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Turning over a new leaf: Books to start 2020

As I prepared to start into 2020, I reflected back on the amount of reading I had done in 2019. Ten books or so later, how much wiser was I and how much time had I spent deliberately improving myself. When I lounged on the poolside in Bulgaria last July, I consciously worked my way through two of those as my toes faintly tanned. This reignited a like for the past-time that I’d left after me more recently.

Reading is a massive part of my self-development plan, see? Apart from the fact that it takes my ever-busy mind away from multiple screens and social media, it allows me to learn from people who have been there, done that.

Last Christmas, my team bought me a book voucher which actually, helped spark such a keen interest in building my reading. Secondly, the personal and professional life change I saw in 2019 spurred me on to strengthen my knowledge in whatever way possible. Finally, in order to become a better writer, it’s true that aside from actually writing, it’s important to build ideas and vocabulary from absorbing other writer’s content.

This year, I’ll work through at least twenty books. Here’s to hoping it’s doable and well, I’m off to great start so far.

Books I’ve read so far in 2020 (kicked off at the end of 2019) are ‘Everything is figuroutable’ by Marie Forleo, ‘What would the Spice Girls do?’ by Lauren Bravo and ‘Who moved my cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson M.D.

My top recommendation is ‘Everything is figuroutable’ by Marie Forleo. Picked up while rummaging through Barnes and Noble in Utah at the end of the year, I spotted this read. When I started as a freelancer in 2011, I watched a lot of Marie’s videos as I wanted to learn how to be the best marketer and entrepreneur possible. Fast forward to when I bought the book, it’s been a nice reminder of her brilliance.

Marie Forleo is a self-made, self-motivated life coach who quit her high-paying job to embark on a ten year journey to successful entrepreneurship.

Her book covers the fundamentals of how to reach her definition of success. This includes time management, managing your inner critic and tangibly working towards your goals with tips and examples throughout. It’s practical with actual written work you can partake in after each chapter. As I worked to adopt new habits, it is a book that is super motivating and will drive you to take action towards what you want right NOW.

‘What would the Spice Girls do?’ is not only entertaining but as a 30 something year old, it resonates deeply. As a young teenager, I was a huge Spice Girls fan and can relate to the influence this girl band had on my peers and I. They not only founded the concept of girl power, they also showed young women that they could be what they want (especially if that related to being a Pop star). Lauren Bravo writes about how the Spice Girls impacted our generation and generations thereafter.

Thirdly, my manager gifted me ‘Who moved my cheese’ which is a best-seller and has sold over 1 million copies. As I mentioned it to a few friends, they were mostly surprised that I hadn’t read it due to its popularity.

It’s a short read which I completed in a day and a half (as a slow reader) and keeps things simple. When navigating through change, we have two choices – either to stay where we are and not adapt or to move forward and accept that we will be forced out of our comfort zones. Spencer uses a straightforward analogy of mice looking for cheese. When the cheese is moved, the mice have two choices – to stay and hope the cheese returns or to move on in the hope of finding more, to potentially even better cheese.

Moving throughout 2020, I’m looking for further recommendations. Feel free to share yours across in the comments field below or by reaching out to me.

Reading Is Believing: Five Books To Change Your Life

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They say that we should always try to read something that if we died in the middle of reading it, we’d look good. That is, it would be a reflection of what we think and who we are.

They say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ however there’s nothing said about not judging a reader by the book.

I’ve never been much of a reader, at least not since my primary school days. The teacher would ask us to read a book per week, do a book report and then move onto the next. I can remember finding this a little annoying as a child and therefore, recognised it as taking the fun out of it so it turned me off reading for pleasure. Apart from the compulsory school assignments, I didn’t do it. Fast forward to 2016 and here I am with a list as long as my arm of books I cling to on my night-stand: reading for pleasure with (thank god) no book reports. Joyously, I often celebrate the fact I’ve got overly-packed book shelves and some instagram posts to reflect upon.

I read nowadays not for entertainment or for the laugh but rather, to better myself, learn from others and develop particular skill-sets.

Narrowing a list down to a mere five is a difficult feat however one that must be done.

*Susan Jeffers: Feel the fear and do it anyway.

After going through a difficult time with my post-teenage mental health, my sister gave me a Susan Jeffers book that would go on to change my thoughts forever. ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ is still the best book in self-help I’ve read. It’s simple, straight to the point and has some inspiring stories including Susan’s battles with illness, divorce and her own self-doubt.

*Paul Arden: Whatever you think, think the opposite.

Having spent years working as the Creative Director at a famous advertising firm in London, Paul narrows down a bunch of short case studies of business success. He also points out the fact that often, making decisions differently to everyone else is inevitable scary however life-altering in every way. It’s short, sweet and will get you moving in all the right directions.

*Louise Hay: You can heal your life.

We are what we think. Therefore, if we become ill, have pains and are not enjoying our lives then it makes sense that this is because of our thoughts, right? This is Louise Hay’s take on life and she goes through her own life experiences that demonstrate this fact while supporting the reader on a journey of self-love, affirmations and living a real life.

*Mitch Albom: Tuesdays with Morrie.

So technically, this is a story. It is truly heart-warming, inspiring and will make you feel all warm (and sad inside). This tale of an ill man telling his past student of what he’s learned along his journey will remind any reader exactly what life’s all about. We’re here for a good time, not a long time and as such, we can make a difference to everyone we come into contact with. A must-read.

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*Sophia Amoruso: GIRLBOSS

It’s one of those you’ll have heard loads about. It’s funny, motivational and will get you moving towards your goals faster than you can hashtag the words #GIRLBOSS. This is one of the only books I’ve ever read in less than three days and the reason is that it’s super compact, straight to point and incredibly addictive.

Any recommendations similar to these? Pop them in the comments field below or comment on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and #jointheconversation.

Wintering In Weirdness, 2020

Moving swiftly through Autumn & into Winter, buzzwords that usually emanate are ‘Hygge’, ‘Hot chocolate’ & talk of New year’s plans after a family Christmas are commonplace. Navigating through 2020 & it’s unlikely that we’ll have the usual shindigs, wearing sparkly tops down to the local night clubs on Christmas eve or certainly, getting together with as many friends as we’d like. We’ll perhaps buy a few extra tins of roses & will ensure the Zoom calls are scheduled to catch up with far flung family. Oh indeed, it will be one to remember.

Navigating through this colder weather, shorter evenings & a seasonal change, our habits will need to change. We’re not likely to spend our winter on the balcony as much as we did during the summer & we’ll likely be seeking out indoor hobbies that we started in July and forgot about. That scarf you started knitting mid quarantine? Yeah, you’re going to need that.

Chatting to my sister last week, her advice of stocking up on the highest dose of vitamin D was a good one. I had this fear of lack of sun & being hit with a bout of sadness due to a deficit in this sunshine. Meanwhile, I stopped into Ikea to stock up on lamps, blankets & candles that like the Snow Patrol song goes, we can ‘light up light up as if we have the choice’ (you get the gist, right?).

Being a winter fan, I’ll have Frank Sinatra on full blast while making a beautiful stew and cuddling my sister’s adopted cat. I’ll keep the smile bright & connect with friends each day.

It’s normal to anticipate that well, we may find this winter a bit trickier than previous ones & so, we can prepare to a point so we know we’re doing all we can to mind ourselves & our beautiful minds.

Mind your diets, always. We are what we eat. I know we know this & know we need to re-highlight this especially in this climate. My ex boyfriend used to laugh as I popped cloves of garlic coated in honey when feeling run down but well, it has been shown to help with colds ( in spite of its gross taste). Filling up on vegetables, stews, herbal teas & comfort foods are as important for our bodies as well as our souls. Start thinking ahead so you stay fed people.

Be cosy in your environment. It’s absolutely fine to make your home more winter-friendly. Have some cosy blankets ready to snuggle into, brighten the place up & ensure you’ve got the heating working to the max. This seems obvious but is necessary. Something as simple as a scented candle can make a cold winter evening feel so lovely.

Know your mind & what your needs & triggers are. Yes it’s true, if your mood is lower, you may feel more easily triggered by what’s happening around you. Do you know yourself & what works for you? Be tuned into the rituals you need to partake in as you move through the winter & how those vary for the remainder of the year. Are you less likely to meditate because you need to sleep more? Are you more likely to make more excuses as you’re fond of hot whiskey?

Exercise, exercise & exercise some more. You know this, I know this & it’s so important for mental & physical well-being. It can be tempting once Summer ends, to stop exercising so much. Don’t fall into this trap. Plan your exercise routine for this winter. Don’t want to run outside? Order some gear you can use inside. Know that you’re likely to feel more stiff & bail from your exercise this winter? Awareness & preparation are key.

Occupy your mind. What do you do with your days? Know what you enjoy & if you’re not sure, go on the search. Whether you’re working or not, have multiple hobbies or are a Netflix fan, there’s something you can focus your mind on. My books are lined up, I’ll be blogging & have a subscription to yoga on a daily basis so I know I’ll be able to occupy my mind. That’s not to say it’s all figured you & don’t expect that either. What I’m saying is that having an idea of what you want to use your time for is a step in the right direction.

There isn’t a one size fits all for any routine in or out of quarantine. What I will say on the subject is that this time will feel tricky at times so giving yourself a head start of getting that figured out is part of the world of self-care.

Share your tips & thoughts in the comments below.