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Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to do the Right Things ~Lee Kravitz

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

unfinished business

Unfinished Business is a wonderful autobiography of a man’s life.  It is one of those new life stories that just picks one aspect of the life and then tucks in other pieces of the journey as necessary to complete the picture.  Lee Kravitz is working with the question of what are aspects of his life that he has been ignoring because of current endeavors; which of these items would make the meaning of his life more worthwhile if he gave them some attention and resolution.

He is an admitted workaholic journalist, who had a top of the line position in the powerful eastern seaboard of the USA.  He was married later in life and he was letting his wife do most of the parenting while working hard and long at keeping their finances secure and forthcoming.  Then he was “let go” with a good severance package in the economic downturn.  His wife persuaded him to go to a meditation retreat and with her support he decided to take a year to uncover and complete some of the unfinished business in his life.

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Gail Sheehy begins the foreword, “Lee Kravitz loved his work.  He lived it.  It was not only his identity, it was his demon.  Like many men in high-powered careers, his mind was almost always occupied by his work, even if his body was at home or on vacation.”

Kravitz compiled a list of important connections to remedy in his life and settled on the top ten.  He also wanted to find more time to spend with his children and free up his wife to focus on her own business she was creating.  This top ten seemed as though it was a list that could be completed.

1.Finding a long lost relative
2.Making a condolence call
3.Repaying a long overdue debt
4.Reaching out to a distant friend
5.Letting go of a grudge
6.Seeking spiritual guidance from a mentor
7.Taking the road not taken
8. Healing family wounds
9.Eulogizing a loved one
10.Keeping a promise

My favorite quotes about Kravitz journey came from his mentor, who it turns out just may have been a mentor to me, when I lived in Cleveland, Ohio during my high school years!

“Love takes work.  It demands that you put yourself in the shoes of another person- and understand where that person is coming from – before you speak or act.”

“Love of this sort can be inconvenient, unpleasant, and costly.”      Tony Jarvis

I think we are going to be seeing quite a few more of this style of book in the market place in the near future.  I have dubbed them the Boomer Generation Manuals:  how to change gears and move forward in life as the rules and paradigms change; often written by out of work and what to do next folks.

This book does include a study guide for book groups and a how to start and work on your own UNFINISHED BUSINESS guide.    For more information one can go to the book site and share your own personal stories and get tips on how to get started.

This book was written by a journalist, who has a beautiful command of the English language and uses his words with style and grace.   It is a very nice book to read.   I think it could inspire many individuals to take care of their own UNFINISHED BUSINESS and to connect graciously with their family and friends.  I can envision support groups and study groups gathering around this topic similar to the Voluntary Simplicity Movement

I rate this book 5-Ladybugs

Two more thoughts about this book:  First, I was very happy that I squeezed in three novels between reading the list of self-help books I have been reviewing lately and secondly, I would like to know where Mr. Kravitz is working now after he lost his job and his “take” on ageism in the workplace – as not all of us are going to get good severance packages.

I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury-Walker & Co. publishers and am participating in the TLC Online book tours.    If you purchase this book from my site via Amazon I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

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Have you got some unfinished business that you need to take care of as you age?

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Related Reading:

The Wisdom To Know the Difference
The Courage to Be Free
The Love Ceiling
What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life

The Wisdom To Know The Difference ~Eileen Flanagan

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The Wisdom to Know the Difference cover

I savored every single page of this book.  I knew that from the time of the book’s arrival and the posting date I would not have time to read it twice, which is my usual practice when I am reviewing for someone else.   I was also aware that with a holiday in the middle of my allotted time frame, company and special events, I would need to read with greater care and depth; I would need to be able to put the book down and pick it up again when the opportunities arose.

The book is about discernment and its relationship to CHANGE.  Flanagan’s writing style is easy and detailed as she creates the stages of change, relates anecdotal stories of individuals, and pulls the reader into the words of the historic and religious concepts which are part of the path to spiritual awakening and growth.   The author freely shares her own stories along with the stories of approximately 30 other individuals

The stories and lessons are about everyday moments, not so much about the huge heroic events of the “hero’s” life, rather those daily events which bring about more self-realization and actualization.  The book is about the spiritual changes that humans need  to add meaning and depth to their journey.    Although there are many, many references to the beliefs within a large number of religious traditions, this book is about an individual’s spiritual questing and path.

The book begins with a prayer that is credited to Reinhold Niebuhr, an advocate for social justice and a Protestant theologian, who delivered this prayer in a sermon during World War II

God, give us grace
To accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things that should be changed,
And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Most of us know a more recent variation of these words which is called the Serenity Prayer used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings around the world to work with addictions and behavior changes.

The author says at the start:  “…both serenity and courage are the fruits of learning to trust and let go of fear. For this reason, The Wisdom to Know the Difference is organized around spiritual lessons that can help you live fearlessly:  The Courage to Question; Knowing Yourself; Seeking Divine Wisdom; Shifting Your Perspective; Practicing Loving Acceptance; Letting Go of Outcomes; and finding Wisdom in Community.”

In the middle of reading this book my partner and I were paying off an uncomfortable debt and designing a new budget.  Our discussions were not producing any outcomes we could agree upon and the tensions were rising.  I found myself using the discussion questions at the end of each chapter within the context of our disagreements.   These were outstanding questions for letting go of our hoped for outcomes and in assisting us to truly communicate and accept each others feelings and ideas.

It is the little things that can make a huge difference.   I realized I was hanging onto wanting someone to come in and clean my house, when what would make me feel better and more courageous, would be to figure out how do some traveling and explore communities, people and cultures.  I already have a fine practice of meditative cleaning and I could certainly use some more action and interaction to build my spirit.

I found 31 quotes that I thought were powerful.  I copied them onto 3×5 cards and put them in a stack to read each day before my walk, so I can think on these things as I move.   Here is the one I read this morning:

When you are growing up, you know you are going to transform the world.  You’ll eliminate racism in your lifetime.  You’ll eliminate sexism in your lifetime.  And at some point you look and go, WOW this is still going to be here when I’m gone.  Damn.  I could live, and I could die, and the world would not have transformed in the way that I had hoped.  ~Eileen Flanagan’s Friend

For Wednesday the card says:
“What we can do is try to see each setback or inconvenience as an opportunity to develop wisdom.”

For Friday the card says:
“Father Michael compares collective effort to a rope that is made up of many thin threads that together can pull a ship.  Community is strengthening.”

I am going to read this book again.  I am going to give copies of this book to several friends as gifts.

I believe I enjoyed this book even more because it formed a trilogy of books about change and awakening to inspire one to be their best and live their best life.

The books of the trilogy and my reviews:
The Courage to be Free
The Gifts of Imperfection
The Wisdom to Know the Difference  (this post)

I would rate this book  5-Ladybugs

If you are a person who believes one religion has ALL the RIGHT answers, I do not think you would like this book at all.  The author is quite good at sharing how this spiritual path is part of many religions – the similarities of the spiritual experience.  The author is a practicing Quaker.

I received a copy of this book from TLC book tours in compensation for reviewing this book

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This book is available through Amazon.com via this blog site.  If you order this book via this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

The full book tour Schedule

Eileen Flanagan’s Website

Looking forward to your comments and words of wisdom about change and spiritual quests.  Do you have some special practices that give you courage?   When do you know when to “let go”?  Do other people’s stories assist you in discovering your wisdom?