Free books from Random House

If you like to read and you’re not already signed up for for the Read it Forward newsletter I don’t know what you’re waiting for!

Now through May 11 you can sign up to win a copy of:

Twelve Rooms with a View by Theresa Rebeck

Ten Minutes from Home by Beth Greenfield

Ancestor by Scott Sigler

Good luck! If you win a copy be sure to pass it on.

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Used book shopping … online!

You might already know this, but I’m a huge fan of reading. I would be the kid sitting inside during summer break (my parents HATED that!).

My bookshelves are overflowing. Sadly I have boxes of books sitting inside the garage right now (I know, I know, horrible place to keep books!). But … I have a feeling some of those books will be leaving and going on to better homes where they will be loved, I came across Cash4Books today. (Yes, that’s a referral link. Yes, I do get $5 for a new customer going through that link. Yes, you can do the same thing on your blog). I like the idea of this because I don’t have to drag the books to a store only to be possibly turned away because they already have enough in stock. I can just input the numbers and they’ll give me a postage paid address label. Couldn’t be simpler!

I also checked out their sister site, McKenzie Books. You can buy used books online. They have an awesome book alert that will e-mail you when a book you want comes in to stock. They’re easy to set up and I have a feeling it will come in handy because tracking down Jeremy’s graphic novels at reduced prices is hard.

Their prices are extremely reasonable – and just like Amazon they have free shipping on orders over $25. (But Amazon’s free shipping is only on new books, you can order new or used from McKenzie). It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a used bookstore because the prices just weren’t worth it last time I went. If I’m only getting 25% off I’d rather use a 40% off coupon at a new book store or just borrow from the library. With McKenzie, their prices seemed to be more like 40-60% off.

Speaking of books, any good cook book recomendations out there? I’m a lazy cook, which means I’m not much of one at all.  I saw Great Food Fast and I’m thinking that might be for me but I’m not sure yet. I prefer healthy and cheap. I’m seriously considering giving up HFCS so that means no more sloppy joe bakes with Manwich!

Disclosure: I was provided with a gift card to McKenzie Books.
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Ten Ways to Stay Spiritually Connected

Whether you practice a traditional religion or relate to a more universal spirituality, these steps will help you tap into a sense of unlimited peace:

1. Recognize your creator. Think on this: There is a supreme power in the universe that is bigger and more powerful than your small mortal self. This step makes you humble.

2. Seek opportunities to put more love into the world. Strive to be a vessel of love, to fill the wold with more compassion and kindness. This step makes you loving and lovable.

3. Set aside time each day to spend in spiritual reflection and contemplation. Dwell in the presence of the divine: Your path may be to pray, meditate, read spiritual material, take a long walk through nature – or all of the above- but an optimum practice includes both morning and evening sessions of at least 20 minutes each. This step makes you strong.

4. Become more accepting. With every interaction, surrender any tendency to judge another person. Pray for a more accepting heart. This step makes you gracious.

5. Forgive anyone you have not forgiven. Whenever you withhold forgiveness, you keep yourself bound to your own feelings of guilt. This step makes you kind.

6. Recognize your mistakes. Admit where you yourself have been wrong, and be willing to be corrected. This step makes you responsible.

7. Try to see the good in others. When you’re tempted to judge someone, make an effort to see their goodness. Your willingness to look for the best in people will subconsciously bring it forth. This step makes you positive.

8. Take stock of your thoughts and behavior. Each night ask yourself, when were you negative when you could have been positive? When did you withhold love when you might have given it? When did you play a neurotic game instead of behaving in a powerful way? Use this process to self-correct. This step makes you grow.

9. Bless the world. Pray not just that your own life will be blessed but that blessings be poured on everyone. This step makes you beautiful.

10. Use each interaction to be the best, most powerful version of yourself. Try to rise to the occasion. Be the most wonderful expression of you you’re capable of. This step makes you a conduit of God’s love.

by Marianne Williamson, via Oprah Magazine May 2010

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Smile.


here and here

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gmail

I’m beginning to not like the size of my gmail inbox. It doesn’t give me a good reason to delete e-mails and then they sit there taunting me.

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I hate being sick.

I’m such a wimp when I’m sick!

I ended up with strep throat and a sinus infection this week. Then the antibiotics made me sicker instead of better and I felt like I was dying. All is good in the world now – this beautiful weather has absolutely helped bunches!

Without further whining I wanted to point you to a giveaway that features one of my favorite blogs (maggieroseonline.com, formerly Magchunk).


Head over to Sweetie Pie Pumpkin Noodle sometime before April 22 for a chance to win a custom e-decor guide worth $75!

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The Cab Ride

By Dr. Kent Nerburn

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.

It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss.

What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry.

Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, and made me laugh and weep.

But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night. I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partiers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window.

Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away.

But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation.

Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.

So I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knick-knacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

“It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”

I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers.”

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

From Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.

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Fortune Cookie

My fortune cookie: ‘No entertainment is so cheap as reading nor any pleasure so lasting.’

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Do you have enough time?

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

- H. Jackson Brown

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Foundation for Ashley's Dream

A friend (Kim) passed this along. She’s friends with Ashley’s family – it really hit home for me because it happened in Metro-Detroit.

By Mitch Albom, “Dreams Deferred 1997”

Last in a series on the heartbreaks and hopes of unsung Detroit area athletes.

A thin drizzle fell that night, giving the streets an oily sheen under the lights. It was just past midnight, Monday turning to Tuesday, and a teenager named Tim Doil was driving through Troy with two friends, coming home from a high school graduation party. It was warm. Early June. They had Puff Daddy on the radio, singing “I’ll Be Missing You.” They were heading east.

In the intersection up ahead, Crooks and Long Lake , Doil noticed a black Grand Prix coming west. And from the corner of his eye, to his right, he saw a white Trans Am moving fast from the south. Doil instinctively stepped on his brakes, even though the Trans Am had a red light. Something funny about the speed.

One second later, with the disbelief of seeing someone fall out a window, Doil watched the Trans Am run that red light and plow broadside into the Grand Prix, splitting it in two. There was a loud boom, smashing glass, sparks and smoke and pieces of metal flying.

And then, there was silence.

“God, did you see that!” Doil yelled to his pals. He pulled his blue Oldsmobile to a safe spot, shut off the engine and jumped out. Near the median curb he saw the first body, a young man with blond hair. He was face down in a bloody mess. Doil had never seen a dead person before, but he was pretty sure he was looking at one now.

Just a few feet away, there was another young man, dark-haired. He was facing up, barely breathing. Doil kneeled down and squeezed his hand.

“Hey.” Doil said.

The young man gurgled. There was blood everywhere. Doil saw the eyes close and felt the life slip out of the young man’s fingers. He let them go.

From the middle of the street, he heard the wounded howl of a woman in paid. He ran to join his buddies, who were already around her. It was so eerie, all these bodies in the rain.

“What’s your name?” he asked the woman.

“Lori,” she moaned. She had been driving the white Trans Am, but had been hurled out by the impact. She was bruised and bleeding, in her dying hour. But out of shock, she tried to lift herself, as if to get up to go.

“Stay down,” Doil and his friends kept saying. “You hear the sirens?.Help is coming.Everything will be all right.”

By now, a few other motorists had stopped, and someone shined a flashlight in the woman’s eyes, which kept rolling back in their sockets. Then Doil heard a voice yell, “There’s another one, over here!”

He ran to an area by some small trees, where the back half of the Grand Prix had landed. He swallowed hard. What he saw was the worst of all. It was a girl, or it been a girl, in a plaid shirt and jeans. She lay against the wreckage in a pool of bloody water. A few minutes earlier, Doil guessed, she had been the same as him, alive, laughing, maybe 17 or 18, on her way home for the night.

And now the look.

Drink, drink, drive, die. This is the story of a killer, only the killer is a decision to get behind a wheel. This time it killed in Troy , a place where children still shine, where they leave their parents dazzled by their achievements. Three of the brightest lights you could ever imagine were in that black Grand Prix, that night, sober and happy. And now their fathers cry in the middle of the afternoon, and their mothers wait longingly for them to somehow burst through the door, still young, still laughing.

Drink, drink, drive, die. This is the story of everyone that killer decision destroyed. And what really kills you is that it didn’t have to happen.

Full .pdf of article is available here.

Visit Foundation for Ashley’s Dream.

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