We’ve come to the end of another year and tbh I don’t know where the year went. However, I know much was accomplished. This year was a year of ‘first’ for me as I attempted to challenge myself and take risks that seemed ‘unlike’ me. I’ve set to step out of my comfort zone and learn to accept things that were out of my control. The book that helped me accomplish that was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert . Gilbert’s inspiring message on creativity and individuality provided so much honesty. What I enjoyed most was how practical and relatable her journey and advice was. Viewing creativity as its own being brings a sense of gratitude and familiarity in the creating process. Not having to conjure it but opening yourself so that it sense your willingness. It was truly inspiring and motivating to me as it led me to move forward in my career; leaving behind other peoples expectations.
Then paired with Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht, my momentum to change my lifestyle and step into my purpose deepened. Licht insider tips in her book elevates professionalism which are practical regardless of the field your pursuing. Her know-how of social media and within the fashion industry allows you to see instant repercussions of certain actions. The writing was down to earth and perfect in our sharing culture; knowing when to post, what to post, and where to post. Social media etiquettes made simple to show how certain posts can land you in the right places at the right time while others take you down a notch.
Moving forward with pursuing what you want, there’s this sense of accountability you start to crave. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin was able to provide a new perspective on our habits and how our personalities determine the results. Rubin’s book describes the mindset of mastering habits with a different set of guidelines. One of my biggest take aways is realizing that our personalities determine how we’ll respond to habit forming. In her book, it described four types of categories we fall into: Upholders- keeping deadlines, Questioners- needing information prior to accepting or starting anything, Obligers- accept and obey rules proven legal, and Rebels- who function outside of boundaries and restrictions.
This year, I’ve intentionally chosen to take actions that will help me embrace authenticity and simplicity. With each month, I learned something new about myself and the world around me. Some months were more real than others but the knowledge and strength gained were incomparable. The Life changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo was a great book to have learned about from one of my favorite youtubers Lavendaire. I was so intrigued I went down a rabbit hole researching Kondo’s method and I then discovered a few people praising this concept of Minimalism. Kondo’s book is a fresh method that is easily applicable; perfect timing since I was in the process of moving. Its true what they say ‘ clear space, clear mind’. I’ve come a long way from the beginning of 2016 and following Kondo’s methods of decluttering and organization made a big difference in what I allow to enter my life. After having to move around three times this year than leaving my corporate job it was a process that was necessary. I highly recommend her book if your looking for a fresh start.
The time spent searching for understanding and clarity allowed me to pursue new and old hobbies, invite new relationships and let go of detrimental ones, while also renewing my mind. Clearing items out from my space allowed me to truly free up time to say “Yes” to things I’ve wanted to do. The end of the year I was able to go to the beach with friends more times than I have in 5 years. I was able to attend holiday parties, baby showers, and birthdays without looming deadlines and the best part I was able to pick up reading for fun and met wonderful people who share the same love for books and enjoy the value they provide.
I participated in October’s #diversathon; reading books with diverse characters and authors not commonly praised mainstream. From that, my favorite books are The Vegetarian by Han Kang which was fitting since I still consider myself a newbie since becoming vegan two years ago. This story focuses on a young married woman living in South Korea who made a decision to stop eating meat based on a series of gruesome dreams. The story is told from the perspective of her husband, brother in law, and older sister; family members affected most by the transition.The slow writing upped the eerie factor but the message gathered regarding the impact our decisions have on others was still clear.
Another book I loved in the fiction genre had a similar message and that is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This story focuses on family, interracial relationships, expectations, grief, and death all jammed packed in this contemporary mystery. Another book told in multiple perspectives about dealing with decisions and their repercussions. The Chinese-American family in this story tries to find closure with the death of a loved one, trying to track who was the last to have contact, while finding balance and common ground through culture expectations. This one was a tear jerker and speaks up regarding stereotyping.
Last book I picked up the end of this month is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I don’t know what took me so long to read this. It was absolutely amazing and worth all the hype. A story that focuses on the generational timeline of two Ghanian half sisters who were separated during the beginnings of slave trading. Their fates chosen by their backgrounds; one sister married to an Englishman well known in the slave trading business and the other captured and sold to endure the struggles we’ve learned too well during those times. Homegoing was a perfect story to close this year with and enter 2017 with new understanding and purpose.
If you haven’t picked up any of these titles, they are certainly worth the time. My thirst for something new led, guided, and inspired me to continue on this path for next year; taking more risks and stepping out of my comfort zone.
Happy ‘Better’ Year!