Monday musings

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life35 Comments


Hello there, Monday. Fancy meeting you here.

Aidan, who left on Saturday for a week-long theater camp program in Southern Minnesota, took this extreme close up while making cupcakes last week, using my new 50mm Canon Macro lens. Nice work, Zielsk!

It's going to be hella hot week in the upper Midwest. They say it could reach 100 by Wednesday. For this dyed-in-the-wool Pacific Northwest girl, temps like that make exactly zero sense to me.

Make no mistake, I will stay cool. I have central air in my 94-year-old house and I intend to use it.

Other than trying to be productive while one of my children has flown the coop, I have started trying to create a ritual in the morning of going out onto my front porch and reading something inspirational while having my morning coffee.

Yes, the workout is next on the list, followed closely by work to be done to continue earning a stay-at-home living, but I'm trying to invest a bit more into the soul side of things. I figure after doing (and continuing) therapy for two-plus years, maybe I should branch out a bit and find more food for the heart and mind.

Having recently read The Gifts of Imperfection, I feel hungry for more of the same. Reading author BrenΓ© Brown's blog led me to find a book by Susannah Conway. That book is This I Know. It arrived early last week and I've been savoring it each morning, reading a bit here and there, trying to soak it in and let it fill me up.

Photo Jun 22, 7 50 19 AM

It's made me want to head out and pick up a journal and start writing a bit more about my inner life and all of the stuff she is making me think about.

What have you been reading for inspiration? And beyond that, do you have any small and sacred rituals or spaces you create for yourself to allow time for inspiration and renewal? 

By all means, do share.

Cathy ZielskeMonday musings

35 Comments on “Monday musings”

  1. #1

    I walk. Most days I walk miles, but on days when I’m grumpy, tired, fed up with the (seemingly endless) rain I start with the aim to reach 10,000 steps and that gets me out of the house. I started when I joined WW (some years ago) and discovered that a long walk does far more for me than keep my weight in check; it’s the best anti-depressant for me, as well as time to renew & recharge my creative batteries, think through problems, breathe, stretch. I’m lucky to live on the edge of a beautiful city so have the choice of urban walks past centuries-old architecture, a riverside walk, or striding out across gorgeous countryside. I play around with all sorts of other things – swimming, Zumba, cycling – but always, always walk.

  2. #2

    I’ve always liked the way Julia Cameron puts things into perspective for me. I’ve done “The Artist Way” several times but have fallen off the Morning Pages. I think you would enjoy doing them. I also like her book “Transitions” as a morning or evening meditation book.

    I also liked walking but now have a heel issue that needs addressing. πŸ™

  3. #3
    Kendra B

    This is the second time I’ve seen something about that book. Maybe its a sign that I need to get it? πŸ™‚ For renewal I meditate. Leonie Dawson has wonderful guided meditations on her website, which is another place I turn to for inspiration . . . along with a few other blogs including yours! πŸ™‚

  4. #4
    Sara Mangan

    Morning coffee on the porch sounds wonderful. Living in MN you know how fast summer goes and how long winter is. Enjoying these beautiful mornings we have right now is priceless.
    I have just started making a point of sitting outside in the mornings too. I have my morning tea and try to just take in the beauty of the morning. I actually wrote a blog post about it yesterday.
    A book I have that I like is The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. It has an entry for every day of the year. Short and sweet. Some hit home with me and some don’t.
    I have the book The Gifts of Imperfection. I pulled it out last night to read it again.

  5. #5
    Susan Anderson

    I’ve been doing morning pages for a few months now. I love it and it’s definitely changed my life for the better. I wake up and head to my computer and write. So many ideas and challenge solved first thing in the morning. Clears the way so I get the most out of my day.

  6. #6

    My first choice for inspirational reading is the Bible. I try to read a chapter a day (though I’m not always consistant). Slowing down to read it really allows me to take it in and think about it. A book I read a few years ago, but have been thinking about picking up again, is the Purpose Filled Life by Rick Warren. It’s a very enlightening book, at least for me it was. πŸ™‚

  7. #8

    I just finished This I Know last week! And I read Brene’s book when it was first published. I follow both of their blogs. Great stuff.

  8. #9

    I am loving an Ali Edwards recommendation: A Million Miles in a Thousand Steps by Donald Miller. LOVE it.

  9. #10
    Louise Fortune

    Ritual – I get up ridiculously early one morning a week, usually Tuesdays so that I can indulge in the silence of a still sleeping house, in summer it has lots of side benefits, tea on the deck in the early morning sun, but in the winter it can feel a tad sad and lonely but I try to “do” more stuff on the winter morning, in the summer it is a lot more indulgent.

  10. #11

    Wow! Do I agree with you about walking. It’s the best thing I can do for my body and my soul. The time alone with my thoughts are the things I look forward to. I’ve been walking for over 50 years and hope I never have to give it up.

  11. #12

    I love to spend time with my Bible – it feeds my soul, mind and spirit. We all need time to be quiet to read, think and pray. x

  12. #13

    This has given a great deal to think about. I am terrible with the whole sitting still thing and thinking about something other than the details of my busy life just never makes the cut! I think I need to feel productive in some kind of tangible way which is too bad because I can see the benefits of what you are all talking about. I even tried yoga this spring with the hopes that it would slow me down, get in touch with my peaceful side. I honestly found it too slow…but by the end of 8 weeks I must admit I did start to enjoy it.

    If I was going to start with just one book what should it be? There have been so many recommendations!

    Here’s to feeling more inspired.

  13. #14

    Oh I hear you. I realized that even though Ive been working in therapy for over two years to understand stuff about my life, I really wasnt taking the time to sit and be and think. Sounds all new agey and what not, but Im really trying to just get more still. Life moves on whether Im busy and working, or just sitting and being. I would try reading Brene Browns book The Gifts of Imperfection. Its got so much in it. Such a great collection of thoughts there.

  14. #16

    Julia Cameron also has a book about Write off the Weight that incorporates her Morning Pages. Love her books. Thanks for telling about Transitions.

  15. #17


    Before you mentioned that you used the “Day One” app on your iPhone for your Project Life adventure, I had already discovered it and love it! I’ve journaled most of my life, but not nearly as much as I should as I’ve gotten older. But, this app helps me to remember to write and it’s with me all time. No pen or paper required. Project Life is an awesome and new way to document life, but journaling can be your own private thing. It measures your success (and failures) and helps keep record of your life. Like Ferris Bueller once said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and take a look around, you just might miss it.”

  16. #18

    One of the things on my “summer manifesto” is to get up and read outside (instead of getting sucked into the vortex that is the Today show). I’ve been reading The Happiness Project, and it gives me a lot to think about.

  17. #19

    I love Brene Brown and chose her book for my turn with our book club. I would recommend Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller, or even more, Hand Wash Cold by her. I’ve read a lot of books about mindfulness and being present but this is the only one that made me laugh out loud. I also love The Gifts of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison (which also deals with her oldest leaving for college—the transition to parenting teens), but I SO want you to read Hand Wash Cold because I think you’d appreciate her writing about marriage —and emptying the dishwasher:)

  18. #20

    I appreciate the suggestions posted today. I find my life enhanced when I spend a little time each day with the Scriptures. They center me, put my priorities back on track and reinforce my relationship with God. Sometimes I find answers to a problem or issue, but more important, I feel more at peace, more loved, and reminded that I’m not going through this life experience alone.

  19. #21

    Small rituals are really important to me. I’ve designated a particular comfy chair looking out over my garden as my ‘reading and thinking chair’ and I curl up in it only for that, so it’s become associated in my mind with reflection and relaxation. I might just plonk myself there for a couple of minutes’ respite during a frenetic day, but if time permits I light one of my favourite scented candles and make a pot of fresh peppermint tea to sip whilst reading or contemplating.

    Another tiny ritual is having fresh flowers from my garden on my office desk. They don’t have to be anything fancy – at the moment I’ve got a few sprigs of honeysuckle, which smell divine.

    English summers are so damned unreliable that we can go for weeks without a day warm enough to bask in the sun. I read about this idea somewhere and it is truly fabulous. Set up a hammock and escape there to read or doze with a hot water bottle, a pair of cashmere socks and a soft blanket. I don’t get to do this often and rain can stop play but it’s pure and utter bliss!

    English summers mean it can be

  20. #22
    Renee C

    Check out this wonderful book and blog:

    Read it recently as I’ve been on a similar path the last three years or so, making sense of some things from my past and really wanting to live with purpose and peace each day. She is a beautiful writer and has great perception.

  21. #23

    I’ve been a lay member of this Benedictine monastery for almost 10 years, and been going on retreat there since maybe 1998?

    You don’t have to be Roman Catholic or even Christian to make a retreat at a Benedictine monastery, and there are many. Benedictines focus on many things including hospitality and care for the earth. Most monasteries are nature retreats or farms of some kind. They very much welcome guests.

    It’s a wonderful place to go, unplug, sit in silence, watch the clouds go by, read, sleep, hike the trails, etc.

    The food is also excellent. πŸ™‚ They usually serve food made from their own gardens and orchards and such.

  22. #24

    Happy Monday Cathy, loved reading this today! I think it’s great your finding time to do this, a little TLC for ourselves is always a good thing! I’ve been wanting that book since seeing it on Ali’s blog, it’s on the xmas wish list.

    My ritual is hot tea and reading blogs early in the morning, they inspire me and start my day off happy. Lately now I’ve been doing less computer and more painting which is really filling me with joy each morning. I love the quietness of mornings before everyone is awake.
    I also sit on the back deck most nights and watch the sunset, it’ magical each time and for me it’s the perfect way to end the day.
    Thanks for sharing and letting us share today!!
    We have a heat wave coming this week also, enjoy the cool A/C you have.

  23. #25
    Gypsy Chaos

    I just finished reading “My Stroke of Insight”, written by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist working at Harvard’s Brain Bank, who had a stroke. Her left brain was seriously injured, so she was a right brain person relearning the tasks of her left brain for years. Most people are left brain dominate and she was quite the extreme example before her stroke.

    It was a quick read – even with several chapters on the science geek aspects, which helped explain the rest of the book.

    The absolutely most fascinating manifestation of her injuries was her feeling of being ‘one’ with the universe. She felt fluid instead of solid for years, found empathy and compassion for all. During her recovery she consciously chose what aspects of her left brain personality she was willing to retrieve, leaving behind the old pains and hurts.

    It sounds all new-agey — but Dr. Taylor is a hardcore scientist! She makes some excellent points about the need for silence and stillness, and provides suggestions for achieving both.

    {{Can you tell I JUST finished it??}}

  24. #26
    Debbie in AZ

    There are a couple of things I do that soothe or inspire me: One, I have a collection of mugs from the places I have traveled around the US and abroad. Each morning when I make my morning cup of tea, I choose a mug that reminds me of a special place I’ve been or of a way that I had challenged or enjoyed myself. This small ritual brings to mind little ways that I have been good to myself, been proud of myself, or have felt loved, exhilarated or inspired (sometimes (all three!).

    A second things I do is to periodically reread or skim “Journal to the Self” by Kathleen Adams. She lays out 22 different ways to journal/write that are quick or interesting beyond the standard paragraph or page of prose about one’s life or feelings. I’ll pick one that interests me in the moment and do it instead of the usual brain dump paragraph I often do.

  25. #27

    Hi Cathy –
    I’m still a big believer in a gratitude journal. Writing down five things I feel grateful for helps me focus on what’s good; what’s working. Some days those are five very small, seemingly insignificant things! But it all counts. And after days or weeks of jotting them down you have a tangible reminder of all that you count as your blessings.

    My husband and I are currently reading “Hold Me Tight” by Dr. Sue Johnson. ( ) We’ve known each other 27 years and been happily married for 21, but with the stress we’ve been under recently we felt we needed a few more skills to draw on.

    Thank you for sharing so much with us here.
    Love and peace to you and Dan…
    – Lee

  26. #28

    Mornings with my Bible, reading and pondering what I’ve read, then praying over the day – that’s my morning ritual once the house is quiet (kids and hubby off to classes or the office).
    Max Lucado’s books have given me much to think about, especially “Fearless.”

  27. #29
    Missus Wookie

    I have a selection of ’em and they change as the patterns change. I read something positive first thing – up, grab glasses, stumble to bathroom – first a devotional paragraph and then the Awesome app. Make me think & smile before I work out and get into the morning.

    Used to have time for more but now we’ve got school/work rush. So I’ve built in one in my lunch break – means I get one (I’m sure you working from home have the same problem) and I sit down with something creative as well as inspiration – just lately it’s been Ali’s 31 prompts. Well worth doing by the way.

    In the evening after dinner Wookie & I walk, take time while the kids clean the kitchen to reconnect, away from the house/work/kids we walk and talk for as long as we want. When I was working away we burned 85 minutes of his monthly allowance talking while he walked and I was cooped in the hotel room.

    Last thing before bed – my gratitude journal. Oh life! when I can get to it (sometimes before bed, sometimes in the morning before I start work) I find those moments of life captured are precious.

    However – when I teach this stuff I start with the following comment – what makes you smile? What makes you sigh happily? What makes you laugh out loud? O.k. – do those things more often. Block it out, book it into your life and make it routine. Consider ’em like flossing ’cause they are good for you! πŸ˜†

    Glad you are thinking about it – hope you find a way to fit such things into your life.

  28. #30
    Lauren Hershey

    This one has been very helpful to me – Writing as a Way of Healing: How telling our stories transforms our lives.

    Also, since I was diagnosed with ADHD in my forties, these two books have been a HUGE help in every way…The ADHD Effect on Marriage by Melissa Orlov (written by a wife whose spouse has ADHD – so RIGHT on about what both the ADHD and non-ADHD spouse experiences). Also, ‘Healing ADD’ by Daniel G Amen, identifies the six types of ADD and stragegies for living with them. Very interesting if you have any ADDers in your life, which I do.

    I have Dr. Brene Brown’s book Women & Shame: Reaching Out, Speaking Truths and Building Connection waiting for me to read (recommended by MY therapist!) Thanks for all these great suggestions. I’ve just lengthened my ‘To Read’ list by a bunch!

  29. #31
    Dixie Lee

    “1000 Gifts” by Anne Voskamp It’s about choosing a life of gratitude.

    My sacred ritual department is sorely lacking these days. Next week is a beach trip, and I will have lots of time for reflection and rejuvenation. I hope it will help me recover some of the soul search I feel I am missing on a daily basis.

  30. #32

    I start my mornings with a cup of coffee and prayer on our patio; I have a nice view of the Santa Rita mountains in Green Valley AZ. Then I continue reading in a monthly journal called ‘Magnificat’, which has our daily MASS readings, prayers, and meditations (by now I’m on my 2nd cup of coffee). It’s become a ritual for me and my day just goes better when I spend some time in prayer and meditation.

  31. #33

    I try to do scripture reading daily to allow for renewal. TRY. I’m getting better at remembering, but it’s difficult sometimes.

  32. #34
    Missus Wookie

    Got interrupted – one of the reasons I have so many is not all of ’em get done every day. Like your one day reminders… why not pair that with a thankful thought or a two minute quiet time.

    Thanks for sharing so honestly it is inspiring.

  33. #35
    Jenny B

    I love reading my Journey devotional magazine. It’s got a short story/article followed by a related passage from scripture. I love using the Bible app on my iPhone. I’ve found lately that I only open my leather bound Bible on Sundays. I’m guessing it will only be a matter of time before I start using the Bible app while I’m sitting in church. Lots of friends already do. Anyway… bird walking… πŸ™‚

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