Husband and I are off to Alberta tomorrow for a week of fun, family and future visioning. This pretty much means radio silence for me until we get back.  Although I'm sure there'll be a few tweets #ABadventure, and I just started a Visions of AB board on Pinterest.

I have to admit I'm a little nervous about our destination given the recent flooding, but it's also kind of exciting. Like Finn and Jake, husband and I will have a kick ass time exploring our very own Land of Ooo. Heroes we are two. 

As for LSP, well she's less than impressed that we've left BMO in charge while we're away.
Do you have any summer adventures planned? Do you know of a good way to appease an angry space princess? Share your tips for rockin' it hero style below. Math!
Image Credit: kitakitts / (CC BY-NC 2.0)
I've always been a fan of case studies in personal development books. Reading someone else's story and learning how they practice helps me to better understand and appreciate the theory behind a program like this. However, there was one case study in this chapter, David's story, that left me a little off balance.

On page 225, the authors discuss how David reaches a point of clarity and decides that he will no longer actively pursue happiness as a state of being:
It came to him that what he was experiencing was "craving" --a longing for things to be other than they are. Over and over again, he became aware of just how unhappy this was making him. Eventually, he knew deep in his bones, not just in his head, that he was creating this suffering himself. And, with that insight came a compassionate response: why not do yourself a favor and let it go?
The authors go on to explain that by letting go of happiness as a goal, David is able to make space for it to enter on its own. 

Now the concept of letting go of the pursuit of happiness so you don't feel like a failure for not being "happy enough" makes sense. It's along the same lines as accepting that where you are right now is perfectly okay.  Still, I think this concept got me reeling because it's the opposite of everything I've ever been taught. After all, isn't happiness life's ultimate goal? And aren't goals meant to be worked at? Strived for? 

My suspicion is that the authors are trying to illustrate the dangers of attachment. (A concept that I'm exploring in my own life with the help of my fabulous coach Michelle.) David spent so much time being attached to the idea of becoming happier, that every little setback transformed into a bright red flag that Team Failure would wave in his face. So by releasing his attachment to happiness as a goal to be reached, he was able to let go of his expectations and accept his current moment whatever it might be. The disappearance of this self-inflicted stress made space for awareness, compassion and eventually, you guessed it, happiness. YAY David!
David continues to work at the same job--he still does not experience the same clarity and peace there that he knows is available to him in his wider life, but he can sit more lightly with his work situation…He knows now, deep down, that mindfulness is much more than paying closer attention to the color of the trees or the sounds of the birds, delightful as these are. He knows that mindfulness also provides a way to discern those patterns of mind that serve us and those patterns of mind that create and perpetuate suffering.
So how do you feel about setting aside your attachment to happiness? Does it make your belly rumble to think about relinquishing control of such a desired emotion? Or are you ready to dive in and give it a try?
Image Credit:  BK Symphony of Love / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Original Image Credit: Manuela de Pretis / CC BY 2.0 
It took a little longer than expected, but I have finally whittled down my Currently Reading list from 6 books to 1.  

"Hold up! 1 book? I thought you were going to pick 2?" This is what I imagine you might say if we were having this conversation in person. Of course, you would be right!

Originally, I had declared that I would choose 2 books, 1 for myself and 1 for the Brayer Books book club that I have with my husband. When I told him about my plan I realized that truthfully I wanted to take things a step farther and commit to only reading 1 book at a time. 

He did the math, and it turns out that even alternating between a book for me and a book for us, I'd still end up reading more books with him than I do now.  That's what happens when my attention is focused and I no longer take several months to complete any title I start. So I have settled in and now it is on!!!

"But what book did you pick?" You again, if we were face-to-face.

"This one." I'd answer pulling it out from behind my back with a non-verbal ta-da!

The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic UnhappinessMark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn

Click image to see larger
I've been working on this book since March, and I am tantalizingly close to the end. I have yet to practice any of the exercises in full, but it looks like the last chapter is a guide to implementing the entire 8 week program. Each week of implementation refers to earlier chapters in the book, which will also give me the opportunity to discuss them here without having to start the book all over again.

Have you read this book before? If so, have you incorporated any of it into your daily practice? Was there anything that didn't really resonate? 

Is this book, or another one like it, sitting on your shelf patiently waiting to be read? Why not pick it up, find a comfy seat and dive in?
Image Credit: Werner Kunz / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Book Covers photographed by Tanya Brayer
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” 
~ Arthur Ashe

One of the challenges I have when it comes to "starting where I am" is that the place I'm starting from is often kind of a mess. Case in point: At this moment I have 6 books on my Currently Reading shelf, all in various states  of "progress."

Somewhere along the way I lost the ability to commit to one story at a time. Like so many of us in today's world of information overflow and instant gratification, I am easily distracted. I also tend to allow my mood to dictate what I read. Unfortunately, this means that the allure of something new and shiny often wins out over the stories that have been with me for a while. Hence my overloaded bookshelves and the existence of this blog.

Of course, this lack of focus also means that when I do pick up one of those books I've left sitting for weeks, or even months, re-reading is almost always necessary. And this applies to both fiction: "Who is this guy they're talking about and why is he riding a flying carpet through a cavern with his eyes closed?" and non-fiction: "What were the steps in that breathing exercise that will help me sit with my depression and not let it grip me for weeks at a time?" 

So I want to take this opportunity to retrain my focus. To extend my original commitment by also promising to read no more than 2 books at once. One title will be for the book club that I have with my husband: Brayer Books and the other will be a title of my choosing.  Both will be chronicled here for your enjoyment. 

Tune in next week when I announce the "winners."

In the meantime I'd love to hear if you have trouble reading "just one" book at a time. Do you have any strategies for picking a book and sticking with it? 
Yesterday morning I received an email from my public library letting me know that one of the books I have out is due this Tuesday. Not exactly a blog-worthy subject, and yet...

Here's what usually happens when I get one of these emails:

  1. I move the listed book to the top of my pile, forsaking everything else I'm reading to try and finish this "newcomer" before I have to return it. 
  2. I rush through the book and instead of enjoying it I hear my inner critic snicker about how much of a flake I am, and how I'll never read all of the books I own.
  3. Finish. Return. Repeat.

Only this time there was a break in the cycle. A new voice inside me that said "Why not just return the book? In fact, why not just return all the books you have out?"

It was like magic. All of a sudden this commitment to read everything I own became a way out. An opportunity for me to change my pattern and choose to be the girl who follows through. The girl who doesn't set herself up to fail. 

Goodbye snickering. Hello pride.

Do you find it takes major shifts to change your patterns, or are subtle shifts just as effective? Is there a cycle you've been wanting to break? Why not break it today?
The other day I happened upon a post written by the fabulously frugal Anna of And then we Saved about how to prepare for a Spending Fast®.  While the pledge I made for Shelf Space isn't a full on Spending Fast®, Anna's tip to make a few final purchases was music to my ears.

I've chosen 3 titles to round out my library, and then it's no more money for books. These 3 made the cut:

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Fart With Headphones on the book! by Michelle Vargas 
Free Your Awesome also by Michelle Vargas 

You may notice a personal development / creative expression vibe, which is definitely the subject that most draws my interest these days.

What about you? What would you choose? 

Do you have a collection you're ready to tackle? If so, what items are you going to splurge on before you take the plunge?
and you can find mine here.