1. A lot has been going on this week. I asked some friends how they were and what was happening, and then I listed two things for myself and thought of a bunch more. But then I remembered I have a blog.
Whew, I have been busy.
1. Last week, I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for the first time ever. My friend had a work trip there, so she invited me to crash it, and I did.
It was very brown. And cold. But! I got some culture. I went to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture as well as Meow Wolf and the Loretto Chapel to see the miracle stairs. The museum was great because I had an awesome tour from a delightful docent who kept talking about “fiesty lady archaeologists.” (Also, have you heard of archeaoacoustics? I hadn’t until she told us about them.) Plus, because the museum has been largely curated in cooperation with Native groups and is focused on their history and culture, it is way less rage inducing than going to the National Museum of the American Indian.
1. In case you missed it, I welcomed the new year by buying a car, establishing some goals, and just generally being awesome:
2. The non-working part of my vacation is officially over since I spent today doing some course prep/lesson planning. My goal for this semester is to bring back fun assignments so that grading isn’t as much of a chore.
The problem, of course, isn’t finding fun assignments, but fitting them all into the course schedule. My ambitions are so grand, but the semester is always too short for me to do everything I want to do.
1. I already posted this on Twitter and Facebook, so I’m also posting here. But a few years ago, I did a 32 things to do before I turn 33 project, and I’m looking to do something similar for my 40th birthday. I am looking for suggestions of cool things to do by my 40th birthday or before my 40th year is up (this is still very much in the conception stage, obvs.)
I did wind up completing quite a few things on my 32 list, so I need to rebuild. Here are some things I’m already planning to do/considering doing:
- Go see Hamilton
- Go to Harry Potter world
- Do one of those paint class things
- Take a knife skills class
- ride in a hot air balloon
- go to a taping of Price Is Right
- surfing lessons
- go to Hawaii
- finish reading the Bible
- post a YouTube video
- indoor skydiving
NOTE: I am not jumping off a bridge or out of a plane, so please do not suggest bungee jumping or skydiving. They are both an automatic no. Anything else will be seriously considered! So please post some suggestions in the comments.
I live in the L.A. area if that has any impact on what you might suggest.
June has been…something. I mean, A LOT has happened. Not only did I attend my daughter’s high school graduation and participate in AP exam scoring for the first time, but I also got a new job way on the other side of the country. And, yes, I did just buy a house last year. So, I am officially in moving mode and prep mode and general my short-lived vacation is over mode. 😩
Obviously, I am happy about the new job. The emoji is used for dramatic effect because I didn’t plan to be moving (again!) this summer.
Me, saying goodbye to my daily post-lunch nap:
Goodbye, old friend. I’ll see you during summer vacation.
I missed last week, so let’s do a little catch up, shall we?
Since my last post, I read:
I don’t typically read traditional romance stories, but this one seemed to check all the boxes pretty well. I was more intrigued by the character of Alanza than Mariah, but it was fun reading about life on a ranch and all of the other fun historical tidbits that you get from historical fiction.
Read Harder 2016: Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900
Okay, so I listened to this on audio, which I think made it just that much more amazing.
Leah is a complete badass and spills ALL THE TEA. All of it. Every last drop. My girl names names and everything. ALL OF THE NAMES.
I love this book. Love, love, love. Remini is fierce and funny and also a little hood, which I completely appreciated.
Read Harder 2016: Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)
I also went to see:
Zootopia! I don’t make it to the movies often, but my daughter’s birthday was Wednesday, and she really wanted to see Zootopia, so off we went. It was a lot of fun and also a really practical look at how structural racism and sexism (and other forms of discrimination work). Allegory, yay! Anyway, my daughter liked it so much that she has already seen it again, so I can highly recommend it.
As of today, I’m reading:
I’m still making my way through Something Wicked by Alan Gratz. Poor Banks (Banquo), man.
I also started Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud, which is all about recognizing when it’s time to move on from situations in your life. I was introduced to the book through a small group study at my church, which I got a lot out of, so I figured I should probably read the book to get a little more understanding, so here we are. This article provides a little bit more info about the concepts covered in the book, if anyone is interested.
I’ve been reading House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones (the last book in the Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy) at work for the past week. I like the book well enough so far, but I legit keep forgetting about it until I get to work or unless I’m at work. So I guess this is the equivalent of a bathroom book in that way. We’ll see if it picks up. Or if I give up on it altogether. (I will probably finish it since I keep being amazed at how far into it I actually am. Maybe.)
Happy reading this week, everyone!
My eye issue has mostly resolved, so I should be able to keep up with blogs more from now, which is a definite yay. I missed posting last week, so this is a two-fer (though, technically, I guess it’s a three-fer). I read some books is what I’m saying. Let’s get to it.
This past week, I finished:
4.5 stars, rounding up
I love everything about this book (okay, almost everything, hence the 1/2 star deduction), including the cover. So fun! It gave me a happy.
The week before that, I finished:
Harriet Tubman is your OG, and you will respect her as such. Harriet Tubman is a complete and total badass. This book is A++ in showing that and giving an overview of her life. Two thumbs up, fine holiday fun.
Nathan Hale’s art is amazing, and he presents slavery in an unflinching and honest way, which is important given discussions around how children’s books are failing to do that right now.
Read Harder 2016: Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
This was solid.
I only have two complaints: (1) There were a couple of glaring typos in the first couple of pages and (2) the art work in the epilogue is completely different from the other chapters and it was my least favorite of all the art.
Otherwise, intriguing and an interesting/fun new take on Holmes.
Read Harder 2016: Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years
When I first started this book, I didn’t care much for the art–a little too dark and muddled. However, as the story progressed and Jessica’s came out of her depression, the art work shifted. It was subtle, and it worked.
I like Jessica. I liked this. And that ending? Man.
2.5 stars, rounding down
So. Here’s the thing. Marcus Samuelsson has led a fascinating life, and I enjoyed reading about it. But at one point, he reveals that he has a daughter, and he decides to be an absentee father while he pursues his dreams. Which, you know, is fine if that’s the choice he wanted to make. But all I could think as he was talking about his time gallivanting around the world as a chef is “Yeah, but what about Zoe?”
WHAT ABOUT ZOE, MARCUS?
So that tempered my enjoyment quite a bit.
Also, hot tip to all the absentee/deadbeat parents in the world: do not thank the parent who actually did the work of raising the child. That probably annoys me more than women who say their husbands are “babysitting” the children.
Read Harder 2016: Read a food memoir
So, all in all, January was:
A good reading month! I read 15 books, 5 of which counted for the Diversity on the Shelf challenge. I am running at lower than 50% reads by/about POC, so I want to improve on that next month. We’ll see how it goes. I also read three 5-star books. Wouldn’t it be nice if 20% of my reads this year turn out to be 5-star reads?
As of today, I’m reading:
The Light Between Oceans is slow-going so far, but it’s for book club so I shall power through. I am not sure yet how I feel about Re Jane. I dig a lot of the changes the author has made (I especially love how she deals with the madwoman in the attic–brilliant!) (also, love the word play in the title). However, this Jane is planning to do something original Jane just would not do AT ALL, so I am not sure if I’ll be able to keep reading if this Jane does something the original Jane wouldn’t. I am not even particularly enamored of the original, but I guess even I have my limits. So. We shall see how that goes.
Happy reading, everyone!
This book changed my life.
I mentioned in my musings on what I might do for my artist date that I was working through the book because I assigned it to my creative writing class and thought it might be a good idea to know what, exactly, I was asking them to do. I really wasn’t prepared for the impact this book would have on me.
The two biggest tools of the book are completing the morning pages and going on the artist date. That’s where I found the impact and the transformation. Well, those two tools and the reading deprivation during Week 4.
Basically, how the book works is that each week you read a chapter, write the morning pages, take yourself on an artist date, and complete some (or all) of the tasks at the end of the chapter. Repeat until the book is complete. Twelve chapters = twelve weeks.
How did it change my life?
The biggest deficit in my life is in the area of self-care. I suck at it. It is legit the hardest thing I do. What the morning pages and the artist date do is privilege self-care. Since I committed to completing the book, I committed to doing the work. (I am nothing if not a good student.) Doing the work meant writing the pages and going on the date. Every week.
I should note, though, that I rarely, if ever, wrote the morning pages in the actual morning. Even though Cameron says several times that it should be done before starting your day, that is not realistic for me. In fact, that’s what kept me from completing the book last time. Once I gave myself permission to just treat the morning pages as daily pages, finishing the work became manageable. I have done a lot of work on my perfectionism in the past few years, so understanding that I could do the pages imperfectly was key. Also, let’s be real: getting up a half-hour early is antithetical to my self-care.
Harder than the pages for me was the artist date. I had to start really small. Watching an hour of TV without doing anything else (like folding or separating clothes). Coloring at my dining room table. Going to the movies. However, as I kept with it, I started doing other things, bigger things. I went to plays. I took a West African dance class. I took a jazz dance class. I started planning other creative and fun things I could do with my time. Now it feels almost second nature to say yes to activities I would have previously told myself I didn’t have time for. I have made it a habit to sit down and watch TV shows I like because I like to watch them. I’m not too busy for the things I actually enjoy doing. It makes it a lot easier to do work or be creative when I know I’m not depriving myself of fun stuff.
Life is meant to be an artist date.
I will also note that I started The Artist’s Way in the summer when I wasn’t working. Completing the pages and the date became more difficult once school started back. But I kept at them.
The reading deprivation also marked a key point in my recovery (as the book calls it). I got a LOT of clarity. For one, I realized that part of the reason I was blocked (I haven’t written anything in years) was that I wasn’t interested in the type of writing I had told myself I needed to be doing or was interested in. I was, as they say, should-ing on myself, which kept me from doing what I wanted to do. The other major thing that happened during my deprivation is that I cleaned my room, set up an office, and opened up space for what I want my life to be.
So, yeah. Big changes.
I absolutely recommend this book for blocked creatives with the understanding that it is definitely not for everyone. The subtitle is “A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,” after all. For anyone resistant to ideas of spirituality or discussions/mentions of God (though Cameron does point out that you don’t have to believe in any god to use the book and gives suggestions for what word to replace God with as you read, e.g., “creative force” or “good orderly direction” among others), probably you might not be as open to some of the suggestions or language Cameron uses. However, if you are willing or able to look past that language, I think there’s a lot of value here.
And, of course, if you are willing to do the work.
Once, when my daughter was in third grade, she got her report card and was ready to celebrate her achievements for the quarter. “Fine,” I told her, “but I just want you to know that we don’t celebrate C’s in this family.”
My daughter, understandably, started crying and told me that she had worked really hard for that grade.
Ashamed, and rightfully so, I immediately backtracked and told her that OF COURSE we would celebrate her C since she had worked so hard for it and OF COURSE effort mattered, and I did know that she had tried her best.
That episode came to mind as I was reading Mindset, and I thought of several different ways I could’ve handled that conversation that wouldn’t have resulted in scarring my daughter for life and making her think her best wasn’t good enough. I would have avoided telling her how smart and bright she is (something that has actively contributed to her anxiety around school) and instead applauded her efforts when she completed a challenging task.
So, yes, this book can help parents and educators reframe the way we think and the way we speak to children (and ourselves!) about the way we approach challenges. I have learned elsewhere that changing the way I think about a situation changes the way I engage with it, and that’s basically the crux of this book.
Why only 2.5 stars? The presentation is kind of dry, though Dweck uses a lot (A LOT) of anecdotal evidence. Still, the information is accessible and the ideas are useful. If you’re trying to help someone get out of a black or white, there is only winning or losing mentality, this book may be worth a look.