reading · writing

What To Do With ME Time #mind #soul

Having ME Time is exponentially more valuable now that I’m a parent.  This morning, I was gifted an extra two hours of ME time thanks to a two-hour delayed opening at my office.  I debated going into the office early, but rejected that idea quickly.  Our friend comes to the house every Tuesday to watch Teddy and her son, so extra Teddy time was out.  It’s miserably cold outside (hence the two-hour delay) so taking a walk or a jog is out.  Inevitably I end up spending my ME time doing one of my two favorite things: reading or writing.

On weekend days, Teddy naps for an hour or two in the afternoon. That’s a solid chunk of ME time, and I usually set it aside for reading or writing.

reading-is-the-inhale-writing-is-the-exhale-quote-1The thing is – I feel a little guilty when I decide to read instead of write.  If writing’s my dream, and I need practice and commitment and hard work to achieve my dream, then shouldn’t I focus on that for all or most of my precious ME time?

No.  Reading is my inhale and writing is my exhale.  If I never inhale, how can I exhale?  If I never read, how do I feed the part of me that fell so in love with the written word that I feel compelled to write myself?

This weekend, I experienced this conflict, and ended up typing away on the blog and taking little breaks to read.  It helped that the book I was reading was Story Craft, a nonfiction book about writing narrative nonfiction stories.  It feeds both my love of reading and my motivation to get better at writing.

 

books + reading · reading

#soul #mind

Usually I read fiction and I write nonfiction.  This has been my pattern for several years.

Lately, this has flipped.  I’m devouring nonfiction – memoirs, books about writing – and busily writing short stories whenever I get the chance.

I love the feeling I get when I have a good idea for a short story.  I get a little obsessed – but in a good way, not a oh my gosh what am I going to do with my wild precious life way.

No short story ideas are consuming my mind currently, however, so I’m taking the opportunity to do a little writing about myself.

I learned how to crochet when I was 20 years old.  I’d just started a year with AmeriCorps, and a few of my fellow Corps members were volunteering for a local charity, crocheting or knitting hats or baby blankets for children and families in need.  A friend taught me, and then everyone in my family got a scarf for Christmas.

I still crochet, almost 15 years later.  I’m not much more advanced than I was back then; most of the things I create are square.  I’ve been working on a baby blanket on and off for the past year.  I make a little progress every Monday morning, when I have a standing meeting with some good friends to drink coffee and share.

There’s a thing that happens when you’re crocheting.  Yarn gets tangled.  Even if you’re really careful – yarn gets tangled.  And it doesn’t just get a little tangled, at least not in my world.  It somehow comes to life and enters into a passionate samba that results in yarn criss-crossing back and forth through my crochet bag, on the floor, around the legs of the table holding my coffee, and then weaving back together into a giant, unmistakable, unavoidable knot.

I’m accustomed to these knots.  When I notice them, I sit patiently and untangle a little at a time.  I don’t rush; if I start to notice that I’m not making progress, I tear the yarn, remove the knot, and tie the two new ends together, and continue crocheting.

Every once in a while, a friend will notice me calmly untangling, tugging, pulling, and they will explode with frustration for (or perhaps at?) me.  “How do you do that?” they ask, bewildered.  “I would lose my mind.”

The first time I heard this, I paused.  I lose my mind a MINIMUM of five times monthly.  And that is generous.  I would say, more honestly, that I sometimes lose my mind every single day.  

But this particular issue – tangled yarn – does not make me lose my mind.  Clearly I have reached enlightenment, even if it’s just in this one uber-specific area of living.

But usually, in my life, I’m more like that friend.  I rip and I tear at the tangled yarn.  I spend days agonizing over how the damn yarn got tangled in the first place, and beating myself for allowing the tangling to occur.

This week, however, something has shifted.  I have the same ‘problems’ I had last week.  But I’m not trying to mentally wrestle them into submission.  I’m patiently and calmly untangling threads with little stress or worry.

 

Nothing has changed but my attitude and my approach.  And I’m incredibly grateful for the mental reprieve.

blogging · books + reading · snapshots · writing

SNAPSHOT #mind #soul #spirit

The pretext of my blogging is that I write about balance – about ways that I nourish my heart, my soul, my mind, my body, and my spirit.

Every once in a while, I find myself with a scattering of thoughts I want to share, and I include a snapshot – just a little list of ways that I’m nourishing each aspect of self.  These lists help me to feel grounded and less scattered.  They’re also a good reminder of what I am nourishing and what I’m neglecting.

Here’s today’s snapshot:

-I am on a crazy Book Binge right now!  It started with Glennon Doyle’s two books, followed by Roxane Gay’s Hunger (incredible), and then Before The Fall by Noah Hawley (so good).  I just finished one of my Book Of The Month Club books, The Love Interest, and have moved on to No One Knows by J. T. Ellison.  #mind

-In early June, I spent several days my commute listening to Brene Brown’s latest CD, Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice.  She is amazing.  The CD is amazing.  My number one takeaway was this: you have to recognize when something – a conflict, a resentment – has you hooked.  You have to make a note when something has gotten under your skin, and get curious about it.  #mind #soul

-I am trying something new: posting a quote-slash-picture on my heartsoulmindbody Facebook page every day.  I really don’t know why I decided to do this, but I’m enjoying it.  It’s almost like a little daily check-in or prayer; the quote reveals itself when the time is right, and I put it out in the universe.  I have maybe three followers on the heartsoulmindbody Facebook page (you can follow here if you want), so it’s not really about connecting or publicizing.  It’s just a little message from me to the universe, or from the universe to me.  #soul

-I wrote a story!  It’s been a really long time since I finished a short story, and I have felt wonderful ever since the idea for their story popped into my head.  It is flawed and needs editing, and it will never be perfect.  But I wrote it, and I’m so, so grateful.  #mind #soul

books + reading · reading

My Ideal Bookshelf #heart #mind

My sister has been working on a really fun project – commissioning a painting of her favorite books from http://www.idealbookshelf.com.

Of course, this got me thinking about my ideal bookshelf, and I realized that I haven’t yet listed my all-time favorite books on heartsoulmindbody.  WHAT IF SOMEONE WANTS TO SURPRISE ME WITH A PAINTING OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS?  Where 63b18e7dc58e89f264592c3cfeb82912would they get my list?!

Anyway – ahem.  In no particular order:

The Gifts Of Imperfection – Brene Brown

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

Animal Dreams – Barbara Kingsolver

Animal Vegetable Miracle – Barbara Kingsolver

Boomsday – Christopher Buckley

Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer

The Witch Of Portobello – Paolo Coelho

Ishmael – Daniel Quinn

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling

Anne Of The Island – L.M. Montgomery

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

Seven Types Of Ambiguity – Elliot Perlman

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See

The Brooklyn Follies – Paul Auster616573e4317d6dbe1d5e253550f53c13

My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante

Bird By Bird – Anne Lamott

The Baron In The Trees – Italo Calvino

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being – Milan Kundera

Writing Down The Bones – Natalie Goldberg

Even Cowgirls Get The Blues – Tom Robbins

Buddhism Plain And Simple – Steve Hagen

The thing is – when one of my favorite bookstores, Ukazoo Books, closed down temporarily (they’re reopening soon!), I went on a supportive shopping spree and bought a lot of my favorite titles.  So – I may not ever need a painting like my sister has.  🙂  Time will tell.

books + reading · reading

I Can’t Stop Reading Notorious RBG #mind #spirit

I am often mocked for the size of my handbag.

I almost always carry a huge, heavy purse – heavy because I carry my planner, a journal, and at least one book everywhere I go.

I even bring my books to work, even though I know I won’t get to read while I’m there.

For the past week, every day at work I’ve had at least one moment at work when I’ve looked longingly at the book sticking out of my bag:

Why have I not always been obsessed with RBG?

I’ve been in a reading rut lately.  Work’s been crazy (ugh) and there hasn’t been a lot of time to really sink into a book.

That changed with NotoriousRBG: The Life And Times Of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  I’m not usually that into nonfiction, but I ate this book up.  READ IT.