Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What I've Been Reading Lately

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This book made me feel all the feels.  I wanted to ignore all other responsibilities until I'd finished it. Eleanor is such an endearing, lovable character.  Her story is so difficult to read at times, but also inspiring as she overcomes her upbringing and learns to make friends.  Because we served as a foster family for several years, I have deep issues with the stereotypical abusive foster family situation that is often portrayed in books. This one was a bit better than most, but I still feel that it doesn't accurately represent a most foster families. (Warning: the language is rough at times.)

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

I've been hearing about this book for months and finally picked it up.   I loved the descriptions of the girls, how they saw the world and their interactions as children. I have mixed emotions about it the rest of the book.  I was anxious to discover what happened to each of the characters, but disappointed that they didn't develop into the people I wanted them to be.  I certainly don't need a book to have a happy ending, but I did want more than I got.  I suppose that's also partially due to the fact that this is the first book in a series. I'll probably get more answers as I go along. Has anyone else read more of the series?  

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

Because I am a white mother of a black boy I was hesitant to pick up this book.  I worried it would break my heart.  It turned out to be nothing like I had expected, but I really liked it. James' white mother is his biological mother and her mysterious story is extremely compelling.  Here's what I shared on Instagram: Oh, my heart.♥️ It was not at all what I was expecting, but still so, so good. It's the incredible memoir of the 8th of 12 children in a biracial family. The author's mom was white, and his dad was black in a time when interracial marriages were not only uncommon, but dangerous. Despite her heartbreaking childhood, she goes on to send all 12 of her children to college and most of them earn graduate degrees. This book is about love, tenacity and motherhood, messy families and deep faith. One of my favorites of the year, for sure.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

I loved this book.  Not just because of my Horticulture background, but I'm sure that helps.  But also because it's a meaningful story well told.  It's the story of a difficult childhood, a passionate female scientist, deep life-long friendships and overcoming mental illness.  I don't feel like I can accurately describe this book.  The insights into what it's like to be a research scientists, always worried about grant money and living on nothing was fascinating.   That the author is female in a very predominately male profession adds an extra measure of interest. In addition to all that she has overcome a tremendous amount of heartbreak and difficulty as well. So, so good.

Head to Modern Mrs. Darcy for more quick book reviews.
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Saturday, January 13, 2018

"Currently" Journal Insert

I have always loved spending time writing in my journal. Even as a young girl, I wrote down all the important (and not so important) things that happened to me.  It's cathartic for me to think back through the day, remembering the good along with the bad moments.  It's a great way to settle my brain and process the day before I head to bed. I record what I'm thankful for, funny things the kids said or did, little discouragements and big trials.

Little bits and pieces from my day often make it into my journals: ticket stubs, photos, notes from the kids and Jason, etc.  They tend to make my journals extra chunky and I adore it.  Here's last year's journal next to the new journal I started this year:

One of my favorite things about keeping a journal is looking back through the years to remember what was happening in my life, what stages our kids were in, what we were enjoying at that specific moment in time.

Here's a great little printable to help you record things like that. Record what you're currently watching, reading, loving, dreaming about, listening to, planning, wearing, drinking, craving and making.  It's a little snapshot of your current world.

It comes in a full 8.5x11 page, a half sheet and one sized a little smaller than half a page that fits really well into my moleskin journal. Click DOWNLOAD below to grab your free copy.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Goals 2018

I am not a fan of New Year's Resolutions.  The idea that we can, with one sweep, change our entire lives is ridiculous. But GOALS are different.  I look at goals as a list of projects to accomplish within a certain time period, or bite-sized daily steps to reach a big milestone. Yes, goals are my favorite.  I've been taking some time lately to think about my goals for 2018 in different aspects of my life. 

Read at least 60 books.  60 has been my consistent goal for the past couple of years.  In 2016 I read 84 books and in 2017 I read 72.  While it would be easy for my goal-loving heart to up the ante and try to challenge myself a little more in this area, we are busier than ever before and I am not interested in stressing out about not reaching a goal for books read.  I'll be challenging myself in other areas, so this year I am happily going to keep my goal at 60.

Make Art every day. This marks the fourth year of my practice of making art every single day. I have seen an incredible amount of personal growth in the past 3+ years of this project.  I am developing my style and discovering what I love to create.  While I will continue to make art each day this year, I am going to focus this project a little differently than I have in the past.  I will be working on a series of 100 day projects. Three 100 Day projects during the year, with a few "days off" for vacations, etc. interspersed throughout the year.  By days off, I mean I'll still be making art but it will most likely be in a sketchbook as we travel, rather than adding to the project I'm currently working on.  My first 100 day project of the year is 100 Days of Scripture Prints.  You can follow along with me daily on Instagram to see what I'm painting.

Weekly Dates with Jason. Up until this point in our lives my husband and I haven't felt the need for consistently going OUT on dates.  We'd put the kids to bed and enjoy some time together basically every evening. But as kids have gotten older and more abundant, planning time away has become something we genuinely need and look forward to.  We don't do anything extravagant, by any means.  An occasional movie, but more often than not we want to be able to talk to each other uninterrupted. 

We take turns planning each week, with one week of each month set aside to attend the temple. Last week I had planned to go cross-country skiing, but the snow conditions were awful so I ended up throwing together a quick trip to a crowded little antique store we've driven by multiple times a day for the past 6 years but have never ventured inside.  We wandered, talked and laughed, discovered treasures and left them all there.  We left after an hour without spending any money and felt completely refreshed and ready to love on our kids again. 

Pinners Conference.  Gulp.  This is my big, giant, scary goal for the year.  I am doing my first art/craft fair in November.  It's Pinners Conference (they had 18,000+ guests last year); it's huge and I have no idea what I'm doing.  But I already put my money down for the booth, so I'm going to figure it out as I go.  I'm WAY outside my comfort zone here, but this is something I've wanted to try for many years.  I am both excited and terrified to be taking this step.

Read + Study the Old Testament. It's been many years since I've studied much in the Old Testament.  Probably since high school? I'm looking forward to diving into it this year.  In fact, I've already begun and I'm loving it.  A couple of resources that are helping me gain deeper understanding as I study: Your Study of the Old Testament Made Easier this book is very clear and easily understandable.  I read it right along with my scriptures and make notes in my scriptures as I go along.  The gorgeous Walking With The Women of the Old Testament by my incredible friend Heather makes the stories of the hundreds of women in the Old Testament come alive.

Earn Young Womanhood Medallion with Ellie.  Ellie and I have been working on Personal Progress together and we're planning to finish it it up this year.  We sit down together for an hour or so each Sunday to work on shorter value projects and a plan for making the longer projects happen. I look forward to this time with her and our work on this inspired program.

Long Walks, Audiobooks and Pilates.  One of my very most favorite things in the entire world right now is long early morning walks with an audiobook.  It brightens my entire day.   I've been sneaking out early every morning lately and it's amazing how a daily ritual like that adds so much to my life.  I plan to continue bundling up and braving the cold each morning as well as adding in some Pilates  most days to help ease the lower back pain I've been dealing with lately.

Blog Plans. Here on the blog I plan to continue sharing twice weekly posts: scripture study helps, creative projects, book reviews, journal printables, etc.  Is there anything you'd like me to add to my blog post list?  Anything you'd like to see more of this year?

What are your goals for the new year?
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