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Change Your Life on Your Lunch Break: Read a Children’s Book

Change your life on your lunch break

I’ve been toying with this idea for posting about how to change your life in small increments. I’ve even mentioned it on the blog before. And now, I’m bringing it to fruition because this is something I believe so intensely in.

You do not have dedicate hours and hours at a time to make changes in your life. Small pockets of time each day are enough to bring about major changes in your life. A half-hour here, 10 minutes there is enough to transform!

Welcome to my new series:

Change Your Life on Your Lunch Break

Let’s get started with our very first installment…

Today, I want to talk about children’s books.

That’s right!

Children’s Books are gold!

If you want to mine our human existence for little nuggets of truth, you need only visit the children’s section at your local library or bookstore.

We can’t truly appreciate the depth of the meaning packed into these tiny beautifully illustrated wonders until we’re older after all. Like all the best Disney movies, with their references that only the adults in the room understand. You can’t fully appreciate it until now.

What children’s books have to offer:

 

Golden nuggets of life advice
Children’s books distill some of the best paradigms and advice in life down to the most precious little stories. Kinda like fortune cookies: all the best little nuggets might have become cliche and overused over time, but usually their truth runs deep.

I still have a copy of Emma’s Pet that I found when I was younger about a little bear that goes out on a search for the perfect pet. Come to find out, her own daddy is the perfect pet. Tears me up every time. So precious. Family is everything.

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Teach yourself Bible stories and history:
K, so I’ve never been good with history. This coming from the model A student. I mean, it’s embarrassing really. But when I need to know about certain battles in history, I turn to the children’s section at the library. All the bite-sized explanations help me wrap my head around what happened.

And Bible stories? Make soooo much more sense when explained in a children’s book. I like to start with children’s renditions of Bible stories when I’m learning about them, because then I can go back to the Bible and glean a whole lot more after the scene has been set for me (usually in kid-friendly illustrations).

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Learn how to draw. Or knit.
Is it just me, or do adult DIY books sometimes seem a little convoluted? If I want to learn how to knit, I will pick up a children’s book on how to knit. Talk to me like I’m 12 so I can get the hang of it first. Hehe. Then, I might graduate to an adult book once I’ve got the technique down. I’ve learned other forms of art this way too, by picking up a kids’ book to teach me. I don’t need fancy techniques, I just want to learn the basics.

Feel all the feels
Seriously, children’s books are downright funny and adorable and heartwarming and they distill the most important life lessons down into the most beautiful words. If we could all understand the world like a child, how peaceful we would be.

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And magic-filled.

The Stars Beneath Your Bed is about how wondrous dust is. As adults, dust is a nuisance. But from a different perspective, there could be dust particles from stars underneath your bed! Paradigm…shifted! Magic.

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Maple is one of our newest favorites from the Imagination Library (thank you Dolly Parton!). It completely exemplifies the magic of being outside and hugging trees, like, literally. It’s totally hipster and just perfect.


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Children’s books say everything you wish you could say so eloquently.
This book, On the Day You Were Born just drips my melty heart into pieces all over the floor. It’s so special. I bought it for my son for his very first birthday and it’s about how the entire world is aligned on the day each person is born. The stars are in a particular arrangement, the tides are at a particular spot, the sun takes its rightful place on the horizon, and the world whispers in your ear “we are so glad you’re here.”

Ahhh, gets me every time.

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Promise me you’ll read a children’s book on your next break, will you?

I hope, even if you don’t have kids, you take a minute to stop by the kid’s section the next time you’re at the library or bookstore. The stories are always quick. And always potent.

I didn’t revisit children’s books until I had some little ones of my own, but I realize now how much I was missing out!

Just remember, when everything in life gets confusing…

The world seems so much more approachable in kid’s format.

 

Whatever you learn or piece of gold you extract from the book might be a great starting point for your daily journaling practice or a topic for your own blog post. I hope you’ll share!
 

What’s the last children’s book you read? Do you even remember? What were some of the memorable nuggets you took away from it?

Book Pages: Patternless Fashions

I don’t think I’ve ever used this book except to help me dream (yet!!). I always thought a book about patternless fashion would make a great starting point for an e-course or blog tutorial or something. Growing up, I always hated sewing with patterns. I learned how to sew with fussy patterns and grew annoyed with sewing itself because of the rigidity. Once I realized I could make things without a pattern, I felt so free. Novel idea, huh?

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This book has the cutest little hand drawings that our modern books lack, but that give books a little extra character. They give you a glimpse into the hand-work put into the book by real live people. I think it’s endearing. I mean, the descriptions are enough to make me gush, “awww, cute!” Basic School Dress with Yoke and Gathered Skirt, anyone?

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Sweet little ribbon-tied girl. Sometimes I wish I could have a girl to dress up like this.
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Cutest father/son duo ever (besides my guys of course:) Looks like a Leave it to Beaver family portrait, doesn’t it? Love it!
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When’s the last time you heard the word “slacks” and it wasn’t coming from your grandma?
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There really are great tips and pointers in this book for making real clothes today. The original book was created circa the 1950s, and the styles are pretty true to that era. However, you can tweak a little bit here and there or even use some of the patterns just as they are. Many of the styles are fashionable again today, depending on the fabric that you choose. Some of the instructions just give you guidelines on how to use clothing you already own to fashion new items. This totally translates to today’s world, if ya ask me.

If you’re a beginner, you might want to try a project that is a little less involved first, like a pillowcase or curtains or something. Once you get the hang of sewing basics and techniques, you can always refer back to this book. This book also doesn’t work for people who need the structure that patterns provide. My grandma taught me to sew using patterns because she prefers them herself, and that’s just fine. I just operate a little differently and enjoy the freedom of patternless sewing. I have also always had an affinity for completely original clothing, and this book puts that idea at my fingertips.

If you’re interested in this little gem, there are a few copies on Amazon.

Women’s Health 15-Minute Workouts Review

I first saw this book at a book fair we had at work and it, of course, caught my eye. A comprehensive collection of 15 minute workouts? Of course that would catch my attention. I passed it by though in honor of my family’s budget (I’m such a martyr, I know). Then, I put the book on my Amazon wishlist, where it’s been for quite some time. Then, the book fair came back to my work months later. I didn’t think they’d actually have the same book again as their selection is ever-changing, but they did! I finally bought it. When something has been on your wishlist for that long, you know it’s time.

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So far, I’m loving the book. Instead of all those scraps of magazines lying all around my house, I now have a perfectly bound book of them all in one place. Ahhhh. This must be Women’s Health’s way of creating feng shui throughout the homes of magazine workout page hoarders. Tell me I’m not the only one, please!
Here are the coolest things about owning this book:

1. The variety of workouts: this book has workouts of all varieties–everything from weight lifting to martial arts to yoga and pilates. All in one place. My workouts always depend on the mood I’m in, how sore or stressed out I am, and where I am. There is a workout in this book for every mood and every level of fitness equipment access you have.

2. Doable time limit: everyone has a spare 15 minutes, right? We twiddle away time on all sorts of so-called extracurricular activities (Pinterest browsing, anyone?) We can certainly find 15 minute increments throughout our week to fit in these exercises. See my post on finding time to work out if you’re not convinced.

3. You can easily combine workouts: 15 minutes might not cut it for some more serious exercises. Well, all you need to do is combine two or more routines or perform the circuits a few extra times. Simple as that!

4. Trip-friendly: I plan on packing this book the next time I head out of town. Many of the workouts require little to no equipment. Instead of trying to dig through my stack of magazine workouts to find do-anywhere moves, I can just pack this one book. Simple!

5. Pretty pictures and quality cues: the quality photography and physical cues lead you through the workouts without too many questions. I have not come across an exercise yet that made my eyebrows furrow and wonder “what are they talking about?” Each move is pretty crisp, clear and comprehensively described.

6. Price: the price was super friendly at the book sale–about 1/2 off the publisher’s price. Even Amazon has the book for a cool $9.00 used. That’s about the cost of 1.5 magazines off the magazine stand.

I tried the stress-busting routine earlier last week and enjoyed the heart-pumping workout it gave me. A boosted metabolism and sculpted limbs? Um, yes please.

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Guess who I spied on the pages of the book? Tone It Up’s very own Katrina Hodgson. I thought those moves looked familiar! They’re pretty true to the Tone It Up style. Can’t complain about that.

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Are you convinced to buy it yet? 🙂 Or, do you know of any Android apps that offer this same type of thing? Because that would probably make me pass out in amazement.

*Note: I was not compensated or solicited in any way to endorse this book. This is simply me giving my personal review.

Summer Book Club

We’re trying to soak up the last bits of sun that this year affords us. We’re not ready to talk about fall and apple cider and cable knits quite yet, even though we love those things too.

We’re still talking about pitching a tent out in the backyard for the night and eating as much watermelon as our bellies can comply with.

We’re also still pitching our “reading tent” in an effort to read more books, limit screen time and enjoy the warm air.

I mean, why would you read on the couch, when you can read inside a special book nook?

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If you can’t find us in the house, you might try checking in the backyard. My feet will be sticking out the doors and our library books will be littering the grass. We love starting new traditions.

Book Pages: Magic Eye

My bucket list contains a few typical adventures, but mostly it contains everyday “appreciate what you have” type of endeavors. However, there are one or two items on the list that seem pretty trivial (no sugarcoating). They are skills that I’ve wanted to experience for a long time. One of them was to be able to see the “Magic Eye.” I was never able to see them as a kid. They were all the rage when I was a kid, but they frustrated me. I was a straight-A student, but when I couldn’t accomplish certain things like this, I felt downright dumb. Only once, I almost saw one, but with my undeveloped youthful eye, I looked away.

I was at the library one day recently looking for something completely unrelated, and this book was stuck in among various psychology titles. So, I checked it out along with the books about the brain. How fitting, eh?

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My friends, I cannot tell you how excited I am to tell you that I saw one! I finally saw one!!! Actually, I saw an entire book of them! I was just as fascinated as any 1980s child to bring the book to bed with me and go through the pages. I finally have the wonky eye technique down, and I couldn’t be more proud, if only for the little girl in me that tried so hard.

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If you’re dying to know how to do it too, you put the book pretty close to your face (as if you’re trying to read it without reading glasses–about 1-ft). Then, you “soften” your gaze, so your eyes aren’t focused, but they’re not cross-eyed either. Then, just stare off “into space” as though you’re looking right through the book. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s what worked for me.

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Next “trivial” item on the list–learn how to hula hoop. The little girl in me still watches people that can do it with wonder, because I’ve never been able to coordinate the hip-hoop movement. I can twirl it on my arm, yes, but not my waist. Anyone know the trick?

Book Pages: Natural Beauty Recipes

Some things never change, like my love of natural remedies and health aids. I was one of those kids with oatmeal and honey pore masks on my face. Uh-huh.

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I picked up this vintage copy of The Complete Book of Natural Cosmetics when I was not even old enough to drive to the grocery store to buy the ingredients. And it still has a place on my bookshelf all these years later.

I knew what tinctures, concoctions, tonics and infusions were, just like a good little apothecary. However, I didn’t practice my medicine because of course my parents weren’t too keen on buying me bottle of vodka for medicinal purposes. Haha!

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Here’s a little recipe we can all try:

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And here are some charming vintage ink pen drawing we can all admire:
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This recipe just kills me. Strain your tapioca and herb mixture through an old nylon stocking foot. What is it with vintage books and nylon stockings lately? Ha! I’m okay with recycling them for alternate uses since it’s not exactly trendy to cover your legs with them anymore. However, using old ones for tapioca straining gives me the chills a little.
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What natural recipes have you used before? Beer hair rinses, anyone? I think I’m going to whip me up a batch of that apple lotion this weekend and put it in a really pretty glass apothecary jar.

Book Pages: Beautiful Hand Calligraphy

I remember doing a unit on calligraphy in my middle school art class. My mom took me to the store to buy an extra-special set of calligraphy pens because of my fervent interest in this particular art unit. Besides wanting to be an actress, ranch worker, artist, writer, singer-songwriter, fashion designer, beach bum and naturalist, I also wanted to be a professional calligrapher at one point. I even collected all the necessary tools and scavenged this seconhand calligraphy book:

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Check out these rad typeface techniques. These would be perfect for art journals or scrapbooks.

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Beautiful spiralling calligraphy:
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Have you ever tried calligraphy before? It’s an enchanting art form. You can add another dimension of visual beauty to your handmade greeting cards or handwritten wedding invitations. This triple-tip technique looks reminiscent of manuscripts from the 18th century or something.

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And here is my own attempt at an ancient typeface. This sheet was tucked inside the book and probably written by the little 7th grade version of me. I can hardly believe that I could pull this off at age 12.

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Immediately upon seeing this practice page, something reignited inside of me. I just love the aesthetic of calligraphic letters. I think a part of me has always wanted to combine art and writing in some meaningful way. Well, ta-da!

Fitness On My Reading List

I picked up two health books on a recent trip to the library. Have I ever told you how much I love the library? Whenever I hear about a new book by Tracy Anderson or someone else of interest, I will often go reserve it online. It may take weeeeks, but hey, it’s free. And I’m ok with being a tad bit behind on the world’s reading pace.

This trip, I grabbed Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel and Fitness & Health by Brian Sharkey.

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I have this fascination with becoming a certified personal trainer just so I know the science behind my workouts, not because I have a strong desire to start a new side business. When I found the Sharkey book, I knew that I had found what I was looking for. It looks like a textbook for an exercise physiology major. Yes, some of it is majorly boring, but I’m keying in on the stuff I really want to know about, like VO2 max and such. You’re never too old to learn stuff!

I also just made it through Frankel’s book (yes she has a prickly personality, but there’s just something about her inner drive and business savvy that’s admirable, am I right?), and here are my favorite quotes that stood out from her book:

The simple fact is that you don’t function normally if you constantly have to measure, count, restrict, and obsess over food” (p.7). I love this! It really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? ‘Nuff said.

No food is fattening, in a small quantity” (p. 45). Nothing is off-limits. Yipee. Just don’t eat the whole cake in one sitting. I can do that!

Talking about and thinking about food constantly can result in eating more than you really need or want, just because food is on the brain” (p.61). So true! That’s why it’s so important to not make food such an obsession. Distract and reward yourself with non-food activities to start training your brain away from that connection. Food shouldn’t be such a worrisome thing.

Make food special…Taking a little extra time to make your meal special will help you to feel so much more satisfied and content with your food” (p. 59). This relates to my previous post about making memories around healthy food. Food should be meaningful, not just something we shove in our mouths in between typing emails at work (oops, guilty!). Growing your own ingredients, refining your own recipes, and “designing” your own meals makes food more friendly.

Let me narrow this all down: Make friends with food, but don’t follow it around like a stalker.

Ah, such sage advice from a former Desperate Housewife.

Book Pages: Totally 70s Teen Scene

I picked this book up, not for reading pleasure, but simply for gaping at. The visuals are all-too-adorable and the tips are so cutely out-dated, I can hardly stand it. Just look at the title: Teen Scene: 1001 Groovy Hints & Tips. Your New Super-Hip NOW Guide to Everything!!! This book is rated “I” for tuned-in teens. Hee hee!

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Being the fitness buff that I am, I couldn’t resist the exercise and diet sections in the book. Oh, the health snobs of today would have a field-day with some of the downright outlandish tips. Here are the best of the best:

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Mmmmm. The vegetable bouillon/carrot diet. How healthy is that? Not very!

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Remember those side-to-side stretches in gym class?
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So that’s how they got such straight, sleek hair. They wore nylon stockings on their heads at night. They never taught us that on Three’s Company, now did they?

Oh, this book is just chock-full of these precious off-kilter gems of advice.

The Book and its Cover

I’ve learned a lot of things about myself from reading. Authors have an inexplicable gift for putting seemingly unimportant circumstances into words that make them sound profound and forming crisp ideas in the mind of the reader.

Reading material also has the tendency to trigger new ideas in me. From reading, or sometimes accidentally reading things wrong, I’ve come up with ideas for writing. Small nuances, gestures, explanations or observations begin a cycle of thought that’s all my own. It might be a memory trigger, an emerging pattern, or a way of looking at something from an unexpected angle.

I have also learned a great deal about myself from books. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance brought me out of an all-encompassing funk when I was a teenager. I had an inferiority complex and was extremely self-conscious, to say the least. I couldn’t understand why people generally dismissed me, come to find out I was projecting an image of, to be frank, worthlessness. The main character was told that he came off as harsh and conceited when he didn’t participate in conversation, even though he was really the shy, contemplative, watch-from-the-sidelines type. This sort of revelation, as simple as it sounds, had a profound effect on my life. It’s those sagacious passages that have the ability to trigger momentous ah-ha moments just when we need them most.

This idea can also be applied to your outer appearance, your visible binding and covers. When you wear frumpy clothes, throw your hair into a bun, bite off your nails and fail to remove accumulated lint from your garments, you come off as someone who doesn’t care. People instantly read this cover, no matter how much you think they won’t. I’m not saying your worth is found in how you look, but the care you take with yourself tells people something about you before they have a chance to peel back the layers.

This is why they tell you that to be a good writer, you need to read; to be a good conversationalist, you need to read; to understand the world, you need to read; to take a break from your life, you need to read. There are so many reasons to read, but nearly none more important than mining your own identity and understanding your existence in this fine world.

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