Resolution – Read More

nonickphoto

nonickphoto

Frank Bruni wrote a thoughtful resolution article in the New York Times titled For 2014, Tweet Less, Read More.  I’m not wasting my time tweeting (I waste it in other ways!) but I do want to read some missed classics (Anna Karenina), study countries through literature (France), and refresh my art history knowledge with well chosen books (I’m a fan of DK books and want to read Art That Changed the World).

Bruni writes about the fevered pitch of public discourse and the lack of online etiquette.  How does this relate to reading?  Well, Bruni suggests that more reading encourages an understanding of broader viewpoints.  It allows for deliberation and “forces a pause.”  How welcome that would be to our current aggressive and ineffective political shouting matches!

I can’t fix the rude rants in public forums.  But I can read to my increase my knowledge – both for perspective and to grasp the facts accurately.  As we’ve all heard before, the best conversationalists truly listen.  So I’m going to “listen” to a broader range of books this year.  What’s on your bedside table?

Just say no (authentically)

 

This goes beyond saying no to drugs.  As one mom blogger puts it, “I realized that I don’t really miss the things I’m saying no to.”

Lindsey Mead Russell writes about being present in one’s life and thinks “no” has a lot to do with that.  I agree.  Many people make demands on your time – only by consciously choosing to spend our hours on our top priorities will we be calmer and fit in what truly matters.  No is hard until you realize the power in it.  Say “No” because something else is more important… “No” because someone else is more important… And “no” because it doesn’t contribute to your life’s purpose.  Russell reports feeling more “even-keeled.”  Something to say “yes” to.

A Room of One’s Own

photo2“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
Virginia Woolf

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer inadvertently sparked a national debate about work-at-home arrangements after her recent decision to end telecommuting at Yahoo.  Oddly, it’s not a debate I’m personally part of anymore, no longer being an employee or manager in the corporate world.  My home office is preferable now.  My work is flexible, family-friendly and devoid of time-wasters like donuts and office politics. Oh, it’s also exactly my style (see a corner of my office in the pic) and doesn’t have those weird fabric-covered cube walls.

Of course, some people aren’t cut out for the home office whether they’re self-employed or an employee.  But I don’t think Mayer’s move is the wave of the future.  It’s old fashioned.  I can be productive in a room of my own – no lanyard key card ID required.

How to Start the New Year

David Castillo Dominici

David Castillo Dominici

“Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin.  Beginning makes the conditions perfect.”

Alan Cohen (author of inspirational books including Chicken Soup for the Soul)

That kind of takes the pressure off New Year’s resolutions – doesn’t it?  No need for big plans and preparations.  Simple, small steps in the right direction are all you need.   It’s like the chaos theory, or butterfly effect, of resolutions.  One tiny action can result in significant change.

I found this quote in a Huffington Post feature on how to Inspire a Fresh Start in 2013, where you’ll find several other inspiring quotes.

 

Banking 101

David Castillo Dominici

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”   Henry Ford

Funny but sad at the same time.   And when Henry Ford said this, we weren’t hearing daily news about problems at a global level, making it even harder to grasp.   I think a financial education needs to start young and discovered that Vanguard has an excellent program aimed at teaching basic financial concepts called My Classroom Economy.  The curriculum covers kindergarten through 12th grade and teaches kids about budgeting, saving and resisting impulse buying.  Older students work with an investment simulator to track how their mix of assets grows (or not).

Vanguard’s program turns the class into a economic system where students earn school dollars for classroom jobs and can spend their dollars at the class store.  My Classroom Economy is free.  Share it with a teacher today!

Short Elevator Speeches Take More Time

Salvatore Vuono

“If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today.  If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.”

Most agree Mark Twain said this.  Yet other speakers (Churchill) had similar quotes about brevity being the soul of wit.  I’ve been smiling about it since I’ve been writing several short scripts for demo, or explainer, videos.  Writing short takes longer – no doubt!  These “shorts” are one minute, maybe two in length, and serve as an elevator speech in video.  Can you describe your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) in 60 seconds?  It’s hard.

Yet, in our fast world, the ability to relate benefits quickly translates into business success.  I’ve been heartened to see new entrepreneurs in our uncertain economy.  Learning to communicate concisely will benefit them.

See how some new businesses are communicating their elevator speech at www.timgoodspeed.com.

 

Judging a Book by its Title

Anat Tikker

“Title-mania afflicts the greatest as well as the humblest.”

How strongly does a book title impact your decision to read it?   I’d bet they’re as important as catchy wine labels – and that books and bottles are bought for those reasons alone.   In author Andy Martin’s commentary in The New York Times, Is This Title OK?, he explores the difficulties of finding the right title.  An author may agonize over a title only to have the publisher reject their favorite.   Looking at current bestselling fiction, you see titles ranging from descriptive (The Boy in the Suitcase) to obscure (Beautiful Disaster).  Some titles truly give you the flavor and subject of the story while others try too hard to be arbitrary and stylish.

I recently read Alexander Fuller’s Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness and thought that was a great title (and book).   Another book I read attracted me with its funny title – I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids.  Do you have a favorite book title?

 

Crazy Busy!

graur razvan ionut

“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. ”

 

This appealed to me from The ‘Busy” Trap in the New York Times because… well, I have been so busy!  But wait, I don’t mean that as “a boast disguised as a complaint” as author Tim Kreider suggests.   It has been reality (work, kids, blah, blah!).   Actually I aspire to the “idleness” Kreider describes that is his life.   He says it is possible by choosing time over money.

How smart.  Perhaps, if idleness became the new status symbol (“sure I’d love to get together!”), then we’d all be a lot happier.

Fairy Tale Lessons

Tina Phillips

“If you do the right thing all the time, you won’t learn.  That’s why characters in fairy tales do the wrong thing.  Really, the moral is, don’t listen to your parents.”

Director Catherine Hardwicke on her movie Red Riding Hood
W Magazine, March 2011

Hardwicke puts a moody and supernatural spin on this fable.   But the basic premise of most fairy tales remains the same – parents are either absent or dead.  How else can little ones have wild adventures?  My real life kids want adventures too.  They build forts and want to go places without us.  They seek independence yet circle back to the familiar.  There’s a real life moral in fairy tales – venture out and be brave.  Has a childhood fairy tale stayed in your memory?

 

Rules of Civility

Paul Martin Eldridge

At the end of Amor Towles’ book, The Rules of Civility, the main character Katey looks back on her choice of husband, job and city (New York).

“I have no doubt that they were the right choices for me.  And at the same time, I know that right choices by definition are the means by which life crystallizes loss.”

This is a book you want to read with late 1930s jazz playing in the background and a martini in hand.    Towles truly captures the colorful era and place in this debut novel.  As this quote points out, right choices mean another option wasn’t taken.  Of course, regret can come with that.  However, his use of crystallize shines a more sparkly light on that sad thought.  Crystallize means to take a definite form – yet it also refers to coating with sugar crystals.  Just as with Katey, time also helps her know all those life choices were the right ones.

You’ll find more thoughtful quotes in Towles’ novel… and a fun map of New York locations featured in the book on his website.