Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What I learned: How the Worst Moments Make Us Who We are

Andrew Solomon has given two of the best TED talks I've yet to hear.  The man is incredibly brilliant and an equally compelling story teller.

In a talk I listed to last night, "How the Worst Moments Make Us Who We Are" - he had, as usual, some incredible tidbits of wisdom and an approach that is both creative and informative.

Here are a few of my favorite lines:
"As a gay father, I can teach them to own what is wrong in their lives, but I believe that if I succeed in sheltering them from adversity, I will have failed as a parent."

"A Buddhist scholar I know once explained to me that Westerners mistakenly think that nirvana is what arrives when all your woe is behind you and you have only bliss to look forward to. But he said that would not be nirvana, because your bliss in the presentwould always be shadowed by the joy from the past. Nirvana, he said, is what you arrive at when you have only bliss to look forward to and find in what looked like sorrows the seedlings of your joy."

"We don't seek the painful experiences that hew our identities, but we seek our identities in the wake of painful experiences. We cannot bear a pointless torment, but we can endure great pain if we believe that it's purposeful. Ease makes less of an impression on us than struggle. We could have been ourselves without our delights, but not without the misfortunes that drive our search for meaning."Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities," St. Paul wrote in Second Corinthians, "for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

20 months

Today you turn 20 months.  Definitely not a baby anymore and most definitely a bubbly, happy toddler.  As you have since day 1, you amaze me every moment.  Your gentle nature, your desire to make those around you happy, your cuddly spirit.   None of that has changed and I hope it never does.

The connections that go off in your brain these days continue to amaze us.  Your vocabulary grows larger with words like banana, bus, truck, bubbles, duck...   Your favorite activity is reading your books about cars and trucks or playing with your cars and trucks.  It's all about transportation these days! You'll point to trucks on the street, you'll roll your truck along the floor or table or any surface you can find.

As you grow up before our eyes, I try to hold on to each day and all the goodness it brings knowing that busy as it, one day I will long for these early morning hugs and evening lullabies.   Sweet, kind Joseph.  Thank you for blessing us today and every day these past 20 months.  There is nothing better.

(this picture of you cracks me up!  Thank you for being perfectly you, Baby J)

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Summer seems to always move in an extra fast pace.  The weekends have been filled up with visitors and entertaining and more visitors.   I won't lie that a part of me is already ready for the cooler temps of September and the slower pace of life that the fall brings.  It's, without doubt, my favorite time of the year.  But for now, summer is what we have and it's not a bad place to be if I can just surrender to the busyness of it all.

We've been taking full advantage - going to outdoor concerts, grilling, fruit galore, playing cards after dinner - trying to be present in the season.  Like everything else, it's temporary and the long, cold dark days of winter will be here.   But I can't help but wonder what happened to the lazy, slow, days of summer?  When did the slowly dripping ice cream cone give way to a pace of legitimate hustle.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Smoked Gouda

In an effort to make more lunches and save money and calories, I've been bringing some simple but tasty lunches to work.  Some days I bring a cooked sweet potato, some days leftovers from dinner and others (though less frequently) a salad.

Last night I was prepping some quinoa to bring in.  I wanted to cook it in a veggie stock - so I added some carrots, pepper and celery to my sautéed onion and garlic mix.   Worried that the flavor would still be too bland, I added a leftover chunk of smoked gouda I had from a party.  Amazing.  The entire broth filled with a perfectly smoky, salty flavor without adding bacon or pancetta (which in my experience hasn't worked nearly as well not to mention how much less healthy...)    I added a cup of quinoa and some cannelloni beans and voila - lunch.  Easy, healthy, cheap and tasty.

I'll definitely be remembering to try it in more recipes too --- the flavor profile is fantastic.


Monday, July 14, 2014


In my younger years, I sometimes felt a compulsion to explain myself, or suggest to someone a better way or wonder about their way of doing it.  It wasn't from a place of malice, in fact - quite the contrary.  I wanted to help or show a shorter and possibly more efficient way.

But these days, I'm letting go of that.   I have learned, I think through the tiring journey of parenting, to save my resources.  Not everything or everyone needs my full attention, my 100%.  Of course, not everyone wants my opinion on things either.

It's helped.  I feel less exhausted and less distracted.  I feel more centered and less affected.   Not to say I will watch someone make an obvious mistake, but sometimes not feeling a compulsion to help or make it better or prevent a fall is the best thing for everyone.   I try to be honest and tell people what I'm doing and if they care to know, I'll tell them why I'm doing it that way, but I no longer feel a need to justify myself or convince them to try it themselves.   Maybe it will be better for them, or perhaps it wouldn't.  Either way - as CS Lewis has said, "Experience - the most brutal of teachers but you'll learn, my God, you'll learn."   Most often, people have to see it themselves anyways.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Catching up...

So much has been going on that it's been distracting me from posting here.  It's like - I've got so much to say, it's easier to just not say anything!  But I appreciate the practice of keeping up with this space, so I'm just starting where I am and what I feel like talking about....

Omnivore's Dilemma - I'm about to finish it and   You guys, it's so good, I am enjoying every second of it.   I highly recommend it if you are curious about food, culture, anthropology, sustainability, or simply just smart, well researched interesting writing.   It's one of those books that I don't want to end.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A break for Oysters

Last week as we upped the pace of our house yet again and prepared for a very special visitor to join us for the summer, or longer, I was starting to feel overwhelmed.   The head under water feeling was palpable.  I felt I was slipping and worse, knew life was going to get busier in the coming weeks.

Before I fell from the zen platform I'd been happily residing on for a few months, I called the nanny asked if she could stay a few extra hours and called my husband and asked if he could meet me at a pre-baby favorite spot of ours, a local oyster bar.   The weather was beautiful, we met at the bar, drank some beer, ate our first oysters of the season and just simply chilled.

And let me tell you, it worked.  It was just enough time to ourselves to take a step back, breathe and enjoy.  All was going to be fine - better than fine, all was really great.   A sign of my maturity, I suppose.  I no longer seek perfection or avoid difficulty.  They are just a part of the human experience.  The important thing to remember, as I've said so many times on this blog before, it's all part of the ride.  It comes, it goes.  Nothing, good or bad, is forever.

But lest me not forget the healing power of oysters and beer on a warm summer night.