Seth saw my new book sitting on the counter and asked why I was reading a book called Spinster in the midst of wedding planning?
A perfectly valid question. I had heard of the book while we were still dating, but never got around to reading it until after we were engaged. For some reason, at the height of wedding planning I finally decided to give it a go.
Prior to meeting my husband-to-be, I was actively seeking out books, articles, and discussions about interesting, educated, and dynamic women who happened to still be single. As I moved into my late twenties and early thirties, I began to worry about my future plans of marriage and family and I wanted to find some companionship, at least on the page. Most of my friends were married and starting families, and it was very isolating.
As someone who works in a church, I know that single life can be especially lonely in that context. In the midst of my confusion and worry about my single status, I committed to myself to remember those feelings of isolation and loneliness if I eventually found myself checking off the married box.
And so, when I came across Spinster in the whirlwind of wedding planning, I knew it was something I still wanted to read. My interested in the topic hadn’t changed along with my relationship status. Bolick isn’t advocating for singleness as the only or right way to live, but is taking an historical look at the statue of single women in this country, while she explores her one feelings and experiences with the subject.
Bolick’s books is almost equal parts memoir, sociological study, and history. I enjoyed her skilled weaving of her own story in with the stories of her “awakeners”. Bolick identified a handful of women who had written on the subject of singleness extensively and had lived a significant portion (if not all) of their lives without a spouse. And as these women were living fifty to a hundred years ago, their single lifestyle was truly trailblazing. Bolick explores the social and economic factors that began to make independent singleness a viable option for some women in the early 20th century. Previous generations of women had the option of remaining unmarried, but would then usually find themselves under the “protection” of their father or brother.
An increase in jobs available to women, boarding houses to live in and other factors allowed many women to have the option for independence for the first time.
As I navigate what married life will look like for me and my spouse, I appreciate having Bolick’s historical and personal perspective in my toolbox. Her book was an enjoyable and relatively quick read, but also had a depth that kept me thinking long after I finished the final chapter.
Reading is one of the primary ways I learn about myself and others, so I would recommend Spinster to any woman (or man) regardless of her marital status. It is always helpful to understand where we have come from in order to prepare for where we may be headed.
I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review, but the opinion is solely mine.
ILike just about everyone in our country (and perhaps beyond), I am finding myself increasingly agitated and anxious about our current presidential election.
As a government minor and professed lover of all things The West Wing, I usually love campaign season. It gets tense sometimes, sure, and ugly things are said, but usually I find it exhilarating and fun. I like knowing all of the nuances of the major campaign developments and reading various thoughts and commentaries.
Like in so many other ways, this election feels different. The news is making me nauseated sometimes. My only television source is AppleTV, so I've been relying on the certain outlets on the internet and NPR as my news sources. And while they help with my desire for information, they can also upset me.
Over the course of this lengthy election, I have added podcasts to my news rotation, and I have found them to be sanity-saving. I subscribe to a variety of political shows, and consider many of the hosts and podcasters to be trusted authorities and comforting political companions. So here is a round up of my favorite political podcasts this campaign season.
The Ezra Klein Show: This is a long-form, interview style podcast so it does not keep up with all of the latest news bits (although he usually puts them out within just address the latest bombshells and breaking news. Ezra talks to smart, thoughtful people who put this election into a broader context. These discussions place the events of the election within a helpful historical context and frame what is happening in our current political climate within larger societal shifts and trends.
FiveThirtyEight Elections: Nate Silver and his political team take an analytical, data driven approach to the news and latest happenings in the election. The analysts offer commentary, but I appreciate how they back up their assertions with data and trends. A great resource for those who want fact-based analysis.
NPR Politics Podcast: The folks at NPR produce a weekend round-up podcast that touches on all of the political news of the week, but also pop in with analysis whenever anything big breaks, or after a major event. I didn't watch any of the convention coverage, but they did a recap after every night of both conventions and it was a all I needed to catch up. If I only listened to one political podcast this season, this would probably be it. I feel like these guys are my friends.
Slate Political Gabfest: This was the first political podcast I started following and I've been listening for years. I feel like I know Emily, David, and John. Their commentary is colorful at times, but they are all knowledgable, reasoned, and very opinionated. The show is very informative (they often break-down issues I was having trouble understanding), but it's entertaining as well.
The RunUp: This podcast from the New York Times is a new one for me. Actually, it has only been produced since early August. Political reporters and editors from the New York Times ask questions and talk to legislators, politicians, and political professionals to get answers about what is going on this election.
So there you have it. My diet of political podcasts for the season. I've also heard great things about the Pantsuit Politics Podcast, but I haven't had a chance to listen yet.
What political podcasts would you recommend?
As I prepare to merge my life (and home) with my fiancé for our upcoming marriage, I’ve been thinking a lot about the clutter I need to eliminate from my life. And it’s hard work.
Joshua Becker’s new book, The More of Less, came across my path at just the right time. I was ready to make a change and this book definitely changed the way I thought about decluttering and the things I choose to keep in my home and life.
Becker includes plenty of practical tips on how to eliminate excess from your life. He tells motivating stories about his own family’s life-changing experiences with minimalism. But for me, more importantly, Becker address some of the emotional and psychological issues that can make decluttering so difficult.
Becker writes, “Sometimes, parting with our possessions means giving up an image that we have created in our mind of the person we would like to become. Sometimes, minimizing possessions means a dream must die.”
Those words stopped me in my tracks. I have piles and bins and baskets overflowing with unused craft supplies because I have an image of this creative person that I want to be. I occasionally make use of them, and they bring me joy during those moments, but the rest of the time, frankly, they feel like a burden. But I was reluctant to get rid of them because I didn’t want to let go of this particular self-image.
Becker’s words turned over in my mind and I began to think about new dreams for myself and my identity. I could be a person with enough time and space in my life and home to other people. I could offer the kind of hospitality I’ve always dreamt of. My home could be a haven for me and my (soon-to-be) husband as we start our lives together.
I’m still in the middle of implementing many of the strategies and tactics recommended by Becker to make more space in my home and my life for the things that truly matter to me. It will be an ongoing process, but The More of Less reignited new dreams within me of the life I want for my new, developing family.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Are we facing The End of Reflection?
"For a certain percentage of the population, the thoughts that they may have kept private in a pre-smartphone age — letting them marinate and perhaps deepen till they could no longer be articulated in fewer than 140 characters — are now ejected into a public forum."
OKCupid profiles for the March sisters. This is spectacular. And, I met my fiancé on OKCupid, so it always has a special place in my heart.
Exciting news! Young House Love Has a Podcast!
Hamilton will air this fall on PBS with the original cast!
Speaking with babies as if you understand what they are saying can make them smarter.
"“The infants were using vocalizations in a communicative way, in a sense, because they learned they are communicative,” study author Julie Gros-Louis, a psychology professor at the University of Iowa, said in a statement. In other words, by acting like they understood what their babies were saying and responding accordingly, the mothers were helping to introduce the concept that voices, more than just instruments for making fun noises, could also be tools for social interaction."
Sometimes I think life would be easier if things were more black and white. It would certainly be simpler.
I read an article today about Chick-fil-A employees feeding first-responders and blood donors last Sunday after the horrific Orlando shooting, and I immediately wanted to share it on Facebook. But I was hesitant because I disagree with Chick-fil-A's corporate stances on LGBTQ rights, and I wondered how I could celebrate them? But then I decided to get over it and celebrate kindness and love from wherever it comes.
I disagree with some of the personal beliefs and political stances of Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy, and I've made it a personal habit to avoid buying food there for the last several years.
But I have also long admired their excellent and genuine customer service, their commitment to close on Sundays despite possible profit loss, and their community generosity. In many ways, I wish it was a company I felt comfortable supporting.
I've heard stories of Chick-fil-A franchise owners and employees going out of their way to help their community in difficult times and this is another beautiful example of that in Orlando.
I probably won't change my personal choice to not eat at Chick-fil-A (I don't need all the fried goodness anyway). But I deeply respect these individuals, the stores involved, and the corporate culture that seems to foster this kind of self-less act.
Just as there is much to celebrate about Chick-fil-A despite my strong disagreement about other things, there is undoubtedly much to celebrate within those I disagree with politically, theologically, and personally. We might actually get somewhere as a community and a nation with gun control, mass shootings, LGBTQ rights, Islamophobia, and so many other issues if we just took the time to stop seeing our “opponents” as wrong, stupid, or even evil, but found something to love about them.
Of course, this isn't really about Chick-fil-A, but it got me thinking.
We should take a stand for what we believe, absolutely. I'm not advocating equivocation. This shooting against the LGBTQ community was heinous, despicable, and terrifying for all of us, especially LGBTQ people, who probably now feel less safe than ever. I believe we have to stand up for their rights. I believe assault rifles need to be banned. Now. And I believe that all Muslims in this country and around the world are not our enemy and that we should be talking to them and most importantly listening to them.
But none of that will get any better if I hate Chick-fil-A and all the people who disagree with me.
It's not black and white.
As a Jane Austen fan, I approach Austen adaptations with a healthy dose of skepticism. I’ve delighted in several retellings: Longbourn by Jo Baker, Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James, and Emma by Alexander McCall Smith. Others, which shall remain nameless, have majorly missed the mark.
So I was cautiously excited when I heard about Curtis Sittenfield’s Pride and Prejudice modernization, Eligible. When my bestie sang its praises, I decided to forgo the line for the library holding (always a good sign!), and sought it at the bookstore
The story was engrossing and kept me turning the pages for more than one late night. I finished the novel in less than a week, and leap frogged a preexisting read in the process. These are all signs that I’m enjoying a book.
So, obviously Sittenfield’s storyline and characters were compelling and kept me reading, but was it good?
We’re not veering into high-brow literary fiction here, but I did find the writing to be clever and smart. Sittenfield was creative in the way she modernized a Regency era story, and did interesting gymnastics with some of the names and occupations to make them translate. The pages kept turning but Sittenfield gave me a lot to think about. It would be great to pair it with the original P&P. Maybe even a fun summer project for a bookclub!
Previous readings of Pride and Prejudice are not required to enjoy this delightful novel, but it certainly lets you in on all the jokes.
If you are an Austen purist, then you’re probably not considering this book anyway. But if you are open delving into an author’s playground of plot, characters, and setting, then I think you’ll find Eligible worth your reading time.
Have you read Eligible? What did you think?
I am a chronic over-apologizer. I am compelled to apologize if someone is slightly inconvenienced or made uncomfortable by something I have done. Or often, because of something I perceived to have done.
It has become such a habit, that it’s basically my go-to phrase whenever I feel uncomfortable. Sometime I will needlessly apologize for something, and my fiancé or my parents will call me on it, and I will apologize for apologizing.
Once, I realize I had actually apologized when my hostess got up from her seat on the couch after I accepted an offer for a glass of water. Are apologies really the response I want to have to gracious hospitality? Of course not!
I came to realize that while I thought the apology was for the benefit of its receiver, it was really for my own benefit. I was assuaging some weird guilt I felt from thinking I had inconvenienced someone. And often, it has the opposite effect than what I had hoped. My unnecessary apologies cause the recipient discomfort or confusion. And any true apology would be drowned out by all the superfluous ones.
I’ve been trying to break the habit, but I didn’t have a good way to reframe my automatic thought pattern. My fiancé, who was becoming weary of my constant apologies, challenged me to think of things differently. He asked me if I could find a way to say “thank you” instead of “I’m sorry”.
His simple question was a lightbulb moment for me. Why haven’t I thought of this before?
Apologies are so ingrained into my speech patterns that it has been a challenged to change my response, but I’m seeing progress.
Just the other day, my fiancé was carrying several loads of things out of my car and into my apartment. After his last trip, he grabbed the trash bag by the door and took it out to the dumpster for me. Just then, I remembered that I had left my gym bag in the car. I called out the window to him on his way back from the dumpster requesting that he pick up my bag.
The next thing I knew, he was back in the apartment without my bag. Unbeknownst to me, he had already locked my car, and needed to come back in to push the unlock button on my keys. I felt terrible for causing him an extra trip after he had already done so much for me, and called out as he returned to the car, “I’m sorry!”
Right after the words slipped out, I recognized the opportunity. I quickly rethought the situation in my head and when he returned, gym bag in hand, I offered a revision. “I retract the ‘I’m sorry’ and replace it with, ‘Thank you for making an extra trip for me.’”
He beamed at me. He felt appreciated and I felt grateful, not apologetic.
This plan just may work.
Do you find yourself apologizing unnecessarily? Why is it something women seem to struggle with more?
I had originally planned my posts for Fridays to be a collection of delightful posts and articles from around the web, but I everything I collected this week seemed to have a more serious tone to it.
So I'm not calling this Friday's post "Friday Delight", but it's still a collection of reading that will be worth your time and brainpower.
Speaker Paul Ryan's speech to a group of Capitol interns this week. He showed a level of humanity and humility that is rare in politics this days and it gave me hope.
From Brain Pickings, On Kindness. Over and over again I am convinced that we need radical kindness in our world.
Why is the Western media (and therefore world) so much more concerned about European terrorist attacks than they are about Middle Eastern attacks?
Reflections on Holy Week in an Unholy World by Shane Claiborne.
NPR recommends podcasts on earbud.fm. I've only just begun to dive into this.
My focus word for the year is CREATE. My intention is to focus on creating more and consuming less. But we’re closing in on the first quarter of the year, and I don’t have much to show for my year of creating. I believe I have been better about consuming more mindfully, but I would like to be more intentional about creating.
So I’ve decided to make a list. I love to check things off of a checklist, and this is a great section for my growing bullet journal. Some of these items will be a stretch for me, and others will be things I have made before, but want to be intentional about making more often. I’ll share my creation checklist here and update as I progress over the next nine months.
In 2016, I will create…
a container herb garden
a queen-sized patch work duvet with the fabrics I have been saving
a completed prayer shawl
a loaf of Challah bread
a loaf of zucchini bread
a bundle of quilted trivets from fabric scraps
a stack of dinner napkins
a completed embroidery patten to display on the wall
a series of book reviews
a batch of herbal salves
a November wedding with Seth
a beautifully hand-lettering quotation
a batch of strawberry oatmeal bars
a curriculum for Youth Celebration
a batch of homemade tomato sauce
a throw pillow
a pair of pillow cases
an original canvas painting
Wish me luck! I’ll be posting progress reports and pictures of my creations as I cross things off the list.
What are you creating this year?
A round-up articles, videos, podcasts and more that have brought delight to my week.
Lately, I've been noticing more and more how my brain constantly seems to need stimulation. I'm trying to allow more space in my head and this post from Modern Mrs. Darcy, In Praise of Being Bored, really resonated with me.
I've totally been geeking out over my bullet journal lately and so I loved this post from Mother Nature Network, Why Bullet Journaling is a Genius Idea.
I'm just getting into the Read-Aloud Revival Podcast by Sarah Mackenzie and I loved this episode from a few months ago with Modern Mrs. Darcy herself, Anne Bogel.
This awesome list of books from Brain Pickings totally combines my love of children's literature and awesome people: Creative Courage for Young Hearts: 15 Emboldening Picture Books Celebrating the Lives of Great Artists, Writers, and Scientists. https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/04/13/picture-book-biographies/
What has delighted you on the internet this week?