding a purpose in the next steps.

 “When should you start mapping your life? Start at any time, at any age, whether you’re in your twenties or in midlife contemplating the second half of life.” (page 8)

I appreciate the types of questions within the prompts about the past because they got me thinking about parts of my life I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to include in an exercise of thinking about my future. For example, the prompt “What was your favorite room in the home you grew up in? Why?” got me thinking about how this room made me want to be a teacher. (My favorite room was our attic play room, a space where I could “teach” my stuffed animals arts and crafts, songs, numbers, and letters.) I wouldn’t have thought about the connections unless I was asked, and I am glad I was asked! It also is serving as healing from some of the significant experiences in my life (losing my best friend to cancer, dealing with an abusive relationship) and helping me think about how those things will drive my next chapters.

(How much do I love this included quote? “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” – Oprah Winfrey, page 31)

This book will be a great guide for me as I figure out the next steps in my life—do I want to crunch numbers every day for the next 40 years, no, but do I know for sure what the next big thing is? No! My Life Map will hold the secrets of my hopes and dreams—including family, friends, learning, work, service, and playing. These things will eventually (throughout the years) come to fruition if I continue to aim for my ambitions.

What are you waiting for? Are you ready to take a stab at mapping your past, present, and future? My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future is available for $16 from Gotham Books (and will definitely be on my holiday gift idea list).

Disclaimer: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

“Reflected in You” #BHBC #spon

If you’re in the mood for a steamy romance, do I have a good book to share with you.

Reflected in You is the second book in the Crossfire trilogy by Sylvia Day. Eva leaves the West Coast for a posh life in New York and meets the stunning, seductive Gideon Cross. The two begin a sizzling relationship in the first book (Bared to You) and then begin to fight their inner demons of the past in Reflected in You.

The characters have broken pasts, ones that often get in the way of their intimacy and trust. Add two exes from out of the blue into the mix and things get a bit crazy. I found myself cheering for Gideon one moment then hating him the next, shaking my head at why Eva would even dare stick around.

Passion, desire, and a twist kept me on my toes throughout the book. Perhaps it was Gideon’s addictive personality or my wish to rescue Eva (I related to her on many levels), but I was able to read this book in one weekend.

Without wanting to give too many secrets away, this series definitely delivers on comedy, romance, and heartbreak. The third book (I hear) comes out in May 2013, so if you are like me and easily get addicted to books, you might want to wait another month or so before moving from Bared to You onto Reflected in You (just kidding, sort of, I have NO patience!).

Throughout the next few weeks, you can keep an eye and ear out on what other bloggers thought of this book over at the BlogHer Book Club site dedicated to Reflected in You. We’ll be talking about various topics as we discuss the book.

Trust me when I say (and many other readers agree–Reflected in You is a #1 on the NY Times Book List!) that this book is a good read for the ladies this winter.

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Disclaimer: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

#BHBC Review: “You Have No Idea” #spon

One of the things I often wonder is, “How would my life have been different if I would have just…” (listened to my mom?). Sure, some things would have been a lot different, but maybe some things turned out the way they did because I chose not to listen.

Helen and Vanessa Williams (from BlogHer)

One of my childhood idols, Vanessa Williams, and her mother, Helen Williams, teamed up to write “You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other)”. The two tag-team Vanessa’ biography…Helen sprinkles in the advice that she gave Vanessa, and Vanessa gives her take on what the life moments around that advice. From as simple as not riding with someone else on the back of her bike to not posing nude, they tell it all.

While I am not normally one for biographies/memoirs, I have to tell you, “You Have No Idea” had me captivated from the beginning. As a child, I loved singing along to “Save the Best for Last” and “Colors of the Wind”, and we all know the story about the photos that ended her reign as Miss America. But, there are so many things I didn’t know about Vanessa, like that she has four children and was married twice (Rick Fox was one of her husbands). Oh, and Vanessa and I connect on a level–traveling with a breast pump and no baby. You’ll have to read the book to hear about the time she was in an airport and got called out by security…oh, do I know the feeling! Vanessa and Helen each gave their own side of the story (there’s always two sides, right?) and this makes the biography feel light–something I appreciate.

Helen and Vanessa write about the pageants, the music, the Broadway dream. Through it all, the theme of surviving what life hands you sticks out. While reading Vanessa’s story and hearing Helen’s advice, I laughed, I cried, and most of all, it made me connect with my past on another level. I can look back at things my mom has told me and say, “Oh! She was so right”…and it makes me think of things that I will have to tell my daughter.

This book was a fun read, and I highly recommend you pick up a copy of it. It is almost Mother’s Day, after all, so perhaps pick up a copy for your own mom and pen a note about some of the advice she gave you in life.

Want to join in on the fun that BlogHer is having around the release of “You Have No Idea”? Head over to their Book Club page. You’ll be able to hear more about the book, and join in the discussions, and even read an excerpt from Chapter One. There will be a new question each week, and I encourage you to share your thoughts. The first question will be, “Did you follow your mother’s rules? Did you listen to her advice?“. So what are you waiting for? Go share!

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Disclosure: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

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Want to hear more from Vanessa? Follow her on Twitter (@vwofficial) or like her on Facebook.