You are what you read?

July 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’m a firm believer in feeding my brain (and I think I do a much better job at what I feed my brain than what I feed my body … maybe there’s a lesson in there for me?).  I read mostly non-fiction and I have a variety of what used to be called “self-help” books in progress at any time.  Over the past several years, I’ve added several on-line sources of what I now will just categorize as “inspiration” though not in the traditional sense of being related to spiritual matters (though some are).  I find these readings inspirational because they open my eyes to new thoughts, ideas and possibilities.

Current Books:

Quitter by Jon Acuff: This is one that I’m in the middle of listening to on Audible.  It’s read by the author who feels a little full of himself, but with the ability to recognize his own ego and occasionally poke fun at himself.  He’s now employed by Dave Ramsey as a writer and speaker and he definitely has a message.  In this book, I’m learning new ways to think about my day job while also planning for the much-coveted “dream job” (which in my case hasn’t been identified, but I’m sure it exists nonetheless).

Lean-In by Sheryl Sandberg: I just finished listening to this one (not read by the author) and was really impressed with how much was thought-provoking, actionable and insightful even though I’ve been a lifelong feminist working woman, raised by at least three generations of feminist working women.  Before purchasing this book (which was recommended to me by a co-worker), I made sure I wasn’t investing a dime in the female CEO who recently eschewed maternity leave and has now revoked telecommuting for all employees (that was Marissa Mayer for those looking, the CEO of Yahoo, who is defended by Sandberg for her maternity choice, but who remains on my naughty list for her hypocrisy — she worked from home during her last tri-mester but subsequently made that option unavailable for employees).

A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson: I am trying to listen to this one periodically along with the companion book, Meditations for Weight Loss.  There is some good stuff in here and I really want to like Williamson (and have two other books of hers on my shelf unread), but her voice grates on me and her attempt to mix traditional images of God with new-age philosophies always feels contrived.  The audible Meditations do work for putting me to sleep and using the sleep timer option on my iPad, I can only hope that some of that good stuff is getting into my subconscious!

Recurring Books:

There are some books that I’ve had in progress for years because they either have homework that I’m “fixin to do” (for the Texans out there!) or because I get something back each time I pull them out.

Eight Weeks to Optimum Health by Andrew Weil: I started reading when my now-18-year-old daughter was a baby and I’ve honestly never gotten past the first few chapters, but those chapters CHANGED MY LIFE specifically news fasting and the power of breath.  I rarely pick the book up anymore, but have gone to for years whenever I wanted to understand a health issue and possible answers.

Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach: I read this all the way through the year I turned 40 and keep it the hard-copy by my bed and a Kindle copy on my cloud reader for morning mediation and journaling.  I had finally come to the realization that wanting is part of the human condition (after making myself stressed and crazy for years trying to satisfy all of my family’s wants without success) and this book helped me understand that so much of what makes our own lives special and memorable are simple, starting with gratitude.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin: I think I’ve read the book all the way through at least once, but I also read her blog so things get a bit blurred.  Rubin takes some of the things that spoke to me in Simple Abundance and carries them further with practical application as well as some other know-thyself types of things (are you an abstainer or a moderator?).

Current blogs or podcasts:

I use some blogs like I do Pinterest or Houzz — for visual inspiration.  I’ve categorized them as follows:

Bikey Stuff: because I dream of living in a bikeable town so I can get out of my car occasionally.
Bikeyface (I love her drawings) and LovelyBicycle (beautiful photographs of bikes).

Inspiration: these are just blogs with random tidbits like the above — usually the summary and photo is enough, but occasionally I click in.  This includes 1000 Awesome Things; Holy Kaw and The Happiness Project.

Future books:

I’ve already downloaded several on my Kindle or on Audible that are waiting to be started (or to be restarted when the time is right):

48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller

Get Satisfied: How 20 People Like You Found the Satisfaction of Enough by Carol Holst and Peter Whybrow

The Minimalist Woman’s Guide to Having it All by Meg Wolfe (I actually started this and there is homework — I’m working on my homework)

Loving Yourself Thin by Patricia Bacall

Quiet Influence by Jennifer Kahnweiler

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

The Firestarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte

Simplify by Joshua Becker

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker (recommended by a colleague at the FBI)

52 Small Changes by Brett Blumenthal

The Flinch by Julien Smith

Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam


William Morris Project — the “Starbucks Lounge” (formerly known as the office)

July 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

2013-07-05 08.28.21

I spent some time over the past two weeks clearing out clutter and finishing what we now affectionately call “the Starbucks Lounge” because it reminds me of some of the early Starbucks that we visited with comfy chairs and a general coffee house look.  Since most of our reading is now done on digital devices (computer, kindle, ipod, etc.), we have no need for bookshelves for our reading place (and in fact, my decluttering involved donation of four bookcases and their contents).  This room used to be my office.

What we love about this room:

1. The Art Wall — I’m blessed to have a “personal collection” of art — my daughter is an artist, one of my dearest friends is an artist, my father-in-law was an artist and his grandfather was an artist (skips a generation?)  My uncle was a photographer and some of his work will be on display in my living room once that’s complete.

2. The mismatched, accumulated-over-time look — the couch and coffee table came from the living room, the two wing chairs came from thrift stores several years ago and have been in use in other areas of the house.

3. The coziness — the walls are the same color as most in our house (as we bought it) but the color changes appearances in different light (you can see that in the photos).  It’s a warm color (called “Starbucks,” coincidentally) and though I find it a bit dark in some rooms, for this room, I love it.

4. The cost — so far, we’ve used items we already had elsewhere in the house so we haven’t spent any money.

5. The simplicity — As I’ve said before, I’m an aspiring semi-minimalist.  I’m not interested in white walls and sparse furnishings, but in having ONLY things that I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful (ala William Morris).  To prepare this room, we boxed and removed everything; decided what purpose we wanted the room to serve; decided what items would be required to fulfill that purpose; and removed everything else.

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Still to be done:

1. Some kind of window valance

2. Patching and touching up paint on leftover holes from the previous hanging artwork

3. Converting french doors to barn-style sliding doors (DH is doing this and currently has one door up for testing — we’re DIYing it rather than spending the $600 for the hardware we wanted.

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