Category Archives: Challenges

#NewYearBooks Final Check-in

Graphic for New Year's Resolution Reading ChallengeHappy February! Did your New Year get off to a good start? What books helped you reflect, re-examine, and resolve your thoughts about 2016?

The New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge started my year with a burst of creativity and compassion — and the combination made me feel contented, much more than I expected. I didn’t complete all of my challenge books, but I’m very happy with where these books took me in January, setting me up for a terrific 2016!

If you read any books in January that helped with your New Year goals, resolutions, and projects, please link their reviews in the link list below for the rest of us to learn from, too. If you participated in the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge and want to wrap-up the event in a post, please link that, too.

Here’s my final progress report:

Karen Armstrong, The Charter for Compassion, TED Prize talk
Notes taken from Karen Armstrong’s TED Prize talk: The Charter for Compassion, delivered in February 2008.

Resolution 1: Kick my addiction to outrage. The book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong really helped here. I quit seeking out things to be outraged about. When I encountered outrageous things, I managed somewhat more grace in handling them so that I didn’t increase my own outrage rendering me ineffective.

I’m looking forward to continuing to improve in this area in 2016. I’ve set up a year-long project called Compassionate Sunday to explore each of the Twelve Steps more deeply — 12 steps, 12 months, 52 weeks of Compassionate Sundays. You’re welcome to join me in small or big ways during that time. Check out the details on my review of the book.

Resolution 2: Write a travel article. The Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George is inspiring. So inspiring that I kept stopping to write so I’m only about half-way through the reading. I bought a copy. The initial exercises, especially, are ones that I expect to repeat over and over again.

Resolution 3: Learn about the e-book business. Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant helped in the best way — I decided that I wasn’t ready for this yet. I have so many ideas and projects (see Big Magic below), that it is truly a blessing when I can let something go. The authors made it clear that this business works for prolific writers. So far, I’ve proven to be prolific in blog posts, journal entries, and Facebook status updates. I’m not at all sure that will translate into e-books. Until I’ve determined that it can, this resolution is on hold and Write. Publish. Repeat. will remain a DNF.

Resolution 4: Be more creative. We had our fifth and final discussion for the Read Along of Big Magic  by Elizabeth Gilbert yesterday about trust and creativity. I confessed to my fear of drowning in my creativity and declared four fiercely creative projects, three of which will make appearances on this blog. Watch for the first later today–if you have ever given a poster session or done a table display for a conference, you can help me!

I wish each of you a wonderful 2016! Thank you for playing along with this year’s New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge.



#NewYearBooks 4th January Report

Graphic for New Year's Resolution Reading ChallengeWhat do you want to accomplish in the New Year? Will reading a book help you reach your goal, keep your resolution, or complete your project? Start the year off right by reading books that support your goals, resolutions, and projects — join the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge!

As we’re nearing the end of January, how are your resolutions faring? Are you off to a good start on your New Year projects? What books have you started to help you reach your goals? Record your progress on your blog and use the link list below. Or, report your progress in the comments on this post so that we can all cheer you along.


I had a minor rebellion to non-fiction this week and dove into a couple of novels. Fortunately, they hit the spot just right (Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton and Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn). Now, I’m afraid that any novel I pick up will weaken that magic, so I’m ready to dive back into my nonfiction picks for the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge.

Resolution 1: Kick my addiction to outrage. I still haven’t reviewed Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong, but I have committed to my idea of Compassionate Sundays beginning in February to explore the 12 steps over 12 months. I even purchased a copy of the book since the library won’t let me keep this copy for a whole year.

Resolution 2: Write a travel article. I’m back to reading sample articles in The Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George, learning about guitar-making in Mexico and rodeo riders in Wyoming.

Resolution 3: Learn about the e-book business. I’ve started Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant as recommended by Heather. These guys are fun to read!

Resolution 4: Be more creative. We had our fourth discussion for the Read Along of Big Magic  by Elizabeth Gilbert yesterday about the role of persistence in creativity. We’ll finish up next Sunday talking about trust. It’s a short book — you can catch up with us if you want to!

What do you want to accomplish in 2016? What books might help? Let me know if you want suggestions — I’ve compiled a few ideas from hosting previous years of the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge.



#NewYearBooks 3rd January Report

Graphic for New Year's Resolution Reading ChallengeWhat do you want to accomplish in the New Year? Will reading a book help you reach your goal, keep your resolution, or complete your project? Start the year off right by reading books that support your goals, resolutions, and projects — join the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge!

We’re just over half-way through January, how are your resolutions faring? Are you off to a good start on your New Year projects? What books have you started to help you reach your goals? Record your progress on your blog and use the link list below. Or, report your progress in the comments on this post so that we can all cheer you along.


I finally feel like I have a real New Year energy pumping through my days — usually that starts about mid-December but, for some reason, it came along a bit late for me this year. I’m pleased that it showed up now because it always gives me such a boost in the cold dark days of winter.

Here’s my progress in the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge:

Resolution 1: Kick my addiction to outrage. I finished Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong and plan to review it this week. I’m thinking of taking a year (12 steps, 12 months) to go through this in more detail, posting every Sunday in an event called Compassionate Sundays. Would that be interesting or helpful to you?

Resolution 2: Write a travel article. I’m still reading, and really enjoying, the sample articles in The Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George. Very inspiring!

Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
A recommended title for learning about the business of e-books.

Resolution 3: Learn about the e-book business supported by one of several titles available at the library. Instead of a library book, I ended up taking a suggestion from Heather last week. I’m reading Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.  Naturally, I bought it as an e-book.

Resolution 4: Be more creative. We had our third discussion for the Read Along of Big Magic  by Elizabeth Gilbert yesterday. How do we give our selves permission to be creative? We’re still only about half-way through, so there’s still time to join us! Next Sunday, we’ll talk about Part IV, Persistence — that’s always a big issue for me!

What do you want to accomplish in 2016? What books might help? Let me know if you want suggestions — I’ve compiled a few ideas from hosting previous years of the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge.



#NewYearBooks 2nd January Report

Graphic for New Year's Resolution Reading ChallengeWhat do you want to accomplish in the New Year? Will reading a book help you reach your goal, keep your resolution, or complete your project? Start the year off right by reading books that support your goals, resolutions, and projects — join the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge!


We’re almost a dozen days into the New Year — how are your resolutions and projects going? What books have you started to help you reach your goals? Record your progress on your blog and use the link list below. Or, report your progress in the comments on this post so that we can all cheer you along.

I already feel like the year is speeding along! Here is my progress on the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge:

Resolution 1: Kick my addiction to outrage. As promised, I finished Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong. I’m still letting myself sit with what happens next. A review doesn’t seem like enough. As I said yesterday, I’m considering a year of Compassionate Sundays to work through this book again slowly. Anyone else interested?

Resolution 2: Write a travel article. I made some progress in The Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George. The sample articles are really interesting and helpful models for any future articles that I might write.

Resolution 3: Learn about the e-book business supported by one of several titles available at the library. I still haven’t tracked down the list of books that I know I made a couple of months ago. Oh well, it will turn up.

Resolution 4: Be more creative. I posted my second discussion piece about our Read Along of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, complete with a drawing of my external “genius.” We’re still only 78 pages in to this short book, so there’s plenty of time to join us! Next week, we’re reading and discussing Part III, Permission.

What do you want to accomplish in 2016? What books might help? Let me know if you want suggestions — I’ve compiled a few ideas from hosting previous years of the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge.



#NewYearBooks 1st January Report

Graphic for New Year's Resolution Reading ChallengeWhat do you want to accomplish in the New Year? Will reading a book help you reach your goal, keep your resolution, or complete your project? Start the year off right by reading books that support your goals, resolutions, and projects — join the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge!


We’re almost a dozen days into the New Year — how are your resolutions and projects going? What books have you started to help you reach your goals? Record your progress on your blog and use the link list below. Or, report your progress in the comments on this post so that we can all cheer you along.

Here is my progress:

Resolution 1: Kick my addiction to outrage. I’m still nearly finished with the book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong. I seem to be resistant to getting to the end because then I’ll have to decide what I’m actually going to do about those 12 steps. I’ll finish it this week and give myself permission to make a decision later in the month.

Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Writing by Don George
Great exercises plus samples and advice on the business

Resolution 2: Write a travel article. I’m about a quarter of the way through The Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George — the exercises are very helpful! Another book that I haven’t picked up in the last week. It switches from exercises to examples, now, and I don’t seem to be quite ready for the switch. Maybe if I turn them into exercises it would help:  How could I write an article like this sample article?

Resolution 3: Learn about the e-book business supported by one of several titles available at the library. I still haven’t selected a book. I’ve got a list somewhere. I’ll see if I can find that today. Maybe “Be more organized” should have been one of my resolutions.

Resolution 4: Be more creative. I started our Read Along of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. We’re only 27 pages in, so there’s plenty of time to join us! Next week, we’re reading and discussing Part II, Enchantment.

What do you want to accomplish in 2016? What books might help? Let me know if you want suggestions — I’ve compiled a few ideas from hosting previous years of the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge.



Make a Resolution, Read a Book #NewYearBooks

Graphic for New Year's Resolution Reading ChallengeWhat do you want to accomplish in the New Year? Will reading a book help you reach your goal, keep your resolution, or complete your project? Start the year off right by reading books that support your goals, resolutions, and projects — join the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge!


Announcing the #NewYearBooks Read Along Book

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Join us to read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert to give yourself a creative push at the beginning of 2016. If you loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk (one of the most popular ever) or, more recently, her SuperSoul Session on Oprah, this book will help you explore her generous and inspiring take on creativity in more depth.

It’s a short book and we’ll take five weeks to read it, so not a great commitment for a big bang in creativeness. Let me know if you would like me to email weekly discussion questions to help you engage more strongly with the book.

Here are the discussion dates and sections of the book:

  • January 4. Part 1, Courage.
  • January 11. Part II, Enchantment.
  • January 18, Part III, Permission.
  • January 25. Part IV. Persistence.
  • February 1. Parts V and VI, Trust and Divinity.

The #NewYearBooks Reading Challenge

Have you started reading any books to support your resolutions? Record your progress on your blog and use the link list below. Or, report your progress in the comments on this post so that we can all cheer you along.

Here is my progress:

Resolution 1: Kick my addiction to outrage. I’ve nearly finished the book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong.

Resolution 2: Write a travel article. I’m about a quarter of the way through The Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George — the exercises are very helpful!

Resolution 3: Learn about the e-book business supported by one of several titles available at the library. I still haven’t selected a book.

Resolution 4: Be more creative. I’ll start reading Big Magic this week.

What do you want to accomplish in 2016? What books might help? Let me know if you want suggestions — I’ve compiled a few ideas from hosting previous years of the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge.



My New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge #NewYearBooks

Graphic for New Year's Resolution Reading ChallengeSigning up for my own challenge! If you think a book will help you get a good start on your New Year goals, resolutions, or projects, check out the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge.

I’m signing up at the Passionate level of four books to support my resolutions.

Resolution 1: Kick my addiction to outrage, supported by Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong

Resolution 2: Write a travel article, supported by The Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing by Don George

Resolution 3: Learn about the e-book business supported by one of several titles available at the library.

Resolution 4: ? supported by the book we choose for the #NewYearBooks Read-Along.

What do you want to accomplish in 2016? What books might help? Let me know if you want suggestions — I’ve compiled a few ideas from hosting previous years of the New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge.

New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge #NewYearBooks

Graphic for New Year's Resolution Reading ChallengeWhat do you want to accomplish in the New Year? Will reading a book help you reach your goal, keep your resolution, or complete your project? Start the year off right by reading books that support your goals, resolutions, and projects.


The #NewYearBooks 6-Week Reading Challenge

Whether you want to write a memoir, wage a campaign, or wake up your creativity, there are books to aid you in your quest. The New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge is to read one to four books that will stimulate action on your goals. Here are the levels:

Resolved: 1 book
Determined: 2 books
Committed: 3 books
Passionate: 4 books

The books can all support the same resolution — you could read four books on time management, for example. Or, read four books to help with four different projects — one book on spirituality, one book on keeping a budget, one book on photography, and one book on vegetable gardening (on your way to becoming an enlightened, thrifty, photographer with fresh produce).

The New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge is a short event, running to the end of January (about six weeks) as we end 2015 and start 2016.

We will have a link-up every Monday from now through February 1st to share our book reviews, list posts, and early progress on our 2016 goals.

The #NewYearBooks Read-Along

In conjunction with the Reading Challenge, we’ll also do a Read-Along of a book that has wide appeal for improving lives. Here are some ideas:

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong

Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power by Dan Hurley

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin

The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control by Walter Mischel

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink

The Thinker’s Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving by Morgan D. Jones

SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient–Powered by the Science of Games by Jane McGonigal

The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life by Bernard Roth

The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry

Are any of these books on your TBR? Or, do those titles remind you of books that you would like to read?

The link-up below is for sign-up posts for the Reading Challenge, the Read-Along, or both. Sign-up posts are a great way to introduce #NewYearBooks to other readers and to declare what books you’ll be reading to support your resolutions, goals, and projects in 2015.



#NewYearBooks Wrap-up Day #SundaySalon

Graphic for New Year's Resolution Reading ChallengeGood morning, one and all — and especially the Sunday Salon and New Year’s Resolution Challenge participants. Welcome to the final link-up for the 2015 New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge. Link your progress reports and book reviews or play along in the comments. How are your New Year’s resolutions going, one month into 2015?

Besides this link-up post, we’re also celebrating the end of the challenge and the beginning of a new month with a Twitter chat tonight. Check out all the details in this post, especially the giveaways!

The goal I set for my New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge was four books to support three resolutions. And, I met it!

Blueprint for Your Castle in the Clouds by Barbara Sophia Tammes
I love the castle in the clouds in the metaphor and the subtitle

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield was a book about combating resistance. It’s especially good for writers and other creative types, but helpful for any goal that generates resistance including ones related to health and social change. This was our Read Along book and we rounded out our discussion yesterday with talk of muses, territories, and putting in the work. I intended this book to support all three of my resolutions and it has been very helpful.

A Blueprint for Your Castle in the CloudsMake the Inside of Your Head Your Favorite Place to Be by Barbara Sophia Tammes did the trick to help my meet my resolution to Improve my Mood. I’m also sleeping better! When I can’t sleep, I go to my Castle in the Clouds instead of fretting about things.

A Short Guide to a Long Life by David B. Agus helped with my resolution to Live Healthier. But I know I’ll need more help with that resolution, so I’ll continue reading books to support my healthy lifestyle as part of the Healthy Lifestyle Books Reading Challenge.

Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stanier helped me with my resolution to Write the Darn Book! Well, it helped a little. It turned out it was more for people who haven’t figured out that the darn book is there Great Work Project.

What books have you read so far in 2015 that are helping with your New Year goals, resolutions, and projects?

Hope to see you at the #NewYearBooks Twitter chat tonight at 9PM Eastern / 8 Central / 7 Mountain / 6 Pacific / 5 Alaskan / 4 Hawaiian.



Live Healthier Resolution #NewYearBooks #SundaySalon

Graphic for New Year's Resolution Reading ChallengeGood morning, one and all — and especially the Sunday Salon and New Year’s Resolution Challenge participants.

We’re into the last week of January — how are your New Year’s Resolutions going? This is our second-to-last link-up for the New Year’s Resolution Challenge. There are more details at the sign-up post. Or, you can just jump right in here. The link-up below is for progress reports, book reviews, and your best suggestions of books that support common New Year’s Resolutions. Or, you can play along in the comments.

I completed the book I wanted to read for my Live Healthier resolution. I’ll link to the review of A Short Guide to a Long Life by David B. Agus below. From the perspective of my resolution, the book assured me that when I’m at the top of my game I’m doing pretty well — which is motivating. I’ve been motivated with New Year energy this month, so I’ve been at the top of my game. Now, I just need to keep it up!

Thinfluence by Walter WillettFor me, I know from experience that motivation isn’t enough. I need structure. That’s why I set up the Healthy Lifestyle Books Reading Challenge of 2015, so that I’ll keep reading books like this for the whole year. My next pick will directly help me build structure to sustain my healthy life choices — Thinfluence by Walter Willett, Malissa Wood, and Dan Childs. On the cover, thinfluence is defined as “the powerful and surprising effect friends, family, work, and environment have on weight.” Walter Willett is one of my heroes in the weight loss world for consistently looking at the scientific research and pulling out what has been proven to work and what hasn’t. He’s a voice for reason in the face of whatever the latest diet trend is.

So, I have two books left to meet my New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge. Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stanier proved to be a workbook, which is a bit more effort than just reading. I’m getting some good results, so I’ll keep plugging along with it.

My last book is our Read Along book for the New Year, The War of Art. It’s a short book — you could still catch up if you want to join us for the last discussion. Let me know if you want to participate. I’ll send out discussion questions on Wednesday in advance of our final discussion post on Saturday.

A Twitter Chat. Next Sunday, we’ll chat about The War of Art, creativity, and our New Year goals in a Twitter Chat. Join us on February 1 at 9PM Eastern / 8 Central / 7 Mountain / 6 Pacific / 5 Alaskan / 4 Hawaiian. It will be a great way to start the second month of 2015 energized to continue making it a great year.

In order to spread the word more widely about the Read Along, the Healthy Lifestyle Books Reading Challenge, and the Twitter chat, I’m linking this post to two Sunday link-ups. Check out Small Victories Sunday at Mom’s Small Victories for posts about living well. The Spread the Love Linky Party collects bookish posts.