Books: The Good and Even Better of 2017 and Reading Goals for 2018

Books of 2017 and 2018

At the beginning of 2018, I had set out on Goodreads to read 18 books. I read 17 completely, and two halves, so that’s 18, right?

Anyway, I wanted to share with you, assuming you also like to read, what I read, what the winners were and what I could have left behind. And I’m always curious to know what other people are reading, so link me into your Goodreads profile, or feel free to give me some book suggestions!

Out-Of-The-Park Books (IE: Yes, EVERYONE Should Read These)

  • Daring Greatly – Brene Brown – I think Brene Brown’s books should be human mandatory reading. I embarrassingly didn’t really truly understand “shame” until I started reading her books and it truly has changed the way I think.
  • Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment – Amir Levine – If you are a human being and leave the house and have relationships with other human beings, even if only platonic, you must read this book. It’s that important.

I Liked Them, Personally (IE: I Would Recommend Them)

So-So

Wouldn’t Recommend – Not even going to link to it

  • Unfuck Your Habitat – Rachel Hoffman – Nothing new or groundbreaking in this book. It felt like my mother nagging with a twist of fuck to make it edgy. Nah thanks.

Couldn’t Finish

  • Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry – I really, really wanted to get into this book, because I love Rohinton Mistry, but it wasn’t the right time for me. I will definitely revisit.
  • When The Body Says No, The Cost of Hidden Stress – Gabor Mate – Gabor Mate is amazing, but this book stressed me out, ha. I truly believe everything he wrote up until the point of me putting it down, but hearing about all the shit we’re susceptible to if we think certain ways was a downer to me and I needed to put it down and go live and not think about dying.

Books I Will Read in 2018

20 – in terms of books I will read this year, feels good to me. I only read 1 fiction book in 2017! That can definitely be improved. Any suggestions? I’m also in a bit of a Winston Churchill phase and my woo-woo side hasn’t left, and likely never will. Here is what I’ve come up with so far in terms of reads, feel free to give some recommendations, especially fiction:

  • Winston and Clementine: The Personal Letters of the Churchills – Mary Soames
  • The Untethered Soul – Michael A. Singer
  • Evolution of Goddess – Emma Mildon
  • Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill – Sonia Purnell
  • Eat Dirt – Dr. Josh Axe
  • Brain Maker – Dr. David Perlmutter
  • Power vs. Force – David Hawkins

What’s on your list? Care to join me along in a 2018 reading challenge on Goodreads? I don’t care if your goal is to read 5 books, or 50, reading is good for the soul (and your brain, and your life). I’m here on Goodreads.

Books for Free

Also, if you don’t want to buy every single book, check out Hoopla, which is what I use, to borrow them digitally from your local library system. I love buying books, but I reserve that now for books I know I love, or one’s I’m not entirely sure of just yet.

In the meantime, happy reading!

Brooke Simmons

 

10 Self-Lessons That Actually Changed Me From 3 Weeks In Europe

31 Ways to Sunday - 10 Life Lessons that Actually Changed Me

Bonjour, my darlings.

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here.

The end of the summer was a whirlwind. I was burnt out for many reasons, and was desperately looking forward to an upcoming trip I had planned to Europe and the UK for 3 weeks.

Trust me, leaving the country was exactly what the doctor ordered.

And it was fucking amazing.

My gal pal Jen and I took off for 21 days starting in London, heading to Cologne, Munich (for Oktoberfest), Paris and finally Reykjavik. It was a marvellous trip, full of laughs, drunken nights (several), shit loads of bread and cheese and beer and wine and everything else that we “shouldn’t” eat, new friends, AND we even made it into a movie. (More to come on our adventures).

Since I’ve been back, I’ve dived head first back into my business, joined a weekly business group, started learning to fly (airplanes), started learning the drums and got back out in my social circles. Life is busy. Life is good. A good change from things before I left.

Sometimes taking a step back to take a look at your life without the weeds has the ability to allow you to see areas where you are strong, areas where you need support, and sometimes gives you the ability to intuitively make calls on what you really need to fill gaps or make space to fulfill yourself a little bit more than before. Forward movement. Positive steps.

There are lessons to be learned with travel. I was expecting fully to learn about culture, history and people in the places that we travelled, but what I wasn’t quite expecting was the fulfilling and seriously life-changing lessons I learned about myself that I have taken home and moved forward with. I literally felt that I came home with these things wrapped in a box waiting for them to be dived in further.

This was an amazing gift.

Here are 10 Self-Lessons That Actually Changed Me From 3 Weeks In Europe

  1. I got really fucking clear on my needs – Something about spending time away from daily routines, people, and places allows us to view them from a different lens and also add a new twist to our view of things based on our new experiences. Despite not travelling on this trip with a romantic partner, I got really crystal clear on what my needs are right now in a relationship. I got really clear on work…what I want to do, what I don’t want to do anymore and what I want to explore. I got really clear on taking time for myself and saying no once and a while. Goal: Communicate these needs more to other people.
  2. No excuses time away from work is a non-negotiable – I planned on having “work days” while I was away. And I did for the most part. But I threw some out the window. And I would never plan on scheduling work time again while away. Why? Because we all deserve to go and play. We are worthy of play/rest/relaxation time. Furthermore, when I play, I’m way more productive upon my return (which is why burnout is a thing). Goal: 2 weeks completely off the work grid in 2018.
  3. I can still make money when I am not working – Although my business is still more “me” dependant than I would like, I have some pretty rad people on my team right now who kept the wheels turning quite well in my absence. We even brought in new business while I was away. Goal: Polish this even further in 2018, so the biz is making money while everyone is on holiday.
  4. It’s ok to indulge. And indulge some more – Shockingly I ate a lot. I know that rarely happens when people go away on vacation. Being the curious cat that I am, I wanted to try, try, try. I ate the local favourites wherever possible and felt ZERO guilt. We drank every day but one (only because the resto we went to did not serve alcohol and we were too hungover to be bothered to grab our own). Could I do this all the time? No. But I indulged. I didn’t feel sick, even after all the cheese and baguettes in Paris. I actually felt awesome. I gave myself permission for this window of time to have no rules. Sometimes we put ourselves in tight boxes of rules in real life. Break them once and a while. Goal: Designate days and times to ignore ALL the rules without guilt.
  5. Big, slow, German breakfasts are my “jam” – Speaking of eating. When staying with my beautiful friend Karin in Cologne, (I could write a whole post this amazing woman), she put out this beautiful German breakfast spread every morning. Breads, cheeses, meats, yogurt, fruit, jams. And we sat and savoured it. Slowly. Karin is quite glamorous. She enjoys her food, her wine, hearty laughter, the occasional ciggy, and she savours life. This was a beautiful way to start the day. A full meal, not rushed. Not checking CNN, emails or standing up waiting to throw the dishes in the sink and rush out the door. Just enjoyed. On pretty dishes. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been more conscious of allowing myself the time to enjoy my breakfasts. Why breakfast? No idea. It just seems like a glamorous and stress free ease into a hectic day. Something that I’ve noticed since doing this is that taking my time with breakfast and in the morning actually increased my efficiency later in the day. Who cares if you take an hour if you are really enjoying yourself? Goal: Use pretty plates and trays and glam up my breakfast routine as much as fucking possible. Because it makes me happy.
  6. I can eat raw pork and not die – Raw pork. Yep. I love me a good tartar, but when a bun with raw pork came rolling past my curious eyeballs in our local hang in Cologne, I knew it was something I had to try, (much, I’m sure to poor Jen’s vegetarian gag reflex…she was so understanding of my meat eating curiosity). I had health insurance if things got dicey. It’s called Mett, and it was eaten very frequently in Cologne. And it was good! And I didn’t die or even have a bellyache. Goal: Always try something new on the menu.
  7. I can sit with uncomfortable feelings, they won’t eat me – From time to time some things came up for me. Normal things like homesickness, a bit of “what am I doing with my life” after a particularly late night, and one day I remember in particular in Paris, extreme restlessness and unease without an obvious cause that would not settle. Travelling with a close friend, I felt I could be honest about this stuff. But some things don’t have a known cause to talk through. I couldn’t always just go lock myself away or take a nap. I remember one day sitting there and just giving myself permission to feel the way I felt without doing anything about it. It passed. It wasn’t complicated or dramatic. It just passed. I think this is what they mean when in meditation they say “just observe”. Goal: Observe feelings without assigning them a value, and they too, shall pass.
  8. Self compassion is where it’s at – Out of all of these things, this was the biggest take home for me. Self compassion. Being mindful with how I feel and what my needs are and being kind to myself about it. We are often super compassionate to other people, yet hold ourselves at a ridiculously high standards using “should” self talk and other limiting beliefs that we have whipped up over the years. Self compassion involves recognizing that we aren’t perfect – we never will be. It does not turn into a whiny self indulging, self pity-party, but allowing ourselves to be imperfect and looking at it with compassion. How this exact thing came up for me during this trip is a mystery. All I know is that I had a clear “self compassion” message when I came home that I actually went out and read this book (which I would recommend). Goal: Observe my actions and thoughts compassionately, as I would for a loved one.
  9. I will never, ever check bags again – I used to be that girl. The one with the oversized bags. Literally. Oversized bag tags for the embarrassing win. Carry-on bags for 21 days was a total experiment. Jen and I agreed that we should really try to do this, to both save on money and time spent waiting around for bags at airports. Also, we did a LOT of train travel, and having a gigantic suitcase would have sucked. I stuffed all of my belongings in a backpack and small carry-on suitcase. It was a Christmas miracle that this actually happened, but I did plan ahead and packed versatile pieces. We took advantage of our AirBNB laundry facilities and learned to pack and repack (and repack) like pros. Goal: Throw out my Kim K. sized suitcase, i’ll never use it again.
  10. You can make it happen – What makes me sad is that some people don’t ever experience the gift that you can give yourself of travel. “I can’t afford it”, or “too busy” often get in the way of the bigger picture of the cultural and personal learning that happens when we get away from our daily routines and into different culture. Jen and I planned ahead and tried to make logical spending decisions. Travel is a gift and I assure you with the right amount of pre-planning and research, almost anyone can make a decent learning trip happen. Goal: Explore, travel and breathe in the beauty of this beautiful world as often as possible.

Brooke Simmons

She Let Go

Hello beautiful souls…

I’m travelling this week, truly practicing the digital nomad lifestyle in preparation for my upcoming trip to Europe in a few weeks. So, haven’t had recipe testing time in a bit to share with you.

But I do have a gem that I found using my meditation app that is simply beautiful. It’s a poem that is elegantly read by John Siddique and written by Safire Rose.

Many people are feeling some intense energy lately. As we add things into our lives with open hearts and love, sometimes (oftentimes), it’s necessary to let things go. To truly love and value yourself, it is so important to lovingly let go of people, things and situations that do not align with our values. As hard as it may be.

If you are in this boat, I offer you this…to sit and reflect on. I hope it serves you as much as it does me.

 

Brooke Simmons

Defining Your Fears with Tim Ferriss

6.5 years ago, I read a book called the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss that quite literally changed my life. That sounds dramatic and cliche and it wasn’t like I had a real epiphany from the book. But it sparked an idea that took off, and years later I am a self employed location independent business owner (which means I could quite literally work anywhere in the world with an internet connection). So yeah… corporate sheeple job to business owner with major flexibility. That’s a life changer.

I dig Tim Ferriss.

I also dig his podcast – he is focused on productivity and habits of the worlds most interesting and successful people. Obviously, I like productivity and habits too.

A Powerful Tool

A few weeks ago, while surfing around YouTube, I saw that he had done another TED talk. (If we’re being honest, I’m kinda over the TED talk thing, but that’s another story for another day). But since it’s Tim, I decided to watch and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’m going to let you watch it yourself, but to me it was profound. It was vulnerable. It spoke to everyone – from people who suffer from mental illness, to every day people trying to get through a challenge or plan their future. And it offered a tool that we can all implement in our lives today to start breaking down and defining our fears – and consider this before setting goals.  This. Was. Powerful!

 

I hope you find as much value in this as I did.

Brooke Simmons

Read With Me!

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/59043211-brooke-simmons

I’m not sure if i’ve told you this or not, but I do love a good book. I love to learn. I’m curious about a lot of things. This is where my book addiction comes into play. Now, I’m not the fastest reader on the planet. I’m not one of those people who can polish off a book in an afternoon. Some books I read faster than others – especially books I can’t put down which become my all time favourites like this one, this one and this one.

Over on Goodreads (my profile is here, let’s be friends), I have set a goal for myself to read 18 books in 2017. (I’m on #5). I’ve decided to start posting my book reviews here. Bare with me…this isn’t something that comes naturally. The first one will be a little thin. But hopefully I will get better at it.

Have you set a reading goal for this year? Have any book selections? I’d love to hear them.

Welcome, Goober!

About a month ago, we added a new member to our family. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve been bombarded with pictures and videos of our new little adorable dirt taxi. I introduce (duh da da dahhhhh)….Goober:

 

Goober was a rescue. It’s clear he had a home, likely with children based on his reaction to them (he loves them on TV and in person), and I would bet someone in his family owned a diesel truck. No one claimed him despite many, many efforts for a long time. He was alone in a lonely shelter, that also doubled as a fire hall in the middle of nowhere. It makes me sad to think about it actually.

Goober is my third lifetime rescue, and after a few experiences, I would honestly not do anything else. They may come with a small amount of baggage, but they love hard and are very appreciative of a warm, snuggly home. After casually looking at the PetFinder ads for several months, I knew Goober was meant to be ours when I stumbled upon his ad. I felt the same way when I found Charles:

Charles the Rescue Dog
Charles was an older dog we rescued and he passed away in 2014.

 

If you are considering your next fur-family member (of any sort) I would definitely urge you to start with considering a rescue. They are often wayyyyy less inexpensive than “buying” a dog, usually have a vet check done (not in Goober’s case, but I was ok with that to get him out of there), and if you are willing to put some time and effort into basic training, make amazing family companions. PetFinder is a great place to start.

Love from Goober…and

 

Boundaries and Difficult People

Boundaries and Difficult People

Recently, I’ve had a few instances in my life, that (in my head) go like this:

Me: Puts up a fence to protect time/space/work/family/etc. etc..

Random Person: Acting kerfuffled, starts up a bulldozer and immediately bulldozes the fence down.

Me: Picks up lumber, resurrects fence.

Random Person: Throws a temper tantrum and fires up their bulldozer again and demolishes the fence.

Ok, it’s dramatic, but it’s a funny scene in my head and really a metaphor for what some people do with other people’s boundaries.

Essentially, boundaries are the roped off areas in various facets of our lives, or distances we set to protect our well being. They are not walls. You are not blocking anyone or yourself.

You are simply stating, “please don’t step on the grass”.

Boundaries are as unique as we are. When communicated clearly, they teach people how to treat us, and how we expect to be treated. They protect our time, energy and our lives.

My fiercest boundary right now is surrounding my time. It’s a daily issue as I have multiple balls in the air every day. I have to make time to be a mom, a lover, a collaborator, a friend, a healthy person, a fur-child mama, someone who has enough sleep (…or else cray cray), a business owner, a client partner, a creator, a sales person and etc. etc.  Also – if I don’t get unstructured free time away from my laptop and phone, my creativity shits the bed – so add in “nothing time”.

You get it. You are busy too.

So basically, time is very, very important to me.

I feel like communicating a boundary clearly to other people (and even ourselves) from the get go is the easiest, (but not always possible) solution. At home for my teen, I set out a list of behaviours that won’t be tolerated without serious risk of losing privileges. At work, I set out some clear guidelines in a FAQ document and communications guidelines for my clients.

When a boundary has been crossed without the pre-communication, sometimes its best to gently let the person know. People don’t know what they don’t know. Reasonable people will totally respect your wishes without a second thought and they probably didn’t mean to overstep on purpose.

Difficult people may put up a fight.

Or they may pull a guilt trip, or throw a reverse psychology nunchuck at your head. Sometimes they will punish you in silent ways. Difficult people may also apologize when they’ve crossed the line, but continue fire up the bulldozer over and over again.

Dealing With Bulldozer Drivers

My first course of action with bulldozer drivers is distance. They get less of my time, energy and resources. This is not coming from a bitter place, but of a place of efficiency and self care. My life needs to happen, and drama and bulldozed boundaries tend to fuck up my day and could jeopardize my work.  Sometimes I let them back in little by little and give them small pieces. If it’s repetitive, it’s time for a good ol’ 5 steps back, and an unemotional evaluation of the relationship. Is it time to peacefully end? It may be. Sometimes people just won’t care. No matter how much we have faith that they will. And that is something that needs to be looked at, because continually feeling like your boundaries are disrespected will get exhausting.

Other times it’s impossible to end a relationship, at least immediately, and this is where some real tenacity and loyalty to yourself plays a big role. My suggestion is to not stir the pot, but also assert yourself where you need to. And also remember you may need extra energy when dealing with certain people or situations…so be kind to yourself.

Setting Boundaries

Boundaries that are clearly communicated to other people should not be threatening or manipulative.

“If you don’t to X then Y will happen to you” or, “if you don’t conform to my demands then I’m not going to help you with X”. Those two statements have nothing to do with boundaries and everything to do with control. The boundary differs by saying “I really want to help you, but you aren’t really respecting me (my time/my energy/my home/my love) right now”.

If we’re going to be honest here, then I need to say that I have also inadvertently stepped on other people’s boundaries. Being late is one that comes to mind.  While sometimes unavoidable, it does send the message that my time is more important than yours. It sucks to wait for people…I understand. I’m aiming for better.

I’m aiming to be more self aware and curious as to how my behaviour could be affecting other people’s boundaries.

Creating boundaries is not the most difficult thing to do, it’s enforcing them and having to have conversations that could bring up emotions in yourself or others that is tricky. But it’s something that is so needed to maintain a healthy, busy, abundant life.

I have some questions for you to ponder:

Where are you feeling that boundaries need to be made in your life?

Where are you feeling that you may be pushing other people’s boundaries?
Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

My 2017 More/Less List – No More New Years Resolutions

More Less New Years Resolutions

Happy 2017 my lovelies. I’m a bit late getting on this blog (I’ve been putting a lot of time in over on my business blog), but I really want to write more here this year. How are your New Years resolutions going so far?

I’m sharing again with you, my More/Less list. It’s something I compile every year, (I share 2015’s here), separate from my specific personal and business goals (which are solid, recorded and measurable), but in lieu of New Year’s “resolutions”. Resolutions never quite sat well with me as they are vague goals…my more/less list are things (and actually more along the lines of habits) that I would like to do more of, or less of. Have more of, have less of. Make more of, make less of. You get the idea.

There is no failure if I want “more abs” but in March I didn’t do one single sit up. I’m simply aiming to be better, do better, have more of that. There is space to try again. There is space for forgiveness – on both lists.

Here is my 2017 More/Less list:

More

  • Blogging
  • Writing
  • Videos
  • Fairness
  • Intuition
  • Adventure
  • Travel
  • Sleep
  • Gym Time
  • Abs
  • Gardening
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Unconditional Love
  • Sex
  • Consciousness
  • Compassion
  • Creation
  • Reading
  • Expansion
  • Decorating
  • Mountain Biking
  • Growing food
  • Self-care
  • Mid-week adventures
  • Vacations/Time Off
  • Abundance
  • Giving
  • Serving

Less

  • Alcohol
  • Complaining
  • Gossiping
  • Stress
  • Sugar
  • Gluten
  • “Shoulds”
  • Facebook
  • Comparing
  • Accepting less than
  • Excuses – for me and other people

Easy peasy…I’ve put these in my Bullet Journal for constant review. Something that I think is important to keeping on top of what you want to get or achieve.

What do you want to do more or less of this year? Do you create New Years resolutions?

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

Mercury is Out of Retrograde

Haha…I saw this picture this morning on my Facebook timeline. Mercury is no longer retrograde. Let the computer Gods rejoice.

The Mercury retrograde phenomenon – for me at least –  is an actual thing. The day Mercury went retrograde (August 30th) my internet went on the fritz and my phone pretty much bit the biscuit. Throughout this retrograde, a tech project I’ve been working on has caused me many bangs of my head against the desk.

In Astrology, Mercury surrounds communication, travel, thought and logic. When it goes retrograde (the illusion of it moving backwards, even though it just slows down a ton), it has been known to snarl otherwise harmonious plans and communications.

And of course, it’s handy to have a planet to yell at when the internet goes down.

Mercury goes retrograde again on December 19th, 2016.

What shifts do you notice in a Mercury retrograde period?

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday

 

Summer Heat Hack: Facecloths in the Fridge

Summer Heat Hack-

Howdy, my hot, hot friends. Has it been hot enough for you? Where I am, yes, thank you. I believe I’m fully sauna detoxed at this point. This summer where I am (Ontario) it’s been hot, hot and freakin’ hot. I’ve been religiously throwing cold damp facecloths in the fridge to have handy and it’s proven to be a valuable little hack if I do say so myself.

Facecloths in the Fridge
Cheap, white Dollarama face cloths come in handy for this purpose!

I always have in stock about 30 facecloths – mostly those baby facecloths as I use them to remove make up, etc. and they are pretty gentle and soft. I also get plain white ones from Dollarama and have given up on using my nice ones unless company is staying over…I’m tired of having to chuck the expensive ones in the trash due to my mascara issues.

Every evening before bed, I take a couple of clean cloths, dampen them with cool water, wring them out well (don’t let them sit in a pile of water), and stack them on a side plate in the fridge for a few hours to get cool. The plate conducts the cold better than a ziplock or Tupperware container. Cold showers are always useful, but sometimes you just need a quick, portable cool down.

Ways I use my cold cloths in the summer:

  • Seriously, just to cool the eff down…forehead, back of neck, boobs….whatever…it’s hot.
  • On my eyeballs for 10 minutes in the morning.
  • On my face after my shower and before primer/make up…to close pores and un-swell.
  • On areas where I’ve got too much sun.
  • Great for cooling/wiping off when coming in from yard work/gardening/running/other sweaty activity.
  • On the back of my neck when I’m blowdrying my hair – this activity has the potential to actually spontaneously ignite my body…cold cloths help.
  • For kids when they have had a bit too much heat/sun/excitement or to bring fevers down.

It feels humidI make sure to have a few to start with so I can toss one’s that I’ve used directly in the laundry (which is why I always have a lot). Only put clean cloths in the fridge. I also wouldn’t let them sit for days…although they are in cooler temps so undesirable bacterial growth would be slow but you just don’t even want to play with that…they will also slowly dry up. Throw a few in the fridge before bed or in the morning when you are fixing your coffee/tea/bong hit.

Stay cool, my Loves!

Brooke Simmons Blog 31 Ways to Sunday