Blogger Book Review Link up – Biography of Virginia Woolf

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How is everyone doing?  I am excited to be linking up with book club this month since I totally flaked on February’s “Love Story” theme. This month, we were asked to pick a biography of someone we have been meaning to learn more about.  My first choice was Anderson Cooper.  He fascinates me.  Sadly, there are no written biographies past written interviews.  I decided to go with my second choice, Virginia Woolf.  VW is one of my daughter’s favorite authors and hearing how great she was, convinced me to learn more.  I have seen 9and loved ) The Hours in which Nicole Kidman won the Academy Award.  That only gives a tiny glimpse in to the life that is Virginia Woolf.

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There were several books to choose from.  I selected Virginia Woolf: A biography by Quentin Bell, her nephew.  This book was marked as having the most inside secrets since this was written by someone within her family circle.  Ohh! Inside gossip!  Say no more! I quickly ordered a used copy since it is out of print.

The beginning of the book goes through several generations on her father’s side.  At first I found the lineage boring but it was necessary in learning where she “came from”.  Born Adeline Virginia Stephen on January 25, 1882, Virginia would grow up to be an English writer and once of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century. The men on her father’s side were all successful writers and scholars. While, the women on her mother’s side were stunningly beautiful posing as models for Victorian era painters or becoming successful painters and photographers themselves.

Virginia he found a love for books at an early age and began writing when she was 6 for a neighborhood newspaper she started with her older sister, Vanessa.  The two girls had a very close bond throughout her life.  Virginia was a very shy girl.  She felt so awkward in public that looking someone the eye while walking street would make her face burn red.  Virginia was a modern woman of the late Victorian Era rebelling against the formality of a society she was born into . And she was, from the start, a troubled soul.

When her mother died in 1895, she and her sister Vanessa were sexually abused by their half brother.  This went on for many years. It is believed these two key points, along with the death of her half sister, Stella two years later, began the start of her mental break leading to her first breakdown.  She was quoted once stating “Her mother’s death was the greatest disaster that could happen”. She was 13 at the time.

After her father’s death in 1904, Virginia first attempted suicide.  It’s said she was “mad all summer”. Her next breakdown was after her brother’s death in 1906.  Virginia had a beautiful, intellectually gifted mind.  She was quite sane and very outspoken.  Her “madness” was provoked only by life-altering events such as, death of a family member, her marriage to writer Leonard Woolf in 1912 or the publication of a novel.

She would eventually succeed in taking her life during one of these episodes on March 28, 1941. She wrote a love letter to Leonard, walked to the river, filled her pockets with rocks and drowned herself.  Her legacy lives on today in the mental health profession as her behaviors have been studied time and time again. Researchers and specialists discuss her family history of mental health, her abuse, feminism views and even her being a lesbian having an open affair even while married Leonard.

I love learning about this woman very much.   Quentin Bell did a great job of going into great detail of how life in the Victorian Era was for a female vs. a male. He went into depth of her life with close friends and her family.  At the time, the best form of communication was by letter as the phone was not common in the home yet.   Somehow, a lot of these letters survived.  Could you imagine the clutter? I cringe….  but that is where a lot of this information comes from plus from Virginia’s own writings or other references. The letters are the best part in my opinion.  I can imagine VW in her studio writing her letters to her friends and waiting for a reply to come.

If you are in to historical fiction and LOVE the Victorian Era like I do, then I think you will really like this biography.  I would love to travel back in time to one of her sane periods and have tea with Virginia and her sister Vanessa.  I think we would get along very well.

If you could pick anyone to learn more about, who would it be and why? 

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Simplify by Joshua Becker – book review

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Welcome to the first installment of Blogger Book Club hosted by Sarah @ sarahohm.com! Each month a bunch of bloggers are linking up to share different book reviews based on a common theme.  I have never belonged to a book club before.  I did not like the idea of having to read the same book as everyone else. What if I didn’t like it? What if everyone else did not like my pick? It’s too much pressure for me.  But when Sarah came up with this idea and suggested the month’s themes, I jumped on board.  If you want to join in the fun, check out Sarah’s blog page and send her an email to sign up!

This month we were asked to choose a book that we find motivational.  “Motivational” was such a blurred line for me.  What some see as motivating, others might see as inspirational or even a self help “How To”. The following book was motivational for me as well as a how to guide.

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Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life 

By Joshua Becker

-Here is a little about the book via Joshua’s Becoming Minimalist blog/website

“Simplify is a celebration of living more by owning less. It calls for the end of accumulating unnecessary possessions by highlighting the enjoyment of living with less.

Simplify will change the way you view physical possessions. And it will provide you with the motivation to realign your life around your heart’s greatest passion.”

-I chose this book due to my quest to declutter my life.  Joshua explains that becoming a minimalist means something different to everyone.  Not all minimalists sell everything and downsize their lifestyle to fit into a 200sq ft trailer on wheels.  Joshua calls himself a “rational minimalist.” This means pursuing a simple lifestyle but doing it rationally. DING! DING! This is exactly what I want.

Without giving away all the secrets of the book, this list of seven principals has you looking at your belongings in a new light.  Why are you holding on to a gift someone gave you years ago that you have not looked at in years? Does your stuff bring you joy? Is the item something you cherish or do you keep it because of guilt? By changing your lifestyle to a minimalist approach, the following things happen:

  • You spend less because you need less
  • You stress less because the clutter is not there to cause a visual distraction
  • Your house is easier to clean – without all the clutter to move out of your way, cleaning takes less time
  • You have the freedom to do more things. How? You have saved money because you are not spending it on crap you don’t need. And you have the time to do new things because you are not constantly cleaning up

These are just a few benefits to decluttering your home and life.  Decluttering does not mean to reorganize.  You are not taking your belonging from one room in your house and storing them in a cabinet or a box.  You commit yourself to donating, selling or trashing the majority of your thing that you do not use.  The things you keep should be what you use.  I know there are things that have emotional value. It’s OK to keep somethings.  However, I bet if you look at your attic or garage, and after the overwhelming feeling goes away, you will ask yourself why you are holding on to all your stuff too.

I don’t feel like we have the typical amount of clutter. I do not hold sentimental attachment to things like most people.  My garage is not wall to wall boxes and neither is my basement.  You can open my closets without things falling out.  But what is there, really can go. Having the tools outlined in this book will help to make this process less of a chore.  I look forward to the days when I can look around and know that everything we own has meaning to us.  Just the thought of this makes me smile and feel less stress.

Are you interested in learning more about becoming a minimalist?  Check out Joshua’s website linked above for helpful tips and information about other booked he has written.

Have you read any motivational books lately? Please share in the comments below!

What to read more?  Just click on the blue frog :0)

It’s been a great start to 2015!

Hello everyone!  I am joining the Let’s Grow Together in a link up hosted by my blend Miriam over at Farm Girl.  If you love fashion, farm animals and a witty sense of humor, you should check out her posts.

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Today is Wednesday.  Two weeks ago was New Years Eve. We are currently smack dab in the middle of January.  How crazy is that? I passed my 3rd anniversary of my healthy(er) lifestyle change on the 8th. Dan and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in exactly 2 weeks. Time is flying by!  Despite the freezing January temperatures and this head cold that I caught when I came back to this germ fest of an office, the past couple weeks have been good to me.

If you follow me on Instagram, you would see that I am back to doing my yoga challenges after taking the month of December off.  Boy did I miss them!  I won a prize in the first week! I am planning a blog post on that soon.  I have tried “new to me” poses~ some with success, some that need a lot of work… And have come to the conclusion that even if I never master arm balances that’s ok.  I have not given up on them. I am just not stressing over them either.

I am continuing on my path to becoming a minimalist. I first wrote about the urge to purge back in July ’14. I am not going to sell my house and move into something that’s 200 square feet.  Let’s be rational here! Actually rational minimalism is a thing and what I aspire to be.  I am happy in my 2000 sq ft home.  I think, because of my lack of sentimental attachments, we actually have less then the average couple living in a 3 bedroom house in suburbia. However, the things I do have are just sitting in boxes and storage containers that have not been seen since we moved 6 years ago.  Why am I holding on to it? I see a large yard sale in my future! Does 70-80’s Tupperware hold their value?  Hmmm….

I miss running.  I miss it a lot.  It is just way to cold in the mornings to get me out there and it’s not light out long enough after work to go to the park.  The bright side is that is still a little light out at 5:15PM which is when I would get out to run anyway. So I have approx. 6-8 weeks to go and I will be happy again.

Is it just me or are there a ton of great movies out right now?  And so many of them are true life stories which I LOVE!  So far this year, we have ween Unbroken, The Imitation Game and The Gambler ( not a true story ).  We are planning to go back again this weekend to see some others.

Also, this month I decided to join another blend, Sarah for a blogger book club! I have never belonged to a book club before.  Every month there is a theme for the book you should read… no one picks the book for you. This is what sold me on this actually. There is still plenty of time to jump on board for this month if you want.  Your “book report” is due the last day of the month and link your blog with the rest of the group. This month we are looking at motivational books.

So, that is my two weeks in a nutshell. Tell me… how has the start of 2015 been for you?

Stay happy and healthy my friends!