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!

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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.

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