I’ve read various articles and heard interviews of authors and other writers answering the question, “What inspires your writing?” and it made me reflect. Some of you write poetry, lyrics to songs, blog posts, articles, and books. What inspires you? How did the things you write about edge out the competing ideas that were trying to wiggle a place onto your notepad, typewriter page, or computer screen?

Source: Philipine Star

And maybe it’s not always a what, but a who, a person near and dear, or one you have never met. Why do they inspire you?

Source: Business 2 Community

My business writing is usually inspired by past or present events and the people impacted. There are times when conversations with other people inspire me to write about the topics we were discussing. I’m inspired by past and current clients and the circumstances that they face with their businesses and careers. Oh and I can’t leave out my college students. They ask great questions and share their experiences, and I’m inspired to examine the information shared and provide my perspective.

My Seek Him book series was inspired by my spiritual journey, as captured in writing through my blog, Breaking Bread With Natasha. My readers encouraged me to write a book. They had asked me repeatedly over the years, “When are you going to write a Breaking Bread book?” and I initially scoffed at the idea. But they made some pretty good arguments for why a book would be beneficial. I didn’t know that as I typed away, year after year, editing and scraping ideas, that I would write not one book, but enough content for three books. I was inspired by my pain, victories, failures, fears, questions, and doubts. I was inspired by my hope and faith, and my belief in my relationship with God. I’m inspired by the stories of people in the Bible, people throughout history, and people that I know who have faced insurmountable challenges.

What about you? What and who inspires your writing? And why?

Source: Current School News

~Natasha

With all of our busyness and adulting, have you remained connected with your inner child, or have you blotted out the essence and sounds of that amazing energy within? I try to embrace my inner child as much as possible, for all of the good and great reasons. Allowing little Natasha to run around with glee, I light up when I recognize a beloved book from my childhood, and remember how the stories made me feel, page after page. I love going into the public library and seeing the “classics” and the “newbies” waiting on the shelves for someone inquisitive to explore them. I know that many of us have defaulted to reading eBooks and listening to audio books. I admit that I love audio books. It feels like story time and listening to an amazing storyteller. At the same time, there is something extra special about holding a soft or hard cover book, and you can smell the faint scent coming from the pages. Is it just me, or is that not oh so amazing?

Some of you have children and maybe you have found ways to introduce them to your favorite childhood books. Or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you have forgotten many of them. Maybe you’re not much of a reader and so your memory is clouded of the past fantasies that were woven through your young mind, through those moments when an adult read to you. Or maybe, well heck there’s a lot of maybe’s.

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I could not possibly list all of my favorite books growing up because, well, you would grow exhausted and give up, as my list would feel endless. I was a bookworm growing up. A true human sponge, soaking up as much information as I could. I still enjoy reading books, consuming one to three per week. If someone would do all of the adulting for me, I could read more books each week. Arrgh. That leaves me where I stand. One to three will have to do!

My mom taught my how to read by age two, so anything with words was bound to be in front of me. Starting in first grade, my dad would challenge me each week to see who could read either the most books or the biggest (thickest) book. I would light up every time we would visit the Los Angeles Public Library in downtown L.A. Oh my goodness, I used to have so much fun spending hours at the library. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m typing this post sitting inside of a public library. Yep! Nostalgia overload, but in a great way! Don’t believe me? Check me out…

Thinking back, I can recall sitting across from my dad inside of a Burger King, completely lost in one of the biggest books I had ever read. I was between the ages of six and eight. We were both only pages away from finishing, and although you want to win the challenge, you don’t want to rush the story, because you don’t want to miss any important moments or key elements. That made the challenge even more satisfying. I do think that I rushed through some of the pages though as I didn’t want to lose.

Do any of you have reading challenges with the children in your life?

Scholastic Book Club

Here’s something else that I loved as a child, receiving the Scholastic Book Club flyers at school. Every month I would salivate as I circled or starred which books and learning tools that I was going to hound my parents to buy. I already knew how much I could use from my allowance to cover whichever remaining items that my parents said, “Really Natasha, you already have X (number of) books in your order, those can wait until another time” and I would squeal and say, “But they may not be on the list next time” not realizing that as long as you had the flyer you could order previously featured books. When mom and dad wouldn’t budge any further in their wallet, and I didn’t want to risk calling another family member (because who in their right mind would try to go around my mom and dad?) I went to my back up, my piggy bank, and covered the rest of my order. Oh and by the way, by the time I was in sixth grade, I had upgraded the piggy bank to a grey cash box. Not as cute but it had tons of room to save mo’ money mo’ money mo’ money [*in my Wayans brothers voice*].

Haaaa do you remember these skits from In Living Color?

In case you’re wondering, yes, Scholastic Book Club is still thriving. You can find their monthly flyers here, in digital format and they are segmented by grade level.

And Although Not Books

I don’t know about you, but I was in love with the Highlights Magazine (formerly Highlights for Children). I was so grateful that I had access to them at school and my parents subscribed so I never missed an issue. And yes, they are also still in business and thriving. Check out their magazines, activity subscriptions, books, collections, and more.

are you ready for a trip down memory lane?

Let me title-drop several books and see if the titles spark something inside of you. If it does, please share. Oh and let me be clear, these books aren’t listed in any particular order and I’m only sharing books from knee-high to around third or fourth grade. And, I’m a 70s baby so many of the books that I read as a child were written in the 1940s through 1980s. Some books have been captured as cartoons and animated films, but nothing tops a good ole’ book!

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey

Frog and Toad (Collection box set) by Arnold Lobel

The Little Engine That Could (Original Classic Edition) by Watty Piper

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Just about every Dr. Seuss book I can think of, here’s a few:

  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • The Cat in the Hat

The Berenstain Bears series by Stan and Jan Berenstain (did you know they wrote over 300 books in this series?)

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (and several other Potter books

Curious George by H.A. Rey

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry (and other books by him like What Do People Do All Day?)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Rudolf Wyss

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm

The Little House collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories (I read most of the collection) by Carolyn Keene (a pseudonym for a collection of paid writers who each wrote a book; starting first with author Mildred Wirt Benson)

Hardy Boys book series by Franklin W. Dixon (I will admit, I didn’t read all of this series, but I read most of the books)

What About You?

Share some of your childhood favorites. I sprinkled in some from my toddler years through early elementary school. I will save middle school and high school for future posts. I can’t wait to reminisce with you. Comment below or tag me on social media!

~Natasha

With social media, we get snippets and highly edited reels of fragments of other people’s lives. It’s curated in a way that either props someone up to be idealized or entangled so deeply that they become just another image or video in the social sea. Many people are positively using social media platforms to connect in healthy ways with others. There is a genuine interest in learning more about others, sharing experiences, and giving more than taking.

I’m interested in knowing how you typically invest your hours on any given Friday.
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  • Are you staring at the clock all day in anticipation of zipping over to happy hour?
  • Are your Fridays like your Mondays, so they are super fast or really slow, all day long?
  • Are you slammed with meetings from start to finish?
  • Is Friday the day you’re catching up on everything you didn’t do the other days of the week?
  • Does your work day end in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
  • Do you have a routine before or after work?
  • Do you have Friday off and that’s the day you focus hours on class work for the course you’re taking? Or is it your beach, lake, or park day?
  • Is Friday “errands day” followed by pampering at the barber shop, hair salon, nail salon, or spa?

What do you do when your work day ends?

  • Do you head straight home?
  • Do you stop by and pick up your go-to meal from your favorite restaurant? Or order it for delivery?
  • Do you go to the gym?
  • Is Friday your dedicated Bowling or Skating Night?
  • Are you heading over to watch your child participate in an extracurricular activity?
  • Is it happy hour time with co-workers, friends, or just you and whoever is sitting nearby?
  • Do you meet up with friends to play card games (like Poker or Spades) or dominoes, chess, or video games?
  • Do you find a movie theater or drive-in to chill out and watch something funny or scary?
  • Do you volunteer at a local nonprofit?
  • Do you rush to your family to take part in a family routine like Fajita Fridays? or Fortnite Fridays?
  • Is it the start of your shopping spree? Or your Netflix and chill, binge-watching experience?

If you read my last post, I shared the thematic week days that I follow to keep me organized and feeling more confident (and less stressed). I mentioned what I do on Friday Team & Overflow Day, and I shared some tips on how you could modify your day. As I mentioned in that post, a few weeks ago I made the decision to structure my work week so that Friday’s I could shut things down by 3:30 pm. It requires great discipline Monday through Thursday, and sometimes I run over, give myself a “pass”, and relax when I’ve finally finished the task. I then can reflect, non-judgmentally, over the situation, understanding that “stuff happens”, and then I find ways to reward myself after-hours. A yummy meal or entertaining movie has been oh so rewarding!

If I pick up my nephew from school and take him to his swim lessons, then we usually eat a snack at the park or while driving to swim. After swim we seek out lunch and I’m usually listening to an audiobook, or we’re listening to music, or a Joel Osteen sermon. This four-year-old loves Joel Osteen! Then when he gets home we will either do a bike ride or he will play with his toys while I finish up my work tasks.

For about two years, I was trying to revive my childhood favorite, Pizza Night. As a child, my parents would take me out for pizza and video games, every Friday. And if you love pizza like I love pizza, then you know how absolutely awesome this was. We did this for years.

In 2019, I started testing it out and then in 2020, almost every Friday I was finding ways to enjoy pizza and a movie, or pizza followed by video games, and then a movie. The little child in me would giggle with glee. I have to be mindful of what I eat leading up to Friday and for lunch that day, so that Friday is more joy that guilt. I don’t want to have buyer’s remorse. That would suck.

I would love for my nephew to grow up experiencing the joy of themed days, anticipating the experiences that he will share with his loved ones. What a great tradition to pass on!

Another routine that I’m getting the hang of is doing laundry on Friday, so that my Saturday isn’t bogged down with laundry, housecleaning, and then trying to squeeze in my pamper sessions (with hair and skincare). I also mentioned that in my last post, and that I’ve been tweaking my Saturday and Sunday more and more each week. So far, I’m liking the results and how I feel. I’m noticing that I’m sleeping better, getting the most out of my days, waking more energized—yes, even on Mondays!

I have some other questions for you.

Can our Friday help to set up our Monday for success? Or does the weekend still play a major part? Or is whichever day that begins our workweek the day that we dread? If you have Mondays off, then would Tuesday be the day you dread, for instance? Or what if you worked every day except Wednesday and Thursday, would you dread seeing Friday pop up?

And why the dread? Do we have to rethink our workweek? Or is it that we have to rethink how we see work? Do we have to rethink the work that we’re doing or where we’re doing our work?

What do you think?

I won’t lie, I am trying to position myself where I can take Fridays off and get full breathing room for the weekend. I truly believe that I can create the infrastructure and systems that will allow all of my worlds to cohabitate in a Monday through Thursday realm. I’m hoping to achieve this some time this year. Heck, we’re almost half-way through 2022, and I’m excited at what I’ve achieved so far with my modified days. I believe I can do it and thrive.

Have you achieved this? Is it something that you desire? I know it’s not feasible for all work arrangements. I have noticed that there is a growing number of businesses that are converting to this framework, or providing it as an option for workers.

“The five-day week is not the ultimate, and neither is the eight-hour day.”

– Henry Ford, 1926

Ole’ Henry was ahead of his time!

~Natasha