23.3.14

Buying Books Outside the US

Book Depository Free Shipping World Wide
The book Depository logo
A while back I wrote a tip for getting money transferred between an American Paypal account and an Israeli Bank account, I have decided to add an other tip for lifehacking in Israel. Since moving to Israel a few years ago one of the biggest challenges that I have been facing has been getting good books to read. There is always the option to borrow books from friends but on occasion I have found that there are books that my friends and people around me just aren't reading. That's when I would turn to good old Amazon and order books to my parents house in America and wait for someone to bring them in for me.

The problem with the Amazon method was that it could take weeks or months to get my books and this was time that I just couldn't wait so I went on a mission to find a different way to get my books delivered. When I told a friend at school about the situation she told me that she has been using this site for a while that offers free shipping to Israel as well as many other countries around the world called Book Depository. So figuring what could be the harm I signed up for an account and placed an order for a relatively cheap book (just in case it never arrived I wouldn't feel like I had lost money one it).  Sure enough the shipping was free and the book came in perfect condition!

The service:

I placed my order around new years and according to their site it was supposed to take a little more than 14 business days to get to me. I received an email confirming that the order had been placed and the next day an email letting me know that the book was en-route. This was really exciting, I marked the calendar for the day that it should arrive so that I would be on the look out for it.  When the day that it was supposed to arrive came around it wasn't in the mail, I waited a few days and still no package, so I emailed the Book Depository and asked them where it was. I was surprised by how quickly they responded and they told me that if the book hasn't arrived yet it was probably lost in the mail. They offered my two courses of option, I could get a refund for the book or they could send me a new one on them.

I took them up on the replacement and sure enough 2 weeks later the book was here!  It was a small book so it came in a padded envelope (I have ordered bigger books that come in cardboard) with a bookmark inside. That first book was the only one that has had any issues and since then everything has been arriving on time.

Pricing:

I was impressed by the prices of the book on this site. All the books that I have ordered since joining the service have been at least 10% off some of them more. The books are priced very aggressively and with the free shipping spending $7-10 on a book doesn't seem so bad.

You have the ability to create a wishlist in your account that sets up an alert so when a book that you want drops in price they will send you an email letting you know. This is huge because no other site does this in house, you can set up a tracker like TrackIf that will let you know when a price drops but Amazon isn't going to alert you when a product goes down in price.

 Book Depository also has a newsletter that comes out every few weeks with books that are on sale and things that are trending now. So you can almost always get the book that you want at a very low price.

Other fun features that they have on their site are things like seeing what is hot now, and what people in your area are buying. You can see a live map of the world and see what books people are buying in real time and where they are buying from, they have competitions on the site that you can win all kinds of goodies.

When it comes down to it their service is the Zappos of Books.

** please know that the links in this post are affliate links, if you do not wish to use affilliate links you can access the site from here.**

21.7.13

All For The Best

Everyday coming home from class I take the same bus and pass the same bridge with the words “Everything is for the best” written in graffiti on the side. A while back I had been reading “The Zen Art of Happiness” and one of the first messages or lessons in the book was talking about seeing everything that befalls you to be for the best. There are many times when I can look at things and say yeah if I didn’t make that choice then X, Y, and Z wouldn’t have happened. At the same time you can look at bad things that are happening and just feel like the sky is falling.

I always get the feeling that when it rains it pours. Take for example a few weeks ago my watch battery died. Perfectly natural thing to happen, I’ve been wearing for over a year and this was bound to happen. Saturday night I go out to get a new battery and life is good again. On the following Friday my boyfriend and I go to the beach where my watch get a little wet (okay it kind of took a swim) and everything seemed fine. Saturday morning my watch is no longer working. These two events on their own don’t seem all that bad, it was extremely annoying not having a watch for my final exams and getting used to not wearing one, but no reason to feel like the end of the world was coming. Until Monday afternoon when one of my headphones started acting up, where by Wednesday they were dead. Then all of the sudden its like the world is coming to an end. Too many bad things are happening too close together and I no longer know what to do!

I have been working on dialing back my reactions to when the sky is falling. I have a regular habit of listening to the Jillian Micheals podcasts (I’m very behind) and there was one that really felt like it hit home. She was talking about admitting that you have anger in your life and working on controlling and managing it. Ways that she talked about controlling it were to have a tantrum mat, a place that you could just get all your anger out in a safe environment, writing a handwritten letter to the person you are angry at and then trowing it away. Just getting the aggression out is key is not letting the world get to you.

Last year I took up running and that was the one thing that really kept me sane with all the things that were going on in my life. After moving to a third floor walk up apartment I just stopped having the energy to go for a run and then have to tackle those stairs that I gave it up. That seems to be the biggest mistake that I made this year. Had I been pounding the pavement to get that aggression out then all the little things wouldn’t be adding up to so much weight like they are now.

So I guess the take away here is that you have to find what keeps you calm. Thank god none of us are the hulk and will smash buildings with our anger but that doesn’t mean that we don’t really cause damage in our lives. Every time I go down that rabbit-hole of this happened, and then that, and she said, it pisses me off! And I just go and unload all that nonsense on the people in your life it just drives them away, but if you keep it all in then all this aggression and anger just consumes you.

There are certain realizations that we have to come to. Things like we can’t fix everything, things that happen in our lives happen for the best possible reason and that its all for the best. You just have to get there, to see the messages that are out there around you and internalize them.

That message on the wall is a reminder to me everyday that “everything is for the best” and that we have to start realizing and taking advantage of it.

29.4.13

Pushy Israelis

This morning we were all sitting in our online journalism class like we have been doing every Monday morning since the beginning of the semester.  All class the door is opening and people are looking in like they are expecting the room to be empty and leaving right away, we don't think anything of it because this happens all the time.

At 1 o'clock this big Israeli guy walks in to the room and starts yelling at the teacher that she has taken his room. That he has 3 classes to teach today and no room to use because she is "hogging" his. She calmly says to him that we have had this room all semester and that there is no way that this could be "his room." He leaves angrily and we all start talking about how rude he was.

Three minutes later a woman from the logistics office comes in and tells us that she has a new room open for us to use until 1:45 when the class is over. So for the last 40ish minutes of class we move down the hall as the angry Israeli guy (who apparently works at a TV station) glares at us like we've done something wrong.

I have been trying to understand why all these Israelis are always trying to put themselves first. I understand the whole "if you let them push you around then they'll walk all over you" mentality but a little consideration. Can't you choose your battles? This one wasn't really worth it was it? Maybe I'm missing the point here.

13.2.13

A Simple Life

This morning on my bus ride into school I started thinking about what life would be like without all the technology that we have today.  How quiet would it be without all the cars? Would we meet more people around us because we aren't clouded by the technology that keeps us in touch with those we care about who are not in our immediate proximity?  Life would be so different.

Maybe if we didn't have all this technology we wouldn't feel like there aren't enough hours in the day because there wont be websites or video games to keep you distracted. Maybe we would spend more time with our loved ones and less time with our cell phones.  Would our lives be less stressful? Studies show that as we take on more in our lives we are becoming more and more stressed with life.  I think we can all use less stressful lives, but I just can't seem to give up TV.  If we could live simpler lives and still have the shows on TV I'd be happy.

It has recently come to my attention just how many people are sitting or standing around each other not interacting because we're all in our own little worlds with our headphones in. Makes me think about that movie "Josie and the Pussy Cats" where the CD has a subtrack that brainwashes everyone.  Makes you wonder if that could happen with all these people wired all the time.


Just some thoughts I was having today... Wouldn't it be nice?

22.1.13

Elections

This has been a few months full of politics.  Back in October when I was in the states I filled out an absentee ballot. In that election it turned out that my vote didn't seem to count for anything.  Here we are a few months later with another election today, this time in Israel.  Everyone that I talk to has been making a huge deal about voting and I get it.

We live in a democracy and we should be celebrating our ability to control who is in our government, but has anyone ever sat down to think about what if we don't know who we want to be in our government?  Do we really know who the candidates are? Are they going to keep their promises?  Did they just say those things to get elected?  There are too many questions. And I just don't feel like I have the ability to choose who is going to be put into office. What if you end up making the wrong decision? Over the weekend I read over summaries of the parties that are running and they all made points that I agreed with and I had been hoping that reading over their points on key topics would help me to choose one. Turns out that didn't work.

I kept getting stuck on this feeling. What do I know about foreign policy? I've been living in this country for less than 3 years, heck I lived in the US for 20 years and don't know what to look for in a presidential candidate.  I was reading Seth Godin's blog other day and he had a post about "With great power comes great irresponsibility" and I agreed with his ideas. When we give people power then they can do what ever they want and all you can say is "I can't believe I picked this guy."

If the guy who gets elected turns out to be a terrible person, is it all okay because a majority of people wanted to put him there?  I was too conflicted, a friend of mine said that not voting in a way is a form of voting.  I do want to live in a better world, I just feel like all this politics isn't helping, there is so much lying and just saying things to get the votes. That I don't feel properly informed to make an informed decision. I know there are going to be a lot of angry people about this post, but this is my honest opinion on the situation.

9.1.13

Zen Art Of Happiness - Part 2

This is my second post in a series that I am doing while working my way through the book "The Zen Art Of Happiness". Part 1 of this series can be be found here

We are the authors of every next moment

In our lives we are always striving for control. I always want to be in control of the situation, and when I find myself not in control it makes me uneasy and insecure.  For my birthday my boyfriend planned me a surprise party, he did a really good job keeping it a secret but I had this feeling that there was something he wasn't telling me.  I like knowing what is going on, I like being able to plan things and have thing that I plan happen.  Recently I have found that I'm having to more and more deal with this lack of control.
We are powerful beings, creating our futures with our thoughts and actions.

 There are many times when I just feel like I'm not that powerful being, that I can't create the future because someone else is making decisions for me. That I make plans and get excited when I know that I'm going to be seeing my boyfriend only to get a phone call telling me that he's not coming home this week, or that my friends actually aren't available to meet up tonight. It feels like I put the thoughts in and the actions just don't happen.

Personal Philosophy

I like most people have never sat down and thought about my personal philosophy. The book makes an interesting point that I have never really thought of before. It says that if your personal philosophy is to always view life positively then the things that happen in your life are all for the best, but conversely if you view things that happen in life negatively and are always saying that life is bad then you will have a hard time seeing the good.
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. - William Shakespeare
How many times has it happened that something bad happens and you let it ruin everything?  This is what happens to me all the time, I'll be having a great day and then I spill something and make a mess and then view the whole day as ruined.  According to this way of thinking because I let one bad thing cover everything else up I am causing more unpleasantness to come to me.  Wouldn't it be so nice if you were just able to turn off that one part of the brain that is always throwing in the towel and saying "that's it you ruined everything!"  Maybe that is just the next thing that I have to work on.

As you belive, so it is for you
The true man sees what the eye sees, and does not add to it something that is not there. He hears what the ears hear, and does not detect imaginary undertones or overtones. He…is not busy with hidden meanings. - Chuang Tzu
There is a quote that says a lot. We are always digging, looking for that hidden meaning in what someone else has said to us. Asking ourselves what did they mean by that? What did their tone of voice mean?

You have to change the way your mind works. Stop thinking about the hidden meaning and work on being in the moment and trying to stay positive.  The metaphor that the author brings is that you have to look at yourself like a railway track, there is a switch to see things positive or to see things negatively. Every occurrence that comes your way has the chance to go down the positive or negative track, you just have to decide which one your going to go down.

Have you ever had an event that you were able to look back on and realize that it really was a great thing to have happened? How have you been able to change the way that you think about how event have unfolded in your life? I'd love to hear what you have to think in the comments below.

6.1.13

Unraveling

Working towards finding happiness in your life is not the most simple thing to do, and for the past week I have been putting in a pretty big effort. In my last post I wrote about my starting the book "The Zen Art Of Happiness" and this past week was an effort to take what I read in the first few pages and use them in real life. I spent much of this past week telling myself that everything that happens is the best possible situation that I could find myself in and for the most part, this has helped a lot.

One of the recurring themes I have seen when reading about ways to reduce feelings of being depressed or sad have been to dissociate yourself from people who make you feel this way.  Last week I kept myself from thinking about the people that really put me down in a poor mood and I can honestly say that it helped a lot. The only problem I have run into is that no where does any one have suggestions for how to deal with people who put you in a foul mood when you cannot avoid being around them?

There is one person in my life who we just seem to see things differently and there are times when I feel that whatever I do is not the right thing.  While for the past week I did a very good job keeping myself far away from them over the weekend it was unavoidable and I just feel that everything I did for the past week seems to have unraveled and I'm feeling like I'm going to have to start this week again from scratch.

Does anyone else ever feel that there are people who are in your life and put you down? Any suggestions for way to keep them from ruining everything?

1.1.13

Zen Art Of Happiness - Part 1


I have begun to read the book “Zen Art Of Happiness” and have decided that since the purpose behind my starting this blog had been about self improvement, I will be documenting my progress through this short book. While the book itself is only about 50 pages long I know that it is going to take a good long while to get through these pages.
The first step towards solving a problem is admitting you have a problem.
The first step is always the hardest. I have been living for a few years with a problem that has been growing. I have been keeping it deep down and hidden and like a tumor it has grown out of control. I have become frustrated with everything in my life, lost all motivation for anything and even have been pushing away the one person who means the most to me. I have been taking him for granted, every time I push him away he has been coming right back, but recently we got into a fight that could have ended it for good.

This has forced me to take a step back. To look at what is going on in my life and realize that it is time for me to make a change. As hard as it was I decided that we were going to take a break, I am scared that we may not go back to where we were or who knows in a few months things can be getting back on track. While he may never see this, I want him to know that he is the reason that I am taking these steps towards fixing whatever it is that is wrong with me.
The first question that the book asks is
Would I want this to be true: “Every event that befalls me is absolutely
the best possible event that could occur.”
When I read this line, my honest answer was no I don’t want that to be true. There are so many things that happen every day that I have a hard time seeing the good in them. Like this morning I missed my bus to school by 30 seconds and all I could think was how I was going to be late and if I just left the apartment just a minute earlier I would have caught an earlier bus and I would have made it on that one and I could have been on time to class. This makes it difficult to see the world in a way where everything that befalls me is the best possible even that could occur.
The next question that the book posses is:
Will I give that a chance to be true?
My honest answer here was no I don’t want it to be true. But reading on I come to realize that it really is true. We have to learn to retrain ourselves, to stop thinking in terms of every event that occurs individually but as pieces of a whole part. I did miss my bus this morning but it turns out even if I were on the earlier one I would have ended up just sitting in the sun waiting for the bus to school that I took any way, but because I had missed the 567 I was sitting in a bus stop shaded from the sun and I had a minute to relax and I even got a seat on the bus.

I have to stop looking at every event that happens and right away jumping to the conclusion that someone out there is out to get me. Maybe these things happen for a larger reason than we can see. Maybe this fight that we are in is just a bump in the road to where ever it is that we are going. Neither of us can see it today and not even tomorrow but what ever happens, it is for the best.

More Posts on Happiness:

Why its so hard to just be happy?
The difference between kindness and charity

31.12.12

The Nanny

I will start out by saying that when I am starting a family I do not plan to have a nanny. While I do know that raising kids and having a career is a difficult task I just feel like there is something wrong if I feel that someone else should be raising my kids and taking care of my house. What does that say about me as a parent? That I'm not good enough to raise kids? That I don't think my kids are worth my time?

When I was younger my mom had a cleaning lady who came once a week while we were at school, but this only went on for a few years. I think it was because we didn't really need her. I grew up in a fair sized suburban house in the US and since moving to Israel a year and a half ago I have noticed an abundance of families who hire Philippinos to clean their houses and some to take their kids things like taking them to the park and picking them up form school. Maybe its because the parents a busy, maybe its because the nanny is cheap whatever the reason, the house sizes of these people in relation to what I grew up in makes me feel like they don't need it.

I can see having help every once in a while like a babysitter or even if I'm going to be hosting a party but to hire someone on a regular basis to come and do my dishes just seems a bit absurd! I know that we are all busy with our lives but there is just something so homey feeling about a house that is taken care of naturally.

The other week I was at a friends house and his mom was making a home made birthday cake for his sister's birthday with homemade frosting. The whole time I was there I was thinking about how I miss being at home with my family for birthdays and the cake my mom makes with the same frosting. Most of the places that I go to for the weekends people just buy cakes, pastries and challot but when you grow up on homemade stuff its so hard to go back to the bakery. Living away from home I've come to appreciate my parents so much more and I thank them for raising me the way that they did.

27.12.12

A Post On Parenting

While I know that I am not a parent, and it is an incredibly challenging job there are just a few things that parents do that bother me.  I am not saying that the people who do these things are bad parents, I just feel that when I have my own kids there are a few things that I will try to make sure that I don't do.




  • Using The World As A Bathroom: This is one that I see parents doing all the time. I know that when you gotta go you gotta go and especially for little kids it is hard for them to hold it in, but what are you teaching your kids? That its okay to just drop your pants anywhere and go when the urge comes?  What are you saying about the environment? About hygiene? I kid you not, I was at the park today and there was a parent who's child had to use the bathroom so he picked up his daughter took off her pants and let her go right there next to the slide! Not only is that indecent its just plain gross!




  • Cell Phones: I know that taking your kids to the park everyday is not the most exciting of events but really? There was a father who spent the entire time at the park with his daughter looking at his cell phone! There used to be a lot of mothers who would bring a book to the park to read while the kids played, I feel that a book is better than a phone. There is something about a cell phone that just sucks you into it and before you know it time is just gone. It would not surprise me if the father were at the park on his cell phone and his daughter were snatched up and he wouldn't have noticed.




  • Breastfeeding In Public Places: There have been numerous discussions in recent years on this topic and I don't want to get too wrapped up in this one. I feel that there are right places and wrong places for it.  The other week I was on a bus sitting next to a woman who was breastfeeding, while she was covered it was still a little uncomfortable.  I think that if you do need to do it in a public place then maybe it needs to be done in less proximity to other people. Like say a crowded bus is not the place.



  • Public Transit: Car are expensive, I get it.  But there has to be a limit right? A family with 5 kids gets on a crowded bus to travel between cities and want to sit together, the kids are little and loud and the parents have to buy the tickets and then deal with moving people around so they can all sit together. Is it really that much more to rent a car for the few times that you take a family trip to visit the grandparents?




  • The Nanny: Alright, I'm not really going to stick with just a nanny in this one.  There are many families here in Israel that are always looking to hire a nanny or a cleaning lady and I know there are some people who really need them and don't have them and then there are people who feel that they really need them and don't really need them. I am just going to say here that I don't want to have a nanny or a cleaning lady. There are also parents that are always looking for a nanny to basically raise their kids, from bringing them home from school to weekly baby sitters. I know parents have to work but shouldn't they be trying to make time for their kids?  The occasional help would be nice but I grew up with out one so I don't see the need. 


  • This is my short list of parenting pet-peeves. I have a bit more to say on the nannies you can find my follow up post here.


    There are so many interesting books on parenting out there:
    Parenting For Dummies
    When Parents Text: So Much Said...So Little Understood
    Parenting From the Inside Out