Keeping Track

I read a lot, but I don’t have a system for processing what I read. I document finished books through GoodReads and in my planner. I rate the books. But I don’t write anything about them. I read articles for work, and I jot down my notes, but again. No formal processing. I have thought about writing reviews, but I’m not sure what my angle would be. What’s the point?

With articles or professional texts, what is a way to process my thinking? I’m wondering if I keep a journal (either paper or digital) to write down my thoughts. Do you keep the articles if they are printed out? Maybe I’m overthinking all of this.

Does anyone else have this issue? How do you keep track or process?

Pick Up the Weights

I’ve always been thin, but I’ve not always been healthy. About 5 years ago I decided that I needed a more active lifestyle to keep up with my kids. I started working out regularly, and got into really good shape. I ran a half marathon and could run circles around my kids. But, for all my hard work, I didn’t notice my body being extremely toned.

After some talk with my personal trainer (AKA my husband), I wasn’t lifting heavy enough. My cardio game was solid, but my weights were weak.

Like many other women, I didn’t want to get bulky. My husband laughed, and told me that unless I was working out ridiculous amounts of hours, it was pretty impossible to get bulky.

I used to fear weight training, but now I’ve embraced it. My body is so much stronger than I gave it credit for, and I’m lifting heavy and challenging myself. I am empowered, and I hope that my story will encourage you to pick up the weights. And then pick up the heavier weights.

Make Your Bed

I used to be adamantly against making my bed. I’m sure it stems back to a childhood of it being a requirement.

But, after reading Atomic Habits, I decided to be an adult and try it out. It only takes 3 minutes, but I’ve noticed a big change. In general, I detest clutter. I get stressed when things are everywhere. What I didn’t realize is that seeing the bed unmade was adding to the clutter stress. Messy blankets and rumpled sheets were making me feel more anxious.

Plus, making the bed every day allows me a sense of control. It may seem silly, but knowing I can control something helps set the tone for the day. It gives me a sense of confidence as I get going.

My house is full of boys (2 smaller ones and another who’s full-grown), and it’s so nice to have a sanctuary that is peaceful and calm. A well made bed looks inviting and relaxing.

Although it was a reluctant habit, I now embrace it! Do you make your bed? What is an easy habit that’s made a big difference in your life?

5 Minutes

I don’t want to write today. I’m not doing anything fun, but it’s raining outside, the time changed, it got colder, and I am just unmotivated. So, I made a deal with myself. I have to sit here and write for five minutes. You can do anything for five minutes, except maybe a plank. That gets a little challenging after four minutes.

Tomorrow, the sun is supposed to come out, and it will be warm in the afternoon. I just need to hold on until then. When we hit spring break, I have zero tolerance for cold weather. Zero.

The hints are all here, that neon green of new leaves, purple bushes blooming everywhere, and longer evenings. It’s always a time of hope and and a herald of summer fun.

I just can’t wait. More bike rides, beaches, waterparks, and patio drinks. After all of 2020, I’m ready for this summer!

Hidden Gems

March and April in Texas make dealing with July and August worth it. The weather is perfect and everything turns green seemingly overnight. Because of the freeze a few weeks ago, the green part is a little slower coming. Part of our quarantine purchases last year were bikes, and that was my favorite part of last year. We live near a bayou and the reservoir (for those of you who watched the news, the same reservoir that flooded during Harvey). It’s so awesome that all this nature is just a few minutes away on a bike.

The teenager stayed home, but the younger one (who is from Italy if you’ve read my earlier posts – haha) joined us with an ice cream bribe at the end.

It was one of those perfect days that you don’t even know what time you left, what time it is, or how long you’ve been gone.

“Killing the Five Paragraph Essay”

“It is very rare to see a five-paragraph essay in the wild; one finds them only in the captivity of the classroom.”

I underlined, highlighted, and circled this sentence when I read it in Why They Can’t Write, by John Warner. It bothers me that we still tell students what to write about and the format to write it in. I’m shocked when teachers don’t seem to understand why students aren’t engaged.

I am on a mission to set kids free from the writing dictators. The only way student writing will improve is through authentic opportunities, choice, and practice. Getting there is the hard part.

Antique Museum

I wander through the aisles, a loose term, and stare. As far as I can see, shelves fill the entire space – literally from floor to ceiling. The objects range from figurines to rugs, pillow covers to souvenir plates with an image of the Sheikh, playing cards to full size statues. What I don’t see anywhere are antiques.

The smell of musty old things and dust pervade the air. In fact, there’s a layer of dust coating most of the objects and shelves.

It’s called the Antique Museum, and it’s an expat rite of passage when you move to Dubai. Located in the middle of the industrial sector, in a very non-descript concrete block building, without any visible signs, someone has to show you the entrance. While you won’t see any antiques, it’s an hours long experience browsing for some little tchotchke¬†to display in your villa.

Once I was no longer an expat newbie, I began escorting new expats and guests to the Antique Museum. While you might not necessarily find high quality items, you’ll definitely remember your visit.

Fu-Go Japanese War Balloons

I was reading Draft No. 4 by John McPhee when I first learned of Japanese War Balloons. After reading his short mention of them, I did a little more research. In the early 1940s, Japan figured out that there was a ‘wind river’ that would transport anything on it to the west coast of the US.

Schoolgirls in Japan stitched together the material that ultimately became the balloons. Attached to the balloons were hydrogen bombs. Although most landed harmlessly in the Pacific Ocean, one landed in Oregon. A minister, his wife, and other children from their church stumbled upon it while on a picnic. Unfortunately, the bomb exploded when they got too close. Those were the only casualties from the war balloons, but another landed on a power line supplying a nuclear facility in Washington that was producing plutonium that eventually was used in the bomb on Nagasaki.

The government kept all this quiet for a while, because they didn’t want Japan to figure out they’d been somewhat successful. However, not long after they decided to warn people to avoid the balloons should they come across them.

Stories like this make me wonder what else we don’t know about. What other unusual stories have flown under the radar.