Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A Book for Every Child: The Boy Who Grew a Forest by Sophia Gholz and Kayla Harren


There is something extraordinary about a boy who grows a forest, and yet, it was a task so simply done. Day by day. Plant by plant. Visit by visit. Through patience, dedication, and persistence, a thriving ecosystem came into existence. All because a young boy decided to take action and fix something that was broken. 

The Boy Who Grew a Forest is based on the efforts of Jadav Payeng. who sprouted a thriving ecosystem on the Brahmaputra River in northeastern India. 

The combination of Sophia Gholz's beautiful prose and Kayla Harren's wonderful illustrations have created a picture book that will capture the imagination of young readers and fuel inspiration for their own ventures.

As children begin a new school year after the difficult experiences of 2020, The Boy Who Grew a Forest is a must-have for the reading corner. As a teacher who strives to connect learning and living in today's world, I highly recommend this incredible book for delivering seeds of hope, values, compassion, and creativity.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Seven days, Seven books. Day 7. Beautiful Shades of Brown by Nancy Churnin, Illustrated by Felicia Marshall

Hooray for day 7, where you don't get just one picture book, but two!

Author Nancy Churnin has two beautiful picture books published so far this year, so I decided to feature both.

Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring, is a beautifully told and illustrated book about an artist from the late 1800s who grew up painting black people and mixing paints in just the right way to capture the true color of their skin. After studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and in Paris, Laura grew up to see her work hung in Washington, D.C.'s National Portrait Gallery.

Nancy Churnin's gorgeous text will inspire profound thinking and creativity in children with lines like:
Maybe you didn't see brown in a rainbow, she thought. But brown was a rainbow with orange and blue, red and green, tucked inside playing hide-and-seek.

This next book written by Nancy Churnin, For Spacious Skies: Katherine Lee Bates and the Inspiration for "America the Beautiful," is illustrated by Olga Baumert. This picture book tells the story of the woman who wrote the beloved and inspiring song, America the Beautiful.

Spanning history from the civil war to reconstruction to women's right to vote, the experiences and passions of Katherine Lee Bates brings the stanzas of "America the Beautiful" to life.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Seven days, seven books. Day 6. Help Wanted Must Love Books by Janet Summer Johnson, Illustrated by Courtney Dawson

Hello, again! Yesterday completely slipped away from me. I guess that's allowed to happen in summer, right? Especially when one is busy writing and revising.

Today, I'm pleased to share an adorable, debut picture book from Janet Summer Johnson, who also happens to be another fellow author from Utah!

When Shailey fires her dad from their cherished bedtime story time routine, she searches for a replacement with an advertisement. But the assorted cast of characters who show up to interview for the job give her more than she bargains for.  From the Three Little Pigs to Goldilocks to Captain Hook, it seems finding a suitable replacement will be impossible... until one shows up at the door.

Courtney Dawson's lively illustrations capture the humor and heart of Help Wanted Must Love Books. I imagine children will enjoy adding their own spin on what could happen if their favorite characters arrive to read a story before bedtime.

Help Wanted Must Love Books is perfect for making happy story time memories in every household. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Seven books, seven days. Day 5. The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, Illustrated by Hatem Aly

In the The Proudest Blue, A Story of Hijab and Family, written by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali and illustrated by Hatem Aly, a young girl shares in the excitement of the first day her older sister Asiya gets to wear hijab. Strong in her wisdom and fueled with a deep sense of pride, Asiya exemplifies strength and resilience in the face of bullies, letting their hurtful words "drop" as she and her younger sister go through a day at school.

The text in this story is as beautiful as the illustrations, which flow from page to page. This emotionally gripping story with its brilliant and positive message is highly recommended for anyone who wants to celebrate culture, family relationships, and tradition with the children in their life.

This picture book is one of my new favorites.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Seven books, seven days. Day 4. Dusk Explorers by Lindsay Leslie, Illustrated by Ellen Rooney

After a short holiday break, I'm back on schedule with Dusk Explorers, a book I'm sure will resonate with many readers given all the "dusk explorers" I saw enjoying the last hours of daylight with family and friends over the weekend.

From neighborhood hide-and-seek games to catching fireflies to climbing among the branches of trees, Dusk Explorers written by Lindsay Leslie and illustrated by Ellen Rooney shows wonderful memories that can be made in childhood, while hinting at the sense of community and connections we have to each other and the natural world.

Ellen Rooney's fantastic illustrations capture the joy of discovery and friendship that can be found on every curb or patch of grass.

Dusk Explorers is highly recommended to inspire the young people in your life to discover what awaits outdoors.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Seven books, seven days. Day 3 Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore, Illustrated by Xindi Yan

Daisy is excited to meet her grandpa from China for the first time, but their time together doesn't start off as she expected it would. However, this determined girl with a big heart doesn't give up, and soon discovers why he seems grumpy, as well as how to bridge a connection.

The illustrations by Xindi Yan capture the spunk, energy, and love of of a young girl, along with the humor that can bloom between the young and old. I loved this story and the cultural traditions it shared.

Grandpa Grumps is perfect for any child missing a grandparent or anticipating a visit with grandparents.
Five out of five stars.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Seven days, seven books. Day 2. National Regular Average Ordinary Day by Lisa Katzenberger, Illustrated by Barbara Bakos

A day without a holiday? What will Peter do to fight boredom?

There isn't anything regular or ordinary about Lisa Katzenberger's new picture book for kids. In fact, in a world where staying at home and finding new types of entertainment has become the norm, this story may be just what today's kid needs to inspire creativity. Especially with the illustrations by Barbara Bakos amping up the energy.

You won't go wrong sharing this delightful book with the little people in your lives. In fact, be prepared to have pencils, papers, boxes, snacks, and all sorts of ordinary supplies ready when they decide to chase after their own ordinary fun. 

Ten stars!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Seven days, Seven books. Day 1. Dozens of Doughnuts by Carrie Finison, Illustrated by Brianne Farley

I have big love for Dozens of Doughnuts by Carrie Finison, Illustrated by Brianne Farley

"Ding! Dong!"

Kids will delight at this refrain and be tickled to see who arrives next at LuAnn's front door.

Dozens of Doughnuts is absolutely, positively charming!

I suspect kids will be tempted to count how many doughnuts are made, eaten, and appear on the endpapers!

This book will appeal to anyone with a love of pastries, humor, and furry friends.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

WIFYR Day 5. Surprise! Fellowship Grant and Final Take-Away

The last day of the conference came too quickly. 
But I'm left feeling hopeful and inspired with tools I can use as I revise my work.

We began our Friday workshop sharing the homework assignments that we'd each been given to improve our novels. The excerpts shared in our class blew me away. It was amazing to see a group of skilled writers transform their words and take them to a higher level over and over again. 

The panel of agents and editors offered great advice, as always. In short, here's a recap for writers who are getting ready to put together a submission:

What Keeps an Agent/Editor Reading? 
Compelling stakes. 
Great characters.
The burning question of, What happens next? 
An unexpected storyline. 

Surprise! I don't know how to say this, but I need to share, so here it is. 
During the closing webinar of the conference, I was awarded a Fellowship Grant for the middle grade novel I'd brought to revise. Yay! 

It's hard to put into words, how I felt at that moment, and how I continue to feel today. 
When I realized that the words being read were my own, my first instinct was to dive under my desk and seek shelter. Lucky for me, I have a small desk. I couldn't get away from them.

Getting this grant feels surreal and at the same time, hard to believe. I met many talented writers this past week, and each are creating amazing stories. It's impossible not to want the same for them.

For me, the timing of this grant award culminated in an important Take-Away. 
I'll preface this Take Away with a bit of backstory. 

March, April, and May were busy months. A handful of professional critique opportunities unfolded. I prepared what I could, the WIFYR grant being one of them. By the first week of June, I'd heard back from those critiques (but not the WIFYR grant.). One agent thought my MC was too whiny. Another liked her, and thought the story held merit in discovering how the relationships would unfold. Another agent didn't have much to say. Which is all fine. I can fix "whiny," and yes, I like my relationships, I think they're worth sticking with to the end. And clearly, it's good to discover agents who aren't a good match along the way to finding "the one." 

I found similar reactions in my writing workshop. Some authors loved the manuscript. Others liked it well-enough, although I suspect it wasn't their cup of tea. Which I get. Different readers develop different tastes. I respect that. 

And then, my manuscript won the Fellowship Grant! 
What?!? How is that possible? 

At the very least, it means something, or a few things, are working in my story. And I'm hoping that the tools I learned this week will help me get all of it right.

If anything, the rollercoaster I've been on with this manuscript over the last 12 days shows two things.

1) Connections to a manuscript happen on personal levelSome readers will love it, others won't, and that's OKAY. There isn't one story on the planet that will appeal to everyone. For example, I own the book, Where the Crawdads Sing. My mother loved it; my mother-in-law loved it; my daughter loved it.  I've begun reading my copy on two different occasions. But I haven't been able to "get into the novel," that has sold more than a million copies... Soooooo. Reading and loving a book is personal, although I suspect I'll be able to finish Where the Crawdads Sing when the timing is right.

2) Write your story!  WRITE IT. Throw up all over your pages, and then revise, and make it beautiful for you and the readers/writers/critique-peeps that get it from the beginning. Because stories that find a way into your heart, are wanting to be told. YOU are the person who needs to tell them. 

YOUR story isn't knocking on the door of the writer who lives down the road. 
It's knocking on yours. 

So welcome it in. 
Give it a place to put its feet up.
And then give it wings. 
This is my revelation,  
my take away.

My wish for you 
is for you to keep writing, 
and for you to revise, 
and for you to maintain hope,
until your story takes the shape it needs.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

WIFYR Day 4. Filter Words and Little Wins

Day 4 of the conference was jam-packed with information, more revisions, and more critiques. And I haven't even come close to putting a dent in watching the webinars. To top it off, I capped off another day by participating in the WIFYR writing sprints at 9pm with other writers from the conference. I'm so surprised at how quickly I've grown to love these virtual group meetings! Go me, in trying all the new things.

Filter words. These words weaken your manuscript. They put distance between your character and your reader. Seek them out and delete them.  Words like:
I'm able to
I know
I decide
I wonder
I can/could/couldn't
I hear
I think
I try
I see

If you delete the filters words that permeate first drafts, then you'll be left with the action of the story, rooting your character and your reader exactly where they should be.

(This advice was shared in a short teaching segment given by Kathy Lipscomb, an editor and author, who participated in our morning writing workshop with one of her own projects. And I'll just say it: I LOVE Kathy's writing. Her words, her stories, all of them, need to be in print. As in, hardcover, paperback. ebook. All the formats. I can't wait until they are published.)

Little Wins and Pacing.  Sometimes your character needs a little bit of a win. Little victories to keep her and your reader going, especially when the going gets tough. So while we're told as writers to be merciless to our characters, at times, we also need to be kind. Like maybe give them a cookie and a glass of milk to go with it. (That last part was a joke, but think about your character and her arc and how she's feeling. Make sure it's not too overwhelming.)

Keep writing everyone!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

WIFYR Day 3. Doors of No Return

Another fantastic day!

These take-aways came from Cheri Pray Earl's workshop.

What is a Door of No Return?
When your character makes a choice, and can't undo it. In other words, she can not un-know what she now knows, and she can't un-see what she has seen.

The 1st Door of No Return happens between the Introduction (Act 1) and Act 2.

The 2nd Door of No Return happens before the climax and moves your character in the final conflict.

Must be driven by each character's wants and needs. After you establish the conflicts, raise the stakes, and increase the tension, then go back and make the conflicts worse.

Each chapter begins with your main character dealing with a particular emotional state and dealing with a problem.

Basically, today workshops involved ensuring that our characters suffered, and then suffered even more. All in the name of growth and a movement toward a more satisfying resolution.

Yay for growth!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

WIFYR Day 2. Crucibles and Take-Aways

WIFYR led me through another amazing day in this writing journey.

Through a series of critiques and discussion in my morning workshop being led by the amazing Kathryn Purdie, I had 3 major take-aways. (Actually, there were lots more, but on account of the late hour, and another writing deadline due before tomorrow, I'm abiding by the Rule of 3.)

Take-Away 1. How can writing from a 13-year-old point of view help you tell your story (for any memory, which can then be translated into your story's scene). I'm writing an upper middle-grade, so I chose a young age. Authors of YA, would choose memories from an older age.

Take-Away 2. The details, and particularly the "telling details," trigger memories of moments for use in a story. The emotions associated with those memories naturally flow as you write them.

Take-Away 3. Crucibles can be emotional or physical. They can be used in a single scene or extended over an entire book. Actually, you should have at least one crucible extended over the entire book. What is a crucible? A crucible is an emotional or physical "vessel" where characters are stuck together. An emotional crucible could be relationship, as in mother/daughter. A physical crucible could be a room, a house, an island, a train. If you want to know more abut what a crucible is as a writing device in a novel, you have your first assignment. Look into it!

Lastly, during the WIFYR writing prompt today, I decided to write a short snippet of scene that will be added to the climax in my current WIP. And yes, this scene hinges on one of the novel's main crucibles.

The realization that the car sitting in the driveway doesn't belong washes over me as soon as Mother pushes her way through the screen door. Head down, feet racing over each step, she closes the distance, anchors her hands like bookends on each of my shoulders. Her touch seems foreign, as my mind lifts away.  I see him standing in the window. Even before he turns in my direction, I know who it is. Why he's come.

I'm not sure I'm ready. I'm not sure I remember how to breathe.

WIFYR Day 1. Swapping notes with my character

Today marked the first day of a weeklong conference: Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers.

I'm blessed to be participating in the Novel Bootcamp Workshop with Kathryn Purdie, author of YA books such as Burning Glass and Bone Crier's Moon.

Our first assignment this morning was to allow our main character to write us a note about how they felt.  Here's what my main character, Meg, had to say:

Look, it's about time you get this done. We've been sharing headspace for a while. You rehash words. You rehash me. Edit every last sentence, and I think it's time you trust in the story that needs to be told. No edits. No tweaks. Just trust that I'm ready to carry myself on the page. A bunch of pages, actually. One after the other so that I can get myself to where I need to go.

Here's my reply:

Dear Meg,

Whoa! You're far too young to be forging ahead like that on your own. We came here to gain perspective on how we can both grow. You, as a girl trying to figure out her place. Me, as a writer trying to become a better wordsmith. Yet, here we are on day 1, and already you're acting like you have a mind of your own. Sheesh!

Obviously, we have a lot of work to do. Please, sit down. Stay a while. Let's plan this story out and not get too crazy.... Although I admit, maybe I should loosen the reins a little bit, put my editor hat away, and see exactly what it is that you want to say.... 

I mean it. I'm ready to listen. You go first.


What an interesting way to get geared up for tackling the journey ahead. 

Happy writing, everyone!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

#Joygivers during the Pandemic of COVID-19

Thank goodness for the #joygivers, one of many positive outcomes that have evolved during a time when living through the anxiety, fears, and isolation of COIVD-19, as well as watching the horrors that this disease brings forth, has without a doubt, shaken, changed, and enlightened our global community.

The message left for me on the road outside my office window brightened my day, and many more that followed, when I found it after stepping outside one afternoon to begin a walk.

This short, sweet message showed me that I wasn't alone, that I was valued, missed, beheld as a friend by a young neighbor wanting to share that she cared. It filled me with joy.

As a teacher I've been separated from my students and colleagues.
As a parent I was separated from my oldest child working in another city.
As a child I've been separated from my parents, siblings, and in-laws who live in other states.
And as a person navigating life in this pandemic, I know my situation isn't unique.
But again, thank goodness for the #joygivers.

Those who have found ways to naturally uplift the people around them through their actions. This melon art, another gift, has found a new spot in my flower garden. Small gestures like these mean the most. They remind us of the best parts of being human.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

A Mother, A Vote, A Voice. A Mother's Day book review

Sometimes a book comes along that becomes both timely and timeless from the moment it sees print. The book from Emmy Award-winning journalist and author Elisa Boxer and illustrator Vivian Mildenberger, The Voice That Won The Voteis just that: Timely and Timeless. 

I believe this story and message will resonate with readers - young and old - through generations. More than that, this book's connection to Mother's Day is coincidental to the timing of this post, which makes it even more special! 

To begin, look at the inscription written by Elisa in my copy:

Aren't these words powerful?

When I got The Voice That Won the Vote, I intended to bring it to my favorite elementary school library -- the one my children had attended so that it could be shared with hundreds of children year-after-year. However, the effects of COVID-19 began rattling our world before I could put my plans into motion, and I've had to put off bringing it to the school until it reopens.

Despite that delay, I'm so excited to be able to share this book here, along with some background information from Elisa Boxer herself, so that perhaps you'll be inspired to find a way to share this book with the children in your own family and community. Here we go! 

Hi Elisa! 

1) There were many people involved in promoting change for a woman's right to vote--an effort that spanned at least 72 years according to the timeline provided at the end of your book.  How did you find and settle on this particular story? Were there any other people or events that also caught your attention?

You're so right, Shaunda.The women's suffrage movement was nearly seventy-five years of meetings, marches, rallies and dedicated focus to freeing women from "political slavery," in the words of Harry Burn, one of the book's heroes. People are pretty surprised when I tell them I found this particular story with a Google search! But it's true. In 2018, my agent let me know that the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment ratification was coming up in two years, which is about how long it takes to get a book published. He knew I was passionate about women's rights, and was wondering if I might like to write a book about it. I knew the turnaround would be tight, so I immediately began searching for a story.

I've always been drawn to unsung heroes. So I literally did a Google search for "little-known figures in the women's suffrage movement." Eventually, I found the story of Febb Burn, the mother who saved suffrage with the letter she wrote to her son. I couldn't believe no one had written a book about her. She was basically just a footnote in history. I was immediately drawn to her courage, and I knew this was a story I wanted to tell.

2) What kind of historical documents did you find in your research? Were quotes that you shared in your story hard to find?

As a journalist, I really geek out over old newspaper clippings, and I hit the jackpot with the Knox County Public Library in Tennessee. A librarian there led me to an online treasure trove: The actual scrapbook that belonged to Harry Burn, the Tennessee lawmaker who tipped the scales in favor of women's suffrage, based on a letter he received from his mother. He had clipped and saved dozens of newspaper articles and headlines from his historic vote in 1920, and that's where I found most of my primary-source information. 

3) Is there any significance for yellow roses as being chosen to represent a woman's right to vote?

It actually started with the Kansas state flower, which was the sunflower! Back in 1867, when women's rights activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were in Kansas lobbying for women's suffrage, they chose the sunflower as the symbol of their fight. The Kansas referendum didn't end up passing. Still, in honor of the sunflower, the women's suffrage movement that same year adopted the color yellow as its symbol, but they switched the flower to a rose. That's when it started appearing on pins, sashes, etc. But Kansas hasn't forgotten about the sunflower! This year, in honor of the suffrage centennial, people in Kansas have been planing thousands of "suffrage sunflowers" around the state.

4) Have any other mothers helped shaped history?

Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman immediately come to mind: Two mothers who escaped slavery and helped lead so many others to freedom. In fact, as I point out in my author's note, the women's suffrage movement actually had its early roots in the abolitionist movement. Many women who wanted so badly to speak out against slavery found their voices silenced. They began to realize the importance of making their voices heard in all areas of society.

5) Any final thoughts about voice, votes, or mothers you'd like to share with young readers?

I really hope this book helps inspire kids to know just how much their voices matter.

And of course, as I tell my son, the moral of this book is that you should always listen to your mother :)

And for the mothers (and all parents) teaching their kids at home, here is a free, downloadable educator's guide to go along with the book. It includes activities in reading, math, history and social studies: https://sleepingbearpress.com/products/11847/teaching_guides

If you'd like a signed, personalized copy of the book shipped to you, grab one here, from my local indie:

Or if you'd rather order from somewhere else, drop me a line at boxerelisa@gmail.com and I'd be happy to send you a signed bookplate. One of my favorite quarantine activities has been answering letters from kids around the country, so if your child has any questions about the book, or would like a letter, email me for my address!

Shaunda, thanks so much for having me here to talk about the book. And Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Thank you, Elisa! 

Happy Mother's Day to all!  

And yes, we should listen to mothers everywhere. :)

I'm a mother, and I say, this book brightens our world. 

Get yourself a copy and another to share! It's wonderful.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Looking back, Stepping forward. Hello, 2020

I'm participating in a 12 Days of Christmas with author Julie Hedlund who runs the group PB 12x12, which inspires writers to write 12 new PB manuscripts a year. I've loved being a member of this supportive and resourceful group.

As part of the 12 Days of Christmas program, one the exercises Julie gave was to make a list of successes and surprises. I did this exercise for Day 1 and Day 2, but I'm only getting around to posting now because I'm still catching up with life and return to work after having family visit for the holidays and then taking a short trip to the Cotton Bowl with my husband, who is a Penn State fan. I'm just thankful the game was exciting and the stadium was indoors. :)  

Anyway,... I lumped my lists of surprises and successes into one, because my successes surprised me. Here are a few:
1.     I completed 13 new, solid picture book manuscripts, thanks to the monthly goals set for writing and revision in PB12x12, as well as being involved in 3 critique groups (2 online and 1 in-person) that kept me to a schedule, and inspiration that flowed from #PBChat on Twitter as led by @JustinRColon. I suppose I hated the idea of showing up each month empty-handed and missing out on the opportunity for suggestions and feedback from my writing friends.

       Writing 13 picture book manuscripts was such a surprise, especially because there were times that I felt my well of ideas had surely run dry. Nope! While I had set the goal for 12 manuscripts and had met that in early December after inspiration struck out-of-the-blue for a phrase I had scrawled in my notebook in August, the 13th manuscript came during revision as I felt daunted by finding ideas to fill 14 page-spreads in manuscript-#12. However, rising above what I thought were boundaries of what would "fit" in my manuscript opened me up to new ideas that led to its companion book. Hello, Manuscript-#13!  

      While I'm really tempted to use Manuscript-#13 as Manuscript #1 for 2020, I'm not going to do it. I'm keeping myself open to the first picture-book-idea-surprise for the new year. After all, I've got the fruits of Tara Lazar's #Storystorm to look forward to @TaraLazar.

2.     I had a R&R with an editor from a big publishing house in NY. Although her boss eventually ended up turning down the book, it was a great experience and I feel my manuscript and writing came out stronger from the experience. (And yes, it was frustrating, but I've long left those feelings behind.)

3.     I received compliments from published authors and an agent as I sent my current Work-In-Progress out for critique, along with strong urgings to finish it. This WIP is a middle grade novel that is close to my heart. But finish it I will! I've got Kathryn Purdie's workshop in June (@KathrynPurdie) to look forward to at WIFYR 2020 (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers), where my plan is to revise the finished novel and bring it to full potential with submission-ready status. This will be my 4th year attending this conference/workshop, and I'm so looking forward to connecting with my writing friends and making new ones.

4.     Participated in 3 critique groups (2 online), and still managed to work on my own material while helping others improve theirs. Participating in three groups seemed daunting, but perhaps being an empty-nester has helped free up more time than I had in the past.

5.     I read hundreds of picture books and at least a dozen middle grade novels, along with a few young adult and adult ones (hello, Kate Morton, favorite author of The Lake House and Nicola Yoon who debuted in 2016 with Everything Everything, and then followed that one up with The Sun is Also a Star). 

6.     Attended a few conferences, like SCBWI's mid-year meeting in LA because I love visiting Cali and love working on the craft of children's writing even more, as well as Carol Lynch Williams' retreat for writers in March, and Picture Book Summit in October.

7.   I won marvelous critiques of 2 different picture book manuscripts through different opportunities from Twitter events. One was from author Diana Murray (@DianaMWrites) through @BrianGehrlein and his Picture Book Spotlight blog.  The other was from @DawnProchovnic via a nomination from Rebecca Gomez (@GomezWrites) that came out of @JustinRColon's #PBChat mentorship program. 

8.     Made progress on physical therapy with the goal of avoiding back surgery, which was advised. Toward that end, I swam 35 miles, walked 240 miles on the treadmill, and did numerous "exercises" over the course of the year (although most of that occurred in the last six-ish months when I started physical therapy). As I look at where I've come and how I'm feeling, I hoping I've been successful! Time will tell as I move through springtime in the new year.

I'll leave it there for my surprises and successes of 2019.  Cheers to finding your own in 2020!