listening lately.

May book coversI've been on a bit of an audio book kick lately. My commute isn't long, but I really dislike listening to the audiobooks (and/or podcasts) are a nice alternative. Here's what I've finished, and what I'm still listening to...

The Fringe Hours - I had heard about this book from several bloggers, but had kind of put it in the "good for moms of littles" category. I mean, I have nearly grown kids....and all the free time in the world, right? Ha! I wish. The reality is that live fills in all the parts that used to be filled in with kid activities. It's a different busy, that's all. So...I really enjoyed the insight and reminders about finding time to dedicate to self-care and to things/activities that bring me joy. Jessica's book sparked a conversation with several friends about what the one task is that is REALLY worth outsourcing. For Mo, it's cleaning and grocery shopping (although she only outsources one). For another friend, it's mopping the floor. For me? Laundry. I'm seriously pondering using a laundry service to free up more of my Fringe Hours for creativity & fun. 

The Fifth Agreement - I very much believe that "when the student is ready, the teacher appears." I've had The Four Agreements on my bookshelf for a couple of years. Confession - I've never read the entire book. I listened to The Fifth Agreement on a business trip this week. The book includes a pretty extensive explanation of the first four agreements, so I really got a lot of bang for my buck! The agreements are all "common sense"- but not easy to live by. "You have the right to live your own life, in your own way, and there is no wrong way." <-- YES. 

Packing Light -  This book is about travel but so much more. I originally worried that I wouldn't find much to "relate" to, given that the author is young, and the story is really a "coming of age" exercise. But isn't that what I'm doing right now? I've moved, I'm shedding baggage, and I'm very much practicing "packing light" (remember - one of my Core Desired Feelings is lightness!). I'm only about 2/3 through this one, but I'm enjoying it very much. Wisdom beyond her years for sure. 

I'm certainly in the mode of "give me all of the inspiration & knowledge, pretty please and thank you!" right now. Books, blogs, podcasts, audiobooks....yes, yes, yes, & yes. What's the best NON-fiction piece that you've read or listened to lately? 


living with intent : mallika chopra

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"The road to intentional living is paved with bumps, potholes, flat tires, and detours; perfection isn't a stop on that road. " - Mallika Chopra, Living with Intent

What I loved: The realness of Mallika's story, despite (and as the result of) having a famous father, and raising her family in a privileged lifestyle. The common thread that links all of us...we're all just trying to figure out how to live our best life. The "easy" exercises/actions at the end of each chapter. I'm a fan of any author who can bridge the gap between "soccer mom" and "enlightened"...and Mallika does this well. She stresses about her weight, worries about her daughters, and struggles with being true to who she is....but still embraces the value of meditation, intentions, and mindfulness. Among the many quotes that stood out for me - "It's not about leaning in or opting out. It's about being real in the moment and making choices that are right for me."

What I left: Using intent as an acronym (incubate, notice, trust, express, nurture, take action). Yes, I realize that this forms the structure of the whole book...and I "get it." I just felt that it was overcomplicating the basic principle of being present, and affirming what you want for your life. That said, many people will appreciate the idea of breaking down the "steps"...and if that allows more to give mindfulness a shot? That's great!! 

I received this book through the Blogging for Books program. I was not compensated for this review, and all opinions expressed are my own. 


the life changing magic of tidying up : marie kondo

It seems as though everyone that I know (and every blogger that I read) has read, or is reading, this book. I ordered it shortly after moving into my apartment, after I'd already done so much decluttering & organizing during the move. I knew that it might be a little out-there, but I'm often a little out-there, so...

what I loved: "Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle." I certainly started this process during the move. I was ruthless with what was recycled/discarded (as evidenced by my receipts to Goodwill, Recycle North, and the Got Junk? guys). The author suggests making decisions based on the question "does this spark joy?"...a measurement that has been particularly helpful in editing down to a capsule wardrobe. The section of the book about dealing with mementos & gifts definitely resonated. She talks about "processing the past" while sorting through these items. This concept sparked some ideas about how to capture the stories of many of the papers & knick-knacks that I've carried around in a rubbermaid tub for years - b/c it's the story that sparks joy, not the physical object.

what I left: Some of the more "strict" suggestions simply didn't inspire. Empty my handbag every night? No thanks. I've read many reviews of this book that react strongly to specific instructions in the book. I easily left those aside - the author writes from a culture & practice that is simply different than my own. Yes, thanking your belongings is a little out-there, but so what? No harm done...

Amazon: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

what I'm reading...

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I've been trying to find pockets of time for reading - on planes, while drinking my first cup of coffee, and/or just before going to sleep. The books that I'm bouncing between right now...

The Motivation Manifesto - I started reading this one on a recent trip to CA. It's a little more "flowery" than I expected, but otherwise right up my alley. 

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up & Better than Before - both arrived yesterday. I suspect that they will both be books that I can't put down once I start reading them. 

Yes, Please! - listening to the audio book on my (short) commute, and on (longer) drives to Dan's house. Hilarious. Insightful. Awesome.

Bowl + Spoon - I have a thing for cookbooks. I've visited this one on Amazon pretty much daily for the last week. Finally ordered it today. 

What are you reading?

three simple goals : november


When I've gotten around to writing monthly goals (which sadly, is NOT every month), I've committed to four simple goals. This month gets three - a nod to a schedule that is already super busy and an effort to show myself a bit of kindness by not stacking the expectations too high.

1. Winterize Daily Routines - winter demands an entirely different system for daily life. Coats never really go into storage around here, but gloves/mittens go missing, and scarves hide in corners of the mudroom - so that situation needs to be organized. Firewood & candles need to be restocked. Morning routines need to be adjusted to allow for light therapy. Socks and tights need to be worked into wardrobe plans. 

2. Read (at least) 3 Books - reading books by the fire is pretty much my ideal winter weekend day. Add in a pot of coffee and it's possible that I'll spend more than a few hours on the couch. I'm kicking off this season of reading with Love is Letting Go of Fear

3. Complete Capsule Wardrobe Clean-Out - a simple goal that just needs a chunk of time dedicated to it. Six dresser drawers that need to be sorted & purged. Totally do-able! 

Woven around these goals, of course, are the practices that I continue to hold dear, the to-do list that is always expanding, and the desire to experience the present moment without continually running through an inner dialogue of shoulds. What's on your agenda for November?

finding calm in the chaos.

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Meditation has become such a practice in my life that I can no longer remember when I didn't practice. I did a quick blog search to see if I could find a "hey, I just started sitting!" post...but didn't land on anything. 

I sit nearly every day. Sometimes for just a few breaths, sometimes for a guided meditation, and sometimes for a lengthy session. I can say, with absolute conviction, that meditation has changed me. And when something works? Well, I want to learn/know everything that I can about it. 

Mind Calm by Sandy Newbigging starts with this - "Welcome to the meditation technique that you've been looking for. With MIND CALM you will learn how to let go of the constant chatter in your mind, gain clarity, perform at your best, worry less, heal faster, sleep better, improve relationships, and feel more calm, confident, and content - whenever you want." 

What I loved: the simplicity, and the clarity. Even though I'm a fan of the incense-burning & chanting styles of meditation, and realize that hippie shit is off-putting to many. MIND CALM is written in a very simple & straight-forward manner, and with a really pragmatic how-to approach for a meditation practice. Easy, do-able steps. I typically read through books like this with a highlighter in hand - and this book offers a ton of material that I'll refer to again & again. A favorite quote - "Life can become an emotional roller coaster if you fully engage in every thought that passes through your mind. Seeing your thoughts instead of being your thoughts makes all the difference." The book finishes with a 10-part MIND CALM program with daily schedules of implementation over 10 weeks. That kind of discipline makes me giddy. 

What I left: a few acronyms that didn't resonate. In general, acronyms tend to bring a corporate feel for me. 

I rec'd a copy of this book from Hay House for the purposes of this review. Opinions expressed are my own, and no other compensation was rec'd.

2014 summer reading : update #3


Update #1 | Update #2

I'm finishing up Rob Lowe's Love Life on Audiobook - although I really like listening to his voice (swoon), I found myself getting a little bored & zoning out. I don't know if that's a comment on his book - or my lack of attention span. 

I'm in the midst of reading Everyday Sacred, and enjoying it.

I read Delicious! on a plane ride, and loved it. I passed it to Hope when I got home, and she read it in a single (long) sitting. 

I veered off the list a bit - currently reading Mind Calm, read (& adored) Cold Tangerines, listened to (& loved) #GIRLBOSS, started (but abandoned) One Thousand Gifts, and also started The Chemistry of Calm.

I'm pondering a fall list - and deciding if I'll carry over the titles that I missed in the summer, of if I'll just start fresh. 

**book links = aff links

2014 summer reading : update #2


So, I didn't make much progress this month - at least not on books from this list. I started Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty - and HATED it, so I stopped. I'm currently flip-flopping between Thrive and Habit

I did read Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting, and Hidden - the first b/c I picked it up on sale at the bookstore, and the second b/c it was a kindle deal. Wildly different, obviously! I also downloaded Attachments: A Novel ($1.99 Kindle deal!), and The Call of the Farm: An Unexpected Year of Getting Dirty, Home Cooking, and Finding Myself (for review. spoiler: meh.)

I'll have a lot of plane & car time this month, so I'm confident that I'll make it through the rest of the list before September 1. 

Also - I'm trying out Oyster as another reading option (yes, I use my library. yes, I buy books.) If you use the link (here it is again!), we BOTH get a $15 credit. Thanks, friend! (aff, obviously)

2014 summer reading : update #1


I've been busy reading through my summer book list (along with a few that aren't on the list b/c I'm a rebel like that). Here's what I've read so far (aff links)...

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise | Ruth Reichl - Fun & fascinating...and also made me reflect on many restaurant experiences and wonder if I was treated differently based on what I was wearing and/or who I was with.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Sheryl Sandberg - I'm aware that people feel strongly about this book. Honestly? I'm on the fence. Much of it resonated, and much of it didn't. Take what is helpful, and leave the rest...

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Vintage) | Cheryl Strayed - Read this over the course of a weekend. Little detail - it's fun when you recognize some of the places that an author is writing about. Anyway. I wanted this book to be deeper. I applaud her accomplishment, for sure, but hoped for a bit more enlightenment along the way. 

Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change Shawn Achor - Very much in keeping with the workshops that I facilitate at work. So many great tools - shifting thinking, looking for a positive vantage point, creating a map to success. I have this simple quote written down at my desk - "Let's figure out how success is possible before talking about what might go wrong." <--YES.

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way | Shauna Niequist - I listened to this one on long walks, short runs, and morning commutes. Simply brilliant. "When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow." I want to invite Shauna over for coffee & talk about life. 

Currently reading Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty...

the tapping solution for weight loss & body confidence : jessica ortner

The tapping solution

In the summer of 2013, I read NIck Ortner's The Tapping Solution - and quickly added a stress & pain relief tool to my routine. Tapping works. Jessica Ortner (Nick's sister) recently released The Tapping Solution for Weight Loss & Body Confidence - and it's another winner. Jessica tackles emotional eating, confidence, exercise, and self-care (among many other weighty topics). 

What I loved... There's a mix of practical advice, real life situations, and motivational quotes throughout the book. Jessica has done a terrific job of addressing all of the obstacles that pop up on the journey to self-care. The chapter on The Power of Beliefs resonated a lot. Jessica writes,

"As we being to identify limiting beliefs, we often find that we have many of them and that they are spread across different areas of our lives. Over time, these beliefs become the larger story we're telling ourselves about who we are and what's possible for us. Once we use tapping to address the limiting beliefs that have shaped our story, we can create a new story and make incredible progress in ways that feel natural & enjoyable." 

I eat well and I exercise - I generally take pretty good care of myself. Even so, I know that there are some limiting beliefs about weight & appearance that hold me back from feeling confident. It's great to read a book that addresses the underlying beliefs, rather than simply laying out a daily menu & exercise routine that can be followed short term. 

I know that I'll be incorporating many of Jessica's tapping sequences into my daily routine! 

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book for the purposes of review - but the opinions expressed are my own.