What I’m Into (March 2015)

Birthday Trip out of the house

Birthday Trip out of the house


Remember March? I know, I know, I’m so late for this What I’m Into. It may be a record. March is totally, y’know, so last month.
Nevertheless, I’m stopping by to share the delights of this feisty month. Here’s what I was into:
Birthday: I had a birthday this month, and aged another year. It was the perfect birthday: a lunch out with Jon, followed by a brief push-walk by the sea, and collecting my boy from school for the first time ever. I could smell cut grass, sea spray, warm wind: the scents of Spring.

The sun, at the point of greatest eclipse

The sun, at the point of greatest eclipse


Eclipse excitement: Like the rest of the country, I realised at the eleventh hour that I wanted to witness a meteorological phenomenon – the partial (80/90%?) eclipse of the sun. An amazing friend stepped in and somehow got us all special eclipse glasses (on the black market?), so we could watch the sun together, coloured in pencil-crayon orange against a black sky, being slowly munched by the moon. Bizarrely, without the glasses, the sun looked exactly the same, maybe a little paler (see photo above). With the glasses, it was a mere slit of light, occluded by the moon.
It was the first time I had seen an eclipse, and it was an amazing experience, all the more surreal for having two exuberant children running around the front lawn while we told them to sit down and watch a once-in-twenty-years event.

I may have got a little excited about the solar eclipse.

I may have got a little excited about the solar eclipse.


On writing:

  • Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg – I have been going through this book with friends as a book club, reading a few of the ultra-short chapters each time, and doing creative exercises together. It is perfect for writers. She is my very favourite author for the craft of writing; whenever my writing is sluggish or uninspired, she gets me going again. If you’re going to get any book by Goldberg, I would start with Wild Mind, but this is an excellent follow-up. Highly recommended. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

Christian books:

  • Outside In – Cindy Brandt. I thoroughly enjoyed this intelligent, thoughtful book on the voices that are so often excluded from church for being ‘too doubtful, too sad, too old, or too disabled etc’ . It was a wonderful surprise to see my own name quoted in the chapter for on disability, and the whole book is full of great quotes and insight. It’s a nice length: about 90 pages, very readable, and best of all it’s FREE on her website. Don’t think that just because it’s free it’s lower quality than paid books, it’s incredibly well-written, and a fantastic voice for the church. I interviewed Cindy here, and you can sign up for her book FREE here. Highly recommended. To buy it, get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
  • Lineage of grace – Francine Rivers. I keep looking for well-written retellings of the Bible stories, and she is the bestselling and most well-known author in this genre. This book retells the stories of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary, mother of Jesus. There’s lots to love in this book: she has a real knack of bringing the Bible world to life, with interesting cultural and contextual details that you miss when you read the Bible story. I absolutely loved her retelling of Tamar’s story, which brings out the drama and cruelty of Judah’s actions. However, I wasn’t wholly convinced of her interpretation of the other characters’ stories: they tend towards trying to crowbar in a love story where there isn’t one, and she attempts to make Bathsheba complicit and guilty in what is essentially David’s sin, which made me feel quite uncomfortable. Read it for the good storytelling and well-imagined Biblical culture, but be aware that her retellings feel quite anti-feminist. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.



  • Run – Ann Patchett. I am becoming Ann Patchett’s biggest fan, and am a little concerned that I’m running out of her books left to read. This one was about two families – one rich, one poor – thrown together via a car accident, discovering they are more closely connected than they originally thought. Like all her books, she paints the internal world of all her characters so well, and I devoured this book in a few days, because her writing is just so delicious. Highly recommended. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
  • The Three Musketeers – still making my way through this beast, still enjoying it.


Fitness resource:
  • Fitbit Charge HR – This is one of those smart fitness devices that you put on your wrist, measuring number of steps taken, how many floors climbed, calories burnt, hours of sleep and quality of sleep, and this heart rate (HR) version also continuously measures your heart rate, so you can see how many minutes of the day you’ve spent in aerobic/fatburning/cardiac zones. I wanted to keep track of how many steps I was walking, and to keep an eye on my heart rate. Most people would want to maximise their steps, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it. I really wanted to love it, because it promises so much. The heart rate monitor was roughly accurate, and I found it useful to track my resting pulse every day, and see how much of the day I’d spent with my heart rate over 100bpm. However:
    • the step counter was wildly inaccurate. I would count my steps from the bedroom to the bathroom, check my Fitbit, and see that it had counted about three times as much. When I woke up after a night’s sleep I had apparently walked 70 steps (I don’t sleepwalk).
    • the battery needed charging every 2-3 days for 2 hours, rather than lasting for the promised 5 days.
    • The sleep measurement wasn’t very accurate. Perhaps someone who isn’t mainly bed bound would have a more accurate reading, but it kept recording me asleep when I was awake.
    • Unfortunately, after three weeks the battery stopped charging, at which point I gave up and returned it.

If anyone has an alternative suggestion for a device that continuously measures (and records?) heart rate, plus an accurate step-counter, I would be very grateful! Get FitBit Charge HR from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

  • George EzraWanted on Voyage. He’s everywhere at the moment, but loving his deep and mysterious vocals. I can see why it’s a bestseller. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
  • The Lumineers– folky-cool, kinda love, kinda got a bit samey. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.


  • The Dark Knight – I’m late here, but Heath Ledger as The Joker really is remarkable. One of the most terrifying villains ever. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
  • Anastasia – I tried hard to like this Disney film, because I love the real-life story of Anastasia, but I think I may have come to it too late: it left me cold. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.


In the blogosphere:
  • America’s IOM panel finally came back with their recommended name and diagnostic criteria for ME – I hope to write more on this soon.
  • I love this website – literary gifts for writers 


It was a great month for good writing on feminism and women:


I was honoured to be chosen as a monthly contributor for new collaborative blog, The Mudroom. If you’re missing Prodigal Magazine and A Deeper Story, I reckon you’ll love this. There are some amazing writers here, telling stories of God and faith in the mess of life, and it is a thrill to be part of it. Make sure you sign up to get updates.


On my blog: 
I was thrilled by the reception of my Armed with Tears post at She Loves for their Dangerous Women series and my debut post for The Mudroom; shared a vulnerable part of my life in The Memory Keeper; had a guest God and Suffering story by Susie Ford; and chatted about the spirituality of the body with Tara Owens. 


ALSO – my book, Coming Back to God When You Feel Empty is now on Wordery! I really love Wordery as an Amazon-alternative – do check it out (free delivery with every order).  People are saying nice things about my book at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and I am unbelievably grateful for every positive review – it really makes a difference in getting the book out. Thank you, one and all.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for her magnificent What I’m Into Linkup.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means if you click through to Amazon from this site and buy absolutely anything in the world, you help this site, at no extra cost to you. 
Over to you: 

  • What were you into in March? (All that time ago)



26 Responses to What I’m Into (March 2015)

  1. Miriam 26th April, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    I love reading your monthly updates! It makes me think I should do something similar just for myself so that I can see life isn’t as unrelenting & monotonous as it sometimes seems.

    A very happy belated birthday to you! It sounds like you had a lovely day. I Love your fur coat! 🙂

    I also really enjoyed the hilarious & light Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix & more recently I also loved the dark brooding Daredevil series. I’ve been slowly working my way through Pain Redeemed by Natasha Metzler a Bible Study book that tells the story of the pain & struggle of her infertility. I’d highly recommend it. Its extremely relevant to the pain & suffering of chronic illness too and it has hit on many of the things I struggle with. There’s a lot to absorb though so I’m going slowly!

    • Tanya 30th April, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

      Thanks for this little note, Miriam! I definitely think you should do a ‘what I’m Into’ or equivalent – I think you’re right, it does help to break the monotony. (I hadn’t thought that until you said it!)

      EVERYONE is talking about this Kimmy Schmidt thing. I feel the need to get Netflix. We’re on a Sky TV package, but I wonder if it would be better to switch.

      That Pain Redeemed sounds really good- I’ll look out for it.

      • Miriam 30th April, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

        Natasha writes a blog that you might enjoy, although the book is available on amazon. It reminds me a little of your book in that it is Bible study entwined with her story.

        • Tanya 21st June, 2015 at 10:53 am #

          Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Vicky Beeching 23rd April, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

    I always love reading your posts! 🙂

  3. Vicky Beeching 23rd April, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

    I always love reading your ‘What I’m Into’ posts! A fun glimpse into your daily life 🙂

    • Tanya 30th April, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

      Whenever I’m in danger of thinking, ‘is doing these posts just majorly self indulgent?’ I remind myself, ‘hey, Vicky likes them!’ Thanks, friend. 🙂

  4. Mark Allman 20th April, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

    I like all things associated with the sun, moon, and stars and our universe. I hope one day I could go see the Northern Lights.
    You should check out Gotham… it has been very good with a great development of Batman characters when Batman was just a boy. looking forward to Orphan Blacks third season.
    Read a very interesting book called Lexicon where words were weapons. Dark but very interesting and take on use of language.

    • Tanya 30th April, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

      Oo – Northern Lights! I really hope for you that you get to see them one day.

      We have been watching Gotham!! I really love it (though there are occasions where it just gets a bit too horror-esque and I have to look away from the TV and get Jon to tell me what’s just happened.

      That Lexicon book sounds like a really interesting concept. Thanks for telling me what you’re into!

  5. Amy Boucher Pye 20th April, 2015 at 8:58 am #

    Just love that photo of you with the solar eclipse. We missed it – my daughter was having her ballet exam, but it was too cloudy in London anyway. The vintage fur rocks!

    Sorry to hear the Fitbit charge HR is wonky. I’ve been thinking of getting one, as I love, love, love my Fitbit One, and I’d love to track how my heart rate is during workouts. But I’ve hesitated as it’s a lot of dosh when I already have a Fitbit One. Sorry that it wasn’t successful for you – and your needs.

    • Tanya 30th April, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, and the fur appreciation!

      How do you find the accuracy of the FitBit One? I guess I’m hoping for a super-accurate step-counter because my range is so small. But I don’t know if you can do it on a wrist gadget.

      On the upside of the Charge HR, the HR bit was really good! Let me know if you do get it, and how it works out for you.

      • Amy Boucher Pye 30th April, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

        I’d hate to recommend the fitbit one for super accuracy, because I think sometimes it tracks fewer steps than what I’ve done. I notice when I’m at the end of the day and want to reach my target, and I do a lot of walking round the house and sometimes the steps don’t measure. I wonder if the one is better than the wristband devices though? I wear mine (TMI?) tucked into my bra. I’ve wondered how a wristband device measures a step if you’re moving your arm. But I’ve measured the school run against what my fitbit tracks, and it seems close.

        • Tanya 21st June, 2015 at 10:53 am #

          Maybe I should use a fitbit in my bra instead of my wristband?? how do they work??

          • Amy Boucher Pye 21st June, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

            I have the fitbit one, which is small and oblong and has a clip. (It’s not the wristband style.) Therefore it clips onto my bra (facing inward in any cleavage area!). I don’t know if it’s therefore more accurate? I do notice that sometimes it doesn’t record some of my steps.

  6. Rebecka 19th April, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    Yay, I’m so, so happy you had a lovely birthday! 🙂 And I love the photo of you watching the eclipse! We couldn’t really see it here, it was too cloudy.

    I’ve been thinking about getting a Fitbit, since my heart rate monitor says I don’t have a pulse (which I’m fairly certain I still do) but now I think I’ll save my money. So, thank you for that!

    I began March by watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt which made me giggle a whole lot. Although, the first half of the series was a lot funnier than the second or at least I thought so. This was my favourite scene:

    March was also when I discovered Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, especially their latest album Medicine which I’ve been singing along to. When no one is around to hear me, that is. 😉

    • Rebecka 20th April, 2015 at 8:25 am #

      Ooops, I forgot the link to the clip! Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFuPixjzm8Q

    • Tanya 30th April, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

      Thanks, lovely lady!
      Ha – I love the iPhone 6 scene – so true!
      EVERYONE is talking about Kimmy Schmidt. I feel so left out! I need to fix that. I’ll get chatting to Jon…
      Rubbish heart rate monitor! Which one do you have? I have an oximeter which has a habit of saying I have no oxygen in my blood, when clearly I do. I think it’s just that there’s not an awful lot of blood going to my finger!

      I’m so sad about the FitBit HR. Part of me wants to get another, just to see if it would work this time… I so want it to work!!

      • Rebecka 2nd May, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

        I have a Sigma somelettersandnumbers. It only works when I’m resting flat on my back, but that’s not when I need it!

        Ha, I have no pulse and you have no oxygen in your blood. Are you sure we’re alive? 😉

        • Tanya 21st June, 2015 at 10:57 am #

          Ha! We defy every medical characterisation. Awesome.

  7. Gail 19th April, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    Thank you for mentioning The Junia Project! So glad you’re enjoying Feminist Fridays:)

    • Tanya 30th April, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

      It’s my pleasure – I’m a huge fan!

  8. lulu 19th April, 2015 at 7:44 pm #

    Nothing really exciting happened in march (other than losing another stone apparently being almost 6ft and 7stone is NOT good esp wen you lose that stone in 4 weeks oops). How can u not like Anastasia!!!! It was my favorite movie “ones upon a December” (see wat I did there)! But seriously its been my favorite animated movie since I was 5! Used to have it on DVD then i lost it then I found it again and I’ve lost it again. I was shocked to find it was a true story and I prefer the ending in the fantasy version.

    • Tanya 30th April, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

      HMMM… Losing a stone is not good – can you please try and fatten yourself up this month? Losing a stone does not happen accidentally. Eat, please!

      Lulu – because of your comment I caught up on Anastasia (the true story). I had always loved the story, growing up – the idea that someone could be a true princess, but no one believes them. I thought it was a perfect real-life tragedy.

      Then I found out that the person who thought she was Anastasia died, and her DNA showed no link to the Russian royal family. And then they also found the missing bodies of Anastasia and her brother. So no wonderful escape, secret identity, just plain and brutal destruction. I was gutted!!

      So – yes! – I also prefer the alternative Disney ending! (like so many things in life)

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