A week of all the volunteering

The last few months have definitely been a work and play focus. The sheer volume of work that happens in January and February takes me by surprise every year. But this year I got through very much by keeping very focussed on work and trying to do a lot of socialising and travelling at weekends in order to make sure I relaxed somewhat.

Now though I am ready to turn back to the various volunteer roles I hold in life. All of which I enjoy and have a different purpose. The CAFOD group at church is preparing for Lent Fast Day this Friday and a Fairtrade wine tasting in May.

The Birmingham Children’s Book Group is part of the Bournville Book Fest this weekend and next and I will be on the Book Swap stall that we run. If you are near Rowheath Pavilion this Saturday or Bluecoat School next Saturday, come and swap children’s books.

My Scout role definitely needs some more attention, although as always with my Scout role, a fair amount has gone on in the background even if its not as visible as it could be. Now though I need to set my sights back on recruiting others who can share their administrative, financial and management skills for the benefit of the hundreds of children who enjoy Scouts every week in Birmingham. How to do that is still puzzling me a bit though.

I have resigned as a children’s liturgist after some years of service. I leave at the end of Lent, but meanwhile am working hard to train and support some new liturgists so that they are ready to take over once I step down.

It is good to be back in the mix, even if all the meetings happening in one week along with a weekend full of volunteering is a bit of a leap back into it all.

Enjoying the books

This is a follow up post to my controversial statement the other day. I am of course not getting rid of all my books, but just the ones that don’t ‘spark joy’ to use Marie Kondo’s concept.

I have by no means finished clearing, but so far, it’s been a great experience.  The pile of books on the landing had some great books in it, which I had just stopped seeing, they were part of the furniture, something that sat next to the mirror, not something to read.  I am looking forward to SJ Parris’s historical fiction.

The space next to my bed contained some real treasures, I started the Claire Balding as soon as I could.

Yesterday I spent a few minutes tackling one of the shelves where I store my old university books – I studied French and German.   That was a real joy.  I kept everything that spoke to me.  So the grammar books are back on the shelf, as are some books which are now history books, but were factual back in the 1980s/90s when I was studying.  Germany was two different countries, odd to think. There were some odd choices too.  The three different versions of the Iphigenia tale all remain (really bright sparks of joy from them), as do the Zola novels in translation and Manon Lescaut.  The latter has me intrigued, why that spark of joy? No idea, I shall have to reread it. There are several Alphonse Daudet novels which were the subject of a project whilst studying in Provence.  I don’t particularly like them, will probably never read them in French – I will probably never read anything in French ever again –  but they sparked joy of memory.

The discard pile really made me giggle.  There are several books by Marivaux.  Who is Marivaux?  I am guessing I must have studied him, so how do I not know?  And I seem to have studied Gerhard Hauptmann, but that made no lasting impression either.

I am really looking forward to tackling the next shelf.

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De-booking the house

I can hear the cries of outrage from two friends in particular as I write this (not sure they will read it, but I know they will feel so strongly, that they will sense this anyway).   I intend clearing book shelves this afternoon.

I am very much loving reading at the moment, really loving it.  I suspect one of the reasons is that I am also not buying new books.  I have a habit of heading into a bookshop and buying various books, which I have no plans to read right now, in fact sometimes I wonder why I ever bought them, as I can’t foresee ever having a plan to read them.  Amazon is even worse for this.  Someone recommends a book and it appears like magic in my home the next day.

At the moment I am borrowing lots from the library and a couple from friends.  I am listening to a few on Audible, which is even more magic than Amazon, but I share my allocation of credits with the whole family, so that gives me pause before ordering.

I have even bought a couple of Kindle books, just because they were very cheap.  And I read them immediately.

The ones on the shelf are not helping me love reading though.  I’m not sure I have that many books in total, definitely not compared to some.  But I am sure I have a higher proportion of unread books.  My brain seems to think that buying a book is the job done, I never bother to read it.

I borrowed Marie Kondo’s Magic Tidying Up Book (that is not its actual title, this is the version that has lodged itself in my brain): the book is a fascinating insight either into Japanese culture (I quizzed a friend on that) or a fantasy world; it did not really inspire me to origami my clothes, or to start talking to my handbag.  What it did do was give me the confidence to know that I really do not need to keep things that do not serve a proper purpose. That is greatly adapted as Kondo only keeps things that spark joy.   A sense of purpose is enough for me, but where I am in agreement with Kondo, a sense of “but I really ought to read that someday because…” is not.  What I did love about the book was the mindfulness of choosing what to keep, of having your home filled with stuff you have chosen and therefore treasure, not just things that we acquire.

So, book clearing it is. Hopefully it will inspire me to read more of the books in the house. And the resulting left overs will be sold to raise funds for CAFODin a couple of weeks’ time.  If you have any books to donate to the sale…

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