Posts Tagged Books

Maybe Adversity Isn’t So Bad After All

I’m reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s an excellent book about what really makes people successful (it isn’t what you think).

He tells the story of Jewish lawyers in New York in the 1950s.

Basically, if you were a graduate from a law school and you weren’t a WASP (white Anglo Saxon Protestant), you weren’t going to get hired by the exclusive New York firms. It didn’t matter how smart you were or where you went to law school, a Jew would NOT get hired.

So what was a Jewish lawyer to do? They started their own firms and did the work that was beneath the “white shoe” law firms — namely litigation and hostile corporate takeovers. These two types of law were far too adversarial for the genteel white shoe law firms.

Gladwell tells the story of one lawyer in particular, Joe Flom, who graduated at the top of his Harvard Law School class, practically without studying. He was interviewed by the most exclusive law firm in New York which told him, honestly, they were just meeting him on a lark. There was no way someone with his “antecedents” would be hired at their firm. Seriously, “antecedents” was the word they used.

Joe met up with four other Jewish lawyers who were starting their own firm. It was a huge risk because they had nary a client among them.

Joe joined them and became an expert in hostile takeovers. If you wanted to take over a corporation and you had the money for the best in the business, you hired Flom.   He didn’t care if such adversarial work was “beneath him”.  He had drive and desire and didn’t care what it took to succeed.

Fast forward 20 years. Suddenly, attorneys who did hostile takeovers were no longer looked down upon. In fact, they were in high demand. The white shoe law firms tried to jump on the bandwagon, but it was too late. Flom, and attorneys like him, alread had the experience and the reputation for being the best. The old school attorneys couldn’t catch up. Nowadays, Flom’s firm employs almost 2,000 attorneys in 23 offices around the world and earns well over $1 billion a year.

Gladwell writes, “[Flom] didn’t triumph over adversity. Instead, what started out as adversity ended up being an opportunity.”

Those words resonated in my head and heart and spirit last night. I’ve been discouraged and depressed because of my seemingly intolerable circumstances. What I needed to remember is that God often disguises our greatest opportunities as insurmountable problems. Of course, I knew that, but knowing something in your head and knowing in your spirit are two different things. I guess my spirit needed to be reminded!

Have a great weekend. Another book giveaway starts next week. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions has anything to do with diet, exercise and weight loss, you won’t want to miss Monday’s review.


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Book Giveaway Winners!

only-nuns-cover2Congratulations to Trudi of Foley, Alabama, and Karin of Tenstrike, Minnesota, the winners of the Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight book giveaway. 

Only two people told me their New Year’s resolutions:

  • Physical exercise!!   Spiritual – write in my prayer journal at least a couple of times a week.  Emotional- Stay in contact with my extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins).
  • Looking for an opportunity in every difficulty!

Thanks to everyone who entered.  Keep watching over the next couple of weeks for more book reviews and giveaways. 

I’ll share with you my resolutions/areas for improvement next week!

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Book Review and Giveaway: Real Help for Your New Year’s Resolutions

only-nuns-coverKaren Scalf Linamen says she writes humor and self-help – together, not separately. To really understand that description, you have to read one of her books. Luckily, I recently got the chance to do just that.

In light of the quickly approaching New Year and our propensity for resolutions, this week’s book review features Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen. Her advice is sound, but her delivery is hilarious. Check out some of these chapter titles:

Does the Name Pavlov Ring a Bell?

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Skydiving Is Not for You.

The Next Time You Come to the End of Your Rope, Start Flapping Your Arms

Very Funny, Scotty. Now Beam Up My Clothes

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins at the Fuel Pump

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight will give you advice on how to make ANY change you desire. It doesn’t matter if your desired change is simple (stop losing my car keys) or difficult (learn how to manage my temper), short term (organize my spice cabinet) or long term (lose 75 pounds). This book will help you identify the areas of your life you want to improve, set specific goals, motivate you to get started and encourage you to persist until you’re successful. Karen gives the reader 52 tips, detailed instructions, examples, and anecdotal stories funny enough to make you wet yourself as you nod and think, “Yep, I’ve done that!” Of course, just as many times you’ll say to yourself, “At least I’m not that bad!”

If you desire to make any lasting change in your life, Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight is the book you need to truly believe, “Yes, I can!”

GIVEAWAY: I have two copies of this book to give away. To enter the random drawing for a free copy of Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen, please e-mail your name and mailing address to  I’ll double your chances to win if you tell me your #1 New Year’s Resolution — the one thing you really WANT to change; I’ll post the answers I receive anonymously.  The drawing will take place this Friday, January 2, 2009. Good luck!

If you don’t win, you can purchase this book on and other favorite booksellers.

Here is the book summary from the publisher and information about the author:

Every woman longs for change in some area of her life. Unfortunately, fear, fatigue, adversity, heartbreak, past failures, and even the choices of other people get in the way and make lasting change seem out of reach. Having been there herself, Karen Linamen knows exactly how to take readers from where they are to where they want to be.
In Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, she examines 52 powerful actions readers can apply to any change they long to embrace. Her insights apply to career, finances, personal health and fitness, relationships, faith—in fact, every facet of a woman’s life.
Blending laugh-out-loud humor and sage advice, Linamen shows readers the link between dissatisfaction and transformation, how to remodel habits, the little-known truth about procrastination, how to generate the energy they need to pursue the life they desire, how to benefit from options and resources they never dreamed they had, and much, much more!
only-nuns-authorAuthor Bio: Karen Scalf Linamen is a popular speaker and the celebrated author of ten books for women, including Due to Rising Energy Costs the Light at the End of the Tunnel Has Been Turned Off and Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt. She has been featured on more than one hundred radio programs, including FamilyLife Today. Publishers Weekly describes her as “funny, forthright and unforgettable.” Linamen lives with her family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Visit her website at

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Winners of This Week’s Book Giveaway

living_rich1 Congratulations to our three winners of Ellie Kay’s new book, Living Rich for Less: Stephanie from West Allis, Wisconsin; Elaine from Orange Beach, Alabama; and Kelly Blackwell from Prescott, Arizona.

I have several more book giveaways in the next couple of weeks so please check back often. Book reviews are on Mondays and drawings are on Fridays. My rambling thoughts are on days in between. My next book giveaway starts December 29th and will be a great book to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions.

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Life with Authenticity

As I’ve explained many times in the past, I read a wide range of books and other matierials.  Recently I was reading a great book written by a woman who’s search for spiritual meaning centers around Hinduism.  The book is called Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  This is a wildly entertaining book with a lot of life wisdom as well.  I love the writer’s “voice” — she’s hilarious!  I highly recommend it.  

In any case, she’s quoting from the Bhagavad Gita — an ancient Indian Yogic text, which says, It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.

That line really struck me, especially lately.  I’m struggling with a number of issues including who I am and who I want to be.   I’ll share my journey with you after I process some of it myself — it’s just too raw right now.   Since I don’t have any wisdom on this topic, I thought I’d at least leave you with someone else’s wisdom!

GIVEAWAY:  Remember to enter this week’s drawing for a free copy of Living Rich for Less by Ellie Kay. Please e-mail your name and mailing address to to be entered in the random drawing this Friday, December 19th. Good luck!

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Cores, Anyone?

1194986121678838258apple_core_01_svg_med Okay, at long last, here are some stories about my dad’s life during the Great Depression.

One of the earliest memories I have is watching my dad eat an apple. Dad always ate the whole apple – including the core and seeds. The only thing left was the stem. When I asked him why he ate the core, he told me during the Depression, his family was lucky enough to have apples almost all the time. When Dad would eat an apple at school, in his yard or on the street, a kid would always yell, “Core!” This was the way to get “dibs” on the core after Dad was done eating the flesh of the apple. After the Depression was over, no one yelled “Core!” Dad said he didn’t know what to do with it (the thought of throwing it away didn’t occur to him since neighborhood kids used to “fight” for the apple cores) so Dad started eating it himself. Contrary to popular belief, eating apple seeds will not cause an apple tree to sprout out your bellybutton.

When I was growing up, we had pot roast almost every Sunday. When I was seven years old, Dad told me when he was a kid, sometimes his mother would give him a piece of fat and gristle s which he could chew like gum since, obviously, he didn’t have money for gum. Perhaps this is where the phrase “chewing the fat” came from. Since I loved gum (still do!), I asked if I could chew the fat the next day. Monday morning I went to school with my piece of beef fat in my mouth (the future vegan in me said “Ewww!” while the seven year old version of me felt closer to my dad). I still remember the teacher calling me on the carpet for chewing gum in class. I took such pleasure in telling her I wasn’t chewing gum and trying to explain away her confused look as to WHY I was chewing a piece of beef fat. My poor second grade teacher was only in her 20s and didn’t know the first thing about the Great Depression. She ended up calling my parents to check out my story and then invited me to earn extra credit by giving a report on “the way things were” back then.

My dad got his first job when he was four years old. He set up pins at the bowling alley. When he was five, he started hauling pieces of scrap metal or old tires over a mile to get paid by the salvage yard. Sometimes he was paid better than his father who worked for the telephone company. Dad would collect glass soda bottles to be refilled in order to get a free bottle of soda and sometimes he got enough money to go to the nickle movie, too. My father always was a saver and, in fact, retired at the age of 40 because following college, he always saved half of his income and invested it.

Dad didn’t balk at investing in the stock market. In fact, in the ‘80s following Black Tuesday, I asked Dad how much money he lost that day. I was stunned at the figure. He gave me a great piece of advice, “The stock market is just like gambling, except that you have a chance to win at the stock market. Never gamble more than you can afford to lose, and never think of it as ‘your money’ – it’s money only in theory until you sell the stock.” Dad also strongly believed in investing money long term. I remember once his broker from Merrill Lynch called our house. She was taking over my dad’s portfolio after his previous broker retired (after an amazingly long career since most brokers burn out in less than 10 years). I was in high school and took the call because my dad wasn’t at home. The broker told me my dad was amazing with his discipline and knowledge in investing. She saw in his history how he would frequently build up his investments, cash them in (for a house, car, medical expenses) and then build them up again. This was especially impressive since his only “education” in the stock market was that he read Forbes magazine from cover to cover.

When I was 10 years old, I got my first bicycle. When I learned my parents didn’t intend to buy me training wheels, we locked in a battle of wills. It’s hard to say who won – I never got training wheels, but I also never got on the bike. In any case, when I first got the bike, Dad asked if he could ride it. Down the driveway he went – he rode like his blood alcohol content was ten times the legal limit! When I laughed at him and asked him what was wrong, he told me – with tears running down his face – that it was the FIRST time he’d EVER been on a bike. Dad was 52 at the time. When he was a kid, he constantly saved for a bicycle. But every time he got close, his mother would “borrow” money for groceries and Dad never had enough in savings at any one time to buy a bike.

My dad would always tell you how lucky he was during the Great Depression. His father was never out of work. He had several uncles living with them so everyone could pool their resources and make ends meet. You already know his family often had apples and frequently had a small piece of meat for soup or stew. Dad frequently ate at his friends’ houses where he dined on things like lard sandwiches or ketchup in water for “tomato soup”, reminding him how fortunate he was. I was always struck by the fact that his friends’ parents invited him to join them for lunch or dinner when they didn’t have enough themselves.

I know financial times are tough, but we are nowhere near another Great Depression. We need to learn to be grateful for what we have and practice the money management lessons from those times: live below your means, save, don’t waste (metaphorically eat your apple cores), invest and don’t panic as the market goes up and down as long as you’re young enough to see the next upswing, and see how blessed you are compared to others.

GIVEAWAY: For more help in these tough economic times, enter this week’s drawing for a free copy of Living Rich for Less by Ellie Kay. Please e-mail your name and mailing address to to be entered in the random drawing this Friday, December 19th. Good luck!

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Living Rich for Less, Ellie Kay

living_richMoney is always tight during the holidays, but never more so than now with the economy spiraling downward so rapidly and no upswing in sight.  So I can’t think of a more timely book than Living Rich for Less by Ellie Kay. 

Ellie has “been there, done that.”  She is a saver; her husband is a spender.  Early in their marriage, she quit working outside the home because they moved 11 times in 13 years.  She and her husband had to live on 23% of her husband’s income since the rest went to pay taxes, child support, and their tithe.  From the remaining 23%, they had to support 7 kids (2 from her husband’s previous marriage and 5 kids they had in 7 years) and pay off $40,000 in consumer debt.  Not only did they survive, they thrived.  They paid off the debt and eventually were able to pay cash for big ticket items such as vehicles and their kids’ college educations. 

In Living Rich for Less, Ellie will explain in easy-to-understand and funny terms how to do the same thing with your own finances.  She will show you how to GIVE 10%, SAVE 10% and WISELY SPEND the remaining 80% (the key word here is wisely).  She discusses the ins and outs of mortgages, a step-by-step process for paying off consumer debt, how to finance your children’s college education, and how to take a vacation for less.  Her tips are practical and not overly burdensome — she will not tell you add water to the milk jug to stretch it longer or give you 10 money-saving uses for lint from the clothes dryer.   

Living Rich for Less is a painless way to learn the money lessons we all need to understand and fully embrace if we are to weather today’s (and tomorrow’s) financial storms. 

I’ll even start saving you money right now by giving you a chance to win the book instead of buying it (although it’s worth the investment —   Please e-mail your name and mailing address to me at to be entered in the drawing.  Winners will be announced on Friday, December 19th. 

Below is the summary from the publisher:

You really can be rich in every way, every day.

So you want to own the home you love, make memories on wonderful vacations with family or friends, finance college educations, and help others too?


You can—starting here and now.


With lively humor, proven know-how, and practical principles for financial health, Living Rich for Less helps you stretch your dollars to realize the lifestyle of your dreams. Ellie Kay’s entertaining and enlightening examples show you simple steps to save, spend, and give smart, and her three main principles are undergirded by dozens of effective rules and hundreds of Cha-Ching Factor™ tips that keep or put money in your pocket.


Ellie knows what it’s like to be financially-strapped or struggling, wanting to be the Joneses but feeling as poor in spirit as in pocketbook. She went, within two and a half years, from being a new wife and mom with $40,000 in consumer debt and seven children (and college educations) to support, to being completely debt-free and within fifteen years able to pay cash for eleven different cars, give away three of those cars, buy two five-bedroom houses (moving from one to the other) and nicely furnish each, take wonderful vacations, dress her family in fine fashion; and support more than thirty non-profit organizations in more than a dozen different countries, giving away more than $100,000.


Isn’t that the kind of transformation to a rich life that you want?

Living Rich for Less helps anyone get there in our taxed-out, maxed-out times. Because financial security doesn’t mean just genuine prosperity, but being able to live luxuriously, give generously, and care for yourself as well as the others around you.

Why keep up with the Joneses when you can be them?


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