Friday, April 16, 2021

Friday Feature: Time Affluence

My Friday features are usually quick reads -- an article or maybe a blog. But recently, I revived my languishing book-reading habit and I’m so excited about some of the things I’m reading that I need to share them here.

Today’s feature? A book about time management. I know -- sounds completely fascinating. 

It is.

I stumbled across Time Smart by Ashley Whillans when I was cleaning out my work inbox. I write about organization – a lot, in fact – and, by extension time management. I even talk about time management in my freshman seminar. But, in all the resources I've put together,  I hadn’t found anything that talked about time poverty/time affluence and, when Whillans put it that way, I have to say I identified.

I’m only about 10% of the way into this book (can you tell I’m reading it on my Kindle?) and already I’m hooked. Whillans starts out with common time traps. Some I can identify with a little bit; for others, I'm practically the poster child. Right now, for example, I’m reading about Trap #5: idleness aversion.

That’s me. I sometimes worry that I’ve completely lost the ability to sit still and do nothing. Many people would not consider this a significant loss but I think it's fair to say that most creative people do. Sitting still and just being isn't just relaxing for us; it's the place from which some of our best ideas emerge. Whillans quotes Blaise Pascal who said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” 

It’s always a good sign when the book I’m reading calls out to me when I’m doing other things and Time Smart is one of those books. I’m looking forward to getting past the time traps and into the advice section to see if maybe there is a way for me to get rid of my time poverty and turn it into time affluence. Besides quitting my job, that is.

I suppose only time will tell.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Back in the Habit


pexels via Pixabay
I am a writer who struggles to read. It's not that reading is hard for me, or that I have a shortage of materials from which to choose -- please! -- if I stacked up all of my to-be-read books, the pile would be taller than I am. Granted, that's not a high bar to beat, but it's still a lot of books.

And that doesn't include the magazines I have in several locations throughout the house. Or the articles I have bookmarked on my computer.

It's not that I don't ever read. I read for work all the time -- everything from e-mails to newsletters to articles to textbooks. And I "read" in the car several times a week, courtesy of Audible. But, once I'm home, I don't make time for leisure reading. 

Part of the issue is that I'm a read-in-quiet kind of girl. Given the choice of sitting with a family member who's watching television or sitting in another room reading a book, I'll generally choose to hang out with the family member. Each of the three of us is on a different schedule and I want to spend time with them when I can. And it's not as though time spent watching television is a sacrifice, especially when I'm tired and my motivation is at a low ebb.

Last year at this time, I'd strung together a long chain of days where I'd carved out time to read and, at the beginning of this month, when I sat down to write out my April goals, I wanted to figure out a simple way to motivate myself to kick start that string of days again.

But how? 

The answer was surprisingly simple. I selected a small notebook from my collection (which is almost as impressively large as my TBR pile) and placed it at the seat from which I watch way too much television each evening. All I need to do is jot down each day's date and what I read that day. I'm not worried about depth or number of pages or time spent reading. I just need to get back into the habit. 

I had a little stutter less than a week in but tomorrow will mark a full week of progress toward my goal. As expected, it took no time at all for me to remember how much I enjoy this particular activity. 

Off and reading.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Ode to My One and Only

Today is, among other things, National Only Child Day. When I found this out this morning, I immediately shared this information with my (only) daughter and wished her a Happy National Only Child Day.

And that was the extent of our celebration.

Contrary to the stereotypes of only children, my daughter is a pretty low-key kid. Her best friend, also an only child, is too. Both girls were born to parents who started families in their mid-thirties and decided, for a variety of reasons that one and done was the way to go. 

I was concerned about my daughter being an only. I knew the stereotypes -- spoiled, bratty, awkward -- and was determined to fight against them as much as possible. Growing up, my daughter always got what she needed, but not everything she wanted. Though she probably got bigger piles of gifts on Christmas and birthdays than her friends with siblings did, she also learned to save her allowance for the things she wanted that Mom and Dad wouldn't spring for.

With no siblings at home, she learned the rules of friendship, sharing and much more at daycare, school, and through sports and activities. And, while she self-identifies as an introvert, she grew up with family dinners where electronics and media weren't welcome but conversation -- about anything -- was. 

Today, as a young adult, she's someone I enjoy spending time with. She knows how to hold a conversation with peers and adults alike. She's frugal, but also generous, respectful, but also assertive. She works hard for what she wants and is proud to do so, and she has navigated hardship with grace and perseverance. Her dad and I can take a small amount of credit for pointing her in the right direction, but the lion's share goes to her. She's the one who has navigated the road, steered around the potholes and re-routed after the inevitable detours. 

And made me proud every step of the way.

Happy National Only Child Day, kid. 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Friday Feature: Making Sleep Less Elusive

As a woman of a certain age, I've accepted the fact that sleep is not as easy as it once was, that my night owl body clock will never be set to what others consider a respectable bedtime, and that naps at least a few times a week are a way of life. But, tossing and turning on a nightly basis? Do I have to accept that?

Nope. At least not according to The Greater Good Science Center. One of my favorite resources for positive psychology information, this UC Berkeley site has lots of articles that are easy to read and full of great ideas and this one is no exception. Best of all, I don't need to participate in a psychology experiment or even go to a sleep lab to try out the ideas because they're all about ways to calm a busy mind without using drugs or complicated techniques.

Maybe there's hope for my night owl brain after all.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Kicking Back on a Virtual Front Porch

It's always fun when someone asks me to write a guest post or join them on a podcast. A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to slide off my porch swing and join Linda Culbertson and Nancy Shank on their virtual front porch for their Front Porch Book Club podcast. 

I never know what to expect when I visit a new podcast. Years of teaching and acting have made me reasonably comfortable with off-the-cuff conversations, but awareness of rolling tape definitely adds an edge. Most of the time, things turn out well and I have fun, and this time was no exception. I had a blast!

Sisters Linda and Nancy have a really interesting set-up. Each book gets two air dates. The first is a discussion between Linda and Nancy, book club-style, about the book they're featuring. The second (that's where I came in) is a conversation with the author. It's light and fun, but they asked me some of the best questions I've even been asked about anything I've written.

The first Casting the First Stone episode just went live this week, and I'm so excited that I'm telling you about it even before I finish listening to it myself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed being a part of it, and I hope you'll decide to visit Linda and Nancy's virtual front porch to hear about all of the other books they'll be talking about.

Monday, April 5, 2021

A Few (More) of My Favorite Things

giampieroruggieri via Pixabay

Some days, I'm full of ideas. Other days, the blank page stares back at me, daring me to fill it. 

Today, I'm filling it with lists.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite things.

5 Television Shows that get my attention:

The Rachel Maddow Show

This is Us

The Great British Baking Show

The (A) Late Show with Stephen Colbert

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

5 children's books that I'll continue to love no matter how old I get:

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse (Kevin Henkes)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Judith Viorst)

The Kissing Hand (Audrey Penn)

Officer Buckle and Gloria (Peggy Rathmann)

Click, Clack Moo Cows That Type (Doreen Cronin)

3 memoirs that made my Audible subscription worth every penny:

Still Foolin' 'Em (Billy Crystal)

Becoming (Michelle Obama)

Greenlights (Matthew McConaughey)

2 guilty pleasures:

Games and puzzles on my iPad

Starbucks iced chai tea latte

My favorite new habit:

The Schultz Hour

I wonder how many of these I can fit into what's left of my Monday.... 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Friday Feature: Garden Highway

Yesterday, almost exactly two weeks after the first day of spring, the temperatures dropped, reminding us that spring in Pennsylvania occurs at Mother Nature's whim. I'm not complaining; people in other parts of the country are dealing with much worse, and the weather forecasters have assured us that this is just a blip on the radar screen.

Still, it's enough of a blip to endanger the fledgling spring plants that have popped up over the past few weeks, and enough to make stories that feature spring, like this one in Fast Company about a notable Parisian project, especially desirable. 

In a move to improve not just the beauty of the city, but the health of its residents and visitors as well, Parisian officials have created a plan to turn a main thoroughfare into a green space. Over the next decade, Paris will be transforming the eight-lane Champs Élysées into "an extraordinary garden," a plan officials hope will not only clean up the air, but also draw its citizens back to the famous avenue. According to The Guardian, "the plans include reducing space for vehicles by half, turning roads into pedestrian and green areas, and creating tunnels of trees to improve air quality."

Sounds lovely. Just the sort of thing to convince me that a trip to Paris really does need to be on my bucket list.

Especially on a windy, not-so-spring-like day in Central Pennsylvania.