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My husband knows how much I hate winter in Minnesota. So, he proposed we take one week each in January, February and March to get away to a warmer climate. I think I’ve found a cure for my winter blues.
During my times away I had a lot of time to catch up on reading. Here are my favorites:
1. If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher
I read this book in two days. It’s Hannah Brencher’s non-fiction story of how she sets out to be not another number in the cog in the current world’s digital age. Mixed in between is her desire for people to learn they are not invisible, they matter, and that it’s ok for them to feel loved. On her journey she also searches for, and finds, a real God.
She writes, “You need one person who comes up beside you and validates you, tells you you’re not crazy and that they too want to fly away sometimes. Otherwise you forget gravity is something you’re supposed to go up against.” And to that end, she starts placing random letters meant for whomever picks them up around the streets, subways, coffee shops, and park benches around New York City. It’s written by a twenty-nine-or-something-year-old woman. The writing is amazing and so is her story. If you check my Instagram and Goodreads, you’ll see some of my favorites quotes pulled from the book.
2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
This is a little book in size but if the instructions are followed, a revolution could start in your closet and dresser drawers. Marie Kondo’s claim is that if you follow her advice, you won’t have a disorganizational relapse. And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of relapsing in the disorganization category. Here are a couple of her secrets:
Organize by category, not by location. In other words, if you want to organize clothes, then organize all of your clothes. Gather all your clothes around you and then, and this sounds a little weird, but Kondo wants us to touch them, to savor each piece of clothing, as that is the only way we will know if we love each piece. And if we don’t. Out the door your clothes go. Same is true for the books category. Gather every single book you have. Go through them one by one. And here’s a biggie. Stop shaming yourself for not reading the classics. If you’ve been keeping Jane Eyre and still have not read it these past 20 years, in all likelihood you won’t in the next 20. So say Sayonara to those books and, to quote my friend Christy Tryhus, “Stop shoulding on yourself.”
Another secret – Fold your clothing so that they are displayed vertically, not horizontally, in your dressers. Wow, life-changing magic is right! Love this tip. I used this method to pack my suitcase and gained an additional quarter space for souvenirs! You can find my Instagram images for this book under Julie Saffrin or #mariekondo
3. Shattered Image by Stacy Monson
Ever since taking a media course and learning about the objectification of women, I’d had issues with media altering photos of women. Just let us be who we are. So, I was excited to buy this new release from debut author Stacy Monson. The cover is beautiful, the premise is timely, and I’m happy to say, this book is wonderful. Thanks, Stacy, for saying to the world’s women that we are beautiful just the way we’ve been made. This is the first in a series of books that take place near Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes. This one, takes place near Lake Calhoun.
4. Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf
I discovered this book while doing research on the topic of resiliency. It’s written by a leading pioneer in the field of neuroplasticity. This is a book for those who believe God made us and is out to do us good, starting with our insides. It’s a book for people like me who believe we can change our happiness and joy levels and were created to be capable of changing our mindset. This book actually speaks English to people who don’t have a medical background. Here’s one of my favorite lines. “…epigenetics is the fact that your thoughts and choices impact your physical brain and body, your mental health, and your spiritual development.” This book helped me unlearn the negative ideas I’ve been taught to think about how we came to be and for what we are made. It’s a book that tells you that our body is equipped with new cells every morning so that we get do-overs every day in choosing to live a happy, flourishing life.
5. Devotions for the Beach … and days you wish you were there by Miriam Drennan
About ten years ago, I started writing a non-fiction book that is about living, breathing, and being near the water. I still may write that book, but until I do, I have this beautiful book of devotions written by Miriam Drennan. The book is filled with soothing words and images that transcend you to beach towels, coconut-smelling sunscreen, and fuchsia-colored umbrellas all while making you think about the parallels between things found near water and our lives. It’s a peaceful, calming yet contemplative, book. Loved it.
What are some books you’d add to this list?
Julie Saffrin is the author of numerous published articles and essays. Her latest book, BlessBack: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life, explores the power of gratitude and offers 120 creative ways to journey toward positive, lasting change.