Fitting in Work Around Other Work

open books, notebook, and coffeeWell, I just spent at least half an hour trying to find a quotation from the British classicist Mary Beard about her writing and I haven’t been able to do so.  It’s always a mistake to let a good idea go by and then have to hunt it down later. So I won’t be able to give you an exact quotation, but she said something like, “As I was sitting and working on my few sentences.” Mary Beard is one of my heroes; her book The Fires of Vesuvius is a true time-travel tool.

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Gretchen Rubin’s New Book Is Here!

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Live Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin, 2017. Link is to the book’s page on the author’s website.

I have now done something for her books that I haven’t for anyone else I can think of: Buying them, in hardback, as soon as they come out. This is number four in her series on happiness, habits, and now . . . heuristics? I can’t come up with a third “h” word. It’s actually a deep dive into her theory about what she calls personality tendencies. I’ve read the sections that have to do most with my own tendencies: Obliger and Upholder, and gotten bogged down with the Questioner and Rebel sections. I’ll come back to them later.

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A Followup to “Happiness”

Happy toddler in coveralls sitting in the grassSo, have you read or listened to Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After? C’mon–you need to! But in case you’re just not up for a whole book right now, here are two short web posts for you to try, one a formal book review on NPR and the other an interview with the author Heather Harpham on Gretchen Rubin’s website. I especially like the title of this second post: “”Habits of the Mind Far Outweigh Habits of the Body.”

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Human Relationships Are Complicated!

This morning I feel so full up of things to say that it’s hard for me to focus on one, but I’ll try. What with the looming crisis with North Korea, the Charlottesville tragedy, and my own media intake via audiobook and film, there’s just a lot of ground to cover. All, really, have to do with how we humans get along with each other–or don’t. Those pesky relationships!

I’ll start with the audiobook, because it focuses on the “Jerusalem” of human experience: those who are closest to us. (If you’re not familiar with the reference, it comes from the book of Acts in the Christian New Testament, in which the disciples are told to be witnesses of the Gospel “in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” So it’s a set of concentric circles, starting with where they are and moving out. I’ve heard many a sermon emphasizing that we need to build relationships and witness with our nearest and dearest first. If we haven’t done that, we have no business saying that we’re going out to the “uttermost parts.”) 

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How Did It All Go Down?

book cover for The Looming Tower, Al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11I ran out of books to read while we were on vacation, and since I didn’t have a phone or a laptop I had to make do with, like, actual printed books. We visited a great bookstore in Durham, NC, on our final weekend of the trip and this book was available at a reduced price. I’d seen references to it before and thought it would be an informative read, so I went ahead and grabbed it.

You might think that a book about the leadup to 9/11 would be a little stale and irrelevant, but you’d be wrong. I think of myself as being fairly well-informed about actual Islamic terrorism and its roots, values, and goals, but this book clarified those aspects of this threat. In addition, the book makes the main players so fascinating and human that you come away with a new understanding of how this whole horrible tragedy was brought about, both by its planners and executors and also by the failure of many in various law enforcement agencies to follow some obvious clues.

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Enter into This Book’s Own Little World.

Do you ever finish a book with a feeling of regret because now you have to leave its world? That’s certainly happened to me many times, and my son said once when he was younger that he wished he wasn’t such a fast reader, since he sometimes didn’t want a book to end. Yesterday, because of a memory brought to mind of a phrase from a 1960’s detective novel, I loaded up the audiobook version of A Clutch of Constables by the New Zealand mystery author Ngaio Marsh. I had returned a couple of audiobooks to Audible.com that I knew in my heart of hearts I was never going to finish and so had some credits to spend. Constables wasn’t available as a download through the library, so I went ahead and spent a credit.

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Read about a Sick Girl–and Count Your Blessings!

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends book coverLessons from a sick girl

Both images are from their respective Amazon pages; click on the image to be taken to the appropriate page. I used my two available Audible.com credits to get these books in audio form and am almost finished with Sick Girl. 

I’m not going to write much in the way of commentary here because it’s not needed. The book covers should tell you all you need to know about the worth contained between them. For those of us who are reasonably healthy, it’s good to be reminded of how precious that health and life is. It’s also helpful to be reminded of how utterly tactless we can be to those who are suffering. Even doctors and nurses–maybe even especially them–can add to the patient’s pain by their manner and words.

For an interesting and informative interview with Amy Silverstein about her second book (and her second heart transplant), go–where else?–to Gretchen Rubin’s recent blog post:

“I Simply Have to Put All My Energy into Hope and Life, Rather Than Trying to Avoid Doom and Death.”

That article will sell you on the books if nothing else will. You can get paper or digital versions at your library if you’d like. I was not able to find the audio versions at mine and thus went through Audible.

The Marie Kondo of Personal Organizing

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, available in many editions and formats. Link is to Amazon page. You can also visit the Getting Things Done website.

I’ve heard of David Allen and his “getting things done” (or “GTD”) method a number of times in the past and finally decided to read/listen to his classic book which first came out in 2001. I must have been reminded of him recently in some way, although I don’t remember just how, and I got the audio book from the library. It’s read by the author, who sounds very engaging and thoughtful, and I was really fired up by his introductory chapters. Then he kind of lost me as he headed into the chapters that delineate exactly how you’re supposed to do things his way. Most of his work has been done in the business world, and so many of his examples are drawn from that arena. I think that was part of why I drifted away.

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Don Aslett’s New Broom that Sweeps Clean

Clutter’s Last Stand: It’s Time to De-Junk Your Life! by Don Aslett. Available only in paperback and not available at the library, or at least not at mine. Follow the link to purchase a new or used copy; I promise you that it will be worth whatever money you pay for it.

I mentioned this book in Friday’s post when I discussed burdensome gifts, and I decided that I should feature the book in a post of its own. I mention Don Aslett fairly often; he is my cleaning and clutter-clearing guru. He’s actually more practical and useful than Marie Kondo. She is really pretty extreme, I must admit. She’s good for the initial burst of clearing out, but her daily routines are just too much. I’m sorry, Marie, but I’m not going to put my shampoo bottle away in a cabinet every day, thanking it for its service as I do so! The podcast By the Book explored what it’s like to actually live by Marie’s strictures and the hosts were unified in their assessment that she’s trying for the antiseptic more than the livable. (I’m not recommending that podcast as a whole, but this episode is pretty good.)

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Further Beanie Baby Thoughts

Beanie baby elephant on the grass surrounded by daisiesWell, once again I didn’t post an update on Monday as promised. So shoot me! We are moving along, though, and the electrician will make his second appearance for the week today, at which time the kitchen will have its lighting. So I’ll post a picture of that. Our dear family is being v-e-r-y tolerant of the mess. We’re in a trough right now where we can’t go ahead and finish unloading the furniture for the main living space because of the aforementioned carpet problem. Friday is the deadline for getting everything out of the pods; otherwise we’ll have to pay for an extra month.

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