Thursday, January 11, 2018

2018 Reads - The First Four

Good News Y'all - Here are my first four reads of 2018!

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics was a book I heard about on GMA* from Dan Harris. This is Dan's second book on meditation - something he found his way to after a panic attack on live TV. I have been wanting/needing to get into mindfulness for awhile, and hearing Dan's framing about how and why he meditates made me want to check this one out. The book is focused on reasons why people don't meditate and ways to overcome the usual excuses. A lot of these are the ways meditation hasn't worked for me, so this was a super helpful read. I left this book feeling far more confident to do meditation and also with a better understanding of what I was even trying to do in the first place. I even tried it out on the plane this week, and it was awesome. 

Read this book if - You want to know more about meditation, but aren't quite sure where to start. Meditation seems weird, too hard and/or something you just don't think you could ever do.

*This means it qualifies for an Exploreading Challenge - A Book Recommended From a Podcast or TV Show!

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger was a book recommended to me at one of the Friends of the JoCo Libraries Used Bookstores. I had never met this woman before, but she assured me this was a fantastic read. She offered me a rave review of it, and she promised to give me my money back (all of $2) if I didn't like it. I assured her I didn't think that was necessary. This book is fantastic. It is the story of a 13 year old boy and a heckuva lot of tragedy that hits his hometown in the summer of 1961. For all the sadness in the book, it is so amazingly well-written that I just adored it. The woman told me that there was a sermon in the book that nearly brought her to tears, and she was right. There are some fiction reads that are just all the things when it comes to emotion, plot and characters, and this one was one of those.

Read this book if - You like mysteries with heart. You like fiction books with a side of faith/inspiration. You like books that give you the feels.

I Am Malala was a book from this summer's book sale haul. I had heard of Malala, but honestly didn't know her full story. I don't think I ever put together that she was specifically targeted when she was shot, not because she was a girl seeking education, but because of her advocacy work for women's education. She does a strong job of explaining the realities of her world, how she worked for change, and the challenges she encountered. It made me admire and respect what she does even more.

Read this book if - You want to know more about Malala (obvs). You like autobiographies/memoirs. You want to understand more about another culture.

Grace Not Perfection was actually a re-read. I'll be honest, I read this too fast last year. I didn't really soak it all in. Now that I've gone full simplified life with Emily Ley, I wanted to soak this one up again. It was outstanding. While A Simplified Life is more focused on strategy (or strategery as some would say), this really focuses on the why. It is grounded more in the motivations for change, rather than the how. It was even better the second time around, and because I actually took in the philosophy. Particularly given how i'm trying to slow down this year, it was a good read to have early in the year.

Read this book if - You need a lot more grace and a lot less perfect. You are a fan of Emily Ley. You just need something that fills up your cup.

Monday, January 8, 2018

What's Making Me Happy - 1/8

Oh hi, blog. Remember when this was a regular blog feature? Yeah, me, too. Well, it's 2018, and I'm giving it another go. Also, I'm moving this to Mondays, so I can start my week of strong. Sound good? Okay, cool.

First off, let's start with something I ate - YATS. Yats is a favorite of my co-workers, but since I'm not in Indy all the time, I only get it on special occasions. Last week, I was in town, so I got to get a plate of awesome. This is White Chicken Chili, Chili Cheese Etouffee and the best freakin' garlic bread in the world. I'm getting hungry just as I type this post, so I have to stop here.

Few things get me jazzed as a new planner, and I finally got to break one out. Last year, I didn't really have an official planner as I fell out of love with my previous one. I did some research, and I settled on The Simplified Planner. I'm only a week in, but it makes me so happy. Yes, it's weird to love a planner this much.

And then AND THEN, my childhood returned yet again. I have wanted to watch Tiny Toons for years y'all - literal years. My coworker shared this week that Hulu finally made my dream of dreams come true. Not only do they have the whole series, but they have the summer vacation special that's just the greatest.

Finally, Dustin and I are continuing to simply and organize. I never would have thought I would get Dustin on board for this process, but having him all in has made all the difference. It's amazing to see how much more we enjoy our space without all the "stuff" that was once here. I've still got the sub-basement to go (which will have some definite moments of not happy), but we're making major headway!

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 - The Year of STOP

Did you know I picked a word for 2017? Yeah, me neither. Y'all, I didn't even remember until I was trekking back through my posts about books from the year. So, that was clearly a colossal fail.

With this in mind, the word I needed to choose for the year ahead became quite clear to me. If you look back at what 2017 was on this blog (and honestly, it's very similar to life outside of it), it was two things - 1). Summaries of the books I read which is apparently the only part of my life I could keep together and 2). Posts about doing too much/not what matters/wanting to be better at blogging and life in general. 

So, it was a pretty easy choice. This year, my word is STOP.

Here's the thing - I say yes to so much without hesitation. Things I don't actually care about. Things I add to an already full plate. Things that take away from what I actually want to do and where my actual passions lie. And y'all, I'm tired of it. I spent too much of 2017 with an empty tack and a severe lack of spoons. So, with that, I'm ready to stop.

A few weeks back, I read The Simplified Life. It was a gamechanger. For much of the time since then, Dustin and I have been working on simplifying. It's been an overwhelming process. This weekend, I was sitting in a sea of throw pillows, bed pillows, blankets and towels, and I just had a breakdown. Where did it all come from? How are there things taking up space in this house I don't even know about? 

I'm thankful to have a husband who listens to my frustrations, then helps me figure out what we can do about it together. So, after the overwhelm passes, we get to work. We've made it through our kitchen, all our bedrooms, closets, storage, etc. etc. Amazingly, we've been doing this all together, and we haven't fought once. That says to me we're doing what we need to do to get things together.

Sidebar: The last day of 2017 started with a smoke alarm malfunctioning at 2017. So, a special thanks on that for being a jerk of a year.

Anyway, as I look to 2018, this year will look different. Will it be a magic shift? No. However, if it's anything like the path I've been on so far, I'm confident this year will be better than the last. And yes, I totally stole that from the Counting Crows.