Completely mindful

February 25th, 2015

Don’t worry about whether you’ll do it for 10 minutes or an hour. Don’t worry about how good you’ll be at it, or what people will think of it, or whether you’ll succeed or not. Those are not relevant to the task.

Just do. Put your mind completely in the activity, in the motion and ideas and emotions, in your body and breath and surroundings. Be completely mindful, completely immersed.

Leo Babauta, Zen Habits

Ruckusmaker day

February 24th, 2015

Happy Ruckusmaker Day! 

To wit: February 24 is Steve Jobs’ birthday, and Seth Godin suggests that the day should be Ruckusmaker Day, an international day to “not only have a point of view, but to change it when the times demanded.”

Here’s a little more of what Godin wrote:

“Steve’s contribution wasn’t invention. Technology breakthroughs didn’t come out of his basement the way they did from Land or Tesla. Instead, his contribution was to have a point of view. To see something and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. To not only have a point of view, but to change it when the times demanded. 

Most of all, to express that point of view, to act on it, to live with it.”

But how do you celebrate the day if you don’t feel like a ruckusmaker? If you’ve got nothing to say, should you celebrate Steve Jobs’ birthday by using an iPhone while simultaneously eating cake? What if you want to keep your voice quiet? What if your opinions will alienate others, create conflict or make you uncomfortable? What if you’re an introvert who prefers to keep to herself?

But you probably do have something to say, whether in a tweet, a blog post or a letter to a friend. I’m not the loudest person at a party, I don’t tell the funniest stories, and I despise conflict in my personal life. I like to think about things before acting. However

There’s value in being the quiet voice of reason. Sometimes doing the work and sharing it with the world is more radical than the loud, cult-leading ruckusmakers would have us believe.

Sometimes that is how you make a ruckus. 

Here’s Seth Godin again: “Share your taste and your perspective with someone who needs to hear it.”

Sometimes the quiet, working-on-my-own types are the ones who change the world and make an impression.

Consider:

  • Janet Rowley, a cancer researcher who raised her family, worked from a small laboratory and at her dining table, and discovered one of the first major connections between cancer and genetics.
  • Emily Dickinson, who seldom interacted with others but left a legacy of poems studied in most American literature classes.
  • Abraham Lincoln, no parenthetical needed, who is widely considered an introvert.

So today, I’m celebrating the ruckusmakers both loud and quiet. You do you, world. Someone out there needs to hear what you’ve got to say.

Other notes: 

  • Here’s how Twitter is celebrating #ruckusmakerday.
  • ruckus is explicitly defined as a “noisy fight, row or disturbance,” but did you know it’s actually thought to have come from combining two words (ruction and rumpus)? And ruction is thought to be slang derived from insurrection. Let the wild word rumpus begin.
  • It seems apropos that Chicago is voting on a day labeled as “ruckusmakers day.” What better way to demand change and use your voice than to vote in local elections?
  • If you’d prefer to celebrate muckrakers day, then let’s recognize the investigative press efforts of reporters who are covering these horrific “black sites” (aka illegal detention centers). To my knowledge, there is no official muckrakers day, but the phrases kept getting mixed in my head like a weird cultural tongue twister, thus I’m making the connection intentional. I salute all my friends who are reporters and news editors, helping to share important news with the world!

Top image from illustrator Stanley Chow  via Joe’s Daily

 

Curated: Thinking warm, happy thoughts

February 20th, 2015

 

1. I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, on learning he has terminal cancer

 

2. Watch

Here’s a very sweary, funny cooking show that answers the questions, “What is a Thermomix?” and “Is risotto just dinner porridge?”

3. Have you read…?

4. Eat

We’ve reached the point in the season where I’m so over soup. (We’ve done butternut squash, split pea, black bean, beef stew, curried lentils… You get the point.) So I like the idea of something warm and healthy, but not soupy. Enter Crispy Oven-Baked Honey Garlic Tofu Bites from i am a food blog. The same culinary genius offered up “beeramisu” last week, so I suspect we’re in good hands with that recipe.

Top image by Andre Freitas, via the free stock photos on Unsplash

You should read…

February 19th, 2015

“You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re laughing.

You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re crying.”

- Janet Potter, “28 Books You Should Read If You Want To,” from The Millions

Radiant frost

February 18th, 2015

The Poetry Foundation has a lovely roundup of snow poems for us. Good for those of us buried in it, sliding through it, or even the jerks staring at the news and pitying the rest of us.

I’m drawn to this one:

oblivion melting          snowcrust the wind

everything                     variable

                                        enough to

                                        play

                                        the blossom with us,

                                        no, there it

                                        goes behind

                                        the garage

But it’s tough to beat the phrase “radiant frost” from Percy Bysshe Shelley, as below:

I love snow, and all the forms
         Of the radiant frost;
I love waves, and winds, and storms,
         Everything almost
Which is Nature’s, and may be
Untainted by man’s misery.

Other good snow-day reads:
Stop jumping out your windows, Bostonians! The mayor is worried about you.
Antarctica needs a postmaster.”
And here’s Niagara Falls, frozen.

Image via the Library of Congress archives, one of my favorite places to find charming old photos

For wizards and other magical beings…

February 17th, 2015

Today’s random discovery is a nerdy and fantastic set of Harry Potter-themed travel posters, featuring Hogsmeade Village, Platform 9 3/4, and the Forbidden Forest.

Created by the Magic Mushroom Paper Company, which also has a bunch of other fantasy-inspired goodies

Deep thoughts…

February 10th, 2015

“Look at the fourteenth Dalai Lama, who is, for my money, the sanest person currently on earth. He says simply, ‘My true religion is kindness.’”

- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird 

Curated: Also known as “addicted to the ‘net”

January 25th, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shoulds in my life are many. I should join the gym in my office building, I should eat fewer baked goods, I should finish reading that Haruki Murakami book on my nightstand. But one thing I never have trouble making time for is reading online. You can see where my priorities lie. Here’s the latest stuff I’m digging.

1. “You can be influenced by a book you haven’t read, by the idea of something you’ve merely heard of.”

Julian Barnes interviewed in The Paris Review

2. Subscribe:

I’ve been experimenting with different e-newsletters, and so far two have made the cut for longterm reading: 1. the Ann Friedman Weekly for great reads and thoughtful links and 2. Now I Know for daily weird trivia and interesting factoids.

3. Have you read…?

4. Eat!

It’s got to be some kind of sign that my daily reading feed had Orange-Glazed Polenta Cake (drool) right next to a recipe for Burnt Orange Salty Caramel Sauce. (The sign is saying, “OMG, eat me, where’s the vanilla ice cream?”)

PS – But then again, maybe I should go for these no-bake cookie bars?

Top photo via NASA, because space is awesome

 

 

Curated: Some reading for your New Year

December 31st, 2014

I read a lot, and I’m trying to find a way to share the best of those reads with my friends. (I guess I’m saying, I have good taste! You would like to see these things!) So as a New Year’s gift, I’m putting a bunch of things together that you should read/laugh at/view/enjoy.

1. “Just find the thing you enjoy doing more than anything else, your one true passion, and do it for the rest of your life on nights and weekends when you’re exhausted and cranky and just want to go to bed.”

An oldie but a goodie from The Onion, and one I like to consult as I think about “resolutions” for the year.

2. Follow the New York Public Library on Instagram.

The library is sharing handwritten, retro reference questions on the account, telling Gothamist, “we were Google before Google existed.”

3. Have you read…?

I’m taking this advice from Austin Kleon via Twitter:

With all the year-end, best-of lists coming out lately, my Amazon wishlist is out of control.  This round-up of 2014′s best books (from Brainpickings) is a good one.

But let’s note: we should have some non-electronic reading in the mix. That is to say: Stop reading on a screen before bed! It’s killing us.

Other things to read this weekend:

4. Drink!

For a cozy New Year’s Eve, drink this Irish hot chocolate.

For your  post-holiday, less-sugar, resolution purposes, drink this detox spa water.

Top photo via HuffPo’s “The 52 Best Photos from Around the World in 2014.” Reuters also has a round-up too, though it’s a lot heavier, violent and graphic

 

Motherhood update: One year of parenting

December 29th, 2014

A photo posted by Suzanne Wilder (@thewilder) on

My baby boy arrived more than a year ago. It was 4:19 a.m. on a Saturday morning, to be precise. He was a strong little beastie, right from the start.

He has chubby legs and squishy arms, dimpled elbows and a jiggly belly. He has soft skin and sharp teeth. He has red hair that is growing asymmetrically from that swirly-point at the top of his skull.  I can tell you about my baby, and most other babies are similar. (But let the record show, they are not THE BEST BABY (TM).) When he giggles, I do whatever it takes to repeat the sound. Popping bubble wrap, making weird noises, crawling under blankets, being smothered by a chubby babe who is trying to say, “Tickle tickle!”

He walks on two feet now. Sometime around 9 months, he started standing regularly next to furniture and taking a step or two. By 11 months, he was getting braver and taking a few steps away from furniture and away from guiding hands. By 12 months, he was toddling around fearlessly and falling occasionally on his bum with a gentle, diaper-padded thud.

And yet, even after a year, the permanence of motherhood is still occasionally unnerving. Gone are the days of leisurely reading on the sofa, strolling around a grocery store aimlessly with two free hands, and leaving steaming hot beverages on low tables.

Also, holy moly, the vigilance required for these early years. The electrical sockets, the books he might destroy, the breakable things you didn’t even realize a baby would grab-and-smash. (For example, a stoneware dog food bowl.) Every item in your home is a candidate for eating, climbing, carrying, opening, poking, or drumming.

Some people call it “the longest shortest time.” And other people call it “the hardest job you’ll ever have.” Cashiers ask how old he is, and I say A YEAR now. “Enjoy him while you can! They’re so fun at that age,” the sales clerks cheer at me. Already, I look at new parents with fresh-from-the-womb infants and think, “How much has changed! How big my boy has gotten!” Photos of pregnant me seem like an alternate universe. The girth of that belly! The quiet of baby-free life!

I’m not going to lie. I miss sleep. Other things I miss: Nights out with no babysitting plan. Drinking more than two beers (or wine) at a sitting. Wearing sweaters without fear of getting covered in baby crust. (Baby crust is usually food, but occasionally slobber, boogies, and other mystery substances of parenthood.)

My dog suffers. Her walks are short and efficient, though she is getting older. She tolerates baby pokes and pets, squeals and squeaks, and being walked indoors by a toddling goofball. On the flipside, she eats more table food than ever. Someone keeps dropping food from his chair, and the floor is an endless source of doggy snacks at meal times.

Things that multiply mysteriously: Toys. Clothes. Crumbs. I blink and new plastic objects appear in my living room. Each season brings, essentially, a new wardrobe of sizes and layers. Socks are paired successfully twice, at the most. The boy despises wearing all socks and shoes, and he disposes of these torture devices as quickly as you can say boo.

He says “mama” in many ways, meaning different things. He mimics noises and teases new words often now. Something like “dada,” as well as variations of “George” (for Curious George), “fish” (when eating Goldfish crackers), and “tickle” (when tickling people).

Motherhood is enormous joy and frequent naps. Motherhood is MOAR COFFEE. Motherhood is diapers. Burp rags. Neck bites. Food-crusted onesies. A bizarre satisfaction when baby boy cries at my morning departure. Guilt about diaper rash. But the LOVE. It’s tough to beat. It’s everything I hoped and more.

But send coffee. Please.