Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How My Brain Got Fat

When I got to the campus bookstore in preparation for my final semester of college I could not believe the number of books that were required for just one semester.  That is a typical experience in college I believe, and being a Global Studies major I always tended to do quite a bit of reading for class.  But this time I had 25 books to read in just 15 weeks of classes.  I was screwed.

I did a lot of skimming in the weeks that followed, but for a girl who would normally read all day on the weekends for fun, that semester killed my desire to read.  Killed it.

It has been ten years since I graduated from university I can count on one hand the number of books I have read AND finished since I embarked on adulthood.  Which is sad, absolutely sad.

I'll be honest, I didn't make it a priority in my life.  At all.  I wished I could read all the great books people recommended to me, but I just always found other things to do after a day at work (like watch Friends for the 500th time).  I just got lazy with my education, with stretching myself.

One day, something changed.  Its as if my mind and heart woke up from a deep slumber and I was hungry for more than I had been giving myself.  My brain felt stagnant, almost like it had gained 20 pounds from sitting on the couch eating Oreos for a decade.  I once was so sure of myself and my beliefs and my feelings and over time I just lost all of it to business and laziness.  So many of my thoughts and feelings are here on this blog from years past.  I forgot about stretching myself that I had nothing worth sharing with the world for the last 5 and half years.  Wow.

But something clicked that one day.

And I knew I needed more.

I credit it to becoming a mom.  I was watching my daughter grow and all of a sudden I knew that I had to impart wisdom on her, but I didn't even know what wisdom was worth sharing anymore.  My thoughts were robotic and all repeated from someone else.  I felt had nothing genuine to give her.  And I knew the only way I could unleash myself and satisfy the hunger for the world was to start cracking open books again.  I love books.  I love the pages and underlining the sage advice from others who came before.  I have an e-reader, but I have found I'm not inspired by the words on a computer screen.  Probably because I sit in front of a computer all day at work.

Surprisingly it wasn't actual books that got me back and running again.  It was audio books.

I commute everyday for work, not long, but its still a commute and I have chosen to use that time to "read" books.  Some people have given me crap about this and said it doesn't count because I didn't actually read them, but that's dumb.  It counts.  Its been over a year since I started this habit, but I finally hit my stride at the start of 2017.  A few weeks ago I wrote down all the books I had finished since the start of the year and for just being the end of April, I was already finished with book seven.  SEVEN.  Maybe that is normal for you, or you read that many in a month.  But when you consider that I had read and finished maybe three books in the last 10 years, SEVEN in 4 months is pretty impressive.

I was shocked to say the least.  My shock turned to motivation, which caused me to wonder how many books can I read this year?  For 2017, my goal is to read and finish at least 30 books. This goal was not a New Year's Resolution, but I took something that I was already trying to be better at and said, "Hey let's keep this going."

So far this year I have read mostly fiction, but I have added in some non-fiction as well in the last month.  I am about to finish books 8 and 9, and 10 will follow shortly thereafter.

Yeah...I've gone nuts.  I'm reading three books at the same time right now.

I'm not ready to join a book club or anything, because you know that Howard motto "you can't tell me what to do."  But I have read some really good things so far this year, and if you have had a conversation with me in the last couple months I probably told you about one of the books I have found fascinating.  Right now the audio book I am listening to is probably my favorite so far.  I am enthralled with it...and its a book about time travel.  Which is not a subject matter that usually draw me in.  I think Chris Pratt should star in the movie.  But I digress.

It feels so good to be reading again.  Diving into books that expand my creativity, cause me to think about things differently than I ever have before.  And its just one way I am taking back my life from business and laziness (yes they coexist in my life).  Mostly its for me so I can figure out who I am as mom and wife and all the other labels I wear during a day.  But its kinda for my daughter too, so she can see how fun it is to learn and grow, no matter your age.

And you know what?  She recently discovered books too!  She has read way more than 7...actually we read that one book 7 times tonight.  Yup.


For Grins & Accountability, here is my current list for 2017:
1. Heaven by Randy Alcorn
2. Confessions of a Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler
3. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
4. The Red Tent by Anita Diamond
5. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
6. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
7. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
8. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
9. All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

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