Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall

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The best runner leaves no tracks. Tao Te Ching

Born to Run is a book that SOOOOO many people over the years have asked me if I’ve read it. I’ve been running for what seems like forever. It feels like its always been a part of my life. It’s the thing that energizes me when my batteries feel low, it’s the thing that calms me down when I feel crazy, and it’s a place of joy for me. So when I needed some mojo the week before my marathon, I finally decided to read it.

If you are starting to read this review, and thinking, “Meh, running book?!?! I’m out.” DON’T LEAVE!!! This book is definitely not meant only for people who run. It’s a great story, and has some really interesting facts sprinkled throughout it.

Christopher McDougall is a runner, and a journalist. He loves his daily runs, but his body doesn’t. When he is plagued with running injuries he travels to the Copper Canyons in Mexico to discover the running secrets of the Tarahumara Indians. He is perplexed by the differences in their footwear, diet, and habits, and their ability to run for many hours in their deadly terrain. McDougall discusses all these differences, along with a fantastic story about a great race in the Copper Canyons. It includes the running phenomenon Scott Jurek, and many other eclectic runners.

This story was amazing. I felt like it paced like a marathon. A medium pace while slowly picking up to a fast sprint by the end of it. Ultra running is a unique sector of the running world. I love to go to these trail runs in which there are tons of ultra distances… myself, always doing the distance below the ultra. But, this book makes me want to run an ultra. I felt like the true spirit of running was completely captured through the people in this book. Jenn Shelton was my fav.

Jenn isn’t battling a rival to the bitter end, or striding across a mountaintop with the steel-jawed majesty of a Nike model, or gasping toward glory with a grimace of heartbreaking determination. All she’s doing is…running. Running, and smiling.

This past weekend I participated in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with my forever running buddy, Krystal. This was a goal that was in for My Happiness Project. I used to race a lot, then when I had kids, I just enjoyed when I could get out for a run. But this year I decided I would start doing the things that I used to love to do, and discover new things as well.

This race was determined for it to be different. To not be obsessed with time, paces, and proper fueling.  The gradual letting go of controlling the run, coincided with less injuries, more joy, and a surprisingly not much different on race day. In short… when I decided to stop controlling the run, it stopped making me it’s bitch!

So that’s what I did friends. I let go of the idea that I needed to run this marathon so fast that it felt painful… and ya know what?!?! I literally had people who were cheering compliment me on my smile. I was so damn happy this race, and it didn’t hurt. Lesson learned… let go, and let what happens be.

Next up… maybe an ultra?!?!

 

 

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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!

 

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!

 

February: Time for Love

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February marks month 2 of My Happiness Project, and the focus this month is “Time for Love”. When I initially mapped out this project “Time for Love” meant working my relationship with my hubby… well, the plan has shifted a bit to include myself in this plan too.

My husband and I have had a stressful first month of the year, with some personal things popping up, as well as him going back to school while working full-time…  let’s just say that we have had to work as a team more than ever. And I think we have been an amazing team, and am really happy with how we have been coping with these stressors… but as much as it’s fun working as a team to get through the day, I don’t want us to forget about being a couple. So below I’ve listed a couple of goals to work on:

  • Go on a date. This sounds easy. I know couples who do monthly, or even weekly date nights… we are not this couple. Although we really enjoy date nights when we do them, it’s just hard to get a babysitter, line it up with out schedules, and get out the door. So this month, we are going on a date! Stay tuned for the update 🙂
  • Timing. You know that feeling when you have something important to talk about with your significant other, and you just want to get it over with… It’s the end of a long day for both of you, and you decide to just get the conversation over with. This is something I do all the time… but this month I’m going to work on picking the right time to have these important discussions, or decisions. Because just picking the right timing for an important chat can completely change the way it goes.
  • Saying Thank You. It’s really easy for me to take for granted the fact that my hubby just does all the things he does. I appreciate it all, from plowing snow, to bathing the kids, to bedtime stories… so I am going to make a better effort at telling him how thankful I am and how much I appreciate the things he does.
  • Self-love. Like I said earlier, it’s been a bit of stressful month. And I think like any parent, I have a hard time taking time for just me. But this month I’m going to force myself to get more comfortable with it. Once a week I am going to make sure I have some “me-time”. It can be a fancy coffee and reading, a pedicure, or just some quiet time!

Some required reading I’m doing this month:

Anywho, that’s it for February! And please in the comments below let me know a great romantic classic that I could add to my reading list this month. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

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Last year The Handmaid’s Tale made a resurgence in the book world. With Hulu creating a series based on it, but also with the political climate, the parallels had people reading… and talking about it. I had put off reading it mostly because I’m not a huge fan of jumping on the band wagon. But overtime I have had many people mention to me how much they love, and remember this book. So I finally picked up my copy and read it.

Freedom, like everything else, is relative.

The Handmaid’s Tale is set in dystopian Gilead, which is a formerly an American state, ruled by a totalitarian government. Offred is a Handmaid in Gilead. She is allowed to leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. But it hasn’t always been this way… although her memory is fuzzy, Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke. When she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now.

Better never means better for everyone. It always means worse for some.

How do I begin to even tell you about the importance of this book? The very best thing to me about this book is that in Gilead, women aren’t allowed to read, or write, and yet we are reading a powerful book in which it’s words are deeply inspiring. The best quotes from The Handmaid’s Tale are as chilling today as they were when readers first read them in 1985.  The government issues in Gilead run parallel to the world that we exist in today. The sexism, the racism, and the ignorance of people are all too familiar, and because of this Atwood’s depiction of a near-future it continues to resonate with readers.

One scene that I will never forget was a flashback from Offred’s memory of her life and the way it was before. She remembers back to when she is a working women, and she finds out her bank account has been frozen, and she has been let go from her job. When she relays this to her husband, he basically tells her not to worry, he can look after her. In that moment the reader realizes that all the power is being turned over to the men, on a small level, but a large scale too.

Don’t let the bastards grind you down. 

Well friends, the power of this book lies in the resistance that the Handmaid’s are slowly brewing. Like today with the #metoo campaign, and people who are standing up for what they believe… we do hold the power, it’s just realizing that more people are behind us than we think are. It’s pretty awesome for Margaret Atwood to be writing a novel like this in 1985… raising eyebrows, and calling out people on issues… she’s a badass, and I love her for it! Plus, she’s Canadian, so there’s also that.

Have you read this one? And, have you watched the series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Until next time, happy reading!

 

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Happy Sunday! Today I’m coming at you with a non-fiction book about creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert has written many novels, but you probably know her best from the bestseller, and movie Eat Pray Love. I had put Big Magic on my required reading list for My Happiness Project for the month of January. I thought that maybe it might inspire me to live a little more creatively and write more.

And you have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simple do not have time anymore to think so small.

The key points of the book are to stop being so afraid of doing what you want to do, and to stand up like your badass self and embrace the thing that makes your heart sing. There is a wonderful story about one of Elizabeth Gilbert’s friend in this book who at the age of 40 decided to start figure skating again. She described that her friend had a completely different feeling within herself when she would skate, even though she hadn’t done it since she was a kid. So she did it, and still does it. She’s not preparing for the next Olympics… but she is happy, and healthier for it.

She also talks about how originality isn’t the key, but authenticity is. The idea of thinking up something entirely original is really daunting. Because in all honesty, how many ideas are really original. All the great writers, songwriters, athletes, and everyday people have most likely been inspired by someone else’s thoughts. So you do you, and embrace the ideas and feelings that make you want to be creative.

To me this book is all about inspired living. I love to read. I love to write. I love to run. I also love my job as an RMT. This book has ignited a fire within me to just do what I love to do, and fully commit to it. Be in the moment, and let the magic take over. And likewise… if you need to go through the motions of your day before you can arrive at your beloved task/hobby, do that without complaints. It’s all part of the process.

It’s nobody’s business but your own.

You may think that the books I’m reading are a waste of time. You may think that my writing is terrible. You may think that my career choice is crazy. But dammit, I really don’t care what you think. I know in my heart that I love these things. I know that the books I read are part of a bigger picture for me. I know the writing that I do is part of my process. And I know for sure that my work is deeply meaningful to me, and my individual clients. So, friends, your opinions are great, but what they are are yours. And this book has taught me to be authentically myself, and go where my heart wants to.

Believe in the magic. Until next time, happy reading!

Podcast listeners may enjoy these with Elizabeth Gilbert:

 

The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery

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If you don’t already know about my love of Lucy Maud Montgomery, click here to see a post about Anne and also about Maud. As of recently I’ve been reflecting on why I have this fascination… like most book worms… but I really think that it stems back to being a young girl visiting my Aunt and Uncle whom live a couple houses away from L.M. Montgomery’s home in Leaskdale. I always remember being fascinated by the fact that someone so inspired to write great literary fiction lived there. I can also remember wondering what it would have the town, and her life have been back then. Needless to say, I still haven’t been on a tour of her house, but I will need to put that on my 2018 bucket list.

I picked up The Blue Castle when we were visiting Green Gables this past September. I’ve heard many people raving about it, and what a delight the book is… Well it sat on my shelf until last week when one of my clients had been telling me that their book club actually read it, and adored it. So clearly, that green eyed book envy monster got the best of me and I picked it up.

Here’s a quick little synopsis for you: Valancy at the age of twenty-nine had never been in love, and her family, and herself thought that love had passed her by. Living with her overbearing family, the only sense of adventure that Valancy had experienced were wildlife books written by John Foster, and her daydreams of her own Blue Castle. Then when Valancy receives some troublesome news from Dr. Trent, she decides to live on the wild side… to do what she wants, say what she wants, and be who she wants. Through this troublesome news she has been blessed with the gift of love, and a much fuller life.

“Fear is the original sin,” wrote John Foster. “Almost all the evil in the world has its origin in the fact that some one is afraid of something.”

I really loved this book. First of all if you haven’t read much L.M. Montgomery, she is full of snark and wit… which I love. She has the sweetest twists and turns buried in this little novel. Another reason I really loved reading this book was it is based in the Muskoka’s in Ontario, Canada… which is close to where my parent’s cottage is. I really think that there is something special about reading a book that has a setting you are familiar with.

Watching Valancy’s character transform into someone confident enough to be who she was just dying to be inside was wonderful. She went from this meek, soft spoken young girl, to an opinionated, confident woman.

All in all, I hope this post inspires you to go read this book. I am never let down by Maud, but this book is truly a wonderful little book. And little is true as well, it comes in at just over 200 pages and has the ability to make you want to read each and every word, but also turn the pages at a fast rate.

Have a wonderful day, bookish friends!