Book Notes: The Intellectual Life, Chapter 4

I’m spending about six weeks on each chapter of this book.  There is so much to think about! I reread this one many times, including once last week at the beach, on vacation.  I wondered what to focus on in this post. I certainly cannot quote everything I’ve underlined.

First of all, can this be true?  I’ve never tried this.  Here is what is written about the prayer called Prime (and also Compline):

“… there are no prayers more beautiful, more efficacious, more inspiring. The majority of liturgical prayers are masterpieces; but these are full and sweet like the rising and setting of a star. Try: you will never be able to say any other prayers. All true life is in them, all nature, and to prepare your work with them is like going out on a journey through a wide-open door flooded with sunshine.” (89)

You will never be able to say any other prayers?  Baby say whaaat?!  I’ve got to try these!

Chapter 4 is called “The Time of Work” and it includes detailed sections for the continuity of work, the work of night, mornings and evenings, and the moments of plenitude. Each section is full of beautiful ideas and practical advice. (The morning one inspired me to write a morning prayer!)  But the evening is the section that had me questioning my current practices, and thinking that some changes may be helpful.

“Evening! how little, usually, people know about making it holy and quiet, about using it to prepare for really restorative sleep!” (91)

I’ll admit it. My evenings are far from holy and quiet.  Just while writing this, I stopped to help someone with her homework, to tell people (again) to turn out the light and go to sleep, and to teach someone how to put away the iron and the ironing board.  Many of my evenings are spent on the couch, next to my husband, watching a movie and eating unhealthy snacks. Then, tiredly crawling into bed after quick prayers, and staying up too late scrolling on our phones.  And before Covid 19, I was often out of the house in the evening.

“When the evening comes, they lay down the reins and throw off thought, giving their minds up to the dissipation which is supposed to refresh them, dining, smoking, playing cards, talking noisily, frequenting the theatres, or the music halls, gaping at the cinema, and going to bed with minds ‘relaxed.’

Yes, indeed, relaxed; but like a violin with all its strings completely slackened. What a labor next day to tune them all up again!” (91)

Do you know what dissipation means? It’s defined as the squandering of money, energy or resources. I found the slackened violin strings to be a good description of how I feel many mornings when I roll out of bed and shuffle to the bathroom.  The author describes a different scenario for the intellectual, which may not be entirely possible for a wife and mother, but maybe sometimes.

“… evening should be a time of stillness, his supper a light refection, his play the simple task of setting the day’s work in order and preparing the morrow’s.” (92)

I can imagine how using the evening to prepare for the next day would make life simpler. I have often said when I enter my kitchen in the morning, “It looks like we had a party last night.” But besides having a tidier home, it would be lovely to begin the next day physically and spiritually refreshed.

“In spite of the passionate and self-interested illusion of those who maintain that a part of man must be set aside for the life of pleasure, dissipation is not rest, it is exhaustion.  Rest cannot be found in scattering one’s energies.  Rest means giving up all effort and withdrawing towards the fount of life;  it means restoring our strength, not expending it foolishly.”  (92) 

He admits that there is a time for recreation, but that it’s not the normal function of the evening.  The evening is for resting in God, through prayer, and for resting our bodies, which leads up to a more complete rest that we’ll get at night.  It’s when we should follow routines and do things out of habit.

“…it is a restoration of organic life and of holy life in us by easing off happily, by prayer, silence, and sleep.” (93)

Goodnight!

I’m not really going to end there. I want to leave myself some tips from Section IV, for the times when I am actually going to work on some heavy duty studying.

  1. Be prepared.  Know what you want to do and how you want to do it.  Gather your materials. (notes, books, supplies)  Avoid having to interrupt your work to find things. (95)
  2. Set the time aside.  Start promptly.  Eat lightly beforehand. Avoid pointless conversation or calls.  Limit texting to what is strictly necessary.  Stay off social media and news sites!  (95)
  3. Avoid half-work more than anything.  Do not imitate those people who sit long at their desks but let their minds wander.  It is better to shorten the time and use it intensely, to increase its value which is all that counts…  Do ardently whatever you decide to do; do it with all your might…  Half-work, which is half-rest, is good neither for rest nor for work. (96)
  4. Invite inspiration.  Renew the “spirit of prayer.”  (96)
  5. Keep a Cerebus at your door.  That one is just to make you smile.

Room Tours: The Schoolroom

I deep clean our schoolroom annually in August. It feels good to start a new school year in a clean room. Every year, I rearrange the furniture to suit our current needs. This year is quite different than the rest. I have two children homeschooling, one who goes to a local Catholic high school, one who is attending college remotely, one who is working and living at home; and my oldest son lives in his own apartment. The room has now become a schoolroom-bedroom-gameroom-library-family room. Let me show you around.

When you first come in, the left side (shown above) is the area where we work at tables. Here we do schoolwork, arts and crafts, play board games, cards, and ping pong, draw, and paint nails.

On the right side, you can see the area where we watch movies, TV shows, or a Latin lesson. We play games, read books, go to Zoom meetings, listen to music, hang out and talk, and sometimes nap.

Behind the three book shelves, or “the library”, is Rachel’s bedroom. Rachel is fourteen now. In my Girls Room Tour, I showed the room she shared with her two younger sisters. This summer, she moved into the schoolroom temporarily, to give them all more space. It seemed to work out well for everyone, so she’s hasn’t moved back. This is her space.

Because she goes out to school early every morning, we are not bothering her when we are in here during the day, and I guess you can say that she is also not bothering us. Rachel keeps her room neat. We have been putting all of our school stuff back into the closet around three o’clock each day to keep the room tidy and available for other activities.

The cabinets and drawers (shown above) store our arts, crafts and office supplies. I posted interior pictures in 2018, when I decluttered the schoolroom. This area hasn’t changed much. I did get rid of our old computer cabinet and the two cherry cabinets, so most supplies are now stored in the schoolroom closet. The toys were moved to the closet in the girls’ room, and I also moved our games from downstairs into the schoolroom closet. The top two closet shelves still hold the the sentimental items I want to deal with before I’ll call myself a minimalist. This will require finishing up scrapbooks and much scanning.

Some of our games I put on the shelves of a new TV stand we purchased this year. When my mother was moving into her condo, she gave us a large TV she no longer wanted. Here’s the set-up.

This room is above the garage, so it can be chilly during the cold weather months. I think the fireplace insert might warm up the room. If not, it’ll make it look cozy.

I’m feeling grateful to have so much space, comfort and beauty to enjoy during this time of quarantines and social distancing. And we have no shortage of things with which to occupy our bodies and souls.


Thanks for joining me on this tour of our schoolroom. If you like room tours, check out my Room Tours category.

Experiment #2: Mrs. Sharp Revisited

5126F132-8F6C-4D6C-A09C-B178BE8B9778I recently brought an old favorite to bed with me, Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions.  I remembered how, as a newish homeschooling mother, I would read and reread the chapter called “The Art of Domestic Bliss”;  and as I did, inspiration and hope would well up inside of me and feel as if it would overflow.

Being a stay-at-home mom with young children was a challenging blessing. I would wake up hopeful most mornings, but the days were often long and loud and busy. Nursing, changing diapers, chasing toddlers, answering questions, solving problems, listening to screaming and crying, cleaning up messes, trying to teach someone to read, get someone to do their math, or their chores, trying to get everyone fed, and bathed and to sleep…

So I loved the fictional Mrs. Sharp. If the house was a wreck, (I used to say it looked like a stuff bomb went off) and the kids were wild and crazy, and I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, I’d slip my exhausted body into a hot bath with this book.  Soon, Mrs. Sharp’s charming manners and good old-fashioned suggestions would have me convinced that I could, with a little bit of rhythm, do this mothering thing, and restore peace to my home and my soul.

Many years have passed since then.  My youngest child is now older than my oldest child was back then. I think I gave up on the idea of domestic bliss. Mealtimes have become fend for yourself, or everyone bring your plates to the living room and eat while watching our current streamed series.  Baths are a battle I don’t always pick, and keeping the house tidy is hit or miss.  I think as the children got older, and busier outside of the home, and I was spread thin, and my husband was often traveling, I just didn’t have the time or energy to enforce simple routines.

But what about now? We are all home and spending lots of time together. Summer will be ending soon, and we’ll need more structure. I say it’s time to revisit the ideas of my Victorian superhero.

“The most important aspect in the pursuit of domestic bliss is attitude.” (36)

  1. Solitude. Mrs. Sharp suggests carving out private time for yourself, at least half an hour in the early morning. Don’t all of my posts come down to this? Prayer and meditation… putting first things first…
  2. Rhythm. This foundation of harmony at home can be restored through daily rituals.  In other words, have regular mealtimes and bedtimes.
  3. Order.  Make it your priority.  As in, a place for everything and everything in its place. And work as a family to share the responsibilities around the home. Mrs. Sharp confirms, as I suspected, that children need and thrive on order, but it must at first be imposed upon them.
  4. Mealtimes. She has many ideas on this, but I’ll focus on just one.  Eat together.
  5. The Children’s Hour. Her three page description of bath and bedtime rituals was always my favorite section of the book. Reading it now makes me wish I was more consistent with it when my children were younger. Although my teenagers are independent when it comes to bathing and going to sleep, I still have nine and twelve year old girls that would benefit from “a more gentle transition from day to night.” This would consist of undivided attention during the process of tidying belongings, bathing, teeth brushing, laying out the next day’s clothing, reading aloud (or silently), prayers, tucking in, kissing goodnight and turning out the lights.

It’s not only time to revisit these ideas, but also to put them into action.

Experiment #2:

For four weeks, one day at a time, practice the following: rise 30 minutes before your family, eat meals together at regular times and at the kitchen table, ensure that everyone completes his/her morning routines and daily chores, and the Children’s Hour.

If I can focus on keeping these simple routines, I think it will improve my home, and more importantly, my attitude. We shall see. I’ll leave you with my all-time favorite Mrs. Sharp quote:

“There is no ill that can befall man, woman, or child that cannot be made more tolerable in a tidy front parlor.” (37)

 

Book Notes: The Intellectual Life, Chapter 3

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“One word suggests itself here before any other: you must simplify your life.“  (41)

I’ve been trying to simplify my life for twenty years!  And I’ve been lingering over this chapter for about six weeks.  It has so many encouraging quotes to ponder, many of which confirm ideas I’ve held for some time now, and others that are completely new to me.  Here are some of the quotes I underlined on simplification.

“a certain asceticism is the duty of the thinker.” (42)

“Contemplation… is not compatible with the complications and burdens of an excessively comfortable life.” (42)

“Much peace, a little beauty, certain conveniences that save time, are all that is necessary.” (42)

“…how will you preserve the few hours at your disposal if your life is over-full?  You must reduce matter to the minimum, so as to lighten and liberate the spirit.” (43)

“Money and attention squandered on trifles would be much better spent in collecting a library, providing for instructive travel or restful holidays, going to hear music which rekindles inspiration, and so on.” (43)

Around the time I began reading this chapter, I discovered a podcast by Dr. Christopher Perrin called Café Scholé.  I immediately listened to every episode.  Dr. Perrin defines scholé as “undistracted time to study the things that are most worthwhile.” This is something I’ve been craving, not only for myself, but also for my children.

I have had a strong desire to simplify my life because I believe it will give me the time for scholé, and in this chapter, A. G. Sertillanges confirms this. To have this time to study, you must simplify your life.  But what does this look like?

Well, for me, it started out as decluttering.  I thought paring down material possessions would make life simpler.  And it does help.  As I shared in my last post, good habits of tidying and doing chores help too.  Doing fewer activities can simplify life, but I think to be really simple,  my mind needs to put first things first.   Most important, in my opinion, is that I make time for solitude.

In Order and Solitude (Episode 8 of the podcast), Dr. Perrin does a fine job in summarizing and going deeper into the ideas in Part II of this chapter, which is called Solitude. I’ve been listening to it when I’m alone in my van and it makes so much sense to me.  I’ve been pondering these ideas for years.  Why is it that I feel scattered after spending a period of time being constantly busy? Or drained when I’ve been trying to be a good wife, mother, daughter, or friend by listening to other people talk? Or distracted by too much time spent on movies, streaming shows, and social media?  It’s a lack of solitude.

Here’s a question:  Why, having known for almost half my life, that this silence is the one thing necessary for me, do I seem to avoid it or allow other things to take it away?

I think the answer is that (although I’ve told myself I do) I haven’t always wanted to know the truth. The truth can be painful.  It can be humbling. Being busy and productive is much less scary, and it keeps up the illusion that I am greater than I really am. I’m at a time in my life now where I feel ready to face the truth.  I want to learn. (It’s why I’m reading this book.)  Here’s a quote that gives me hope and inspires me to face the truth and to persevere.

“One cannot, says St. Thomas, contemplate all the time; but he who lives only for contemplation, directs everything else towards it, and resumes it when he can, gives it a sort of continuity, as far as may be on earth.

Delight will be found in it, for ‘the cell, if you stay in it, grows sweet: cella continuata dulcescit.’  Now the delight of contemplation is a part of its efficacy.  Pleasure, St. Thomas explains, fastens the soul to its object, like a vise..”  (51-52)

My interpretation is that if I keep seeking this silence/solitude/prayer as often as I can, and I make it a priority, I will begin to enjoy it so much that its frequency will naturally increase.

That last line about pleasure fastening the soul to its object like a vise sounds powerful to me.  It inspires me to want to fast.  It makes me want to break the grip of the vise holding unworthy objects to my soul.  Objects like food, excessive entertainment, media, or even work, that allow me

“to half live while time runs by, and to sell heaven for nothings.”  (50)

As in the last chapter, this one also contains many practical tips which I’ll share here in a bulleted list.

  • Do not burden yourself with too much baggage. (41)
  • Slacken the tempo of your life. (42)
  • Do not inquire at all about the actions of others. (46)
  • Do not busy yourself about the words and actions of those in the world. (46)
  • Avoid useless outings above everything. (46)
  • Be slow to speak and slow to go to those places where people speak… (47)
  • Do not run after news that occupies the mind to no purpose… (47)
  • Do not busy yourself with the sayings and doings of the world… (47)
  • Avoid useless comings and goings which waste hours and fill the mind with wandering thoughts. (47)
  • Before giving out truth, acquire it for yourself…  (52)
  • Do what you ought and must… (58)
  • Do not forget that in association with others, even in ordinary everyday meetings, there is something to be gleaned.  (59)
  • Find the right balance between the life within and the life without, between silence and sound. (62)
  • You as a man of thought must keep in touch with what is; else the mind loses its poise. (64)
  • The spirit of silence must therefore pervade the whole of life.  (67)

Experiment #1 Results

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Here is where I’ll tell you what I learned from Experiment #1: Downsizing Eyes.

The Experiment

Imagine you are moving into a tiny one bedroom home next week.  It has a small living room, kitchen, bathroom, and very little extra storage.  What would you take with you?  What are your favorite things?  What do you use all the time?  What is most important?

What I Did

  1. I made a list of all of the areas in my home that hold items I use and/or own.  I did not include my children’s bedrooms, my husband’s study, or the shed in our yard.
  2. In each area, I examined the items found there and thought about what I would do with each one (in the experiment scenario). Would I take it with me? Should I declutter it right now?
  3. I got rid of 8 useless items and a 1 inch stack of paper.
  4. I took notes about what I got rid of, and what items I would want to take with me.
  5. I analyzed my notes taking frequency of use into account.

What I Learned

  1.  I’m almost a minimalist! I realized that most of the items in my home do not belong to me. And many of the items that belong to my husband and me, I would let go of when we downsized. I think the reason I don’t want to call myself a “minimalist” quite yet is because there are two areas in my home that I haven’t “finished” yet.  They are the basement, (where I’ll be asking my husband and my kids if they are ready to part with their stuff) and two shelves in the school room closet that contain photographs and memorabilia. Once I finish decluttering those two areas I’ll be there.
  2.  I really don’t need many possessions.  I think glasses and contact lenses would actually be my most important items.  Living without those would be very difficult.  The next most important items would be the ones I use daily and weekly.  These are toiletries, clothing, appliances, tools, some furniture and kitchenware, journals, books, my iphone, cleaning supplies, office supplies, my money belt, laptop, and van.
  3.  I discovered what items are important to me.  Although I could live without all of these, I am happy to have DVD’s, slideshows, and scrapbooks of my family.  I love that I have the crucifix that used to hang above my grandparents’ bed, and a few items that were meaningful to them.  I also love certain framed prints hanging on my walls and books sitting on my shelves even though I know that they are replaceable.
  4. The way I see my home has changed. As I knew before I started, this experiment didn’t help me to get rid of any of my husband or my children’s possessions. I have often felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in our home.  It felt like I was always trying to catch up and I was always going to be behind.  I think this has helped me to see reality more clearly.  I can easily take care of my own stuff.  I can set boundaries and my family members can take care of their own stuff.  I am also reminded by my mother’s experience, that this is only a season in my life. I am grateful that I still have the presence of these wonderful people in our home.
  5. I can focus on maintenance.  (That is, after I go through my last two areas.) I have a tendency to procrastinate dealing with paperwork.  I can focus on keeping up with the paper coming in and not allowing my kitchen desk to accumulate clutter. I can work with my family on the habit of putting items back into their homes. When we do our regular kitchen, bathroom and laundry chores, the house looks good.  If we add in tidying up our own stuff once or twice a day, then it will look even better.

In Conclusion

I plan to set aside time to work on the last two areas. I’ll be calling myself a minimalist by the end of 2020!  I will also get the whole family involved in consistently taking care of our home and possessions. Maybe that will be one of my next experiments.

 

 

Book Notes: The Intellectual Life, Chapter 2

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Chapter 2 is all about virtues and their connection to knowledge.  I’m going to use the information in the fourth part of the chapter, which is about disciplining our bodies.  Since I consistently struggle with consistency in bodily discipline, I thought I’d take some of the author’s suggestions to make a list for my own benefit.

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR BODY IN GREAT SHAPE FOR THINKING

  1. Go outside! Live as much as possible in the open air. (37)
  2. Take walks every day. Walk before you study, after you study, and even while you are studying. (37)
  3. Breathe deeply.  Keep windows open, when possible.  Sit in a position that frees your lungs and doesn’t compress your other organs.  Take slow and deep breaths.  Try doing it while standing on tiptoes. (37)
  4. Stretch.  Reach your limbs in two or three rhythmic movements or movements that amplify your deep breathing exercises. (37)
  5. Exercise every day. “Those who do not find time to take exercise must find time to be ill.” If you cannot exercise outside, then do it inside.  It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise, as long as you do it! (37-38)
  6. Take vacations. At least once a year.  Maybe more.  This doesn’t mean you can’t do any work during them, but you should mostly rest, get fresh air, and exercise out-of-doors. (38)
  7. Watch what you eat. Stick with light food that is plain and simply cooked.  Do not overeat!  “A thinker does not spend his life in the processes of digestion.” (38)
  8. Get enough sleep.  This is very important. Both too much or too little can negatively affect you. Find out how much you need and make a firm resolution to keep it. (38)
  9. Have good hygiene. Wash, brush, floss, wear dry, clean clothes.
  10. Pay attention to your passions and vices. Are you overdoing anything?  Have you noticed behaviors that dull your mind? Or make you tired or anxious?  Are you doing them excessively?  Do you have habits that you know are not good for you?  “A lover of pleasure is an enemy of his body and therefore quickly becomes an enemy of his soul.  Mortification of the senses is necessary for thought, and can alone bring us to that state of clear vision…” (39)  Try fasting or abstinence.  Limit screen time. Stay away from Twizzlers.

A Summer Schedule

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Summer of 2020.  It’s starting out as usual in some ways… laps in my dad’s pool, movie nights, and eating ice cream; but in many ways it will be different.  My family’s annual Fourth of July party has been canceled. Birthday and graduation celebration plans are up in the air.  I’m wondering whether or not I should invite my adult son over to visit us, when I’ll see my friends in person again, and when it’ll be considered safe to hug my parents.

And, we are wearing masks.

Staying in the day, in the moment, without thinking about all the future unknowns helps me to enjoy my life.  It’s easy for me to worry or to get frustrated when I read news articles.  There are recommendations and mandates, postponed decisions, and perhaps, inconsistencies with the decisions being made.  There are things I don’t fully understand, having only partial information, and these same things are clearly out of my control.

So my priority for this summer (and always, but I get sidetracked), is prayer.  I want to find a balance of prayer, work and rest.  So here is the basic plan:

  • 7:00-8:15  Hygiene, chores, morning prayers, breakfast, spiritual reading and meditation
  • 8:15-9:30  Mass, rosary, start laundry
  • 9:30-11:30  Projects/food shopping/weekly cleaning
  • 11:30-12:00  Reading (fiction)
  • 12:00-1:00  Angelus, lunch, chores, finish laundry
  • 1:00-4:00  Driving lessons, French lessons/pool time, work out
  • 4:00-6:00  Shower, dinner prep & eat, chores
  • 6:00-10:00  Angelus, meeting/movie/blog post, family time
  • 10:00-11:00  Iron, hygiene, night prayers, reading (non-fiction)

I’ve been trying to follow this schedule for a couple of weeks now.  I’ve not been praying the rosary or the Angelus consistently yet.  Because it hasn’t been raining much, we’ve been swimming at the pool almost every day.  I also haven’t been consistent with my reading times. Projects, movies, hanging out with Bobby, and helping my mom (or the kids) seem to take over my time.

One benefit of following a schedule, that I noticed recently, is that it helps me to enjoy the present moment.  Doing the tasks that need to get done at a certain day/time each week, helps to get rid of the overwhelming feelings that I am behind, or forgetting things I need to do, that clutter up my mind and make me feel anxious.  For example, knowing that we are going to clean the house on Friday morning, or that I’m going to take Joseph driving after lunch, allows me to relax when I’m reading a book on the couch, or sitting at the pool with my family.  I don’t have the guilt that I should be doing something “more productive” at that time.

I can also see when I am avoiding doing something on my schedule.  Sometimes there may be a good reason for doing so, but other times I may be avoiding feelings, or maybe my priorities have gotten out of order.  So the schedule can also help with self-awareness and with being intentional as people often say nowadays. Most of all, I hope it will help to make God, rather than me, the center of my life.

 

Experiment #1: Downsizing Eyes

6BBC3B66-1EB1-4505-9FD3-E088D48A7849My step father passed away on December 27, 2019. He and my mother had lived together for thirty years.  They weren’t pack rats, and they were fairly organized and clean.  For the past few months I’ve watched (and sometimes helped) my mother give away and throw away their possessions in order to downsize.  I helped my mother buy a one bedroom condo, which is closer in proximity to my sister and me.  Then two weeks ago, we helped her move the possessions she wanted to keep into the new condo.  Last weekend, she decided she wanted to put her house on the market by the end of the week, and yesterday it was listed.

For five days we spring cleaned, painted, posted items on the “letgo” app, gave items to their new owners, and filled up a 15 yard dumpster.  Then on the sixth and seventh days, I rested.  Today, I’m thinking about the whole experience.

Letting go of a home you lived in for forty years as you are grieve the loss of your spouse is my mother’s story.  Saying good-bye to my childhood home and remembering my step father and my grandparents, who also have passed away, and who were a big part of my life back then, is my story; but not where I’m going with this today.  I’m pondering the downsizing of material possessions.

Those who know me well, know that this is a big topic of interest for me. Decluttering, purging stuff, minimalism, voluntary poverty, and downsizing… they are all related in my mind.  And now I have this fresh, first-hand experience (not my own) of answering the questions:  What do I want? What do I need? What am I willing to let go of?

It’s hard not to notice the fact that I will one day go through this downsizing myself, or if I die first, my family will be throwing out and giving away my possessions.  So why am I keeping things that I do not use on a regular basis?  It motivates me to do another pass through my home with the eyes of a downsizer.

Experiment #1:

Imagine you are moving into a tiny one bedroom home next week.  It has a small living room, kitchen, bathroom, and very little extra storage.  What would you take with you?  What are your favorite things?  What do you use all the time?  What is most important?

This will not help me to get rid of any of my husband’s or my children’s belongings.  And I will, of course, need to keep many extra articles of furniture and shared items in the common areas.  But let’s see how this experiment will affect my own stash of personal belongings.  Results will be the subject of a future post.

Room Tours: The Living Room

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This is the third entry in my Room Tours category.  Our living room was always one of the most used rooms in the house, but I think Covid 19 has pushed it into the number one spot. We are in here to watch morning Mass, do school subjects, read, play games, watch movies, binge shows on Netflix, sit and talk, nap, go on electronics, and more.

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Sarah plays the piano in here, and much of her sheet music is stored near her piano (the rest is stored in the dining room). A circle of fifths print is the wall hanging shown above. I like it because it’s practical and neutral colored. We keep headphones and chargers in the loveseat console. We store DVD’s and Wii U games and accessories in the TV cabinet.

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The rest of our DVD’s are stored on a bookshelf in the nearby foyer closet.

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The living room is open to the dining room.

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On movie nights, we turn the loveseat and the chairs to face the TV, and so everyone can recline with their legs up.  It’s super comfy!  I even moved a chair right in front of the TV when I watched Parasite, so I could read the subtitles more easily.

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We store remote controls and chargers in the end table on the left, and in the right one are kindles and guess what?  More chargers!

I think the “Order” print above the sofa is beautiful and I feel a sense of peace when I look at it.  My kids don’t agree, and Joseph continually teases me with ideas of things we could hang to replace it.

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The room doesn’t usually look like this, as you can imagine, but everything has a place in here, so it doesn’t take long to tidy it up.  Everyone just has pick up their own dishes, books, papers, socks, games, blankets, dolls, laptops, iPads, hair ties, and yes, chargers!

Book Notes: The Intellectual Life, Chapter 1

D7D291B9-7B7C-4F9D-BB1D-A5C0B1DE50F8I created a new category called “Book Notes” where I’ll post my thoughts on books I’m reading, as I said I would do in my last post.  I also created a tag for the name of the book. I think that will allow one to call up all posts about that particular book. My first notes in this new category will be about The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods by A. G. Sertillanges, O.P.  I think this is a great way to begin methodically reading my nonfiction books… by studying a classic book that teaches how to learn!

I don’t plan to summarize each chapter.  Maybe someone else has done that online.  I’ll just write about whatever I find interesting and would have written about by hand in a journal as I do sometimes. This category will be my electronic commonplace book.

“Christianized humanity is made up of various personalities, no one of which can refuse to function without impoverishing the group and without depriving the eternal Christ of a part of His kingdom. Christ reigns by unfolding Himself in men.  Every life of one of His members is a characteristic moment of His duration; every individual man and Christian is an instance, incommunicable, unique, and therefore necessary, of the extension of the ‘spiritual body.’  If you are designated as a light bearer, do not go and hide under the bushel the gleam or the flame expected from you in the house of the Father of all.”  (5)

What excited me about this passage is that it reminded me of something I heard at my Spiritual Exercises retreat last September.  I heard it during the Call of Christ meditation talk and it was something that I had never thought of before.  It was a new motivation.

Jesus is calling me to follow him, like a soldier following a good king into battle.  And it’s a battle that we are sure to win.  It’s a guaranteed victory.  There may be some suffering involved, but the king will be right there suffering with us too.  How am I going to respond? I know I should be generous.  I should have courage.  I should go above and beyond if I want to distinguish myself.  I should be committed.  But here’s what I didn’t ever think about before:  I should have a sense of responsibility.  I am necessary.  Essential.  God depends on me to bring the fire of His love to those around me.  My surrender will bring a unique benefit to the world.  I will leave a black hole in the universe if I do not offer myself as He expects. To me, this means my response is more than an expression of love and gratitude.  It’s my duty.  (And it took my ISTJ breath away.)

So I saw this idea repeated in the passage above, but in this case it’s referring to the vocation of intellectual work.  Or the hobby, for people like me who already have a full-time vocation.  I do think I am called to develop and deepen my mind (as a supplement to my regular work) because I do really enjoy reading and thinking about ideas and it seems to go along with the disposition God has given me.  My interpretation of the passage above is that the calling (whether part-time or full-time) is more than just an interest you may have, it’s something you should be doing. And not half-way, but give it your all!

So that’s one takeaway from the chapter. There are many others, but it’s time for me to cook dinner.