Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Thoughts on Books

I've been listening to three different audio books recently that I've really been enjoying, they've been providing me with some great thought fodder. They are Grit by Angela Duckworth, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, and The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer.

Ms. Duckworth has been studying grit for years now, and wrote Grit about what she's learned about developing grit and how grit impacts our lives. I've realized that I have not really been focusing on grit in my life or in the life of my kids, and it's definitely a quality I could use a little more of. Or a lot more of. Probably a lot. I am definitely guilty of starting a ton of things and finishing very few of them.

She talks a lot about figuring out your... I can't remember what she called them, core interests? Or passion? I don't know, but the thing that you are most interested in, and doing daily, deliberate practice in that area. But I'm feeling a bit stuck because I don't know what that is for me. I like my kids and husband, and like reading books to try and improve in my parenting and spouse-ing skills, I like my dog, and like learning about dog training, I like writing, although every time I sit down to write I feel endlessly stupid, and I don't really feel like I have something life changing to write about,  I like reading case law, I like being outdoors and hiking, I like traveling and seeing new places, but there isn't one thing that stands out to me as something I am especially passionate about in a life-changing way. Anyway, for now I'm going to try and do daily, deliberate practice on writing, and just see what comes of that, if I start to feel like I have something to say, and if not, then... I give up on grit. Ha.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is, I think a memoir? He talks a lot about one particular time of his life when he was working with a movie producer to make a movie from another book he'd written, which definitely was a memoir, and his thought on story, and creating stories, and living stories, and our need for story. I really like the idea about being more deliberate about the stories we are living. I feel like often I move through the motions of life without really looking at what I'm moving towards or why I have the particular goals I have, and I want to be more intentional about what I'm creating.

The Untethered Soul is one that a friend told me she was reading and liking it, and it was available on Overdrive so I gave it a shot. I haven't finished that one yet, but so far it's been about being aware of how our thoughts are separate from ourselves, and how much our thoughts influence how we experience and react to the world. And how we limit or hurt ourselves by holding onto our thoughts about different events, and how we can create more energy and joy in our lives by being more intentional with our inner selves. Anyway, I will say it's more out-there than the other two books, I think my dad would have described it as "hippy dippy", it's definitely not a book that I would tell everybody in the world they should read and will love, but it's been useful for me to spend some time being more aware of my thoughts, and I'm liking it overall.

I have to go get Jefferson, and I promised myself I'd hit publish on this before I left, so that's what I've got today, an un-edited rambling about some books I've been listening to.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


"In permaculture there’s a principle called the “edge effect”. This is where two different ecosystems come up against each other and overlap. For many reasons, this region of overlap contains a great amount of biodiversity and productivity.

I love the edge effect in permaculture and I love the edge effect in life. I think about it every time we have a quarter moon and the light is meeting up against the dark. It’s the darkness of prior phases meeting up with the potential of what’s to come. Often during the quarter moons we experience that edge ourselves. Is there anything you are pushing towards or trying to step into? The space where we meet up against something new is the space where we have the opportunity to experience the most growth and productivity.

And dear luna...she reminds us to just keep pushing. Keep pushing towards light and manifestation - even if it’s hard right now. You are getting your most growth being on the edge and I whole-heartedly believe that you’ve got this."
- Heather from StoryLunaStory on Instagram

Heather's post on her StoryLunaStory account never fail to inspire me, and her post yesterday was no exception.  And it got me thinking about the edges in my life. About why so often I want to pull back from the edge, move away from areas of discomfort and stick to what feels known and safe. How often as I stand at the edge of the old and the new, looking forward into the unknown and then down or back into where I am or where I've been, I step back or stand still, for fear that when I start moving forward I won't know what I'm doing and will make a fool of myself. Because that edge area is grey and unsure, I'm still forming my opinions and figuring out my intentions. 

But there are several areas of my life where I've been feeling very stuck recently, and I'm realizing the course forward out of that stuck-ness might not always be direct and steady, that it's more likely a two-steps-forward-and-one-step-back type of journey. And if I don't make those two steps forward because I'm too afraid of needing to take a step back, I'll just stay stuck. 

So many parenting books I've been reading recently talk about the need for children to feel safe to make mistakes, to not feel like every misstep is a tragedy, but that the path to growth is lined with failed attempts. While it's been easy for me to see how that's true for my kids, I've been less willing to accept failure as part of growth in my own life. To stop letting those failed attempts feel so heavy and important and instead just let go of them and view them as an important part of my journey instead of proof that I'm not enough for the journey. 

Today, when I feel an edge between growth and stagnation, I'm going to try and resist that urge to pull back, and choose growth. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Just Sitting

Karl sitting with his sweet little cousin 

Last night around 1:00 AM I heard Karl calling out for me. Every night this week I'd been up multiples times with either Karl or Simon, it had just been a rough sleep week around here, so I was not too thrilled.

I went into Karl's room and he was crying that his feet were bothering him. I examined them with the flashlight, and could see a few little blisters forming around his big toe, the source of our woes. 

We tried lotion, medicine, soaking his feet in water, socks on, socks off, everything I could think of to help his feet stop bothering him enough so that he could relax and go back to sleep, but two and a half hours later he was still crying and they were still bothering him, and I was exhausted. 

Finally he calmed down enough to climb back in bed, but he still wanted me with him. I curled up at the top of his bed above his pillow and rubbed his back and hair while he continued to toss and turn and whimper about his feet. I was tired and uncomfortable, and just wanted to go and climb back into my own bed, but when I asked him if he thought I could leave he started crying again, so I settled back down and continued rubbing his head. 

I'd been praying for ideas on how to help him, praying for him to be able to relax and fall back asleep, praying for patience, and as I lay there I began to pray "Please just help me be here for Karl. Help me have the strength just to sit with him while he needs me"

Sitting with people through hard things has never been something I've been good at. I am a pretty terrible listener (which I'm really trying to work on, although I feel like progress is terribly slow) because I'm constantly trying to say or do something to "fix" things, or saying something related that just popped into my head, instead of just listening. I am much more comfortable doing something for someone, and I feel very inadequate in my ability to just be a presence. I never feel like I have the right thing to say, or even anything to say at all, and then I get nervous and start saying all the wrong things. So I avoid being the person that sits with people through things.  

But as I lay there, I thought about the idea of just sitting with someone, someone we can't do anything for other than be there with them. I thought of people who have sat with me through hard things. I thought of how uncomfortable it can be to be the person that is sitting there, but how comforting that presence can be sometimes.  I thought of our Saviors willingness to suffer all that we suffer, not because by doing so He was making it so we didn't have to suffer those hard things, but  just so that he could sit with us in complete compassion as we go through our valleys of loss and sorrow.  And as I sat there, uncomfortable and tired, I felt peace. I felt love surrounding me and Karl as we sat there together, just being there through the thing that was hard for him. 

Today I've been thinking about how little I take advantage of God's gift of being able to sit with me through hard things, being able to be there along side me. So often my prayer is "take this away", or "make this change", and I want to work on the "but if not, just be with me, just let me feel you near me as I go through this". I've realized that because of how He values my agency, He won't push himself into my life uninvited, and I haven't been inviting Him to sit with me through hard things, and what a loss that is for me. 

So, today, here's to me learning to just sit, and learning to let God sit with me. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Moving My Matter

Christmas tree hunting last Saturday
Sorry to Katy Bowman for pretty much plagiarizing the title of your book that I haven't even read (yet!) for the title of today's post. Her book, Movement Matters, looks really good, and I definitely want to read it soon, but I've been listening to her podcast recently, and thinking a lot about how I move and why I move and how I can improve both of those things.

For so long time I haven't taken as much ownership as I should for where I am physically. For the past 11 years I've spent a lot of time pregnant or nursing, and a lot of times it almost felt like my body belonged to those little people more than it belonged to me. These past few months I've been thinking about how I'm moving out of those years, and how my idea of "me" is a little less clear than I want it to be, in many ways, physically, mentally and spiritually, and how I want to move into the future more mindfully.

This last summer I had So. Many. People. ask me when I was due (it's a little insane how many people asked me). I have a really short torso, and do carry any extra weight right around my middle, so I do end up looking pregnant if I have any extra weight on me. I think I was really lucky in that my metabolism was really high when I was pregnant and nursing, so I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted during those times and stay at a pretty comfortable weight, but as soon as I stop nursing the weight starts to climb back up, because I have a hard time stopping the habit of eating whatever I want... So my weight had been slowly climbing the last year, and I finally decided I wanted to change my habits and figure out how to keep my weight where I am comfortable sans pregnancy and nursing.

But I'm realizing I'm not really all that good at the whole fitness and nutrition thing, so I'm trying to start learning more and moving more, but I want to do so in a way that is sustainable and that fits who I want to be. For now I'm not planning on joining a gym, I have always hated gyms, and am not fond of the idea of leaving my kids to go run around, and am hoping to find ways to do things with my kids instead. This may end up being a terrible idea, and I may join a gym in the future and become a gym convert, but I want there to be a way that fits me better.

I've been looking at GMB programs a lot recently, specifically Elements and Focused Flexibility, and I like the focus of the company, and that I could do those programs at home without buying any equipment, and that Jefferson and Duncan (and probably Karl as far as his attention span goes) could do them along with me if they wanted, so I think I'm going to try starting with one of those and see how that goes.

Katy Bowman also keeps telling me I need to walk more, which is very true, but I struggle wanting to go outside when it's below 50 degrees outside... Which is going to be most of the next 6 months, so I need to get over that somehow. Anyway, this post was pretty ramble-y, but I guess this is a "here is where I am, and I'm trying to make a plan to be somewhere else" post.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Creating Space

The other day I read this quote by Ezra Taft Benson:

"The biggest business of any life is making decisions. While one of the greatest gifts of God to man is … the right of choice, he has also given man responsibility for these choices. … We put our own lives in the direction of success or failure. We may not only choose our ultimate goals, but we may also determine and decide for ourselves, in many cases, the means by which we will arrive at those goals, and by our industry or lack of it determine the speed by which they may be reached. This takes individual effort and energy and will not be without opposition or conflict."

Superimposing this quote onto all I've been thinking about technology and how I'm using it has left me thinking about how I'm creating space in my life for my goals, and trying to make sure that I'm using technology in a way that is helping me reach those goals. I definitely felt a little pang of regret when I read the quote feeling like I have not really put forth sufficient industry towards reaching my goals often in the past, and it gave me the motivation to renew my focus on what I want for my future.

One of the themes that the Bored and Brilliant podcast and the End of Absence talked about a lot was distraction, how we are pulled in so many different directions at once, and how really our brains aren't that good at multi-tasking. So the past couple days I've been trying to focus on doing just one thing at a time. I guess so often I just feel pulled in so many directions at once, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed. So when I'm doing the dishes, I try to just do the dishes, and finish them, before I start doing something else, or even thinking about doing something else. When something I need to do comes to mind I try and push it aside and just focus on what I'm doing at the moment.

It's harder than I thought it would be, and I still get side-tracked a lot, and obviously it's not always possible to just do one thing and finish it before getting pulled to something else, but it has given me a little more space for just thinking, thinking about life, and goals, and sometimes nothing particularly important,  but it has actually been pretty nice. And when I am able to really focus on one task I do feel less frantic.

I think the highlight for me was today when I was feeding Simon his bottle, and I just sat, and watched him eat, and studied his little eyes and face, and just soaked up the feeling of holding his tiny body close to mine, and it was really nice. It's made me really want to be more present and mindful, and it's definitely a habit I want to keep working on.

I'm still working on more ideas for creating space for working on my goals, but I guess I'm starting with mental space :).

Book Thoughts - The End of Absence by Michael Harris

I want to use this blog to kind of keep track of the books I read this year, but I'm not really sure how I want to do it, so I'm trying a few different things here...

This week I finished "The End of Absence" by Michael Harris, and while I'm not sure I whole-heartedly recommend the book, I did like the thought-paths that reading it started me down.

It has definitely left me evaluating how and why I use the technology I use, and the technology that the boys use. Grant has started me listening to a podcast called New Tech City, and in a funny coincidence the week I've been finishing this book the podcast started a "Bored and Brilliant" challenge, encouraging people to step away from their technology a bit to create more space for boredom, for being creative. So it's been kind of fun to be reading this book and also listening to Manoush Zamarodi, the voice of New Tech City, talk about the benefits of less technology in our lives.

I have been thinking about the constancy of information that we are surrounded by in this age of google and wikipedia, and how I really do spend less time trying to figure things out myself, and am so quick to just ask Siri when the boys ask me a question.

One thing he talked about several times was how the youth of today are so inundated with technology that they can't really separate themselves from it, they will never have a separate identity outside of technology that those of us who grew up before the age of the internet had as kids. While I can see his point, at times it felt a bit over blown to me. My kids have time with technology every day, yes, but I, and most of my peers, did too. Sure, it wasn't the internet, it was just TV, or Nintendo, or archaic video games, but growing up in the 70's and 80's wasn't like we went from a complete dearth of technology to being completely submerged in it.

I guess I think that while today's technologies may be more prevalent and more accesible and probably more addicting then the technologies of yester-year, but I knew plenty of kids growing up where the T.V. was on constantly at their house, and teenagers who wore their walkman like it was part of their clothes, and I think people found plenty of ways to avoid thinking deeply then without the internet. I think the primary problem is a choice to put away the easier mental tasks and commit to digging into the harder ones, and while the technology of the day may provide more ways to avoid that, it's an old problem, not a new one.

But I guess the constant availability of So. Much. Information. does really make us need to be much more mindful of what we are using and why. So it was a good read overall.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review - Voyage of a Viking

Book Review - Voyage of a Viking, by Tim Marks 3 stars out of 5

I feel like I'm not giving anything very high marks this year... Maybe I'm just in a critical mood recently. This book was recommended by Oliver DeMille, whose recommendation I value highly, and currently has 5 stars on Amazon, so I went into it expecting to really like it. 

On the plus side, it is chock-full of pithy, motivational quotes like:

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”

"Imperfect action is better than no action."

"Defeating those negative instincts that are out to defeat us is the difference between winning and losing, and we face that battle every day of our lives"

"Jean le Rond d’Alembert said, “The difficulties you meet will resolve themselves as you advance. Proceed, and light will dawn, and shine with increasing clearness on your path.”"

And the like. I will say that it did inspire me to dig in a little deeper and focus more on my goals, so hopefully that motivation sticks, and it wasn't all bad. But overall, it just felt so... canned. Like to me it felt like a compilation of a whole bunch of "how to succeed in business and life" books all crammed into one. The ones with the message "I was a failure. But now I'm not a failure! I teach people how to be not-failures for a living! And you can be a not-failure too! Just find that thing you love, and do it! Do it nine times! Do it nine times nine! Never quit! And you will win, just like me!". 

Overall I was trying really hard to be inspired by it, and I do think it has some good messages, and while I don't regret having read it, I just had a really hard time connecting with him, and with his stories. He is very much a "macho man", all about powering through whatever is in front of you, action over thought, and had several stories about his super "manliness", and I have a hard time with that type of personality, so maybe that was part of my problem. 

In conclusion, if you are feeling short on inspiration to finish a large life goal or something, maybe this book will provide you with a large enough collection of motivational quotes to get it done.