Tag: Opinion

I need to preface this whole post with the disclaimer that I am not a big reader.  Ally is a voracious reader…but I’m not.  I love to read when I travel…or at the beach…or on a rainy/snowy Sunday with a hot cup of French vanilla coffee by my side.  But I don’t read every day.

It takes a really good story to get me hooked on a book, and then once I’m hooked, I don’t put it down.

So when I do think about reading a book…I’m totally drawn to fiction, as I love a good story.

Not that true life can’t be turned into a good story, but I guess I prefer the made-up version of life when I curl up with a book.

Interestingly – even though I’m a sporadic reader – I’m particularly drawn to novels in a series.  I guess I like to know that when I start a book, I’ll be able to follow the characters through different times, places and experiences…taking multiple books to complete the saga.

(Or maybe I’m just lazy and like the idea of having my next few books all laid out for me)

And I’m not at all particular about the genre of the books/series I choose.  In fact…I’ve read and totally enjoyed…

  • “Young adult” fiction like The Hunger Games series and The Twilight books;
  • Books that deal with espionage, terrorism and political intrigue like The Bourne series, Vince Flynn’s series featuring the super good guy assassin Mitch Rapp and anything by David Baldacci;
  • Stories about prehistoric times like Jean Auel’s the Earth’s Children series (Ally and I just went to a book signing last week and heard the author talk about her latest book and each got a signed copy!);
  • Quirky stories about weird people in Sweden (yep…I got hooked on the whole Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series);
  • And most recently, a story about a woman who steps through a group of large rocks in the 1940’s only to get sent back in time to Scotland in the 1700’s where she falls in love with a hunk of a Scottish man who rescues her about 20 times from danger in the first two books alone (the Outlander series)!  LOVING IT!

I think I like historical novels a lot…but I can’t seem to get through a nonfiction book about a historical figure or event.   I’ve tried to read about several of our Presidents, various wars, and even the civil rights movement.  But honestly…I haven’t finished any of them.

I love to read stories about strong and interesting women, but when I’ve tried to read about real women (who I thought were role models) like Hillary Clinton or Jane Fonda, I found that I don’t really care all that much about their lives once I got into their books.  They’re still role models…but just not as authors.

I’ve tried to read about how to better my health, my mind and my body…but I lose interest quickly and end up sitting in front of the TV eating a big ham and cheese sandwich.

But oddly enough, I like to read cookbooks.   I know it sounds silly…but I can read through an entire cookbook, learning different techniques, food and spice combinations and serving ideas, and walk away feeling totally fulfilled…but not feeling like I just read a book.

Weird.

So I guess I do like some types of non-fiction.

And as I think about it…I think I read more than I think I read.

So I guess I’ll go finish up the 2nd book in the Outlander series right now.  I’ve already got the next two in the series waiting for me.

I’m a total fiction fan.  I love stories, whether they be love stories or fantasy stories or scary stories or stories written for pre-teens.  I love them.

(OK, especially the ones written for pre-teens.)

I have a hard time with non-fiction.  I get bored very easily.  I drift off.  I don’t find it very exciting or enthralling.

I just don’t connect.

And that’s what I really want from a book.  Connection.  And by connection, I don’t mean that I have to necessarily relate to it.  I just like feeling connected to a character or a plot and interested in what happens next.

And I don’t really get that from (most) non-fiction.

(There are always exceptions.  For example: humor.  (Enter Mary Roach, Jen Lancaster, David Sedaris, and – most recently –  Tina Fey.)  That’s because I’m connecting to the funny.  But even that’s not always enough if there’s no plot.)

I once read in (ironically) a non-fiction book that life is too short to read books that you don’t enjoy.  So I don’t read a lot of non-fiction because I just don’t enjoy it very much.

Honestly, I thought that everyone read mostly fiction, because I’ve always equated “reading” WITH “fiction”.  And then I started working in a bookstore.

Oh, the things you learn working in a bookstore!

I won’t go into it all now (because I’m compiling a list that will someday make a very long short story and probably a wildly popular film), but one of the biggest lessons has been that non-fiction is the popular choice for many, if not most, people.

(This is where I will ask that you refrain from going into a large bookstore and asking where the “non-fiction section” is.  Odds are that the WHOLE FREAKING BOOKSTORE is non-fiction, with a row of novels.)

(This is also the part where I ask you to refrain from saying some rude comment to your local bookseller when we point this fact out.  I understand that you’re scoffing and rolling your eyes at me because you realize that you asked an idiotic question, but still…)

(Moving on…)

I honestly didn’t realize that people read so! many! self-help books and religious books and new age books and history books and biographies.  For entertainment!  I hear the statement “I don’t really read fiction” far more than “I don’t really read non-fiction”.

(Probably because us fiction lovers are embarrassed that we prefer fantasy over books that, you know, might teach us something.)

My bread and butter is fiction.  My love of reading is for fiction.  When I walk into a bookstore, I make a mad dash for the fiction section.

Since starting at the bookstore, I’ve tried to expand my horizons.  But really?  If I find the time to sit and read, I’d rather read some epic love story than a self-improvement book about how to “be a better me”.

(Snore.)

I just loose interest reading about the same thing over and over, without a plot moving me forward.  When I read, I want characters and secrets and imagination.

I want escape.

I crave (fictional) connection.

It’s my comfort zone, and reading should be about being comfortable, no matter what genre makes you feel that way…

(PS: I truly believe that there’s no “better” preference.  I just think you should read, no matter what it is…)

Topic: How do you handle change?

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

I thrive on Change.

I initiate it.

I get bored without it and then if things get too quiet, I initiate it some more.

I guess that makes me a change junkie.

But…I also like routine.  A small amount of routine to balance out all of the changes I create in my life.  Like when the dogs get fed each day;  or the way I like to have a cup of coffee in bed every morning before getting up, but then have to be fully dressed with make-up and jewelry on and bed made, before going back downstairs to start my day.

You know…the OCD kind of routine stuff.

I’m not a maniac or anything.  I’m just a weird kind of change junkie who also happens to like having things orderly around me.

And everything needs to move quickly.

I like my changes to happen fast.

(Clearly, that whole patience thing is not my strong suit)

I think it has to do with the fact that my hair grows really really fast.

I never worry about getting my hair cut (apparently some women absolutely flip out over the idea of cutting their hair!).  But my hair grows freakishly fast.  So when I get bored with my hair style (which happens every few months or so) and decide I need to get a new haircut (as soon as possible) – I just do it.  And if it ends up not being something that I like (which is rare because I have an amazing hair stylist)…I don’t freak out because I know it won’t take more than a few days (ok…maybe a couple of  weeks) before it grows back to where it started, and then I’ll get to change it again.

So I started to try to figure out if someone was a “change agent” or “change adverse” by figuring out if their hair grew quickly or not.  Typically I found that people with fast growing hair would accept and/or initiate change much better than someone whose hair took forever to grow back.

So I labeled it the “Speedy Hair Growth Theory.”

It totally makes sense.  If someone with slow growing hair gets a bad haircut, they’re totally traumatized because they know they’ll have to live with the results of that bad haircut forever…so they extrapolate that feeling into everything else and they become afraid of change!!

It’s brilliant.

Maybe my Speedy Hair Growth Theory is also the reason why I make decisions quickly.

Really quickly.  And most of the time it’s a good thing.  Once in awhile…I can jump a bit too quickly.

But that’s probably why I also get shit done.

You kind of have to like change, and be able to make decisions, in order to get shit done.

And that’s why I liked running my business.  It was in a constant state of change that required a million decisions as our services changed, our people changed, our operational models changed and our level of quality and expertise grew and evolved.

And I knew…if we didn’t change, we wouldn’t grow.  But we did grow.  And the business evolved into an amazing and successful company.  And then it sold.  And I was lucky enough to get the chance to change my life again, starting a whole new chapter in my life.

Initiating more changes as I go…and feeding my change junkie habit.

I approach change with a careful combination of stomachaches, nausea, and panic attacks.

Really, it’s a total party.

So I guess I’ll just say that change is kind of a bitch.

But really?  It’s not the change that’s tough.  Change is good.  Change is natural.

It’s what’s supposed to happen (because when things don’t change it’s just boring… and kind of pathetic).

What’s scary isn’t change itself, it’s The Unknown that gets me.  I hate The Unknown.

When I was a kid, every new experience was met with debilitating anxiety.  Why?  Well, other than the fact that I had (have) an (obvious) anxiety issue, it was because I didn’t know what would happen.

(This is where the stomachaches! and nausea! came into play.)

My mom would always tell me not to worry because, “Really?  What’s the worst that could happen?”

Well, Mother, I COULD DIE.

And my dad would tell me to stop worrying because it would eventually lead to an ulcer.

So not only did I worry about The Unknown, but also about the giant killer ulcer growing in my stomach.

(AWESOME.)

So instead of embracing change, my fight or flight response has been conditioned to kick into full flight mode whenever something new comes along.

But I’ve been trying to let that go.

Because change is good!

Without change I’d still be unemployed and broke.

(Now I’m just broke!)

Without change I wouldn’t be going to grad school in the fall.

(So I’ll be even more broke!)

Without change I wouldn’t be getting married!

(HAPPY FACE!)

I wouldn’t have bangs!

The Unknown is still scary (and I still get panic attacks), but at least I can appreciate it.  At least I can see the good that The Unknown can bring.

(Though if one of you can give me a cheat sheet for grad school, I’d really like that.)

Topic: What does “aging gracefully” mean to you?

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

My initial thought for this topic was to try to think of any old people I’ve know, whom I consider to have aged gracefully…because the concept of aging gracefully is way too out there for me yet.

I’m just 54 ya know.  Waaaaaay too young to have to think about aging gracefully…yet.

And then it hit me.

There are people out there who are probably looking at me right now and judging whether or not they think I’m aging gracefully, or not.  OY.

But I’ve known for awhile now that the older we get…the older our definition of “old” becomes.  So logically, to a teenager, I’m old.  And for me, an older person is at least 100!

Typically, I think we define “aging gracefully” in terms of physical attractiveness as the primary benchmark. We look at people (mostly celebrities) and judge them as “holding up nicely” or still looking beautiful or handsome as they age, especially when they reach that turning point age of 60 or so.

Case in point… I was watching Helen Mirren at this year’s Academy Awards and was struck by how absolutely stunning I thought she was “for a woman of her age.”  Truly someone who was aging gracefully.  And then we googled her and found out that she was only 65!

I’m sorry Helen Mirren…you’re waaaaaay too young for me to be talking about how you’re aging gracefully!!!  I promise to wait at least another 10-15 years before commenting on it again for you.

And who didn’t start talking about Jane Fonda or Barbra Streisand at the Golden Globes or Academy Awards this year and do the same thing!?!

We appreciate people who still look good as they’re getting old(er).  And we’re terribly disappointed when they don’t.

As a society, we do it more for women than we do for men.  But men don’t get off the hook entirely.  We still like them to retain a certain ruggedness or sophistication as they age.   But there just isn’t as much pressure on them to retain their youthful appearance as there tends to be for women.

But it can’t just be about physical appearance.  It has to include our behavior.  Our style.  Our actions in the world.  The totality of who we are.

And so, I believe that aging gracefully must take practice.  It must take years to perfect.  You don’t begin to live gracefully once you reach a certain age.  No, it has to be a natural continuation of a life lived with grace.

As Fred Astaire once said, “Old age is like everything else.  To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.”

I’ve been wracking my brain about this one for the past week.

How am I supposed to know about aging gracefully?

I’m 25.

And even though my knees hurt when it’s damp out, I’m aware that I’m still fairly young.

(Though I recently learned that I’m too old to try out for The Real World.)

(It was mildly depressing.)

(Not that I WANT to audition for The Real World, but the fact that it’s now not even an OPTION?  That’s just sad…)

So… I don’t know much about aging, let alone what makes it graceful.

Especially since “graceful” brings to mind royalty and dancers and actors and actresses who have been knighted by super fancy British people.

But, when I think about what it means to “age gracefully”, I think of the following:

Confidence – in who you are, in what you’ve done, in where you’re going, in how you’ll look getting there.

Pride – in yourself, the life that you’ve lead, and the life that you’re leading.

Acceptance – nothing is sadder than someone who thinks they’re 35 years younger than they are.  I’m not saying “act your age”, but at some point, you have to add jeggings to the “Murtaugh List“.

Unbitterness – it’s (technically) not a word, but it needs to be on this list.  Nothing kills “grace” faster than bitterness.

Then again, what do I know?

I’m just a kid.