Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig | Book Review

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“The societies we live in are increasingly making our minds ill, making it feel as though the way we live is engineered to make us unhappy. When Matt Haig developed panic disorder, anxiety, and depression as an adult, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in both positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet collects his observations, taking a look at how the various social, commercial and technological “advancements” that have created the world we now live in can actually hinder our happiness. Haig examines everything from broader phenomena like inequality, social media, and the news; to things closer to our daily lives, like how we sleep, how we exercise, and even the distinction we draw between our minds and our bodies.”

“I sometimes feel like my head is a computer with too many windows open. Too much clutter on the desktop. There is a metaphorical spinning rainbow wheel inside me. Disabling me. And if only I could find a way to switch off some of the frames, if only I could drag some of the clutter into the trash, then I would be fine. But which frame would I choose, when they all seem so essential? How can I stop my mind from being overloaded when the world is overloaded? We can think about anything. And so it makes sense that we end up thinking about everything. We might have to, sometimes, be brave enough to switch the screens off in order to switch ourselves back on. To disconnect in order to reconnect.” ― Matt Haig, Notes on a Nervous Planet

This book was my first by Matt Haig and I found it very engaging. I love how he normalizes mental health issues but also asks such thought-provoking questions within his writing. I won this in a Goodreads giveaway and devoured the short chapters which led to very interesting conversations with my friend who also was reading the book at the same time.

The chapters are short and quick and so it is a book that is easy to take in a little at a time. I love the importance he places on true connection with each other. Some of it was a little “out there” but I do agree that technology has changed the ways we interact and connect with one another and he had some powerful reminders and perspective about this.

What’s On My Nightstand Series | Book Recommendations & More | Genevieve

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I have been very inspired by the New Year and I love using it as a reflection time of what worked last year and also what I might like to implement during this next year. I have been thinking that I really would like a regular series on here that show you not just what I am reading and loving but what my some of my friends and reading buddies are up to.

I love seeing what people’s everyday spaces look like. I am not talking about house inspiration in magazines or on Pinterest but really what people’s home look like when they live there. If this is something that fascinates you too then I think you will find this interesting.

I love making book suggestions but I also think it is helpful to see other perspectives and genres and I thought this might be a fun way to do this and also share a little more variety. I am going to share mine below and I have some friends lined up to share in the next couple of weeks. If you would like to be a part of this (and I would love that!!) please send me a message or leave a comment below.


The Nightstand Series Intro:

I am Genevieve and I live in Vermont with my husband, our two sons and our Springer Spaniel named Buzz. I am a photographer for my job and photography is also one of my very favorite hobbies. I have been a reader all of my life but really got back into it again once both of our kids slept through the night a few years ago…I love reading fiction, memoirs, self-help and personal development books the most. I primarily read on my Kindle but I love hard copy books and I will never stop buying them.

What’s on my nightstand for books:

On my Kindle: I am currently reading an advanced reader copy from NetGalley of Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood and I am loving it so far! I am enjoying her writing so much that I took out a copy of her book Rust & Stardust on my Libby App to read next. I always like having a plan for my next book even though it doesn’t always go as planned.

Hard Copy Books: I love to have books on my nightstand. It is a mixture of ones I just love a lot and like to look at (I am looking at you Brene Brown!) and ones I am planning on reading in the next month or so.

A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne. This was was my Book Of The Month selection for November. I got this before I read The Heart’s Invisible Furies and now I want to read it even more. But I also want to wait because I don’t want to compare the two, so I am trying to find the right balance…

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy by Kelly Jensen. I think books like this are so important to help normalize what so many people deal with everyday.  I am so glad there there is so much more awareness of mental health issues now even compared to 5 years ago.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. I read this in December it and it was AMAZING. It is story telling at it’s finest and shares the life of Cyril Avery, both the peaks and the valleys and how life can really come full circle. It was such a satisfying read and is a book that I know I will never forget.

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) by Brene Brown. This is one of my very favorite self-help books and it was life changing for me. Brene talks about and vulnerability and so many important things that a lot of people feel but don’t always want to discuss. She is real and honest and has impacted me in such a big way.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and it is the perfect time of year to read it. This will be released at the end of this month in paperback so I am hoping to read it soon so I can do a review!

What else is on my nightstand: 

I wear contacts and hardly ever wear my glasses which I really should be better about. Anyway, I am nearsighted so I mostly just use them to watch TV once we are in bed, and I don’t watch a lot of TV so they are usually just sitting there looking quite dusty…

I have to have a cup of water on my nightstand and it always has to be full before I go to sleep. I love using tumblers and I have had great success with the Simple Modern ones and this Hydroflask one which I found at Homegoods.

I love this table “tray” (I am not sure what else to call it) because it is quite heavy and so it doesn’t slip around at all. It is a great place to put smaller items that would normally fall off and get lost under our bed.

I only take one kind of medicine and for a while I could never remember if I had taken it or not… Finally I realized that that is probably what these weekly pill containers are for (besides just traveling) and all my problems went away. I fill it on Sundays and I have it on my nightstand because I know I will see it as soon as I wake up. I have a terrible memory anyway but I feel like I am the worst in the morning because there is so much to do before we leave for school at 7:30am. Now if only I got that doormat that says “did you turn off your hair straightener?” I would really be all set!

I have already talked on here about my love for Laneige lip balm(or as they call it, a sleeping mask) but i will say it again, this stuff is the best! It lasts forever, doesn’t have a strong flavor and it works so well. I use it every night and I use The Burts Bees tinted lip balm in red dahlia or rose during the day.

My jewelry dish is a soy sauce bowl (I think) but it works great! I like to take my rings and jewelry off when I am cleaning or sleeping so I like to have a specific place I put them because I would definitely lose them otherwise…

I always like to have a spare bookmark because I will totally fold the pages over otherwise and I know that makes some book lovers just cringe!

I hope you enjoyed this random glimpse into my life. ❤

Wednesday Randomness | Reflections & Mantras of 2018

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I am not a big New Year goal setter or resolution maker but I am big into reflecting on things. I think we can learn so much from what we go through and often the hardest situations can teach us the biggest and best lessons.

This year was a hard one and one that pushed me in ways I never expected. Mantras are a newer thing for me but something that have helped me so much in times where there was a lot of sadness and unknown. I struggle in times of transition and times when things are out of my control. Having mantra has helped ground me and have been great reminders when my worries and thoughts feel really heavy.  I love Pinterest for inspiration for this stuff and that is where I found all of these…


Some things I have learned in 2018…

I would rather make mistakes than not put myself out there at all. I am not a perfectionist but I certainly struggle with worrying about what other people think of me and what I am doing. Letting go of this is a work in progress but staying true to myself and knowing that that is enough has been very powerful. When you make mistakes it means you are out there doing something. Some of my biggest “failures” and challenges have lead me to some of the most wonderful things in my life.

I have tried to let go of negativity. Putting my energy towards the people and things that are positive has helped create more of that. It sounds simple but you really can choose where your energy goes. It doesn’t mean that hard things won’t happen, but you do have control over how you react and move forward. I have SO many positive people and things in my life and focusing on these has really been a game changer.

As a people pleaser, not overthinking things does not come easily for me. I wish I didn’t care so much but I do. Sometimes when I overthink things I get so stuck in the “what ifs” that I don’t do anything at all…which was one of the reasons it took me so long to start this blog. I was thinking so much about it when I just needed to start! It is really freeing to just make a decision and move forward. If things don’t work out, you make another decision and you move forward again. I am a planner by nature and its hard for me to take things step by step but it makes such a huge difference.

You make time for what you want to fit in and everyone has different priorities for this. I can do a lot of things, but I can’t do everything. I have worked on feeling in control about what I choose to prioritize and not getting stuck in what I don’t. This has also helped me when I see someone else doing something and wonder how they fit it in. We all make choices about how we spend our time. Again, this has been such a empowering mindset and lets me feel like I have authority over my days and weeks instead of them controlling me.

Looking back really helps me realize how much we learn and grow every single day. I don’t know what 2019 will bring but I do know that when you know better you do better. I want to appreciate the wonderful people around me. I want to recognize the good because there really is so much. I want people to feel heard, when they are happy or excited and also when they are scared or worried. I want to say yes to the things that really matter to me and say NO to things that don’t feel good. I want to keep sharing about the things I love, and I also want to be honest about the things that are challenging. Life is so much better when we are all in this together. ❤

 

Overcoming Overwhelm: Dismantle Your Stress from the Inside Out | Book Review

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I was very excited to read this new release by Samantha Brody because I am in a stage of life where I often feel pulled in many different directions. This book was exactly what I needed and had such a wonderful overview of why we feel stress and also a plan that can help minimize the feeling of daily overwhelm.

Brody introduced her reader to the idea of overwhelm being a bucket. In this bucket there are things you can’t change, things you can change and things you don’t want to change. Everyone’s items in their bucket will be different and there isn’t a right or wrong answer. With this concept, Brody wants you to have the understanding that what you choose to change (or not) and what is out of your control entirely, is able to help you have acceptance over what takes up your time, space and energy. The power is in your hands.

“There is a sweet spot where our choices line up with our values and health goals. When we are in our sweet spot, we wake up feeling the best that we can possibly feel mentally, psychically and emotionally. We feel confident in our choices, we have the energy we need to care of ourselves and to be there for the people we love.”

Brody shares that while this is the goal for all of us, how we can get there can be different. She asks the reader three important questions…

What do you want to be?

How do you want to feel?

What do you want to do?

Once you answer these questions, she wants you to establish a mental and logistical foundation for how you will reach these feelings and goals. She asks what your support system is and how do you best make changes. Finally, she looks at your foundational mindset. She reminds the reader to remember their power, and that they are not at the mercy of all the things that happen in their lives. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges and difficult circumstances, but rather there are always things you can do to lighten your load…which include:

Believing in yourself.
Being judicious and not taking on too much at once.
Being the author of your life.
Being realistic.
Being kind to yourself.
Being flexible-having an open mind/open heart.
And most importantly…being yourself.

She takes a well-rounded look into her readers whole self, by asking questions about physical, mental and spiritual health, their environment, community, habits, and lifestyle.

This book inspired me to take proactive steps so I can be more mindful the decisions I am able to make myself and reminded me of the power I do have about how I react to things that are not in my personal control. Brody gave not only useful but also very practical advice that I could use right away. I found her ideas to be inclusive, no matter where you fall on the scale of more natural medicine vs. traditional medicine and I appreciated that aspect.

A big thanks to NetGalley and Sounds True for providing me with a copy of this book, all opinions are my own.

Wednesday Randomness |The Balancing Act

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Have you ever been in a stage where you felt like you had to “do it all?”.  I have definitely been there, and although there certainly are life stages where this has been more challenging, I have found more recently that sometimes, less really is more.

One of the biggest things that has helped change this for me is being okay with “good enough”. And to do this, for some things, I have just lowered my standards. This may sound simplistic but it really has helped so much. In order to give 100 percent to the things that really matter to me and our family, other things are sometimes dropped.

There was a time when I tried to juggle too many things, and what happened is nothing really got done well at all. A few months ago I read Stretched Too Thin by Jessica Turner. While not all of the chapters were totally applicable to our situation, I found some of it to be so helpful and affirming to this idea.

“The best advice I was ever given was to imagine that my life was a juggling act. Only some of my balls are glass and some rubber. I can drop the rubber balls and pick them up later and they aren’t any different. However, if I drop a glass ball, they are broken forever—no matter how hard you try to fix it. The key then is to determine which balls are your glass balls.” -Jessica Turner 

Prioritizing the things that really matter to me and our family and not worrying so much about the other things has helped so much. And what is important to me, might not be something that is important to someone else, and that’s the great thing about it. This has been a game changer for me, and also something that has helped clear my mind of clutter which often resulted in extra worries and pressures that I was really just putting on myself.

Determining what my glass balls were was the first step. Like many people, the physical and mental health of myself and our family is a top priority, although how we get there might be different. This past year was my first time being back to work “full time” and I had a lot of apprehension about how I would manage those demands while also meeting the needs of our family and my own self. I could look at it like I had “less time” or I could see it as just needing to “manage my time” differently. I chose the latter and it made all the difference.

I am an early riser so during the seasons where my work is full time I would work for a couple of hours in the early morning so I could still prioritize taking a break during the work/school day to exercise or go to a therapy appointment. These things are important to me, so I made them a priority in my schedule. I also do a lot of my editing on the weekends so I am able to work around the kid’s schedules. I combined seeing a friend while also completing an errand so it was getting two important things “done” at the same time.  Have you ever gone grocery shopping with a friend?! It’s really an amazingly fun thing to do and you will feel like the best multi-tasker ever.

Things like laundry took more of a back-burner. We wash a load of clothes every night and that is a priority, but actually putting it away isn’t. We each have a basket that we separate the clean and folded clothes into and there are certain times of the year that we mostly just live out of these baskets. It works for us. During the busier times of the year, we have a pretty small rotation of things we have for dinner and it simplifies not only the planning and shopping but also our evening routine. Our kids have school lunch, every day. Not only does it make our lives so much easier but they are exposed to lots of new things that they might not be as eager to try at home.

I certainly don’t have all the answers but seeing how much control I really did have was such a freeing thing for me. It has also helped me when I see someone doing something and I start to go down the path of “how do they do everything they do and THAT?!” Everyone has priorities and everyone’s priorities are different. This not only makes me feel better about what I do but it also just helps me be happier for what my friends are doing and not having it just highlight my own insecurities. ❤

Small Animals: Parenting in the Age of Fear | Book Review

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Last week I posted a book discussion about Small Animals. I received a lot of feedback on my Instagram feed about how much this book connected with so many of its readers.  I finished this book last night and I have to say, it is one of the one most meaningful and thought-provoking books I have ever read about parenting.

Small Animals resonated so deeply with me. She shared the story with what happened with her son but also researched and explored the broader topic of how fear has become such a big part of how we parent in today’s society. Are we afraid to let our kids go out and explore, walk alone to a friends house or play at a park because we think something will happen? Or are we afraid because we are told we should be, and we might also be afraid of the judgments we might receive if we do? And what happens when we don’t let kids make some decisions, navigate the tricky waters of childhood friendship, and build their own confidence of “I did this!” by figuring something out by trial and error. Brooks presented a fascinating discussion about this topic and I will be thinking about this for years to come.

I also appreciated that Brooks was able to look at this from her place of privilege and how much this could impact not only the reaction but the consequences of one’s actions. Brooks walked us through her own story and also what played into her “lighter” sentence and I appreciated so much that she was able to have perspective about this and also share stories about other women who were not treated as humanely.

Another huge part of this book that I connected so much with what her discussion of postpartum anxiety. There is a lot of discussion about postpartum depression now and I am so happy that this is becoming something that is being “normalized” as it is something that affects many. There hasn’t been as much about postpartum anxiety and I don’t think I have ever read something that resonated so deeply for me. I suffered from crippling anxiety after the birth of our first son. Brooks shares so vividly and honestly about how the anxiety that began with her pregnancy spread and grew much stronger with the arrival of her son…

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There were many other aspects of this book that I just thought was so thought-provoking and important not just as a working mother myself but as a member of our society. I highly recommend this book and think anyone who is a parent or spends time with children would benefit from reading it.

Starting again…

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Almost 9 years ago, I started a blog. It was a completely different time on the internet, the days of which blogs were more like online journals and less like people trying to influence what you buy.

I was newly pregnant at the time and it was a way to document our daily life and my excitement about impending motherhood. Over time, it became one of the most helpful ways for to me connect with other moms when new parenthood looked a lot different than what I had initially expected.

To say the transition was challenging, would be an understatement.  I struggled immensely with the lack of sleep and the challenges of nursing all combined with significant anxiety. I often felt isolated being home with a baby who was upset a lot of the days (and nights).

I found my online connection with other moms going through this, a life saver.  It normalized my feelings, but also encouraged me to reach out for help. I am forever grateful for that community of people who supported me so significantly during a hard stage of life.

As time went on and our children grew older, it didn’t feel so much like it was my story to share online anymore, so I made the decision to stop blogging. Our stories were more personal and less about me and more about them as individuals.

Social media wasn’t anything like it is now. Recently I have struggled, just like many others with the comparison trap. The bright and cheerful photos when much of life doesn’t look like that. But I have also found that it can be a wonderful way to connect with others. I hope that by sharing again, both the highlights and the struggles, that it can be a way of connection once again.

I am excited to start blogging again.  My life looks so different than it did nine years ago and I also have learned so much. I am a reader, a photographer, an educator, a mental health advocate and someone who loves connecting with the people and world around me.  I hope to share a mix of these topics on this space and I am so happy you are following along. ❤
Continue reading “Starting again…”