My New Year’s Resolution was to try to stop putting myself last. So, I’m now in a rebalancing phase.
My younger son finally finished the last assignments for his college program on New Year’s Eve, and we are just waiting to hear whether he achieved the diploma. For him, he mostly values the accomplishment and is less concerned with the marks, but I would like to know the result! Both of us, though, are glad to be out of the constant pressure of the school deadlines and negotiations. (And the monthly tuition payments have stopped, too! Looking forward to the rebalancing of our finances!)
So, I’ve been trying to recharge body and soul, while of course still dealing with my always intense work demands. (We’re in the process of interviewing some candidates for a few roles we need to fill, though, so that may help.) I’ve been living with the additional school pressure for so long that I’m not even sure what to do with myself! We’ve started up swimming at the local pool again, where the hot tub does wonders for my still-sore hip. (Have to start back to physio soon.) All the shopping, cooking, and cleaning had fallen to my husband while I focused attention on my son, and so I did a grocery run last weekend and cooked a new recipe, a nutritious and tasty Chicken Chile Verde from EatingWell. (Already, I notice that my stomach is feeling so much better with the reduction in stress!) I think I might add some jalapeños next time and crush more beans to thicken the broth.
Over Christmas, I got into the habit of sitting in the front room in the morning drinking coffee while reading. I haven’t done much reading for pleasure in the last several years (although I used to read a novel a week), so it seems like if I make a deliberate time for it at least on weekend mornings, it might happen more often. Especially if the stress (and the Trumpian drama in the news) that keeps me from concentrating has been reduced. In the last month or so, I have read and enjoyed these books:
If I Knew Then by Jann Arden – I’ve always loved Jann Arden’s songs, as they capture such intense feelings. I read a collection of her blog posts years ago (before I knew what blogs were!) called If I Knew, Don’t You Think I’d Tell You?, appreciating her conversational writing style. This latest book is about growing older and embracing the “crone” inside of us as we gain wisdom as well as years. It’s not a long book, but I found there to be something uplifting about reading her thoughts on aging. (She’s 58.) It was also interesting to read about her coming to terms with her late father’s alcoholism (and her own) and her late mother’s Alzheimer’s, as well as the lessons she learned from failure.
Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella – No, it’s not a self-help book… it’s a romantic comedy. I loved the Shopaholic books when they came out and was so excited for the movie… and then so disappointed that they turned the main character into such a ditzy character to be mastered instead of a quirky personality to be treasured. Love Your Life brings back all the fun of the Shopaholic book series and is very entertaining. A man and a woman meet at a retreat where no names or personal information are allowed to be shared. They fall in love (and lust) with the essence of each other, but then of course the disparity between their lives makes that love very hard to sustain in real life. But it definitely creates a lot of funny and ridiculous situations. Enjoyed losing myself in this.
All Together Now by Alan Doyle – Alan Doyle of the wonderful band, Great Big Sea, is a Newfoundlander (and extrovert I assume). He desperately misses going down to the pub and trading stories over a beer. So, to give COVID-19 a kick in the teeth, he put together some of his stories about being on the road and about Newfoundland into a book that we can enjoy in the solitude of our own homes. They can be read one-at-a-time, which is nice for a shortened attention span, and some of them are quite funny, like a momentary slip that had him say, “Great to be back in the U.K” while on a stage in Ireland! Or the story of lending a hand to blind rock star Jeff Healey and making a total fool of himself with turning a light switch on and then off and then on again while Healey was in the washroom, not to be a jokester but just because he was so star-struck and flustered and unaccustomed to blindness. The long middle story in the collection is more of a travelogue of a ship journey around Newfoundland and didn’t hold my interest as much, as I was there for the light humourous tales of his embarrassment, all put out there for our shared amusement.
I cancelled my Audible UK subscription last year as the increasing geo-restrictions were preventing me from listening to most of what I was interested in. Audible even gave me a refund of my last few months. With the decrease in travel due to my working from home, I was not really listening much anymore anyway, but taking advantage of a couple of free listens on offer, I’ve started visiting these other worlds and lives again while getting ready for work in the morning or driving to the store. I’ll probably get an Audible Canada subscription soon, as that seems to be what I’m being directed towards by the Audible and/or copyright restrictions.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams narrated by Richard Armitage – This still seems to be available for free on the various Audible sites. (Thanks, Serv, for pointing that out.) This is not a story I know from my childhood, although it was written in 1922. It is very beautifully narrated and a nice short listen at 24 minutes. Call me overly sentimental, but I personally find it sad listening to stories about the emotional life of a stuffed animal who will feel despondent when his boy loses interest in him. (Like with the movie, Toy Story.) Even though it has a happy ending, it still makes me feel anxious while listening. (Silly, I know.)
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen narrated by Billie Piper with a full cast – I loved this so much! For some reason, Audible UK sent me an offer of this for free, although I don’t even see it for sale by itself on their site. It now seems to only come as part of The Jane Austen Collection, which also has four other Austen adaptations. A word of caution… these are adaptations and, as I have only started exploring the worlds of Jane Austen recently, I can’t say how true to the original Mansfield Park or the others are. (This was my first time with the Mansfield Park story.) But the narration, production, and actors in this adaptation of Mansfield Park are excellent and very easy to immerse oneself in.
From Here Starring Richard Madden and Brian Cox – Other than David Tennant Does a Podcast, I don’t often listen to podcasts, but this is essentially an audio play. It’s about an astronaut (Madden) named Edward whose space ship with all the crew went missing, and now 35 years later, he arrives back on Earth. His twin brother (Cox) is now 35 years older with memory issues, while Edward has not aged a day! It’s a mystery and sci-fi space adventure with lots of great sound effects, FBI agents, and an android caregiver thrown in. Episodes are released weekly and we are currently at episode 4. I love Richard Madden, who played the ridiculously good-looking lover in Rocketman and the courageous but flawed protection in the great series Bodyguard. He doesn’t disappoint in this space adventure, even if we can’t enjoy the view at the same time. Check out the trailer here.
I’d really like to get back to writing more posts like this, if I can figure how the blog and writing fit into the rebalancing. Part 2 will focus on TV series and movies that I’ve enjoyed lately. (Sorry for anyone I haven’t answered recently, as I focus on my mental and emotional rebalancing.)