Imagine Your Story – Unplugged

Do you feel like if you might scream if you have to read one more email, attend yet another meeting online or answer another group text message? If so, then I feel your pain. I was right there with you a week and a half ago. I managed to complete my workdays without taking anyone’s head off, but then I realized, for me, it was time to unplug.

I’ve heard that unplugging for just 24 hours can be beneficial and can help people feel more centered and grounded in the present moment. But gosh, it seems harder than ever to unplug, right? We are in the middle of a pandemic. We are being forced to attend more virtual meetings than ever, order online more, stream everything, and text everyone that it seems impossible to avoid technology. But maybe this is the perfect time to do it.

A 2011 study from the University of Maryland demonstrated that when students unplugged from technology, they spent more time with friends and family, got more exercise, and cooked and ate healthier foods. That all sounds pretty good.

This past weekend, I left my phone alone, chose a paper book over my e-reader, avoided the video game console, and just let my brain relax. It wasn’t easy. I had to bow out of my weekly family Zoom meeting, miss an installment of a TV show I’ve been watching, and (sigh) put on my reading glasses to read, but think I ultimately benefited from it. I got lots of spouse and cat-time and some daydreaming in, got a bit of extra sleep, and crossed a few chores off my list. It was worth it.

So, how about it? Unplug for a day and see how it makes you feel. I won’t even be mad if you read my blog post a day late.

~Carol

 

Imagine Your Story – Toughen Up

Lately it’s a challenge to feel strong enough to handle what life has been throwing at us. In order to do that for myself, I’m striving to step up my physical and mental fitness games in order to be ready for anything. But, I find that it’s harder and harder to focus on the “love” part of the love/hate thing I’ve got going on with my treadmill and actually get motivated!

In the past couple of weeks, to mix it up, I’ve started adding to my consistently, inconsistent virtual boxing routine and aforementioned treadmill relationship by investigating what the library had to offer me. I was reminded, when searching the catalog, of the vast collection of exercise DVDs our library owns. Additionally, through our digital services, I can find ways to motivate myself even more. For example, using Hoopla I am able to borrow access to some really great yoga classes. My current favorite is “Gaiam: Athletic Yoga, Yoga For Flexibility with Kevin Love.” And, yes, you read that correctly. Our very own Cleveland Cleveland Cavaliers player Kevin Love is available to do yoga with you, in your home…and for that, you are welcome.

When I need strength building of the mental health variety, I usually find myself turning to Lynda Hudson’s guided meditations which I check out through the library’s Overdrive page. Lynda’s calming voice always get me to relax or to fall asleep faster. She’s even got an eBook for exercise motivation. Perfect timing, Lynda!

Are you looking for ways to change up your routine? I bet you’ll find something that will strengthen, entertain or at least surprise you when you check out our Digital Library.

Looks like it is time for me to go “move it” and spend 20 minutes with a certain Cavs player. Don’t worry, my husband is just in the next room.                     ~Carol

Imagine Your Story -The Honorable John Lewis

U.S. Representative from the 5th Congressional District of Georgia, The Honorable John Lewis, passed away Friday, July 17. The positive impact Congressman Lewis had on America, with his words and actions, have helped shape America into a better place to live. His personal story is powerful and his leadership is inspirational. If you’d like to learn more about The Honorable John Lewis, please consider watching John Lewis: Get in the Way on PBS, read his book Across that Bridge, or his story in March: book one, March: book two, March: book three in a graphic novel format, or a simple biography, John Lewis, you want something you can share with a younger reader. Mr. Lewis, we thank you for decades of service on behalf of us all and we miss you already.

Take care everyone
—Stacey

Imagine Your Story -A Memoir?

I’m taking some Liberties (future pun intended) and encouraging you to think about what your future memoir will contain… Will you be able to say you made sure you were counted in the 2020 Census? (If you haven’t you still can at: 2020 Census) Will you be able to say you made sure you could vote by requesting a mail-in ballot? (If you haven’t you still can from Cuyahoga Board of Elections or check the United States Government site for your local Board of Elections to request a ballot!)  Oh, you did all of that already? Good! I did too!  And now that we’ve fulfilled our Civic Duty toward the Life and Liberty part of Declaration of Independence, we can enjoy the Pursuit of Happiness by sitting back, relaxing, and listening to the Essential Bill Withers while we upcycle some lightly tattered clothes and look at interesting Summertime recipes (so we can avoid the oven)!

It’s good to plan ahead, isn’t it? Stay cool my friends!
—Stacey

Imagine Your Story : Historical Fiction That Educates, Too

This week had me occupied with a book recommendation from my husband. While we generally agree on films, food and other critical-to-marriage subjects, books are where he sticks to nonfiction, but where I enjoy more of the make-believe varieties.

So when he reads fiction and then wants to talk about it, I am in. And, spoiler alert, he was right (and now that I’ve blogged about it, has bragging rights). The King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips is that good. In this book, set in 1601, the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I is dying without an heir. Her likely successor is James VI of Scotland, who outwardly professes to be Protestant, but raised Catholic and with a Catholic wife, whose religious convictions are difficult to decipher. Those who wish to see England’s crown pass to a Protestant heir, including spy and stage actor Geoffrey Belloc, are desperate to know James’ heart on the matter.

kingatedge

A man without a dog in this fight is Ottoman Muslim Doctor, Mahmoud Ezzedine, who, banished to England because of unfortunate events, has been forced to become an expert on the nuances of Christianity and English politics. If Ezzedine has has any hopes of seeing his family again, he must assist Belloc. Ezzedine is made to be a judge of that which he knows little, in order to save a realm of which he cares little, in the faint hope he can return to the world he came from.

Today, it can be hard for some people to see beyond their perceptions of a person’s culture. This is one of the themes in this historical fiction/mystery hybrid novel. The doctor becomes a good spy, because while he might be distrusted for his foreignness, his foreignness also makes him invisible. Unseen, what will this man do to become free?

Not only is this book entertaining on so many levels, it may also have you reconsidering your own preconceptions of other cultures and people. In my opinion, that’s good fiction that educates.    ~Carol

Imagine Your Story -Variety Pack

You know how sometimes (or fairly often) it can be hard to settle down and read? I’ve found a variety pack of options to entertain myself, and maybe some of these ideas will appeal to you as well…

Magazines! From HGTV to Gourmet to bite sized articles in How it Works that help me learn something new, I’ve been enjoying flicking those pages until something catches my eye.

I’ve also been reading from the Diverse Voices for Younger Readers collection. I 100% think books for teens and younger readers can be as good -or better!- than adult books as they tell stories that are compelling but tend to be shorter (aka don’t get bogged down in wordy, unnecessary extras). Why not give it a try?

Sometimes I just listen to music while I clean or do some crafting…

But if you want to be ambitious? You could join me in the Great Courses Myth in Human History and -so far, so good!! And then I have an eye on How to Make Stress Work for You….

I hope one of these choices sounds appealing and gives you something new to try!

—Stacey

Imagine Your Story – Twins, Two Ways

Wow! I just yesterday finished The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and it has been taking up much of my brain space over the last 24 hours. If you haven’t heard of this brand new, of-the-moment novel yet, listen up. The story is set from the 1950s through the 1990s and begins in Mallard, Louisiana, a town whose population is composed mostly of light-skinned African-American people whose founder believed the lighter they are, the better they are. There, readers meet twins Stella and Desiree Vignes, descendants of their town’s founder, who run away when they are sixteen. The two separate when Stella decides to embark upon a life passing as a white woman – a secret she intends to keep from everyone, including her white husband and daughter. Following the trajectory of these sisters’ vastly different lives had me on the edge of my seat and I literally couldn’t put down this book. Not only is it thought-provoking and timely, it is also an exceptionally well-written look at relationships between mothers and daughters and the men they love that had my heart aching. Read this one. I know your book club will.

If you want to totally twin-out, I have one more twin-focused read. This one is a bit lighter but still tugs at the heart-strings. The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine is the perfect novel for word nerds. It tells the stories of Daphne and Laurel Wolfe, red-haired twins who begin speaking their own private languages as toddlers and are obsessed with words and grammar ever since. Unfortunately, they are equally obsessed with an old dictionary that their late father gave them, something that drives a wedge between them. Watch these wicked-smart girls become adults, figure out their careers and raise families, drifting apart even as they can never lose that twin connection.

And, yes, these are very different reads. I guess, maybe, just like twins can be.                     ~Carol (not a twin)

Imagine Your Story -Book vs Movie

How often have you had the discussion about which was better -the book or the movie? All the time, right? And how often do you pick the movie over the book? Not as often as you pick the book, right? Well, I’ve got a win/win for you this week! You can read the book *and* watch the movie, in any order, and walk away thinking, “that was great!” Are you curious yet?

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson blends his personal experiences and life journey with his drive to create social justice and encourage us all to get involved. I read this book when it first came out, and have enjoyed it as an audio book as well, and I think part of what makes Mr. Stevenson’s book so special is how a reader can emotionally connect to experiences, feeling his pain and his joy, while breaking down those systemic issues surrounding the inequality of our justice system. Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative leading force in the creation of the Legacy Museum as well as the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Mr. Stevenson is changing our World for the better!

“But what about Just Mercy as a movie?” you ask. This movie focused in on how Mr. Stevenson became Mr. Walter McMillian’s lawyer over other experiences in the book. Sometimes it’s that trimming that can leave a reader feeling like something was missing, but I would be surprised to hear that after you watch this film. Instead, I’d guess you might also think of this as an additional chapter to the book?

I hope you read *and* watch Just Mercy, and then -please, let me know what you think!

Take care
—Stacey

Imagine Your Story -on a Trip Near or Far

As we head into nicer weather and the time when people like to take Summer Vacations, this year maybe you want to consider doing a little Day Trippin‘? Why go far away when you can see travel around the Great State of Ohio (and locations nearby) with a tank or two of gas?! Economical + supporting local businesses + exploring sites in your own backyard = good times ahead! In fact, why not take a picnic lunch -you can make yummy sandwiches with the bread you’ve made!

Or if you’re feeling like hanging out in a nearby green space this Summer sounds just as good, you can either literally or figuratively Take a Hike with a book! Oh the options!

This week, I think I’ll start small with checking out some Backyard Wildlife and maybe start a little Backyard Revolution? I mean, the bunnies and deer seem to have found their way to me so why not really dig into it! (pun intended ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

– Stacey

Imagine Your Story – TV & Video-gaming on the New Frontier

It’s true confession time–I’m a bit obsessed with a video game. Red Dead Redemption II is a survival game set in 1890s in a fictionalized representation of the Western, Midwestern, and Southern United States. Players become Arthur Morgan, a member of a notorious gang, and are encouraged to follow the game’s story-line in order survive the decline of the Wild West, government forces, rival gangs, and other adversaries. Usually, this kind of a game is a bit too shoot-em-up for my style, but I find that as Arthur, I can mount a horse, ignore the missions the game wants me to embark on, and instead just ride on and on, enjoying the gorgeous landscape of early 19th-Century America. Don’t laugh –the scenery in this game is indeed that good. In fact, the game designers actually were inspired by 19th-century painters like Rembrandt and American landscape artists who were members of the Hudson River School when they created this game. After an hour of play, I’m relaxed from all the flora and fauna around me and, oh yeah, did I mention that I get to be a cowboy too?

In reality, taming the wilderness was neither all that fun or easy, and I get to see that in live action too, while I’m watching “Barkskins” on the National Geographic channel. This TV adaptation of Annie Proulx’s 2016 novel is set in the colonial region of New France in the last years of the 17th-century. It chronicles the deforestation of the New World, beginning with the arrival of two immigrants to New France, René Sel and Charles Duquet, who are tasked with work as wood-cutters, or “barkskins.” As you might imagine, it’s a rough life for these men, and on all sides there is threat of death as English and French vie for land and power. The show, lavishly set with wood-built settlements of the main town, dark candle-lit interiors and rustic pathways where we would have modern city streets, creates the feel of danger around every corner and puts viewers right in the action. Part western, part soap opera, part saga of good versus evil, this show is 100% totally binge-able. I dare you to look away.

Want some adventure in your life? Place a hold for Barkskins in book format in our catalog here.  And, don’t forget to place holds on all your favorite videogames, including Red Dead Redemption II for  Playstation 4 and Xbox One

Until next time, happy trails. ~Carol