Monday, August 31, 2020

On with the Butter: Book Review


Inspired by her mother's resilience and sense of adventure, Heidi Herman has written On with the Butter: Spread More Living into Everyday Life. (2020, Hekla Publishing). 

The gist of the book can be summed up in an Icelandic saying that translates roughly to "On with the Butter!" It's similar to the British saying, "Carry on," but contains a bit more zest, particularly as embodied by Herman's Icelandic mother. 

Disclosure: I have received a complimentary copy of Herman's book in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Heidi has a long career as a writer of various genres, but this book was part of a collaboration with her mother to enumerate nearly one hundred activities that can help older adults remain engaged and joyful. 

The book, however, is not just a list. It conveys an outlook on life that is an invitation to find happiness in the moment rather than being bogged down with one of life's many challenges. 

Even though I am many years younger than Ieda, the author's mother, I appreciate the suggestions for engaging in life when some people might suffer depression due to role loss and struggle with how to re-engage in life. 

I still teach classes at two universities; however, I experienced a slump when all of my children launched in August of 2019. True, I only have two children, but having them both fire me as their mother was quite a shock. 

Instead of looking back at what is missing, I am inspired to engage more fully in the moment by reading narratives about Iada's adventures followed by checklists for having an adventure of my own.

For example, in Chapter 5, "Take the Scenic Route," Herman describes a road trip she and her mother took through some of the smaller roads that connect I-80 and I-25. In doing so, Ieda convinced her daughter to stop at the Mormon Handcart Museum that documented the 1,300 mile trip of handcart pioneers. 

They looked at brochures, maps, and artifacts in the museum of landmarks for the pioneers' trek, such as Martin's Cove.  Herman and her mother ventured out in an attempt to find a waterfall they could see in the distance. 

While they never found the waterfall despite a dusty hike that included scooting over boulders, the view on the return trip was "breathtaking, and that alone was worth the trip" (68). 

What follows this story are some specific resources for travel and suggestions for trips, including encouragement for finding destinations that are "wacky or not the usual tourist spots" (78).  I have spend decades being the support team for my children's adventures. Now I can better imaging having some adventures of my own--with a gal pal or two coming along. 

Whether readers make a faithful journey through Herman's suggestion or create their own set of activities for keeping moving and keeping living, "On with the Butter" is a mantra worth exploring, and Herman and her mother are pleasant and enthusiastic tour guides. 

"Meet the Author" through this video: 


Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Book Review


  1. Hmmm, I think you might have just given me an idea for a birthday present. Thanks!

    1. It reminds me to practice some good habits that I often neglect. It's a straightforward upbeat book, featuring a charming mature woman from Iceland who married a US soldier. The tone, whimsy and optimism are ideal at this time.