Tag Archives: books


Ah, the New Year. That infamous time of the year when your gym suddenly is full again, there’s more people lurking in the produce section, and there’s unrealistic expectations piled everywhere you look. Or you could be one of those who “resolve not to make resolutions” (and then pretend that they are the first person to proclaim such a cliche). I’ve been both of those people.

This New Year I wasn’t expecting to resolve myself to do anything differently, but then I found a copy of The Happiness Project whilst browsing at Coles.  Don’t ask me how I ended up in the self-help section.  But, there I was, and there I was picking up a copy of this book.  I’ve been reading it over the last week, and I’m already starting to see my world differently (which is always the first sign of a good book!).

The author of the book, Gretchen Rubin, dedicates herself to researching and practicing different ways to find happiness in her life over a period of 12 months. So far I’ve read January and February, or the “Boost Energy” and “Love” resolutions she tackled.  What I love about this book (so far) is that she’s all about taking the SMALL STEPS necessary to secure happiness. Too often I’ve wanted to take on my own “happiness project” and failed (miserably), if only because I tried to do too much, too quick.

I’m not going to do that to myself, again.  As I’m reading through the book, I’m looking for these small steps I can take in my own life, to help me find happiness.  Maybe over the course of the year I’ll write about the steps I’m taking.

So far, the one step that’s really stood out to me is Rubin’s twelfth “commandment”: “There is only love.”  Here’s a quick YouTube video where she talks about the role of love and happiness:

Now, when I first read this mantra of “there is only love,” I think my eyes rolled.  At first, it just sounds — well, fluffy. Deepak Chopra-ish. Not something a rational person like me could appreciate, right?

But then I started to think about it.

The example in the book is of a woman who took a job working for a notoriously negative employer.  She knew, going into the position, that her boss would be difficult to work with. So, rather than armoring up to bear the tough environment, she told herself to think, “There is only love.” From the book:

From that moment on, she refused to think critical thoughts about John Doe; she never complained about him behind his back; she wouldn’t even listen to other people criticize him.

“Don’t your coworkers think you’re a goody-goody?” I asked.

“Oh no,” she said. “They all wish they could do the same thing, too. He drives them crazy, but I can honestly say I like John.”

– p. 40, The Happiness Project

This idea of “there is only love” has really stuck with me. All too often I’m able to read people, and interpret their interpersonal communication. While it’s sometimes a bonus to be able to have such an ability, more often than not it leaves me feeling devastated — especially when I can tell that people don’t particularly like who I am.

I can’t help it, I’m a people-pleaser.  What sucks is that I’m the kind of person who you either really LOVE or really HATE — there’s not much middle ground when it comes to people’s impressions of me.  Lately it seems like I’ve had to deal with more of the latter, and if I’m not careful, it can really get me down (read: not happy).

So, rather than interpreting someone’s actions toward me as automatically being critical or negative, why not think to myself: “there is only love.”  Those 4 little words remind me that there’s bigger issues at work here. Maybe this person doesn’t understand my approach?  Maybe this person is herself very UNhappy, and finds me a good target to aim for?  Maybe that car didn’t see me before cutting me off? Maybe I’m not as good at reading intentions in communication, and I’m taking things too personally?

All of these “maybes” are legitimate, and I know I need to consider them before jumping on the conclusions wagon. So, one of my “resolutions” I’ve set for myself to start practicing saying “there is only love” more often.  I think it will help me to see my relationships differently — and I’m already feeling lighter, not having to worry so much about what others may think about me.

Another reminder of why I need to be a happier mama.

“…but you don’t have to take MY word for it!”

Anyone remember Reading Rainbow?

Just watching the show’s intro fills me with all sorts of warm fuzzies.  I loved Reading Rainbow.  In fact, one of my childhood goals was to be one of the kids at the end of the show who got to give a book review, which always ended with the phrase: “but you don’t have to take my word for it!” (yes, I was a geek even then)

Reading was always a part of my life, from my earliest moments on.  I still have several copies of my favorite childhood books that are now on Emma’s bookshelves.  One of these books is Baby’s Birthday, a book that my mom read to me so many times she had memorized all its lines.

She also said I would get seriously upset if she ever tried to skip pages on me.

I love watching my little girl develop her love of books. For the last 4 years, I’ve been hounding the used book sales and garage sales to give her a collection of her very own.

Each night for her bedtime ritual, she gets to choose 2 books from her shelves to read.  It used to be a haphazard choice, but these days I love watching her pull out individual books and deliberate over which ones to read.  It’s a wonder to watch a toddler’s mind at work!

Tonight she picked out this book from her shelf:

As you can probably tell, I always go for the vintage Golden Books first in my hunt for Emma books.

This book is definitely 1970′s-alicious, but it gets me all verklempt each time I read it to her.  The story is about a little girl named Suzy who wants to help her mama with the laundry, but her mama thinks she isn’t “big enough” to be a helper.  By the end of the story, the mama suddenly realizes that she has misjudged the abilities of her daughter, and she stops what she’s doing, kneels down to her daughter’s level, and apologizes for her mistake.

I love that this story illustrates how parents can be wrong and sometimes owe their kids apologies.  Each time I read that part of the mama saying she’s sorry to her little girl, I get a little emotional.  I think it’s a good reminder for me, that Emma is becoming her own person and I need to recognize and accommodate for her growing up (including knowing when to apologize when I’ve wronged her).

The other book we read tonight was one that she picked from her school’s library: Shota and the Star Quilt.  This book was about the Lakota tribe and involved an act of kindness by two little girls to a greedy land developer.  My little toddler picked out a book on social justice!  It was a beautiful story, and the social justice part of me was very proud my little girl was drawn to such a story.

In case you were wondering, here are some more of Emma’s current literary favorites:

  • Robert the Rose Horse (ker-choooo!)
  • On the Night you were Born (this one makes me cry EVERY time)
  • The Three Little Pigs (old school Disney version)
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • The Shy Little Kitten
  • Lucky Puppy (from 101 Dalmatians)
  • Madeline’s Rescue (another of my old books)

(as an added bonus, here’s an old picture of me reading to Emma “Baby’s Birthday” on her first birthday!)

Putting my humanities degrees to good use

From an email forward from a work colleague:

I suggest that graduate students hedge their bets with study of what may still be called the Real World. They should apply their formidible learning skills against the evil day that may cast them upon the waters of the economy, there to founder. Fortunately, especially for those in the humanities, guidance abounds.

Iliad: Dealing with stupid bosses
Odyssey: Marketing
Job: Corporate justice
Xenophon: Crisis management
Aristotle: Supply chain management
Commentaries: PR
Confessions: Ambiguity tolerance
Beowolf: Task prioritization
Chaucer: Yukking it up with the guys
Inferno: Meyer Briggs profiling
Prince: Means ends management
Quixote: Delusional leadership
Macbeth: Overreaching
Leviathan: Infighting
Austen: Strategic alliances
Narrative: Don’t take no for an answer
War and Peace: Balancing work and life
Nostromo: Reputation management
Mein Kampf: Meglomania
Rules for Radicals: Jujitsu
Lot 49: Networking

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