The last week of April was a bit of a hot mess here. Sean was out of town for a couple days taking care of his grandfather, we were in the middle of our biggest bundle launch to date at Ultimate Bundles, Lucas and Jackson both had colds, and we were preparing for a month in Florida.
It’s fair to say that there was a bit of poor planning at play, as well as circumstances conspiring against me, and by the end of the week, I knew I couldn’t handle a repeat of that…ever.
As I considered what needed to change with my work schedule in order to prevent a repeat, I realized that I’d been heading back toward workaholism for a few months and there were some bigger changes that needed to happen. I shared a bit more about those already, but I also found myself reading books about intentional living and parenthood, not so much in the hopes of having a huge epiphany as wanting to remind myself of the principles I already knew in order to identify where I’d gone wrong.
I still haven’t made it through the stack of books that I started with this goal in mind (and I’ve added a couple of more in the meantime), but the ones I’ve ready so far have already had an impact on me. There are a few more specifically about parenting (a genre of book I don’t typically read) that didn’t quite seem to fit on this list that made a difference as well, so I’ll share more about those later!
I’ve known Alli Worthington since the very beginning of both of our online careers, and I knew she had been on a similar journey as my own—to burnout and back—so I was anxious to read her words. Breaking Busy was the first book I read out of the stack, and I found it encouraging but not preachy, like sitting down with Alli over coffee. It helped me to refocus my priorities and embrace the right kinds of busy while letting go of the need to “do it all.”
“Embracing the season of life we are in and the limitations that come with it helps us break busy and live life at a saner, more sustainable pace.” ~Alli Worthington
Find the Good is a series of essays about the people in a small town..as told by the local obituary writer. I loved the title and cover so much because it epitomizes the kind of person I want to be, but it’s really just a series of nice stories, and short stories aren’t my favorite, so I’m making slow progress.
Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin
I love Gretchen Rubin, but the mixed reviews on Happier at Home kept pushing it to the bottom of my to-read pile. When I saw Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy give it high marks, though, I picked up the audio book to go with my Kindle edition, and I’ve been making my way through it—sometimes at night on my Kindle and sometimes on my morning walks. While it’s not my favorite Gretchen Rubin book, I find it both encouraging and practical!
The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow: Simplify, Embrace the Chaos and Find an Abundance of Time at Home by Shawn Fink
I almost abandoned The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow in the first chapter because it came across as super preachy and judgmental to me, but I stuck it out, and—thankfully—the author’s tone changed after the intro. That said, I feel like there is a bit of personality at play in many of the suggestions she made, and a lot of them I just read and discarded immediately because they’re not a fit for me or our family. It was this book, in part, that inspired us to institute family meetings, though, so I’m definitely glad I read it!
The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau
Chris Guillebeau first began blogging about his quest to visit every country in the world, and while it’s not a goal I’d set for myself, I’ve always found both his travel hacks and his approach to life inspiring. Although I haven’t started it yet, I’m excited to read The Happiness of Pursuit, which talks about the power of a personal quest and how it relates to happiness and personal satisfaction.
The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction by Adam S. McHugh
I just happened across this book the other day, but I loved the subtitle (Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction) so much that I went ahead and got it. The truth is I live distracted a lot of the time, and I appreciate that The Listening Life is not just about the power of listening in everyday life but also how listening relates to our spiritual health.
“Listening is a practice of focused attention. Hearing is an act of the senses, but listening is an act of the will. In listening you center not only your ears but also your mind ,heart and posture on someone or something other than yourself. It is a chosen obedience, like soldiers falling into line the moment their commanding officer calls them to attention.” ~Adam S. McHugh
Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.
The principle of margin is one I’ve talked about often, so I almost didn’t purchase this book when it showed up in my wishlist on sale. However, I typically think of margin only in terms of time, while Richard Swenson talks about it in relation to emotions, our bodies, finances and more, so I’m anxious to read what he has to say in Margin!
Sally Clarkson is an incredibly encouraging speaker and writer, and her approach to motherhood is one that I can only dream of emulating. I’ve heard wonderful things about Own Your Life, and the tagline—Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love—speaks to the kind of life I want to live, so I’m anxious to read it!
Hamlet’s BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age by William Powers
When it comes to my phone, I tend to swing wildly between two extremes—when I don’t have my phone, I don’t miss it at all (except for the ability to take photos!), but when I do have it, I can’t seem to help but pick it up distractedly every few minutes. I’ve had Hamlet’s BlackBerry on my to-read list for a couple of years now, and I’m hoping it offers some insights or inspiration to help put my phone in its place for good!
Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford
Rachel Macy Stafford’s first book, Hands Free Mama, is a wonderful manifesto about intentional motherhood. Like Savoring Slow, there were parts of it that I discarded as not a great fit for us (she talks about not working on the computer in front of her kids, a principle I vehemently disagree with), but I’ve been looking forward to reading and listening to this one for several months now!
What books have you read that have helped you live more intentionally?