Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reflections from "things I have learned in my 40s"

When you borrow an idea, it is important to give credit.  This article resonated for me - 47 Things I've Learned in my 40s.

Here are a few of the highlights that truly struck a chord with me:

2. Don't waste time worrying and moaning about stuff you have no control over. Let it go.
Working on this one.  
5. Listening to someone -- really listening -- is one of the most important, respectful and rewarding things you can do.
6. It's awesome to collect people throughout life, but you're truly blessed if you have a handful of besties who will always, always have your back. Even if you don't speak to them all that often, you know they're there.
7. The morning after is rarely -- if ever -- worth the night before.
9. Experiences are infinitely more memorable than stuff.
10. Confidence is beautiful and powerful.
11. Laugh lines are worth it.
12. It will always boggle your mind how some people will exceed the lowest imaginable depth of stupidity, incompetence and nastiness, while others will exceed the highest imaginable pinnacle of kindness, compassion and helpfulness.
I learn this more and more every day.
13. Don't live your life by anyone else's expectations, taste, hopes or dreams.
Stop.  Think about this.
14. If you rely on others for joy, you will never be joyful yourself.
Another lightbulb moment.
15. Grudges aren't worth it.
Life is too damn short.
18. Tell the little self-sabotaging voice in your head to bug off.
Not always in so nice of words either.
20. Being super-busy is not a badge of honor, importance, popularity or success. It's perfectly OK -- and actually healthier and preferable -- to be not so busy.
Work in progress.
22. Most bad behavior and bitterness is rooted in jealousy.
23. What makes you happy isn't the elixir that will make someone else happy.
24. It's not always someone else's fault. Sometimes you have to look in the mirror.
25. You can disagree with someone's opinions and beliefs, but it doesn't make them wrong. And it's probably best just not to go there when it has to do with religion, politics or love.
26. Friendships change over time. Sometimes they have an expiration date and they dissolve into fuzziness. And that's OK.
28. Stop waxing poetic about how good it used to be. Stop fantasizing about how good it might be in the future. Savor how good it is right now. Make your moments matter.
Right here. Right now.
29. It's nice to be thought of and remembered.
30. Sometimes you've gotta do stuff just because it's the right thing to do. Often it's uncomfortable. Usually it's inconvenient. But it's almost always worth it.
31. Elephants don't belong in the room. Having the tough conversation is ultimately better than living with the energy-sapping misery of resentment or misunderstanding.
32. Some stuff just isn't meant to be. The sooner you accept it and stop trying to force it to happen, the better off you'll be.
34. A good night's sleep is a gift from the heavens and can change everything.
Sleep. Truly a gift.
35. People will make time for you if you're important to them. And they pretty much won't if you're not.
This one has really stayed with me since I first read this list. This is so true.
36. Sometimes you need to suck it up hard in the name of love, peace and harmony.
38. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. Stop wasting energy on stuff that isn't your business. You just do you.
39. Accept, embrace and celebrate change.
40. Being polite and smiling genuinely can make a big difference.
41. Stillness is restorative and healing.
Still learning how to do this.
42. Take one day at a time, one step at a time. Break down challenges into small, do-able chunks. It will all get done.
43. Life is what happens while you're waiting expectantly for the next big thing on the horizon to come to fruition. Savor the everyday.
Again. Yes. Here I thought I would pare this list down significantly.  Obviously this list really and truly resonated with me.
44. If you push yourself and focus on what's good rather than wallowing selfishly in the negative, things will almost always improve.
45. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it isn't immediately apparent, but in time, and with reflection, the reason usually becomes clear. And often it's so extraordinary and breathtaking, it'll blow you away.
46. No matter how much you wish, you can't will things to happen. But often, there's a better and "righter" path that reveals itself if you keep your eyes and mind open.
47. Take a risk and have the guts to seize the opportunity, because it may not present itself again.
I haven't had the moments I thought I would have to sit down and do some yearly reflection around my birthday. I have to say, 42 was memorable, but not for all the right reasons.  I think this years' birthday will help me move a little differently and hopefully help adjust a few relationships I have in my life for the better.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Fabulous trilogy.

The best way to discover a trilogy is just after the final book is written.

I thoroughly enjoyed this series.  Well, except for about twenty pages written in italics. My older self now cringes when I think about how I used to use italics in the papers I used to write in  my undergrad degree.  Italics drive me buggy now, and I have to really work at not skim reading through them.

Especially as someone in the middle of the Narnia series with one child, and the end of the Potter series with the other, this is the perfect truly adult companion to them both. You can see how HP and Narnia influenced the world of Grossman, and I love the character and story arcs that took place throughout the three novels.  It wasn't a journey that I expected to go on, but isn't that the joys of reading? Taken together, these are great books that captured my imagination.  I could see myself re-reading them in a few years, and maybe seeing different layers that I didn't grasp this time.  The worlds are well crafted, and things aren't always clean and perfect.  Give this series a chance.  You won't regret it.

I tried to follow this one up with another recommended fantasy novel, and I couldn't.  I think I need to take a wee break from magical fantasy.  I feel like I have worked my way through some amazing literature from this genre in the last few months and a diversion would be good. I continue to love my library card, and our amazing librarians. In another life I am sure I would have been one.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Almost forty and two.

Even if this blog has evolved in to tracking knitting projects and the books that I have been reading, it is nice to have some kind of personal record as to where my head space was at a particular moment in time.  I have always made a point of trying to do a few entries around New Years, and of course, around my birthday.  I am hoping that this weekend we can at least make it out to White Rock.  The beach is calling my name, and I would love a plate of greasy fish and chips with my toes in the sand. Fingers crossed that this is what comes to be.

Another year has slipped by.  I look at runkeeper (an app where I track my walks) and you can tell where work, and therefore my life took a turn last year and got stupid busy. I pretty much stopped walking, and if I step on our Wii Fit board.. you can watch my weight slowly creep up during that period as well.  This April was a bit of a turning point - our trip to the island was amazing, and good for all of us. It was also a good mental reboot for me. Work is still demanding, but it isn't the brutal place I was in a year ago. We have transitioned to our new schools and daycares, and both boys seem to be doing better every day.  Kindergarten is such a transition year - a relief for the break in daycare fees from full-time care, but lots of learning and adjustments.  Not easy. At least the scale this morning finally went in the right direction. Proper portion sizes and getting enough exercise for me is tricky.I hope to continue on a slightly healthier path moving forwards.  Having both kids in so many sports helps to motivate me too - I need to catch up and I don't want to be looked upon as that mom that has let herself go while her kids are doing amazing physical things.

I will likely return and add more to this, when I have another moment.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Very quick read, indeed.

Reason why I love my library #50715

This counts as a book, right?

What to say about a book like this? I am glad to have read it, although it took me about 20 minutes, since it is a well thought speech.  Which is why I was able to get it from my library rather than having spent money on buying it.  That being said, the funds go to a worthwhile charity, so it is a positive thing... having read it in 20 minutes, you catch my drift.

There are some great quotes here, and some stuff she really nails on the head.  I can't remember any of the speeches from my university graduations, but I do remember watching the one at work when Sarah McLaughlin played the piano... that was magical.

Reading this, I like Rowling more. Reading this as B and I approach the last 300 pages of the Deadly Hallows makes me wish there were more HP books to read.  When I am back on a crime fiction kick, I will go back to her other books.. I am just not currently in that head space.  For some crazy reason, fantasy seems to be the alley I have found myself in.  A little Narnia, a little HP, a lot of the Magicians trilogy, and will be trying a book called "The Name of the Wind".  Add in Outlander and Game of Thrones, and crime fiction is not where I am at by any stretch of the imagination. For a quick read that you can chew on, definitely worth the time, especially if you have a borrowed copy.

Some random quotes from the book:

Rowling - Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two.  Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

Rowling - Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the found of all invention and innovation; it is arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

Plutarch - What we achieve inwardly will change outward reality

Rowling - We touch other people's loves simply by existing

Rowling - We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry al the power we need inside ourselves already:  we have the power to imagine better

Seneca - As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Page after page, and then left

I really wanted to like this book. I really enjoyed Aktinson's Case Histories novels...

Think a literary version of the movie Ground Hog Day with Bill Murray... you know then one where he gets to do one day over and over again until he gets it right?

Funny, I almost started this review piece with the first birth you recognize of Ursula, our heroine, and I completely overlooked the first chapter, when she dies assassinating Hitler and Eva Braun in a coffee shop... This is the story of Ursula, and her family outside of London just before WWI.  Her father is a banker, and the family is fairly well to do.  It could have been a family novel, but Atkinson delves in to the idea of multiple lives, and if you change just one thing, what will happen next?! Many, many times "darkness falls" in this novel as Ursula succumbs to death's embrace - whether it be in birth, childhood accidents, the flu, war... each life is a little bit different with a different outcome.  Characters are a little different each time, and Ursula experiences echoes of her past lives.  This book has some good things going for it, it is interesting, and I enjoyed parts of the stories.  It does get a bit repetitive, and the stopping and starting (even if you don't always start back in 1910) got to be a bit much for me.  Likely for the same reason most short stories do not work for me.

After I got 300 pages in to this one, the story line shifted to Nazi Germany, and the next series of lives, and I lost the will to continue.  I tried to skim read through to the end, but knowing I had more exciting books from the library on my bedside table and the book had to go back in the morning, the desire to complete the book was gone.  After peeking at the last page, any last burning embers to know the whole book vanished in a puff of smoke.

This seems to be another polarizing novel - folks to tend to fall in to one camp or the other.  Yes, it is a great idea, yes, Atkinson is a good author, but really truly, somewhere along the line I stopped caring, and that is when I stopped turning the page.  Her next novel is about Ursula's brother Teddy, and although he was an interesting character and I am sure he has quite the story, I think I will be skipping this one.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Should I lament that this only a trilogy?

If the Magicians was good... this book was even better.

I have no idea how I truly ended up on a magical fantasy kick, but when the books are this good, it is hard to move on to other genres again.

This book focused on both Quentin and the crew in Fillory, and in providing Julia's back story and how she becomes a hedge witch (a witch that has not gone through the traditional route through Brakebills, she didn't make the cut in the exam and she wasn't supposed to remember the experience, but she did). The Magician King is a book that shows some pretty decent character development and growth, and there are times you do think that Quentin is really annoying, and the you don't like Julia very much.  Then you get to see them grow, and change through this novel, and by the end, you do have affection and care, because they aren't the persons they were at the beginning of this series.

I love that the characters go on quests in these novels, and that the whole point of going on a quest is the adventure and you have to go in to it with an open mind because you don't know what you are looking for until it has found you.  These stories also talk about how important it is to trust your instincts, and sometimes, to realize that you really aren't the chosen one, and that it is ok.  This is also a journey of acceptance, of pushing boundaries, of losing everything and rebuilding yourself, and of having never lost hope...

Note to self: I really must try to write these reviews after the I finish the books (yes I work some magic with the dates sometimes) rather than when I am completely immersed in the Magician's Land, thoroughly engaged in it, and madly trying to read it as quickly as possible to find out how things work out.

I have placed a hold on Book 3, and I have mixed feelings that this is only a trilogy, and therefore I only have about 400 more pages to go before the conclusion.  Sigh. See previous note to self.  I am bending my own time here.  Who I am kidding... I love this series.  What a total, welcome surprise. Up there with Potter and Narnia for me.  Will definitely get me thinking over time about these kinds of novels and the role that they play, especially as I am reading both Potter (with B) and the Narnia series (with C) and it all comes together nicely.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

No, I think it was me all along....

I am not quite sure how I stumbled along this one (trolling through the library lists perhaps), however, it was a surprisingly great read.

Right now, it feels like certain things are crossing my path because it might just be the right time that I am open to the "messages".  A few examples:

Move differently. (working on this one, see the earlier blog that I started to think about this).

Balance.  (a theme of my 40s that seems to be a little easier to contemplate as our kids are getting older).

Healthier lifestyle.  This has been a lifelong struggle for me.  Reading this book was liberating in sense.  I really appreciate her honesty in talking about her body, her personal relationships, her relationship with food, and how she changed her course. I have always been a little overweight.  Maybe what attracted me to this book was the picture on the front.  That girl could  have been me.  Hence, when I was thinking about a title for this post, that was the most natural thing to call it. Andie talks about the times she felt like her body betrayed her (for not being the right size) and how she emotionally ate.  She talks about how food was a constant companion when her life fell apart, and how things came to a head when she was 20 and ate her entire birthday cake.  There are some food excesses that I just can't relate to, but I can relate to feeling like my body betrayed me, the resentment I have felt when clothes shopping, and the love I have felt for shoes because I have been a "10" as long as I can remember. A lot of the time I don't look in the mirror, and I am critical of the images I see in photos.  In this current moment, I am starting small.  My goals are to eat more vegetables, and to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. I have used my elliptical more in the last week (only twice) than I have in the last year since I bought it (which was twice, okay, equal amount as of the writing of this).  I am worth the time to take better care of myself. I want to weigh less. I want to feel better in how I look in shorts.  I want to feel like I have more endurance, and more physical capability. I want to zipline and not be worried about my overall weight. This book will help because it showed me a success story.  Every piece won't match, but the decision that Andie made, the times she stumbled, and her honesty will help me in my journey.

Worthiness. I am worth a haircut, going to massage therapy on occaison, and for a good coffee.  I am worth taking the time to take proper breaks, to take time out to walk, and time out to read my favourite books.  It is so easy to put yourself last, and take care of everyone else's needs (even the house and that cat), but it is also important to take care of ourselves.  We are so worth it.  Why are we training to feel that we aren't, even when we are bombarded with messages that say "just do it"???

Saying No, and being okay with it. This came up on Friday in a PD workshop that I was in, and it comes up in life as a woman, and a mom.  Maybe even as a people pleaser in the past who bent over backwards to help people.  It can be okay to say NO.  People do it all the time.  It is part of being honest, and setting ourselves up for success.  Sometimes we need a reminder about this.

Andie also has a blog, and there are some interesting tidbits. I am glad I read this book, I am glad to be in a place where I can take and leave the parts that work, and don't work for me.  I have thought about this book for a few days, and I am hopeful my bookclub may want to read it... I think that a truly interesting and vulnerable conversation will happen through this (not that we don't already have some pretty great conversations). It is also funny how after you read a very personal story like this, you do feel like you could be on a first-name basis with a complete strange.  Telling our stories is important.  It is part of our process, and it can truly help other people who need the inspiration.