It’s Friday, my Friends!

There was no Friday post last week! Guess why?

It wasn’t because it was a holiday the night before…or wait…maybe it was. July 3rd and 4th were pretty darn fun in all the best kinds of ways: food, friends, good times. On Friday morning, I wasn’t sure if all the fun caught up to me or I had caught a virus. It could very well be that I caught a virus because the fun caught up to me. I woke up with a terrible sore throat and a fever and spent the next three days in bed reading a book. Oh! Poor me! If it weren’t for the worst sore throat and ear infection ever, I would have called it a “retreat.” Thanks to our fabulous urgent care and the miracle of antibiotics, I was still exhausted but up and at ‘em again on Monday! I’ll still have a sexy gravely voice for a week, but I’ll take it! The upside is that I finished three-quarters of “Under the Dome” over the weekend!

While I was laying in bed…dying…I considered getting up and writing my Friday post, but then thought better of it. I’ll just catch up later, I thought. I’ll be better tomorrow. And then suddenly it was Tuesday.

So here I am. You can’t catch up with life anyway, you can only pick up where you are!

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope your weekend is filled with adventure…even if you’re watching it on Netflix!

Thing I learned: There are amazingly interesting people on the internet! I joined a new Facebook group this week and have been devouring all its content for days. The people! Wow! So many interesting points of view, so many ideas, so much love and interest in being kind and supportive. It’s kinda hard not to invite them all over for coffee! I hear so much negativity about people on the internet, and I do understand it, but I have a feeling we’ve all been adjusting to the new medium and we’ll come out the other side a bit scarred from battle but wiser for the wear.

Thing I’m reading: “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters” by Tom Nichols. Ok. First of all, just the title of this book irritates me. And then when I started to read it, I started to better understand the idea of term “triggered.” Which made me want to read it more! He has some seriously great points to make and I’m understanding something about myself that I don’t like. I’m one of those “don’t tell me what to do” people and sometimes it’s not good for me or the people around me. One thing I started to think while reading it is that specialization is a good thing for society. I agree that division of labor makes everyone’s lives easier. We can’t all be experts at everything! But what do we do when lose trust in just about everyone around us? I’m hoping he has some answers to that by the end of this book!

Thing I heard: A new friend introduced me to a new bluegrass band, and while I’ve never been a big fan of the genre, this was interesting enough for me to listen to a whole album, “Yoder Mountain String Band.” Lucky for me, I have Amazon Music, so I downloaded a couple albums and have been snacking on their tunes as I drive the desert roads.

Thing I want to do: Focus! Oh, lord, please help me focus! Ever since I got back from our vacation, I feel like I’m in a million places at once; like a kid in a candy store, rushing from one bin to the next, shoving every piece into my mouth, my pockets, my bag, and running out before someone tells me no! What am I going to do about it? No idea. A friend shared a picture on Facebook yesterday that I was totally going to post myself and now I can’t because it will look like I’m just copying him! But I digress, again. The picture was simple, “Temporarily Closed for Spiritual Maintenance.” That’s what I need to do, close. I need to shut down social media, turn off my phone, and do some serious re-focusing. But then again, do I really need to? Maybe next week! At the moment, I’m having to much fun to change anything.

Picture of the week:

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This was unexpected! I’ve been trying to post one picture on Instagram every day. Why? No idea. It just seemed like fun. So, the sun was starting to go down and I hadn’t taken a good one that day and I went out into the yard looking for a subject. My yard is a wealth of photo subjects!

Right outside was a birdhouse my Mom and brought over years ago. I had stuck it up in the crook of a Joshua Tree. I seriously doubt any respectable bird would ever make his home there, but it looks pretty sitting there. It’s above my head, but I didn’t bother to get a step and try to take a good picture. I just lifted my phone over my head, pointed it in the approximate angle of the front door, and snapped. I came inside (out of this blasted heat) and posted it on IG. Done!

Here’s the funny part. A few minutes later, a friend commented “Inhabited! Excellent!” What was she talking about? I opened the picture and zoomed to find…a lizard staring out the front door! What?! Another friend said I should call it a “Beardie House.” It was hilarious and adorable!

There has to be some philosophical thing to learn here. Right? We really don’t know what we’re doing when we do it most times. We just point and shoot and share…who knows what magic we’ll find! But what if I hadn’t decided to post a picture a day? Or what if I was just decided, eh…who cares…I’ll skip it today?

It’s Friday My…Friends!

Inspired by an old podcast interview by Tim Ferriss yesterday and an amazing blog I found this morning called Sagittarius Viking, I’ve decided to add a new page to my website called, “It’s Friday my…Friends!”

Every Friday I plan, I say “plan” here because what actually happens is usually far from what I planned much like most of my life, I PLAN on creating a candid, what’s going on around here post. It’ll be short and sweet. A “Things I’m thinking about, doing, noticed, or reading” kind of post.

How should I do this? I could just ramble on every Friday, but I don’t want to bore you! How about a set list of things?

Picture of the week, Complaint/Venting, Something I Learned, Something I Listened To, and Something I’m Reading, Quote (Sometimes),

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Abe, my sweet prince, loves to sit next to me while I read in the morning. I guess I got up for too many cups of coffee today because he looked a little annoyed…and it was adorable!

Complaint! I feel like I got nothing done this week! I took my older son the airport, which took all day. The next day I was exhausted. Then I had a lunch date with a friend…an hour and half away. It was worth it though. Something I constantly struggle with is keeping focused and on track. I’m easily distracted, and I tend to feel like I have twenty kites up in the air and they’re all about to fly away with me!

Something I Learned! Much to my most painful surprise, I learned that I may be happily married to the love of my life, but I’ll still make a fool out of myself in front of attractive men.

Something I Listened To! I love podcasts! I listen to them while driving or while I’m doing the dishes. Sometimes I listen and play video games. This week it was Tim Ferriss’ interview with Derek Severs  from a few years ago. It may be an old interview, but it was perfect timing for me!

Something I’m Reading! I have two books open at the moment. “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” by Robert Putnam. Sounds depressing, especially since it was written twenty years ago, but it’s not. It’s slow reading for me, about twenty pages a day, but I’m really getting a lot out of it. I’ve got loads of notes and I’m doing my best to look up newer statistics and wondering if he, or someone else, has written a follow-up.

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt. When I got this, I had no idea what it would be about. I’m nearly halfway through and I’m still wondering. I’m loving every page though and just dying to know where she’s going to go with all this!

Quote! I’m need to keep better track of the quotes I find awesome, but here’s the one I want to share today. It’s from that interview with Derek Severs

“I think I would make a billboard that would say, It Won’t Make You Happy, and I would place it outside any big shopping mall, or car dealer. So, ideally –you know what would be a fun project, actually, would be to buy and train thousands of parrots to say, it won’t make you happy!”

Nothing makes you happy. Happy is the side effect feeling you get when you’re doing things in the right frame of mind…like right now as I’m writing this, after fighting sitting down and writing all morning long. I finally showed up and then the happiness overflowed.

Practice makes…better!

20190514_1022191324249862372238474.jpgIt’s week three of making space for writing every day of the week and I think it is already starting to pay off.

Years ago, I read that to learn to read better, more complicated books, you should start reading and gradually you’ll learn to read for longer sets and to tackle more difficult texts. I started with a “classics” reading list for young adults and the suggested reading from my set of The Great Books of the Western World.

I started by changing the first thing I did every morning from TV to a book. Ok, it wasn’t the FIRST thing. The first thing was to visit the bathroom and then get a big cup of coffee. THEN, I’d get my book…and my glasses…and a pencil and journal. I’d start with the more difficult reading and keep at it as long as I could understand what I was reading. As I read, I’d take notes of things I found interesting and wanted to remember or comment on later. At first, I could only read that book for about ten to fifteen minutes at a time before my mind started to drift away. That’s when I’d move on to the easier book, usually some sort of classic fiction but sometimes my old favorites, Stephen King or Douglas Adams. I’d spend another fifteen to twenty minutes reading and then move on to the rest of my day. I had young kids then and they needed me. Thirty minutes a day was my limit for months, but it quickly evolved into an hour and then two most days.

I’m so glad that I’ve kept those reading journals! If I had to rely on my memory as to what I’ve read or what my reading habits have been, it would seem that I haven’t gotten anywhere in the last ten years. I look back on the journals and I know that’s not true. The proof, the trail of learning, is right there, written down for the world to see.

Today, I read for about three hours a day, in one hour stretches. I’m usually reading two books at the same time, some sort of fiction and non-fiction. I read the non-fiction first and then feast on the dessert of a sweet novel. It’s a beautiful way to start the day and sometimes I even work in an hour in the afternoon.

But…what does this have to do with writing? I was reading an article that mentioned writing journals a few weeks ago and put the two together. If the reading journal and making a tiny space for reading every day gave me what I have now, why wouldn’t it work the same for writing? And here I am.

I picked up one of my empty journals to use as a writing log. In it I list the date, the time I started on each project, and how long I spent on it. It’s a lot like my reading log. It has been amazingly satisfying at the end of the year to see how many books I’ve read and how many hours I spent reading them, so I thought maybe it would be even more exciting to see how much time I’ve spent writing!

It’s working so far. I put it at the beginning of my day to sit and write for two hours, Monday through Friday while my husband is working in the next room. I read in the morning, do my workout, work in the yard, and then sit to write. It doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I’m writing something and not checking Facebook or texting a friend.

This past week I found something else that really helps me focus. Earplugs! I’m such a light sleeper that I wear them every night so that I don’t wake at every sound throughout the night and they are working wonders for focus while I’m thinking. I used to sit and hear a bird, then my son’s phone, the cat, my husband’s phone call, etc. What can I say? I’m easily distracted. But with the earplugs in, it’s like I’m all alone. People walk through the room and I stay at the screen. Kids are in and out of the livingroom, watching tv, making food, I’m focused on my words. The only thing I can’t get past is music. My sons’ both play guitar and with my earplugs in I can mute out words but, for some weird reason, music drifts through and pulls me away. I’m able to shut my office door on those occasions, so it’s not a problem anymore.

Who would have thought earplugs would be so helpful? I wish I had discovered them in college when I was trying to write all those essays with my roommates around!

So here I am, tapping away on my keyboard. I can only stand to sit here for an hour at most before I get antsy and then everything I write starts to look bizarre to me, so I take a break at forty-five minutes and walk around my property. I don’t take my phone with me, even though sometimes I want to take a picture. That walk is to stretch my legs and think in silence. It’s very relaxing and centering. Today I stood at the top of my hill and looked out at the mountains still covered with snow. I’m a lucky girl.

To do anything well takes practice and you must make time to practice, not just shove it where you can. “I’m working right now.” I tell my sons when they come looking for me. They smile and back out of the room. “It can wait.” They say. They understand. They’ve learned this lesson too.

“A Student of History”

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Why did I pick this book from the shelf at the bookstore? Two reasons: it said “student” and “history.” I’m not picky when it comes to novels. Most times I judge a book by its cover and its synopsis. Reading the inside flap of this one, I thought it sounded a bit like Sunset Boulevard, so I decided to try it.

I have to be honest. I wasn’t that impressed. It was a good mystery. There were some interesting parts. I liked the characters mostly. But it was a little predictable and not very deep. The history would be more interesting if I was more familiar with Hollywood and Los Angeles maybe. I didn’t really care for the main character. I felt like he just fell into what was happening around him, kind of naïve, but maybe that was the point?

“Maybe I’d learn something about LA history – I was, after all, an historian – although, stupidly, with what I realize now was the particular arrogance of the overeducated and underemployed, I didn’t believe that there was anything the wealthy could teach me.”

Familiar. I think most of us believe, stupidly, that people different from us have nothing to add to our lives. That seems so bizarre. How can you learn anything from someone exactly like you? It goes both ways. The rich have something to learn from the poor too.

“I avoided the pile of books on my desk as if they were a lover with whom I’d split but still shared an apartment.”

I just loved this because I have a pile of books on my shelf just like this. I need to get to work, but someone on Facebook is wrong and I must set them straight!

“If you can’t buy something outright, you can’t afford it at all,” she said.

“Mrs. W-,” Dalton, chuckling, “the price was four hundred million dollars. Not too many people can afford four hundred million dollars.”

“That’s right!” she said. “And those that aren’t rich have no business pretending that they are.”

I know a lot of people would disagree and find this snobby, but she’s not totally wrong. If you’re making payments on something, you’ve borrowed from the future in the hope that you will be able to afford it. Save up for it instead. Houses, I guess, can be the exception, I suppose. It doesn’t make financial sense to spend money on housing AND save up for a future house at the same time. But everything else? Save up.

“And yet here he was, and my mother too – who despite her simple clothing and Target-bought handbag did not believe she was lesser than anyone.”

Attitude is everything. I wish I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I wish I could feel that I “belonged” wherever I wanted to be.

“I thought for a moment about taking a picture with my phone, but noticed that nobody else was taking pictures. Apparently the event was so commonplace that it did not require documentation.”

They weren’t taking pictures because it would be rude, not because it didn’t require documentation. Sure I’d love to remember seeing Mel Brooks at the Rite Aid in Buena Park (if it ever happened) but it would be rude to take pictures.

I don’t regret reading this book and I would recommend it for light, fun reading. It’s a good book. It’s just not one I thought was as “edgy and spellbinding” as the back cover said. It did emphasize one truism though. The divide between rich and poor is not that great. We all have our troubles. We all hurt. We all screw up. The very rich and influential have the added bonus of being public. When they do human things, we all get to watch and criticize. It’s sad really.

Pointless Fiction

You know when you learn something about someone that makes you feel less about them? Like you learn something about their past, their feelings about something important to you, the things they did growing up, or the things they do now and you’re like, “Ew. I do not want to get involved with that person!” But maybe if you did, you’d learn something about the world and about yourself; if you could separate the learning from the painful experience of dealing with someone else’s growing pains.

We all experience this with the people we meet, whether we want to or not, but we wouldn’t go looking for it and if we did, we’d be a mess. No one goes looking for pain…but many times painful experiences teach us the most about ourselves.

Reading fiction, novels, lets us do that without so much emotional personal pain. We experience other people’s lives and learn from them, but we don’t hurt from it as much because it’s not real, or if it is kind of real, at least it didn’t happen to us. It’s like looking at Medusa through a mirror. She won’t turn you to stone but she’s still hideous to see.

I’m reading a novel right now that makes me look at my life, my behavior and wonder if I have grown up at all the last 20 years. The characters in it closely resemble characters from my own life in my early twenties. I can identify with many of them and some of them I don’t understand at all, much like some of the people I worked with back then.

It’s fascinating learning from other people’s choices and points of view. Back then, when I was in college, would I have made similar choices if I were in that situation? Would I make different choices now? I believe I would but, to be honest, I’m not so sure. Sometimes I think I’m more mature, more open, more thoughtful, and then sometimes I catch myself falling into a tantrum fit over something instead of having a reasonable conversation. Some things about myself I want to change so badly and I realize there are some things I just need to accept.

But this isn’t about my behavior! It’s about novels and why we read them. Sure, they can be great entertainment, but they can be so much more if you let them, if you read them the right way, with your mind opened to learning from other people’s lives, fictional or not.

The best part about the character in a novel is that you get to hear their thought process, the reasons behind what they are doing. We rarely get that in real life. We only see our side of an argument, of a relationship, or an altercation in the workplace, on the road, etc. We only see our point of view. In a novel, we get to see all of it.

For me, reading novels reminds me that other people in this world are actually people with their own lives and agendas, their own traumatic childhood or disastrous family. The person at the stop sign next to me is not an NPC (non-player character) in my game of life. I had to go ask my son what that’s called, by the way. Do you know what I’m talking about? Those characters in the game that just fill space or give some background to the scene? They don’t really do anything. You can’t interact with them other than push them out of the way or run around them to kill time. The people in the grocery store aren’t like that. If you talk to them, they’ll remember it and go home thinking, “Wow. That person was so nice.” Or “What an ass!” They aren’t always there standing in line behind you or wandering the aisles looking for soup.

We get so wrapped up in our own lives that we start to think of the people around us as NPC’s. But I digress yet again.

Go read a book. Fiction is just as important as non-fiction! We can’t let ourselves get too wrapped up in it though, just like we can’t get too wrapped up in other people’s drama in real life. We learn what we can from story characters. Real people do need a bit more of our attention and love, but the bottom line is that their life is theirs, not ours. Besides, I have too much to read to take on your crazy life as well as my own!

Religious Literacy?

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You know, I really should write down where I found the recommendation for a book that I put on my Amazon wish list the moment I add it. I could easily put it in the comments and translate that to the book itself when I get it, but I have forgetten every single time. I’m not sure where I got the idea to read this one. I thought it was from a recent article that I read on a blog, but when I found that article it wasn’t in there. Oh well. Live and learn. I’ve left a post-it note for myself. Maybe now I’ll start!

“Religious Literacy” by Stephen Prothero

Many times, books that describe different religions can feel condescending to your own. I remember reading about different religions in high school and college textbooks and they always treat it like ancient mythology or fiction. There’s little respect for tradition. This book did not feel that way, at least from my Christian perspective.

It’s also not difficult to read and doesn’t get into deep details. It skims over the surface of history and points you in the direction where you can find more information throughout the book and in a “Further Reading” section at the back of the book.

Basically, it goes through a general history of religion in the United States, where we started and why, how it evolved over the years, and where we are now. It also gives great reasons why we should be generally familiar with all major religions whether we are religious ourselves or not. His thinking is that you can’t separate religion from history, philosophy, or science because it’s usually an integral part of why things have happened in the past. It’s a part of the story and if you throw it out, some things just don’t make sense anymore, or they look flat and uninteresting.

I agree. We can’t understand why the Pilgrims came across the ocean if we don’t know religious history. We can’t understand the slavery issue in the US, or Martin Luther King Jr.’s peaceful protests, or most of the issues in the Middle East, if we rule out any religious history study. As a Christian reading this, I felt a tad convicted about my lack of knowledge about my own religious history. You’d think we’d all at least know the differences between our own denominations, but most of us don’t.

I look at having a basic understanding of major religions the same way I look at any argument. We should define the terms before we start any discussion. If I don’t know that “Jesus” is not defined in the same way in all religions that know of him, then how can I even begin to discuss how we should be following him?

So now I’ve come to the end of another wonderful book with six more books and several Wikipedia pages added to my reading list. That means I got my money’s worth from this one!

What do you do?

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Someone asked me what I do last week and I told them, proudly, “I’m a writer.”

“Really? What do you write about?”

“Well…I write a blog…about…stuff. Books and such mostly. Things I think about.”

It sounded so vague. I’ve read loads of articles about blogging and keeping to a topic or theme, but I just have never been able to do it. I write about what comes up in my life, what I’m reading, what I’m seeing, how I feel about things. I try to find the meaning behind what I’m experiencing. Philosophical stuff.

Wait. Is what I write here “philosophy”?

I’ve read a lot of philosophy. Most of it, Socrates and Plato, seem beyond my understanding, but I love it. My son recently took a philosophy class in college and I was thrilled to hear all about it. I didn’t take any classes like that when I was in college. I was too busy in the theater, building and painting sets, being an “artist.”

Then a few days ago, I was reading an article in Philosophy Now about “The Decline and Rebirth of Philosophy.” The article talked about how we’ve separated philosophy out of everything and treated it like a science. It’s just not a science. You can’t talk philosophy all on its own without history, religion, relationships, etc. It how we talk about those things. History without philosophy is just a list of dates. Religion without philosophy is just doctrine. Relationships without philosophy is just social contract.

I found comforting words from the article, like “fancying themselves as experts on subjects on which there can be no expertise.” There are no expert philosophers! How do you like that?

In my opinion, we’re all philosophers to a degree. We all think about the relationships between things. We all try to live by a certain philosophy of love, kindness, selfishness, whatever. Some of us just like to talk about it more.

I googled “simple definition of philosophy” and found this on Wikipedia,

Philosophy is a way of thinking about the world, the universe, and society. It works by asking very basic questions about the nature of human thought, the nature of the universe, and the connections between them. The ideas in philosophy are often general and abstract.

I’d say that’s exactly what I write about. I see things, I think about them, I connect them to other things. I ask questions. I wonder. Books, social media, family, flowers, non-profits, history, relationships, parenting, homeschooling; my posts tend to be all over the place but they’re not. They all revolve around “Why?” I want to know why we are all going crazy over social media, why we send our kids to schools, why we spend our sexual lives with only one person.

I’m not writing to solve anything. I’m not telling anyone what is right or wrong. I’m only adding to the ongoing discussion. It’s one of the great things about the internet! So many ideas. So many discussions to be had. And all we do is insult people and watch funny cat videos.

Here’s another gem from the article, “philosophical disagreements are by nature unresolvable.” That doesn’t mean there’s no point in discussing it! Philosophy will never be finished. It’s a fractal. The more we talk, the more discover, the more there is to discover. We’re complex beings in more ways than one!

Now I’m not only a “writer” when I tell people what I do, I’m also a “philosopher.” My blog is about my philosophy, my thought process, my life. I want to share those ideas through my writing, not only to see if anyone else thinks the same way, but how they may think differently. Or, on my bad days, if anyone is thinking at all.

For the Love of Books

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There are few books that are so good, so touching, so relevant, that I have to close them and get a grip on myself while I read. I couldn’t keep reading this book until I didn’t have any more time, I had to only read until my heart couldn’t take anymore and needed some time to recover!

How did I accidentally come across such a wonderful book? Did someone recommend it to me? Was it on a list of “must reads” that I found somewhere? Not at all. Once again, a book I sorely needed fell into my path and I picked it up. And I will never regret it.
A few weeks ago, you may remember, I had an urge to visit the closest physical new book store over 60 miles away. It was an adventure for sure. That’s where I found this book. I posted about it HERE.
I had started to read it in line at the bookstore and continued in the car while I ate lunch that day. I instantly fell in love…ok maybe I just lusted after a new book, I don’t know. The cover was so romantic and the back beckoned me to open it and dive in. Unfortunately, after that little taste of love, I had to go home and finish the book I was already reading, but that wasn’t too much trouble. I was loving The Brothers Karamazov anyway and had to find out what was going to happen to Ivan before I found out why Perdue was so lovesick!
Once I got started, I swam through it in under 9 hours. I devoured it with my eyes. It broke my heart and then healed it. So much beauty! To me, the best part was that these characters were older, like me, not young twenty-somethings. They had lived, lost, re-lived, and just started living. It praised patience, kindness, and various kinds of love under different circumstances. It showed me people who ran out and got what they needed when they needed it, even in their 50’s and 60’s. I loved every page of it and closed it in tears of joy.
“With all due respect, what you read is more important in the long term than the man you marry, ma chere Madame.”
True? I think so! What you read teaches you how to live with others, how to get along with anyone.
It’s going to be hard to limit my quotes from this book. I underlined a spectacular line on just about every page! Here’s another one:
“Books aren’t eggs, you know. Simply because a book has aged a bit doesn’t mean it’s gone bad.” “What is wrong with old? Age isn’t a disease. We all grow old, even books. But are you, is anyone, worth less, or less important, because they’ve been around for longer?”
How many times have I heard THAT argument? “This book isn’t relevant to our age!” While that may be true for instruction manuals, it is rarely true about anything else. To relate to each other today, we have to understand our past. You can’t set aside a book, or a person, because of their age.
One of the sweetest ideas in this book is his idea of a “Literary Apothecary.” He wanted to create an encyclopedia of little emotions. He prescribes books to heal ailments. Can you just imagine it? How about this one…
“Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you’ve got those autumn blues. And some…well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void. Like a short, torrid love affair.”
Human emotion, human relationships, are just so amazingly varied and delicate. I want that encyclopedia! I want that apothecary to prescribe just what I need and it seems he did through this book. It broke my heart into little pieces and I loved every second of it!
I’ll be here all day if I keep thumbing through and commenting on every line of this book. Go get it! You won’t regret it.

The Brothers!

I’m finally getting to The Brothers Karamazov this week. It’s been on my shelf since January and I kept putting it off because there were easier books to read. I love Pevear and Volokhonsky’s translations of Dostoevsky and I’ve actually been looking forward to reading this. I’m already enchanted, although it is complicated and I can only stick with reading it for about an hour at a time. I’ve ordered a couple easier books to fill in my daily three hours I hope to achieve this year!

I thought I’d write about some of lines I highlighted as I go instead of waiting until the end. I know this is a LONG and pretty dry book for most, but it does have some interesting thoughts in it!

Here’s what I have today!

Page 52 “If you are repentant, it means that you love. And if you love, you already belong to God…with love everything is bought, everything is saved.”

LOVE that! What does repentant mean? “Feeling sincere remorse or regret.” What other reason would you feel that way about something you’ve done hurting someone if you didn’t love that person? I regret cutting off the person behind me on the freeway because I recognize their humanity and I love them. I didn’t mean to, or I did mean to but didn’t realize it would make them so angry. As a Christian, we believe God is love. To love is be part of God. To love is to recognize the image of God in all of us.

Page 57 “’I love mankind’, he said, ‘but I am amazed at myself: the more I love mankind in general, the less I love people in particular, that is, individually, as separate persons.’”

And then this one, “and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with anyone even for two days, this I know from experience. As soon as someone is there, close to me, his personality oppresses my self-esteem and restricts my freedom.”

Don’t I know it! Actually, I underlined the first line but the next one is funnier to me and I can really relate to it. The first line confuses me. Why would that be? I can understand thinking that when you really get to know individual people and try to love them, the more you don’t love mankind as a whole. But this is the opposite? Not sure what he means here.

Page 64 “What would become of him if the Church, too, punished him with excommunication each time immediately after the law of the state has punished him? Surely there could be no greater despair, at least for a Russian criminal, for Russian criminals still have faith. Through who knows: perhaps a terrible thing would happen then – the loss of faith, perhaps, would occur in the desperate heart of the criminal, and what then? But the Church, like a mother, tender and loving, withholds from active punishment, for even without her punishment, the wrongdoer is already too painfully punished by the state court, and at least someone should pity him.”

Such a pretty picture. If you punish a person so much that they are completely outside of society and cannot return, you may as well kill them because they will become more dangerous to society. It gives a human no reason whatsoever to become a better person. The State may punish you for breaking its rules, but the Church should still honor your soul and treat you as a brother.

Page 67 “A socialist Christian is more dangerous than a socialist atheist.”

Thinking about that one. Maybe because you can damage or destroy a person’s soul by it, not just their life on this earth? Socialism requires force and if a Christian Church were to force you to participate in socialism and punish you by ostracism if you did not comply, it may turn you against Jesus and forever separate you from God.

Page 69 “…European liberalism in general, and even our Russian liberal dilettantism, has long and frequently confused the final results of socialism with those of Christianity.”

140 years ago! I hear or at least see memes about Jesus being a socialist so often and it seems like such a shallow understanding of what Jesus preached. Again, socialism requires force to accomplish its goals. If people could leave, take their money and labor elsewhere, it wouldn’t work. Jesus preaches free will and a voluntary acceptance of His gifts. You could say that it is forced because to accept it means you “go to hell” but that can be debated as well. I personally don’t believe in a literal hell but a figurative one. Jesus’ gift is a reunion with God after death. Without him, our body dies and we are forever separated from Him. You cannot have what you do not accept freely. I realize that can be debated and I respect that, but these are my views.

Page 77 “Let worldly men follow their dead with tears; here we rejoice over a departing father.”

Isn’t that what Jesus said to do? Let the dead bury their own dead. We, who have accepted the gift of Jesus of everlasting life with Him, should be rejoicing to know that those who leave this world with that gift go to be forever with the Lord in joy and we will see them again soon. I didn’t grieve that much over the “loss” of my Grandmother. I miss her sometimes. I wonder what she would do or say about things that are happening now. I feel like she’s on a long trip without me and we will be reunited someday. She isn’t gone. She’s having the time of her life with God. How can I be sad? It’s the same when my kids are off somewhere doings something awesome or my Mom is living up in Fernley. They are happy. Why would I not want my loved ones to be happy, even if it is without me? How could anyone be so selfish.

Morning Me

morning me

In my spot on the couch in the morning. Every morning, I stumble out of my room and grab my book, a pencil, and my glasses as I pass through my study on my way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. My husband is already up so the coffee is ready for me. I move to the livingroom, speak the lights on with “computer lights on”, and set myself down in my favorite spot on the couch to read for several hours. It’s my favorite spot because it’s close to the light, has a steady place for my coffee cup, and my warm blanket is there waiting to snuggle with me.

I’m wearing my long, heavy bathrobe. I got it last year on Amazon, not from a local store, because apparently, I’m one of the few people that want an all-cotton warm robe, not one made of acrylic fleece that gathers pet hair as I move through the house and causes static to build up and snap my fingers when I touch anything. It has a hood too, for those super cold mornings when I need to double down on warm clothes. And it’s plaid, my favorite pattern!

I’m in my happy place, surrounded by things and people I love. When I was a kid I dreamed of having my own library. In my picture behind me you can see a corner of my dream come true. Every room in my house has at least one large bookcase filled to the brim. This room has four. There are also family games we’ve been playing, my Dad’s W.C. Field’s lamp that he made when I was a baby and I inherited when he moved to smaller place recently, my son’s turntable he got when he found a bunch of old records in our storage room, and my other son’s telescope that he frequently takes out into the yard to watch the stars.

You can’t tell from the picture, but it’s early morning, just after the sun has peeked over the horizon. It’s my favorite time of day in any season, but in the winter, when this picture was taken, it’s special because the sun comes up farther southeast than ever and is hidden behind the one section of wall without windows. At this time of year, I’m not blinded by it as it rises above our patio. The side light it casts on the desert, its plants and rocks, is magical. Birds are starting to stir. Owls are going to bed. Coyotes run through the yard on their way back to their dens. A roadrunner sits on the fence flicking its tail, looking for a meal.

I took this random selfie because an old friend on the other side of the country, in another time zone, had messaged me that I was still pretty sexy for an old mom. Being the comedian that I am, I immediately snapped this picture and sent it. “Even like this?” Morning photos are always so sexy right? Ratty robe, messy hair, reading glasses, and a cup of coffee. Who wouldn’t want that?

My husband laughed as I took the picture and sent it. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Proving what a hot catch I am.” I said and forwarded him the picture. He smiled. “That’s my babe.”