My Own Personal Sabbath #26

Almost every Sunday since mid-May 2020 with a few exceptions, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. Throughout the day or the next day, I share what I am reading, listening to or watching during my Sabbath day.

I am starting the day with quiet music as I often do on Sundays, many times with Sleepy Hollow on WXPN from Philadelphia. Today’s selection, though, is inspired by music I heard on this morning’s show. It was gentle acoustic guitar music, a little on the ambient side, and then in a review on Pitchfork this morning, I rediscovered the artist Nathan Salsburg, who just released two albums of instrumental acoustic music, Landwerk and Landwerk No. 2, made up of eight pieces.

Later today, I plan on dipping into the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri, with the fifth in the series, Excursion to Tindari. Last week I learned the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) added the series to its ebook collection and it was, and is, like Christmas for me, since the series is on my bucket list of series I want to read. I’ll leave you with one of Salsburg’s pieces from his latest album:

It’s a little after 2 p.m. now and after a short nap, I’m reading again. I started late this morning with Excursion to Tindari as planned. This afternoon, after about 50 pages in, I realized that while I had not read this one, I had watched it. For a short time, we had MHz Choice, which had the show Inspector Montalbano on it. I saw the episode based on the book, so I knew where the story was going.

So…now I’m on the sixth one in the series, The Smell of the Night. I’ll report back later on how it’s going.

It is a little after 4 p.m. and I am halfway through The Smell of the Night. Neither have I seen this episode of Montalbano nor do I think I have seen any others after the Excursion to Tindari so I should be good, which also this book is thus far, from here on out.

Last report of the day here at 8:30 p.m.: I finished my first book of the year, The Smell of the Night, by Andrea Camilleri. It was good, as I expected that it would be, and I have the next one, Rounding the Mark, already checked out from FLP. I’m ending the day with the end of Season 12 of Criminal Minds, to which I recently returned. I had been watching a few years ago on Netflix but then stopped when they were didn’t have any seasons past 12. This weekend, I learned Hulu now has later seasons and so I’m finishing 12 on Netflix, then going to 13 on Hulu.

How did you spend your Sunday? Read, watch, listen to anything good?

My First Book of 2021

Yesterday, I shared My One Word for 2021; today, I share my first book of the new year as many others do today and share with Sheila of the blog Book Journey who posts the photos today. Like my one word for this year, my first book of the year is the same as last year:

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, as translated by Gregory Hays: I borrowed a copy of it for free from Prime Reading in late 2019. But when I tried it, I had a difficult time reading the archaic translation. I then came across several reviews mentioning a modern translation by Gregory Hays, who also wrote an extensive introduction. It was the perfect book for 2020 even though I doubted it and tried another book that didn’t work.

With there being a lot of aphorisms in Meditations, last year I read a chapter a day over two weeks and journaled on one or two passages each day. While I enjoyed that, I think this year, I’m not going to put any time constraints on how long I’ll read and journal on passages. It might be a month or two or even three (GASP!). I’m also combining two other companion volumes to Meditations:

  1. How To Think Like A Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius by Donald Robertson
  2. The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and The Art of Living by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

The first, like Meditations, I will read at a leisurely pace and finish when I finish, maybe even reading on a new tradition I started last year on Sundays: My Own Personal Sabbath. The second, and this might shock you (again GASP! ) since it’s a daily meditation, I will read throughout the year.

So that is the book or books I’ll be starting 2021 with. However, the first book that I’ll probably finish will be (keeping it Italian) Excursion to Tindari, the fifth in the Inspector Montalbano series, by Andra Camilleri as translated by Stephen Sartarelli. The Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) recently added the series to its ebook collection and I couldn’t help but put several on hold, many of which already have come in. I read the first three or four years ago via interlibrary loan at our library, but then gave up because I didn’t feel like waiting for all of the rest. Like Richard Stark’s Parker series, Camilleri’s series is on my bucket list of series to read, but with so many in both series, I can’t afford purchasing all of them. So when I saw that the series now is available to borrow at FLP around Christmas, it was, and is, Christmas to me.

Do you have a first book you plan to start out the year with? If so, what is it? If not, what are you looking forward to reading in 2020? To see what Sheila and others selected, visit Sheila’s blog post.

My One Word for 2021

As I said last year, I’m not sure when I started doing this or who got me started since many bloggers I knew were doing variations on it. According to a few notes on Evernote from previous years, my one word for 2014 actually was two words: “Focus” and “equilibrium.” The equilibrium part of it was because I had just discovered that year that I have tinnitus. In 2016, the word was “Reinvigorate.” In 2018, it was “Breathe.”

This year I’ve decided to keep last year’s word for my one word for 2020 too:

“recuperate,” The Dictionary, Accessed 12/14/2019.


At the start of last year, I was recuperating from knee surgery the previous October. In late March 2019, I somehow injured my left knee. After several months of doctor appointments and physical therapy, in late October 2019, I had arthroscopic surgery on the knee wherein a small mass of torn meniscus was removed and the cartilage around the knee was smoothed.

During the “Spring Lockdown,” I was able to walk a lot around our neighborhood, which helped with the healing of my knee. However, after I went to back to work at the library in late May/early June, sadly I became mostly sedentary again despite our having curbside service and having to walk books out to patrons in vehicles or on our porch. Then in late September, I broke my left middle toe, not helping me get (back?) into a groove or any groove.

Oh, and yes, in mid-November, my wife Kim and I tested positive for Covid-19 that put both of us out of commission for a couple of weeks. Luckily, it was mild for both of us with neither one of us having fevers and the main symptom for her being losing her senses of taste and smell.

I have no specific goals, other than to walk more, consistently throughout the whole year, rather than just here or there, and to be more consistent with the times I go to sleep and awaken.

Mentally & Spiritually

Awakening earlier also ties in with my mental and spiritual recuperation. Over the last couple of months, I have been attempting to awaken earlier so that I have time to meditate and journal before I head out the door to work on weekdays. I’ll be honest that I usually haven’t awoken early enough to have time to do both and only one or the other, and then with either one, very inconsistently.

Then on the flip side, I haven’t been meditating at the end of the day, as recommended by the Worldwide Community of Christian Meditation to which I was introduced earlier this year by Deb Nance of the blog Readerbuzz. I’d like to incorporate both morning and evening meditation regularly into my routine.

The Journey logo.

Last year I set a goal of reading a book a week (including one nonfiction book a month), journaling daily, and re-incorporating devotions into my daily routine. This year, I have the same goals, but with a slight different emphasis with my morning after starting online therapy in February even before the lockdown. Last year, I said that journaling for me would mean typing into an app called Journey on my laptop. I noted that unfortunately, my printing and handwriting is atrocious (my wife blames my former job as a newspaper reporter where I had my own version of shorthand/ “chicken scratches”) so as a result, I would not be using a physical journal.

However, since then, I have been journaling longhand on legal pads at the direction of my therapist. This year, I would like to continue that, and add using Journey to keep memories more for posterity and possibly I’ve thought (in the back of my mind) for my nephew Jonathan and niece Grace (since Kim and I don’t have children) for when I’m “gone”. I remember my late paternal grandfather kept a diary every day for years, including weather reports each day complete with temperature and barometric readings, and I enjoyed looking back at his reports after he passed away in 1979 when I was 10. Maybe some day it can be the same for them reading my entries.

Hmmm, according to Uncle Bryan, it was 32 degrees Fahrenheit on December 31, 2020 and the barometric pressure was 30.23 inches, whatever the heck that means.

As always, I have five other goals for the year, that I have made as goals every year:

  1. Be quick to listen.
  2. Slow to speak.
  3. Slow to anger.
  4. Talk less.
  5. Smile more.

The first three are from various translations from The Book of James in The Bible, that my mother likes to quote often:

“Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

James 1:19

The last two are advice Aaron Burr gave Alexander Hamilton in the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” in the musical Hamilton.

What about you? Do you have a “One Word” each year? If so, what is it? If not, what is one goal you have for 2021?