reading list · Uncategorized

Books Read in February 2021

Happy March 1st, and Happy Women’s History Month, friends! This post is going live super-late, because yours truly has a new set of nails and I’m typing extra slowly (don’t laugh, I’m serious!)

Anyhoo, let’s move on to the topic, which is the book list for February. I was, once again, a tad disappointed by how many books I read. But something is better than nothing, right? I’m learning to appreciate my progress no matter how small, but my old perfectionist ways still get the best of me sometimes. It’s a struggle.

Without further ado, here is my list of books read for February:

I’ll be able to devote more time to reading this month, as I’m already clearing my calendar for some major book time (no less than 30 minutes a day, every single day). I also started two books in February that I’ll complete this month, so I’m looking forward to that.

That’s it for my book updates. I’m anticipating some better news at the end of this month! I’ll talk to you all soon.

reading list · Uncategorized

Book Review – Elixir For Life

Happy Thursday, friends! Currently, there are a few regions of the United States experiencing severe winter weather, resulting in power failures and interruptions with water supply. I hope you all are staying safe and warm!

Today’s post is a book review that I’m excited to share with you all. The book is Elixir for Life by H. Benjamin Poke. Poke is native to my home state, so I consider him a local author. Also, I’m proud to share that this gifted poet is also my paternal uncle.

I will try my best to post an impartial review, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s difficult for me to be unbiased. I know the labor of love that went into creating this collection of poems. I am also influenced by the author’s (my uncle’s) consistently loving and generous nature. Further, I’m partial because I know for myself how kindly he treats others, complete strangers as well as his family. He is one of the most genuinely warm people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He’s a loving husband, devoted father, and a beloved grandfather and loyal friend.

That being said, let’s get into the review. The book is written from a Christian perspective, so if you are not a Christian, you may not be able to relate to some of the content. But, as with my review of Synergy, I’d like to point out the fact that a difference in religious perspective may not detract from your enjoyment of the book.

I enjoyed each of these poems, written from the perspective of strong, steady supporter cheering for the readers to overcome daily struggles and align with a higher purpose for their lives. There are hundreds of poems in the book, which is why I cannot recommend just one for you. Each poem offers encouragement and inspiration, and it’s easy to find a poem that suits your particular struggles and circumstances. This is the kind of book that you pick up when you’re feeling low and need a kind word, or that you read when you just want to feel more connected with your higher power/spiritual source.

This book is a wonderful addition to any collection, and I’d put it up there against the words of famed poets Maya Angelou and Lucille Clifton. Make sure to check it out on Amazon (the link is here). I hope that you order it and enjoy!

That’s it for today’s post. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Phoning a Friend

Happy Writer’s Wednesday! Last week, I shared two posts about writing and editing. The last Writer’s Wednesday post discussed how I was ‘in the thick’ of editing. The next day, I wrote about summoning muses, or, in other words, how to find inspiration. This week, I want to go in a slightly different direction.

Do you all recall how I wrote about being distracted and putting off my writing a bit? Well, the same (but different) thing is happening with editing. I find myself needing a distraction because being in my head so much isn’t good for me. I tend to pick apart my words to the point where I’m ready to throw away an entire manuscript. And THAT would be foolish.

So, I did what I always do: I called a friend. It goes contrary to what I’ve advised previously, but one of the key things about the writing, editing and publishing processes is to follow inspiration, or intuition, as needed. Sometimes, your soul nudges you to take a break from your writing tasks and simply enjoy being in the moment. For me, being in the moment means enjoying a conversation with a friend.

But it didn’t have to be a phone call involved. I could have worked on my garden plans a bit further, took a walk (the weather was a bit warmer yesterday), painstakingly cook a meal from scratch, etc.,. The activity doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that doing something different from editing offers me a bit of a mental reprieve.

Flexibility has been key. After talking to one of my friends, I was able to jump back into my editing, more charged than ever. Yes, I think I’ll be able to finish my book edits by the end of this month. This is so exciting: I can’t believe that the final manuscript will be ready soon!

reading list

Book Review: Synergy by C. O. Clark

Hi friends! After sharing that I’m a little behind on my book reading, I decided to buckle down and read at least ten books this month. So I’m already done with one book and working on my next one, four days into the month. That’s what I’m talking about!

This book is titled Synergy, written by C. O. Clark. This is a book of poetry that describes the experience of daring to live boldly and claim our authentic selves. The book description on Amazon states:

“Synergy is the third and final volume in the Equilibrium series. This three volume series is a poetic approach to articulating life, and emotions we bury; afraid of ridicule and rejection. Together we bring down the walls of what it means to remove the veil of being vulnerable — the false equating of vulnerability being weakness. We create a safe space to be authentic and to express our beliefs, fears, doubts, and all the what-ifs. We lay the foundation to voice our troubles, pains, and burdens.”

Because this is Black History Month in the United States, I am focusing specifically on works written Black/African-American authors this month. For the entire month, I am reading works by Black authors exclusively, and I’ll be featuring authors that live locally for this month’s book reviews. As it turns out, I attended the book launch for Synergy back in 2019, and the author read a few of the poems to us. I purchased the book that night, and I’m thrilled that I’m finally reviewing it.

I love the journey that Clark takes you on when you read her work. She goes through a range of emotions, from pain, fear and rejection, to joy, romantic love, and spiritual awakening. This is a wonderful book that I’m looking forward to reading again and again. I definitely recommend it!

That’s all for today. I hope you all are doing well. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

This post contains affiliate links.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Starting to Edit

So, it’s Writers Wednesday, and I’m editing.

Lord help me!

Actually, I don’t mind editing. If anyone is going to kill my darlings, let it be me, so the death will be merciful. As it turns out, I’ve been blessed (and cursed) with a critical eye, so I’m a natural editor. So, this experience isn’t so bad.

Editing is time-consuming, but rewarding. I love seeing my ideas come together more cohesively, so the editing process is fine with me. I’m giving myself the entire month to get it done, and even a little more time, if necessary.

For my fellow writers, do you all do your own editing? Or, do you hire an editor to do it for you? I’m curious about what works for you.

reading list

Books Read in January 2021

Happy Monday, and Happy First Day of February! We made it through the first month of 2021 and so far, so good. I’m anticipating that the remaining months will go smoothly and will be absolutely AMAZING!

So as you know from my 2021 goals post, I had a goal to read 100+ books this year. Of course, I don’t anticipate that I will read exactly 9-10 books every single month, though that would be nice. But, if I can get close to that amount, I count it as a win.

For me, acknowledging the progress I’m making is important to keeping me accountable. So, in an attempt to continue with my accountability, here are the books that I read in January:

As you can see, I only read 4 books this month. But, compared to last year, this is fantastic! I finally have the energy and time to read through books, and eventually, I’ll read even more books throughout this year. I’m already working on my February books, and I think I’ll get closer to reading 9/10 books, even though there are fewer days in this month.

I think that noting progress is crucial for all of us. Any improvement puts us closer to our goals. It’s so easy to focus on what’s wrong instead of focusing on the ways that you’re getting better every day. Why not choose to look at what’s going right?

That’s my brief book update. I’m looking forward to listing more books for February!

That’s it for today. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

*This post contains affiliate links.

reading list

Book Review: Lunar and Biodynamic Gardening

Hi friends! I’m really excited to discuss today’s book with you all. As you all may know, I’m still a new(ish) homeowner, and I love flowers and gardening. So instead of waiting until March or April to start thinking about my garden, I decided to begin my garden planning now, so that I can hit the ground running after the first frost.

The book I’m reviewing is Lunar and Biodynamic Gardening by Matt Jackson. The book focuses on gardening in a way that allows you to create an optimum environment that supports the plants organically. This focus on healthy soil, working with nature’s natural rhythms, and disturbing the environment as little as possible makes it so that both the plants and all wildlife thrive.

Unfortunately, I got this book from the Dollar Tree and I’m unable to locate it on Amazon. However, the author has another book on Amazon that may be worth checking out (it covers the lunar phases and their effects on plants). Make sure to check that out if you enjoy this sort of content.

This book is broken down into six, easy-to-read chapters. The first chapter teaches the basics, explaining what lunar gardening and biodynamics are, and how these two differ from one another. The next chapter outlines what you need to start, depending on the size of your intended garden. The next chapters focus on soil and compost, growing food, growing flowers, and container gardening.

The author resides in the UK, so he is located in the Northern Hemisphere like me. But, he has generously provided resources for readers that may be in the Southern Hemisphere. He also shares resources to help readers get further clarification on certain principles.

I love how accessible lunar and biodynamic gardening approaches can be for novices. Jackson does a great job explaining how to work with various yard/garden sizes. My yard is medium sized, but my garden will be planned as if I have a small yard, and if I’m inspired, I will expand in future years. It’ll be great to start small so I can really master the concepts before I dive deeper.

In this world of law of attraction/conscious creation, it’s really easy to focus on the spiritual or esoteric sides of things to the point where we may not see the practical side of tuning into nature. But this book is a great reminder of how energy works, and how everything works together. I’m fascinated by the moon cycles, and I’m eager to see how these principles influence my garden’s success. I’ll be writing about this in upcoming posts, so look out for updates!

That’s it for today. I hope you all are staying safe and having a great day. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – How to Stop Self-Sabotage

Welcome back to Writers Wednesdays! How is your writing coming along? Probably a little (or a lot) better than mine! I made up for slacking over the past week by knocking out a whopping 100 words in a weekend.

No, you did not misread that. I completed one hundred words in a weekend. And that’s ALL I could manage to write. I had family visiting (not too many members: gotta stay safe!) so I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to my writing. I’ve since made up for it over the past couple of days, clocking about 1,000 words per day. However, this still puts me behind schedule.

With that being said, I know a little about self sabotage. I often find myself throwing monkey wrenches into my own plans. Sometimes, the delays are due to health issues, but other times, it’s that mental “block” that exists when you have a big goal that feels gargantuan.

You know the ‘block’: it looks a lot like writer’s block, or procrastination, or an overloaded schedule. Whatever form the block takes, it can ruin your grand plans if you let it.

So the important question to ask is, HOW can you stop self sabotage?

For me, getting to the root of my self sabotage always starts with examining my emotions. Asking myself, “How am I feeling?” usually reveals the biggest clues behind the “block”. When I feel depressed, I usually experience writer’s block, or lack of inspiration. When I’m feeling anxious, I generally procrastinate. And when I feel fear, I overload my schedule with activities so that I don’t have the time to write.

Taking inventory of how your emotions manifest into particular behaviors will probably reveal some patterns for you, too.

After examining the emotion, I address it. For depression, more sunlight, upping my self care, and immersing myself in creative and artistic media (old Hollywood movies, art museums, music from around the world) usually does the trick. Not to mention, I have a great book by Ginie Sayles, titled, “Writer’s Block is a Crock”. I often use that to help me through those tough times. Anxiety is remedied by slowing down and being more intentional, (again) upping my self care, getting back into my yoga practice, and breathing deeply. For fear, I’ll admit: I don’t have a remedy that I can self-administer. I usually rely on a kick-in-the-pants from a well-meaning friend.

One of my favorite books for overcoming writer’s block

Fear is always the toughest one for me to manage. It isn’t fear of criticism, so much as it is fear of not being able to create a work that I’m proud of. I fear that I will write a mediocre text. And if there’s one thing I detest, it’s mediocrity.

Fortunately, I have great friends that encourage me to make my work better. They give specific examples of how it can be better. Then they trust me to make up my own mind, either to accept or reject their advice. I’ve done both, and I’ve been pleased with the outcome each time. They don’t take it personal if I choose a different strategy. But because they have great perspectives, I rarely discard their advice.

So fear is one that I’m still working on, to be honest with you. That’s what I’m experiencing right now. That’s why I made meals from scratch, two days in a row, during the time that I should have been writing. But recognizing the emotion is the first step. And I’m relying on my friends to help me through it. If you don’t have a trusted counsel to help you with things like this, I advise you build that group NOW. I promise you won’t regret it.

That’s it for today. I hope you all are well. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

*This post contains affiliate links.

life curation · reading list

Book Review: The Crystal Fix by Juliette Thornbury

Happy Monday, friends! This is my first official book review of the year, and it’s a good one.

The book I’m reviewing today is The Crystal Fix by Juliette Thornbury. I purchased the book from Barnes and Noble last fall. I’ve been eager to read it, but other things took priority, so I didn’t get around to reading it until a few days ago.

This book is an excellent reference for crystal newbies (like myself). It gives a thorough, but not overwhelming, overview of crystal healing theory, as well as a list of crystals that are best for specific parts of the home. Then, the book dives deeper into a multitude of crystals and minerals, their properties, and how to combine them for best results.

I think what’s really special about the book is how it makes the worlds of crystals ACCESSIBLE and easy to incorporate. I wasn’t inundated by lots of technical jargon or too much information. It’s a reference guide but it’s so much more than that: it reads like a fun how-to book. There are instructions for incorporating crystals into your life, such as making crystal grids, meditation and rituals with crystals, and even beauty treatments that are infused with crystals.

To be fair, this guide is not all exhaustive: there are many crystals that are not listed (I can think of a few off of the top of my head, such as prehnite and quantum quattro). But the book isn’t made to be all-encompassing: it has just enough information to give you a great introduction to crystals and common ways to use them.

I think what’s really special about this book is that, as you read, you’ll find certain crystals resonate with you, and you’ll be inspired to buy those crystals. It’s funny: the crystals end up picking YOU, instead of you picking them. I awaiting my shipment of rhodochrosite and shungite now.

I encourage anyone that is interested in crystals to purchase this book and learn more. There is some great information in this book and it’s a wonderful introduction to the world of crystals.

That’s it for today. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Choosing a Topic

Hi everyone! Last week, I mentioned that I had something special coming . . . And here it is!

I’m doing a writing challenge (so far, I’m the only participant!) for the next few months. Since one of my New Year goals is to publish 5 books in this year, I knew that I’d need to make writing a more permanent part of my routine. Going forward, each Wednesday will be Writers Wednesday, where I will discuss a different topic related to the book that I’m working on at that time.

This week, I’m discussing the importance of choosing a topic- or, rather, letting a topic choose YOU. It’s funny: whenever I decide to write a book, I am careful to allow inspiration to take me to the topic that I should develop. Whenever I try to overstep inspiration and “force” a book idea, I end up giving up before I can finish. I need the initial fire of inspiration to help me identify topics that will hold my interest from start to finish.

If you find it hard to finish a book that you’re writing, it may be helpful to examine whether the topic truly interests you and feels inspired, or if it’s a topic that you chose because it seemed logical (for instance, writing a book about cooking because you’re a chef). Sometimes, “logical” topics are uninspired and end up taking a lot longer to complete than topics that somehow “find you”: these subjects aren’t necessarily your current area of expertise, but you still feel compelled to write about them. When you rely on your emotions moreso than your reasoning mind, you’re probably operating from inspiration.

Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s possible to choose a book topic using logic and feel inspired while writing it. But if you find that you’re losing interest before you can complete your manuscript, you’re probably “forcing” your writing, which takes the joy out of the process. Learn to listen to inspiration so that you can enjoy your writing as you complete your book.

I selected my topic for my current book, and I will start writing today. I’m excited to see where this process leads me! I’ll give you all more details next week, but until then, take care.