The Wonderful World of Podcasts

Really, folks, I don’t spent every waking minute reading blogs and immersing myself in the wonderful world of podcasts. I do have to remind myself, though, just as I used to remind myself about my book-reading habits, that sometimes taking in all this material from other people means that I’m not participating as fully as I might in my own life. That being said, I’ve greatly enjoyed getting into this whole new way to access a very old type of information, that of the spoken word. Instead of my just having the radio on to Colorado Public Radio and being forced to listen to whatever they’re droning on about, I get to choose my material to keep me company while I’m walking or cooking or cleaning.

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How Did My Time-Tracking Week Go?

I wrote last week that I had signed up for the Laura Vanderkam Time-Tracking Challenge for 2018, in which participants were asked to log their activities for one full week, 168 hours. I’m happy to say that I stuck to it for the full week this year (having almost immediately dropped out last January) and also thoroughly enjoyed reading Laura’s daily updates (link is to the first day’s post; you can then read the rest if you’re interested) on how she spent her own time. I used my fun app, toggl, which I’ve written about several times, most recently last week, and this morning I had a neatly categorized weekly report, all ready for me to look at and then send on to Laura. I managed to record a total of 167 hours and 22 minutes, so only a little bit of time fell through the cracks. How did I do? Here are some highlights:

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New Year’s Resolution #3–Be Assertive, Not Bossy or Wimpy

rose growing up through ticksSo far I’ve mentioned two New Year’s Resolutions: my main one, phrased as the question “Why deny myself the pleasure?” about not letting small annoyances spoil my enjoyment, and my desire to read more books in the place of online articles. In pursuit of that second resolution I’ve gotten s little over a quarter of the way through The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left by Yuval Levin, a serious, serious conservative intellectual who writes for National Review sometimes and who made an appearance on Jonah Goldberg’s podcast “The Remnant” recently. (I think I’ve just broken my own record for the number of links in a paragraph. Feel free to ignore them, but I would, as a sidenote, recommend the podcast. Be aware that Jonah does a fair amount of umming and what I can only describe as giggling, which can get a little annoying. I’ll be sharing more insights and books from his program; once you get past his mannerisms he’s very worthwhile.)

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Letting Go and Making Room

beautiful but way too complicated cross-stitch project.
This is the cross-stitch pattern I mention in this post. Isn’t it beautiful?

I had planned at some point do a write-up about all the different blogs and podcasts I follow, and maybe I’ll still do that, but perhaps it’s a better idea to deal with some of my favorites on a more individual basis. So today I’m taking ideas from two blogs, one a recent discovery and one that I’ve followed for some time. They each deal with the concept of simplifying and decluttering, and they each wrote a recent post that together form a unified whole. (I had a terrible time with that previous sentence.)

So the blog I’ve been following for some time is “Happy Simple Living” authored by Eliza Cross. If you follow me on my Facebook author page you saw the post I put up yesterday about her moment of truth in the garage as she contemplated two bins labeled “bookends.” She realized that those bins represented her dreams that someday she’d put them to use in a happy home; that those items represented the hopes she had going into a marriage that failed. I won’t try to re-tell the story here; I’d encourage you to follow the link above and read it for yourself. In the end, she decides to get rid of them. They represent a life she no longer leads, and they’ve been sitting unused for 11 years. Time to accept reality and move on.

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Time-Tracking Tools

As you know if you’re a regular reader of this blog, one of the bloggers/podcasters I follow is a woman named Laura Vanderkam, a speaker and writer whose area of expertise is the efficient use of time. She tracks her own time regularly, and every year she invites her readers to participate with her for one week. Last year I started to do it but quickly fell off the wagon, as I couldn’t figure out how to characterize time spent sitting at the table and talking to my husband while at the same time eating a meal.

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A Weighty Book on a Weighty Subject

Cover for The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll, originally published in 1994 by Wm. B. Eerdmans, now available in several formats, including audio. (If you follow the link and purchase the book I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

“The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” So begins this monumental work by the well-respected theologian and historian Mark Noll. The rest of the book is simply amplification of that one statement. Whatever your interest in Christianity, the Bible, science and the Bible, or why some churches are so fixated on the “end times,” you will find the answers in this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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You Crave What You Eat.

If I eat this I'll crave it!Interesting quotation from Anne Lamott in today’s Washington Post, “A Few Quick Thoughts on that Diet You Are About to Fail.” (I’ve read her non-fiction books but could never get into the one novel of hers that I tried. She can be pretty strong stuff, both in subject matter and language, but I have really enjoyed Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, and Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son.

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A Start on New Year’s Resolutions–Why Deny Yourself Pleasure?

mountains with power lines
Do I focus on the lovely mountain view out our patio door–or the ugly telephone pole and power lines?

My good intentions to write a separate post last week about each of my NYR’s went by the wayside, swallowed up in all sorts of family activities. I hope everyone reading this post had a great time with family and friends over the holidays, but I know it’s inevitable that for some of you this time of year is especially hard. The Ostroms over at Pinch of Yum lost their baby last year, and they struggled over what to do this year about various traditional celebrations. I know there are days to come when there will be empty seats at our table, but for now we’re all hale and hearty and thankful for it.

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Savor this Fleeting Day–and All the Ones to Come

Christmas lights at twilightI had every intention of getting this post written at least by yesterday, but the rush of company, outings, etc., got in the way. It’s Christmas morning. I’m up early because I couldn’t sleep, so here are the thoughts I wanted to get down, and I plan to get the newsletter out later today in between the biscotti-baking, the green-bean casserole making, and the last-minute gift-wrapping flurry.

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See This Great Movie about Churchill!

Hurry up, folks, and see Darkest Hour, the new film about the earliest days of Winston Churchill’s leadership of Britain as Prime Minister, before it leaves the theaters! (It should still be showing through the end of the year at independent theaters; we saw it last night at one such place. If you live in the Denver area you can see it there: the Chez Artiste Theater near Colorado Boulevard and Evans Avenue. After the movie you can just walk over to the India Oven Restaurant for a wonderful meal.)  If you don’t see it in time, buy Darkest Hour.

I wanted to see the film because of Gary Oldman’s performance, and it’s well worth seeing just for that reason and for the rest of the cast. (Downton Abbey fans will recognize the actress who plays Churchill’s secretary: it’s Rose! But with dark hair.)

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