The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: March 2015

Sunday, 22 March 2015

From the bookshelf...March - the month of self improvement

Over the past few weeks I have fallen in love with reading books again. I read whenever I can fit it in and recently I've tried to make it a more prominent part of my daily routine. I read whilst travelling to work by train, when I get home instead of watching TV, and I try to read before I go to bed to take my head away from screen time. I thought it may be great to tell you about the books I currently have by my bed that I've recently discovered.

You may have noticed by the titles of these books that they are about self-improvement. My collection of these types of books seems to grow each year and many that I have read have led to profound changes in how I see and do things, sometimes bringing about a shift change in my life. I enjoy reading the ideas, approaches and tips and trying to apply what I've read and see if it fits with me and my life. Some of them help me work through things on my mind, and others inspire and deliver great ideas and concepts to weave into my life. I'm always looking to expand my skills and learn new things so these books provide a great way of doing this. I enjoy finding different ways of thinking, hearing about different perspectives, and expanding the way I understand the world and how we as humans deal with what life throws in our path.

In the past month or so I've read a number of books...let me tell you a little bit about them:

The One Thing - The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, is about asking yourself, "what's the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?". It encourages you to ask yourself this question across the areas of your life that matter the most for you, so for example work, relationships, health, spirituality, personal life etc. It's about looking at the one thing you are hoping to achieve and working backwards from that, giving you a certain level of focus to reach your goal. It's about taking small steps. When I read the book it came at a particular time for me when I really needed it, it gave me a great focus on a few areas of my life. I found that by asking myself the question in these areas it has turned a few things round for me and has got me closer to finding a path to results. It's a book I plan to re-read and pick up frequently, so it's not going onto the bookshelf, I'm leaving it firmly next to my bed so I can pick it up and refresh myself. Having the book out will be a daily reminder for me to think about 'what is my one thing?'. I will dive in deeper and work with this book over the next few months so keep an eye out if I mention it again.

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks is a book about moving beyond a problem that is holding you back from achieving your true potential, in the book it's called your 'upper limit problem'. The book is all about making a big leap, and understanding the personal and hidden barriers we create that stop ourselves from moving forwards. The book talks about making a move from the zone of excellence and to the zone of genius. For me this book didn't have as much impact as The One Thing, but it certainly highlighted a few takeaways for me that I will take time to think about and implement where I can. It is probably a book I will return to in a few months to see if there are any new takeaways.

The life changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo has been one of the books that I've most recently finished reading. The book was recommended to me by my friend Ruth (thank you lovely!) who told me about it after commenting about my blog post about Simplify, my One Little Word for the year. I was intrigued by a book like this and popped it on my wish list. Soon after Ruth's recommendation the book started cropping up across blog land too, so it seems to be a book of the moment. It's a pretty little hardback book with a gorgeous cover, inside the book talks through in depth the approaches to tidying and working through clutter, approaching it by category instead of location. I wasn't too sure about the main premise of the book at first but upon finishing the book I decided that I wanted to attempt the methodology that Marie Kondo uses to simplify her belongings. The main method of sorting through belongings is to hold the item in your hands and see if it "sparks joy" and "speaks to your heart",  if it doesn't then you have to discard it. From her experience you have to start with clothes, then books, paper, miscellaneous then mementos. I got my first taste of it last weekend when I decorated our spare room and when putting my clothes back into the wardrobe I started to see how I felt about the items I was great to make a start but want to dedicate more time to really focusing on this. I'm sure I'll be telling you more about the book as I use it this year to simplify our home.

Another book that I've also recently finished reading is The Fringe Hours, it arrived mid-week and four days later I had finished reading it. I whipped through it and couldn't put it down. I'm pretty excited about this book and will be telling you more about this book in a few weeks in a short book review. I'm love it, perhaps it's because I smiled so much reading this book. I feel a huge connection to the author in many ways and I already seem to be using the 'fringe hours' in my life. Despite seeing how I already have started to fit things into my fringe hours, the book has still helped a little with a few take away ideas. It's the book I wish I'd written!

The final book is Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. The book is a collection of short inspirational essays, one for every day of the year. It's a beautiful read and many of the essays spark daily reflection for me. It will take me the year to read as I'm taking it day by day and I'm enjoying the slow reflective routine that I've started by reading this book. Already I've felt inspired and am really enjoying it.

I have a few more books on order arriving soon and have started reading The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama and Howard C Cutler, which I'm very much enjoying but I'll tell you about these when I'm finished reading them!

I always love finding out what people are reading. Have you got any recommendations of books that you think I may like?


Sunday, 15 March 2015

My simple pleasure - Spotting the signs of Spring

Spotting Spring flowers and signs of Spring is one of my simple pleasures. Nature is waking from its sleep and a new season is very much on its way. I love these delicate blooms that flower year after year. Over the past month I've been taking a few photos of the flowers that I've seen, getting down low to get up close and see life from their level.

Taking photos of flowers this close lights me up, I love capturing the little details.

I didn't realise you could get different snow drops, these ones above are my new favourites, I love the petals they look like pretty white frilly skirts!

Take a look around you this week when you are outside and see if you can spot the small signs of Spring appearing around you. Seeing natures signals give me a feeling of renewal and bounce to my step. I look forward to longer days, more light and the chance to spend more time outside in our garden.


Monday, 2 March 2015

Getting outside in our garden

It's March already! Where did February go? For me it went by in a bit of a blur, with busy times at work surrounding a fortnight of being unwell with a flu-like virus. It's been month of trying to catch up on tasks. I'm pleased to say I'm almost back on top form, I'm still feeling a little tired at times but at last I really do feel like myself again. Woo hoo, I'm back! With the return of my energy and a clear head, I have felt a renewed enthusiasm and desire to make a start on a few key projects for the year.

Over the weekend I was planning on preparing our spare room to do some re-decorating but the allure of the mildish weather on Saturday took over. At last after months of waiting, it was time to get out in the garden and take the first step to kick start our garden project.

Gardening is one of my real loves, it's a hobby I adore and one that I can happily spend all day outside doing. Last September we moved house, leaving behind our unique sunken courtyard garden and a life of container gardening. We now have a lovely south-facing outside garden with soil, plenty of light, more space, and a garden surrounded by three walls that create a great feature of the space.

The space at the moment is looking a little unloved and we have planned to overhaul the garden we have inherited from the previous owners and make it our own. At the back of the house we're planning on replacing or refurbishing the rendering on the back of our house, laying a new patio and making the garden more functional that fits more closely to our taste.

I've been wanting to get out in the garden for a while but the cold weather has really put me off. It's been so hard seeing the garden so sad and unloved, I didn't get round to planting any bulbs at the end of last year so all my pots are empty but there are a few crocuses starting to appear in the beds already in the garden.

Overhauling the garden space is a big job and you have to start somewhere. For me it meant starting to remove the overgrown plants that have started to take over the space.  

This is what our garden looked like before I started:

And here it is a little later...

and by the end of the afternoon it looked like almost blank canvas!

I am so pleased with the progress I made in just a few hours. I've still got to dig out the roots and stumps of the plants I have cut back, but it's a great start to the project.

Once the garden was cleared I had the chance to measure the size of the space and see what room we have to play with. I've started drafting a few plans for our garden that I will share with you soon. Over the next few weeks I'm hoping to get stuck into some research and create a project plan for the garden. I can't wait to see this project progress over the next year or so.

I hope you'll pop back and find out how I'm getting on.