You Learn By Living

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today is the end of my third month of working on this project, and I think it's time to reflect. Well actually the VP of the blog thought it was time to reflect and I'm indulging her since she just gave me a blogging present (a bookworm mug which I'm drinking out of as I write this entry). March has been a difficult blogging month for me, because I've been focusing to much on what other people will think of the entries. I've been trying too hard to anticipate criticism that may or may not even come. Will people thing the entries ramble too much? Will they get sick of the constant references to myself and my family? Will they think I don't talk about the book enough? So I tried to make the entries shorter and more to the point, and I tried to talk about the book more and myself (and my family) less. Although that last one only lasted for the first week or so. And I've finally discovered, after a month of trial and a lot of error, that writing the blog that way does not work. Or as my sister says while altering one of her favorite quotes from The West Wing, "You've just got to let Angie be Angie." Which is not to say that I don't care what you think dear readers, because I do enjoy your feedback - just that trying to be something specific in anticipation of what someone may or may not like is never a good idea. Which is something I used to be really clear about back in junior high when I was "that weird girl who wears dresses all the time" despite the fact that no one else in the school dressed that way and everyone around me acted like it was the weirdest thing ever. So I think April will be a time for reclaiming that 13 year old who just did her own thing and didn't give a crap if people disapproved of it. Well actually, that's not completely accurate. I did care if they disapproved (hey, no one likes being disapproved of) but I never let it alter the way I talked, dressed, wrote, or acted. It's time to get back to that.

And now on to today's book: I can't find a description of today's book on any of the book websites I normally get my descriptions from, and I've borrowed today's book from my sister (who never keeps the dust jackets because they ruin the aesthetics of her library), so I'll just have to recap it for you here. Today's book was written by Eleanor Roosevelt, who is sharing the lessons she's learned in life with her dear readers. - (I think you can see, after reading this description, why I never got high grades on the book reports I wrote in high school).

I was amused by the part of the book where Eleanor describes her Grandmother's approach to childcare; "She believed that a daily cold sponge bath kept one from catching cold and I took cold sponge baths for years. She believed that if I caught cold or had a headache it was a result of my own foolishness and that I should be expected to keep myself in good heath." - This reminds me of a book of parenting advice written in 1910 that my sister bought for me at a library sale. She thought it would be amusing for me to read since I worked in childcare at the time and read a lot of parenting books. It became a sort of comparison study - and it turned out to be more entertaining than anything on TV. According to the childcare experts of 1910, children should not be shown much affection or it will ruin their dispositions for life. They should also never be hugged because their bones are too brittle and they will break if you try to hold them too close or hug them. So dear readers, I certainly hope you haven't hugged your children today or told them you love them - because, as we all know, hugging is the road to ruin. And all this time I thought that the road to hell was paved with good intentions, but it turns out it was actually paved with love and hugs.

Eleanor goes on to speak of many other things; fear, maturity, the proper use of one's time. That last one was a very amusing chapter as Eleanor lets us know how she effectively manages her hectic days of having breakfast, going over the days meals with the housekeeper, looking over the mail, writing her column, taking her house guest on an afternoon excursion, resting before dinner, dinner, and them letter writing. I'm so glad that Eleanor laid it all out for me like that, because up till now I had been squandering my time by first taking my house guests on excursions and then coming home to find that, without my supervision, the staff had planned meals that were served at 5:30 instead of 5 sharp like I prefer - and so the system just kept falling apart. But now with Eleanor's help, I am able to supervise the staff to meet their most efficient potential. And you have no idea what a comfort it is to know that I can write my evening letters in peace without constant pressing questions from the staff about what to serve for that dinner party with the Governor next Wednesday . . . Okay seriously, I enjoy Eleanor Roosevelt immensely, but the woman is just a teensy bit out of touch.

But all in all, I think Eleanor had some really good advice. And after reading her thoughts on life I feel I'm not being too presumptuous in saying that Eleanor would approve of my sister's borrowed-from-TV advice of "You've just got to let Angie be Angie."