Category: Book Reviews

Review: Minimalist Budget by Zoe Mckey

I have always had a small problem with money—in that I always had something to spend it on. In college it was paying tuition, as soon as I got a paycheck, I turned around and paid off part of my semester bill. This worked well until I graduated from graduate school, got a job and had to move. There I quickly spiraled into debt, even though I had a budget set up. Moving home after the job was loss, helped me get the debt down, but not totally eliminated.

Minimalist Budget by Zoe Mckay. Image from


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Review of Minimalist makeover: Four easy step-by-step strategies to simplify your life as much as you want; By Zoe McKey

So far this month I’ve been able to finish Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and start another book. I’ve decided that the next few books that I’m going to read are going to revolve around minimalism.

Now I’m not going to all of a sudden just have the extreme bare necessities in my future home–it will be cozy, but I have come to the realization that I can be a pack rat at times with certain things. I think trying to take suggestions from Zoe McKey’s book and some of the other books I’ve read I can design an scheme that works for me–it may not work for other people, but it can bring some sense of balance to my own life.

I’ve been thinking about reducing the amount of “stuff” I own for quite awhile. One reason is that when I move I don’t want to be adding a massive number of boxes to what I already have in storage (that I’d be sorting through once I got to my new place). Other reasons is that with things going more and more digital—do I really need all the CDs or DVDs (answer—I’m going to keep some—but not all).

I agree with the author that the western hemisphere has the mentality of more, more, and more, which does drive capitalism, but doesn’t really buy us happiness. I’ve also realized that having too many things, which I never get around to dusting, is causing both my allergies and my anxiety to flare at times.

Zoe introduces two theories of minimalism from Japan and two from Nordic countries. She also emphasizes that you can pick and choose the parts of the theory that resounds best with you to work with. Personally—I’ll probably be going more with Nordic ways of lagom and hygge than the KonMari or Wabi-sabi methods (but in a year to two, I may incorporate a little of those as well).

As Zoe said in her book “You don’t have to be so hard on yourself. Know your goals and act, declutter, and minimize accordingly”. For me that is to ensure that if I ever have to use a storage unit again for long term—it will only be half filled.

Moving is a pain in the rear, if I can condense down my belongings to half (or even a third) by the time I have to do a second move (after the next one)–that can save quite a bit of money in the long run.

So one goal is to try to go through the clothes I’ve acquired over the past four years and see how many can be donated or re-purposed to something else.

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Review: Big Magic “Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is my fifth (or maybe sixth) book on personal/creative development that I’ve been reading over the past few months. I will admit it was the subtitle that initially drew me into purchasing the book: “Creative Living Beyond Fear”.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Image:

I loved this book, for the straightforwardness and whimsicalness reasons she gave for everyone to just embrace their creative side, and if nothing else—create something for yourself, and not the world.

It has seemed like I let life get in the way of my creativity, and now maybe just maybe I’ll pick up those projects that I’ve set to the side when I was putting in the sixty to eighty hour work weeks, and apologize for neglecting them and finish.

Creativity is what gives us sanity to survive in this chaotic, stressful world. Not all will make millions off of it—but create for the joy, not the money.

I give this book five stars and highly recommend it to anyone who troubles creatively as a reminder that creative living should be fun and joyous.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: “You don’t need anybody’s permission to live a creative life”.

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Me and the Moon

Reflections and Review……….

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Moonology: Working with the Magic of Lunar Cycles by Yasmin Boland

As I continue my journey of personal development, I know one area that needs more focus and attention is my spirituality. I’ve realized over the years that I’ve kept my spirituality more or less either under lock and key, or a tight leash. You see—I’ve been raised in the south, more or less in the middle of the “Bible Belt” where you get weird looks if you aren’t a follower of one of the main religions (especially Christianity). I’m not a follower of any of the western religions, and I don’t have anything against those who are (unless they either 1) try to force their views on me or someone else; or 2) become self-righteous because my spirituality path is different from theirs). Read More

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Review of “Light is the New Black: A guide to answering your soul’s calling and working your light” by Rebecca Campbell

This is the second book by Rebecca Campbell that I’ve read over the past few weeks (I actually started with “Rise Sister Rise”), and I loved it. I was once again drawn to look inwards even more with the questions that were spaced throughout the book (and I have most bookmarked to go back to, as I couldn’t seem to find the words just yet to answer the questions).

It is an amazing book to read, and have the realization that there are parts of us that we close off because we have the need to “fit in” with everyone else. It reminded me that I’d “grown quiet” during school, because I “talked funny” and didn’t like having my speech corrected. I had trouble making friends in school–I was the quiet (at least until you got to know me), bookish, nerdy one that never really fit in with any one crowd–also in group pictures for the most part I wasn’t smiling because it took too much energy to fake being happy around a bunch of people who may or may not have been overly friendly during the grade school to high school stage. That there are parts that we ignore because we’re focused on the parts that we’ve become good at, so that we can trudge through a 9-5 job (or longer depending on the project).

I’ve realized that since I’ve graduated with my PhD, I have let certain areas become closed off and stagnant due to the need to try to climb the scientific ladder. One of the exercises in the book is to make a list of all the things that light you up, no matter what it is—everyone is different, and that is fine. Another exercise is to write out a list of your ten most unique and eclectic mix of gifts, and to keep it growing by adding to it as you uncover more and more of your uniqueness daily/weekly/yearly.

I’m also starting to listen to the inner voice more—it’s getting easier to hear, a little louder each time I need to be reminded—that if something seems a little off, it is better to wait for the next opportunity than it is to jump and be miserable.  I’ve come to realize that what I want out of my scientific career may not be the same as others–and that it is something that I need to clarify to myself before I can express it to others (note to self–that would be something good to work on over the next few weeks).

While I’m still navigating my crossroads, I’ve realized that right now I’m currently seeking another job to replace the one that was just finished—there is a calling, but what that calling is, right now I’m still not sure on. Though I do know it will be tied in with science and education.

I’m slowly growing and taking steps that seem to be frightful, but at the same time could be in the direction that my inner guru is wanting me to go—I just have to slow down, listen, and start asking the universe to help guide me to where I need to be. I’ve finally realized that it is okay to say that I don’t have the answers, and I no longer know what I want to be when I grow up, but I’m open to suggestions from the universe.

So if you are listening Universe– I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m willing to listen and go where you direct.

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Review of “Rise Sister Rise: A Guide to Unleashing the Wise, Wild, Woman Within” by Rebecca Campbell

I have always been interested in books on spirituality, that didn’t drone on about Christianity. This is the first book by Rebecca that I’ve read (I’m just now starting “Light is the New Black”)—so I’m doing things a little backwards. This is a book that had me looking inwards more with the insightful questions that were spaced throughout the book. As I was reading, I could feel thoughts shifting and falling away. I am at a crossroads right now, and this book reminded me that I should take things slow, because if what I jump for isn’t meant for me, it too will soon fall away and I’ll just find myself back at the crossroads (or a similar location). It is time to let our selves heal, and find our way back to our natural internal rhyme of life.


This book opened my eyes to several issues that I’d been letting lie dormant for way to long. Actually issues, that I’d totally forgot about before a passage in the book would bring it to mind—I have several areas bookmarked for the questions to go back and answer, or the exercise to complete, or the mantra to repeat to myself when I need the reminded.


One such passage was on calling back my power from people I’d unknowingly given it away to. This is an exercise that I’m going to be completing in the next few days—this is something we all do—strive to meet the expectations of others (our parents, siblings, friends, coworkers, bosses, significant others), but at the same time we lose a piece of ourselves in the process. This is something I’d realized a couple of years ago, and thought I’d curtailed—but never thought of calling back all the power that I’d given away over the years.


Several other passages dealt with being in the here and now, and not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. I’ve realized that this is an area that I need to work on (especially since I’m currently unemployed and job searching), but at the same time am wondering with the way the past couple of jobs have ended—is the universe trying to tell me that my path lays in some other direction that is away from research? I need to look into this possibility, and determine what path is the one I need to be on—but at the same time, enjoy each day as it comes—as I keep reminding myself—there is beauty everywhere, we just have to slow down and open our eyes and heart to see it.


Another passage that spoke to me was the one where our lives are a book, and each day/year is a page/chapter in that book. We are the sole authors of our book, but we do allow other to contribute to the book—we need to take control and make each chapter the best possible chapter (and not allow others to write huge portions of it). This includes the possibility of having to make a leap and not knowing how it will end. For me that means, potentially going back to school, switching fields totally, and starting over when I’m just a few years shy of turning 40.


For as Rebecca Campbell has said “Rise Sister Rise”

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Ways of dealing with different situations that can cause mental clutter

So I just finished reading:  Declutter your mind: How to Stop Worrying, relieve anxiety, and eliminate negative thinking by S.J. Scott and Barrie Davenport.  Below is the review that I posted on amazon, and decided that I’d share here and maybe expand it a little as to why I enjoyed this book.

I will admit that I picked up this book because the title spoke to me of things that I needed to figure out how to deal with. The book gives practical advice on how to figure out what is important in your life, and then how to start dealing with the issues that might have you veering away from those core values and life priorities. These are strategies that I will be using as I try to get control of the “monkey mind” and determine how to get back being mindful and living closer to those core values and life priorities.

One of the things that I liked about this book is that it gave a list of words that you read through and decided which ones were valuable for both your personal and professional lives (or your core values).  You don’t have to use all of them, and some may be in both lists.  Right now I’ve got about forty core values for my personal life and about thirty for my professional life (though I will probably add more to that list as I re-read the list for thte third or fourth time).

Just reading through the list, I’ve realized that during the past few years I let a lot of things slide that were going against my core values, and my beliefs in myself.  Now I’m going to start weighing job opportunities against the top 5-10 professional values (after I list the values), and if it goes against more than 3 I’ll weigh the option of passing the job over. Also I’ve realized that being messy, and impartial at times to cleaning probably has also contributed to problems, and that the next step with that is to slowly start getting rid of things and trying to be a better housekeeper (even if it is just my bedroom and bathroom right now).

I’m also going to try to get my top personal core values back into alignment (along with my top professional values), though it will be a windy road and a work in progress–that is what this blog is for.

So, remember beauty is everywhere around us–just open your eyes and take it in.

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Nice selection of small changes one can make over a year

So depending on when you’ve visited my blog before, you see that I’ve started a 52 week small challenge.  So that challenge is based on the book 52 Small Changes: One year to a happier, healthier you by Brett Blumenthal.  Tonight I finally got around to writing my review of it on Amazon and thought that I’d share it here as well:

So this was the first book I started to read on my road of personal development. I’ll admit that the main reason why I picked this one was the name was catchy, and it seemed like the changes could be introduced slowly over a year (hence the name of the book by the author). I liked that the book covered everything from fitness, to nutrition, to having breaks to mentally recharge, and tips on how to keep the house a little cleaner (see weeks 7 and 31). Most of the changes were things that I’d been doing in the past before I let stress, and everything else derail me; but there were also changes that I probably wouldn’t have thought of (weeks 20, 40, 44, 48, and 52).

Each week is a different little change that you can work into your day to day life to where hopefully it helps to make your life a little healthier, and a little happier. As I was reading I noticed that there were some challenges that were going to be easier than others (mainly because I live with my parents and I’m not sure how they’d feel about those particular changes), and the slightly more difficult ones may have to wait until I’m living on my own again to implement.

But I have started to work each little challenge into my day to day life (some go a little easier, since I’ve been doing them already, and other will probably take a little longer).

Even if you know you’re doing most of these small change already, I’d recommend this book just for the fact that you may or may not have thought of the other small changes that could also have a positive impact on your life. A great book for anyone interested in personal development and getting happier and healthier.

So in conclusion, if you are following my blog you will find me blogging daily about how I’m doing on this challenge; in addition to starting a 30 day challenge based on the other personal development book I’ve just finished: 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to stop being lazy and overcome your procrastination by S.J. Scott.

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Practical ways to combat procrastination

So here is the review that I just posted on Amazon for 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to stop being lazy and overcome your procrastination by S.J. Scott

With figurative curve balls being thrown lately, I realized that I now have the time to start reading more books on personal development. This was one of the many that found its way onto my kindle (and its the second one I’ve finished in the past week and a half). The advice offered in the book is practical, sensible, and written in such a way that you can pick and choose which habit you want to try to cultivate first. Plus, the author points out that the process takes time, and that if you slip, thats fine just keep working on trying to be better than before. Personally, I know that it will take me awhile to conquer my procrastination, but with the choices that this book offers in being able to overcome that habit, I know I will—the author even states that you just need to be patient with the process.

I’d highly recommend this to anyone who is working on personal development, and is willing to admit that they have a problem with procrastination.

So now the post is going to be a little longer than what I posted on Amazon:

My major take away points were:

Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals for areas of your life that have current personal significance.

Write down ideas that always pop into your head

Create project lists

Create checklists for everything

Batch similar routine tasks together

Create self imposed deadlines

Become publicly accountable

Start small

Reward yourself

Develop project based skills

Take a 30 day challenge

And always be patient with the process.


So in addition to doing a 52 week small change challenge (that I’ll be blogging), I’m also going to start doing 30 day challenges (and blog them here to be held publicly accountable).

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