Did a slight refresh of my site tonight, moving the focus back to blogging rather than my freelance work. Most of my work comes through referrals anyway.
The Artist’s Journey follows in the stream, while pulling concepts from Joseph Campbell’s heroes journey — another topic I have deep appreciation for. Put those pieces together, and it seems like this book should have hooked me. But, my attention span wasn’t having it. Either Pressfield has gone to the well one too many times in writing these books, or I’ve gone to the well way too many times in reading books about the creative process.
Since I also just posted my quick thoughts on Why We Sleep, this is the author’s TED talk on the subject. It certainly can’t capture all of the book’s content, but it hits the highlights and serves as a good teaser for what the book offers.
This stands right alongside Digitial Minimalism in the scuffle for most influential book I read this summer, and maybe year to date. Walker outlines a deep exploration of sleep, how it works, and how the quality of it impacts our health and flourishing as humans.
As he says late in the book, we teach kids about healthy eating, and the importance of exercise — and those are topics that are mainstream even beyond school. But when it comes to the importance of sleep, there’s not much to be found. Maybe that’s because we’ve long understood the muscular and digestive systems of the body, but are still unfolding how our brains work.
I’ve become more intentional around my sleep in the last three months since I’ve read it, with a focus on a consistent schedule and a goal of 8 hours a night. It doesn’t always happen, for various reasons, but when it does I feel like I have better focus, especially in my afternoon focused work time.
I had super high expectations going in to reading this. Crouch’s last book, Dark Matter, was one of my favorite fiction reads of the last few years.
Recursion was maybe only the slightest of notches below Dark Matter on the enjoyment scale. Crazy, out-there ideas that drive along a suspenseful story line. I kind of hope they never make these books into movies so that these stories can live only in the fullness of their prose.
I’ve read theology at different levels for all of my adult life, often pulled forward in them by the ideas they gave me to build upon for my own teaching of others. In this season, there’s not as much teaching, but I’m glad to say, I’m still enjoying reading theology. It’s never only been about teaching, but also my own growth and interest has been spurred on by stretching my understandings in new directions.
So, Romans Disarmed was one I was excited to stumble on. Many years ago, I was challenged by Keesmaat and Walsh’s prior collaboration, Colossians Remixed.
I was expecting more of the same, and that’s what I got. It’s a different take on writing about ancient Scriptures, but one that brings them to life in new ways. I find that I resonate even more when I agree with them, and when I disagree, it forces me to think through more deeply why that might be the case.
I always enjoy meeting with website clients in person when the opportunity is there. So, as part of our move (back) to the Phoenix area, I've been networking to make connections with local developers and agencies.
Those efforts paid off, as my first local client came as contract work for Skyhook Interactive — a busy and well-respected WordPress shop here in the Valley. They were asked by Virtuous CRM to convert their existing website into WordPress, and then combine into it their existing subdomain sites all running WordPress. Skyhook gave me the charge and I ran with it.
I've now seen every page of the Virtuous site multiple times. With a background in non-profit work, I appreciate what they do and it looks like a well designed product. I also enjoyed working with the team at Skyhook — I'm waiting for the final go ahead to get started on my next project with them.
I don't expect I probably need this. My own aeropress is holding up well and doesn't take crazy amounts of space in our cabinets.
And even when I've been in seasons where I traveled more, I've only occasionally packed my aeropress. Generally I was able to find coffee that was reasonable, other than those road trip motels between larger urban areas.
But golly, it's compact. And it's fun looking. And I think it might change my life to have one.
Last year, no book got my attention more than The Hacking of the American Mind. I'd read before how social media and online behavior triggered some addictive type behavior in our brains, but somehow Lustig made the case in a way that really took hold with me. I've spent much of the last year reflecting on what healthy connections online might, and might not, look like.
Digital Minimalism is a book that explores all this even further. Newport's outlines a practice for how to engage with digital relationships in a way tries to maintain some of the value, while also moderating the unhealthy aspects. Ultimately, he argues that we all want to have meaningful relationship, but that digital interactions only lead to a kind of connection this is not complete.
The book resonated with me, and I've adapted some of what he's said since I read it in June. I lessened my online engagement, downshifting all of my social media engagements, and finding I don't miss them. Most of my professional life exists in this season exists in digital interactions — I think it's important that the same isn't true for my non-professional life.
The supreme goal for humanity is not equality but connection. People can be equal but still isolated — not feeling the bonds that tie them together. Equality without connection misses the whole point.
This quote captures the conclusion of _The Moment of Lift_ in a helpful way. Equality is not an end in itself, but a critical step on the path to connection. Without recognition of the value and equality of others, there will not be true connection or community with others.
I'm not a fantasy enthusiast, and outside of Tolkien, I can't name much other fantasy That I've read. But I'd had The Name of the Wind, which is part one of f this series, recommended to me quite a few times, so I read it a few years ago.
I liked it well enough, but I held off from continuing in the series for two key reasons:
– Book two, The Wise Man's Fear was a whole lotta longer and a big investment.
– Book three is apparently nowhere in sight and people who've read the first two are beyond impatient waiting for it.
So, here I sit unfinished like so many others. But no regrets for the time invested. Rothfuss is a good world builder (which I understand to be an Important thing in fantasy writing), and there is enough intrigue to keep me interested in part three. Probably. Someday.
Everyone once in a while, I hear another bibliophile mention that they find a certain book so meaningful that they re-read it every year. And when I hear that, I'm confident they are either lying or they are a way better person than I am. See, there are so so many books I want to read, and to devote the time to read a book again? Impressive.
But I understand the sentiment…there are some books that deserve to be re-read. Sometimes, it's because you know you want to understand their content more fully. Other times, it's because you know that what they say is so important that you want to not let any of it pass you by. Enter Sacred Fire.
I'm aware that I'm getting more "seasoned" in life. Sacred Fire is a book that offers a vision for who I might hope to become, and how I might hope to spend my later years in life. It's a book that celebrates life experience and offers a sacred view of maturity.
So, yeah, I'd like to read it again. And I'm serious enough about it that I just added a reminder to do so in early 2020. That's just about the most intentional step I've ever taken to read a book a second time.
After nursing along an out of date theme and design for several years, Nicole Kaney was ready for a new website to match her expanded business focus. The priority was a simple design that highlights photos of the beautiful weddings and events coordinated by NK Productions.
I changed things up for this project, using Divi rather that building a site from the code up. It seemed like a good fit for the content/image focused site she needed while keeping costs more reasonable. A page builder isn’t the perfect solution for all of my sites, but for a content focused site with a clean design — a site like this one — it was a great fit.
When I saw the release of Free to Focus last spring, it made it into that back of my mind list of books I’d like to get around to reading. But shortly after, I heard Michael Hyatt talking about the book on Mac Power Users. That interview flipped the book over to that ‘read soon’ list of books closer to the front of my mind.
What intrigued me in the interview was Hyatt describing some of the high level concepts he talks about in the book. The first section, Stop, is about taking time out to focus on what your overall priorities are. As someone who’s spent the last year in transition that was appealing and helpful, and it’s what makes the book worthwhile.
The rest of the book is fine, as the content narrows down to lower level day to day stuff. Truthfully, I was concerned it would be a sales pitch for the Full Focus Planner, but didn’t really turn out to be that. There were helpful ideas for whatever system you use.
But, it’s the first quarter of the book, and the extra resources made available online, that’s worth the while.
I’ve read most of Eggers stuff. With his fiction, there is usually some kind of underlying social commentary. In The Parade, that commentary is subtle until it isn’t at all. This one is a fast moving read carried along both by characters and tension that show Eggers’ experience…and also because it’s short.
I’ve done contract work for the ShippingEasy marketing site for six years. Maybe even seven…not sure I can keep track.
This summer, they wanted to overhaul their nav from some simple drop downs to a more robust “mega menu” that would more readily feature some of their…features. It looks simple enough, but there was actually a lot of problem solving. The site uses both WordPress and Bootstrap, and each likes to manage navigation a little differently, and neither accounts for this kind of drop down.
I ended up bypassing the WordPress menu system to build a custom solution so they can have this more robust nav system while also being able to edit it in the dashboard. I’m happy with the results, and they are too.
Considering the apparent popularity of this book, I'm not sure how it escaped my attention or my “to read” list until last year. I wasn't even familiar with Backman until I read Beartown a year ago, but sheesh now I feel like I see this book everywhere. (An upcoming moving with Tom Hanks might be a factor…)
We are offered Ove. He is a character who we probably wouldn't like, and likely would avoid, if we met him in real life. But over the course of a story, Backman gives us sympathy for him, and we find ourselves rooting for him. This is good fiction, doing one of the things I think literature should do best — invite us to be aware of the experience and humanity of others.
I'm not sure how many “Best of 2018” book lists I looked at, but I am sure that this was on all of them. It was recommended by Bill Gates and Barack Obama, among many others, and I'll join them in that recommendation.
Often times, the most painful stories to read are also the most hopeful. This memoir might have been too hard to read in the earlier chapters, though knowing she got to the place of being able to write it offered hope enough to keep going.
One of the earlier entries in the ongoing fascination we have as a culture with post-apocalyptic fiction. This one dates all the way back to 1993 with a strong young female character. (Literature has had room for a strong female lead long before the recent celebration of these kind of roles in film & TV. )
It wasn't a a page turner for me. But it was an interesting look at how a young woman forms a belief system and invites others into it, as a way of making meaning and hope when there isn't much to be found.
iPad Smart Keyboard failed after less than two years, and only thing Apple offered was a slightly discounted (and I assume refurbished) replacement. Yeah, it only has a one-year warranty, but I expect an investment like that to last longer. Thankfully, Amazon had my model for half price.