Be Full of Desire but Easily Pleased–and Non-Judgmental

Man looking at moon with arms outstretchedIf you’ve taken my advice and subscribed to the “Happier” podcast with Gretchen Rubin and her sister Liz Craft, advice which I have given any number of times, then you have already heard this. But if you haven’t, or even if you have, then I’m passing some thoughts from this week’s episode along now with my own take added. (See note below on subscribing.)

Because, if you think about it, the description given in the title is the recipe for being a super-nice person who’s fun to have around. The point

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Are You Optimistic or Hopeful? Which One Is Better?

building girders framework

If you follow me on my personal Facebook page (which doesn’t have much of anything personal about me, confusingly enough, since I started it in order to post political articles back during the election), you’ll know that I’m a YUGE fan of a conservative columnist over at National Review named Jonah Goldberg. (Music fans may know that one of Bach’s most famous compositions is a set of pieces called the “Goldberg Variations.” An early ancestor of the estimable Jonah? Maybe so.)

Anyway, this Goldberg has, like everyone else in the known universe and beyond who has anything to do with any kind of media, started a podcast, called The Remnant. The second episode, once you get past some rather sophomoric attempts at humor, has an interview with Yuval Levin, a name I’m sort of familiar with because Levin is a contributor to NR, whose website I check many imes a day. (If you’re a friend of mine through my aforementioned personal FB page you’ll know

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“So we beat on, boats against the current. . .

boat against the current going into future. . . borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

This closing line from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald came into my head Saturday night as I walked out of the building after the final performance of the Cherry Creek Chorale’s wonderful fall concert. Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I very much dislike the novel itself. I can’t stand Daisy and don’t have the slightest idea why Jay Gatsby would carry a torch for her and even take the fall for her.

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A Blind Woman Sees Choice Clearly

The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar, available in several formats and through many outlets; both text and image links are Amazon affiliate links.  Visit the author’s website at She is a powerhouse on her chosen subject of choice–how we choose, how we can choose more wisely.

It’s a little unfair to characterize Sheena Iyengar as a “blind woman”–she would never refer to herself in that way. Her blindness (caused by retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited degenerative eye disease) is a tiny part of who she is. I couldn’t resist the title for this post, though. She is indeed someone who thinks, writes—and sees—clearly.

Sheena’s mark was made by her famous “jam study,” which I mentioned in yesterday’s post and have probably noted before. The research project, which she conducted as part of her doctoral studies, aimed to figure out where the sweet spot of choice fell: at what point does “enough” become “too much”? The magic number turned out to be around seven. More than that and people started getting confused.

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The Moderate Road in Making Limited Choices

Picture of our new kitchen counters, sink, microwave, backsplash, sink, and cabinetsAs an example of this moderate approach I give you our kitchen cabinets. They are high quality, with sturdy drawers and doors, soft-close hinges (which make a surprising difference in how I shut them), and solid-wood fronts with a beautiful factory finish. They are miles removed from the cabinets I made do with in my much bigger and more expensively-countered kitchen in our old house. And they cost about half of what we would have spent for the ones you order and then have to wait weeks for.

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That First Step Down the Road of Choices

Stunningly attractive brown and cream tileWhat did we do in the kitchen? The floor was the first step, locking us in to certain future choices.

This is not a home decorating blog. Having such a blog is like having a food/recipe blog, for which the hapless blogger has to come up with new projects all the time. Hey, once I’m done, especially on the decorating front, I’m done. And while I’m a fan of new recipes, I’ll let others do the day-to-day work of developing them.

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What’s Your Downtime Look Like?

downtime, flopping on couchI define “downtime” as time that isn’t directed to a specific task or end but is what I do when I take a break from my work. Usually I read something, these days from some news website or the other. Oh for the days when I just read books! That type of thing seems like a distant memory. I used to gobble up murder mysteries by the ton, and when I’d be eating lunch by myself at home and reading I’d keep on eating so that I could keep on reading. (This former habit may help explain why I used to weigh more than I do now.)

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Yet Another Book about Personality Types

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel, available in several formats, published Sept. 2017. Link is to the Amazon page; I mistakenly said in an earlier post that I could not include direct Amazon links in my reviews. Anne also has a very popular website, Modern Mrs. Darcy, which deals with, well, how to be a modern Elizabeth Bennet.

So last week’s book pick was the new Gretchen Rubin opus on her Four Tendencies framework; I hope you’ve read it by now. It is really, really good. I promise. And this week’s book was brought to my attention by Gretchen’s interview with its author, Anne Bogel. I am very sorry that I didn’t get in on the pre-order bonus that would have allowed me to get the audiobook and the paperback versions together for the price of one. Since I had an credit available I used that, but I wish I’d just bought the paperback or Kindle version.

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These Peaches Aren’t Gonna Poach Themselves.

Poached peaches in creamI have a book post to write later today, but for some reason this phrase has popped into my mind recently. It’s from a TV show of several years back called Leverage, and we really enjoyed it for awhile until the writing got so bad that we couldn’t stand it any more and stopped watching. But, in spite of all those flaws, it had some memorable characters, among them an ex-mercenary soldier kinda guy named Eliot Spencer who had a lot of facets to him. In one episode the team has infiltrated a wedding that involves some crime figures, and the soldier guy is acting as the catering chef, primarily because he can cook. He gets really into the whole thing, almost forgetting why the team is there in the first place. People are coming and the food isn’t ready! It’s more stressful than a hit job. I actually looked up the quotation above; it’s what he says to another team member when she’s trying to get him to leave the kitchen and get on with their investigation. (Season 1, Episode 7: “The Wedding Job.”)

But it’s a good mantra, something for me to say to myself when I’m doing my usual complaining about something that needs to be done instead of just, well, doing it, a surprisingly useful little jab to get me going. The outdoor mat is still sitting in our living room space because no one has swept off the patio? That mat isn’t gonna move itself. The space between the tile and the wooden threshold in the bathroom needs to be re-grouted? It isn’t gonna grout itself. The company that came in and measured my table for a custom glass top hasn’t ever gotten back to me? That phone call isn’t gonna make itself. (I know—I hate the word “gonna.” Got to be true to the quote, though!)

What could you just go ahead and do, right now, instead of letting whatever-it-is just sit?

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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