a year of Wooden: week 30

Hi, everyone! Hope you had a lovely Labor Day weekend! Dana is visiting and we spent a gorgeous day soaking up the sunshine in Santa Barbara. I love having this beautiful inside-and-out person for a friend!

me and dana sb

Now it’s time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge… and we’re into a new month, which means a new topic!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry.

Back in January, we began this year-long challenge with the first item from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Drink deeply from good books. Now, back-to-school time seems the perfect season to return to this idea of learning, curiosity, and growth through reading. I want to include a special focus on poetry because Coach Wooden had a deep love for poetry. He could recite many poems by heart and even wrote poetry himself. So, for the month of September, we are going to delve into poetry.

But before moving forward, let’s wrap up August’s focus on balance. Last week’s challenge was to try to do one activity from each of your categories every day. My main categories are:

  • Family & friends
  • Work
  • Writing
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

Here are some activities I did this past week: spent quality time with my grandparents {my grandma is healing very well from her hip operation!} and extended family, as well as my parents, sweetheart, and Dana; put in a solid 12-15 hours of editing work; revised 80+ pages of my work-in-progress; submitted pieces to three journals; watched a fun movie and read some of my favorite blogs; wrote in my gratitude journal and meditated; and did lots and lots of walking in the sunshine!

I still want to get back into my yoga routine, which has been difficult with all the traveling I’ve been doing lately. Does anyone have good beginner yoga YouTube videos to recommend, since I haven’t been able to make it to my favorite classes in-person?

It can be overwhelming {not to mention impossible} trying to “have it all” and “do it all”… so last week’s challenge was important for me. I shifted my mind-set away from trying to cram 1,001 things into each day and instead focused on making time for two or three of my key categories every day. Just as I had hoped, over the course of the week I did feel much more balanced and peaceful — and happy! I’m definitely planning to continue this routine.

To kick of the month of September, for this week’s challenge, I am going to read Selected Poems of Robert Frost.

Selected Poems Robert Frost

You can also read many of Robert Frost’s poems online here. Next week, I’ll share my favorite poem from the collection, and I’d love to hear yours as well!

Questions for the day:

  • How did your month of balance go? Did you learn anything about yourself?
  • Who are some of your favorite poets?

P.S. A special birthday shout-out to Holly, who turned 27 yesterday!

me and hol brunch

I love you so much, my dear friend!

a year of Wooden: week 29

Happy Monday, friends! It’s time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.

Coach Wooden said, “The two most important words in the English language are LOVE and BALANCE.” In July, we focused on the first of those: cultivating and nurturing more love in our lives. Now, in August, we are working to create better balance in our lives.

balance quote

Last week’s challenge was to look at the inventory of the key components that make up each of your categories and think about how these activities might come together in a balanced way to create your “perfect ordinary day.” My main categories are:

  • Family & friends
  • Work
  • Writing
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

My “perfect ordinary day” would be a stress-free morning spent waking up slowly with meditation, gratitude journaling, and a hot mug of tea; three or four hours of diligent writing on my creative work-in-progress; an afternoon spent blogging, working on editing projects, and teaching; nourishment throughout the day from healthy, nutritious meals; yoga class or a nice walk; time spent with family and friends; and reading for half an hour before bed from a great book.

For this week’s challenge, try to do one activity from each of your categories every day. See what it feels like. Be flexible and give yourself grace. For example, if I’m having an especially busy day, maybe I can’t make it to yoga class but I am able to do a fifteen-minute core circuit routine before bed. Maybe you can’t meet up with a friend in person, but you can connect with them over email or text message to let them know you are thinking of them.

Remember: balance does not happen overnight, and it means cultivating a routine of mindfulness. The goal is to focus on making time for each of your key categories — each day might not be perfectly balanced, but over the course of the week you should feel balanced between all of your categories. Let me know how it goes!

Questions for the day:

  • What does a “perfect ordinary day” look like for you?
  • What activities do you want to make time for in your life this week?

a year of Wooden: week 28

Hi everyone! It’s time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.

Coach Wooden said, “The two most important words in the English language are LOVE and BALANCE.” In July, we focused on the first of those: cultivating and nurturing more love in our lives. Now, in August, we are working to create better balance in our lives.

balance quote

Last week’s challenge was to identify the four or five key areas of your life. Here are mine:

  • Family & friends
  • Work
  • Writing
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

I differentiated “work” from “writing” because I do a variety of tasks as part of my job other than writing, but I feel the need to write every day in order to feel happy and productive. If I only do other work-related projects, such as teaching and blogging and publicity stuff — but no writing — then it doesn’t feel like a wholly fulfilling day to me. So “writing” is important enough to me to be its own separate category.

For me, “mental health” includes the things that I need to de-stress and center myself: meditation, reading for pleasure, volunteering. “Physical health” encompasses exercise {yoga, walks, core exercises} and also eating healthfully {and carving out the time to cook healthful meals!}

Source: http://www.pinterest.com/explore/inspiration-quotes/

Source: pinterest

For this week’s challenge, look at the inventory of the key components that make up each of your categories. Now, spend a little while daydreaming about how these activities might come together in a balanced way to create your perfect ordinary day. I want to make the distinction between “perfect day” and “perfect ordinary day” because I think to a lot of us, a “perfect day” would be comprised of vacation-type activities. This is certainly lovely and fun to think about, but probably isn’t sustainable over the long-term.

Instead, for this challenge, I want you to think about how you can make your ordinary, everyday days be the best possible masterpiece days they can be. And that means putting together a roadmap of balanced activities from each of the core important areas of your life!

Questions for the day:

  • What are the key areas/categories in your life?
  • What does a “perfect ordinary day” look like for you?

a year of Wooden: week 27

Hi everyone! I’m coming at you with this week’s year of Wooden challenge… and we’re into August, which means a new monthly focus!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.
  • August: Balance.

Coach Wooden said, “The two most important words in the English language are LOVE and BALANCE.” In July, we focused on the first of those: cultivating and nurturing more love in our lives. Now, in August, we’ll strive to create better balance in our lives.

Last week’s challenge was to go beyond just saying, “I love you” and SHOW someone your love. The aim was to do seven loving gestures for the week, one every day. I made a phone call to check in on a friend, lavished compliments and praise on my students, sent a card to my brother, helped my grandparents entertain guests, mailed a care package, treated my mom to fro-yo, and tried to up my share of household chores. Lots of little gestures, but they brought smiles to the faces of those I love, and made me feel more loved and happy in turn.

balance quote

To kick off our new month’s focus on balance, this week’s challenge is to identify the four or five key areas of your life. These should be broad categories, like “Family/Friends”, “Work”, “Hobbies” and “Exercise.” Next, jot down a few things describing each one. For example, under my “Exercise” category I would write down “yoga, walks, core strength” while under “Hobbies” I might identify “knitting, baking, blogging, reading.” In this way, you’re taking an inventory of the key components that make up your life and happiness. For the rest of month, we’ll work on getting them in balance!

Questions for the day:

  • What was your over-all experience in the month of July with our focus on love? Does your life feel more full and rich with love than it did before?
  • What are the key areas/categories in your life?

a year of Wooden: week 26

Hi everyone! Time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.
  • February: Make friendship a fine art.
  • March: Help others.
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May: Be true to yourself.
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.

Coach Wooden said, “The two most important words in the English language are LOVE and BALANCE.” This month, we’ll be focusing on the first of those: cultivating and nurturing more love in our lives. Next month, we’ll strive to create better balance in our lives.

Last week’s challenge was to write a love letter to yourself. Surprisingly, this was actually quite a bit harder for me than it was to write a love letter to someone else. At first I felt uncomfortable. I think I am a fairly confident person, and yet it seemed silly to be spending time writing down things I love about myself. Why is that? Did any of you have a similar experience?

I think many of us are trained to focus on our flaws and weaknesses, to always try to improve ourselves, that we don’t spend nearly enough time acknowledging our strengths. By the end of my love letter to myself, I had tears in my eyes. I felt so grateful to be alive and to be ME. I wrote my letter in my journal, and now I plan to go back and read it every so often, anytime I am feeling down about myself.

This week’s challenge is to go beyond just saying, “I love you” and SHOW someone your love. This doesn’t have to be a romantic gesture; doing your roommate’s dishes, helping your little brother with his homework, bringing a coworker coffee, giving your spouse a back rub — anything kind and thoughtful shows the people in your life that you appreciate them. Aim to do seven loving gestures this week, one every day. Let me know how it goes!

Questions for the day:

  • What was you experience writing a love letter to yourself?
  • When was the last time someone made you feel really appreciated?

saturday upsides: the small, ordinary pleasures of home

Happy weekend, everyone! It’s time to celebrate Saturday Upsides!

saturdayupsidesbutton

Yesterday, I was reading a lovely collection of short stories, Who’s Irish? by Gish Jen, and I came across this quote about life as a mother and homemaker that really struck a chord with me. Maybe it will for you, too!

whos irish cover
“It was absurd to be made happy by this small shared anticipation. Before the table actually got set, there had to be an argument about whose turn it was. How could this make Pammie happy? But it did, even as it drove her batty. She liked her busy boredom, too, if only because it readied her for the moment when Adam presented Inka with a rattle shaped like a football, or when Phoebe invented her own version of Duck, Duck, Goose: House, House, Home, this was called. You had to be a little bored to have those moments break over you the way they could. But if you sat waiting in a good dark night, they opened and opened like a brand of newfangled fireworks that lit the clouds, and the ground below, too, and all the faces turned upward, then fell with a sparkling rush right into your hands.”

– an excerpt from the story “House, House, Home” from the collection Who’s Irish by Gish Jen

I treasure the small, ordinary moments of life at home with those I love!

What are your upsides this weekend?

review of “the secret keeper” by kate morton

I mentioned on Saturday that I was happy to be curling up with a good book: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, which was the January pick of the PB Fingers book club. I’m so happy this book was chosen for the book club, because otherwise I’m not sure if I would have known about it. I had not read any books by Kate Morton before, and in general I do not read much historical fiction, but I will certainly be checking out the rest of her work now!

The Secret Keeper shifts between present-day England and WWII London during the Blitz. It took me fifty pages or so to fully settle into the book, but I grew to deeply enjoy the rich details and extensive research Kate Morton must have done to write this book. I also don’t want to spoil it, but the ending is marvelous!! I felt almost giddy with suspense and the thrill of a surprise well done.

kate morton

Without trying to give too much away, here are some of my thoughts and take-aways from this book:

  • Reading this made me feel like I was alongside the characters, living through a war: incessant days and nights of terrible bombings, friends and family killed, men going into battle. It made me appreciate the quiet, peaceful life I enjoy. Nothing like war to put my own little daily struggles and problems into perspective. And it also made me feel very grateful to veterans and current U.S. soldiers who put their lives on the line for our country. I want to do something as part of my #yearofkindness to show my deep appreciation and gratitude.
  • On a craft level, reading this book as a writer, I was impressed by the way Morton shifted across characters and time periods to keep the reader in suspense. Also, by using a close third-person perspective, she was able to dip inside multiple characters’ thoughts and points of view–and the reader was left to decide how much to trust/believe the information given. {I have long been a fan of unreliable narrators ever since falling in love with The Great Gatsby in high school.}
  • I really enjoyed settling into the vividly drawn world of this book. Morton’s use of details and description is stunning. I want to weave in more details and setting description into my thesis novel that I am currently revising.
  • Historical fiction is wonderful reading! I love feeling like I am learning things about a place and time in history while also being engrossed in a story. Caring about the characters in the book also makes me feel that I get a better sense of who the people were who lived during that time.

Have any of you read The Secret Keeper? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Have a wonderful day!
-Dallas

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like these:
review of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
review of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin