Tag Archives: Books

A Long Love of Reading

IMG_5037I started reading and speaking at about the same time. Letters and words read to me by adults became a magical fixation. Entranced by their power, at the age of one and a half, I was determined to harness the pictures for the words that adults used.

The books had pictures and were made of cardboard. The best audio books came with cassette tapes and had a voice or beep that told you when to turn the page, allowing me to more easily follow along. Goodnight Moon was one of my favorites. I’d listen to the words, following along in my book.

Listen to a book, follow along, rewind, repeat. Over and over, memorizing the words. Each word a little picture. I was reading but not phonetically. Deciphering the code, little by little. I started with easy words like dog, cat, and god (sometimes mixing up dog & god).

To entertain myself in the car I would read and call out the letters and words on street signs. On one road trip just before my second birthday, as my mother reviewed directions on a large paper map, I suddenly became VERY excited and thrust my tiny finger enthusiastically onto the map. “Ping-Pong! Ping Pong!” I exclaimed, pointing to the small town of Ding-Dong, Texas.

Earlier in the day, I’d been watching Beanie & Cecil. In the episode, they had sailed to the island of “Ping-Pong” and shown the location on a map. I was very excited when I thought I’d found it.

Reading came easy for me and had a head start on the other kids when I started Pre-K. Unfortunately, by the time I got to first grade, I hit my first roadblock. Reading aloud, something I still avoid as much as possible.

We sat in a circle, textbooks open. “As we go around the room, everyone will read a IMG_1704paragraph. We will go around the circle until we finish the story.” My memory of that day is still remarkably clear. I will always be able to replay those events in my head.

I remember the teacher’s anger when I didn’t read my paragraph. I remember reading the words in my mind, screaming the words in my head, then begging the words to come out of my mouth. Nothing. I knew the words but couldn’t say them. I remember being sent out of class for refusing to participate in the activity and I remember being ashamed.

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In middle school reading was a solitary activity, allowing me to dig myself deep into the elaborate universes of Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, & Stephen King. In the eighth grade I devoured Interview With a Vampire, Dracula, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

Throughout high school, I worked on writing. Listening to my favorite authors, making note of the writing styles and story patterns. Creating edgy teen vampire fiction, printed from an old Windows 95 computer. I placed the stories into brad folders before passing them along to my classmates.

 

As I’ve grown and changed, my love of reading has evolved. As a girl, I’d escape into fiction. In my late twenties, I started to find more value and joy in the accumulation of facts. There are still vivid pictures in my mind when I read, but now I’m visualizing real concepts, like human digestion and brain function.

 

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It’s fun to reflect back on my history of reading. To think that it all started on the laps of adults who cared enough to read to me, even before I could speak. How could my life have been different had I not received this type of encouragement? What would have happened if the people around me had cared less?

 

Many of my earliest memories involve books. I will always be grateful for those who nurtured my love of reading.

Good Day or Bad Day? It’s All How You Look at it – Six Steps to Positive Thinking

Is the raccoon looking in or is he looking out? Either way, he can climb that fence – unless he is locked in a cage. We can’t tell the perspective.

Our joy, and perhaps even our curse, as human beings often come from our ability to chose the way we will view and interpret the world.

People who are able to grow a more sunny outlook on things are happier and have less stress than those who tend to focus on problems.

It seems like a no-brainer – always think about the best parts of every situation. Still, many of us find ourselves stuck on the negatives in front of us.

If we are fortunate we discover, and master, positive thinking at a younger age. Looking around at people of all ages, it is painfully obvious (and sad) that some people will go a lifetime and never uncover the answer.

Does anyone else love lists?  Here are six things you can work on (one at a time if you like) if you want to get positive by reshaping your way of thinking.

Six Steps to Positive Thinking 

Learn to direct your thoughts. As soon as you catch yourself thinking about anything negative actively change your mind to think about anything else that is positive. If you are working on a gratitude practice this is a good time to shift your mind to what you are grateful for.

This may be easy for you or extremely tough. Sometimes our brains are just wired to focus on the negative. Our repetitive thoughts and actions reinforce connections in our brains so digging out new connections can take time and effort (especially if you have a long history of negative thinking). In the long run, it’s well worth the effort.

Surround yourself with positive people.

If you surround yourself with negative, miserable, unhappy people your life is going to be negative, miserable, and unhappy. If you surround yourself with positive people who will influence you to do better in life, living with joy, than you will do those things.

You are influenced by and become like the people you allow into your life. Choose those people carefully.

Take responsibility for your life and your actions. I know this one may sound like a bit of a bummer at first but really taking your life into your own hands is an empowering move. When you take responsibility for your life you step up and say “Nobody has the power over whether I  succeed or fail. Nobody can hold me down or stop me, only I can do that.”

Start a gratitude practice. Always pay attention to and look for things to be grateful for. Before you go to bed think about what you are grateful for. When you wake up in the morning have gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal. If you find yourself in a difficult situation – always remember to ask yourself “what can I be grateful for right now?”

Be mindful, meditate, do yoga or any other mindful exercise. If you don’t get enough exercise and eat healthy foods you are going to get sick and feel like crap. It is very difficult to be positive when you feel shitty.

Take care of your body and take the time to relax your mind. Be mindful as you exercise. If you learn to pay attention to how your body is feeling. Pay attention to each footstep below you, feel it. Breathe with intention, focusing on the inhale and exhale. Let your workout calm your body and mind simultaneously.

Get inspired by positive people. Read books, listen to speeches, and reflect upon positive quotes of others. Listen to an audio biography of someone who inspires you on your way to work. Watch a TED Talk. Read self-help books. Subscribe to a new podcast. Find a mentor. Work with a life coach. Surround and feed your brain positive affirmations and avoid garbage.

Note: it is a good idea to unfollow/hide negative posts and people during this transition as they are poison for your brain.

At first, you may find yourself making mistakes. Hold yourself accountable. Fix them. Always be determined to do better next time. It’s worth the work. YOU are worth the work. You can do it!