A few years ago, I realized I had gotten so caught up in motherhood and business that I had forgotten about reading. I mean like I was just so in autopilot trying to survive from day-to-day that I didn’t do anything outside of be a mom and run a business I love. I filled my calendar with things that served Cammy and our new baby at the time, Ellie, and my clients, but I forgot about ME (and sometimes Mike)! One thing that gave me so much peace and so much life back was the decision to pick up books again. Previously I had loved classic literature (Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky is my FAVORITE, in all it’s disturbingness, haha!) but I wanted to lean more toward the “self-help” category or rather, “life-enhancing” and there had been a lot of popular books recently released at that time that fit into that category so I decided to give them a try over the next couple of years!
I want to highlight the BEST ones that breathed so much life back into our hearts, but at the end of the post you’ll see our full library of favorites! 🙂
1. THRIVE by Arianna Huffington — this was the FIRST one I picked up after my slump of non-reading and it was probably the best I could have started back up with. This woman, the founder of the Huffington Post, caught my eye (or ears) when I saw her years ago on Chelsea Lately talking about how she was so burnt out one day from overworking herself into the ground that she actually passed out from exhaustion and broke her face on her desk. YES…how insane is that?! An actual painful and physical wakeup call. I heard that and knew I was leaning toward that kind of exhaustion. I knew I was setting my expectations too high and going down that same road, so I bought her book and it highlights the importance of how we treat ourselves, how we need sleep, how we need to stop running our companies like human beings don’t matter. We have to work hard but lower these severely extreme expectations of others. She may not use the wording but it’s all about grace. The statistics are overwhelming in this book, too! I HIGHLY recommend this book for those who have been over worked either by a company or by yourself. It will help you with mindfulness and with realizing that the path to success isn’t burnout, it’s being well-rested and prioritizing what matters most versus serving yourself until you have nothing left!
2. THE BEST YES by Lysa TerKeurst — THIS. For all of the people and especially women who have the hardest time saying no. Who fill up their schedules to please others and leave themselves empty, sometimes disappointing themselves and others when they are too busy to follow through (we have all been there!!!) — who think that saying no to anything isn’t allowed or will be frowned upon. This book helps you say NO to the wrong things and YES to the right ones. You are giving life your BEST YES when you make decisions based on what you are capable of handling at that time and this book changed the heck out of our business. I went from never seeing my husband who works Mon-Fri because I would shoot so much on the weekend for people to saying “I’m sorry but we can’t shoot anything on the weekends except weddings anymore” and it was hard, VERY hard…and scary at first, but it’s been incredibly worth it. Our marriage, our family life — all of the things that matter most were restored again when I said no to something that wasn’t working for our family. We ended up reminding clients they would have their weekends to themselves, they would be able to shoot as late as 6-8pm during the summer hours which is for most people after their work days ended anyway and I would make it so easy on them!
3. THE MAGNOLIA STORY by Chip & Joanna Gaines — I got so hooked on their show this year and this couple just has my heart. Whenever people have told success stories, it’s interesting to see how humble they are willing to get. A lot of people don’t like to mention too much of the nitty gritty but I LOVE to do that and to hear others doing that, so when I read this book about a couple who chased a crazy dream together that became something so huge, it was unbelievably inspiring. They believe in loving deeply, in laughing, they believe in signs from God and they believe in chasing these dreams while having a family, something we believe so deeply in. I gotta really love someone to read an autobiography about them but they breathe so much life into others just by telling their story that it is so, so worth a read!
4. THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo — I was already kind of goal-oriented toward this mentality of decluttering, tidying up and not owning so much STUFF…but this book took me to the level I couldn’t get myself to before! We are simple life people, when it comes down to it, we don’t own a lot of stuff. I mean, things acquire, but we usually are good about getting rid of them. But I did question some of the things we kept and wondered if we truly needed them, and wondered why we were keeping them. Here’s the thing, you can have so much more peace if you know what you own and where it is. I mean, what a concept in today’s age where people have so much crap that they need storage units just because of the clutter! I’m not talking out of function, like you have a business you need it for — I’m talking like you just have things, all the things. This book helped us SO MUCH! We have so much less to clean, we know what we own and where it is (most of the time!) — this one breathes SO much peace and life into our family!!!
5. LOVING MY ACTUAL LIFE by Alexandra Kuykendall — Besides her beautiful heart and soul and all of the lessons I learned from reading this, the way the format is set up for this book is my favorite. It gave me the opportunity to read it far more quickly and let the info stick with me because it was very easy to pick up and put down without feeling distracted and interrupted when the kids needed my attention. It was written PERFECTLY for moms! Alexandra does an experiment for 9 months where she focuses on one thing at a time each month from home organization to health to meals to dates, etc and she insists that she can love her life better, now, instead of waiting for better things to come. You have to take what your life IS and make the most of it but you MUST be intentional! You have to slow down and give focus to these things and learn how you can become better at it and she thought this experiment would change things for her, and it DID! It changed things for me, too. This year I learned to cook more and we have been eating better meals and not spending so much on take out. That’s not all I learned from this book, and I think this one has the potential to speak to so many people’s hearts!
Other books we love?
Grace, Not Perfection – Emily Ley
Quitter – Jon Acuff
Do Over – Jon Acuff
You Are A Badass – Sincero
Love Does – Bob Goff
The Life Giving Home – Sally & Sarah Clarkson
Make It Happen – Lara Casey
Unglued – Lysa TerKeurst
If You Find This Letter – Hannah Brencher
Living Well Spending Less – Ruth Soukup
Uninvited – Lysa TerKeurst
Complete Guide To Money- Dave Ramsey
Gift From The Sea – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Bossypants – Tina Fey
Night Light – Dobson
For The Love – Jen Hatmaker
Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist (Not pictured because it’s still in our totaled car three hours away from our home!:()