Monthly Archives: September 2009

Guest Post: Author Ru Freeman

DisobedientGirl ru_freeman

When I first learned about Ru Freeman’s debut novel A Disobedient Girl on the TLC website, I knew immediately I wanted to read it. I love literary fiction set in foreign countries, and the author’s background as a political activist and journalist interested me. I was not disappointed. A Disobedient Girl is an amazing work of literary fiction (read my review). Many thanks to Lisa at TLC who was instrumental in putting this book into my hands.

Ru Freeman was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She arrived in the United States to attend Bates College in Maine, and later returned to Sri Lanka where she completed her Masters in Labor Relations at the University of Colombo, and worked in the field of American and international humanitarian assistance and workers’ rights. Her political writing has appeared in English and in translation. Her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, Story Quarterly, Crab Orchard Review, WriteCorner Press, Kaduwa and elsewhere and has been nominated for the Best New American Voices anthologies in 2006 and 2008. A Disobedient Girl is her first novel. Read more about Ru Freeman and follow links to interviews with her on her website (I especially found this interview with Bookslut to be fascinating).

Other links to articles and stories by this author you might be interested in reading:

I was thrilled when Ms. Freeman agreed to write a guest post for Caribousmom. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have. I was also ecstatic when I was asked to write a guest post for the author’s blog – you can read what I wrote by visiting Ru Freeman’s blog today.


Thinking Aloud About Time and Space

By Ru Freeman

There is at least as much difference of opinion regarding work-space for writers, as there are types of writers. Some need vast chunks of time, others need vast expanses of space, still others need to be surrounded by books while a few want nothing but themselves and their computer, typewriter or pen and page. Having grown up in a small country, in a small house with lots of people in it – both permanent inhabitants and routine transients – I find myself unable to reconcile my need for space and quiet and solitude with the fact that all three of those things are luxuries for most people on the planet. And yet, lately, the writer that I am has been craving exactly what the activist in me scorns.

First, there has been the inevitable travel associated with the publication of a book. The people and event seeking activist rushes out with glee to book signings, readings, panels, classes and discussions. Any chance to be out in the world, to be involved with its shenanigans, to impinge upon its course in some way is manna from heaven to her. But the writer that I am cringes in horror. My new novel hovers, untended in the not so recent past, my essays and short fiction go untouched, deadlines pass before my glazed eyes as though they are part of someone else’s life, my blog is turning into an embarrassment, and my sole claim to fame is the maniacal update of my Facebook status with which, I apparently hope to restore my reputation as a writer. Ugh.

Then there is the matter of publicity. Gone are the days when a writer wrote a book, sent it forth to make its way in the world, turned her back upon it and set herself to the task of writing something new. In a culture where literature is placed and marketed just as strenuously as the latest beauty product or electronic gadget, the writer is as much a part of the book and its package as is its cover and content. I empathize with my publisher who has to tussle and wrangle alongside all the other publishers in order to make my career as a writer successful and rewarding. But in the end the writing, which was the reason for being out with a book in the first place, begins to take a back seat to the performance of being The Writer. There goes that other block of time, eaten up by emails and phone calls hither and yon to booksellers and publicists and event coordinators and festival organizers and series curators and reviewers etc. etc.

I would not trade in the position of being a published author for the one of being an unpublished one, but I wish someone had told me that there is no freedom quite as assured, for a writer, as that time when you are still writing that first novel. I would have used that time a little better. I might have written longer, revised more, taken a few more risks. Or perhaps I wouldn’t have. Perhaps, like most women, I would have rushed full tilt toward the future, rearranging the rest of my life to make room for the most pressing need of the day be it writing my novel or supporting a political campaign or helping a village raise its children. Perhaps where I find myself now is all there ever is, just the same as it is for anybody else; this present moment, its own reality and the challenge that we remember to be grateful while we try to make the best of it.



A Disobedient Girl – Book Review

DisobedientGirlWhere is my village? Where do I live? I live on this train. I used to live in one place and I will live in another but now I live in this perfect place between the past and the future, the known and the unknown, the bad and the good. – from A Disobedient Girl, page 128 –

Sri Lanka is located in Southern Asia, an island which lies in the Indian Ocean south of India. The war between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil separatists began in 1983 and the resulting ethnic conflict has contributed to thousands of deaths. Despite a cease-fire negotiated by Norway in 2002 between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), renewed violence occurred in 2006. It is against this political backdrop, spanning a 30 year period, that Ru Freeman’s debut novel unfolds.

A Disobedient Girl begins as two parallel stories. Biso, a mother of three who is fleeing her abusive husband, envisions a future of hope and new beginnings but her journey quickly becomes disastrous. As one unpredictable event after another occurs, Biso must make decisions which will have a lasting impact on those closest to her.

Such bliss is not meant to last. In my husband’s house, my children were my real gifts: the older ones had turned fear over and over in my stomach until it molted into rage, and perhaps it was that rage, that sudden fearlessness in me, that had caught Siri’s eye and brought me my youngest, the second daughter, who finally gave wings to my feet. Wings. Or rails. I am grateful for this chance, for the future, for the train that is carrying us there, its carriages full of strangers, kind to one another, kinder than anyone had been to me in my husband’s village. I am grateful for its spaces, which fill up and release people, empty of fear. – from A Disobedient Girl, page 123 –

Latha (a servant girl) and  her mistress Thara (the daughter of high caste parents) grow up together as friends. But when Latha makes a fateful decision to seek revenge against Thara’s mother, the girls’ friendship and Latha’s future is threatened. Latha is sent to a convent, then two years later returns to Thara’s home where she must deal with her own personal desires and the hope for a better future despite the limitations of class and prejudice.

Latha froze. There is was again: a proper servant. That was all they had expected of her. Despite her education, regardless of it, and her looks, she was supposed to be no more, no less. Servant. – from A Disobedient Girl, page 324 –

The novel is narrated in alternating viewpoints: first through the third person limited point of view of Latha over a 30 year span of time; and then through the first person point of view of Biso over the course of a few days. This unique technique is effective in building tension and setting the stage for a surprising twist at the end.

A Disobedient Girl examines the destructive power of secrets, betrayal, loss, and domestic violence, and the power of love to overcome tragedy. Sri Lanka is not only a source, but a destination country for the trafficking of men and women for the purposes of involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation…and in Freeman’s debut novel, this aspect of Sri Lanka is revealed through the eyes of her characters who experience these dangers first hand.

Ru Freeman’s writing is stunning, beautifully crafted and powerful. She carefully reveals her characters’ desires, motivations and flaws…and in so doing, draws the reader into their stories. I found myself marking passage after passage of this extraordinary novel. One passage reads:

All my children grab my body, pressing close to me, screaming with fake terror. I listen to the echoes of other children’s voices from compartments to either side of ours. These shrieks that I have heard each time we pass through a tunnel lift my spirits. They are the sounds of childhood and innocence. When we are out of the tunnel and my children let go of me, I feel unmoored. – from A Disobedient Girl, page 123 –

Indeed, I felt unmoored at times while reading A Disobedient Girl – transported to another time and place, experiencing things which most Americans can only imagine, and feeling moved and haunted by the book’s characters…who although fictional, could be almost any woman living under such circumstances. Freeman does not spare her readers from the raw emotions of fear, anger, or desperation. But, she also allows for the hope of redemption and salvation.

Like the train which Biso boards, A Disobedient Girl moves relentlessly forward towards its heartbreaking, yet hopeful conclusion.  When I turned the final page I felt awed by the power of the human spirit which is able to survive the worst of tragedies; and the strength of people to continue on in the face of loss and overwhelming odds.

Readers who love literary fiction and who want to be wowed by a writer’s talent, should look no further.

Highly recommended.


Listen to Ru Freeman speaking about her novel:

Read a guest post by Ru Freeman here on Caribousmom.

Sunday Salon – September 27, 2009

Sunday Salon

September 27, 2009

7:30 AM

Good morning, fellow readers and saloners! Raven had us up bright and early this morning. In this way, she is a lot like Caribou. As soon as the sky lightens, Raven wants to start her day: go outside and potty, eat a little breakfast, play with her toys, chase the cats. Watching her reminds me how keeping it simple is the best way to bring us joy.

I still have not finished reading The Angel’s Game. This may end up being a DNF.

I did finish reading The Promised World, by Lisa Tucker this week and found it to be a captivating read (read my review). Lisa was kind enough to also provide me with a poignant guest post. Her novel is one about grief and recovery – and for some people it may be too disturbing to read. But since I’ve written my review, I’ve read other reviews of the book and they are overwhelmingly positive.

My current read is A Disobedient Girl, by Ru Freeman which I am reading for a TLC book tour on September 30th. I’m about 2/3rds of the way through the novel and I am so impressed with this debut author’s writing ability. This is literary fiction at its best, in my opinion. There is some tension building in the story, and I am getting a little nervous for one of the characters. I hope to have this finished by today, but you won’t see my review until the 30th (along with a guest post by the author). In the meantime, you can check out other blogger’s reviews through the TLC tour.

I hope to squeeze in one more book before the month comes to a close. Maybe I’ll try to finish The Angel’s Game…or maybe I’ll just pick up a quick, fun read.

Today is due to be another scorching day in Northern California. It feels more like mid-summer than early fall. I keep hoping the rains will arrive and the cool air will move in – in the meantime, I am spending a lot of time sitting underneath the ceiling fans. Besides reading, I hope to work on one of my quilts. I have it all pinned and just have the quilting and binding left to do. Stay tuned for a photo sometime this week.

What are you doing today? Whatever it is, I hope it involves a great book!

Costa Book Award Project Finds a New Home

Due to personal reasons, Sharon will no longer be able to host the Costa Book Awards Project. I have offered to step up and host it…but this means that the site for the challenge is also going to be moving. Sharon will be deleting her blog sometime soon…so please make note of the following information:

I have moved all the posts and information from the old site to a new Blogger format which can be found here. The new address for the challenge is now:

If you are interested in continuing the challenge OR would like to join the challenge, please email me at caribousmom (at) gmail (dot) com and I will send you an invitation to join the new blog.

I hope everyone will be interested in continuing the challenge at our new site. I have not made ANY changes to the challenge! Please email me if you have any questions.

Tagged for a Meme

Jeane at DogEar Diary tagged me for this fun ABC Meme. I haven’t done one of these for awhile, so I thought I’d play along!

Available or single? Isn’t that the same thing? I’m not either – I’m married to the best guy in the world!

Best Friend? My husband

Cake or Pie? Pie – specifically blueberry or apple (although I also love pumpkin!)

Drink of choice? Wine if it is alcoholic; Coffee first thing in the morning; Gatorade as a thirst quencher; and Lemonade if I want something with a bite.

Essential item for every day use? Blue jeans

Favorite color? Purple

Google? Absolutely – what did we do before Google?

Hometown? I live in California, but I always think of my hometown as where I grew up: Bow, New Hampshire.

Indulgences? Chocolate. Books. Sleeping in.

January or February? Which do I prefer? January…because it marks a new beginning.

Kids and their names? I was never able to have my own kids – but I am an aunt and pseudo-aunt to many children…and of course, there are my furchildren!

Life is incomplete without…? My animals.

Marriage date? May 4th.

Number of siblings? Two sisters who are both older than me.

Oranges or apples? Oranges.

Phobias and fears? Heights for sure…spiders…and I have always had a fear of drowning.

Quote for the day? “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reason to smile? Raven – she makes me laugh every day.

Season? I love the Springtime in Northern California because everything is green and the wild flowers are amazing. But Autumn in New England is my most favorite time.

Tag 3 people? Anyone who reads this and wants to play – consider yourself tagged!

Unknown fact about me? Well, it depends who you ask! But most people don’t know I was the 1/2 mile New Hampshire State Champion in 1977.

Vegetable you hate? Olives – aren’t they a vegetable?

Worst habit? Chewing my nails

X-rays you’ve had? Well, I had a lot of X-Rays through the years for sports injuries (but only had a broken finger once).

Your fave food? It used to be lobster – but then I developed a fatal shellfish allergy. So now I would have to say Shepherd’s Pie. Love those mashed potatoes!

Zodiac sign? Leo

Guest Post: Author Lisa Tucker

LisaTucker PromisedWorld

Recently I was delighted to accept Lisa Tucker’s latest novel The Promised World for a TLC Book Tour (read my review). Described by Booklist as a “natural born storyteller,” Lisa is also the author of The Song Reader, Shout Down the Moon, Once Upon a Day, and The Cure for Modern Life. Her books have been published in twelve countries and her work has been featured in Seventeen, Pages, and The Oxford American.  She has advanced degrees in English and Math, and has taught creative writing at the Taos Conference and at UCLA.  Lisa currently lives in Pennsylvania. To learn more about Lisa Tucker and her work, please visit the author’s website.

When I asked for a guest post, Lisa graciously agreed to provide one. Given the subject matter of her book, I believe this is not only a timely post, but a poignant one.


Honoring a Loved One

by Lisa Tucker

Since The Promised World is about dealing with grief, I wanted to share with your readers something I wrote to honor someone I lost.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is that we never really get over grief, but talking—and writing—about the person we miss can really help. Thanks for inviting me to do a guest blog. 

The last time she visited, she was already sick. When she left, I walked around my house in a daze, inhaling the smells. In the kitchen, the odors from the supper she’d insisted on making the night before: salty grease from the fried chicken and okra, sticky sweetness from the strawberries and marshmallow yams. In the bathroom, the clean tang of her Avon astringent and body cream. And in the guest room, the vaguely floral smell that must have been her perfume, but seemed like the very scent of her.

Her name was Minnie Louise, a small-town Arkansas gal, but I called her Minna, because she thought it sounded French, mysterious. For years, we talked on the phone every morning, even when my husband and I weren’t getting along, even when I feared we’d end up divorced. Our relationship was one of the richest in my adult life, but whenever I told friends she was coming to visit me, they groaned. They all had mother-in-law horror stories. The very term mother-in-law seems to be only an occasion for jokes.

Did you hear the one about the mother-in-law who made a string of beautiful beads for her daughter-in-law, with a card that read, “Worry beads, for your busy little hands”?

I wring my hands; I also crack my knuckles, pick my nails, tear my cuticles. As a child these were embarrassing tics, but in Minna’s eyes they became signs of my sensitivity, of the harsh way she was sure the world had treated me. She respected me as a woman and a mother and a writer, and most important, she gave me back my position as a daughter. And I loved her with a child-like intensity that always wanted more.


Read all the blog tours for this book and author:

Tuesday, September 1st:  Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Thursday, September 3rd:  Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, September 8th:  Fizzy Thoughts

Wednesday, September 9th:  The Eclectic Book Lover– review and author interview

Date TBD:  My Friend Amy

Friday, September 11th:  Serendipitous Reading

Monday, September 14th:  Cindy’s Love of Books

Tuesday, September 15th:  Booking Mama

Wednesday, September 16th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves

Thursday, September 17th:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Monday, September 21st:  Janel’s Jumble

Tuesday, September 22nd:  Caribousmom

Wednesday, September 23rd:  The Tome Traveller

Thursday, September 24th:  Books and Movies

Monday, September 28th:  A Sea of Books

Tuesday, September 29th:  GalleySmith

Wednesday, September 30th:  Shhh.. I’m Reading


The Promised World – Book Review

PromisedWorldShe used to think that without her brother she would simply cease to exist. But now, as she heard her lungs gasping for air and felt the ache of her knees against the hardwood floor, she knew her body was stubborn; it would insist on remaining alive, even if her life no longer made sense to her. Even if she couldn’t comprehend the world in which she’d found herself. It was frankly impossible, and yet this was her reality now: a world without Billy. – from The Promised World, page 7 –

He never complained that he had to live his life under the shadow of always knowing what Lila could not bear to know. And whenever her pain got too bad, he would remind her of the second part of the plot, an elaborate story of the happy adulthood that he’d constructed out of thin air and taught her to believe in, too. The promised world; their lives, redeemed. – from The Promised World, page 75 –

Lila is a Princeton graduate, a college professor of English Literature and married to the gentle and understanding Patrick. But when Lila’s twin brother Billy threatens a school full of children with an unloaded gun and is killed through “suicide by cop,” Lila’s world unravels. Unable to remember any of her early childhood years and completely dependent on Billy’s interpretation of her past, Lila finds herself floating without an anchor when Billy dies. What really happened to her? What is merely a story… a contrived plot of her life? The Promised World centers around this psychological mystery. Lila must recreate her childhood and unearth both her and Billy’s secrets  in order to not only move forward, but to save her eight year old nephew from a doomed future.

Told from multiple viewpoints, the novel is an examination of memory and the power of storytelling as the characters move through grief, trauma, and betrayal. Tucker’s strength is in her characters who are both deeply flawed and painfully human. Lila is a woman who has essentially been living life like a character in a novel – reality and fantasy have become inexplicably linked. Her struggle to sort out the discrepancies of her life and hold together her marriage with Patrick is raw and believable. Billy’s wife, Ashley, and his children (William and Pearl) have also been caught up in Billy’s world of carefully constructed half-truths. Tucker easily slips into the voice of William – a child who adores his father and only wants to please him, even if it means doing the unthinkable. Although Billy is revealed only through the voices of those around him, he is perhaps the most compelling character – complex, brilliant, and deeply disturbed.

The Promised World is an unnerving novel which examines psychological survival from trauma and loss and questions how well anyone really knows another person. Tucker’s style is conversational and easy to read. The narrative is non-linear and the use of multiple viewpoints works in creating tension – the answers to Billy and Lila’s past are revealed slowly, as if in a dream. I found myself unable to put the book down by the midway point. I wanted to know the truth and I was fascinated with the psychological aspects of the story. Although dark and heartbreaking, The Promised World ultimately delivers a hopeful message.

Readers who have suffered an abusive relationship or been shattered by the suicide of a loved one may find The Promised World difficult to read. But for those who enjoy engrossing character driven novels which examine the human psyche in the aftermath of trauma, Tucker’s book is an intriguing read.


Mailbox Mondays – September 21, 2009

mailboxMonday1 Happy Monday a little bit late (I was traveling all day)! Today readers share their mailboxes through Marcia’s excellent weekly meme Mailbox Monday. I hope you’ll drop by her blog today to post a link to your mailbox and to see what other readers snagged this week.

I had a good week in books…

AcrossEndlessRiverAcross the Endless River by Thad Carhart arrived courtesy of Anna, senior publicist at FSB Associates. Carhart is the bestselling author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank. Across the Endless River was just released by Doubleday on September 1st. This is an historical novel about Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea, and his journey as a young man in 1820s Paris. Baptiste was born in 1805 on the Lewis and Clark expedition, and was the son of the expedition’s translators, Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau. The press release for the novel reads: Baptiste, caught between worlds, reflects the common struggle of those who find themselves at an intersection of multiple cultures, languages, and ways of life.  Spanning the wilds of America to the European court, Across the Endless River is a haunting exploration of identity, passion, and love. You may read more about Carhart and his work at the author’s website.

GlassblowerThe Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato came to me through Library Thing’s Early Review Program. This historical novel, set in 1681 Venice, is a tale of mystery, love and betrayal centered around an artist named Corradino Manin and his secret daughter Leonora. Described as “richly detailed, with wonderful, memorably drawn characters” Fiorato’s debut novel is a book which sounds fantastic. It has already proved to be an international bestseller. Since the 2008 release of The Glassblower of Murano, Fiorato has also published a second historical novel: The Madonna of the Almonds. To read more about Fiorato and her work, visit the author’s website. Fiorato also maintains the blog Paperback Writer.

LookingAfterPigeonLooking After Pigeon by Maud Carol Markson arrived from the author for a TLC book tour scheduled in October and November. I’ll be reading and reviewing the book for a tour date of November 11th – so make sure you come back then to read my thoughts! This novel is about five year old Pigeon whose father disappears and leaves her to face a new and bewildering life with her mother and older siblings in an uncle’s house on the Jersey shore. Markson has published a previous novel (When We Get Home) which garnered high praise for award winning author Andre Dubus who wrote, “It may be the best story we have about marital love.” To read more about Markson and her work, visit the author’s website.

What arrived at YOUR house this week?

Sunday Salon – September 20, 2009

Sunday Salon

September 20, 2009

7:30 AM

Good morning! September has been a hectic month and I have missed a couple of Sunday Salons. Last weekend Kip and I traveled to visit friends in Lake County – we enjoyed stunning views from their back deck, along with laughter, good food and great conversation. What could be better?

Since I last posted for the Salon on August 30th I have read:

  • The Help, by Kathryn Stockett – a fantastic book set in the early 1960s deep south (read my review)
  • Cleopatra’s Daughter, by Michelle Moran – another great historical novel by this author which was just released (read my review)

I started The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which I expected to really enjoy given my high rating of his previous book The Shadow of the Wind (read my review). But, I am struggling with his latest novel. It started well, but began to drag for me about mid-way. I don’t really like the protagonist, and Zafon’s themes seem to be rehashed rather than original. I’ve set it aside for now so that I can read The Promised World by Lisa Tucker for a TLC book tour on September 22nd. I’m 100 pages into Tucker’s book and I’m intrigued by the psychological aspects and plot.

How many of you participated in BBAW this past week? I was absolutely amazed at the incredible job that Amy and her team did putting all of this together. It boggles the mind at the amount of activities, giveaways, posts, awards, etc…that were organized for one week of blow-out fun. I have to admit, I barely scratched the surface of what was offered…and there are so many new to me blogs I’d like to peruse at some point. If you haven’t been over to the BBAW site, you should – there are some great links to some fabulous blogs and fun posts.

Yesterday I posted about burnout. I think we all encounter this at some time. For me it is a combination of factors which make me feel tired, overwhelmed, and needing to step back. Because of that, my reading has slowed down a bit. Just yesterday I planned to take some time off of work around the holidays so I can actually enjoy them. And I am making time in my life to enjoy the simple things which have no deadlines. How about you? What do you do to renew your energy?

Today Kip and I are traveling to Reno to visit a friend who is set to deploy to Afghanistan in a week. This will be his 4th tour (the other three were to Iraq). We’re looking forward to spending time with him and his wife since we have not seen either of them for some time now. So my reading time will be mostly during the drive there and back.

What about you? What are you doing today? Whatever it is, I hope at some point it involves a great book.

Weekly Geeks 2009-36: Burnout

weeklygeeksThis week’s Weekly Geeks post could not have come at a more appropriate time for me.

Unfinished Person writes about the hectic pace of blogging, especially after a busy week. She writes:

Personally, after such weeks, I feel almost burnt out and think, “Why am I doing this? I’m not getting paid for this.” Do you ever feel the same way after weeks like the ones mentioned above? If you do, what do you to counter it? How do you keep going? Do you take a break from posts after that, or do you just “soldier on”?

Or if you don’t feel burnt out after such weeks, why not? Also why are you a book blogger? From what I’ve seen and experienced, it’s certainly not the fame or the glory that you get. So what is it? Why? Why? Why?

The simple answer is: YES, I feel burnout. I have been thinking about this a lot lately as the days fly by and the unread blog posts pile up in my feed reader, and the stacks of books in my TBR pile go on and on and on. I get more emails than I can deal with on some days. There are events, challenges, endless requests to review books, Yahoo book groups to run or participate in. And don’t even mention Twitter – I quickly found myself unable to keep up and hardly ever even sign in to my account there anymore. Don’t get me wrong…I love blogging. I love books. I love the social network of the book blogging community. I even love writing reviews. But sometimes I feel so tired and overwhelmed by my never ending list of “to dos.”

This morning I sat down and wrote a guest blog post for an author’s blog which will post on September 30th – and guess what I wrote about? How the fast pace of the Internet and digital age carries us along and we forget to stop, breathe, relax, enjoy the simple things. Writing it felt cathartic.

I have lately been giving myself permission to just stop and to do something completely unrelated to technology. I’ve been quilting, digging around in the dirt of my potted plants, cuddling my animals, watching an old movie, sitting undisturbed on my porch listening to nature, reading a book I want to read. I’ve been taking walks and long showers. I’ve been perusing my recipes, planning big feasts that will take all day long to cook. It feels good. It feeds my soul.

My books are still piling up. The over 1000 blog posts remain unread. The email requests for reviews are left unanswered. But tomorrow the sun will still come up, and one of these days my energy and enthusiasm will rev up again. Until then, I’m taking life a little slower. And that’s okay.