29 September 2013

Book Club Love

I had two goals for myself this weekend: paint my toenails and write a blog post.

I'm happy to report that my toenails are a lovely shade of autumn red. Goal one...check!

As for the blog post....well, that hasn't been so easy. The more I have to say, the less time I have to say it.

Maybe I'll just stick to something simple today. Every once in a while I get to do something really cool like hang out with super-smart ladies, drink wine, and talk about books.

Yep, it's Book Club!

What I dearly love about book club (besides the wine and brilliant women) is that it compels me to read things that I normally would never have chosen for myself. And sometimes I'm actually excited by what I discover.

This time around, the selection was The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. Now, I'm not a sports enthusiast. I'm actually more of a sports un-enthusiast, if truth be told. But this novel ended up being about so much more than baseball - I grew really attached to the characters and started to really worry about them toward the end.

Here is Amazon.com's description of the novel:

"At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, "The Art of Fielding is mere baseball fiction the way Moby Dick is just a fish story" (Nicholas Dawidoff). It is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others."

Pella Affenlight annoyed me, Owen Dunne delighted and amused me, and Mike Schwartz just about stole my heart. The Art of Fielding is SUCH a character-driven book, I couldn't help but love it. And my Book Club Bettys agreed: this one is a keeper!

Of course, book club is often more about getting together with friends, enjoying a delicious meal together and a glass of vino, and catching up on each other's lives than it is about the novel. But this time, at least for a little while, it was ALL about the book!

Stay tuned for our next book club selection: Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski.

Goal number two...check!  Many happy returns,

Today's Gratitude List:
  • Lazy Sunday mornings
  • Trail mix
  • NPR podcasts
  • Phone calls with my best friend

17 September 2013

Happy is as Happy does...

I recently showed this pie chart to my 12th grade students. It inspired a lively conversation so I'm taking the chance that it's blog-worthy too.
What makes people happy?
Well, according to research (and the lovely pie chart above), HALF of our happiness is genetic. We each have a genetic "set point" for happiness and after every event, good or bad, we tend to return to that set point. Some people have a genetically higher set point - that's just the way they're programmed. Some people (I'm sure you know a few) just have a lower set point.
Another 40% of a person's happiness depends on what's termed "Intentional Activity."  These are the actions you choose to do that make you happy. Like blogging. Or wine-tasting. Or talking a walk on the beach.  YOU have complete control over these actions -- a refreshing thought, in my opinion (and a nice counter-balance to the genetic set point).
The final 10% - the SMALLEST wedge of the pie (I was actually kind of shocked by this)- is dependent on circumstances. These include how much money you have, your perceived image, status, and popularity, where you live, work-related issues, etc.
Only 10%....but if you ask some people what it would take to make them feel happy (or successful or fulfilled in life) they might just draw their answers from that smallest piece of the pie.
So, what makes you happy? Are you intrinsically or extrinsically motivated? Which piece of the pie are you savoring today?
Here's what's making me happy right now:
Wishing you happiness too!


Today's Gratitude List:
  • Being home earlier (from work) than expected
  • Blue, blue skies
  • Swings and slides and teeter-totters
  • Stuffed porkchops for dinner tonight!

07 September 2013

Spare Time

Newbie yearbook staffer (practicing interviewing skills): So, Ms. H, what do you do in your spare time? You know, when you're not teaching?

Me: Ha ha ha  - that's funny.


Me: Oh! That was a real question?!

Spare time? What do I do when I'm not at work? Hmmmm. Well, I'd love to be able to say that "I travel extensively" or "I volunteer at local animal shelters and food banks." I'd like to say that in my spare time "I cultivate my own organic vegetables" and "I paint watercolor landscapes." Or at the very least that "I blog regularly."

I'd like to say those things. But I can't.

What do I do when I'm not at my full time teaching gig? I'm unbelievably busy at my other full time job: being Izzy's mom. Is that time considered "spare" time? Probably not. Though it is the most IMPORTANT way I spend my time, and I get more joy and more reward out of being a mommy than I ever have at any job I've ever had.  Still, it isn't "spare" time.

There really is very little time to spare, when I think about it. Nope - I cannot spare a square of it.

So where does this leave me? Is there room for just little ol' "me" in TIME?

It's difficult at best. I'm just now learning to seize the opportunities when they occur. If I get to blog once a week - awesome! If I get to read a chapter of a good book for half an hour - hooray! Even if I just get 15 minutes to browse through Pinterest - I'm stoked. I'll take these "spares" when I can get them and relish every second.

Heaven knows they are rare.

And if I'm not traveling the world right now - or saving it - that's okay. The time I have will have to do and I'll do my best to make the most of it.

Because really, who has time to spare worrying about spare time?


Today's Gratitude List:
  • Homemade oatmeal cookies
  • A little spare time to blog :)
  • Pantry full of groceries
  • My husband's big strong arms
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