The cottage is made up of four rooms — a kitchen, a living space, a bedroom, and a bathroom — all tiny, adding up to a mere 400 feet or so. Flanked by forest green paneling and narrow white beams, the space appears fragile but represents resilience. It looks as if one of the many fierce Midwestern thunderstorms that rage each summer could destroy it in one mighty gust, but it has withstood hundreds….maybe thousands of them of the years. Read more
Posts from the ‘Love’ Category
“Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.”
– Mary Schmich Read more
A beautiful essay that was written a few years ago has been making rounds on the Internet again lately. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth taking a few minutes right now: How to Talk to Little Girls. As someone who was once a little girl myself and is now an adoring mother of my own little girl, this essay strikes a very personal chord. The big message is this — the topics we bring up, the questions we ask, and the little things we notice about every little girl we interact with contribute to the way she sees the world around her…and her place in it. Our words and actions send signals about what matters — a danger zone when the loudest words relate to being cute/beautiful/ruffled/princess-y. Whether we mean it or not, by calling out a little girl’s haircut instead of the book she’s carrying, we’re telling her that the way she looks is more important than what she’s able to learn and do. Read more
The August issue of Real Simple features an article called “Live Long and Prosper,” which talks about the keys to healthy aging. I’m thankfully not very focused on aging yet, but I always like articles like this one for the quick dose of perspective they offer. This piece features centenarians sharing snippets of advice about how to live a long (and inherently good) life: Read more
Ever heard of the 7-year itch? Popularized by a 1955 movie starring Marilyn Monroe — aptly titled The Seven Year Itch — it’s the idea that marriages are most vulnerable to unravel at the 7-year mark. I’m particularly in tune with this right now as my husband and I approach this milestone this summer, so my ears perked up when I caught part of a City Arts + Lectures talk by anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher (NPR ran it last night…you might be able to find the podcast on Stitcher). Read more
I wrote a post last month about laughter — and specifically, how kids laugh hundreds of time every day, but somehow grow into 40-yr-olds who can count their daily giggles on one hand. My kids teach me this simple lesson — laugh more — every single day. Actually, I think that kids are full of wisdom — innate, untouched, beautifully naive, human wisdom — that can help us be better, more real, and more well grown-ups. Here are a few of my favorite bits of wisdom from the wee ones:
Believe that people are good until they do something that makes you feel otherwise. And then be open to believing they are good again.
Seek happiness for the people you love.
It’s OK to ask “why” 5+ times in a row.
Running is faster than walking.
If you’re scared, tell someone.
It feels amazing to learn new stuff.
Sleep…or you’ll be cranky.
Huge, long, wraparound hugs feel amazing.
All art is beautiful.
How about you? What life lessons have you learned from a child, and why do you think we lose sight of the basics as we get older?
I drove past a shirtless guy today HAMMERING down the road with earbuds in and a toddler in his running stroller. Seriously, he was running like he was being chased by the mafia (or his wife trying to get him to do the laundry)…sprinting so fast that I wanted to buy his kid a helmet and a pair of wrist guards. I was both in awe and sort of terrified, wanting to applaud him and report him at the same time. This guy is obviously not alone — according to the Guinness Book of World Records:
- The fastest time to complete the 10 km (6.2 miles) Pram Pushing race: 34 min 19 sec (by Russell Stokes pushing his daughter Paris, at the Sydney Striders 10k Race, Sydney, Australia, on 1 March 2008)
- The fastest female time to run a half marathon while pushing a pram: 1 hr 30 min 51 sec (by Nancy Schubring (USA) at the Mike May Races Half Marathon, Vassar, Michigan, USA on 15 September 2001)
- The male record for the fastest time to run a half-marathon while pushing a pram: 1 hr 15 min 8 sec (by Neil Davison (UK) who completed the City of Norwich Half Marathon, Norfolk, UK on 12 June 2005)
- The fastest time to run a marathon while pushing a pram: 2 hr 42 min 21 sec (by Michael Wardian (USA) at the Frederick Marathon, Frederick, Maryland, USA, on 6 May 2007)
A 2:42 marathon pushing a stroller — seriously? And people are competing for world records in stroller pushing — really?
I’ve done my fair share of fast running with a stroller (usually when it was the only option or when I couldn’t quiet a screaming baby at 5am). And in those moments, I was overwhelming grateful to be able to get out the door at all; it was often the only chance I had at a real-deal workout. So I totally respect and understand sprinting stroller man…and seeing him reminded me that for every thing there is a season.
But as time has gone on, and the kids have grown tired of sitting for long periods of time and I’ve wanted to carve out workout time as “me time,” my stroller runs are now more about company and conversation. They’re about us, not me. We talk about the seasons and traffic patterns and how the flowers smell and how the neighborhood construction projects are coming along; and the kids ask questions like “why does that car have a blanket on it?” and “why did that guy walk when the light was red?” We look at the ocean. We figure out what we’re going to eat for brunch afterwards. We don’t count miles, we count park benches. We have low heart rates and high spirits.
I’ve learned to love these runs for what they are — family time. And save the sweaty sprints for the treadmill.
I came across a compilation yesterday called “The Pace of Modern Life.” It includes excerpts from articles published between 1871-1915 lamenting feelings of continual acceleration, fears about the deterioration of play, and concerns about the dying art of conversation/long-form thought. Sound familiar?
Swap “tweet” for “letter” in a few of these excerpts and they could have been written today. We’re fretting about our 240-character “essays” and steady stream of photos in the same way people 100 years ago worried that the efficiency of the post was reducing the value of a thoughtful letter. This raises the question — is this a technology issue, or simply one of the complicated realities of the human condition? Is it about a universal truth that human beings struggle to slow down when the world around us seems to be speeding up?
There’s a lot of talk about slowing down these days (at least in the bubble we call Silicon Valley), and there are lots of questions about whether we’re heading down a road where people think in snapshots, not paragraphs and our memories live in the cloud, not in our hearts. My answer: we need to look at our own lives, our own routines, our own values, and our own priorities in order to find the balance between the gifts technology gives us and the real-life reflection and connection we need as humans. Each of our needs…and each of our answers will be different. But I’d bet that slowing down might actually help most of us speed up in the grand scheme of things.
Here are a few simple ways I’m trying to find this harmony (TRYING is the operative word here):
- Unplugged mornings (running/writing/reading in the mornings instead of typing)
- Email “blocks” (checking email at set intervals versus constantly)
- Walking meetings (no urge to check email/phone during the meeting if it’s not available)
- Tech-free dates (leaving my phone in the car when I’m out with my husband)
- “Day in review” talks with the kids (lie in bed with the kids at night at talk about their days)
What about you? Is it hard for you to slow down amidst a fast world outside? What helps you slow down during the day or week?
…we’d bond more quickly and more deeply.
…we’d make new friends + treasure the old.
…exercise would be a lifestyle, not a scheduled activity.
…we’d sing more often and not worry about being out of tune.
…meals wouldn’t be eaten alone.
…we’d write and read more letters.
…the sun would warm our backs.
…even the fiercest competition would still be friendly.
…we’d be ourselves.
…money wouldn’t cross our minds.
…we’d make stuff.
…we’d notice the stars in the sky.
…giving and getting “warm fuzzies” would happen every day.
…we’d hug more.
…we’d sleep soundly through the night.
What’s one thing you can do to make tomorrow feel a little more like summer camp? Tis the season…
Photo by Natalie Lucier, via Flickr Creative Commons.
Life is full of transitions — big ones like getting married or having a child or starting a new job, and small ones like watching day turn into night and shifting from weekend to work week. These transitions are a great time to reflect — even if just for a few minutes — on what’s going well and what’s not. They’re a good time to check in about whether we’re rested or tired…energized or ambivalent…taking care of ourselves or not…and prioritizing the things that matter most. I consciously thought about these things for a few minutes as I drove to work this morning, taking stock of how the weekend went and what intentions I want to set for the week ahead. Here are some reminders I’m holding onto as the work week begins…
Little Eyes Are Watching: Our 2-yr-old daughter was busily working on her own in the kitchen yesterday. I assumed she was “cooking” something in her play kitchen until she told me it was time to begin “spin class.” She told me she had water and pistachios ready in case we got hungry and thirsty, and she was ready to turn up the music and SPIN (note: she has never been to a spin class…she’s only heard me saying that I’m going to one…so her version of spin class was literally SPINNING, until I was sick and dizzy and ready to fall down). The point here is: as parents and as people…we don’t always realize how our behavior is impacting the people around us. If I had spent the weekend watching TV, my daughter likely would have organized a Downton Abbey marathon…not a spin class. Health begets health….something I posted about a few weeks ago in Cheering Us On.
Deliciousness Can Be Easy: My mother-in-law was visiting this weekend, and she’s a great cook. What I love about her cooking sensibility is that she focuses on simplicity, and she proves that great cooking doesn’t need to be complicated. She made a beautifully seared prime rib, roasted potatoes and spinach and mango salad with seemingly minimal effort. No recipes required. I covered this idea of simple meals in an earlier post — 3-Ingredient Meals — and I love seeing it in practice. It’s a great reminder that time need not be a barrier to healthy + yummy cooking.
Technology is Complicated: If you missed it, this New York Times essay, “How Not to be Alone” is thought-provoking as we think about the role technology plays in our lives and how it can shape our behavior. Here’s a teaser that might make you want to take five minutes to read this: “I worry that the closer the world gets to our fingertips, the further it gets from our hearts.” If you’re interested in the conversation about technology and well-being, here’s an earlier post about the power of unplugging.
Make New Friends, but Keep the Old: We spent time with three different out of town guests over the weekend (mother-in-law, old friend from Wisconsin, and old friend from Calgary), and I was reminded how important it is to invest in lifelong relationships. I know it’s cheesy, but I’ve always loved the piece about friends in that famous Baz Luhrmann “Sunscreen” poem/song: “Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.” Both new and old friends add huge value to our lives…and seeing old ones face-to-face is an important reminder that we need both.
The Power of Focus: I don’t have any weekend revelations about purpose to share — after all, it was just a weekend! But I did do a bit of thinking about focus. We went to a park Saturday that’s famous for kite-flying, and I loved getting lost in the moment while watching the colorful kits swirling in the air (similar to the Hockey Moments I covered a while ago). Our lives have the potential to be totally absorbed by distraction, making focus elusive. Jonathan Safran Foer quotes Simone Weil in the loneliness essay I mentioned above: “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” This is so true…generosity to others…and to ourselves. This leads to my intention for this week…FOCUS. Less email, more making stuff. Less breadth, more depth. Less interruption, more impact.
What’s your intention for the week? And does it stem from something you did, read, heard, or realized this weekend?