Archive for books

2014: The Year That Was…

I realize we are officially one week into 2015, but I never actually shared a review of 2014. I think that was mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t wholly impressed with 2014. Yes, lots of great things happened (like my new job!), but I didn’t feel like I had moved forward a lot. I realize now that’s simply untrue. I just didn’t move at the pace I wanted, which made me eager to start 2015 and my 2015 goals (as you already know!).

But, I should never wish away time. So here’s a very quick look back at 2014.

WordPress had this to say about my 2014. Looks like everyone was super keen to learn about my Grumpy Cat painted pumpkin. In fairness, it was pretty rad.

Wordpress 2014 Review

WordPress 2014 Review

I did knock a lot of my 2014 goals, such as:

  • Completing year 2 of The Happiness Project
  • Improving my career (yay!)
  • Repairing my right knee…again
  • Traveling to 3 international destinations!
  • And knocking out the remaining items on my DC bucket list

But there were also a few things that either didn’t happen or just fell short:

  • Running that elusive 10-miler
  • Saying yes to everything (because I learned that saying NO, is just as important)
  • And I only made it to 17 books, not the full 25 I had hoped.

Truthfully, I’m not disappointed at all. Mainly because I’m still actively working on being a better version of myself. I’ll always have goals in motion. Plus, I did manage to read some really amazing books – both for my book club, but also for myself and my career. Here’s a little visual display from Goodreads.

Read in 2014

Read in 2014

If you get a chance to pick up a spare book, here are my top 3 of 2014:

3. Walkable City
2. The Night Circus OR What Alice Forgot
1. Who Moved My Cheese?

Ok, so that’s technically 4, but you know what…it’s my blog 🙂 Anyways, I’m really excited to keep on reading. Mostly because I’m really driven this year to read industry books as well as fiction/non-fiction. My work has a great little library going and I’m currently working my way through an entire stack. Plus, I’m always creepin’ Cranky’s Goodreads; so if you have any must-read suggestions, leave me a comment!

There were definitely times this past year where I was just over it. 100%, without a doubt, done. And I just couldn’t wait to move past where I was. In fact, I was giddy with excitement for 2015, but I saw this the other week as everyone made their resolutions to make 2015 better than the last and when I read it – I felt thankful. Truly, for where I’m at. I’ll get to where I’m going, one day. Happy 2015!

2014 in a nutshell

2014 in a nutshell

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Life: Fighting resistance

On Sunday, I nearly slipped into what felt like a full blown panic attack. I was on the verge of tears and I felt shaky. Why? Look at that little counter to the right. In 15 days I’ll be 30 and nothing is how it should be I thought it would be.

2014 hasn’t had the most brilliant start. Yes, there have been some fun moments, but for the most part I feel like I’m floating along…waiting for my life to start. My 2014 goals loom over me and I feel like I’m failing every day that I can’t cross something off, but it’s certainly not for lack of trying! Last week alone I applied for 20 jobs. TWENTY JOBS! And nada.

I did have a phone interview on Friday which I flubbed and which I will call it a lesson learned. And I do have an interview with a marketing agency that places mid/senior level professionals – so it’s something, but I’m honestly exhausted. I’m tired of waiting for it to be my time.

My time. I use that phrase quite liberally when talking about my future as it keeps popping up for me. Friends, family, horoscopes, even palm readers have said – your time is coming. Yes, I’m silly and take those things to heart so maybe that’s why my level of frustration is through the roof. I’m riding on 6 months of being unsettled, which includes my 2 month hiatus to Asia. That’s a long time to be in fight/flight mode.

I was honestly going to make this entire blog a woe is me post and ask for advice, but yesterday, 2 things happened:

  1. A very good friend pointed out that I’m not very kind to myself. I place impossible standards and harsh restrictions on myself because I think I’m not good enough.
  2. I started reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and learned about “resistance”.

In both these moments, I learned a lot. First, I learned that I over-correct for past events and don’t trust myself to make good decisions anymore. I take full responsibility for things that happen, even when they aren’t my fault. I’m unable to see that sometimes things happen as a matter of circumstance and it’s NOT a reflection of who I am. I don’t extend the same courtesy and leniency to myself, that I extend to others. I’m simply not kind to my soul.

Because of all that, I’m constantly battling who I am and where I am in my life. Not that I compare myself to others, but rather I compare myself to my ideal. I know I’m an over-achiever. I’m a list maker at heart and a goal oriented person.

A friend recommended Pressfield’s book for the simple fact that maybe I was the one standing in the way of my own success. Perhaps it was my fear fueling the resistance. I finished the first 3rd of the book yesterday (it’s not very long) and here were the big takeaways:

Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.

Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance.

We know what the clan is; we know how to fit into the band and the tribe. What we don’t know is how to be alone. We don’t know how to be free individuals.

So what does that have to do with me turning 30 and potential panic attacks? Just that I have to keep fighting the good fight. Fight resistance in thinking that my life won’t get better, that things won’t change. Things will change – there is no other option. I will be someone and I will be kinder to myself.

Life: Rules to live by

happybookI recently finished Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and I’ve been religiously writing in my daily journal for 2 months now. Recently, I noticed that I kept writing that I felt like I was in a funk. Not a goal funk, but a mood funk. If anything, my goals and activities were through the roof and I was highly productive in both work and personal time. I was doing everything I always did, but I just didn’t feel right.

This weekend was the icing on the cake though when I found myself irrationally angry. I had noticed those feelings of anger creeping up on me, especially over the little things, and I didn’t like it. I always joke that because I’m an Aries, it’s in my nature to be stubborn and hot-headed, but that’s not me all the time.

So I had a good long think about it yesterday and everything I normally do to pull myself out of a funk, I was already doing. Everything I usually do to find zen was already a part of my daily routine. And then, I figured it out. It was so simple, well…sort of. The verdict?

I wasn’t smiling. I wasn’t emanating positivity. Instead, I was focused on things I felt like I needed to fix.

So yesterday, I made a conscious effort to smile (just because) and last night in my journal, I picked out a few positive things that happened throughout the day, even though they were small victories. I also sat down to think of my own personal commandments, like Gretchen often refers to in her book.

I had previously started this and mentioned a few in another post, but I added 4 more to the list yesterday. Here are my core 7 rules to live by:

  1. Be thankful for all the good in your life.
  2. It’s ok to be me & no one else.
  3. There is no rush. Live in the now.
  4. Let it roll off your back.
  5. Be polite – you’ll get further.
  6. Smile often.
  7. Do something nice for someone else, every day.

#4 and #5 have been huge for me lately and I think #6 and #7 will only help further boost my mood and positive energy.

Upwards & onwards, friends.

Do more. Read more.

Last night I finished reading Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef. I’m not proud of this accomplishment because the book was life changing (Eh, no!), or because I recommend it (What? They’re making it into a movie? No thanks.). I’m proud of this accomplishment because that puts my 2012 book total to 12; which means, I’ve completed another goal!

I think I’ve had a book goal every year for the past 5 years and this is the first time I’ve ever completed it (Crankypants can attest to this!). I give a lot of credit to the 2 book clubs I joined, but also to iBooks. If I hadn’t discovered how much I love reading on my phone, I probably would still be on book #3.

So what would I recommend from my 2012 collection? Easy…

  • Following Atticus: for any dog lovers out there
  • Unbroken: if you want to read an intense autobio
  • North and South: if you’re tired of reading Pride & Prejudice again and again
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: for a bit of Shakespeare without all the Shakespeare

Don’t worry, just because I’ve reached 12 doesn’t mean I’ll quit reading. I’ve already started Justin Halpern’s Shit My Dad Says. I know, I know…I did swear off nonfiction and autobiographies after the last two disastrous books but how could I say no to this one? It was on sale, had 5 stars, and I’ve already LOL’d twice…so at least I’ve already enjoyed it more than the last 2 books combined. Boom.

Lastly, in case you’re lagging because it’s September and you’re just looking forward to Christmas wishing you could skip the next few months. Here’s your Fall reminder: DO MORE!

Following Atticus

I was watching Animal Planet awhile back and discovered Tom & Atticus during a special on Schnauzers (maybe on Dog 101?). I downloaded the book instantly, but I had to wait patiently to read it as I was already knee deep in other book club books. I recently finished it in between other books and as I’m sure anyone could tell you – it comes highly recommended. Who wouldn’t love an inspirational story of one man and his wee dog? A story that touches your heart and reaffirms that:

  1. It’s never too late to change
  2. Even if you’re small, you can still do something BIG!

Maybe I’m just a sucker for puppies. Maybe I’m a dreamer too. But I can’t help but smile every time I read an update from Tom & Atticus (yes, he keeps a regular blog too!). So without further ado, some quotes from this amazing story that will hopefully inspire you to read and follow Atticus.

But I’d like to think that if we can get our lives just right and become who we were always supposed to be – if we become the people we dreamed of being when we were young and pure and innocent, then and only then do we find our way home again. I don’t think many make it. There are just too many distractions and obstacles. Yet I’ve come to believe that the worst we can do is to give up looking for it.

But that’s the thing about adventures – you’re invited to take a chance without knowing the outcome, and all that matters is that you say yes.

And finally, my favorite quote:

Someone asked me once why I would hike, or at least finish my hike, at night, alone with Atticus on a mountain if I feared the dark, even the slightest bit. Good question. I guess I wanted to believe I was beyond such fears. But it’s also because much of what I do with Atticus in the mountains is about being more than I have been in the past. It was about wanting to be a better me, about spitting in the eye of the witch.

 

ps. Following Atticus bumped me to 10 out of 12 books read for 2012. So close 🙂

MY element

Back in February, I shared a TED video of Sir Ken Robinson. He spoke about how schools kill creativity and stated that degrees aren’t worth anything. I was so intrigued by his thoughts that when he mentioned he was writing a book, I knew I wanted to read it. ASAP. His book, The Element – how finding your passion changes everything, was an amazing read.

I already knew 2012 was going to be a year of self discovery and really pushing myself towards something more, but his book helped me realize a lot of different things. Mainly, that it’s okay to ask for help and that it’s okay if you fail. Without those tidbits of knowledge, I had been feeling really overwhelmed.

How was I going to take the next step?
How was I going to put my big ideas into motion?
How was I going to get to where I wanted to be?

I still don’t have all the answers, but I feel calmer. And while my mind races on a daily basis, I make sure to document all my ideas and to focus on what’s happening now.

As always, when I read, I highlight passages that mean a lot to me. I really wanted to share so in case you don’t read The Element, you might feel just a little bit inspired too.

The result is that too many people never connect with their true talents and therefore don’t know what they’re really capable of achieving.

She just needed to be who she really was.

What is true is that if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

A lot depends on the opportunities we have, on the opportunities we create, and how and if we take them.

I could aim for the stars combined with the knowledge that if I didn’t reach them, she wouldn’t love me any less. She helped me understand that failure was part of any life.

Take good advice, make sure it is good advice, then do it your way.

And last, but certainly not least…

You’re going to be something…there is no other compromise, there is no if or you might; you are going to be something.

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