Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking and Other Mini Book Reviews

I've been pretty sporadic on my blogging since I found out and moved to Japan. But now that I'm starting to get a routine and rhythm to my day, I'm able to cut out some time to blog again and get a bit more organized. So here are some books I've managed to read over the last couple of months.

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman

I loved this book! It's a happiness book for pessimists, like me :) Burkeman takes us on a journey through ancient ideas and philosophies that are more conducive to finding a fulfilling and meaningful life and thus happier life.

1. Don't try too hard to be happy.

2. Practice the stoic art of imagining worse-case scenarios.

If they do happen you'll find they're never as awful as you imagined.

3. The Buddhist philosophy of non-attachment.

Whether good or bad just let it be, in the moment.

4. Don't get too goal-crazy. You can become consumed with goals.

5. Get rid of our sense of self, our ego. Focusing on others as well as meditation and learn how to watch our thoughts and let them float by.

6. Let go of certainty. Be happy in insecurity.

"Above all, living in a situation of such inherent insecurity, while very far from preferable, was clarifying. Nobody would envy it. But living with fewer illusions meant facing reality head on." Realize change is constant and to embrace it.

7. Failure is always an option.

8. Death

"...imagine you are eighty years old...and then complete the sentences 'I wish I'd spent more time one...' and 'I wish I'd spent less time on...'This turns out to be a surprisingly effective way to achieve mortality awareness in short order."

Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising (2 & 3 Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo

I read the first one last Fall and read the last two in a matter of a week. Fantastic young adult fantasy series. Layers, characters and world, have them in abundance. Strong female protagonist and actual love triangles with meat to them. She had me rooting for all the guys. I was kind of hoping she'd have her way with them all! Ha! Highly recommended :)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I read this one back junior high. I thought it was time for a re-read with the movies almost all out. It was great to come back to it. I had forgotten what a strong character Bilbo truly is. He really takes charge in the end with the dwarves. It's still one of the best fantasy series ever.

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

It's a cute and fun juvenile fantasy series. A bit simplistic but still a solid series. I will read the next one.

Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

He's a great writer. He takes us on his journey studying up and training for the memory competition. He tells us what he's learned about memory and how we can improve to. Memory palaces are real. But it takes time and effort to creat them. Not for me. But good to know. Fascinating read.

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Fascinating fantasy series! The art of paper folding turned into magic. I loved the idea. It was a fast read. It was fun. Strong female character. The details were a but under-developed but overall a great start to a series.

Pines by Blake Crouch

This was one of the best thrillers I've read since "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn. What the hell is going on? I was anxious and curious and disturbed and on the edge of my seat the whole book. I neglected my son....child? What child? Fascinating mystery-thriller.

*All images were taken from Goodreads.com

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Living and Reading in Japan! (2)


This weekly meme has been inspired by Michelle at The True Book Addict and Lisa at Lit and Life--Life: It Goes On...but I wanted to tweak it a bit for myself since I am living in Japan for the next 2 years (2014-2016).

I spent the last couple of weeks getting over a nasty sinus infection. I spent my days watching "Burn Notice" reruns! Doesn't get better than that...

Books I'm Reading:

  1. Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz
  2. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  3. The Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman
Books Finished:

  1. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo.
  2. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo.
Looking Forward To:

We're heading to the transportation museum tomorrow! It should be fun. Gabe gets a break soon so we can do some fun stuff. And Halloween is around the corner :)


I have made snickerdoodles. It was tough. I'm still trying to figure out how to use the oven part of the microwave oven. The thing preheats and then halfway through baking my cookies it turns off. I had to keep resetting it and hope the cookies didn't get too burned or too doughy. They turned out OK but it was a lot more difficult than I was expecting. So I'll be doing more experimenting and hopefully I can make pumpkin bread soon. I was sent cans of pumpkin and found an international store that sold me the spices I needed. So here's hoping!


Lots of new shows this Fall. I watched "How to Get Away With Murder" with Viola Davis. It's got promise but still unsure. Ms. Davis is excellent as always. I'll be interested in seeing if the characters get a bit more layered. Never judge a show by its pilot!

Things I Did This Week in Japan:

We visited the mall last weekend to get Gabe some new Fall and Winter clothes. We didn't bring any with us and it's starting to get cooler here.

I made coffee from my friend's special blend she made just for me!

We visited the Hiroshima City Park last weekend with the PTA. We had so much fun. It's a beautiful park. So much to do: hiking, large playgrounds for the kids, trees, a bug observatory, a train and beautiful views. We'll be going back to fit it all in.

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Shaun the Sheep!
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My friend back home roasts her own coffee beans and made this blend up special for me! Loved it!

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Actual bridge. Very Scary...
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Traveling up the mountain on a train!

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Hot food vending machines!

Grateful For:

Family and friends who keep me sane and send me packages :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Living and Reading in Japan (1)


This weekly meme has been inspired by Michelle at The True Book Addict and Lisa at Lit and Life--Life: It Goes On...but I wanted to tweak it a bit for myself since I am living in Japan for the next 2 years (2014-2016).

I'm rebooting....I haven't done my own meme for awhile. I thought it would be nice to spice it up and mix it in while living in Japan. Gabe is now in all-day Kindergarten at an International School. I now have more time to myself and I'm enjoying the freedom, though I do miss him during the day. I'm taking a couple of online classes. I have virtual and real stacks of books to read. I have a whole city to explore, a new language to study, and lots of blogging to do! I try to keep myself busy :)

Books I'm Reading:

  1. Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz
  2. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  3. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Books Finished:

  1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
  2. Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore.
  3. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer.
Looking Forward To:

Cooler weather. Hiroshima is a very hot and humid city during the summer. Though, according to the locals, this has been a very cool summer here! Yikes! We seem to pick the hottest days to go out and see the sights, I guess....I hear autumn is so beautiful here. They have trees and trees and more trees. I cannot wait to see the fall colors surround me.

I always make pumpkin bread, chilis and soups, and mulled ciders and wines during the fall but this year will be a bit tougher. Japan does not carry all the items I'm used to. But I am going to find a way ;)


I find ways to get my shows out here that I need...

I've been going through quite the culture shock so I reserve nights for my me time on watching whatever I want. I just finished Haven, An Idiot Abroad, and have a few episodes of Eureka left. I'm also halfway through the new season of Orange is the New Black.

American/English movies come out a lot later in Japan than the rest of the world. And the prices here are very expensive more than double what I'm used to in Utah. So needlesstosay, we do not make it out very often to the movies. But we did make it last week and we saw Malificent. Gabe was too scared so Archie took him out while I finished it. It was a lot better than I was expecting. I thought it was a great twist to the Disney version. I liked a lot better! We've been rewatching a lot of our own movies. Archie and I sit down to a movie at least two or three times a week together. We just finished the Harry Potter series and are now working on the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

Things I Did This Week in Japan:

I'd like to list off some of the amazing things I've seen or that we've done as a family here in Japan.

    Photo Sep 06, 4 43 03 PM
  • Visited bunny island! They have a whole island dedicated to bunnies. They hop around and you can buy feed and veggies from the store before you get on the ferry. Gabe loved it!Photo Sep 06, 4 21 31 PM
  • Went to my first meeting for the Hiroshima International Women's Club. It's a club for women from all over the world who live in and around Hiroshima. Everything is done in English. It was so great to meet a lot of different women and connect. I haven't been able to get out much during the summer with Gabe not being in school. So this was nice.
    Photo Sep 08, 11 52 46 AM
    Ikebana arrangement!
  • At the meeting we learned about the traditional art of flower arranging in Japan called ikebana. Beautiful and fun.
  • I also had the opportunity to help clean up the mud from the landslides that happened here in Hiroshima a few weeks ago. The devastation is terrible and it is nice to give back and do what I can.

Grateful For:

The Japanese people. Everyone here is so nice. They try to make it as easy as possible on foreigners.

I'm also grateful for their easy public transportation. I don't think I'll drive much in Japan since it's just too scary. But I can get around really well on foot, bike, and public transportation.

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So cute! He's such a ham in pictures!
Gabe started all-day kindergarten last week! Sad and great and happy and scared and sad, but mostly happy that he's enjoying it so far!

Japanese Word of the Week:

Ikasu いかす. I learned this in regards to ikebana, but can be used for all things we wish to see like this. It is "bringing out the full potential of the object whether it is material or human." I think it is a beautiful and profound word.