A memoir, advice for the office, Buddhism, and a novel

It's Easier Than You Think by Sylvia Boorstein
Nothing like rushing through the end of a book on Buddhism so that you can get it "done" and write the blog and get on with your life.... not exactly mindful presence, is it? Boorstein is brilliant in her accessibility. I love her laid-back style, her ease and grace as she talks about how to handle the most difficult things there are using Buddhist principles of mindfulness and compassion.

Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office 101, by Lois P. Frankel

Okay, there was definitely useful advice in this book. The one I'm not taking is to only focus on one goal at a time, because I need to turn the book back in to the library. I'm taking notes here. These are not just for me, but also for my many female students.
--Make a list of the rules of the game at your workplace... observe
--"If you find yourself the only person in a room who disagrees with the consensus It can't be done and think, But I could make it happen, an alarm should go off that you're being naive." (p. 31)
--Sharing too much personal information. This includes bursting into tears in a meeting, in your professor's office, in any setting where you should maintain a professional demeanor.
--Acquiescing to Bullies. Bullies may be ubiquitous, but this does not mean you have to give in. "I feel I'm not being heard" is one tactic, as is focusing on problem solving rather than looking back to the past. Know what your goals are in having any particular conversation.
--Decorating your office like your living room. See Dolores Umbridge in the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
--Making miracles... don't promise deliverables no human could deliver
--Viewing men in authority as "father figures." Ask why you're giving up your power.
--Ignoring the quid pro quo. Be mindful of the exchanges you're engaged in, and both give and take.
--Letting people waste your time. Set boundaries about how much time you have, be clear about your schedule, and end conversations politely but firmly.
--Give feedback effectively: describe the problem, explain how you see the situation and elicit the other person's view, show that you've heard and specify what you want now, make the consequences clear.
--Internalizing girlhood messages about "nice" being more important that Respect.
--Don't assume others know more. Ask "why do you recommend that?" or "How do you know that?"
--Don't tolerate inappropriate behavior. If you can, address it at the time. If you can't, then address it clearly later.
--Speak up! You can support what's been said, ask a question, or offer an opinion. Be part of the conversation.

The Commitment by Dan Savage

A memoir of deciding, ultimately, not to get married as a gay couple in a world in which marriage isn't legal. Savage has written a longstanding sex column, and this memoir delves into his family life. He and Terry have an adopted son, D. J., who at 6 doesn't believe in marriage. But he wants his daddies to stay together. Dan's mom wants them to get married. The most revealing part of the book is when Savage argues that straight people get to be married and still do whatever they want (divorces, threesomes, open marriages... two of the three are in the minority among hetero marriages), while gay people are expected to be absolute paragons of monogamous virtue. Savage has a point, and he unveils many of the assumptions about marriage in general through this arguments.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

I read this 10 years ago and it absolutely floored me, rocked my world, brought me to tears. This time through, I didn't finish it. What changed? Me, I suppose... the book is probably the same one I borrowed a decade ago. Maybe I'm just too into nonfiction right now, or maybe I'm just more into the ideas that Gilligan outlined in The Birth of Pleasure. Gilligan analyzes this book, which is why I picked it up again. The other one she analyzes in the same vein is The English Patient. This experience makes me not want to read it.

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