Free digital audio and e-books with Overdrive

I get my books from 4 sources: library, buy on Kindle, buy on Audible and physical books from my shelf.

Recently though I discovered the Overdrive app.

I’d heard about this on the US blogs I follow and first thought it was an American thing.

Until I saw an Australian person comment on one such bookish post and so the wheels started turning.

I then investigated further and discovered that we also have Overdrive in South Africa.

Yay!

I’ve only been able to find one library in Johannesburg that my library card works at – the Gauteng Provincial Library Service – but one is enough…. at least for now 🙂

So far I’ve borrowed 2 audio books and about 6 ebooks in the last month.

Here are my notes:

  1. You have to be a member of the library (this is easy enough – pop into your local library, fill in a form and pay what they want – usually less than R50).
  2. Overdrive is a digital library so if you want to borrow “real books”, you go into the library as usual to get those, but this way, you can borrow audio and ebooks. I’ve seen that they also have videos but I have no interest in those 🙂
  3. You’re allowed to borrow 3 digital titles and put about 15 on hold. If you reserve a title (on the wait list) they will email you when it becomes available.
  4. You are allowed to keep the title for 14 days. It will automatically disappear from your account when this happens so allow enough time to read it. My first audio book was over 10 hours long and I thought I’d run out of time but I made it just in time 🙂
  5. I’ve only just discovered (in checking out a few things for this blog post) that you can return titles earlier than the 14 days. It worked for 2 of my 3 titles but somehow doesn’t want to let me return the 3rd one.
  6. For audiobooks, it is a little more cumbersome to use than audible but hey, it’s for free 🙂 You have to download a number of files (roughly 1 file per hour of listening time) but you can set it up to keep playing. And I delete files as I move through the book to save space on my 16 GB iphone.
  7. For ebooks, they can be read through the overdrive app on the ipad but I actually prefer reading in the ipad’s browser. You can access cool stats like how many times you’ve picked up the book, how long you’ve been reading, etc.

Are you intrigued, South Africans?

Please let me know if you use this service.

I see that there are libraries in each of the provinces so check it all out – you might save yourself some audible/ kindle costs 🙂

PS there aren’t tons of books (well, that I’m interested in reading) but I have placed holds on everything that does interest me so I can at least read all of those.

How to write a friendship manifesto

After working through my Shining Year workbook and having a bash at writing my Secrets of Adulthood, I thought I’d try my hand at writing a friendship manifesto.

There was a comment asking more about it – click through on the Instagram post above to read my response.

Meanwhile, this is how I start almost anything – with a mindmap.

I also use mindmaps for my monthly review, for my project life, for planning articles and blog posts, and definitely as a base to plan any talks.

I started with 4 questions:

  1. how do I want my friends to feel?
  2. what is my contribution?
  3. how do I want to feel?
  4. what are my boundaries?

I filled up this page very quickly, looked for common themes and then typed out my friendship manifesto. Here’s half of it 🙂

So why do this?

It helps clarify in your own mind what you stand for, what you’re looking for and what you offer.

Let me know what you might put on your own friendship manifesto.

What I want less of this year

A few weeks ago I wrote a post, what I want more of this year, and so this is the companion post to that one 🙂

I just mindmapped it and quickly came up with 8 things, but I’ll share 5 here today 😉

reading bad books

Part of my personality is that I’m a great completer of projects, persistent and I follow through. The shadow side to that means that I have a problem letting go.

I abandoned about 4 books last year which is AWESOME for me, since I just never could ever stop reading a bad book.

So while I’m not as bad as I was, I could get much better at this.

commuting time

I have a very flexible role at the moment which means I don’t need to be as office-based as before. Yet, I love the energy of my team and I’m an extrovert (ESTJ – with a driver function of extroverted sensing) so I’m probably in the office a bit more than I need to be.

This year I want to commute less than last year and use my time more productively.

Instagram coma

Instagram coma is a term I use to describe the state where you go into a trance just scrolling all the pretty pics, liking, commenting, etc. It’s addictive and often a lot more time passes than you realise.

A few weeks ago I realised it was getting worse so I’m trying to do something productive instead of that coma, like write a blog post, organise something quickly, throw in a load of laundry. Anything to break that trance-like state.


Being a firstborn at work

When I read The Firstborn Advantage last year, I realised that a lot of my tendencies at work are actually firstborn traits.

Like being the one to log a call for the printer cartridges to be replaced, volunteering for things no-one else wants to do, being the first to actually do and submit reports, etc.

I think it’s related but I also realised at the end of last year that sometimes I fight the point because I’m right instead of choosing the work relationship and letting them figure it out in their own time that a solution was the right way.

So I’m going to be super relaxed this year with things that don’t matter, saving my energy for the real stuff I’m employed to do 🙂

weak boundaries

This is an interesting one but there is one relationship in my life where I have very weak boundaries. My husband even commented recently that this is not like me!

I think it’s because this relationship is linked to something I consider a big part of my identity and I don’t want to mess that up. Still, it’s not good because it leaves me feeling resentful and frustrated when I feel my boundaries are being pushed time and time again.

I would love some ideas for gentle boundary strengthening 🙂

What do you want less of this year?

How I get it “all” done

When people hear that I work full-time, am married, have twins and coach time management part-time, they often ask me how I get it all done.

First I laugh and then I realise that it’s a serious question.

The short answer is that I don’t.

Yes, I do a lot but the bigger question is what I don’t get done.

Let me explain and also help you to get it “all” done:

  1. Get very clear on your life’s purpose

I have a life mission typed out and I know my definition of success in life.

I also know my values. A quick secret – one of those values is not to have the laundry perfectly done (I don’t ever do ironing!), but it is to take action and just get the clothes clean.

Are you clear on your life purpose?

  1. Make friends with “good enough”

It’s better to have something done than to have it perfect.

If you’re cringing at that sentence, know that I used to be you. That was until I realized that trying to get the last 20% of any project perfect usually takes more time than the previous 80%.

E.g. If we were to make a picture collage, it would take just a few minutes to select photos and group them in a collage. The playing around to get the best configuration with the best background and font, and so on takes 3 – 5 times longer than just creating the initial collage.  If you organize a space, decluttering and arranging the zones takes less time than all the faffing afterwards to make it “Pinterest-perfect”.

There is a time and place for prettying something up – maybe for your children’s birthday party but for general sending out of occasional photos to family or just tidying your desk, that level of extreme detail is not necessary.

Do you know when 80% is enough in your life, or are you still stuck on being perfect?

  1. Make a To Not Do list

We all know there are 24 hours in a day and there is not enough time to do everything.

It’s far more important these days to know which things to leave on the To Not Do list.

  • In my business, I do only things that need my “essence” and delegate the rest to my virtual assistant.
  • In my personal life, it’s important for me to cook from scratch but it’s not important for me to peel and chop all the vegetables myself.

Can you see the difference?

  1. Decide where you want to use your time and don’t feel guilty about it

Be intentional about your time usage. If reading is your thing like it is with me, then don’t feel guilty about cuddling up with a book and a mug of tea every day for an hour after supper.

If you scroll Instagram to unwind, then be conscious that you’re doing that and own it. Admit that you want to scroll Instagram for an hour every evening, and enjoy it.

Don’t feel guilty about the time but know why you’re doing it.

Of course I do procrastinate sometimes by too much time on blogs or Instagram but since I generally get things done, occasionally if I slip up, I don’t beat myself up about it.

How about you?

Where do you want to be spending your time and why? Are you intentional about it?

  1. Take consistent action

Unfortunately getting things done is not going to just happen unless you take consistent action.

Whether it’s moving forward with a big leap or lots of little leaps, I try to take some action every day.

I’m fairly good at constantly reviewing where I am in relation to my goals weekly and monthly.

Do you take enough regular action?

To end off, let me leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

-Lin Yutang 

 

I’m curious.

What’s on your to not do list? (we all have one)

Where in your life have you let go of perfectionism?

What I learned in February

I love doing these monthly round-up posts.

The only snag is I feel like I’m talking to myself and just to one other person 🙂 So this month, can I ask you to just write a little comment and tell me ONE thing that stood out about your month – good, bad, ugly, whatever. It’s so good to share.

This month has been interesting in that it’s the first month of My Year of Happy.

My focus was on relationships and increasing connection, and here’s how that went:

  1. after getting lazy about Valentine’s presents and such, I actually bought one for D, arranged notes and chocolates for the kids, and for their teachers (when does the teacher thing stop?)
  2. D and I also set a small goal for the rest of the year – to do one thing each month for us. This month it was to properly talk every day, even if just for 5 minutes. And it’s been great not talking only about logistics 🙂
  3. I’ve had dates with both kids, and D and I went to see West Side Story.
  4. I’ve made time for friends. This one is interesting because I always do, but I think I’ve found the perfect comfort number for socials per week (2!), whether in-person or phone dates.
  5. I sent out three birthday cards (it’s a big birthday month), a get well soon card and temporary tattoos to my niece and nephew.
  6. I think the biggest change for me was this – because I was conscious about my month’s intention to connect more fully, the minute someone popped into my mind, I phoned/ whatsapped/ smsd/ made the lunch date/ tea instead of saying “I’ll do it later”. And I’m so glad I did because life is short!

Other things I learned:

  1. I love the cooler weather and really am happier and more productive when the weather’s not as hot. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love grey skies (#marcialoveswinter and #marcialovesautumn).
  2. Book club is a good thing. I started a book club and we had our first meeting on the first Saturday of Feb to discuss Big, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.
  3. I discovered that we can access free ebooks and audio books through our libraries’ Overdrive app. Full post to come soon – I wanted to thoroughly test the system first.
  4. Podcast club – like book club, but for podcasts. I started a God Centered Mom Podcast Club with a friend. At the moment it’s just the two of us but it’s so easy. We agree which episode to listen to and chat every second Thursday evening for an hour on the telephone. If you live near a like-minded friend, you could meet at each others’ houses for tea but alas, she’s in Cape Town.
  5. My head is much clearer when important things are either done or scheduled. I had some financial things to finalise, all my medical stuff to do and I scheduled a dental procedure for next week (which I’m not thinking about at all :))

Did you have a focus for this month?

What is ONE thing you loved/ hated/ learned this month?

The great nail polish post

Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I did a little nail polish experiment last year.

It was very interesting so I’d like to share the results with you today.

I tracked each time I changed my nail polish colour.

I already have a spreadsheet for all my photos so I just added another sheet for the nail polish. Number, brand, name, date and days across the top. I put a formula in the days column to calculate how long I left a specific colour on. No, it didn’t take long at all. Probably 5 seconds each time I changed my nail polish and two minutes to set up.

This was all in the name of Konmari.

In the book, she often does this thing to show people their hoarding tendencies. Like if you had 300 ziploc bags and you said you need them all because you use one every week to take your Friday doughnut to the office, even if you took one every single week, it would take you nearly 6 years to use up that stash, which is kind-of crazy.

So me with the nail polish.

I put on nail polish 85 different times, once every 4.29 days.

That sounds about right because most time I feel like a change every 4 – 5 days.

I used 16 brands and my top 3 were Essence (40 times), Rimmel (12 times) and Yardley (6 times).

The top right purple-grey is Serendipity

I used 48 colours, only 24 colours were used two or more times, and my top 3 colours were You and me (Essence), Serendipity (Essence) and Mint Tropics (Sinful). I feel like the navy blues need a special mention because I have two colours, very close in colour, both used 3 times (Yardley’s Urban navy and Anchor blue). Technically they take second place together.

These were the ones that made the cut. And already, I’ve decluttered 3.

So how has this information been useful to me?

  • First of all, I know which brands I like so if I’m ever torn between two colours and one of them is Essence, I’d go with Essence.
  • I probably only need about 20 bottles, knowing that I will buy a few throughout the year, but also that I toss out some and have my seasonal favourites. There’s also a bright red I wear only twice a year, both times for my Spanish exams.
  • If I don’t love a colour, I should probably just get rid of it, because it’s going to happen anyway next time I take stock 🙂 #sparkjoy

What is the craziest thing you track?

What, if anything, did you find most interesting?

PS The nail polish situation this time last year, and how to make your nail polish last and not chip

What I want more of this year

In addition to the reflecting I do every year in my Shining Life workbook, I also like to ask myself two questions:

  1. what do I want more of in my life this year?
  2. what do I want less of in my life this year? (hint – it’s not just the opposite of the first question!)

Today, I’ll share my answers to the first question and in a few weeks, I’ll share the second question’s answers.

holidays

Last year we had two holidays (Jan and July) due to the house buying and selling… and our next one is only due at the end of April which is a L O N G time to wait. I need at least one every 6 months or so 🙂 2014, my year of shine, was a great holiday year – we had 4 holidays in the same calendar year.

sleep

I’ve been tracking my sleep since I got my Fitbit but it’s been a proper goal of mine to have 7 hours 30 on average every day. It takes work to get there but I feel amazing when I do get good sleep. I’m pleased to say I finished 2016 with an average of 7 hours 32 for the year.

quality time with D and the kids

With the house business, I got a bit slack with having our monthly dates. I like to have two with Dion and one with each child. We all enjoy the time when we do have our dates so this is important for all of us, but obviously, I’m the Goal-Setting Queen.

fitness, strength and vitality

I really need to find something to do on one more day in the week, something to build strength. I hate working out by myself though so I’ve been looking for a Barre class. Sadly, the one at my gym has stopped so back to the drawing board. If I can’t find a suitable class, I’m going to have to look for a personal trainer because I really need to strengthen my core.

true connection with friends and fun with like-minded people

I have tons of friends. But life-giving time with friends to me means connecting properly. I want more true connection and vulnerability instead of superficial conversation although that has its place, of course. I’ve started a God Centred Mom podcast club with a friend where we listen to a podcast and get on the phone to chat.

For the second part, I’ve started a book club. I may still do the odd crafternoon with friends, but the book club just speaks to me on so many levels since reading is my very favourite thing to do.

writing time

I want to write more this year, perhaps put together a new product or two. I’ve never had a shortage of ideas but I want to focus my attention properly.

clarity from God about ministry

I sometimes feel like I peaked too early in ministry. We were pastors and ran small groups, and I ran a ministry where we helped people to discover their passion and God-given gifts for 6 years (this was my sweet spot)…. and then we had kids and everything stopped. I did talks at my church once a month for a year which was fine but I could feel it wasn’t 100% in my sweet spot. I did some training again in 2014 so it was awesome for 2 months, but then nothing since then.

One of my deepest fears is dying with my potential still locked inside of me.

But I have no idea what to do or how to go about it.

So friends, if you’re prayers, please pray with me about this. I am very willing and very able, and I want to start impacting people again.

But back to you, what do you want more of in your life this year?

Memory-keeping: the system that works for me

Since this month is a month I want to focus on relationships, I thought I’d write one post to show you all about my memory-keeping, and at least I can then link to this one instead of the 5 or so on the blog 🙂

Cutouts

  1. I take tons of photos on both my camera and iphone, and use photos from both devices for my albums. I’m still partial to my big camera (Canon) but life is much easier with my iphone 6 since the quality of the photos is so magnificent. As they say, the best camera is the one you have with you. And I add, keep your big camera out so you’re more likely to use it.
  2. I do a 52-week photo project of the kids. This is my third year.
  3. I then choose 4 pics per child per month, and 4 pics overall. Because I take so many photos, I purposefully choose images for that are not from our 52 project pics. One day soon, I’ll just print the 52 photos for our album but that day has not arrived yet. These limitations have given me a lot of freedom.
  4. Then I do project life. Here’s how I used to do it and here’s how I now do it.
  5. The key to successful memory-keeping is being realistic about time and money.
  6. And here’s where I talk more about money because all of this stuff costs money so the key is to think about what will work for you.

How do you preserve your family’s memories?

What have you found is the most realistic method for you, both in terms of time and money?

If this is one of your goals for the year, join me for monthly accountability coaching to get your things done this year!

What I learned in January

I’m so excited by the beginning of the year and this, my first, What I learned post of 2017.

I get slightly antsy if I have absolutely nothing scheduled to look forward to

I’ve always known I need to schedule a holiday or book leave as soon as I’m back from work. So during my second week back, I wrote out all the public and school holidays on my calendars, and then I put in leave for the next two work days next to public holidays. That got me started.

I then identified good breakaway times and we’ve booked our first holiday for the year. Yay!

The same is true for scheduling socials so I scheduled a few for late Jan/ early Feb and that’s been great.

Spicy pork sausages are actually chili

I love pork sausages. There were some limited edition spicy sausages at the shops and I (optimistically) thought they’d be just spicy. Instead, they’re so hot none of us could eat them.

Have a things to buy page in your bullet journal

I started a page in my bullet journal called things to buy. So useful and I’m not sure why I didn’t do this sooner.

Now, when I’m at a specific shop, I check to see if I need anything from that shop.

These are personal things, not groceries, so they’re almost never urgent.

Online shopping is magic

I firmly believe that one of the reasons I’m a happy person is that I truly delight in small things. Like online shopping.

It really feels like magic to me.

The other day while emailing a friend, I remembered that I’d been wanting to buy a scale. I’m one of those people who needs the Strategy of Monitoring to keep my weight stable.

I went onto the site, ordered the first scale that was suitable and the next morning before I’d even left for work, the scale was delivered.

Magic!

More magical was that I didn’t have to go to a mall, find parking, and stand in queues. Yay. And double yay for free shipping!

The kids were totally ready to be in separate classes

Our twins spent their first two years of pre-school forced to be in separate classes. Then they had two great years in the same class at “big school” and now, in Grade 2, they’re separate again.

It’s meant much more organising on our parts (different days for PE, etc.) but it’s been good for the kids. They’re developing their own sets of friends and relationships with their teachers and best of all, no more “Mummy, K said this or C did that” 🙂

What did you learn this month?

My dream file, and why you should make a vision board

I’ve had this flipfile for seemingly forever. It’s my pre-pinterest Pinterest 🙂

Basically, in the days when I used to buy magazines, I’d rip out pictures of things that I like or would like to have in a home and I’d file them in a flipfile.

I recently came across my dream flipfile when I was sorting out my study.

As I paged through I realised that a lot of the pages I’d torn out are now reflected in my house. Not that I have an airy loft but the feeling of that airy loft is reflected in such and such corner or the bright pop of colour is reflected in that room. So awesome!

Look at this selfie I took one night with the timer on my phone and tell me if it reminds you of something.

I didn’t even realise it at the time but I’m reading like the woman in the picture above. I only found my file a few weeks after this picture was taken!

I’ve always wanted a reading corner with a chair, table and a big window. And I’ve got it!

When we came to look at this house, we walked up the stairs and when I saw that corner, I had a vision of me reading, or Dion reading bedtime stories to the kids. The previous owner had this corner arranged very differently and I remember saying that I had plans for that corner the minute I saw it.

The point of all this reminiscing is just to remind me and you to keep pulling out those pictures and to make your vision board or dream file.

If you’re feeling stuck on goals this year, maybe you need to get your hands cutting and pasting. The physical nature of putting together your board may be just the thing to get you unstuck.

Have a go and let me know if it helps.

How to make a vision board – part one and part two and part three

Have you ever made a vision board?

PS Fun fact – I even made a vision board for babies!

PPS I’d love to have you join me on My Year of Happy

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