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.
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.
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.