16 January, 2012


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


"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


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


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


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.

02 January, 2012


It's nice to have a partner. Someone to laugh with, learn with, eat with, share with. Someone who encourages you and "keeps you honest" and can help you forgive yourself. My partner and I have a good balance between us... and it even extends to our health and our attitudes. We're rarely sick at the same time, which allows one of us to take care of the other. We're rarely both in a bad mood, which allows the one of us who's in a good mood to pull the other out of the trenches.

So I'll keep this lucky streak in mind tonight, as I feel the cold coming on that my husband's had this whole past week. And I'll rest well tonight, thanks to the medicines of NyQuil and a good partner. 

01 January, 2012

2011 - A LOOK BACK

In looking toward 2012, I jotted down a quick overview of 2011. Here are some fractions of my thoughts on all that happened this past year.

Year of Pictures Project - fail - forgetting to take a picture by the 6th day. Got a smart phone - Droid. Brunch dates with Little Grace. Opening MILK TRAIN.

Daughter turned 1 year old and had her first birthday party. Ice storm. Went to Boston for the first time - first work business trip. Thoughts of wanting to be a teacher. Grace started sucking her thumb.

Japan's earthquake & tsunami. Made me think how precious life really is. And also that we should be better to our fragile Mother Earth. Outdoor pianist. Opening BURNING BOY.

Communicating with my daughter. Barack Obama's birth certificate was released. Feeling restless with my life and finding inspiration through others.

Osama bin Laden reported dead. Started on our documentary-watching kick with No End in Sight... interesting in light of the "end of the Iraq War" (December 2011). Tina Fey wrote a book with a prayer for her daughter that made me laugh out loud. We start discussing, in earnest, some ideas for how we'll change our lives in 2012.

Read The Crash Course, which blows my mind wide open. I start to learn about building a lifeboat. I start to re-imagine what I really want my life to be like, not just what I always thought it would be like. Marriage equality passes in New York... finally.

We spent some time in Vermont and Grace started to like big dogs. My last living grandparent passed away.

We went on a luxurious week-long honeymoon to Yosemite National Park and surrounding areas. Husband turned 30. Prepared for tropical storm Irene, that never really came to NYC. We continue thinking about making a big change in our life, moving forward in a different direction - and we keep reading things that encourage us that we're on the right path.

I reflect on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks of 2001. Caught my daughter singing on video. Read a couple of good books for my online book club. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) begins.

24 Things Challenge. Read a book that invited me to reflect on how a few years can really change your whole life. Stumbled upon one of the simplest and most inspiring cartoons ever.

Started a 30 Days of Thx project, inspired by ThxThxThx (a new favorite blog of mine) and even got into Twitter a bit, learning what a #hashtag is and embracing that forum for a while. Participated in the first rehearsal for A SUPERHERO - standing proudly next to my husband, the creator.

Went to a few holiday parties where even my almost-two-year-old daughter stayed up way past her bedtime. Inspired by the achievements of two dear friends, I started Weight Watchers. Caught up on all my favorite Christmas movies like this and this and this new one (well, new to me). Talked to family, a few friends, and our employers about a big life choice we're about to make - more on that in 2012.