Introducing Reading Rituals

“I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a book.” – J.K. Rowling

I’ve been keen on the idea of creating a Find the Good Everyday book club. I couldn’t quite get my head round how to make it work though. I mulled it over whilst out for a walk. And I realised what was holding me back was worry that I wouldn’t get around to reading a whole book each month to then review it on the blog. So I thought about what reading meant to me in terms of Finding the Good Everyday.

My Relationship with Reading

I:

  • usually have more than one book on the go at any one time
  • have a pile of magazines that I buy and don’t ever feel like I finish reading
  • like to read fiction at bedtime but would love to find time to read more personal development books
  • am a sucker for a happy ending and love to read romance
  • see reading as a self nurturing activity
  • love curling up with old favourites but also discovering new characters and ideas
  • have loved books since I was very young
  • don’t own a kindle or e-reader device
  • have bookshelves that are overflowing
  • am an avid reader but somehow got out of the habit of reading nightly with my son – we re-introduced it over the last few months (mostly Roald Dahl books) and it makes me happy
  • love personal development books but sometimes I find memoirs and fiction more inspiring and motivating

Introducing Reading Rituals

Reading Rituals

Rather than a book club I want to create a space here to discuss reading – what I’m reading, why I’m reading it and how I’m fitting it into my days.

Some months I manage to find enough hours to read multiple books. Other times I don’t even finish one…but I manage to find great blog posts, online articles or dip into a magazine.

Reading Rituals will be a monthly post to encourage me (and hopefully you) to make time to enjoy reading. I might share a review of a book I’ve just read…or revisit an old favourite…or offer suggestions for how to sneak in some reading time.

Each month I’ll set myself a challenge or a goal for reading…perhaps to read a certain book in my to-be-read pile or to try a genre I don’t usually read. Or to find information articles about a topic I’m interested in. And then I’ll share the results here with you.

I’ll be back before the end of the month with my January Reading Rituals post.

What are your reading rituals? Are you a keen reader? How do you fit reading in to your life? I would love to hear suggestions from you – especially if you have any books to recommend!

The Find the Good Everyday printable workbook

Freebie intro

I’ve been busy working on a special freebie for readers who are keen to sign up to receive emails from me. I’m excited to tell you the How to Find the Good Everyday printable workbook is READY! Today I want to share more information about the workbook and how to get it.

What do I get?

When you sign up as an email subscriber you will receive a free How to Find the Good Everyday printable workbook. I’ve designed the workbook exclusively for email subscribers. It contains tips and suggestions for building daily rituals and routines to nurture yourself to feel happier, healthier and in balance. There are sections to work through followed by a handy printable to complete and display as a reminder of your intentions.

Find the Good Everyday Printable Workbook
a sneak peek!

How do I sign up?

There are a couple of choices for email sign-ups. You can choose to receive:

  •  blog posts as I publish them
  • a monthly(ish) newsletter
  • both!

To sign up: enter your name, email address and tick what emails you want to receive on the form on this page.

Once you enter your email address and confirm your subscription you will receive a link to the printable PDF workbook.

How will my email address be used?

Rest assured, your email address will be safe. You will be able to manage your subscription and unsubscribe at any time should the need arise.

You get to pick what emails you receive and how frequently.

If you choose to receive blog posts as I publish them then look out for them about twice a week.

If you choose to receive the monthly(ish!) newsletter look out for the next one at the start of next month. The newsletter will highlight popular posts from the previous month in case you missed them. I will also share exclusive stories and content.

 

I hope you find the workbook useful. I’d love to hear from you if you have any feedback!

 

Kindness is a Superpower (World Kindness Day)

I truly believe that kindness is a superpower! If you were to choose one thing to do to Find the Good Everyday then kindness (to yourself and others) is a fantastic starting point.

Did you know that World Kindness Day is just around the corner? Mark down Monday 13th November in your calendar! How amazing would it be if everyone got on board with this in some way? We could change the world!

In the past I’ve taken part in New Zealand’s RAK (Random Act of Kindness) Day which falls on 1st September each year. I was so pleased to discover that the UK celebrates Kindness Day. And I like that it’s kindness in general and not just random acts of kindness. It’s a day to be kind to yourself and friends and loved ones as well as strangers. It’s celebrated globally too so you can jump on the bandwagon wherever you are in the world.

Kindness Hearts

So what is Kindness Day all about?

According to the Kindness UK website:
“Kindness Day UK is a nationally recognised day for the celebration of kindness in society and day to day life. Individual acts of kindness are encouraged on this day annually.”

Kindness can be powerful. For the person choosing to be kind and for the receiver too. Can you think back to a time when someone extended kindness to you just when you needed it?

  • Receiving a text from a friend when you’re having a bad day.
  • Getting a card or a letter in the mail to make you smile.
  • Someone donating their parking ticket (with time left on it) when you’re short on change.

All these things have the ability to turn your day around. You don’t have to spend hours of your time or lots of money to be kind. Sometimes it’s the smallest gestures that make the biggest difference.

And think back too to a time you extended kindness to someone else. I know that when I’ve done that it feels good! And I go about the rest of my day with a spring in my step.

If you can’t think of examples of kindness in your life then resolve to turn that around on the 13th. It’s never too late to start being kind!

Kindness is a superpower title

Ideas for how to celebrate Kindness Day

Hopefully I’ve convinced you that kindness is a superpower…so what could you do on the 13th to celebrate the day? How about:

  • Reaching out to a friend beyond social media – send a card or a note or give them a call. Especially if you know they might need cheering up.
  • Taking your kids out on a date after school and spend some quality time with them. A surprise trip to the playpark always goes down well in our house.
  • Trying to be an even more courteous driver that you usually would. This is a secret trick of mine…when I feel myself rushing or stressing that I’m running late I consciously decide to drive with more courtesy. I stop to give way and I visualise getting to my destination with just enough time. It always feels like it works and I arrive much less stressed than if I thought everyone was getting in my way!
  • Take the time to make eye contact with people as you go about your day. Ask the person serving you in a shop how they are and wish your neighbours a good day when you see them out and about.
  • Put some bird seed out in your garden for the birds who are probably starting to feel the cold.
  • Think of a time when someone has shown you kindness and find a way to express your gratitude – a small gift, a thank you note or even a quick text to show your appreciation.
  • And don’t forget yourself! Decide on a way you can be kind to yourself on Kindness Day. How about a small treat? Or resolving to only speak kind words to yourself for the day.

There are also lots of ideas for individuals, schools and organisations on the KindnessUK website.

My Plans for Kindness Day

  • I’m intending to reach out to some family and friends on the 13th. I might even send a few cards in the mail with some personal notes.
  • I’m hoping to get some baking done for my husband and son.
  • And I’m catching up with some friends for lunch on the 13th and plan a moment of awkward soppiness when I tell them how important their friendship is to me!
  • Plus I’m sharing this blog post (in advance of the day so you have time to plan your own kindness!) to spread the word and will likely post something to my social media accounts too.

I do hope you agree that kindness is a superpower and you find ways to celebrate it on the 13th. I’d love to hear all about it if you do!

My NaNoWriMo Plans – writing a novel in 30 days!

Today I want to share my NaNoWriMo plans. One of my major goals for 2017 is to write as much as I can. I wanted to complete my memoir about my 11 years in New Zealand, I wanted to start a blog and I want to take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

If you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo – it’s a month long challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during November. Spread across the 30 days it averages 1,667 words a day. It’s a big challenge and it’s designed to get you moving. Leave procrastination, self doubt and any crippling fears about your writing at the door and just get on with it.

NaNoWriMo Participant Badge

My first experience with NaNoWriMo was back in 2007

I was in my mid twenties and living in Palmerston North, New Zealand. I worked full time and was engaged. Amazingly I managed to write a 50,000 word romance novel set in New Zealand. I printed and bound my very rough draft and had great plans to edit it but it wasn’t to be. I still have it somewhere.

Even though I didn’t take that novel any further I still found it a very worthwhile experience. For starters I proved to myself that I could write that many words in a month. And I sat down at the computer each day to write. Even when I doubted the quality of my writing – I didn’t let it stop me – I kept going. I learnt that characters really can come alive as you write their story and they can lead you down a very different path. And I realised how much I loved having written. It felt good to be writing. I was so proud of myself when I did my final submission of words on 30th November 2007 and saw my Winner’s certificate!

NaNoWriMo 2007 Winner

A few weeks later we were setting off on a 5 week travelling adventure – I got busy with preparation for our trip and then with the trip itself and by the time we got home and over the jetlag and back into daily routine my novel lay forgotten.

I’ve made tentative NaNoWriMo plans to join in several times since that first experience and have even started a couple of times but 2007 is the only year I completed the challenge.

Why now?

NaNoWriMo is one of those things that I am confronted with each year…I wistfully remember that hard slog of getting those 50,000 words out with my rose tinted glasses…and I wonder if I should give it a go. The timing hasn’t always worked. Life has changed…I’ve gained a husband and a little boy and moved halfway back across the world since 2007.

But when sitting down to figure out what I wanted my goals to look like this year I came back to the NaNoWriMo idea. November was a long way off back then. I knew I wanted to work as hard as I could to develop my writing skills. It felt right to list it as a goal for later in the year.

How I’m Preparing

As October rolled around I logged into the NaNoWriMo site and updated by profile. I joined the local group on Facebook and hope to meet some fellow NaNos face to face by the end of November! I tuned in to a webcast by the NaNoWriMo official team. They talked through some exercises which really helped the ideas to start flowing.

I’ve given my story a fair bit of thought. I bought a whiteboard and post-its and created a list of things I know about my story and questions I had. I wouldn’t say I have a full synopsis but it’s a start!

Can I do it?

As the time has edged closer to the start of November I’ve started second guessing myself.

  • Will I have time?
  • Can I do it?
  • Can I fit it around everything else I have going on?
  • Is it fair to my family?
  • What about getting ready for Christmas?
  • How does it fit with my other goals?
  • Is my idea crap?
  • What if I write myself out and never want to write again?
  • What if I fail at NaNoWriMo when I’ve declared my intent on my blog?

I’ve managed to talk myself back around. So what if I fail? At least I will have tried! And if I declare my intent I am less likely to give up! I love some outer accountability (more on that coming up in November!).

So I’m here – poised with a half baked story idea and no idea where it’s going to lead me. One of the ways I Find the Good Everyday is to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone. Attempting to write a 50k novel in 30 days is a way I can do that while working on my goal of becoming a better writer.

I am hoping that on this 10th anniversary of my first NaNoWriMo effort and only completion that I will finally be able to win again!

Here’s to a novel filled November 2017!

If you are have NaNoWriMo plans this year or have attempted it in the past I would love to hear from you – please leave a comment or drop me a line!

How I’m Building a Daily Yoga Practice

building a daily yoga practice

One way I’ve been trying to Find The Good Everyday in 2017 is by building a daily Yoga practice. What a difference this ritual has made to my wellbeing! All of my practices are at home and I mostly use videos that are freely available on YouTube.

My starting point

I’d done the odd yoga class in the past and I attended regular Pilates classes a couple of years ago. I had also dipped my toes into Yoga with Adriene’s youtube channel but hadn’t got into the habit of practicing yoga with any regularity.

For 2017 I set myself the goal of completing Adriene’s Yoga Revolution as it was shared throughout January.

To prepare myself, I:

  • got myself some outer accountability by declaring my intentions on Instagram
  • set myself the task of sharing a photo on Instagram each day to confirm I’d done the practice
  • set a daily reminder on my phone to DO the yoga!
  • created a checklist in my bullet journal to check off the days as I went.

A sense of achievement

Yoga Revolution was a success! When I got to Day 31 I was so incredibly proud of myself that I’d completed it. I totalled up the amount of time I spent practicing yoga in January…15 hours 22 minutes!

During those 31 days I begun to feel:

  • stronger,
  • fitter,
  • more relaxed,
  • at peace,
  • more flexible and
  • more aware within my own body.

All these benefits meant I wasn’t ready to give up anytime soon.

Namaste

Moving from the 31 day challenge to building a daily yoga practice

I kept going by choosing daily from the huge catalogue of videos available for free on You Tube. I kept the reminders in my calendar and a monthly log in my bullet journal so I knew what practices I had done and how long I was practicing each day. February and March passed by with yoga becoming a core part of my daily routine.

My newly developed routine was shaken up in April when we were away from home for over a week. Adriene also offers a paid subscription service. The subscription has an app allowing you to download practices to your phone to view at any time. With our trip approaching I made the call that it was worth investing in. I felt I had certainly got my money’s worth (before I’d paid anything!) from the access to free videos on YouTube. Plus the money paid is used to fund more free content which is available to everyone.

And I’ve just kept going from there. I mostly do the YouTube practices via our TV in the lounge. If we are away or I need to find a quieter space I play videos on my phone.

Allowing myself to pick practices based on my mood, schedule and energy levels has meant that I haven’t given up. I can always find a practice that suits me on any given day. To me, it still counts as practicing yoga even if it’s a 5 minute video or learning the corpse pose!

Keeping my interest levels up

yoga by candlelight

I found as the months went by that my daily average practice was decreasing. Often I would find myself leaving yoga until the end of the day when I’d pick a quick practice so I could take myself off to bed. I’ve done a few things to challenge this habit and ensure I am making the most of my Yoga practices:

  • In June I took part in an online week long retreat.

    For each day there were a couple of suggested practices, a journalling prompt and another activity such as a nature walk or meditation. This was fantastic for breaking me out of what had become my yoga comfort zone, trying some new practices and immersing myself in yoga!

  • Then in August I completed a week long Yoga Ritual series for paid members.

    This came with a calendar which offered a daily 15 minute yoga practice plus 5 minute meditation. Adriene suggested to start each day with a glass of water with lemon and go on a daily walk. There was also a daily prompt which you could journal or ponder about.

  • And in September I made the call to work through the 30 Days of Yoga challenge

    This has probably been the most challenging series I’ve done but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

Having surpassed 275 days of yoga, I am now approaching 300! The ultimate goal is to close out 2017 with a 365 day streak.

Overcoming injuries and time restraints to get it done!

pyjama yoga

There have been days when it’s been really tough trying to get to the mat. I had tendonitis in my wrists a couple of times and chose to do hands free practices until I was recovered so I didn’t break my streak.

I’ve been poorly and done “Yoga for When You Are Sick” several times and there’s been a couple of days when I’ve found myself doing “Yoga for When You’re Angry” and “Yoga to Calm Your Nerves”. All great practices!

Some days have ended up with just a 5 minute practice from the “Quickies” series and other days I’ve done over an hour of yoga. It’s been a fantastic experience and the benefits I experienced after the first 31 days have increased with the more time I’ve spent on the mat. I’ve also found that, for me, it’s easier to commit to doing something DAILY rather than a few times a week.

 

I’d love to hear from you if you’re a fan of yoga or this post inspires you to try building a daily yoga practice. Namaste.