Friday, January 17, 2014

Weekly Quotes 2014 #2

Enlightened faith never asks us to set aside what we know.  (120)

Faith requires a leap of the moral imagination to connect the world as it is to the world as it might become.  As such, faith is not a product of reason, or knowledge, or evidence, or even of experience, though each of these plays an important role in faith.  Faith looks at what is and imagines what might be.  It requires a leap of the moral imagination to construct a bridge from what is past to what is possible. In this sense, faith is a gift of God—the God we experience as the source of all that is possible.  (121)

[Religion] can be a dynamic incubus of prophetic faith and enduring transformation.  (126)

The commitment to religious pluralism is taken by some to mean that any conviction that is sincerely held is a good conviction, and therefore cannot be criticized or rejected.  This is not true.  How do we decide which beliefs and commitments are better than others.  The test is what goes from our lives as a result of our faith: the issue of religion.  (127)

Every living and healthy religion, Santayana concludes, has its own special and surprising message.  “The vistas it opens and the mysteries it propounds are another world to live in; and another world to live in –whether we expect ever to pass wholly into it or not—is what we mean by having a religion (p. 5).  (127)

He’s here but he’s not here.  He rejects the here, is unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because then it will be “here.”  What he’s looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn’t want that because it is all around him.  Every step’s an effort, both physically and spiritually, because he imagines his goal to be external and distant.  (190)

[Y]ou don’t have to prove anything to me.  Do you understand that? (198)

The book seems tame and cloistered, something I’d never thought of Thoreau, but there it is.  He’s talking to another situation, another time, just discovering the evils of technology rather than discovering the solution.  (202)

When you learn not to do “just what you like” then the System loves you.  (209)

As long as he left Quality undefined there was no way to argue with this but he knew and he knew the students knew that it had the smell of falseness about it.  It didn’t really answer the question.  (212)

Treating our worries like a surprise, day after day, just makes the thoughts more powerful. (kindle)

Recognize anxiety, don’t deny it. Hear worry, but don’t obey it. (kindle)

All families need a devoted willingness to be uncertain and uncomfortable, and to tolerate risk. (kindle)

[T]o win over anxiety, we have to act courageously—to feel uncertain and uncomfortable . . . and step forward anyway. (kindle)

People who seek certainty as their highest priority look for the one correct, positively perfect answer; decisions for those people can become time-consuming and overwhelming.  (kindle)

How do we change? Can we?

The more ambitious partnership I’m imagining would ask that Facebook truly share with schools—and parents—the burden that cyberbullying imposes. The site would own its power over kids and use it to make them reckon with their wrongdoing. Facebook profits from its teen users, so how crazy is it to ask the site to spend some of its social capital on helping the adults who work with teenagers? It seems to me a demand worth making.

In the documentary Bully, released by the Weinstein Company in 2012, the suicide of a seventeen-year-old from Georgia named Tyler Long was portrayed as if bullying were its only cause. You’d never know from the film that Tyler had been diagnosed with Asperger’s, which is linked to suicide. Or that his suicide note mentioned neither bullying nor school. Or that his family brought a $1.7 million lawsuit against his school, blaming the principal and other officials for his death, which was later thrown out of court. The examples of error and omission and distortion are seemingly endless.

As a causal explanation of first resort, however, the seductive narrative of the “bullycide” is dangerous. It romanticizes victims in a way that can beckon other teens to follow them and it treats suicide as a normal response to bullying, rather than a reaction that’s extremely rare.

Many modern writers of pseudo-history have done a great deal of reading of many different sources, sometimes (though admittedly not very often) even in the original languages. This hard work should be saluted but it does not make their theories any more reliable if they do not conform to the rigorous rules of medieval evidence. It is not how much they have read that matters but how well they use what they have read.

Contrary to what is often said the difference between academic and amateur writers of history is not that the academics think they know it all; it is that they know they don’t know it all.

[M]ost modern populist pseudo-historical theories about the historical Arthur seem to require you to have had a skin-full of alcohol or other mind enhancing substance in order to believe them.

Boys believe nothing can hurt them, his doubt whispered. Grown men know better.

I’m so tired of being strong. I want to be foolish and frightened for once. Just for a small while, that’s all . . . a day . . . an hour . . .

Perhaps that is the secret. It is not what we do, so much as why we do it.

The living should smile, for the dead cannot.

There are no shadows in the dark. Shadows are the servants of light, the children of fire. The brightest flame casts the darkest shadows.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Where I Am At the Moment

And I did fail.  I applied to the prestigious writing colony Yaddo, and I wasn’t accepted.  I pitched a column to The Wall Street Journal, and although it looked promising, the editors ultimately told me there was no room for it.  I was dismayed by the sale report for Forty Ways to Look at JFK, which didn’t sell nearly as well as Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill. . . .  I talked to a friend about starting a biography reading group, but the idea fizzled out.  I submitted an essay for the back page of The New York Times Book Review, but it was rejected. I talked to a friend about teaming up to do webcasts, but that didn’t work out. I sent innumerable e-mails to try to get links to my blog, most of which were ignored. (80)

I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin because I know someone who is very unhappy and I thought this book might be inspiring for her. (*)  The above paragraph really spoke with me because I have come to think of 2013 as my year of false starts.  Several people agreed to read different books with me at different times of the year and each person lost interest fairly quickly. (**)  My son and I had an idea that we thought would be great and he seemed enthusiastic but never followed through with me and the idea just died a slow death due to neglect.  My daughter and I agreed to work on our penmanship together but then she was busy and, when the summer came, she was too busy to come over for our monthly sleepovers.  (***)   My mother and I agreed to practice our Eden Energy Medicine daily and watch the very expensive DVDs she bought for us both but she never did—practice, finish reading the book, or watch the DVDs.  (****)  And Rob said he would start exercising with me:
  • after the New Year (January)
  • after I came home from visiting my family (April)
  • after his birthday (June)
  • after we came home from our honeymoon (October)
  • after Halloween (November)  (*****)
Has any of this stopped me from making plans for my new year, from throwing out suggestions to the important people in my life of things we can share together.  Nope.  I wanted to bring all of my lovely women friends together on the Saturday before New Year’s Eve so we could think about the upcoming new year and maybe set an intention for what we hope for ourselves and our lives in 2014.  Of the ten people I had hoped might be here, only one showed up (and everyone had a good reason for not coming so it was disappointing but not heartbreaking).  I found a very inexpensive online writing course I thought would interest some people but didn’t.  (******)  I signed up for a MOOC course because I thought someone else would sign up with me but I think she forgot and now I’m debating going on with it or dropping out.  (*******)  I created the “Read Along With Me” page in my blog, hoping one or more of you, my readers, might find one or more you want to read along with me.  I reached out to a few people on g+ with different things but everyone already has other goals for themselves. 

And I’m accepting it all while keeping myself open for other opportunities.  I did say that this year I was going to focus on acceptance and compassion, didn’t I?  Well, it looks like I’m off to a good start.

* As it turns out, I quickly realized that this book would not be a good fit for the one person but will probably be a fun book to read for someone else I know. 
**  The Bible, Infinite Jest, One Year to an Organized Life, Younger by the Day, and probably some others I’m forgetting.
***  Originally we agreed we’d pick up where we left off after September but we never did.
****  I’ll lay two to one odds that she has misplaced the book and DVD and someday will rediscover them.  I am my mother’s daughter and I know how quickly we are both likely to do something like that.
*****  The other day he said, “I’m going to start on Friday with strength because Saturday I have to work and that’ll be my cardio.”  I literally waved my hand at him dismissively, and not kindly.
******   I thought $7.50 was inexpensive enough to be alluring, anyway.
*******  After all, my MOOC experience hasn’t been the best—one really bad experience and one good albeit not great one.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Weekly Body Check-In

Homemade soup
I honestly didn’t know what to expect by adding more protein to my diet.  It was simply a means to an end, an easier way for me to reach my calorie goal.  Remember Susan Powter?  She lost a lot of weight by eating differently.  In her infomercial, she would show the viewers a juicy piece of steak and announce how many calories it was.  Then she would reveal a huge pile of vegetables.  (I think it was potatoes, actually, but I may be mistaken.  This was a long time ago.)  She would point out that for the same calorie count, you could have this piece of steak of all of these vegetables.  Then she would pointedly ask which the audience felt would be more satisfying, one measly piece of meat or all of these delicious veggies.

And she’s right.  Absolutely.  I mean, I love vegetables and I eat them all of the time.  Only problem is, I wasn’t reaching my daily caloric goal.  I would get full too soon.  I could force myself to eat when I wasn’t hungry but, thanks to Weight Watchers, I’d already figured out how useless and unsatisfying that could be. 

Therein, lay my dilemma.  I don’t want to force myself to eat.  My doctor and the nutritionist both said I need to eat more calories.  What to do?  What to do?  Add protein.  It is filling but I can eat a piece of steak far more easily than I can a pile of veggies.  Who couldn’t?  So I am trying to eat my veggies as I normally would (easy enough for me to do!) while adding more protein (slightly more complicated) in order to eat my target caloric goal of 1, 400.

So far I’ve failed each and every day. I’m still falling short.  Just as I was when I was eating less protein.  I wasn’t even eating many more calories a day, just better ones.  (Better than I was eating over the holidays, anyway.)

But wait! I lost some weight!  In fact, I lost 3.6 lbs (1.6 k)!  In one week!  Without exercising!!!

I stepped on the scale and off the scale time and again on Sunday when I do my weekly weigh-in because I knew it couldn’t be right.  But the numbers didn’t change.  I had lost nearly 4 lbs in one week by simply having eggs for breakfast, meat and cheese for snacks, soup for lunch, and a larger-than-Rob’s portion of meat (chicken, turkey, beef) each night.  I know some of that is probably water weight. 

As for the exercise, I’ve been gradually reintroducing it into my daily life.  Not so much for my sake but for Holly’s because she is still getting used to this weird new wonderful life of hers.  I am sure she is confused by this curious game I play where I step up and down, up and down, on this thing that is clearly meant for chewing.  And the only reason I could have for lying down on the floor is for her to boop me on the head and nip my nose.

No, I have not tried to do my morning yoga.  And until Holly is leash trained, daily walks are impossible.  But she’s learning the routine and she’s figuring out what she and cannot do.  We’re all learning together.  And that’s really the best part of it all.

Also, cross your fingers for me.  An online no excuses type boot camp was offering free enrollment and I sent in an email request, explaining my “limitations”  and my determination.  I should know within 48 hours if they are willing to take me on.  I wouldn’t blame them if they said “no thank you” because, at my age and such, I am not necessarily the best poster child for immediate success.  

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Weekly Update With Husky Advice

See how happy they are?
Any day now, Holly will be housebroken.  In the meantime, I’m happy to report that her separation anxiety has begun to settle down.  We still haven’t tried to both go out because we don’t want to do too much at once, but progress is being made.  This week, I plan on wearing a shirt I was going to give to Good Will for a couple of days and we’ll put it in the crate with the dogs.  Having our scent in the crate will hopefully help make things a bit easier.

We had to buy her a new collar and have set her old collar aside to donate to the local animal rescue organization.  It’s a pretty collar and I suspect that the property manager who found Holly and took her to the vet bought it for her.  But these nylon web collars are not good for Siberian Huskies.  They rub against the fur and eventually to the skin.  We had this problem with Romanov’s first collar and again with Snowdoll’s harness.  Never again!  Poor Holly.  By the time I realized that the collar was doing the same thing to her, she already had a bald patch.  Thankfully, she was not yet rubbed raw.
Holly discovered the aquarium!

If you have a Siberian Husky, I highly recommend using a rolled leather collar like this one.  It is not damaging to the dog’s fur or skin.  The rest are absolutely useless.

It is amazing how much a new family member, even a four-footed one, can disrupt the home.  There is absolutely not routine around here whatsoever.  I know that this will come with time (after all, we went through this with Snowdoll) but I’m impatient at times and want everything to fall into place now.  Like my planner which I still haven’t put together.  Amazingly, I’m not beating myself up over it.  I just chalk it up to another day of loving my dogs and hope that the next day I will do a little more. 

Our yard is pretty muddy.
It’s all about baby steps.  It isn’t that I didn’t do anything.  I found a binder, found some dividers, and I created my own weekly pages (unable to find premade ones I liked).  I have sections for these, for tracking my diet and exercise (lost 3.6 lbs last week) and for my morning pages.  I have two unused sections at this time but I suspect that I will find a purpose for them soon.  (Do you get the feeling I already have something on my mind about which I am not ready to write? If not, you should.) 

So maybe I’m not accomplishing much but I think it’s a fair compromise.  Holly is already making me feel like this is a sacrifice well worth making.