The Reading List #49

It's time for the first reading list of the new year and I've gone for two non-fiction and two fiction reads, all of which were completely different...

One Day, One Night - Portraits of the South Pole, Dr John Bird and Jennifer McCallum

*copy kindly sent by a PR for review consideration
When Dr John Bird was offered a position working at the South Pole for a year, his wife Jennifer passed the tests to go out, too. This book is their story of that year. The pair take turns to narrate chapters, and I really enjoyed this dual perspective of their time out there, both as a couple and as two working individuals with different jobs to do. There are also black and white images throughout the book, captured whilst they were there, which added an extra touch of personality and familiarity to their story.

Possibly my favourite part was Jennifer's descriptions of the initial process of acclimatising to the new environment, and I enjoyed the level of detail throughout. Despite the fact …

Just one more.

As I shared last month, I'm trying to introduce new ideas or mantras into my life that allow me to be the best I can be every day, but aren't so strict that it's easy to stumble once and tell myself I'm a failure.

If I set myself rigid rules, such as having to do a set list of things every single day, the one day I can't tick them all off - however valid the reason - my critical voice rears its head and that's when my
anxiety finds it easy to creep up on me.

That's why this year I'm goal setting and planning in a different way; I'm focusing on the tiny steps which add together to meet the big goals, rather than getting overwhelmed by the huge picture every single day.

One of the new little mantras I'm using is 'just one more'.

This can be applied to so many things, and that's why I love it. The basic concept is always going that little tiny step further. Whether it's a huge task I've worked on or I've only made a tiny den…

From Monday moaning to Monday motivation

I used to sit firmly in the camp of those who hated Mondays.

It's easy to moan that the weekend went too quickly, or be unhappy you're heading back into a working week and to just get caught up on the general opinion society feeds us that Monday is a villain.

The problem is, if you wake up on a Monday morning dreading the day and the week ahead, that's the tone you're setting for your whole week. You're starting everything on a negative note, dragging yourself out of bed and telling yourself you're worn out.

What you tell yourself, your mind believes, so even if you didn't feel too bad when you first opened your eyes, by the time you've complained for a few minutes, you're probably feeling pretty gloomy about the day ahead.

I went through a period a few years ago of tweeting pretty much every morning how worn out I was. I was putting out so much negativity and I ended up feeling even worse, simply because I was telling myself I didn't want to be…

One week in: how are those health goals?

At lunch today, we were discussing the idea of ongoing change and trying to judge yourself less harshly.

This is the time of year for goals, resolutions and planning and it's easy to get swept away with the idea you can suddenly change 20 habits and things about your life at once just because it's January.

Realistically, slow change with baby steps is much more sustainable, and habit change takes time and effort.

This all stemmed from the fact I was trying to justify getting a couple of treats in with the weekly shop, or the fact we ate lunch out both yesterday and today.

Until we realised that this week I've worked out five days, eaten mainly very well and healthily and I've been pretty productive.

So all in all, that's a successful first week of January!

I'm very good at beating myself up for one slip up, or for the first 'failure' in a new plan or regime, and it's a surefire way to make yourself feel guilty and negative - not to mention it makes …

The Greatest Showman

I've finally seen the film everyone is talking about. Now I understand why they're doing that and why everyone can't stop playing the soundtrack.

At the root of the story is a man who has huge dreams and the woman he loves, who loves him so much she'd follow him wherever that journey took him.

Telling the story of F.T. Barnum, creator of the first circus, The Greatest Showman is a musical journey of epic proportions. With a star-studded cast, a phenomenal soundtrack and evoking pretty much every emotion possible in the space of a couple of short hours, this film is one of the best I've seen in a long time.

Hugh Jackman is nothing short of brilliant in the role of Barnum, and every other person making up the cast is perfectly selected and utterly deserving of their place. There are so many smaller storylines and themes that feed into the bigger picture, and I was captivated by every single one.

Visually, it's stunning. The circus itself is the most magical, colo…

What did I learn from the book challenge?

Well, I did it! I completed the Book Challenge 2017, sent to me by my auntie back in January 2017. I only swapped one of my original choices for a different book, and I definitely broadened my horizons, picking up things I would usually ignore.

If you want to follow the whole journey, the posts are here:

My book picksMonths 1-3Months 4-6Months 7-12
I wanted to share a few lessons I learned from completing the challenge, so I've kept it to a nice neat five points.

1. I need to get creative when it comes to reading challenges.
Most book challenges I see involve people setting themselves a certain number of books to read in a year, but to be honest getting through books isn't my problem. I read at a high speed, and I devour books one after the other. Yes, I could set a high number, but I don't feel like I particularly need to increase the NUMBER of books I consume. The key for me is broadening my scope and trying different styles, themes and authors. This challenge was a good e…

Car journeys: one of my biggest anxiety battles. And some major progress.

This is an element of my anxiety I don't think I've spoken about on here yet, and I guess that's because it's taken a long time to figure out. It's far easier to talk about the issues I've already worked on or feel like I'm getting more on top of than those that make me feel a little lost.

Car journeys.

Travel, in general, but I'll focus on car journeys because this Christmas break confirmed the fact I've made huge progress with this particular panic.

Where did it begin? My problem with travel emerged very early on in my anxiety. In fact, it was one of the first issues to pop up and at first it was directly related to my emetophobia (a phobia of sickness). The first week my anxiety really reared its head it manifested as though I had some kind of sickness bug.

This was at the time when I used to commute on the train to university, and the nausea made the prospect of stepping onto trains very unappealing - it was the motion combined with the fact I&#…