Reading, Restless Retiree, Retirement lifestyle, Self-help, Writing

My Guilty Pleasure is Reading Books

I’ve been thinking about how much time I spend reading, “Is it an escape from goals I want to accomplish? Could all this reading I do be a bad thing?”

After some soul-searching, I’m slowing down my reading consumption and shifting gears to include more writing into my day.

How it All Started

Reading has always been a big part of my life. One of my fondest memories is lounging in our suburban backyard during summer vacation with a good book. I had eclectic tastes and I remember the librarian peering at me over her readers as I checked out the salacious Backstreet by Fanny Hurst (Queen of the Sob Sisters). The librarian asked me if my mother knew what I was reading. She did. I remember her disgusted look and raised eyebrows, “You like this trash?”

I became an expert on our local library’s inventory. As a little girl I would have to go to the library to check out a heavy armful of books for my mother when she wasn’t able to go for herself. I was under a lot of pressure to remember what she’d already read!

My Habit Includes Both Fiction and Non-Fiction

In the 1980’s and early 1990’s I read mainly for self-improvement. Barbara Sher’s Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want and Ernie Zelinski’s The Joy of Not Working and many others helped show me the path to reach my financial and personal goals. After I started working at Kumon I read mostly fiction as ‘reading for pleasure’ was a big part of our programme’s curriculum so I had to lead by example! I used the Kumon Book List to track my efforts by checking off each book as I completed it and then writing a short summary to remember the contents. It was a satisfying part of my job that I enjoyed!

After I retired I ramped up my reading. I devoured many best sellers in business and self-help: Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, Dorrie Clark, Jim Rohn, Lisa Nicols, Scott Stratten, Dan Pink, Judith Glaser, Alan Weiss, Robert Cialdini, Mari Kondo, Judith Glaser, Simon Sinek, Liz Wiseman, Elizabeth Gilbert, Byron Katie and many more.

20180401_VPL checked out pile-1000

A Typical Stack of checked-out library books

Starting a Blog

One of my goals in retirement was to publish a blog so I began a daily writing practise after being inspired by the teachings of Writing the Mind Alive: The Proprioceptive Method for Finding Your Authentic Voice, Writing Down the Bones, If You Want to Write and The Artist Way. I started a weekly publishing schedule but I never developed a routine strong enough to keep me going and things started to fall apart after a couple of months–I just wasn’t enjoying writing and instead I sat in my recliner reading more books from the library!

I remembered a chapter in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron where she suggested cutting out an activity, like reading, that you enjoy so you can free up your creative space. As I thought about how hard it would be to stop reading for a week I remembered what people used to say about my mother, “She reads too much!” At the time I couldn’t fathom that reading could be a bad thing. But now, I realized how she used reading as an escape from the world.  Now I was continuing the pattern with my own reading addiction. I had dozens of books in my Vancouver Public Library ‘For Later’ folder, several books checked out with a bunch more on hold. Since I retired in January the library had taken over my life. I was spending hours each day reading my checked out books, logging into my library account to reserve more books and several times a day I’d check the status on my holds and remind myself of my upcoming due dates and also made frequent trips each week to my local library branch.

So once again I turned to books for help. Conveniently my hold on Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes became available. It’s is geared towards content marketers but it has useful tools for anyone who wants to writes. Handley suggests setting goals for the number of words written rather than for the amount of time spent writing. This was something I could get my head around. I like setting and achieving goals and thought this approach could work for me. She suggests you churn out 500 words then go back and do your editing and tweaking.

Managing My Habit

I have now decided to treat my blog like a job. I tend to be a morning person. (It helps that I have a construction crew jack-hammering across the street starting at 7:15am Monday to Friday.) With a schedule in place I’m starting to look forward to writing and I’m keeping a lid on my reading habit. Now it’s like a yummy desert I can indulge in and enjoy!

How about you, do you have a guilty pleasure you can share? Does it impact other activities you may be avoiding?

Restless Retiree, Retirement lifestyle, Study Tips

Top 5 tips on how to help your child keep focused on school for the second half of the school year:

New Year’s goals for families

Education consultant Leslie Keelty, featured on Global News Morning, with tips to help your kids stay focused on the rest of the school year.

It’s a new year and what a great time to assess our current goals and start planning for new challenges. For parents, you’ll want to help your children develop the skills they’re going to need to be successful in school and in life
Here are my top 5 tips on how to help your child keep focused on school for the second half of the school year:
Help your children become aware of time.
For little ones you can help ease them into this by introducing time statements into your day. For example, instead of saying, “It’s bath time” You can say, “It’s 7 o’clock time for your bath”.
For older children get them into the habit of timing their daily homework assignments and that way they can learn how to manage their time and they’ll be able to get all of their homework finished on schedule. (And here’s a tip for parents: Take a look at your child’s report card and look for comments like “incomplete work” “late or missing assignments” and you’ll want to take action now to ensure that your child has a strong finish for the school year!)
If you don’t already have one, it’s is a great idea to have a designated study space for your child. This could be at the kitchen table, or at a desk in the child’s bedroom. But whichever the family decides, it should be consistent.
And keep distractions to a minimum, this means the TV is off and the laptop’s shut unless it’s needed to complete a homework assignment.
Post a calendar in your kitchen or family room and include all of your families’ academic and extracurricular activities so everyone knows what’s going on.
Make it a habit of adding things into the calendar and discussing what’s coming up, and pretty soon your kids will learn to do it on their own.
Or, some families may want to use online or cell phone calendars
Kids are people and they get stressed out just like the rest of us. This can make it more difficult to get things like homework done efficiently.
If your child is struggling to focus, try asking them to share their concerns. Feeling heard can lessen the anxiety they may be experiencing and help them to be more productive.
And you can also reach out to your child’s teacher or school principal and find out if there is anything happening at school that should you should be aware of and that way you’ll get the support that your child needs.
There are 2 key things parents need to know about sleep:
#1 is how much sleep children need: According to The Sleep Foundation, children ages 6 to 13 need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per day – hopefully all at once!
It makes sense that a well-rested child can focus better than a sleepy one. So try your best to set a bedtime and stick to it.
And #2 is to getting ready to sleep: So prior to sleep, we want our brains to deactivate and in order to do that you need to put away the devices, power off the tech and try something relaxing like reading a book or writing in a journal.

Restless Retiree, Retirement lifestyle, Study Tips

5 Tips to Avoid the Summer Slide

What is the summer slide?

I originally shared these tips on Global News in my role as Education Consultant at Kumon Canada.

Click on the photo to watch the segment:

There’s been a lot of research done on the summer slide, also known as summer learning loss, but most educators agree that taking 2 months off without any math or reading instruction, is not a good idea. Over the summer break, children can forgot a lot of what they’ve learned and they may struggle to keep up when school starts in September. Whereas children, who’ve practised their skills and maybe learned some new concepts, feel confident and ready for their new school year. So it’s a good idea to keep learning during the summer vacation.

To get a description of  my tips on Kumon’s website click here:

5 Tips to Avoid the Summer Slide.