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Amy Shearn (558 posts)
The Fourth of July is all about Big Fun, right? There's the food: meaty, creamy, over-the-top feasts chosen without any regard in the least to swimsuit season. There's the wardrobe: the extravagance of red-white-and-blueness. And of course, the fireworks: huge, pointless, amazing, impossible, glittering bits of fire in the sky. Sure, they're noisy and dangerous. But somehow a sky full of glitter induces the most world-weary spectator to "Ooh" and "Ahh." Somehow the right combination of fireworks and crowd and music always manages to inspire a moment of patriotic weepiness, even if only in the most abstract of ways.
And yet, it must be said: Sometimes it rains or some child gets a marble in their ear and has to be taken to the er—and fireworks are missed all together. And sometimes it's still blazing hot at 9pm. And sometimes you want a dose of Big Fun that's just a little, well, smaller. Quieter. Specialer. So just in case, here's a back-up. Michael Brodner's "Fourth" provides a moody, contemplative fireworks display for your own private sparkly-swelling-of-sweetness. Now visible from the comfort of your own, preferably air-conditioned, viewing station.
A few more links to help you enjoy your holiday weekend—and we'll see you back here Monday, July 9:
Christina Ferrare's Fourth of July Menu
Unexpectedly Delicious Summer Food Combos
It's not exactly the news everyone's talking about, but I have no idea why not: Three astronauts have just landed safely on Earth, after living on the International Space Station for the past year and a half. That's right. While we go about our terrestrial business -- following celebrity gossip, doing the dishes, grumbling about our commutes which totally do not involve spacesuits and plummeting through the atmosphere --these people have been living in outer space.
You must see the whole article on Discovery News, which includes a photo of the Soyuz capsule landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan, buouyed by a parachute, looking exactly like a child's toy. I find it mind-blowing that this goes on and that we aren't all running around in the streets, giving each other high fives. They lived in outer space! And then they came back! In a little floaty capsule thingy that someone engineered, that someone else built! It worked! It works over and over! I mean, I'm sorry, but space is really far away. Space.com has some amazing images of the landing, and the astronauts exiting the space capsule, which can't really be a bathysphere made from trash bags, the way in looks in these photos.
NASA astronaut Don Pettit wrote of his experience living on the space capsule,
"On Earth, the frontiers opened slowly. The technology of sailing was known and advanced for over a thousand years before the Earth was circumnavigated. Such bold acts require the technology, the will, and the audacity to explore. Sometimes you have one, but not the others. I only hope that my small efforts here, perhaps adding one grain of sand to the beach of knowledge, will help enable a generation of people in the future to call space 'home.'"
He kept a must-read blog of his time on the International Space Station, which includes poetry, photographs of Earth from space, and hilarious guide to space-dinner-party-etiquette.
Isn't it thrilling to remember that in these know-it-all times, there are still Big Adventures to be had? Frontiers to explore? People doing completely crazy things like, well, this:
A Message From Outer Space
So You Want to be an Astronaut
Teenager Shoots Her MIT Acceptance Letter Into Space
NASA Astronauts Having Fun on the Moon
Nussbaum explains how the resulting charts Quicken creates help her to see a snapshot of her life, what she values, what she needs vs. what she wants, what matters to her and how she lives. There are financial planning benefits, sure -- she shares how Quicken changed the way she saves, for example -- but it also creates a snapshot of a life. Remember that deserty treat shared with a friend? Quicken does. How much of your resources do you devote to groceries? Lunches? Shopping? Mysterious CVS purchases? (As Nussbaum puts it, " I like to be detailed, except when the charge is from CVS, because I can never remember what the hell I went in there for.")
In other words, your banking is telling a story. The question is, what kind?
Suze Orman's Money Class
Make the Most of Your Money
Circa 1991, my friend Dana and were busying ourselves videotaping some absolutely killer unintentionally-Martha-Graham-inspired choreography in my basement. It was recently suggested that these tapes may still exist and my blood turned cold with dread. Why didn't anyone warn me YouTube would exist in the future? I remain cautiously, hypothetically humiliated. And so my first thought when I saw this completely amazing video of Ryan Gosling and his sister tearing it up to C+C Music Factory at a Mormon Talent Show, was, "Oh, poor Ryan Gosling! How embarrassing! That hair! That silky shirt! Those...moves." Hold on -- Baby-Gosling has got some moves.
And I realized something. In an era where sex tapes make people famous, when fortunes can be made from babies biting fingers, there is no more embarrassment. (Note to Dana: Even, so, do not I repeat not upload. We were no talent show winners.) Is it a sillying-up of society? Do all the troubles in the world -- war, crumbling economies, Twitter outages -- send us searching for goofy refuge in ridiculous dances? I don't know. But what I do know is that dancing preteen Ryan Gosling is impossible to take your eyes off. And that anyone with that much charisma at age 10 probably has never heard of this esoteric, old-timey word "embarrassment."
The Rainbow Xylophone of Joy
The Most Energizing Dance Video Ever
The other day I was feeling bummed about the paunch, and was glumly considering my options. I asked my neighbor, who's a personal trainer, where I should start. "Three minutes running, three minutes..." "Crying?" I guessed. "Um, no. Walking. No crying." A run in the 90 degree heat? Okay. I immediately went to air-conditioned cafe and the thing is they have these really special donuts.
Evening plans: shame spiral.
Then I was talking to my husband, and moaning about the paunch, and a thought struck me: I love this problem. Don't get me wrong, it's a problem. If there's one thing I hate more than working out, it's shopping for clothes, so never getting back to my normal size is out of the question. But I am so mindblowingly lucky that this is my problem. I mean, I'm not talking the-mom-in-What's-Eating-Glibert-Grape obesity here. And I'm not starving either. I mean: Hooray! It's just a non-delicious muffin top! That's not to say I want to keep it around, but it did occur to me that if I treated my problem with loving kindness, or more accurately, an amused detachment, it's possible that I would have less angst and more energy to combat it. Like, instead of feeling depleted by it, I should be thankful for it. Hey, baby weight! Wasn't that fun when you served a purpose? Guess what, buddy? The baby's out! The baby walks and talks! So, listen, you know what you might really enjoy, is this, it's called "salad"! How lucky, to have this paunch around to convince me to exercise!
What's your paunch? -- that little problem annoying your subconscious all day? A small debt piling up on the Victoria's Secret credit card you refuse to believe you even have? A kitchen that seems to mess itself up when you're sleeping? A sense that your blah haircut is the key to all your life's inadequacies? Trust me, I know that there are big problems that are hard to love: bankruptcy, disease, bangs that refuse to grow out gracefully. But maybe if we can remember to treat our paunch-like problems with love, we can remember that it's actually kind of fun to, I don't know, run for three minutes.
9 Rules for Everyday Senseless Joy
The No-Gimmick Way to Make Change in Your Life
Ach, the unanswerable questions of a preschooler deep in the whys. Here's something I've discovered: If asked enough questions enough times, you really do start to think of yourself as a Personage With All Answers. So the last time we had this conversation I said, authoritatively, "Well, there's not really that Wonder Woman. But there are other wonder women who help solve problems and make people act nice." She seemed to accept this, although she did want to know whether or not they all wear American-flag-themed leotards.
And as if in answer to my own why-why-why's, here they are: the real-life wonder women. Fast Company has assembled this auspicious, inspiring, and thrilling group of influential women who answering the question: Can a devoted group of concerned women change the world? The League of Extraordinary Women includes powerful CEOs, leaders, and politicians who are working to improve the lot of women and girls throughout the world. As one example, Maria Eitel, the CEO of Nike, was inspired by a visit to Africa (and in particular, the smart girl she met there who was about to married off in exchange for some cows) to start The Girl Effect, the purpose of which is "to inspire girls to believe in themselves; to deliver resources girls need to grow; and to remove the barriers that hold them back." From giving women micro-loans to help them start their own business, to providing access to clean water, the organizations these extraordinary women have started are changing the world, one step at a time.
You have to pore over the whole list to understand the scope of this league of real-life wonder women. Just prepare yourself for a buzz of happiness and relief that these people are using their powers for the purposes of so much good.
Why We Need More Female Leaders
Powerful Women in Training
For more information on why birth defects are up in Iraq, how Preemptive Love is connecting kids with surgeons who can save their lives, and what you can do to help, visit Preemptive Love's website.
Providing School Supplies for Iraqi Children
Healing in a War Zone
Today, June 22 is, as I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone, Take Your Dog To Work Day. Please don't tell my dog, Quimby. She is, if you squint, a lovable mutt, but her proclivity for face-licking renders her palatable to extreme-dog-lovers only. Should your canine companion be of a mellower disposition, you might want to learn more about Take Your Dog To Work Day at the official site, which includes tips for TYDTWD success and, obviously, the official TYDTWD song. (Warning: There are totally dog barks involved. And it's pretty catchy.)
This may seem like a newfangled phenomenon, but dogs have actually been getting involved in people's toils for decades. For example, did you know that dogs helped the Allied Forces during World War II? Whether you are a pet-owner who regularly scoops piles of animal-hair off your floor and jokes, originally, "We could make sweaters out of this stuff!" or just a connoisseur of adorable fluffy animals, please enjoy this vintage reel from the awesome British Pathé:
So there you have it. Dogs don't have to be useless couch-warming face-lickers (ahem, Quimby). This Friday, let your dog feel useful, whether you're taking her to work, enlisting her in a cause, or letting her do her best job of all: being your buddy.
Dog-Inspired Rules to Life By
Why Raising a Dog Changes You
Life Lessons from Pet Dogs
So I was gratified to read that Vogue is launching an initiative to promote healthy body images in all its many editions. The Vogue Health Initiative pledges to portray models over the age of 16 who do not appear to have eating disorders. I know what you're thinking: how will everyone agree on what constitutes "healthy" or even "does not appear to have an eating disorder"? But... at least the conversation continues.
Body Image Quiz: Would You Rather Be A Whale Or A Mermaid?
Supermodels Dealing With Their Body Issues
Here are a few:
"I lack the motivation to exercise..However, there is nothing quite like a big dumb dog to give you the kick in the pants. Mine will let me sit on the couch for about 1/2 a minute in the morning drinking coffee. Then it’s so on. She’s a herding dog so magically I become an unruly sheep."
"Set a time limit (I usually give it one day) and wallow. Drink gin. Eat chocolate and junk food. Watch Lifetime movies in bed. Make it an official party and invite friends, if you want. When I give myself permission to be in a funk, as well as a deadline, I’m usually eager to face tomorrow and my ubiquitous to-do lists."
"When we were training our dog, every time she went to the bathroom outside we would have a “puppy party” – dance around, give her treats, lots of pats, and lots of praise. I think we all need to have “puppy parties” for ourselves, especially for some of the small tasks that normally no one recognizes. Clean the kitchen? Organize the closet? Do the laundry? Every once in awhile, I think those all deserve some ice cream, or chocolate, or snuggle time on the couch with an old movie."
"What I have found motivates me is cheating on to-do lists. If I don’t feel productive, then I make a list of things I need to do (broken down into SMALL parts) & I always include a couple of things that I have already (completely or partially) accomplished. That way, my list is not “to do,” but instead “partially done.” It’s a small mind trick (a la my clock being 5 minutes fast), but it seems to work for me."
What about you? How do you give yourself a "kick in the pants"? Tell us in the comments!