On books I’ve read this year and reading tips

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I have to admit. I like to read but, last year I only read four books. I am only talking about books, not articles, manga and so on. Since last year, I started to keep a list with the books read during the year so I can have a better image of how much I read. When I started to act towards a more minimalist lifestyle I didn’t intend to be a minimalist in terms of reading, but somehow I got there.

I tried to think of methods of how to increase my reading time, but first I had to find the problem behind. In my case procrastination and many activities that I can’t give up on ( like practicing my languages and learning Japanese, doing various courses and starting to learn about financial education, plus spending more time to get out for walks in the park).

One of my goals for 2022 was to increase the number of books I read, because let’s face it, reading is food for the brain and soul. I started with analyzing my lifestyle, and now that I live in a new place I had to adapt to these changes as well. I made goal lists and activities lists that I wanted to make into habits. For example, reading and learning Japanese are my goals for the year and for the years to come, so they are also on my activities list.

On my activities list there are all the things I want to improve or learn further. I have 13 activities on this list that I do one by one and they are related to journaling ( I had to put it on the list in order to be more intentional and more organized), learning and practicing languages (listening, writing, grammar activities), blogging and reading.

This list is great because I get to do everything that is written down, which is actually what helps me achieve my goals. Reading became an important goal for me this year and until now I have read double the number of books I had read last year. It’s already better and it’s going to be even better. I decided to do so.

As tips or methods to increase my readings I found that it helps to:

  • put reading on your to do list (if you work well with to do lists, of course);
  • read whenever you can, even if you only read 2 pages (I try to read when I go to the park, while I dry my hair, while I do my skin routine etc);
  • read more books in parallel ( I now have 3 books that I started reading and I read based on how I feel at that moment);
  • listen to audio books if you like to listen rather than to read (my sister is the perfect example, she listened more than 30 books while I only read 8 until now this year);
  • create a comfortable space and turn on that asmr;
  • read the books that attract you and if you feel like not finishing the book after starting to read it, feel comfortable to put that book on hold or even to give up on it. There are so many good books to read in the world and not that much time to actually do it, so feel free to choose your books.
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This article is about books and reading, but it is also a way of keeping records on my progress so far. I am going to list the books that I have read so far, and maybe you’ll be inspired to read some of them too:

1. The art of simple living by Shunmyo Masuno
This year I was super into books on simple living, minimalism, Zen philosophy, and I read more Japanese authors than before. Not only that I started learning Japanese, but I feel like I learn and relax in the same time when I read this kind of books.

2. Everyday life in Joseon era Korea edited by Michael D. Shin
This was a great book on how people used to live a few centuries ago. I was always interested in this subject and fortunately I found a book that helped me find out what people from different backgrounds used to do, what they ate, how they worked, how they had fun and how they lived at that time.

3. Joseon’s Royal Heritage 500 years of splendor – Korea Foundation
Another book with historical theme. This book talks about the cultural heritage of Korea through royal palaces, royal tombs and the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (records of the dynasty that still exist today and they can be also found online).

4. 생의 모든 순간을 사랑하라 by William Hablitzel
The second book I finished in only Korean and it made me extremely proud and motivated to keep reading in Korean even if takes longer, even if I don’t understand everything. In translation, the title means Love all the moments of your life, and it shows what you can learn even from the most difficult moments in life: illness or death. (The version in English of this book is Dying was the best thing that ever happened to me: stories of healing and wisdom along life’s journey).

5. Ikigai. The Japanese secret to a long and happy life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
One of my favorites. It made me realize so many things and I learned another way of observing life in general. It really depends on how we take life, it can be good or bad depending on our perspective. One of the books I warmly recommend if you need a change in perspective or only positivity and motivation in life.

6. A little book of Japanese contentments by Erin Niimi Longhurst
Another great one that I would recommend. It is somehow similar to the preceding one because they talk about similar concept or even the same ones, like ikigai (finding purpose), but it has the warmth and style of a blog. At least this is how I felt it, not to mention that the author has her own blog.

7. It’s ok to feel things deeply by Carissa Potter
Very short, but super warm and light. Healing through visual content and short phrases that feel like a talk with your friend.

8. Zen Wisdom for the anxious by Shinsuke Hosokawa
Again, another Japanese book, a book on how to take life, a book that calms not only through content, but also from a structural aspect.

Books that I am currently reading:

  1. A Buddhist monk’s guide to a clean house and mind by Keisuke Matsumoto (I am reading it for the second time)
  2. 엄마를 부탁해 by Shin Kyung Sook (Trans. Please look after mom)
  3. The comfort book by Matt Haig

As you can see, for now I am interested in finding about new perspectives, but also in learning how to be grateful and live better. Also, i like to read books that make me feel better, books that carry the power of healing.

Books won’t necessarily make you richer and you won’t become smarter after reading a few books, but you will become richer in terms of spirituality, new perspectives, vocabulary, and you will get in contact with people who lived centuries ago, in a totally different context. Reading is another word for traveling.

This is it from my part. I hope you like my list of books and tips for reading. And because we’re talking about reading, share with me your favorites, maybe your list will inspire my next choices.

Thank you for reading by the way.

I’m so in love with autumn

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For me the 1st of September means that it is already autumn. There are no red leaves yet, but I already feel autumn is here. I am not talking only about the rainy days that are more frequent nowadays. It is in the air, or there is something wrong with my nose. I don’t care. I can’t hide my excitement.

Ever since I was a child, autumn was more special to me than Christmas itself. Maybe we are more drawn to the season we were born in or maybe autumn really has something special. For me autumn is so cozy: the air is pleasant, the autumn clothes are the most comfortable, the colors make me think I am in another realm.

Everything is so beautiful. Nothing about autumn makes me feel depressed or sad. I like all the seasons because this is how I want to be, to appreciate everything the way it is. I don’t like the cold, but I like winter because it’s part of my life and because there is beauty even in the cold days. I don’t like the heat waves, but summer is so beautiful and green and it makes me feel so motivated.

Autumn in the countryside is one of the most beautiful things one can see and experience. The colors, the crops, the abundance, the satisfaction of hard work, the coziness… everything is there to make you the happiest person on Earth. This year I will experience another autumn, but in the city. It is the first time to experience autumn in this town that became my new home. I am trying to enjoy every moment of this new season, with gratitude, hope and joy. I take walks and I try to observe how things change everyday, how they transform into something else.

Autumn always makes me think about change. Autumn makes me positive about change, it makes me better at accepting and embracing change, because even if uncomfortable, change can be so beneficial and beautiful. Autumn is beautiful even as a metaphor.

I welcome you autumn with all my heart. The coziest season of all is here again and I am ready to have the best autumn. With a positive mind and a heart full of hope and joy, I wish we could all have a happy autumn, one full of happy experiences, growth and healthy habbits.

As always, thank you for reading.

A traveler in my new town

The red sunset that I love…

Ever since I moved in this town, I promised myself to get outside more, to see more sunsets, to walk more and to simply observe from the side how the world transforms.

The weather is hot, but thanks to it, I learned to better organize myself. In the morning I work or run errands, in the evening I take walks, I exercise or I cook.

The town I live in at the moment is not new to me. But is not familiar either. Maybe this is why, moving here felt like a real change. I like small towns, so this was the most suitable place for me at the moment.

Even before moving, I said to myself not to get attached this time, as attachment brings expectations, thus disappointments. This time I would like to try more of a traveler mindset. I won’t be ashamed to ask the locals, I will watch the sunset like I wouldn’t see it again from the same place, I will take my time and discover new places like I would do if everything was totally unknown.

A traveler is also curious, so I will be curious and learn so many new things, find new spots, new restaurants, new green spaces.

Yesterday I went to a place where I have never been before. I’ve been many times in the town, but I never went to this place, even if I wished to go someday. I guess yesterday was that day. From afar, it seems to be a small island very close to the park I am writing this blog post right now. However, when you pass the bridge you find a hidden paradise, another park with lots of sculptures and sunny alleys. I felt like a child who discovered a secret garden and I looked closely at the sculptures like I would if I traveled some place new. Because in fact it really was new, fresh and exciting.

Night ambiance by the river

This traveler mindset that I am experimenting right now motivates me and inspires me. I also know that it won’t last forever, but rather than being anxious about the unknown that inevitably comes our way, embracing the new with a positive and excited mindset is the best choice we can make.

I hope you see the place you live in with different eyes everyday and be excited about the place you live in.

Thank you for reading 🙂

A new journey begins

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It’s been two years since my last move, and after two years spent in my hometown I decided to start a new journey. My new goal for the rest of the year is to make this year the best year.

June and July were super busy as I looked for apartments in a city close to my parents’ house. I didn’t intentionally choose this city because it was close to my parents’ house, but because I always had a hard time moving and getting out my comfort zone, so the solution I could think of was to make a change that wouldn’t feel so big.

As an introvert, I always loved my comfort zone and I was resistant to change (I still am, but it is work in progress). Whenever I made changes or when something changed, I had a hard time accepting and adapting. I remember that I cried so hard while working when I was announced that my manager will go to another department and that I will have a new manager. (I really liked my manager, but I like my current manager too, so nothing bad happened). Since that moment, I started to work on my mindset.

I wanted so much to change my perspective on change, to become more flexible and to accept change as an opportunity to grow, as a new start and a way to get to know myself better. I read books and articles on accepting and embracing change, on getting out of my comfort zone. I started to involve more in projects at work and I decided to give myself opportunities to fail, thus to learn.

I decided to change my environment. I felt the need to experience something new, and this time I felt scared, but also very excited. I decided to let my fear come along, as this is a natural behavior and a reaction to something unknown. I was always scared by the unknown, by what I couldn’t control. This time, I decided to embrace my fear, but go ahead anyway.

I found an apartment in a nice area and I started moving my belongings. At first, everything felt unfamiliar and strange. My sister who will live with me felt depressed too. But soon, when we finished moving our belongings and started to give this place our personal touch, it got better. We told ourselves it will be the best year and that we will make it so.

I have never stayed alone in a place for more than a day or two, but I got to experience that too for a longer period of time because my sister had to go to another town for personal reasons. I was afraid that my social anxiety would stop me from going outside and enjoy the summer or simply run my errands, but with a lot of patience and nice words said to myself, I could enjoy living alone more than I could ever imagined.

Sometimes, the things that we are scared of are opportunities in disguise. The way we look at things becomes our reality. I learned so much about myself in the last two years, and even more in the last two months. Even if it was difficult and I still feel tired after all the things that happened so quickly, I am proud and happy with my decision and I am excited about what comes next.

I hope you are doing what’s best for you, even if it scares you at first. And remember, sometimes small changes take you to the highest places.

I am reading my old diaries (pt.1)

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I always thought that it would be nice to read my old diaries after some time had passed. Reading what I had written years ago would be like meeting my old self and watching how much I have grown. Sometimes I wish I started to write a journal earlier and also keep it.

One day I thought of reading my first diary. I didn’t really remember the exact year, but I knew that I started journaling in my last year of college.

I don’t know why I wanted to go through it, but somehow I got curious about myself at that time. Was I more daring? Or maybe less confident than now? What did I like at that time? And what I used to think about? Thankfully, there are notes of what I used to do and worry about in my diary. And these days, I am going back to it like I would do with old archives.

My first diary that still exists today dates from January 14th, 2017. When I think about it, it’s quite a long time. I wrote it in Korean in an attempt to improve my Korean writing skills, but also because it felt the most secure language as I was living in a room of five at that time.

The first thing I could observe were my language skills. My Korean at that time was quite poor, and therefore my ideas were formulated in a short structure with basic grammar and vocabulary. I am sure I could have written a lot better and more complex about my life at that time if I wrote in English, for example, but this also shows the efforts I made and the worries I had about advancing in Korean.

I started writing this diary in my last year of college, when I also had to write my research paper. There was a lot of stress and I can remember how stressed I was even without reading my diary. It’s somehow strange that I rediscover myself as a student, a younger version of myself for whom studying was the biggest priority.

Some things didn’t change even if 5 years passed. I read a page where I was talking about how much music and Kdramas helped me to cope with all the stress and kept me motivated. It is the same even after 5 years.

While reading my diary I remembered about certain people I lived with, sometimes I described the atmosphere in the room, I remembered the people I became strangers with because of the time spent apart and different lifestyles. I talked about friends who are still my friends today and we became closer after all these years.

When I read about interesting or new things I did some days, it was so nice to visualize and remember the emotions, the places and the people I enjoyed spending my time with, I visualized the events that were left somewhere behind all the day to day worries.

As a conclusion, I think keeping a diary is a great way to keep a track of one’s progress and I find it also healing, helping to relieve stress and cope with anxieties. However, I think that going back to reading it it’s the best way to see if it helps, to check for improvements or even to get in touch with old memories. It is all written in “the book”.

Thank you for reading and happy journaling.

The good things that come with journaling

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Everything is good, but it’s better when you try it yourself. Journaling has its benefits, as meditation, yoga, working out, painting have their benefits as well. There are so many good things that you can try or learn for your personal development, but only after trying doing it, you will actually see if it works for you or not.

Today I want to talk about journaling and the benefits I could see since journaling consistently for more than 2 years.

Consistency
As I am the type who likes to learn and try so many things/activities, I try to stay consistent in the activities that I like the most. If I wouldn’t do so, I would be very disorganized and I wouldn’t benefit from my work. It has been more than 2 years since I have started keeping a journal and I think that I have been doing great writing on a regular basis in both my Korean and English journals. Consistency can be seen in time, and doing something for a longer period of time can also teach us new things about ourselves.

Becoming more sincere with myself

This is one of the things that I am most grateful for. Before writing my thoughts in a journal, I had a big problem with accepting my mistakes and my feelings. Actually, at first I didn’t know how to write and I tried to write things that might sound cool, ignoring my true feelings. When I tried reading again after a while, I couldn’t recognize that person, because I wasn’t sincere with myself, I wasn’t writing about myself. I thought that even writing a journal is not that easy as it sounds, but with practice and patience I could become more sincere with myself and accept more of my parts that are not that cool and that I tried to hide even from myself.

Clearer mind
At some point, journaling became more of a confession. As I tried writing about my feelings as they were, my heart lightened and my mind became clearer. Journaling about one’s feelings should not be seen as dumping the trash, but rather as becoming aware of what we actually feel, be it sadness, anger, envy or happiness. People often think that talking about how they really feel makes them vulnerable, and it is actually true. However, not talking about them and not knowing the name of what they feel might become a poison.

Improving my languages
I don’t know why, but it is difficult for me to write in my mother tongue. I used to write a lot in Romanian, but at some point, I started writing only in other languages. It might be because I wanted to improve my languages or maybe because I was afraid other people would find my diaries. I don’t remember when it started and why, but I know one thing: my writing in English particularly got a lot better, and even my Korean writing is a lot more advanced than it was before.

Express myself better
I feel like I can write about anything more clearly and more easily. This is related to what I have aforementioned, writing my thoughts on paper got better. On one side it is because I became friends with the language I write in, but on the other side I think I became friends with writing as well. Writing is also something that can get better with practice. Writing is like talking with no voice, and to be honest, after writing my thoughts on paper, I feel I can hear my inner voice a lot better. For me, journaling is like learning to talk to myself and about myself.

Accomplishing more goals
In my journal I often make promises. The hardest promise to keep is the one that you make to yourself. When I write my promises on paper, the chances to keep those promises increase. That is because when I visualize it, my brain stores the words and starts finding ways to make it happen. A written promise it is also more powerful because there are traces of it. When you speak of it, it is easy to forget it, but when you write it, you can see it whenever you go back on your writings.

Journaling is beautiful and it has many benefits. I only mentioned the ones that are the most important to me and according to my own experience. What I find even more beautiful is that according to your own experience, you might find different benefits and different ways to make journaling something of your own. Journaling should be like that.

Thank you for reading.

The stories that will never be told

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When I first started blogging, I had two or three articles that I have already written and that helped me to feel less stressed about posting for about two weeks. When I finished posting all these articles, I felt like “ok, and now what?“. I felt like my resources were over and I wasn’t sure that starting a blog was the right thing to do.

However, I was thinking of ways to always have topics prepared, so I started doing what I do best: lists.
Every time an idea pops in my head, I try to write it down immediately on my list in my phone, and as I keep my phone by my side at all times, this is not that hard to do.

By now the list got longer. Truth to be told, there are many things to write about even if I don’t have that list. However, knowing that I have a back up plan for the “just in case situations” makes me feel less stressed and concentrate on what I really want to write about at a certain moment.

Having a big list with ideas to write about, doesn’t mean that I will write about all those topics. Why? Because there are ideas that pop up instantly, but when I think about them, I don’t feel the spark to write about them after a period of time. Actually, going through my list with topics from time to time, I got to eliminate many ideas that felt wow at the moment of popping up, but after I while I felt like I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to write about anymore. So I would eliminate them and concentrate on what inspires me at the moment, be it on the list or not.

Thinking about how I eliminated so many ideas on the list until know, made me realize that some stories will always stay untold. It made me sad somehow, but I still believe that this filtering must be done for various reasons, and the most important one remains that if I don’t feel like writing about it anymore, than why forcing things.

Sometimes, the ideas that I choose to eliminate give me new ideas that I usually write about immediately. I actually love this recycling thing because it usually gives me ideas that I feel like writing about even after a long period of time. Writing for me is an endless process of transformation and refining anyway, so this is not a bad thing. However today I thought for the first time that when I take out an idea from my list, I choose to not tell a story that could have been told.

I’ll let you think about this.
Until next time, let’s be happy.

Our dog is just great

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There is so much talk on small happiness and gratitude that I feel I don’t need to add more on the topic. However, when it comes to practicing these two, there is more to it than just reading and talking about it.

This article is inspired by our dog, Sasha, food addict, just like me. What I love the most about Sasha is the happiness he shows me when I bring him his favorite dog food. He is all over the place, wiggling his tail and running from one corner to another. He makes me feel better in an instant with his silly acting and the way he shows he is grateful for bringing him his favorite food. At least, this is how I see it.

Today, after bringing him his food and playing with him for a while, I have realized that he is teaching me daily about small happiness and gratitude. I should be grateful for the good food I eat every single day, but humans are not as great as animals are, and we often forget how blessed we are.

Sasha is my daily reminder that I should be grateful for the food I eat every single day and, by being grateful I am happy.

The time to find my true self

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I was studying Korean with Youtube the other days and I discovered a nice quote in a video from the Knowledge talk channel that I found very inspirational and it resonates with what I’ve been trying to do myself for a while now, and that is to find my true self.

가짜 행복의 뒤를 쫓지 말고 진짜 나를 찾는 시간을 쫓아라.“(Erich Fromm), which means that one should chase the time to find his/her real self instead of chasing false happiness.

I found this quote very interesting because we often talk about happiness, but not that much about fake happiness. It’s like there is one recipe for happiness and we should all follow that recipe in order to get the result of becoming happy. But there are as many recipes for happiness as many people there are in the world.

This is why becoming happy is difficult. Nobody can tell you the way you can become happy. Only listening to yourself, knowing what you want and what you like can help you attain happiness. Also, happiness is not a final product. There is no complete happiness. Happiness is the sum of our efforts, it depends on how we see things, it also depends on the circumstances. Happiness is different for every single person and this is what makes it so special.

Knowing who we are, what we want and what we like can lead us closer to our own recipe for happiness. It’s not easy to find what you really like or want to do, and you might get lost in the process of finding who you really are. When I felt lost, I just tried to do more of the things I like, and soon I found my way again. I know I will get lost many times in the future, but it’s ok as long as I find more about myself and the things that I love.

Do you know what makes happy? Do you often do what makes you happy? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Inspiration from anime

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I have always been interested in visual content in all its forms. Movies, animations, books, photography, they are all fascinating to me. For me visual content is not only a way of entertaining myself, but also the best learning method. I remember even now the Philosophy exam I passed with maximum score after watching a few videos on YouTube explaining the meaning of a few famous paintings that had to be put in a complex essay. Maybe it is also highly related to my learning style, but writing an essay on concepts that were explained using visual content helped me to better understand and apply them in various contexts. Since then, I have mostly used this method to learn or research different topics.

Since I have decided to start learning Japanese, my study plan relied mostly on using visual content to learn in a fun and fast way. Traditional methods are to be avoided in my case. Thus, mnemonics, charts, pictures, illustrated books, YouTube videos and even anime are the resources that I use the most when studying Japanese.

However watching anime is not solely used for studying, but also for nurturing my fascination. With all these holidays and more free time, it would have been impossible not to spare more time for watching animes and dramas.

Today I want to introduce to you an anime that I have re-watched recently and that I have found some inspiration in for this article. It is about Ancient magus bride (Mahoutsukai no Yome). It is an anime that uses supernatural elements, beautiful art and nature scenery, and it is also great to watch for people who love content about supernatural beings, fantastic worlds, life lessons and so on.

When I watched this anime for the second time, I could see more details and go beyond the story. This anime enriched me by making me think about what is important to me, about self-love, growth and interconnections. Of course, every person could see something different when watching a movie or reading a book. Our observations and analysis are also highly influenced by our experiences and the knowledge we have in the present. This is why, being able to relate and to understand more made me think about the little changes that might happen but pass unnoticed.

While watching the anime, I took the time to write down some quotes I loved and that I thought you too might find useful or inspirational.

  • One today is worth two tomorrows.
    I really loved this quote as it emphasizes the importance of the present and living in the now. My efforts of becoming more present and living in the now might be the reason behind my fascination for this quote, but I like it anyway.
  • We live and learn.
    As a lifelong learner I couldn’t agree more to this quote. Life gives us teachers and lessons but how we use what we learn it is totally up to us.
  • Better to ask the way than go astray.
    I like this is one because somehow it has to do with how we think about ourselves and the relationships with others. I used to be extremely uncomfortable and lack confidence when I had to ask someone something I didn’t know. I was afraid I would be laughed at or scolded. Well, one of the reasons I hate traditional teaching is exactly this one: the lack of dialogue and the emphasis on taking what you are given without asking the WHYs.
  • You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs
    The message is simple: you learn from mistakes. And more mistakes mean more lessons. The problem is that many people still see mistakes as failures and not as lessons. But changing our mindset requires time too. Next time when you break an egg, think about what you can learn from it.

So what do you think? Are you inspired by these quotes? By now, you might have realized that there are so many ways we can learn new things. Inspiration and motivation comes in different forms and from different sources. Use every thing that you do to learn something new and correlate it to others things. Everything is interconnected and this is how you can learn the best.