Join our Book Reading Challenge for May 2018

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”  
~  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Do you love to read?

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. Now, in 2018, with a successful Challenge already completed, we’ve embarked on a new year of reading adventures.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team has nominated Pencils of Promise as the charity we’ll be supporting through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries, that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

It’ never too late to join us! Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!
  6. During the year we will also be holding a Read-A-Thon so that you can get your family, friends and workmates to sponsor you for the books and stories you read or listen to. It will be a great way for you to indulge in some reading for a good cause, and to raise some extra money towards our goal.

Download this: BOOK-TRACKER-3

I’d love you to get your friends involved, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, and at various points before that, we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for May…

This month I’ve enjoyed an excellent book called Dirty Genes by Dr Ben Lynch. It’s a practical and informative book to help you understand how various genes within your body affect your physical health, mental health and personality and what to do when your genes aren’t working well so that you can optimise your health. I know I have a problematic MTHFR gene, and it has been empowering to realise what I can do with diet and stress management to improve my overall health. I highly recommend this book!

I’ve also listened to The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo, narrated by Jeremy Irons. This is an old favourite of mine and while I’ve been unwell it has been such a comfort listening to this classic again.

How about you? What books, stories, articles and audiobooks have you enjoyed in May?

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

 

Join our Book Reading Challenge for April 2018

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”  
~  Marcus Tullius Cicero

Do you love to read?

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. Now, in 2018, with a successful Challenge already completed, it’s time to embark on a new year of reading adventures.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team has decided to nominate Pencils of Promise as the charity we’ll be supporting through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries, that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

Would you like to join us? Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!
  6. During the year we will also be holding a Read-A-Thon so that you can get your family, friends and workmates to sponsor you for the books and stories you read or listen to. It will be a great way for you to indulge in some reading for a good cause, and to raise some extra money towards our goal.

Download this: BOOK-TRACKER-3

I’d love you to get your friends involved, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, and at various points before that, we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for April…

Let’s end the month off with the list of books, stories, articles and audiobooks we’ve already enjoyed in April.

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

 

Join our Book Reading Challenge for March 2018

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”  
~  William Styron, Conversations with William Styron

Do you love to read?

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. Now, in 2018, with a successful Challenge already completed, it’s time to embark on a new year of reading adventures.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team has decided to nominate Pencils of Promise as the charity we’ll be supporting through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries, that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

Would you like to join us? Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!
  6. During the year we will also be holding a Read-A-Thon so that you can get your family, friends and workmates to sponsor you for the books and stories you read or listen to. It will be a great way for you to indulge in some reading for a good cause, and to raise some extra money towards our goal.

Download this: BOOK-TRACKER-3

I’d love you to get your friends involved, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, and at various points before that, we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for March…

Let’s end the month off with the list of books, stories, articles and audiobooks we’ve already enjoyed in March.

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

This is my reading list so far for March:

  • Somebody I Used To Know by Wendy Mitchell. This frank and heartfelt memoir of a woman diagnosed with early onset dementia has been instructive in helping me to understand and better care for Ben’s 92-year-old mum who also has dementia.

It was a busy month looking after family and working on my own book so I didn’t get much reading done. But I dug out four manuscripts that need tidying up and sending off and I read those too. So that’s one book by Wendy and five manuscripts by me. I have also reread my memoir three times!

It will be lovely to hold a published book of my own in my hands one day. ❤

10 Ways To Be Kind to Yourself

There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by myself.  ~ Brian Andreas

Mostly when we think of kindness, we think of how we can act towards others. But today I want to focus on another equally important type of kindness – that which we extend to ourselves.

Too often we forget ourselves in the hurry and bustle of the year, and many sensitive souls get so busy looking after others that they forget to look after themselves at all.

Why not let 2018 be your year of aware self-care?

Here are ten simple acts of kindness you can give as gifts to yourself:

1.  Eat well – a simple, nourishing home-cooked meal eaten slowly and with appreciation – to replenish your body and comfort your soul. If there’s no time for cooking, have some healthy take-out options already thought through so that you don’t succumb to junk. (Pictured below is my Easy Kale and Orange Salad with Miso Dressing)

2.  Say no when you’re too tired.  No-one can run on adrenalin forever.  Honour your feelings and your own needs. Listen to your heart. Let yourself rest.  Replenish those batteries.  * Good advice here:  Are you too nice? 

3. Indulge in some self-maintenance.  Get your hair cut, have a massage, update your wardrobe or make that appointment with the doctor or dentist. For more info try 8 Ingredients for Better Health

4. Move your body! We were designed to move, and exercise is good for the body, mind and spirit. Choose an activity or sport that you enjoy, or simply go for a walk.

5.  Read a book.  Self-help, romance, educational, escapism, fantasy or non-fiction.  Reading is a wonderful way to take some time for yourself, to relax or to give yourself a mental stretching session.

6.  Make time for the things that you enjoy.  Indulge your hobbies, and connect with like-minded people who share your interests.

7.  Spend some real time with people (and creatures) you love!  Friends, family, pets – everyone who loves us and who makes us feel good about ourselves.  Social isolation is an insidious thing – facebook and texting can’t make up for that special energy of meeting up face to face for love, hugs, and laughs.

8.  Spend a little time dreaming…  Dreams aren’t just for kids.  Everybody needs a dream.  Try this great journalling activity: Writing Yourself into a Brighter Future

9.  Hang out in nature.  Spend the day or a week! Feel the sun at your back, the wind in your hair, the rain on your skin. Let nature fill you up and get you grounded again. Read more here: The Healing Power of Nature

10.  Ask for help.  Sometimes we just can’t do it on our own.  And sometimes we just don’t know what to do or where to start. On the days when we’re wrung out and hanging on by our fingernails, there will be someone out there who cares and is in a place where they can extend that guidance and support to you.  Asking for help is one of the greatest acts of kindness we can give ourselves. There’s more on this here: Sometimes your only job is to ask for help

You are worthy, beautiful, and you deserve love and kindness. Most of all, you need it from yourself.  The way we treat ourselves sets the tone in the wider Universe for how we expect to be treated. And our expectations have a way of manifesting…  Choose kindness!

Bless.

Much love, Nicole ♥ xx

Join our Book Reading Challenge for February 2018

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”  
~ Voltaire

Do you love to read?

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. Now, in 2018, with a successful Challenge already completed, it’s time to embark on a new year of reading adventures.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team has decided to nominate Pencils of Promise as the charity we’ll be supporting through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries, that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

Would you like to join us? Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!
  6. During the year we will also be holding a Read-A-Thon so that you can get your family, friends and workmates to sponsor you for the books and stories you read or listen to. It will be a great way for you to indulge in some reading for a good cause, and to raise some extra money towards our goal. Stay tuned for details in a post next week!

Download this: BOOK-TRACKER-3

I’d love you to get your friends involved, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, and at various points before that, we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for February…

Let’s end the month off with the list of books, stories, articles and audiobooks we’ve already enjoyed in February

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

This month has gifted me lots of time sitting in waiting rooms, hospital rooms and doctors’ rooms, so there has been ample opportunity for me to read. This is my reading list so far for February:

  • Silence: In The Age Of Noise by Erling Kagge is only a short book, but profound. Kagge is a Norwegian explorer who once spent fifty days alone in Antartica. He writes about the nature of silence, and how to find it – not just in nature but in our everyday lives, and as a space within ourselves. It has given me much to think about, and it was a work where I needed to read a short grab and then stop to absorb and think about it a little, so that one small book lasted me well. It certainly opened up a quiet space within me.
  • First, We Make The Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wison is an examination of anxiety and depression within our society, as well as a very personal journey through Sarah’s own dance with chronic anxiety. At turns funny, heart-warming and heart-breaking, and always honest and filled with compassion, this book has helped me to understand friends and family better, and to also see patterns of anxiety in myself and how they have created an endless whirlwind of damaging busy-ness in my life from which I am only now recovering. I highly recommend this book if you suffer from anxiety, or love someone who does.
  • Great Vegetarian Dishes by Kurma Dasa – This is an old favourite that I revisited, looking for inspiration to cook a birthday dinner for a friend. Kurma Dasa comes from the Hare Krishna and Vedic traditions with his cooking, and I love his recipes. They are tasty and easy to prepare, and often have a little philosophy sprinkled into the descriptions.
  • I also listened to Mythos by Stephen Fry as an audiobook this month. I immersed myself in a world of Greek myths and loved them all!

Join our Book Reading Challenge for 2018

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 
Nelson Mandela

Do you love to read?

In January of 2017 a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge. It was a fine year of reading, friendship and sharing of our love of stories and all things book-related. Now, in 2018, with a successful Challenge already completed, it’s time to embark on a new year of reading adventures.

This year the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Team has decided to nominate Pencils of Promise as the charity we’ll be supporting through our Book Reading Challenge. Pencils of Promise build schools in the developing world, train teachers, and support kids and communities to be able to access education. In 2018 more than 1 in every ten children around the world is illiterate and in developing countries that figure is 1 in 3. I’m hoping that our loyal blog community can change that, and help provide opportunities for some of those kids to be able to read, write and learn so that their lives can open out in front of them in more meaningful ways.

Would you like to join us? Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book, short story or journal article each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when. It could be an e-book or an audio-book. It can be any kind of book, story or article at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. A comment piece, investigative journalism, or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book, story or article you are currently reading or listening to here or have finished during the month on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest any books, stories, articles or audiobooks that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of resources that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Sign up to become a Team Member of the Cauldrons and Cupcakes Fundraising Team for Pencils of Promise. Here’s the link for you to join.
  4. Download the Book Tracker. Each month write the name of any book/story/article you have read in the corresponding month. It’s fine to add more than one. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read or go directly to Pencils of Promise and make a donation there. It doesn’t have to be much. Whatever you can afford will be great. Here’s the Book Tracker for you to download – just click on this link: BOOK-TRACKER-3. There’s a space for you to write down your reading wish list. Then start filling in the Monthly Tracker when you’ve read your first book.
  5. During the year I will put up a Book Challenge Post on the fourth Saturday of every month so that we can discuss the books and stories we’ve read or listened to, and swap ideas and reviews. I’ll also be asking you to donate the money you set aside from your completed books and stories to Pencils of Promise. When you donate that money is up to you. Just make sure you have registered as a team member first. It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!
  6. During the year we will also be holding a Read-A-Thon so that you can get your family, friends and workmates to sponsor you for the books and stories you read or listen to. It will be a great way for you to indulge in some reading for a good cause, and to raise some extra money towards our goal. Stay tuned for details in a post next week!

Download this: BOOK-TRACKER-3

I’d love you to get your friends involved, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, and at various points before that we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else in the form of a donation to help Pencils of Promise deliver more readers and writers to the world.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge for 2018. Want to join us? Go add your name below, join our Fundraising Team and don’t forget to let us know what books have you been reading or listening to this past month.

And now for January…

Let’s start the year off with the books, stories, articles and audiobooks we’ve already enjoyed in January

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

Final Month of Book Reading Challenge – December 2017

Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
~  Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Hello, Lovelies!

In January a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge.

I wanted our community to find a little time for themselves each month to devote to the simple pleasure of reading or being read to (audiobooks), and then to find a way to pass the gift of reading on to others.

Our Challenge had some very simple steps (and it’s not too late to join us for this last month of 2017):

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when… Or it could be an e-book or an audiobook. It can be any kind of book at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. Or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book you are currently reading here on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest another book that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of books that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Download the Reading Challenge Bingo Sheet. Each month write the name of the book you have read in the corresponding square. If you read two books in one month it’s fine to allocate one to another month. Or add the extra book to your existing month. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read. It could be as little as ten cents per book. Here’s the Bingo Sheet for you to download – just click on this link: Book Reading Challenge Bingo Sheet Then start filling it in when you’ve read your first book.
    book-reading-challenge-bingo-sheet

Our final, most important step is this:

4. In December I am going to ask you to use the money you have saved to buy and donate a book to a charity for a Christmas gift OR donate the money to a literacy project or similar. (Even if you only saved ten cents each month $1 will buy you a decent second-hand book just about anywhere.) It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings.

December is here, and I am now calling upon you to enact the charitable aspect of our Challenge.

This year, not including December which has only just arrived, I have read or listened to 28 books. My reading list does not include all of the blog and facebook posts I have read, the websites I have visited, or the newspapers I have enjoyed over breakfast out at cafes or weekends here on the veranda with a cup of coffee and a beautiful home-cooked breakfast or a pastry treat from the Farmers Markets.

It does not include all of the course material I have read, or the directions and signs I have followed, or the forms I have filled in. It does not include the ingredients lists on the back of packets, the recipes in cookbooks or the directions and warnings I have read on my various medications and treatments.

Truly, as I look back over my year of reading, I am reminded both of what a gift reading is, and what a necessity it is for functioning well in our world. How would I have navigated my life if I had not been able to read?

I’m assuming I’ll easily consume two more books in December so that brings my total to 30 books.

I’ve pledged $10 for each book I have read so that brings my total to $300.

I am donating $200 to the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation  who do important and much needed work in bringing literacy to Australian Aboriginal communities. You can follow the link to find out more about them and their various programs.

I am also pledging $100 to the Saint Veronica Welfare Committee, through whom I already sponsor a number of children in India. I will have them use this money to allocate me another child, and I will then meet this cost every year until the child’s education is completed. It costs just $100 a year to sponsor a child and all money goes to directly to the care of that child. This money pays for their education and helps them to stay in school, which gives them many more opportunities in life. I have been involved with this program for well over a decade, and some of my sponsor children are now at university, studying teaching, engineering and medicine. The gift of literacy has changed their lives and the lives of their families.

What will you do with your donation?

I’d love to hear about it, if you’d like to share your ideas with us.

I also want you to know that this Reading Challenge is a gift to you. To find that time for yourself and indulge in the pleasure and comfort of a book is a very good thing.

If money is tight I have some suggestions for the charitable part of this Challenge:

  • Donate a book to a Christmas Gift Collection Drive. This could be a book you buy (second hand stores often have awesome books at very cheap prices and bookstores and department stores usually have bargain shelves of books being sold at greatly discounted rates) or even one you already own that is in very good condition. Wrap it up in some pretty paper and remember to put a tag on it saying who the gift is suitable for, eg Boy 6-10 or Woman 20+
  • Volunteer an hour of your time to read to someone at a hospital or aged care home, or to help struggling readers at your local school or within your local community such as refugees. Or maybe you know a friend or family member who is at home and unwell. You could read to them.
  • Donate books to your local school or charity
  • Gift books (they can be used) to the local women’s refuge, hospice or hospital
  • Organisations such as the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation will accept a donation online starting at $2. Every little bit helps.

For those of you who have been participating in this challenge I offer you the biggest heartfelt Thank You.

I’ll be running this Challenge again in 2018 so stay tuned for a new post and a new Bingo Sheet in January.

Thank you for practicing kindness to yourself by reading.

Thank you for passing some of that kindness on to someone else.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge.

What books have you been reading or listening to this past month?

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading! Thank you SO much for being a part of this Challenge with me. I’m looking forward to doing it again with you next year.

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

Here’s my Completed Reading List for November:

  • A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal by Jen Waite. This book details the journey of a woman who falls in love with and marries a man who turns out to be nothing like the man he had portrayed himself as. Chilling, informative and fascinating.
  • Get a Literary Agent: The Complete Guide to Securing Representation for Your Work by Chuck Sambuchino. Useful, if you’re in the market for an agent for your work…

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The Stop Go Man

“Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.” 
~  Roy T. Bennett

 

Byron Bay has sunshine and farmers markets and great beaches and heaps of tourists and endless potholes. Our roads are in a constant state of disrepair, and there are always road crews out doing their best to keep them patched.

Wherever there are road crews there are also traffic controllers, or Stop-Go people, as I like to call them. It’s usually the same faces that we see, year in, year out. Byron is a small shire, after all.

Recently we’ve been stopped often just here (see below). The view is fantastic and there’s almost always an ocean breeze, so the long wait is not much of a hardship.

I like to wave at the traffic controllers, and thank them as we drive past. Almost always they smile or wave back, or at least acknowledge me with their eyes. Except this one bloke…

For over five years I could not create any kind of interaction. Every time we encountered him I’d wave and smile. If he saw me he never let on. Somehow that made me even more determined. Whenever I saw him I’d double my efforts. When that didn’t make a difference I began dancing in my seat and doing funky disco moves. I even made up songs for him.

Finally, one very cold morning earlier this year, after years of concerted effort, the traffic controller raised one finger off the Stop-Go sign in what is known in Australia as a one-finger wave. Motorists often do this on country roads as they pass one another, raising just one finger off the steering wheel.

I was beside myself!

‘Have a great day!’ I yelled as we drove past. And of course I waved one more time.

He was in that one spot on the road all week. Every day we’d go past, and each day I’d wave and yell out something positive, and every day he’d raise one finger then go back to being poker-faced.

Then I didn’t see him for months.

Until yesterday. He had his back to us, talking into his two-way radio as we drove up, but as we went past he turned and saw us. He raised one finger at me and smiled. ‘G’day, love,” he grunted, then turned away again before I could react.

Made my day, he did!

Wishing you all a fabulous day too, with waves and kind words and funky disco dancing,

Much love, Nicole  xx

Not my Stop-Go guy, but one just like him!

Update for Our Book Reading Challenge – November 2017

I read like the flame reads the wood.” 
~ Alfred Döblin

Do you love to read?

In January a group of us embarked on the inaugural Cauldrons and Cupcakes Reading Challenge.

As our year comes towards its end we have read some fine books and learned about new reading possibilities from our friends who have posted their own recommendations. My personal reading list is now long enough to get me through until 2020, at least.

It’s still not too late to join us .Let me explain the Challenge to you:

It involves four simple steps:

  1. Read or otherwise consume a book each month. You might borrow a book from the library, or buy one. It might be gifted to you, or it might have been waiting for you in some pile beside the bed since who knows when… Or it could be an e-book or an audiobook. It can be any kind of book at all. A novel, a romance, crime, children’s or young adult’s, a non-fiction book like a memoir or a cookbook or a travel book. It could be a graphic novel. Or even a textbook.
  2. Post the name of the book you are currently reading here on the blog or over on our Cauldrons and Cupcakes Facebook or Instagram page. Feel free to suggest another book that you have already read and enjoyed. That way you’ll be adding to a list of books that we can all dip into and choose from. I love finding new reading recommendations!
  3. Download the Reading Challenge Bingo Sheet. Each month write the name of the book you have read in the corresponding square. If you read two books in one month it’s fine to allocate one to another month. Or add the extra book to your existing month. Then add a small amount of money to a jar for each book you read. It could be as little as ten cents per book. Here’s the Bingo Sheet for you to download – just click on this link: Book Reading Challenge Bingo Sheet Then start filling it in when you’ve read your first book.
    book-reading-challenge-bingo-sheet
  4. In December I am going to ask you to use the money you have saved to buy and donate a book to a charity for a Christmas gift OR donate the money to a literacy project or similar. (Even if you only saved ten cents each month $1 will buy you a decent second-hand book just about anywhere.) It will feel great to help someone else to experience the pleasure and comfort that reading brings. The world needs more readers. If you want to team up for this challenge that’s a great idea too!

For those of you who are already participating, I’d love to hear about your current book recommendations! Pop them in the comments below.

If you haven’t joined us yet, it’s not too late. And I’d love you to get your friends involved too, so please feel free to share this post far and wide.

On the first Saturday of every month, I’ll post an update here on the blog, and ask you what you are reading and if you have any recommendations to share.

All year we will practice kindness to ourselves by reading.

At year’s end, we will pass some of that kindness on to someone else.

So, that’s our Reading Challenge.

What books have you been reading or listening to this past month?

Go ahead and tell us in the comments below, or pop over to Facebook and join me there.

Happy Reading!

Lots of love, Nicole ❤  xx

 

Here’s my Completed Reading List for October:

  • My Year of ME Planner draft for 2018! It’s going to be a super year, and our Planner and online course and community are shaping up to be our best yet.
  • Educating Alice by Alice Greenup. A memoir of a city girl who embraces country life. That makes it sound simple. It’s not. It’s an inspiring story of love, struggle, near-disaster and a woman who makes the most of her life, despite things often being stacked against her.
  • Peter Shankman’s ‘Faster Than Normal – Turbocharge your focus productivity and success with the secrets of the ADHD brain’. It was so good that I ended up listening to the audio version of it too. Please go buy this book – if you or someone you love had ADHD it’s a godsend. And if you don’t it will still give you so many solid tips for increasing your focus and productivity, as well as becoming an all-round better human being. Peter also has an excellent Podcast by the same name.

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The Man In The Dress – A Tale of Courage

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” 
~  Washington Irving

 

I’ve lost a lot of confidence with some daily activities while I’ve battled Lyme disease. One of them is driving. Lyme disease caused me vision problems and poor reflexes that until recently made driving safely impossible, but as my health has improved I have been talking about getting behind the wheel again. In the last month or so I’ve driven around the farm getting my confidence up, but I wasn’t feeling ready last week when Ben asked if I could follow him in our second car because he needed to visit a town thirty minutes drive away to have his vehicle serviced. His ride home had fallen through and there was no public transport. If I didn’t drive, he couldn’t go. It made me nauseous from anxiety. What if I couldn’t do it? Still, I agreed.

That first drive was nerve-wracking.  My hands ached from clutching the steering wheel by the time I pulled in behind Ben’s car. But I’d done it! Ben drove us home, and we quietly celebrated the fact that I’d gained a little more of my old life back.

The next day Ben drove us both back in to Lismore, and then left me to bring the second car home.

To be out of the house, on my own… I struggle to explain how liberating it was, even as it took every fibre of my being to stay focused and to not give in to my anxiety.

After we swapped cars so Ben could bring the newly serviced truck home I stopped at a shopping centre and did a few chores on my own. My first unsupervised shopping trip in years. Oh the freedom of being able to decide where to go and how long to take! Of being able to please myself as I looked at clothes or laboured over yoghurt choices. When I finally returned to my vehicle I saw that Ben had left a swimming-pool water sample on the seat that he’d intended to drop off to a local store. I decided that I’d go there myself. Miss Independent. It felt marvellous.

I couldn’t get an easy park out front of the pool shop so I pulled up in the next block. As I got out of the car I saw him coming towards me. An older man, perhaps in his early seventies; thin and stooped, wearing a large faded dress over his shorts and shirt and pulling an old-fashioned wheeled shopping basket behind him. He looked so odd and awkward as he shuffled along. As he got closer I realised that he was crying, but his face was furrowed with determination.

I wondered if wearing a dress was an act of bravery regarding gender identity. It’s been in the news so much lately as Australia goes to a postal-vote plebiscite over marriage equality. Whatever it was, I could see the old man was struggling.

Walking over I asked him if he was okay, handing him a tissue to wipe away his tears. He nodded, without saying anything.

Are you lost, I asked.

No, he said. I am going shopping. I must go shopping. There’s no food left.

Image from www.atablero.com

Then his story tumbled out. The man had lived with depression and social anxiety his whole life. It became so bad that ten years ago he had moved home with his elderly mother and she had taken care of him. He’d barely left the house in that time, and she had done all the grocery shopping and town duties. But his mum had passed away a few months ago. He hadn’t even gone to her funeral, although he’d wanted to. Now the cupboards were bare and he needed to shop. It had taken days to work up the courage.

There’s not a scrap of food left, he said. Nothing. And no-one to go now but me.

In the end, this man had put his mum’s dress on over his clothes, because then it felt like she was with him, keeping him safe. He didn’t care how it looked anymore. He just needed to eat. He just needed to get to the shops. It was the only thing he could think of to do. Her dress was a shield. A talisman. His only hope.

I asked him if he wanted me to go with him. No, he told me, standing straighter. I’ll be right. He wiped his face with a tissue, his hands big and gnarled and old. Then he put the tissue in the pocket of the dress, thanked me and kept walking. His courage and dignity broke me wide open and I cried for him as he continued his halting journey out into town.

As I drove home that afternoon I pondered what had happened.

What does it matter if a man wears a dress or not? What does it matter who a woman loves, or who a person marries? All that matters is kindness, and taking care of each other.

I understood a little of what it had cost him to leave the safety of the familiar and risk going out into the wider world. I hope each trip out into the world becomes easier, for him and for me. Freedom is wonderful, but it is not always easily grasped.

As always, I’m holding you in my prayers and meditations and sending love, Nicole xx