Book Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Well, happy January everyone! Can you believe we’re almost a month past Christmas? I can’t. I keep watching DVR’d shows with Christmas commercials and feeling sad about the whole situation we now find ourselves in. I’m going to blame my nostalgia on the fact that I’m still recovering from the PLAGUE sickness that has haunted me since the middle of December. #blech

(Side note: did you know that if you are sick for a long period of time, everyone in your life suddenly becomes a doctor? And it’s amazing. NOT.)

Ahem. Moving on because, apparently, time is going to whether I want it to or not…

BIG MAGICOur book club pick for this month was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I, of course, was drawn in by the subtitle. After all, who needs creative living beyond fear more than me? (Don’t answer that. I may be self-aware, but I already have a complex.)

I was excited to pick this book up, because:

(A) The cover. Yes, please.

(B) The promise of inspiration.

(C) Seeing the book everywhere. No, really. I’m serious.

A quick summary from Goodreads for you:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity.

With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.

Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Now, I should say that this is my first Elizabeth Gilbert book, so I have not been “drawing inspiration and empowerment from her for years”. In fact, what I know about her mega-bestseller Eat, Pray, Love did not endear her to me in any way*. But the subject matter of creativity did pull me in. I wanted to feel inspired. I wanted an author to put words to feelings I have that I don’t know how to express and put it in a context that would propel me forward with new zeal. I wanted to discover fresh approaches to every day problems like feeling restless or just plain tapped out.

I finished the book yesterday for our discussion today (no time like the present, amiright??) and realized that the reading experience with this book was a bit different for me. I usually have one of three responses to a book: I really dislike the book and can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would read it, much less love it; I read a book that I don’t love, but can see its virtues and don’t consider the time reading it to be a waste at all; I fall head-over-heels for a book and cannot recommend it fast or vehemently enough…to the point where people start avoiding me because I’m that girl. #marketing

This book is a departure from any of those responses. Here’s the truth: The entire time I was reading it, I felt as though I was reading a book that was not written for me. Although Elizabeth Gilbert and/or her publicist might disagree with me, I don’t think that this book is meant to be a widely appealing, accessible read. I think it was written for a niche audience that desperately needs a shot in the arm. She wrote it to bolster the artist…people who create beauty from nothing and who want to be validated in their passions. She wrote it to encourage these readers to continue to dream and not to give up their art even against the harsh backdrop and challenges of real life in the world we occupy.

And here’s what I learned. I am not an artist. I have creativity within me, sure, but it’s more of a logical creativity. Even my craft projects are essentially problem solving (I have all of these tools/materials and I want to make it look like such-and-such). I do not live (nor do I like living) in a world of intangibles and ethereal concepts. I DO like lists and structure. This probably also explains why I enjoy baking more than cooking. Also, I do not have a dream in my heart. I have goals and I’m always working towards something, but I think there’s a subtle difference between the two. Maybe this makes me a deficient human being but this is what we’re dealing with, folks.

I didn’t hate the book – in fact, there were a few things I took away from it…concepts that transcend or can be applied more broadly if interpreted into a different context. Here are a few of those:

“…when I refer to ‘creative living’ I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” – (From An Amplified Existence, p. 9)

“As the saying goes: ‘Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them.'” (From Defending Your Weakness, p. 18)

“Bravery means doing something scary. Fearlessness means not even understanding what the word scary means.” (From The Fear You Need and the Fear You Don’t, p. 22)

“She smiled sweetly at everyone and always acted like a total cooperator–but then she shaped her own world exactly to her liking while nobody was looking.” (From Remove the Suggestion Box, p. 85)

“Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.” (From Originality vs. Authenticity, p. 98)

“You do what you can do, as competently as possible within a reasonable time frame, and then you let it go.” (From Done Is Better Than Good, p. 176-177)

“Onward ever, backward never.” (From Elk Talk, p. 191)

I’d definitely recommend this for the artist friends in my life – I think they’d find a lot of belonging in its pages. Since I’m not one of them, I’m thankful to have gleaned what I did while reading it. I just wish it had fulfilled what I wanted from the book when I picked it up, that’s all.



*I just don’t think Elizabeth Gilbert and I would be friends. She’d think me terribly prudish for sticking to my principles. At one point in the book, she talks about how she takes her vow of writing more seriously than her vow of marriage. I just can’t get down with that. #sorrynotsorry



I Heart Gilmore Girls

So, this is the last post of NaBloPoMo [insert one lonely tear traveling down my cheek]. Congratulations, everyone! We made it! Thanks for sticking with me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. You all are the best readers ever.

Now, when I created the now-famous blog topic calendar for the month of November, my first topic on the list was for tonight…a subject near and dear to my heart. That’s right. I’m talking about Gilmore Girls.

If you don’t know what Gilmore Girls is and we’re still friends…well…I can’t imagine that both of those things could be true at the same time.

When I was first introduced to Lorelei and Rory, I was fresh out of college and finding my way. That time in my life had a lot of firsts. First time to boil silverware bought at a garage sale. First time realizing that you’ve gone your whole life taking the fact that you live in a furnished home for granted. First time a roommate decides that a lease doesn’t mean she needs to live there until the end of it. First time that a different roommate moves her foreign-speaking mother into her room, fixes all their meals in said room, and rips you off two months rent and several months of utility payments. First time to discover Justin Timberlake as a solo artist (ah, Senorita…it seems like just yesterday). You know. The normal.🙂

The Gilmore girls offered me a little respite from learning how to adult in my new, crazy life. They beckoned me into the charming world of Stars Hollow where Kirk held every job in town and reading was cool and hanging out with your mom was even cooler.

I’ve now watched those seasons more times than I can count (I’m serious. I could go toe-to-toe with anyone in a heated trivia battle of the minds.) and I have thoughts. I know for a fact that people vehemently oppose some of these thoughts because I’m a part of a closed Facebook group wholly dedicated to All Things Gilmore.* Nevertheless, this is my chance to make my voice known as the expert that I am on these matters. Especially because it was recently announced that Netflix will partner with the show’s creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, to produce four 90-minute mini-movies that show us where Lorelei and Rory are today. Huzzah!

And here we go. [If you’ve never watched the show and you’d like to avoid spoilers, you should probably avert your eyes right about now.)

Lorelei belongs with Christopher.  Throughout the show, Lorelei had many suitors. Max Medina (Scott Cohen). Alex Lesman (Billy Burke). Jason Stiles. Luke Danes (Scott Patterson). A reluctant Beau Bellville (Nick Offerman). But none really compare to her high school love and Rory’s biological father, Christopher.

I know that Christopher was flawed. He was fairly absent parent during Rory’s growing up and had a series of failed businesses/careers. There’s no doubt about it, he left the heavy lifting of Rory’s childhood to Lorelai and that’s not a great attribute in a person. But I can’t find it in myself to dislike him because, well, Lorelai doesn’t. At one point when he’s moved on to a relationship that’s serious, Lorelai tells him “You’ve always been a wonderful possibility for me.” And if Lorelai, the one that has been the wronged one in this whole situation, can hold him in the back of her mind for so long, who am I to hold a grudge?

Christopher gets her. He knows the good and the bad. He can keep up with her pace and wit and dish it back. He views her as an equal. He loves her deeply.  And he always sees his future with her. There’s chemistry with these two. In contrast, other than the kiss at the end of season 4/beginning of season 5 that started the Lukalei relationship, there’s very little on-screen chemistry with Luke and Lorelai of them. Luke is always the curmudgeon holding her back. Not that I hate Luke! I do not. His selfless gestures were enough to win me over initially. But over multiple viewings, I definitely stand with my current opinion.


Also, the way that the Christopher and Lorelai relationship happens in the last seasons is complete crap. Amy Sherman-Palladino would have never written that if she were still at the helm of the show then.

Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) is the best character on the show. She is just the most relatable best friend that a girl could have. She’s loyal, she tells the truth, she’s loveably accident prone, and she’s a chef. What more could you ask for? I heart her so much that I just can’t stand most of the characters Melissa plays now. Sookie is my hero. SOOKIE FOR PRESIDENT! Actually, that might be a bad idea…


Logan is the best choice for Rory. Unlike Rory’s previous two long-term boyfriends who started out great and rapidly devolved into weirdness, Logan (Matt Czuchry) started as out as a playa’ but grew leaps and bounds while they were together. Not only was he sophisticated and well-read, but he also pushed her to try new things, take on new adventures, and championed her goals and aspirations. He had baggage and made some poor choices, let’s keep it real, but he really came into his own at the end there. Plus, the whole thing was kind of a Cinderella story. Bad boy meets good girl. Good girl is worth him changing his ways.

If we had never had Logan, we would have never met Colin and Finn. And that is a sad thought indeed.


I’ve had a lot of discussions with my friend and fellow Gilmore Girls fan, Jessica, who is strictly in the #TeamJess camp and I do think that I’d be okay if they bring Jess 2.0 (aka Philadelphia Jess) back in the upcoming episodes as an option for Rory.

There is no Mr. Kim. I mean, I know there was at one time or Rory’s best friend Lane would not exist. They reference him in passing all the way into season 2 but then abruptly never mention him again, not even to explain where the heck he went…? That’s just irritating.

Let’s talk Hep Alien. First, the loss of Dave Rygalski (Adam Brody) to college was the saddest thing ever. He was perfect for Lane in every way and his attempt to be accepted by Mrs. Kim by reading the Bible cover to cover in one night was literally the most adorable thing ever. But when Dave left (aka Adam joined the cast of The O.C.), Lane’s love interest eventually fell on the dim-witted and completely irritating Zack Van Gerbig and that was WAY below Lane. She deserved better.


If I could watch a spin-off show about Michel Gerard, I totally would. Snark, party of one! And bring in a little Tobin for some conflict? Sold!


I’m sure there’s more.** But I think I’ve let a little too much of my crazy peek out tonight as it is. So I shall bid you good night and good luck!

Because tomorrow is December.



*I know I sound like a complete lunatic, but I promise that I’m not. Think of it as Comic-Con for reading geeks, okay?

**Like the fact that the April Nardini twist was the worst thing EVER EVER.

Sunday, Sunday

Happy November 29th, dear blog readers!

On my fancy dancy blogging topic calendar (and we should use the term “calendar” loosely), I’ve mostly reserved Sundays for some deeper thoughts. You know, the kind that can’t be ripped from the headlines of Entertainment Weekly. Those kinds of thoughts. But tonight I just can’t quite make myself think too hard.

Today I cried a lot. Before you get concerned about me, you should know that I was operating on not a lot of sleep and a LOT of caffeine. Some tears were shed this morning at church – I’m profoundly grateful for my pastor’s heart to address local and global happenings from a Biblical perspective. Pastor Thomas today said something along the lines of “I remembered that refuge shouldn’t be in a place, it should be in a Person.” And after the shooting in Colorado Springs, that’s exactly the right place to guide our hearts and minds…back to truth. We heard from a former refugee that works with a local ministry helping new refugees transition into a new culture. And we spent a large amount of time in guided prayer for those in our city that are hurting. And none of that was on the docket until after the events of Friday. The Holy Spirit is really something, isn’t He?

And then there were some tears shed for not-as-noble of purposes…

I came home to research a few Christmas gift ideas and donned my festive fleece pants to snuggle up on the couch with my laptop. But when I opened my laptop, I had the gray (grey?) screen of death telling me I needed to take steps to restore my computer with a back-up.

And all of a sudden it came rushing back—my former computer crashed last summer and I wisely invested in a back-up hard drive. And there it not-so-wisely sat in its plastic packaging ever since it was purchased. By some small miracle, I restarted my computer and it rebooted correctly. I’ve never been so happy to see my background photo pop up.

In the relief aftermath of my panic, I dusted off and tore open my shiny new external hard drive and transferred over all my files for an hour or so. But why stop there? If you give a Haddock a project…

I felt compelled, then, to email myself photos from the many MANY text messages from my family with pictures and videos of the adorable nieces (see picture below as proof) so that I can free some much-needed space for my upcoming Christmas playlist on my phone. And that took me pretty much through the afternoon.


Which brings me to the not-so-noble tears and how I found myself catching up on DVR’d episodes of Ellen. I started them mainly to keep me company in the background, but darn that Ellen, she drew me in with cars given to families in need, Bieber week, and the general give-back spirit for which Oprah was also famous.

(Also, Justin Bieber has a voice like buttah. I may not agree with all his life choices, but the kid can sing. And I’m a teensy bit envious of his hair, too. I’m just saying.)

And that explains the several kleenex that was needed to get me through the afternoon and brought flashbacks of watching episodes of Parenthood.

I think I’ll be fine with a little sleep. But I’d be even finer if the world wasn’t such a broken place and if I wasn’t such a crazy person.



P.S. NaBloPoMo is coming to a close and every year I talk about how I’m going to blog more after it ends. This year I really want to….especially as it relates to bookish posts…but it will just depend.

If you’re interested in KIT (that’s Keeping In Touch in yearbook speak), even if sporadically (Clueless shout-out!), I added a “sign up to receive my blog as an email” button. Actually, I think it’s much more succinct, but you get the drift. I’ll post on the Facebooks as always, but you never know – the algorithm might have shifted to only prioritize posts from people with the same first letter in their name as your own. Facebook rules the world in that way. So, no pressure. But there’s an option for you if you want it!

See you all tomorrow.🙂

My Day in Pros and Cons

I know a lot of you might think that I stole this from Jimmy Fallon, but I was doing it long before I knew that he did. Seriously. Also, not to be a stickler, but Jimmy’s Pros and Cons are not always really pros and cons. They’re more like funny statements. Which, you know, is acceptable for a Tonight Show host. Anyhow. I’ve gotten off topic already.

I just got home from the airport (thanks for picking me up, Allison!) and I feel a little all over the map. First of all, I have to unpack eventually which is my least favorite part of traveling. And second of all, I have an early morning so I gotta get myself to bed in the near future. So, there are those things. But downloading my day with you, dear blog reading friends? Priceless.

Pro: Sleeping in. The epitome of a vacation! And my last chance to do so before Monday morning work begins, since I have an early morning call time for sound team at church. Plus, having your mom wake you up instead of an alarm is an infinitely better way to start the day.

Con: Morning, no matter how late it started for me, marked the end of a lovely week with the people I love. A LOT.


Pro: Flying on Southwest means that my bags got to fly free. Also, they have new machines in the Houston airport where you can attach your luggage label-thing yourself, cutting down on standing-in-line time.

Con: I did not go to enough college to figure out how to properly adhere it. I literally stood at the kiosk staring at the instructions on the back and attempting to detach a section of the thing that was not meant to be detached (Oh, you pull UP on the buckle! I was attempting to rip the fabric part…I thought if I could just get it started.*). I offered my bag with to the attendant who was in charge of throwing it on the conveyer belt somewhat sheepishly and looking for approval. Who knew the check-in process could be so humbling?


Pro: Since I had a good boarding position, I could pretty much choose my seat.

Con: Other people with questionable social awareness and varying levels of cleanliness could also choose their seat. For my part I avoided the loud-talking networkers behind me (“Oh, my daughter just graduated from that school. What line of work did you say you are in? Let me get you my business card.”) and also the weird guy that is likely either an engineer or works in IT that was burping up a storm and wearing his t-shirt on his head as a sort of headdress. Additionally, I successfully side-stepped the five person family complete with a pre-teen that responded to everything his mother said with an “I know, Mom!” accompanied by the ever-popular eye roll. (That move doesn’t look as cool as you think it does, guy.)**


Pro: Using my two hour flying time to catch up on Entertainment Weekly magazines. Guys, they are NOT KIDDING about that weekly thing. The thing comes every.single.week.without fail!

Con: That feeling of trust that disappears as we are beginning the take-off process. I believe in engineering and aerodynamics, but the whole thing freaks me out a little more than I would like.


Pro: Coming home. Sleeping in my own bed. Getting back to my routine.

Con: Knowing that a tragic shooting happened in my hometown again and feeling so deeply grieved by the subsequent arguments from all sides of the country in making sense of it all. I know everyone is working through it in their own way and I also know that most people are well-intentioned. But name calling, blame shifting, and using this tragedy to promote any agenda at all is just wrong. Praying for those hurting tonight in my city and for peace to be restored to our streets.


In short, everything today was a little bittersweet. But tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet. And God promises new mercies every morning.

If only the morning didn’t have to come so early…



*Quoted from Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up routine “I’m Telling You for the Last Time”. If you haven’t heard it, you must do so posthaste. For realz.

**I ended up sitting next to a lovely older couple who did not judge me for reading the Summer Movie Preview issue of EW at the end of November.





Clump-a-cookie…and Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

On a day rife with culinary perfection (turkey! stuffing! mashed potatoes! pumpkin pie (yuck, but who can argue with tradition?)!), I thought I’d share a brief but fond memory from the Haddock archives.

First, it should be known that I was a baker from a young age. Nothing went with Sunday football quite like chocolate chip cookies and I was often the one that mixed them up. When I was nine or ten, I did what I had done many times before. But when the cookies came out of the oven, they had spread, taking up the entire baking sheet.

I was quite upset (I was young, you see, and not as in control of my emotions as I am now. It’s terrifying to imagine, isn’t it?) and Mom tried to figure out what went wrong. After a few minutes of questioning, she discovered the culprit. Not only had I left out the salt and baking soda, I had also left out about half of the flour.

I’m not sure if it was an attempt to make me feel better by not chucking the cookies in the trash can or if it was my Mom’s steel will to not waste anything, but we scraped the cookies off and piled them on a plate.

That’s how these cookies became known as the “clump-a-cookie”, christened by my loving father.

May your desserts be in a clump-less form and your turkey comas be restful!



Why Not Me?: A Book Review

Like the rest of the world, I was introduced to Mindy Kaling through her character Kelly Kapoor on The Office. I have to admit, my focus was mostly on Jim and Pam’s interactions and Jim’s pranks on Dwight…so much so that I missed a lot of her brilliance. Until, of course, The Mindy Project happened*. And then I got her first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) on audiobook from the free book list at work.

whynotIn each phase of knowing her, I’ve appreciated Mindy more and more. I think it’s because she’s not as aloof as some other actresses. Actually, she’s kind of the funny and more appropriate Jennifer Lawrence, when you think about it. Mindy sees the world, operates successfully within it, and has her own voice about it all – the voice of someone who could be your BFF if you lived in the same area and were, you know, famous. Or knew someone that was.

In her newest book, Mindy says that I’m not the only one that feels this way about her. She says people often say they wish she was their best friend…and she says people don’t know what they’re asking for. Apparently, her real best friends don’t feel as warm and fuzzy about her, but I find that hard to believe.

As I mentioned, this year is kind of the year of the humor books for me. So far, this one is my favorite. The first book was more of a story arch of her whole life – this book is much more reflective and focuses on topics as well as personal anecdotes about specific aspects of her life, but the humor is still queen.

I read this on an airplane coming back from Nashville and it was delightful. Unlike some of the books I’ve been reading lately that require #allthebrainpower, this one was a fun and frivolous read that kept me entertained from cover to cover. Sure, it seemed like there was a bit more filler than was in Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, but I was okay with that.

Mindy tells it to us straight – all women in the television business wear hair extensions, friendships in Hollywood can be terribly shallow, and yes…despite what actors say, the kissing scenes are fun to do. She’s our backstage pass into a world that most of us don’t live in and she doesn’t take that duty lightly.

Mindy is fun, of that there is no doubt! But she’s also incredibly insightful and perceptive. Alongside the pop cultural references lie some amazing gems of thought that really stuck with me. She talks about how fame has changed her because she realizes that she’s blessed and wants to act like a better person in the public eye. She talks about as a women in a man’s world, how confidence is absolutely necessary and being entitled after you’ve worked hard is not a bad thing (you can read that chapter excerpt here). And then she throws in a humorous anecdote about Bradley Cooper, just to keep you on your toes.

Why Not Me? was definitely one of my favorite books of the year, if for no other reason than I got a little insight in to the weird relationship that she and B.J. Novak have.🙂

If you’re looking for a light read, I’d recommend it!*



*For awareness, there’s some language and content throughout the book (and the excerpt) that might be troublesome for sensitive readers.