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5 Books That Are Worth Your Time

12 February 2018

I have become really very good at not finishing books in 2018. I guess I'm just at the point where I can sniff out a book I'm not going to like pretty early on and I don't want to drudge through the crap in the hopes that it will get better.

That means I'm not checking off a lot of books in my Goodreads goal, but my overall star rating so far this year is pretty dang high. Here are a few that I actually finished and enjoyed.

(I'll be linking up with Steph, Jana, & Anne.)

Beartown by Fredrik Backman:

This was my Reading FOMO pick that so many of you LOVED last year. I thought I was just reading about a town and the hockey team that would save the it from ruin, but it turned into this whole moral conundrum. 

It's the kind of book that makes you really look at yourself and ask yourself the question, "Which is more important, the one or the many?" in a whole new way.

I will say, that I wish there were less characters for me to keep track of. I understand that it's about an entire town and how they are each facing the same dilemma in different ways, but I have a difficult time truly connecting when I have to keep reminding myself who is who. 

The overall style ended up reminding me a lot of Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, so if you enjoyed that read I think you may enjoy this. Apparently there will be a sequel. Honestly though? I'm fine with where it ended. 
Culture is as much about what we encourage as what we permit.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey:

I didn't get around to reading the MMD December Book Club pick, but I did read this flight pairing. My hatred of snow runs pretty deep and, by default, so do locations that are known to be snowy. I do, however, love fairytales, so I sucked it up and decided to give this retelling a shot.

I'm so very glad that I did.

This is the perfect winter read. I kid you not, as soon as I closed the book I found myself wondering how plausible it would be to move to Alaska as try out farming. Am I too late? It's a very well written novel that you should fit in this month before spring arrives.

When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey:

I spent some time attempting to figure out how many books I owned, including those on Kindle. It's an outrageous number, so I let Goodreads pick one at random and this is what came up. 

I have no idea when or why or how I got this book, but I'm feeling rather pleased that we found one another. 

It's a slow read where not a ton seems to be happening, but the writing itself was so good. This is one of those books where I kept finding myself feeling like I knew what was going on but I was never quite sure. 

If you have any beliefs that maybe just maybe there is some sort of higher power in the universe then I think you could appreciate this read.
She cried because she understood that people don't weep because they're weak, but because they've been strong for too long.

50 Ways to Yay! by Alexi Panos:

(Big thanks to the publisher for allowing me access to this title via Netgalley.) 

This title sounds all kinds of fluffy, but I promise you the content is anything but. This book is ideal for those who are interested in finding ways to bring more joy into their lives, but don't really want to read all of the books to figure it out.

Panos provides 50 of the best ways found throughout the self-help section to cultivate more joy in your life. I'll be honest, I wish it was actually 52 ways, because this book is set up as a sort of workbook. It's one you'll want to immerse yourself in and spend some time applying each of the suggestions and I would even suggest making it a year-long journey where you try out one tool per week.

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin:

I am on a pretty consistent kick to improve myself and my habits. This read has been on my to-read list for the longest time, but when Janssen from Everyday Reading started discussing it on her Insta Stories, I got the push I needed to actually pick it up.

I am now slightly obsessed with Rubin's Four Tendencies and spend far too much time trying to analyze everyone around me. Rubin provides some great insight into what motivates people and provides you with some tools to try to help you crack the code to yourself.

This is a truly fascinating read that I would recommend to just about anyone, but especially to those who may have a habit they have wanted to start or stop and just can't seem to get it to stick. 
We won't make ourselves more creative and productive by copying other people's habits, even the habits of geniuses; we must know our own nature and what habits serve us best.

What kinds of books have you found yourself drawn to lately?

5 Books That Are Worth Your Time

What to do When You Feel Like You're Drowning

09 February 2018
Sayonara To-Do List!

To-do lists have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I made them in school to break assignments into chunks. I've used them at work to keep track of tasks. I've used them at home to remind myself to pay bills or complete the dreaded chore of cleaning the bathroom. 

Every night I would sit down and list out everything for the next day and I thought that this was making me more productive. I thought that these lists were keeping me sane and on top of things, but this year I have realized just how wrong I have been. 

Shortly after Gigi was born I found myself feeling overwhelmed. What a surprise, right? I had these ridiculous daily to-do lists and, sure enough, every night there would be multiple items on said list that were not checked off.

Instead of feeling a sense of accomplishment for all those little check-marks, all I could see were those things I hadn't checked off. I went to bed feeling like I was failing at my own life and the cycle continued.

During a late-night feeding session I realized that I needed a shift in my thinking.  My to-do lists were making me miserable. Maybe I should try just writing down what I accomplished during the day and recognize those little victories. So I did.

For the past year I have been writing down all of the things, both big and small, that I managed to accomplish during the day.

I'm realizing that I didn't actually need that physical to-do list to keep track of what needed to be done. I just needed to pay attention and be present in my life as it was happening. 

At the end of the week I take a moment to acknowledge myself and all that I managed to do. I'm happy to report that my house is somewhat clean, my kids are fed, and my world hasn't fallen apart.

I'm actually much less stressed out and so much more happy, so I hereby give you permission to tear up that to-do list and start a daily accomplished list instead.

When you're already feeling overwhelmed to-do lists can intensify that feeling and can make you feel like a failure. This simple change in how you approach lists will make you realize that you are a champion on those hard days.

Don't Forget! You're Beautiful. Ignore Your Inner Critic.

07 February 2018

In late 2016 I wrote in my journal that I wanted to try to look like a "more put-together grownup by age 30."

Since that time I have learned a decent amount about makeup. I've learned more about the upkeep people think they "should" be doing and the downfall of becoming too caught up with all of that.

I have evaluated my closet and participated in style challenges. I have completed an entire workout program. I feel put together, but, at times, still inadequate.

Why is that?

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that my perception of beauty became a little warped somewhere along the way. In order to fix that I needed to rediscover what beauty means to me.

As I have reflected on beauty and those people I find to be truly beautiful I notice a trend. The people I think are absolutely stunning in my day to day life aren't always the most physically attractive.

In my experience a person's beauty either increases or decreases as you peel back the layers to see who that person actually is. It's all of those little quirks and traits that add to or detract from one's beauty

I'll admit it's fun to explore and learn about different makeup, clothing trends, face serums, filters, etcetera. And, let's be real, I'll probably keep on investing in some of it. I just think I also need to work on keeping a healthy perspective. 

No matter how much we spend on procedures, tools or creams, we're still aging. Maybe we need to learn to love that?

In addition to all of that, it's important to remember that I am a mother-flippin' snowflake and I don't need to look like anyone else on Instagram! I can invest in various makeup, clothes, and all of these workout plans but I need to remember that it may not make me look like her.

Just because that fashion blogger can rock a cargo vest, it doesn't mean that I should. Just because that blogger looks amazing in a bikini 3 months after giving birth, it doesn't mean that I will. Just because so and so seems like she is happier because of x,y, or z, it doesn't actually mean that she is.

Instead of trying to be more like all of these other people, I need to celebrate me and what makes me awesome

I think the reason so many of us feel like a wilting flower instead of the beautiful flower that we actually are is due to the fact that we don't see or don't really know who we are. Or maybe we're uncomfortable with what we see.

It's time for us to figure out who we are and then be proud of it. 

You do you and own it! Confidence is beautiful and with confidence you may find yourself coming out of your shell more and more. 

Those are my scattered thoughts for this Wednesday morning.

What makes you feel beautiful?
What traits do you find beautiful in another?

I am from. . .

05 February 2018
Just a little creative writing based on a template.

What follows is a fun little exercise, adapted by Levi Romero, inspired by "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon and can be found here. Context is everything.

I am from the desk
from pens and coffee cups.
I am from the secluded corner lot,
where cheerios are scattered underfoot.
I am from the tulips.
The cherry tree
whose long gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I am from slurpee runs and HLA-B27
from parents and grandparents.
I'm from pack rats and laughter
and from hardcore introverts.

I'm from "remember who you are," and "you catch more flies with honey,"
and "Baby Beluga."
I'm from ornaments on Christmas Eve.
I'm from California and a European mutt.
Bierocks and poofa.
From a young boy left to cross the plains on his own,
abandoned by his brothers, who made himself a home.
His portrait staring down from my grandmother's wall.
His name shared by another pioneer, my son.

I would love to see how others respond to the same template, so if you find yourself doing the same leave me the link!

Improve Your Life by Unplugging This February

02 February 2018
You know you should unplug, but lack the motivation to actually do it. Here are 4 reason why you should and a challenge to give you the push you may need. You only get one life, you may as well experience it. Be present today!

In the summer of 2008 I moved across the country to start a new chapter of my life in my grandparent's basement in Utah and it ended up being one of the best things I have ever done

At the time my grandparents had dial-up internet. I could read a chapter in a book in the time it took Facebook to load. I still had a flip-phone that could only be used for text messages and phone calls.

I knew no one except for them and a handful of other relatives. School wouldn't start for three months and I wouldn't have a job for two of those months.

I had nowhere to be and really nothing to do, yet somehow it ended up being one of the best summers of my life.

I discovered the value of unplugging that summer and am working hard this month to rediscover the lessons learned.

Why should you unplug this February?

1 | To reconnect with the world around you.

While you go through your day pay attention to how often regular life has to compete with your gadgets for your attention. How often do you reach for your phone for one thing only to lose large chunks of time?

It's a problem.

When we consciously work to lessen distractions and obstacles that are preventing us from being truly present then we have the time and energy to pay attention. When we can't hide behind a screen then we can get to know the people around us.

2 | Life will feel simpler. 

There is something about being plugged in that makes me feel like I need to be going, going, going all of the time. However, there is something to be said about taking some downtime and enjoying the quiet.

Unplugging lets me slow down. I don't have to keep up with anyone or anything. There is suddenly room for ideas to flow.

3 | You will have more time.

I waste a lot of time when I'm plugged in. It feels productive at the time. I learned about chickens! Then I realized I also wanted to learn about this! Have I paid my bills? How much are we spending on such and such. How is it midnight?! It's a major time suck.

Plan what you will do with this time! Will you spend it by pursuing a hobby that you have never had time for? Will you play with the kids for 10 extra minutes? Will you read that book you have had on your shelf for years?

4 | Joy is easier to find.

There is one particular moment that stands out in my mind. I was just driving along and happened to really look at the mountain in front of me. I swear I had never seen a more beautiful sight. It was such a simple thing that brought me so much joy.

I didn't need to instagram it, I just needed to experience it.  

As much as I love social media and all of these cool gadgets, I find that they consistently remind me of what I lack. When I'm unplugged I have less to compare my life to and I begin to realize that my life is pretty stinking great. 

You know you should unplug, but lack the motivation to actually do it. Here are 4 reason why you should and a challenge to give you the push you may need. You only get one life, you may as well experience it. Be present today!

My plan this month is to unplug for each weekend in February. Unplugging for my family will mean phones in a basket out of reach. Computers will be turned off, with the exception of recipes for dinner. I'm looking forward to 8 days to just be present without all of the noise and I so hope you'll join me! 

Do you think there is value in scheduling in designated unplugged time?
What would you do with that extra time?
Any tips to detox from social media?