5 Min ReadSelf 27 May 2020
Remember when you were a little kid and you got a Barbie dream house for your birthday? How excited you were when your Dad, parent, or some other knowledgeable adult put it together so swiftly, and you played with it all day and well into the night with glee? And remember when everyone got a cool "multi disc" stereo system for their room, and you couldn't wait to get one too so you could listen to your cool Jock Jams collections knowing you were way cooler than your parents and that 1970's Eric Clapton "shit" (once your older brother set it up of course, duh)?
Oh, and my favorite, remember when you got your first apartment in college and your dad put together basically all your furniture for you as you sat there on the couch texting your boyfriend, while he dropped F-bombs under his breath before opening a bottle of wine? I didn't remember these things, until this past weekend, when I was sitting on the living room floor, with a wrench in my hand, wailing in between my own F-bombs, about how hard putting together a stationary exercise bike was and why women would even be doing this in the first place.
After my cry, the only thing I knew to do was to just keep going.
As some of you know from my previous article, I am a party of one, una sola, miss independent, at the moment, due to unfortunate immigration issues… but this past weekend finally put me over the edge. The only reason I had this bike in the first place was because I broke my damn toe trying to reach for something on the top shelf in the cabinet. #shortpeopleproblems I wasn't able to run or really walk, and thanks to "stay at home," no pools are open, so my only option was biking... "Oo exciting," says the person who just loves spin class. Me? Not so much.
Just a month ago I had bought a boxing bag (read my first piece for more on that venture) and spent hours putting that thing together... and now this? I'm not saying women can't do these duties, but there was a small part of me that wanted to be a kid again and pout and say, "I want my Daddy!" Then there was another, slightly more mature part of me that thought, "Well, this is ridiculous. I have a husband; he should be doing these things, but sadly, that's not an option either."
While I was putting the bike together, I was beyond frustrated. I was angry that I was having to do this by myself, and that I didn't have anyone to help me. Not that I expect people to help me with things all the time, but that there are certain things I am just not good at. The instructions and reviews said set up should take me no more than 20 minutes, and here I was 90 minutes in and not even close to finished. I was cursing that Amazon reviewer. I've learned being able to identify your strengths and weaknesses; knowing when to ask for help is great, but what happens when you're alone and the dog thinks it's a game? There is nowhere in the instruction manual that says "in case of pandemic."
I didn't remember these things, until this past weekend, when I was sitting on the living room floor, with a wrench in my hand, wailing in between my own F-bombs, about how hard putting together a stationary exercise bike was and why women would even be doing this in the first place.
After my cry, the only thing I knew to do was to just keep going. It is stupid really. I mean we learned it in Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." Was I happy about it at first? No. Did I know what I was doing? Not really. Did I finish the bike? Two and a half hours later. Will it break on me mid-ride? There is a very good chance — updates pending.
It seems like there's a lot of "just keep swimming" lately. Not just with putting together an indoor bike, but in general. Getting tasks done through the day can be something as simple as changing batteries, lightbulbs, or dealing with bugs — yes bugs. I had these suckers invade my turf for weeks. The point is, sometimes, we can feel as if we are being invaded by ourselves. Our thoughts, our own actions. Even though I wanted that bike put together so badly, so I could get riding instead of sitting around, maybe it was okay just to keep sitting for a few more days.
We're all going through a lot right now, whether we realize it or not. Sure, you think, this is normal. Just household chores. I've got my rhythm. Worried about work, but making a plan. Or maybe you aren't worried about work, but it's something else that's subconscious. It's okay to fix ourselves during this pandemic. Maybe we don't have all the tools yet (wrenches do come in all sizes by the way), and maybe it might take more than just a day to figure it out, but don't be afraid to do some work on you and be your own "handywoman."
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It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.
Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.
Read with a Purpose
Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.
Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.
When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.
Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.
You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.
Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.
Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.
If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.
Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.