Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"Do one thing every day that scares you."- Eleanor Roosevelt

That quote, by Eleanor Roosevelt, inspired the memoir, My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock.  Noelle had just been laid off from her job as an "entertainment blogger", and realized she was needing a lifestyle change.  But she feared change- and so many other things! She then ran across this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt and felt inspired to embark on a yearlong adventure in being courageous.
On her 29th birthday, and for that entire year until she turned 30, she vowed to do one thing each day that scared her.

The author weaved in a lot of fascinating information about Eleanor Roosevelt throughout the book, as well as inspiring quotes from her at the beginning of each chapter. Fortunately, there is a reading list at the back of the book, of recommended books about Eleanor.  I, for one, can't wait to learn more about her after just getting my feet wet with this one.

Beyond all the quotes and stories about Eleanor, Noelle wrote about many of the scary things she did during that year. Some were big time scary, like...
 *shark cage diving
 * attending trapeze school
Others seems on a slightly smaller scale of scary, like:
 *attending a silent retreat
 *calling up old boyfriends and asking what they thought of her
 *shadowing an employee of a funeral home

All of the chapters were pretty interesting and funny, but the ones I liked best were the challenges that weren't on the "death-defying" scale, but instead something just "outside of the box", that helped her learn more about herself.  I loved the chapter about the silent retreat. I SO identified with it.  So many people, like ME, distract themselves from truly being in the moment with things like Instagram and Facebook, and even reading books. Unplugging from all of that and just being silent sounds so hard, and out of the ordinary these days.  Just the thought of trying it myself makes me feel nervous. But it also seems valuable.

There's another chapter when Noelle signs up to compete in a stand up comedy contest. She was so nervous, that she feels ill and considers backing out of it.  But then, she gets up onstage- and she KILLS it!  She said it's just about the happiest she had EVER been! She was proud of herself, and feeling on top of the world, UNTIL the judging results came in. This chapter was a great one about the ridiculous expectations we put on ourselves that can sometimes ruin a great moment.

Sometimes it's hard letting go of a book you really loved reading...
For me, this book was so fun to read.  It was funny, thought provoking, interesting, and I now have a new hero in Eleanor Roosevelt.  I can't wait to read more about her, and I am so glad she inspired this interesting, "year with Eleanor" for Noelle Hancock.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Becoming a Better Writer

I love to write.  Or maybe I should say, I love to look back on what I’ve written after I’ve finished it! 

I can compare it to running… I use to run a lot.  (Now a walk instead, but that’s a different blog topic.) I fought with myself daily, pushing myself out of bed to run before the rest of the day got going. The first mile or so sometimes felt torturous. But then several miles and nearly an hour later, I’d be finished with my run. I always felt great afterwards and never regretted taking the time out of my day to devote to all of those miles.

Writing is similar for me. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and actually write. Getting started is usually the hardest part. But once I get into it, I’m into it.  And after I’ve written something, I love reading back over it, knowing that I created something, and said something, that wasn’t there before.  LOVE that.

But like with running, it’s a battle.  Daily.  But on the days that I do it, I just feel better. If I go too many days without doing any writing, things start to feel a little off. So really, WHY is this daily writing habit so to hard for me to implement?!?

Yesterday, I was listening to a Jeff Goins podcast The Portfolio Life, and he was discussing 3 daily habits he thinks are essential for becoming a better writer.  Here they are:
1.     Capture ideas of things to write about. (Do this throughout your day, every day.)
2.     Draft 500 words a day. (Take one of those ideas and turn it into a draft.)
3.     Edit one of your drafts from a previous day.

I love that.  And yes, it sounds simple.  But not easy.

500 words is not a lot.  And neither is the time it would take to write them.  But neither is 5 minutes of daily meditation and I find doing that so challenging as well.  I’ve used apps to help me remember to meditate, and I’ve sporadically done it, but I just haven’t been able to make it a habit.  BUT, maybe that’s because I still have yet to see the benefits for me personally when it comes to mediation.

Writing though, is very important to me and I feel the benefits every time I do it. I am able to clarify the way I feel about things when I write about them. And I know to become a better writer, it’s all about carving out the time to just do it.  

So here it is.  Day 1 of this simple formula to become a better writer.  Simple.  But not easy.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Packing Light

About a month ago, while packing for a vacation, I accidentally left at least half of the clothes that were suppose to be packed in my suitcase on a shelf in my closet instead.  Of course I didn’t realize it until I was there, unpacking my bag.  Fortunately I brought my most important things, and just didn’t have as many duplicates on shirts and pants as I had intended.  Also fortunately, the place we were staying had a washer and dryer.

For a vacation that was a little over a week, I had a pair of leggings, a mini skirt, a pair of pants, 2 long sleeved t-shirts and 3 short sleeved shirts and a warm hoodie.  Normally, I pack a different outfit for each day I’m on vacation. So this was a big change for me.

And as it turns out, it was a good change.  I learned that I LOVE packing light.  I wore every single item of clothing I bought- more than once!  I mainly layered things because I was in Colorado, and the weather was much cooler than I’m used to in Dallas.  I didn’t have to think much about what to wear each day, because there just wasn’t much to choose from.  I did a load of laundry when I ran out of things, and then just wore everything again. When I got home, there weren’t as many clothes to launder and put away as usual and that was yet another bonus.  Also, the clothes I brought on that trip make me think of Colorado-  Now, each time I see my “Life is Good” t-shirt now, it’s not just another t-shirt.  Instead, it’s, “Awww, it’s that t-shirt I wore all the time on the Pagosa Springs trip.”  And I like that!

So when I was packing for my trip to Breckenridge this past week, I packed light again.  I knew we were staying at a house that had a washer and dryer, AND I also knew we weren’t traveling to a 3rd world country.  If there was something I found myself needing, I could always buy it once I was there!

Again, I loved that I only had a few different pieces of clothing to chose from each day. If it was clean and it seemed warm enough (or cool enough, depending on the day’s weather) it went ON.  Everything I brought pretty much matched, so it was like I was back to wearing Garanimals. Remember Garanimals? When I was a kid, it was a clothing line, made for kids, that are ideal to "mix-n-match" because each season, everything they put out matched, more or less. I could get dressed in the dark, and no matter what, it wouldn’t be a complete disaster.

So there it is. This is minimalism that works for me... Packing mix-n-match clothes, and keeping it light... as long as I have access to a washer and dryer!
Because seriously, who cares what clothes someone is wearing when the scene looks like THIS anyway?!