The Art of Cozy – How to Hygge

The Little Book of Hygge

“Hygge has been called everything from ‘the art of creating intimacy,’ ‘coziness of the soul,’ and the ‘absence of annoyance,’ to ‘taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things,’ ‘cozy togetherness,’ and… ‘cocoa by candlelight’.”

By now, most everyone has heard of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). It’s a Danish concept, one of those words that don’t fully translate into English. I was drawn to it because I was trying to simplify my life; the values and principles are very similar to my own, things I’ve been working on this past year.

The Little Book of Hygge is pretty hygge itself (yes, I’m aware it’s a noun – consider it a stylistic choice). The pages are filled with warm, muted, faded shades of orange and blue. It’s an easy, cozy read – something to curl up with at the end of the day, something positive that doesn’t require too much energy, something that embodies how to hygge.

The Secret, Book, and Scone Society

secret, book, and scone

I have secrets, I have books, and now I have scones! I went through a phase at the turn of the decade when I read a lot of cozy mysteries. Like Nancy Martin’s Blackbird Sisters Mysteries, Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen Mysteries, Ellen Byerrum’s Crime of Fashion Mysteries – I had to look all of these up, I haven’t read any cozy mysteries since 2011. Though The Secret, Book, and Scone Society doesn’t exactly have the same feel as the ones mentioned. But I was very much attracted to the title; when you judge books by their covers, it encompasses much more than just the physical cover. I love books, I love scones, and secrets make literature oh so interesting/frustrating.

The Secret, Book, and Scone Society is about a fictional town with healing properties. Visitors come hoping to cure their ills. The story launches with an out-of-towner being killed. He ordered a scone from the baker and made an appointment with the bookstore owner, Nora, before being pushed off a cliff. The sheriff is pushing to rule his death a suicide. But the bookstore owner is doesn’t believe that, and neither does the baker. So they team up with two other friends to prove the murder.

“Stories are just like people. If you don’t approach them with an open mind and a healthy dose of respect, they won’t reveal their hidden selves to you. In that event, you’ll miss out on what they have to offer. You’ll walk through life an empty husk instead of a vibrant kaleidoscope of passion, wisdom, and experience.”

12 Ways to Build Resilience

12 Ways to Build Resilience

I’m not the most resilient person. I would go as far as to say I was quite lacking in resilience growing up. On the outside, it looked like I rolled with the punches and didn’t let anything bother me. But on the inside… Boy, was I a mess! I would often internalize every little thing, obsess over it to see where I went wrong. It never occurred to me that I could build resilience. That my inside could reflect my outward appearance. Honestly, I never really thought about it. And to be completely honest, I probably didn’t even know what resilience was.

So when I saw Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness, I was intrigued, to say the least. Could this be the answer to my low self-esteem? Is it possible for someone who is so easily hurt to build up defenses against all my insecurities? Will I finally be as strong on the inside as I appear on the outside?

Dr. Rick Hanson is a psychologist with extensive work on the need for building mental resources. Resilient is his latest book of that theme.

From the cover:

“These days it’s hard to count on the world outside. So it’s vital to grow strengths such as grit, gratitude, and compassion—the keys to resilience and to lasting well-being in a changing world.

True resilience is much more than enduring terrible conditions. We need resilience every day to raise a family, work at a job, cope with stress, deal with health problems, navigate issues with others, heal from old pain, and simply keep going.”

Budget in Action!

After reading You Need a Budget, I decided to put a budget in action! I was planning a trip to Korea and Japan summer of 2019; some friends and I studied abroad in the summer of 2009, and thought it would be cool to go back ten years later!

Of the four of us planning to go, one friend is a freelancer, and I’m an unemployed grad student. Money is going to be a problem for us. I thought, why not use what I just learned to work this out and see if we can even afford to go? I’m pretty scared the answer’s gonna be “no” 🙁 . But, I spent a month in Europe and came home with a bill of a little over $3,000. How bad can two weeks in Korea and Japan be?

4 Steps to Keeping a Budget

You Need a Budget

I never learned how to keep a budget. As a child, I was taught to save money – to have a permanent rainy day fund, so to speak. So I would save every penny I could, albeit a bit aimlessly. And since I saved so much of my income, I felt safe splurging sometimes (not regularly, and not a lot, since a perpetual fear of becoming homeless was ingrained in me early on).

But I never knew exactly how much money I had. I didn’t check my bank accounts regularly; I only glanced at my credit card bills once a month. I wasn’t a big spender, so I never had reason to worry about money. Not in the way other people worry about money. My mother instilling the fear of God and homelessness in us doesn’t count, that’s not a legit reason.

Then I lost my job. And was suddenly looking at $0 income and thousands of dollars of grad school tuition to be paid in the next three years.

I spent the first year DOING NOTHING about it. I continued to live life the same way, just with much less spending. A majority of my expenses actually came from buying lunch at work; since I no longer had a job to buy lunch at, I haven’t become too deep in the hole during my first year of unemployment.

But as I approach the end of my liquid cash, I’m feeling the squeeze. I need to find a way to stretch out the savings I have left without cashing my retirement funds and other investments. It’s time for drastic measures.