Sunday, May 20, 2018

Blog Tour: Saving Each Other by Stacy Mitchell

Buy the Book
May is Family Support Month and I think that I have the perfect book for you to read: Saving Each Other.  Recently published, Saving Each Other is a must-read for the summer. This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend, and Saving Each Other should definitely be in your beach bag or travel bag. 

About the Book: 
Two hearts, two souls. Devastated by loss, united through destiny. 

The rules: Communicate only through text messages and never reveal our real names or other personal details. 

My name is Ean Montgomery. After the drunk driving accident that killed my wife, son, and unborn daughter, I was forced to see a grief counselor. In an unconventional move, she gave me a private cell phone and the first initial of the name of a woman who had been widowed by the same accident. I had no intention of ever texting her but with all hope and the will to live gone, I found myself quickly slipping down the rabbit hole. Desperate, lonely, and unbelievably sad, I reached out to her and she became my everything. 

Buy the Book
My name is Dani Adams. I was married to my college sweetheart, the love of my life. Together we were raising our four-year-old daughter and running a successful business. Then the accident happened and life as I knew it ended in the blink of an eye. I didn’t want to answer his text but I was barely hanging on by a thread and he was in tremendous pain, so I replied. And once again, my world was forever changed. 

Over the course of a year, through texting alone, we bond. Friendship blossoms into something deeper. We were never supposed to meet, but fate had other plans, and in this world of loss and despair, something amazing began to grow… But can the passion we’ve found sustain itself with the deep, soul-twisting pain that never seems to fade? 

Excerpt from from Saving Each Other

The place D and I have been forced to go for counseling is called “OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center” and is about a half an hour away from my home. My mom insisted on driving me. And while she hasn’t read anything about the accident, she spent the entire ride, before my first session, alternating between trying to force me to read the articles flooding the Internet and trying to persuade me to attend the court proceedings. I’m not going to read what some scumbag has to say about my family and I’ve made everyone promise they won’t either. I’m also definitelynot going to the trial. The minute I see the man who murdered my family, I’ll lose my shit and that wouldn’t be good for anyone,especially me.
“OUR HOUSE” usually holds group sessions, but because our sessions are court-mandated and high profile, D and I were able to meet separately with our counselor, Elizabeth Macintyre, on a one-to-one basis.
Since we’re both barely hanging on by a thread, Beth did something very extreme and veryrisky. She came up with the idea that connecting us with one another could help us get through the grieving process. Her thinking was that since we’re both going through the same thing, we could potentially help each other. She explained to us—that to her—this was worth the potential loss of her license.
She gave us each a new cell phone that contained only each other’s new phone numbers along with the first letter of our first names. She wanted us to have a dedicated line to one another and her only stipulations were that we only communicate through text message and never reveal our real names or other personal details. This I agreed to because I had absolutely no intention of evercontacting her.
Except today. Today I have to. So I turn on my phone and type:
D, this is E.
I can’t believe I’m actually doing this. I don’t see how it’s going to change anything but I can’t stand this anymore. I’m at my breaking point. I’m in constant pain. It feels like a huge band is crushing my chest and getting tighter every day.All I do is cry!Everybody’s been trying really hard to help get me through this, I know that. I just don’t have it in me to give a shit.
I lost it with my mom yesterday. Said things no son should ever say to his mother. All she did was ask me to move in with her, and I lost it. It got so bad that she ran out of the house crying with a very mad Riley on her heels. Sure she’s asked me before, but that’s no excuse. My dad laid into me, took Po, and left. I’m now truly alone; being sucked into an inescapable vortex of grief.I’m so lost.
They haven’t been by yet today and I hope they don’t come by at all; this way I can die in peace. I’m falling down the rabbit hole very quickly and that’s why I needto contact D, the only other person who could possibly understand what I’m going through.
So I continue.
I wasn’t planning on contacting you, but here I am. I’m sure you feel the same way since you haven’t reached out to me and I don’t blame you if you don’t respond. It’s been almost a month since my world ended, and let’s just say, unfortunately, suicide isn’t an option. Even though I really wish it were.
I push aside my tears but not my pain; it refuses to leave. I take a deep breath and keep typing.
I’m dying. With each second that passes, I keep dying more and more. I never leave my house, I just sit near the door waiting for their return. So yeah, I’m contacting you. Are you going through the same thing? Why did this have to happen? How am I ever supposed to move on or whatever the hell that even means.
Through my agony I type the plea that just might save my life.
I know I said I don’t blame you if you don’t respond, but at the same time, I really need you to text me back. I’m scared, sad, lonely, and extremely desperate.

About the Author:

Stacy Mitchell was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lived in the South Bay for 20 years before moving to the Conejo Valley. She lives with her husband of 29 years and is the mom of two grown sons. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, hiking in the Santa Monica mountains or enjoying a glass of cabernet.

Fifteen Random Facts About Stacy:

I’m not a picky eater…most of the time. I hate coconut but I love macaroons. I hate salmon but love lox. And, unlike Ean, mushrooms are one of my favorite foods. I prefer candy over chocolate, cake over pie and frozen yogurt over ice cream. I hate water, unless I’m really thirsty, and hate sweet drinks. Especially when it has fake sugar in it…shudder.

I am completely ambidextrous but was only able to carry my kids with my right arm.

I can read a full-length hardcover novel in five hours, but if you hand me the same book in paperback, it takes me five days.

I couldn’t watch the new Will and Grace until I saw all eight seasons of the old one. So I’ve been on a five-month binge. Same goes with books. If I see a book that looks interesting, and it’s part of a series, I always have to start at the beginning—even if it’s a standalone. 

I absolutely hate biographical movies. I loved the Titanic until the boat hit the iceberg. It ruined the whole story. What’s the point in seeing one if you know how it ends?

I hate walking on sidewalk, love walking on dirt. I can hike for three miles and love every minute of it, but if you put me on the street, I’m complaining after only three blocks. And don’t get me started on running! I don’t see the allure, after three yards I’m in a snit.

I believe in ghosts and want to develop my sixth sense so I can talk to them. BN Toler’s Where One Goes, is one of my all-time favorite books. 

Karma is my religion. How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours. Going back to BN Toler, I like To Have It All, as much, if not more than Where One Goes

My favorite room in my house is my bedroom. If I could live there 24/7, I would.

I run fast and far from a spider and a bee, but can hold a snake or a mouse with no problem. 

I'm a night person, I'd rather stay up late and sleep in the day. The only way I like to see the sunrise is if I've been up all night. But when I do have to wake up early, it usually takes me a good hour to find myself. My friends call it aimless wandering or the Stacy shuffle.

I’m a city girl through and through. I couldn’t live anywhere that shuts down early. I usually don’t eat dinner until 9:00pm.

Markets soothe me; I never bring a list. It’s much more fun to just wander up and down each aisle. Whenever I go to the market to get a couple of things, it ends up being more and I always end up going from a hand held basket to a cart.

I’m incredibly spontaneous. I hate scheduling things, and when I do, I usually don’t make it. I was also born two-weeks late and have never changed. My friends call it Stacy time and usually pad our meeting time.

My favorite type of restaurant is a hole in the wall. I love traveling, and when I do, those types of restaurants are usually what I search for. There’s nothing worse that eating at a chain restaurant when an amazing family owned restaurant is just around the corner. That’s why I include real restaurants in my books.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Book Review: Just Breathe by Mallika Chopra

Buy the Book

Book: Just Breathe
Author: Mallika Chopra
Format: eBook
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was immediately interested in reading  Just Breathe by Mallika Chopra because she is the daughter of Deepak Chopra. I was curious to see what information was provided that I could share with my 12-year-old daughter to help her maneuver through life. I liked how straightforward and simplistic the breathing exercises and guided meditations are for children. 

Recently, a research study highlighted that suicide is rising among children. This alarming fact proves that books like this one, which provides numerous techniques on how to deal with stress and anxiety, its necessity. I believe that this book can be used as a bonding tool between children and their parents. 

I enjoyed how Mallika Chopra managed to make the book relatable to children and explain the significance of each technique that is being introduced. I would recommend this book for children, who are unfamiliar with using meditation and breathing in their lifestyles. For children, who are familiar with the lifestyle, they may become uninterested in the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I shared with my daughter and son, who is 10. Children are exposed to so much more than when I was growing up. Having a book like Just Breathe could save a life and assist a child in effectively managing the ups and downs of life. 

About the Book:

For kids ages 8 to 12, this is an accessible and fun meditation and mindfulness how-to book filled with full-color illustrations, written by Mallika Chopra and with a foreword by Deepak Chopra.

Just Breathe is a fun and accessible, fully illustrated go-to meditation guide written by none other than Mallika Chopra, wellness expert and the daughter of Deepak Chopra. For kids ages 8 to 12, this book is full of specific exercises to help deal with day-to-day challenges and tips to lead a healthier, happier, and more connected life. 

The book includes practical advice on breathing techniques and guided meditations for a number of topics and scenarios, including: dealing with stress,  getting to sleep, building self-confidence, focusing on school/tests/other work, and ridding oneself of anxiety. 
Beginners will learn the basics of meditation and how to get started, and those more experienced will learn how to improve their practice. This book will also teach kids how to prepare their own meditation spaces. Just Breathe is the go-to book for kids who want to learn more about mindfulness and meditation.  

A Note From the Publisher

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mallika Chopra is a mom, media entrepreneur, public speaker, and published author. Her first book, 100 Promises to My Baby, published in 2005 and has sold 20,692 copies on Bookscan. She is also the author of two additional books: 100 Questions From My Child and most recently Living with Intent. She is the founder of, a website and app focused on personal, social, and global wellness. She also helped launch the Heal The World Foundation with Michael Jackson in the 1990s. She is the founder of The Chopra Well, a premiere YouTube channel with 173K subscribers. She teaches a course at Columbia University, where she is also obtaining her Masters in Psychology. She has spoken on her passion for Intent at TedX SanDiego, TedX Berkeley, Ideacity, Business Innovation Factory, LOHAS, and women's conferences around the US, as well as speaking regularly at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Guest Post: Inspired to Read

Inspired to ReadInspired to Read
By Karin Steyn

Reading is not an activity that many children are fond of. They prefer to participate in sports or find entertainment in the world of technology rather than to sit down and read. While many will argue that a measure of reading is done while they chat online or play various games, it doesn't help them to improve their reading skills.

Why is reading important? Reading helps the mind to develop. It stimulates the muscles of the eyes and sparks the imagination. It improves vocabulary and word power, and broadens horizons. It increases the IQ. Reading also stimulates emotional development, and cultivates sensitivity and empathy. It builds confidence and improves conversation. Moreover, it teaches moral values, entertains and relaxes.

Yes! Reading is fundamental. Teachers and parents need to realize how important their role is in motivating a love for reading. The custom of reading and the love of books must be established in childhood. If teachers and parents want children to succeed at school and in life, they should read to them aloud daily. They should also encourage the children to read aloud. If at first they are hesitant, the adult should read the articles to them. A child is never too young to listen. Even babies respond to the way the voice is used during reading. Parents who read to their children from a very young age will soon discover that the time spent together creates a special bond.

For some children and teenagers, reading is work because it is done mostly for school. Another reason why they may hate the idea is that they are struggling with reading. They become defensive and think the activity is stupid.

It is never too late to start reading. Children and teenagers can be encouraged to start reading short stories and magazine or newspaper articles of interest. Convincing them to read books may be more difficult, but help them to choose a good book. Give them an idea about the plot of the story. Make them excited to read the story.

Patience and a lot of encouragement are the keys to a teacher or parent's success, but if all else fails, encourage them to work towards a prize. Very little motivates and inspires the youth more than money and gifts. This can be done by initiating a reading group. While adults belong to reading groups, there are very few opportunities for children. Reading clubs or reading groups should encourage children to read and show an interest in books. These groups or clubs will allow them to listen to literature being read aloud. The children will have the opportunity to also give their opinion about the work as well as the author.
Teachers and parents can also help children to participate in World Book Day, also known as International Day of the Book, which is held annually on the 23rd of April. It is organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading. Make April the month for reading. International Children's Book Day is also an annual event held in April. This event was founded in 1967 and observed on or around the 2nd of April, which is Hans Christian Andersen's birth date. On this day activities include reading, writing competitions and the announcement of book awards. Why not think of a way to give awards to the children in the reading club or group that you have started?

The important thing to remember in life is that you are not just developing a love for reading. You are developing a child. John Ruskin said, "The highest reward for a man's toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it."

As children grow up, they become less keen to read. Reading is essential because it develops the mind and stimulates emotional development. Teachers and parents play an important role in motivating and encouraging children to read.

Article Source:

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Blogtour: One Pedal at a Time by CJ Golden

Book Title: One Pedal at a Time: A Novice Caregiver and Her Cyclist Husband Face Their New Normal with Courage, Tenacity, and Abundant Love
Publisher: Eronel Publishing
Date: February 14, 2018
Categories: Nonfiction; Women's Interest; Caregiver
Author's Website:

About the Book:

My participation in this BlogTour is perfect since May is Family Support Month and Older Americans Month. I am excited to participate in the BlogTour for CJ Golden's new book: One Pedal at a Time: A Novice Caregiver and Her Cyclist Husband Face Their New Normal with Courage, Tenacity, and Abundant Love.

In this book, CJ Golden provides a glimpse into the often silent world of being a caregiver for a loved one. Sharing her journey as the caregiver for her husband, Golden shares the reality, which includes both the ups and downs, of being the primary caregiver to her husband, Joe.  I admire how Golden is not afraid to paint a very transparent picture of her journey caring for Joe, who suffered from cancer and several strokes. Based on this book, I believe that the love story between Golden and Joe is one that exceeds the meaning of the wedding vows in sickness and in health. For caregivers, who often feel like they are alone in their journey of being the "go-to person" for their loved ones, Golden's book, One Pedal at a Time, proves that caregivers' experiences are not isolated. Based on this book, I understand the unspoken struggles of my mother and her siblings as they juggled their own lives and took care of my grandmother. Watching my mother demonstrate the unselfish nature of a caregiver, I appreciate Golden's desire to share her story with the world and to inspire other caregivers.

Who would enjoy this book?

I believe that people, who are caring for a loved one, would definitely appreciate reading One Pedal at a Time. Also, I think that people, who are not caring for a loved one but know of someone who is, could benefit from reading this book because it presents a glimpse into the caregiver's reality and could help them in understanding how to be a real friend to a caregiver. 

Connect with the Author

Connect with CJ Golden via social media: 

Author Questions and Answers

Parts of your book are a series of emails that you sent to friends and family during the time of Joe’s hospitalization and recovery. What made you realize that you needed to share it with the world in a book?

Oh, my, that sounds a tad frightening, doesn’t it – sharing it with the world?  But all that I had learned and shared through my writing was being read and embraced by my readers. They were with Joe and me every step of the way and, knowing they were there and caring kept me going. It felt so good to have them all in my world as I went through this very personal tumultuous time. One Pedal at a Time grew out of their comments and, quite honestly, requests that I put my writings in a book for others to benefit from. My journey was similar to so many others’ and, therefore, the lessons I had brought to light were helpful to them. We need to know we are not alone in our circumstances; especially times of duress.

You have studied and practiced Taoist principles, how were you able to use these as you became an unexpected caregiver for your husband? 

Quite honestly, I did not recognize those principles specifically as they carried me through my caregiver journey. It was only when Joe was stronger and life as it had been was peeking through the clouds, that I sat and thought about the Tao. The principles that I had followed – and do throughout my life – are Tzu-jan, which means that “stuff happens”. Life takes the twists and turns it is supposed to take and we cannot undo that. 
Then Wu Wei comes in and we are taught we must acknowledge that which has happened for, without doing so, we cannot work our way through to the other side. Basically, in today’s terminology, I suspect that all would be explained as “You can’t change or ignore what has happened - so deal with it!” 
Tao also teaches us Te, that reminds us we are each unique with our own set of skills. Those skills are what we put in to play when we need to, well, “deal with stuff.” Along with our skillsets, we also have weaknesses that need to be acknowledged and dealt with. Either we can try to strengthen those weaknesses or, if that cannot be, we must never put ourselves down for them. In my case, my strengths took over while those skills I did not have, I recognized had to be delegated to someone else. In this manner I continued to learn and do the best I could possibly do for Joe.

Your book is not only a book about caregiving, but a true love story. Please explain the importance of sharing that aspect of your book as part of Joe’s (and your) recovery. 

I do believe most everyone enjoys a good love story, but I did not set out to write that as the mainstay of the book. It evolved, much as our journey evolved. To not share that part of our relationship with others would have been to leave out, I believe, the most uplifting part of our story.

There are so many out there caring for loved ones; spouses, parents, children, friends. The job is difficult, painful and can cause rifts in relationships. I think it is important to show them that, with the right attitude (I’m sorry if that sounds pedantic, and Pollyannaish) feelings of remorse can be turned into a stronger love as, together, caregiver and patient work through their trials - with an attitude of understand and caring.

The quote that stays with us comes from a plaque that hangs on the wall at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston:“You get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple. Take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a stronger person, or allow it to tear you down. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.” 
Joe and I chose to become stronger people – individually and as a couple and a “team.” I’ve since had many people share with me that their caregiver journey has created a stronger loving bond between them and their patient. 
Our love story is real – there was no way I could not share it.

In your email section of the book, your tone is very positive, was there a point where you felt hopeless or angry? How do you handle those kinds of feelings when your closest friend and confidante can’t help you with them?

I made a point of adding something positive to each email I had sent out. I think, retrospectively, I needed to do that to bolster my own torn soul. Of course, I wanted those who cared to find something upbeat in my words. I knew they were with Joe and me in spirit and it needed to share it all – the pain and the positive.


As for me feeling hopeless and angry; of course I did. There were days when I had to leave Joe’s side so I could sit in the caregiver lounge and cry.  Or call a friend and rant. Or – forgive me for this admission – take a handful of Ativan in order to continue on. (On those days I had someone driving me home, or I was staying in Joe’s room overnight).


My closest friends and confidantes were able to help me – I remember sitting in my living room one morning, absolutely shattered and, after texting two extremely close friends, finding them coming to my home to allow me to babble and blubber on; to cry and scream; and they listened and they held me and I was able to pull myself together and get to the hospital.  

But I could not live in the negative and somehow found a way to continue on with hope and optimism. It wasn’t easy. But it was necessary to do so, or I would have not been able to continue caring for Joe. Or myself. 

What are 3 pieces of advice you could give to someone who has just been thrown into the caregiver role?       

Educate yourself about your role: learn about the illness which has struck your loved one; learn about the “cures” and side effects; learn to talk with the medical staff and become a part of their team. Take what I call, a course in Hospital 101. You cannot be a bystander and wear blinders. You’re learning much under fire, but it will help you help your loved one immeasurably.   

Recognize that you must MUST care for yourself. I did not and the result was a woman (me) who was emotionally and physically exhausted, and on the brink of not being capable of caring for Joe in any capacity.  Seek counseling and guidance. Listen to people who tell you to take care of YOU. They are right! 
I love Joseph Campbell’s quote: “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”
The life Joe and I had planned was wonderful for as long as it lasted. Now we live   another life– but still with each other – and we are thankful   for what we once had, and grateful for the life we now have together.
I hear so many caregivers bemoaning the new life that has been handed to them; they want their old life back. But, this, now, is their life. And, as Campbell says, it must be accepted. That is also the Tao – here you are, your path has been altered, find your unique strengths and create a new life.

CJ GOLDEN in her new book, One Pedal at a Time: A Novice Caregiver and Her Cyclist Husband Face Their New Normal with Courage, Tenacity, and Abundant Love (Eronel Publishing, Feb. 2018), recounts her experiences during and after her husband of 25 years suffered numerous cancer-related strokes, and her learning curve as a caregiver. More about CJ at

Follow Cassandra on Instagram.
Connect with Cassandra on Goodreads.
Follow Cassandra on Facebook.
Connect with Cassandra on Twitter.

Discovering the Joys of Being in a Book Club

Heaven and Earth Grocery Store Reading has been a sanctuary for me for as long as I can remember. Being surrounded by books provides unimagi...