Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"What I Read Wednesday" is a recurring thing I might do. This could also be titled, "Books by Celebrities"

A few months ago I posted a book review that was more of a rambling about my desire to time travel than an actual review. I've wanted to post more about some great things I've read, but every time I start to, it feels so artificial. Do you want me to give you a synopsis of the book I read when you can find 78964325464 summaries already on the internet? No. Do you want me to discuss the merits of the writing using fancy schmancy literary terms? I hope not, because I don't actually remember any of those terms.

So, what follows is a few lines about some stuff I read, in hopes that I can maybe help you go ahead and pick up that book you were already thinking about reading. :)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler.
This book was so great I never wanted it to end. I loved every second of hearing Amy talk about her life.

I listened to this on my Audible app (you should definitely try audible, it's great) and it was read by Amy herself, with loads of special guests like Seth Meyers and Carol Burnett. When you listen to an autobiography via audio book and it's read by the author, it feels like you are having a one-on-one chat with them, which is really fun. Especially when it's Amy Poehler because literally everyone wants to be her best friend.

Amy has a section in the book where she asks her parents to tell her about the day she was born. This prompted me to ask my mom the same question over wine, which resulted in the kind of conversation that taught me more about my mom and my life than I'd ever known before.

 Neil Patrick Harris Choose Your Own Autobiography
Since I also listened to this on audio book, it was a slightly different experience than if you followed the "choose your own adventure" format in a print copy. It was still super fun though. I don't know if it's possible to have a bigger crush on Neil Patrick Harris than I already did, but I think I do.

Interspersed are stories about his untimely death, but what really moved me was his relationship with his husband and their experience becoming parents. If you are a fan, definitely read it. If you don't know who NPH is, some of the best parts of this book might be lost on you.



The Body Book Cameron Diaz
So, I looked at the print copy of this at Barnes and Noble and thought it looked kinda lame. But then I read a bunch of great reviews on the audible app and decided to listen.

In case you didn't know, I consider "reading health and fitness articles on the internet" my official hobby.  It's a lot easier than taking real action to get healthy. So, I read a lot of things and have learned a lot about nutrition and health. However, listening to this book basically put all the pieces together for me! I felt like, hearing this simple explanation of how the body works and why your body reacts to things they way it does, finally made all that extraneous info I'd mentally collected fit together in my head!

The audio book felt relaxed and conversational, like a friend telling you about diet and exercise and stuff. But it wasn't just straight info-- it gave thoughts on how to apply that info, and made me feel better about myself somehow in the process.

If you are interested in improving your diet and your health, I suggest a listen. :) I really enjoyed it!

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Despite how things appear based on this blog post I actually don't solely read books written by celebrities. I also read books celebrities read. Ha!
But seriously though, I first picked up a different Jhumpa Lahiri book based on Mindy Kaling's intagram post. She was reading it, so I read it. I also learned that Mindy's title character in her show The Mindy Project was given the last name Lahiri because of this author.

So, I read this book recently while traveling (first non-audio book I've read in a while!) and I absolutely devoured it. I read half of the book while flying, then the other half of the book one evening when I got home. I didn't want it to end.

It's a collection of short stories, generally with a main character that is of Indian descent, and the mix of American and Indian culture is interesting - but what is better is how expertly she develops characters. I felt that I knew each character better after a couple of pages than I do in most novels. Another sign of the short stories being great -- I never really felt disappointed in how the story ended, but I always felt that, should that short story be made into a full novel, I'd read it.

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This is a couple months' worth of reading, so when I post again about what I read it will likely be the aforementioned health and fitness articles.

What have YOU read lately? What did you love or hate about it?


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Perception vs Reality

I kind of want to open this post like a stereotypical high school speach. 
"Websters Dictionary defines perception as...."

But that's lame. We all know what perception is. And perception is only valuable to talk about in relation to how it's often opposed to reality. Perception is reality, right? 

Except when Matt and I get into fights because I think he's being insensitive and he has absolutely no idea why I'm upset. My perception of events is different than reality, most of the time. But that's a topic for another post. 

Recently, I heard a rumor about myself at work. Without boring you with the whole story, I'll just give this snapshot: 
I was totally doing nothing wrong, have character witnesses to verify this, but the way one person stated the issue, it made it seem like I was being dishonest. 

This whole situation caused me a lot of stress. I don't interact with many of the influential people at my company often because I live many states away and work remotely. Their ability to judge the merit of this rumor is hindered by their limited exposure to me and my true character. 

After hearing about this, I was really sad, disillusioned, and feeling like this dumb, untrue thing was going to tarnish my image and hinder my career. It was really lame actually, how insignificant the rumor even was, but my company is led by very conservative people with a long memory. For example, every time one of my colleagues is mentioned, the gossip about this one time at a training conference 3 years ago is brought up. It definitely makes him look bad, and I have been one of the many to say "wow that is crazy, I can't believe people would behave that way on a work trip." 

Now this situation makes me wonder, are people saying that about me now? 

Especially because I put so much work into what I do, and how I'm perceived. I put in extra hours, extra effort, extra care all the time. To feel like the last three years of hard work could be undone by something untrue was really unfair. 

After some time has passed, my feelings have leveled out. But I feel that a lot of it has to do with my purposeful change of mindset. 

People can have a perception of me, and my character, all they want.  Ultimately, I know the reality. I know that I conducted myself with integrity and that is really what matters. I really believe that, if you do the right thing, that will eventually be clear to anyone that counts. 

I often overanalyze things. Like last weekend, when I hung out with a group of friends and had a couple drinks. I come home and think, did I say anything dumb? Was I insensitive? Or when I get off a conference call and wonder, did I not speak up enough, or did I say too much? 

I've decided to try and let these things go. I am who I am, and though I consider myself always a work in progress, and am definitely not perfect, I can't constantly second-guess myself. I'm ok with who I am, and the decisions I make. I'm a person with good intentions, and a lot of hard work and care to back that up. 

Do you overanalyze your actions and words all the time? Have you ever tried to stop that negativity?


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Work Travel

I've never had a job before this that required travel. And I really like it. It makes me feel sorta important, allows me to connect with colleagues I don't get to interact with regularly, and gives me the opportunity to see new things!

However, if you haven't traveled much for work, you may not be aware of the challenges.

Personally, flying is still not my favorite, though I do pretty well compared to how I used to freak out about flying. But aside from flight anxiety, it's still pretty exhausting. Getting to Salt Lake City, Utah from Indiana is generally a full day of travel. For example, on Sunday I was traveling for more than 9 hours. That's a long day of stressful flying and navigating airports and figuring out what to eat quickly with a 20 minute layover.

Then, once you get to the hotel, you are generally stuck. I don't have a rental car, and there's not much within walking distance. It's not the worst, because I don't NEED to go anywhere... but the inability to leave can make you feel a bit claustrophobic!

Then, the all-day work meetings followed by evening dinners can be draining. Super fun with the colleagues I have, but still pretty tiring, especially for someone who usually works at home, alone.

All that said, it's still a huge blessing! I'm in beautiful Salt Lake, surrounding by snowcapped mountains. I'm treated to free breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I get to hang out with some of my favorite people that live around the country.

I am also dealing with a little bit of time-zone change issues. It's 12:50 a.m. in Indiana, but here it's only 10:50, so I've only been back in my room for a bit and am still wide awake from the busy day.

All in all, I fly out here about 5 times a year, and could do it a lot more and be really happy about it. :) The only thing that could be better is if the location changed here and there to places perhaps a tad warmer in the winter months.

To conclude, I leave you with some of my favorite work travel pics.






Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lindsey's Home for Pregnant Cats

Dusty and Coco have been ruining my life for years. 
Back in 2009, Coco was moody, aloof, but well-behaved. Dusty was mischevious and high-energy but didn't cause a lot of problems when it was just he and Matt. 
Then, we combined households and got a dog. 

LONG story short, we spent years combatting their marking of our home with their urine. I'm convinced they really hate our guts and just want to punish us at every oportunity. Especially by peeing on stuff.

Everything you can read about cat pee, I've read. Every solution you can try, I tried. Foil-lined living room carpet, special quiet places for litter boxes to protect their privacy, complex potions and sprays... I've called cat rescues in tears just begging for their help. Noone would reply to my emails at "My Cat From Hell." 

In desperation, after several years, the cats got a new adventure and we got new carpet. They now live outside. 

In the summer it was great. They had the deck for shelter, we kept food and water full and accessible, and we hung out with them in the yard. 

Then, the cat food enticed unwelcome guests: 

Once it started to get cold, we relocated them to the garage. We have to leave the door cracked so they can get in and out. And we started adding amenities. It's become so appealing, we have new residents! We are on our second homeless cat squatting in our garage, in addition to Coco and Dusty.  I mean, who wouldn't want to live here? 
Amenities include: 
fully-insulated garage
heated water dish
electric warming pad
space heater
2 custom insulated cat houses (modeled after the below):

With record cold temps, we can't leave the garage open right now- it needs to stay closed so the heater can work and keep them warm and not dead. But my car is in there with them. And if I open the door, they scatter - which leads to a situation where Lindsey and Matt are in the -20 temps calling for cats (who never come when you want them too btw) trying to wrangle them back in the garage.  

So currently, my cats are holding me hostage.  I can't leave the garage. 

Also, the fact that we are now a homeless shelter (or luxury cat resort, who knows) makes me nervous. Our cats have shots and are spayed/neutered, but what if these other cats aren't?! What if my garage becomes Lindsey's home for pregnant cats? I already am going broke from feeding all the neighborhood cats and heating the outside with space heaters. How many more mouths can I be expected to feed? 

So at least I can sleep at night knowing that our cats are ok and not living in a cage, and some homeless and probably pregnant cat has a warm place to sleep. So I guess its worth it. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Three Words

Yesterday, all the treadmills were full when I showed up to the gym. Which is totally normal for January 2nd-- but it reminded me that I really wanted to nail down my resolutions! 

Lots of people hate resolutions and lots of people make them and don't keep them. But my sister-in-law has an approach to resolutions that I think even the resolution haters could get behind. She chooses a theme for her year rather than making specific resolutions, and throughout the year, she assesses decisions she makes to see if they fit with the theme. 

For example, should her theme be "wine and pizza" (which it wouldn't be because that's my theme from 2013, I just didn't know it at the time) then each time she started to make a salad for dinner, she'd realize that it wasn't fitting with the theme and furthering the goal, and then she'd order a pizza. 

I love this! I'm really excited to try it out. A quick google search inspired me to go with a "three words" approach. So, here's my theme for 2015! 


Be strong, be nourished, be content.

These three words will be applied to mind, body, and soul. Basically, I hope to accomplish a few things: 

Be strong: I plan to make good use of the healthy body I have. To challenge myself physically to overcome obstacles and acheive new things. Specifically, to build muscles, master some yoga poses, and complete the "15 5ks in 2015" goal I made with my friends. 

Be nourished: I want to fill my life with more of the things that truly FEED me. More time reading and learning and praying. More time spent strengthening my relationships with my kids, my husband, and my friends, because that love is truly soul food. Not like fried chicken and collard greens, but more satisfying, like smiles and hugs. Also, nourishing my body. I've spent too many years having a love/hate relationship with food. I want to keep focusing on eating real food that fuels and nourishes me and doesn't make me feel bad, physically or emotionally. 

Be content: If I had a dollar for every time I complained during the day... pretty soon I'd have to stop complaining about money. Yes, it sucks that I don't have enough cabinet space in the kitchen, and Rubbermaid food storage containers are overflowing the drawers and I keep serving dishes in the laundry room. But I am so lucky to have more Rubbermaid food storage containers than I need and a warm, safe, comfortable home I get to keep them in! I want to stop finding the FLAWS in everything and focus on the beauty and pleasure and happiness in all parts of life. I want to be content with what I have and appreciative of the people and things in my life as they are. 

Throughout the day, all year long, I plan to assess how I spend my time, energy, and money to make sure it is aligned with my theme, and adjust as necessary. 

I'm anxious to know what your three words are! If you are a resolution-maker, please share! 


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I'm over 50% successful.

In THIS POST from January of this year, I made a list of resolutions.

Honestly I realize that reading other people's resolutions does one of three things to you:
1. Bores you.
2. Makes you have feelings (probably guilt) about the resolutions YOU kept/didn't keep/need to make.
3. Reminds you that you think resolutions are dumb.

In response:
1. I'll keep this brief.
2. Prepare to be IMPRESSED.
3. Resolutions are kinda dumb. Life goals are super NOT dumb.

So here were the life goals I set in January.

1. Finish my MBA. DONE! CHECK! YESSS!

2. Improve job situation. GOT A PROMOTION IN MARCH!

3. Complete half marathon. DONE! Did my first in April! Skipped my second in September. :-/

4. Get in better shape..... work in progress....

5. Pay down credit cards. Oops. Not so much. 

6. Sleep more. Doing alright here! Been getting a fairly consistent 7-8 hours for months now.

7. Eat well. Again, work in progress, but I've definitely cleaned up my act and I continue to improve. 

So basically, I'm over 50% successful here so I'll take it. Already brainstorming the big goals of 2015!

Do you make resolutions? Do you feel bored now?


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Longbourn. A book review.



 I'm a big fan of audio books. I like to listen to audiobooks while I do chores around the house, and drive to pick up my kids, or run errands. 

And everyone who knows me knows I'm also a big fan of Jane Austen novels. This book happens to be the tale of Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen's novel- from the perspective of the servants in the household. 

While discussing something completely different with my husband tonight, we ended up listening to a musical excerpt of a piano and violin combination. It was beautiful and it made me think fondly back of this particular book.  In Jane Austen's era there are two kinds of people- the privileged, and the unprivileged. 

The privileged women spend their time preparing to be a wonderful wife. They learn French, they perfect their musical abilities on piano and/or violin, and singing, and they become accomplished artists. 

All of these are apparently skills required to catch a husband with a high income. While talking about this with my husband, I expressed my desire to live in a different era-- in Jane Austen's area when I could be born into a life of privilege and spend my teen and young adult years learning to play the violin and to sing and paint.

Matt explained that if that were to really happen to travel back in time, I would not  be allowed to be born into such a family, but would create a situation where I was suddenly thrust into a society where no one knew who I was and they would probably consider me some sort of witch and behead me. 

On the contrary, my Time Machine is going to make me a fetus in the womb of a well-to-do lady. When that happens I'll be born into a life where people wait on me hand and foot, feed me bread with jam and tea, and dress me in fancy dresses so that I can go play cards and play the piano for eligible bachelors. 

This book I read,  Longbourn, does not tell that tale. It describes the life of a servant who empties bedpans and washes out the monthly linens for the ladies of the house. Spoiler alert: the happy ending is when the lady servant leaves the household to run off with her male servant lover and become basically gypsies to do migrant work, but are happy because they have each other. 

Let me say I did really enjoy this book, and even considering the somewhat unhappy happy ending, I thought it was well done. Despite some more vulgar parts that would not be included in the Jane Austen novel, I thought it was a good work of fan fiction. If you're the sort of person who likes Jane Austen novels, I highly recommend this. If you are the sort of person that wants to travel back in time to the era of Jane Austen novels please know that you might be born a servant and your happy ending my include migrant farm work and illegitimate children.