Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hold On To Your Delusions

I found a post on Girls of a Certain Age about an apartment in Paris that was unlived in for decades. This unoccupied Paris apartment is owned by the estate of a woman who paid rent every month, yet never returned after leaving to avoid Nazi occupation. Finding this information online makes me doubt its truthfulness, but I appreciate the story behind it anyway.

I'm sure anti-clutter mavens would have fun tearing apart this beauty of a space. I also wonder if the books on the shelves have e-book counterparts yet. And the stuffed ostrich is especially appropriate. They are known for burying their heads in the sand, though this is not true. When an ostrich needs to defend itself, the neck is bent closer to the ground to appear invisible. This technique must work for them most of the time.

The thought of this space being unused for years, yet paid for monthly reminds me of my blog. I haven't taken it down, yet I don't write here often. Why? Well, I have many good excuses, and I don't beat myself up for having them. Life is full, is that such a bad thing?

It takes a great amount of delusion to hold on to some beliefs. I think the renter should have given up on the apartment long ago, but she did not want to. It is possible she deluded herself into believing she might return. This isn't as sad as it seems. She never gave up on her dream, and the dream died with her didn't it? I can always imagine that my blog will become useful resource. Keeping our beliefs, even if they may never become fulfilled, keeps us motivated. And if I live the same 91 years as the person who owned the apartment, I'm going to need a few things to always strive for. And hope for a useful blog is a fine thing to want.

Ostrich Struthio camelus Tanzania 3741 Nevit

Photo of this ostrich is By Nevit Dilmen (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Value is a Blog?

First, this is NOT a swan song, a goodbye or a declaration to change anything.

What inspires this thought is a blog post I read by Sté Kewar at Dukeo titled "Stop Blogging Now"

Isn't this a bold thought?

The comments at the end of the post are of equal interest. One comment suggests making your blog a true resource. Don't struggle to write 1500 editorial words of "killer content"

I never liked the term "killer content." Too negative. Yet, it is the standard advice among bloggers who wish to be successful. Rule #1, create killer content.

I do like the idea of providing resources, however. State your interests, then back them up with a series of links.

So, in lieu of killer content, following is a list of three blogs that interest me, and why.

Hercules and the Umpire

I learned of this blog while listening to the writer, Richard G. Kopf in an interview on NPR. I like the writing style, and the judge's admission in some of his posts that blogging is difficult.

The Daily Connoisseur

The blog's writer, Jennifer L. Scott, provided a link to this blog for a post about the time I worked for an American company with French employees. To this day, it is my most popular post, and this amuses me because it is a fairly gossipy piece with no links. Since her endorsement, her self-published book, Lessons From Madame Chic was re-published by Simon & Schuster and she is currently under contract for one more book. I feel like I discovered her before anyone else did. Fans tend to feel proprietary, don't they?

Mr. Money Mustache

I have nothing in common with this blogger, yet I read him often. I always feel as if I learn something when I read blogs written by people I share no traits with. The writer left paycheck-based employment at the age of 30 due to well-paid jobs and his ability to save and invest his earnings wisely. Now he does whatever he wants whenever he wants to.

Please don't think this is all I read. There are so many other blogs of note, and no need to plug them all. Blogs have the flexibility to inform and entertain and shift. For me, it's been a different way to communicate. What value is a blog? Maybe you can tell me. Thank you for stopping by, please visit again.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Conversations With Strangers

It's still summer, but for the working folk with children, it may as well be fall. The blogger hiatus is over. My summer was a little more than a whirlwind. I covered lots of territory, most of it with family. It was good.

Although many pleasant indoor and outdoor locations were travelled, the people I met on the way are what stay in my mind as much as any garden, old house, wild horse, or ocean waves.

One conversation was unique because I opted to speak rather than listen. It was about why I am happy to visit the place where I grew up and equally pleased with the place I decided to live with and raise my own family. No point in repeating the details here. I recommend you go out in the world and have a conversation like this on your own.

Conversations with strangers help us articulate our thoughts. People we don't know are not vested in our interests and are likely to forget us anyway.

In my attempt to write a perfect blog post for September, which I planned to do about two weeks ago, I've been reading other people's blogs. Even though I don't post comments on any of them, I feel like I am a part of a conversation anyway. Some bloggers have cordial relationships with their readers, and it's nice to observe. I haven't had a comment from a reader since last August, and in part it's because I didn't respond to it. Why? Well, I needed to think of a response, and was at a loss.

What blogs do you review regularly? Please share, I'm always on the lookout for something to read.

Thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Another Year, another 5K

Last year I ran a 5k with no goal and a miserable result. It was a Rebel Run, and with all the obstacles, I completed it in 98 minutes.

After that poor performance, I decided my next 5k would be on firm land, without walls or ropes to climb or warm algae ponds to walk through. I also believed I would follow this Mayo Clinic training plan. Regarding the 2nd goal, the best I did was print it out and look at it often. Reading is usually more useful to me than a trot on a treadmill.

Sure, my enthusiasm going into this year's 5k was low, but I did complete the race. Despite a lack of training, I pledged to complete the race in 45 minutes, and I did it in 43:33. Not bad for a person who views HIIT workouts with skepticism. This whole idea of setting a goal and achieving it might actually be worthwhile. Completing the race on my terms made me think about this blog, and its future.

As much as planning, training, practice and consistency work in fitness and blogging, so does doing the best you can when you can. I've never read advice of this nature anywhere. Do type "B" people write advice books about successful planning, or are they busy achieving their goals and interests on their own haphazard schedules?

The next post will be another book review, or a Reader's Advisory, a new term I learned today when someone endorsed me on my LinkedIn profile with this label. The book is Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals by Jacqueline Whitmore. There is a funny story about why I chose this book to review - I will share it with you at the appropriate time. I need to finish the book first.

Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Toltec Wisdom - A review of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. I gave myself a vacation from blogging, and realize now what a huge mistake it was to stop.

In my last post, I declared my next post would be a review of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. Once I hit the publish button back then on June 1st, I realized I would have to read the book again. This is when I decided to give myself a break.

Not much is known about the Toltec Empire. They emerged prior to the Aztecs in a region now known as Hidalgo. Uncertainty about this group is what makes them intriguing.

The four agreements are :

Be Impeccable With Your Word. This coincides with the mission of this blog. The author emphasizes choosing your spoken words with care. I think you need to extend this to your online words as well. Enough said.

Don't Take Anything Personally. No one will ever see the world the way you do, so you must forgive them when they say terrible, thoughtless things about you or any person or issue you care about. Good advice for followers of politics. I think most politicians have figured this one out already.

Don't Make Assumptions. This is also difficult. Just as others may not understand you, you may not understand others. We don't know what the strangers we deal with have been through, and we don't even know what those closest to us are thinking at any given time. The ability to accept people and circumstances is tremendous. Good luck with this one.

Always Do Your Best. This is a nice way to wrap it up. Humans are fallible. Forgive yourself when you fail, and strive for the best.

The Four Agreements is a fine book, and Toltec wisdom is acceptable. You can't argue against a philosophy that promotes self-esteem, compassion, and loving kindness. My only disagreement was a comment in the 2nd chapter regarding the strength of words. The idea is that if a person suggests you have cancer, based on your pallor, then in one year, if you believe what you are hearing, you will have cancer (page 29, Kindle edition.) I am still stunned by this thought. No citation was given to support this comment. However, this was a perfect situation for the me to put Toltec wisdom in to practice by trying the "Don't take this personally," item.

Maybe I expect too much from philosophers. They are not scientists.

The book was published many years ago, and mentioned once by Oprah Winfrey. I hope the author has enjoyed great success with its publication. My inclination towards scientific facts should not discourage anyone from reading this book.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhhig provides research and citations. If you desire measurable change in your life, the suggestions in this book are better.

You can view and read other reviews by clicking here and here.

P.S. - If you have ever been to Hidalgo, please let me and my readers know about it - the comment section is open.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Fast, and slow

When some areas of life are full, other parts suffer. Such is the state of this blog, which has generated little interest.

There are several blogs out there that produce fine content, vigorous discussion, and healthy ad revenue. The people who write them deserve their successes. To get blog visitors, you need to select a niche topic, research, and spend a lot of time writing, with an expectation of improvement over a short period of time. Ah, time. You also have to invite controversy.

I want the mission of this blog to encourage others to chose words wisely online, and everyone thinks they do that already, don't they? I enlighten no one with this suggestion. It is a vanilla topic devoid of intrigue. I don't want to argue with anyone via forums and chat rooms, yet it seems that is what needs to be done for blogging success.

This point, the problem when everyone likes you (or in this case, doesn't NOT like you,) was discussed recently in a column in Library Journal by Jason Kramer called The Downside of Being Universally Liked. The most striking comment he makes is "If you have no enemies, you also have no allies." To be a popular, successful blogger, you need both.

My regular readers (and I'm sure I personally know all of you,) know how to contact me for further conversation. So, the rest of this post will be composed of observations that will be continued with someone who leaves a comment, or contacts me as usual.

My 4x4 garden is empty. The good news is that it is not full of weeds.

All job descriptions, should start with "You will tolerate others and disregard insults."

Justine Bateman started college at age 47. A freshman, she studies computer science.

A person I gave birth to read Heaven is for Real and believes every word of it.

The most difficult task of the day is to listen and understand people properly.

When I do sit down to blog, I enjoy it every time.

The past needs to stay there. Social media makes this difficult.

The next post here will be a book review about Toltec wisdom.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Working Out Motherhood

One of those choices I need to make more than once a week is whether or not go to the gym. I never regret a workout, and I always regret losing time with my children, which happens when I go to the gym. It's difficult. Sometimes I go home and the older children are out with friends. I always get toddler attention - something I love, and I know these toddler-era days are numbered.

The New York Times published a column including a graphic for a 7-Minute workout . High Intensity Circuit Training (HICT) is effective. I will read the column and the graphic several times and think about doing this workout as I realize it is very good for me. Should I attempt it, my sons will be encouraged to try it with me. I will remember to do this workout at least twice. "It's not the person who fails, it's the exercise program that fails,", is a comment I have seen many times. "What's your excuse?" is another comment I see often. I acknowledge that I don't want to do it, rather than make an excuse, and also acknowledge my responsibility in adopting a new workout, which over time, becomes boring, than abandoned.

Yet, here's the thing ... as said in the beginning, I never regret a workout. Even when I have to push myself, or perform poorly, I do not walk away feeling terrible. Whatever I get physically from time in the gym is nothing compared to how I feel mentally when the exercise is over. Workouts and general healthy living benefits my mind. If I feel stress or anxiety, I am a worse person in every way, especially as a mother.

The most recent time I made the choice to skip the gym was correct. Everyone was home and not busy. I had a book discussion with one child, discussed a pending school project with another, and got the usual toddler time. I watched them all play outside and devise plans to avoid the light rain that started while they were playing. I witnessed sweet moments in time that will never happen again. Sure, we will have other good times in the future, but it is better to focus on the present.

And the future? It will include hikes, bike rides, swimming, and general adventure. We discovered long ago that the best way to keep children away from media is to get outside as often as possible, and we do this every free weekend. How will I keep up with the children? Guess I better get to the gym!