Essentialism: less but better

http://collegewebeditor.com/blog/index.php/archives/2014/06/26/1-1-1-book-review-essentialism-the-disciplined-pursuit-of-less-by-greg-mckeown/

I was listening to Michael Hyatt‘s podcast and he reviewed Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Love. Intrigued enough to download it onto my tablet, I dove in and read it this weekend. I want to embrace this lifestyle so I am going to reread it more slowly and do a series of blog posts.

What is essentialism? It is the idea that more is not necessarily more. In our world with proliferating choices our quality of life often depends on focusing on those things that really matter to us. As McKeown writes, “Essentialism is not about how to get more things done, it’s about how to the get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”

If you are interested in learning the discipline of essentialism, which includes learning to gracefully say no, making space to think and play and sleep, and how to get over the fear of missing out, then join me. Read the book and participate in the conversation in the blogs that follow.Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Delight and Awe = Inspiration

A sample of Little Cotton Rabbits, Fox, and Elephants by Julie Williams

A sample of Little Cotton Rabbits, Fox, and Elephants by Julie Williams

Is it just me or do find these creations irresistible? It is like Beatrix Potter took up knitting!

I am enjoying all things Little Cotton Rabbits today. I woke up feeling a little under the weather and in need of a little comfort. I found this artist and blogger on Pinterest and have dedicated my lunch hour to reading her gentle blog.

I need the inspiration. I have not picked up my knitting since I got home from France. And I needed some whimsey. Dare you to look through her creations and not smile.

 

 

Robin Williams Still Making Me Laugh

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/video-playlists/99z8qi/remembering-robin-williams

I wish we could have had a Robin Williams Week (like Shark Week only funny) before he died, when we could have watched his old clips and laughed out loud. Instead it took his death to appreciate what a truly talented person he was. I also remembered I have a lot in common with him. We are both politically liberal, Californians, cyclists and huge bike racing fans. 

Of course his fame made it possible to ride in the team car behind Lance Armstrong when he was tearing up the Tour de France.  (He subsequently expressed his disappointment in Lance and still loves cycling.)

I am enjoying old interviews with Robin Williams because 1) he talks about cycling, 2) he shares my disdain for France. (My recent adventure has confirmed that I have had enough of France and French attitudes for a lifetime.) For example, on Fresh Air they replayed a 2006 interview between Terry Gross and Robin Williams and this line almost took me off the road, “When I speak French in Paris they say to me ‘Stop speaking French. No. Speak englais.’ Then they give their baby a cigarette.”

He really lets loose on The Daily Show. Check out the second interview where he riffs on the French for much longer. 

And go ahead and laugh out loud. It is the best way to honor Robin Williams.

War Horse as Act of Remembrance

Winding up my Tour de France adventure, I enjoyed my last 24 hours in London. I stayed at the exquisite Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington. They sent me an email a few days before my arrival asking if there was anything they could do to enhance my experience. My friend suggested seeing the stage production of War Horse. The concierge efficiently fetched tickets and after an afternoon of fossicking around bookshops in South Kensington, I duly trundled off to New London Theatre on Drury Lane to see the play.

I tried to read to the book by Michael Marpurgo and got emotionally swamped. It is told in the horse Joey’s point of view. And like Black Beauty it is gut wrenching. I may have seen about 5 minutes of the Steven Spielberg movie and could not stand the idea, again, of horses suffering even if make believe. Afterall, they did suffer cruelly in World War I, as did people. So I was a little nervous about seeing a stage production. I was also curious about how they would handle the staging and the horse characters. 

Wow. I mean WOW!!!!  Just the puppetry was worth the admission price to witness. It is amazing. I have since found an awesome Ted Talk that describes how they created Joey. Please watch.

The play beautifully illustrated the complete stupidity of World War I. While it is not unique among wars (all wars are stupid), it is the first where technology completely bamboozled strategists. I can understand sending the cavalry in once against machine guns. But again and again? Stupendously stupid. It was all the more poignant for me because of my Grandma Hazel Olson’s beloved horse sold to the US Cavalry. I can only hope that he never made it to Europe–that maybe his high spirits made him too difficult to work with or too attractive to some officer who was on active duty at the Mexican border. 

It is a very moving production, even more thrilling seen in a smallish theater with actors running by right in front of our seats. I realize War Horse has been on stage and travelled the world already so I am not on the cutting edge of theatre. If you have not seen it, make the effort. You will be richly rewarded.

Researching and honoring my great uncle Frank Denham on Le Tour Adventure was worthwhile and added some emotional depth to my experience. I am not going to stop learning about the war either. My favorite conversation on the topic was with my cabbie who gave me a lift from the train station to the Ampersand. With his East End accent he held forth on a number of topics. I told him about my interest in World War I and he said the machine gun was invented by an American living in London, but the British officers did not want to use it (at first) because it “wasn’t cricket.” (meaning that as gentlemen it was not the proper way to conduct warfare). I responded, “But the Germans have never played cricket.” We both shared a rueful laugh. 

All of this remembering while the conflict in Ukraine results in a civilian jet liner shot down, and Gaza rages on; it is a wonder to me that mankind has not wiped itself off the earth yet. Perhaps the reason we yet remain is found in the sparks of creativity that still ignite in puppeteers and writers and many others who choose to spend their energy creating beauty and celebrating truth rather than the dark arts of war. This is the path I choose.

World War I Memories Everywhere in this Part of France

World War I memorial and cemetery for allied troops in Arras.

World War I memorial and cemetery for allied troops in Arras.

You cannot travel far in this part of France without seeing World War I memorials large and small. The graveyard and memorial in Arras was especially moving. 

IMG_1285I was able to go to the Cathedral in Reims (another Notre Dame) and meditate on Uncle Frank Denham for a few minutes. He is not forgotten. 

The Tour television coverage in France includes many quiet moments with the helicopter camera hovering over World War I memorials. I hope the coverage in the US is doing the same. IMG_1288

 

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