Friday Faves

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In action, gratitude is a thankful appreciation of whatever floats your boat, makes you feel good, puts a smile on your face, or simply augments your existence, be it tangible or intangible. Gratitude is also good for you according to researchers at Harvard, UC Davis, UC San Diego, and plenty of other places. 

Friday Faves are a zippy accounting of what's helped carry me through the week, with a healthy dose of gratitude for each. Today, I give it up for: 

  • I'm away for the weekend sans children or husband. Girls' trip!
  • I'm away for the weekend sans children or husband. Girls' trip!
  • I'm away for the weekend sans children or husband. Girls' trip!
  • I'm away for the weekend sans children or husband. Girls' trip!
  • I'm away for the weekend sans children or husband. Girls' trip! 

Three Questions to Ask Yourself

If you don't know who Luvvie Ajayi is, you should get familiar and her Ted Talk is a great way to start. The gist is this: Ajayi advocates disruptive behavior, but not in that cliché, it's-a-current-buzzword-so-I'm-going-to-use-it-and-be-annoyingly-interruptive sort of way; instead, she encourages us all to speak our minds and get "comfortable with being uncomfortable." 

The gist is very Ghandian in spirit - you know, be he change you want to see in the world. The change in this case begins with speaking up when you see a problem or something that needs to be move in a different direction (change!). IMHO, I think a lot of people stay silent because we've become used to this image of the disrupter being off-cuttingly arrogant and bulldozer-ish, yelling and stomping feet as the catalyzers that simply invite change because everyone else wants their relative peace back. Ajayi, however, flips this notion on its head, and offers a kinder, gentler way toward the greater good that is more effective than the image conjured above. More effective in that it invites others to listen, it gives them buy-in, and in turn, effects change that lasts. When you see something that you'd rather not stay silent about, Ajayi advises you ask yourself these three questions:  

  • Do you mean it?
  • Can you defend it?
  • Can you say it with love?

Answer yes to all three and you should be on your way. Similarly prescriptive advice can be found within Buddhist texts and other sources (Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it necessary?), but the bottom line is that speaking thoughtfully, truthfully, should be the norm, rather than the exception. If you can embrace this, you will be well on your way to becoming an incredibly effective communicator and changemaker. 

Friday Faves

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In action, gratitude is a thankful appreciation of whatever floats your boat, makes you feel good, puts a smile on your face, or simply augments your existence, be it tangible or intangible. Gratitude is also good for you according to researchers at Harvard, UC Davis, UC San Diego, and plenty of other places. 

Friday Faves are a zippy accounting of what's helped carry me through the week, with a healthy dose of gratitude for each. Today, I give it up for: 

  • Recycled Runway: This stunning feast for the eyes and mind that happens every year in Boulder, Colorado and I am privileged enough to be on the organizing committee. I do the PR + Communications for the show on a pro bono basis, but my work is super easy as the show creates its own magic with style and ease. Every year tween and teen designers work for hundreds of hours to create haute couture out of recycled and found materials and the culminating event is a fashion show and competition. It sells out in a heart beat and the energy within The Boulder Theater the night of the show is always positively palpable. You can read more about this year's RR9 here, or here, or even here and definitely give it a follow on FB and Insta @recycledrunwayboulder. Next year is the 10th anniversary, who knows what might be in store???
  • Mid-April: Crisp blue skies, ever-greening grass, buds on the trees, bees starting to buzz. Bliss. 
  • The feeling of accomplishment you get after working on something for many, many months and it finally happens and it's good. 
  • The Heirs by Susan RIeger: I just finished this novel about a tight-knit family whose patriarch has died. The female protagonist's calm in face of so many other people's stormy emotions and her steady dedication both to her family and her sense of right keep swirling about in my mind. It's a story about many things, but one of them is how life doesn't turn out they way we plan, there are secrets and snafus, but we survive and we move forward and we learn to hold on to the pieces of ourselves that keep us grounded. 
  • 2 days in a row meeting-free, which means I have time to take care of business (TCB)! 

Difficult Conversations

Lately I've noticed that there are two predominant, yet highly disappointing and futile, methods of dealing with difficult conversations among many adults. The first, is to yell, dig in, and state your firm, unwavering position. The second is to avoid it altogether and develop a story in one's own mind as to how horrible things are, how they got so horrible, and how they'll never get back to good again, whatever the case maybe. Newsflash: neither of these work. 

Whether it's our digital lives or our protective human instincts that are curtailing our ability to communicate, difficult conversations need to be had. They're necessary at work, at home, at school, wherever you have something at stake. And here's the big secret, once you start these so-called "difficult" conversations, they're actually not that bad! 

Since everyone is either yelling or avoiding and narrating often vitriolic, one-sided conversations in their heads, being the one to buck these trends and actually communicate turns out to put you in a great position.

This is a widespread issue and varies widely based on subject matter, the people involved, and the context, so this is something that I'll revisit again and again. But for now, a few tips to remember if you're thinking about taking a leap and having that difficult conversation: 

  • Just do it. Letting negative feelings fester won't do anyone or any situation any good, so the first step is to convince yourself to start the conversation. 
  • Stay calm. This might mean that you have to wait a few days (or weeks) to arrive at a point where calmness is an option. So wait and when the time comes, then embark. 
  • Be honest, be open. As the adage goes, "There are two sides to every story." Wrapped up in our egotistical worlds, we forget this, even though we've heard it a million times. Life is filled with many more grey areas than black and white ones, so allow yourself to know that your story is one side and there is another side to which you should listen as well. 

    Friday Faves

    The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In action, gratitude is a thankful appreciation of whatever floats your boat, makes you feel good, puts a smile on your face, or simply augments your existence, be it tangible or intangible. Gratitude is also good for you according to researchers at Harvard, UC Davis, UC San Diego, and plenty of other places. 

    Friday Faves are a zippy accounting of what's helped carry me through the week, with a healthy dose of gratitude for each. Today, I give it up for: 

    • Our terrific public schools here in Boulder Valley and the teachers who have helped to make this a special year for each of my kids. Teachers have it rough and we're seeing strikes pop up around the country right now, so this is my small thank you for all they do for my 3 very different children. 
    • National Geographic: I grew up with stacks of these babies all over my house and would spend hours poring over the vivid imagery. Now, I can't get enough of some of the mag's contributing photogs and their Insta feeds - check out Paul Nicklen and Brian Skerry if you have a few hours to spend immersing yourself in their magical relationships with nature. PLUS, my son is heavily into geography and Nat Geo hosts a Geography Bee every year, a super cool way to keep them learning and their minds expanding. 
    • Sanat Fe: Just got back from a jaunt down there for Spring Break. The landscape of the high desert, the spiritual mysticism, the food, and of course, the ART down there enthralls me to no end. 
    • Tulips! 'Tis the season, my bulbs are peeking out through the soil. Love the vibrant colors and the bouquets in yards and vases throughout the Spring! 
    • Bread! I set a goal this year to learn to make homemade bread - a modest goal compared to other's perhaps, but one that I wanted to go for - and I've been doing it. There is a completely unwarranted amount of smugness from me about this, but boy oh boy, do I feel proud of myself as the kitchen fills with that fresh-baked smell and the first slices are cut. I made a fresh rosemary sea salt loaf this week - YUM. 

    Friday Faves

    The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In action, gratitude is a thankful appreciation of whatever floats your boat, makes you feel good, puts a smile on your face, or simply augments your existence, be it tangible or intangible. Gratitude is also good for you according to researchers at Harvard, UC Davis, UC San Diego, and plenty of other places. 

    Friday Faves are a zippy accounting of what's helped carry me through the week, with a healthy dose of gratitude for each. Today, I give it up for: 

    • The many movements (that go beyond the hashtag) that have sprung to life in recent years and each become powerful change agents rising up to put things on the right tracks. I am particularly inspired by the young people, the people of color, and the women who are using their voices. #marchforourlives, #voteforourlives, #nationalschoolwalkout, #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, #timesup, #enough
    • March Madness. Did I list this one last week? I don't care! I love, love, love March Madness! Yes, I know the NCAA has some issues, but filling out a bracket and watching the games - the games! There have been so many upsets this year! - is a thrill I look forward to every year. All this praise despite Michigan State's loss destroying my bracket this year...Barack Obama and I both had them winning the whole thing and that's definitely not happening, since they're OUT OF IT. 
    • Snow! It's been a terribly dry winter here, so any late-season precipitation we get is terrific. 
    • Spring Break! Skiing and a road trip to Santa Fe are on the agenda. I adore Santa Fe and am so excited to visit Meow Wolf for the first time while there. 
    • Paul Nicklen, National Geographic photographer. I follow him on Instagram and am smitten with every photo he posts. He's also a founder of a kickin' nonprofit called Sea Legacy, whose mission is to restore our oceans to their healthy and abundant states. Check it out if you're into that sort of thing. 

    How to Become a Cinderella

    I love March Madness, perhaps I've mentioned that. Every year, there are upsets and then this year, there was THE upset. For the first time ever in Men's NCAA history, a #16 seed, UMBC, beat a #1 seed, UVA, and it was stunning. (The Harvard women pulled off such an upset against Stanford back in 1998...obvi, women took care of business first!). The UMBC win was a thrashing; they outplayed UVA every step of the game. Most people - myself included - didn't even know what UMBC stood for. It's University of Maryland Baltimore County, btw, and as with most Cinderella stories, theirs wasn't the by-product of a magic wand and some fairy dust. No, indeed. This UMBC team used the heart and grit and skill that it had developed over the course of countless hours of practice, study, and teamwork. 

    The moral of course is that in order to become an overnight success, you have to put in countless hours, probably even years, of hustle. The moral is beautifully recounted in the words of the great Freeman Hrabowski, UMBC's lauded President and noted mathematician, in an essay he wrote for The Atlantic this past weekend after the team's historic win. It's worth a read and a great reminder that there is a story of grit and determination behind every overnight success. 

    Friday Faves

    The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In action, gratitude is a thankful appreciation of whatever floats your boat, makes you feel good, puts a smile on your face, or simply augments your existence, be it tangible or intangible. Gratitude is also good for you according to researchers at Harvard, UC Davis, UC San Diego, and plenty of other places. 

    Friday Faves are a zippy accounting of what's helped carry me through the week, with a healthy dose of gratitude for each. Today, I give it up for: 

    • The New Yorker: My parents always had this beloved weekly around the house when I was growing up and now I have a parma-subscription for me and my family. Last week the magazine gave me nightmares with the ghoulishly brilliant reporting on stink bugs and this week (just like last week and every week before that going back to the beginning of time) I'm planning to win the cartoon caption contest. Hope springs eternal. 
    • Daylight Savings: I know, those first few days are rough, but...the longer days are lovely. 
    • Playing tennis with my kids: The afore-mentioned longer days have allowed us to get out on the court a couple of times and it's a lot of fun to see the kids progress and hit the ball with them. 
    • Libraries: This is not entirely altruistic since I'm on the Board of my local library, but I love libraries and how they are changing to meet the needs of communities and of the 21st century. Libraries truly are centers around which much of a community can revolve. 
    • Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups: No explanation needed. 

    People Love a Good Story: Tell Them One

    Science Magazine recently published this article about the spread of news stories online. To me, it reads a bit like one of Aesop's fables. Researchers discovered that false news travels farther and more quickly than true news, most likely because of its novelty and the emotional reactions that it inspires. The boring old truth, doesn't seem to go nearly a far or as fast. The moral? Perhaps we need to communicate the truth in better ways. 

    Of course, there is no panacea and it seems to be that we live in a world that embraces fiction over fact, but we mustn't forget that adage "fact is stranger than fiction". 

    What if we flipped the current paradigm upside down? 

    What if we re-centered ourselves in truth? 

    What if we stopped filtering everything and starting embracing the beauty in honesty? 

    In such carefully curated world, it only makes sense to me that people should start embracing fictions so easily. After all, when our own profile pics are airbrushed ad nauseam and things so simple as our lunches or kids' snacks are carefully curated for shared imagery, a story that's more embellished and dramatic that we can share with an "OMG! The horror..." sort of intro seems like a surer bet for likes and shares/retweets. 

    However, if we step back and embrace what is, we find that there are many stories to be told within the truth, within reality. And it is within this reality that we can start to tell our stories in a bold way, with the audacity of honesty, and stand out that way. People love a good story, so start telling them good stories. 

    Friday Faves

    The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In action, gratitude is a thankful appreciation of whatever floats your boat, makes you feel good, puts a smile on your face, or simply augments your existence, be it tangible or intangible. Gratitude is also good for you according to researchers at Harvard, UC Davis, UC San Diego, and plenty of other places. 

    Friday Faves are a zippy accounting of what's helped carry me through the week, with a healthy dose of gratitude for each. Today, I give it up for: 

    • A Wrinkle In Time: No, I have not yet seen the movie that hits theaters today, but I did recently finish re-reading the book with my children. It was a favorite of mine when I was in grade school and it was even better reading it with my kids. Bonus? We picked up our copy of the book - the same edition I read back in the day - from the delightful Alabaster Bookstore in Union Square on a recent trip to NYC. 
    • The feeling of accomplishment at finally starting the blog section of this website. (It's been on my to-do list for almost a year! Better late than never!)
    • Honesty between friends. 
    • Vegan spaghetti bolognese! 
    • And of course...FRI-YAY! My energy level has been dragging this week and tomorrow is the first Saturday in 8 weeks that we don't have to wake up early to get the kids to ski lessons, so having a bit of a lie-in is going to be great!