September Starts…

42BD1866-11C1-427F-8347-AFB173B64BCE.jpegSeptember has always felt like a time for new starts to me.  A time to take stock after summer, re-set and make a new beginning before the end of the year.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I have spent 19/33 years in an academic setting and the fact that in two weeks’ time I go back to school to begin an MA in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy.  I am so excited and nervous and a bit overwhelmed with how amazing this opportunity will be. 

When I found this course two years ago I thought that it sounded PERFECT but I closed the door on my longing because it seemed too demanding, financially and in terms of time (it is three years on a part time basis) and also places are limited and the usual gremlins of self-doubt crept in.  God had other plans though and at the very end of last year it became possible financially and I am so grateful and lucky and here we are.

Since the end of my honeymoon in May and throughout summer I have been taking stock, resting up where possible, reading the things I enjoy and finding time to quietly reflect on the big Life Changes coming my way. 

August saw the arrival of my niece who is naturally the most perfect and gorgeous baby ever to live and she is ADORED and a large portion of my time has been spent helping to look after her when I am able and if not (stupid work) staring at pictures of her and talking about her at every available opportunity to anyone who will listen.

Other things I have been:

Doing:

1.       Organising our weeding photos and actually displaying some;

2.       Joining a new Church – Croydon Vineyard which has been renewing for me;

3.       Gardening – we grew lettuces and tomatoes in abundance, everything else has been rather disappointing!

4.       Protesting – I went to the Anti Trump Protest, this will get a post of its own.

5.       Whole30 – ing again (July);

6.       Joining and then leaving a gym because I went three times.  Nope.

7.       Aunty-ing.

8.       Having a minor op on my foot and some enforced down time which meant I could do a lot of…

Watching:

1.       Dr Who – I am almost through season 10 before our new Lady Doctor starts!  Eeek!

2.       The Handmaid’s Tale – could it be any better?  BUT what is going to happen to June now?!;

3.       Call The Midwife (I had not seen the last two series).  I just adore this show;

4.       Victoria – just finished season 1 so no spoilers please.  I have a massive girl-crush on Jenna Coleman so I am loving it;

5.       Dear White People – so good.

Listening:

1.       Following repeated recommendations from my friend Madge I FINALLY made  time to check out Gretchen Rubin and I have basically spent the last three months binge listening to her podcast – Happier with Gretchen Rubin.  This podcast started in 2015, there is one episode a week and as the name would suggest is about how to make you happier.  Not one to do things by halves I went right back to the beginning and I am now almost up to date.

Reading:

If you follow me on Instagram I post a round up of all books finished in the last month so I won’t re-list here BUT following on from the Podcast above I am in the process of reading Gretchen Rubin who writes about happiness and habits and have so far finished:

1.       The Four Tendencies – a book about how we respond to internal and external obligations.  Rubin believes that everyone can be divided into one of four groups – Upholder (meets both outer and inner expectations), Questioner (meets inner expectations and will only meet outer if the “why” makes sense to them), Obliger (meets outer expectations but struggles to meet inner expectations unless there is some accountability) and Rebel (will meet both inner and outer expectations but only if they want to).

2.       Better Than Before – a book on strategies for changing habits.

3.       The Happiness Project – a Memoir where Rubin spends a year working on a project to make herself happier.

I love learning about myself and trying to improve and grow as a person so these Podcast and books have been something I have really enjoyed digging in to over this summer.  I have now decided as it is September that I will be starting my own Happiness Project because:

1.       it sounds like fun;

2.       like this is a good use of my time and energy; and

3.       It will hopefully help me figure out this new season of part time work and study. 

Just for those of you out there who may be familiar with this work: I am a Questioner and it seems hilarious to me that I ever questioned this at the beginning of the summer!

This has been a season of introspection for me and I am now ready to start anew and put some of these thoughts and plans into action.  For those who are interested I shall keep you updated with my Happiness Project and my new routine in the coming weeks 😊

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2017 Books

I said I wanted to read more books in 2017, I managed 43 in 2016.  Here’s a comprehensive list of all that I read, in order.  I beat my 52 target!

  1. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown –Love, love, love Brené Brown and her wisdom – this book is full of wisdom about living.
  1. The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch – I really enjoy the Rivers of London books – just wish he could write them quicker, I need to re-read them before the next one as I can’t remember everything that’s happened.  A great mix of humour, London life, magic and mystery.
  1. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson – I can’t explain how good this and its sister book “Life After Life” is.  Fantastically written stories, I couldn’t put either of them down and became so invested in the characters.
  1. Dead Cold by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  2. The One-Hunded-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeard by Jonas Janasson – Everyone seemed to love this, I was a bit disappointed.  It was good, but I didn’t love it, I just didn’t feel that invested in the story or the character.
  1. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman – This was a recommended book from our pre-marriage counselling course and it was really interesting to learn our own love languages and know how to relate to each other better.
  1. On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers
  2. The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  3. The Manual of the Warior of Light by Paula Coelho
  4. Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
  5. The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
  6. The Person-Centred Counselling Primer by Pete Sands
  7. Seven by Jen Hatmaker – This made me want to simplify my life and be less wasteful.  I really enjoyed the families’ experience of cutting down in 7 areas of their lives and seeing how living more simply affected them going forward.
  1. Dibs, In Search of Self by Virginia M Axline – The best counselling book I read all year.
  1. Late Fragments by Kate Gross – This was beautiful, written by a woman who was dying for her boys.
  1. Five on Brexit Island by Enid Blyton
  2. The Integrative Counselling Primer by Richard Worsley
  3. Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon
  4. The Murder Stone by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  5. At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenrider – This was interesting – a family who travel for long periods with their kids to experience different cultures.  Perhaps it’s because we did a lot of travel as a family when I was a kid but it didn’t seem that new or unique to me!
  1. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
  2. The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  3. Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  4. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  5. Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen (read twice) – This really spoke to me about busyness, motivations, avoidance and living a Christ filled life.
  1. The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight
  2. The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Technically a children’s book but that has never stopped me from enjoying things and this was fantastic.  I loved it.

  1. The Road Back to You (An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery) By Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
  2. Play by Stuart Brown M.D – This was a fascinating read about play and how it shapes humans.
  1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  2. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
  3. How the Light Gets in by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  4. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  5. Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  6. The Marriage Book by Nicky & Sila Lee – Slightly old fashioned but enjoyable and informative all the same – some good pointers.
  1. I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi
  2. The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho
  3. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequest – This is a must read for anyone going through a season of loss.  I love Shauna and I find her writing so clarifying, her book Present Over Perfect was a favourite of mine in 2016.
  1. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker – Jen is funny and smart, I laughed my way through this.
  1. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – This was good – I enjoyed the story and the writing and the fact that it wasn’t all tied up with a pretty bow at the end.
  1. The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking
  2. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  3. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  4. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  5. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  6. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  7. Harry Potter and The Order of the Pheonix by J.K. Rowling
  8. Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  9. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling  – It goes without saying that I am a HUGE HP fan!
  1. Falling Upward by Richard Rhor – I have another Richard Rhor book to read this year and cannot wait. This man seems to have so much wisdom and writes beautifully about what it means to live as a Christian in the 21st centuary.
  1. Snowed in for Christmas by Claire Sandy – A rom-com for which I had low expectations.  Better than I thought although I spotted the twist but I still enjoyed it.
  1. The Enneagram by Rhor and Ebert – I really enjoyed learning about the Enneagram this year, I loved this book – I am definitely a “2” and feel the appropriate levels of shame about my number’s shadow side!  Workign on things!
  1. The Magical Wolds of Harry Potter by David Colbert
  2. Christmas at the Ragdoll Orphanage by Suzanne Lambert – Terrible.  Don’t read!
  1. The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series) – I love this series so much and would recommend to anyone – it is crime fiction set in a small fictional village in Quebec called Three Pines.  I love all of the characters but especially Gamache.  Obviously.

So, aiming for 60 books in 2018…can it be done?!

 

Books, Books, Books

I read a grand total of 43 (one book twice) books in 2016, a vast improvement on 2015.  For 2017 I would like to read a minimum of 52.

The below are in order as read, books that made most of an impact (good or bad) are annotated.

  1.  Simply Christian by Tom Wright – a great introductory text with simple explanations.
  2. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – the tagline is “creative living beyond fear”.  Yes and yes!
  3. The Zahir by Paulo Coelho.
  4. The Pilgramage by Paulo Coelho.
  5. Longbourn by Jo Baker.
  6. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – this is an “epic” novel.  It is very long and meandering.  I felt that at least 200 pages could have been cut out.  I realise that this book has a lot of fans though so do try it if your tempted.
  7. Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle – This is a wonderful book, a must read about a Priest who runs a non profit for ex gang members in LA.
  8. How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran.
  9. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (re-read) fantastic, I love C.S. Lewis.
  10. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert – I really enjoyed this as I prepare for my own marriage in 2017.
  11. The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee – profound.  This will stay with you long after you read it.  Completely unexpected but I really loved it.
  12. Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho – this is a fantastic book.  Read, it, read it!
  13. Prayer Without Pretending by Rev. Anne Townsend – I am lucky enough to know Anne who preaches at my church.  This was a very insightful little book about prayer and making time for it.
  14. The Day I met Jesus by Mary deMuth and Frank Viola – I absolutely loved this book.  I found it so helpful in learning the stories of these women from the Gospels and having them put into perspective.
  15. Every Day Sexism by Laura Bates – a real eye-opener in terms of statistics, if not in terms of experiences of women.  A great movement to get behind.
  16. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Fielder – I adored this, a really different way to present and write about mental health, for the better.
  17. The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlodinow – I can’t do maths, I don’t like it, this was too hard.
  18. The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory – I really enjoy her novels, I can’t put them down.
  19. Work Smarter, Live Better by Cecil Peupion.
  20. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
  21. The Wealthy Woman by Mary Waring.
  22. Lean for Life by Louise Parker – read about this game changer here.
  23. Being Mortal by Atwul Gwande – really interesting about societies’ view of old age and ageing and death (not as depressing as it sounds).
  24. According to Yes by Dawn French.
  25. Finally Feminist by J Stackhouse – alright but not amazing.
  26. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest – I really needed this book and it is probably the book that made most impact on me this year.  I would recommend it to anyone (I read this twice).
  27. Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg.
  28. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking – a great little book, we could all do with some hygge.
  29. Small Victories by Anne Lamott – a beautiful writer, a collection of essays, some had more impact than others but I really enjoyed this.
  30. A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers – I found this really helpful in helping me to identify the stories of women in the bible as often these are overlooked.  I really enjoyed this.
  31. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown – a must read.
  32. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton – good.  Not as good as Carry, On Warrior.
  33. Rising Strong by Brené Brown.
  34. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany – I miss Harry and the gang.
  35. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (re read).
  36. Listening to God by Joyce Hugget.
  37. Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (re read).
  38. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – AMAZING.
  39. Still Life by Louise Penny – got into the Inspector Gamache books on the recommendation of Sarah Bessey.  Did not think I would enjoy it at first but really got into it. I just finished the second.
  40. Advent for Everyone by Tom Wright – very good a good programme for Advent.
  41. A Christmas Tail by Cressida McLaughlin.
  42. The Problem of Pain by C.S.Lewis – deals with a difficult subject for Christians.