May 31, 2016

Reading Can Be Grounding

Writing helps me be intentional. Reading keeps me grounded. It helps me remember the intangible things that matter. Personal stories, in particular, carry a contagious honesty in them that can heal and inspire. They remind us that we're not alone in our worries or experiences, that it's okay not to know all of the answers, be afraid, or hurt sometimes....and although life can get messy, it's still a pretty stinkin' awesome adventure. Some of my favorite author's of this kind are Donald Miller, Allison Fallon, Sarah Bessey, and C.S. Lewis. I've grown so much throughout the years from their insight.

That's probably why I'm so drawn to blogging. I love real, not so edited, stuff.

Reading can help develop mindfulness. "Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life" was one of those books for me. I read it during a time in my life when I was going on and off diets to lose the weight I put on when I meet my husband. After watching the scale seesaw enough times, I decided to pick up the book and give it a try...and it did more for me than any diet or fitness program ever could have. It helped me become more aware of why I ate what I ate, how I ate, and when I was eating. Have you ever noticed how fast you eat when you're anxious -- or how much chewing you actually get in per bite? The book goes into much more than that, but it asks a lot of questions like this to get you thinking about your eating patterns. I finally lost about 25 pounds last year given a lifestyle change and exercise routine. This isn't a sales pitch, though, and to be honest, I probably need to read the book again because I've put on a couple of pound since then. I'm just sharing how reading can help us live more mindfully. Scripture is another great one for this! It help us set our minds on things above and directs our anxious hearts to trust God when things are out of our control.

By tapping into our imagination, reading can also increase creativity. I personally love period pieces precisely because of this. I love to image how things could have been in the 1800s when there was less technology and more craftsmanship. One of my favorite novels is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It's a romance novel that depicts the redemptive story of Hosea so beautifully. I'm a sucker for symbolic books like Narnia and the Scarlet Letter, so I adored that aspect of it, but the story itself will keep you turning pages late into the night because it's just that good.

On the "speechie" side of things, I have to add that reading increases vocabulary and gives your brain a good workout if you're actively reading (thinking critically about what you are reading).

It's also a good way to find inspiration. I love getting interior design ideas from Dwell magazine and fitness tips from SELF magazine.

All around, reading is pretty awesome. I think most of us would agree, but it's hard to find time for it during the work week. That's one of the reasons why I'm looking forward to the summer. I have to stay purposeful about reading even when I have more time though because there's always something to do, whether it's laundry, sorting things around our place, looking into homes, or  planning for the next school year. It's also tempting to just pop in a movie instead,which I've done plenty of times....believe me, but it doesn't provide nearly as many benefits.

I'm currently reading Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. So far, I'm loving how Sarah tackles the tough questions most of us believers face in modern times. Her evolving faith is so comforting. I hope to read The Green Revolution by Ben Lowe and The Good Life by Hugh Mackay next. Hugh's book addresses what brings life fulfillment.  I fell for it right away after reading a review on it with his conclusion that "the good life is not the sum of our security, wealth, status, postcode, career success and levels of happiness. The good life is one defined by our capacity for selflessness, the quality of our relationships and our willingness to connect with others in a useful way." What an interesting perspective!

What have you been reading lately? Are you working on a summer reading list?

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