April 6, 2017

Monthly Book Review: Mar 2017

I only read three of the four intended books this month - we're selling our house so life is a bit hectic.

House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure - I was really looking forward to this as I loved The Paris Architect by the same author. Set in 1886 New York City this is a tale of an unlikely partnership between an architect and a gang. Great historical references. Evaluating social expectations and the meaning of loyalty are common themes.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - This got a lot of buzz last year as being on par with Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. How could someone be murdered if they never existed? A whodunnit reminiscent of Agatha Christie in the best way. I felt like I was on the cruise ship and knew every character's persona and vulnerability. Great read!

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda - This mystery is told in reverse and I kept waiting for a big reveal, but the last third fell flat for me. Never reached its potential.

Next up:
Saving Sophie by Ronald H. Balson
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams

March 20, 2017

Contemplative

One of my favorite graduate courses was Professional Ethics. The instructor and class really pushed my boundaries and challenged me to be more contemplative vs. feeling like I always have to know the answer (aka be right). It also exposed me to different types of ethical frameworks - often rooted in religion. I can still hear the instructor saying,
Learn to live in the questions

Another favorite course was Organizational Change. This extended contemplation to seeking different approaches to universal problems ... basically moving from living in the questions to answering them with a consensus building approach.
Perceiving in new ways leads to new possibilities

These concepts have really stuck with me (guess I got my money's worth!). I was in search of a way to practice these concepts further in my own daily life. I'm fed up with the extreme polarization - religious, cultural, political - that seems to be everywhere and feel a pull toward personal spiritual fulfillment that isn't preachy. One the resources I have found is a "daily meditation" rooted in theology but not married to any one religion (not just one Christian religion, but open to all religions). Let's be part of the solution instead of part of the problem, open to the opposition by learning and talking about what's good and move it in a new direction.

Here is once excerpt that I'm keep reading over and over - letting my thoughts and actions be a reflection of my mindful habits.

Contemplation is an entirely new way of knowing the world that has the power to move us beyond mere ideology and dualistic thinking. Mature religion will always lead us to some form of prayer, meditation, or contemplation to balance out our daily calculating mind. Believe me, it is major surgery, and you must practice it for years to begin to rewire your egocentric responses.

Imagine a river or stream. You’re sitting on the bank of this river, where boats and ships are sailing past. While the stream flows past your inner eye, I ask you to name each one of the “vessels” or thoughts floating by. For example, one of the boats could be called “my anxiety about tomorrow.” Or along comes the ship “objections to my spouse” or “I don’t do that well.” Every judgment that you pass is one of these boats. Take the time to give each one of them a name, and then let it move on.

For some people this is a very difficult exercise because we’re used to jumping aboard our boats immediately; in doing so, we give them “gas”! As soon as we own a boat and identify with it, it picks up its own energy. We have to practice un-possessing, letting go, detaching from our thoughts and feelings, or they own us. With every idea or image that comes into our head, we have the opportunity to say, “No, I’m not that; I don’t need that; that’s not me.” This frees you to intentionally choose your divine identity instead.

From this mature and wide awareness, I can later do what needs to be done, but my contentment is not dependent upon my actions or their outcome. There is less and less room for compulsivity, fanaticism, trumped-up excitement, or even hopelessness. If I am personally identified with my private viewing platform, every event has the power to snag, grab, and control me. This could be called unawareness, the unawakened state, or blindness. Through contemplation, I stop labeling, ranking, and categorizing people and things and just see them without letting them “possess” me.

March 6, 2017

Monthly Book Review: Feb 2017

Not sure why this was a slow month - lets chalk it up to there only being 28 days. 

Everybody Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave - another from the WWII genre, it started out strong and sadly went flat halfway through

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - can't an old, tired man just die in peace? Not when new neighbors move in, a cat shows up and his frenemy needs help. Slow to start but picks up and then couldn't get enough. My mom recommended this. I was surprised to see it was a film (foreign) nominated for an academy award while watching last week's Oscars. I may watch it. Note: Ove is pronounced U-va.

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes - follow up to You; has the flavor of the first book, but a different tack. There's something about Joe Goldberg you can't help but like though he's a maniacal, egotistical psychopath. Note: like it's predecessor, explicit so not for the faint of heart. P.S. I'm obsessed with the narrator's voice - he should record everything!!!

Next up:
House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

March 5, 2017

Bingeing


I'm pretty sure I could gold medal in binge-watching. I easily qualified by watching ALL Gilmore Girls episodes - original and new on Netflix. Can't believe I never watched when it was in its prime. Then I hit quarterfinals with the second season of The Man in the High Castle on Amazon and the new Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix (Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant have great chemistry). I've since watched season 1 of Bloodline on Netflix and am halfway through the new The Collection on Amazon. Looking forward to the next season of Grace and Frankie (less than 3 weeks!) and House of Cards on Netflix.

Also on my to-watch list:
Sneaky Pete
Grantchester
Good Girls Revolt

March 1, 2017

The Quiet Zone

It's been pretty quiet around here. Bittersweet. Both Chunky and I are introverts with loud thinking so it's not unpleasant, just a big change.

Sassy moved out to a rental house across town with her boyfriend and another good friend a week and a half ago. It's a right of passage, sign of maturity and frankly the right time. Our home is on the market so all of us moving is inevitable. I bought Sassy her own Keurig and gave her a bunch of kitchen stuff (pans, bowls, gadgets) I don't use. She took her cat, Mittens, and I had her take my cat (or at least she pretends to be mine when someone she favors isn't about), Sookie, too so Mittens isn't lonely and Chunky's cat, Kenny, doesn't beat up on her more than he already did (good thing he's the cutest little mouser).

Hubby has also moved out - he's been in a hospital and rehab facility for almost six months and we've made the decision to move forward with our lives separately. I am very much at peace with this - it's been a long time coming mostly due to temperament/values vs care needs. The logistics are murky and cause the most angst, but the separation has been very enlightening and healing for me.  

So for now I'm down to one kid, one cat and one dog in a big house.

February 17, 2017

Better late than never

You can ask the universe for all the signs you want, but ultimately, we see what we want to see when we're ready to see it.

February 9, 2017

Links and loves

Along with the rest of the free world I am obsessed with Ed Sheeran. In my mind (and in the shower) I dance as well as everyone in this video to his latest single :)

I recently attended a presentation featuring former MA governor and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. Here's the video as well another featuring Richard Dreyfuss' on the importance of civics (he spoke at last year's City Club which I attended, but no video of that one).

I am loving PBS' new series Spy in the Wild - a unique perspective on animal behavior.

Speaking of "behavior", if you haven't watched Good Behavior on TNT, get on it!

I've seen over half of this year's Academy Award best picture nominees - I think that might be a personal record. I rank Arrival as my favorite of those I've seen with Hidden Figures and Lion as close second/third. La La Land was good, but I'm not gaga over it like the rest of the free world. Manchester by the Sea was meh for me.