6 things I learned in March

6 things I learned in March

Taking Emily Freeman’s lead to share a handful of things I learned this month, from the (occasionally) significant to the (mostly) shallow.

1. Sleep and exercise don’t take time. They make time.

Isn’t that a delightful little nugget? It’s not mine, it’s straight from Laura Vanderkam, who came to Louisville earlier this month to talk about time management. (Also learned this month: she is a delight in person.)

Laura presented seven strategies for making more of your time to a room full of women, and even though I’ve read all her work I still took four pages of notes. While I use (and aim to better use) all the strategies, her reminder to “take care of yourself” resonated most with me right now, because I’ve been focusing on—you guessed it—going to bed earlier and getting more exercise, and Laura’s little quote perfectly captures my recent experience: when I sleep and exercise, I notice the difference in my energy and focus all day long.

More ways to take care of yourself, per Laura: don’t take “fake breaks,” take real breaks when your energy lags. And plan things that rejuvenate you during your weekends.

(Psst—Laura wrote more about her time in Louisville, and why time management actually matters on a deep level, here. And I wrote about an insight I gleaned from her new book here.)

2. Middle schoolers totally get Shakespeare.

I recently had the opportunity to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream with some of my favorite middle schoolers. The play got off to a slow start, with sooo much Elizabethan verse. I was rusty on the plot, but knew I had the advantage of having actually read it and seen it before, which these kids didn’t have. I was thinking, Is this really a good idea? Are 12-year-old going to enjoy—or even GET—this?

The kids in the audience seemed to be paying attention … and then we got to Helena and Hermia’s fight scene. The two performers hurl insults at each other, and after a particularly zingy line, a seventh grade girl in the audience yelled, Ohhh, BURN!!! That’s when I knew for sure I was wrong, and happily so. (Afterwards my daughter called the play the funniest thing she’d ever seen. Who knew?)

(I found this same short scene on YouTube, from the star-studded 1999 movie version. The theater version made me want to see this again—only I don’t remember it being very good. Perhaps my 1999 self wasn’t as engaged in the production as these middle schoolers were?)

3. Dolly Parton is one busy woman.

My dad is a big bluegrass fan, so of course I know Dolly’s music. But I had no idea how prolific she was—or in how many ways—until I went off on a bookish rabbit trail this month.

It started in late February, when I chatted with By the Book ladies Kristen and Jolenta on What Should I Read Next. Their show is smart and funny and all about self-help books, and it ended with Jolenta recommending Dolly’s short book Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You. I listened to the audio, which was fantastic. (I think I had a big silly grin on my face the entire time I listened.)

In the audio, Dolly talks about everything she’s involved in—and I had no idea the list was so long! I’ve been to the Dixie Stampede, but didn’t know it was Dolly’s. Her Imagination Library just gave away its hundred millionth book. (WOW.) I somehow didn’t put together that Dolly is obviously involved in Dollywood. And she sings!

In her book, she says the reason she can do all this is she doesn’t need much sleep. Seems ironic, given my first entry on this list, right?

4. What it feels like to wear a thousand dollar dress.

If only for ten minutes, in the dressing room. Here’s what happened. My friend and I went to a sale where a bunch of local boutiques team up to sell off their fall and winter goods at serious discounts, all in one place. I grabbed a beautiful black lacy dress off one boutique’s 60% off rack, not knowing much about the boutique.

When I zipped up the dress in the dressing room, I could tell it was a seriously nice dress. The fabrics were lovely, the seams were perfect, the tailoring was extensive and precise. I thought it looked pretty darn good on, but perhaps a bit snug. Maybe it could be tailored? Maybe the boutique had the next size up?

This is the point where I looked at the tag for the first time: it was a Marchesa, and it retailed for $995.

Two things: I’d heard of Marchesa before, and knew they were nice, but WOW. If anyone ever wanted to hand me down one of these beauties, I could definitely put it to good use. But this $400 dress did not come home with me, even if it was 60% off.

The dress I didn’t buy looked a lot like this one, but black with a black lace overlay. And doesn’t this Marchesa totally look like something Olivia Pope would wear?

5. There’s a new bookstore in my town!

If you’re a book lover anywhere, you know what this kind of good news feels like. If you’re in Louisville: it’s Nanny Goat Books, in Nulu a block from Garage Bar, and it’s tiny and adorable.

6. I’ll be narrating again …

Because the audio rights for my next book have been sold. YAY! I’ll be able to talk about it more soon (update: more news tomorrow!), but for now, I’m happy for the good news.

What did YOU learn in March? Tell us all about it in comments. 

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15 comments | Comment


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  1. Norma says:

    I am 64 years old so when I read your blogs I learn to take time for myself by enjoying time by myself. My table tops are getting full of books again since I started reading your blog I am making time for it. Thank you. I really enjoy what you write about.

  2. Anne McD says:

    #1 is so true! I have to agree about taking real rest. For instance, when I’m tired, and I think lying down and watching an episode of Fixer Upper will rejuvenate me, I have to be honest with myself and then off the TV and close my eyes.

  3. Susan Rose says:

    I want to comment on two things—-first, about Shakespeare, and young ones—when Much Ado About Nothing with Emma Thompson, and Kenneth Branagh came out in 1993, my mother took BATCHES of teenagers to see it, and without exception, they all LOVED it! After they got tuned in to the Elizabethan language. They were bowled over. My mother ended up seeing it 7 times. It was funny, later whenever my mother would ask, say, a video store, if they carried “Much Ado About Nothing”, the clerk would inevitably say, “Much To Do about WHAT?”
    Secondly, what did I learn in March? Well, I learned that the invasive Asian ladybug species that invades my home every fall, is probably causing my extreme eye allergies! Every year, in about Nov and March, I am beset by itchy, red, weepy eyes, and then it goes away. It’s not the pollen season (I live in Maine, and we aren’t even THINKING about having pollen yet), nor do I have pet allergies. I suddenly realized that it was at the same time as the ladybugs became active in my house again. I’ve found several articles to support my theory—and some people say it causes sinus congestion. Anybody else with eye allergies and ladybugs in your house?

  4. Chenay says:

    A couple years ago I saw A Midsummer’s Night Dream in Tahoe, but they put a 60’s British vibe on it and it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen! If anyone is in the Tahoe area in the summer, Shakespeare on the Lake is incredible!

  5. Melinda Malaspino says:

    It’s no secret that I am absolutely a Shakespeare fanatic. I can’t get enough, whether on stage, on film, or in text. I even love novel adaptations such as Margaret Atwood’s very clever twist on The Tempest, titled Hag-seed.
    I have been teaching Shakespeare for many years and am a firm believer that Shakespeare is for everyone, young and old. It’s all in the approach.

  6. kirsten donohue says:

    I just want to say I am LOVING your 3/8 blog post on your favorite audio books. I’ve already read 3 of them & I love your recommendations. Keep them coming!!!!

  7. Nichole says:

    When I was in elementary school our gifted program put on a Shakespeare play every year: Hamlet in 3rd grade, A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 4th grade and Macbeth in 5th grade. I know they made some adaptations to make some of the content *slightly* more appropriate for us, but I distinctly remember being a 3rd grader and being slightly shocked hearing one of my 5th grade friends as Lady Macbeth yelling “Out damned spot!” I think introducing it to us at such a young age always made Shakespeare seem accessible.

  8. Lisamarie says:

    I learned that your new book is open for pre-order and I pre-ordered it! Thanks for all the amazing content. I think your next class should be on how you manage to do allll the things. 😉 And building the team that helps you do just that. As a fellow business owner and “internet professional” or whatever this way of life is called these days, I’d love to learn from you!

  9. JaneInAZ says:

    In 8th grade we read A Midsummer Night’s Dream, then we got to see it at Cleveland Playhouse. I still (50 years later) talk about how much I enjoyed the experience. It has such entertaining characters and it was my first stage play.

  10. Deborah says:

    I’m so excited for you Anne, about another book! Can’t wait for it!

    Oh my goodness! The price tag on the Marchesa dress you linked to…….I can’t even imagine……I buy vehicles for less than that and the thought made me laugh out loud! 🙂 Everyone has their likes and values and what they spend or don’t spend money on! 🙂

    Let’s see…..in March, I’ve been learning {trying} new photography skills, tips and tricks along with editing in Lightroom.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Coming under the category of self-care, I was reminded that even 15 or 20 minutes of exercise makes my whole day go better. Just accomplishing a workout makes me feel 10X more productive. Exercise has so many benefits that if it *is* all you get done during the day, well, that’s a pretty big deal by itself.

  12. Brittany says:

    I truly enjoy your blog – I love that you always include a backlist in your book posts, and I appreciate your thoughtful posts as well. I wouldn’t have thought 12-year-olds could keep up with Shakespeare, but that’s wonderful that they did!

    I was a little disappointed to see an affiliate link to a $6k dress in this post. That seems off-color.

  13. Carrie says:

    In March I learned that if I hold a rescue puppy, I will adopt it! So, more exercise, less sleep. I also found I’m reading less- oh, no! I’ve also discovered the joy of seeing bulbs spring up that I had not planted.
    I love this blog! Thanks!

  14. Mary in TN says:

    I learned that you can write on IPad and IPhone photos using the edit function (3 lines in the corner) and then choosing the circle with the 3 dots, then Markup.

    Marchesa was co-founded by Georgina Chapman. She is *beautiful*. I envied her until I was horrified to discover her husband is Harvey Weinstein. She separated from him after all of the allegations came out. Supposedly it was well known in Hollywood that he was like that. So I really don’t understand Georgina Chapman now. And I am reminded that you shouldn’t envy anyone’s life because you really don’t know what’s going on …

  15. Elizabeth S says:

    If you ever want a designer dress for an event, but just for the night, I highly recommend Rent the Runway! You pick out a dress in your size (and a free back up size!), and they mail you the dress shortly before the event (you choose). Afterwards, put it back in the shipping bag and drop it at UPS — they take care of the cleaning! They carry Marchesa, Kate Spade, and lots more designers, and the rental fee is way less than retail cost. In fact, they have many dresses to rent for under $50. I haven’t bought a formal dress in 6 year!

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