life Reading


May 29, 2024

I have been thinking a lot about choices lately. How we can do A LOT, but not everything. Splurge on some things, but not everything. Pursue some goals in a given time frame, but not all of them. Watch some shows / read some books / visit some dream destinations — but not all of them.

Choices are hard. I think part of settling into your 40s (as I am definitely doing!) is recognizing the finitude of things and becoming conscious of these choices, and at peace with the fact that they must be made.

(As I discussed in my recent bday BLP episode, one of the reasons I feel planning is so important is that it is a process that helps us make more intentional choices — so that we can actively decide what we want, and avoid life just kind of happening to us.)

((Now that I think about it, Piglet — which I finished yesterday — was also a book about choices, and may have spurred this line of thinking. It was dark and uncomfortable to read but on reflection I am glad to have read it.))

Current & common choices in my mind (big and very small):

Open up an app vs read or do something else

Which books to add to my summer reading list

Whether to buy a 3rd pair of scrubs to round out my self-imposed work uniform collection or save the money for something else

How to help the kids navigate screen time over the summer

Where we should go for future (ie 2025) family trips

How will we (and should we?) adjust our childcare arrangements as the kids get bigger and more self-sufficient

Whether to try for different clinical days (vs the current MWF) in 2025

Which podcast to listen to at any given time

. . .


  • Reply jennystancampiano May 29, 2024 at 8:00 am

    Yes, choices are hard, because when you choose one thing, you’re letting something else go. I want to do it all!!! But if you don’t choose, then you end up doing nothing.
    So this is totally random, but I was listening to the latest BLP episode and I had a great idea for you- you should design your own planner!!!!!!!!! I mean, like for real, that you could sell. Instead of the Erin Condren, people will be talking about the “Sarah Hart-Unger.” Have you ever thought about this?

    • Reply Erin May 29, 2024 at 10:06 am

      Seconding the idea of a SHU planner!!! Would totally buy one!

  • Reply gwinne May 29, 2024 at 8:11 am

    First, per Jenny above…yes, would love to see a SHU planner!

    I appreciate the question here about choices in general, as well as the particulars you’re thinking through. It seems that there are two types (?) of choices above, one of which is largely a binary (yes/no) and the other more open ended. Perhaps that’s what you mean by the scale above (small vs. big) but I’m not sure I even think about the latter as a “choice” but an issue to think through (to be clear….this is just me thinking about this issue for myself!). To be more concrete, with an example for my own life: should we go to New York this summer (yes/no) was a fairly easy decision to make. The entire planning process (what dates, which hotel, what activities) involves MANY small choices with many possibilities that requires coordination with others and a great deal of thought. Sorting some of this out is on my list of things to do today 🙂

  • Reply Elisabeth May 29, 2024 at 8:16 am

    I 100% think you should round out your scrub “collection.” You work three days a week in-office, so having three days of scrubs feels like the perfect match. Since you listed it, I assume that means you feel two pairs aren’t quite enough. I say go for it!

    • Reply coreebrownswan May 29, 2024 at 10:36 am

      Agreed. My son wears a uniform to school and we have a week’s worth.

  • Reply Noemi May 29, 2024 at 3:14 pm

    I absolutely agree that planning helps us be more intentional in our choices. When I was younger and hated making hard choices I would tell myself that making a wrong choice was better than “decision via indecision.” That helped me a lot, naming that idea of “decision via indecision,” and recognizing that by not making a choice you are actually choosing something, usually the status quo or what you feel is inevitable. Once I recognized that by failing to decide you are still making a choice for something it was a lot easier for me to actively choose. Planning makes “decision via indecision” a lot easier to avoid, and I’m always trying to avoid it.

  • Reply Grateful Kae May 29, 2024 at 3:53 pm

    Yep, I have a lot of constant decisions and things rolling around in my head all the time too. Many of them are often sort of household related- maybe not even “decisions” exactly, but things that we could or could not do, depending. Or the decision is more around WHEN we should prioritize certain things. For example… 1) should we take down the old broken down swing set and plant a tree there instead? (Answer= yes, but that’s a whole Thing and also requires research into where to get the tree/$$ to pay for the tree/ who is planting the tree?/disposing of the swing set/who is manually taking the thing apart… etc.. 2) When am I going to ever clean out my storage room? Been trying to do this for like, 5 years. How can I ever find a big chunk of time to make this happen, without impacting my vacation days for travel! And when I do finally do it.. what do we do with all that stuff? Should we have a garage sale? (bleh, probably NO. But we have oodles of beautiful/ like new kids clothes that I feel like should be worth something and struggle with just giving ALL of it away… ) Some stuff requires other decisions/investigation like… how do I get rid of a big box of fluorescent tube lights left from the previous owner? 3) What should we do for our travel next year? When exactly? 4) How much enforcing of reading or other activities should I be doing with the boys now at their ages? How much screen time is too much now that they’re older/ playing with friends a lot….etc. Anyway, you get the idea.

    When I worked in the hospital 3 days/week, I had 3 scrub bottoms that I liked a lot (black, grey and navy) and then 4 scrub tops that mixed and matched. I had a couple “backup” older tops too in case I got in a bind. I liked the amount I had- wasn’t so many that I had to make lots of choices, but I could mix and match enough that I didn’t feel like I was always just wearing the exact same thing.

  • Reply Lana May 30, 2024 at 7:06 pm

    Ugh, choices and decisions! They are so tough for me, though I want to believe I’ve become more skilled over time. I sometimes feel like I have an easier time with big decisions than with small ones (e.g. “should we have kids or not?” vs. “should I work on task A or task B?” or “do I wear these jeans or these pants today?”) I would prefer the opposite but I suspect that sometimes, the big decisions involve so many different pros, cons and uncertainties that it’s impossible to dissect them all, vs. debating the pros and cons of ordering one salad over another. I just began reading the book “Decisive” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath over the weekend – bought it on Kindle because I was getting frustrated while choosing weekend activities to do with kids. And I agree that planning and choosing ahead of time is key – it helps minimize the emotional aspect that often leads to undesirable choices.

    • Reply Kate May 31, 2024 at 5:45 am

      If you want another book about making decisions I recommend “Thinking in Bets” by Annie Duke. She’s a former professional poker player and it’s about decision making frameworks and strategies. I found it really useful.

  • Reply San June 6, 2024 at 12:00 am

    Oh man, I agree, choices I hard. I think about that a lot (and I often have a lot of indecision because I cannot make up my mind). You’re right that part of settling into our 40s is recognizing the finitude of things. I catch myself more often thinking about what I *really* want from the rest of my life.

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