This is taken from the August 2022 Newsletter.

Book Recommendation

Believe it or not, coming up with just one book to recommend is the most difficult part of the newsletter for me to come up with.

I have a reading problem. I’m always reading a new book or listening to an audiobook, so to come up with one recommendation feels like a lot of pressure!

What if you don’t like the book? What if the book has a different political or religious or philosophical stance and I lose any respect you may have had for me?

It’s a lot to juggle. But, I gotta do what I gotta do.

So, I’m going to cheat a little. I’m going to give 2 recommendations AND I’m going to show you the book lists I’ve been keeping over the past 3 years, complete with a review system. This is where I’m pulling my recommendations. 

Recommendation #1 – Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

This is the same author who wrote The Martian, which was later turned into a movie starring Matt Damon who grew potatoes on Mars using, well… I don’t want to give away the story.

I am a space geek and Project Hail Mary is a fictional story that I found very entertaining every step of the way. There is space and science, and there may or may not be contact with other intelligent life. I really enjoyed this one.

Recommendation #2 – Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta

If you look at my book list, I have this ranked as a 3 out of 5 because the book could probably be cut in half in terms of content. The author repeats a lot.

Now, the topic isn’t the most comfortable, but it is something that is so very important to address. This book is about brain health and spends a lot of time on Alzheimer’s and dementia. Maybe that’s why he repeats himself so much.

My family has a history of Alzheimer’s and dementia so it is a concern that weighs heavy on my mind as I age and watch members of my family age. 

There were some important pieces and tips in here on what I can be doing at my age to help with brain health as well as what my parents can do to help with brain health.

Now, if you want even more book recommendations, you are in luck.

I have a list of the books I have read over the past 3 years. I rate a book from 1-5 after I read it based on how that book impacted me at that point in my life.

If you wrote any of these books or know the author of any of these, and it isn’t ranked high, it’s all a timing thing.

2020 Book List

2021 Book List

2022 Book List

Words of Wisdom

I want to thank all of you who reached out with your support after last month’s post about our dog Petie.

Your thoughts and words came at the perfect time, so thank you.

Hopefully, you were able to connect with someone meaningful in your life and share how much you appreciate having them in your life.

On to this month’s learnings.

My kids just started up school and, as many of you know, leading up to the school year it’s almost as though the kids can sense that they are running out of time to drive us parents crazy as effectively as they have been able to during the summer. They feel the need to cram as many messes, broken toys, destroyed glassware, and permanent marker wall drawings as they can to make up for the time that they’ll be in school.

Given this, my wife and I were in a vacuum chamber of our own kids and only seeing their behavior for the past 3 months. We got to thinking that our kiddos were little hellians and would cause chaos and destruction wherever they went. Luckily, they are 9, 7, and 4, so while they can cause trouble, it is USUALLY inexpensive trouble and generally just results in broken toys and some occasional screaming – the kids at each other, of course. Who am I kidding? My wife and I get a bit upset as well. 

However, we spent this weekend at Bear Lake with some family friends. We stayed in a 1 bedroom condo with our friends and their 3 kids. So, we had 6 kids (5 of 6 were girls) and 4 adults – sleeping on bunk beds, couches, and pull out beds. Yikes!

It was actually a wonderful time, and it was nice to get away and spend time with my wife and kids without a lot of distractions. We didn’t have a solid internet connection. We didn’t watch TV except for right before bedtime. We didn’t have great cell service, so all of this made it a bit easier to just be present and focus on our friends and family.

But we also got to see how other similar-aged parents deal with similar-aged kids. 

Now, I am not saying that my wife and I are better or worse parents, or that our kids are better or worse than these other kids, all I’m saying is that everyone is different, and we see the world differently, and we respond to different stresses in different ways, and that is okay.

Oh… and our kids are WAY better.

I’m joking, I’m joking.

This is actually the point of the attempt at words of wisdom.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

It’s an interesting idea, and one that I’m still trying to wrap my brain around in a realistic way. 

One of my personal foibles is that I find it impossible NOT to compare. Whether that’s comparing our family to another’s. My body to another’s. My house, my car, my income, my toys, my kids, my city, state, country… the list goes on and on. Humans compare things to make better sense of the world and to learn preferences. And we’re not the only creatures doing this, either. Animals compare mates, foods, shelters, colors, and much more. My golden retriever is picky about her dog food because she likes the taste of one over the other, but I can promise you that if the less-tasty food is all we have, she eats it. All while glaring at me with this accusatory look and I can’t help but think she is trying to let me know how poor of a provider I am. But I digress.

Comparison feels impossible to avoid and, quite frankly, is used for both good and bad.

I’ve mentioned before that I was involved in athletics growing up and my parents would let me know that, “there’s always someone out there working harder, doing more drills, who is bigger, faster, stronger, or all of the above than you.” Depending on the day, my teenage brain would feel discontent, jealous, and sad or motivated and determined.

Or, when I’d complain, I’d hear, “you can always find someone doing worse than you. Be grateful for [insert what I was complaining about].” Which, again, depending on the emotions of a teenaged brain, could lead to me feeling grateful, happy, and accomplished… or that my parents were nuts. 

How weird is that?!

So, maybe comparison isn’t all bad, but being unable to find contentment is what leads to frustrations?

After this weekend, I feel more love and admiration for my wife and kids. They handle situations so well and, for the most part, with a lot of poise and calm compared to others we saw. I wouldn’t trade my family for anything in the world.

I also sincerely believe that my friends feel the same way about their family.

And that’s great!

Behind the scenes, everybody is dealing with something that we would never wish to face. Everybody is armed with unique skills and gifts that allow them to cope with situations in a different way than our skills and gifts allow us. Humanity is so cool that way. We are all working our way through life, one minute after the next, trying to leave a mark on the people we care about in a meaningful way.

I don’t think it is realistic to tell you to never compare yourself or others to anyone else ever again. It’s just not going to happen. However, I do hope when we do find ourselves comparing, that we understand just because someone on a micro-level is doing better or worse than what we perceive ourselves, it does not mean that on a macro level their life is any better or worse. All we can control is ourselves (to a certain degree) and our circle of influence (to an even lesser degree).

So, if you made it this far, thank you for being the human soul that you are. Thank you for the good you bring to the world and for the wherewithal to understand that while you may have flaws and you may solve problems differently than your neighbor, we are all people doing our best to do what we feel is right.

I always enjoy hearing from you, and have a great month.

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