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I picked up Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project at the airport over the weekend.  I chose it because I liked the cover, and I’ve been interested in reading her other book which is about finding contentment in domesticity.  Also, all the other books for sale in the airport looked like copycats of 50 Shades of Grey.  No thanks.

I wasn’t that into the book at first.  It seemed like she was doing too many things to try to create more happiness in her life.  Each month she added new projects to the ones that she had already started the month before.  It was overwhelming.  Also, I’m at a very different place in life than she is.  I’m preparing for a huge life change and she’s trying to find happiness in her day to day not-really-changing life.  Still, she had some good things to say.

Each month she focuses on a different facet of her life.  Marriage.  Fun.  Work.  Etc.  Her Fun chapter is really interesting.  She comes to terms with the fact that her idea of fun is not necessarily other people’s idea of fun.  And vice versa.  For me, when I moved to California, I realized that I loved being away from sports, football in particular.  Going to the games every weekend in the fall had become less and less enjoyable to me over the years, and I needed a break.  (I didn’t realize that it was a break at the time.  I thought I was done forever, and then I met Gregg.)  I find it more enjoyable now, but to admit, even for a time, that I didn’t really like this sporting event that everyone around me loved was kind of freeing.

One of her fun projects was to start a Children’s Literature book club.  This totally resonated with me.  First, I surprisingly L.O.V.E.D,  Harry Potter.  OMG.  And as I’ve read The Secret Garden and Heidi, among other Kidlit over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten a different bit of joy than that which comes from an adult read.  Sure, some are a little boring.  Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, for example, were too slow or something, I couldn’t get into them.  And I’ve never been good at seeing the movie (or watching the show as the case may be) and then reading the book.  But, she made me want to tap deeper into this genre of books.  They’re so fun to read.

She has a very “Type A” approach to happiness.  She creates to do lists and challenges herself to do things that she thinks and has even researched will make her happy.  One gem that I received from her is “Act how you feel.”  This reminds me of Reimagine‘s philosophy: Do/experiment and the feeling/change will follow, instead of wait around for the feeling and then make the change.

I’ve been irritable this week.  I’m not sure if its being pregnant (so nice to blame that for everything) or the weather or something else.  But, for the rest of the day, I’m going to act loving and sweet, even if I don’t feel like it.  And maybe the feeling will come?  We’ll see…..

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I’m really getting into learning about labor and birth.  I love reading about what to do to prepare and what the experience could possibly be like.  Lea calls the experience of medication-free contractions Laborland.  Sounds like Candyland, but I don’t think there’s much of a similarity.

But, I’ve been having some issues with the natural childbirth books that I’ve been reading.

First, what I love.  I love hearing what a female body is capable of doing.  I love hearing about the power of the mind when in labor: not feeling safe (i.e. someone that you don’t like/don’t trust coming into the labor room) can actually make a woman regress in her labor.  Woa.  I’m interested in learning what I need to do to prepare, both mentally and physically, and I love when these books help me do that.  And I love that, with their books, they share an alternative approach to the traditional, mainstream hospital setting.

What I don’t like is the total anti-establishment, anti-modern medicine attitude that some of these authors take.  I get it, its important for women to be informed about their choices and understand the interventions that may be offered to them in the hospital.  I just don’t like the bashing.  I don’t like painting every medication used for induction like it is going destroy your baby and your body.  There are risks with these medications, certainly, but the way they are presented could instill a lot of unnecessary fear.  I feel like the tone should be more to inform and not bash, but I don’t think an unbiased view on this subject exists and maybe it shouldn’t.

I think I’m sensitive about this issue because I’ve worked in the environment that they are bashing, and it is very protocol-driven.  I don’t like the Ob/Gyn’s and hospital staff being portrayed as uncaring clock-watchers (they are out there, but its not the majority).  Just don’t bash my friends!  I know the doctors and the nurses that work in the establishment and the majority of them care so much about their patients and want to take very good care of them throughout their pregnancy, labor, and birth.

Bloggers, sometimes do you think you are repeating yourself in your posts?  Sometimes, I think, have I said this before…?  Hope I’m not being too repetitive.

I started listening to Bringing up Bebe this morning.  I’m already thankful that this is the first pregnancy/parenting/baby book I’m reading during my pregnancy.  The book’s author is an American woman who conceives, carries, and raises 3 children in Paris.  While in France, she observes how different the entire French culture approaches motherhood and parenthood than we do in America.  Their attitude is much more worry-free while still raising confident and creative children.  The French pregnancy magazines have articles entitled “9 Month Spa” rather than “Is it safe?”  During pregnancy they encourage indulgence (while somehow gaining the recommended French 26 pounds versus the American recommended 35 pounds) rather than fear.  The French parents aren’t required to adhere to one parenting theory or another, instead, they have a cultural theory that’s so embedded into everyone’s psyche that its actually difficult for the French to articulate what it is.

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

Step One: Invite someone else to be in the Book Club.

I think, by definition, a club has to have at least two and probably more like three to four people to be considered a club.  That said, I sent a text to a semi-friend asking her if she would be interested in joining a book club.  I also asked her if she knew anyone else that would want to be a part of a book club (the whole thing about a club needing more than one or two people came into play here).

Step Two: Wait for a response.

She said yes!  I only had to wait 24 hours, but I was kinda nervous, imagining her reading the text and trying to figure out how she could get out of the invite.  But. now, my confidence is up, so I can go to Steps 3, 4, & 5.

Step Three: Invite more people.

Step Four: Pick where and when we want to meet.

Step Five: Start getting to know each other and pick a book that everyone will love and be excited to talk about.

If we’re doing a repeat, like, let’s all pick a book that you like/that you’ve read before/that would be a good Book Club book, I’d suggest…

Life of Pi

or

Kite Runner

or the classic

To Kill a Mockingbird

But, if we’re going to branch out and make suggestions for books we’ve wanted to read but hadn’t gotten to yet.  I’d say…

The Marriage Plot

or

State of Wonder

or

Cutting for Stone

I had to wait until I finished Harry Potter before initiating this Club.

Any book suggestions?

Its been a pleasure, really.  I’m sorry that it took me so long to meet you.  Really, I don’t know why I resisted for so long.  I was making some kind of pointless statement to nobody in particular.  I’ll miss the long hours that we shared together.  I’m just sad to see it all end.

At a time in my life where I have very few friends close by, you and your friends have provided great company for me.

Also, thank you for dedicating your last book to me, I really appreciate it.

Semi-SPOILER ALERT!!

I thought that you were going to die in the end.  And you did, but not in the way I expected.

I just really don’t get what all that drama and discord was/is about over you, your world, and your books.  You teach us that good conquers evil, and that selfless, sacrificial love conquers all.  Sounds like Jesus to me.

Thanks,

Pryor

I’ve been loving Anne Lamott lately.  She lives just north of San Francisco, so she’s always walking around on the hills of Marin County.  That is a lovely, sacred place up there.  As Wimbo says, its smells like “sun-drenched eucalyptus.”  She is so irreverent (Anne, not Wimbo), talking about her hatred, literally, of the Republican party.  But its her honesty that makes her so easy to relate to and such a joy to read.  She talks about her love/hate relationship with her body.  She writes about trying to do well but failing most of the time.  She is self-deprecating in a way that makes you, as the reader, feel normal.  Grace is always the theme of her books.

Usually, she’s fairly light-hearted in her story-telling, even as she shares about God and her faith.  Every now and then, though, she has this heavy wisdom that smacks you in between the eyes.

Last night, I read the second to last chapter in Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith.  In it, she shares with the reader the advice she usually reserves for graduates when she is asked to give a commencement speech.  Its not your typical, Go get ’em tigers, message.  Instead of run in the rat race and shoot for your dreams and try your best to succeed, she says get to know yourself.  She says that, as a successful writer, she’s reached her dreams, but that hole inside of her has not been suddenly filled up now that she has arrived.  So, her advice is rest and pray and enjoy life.  Okay, so you have to pay your bills.  And, hopefully you can do that by working at a job that you love.  But, her point is that getting that dream job is not what’s going to make you happy.

Her message is very applicable to us.  Gregg sold his chickens.  I was disappointing and sad about it, but he felt relieved.  Day after day, he was watching their numbers decline due to the foxes and hawks and whatever else.  He says that he was over-eager.  He was so ready to get started working with animals, but he didn’t really have a plan.  Oops.  To his credit, he didn’t really know what the plan needed to be.  So, what now?  Quit?  Go home?  Pack up and move back to Knoxville?  We’ve thought about it, but no.  We’re sticking it out here.  He’s got more to learn, A LOT more to learn.  And, more and more, I think that learning is the point of all this.  Making money is not the point.  Hopefully that will come eventually, learning how to make money from farming.  But, now, and maybe for awhile.  The point is how to plan and care for animals and get something in return (eggs, wool, milk, meat, whatever).

So, we are (probably) moving, but not out of town.  We are going to move to a farmhouse on the Eastern Shore.  Ugh.  Moving again.  This makes house #4(!!) for us since we’ve been married.  I can’t wait to show some pictures of the house.  Its got wallpaper in the hallways which I kind of love, but then the carpet is just ridiculous.  It has swirlies on it.  And I think there’s hardwood under it!  Oh well.  The reason we are strongly considering the move has nothing to do with the wallpaper or carpet.  Gregg needs to live with his animals.  With the chickens, he had a fifteen minute drive every morning and evening, and then he wasn’t there with them during the day to protect them and all of that.  About an acre or two of land comes with the farmhouse.  On the land is a fence, a barn, a shed, a grain storage bin.  All the things a farmless farmer needs to become an actual farmer.  And all these things are already in place, ready for Gregg.

I’m becoming a books-on-tape fanatic.  Actually, books-on-CD, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?  Here’s the deal.  You get a library card and go to your local library.  Or, like in my case, if your library has a poor selection, you borrow someone else’s library card and go to the library close to work.   This library is huge, has a great selection and is shaped like a gigantic silver wave.  (I’m talking about the Virginia Beach library.)  I love listening to chick lit where the girls talk about boys and fashion in a British accent.  I’ve really been enjoying Sophie Kinsella.  She doesn’t get as raunchy as some of the other authors of this genre, but she’s still light-hearted and mindless in a good way.  Also, autobiographies written by female comedians are great post-work reads, er…I mean, listens.  Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey are the only authors I know of that have written books in this genre.  Both of their books are short, sweet, and laugh out loud funny, which is always a treat by yourself in your car.