Inspiration: January 10

Every week on Friday, I share a list of the most interesting and inspiring content I’ve read lately here on my blog. You can expect thoughts on productivity, happiness, balance, spirituality, politics, and more. Subscribe here to get updates. See archives here.

Inspiration: January 10 >> Life In Limbo

I loved this list of ways to help the people and land of Australia as they fight these catastrophic wildfires.

A great podcast episode (from my business coaches!) about the decisions that helped grow their business last year.

If by some miracle you missed Google’s Year in Search for 2019, you can watch it here. I look forward to these every year. Every year I sob uncontrollably and watch it three times in a row. (I just watched it again linking to this and cried again. I don’t know how they do it.)

Reminder to myself & you: the muse whispers in quiet moments. We have to make space for the magic!

Super interesting TED talk asking the question: how much does it cost you to work at that full-time job? How much of your weekly paycheque is spent paying for things you need in order to earn that paycheque? Fascinating.

A great Twitter thread about people’s biggest insights or lessons from therapy.

Cooking is not just cooking! Loved this piece on the emotional labour of preparing food.

THIS. Not every second of our lives needs to be scheduled. We don’t need plans in order to have an excuse not to make plans. We can just…not make plans.

Newly obsessed with the Tiny Spells daily self-care newsletter! Such great, simple tips and it never leaves me feeling overwhelmed or guilty about all the things I’m not doing.

Pre-written canned emails for a variety of situations! Sometimes the hardest part of writing a tricky email is knowing how to start. These might give you an easy starting place!

Some truly great, thoughtful advice for building an audience of true fans.

From me: my word for 2020, 2019 in Review, 2019 in Reading, and my 2019 1SE video.


Hello hello! I’m back to weekly Inspiration, mostly because my Inspiration Google Doc was getting way too full! It needed an outlet. I hope the beginning of 2020 is treating you well. I am happy to be back to work and am enjoying being back in my daily routine. But I tell ya, taking 2 weeks off was WONDERFUL for my mental health. I had the capacity to read more challenging books! I felt like I could handle meal prep! Sure signs I’ve been too stressed lately. Excited to try to hold onto this relaxed feeling as we move through 2020. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! xo.

2020: Devoted

2020: Devoted >> Life In Limbo

This will be my eighth (!) year choosing a word to keep in mind as I move through the months ahead. I love choosing a word for the year, because even if I completely forget about it, it still adds some whimsy and an extra dimension to the year. It guides my thinking, nudges me to make more aligned decisions, and helps me interpret things that happen to me through a new lens.

This year, my word feels just a teensy little bit confronting. Devoted. DEVOTED. That feels serious! It feels important. It feels real.

As we approached the end of 2019, I was feeling like I needed to have my own back more. I was tired of being tired all the time. I wanted to be able to set firmer boundaries and have confidence in myself and advocate for myself when needed. At Nurture, I wrote a poem with a line that says “You have your own gravity,” which I absolutely love. I initially thought that my word might be Gravity.

Then I realized that the bigger feeling I wanted to cultivate was a sense of commitment: to myself, to my life, to my relationships, to my integrity, to my clients. I wanted more of my own gravity as a way to stay anchored, grounded, firmly rooted in what I want more of, without distraction. So then I thought maybe Commit might be a better word.

Finally, after clicking around through a bunch of synonym pages for Gravity and Commit, I saw the word Devotion and my ears perked up. Devotion. Devoted. Devote.

2020: Devoted >> Life In Limbo

There is such a quiet beauty to this word, a humility, a steadfastness. It implies being unshakeable. It evokes romance and love. There is a fierceness to it that I am craving for myself. When I compare “self-care” to “being devoted to myself”, the difference rings like a bell in my head.

So my word is Devoted. I am devoted. I am devoted to myself and maintaining my boundaries. I am devoted to my health, wellness and wellbeing. I am devoted to making sure I give myself what I need. I am devoted to my family and my friends. I am devoted to my future romantic relationship. I am devoted to my rest, my downtime, my relaxation. I am devoted to creating more richness in my life, more whimsy, more playfulness, more delight. I am devoted to my home, my community, my neighbourhood. I am devoted to my life.

Devoted

  • the fact or state of being ardently dedicated, loving and loyal
  • loyalty and love or care for someone or something
  • to give all or a large part of one’s time or resources to (a person, activity, or cause)
  • an act of prayer or private worship

Synonyms: adoring, affectionate, fond, loving, tender, tenderhearted, dedicated, committed

 

Goals & Intentions

I went in a bit of a different direction this year with my goals. I thought about what feelings I’d like to cultivate, then set goals & intentions to help me get closer to those feelings. My hope is that my word keeps me devoted to these goals!

In 2020, I will be devoted to:

Wellness

  • Don’t drink alone
  • Walk for 20 for 2020 outside
  • Set up my Alexa morning & evening routines

Home & Community

  • Explore one new star per week
  • Do an Energy Exchange at Yoga Village
  • Capture 1SE

Rest & Relaxation

  • Read 111 books this year
  • Create a shut-down ritual for work
  • Take a vacation

Self-Care

  • Try acupuncture
  • Get quarterly massages
  • Find a great therapist

Whimsy

  • Celebrate minor holidays
  • Do monthly surprise dates
  • Buy something that sparks joy each month

I have a good feeling about 2020! It feels like I have some momentum behind me as I move into it in a way I haven’t before. I’m so proud of what I accomplished in 2019 and I can’t wait to put down more roots & deepen my relationships in 2020.

If you choose a word for the year, I would love to hear about it! And if you see any resources, books or posts about the idea of devotion, send them my way. Happy 2020, everyone!

You can read more about my words from the last few years below:

2013: Reach | 2014: Abundance | 2015: Grace | 2016: Light | 2017: Embrace | 2018: Flow | 2019: Energy

One Second Everyday: 2019

I’m so excited to share another year of one second everyday! This is such a fun practice that I’ve done twice before, in 2016 & 2017.

I am always so grateful to have these little home videos of what my everyday life was like during a given time. I always think the chapters of my life are going to last forever but (of course) they never do. It’s fun to see what things change and what things stay exactly the same as I move through my life. I’m so thrilled to have this record of what 2019 was like for me!

If you’re interested, this is the app I use to create these videos.

2019 In Reading

2019 In Reading >> Life In Limbo

2019 was my best-ever year of reading, and also the one that felt the most effortless. I read more books than I ever have before, but it also felt super easy and fun. Yes, really! Reading is my favourite hobby and has enriched my life more than I could ever say, so I feel so happy that I made it (even) more of a priority this year. The books I read this year gave me so much in return.

So today I start a new annual tradition: the Year in Reading! Yes, this is #Extra. No, I don’t care. Reading is an important part of my life, and I want to take some time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what I might want to do differently in 2020.

My Goal

Every year I set a reading goal, which I’ve upped incrementally over the years. My first year it was 52 books, and then it was 75 for several years. This year I decided to push myself a bit! My 2019 goal was to read 100 books, and I’ve currently (as of December 30th as I write this!) read 112, with two more on the go. This is amazing, because I’ve never surpassed my yearly goal by so many books, even when I was challenging myself to read fewer books! (You can see all my reading challenges here.)

The point of a reading challenge (for me) is to stretch myself just a touch beyond what I would probably read anyways. I spend wayyy too much time on screens every day for work & play, and I really do need the reminder to unplug and prioritize different kinds of activities. Reading is like a form of meditation for me – it helps me shut my brain off and feels like a vacation from my worries. Making reading a goal reminds me to prioritize it and make space for it in my regular daily grind.

What I Learned

1. Read WHATEVER you want

I FIRMLY believe that if you don’t like reading, you’re probably not reading what you actually like to read. I’ve known this to be true for years, and yet this was the first year I really, fully embraced it for myself. My list this year is a wacky blend of romance, pop psychology, fiction, essays, young adult, sci-fi, re-reads and beyond…and I loved almost all of it. At the beginning of 2019 I’d decided that with such a high goal, I was going to worry nary a bit about what I was reading, and it has served me so well. I highly encourage you to read whatever strikes your fancy and have zero qualms about it.

2. Better goal, better results

As I mentioned, this year I read the most books ever, and I also surpassed my reading goal by the most books ever. Can you believe?! I think the key was upping my baseline. As with everything in life, it’s all relative. When my goal was 75, that was what I was working towards and tracking towards all year. As a result, reading 77 felt like a big triumph! But this year I raised the bar. When my goal became 100, suddenly 75 was a milestone, not an end point. It’s a good lesson to bring with me into the rest of my life: if I aim low, I’ll get lower results. If I aim high, I’ll get higher results, even if I don’t quite meet my goal.

3. Embrace mental comfort food

This year was pretty stressful, taxing, and overwhelming at times. Looking back, I can see that fact reflected in my reading life as I gravitated towards less challenging books that brought me comfort & joy. It’s no surprise that this was The Year of Romance Novels, because they are uplifting and fun and guaranteed to have a happy ending. And it’s also no surprise that as soon as I got onto Christmas vacation, suddenly I felt equipped to dive into tougher reads like Gladwell’s latest and a beautiful collection of essays by Heather Havrilesky. It’s good to remember, both to use as a barometer for my stress level (what am I gravitating towards and what can that tell me about how I’m feeling or what I might need?) and for self-compassion (ie. not beating myself up for reading ‘fluffier’ books when I need to).

My Favourites

Best Books of 2019 >> Life In Limbo

1. Circe by Madeline Miller: Without a doubt my favourite novel of 2019. This is a feminist retelling of the Greek myth of the witch Circe (the one who turns Odysseus’s men into pigs!) and it is beautiful and epic. The author is a historical scholar and it shows in all the gorgeous details in her novels. I cannot wait for her next one!

2. Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee: This book changed the way I see the world! It’s a smart, fascinating exploration of what brings humans joy from a biological, evolutionary perspective, as well as a guide to bringing more joy, play, fun and delight into your life every day. I loved it so much and will definitely be re-reading.

3. Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty: I really enjoyed this quiet, charming novel set in Australia. I don’t think I’ve read much Australian fiction before and I really enjoyed the tone, the phrases and the overall mood of this one. It was so uplifting and light while still playing with darker themes and managing to be incredibly poignant at times.

4. Amateur by Thomas Page McBee: Ever since hearing Thomas Page McBee on an episode of Hurry Slowly, I’ve been a big fan of his work. This book is his memoir of training to be the first transgender man to fight at Madison Square Garden, as well as a thoughtful meditation on modern masculinity. It was utterly fascinating.

5. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: The rumours are true, there’s a reason this book is on everyone’s lists! It took me forever to buy into the hype (I like to give hype some time to die down because not all hyped books stand the test of time, amen) but when I finally did, I was not disappointed. I read this book in one shot, standing waist-deep in sunny lake water at a friend’s cottage, aka my happy place. It was fun and surprising and cinematic and wonderful.

6. Normal People by Sally Rooney: I got into this one reluctantly, after seriously disliking Conversations with Friends. But I was instantly swept up in this love story about two star-crossed lovers. It was romantic and weird and interesting and heart-wrenching at times. I love love, and I love reading about different kinds of love. I wouldn’t want to be in their relationship, but I loved reading about it nonetheless.

7. Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey: As mentioned, I read a lot of romance novels this year. I was new to the genre, so it’s been a process of immersion trying to figure out what I like and don’t like…and this book is a prime example of what I like. This one is fun, breezy, steamy, and modern and really set off my obsession with romance for once and for all. People who don’t like the genre: don’t read this. If you’re curious about romance: start here.

8. Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin: I read quite a few financial books this year but I particularly enjoyed this one. The idea is to figure out how much money you actually need to be happy and how to spend more wisely in alignment with that. She was also one of the first people to talk about financial independence (aka retiring early) which is a super inspiring concept. Highly recommended if you’re looking to invest more (pun intended!) in your financial life this year.

9. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell: One of my final books of the year and yet one of my faves. I love everything Malcolm Gladwell does (including his excellent podcast) because the way his mind works is fascinating to me. This book should be required reading for all of us (especially police officers). I learned so much about the mistakes and fallacies we make when interacting with people we don’t know. Also, they made an insanely detailed audiobook that includes all kinds of source material, interviews & re-enactments, which I’m excited to listen to as well.


And there you have it, my 2019 in reading! It’s been a good one. I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for me, book-wise. So grateful to have the library at my doorstep and ebooks galore on Libby. Aren’t books just the best?!

You can see everything I read this year right here, and as always you can follow along with what I’m reading over on Goodreads here! Happy reading, everyone.