Destination Simple: A Book Review

I have really been into books lately, that have to do with simple and intentional living. I want to have fewer items in my house, less items on my to-do list, and want to stop feeling like I am cramming things into my day.

Enter Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals For a Slower Life by Brooke McAlary.

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I first heard of this book being mentioned in the blogging circles and it being a simple but short and compelling read. Brooke McAlary is also the creator of the Slow Your Home podcast. Although I’ve never listened to any episodes of her podcast, I decided to give her book a try.

Destination Simple is broken into three parts with just a few chapters in each section. It is a very smooth read (seriously, it is only 116 pages!), so it is easy enough to read through while drinking your morning coffee or your afternoon tea  🙂

The author, in the introduction, mentions that she used to live life to the point that she was an “overwhelmed, overcommunicated wreck”. She felt like she had no downtime, and felt that she wasn’t present to the people who most mattered to her, like her husband and children. She realized that she needed to make changes to her life and this book is a compilation of things that worked for her.

While I personally don’t feel like a stressed out wreck, and I am absolutely present for my husband and my daughter, I liked her forthcoming pages about how to just slow down. Brooke talks about how we need to single-task and not multi-task, the way our society says we should.

“Single-tasking is the antidote to modern life, where we are taught that to be effective, productive, and worthwhile, we must multi-task”. -Brooke McAlary

By doing one task at a time, we can practice mindfulness and stay in the present moment. Brooke asks readers to do just one thing at first, something that you do every day, and try to do just that one task, without also doing something else at the same time. It will give you a chance to clear your mental clutter, even if it is just for a few minutes.

My favorite chapter in the book was Chapter 3, entitled “Emptying Your Mind”.

“Our minds are cluttered. We are overwhelmed with to-do items, commitments, errands, and must-remembers…Do you ever get to bed, begin to relax, only to magically remember everything you were supposed to get done that day?” -Brooke McAlary

*slowly raises hand*

I bet there are quite a few of us in that boat. Our brains have a hard time shutting off once our head hits the pillow. We are tired but we can’t sleep because our hamster wheel of a brain is going and going!

Sound familiar?

Brooke’s solution is the art of “brain dumping”. It is basically an exercise where you take 5-10 minutes and simply journal and write down, or “dump” the contents of your brain onto paper. Write down those frustrations, those to-do’s that didn’t get done, problems that are bothering you, anything that is occupying space in that beautiful brain of yours. Get it out onto paper and out of your mind. This will help you to think more clearly, process what has been committed to paper and help you now to be in the present, without being bombarded with all those shoulda, coulda, wouldas! Some people prefer doing their “brain dumps” in the evening before bed, others prefer to start their day off in the morning and journal right away. Do what works best for you!

Destination Simple is chock full of tidbits to help you slow down and add some simple living techniques to your life.

I definitely recommend this book if you want to be intentional with your time and carve out space to really and truly be fully present!

 

 

 

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Currently…The End of Summer Edition

Hellooooooo September!  🙂

I can’t believe we have reached this point in the calendar year, yet here we are! Although, the temperatures here in Southern California were undeniably hot and yucky. Yes, yucky. We had a crazy heat wave here every day with absurd temperatures. Lots of 100°days and grouchy people everywhere. See, our summers here are pretty normal but around this time of year, Mother Nature doesn’t get the memo that the thermostat is supposed to go in the other direction. Ahhhhhhh life…

Oh well, it has cooled off from the insanity of last week, but the month is still young and I am guessing we will be back to praising whomever created air conditioning once again  🙂

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: The book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner.

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I loved this book and I get why everyone raves about it  I had to wait a few weeks until my request came in at the library but it was worth it. Definitely a must-read!

What I Am Absolutely Over: Every single day, there being a news story concerning the person occupying the White House. Not going to get political here but I am exhausted by the sheer madness of what continues to headline our news stories. *sigh*

On The Healthy Living/Pregnancy Front: Trying to eat as healthfully as possible and to drink enough water and stay hydrated. Pregnancy is one of those things where something sounds good one day, and then the next day, you’re like “bleh!”  🙂 Cherry frozen yogurt has been my newest craving, and in this warm weather, it hits the spot!

Also, a friend gifted us some baby clothing that they were no longer using as their daughter is now in the toddler stage. This gift was truly a blessing!

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We are literally starting over with this baby and all the accoutrements that they need and require as my daughter is 7 years old and any baby stuff she had has long since found another home.

And yes, I am having a girl!!!

On The Minimalism/Decluttering Front: I am trying to, on days when I actually have energy, to organize and declutter things because once the baby arrives, there will be zero time for any of that.

I needed a container to hold some things but I didn’t want to purchase one. So I took a shoebox and covered it with scrapbook paper to make it pretty and voila! I have a container that didn’t cost me any extra money out-of-pocket! #frugal

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In Other News: School is back in session which has been an adjustment to say the least. We are back to a schedule which after the looseness of summer, has taken all of us some getting used to. I figure by the end of the month, we should be doing all of this, easy-peasy, lemon squeezy   😉

How is life going for you these days? Are you ready to transition into Fall?  🙂

As The Page Turns: July Edition

Haven’t read as many books as I would like to as most of the books I want to read, my library doesn’t carry and neither does any library in my county. Ah, #bookwormproblems  😀 But I did get in 4 books this month which is still good, right?

What I read in July:

Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis by Ed Sikov

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Bette Davis is one of my favorite “Old Hollywood” actresses, and her movie All About Eve from 1950, is on my top ten list of favorite movies EVER, so I was intrigued to read this biography of her life.

I liked reading about Bette’s early life before she moved out to Hollywood and I loved the behind-the-scene shenanigans that went on, on her film sets. I even loved reading about how pissed of she was that Vivien Leigh was picked to star in Gone With The Wind, and not her.

But it is a very long read and the alcoholic tantrums that became part of her persona as she got older, became tiresome after a while. All in all, a great read but will take you more than an afternoon at the beach to finish.

Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson

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I looooooooved this book!! I couldn’t put it down  🙂

The book starts off in 1940 and an American journalist named Ruby Sutton is sent over to England to report on the Second World War for both her American editors and her new job at an English magazine in London. The story follows Ruby all the way through the war including London being blitzed, to the end of the war in 1945. She endures loss and heartache, but also gains a sense of stability and perseverance while working and reporting/writing stories for her job.

Great book, seriously!

Tug of War by Beverly Cleverly

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This book started off a bit slow but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it!

Here is a great synopsis from Publisher’s Weekly:

“Set in 1926 France, Cleverly’s impressive Joe Sandilands novel finds the Scotland Yard detective, still scarred by WWI, taking a relaxing jaunt around Provence until Sir Douglas Redmayne of the British War Office gives him a sensitive assignment: to ascertain the identity of an amnesiac war veteran who’s surfaced in a French hospital speaking English. As the French government would provide a lucrative pension to the soldier’s family, there’s no shortage of people who claim him as their relation. Accompanied by his precocious ward and honorary niece, Dorcas Joliffe, Sandilands probes the four most likely candidates, each of whom has ample motive to lie. Before long, an old murder is uncovered, further complicating the quest to identify the soldier”.

You will never guess the ending and that is what made this novel so enthralling and such a great read!

A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King

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Any book involving Sherlock Holmes has my name written all over it!!!  🙂

The year is 1923. The book’s main characters Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary Russell are at their home in Sussex when an old friend, archeologist Dorothy Ruskin pays them a visit with a papyrus that she believes was written by Mary Magdalene. She asks the Holmes’ to investigate and later that evening, Ms. Ruskin is murdered. Sherlock and Mary uncover clues not only to whether the papyrus is truly real, they also solve Ms. Ruskin’s murder, inadvertently placing themselves in jeopardy while doing it.

Loved this book! Definitely a must-read.

What have you guys read lately?  🙂

 

As The Page Turns: June Edition

A booknerd’s dream: book reviews!!! Am I right?  🙂

What I read in June:

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

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Awful. Absolutely bloody awful.

Cavallaro’s first book, A Study in Charlotte was awesome. A unique twist on the teaming of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, now featuring their great-great-great-great grandchildren, Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, who are 17 year-olds at a prestigious boarding school, solving mysteries and getting into trouble. The first book had me hooked and I was so looking forward to the second book in the series.

But alas… The Last of August was a hot mess from beginning to end, and I probably gave it an extra star more than it deserved on Goodreads. The writing was all over the place in this book, and nothing made sense and the author conveniently leaves important information out at crucial times and then tries to tie it all up with a convoluted bow at the end. At which point the book ends, and you are saying to yourself, “huh?”

Do not pass go. Do not read this book.

Mary Astor’s Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936 by Edward Sorel

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This book was in the “New Releases” section and I decided what the heck, I know who Mary Astor is, let’s give it a read. And I am so glad I did. It was so interesting!

For those unfamiliar with her name, Mary Astor was an actress who got her start in silent films in the 1920’s and transitioned to the “talkies” and became a really great actress of the 1930’s and 1940’s. One of her best known films is The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart from 1941.

Well in 1936, the very married Mary Astor had an affair with a playwright names George Kaufman and kept a diary of all their exploits, in, ahem, graphic detail. When she decided to divorce her husband and sue for custody of their daughter, said husband stole Mary’s diary and blackmailed her with it unless she gave up custody. Mary took him to court and the press had a field day about Mary’s diary, some pages her husband leaked to the press.

This book is fascinating in that, not only does the author go into detail about the trial which was a HUGE scandal at that time, but he goes into detail about Mary’s life, from her abusive childhood, to her acting career, and her problems which led her to abuse alcohol.

Mary Astor’s Purple Diary was so engaging, and I guarantee you will find it beyond interesting!  🙂

Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade

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In December of 1926, author Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days from her home in England. True story, folks. When she was finally found, she was at a hotel where she had been almost the entire time, under an assumed name…. the last name of her husband’s mistress!

Dun, dun, dun…

I literally devoured this book because I wanted to know why Agatha disappeared and if she really was behind it as many had claimed or was she suffering from amnesia like she herself claimed? And why didn’t Agatha mention this episode of her life in her autobiography?

This book answers all those questions and then some. Absolutely fascinating and a must-read for those who like a real-life mystery but also want to sleep at night.

And if you want to know what happened to Agatha during those 11 missing days, you’ll have to read the book and find out!  🙂

The Red Door by Charles Todd

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Charles Todd is one of my favorite authors and this book does not disappoint. The Red Door is the 12th book in the “Ian Rutledge” series. Rutledge is a police officer with Scotland Yard in 1920. A former WWI soldier who is still haunted by the war, he has to simultaneously solve the murder of a woman who was left by her open front door and solve the disappearance of a man and finding out the connection between the two.

A great read, especially for those of who like mystery novels that are not modern. No CSI or forensics here!

What have you guys read lately?  🙂

Find The Words To Help You Find Your Way

As most of you know, I am a huge bookworm. I am also a fan of quotes and the accompanying verbiage that motivates. Let’s face it: life is hard. We are all swimming in the same ocean trying to avoid the eventual tidal wave that comes our way and knocks us off our feet for awhile. Once that proverbial tidal wave recedes, we remember that we can swim, and we paddle out into the ocean once again.

If you happen to be in the midst of a tidal wave and you are looking for some help, here are some books that I think are awesome and may help you get the earth back under your feet  🙂

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

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If your life is spinning out of control and you feel overwhelmed by the clutter in not just your life, but your mind, this book is for you. And don’t worry, it is not a book that tells you to get rid of everything you own and sleep on the floor! But it will help you sort out the values that you feel are important and make adjustments accordingly.

Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen

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If you are looking to get healthier, look no further than this book. For the record, I cannot do a handstand to save my life, nor does Rachel make you try to do one. This story gives voice to Rachel’s story about how yoga saved her from a life that was on a complete downward spiral. She shares simple yoga poses, meditation practices, and some super healthy recipes to get you going on your way!

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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This book. I loooooved this book! For a complete review of my love of this tome, and why I think EVERYONE needs to read it, click here.

10% Happier by Dan Harris

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Amazing book. If anxiety is getting the best of you and you’ve heard about meditation and aren’t sure what exactly it’s all about, check out Dan’s book. He is a broadcaster for ABC who had a panic attack on national television and this is his story about how meditation helped him.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

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This book, just wow. Lysa writes about how broken we can feel and get as women and how we can overcome that. Although Lysa does have bible verses sprinkled throughout, please don’t let it deter you if that’s not your thing. This book will break open your heart and put it right back together again. In a good way 🙂

Everything That Remains by The Minimalists

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I know I have two books listed here by The Minimalists but this one is my absolute favorite! It basically chronicles how Joshua hit rock bottom in his life (his mom died and his marriage ended in the same month), and with the help of the concept of minimalism, he shed which didn’t matter in his life and began to focus on his relationships and what was actually important. In turn, his best friend Ryan saw how changed Joshua’s life was and embraced lifestyle changes of his own. Want to know how The Minimalists became The Minimalists? Read this book. Some life-changing stuff here that you can totally apply to your own life.

Are there any books that you have read that you feel have helped you overcame obstacles in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

Currently: The Birthday Edition

Hey guys, Happy May! 🙂 High temperature weather has arrived with a gusto this week, as it has been super warm here in SoCal. I am sitting here in shorts as I type this, lol  🙂

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I finished “Better Than New” by Nicole Curtis, who has that show Rehab Addict where she restores old houses on HGTV and the DIY network. I have watched Nicole’s show for years and am a huge fan, so I couldn’t wait to read this book about all the behind-the-scene stuff regarding her show, and also just learning more about Nicole. If you are a fan of the show, definitely check out her book!

I have been watching a lot of playoff hockey. My team is the Anaheim Ducks and I am a huuuuuuge fan, and we are currently in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. My cat sometimes doesn’t understand how important it is to watch these games as evidenced by his indifference at blocking the television set  🙂

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It is also my birthday on Friday! In case you are wondering how old I will be turning, I will give you a hint: Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever came out in movie theaters the year I was born  😉 I am totally fine with turning this particular age (if you aren’t living, you’re dying, as they say…), I am just not ready to write or type the number quite yet. I am still wrapping my head around the dichotomy of feeling one particular age in your head, but your chronological age is totally something different. You know what I mean?  🙂

Hope everyone has a great week!

And GO DUCKS!!!!

March in the Rearview

The month of March went by with a whoosh, right? Whew…  🙂

A quick look back:

What I enjoyed this month: Reading, obviously! But also trips to see my beloved ocean and coffee dates with friends  🙂

Huntington Beach is my favorite local beach and it makes me feel all the feelings when I am there!

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I read Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham which I looooved!! If you are a Gilmore Girls fan, than this book is for you! Lauren talks about her life and of course, behind the scenes stuff about the BEST SHOW EVER!!!

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I also drooled over read The Minimalist Baker’s cookbook Everyday Cooking. I want to eat everything in this book, especially her recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bread. Yup. You read that right  😉

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What I am absolutely over: Choices for White House appointments/jobs who have absolutely no qualifications for said job, but get said job anyway. I can’t even…

On the healthy living front: I did really well exercising this month until the last week of March. Ugh, so annoying. But the good thing is, is that I recognize that it has been a week since I worked up a sweat and I am getting back into my routine. Older = wiser, right?  😉

On the minimalism/decluttering front: If you remember, I mentioned that for the month of March I was going to declutter 3 separate areas of my home: the kitchen, electronic stuff (my computer), and the bathroom. Suffice to say, I accomplished my tasks! Guys, I actually have ONE EMPTY DRAWER in my kitchen!!!! *cue squealing* I love that one empty drawer. I refuse to let anything get in its recesses again!

I also unsubscribed from emails that I no longer want to receive, and blogs that I no longer want to read. Mission accomplished.

And as for the bathroom, icky nail polish, expired medication, and make-up that has probably seen better days, has all gone in the rubbish bin.

All in all, March was a very productive month and I am looking forward to getting some more things accomplished. I’ve got momentum, y’all!!!

By the way, all my pictures in this post are from my Instagram account. Come say hi!  🙂

How was the month of March for you? Did you get in any decluttering?

10 Random Facts Tag

This post originated, as least for me, with Reynolds Made and her post. Go check out hers!

So here are some random facts about the blogger behind Organic Butterfly, also known as yours truly  🙂

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1) I hated my name when I was a child. When we were in school and learning to write our names, everyone else with shorter names were always finished first (the Ann’s and Sara’s, I am looking at you) and here I am still on the letter “z”. And also, you want to fit in when you are younger and it was just super annoying to have my name. But now, I love my name!! ♥

2) I saw Aerosmith in concert when I was 17, which was a million years ago it seems like. It still holds up as one of the best concerts I have ever seen in my life. Seeing “Dream On” performed live, right in front of your eyes, is seriously something I will never forget.

3) I didn’t learn to swim until I was 11 years old. Why so long of a wait, I have no idea. I probably saw the movie Jaws one too many times, lol  🙂 But once I learned how to swim, you couldn’t keep me out of the water!!!

4) I worked in a home improvement store throughout college. To this day, whenever I have to go to one of those stores, I still feel like someone will ask me what aisle plumbing fixtures are on.

5) Still to this day, I love Nancy Drew books. They remind me of being a kid during summer vacations, and if I wasn’t outside playing till the sun went down, I was reading Nancy Drew.

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6) I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications but if I could go back and do it all over again, I would have majored in either English or History. Those two subjects are still to this day, my favorite reading topics and to be honest, jobs I have had haven’t cared what my degree was in; they just wanted a college graduate, so there’s that…

7) I have 3 tattoos. And I want more  🙂

8) I drink coffee like nobody’s business, but I also am a huge tea drinker. Everyday, people. Every. Day.

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9) Santa Barbara, California is one of my favorite places. It is so beautiful  🙂

10) I can make a meal out of chips and salsa. Hey, if there’s guacamole, that’s just added protein  🙂

So there you have it. Random tidbits about your truly. Let me know some fun things about you!

When Organizing Stops Working

The season of warmer weather is starting to beckon us fragile souls, in need of some Vitamin D and a yearning for shoes other than boots. With this need, also comes the need to clean, organize, declutter, and/or purge. I too, am minimizing parts of my space and have already rid our home of needless things.

But there is a difference between tackling a few spaces that have become unruly, and organizing the same things over and over.

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If you feel like a hamster in a hamster wheel, just spinning and spinning, and organizing and organizing and feeling like it is Groundhog Day and you are sorting out the same space/things over and over again, well maybe this quote might help you:

“If organizing your stuff worked, you’d be organized by now”. -Courtney Carver

Courtney dropped the mic, amiright?  🙂

But seriously, think about that sentence for a quick moment. If organizing your stuff worked, you would be organized by now. Wow. Is organizing all of your stuff working for you? Do you feel overwhelmed? Does the thought of going to the Container Store to purchase containers to hold your stuff, send you into the panic zone?

Well maybe, just maybe, there might be too much stuff for you to deal with. Maybe all that organizing and re-organizing is sending you a clear signal that minimizing might be in your future.

Speaking from experience, it is no fun to spend an entire weekend, every few months or so, organizing all the things. Having less frees up your space, but most importantly, it frees up your time! More time to do what you really want instead of cleaning out a garage full of items that you can’t even remember putting in there. More time in the day is something we would all love to have, right?

If you had less stuff to clean/keep track of/maintain, and you now had a windfall of time, time to do what you really wanted to do, what would you do? Take a painting class? Learn to bake? Finish that book that has been sitting on your nightstand? Finally getting around to planting a vegetable garden?

Are your things preventing you from living the life you really want to lead?

If you need help answering this question, no problem! We’ve all been there!  🙂 These books might help:

The More of Less by Joshua Becker

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

Don’t let the things you own, end up owning you! Live the life you really want to live

 

 

 

 

Essentialism: A Book Review

This book my friends…this book gave me all the feels ♥

Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is an absolutely outstanding book. Absolutely. Outstanding.

I know this book and the brilliance of it, has been floating around in the personal finance and minimalism blogospheres. I personally first heard of it through The Minimalists and they mention this book quite a lot in their podcasts, so I thought I would give it a go and see what all the hype is about. There must have been quite the hype because I had to wait three weeks to be able to check it out at the library as there were already a queue full of eager readers also waiting to get their hands on McKeown’s book.

“Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It is about getting only the right things done”.

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Basically, we as human beings need to filter out what is not essential in our lives and stop trying to do everything because guess what? We cannot do everything. I repeat. We. Cannot. Do. Everything.

Burnout and running on the hamster wheel, constantly juggling this that and the other. Overwhelmed. No time to do what we would really like to do. Multi-tasking until we collapse in a heap at the end of the day.

Sound familiar?

McKeown espouses that “by forcing us to apply more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less, empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy- instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us”.

Control our own choices sounds amazing doesn’t it? It may seem like we control what we think or do, but how many times have you made a decision out of guilt? *raises hand slowly*

Guilt is a powerful emotion. We give in and say yes to something we really, really don’t want to do, because we feel guilty. We want to avoid conflict or avoid tension. Maybe we felt timid in saying no. Whether it is to a family member, a colleague, a friend, your child, etc… It can be difficult to discern what we should be saying yes to, and what we should be saying no to as well.

“The very though of saying no literally brings us physical discomfort. We feel guilty. We don’t want to let someone down. We are worried about damaging the relationship. But these emotions muddle our clarity. They distract us from the reality of the fact that either we can say no and regret it for a few minutes, or we can say yes and regret it for days, weeks, months, even years”.

Let that sink in for a minute.

We say no, we regret it for a few minutes. We say yes, and regret for days, weeks, months, or even years.

How many times have you felt like this? The guilt? The relationship with the person that you are thinking about saying no to?

I have been there many times. You see, I am an introvert but I am also a mother. So I feel guilty when there are things that other moms ask me to join or help out with or can I do this one thing, and my first inclination is to say no. But then I feel guilty because I know these moms and our kids are friends, and then…I have suddenly spiraled into feelings of antipathy, guilt, and awkwardness. And many times, I give in and do the thing that is being asked of me even though the introvert in me is wondering why we aren’t at home basking in our aloneness.

And when I do give in, I feel regret. As McKeown states in his book, this is totally normal.

“After the rush comes the pang of regret. They know they will soon feel bullied and resentful-both at the other person and at themselves.”

Yes! I have totally felt that. And then to make the downward spiral even more unappealing, I feel bad for feeling that way, and I just end up a mess.

McKeown says to pause for five seconds before agreeing to something which can “greatly reduce the possibility of making a commitment you’ll regret”.

You want to know something interesting? Soon after I read this book, a friend asked me to work on a project with some other people and it was not something that I felt absolutely comfortable with. I took a moment and paused gracefully, and I said…

No.

I said no, I couldn’t believe it! Me, the guilt-ridden introvert, said no! I was proud of myself and realized later, that what McKeown said was absolutely spot-on: I regretted for a few minutes that I was unable to help said friend with their project, but that feeling soon dissipated and I knew that if I had agreed to said project, I would have truly regretted it in the long run.

I could wax poetic about this book for several more paragraphs but I believe you get the gist of what Essentialism is all about  🙂

Some tidbits to keep you going:

*Cut out the non-essential so you can focus on what is essential.

*Filter out what is important and what is not. Don’t get caught in the cycle of “decision fatigue” (the more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates).

*The real question is not how can we do it all, it is who will get to choose what we do and don’t do. When we forfeit our right to choose, someone will choose for us.

Have you read Essentialism? What did you think of it?