booking it 2011 ~ january

I am loving this challenge. Not only am I following along with LifeAsMom's recommendations (the Eleven List) but I have added several of my own. I am finding that the TV is staying off and I am reading more than I have in quite some time. I like it! I am more focused and feel more peaceful. I am actually getting so much more done in every aspect of my life and ENJOYING it!

I think these charges are a direct result of the first book on the list: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This was such an easy read but really challenged me to think about what happiness means to me. What does it look like? How do I achieve it?

The biggest lesson I took away - be me. Just be Mary. Being a woman of faith I look to God for my blueprint. He doesn't want me to be the woman across the street or the one at the gym three sizes smaller. That's their job. Mine is to be the woman God intended ME to be. The wife, the mother, the sister, the daughter, the friend that He NEEDS me to be. I will fail...often. But if I keep getting up, not afraid of the failure but open to the lessons each failure can teach me then I am well on my way.

Happiness is up to me. I can choose to be happy no matter what the circumstance. I can CHOOSE to count my blessings no matter what trail I am facing. I can CHOOSE to smile even when I think my face will actually break in two and my heart along with it. If I keep looking for the positive I will find something to celebrate or overcome each and everyday.

I also need to challenge myself. One of my favorite quotes from the book was from William Butler Yeats. "Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing." That really resonated with me. I am happy when I am learning a new skill or perfecting an old one. I am happy in the kitchen and out. I get nervous around technology so i need to work on that. And my writing...well that's just plain hard some days. I cannot allow the fear of failure to dampen my enthusiasm for life and learning. I need to passionately persevere in ALL things.

There was so much more to this book. She covered faith, friends, family, and learning to be content no matter what. That's just a simple overview. So much great stuff. I highly recommend it. If you do read it, I would love to know what you take from it. I have no doubt it will resonate differently with each person who reads it. Gretchen also has an awesome blog by the same name. So many fabulous rescources there.

Here are the books I read on my own:
The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Second Chance by Sandr J. Garencher
Never Been Kissed by Melody Carlson
Fatal Judgement by Irene Hannon
Stars Collide by Janice Thompson
Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy
A fantastic thriller following Clancy's famous character Jack Ryan's son Jack Jr. as he joins the family business. Lots of twists and turns and a few emotional hits as well. A fun ride.
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
This one just hit me square in the heart. Hannah writes about best friends Kate and Tully who lead completely different lives. Their friendship spans 30 years through college, marriage, children career ups and downs. She follows them through their everyday living. I laughed. I cried. It was a fantastic book about the gift of a true friend.

I am excited to see where February leads me. There are many, many more books on my list. First up, one from the Eleven List from LifeAsMom: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Yay! It's going to be fantastic!

So...what are you reading lately??? Can't wait to hear so leave a comment...
Happy Reading!