Brain food

At the beginning of the month, I shared my body-related goals for the new year. Next up is working out the ol’ noodle.

Though simple, here are the few ways I am leaning in to challenging my mind in 2017.

Books! Is there any simpler pleasure than curling up to a good read? I think not. 

Each year, I attempt to set a reading goal. In past years, I’ve forgotten to keep track of the books I’ve read, or simply forgot what my book goal for the year was. Thank goodness for Goodreads! They make creating and tracking my reading goal super easy peasy. Last year’s goal was a bit lofty, at 50 books. Especially since I didn’t actually set my goal and begin tracking until spring or summer. Still, I ended the year having read 21 books. Not too shabby. For 2017, I am taking a step back, being realistic -finding time to read between work life and real life is tough enough. Now I am becoming a first-time mom!- and holding myself to finishing 30 books.

My current read: Big Little Lies

To be honest, this isn’t a book I would have picked up on my own. Not for any particular reason. I just don’t think it would have really ever caught my eye on its own. I began reading it because it is the ‘pick of the month’ in the book club that I am a part of. About 6 years ago, a few coworkers and I thought it’d be fun to all read Night Circus (I believe that was our first), and then get together for coffee and share our thoughts. That casually carried on a few books later, until we suddenly realized we had a bit of a book club going. Over the years, there have been times where we meet only every so often, and ladies have come and gone, but the core four or five of us have stuck through. It’s turned into a sort of monthly (or bi-monthly depending on the season) books and brunch lady date. 

I really can’t be more pleased and intrigued with this read so far. It’s the perfect mix of murder mystery meets day-in-the-life-of-an-average-mom (or ‘mum’ since it’s set in Australia). I’m about halft way in, and am bracing myself for what I am sure will be a fabulous twist, as the details of the ‘tragic incident’ slowly unravel with each turn of the page.

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Top 3 on my to-read list:

1) The Happiness Project

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The idea of spending a full year attempting to uncover the root of happiness is what caught my interest initially. I don’t actually know anyone personally who has read this book, but have read nothing but great reviews on it.

In no way am I not seeking an entire life transformation. I am quite happy with where my life’s journey has taken me so far. However, I do think we can all use a few tips on improving certain areas in our life. And I am definitely not opposed to a bit of personal growth.

2) Girlboss

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Sophia Amoruso’s rags to riches -or drifter to CEO- story of success is nothing short of motivating. And I haven’t even turned to the first page! Maybe it’s that I like the idea of rooting for the underdog. Or maybe I like the reminder that even humble beginnings can lead to great success. Either way, I had to pick up a copy when I saw this book in my work’s employee library.

3) Unashamed

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I fell in deep, deep like with Christine Caine after hearing her speak at 2016’s Pink Impact. She is so charged. She electrifies the stage in a way that makes it impossible not to be captivated and hang on her every word. Her style of public speaking is so personable (like talking to your favorite aunt), somewhat raw, and just . . . motivating!

What sparked my interest in her book Unashamed, is the idea that we’ve all been raised in a world full of shame. We grow up feeling ashamed of our mistakes, inadequacies, past, present . . . You name it. Even in my happiest moments in life, I am still carrying around my personal baggage of shame. In this book she invites the reader to change her perspective, and using faith, move forwards towards a shame-free life.

In addition to broadening my mind with books, I’ve recently made meditation a part of my daily practice. Nineteen days. That is where I am currently at. Not yet a full month, but I am already seeing the benefits of just taking a few minutes a day to press pause, turn all my attention inward, and just be. On work days, I commit myself to just five minutes. It doesn’t seem like all that long, which was sort of the point when I first made that my initial goal. I didn’t want to hold myself to an amount of time that would then have to compete with the other various tasks and responsibilities of my day-to-day. Longer meditations -well long to me, at 10 to 15 minutes- are reserved for weekends, when I can just sit in utter peace and quiet for a bit longer.

Mostly, I carve out time right in the mornings. It really does have a way of kickstarting my day off on just the right note. Especially after a night of rough sleep -which is becoming more common as this little bun of mine grows bigger and bigger- or on gloomy days, when I would rather hit snooze, curl up, pull the comforter over my head, and stay in bed all day. There have been a few nights where I’ve set time aside right before turning in for the night. That has proven to be helpful after a stressful day, or on a night when I can feel the onset of sleeplessness.

Along the same vein, journaling has once again found it’s way back into my daily routine. I kept a journal all through middle school and high school. It was my lifeline back then, being the perfect, unbiased friend to unload the day’s joys and worries onto. I guess you could say it was my first form of meditation, helping me to completely empty my mind of all its contents. For some reason, I’ve had a tough time keeping up with writing daily as an adult. And not for lack of trying. I just can never seem to stick with it. Yet, I’ve recently found myself easily filling the pages of my pretty, pink Kate Spade journal. It may seem a too-simple goal, but it is a goal of mine for the year none the less. Part of my personal challenge is alternating my regular journal with my ‘40ish Weeks Pregnancy Journal‘ and this little blog of mine.

Read. Write. And practice inward peace. Where are you channeling your mental growth for the year?



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