Sunday, January 29, 2012

Using The Happiness Project as Career Advice?

"Work can be a source of many elements necessary for a happy life: the atmosphere of growth, social contact, fun, a sense of purpose, self-esteem, recognition", writes Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project (70).

I'm in Rubin's month three of her project to make herself happier. This relates to chapter three of the book - each chapter chronicles another month and another resolution that she measures with a calendar and a series of check marks to hold her accountable. The end goal is that she will have twelve new resolutions she will be a pro at keeping them, making her a happier more fulfilled person.

In January, she boosted energy; February, she remembered love. Now, in March, she is "aim[ing] higher". Previous to this book, she has already made a career shift from law to writing, so she discusses starting a blog, "enjoy[ing] the fun of failure", asking for help, and so on.

It is actually her discourse about leaving law that I find most interesting though, as I've been standing at a similar juncture for several years.

Therefore, I read "March" with interest, trying to apply it to my own life in a quest for answers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kismet (or is it conceit?) and The Happiness Project

Ever have one of those moments where everything you read, watch, or hear seems to relate to you and what you are experiencing at that particular moment?

Some might say this occurs because you've opened your heart up to the universe allowing it to speak to your soul. Others might call it kismet. Some, coincidence. 

I call it conceit.

 In me, at least, because this happens so ridiculously often. 

Admittedly, I don't think this happens because I value myself so highly that I believe I am the target audience for every artist out there, but I must be pretty me-centric to always be thinking about myself and my problems or idiosyncrasies so that they are in the forefront of my mind and instantly relatable to any pop culture I brush by. (The one exception when I wasn't alone in my belief that I was the target audience was when my husband told me I had to listen to Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling because he felt like she and I could be bashert - my word, not his...I really only used it to make my aunt proud).

Anyway, this happened last night with The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Downton Abbey

Okay, Okay, I know it's not a book. Still it's so good, it could be. I'm hooked. Obsessed. It's everything I fear when picking up a huge novel. And just like a huge novel, I got sucked in. Here's how it started:

With my husband away for two months, I have free rein to watch all the types of movies that he wouldn't want to and the same goes for him, of course. We subscribed to Instant Netflix because of his lack of cable and our instant queue is quite the conglomeration of health food documentaries (me), music documentaries (him), The Girl Who movies (him), and cult children classics like Dark Crystal and Labyrinth (me).

So, this past Friday, when a rainy cold sinus-y headache kind of night with a quiet house was looming, I cuddled up on the couch with the dog and some soup. I was looking for some sort of drama, but nothing too sad or emotional, something in the Victorian novel realm.

My first post

My first post!

The summer is my time to read.

As a high school English teacher, I read a lot during the school year, but I read a lot of the same thing, over and over again. I've read Things Fall Apart, A Doll's House, Like Water for Chocolate, All Quiet on the Western Front, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and other canonical (in my canon at least) texts over and over with my kids. I reread the chapters I've assigned along with the kids, while I'm planning lessons, pulling discussion questions, writing sample paragraphs. However, when I return home at the end of the day, my brain is tired and taxed and I turn to television comedy.

 Last year my brain was so tired (not just from reading, but all the other demands that came with my job) that I couldn't even stand to watch tv dramas anymore! My husband was left to continue with House alone. Law and Order: SVU gave me nightmares. My brain's prescription for recovery was NBC's Thursday night line up (until they canned Community for that drivel Whitney) supplemented by The League and The Soup. 

Then summer came! Ah, summer! Long days with the house to myself and hours to read (and then feel guilty when someone asked me what I did all day)! And I read...but I largely reread. I've started a tradition of reading the Harry Potter series start to finish and that marks the official start of summer. I also read the Hunger Games series again. And again.

I read a few new books too, mainly young adult novels and graphic novels.  As summer turned to fall though, I was preparing for a new job at a new school and I fell into lethargy. I would take only a familiar book from my childhood to bed to soothe me to sleep like a lullaby.

I was sad and desperate for new worlds, new lives, new friends, new ideas. In short, I was desperate for new books, but too scared to read them.

Here's a secret fear of mine: in, the past, I haven't let myself read new works during the school year, because, with my slightly obsessive/addictive personality, I can not put down a book that engrosses me. I must finish it at the instant I am reading it even if dinner doesn't get made, work doesn't get done, husbands don't get picked up from the train station and are forced to walk home. (Okay, that last one only happened once and it was during the final Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.)

This year I decided to live dangerously; I began to read again. Slowly, carefully, fearfully I tiptoed into the ocean of words, afraid that if I let myself go, I wouldn't be able to focus on other aspects of my life. I would be carried away by a riptide of an epic or stalked by a great white shark of a novel.

In the summer, I had devised the idea for this blog and as I started to read and balance fictional worlds with reality, the blog idea was always there. If books during the school year were the great white lurking in the pages ready to devour my time, writing the blog was the little remora fish that swam along with it. Always there in my peripheral vision, unobtrusive, but causing wonder.

Suddenly I began to think of that little remora as a friend. It would never become the shark, it would never want to devour me and my time. Instead, I could become the shark! The remora would be there for me to eat the parasites in my mind left over from reading, culling all the little bits of  flotsam and jetsam left over by a good book. If I had the remora, I could cleanse my palate at the end of the meal and begin again (there's also the idea that it justified my reading).

If you stuck with me thus far, then, here, my friend's is Bibliobrick...the little remora who gathers my thoughts about reading and allows me to move on with my life.