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Wild Beauty and How to Judge a Book by Its Cover

Wild Beauty Judging a Book By Its Cover

You all know I will judge a book by its cover – I will judge the hell out of it. I spend a lot of time with the books I read. I will admire it on the bookshelf at the library, I will run my fingers over it when I’m deciding which book in my pile to read next, I will have a moment of silence closing the book after each reading session. Having an unappealing cover makes it less fun for everyone all around. There are also so many books out there that the cover needs to catch my eye, unless it has such superb content that I don’t care what the cover looks like.

Wild Beauty is not one of those books. But it has such a beautiful cover, I didn’t care what was on the inside. I saw it on Instagram and thought, “I must read that book.” And just like when you shallowly date someone for their looks instead of for who they are inside, it was a very short-lived relationship. I admit I was using it selfishly; winter was too weird (I live in Los Angeles – it was 40-90°F this past winter) and I was missing spring.

Day 7 – Start

Sooooo, I’ve been slacking on that writing challenge, haven’t I? I always start things the same way: jump in with both feet and a lot of enthusiasm, not considering all my previous obligations or the level of time commitment needed for a new venture. Not the best way to live life. I’m working on it, don’t judge.

I’ve never written a letter to my younger self. Isn’t it a pointless exercise, when it’s too late to change anything? It’s not as if my younger self could actually use any of this advice. All it would accomplish is to make me rehash all my mistakes and regrets and wish I could do it all over again. That’ll lead to a downward spiral of misery that will last a week.

But if I had to say one thing, it would be… START.

Start.  NOW.

(Fair warning: I’m going to say “start” so many times in this post, it will no longer look like a word in any language.)

There’s a proverb generally attributed to the Chinese, specifically attributed to Confucius – though who knows who said originally said it. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” It’s always been more depressing to me rather than motivating like it’s intended to be. Being a cynical pessimist for most of my life, it would lead to thoughts like, “Why didn’t I start 20 years ago?” (never mind that the first time I had this thought, 20 years ago I wouldn’t have existed) and “Well, what’s the point in starting now?” Safe to say, I had a lot of non-starters.

But I’m turning over a new leaf this year. Being a cynical pessimist didn’t pay very well, so I’m switching careers. I would like to try my hand at being a realist, occasionally even freelancing as an optimistic realist. (It’s too much to ask of me to become an optimist right off the bat.)

So why the letter to my younger self?

My whole life is essentially a variation on a theme. I keep coming back to the same regret: that I didn’t start earlier. No matter the regret, not starting was always part of it.

Putting words to paper has always been a significant part of my life. Yet I didn’t start taking writing seriously until this year. I didn’t start dancing until it was too late for me to be a professional dancer. And I didn’t start cherishing my relationships until people started dying.

It’s easy to say “start now,” much harder to follow through. I heard something on the radio today (I’m paraphrasing cuz I can’t remember it verbatim): The days are long, but the years are short. We live by the day, and we remember by the year. It gives the illusion that we have time, that we have time, that we still have time, until it’s too late, and we no longer have time.

Why now?

I guess this post serves two purposes. One, as a letter to my past and future selves. To my past self, an apology. To my future self, a reminder to start now. And two, I recently learned about a word-of-the-year exercise that people do. Essentially, it’s setting an intention for the year, by using a single word. I hadn’t picked a word; I was already trying to do too much, did I really want to add something else on top of that? But some of the best things in life, I’ve stumbled across accidentally, and this is no different.

START.

My intention for the year is to start. No matter what it is, whether it’s some passing fancy or the greatest passion of my life, I’m going to start. The second half of last year, “now” resonated very strongly with me. So it’s fitting that I work on “start” this year. Here’s to reducing regrets.

What would you tell your past and future selves? What is your word of the year, and why did you choose it?

5 NPR Podcasts for Inquiring Minds

5 NPR Podcasts for Inquiring Minds

Every now and then, I listen to podcasts. Not regularly, because I’m a visual learner, and my mind often starts to drift when I’m listening to audio. But I do follow eight podcasts (nine, if you count the one my sister sends me every few months), five of which are by NPR.

I didn’t start listening to NPR until a few years ago. In the beginning, I merely followed them on Facebook and would read the articles (again, because I’m a visual learner and I love reading). I don’t recall how I got into their podcasts, but I ended up following these five because they had interesting content that I could listen to while running errands or doing chores. Sometimes, I would even find reading material from the podcasts. So in no particular order…

5 Ways to Increase Your Potential

Big Potential

Have you ever felt as if you have hit a plateau without reaching your full potential? Do you wish you had tips and techniques on how to increase your potential? Shawn Achor is one of the world’s leading experts on happiness, success, and potential. His research has been published in top psychology journals and featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fortune. He’s also made an appearance on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sundays. In his new book, Big Potential, Achor brings us a system to do help us increase our potential.

“[I]nspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.”

Blancmange and the Devil in Spring

Blancmange and the Devil in Spring

Isn’t this cover just the prettiest? I absolutely judge books by their covers. And with spring just around the corner, this seemed perfect.

I’m a fan of historical romances. I like to read them to recharge when my brain is too tired to process nonfiction. Like, who doesn’t love a happy ending? And I end up learning a lot of vocabulary words through these novels. I mean, I learn a lot of technical terms and jargon through nonfiction, but it doesn’t have the same richness and nuanced meaning as now obsolete words from eras past.

I’m also a fan of almond desserts. So imagine finding an almond dessert recipe in an historical romance novel that I picked up because it had the most beautiful cover… Can you guess what happens next?