Keep Calm and Read a Good Book

Keep Calm and Read a Good Book

When the world seems full of rejection, look for bright spots. And make the most of the them.

I choose to see rejections simply as milestones along my journey. They aren’t major rejections. A community involvement role here. A professional association board membership there. And some others along the way.

One bright spot is I got the volunteer job I wanted this year in National Charity League. I’m the inspiration chair for the Palos Verdes chapter. I give a short talk each month to inspire my fellow members.

We’re parents serving communities along with our daughters in middle and high school. We’re part of a national organization fostering mother-daughter relationships in a philanthropic organization committed to community service and giving 1 million hands-on volunteer hours annually.

And we’re busy – juggling children, careers and community.

So my inspiration this month began with a collective exhale. We were gathered on a scenic September evening at the seaside cliffs of the Point Vicente Interpretive Center.

Point Vicente

And here’s what I said.

By a show of hands, how many of you –

  • Have more texts, emails, pings and dings than you can answer?
  • Have more calendar commitments than you can ever do?
  • Feel like everyone but you leads a charmed life on Facebook and Instagram?

Well, welcome to a new school year!

One mom with two school-aged kids is also the junior senator from New York. Her name is Kirsten Gillibrand. In her book, Off the Sidelines, she says if you ask a mother how it’s going, the universal answer is “Um, barely holding it together.”

So you’re in good company with parents everywhere.

But my job is not to depress you. It’s to inspire you.

Since we often meet at the Palos Verdes Library, my theme this year is good books. And it’s a complement to the theme of this year’s president, Francine Mathieson – Be the Good.

And while you don’t need yet another thing to do, how many of you would like to:

  • Increase your concentration and improve your memory?
  • Connect better with people on an emotional level?
  • Feel happier, calmer and less stressed?

Then reading, as little as six minutes a day, can help you do that.

A study on stress was done at the University of Sussex – yes, it’s in England, so it may or may not be on your daughter’s college list.

It showed reading was better at lowering stress than a number of other activities, such as listening to music, taking a walk, drinking tea or playing a video game.

Reading focuses your mind and crowds out worries – with no hangover, extra calories or other bad side effects. What could be better?

Thanks to Debra Young-Stearns and her team, you have a reminder bookmark on your chair about keeping calm and reading a good book.

The next time we meet at the library, visit the new releases section. It’s like being in a bookstore and walking out with every new book you want – for free!

(And post-inspiration talk, I took my own advice and found Frank Bruni‘s terrific book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, pictured above).

There’s also a great new book out by Brené Brown called Rising Strong. You may have watched her popular TED talks or read her books. Her new book is about resilience and bouncing back from adversity.

I first heard Brené when I was driving to Lake Arrowhead a year ago to meet our very own Beth Graziano and other friends for a family weekend. And I have a feeling Brené and Beth would be the best of friends.

Lake Arrowhead

My life was busy, so I drove up by myself after the rest of the group. And I found the TED talk playlists to keep me company – pick a topic and you’ll be entertained by 18-minute talk after talk for several hours.

The last one as I wound my way up the mountain was called The Power of Vulnerability. With more than 21 million views, it has struck a universal chord.

I closed with a few words from Brené’s talk. About our children being wired and ready for struggle and being worthy of love and belonging. And about believing that “we are enough.”

Because, as Brown says, “when we work from a place that says, ‘I am enough,’ we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

I am enough. You are enough. Enjoy this beautiful season.

Point Vicente Sunset

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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