• Brettney Douglas-Al Hindi

Five Books That Can Help You Level Up During Quarantine

With a mandatory quarantine in place across the country during this global pandemic known as COVID-19, keeping ourselves sane and productive has been no easy task.

Most of us have been forced into becoming master multitaskers, all while trying to stay calm and collected about the uncertainty of what the next few weeks and months could bring.

I'm a stay-at-home mom, and freelance writer; but overnight I added an additional title, and that was a homeschool teacher for my four-year-old son who is out of school until God knows when. These days, my schedule is even more jam-packed than it was before, as I'm trying to stay on top of household chores, keep everyone happy and healthy, stay inspired, and follow the lesson plans that my son's school so graciously put together before the shutdown.

Before the Cornovirus, I had no problem staying home because I'm a homebody, but now since I'm being told to stay home-I'd like to go out. The cabin fever has been at an all-time high but given the severity of the virus, I am taking all precautions to keep myself and my loved ones from harm's way.

An hour a day we have quiet time, and during that short window of bliss, I've decided to revisit one of my childhood favorite activities; reading. Reading has served as a great escape to breaking up the monotony of my new normal, and as a source of inspiration to help me level up once all of this all over.

Here's a list of some of my favorite books:

1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love is one of my favorite reads because it's a real-life story about the author, who went on a year-long sabbatical all alone, traveling the world (Italy, India, and Indonesia) to reconnect with herself after a divorce. On the outside, she looked like she had it all- a beautiful home, a perfect marriage, a successful career, but inside she was not fulfilled; and decided to give it all up to figure out what she really wanted out of life. This book is so relevant to what we are experiencing right now. It's about going back to the basics and rediscovering what really matters in life and that is love and connection. If there is nothing else that we can take from this, I hope that we enjoy the luxury of right now and take time to do some self-work and discover what it is that sets our soul's on fire and brings us joy.

2. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming is an autobiography by none other than First Lady Michelle Obama. It is an incredible book about how Mrs. Obama defied the odds from growing up in the Southside of Chicago and all of the experiences that's she's endured good and bad that have shaped her to become who we know her to be today. Her memoir is such a powerful story of resilience, success, and how she and her husband, President Barack Obama changed the narrative as the first African American President and First Lady of the United States of America. If that doesn't serve as motivation I don't know what else to tell you!

3. Year of Yes by Shona Rhimes

Year of Yes is pretty self-explanatory. The uber-talented creator of some of my favorite guilty pleasures: Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, and Executive Producer of How To Get Away With Murder, penned this intimate and hilarious account of how saying "yes" changed the trajectory of her life. She spoke candidly about being an introvert, and how she would often decline invitations out of fear until her sister brought to her attention that she "never says yes to anything." That simple statement struck a chord in her, and she took it as a personal challenge to say yes to opportunities that come her way, and learning that saying "yes" to yourself comes in different forms; you just have to the confidence to be your own narrator without apologizing for who you are.

Talk about dedication! Can you imagine what your life would look like if you stepped outside of your safety nets and bet on yourself?! Try it! Most of us are stuck at home anyway, why not plan on building your own personal empire now?!

4. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements is an oldie, but goodie. In this "practical guide to personal freedom," the author uncovers what he calls "self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering." Ruiz begins by explaining the framework of our world, and its unrealistic expectations and pressure to conform to a certain way of thinking, without our consent, and how that leaves us feeling powerless and unhappy. He challenges the readers to adopt a new belief system or new agreements that break these harmful thought patterns and bring back our personal freedom of choosing the life we want to live.

They are as follows:

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word

The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

I believe if we apply these to our lives, we can help change the trajectory of our lives in ways that we cannot even imagine. It all about intention. We have to decide every day what we want out of life and reject anything that does not align with what we desire.

5. All Along You Were Blooming: Thoughts For Boundless Living by Morgan Harper Nichols

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved reading and writing poetry. A few months back, I stumbled upon this artist's work on IG @morganharpernichols and was blown away. Morgan's posts of her art prints with pages from her collection of poetry have helped me on some of my toughest days, especially during this time of heightened emotions. Her words, her tone of voice so simple, yet profound, have literally spoken to my heart and comforted me when I was feeling down or uneasy, and could not find the words to express how I was feeling. In so many ways, I felt like this book was written for me; it's given me so much hope and made me feel like I was not alone, at what felt like my loneliest moments. It taught me that even when we feel like we're at our wit's end, that there is still more to be done; that there is always a silver lining, a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you are seeking hope, comfort, restoration, and/or peace, I kindly suggest picking up this book and diving in headfirst, heart open to receive all these beautiful gems.

While we are all challenged in some way, given our current circumstances as a nation, remember that you are not alone and that we are all in the same boat.

Whether you are working from home, homeschooling your children, taking classes online, working on the frontlines as an essential worker, or simply just picking up the pieces of what's left of life as you know it; remember that you gotta keep going!

It's easy to resort to fear or feel discouraged and lose your joy right now, but why not cling to faith and tap into your peace?

Find ways to pour into your spirit, to be productive, and to practice stillness.

Use this fallow time to level up (physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially).

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