#802 The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers by Any Hollingsworth

The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers by Any HollingsworthThe Simple Faith of Mister Rogers by Any Hollingsworth

Mister Rogers didn’t generally do interviews, but he decided to grant Any one. Maybe Amy expected a personality that differed from Mister Rogers’ television personality, but what she got was the same Mister Rogers everyone grew up with. A friendship continued after the interview and Amy learned how great Mister Rogers really was.

Letters followed and so did stories. Mister Rogers never wrote a memoir himself, so Amy hopes that this book will serve as something of a biography for him.

Mister Rogers was always a spiritual and sensitive man. He wanted children to know it was ok to feel emotions. He wanted kids to know they were worth something. He took the time to take each child’s request seriously. When a blind girl asked if he fed the fish everyday, because he didn’t always say he fed the fish, he started saying he was going to feed the fish.

He created a world of himself inside The Land of Make-believe. Each puppet seemed to be a different facet of himself.

He taught the author that it was ok to be sad and that it was ok to be quiet. Some of the best things can come from silence.

Ultimately, Mister Rogers had to quit his show and he did for, but several decades of children grew up to his even-toned voice. They learned about emotions and they learned to be better people.

What I liked

I, like seemingly everyone else who got PBS on their bunny ears, admire Mister Rogers. He was a great man. He made an impact on the world in a way that so many people can’t. There are preachers and ministers galore, but it was Mister Rogers, who spoke with a gentle voice, that made an impression on children. Children learned that their feelings mattered. It was ok to be sad. It was ok to be angry. This might be a lesson some people could take to heart these days. We are not ever-cheerful automatons.

This man brought a voice of reason and sanity to more than one generation of children. When crazy was all they knew otherwise, Mister Rogers was a constant. He always put on those shoes and that sweater. He always fed those fish.

What I didn’t like

I really would have liked if this book had been more strictly a biography. I like Any, but it would have been nice to know even more about his life.


Won’t you be my neighbor?

Weigh in

What impact, if any, has Mister Rogers had in your life?

Is Mister Rogers an example of how television can impact our lives positively, in your opinion?

#799 Unplanned by Abby Johnson

Unplanned by Abby JohnsonUnplanned by Abby Johnson

Abby Johnson used to manage a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. She helped with abortions. She helped women into the clinic. She kept protesters away from her patients. She tried to provide the best support she actually could. Abby’s journey at Planned Parenthood started out after she had an abortion herself. She later volunteered at Planned Parenthood and was then hired on full-time. Abby, later went on to have a second abortion.

It wasn’t until after years of working at Planned Parenthood that Abby started to have problems. She had been on speaking terms with all the protesters, actually, not protesters, they were the Coalition for Life that stood outside of Planned Parenthood to offer alternatives to abortion. They could connect pregnant women with adoption services, baby supplies, and all manner of support.

One day, Abby was called in to help with an ultrasound guided abortion. She saw the baby on the ultrasound screen, then she saw as the baby was sucked up by the vacuum. She watched the baby crumple into the tube. This was when Abby had a change of heart. She ultimately quit her job at Planned Parenthood. Quitting a job should be no big deal, but for some reason Planned Parenthood tried to sue Abby for quitting. She was second-handedly accused of distributing patient information, doctor information, and employee information from Planned Parenthood, none of which was true.

Abby now volunteers at the Coalition for Life. She tells women how she used to run the Planned Parenthood clinic and now she stands on the other side of the fence, helping women find ways to keep their babies.

What I liked

I liked having Abby’s perspective from both sides of the argument. She’s a little too “Jesus” for my tastes, but I understand that this is her faith and she’s excited about it. Abortion is one of those grey areas and it’s nice to have a perspective that will recognize that to an extent.

I do feel how Abby feels about this subject. For me, most of the time, you probably shouldn’t get an abortion. I’m glad it’s legal because I don’t want to hear about women dying, in some back alley because they couldn’t get an abortion and had to go to some guy who said he knew how to do an abortion. I’m glad it’s legal, but I’m on the baby side of the fence. It’s a baby and it’s especially a baby after the first trimester. Late-term abortions should not be a thing at all.

What I didn’t like

Abby’s descriptions of abortions are awful, horrifying. I cannot imagine watching an ultrasound of a baby getting sucked into a vacuum. Abby’s description of the process hurt my heart. Abby also told this story about a woman going in for a late-term abortion, at something like thirty-six weeks. That is insanity. That is a baby people. That baby could be born and live a happy life.

I really like the idea of something like Planned Parenthood existing for care and birth control. There should be a place where you can go to get cheap birth control if you cannot afford to go to a regular doctor to get it prescribed. There should be a place where you can receive cheap prenatal care. There should be a place where you can go to get STD testing. All of this should exist. What should not exist is an organization that pushes abortions as their main item. It’s fine if they offer abortions, but too many Planned Parenthood organizations have stated that they don’t really offer other care. Someone needs to fix that. The entire idea of Planned Parenthood was to make planning being a parent, or not being a parent, easier–that means birth control, checkups, condoms, and testing, not abortion after abortion.

The idea of late-term abortion is horrific. I’m sorry, but if a baby can survive outside the womb, which is twenty-two weeks on, then an abortion should not be allowed, unless, there are medical problems which would prevent that baby from surviving or the mother surviving.

I really get abortion, if it’s early on, and you were raped, or it was incest, or it would be medically dangerous, or mentally hazardous, but I don’t get it just because you don’t want to be pregnant. I also get it from the money stand point to an extent. You can’t afford to have a child. I really wish adoption services were a larger part of Planned Parenthood. Why not set people up with services where they can get their healthcare provided for and then find that baby a home? Honestly, I even get the idea of an abortion simply because a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, but that doesn’t mean I agree with abortion under those circumstances.

There was a time in my life, a very short time, that if I had gotten pregnant during that period, that I would have seriously considered having an abortion. I don’t know that I could have ever gone through with it, if it had happened, but it was a serious backup plan, not because I didn’t want children, or because I couldn’t afford it, which I couldn’t, or because I was scared of being pregnant, or because I had medical concerns–it was because of who the father would have been at the time and there was absolutely no way I could have ever stayed tied to him in any way; I knew I couldn’t mentally handle it. I’m glad circumstances never led me to have to make that decision. These days, I wouldn’t consider getting an abortion if I were to get pregnant.

This book just makes me sad.


I don’t know how I feel about Abby’s Coalition or Planned Parenthood entirely, but I’m glad both are there to provide women with what they need, no matter what they choose.

Weigh In

What do you think about Abby’s flip on the matter?

#798 Shine by Jodi Picoult

Shine by Jodi PicoultShine by Jodi Picoult

Ruth’s mama works for a white family. She does all the housework there, then comes home and does all the housework at home. This is how it is. Ruth somehow gets a scholarship to a nearby school, but it’s mainly white. She’s the only black girl there. The girl who lives at the house where Ruth’s mama works is friends with her outside of school, but tries not to pay attention to her at school. Ruth wonders why things are different when they’re alone.

Ruth’s mama tells her that everyone has their uniform. Ruth’s will be school clothes and a rhinestone headband.

What I liked

This story kind of reminds me of The Help in some ways. Ruth is likable.

What I didn’t like

I don’t like the idea of bullying and I don’t like the idea of people being treated differently because of the way they look. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or isn’t, you’re still a person. I think it’s just plain silly that we’ve had so many issues with treating people differently because of the color of their skin. How about get over it? Just treat people like people. Makes sense, right? I feel bad that little girls like Ruth were ever teased and bullied at school because of the color of their skin.


What will Ruth do next?

Weigh In

What do you think about Ruth?

Have you experienced discrimination based on your race, no matter what it may be?

#785 The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

The Art of Asking by Amanda PalmerThe Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

You may know Amanda Palmer as a music artist who plays the piano and sings about all sorts of things in life. You may know her as Neil Gaiman’s wife. If you didn’t know who she was, that’s who she is, but there’s more to Amanda that being a recording artist and wife.

Amanda grew up in a house with a mother who was a computer programmer, which was actually a novelty during Amanda’s childhood. Female programmers were few and far between. Amanda learned how to play the piano. She made friends with a neighbor man. This friendship ultimately lasted her entire life. She started touring and she started making CDs.

Along the way, she had to learn how to ask people for help. Sometimes she needed a place to sleep, or supplies for a concert, or money to put out a new CD, or a keyboard, or props, or just whatever. Amanda learned that if you asked, people were generally willing to help, or to provide.

Later on, Amanda struck up a friendship with Neil Gaiman, of all things. There were a strange mutual attraction, which lasted through a relationship or two, but ultimately Neil and Amanda ended up together, despite their age difference of sixteen years. There were several periods of time that Amanda needed money to pay her employees and Neil offered to help, but Amanda felt weird about it. Meanwhile, her friend Anthony, the neighbor man, was going through cancer treatments, which turned Amanda’s life upside down. Amanda didn’t know why she was having such a hard time taking money from Neil, but she did learn how to accept help when she needed it.

What I liked

I like this idea of asking. Just put it out there. Ask the universe for something and see what happens. I know it can be very difficult to ask for help or ask people anything, for that matter, but sometimes it’s better if we do. I feel like this is a lesson I could take to heart a little more.

I like Amanda. I knew of her through my boyfriend, who listens to her music. I had no idea who she was. I loosely remembered that Neil Gaiman had gotten married, but didn’t equate his wife’s name with anybody in particular. I admire Neil. It stands to reason that anybody Neil associates with is pretty neat.

What I didn’t like

I get where Amanda is coming from with the money thing, although, I think for different reasons than Amanda has. Amanda doesn’t like having her husband give her money for things because she considers herself independent and a feminist; I don’t like taking money from people because I’m afraid they’re going to hold it over my head as a power move. That’s one of the things that sucks about having been in a mentally abusive relationship–it’s difficult to trust people afterwards, even though you want to. You’re scared that every person is going to behave that way.

Maybe one day I can be ok with taking money from people too, just like Amanda.


Can you guys share my site with all your friends and tell them how awesome I am? I thought I’d ask.

Weigh In

Do you find you have trouble asking people for things?

Would you like to be friends with Neil Gaiman?

#778 A Perfect Mess by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman

A Perfect Mess by Eric Abrahamson and David H. FreedmanA Perfect Mess by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman

Is being all neat and organized really all it’s cracked up to be? Are clichés really old hat? This book is not about clichés. It’s about messes and being a messy person. Does being messy really mean you’re less successful than that woman who has the Pinterest board solely dedicated to organizing her spice rack? It turns out that being messy isn’t actually that bad. There’s even scientific evidence to back it up.

Let’s say your house is a bit messy? So what? Do you know where everything is at? Does it work for you? Does it give you more time to do the things you want? If you check, checked, checked those boxes, then there’s no problem. The authors go on to explain that there is a social stigma about being messy. We tend to associate being messy with being unproductive members of society, but get ready for lots of examples of people who were messy and they did just fine, in fact, they’re a lot of really successful people.

People who have their own brand of mess are actually more productive at life than people who don’t. So let’s say you do spend a great deal of time organizing things. Does it ever pay off? Does the time, and money, you put into the organization ever pay off? If you organize something and it saves you lots of time, great! If you organize something and you spend a ton of time looking for your things in the organized stuff and it’s only saving you a few minutes, was it worth it to spend the time and money to organize it in the first place? Questions and more questions.

The authors then go on to talk about more aspects of life that people try to neaten up, like education. Teachers have said a great deal of their time is spent on trying to get children to adhere to rigid learning structures rather than learning the actual lessons. This model is compared to an education model where children learn at their own pace and learn what they’re interested in that day. They do fine, in fact, they do very well.

People spend a lot of time,  and money, agonizing over being more organized, but really, does your label container need a label that says it’s a label container?

What I liked

This is a self-help book after my own heart. I am not a messy person, but I’m not a neat person either. If you walked into my house, right now, right this minute, you would find several cloth napkins on my couch, a space heater in the middle of the living room, five coats on one of my papasan chairs, and three empty soda cans on the table beside where I’m sitting right now. My house isn’t a total disorganized mess, but it’s organized in a way that makes sense to me, albeit much more organized than some people. I guess you could describe it as organized chaos, but maybe a degree or two removed from that, because I certainly do have organization systems. My spice drawer, although not alphabetized, is pretty freaking sweet.

I do think we place too much emphasis on this extreme organization trend. I don’t need a thousand dollars worth of stuff from Ikea to organize my socks, or whatever. If you’re spending a thousand dollars on stuff from Ikea to organize your socks, you’ve got way too many socks. You know, all these labels and fancy shoe containers are nice, but is it really worth the money and time spent on it? I totally get having trouble finding something in something that you’ve “organized.” I really don’t care if you come in my living room and see that I have five coats on a papasan chair. I switch them out and use them often, so why shouldn’t they be on my papasan chair?

There are a lot more things I could say about this book, but it does resonate with me. Life doesn’t have to be organized down to the second. Sometimes you can just do things when you feel like doing them and your house doesn’t have to be the day-dream of a professional Pinterest organizer with OCD.

I also loved the bit about education. I think it’s true. I don’t think we have to have structure environments to learn and work in. Right now, I work in an open-plan office and I listen to audio books all day. Between code testing, I read articles, or lists. It’s not organized, but I’m still productive. Listening to books and reading lists keeps me from getting bored with my job.

What I didn’t like

I tend not to like the condescending tone that self-help books all seem to have, but other than that, I can’t think of a lot I didn’t like about this one.


What if I told you that it was ok to leave stuff on the dining room table?

Oh man, my ex-husband would be ticked at that one. He would complain about stuff being on the dining room table, but put stuff there himself and he also wouldn’t clean it, but he had to complain about me putting mail there, or my purse. Makes perfect sense… not.

True story–my ex would reprimand me for having a messy mail cubby, but at the same time the room he hung out in was a disaster. There was stuff everywhere. You could hardly open the door, which he put on backward, and then stole when he moved out. I promise, this is true. Apparently, having a messy mail cubby determines the worth of your soul or something, oh well. Yes, he really stole the door, just in case you were wondering.

Weigh In

Messy? Yeah or Nay?

Do you find that you judge people harshly, or unfairly, for being less organized than yourself?