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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Popped into a fave local coffee shop in York this week and this was the mug they gave me. ❤️✨

Wasn’t feeling so superwomanny when I got it - this week was very full, plus period cramps and multiple migraines and my ankle being wonky and more travel than I’ve done in a while. I had intended to get coffee but the cramps were so bad I had to go for mint tea and just sit until they faded enough for me to walk again. 

At the same time, I also had an amazing time during this week with the @weare_pf Board meeting in person for the first time. Getting to know each other better as humans and sharing ideas and making plans and most of all appreciating that the weight of all the business decisions doesn’t rest solely on my shoulders. 

This is just one of your reminders that being a superwoman looks different at different times, and whether you’re striding along strongly or sitting weakly with mint tea, your superwoman status still applies. 

#justkeepgoing #superwoman #muglife #wegotthis #onedayatatime
Every single time I go sailing past this lighthouse on the mull-to-Oban ferry I think “this time I’ll just watch it and not take any pictures” 

And then something wild happens like A SAILBOAT GOES BY and of course I have to capture that, surely I haven’t taken that photo before (spoiler: I have), and then I have about seventeen lighthouse photos to add to my collection of seven thousand lighthouse photos from the last twenty years. 

But, I figure, what’s the harm anyway. It’s my photos and my memories and it brings me joy. I love the lighthouse as a visual of my journey from the mainland to the island (or a reminder I’ll be back soon). 

So, see you soon lighthouse. Thanks for standing there. 

#lismorelighthouse #eileanmusdile #lighthouse #lighthousesofinstagram #oban #ferry #calmac #isleofmull #sailaway #sailboat #scotland #travelscotland
I read. A lot. My list of “books to read” has over 100 titles listed, and every time I mention a book I’ve appreciated, I get another recommendation of a new one and the list gets longer. 

One of the books recommended to me years ago was “The Buddha in Me the Buddha in You”. She mentioned it had some helpful principles about how we navigate life - and whether you’re a buddhist or not, there are principles you can learn from and apply in life.

I wrote it down, forgot about it, and moved on with life. Read lots of other books.

And then when I broke my ankle, and was sitting and resting a LOT, with loads of time for reading, I went back to my list and started reconsidering some of the titles on it.

When I looked up “The Buddha in Me the Buddha in You”, the subtitle was “A Handbook for Happiness”, and that struck me.

Dealing with an injury is difficult. Sad. Wearying. It can be hard to find happiness and every day feels about the same. (Very Groundhog Day.)

So I bought the book, and put it by my bed. I started getting into a pattern of reading a chapter every morning with my coffee.

I thought I’d share some of the principles I appreciated and which are already helping me as I continue to navigate my life right now: 

[the full post on these is too long for an Insta post so click the link in bio or story if u want to read more!]

Thank the spoon - a spoon stirs up the mud in what had appeared to be clear water. Same with life: hard things stir up what you haven’t dealt with yet. So you thank them. “Thank you, spoon”

The Fundamental darkness (FD) - the “Survival Obsessed Self” who responds in a way based on survival but not growth

There’s a gift in the struggle - He describes it visually as “the lotus flower in the muddy pond”. You can focus on the mud, or on the flower, but they’re both there.

Nam - myo - ho - renge - kyo : The happiness soundtrack - I pulled out the core concepts of each of these words as they applied to me, and they are: 

Bloom in the struggle
Flow of life

#karensnotes #buddhainmebuddhainyou #books #reading #happysaturday 

[full note link in bio!]
The snow is swirling the wind is howling IT’S FROZEN OUT THERE 
#snowing #happyspringeveryone #inlikealion