Cozy up Your Reading Nook – A Book Lover’s Dream


The reading nook. Every home deserves to have one in this chaotic day and age. When the day is done and the stress of the outside world starts to slowly dissipate into the unknown, the last thing we want to do is to try to relax by once again staring at a smartphone screen or watching TV. Instead, you need to rest properly on an emotional, physical, and psychological level.


A good book can help you achieve this and so much more. Whether it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon just for you, or a quick reading session before you turn in for the night, letting yourself go to the comfort and serenity of a romantic reading nook with a book in hand can be a truly restorative experience. Here is how to create such a setting in your own home.



Start with the lighting


Aside from mere illumination, lighting in interior design is used to set the mood in the room, accentuate certain features, and help the right kind of vibes imbue the space with that romantic homey vibe. When it comes to designing the perfect reading nook, lighting will play a vital role.


You could just read under the base overhead light that’s already in the room, but that would be a terrible waste of your riding nook’s aesthetic potential. Instead, turn off the chandelier and introduce dedicated lighting for this area. When you’re reading in the daytime, natural light should gracefully fall onto the seating area without making it too hot and without producing a glare from the windows and the surrounding decor, so be sure to balance the light beams with beautiful curtains or natural blinds on the windows.


The setting area is your focal point


Of course, the main spot in the reading nook is the seating area, and this can be anything from a cozy armchair with an ottoman, or even an entire couch other family members can enjoy with you. No matter the arrangement, this piece of furniture should be designed for maximum comfort – meaning that it should not only be fluffy, but supportive as well.


Choose sturdy leather upholstery for skeletal support, and then accentuate with throw pillows and cozy blankets later on. Complete the seating area with a wooden side table where you can lay down your book and other reading necessities.


Cozy up the setting with layered rugs


They are key to creating a reading nook of ultimate coziness (go ahead and write that in stencil on the wall behind it), lies in leaving no surface uncovered, especially the floors. There is a distinct difference between a reading nook with bare hardwood flooring, and one that enjoys the cozy vibe emanating from the fluffiness of the surrounding carpets.


With that in mind, consider positioning your armchair and ottoman on a soft Moroccan, and then layer strategically by putting accent round rugs right beneath your feet to create a cozy landing spot. It’s little accents like these that will make a beautiful, romantic reading nook come to life.




Surround yourself with books


Whether or not you will be able to truly surround yourself with books will depend on the amount of space you’re working with – sometimes, a reading nook is just a chair, a free standing lamp, and a corner. Nevertheless, there is always a way to strengthen that “intimate oasis” feel.


For instance, you can mount floating shelves on the walls next to you and put the books on your reading list on them so that you always have a good read close at hand. If you have plenty of space, on the other hand, then go ahead and position your seating arrangement right next to a grand bookshelf.



Don’t forget about pillows and throws


Now is the time to add the finishing touches to your romantic reading nook. Your lighting scheme is spot-on, the upholstery is not too soft or to rigid, the floors are radiating coziness, now you only have to add pillows and blankets to the mix.


This might seem like a simple task, but bear in mind that these additions can easily clutter up the look, so be frugal in your approach and only add the pieces that will enrich the reading nook in aesthetics and comfort. This can be a single chunky-knit blanket complemented by two accent pillows – one to support your lower back, and one to support good head posture.


The reading nook doesn’t get the praise and recognition it deserves in the modern household, and it’s time we brought this amazing restorative piece back into our daily lives. With these tips in mind, you will have no problem creating a romantic reading nook the entire family will love.





Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She’s passionate about fashion, home décor and healthy living. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”




The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time


The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time

by Arianna Huffington

I remember those blurry, busy, bootstrapped two years in my 20’s. The years I proudly talked about for years following. The years that sleep became the lamb I sacrificed in the name of productivity. The days I spent fueled by caffeine and high endurance workouts, desperate for the boost. I was desperate for clarity and patience. My patience was gone, and my head was fuzzy 90% of the time. I became edgy, irritated and intense. Those around loved it. I was celebrated. I was admired. I was bloody exhausted. Why did people enjoy feeling this way? Why does our world celebrate such a shallow state of being?

I finally had enough. Guess what happened? I slept all the time. People liked me more. I was kind. Most people even teased me for being so outrageous before. How had I let that happen? We live in a world that celebrates depriving our bodies and souls of nightly recharging. Nobody enjoys it, and statistically it’s a misconception that we are more productive. Delaying sleep in the name of effectiveness is a dangerous delusion. It’s a delusion we all know deep down to be false, so why do we ignore the facts?

Arianna Huffington does a brilliant job of explaining the pathology of what has happened in our culture to bring us to such a volatile state. She backs her war on sleep deprivation with a mound of science and data. She will shock and enlighten you. Then, she will help you fall back in love with sleep. Sleep is the sexy lover that always gives and never takes. It’s healing, refreshing,  and vital to our well-being. Let’s be fierce on this topic. As an entrepreneur, you are your greatest asset. Take care of it. Good night.


Annalee Sirmeyer was marinated in Texas and cooked in Florida.  She is a wife to Patrick, mom to two dogs toddlers and two dogs, which means she is also a qualified hostage negotiator.  She is a connoisseur of excellent books, podcasts and TED talks.  She is the Chief functionalist of Indigo Work Space opening 2018.

Fierce Inspiration: Lessons from ‘Braving the Wilderness’

Fierce Inspiration: Lessons from ‘Braving the Wilderness’

By Brene Brown

We aspire to be passionate, dynamic, and capable women.  We also know that in order to fulfill our potential, we need to connect with others and help each other grow in confidence and skill.  In her latest book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, Brené Brown challenges our thinking about what it means to be connected in the world. Brown, a University of Houston research professor, suggests that in order to be our best and most authentic selves, we need to stop trying to fit in and let ourselves feel more vulnerable and uncomfortable. We need to show up as our true selves and engage with others in ways that will build true belonging.

This is a far cry from the stereotypical networking event where we awkwardly attempt to meet as many people as we can and make small talk while balancing a canapé and a cocktail.  It’s also far removed from the idealized social media world where selfies show a beautiful, perfected, idealized version of our selves.
Brown’s message is about reconciling our unique human nature with our interactions in the world.  She uses the term “wild- hearted” to describe those who brave criticism, fear and hurt. They stand alone and with others. They are tough and tender, excited yet scared. The wild-hearted person sees the struggles and injustices in the world, works to better them and is still able to find joy in life.

In her book, Brown guides us to be more wild-hearted.  Here are 4 lessons from Braving the Wilderness.


Write yourself a permission slip.

It seems silly, but you might need to write yourself a permission slip. “Permission to be excited, goofy, and have fun.”  The inner work of becoming your true self is often lonely and unfamiliar, yet we don’t have to be so serious. Sometimes you will feel uncertain, and facing our biggest fears can be difficult and even frightening. You don’t have to do this work from a dark, dreary place. Being authentic can be joyful.

We’re already connected to others through our spirit of humanity and love.

There is much to divide us in this world such as gender, race, and politics.  If we can look past those things, we are reminded that we are alike in crucial and transformative ways.  We all want to be part of something meaningful and something that is bigger than we are. We need to come back to our common humanity and find trust and respect. If we are connected at the spirit, we are free to be ourselves and engage at a more meaningful level.

We need to engage with others in authentic ways.

Brown encourages us to get to know and understand people we dislike or distrust, or those who challenge our ideals.  She reminds us that “it is not easy to hate people close up.” Be willing to question them. “Tell me more.” “Help me understand why this is so important to you.” “Help me understand why you don’t agree with this idea.”  We can be civil, speak the truth, and listen to each other. In this way, we can build real understanding and find ways to come together.

Show up for collective moments of joy and pain so we can bear witness to the inextricable human connection.

Attend funerals.  Help others during times of disaster. Connect with people who are struggling or hurting.  These are all times of human connection.  These things matter. But it doesn’t stop there.  Be a part of a crowd. Attend concerts or athletic events where people of all kinds come together and share in music or traditions. Sing the school song and feel the sense that you are part of a bigger community and that you are all bonded. Engaging with others in times of pain and join, especially engaging with strangers, Brown says, is like “lightening in a bottle.  We have to catch enough glimpses of people connecting to one another and having fun together that we believe it’s true and possible for all of us.” Collective joy and sadness transcends what divides us.

This is a book well worth reading.  It will stretch your thinking and help you come into yourself more fully. It will also help you to understand how we fall apart as a group or as a society and what we need to bring ourselves back to meaningful connection and the transformation that can happen when we work together in pursuit of something bigger than ourselves.


Michele Meier Vosberg, Ph.D. is an educator,  freelance writer and speaker. She is redesigning her life to live more simply, happily and well, and working to help others do the same.  She lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin.

Inner Kindness – The Cycle

Inner Kindness – The Cycle pin

As you move through the three key elements for a transformative deep dive into self-acceptance, connection and understanding think of it as an ever flowing, ever changing cycle. At the core of the cycle is inner kindness, of course, surrounded by the three elements we’re about to discuss. This is sort of an unusual cycle because it can move forward, backward, sideways, upside down, diagonal, side to side and all at once. It’s a practice. But the point is that they are all in play if you’re cultivating inner kindness, working together, ebbing and flowing, building up momentum to attain and maintain the deepest level of inner kindness.

To begin the process let go of the need for this to be perfect. There will be no point in this journey that will feel like your work is done, only that you have arrived at a place of peace and ease.

You will experience immense joy, unexplainable magic, limitless confidence and the feeling of finally being fully alive. Sit with that. Thrive off of it. And most importantly, always, always, always keep learning. Your needs are constantly changing. Your desires are forever evolving.

Let your inner kindness guide you to where you need to go. Know that this is a lifelong process; Savour every moment.

Lastly, accept the stuff that doesn’t feel so good. Do your best to avoid shutting down when you start feeling things you don’t want to feel or thinking things you don’t want to think. That won’t work here. When you start shining light on the dark spots it can get a little messy. If you’re feeling, you’re doing the work that needs to be done. Commit to going through, diving in, and consciously cracking yourself wide open.

If you’re ready for a transformative deep dive into self-acceptance, connection & understanding, keep reading.

The world is chaotic and we’re expected to keep going. The pain is deep. The struggle is real.

Trust me, you’re not alone. In my early twenties, I found myself in an abusive relationship, filled with anxiety and completely alone. It was only when I discovered my saving grace that I was able to pull myself from the deep dark hole I was in.

With Kindness captures the unmistakable power and necessity of diving deep into a state of inner kindness. All the hope without all the struggle.  If you’re looking for transformation, this is it.

You deserve a life filled with conditionless self-acceptance, meaningful connections and a deep understanding of yourself and your world. The 3 key elements within this book are made up of revelations that will launch you into a life filled with all that you desire. Are you ready?

Excerpt From:

With Kindness: 3 Key Elements for a Transformative Deep Dive into Self-Acceptance, Connection and Understanding by Stephanie Mulhall
Available on Kindle
Hardcopy release: June 2017

Stephanie Dawn Elizabeth MulhallStephanie Dawn Elizabeth Mulhall is a certified Inner Kindness Coach and Founder of With Kindness Coaching. She is a spirited light chaser and lover of all things human. She has worked with hundreds of youth both one-on-one and in group settings, guiding them to the realization that they are inherently and unconditionally worthy. Her work is both inspired by and created through the lessons she has learned from them. She believes that her sole (and soul) purpose in life is to connect and to empower.

Finding My Way Home Through Writing

Woman hands drawing or writing with ink pen in open notebook on white wooden table. Bird eye view.


When I was a little girl growing up in Brooklyn, New York, my father used to take me to Prospect Park all the time. Each time we’d go, I would sit under the same big oak tree and wonder what my life as a grown-up would be like. My parents were very socially conscious and civil rights activists. They were educated, cultured, and interesting people. They exposed me to all things cultural: art, music, and literature. My father bought me a deck of Authors Cards and I had to memorize each author’s name and recite some of their works, eg. Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems: Foreign LandsMy Ship and IMy Shadow, all from A Child’s Garden of Verses. These assignments were part of my “homeschooling” and these lessons have stayed with me and probably added to my already active imagination, as I imagined my life in the future.

Early on I fancied myself a writer. I would sit at my desk, that my father had built, and type on my little typewriter. I was never really typing anything of note, but I felt like a “girl of letters.” As I tapped away at the keyboard, I wrote stories about people, places and things. I wrote poems and some were published in what was known as the School Bank News, which was a hometown newspaper published by our neighborhood bank. These were short poems about spring, the weather, the seasons, rainy and sunny days. I would watch programs on our  TV about female writers and imagined myself living in the “City” writing, meeting a wonderful man, getting married and living happily ever after….. well, you know, I lived in my little head a lot.

As I got older, I still had a very vivid and keen imagination. I was now writing short stories in my English classes. This all against the backdrop of a burgeoning civil rights movement, with events daily unfolding on our one TV. The Montgomery bus boycott, the emergence of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, the KKK, Birmingham bombings, lynchings, water hoses. All of these events would soon affect my writing. What I wrote began to change from soft musings of my future life to thoughts about the changing times. Soon the authors I would be reading included Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Dorothy West, and Mary McCarthy, a mixture of black and female authors, that helped to enrich and form my thoughts about life and the way I viewed the world. We would suffer many losses in the 60’s. I didn’t really understand what was going on. I was young and at the beginning of everything.

As the 70’s approached, I began to lose my uncles right into the 80’s and 90’s. These were all sad events in my life. I lost my grandmother in the early 80’s and my godfather, too, both while my parents were serving in the Peace Corps. These last two losses I considered to be the greatest at that time as they were the two people I was closest to, especially my Nana, who seemed omnipresent. I would mourn her quietly for many years.

When my father passed away in 2005, my life stood still. I had been daddy’s little girl and he was the one who inspired me to write and write and write. His mother, my grandmother, had been a schoolteacher and she was a published author in her little town of Lowmoor, Virginia. My favorite aunts, Anice and Ailleen, as well as my father, often mentioned how I reminded them of her. After his death, a light in me went out. I would mourn him sorely and quietly up until the day that my husband became ill in December 2007. I’d built up a lot of hurts inside keeping everything in, but the pain from the loss of my dad and others became a “backdrop” pain that never really went away.

So it seems fitting that after the death of my husband Chuck, I would eventually put pen to paper and express my feelings of enduring loss, sorrow and the rebuilding of my life. Only this time, after having lived a full and rich life, I could now share my experiences, advice, and wisdom with others.

When I look at the trajectory of my life and the road that I’ve traveled, full of losses, pain, and quiet grieving, I can see how I’ve arrived at this place. Now that I’ve felt the pain and endured the suffering, I feel free.

This is the road that has led me home.


Yvonne Broady, She is Fierce! Contributor

Yvonne Broady

Yvonne Broady was raised in Brooklyn, New York. She received a BA in Art Education from C.C.N.Y and an MA in Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. After graduation she taught elementary school, was an arts liaison, produced and directed children’s musicals and simultaneously designed jewelry that was sold in various boutiques and department stores across the Northeast. Yvonne also wrote freelance reviews for local papers on fashion, style and New York City restaurants. Her love of people and style led her to produce several cable TV shows. New York Highlights, which aired from 1984 to 1991 was a talk show covering a variety of topics including financial management, male-female relationships, mother daughter relationships, entrepreneurs, spirituality and other themes from a mostly African-American perspective. The second show was The Way We Live. On this show she explored the interior design and lifestyles of people in and around the Tri State Metropolitan area.

After having lost her husband to pancreatic cancer in 2009, and finding herself faced with trying to rebuild her life as she dealt with excruciating pain and grief, Yvonne decided to write a book sharing her experience. Brave in a New World is a story of love lost, grief and recovery. This book offers a guide to those who are experiencing grief and pain after loss. It also explains the variety and complexity of feelings one has when they are mourning. Yvonne Broady shares her journey through the grief experience and how she gradually learned to recreate a new life of her own.

Yvonne Broady has one adult son and resides in New York City.

Connect with Yvonne…, Facebook, Twitter

Meet Brenda Jackson: NY Times Bestselling Romance Novelist


Brenda Jackson has published more than 100 novels and novellas and has more than 3 million books in print!

Her professional writing career began in 1994 when she signed on with Kensington Arabesque. Her first book, Tonight and Forever, became a huge success, introducing the Madaris Family. Since then, she has introduced the Bennetts, the Westmorelands, the Montgomerys, the Masters, the Savoys, the Steeles and the Grangers, just to name a few.

She has received numerous awards and made many trail-blazing accomplishments by being the first African-American author to have a book published under the Harlequin/Silhouette Desire line of books and the first African-American romance author to make USA Today’s Bestseller’s List and the New York Times Bestseller’s List for the series romance genre.

She was a 2012 NAACP Image Award Nominee and has received numerous awards for her support of African-American sororities Delta Sigma Theta, the AKA and the Zeta Phi Beta. She is a strong believer in the power of education established the Josiephine Streater Threatt Scholarship Foundation at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida in honor of her grandmother. Over $150,000 has been donated to this Foundation to provide scholarships to students wanting a college education.

Brenda has received a Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the highest literary awards an author can receive in the romance genre.  She has received the Mary McLeod Bethune Community Service Award from the Jacksonville Alumnae Chapter of Bethune Cookman University, the Pioneer Award in Writing from Romantic Times Magazine and was recognized by the mayor and the city of Jacksonville as being a Trailblazer in the literary field.

In 2015, she was awarded the Humanitarian Award from Florida Memorial University and her book A Lover’s Vow, was selected by Essence Magazine as one of the best books for 2015.

In 2010, she collaborated with her son’s production company, Five Alive Films, to turn one of her books, Truly Everlasting, into a feature film.

Brenda was born in Jacksonville, Florida, went to William M. Raines High School and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Jacksonville University.  She married her high school sweetheart and has two sons.  As if being a prolific writer wasn’t enough – Brenda also worked in management for a major insurance company for 37 years before retiring to write full-time.


Brenda Jackson

You have more than 10 MILLION books in print and you’re a New York Times and a USA Today bestselling author, and you only fairly recently retired from a professional career as well… What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? 


For me my greatest accomplishment is being married 42 years to my husband.  I believe all my other milestones and trailblazing achievements are a result of having such a supportive spouse who believed and encouraged me to follow my dreams.  Gerald passed away two years ago of cancer and as I reflect how strong and loving our relationship was, I know that the reason I can write so strong about  love and romance is because of him.


You have broken so many records for African-Americans in the publishing world!   How did you break into the industry?


It wasn’t easy because at the time the concept of “Black Love” wasn’t readily accepted or embraced by major publishers.  Kensington Publishing took a chance and started a line of romance novels features African-American heroes and heroines called Arabesque.  I truly believed they were even shocked by how well the books were received and how they broke sales records.


You are also incredibly prolific, with more than 100 novels and novellas published – how do you consistently create new characters and stories?


My books are character driven versus plot driven.  That means I get to know my characters before establishing a plot or situation to place them in.  And I love writing about family, so the majority of my books the characters are connected to a family such as the Madarises, Westmorelands, Steeles, Bennetts, etc.  I get to know the family as well.  For me that make writing the stories easier and the plot I create for them flows quickly through my mind while I write.  And I love introducing new family members and their friends to my readers.


Which is your favorite character you’ve created and what about them speaks to you?


I think my favorite character is the first hero I created which is Justin Madaris from my first book Tonight and Forever.  A lot of Justin reminds me of my husband since I wrote about a man I would want every woman to love and admire.   And since Justin was my very first hero, he will always hold a special place in my heart.


You also give quite a bit back to your community, what began your desire to help those around you?  What charities have you chosen to work with and why?


Both my sons got degrees from Ivy League universities.  My oldest from Columbia University and my youngest from Cornell.  Whenever they needed anything all they had to do was pick up a phone and call home.  My husband and I were there for them.  I often wondered how it would be for a student who didn’t have the luxury of calling home when they needed something.  Who didn’t have parents they could depend on?  Or how it would be if they wanted to go to college and couldn’t.  That’s why I started my scholarship foundations.  I have 3 in my name and one in my grandmother’s name to honor her memory.  I’ve established the Brenda Jackson Leadership Scholarship; the Brenda Jackson Literary Scholarship and the Brenda Jackson Empowerment Scholarship.  All three are awarded to high school college bound seniors in the Jacksonville area.  The Josephine S. Threatt Scholarship is a full scholarship at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida.  The reason I chose Florida Memorial is that it’s a private Baptist college that my grandmother help support many years ago when it was founded in Jacksonville and the campus was in St. Augustine.


You have a chance to travel the country and meet new women all the time… what kind of woman most inspires you? 


Women who try to make a difference in someone lives.  Women who are successful and have no problem reaching back and sharing that success or inspiring others to be as successful.


If you could give a piece of advice to someone who is struggling to start their dream career, as a writer or in any other industry, what would it be? 


One of my favorite quotes isIf you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to build theirs.   My advice is to follow your dream and never give up.  Build your own dreams and believe in yourself.  You will never be successful if you don’t encounter failure.  But don’t let failing be the end result.  Keep trying and believe in yourself.  Believe that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to doing.  Then work hard to do it.  If you can perceive it then you can achieve it!




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