Wandering with a Purpose

Category: Lifestyle (Page 1 of 2)

US Presidents: A Reading List

It’s funny how interests and passions show themselves at a young age, but sometimes are not appreciated until later in life. In seventh grade, we had to take an assessment for various subjects and my top score was in history. I remember being upset about that because what can you do with history? If I had scored higher in math or writing, those at least had a practical application. I enjoyed history class, but I didn’t give it a lot of thought until after my first time abroad when I went to London in my sophomore year. It was here that history came to life!

Even though I will not have a career that is centered around history, and I think it’s hard to make a case for most people to major in the subject, I think history is a fantastic topic to study. Over time, I have come to appreciate that I can truly enjoy and experience what I spend time learning. The two areas I enjoy the most are American history and the history of the British monarchy. I love to read biographies and learn about life events through the eyes of leaders who impacted the world at that time. It isn’t surprising then that I added “Read a biography of every US President in order of term” to my list of life goals back when I was 20. I told a friend about this when I was 26, and she ended up buying me my first book on George Washington for my 27th birthday. I finally got started in April 2013.

My American Journey

Over the next 7 years, I had a fascinating journey learning about my country’s 232+ year history from the perspective of 44 different men. Each one has a unique perspective and their background gives insight into their decision making and handling of that moment in time. In my travels, I visit their birthplaces, homes, and libraries where I try to envision their daily activities and lives. It has become a hobby, and I am very appreciative of these men who sacrificed their personal independence to lead our country. In reading their stories, I do believe each person did what he thought was best at the time.

It is also possible that historians and authors tend to fall in love with their subjects while they research them, but I think that is because some people are misunderstood and once you learn their story, it gives you an appreciation of their decision-making process – even if you personally don’t like their decisions. I think this is how historians have come to view Hoover’s and Nixon’s legacy over time despite the initial reaction in popular culture.

My journey started with George Washington and ended with George W. Bush’s memoirs. As soon as President Obama publishes his memoirs, I will pick up with that. I said before that I read America’s history through the eyes of 44 men – the 44th I included was Confederate President Jefferson Davis. While not a president of the Union, he led half of the country through the Civil War and that is still an important perspective. I’m really glad I added that one. Teddy Roosevelt is my favorite, so I read all three books in Edmund Morris’s trilogy.

Selection and Evaluation

I selected books that were well researched and had generally strong reviews. Sometimes, I would get stuck and would default to the American Presidents’ Series edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Sean Wilentz. Over time, as I read more, I was attracted to books by certain historians. Sometimes I chose an option because an audiobook was available (I listen to books when I run), other times it may be because I could borrow it for free from the library. All-in-all, I think I had a good assortment of books. I wanted to list them for people doing a similar journey to see what someone else chose to read.

How then do you evaluate a book? I tracked everything on GoodReads and was good about writing book reviews at the beginning, but then I stopped because I couldn’t focus long enough to provide the necessary detail. I did consistently rate them on the 5-star scale. Unlike fiction, biographies are difficult because are you rating the subject or the research/writing? In the end, I think you do both. It’s unfortunate for the author because some subjects have more documents, journals, and letters; others were given more challenges, which lead to a better story and abundant research. Unfortunately, William Henry Harrison will never have a single biography that is equal to a mediocre-quality biography on Theodore Roosevelt.

Books I Read

REVOLUTIONARY WAR
  • Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
  • John Adams by David McCullough
  • Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
  • James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney
  • The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness by Harlow Giles Unger
  • John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life by Paul C. Nagel
  • Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands
The Forgotten or Unknown (America Moves West)
  • Martin Van Buren: The American Presidents’ Series by Ted Widmer
  • The Life and Times of William Henry Harrison by Samuel Jones Burr
  • A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent by Robert W. Merry
  • Zachary Taylor: The American Presidents’ Series by John S.D. Eisenhower
  • Millard Fillmore: The American Presidents’ Series by Paul Finkelman
  • Franklin Pierce: The American Presidents’ Series by Michael F. Holt
  • James Buchanan: The American Presidents’ Series by Jean H. Baker
The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour by William C. Davis
  • The Loyalist: The Life and Times of Andrew Johnson by Jeffrey K. Smith
  • The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace by H.W. Brands
Industrial revolution and the building of america
  • Chester Alan Arthur: The American Presidents’ Series by Zachary Karabell
  • Rutherford B. Hayes: The American Presidents’ Series by Hans L. Trefousse
  • James A. Garfield: The American Presidents’ Series by Ira Rutkow
  • An Honest President: The Life and Presidencies of Grover Cleveland by H. Paul Jeffers
  • Benjamin Harrison: The American Presidents’ Series by Charles W. Calhoun
  • William McKinley: The American Presidents’ Series by Kevin Phillips
  • Theodore Roosevelt trilogy by Edmund Morris
    • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
    • Theodore Rex
    • Colonel Roosevelt
  • The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The World Wars
  • Woodrow Wilson: A Biography by John Milton Cooper, Jr.
  • Warren G. Harding: The American Presidents’ Series by John W. Dean
  • Coolidge by Amity Shlaes
  • Herbert Hoover: The Life and Presidencies by William E. Leuchtenburg
  • FDR by Jean Edward Smith
  • Truman by David McCullough
  • Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith
“Modern” Day
  • An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963 by Robert Dallek
  • Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Richard Nixon: The Life by John A. Farrell
  • Ambition, Pragmatism, and Party: A Political Biography of Gerald R. Ford by Scott Kaufman
  • Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter by Randall Balmer
  • Reagan: The Life by H.W. Brands
My Lifetime
  • 41: A Portrait of my Father by George W. Bush
  • Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush by Jon Meacham
  • My Life by Bill Clinton
  • Decision Points by George W. Bush

That’s it. Those are the books I read, but history is not finished. As time continues to pass, I will add biographies for the people who serve as president during my lifetime as time continues to pass. Eventually, President Obama will publish his memoirs, as will President Trump. What is interesting to think about is that I will be old before enough time passes for current and future presidents to be studied like the individuals I have finished reading. History is an ongoing adventure that doesn’t end – it is lived.

2020 Goals – Creating Accountability

It’s hard to believe 2020 will be here in a few weeks. Every year the time flies faster, and I don’t know where it went. There are so many goals I want to accomplish, but I get distracted by the demands of work and spend more time on quadrant 1 & 3 urgent tasks than quadrant 2 important items. (If you haven’t read The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey then you need to make that a goal this year!)

First Things First Quadrant
Time Management Technique from First Things First by Stephen Covey. The image is taken from Wikipedia.

But how do I stay focus on the important and not urgent items? What are those for me? That is my goal for 2020. Historically, I have created checklists (I love checklists!) for each year to guide me and give me a purpose to the year. Sometimes those lists have been a little too long or complicated so I can’t accomplish everything. This year, I am going to go back to making a checklist and then use my blog to hold me accountable for achieving those things. 2020 will be used as a stepping stone to achieving the bigger goals I have for my life.

2020 Checklist
  • Complete the Dopey Challenge
  • Lose 30 pounds
  • PR the Chicago Marathon
  • Visit Australia (continent 5!)
  • Publish 4 posts/month on The Rosy Wanderer
  • Complete Google Analytics, Google AdWords certifications
  • Book African safari for 2021
  • Increase net worth by $30,000
  • Read 31 books
Understanding Goal Setting

The difficult part of the above checklist is that these are all lag measures – I have to implement different behaviors, habits, and mindset to achieve these 2020 goals. Health and general wellness have always been a challenge for me. Even though I am excited for Dopey, I didn’t execute my training plan well. Staying accountable is important – to my diet, to my budget, and to my commitments. In order for me to accomplish these goals, I have to find a way to hold myself accountable. That is the key everyone needs to figure out in their life.

Gretchen Rubin, 4 Tendencies

Gretchen Rubin has four quadrants to describe our tendencies. I am an obliger, which means I’m worried about letting other people down but not myself. I wish I wasn’t like that, but I am. As an obliger, I view other’s requests as urgent even though they may be unimportant or even not urgent, but I am trying to please others. This then reprioritizes my goals for the day.

Even though I wish I didn’t prioritize other people, I do. For me to be successful, I need to use this tendency to hold myself accountable for achieving my goals. I am going to share my successes and setbacks here to keep me accountable externally.

For me to be successful, I need to plan out the lead measures required for me to accomplish these goals and find ways to make sure others hold me accountable for these behaviors. Or I need to make myself a priority in my life and stop worrying about what other people think! But it is probably a better bet to set up systems to play to my natural tendencies.

Here goes nothing! Looking forward to 2020!

Happy 2019!

I’ve heard a lot of talk about the difference between resolutions and goals on various podcasts and articles. I’m someone who usually makes a “Year Of” checklist to encourage myself to do new things. I was committed to this from 2008-2010 or so, but the last two or three years I didn’t even make a checklist. Something needs to push me forward and take me to the next level in my personal and professional life. I didn’t make a checklist this year, but I decided instead to come up with some BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Why not try to think of something to propel me and push me to the next level?

MY 2019 GOALS

  • Be in the best shape of my life
  • Pay off half of my house
  • Get a comment on The Rosy Wanderer
  • Create a “new normal”

Well…10 days in, and it wasn’t going well. I tried to find motivation, but my schedule wasn’t allowing me to focus.

A month and 4 days in, and I feel like I’m getting back on the horse. I’ve had two good days of exercise which really does help clear your mind. I’m trying to get my to do list under control and in a way I can process everything.

I mean, these are big goals! It has been too cold for me to go run (I’m a wimp), so I have been down on myself. I found a bootcamp the is, thankfully, inside just in time for the weather to get better. Time is of the essence now is training for the NYC half, which will take me well on my way to accomplishing goal 1. In all reality, if I start with my fourth goal – to create a “new normal” that will make everything else fall into place.

Have you ever been stuck? What did you do to move forward?

I know I can do this. In addition to going to Burn Boot Camp, I am also trying to implement:

  • Miracle Morning (love this, and I HIGHLY recommend the book!)
  • Listening to podcast
  • Connecting with friends and positive influences
  • Keeping the TV off! (Although, I am allowing myself to watch Colton’s season of The Bachelor which I am enjoying after not watching for two seasons)

I appreciate any other motivational tips you have!

Focus: A Simple Start

Focus is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I have so many things that I want to do that I end up not doing anything. If anyone were to look at my to-do list, they would laugh. I use the Reminders app on iPhone which consists of 23 lists. Within those lists has tens if not a hundred items that need to be done. The Rosy Wanderer is one such list with over 100 ideas. But to sit down and write? It’s not about time; I have the time. I can make the time. It’s focus. It’s actually sitting down in front of my computer and zoning everything else on my to-do lists out. But today, August 16, 2018, something has to change. I have too many things I want to do that I need to do. I’ve spent the last year and a half listening to podcasts, reading books, and reading blogs. Other people are making things happen, and I want to be one of them. I have so much to share, and I’m not able to do that when I silo myself off and just put information in my head. No, I need to focus on ACTION!

My steps for action:

1. Make a comfortable workspace:

working on my 13″ MacBook Pro is okay in some situations, but I need a dedicated space. I can’t think on the couch. Even in college, I needed to sit in the library or at a desk. I dragged my feet for a year, but today I finally purchased a desktop monitor. Since I spent the money, I need to get the most out of it! Already, I feel great sitting at my new workspace. It’s surrounded by pictures and my list of goals.

2. Focus on goals:

I’m not sure about other people, but I cannot think day-to-day. I need a bigger motivation, and I lose track of this often. Then I get caught in daily monotony without an escape. Why am I running 3 miles at 6 am? To complete a half marathon. To be healthy. Why am I not buying a snack? Because this money will add up overtime, and I am working on getting to FI. I need to keep my bigger goals at the forefront of my mind so I can make good little decisions throughout the day. By thinking about the day-to-day and not my goals, I let a majority of my 20s go to waste. I could have done so much more!

3. Structure your day

I’ve always been big on structure and having time to dilly-dally in the mornings. I know the morning is personally my most productive time and when I have the best ability to focus. I want to share a podcast I listened to recently about the Miracle Morning. It was on the Bigger Pockets podcast where Hal Elrod and David Osborn were interviewed about their new book. I am on the waitlist at the library for this book, but this podcast gave a great overview of their theory in how to structure your morning to reach a “Level 10” life. It is the SAVERS (Silence/Prayer/Meditation, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing). Affirmations have been helpful for me, thus far, but I’m really bad at visualization. I need clearer goals. I’m sure I’ll have more to come on this.

4. Keep it simple

That’s it. Those are my focuses. My fourth item is to stop adding things. At this point, this is what I need to focus on. If I get too many things, then I’ll cause problems for myself. There is a lot I want to add in regards to diet, exercise, a planner, and household organization, but I can’t yet. These four things are my focuses for now.

Time to make it happen!

Giving Up TV for 6 Weeks!?

Even though the churches I go to don’t really give up things for lent, I do for the challenge. I’ve done it most years. I always pressure myself to do something meaningful, but because I don’t plan, I usually end up giving up food. Lately, I have been trying to clear my mind and improve my focus, so what a better thing than to force myself to give up TV! I don’t watch a ton of it, but when I do, I watch trash TV – The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, or Vanderpump Rules. Nothing that improves your mind. I do watch Shark Tank and The Profit, but the others had been creeping in too much.

So, now, 6 week laters, how do I feel?

Yeah, I wish I could say “GREAT! I was so productive and accomplished a ton of projects on my plate,” but I can’t. I didn’t finish posts for my blog, do any crafts, and did little “studying” for web development. I did, however read a lot. Even though I read a few fictions, I spent most of my time reading about personal finance and listening to podcasts. For anyone who hasn’t read Rich Dad Poor Dad, add it to the top of your reading list.

Even though I wasn’t productive, I feel really motivated. I think detaching myself from crappy shows

 

(sorry to all of those people who make those shows), allowed me to put more positive thoughts and ideas in my mind. I realize 6 weeks is extreme for a lot of people, but why not try 1 week. It makes you find other things to entertain yourself. The real question is, will I go back to watching TV? I’m actually leaning to not doing it for the next week or so. Time to find a healthy balance…

Now Schatzi on the other hand thought this was a terrible decision never to be repeated. Even though she is a dog, she loves to watch TV and gets bored without it.

Happy Easter! Here is to new beginnings and improvements – for me and Schatzi!

 

Summer Reading List – 2017 Edition

Summer is a time for things to slow down. Every year since I was a kid (probably 9 years old), I’ve had a summer reading list. Whether it was a challenge at the local library or one assigned for school, I love to read through a list of books at the pool or on the boat. Many of these books are books I’ve wanted to read for awhile but now I’m making it happen! It may be heavy reading for some weekend getaways, but this is what I’ve been focusing on this first quarter and need some inspiration for new ideas. I’ve already finished two and liked them so much I bought them (I usually check out books at the library). The rest will help me research and prepare for future wanderings.

1. The 4-Hour Workweek

Author Tim Ferriss updated this book in 2009, and the only reason I had to put it down is to have time to process his ideas. I don’t agree with everything he says but love the concept. My main disagreement is believing one can be an effective and inspirational leader at their company without being present, but other than that, he has great suggestions for improving efficiencies so you can spend time doing other things. I originally rented this book from the library but bought it because it actually makes for a good guide. If you want to do more by having more time – make sure to check out this book!

2. Never Eat Alone

I’m an introvert and do not feel comfortable in large social situations. This book has been recommended to me at a dozen of training sessions, and after reading it, I understand why! Keith Ferrazzi is a master networker and has documented many of his practices he has used to help leverage his career forward. I also bought this one since it is a good guide with actionable steps. I would recommend this book to anyone – regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert.

3. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

This is my third time reading Steven Covey’s classic, and I believe there is a reason why it has been reprinted so many times. If you haven’t read this book, you must do so. I get new ideas each time I read it and find it very motivational.

4. The Millionaire Next Door

This is on my list since it is recommended in many money blogs and from financial experts. Essentially, Thomas Stanley studied the behaviors of millionaires to determine what these individuals have in common – and the traits are more common than what would be expected! Since I am working to financial independence so I can travel more, this is on the top of my list.

5. Finishing Eisenhower in War and Peace

I love history and have been reading biographies of US presidents. I started with George Washington at the end of 2013, and am about to finish my audiobook on Eisenhower. Jean Edward Smith has carefully documented Eisenhower’s career through the army, WWII, and his presidency. I believe Eisenhower is one of the best leaders our country has had and learning the details of his life bring it to color. I visited his birthplace in Abilene, KS, and it is a great example of the American dream. A farm boy from a relatively poor family can work hard and become the leader of the Allied forces and President of the United States.

6. Born to Run

One of my running friends recommended this as motivation. Christopher McDougall researches a tribe in Africa and inspires anyone who wants to run. Don’t know much of the details, but I am looking forward to the motivation.

7. Turn Right at Machu Picchu

My next big travel adventure is to hike to Machu Picchu. I enjoy reading and researching so before big adventures, I need to research. Mark Adams, the author, was interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts, Travel with Rick Steves. This is his adventure in re-creating the original discovery of Machu Picchu.

Well, that makes for my summer! What about you? I love cheesy beach reads if anyone has suggestions.

Welcome 2017!

The New Year is exciting because it’s a chance to look forward and see what is going to happen in life. I plan a list of goals, look at my calendar, and try to make a plan to accomplish it all. It’s also a chance to reflect to see what went well in 2016 and where you can improve.

One of my main focus areas this year is personal finance. I do a relatively good job, but I could be doing much more. The last several months, I’ve been reading about how people saved a million dollars in their 30s, retired early, and achieved strong financial independence. I want and can be one of those people.

Get Motivated

Hopefully, these will inspire those of you with a financial resolution this year. I’m also addicted to the Dave Ramsey podcast. I’ve listened to hours of it over the last week. It’s what I needed to kick myself into gear. I agree with a lot of what he says, but I can’t imagine eliminating my credit card. I always pay mine off, so in my world it’s okay. Security for online shopping and rewards points are too important for me.

This is a hard change to make – it will significantly affect two areas I enjoy – eating out and traveling. If I make the sacrifices now, I think it will have a large payback later on. I do have three major trips and events this month and February, but I’ll do what I can to get started before then. This will be a wandering all on its own.

So, cheers! Bring it on 2017! Until then, happy wandering!

Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving! Besides delicious food, this day is a great reminder of what we have to be thankful for. No matter how busy things are or how stressed you can be, Thanksgiving is a chance to slow down and reflect on what is really important in life. Of course, family and friends are at the top of the list, but the other things that I am blessed with this year are…

Puppies

The loves of my life. I love them to pieces. I am also thankful that all of my foster pups found good, loving homes.

Best Friends

The Cubbies

Go Cubs GoFinally, after 108 years, the Cubs broke the curse and are World Series CHAMPIONS!! I mean, no more needs to be said. #gocubsgo

America

Even though there is a lot of divisiveness in our country now, I hope everyone remembers what a wonderful place we call home. Our freedoms are unmatched anywhere else in the world. If we work together and do our parts, we can continue to make America the best place in the world. I am incredibly proud of my country and thankful to all of the men and women who serve to protect us.

North Carolina

My home and favorite state. I love our mild fall days. I love that the color on the trees is peaking for Thanksgiving day. Whether spending time in the city or the country, NC has so much to offer. Blue skies to make you smile for days.

Nice view for a run
Running

Can’t believe I’m saying that, but last year I was recovering from a stress fracture. This year, I completed a half marathon and just finished running a Turkey Trot. I don’t necessarily love running, but I am so grateful to be able to do it. Some people don’t have the ability to do this, so I am appreciative of being able to walk and run.

 

Happy Thanksgiving to you! Enjoy the day with your friends, family, and delicious food. Also, did I forget to mention how thankful I am for pumpkin pie?! I must go get some now!

 

Foster Pup – Luigi

“Oh, Luigi.” I’ve been saying this several times a day for the last month. Exactly a month today, actually. I thought he would have found his fur-ever home well before this point. I mean, he’s cute as a button (I call him Buttons sometimes).

img_1862They say Luigi is 2-3 years old, but I really think he is younger. He is all puppy. Everything about him is puppy, and if I had that expectation and more patience, it would be adorable. There is a big difference between a puppy and a mature dog, and through this experience with Luigi, it frustrates me that people don’t know the difference. People, if you plan on adopting a puppy please know they want to play and their energy is boundless! Even the cute ones can be crazy!

When Luigi got to our house, his skin was irritated and he had kennel cough (actually passed it on to Schatzi and Amie). It turns out he had a flea allergy, so we had to doctor him up and get him healthy.

Finding a Home

Luigi needs an active home. He loves to be involved in everything in your life. Whether it is going on walks, riding in the car, sitting with you on the couch, I mean, he even swam in the laimg_2022ke to be with me. He didn’t love it, but he didn’t hate it either. The boat on the other hand…he loved the boat. I’ve never had a dog who wants to be a sidekick. It’s the only word I can think of to describe him. Even when he rides in the car, he perches next to you (see picture!) I mean, he is just so darn sweet!

Since he has so much energy, and his previous family didn’t do any training (besides house training), we are working on commands. He is doing well with them. He lays down and stands up now. He’s catching on quickly.

If you or anyone you know is looking for an adorable, sweet-tempered puppy, Luigi is on PetFinder.

But let’s be real, he’s too adorable to not post a bunch of pictures. How can someone not love him?!

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He loves, loves to play with toys. He can’t get enough of them!

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What a boat dog! He loved the wind blowing in his face

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Even puppies need their sleep! It’s tough boating all day. He was too sweet looking…but I woke him up because you should sleep at night.

 

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Just a funny guy

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Luigi loves the furniture! This is one of is favorite places to sit…he even taught Schatzi how to sit like this. Oh dear…

 

 

Back to School – Back to Blogging

So I took an unfortunate hiatus during the end of the summer, but today is the first day back to school, so this is the first day back to the blog! Expect some fun information for trips, new products, and much more! With school back in session, it’s time for learning, cooler weather, and most importantly – football!!

Go, Team, Go!

In the spirit of fall and back to school (my favorite season, I might add), here are some pictures of my favorites supporting our favorite teams!

IMG_0441 IMG_1201 IMG_0274

We’re excited to cheer for our teams this fall! Each weekend we’ll be cheering for the Elon Phoenix, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Carolina Panthers. It’s going to be a great season!

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