On My Bookshelf: My TBR Jar and First Finishes

TBR Jar

At the end of 2015 I started thinking about my plans for my 2016 reading and decided I would try something new and fun.  Enter the TBR (To Be Read) jar.  I’d seen this marvelous invention on Instagram and loved the idea so much I had to do it too.  I’d set my annual Goodreads challenge at 25 books for 2016 (we won’t talk about that’s been my goal for the last several years and I’ve not even come close), so I wanted to keep my TBR jar selections around the 15-20 range.  I chose a mix of books that have been sitting on my shelves forever (including one that I’ve started but never finished), books I don’t own but really want to read, and I gave myself a **Free** selection (meaning I can pick any book I want to read whenever that one gets drawn).  My plan was to draw my first book on January 1st and get started.  Oh, and I made myself a fun Harry Potter-inspired jar too!

On My Bookshelf: My TBR Jar and First Finishes

I ended up holding off on pulling my first selection from the jar on January 1 because Eric bought me Lara Casey’s book for Christmas, which I’d been dying to read.  As you already know from my previous posts, I worked my way through this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I actually started it on January 1 and fully expected to zip through it because it’s not a very lengthy book. This book, as Lara says herself, is an action book rather than a reading book. It took me awhile to work my way through it because it does require a lot of introspection, questioning, actioning, and praying. This book is part autobiography, part guidebook to really focusing on what matters. What makes Lara’s guidance so valuable is that not only has she been where you are, but she shows you how she started to make things happen in her own life – making changes that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Her authenticity and continued journey that comes through on her blog and on Periscope really strike a chord with me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to start making things happen in their own life. Not only did this book help me define what matters most to me, it also provided me with clear and actionable steps to move toward those things.

Story of Awkward

I took a small break from Make it Happen to read something light.  Despite being a freebie ebook, I really enjoyed this. It reminded me a bit of Rainbow Rowell’s writing. A story about being awkward, which I think we can all relate to, and learning to love what makes each of us unique.  Once I finished up Story of Awkward, I decided to go ahead and pull the first selection out of my TBR jar.  My first draw was Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Since it wasn’t a book I own I was going to have to procure it, so I wouldn’t be able to start it immediately.  I sat that aside and went back to Make it Happen.

After going back to Make it Happen and finishing it up – more about that book in my other posts – I picked up The Lake House by Kate Morton.  Lake House wasn’t a book that was on my list to read and I actually hadn’t ever heard of it.  I was watching a knitting podcast (Fiber By Design) and this was the Feb/March book for the Oh Loops! book club on Ravelry. I decided to jump in and thought it would be fun to discuss the book, so I grabbed the kindle edition and got started.  I haven’t read any Kate Morton previously, but I will definitely be reading her other books. This book kept me guessing, as all the best mysteries should, while carrying me along with the storyline. I loved that the story was woven between the 1930s and the 2000s, with Alice fusing the two timelines together. I really really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

So, those are the three books I started off my 2016 with.  I’ll share more next time!

Share

What I’m Saying Yes to in 2016

Colorful Journals Image

This is the second post in my goal setting series.  First post is here

I’m continuing with my 2016 goal setting with the prompts from Lara Casey’s blog series and after taking a look at what did and didn’t work last year the next step is to determine what I’m going to say yes to in 2016 and what I’m going to say no to.

What I’m saying NO to in 2016:

  • burn out
  • mindless scroll on social media
  • comparison
  • distractions

What I’m saying YES to in 2016:

  • progress over perfection
  • building and strengthening relationships
  • unplug, rest, and recharge (physically, mentally, and emotionally)
  • weekly/monthly goals to help keep me focused on my larger goals

Rifle Paper Notebook Image

I feel really good about setting some boundaries or direction for myself by determining where I’m going to put my energy this year.  And when I look back at 2015, so much of it was full of running around with no focus and allowing myself to get completely burnt out in every sense of the word.  And with that craziness, yet another year went by where I felt like I never reached my goals.  I love the idea of choosing a word for the year, so my word for 2015 was Intention (actually, now that I think about it that may have been my 2014 word too.  :/ ugh)  And what I’ve learned about myself is that I can get so caught up in the “thinking about” and the “planning” that I never actually get around to the doing.  So, for 2016 I chose a more appropriate word, one that also embodies my intention for the year.

My 2016 Word is Action Image

 

So, now that I’ve decided what I’m saying yes to this year and what my word is for 2016, Lara then has you put together a vision board.  I’m a very visual person so this step was really important to me.  I wanted to be able to look and my vision board and have it trigger me to evaluate if what I am doing right now aligns with my goals and ensure I’m taking action to make them happen.  I’d started a vision board over on Pinterest, but I wanted to have something that I could print out and keep somewhere I will see it every day to remind me of where my focus should be.  So, I put this together this afternoon and I kind of love it!

2016 Vision Board Image

I wanted to be sure to have something that represented my marriage and its importance above anything else.  Then of course I have a few things that are great ways for me to recharge – meditation, journaling/my daily Bible study, yoga, reading.  I wanted to also show my focus on health and fitness through working out, eating whole foods, and of course my essential oils.  Throw in some travel, making a home, and creating abundance through my business and you have my vision board for 2016.

So, that’s it for this installment in my goal setting series.  Next week I’ll be back to share my goals and how I’m going to work to achieve them.

Share

Making Things Happen

Graphic_ThisIsTheYear1

On January 1st I started reading Lara Casey’s book Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear, Take the Leap, Live on Purpose.  I had been introduced to Lara’s blog last year and had wanted to read this book for awhile.  I’ll spend more time reviewing the book itself in another post soon, but today I want to share with you some of the work that came out of reading that book and also Lara’s blog series on 2016 goal setting.  As with most years, the beginning of 2015 started off very promising and I even blogged about living a year of intention back in January of last year.  Somehow, as often happens, things went off course.  So, I found myself in December wondering where the hell 2015 had gone and feeling defeated that I hadn’t accomplished all those things I’d wanted to do.  So, this year, and we’re only a couple of months in, I’m already finding that the key to making things happen is 1) to take action – actually go and do stuff, and 2) tending – if you don’t monitor those goals and keep focused attention on them, you can’t actually accomplish them.

So, for 2016 I am going to work through the goal setting process and share my progress here not only as a way to be accountable, but also because hopefully someone else will benefit from it.

The first thing Lara has you do is to first check in with yourself – how are you?  I won’t share the epic novel I wrote, but the main theme is that I’m feeling very disappointed in myself for getting so off course last year and feeling like I was basically in the same place that I’d started the year at.  Also, I had a life-changing lightning bolt moment recently of discovering what my purpose is.  And although I feel this huge sense of relief from having identified where I’m going, I’m feeling a bit lost though not knowing how to get there or what it’s going to look like.  But, I’m willing to have faith that as long as I move in that direction, I’ll have the guidance that I need.

Next, it’s time to take a look back at 2015…

What worked:

  • I detailed my crafty accomplishments and new endeavors over on my Cozyegg blog here
  • I was re-introduced to essential oils through my friend Sylvia and became an independent distributor of Young Living essential oils
  • Read the Red Tent (my New Year’s planned start for 2015) and 9 other books
  • I got to reconnect with my friend Marty and visit with other high school friends, plus help raise money for Adele’s retirement
  • Eric and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary
  • I completed my first Whole 30
  • I made some new friends
  • I was able to take all of my vacation time and holiday time without having to check in to work at all
  • Eric and I went to visit my Dad’s grave at Christmas, which I’ve been meaning to do for three years
  • I reached out to my mom to try to begin healing that relationship
  • I had a huge attitude shift with work and on letting go of the stress thanks to my essential oils (Stress Away!)

Three Lessons I Learned from What Worked:

  1. I don’t have to kill myself with working so much, I am better if I completely unplug and rest
  2. Essential oils have changed my life and using them daily makes a difference
  3. I do better focusing on one thing until it’s done rather than jumping around. Also, I do better doing my own thing rather than being dependent upon someone else’s participation.

What hasn’t been working?

  • Allowing myself to get burnt out
  • Running around with no purpose/no focus to my actions
  • I feel like I can’t do it perfect so I don’t do it at all
  • Allowing myself to be totally thrown off course by someone else’s stuff
  • Comforting myself with things that are bad for me (eating junk, overspending, mindless internet time-wasting i.e. the mindless scroll)
  • Health challenges
  • Dealing with feeling unbalanced/unsatisfied in some areas and then getting bogged down in the sadness of everything
  • Missing my family so bad it hurts
  • Feeling burdened with the weight of financial stress
  • Procrastinating and not moving forward, staying stuck
  • Completely wrecked over some work situations and office politics
  • Feeling like I never have enough time

Three Lessons I Learned from What Didn’t Work:

  1. Don’t get sidetracked by distractions – distractions can be other people’s stuff, shiny & new, want to vs. have to, mindless scrolling
  2. Take time for me – rest – mentally, physically, emotionally. I need time to recharge.
  3. Concentrated focus is what allows me to be most productive and stay on target with my goals/purpose/projects

What Season Are You In?

I feel like I’ve been in winter – it’s been a really hard season that has stretched over the past several years. I think the beginning of last year was like a false spring, and then winter returned. At the end of the year I was able to do some reflecting and be still and really look at what’s important to me. I feel like now I am in spring, and reaching toward summer when I dig in and get my hands dirty to do the work.

So that’s my look back at 2015.  And I feel like really taking a hard look at what I’ve learned from what worked and what didn’t work will be very helpful in starting to define my goals for 2016 and what I can build on.  Check back soon for the next installment of this series and how I’m working towards defining my goals and working daily to achieve them.

Share

October in Photos

October in Photos 2

So….October.  Is it perhaps an indication of how the last few months have been that I’m just now posting about October?  October is always a crazy crazy month for us.  We see to try to cram in so much stuff in October it leaves my head spinning.  I think I still have photos from last year’s whirlwind October that need editing, or blogging, or…something.  This October was no exception to the rule – we kept it jam-packed, but were able to enjoy some fun things.  But, I know I’m playing catch up a bit with some of the things I intended to post last year – but I’m starting where I left off and my intention is to stay more in sync with my blogging because it’s important to me.

I started off October with a ton of excitement and inspiration.  I really want to take some time and try to capture what really hit me, and some of the things that spun out of that, but for now I’ll just focus on capturing the month itself.  One of the things that I tapped into was Lara Casey and her newsletter.  I’d been following her on Instagram for a little while, but I finally subscribed to her newsletter in October.  The theme for the month was Clear October.  She wrote in her newsletter about having a clear mind and really being intentional about the time before the holidays and the end of year craziness sets in.  It really struck a chord with me too – I wanted not only to have clear intentions and clear ideas about my plan for the remainder of the year, but it also meant a clear heart.  I’ve always been a firm believer that you have to make room in your life for what you want – if your life or your space or your heart doesn’t have the space to receive God’s gifts, how can you expect your prayers to be fulfilled?  In an effort to do my own clearing in October, I started off the month by cleaning off the white board in my office.  It literally took me about an hour.  There were notes and diagrams on there that had been there so long I could not get them erased and I had to scrub at the words to remove them.  My Instagram photo shows my clean and clear whiteboard – out with all the “junk” that no longer serves me and opening up a space to receive.

The rest of the month was, like I said, jam-packed with all sorts of things.  We went to the State Fair, as usual, and I finally got to see the Chinese Lantern Festival at night.  It was just as stunning as I’d imagined!  Plus we got to see the Kildares play, which is always fun.

I spent a good amount of time reading in October, particularly the Beautiful Bastard series by Christina Lauren.

I did some baking – pumpkin bread and then my very first Italian Cream Cake for Eric’s birthday.  We had amazing Thai food for his birthday dinner at one of our favorite local spots.

I finished up my memorial sampler for my dad at the end of September, and finally blogged about it over at my other blog.

I got a little “on the spot” award at work for the work I did on a project, and what better way to celebrate than with leopard pumps?  You can’t go wrong with leopard.

We did some projects around the house, including installing some shelves in our media room to contain some of the things that came from my mom’s house when my dad died.  We also bought a new rug and pouf for the living room.  I am so in love with this rug, it is not even funny.  My absolute dream rug – and Eric was won over by it too!

And we also spent some time with my niece in October.  As part of that whole idea behind making room in your life, we decided that we definitely needed to make some room in our lives to spend more time with her.  She came and spent the night with us, Eric made her pink pancakes for breakfast and we watched The Breakfast Club.  She loved it!  I also worked with her on designing her Halloween costume.  This year she went as Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas – and the dress I worked on tirelessly was a huge hit!

As usual, October was a great, busy month.  I’m looking forward to sharing November with you!

Share