I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised with On with The Butter by Heidi Herman. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed her book.
Let me explain why I was so impressed. There’s ton of books out there with lists of things to do and how to keep yourself occupied.
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Heidi’s approach was unique and different. For myself, I look for something easy to read, that’s interesting and informative.
First of all, she’s downright entertaining. Her light hearted style was captivating making it a “page turner” for me. She accomplished this through personal stories of her many adventures.
Secondly, it was informative and chock full of inspirational ideas. Practical ways to add some zest and excitement to your life. At the end of each chapter was a “challenge checklist” encouraging you to try something new.
Finally, it was just the right length with 15 chapters. Excluding the resource section, this totaled 222 pages in length. Perhaps more importantly, the page layout and text size were perfect for these aging eyes.
As an added benefit, it’s thought provoking and will be one of those books I keep handy. Let me share a few my thoughts on how her insights applied to me and why I so enjoyed it so much.
Chapter One - Just Say Yes
The first chapter starts off with “opportunities are endless” and all we need to do is say yes. As she points out “playing life by ear can be beneficial for our health and happiness”.
Unexpected and spontaneous decisions can be fun and enrich our daily lives.
Heidi mentions “planned spontaneity” allowing ourselves extra time. Instead of rushing on an errand, allow ourselves an extra cushion of time. When something interesting arises, then we have the option of seeing what it’s all about.
One of her stories was stopping off after seeing a sign for wine tasting. Apparently, it was one of those unforgettable experiences all too easily missed if she hadn’t taken a chance.
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut, becoming resistant to trying anything new. Unfortunately, we may not even know what we’re missing out on.
I know I’ve been guilty of this. A few years back, on a Caribbean cruise, our ship docked in Guatemala. One of the things we enjoy is learning more about each country and experiencing a bit of their culture.
At this port, we had nothing planned and went ashore for a little shopping. Our friends noticed a local with a van offering a full day of sightseeing for only $20.
With only a couple of seats left, did we want to join? I guess we weren’t feeling particularly adventurous that day as we politely declined. Unlike your typical ship excursion, this was a native Guatemalan proudly sharing his country.
They saw incredible waterfalls, dense jungle, and learned about the people and their culture. As they wound their way inland, they finally arrived at his small village.
Seeing the church and the school his children attended. Then invited into his home for a traditional meal of enchiladas. Our friends raved for days how this was the highlight of their entire cruise!
If only we’d said yes.
Chapter 2 - Use Innovation
“The tools are at your fingertips” refers to how technology is changing how we connect with each other. Change isn’t always easy and it’s only natural to resist it. In my mind, it’s a double-edged sword.
I sometimes wonder if it makes our lives easier or just more complicated. Although Heidi doesn’t address the impact of the pandemic, it’s forcing all of us to more fully embrace technology.
Work from home is one example. Some love it while others hate it. Regardless, this will likely become the new normal in many organizations.
Online shopping has been a growing trend. Companies like Amazon and Shopify enable comparing numerous products, getting the best price, and even next day delivery.
During these troubled times, almost everything is now being purchased over the Internet. Times are a changing and many, smaller retail businesses won’t survive.
Even groceries, who would have ever thought we’d be purchasing those online? I recall placing our first order. Not only confusing to navigate all the selections, it took way longer than just popping into the store.
Of course, with the rising spread of COVID, we wanted to reduce our risk of exposure. One of the drawbacks is increased risk of social isolation.
Getting out and interacting with others is good for us. Even using video conferencing to keep in touch with family and friends isn’t quite the same thing as getting together.
The good news is vaccines will soon be available. The world has we know it has changed and will likely be vastly different than way it was. We either adapt or be left behind.
Chapter 6 - Keep Learning
Learning new skills, hobbies, and interests keeps us young at heart. It turns out stimulating the mind has further benefits such as improved memory, problem-solving skills, and even slowing mental decline.
On with The Butter discusses many options of having fun while learning new things. The breadth and depth of her ideas were impressive.
What to do is an area many retirees feel stymied. In fact, our Ultimate Guide of Things to Do when Retired mirrored many of her suggestions.
I found her concepts thought provoking and how they applied to my life. It triggered memories of my mother’s passion for art.
She was a skilled amateur artist in water colors, pastel, and oil painting. Below is one of my mother’s paintings and proudly displayed in our home.
I won’t share the full story of young Shannon playing hockey in the basement. The day he inadvertently shot a hockey puck through one of her pride and joys. Needless to say, things didn’t go well for our budding hockey star.
My mother taught at the local art club for many years. Something she looked forward to every week. As much as she enjoyed painting, I suspect the comradery and social interaction meant even more to her.
On with The Butter - My Conclusion
In full disclosure, we received a free copy from the publisher. As you can imagine, we felt highly flattered to do our first book review. Other than receiving a copy, we’re not being compensated by the author/editor in any other way.
I really enjoyed and highly recommend it. The only fault might be the timing as we’re in the midst of a second wave. Clearly, this limits our activities for at least a little while longer.
A more positive view is to consider this book a “reset” as it will soon pass. This is the opportunity to redefine how you choose to “Keep Moving, Keep Doing, Keep Living”.
If you'd like a copy for your reading pleasure, you can pick up a copy of "On with The Butter" at Amazon.