Fave Reads Friday #16 – Summer Reading in Full Swing

Today is the first day of the Summer Reading Program at our local library. They’re doing a big kickoff party tomorrow that we’re going to, but today is the “OFFICIAL” start date. My kids got out of school last week though, so we’ve already been reading. They’re working on the Mensa for Kids’ Excellence in Reading List for K-3rd grade as it encompasses their current reading levels and ages. I’m working my way through the list of books I’ve “saved for later” at the library.

So far I’ve finished three books since I finished teaching for the semester…..

Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #16 – Summer Reading in Full Swing”

Fave Reads Friday #15 – Devoured

Things I write about from time to time are the food that I eat and the books that I read and occasionally books about about food. Back in March and April when I was traveling a ton for NETA I was able to get some serious reading done. One book I completely destroyed in a single weekend was Devoured: How What We Eat Defines Who We Are by Sophie Egan.

 

Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #15 – Devoured”

Fave Reads Friday #14 – May I Be Happy

The last time I wrote a Fave Reads Friday post was in August 2018…..it’s been awhile. And now I just finished reading a book (another one about happiness, but oddly not Gretchen Rubin). This time the book was called May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga and Changing My Mind by Cyndi Lee who also wrote Yoga Body, Buddha Mind (something else I think I might want to read).

In the book there is a story of Buddha. The story talks of Buddha’s ascetic practices and how he eventually learns that

…torturing the body wasn’t the way to relieve suffering, after all. (p.63)

Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #14 – May I Be Happy”

Fave Reads Friday #14 – Fiction, Comedy, and a Bit of Reality

Do you ever forget to hit the publish button on your blog? That’s what happened to me on Wednesday, but I’m not letting hit happen today! It’s been over two months since I last posted a Fave Reads Friday; and almost as long since I wrote about what I was reading. There’s been a few different directions my reading has taken me, so let’s jump right in to the list! Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #14 – Fiction, Comedy, and a Bit of Reality”

Fave Reads Friday #13 – Defining Yourself

I’m reading a lot this summer. I find it easier to encourage the kids to complete their summer reading if I’m also doing my own. One book that I needed to read this summer was Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. If you’ve read my blog over the last few years you’ve probably heard all about many of her books by now (just click her tag at the bottom of this post), but reading Happier at Home was like a refresher from The Happiness Project.

The big take-away for me in this summer of turmoil is that I need to just be me to be happy. It’s okay that I’m different from a lot of my friends and definitely my family. I have to stop letting the way others label me define how I feel about myself. I need to just go back to doing my thing in order to be my best me. Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #13 – Defining Yourself”

Work as Play

I’ve started reading through the information on the Playing/Working dimension on the Wellness Inventory….have no clue as to what I’m talking about? Read here.

And I started to think about how grateful I am that my work is play to me. My work with students, with my children, with teaching in all aspects is enjoyable to me. When I workout I always feel like I’m doing something fun….or else I just don’t do it. Not everyone is that lucky in life to have chosen a career or a job that allows them to do something they find to be play each day.

Our snowman on day two

The new semester is starting for me tomorrow and I did spend a little time this week complaining about all of the “set up” for classes. But that’s because I’m sooooo excited to get to the “doing” part. I’m also ready for this miniscule amount of snow to be gone so that the whole town is no longer shut down!

This past week we went outside and played in the snow. I did notice that I had forgotten what to do with such little amounts of snow….I threw a few snowballs, attempted to make a small snowman, helped my kids make snow angels, watched my hubby pull the kids on the boogie board (we don’t have a sled here), and pretty much enjoyed watching them be kids. Play for kids is different than play for adults.

I just finished reading a great book by Robin Hemley called Do-Over! Instead of writing a Fave Reads Friday post about it at this time, I’m just going to tell you two things:

  1. Read it! I totally had LOL moments while reading this book…
  2. And, the main take away (for me at least) is that it’s okay to make mistakes in life and that being an “Adult” is a very fluid idea.

For me, a lot of my work is play. For me play is working out and reading and writing and interacting with others. It doesn’t always involve jump ropes and swings and games of tag, but sometimes it does. It doesn’t always mean sleeping in and eating cookies (although I did my fair share of that over the last few weeks). I think I have the hardest time with Play/Work balance because I enjoy the work I do so much and because I view it as play. How about you?

What is the hardest part of Play/Work balance for you? How do you view your work? How do you view exercise?

Want a little more on the subject? Check out these articles from Fit is a Feminist Issue:

Walking Dogs and Rewards for Writing

New strategy: Using activity and workouts as a reward

Fave Reads Friday #12 – Health, Happiness, and Habits

It’s FRIDAY! Although my Friday is not going as originally planned, I’m just sticking with it and seeing what happens. I keep ticking off things on my list and that’s what’s going to get me through the day. That’s part of my work on my HABITS.

One of the things on my list today was to read through an IDEA Fitness Journal because I’ve started to accumulate a pile of them again. I grabbed the top one which happened to be October 2017 and started to flip through. Things I highlighted for today:

And, more pointedly, should we think of exercise as a weight loss drug?

The answer to the last question, according to Yoni Freedhoff, MD, is no. “Exercise is not a weight loss drug, and so long as we continue to push exercise primarily (and sadly sometimes exclusively) in the name of preventing or treating adult or childhood obesity, we’ll also continue to shortchange the public about the genuinely incredible health benefits of exercise, and simultaneously, misinform them about the realities of long-term weight management.”

~ Beyond weight loss: The many benefits of exercise by Tom Richards

SO TRUE! I am tired of hearing about exercise for weight-loss. I only want to teach people about all of the other great reasons to get up and move!

What does a 19-year-old have in common with a 60-year-old? Both achieve about the same amount of weekly activity, according to new research.

~ Lifetime Physical Activity Trends; Making News by Ryan Halvorson

I stress this so often to my students right now….we’re not thinking long term. Why are we not moving now and later? I keep kicking my kids out of the house to get more movement. I encourage my college-aged students to move around more. I am moving as much as I ever have….why? Because I don’t want to lose the ability to do that and to be independent when I’m older! It’s not just a now or then thing….it’s an always.

Perishable edibles such as dairy, vegetables and fruits are tossed at particularly high rates, leading to significant losses of underconsumed nutrients.

~Time to Eat Your Compost; Food for Thought

This is not the case at our house currently. Although we get the occasional bag of whole carrots that will go bad before we can get to them….I’ve noticed that our compost bin is containing less and less wasted foods now that we’re eating less processed foods, less animal products, and (because I have less time to make them) less baked goods.

And finally, there was an article on Why Modern Diets are Lacking (a fitness handout provided by IDEA) that noted

First of all, remember there are no superfoods, but there are staple foods high in nutrients…

Focus on getting a variety of foods…..

I’m not all about diets and weight-loss…I’m all about moving and feeling great; fueling my body; and living the best life I can. With all of that in mind, my habits are keeping me on track for this. And if you need some ideas for easy ways to make yourself happier, check out my favorite read from Amanda’s TOLT link-up this week:

How to (Quickly) Become Happier in 10 Aspects of Life

 

What’s the best thing you read this week?

Fave Reads Friday #11 – Better Than Before

This is by no means my last post on the subject of habits. I have found this topic of Gretchen Rubin’s much easier to embrace than the idea of a Happiness Project…..it probably has to do a lot with my personality.

She ends this book with a story of how her youngest daughter wrote a sequel to a novel that Rubin enjoys. She titled it Every Day Life in Utopia (also the last chapter title in Rubin’s book). This is my ideal as well. I want to live the life I want to live and to be happier and more efficient in it.

The last section of Better Than Before talks about Clarity, Identity, and Other People and brought up a lot of great questions for me. Like, Is a habit important because everyone else thinks it is or because I think it is? This was a hard one for me because, as a Fitness Professional, there’s a lot of things that I promote for others to do. Where does this information come from? The heads of my industry. But, I also tell people all of the time that they need to find what works for them….find clarity.

Also on the topic of clarity, can I choose to do something that’s right for me, but also meets the needs of others? Super hard for me to do because I’m an Obliger and this means that I always want to do what’s best for others before I worry about doing what’s best for me. It ties into identity in that I identify as a giver, a mother, a planner, an organizer, etc, etc, etc.

Rubin writes about finding clarity on both the habit (good or bad) and the problem with committing to it. What value does it serve? Values are a big part of identity as well. Three quotes from this section that solidify that sentiment:

Our habits reflect our identity. p. 242

We can build our habits only on the foundation of our own nature. p.257

No simple, universal solutions exist. p. 258

Values are a big thing for me…..I feel like fundamental values of who you are don’t change much over time, but the way that you express them may. For instance, I’ve always been a feminist….my whole life! I remember hating the word “chicks” because women are not little, yellow, fluffy birds. It rubbed me the wrong way for so long when I was a teenager. I wore a Rosie the Riveter t-shirt with pride. I thought that those were the definitions of being a feminist.

Today I take a different approach. I still feel that women are equal to men, but my view on how to create equality is different. From a yoga perspective I try to find inclusivity for all instead of “fighting” for women. I work hard at what I do, support efforts of change, and teach my children that no one group is inferior because they are that group. My value hasn’t changed, my habits have.

Phrasing is also a topic on clarity that Rubin writes about. Fit is a Feminist Issue wrote recently about the phrase “Let me see what you can do”. I have been looking for an opportunity to use that in my classes, but haven’t incorporated it yet. In defining the problem with commitment to a habit, the value of the habit, and the habit itself she considers the words chosen. In personal training we tell people to consider not just what is being said, but also how it is being said (body language, tone, and the care put into the words chosen). In trying to adopt or adapt a habit phrasing can make or break you just as not being specific can sink a SMART goal.

This all leads to more questions of identity….

…..make sure that my life reflects my values. p. 256

My eternal question (and one I will continue to revisit as a part of my yoga practice of Svadhyaya) is WHO AM I? How are others affecting me and my habits? How am I and my habits affecting others? This is a big one when it comes to my children. They are developing their identity based on the world around them just as I did mine. I remember my one uncle always referring to my family as “The Loud Family” and that has definitely carried over into my life today. But, how else do I define myself and how do those definitions affect my habits?

Going forward (and trying to keep with some of the habits I’m working on) I plan to blog on Thursdays about habits and how they’re working for me or working against me. I would greatly encourage you to pick up this book from the library or bookstore and give it a read. I would love (as an Obliger) for you to comment here or on any of the other HABITS posts and join me in this discussion of habit formation.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday for Meditation Monday!

Fave Reads Friday #10.2 – Meritocracy and other Made Up Words

Have you ever heard that word Meritocracy? Did you know that it’s not a real word? More of the many bits of information that I learned while reading The Big Test by Nicholas Lemann.

The word meritocracy was created by Michael Young in his 1958 work titled The Rise of Meritocracy. His work was meant as a satirical piece to pick apart  a system in which children, from a young age, are chosen for their role in society (think something like Giver or Divergent) and that a chosen few are meant to rule based on MERIT; which in this case is determined by intelligence. The word meritocracy is a combination of two unrelated root words, merit a Latin word and cracy (kratos) a Greek word. It is roughly translated to mean that through your worth your are given power.

The idea behind a meritocratic society is that through standardized testing we could best choose who would be successful at what skill and then guide our citizens toward that lot in life so as to be the most productive society in existence. This is what Lemann writes about in The Big Test. However, the main idea gets twisted over time and the use of these standardize tests also gets twisted.

Think about this……when I was in Kindergarten I was given an IQ test which pushed me into the talented and gifted program at my elementary school. The reliability and validity of such tests are often highly debated, but essentially I was chosen. I was bored in traditional school, but never really taught that being able to learn quickly and test well is not the same thing as having true merit. I was involved in talented and gifted programs through 8th grade, breezing through on good test scores. Upon reaching high school I was put on the advanced track for science, math, and language arts. I attempted the advanced track for social science (history) and language, but ended up dropping out of each. When I was in 7th grade I began taking the SAT and ACT exams as part of a program that offered summer camps to students identified as talented and gifted. I scored so well that I went to a camp and studied exercise physiology and biomechanics one summer and genetics in the summer between 8th and 9th grades.

My high school emphasized involvement and I was on sports teams, involved in debate, the lit mag, the yearbook, cultural awareness groups, volunteering at my elementary school and church, and holding part time jobs. I did all that I could on a limited budget and without true guidance as to what any of it meant.

Upon graduating high school, with alright grades and high test scores, I received zero scholarship offers and, because my family was not well off, I attended a state school and proceeded to do fair. I didn’t know how to study and lacked the discipline to perform homework to the fullest. Why? Because I’d always tested well which had been enough to get by in all schooling up until college. I spent time testing out this and that and avoided things that were too challenging or required too much work on my part as far as classes went. I was going to be a lifeguard instructor at one point, but decided that I didn’t have the time. I had a million part time jobs and didn’t stick with any of them very long. I got married and moved around.

In the last couple of years of my undergraduate programs I started to perform better in school and finished with a fairly decent GPA. I eventually became certified as a Personal Trainer and, after moving around a bit more, decided to take a stab at graduate school. (Mostly because a graduate degree “guaranteed” a better job) I studied for about a week and took the GRE; doing well enough to get into graduate school. This attempt at school was much of the same as college…..fair. But, fair is not good enough for graduate school.

I left graduate school for awhile at the end of my marriage and then attempted an MBA. I didn’t want to have to take the GMAT, so I dropped that as well. I eventually ended up at another graduate school where I flourished academically and where my interest in a lot of different things started to grow. I have always though of my journey to where I am today as more linear than it was. I had always considered myself a good student. But, after reading Lemann’s book and considering the true meritocracy I started to really question my own journey.

Last week Evangeline commented about about the idea of two different students applying to college:

This is fascinating. After taking the SAT and a few state mandated standardized tests, the whole system has piqued my interest. The idea of a number playing such a significant role in my future seems a little scary. I know colleges say they look at applicants holistically, but in real life, if person A has a perfect SAT score and person B has an average score, we know who’s getting accepted. I’ll definitely be adding this to my reading list. Thanks for sharing!

Which of these two students has merit? Who should we give the power to? How would you decide?

These are all questions that have been going through my head regarding myself, my children, and the world around us since reading Lemann’s book. How should we decide who goes to college? What is college for? Who should be running our country? What is merit?

Lemann ends his book with many of the same questions and I’m not sure I have the answers. All I know is that being selected at age 5 or 6 did nothing to make me the type of societal member that was going to contribute highly to significant causes….life has done more of that to me than anything…..yoga has done even more. Being identified as having the ability to learn and learn quickly didn’t help me to be successful because there was no guidance in the process. I wrote this post two and a half years ago about education:

TOLT: Book Reviews and The Great Education Debate

in which I talk about a book by Amanda Ripley and the future education of my own children. My children are now starting school (both of them) and we’re not in a traditional school. There is testing to help the teachers understand how the students are progressing, but the schools they go to also focus on grace and courtesy and a universal understanding of respect for yourself, your community, and your environment. These are the types of merits I think we should be basing our decisions on:

  • How kind are you?
  • How much have you done for the good of others?
  • Are you a litter bug?
  • Can you think bigger than yourself?

Maybe if we considered some of these questions before voting our government would look different at all levels. Maybe if we considered some of these questions for ourselves our lives and communities would look different…..

What is meritorious to you?