Hello again! It’s been a while, yeah? After taking some much needed time off to reflect and relax over the holidays, I am so excited to be back writing today and am full of ideas for the year ahead. I know that a lot of people think New Year’s is cheesy, but I think it is beautiful. It’s a clean slate, a fresh start, a do-over. It’s full of possibilities and new life and a chance to begin again. Even better that January 1st is on a Monday this year – it’s like the ultimate new beginning.
Over the next few days I will absolutely get into a recap of our holidays and goals/all that kind of stuff for 2018, but today I want to start this year off on the right path by telling you about one of the ideas I had recently. It’s no secret that I read a lot of books. Books of just about any genre – biographical, murder/mystery/affair-type stuff, self-help (although I prefer to call them “life lessons”), spirituality, couldn’t be simpler beach reads, and historical fiction just to name a few. Lately I have been reading a lot of those “life lessons” books. I read them and get super into them and highlight them and take a ton of notes, but then what? They sit on my shelf, or if I really felt strongly about the book I will maybe purchase a copy for my mom or a girlfriend. That’s about it.
So as I was reading my most recent one, I started to think about what I could do with all this newfound-knowledge. I wanted to actually put it to work, rather than just allowing these words to sit on the bookshelf in my living room forever. And the idea for my Behind the Book series was born!
I am going to start off each month throughout 2018 by deciding on a book and which concept from it I want to live by for the next 30 or so days. Each week I will also bring up a concept or quote that falls under the main umbrella to “add-on” to the overall goal. And you might ask what is the overall goal? To put it bluntly, I say that my overall goal with this is to see if I actually notice a change in my quality of life from doing what these “self-help experts” say. I put “self-help experts” in quotations, because I see them as so much more than that, but I don’t know how to eloquently describe how much they have come to mean to me. These women (and a few men) that I have been reading for the last year or so have encouraged me to think differently than I ever have before, have encouraged me through difficult decisions, and have brought great joy to my life.
With all that being said, my book for January is Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. I heard about Brené through Oprah’s Super Soul podcast and through another of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist. Then my mom purchased the book from Target and gave it to me when she was through reading it (which, by the way, is one of my favorite ways to read a book – after someone else already highlighted it and took notes in it), and I blew through it in a weekend. It is fascinating, full of tough love, and is essentially about how to stand your own and be true to yourself and others in the midst of our world. Brené brings a refreshing twist to the correlation of being faithful and being honest that I so respect and appreciate. I encourage you to pick up a copy and see for yourself what she says, but the most powerful concept to me for this month is as follows:
“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”
She was able to put something into words that I have struggled to comprehend for as long as I can remember. I have always struggled to balance being alone and being with others. I oftentimes feel like others suck the energy from me, so I tend to retreat to being at home alone or with Chris as often as possible. It’s hard for me to own the fact that I don’t like the same things as a lot of the people I really like. It’s also hard for me to believe in myself enough to be authentic with the world and stand up for what I feel is true in a productive, civil way. Brené outlines four “elements” of true belonging that can help move us closer toward finding it in our own lives:
- People are hard to hate up close. Move in.
- Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.
- Hold hands. With strangers.
- Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.
I can interpret these practically into my own life in these ways:
- Make the intentional time to have a meaningful conversation with someone that I know or a complete stranger each week and try my hardest to listen more than I talk and understand their point of view, even if I disagree.
- Practice complete honesty in every single interaction I have.
- Place myself in as many situations as possible that expose me to the beauty of humanity and of real connection with other humans.
- Learn the balance between standing my ground and practicing compassion, all while honoring the desires of my heart.
My hope is that each week during January I can expand upon these ideas a little bit and push myself a little more – and I would love if you joined me! This book really stresses the importance of community and what a powerful tool it can be, so let’s test it out and see how it goes.
On a completely different note, I just want to let you all know how excited I am to re-boot this blog in 2018. Writing came to mean a lot more to me in 2017 than I ever thought it would, and I cannot wait to see where this goes over the months to come. To help fuel this hobby, I have also started to contribute posts periodically to my friend Kate’s blog – Fit + Faithful. You can find what I’ve written so far here and here, but check out the whole site – she has done a great job with it.
I hope that you have a great first day of 2018 and are able to remember that you (and I!) can make this year absolutely anything you want it to be. See you tomorrow. 🙂