Friday, February 21, 2014

Zen and the Art of Reading- What blogging for a year has taught me.

February 22 marks the one year anniversary of this blog. Funny enough, I mentioned this factoid to my husband, and he looked surprised, remarking that he was certain it had only been a couple of months. I spent the better part of my five mile run today (which included long stretches of walking) to reflect on the past year. Actually, I spent a long time asking myself, "Why in the world do I blog?" I certainly have ample obligations to keep me more than busy throughout each day that blogging seems superfluous. 

Many of my mom friends ask me just that, "Why in the world would you choose to do more? How do you do it?" I usually brush off the question by stating some joke about how I really don't sleep or that I am only happy if my plate is overflowing. It does indeed seem counter-intuitive to my type A, research scientist mind that I should take a busy, hectic, life and add something else to my plate. When I started the blog a year ago, I was completely overwhelmed with life. I kept thinking that something\had to give. I went round and round in my head what I could do to help my situation. And of COURSE, instead of  taking up yoga or meditation, I decided to start a blog about the stories and discussions I shared with my two girls. 

And so I wrote. And much to my surprise people actual have been reading my blog! What I didn't realize would happen, besides the whole people actually reading the blog part, was that the act of writing, reflecting, and completely focusing all my attention on one aspect of my life would not only help me find my voice but would make me a happier person. Why? The best answer I can give is that this whole process has forced me to stop ALWAYS doing "things"- dishes, laundry, work, working from home after the kids are put to bed, and working my mind to a pulp. Instead, I have been spending more time being mindful of the conversations I have with my kids and the meanings behind what we are reading.  

If you told me to sit and meditate for even one minute to feel less overwhelmed, I would spend the entire minute compiling a list of things to do. Believe me, I have tried desperately to meditate, but I always end up making lists, checking email, or somehow doing anything but clearing out my mind. Ironically, when I sit down to compose a post, I am able to fully focus on something without checking Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other zillion distractions there are today. I am not sure why this is the case, but I have noticed that these "mindfulness" exercises I partake in each time I sit down to think about a post have had a positive impact on so many aspects of my life. To maintain this concentration, there are some basic ground-rules I have given myself like being authentic to the purpose of the blog, always writing honestly, and not setting a specific number of posts to write in any given time-frame to make it feel like a job. 

If I had to choose the top five posts that were most instrumental at prompting this change for the good, these would be the posts that prompted my mindfulness:

1. 30 Books of Kindness the Complete List- Last March, I made it my goal to read a book that fostered kindness with my girls each day. This is the reading list we compiled with links to reviews of each of the books. I spent so much time obsessively thinking about what book we could read each night, that my obsessive thoughts about kindness became infectious. 

2. My Very Own Grandpa Green- In this post, I talk about how the book Grandpa Green by Lane Smith took my breath away and reminded me of my grandfather. 

3. A Book Challenge to Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns- A Muslim Book of Colors- In this post, I share my first hand experience with a challenge to a book. The response from people from all over the world overwhelmed me. 

4.To my Dearest Little Women- A Letter to my Daughters- This post is deeply personal, but it contains the whole of my heart. If you want to know why I blog about reading with my daughters, read this post. 

5. The Giving Tree- An Open Letter to the Amazing Women in my Life- This one is particularly special in my heart because it is the 50th Anniversary of The Giving Tree. This was indeed one of those moments where I really learned so much about myself in the process of writing. I realized that no matter how rooted we feel in our current situation, we can still raise our arms up and grow.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to reflect on how amazing this part year has been from the perspective of YOU! Yes, you the reader. Some of you are my amazing friends that have supported this journey from the beginning, and some of you are people that I came to know along the way and now consider my friends. I have "met" authors, illustrators, moms, and educators. I have felt so inspired by the children's literature community. My cup of gratitude runs over with the outpouring of support I have had from so many people. So...


  1. Congratulations on your One Year Blog Anniversary! It's a joy to read your posts as part of my focused reading time. Here's to many more wonderful blogging moments for you! I'm sure your daughters will treasure your writing as a way to enrich their history.

    1. Thank Mary! And, thanks for your constant support.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! And thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.

  3. Happy blog birthday, Jenny! I've been very happy to have you here.

    1. Thanks! That means so much coming from you. I have such respect for your reviews.

  4. I have definitely enjoyed "meeting" you through blogging. There is much to reflect on here as I was thinking just today about posts I might write for my own blog and directions I might want to take. Happy Blogiversary!

    1. Thanks Erin. I am certainly glad we met. It has been nice finding a kindred spirit in science. ;-)


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