Becoming, by Michelle Obama

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I had been resisting reading Becoming, by Michelle Obama since there was so much hype around this book. Then when a client said it was amazing, I downloaded Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations with Michelle Obama, I was HAD to read it. Sidenote: If you want to be inspired, go listen to it. It’s just everything.

Michelle Obama has been proven to be one of the most inspiring and iconic women of this era. A lawyer, the first African-American First Lady of the United States of America, a wife, and a mother, she really has no limits that she won’t try to rise to. This memoir is a story of becoming herself. She invites readers into her childhood, on balancing motherhood and work life, and lastly on her experience in the White House. She is incredibly honest in her memoir, and also reminds you to reflect on your becoming, and how you got here.

To say I was going into this book skeptically is an understatement. I always head into a memoir like this, thinking that is going to be a version of the author’s self that they best want to represent. But friends, I will tell you that this book was not that. The more I read it, and the more I thought about it upon closing it, the more I keep thinking about it.

For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.

This memoir is such a great insight to how Michelle, and her family in the past have had to overcome hardships and stigma to rise to the top. Michelle is an absolute powerhouse. From a young age she was a perfectionist. She could read before she entered school, and had extremely high expectations of herself. There are so many pieces of the book that will stay with me forever. There was one moment in particular that gave me goosebumps, and that was when she talked about the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. She describes how deeply it affected her and Barack, and that they would never truly know how the families lives of the victims would forever be changed. We all know that feeling of knowing exactly where we were when terrible things happen. But having to face these families, knowing that nothing can make them whole again is a whole other hardship.

Becoming is just the most perfect title of this. Michelle says in the preface that she hates that age old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, as if growing up is finite and once you get there you are done becoming. Well, when you reach adulthood you realize this. And Michelle has totally captured the essence of growing as an individual, as a partner, a mother, and also a role model. This is an important book to read, and I think so wonderful for a young person who is finishing high school, or if you are curious about her life, or someone who continues to become yourself.

Anywho, that’s all for today. Have you read this one? I have so many thoughts about it that my head is about to explode, and would love to chat. Drop me a message in the comments so we can chat 🙂

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November: Take a Minute to be Mindful

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It’s November, and you know what that means… another Happiness Project update. October was an eventful month for me. It was the peak of a couple goals, I ran my marathon, I had lots of coffee/lunch dates, and also some big work goals. So let’s just say that October left me feeling accomplished, but also ready for a good long sleep.

November, well needed, is based on mindfulness. I think this is a quite a hot topic these days, and meaning different things for different people. I am always so focused on the next thing, that I often forget to enjoy the thing I just worked so hard for. Whether mindfulness for you is meditation, or taking time to care for yourself, I think finding the ways that work well for you is what’s most effective. Here’s the little goals I’ve been working into my November so far:

  1. My Gratitude Journal. This guided journal gets you to fill it out first thing in the morning starting with what you are grateful for, what would make today great, and an affirmation. Later at the end of the day, you reflect on  how it went. I love this little journal. I have always had a romantic view of writing in a journal daily… Then flash forward to an empty journal!! So buying a guided one was the key for me.
  2. Using my Meditation App, Insight Timer. The most effective time for me to use them is right before I go to sleep. So I’m going to make an effort to do this more, because I slept so great when I do.
  3. Back to the breath. This always puts me right back into the moment, and reminds me to pay attention to how I feel physically and mentally.
  4. Listen to what my body needs. I love to run, but here’s my promise this month… If my body is sore, stretch. If my body has a lot of energy, move. If I feel tired, lay down. The key here is not forcing something on my body, just listening to what it truly needs.

Anywho, that’s all for this month.

September: Continue to Learn

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Whoopsy… I dropped the ball on posting for my September Happiness Project. But here’s the thing I’ve realized, at this point in my project… I am tired! Summer has been busy for all of us, so in hopes of an organized September I had thought of all these different things months ago that I could accomplish for September.

Well… here’s the truth, I decided this month is truly just reflection. I had hoped to sign up for a course, or some lectures, and what I know right now what I need is a slow down. It’s time to journal, listen to some reflective podcasts, and truly just be.

This week I listened to an eye opening episode of Goop podcast, which was an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah. At one point Gwyneth asked Oprah whether she was happy, and I’m paraphrasing, but what Oprah answered back was with that being happy isn’t a word she uses for herself. It’s temporary, but being present is a thing. It’s about not holding onto a something too tightly with your expectations. It’s about being you, and taking comparison out of your life and living YOUR best self. This episode was one big AHA moment for me, and exactly what I needed right now.

SO last but not least, what I’ve learned and continue to learn about myself is that it’s not always about being perfect. It’s about being balanced, and whole.

That’s all for today, and I will check back in with you in October 🙂

A Tribe Called Bliss, by Lori Harder

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I stumbled upon Lori Harder when a client had recommended her podcast called Earn your Happy. So, after some intense binge-listening, I heard she released a book based on how she reached her highest potential. I ran out to the only bookstore that had it and bought the last one… and happy danced upon holding it in my hands!!

A Tribe Called Bliss is based on Lori’s journey through dealing with anxiety, loneliness, and disconnection. She describes in detail on how she shed those unfulfilling friendships, and discovered her untapped potential. This book is truly a manual on how to create deeper connections with people, instead of burying deeper inside yourself. It’s also a manual on how to use specific tools that will help you become a better and more whole being.

At this point in my life, I feel like female friendships are interesting. I have some friends I’ve had for a super long time, and those relationships are the ones that feel authentic and always pick up where they leave off. It’s cool if we haven’t talked in a bit, and we always check in on each other, and reach out to each other. BUT, meeting new friends at this stage is such a hard ship to navigate. With a young family, time is limited… and sometimes you may click with someone who could potentially become a really good friend, but the time is so limited that there isn’t much time for it to flourish. Or sometimes these new friendships start off great, and then you start to realize that maybe you didn’t have as much in common as you thought you may have. Either way… it’s a weird thing to struggle with at this stage in my life… but in talking to other women after reading this book, there are a lot of people who feel the same way.

What I loved about this book was it made you really look inside of yourself, and figure out what exactly holds you back from connecting with other people, and most of all, yourself. I’m not really on the level to air all my dirty laundry on here, but I will say that there was one line that made me realize what does hold me back. Upon reading this line, I cried, and cried, and then I journaled.  Another thing resonated with me is that Lori talked about how often we cut people down because of our own insecurities. She talks about how malicious gossip is so hurtful, and there is a difference between that type of gossip, and the processing and venting that can be helpful. Lori shares quotes all through this book, and here’s one that made me go AHA, about gossip;

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt.

One last thing I will share with you that I took away from this book is that Lori Harder must be a huge bookworm, because she even references Anne Shirley. She talks about how she always believed there would be one friend who would be her “bosom buddy”, and that this belief had proven to be untrue. So, as you may guess, anyone who is an Anne fan already feels like a kindred spirit to me.

Anywho, that’s all on this one friends. I’ve been really trying to sprinkle in some more non-fiction, self-help, memoir genre books to give my reading life a little more variety. I hope you’ve enjoyed these reviews as much as I’ve enjoyed reading these books.

Up next, a fiction title that a client has lent me called The Rent Collector. I’m thoroughly enjoying this one, and it also has referenced some great books in it… that’s a win/win, friends!

July Wrap-up, August… you’re up!

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July Wrap-up

Okay, humble brag moment… I rocked July. It was a pretty good month for my small goals. Here’s a quick re-cap on the goals; go to farmer’s markets, start journalling, and get to the cottage. All of these were really attainable, and provided so much mental relief.

For journalling, over the years I have had these romantic ideas about buying the perfect journal and writing daily pages. Flash forward, and I now have easily 10 beautiful journals just in my night table with a few pages written over the years in each! Then, I had a client tell me all about how they bullet journal. What they told me was it’s basically like a life planner, journal, list taker, all in one. It’s brilliant… and I’ve been able to keep up with it, and really love the outlet. Check out an example of a bullet journal here. Keep in mind, my bullet journal is incredibly boring. I have a black pen, and my book… that’s it!

August: Pursue a Passion

Ahhhh August. Everyone that knows me in real life, knows that August is actually Hollie-palooza month. It is the month of my birth, and I feel like when August comes around, it’s truly my time to shine. Yes, I’m that person that just LOVES their birthday!!! You also probably know that I have a couple passions… so here’s how I’m going to pursue them:

  • Sign up for a marathon. Ugh, yes. Also confession here, I did this on August 1st… But the thing here that I want to accomplish is just running, not training over the top, just enjoying the process.
  • Write a little more. I have several writing ideas I’d like to pursue, and whether it’s just brainstorming on them, or actually finding a course that would help me… TBA!

That’s it friends, I’m keeping it simple. That is the point of the Happiness Project, working on simple things that make big differences in my life.

Lastly, I’d really like to share with a fun thing that happened to me lately. I was nominated for the Inspire Project in Peterborough. This was such an honour, and am so grateful for this nomination. Take a minute and check out the amazing women that our town of Peterborough has!

 

the Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn

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Okay, this one wasn’t my favourite… It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book I haven’t liked. And that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this one, it actually brought up a lot questions and situations that made me squirm! It was kind of like a train wreck.

Here’s the premise: Lucy and Owen have been married long enough to have lived in New York City and moved to the suburbs, have an 8 year old autistic son, decide to get 19 chickens, and be involved in their communities. Long enough to fall into a comfortable place within their marriage. Then after a very drunken night with some friends, they discuss the rules that they would place within their relationship if they planned on having an open marriage. After a long day, and a lot of thinking about how she has lost herself, Lucy decides to propose to Owen that they should do this as a trial for 6 months. Owen agrees… and I bet you can guess where this story is going to.

This book had a great potential to have some really deep, dark feelings get examined, but I feel like it fell short. It lacked a depth that I was craving within this story of relationship. Albeit the story was super juicy, and that kept wanting to read right till the bitter end. For anyone looking for a fast, beach read… go pick this one up! It fits the bill completely.

Until next time, happy reading!!!

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

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Wuthering Heights is hailed as one of the greatest pieces of English Literature. It is also Emily Brontë’s first and last novel, as she died one year after it was published. I decided to FINALLY pick up this book as I’m trying to knock off some of the great classics off my TBR list. Two things you need to know: this classic is extremely readable, and it’s a ghosty-moody love story.

He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

I may have mentioned once or twice about my deep love for Jane Eyre! Check out my review if you haven’t heard my ravings. But where my love originated for this novel is learning more about the Brontë family. They had a tumultuous upbringing, and family life, yet all three of the sisters wrote famous works of literature.

I’m not going to lie to you… this book is moody, up and down, and passionate! The landscape of the lonely Yorkshire moors is clearly painted, and matches the mood of the novel. Wuthering Heights is the story of an intense love between Catherine Earnshaw, and Heathcliff. When Heathcliff disappears for several years, Catherine marries someone else. Upon his return the violent love story continues, in which Heathcliff is forever seeking revenge and redemption.

I gave him my heart, and he took and pinched it to death; and flung it back to me. People feel with their hearts, Ellen, and since he has destroyed mine, I have not power to feel for him.

I enjoyed this novel, but what I will tell you is that it took me a little longer to read. I think that this is because so much happens just in one paragraph, so reading fast just didn’t work for me. The prose was just so beautiful, that if you missed one word you were missing something that could be so important. I am so glad that I decided to read this one, and love the idea of reading something that so many other writers have found inspiration in. I could go on and on about the deep complexities of Wuthering Heights… but I’m just going to hope you will go out and read it now.

That’s all for this one. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it if you have read it! Until next time, happy reading!