Book em Dano! Spoiler alert: This is not about Hawaii 5 O

I once met a man who told me with great pride that he “wasn’t a reader”. He seemd not only proud of this fact, but worried that I might assume he was a reader and therefore judge him harshly. He was about to begin a story about getting spooked after reading a certain book, and he wanted it to be clear that the particular book in question was the ONLY book he’d ever read that wasn’t required for school. It was really hard for me not to give him the polite, yet condescending, golf clap.

There are two things wrong with this man, okay there were way more than two, but for the sake of this post lets go with two. The first was he thought that being viewed as a reader was a bad thing. That being a reader implied something negative about a person and so therefore it must be clear he is not associated with that group. The second was he thought I would understand or even agree with this. He clearly did not know his audience.

I am a reader! I am a proud reader. No seriously. I can remember reading long before starting school. Begging the librarian to let me check out the big kid books in the second grade, and often feeling like the only people who understood me were fictional. I love to read and I can’t understand people who don’t. I just don’t get it. I would never choose television over a good book. If I were trapped on an island I would want there to be books. When I am bored, or even doing other things, I am thinking about books.

It wasn’t until I started this blog that I realized just how much I love them, or how much a part of my life reading is. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t “in the middle” of a book. I always have something I’m reading laying around. I buy my next book usually before I finish my last book and ibooks is my new bff (we cuddle at night but don’t tell my husband) But writing this blog every week and posting the what I’m reading at the bottom was sort of an eye opener. I read at least one book a week, sometimes two, this past week three! (It was a great, can’t put it down trilogy. I won’t apologize for my level of nerdom. All hail Veronica Roth!)

Until what I was reading was there every week staring me in the face, forcing me to consider the author and the name, I didn’t realize I actually read that many books a year.  If I keep up my current pace, by the time the blog reaches its one year anniversary I will have read close to 70 books. Seventy!  Even I can’t fathom that, and I am the zealot reading them.

I have been looking for a happier life and a more peaceful way of being. I now realize, through sharing my weekly book choice, that reading is one of the ways I find peace. Call it escaping, letting my imagination run wild, or just plain old entertainment, books are still some of my best friends and I am grateful I get to spend my spare time with them. They never complain about how far away my house is or the dog hair on the couch. They never judge my unbruushed hair or my snack choice. Books just beam happiness that I am reading, the rest doesn’t matter to them.

How we spend our free time says a lot about us, and I think it also determines our happiness, creativity, thoughtfulness, and outside human interactions (wait there are real humans out there?). I work a full time job from home with two children under the age of 4. Its sort of like having 5 jobs and spinning like a top while you balance plates on your nose. It sucks all available time and energy from your body and mind. Sure I am always home and available to do laundry and dishes between tushy wipes and dull government requirement editing, so I don’t have a lot of chores left when the work day is officially over, but I also have little alone time or moments to breathe.

When the work day is over, and I have created a wonderful home cooked gluten free meal for my men, I clean up, give baths, feed dogs, put children to bed and finally crash on the couch. I then spend questionable “quality time” (how can mindless tv be quality?) with my husband while we watch our favorite television shows for about an hour and a half (there are over 200 hundred hours of things stored on the DVR and we will never have enough time to watch them all). Then, when the night is still and my children are done stirring and my husband is snoring, I finally get to read. I only tell you about my day so you don’t tell me you don’t have time to read. If I can eek out even an hour at the end of the day, then I think just about anyone can.  Most people spend three times that watching terrible television. There is no excuse for not reading.

I love my time alone in the dark reading books that make me laugh, make me think, make me fall in love with new people I will never get to meet only to bring me back down when they die. I love that I don’t need anything but a single book to make the world okay, and make my fears and stress disappear.  Reading a book is like escaping to another world where I don’t matter, where no one needs me to feed them, pay bills, or remember to give medicine. Books make me feel alive and whole. Is it any wonder I want to get my own book published? Nothing could be greater in this world than knowing as an author that your words reach thousands of people, inspire them to change, challenge them to think. Wow the power of the written word!

I recently read about people making promises to themselves to run every day from Thanksgiving to New Years. I thought that was pretty cool and maybe I would do that too. Setting goals is a great way to achieve dreams and often times something bigger. Then I remembered I don’t run. The fact that I read this while running on a treadmill is merely ironic and hardly noteworthy. But there are things I do do. And there are goals I can make, that I can achieve, that will make me happier and healthier. And that is, after all, the goal of this blog. Happiness, peace, realization, intentionality, Zen.

So my goal is to read, everyday for at least two hours. This should get me two books a week without much of a problem. The books will be fiction and not about anything that touches my own life. In other words I don’t want to read about motherhood, sick babies, or dysfunctional relatives. I don’t want my mind to linger or stray to real life. I want books that take me somewhere new and make me believe that great things are happening, even if the great thing is just perfect literature. I challenge you to read. I challenge even the “not a readers” out there to pick up a book and just start (and Yes Candace I mean you!). You never know who you will meet, where you will go, or what you will learn. You will never know how great it can be until you do it.

What book will you read?

As a sub goal, I want to write everyday as well. I want to write my ass off. Now who wants to babysit two sweet angelic boys while I do that?

 

What I am reading: The Entire Divergent Series by Veronica Roth. I don’t even know how to gush on about how much I love these books. I’d tell you that if you like the Hunger Games you will like these, but that would be wrong to compare these books to anything else. I just finished the third book last night, and the nerd in me is going to read them again.

What I am listening to: Little Lion Man by Mumford and Sons

Now moment of the week: Hanging Christmas tree lights with my husband. I always wanted outdoor lights as a kid but we never did them. I think my little kid mind felt you had to have a daddy to do them. I used to drive by houses counting which houses had daddies and which did not, like the lights were a badge of identification, honor. I never did them as an adult either. It seemed like a lot of hassle without little kids to be in awe. But this year we did them together, Mommy and Daddy. And we laughed, and it was silly and over too quickly for me. And now I promise you, and the little girl inside me, that we will always have Christmas lights on our house this time of year. (not year round of course, my husband maybe a redneck but I am not, after all I’m a “reader” ;))

Inspirations from the ether: Amazon Prime. I really can’t say too many awesome things about it. I’ve had it a year now and given our gluten free celiac status it makes grocery shopping for specialty items easy and shipping is free. I can read books for free on my kindle and watch tv and movies for free through my Blue ray player. Seriously, I heart Amazon Prime. You complete me Amazon Prime.

Holiday Survival Guide For The Intentional

*Note- If you are living an accidental life, allowing the world to whisk you along wherever it fancies unaided, then you probably want to go back to the beginning of my blog. If you are not comfortable making choices that benefit you, and are in line with your beliefs and goals, you may want to avoid the rest of this post. Because the only way I know to survive the holidays is by being true to yourself. And the only way I know to do that is to live an intentional life.

Living intentionally can be hard on the best day, it can be difficult on the worst day, and it can feel darn right impossible on a holiday. I have found that being true to myself often means being at odds with others. Those others, be they family or friends, can make personal change or being honest the hardest thing you will ever have to do because often it means losing them in your life or making them upset and uncomfortable with your decisions.

I don’t think I know a single person who gets excited to spend time with family during the holidays. Everyone seems to have some complaint or another about one person or another that they wish wasn’t going to be there or who brings them strife. I get it, trust me I get it. But that being said, it made me start to wonder why? Why do we all have so many problems or become stressed out during the holidays just because it means more time with our families? Shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t we be excited or relish the time to relax with family instead of seeing it as an obligation or something we will have to “get through”?

The only core reason I can come up with is people’s inability to accept that we are all  individuals full of successes and failures, people who are continually striving to be better and find more peace. I don’t care what your problem is, “My mother doesn’t think I cook well” “my father was never around” “my friend didn’t return my calls/texts/emails” at the core of it all is your insecurity and their inability to accept you (which guess what? is fueled by their insecurities).

Voila! I just solved the biggest problem people have with friends, family, and the holidays. You’re welcome.

So there it is in a nutshell my friends. You hate the holidays and visiting family because you are insecure and not confident in your intentional identity. And everyone else you know, who you dread seeing during the holidays, is insecure in themselves and terrified that anyone living an intentional identity is clearly trying to be better and if the other person is better than they by default they are not, so they should knock down the intentional liver with cruel/sarcastic, biting comments and digs until everyone is reduced to tears, shouting, or silent gross misunderstandings happen that take until New Years to sort out.

If you are one of the lucky few who enjoys the holiday season, never feels stress and thinks all your friends and family are the cat’s pajamas then congratulations, you have arrived at nirvana, or probably the closest you are going to get this time of year. If you are not one of those people, then this time of year can drive you to emotional eating/drinking, reverting to old habits you have been trying to shake, most definitely not living intentionally, and scurrying around trying to make everyone else happy while you fall apart. hint hint… if we all spent a little time making ourselves happy, then we would be happy. But I digress…

Please, stop. Just stop. For one holiday season try something brand new and see how it feels. It can’t be worse than previous years. You cannot change the way other people act. You cannot change their choices or their words. But you can change yourself and how you react. You can help maneuver others into feeling better so they act better.

The first step is to acknowledge how awesome you are. You aren’t perfect, but you are pretty great and if you have been following me on this path of trying to live intentionally then you have also accomplished a lot and hopefully changed some in the last 6 months. With any luck you feel better, look better, and have more inner peace that allows you to think before you speak or lose your temper. You’ve come a long way, and there is no shame in that. At all. Anyone who tries to make you feel differently, you can politely ignore.

Here are the rest of your survival tips in an easy to use list format:

  1. review your awesomeness
  2. limit your to do list so you don’t feel stressed. Seriously, it does NOT all need to get done.
  3. delegate responsibilities to others and be relaxed and flexible if they don’t get done, and some of them won’t
  4. do not make any decisions based on what other people expect of you (who hasn’t picked out a specific outfit because you know it is what others expect you to wear? but you hate it)
  5. do make decisions that make you happy and are true to your intentional life (If you always feel terrible after going to celebrate with a relative then politely decline and say your sticking close to home this year)
  6. when your relative gets angry, say you are sorry once and then move on (you probably are sorry, you do wish they were nicer and you could spend the holidays together). If they can’t move on it isn’t your problem, it is theirs. Remember that one of your expectations in life is to be treated fairly and respectfully by people who claim to love you. If they don’t offer that, then you owe them nothing.
  7. stop feeling like you need to live up to another’s expectation of you. You are your only judge and trust me you are already too hard on yourself, you don’t need anyone else telling you your job isn’t good enough, your husband drinks too much, or a second piece of pie will go straight to your thighs.
  8. offer peace and love to everyone you care about, even those who have trouble returning it in kind. This is about your choices in life and how you choose to live, live with love and kindness. Eventually, it will be returned to you.
  9. take care of yourself so you are in top shape to cope with unexpected barbs and daggers. Get lots of sleep, drink lots of water, do not overindulged in alcohol or food, take your vitamins, and above all keep a smile on your face.
  10. Fill your holidays with the things that will bring joy to you and those around you. Do not allow negativity to seep in, it has a tendency to grow and fester like a bad flesh-eating bacteria. If your decorations go array just laugh it off, I bet its funny if you look at it just so. If your relative is cruel, remember your awesomeness, people are cruel and withholding for only one reason, they are insecure. Do not let them draw you in. If you gain 5 pounds, just remember a little insulation is okay sometimes.

I used to love the holidays as a kid, probably because I was too young to see what the adults had to go through to pull it all off. As an adult I tried to capture the magic and eventually gave up because of the stress and negative feelings that always seemed to result in my trying. But ever since I started living intentionally, making decisions that benefit my family and myself, cutting the fat of my life, recognizing who my real family and friends are, the holidays have been something I breeze thru with nary a scratch. I suspect this year will be the best season for me in many years. I am surrounded by those who love me. I’ve learned how to cope with negativity. I’m working on my patience. I have finally found a balance for taking care of myself. Plus, I have two little people who are already wrapped up in the excitement and wonder the season provides. Two little people who will not be disappointed by my sub par turkey, my unbrushed hair, my 10-year-old sweater, my muffin top, my empty bank account, my blue carpet, or my fake tree.

I am lucky. I am fortunate. But I am also strong and brave. I made this happen. It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a fluke. I wanted it. I worked for it. Now its time to have my pie and eat it too!

What I am reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth. Super quick read, I can’t put it down. I love dystopia!

What I am listening to: Best Day of my Life by American Authors

Now moment of the week: Snuggling with my four-legged children. No wonder people who share their lives with dogs are healthier.

IMG_3040

Inspirations from the ether: 14 habits of highly miserable people thank you Jessica for bringing this to my attention. Everyone should just double check it real quick to make sure they aren’t doing these.

Theory of Opposites

I’m currently reading an interesting bit of fiction that I was drawn to because of its story line of choice and what would happen if you made every single choice intentionally the polar opposite of what you thought you really wanted or had initially planned to make. The idea piqued my interest not just as a fun book to read but the concept itself and what might my life REALLY be like if I indeed attempted to do just that. How might my now look different if I had started doing this 10 years ago, and what might my ten years from now look like if I did this right now?

The book assumes one of two things when it postulates this concept to the heroine. Either she one, must not be making decisions at all, aka just going with the flow of life and allowing life to happen to her; with the idea being that no matter what you do you are destined to end up in the same place so what is the point of fighting the inevitable. Or two, that she is making decisions but those decisions are still based on the initial concept of her actions truly have no impact on the eventual result so she might as well just make the easy choice if it is all going to be the same in the end. No risk, no muss, no fuss.

So if I am going to truly consider this concept I have to decide if I think my fate or destiny is in fact static and pre determined. hm… this is a tough one for me to buy into. Perhaps because I have seen first hand how my intentional choices, purposeful actions, and seemingly wild decisions have sent me down pathways I am convinced I never would have gone down otherwise. I don’t really buy this theory to being with. I think my fate, my future, is something still in flux and being altered daily depending on my choices. The choice to get up or sleep in. The choice to read to my children or make them play outside. The decision to pursue writing or just forget it and be happy with my 9-5 job. All of these choices will no doubt have an impact on where I will be in the future.

or will they?

When I was 23 I moved from my home town to Oregon. A state I didn’t know much about, and a city I knew even less about. I took a fairly big risk. I knew no one, I had no income, and no where to live. That road lead me to owning my own successful business, a string of useless relationships, becoming a home owner, a failed business, and the addition of two more dogs. Had I stayed in Colorado, and even more to the point stayed in my then relationship, I can almost guarantee I would not have done any of that. But here in lies the rub, it is now many years later and I am back in my home town, by choice, but still, does this possibly mean that inevitably this is where I was always meant to be and I could have saved myself the struggle of the last 15 years if I’d just stayed put in the first place? Would I have met my husband? had my crazy children? found a work from home job?

I don’t know. Highly doubtful. Or is it just that I would have met some husband, had some children, and worked some job, potato patato?

I think I have actually subscribed more to the logic of infinite universes. You know the nerd theory that there are an infinite you in an infinite universes and each one is slightly different because they all made just slightly different choices in their world than the ones I make in mine, and for each choice there is a subsequent split into two more universes. There is a me who chose to stay in bed this morning is by chance having a better or worse day because of it. For instance, there is a universe where I might have tried illegal drugs, married my high school sweetheart, or even died in a motorcycle accident. All because of choices the me in those worlds have made as they live every day life. To go to college or not go? To marry or not marry? Have children or not? Read this book or that? eat this or that?

This theory, that our choices matter so much that the resulting life possibilities is limitless is by far a more reasonable and logical theory than the idea that everything is inevitable no matter what you do so just let life take you like a river and enjoy the easy ride down stream. I will say, often, I am envious of those who seem perfectly content to take the easy ride down steam, then I remind myself how limited their life experiences usually are and what they are probably missing out on just by lack of variation alone. I wonder if it is fear or anxiety that stops them from taking chances, leaping, or even just standing a little bit on the edge.

So I believe we impact our own lives and our futures with every choice we make. I believe there is no pre determined fate or destiny. I believe we can alter our path at any moment if we are willing to make decisions that are hard, different, sometimes scary, often wonderful, but never just going with the flow. So, if I find any inspiration in this work of fiction, it would be that maybe my decisions are not always the best. Perhaps they are clouded with over thinking or past mistakes. Maybe over time choices and decisions become less authentic as we are clouded by life experience and disappointment. It is the old adage of learning rom our mistakes or saying “if I could go back in time”. Sure if you could go back you might make a different choice, hoping against hope that the new choice would avoid whatever outcome it is you found so displeasing, but there is no guarantee that the new choice won’t lead to something worse than you already experienced. So what would be the point?

But, this isn’t about fixing old choices and their outcomes, this is about making new choice without the bas of thought and experience. This is about making decisions based on the decision alone, not the outcome. So you feel like a burger? then you get the salad. Want to sleep in? Too bad, get up. Planning on avoiding the holiday Christmas party? Nope, you’re going. Maybe listening to our gut limits our lie and the opportunities that we are presented with. Maybe playing it safe, or in our comfort zone, or basing decisions on rational thought prevents us from truly living? I’m not advocating walking into fire because you gut tells you not to, duh. I’m just saying that the next time you think you know what is best for you, you think you already have the answer, its just right there on the tip of your tongue, maybe this time you just do the opposite. After all, it was your choices that got you where you are, now where would you be if your choices were just the opposite?

What I am reading: The Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scotch. I was up till 1 am reading this. I really like it.

What I am listening to: Ways to go, by Grouplove

Inspirations from the ether: So many this week, wow. Anything about the Batkid, seriously if you don’t know what I’m talking about Google Batkid.

Now moment of the week: Scavenging the yard with little men looking for tennis balls on their “bikes” while dogs stalk us looking to steal said tennis balls.