Month: January 2015

21-day Kindness Challenge, day twenty: do less

21-day kindness challenge

I think the quote today (below) really sums it all up! I used to have a problem with thinking I had to stay busy in perpetua, and I would feel really guilty if I spent too much time relaxing with a cup of tea or reading a magazine or doing some other “frivolous” activity. Now I have no problem taking that time for myself to just relax and enjoy the moment. These little “pauses” help me refresh and refuel so I can focus on the things that are really important to me.

John Lennon quote

I’ve also realized that prioritizing is so, so important, not only for organization, but for happiness. Not everything has to be tackled at once. Sometimes my number one priority is to take a walk outside or to snuggle with the cats and read, so if that means taking care of a handful of truly demanding tasks (publishing a blog post, or paying a bill) and letting less-important things slide for a day. (Do I really have to clean the dishwasher right this instant? Probably not.) It’s also made me realize that there really is no excuse for not fitting in things like a workout or time to eat a proper meal–I just have to prioritize those things instead of making excuses for why I’m “too busy”.

Quote: “Busyness is not a reason for not getting other things done. It is an excuse for not claiming your true priorities.”  — Alan Cohen

Book review: ‘Specters in a City of Ruin’, by Nathan Ritter (plus a giveaway!)

Specters in a City of Ruin

Specters in a City of Ruin (The Mind Trips of SCAM #2), by Nathan Ritter (66 pages, Kindle). Buy it here on Amazon. (Snag it for free until February 1st!)

A couple of weeks ago I gave you guys a review (and an author interview!) of Heroes in a World Reborn, the first in a new series of kids’ books, with a fun twist: the books are meant to be read while listening to classic music albums.  Now the sequel, Specters in a City of Ruin, is available on Amazon–and for a few short days, you can download it for free (so hurry!).

This book is meant to be read to Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album What’s Going On (which you can find here on YouTube). Just a day has passed since Max and Rob went on their first music-fueled adventure and founded S.C.A.M. (the Secret Club of Ancient Music), but they’re eager to go back to Uncle Lou’s and have another adventure.

However, things aren’t going so smoothly for the boys today. For starters, they can’t stop arguing about the rules for their new club. And when they choose a record from Uncle Lou’s stash, instead of a vibrant fantasy world, they find themselves transported to a dead city filled with phantoms and skeletons. What’s happening, and how will they get home?

If you have eight-to-twelve-year-old kids who enjoy fantasy adventures and music, they’ll love this series. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger that nicely sets up the third book in the series.

And for those of you who haven’t read the first book in the series, I’m giving away a Kindle copy this week! Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter, and don’t forget to download your free copy of book two before Sunday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

21-day Kindness Challenge, day nineteen: take a walk outside

21-day kindness challenge

Today’s challenge was to take a walk outside and “find joy in the ordinary”. It’s funny that this popped up, because this week we’ve actually had mild temps (forties) and sunny weather (gasp!), and so I’ve been able to get outside for a leisurely neighborhood stroll to enjoy the weather. It feels so good to breathe fresh air and feel the sun on my face, instead of sitting inside–and after the cold, wet, grey weather we’ve been having, it was quite heavenly! Very hard to go back inside.

Quote: “Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.”  — Antonio Machado

21-day Kindness Challenge, days 17 & 18: gratitude/saying “no”

21-day kindness challenge

Day seventeen of the challenge involved listing ten things you’re grateful for, and honestly I can think of way more than ten off the top of my head, from the silly to the serious: access to clean water, abundant food, my cats, freedom to read what I want without repercussions (education, especially for women, is not always so widely accessible in the world). I’m grateful for the love of my family. I’m grateful that the sun is shining today, that I’m fairly healthy, and that the computer hasn’t crashed on me today. I’m grateful that we have heat (unlike one of my friends, who is trying to fix his furnace for the second time this winter) and that I got a really cute shirt on sale for $6 on Saturday.

The list goes on, but you get the idea. When you start thinking about all the things you have to be grateful for, it makes all the “unhappy” or “un-thankful-for” parts of your life seem to recede.

Quote: “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  — Thornton Wilder

For day eighteen, we’re supposed to practice saying “no” to commitments or invitations if they’re not something truly interesting/enlightening. The idea is to be more conscious of how you spend your time. I used to feel really guilty about turning down invitations but since I read Greg McKeown’s Essentialism last year (seriously, this book will change your life) I’m much more comfortable saying “no, thank you” when I just don’t feel like accepting an invitation or opportunity will make me happy. For example, this week I was invited to a midday party that would have thrown a serious wrench in my work and sleep schedule, so I said “no”. Previously I would have felt horribly guilty for turning down a friend’s invitation, but these days I realize that if something will sap my energy or just isn’t something I really want to do, then I need to say “no” and focus my resources on the things that really interest me. (And yes–some days those things will include tea, reading and naps, in exactly that order.)

Quote: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”  — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Thought Questions, #225-231

Bridge at dusk

(photo by Ryan Lum via Unsplash)

#225: What’s the best decision you’ve ever made? Adopting my cats, even though it was a lot of work at the time and has been a lot of work on occasion since then.

#226: What’s your favorite true story that you enjoy sharing with others? Maybe the stories of how I caught the cats? I mean, pets are like family members, so it’s like telling everyone about the moment you met your BFF for the first time. It never gets old to you, and you want everyone else to know how happy it made you!

#227: Right now, at this moment, what do you want most? Uninterrupted sleep. Not happening, since I agreed to work an extra shift tonight.

#228: What are you waiting for?  How are you writing your life’s story? I guess I’ve spent a lot of time waiting for “the right moment”, but I’ve realized that if I wait for it it’ll never come. I have to make it happen. So now I’m cutting out the fluff and recommitting myself to writing!

#229: What makes love last? I think that you have to be good friends first, because then you have a real relationship on which to found your romance. Insta-love doesn’t cut it, because you haven’t had time to build honesty, selflessness, and all of the other attributes of a solid friendship. Remember, romance flickers from day to day, but a real friend will always have your back even when times get tough! An insta-romance is too shaky to withstand the ups and downs of life.

#230: What good comes from suffering? I think you learn patience, and also the value of being grateful for the little things.

#231: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the last year? To say “no” to things I’m not passionate about. Things being worthwhile causes or potential paydays or great fun just isn’t enough if I’m not truly eager to do them. This has also greatly helped with my over-scheduling problem.


21-day Kindness Challenge, day sixteen: embrace “singletasking”

21-day kindness challenge

I have to confess, I’m terrible at “single-tasking”. I get distracted too easily, plus I feel like doing one thing at a time leaves a lot of wasted time in my day. I’m getting better at single-tasking things like mealtimes, but I admit that it’s almost impossible to give up multi-tasking in my day to day life–watching TV while riding the stationary bike, checking email on my phone while eating breakfast, that sort of thing. I just need to have my mind occupied so if I’m doing something mundane, you can be sure I’ll find a way to combine it with another task!

Quote for the day: “If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.”  — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

21-day Kindness Challenge: days 13-15

21-day kindness challenge

Whew! I fell a little behind on posting this week. Let’s recap the past few days:

Day thirteen: “Be a more conscious consumer”–I try to buy my books used from the library or the thrift store instead of shopping new, and we shop locally whenever we can. My local natural foods store just celebrated their fifteen-year anniversary, so I headed down there for groceries and to say hi to the friendly staff.

Quote: “Buy less. Choose well.”  — Vivienne Westwood

Day fourteen: “Practice deep listening”–my husband and I try to sit and talk about our day each morning or evening when we see each other. It’s a relief for the person talking to get their day off their chest, but that requires the other person to truly listen instead of tuning out and nodding through the conversation.

Quote: “When we listen to people, our language softens. Listening may be the cardinal act of giving… I think it is the source of peace.”  — Paul Hawken

Day fifteen: “Share a homemade meal with someone”–I’m making burritos to share with a coworker!

Quote: “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”  — Jane Howard