5 ways to restart a healthy habit

Things that are good for you aren’t always fun. Sometimes they take a bit of effort. The goal might be worthwhile, but the path there isn’t so enticing. So even when you start with the best of intentions, you might fall off the wagon and then it is really hard to get back on. I know it, I’ve been there. But I’ve learned some ways to make it so much easier to get back on that good habit and make it stick.

Healthy habits are hard to keep, but that doesn't mean you should  quit when you fail. 5 tips for restarting a healthy habit when you've slipped up.

Last year I worked with a nutritionist while I was going through chemo to keep my body as strong and resilient as possible. Early on, she suggested I stop eating sugar, to which I said something like, “Not likely.” But I did reduce how much I was eating, and then after surgery and a couple rounds of winter viruses (thank you preschool kids), I went for a couple of weeks without it and I couldn’t believe how different I felt. I slept better. I didn’t have blood sugar highs and lows, and no energy dip in the late afternoon. My joints stopped aching. I got over the next cold amazingly fast. After the first week or so, I even stopped craving it.

I was convinced, finally, that this was a habit I wanted to embrace. At the beginning of December last year I decided sugar was out of my diet. By January, I was eating it again. In February, I quit again, and except for a few days of lax attention and a few specific treats (a birthday cupcake and a piece of pie at my brother’s wedding), I’ve been clear of sugar for almost 4 months.
They say it takes 21 days to build a habit, and I’m well past the 21-day mark. But sugar is a hard one. It is everywhere, it tastes great, and it is in most of my favorite foods (hello cookies). But I’m determined this is a permanent change I want to make in my life, so I’m getting quite practiced at getting square with this habit again every time I slip up. I can’t eat one cupcake and then say, “Oh, well, I might as well have a cookie now, too.” I have to say, “Wow, that was yummy. But that was enough.” And then I have to actually stick to it.

How? Here are some tips that have helped me restart my no-sugar habit.

Release the shame

You are not a bad person because you didn’t keep to your goal. But we do tend to beat ourselves up in this situation. Is that helpful? No. Let go of your self-judgement and be kind to yourself. Healthy habits are hard, give yourself some grace.

Review the failure

What caused you to stop doing what you said you would do? Was this an unusual situation, or a challenge you are going to face on a regular basis? Were you trying to take on too much at once? In what ways can you support yourself better if you face this challenge again?

In my case, I had to get all the sweet snacks out of my house and make sure I had plenty of sugar-alternative sweeteners at home and in my bag when I’m out and about. I also found a few no-sugar sweet treats so when I’m craving something sweet there’s something I can eat that is guilt-free.

Healthy habits are hard to keep, but that doesn't mean you should  quit when you fail. 5 tips for restarting a healthy habit when you've slipped up.

Review your goal

Why do you want to adopt this habit? Is the goal still something you want? Is there a different path to it? Is this the right time for you to make this change? Do you need to start smaller? Get clear on what it is you hope to gain by making this change and keep your eyes on that prize. If you have any doubts, they will undermine your ability to keep to it when you face challenges.

Empower yourself

It is often easier to make a healthy change when we are doing it with others. Find a walking or running group, take a class with a friend, find an accountability buddy to check in with each day or week to help keep you on track. Your people want the best for you – if they see you’re are trying to do something to make your life and body healthier, they’ll be eager to support you!

Begin now

It is tempting when you’ve let a habit go for a while, to set a future date to begin again. “Well, I already ate one cookie, I might as well have another…” Don’t do that! In every moment, you have an opportunity to begin again. Don’t start tomorrow or next week, start right now.

But also, give yourself time. It does take a while to make a habit a part of your life. Use these steps to get back up if you get knocked down, and before you know it, that healthy habit will just be what you do. Won’t that feel good?

Healthy habits are hard to keep, but that doesn't mean you should  quit when you fail. 5 tips for restarting a healthy habit when you've slipped up.

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Messy life management – 7 ways to cope

What have you done for yourself this week? Or is your messy life getting in the way?

Is it hard to even remember? Does the idea of doing something for yourself feel impossible? Laughable? Too selfish to even consider?

Is your life an overwhelming mess right now? Don't know what to do to dig out? Here are 7 things you can do - fast - to help you get back on top of that messy life. :: nurtured mama.net


I’ve had a week like that. Every time I turn around, it seems, I get a little more bad news. Some new complicated thing I need to manage. I can feel that I’m carrying all of my worries in the muscles of my shoulders and every time I move I hurt. And then that makes me worry about the link between stress and cancer reoccurrence. As if I need something else to worry about.

But it is weeks like this that I know how very important it is to take good care of myself. To do things that are just for me. They have to be tiny, mostly, but they have to be in there.

The week after I was diagnosed with cancer last year, I remember talking on the phone to a friend who asked, “What does your self-care look like right now?” I couldn’t think of anything, at first. And then I remembered that each morning for the last three days I had chosen to put the same tee-shirt back on. It was my favorite shirt. It was comfortable and looked good on me. And it saved me the energy of picking a new outfit. I told her that, sort of embarrassed to admit it, but she laughed and said, “That’s great self-care right there.”

Ever since I’ve had a different image of what self-care in the midst of really messy life might look like. I might not have time for a nap, or to get my nails done, or even meet a friend for coffee, but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing things that take care of and feed me.

Is your life an overwhelming mess right now? Don't know what to do to dig out? Here are 7 things you can do - fast - to help you get back on top of that messy life. :: nurtured mama.net

Your self-care in the middle of a messy week might look like going to bed just 30 minutes earlier with a book to read. It might be noticing the way the light is shining in the restroom window and pausing to snap a picture (from the toilet – true story).

Or it might be something bigger. On Monday morning, I had a 90-minute massage at 9:30 in the morning – right after I dropped off my daughter at school. It felt huge and frivolous, but I felt better that day, and since, than I have felt in weeks.

And when I feel good, I manage my messy life better, I parent better, I communicate better with my partner, and I’m more likely to do other small, but kind, things for myself to keep myself feeling good.

Here are some other small self-care ideas, if your life is a hot mess right now:

  • Grab a handful of flowers when you are at the grocery store.
  • Choose the healthy snack or treat, so you get the “reward” feeling without the downside of feeling not-so-great or guilty afterwards.
  • Write yourself a love note or an affirmation on your bathroom mirror. Dry-erase markers are great for this.
  • Go for a photo walk, even if you just walk the perimeter of the school’s parking lot while you are already there, or around your neighborhood before going inside from your car.
  • Keep a book in your car or bag and instead of getting on Facebook or Pinterest while you have a few minutes to wait, read instead. Or load up the Kindle app on your phone with good stuff, so you don’t even have to remember the book.
  • Connect with a friend you trust – even if just by text or email – and if they ask you how you are, be honest. Let down your guard for a minute and let someone in. We need these connections, and they get so lost when we are in manage-the-mess mode.
  • Set up Unroll.me or just unsubscribe from all the emails you don’t need to read right now. Who needs to deal with a full inbox when so many other urgent things need your attention?

What will you do for yourself and your messy life today? Leave a comment and let me know.

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One small moment of connection

When I want to connect with my child, one small moment can make all the difference. :: www.nurturedmama.netI want to remember that small moment last night when I rose above my frustration, exhaustion and distraction and said to her, “What will help? What will help you hear me? Because I’m feeling really frustrated right now.”

“You can say, ‘I love you, Stella,’” she said.

I know that won’t help the real problem, which is that it is the end of that hard year for our family, and I’ve been sick so much that I’ve lost some authority and she’s practicing being almost 5 by choosing to ignore me sometimes just to see what will happen. The real problem is that I’m tired and my attention is on healing and finding the threads of my life again. My attention is mostly not on the subtle nuances of parenting this small person who is learning to be independent. My attention is needed so many other places, so I’ve been letting it drift away from her until there’s a battle to fight, and then I come in stomping and laying down the law. I set consequences for failing to pick up the pink and green Legos from the living room floor at bedtime, or all of the tiny cut up pieces of paper strewn across the dining room table so we can sit down and have a meal as a family, because we missed so many meals together when I was laid up on the couch during chemo and this is important to me. I want our routines back and I’m going to enforce them.

Even though I don’t really think she has given me the answer I was looking for, I hear her in a way I haven’t been available to hear for a while. I hear, “I need you, Mommy. I need to feel connected with you.”

So I turn down the heat on the pan of salmon and I step over to where she stands with her back to me on her step stool, fiddling with a rubber band on the counter in front of her. I run my hand down her hair, growing so long. I lean in and kiss her temple. “I love you, Stella,” I whisper, and she curves her body a bit into mine.

“I love you, too, Mommy.”

“Now will you please clean off the table so we can eat?” She doesn’t turn or move quite yet, but I sense her smile. Something, some small thread, has been repaired between us. She’s softer, and so am I.

When I want to connect with my child, one small moment can make all the difference. :: www.nurturedmama.net

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How To Get Through It: A brief guide for chemo patients

A brief guide for cancer patient on how to survive and thrive during chemo treatment. :: www.nurturedmama,net

Be brave. By which I mean feel terrified and resolve to move forward anyway.

Cancel your to do list.

Call in every favor, but not all at once.

Expect that it will be worse than you think. Know you will get through it anyway.

Get used to the discomfort of other people doing things you feel like you should be able to do yourself, but actually can’t do yourself right now.

Give yourself permission to be righteously furious. And then give yourself permission to speak that fury out loud (but don’t aim it at your immediate family).

Let yourself off all the hooks.

Get acupuncture. Often.

Get used to crying.

Conserve your energy for the things that matter most. Don’t let anyone else make that list for you.

Resign yourself to the many pharmaceutical medications all lined up in their little orange bottles.

Use marijuana medically and also when you just need a break from feeling everything.

Say thank you often to your significant other, or parent, or child, or whoever is carrying the brunt of your care.

Be really specific about helps you and what doesn’t.

Remember that every cycle is going to be a little different.

Get on YouTube and learn to wear a scarf from fabulously stylish women who have not actually lost their hair but wear scarves beautifully anyway.

Toss out all the toxic beauty products in your bathroom (which will be most of them), and while you’re at it toss the razor because you won’t need it for a while.

Buy a really good eyebrow pencil.

Give yourself permission to hate your doctors a little or a lot, but maybe not to their faces.

Remember to call the treatment “medicine” when talking to your doctors, even if you call it “torture” or “poison” when you talk to anyone else.

Buy your own examination gown.

Ignore all advice that has no meaning for you.

Eat what tastes good, plus a lot of kale.

Take a lot of naps.

Learn to knit – handwork is supposed to be a good antidote for chemo brain.

Use all the reminders in your calendar, because you will forget things.

Ignore the platitudes, even if they are well meant, that make you want to punch someone. Like “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and “Everything in life happens for a purpose.” Fuck that.

Feel free to curse.

Escapism is awesome. Read all the books, watch all the movies, and dive right into all the social media. Unless it makes you feel bad, and then delete that shit right off your phone.

Find people who ask you how you are and really want to know, and then keep those people close to you.

On days you feel normal, don’t question it, just act like everything is normal while that feeling lasts.

Celebrate the small wins and also the end of each step of treatment.

Don’t research unusual symptoms and side effects or alternative treatments on the internet. Just don’t.

Give yourself a lot of credit. Chemo is fucking hard and anyone who hasn’t been through it doesn’t really understand how hard it is.

Let go of how life used to be and don’t worry too much yet about how it will be, after.

Remember there will be an after. This will not last forever.

But also don’t let this treatment be your whole life. Keep dreaming. Hold babies. Witness the powerful thrust of life that is fruiting trees bursting into bloom in the spring. Sit down and quietly watch the sun rise or set. Listen to moving water. Smell flowers and fresh air. Eat your food slowly so you really taste it, and savor good conversations.

Hold on tight to life. So tight.

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Taking Stock in October

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

Taking Stock in October :: www.nurturedmama.net

For more photos like these and the stories that go with them, join me on Instagram.

It has been a while since I’ve done one of these, so let’s catch up.

This post contains affiliate links.

  • Making: Small art in my journal and everything with yarn (I’ve had to put myself on a yarn-buying diet). Are you on Ravelry? Connect with me and check out my projects there.
  • Cooking: Pumpkin and banana bread.
  • Drinking: My new favorite drink: Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, made with soy milk.
  • Reading: So many books lately – I hit my goal of reading 40 books this year at the end of September! Recent favorites were Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande and The Sleep Walker’s Guide to Dancing, by Mira Jacobs. I’m halfway through Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert (loving it!) and up next is Rising Strong, by Brene Brown. Connect with me on Goodreads to see more of what I’m reading.
  • Wearing: I’m so ready for fall that I’m wearing too-warm clothes almost every day. My brown boots are out and my favorite Prairie Underground hoodie is always nearby.
  • Feeling: Strong and grounded. And so ready to be done with chemo. My last treatment (of 6) is today.
  • Needing: More sleep. Always more sleep.
  • Listening to: The Autumn Acoustic playlist on Spotify and the song Woman (Oh Mama) from Joy William’s new album Venus on repeat and loud.
  • Saying yes to right now: Paint on my fingers. Naps. Connecting with my daughter instead of raising my voice. Mostly, saying yes to life.
  • Saying no to right now: Clutter. I’m ever so slowly working through my house with Marie Kondo’s advice to only keep what brings me joy.
  • Thinking about: The next steps in my treatment plan: Surgery in November and then radiation for 6 weeks after that. And how to hold on to bits of holiday celebrations in the midst of treatment and recovery.
  • Worrying about: How radiation therapy is going to impact me.
  • Noticing: How much better and stronger I feel when I eat well. Which does not necessarily include pumpkin and banana bread.
  • Working toward: More connections with friends. More writing. More rest as I head into this winter.
  • Pinning: A lot of art journal and art inspiration images, and I’m starting to think about homemade holiday gifts, too. I’m also steadily adding to my The Cancer Year board.
  • Favorite thing Bean’s been doing: So much pretend play. Some days we are all a family of foxes, others we are selkies. She’s also been really into building things (mostly shelters for her animals) with Legos.
  • Least favorite thing Bean’s been doing: Talking to me like I’m her servant. There have been a lot of reminders to speak kindly and to say “please” around here lately.
  • Finding most nurturing: My Wild Writing class with Laurie Wagner. Every Wednesday morning I step out of my life for 90 minutes and let the words flow out like a river.
  • Dreaming about: A trip to Hawaii to sit on a lanai with a fruity drink when my treatment is all done this spring.
  • My favorite thing last month: When my friend came over and helped me declutter in my kitchen. I was so exhausted that night but every time I get something out of a neatly organized and not overstuffed cabinet I rejoice.
  • What I’m grateful for right now: Friends and family who have held us up through this ordeal of cancer treatment. There have been food deliveries, visits, plentiful playdates, care packages, cards, emails and phone calls. I feel so deeply loved and held by my community. So much gratitude I can’t even voice it all.

Want to play along? Copy my list and fill in your own answers or just pick a couple of categories that jump out at you. Post in the comments or share a link if you post it somewhere else. I want to hear what’s up with you, too!

You can find the rest of the Taking Stock posts here.

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Hello From Outer Space – Keeping A Self Care Practice

How a daily self care practice might save you when big changes or grief hit in your life.

My friend Andrea shared a story on her blog last week titled, “One day you’re a dog, the next day your are in space.” It is about how sometimes your life pivots on a dime and you find yourself headed in a direction that that is unexpected and uncharted. Her story was about deciding to leave her marriage, and not being sure of that step until the second the words came out of her mouth.

My story is about a phone call I got at the end of April, when the doctor on the other end of the line said, “I’m sorry. The test results show that the biopsy is consistent with cancer.”

Boom. Outer space.

If you’ve ever been diagnosed with cancer or been close to someone who has, you’ll know that the next few weeks of my life quickly filled up with doctor’s appointments, tests, research, planning, and many many tears and bouts of anxiety. In many ways those weeks were the very hardest part of this journey so far. So much was unknown, so much was scary. I had to face my own mortality and decide how I was going to stand in that place and also move forward. And also how I was going to parent through the midst of this, and how I was going to continue to nurture my relationship with my man while renegotiating everything in our life as I relinquished so many of my day to day responsibilities and he became the main caretaker of me, our daughter, our pets, our home.

Everything I’ve learned while writing this blog came to bear, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been on this self care journey for so long. I have practice setting boundaries (one of which was walking away from this space for a while). I have practice asking for help and accepting it. I have practice at putting my needs first when I need to, and stepping back and taking a break from the hard stuff when I need perspective. I have learned how to filter other people’s advice and only take away what fits for me. I have learned how to go slow, listen to my heart, make decisions that are right for me in both the short term and the long view. I have learned these things because I’ve been practicing them in small ways every day for a few years. So when I needed them in a big way all of a sudden, there they were at my fingertips.

Even after I got through those first dizzying weeks and actually moved into my treatment plan, I kept using all that self-care knowledge. I used it when that first chemo cycle was so much harder than I expected. I used it when most of my hair fell out at the end of June. I used it when my daughter had eye surgery in July and I had to pull out all of my resources to be there for her when I had so little energy even for myself. And then I used it to recover again when I found myself so depleted. I use it over and over whenever my fears rise, my ability to cope falters, my guilt and frustration for being in this hard place sneak in the cracks and blindside me, over and over again.

I would not wish a cancer diagnosis on anyone. Nor would I wish the loss of a pregnancy, a hard birth, a challenging child, or heartache of any kind. But I see now how valuable these self care practices are. The day to day habits I write about here will help you cope, whether your challenge is the third spilled cup of milk before lunch or a string of words that send you to outer space for months.

Just keep practicing.

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Beautiful Mother’s Day Gifts From Uncommon Goods

The Uncommon Goods Mother's Day collection has some really nice picks for the mom in your life. :: www.nurturedmama.net

This week I’m teaming up with Uncommon Goods to share with you some fun Mother’s Day gift ideas.

I picked Uncommon Goods as a partner because I appreciate they way they do business. They feature unusual and often handmade products – over half of what they sell is handmade – and share stories of their designers and makers in both their catalogs and on their blog. I love seeing the real people who are making the things I’m buying and I always love a peek into a maker’s studio!

I also want to give them a high-five for their commitment to the environment and running a sustainable business. Uncommon Goods is a registered B-Corporation, which means they meet a stated and high standard on a range of progressive issues, including wage levels (their Brooklyn warehouse workers’ wages start at 50% higher than local minimum wage), environmental impact (a third of their products incorporate upcycled and recycled components) and giving back to the community (they donate $1 from each order to one of several non-profit organizations).

I also find their web site really easy to navigate and they have really well-curated gift collections.  You can see their Mother’s Day collection here and a wider collection of gifts for moms here.

The Uncommon Goods Mother's Day collection has some really nice picks for the mom in your life. :: www.nurturedmama.net

They sent me two products to try. The first of them is a Flavor Infuser Water Bottle (see it here). This glass water bottle has a BPA-free plastic insert that holds fruit or herbs and a sealing lid so you can fill it and carry it with you without worrying about leaking (always an issue with my metal Klean Kanteen bottle!). I was really excited about this bottle because I need to be drinking more water and I love infused water. Spring time is a great time to explore infused water flavors, as so many fruits and herbs are hitting the market and my garden right now. I’ve tried lemon-basil and lemon-mint water, and today I’m drinking lemon-strawberry (my lemon tree was very productive this winter!). For tomorrow morning, I’ve cut up some lime leftover from a margarita and part of a peach that wasn’t quite ripe enough for my daughter’s taste.

Since I’ve been using this bottle I’m definitely drinking more water. I’m also talking about drinking water with everyone, because when it is all filled with fruit it is beautiful and everyone who sees it asks me about it! It fits perfectly in the cup holder in my car and because it seals well I can tuck it into my purse when my hands are full. My only real concern with this bottle is that I’m going to drop it and break it. I love the idea of drinking out of a glass container, but I’m kind of a klutz.

You can find this glass bottle here and a similar non-glass bottle here.

The Uncommon Goods Mother's Day collection has some really nice picks for the mom in your life. :: www.nurturedmama.net

The second item I received is this lovely and delicate necklace (see it here). If you’ve been reading here long you’ve heard me talk about the mindfulness practice of being present in the moment, and this sweet little necklace is reminder of that practice for me. It is simple and understated – just my style. I love it. There are also matching earrings from the same artist (see them here). This set would be a lovely gift for a mama who needs a reminder to slow down and be present.

The Uncommon Goods Mother's Day collection has some really nice picks for the mom in your life. :: www.nurturedmama.net

Jewelry is a great Mom’s day gift all around, and there are several really lovely pieces in the Mother’s Day collection. I love the nesting birds design (here) and birth flower pendants (here). My favorite, though, is this modern locket design that can be customized with the birth stones of your children (see it here). So very sweet!

Maybe you are shopping for someone whose sensibilities are a little less delicate, though? Check out this hilarious and on-trend ampersand cheese and cracker board, and these salt rock tequila glasses. No matter who you are gifting, you are sure to find something wonderful for Mother’s Day with Uncommon Goods.

Which Uncommon Goods product would you most like to receive this Mother’s Day?

PS – if you want to support other businesses that support the same kinds of causes as Uncommon Goods, you can find a directory of other registered B-Corps here.

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20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself

Do you want to know yourself better? Understand where you are in your life and where you would like to be going? These 20 questions will give you an excellent start on that path. :: www.nurturedmama.net

The title of this post is the same title as an article that was in Oprah magazine last spring. These are not the same questions that were in the article.

The article was really good, but I was most struck by the very first question they listed: “Do I Examine My Life Enough?

I’m a life-examiner. I journal. I’ve been seeing a therapist on a regular basis for many years. I talk through my experiences and reactions to things with my close friends. I write about my life here and elsewhere because it helps me to understand it.

I can easily say “Yes,” in answer to the first question in that article, but I have talked to many women who might answer “Maybe?” or “I don’t know how to do that,” or even, “Wow, that’s scary,” in response.

If you are one of those women, this list is for you. Here are 20 questions to ask yourself if you want to know yourself better. 20 questions to help you step back to examine your life and where you are in it. Don’t like the answers? Don’t have answers to some of them? That’s where your work lies.

I’m going to write more about each of these questions in the coming months, because they are big and juicy topics that I’d like to explore further. For now, pull out a journal and a piece of paper and see where your first answers to these questions takes you.

  1. What do I really want in this moment?
  2. How do I want to be loved?
  3. Who do I need to forgive?
  4. Am I in my body?
  5. Do I love myself exactly as I am right now?
  6. What can I let go of?
  7. What did I love to do when I was a child?
  8. What would I love to learn?
  9. What is my superpower?
  10. When was the last time I felt truly joyful?
  11. Who is my community?
  12. What is beautiful to me and do I have some of that in my life right now?
  13. Do I know the sound of my own true voice?
  14. What practice consistently brings me home to my self?
  15. What do I want my legacy to be?
  16. What have I done for myself today?
  17. What is my story?
  18. Have I planned for my own death, and my survivors?
  19. How can I speak with more love today?
  20. Can I ask a better question?

I’d love to hear from you. Which of these questions was most illuminating? Which made you most uncomfortable? Leave a comment below.

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How to Read All The Books You Want To

If you want to have more time to read, set a goal and make a few small adjustments. Now get to reading all those great books. :: www.nurturedmama.net

This year I have a goal to read 40 books. That feels a bit audacious, even though I know people who have a reading goal much higher even than that.

I started setting reading goals for myself a couple of years ago, when I realized I was hardly reading any more and I really really missed the act of really getting lost in a good book. I missed the intellectual workout. I missed the escape from my day to day life and the peek into lives far different than my own. I missed the practice of reading good writing and studying the craft of it, to make my own writing better. I just missed being a reader and I wanted to be a reader again.

Each year since then I’ve passed my goal, so I feel confident in sharing what I’ve learned about finding more time to read, so you, too, can read all the books you want to.

Make It Easy

To make your book the first thing you turn to, you have to make it really easy. Easier than picking up your phone and opening Facebook.

I love paper books. I really, really do. But I realized that if I wanted to read more, I was going to have to embrace other formats. I’ve tried eBooks on my iPhone (small, but very accessible) and my iPad (pretty good!). My partner uses a Kindle and he loves it.

I’ve also tried audio books, which I remember really enjoying when I had a long commute to work, but I can’t seem to make them work in my life right now. I know other moms who love audio books and listen to them while they walk or work around the house.

Experiment a bit to see what works for you. Even if all you do is start carrying a bigger bag so you can have your traditional book with you all the time, that’s great. Convenience is the key.

Find Gaps of Time

One of the great things about reading is that you can do it any time, anywhere (almost…). If you use an e-reader, you can even do it in the dark!

Once your reading material is convenient, you can fit it into pretty small gaps of time. While you are waiting in line at the carpool. While your kid is in a class (Does anyone else look forward to gym and ballet classes like I do?), or playing at the park. During the bedtime hour, if you keep your child company while they fall asleep.

You can listen to audio books while you cook dinner, while you drive, and while you exercise.

Small gaps add up – you might be surprise how quickly you can get through a book when you tuck it around all the edges of your life.

Give Something Up

If the gaps of time you’ve found aren’t enough, or you want the luxury of reading for longer stretches, you may need to give up something else to create those stretches. What do you spend time doing throughout your week? Try tracking your day in detail for a few days to see where your time goes. TV? Pinterest? Email? You may be surprised.

A number of years ago I turned off my cable account, which freed up a lot of time I was mindlessly spending in front of the TV watching shows I didn’t really care about. Check your time map against your priorities – are you putting your time on what you care about most? If not, make some adjustments.

Define And Track Your Reading Goal

The first year I decided to focus on reading as a priority, I set a goal of reading two books every month. That meant by the end of the year I would have read 24 books, which felt achievable, but still a challenge.

I tracked my progress by simply listing each title in an Evernote document as I finished it. I noticed that some months I’d finish only one book, and other months I’d read three or four. And I surprised myself by finishing the year with 26 books on my list.

I’ve long understood the value of setting a goal and writing it down. If you want to read more, say you are going to do it. Define what “more” means to you. Break it down – how many books each month or week to get to your goal? Then make it easy, find or free up some time, and begin. Keep track of your progress, pay attention to what’s working and what isn’t, and adjust as needed.

Be Willing To Quit A Book

One of the things I realized that first year is that when I’m reading something I’m not really enjoying, I read very slowly. And really, there are so many amazing books out there, do I want to waste my valuable time reading something I’m not enjoying? So I gave myself permission to quit a book.

That was easier said than done, because I felt bad – and still do! – doing it. Once I begin a book I feel committed. I’m not a quitter, really, anywhere in my life.

But really, there are places where being a quitter is a good thing, and we should all practice it a bit more. Reading a book you dislike is not a good use of your time. Put it down, start something else. The author will never know.

Do you have a reading goal this year? What’s the best book you’ve read recently? Share in the comments below!

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I Know A Mama

I know a mama who is all of us. :: www.nurturedmama.net

I know a mama who felt complete when she became a mother, even though she thought she felt complete before.

I know a mama who feels lost in her life at home with small children after she gave up her career to be there.

I know a mama who tries every day to be the kind of woman she hopes her daughter will grow up to be and every night that mama lays awake detailing all the ways she failed.

I know a mama who pays for childcare just to get some time alone.

I know a mama who can’t afford childcare, who is launching a small business while her children build Lego spaceships around her feet and watch more TV than she wants to admit.

I know a mama who thinks she’s too tired for sex every night, until he kisses her like that and changes her mind.

I know a mama who hasn’t had sex since before her toddler was born and is relieved that he’s stopped asking.

I know a mama who stands in the world a warrior, who is raising two wild boys with her heart wide open. Those boys will be lucky to find partners who will parent their own children that way, and those partners will be lucky to be loved by those boys who were taught to love with their hearts wide open.

I know a mama who has lost her boundaries and no longer knows how to tell her child, “No,” when he runs wild over her.

I know a mama whose children always play quietly and who taught them to read before they were three.

I know a mama who swallows tears every time she has to fill out a form that asks, “How many pregnancies? How many living children?”

I know a mama who has lost every pregnancy.

I know a mama whose babies were all birthed by other mothers.

I know a mama who considers getting pregnant again, but who has perfectly balanced pro and con lists and each day that passes past her fortieth birthday tips the list more toward con.

I know a mama who had her tubes tied after her third child so she would not be tempted to have more babies.

I know a mama who told me once, sitting in the sand at the park with her toddler, that having two kids is so much harder than she thought it would be, and she wishes she’d only had one.

I know a mama with Multiple Personality Disorder, another who is manic-depressive, and another who wonders, every morning when she takes the three black pills that keep her steady, how her depression is hurting her daughter.

I know a woman who loves her stretch marks because they remind her that she carried her babies inside her body and another who only undresses in the dark because she hates the marks and scars of childbearing so much.

I know a mama who once walked out of the bedroom, through the front door and straight into the street when she felt the urge to strike her child’s soft cheek rising like a tide in her chest.

I know a mama who left her sons with their father on Christmas Eve and never came back.

I know a mama who creeps into her child’s bedroom to stand in the dark and watch her sleep.

I know a mama who took her children and left the house with only the clothes on their backs because that home was no longer safe for them.

I know a mama who wakes in the night and considers dragging a blanket and pillow into her child’s room to sleep on the floor because across the hall feels intolerably far away.

I know a mama who schedules weekends away from her family a few times a year and doesn’t feel guilty about it at all.

I know a mama whose joy lifts at the sound of her man’s car pulling into the driveway.

I know a mama who lives for Monday morning, when her husband leaves the house.

I know a mama who lives for Monday morning, when she gets to leave the house and go back to the world of her professional life and away from the children she loves, but who make her feel out of control and bewildered.

Some of these mamas are me, and maybe some of them are you. These mamas are all of us. The potential for each of them is in each of us. Each of us experiences mothering in a way that is somehow simultaneously unique and universal.

What kind of mama are you?

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