2018 week one

January 7, 2018 @ 12:27 pm | Filed under: ,

The first week of the year has slipped away. Slipped? Flown? Hmm, neither is accurate. It was a full week, an intense week of long phone calls dealing with IEP issues and other challenges we’re facing with S’s school. (Further affirming my belief that being an engaged school parent is every bit as time-consuming as homeschooling, if not more so. I remember when people used to be shocked when I made that argument. Homeschooling my other kids may be the least stressful thing I do, and the least demanding in terms of time and mental energy. The ratio is tipped so much farther in favor of joy and delight than pretty much anything else I do. But that’s a topic for another post.)

I’ve made some concrete changes in the past several weeks, in an attempt to reclaim lost bits of time and rebuild good habits that have crumbled rather a lot during this past tumultuous year. Had to start with myself, of course. In early December I began writing three pages first thing every morning, before I pick up my phone or even get out of bed. Three pages, longhand in an 8 1/2 x 11″ spiral notebook. I’ve been afraid to talk about it lest that somehow kill the habit before it gelled. But it’s been over a month now and I think I can make myself keep going. I’ve only missed one day so far—Christmas morning has its own particular demands. 🙂 Scott’s a big help, cheering me on, not minding the light popping on at 6:30 a.m. when it’s still deep dark here.

My daily nature walks with Huck and Rilla disappeared during the holidays—in large part because the cold air is making me cough. An allergy/asthma thing, quite annoying. I miss walking, both with the kids and with Scott—a habit we practiced for many years in San Diego but haven’t found space for here yet. I mean, I know we haven’t been here all that long and I wasn’t exactly up to walking for a while there. But the thing with habits is that we form them one way if we aren’t forming them another. And right now Scott and I have the habit of not walking. I loved our old sunset walks, and the early-morning walks before those. I’m looking for the right corner of the day to tuck them back into.

I’ve been examining my social media habits too. I enjoyed Chris O’Donnell’s post about reasons to blog more in 2018. He raises some excellent points. This time last year I was determined to return to daily blogging a la 2005, and I kept it up pretty well for a while. And then…life intervened. So much life! But…here I go again, the earnest attempt.

(Other blogging friends did a better job of keeping up the old posting rhythms. They’re in the sidebar under “Blogging Like It’s 2005.”)


Movies watched this week: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
TV: Parks & Rec rewatch

I read quite a lot this past week. I think I always do, during the first week of the year, because the blank space in my sidebar booklog bugs me. Didn’t sketch much. Hoping to kick that habit back into place this week.

I asked the following question on Facebook and wound up with a nice fat list of suggestions for my TBR pile:

What are your reading plans for this year?

(If you’re a reading planner. If not, what’s in your pile right now?)

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12 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Haley says:

    Here are two books that I read last year that you might enjoy, Maud by Melanie Fishbane and the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. Maud is about a young Lucy Maud Montgomery and Stalking Jack the Ripper was the best historical fiction I have read in a long time. Currently there is two books out in it and the sequel lived up to and went above my very high expectations.

    This year I plan to go back and read my favorites, the books that made me fall back in love with reading in the first place because, truth be told I miss them. I plan on rereading all the Anne series as I have not touched a few of those books in several years. I still have not read The Blythes are Quoted but Penquen came out with a reprint of it last fall so I plan on getting my hands on it. Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser is also on my list. So I suppose books that are connected to my favorite books are also part of my plan this year. C.S.Lewis books is one I have been meaning to read for years and I was gifted the Screwtape Letters for Christmas so there is my nudge to finally start.

    I also read the most the first week as I despise the though of,”Oh my I have only read one book this year.” Nevermind the year just started.
    I sincerely hope you have a great reading year and no health scares for your family or for year.

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      I started MAUD a while back but I think it must have been shortly before life went catawampus because I didn’t get very far. I think I have an ARC of Stalking Jack the Ripper—I’ll have to look! Thanks for the recs. I chuckled over your “I’ve only read one book this year!” feelings. I so relate!!

  2. Penelope says:

    {{hugs}} Lissa. I hope the cough eases soon, and the walks return. Gently, gently with your heart and time. It has been a year and then some for you, my friend. The new patterns will emerge …

    Ooo! Could you please freshed the link to my blog? Thanks!

    I am reading … Lots! Am in the middle of a BookLog post rght jow, may get it posted this day, maybe not, we’ll see how the tide rolls! It being Monday, and what with the homeschooling and all 🙂

    Oh I do hope the heavy lifting on the IEP is settling down!? I’m sorry. Work like that — the advocating, the phone calls the paperwrk. …!

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Blogroll updated, my dear! So glad you reminded me. 🙂

      The advocating, the phone calls, the paperwork indeed. I was doing my weekly planner review last night and tallied 21 hours spent on phone calls, emails, and research re the IEP/school stuff last week! No wonder I’m tired.

      • Penelope says:

        {{thank you!}} also, sorry for those typos, yikes! Well, my hand-eye coordination is abysmal at the bst of times, but on the slippy slidey glass screen …! Ack.

        21 hours!? I’m aghast, truly! More {{hugs}} prayers too, phew xox

  3. tee+d says:

    (I’ve never been a planned reader, but am lately finding that the random way isn’t absorbing my interest as well anymore, as I’ve just run across a few too many that made me tempted to throw them, so I’m watching your plans with interest. Right now I’m looking at a backlog of semi-celebrity books like DEAR SUGAR and THE YEAR OF YES which have been handed to me repeatedly, which I’ve subsequently set down… those aren’t my “type” of books. But, this year, so far I’m saying, “What do I know?” and venturing between the pages… we’ll see how it goes.) Oh, those darned IEP’s! They’re time-consuming for everyone, and I hope you have flexible school faculty on your side, helping to make things happen.

    I feel your pain on the cold air – that was a big shift for me, learning to exercise in the cold, without coughing. To keep exercising, I just decided on looking silly – I wear a face mask, or a surgical mask, or wool in front of my nose and mouth – it really helps. I rode my bike the other morning and forgot all of that, so had to cut my ride short (my teeth were aching from my manic grin of “Wheeeee!”), but it really does work. I do find that, especially in this dark time, that getting outside at least once a day for ANYTHING is helpful.

    Here’s to new habits!

  4. Susanne Barrett says:

    I never have a “reading plan.” I’m excited about reading the newest edition of Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley for a church history course at our wee mountain church. I read the second edition about 15 years ago and sailed through it; the book reads much more like a novel than a text! Church history is one of my “things” and I’m thrilled to be taking an official seminary-level course in it at long last! Will have my spiral notebooks, pens, and highlighters at the ready!! I love academia!

    I’ve also gleaned some recs from here; I just put The Blue Castle on order through the library with some Mary Stewart coming up next. I read through all of the Anne of Green Gables books last year, including the newer ninth book in the series. L.M. Montgomery is my go-to “comfort food for the soul” author. I still contend that she writes the most beautiful prose in the English language. Over Christmas break I nabbed the Emily series in one volume through Kindle; I haven’t read them in an age and can’t wait.

    I’ll keep on reading Austenesque novels in preparation for writing my own. They are also comfort food since I know the characters so well. I’m currently on a Dan Brown kick–I love all of the art and literature thrown into great suspense. I’m slogging through Inferno right now, and my hunger for medieval lit is fulfilled for now. I have to read it with my tablet at hand so that I can look up images of all of the architecture and artwork mentioned. Doing so slows down the action of the book, but it can’t be helped.

    So that’s where I’m heading with reading at this point. Once I get more academia-brain and am not battling the brain fog that comes with stress and autoimmune conditions, I hope to return to reading Julian of Norwich and Margery of Kempe and GK Chesterton’s theological works. We’ll see.

    Susanne 🙂

  5. Lenetta says:

    I’ve been reading for many years but not a frequent commenter. Just wanted to tell you that my 5 year old “read” (recited from memory) Daisy Thinks She Is a Baby to his 3 month old brother. I had some serious heart eyes as I listened!

  6. Selvi says:

    That article about FB was fascinating and disturbing. Makes me feel like I should get off social media. What conclusions are you drawing?

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      Oof. I don’t know. I keep thinking I need to check out of Facebook for a while—and in truth I haven’t been very active there for quite a while, except for occasional bursts—but I’m in a couple of Facebook groups, one work-related, that mean I do need to check in there. Plus a lot of people seem to prefer FB Messenger as a means of contact. I don’t get notifications and I’ve logged out of the app on my phone (and deleted Messenger entirely), but because of that–not getting notifications–I feel obligated to check in daily for messages.

      I also have this terrible loop I find myself in, where I read an article or an informative and well-sourced Twitter thread and feel a pressing urge to run to Facebook and share the information. I follow through on this impulse about ten percent of time. But it plagues me constantly–a sense of imperative need to try to spread truth and understanding. I don’t know why my brain thinks Facebook is the place to do that–perhaps because it’s where I have the most contact with people of different ideologies?

      In any event, I’m horrified by the fact that millions of people were influenced by an active propaganda campaign waged against us by a hostile power. I’m stunned that the public (and civic) response to this fact seems to be a giant shrug.

      I do find myself pulling back from social media participation. I know my nostalgia for “the olden days” of blogging 😉 stems from a frustration with how social media has changed discourse. But I can’t seem to blog consistently either—in part because I’m struggling to find balance between my sense that many urgent situations demand our action and my desire to chronicle our small daily joys. Every post I start to write starts hedging itself with caveats and qualifications. *This moment with my children was lovely but the world is a mess* — that sort of thing. And yet I need the chronicle of our happy moments more than ever.

      One thing I’ve thought about is creating a Slack group for my Patreon subscribers…but I don’t have a good sense of how much time that might demand, and I’m stretched pretty thin right now. Another thought I have with great frequency is to just stop posting on social media–keep viewing it as an observer, but take everything I might post on IG or FB and stick it here instead. A photo, a small caption. A kid quip. A reading list. The things I used side-blogs for back in the beginning. I wrestle with this notion because in some ways it seems rude–the suggestion that people should come to me instead of meeting them where they already are. Who has time for that? 🙂

  7. Selvi says:

    Well, however you decide to do it, it will be a compromise, though obviously thoughtfully made. I do appreciate both happy moment and messy world content from you. I am always grateful when thoughtful people share article and their reflections, as I’m not good at keeping up with things myself.