I had the pleasure today of listening to Dr. Stephen Birchak speak at a professional development retreat for work. He’s a fabulous presenter. He focuses on optimism, fulfilled living and interacting with difficult people. In fact, Dr. Bird (as he’s affectionately known) has written a book called The Jerk Whisperer. He’s fun and engaging and everything you need on a hot Friday afternoon – other than an ice cold cocktail, of course!
Overall, this book gets 3 of 5 stars. It wasn’t bad, and more enjoyable than I originally anticipated.
The story is historical fiction, and a love story at that. I enjoyed that the plot took place in a period of history that I have a cursory familiarity with, but not an extensive knowledge of – the Japanese internment during WWII. Additionally, the characters in the story were of cultures I am not intimately familiar with – Japanese and Chinese Americans. As a result, it was a refreshing change of pace from my normal comfort zone.
The entire story was well-written and an easy read. The characters were flawed, and easy to relate to. However, during the second half of the book, I felt there were several missed climactic opportunities. While there were some truly heart-wrenching moments – I felt they could’ve been more deeply explored, and likely more realistic.
Though, I must remember that this book was a target for a much younger audience – young teens, and the level of emotional depth I craved from the story would perhaps be inappropriate for that audience. I am sure that the reality of this love story – a young Chinese boy and a young Japanese girl in Seattle in 1942, ripped apart by the fear and prejudice of this war-riddled government – would have likely been much more dramatic than the book let on. Not that there wasn’t drama and intrigue and triumph, but it could have been much deeper.
Overall, I’d recommend it to a younger reader. And I will give Ford accolades for excellent character development. Each character in the story felt real, you liked them, you hated them, they all had their moments. It was the plot itself that seemed a bit shallow.
Happy reading, folks!
If there is one thing in this life that so many are so easily consumed by, it is anger. This post is dedicated to letting.it.go.
People living the happiest lives do not walk around harboring anger about things or situations that they cannot change. Things crop up in life, and they suck – your significant other cheats on you, you fail at something you tried so hard to succeed in, you were unjustly denied something you felt you deserved, a personal possession is destroyed or damaged by someone’s incompetence. These are all things that could bring one to harbor some ill-feelings – and hang on to them for a while.
The longer you hold on to the anger, the longer you will remain unhappy. Without any doubt it will permeate all areas of your life – leading you to be generally miserable, it’s a never-ending cycle.
So, with each situation that you may find yourself consumed by anger – work through it. Allow yourself some time to be upset about it. Then – get a grip. Assess this situation – is there something you can do about it? Then do it. No? Then get over it. End of story. The sooner you let it go, the sooner you will find peace. The sooner you can direct your energy toward the things that matter – the activities you enjoy, the people you love.
This is not to say, that at a certain point, a person who has wronged you, directly, repeatedly and unwarrantedly, doesn’t deserve to be let go as well. But again, these situations must be thought about long and hard – make sure you’re not holding a grudge, or jumping to the conclusion that your friend is toxic. Sometimes they do have to go, but make fully certain that’s the case – don’t make that decision in anger.
The bottom line is to stop being so angry about things that are relatively inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Or things that you have no control over. Don’t become consumed by these issues. You will be more successful, and have deeper, more meaningful relationships, if you just let the anger go and use your energy for something more fruitful, more positive.
This summer in the garden I’m going to return to my original blogging roots – running.
On my previous blog, which was actually about running, I sort of petered out with the writing right as I was training for my first marathon – you know, the good stuff! I feel badly about this. I don’t have a good recounting of my training and all that I went through physically and mentally during the whole process. So, as I spend the summer training for my second marathon – and a MAJOR! – I will be keeping up with it here in the garden. Chicago’s the real deal folks!
So, beginning in June, there will at least one post a week on running/training. And maybe even some guest posts from very inspirational running friends!
Today was my first formal “race” since my last marathon: a 3.5 mile workforce challenge. It’s an after work jaunt through downtown Albany, with 1000s of your coworkers. It’s a fun time, and I showed my solidarity with my new coworkers by showing up to run with a bunch of people who may or (mostly) may not have met me before and then promptly leaving before seeing how anyone else did – I’m awkward, don’t judge.
Anyway… I hate afternoon running. I really enjoy running on a nearly empty stomach and fresh legs that hadn’t already gone to the gym that day (I’m awkward AND badass). I am also horribly far from marathon shape. That “little jaunt” was rough man. I mean, I’ve had worse races, but ugh. Anyway, it finishes on a huge down hill, so I ended “strong.”
And so it begins! I’ll start upping my base weekly mileage over the next month or so, then formal training begins.
Chicago Marathon – Here We Come!
Why is it that nearly universally, the easiest person on the planet to ignore is yourself? I mean seriously, we’ve all done it – a bunch of times. Come on, don’t deny it. Don’t leave me out here all alone thinking I’m the only one that doesn’t pay enough attention to myself?
There’s a fine line, amongst most decent people, between taking care of self, and selfish. Actually, no. We perceive there to be a fine line between selfish and taking care of yourself. It’s not that fine, actually. It’s a very reasonable line, and it varies in width from person to person. But I think many of us find ourselves overly-willing to help others out at the expense of our own well-being on a regular basis. But alas, that’s not really what this post is about.
This post is about getting wrapped up in all else. Not being overly-willing. Not even about “saying yes to someone else while saying no to yourself.” It’s simply about the part of us that ignores our self, when our body/mind/emotions are screaming at you, in a variety of ways, to give them a little attention and maintenance. And yet, we ignore. Plowing through life, moving forward, ignoring the warning signs.
This might seem odd, to some that know me. I regularly work out and run to give myself some “alone time” some “Jen time.” Yet, despite this hour or so a day, I still feel distracted and out of touch – with myself. I feel there’s so much else going on, so many life stressors, I’ve simply forgotten that sometimes I need more than a run (yes, yes I’m a selfish bitch!). Sometimes I need a good cry for no reason – alone. I don’t need any consoling, just some cleansing. I need a good night’s sleep – where I’m not awoken by dreams of my new grad student applicants painting our house (really?). I need no plans, relaxation, quality time – to enjoy that sunset I was talking about before.
I just need to give myself just the teensiest bit of attention – just enough to relax, a nice deep-seeded relax. Not where I’m running and thinking about today’s meetings, or how poochy my stomach pooch has gotten. Not sleep for function, not playing the piano to forget. I need a legitimate moment where I stare myself in the mirror, acknowledge how stressed/frazzled I am, and then just let it be. Ok, not a moment. A whole weekend. In fact, an entire week of this would be fantasmic! But, unlikely. I settle for a day or two – saturday, sunday?
Selfish? No quite the opposite.
As I walked through the kitchen, busy with tidying up, thoughts of the day, whispers (roars?) of tomorrow, it caught my eye. Just a glimpse at first, but I stopped back again to look more closely. The sun burned red, purple, orange and pink through the clouds – just over the tree line.
The sun still sets, peacefully each day. On some days with spectacular beauty.
I don’t recall the last time I saw the sun setting. I certainly don’t recall the last time I took a minute to watch it, enjoy it, feel it. It’s far too easy to become embroiled in the drudgery of life. The waking, and the working, and the cleaning, and the sleeping. And the doing it all over and over.
But to take a moment, just a moment and enjoy the simple beauty – so precious. Each day the sun sets, bold and beautiful. Each day the sun rises, crisp and clean. While the majority of the day is spent doing the things we must, while we far too easily slip into the folds of life’s stressors, the beauty of life’s most simple things go on around us.
It takes just a split second for you to notice the sun has set the sky afire. Don’t miss that second. Don’t waste it.