What’s working for me in January

What’s working for me in January

How’s your January going so far? As much as I don’t like the cold weather months, I feel like January has been going as well as a super dark, freezing month in which the sun sets way too early and I barely ever go outside can possibly go.

We still have nearly two weeks left in this first month of the year, but I thought I would share a few things that are making it more bearable!

THE AUDIO BIBLE

Every year, I make the same resolution. And almost every single year, I fail to complete it.

I always start off the year with good intentions of reading the entire Bible in a year. Because of this, I have read the book of Genesis at least 35 more times than any other book of the Bible. ūüôā This year, I decided that maybe I need to take the same approach to reading the Bible that I take to other books. It’s very rare these days that I actually read a book. Instead, I listen to them! I actually listened to 17 books last year, which was good, considering my goal was 12.

I assumed that downloading the entire Bible on audiobook would be very expensive. I found the One Year Bible (NLT version) on Audible, and couldn’t believe that the entire thing was only one credit. (It downloads in seven parts.) In fact, to BUY the entire Bible¬†as an Audible member, the price was (hold on to your seat): $5.95. WHAT?!? Can you believe it?

OK. So, I’m not pretending to be a major Bible scholar here. Listening to the Bible on audiobook is definitely not a deep Bible study. But I totally enjoy reading it this way. The reader is really engaging and I love how he adds drama to many of the stories. (Plus, I don’t have to ponder how to pronounce any names.) There have been several days when I have found myself reacting with, “What?!” or “You have to be kidding!” as he reads the Old Testament stories. I often “read” when I’m driving or putting on my make-up or walking or even emptying the dishwasher.

TV SHOWS

I’ve also been spending more time on the treadmill this year. As long as I’m feeling well, I either walk or do the Couch to 5K running app every day. In order to do this, I had to break my two-year television fast. Come on! There is no way you can withstand the treadmill without a good TV show.

I recently finished watching, “Travelers,” which I totally enjoyed. I’m so sad that it’s over. Right after Christmas, I also watched the third season of “Broadchurch.” Both shows were just the right mix of mystery and suspense, without it being so over the top that I want to stay up all night on a Netflix binge.

Now that I’ve finished Travelers, I’m desperately trying to find another show to fill the void and help me wrap up week four of the Couch to 5K. Please, pleeeeaaaase give a girl some suggestions! I’m finding NOTHING that I like. (Don’t say, “The Crown.” I’ve tried. I’ve tried. I’ve tried. Can’t.)

MONK FRUIT

I need to write a whole blog post on food. I keep thinking about this time last year when I was barely surviving as I tried to do Whole 30. It’s amazing that I basically did Whole 30 for an entire year! I definitely feel a ton better this year than I did last year!

I didn’t eat processed sugar in 2017 (MOST of the time), but starting last summer, I allowed myself to have raw honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar. This January, I decided to cut out those¬†sweeteners, too, because my sweet tooth was getting out of control, and I gained a few pounds. A few weeks ago, I discovered monk fruit sweetener.

I’m still learning about monk fruit, but from what I’ve read so far, it’s supposed to be a zero-calorie sweetener that actually has health benefits. I don’t love it, but it’s nice to add a tiny bit of sweetener to things once in a while. Since it’s zero calorie, it’s working for me!

FLAVORED KOMBUCHA

Everyone I know has been posting on Facebook about how sick they have been this year with the flu. I know I absolutely should not post this, but so far, I haven’t been sick at all (other than from gluten). I am starting to think that drinking Kombucha everyday really is helping.

One of the health benefits of Kombucha is that it is supposed to improve your immune system. Some people even go so far as to say that it helps prevent cancer.

 

I’ve been brewing my own Kombucha for about nine months now, and I’ve really gotten the hang of it! I’ve been experimenting with new flavors using fruits and herbs during the second ferment, and the results have been amazing! Maybe I’ll write a whole blog post about this later.

QWIRKLE

A friend introduced us to the game, “Qwirkle” on New Year’s Eve, and I had to go buy one for our family. It’s one of those games that isn’t too long. It requires some strategy, but not TOO much thinking. It’s great for lots of ages. And we can play with our whole family. (I think the box says up to four players, but you can definitely play with six!)

NATURAL SKIN CARE

January is also the month when our skin takes a beating in the cold weather. I really focused in 2017 on transitioning to skin care products with natural ingredients. I have learned that just as I read the labels on the foods I eat, I also need to read the labels on the products I put ON my skin! I know a LOT of my friends sell all different kinds of skin care products, so I really don’t want to get into recommending anything here. But I’m just happy to have found some great all-natural products that make my skin feel great.

I’m also brushing my teeth with “My Magic Mud” toothpaste¬†(you can use this link to search for it on Thrive), which is made of activated charcoal and bentonite clay. So, there’s that. The toothpaste doesn’t have any fluoride, which many people believe can damage your thyroid. Oh, and just a warning… the toothpaste is black.

If you are interested in learning more about why these things are important, I got a lot of info from the book, Younger by Sara Gottfried.

A FEW MORE THINGS

Other things I’m loving this month:

Matcha green tea lattes (search on Thrive market)

Soup

Pompoms

My bullet journal

 

Did I mention Thrive market? (My order came today!)

and the book, “Sensible Shoes.”

 

So, what about you? I would love to hear what’s working for you right now!

 

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This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product through a link you clicked on here, I receive a tiny portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting everydaymom!

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My 2017 audiobook list and listening apps

My 2017 audiobook list and listening apps

For all of the ways I struggle with the temptation to spend too much time using my smart phone, one of the things I absolutely love about my phone is how it helps me read more books. My reading habits have changed dramatically the past few years because of how easy my phone makes it to listen to audiobooks.

I set a super attainable reading goal each year of getting through 12 books. But until a few years ago, I rarely made it, simply because I find it difficult to find the time to sit down and read. For the past two years, I’ve switched my reading to about 95 percent audiobooks. I easily fly through one book a month, and often I “read” more than that.

I love listening to audiobooks when I’m in the car. I also pop in my headphones when I walk to keep my brain moving along with my body. But one of my favorite things about audiobooks is how I can use them to motivate me to do other things. I often listen to a book while I’m folding laundry, loading the dishwasher or cleaning the house. Pairing the fun of listening to a book with a task I don’t necessarily love gives me added motivation to get things done.

My audiobook list and listening apps

So far this year, I’ve listened to 13 audiobooks. Before I get into the details of the books I’ve read, I will explain the reading apps that I use.

AUDIBLE

My main audiobook app is Audible, which is owned by Amazon. With my monthly subscription, which is $15 a month, I am able to download one book per month. Audible often offers special deals on extra credits for books, or I can pay full price to download a book (which I rarely do).¬† At first, I wasn’t sure Audible would actually be worth the price. But the thing I love about it is that I can get newly released books immediately before they are available through the library. I also don’t have to wait for books that are already checked out (as I will explain with my next two reading apps). Another benefit of Audible is that once I purchase a book, it’s mine. I have gone back many times to reference a book I read previously, which is something I can’t do if I use one of the other two apps I’m about to mention.

OVERDRIVE

This is the app that is used by many libraries to offer ebooks and audiobooks. I love the fact that I can check out a book from the library while we’re on vacation or driving in the car, download it and begin listening immediately. The downsides are: 1. They don’t have the selection that I can find on Audible, 2. I often have to wait for someone else to finish the book I want to download.

HOOPLA

A few months ago, I found an audiobook I wanted by searching my local library’s collection. But when I went into Overdrive to download it, I couldn’t find it. After much confusion and frustration, I actually had to walk into the library and talk to a real, breathing human being to unravel this mystery. Even the librarian was confused at first. But working together, we both finally discovered Hoopla. This is another app, similar to Overdrive, that is connected to your local library. Hoopla often has books that aren’t available on Overdrive. I’ve also found that if Hoopla has a book I want, it usually seems to be available. I’m guessing that (like me), not as many people know about it, so it’s easier to find a book there.

When I hear about a book I want to read, I usually look on Overdrive, then Hoopla. If I can’t find it there, I go to Audible and wait until I have a credit available so I can download it.

I always think it’s fun to look back at my book list from the year because it often tells a story of my personal journey during the past 12 months.

Here are the books I’ve made it through so far in 2017:

1. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
Believe it or not, I actually don’t love Jen Hatmaker’s writing style, but I did love the premise of this book. This book helped inspire me to do the monthly challenges I have taken on this year to live more intentionally.

2. Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig
I read this after I finished Whole 30 in January and as I was starting the AIP diet in February. It was like a friend encouraging me that I could do what I needed to do.

3. Little Things: Why You Really SHOULD Sweat the Small Stuff by Andy Andrews
This was a fun read. I will always think of this book when I peel a banana. (Read it to find out why!)

4. Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do by Chris Gillebeau
I’ve also started listening to his podcast this year. He gives great stories about people who have created successful “side hustles” to pursue their dreams and make extra income.

5. Primal Fat Burner by Nora Gedgaudas
I love learning about different views on how to eat better.

6. Wired to Eat: Turn Off Cravings, Rewire Your Appetite, and Determine the Foods That Work for You by Robb Wolf
I’m a huge follower of Robb Wolf, who is kind of the spokesperson for the Paleo diet. This book helped me gain a better understanding of insulin resistance and inspired me to do the seven-day carb test. After talking to my doctor about what I had learned, she did some tests, and I found out I’m hypoglycemic. Knowing this has helped me eat smarter to keep my energy level more stable throughout the day.

7. The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues by Patrick Lencioni
This is a great book that I read for my job. It is helpful to identify your strengths and weaknesses in leadership.

8. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Powerful autobiography by a neurosurgeon who was diganosed with an aggressive form of cancer at a young age.

9. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
I loved this book. It will inspire you to throw stuff away and refold all of your socks! Just read it.

10. Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back by Izabella Wentz
My health was obviously a big theme this year.

11. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
The only fiction book I’ve read this year or in a few years. It was totally worth the read.

12. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Great book to help me understand myself and other introverts. (I often fall right in the middle on introvert/extrovert tests, but I definitely crave my time alone to rejuvenate.)

13. Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
I’m actually only a few chapters into this one. It was recommended to me by several different people, so I’m looking forward to gaining some new insights on creativity.

Ohhh… I’ve actually read one book with my eyes this year, too!

14. Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul by Lance Witt
This is a great book for anyone in ministry. Our staff at church has been reading it together this year. It’s NOT available in audiobook! ūüôā

So, tell me about your reading habits. Do you love audiobooks? Or do you stick to actually reading? What’s your favorite reading app? What are some of your favorite books this year?

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What was your theme for 2016?

What was your theme for 2016?

I know a lot of people who start the new year with a word for the year. I’m always so inspired when I see the words people choose, and I have tried many times to do this. For some reason, I’ve never been able to look ahead and select one word as my focus¬†for the next year. One thing I do much better is look back and review the past.

As I’ve been thinking about 2016, my theme for the year was “seeking clarity.” I know it’s not one word. I wish I could say that my theme was “clarity,” but I’m not there yet.

When I think about what made 2016 unique, my mind automatically goes to Feb. 10. That was the first day of Lent, and the day that right in the middle of an episode of Alias on Netflix, it became clear to me that I needed to respond to the nagging in my heart to give up watching television shows.

The most positive side effect of this change was that I now had at least an hour a day, if not more, to pursue other interests. I started devoting more time to my creative hobbies. I discovered podcasts and started listening to shows that helped me in my spiritual walk and work life. I subscribed to Audible and began listening to more audio books. All of these things have had an impact on helping me seek clarity in what I love to do and what makes me unique.

For the purpose of this blog post, I want to focus on a few books that have made a big impact on my year and my theme of seeking clarity.

LIVING FORWARD

One of the first books I listened to this year was called, Living Forward, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. The book helps readers¬†identify the key areas of their¬†life and take an inventory of how they are¬†doing in each of these areas. The writers actually have an online assessment if you want to do that an¬†easier way. I remember sitting on the beach while we were on spring break in March, and going through the top 12 areas of my life. I wrote down how I was doing in each area and how I wanted to improve this year. I loved creating that baseline that I can look back on at other points to see how I’m progressing.

ESSENTIALISM

We’ve all heard the adage that “less is more,” and this book,¬†Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, helped me see how that applies to so many areas of my life. The author, Greg McKeown, helps readers think about the clutter that is keeping them from focusing on what really matters. This applies to all areas of life, but has been a great tool in my work life. Thinking this way helps me ask myself if I am doing tasks that someone else could do or focusing on the things that only I can do.

STRENGTHSFINDER

I read StrengthsFinder about seven years ago, and felt a need to go through it again this year. I was thankful that our entire staff at work actually went through it together. The book comes with a code you can use to take the StrengthsFinder test online. You also can take the test online for $15 without purchasing the book. Having greater clarity about my strengths, as well as those of my co-workers has been incredibly useful in helping me focus on what I do well, while asking for assistance in areas where I struggle.

HABITS

I have become a huge Gretchen Rubin fan this year. I read two of her books, and faithfully listen to her podcast. Happier at Home and Better than Before both focus on one of the topics I’m obsessed with in life: habits. Better than Before gave me a better understanding of some of the reasons we create habits and changes I can make to break bad habits. Happier at Home has transformed the way I think about each month. It inspired me to think about what makes each month unique, changes I can make to cherish the time and how I can set monthly goals.

OTHERS

A few other books that made an impact on my this year were Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg, who also wrote The Power of Habit. I also enjoyed Born for This by Chris Guillebeau and The Sleep Revolution by Ariana Huffington.

THE ROAD BACK TO YOU

I guess it’s fitting that one of the books that will conclude my year is The Road Back to You, which I addressed in my last two blog posts. This book has been huge in helping me understand not only myself, but the people I love most.

What about you? As you look back at 2016, did your year have a theme? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

(This post includes affiliate links to the books that influenced me in 2016.)

 

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why I quit TV and how I’m refilling my brain

why I quit TV and how I’m refilling my brain

 

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I don’t really consider myself a big TV person. It’s so rare that I actually turn on the one television set in our house, that when I do, I usually have to ask for help remembering how to find the right channel.

But in the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday (which was on Feb. 10), I was feeling increasingly convicted that I needed to give up watching TV shows during the 40 days of Lent. Despite my inability to make the TV work, I’ve started watching TV shows more than I would like to admit. It’s never in the standard form of actually sitting down in front of a big black screen at a certain time of day or recording something on some type of device.

Instead, for me, it was launching the Netflix app on my phone and binging on a commercial free TV series while I folded laundry or performed some mindless chore. That’s how it started anyway.

Then, it became my way of winding down before bed or vegging out after a hard day.

We all have our thing, right? That one thing we turn to so we can avoid thinking about something difficult. So we can just chill and relax. For some people it’s food or drinks. It could be drugs or alcohol. Chocolate or the Internet. Facebook or Twitter.

For me, watching TV shows was starting to become not just a distraction or entertainment, but an escape from real life.

As much as I didn’t even want to think of myself as a person who watched a lot of TV, I really, really, reallllly did not want to give it up.

I came up with lots of reasons why Lent is just a big legalistic tradition that I don’t even have an obligation to observe. But on the morning of Feb. 10, I was so convicted that I knew I didn’t have a choice. I deleted Netflix and any other TV viewing apps from my phone. I had gone to bed midway through an episode of Alias. But I knew that had to be it.

It’s always interesting to me how hard it is to start something new or stop something you’ve been doing for a while. I actually felt kind of jittery the first few days without any TV shows. It was almost as bad as giving up caffeine or quitting sugar. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my brain when I didn’t have the option to fill it with some quick entertainment. But after one week without TV, I feel like I’ve put my brain on a new exercise program.

Here are my results:

1. One of the main reasons I gave up watching TV is that I wanted to create more time in my schedule to read. Instead of reading the Bible or other books that could help me grow as a person, I was taking the easy road by consuming television. I’m happy to say I’ve been keeping up with our church’s Lenten Bible reading plan and reading more books than I have in a long time.

2. After a few days without TV, I couldn’t believe how much space I had in my brain! I didn’t realize that my mind wasn’t just occupied by a show while it was on. I continued to think about a plot line or character even when I wasn’t watching a show. Without it, I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about things that matter. I’ve been working on some planning that I needed to do. I’ve been much more focused.

3. Since giving up TV, I’ve rediscovered podcasts. I used to listen to a lot of podcasts, but I had quit during the past few years. It’s amazing how much that world has grown since then! I’ve been subscribing to podcasts like crazy lately, and I love filling my brain with positive thinking when I’m driving or doing housework. I’m only listening to podcasts with an inspirational or motivational message. So this has actually helped me expand my thinking, rather than dumbing down my brain and avoiding life like TV did.

These are some of my recent favorites:

This is Your Life with Michael Hyatt

James MacDonald: Walk in the Word

Communicate Church: A Fishhook Podcast

Craig Groeschel

Catalyst Podcast

Your Move with Andy Stanley

The Phil Vischer Podcast

With one week down in the 40 days of Lent, I really can’t believe how much better I feel. I’m not constantly distracted by wanting to find out what will happen next in some TV show. I’ve been filling my brain with more positive messages. I’m more focused and have¬† time to think, rather than using entertainment as a way to dodge the need to work through the issues in life.

What about you? Did you give up something for Lent? How is it going? Do you love watching TV? Have you listened to any good podcasts lately? I would love to know!

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