Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter by Erin Rooney Doland — A Brief Review

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Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter: Simplify Your Life One Minute at a Time by Erin Rooney Doland

This is a practical, actionable, and approachable book that is designed for people who have “lives”. So many other books in the space are written by 20 somethings with no kids and nothing but free time on their hands (I’m looking at you Ms. Kondo). But, for those of us with jobs and kids and schedules packed end-to-end, spending 15 minutes folding a t-shirt to sit on end is just not going to happen.

This book is different. The author understands a normal life because she herself has one that she juggles too. This book is written from that perspective and understanding. It’s the sort of thing that you can pick up, turn to just about any page, and find at least one easy organizing task to make your space a bit better using the time and energy you have at the moment. No matter if that is two hours or thirty seconds, there are dozens of tips and ideas to fit either. The idea that making just a little bit of progress is far more valuable and rewarding than making none at all. Also, it is a start — thirty seconds here and 15 minutes there can clean up and organize a whole room.

Seriously, get this book. If you even manage to do five small tasks it suggests it will be money well spent.

Let Her Teach You

My daughter, Beatrix, takes violin lessons. She uses a quarter sized violin that has been passed around various members of my wife’s family for years until they grew to a larger size. We knew, because of its age and use, that it would need a little bit of maintenance after it was passed to her. New strings were needed and handled by her teacher. But, the bow needed to be re-haired and that is best done by a professional. So, I took it to a local Luthier who came recommended highly by her teacher.

Walking into his shop was immediately stirring. Violins, violas, and the random cello were everywhere. The smell of old wood and off-gassing lacquer filled my nose. all of this coupled with a gentle greeting by the Luthier gave one the immediate sense that this was a kind of chapel. A sacred temple for the practice, care, and continuation of an ancient art.

I gave him the violin, showed him the bow, and explained what I needed. I commented on some of the other items I noticed may be needed, beyond just the bow, to get his expert opinion. Perhaps it was the way I asked my questions or understood his answers but something caused him to ask, “Do you play?”

I explained to him that I grew up in a very musical family. My Grandmother was a concert classical pianist. My mother also plays at that level. And, my siblings all play at a concert performance level as well. Growing up, learning an instrument was considered as much of a part of my education as school itself. It was required.

I further explained there is a wild “writer” gene in my family that, like a random quark, strikes certain members with that ability and seems to knock out whatever talent or desire to excel at an instrument may exist in them. I told him that I did take both violin and cello lessons as a kid but, have not played in years. I told him that, lately, I have felt a pull to pick up instruments I abandoned as a child and play them again. My daughter takes piano, voice, and music theory as well and seems to pick things up quickly. I told him getting her to practice violin was sometimes a struggle though, despite the fact she’s pretty good and a fast learner.

He said, gently, “You should play. Not just for yourself, but for her. But, more than that, you should let her teach you. If you let her teach you what she is learning, because of your age and past experience, you’ll catch on quickly and it’ll make her feel like a good teacher. It will empower her and make her feel in control. This will make her a more confident player. Then, practice will no longer be drudgery but something fun you do together.”

I was struck dead in my tracks by this idea. It seemed at once mysterious and obvious. Like he was telling me a secret I already knew but hadn’t yet believed.

At Beatrix’s next lesson, I told her teacher about this conversation and she thought it was a fantastic idea. “I have a whole closet full of full size violins. You’re welcome to borrow one.” Done.

So, I have now taken several “lessons” from Beatrix, and the results of both her interest, learning, and time spent practicing teaching are like the difference between night and day. No fighting, struggle, or argument over practicing. None of her getting frustrated or bored after five minutes. None of my feeling like getting her to practice is like getting her to swallow cod liver oil. We simply have fun playing her lessons together and, on average, do so for a half hour or more. It’s great and some of the best time I’ve spent in the last few weeks.

I suspect as well that this would work just as well with sports, or dance, or anything that requires similar practice. So, if you have a similar struggle around practice time at your house, perhaps try letting your kids teach you.

Toms Men’s Avalon Sneaker — A Brief Review

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Toms Men’s Avalon Sneaker

I needed a nice slip on shoe to replace some slip-on Keen shoes I liked so much I literally wore them until they fell apart. I need slip ons for quick jaunts out of and around the house and, especially, for travel. I wanted something lightweight, comfortable, and easy to get on and off. They also needed to be good looking in a variety of situations — t-shirt and jeans but also maybe with a collared shirt and sport jacket. Ultimately, I was looking for a shoe that would satisfy my constant desire to pack light and go fast.

I seem to have found what I was looking for in Toms Men’s Avalon Sneaker. I’m really digging these. They fit the bill quite well. The fit is good and they look good without being too stuffy. I have a trip to New York City coming up and I can wait to take these on 20 block walks and see how the hold up. If first impressions are an indication I believe they’ll do great. I highly recommended them if you are in the market for something similar.

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