Every year I do the Goodreads challenge where I set a goal of how many books I plan to read through the year and track my progress. I like Goodreads because you can see what your friends are reading for inspiration or check out the recommendations you get based on books you’ve read in the past.
I always aim to read 50 books in a year and will sometimes read a few more than that. I generally have two to three books going at the same time. I’ll have an audiobook I listen to when I’m walking, a paperback or digital book for commuting, and an oversized or hardback book at my nightstand.
I like to alternate between fiction and non fiction. I’ve been part of book clubs in the past and am currently part of a book club at work which is fun. The great thing about book clubs is it challenges you to read books you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. Last year I wouldn’t have read How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan or The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin had it not been for my book club.
I never know that books I’m going to read in a given year. I’ll make some plans but then a new book will come out from an author I enjoy or I’ll pick up something on a whim or recommendation.
I just finished Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes so one down and 49 to go!
What are you reading this year?
Last year I did a 365 project around cooking. It was fun, but I wanted to do something different this year. I wanted to focus on a number of things I want to achieve but do it in baby steps. These aren’t really goals they’re challenges. I plan on tackling five challenges each month. Sometimes I may repeat challenges if I don’t feel I did the challenge justice. Sometimes I may do something related to a previous month’s challenge even if I want to push myself further. I may do challenges that are unrelated to other ones. We’ll see. I have ideas, but I’m allowing myself to be flexible. I’ll go into these specific challenges in more depth in other posts this month but they are:
1. Duolingo: Practice my French every day this month.
2. Read 4 Books: I have a challenge to read 50 books by the end of the year so I want to get into a good rhythm.
3. Eat Whole Food: The holidays are horrible for me. It’s sugar central! I want to get back to basics and detox in a healthy way.
4. Write Every Day: I used to write every day whether it was a blog post, working on an essay to submit for publications, or just journal/brainstorm. I want to get back to that place.
5. Plan for 2018: I want to plan out what I want to work on and towards this year.
Howdy! Sorry for all the silence. I’ve been busy on the personal and professional fronts and to be honest it has caused me some writer’s block so I’ve been neglecting this blog and some other writing projects the past couple of months. At least at this point, I’m trying not to sweat not posting. Don’t get me wrong I love this blog and I love that you read it but this first and foremost is a project I do for myself. I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and at one point in the book, she makes a similar statement around hoping the reader enjoys and gets something out of the book, but that she really wrote it for herself. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time doing what others like or at least what I think they would like that doing something for myself is quite a liberating perspective.
While I’ve been blocked on this and some other writing projects that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing at all. I’ve been making notes, scribbles, and journal entries. Most of these I’ll never publish and that’s okay. These writings were about unblocking myself and finding hidden nuggets of interest.
Whether you’re a writer, an artist, a tax attorney, or have some other profession most of us suffer from some sort of block in our professional and/or personal lives at one point or another. Here’s what I’ve been up to during the past few months to get over this feeling of being stymied:
Read: If you’re stuck it can often be helpful to read or watch something inspiring. Since I’m a writer I’ve been reading several books recently on creativity and on finding one’s true passion. I mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic which is a wonderful book on the creative process and living life as a creator. I highly recommend it. I have also recently enjoyed Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and Martha Beck’s Finding Your North Star. I also reread Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost. If you ignore the rest of my suggestions that’s fine but please do yourself a favor and read everything Ms. Solnit has ever written.
Get Moving: I run and do yoga which I still love. You don’t need to be a gym rat…because lord knows I’m not to get moving. I find taking a walk in the park or even just around the block when I’m strapped for time helps lift my mood and clear my head. I also recently took a Feldenkrais class. It wasn’t really about breaking a sweat. It is much less intense than yoga or pilates but it is great for learning more about your flexibility and equilibrium.
Meditate: Meditation is less about visualizations for me and more about getting my mind to quiet down. I’m lucky enough to work in an office with a weekly meditation group and one of my yoga instructors does a Yoga Nidrameditationn after her class which is a wonderful way to wind down on a weekday evening. I also listen to some guided meditations at home particularly around sleep because I’m a hyperactive sleeper and have found this to be a great tool for helping me get more shut eye. There are a lot of different apps out there on mindfulness and meditating. I personally have been using Insight Timer on iOS. It has recorded guided meditations and a timer if you’re practicing a different meditation on your own.
Journal: You don’t have to be an elegant writer to keep a journal. You actually don’t have to write period. Aside from keeping a traditional diary I also keep a visual journal. I cut out quotes and images from magazines that inspire or spark something in me and paste them into a blank book that I go back and flip through when I’m feeling stuck.
What do you do to get past blockers in your life?