The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo
I’ll be very surprised if you haven’t heard about this book because it’s been popping up ALL over the internet. When I heard about this book last year, I knew I had to read it because it appealed to the organizing geek in me. I am one of those strange people who gets great joy in cleaning out a closet or re-organizing my office supplies. This year, I was asked by my parents to come to India to help them move. In a span of three weeks, I helped pack up my parents house and had them completely set up in their new place. It’s hard work to move anywhere. In India it is that much harder because there are very few reliable systems in place, no one ever shows up on time and as someone who no longer lives there I find my chaos tolerance to be a lot lower than my friends back home. Despite all that, I enjoyed the challenge of decluttering, re-organizing and setting up my parents’ new home – That should give you an idea of how much I love this stuff!
The book takes you through the author’s own organizing system called KonMari that promises to help you rid your home of clutter once and for all. I used this technique to declutter my clothes closet and I really like the result. I also learned a new folding technique to store my clothes vertically instead of stacking them on top of each other. Folding clothes, a task I loathed previously has now become somewhat therapeutic as a result. I also agree wholeheartedly with the author’s recommendation to start a decluttering project with things that are easy to sort and dispose (like clothes) and not things that you’re going to have a tough time going through quickly (like memorabilia).There are things in the book that can seem downright odd to some people because it talks a lot about treating everyday objects with reverence. There are plenty of cultures where this practice is very common (See: Ayudha Puja) and I feel like some cultural context provided during translation would have made this book seem less strange in parts. Nevertheless, this book has some good advice and it’s worth a read if you’re interested in this topic.
“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.”
“Have you ever had the experience where you thought what you were doing was a good thing but later learned that it had hurt someone? At the time, you were totally unconcerned, oblivious to the other person’s feelings. This is somewhat similar to the way many of us treat our socks.”
Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed – Glennon Doyle Melton
I know I love a book when I get through it in two days flat. I picked up this book solely because it showed up on my Goodreads page and it had a review from two of my favorite authors, Brené Brown and Gretchen Rubin on the cover. So glad I did. This book reminded me of another favorite, Hyperbole and a Half. It is full of stories that either tug at your heartstrings or make you laugh out loud. The writing is sharp, witty and full of vulnerability. A lot of the stories in the book are from the author’s website, Momastery.com which has quickly become one of my favorite places on the internet. I know, I’m not a mom but the message of embracing the messiness in your life is universal and something everyone should incorporate in their lives. If you’re a mom, give this book a shot – I bet it’s a breath of fresh air. My favorite stories in this book are “On Weaving and Repentance” where Glennon talks about her relationship with her mother-in-law and “Hey, Judy”, a story about her aunt Judy.
“When her pain is fresh and new, let her have it. Don’t try to take it away. Forgive yourself for not having that power. Grief and pain are like joy and peace; they are not things we should try to snatch from each other. They’re sacred. they are part of each person’s journey. All we can do is offer relief from this fear: I am all alone. That’s the one fear you can alleviate.”
“Kind people are brave people. Brave is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.”
“If our goal is to be tolerant of people who are different than we are, then we really are aiming quite low. Traffic jams are to be tolerated. People are to be celebrated.”
Rising Strong – Brené Brown
Failure isn’t as much a bad word today as it used to be. But watch a person who is grappling with heartbreak, struggling with their weight or uncertainty in their careers and see how quickly you jump to rewrite their stories for them. Something about our need to see a happy ending brings that out in us. We don’t like the mess, whether it’s in our life or in the lives of others.
This book is about that mess. It’s about what will inevitably happen to you when you dare greatly and choose to walk around life without an armor weighing you down. You will get hurt. It will suck. You will want out. You will wonder why you chose to walk through life making yourself vulnerable, on purpose. What were you thinking? Ever since I’ve adopted a life of choosing to be vulnerable, I’ve certainly experienced all of the above happen to me. Rising Strong is about what it takes to get back up after you’ve experienced a fall. It takes guts to write about this messy part of our lives because truth be told it’s not sexy – I’d rather imagine myself to be a gladiator in the arena, daring greatly than a fallen warrior. The first thing I felt when I finished this book is – There’s beauty in the breakdown (A line from one of my favorite songs “Let Go” by Frou Frou).
Brené Brown, in this brave book shows you how to walk through this murky, undesirable part of a wholehearted life. The Rising Strong process has three steps: (1) the reckoning – where you start examining your emotions, how you feel and how that affects your behavior (2) the rumble – where you start to take a fresh look at what are the stories you’re making up about your life and make an effort to learn more about the truth (3) the revolution – where you write a new ending to your story that is based in what you’ve learned from the process. This process need not be a long drawn one that takes months, you can experience these three steps in the span of a yoga class, like I did. (See: Storytelling) What I love about Brené Brown is her ability to come up with definitions, analogies and frameworks that fit into our lives and immediately make us realize things we had ignored for so long. I am currently doing her Living Brave Semester course online and it blows my mind how much I continue to learn after being immersed in her work for the last two years.
“There are too many people today who instead of feeling hurt are acting out their hurt; instead of acknowledging pain, they’re inflicting pain on others. Rather than risking feeling disappointed, they’re choosing to live disappointed. Emotional stoicism is not badassery. Blustery posturing is not badassery. Swagger is not badassery. Perfection is about the furthest thing in the world from badassery.”
“What do we call a story that’s based on limited real data and imagined data and blended into a coherent, emotionally satisfying version of reality? A conspiracy theory.”
“Yes, there can be no innovation, learning, or creativity without failure. But failing is painful. It fuels the “shouldas and couldas,” which means judgment and shame are often lying in wait.”
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert
I considered not writing about this book here since I’ve reviewed it in my guest post on The Sister Project blog. (See: Books to kick off 2016) but I decided I have more to say about this wonderful book. When I setup this blog in 2013, I had no idea how hard it is to sit down and write something without self-doubt and fear trying to scare you into submission. I thought it was just me for the longest time until I read, “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield. The book made me realize in simple language that the creative process is always going to induce fear in you and the only way out is through. As it tends to happen with a lot of us, I intellectualized that message without really internalizing it. Maybe I needed to hear it said in a more forceful voice – Elizabeth Gilbert has just that tough but tender voice that pushes you into action mode. I loved the discussion about the physiological need for fear in our lives because it makes you realize that you do need fear in your life, it’s a basic survival skill. I loved the letter she writes to fear as she embarks on a new creative journey. I loved the idea that “genius” doesn’t stem from the ego but belongs to a realm beyond thought.
Someday when this book isn’t fresh in my mind, I know that I will need another kick in the butt so that I can create without shame, comparison and self-doubt. I am glad to have this book right by my side for when that day will come.
“Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone “safe.”
“Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment—not entirely human in its origins.”
“A good-enough novel violently written now is better than a perfect novel meticulously written never.”