[From “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown]
As I reflect on the past year, I decided to make an entire post about the books I read this past year and how they impacted my year. [this post may contain affiliate links]
I read 35 books this year. That’s almost a book every week and a half.
My One Word for this year was FOCUS. One area of my life I wanted to FOCUS on was learning more as well as taking more time for me. I’ve learned that self care is crucial when you are a homeschool mama and still adjusting to life with a new addition. I also had a 17 week long medical treatment this year. I had a lot of idle time that I spent catching up on my reading. I was surrounded by many others in the room, so at times it made it a tad awkward that I was laughing out loud to Jen Hatmaker’s “For the Love” and tearing up at Emily Freeman’s “A Million Little Ways”. I was encouraged to start blogging and writing again on a regular basis. “Pay attention to what makes you cry” ~ Emily Freeman. Lesson learned, Emily.
Looking at my list, most of them are self help, parenting, and health care related. This is the season of life I am in right now. Caring for myself and caring for my family is high on my list. I was reminded that not only setting up boundaries (which I have done for years), but also enforcing them is absolutely crucial for my mental health. There were some great books that helped me identify the nuances in some relationships that had been crossing some boundaries. In turn, I cannot change the mental health of others. Letting go of that and allowing the consequences of their actions unfold is freeing. I am no longer bound. I read four parenting books that are also adoption related. Helping our family meld into a cohesive unit was also one of my goals this year. These books helped us understand the trauma, behaviors, and emotions wrapped up in our little one. We worked hard this year to become allies on the same team. Some of the other five health related books were insightful as I faced a new health challenge this year. Changing my diet yet again at the end of the year has presented a new opportunity to learn about my body and how it processes certain foods.
There was an eclectic mix of other topics. A few of the books are money related. FOCUSing on the health of our finances was also a priority for me this year. Several were just for fun; mindless reading that helped me escape from the stresses of this life. The Divergent series and Nicholas Sparks’s book, “The Best of Me”, were some of my favorites. There were a couple biographical books as well. “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand nearly broke me. The strength and determination to survive inspired me and humbled me at the same time. Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book “Between the World and Me” was an insightful read that opened the world through my son’s eyes – a world he will someday face just because of the color of his skin. It infuriates me that this is the world we live in and I will continue to learn so I can better advocate for my son.
Then, there are books that were given to me as gifts. For my birthday, I received “Gift From the Sea” by Anne Lindbergh and “Girl Meets Change” by Kristen Strong. I was lucky enough to read “Gift From the Sea” by the beach on a trip that was designed for rest. It was a perfect read at the perfect time. I read “Girl Meets Change” at the perfect time as well, right when I was jumping back into blogging and writing and doing scary things, like change. I don’t like change and this was an encouraging book that challenged me to fight through my comfort zone and break free of the things holding me back.
Several books I read this year were about simplified living. Another aspect that our family has FOCUSed on this year has been to continue to simplify. It’s a layered process that has taken me years to embrace and implement. We started years ago when I purged an enormous amount of STUFF when we moved. We put most of our things in storage as we moved into my parent’s basement for a year. In that year, I realized that I enjoyed living in a much smaller space and the idea of unpacking our storage containers when we moved, stressed me out. We moved into a much smaller home, but after living here for four years, I can say with certainty, that it is still way too big for us. I waited several months this year to get the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo from the library. After much anticipation, I devoured the book in one sitting. I’ve read so much on organizing, purging, simplifying, and cleaning over the years that at one point, I considered starting a home organizing business. I enjoyed organizing THAT much. However, my perspective on life has morphed over the years and after reading this book, it was like I was reading that one missing piece of living a simplified life. I no longer have the desire to physically organize other people’s things. I would just end up purging it all.
All in all, this has been a good year for books. Next year’s list is starting to shape up. I’m excited to dive into more challenging books along with some favorites and classics. So far, I have 12 books on the list. What are some of your favorites that you would recommend?