the opposite of speed reading

the opposite of speed reading

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“Everywhere there are doors leading to new spaces and new stories and new secrets to be discovered and everywhere there are books.”
~from The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

There are days when I wonder if Carl knew what he was subjecting himself to when we married.

There are the days when a casual walk through our home is marked by a trail, a gathering of books I am currently reading. Each book blending into the landscape until I scarcely realize the sum.


However, over the last year when my life felt tangled and out of sync from aging, mounting stresses at work and dealing with chronic pain, I reaffirmed my shift to living more simply and slowly. My affection for books didn’t diminish but I grew weary of seeing books scattered everywhere. The physical clutter caused me to feel anxious by the vast quantity of literature surrounding me at all times.


Those who live with me, understand this is a slow process. I am not perfect but I am trying to rein in this habit and retrain my ways. It’s a delicate balance to keep order among the books I own and those retrieved from the library.


Two months ago, I lassoed every stray book and took the weighty assortment to my downstairs workspace. Once assembled, I sorted those books into two piles. One pile represented library books that no longer interested me or were not the right timing and would be returned. The second pile was comprised of books I wanted to read, either my own or library owned. I cleared out a section on one of the shelves above my work table and separated library books from owned books. I attached small post-it notes with due dates along their spines.


Any book entering our home will first be placed on this shelf. From this collection, my reading material will come.


I hadn’t realized the weight I felt from having books, even those I was enjoying, spread throughout my spaces. All these unfinished books seemed akin to feeling indecisive and overwhelmed. My reading attention had become scattered and splintered. I was highly distractible. My digital habit of keeping my computer or phone tabs open morphed into countless bookmark usage. After all, I am surely capable enough to read a book, catch up on Netflix with Carl and text a friend simultaneously.


This year, I am endeavoring to read one book at a time. Well, to be honest, one fiction and one non-fiction book at a time. I have also decided to no longer set goals related to the number of books read in a year. My personality drives me towards speed reading instead of savoring the experience of a great book.

Maybe you haven’t read a book in years and have no concept of my issue.

Have you let magazines spill over the coffee table?


Surely you meant to take out a pen to complete the Sunday crosswords but watching each week’s edition cover the previous one leaves you discouraged.


It could be too many clothes to fit in your closet, so they “decorate” other areas of your home?

Are you afraid to open your inbox because the number of emails, unread or otherwise has reached staggering numbers?

Putting my overflow of books in their place and beyond my line of sight brought freedom. No longer am I letting my books manage me.

A small newly created habit where I scan the shelf, assess which books are due soon, which ones cannot be renewed for extra days and the books which have lost their luster for now. Then weed out books and decide which ones might be next in line. I leave the books in their appointed place unless it is time to bring one upstairs.

Since I am a mood reader with a capital M. My previous routine was to gather an armload of books when deciding on my next read, peruse the first few sentences or pages and whichever one captured my attention was the winner. Now I use the same method, but I don’t sit in my living room chair but before my work table. Nothing comes upstairs unless it is my chosen book, not a hopeful contender.


Like keeping a tidy home, tasks need to be done regularly.

To keep my mind tidy, I must be vigilant to not create piles of any sort.
Tidy up, my friends.

Once you finish, why not take 15 minutes and read a good book?


I am off to practice what I preach as I see a few stray books attempting to create a book stack. But here’s a peek at what I am reading now:

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The Next Right Thing
This book is about making decisions. I preordered it before I knew a big job-related decision was looming. I was completely undone with indecision and didn’t have the attention span to read this book. However, one of the bonuses for preordering was a video and workbook course called Discern and Decide. I spent most of one day and completed the course. A different medium helped connect the dots. Months later I was ready to make the decision to leave my job. There will always be decisions to make, large or small. I am hopeful reading this book will aid me to make my next decisions regarding work. The course is still available for a fee, it was immeasurably helpful to me.

The Starless Sea
I have been waiting for Erin Morgenstern to release a new book after loving The Night Circus more than eight years ago. Her newest book is beautiful inside and out and required restraint to delay reading until I had sufficient time to fully immerse in the richness of her storytelling. I have read the first 25 pages and by the time this post is published, I hope to have spent the weekend between the cover of a captivating book.

*****

I love this quote from James Clear’s most recent 3-2-1 newsletter:

Reading is like a software update for your brain.

Whenever you learn a new concept or idea, the “software” improves. You download new features and fix old bugs.

In this way, reading a good book can give you a new way to view your life experiences. Your past is fixed, but your interpretation of it can change depending on the software you use to analyze it.

This post is a part of the slow collection. Never miss future posts by subscribing to this blog. Email subscribers are always the first to read new posts and updates. Find details on the sidebar. I appreciate your readership.

housekeeping

housekeeping

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Yesterday I unloaded a trunk and backseat full of bags of clothing and miscellaneous
items to Goodwill. I am determined to unburden my home and life from having
so much stuff. To be honest, my closet is quite bare but to me, it is gorgeous.
Instead of a crammed full line-up of every shape and color of apparel, it now
has space to exhale. I mean. if clothes were to take a breath, it would be easy.
I however am breathing a welcome sigh of relief.
So I have been keeping my house and suddenly remembered,
I wrote this post more than a week ago and never finished
the editing or posting it, which from the title, it is easy to see
this topic has been on my mind.
Enjoy.

*****

It’s a new year for A Work of Heart.

I have enjoyed blogging in this space for the past 8 years

and although many speculate the future of blogs,

I plan to continue until I am obsolete!

That being said, I have been thinking a lot

about the look and  feel of this blog.

I have been reading a book about tidying up

and one of the many principles as it relates

to the “things” in our lives is to consider what

sparks joy.

Here is my attempt to tidy up my blog:

  • My hope is to add new content once a week.
    Unless I feel an undeniable nudge to
    post a blog series, expect to see one
    post at the most each week.
  • I love and appreciate your comments
    here on the blog and on Facebook. Please
    do check back if you have left a comment
    as I do reply.
  • Occasionally a friend will email me and tell
    me about ads appearing below a given post which
    are offensive. This bothers me on many fronts
    but especially since I have a few young readers.
    I will be changing my site soon.
    I have wanted to move away from a free site
    for years but haven’t taken the plunge mainly
    due to some of the nightmares I have heard
    other bloggers experience…mainly losing
    subscribers.
  • One of the ways I hope to not lose any one
    of you precious followers is to
    begin a quarterly newsletter. If my blog site
    change was not seamless and I lost anyone
    in the transition, I could easily contact you
    by newsletter.
    My newsletter would contain material not
    found on the blog so it would be special 🙂
    Would you be interested?
    Be on the lookout for sign-up information
    soon. Don’t you love the vagueness of the
    word “soon”.
  • I continue to be extremely grateful for each person
    who reads this blog.
    I appreciate those who have faithfully read
    for years and the new readers who
    have recently starting following this blog.
    I am closing this post with several
    posts newer readers may have missed
    and  some of the most read posts of the
    past year you might want to revisit.wpid-20150120_154626.jpg

A Work of Heart history
(grab a cup of something hot and
learn what makes me and this blog tick.
If you read nothing else of this series,
read the last post…it’s my heart cry
for this blog.)

My most read post of 2014

How I am learning to exchange a 
death grip for a looser one on my
children

Detours can take you on the best trips

Encouragement while you wait

Disappointments are real and 
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups 
are really good. How I am trying
not to introduce the two anymore.

What I learned in 2014

Wherever the clutter resides in

your life,

may you find courage to hold

onto what brings joy and release

what brings you grief.

Releasing  clutter from your life

may be as

simple as changing your

mindset.

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non-negotiables

non-negotiables

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The Portland Trailblazers playoff game against the Houston Rockets

went into overtime, pushing our “required” viewing of

The Good Wife until past bedtime.

I know, deeply difficult problems.

Monday morning would arrive sooner than we would desire

but despite this inevitability Carl and I began our routine.

I have discovered any morning but especially Monday morning

is made more manageable with a non-negotiable in place.

We always tidy our living room and if need be, our kitchen before lights out.

Most nights, I estimate the whole process takes less

than 5 minutes.

But those 300 seconds are key when faced with heavy-lidded eyes and bed

hair the next morning.

There are any number of routine things we do each day…

shower, brush our teeth, make our beds, or kiss our loved ones

goodbye as we part company.

It’s quite simple.

We put away what doesn’t belong in the space and straighten up

what should inhabit the surroundings.

(Oh the spiritual connotations in the above sentence,
but I will refrain to keep this post within 500 words. Sigh.)

A toss of the pillow here and a newspaper filed away there.

An empty mug is sent off to the dishwasher and ottomans

which earlier propped tired legs are stowed away.

Half read books may be closed or taken by the hand

to be consumed under covers.

We didn’t always have this routine in place.

We had years of babies and unbending schedules which

meant we didn’t waste a moment picking up the aftermath

of the day before limping towards our mattress.

Life remains busy but I never regret those few minutes

at night ushering me into the freshness of a new day.

I don’t have to clear a space to sit on a couch or chair

to read.

I’m not kicking plates full of the crumbs from the snacks

of a day ago.

In many ways it helps put yesterday in the past and

embrace the day presented before me.

We have never discussed this “ritual” but as Carl and I have

practiced it nightly, we have observed our kids observing

the same routine.

Well, most of the time, with the exception of discarded shoes!

All I know is it has become a non-negotiable part of our nighttime habits,

not in the way of a mandate but a pursuit aimed towards

drawing tranquility into a day not yet born.

Our desire for our home is to be a sanctuary of rest,

a haven of peace.

When pillows are fluffed and furniture is set right,

we walk into order and not chaos.

Let chaos ensue when we cross the threshold to

the world or get behind the wheel 😉

What non-negotiable actions do you practice which

deposits peace into your life?

Or is it time to add one into your days or nights?

This week, I am going to share a couple of my

non-negotiable habits that help me exhale deeper.

Happy last day of April and if you live in Portland,

you might think it is the last day of August,

there’s a mini heat wave brewing here!

What can you do in 5 minutes or less to 

enhance the day to come?

Do it!