The End is Where We Begin

If the past three years of self-employment have taught me anything, it’s that Entrepreneurship is less like a straight path, and more like a wild roller coaster, with its ups and downs, twists & turns.

Farewells & New Beginnings | A Daily Rhythm

I’ve done this, and tried that, tested this, and tweaked that. I’ve gone one way, then turned around and gone in an entirely different direction.

Through it all, I’ve been doing the one thing that (IMHO) is most important for an entrepreneur (or anyone): I’ve been learning; discovering what works, and what doesn’t work, for me, personally.

Sure, maybe some people are tired of taking the (twisted) journey with me… maybe they are thinking, “Would you just PICK SOMETHING already?!” And, that’s okay, because this is my journey. And no, I will not settle for just anything (#sorrynotsorry). I will keep searching until I know, in the depths of my being, that I’ve found what I was put on this earth to do. To those who are willing to stick by me through it all, thank you! I appreciate your patience and support. To everyone else, I wish you well in wherever life takes you. Genuinely, I do. ♥

I have done a lot of soul-searching, testing, tweaking, surveying, and research in the past three years. And, with all of this crazy pursuit, I eventually burned out. I recently found myself utterly exhausted and discouraged, and decided I needed a “time out” — to just step away from the “business” side of things, and give my brain a chance to relax.

Of course, being a dreamer and visionary means my brain never truly stops! LOL

So, I took to my journal to write out all of my frustrations with –as yet– not being able to figure out what I should be doing for my “work”. And, as is so often the case when I journal, I happened upon an insight that renewed my hope. And it all started with the little phrase, “What if..?”

All-of-a-sudden, what had been hiding (in plain sight, no less!) was blatantly obvious. And the fire in me was re-lit.

However, my past three years of trial and error made me cautious, this time. I didn’t want to rush into anything, “just in case” this turned out to be another rabbit trail.

And yet, I have found more to share regarding this new path than any of my other 3 attempts combined! I really do believe that the puzzle pieces are finally starting to fit together, and giving me a clearer picture of what my purpose is supposed to look like.

A quick note on the “why” behind these changes…

To me, the (blog) name “A Daily Rhythm” has always felt slow & steady… like it was about daily practices – “rhythms” – and routines. As such, every time I tried to figure out how to mesh my “ideal” target audience, plus my passionate message, together with my “A Daily Rhythm” site (ADR), I would get frustrated; my “ideals” and the feeling that this site’s name conveyed were at odds.

My true message is far more lively & upbeat than the name “A Daily Rhythm” can handle! Therefore, I decided to completely start over, and choose a new name that fits with the vibe I’m going for.

So, without further ado, I invite you to head on over and check out my brand new site:

alifeunleashed.com

I’m still going to be using affiliate links (to Amazon, primarily, and possibly other sites). And yes, I may still — eventually — offer up some eCourses, eBooks, or other info products. However, my main focus with “Life, Unleashed” is primarily to blog or write about my passion for seeing people learn to live free.

Sometimes I’d really like to grab people by the shoulders, shake them, and yell:

WHY ARE YOU CHOOSING TO SETTLE WHEN LIFE HAS
SO MUCH MORE ON OFFER?

 

No, my life isn’t perfect, and it isn’t (yet) where I’d like it to be. But, I am forever in pursuit of better, because I believe God has promised us that! (see John 10:10)

Enough of my ranting, here… Go on over and read more at my new site!

I sincerely hope that you will choose to join my new mailing list (if what I write strikes a chord with you). If not, that’s all right. Either way, here’s to life’s great adventures!

{shout out to TFK for the inspiration for today’s post title!}

REVIEW: “Loving My Actual Life” by Alexandra Kuykendall

Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me by Alexandra Kuykendall

Alexandra did a 9-month experiment to be more intentional with her life, and enjoy the present more. The book is laid out with each chapter focusing on each month of her “experiment”, somewhat in diary format, chronicling what she learned each month, from each specific thing she chose to focus on (one per month).

I loved Alex’s down-to-earth writing style. And she’s obviously a very busy mama of 4! But that makes her all the more relatable.

Definitely recommend this one.

…………………………………………

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Why I Changed My Mind About Getting a FitBit

So, I’ve been saving up money for three months, and was really excited to finally be able to buy a FitBit step-tracker, this coming Friday! But, last night, an article came up in my Facebook news feed about why the FitBit, and other trackers, are “bad”.

Why I Changed My Mind About Getting a FitBit | A Daily Rhythm

 

The article’s reasoning was that we have become a society/culture that “worships” health and fitness — we are always focused on trying to meet some cultural standard, or a “health” goal. We are never content to just eat wholesome food, and make sure that we move in a way that feels fun to us.

The article ended by saying that we should ask ourselves WHY we really want to track things health-related (like the number of steps we’ve taken — or the number of calories eaten), and also what we intend to do with that information, once we have it.

For me, I genuinely do want to make myself move more. I sit far too much, and I know that that’s not good for me. The reason I wanted to get the FitBit is because I figured it would challenge me to want to move more.

And yet… I know myself and my own patterns. I know that, more than likely, what would happen is that I would buy the gadget, use it, and be excited about it, and love the challenge — for about 2-3 weeks. Then — just like with everything else — the “fun” and novelty would wear off, and it would be just another “obligation”. And, this Rebel (me) does NOT do well with any form of obligation! As such, the $130 spent on this “toy” would eventually go to waste.

As the article stated, I would be much better off following my own intuition, doing what feels right for me, eating less and moving more, and doing so naturally — not because some device is dictating that I “need” to do this or that. Gradually, I’d end up working my way toward an overall healthier lifestyle… no devices required.

So, yeah — I don’t think I’m going to buy a FitBit after all. Instead, I’ll use the money I’m saving to …hmm… buy some new books, perhaps? 😉

“Level Up Your Life” by Steve Kamb – A Review

Level Up Your Life: How to Unlock Adventure and Happiness by Becoming the Hero of Your Own Story by Steve Kamb

 

DESCRIPTION:
For the past 5 years, Steve Kamb has transformed himself from wanna-be daydreamer into a real-life superhero and actually turned his life into a gigantic video game: flying stunt planes in New Zealand, gambling in a tuxedo at the Casino de Monte-Carlo, and even finding Nemo on the Great Barrier Reef. To help him accomplish all of these goals, he built a system that allowed him to complete quests, take on boss battles, earn experience points, and literally level up his life.

If you have always dreamed of adventure and growth but can’t seem to leave your hobbit-hole, Steve’s book, Level Up Your Life, is for you. He will teach you exactly how to use your favorite video games, books, and movies as inspiration for adventure rather than an escape from the grind of everyday life. Hundreds of thousands of everyday Joes and Jills have joined Steve’s Rebellion through his popular website, NerdFitness.com, and leveled up their lives–losing weight, getting stronger, and living better.

In Level Up Your Life, you’ll meet more than a dozen of these members of The Rebellion: men and women, young and old, single and married, from all walks of life who have created superhero versions of themselves to live adventurously and happily. Within this guide, you’ll follow in their footsteps and learn exactly how to:

• Create your own “Alter Ego” with real-life super powers
• Build your own Epic Quest List, broken into categories and difficulty levels
• Hack your productivity habits to start making progress
• Train your body for any adventure
• Build in rewards and accountability that will actually motivate you to succeed
• Travel the world freely (and cheaply)
• Recruit the right allies to your side and find powerful mentors for guidance

Adventure is out there, and the world needs more heroes. Will you heed the call?

I really enjoyed this book! I think part of this is because I can totally identify with the concept of “The Rebellion“. As Steve put it in the book, “opting out of the mundane“… and yes, this is sooooo something that resonates with me!

I also truly love the concept of personal gamification … turning everyday life into a “game”… making it fun! Because, Steve is right: too often we take life far too seriously. Play is a necessary ingredient for a fulfilling life — even (especially!) for adults!

In researching more about personal gamification, I also came across Louise’s site, “My Epic Life“. Louise goes into more detail about what it’s like to turn your life into a game. I found her “manifesto” to be most helpful!

I’m actually really excited to create my “alter ego” (character), and to decide which “quests” I’ll complete in order to “level up” my life. You’ll probably hear more about this from me, in the months to come. 😉

I definitely recommend this book, especially if you love the idea of making life more fun!

A Quick Note on Creativity

When it comes to creativity — to being creative — so many people are unsure of where to start. They look at others’ work, and it paralyzes them.

A Quick Note on Creativity | A Daily Rhythm

Comparison is the thief of joy!” You need to stop worrying about whether or not your work will be “gorgeous” or “good enough”, or as “good as” so-and-so’s. Just start!

Only by starting can you find your own style, and gain the confidence to keep going. Art isn’t about doing things “perfectly”. It’s about creating … playing … putting YOUR unique spin on things!

And that is enough.

SPOTLIGHT: Debt-Proof Your Marriage by Mary Hunt

Debt-Proof Your Marriage: How to Manage Your Money Together by Mary Hunt

Pages: 304
ISBN: 0800726839
Publisher: Revell
Pub. Date: January 5, 2016

ABOUT THE BOOK

While financial disharmony can blow a marriage apart, financial harmony can bind it together. In this highly practical book, Mary Hunt helps couples bring the principles of intimacy-the foundation for harmony and debt-free living-into management of their money. These principles include acceptance, freedom, safety, and honesty in money matters, creating an atmosphere that unifies two lives into one.

Debt-Proof Your Marriage is packed with real-life advice that infuses readers with hope and direction. It covers everything couples need for managing their money in harmony, including how to:

  • reconcile different money behaviors and beliefs
  • let go of financial fears
  • understand the basics of practical money management
  • share financial work between two people
  • manage roller coaster income
  • successfully live debt-free

Hunt’s essential guide will help couples protect both their marriage and their money. With the interactive workbook, it’s ideal for small group study or pre-marital counseling as well.

————————————

A complimentary copy of this book was sent to me for review by Graf-Martin Communications. Book is available from Revell, a division of Baker Books.

SPOTLIGHT: Midnight in St. Petersburg by Vanora Bennett

Midnight in St. Petersburg: A Novel by Vanora Bennett

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (January 19, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250079438

DESCRIPTION:

Faberge jewels, the mysterious Rasputin, and a priceless violin: Each plays a part in one young woman’s fight for survival, and for love, in revolutionary Russia.

St. Petersburg, 1911. Inna Feldman has fled the pogroms of the south to take refuge with distant relatives in Russia’s capital. Welcomed by the flamboyant Leman family, she is apprenticed into their violin-making workshop. She feels instantly at home in their bohemian circle, but revolution is in the air, and as society begins to fracture, she is forced to choose between her heart and her head.

She loves her brooding cousin, Yasha, but he is wild, destructive, and devoted to revolution. Horace Wallick, an Englishman who makes precious Faberge creations, is older and promises security and respectability. And, like many others, she is drawn to the mysterious, charismatic figure beginning to make a name for himself in the city: Rasputin.

As the rebellion descends into anarchy and bloodshed, a commission to repair a priceless Stadivarius violin offers Inna a means of escape. But what man will she choose to take with her? And is it already too late?

A magical and passionate story steeped in history and intrigue, Vanora Bennett’s Midnight in St. Petersburg is an extraordinary novel of music, politics, and the toll that revolution exacts on the human heart.

=====================================

A complimentary copy of this book was sent to me for review by St. Martin’s Press. My review will be up at a later date

Live Loved: An Adult Coloring Book by Margaret Feinberg (My Review)

Live Loved: An Adult Coloring Book by Margaret Feinberg

Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (November 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 076421862X
Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.4 x 0.3 inches

I have really grown to love adult coloring books. I have several now, and find that taking the time to just sit and color (usually, I put my headphones on and listen to music, at the same time) is really relaxing for me. It’s a great way to keep my creativity alive, and to get back in touch with my sense of “play” (which, I believe, we ALL should do!)

I love this coloring book, in particular, because it’s a faith-based one! Each spread has a page with a Scripture verse, and journaling space to write out prayers (or, whatever), and a coloring page featuring that same Scripture verse. Here’s a sneak peak from inside:

coloringbook-ADailyRhythm

(this is my own coloring of the first page) 😉

coloring pages from "Live Loved" by Margaret Feinberg

{souce: ChristianBook.com}

I actually ended up gifting this coloring book to my mom for Christmas, as I had enough other coloring books, and I knew she’d get more use out of this one. Either way, I think it’s a great book, and I do highly recommend it.

===========================================

A complimentary copy of this book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Paid Book Reviews and Blogging: Choices

I read a really interesting article, the other day, about the debate over whether or not blogger-reviewers should be paid for the book reviews they provide. Apparently, there’s quite the divide on this topic!

PaidBookReviews + Blogging | A Daily Rhythm

As my blog is now my business as well, I obviously am primed to think about ways to make money doing what I do (that’s not my sole purpose, obviously, but it certainly accounts for part of things, nowadays). And of course, I have been an independent book reviewer since 2005, so the thought has crossed my mind, occasionally, over the years: “Wouldn’t it be great to be paid to do this?” Yes, I’m “paid” in free books, right now — and I’m certainly not complaining about that! I’ve loved it, as –without this opportunity– I wouldn’t have had access to near the same amount of books! Our family funds have never been more than “barely scraping by”, so the book budget has been next to non-existent.

However, I think there comes a point where it starts to weigh on you that you’re doing all of this “work” for free. Some of the points in the article and its comments were that, even though companies don’t think twice, in other industries, about paying the people they get to do their marketing and promotion for them, for some reason, in the book reviewing world, there’s this expectation that it should be done for free (and, if bloggers “dare” to charge for their services, publishers will just go elsewhere, and other bloggers will look down on you for “selling out”).

Mind you, all of that said, I’m not considering doing reviews for money. Not at the moment, anyway. I just wanted to bring this discussion to light, as it has brought me to a conclusion I think I’d already been working my way toward … giving up reviewing (at least for a while).

reading | A Daily RhythmSince starting to work for myself three years ago, I’ve not had the same amount of time to read as I used to (back when I started reviewing, I was a stay-at-home-mom, with no job). Case in point, my total read in 2012 was 80 books … my total books read this year? Only 14. I know, right? 😦

More often than not, any more, I find myself either overwhelmed because I requested more books than I realistically had time to read, OR I just feel resentful of the review books I’ve asked for as they’re keeping me from reading my other (non-review) books, or library books that catch my attention.

Side note: This is why you saw a bunch of “spotlight” posts, the other day… I wanted to “clear my plate”, so-to-speak of all of the review books I’m behind on by –at the very least– spotlighting them, and giving you guys a heads-up about them. My hope is to start the new year fresh. And, like I said, I’m not sure I’m going to do any reviewing in 2016. If I do, it’ll be very, very sporadic … maybe 2-3 for the whole year (if I can discipline myself enough to not request any! LOL)

My true desire is to start reading from my own stash of books, and finally get around to some that I’ve purchased, recently, and not had time for. AND, in getting to those books, I would really like to do a new feature called “Read & Respond“, where I’ll talk about my thoughts on the books I’m currently reading, and look to start discussions about those topics. I’ve got some great books lined up, too! I can’t wait to share them!

books-from-Chapters | A Daily Rhythm

<– {these are just a few … I’ve got another big pile waiting for me!}

I also need to do more writing on my blog in 2016. Thus far, it’s been mainly my memes. And while those are fun — and I know you guys love them (don’t worry — the majority are staying!)– I have other things I’d like to share with you here, as well… things like how-to’s on blogging and writing and small business, and –like I mentioned– I want to do a regular “read & respond” type of thing. Lots of plans in the works!

Speaking of plans and of writing, I also hope to have my email newsletter up in the new year! I know it’s been a long time in coming… I’m sorry. But I’m getting there, finally. My new mailing list is up (yay!), and the next step will be to get that newsletter out. Well, I’m hoping to get my branding stuff settled first, and then I’ll get the newsletter out … hence why it’s not starting right away. Once it does go out, though, you can expect a once-a-month letter from me (if you’re signed up for my list), and it will include exclusive content that you won’t find here on the blog, plus contests and other goodies. So, if you haven’t signed up for the list yet (you’ll have to sign up, again, as it won’t be coming through the plain WordPress follower feed), I encourage you to do so. Right now, what you’ll get when you sign up is just my feed of the posts I publish here. The bonus, though, is that you can choose what you see! 😉

So, that’s what’s going on ’round here, at this time… I know some of you have had some trouble with my new layout, and I do apologize… but I hope the screenshot I shared will clear things up. Personally, I’m liking the cleaner, more simplistic feel of this template than what came with the old one. So I hope you’ll bear with me through the changes.

Thanks so much for being loyal readers! I pray you’ll all have a safe & blessed Christmas season in the coming weeks.

“Curious Faith” by Logan Wolfram (Spotlight)

Curious Faith: Rediscovering Hope in the God of Possibility by Logan Wolfram*

 

DESCRIPTION {from GoodReads.com}:

We are born with an innate curiosity to explore, marvel, and believe there is more to life. But, laundry piles up. Bills pile up. Ultimately, life piles up. We can doubt God’s goodness and the everyday becomes marked by restraint, limits, and settling for the routine. Hardship extinguishes our hope and we exchange curiosity for control.

Curious Faith is about rescuing the now.

It’s about exploring possibility with a God who is unlimited, unpredictable, and ever-loving. In these pages, Logan Wolfram invites you to overcome feelings and outside circumstances that inhibit growth and rob you of hope. Pursue curiosity to enjoy the wonder of an open-handed life.

Cultivate curiosity. Reignite your faith.

Discover God’s goodness to fully experience your life again.

**Included 8-session small-group study and discussion guide.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, as I am on the Launch Team for the book (my review will be up at a later date).


“The Violinist of Venice” by Alyssa Palombo (Spotlight)

The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa Palombo*

 

DESCRIPTION {from GoodReads.com}:

A sweeping historical novel of composer and priest Antonio Vivaldi, a secret wealthy mistress, and their passion for music and each other

Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d’Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family’s palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.

Adriana’s father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice’s patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana’s marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana’s own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.

Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana’s life, Alyssa Palombo’s The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends.

Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 15th 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN: 1250071496

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for this spotlight on my blog from St. Martin’s Press.

 


“What Keeps You Up At Night?” by Pete Wilson: A REVIEW

What Keeps You Up at Night?: How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams *
by Pete Wilson

I absolutely love Pete’s writing style. It’s fun, engaging, but wise, too (part of this is probably because I’ve gotten to know Pete’s character from following him on Facebook! LOL).

This book talks about chasing after your God-given dreams – relentlessly – as well as about trusting God to provide guidance, and learning when to let go.

I definitely needed to read this book, right now.


“Waiting On God” by Wayne Stiles: A Review

Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing* by Wayne Stiles

This book is best for anyone who has been waiting on God for something, and anyone who has started to wonder if God is still going to act or if He has forgotten all about them and their situation.

Wayne’s writing style is down-to-earth enough that it doesn’t require a lot of brain power to read this one. Yet, I did find him to be a tad bit “preachy”. Not overly so, though.

Wayne takes the reader through the biblical story of Joseph (the dreamer whose brothers sold him into Egyptian slavery). Through Joseph’s story, we see that God is always in control, despite how things might appear. And we see that God has a plan and a purpose for every single thing that happens in our lives. God can even use our mistakes and turn them into our greatest moments. But we need to learn to trust God, and lean into His timing!

Overall, I did find a lot of great take aways from this book. But the somewhat somber and “preachy” bits were annoying. There is a lot of description of things in this book that didn’t feel necessary — though, perhaps I’m just not the author’s intended audience.

I would recommend this book to those who are tired and weary in having to wait on God. It CAN renew your sense of hope and your faith in God’s timing.

——–
Thank you to Baker Books for providing me a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Slow Reading? A Novel Concept

Since 2002, it was my goal to read 52 books per year (or – preferably – more!). It started as a Yahoo!  book group called “Book-a-Week“… an early version of the yearly reading challenge. And as the years passed and my hunger for reading grew, my yearly totals climbed to the point where I was consistently reading approximately 75 books per year. During that time, it was normal for me to read 4-6 books per month… sometimes as many as 9 or 10 books per month! The key was, though, that I was only working very part-time (maybe 10-20 hours per month ), and my kids were already past the “littles” stage where they needed constant attention. So, reading was all I really did.

slow-reading-ADailyRhythm1

Around 2011, this all started to change. I ended up working full-time, which left me too exhausted to pick up a book after work. As such, my number of books read in a year plummeted. Two years later, I started my first business, and almost all of my time went toward business endeavors — meaning my numbers continued to drop.

Now into August 2015, I’m still self-employed, and I have read a grand total of nine (9) books, so far, this year! SINGLE digits!

totalbooksread-MizB-ADRPart of me has decided that I no longer care about the numbers, though. This year’s goal was merely to enjoy the books I do manage to read, so –by that standard– I’m doing well!

Don’t get me wrong: Enjoyment in my reading has always been a priority! It was never just about how many books I could read in a year. I’ve still managed to discover some amazing authors and books over the past 13 years, too.

Several weeks ago, while reading an advanced reader copy of Emily P. Freeman’s newest book, “Simply Tuesday“*, I came across something that jumped out at me, and made me stop to think — and it’s still on my mind! Emily wrote:

| For the past several months, I’ve been reading… (p.120) |

It seems silly, but this was such a novel concept for me… that you could actually be reading the same book for MONTHS! I don’t know that I’ve ever  devoted that much time to a single book!

But, what if..?

What if I chose to be intentionally s-l-o-w with my reading? To take my time and savor one book?

After years of reading challenges and a focus on numbers, I’m really liking the idea of slow reading. In fact, before I even read this quote from Emily, I’d started buying “chunkier” books (500-600+ pages), perhaps subconsciously hoping to spend more time with the books I choose to read. I guess time will tell whether or not “slow reading” is something I can get into.

I’m curious to know if others do this — if they spend more than a month with one book. Do you? If so, do you do so purposefully? Or, do other things in life dictate the pace of your reading?

If you aren’t a slow reader (yet), would you consider trying it? Why, or why not? What benefits do you think could be found in taking more time with a book?