Gina’s Reading: The Wordy Shipmates

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah VowellThe only reason I didn’t give Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates a full set of stars is pretty petty… it isn’t my all-time favorite book ever. But it does rank up there! I love Sarah’s cheeky treatment of — well — everything. She knows her history (not always the case with people who like to groan about it) and manages to weave a deliciously coherent narrative around some pretty disjointed characters.

As a part-Cherokee, solidly-citified, religiously tolerant but in-adherent girl — much like myself — Sarah takes a look back to our Puritanical roots through the stories of several folks who helped found Boston, were tossed out of there — or both. She doesn’t spare us the often-gory details as people wipe one another out because of a variety of differences — most of them petty.

Sarah also avoids the white-washing of individuals — recognizing that even the most disgusting of behavior doesn’t fully define an individual. She tries to tell both sides, even when it would have been easy to tell us a version that vilifies a particularly cruel character — how would we know the good-guy stuff if she hadn’t read his diary in its entirety and told us about it?

Oh, and if that weren’t enough — check out the cover! Like all of Sarah’s books this one features a diorama-style image that sends me back to 5th grade Social Studies. In a good way. What’s not to like about a group of Thanksgiving-play-ready Pilgrims waxing eloquent on a beach in front of a sunset-lit (or is that an East Coast sunrise?) sailing ship? Nothing. Nothing’s not to like.

Overall, I loved this book. But I’ve already told you that. Go! Read!

The Art of Saying Yes!

After typing the title of this entry, the Jim Carey movie where he has to say yes to everything comes to mind. If you saw it, you will recall that he was quite the practiced curmudgeon and made himself — and everyone around him — pretty miserable. After he changes modes cool things start happening. He gets the girl, starts doing things he loves, and has a pretty wild ride… until it all goes horribly wrong.

I think that potential — the part where the wheels come off — is the reason so many of us are so practiced at turning down wonderful opportunities. We are intrigued, but then we start our litany of what-ifs and what-would-they-thinks and it’s-too-good-to-be-trues.

We’ve learned — often the hard way — that it’s a better bet to stick with the plan. Even if it makes us miserable.

You may have heard the term “calculated risk” bandied about. Finance people love it. Well, I am proposing a different approach. How about a calculated leap? A delicious risk?

The best thing about saying yes is that you get what you want on the other side of it! Expanding our options, offering gratitude, and leaping for those proverbial rings all allow new life into our days.

As the saying goes, “If you aim for the moon and miss, you are still among the stars.”

So, next time someone offers you a chance of a lifetime, jump…

for joy!

The Longest Weeks Go By Fastest…

I wasn’t very focused on fitness this week, and with good reason. I had two visits from out-of-town guests, a holiday (when the gym was closed), oh, and my sister birthed a gorgeous, 10-pound baby girl (more on that later).

In spite of my not-so-fit week, and the arrival of Monthly Salt and Chocolate Fest, I managed to hit the 178 lb mark. 10 pounds gone. I gave them all to the baby. :) Hey! If I can lose weight as fast as she gains it, we may be on to something. I said it first, so no fair making an infomercial and getting rich off of my idea. I also finished workout 20/200 and am 10% of the way to meeting the challenge! Clearly, I am going to have to get to the gym more than once a week in order to meet my goals. So, no more guests or babies or other surprises are allowed.

Think it will work?

Didn’t think so.

That’s probably the hard part, right? You know – keeping on course when real life keeps happening? That’s the whole point of the MegaChallenge. I have a vision – a North Star – to guide me through all of the little diversions that threaten to get me off course. It helps me that it is a concrete goal that *I* have control over. I can’t really control much, but I can be physically active 200 times in a year.

Soap Box of the Day: My niece appeared after an emergency C-section weighing in at 10 lbs 3 oz. And so it starts. This precious child is already being told how “absolutely huge” she is. She is relatively large for a newborn child but is that really all we know about her? It is the first thing people ask (after the sex) and maybe that is because you can’t ask what her favorite song is or whether she prefers mayo or Miracle Whip. But it still irritates me.

So, for the record, this child will be spoiled absolutely rotten. It is pay-backs for the truckloads of toys that my sister has delivered to my children over the years. She is very good at letting everyone know just how unhappy she may be at any perceived injustice (especially those of the waking-her-up kind). She is named for a river in Scotland because my sister and her husband like Scotland and choose to think of themselves as Scottish (Scotch??), though both come from families which have spent at least 8 generations in the US. I’ll let you know when she shares her condiment preferences.

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