My Own Personal Sabbath #23

Every Sunday since mid-May 2020, 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.

12:10 AM: I don’t know about y’all, but I’m more than ready for a break from the news after this past week. Now that the presidential race has been called, I think I might be somewhat less distracted later today than I have been all week.

The only thing is that I’m not sure what I’m going to focus on today instead. I returned several books unread to our library and the Free Library of Philadelphia. I do have a few from the British Library Crime Classics series on my Kindle so maybe I’ll try one of them. I’ll keep you posted and let you know later today.

9:40 AM: In honor of Nonfiction November being celebrated this month, and even though I’m not participating in the event, I’m looking book at my nonfiction reads from this year. Altogether, I have read 32 books so far this year with eight of them being nonfiction. These are the eight:

  1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Gregory Hays
  2. A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches by Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  4. Pauses for Lent: 40 Words for 40 Days by Trevor Hudson
  5. Every Living Thing by James Herriot
  6. Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times: Powerful Tools to Cultivate Calm, Clarity and Courage by Philip Goldberg
  7. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  8. The Gethsemani Talks: A Simple Teaching on Meditation in the Christian Tradition by John Main

As you can tell, the common theme is meditation, right from my very book of the year. It wasn’t planned that way, but has fallen almost naturally into it with the way the year has gone into. Then at the beginning of last month, I was invited by Deb Nance of the blog, Readerbuzz, and host of the weekly Sunday Salon to an online six-week introductory course for Christian Meditation hosted by a group in Houston, Texas. The group is part of The World Community for Christian Meditation started by followers of the late Benedictine monk John Main.

5:30 PM: I just got home about half an hour ago after being out most of the afternoon. I went to a local lake and then a local park where I started reading Castle Skull by John Dickson Carr, a part of the British Library Crime Classics series I mentioned earlier.

Celebrating World Mental Health Day with mindfulness & self-compassion

While updating apps on my phone, I learned via Google Play that today is World Mental Health Day. Appropriate then that I already had started the day with continuing a course I started earlier in the week, “Coping With Anxiety in Times of Coronavirus” with Dr. Lillian Nejad on the Insight Timer app.  I also have been reading Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn and plan on continuing that today.

I thought throughout the day, I’d share highlights from each, starting with Dr. Nejad’s course:

Mindfulness does not remove the stresses and demands of your job or life. It does not change your difficult circumstances. It does change how difficulties, challenges, failures, and painful experiences affect you and how you respond to these experiences. Ultimately mindfulness changes your relationship to the realities of life so you can live it how it really is right now.


Here is what I’m listening to as I start my day:


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that in addition to starting Dr. Nejad’s course on Tuesday morning, that I started another course on Tuesday night, an online six-week introductory course for Christian Meditation that is being hosted by a group in Houston, Texas and to which I was invited by Deb Nance of the blog, Readerbuzz, and host of the weekly Sunday Salon. The group is part of The World Community for Christian Meditation. The first week was on what Christian meditation is, with the course continuing for five more weeks. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was with a group of about 30 people, including Deb, on Zoom.

While I thought it was good, as it was after work and dinner, I was distracted primarily by myself, not realizing the hour would include a 20-minute meditation on a mantra, in this case, “Maranatha” (an Aramaic word meaning, “Come Lord Jesus”).  I also was distracted to a lesser degree by the group leader, whom it sounded like had a baseball game on the radio in the background. Luckily, during the meditation portion of the course, he had his sound muted, but I still had a hard time focusing as I still was distracting myself. I did let the host know about the background sound issue, so hopefully next time, it will be corrected. As for me distracting myself, I’ll work on that.


It is now early evening and I haven’t read as much as I’d like, thanks to distractions and a nap. The distractions included my wife stepping on my glasses, that I accidentally left on the floor, my getting an eyeglass repair kit at Rite Aid, and then trying to fix them. However, we couldn’t get a screw out so I’ll have to take it Monday to the optician to repair. In the meantime, I popped the glass on the right side in enough to hold for the weekend.

Now after the nap, I had dinner with Kim before she goes to work and am beginning to read again. Here is one of the highlights so far tonight from my reading in Wherever You Go, There You Are:

We have precious few occasions nowadays for the mind to settle itself in stillness by a fire. Instead, we watch television at the end of the day, a pale electronic fire energy, and pale in comparison. We submit ourselves to constant bombardment by sounds and images that come from minds other than our own, that fill our heads with information and trivia, other people’s adventures and excitement and desires. Watching television leaves even less room in the day for experiencing stillness. It soaks up time, space, and silence, a soporific, lulling us into mindless passivity. “Bubble gum for the eyes,” Steve Allen called it. Newspapers do much the same. They are not bad in themselves, but we frequently conspire to use them to rob ourselves of many precious moments in which we might be living more fully.

This explains fairly well why since mid-May this year, I have been taking a break every Sunday (and some Saturdays too like this weekend) from news and work to focus on reading, journaling, listening to music, and watching TV in what I have called “My Own Personal Sabbath,” of which this post is a part.  As for what I’m listening to tonight, it’s mostly disco-themed, with Róisín Murphy and Tracey Thorn.


It is 10:48 p.m. and I have finished Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Overall, I liked the book, although I admit I found myself skimming some as I really couldn’t relate or I didn’t find some of it applicable.

Update, Sunday morning, 9:30 a.m.: Initially, I had planned to celebrate World Mental Health Day on just one day, then changed my mind to celebrate both Saturday and Sunday. I was going to include reading the book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff. This morning, I changed my mind back to only celebrating it for one day, yesterday, and gave myself compassion to not think I “had to” extend it for two days for you or anyone else.

My Own Personal Sabbath #22

Every Sunday since mid-May 2020, 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. This past weekend, I tuned out for two days and participated in a readathon on Instagram, #october8in2, to read 8 hours in two days. What follows is what I read for the readathon:

I only finished one book: Cocaine Blues, the first Phryne Fisher mystery, by Kerry Greenwood. But I started a second, Flying Too High, the second Phryne Fisher mystery, also by Greenwood, and continued another, Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. By the end of Sunday, I was about halfway through the former and I am about two-thirds through the latter, which I started last week.


I tried restarting where I left off this morning in Flying Too High and decided to parachute out of it after I decided I didn’t care for the flight path it was taking.

It was time for Phryne to call in the debts that were owed her after the affair of the Cocaine Blues.

That opening sentence at the beginning of Chapter 8 was the place I finally decided to deploy the parachute,o since nowhere in the previous book did any of the characters refer to the case as “the Cocaine Blues.” I even did a search on the ebook to see if the phrase appeared anywhere beyond titles or an epigraph, and it didn’t. To me, that is laziness by the author referring to the title she gave the case.

The first one held my interest mainly because I recognized characters from the TV series as they were introduced. In both books, I didn’t like the way Greenwood was jumping back and forth between two cases that were unrelated. I just want one case and didn’t, and don’t, appreciate the distraction of a minor case.

I had a lot of other issues with the second one, but since I am moving on to read something else, I don’t feel like hashing over those issues. I’d rather just move on to another book and not waste any more thoughts on a series I won’t be continuing.


A series that I wish I could continue is Cold Case, which has been available for free with commercials on The Roku Channel. I only learned yesterday that the show from the 2000s will no longer be available on the channel after the end of the month. Earlier this year, I just rediscovered it after not having seen it in years. I’m only in the third season and with seven seasons and more than 100 episodes left to watch, I’m not going to make it through them by the end of the month.

Instead, I’ve decided I’ll try to watch most of the episodes with higher than a rating of 8 on IMDb. It still leaves a lot, but I also have searched on Reddit and found lists of favorite episodes by other fans to help me narrow down what I choose to watch. Unfortunately, because the show used a lot of popular music, it never has come out on DVD because of licensing issues and probably never will.

Aside: I wish other shows like Northern Exposure were available on DVD with the original soundtrack too. Years ago, we bought a collection only to discover the music, which was a huge part of the show was missing.


I’ll leave you with a song from the recently released Super Deluxe Edition of Sign o’ The Times by Prince, which I just am beginning to delve into:

My Own Personal Sabbath #20

Every Sunday since mid-May 2020, 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 phoneThis past weekend, I started my Sabbath early on Saturday.

I began the weekend by continuing The Moving Target, the first Lew Archer, by Ross Macdonald, which I started earlier in the week. I decided to get out of the house and drove to a local ballfield where I finished it. It was good, but I’ve heard the series gets better as it goes.

Then on Sunday, I decided to take a break from the crime noir in California and classic crime, mostly from England, I have been reading over my last few own personal Sabbaths and went to Florida with Tim Dorsey for the sixth in his Serge Storms series, Cadillac Beach. I think it is just what I needed, a hyperkinetic romp through the streets of Miami with Serge at the wheel as opposed to the slow drive along the coast of California with Lew steering. Maybe with as crazy as the world as is right now, I needed the craziness that Dorsey depicts in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a counterbalance.

Later in the afternoon, I went for a walk in a park near where we live. I ended the night by starting Last Bus to Woodstock, the first in the Inspector Morse series, by Colin Dexter, part of a collection of the first three novels in the series. My wife and I have watched much, if not all, of the original TV series and now are making our way through Endeavour on Amazon Prime. I picked up the collection on Google Play Books as part of a deal that wasn’t available on Kindle at the time, but as such, I only can read the collection on my phone. It’s not my first choice of format, but sometimes a reader has to do what a reader has to do.