Finding My Zen Through Reading

Lately, I have struggled to find time for training. Between the closing of my daycare, work, and packing for an eventual move to a new house, I have had very little time for myself. In fact, much of my free time has been spent KonMori’ing my current home in preparation for the move. Let me tell you, that is no easy task while also holding down a full-time job, teaching classes at night, and parenting. Since I had to eliminate something from my schedule, the unfortunate, but the obvious choice was my time spent training. It was taking me away from the home and my family too much. I’m not quitting altogether, just for the time being until we get into the new house and I can get back to my normal routine.

As a result, I have lost my main source of relaxation. Training had become, just as much as preparing for an upcoming race, a way to find my zen. I found solace in my training, comfort, joy, and calm. Without as much of it, I feel like a big ball of stress. I had to find a new way to relax. So, I turned to my first love…books.

As long as I can remember, I have always been enthralled with books. I love the smell and feel of the pages as I turn them. I love picturing the details of what I read in my head, like my own private movie. I love the way reading has always calmed me and lulled me to sleep at night as I lie in my bed. My favorite dates were always the ones where my now husband and I would end up at a Barnes and Noble, each of us in different sections of the store perusing the aisles for a new book or two or three or twenty! To this day, Barnes and Noble is still my favorite date destination.

I get my love of reading from my mother, though we are vastly different in our genres of choice. She can devour a romance novel in a matter of hours, whereas I am more drawn to a more diverse range of subjects…memoirs, gender/race relations, murder mysteries, Disney remakes.

This summer alone, I have visited eight different worlds simply through reading. I watch my social media accounts for posts from friends regarding a book they just read, and I have several screenshots of said books to remind me to purchase them. I have yet been able to get on board with the new fangled digital books or audibles. I’m a book nerd, and just simply holding a book in my hands brings me much joy.

Titles that have been on my nightstand this summer include:
As Old as Time: A Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh
Mary Poppins by PL Travers
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski

As evidence in the titles, I am extremely eclectic in my choice of books. Although my choice to read Mary Poppins was more because it had dawned on me after watching Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks that I had yet to actually read Mary Poppins, despite my love of the movie version. So I invested a matter of three days devouring the book and realizing the movie is so much better in my opinion. Talking as Fast as I Can was simply because of my love for Gilmore Girls. Most will not be interested in reading how Lauren Graham cultivated her career of acting, but any native to the Baton Rouge area must read M.O. Walsh’s My Sunshine Away. A native to Baton Rouge, Walsh takes his reader into 1980s Baton Rouge, describing areas we all know and love, in the midst of a crime mystery. From discussions with someone who grew up next door to Walsh, the story of a young girl’s rape, and who committed it is totally fictional, but given the relational closeness of the scenes of the book, I found myself enthralled. My Sunshine Away is a fast read, and one I highly recommend.

Next on my highly recommended book list is Becoming. Despite one’s political feels regarding the Obamas, this book is absolutely amazing! First Lady Obama takes you through what it is like to be in the gaze of the public eye as not only the first lady, but as a mother, a wife, a black woman, all while trying to hold on to just a sliver of one’s self. This book fed my need for race and gender studies theory and reminded me of my love for discussing such topics. Highly
intelligent, extremely emotional, this Former First Lady takes her readers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions while also inspiring women to strive for more because you are good enough.

As a Disney freak, my curiosity got the best of me when I saw As Old as Time sitting on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. Braswell’s take on the beloved tale of Beauty and the Beast leaves one wanting. Although I found her interpretation on the original tale interesting, I found that I was disappointed in the ending. If you are expecting the same fairy tale ending, don’t. I still recommend the read for Disney lovers, but I hate to say I was disappointed.

Lastly, on my highly recommended summer reading list is Berlinski’s Peacekeeping. This book was a bit longer of a read for me. Not being well versed in French or Creole, I found myself having to look up several phrases so that the words were not lost on me! But this didn’t stop me. Berlinski intertwines fiction with reality by taking real life events from Haiti and creating a political story that’s not only entertaining but also thought provoking. I was left wanting to learn more about Haiti and the political instability of a beautiful but extremely poverty ridden country.

I may not be able to train as much as I had hoped when I first started this blogging journey, but I’m finding that I can still find my zen through other activities. What matters is taking the time to commit to your mental zen. Otherwise, the parental burnout gets the best of you, and that’s not healthy at all. Hopefully, by sharing my favorite reads, I can help one of my readers find some healthy zen as well. Healthy reading!

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09 Jul 2019

By Kelly Carmena

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