Archive for May, 2012

Refueling the Engine

Taking my own advice is not one of my strong suits. But I hope that by dishing it out, I’ll better be able to pick it up and run with it. Or in this case, take a nap with it.

I’m talking about rest and recuperation. Our bodies thrive on the work-rest cycle. So do our minds.  But that doesn’t stop most of us from abusing the heck out of ourselves.

Celebrate Accomplishment

I just finished a big, brain-challenging project. Hooray for me!  I crossed the finish line — on my birthday, no less. And instead of breathing, smelling the roses, and sipping some iced tea on the deck, I started a list of things I need to accomplish over the next week. Well, OK, I did take myself to see a movie the next day, but I made myself promise to work over the weekend to make up for that. *sigh*

Working hard is not a bad thing. I’m not advocating total chaos and loss of control. But there is something wrong with this picture. There is no downtime worked into the deal. There needs to be.

If you just keep going and going for too long, parts of you start to give out. If you don’t shut down for a time in a planned and voluntary way, you might shut down at some point in a very unplanned and involuntary way.  I’ve seen this happen to people (some very close to me), and I hope that one of these days it’ll sink in enough to teach me to really do as I preach.  I’m getting there. Baby steps.

Power Down to Power Up

At the end of a long day, we go to sleep.  At the end of a long project, we should get a spa day. It scares the heck out of me, and I’m not sure I can do it, but I’m going to try to have an at-home spa day.  Well, maybe a half-day. I think that’s as far as my fevered “gotta get stuff done” self can stretch at this point.

Planning it out will help. So, here goes:

  1. I’ll light some candles and play soft, soothing music.
  2. I’ll apply a facial mask while the tub fills with aromatic, bubbly suds.
  3. Luxuriating in the bath, I will allow myself to daydream about something other than “the next project.”
  4. When I climb out of the tub, I’ll wrap my hair in a towel and my self in a warm terry robe, and I’ll lie down on the bed to rest. If I fall asleep, great.  No stress. Maybe I’ll even put some cucumber slices on my eyes.  Nah — waste of food.  Baby steps.

Will I really do this?  Can I?  We’ll see.  I’ll let you know.  In the meantime, do as I say!  Take a break. Plan it out and execute your plan. You can feel a sense of accomplishment about that too!

Everybody and his mother is writing about this movie right now, so this will be short and sweet.  Like a delicious dessert at the end of a scrumptious meal.  Which is how I felt seeing The Avengers — satisfied, sated, delighted, compliments to the chef.  Thank you, Joss Whedon and everyone, cast and crew, who created a fun, exciting, well-paced, and exceptionally written summer blockbuster.

There are no dull moments in this movie, but it is not just incessant battles and noisy explosions. It builds meaningfully and offers further glimpses into the pasts and psyches of some of the characters, though not all. The heroes finally come together, and not in a smooth way. They are like competitive siblings, and sometimes it’s not pretty. It can be painful to watch, but also hilarious. Best of all, this film has some awesome lines (Captain America: “I understood that reference.”) and sight gags (the Hulk taking one last swipe at Thor) of any of the superhero flicks. Especially surprising is how loveable the thus-far-beleaguered character of the Hulk ends up being!

Yes, Captain America (Chris Evans) remains my favorite in this new incarnation of the Marvel universe, though he’s a bit serious for my taste in this film. His able foil, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), more than makes up for this with a plethora of snipes. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) redeems himself quietly and resolutely, and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) round out the team in a balanced way.

Of course, the good guys win.  But the “coming attractions” scene inserted in the credits tells us in no uncertain terms that this fight is not over. And I am so thrilled about THAT!  (And the final scene, at the very end of the credits, almost made me pee in my pants laughing. It’s this “we don’t take ourselves too seriously” attitude that I love about the creators of this franchise. That’s entertainment.)

Ahh!  Satisfaction.

Review: Rebecca

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read this book before – what self-respecting avid book-lover hasn’t – and loved it. This time around, I loved it even more. Knowing the story and no longer being caught up in the suspense and mystery, I was able to focus during this reading on du Maurier’s rambling prose, imaginative description, and amazing rendering of the quintessential unreliable narrator. Rereading Rebecca was a treat, like having a box of delicious assorted chocolates.

As a movie freak, I also love Alfred Hitchcock’s film adaptation (1940), starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. Though Fontaine, in my opinion, is too attractive and self-possessed to be the mousy and inexperienced second Mrs. de Winter, Olivier is absolutely perfect as Maxim.

I highly recommend both!

I’m all about heroes this month, what with The Avengers hitting theaters and all.  But that’s fantasy … in real life, heroes are people who struggle, battle uphill, overcome, have staying power, give others a hand to climb up in their path, and do their best to keep promises. Here’s to real heroes, and a big thank-you to my client, author David Seagraves, who came to me for interior layout and formatting of his book about just such a real hero.

David Seagraves has just published (via Prana Press) the book Uncommon Hero: The John Seagraves Story, an inspirational and historical account of his father’s life. If you enjoy history, WWII U.S. Navy stories, biographies of fascinating people, or motivating accounts of underdogs overcoming the odds, this is a book for you!  Here is the official book description:

“In Uncommon Hero: The John Seagraves Story, author David Seagraves chronicles the life of his father from John’s upbringing as a poor Southern youngster, through his exploits in the Navy during WWII, to a successful entrepreneur and present day world traveler still quite active in his mid-80s. Courage overcame his lack of education, social barriers, and lowly expectations opening doors to opportunities which helped shape and characterize him throughout his life. John served on Battleship USS North Carolina, the most successful and highly decorated battleship in U.S. Navy history. Over and above their individual duties, he and his gun crew volunteered to defend the ship with complete disregard for their own safety. On April 14, 1945, the 18-year-old sailor and his gun crew defended the ship from an attack which caught everyone else by surprise. Being the first gun group to spot and target a kamikaze plane headed directly toward them, John fired upon the deadly plane, downing the aircraft just 30 feet from the battleship. This isolated act saved untold lives and the ship’s legacy under the most severe circumstances. In a collision of American, African American and Navy history, John holds center stage having impacted the lives of many people before, during and after the war. The family man, with a tireless work ethic and drive to succeed, faced obstacles in the South and during WWII with enthusiasm, relocated and started a family in the North after the war, and found prosperity sharing his passion with the world. He continues to live a vibrant life as a restaurant owner with his wife Mildred. Uncommon Hero has been authored as a cathartic tribute, first, commemorating the man who came from nothing with an unknown past and whose powerful will created the life he wanted, second, offering insight into the core values that still inspire David. The book reveals traits, honed during wartime, which made his father a strong leader. While John’s story drives the book, the lessons underlying his actions provide a blueprint for a path to wealth for younger generations.”

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