Thursday, November 8, 2007

Rethink your Lifestyle

While I think on the whole value concept, I do want to pass on one of my favorite books right now: The 4-Hour work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss. This book isn't about working less, it's about working smart! And living the way you choose to live, whether it's traveling or spending more time on worthwhile activities. Just the chapters on The End of Time Management or The Low-Information Diet will get people rethinking their way of getting stuff done.

Ferriss has a great web site, Experiments in Lifestyle Design, that is filled with ideas such as creating a paperless office - check it out at How to do the impossible: create a paperless life and never check voicemail again.

Something of Value

I have not posted because I want to provide value. What I did on summer vacation is not of value to most people. Value is created with thought and meaning. It is created with the reader in mind, not the writer. So, look for some changes coming soon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What? Me catch up?

The last Harry Potter book did not arrive on Saturday. UPS does not deliver to our rural area on Saturday, so the package was dropped at the post office. When I attempted to retrieve my package on Monday, the post office declared that it was lost. Luckily, the folks at Amazon stuck to their guaranteed delivery stance and another copy was delivered by Wednesday. I finished Friday and was so glad that the end was not spoiled for me!

Have read some other light books, like LIPSTICK JUNGLE by Candace Bushnell of Sex and the City fame (the TV series based on Lipstick Jungle is slated for this fall).

Am officially over one year behind bible readings. I'm sure things will only get further behind, with Kindergarten started and Soccer practice starting this week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Life in Spurts

I am, like so many people out there, waiting for the next/last Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7). It should be delivered by Amazon on Saturday and if it arrives, I won't get to read much because my daughter has a birthday party to go to (a reptile party - how fun!). A big fear is that I won't be able to read it fast and the plot or ending will be spoiled for me.

I've only been able to do things in small spurts. This morning, I tried to do 10 minutes - yes, just 10 minutes - on the treadmill and was off and on it three times over kid issues. So reading will be slow and steady as long as I can keep myself awake at night.

I realize I can only have 1 or 2 things to focus on. If I am reading a classical book, I can't keep up with reading the bible. In my bible readings, I am now at Song of Songs and am waiting for a nice chunk of time to read all of it at once. I am nearly a year behind the schedule I set for myself but I remain optimistic. Have been trying to finish some fiction books that were partially read, like Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander). Next on the classical list is finishing the audio version of Beowulf: A New Verse Translation read by author/poet/translator Seamus Heaney. I listen to it on my ipod, sometimes while cooking dinner if the kids are properly entertained elsewhere.

I've also been watching the arrival of Posh & Becks. I'm a soccer fan and was glad to hear that the LA Galaxy signed David Beckham. Even before the Beckhams move was announced, I read Learning to Fly: The Autobiography: The Autobiography by Victoria Beckham, which gives an interesting view of the life of celebrities. I appreciate both of the Beckhams for their dedication to excellence in their professions and to their children. Look beyond the media frenzy and media slant: I can't believe how critical and judgmental the press can be. That's a topic for another day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

What book am I?

Found this quiz from another blog I was reading this morning. Interesting, since there were 64 possible answers from 6 questions. I think it read me right - The analysis is pretty true. Guess I'll add this book to my reading list.

You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what
causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they
really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing
with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in
the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Where was I?

With the flu making its rounds, I had a lot of catch-up to do after my own recovery. Still not 100%. Nevertheless, I am making progress on my self-education.

I said I took a break after finishing Don Quixote in 2005. I had stacks of other books I wanted to finish and, frankly, I needed something light. Often after reading something that takes some thought I need to unwind by reading easy stuff. So from the end of Don Quixote to the end of 2005, I read:

Pathway to Purpose for Women: Connecting Your To-Do List, Your Passions, and God's Purposes for Your Life by Katie Brazelton. Read this during my daughter's swim lessons at the city pool.
Mary Schaffer: An Adventurous Woman's Exploits in the Canadian Rockies (An Amazing Stories Book) (Amazing Stories) - we vacationed in Banff that summer. A facinating woman explorer.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) (finished in one week)
The Presence (Mira) by Heather Graham (romantic suspense)
The Seven Daughters of Eve - a facinating book about genetics by Bryan Sykes
• Stephen King's Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower, Book 5), Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, Book 6), and The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, Book 7). Besides On Writing, these are the only Stephen King books I have read because I was terrified by the Carrie movie when I was young.
Sister Genevieve: A Courageous Woman's Triumph in Northern Ireland- an inspiring woman!
Living the Life You Were Meant to Live by Tom Paterson (OK, in case you haven't figured it out, I was doing a little soul searching)
Praying for Purpose for Women: A Prayer Experience That Will Change Your Life Forever (Pathway to Purpose) also by Katie Brazelton
The Da Vinci Code
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

For the record, I read 28 books in 2005.

Out of all those, I was really intrigued by The Da Vinci Code. I know a lot of people questioned the historical validity of this book. It got me to start another reading plan: read the bible, starting Jan. 1, 2006.

I've read many parts of the bible but never read it straight through. First I had to find the right bible to read, and I decided on TNIV True Identity: The Bible for Women (Today's New International Version). Next I had to find a plan, and found one at the Purpose Driven Life website (under free tools). I have The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Purpose Driven Life) by Rick Warren - so many people we talked to for a while raved about it so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I have read about half of it and pick it up occassionally. Warren's wife, Kay, wrote the foreward to Pathway to Purpose for Women: Connecting Your To-Do List, Your Passions, and God's Purposes for Your Life, which I found some peace in.

I did really good following the plan in 2006 until April when we took a trip to Costa Rica. Then our son arrived in May and I got behind. I made it nearly half-way - to the book of Esther - by the end of 2006. Now I am working my way through Psalms.

And that little project was set aside when I found the reading group for The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had and started The Pilgrim's Progress (Oxford World's Classics) in early 2007. I thought I could keep up on the bible reading while reading PP, but have not been able to.

I finished reading The Pilgrim's Progress (Oxford World's Classics) last week. The TWEM's plan calls for reading once and taking notes (the grammar stage, or what the author says), then reviewing and evaluating (the logic stage to understand how and why) and finally, So What? (rhetoric stage). I have finished the logic stage and am starting on the rhetoric stage, to be finished this coming week.

Finally, have you seen how much press The Secret is getting?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Where I started II

Back to where I started... I bought a book called The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had by Susan Wise Bauer. I learned about this book after purchasing a book Bauer co-authored with her mother, Jessie Wise, called The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. The Well-Trained Mind is a home school book that outlines the classical pattern of education called the trivium (more on this later). The Well-Educated Mind is for all us adults who want to have a simple plan for self-education through a sampling of classical and important books.

In Bauer's personable way, she describes how she returned back to graduate school at thirty-years-old and with four children. Yet the book she wrote is for any person who wants to learn and train their mind. As she read through her graduate course's required reading list, she says she "wrote better, thought more clearly, read more." These are the things that drew me to this book and its reading plan.

The Well-Educated Mind has reading lists divided into five sections: the novel, autobiography and memoir, history and politicians, drama, and poems. In 2004, I started the novel section with Don Quixote (Modern Library MM) by Miguel De Cervantes. I read the Modern Library edition - The Well-Educated Mind offers the best editions to use. It took me 16 months to read it, chapter by chapter with short notes after each reading, read mostly during my daughter's morning nap time. I really thought I'd never get through it but when I finished, I could hardly believe it. I read Don Quixote! It was a great accomplishment for me.

Currently, I am almost finished with the second book on the novel list - The Pilgrim's Progress (Oxford World's Classics) by John Bunyan.

I stopped reading classics from mid-2005 through 2006 for a reason I'll talk about later.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Where I started

Several books helped me get started on this self-education journey. The first two were The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classical Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded by Clifton Fadiman and John S. Major and Great Books by David Denby.

Now I have to admit that I never finished Great Books. I started it numerous times but always got caught up in something else I was reading. This book, for me, is one to be read slow and thoughtfully because Denby, a New York film critic who goes back to Columbia to retake the Lit course he took in the late 60s, talks of the relevance of the class-assigned books in a personable way, not in dry, critical evaluations. He interweaves his opinions, observations and personal stories throughout the book and gives a different perspective on the importance of Great Books.

How books affect us depends on where we are in life and our frame of mind. Rereading books give us deeper perspectives and understanding, and Denby documents this. I still have Great Books and I will still read it.

The New Lifetime Reading Plan: The Classical Guide to World Literature, Revised and Expanded, on the other hand, is like a wish list of books to read. How obsessive am I? I have an Excel file running a list of these books. Checkmarks for completion? Very few. It's a work in progress. Like the title says, a lifetime plan.

The lifetime list of 133 authors (many with multiple works) plus another 100 notable authors, was intimidating. About three years ago I found another plan to follow and started March 1, 2004. It's been slow going and I'll share why next time.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Beginning of it All

When I started to think about self-education, I realized that there is one foundation that we all have to have, and that is our health. So my first two recommendations are books about nutrition and fitness. I guess I need to have a disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. The opinions expressed are soley my own and what works for me. Consult your doctor before starting any nutrition or exercise program, etc. etc.

*Think Responsibly*

My new favorite nutrition book is The Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno. It is about sensible eating of good foods - fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. I would hesitate to call it a 'diet' book; it is more of a healthy eating plan, though the publisher (who happens to be Reno's husband and publisher of Oxygen magazine) seems to emphasize fat loss for marketing purposes.

Anyone who has seen Oxygen magazine probably thinks it is for hard-core women bodybuilders. I read it for the recipes, healthy eating tips and fitness plans. Like most things I read and write about, I take what I need and forget the rest.

One of my favorite fitness books is Core Performance Essentials: The Revolutionary Nutrition and Exercise Plan Adapted for Everyday Use by Mark Verstegen. This is the everyman's version of his pro athlete-focused The Core Performance: The Revolutionary Workout Program to Transform Your Body & Your Life. The Essentials book centers around a 30-minute 3X/week homebased program for improved strength, flexibility and overall health. The exercises help strengthen your core so you stand up straighter and have better balance.

The 30 minutes a day is sometimes hard for me to find when the kids are around, but I'm focusing on it. I think everyone feels better when they get some exercise and sunlight. I really notice a good difference in the kids when they play outside a lot. I'd be happy to hear what others have to say about their favorite fitness or nutrition books or programs.

Time management and goal setting is another of my passions, and you'll be hearing about that soon. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Why am I here and what is this place?

Several years ago I found a deficiency in my education. It probably occurred when trying to figure out grammar rules that didn’t come naturally, which is not good for a writer. Or when I went to a writer’s conference and a speaker lost me when talking about ‘troubleshooting your syntax’ (why didn’t I remember what a gerundive was?). Maybe it was spurred by seeing a list of the ‘Top 100 Books of All Times.’ Even as a college graduate, I had read, what, one or two of them? And did I ever finish them?

This is no fault of my educators. It rests on me, the person who was more interested in social activities than scholarly pursuits. I remembered just enough to get through a test in college.

But like most of the people on this planet, I wanted to write a novel. This turned out to be harder than I ever imagined. It also brought to life my insecurities about writing. Following advice of those who are published, I decided I needed to read the classics, the Great Books, hoping that I would glean some smarts along the way.

I started this educational process on the zigzag road that life often presents us, around the adoption of two wonderful children, and the care of a few acres, a few animals, and a very understanding and supportive husband. I’ve been on this path of self-discovery for a while now and have been led to a wide variety of books. I want to document my journey in case there are other seekers, like me, who want to increase their knowledge of themselves and the world we live in. Maybe we can share ideas on any number of topics or about self-education. I’m also writing to nurture that spirit of self-expression by doing something I enjoy: talking about books.

So this blog joins the other 174,999 blogs that are started each day. I hope you will find something useful in it. Stay tuned.