Rebalancing – Part 1

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.

BOOKS

He’s in my spot!

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.

AUDIOBOOKS

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.

PODCAST

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.)

20 thoughts on “Rebalancing – Part 1

  1. Glad your rebalancing is on the go! That school pressure is still swirling around me too although it might be different from yours. I cannot disengage myself from that responsibility either plus my almost adult daughter takes it for granted in a way. Good you found some routines for yourself now the pressure has gone! I think I must have a deeper look at that Jane Austen collection…

    Liked by 1 person

    • No one really tells you just how much work and emotional investment there is in child-rearing! Eventually, they do do well on their own generally. I hardly hear from my 25-year-old, as he is busy with work and other interests.

      Mansfield Park was very good. I’m considering whether I should get the collection as well.

      Like

  2. Definitely want to read more posts like this. Thanks for the link love. I downloaded Velveteen Rabbit but don’t know when / if I will listen. I do know the story from childhood (we also saw it as a film in school — I’m thinking maybe the 1973 adaptation?) and just thinking about it raises all my sentimentality hackles. That Jann Arden book sounds like it could be something for me.

    Above all, though, I am glad that your son finished the work for his qualification and you are done with supervising it. What a relief! I love the idea of setting aside a scheduled time for reading. (Although if I did that, it would immediately be challenged as unreasonable. So I still love the idea!). Maybe a few months of cooking, reading, listening, swimming just to catch your breath before you redirect your energies?

    The Chili looks good.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. I have a couple more Arden books in my TBR pile. I’m interested to read “Feeding My Mother”, where she documents the journey with her mother’s Alzheimer’s.

      I am totally thrilled and relieved that the school is over and done! We’ll see if I can keep to at least reading on one weekend morning. I didn’t manage it today, as there were too many other things to do. Hope you can sneak in some reading, too. But yes, I think I need to absorb something other than bad reality TV (which was all I had energy for) for a while to regain some sort of equilibrium.

      The chili wasn’t like anything I’ve made before and was almost like a soup. It thickened up the second day. It was pretty filling and made around 8 servings, when served with some bread.

      Liked by 1 person

      • what were your bad reality tv choices? I’ve seen a lot of it lately, too, and it seems so easy to watch, anesthetizing, and somehow making me think I need a breath of fresh something or other.

        There must be a school’s out! song you can queue.

        To me, soup is also kind of a cleansing thing, or can be. I made split pea soup last week with a scrap hambone and felt very virtuous both about the fiber and using up the leftover.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I watch reno and house hunting shows sometimes. But I really like to see how people tick in different situations. I’m embarrassed to say that my worst choice is probably 90 Day Fiancé. At first it was just couples cutely in love and their families’ reactions. Now they seem to script it and or edit it and or pick people who are just outrageous. “Reality” might be a misnomer.

          Alice Cooper? “No more teachers’ dirty looks!”

          I wish I were a good soup maker. I haven’t really tried much but this one was good.

          Like

          • Unsolicited soup-making advice, and perhaps you already do this: if the recipe starts with onions, don’t just sweat them until they are translucent — cook them to the stage where they have light brown edges, or are light brown all over. (As you cook Indian regularly — take them as close to that first stage of curry making as you dare.) The reason the recipes say “till translucent” is b/c European cooks didn’t like the look of browned onions in their soups. But until they are starting to turn brown you don’t get the benefit of caramelizing, which is the best part of a cooked onion, and honestly, you don’t really notice that they are a little brown on the edges when you eat them, if you even care. It’s worth it even as an extra step before putting all the ingredients in a slow cooker, if you make soup that way. I’ve only found one exception to this, which is the soup people make from Marcella Hazan’s fool proof three ingredient tomato sauce. That onion has to be stewed. It’s delicious, but I don’t really know why.

            Oh, and another maxim of soup making as you referenced is that soup practically always tastes better the second day.

            (we eat a lot of soup, at least twice a week)

            (maybe I should write a post on soup instead of bombarding you with this nonsense)

            I have never seen 90 Day Fiancé, but maybe i should check it out now. I watch a lot of house hunting / house renovation shows. I really like “Love it or List It” although the homeowners are sometimes overscripted. And “The Curse of Oak Island” rules our screens when it’s on, due to dad’s fascination with it.

            Steely Dan, “My Old School”? It’s become fashionable to make fun of liking SD, though.

            Liked by 3 people

            • I do love soup… and in any dish I prefer my oniions a little brown. I should try to make soup more often. I’m a bit too much of a recipe-follower and not really a natural cook. My husband is actually the curry-maker. His dad taught him what he had learned at home.

              90 Day Fiancé really is quite trashy. I don’t know why I watch it, except it is an addictive train wreck. Last night I was watching House Hunters International. I like that one and you get a bit of a flavour of other countries. Do you ever watch Love It or List It Vancouver? There are some nice view-homes here. And some really pricey ones too!

              Haven’t watched The Curse of Oak Island. Looks like that’s the other end of Canada. My sister is addicted to North Woods Law. I wonder if that’s something your dad would like too.

              I like Steely Dan. Kind of soothing.

              Liked by 1 person

              • I feel like soup is maybe the one course I have really mastered. Which, I suppose, only really means that I have made a lot of it over the years and especially in the last five and I have a good idea of what we like and what will work. I think it’s natural at the beginning to follow a recipe, and then after you do that a while you have the necessary experience to bridge out. It’s also the best way short of keeping pigs to deal with tiny bits of food that would otherwise end up as compost or food waste. But honestly, if your husband is happy cooking and he’s a good cook … go with what works! Every cook needs a grateful audience.

                My main reason for watching House Hunters International is seeing Americans having to deal with how the rest of the world lives. I do occasionally watch the LIOLI Vancouver variant (here it’s called Love it or List It Too [sic]), but I really like the David and Hilary combination in the original. I agree, though, wow, some amazing houses in Vancouver!

                I have never heard of North Woods Law but I see it’s in our On Demand package — will see if dad wants to try it. Tonight there’s a new Penn and Teller Fool Us on, so that will probably save the evening.

                SD reminds me of long bus rides to school when it played on the bus radio.

                Liked by 2 people

                • I think I just don’t have the confidence to be a more natural cook, which might come if I had more time to experiment. But, yeah, my husband is a pretty good cook and is a more natural cook and enjoys it more than I do. I’m sure we’ll get back to the 50/50 division we used to have eventually (instead of him doing the bulk of it).

                  It is interesting to see people dealing with the smaller sized homes and not having the full kitchen, etc. I often find that people on the home shows have amazingly high expectations, at least for the cameras. I’m more like, “Oh this is a place I could feel comfortable!” when I’ve been house hunting. Hilary and David are pretty funny together, I agree.

                  Let me know if your dad likes North Woods Law, if you watch it.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  • You have to have the freedom to fail and not feel bad about it, which is hard when you cook for other people or expensive ingredients are at issue.

                    High expectations: yes! I don’t think most people have the luxury of making choices on whether they think the kitchen cabinets are “updated” or whatever.

                    NWL: I’m going to have to figure out how to introduce it casually. If I say “let’s watch this” that will turn it into a power struggle.

                    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, congratulations to your son for finishing school – hopefully with diploma. Your own relief shines through, too – it is quite an achievement, especially when the student is a part of your household. (I experience similar with my daughter; she has just handed in all her essays for this semester, and it was a hard slog.)
    Your reading regime sounds really good. I have to admit I haven’t read a book in months… shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh thank you! And congratulations to you and your daughter as well, for finishing up her semester work. I’m not quite sure what my son will do next, and the COVID job market makes everything more difficult as well. Right now, he is taking a bit of a break and making some plans.

      I really miss reading, but it’s just been so hard to concentrate and/or find time. Hope we can both do more reading.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, I hadn’t even thought about the job situation. It’s all really tough on the young ones. At least your son has a roof over his head and can possibly just enjoy a bit of downtime now before the hunt for a job starts!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, this is wonderful to read, that you are finally finding some time for yourself again. Fingers crossed for your son! And really good to hear that you are hiring help at work, I hope it will help you return to more ‘normal’ working hours. And yes, having Trump (almost) gone is already lowering my stress levels and I don’t even live on the American continent!
    Good to hear that you’ve been reading and also listening to audiobooks. I also have The Velveteen Rabbit sitting and waiting for me (only got it because it’s free). I actually attempted a first listen yesterday but within two minutes my attention was elsewhere and I gave up. I tell ya, audiobooks and I just don’t do well together. I may attempt it again during a walk.
    Anyway, I am really happy for you that you can finally get around to rebalancing again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Right now we are actually down a person at work, but it’s a good change and we are hoping the replacement we are hiring will make a difference, even before we add to the staff. We’ll see. I’m hopeful anyway. (Although it is one of the busier times at work.)

      I used to say that I couldn’t see the point of audiobooks, but I really do enjoy a good one now. I can’t just sit and listen, though. I need to be busy doing something like driving or puttering around in the house or my mind wanders.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Best Laid Plans | I'm Feeling This

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