Posted in Books, Home & Heart

July Reads: Happy At Home

July found myself wanting to get back to reading again, a favorite hobby which I sorta left by the wayside when I experienced a preference for more active hobbies – exercising, knitting, crocheting, blogging, trying out new recipes when lightning struck (ha!).

After sorting out how I wanted to balance my preference for physical books with the convenience of downloading on my Kindle, I started my bookish adventures with the following:

Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin (non-fiction)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI truly enjoyed Gretchen’s Happiness Project when I read it several years ago and, since this time around I’m a SAHM on a mission to create a happy home, Happier At Home was an easy pick.  I enjoy Gretchen’s writing style, and the fact that the act of pursuing happiness is approached as a personal experiment. Therefore, not everything will stick, and just because it makes somebody else happy doesn’t mean it will do the same for you. But you do get to learn about yourself & what works along the way.

The book is chock-full of practical lessons a few of which that I could apply immediately are:

“When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy”.

Respond to the spirit of the gift. How wise this is! How many times have I responded to the gift instead of the spirit of the gift, and been a scrooge for it. For example, if my daughter makes up the bed but doesn’t fold the blanket just perfectly so, I should not respond with criticism or re-do the whole thing the way I want it.  I should be happy about the fact that my daughter wanted to help, that’s the real gift.  Ditto for when my husband tries to cook and leaves the kitchen an amazing mess 🙃

Everything looks better arranged on a tray. Just try this one out, it’s true! 😁

Celebrate holiday breakfasts. This one made me think about how my family usually does not plan for special occasions but sorta just wings it. I decided that henceforth and at the very least, celebratory cakes will be available for enjoyment on-date, ordered beforehand, and not just some random, yummy-enough sounding cake that we buy whereabouts dinnertime on the date itself. (We can do better!🙄)

Embrace good smells. This motivated me to enroll in an online aromatherapy course.  My husband and I are absolute suckers for nice smells. We are never without perfume, room-specific fresheners and deodorants of all types.  I make doing laundry enjoyable by finding the freshest, cleanest, loveliest smelling detergents and fabric softeners I can get my hands on.  An aromatherapy course would promote going natural on some of these fumes for better health without compromising on the happiness factor 😁😁

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (fiction)

An absolute page turner, I read it in 1 day, it was just difficult to put down.  The topic of teen suicide made me think back to my own teenage years and made me appreciate growing up under strong Catholic influence.  “There IS a God watching over all of us and He strongly disapproves of suicide”.  Bless those austere rosary-bead stringing nuns and stern, disapproving priests we used to secretly poke fun of, they at the very least instilled in us the habit of praying for even our most worrisome problems that were too embarrassing for human ears.  In my darkest moments I never felt alone.

 

My So-Called Life As A Proverbs 31 Wife by Sara Horn (non-fiction)

This book popped up as one of the suggested reads on my Kindle and is about a woman’s experiment in trying to be like the biblical Proverbs 31 wife. I thought it would just be a book with suggestions and funny anecdotes, but mid-way through it I slowly started to realize that being a SAHM is not about ME. This stay in Indonesia (which I still struggle with) is about my family being together, being a wife to my husband, a mother to my daughter and being the “thermostat of the home” as Sara puts it.

Where Happier At Home starts from a self-centered place of what makes ME happy that will also make my husband and daughter happy,  My So-Called Life focuses on the important role of a wife, mother and homemaker and the huge impact that has on the family.  Think of it as being on a team, and you’re the specialist at something and without you contributing your uniqueness to the team (the family unit), it just won’t work.

And it is not about sacrificing either, it is about giving from a place of empowerment.  In thinking of myself as a valuable, uniquely contributing team-member, I let go of the selfish & ultimately unsatisfying pursuit of chasing happiness for personal consumption

Hmmmm … definitely a profound lesson for me to learn 🤔

~~ oOo ~~

So those are the books I read in July.  Hopefully I can come back next month at about the same time with more interesting titles & lessons 😊

Oh and … have you come across a delicious read recently that you might want to recommend? Do tell! 😍

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Posted in Books, Home & Heart

Honoring What I Love [With An Adjustment]

sunday slow down 2 I have a Kindle fire tablet that I’ve had since early 2012.  There are already a gazillion books on there but, honestly, I use it for games 80% of the time 😏

Recently when I asked my daughter whether she wanted ebook versions of the series she’s reading now she immediately responded with “No, I want to be able to smell them” 😄

The succinctness of her response made me take an honest look at what I have been denying myself ever since I came to Batam- the pleasure of my 1st love: real, physical books ❤️ It might seem silly but the feel of a real book in my hands just adds another level of pleasure to the reading experience.  I also do like burying my nose between the pages for a good whiff! 😘

But getting my hands on English books is costly as I’ll have to purchase them overseas. The bookstores in Batam only sell books/magazines in Indonesian.

A Concession

I examined my reading habits further and found out that I like to high-light when reading non-fiction.  And that it not only takes me longer to finish non-fiction because I take pauses to reflect on new ideas, but that I also enjoy re-reading them. Different ideas might find relevance at different times in my life.

Fiction on the other hand, is temporary entertainment, similar to movies.  I don’t underline passages in them, nor do I re-read them.

The path forward [to happiness] thus became clear to me: physical books for non-fiction, ebook versions for fiction 😁😁😁

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Bonus

The bonus to this is that now I can share/discuss with you what I learned from my non-fic reads 🙃 I’m always on the lookout for practical ideas and now I get to blog about them too!

Methinks it’s gonna be fun 🤸‍🤸‍

Posted in Books, Health & Beauty

Exercising Differently As A Pathway to Happiness

 

plank-1327256_960_720We all know by now that exercising boosts the happy chemical endorphin. But because our brain quickly adapts to routine, doing the same thing over and over can lead to exercise boredom.

The solution is simple and fun: exercise differently for the next 45 days 😀

I am currently reading Habits of A Happy Brain by Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning, and in it Dr. Breuning says that we can end up overdoing a happy habit to the point of unhappiness. Varying our exercise routine is a good way to trigger endorphin.

To quote the book: “It takes strain to trigger endorphin, and if you keep straining the same place, you risk injury.  If you work new places with new exercise, moderate exertion can stimulate endorphin.”

When I read this I immediately thought to replace my usual HIIT/strength combo exercises with early morning jogs followed by Pilates.  I exercise indoors so early morning jogs would take me out of the house and – is there really anything more uplifting than to be under a wide open sky at the start of one’s day? 💖 💖

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However, I will have to do this new exercise consistently for 45 days.  I can’t see myself jogging on a rainy day.  And since I can only jog in the mornings, this new exercise would prove quite tricky to navigate once my daughter goes back to school again and mornings become busy 😨 😥

As for Pilates, this was an easy choice since I’ve always enjoyed working on my flexibility and balance. In addition, who doesn’t want a tight core and butt? 💖 💖 XD

But going back to what Dr. Breuning further says on the topic: “Your body has three layers of muscles. When you vary your exercise, you give the neglected, constricted layers more attention.  Since they’re weak, they have to work harder, so you stimulate development where it’s needed instead of going overboard on the parts you overuse.  Chasing an endorphin high is not worth the risk of wearing out a part and needing a parts replacement. Variety is a great alternative.”

I didn’t need any more convincing after reading that! 😀 👏

So the next 6 weeks are going to be dedicated to Pilates and some type of cardio that’s different from what I normally do.  I’ll be putting my free weights on standby for now 😭 😭  😭 and hopefully my appetite won’t be as high as when I do HIITs to compensate for the decrease in intensity.

 

How about you? When was the last time you varied your exercise routine? Any fun cardio suggestions? 😀

Posted in Books

March Reads

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Hello there beautiful people! 😀

Belated Happy Easter! I hope you had a meaningful observation of the holiday.

Here in Indonesia I didn’t notice Easter that much (were it not for a message from a friend) and it’s a first for me. Muslim and Christian holidays sorta just follow one after the other here and since Christians/Catholics are the minority, Christian holidays seem to  become more ordinary than festive. I don’t celebrate every holiday but it does seem a bit weird that the world around you is almost oblivious to it. I’ve become so used to having neighbors celebrate on behalf of an entire block where I came from and I sorta miss them!

Oh well, let’s talk books now, shall we? 🙂

So last week I decided to reignite my love for reading because ever since I stopped working the 9 to 5, my voraciousness for books has nosedived. My Kindle has become more of a gaming tool than anything else 🙄 I was therefore quite pleased that last week I really felt like reading. And so I did! I finished not one, but 2 splendid li’l books:

Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by blogger turned writer Glennon Doyle Melton.

From Amazon.com:

Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award

The inspiring and hilarious instant New York Times bestseller from the beloved writer, speaker, activist, and founder of Momastery.com whose writing is “like a warm embrace” (FamilyCircle.com).

 Glennon Doyle Melton’s hilarious and poignant reflections on our universal (yet often secret) experiences have inspired a social movement by reminding women that they’re not alone. In Carry On, Warrior, she shares her personal story in moving, refreshing, and laugh-out-loud-funny new essays and some of the best-loved material from Momastery.com. 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. In this one woman’s trying to love herself and others, readers will find a wise and witty friend who shows that we can build better lives in our hearts, homes, and communities.

What can I say? I really, really like this book 🙂 It’s so down to earth and hilariously so that I felt as though Glennon was a personal friend who’s got this crazy-silly side that speaks so much to me XD It’s definitely a feel-good book that I can see myself reviewing every now and then to remind me that life is “brutiful” – brutal and beautiful.

 “The Rules of Life: A Personal Code for Living a Better, Happier, More Successful Life”by Richard Templar

This is a motivational book of 105 bite-sized ‘rules’ that are practical and simple.  I really also enjoy books like these where a chapter is but two pages long and the take-away is immediately applicable. It’s not very deep or profound, which I like because I wasn’t in the mood for anything serious and analytical. It’s a book you can keep on your nightstand and open randomly to any ‘rule’ and then make that your intention for the day.

The book is divided into 4 sections – there are the rules for you, partnership rules, family and friends rules and social rules. I read everything in one go but I think it’s also a good idea to focus on one section (one area) of life per week and finish the book in 4 weeks (a month). Come to think of it,  I’ll definitely do it this way the next time around as the book’s definitely worth reading again and again just for  some quick reminders or to give yourself a mood boost 🙂

So that was me last week, lost in the pages of these 2 books. My rediscovered yen for reading seems not to be slowing down yet so I have already downloaded several other book samples to my Kindle.  Oh dear, less time for crocheting I’m afraid XD

And, did you notice that it’s the last week of the month already? Have a strong, positive ending to March,sunbeams! ❤ 🙂

Posted in Books

Would You Allow Yourself to Fall In Love With Someone 19 Years Younger?

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I just finished the hilarious and intriguing book, “Younger” by Pamela Redmond Satran. It’s about a newly divorced 44-y.o. housewife who creates a new life by posing as a younger, twenty-something version of herself.

According to this book, losing weight, wearing tight jeans and getting some highlights is all it takes! Inclusive of token 25 y.o. boyfriend who’s hot like a rockstar and who adores you like a puppy 😀

Read more here.

The main character’s experience of this new ‘younger’ version of herself is both stimulating and eye-opening. Thankfully, she has her bestie Maggie to encourage and help her navigate through it. In the end, everything wraps up neatly like a fairy tale 🙂 Except for the much younger boyfriend, who the author conveniently sends off to Japan, reduced to exchanging romantic emails with the main character.

I really don’t know, 19 years seems like a lot. And while I sense that the book is encouraging the main character to not sacrifice today for what might happen tomorrow, she is wise to wonder.  Isn’t it a sign of maturity  to also  think of consequences and not just YOLO all the way? I don’t think I can play with my heart and peace of mind like that XD Could you and would you?

Favorite lines:

“It was as if I’d dived into an ocean that had looked fun and exciting from the shore, but had found myself getting knocked down by waves that up close proved far too wild for me.  All I could think about was making my way back to the sand.”

“Suppose I came out as fourty-four to the entire world.  Wouldn’t it still make sense for me to try to look as youthful as I possibly could?”

Read if:

You’re a woman – regardless of age – who’s wondering about the trajectory of her life.

Posted in Books

Keep Calm And Ask On: A Book Review

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Hello sexy people! ❤

“The world and everything in it is yours”.

“Thoughts are things, and they have the power to objectify themselves”.

Happy Monday 🙂

This month I took on the goal of reading and reviewing two books.  In this blog post I’m presenting my 1st choice, Michael Samuels’ “Keep Calm And Ask On”.

Now I’m pretty sure we’re all familiar with the Law of Attraction and might have already transcended the literature in the sense that we’re a bit jaded – I know I am sometimes. But I also know that I have received many things in my life by simply asking for them.

The book’s 5 chapters are:

1. There Will Be Wants

In this chapter the author instructs us to work calmly with our subconscious by telling it what we want. We can go as high as we want, as many as we want. But we have to ask calmly, not in a doubtful or complaining manner. We must trust that the Universe will make it happen.

We also have to very clearly define ‘why’ we want that thing, and we cannot ask for something at the expense of someone else’s happiness or safety.

Example:
I want a big house in an exclusive gated community so that my kids can play safely outside – ok.
I want a big house in an exclusive gated community so that my friends will die of jealousy – not ok.

The author encourages us to list down everything we want and to review this list frequently. As well, he recommends having a chat with our subconscious (and yes, we can even name our subconscious!) every evening before drifting off to sleep to review our wants.

This chapter also clarifies the confusion of using “I want” vs. “I am” or “I have” as some LOA books would have us do. On this the author says “You cannot think the words I have or I own and not have or own anything. It makes no sense. And you’re going to confuse the hell out of your subconscious mind”. Ergo, I want is okay for us to use.

“Dream big dreams, acquire good morals, and realize and know that you get what you ask for. Value your wants of what you want to be and cease whining, complaining and groaning about bad luck and good luck. Nourish that ideal of yours and imagine the Universe and its beauty draping over your wants”.

2. The Soundtrack of Your Life

According to the author, our environment and our state corresponds with the music we are listening to.

The author obviously likes music very much and is fond of creating soundtracks for every season – yes, one new soundtrack for every season, year in and year out. I’ve read reviews of this book on Amazon and many reviewers complain that this chapter drags on too much. And it does, but I guess the author is just really enthusiastic about music and wants to stress the point that we can use music to our advantage. For instance, if you want to cheer yourself up, then listen to upbeat music. Take a cue from movie soundtracks, however you want to feel in your life, music can facilitate.

I will not argue with this, although I don’t think I’ll be creating specific soundtracks anytime soon 🙂 But I have gotten back to listening to my favorite radio station from home (online streaming, score!) and am thinking of collecting favorite tunes for quick access, something I’ve never really cared for before.

3. Keep Calm and Ask On

This chapter encourages us to keep calm and ask on despite the presence of negative people.

“Hindrances and frustrating people are aggravating, but they are part of life. The best part about them is that they make you grow. Their negativity actually makes you awaken further. It gives you obstacles to overcome. Annoying people make you think. They make you plot ways to get around obstacles”.

Some people will try to stop you from getting what you want, but actually the only person that can stop you is you. That negative person is just there, just an obstacle to overcome. People cannot stop the Universe’s plan for what’s in store for your life.

4. Law of Laughing

“There is more to life than taking everything so seriously. You create the life you want. But if you’re going to be serious about it, you’ll be headed nowhere fast”.

This chapter encourages us to adapt a cheerful attitude towards life. I know it’s easier said than done, but why indeed should we allow ourselves to be eaten up by worries? Worry never solved anything, as a matter of fact, it robs us of the creativity and resourcefulness needed to lift us out of our funk.

The Universe responds best to positive emotions.

5. Team Universe

“Always speak in terms of advancement. Never allow yourself to feel disappointed. You may expect to have a certain thing at a certain time and not get it at that time; this will feel like a failure to you. But if you hold your trust, you will find that failure is only a stepping-stone to getting what you really want. Keep calm , and if you do not receive that thing, something so much better will fall in your lap that seeming failure was really a success in disguise”.

Our wants will come into our lives when we need them. If we don’t have them right now, then it’s not yet the right moment. We shouldn’t sulk, whine, or in any way be negative while waiting.  The Universe has our back 🙂

~ 0 ~

This was a nice, quick read.  It might not teach us anything new, but it’s straightforward and a quick grab for when we need to be reminded that we have the power to manifest our destinies.

So keep calm, and ask on. We’re on Team Universe 🙂

What was something you asked for and received?

Posted in Books

Book Review Day| Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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I love to tidy and organize! I just cannot focus if my environment is topsy-turvy. I strive for next-to-bare table top surfaces, bare floors and not a single dirty dish in the sink!  But that’s just me 😉

Now meet Marie Kondo, she runs an acclaimed consulting business in Tokyo that helps clients transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration. She’s the author of this marvelous book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing”.

Marie had me at “Your real life begins after putting your house in order” 🙂

I thought all the while that I already had the art of tidying down to a tee, I do watch “Clean House” every chance I get. But this book showed me even more and better tidying success secrets that were real eye-openers. Here are just three solid lessons I learned:

Tidying must start with discarding –

When tidying, Marie recommends putting everything in one place, preferably out on the floor. And then to go through every single item asking yourself if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, away it must go. To support that point, the book teaches us to dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.

Most of us do not discard. We’re sentimental so we just store things to oblivion. Marie says “putting things away only creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved”.

Store your things to make your life shine –

“The secret to maintaining an uncluttered room is to pursue ultimate simplicity in storage so that you can tell at a glance how much you have”.

Have you ever found out after a thorough tidying session that you have more than what you need of a particular object? That happens to me a lot. And that’s because not only do we sometimes keep the same type of item in different parts of the house, we also tend to forget they are there (or how many we already have) when we don’t see them.

Since reading this book, I’ve invested in a few simple plastic containers that allow me to see what’s inside. But aside from that, and as this book will tell you, all you really need are shelves or drawers and some empty shoeboxes.

Your living space affects your body –

“It’s a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially ‘detox’ our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well”.

When we’ve paired down everything in our house to only those that are truly essential and which spark joy in us, what a relaxing haven we create for ourselves and our loved ones. Instead of shelves of ‘invisible’ books gathering dust, each one that passed the ‘joy-test’ is a real keepsake that inspires instead of clutters.

 

I couldn’t sit still as I was reading this book, it was so motivating that I’d sporadically get up in between pages and clean out a closet or room right then and there. I discarded so much in the process, even items I hung on to for sentimental reasons but which really were just sitting there occupying space. And Marie is right, I don’t miss them!

That said, this review really doesn’t give the book enough justice. You just have to read it yourself to appreciate it fully. I guarantee it will leave you with dozens of simple, straightforward, yet brilliant tips on tidying and organizing.

~ O ~

And now for my book related poll:  Which type are you – dog ears or bookmarks? 🙂 And feel free to share your reasons in the comments section!

~ O ~

Book Review Day is a monthly blogging event hosted by the beautiful Nivedita at Weird and Wonderful.

Have you read something amazing this month?  🙂