How to get Back into Reading

How to get Back into Reading

    If I could go back and tell my high school self that I would stop reading for fun, she would be disappointed. While growing up, I would read all the time. I constantly had a book for fun. I had friends who were avid readers, it was so much fun. Then when undergrad came, I did not have the free time like I used to. It was not until recently that I would find the joy and time for reading. I feel reconnected to my younger self’s love of books.

Undergrad was busy, I won’t lie to myself. I will also admit I stretched myself thin for the first 2 years. I felt like I had to be involved with many clubs and in many classes. I was going for music therapy my first year. That involved taking 8+ classes each semester. They would make certain classes only 1 credit hour so one would not have to pay for going over. Also, ensembles were ‘free credits’. I could not continue on with that, but that is a post for another day. It was not until my junior year that I would drop many extra curriculars. But that is when I was placing my health at the forefront. So the time I spent in extra curriculars, I shifted to working out and taking time to self care. I did not add books into the equation. I was still balancing 6-7 classes until I graduated, so the workload was intense.

When the pandemic hit, I focused on surviving a pandemic and working non stop. I was also attending grad school in the middle of this. I made it through my first semester and had a month break. I decided to read a little about spiritual topics. I was intrigued with working on my spirituality, so I read on it. This was the first time in years that I would read for myself because I was interested in a topic. Then school started back up and the cycle went back to working and school. I did not make the time for reading. 

As my previous posts have brought up, I have worked on my health, skincare, self love, and spirituality. With things slowly opening back up and vaccination numbers increasing, I felt more calm than I had since 2019. It was during this time, an old friend from high school posted on her instagram about her bookstagram page. I decided to give it a follow and support her. This was a tipping off point for my reading journey. This was one of my avid reader friends, we would trade books back and forth and talk about series. It sparked my interest in starting to read again. 

After following her, I began scrolling and found on Pinterest books to read. I started saving them to a new board. After I saw a few books pop up, I decided to get them on the kindle app. I started 2 series at once, “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas and “A Touch of Darkness” by Scarlett St. Clair. These books pulled me into new worlds and brought me joy. From there I started reading comic series and continuing those book series. I felt the same joy that I used to back in high school.

So if you were a reader when you were younger, or you were never a reader but want to start, I have a few suggestions. I suggest following bookstagram pages, booktubers, or booktok. Some really good instagram suggestions are BookishLifeofSam_, Alexandra_Roselyn, and LadyofBookShire. For booktubers, I recommend Alexandra Roselyn and How to Train your Gavin. I do not have tiktok at the moment, so I don’t know booktokers. 

Also I suggest finding the genre you love. I was always a fan of fantasy, fey, and poems. That’s why I was sucked into those book series. Back in highschool I wanted to read the classics and I never got to read them all. So I went out to a local bookstore and picked up a few. If you were never really a reader before, go to a library and pick up different genres and see what pulls you in. 

I suggest making a space for reading. I have a couple of spots for myself. While I had not read in years, when I moved into my boyfriend’s house I struggled with making it feel like our home. I found comfort in making a reading corner. It had a comfy chair, blanket, and cozy lighting. I did not use it while we lived there but I do now. Along with that, I have a spot on my couch, with my weighted blanket, and I just curl up and feel at ease. The final spot I have is my bed. This keeps me from mindlessly scrolling all evening. It helps me relax after a long day and prepare for bed. You don’t need 3 spots like I do, I just don’t like having one spot. I like to change things up and keep it fun. Start with one spot, have the things that make it comfortable. I like curling up with a blanket. Maybe you like relaxing candles while you read. Maybe you like dim lighting or candle light. Maybe you like tea, hot chocolate, coffee or no drink while you read. Make it your own place.

Make time to read. This is an important suggestion, if you do not make the time for things you like you won’t do it. I found for myself that I like reading in the evenings before bed. I take care of cleaning and taking care of my plants in the evening before I read. After I’m done doing what I need to, I put on my PJ’s and curl up with my comfiest blanket. And I just read, some nights for 15 minutes and other nights for an hour. It just varies with what else I need to get done in the evening before work the next day. 

These are a few ways of how I got back into reading. It brings so much joy in my life to read again. To get lost in a world for some time before returning to the everyday hustle and bustle. I hope you find your spot and make the time to read. I hope you find the genre that speaks to you. I hope you find the self care aspect of reading.

Using Intention to Chase your Dreams

Using Intention to Chase your Dreams

Throughout one’s life, people around you are constantly telling you to follow your dreams. But they never have an idea as to how to follow your dreams. Some people pick a dream, like go to college and follow what preplanned steps their high school gave to them. There is no special formula or steps on what program to choose or what school is the best for you. The counselors or your parents may provide their opinions but they have lived life through a different lens than you. Once you’re out of school there is no guide book on how to find a job or how to move up at your work. And if you are someone who has creative dreams of becoming an artist or musician rather than a neurosurgeon, it gets harder to ‘follow your dreams.” 

Regardless of if you want to be a lawyer, surgeon, musician, work in a factory, design art, or write a blog,  to do the things you want to do you need to be intentional with what you do. Intentionality relates to this idea of purposefully choosing your next step that aligns with your overarching goal. If your goal is to be a doctor, you need to be intentional with how I can learn what I need. This may look like I need scores to get into a university for pre medicine or another degree. I can not tell you which degree to go in, but if it’s done intentionally and you take the MCAT, you can apply for medical school. So a way to be intentional with this is, you sit down in all your classes and learn the material. Being intentional does not mean you memorize and regurgitate the information. Many people can memorize for a period and regurgitate, but are they living the life they want? 

Alongside that, being intentional does not mean solely a career goal. I used that example to help make this abstract concept more concrete since countries like the United States like to focus on what you do for a career. But this same idea of intentionality goes toward any passion you have in life. If you like reading, making a reading nook and time to read is being intentional. Your time is the same amount of time as anyone else. Time goes at the same pace for someone who is just punching in and punching out and the same for someone who loves the life that they live. So if you want to start a hobby like skating or knitting, start that intentionally. That does not mean that you will love the grind and the effort that it constantly takes to get better at a hobby. But if you’re going into it with an intentional mind and openness  to the hobby, you will stick with it more. 

When I started my minimalism journey, I thought it would be the same as when I ‘decluttered’ previously. In the past, I would get rid of a few pieces but kept pieces for very specific scenarios that never came through. Then I would impulse buy even more stuff than what I got rid of, so it would bring back the need to declutter again. So when I did my first official declutter on this journey, I was intentional on what I kept. I kept what made me happy, was multifaceted, and it fit. As I continue this journey, I am still going through and getting rid of anything that does not fit those boxes for me. Anything I do bring into my home or closet, it has to be done intentionally. So does it fit a purpose, does it make me happy, and is it multifaceted. 

Starting this blog, it began from a place of intentionality. I started this blog out of a passion to share what I learn in life and in graduate school. But I will be honest with you, I stopped being intentional about it. I stopped scheduling my time for what I wanted, and what I really liked to do. I stopped posting or checking up on my website. The other day, I was coming home from a friend’s house and it hit me that if I want a blog, I can not just post once a blue moon. I need to make the time and effort for this. If not, this just becomes one of those projects that get started and never finished. Which would just leave me in a place of resent or regret. Like why did I never post more? Why did I give up? What could have happened if I continued? 

So, I ask you what are you going to start being intentional about today? What is going to be the passion that you will work on and get better at? It could be doing your school work or starting to knit or starting a blog. Either way, it is best to start today and make the plans to be intentional. If that means calendar blocking, then calendar block. If that means dedicating a space for this, do that. To be intentional is to do. Not to sit with yourself and think of what could go wrong, and why you can not do something. Thinking such as that will be your downfall. What will you do intentionally today for your future self. A fitness YouTuber HopeScope, said that what you do today will be reflected back within 3 months. She was being specific with fitness and eating habits but that still applies to anything in life. If you dedicate the time starting now, you will see rewards for it in the future. But if you do not start now, you will see either the same thing in 3 months or an unhappier version of yourself. Do yourself the favor, do the things that you want to do.

How does minimalism work?

How does minimalism work?

Growing up, I had a walk-in closet, 2 dressers, 2 night stands, and a desk in my bedroom. In high school, my step dad built me a bed frame with built in shelves. I had every storage item in my room, packed to the max. I had too much stuff, and as an indecisive person, that’s a problem. I would get rid of enough stuff so I could close my drawers. That would only last for so long. It was never a good solution for my problem. But it ‘worked’ while I was in high school.

When I went to school my freshman year, I packed about half of my closet. I had decent storage in my dorm. Then I bought a plastic storage container from Walmart, for more storage. Once again, I had all my drawers packed, no matter how I folded my clothing. This continued throughout undergrad. I continued to move back and forth half of my closet. The biggest issue with this is that I either didn’t wear ⅓ of it, or I wore ⅓ once or twice a school year. I didn’t actually realize that until my senior semester.

Halfway through my senior semester, I had to sit down and figure out my clothing situation. I was preparing to move in with my boyfriend. He lived in a townhouse, with about one good sized closet. There was no way I could take all the clothing that I had been carting back and forth for the last 3.5 years. It was at this point when I started looking into minimalism. Trying to find a better solution for my clothing and to keep what I actually wear.

Minimalism has been described as a lifestyle relating to living with less. I watched countless hours of videos, podcasts, and even read Marie Kondo’s book. Below I will link some good resources. After countless days of researching, I was ready to dive in. I asked my boyfriend to come over and assist me in decluttering. I did not want to get rid of some clothing and put a bandaid on the problem. I wanted his opinion for 1) do I actually wear it enough and 2) does it look good on my body. This was the first time in my life that I was brutal to my clothing. It took hours to go through all my clothing and I had moments of frustration. This was not an easy task for me.

But once I was done and put away all my clothing I was keeping, I felt really good. Finding clothing in the morning was so much easier. I felt good with my closet situation. I donated about 2-3 garbage bags. I threw out about one garbage bag of trash from broken or over used clothing. I had never gone this in depth with my declutter. This was the first purge. This allowed me to finish out school with a better number of clothing articles. 

After I moved in, I still had an issue of a little too much clothing. We went out to IKEA and bought a clothing rack and small dresser. I decided that my seasonal clothing would go on the clothing rack. My everyday wear of t-shirts, leggings, and undergarments would go in the dresser. The out of season clothing went into the little closet space I had. I folded my clothing in the Marie Kondo style. But I removed about 2 more bags of clothing at this point in time. I removed even more shoes. Getting rid of shoes is my kryptonite.

Once again, I felt amazing when I removed all the clothing I still wasn’t wearing after the initial purge. For work, I wear the same things; a top, jeans, and running shoes. That’s it. My workwear is casual considering I am in residential care. I need to be able to move easy and play with the kids. Things were going good but every so often when I opened my drawers, I would see the shirts I don’t wear. But for some reason I couldn’t get rid of them. I was a bit stuck. 

I am currently moving into our first home. We do have more space there than our current townhouse. But I’m not buying tons of clothing. Between the two of us, we removed another 4 garbage bags for donation. The shirts that were sitting in my drawers I wasn’t touching, have finally gone. I have about 2 shirts that I’m not crazy about but they were from my fraternity so I feel weird donating those shirts. But from 7 shirts to 2, is progress. 

I am in the midst of buying staple pieces. I am getting 3 plain neutral t-shirts. This will allow me to get rid of my graphic tees. This will simplify my outfits even more. This will allow me to be more intentional and practical with my wardrobe. A big section of my closet is crop tops, I have about 5 but I alternate between them on my days off. I feel good in every shirt in my closet. I don’t have uncomfortable shirts, and no shirts that I wear every blue moon. I own about 6 pairs of jeans in different styles and colors. I have light wash, medium, dark, and black jeans. 2 pairs are ripped so I alternate those on my days off. I own 3 running shorts, 4 shorts, 4 leggings, 2 skirts, 3 dress pants, and 2 joggers. The only thing that is not getting much wear at the moment are my dress pants. Due to the fact that it is summer and I’m about to start grad school, they can stay. If I don’t wear these in grad school I will get rid of them. I do still have 7 dresses, I may go through my dresses once the summer season ends. Any dress I don’t wear or don’t feel good in, is being donated. 

The biggest portion of my closet is my hoodie section. I used to have about 20 hoodies. At this point, I own about 8 but these aren’t getting decluttered anytime soon. Hoodies have always been a hygge-like thing for me. (Hygge is related to daily coziness. More on this at a later date.) I wear a hoodie every day, whether I am at home or at work. These have always sparked joy and are practical in my closet. 

Minimalism has helped me throughout the last 10 months. I don’t spend forever deciding what to wear. I don’t struggle with clothing that doesn’t fit me right. For this article, I focused mostly on clothing, but I decluttered my office supplies and kitchen gear. I have a refillable notebook, 1 pencil, 2 pens, and 4 highlighters instead of 15 unused notebooks, 30 colored pens, 10 highlighters, and 15 pencils. The benefits I have received from minimalism doesn’t just extend to just clothing. 

My home is easier to clean, everything has a home, and by having less things they are used more often. I have shifted to buying quality items because I am using them more. I have less items but they are being loved. I don’t have a shirt that’s been hiding in my closet for 5 years and only been used once with a certain bra. I don’t have special mugs or a million travel mugs. I grab one, fill it, and wash it for the next day. This prevents a million dishes piling up. I can clean my space easily and quickly. I used to have to sit down and figure out where I put a specific item but now I don’t have to think anymore. I know where my medicine is, where the glass cleaner is, where extra paper towels are etc. There is no time spent thinking and hunting. 

My minimalism stems from practical use. I need to be able to use the item and love it frequently. I no longer desire to have those one time use items. I don’t desire going on huge shopping sprees. If I do go shopping, I follow a one in one out rule. If I buy a new shirt, I get rid of an old one. When I buy new quality sweaters for the fall, I’m getting rid of some that have been loved a little too much over the fall and winter months. But once I get all my staple pieces situated, I doubt I will be doing much shopping. Unless it is something that screams 100% yes, and has a purpose, I won’t be buying. I don’t have a capsule wardrobe or 2 bowls but this works for me and my lifestyle. If you struggle with decisions, I strongly suggest trying minimalism even for a month. You can just pack things up for a month and just use the things you love. But you may not go back to having 20 shirts, 17 dresses, 20 untouched books, and 10 mugs. 

Resources:

There are so many more resources that I have used but these are a good start.

The Minimalist podcast (theminimalists.com/podcast/).

Marie Kondo- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering-Organizing-ebook/dp/B00KK0PICK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=)

Ashlynne Eaton- What’s your minimalist personality type (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9npY6VvwU4

Matt D’Avella- A day in the life of a minimalist (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG2GJZcBKOE)