2017 Reading List: vol. 8

If you don’t already know, I love to find and read blogs. I love when I can connect with someone else’s life. I love to read their stories and gain insight from their experiences. At some point, I came across Gretchen Rubin’s website about happiness. Gretchen is a professional researcher and writer, and she had written a book called The Happiness Project. Ever since discovering her blog and hearing about her book, I’ve wanted to read it.

The Happiness Project is the culmination of Gretchen’s own personal year of experimentation whereby she attempts to make herself happier within her own ordinary life by making small daily changes. She sets up her year as a series of resolutions. She has twelve themes to correspond with each calendar month and within each theme, there are certain things she commits to doing to help her achieve the goal of becoming happier. She didn’t want to change her whole life, uproot her family, change careers or take drastic measures. She just wanted to see how a few small things would affect her overall happiness.

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2017 Reading List: vol. 7

I’m so invested in the lives of the characters from the Throne of Glass series that I couldn’t wait until September for the next book to come out. I placed a hold on a digital copy of The Assassin’s Blade, the collection of short novellas that collectively make up a prequel to the series. As soon as the book landed in my account, I raced through the stories, soaking up every detail.

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How a simple book is changing the way I approach life

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I’ve been thinking about my vision recently. My purpose in life. My manifesto. What do I believe in? What do I stand for? What do I value in life?

It’s a surprisingly difficult thing to articulate. I understand why brands and businesses have such a hard time writing their mission statement or describing their goals or their brand voice. It’s difficult to put into words what we believe in.

I just finished this book called Start With Why and it talked all about how successful leaders and businesses don’t just sell products, they sell a WHY. They sell their beliefs. They get people to believe what they believe and in turn, those people buy their products. Even though the book focused on businesses and business leaders, this is clearly important for regular people too. Individuals need a WHY.

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2017 Reading List: vol. 6

I just finished a book called Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek.

At first I didn’t like it. When I read inspirational type nonfiction books, I unrealistically expect them all to write like Malcom Gladwell, who is my favorite. I love the way Gladwell tells stories, gives details, and really explains his point in a way that makes you think “oh my God, that makes so much sense.”

But Sinek is not Gladwell, so I was disappointed at first with the style of writing. Even after finishing the book, I’ll tell you that the style of writing is not my favorite. But the point he drives home is clear. His book was thought-provoking. His message was obvious. His argument, if you could call it an argument, makes total and utter sense.

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2017 Reading List: vol. 5

I recently devoured Empire of Storms, book #5 in Sarah Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Devoured. Because that’s how I feel when I can’t stop turning pages and can’t put the book down because I am so hungry for the next chapter, the next scene, the next cliffhanger that will keep me up at night and thinking about it all day long. I feel as if I can’t get enough and I’ll never be satiated. I read books like these so quickly because I get obsessed but then I’m surprised and annoyed when I’ve finished it because I wanted the book to last forever.

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2017 Reading List: vol. 4

I love to read books that my mom, friends and co-workers recommend. (I read an interesting blog post today about “the imitation game” but that’s a story for another time.)

Remember the last time my mom gave me a book to read? I was not disappointed. So when my mom handed me John Irving’s Avenue of Mysteries, I happily hefted it home and lined it up in my queue. But there’s a reason that it’s now mid-March and I’m just getting to writing this review – because it took me this long to finish it.

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How my attitude toward homeownership has changed

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I read back through one of my notebooks this morning while I was drinking my morning coffee, in my effort to stay away from social media. It’s a notebook I have to just jot things down as I think of them. More often it turns into to-do lists and appointment dates, but every once in awhile I write a few pages of whatever is on my mind.

At the beginning of this notebook was some writing from when we’d first moved into our house. I was amazed reading about how overwhelmed I felt at the time. I felt like everything was going wrong, I felt like everything needed to be done all at once, and I felt like I needed a bunch of stuff.

I wanted new things and nice things. I wanted things to not be broken. I wanted the new house to feel like it was my own, and not a hand-me-down filled with hand-me-downs. I had such high expectations for how my home should look.

It’s amazing how my attitude has changed so drastically in the past year. I now know that things will get done when they get done. And not everything is a dire emergency. Some things will just have to wait because we don’t have the money and other things come up that were not even planned. And whatever is in my house is not the source of joy or happiness.  Continue reading

Finding My Voice

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Last night, I had a dream that I was a student. Fairly typical, classroom-style setting. There were about 20 students in the class and the teacher was calling students up one by one to speak about a topic they were passionate about. I was sitting in a chair, dreading the moment I would be singled out to speak. I was finally called up and all eyes were on me. I stood in front of the class and turned toward my fellow classmates, their expectant, eager faces looking up at me.

And I had nothing to say. 

I had zero ideas. There were no words that I could summon. Nothing.

And slowly, the teacher’s face turned to a look of disappointment. The students were mocking me. They all had great ideas and opinions. And I had nothing.

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On challenges and making lifestyle changes that stick

There’s just something about a challenge. A goal with the end in sight. The lure of accomplishment. The feeling that you are joining the ranks of others who have accepted the challenge. The camaraderie amongst those who have achieved the same goal.

At the beginning of January, I decided that I wanted to dive right into some of those goals that I talked about. So I took on some month-long challenges.

These 30-day challenges are supposed to help us jumpstart something hard. If we can make a change for 30 days, then that change is likely to stick with us beyond one month. 30 days can make an impact, even if we can’t stick with it long-term.

While there are lots of month-long, 30-day challenges out there, I ended up dabbling in three that I felt were priority for me. I decided on an Uber Frugal Month, a month of yoga and a month of 5 daily workout moves.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: vol. 3

In a Dark Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware

My mom lent me this book after the holidays and said it was pretty good. We generally like a lot of the same books, so if she says I should read something, I take her advice.

This book is set in England and follows the character, Nora, aka Lee, as she attends a bachelorette party for her estranged high school friend. The bachelorette party is – you guessed it – in a dark, dark wood, at a mutual friend’s family vacation home. Nora isn’t sure why she’s invited to this party since she hasn’t spoken to the bride in ten years, but she decides to go anyway with  her friend Nina. There are six of them staying in the house out in the woods, and it gets creepy from there. And even though Nora soon finds out why she was invited, she’s still not sure she belongs there or why she even came.  Continue reading