Friday, February 18, 2011

Do These Books Make Me Look Smart?

Do these books make me look smart?
 How about these?  

 Or these?

I know what you are thinking…what a well read young woman!!  She has a complete grasp of American history, including religions and war.  Her knowledge of civilizations throughout the world is vast and she has a special interest in woman’s rights and social justice.  She is so down to earth that young adult fiction is not below her.  That is what you are thinking, right?   RIGHT? 

Ok, so maybe not.  The truth is, I haven’t read all of these books.  Some are left over text books “just in case” I teach an elective on the Shaker Religion in America or revolutions in Africa.  But we all know that teaching ship has sailed.  Some of these books are books I want to have read.  I’d love to say I’ve read Gloria Steinman, but I haven’t.  The book travels with me from place to place, hoping to be read. Many books are gifts, because what else do you get a social studies teacher but a book about Ben Franklin and 17 different coffee table books filled with Time Life photos?   Some of these books have transformed me.  I always think that I will read these again to delve deeper into the author’s meanings or perhaps relive the meaning they had for me at the time.  But the reality is that I think books find you when you need them and our time together has past. It is just so hard to break up with a good book, you know?  

I have to ask myself why I keep these books.  The truth is, it is to look smart.  It is because I think “someone like me” would have a lot of books.   But the clutter of these books are heavy both physically and emotionally.  I calculated it on google maps and these books have traveled 570 miles with me over a 7 year time frame.  I look at them and think about how smart I used to be.  How passionate I was about one issue or another.  How much expendable income I must have had.  Sometimes I feel like less of a person for not being as “booky” as I used to be.   But then I look at all different ways I am learning each day, how access to the internet has grown in the past 7 years, and how so much information can be stored on this…

In an attempt to de-clutter my life, these books are being sold.  I’ve listed them on Amazon and in just two days I’ve sold 10.  Hopefully, they are off to find the person who needs them next.  If I really need them again, I can always buy them on Kindle : )  

What are some things that you hold on to?  For what reasons?  Is it time for it to go? 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Reading Roots

I love reading.  I love having smart people to read and discuss books with.  As a teacher I always became friends with the English teachers.  I was so jealous of their subject that perhaps if I had become an English teacher, I would still be a teacher.  Eh, probably not.  Anyway, in Philadelphia I was in two books clubs.  One with English teachers that enjoyed good books and good wine.  Another with a mix of friends that enjoyed good wine and occasionally read the books.  I fit in just fine with both groups.  So one of my English teacher friends who I still rely on for advice, intelligent conversation, and laughter has blog which allows me to get these things from her more often than a phone call once in awhile and a visit to Philly a couple times a year.  This is her blog.  You should read it.   After that, you should read my post on her "Maladjusted Book Club"  I've pasted it in the next box.


God, Women, and Food by Geneen Roth

"I believed there was an end goal, a place at which I would arrive and forevermore be at peace.  And since I also believed that the way to get there was by judging and shaming and hating myself, I also believed in diets."
 Quoted from "God, Women, and Food" by Geneen Roth (someone needs to teach me how to find page numbers on a Kindle

No lie, I tried to diet while reading this book.  I am getting married this year and of course all future brides must go on a diet.   It is even on the checklist of "The Knot" website. Besides, we will all be happy when we are thin and have husbands.  Then we will have kids and give our lives to them and get fat.  Isn't that the way it works (sarcasm)?  Roth highlights in the quote above.  I always thought that I would be thin when…I went to college, when I finished college, when I was living on my own and had power over my food, when I had a job that made me happy, when I was my late twenties…yada yada yada. 

Roth points out that we are always reaching for a place in the future rather than dealing with the now.  Instead adjusting to life in the now we blame it.  When we gain weight because we have a desk job it is because we are ignoring our bodies need for exercise and blaming work.  When we eat too much during the holidays we are ignoring our bodies when they are full and blaming tradition and family. 

 I went on this crazy diet while I was working on a campaign this fall.  Because I was so distracted with the intense work of the campaign, I didn't notice how much this diet sucked.  When I started it up after the holidays I just couldn't do it.  It was so restrictive I was feeling light headed in Zumba class and having to stop and rest during spinning class.  I was miserable and just couldn't do it.   

My body loves and needs the exercise I get at the gym.   My body loves water and hates soda.   My body hates adding water to dried packets of soup, shakes, pudding, and scrambled eggs (seriously, yuck) and living off of a whooping 900 calories a day.    My body loves a piece of chocolate once in awhile.  It loves macaroni and cheese, grilled vegetables and chicken, crisp strips of yellow, red, and orange peppers.  It loves ice cream and hummus (separately).  Sometimes it loves Kashi, sometimes it loves Cheerios.  Roth tells us our bodies and our minds can be happy now, not after that next diet.  

So I went to David’s Bridal and I tried on wedding dresses in my current size.  I looked awesome.  I asked my fiancĂ© if he would still marry me if I was this size on our wedding day.  He is still my fiancĂ© so you know his answer.  If I walk down the aisle in October in this weight, it will be fine.  If I continue to accept myself and listen to my body, I have a suspicion that my dress size might be a bit smaller.  Either way, I’ll still be happy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stop and Smell the Snow Day

Among other things, teachers get a bad rap for snow days.  We can argue those merits and how much teachers actually work, but you all know how I stand on that.  Due to "the end is near" snow forecasts yesterday, even non-teachers are sitting home today.

So today I urge you to stop and smell the snow day.  Enjoy an hour of uninterrupted reading.  Give those poor people at Starbucks and Dunkin' and day off and learn what coffee made in your own house tastes like. Wear sweatpants, get out your old comfy blanket, if you are lucky enough, build a fire.   Watch some daytime TV, take a bath, play a board game, TAKE A NAP, write a letter, post and share some family pictures.  You know, all those things you would do if you had more time.  Laugh with your kids, call your mom, walk your dog.  Test the hypothesis that you actually have enough food in the refrigerator and on the cabinet shelves to survive the day (and probably many many more).  If you must, do some laundry or wash some dishes.  

Then, see how you feel tomorrow.  Are you more rested when you wake up? Did the world continue to turn?  Is all your work still waiting for you?  Are you better at your job after a day of rest? Living in the Northeast, we have an opportunity to "hibernate" in the winter, to rest and renew ourselves for the coming spring.  Why not take a day or two to do so and keep the winter blues at bay.  Stop and smell the snow day!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Where I am not.

It figures that right now, as I sit here unemployed and still a bit unsure where I want to go with life, I would get these two offers.  The first offer was for an alumni radio show that does a "Where are they now?" type theme.  A quick thinking friend said, "Oh she'll have to go on your show some other time" and got me out of it.  Then I got a phone call from Barb at the St. Francis Inn who was writing a "Where are they now?" type piece for their newsletter.  Bless her heart, she did not react awkwardly when I said, "I'm unemployed" and we cobbled together all sorts of exciting things like a new dog, being engaged, writing a blog, cleaning four loads of laundry in one day (ok I'm stretching it here). So it got me thinking.  Where am I now?  or more importantly, Where am I not?

Here is where I'm not...
I am not spending my evenings grading papers. 
I am not feeling guilt on weekends when I chose to do something fun over something school or home related.  I am not working under someone who ignores my talents and obsesses over my flaws.
I am not crying.
I am not a slave to my email.
I am not getting up before 9am.
I am not reading books I don't want to read.
I am not killing massive amounts of trees.
I am not stuck.
I am not  not good enough.
I am not convincing myself that I should be doing something because it is always what I thought I would do.
I am not doing something because it pays well.
I am not exhausted all the time.
I am not wondering when it will get better.

I know I am very lucky and blessed to be "not" doing all of these things.  It is through the generosity of my fiance and the State of NY that allows me to "not be." That makes the next step even more important. I will not settle for what is routine and expected. I will not not waste this glorious time. 

What are you not?