It’s getting towards the end of the year, which is when I tend to start looking at my To Do list (aka a ‘goals’ list, or actually more of an ‘intentions’ list) and checking to see how I’m doing*. Am I on track to accomplish the goals I set out on January 1? How am I doing with the intentions I set way back then?

One of the barometers I use is my reading list. Lately it has been noticeably devoid of my usual suspects. Where is the urban fantasy? Science fiction? Good literature? Non-fiction? Classics?

Not on this girl’s nightstand.

Nope. It’s been a slew of romance novels, ranging from YA to Nora Roberts to Christina Lauren and on up, along with my daily dose of stoicism, and occasional hit of Pema Chodron.

<insert screech of record needle on vinyl>

Yeah, I know. Believe me.

Romance novels and stoicism? What kind of combination is that?

Apparently it’s exactly what I need at this moment in time.

Romance novels are guaranteed happy stories. Right now, I like knowing how the story will end, and knowing that it will end just the way I want it to—with people making mistakes, learning lessons, and becoming better (and more loving) people.

I like that message.

Stoicism reminds me not to take myself so seriously. It reminds me that I can only control my own actions, and that to try to control what I cannot is the way to insanity.**

Pema Chodron reminds me to breathe and to take a kind, curious look at what disturbs me enough to have me hiding my head in the sand with my romance novels.***

So for all my hand-wringing about not reading “good” books****, maybe that’s okay right now.

Maybe keeping my sanity is important enough to let the To Do’s and goals and systems and intentions go for awhile.

They’ll be waiting for me when I’m ready to face them again.


*I’ve been moving away from To Do’s/goals, and towards systems/intentions. I think it’s healthier for me, but it is a bit of change after so many years focused on Accomplishments.

**“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” I think Yoda understood that trying to control anything (situations, people, marsh creatures) would never turn out well.

***Not that I have yet found the courage to do this type of reflection, but it’s a good reminder.

****I define “good” books as those that challenge me, that give me insight into aspects of life I wasn’t aware of. I’ve read a number of “good” books that happened to have been romance novels, but those are few and far between.