Saturday, January 30, 2016

How I Created My Personal Growth Curriculum for 2016

Hey Friends--

Recently I posted the list of books that I actually read in 2015, and I told you that I'd let you know what I'd be reading in 2016.  Well, here it is.  I keep a list in the back of my planner so that when anyone tells me about a good book, I add it to the books I think I might like and are therefore worth at least reading the first 10 pages.

The first 10 pages (really the first 2) are key to me.  If I'm not into it by then, I'm out.  Dude.  I've got 3 kids and 3 jobs.  I did my required reading in high school and college (okay, so I read parts of them and BS'd my way through most of it) so I'm over the whole reading it the whole way through even if it's not for me business.

Here's the thing, I won't get to all of these.  I'll pick up some of them, and they won't reach me in the first 10 pages, so I'll put them down.

I'll read books that aren't yet on this list.

But I put this list here in case you want to join me and talk books with me sometime.

1.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
2.  A Million Little Ways
3.  Interrupted
4. Out of Sorts
5.  Something by Jennie Allen
6.  Wired to Create
7.  Big Magic
8.  Prayer by Timothy Keller
9.  Switch On Your Brain
10.  A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller (I think it's time for a re-read)
11.  Yes Please by Amy Poehler
12.  Boundaries
13.  Bandersnatch
14.  Runaway Stories by Alice Munro
15.  On Writing by Stephen King (Another Re-read)
16.  In Defense of Food
17.  Omnivore's Dilemma
18. Writing Down the Bones
19.  Dear Sugar
20.  Grace for the Good Girl
21.  Primates of Park Avenue
22.  A Piece of Cake
23.  Let's All Be Brave
24.  You're Made for a God-Sized Dream
25.  Scribbling in the Sand
26.  The Circle Maker
27.  Whole Brain Child
28. 40 Days of Decrease
29.  Anything by Seth Godin
30.  Out of the Spin Cycle by JHat

So, I've already read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which happens to be a little weird, but also seems to be working in my house.  The first part of the book asked me to decide what kind of lifestyle I'd like to lead.  So I scribbled down the words:

Peaceful and Calm

And then I realized, I had essentially created a curriculum of sorts for the type of lifestyle I want.

I know it's totally a horrible picture, but basically, I can link most books with the lifestyle idea that I am hoping for! I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Do it.

You guys.

Something I just read got to me today for some reason, and I have to tell you about it too.

I'm reading Emily P. Freeman's book, A Million Little Ways.  Today, I read this part about a band that was asked about the secret to their success, and the secret was that they "keep chasing their craziest ideas."

For the past few years, I've had these crazy ideas that my body, my soul, my everything has me scared and paralyzed and has been telling me I can't, but for some reason, tonight, after reading these words, tonight... My body, my soul, my everything is screaming, "Why the hell not?!"

It is time, crazy idea.  It is time.

It is time for me, and it is time for you... maybe.  Maybe you've got a lot of fear to deal with yet, but dealing with the fear is a step in the direction of your crazy dreams.

Get out of your own way.  Look your fear in the face, say, "I'm afraid of failing, falling, making a fool of myself, not finishing again, being laughed at, winding up broke, friendless, hopeless, helpless, alone...but I'm doing this crazy shit anyway."

Because, seriously, this is what I'm saying tonight to my fear.  "Hey fear, I'm afraid of failing.  I'm afraid of making an ass of myself.  I'm afraid of shaming my family, being laughed at, not finishing again, being told I'm not good enough... but I'm doing this crazy shit anyway.  Because, guess what.  I've failed.  I've made an ass of myself.  I've shamed my family.  I've been laughed at.  I've not finished a million things.  I've been told I'm not good enough... And I survived... but I quit.  I've never not quit.  So here's the deal, fear, I see you.  I feel you.  But you no longer own me.  You no longer get to control me.  I see how you think you're trying to protect me, but I get the final say here, and I say the crazy dream lives."

So, my crazy dream and I are sitting down together tonight and figuring out what it's going to take to become a reality, because every person I've seen have their crazy ideas become reality have done the same thing... they take a bunch of small steps towards that dream until they are holding it in their hands, thanking God for making it happen.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Goals Shmoals

So, last year around this time, I read a blog post from someone saying something like, "Set goals!  Reach them!  Succeed!"

Okay, maybe it was something infinitely more helpful than that, but regardless, I went through the process.  I set some SMART goals for the year.  I went through the following 7 categories (I think it's the Wheel of Life from Zig Ziglar or something like that).

Romantic Goals
Career Goals
Relationship Goals
Recreation/Play Goals
Health Goals
Home Goals
Financial Goals
Personal Growth Goals

The article I read said to pick 3 areas of the Wheel that I am unsatisfied with and set 3 goals for the year.

Well, of course, I set 3 goals for each category because every area of life can always be improved!  And looking back, I can't decide whether it was a good idea because at least I achieved some of them from most categories, or if it was a not-so-good thing because, like the rest of my life, my thoughts, goals, intentions are so wide-spread that I cannot truly focus on any of them, and cannot, therefore succeed...

Which brings me to the thought of success.  What did I really expect when I was setting these goals?  Did I really expect myself to write a brilliant blog each week, a funny but thoughtful tweet a day, stay within a modest budget, intentionally spend quality time with my kids, exercise 5 days a week, go on 50+ hikes, go on a monthly date, finish writing and get my first book, make enough money to pay for Christmas, a basement remodel, a bathroom remodel, two bedroom remodels, and season passes for skiing for a family of 5?  I have never in my life stuck to a schedule of any kind, what made me think I would now?

Here's what's different about last year, though.  The rest of my life, I would've looked at this list of goals and saw how many of them I didn't accomplish perfectly.  I would've been disappointed, angry with myself, defeated. I would've sworn off of goal-setting, reflecting, etc. until I read another book that told me how great of an idea it is to set goals...

But this is the way I am able to look at these goals now:  I made progress in the past year.  It took me 12 years, but I beat Lyme Disease.  I didn't go on 50 hikes, but I went on some, and I went on those hikes with my children while doing my very best to enjoy my kids and the outdoors and beautiful scenery.  (Yes, they whined and were annoying, but we went.  We made progress towards being a family who enjoys nature.)  I didn't write 52 blogs, but I wrote 23.  I wrote.  No, I didn't finish my book, but I made progress.  I didn't read 24 books, but I read 14.  I am 14 books smarter than I was last year.

And I am nicer to myself now than I was at this time last year.

I didn't perfectly accomplish each of my 21 goals from last year, but I made real, significant progress on 19 of 21 of them.

And I beat Lyme.  I am nice to myself.  I stayed within our budget.  I created opportunities for income.

My husband has taken to telling our kids, "Progress is better than perfection" when they are learning something new.  It annoys me, but it's true.  It annoys me when I try to tell myself that, but because I'm being nicer to myself now, I have to let myself annoy myself, right?

So, go forth, my friends.  Set your goals.  Work towards your dreams.  Steps in the right direction towards your dreams are exactly that:  Steps in the right direction towards your dreams.  These steps are so much better than standing still, my friends.  Progress is better than perfection.  Some of them will work out.  Some of you will work out.

Regardless, if we don't know where we are going, how in the world will we get there?


Friday, January 1, 2016

Best Books of 2016 According to Me, Based on the Ones I Actually Finished...

In reality, this is just the list of books I read last year.  I picked up/tried to read at least 3 times what is on this list, but if I don't want to devour the book in the first 10 pages, I give it back to the library, don't buy it, put it down...  My time is too precious to stick it out... unless... I hear several times from others that it is a worthwhile read once I get through the first 50 pages.  In that case, I will skip the first 50 pages and go back to read them once I'm into it.

Anyway, we'll start with what I read in the fiction realm:

Sarah Dessen.  I read only quick-reads by Sarah Dessen this year.  When I needed an escape-read that was quick and fun,  I read What Happened to Goodbye?, Along for the Ride, and Lock and Key. I like Sarah Dessen for feel-good reads.  They're cute.  They're fun.  They do the trick.  I will read more of her books for fun feel-good reads in the future.

We all know I'm more of a non-fiction girl, so here's the real list:

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl-- This was probably my least-favorite read of the year, though it was still an incredibly fascinating and wonderful book.  I honestly don't read a full book unless I fall in love.  For reals.  This one was just a challenging (in various ways) read.  Viktor Frankl is an amazing human being.  I still can't get over how much he endured.  For the 1% of you who have never heard of this book, it is the story of a Jewish psychologist who survived Auschwitz and other concentration camps in Nazi Germany during WWII.  My take away: We are capable of so much more than we believe possible.  We can endure more than we think we can, and having a creative, unique purpose in life is essential to happiness, persistence, and survival.

Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren-- I don't remember whether it was my Aunt Kimmy  or Aunt Phyllis who always said, "There are a whole lotta ways to live a life."  And this is kind of what this book was for me.  Jillian Lauren's life is fascinating, different, unique... Her life is so opposite of mine, yet exactly the same.  Basically, she had dreams.  They came true, and they are more beautiful, difficult, challenging, and painful than she ever imagined.  I LOVE the way she tells her story, and I love the patience she learns to have with herself.

No More Dragons  by Jim Burgen-- This was written by my pastor.  He's great.  He's got his issues.  (Don't we all?)  But he is funny, on-point, and addresses the real stuff head-on.  I love the way that he tells is story authentically including his exploration of drugs, his family's struggle with bi-polar depression, and bad religion.

Quitter by Jon Acuff-- I wish I remembered more about this book, but I got it from the library, and now I don't remember much about it except that I liked it, and it was helpful.  (How's that for a book review?)

Peanut Butter and Naan by Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson-- I LOVED this book.  It was funny and interesting, and it took me on a journey to India that I most likely won't take in person.  Again, "There are a whole lotta ways to live a life," and this reminded me that we don't have to live in a safe little community with our 3 kids in Colorado to have a good life.  We could go live anywhere, and our kids would adjust... and so would we.

7 by Jen Hatmaker-- This is definitely a Rethink-the-way-you-do-life-book.  JHat and her husband eat just 7 foods for one month, wear just 7 articles of clothing the next... They remove 7 areas of excess from their lives in an experiment and learn important things.  My takeaway: We have too much crap.  We can live more beautifully and simply if we are intentional.

Ketchup is a Vegetable (and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves)by Robin O'Bryant-- This one is super funny and so true to my life.  This book came in the mail for me randomly from a favorite cousin-in-law, and I just adore her for introducing me to Robin O'Bryant.  If you're a mom, read this one!

Rising Strong by Brene Brown-- Brene Brown is the bomb diggity.  Everyone needs to read Daring Greatly and Rising Strong.  This woman knows her stuff, plus she's funny and a great storyteller.  My favorite takeaway is using the phrase, "The story I'm making up in my head is____" when in an argument or emotionally-charged situation can completely diffuse the situation and create proper communication.

Start by Jon Acuff-- This is my favorite Jon Acuff book.  I read this in the very first part of 2015, and it started my year off with a lesson in overcoming fear.  I didn't realize how much fear I had in my life, but this book helped me realize how to overcome it.  I am the if-I-can't-do-it-perfectly-the-first-time-I-won't-even-try type of person, and this book gave me a nudge towards becoming a I'll-screw-it-up-but-I'm-going-to-try-anyway person.  This is a great book for creatives, and those who are "stuck."

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker-- This is my favorite book of the year.  I'll just quote myself since I got to write a review that went into the first few pages of her book... squeee!!!
"Read this book, but not in public... unless you are okay with being the only one laughing out loud in a silent room or ugly crying at chapter 11 while other people pretend not to stare.  If you are okay with those things, then you should totally read this book in public.  Otherwise, I recommend good coffee, comfy jammies, and a locked door."

Scary Close by Donald Miller-- This is my other favorite book of the year.  Donald Miller has graciously invited us to come along on his spiritual journey for the last 15 years or so.  I have read all of the books he invited me into, and it has been such a fun ride.  I feel like this was an arrival of sorts for Don.  He grew up.  He got married.  He realized so many things about himself.  He helped me figure out why things are so hard and amazing at the same time.  He made me more brave.  He helped me be a better storyteller.  He's my favorite.  And this might be my favorite of my favorites of his.

And there you have it.   Those are the books I read in 2015.  I'll give you a rundown of what I think I'll be reading in 2016 soon!