The books you read

When ‘everything’ started back in March, I sort of naively imagined I’d get lots of reading done. I’d have all this time, I thought. I wouldn’t be traveling, I’d still get my work done at home and then I could just read and read and read.

Didn’t happen that way, at all. Matter of fact for a few months I could hardly read anything. I couldn’t concentrate, had too much to think about and process, and was just trying to keep the business going and take care of the team and clients.

But as time has moved on, and things have settled – a little – I’ve noticed my reading levels have not only returned, they’ve increased significantly. I’m at the ‘voracious’ level of reader at  the moment, literally reading 3-4 books per week. I’ve read 37 books since January, and so far it’s not slowing down.

What you read, and how much you read, says a lot about what you’re processing and working through. Where your mind is, what you care about or want to care about. There’s great power in a good book, and I’m discovering there’s great power in a book you’re not sure of, too. Most books I read come recommended from a friend, or from an Amazon suggestion based on other books I’ve read, and I’m really enjoying opening my mind to new kinds of books. I spent a lot of time in the past only reading “certain” kinds of books, almost a subconscious “approved book list”, although I didn’t recognise it as such. Now I’m trying books I might never have considered before, and I’m literally fascinated by them.

In today’s sketch are a few of the books I’ve read recently, and the theme I can see is that of growth. Change. Opening your mind to new possibilities. Seeing things differently than you used to see them. Making up your own mind. I’ve read some novels too, but I notice most of those have to do with disruption and technology and people changing over time and redemption and release and freedom.

I was meeting with a counsellor this week (side note: SUCH a good thing to do, for any reason, but especially now, where all of us have many heavy things we either know about or don’t realise are there), and I mentioned a book I was reading. She asked what else I was reading, and I started listing some of them. Together we noticed that pattern I mentioned, and I even gave her a few book suggestions she was intrigued by.

Books are powerful. Books tell stories – I was going to say whether they’re true or fiction, but I’m discovering all stories are taken from real life.

Even fictional stories are written based on the experience or thoughts or imagination of the author, based on their life and reading and ideas. Some stories are “true” in the sense that they actually happened to real people, but even then the author usually recognises that they are looking at their story in a particular way, with a particular focus, or with some memories different from others’.

Tara Westover in her book Educated mentions several circumstances she remembers with startling clarity, and yet when she discussed the same story with her brother or sister or someone else who was there, they specifically remembered something entirely different. She remembered her dad being there; they remembered him definitely not being there. She remembered it this way, they remembered it that way. The overall impression of the story was similar, but some of the specifics were very different.

My list of “books to read” gets longer every day. For every book I finish, two or three more get suggested to me, and I go “ooooh, yes that one too!” Some days I think about how I have so many book ideas myself, and I want to write about this and write about that, and other days I think they’ve all been written and I am not quite sure yet what I have to say which is different or needs saying in my own way, and I go back to reading other books.

There’s no rush: I used to feel pressured by people saying “oh, you need to write a book!”, as if I was letting the world down by not writing a book for the sake of writing a book. Or just because I love writing and do it all the time in emails and blog posts and social posts, means I have a specific book idea with a purpose that needs to be out there in the world. I think I probably will, one day, but I’m learning the value of slowing down and listening, and not rushing to be the one talking all the time.

I’m going to be on holiday for the next three weeks, so you won’t be getting a Note from me during that time. That’s actually super hard for me to commit to – I wanted to say “well I might write one if I feel like it”, but I know myself well enough that saying maybe is enough to feel like a locked in commitment, as if I’d be letting everyone down not writing one, so… I’m committing to a break. I’ll take my three week break, and I’ll be back to these Notes in mid September, and I already have a whole pile of books ready and waiting for me during that time!

One of the things I’d really like to do is FINISH a pile of books which are partly read. Here’s my “books partly read” list:

  • Warriors Witches and Damn Rebel Bitches (Mairi Kidd)
  • Deep Work (Cal Newport)
  • Branding (Michael Johnson)
  • Known (Mark Schaefer)
  • Everybody Writes (Ann Handley)
  • The Body Keeps the Score (Bessel van der Kolk)
  • The Liturgy of the Ordinary (Tish Harrison Warren)
  • Feminine Mystique (Betty Friedan)

…and probably five or six others floating around in the house or on my phone which I forgot about!
I’ll report back in three weeks, but in the meantime do drop me a line to let me know what you’re reading! I’d love to hear about it!

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ON THE GRAM

Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon
Oh hey, it’s me. 

And a new updated KLR brand and website! 

For the past six months or so, while I was finishing my book content and the final edits from my side, we have also been working on an updated KLR brand and website, to distinguish from the PF brand and site. 

It’s a tough job, when you’re the business owner and have been for ten years. And the book you’ve written is for the kind of clients your business serves, so it feels like a PF project.

But I’ve also been working for years to figure out (and help others see) that PF is far more than me. I’m the owner and MD, and I’m involved in sales and speaking and writing, and yet our clients primarily work with the team. There are 18 beautiful humans delivering great creative work every day from PF (soon to be 19!) and as I always say to potential clients, you definitely want all of them working on your creative projects. They’re structured and organised and talented - 19x more talented than just me. 

I’ve still got my own skills. And my own identity. It took us weeks to dig into how we represent “Karen L Reyburn” as a personal brand, with an audience of clients and friends and accountants and non-accountants and witches and wizards and family members and creative humans. 

We settled on “Leader, writer, creative, coach”, because those are the areas I love the most and want to lean into more as PF grows. And as I write more books and keep being my own self. 

If you’d like to be on the list to get “Karen’s notes” by email every Saturday, or to be on the waiting list for the book (coming May 2023), the link is in my bio. 

And I’d love for you to head over to my new site (karenlreyburn.com) and let me know what you love or anything you notice and wonder about! 

Stay strong, stay creative, and keep going. 

#karensnotes #staycreative #justkeepgoing