The Character Flaw that will Eat you Alive

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I attended a funeral last week. The preacher made a comment that there are three characteristics that will destroy us. One is pride and another is anger. I don’t remember the third one because I was so stuck on pride and wrestling with my own shortcomings. The preacher’s comments made me check myself.

What is pride?

The Oxford Dictionary defines it as a feeling of deep satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. This is the obvious definition. This is pride with a capital P.

I liken this to the pride one feels when they receive a work promotion, a good grade on an exam, or when their favorite sports team wins a championship. This is also the type of pride that accompanies acceptance to a first-choice school, paying off your house, or finally purchasing the car that you saved and sacrificed so long for.

However, a secondary definition for pride is the consciousness of one’s own dignity and an inflated sense of self. This is the not-always-so-obvious definition.

Synonyms for this definition include ego and self-esteem. This version of pride is sneaky and inconspicuous. This is pride with a lowercase p.

What is this type of pride?

It’s keeping up with the Joneses.

It’s staying in an unhappy relationship solely because you’re afraid of what people will think if you leave.

This type of pride is feeling snubbed when you weren’t invited to the party.

It’s social climbing.

It’s being rude to waitstaff and insubordinates.

It’s not taking responsibility for your actions and, instead, shifting blame to someone else.

It’s a preoccupation with being right.

This pride is self-righteousness.

It’s buying the expensive item that is actually quite ugly, but you fork over the money anyway because it is a status symbol and you want to fit in.

It’s not admitting when you’re wrong and then apologizing.

This type of pride doesn’t ask for help. It envies other peoples’ wins. It uses gossip as a form of connection. It holds onto grudges for dear life.

This is the pride that will eat you alive.

This is also the pride that is hard to avoid. Shoot- I like having nice things. I like being right. I like the feeling of punishment that holding a grudge can offer. I like career status.

My humanity leaves so much room for this sin.

There’s a reason pride is one of the seven deadly sins. I’d even argue that pride is the worst because if you think about it, the rest of the sins- envy, greed, lust, anger, covetousness, and sloth- are all rooted in pride and ego.

How can we work on this? Through the opposite of pride, which is humility. It’s putting our faith in God and Him alone. Pride is a liar- it wants us to believe that everything depends on us. It wants to convince us that our goal is to experience human success, riches, and popularity. But these things will never fulfill us the way they think they will. The path to trusting God is with humility. Humility might cost us something, but it’s worth the price. ❤️

    Meet SYLTBAR: low-calorie, low-sugar, environmentally sustainable wines that taste great

    Syltbar low calorie low sugar fine wines | The Champage Supernova

    I love wine. I love drinking it, I love pairing it with meals, and I love sharing it with my friends and family.

    What I do not love is the commercialization of the wine industry. I prefer to support growers who farm organically and sustainably. When wine is made the way nature intended, it tastes pure and clean, without the bad side effects like feeling awful the next day.

    I’m going to be transparent: with all this Covonavirus madness and trying to work remotely while homeschooling my Kindergartener and second grader, I’ve been drinking a “LITTLE” more wine than usual.

    Okay, a lot.

    But here’s the thing: I love the taste of SYLTBAR, it has low sugar content and calories, and I have NEVER felt bad the next day after enjoying some (unlike most other wines.) I have been telling EVERYONE about SYLTBAR.

    How is SYLTBAR different? It contains very low sugar, is low on sulfites, and it’s vegan. It’s also affordable, with prices ranging from $19.99 to $29.99 per bottle.

    Did you know that alcoholic beverages aren’t required to carry nutrition facts labels, so the calories in a bottle of wine can be a mystery.

    The amout of calories in wine varies, depending on the type of grape used, how long the wine was fermented, and the amount of sugar added to the product. To help eliminate some of the mystery, the United States Department of Agriculture has come up with an average caloric content for various types of wine.

    What is it? Get ready everyone!

    Red table wine: 125 calories per 5 oz glass, or 625 calories in a bottle.

    Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon: 122 calories per 5 oz glass, or 610 calories in a bottle.

    Zinfandel: 129 calories per 5 oz glass, or 605 calories in a bottle.

    White table wine: 121 calories per 5 oz glass, or 605 calories in a bottle.

    Riesling: 118 calories per 5 oz glass, or 595 calories in a bottle.

    Sauvignon Blanc: 119 calories per 5 oz glass, or 595 calories in a bottle.

    Chardonnay: 123 calories per 5 oz glass, or 615 calories in a bottle.

    Are you a fan of dessert wine? There is 165 calories per 3.5 oz glass.

    One of the reasons SYLTBAR is so great is because it contains less calories!

    SYLTBAR fine wines low calorie cabernet franc fruilano pinot grigio low sugar | The Champagne Supernova
    SYLTBAR fine wines: Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio, Friulano, and Pinot Grigio Ramato.

    The SYLTBAR Pinot Grigio– available ONLY at the SYLTBAR website- is light, airy and fresh from which its name was inspired. It is 100% naturally produced from Friuli, Italy, and contains only 125 calories per 6 oz glass. (Note the figures above reflecting calorie counts for the average wine are for 5 oz glasses and not 6 like SYLTBAR.)

    SYLTBAR’s Friulano is the Sauvignon Blanc of Italy. This white wine is dry, fresh and elegant, with low acidity, balanced by a pleasing roundness and a good structure. There are only 125 calories per 6 oz glass.

    The SYLTBAR Cabernet Franc, made from 100% Carmenère Grape , is an intense full bodied red wine, harmonious with round tannins. This is my #1 FAVORITE SYLTBAR wine, which tastes as smooth as cashmere. There are 115 calories per 6 oz glass of Cabernet Franc.

    SYLTBAR Junior is the Pinot Grigio traditionally made in the 1970’s style by leaving the Skin on for one night to macerate. Not only does this change the color to apricot, but the wine also has more character than the Pinot Grigio we are used to. It contains more decisive and evolved aromatic notes in a young wine, which is unusual. The people who say “I don’t like Pinot Grigio” should try out Junior. Best of all, there are only 98 calories per 6 oz glass.

    SYLTBAR low calorie low sugar prosecco sparkling rose | The Champagne Supernova
    Mrs. and Mr. SYLTBAR sparkling rose and premium prosecco.

    Mr. SYLTBAR, otherwise known as Premium Prosecco, is straw-colored with notes of pear, golden apple, and white peach with a hint of lemon. It is comprised of 100% Glera Grape with 49 calories per 6 oz glass. (The entire 23 oz bottle packs just under 200 calories!)

    Mrs. SYLTBAR, their Sparkling Rose, is light pink with notes of citrus and lychee. It is made of 100% Merlot Grape and there are 63 calories per 6 oz glass. (The entire bottle contains just under 250 calories!)

    Not only does SYLTBAR produce quality wines, but it is also involved in Green Project, which is a set of actions put forward to contribute to the environmental sustainability of their business. “Social liability” has always guided our wine producer, shaping their line of work with maximum respect for the communities in which the winery operates.

    US Wines - not organicMost people don’t realize the bad side effects of commercial wines are caused by toxins added during the farming and manufacturing processes. Most of the wines you are buying in stores are farmed with chemicals like Roundup, irrigated water, and genetically modified yeast. This results in high doses of added sulfites, loads of sugars, and higher alcohol levels.

    The U.S. wine industry has spent TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS lobbying politicians to keep contents label off of wine. Manufactures are not required to list their ingredients on the label. Because wine is not regulated by the FDA, wine makers are not required to list their ingredients on the label. This means that a bottle of wine (even the most expensive, highly rated wines) can contain up to 72 “ allowed” additives.

    It’s a little known fact that 52 % of all the wines manufactured in the U.S. are made by just THREE companies. They hide behind boutique labels, but their wine is manufactured in enormous facilities. Not only are you paying for these additives, but you are also putting these toxins in your body, like mega purple coloring dye, fish bladders (used to filter the juice), and corn syrup.

    Rather than support the junk food equivalent of the wine industry, the makers of SYLTBAR decided to travel the world to find and support the natural wine makers. SYLTBAR wine is made the way nature intended. With only healthy grapes and wild yeast, you get a pure wine that doesn’t have the nasty effects (like bloating and headaches.)

    Elle can’t wait to turn 21 so she can enjoy SYLTBAR, too!

    You can find MR. and MRS. SYLTBAR (prosecco and sparkling rose) at your local Whole Foods Market, Total Wine & More, Redneck Wine in Tampa, and on their website. Due to limited production, SYLTBAR’s fine wines are available ONLY on their website.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, SYLTBAR is grateful to continue offering wines shipped directly and safely to your door with contactless delivery.

    I highly encourage all of my wine drinking friends to give SYLTBAR a try.


      The Dutch House

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      The Dutch House by Ann Patchett review | The Champagne Supernova

      From the New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth and State of Wonder, is Ann Patchett’s story that illustrates the bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a haunting past that will not let them go. The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs into questions of inheritance, love and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves, and of who we really are.

      At the end of the WWII, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin a real estate empire, propelling his family from rags to riches. His endeavor is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Meant to surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

      The narrator is Cyril’s son Danny (performed by Tom Hanks if you’re listening on Audible), as he and his older sister, Maeve, are exiled from their childhood home by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is each other. It is this bond between them that saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

      Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a story about two people who cannot overcome their past. It includes a mother who disappeared, a father who remarried a woman with two daughters, and the loss of the father who drops dead from a heart attack. Think Cinderella, where the stepmother shows her true colors before exiling Maeve to a room on the third floor and, eventually, kicking Danny out of the house while he is in high school.

      Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his protective sister is finally tested.

      So here is the cold, hard truth. I did not love this book. It was like “The Never Ending Story” with no real character development and no climax, just a long narrative about these siblings’ dysfunctional lives. There was nothing special.

      I didn’t find either of the two main characters to be particularly likeable and Patchett made it hard to empathize with them because she never let us into their heads. It was not a page turner- just a book I wanted to finish for the sake of finishing and checking it off my mental list.

      I recently read “Commonwealth” by the same author and she did the same exact thing. Just a book 100 pages too long about a dysfunctional family and no plot or climax. She is a gifted writer, no doubt, but a poor storyteller.

      This book is available at all major retailers, to include Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

      Did you read it? What did you think?

        The Sun Down Motel

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        If you like murder mysteries and ghost stories, this is your book.

        I give it four stars.

        Simone St. James‘ “The Sun Down Motel” was a Book of the Month club selection and I, judging a book by the cover, totally wanted to read it because of the cover. (I love old Americana 1960s-style motels- not staying in them, just looking at them.)

        The story is about a woman, the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in a remote city in upstate New York, who goes missing without a trace in 1982. Thirty five years later, her niece goes looking for her. She accepts a night clerk position at the Sun Down Motel, and things start getting weird. The Sun Down Motel is like two books in one, with chapters alternating between the aunt’s perspective in 1982 and the niece’s perspective in 2018.

        This story is 326 pages and a page-turner.

        If you enjoy watching Dateline or Snapped, this is definitely for you. I normally don’t like scary books, but this was just scary enough to feel satisfying without compromising my ability to sleep.

          The Tattooist of Auschwitz

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          I finished this book in 24 hours.

          I typically avoid Holocaust genres because the topic is horrifyingly disturbing and I see enough sad things every day at work. But this got so many great reviews and many of my readers (YOU) raved about it, so I had to try. It was wonderful.

          The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a true story about the love between Lale Sokolov and Gita Furman, two Jewish prisoners sent to Auschwitz and the neighboring camp, Birkenau, during WWII. When Lale is tasked with tattooing identification numbers on his fellow prisoners, he reluctantly takes the position, mainly because it has perks (extra food rations) that allow him to help his friends. There he meets Gita, a Jewish prisoner from Slovakia, and together they rely on their love to find a glimmer of hope in a sorrowful place.

          I read this book while I was on vacation at the beach and it made me realize how thankful I am to never (PLEASE GOD) see this type of horror in my life when so many can’t say the same. I can’t believe human beings could ever be convinced to treat other humans this way.

          Concentration camps were filled with Jews, Gypsies (e.g. Romany ethnicity), criminals, and political prisoners. Some camps were work camps and other camps were created for the sole purpose of killing humans. In this novel, Heather Morris illustrates how Sokolov and his Jewish companions were required to “report for work” in various cities during the early part of the 1940s. From those cities, they were herded like cattle into filthy trains and transported to various concentration camps. Upon “check in”, they were stripped of all their possessions- including the clothes on their backs and any belongings they came with- had their heads shaved (even women), and assigned numbers that were tattooed on their left arms for identification purposes. They were crammed into barracks, starved, raped, and forced to work. Those too tired to work or who became ill were shot as the Nazis considered them better off dead. “Doctors” came to the camps to perform “experiments” on the prisoners, which included castration and eye-gouging.

          The Nazis removed prisoners from Auschwitz and Birkenau only after Russian troops began closing in on the area. These malnourished and weak prisoners were lined up and sent on “death marches,” where they had to walk in freezing weather to other camps in Germany and Austria. Ones who warily lagged behind were shot dead.

          This books tells the tale of survival of Lale and Gita. (Spoiler alert: the story line will give you a hangover from the happy ending.)

          I was born in 1982 and can’t believe atrocities of this nature- which you might expect from the dark ages- happened 40 years before I was alive and in our grandparents’ generations.

          This book was only 250 pages… very easy to read and short paragraphs- you won’t wan to put it down.

          Order yours here for under $10 in paperback.

            The Giver of Stars

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            The Giver of Stars | The Champagne Supernova

            I recommend this book. Five stars!

            The Giver of Stars, a historical fiction set in in Depression-era America, chronicles the lives of female librarians in a small town in Kentucky’s Appalachian mountains. The real-life WPA Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky program, part of the New Deal and a project spotlighted by Eleanor Roosevelt as beneficial to women and children, lasted from 1935-1943, delivering books via horseback to rural inhabitants of Kentucky to promote literacy to the country’s poorest and often forgotten. The women face the adversity of a town hellbent on determining what women can and can’t do, both in their public and private lives. Themes of friendship, the complications of marriage and family, corporate greed, racism, and overall inequality fill the pages of this novel.

            The book is around 390 pages and the first 100 were slow. Not necessarily boring, just slow. Hang in there, because it gets good! Once it got going, I had to will myself into putting it down. If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, you will definitely enjoy this one.

            I love historical fictions and had NO IDEA the Pack Horse library was even a thing. It’s hard to imagine what these real-life heroines went through to deliver books in snow and rough terrain with little pay.

            This is the first time I’ve ever read a Jojo Moyes’ book. Several years ago, one of my girlfriends urged me to read “Me Before You” (which subsequently became a movie), but at the time, I wasn’t making reading a priority. (Shame!)

            The Giver of Stars was chosen as Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club selection in November of 2019. (I know I review many of Reese’s Book Club selections, but it’s purely coincidental. Her choices tend to be “hit or miss” and I don’t base my selections from them.)

            Have you read this? What did you think?

              Sing, Unburied Sing

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              I give Sing, Unburied Sing a 4 stars out of 5.

              This is a gut-wrenching story about a biracial thirteen year-old boy, JoJo, set in modern-day Mississippi.

              His black mother is a junkie. His white father is in prison. His paternal grandparents will not acknowledge him because he is black. His maternal grandmother is dying of cancer while his grandfather- the only constant in his life- is barely scraping by to make ends meet. The family is impoverished and JoJo must grow up quickly to care for his three year-old sister, Kayla.

              When JoJo’s father is scheduled to be released from prison, his mother takes him and Kayla and her bad-influence co-worker, Misty, on a trip upstate to pick him up. On the way, they stop for meth and get pulled over by a police officer. That’s not the half of it.

              This story broke my heart- mainly because there are so many kids like JoJo who have terrible lives by no fault of their own. It shows the complicated relationship between JoJo’s biological parents, the dynamic of racism in our modern society, the idea of belonging, and the connection of family.

              This book was an easy read- only 280something pages and the font was large- I had to keep checking to makes sure I didn’t accidentally order the large font version. (I didn’t- it just came that way.)

              Jesmyn Ward is a vivid storyteller. I’d like to read more of her work.

              I chose this book as part of my monthly membership with Book of the Month Club. For a small fee, you get to choose one book each month, ranging from the classics to new books.

              Have you read this? What were your thoughts?

                The Paris Wife

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                This is a great read- I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

                The Paris Wife is a historical fiction about the marriage between Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway. Hadley was Ernest’s first wife out of four. It is a well-researched book about how they met, their marriage, and the life they created together in Paris in the 1920s when Ernest was still an unknown author.

                This is no secret, but Ernest left Hadley for her best friend, Pauline Pfeiffer. The story illustrates the truly complicated nature of their dynamic and how Ernest (a complicated, longsuffering person himself) loved them both. Spoiler alert: he wanted to stay married to Hadley, but have Pauline live with them as his side lover just like one big happy family. (AS IF!) When Hadley wouldn’t go along with it, she told him she’d give him a divorce if he wouldn’t communicate with Pauline for 100 days. (She wanted to see if his feelings for her waned during the time off.)

                While it’s easy to hear this set of facts and think “to heck with both of those A@@,” the book illustrates how the affair crushed Hadley because not only was she losing her husband, but she lost her best friend. It also illustrates the pain Pauline felt for being in love with her best friend’s husband while wanting to maintain the friendship. Oh, and that Ernest was sort of a pig.

                Some takeaways: love, life, marriage, and fame can be complicated and torturous. Just because someone seems to have it all on the outside doesn’t mean they have it all on the inside.

                Ernest- while a gifted author- did not have an easy life. He had a domineering mother and suicide was rampant in his family, with his father, brother, and sister all killing themselves.

                Hadley Richardson- while ostensibly pedigreed and coming from good stock- also saw a lot of tragedy. Her father killed himself when she was younger after he lost family money and her pregnant sister died from burns associated with a household fire.

                Ernest had problems with alcoholism could never be truly happy. Nothing was ever enough- likely why his marriages never lasted.

                During their time in Paris, the Hemingways hobnobbed with famous authors, to include F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby. He was another strange bird.

                This is a great gift for history buffs, art buffs, Hemingway fans, etc. 

                Have you read this or any of author Paula McLain‘s other work? What did you think?

                  Rules of Civility

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                  I loved this book and give it 4 stars.

                  “On New Years’ Eve in 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast–rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.

                  Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire, and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is ahead of her time, and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets.”

                  Rules of Civility was thought provoking and the way things unfolded with Tinker Grey threw me for a loop. It got me thinking about what would constitute a “deal breaker” in someone I was dating. It also got me to thinking about how I’ve judged peoples’ lifestyles without hearing their side of the story.

                  The story involves twists with four major players the main character encounters.

                  I ordinarily wouldn’t have read a book like this (not too interested in New York high society) but it got good reviews on Goodreads and the author, Amor Towles, received wide acclaim for another book, a Gentleman in Moscow. (By the way, this is his first book and the writing is outstanding.)

                  Rules of Civility demonstrates how people are often not the same on the inside as they appear on the outside.

                  Have you read this? What did you think?

                    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

                    I initially was not was not was not was NOT excited about reading this book.

                    Maybe because the cover reminded me of the cover of “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” and I wasn’t a fan of that book. Maybe because the description I read online didn’t grab me. Maybe because many of the other books from Reese Witherspoon’s book club have been disappointing.

                    However, I gave it a shot because I *serendipitously* found it in a hotel library and it was free.

                    But I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and give it 4 stars out of 5. ⭐️

                    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the 2017 debut work of Gail Honeyman, and the winner of the 2017 Costa Debut Novel Award. The novel focuses on 29-year-old Eleanor Oliphant, a social misfit who becomes obsessed with a singer she sees performing named Johnnie Lomond, whom she believes she is destined to be with. The novel deals with themes of isolation, loneliness, friendship, and coming to terms with the past.

                    The gist: a socially awkward woman makes peace with a traumatic childhood. The writing is hilarious and the character is relatable- maybe because I, too, am socially awkward. ELEANOR, IF YOU WERE A REAL PERSON, I WOULD SO BE YOUR FRIEND IN REAL LIFE. This is an easy read (you don’t need your thinking cap) and short (around 300 pages.) This book was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. ?

                    Did you read this? Let me know your thoughts.

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