Thursday, March 04, 2010

Reading Method Journalism; or, Mindfulness

I have recently read Colin Beavan's No Impact Man and watched the movie, and this afternoon just finished reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. The first was an attempt to reflect values in actions and daily life, and the second was an attempt to improve one's happiness (and overall life) by analysis and experimentation.

Starting with Teddy's pregnancy (I think; maybe I'm just not able to remember further back), I started enjoying something I never thought I would: reading non-fiction books. I especially like reading books which either tell me how to do something (like John Rosemond's books on disciplining children, where "discipline" means "make a disciple of") or relate the author's struggle to improve himself in a way which makes me think on how I could improve both myself and my life.

One of the things which impressed me about Ms. Rubin's book was the preparation time she spent in plotting out what she wanted to accomplish, the steps she needed to take, and the order in which to take them. She thought of this in April, and researched and read and took notes, and only started her year-long project in January. I also like that each month had a different emphasis, so there would be a refreshment of purpose throughout the year.

I'd like to try doing a Happiness Project myself, but I am afraid of failure. In Molly Sabourin's Close to Home (an awesome early birthday present from my husband, and my absolutely most favorite book right now—I've never had the urge to take notes inside a book before, usually being horrified by the idea of writing in books), she relates the story of a young monk who asks Abba Sisoes what to do when he falls. "Get up!" "I got up, and I fell again!" "Get up again!" "For how long should I get up when I fall?" "Until your death." I'm afraid of the failure of not getting up again, of not continuing to try, of despairing and turning away from God.

So, instead, I'm going to try, and I'm going to trust God.

I was frustrated with my tendency to want to buy all the Orthodox children's books I could find, and then not to read them, or to find them only after the saint's day had passed. I've started putting together a personal synaxarion (or whatever book it should be) spreadsheet to list the icons, books (and board books), icon bookmarks (and pins and pendants), and podcasts for spiritual relevance for Teddy. A spreadsheet lets me sort by each category, although the most useful is "date."

Today's items are for the Third Thursday of Lent and for St. Gerasimos of the Jordan:
  • Children's Bible Reader, p. 139: Wise Words of Solomon (Proverbs 10-16)
  • Povestiri Pentru Copii, v. 5, p. 72: St. Gerasimos of the Jordan (Sfântul Gherasim și Leul)
I've also been having some success with keeping a menu plan, even though it's still not very good, it at least provides a back-up plan for what to eat, and helps me make the shopping list to make sure that we have everything that we need. I don't include breakfast, because we don't seem to eat that as a family, and I usually have cookies and cocoa and then wait to eat lunch. (We usually eat two dinners, though, before and after we go to the pool in the evening.)

Today's lunch was intended to be the soup made on Tuesday (tomato-rice soup from the Romanian cookbook), but yesterday it reminded me of worms/shrimp, so I went with toasted bagels and bruschetta, with potato chips on the side for extra crunch. The plan for dinner is mashed potatoes, but I might be able to scrounge up a salad, too, if my husband didn't use up all the tomatoes on his soup.

On Saturday, Teddy and I returned from MN, where we were visiting my sister and her family (oh, the joy of cousins!) for ten days. The Sunday before this was our parish Greek festival, and the day when Teddy decided to go from four naps a day to one. ONE. We also got sick at my sister's house, and I am still a bit under the weather. However, I did take the plunge and went to a Zumba class on Tuesday evening, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven't sweat (sweated?) that much since giving birth to Teddy, and, of course, the one-hour class was much more enjoyable than that. It reminded me a bit of doing Mousercize in elementary P.E. class: everyone was excited to get to do fun exercising. The rhythms made it easy and enjoyable, and there were breaks just often enough. My only problem was a rhythm-challenged boy who gangled obtrusively right in front of me, so I'll see about getting into the room a little earlier for a better place. Another husband-assisted early birthday present was the Zumba DVD set, which looks fun and arrived yesterday. (Teddy already likes the rhythm sticks.)

Reading Molly Sabourin's book and blog posts make me worry about my spiritual side. I struggle to pay attention and to be mindful, but I'm not sure I succeed very often if at all. Last night's Presanctified Liturgy was more of an exercise in keeping Teddy quiet and silently apologizing to the few parishioners who were probably all watching Teddy's antics than of any spiritual growth.

As always, please keep me in your prayers.

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Blogger Mimi said...

What a great idea for the spreadsheet!

And, I know you know this, but your worship is in keeping Teddy at this time. You do fabulous!

Fri Mar 05, 02:27:00 PM CST  

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