Do you have a reading ritual? Maybe it's reading in bed every night before going to sleep, curling up on the couch after work to immerse yourself in a few chapters before making supper or facing the laundry, or sitting on the back deck in warm weather, soaking up sunshine and words at the same time.
I'd love to hear about your favorite reading spot, and what other "accessories" you use to enjoy it even more. Whether that's a big, fluffy pillow to lean on, a warm, cozy quilt to snuggle under, or a particular beverage to have in hand, please share in the comments.
I recently read this blog on reading rituals while researching what other readers/writers had to say on the subject. I do not think I'd like to keep spreadsheets and publication lists for my reading ventures, would you? As a side note: I guess there really is a downside to being in publishing ... and here I thought that people who got to read all day had a dream career!
My Reading Rituals
Here's a peek into my reading rituals: I start my day with quiet and time for prayer/reflection. This is done EARLY in the morning, around 5 or 5:30 when I wake up. I usually do read during this time (my Bible and/or another inspirational text). Then, it's on with my busy day.
If it's a work-from-home day, I read for about 15 minutes on the couch while enjoying a cup of coffee as part of my lunch break. Then, if I'm lucky, I try to squeeze in another 10-15 minutes of reading in bed before turning the light off. With a busy little boy in the house, it's not likely I'll get another chance to read, unless I skip hanging out with my husband to do so after our son is in bed. I go to bed early (usually by 9:30!). I wish that I was someone who could get by on less sleep. :)
Please tell me about your reading habits and rituals in the comments.
How to get to September without saying, “Oh, crap, I never got a chance to _____”
Don’t worry, I'm not going to guilt you into doing extra writing this summer, taking on yet another book club or making a promise to finish your manuscript before September.
By "count" what I really mean is "live."
I was listening to an interesting podcast the other day on Hopologie and the topic was none other than changing one's rhythm for summer.
This got me thinking: how can I make sure that I don't miss out on the things I love most about summer, while still producing well-written articles for clients and work on my next novel?
I thought about this as I kneaded a batch of bread dough. I love making bread for my family--a recipe and skill learned at my mother's elbow when I was five. But I haven't made any in months. Why? Because it's "too much work," and I'm "too busy," and besides, isn't it easier to just toss a loaf into the cart every week while getting the other groceries?
But here's an important lesson that this particular warm, yeasty ball of dough taught me: sometimes it’s worth the extra time and effort to do something that brings you joy.
Is it easier to grab a loaf of bread at the store? Yes. But I miss out on the creative magic of putting together five simple ingredients and watching them transform into crusted, golden loaves.
5 gentle suggestions to make your summer count
What did I miss? What items are “must do’s” on your summer list?
I’m not going to spout the benefits of carving out more free moments in your overly-full schedule (I’m guessing your harried enough to know that you want, no need, to make some changes), so I want to point out a practice that might just be life-changing.
The practice is ancient but feels strangely foreign to most of us. It includes slowing down, making space, freeing one’s thoughts and hopefully gaining insight, clarity and peace. What is this magical, mysterious practice?
The #1 Cure for Weekly Overwhelm
Faith-based individuals call it a “Shabbat” or “Sabbath” or “Sunday rest.” Call it whatever you will, but if you truly want to make big, positive changes in your stress levels, start it now. This week.
There are entire books and websites dedicated to the topic. I’d recommend you read about it further if that will help you embrace the concept more fully. But these are the basics:
*Some advocates advise gently easing oneself into this practice by setting aside just an hour or two to start. I don’t. You have to have a long enough period of time away from work/technology to see the benefits. Otherwise you will end up throwing your hands in the air saying, “See? I knew this wouldn’t work!”
How I started a rest day and the benefits I’ve experienced
I grew up in a religion where we observed Sabbath each week, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. I had a love/hate view of the practice: on the one hand it made the time special, set apart and offered a rhythm to the week. On the other hand, it was oppressive (hello, teenager who can’t go to a Friday night dance?) and often felt oppressive.
As an adult, I observe a modified version: I participate in a rest day each Sunday. I don’t work. I don’t go online (until evening). We try to do fun things together as a family: hikes in the woods, going to the beach or taking out the canoe or blowing bubbles and sitting in the sun on the deck. Anything to get us outside and breathing fresh air. I still cook, but make simple meals.
Maybe something about it meshes with my inner rebel. It feels good, so good, to say “later” to the to-do list, the “should list” and all the niggling, nagging things that need to be taken care of on a daily or weekly basis. Slow Your Home has a great post, Ignore the Shoulds. Do Something You Love which is inspiring.
I can’t honestly say that since I started this practice a couple of years ago, I’ve never worked or gone online on Sundays. But I find that the times I do, I am much less peaceful and content at the end of the day.
It’s kind of like when you were a kid and just couldn’t wait to bite into that giant chocolate Easter bunny. “It’s huge! It’s going to taste awesome.” And then you bit a little too aggressively on its little bunny ear and the whole head caved in. To add insult to injury, not only was the bunny hollow but it was just “chocolate flavored.”
“Oh, just a few minutes brainstorming this project,” feels so innocent. But halfway through the workweek I find that I’m no further along than if I stopped completely on Sunday and gave myself the gift of an entire day off. Isn’t that weird? It’s almost magical the way that the “wasted” time helps the rest of our week go more smoothly.
It shouldn’t be surprising though. We all need rest. We need time to nurture ourselves and let that creative well become deep once again.
Do you have a habit of unplugging once a week? If so, how did you get started? What challenges did you face? Please share a response in the comments.
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