One of my goals for 2016 is to read and write more. Recently, I clicked on an article that someone had shared on their Facebook page. It was called “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose” by Mark Manson and question #2 was ‘What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?’ His response was that he used to love writing and he had stopped for a reason he did not recall. And that got me thinking… why did I stop writing? As a kid, I used to read and write constantly. I had a journal where I would write original stories complete with illustrations (my dream was to become an author / illustrator). I went to writing camp, yes. Writing camp. I had a wild imagination and many of my stories were inspired by my reading. I preferred mystery and thriller and every other week, I would buy an R.L. Stine Fear Street book from B.Dalton books at the mall.
These days, I’ll admit, I am social media addict and am very attached to my phone / computer. I constantly check my email, scroll my Instagram and Facebook feeds and browse Pinterest whenever I find myself with any down time (or when I’m nursing / pumping, first waking up, before I go to bed, etc). It’s become habitual and in an effort to replace some of time-sucking, mindless scrolling, I ordered an assortment of [used] books off Amazon. I made a point to order the physical books, not the e-book version, as this is very important as a means of disconnecting. For Christmas, my husband gave me a Five Minute Journal, which I’ll expand on in another post, but basically, you spend 5 minutes in the morning writing down what you are grateful for, what would make that day great and a positive affirmation for the day. It really does make every bit of difference starting and ending the day that way. Now, armed with my coffee, I spend about an hour each morning writing in my journal as well as reading.
I prefer to read non-fiction and books that encourage personal growth / self-improvement, so my most recent purchases included, The Five Love Languages of Children, Hands Free Mama (to encourage disconnecting and being more present), Gift from the Sea (considered a classic fiction), and Carry On, Warrior – The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, a compilation of reflections / essays that I am currently reading. The book starts out a little heavy – Glennon, the author is recounting her battle with addiction and eating disorders; emotional memories from her past. She was talking about these major life struggles and at first, I really had trouble connecting to her story – I’ve never experienced pain or recklessness the way she had. But, as I read further into her essays, her message became clear. ‘Her writing invites us to believe in ourselves, to be brave and kind, to let go of the idea of perfection, and to stop making motherhood, marriage, and friendship harder by pretending they’re not hard.’ [from Amazon] This book has inspired me in so many ways. Some pages hit really close to home and tug at my heart strings and others have me literally laughing out loud. Her openness and honesty has encouraged me to be honest with myself. She has no shame and leaves it all out on the table which makes her stories both heart-rendering and hilarious. Her writing has encouraged me to write more – a big part of why I started this blog.
“If, anywhere in your soul, you feel the desire to write, please write. Write as a gift to yourself and others. Everyone has a story to tell. Writing is not about creating tidy paragraphs that sound lovely or choosing the ‘right’ words. It’s about noticing who you are and noticing life and sharing what you notice.” – Glennon Doyle Melton
In one essay, she refers to ‘reading as her inhale and writing as her exhale’. As a kid, I considered reading and writing my escape. I loved getting lost in stories. As I got older, reading and writing lost its charm. It became an expectation through school and while I would still occasionally write in a diary, it wasn’t until much later in life that I realized how much I’d been getting lost in other people’s stories – through Facebook and Instagram – and focusing less on myself. Circling back – this is why I’ve come to love books that promote personal growth, encourage deeper thinking, educate, and that tell stories that I can relate to.
Here are a few of my favorite books that I’ve read (or listened to) over the past 6 months… (you will definitely notice a trend):
- Essentialism, Greg McKeown
- Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
- Wild Mama, Carrie Visintainer
- Happiest Baby on the Block, Harvey Karp
- Baby Led Weaning, Gill Rapley
- Sage Parenting, Rachel Rainbolt
Book buying tip: My husband is an avid reader and probably orders one book a week off Amazon. Books can get expensive, but if you click on the ‘Used’ link on the product page, you can typically find books for $.01 + $3.99 shipping, or some combination of price + shipping that will save you a little money in the end. Plus, I like the idea of buying used – it’s a reminder that we don’t always need everything brand new.