In an effort to better myself I committed myself to a year long journey of reading more. I like reading and don’t get me wrong I read a lot of blog posts, AD magazine (thanks to my husband), and WSJ (thanks to my father-in-law) but a year ago I found I was rarely reading through a whole book! I had gotten into a slump after college of making time for the wrong things like GOT binges and online shopping black holes. I no longer HAD to read for tests or research so why bother. But a the start of 2018, I turned a new leaf. It was time to start focusing on edifying myself. I picked up a book for the first time in a long time and began the quest of self betterment through reading.
A new series I am starting this month is sharing with you all what I’ve been reading and listening to. To be honest, I’m not an avid reader. I love books but sometimes there are so many other things I would love to be doing and sitting still is not one of my strong suits. In many failed attempts at forcing myself to sit down and read, I’m creating this series as a not-so-subtle last ditch effort to keep me pinned to the books. Hopefully you’ll find some fun things to read and learn along the way.
My first book in this series of blog posts is- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.
“That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.” – Paul Kalanithi
I know what your thinking- Why such a heavy book to start off? I guess its been on my mind of late. This book was suggested by a co-worker who thought I would enjoy this book and she was right! When Breath Becomes Air is a story about a neurosurgeon diagnosed with lung cancer who comes face to face with the hardest question of life- What makes life worth living? A thought provoking, inspiring book to read but make sure you have a box of tissues near by.
Along the same lines as When Breath Becomes Air, I have a much shorter portrait of loss in the words by Brenda Miller. The Shape of Emptiness is a flash non fiction piece about loss and emptiness in each our lives through the piece her student shared in class. A beautiful quick read to mull over a glass of wine or cup of tea.
“But for now, when he finishes reading, he gathers our hands and gives them back to us one by one. We take them from him carefully, so we can carry our emptiness into the day. We compare them, showing off the shapes of our grasping. Curled like prayers. Like anger. Like love.” – Brenda Miller
Hello friends, it’s good to be back after a long break from the blogging world for some R&R and family time. Like everyone, I’m ready to start off 2016 with a fresh start. 2015 was one of the best years of my life, but I’m ready to see what 2016 has in store! The beauty of the New Year is a fresh start, a beginning of a new journey, and the hope of whats to come next. This year I took some time to think of some attainable goals for the New Year. Goals are never easy to accomplish, but they are something that sets us in the right direction. This is the first year without being a student. While I loved school, I am so excited to have time to start planning for a life outside of class times and paper deadlines. So I sat down and made a list of what to do in 2016.
Don’t be downhearted if you break your resolution plans. I see resolutions as a conscious opportunity to make a preemptive decision for the upcoming year. At the cusp of 2016 we have the chance to make a fresh start. So here is my ideas for a fresh start to 2016!
- Wear heels: All girls love scouring pinterest for great outfits and lets be honest 99 percent of them have cute heels. We pin them, we love them, we shop them, but so many people are afraid to wear them, but why? To tall, to silly, to uncomfortable… We come up with all kinds of reasons. But 2016 is going to be different! So try to wear heels this year because you aren’t to tall, you don’t look silly and if you look hard enough you can find a comfy pair that are beautiful!
- Read more: If you’re like me, reading is something I love to do, but rarely make time for. Yes MAKE time for. I find all sorts of excuses to do anything but read. Take 2016 to make reading a daily thing. I have found that picking a time to sit down and dedicate to reading each day is a really rewarding. And now! I look forward to that reading time every day. Make a reading list and try to work your way through it.
- Learn a new skill: Piano, drawing, painting, baking… etc. Try your best to learn more skills that will make you a more rounded and talented person. Its fun to learn new skills!
- Don’t be negative: Negativity… it’s so easy to be negative when the world can be such a unfair, dark place. But when has being negative ever helped a situation get better? Negativity can be frustrating to be around and sometimes we don’t even notice that we are being negative too. In 2016, lets do our best to be positive, to always be hopeful and to pursue life with a passion. If you hold on to your negativity you will never accomplish any of these goals.
- Talk less (or more): often in life there are moments when we all think… Shoot… I said to much or I should have said more. In 2016 make a conscious effort to make each conversation count. When its time to listen become the perfect listener. When its time to speak up take a leap of faith and say what needs to be said…
- Get organized: MESS– the one word that describes my closet. I spent the end of 2015 cleaning out my closet of everything I don’t wear. To be honest, it can be so hard to get rid of clothes but it feel so good once the deed is done. Don’t let 2016 be dragged down by clutter and mess. Take time to clean your closet and find the perfect way to organize it. If you want to sell nicer items try websites like Thred UP or try local consignment shops. Live by the motto- New Year, New Me.
- Develop your creativity: 30 minutes everyday- write, paint, or draw. Your creativity is so important and take steps to grow it in 2016. Channel your inner child and do something creative everyday. You’ll be surprised how much your creativity will grow and develop.
- Wear chapstick and sunscreen everyday: While its seems superfluous to lather yourself in sunscreen when its 30 and rainy your skin will thank you and you will feel better! Let me put it in perspective for you… You have to have this skin your whole life so it needs to be taken care of.
- Drink more water: On the topic of skin and health in general, water is something you need more of in 2016. 8 glasses. Everyday. You’ll be amazed at how much better your skin, nails, health, and sleep will be. I know! Your sleep! When you are hydrated you aren’t as groggy in the morning.
- Write handwritten letters: Handwritten letters are a lost art in our culture. With the development of email, texting, snapchat, googlechat (the list goes on)… we have lost an essential skill of a well thought out letter. There is something more serious about a real pen and a real piece of paper. What gets written stays, it can’t be erased, replaced, or changed. In 2016, don’t be afraid to put your thoughts on paper and send it away using snail mail to a special someone, who with much anticipation will be overjoyed to read your thoughtful note.
- Cultivate your green thumb: Get a plant and take care of it. Other than teaching responsibility on a small scale, a plant will be a friend to you. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a plant grow and flourish. Whether a cactus or a ficus, you will love having a plant to care for and it will be an endless supply of joy to you on a cold day.
- Be a better friend: Lots of big changes accompanied 2015 and goes in the books for the fastest year ever. When life gets busy it can be easy to change plans or communicate less with close friends. But when I look back I never regretted taking time to be there for a friend who needed me or wanted me to spend time with them. I think we often forget how much we need relationships to help us through difficult stages of life. Whether its giving a quick phone call, writing a text, or spending the day with friends, I am slowly learning that being friends with people outside of college takes work and dedication. If you want relationships to be “friendship for life” you need to take them seriously and invest in every aspect of peoples lives. Being a good friend in 2016 means (for me) more encouragement, checking in and being the one to ask to hang out (not being the one who waits to be asked)… I know I let the fear of not being liked or irritating others keep me from staying in touch. Be someone who brings people together in 2016 not someone who waits for someone else to reach out.
- Don’t let fear guide your decisions: I am not a risk taker… the idea of being a thrill junkie or going outside my comfort zone is a foreign concept to me. But 2015 was a big year for me..I learned a lot and I realized that I have been getting a little to comfortable and letting the fear of messing up or failing guide my decisions for too long. My husband is mostly to thank for this realization. He never is afraid of anything and he welcomes failure as an opportunity to learn more in order to succeed later. This year I am taking an example from his book and letting more decisions be made out of faith and fewer out of fear.
- Plan your outfits: Something I never do… I am a spontaneous person who rarely makes a set plan for any day BUT I realized that as my closet grew out of control it was also time to plan what to wear.
- Get your nails done: One thing I love is perfect nails. There is nothing better than the glass like surface of perfectly manicured nails and the joy that you didn’t have to struggle painting them on your own. In 2016, make getting your nails done a small reward for a job well done- You reached your workout goal, a promotion at work, or a successful day of shopping? Whether the reason is silly or serious its an opportunity to make sweet things sweeter.
- Be more intentional and don’t quit: I bet we can all think of one thing we bailed on in 2015… A party, coffee date with friends, a project we started. We quit so many things in hopes of finding something better. In 2016, quit less and be more intentional and don’t be afraid to make plans and keep them. Our generation is famous for never making plans and holding out for whatever plan seems best to us. It is the most frustrating thing to be on the other side of but we all do it more often that we would like to admit. Being intentional is a quality to undervalued in our society today. Make a small contribution to today’s society by being one of the good ones who commits to friends and plans made.