Do You See the Real World, or Just Your World?

The source for today’s post is the sermon my pastor, Josh Walt, preached yesterday. As I think I’ve mentioned, we’re going through the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, and what a fascinating and encouraging journey it’s turning out to be. Yesterday we were in chapter 7, and Josh started out by telling a story about Teddy Roosevelt’s childhood from his autobiography (named, aptly enough, The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt).

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Sympathizing with Others’ Stress

Did you know that fear of public speaking is, at least according to some sources, the number one fear in America? I was reminded of this strange fact by today’s podcast of  “Happier in Hollywood” that is hosted by Liz Craft (Gretchen Rubin’s sister) and her writing partner Sarah Fain. They interviewed a consultant who works with speakers, especially those who are going to appear at TED Talks. The consultant is very funny and helpful, with some really great insights. I’d encourage you to 

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Another Life Lesson from PBS’s “Victoria”

from “Queen Victoria Online Scrapbook”

I wrote back during Season 1 of this fabulous series (are you watching it? Whyever not?) about how one scene made it so achingly clear how quickly time passes, with moments of utter joy being over in a . . . well, moment. Season 1 ended with the birth of Victoria and Albert’s first child, Vicky, and now we’re about two-thirds through Season 2, with three of their nine children having been born and two more episodes to go. Both Jenna Coleman (Victoria) and Tom Hughes (Albert) are continuing on for season 3, for which all of us fans are very grateful. Over all of the scenes looms the specter of Albert’s death, which we all know is coming when he’s only 42, after he and Victoria have been married for a little over 20 years. All that passion, all that rivalry and head-butting, all that love—all gone. And Victoria left to live on as a widow for 40 years, double the amount of time she spent as a wife.

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It May Be Your Problem Even If It’s Not Your Fault.

You’ll be amazed to find out that I’m referencing a podcast today that’s not from Gretchen Rubin. My husband and I are huge fans of the Freakonomics franchise, the series of books and podcasts by the team of economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner who have made a career of challenging conventional wisdom about how markets and incentives actually work.

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Yet Another Great Historically-Based Film You Should See

Theatrical release poster accessed via Wikipedia.

No book review this week, I’m afraid. I never made it through the Yuvan Levin book, estimable as it is. I just ground to a halt with it, but I’m glad I got as far as I did. You, oh estimable readers, may have more of a mind able to absorb dense political analysis than I do. Levin’s a great guy, and very clear and thoughtful. If you’re like me and don’t want to wade through the thickets, here’s a podcast in which he appears: “Why Can’t We Have Nice Things?” hosted by the estimable (although somewhat giggly) Jonah Goldberg.

But Jim and I did finally make it to The Post, the new movie about the publication of the Pentagon Papers by The Washington Post. What a total treat! Any movie that has Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep is going to be great even if they’re just reading the phone book. I said to Jim as the credits came on, “I’d like to just sit here and watch it all over again.” So I’d urge you to go watch it, or at least make sure to see it when it comes out on Netflix or Amazon. I’ll tell you why I liked it

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Stand Your Ground without Being Disagreeable.

For some reason I got to thinking today about a situation from back in my grad school days, one which I may have written about before. For my master’s thesis and recital I had a teacher assigned to me for us to work one-on-one. She had extremely strong opinions about how my writing should be done; she was a writer herself, and she thought her process was the only way to go. So she informed me early on that I would have a certain number of pages due each week—five, I think. I protested. “I need time to research and think about what I want to say.” That was fine, she assured me. I might end up throwing those pages away, but I needed to do them anyway. Well, what a pain. I did what she asked, but in the end I wasted a lot of time, because I was being forced to follow her process instead of my own.

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Wear “Real Clothes” in February

How well I remember the morning that the tree crew arrived to do some work on our 75-foot oak tree at our house back in Virginia. Gideon was little, and I was home with him. I hadn’t planned on going anywhere that day, so I had on my grungy “at-home” outfit, an old t-shirt dress that was frayed around the edges. It was easy to pop on. I think I had taken a shower but hadn’t done anything to my hair, a sure recipe for the Wild Woman of Borneo look. (No disrespect intended to the real women of Borneo!)

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Lessons from the Government Shutdown

As I often say, this isn’t a political blog. If you want to see my opinions in that arena you can visit my personal Facebook page or read articles I’ve written myself over at one of my other websites, Intentional Conservative. I’m not concerned within the context of this article with the winners and losers in this rather farcical non-event endlessly trumpeted about from the Right and the Left. Instead, I’m sort of tickled at the way the RFNE illuminates human nature.

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Yet Another Anti-Sugar Rant

white chocolate candyHope I’m not sounding like a broken record here, but I wanted to share some recent experiences with sugar intake that might save some of you from needlessly depriving yourselves of grain products. Many if not most people who think that going gluten-free is going to make them healthier are buying into a false premise. This is not to say, and I want to emphasize this point, that there isn’t real gluten intolerance, with the most extreme of course being full-blown celiac disease. But most of us need to cut out sugar, not gluten.

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This Week’s Whopper of a Page-Turner

Well, I’m still plowing through The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left by the great Yuval Levin, a book about the warring philosophies of Edmund Burke (often seen as a great figure in the history of conservatism) and Thomas Paine (often seen as a proponent of radicalism in the pursuit of freedom). It’s an audio book of ten and a half hours, and I’m only at 4:10:59, so I’m not even halfway through. The ideas are really very interesting, and the writing is clear, but boy is it dense! I can only get through so much at a time. Every time I listen to a section I feel as if my mind is being expanded, but then I have to take a break.

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