All about the books… Why e readers suck

I love this video from a British Columbia bookstore!

Personally, I hate E readers. I have an iPad but I don’t use it for reading at all. I think we have too much screen time in our culture as is, and a book should be An escape from technology. There’s nothing like the feeling of a real book in your hands as you escape away from electricity and flickering screens.

Often we have different standards for our children then for ourselves. We would never want to child to talk away with an electronic device for hours on end, would you? Of course not! It’s been proven many times over that electronic device time lowers your child’s concentration, affects their academic marks, and even negatively affects their happiness  so why would we  often we have different standards for our children then for ourselves?

Real books help you go to sleep; e-readers keep you up at night. Real books are reusable, recyclable, and can be shared. You can mark them up and curl into bed with them.

I get that you can take multiple books in one e reader when you were traveling. Total advantage. But even better yet, why don’t you take one or two books with you on a long trip, and then trade them for other people’s books along the way?

Yes, real books use trees. But e readers create horrid electronic waste, and source a lot of content from countries that don’t have any environmental regulations. Trust me… The electronic readers have a MUCH larger ecological footprint.

Truth: You can take multiple books in one E reader when you were traveling. Total advantage. But even better yet, why don’t you take one or two books with you on a long trip, and then trade them for other people’s books along the way?

My vote? It’s all about the (real) books!

Carving out time for myself and my kids

Those closest to me have noticed a difference in me lately. I’ve been less frantic, and less panicked about all the things that I haven’t done. I’ve made some changes in my life, and are continuing to do so, that have enabled me to carve some time out for myself and my children.

Like many people, I have a lot on my plate. I didn’t exactly designed it that way… Life just ends up going un-according to schedule. Since our veterinary business took a few years longer to start than planned, I grew my other business, Africa Sleeps, in the meanwhile. Even though I retired from teaching, I still ended up being an entrepreneur with two businesses that need a lot of attention, as well as the founder of a charity, as well as a mother and wife. This isn’t bragging; it’s more of an admission of guilt. In our society, we value busyness too much, and don’t place enough emphasis on enjoyment of the moment.

This last year has been increasingly frantic. I found less time to spend with my children, and no chance to ever get on top of my work for my three major obligations. Of course, the charity is the organization that suffers the most, because it always gets bumped behind my two businesses. As much as I value the creativity of building a new business, and the passion for natural products, my work in Ethiopia is the most important to me. And yet it’s always at the bottom of the heap.

As I was driving down south to Portland to meet my sister for a much-needed getaway, I decided to listen to an audiobook that I had been waiting to have some time to get to. It had been recommended to me by one of my former students, went to Ethiopia for four months to volunteer for my charity. The Four Hour Workweek was is inspiring… Reflecting in all those hours of driving, I took a hard look at how efficient I actually am, how I spend my time, and what is most important to me.

First of all, I realized how many times the day that I get distracted by unnecessary activities. The prime example is Facebook. I started to go on A Facebook diet. I realized how many times a day I would have a break in tasks, and then end up on Facebook for 5 to 15 minutes. Well, those 5 to 50 minutes add up. I still need to use Facebook for work… So I can’t go cold turkey. But I installed an app that dealt with my organizations pages, and put the Facebook app several pages back on my iPad desktop. To my surprise, I didn’t miss it at all. I found that even checking Facebook once every couple of days was sufficient to keep up with friends. There simply just too much garbage information coming across the wire. This all takes time… Time I don’t have. So the less Facebook the better.

Secondly, I realized that I was trying to do too much in one day. I was constantly frustrated with all the things that I didn’t get done. Multitasking actually sucks. It’s a horrible efficiency strategy. So I begin giving myself two major tasks for a workday. That’s plenty to do in a day ground between school hours. Because I only set myself to tasks to do, I also had to really think about what was most important with my time, and delegate some of the less important tasks to others, but I couldn’t eliminate all together.

My third important take away was how much I could assign to others. I do use the strategy in the past, employing a housekeeper, and even a marker to get some of the more mundane and tasks of my teaching load done. But since we started the veterinary hospital and have been living on an extremely limited income (just Africa Sleeps,) I have been trying to do more and more myself. So I started thinking about what I could delegate to my staff at the hospital, and decided did to hire a minimum wage personal assistant. I advertised for the personal assistant job, and ironically, have not had time to hire someone! That’s next week.

The other part is “encouraging” my husband to take on some more family tasks. The truth is that he is not run off his feet… It’s a start up veterinary hospital and the veterinarian isn’t busy all the time! So he is learning to use some of his downtime to pay bills and run errands. {insert joke about teaching an old dog new tricks} But seriously, Jason is learning to use some of the non-booked time in his day for household obligations, instead of whiling away those hours and having to tack on household stuff afterwards, at the expense of family time.

On the way back from Portland, I listen to another short audiobook about effective mornings. Basically, the whole point of What the Most Succesful People Do Before Breakfast is to get up early and pay your self in time first, like the Wealthy Barber suggests with money.

I realize that my evenings after the kids went to bed were mostly being used to go back to work. I work too much… Have I mentioned that?

So I decided that I would get up an hour earlier every day, and give myself an hour of time for myself. I didn’t dictate what that time should accomplish. But I found the mornings that I sit with a cup of espresso or chai, and either blog or reads, fill up my cup in the way that a few things do. The one thing I miss, having children, is quiet breakfast. So this is my way of carving out a quiet breakfast for myself, and a little refractive time. Consequently, at the other end of the day, I am either going out in the garden or spending a little time talking with my husband after the kids go to bed. Then, I go to bed myself. With a few exceptions {insert another joke about training an old dog new tricks} I’ve been avoiding working at night, when I am least productive anyway.

The most recent changes we’ve made is after our trip to Las Vegas. Prompted by our children’s less-than-subtle hints, Jason and I had deep discussion about our lack of time with kids. The truth is, until one of those major obligations is gone, we don’t have a lot of spare time. But we had found we had got into the technology trap… Much of the time we did have to spend on the children, we were wasting on technology time instead. Jason will go to his iPad, and I would go back to work. Sloth and Overwork. Neither reflected our true priority, of enjoying our daughters before they grow too old to enjoy us. So Jason has ditched his iPad, or rather tried to and was having a terrible time until I hid it on him. And I am making an equal attempt to not go back to work after 5 PM. Most importantly, we have taken the pledge to say “yes” to our children, and squeeze in activities and time with them during the day.

Our lives are these constant works in progress. The last few years have been building… Building our businesses and setting up our lives for the next stage. Now we are in the editing phase of carving out time for ourselves and our children.

If you find that you are short on time, not spending time with your kids, and too busy with work, I highly recommend those two books. They’ve prompted a lot of discussion in our lives, with more changes and editing to come.

Two old fogies at Rock in Rio

Last weekend Jason and I escaped for a weekend away (no kids!) to Las Vegas. Our reason for visiting sin city was the biggest rock concert in world, Rock in Rio, and we had a blast!

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This is an actual picture of the concert… For the headliner acts, we were in the brightly lit part left of the towers and the zip lines. Jason isn’t much of a concert goer, but he even describes it as amazing!

Days before the concert, we learned that Sam Smith has cancelled, due to some medical emergency. He’s Jason’s current favourite artist, so he was very disappointed, but the rest of the acts more than made up for him.

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The headliner, Bruno Mars, was ever kind of amazing. It was exactly as I imagined it… A big flashy show, with lots of dancing, jokes, and upbeat music. His 1 1/2 hour set was definitely in my top five concerts of all time. Here’s the first 17 minutes of the concert…

Taylor Swift, the other headliner, was totally disappointing. Her performance as so practiced and artificial, we actually left half way through. Sorry, Taylor.

My second favourite artist was Jessie J! Wow, that woman can rock a stage. She was witty, engaging, and completely gave herself over the the performance. We were right in front, and it was the first time I saw Jason actually rock out to music. You couldn’t help but move!

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Jason’s second favourite was Charlie Xcx. Ok, the old fart that I am, I knew some of her songs, but honestly didn’t know who she was before the concert. Well, that’s changed. Her performance was excellent. She was full, of energy, and her all girl band completely rocked the stage. If you ever have a chance to see her, do it…

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Ed Sheeren, who I wThe biggest surprise for us was John Legend. He’s a bit of a crooner, right? So we thought he might be sleepy in concert. As contraire… He had a masterful command of the stage, and was incredibly pitch perfect the entire concert. Truly astounding! He made a fan of Jason in one hour, let me tell you. I would pay to see him again in a second.

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For two nights, the concert ran for seven hours. My tired old knees couldn’t take standing the whole time, but luckily, the concert venue had astro turf all over. So whenever you wanted to, you could sit on the Grass, festival style, and relax. That was great. And despite my jokes about being an old fogie, the concert actually was a huge mix of ages and people. Leave the kids at home! But if you have a chance to go, do it! It was a completely fun, memorable experience.

Happy Mother’s Day from my sweet girls

This morning I was surprised by some cute gifts for Mother’s Day. But the best gift of all were the books the girls gave me. The book from Spice, especially, made me cry. It’s amazing to see yourself through your child’s eyes, and what makes them feel loved. One of the girls cards said “Dear Mommy, you worry about me, and I like that. I love you! Happy Mothers Day.”

From Sugar..

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From Spice…
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Sisters Trip to Portland

Before Christmas, my brother in law asked me to find a CD of Damien Rice,  in Irish folk/rock singer for my sister Ena’s Christmas present. Despite looking in the few stores, I didn’t have any luck on the CD. No one buys physical music these days! But one evening in May, I came across concert tickets for the same guy, performing in Portland. I thought “what the heck, she’ll love it,” and spontaneously bought the tickets. I mailed one to her when they arrived, and announced that we were going on a road trip, wether she liked it or not. Ena was delighted! And so in April, we headed off on our four day whirlwind trip down to Portland to see an Irish folk singer.

Ena and I live a few mountain ranges away from each other, so we agreed to meet in Spokane and then continue on our way to Portland.

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Apparently my brother-in-law was slightly concerned about our ability to meet up in a foreign city without cell phones (I ditched mine almost a year ago when our clinic opened and my daily work/home life shrunk within three blocks.) Surprise surprise, maps and preplanned meeting times still work.

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Ena and I explore the sites of Spokane, including taking a gondola ride over the river. That was pretty cool.

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We scrounged up some gluten-free grub at Gastro pub in a trendy Spokane residential neighborhood, and headed out for our night in the cabin.

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For our budget trip, I had booked a cabin in Potholes State Park. It was practically deserted this time of the year, and we had a restful sleep, waking to the sound of the marsh humming on our doorstep.

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Then onto Portland!

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We stayed at an HI hostel, right in the middle of a trendy shopping and residential neighbourhood. It was great! I’ve stayed at countless hostels, all over the world, and this was one of the best… Clean, simple rooms, a beautiful shaded garden between the four buildings that constitute the hostel, and spacious kitchen to make our own food.

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We rode the tram to the concert, and found it very easy to get around. 

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Otherwise, our time was spent shopping, eating and walking.

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I wanted to see what the hipsters (and their dogs!) We’re wearing, to incorporate new ideas into my store. I definitely picked up some awesome product ideas, as well as some cute low boots.

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Spending a couple of days there, I really jived with Portland. It is beautifully lush, and the laid back atmosphere and attention to style really suits me. I’ve always said if I ever had to live in the U.S., it would be in San Francisco, but maybe, in the imaginary border crossing, it would be Portland instead.

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After too short of a visit, we headed back home. This time, we drove north, then east, and spent the night in a yurt in a wooded state park.

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The next morning, we took a hike through the woods, following the river, and got our legs ready for the long journey home.

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A trip like this is a special gift. And that’s the way I feel about my sister. As teens, we often didn’t see eye to eye. I thought she was reckless and she thought I was a stick in the mud. But by the time our twenties rolled around, we realized that we have way more in common than we ever thought. We share interests, values, and a lot of great jokes. For the last 18+ years, I’m lucky to have counted her around my best of friends.

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Bonus picture! For fans of my puppy:

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