Just One Thing Update

I started my “Just One Thing” program this week in which I vow to do just one thing a day toward getting rid of stuff I don’t need for basically as long as it takes to pare my house down to either the bare necessities or what strikes me as livable chaos.  I’ve decided I’m going to blog regular updates on my activities so as to make myself a little more accountable.  It seems to me that I’m much more likely to shame myself into seeing it through if I tell everyone I know I’m doing it.

So here goes…

Yesterday, I did, as promised, take a load of clothes to the thrift store.  My intention for today was to take some cardboard boxes to recycling.  That didn’t happen because a guy who had done some work on my house said he wanted to come by to finish the job.  I needed to be home for that.  I waited around for him, and by the time he left it probably wasn’t yet 2:00.  Of course I could have still made the run to recycle.  I had just forgotten all about it by then.  I’m easily distracted.

When I realized later this evening that I never had done my one thing for the day, I made myself clean out a junk drawer.  I almost saved myself some effort and dumped everything out of the drawer wholesale, but I went through it piece by piece.  It’s a good thing too.  The title to my car and the deed to my house were in it.  Maybe I need a new filing system.  Maybe I need a system period.

I’d like to say I’ll do the recycling tomorrow, but I won’t.  Tomorrow is my first day back at work.  If I have any energy left at all by the time I get home, maybe I’ll use it to throw some old magazines away.  If not, maybe I could at least empty the trash on my computer.  Does that count?

Funtography Extra: Self-Portrait at the Kitchen Table #photography

Self-Portrait at the Kitchen Table

This was shot in response to a photo prompt from the Flickr group Our Daily Challenge. The prompt today is “a writing or drawing instrument.”

I shot this in monochrome. There was no post-camera processing.

I learned one thing from attempting to take a picture of my own hand. If I want to use the camera on myself, I need to shut the cats in another room first. More than half the pictures I took were of paws or whiskers instead of pens. This was evidently a very curious activity I engaged in.

Morning Dove #photoaday #project365

Day 4:  Morning Dove

4 of 365. This is truly a happensnap. The bird was only in place for a few seconds. I barely had time to grab my camera and snap before it disappeared. The early morning light was gorgeous. There were clouds to the west and clear skies to the east. The natural light coming in against the backdrop of clouds made for a perfect photo op. If I could order those conditions every day, I’d take my coffee and my camera to the pecan tree before breakfast as a matter of routine.

2011 Book Challenge

I love book challenges. I always rocked the summer book challenges at the public library. I had the distinct advantage of living only one block away. I was able to exchange my books often, so I was bound to complete the challenges ahead of schedule. If you want to rule the summer reading lists at the public library when you are 7, it also doesn’t hurt to be the child of two English teachers.

Now that I am somewhat older than 7, I see people my age setting up book challenges for themselves all over the Internet. Peppermint Patti is doing it, and I can’t resist. I must get in on this.

I considered making lists. I considered giving myself assignments of X number of classics, X number of prize winners, and so on, but I’ve decided to keep it simple and give myself a chance to change my mind along the way. I’m going to just go for 52 books in 52 weeks.

In truth, I read more books than that in the normal course of any given year, but I’m talking about books I’d admit to reading, and books I’m interested in blogging about.

I’m counting hard copies, ebooks, and audiobooks. I have only a few rules for myself. No technical manuals. No books I’m currently teaching and/or have taught in the past. I can include books I’ve read before as long as it’s been at least five years since I’ve read them, and as long as I actually do read them again, of course.

That said, I do want to read X number of classics and X number of prize winners. I also have a particular interest this year in reading books about the Holocaust, books about the Civil Rights Movement, and books about the environment. I want to read photography books too, but I’m not sure how many of those will fit into my challenge. If they are mostly photographic, I won’t count them, and if they are mostly technical “how-to,” I won’t count them. Probably, a fairly decent number will be more narrative in nature, though, in which case they are fair game.

I’ll be adding my books to Goodreads as I complete them. I’ll also keep a list on my Book Challenge page here on the blog. I’ve made a page because it will be easier to find it again to track my progress.

To start my challenge, I’m reading Sarah’s Key (one I’ve already started and will probably finish today) and Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities (books I haven’t read since high school as well as recent Oprah picks).

Books I want to read soon: The Book Thief, Watership Down, The Blue Sweater, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Catch-22, Suite Francaise, Even Silence Has an End, Madame Bovary, David Copperfield (a mixture of books I haven’t read since high school and books I’ve been meaning to read this past year).

The book I’m most likely to break my own rule for is Gulliver’s Travels. I have actually taught this in the past, but that was more than ten years ago, and I would like to read the whole thing again before seeing the new movie based on Gulliver.

And, since everyone in the world keeps asking me how many of the BBC top 100 books I’ve read, I may try to casually make my way through as many of the books on that list as possible this year. I have not read Artemis Fowl, for example, and I’ve been meaning to read Pillars of the Earth for some time now.

As for prize winners, next up on my list is Wolf Hall, winner of the Man Booker Prize. I’ve read the first couple of chapters. It looks like it is going to be stunning.

I’ve really loaded myself down with personal challenges. I’m doing a photo a day. I’m also trying to do the “one thing a day” decluttering challenge. Maybe a book challenge too is over-the-top for a person claiming to be simplifying life and cutting back on responsibilities. But here’s the secret to that. I’m going to read the books anyway. This one is not a matter of discipline or time commitment. It’s just tracking something I’ve been doing for years.

I also have another secret. I’m not going to worry about it if I get behind. I might have plenty of weeks when I don’t complete one of my challenge books. That’s okay. Those will be my busy weeks, and into everyone’s life some busy weeks must fall. I won’t worry because I know I’ll make up for it all in the summer. I take a little longer to finish books during the school year, but I can easily knock out four or more in one week in the summer.

I am committing to a book a week for a year, but if I happen to read three-quarters of those books in June and July, that’s not cheating at all. That’s the way I’ve been completing book challenges my whole life.

I’m off now to finish book 1 of 52. Happy reading, ya’ll.