life curation · reading list

2019 Planning – For The Sake of Writing

Today, I’m babysitting a few of my favorite munchkins, so today’s post will have to be a brief one. They’re keeping me busy today LOL!

I’m making my 2019 plans and I realized that I really want to do a writer’s workshop/retreat. I haven’t ever done anything like that before, so I’m eager to give it a whirl. I think my writing would benefit from a vacation/trip dedicated to it. I know that my writing is better when I am in a different environment, so a retreat seems like a natural choice.

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I did a quick search on Google and found this list of 37 (yes, 37!) writers retreats that occurred in 2018. I figure that these will be the same in 2019 as well; at very minimum, most of these retreats are probably recurring. I also found this list with 8 more retreats (I only saw one retreat that was a duplicate from the list of 37). The 40+ retreats on these lists have a lot of options at different price points, and all of them are centered around creating better writers.

If any of you’ve done one of the retreats listed, please tell me all about it in the comments below! Also, if you know of a different retreat that isn’t on either of the lists, PLEASE tell me all about it! I’m still deciding which one would be best for me, and I could use some input for anyone that knows more about them.

Enjoy your Sunday (I know that I am!) and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

reading list

My Latest Book Purchases

Oh, I hope you didn’t think that *just* because the monthly reading list is on hiatus that I had stopped buying books . . . I am an incurable bibliophile. I refuse to give up the habit. So yes, I’m still buying as many books as my heart desires, and I do so unapologetically.

I figured that I’d share some of the books I’ve purchased recently. At least one of these will be going on my cruise with me, because I love reading while I’m sitting poolside. So long as I can get a chair in a good spot, I’ll be enjoying a book while getting some sun.

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First up is Joy Every Day: You Daily Mood Tracker by Esmee Rotmans. This adorable journal captures your intentions for the week and has spaces for you to keep track of your daily moods. I love that each week has slightly different writing prompts to keep it from getting monotonous. It also has lots of stickers, and who doesn’t love stickers?

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Next, I purchased Diversifying Diplomacy: My Journey from Roxbury to Dakar by Harriet Lee Elam-Thomas. This lovely woman was a diplomat with the US State Department for over 40 years (!) and she chronicles her journey from life in the US to worldwide woman of power. This one will be in my carry-on when I go on my cruise: I can’t wait to read it!

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I also purchased The Perfume Garden: A Novel  by Kate Lord Brown from a recent trip to the Dollar Tree. For the record, don’t sleep on the Dollar Tree’s books: sometimes they have some really good stuff hiding on their shelves! Anyway, this book is the story of a perfumer who is going through a trying time in her life and the journey that unfolds after she travels to a home purchased by her recently deceased mother. I’m saving this one for my next 3-day weekend, when I’ll have the time and energy to really savor it.

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Finally, I got The Me Journal: A Questionnaire Keepsake by Shane Windham. This beautiful books captures details about your life and preferences for all time. I love that I could gift this to someone that I love and they could hold onto it for sentimental purposes. I also like that it’s a way to recall little details about yourself. Funny enough, I think this would be useful for someone that feels “lost” and out of touch with himself/herself: the combination of light questions and probing ones is a good way to remember who you once were and who you want to be going forward.

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Those are the books I’ve gotten recently. I hope you’re inspired to pick up a juicy book to read today!

life curation · reading list

Reading List Temporarily on Hiatus . . .

Happy Saturday, beloveds! As you all know, I’m gearing up to start regularly producing content on my YouTube channel and, as a result, there will be a few changes to the blog.

For now, I’ll be putting the reading list posts on a bit of a hiatus. I’m still reading – a lot – but I’m going to save my reviews for the really special books that cross my path. That way, I’m focusing on creating content that I’m truly excited about, and I believe that enthusiasm will be contagious.

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Other than that tidbit, I’m doing a lot of writing today (I’m updating my word count once I finish up for the day) so I can make a real impact on my 365k words goal. I’m glad that I’m making progress, but I’m being gentle with myself because I know I’ll see the most impact in the fall, when I go on vacation (which is always a good time to write) and when NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writers Month – rolls around.

After I finish my writing, I’m going out. I deserve a treat! I hope you all get to treat yourselves to something nice today, as well.

Take care, and enjoy your Saturday!

reading list

Reading List: August’s Book

Happy Friday, darlings! I hope you’ve got an exciting weekend planned or, if relaxation is what you need, I hope that you’ve planned some time to chill out and restore yourself.

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It’s time for August’s book!

I tossed around a few options for this month, because I was unsure whether I wanted (yet another) book focused on self improvement or something completely different. However, while looking through a few of my stacks of books, I came across one that I hadn’t read yet and was eager to finally dig into.

August’s book is Elizabeth Takes Off by Elizabeth Taylor. I don’t think I’ve read a celebrity’s autobiography in years, so this will be very different from my norm. I love Elizabeth Taylor (remember I did a post about her nearly a year ago?) so when I purchased this book, it was because I wanted the secret to her crazy-tiny waistline. Yeah, it’s superficial, but if she’s giving out the secrets, I want to be the first in line, with my pen in hand.

When I glanced through the book, I recalled that this is, indeed, a book about her diet, but it’s also a discussion about her personal life and career, so it should be a well-balanced, fascinating read. I’m looking forward to reading this one!

reading list

Book Review: Your Life By Design By Curtis R. Estes

I had to schedule this book review a little later this month, because I had a really hard time making it through this book for the purpose of reviewing it. You’ll understand a bit later why writing this review was challenging.

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The book I selected to read during the month of June was Your Life by Design by Curtis R. Estes. I’ve had this book for several years but never managed to read it – until now. The book is a series of exercises and examples designed to help the reader examine current patterns and choices. After examining the present, the reader is gently lead through the process of creating and executing a new vision – a vision that reflects the reader’s closely held values and desires.

In short, this is a workbook that requires thoughtfulness and time as you complete the exercises. That, by default, makes it a difficult book to “review”, since there are actions required from the reader in order to get the most out of the text and I sincerely feel that these exercises should not be “rushed”.

This book contains many fantastic tips for examining lifestyle balance and harmony. I’m a fan of how this book emphasizes looking at your life and determining how much joy you derive from your activities. For instance, I was intrigued by Estes’ personal calendar, that not only listed out his activities for the day but also assigned an emotional score to each activity (identifying how happy or unhappy he was about completing that particular task) as well as a list of the day’s overall goals and the expenditures required for the day. This holistic view of the day really helps to put individual activities into perspective.

All that being said, I HIGHLY recommend the book for anyone trying to create new patterns and a clearer vision for his or her life. The steps are great for creating the kind of changes that will nurture and boost behaviors that contribute to a quality lifestyle. I thoroughly enjoyed this workbook. In fact, I liked it so well that I decided that I would be going through the exercises, individually, in the fall of this year.

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July Reading Selection

Whew, what a busy year I’ve been enjoying! I’ve been loving the changes I’ve seen so far and the exciting times ahead. Because things have been moving at an accelerated pace, I almost decided against selecting a book for July.

But I love books and I’m constantly reading a wide variety of material, so I might as well select one book that I will review after reading. The book I’ve chosen for this month is Monet by Karin Sagner-Duechting. This book is a large book – almost coffee table-sized – and has beautiful photographs of Claude Monet’s work. After telling you all about my love of impressionism and Monet, particularly, I figured this would be a good selection.

Funny enough, I had forgotten that I had thi book. I got it for $2 at a thrift store and put it on my shelf but never thought about it again, until I started poking around for another book for my monthly reading selections.

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Book Review: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

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When I mentioned The War of Art by Steven Pressfield in my May Reading List post, I shared that I had read it before, but I rushed through it. I read it as part of a business “boot camp” that I participated in a few years ago. The book was good but since the business I was designing wasn’t “creative”, it didn’t feel relevant to my circumstances at the time.

However, I’m in a different space in my life now, and I am tapping into my creative powers regularly. That’s why I post daily in this space, whether I have lots to talk about or not much going on. It’s all about continuing to write and dedicating myself to my craft. Errors and all, I post here every day with the hope that I’ll share something that inspires or educates.

Back to War of Art: this book is all about learning what “Resistance” is, how it impacts our creative projects, and how to break through it. For those that don’t know, Resistance is anything that distracts us from our creative projects or interferes with our creative expression. Resistance takes many forms, but each of them are detrimental to the creative, who is denied their natural expression when they allow Resistance to win.

Resistance is described as an enemy that has mastered the art of disguise: so much so, it’s possible that this enemy is attacking you from several angles. However, once identified, the enemy can be defeated and the creative can realize his/her ultimate goal. Pressfield assures us that Resistance can be beaten, as he stated, “Defeating Resistance is like giving birth. It seems absolutely impossible until you remember that women have been pulling it off successfully, with support and without, for fifty million years”.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section outlines the many disguises of Resistance: it can be something as blatant as procrastination or as subtle as vicarious living through loved ones. The second section describes the way to conquer Resistance which is going “pro”: utilizing strategies of the “professional” to sets out to do his/her work regardless of all of the Resistance swirling in the atmosphere. The third section is all about what happens after Resistance is conquered. This section speaks of the magic of starting a project, the incredible outcomes of deferring to “higher powers” like God, the Muses, etc., and moving beyond the Ego.

This entire book is enjoyable, but I’m especially a fan of the second section. Many of the practices outlined are disciplines that could serve you in multiple arenas. I often need to be reminded of what a “professional” does, so that, instead of being frustrated by circumstance, I’m focused instead on what I need to do.

This was such a good read! I hope you all check it out and find some benefit in it for yourselves!