Photo is courtesy of Creative Commons,  https://www.flickr.com/photos/zanzibar123/186131987/sizes/s/

Photo is courtesy of Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/zanzibar123/186131987/sizes/s/.

This long weekend is a good time for me to delve into The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870 – 1914, this month’s selection for our nonfiction book club. The book looks daunting, all 700 or so pages. Yet, what motivates me to get started is the trust I have in club members who have recommended noteworthy books by authors who can craft memorable, literary works of art.

Our method of selecting books is fairly arbitrary. If a club member likes a book and wants the club to read it, we do so as long as the roster for the year covers a variety of nonfiction genres and topics. Of the 50 plus books we have read and discussed, some have been gems.

On a long, hot, summer day, grab a drink, stretch out on a hammock, become immersed in someone else’s world, and enjoy reading a great book. Ten books that I might not have selected on my own but found to be more than worthwhile might just suit you. Take a look.

10 favorite nonfiction books

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. There’s so much to learn about a remarkable individual who held the moral high ground, at great cost, during World War II Germany.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. This is a wonderful record of President Garfield’s life and long, painful, mistreated illness and eventual death.

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.S. Reid. While searching for a remedy to his own medical problem, the author uncovers how the approaches to treatment and healing vary from country to country. Read More

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Photo, Start Something by Martino Sabia, is courtesy of Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ezu/23570999.

Nature is filled with stops and starts that just happen, without any effort or coaxing from human beings. We see that the snow that covered the ground for months is almost gone, giving way to soggy soil and brown, slightly green grass. We hear the songs of robins and see crocuses popping through the earth. We listen, we watch, we shed our armor of heavy coat, hat, gloves, and boots and greet a new season. If only our work life stopped and started so naturally. If only we could recharge by pressing a magic button. My work world–and maybe yours, too–is filled with projects, where an element of angst accompanies the stops and the starts and, at times, the phases in between.

Stops

I now see the finish line approaching on one book project that has occupied my mind and energy for several months. The client is reviewing a draft that I will then tweak, as needed, and prepare for publication. It seems that the difficult work of transforming lots of content into an organized, readable, interesting book is almost ready to stop. There are some signs that this work, like the robin and the crocus, will sing and bloom. I will watch this spring as this book project leaves me and takes on a life of its own.

Starts

While my efforts on one book project are about to stop, I hem and haw about a new project that is about to start. Unlike the start of spring that, sooner or later, just happens, this new assignment, which is a chapter in a book that will have many contributors, is not miraculously taking shape. No, it needs some prodding, some cajoling, some poking around. Since this new book is a collection, there is already a theme to consider. Yet, what I want to convey in my chapter is vague. How and where do I begin? Read More

You have a book that’s waiting…for you! It’s in your head. It’s in your heart. It’s in your bones. You can feel it wanting to take shape and become alive.

Purchase a journal, your future book. Now, pick it up. Maybe you’re apprehensive, wondering how you are going to fill these empty pages, how you are going to make a book that, next year, will have a place at the table of a book sale, a place in which others can peruse your book, purchase it, read it, benefit from it, and enjoy it. Now, relax a bit. Take a deep breath, because, like Santa, who is arriving very soon, you have a team that helps you carry the load. You have your very own Rudolph, your own Dasher, Dancer, Donder, and Blitzen.

You have Writer, Designer, and

Researcher, Reviewer, and

Editor, Publisher, and

Printer, Bookseller, and

As you may recall, you have

The most famous one of all

Your very own Rudolph, your Muse,

With a passion so bright,

Who guides your book to light.

In your journal, your future book, write Dedication at the top of one page; on another page, write Acknowledgments. Consider now the team pulling your sleigh, the team making your book real. Add their names to your book. Of course, this will change over time, but you don’t need to wait for your book to be complete to think about those you will thank, the contributors who will appear in your Dedication and Acknowledgments.

Let’s start with your muse. Who or what is inspiring you to write this book? Add the muse to the Dedication. Read More

Once a book is authored, published, and printed, there’s the added joy of sharing the finished product. At a recent outdoor music and cultural festival, I did just that. With the goal that A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way reach those who could benefit, the festival was wonderful in so many ways.

A festival

Because the festival was in Syracuse, NY, my hometown, my family who live in the area gathered in a show of support. My brothers Larry and Richard delivered and set up a long table with chairs to display my books. My young great-niece Kara set out the tablecloth, arranged books and business cards, filled the candy jar, and displayed a plaque with the words, “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” My nephews Jacob and David and others stood watch. Our table looked very inviting!

The first person to stop by bought A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way. She noted that the $18 price tag was a very good sign, since 18 is the number for Chai, which is Hebrew for life. Passers-by perused the book, delighted to find recipes for food they love, contributed by, in some cases, people they knew. I discovered that foodies love to cook, bake, eat—and talk!

I was happy to meet Kara’s friend Sophie. It turned out that her mom is the second cousin of one of my oldest and dearest Syracuse friends who has some recipes in the book. It was my pleasure to give Sophie’s mom my book as a thank-you for her kindness to Kara.

A childhood friend Myra and her adult daughter Lisa stopped by. I had not seen them in 25 years and pointed out that Rose, who was Myra’s mom and Lisa’s grandmother, gave my mom (my much loved Ma) a wonderful recipe for strudel, which is included in the Cookies and Pastries section of my book.

When I recognized a passerby as a member of the clergy who, faithfully and compassionately, visited my dear Ma daily during her final days, I greeted him but could not speak for several long moments, viscerally feeling again those difficult days. In gratitude for his support, I gave him A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way where he will get to know my Ma at her best as well as the many loved ones she nourished.

My cousin Maxine greeted visitors to our table, sharing her enthusiasm for the recipes and snippets of family lore that season the book’s pages. My sister Sandy stopped by just in time to hear a gentleman named Harold describe a recipe that his mother brought with her from Europe many years ago.

A recipe

At home, from her collection of treasured recipes, Sandy retrieved a recipe for plum kuchen that looked very close to the recipe Harold described. She wrote, “Mrs. M always brought it for holiday meals or a Sunday pizza night.  She was a terrific cook.  I’m sure this recipe came with her from Germany.” Read More

Back cover for A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way

Back cover for A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way

A new look

This week, I dressed up my blog! The old header, which highlighted Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal, my first book, is gone. A new, impressionistic splurge of colors now appears. Just above it, there is a new menu item, Eating Our Way. Just above that, there’s a new book title, A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way. And to the right, there’s a new image, showing off one very tasty dish―part cookbook, part inspiration, part memoir―that is now hot off the press! With this facelift completed, I sit back, look, and enjoy it.

A new book

The reason for this new look? I wanted to include my new book in this blog. The original blog focused on how to transition successfully from one phase of work or one phase of life to another, based on the process detailed in Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal.

This refreshed, revitalized blog retains the existing blog entries and categories and additionally showcases the results of paying attention to the many earlier postings in this blog. Being mindful of Capabilities, talents, and strengths; Decision-making, problem-solving, and organizing; Motivation and inspiration; Self-discovery and self-actualization through exploration and reflection; and Work and life balance; I now have A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way as an addition to my Products, services, and offerings. It is now among my Success stories!

A new opportunity―for you

Look over this blog. See what resonates. Let the postings, the comments, the books, the menu, and the categories evoke something positive in you. Let the impressionistic dots, patterns, ripples, waves, and colors splashed in the new header allow you to picture an opportunity that is waiting just for you. Perhaps it is a project, a product, or another creation. Tell us about it. Tell the world!

Next weekend, I am attending my high school reunion. Many, many years have passed―more than I care to admit. I will be driving a relatively short distance, just 70 miles or so, to the place I forever consider my home and will be staying in the bedroom I shared―from my entry to kindergarten to graduation from high school―with an older sister. At just about the same time, we both moved to new digs. She got married, and I went to college. Until recently, my mother (Ma) lived upstairs, along with one of my three brothers, and other members of our family have occupied the downstairs. With Ma now playing “Pennies from Heaven” and other favorite songs on a piano in her celestial abode, returning home is no longer the same, but with family there, it is still very, very good.

For me, this upcoming trip requires no extensive travel arrangements, and I’m all set as far as attire, since that is not a primary concern. For any occasion, including this one, I simply put myself together and am presentable. After a glance in the mirror to adjust anything that might obviously be amiss, I move on.

Yet, this occasion, this milestone, this high school reunion does cause me to pause. Read More

My writing desk is a work in progress.

My writing desk is a work in progress.

While you are looking at this photo of a work in progress, I am marveling over the real deal—the varnished, cherry writing desk, now with knobs on the two drawers and a panel that goes over the drawer on the left to provide additional surface.

From the unfinished writing desk that my brother Larry and my cousin Marty are modeling in the photo, you can likely tell that this is homemade. Larry, our family’s very own woodworker and furniture maker, asked me what I’d like at the start of this very tough upstate New York winter. Answering Larry’s question was easy. I wanted a writer’s desk. Read More

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