Giving Up (& Adding) For Lent

With today being Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent in the Christian calendar, I thought I’d let you know not only what I’m giving up for Lent, but also what I’m adding:

Giving Up

  • Facebook AND Twitter: Initially I only was going to be giving up Facebook, but after only checking in briefly last night, I decided to give up Twitter too. I won’t even be posting links there, but hope that you will continue to follow my blog here. I do plan on commenting still on other blogs to which I subscribe in Feedly.
  • Alcohol: My plan for the start of the year was to decrease my alcohol consumption during the week, but as that isn’t happening, I’m thinking this will help.

Adding

  • Daily Devotions: I bought a Kindle copy of Ashes and the Phoenix: Meditations for the Season of Lent, which is a publication from Forward Movement. I also am using their Day by Day entries.
  • A few other books from which to choose to read (or not, depending on how they hit me): H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes, Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily P. Freeman, and Hurry Up and Meditate: Your Starter Kit for Inner Peace and Better Health by David Michie. I have attempted to read McDonald’s book previously, but maybe this time it will stick.

I did take a vacation day from work today and plan to attend an Ash Wednesday service today as well as start on some of the reading. I also have scheduled to be off Good Friday, to bookend Lent, and already am off Easter Monday as the library, where I work, is closed that day.

If you are a Christian, do you have plans for Lent? Even if not, do you practice meditation? How has it helped you? What self-improvement books have helped you in your own personal journey?

…and although I know it has nothing to do with Lent, I’ll leave you with this “ashes” song:

That’s A Wrap For February 2017!

All the Books!

All five of them:

  1. Darkness, Take My Hand, the second in the Kenzie and Gennaro series, by Dennis Lehane
  2. Sacred, the third Kenzie and Gennaro, also by Lehane
  3. Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
  4. The Rain in Portugal: New Poems by Billy Collins
  5. Robert B. Parker’s Cheap Shot, the 42nd Spenser, by Ace Atkins.

All were good, but nothing that was great. Perhaps the stand-out was the Hammett, because it is a noir classic.

All the Life!

My One Word for this year was, and is, “Invigorate.”  As mentioned in that original post, I set three goals to start with:

  • Physical: To begin with, to walk once a week to work.
  • Mental: To read one non-fiction book a month.
  • Spiritual: To go to church once a month.

I also mentioned that I’d like to journal daily, drink less alcohol, get outside more, eat better than I did this past year, and (but of course) lose weight. So how did I do? First, with the main three:

  • Physical: Like January, I think I walked to work once for the entire month.
  • Mental: I read Billy Collins’ book of poetry, but not something on self-improvement, which I would have preferred.
  • Spiritual: Nope.

As for the rest, I failed on all of them. So meh overall, but this coming month, the weather is getting better, and I have a Lenten plan for reading and other things, that I’ll reveal in a post tomorrow.

Before I leave you with a track from one of my favorite albums this past month, let me ask you: How was your past month? Any highlights with reading, movies, TV, or music and in your life?

Nine Years (at least) Of Blogging!

So according to this message I received from WordPress.com, I’ve been blogging for nine years…with them, which technically is correct since I use their services, but actually have been with WordPress.org for the last five years or so. As for blogging, I started in October 2005 with a running blog, I believe, on Blogger, then took up several other blogs, from a book blog to a humor blog to a little bit of everything blog to where I am now, still with a little bit of everything and still unfinished.

However, one looks at it, it’s still (today’s word) quite an accomplishment, I guess (shrug). So am I doing anything special to commemorate the sort-of occasion?

You’re looking at it, ladies and gentlemen: this blog post.

So…

…this past week was a pretty good reading week as I finished four books:

  • Sacred, the third Kenzie and Gennaro, by Dennis Lehane
  • Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
  • The Rain in Portugal: New Poems by Billy Collins
  • Robert B. Parker’s Cheap Shot, the 42nd Spenser, by Ace Atkins.

The middle two were better than the first and the last one, but all four were pretty good. Hammett’s is a classic, and I love Billy Collins. Next up probably will be Robert B. Parker’s Kickback, the next Spenser, also by Atkins.

As for the rest of my life this week, it was pretty uneventful when compared to the 4-day Presidents’ Day weekend, which I already wrote about. Today, my wife and I are going to neighbors for lunch and then she and the neighbor wife are going to see a local university symphony while the neighbor husband, I, and another neighbor are going to watch the Daytona 500. This coming week, I have off from work on Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, as I’m taking a vacation day. I also plan to take off Good Friday to bookend Lent with days off. I don’t know what yet I’m doing for Lent, but in the past I have done special Lenten readings and this year, I might do the same. I haven’t decided yet.

Then next Sunday, my wife, I, and our neighbors are going to see a local university’s musical production of Young Frankenstein.

I’ll leave you with a little Rhiannon Giddens, who has a new album Freedom Highway that was released this past week, from a performance late last year on Austin City Limits (pay attention especially to the second song “Waterboy,” which was popularized by folk singer Odetta and which now has become Giddens’ signature song too):

So how was your week? Read, watch, or listen to anything good this past week?

Wrapping Up Presidents’ Day Weekend

As I mentioned last Friday, I had a four-day weekend for Presidents’ Day and in that post, I outlined my plans. In photos first, here’s how I (and we) did.

Friday

The plan was to read, read, and read some more before going to a jazz concert with my wife. The reading plans didn’t happen as I got sucked into an impromptu It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia binge-watch. However, my wife and I did go to the concert and it was very good. It was a BYOB affair and, as you can see above, we brought our own special cups. We ended the evening at a local lounge where we met unexpectedly with some friends.

Saturday

The plan was for Kim and I to go to a chili taste-off event as part of a winter celebration in our town and for me to participate later in the night in a drinkalong of When Harry Met Sally with friends online. And also to read. The reading didn’t happen again, but we did go to the chili taste-off, walked around with neighbors, and watched ice sculptors, and I did participate in the drinkalong. It had been so long since I had seen the movie, and I’m glad I was able to see it again.

Sunday

The plan was for me to read (yet again) and for Kim and I to do our own drinkalong, a Sharknado Fest, if you will, with all four Sharknado movies, which are on Netflix this month. This time, I did read and finished Sacred, the third Kenzie and Gennaro, by Dennis Lehane. Next up in the series is Gone Baby Gone, which I believed I read before I knew it was part of the series, but I’m going to try it again. I think I liked it. Kim and I did watch 3 and 1/4 of the Sharknado movies. We couldn’t get through all of the fourth movie, not because we were so drunk but because it was so bad.

Monday

The plan again was (GASP) for me to read and for a second day in a row, I did just that, as I finished Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett. Like Sacred, I also enjoyed this one, a straightforward noir, from one of the kings of noir, as opposed to a new noir. Beyond reading, I didn’t do much else, taking a couple of naps, which weren’t planned, but which I guess were needed.

Now I have a four-day workweek, but I don’t think I’ll have as many cool photos from that as the past four days.

Did you do anything special over this past weekend? Even if you didn’t have a three- or four-day weekend?

Fabulous Friday: 4-Day Presidents’ Day Weekend

Fabulous-Friday-680x680Each and every Friday, Michelle of the blog That’s What She Read shares what makes that Friday a Fabulous Friday for her and I do the same. Click on the image at left to be taken to this week’s post from Michelle.

What makes this a Fabulous Friday for me

Today is the start of another four-day weekend for me as I took a vacation day today from work and the library, where I work, is closed on Monday for Presidents’ Day. So here’s the plan:

Friday

Saturday

  • Go to the Chili with a Chance of Chocolate Taste-Off event with my wife. It is part of a winter celebration event happening in our town. The weather is supposed to be nice, which isn’t great for some of the events, but won’t affect the chili taste-off.
  • Read. Read. Read.
  • Drinkalong with friends online. The movie is When Harry Met Sally.

Sunday

  • Watching the Daytona 500 with neighbors. Read. Read. Read. (The Daytona 500 is next Sunday. Oops.)
  • A Sharknado Fest, a drinkalong created by my wife and me, wherein we are going to watch all four Sharknado movies on Netflix and drink. We haven’t set up rules yet, but it definitely won’t be a shot for every shark.

Monday

  • Read. Read. Read.

So what will I be reading?  I’m starting today with The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. Beyond that, I have a few other choices, including Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett, Sacred by Dennis Lehane, and Robert B. Parker’s Cheap Shot by Ace Atkins.

What makes this a Fabulous Friday for you?