Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden

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book of february: essentialism: the diciplined pursuit of less

I really liked this book. Really a lot.

I’m not sure if it’s because we’re moving soon, or that we’ve just had a baby, but I feel the need to have less things. Not only have less things but do less things. Do less things more effectively. Which is what this book is about.

Now I definitely think you should go read this for yourself, but my big take home was that whenever a choice presents itself to you, in life, love, business, whatever, ask yourself if/how this will help you make your biggest contribution to the world. This is some difficult stuff, it requires one to be a grounded and informed individual. But, something I think is important to remember is that nothing is written in stone, and you should never not do something because of the time it takes. The time will pass anyway. If an opportunity you deem to be important enough to pursue presents itself, then it’s an easy: Yes.

After finishing the book I find myself often asking myself two questions (in my quest to have less possessions and to use my time more effectively):

  1. If I didn’t already own this, how much would I pay for it?
  2. Do I want this enough to struggle for it?

I feel the second question needs some explaining. By combining what I read in this book, and the contents of this article, I ask myself this question for two reasons. If I think I want something I need to first examine the hinders/obstacles ahead of me that may prevent me from getting there. After I have determined the obstacles I need to then determine if I am willing to overcome them. The answers to these questions help me decide if whatever I’m pondering about is truly worth pursuing.

As I said, wonderful book. Go read it!

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book of july: yes please

You guys know Amy Poehler right?

Yes Please

I’m sure I don’t need to be introducing her here, so if you’re not familiar give a little Google and I’m sure your memory will be refreshed. Amy Poehler is hilarious, and this obviously shines through in her writing.

I got the audiobook of Poehler’s book. It really is fun to listen to comedians read their own work. You really get that little extra from listening to the audiobook. Plus there are fun guests. However, while listening to the book I happened upon a hard copy at the airport book store. Man did that book look fun! In terms of books by funny people I really prefer listening to the audio version, for reasons previously mentioned. Though  now, for the first time, I was a little sad that I hadn’t gotten the hard copy. I did leaf through almost the whole book while waiting for my flight though, much to the chagrin of the book store employee, so I feel that I almost got the full experience.

What I’m trying to say is when you read this book (and it really should be when – Poehler is hilarious) you can go either route, audiobook or real book – I’d even go so far as to say to go both! Plus, in the audio version the final chapter is read live at the UCB studios in LA, and is just so awesome it hurts.

And now follow my thoughts on Yes Please:

Without giving too much away I’d like to talk about how Amy believes in time travel. She’s got me totally convinced. Poehler also makes a tree ring metaphor that is out of this world, and she writes the book honestly. Honest is funny, so – why not? I love the parts about her phone dependence, because, well ME TOO! And there are some great quotables, like “Getting older is awesome” and “I’m always just where I need to be.”

I do have a question though, Poehler says to “Be here now, as the book says” – but…what book? Amy, whatchu talkin’ ’bout? I like the sentiment though. Maybe the yoga book. I got lost in Google land when I was looking for it, so help a sister out if you know what she means.

My last thought is that when Amy writes about middle age she jokes about looking forward to eating dinner before 6:30pm, or when you call the cops on your next door neighbors when they’re having a party. This apparenly means I’m already there, seeing as I regularly want to eat dinner at 5 and hate my upstairs neighbor for the loud obnoxious music he plays.

Except when it’s ABBA, ‘cuz who doesn’t like some ABBA at full volume at 10am on a Sunday.


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the sweatiest bus trip of my life

Spain part 2 of 3
(part 1 found here)

While in Spain I experienced the sweatiest bus trip of my life.

I’m almost hoping that when you picture a sweaty bus trip you picture an old, half run down, bus with all the windows down and its occupants just sweltering. Fanning themselves with exhausted arms in a half stupor from the heat. Admittedly, it is warm in Spain. However, what I hope you’re imagining is no where close to what my reality was.

They have very effective air conditioning systems in their busses in Spain. On my bus trip the temperature was actually verging on chilly in there. I became extremely sweaty on this bus trip for none of the reasons you’d expect.

The trip by bus from Madrid to Don Benito takes four hours. By law bus drivers in Spain must take a break after two hours of driving. That means half way between the two cities we stopped at a rest stop. Up until that point my bus trip was very low-key. The woman to my left spent the time sleeping, and I spent the time taking wonderful scenic pictures of the Spanish countryside while listening to tunes on my iPhone.

See how wonderful!

Spanish Landscape

Take a good look at these pictures. Doesn’t it look, just a little bit, like we were driving in circles? In retrospect I seriously wonder if we did that a little bit. Probably not. Who knows. Anyway…

Moving on!

At the half way mark everyone got off the bus, as required, and the bus driver locked the bus. We all hung around a rest stop, some people buying snacks, most everyone using the facilities. Had I known what I was about to embark on during the second half of my journey I would not have nonchalantly basked in the Spanish sun. I would have been studying. Studying the Spanish language.

Little did I know my travel companion in the seat next to me was quite the chatter. I did not know this, because, as mentioned, she slept for the first two hours. For the second two hours it was time to chat. Can you guess where this is going?

If I thought that I got nervous while speaking Swedish to Swedes it was nothing compared to how nervous I became while trying to differentiate in my brain between Spanish and Swedish. In general English isn’t very widely spoken in Spain, so if you think a broken blend of Spanish, Swedish and English is at all understandable to anybody, you would be wrong. (This is not only applicable in Spain, but rather exactly everywhere on Earth.)

Despite our hindrances, that is to say, despite my hindrances, and sweatiness, I ended up having a lovely conversation with María-José. She explained about the different areas of Spain. Where she had travelled and lived. The stark differences between the Spanish countryside and Madrid (which I had actually picked up on – believe it or not). Told me about how her daughter had travelled to the US and was now working there. My big input in the conversation was commenting on horses. I’m sure she was simply blown away by my intellectual contribution. I did successfully explain that I was from the US, now lived in Sweden, and was visiting a friend who lived in Don Benito. (She was wondering why on earth I would travel to Don Benito.)

Map of Spain

A clear written explination of our discussion on Spain

I don’t think my sweatiness bothered her. I say that because once we arrived in Don Benito she stuck around with me until Katie arrived at the bus station. Safely leaving me off with someone who knew the area. María-José, thank you, I will always remember our bus trip together.