31 December, 2012

THE BEST KIND OF NYE CELEBRATION

I didn't watch the ball drop this New Year's Eve. I didn't even turn on the TV once to check out the Times Square coverage. I didn't drink champagne, or see fireworks, or use noisemakers.

I did go out to dinner with my husband. I did have a wonderful, deep, thoughtful conversation with him that lasted all evening and covered several topics close to my heart. I did drink two glasses of a delicious Malbec and enjoyed an overly-filling dinner. I did toast to 2013 with my partner in life - and I did it with a very grateful heart.

30 December, 2012

WHAT HAVE I DONE?

My younger sister has somehow tricked me into signing up for the Cleveland Half Marathon with her. First move? Buy new shoes, of course. Second move? Try to figure out how to get out of this alive.


29 December, 2012

ANNIVERSARY

When I think of the word "anniversary" I always think of marriage. I suppose it's the most common usage of the word - or at least the most common to me. But all it means is "the date on which an event took place in a previous year." Just a simple statement of fact. It can be used for all sorts of events: first day at a job, first day one committed to being sober, first day you arrived on this planet (also known as your birthday)... but it's not limited to firsts. It can also commemorate lasts: the anniversary of a loved one's death. Their last day on this planet.

I think of that on this day, as I hug my own mother tightly and feel a twinge in my heart for my dear friend who's mother died 7 years ago today. It was rather sudden - a heart failure - and even though the family knew she had a bad heart, her premature departure from this world was not easy to accept. I'm lucky enough not to know this yet, but I would bet that the death of your mother is hard no matter what the circumstances. 

And yet, as I write those words above - heart failure, bad heart, premature departure - I can't help but think that maybe this anniversary was also a first for her. My friend's mother might have had a weak heart by our physical standards, but she had a big & good heart by higher standards. Her heart may have failed her body, but perhaps it allowed her to be released from physical constraints to a place of higher consciousness and true freedom. Her premature departure from this world may have been right on time for her own journey into the first day of a new world for her.

I'd rather think of it that way on this quiet day, on her anniversary.

26 December, 2012

THE HENNS

Yes, there was a snow storm. Some might have even called it a blizzard. But could that stop these two beautiful people from braving the elements and getting hitched? No way. It couldn't even stop my sister from wearing open-toed shoes and a tropical flower in her hair. My heartfelt congratulations, you two! Best wishes for a lifetime of love, trust, and laughter.




25 December, 2012

LIGHT



The celebration of LIGHT is one thing I'm pretty certain I'll embrace forever. 
Today, and all days, it may do us good to remember these words from Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in

24 December, 2012

YOU BETTA NOT

We may not be 100% sure how we want to incorporate "Santa" into our daughter's world,
but we are 100% sure that she'll always be adorable when it comes to singing about him.

video

23 December, 2012

SIBLING SOIREE

As we sat in the warm apartment, with delightful foods spread out before us and drinks to celebrate the season, we got to talking about old traditions. Our experiences were different - even the brothers who were merely two years apart in age had varying recollections of how Christmas was celebrated while they were growing up - but there were many similarities and I would guess that most of the people we knew had traditions that were just the same.

Then the conversation turned to new traditions... starting with the two of us that had a child to share in those traditions, and then spreading out to the possible traditions of the other two who had inklings of children in their future. And I loved that conversation. The strong opinions and the vague ideas. The clear answers and the questions that still remain questions. The thoughtful disagreements and the compassionate compliments. It was not a sermon, it was a dialogue. It was not a series of statements, it was an exploration of what could be.



21 December, 2012

THE DAY THE WORLD ENDS

"The day the world ends, no one will be there, just as no one was there when it began. This is a scandal. Such a scandal for the human race that it is indeed capable collectively, out of spite, of hastening the end of the world by all means just so it can enjoy the show."
- Jean Baudrillard, 1987

23 October, 2012

CLOUD ATLAS

"Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others - past and present - and by each crime, and every kindness, we birth our future."



12 October, 2012

THE COMPLEX HUMAN

I really have to get back to blogging. I miss it. And hopefully, you miss it.

There are a million things I want to write about - but I feel like I don't have the time! Which is silly, because I do have the time, I just have to prioritize the time... which is harder. But for now, the VlogBrothers have been causing me to think. And I like that. And I thought you might like it, too.


23 July, 2012

LIFE OF PI - Directed by Ang Lee



Looking forward to this movie, based on the book Life of Pi by Yann Martel (one of my favorite books of all time). I hope it doesn't disappoint!

11 June, 2012

WHO ARE YOU... REALLY?

"It's a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless automat of characters."

GONE GIRL
By Gillian Flynn

I'm about to embark on a new adventure: teaching theatre at an all-girls private school. The theatre part won't really be new, but the all-girls private school part definitely will be. The school's motto is Esse Quam Videri: To Be Rather Than To Seem. It is a reminder to encourage the girls to be their true selves, which also means discovering their true selves, and not just putting on the mask of who they think they should be. That motto has made me think a bit about Who I'm Truly Being, rather than Who I'm Seeming to Be.

The conflict of fully embracing Who You Are and not feeling the need to Seem To Be the person that other people might want you to be is probably a familiar snag for many of us. Quite often I can judge myself through others' eyes (or at least how I think those other people's eyes might see me). I wonder if I am living up to the seemingly perfect idea of A Good Wife, or the fairy tale of the seemingly Perfect Daughter-in-Law, or the all too elusive Always Wonderful Mother.

There are portrayals of these manufactured ideals looming large in our society. Movie characters who seem to be able to hold it all together as a mother of three while also always looking fabulous and baking cakes to perfection. Magazines upon magazines with glossy covers sharing tips on how to Look and Feel Great, how to Dress Fashionably for Less, and how to Have It All (and great hair, too!). There's even a TV show where the title says it all: The Good Wife.

How are we, as normal and real human beings, to live up to those outrageous standards of what seems to be perfection? The short answer: we can't. Those standards are outrageous. And I believe we can only be truly happy when we are truly ourselves. I also believe this is the only way that others will fully love us - when they're loving the Real us. Not a compilation of characteristics that we think should make up the Perfect Person.

We must strive to be Who We Really Are. We must take care of ourselves and look deeply in our souls so we can figure out how To Be Rather Than To Seem.

For more quotes collected from this book, and others, visit Borrowing Wisdom.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL to read and discuss as a member of the online book club From Left to Write. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.

07 June, 2012

VEGETABLE GARDEN, 7 weeks (50 days) later

Who wants lettuce? Anyone?! We've got some to spare. Here's what our humble veggie garden looks like after 7 weeks. It's come a long way from our tiny beginnings... the tomato plants especially! We've got peppers almost as big as my fist, a few bunches of quarter-sized tomatoes, tons of leafy greens and tall spinach, and sugar snap peas vines that are winding themselves up a trellis. It's wonderful to watch all the growing... and I'm particularly interested in what those carrots look like under all those green fern-ish tops.







16 May, 2012

FUNDAMENTALLY, IT IS ABOUT DECENCY

A beautiful friend of mine, native of Colorado, 
wrote this smart and passionate letter to Rep. McNulty. 
I cannot add anything to it, because it is perfect. Here it is.
Thank you, Jill, for letting me share these wonderful words.


"Today's committee vote in the Colorado house was disheartening and extremely agitating. Instead of just yelling at my computer screen some more, I decided to write the below letter to Rep. McNulty, who orchestrated the political maneuverings that prevented the civil unions bill from going to a vote in front of the House. I know I have a lot of Colorado friends--Republicans and Democrats alike--who are tired of this nonsense and ready for our state to do the right thing. If you're one of them, make your voice heard."

Rep. McNulty,

Today when I learned that the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee voted to kill the bill that would have created civil unions, I was disappointed. Actually, I was more than disappointed. I was embarrassed. 

I called Colorado home for the first 28 years of my life, and I usually identify myself as a Colorado native with pride. Today I cannot do that. Today I cannot boast that I was born and raised in one of the greatest states in this nation ... not when that state denies basic rights to many of its citizens. 

I am disheartened by your maneuverings to prevent the bill from coming to a vote in front of the House, though I am not so naive as to think this sort of political jockeying is not part and parcel of the way the legislative game is played on both sides of the aisle.

I also believe that you sent the bill to a "kill committee" because you thought there was a good chance the House would pass it--a fact that gives me hope that many of Colorado's elected men and women do not share your views on civil unions. A majority of the men and women they represent certainly don’t. 

As I am sure you are aware, polls suggest that well more than half of Coloradans support legal recognition for same-sex couples. We can squabble over which polls and who conducted them and on and on, but one thing is clear—more and more Coloradans support extending basic legal rights and protections to all couples who seek them. 

I have no doubt that one day in Colorado men who love men and women who love women will be able to enter into legally recognized relationships just like you can, and just like I can, and will be afforded the same rights that you and I are afforded when we do so.

I also have no doubt that one day our children and their children will shake their heads in disbelief as they learn about a time when some people actually fought against granting tens of thousands of Coloradans the right to be involved in crucial decisions about the health and wellbeing of the people with whom they have decided to spend their lives. 

You chose to be among those who fought to deny people basic rights. You chose to be among those at whom so many will shake their heads. Is that the sort of legacy you want? 

Perhaps it is. 

But it is not the sort of legacy I want for the state that I love and that I will always consider home.

I hope that you will reconsider your position on civil unions and rise above the divisive rhetoric that attempts to make this issue about Republicans vs. Democrats, conservatives vs. liberals, Christians vs. non-Christians. 

Fundamentally, it is about decency. It is about respect. And, above all, it is about equality and freedom of personal choice as provided for and championed by our Constitution.

15 May, 2012

VEGETABLE GARDEN, 20 days later

The onions are twice as high. The pepper plants each have one baby pepper on them! There are small, green tomato spheres. The sugar snap peas are starting to come up. The lettuce, spinach, and brussels sprouts are getting bigger/wider. And are those the tiny leaves of carrots I see...? (I honestly don't know if those are carrot leaves or weeds. Whatever it is, it's sprouting right between the onions, where we planted the carrot seeds...)








14 May, 2012

ALL I REALLY NEED

All I really need 
is a song in my heart
food in my belly
and love in my family


And I need the rain to fall
And I need the sun to shine
To give life to the seeds we sow
to make the food we need to grow


All I really need
is a song in my heart
food in my belly
and love in my family


And I need some clean water for drinkin'
And I need some clean air for breathin'
So that I can grow up strong 
take my place where I belong


All I really need is a song in my heart 
and love in my family


Listening to this song this morning with my daughter, the lyrics really got into my heart. I mean, how much more simple can it get? We all worry about jobs, money, bills, politics, but is there anything truly more important than a song in your heart (happiness), food in your belly, and love in your family? Plus a little rain & sun, and a bit of clean water & clean air... what more could you need?

12 May, 2012

TYSON'S TWO MAIN PHILOSOPHIES


"I am driven by two main philosophies: 
know more today about the world than I knew yesterday, 
and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you."

07 May, 2012

CAREFUL THE THINGS YOU SAY

"One day, courage might call for a bigger self, not for making oneself smaller."

I AM FORBIDDEN
By Anouk Markovits

In high school, during a musical theatre class that I wish I could re-take now as an adult, we studied one of my favorite musicals of all time: Into the Woods by the incredible Stephen Sondheim. A big theme in the show is this: "Careful the things you say / Children will listen / Careful the things you do / Children will see and learn."

I recently saw a production of this musical, almost a decade and a half after first being introduced to the show, and with fresh eyes - as a mother. And those lines in particular struck a chord with me. Especially now that my toddler is in her "parroting twos" and repeats just about everything we say or do. She looks to us as examples... not only of how to do things, but of how to behave, how to act, how to be.

And careful is definitely one of the things we must be.

In reading Anouk Markovits' I AM FORBIDDEN, there were bits of dialogue that were somewhat uncomfortable for me. Things that a father says to his daughter that make her feel bad about herself, that cause her to have to explain herself to her friends, that even lead her to question her life and her faith. And  leading someone, even your own child, in the ways of faith can be challenging even for the best person. Faith is tricky. It is based on belief and cannot necessarily be proven. And many times, to someone who really believes their faith, it can be a matter of life or death.

But faith isn't the only thing...  all things, every thing we say or do has an impact on our children, whether we want it to or not. And I, for one, hope that I am doing all I can to present a positive image of myself to my daughter - and to hold up a positive self-image in the mirror back to her. She's too important for me to behave in any other way.

I truly believe we have to be careful in what we say and do. I've seen it with my own eyes: children will see. And learn. Children will listen.

For more quotes collected from this book, and others, visit Borrowing Wisdom.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Anouk Markovits' I AM FORBIDDEN to read and discuss as a member of the online book club From Left to Write. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.

04 May, 2012

GETTING GIRLY


My almost two-and-a-half year old daughter and I "got girly" today. Her hair is long enough now to french braid. She loves to wear dresses and "be a ballerina." And she sat still long enough to let me paint her toenails for the first time. Although it's adorable, sometimes I catch myself thinking, "Where did this big girl come from all of a sudden!?"






03 May, 2012

VEGETABLE GARDEN, 10 days later

It's been 10 days since we planted those first few vegetables in the ground... and tiny things are starting to happen! Nothing from the sugar snap peas or carrots, yet, but check out the early growers:

The peppers are getting buds for small, white flowers.



The cherry tomato plants have small, yellow flowers.


And my favorite... the onion bulbs have started to sprout!


Now to find out if flowering on pepper and tomato plants is a good thing or a not so good thing... I have so much to learn.

28 April, 2012

OUR FIRST VEGETABLE GARDEN

We're almost done preparing our first vegetable garden! When we moved from New York City to Westminster, Maryland one of the important things on our To Do List was to learn how to grow our own food. And now, we've taken the first step.

So far, we have the following veggies in the ground: onions, carrots, 3 pepper plants, brussels sprouts, green & red leaf lettuces, spinach, sugar snap peas, and 3 tomato plants. In small planters, we're going to put a few herbs: mint, basil, cilantro, rosemary, and parsley. And after Mother's Day, we'll add zucchini and cucumbers to our patches.

It was hard work to strip the sod of our 14 x 16 foot area, dig a trench for the fence (to keep out the rabbits, we hope!), till the dirt, double-dig two 4 x 11 foot beds, mix in the compost, finally get to plant the vegetables, and then to put up the wire fencing... but hopefully, it'll all be worth it. And I'm already so proud. Welcome to our Garden :)






09 April, 2012

PRACTICALLY ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

"What matters is that, for the rest of their lives, both my daughters understand that to reach a goal, they must put one foot in front of the other and persevere. They know that they must expect and prepare for challenges. They know to ignore the naysayers and, instead, to have faith in themselves and their abilities to learn what they need to know. Above all else, they know that little does not mean weak, that girls are indeed strong, and that practically anything is possible."

UP: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure
By Patricia Ellis Herr

I try to say "Yes" to my daughter whenever possible.

I try to encourage her to reach just a little bit further. I try not to give in when she gives up and tells me "You do it." I try to entice her with small adventures and new challenges. She's only 2-years-old... and I hope I am a good enough mother to continue saying "Yes" as she grows older.

But I'm sure there will be times when it's not possible to say "Yes" - or at least not with a few strings attached.

Patricia Ellis Herr's account of her adventures climbing mountains with her daughters strikes me as a great example of the wonderful moments and life lessons that can happen when you say "Yes" to your children. Not only to agree that they can and should try That New Thing, but also agreeing when they ask you to do it with them. Agreeing that YOU can and should try That New Thing, too.

I was amused and inspired by the author's chapter titles which give life to some strong parenting suggestions: Some Things Will Always Be Beyond Your Control; Ignore the Naysayers; Lose the Paranoia; Divide and Conquer; Roll with the Punches; Little Things Matter (a Lot); We Can't Always Make It Better; Enjoy the Journey While It Lasts. Those are simple statements, but just think how good they are as little nuggets of parenting guidance!

I don't want to miss a single possibility with my child by saying "No." I don't want to miss a moment of adventure, but I also don't want to miss an opportunity for learning or for a life-lesson or for growth. I want my child to know extreme encouragement. I want my child to know that I will always have faith in her. I want my child to know "Yes" as often as possible.

For more quotes collected from this book, visit Borrowing Wisdom.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Patricia Ellis Herr's UP: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure to read and discuss as a member of the online book club From Left to Write. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.

08 April, 2012

THE EGG IS THE WORLD

photo
The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world. 
 -Hermann Hesse, Demian

Sharing this beautiful photo and quote via foodjoy, a beautiful blog by a beautiful woman. 

27 March, 2012

WE ARE NOT ALONE

"The one comfort that all of us can take is that we are not the 
only people on the planet who have something to swim against. 
We are not alone in our battle to disprove a statistic."

SIGNS OF LIFE
By Natalie Taylor

Everyone has their something. Their thing. That sad part of life, or that difficult part, or that self-doubting part that makes living just a little bit harder sometimes.

And it's good for each of us to remember this as we go through our daily lives.

It's so easy to view life through our own tunnel-vision... it seems quite second nature, in fact, to see every situation only as it might affect me: good or bad. I do this. Of course! Who doesn't?

I visited New York City for 2 days and man, if everybody wasn't in my way! There was somebody blocking my path at every turn. We went to the American Museum of Natural History, and my favorite exhibit was closed due to a private party. Didn't those people know that we were only there for those few hours and I wanted to show my 2-year-old daughter the life-sized blue whale? Why were they doing that to me? This is, perhaps, a petty example. But what I often forget to think about is that everyone is just trying to live their life, too. They have somewhere they need to go - and maybe I'm getting in their way. They might be celebrating a very special once-in-a-lifetime occasion at the museum. Who knows?

In Signs of Life, by Natalie Taylor, she loses her husband in a freak accident just over a year after they were married... and she was 5-months pregnant with their first child. Awful - yes. But one of the things I noticed as I was reading it was that she had incredible amounts of support and love from her husband's family and friends. Even though they were going through their own loss, their own grief - losing a son, losing a brother, losing a life-long friend - all of those people also looked beyond their own pain and saw Natalie grieving and helped her in whatever way they could, however they thought they knew how.

John Donne says "No man is an island..." and I couldn't agree more. There are so many parts of life that would be so much harder to get through without someone to lean on - or many someones! And there are hopefully an equal or greater number of things in life that would be so much less joyous if we didn't have someone - or many someones - to share them with.

It's easy to slip into the self-loathing or the "why me" places. But I'm continuing to learn that it's much better when I think of the bigger picture. Harder - yes. But better.

For more quotes collected from this book, visit Borrowing Wisdom. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of Natalie Taylor's SIGNS OF LIFE to read and discuss as a member of the online book club From Left to Write. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.

23 March, 2012

BEDDING FOR A BIG GIRL


A baby no longer, my daughter is well on her way into true KID-dom.

We don't have the Terrible Twos - we have the Independent Twos. And I'm fine with that.

One of the things she's SO proud of is her new Big Girl Bed... complete with painted quotes by Papa Ayers and fun alphabet bedding.

And although she is very pleased with herself when she can get in and out of the bed "all by myself"... and that she can turn on and off the light switch "all by myself"... it's still really nice when Daddy cuddles up and reads to her, so she doesn't have to do that all by herself.

22 March, 2012

BOY BUDDIES

Our daughter happens to have 2 favorite boy buddies: Eric & Alan. She loves them. A lot.





20 February, 2012

BIG CHANGES

"[It's] true what the strategists say about hearts and minds - you have to win them both. 
We will change our ways significantly as a nation not when some laws tell us we have to... but when we want to."

ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE: A Year of Food Life
By Barbara Kingsolver

Almost a year ago, my husband and I started talking about pursuing a very different kind of life.

I was a year into my thirties and he had one more to go. We recently celebrated our first child's first birthday. We lived in New York City and both had jobs with Big Titles at Important Theatre Companies (theatre with an "re", which is how you know it's legit). We had a throng of friends and colleagues with whom we brunched and had discussions about art and life. And paychecks sufficient enough to provide for a 2-bedroom apartment (with incredible landlords who baked us homemade cookies and Greek dishes), a superb and loving Montessori day care environment for our daughter (since we both had to bring home the bacon), and enough discretionary funds to dine out several times per week, take in the occasional movie at $13.50 each, and even splurge for a taxi once in a while.

Becoming a mother was something of a paradigm shift for me. I remember vivid moments of recognizing true animal instincts within myself when I felt my daughter needed protecting. My months of reading about the wonders of breast-feeding left me searching for more information about how to provide the best solid foods for my baby once that transition was upon us - and that led to eye-opening (and somewhat frightening) documentaries like Food, Inc. And though I'm not sure I could honestly claim that Food, Inc. was the catalyst, my husband and I began to fall into a documentary rabbit hole with stops at the doors of No Impact Man, Waiting for Superman, and Blind Spot... spilling us out on the other side of the looking glass, and leaving us spinning with dozens of questions about what kind of world our daughter would live in when she was in her thirties.

These concerns about food production, environmental impact, educational deficiencies, and oil dependency drove us to months of reading everything we could get our hands on, (including possibly biting off more than we could chew with an abundant Amazon book order) so that we could prepare ourselves - as individuals, as a couple, as parents - for an unpredictable future. We were starting to firmly believe that "the next twenty years are going to look very different than the last twenty" and we knew deep down that we would soon be making big changes.

One of the pillars of our many life-altering discussions was the clear desire to live closer to family, particularly our parents. In the summer, we came to the decision that, when the time felt right, we would move to the Northern Maryland town where my husband grew up... infinitely closer to his parents and other family members, and a few hours closer to mine in Ohio. Yes, this would be a culture shift - a big change from our life as New Yorkers for the previous decade - but we felt it was important, necessary even. So with several months of planning, saving, finally resigning from our Big Title jobs, and saying our goodbyes to dear friends - we made the move just one week ago and we are now embarking on what promises to be a fascinating journey. Learning how to grow our own food, to be more self-sufficient, will be among the very first steps. 

In my last week at the Important Theatre Company, a friend and co-worker of mine landed a job working for the Obama campaign. I remarked to her that our departing emails would be so different, hers reading something like, "Amy is leaving us to work for the President of the United States!" and mine somewhere along the lines of, "Rachel is going to - um - grow potatoes."

Another colleague of mine came up to me: You aren't really going to go grow potatoes, are you? Because if you are, we need to talk. I believe she meant well by that comment. I do. Possibly she was eluding to my excellent skills in administration and management. At the time, I shrugged in response, but my heart's answer feels clear to me now: Yes, I am. I am going to go grow potatoes.

For all the delicious-sounding recipes found in this book, check out AnimalVegetableMiracle.com.

For more quotes collected from this book, visit Borrowing Wisdom. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of Barbara Kingsolver's ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE to read and discuss as a member of the online book club From Left to Write. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.

01 February, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRACE


Happy 2nd Birthday to my daughter, Grace.
You take up so much room in my heart!

16 January, 2012

NOELLEPHANT

My younger cousin, Noelle, suddenly turned into this awesome 20-year-old... well, okay, it probably wasn't all that sudden. But as she and her family live on the west coast and we live on the east coast, we only see each other once every few years. Tragic! She, her younger sister Jillian, and their parents are super lovely people - and I wish we could see them more often.

My uncle was always one of my favorite relatives, because he was funny and taught me how to play pool and played the guitar. He told me stories about how he drove from Ohio to California when he was college-aged, and I thought that was so cool. Then one Christmas, when I wasn't yet 10, he brought home a great lady he met out west and we all celebrated their engagement! I was in middle school when Noelle was born and I've enjoyed watching her, mostly from afar, grow up and become her own person.

Thanks to the wonders of technology and the World Wide Web, I've been able to "see" them more often (hello, facebook). And now, Noelle has her own blog: Noellephant. Great name, no? I am so looking forward to hearing more of her own voice and reading about her adventures. Especially with her infectious smile and sense of humor.

And Jillian's in high school already (what?!). I love watching these two lovely ladies become their true selves... especially when their true selves are super cool.

07 January, 2012

SELLING YOURSELF

"Americans responded to these pressures by trying to become salesmen 
who could sell not only their company’s latest gizmo but also themselves." 

QUIET: The Power of Introverts in an World That Can't Stop Talking
By Susan Cain

This morning, I caught a segment on CBS Sunday Morning about charisma. The angle being: are American's voting for our presidential candidates based on their charming smile and twinkling eyes, rather than the substance of what they're saying, what they stand for?

They make a fair argument that we are. And sadly, I'd agree.

I think, as a country, we are suckers for a good salesman. Someone who can make us feel at ease, make us feel good about ourselves and our situation (or at least make us feel that we can trust them to improve our situation). And even if we all don't want to be the salesmen ourselves, we do want people to like us - and more and more, that's starting to mean having this charismatic type of personality that we've come to covet. There are even people who've built an object called a sociometer which can, supposedly, measure your degree of charisma. Seems a bit obsessive to me.

Are we - as a culture - choosing to elect our government officials, our employees, even our friends based solely on this idea of charisma? And is it just America doing this? Or the world over?

In Susan Cain's exploration of Quiet, she quotes a highly successful venture capitalist who seems to have this same concern:
“I worry that there are people who are put in position of authority because they’re good talkers, but they don’t have good ideas… It’s so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent… we put too much of a premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking.” 
This is something that makes me stop and think. Have I done this? Have I, personally, hired co-workers who I thought would be outgoing and friendly over applicants who were just as qualified but perhaps a bit more reserved? Have I always based my opinions of politicians on what they say and what they stand for - or have I been swayed by how they say it and how they present themselves while saying it?

For more quotes collected from this book, visit Borrowing Wisdom. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of Susan Cain's QUIET to read and discuss as a member of the online book club From Left to Write. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own.  Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.

06 January, 2012

KNOW YOUR FARMER. KNOW YOUR FOOD.

Birke Baehr is 11 years old. And he's already asking the question: What's Wrong With Our Food System? And How Can We Make A Difference? Smart kid. See for yourself.



"And that, my friends, is how we can make a difference: One Kid At A Time.
So the next time you're at the grocery store...
Think local. Choose organic. Know your farmer. Know your food."

04 January, 2012

FEATURED IN THE NY TIMES

My husband's in the NY Times. Awesome.



OUTSIDE PEOPLE by Zayd Dohrn (at the Vineyard Theater, through Jan. 29)

CREATORS Jonathan Waller and Eric Pargac, marketing team for the Vineyard Theater

GOAL To convey the poignancy of this co-production by the Vineyard Theater and Naked Angels, about an American who travels abroad and falls in love. “Maybe through all of this noise and loneliness, you can still connect through love,” Mr. Waller said.

WHAT THEY DID Bought stock footage of Beijing and shot material in New York’s Chinatown, including 15 wordless minutes apiece of the two lead actors. Edited on iMovie and scored using the sound design from the production.

COST About $500

03 January, 2012

INTRO TO PEAK OIL

My husband and I have spent many nights over the past several months talking about Peak Oil. It was something that I never knew (or ever thought) about merely a year ago - and now, I can't get it off my mind. We're planning to make some significant changes in our lives based on this and many other eye-opening pieces of information we've been learning about together.

From the website of Transition Town Totnes (a community of just under 7,500 people in the UK who are starting to transition themselves away from total reliance on fossil fuels and into a new period of local resilience), here's a quick 3 minute video to peak your interest in Peak Oil.





If you're interested, here's a link to a bit more information on Peak Oil. This is just the tip of the iceberg; there are thousands of books out there (and probably thousands more web pages) on this topic of Peak Oil. Have you been thinking about this, too? If you have any comments, I'd love to hear them.