MY JOURNEY WITH HOPE…

Good morning, Blog World!  It has been too long since I wrote about my One Word, which, for this year, is HOPE.  (Today I’m linking up to Bookishly Boisterous, for my Bookish/Not So Bookish Thoughts).

I am still striving for balance (last year’s word), and hoping to achieve some of my goals for this year.  I’m reading from the Books I Buy, in a challenge, and have read and reviewed 23 so far.

My purchases keep adding to my shelves, with 20 books bought in January; 13 in February; and 4 in March…so far.

But…I think I’ve got this!  See, optimism, second cousin to HOPE.

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Let’s take a look at how it’s going in the other parts of my life:

My daughter is celebrating her marriage on April 1, at a nearby beach community (two hours away).  I have some things on my list, and so far, so good.  I found TWO possible dresses, and decided that one of them (the one my daughter likes best) would be for the wedding, and the other would be fun to wear for the reception (the next day).

Yesterday’s task:  Shoes.  I was hopeful, and went to a couple of shops in the nearby mall, and left very disappointed.  Then I recalled a DSW store even closer to me, and while I wasn’t all that hopeful…I was pleasantly surprised.  Not only was there a great selection, but the shop assistant was very helpful.  Something I didn’t find in the upscale stores I had tried first.

I found the shoes!  Now I just have to manage to stay comfortable enough all day.  Hmm.  You know how they seem comfy in the shop, and then, after a few hours of wearing them, your feet are screaming?  I hope that is not the case, or I’ll be walking around barefoot.

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Nails!  I found a nail salon two miles away with great reviews.  I knew I didn’t want to go all the way over to my daughter’s salon, as I’ll be having them done the day before.

Did I forget anything?  Oh, yeah, hair.  Well…my daughter did the color last week…and she could actually style it before the wedding, but I suspect she’ll be a little busy.  I’ve got this!

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Is HOPE guiding me in the rest of my life?  Am I trying to curtail my book buying compulsions…just a little bit, so I can finish the year with great numbers?  I’ve been bookmarking books I want to buy…and sitting on my hands to avoid that “click to buy” compulsion.  Sometimes it works.

 

 

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Currently, I am reading It Happens All the Time, by Amy Hatvany, a NetGalley review book, a provocative and compelling novel about two friends whose lives are changed by a drunken kiss.

 

 

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So, that’s it for today.  How are you doing with your One Word?  Does it follow you around, reminding you of what you vowed to do this year?

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MY NEW ONE WORD: HOPE!

hope-resized

It is time to renew my One Word!  Yes, January begins a whole new year, with more resolutions or vows to make.  Check in with Sheila, at Book Journey, to sign up.

Last year’s One Word was Balance, and while I made a little progress—baby steps!—I have more work to do.

 

 

balance

 

In the meantime, choosing a new One Word will not subtract from those ongoing efforts.

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As you have probably guessed from the image at the top of this post, HOPE is my new ONE WORD.  With so many unexpected changes in our lives, some I am struggling with, I am going to need all the HOPE that I can find.

I thought of the word as I was watching an interview between Oprah and Michelle Obama.  Hope was the theme of the last eight years for the Obama administration…and since some of us will be challenged by the next year’s events, I want to draw upon that hope.

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What are you choosing for your One Word…if you are selecting one?  What is your story?

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FINDING BALANCE…THROUGH THE FOREST…

balance

In order to achieve balance, we must bring together our various pursuits in a measured way.  Our reading, writing, blogging…all are part of who we are, and each must find its expression.

Today I searched one of my pages here which I have entitled “The Forest,” and some of my thoughts about our journey through the forest brought me to this excerpt, below, which includes a portion of my book Embrace the Whirlwind:

Where the Journey Sometimes Takes Us (Written 9/22/15)

 

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Sometimes the writer’s life seems to take us far afield of our creations.

Or maybe we’re distracted by other kinds of creativity, like the interiors of our homes or the blogging world.  Is that part of our journey as writers?  Creating a kind of nest in our exterior world, or finding connections that help us become part of something bigger than ourselves?

A writer’s journey can be a solitary one, and the immediacy of blogging can be very appealing.  After we come out of our cocoons and connect with others, we can return to our interior life with greater enthusiasm.

I’m hoping that will happen, anyway.

All of this seemed to spring from that dark place where I’d found myself with last week’s reading.  To begin this week in a different place, I started with a thriller, and now I’m following the journey of kids who have aged out of the foster care system.  A chronicle of what that journey looks like.

A reminder of my time back in the trenches as a social worker.

I have incorporated some of those memories and experiences into my writing; especially in the five  SIX books now available at my website.

Currently, I’m tweaking a WIP called Interior Designs, a spin-off of my second book, Embrace the Whirlwind.  As I consider the characters I have brought to life in ID, I am reminded of the original book and its themes. (This sixth book is now published and available in paperback and Kindle).

In this excerpt of ET, Denise Richardson ponders her life after her social work career:  a life that includes providing a home for the stray young people she finds around her.  Reminders of some of her own experiences.

Denise Richardson gazed around at the messy sitting room.  Articles of clothing were draped across every available surface while dirty plates, bowls and glasses rimmed the coffee table and side tables, vividly announcing the recent flurry of activity.  And while untidy rooms were not something new and unusual, today’s detritus suggested even more happy chaos than usual.   

In the midst of these poignant reminders of a life brimming with activity, Denise reluctantly gave in to the feeling of well being that threatened to overcome her.  And following the acknowledgement of the positive feelings came the recognition that she was afraid of feeling this good!  All of her life she had gradually come to an uneasy peace with the familiar feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear.  Even guilt.  But contentment…Now that was a feeling so rare in her life that she felt suspicious when it hovered nearby.  Feelings like contentment and well being could so easily escape without warning; their presence among the familiar negative emotions only enhanced the ever-present anxiety.  

Denise laughed out loud.  Afraid to be happy, so she sabotaged herself with the familiar fears and worries.  There was no shortage of triggers for those emotions.  All she had to do was look inside to find something to elicit all the doubts and anxieties.

Wasn’t it about time to finally set aside all that old baggage?  Maybe she should make an appointment with Leslie Noble, too!  The woman came every week to see Savannah and lately, she’d been scheduling appointments with Amber.

She glanced toward the ceiling where Amber and Ariel were sleeping in their old beds.  They’d been coming every weekend for about six weeks and sometimes Amber and Ariel even spent the weekend at Hilary’s.   

They had talked last night.  Amber was struggling with the decisions she had to make.  Trying to think things through and consider the consequences…That was hard work for her.  But she was learning that her impulsive choices created trouble and disaster; she had made a decision to try and change her tendency to act first and wallow in misery afterwards.

Denise was familiar with impulsiveness disguised and renamed spontaneity.  Living with the wreckage of her own whirlwind adventures had ultimately led to some positive growth, but the price had been high.  But then maybe nothing worthwhile came without a price of one kind or another.  She guessed that the trick was to minimize the costs while absorbing the precious gems at the core of each life lesson.

***

 

CHERISHING MY INTERIOR WORLD: BALANCE?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Welcome to a Tuesday morning in my Interior World.  The coffee mug above is, like many of my mugs, filled with memories of places and people.

That one I found in Big Bear City, CA, when my second son had a cabin there, and invited the lot of us up there for a few days.  I loved it!  Here are a couple of shots of that cabin in a collage:  you can see my two granddaughters on the right.  They were seven, then!  Now they are nineteen.  How did that happen?

 

 

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It was 2004, and I was still working, so my time away felt like a real vacation.  While others were skiing or snowboarding, I was poking around in the little shops.  That’s where I found the mug, which I don’t usually grab when I want a cup of coffee.  I don’t want it to break while being used.  It does come out for “photo ops,” though.  It usually sits here, first shelf, far right:

 

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I love my little “jelly cupboard,” shown above.  It is small, but can contain all kinds of special mementos, and a few favorite books.  I think I have talked myself out of moving, because every affordable place I’ve seen does not have room for my goodies.  And yes, as my daughter says, I don’t need all this “stuff.”  But maybe I do.

Who’s to say?

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Meanwhile, business as usual here, with the “clicking to buy” books that appeal to me.  Am I staying “balanced?”  Maybe not.  Here’s what the second half of the year looks like so far, in terms of purchases.  Those I have read are linked to their reviews:

 

JUNE 2016:

1.   Confess, by Colleen Hoover

2.  Death at Breakfast (e-book), by Beth Gutcheon

3.  Deep Dark (e-book), by Laura Griffin

4.  Dinner, The (e-book), by Herman Koch

5.  Drinking Closer to Home (e-book), by Jessica Anya Blau

6.   Exit, The (e-book), Helen FitzGerald

7.   Here’s To Us (e-book), by Elin Hilderbrand

8.   Mystic Summer (e-book), by Hannah McKinnon

9.   One True Loves (e-book), by Taylor Jenkins Reid

10.  Sunshine Beach (e-book), by Wendy Wax

11. Sweetbitter (e-book), by Stephanie Danler

12. Vinegar Girl (e-book), by Anne Tyler

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JULY 2016:

1. Coincidence of Coconut Cake, The (e-book), by Amy E. Riechert

2.  Girl You Lost, The (e-book), by Kathryn Croft

3. In Twenty Years (e-book), by Allison Winn Scotch

4. I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline, et. al.

5.  Melody Lingers On, The (e-book), by Mary Higgins Clark

6.  They May Not Mean To, But They Do (e-book), by Cathleen Schine

7.  This Must Be the Place (e-book), by Maggie O’Farrell

8.  Truly Madly Guilty (e-book), by Liane Moriarty

9.   Truth-Teller’s Lie, The (e-book), by Sophie Hannah

10. Valley of the Dolls, by Jacqueline Susann (50th Anniversary Copy – reread)

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AUGUST 2016:

1.All the Ugly & Wonderful Things (e-book), by Bryn Greenwood

2.American Girl, The (e-book), by Kate Horsley

3.  American Heiress, by Jeffrey Toobin

4.  Behind Closed Doors (e-book), by B. A. Paris

5. Book that Matters Most, The (e-book), by Ann Hood

6.  Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, by Anne Tyler (reread)

7. Family Tree (e-book), by Susan Wiggs

8.  Firefly Summer (e-book), by Nan Rossiter

9.  I Am No One (e-book), by Patrick Flanery

10. If I Forget You (e-book), by Thomas Christopher Greene

11. I Found You, by Lisa Jewell

12. It Ends with Us (e-book), by Colleen Hoover

13.  Map of the World, A (e-book), by Jane Hamilton (reread)

14. My Life, My Body, by Marge Piercy

15. Results May Vary (e-book), by Bethany Chase

16. Rosemary:  The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, by Kate Clifford Larson

17.  Silver Linings Playbook (e-book), by Matthew Quick

18. Siracusa (e-book), by Delia Ephron

19. Sister, The (e-book), by Louise Jensen

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SEPTEMBER 2016:

1.Come and Find Me (e-book), by Hallie Ephron

2. Finding Libbie (e-book), by Deanna Lynn Sletten

3. Kept Woman, The (e-book), by Karin Slaughter

4. Last Good Girl, The (e-book), by Allison Leotta

5.Life She Wants, The (e-book), by Robyn Carr

6. London Train, The (e-book), by Tessa Hadley

7. Some Tame Gazelle (e-book), by Barbara Pym

8. Sting (e-book), by Sandra Brown

9. Watching Edie (e-book), by Camilla Way

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OCTOBER 2016:

1. Commonwealth (e-book), by Ann Patchett

2. Love Letters, by Debbie Macomber

3. Mothers, The (e-book), by Brit Bennett

4. Red Car, The (e-book), by Marcy Dermansky

5. Saturday Requiem, by Nicci French

6. Stealing Jason Wilde (e-book), by Dee Ernst

***

As you can see, I have a lot to read still.  Even though I’ve finished 68 books in my Read the Books You Buy Challenge, some of which come from the second half of 2015, there are many left.  Since they are mostly on Pippa, my Kindle, they are not staring me in the face, like these stacks of print books. (I’ve actually read the top one on the stack below):

 

sept-22-breakfast

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Today I clicked to buy two more e-books, which you’ll notice on the October list:

 

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett:

 

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And then there is The Red Car, by Marcy Dermansky:

 

 

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I read reviews of both books in one of the magazines I regularly read.  O or People, I’m not sure which.  lol.

So…what’s the verdict?  Am I hopelessly out of balance by still collecting and cherishing my books and my quirky objects?  Should I stop?  What do you think?

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balance

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MY INTERIOR WORLD: CHECKING MY BALANCE

curl up in cozy office - july 12***

Welcome to my Interior World.  Here’s a peek at my Cozy Corner in my office/guest room.  You can see the desk/laptop area, the new office chair…and my bookcase with Coffee Cup, Liberty the Book Mascot, and a portion of the cozy chair.

Underneath the desk and the chair, there is a plastic carpet cover that has seen better days.  Yesterday, I moved everything out of the nook and pulled the cover outwards so more of it will be under the chair…and not the desk. (This photo was taken before I had done that).

I need to get a new one.  Now that I know I can do the change-up myself…I  have added it to my shopping list.

To move the desk, I removed all the stuff from the top, in the cubbies, and the drawers themselves. 

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Now let’s talk about balance…again.  It has probably been a few weeks since I’ve done any serious furniture rearranging…or am I in denial?

I haven’t done any book purges since last year.

The last time Fiona was here, when she assembled my office chair and my dining bench…she helped me reorganize the garage shelves.  She can hoist some of those big bins to the top shelves.  Here is what we’ve done so far…I still need to haul away some of this stuff, but at least the shelves look organized…sort of.

 

garage organization - 1

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garage organization 3

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What’s next?  Oh, back to more reading and blogging.  And later today, I have to run some errands, check the mailbox (I found out that my state tax refund is actually coming as a paper check instead of a direct deposit.  Annoying, right?).

Maybe I’ll reward myself with one of these….

 

july 5 martini

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Pippa will accompany me.  I’m reading Paris Runaway, by Paulita Kincer, and I’m loving this mother who is chasing her teenage daughter through the streets of Paris…and enjoying how she shares what she sees and thinks along the way.

 

 

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My week in books has been all over the place.  I started with one book…and then remembered that All Is Not Forgotten, a NetGalley review, was being released on Tuesday…so I switched to that one.

 

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I finished both of those books by yesterday.  Dear Carolina was the one I’d been reading.

Click titles for reviews.

 

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What does your interior world look like this week?

 

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MY INTERIOR WORLD: STRIVING FOR BALANCE

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Good morning!  Enter my Interior World, and let’s take a look at the week so far.

Last night, I set up my dinner at my new/old little table in the entry/dining room.  I even pulled out some place mats and cloth napkins with a cute holder.  How seldom do I use these things!

I can see the TV really well from this table…although the sofa is probably cozier.  But part of my balance this year is all about changing things up, including having a civilized meal at home, and not just in a restaurant or on the sofa.

 

 

 

balance

 

 

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I’ve been reading, watching shows on my DVR…and Revenge on Netflix.  I finally finished all four seasons….but it was getting late, I wanted to curl up in bed, so I took my laptop into my bedroom to finish up.

 

 

may 7 - enjoying the show

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I watched until midnight, and didn’t get much read at all yesterday, between TV shows and Netflix.  Maybe I will hold off on the Netflix until the weekend, when I’ll want to start watching Orange Is the New Black.

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You would think I’d sleep late, but the opposite happened, of course.  I was wide awake at 6:00 a.m., I wrote my Hump Day Reading post...and I’ve been editing photos at PicMonkey.  And visiting blogs.

 

 

June 6 office nook

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I think I might have to curl up and take a nap later….here:

 

 

June 15 - living room changes

 

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What has your week looked like?  Are you staying in balance?  Reading?  Or pursuing one of your obsessions?

 

 

June 5 Madeine Hatter & Coffee Cup

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BALANCING THE TBR STACKS: ANOTHER LOOK…

keeping track - tbr mountain

 

Lately, you’ve seen several posts about my interior world, specifically how I am shuffling things around.  But what about my Tracking of my TBR Mountains?  What is happening there?

I did a little counting game today, checking out the numbers.  We do know that I’ve read 36 books from my purchased stacks for the period from June 2015-2016, for my Read the Books You Buy Challenge.

But how have these numbers impacted my stacks of purchased books, overall?

Let’s take a look:

Books Purchased in 2015:

95

Books Classified as DNF for 2015:

6

Books Still Unread for 2015:

15

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So…not bad.

Books Purchased in 2016:

54 (so far)

Books Unread in 2016:

31 (so far)

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Unfortunately, I keep pushing that little “click to buy” button whenever a book I want appears.  I am trying to request many of my longed-for books as review books, and I have accomplished that, to a certain extent.

 

HERE ARE BOOKS I RECEIVED FOR REVIEW, SO FAR, IN 2016; ALL OF THEM WERE BOOKS I WOULD HAVE PURCHASED.  THE LINKED BOOKS HAVE ALREADY BEEN READ & REVIEWED:

 

JANUARY 2016:

1.   After She’s Gone, by Lisa Jackson (Vine)

2.  Don’t You Cry (e-book), by Mary Kubica (NetGalley – 5/17)

3.   Girls in the Garden, The (e-book), by Lisa Jewell (NetGalley – 6/7)

4.  Good Liar, The, by Nicholas Searle (Amazon Vine)

5.  Miller’s Valley (e-book), by Anna Quindlen (NetGalley – 4/5)

6.  Multiple Listings (e-book), by Tracy McMillan (NetGalley – 3/8)

7.   No One Knows (e-book), by J. T. Ellison (NetGalley – 3/22)

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FEBRUARY 2016:

1.  A Girl’s Guide to Moving On, by Debbie Macomber – (Amazon Vine)

2.   Girls, The (e-book), by Emma Cline – (NetGalley – 6/14)

3.  Where I Lost Her (e-book), by T. Greenwood – (NetGalley – 2/23)

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MARCH 2016:

1.  Children, The (e-book), by Ann Leary – (NetGalley – 5/24)

2.   Most Wanted (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline – (NetGalley – 4/12)

3.   Perfect Neighbors, The (e-book),  by Sarah Pekkanen (NetGalley – 7/5)

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APRIL 2016:

1.  Cruel Beautiful World (e-book), by Caroline Leavitt (NetGalley – 10/4)

2.  June, by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore (Amazon Vine)

3.   Mother Knows Best,  by Karen MacInerney – (Amazon Vine)

4.   Three-Martini Lunch, by Suzanne Rindell –(Amazon Vine)

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MAY 2016:

1.   All the Missing Girls (e-book), by Megan Miranda – (NetGalley – 6/28/16)

2.  I Almost Forgot About You, by Terry McMillan – (Amazon Vine)

3.  Ink & Bone (e-book), by Lisa Unger (NetGalley – 6/7)

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JUNE 2016:

1.  All Is Not Forgotten (e-book), by Wendy Walker – (NetGalley – 7/12)

1.  Beach Blues, by Joanne DeMaio (Author Request)

2.  Tuesday Nights in 1980, by Molly Prentiss (Amazon Vine)

 

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Balancing the reading of my review books against those purchased is a challenge, but when I remember that these review books would otherwise have been on my “purchased” lists, I feel better.

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Do you play games with yourself, adding up your purchases and examining what you’ve accomplished?  I know that there would be NO BALANCE in my life if I didn’t keep an eye out.

Which doesn’t mean that I won’t keep “clicking to buy”!

 

 

compulsive book buying

 

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INTERIOR THOUGHTS: A PRECARIOUS BALANCE…

5-Secrets-of-Balance

It is time to assess my progress towards BALANCE!

One aspect of balancing my interior world is all about the books I buy, as well as those I manage to read.

Let’s look at my Compulsive Book Buying Disorder:

 

compulsive-book-buying

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Here’s what happened so far this year:

Books Purchased in January 2016:  SEVEN!  (Not bad)

How about February?  – SIX!

March:  Uh-oh….TWELVE!

April:  TEN…So far.

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Now let’s check my progress on the Read the Books You Buy Challenge:

Twenty-eight books read so far in 2016.  These are books that were purchased between June 2015 to the Present.

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Now…this is all great, but what does it have to do with balance?   Let’s look at books that I’ve read from my Old TBRs…before June 2015.

Those numbers were harder to access, but I found them by going back through my written logs from the beginning of the year, and here they are:

TWENTY-TWO books read that were purchased before June 2015.  So…a little progress.

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Balancing books read, books purchased, etc., is all good.  But I still have a ways to go to balance out the rest of my life.

My A Day in the Life post showed a somewhat balanced day.  I’m thinking I should do a similar post once a month.  What do you think?

Do you easily balance your days, your weeks, and your months?  How do you do it?

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balance

 

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MY INTERIOR WORLD: BALANCE – ASSESSMENT

balance

At the beginning of the year, I chose BALANCE as my One Word.  My goals for the year included finding a balance in my life…and in my reading.

Let’s assess!

Trying to cut down (just a bit) on requesting review books:

I received SEVEN review books in January, but only THREE in February.  None in March so far.

Good, right?

As for purchases:

SEVEN in January

SIX in February

THREE (so far) in March

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Okay, not stellar, but here’s another fact:  I am participating in the Reading the Books You Buy Challenge, and so far, I have read and reviewed NINETEEN books (Purchased between June 2015 and Present).  Not bad, right?

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Now, here’s the tough part.  What about the rest of my life?  Walking, leaving the house, socializing…

Well, let’s put it this way.  When I shop, I park a long way from the stores and walk that distance, and then walk all around the shops.  LOL

I do get out of the house more, mostly alone, to have lunch or dinner and read.  Usually with a cocktail.

 

lunch and reading - 128

My regular get-togethers with friends and former colleagues are the highlight of my months.

But I also enjoy eating and reading alone in a restaurant.  I read…and people watch.  Old habits die hard (former social worker!).

Progress, not perfection.

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I have my annual physical today, and I know that she is going to scold me for something or other.  Usually it’s that I don’t get enough exercise.  Duh.

But so far, nothing too horrible has come of these events…so let’s see what happens today.

How are you doing on your One Word…if you have chosen one?

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5-Secrets-of-Balance

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PROGRESS RATHER THAN PERFECTION: BALANCE

balance

Earlier in the year, I chose my WORD:  BALANCE. 

How am I doing so far?  Well, I get up every day and go through my routines.  Nothing much has changed there, but I do try to get out and about more often.

Staying holed up inside was one of the ANTI-BALANCE things I did…

Reading and blogging are my two favorite things, but I can do them elsewhere…right?  The other day I took my book to The Elephant Bar, where I had lunch and continued reading A Man Called Ove.  Okay, maybe I should have made more of an effort to socialize.  But that will come.

 

 

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I am trying to pick a more eclectic group of books this year, and I am steadily working on my Reading the Books I Buy Challenge.

So far I have read and reviewed NINE books from those stacks.  Last year, I definitely didn’t do that well in the first month.  I don’t have those numbers at my fingertips, but judging from how many 2014 and 2015 unread books I had, I can safely say…NO.

Does this mean I am achieving some kind of balance?  Maybe not, but it’s all about PROGRESS RATHER THAN PERFECTION.

I need to start walking more…and socializing more, and I don’t mean online, although that is my favorite kind.  I am an introvert, although I have my social moments.

Do you ever take those silly FB tests?  Here’s mine today, and it doesn’t prove anything at all…but I like the sound of it…LOL

 

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Could I really be more well-balanced than I thought?  LOL

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Despite the so-called “evidence” above, I know that I have a way to go in this journey.  Have you chosen a word?  What does your progress look like?

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