Monday, July 11, 2011

So I have been wanting to read this book for a long time...LONG TIME--

Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st CenturyYour Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

So I bought the audio version of it and listed to it on my way to a friend's house.  And by the time I got there, the book had absolutely shut me down in regards to money and completely made me self-conscious of every purchase I was making.

Now, I know that's the point, the point is based on the idea that Money = Freedom, which I completely agree.  But it says things like, "Once you've bought your sewing machine, that's the last sewing machine you have to buy in your lifetime and you can cross it off your list."

Statements like these make me panic-- dear gawd, if this is my last sewing machine in my life, I better make sure I buy the right one...which shuts me down and I do nothing.  "The right one" - it's a killer in money and art.

Nothing will ever be "the right one" including spouses, sewing machines and poems-- but things can be "good enough."

Your Money or Your Life has you actually figuring out what your ACTUAL hourly wage is, for example, if you make $25 an hour, but to commute to work you spend $5 on gas, $10 on a ferry ride, $500 a month on daycare, etc.... You don't make $25 an hr.

Once all the expenses needed are taken into account for you to be at work, then your dollar-per-hour may only be $15 an hour, or $8.  This formula helps make it easier to figure out if you *really* want to buy something-- now that $8 sandwich costs you an hour of your time, do you really want to get it now, or do you want to wait 30 minutes until you're home and eat the food you know you have in your refrigerator?

Don't get me wrong, this is an awesome book.  It completely can change the your views on money and how much you *really* need and to put your TIME as your top priority.  As a writer, I love this.  As a Capricorn, this book was almost a little too much. I had listened to her talk for my 3 hour drive and when I went into a consignment shop to buy a new summer coat I needed (well, she may argue "needed" but I had just given my old coat to Goodwill, so I believed I needed one!)  I found one for $20 and it was truly hard for me to buy it.  I felt as if I had already failed.

Time has passed since I read the book and money moves more freely from my pocket again (both good and bad), but sometimes I need to feel as if I've found a middle ground-- How to Be a Poet and Live with Freedom Without Being a Stingy Jerk, will be the book that I need to read--or write.

Still, if you really need an overhaul for your money situation, while I still put The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life (as it type this I see it's $3.98 right now at Amazon!) as my top choice for changing your life to YOUR priorities and helping you be less materialistic and swayed by consumerism, but this would be #2.  As hard as it was for me to feel normal after reading it, I learned a lot and I'm glad it freaked it me out a bit.  It's a good reminder of what my goals in life are.

Oh and I heard this from Chris Rock of all people, "Being wealthy is not about having a lot of money, it's about having a lot of options."  Oh, that is so true!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Reading for 2011

I am feeling thankful today for the writers and artists in the world.  And I'm also thankful for books.  

Here's a list of what I've read, what I'm currently reading and what I plan to read this summer--

TOP PICK for Parents--

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School  Alexandra Robbins  ---  I just started reading this, but am tearing my way through (I have the eBook edition).  

If you have kids, especially tweens-teenagers (5th-12th grade), I highly recommend this.  

It discusses that the qualities that can make a child "unpopular" in middle school and high school are the qualities that make them a successful and strong adult.  (BTW, unpopular kids in school included Bruce Springsteen, Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga, Steven Spielberg -- though all I kept thinking when I read this was how I wished I went to Bruce Springsteen's high school...)

It looks at the different "types" of kids (through real observation of actual kids) exploring The Gamer, The Popular Bitch, The Weird Girl, The Loner, The Geek, The New Kid, and some others.

Anyway, I have a feeling I'll be finished with this in a couple of nights and will do a full review of it.  So far, it's been hard to put down and is a great reminder how important it is to follow your own path & help your kids do the same (despite the high school/middle school push to conform to the beliefs/values/personalities of others).


Great Summer Read (hilarious)--

Bossypants by Tina Fey.  I read the eBook extended version, which had extra photos & even a short audio file (which was kind of cool), but I bet this would have been hilarious in (Audio) because she narrates it.

For the Visionary-Wanna Bes--

Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible by Daniel Burrus - A pretty interesting book on how companies and people make the right choices because they know the difference between a hard trend & a soft trend, as well as other "triggers" that can help you see where the future is going. 

The triggers he offers are smart (if you go to the Amazon page, the first review has a great summary of them).  However, much of the book looks at the internet and towards the end, his own business, which for me, wasn't as interesting as when we were exploring the ways to get FlashForesight.

Also, while I'm a writer, I have also always been stronger in math and business (no fooling), so I do want to say since I know many of you who read this are more artisty, writerly types, there is a lot of talk about business, companies like Crocs, Starbucks, etc, and really, not too much discussion on the arts.  

But I did find the idea of having Flash Foresight interesting in many aspects of our lives.


For those Looking for Calmness--

I'm listening to this book and it's a good listening voice because the author is English--the only weird thing about the audio edition is that every so often, it goes completely silent, there's this sort of stop/start element to it as if the recording studio didn't know how to manage pauses or editing.  It doesn't really change the content of the book, just something I noticed.

The book is lovely though.  I'm not sure someone who is well-versed in Buddhism would like it as much as it goes over the principles of Buddhism and the basics, but for me, it's an interesting account of how a London business man ended up adding Buddhism to his life.  

And as an extra benefit, I've started meditating again.  10 minutes a day.  Not much, but a start.  

For the Poetry Lovers--

Dean Young's Fall Higher  I haven't purchased this, but plan to very soon.  He just had a poem on Poetry Daily you can read here.

Jeannine Hall Gailey's She Returns to the Floating World will be out this month!  You can pre-order.  I have had the pleasure of reading this book pre-release since Jeannine is a good friend of mine, and it was pretty incredible mixing Japanese folklore and myths with modern life.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Melody won the Perugia Press Poetry Prize for her manuscript of poems,  Each Crumbling House.  Perugia Press is one of my favorite presses because they consistently publish books I love (such as Jennifer K. Sweeney's   How to Live on Bread and Music, a book I keep on my desk - my highest compliment), so it didn't surprise me that I also loved Melody's work as well.

Victoria Chang wrote in the blurb for Melody's book that "Melody Gee proves to us through her poetry that first-generation Asian American experiences still matter and will always matter.  But even more so, her quietly unsettling and powerful book speaks to the whole human experience through its exploration of inheritance.  These are haunting poems about culture, nature, and ultimately about love."

And I agree, these poems are about the human experience.  Melody's work is immediate and brings the reader directly into the poem, scene, or moment.  She writes to share an experience not block you from it.  She is accessible, smart and has some of the loveliest openings lines ever.

Here are a few of my favorites--

The field is not us.
We are clover and the field is
not clover.

from "The Field is Not Us"

No one starves here.  The women
do not chew the soles of their shoes
for juice and fibers.

It seems, MaMa, nothing
you told me is true.

from "What You Believed"


The story I tell is a fish
gaping its gills in my hands.
The only place I have
to set it down is prairie.

from "A Fish in Prairie"

The whole book is visually pleasing like that.  From "Rain, California" where "I am eating orange slices dripping/from the sangria pitcher" to "The wind drives a current in my red/wine ocean, and I am bringing/you back to me slowly..."

So many poets are writing from their back corner of their minds these days, full of abstract thoughts, intended confusion, blissful uncaring, but it was refreshing to see that these poems do not come from that place--they come from heart and history.  They come from story and shape where "trees burn with monarchs" and the details of "As a girl, you leashed crickets with ox hairs/and baited bees with sweet tomato flesh."

She is a poet who crafts her poems as doors into this world that moves from China to America through the house of history and self.  We are in the poems too, as witnesses and readers.  We experience "a flock of gulls erupt from the sand, pushed into flight" just as we experience "I have inherited a father/whole language I cannot fold my tongue to."

I lost myself in these poems and found myself in San Francisco 1929, in Li-Hing Lei village 1957, in a wedding in a garden.

I am thankful for this poet for writing a book of poems that so gracefully weaves through history into present time, that shares culture, family, and the art of story so well.  I may be late in saying how much I like this book, but it doesn't take away the gift of this talented poet, one who is definitely carving a path for herself and one who I expect more good things from in the future.

Melody's bio (stolen from her website):

Melody S. Gee's first poetry collection, Each Crumbling House, won the 2010 Perugia Press Book Prize.  (Available here.)  Originally from Cerritos, California, she attended the University of California, Berkeley and the University of New Mexico, and has taught at Purdue University, Ivy Tech College, Saint Louis University, and the University of Missouri - St. Louis.  

Her poems and essays are published or forthcoming in Blackbird, Copper Nickel, Southern California Review, Dogwood, Packingtown Review, Alligator Juniper, The Greensboro Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Washington Square Review, and Crab Orchard Review, among others.

A Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the Robert Watson Literary Prize for poetry, and a 2008 Kundiman Asian American Poetry Retreat fellow, she currently teaches writing at Southwestern Illinois College and lives with her husband, Paul, in St. Louis.

You can visit her website here.


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