Mind & Body by Samantha Nichole

Mind & Body by Samantha Nichole

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My 2013

You'd think I had a boring year since I spent 8 1/2 months of it pregnant, but after thinking about it, I realized that "boring" is the last word I should be using to describe this year.

  • I gained 35 pounds. 
  • I later lost 29 pounds within in two weeks. 
  • I grew a human. 
  • I started a (non-violent and fake) gang at work, and I named myself Virgil. (Inside joke.)
  • I got a henna tattoo that took up my entire stomach. 
  • I went camping twice, 
  • and I caught some people skinny dipping. 
  • I overcame my fear of pit toilets. (Well, almost. I cried while using it.) 
  • I moved with a 2-week old. 
  • I traveled to Tennessee with a 2 month-old, 
  • and I carried her halfway up a mountain. 
  • I bought a weapon at a flea market, 
  • and I also bought my first vehicle this year. 

2013 helped me reveal my true self. It was definitely my favorite year, so cheers to many more!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Postpartum Month 4: Journal for Inspiration & Motivation

On January 4th, 2014 Audrey will be 4 months old. At this point in my 4th trimester, I am feeling a range of emotions. In my journal earlier today, I wrote that I'm feeling "blah," but I'm also feeling "inspired" somehow. Physically, how am I doing? I'm not going to lie--I haven't started exercising at the gym yet, aside from a few step aerobics classes I took recently; however, I'm constantly moving around when picking up Audrey and playing with her, rearranging the house, cleaning, running errands, and teaching dance. 

Audrey and I, last week, when we went out for sushi with friends.

I would certainly love to get back to my normal exercising self, but I don't feel like I'm in any rush to increase the amount of activity I am doing right now. I can't tell if my nonchalant attitude is because I am not ready to increase the intensity of my workouts or if it's because I'm lacking motivation. Either way, I decided to journal for motivation. 

I started by listing my current interests, and I made goals and jotted down notes on how I can reasonably achieve them. I suppose you could say these are my resolutions for the new year. (In your own journal, you can easily do what I did. Use my notes below as your template.)

Here are my current interests. (These interests are things that are impacting my daily life. You can certainly see this if you check out my Pinterest! )
  • Birth
  • Natural Parenting
  • DIY 
  • Health and Wellness
  • Feminism
  • Spirituality
Here is a short list of goals I want to reach during the course of 2014.
  1. Learn to sew (and sew well.) Make prefolds, clothes for Audrey, and Christmas and birthday presents for the next year.
  2. Become a birth doula.
  3. Blog more often. 
  4. Workout, and get back to my pre-baby weight.
Here are the reasonable steps I am going to take to achieve the goals above.
  1. I received a sewing machine for Christmas from my parents. I already have that! Since I haven't sewn in about 7 years, I am going to be taking free classes from a woman in my community. This is a hobby that will be practical for my family, cheap for me to do, and will allow me some alone-time. 
  2. I blogged about this in an earlier post, but I am currently perusing my training options. I will talk more about it once things are official! 
  3. Blogging more often has always been a goal of mine. Now that I am gaining inspiration once more, I think this will really be a possibility in the upcoming year. 
  4. I think this will come with time. I do have a Y membership. The Y is very family-friendly, so I think it's a great facility to help me get motivated. Also, with spring and summer *slowly* approaching, I am going to sign up for some 5K races with a couple good friends of mine. They're short races, but they give me just enough incentive to jog; plus, I have the opportunity to support some great causes. Furthermore, I do have a Groupon I purchased for Aikido. I might not get much of a workout from that, but at least I will get out of the house and moving around!
That's all for now! 
- Samantha Nichole

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Childbirth: My Stance & Goals

Resting in the hospital bed. September 4th, 2013.

I have been researching childbirth in America for two years now. I studied this issue on my own, and I was inspired to be a birth doula while I was working as a captioning assistant. I would caption phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing, and between client calls I read books and wrote in my journal. I’m happy to say that I am finally pursuing my options in becoming a doula!

I must mention that before I started studying childbirth, I was terrified of it. I have always known that I wanted children, but the idea of giving birth frightened me so much that I contemplated not having children at all. I started reading books and watching documentaries that promoted unmedicated birth, and birth outside the hospital, and I immediately became calmer because those resources did not regard childbirth as a scary, unnatural, medical process.

When I became pregnant with Audrey, I made the decision to deliver her medication-free. If you read my earlier blog post, you’ll learn that my plans were changed, but in the end I was surprisingly satisfied with my decision to have an epidural. For me, and for many women I know, the idea of having an unmedicated childbirth was the goal, but it didn't work out that way. After reflecting on my experience I now realize what factors contributed to that outcome. My birth experience reaffirmed what I value the most and what I want to advocate for.

My Stance

Me (Sam) and my henna baby belly!

As women, we need to educate ourselves and stand strong in the decisions we make about our bodies and health. If we want something, we need to be assertive. Major financial burden and unnecessary interventions can be reduced if we stay informed, challenge when we’re wronged, and leave our comfort zone when issues arise. Our bodies were made to give birth, but sometimes emergency situations do arise, and therefore hospitals and modern medicine play an important part. However, we can combat the way our society views birth by becoming informed and taking ownership of our unique spiritual experience.

One of the best things we can do is educate ourselves and take ownership of our labor and birth. We need to communicate with each other about the birthing process, and motherhood, as women used to do. We should compare and share resources while refraining from taking advice at face-value. We must continue trusting our instincts--we have them for a reason! When we are unsure about something, we should question our health care professionals, and we should be comfortable enough with our doctor or midwife to express our deepest concerns.  

Many times in our country, and in others, women are taken advantage of during childbirth. This is a huge women’s rights issue, and is often overlooked. I am not a midwife or medical professional, yet, but I am a mom who took ownership of my pregnancy and childbirth, which is a process I believe to be a natural part of life.

Where Do I Go From Here?

Audrey, December 21st, 2013

After a few years of reflection, I found that women’s rights, birth, and natural motherhood interest me more than anything else. I started acting upon this by doing more research and searching for a reputable doula training program. I even spoke to a career coach, and I made a timeline of the goals I have. When I became pregnant with Audrey, I decided to spend those months enjoying my pregnancy and continue reflecting. I think that was a great decision, and I’m ready to move forward now.

Audrey is a few months old, and we have a daily routine and established breastfeeding. I have the energy to start my training program and take the next steps to fulfill my career and personal goals. I’m thankful to be in the position I am in right now, and I’m glad that my experiences and formal education have helped me get to this point. I have all the tools I need to be successful. I have a loving family, work ethic, determination, and faith in women’s abilities to give birth.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Update on Life

So much has happened since Audrey was born in September. It’s amazing. I am certainly the same person, but I am different. I’m actually calmer; things don’t stress me out as much. I’m not sure if this mindset is healthy or unhealthy for me. I know that I used to stress at the little things, and right now I’m not as affected. It’s liberating, actually.

Physically, I am near my goal weight, and I am successfully exclusively breastfeeding. Yay! I am so thrilled. I have been a breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering mamma, and it has taken me very little effort to do those things.

Audrey and me in Tennessee visiting her great-great grandparents.
I was wearing her in a Moby wrap. The stares were amusing.

With cloth diapering, I only do it around the home since traveling with disposables is easier. Although I want to decrease my carbon footprint, cloth diapers aren’t much better than disposables. (After doing enough research I came to that conclusion. Of course, it’s completely understandable if you disagree with me.) The main reason I cloth diaper is to save cash. Plus, cloth diaper covers come in adorable colors and patterns!

So far parenting hasn’t been easy, but it’s coming very naturally to me. The best advice I have been given by anyone is to trust my instincts. As a woman, I was literally born to do this. Of course, there are things that doctors and the medical world can detect and tell us that we wouldn’t be able to find out ourselves, but overall I trust my instincts.

A big change I have been working through is not working full-time. I specifically decided to work part-time because I believe that’s what is best for my family, and with where I was in my career when I left my full-time job, I felt it was an appropriate move to make. I struggle with booking my calendar to the maximum. Yes, I am a coach. I absolutely love coaching cheerleading and dance, and coaching is something that I will probably be doing for the rest of my life. What I mean is that I love to make commitments and be a part of my community, but I often forget to leave a day (or more) open to relax at home with my family. I am hyperactive. There is no question about that.

Below you’ll find a list of what I have been doing since becoming a part-time working & work-at-home-mom.
  1. Christmas planning! It's awesome how shopping for Christmas presents suddenly became exciting. 
  2. Coaching for Alverno College and assisting Campbellsport High School.
  3. Writing a novella in celebration of NaNoWriMo. That has been taking up so much of my time! 
  4. Baking. I make delicious muffins.
  5. Unpacking my house. (I was 2 weeks postpartum when we moved. That was not fun at all.)
  6. Budgeting, taking care of family finances, meal planning—you know, the fun stuff.
  7. Working part-time for the Alverno College Media Hub in addition to coaching.
  8. Cleaning meticulously. I don’t think my house has ever been this clean. I still make messes.
  9. I have been watching a little bit of daytime television, but I don’t sit down to watch it. I let it play in the background while Audrey was sleeping. One time I watched a soap opera, but I decided to shut it off because it was confusing, and the acting was terrible.
  10. On the topic of daytime TV, a show from a Canadian channel taught me that I’m a visual learner. I pretty much already knew that, but I learned that visual learners tend to be messy. It’s not that I’m unorganized—it’s that my organizational skills are different from the norm. I need to see everything       in front of me, because if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind!
Those are my current updates! I’m working on a post about what I have been doing to combat the postpartum blues and depression.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Audrey's Birth Story & My Rite of Passage

On Sunday, September 1st I was lying in bed and trying to get some rest. It was 10:30 p.m., and I had minimal signs of pre-labor, but I had a feeling something was going to happen soon. I felt my first contraction and tried to fall asleep knowing that something might happen, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. The contractions were different from others I had previously, so I knew right away I was in early labor.

Eventually the contractions became uncomfortable enough that I couldn't relax much between them. I labored throughout the entire next day, which was Labor Day--the day I secretly hoped to give birth because I thought it would be corny and funny. The contractions slowed at about 7:00 p.m., and I feared they would stop completely, but I was very wrong. I didn't want to wear myself out, and I hadn't slept for long the night before, so I decided to go to the store with my husband and get something to take the edge off my discomfort.

Right after getting in the car, my contractions picked up again. I had a contraction in the car, one in the bathroom of Pick ‘n’ Save, and one on the drive home. Once I got home, I checked my e-mail and ate some Skittles. At one point, I was reading something online and I started to get a contraction. I continued eating, but the contractions were becoming difficult to ignore, so I started humming and making a “Mmmm” noise. Brad looked over at me and asked, “Are you moaning because of a contraction or those Skittles?” I genuinely replied, “Both.”

I didn’t sleep at all on Monday night either. My contractions became longer, even stronger, and much closer together. At about 4:00 in my morning they were constantly two minutes apart, and I started to feel a really strange urge to push, which made me a little scared. I told Brad we should go in to the hospital, so we called Sabrina, our doula, and she met us there.

When we got to the hospital, I had to go to triage straight away. We waited patiently while they checked my vitals, looked at the baby’s heart rate, and checked how far dilated I was. I was about 3 to 3 ½ cm dilated, and the reason I felt the urge to push was because I was having back labor. I didn’t think anything of the fact that I felt the majority of the pressure in my back, despite the research I had done earlier. They admitted us, but we only stayed for a little while. I told them I would like to leave and go home until later (in an effort to avoid induction since I wasn’t dilating quickly.)  

The ride home was when the contractions started to become fairly difficult to mentally block. I hadn’t slept since Sunday, and I needed to eat. Brad made me some eggs while I continued to work through some of the surges in the living room, and I ate about half the eggs before I knew I needed to start becoming creative with easing my discomfort. They continued to stay about 3 minutes apart, and at 9:00 a.m. I needed to get to the doctor’s office for an appointment with my midwife anyway. It was certainly another difficult car ride since I hated sitting down with the back labor, and I knew I would have to get through the contractions in public, and I was sure most people panic when they see or hear of a woman in labor. (I think it’s because of Hollywood’s portrayal of childbirth.)

The appointment went fairly well. My midwife cleared me to go home again as I wished. I was starting to become a little fatigued (even though I was able to catch a couple moments of deep relaxation between surges in the early parts of labor.) We stayed at home as long as I could handle to stay. I started vocalizing my discomfort, and I’ll admit that I used profanity a couple times. Mostly just the “S” word, though.  

On Tuesday at 6:00 p.m., I told Brad that it was time to go to the hospital. I had to be so close to ready by this point. We were taken to triage again. The contractions were still two minutes apart, and my favorite laboring position was when I was on my hands and knees. (This was because Audrey was posterior.) They did all the normal tests, but before they were done they agreed to admit me, so I was taken to one of the laboring rooms.

I held on for a little while longer before weighing my options and deciding to get an epidural. I was exhausted, and using medication was my last-resort, but I knew that it would be better to allow myself to sleep and have enough energy to push than to risk other interventions because of fatigue. Although we were told it would take about 40 minutes to get the epidural, it took about two hours. I was antsy at the time, but looking back on it the time actually went by pretty quickly!

After getting the epidural, I was able to rest. They checked my cervix and I still hadn’t made much progress. I agreed to have them break my bag of waters. After breaking my bag, I went to sleep for an hour. When I woke up, I was 10cm dilated and ready to push! Since I had fallen asleep on my left side, my epidural wasn’t very strong on my right side. I was able to feel which helped me with movement and pushing.

My midwife left the lights off as I requested, and my support team used flashlights. I pushed for about 20 minutes, and at 4:29 a.m. I saw Audrey appear. I reached down, grabbed her, and pulled her out and up on my abdomen. Audrey was born at 8 pounds, 5 ounces, and 19 inches long. The first thing my doula said to me was, “Wow, mamma, that is one big baby.” I was speechless for a few moments, but I looked up at Brad and, for whatever reason, the first thing I said was “Her earlobes look great for piercing.”

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Readers with children, will you please take my brief survey? 

I'm in the midst of creating a business with a focus in dance, and one of the first services I'll provide families with is Princess Dance Parties (or simply Dance Parties for boys). I could use your help finding out what your needs are as parents. The survey is only 4 questions! Thank you in advance for your time.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Patiently Waiting: A Journal Entry

I'm now 38 weeks and 4 days, and we're patiently waiting for the arrival of our little one! I had some exciting contractions the last couple nights, but nothing that ended up lasting more than a couple hours. (I'm trying not to get too excited when that happens, but it's hard!) Everything is progressing normally. We are prepared for her to come at any time, but I'm also mentally preparing myself for her to come a little after 41 weeks.

We are also in the midst of finding a new place to live. Preferably somewhere larger and closer to family. We have had luck finding places, but not getting them. Usually what will happen is I will call the second they are posted online only to find out someone else already applied and was approved. It's getting frustrating, especially because after the baby comes I probably won't want to leave our house to check the place out, so my husband will be on his own with that. I have faith in him, but of course I want a say too!

The last week has been a lot of cleaning, organizing, some freaking out, and some working out. Overall it has been great. My migraines subsided since I took maternity leave; the doctor thinks they were partially hormonal and partially stress-induced. I think it also helped that I have been taking my prenatal yoga and strength classes again. We are now waiting to hear about a condo we're interested in, and we should know by Wednesday. Of course, we are battling with another couple on that one too.

Something else I did this week was write down some goals. Since my weight has tapered off for this pregnancy, I decided to estimate my weight after birth and how much I would have to lose to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I know it's not going to be easy, but I'm not your average lady.

I'm actually more interested in toning and firming my body rather than fitting into a certain size pant, shirt, or dress. What's the point in being thin if you're not healthy and strong? Still, I made a goal weight, and it's what I was pre-pregnancy. This workout is very similar to what I did pre-pregnancy and throughout the beginning of my pregnancy. At the moment, I am taking prenatal yoga and strength training classes about 2-3 times per week and walking. I'm hoping to get cleared by my midwife to start this sooner than most women because I had been doing this prior to pregnancy and throughout my first two trimesters before sticking to prenatal-only classes. Feel free to copy and paste this plan to make it your own.

Healthy Moms Make Healthy Babies
(me at 37 weeks)

Goal Weight: 112 lbs (pre-pregnancy weight)
Current Weight: ___ lbs

⭌ Cardio
Jog/Walk 1-3 miles (depending on postpartum recovery) at 6am on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. If there is too much snow, go to the gym and use the track.

⭌ Chest
  • Bench Press or Incline Bench Press
  • Cable or Dumbbell Flyes
  • Push Ups of any kind

⭌ Back
  • Pull Ups (as many as I can do)
  • Bent Over Dumbbell Row
  • Free Hang from Pull Up Bar

⭌ Shoulders
  • Arnold Dumbbell Press (overhead press with weights coming down ½ way)
  • Arm Circles

⭌ Legs
  • Barbell Squat
  • Lunge with Weights on Shoulders
  • Calf Raises
  • Fire Hydrant

⭌ Triceps
  • Close Grip (lie on back with weight, bend at elbows, extend, come back down)
  • Extend Arm Behind / Tricep Extension

⭌ Biceps
  • Curls (palms would face up to sky)
  • Preacher Curl (hands in candlesticks)

⭌ Abs

  • Alternating Sit Ups
  • Side Planks
  • Plank
  • Plank Walk to Push Up

Friday, June 21, 2013

6 Reasons Why Exercise Is As Important As Diet

This morning I read an article by Emma John from The Observer called Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin. It inspired me to write this post this morning. The article did have many valid points, but I wasn't completely sold. As a teenager, I actually did lose weight by exercising without changing my diet, although this wasn't something that I planned. When I lost the weight (about 10 pounds) I was running track, finishing up the end of a dance team season, and taking dance classes after track practice. I ended up burning more calories than I took in, and that lead to weight loss. Every person's body is unique, and therefore it's impossible to claim that nobody can lose weight with exercise alone. However, my point for writing this article isn't to prove or disprove the article I mentioned above! I want to talk about my reasoning for putting exercise on such a high pedestal.

Although it cannot be proven that exercise will result in all people losing weight, there are so many benefits to exercise that make it worth while. With exercise, rather than losing pounds people may lose inches. You'll gain muscle, which weighs more than fat, and your heart, lungs, immune system, and overall general health will thank you. I'm certain that I won't be able to express all my opinions about exercise in this post, so what I'm going to do instead is make a list. With the help of some reliable sources, here are the reasons why I believe exercise is as important as a healthy diet.

  1. Your outlook on wellness may be altered. Health and wellness is something that I have generally always cared about, but it wasn't until I started exercising and researching fitness that I decided to dig deeper into issues about genetically modified foods, our overweight society, and learning about natural remedies to combat everyday illnesses. For me, exercise has opened a door to a healthy lifestyle and a different way of thinking. 
  2. Exercise controls weight. According to Mayo Clinic, "Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss." Although exercise might not directly lead to weight loss for all people, if a person is trying to maintain their weight, exercise can help.
  3. Exercise can help with your overall mental health. I recently read an article from The Huffington Post about the mental health benefits of exercise. The actual article listed 13, but I'll let you know which mental health benefits I can attest to! Reduced Stress: Exercise kept me sane during my tough college years where I was working two jobs, dancing professionally, and taking 16-20 credits per semester. Boost Happy Chemicals: I'm always (and I mean always) in a good mood after I move my body! Improve Self Confidence: Exercise, specifically dancing, has lead me to appreciate how my body looks, what my body can do, and help me to care about my body by opting out of recreational activities that could harm it. Alleviate Anxiety: See "Reduced Stress" above! Sharpen Memory: I would always study after exercising, and I found it easier to stay focused and remember key points. Increase Relaxation: I decided to start practicing yoga for this very reason, and it certainly helps me to relax. Get More Done: I'm always more likely to clean my home if I have exercised earlier. Tap Into Creativity: My best ideas for creative writing have come during or after a workout. Inspire Others: If it weren't for fitness, I wouldn't be inspired to write, so I wouldn't be here trying to inspire you!
  4. If exercise wasn't as important as maintaining a healthy diet, the American Heart Association wouldn't publish a statement saying, "Diabetes patients should have regular exercise, weight training."
  5. Having strong abdominal muscles, commonly achieved through exercise, can help alleviate and prevent back pain. According to the Harvard Health Publication, one of the 5 ways to a pain-free back is by staying fit; specifically, "...stretching and strengthening both your back and abdominal muscles is important not only for treating low back pain, but also for helping to prevent recurrence of the problem." Some of the other suggestions are maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, proper backpack wearing technique, and by developing habits that will ensure that you are performing everyday tasks in the best way to avoid hurting your back.
  6. Studies have shown that people who exercise have a longer life expectancy. According to NBC News (via Reuters), US News (with a focus on seniors), Medical News Today, and a shelf of textbooks and scholarly articles I have collected throughout my research, exercise benefits people in multiple ways, leading to an increased lifespan.  
John did a good job of explaining how exercise may not be the best way to bring down the numbers on your scale, but I certainly wouldn't cancel my gym membership as suggested by the author in the beginning of the post. Exercise has benefits that will help you lead a better life physically and mentally! Both dieting and exercise are important to living a healthy life.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Here's a Post for Some Laughs

Pregnancy has some awful moments, but it also has some really great benefits. Pregnant women don't get their period, and if they do they usually get some spotting; they don't have to shave as often, and their hair and nails grow quickly, and thick too! However, one of my favorite things about being pregnant, aside from feeling my growing baby move around, is dreaming.

Last night I had a dream that I was a famous singer. I walked into my dressing room, and Zooey Deschanel was in there. I said to her, "Hey, look, I don't think we can work together anymore. People are getting us mixed up. We look too alike." She started crying and said, "But, your eyes are totally different from mine!" I replied, "Yeah, I know. It's totally weird, but this isn't going to work." She left the room holding her head in her hands.

I don't know why I had a good singing voice in my dream, and I don't know how I got the power to fire Zooey Deschanel. Also, I don't really look like Zooey Deschanel at all, but in dreams anything is possible. Dreams are so fun!

(Photo Credit: http://bit.ly/18Pwp25)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Decorating Ritual

Have I ever mentioned that I love, love, love decorating? Well, I love it! Although I don't have a house, I like decorating my home, and this year is the first year I have decided to decorate for the 4th of July. I don't have a lot of decorations to offer, so I did some modest decorating on my porch with my plants, vegetables, and some mini American flags. I also added a cute red, white, and blue bow to my front door, but you can't see that in the picture below.

(Fun fact: When it's not snowing, this space is one of my favorite spaces to read, write, and reflect.)

I consider decorating to be a ritual that prepares for something exciting to come. That something can be anything; that something can be a holiday, a loved one's birthday, honoring a couple, father, mother, or welcoming a new person into the world. (Decorating a nursery!) I believe that half the fun in celebrating the thing that is to come is preparing for it by taking the time and initiative to honor it.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I'm Sharing My Book List!

I have read a lot of books, but most of the books I have read did not make it onto this list. I like to read a lot of fantasy, paranormal romance, and some science fiction, but most of all I read a lot of non-fiction books. I decided to make a list of books that are recommended reads, books that I have read, and books that I want to read using the BBC's The Big Read: Top 100 (I used 50) Books and The Rory Gilmore Book List. Rory's list is a compilation of all the books Rory mentions reading throughout the show Gilmore Girls.

Bolded books are books I have read, italicized books are those that I have only seen the movie for, bold-italicized are those that I have seen both the movie and read the book, and underlined books are ones I'm putting on my reading list! Of course, I have another reading list that I'm currently getting through and making good progress with. I'll share that one later; they are wellness books, so I'm very excited.
The BBC's The Big Read: Top 50 Books

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

Rory's List (Duplicates will be deleted. Sorry if I miss any.)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Daisy Miller by Henry James
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
The Da Vinci -Code by Dan Brown
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer (I read The Odyssey)
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsro by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Fever by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

What about you? How does your list compare? What kind of books do you normally read? Please, share book recommendations and your opinions on these lists.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Changes: Regardless of What Kim & Kate Pick, I Was First

Over the past year I have been in a constant state of self-discovery, not to mention the fact that I've been dealing with writer's block from every angle! My journaling practices, leisurely blogging, and creative writing have suffered. It has been this way since last spring right after I wrote the piece Racing the Rain & Why I Love Biking. In any case, this post isn't about the writer's block I have been experiencing! I want to talk about my life path and some major life changes that are happening.

My lifestyle is low-key these days. I'm still very active, and insanely busy, but I have slowed down in other ways. I have been working in the same full-time position since last May, and I have been making healthier food choices, special thanks to a few allergic reactions I had from food packaging plastics. Eek! I'm continuing to teach and coach dance teams, and I still find time at least twice a week--but usually more--to do strength training, practice yoga, and walk outside.

The biggest thing that has changed since my last post is that I'm expecting! Yep, that's right. I'm due this coming August, actually, with a baby girl (so we're told) who we're going to name Audrey. I wanted to put her name out there just in case Kim Kardashian or Kate Middleton choose that name. I had it first! Before finding out the news, I had been researching birth, parenting, pregnancy, and natural and simple living. After months of research and careful consideration, I was inspired to become a birth doula, so I interviewed and filled out my application with Mothering the Mother, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides doula services and educational courses to expecting mothers and mothers during the postpartum period. The day after I finished the application was Christmas Eve. I hadn't sent out the application, but I felt different. I decided to take a pregnancy test, and it came out positive. I was only four weeks along at that point, and I wasn't experiencing any symptoms that would make me think of pregnancy, but I had a hunch.

Here are some pictures of my growing belly!

The picture above is at 26 weeks.
 You can also follow me on Instagram at Heck_Sam

Writing this post has been on my mind for several months now. I wasn't sure if I wanted to publicly talk about how my pregnancy is progressing, how I am staying active, or any of that other information. Normally I would have been ecstatic to post about healthy pregnancy tips, but there is something very personal about this experience. I'm not sure if it was the fear of something going wrong, the fear of being a new and inexperienced mother, or all of it!

This life change has inspired me in a lot of positive ways. I'm glad that my passion for wellness and natural living has become even more prevalent in my life! Now, more than ever, I know that I'm meant to help people achieve balance in their lives, not only for themselves but for their family as well. I have escaped the writer's block I have been experiencing for the past year, and I'm looking forward to providing this blog and my readers with wellness tips, tricks, and general articles. I'm sure there will be more information on family living, cleaning, and eco-friendliness, in addition to other health and wellness posts!

Until next time,

- Samantha

Sunday, February 24, 2013


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