My favorite post from September, and the one with the most comments, is How to be a slacker: a guide for perfectionists and overachievers. As I mention, I have really been trying to be conscious of how I spend my energy and time. I am nowhere near where I want to be, but at least I realize how and mostly why I overdo it!
I began the Miracle Marathon and have raised $322 for Texas Children’s Hospital and logged 23 miles thus far. If you’d like to contribute, it’s not too late! 3 more days.
I’ve also been reviewing Sonia Cochette’s wonderful book, Trust Your Vibes. More to come.
Here’s what I read and enjoyed in September:
The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent: Living the Art of Allowing by Esther and Jerry Hicks (The Teachings of Abraham)
This book is about having a deliberate intent for whatever you want in life, while at the same time balancing your energy along the way. Abraham encourages us to tell ourselves positive thoughts about a situation as a way to grow toward what we want. For example, rather than focus on being overweight (a negative vibration), I can think about how I’ve been successful at losing weight in the past, that I feel in control of what I eat every day, and that I feel comfortable in my body (all positive vibrations). These thoughts are far more likely to carry me toward success than my usual negative self-talk.
The contrast in which you are focused provides a wonderful basis for the launching of your unique desires, for whenever you are experiencing something that you do not want, you always understand more clearly what it is that you do want. This seems to me to be where we are on a global level right now… being shown examples of how much we need to change.
Our true self is joyous and positive. Anything else shows how out of alignment we are with how we should be. The second half of the book is all examples of real-life situations.
Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving…or Missing Sleep? by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
Having really benefited from Kurcinka’s book on raising spirited children, I wanted to read this one because my own spirited child does not fall asleep alone or easily, nor stay in her bed all night. This is a fantastic book about the connection between lack of sleep and misbehavior. I learned that a positive sleep environment begins in the morning. I am now better able to keep my daughter in the “green zone” and make our lives much more peaceful. I agree with other reviewers that this book is a godsend.
The Baker’s Daughter: A Novel by Sarah McCoy
This book is the stories of two women, separated by 60+ years, but living similar stories and choices. Once I got going with the story about a family in Nazi Germany and their lives in current times, I could not put this book down and I read it in one afternoon/night. The parallel story was also really good. I loved the characters and the strong story lines. It’s a book of hopefulness and inspiration.
Setting Limits in the Classroom, 3rd Edition: A Complete Guide to Effective Classroom Management with a School-wide Discipline Plan
My fifth grade religious school classroom is rather chaotic, leaving lots of disruptions and little time for teaching or learning. I turned to this book because I need a structure for teaching effective discipline. The authors state that an effective classroom is like a table supported by four important legs: effective structure, positive relationships, engaging instruction, and effective limit-setting practices. They guide the reader through classroom structure, effective engagement strategies, and how to recognize your unconscious mistakes. Then they state examples of clear messages about rules and instructive consequences that avoid power struggles.
Visible City by Tova Mirvis
This novel, told mostly from one woman’s point of view, is about three couples whose paths intersect in their New York City neighborhood. The main character looks from her window into the window of another apartment and imagines what their life must be like. She eventually establishes relationships with each of them, forcing them all to weigh the comfort of stability against the costs of change. I enjoyed reading about each character’s relationships with others and how perception is so different from reality.
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
I just love Ann Patchett. Two favorite passages:
There were things I learned about writing while working as a waitress that I hadn’t come to during my student years, and the first was my own level of commitment. As the months went by, I knew that I wrote because it was my joy, and if I kept on being a waitress forever, writing would still be my joy. But that didn’t mean I didn’t have plans to use writing as a means of escape. I had been unwaveringly loyal to my talent, and now that the chips were down I expected it to be loyal to me. With so much time for thinking and so little time for writing, I learned how to work in my head. Between pilfering croutons off salad plates and microwaving fudge sauce for the sundaes, I decided I was going to make up a novel, and that the novel was going to get me out of the restaurant. The novel was going to be my getaway car.
For the first time in my life, I was going to have money (paid out over three years in four installments), and the only thing I could think of to spend it on was having the air conditioner in my car fixed. It had been out for two years. Now that I had a book contract and an advance on the way, I went to a mechanic. He said the air conditioner was low on coolant, a problem that was resolved for fifteen bucks. Somehow, that’s the detail of selling my first book I always remember.
Falling into Place: An Intimate Geography of Home by Catherine Reid
These beautiful essays about our sense of home and safety are so lyrical and elegant. Reid paints a beautiful picture of nature and how we are losing some of our most precious natural places and poetic experiences. My favorite piece was the one she wrote about her marriage when the State of Massachusetts made gay marriage legal.
Reluctant Disciplinarian: Advice on Classroom Management from a Softy Who Became (Eventually) a Successful Teacher by Gary Rubinstein
The good news is that you need to follow the rules only long enough to win students’ respect. Once they are convinced you are a real teacher, you can slowly morph into the kind of teacher you’ve always envisioned yourself to be.
So it seems the problem is that I jumped ahead slightly and assumed they already knew how to act in school! I am taking their advice and ignoring the beginning and going forward with assumptive speech and firm limits/consequences.
Always speak as though you expect students to do what you ask, and allow them room to do it.
When a day like this occurs, you have only two options when you greet the class the following day. One is the “What happened yesterday is not acceptable” speech. This, I believe, can only worsen things. It indicates that the teacher is in panic mode over something that the kids most likely have already forgotten. The other option is to ignore it. Yes, as much as a whole day can be ignored when there is no better option.
Recognize what you get out of teaching. This was very impactful for me. Rather than ruminate over how miserable I am, I am choosing to remember why I’m doing it. I want to meet people in the community and impact these children in a positive way so that they care about their Jewish education and the future of the Jewish people. (Nothing too grandiose, right?)
The Rosie Project: A Novel by Graeme Simsion
I don’t remember why I requested this one from the library. It’s unusual that I’d read chick lit. I listened to this in my car on CD and found myself looking for a reason to drive places so I could continue it.
I’m pretty sure people with Asperger’s Syndrome are capable of emotion and recognizing them too. Besides the extreme disconnect the main character, Don, a professor of genetics who’s decided it’s time he found a wife, feels from his own emotions, this book is highly hilarious and enjoyable. Don designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. Of course it never works that way…
Does the Soul Survive?: A Jewish Journey to Belief in Afterlife, Past Lives & Living with Purpose by Rabbi Elie Kaplan Spitz
I found it fascinating to learn what Judaism teaches about the soul. It turns out that it’s only very recently that we have shied away from discussing it. It’s not woo woo at all! It’s very much a part of our tradition, liturgy, and literature.
“The concept of another plane of reality, a standard belief in most traditional religions and cultures, has only in the last 100 years been rejected by the collective wisdom of Western culture. In the past century, a time of dramatic leaps in scientific knowledge, there developed a profound distrust of that which could not be materially identified. Ironically, we who live in an age of skepticism are most aware that there is more to reality than what we see.”
“Each of our faculties — the physical, the emotional, the intellectual, and the intuitive — derives from the source of creation and is nestled one in the other as a chain of soul.”
“My mother’s life and death prompted me to affirm the value of a Jewish life, a life that embraces Jewish ritual, values, and thought. The soul can’t be seen, but it is not an abstraction. How we live determines the impact we make on loved ones and the elevation of our own soul. The quality of how we live is a product in part of whether we see ourselves, as my mother did, as passing visitors in this world.”
“What I gain from the study of Jewish sources on survival of the soul is an affirmation of my growing faith in another realm of reality. In the study of Jewish text, I join a centuries-old conversation on the meaning of life and lear that, among the most sensitive and mystically oriented of my ancestors, many saw this world as only a passageway to another world. Reincarnation in the Jewish mystical literature was consistently viewed as real and as another opportunity to develop our souls. The Jewish tradition affirms that we have spirit guides, or visiting souls, that come to aid us on our spiritual path.
“Judaism teaches that our inner life is composed of different dimensions, and on the highest level our souls are an extension of the Divine… I remain humbled to know that survival of the soul and reincarnation are largely a matter of mystery.”
What have you been reading lately? And are you on Goodreads? I’d love to connect there.
Everything I’ve Ever Read (I think)
More monthly book reports