June 30, 2010

Best Photo

I don't know this man. He works at our favorite bar-b-que restaurant. I would like to know him. I bet he has some interesting stories.

Summer Reads

I finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last night at 11:37 PM. I then stared at the ceiling for a good hour or so processing what I had read. I started out slowly with this book, not sure I was going to like it, but the momentum built quickly and once Lisbeth was more fully introduced I could not put it down.

I will be driving to the bookstore this morning to pick up the next two in the trilogy. These are perfect summer reads.

I was recently called a "book snob." Yes, I am. I WILL NOT read Twilight. I WILL NOT. Funny, the comment came from someone who hasn't picked up a book in months. She couldn't remember the last book she had read. And she is surprised at how well my children read and what they read. Go figure.

A Masterpiece

Despite my general enjoyment of life, I have been a little frustrated lately. Always one to lead, I feel like I have just been buffeted by competing forces. I have been in a few situations that robbed me of the power I usually have over my life. I couldn't get out of a rut. I have been living in a never-ending dress rehearsal.

I was finally able to turn things around and have been having a great summer. While not giving 100% (you were right, that would be off-balance), I have been living deliberately. I have been making the decisions in my life. I have taken the power back.

It has been so enjoyable. Each day, I have woken up knowing what my responsibilities were and what I wanted to make of the day. I have done what I needed to do and what I wanted to do. I have taken some steps to insure my children are insulated from the crazy people I am forced to live near.

We have travelled. We have had fun. We have spent time with real friends. We have created. We have even played a few video-games.

As I was driving home from dropping my husband off at the airport early one morning, I missed the NPR station and landed on the Christian radio station where I was lucky enough to catch a taped interview with the late Coach Wooden. What a funny guy with his homespun poetry and sayings. What an amazing leader and teacher. How he loved his wife.

Make each day a masterpiece. That's it. Same concept as my "there are no dress rehearsals," but I think I like the Coach's words even better. A masterpiece. A thing of beauty. Something enjoyable.

And guess what. My masterpiece is not yours or my neighbors. So if I am something you aren't and if I do things differently (from almost everyone else around me - which is not a way to win a popularity contest, by the way), then that is o.k. This is my masterpiece.

June 8, 2010

Bookbag - May

If April was "finish 15 books month," then May was "don't finish books" month. I started quite a few books, but I didn't seem to like very many of them. Living the belief that there are too many good books out there to bother with the bad ones. I moved on.

Anthill - E. O. Wilson
This was probably the highlight of my month. Wilson is the Pulitzer prize winning author of Ants and On Human Nature. In his first attempt at fiction he manages to weave a tale that educates while it entertains. His writing is lyrical and bewitching. In the end I cared as much about the ants as I did for Raff. I have recommended this book over and over. Now I get to do it again. Read this book.

How Lincoln Learned to Read - Daniel Wolff
I just found this one boring. I didn't get past Sojourner Truth.

Life After Death - Carol Muske-Dukes
I thought I would like this when I started, but by the time I got to page 93 I no longer cared what happened to the characters. I put it down and picked up something different.

Simplicity Parenting - Kim John Payne
More of the same old thing. I'll spare you a few hours of unnecessary reading ... turn off the t.v. and cut out some of your child's activities. Spend more time with them. There. That is the whole book. Don't bother.

The Red Pyramid - Rick Riordin
We love Mr. Riordan around here so we were very excited to jump into his newest series, The Kane Chronicles. I liked it, but J. loved it. He said the Egyptian gods are even better than the Greek gods. I thought he tried to hard. The Percy Jackson books seemed to flow from a real love of ancient history and story telling. This seemed a little contrived.

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (Audio Book)
This was my in-car audio selection for May. I really enjoyed it, but I am not sorry I waited until now to attempt it. I would not have liked or understood it when I was younger.

Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann
Well, I finished this one, but I had to force myself to do it. I joined a new book club ... actually I started it with a close friend of mine and this is the first selection (I did not make it). It was o.k., but I was bored. Some of the characters were intriguing, but I would have gotten more from the book if the connections had been more obvious earlier. I did not enjoy trying to flesh them all out on my own. The most interesting man was the one I thought McCann should have spent much more time on ... Phillipe Petit. He wrote him into to the story, but only as a connection. Six degrees of Petit. I think his story was more interesting to me than McCann's book.

The Broken Teaglass - Emily Arsenault
A mystery that wasn't really mysterious.

Reflections In A Golden Eye - Carson McCullers
Needing a book to restore my faith in the American novel, I turned to old friends at the end of the month. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter would probably rank on my personal Top 10 list. This, McCullers second novel, did not disappoint. I did not enjoy this one as much as the first; but here, her writing was wonderfully concise. The story moved and flowed. It made sense to me. It is so nice to have those authors that you can turn to when everyone else seems to be failing you.

Busy Days

Expect a flood of posts in the next few days. I have been saving up my thoughts to pour out to you since the end of May. So much has happened around here, but I have been too busy with life to write about it. It's a good thing to be busy in the way I have been. I celebrated my 41st birthday. My sister, her husband and her three kids visited us for six day (not long enough). The boys finished another school year (with straight A's). I have been reading. It has been wonderful.

Yet today I was wondering, what would my life be like if I gave 100%? What if I gave even 90%? Life has been pretty easy for me. I am relatively intelligent. While I'll never be a super model, I am not ugly. I have great eyes and a wonderful smile. I attract mostly good people. My husband is brilliant, kind and generous. My children are healthy. I have achieved all of this while running at about 30% most days. Sometimes I bump that up to 40% when I have a lot to do. What if I gave even more ... I don't mean gave more away. I mean what if I gave more into my own life? What if I put some real effort into it? What could I accomplish?

I have always written that my life is guided by the truth that you never get to live this day again. That there are no dress rehearsals. I have kind of always lived so that there are no regrets. Even things I wouldn't do again, I don't regret. Everything I have done has shaped where I am today. I like where I am today. But what if?

What if I gave 100%?