Inspiration: January 19

Every week on Friday, I share a list of the most interesting and inspiring content I’ve read lately here on my blog. You can expect thoughts on productivity, happiness, balance, spirituality, politics, and more. Subscribe here to get updates. See archives here.

Inspiration: January 19 >> Life In Limbo

Thank you for this reminder, Ann Friedman! Not every hobby is a side hustle, or needs to be, or should be. Your hobbies don’t need to make you money.

Introverts, it’s that time of year! Actually who am I kidding, it’s always the right time to cancel plans if you’re feeling too overwhelmed by life. Thanks to Girls Night In for writing some honest, awesome scripts for us.

One article on this topic was not enough for you? I present yet another guide to making plans that you actually want to keep and saying no to any plans that you don’t want to make. This one is super helpful too.

I like the idea that marketing just means being considerate to your people. Makes a lot of sense, and might make it easier for those of us who hate being too self-promotional. Remember that it’s *not* very considerate to make it hard to find out about you/see pictures of your stuff/find you online, etc.

Lately I have been really working on becoming a better plant parent, and I thought these were some good tips. Plus, the article’s photos are fodder for my plant addiction. Help.

Loved this article, which is all about the idea of protecting your time. My favourite takeaway was to switch from saying “I can’t do that” to “I don’t do that.”

This week I finished The Sellout and am almost finished Rest. The Sellout was wacky but I enjoyed it, even if I felt totally out of my depth intellectually. Rest is good and is reminding me to do more of what I know I need to do: go for walks, take breaks, prioritize vacation, detach from work.


I’ll be honest and say that this was not one of my more fruitful weeks in terms of inspiration. I have been feeling a bit down because of the constant cold (Trying not to complain! But it’s tough.) and lack of light, so my productivity and inspiration have been a little low. I’m still plugging away at my goals for January and my work, just with slightly less energy than usual. Here’s hoping that shifts next week! I hope you have a wonderful weekend. xo.

Book Club: November & December

I love to read, and I love to talk about the books I like best with other people. Every couple months here on the blog I choose my favourites from what I’ve read lately and write about them. As always, you can see everything I’m reading on my Goodreads profile. You can also check out what I’m reading in real time at #stephlovestoread on Instagram.

Book Club: November + December >> Life In Limbo

2017 was SUCH a great reading year. It seems like every year when I tackle this big goal, I end up getting even more out of it than I did the year before. What a gift it is, to be able to access the minds of so many incredible thinkers and storytellers, to be able to soak up new ideas, to see through new eyes. There’s a reason it’s my all-time favourite hobby! I gain so much, both practically-speaking and in my soul.

This December I actually started a second book club in addition to the one I’m already a part of. It was such a treat to have yet another space to discuss great books with like-minded people and I’m excited to continue with both throughout 2018. I realize that I’m a giant nerd, but these are the things that make me happy, so that’s reason enough for me!

Here are the four books I liked best from the past couple months of reading:

Book Club: November + December >> Life In Limbo

The End of Absence by Michael Harris

After being blown away by his book Solitude, I got this one out of the library and read it right away. It was actually his first book in this ‘series’ of sorts about being hyper-connected, and the lack of space, absence, and breathing room in our lives lately due to technology. The book focuses primarily on the fact that we are the last generation to have grown up with one foot in each world: the offline world and the online Internet world, and perhaps the last generation to see the fundamental value of the world before technology (a pretty radical idea, these days). His argument is that something will have been lost to us collectively once everyone in the world is fully plugged in, and that we may begin to forget the merits and the beauty of the simpler, natural world. Although I preferred Solitude, this one was also excellent and won the Governor General’s literary award in 2014.

The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey

My friend Laura got this for me as an early Christmas present, and it was such a treat to read! I love and respect Oprah so greatly, and am so impressed by what she has done on Super Soul Sunday with presenting spirituality in such an approachable and modern way. The show – and now the podcast – has had a big impact on my relationship with my spirituality and personal development. This book is laid out with quotes from her various interviews with thought leaders and teachers on Super Soul, along with beautiful photos of her property in California where they film the episodes. It’s stunning in so many ways, and I’m keeping it out on my coffee table to remind me of what I truly value.

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

This book humbled me in reminding me of how privileged I am, and how little I know about the history of Native people in North America. My uncle, who is a member of a First Nations band, has recently been delving deeper into this history and educating himself and others on the cultural and social implications of the colonialism and suffering that we have collectively and consistently inflicted on Native people since our ancestors first set foot in North America. It’s a powerful and painful read, but Thomas King is such a talented writer that he manages to somehow bring humour and levity to these serious and upsetting topics. I have been recommending this one to anyone I meet who shows even the most passing interest in social justice.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I really, really loved this novel, which was one of the last things I read in 2017. I was also so excited to see that it made Barack Obama’s list of his favourite books of the year – great minds think alike, am I right?! The story is a familiar one of refugees and immigration, but it’s made unique because of the novel’s use of magical realism and whimsical story-telling style. I also particularly liked how the author never tells us which war-torn country the protagonists are from, and doesn’t let the book fall into using any clichés. It takes you on the journey alongside the characters in a beautiful and sometimes jarring way, humanizes the idea of a “refugee”, and does an incredible job of making its point. Highly recommended.


You can see all my book recommendation blog posts here.

What’s the best thing you’ve read lately? Tell me your recommendations!

2018 Goals & Intentions

We’re two weeks into 2018, and so far the year is off to a great start, wouldn’t you say? Despite the crazy, bone-chilling weather here in Toronto, life in 2018 has been pretty wonderful so far. I always love how a new calendar year feels like a blank page and an opportunity to invite in new ideas, routines or intentions for the next 12 months. It’s also interesting to see what seems to naturally fall away as the calendar page flips over.

2018 Goals & Intentions >> Life In Limbo

I’ve written recently about how I haven’t been feeling moved lately to set many long-term goals. When I looked ahead to 2018, nothing stood out to me as an outcome I felt that I desperately needed to make happen or an achievement I wanted to create. This is a pretty foreign feeling, given how many years I spent setting buckets of goals for myself as carrots on sticks to keep me moving forward. That being said, I had no trouble coming up with intentions for how I want to spend more of my time, energy and money this year.

Goals

Read 75 books

The goal that will never go away! Having a reading goal each year is really just a way to keep me on task with making time for a hobby that I love and find so deeply fulfilling…but which I can easily be distracted from by the numerous glowing screens in my life. Having a concrete number to aim for helps me take time for reading, which is also one of the best ways I get into flow. I track my progress on Goodreads, so you can always see what I’m reading here!

Choose a monthly theme

I’m actually crazy-excited about this ‘goal’, which represents a great mix of being intentional but also going with the flow of my life. I’ll choose a theme right before the new month starts, based on what I’m feeling like I want to devote more energy, money and time to for the following month. Depending on the theme, I’ll set some sub-goals for myself just for that month, in an attempt to jumpstart my progress in areas that need a little more love or attention. At the end of the month, I’ll give myself permission to re-evaluate, stop whatever’s not working, and hold onto whatever I really loved from that month’s theme.

January’s theme has been Body, and it has been SO MUCH FUN to give my body some love in all kinds of different ways: new forms of exercise, getting a massage, daily dance parties, trying new recipes, buying myself bubble bath, etc. I can already tell how much joy this monthly themed goal-setting practice will bring me.

Keep a daily logbook

I stole this idea from Austin Kleon, who has kept a daily logbook for 10 years! It’s also kind of a riff on my Grandma’s journaling practice: she’s written a couple quick lines each day about what happened that day in a basic agenda for years. She can look up events and happenings going back to when my mom was a kid, just by looking the day up in her calendar. I am so inspired by this idea, so I am starting this year following Austin’s format outlined here – complete with my own crappy doodles to accompany each bullet point! I’ve only done it for 13 days so far but it’s already so lovely to flip back and notice little details I have ALREADY forgotten. What I’m reading, eating, buying, seeing, talking about: these are things I like to remember.

Meditate every morning

I’m very proud to say that this morning was my 127th consecutive day of meditating – by far the longest streak I’ve ever had. I’m also happy to report that I’m currently consistently doing 15 minutes a day, which feels like a huge achievement after years of barely being able to sit through 5. This practice is not easy for me, and it never feels particularly rewarding in the moment, but it’s helpful in about a million ways that don’t always seem obvious at first. I’m hopeful I’ll keep it up every day for 2018, even if some days I can only squeeze in a couple of minutes.

Intentions

Spend more time with my family: In 2017 we implemented a monthly famjam, which has been so wonderful. In 2018, I’m hoping to set up a weekly time to visit with my Grandma, who doesn’t live very far away from me. I’d also just like more puppy cuddles, time away from the city, walks with my mom, and dinners with my sisters.

Have a digital detox monthly: It’s so incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating for me to go off the grid, but it’s something I don’t do nearly often enough. Here’s to a monthly digital detox, for at minimum 24 hours!

Devote more time & love to cooking: For the past couple years, my at-home cooking has been relatively rushed, thrown-together, not-that-thought-out, and not-that-healthy. I want to change this! I am setting the intention to give more good vibes to my kitchen, try new things, and give myself permission to spend time making food for myself.

Make my home my happy place: It already kind of is, but there are lots of things I could do to make my home even cozier, even more me, and even more welcoming. For me this intention also means hosting people in my space more often, which always makes it feel more like a home to me.


A simple list that makes my heart happy. A lot of peace, a lot of quiet, a lot of fun, a lot of love: what more could I ask for? I know that along the way I’ll encounter amazing opportunities and probably check some things off my bucket list, but for now I’m going to let it flow instead of forcing it. Things happen when they’re meant to happen. My job is to keep showing up, keep learning, keep growing and playing and finding my center.

How about you? What do you want more of in 2018?

Inspiration: January 12

Every week on Friday, I share a list of the most interesting and inspiring content I’ve read lately here on my blog. You can expect thoughts on productivity, happiness, balance, spirituality, politics, and more. Subscribe here to get updates. See archives here.

Inspiration January 12 >> Life In Limbo

It would be inappropriate to start this list of links with anything other than Oprah’s speech. I watched it first thing Monday morning and cried the whole time. She is an inspiration to me every week, but this week it’s particularly true. Thank you, Oprah.

The Feel Good Food Plan from Bon Appetit’s Healthyish looks so delicious and nutritious! I haven’t been following it in real time (it started January 2), but it’s full of cool ideas I’d love to try.

This is hilarious.

Lots of good tips here for saving money! I already do most of these, but I especially like the idea of getting my bank balance by text. Looking into how to set that up!

You may have heard by now that a YouTuber made a terrible video in the Aokigahara suicide forest, but you may not (like me) have known the history of this place. I was inspired by the way this woman took the time to explain the situation and context more fully while holding Logan Paul accountable for his despicable actions. CW: suicide.

I added the book Rest by Alex Pang to my reading list this week thanks to his great interview on Hurry Slowly about the importance of taking regular breaks and detaching from work.

Holy moly did this podcast episode get sent to me at the right time (thanks Sonja!). It’s all about using your intuition to guide you and bring you more of what you want, but what it really reminded me to do was stay grounded.

I also really needed to read this: “Maybe stop worrying so much about productivity and getting things done. Worry about things worth doing.”


How’s 2018 going for you so far? The days are going by so quickly for me. I had Harvest Table Dinner this week, as well as Tuesdays Together, and both were great! The week also had a couple not-so-great pieces of news, but we’re getting through it as a family. This weekend I have a library date with a friend (!) and one of my book club meetings. Haha – lots of books for me! I hope you have a wonderful weekend too. xo.