|Get the best of Oprah.com in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletters!|
Amy Shearn (558 posts)
Wait...Tea? I'm such a caffeine fiend that my 3-year-old is trained to wake me up with a "Mama, it's time to make your cup of coffee!" But the way
blogger (Tea & Cookies) and author (The Butcher and The Vegetarian) Tara Austen Weaver writes about tea, I almost believe I love it as much as she does.
In a recent post, Weaver, who shares my morning routine obsession, writes: "I know some who eat the same breakfast, day in and day out. Some people use the same bowl or cup (a friend of mine recently visited and brought her favorite mug with her). There are tea and coffee rituals galore. These are the ways we lure ourselves out of bed, ground ourselves for the day ahead." As all of us routine-obsessed folks know, the morning ritual takes on heightened significance around this time of year. Mornings are darker and chillier, making it harder to launch out of a cozy bed. Those of us who leap out of bed are forced to awaken in those way-way-pre-dawn hours really need a good reason to make the eternal trek from the bed to not-the-bed.
Like, maybe, the promise of the perfect cup. Coffee, tea, whatever it is doesn't really matter. As Weaver puts it, "What matters is that I do it. That I take the time for this small thing that grounds me for the rest of the day. That even on hectic mornings, in fearful times, on shaky ground, I am able to wrap my hands around a warm cup, inhale a fragrance both comforting and calming. In that small moment I feel like, Yes, I can do this. And then I get on with my day."
Because she can. And I can. And you can.
(Read Weaver's entire blog post for its rapturous celebration of that morning cup of tea but also for the can't-miss comments, in which her readers share their own lovely morning musts, snuggly cats, oldies stations and all.)
What Successful People Do in the Mornings
17 Ways to Get Out the Door Faster
Stress-Proof your AM Hours
No, I'm not suggesting any sort of twit-pic-ing. Rather, this is about Blog For Your Breasts Day, a day of internet awareness-raising. Breast Cancer Awareness month can be a tricky time for women; we want to get involved and show how much we care and fight against this awful disease, and we suspect that eating yogurt with a pink ribbon on the top isn't quite cutting it. But we're not, most of us, medical researchers. We're not (all) oncologists. How can just caring make a difference? Well, three years ago the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation started Blog For Your Breasts Day, urging women to reach out to their communities and encourage others to take action too. This year the goal is to direct readers toward the Health of Women study. Here, you and your readers can take part in a study for men and women with and without breast cancer that aims to gain a better understanding of breast cancer and what causes it. (And if you don't have a blog, you can share in a Facebook note, too.)
When you take the pledge to participate in Blog For Your Breasts Day, you will be sent an official BFYBD badge to publish on your site. And of course you can also celebrate the way girls everywhere do -- by wearing lots and lots of pink.
Fabulous Ways to Fight Breast Cancer
Hope-Inducing Breast Cancer Cure Breakthroughs
You have to really remember what it's like to be in the hothouse of high school to realize how brave such a statement is. Kropp was recently the victim of a mean-spirited prank, when classmates at her Michigan high school nominated her to the Homecoming Court.
As a joke.
According to the Huffington Post, Kropp was so embarrassed she said she contemplated suicide. It makes the heart ache to even read.
Then something unprecedented happened: the entire community rallied to support the sophomore, who had been repeatedly bullied because of her black clothing and multicolored hair. (If I'd gone to her high school I would have had a total friend-crush on her for these very reasons, but apparently there are not so many me's in West Branch, Michigan.) The Huffington Post reports that "Instead of allowing Kropp to be defeated by the bullies, the small farm community rallied around her, convincing her to attend homecoming despite the joke. Several business in the town volunteered to buy Kropp dinner, take her picture, do her hair and nails, and dress her in a stunning red gown and heels for the big day." And most importantly, the support from her hometown should help Kropp to know in her heart what a local nail technician said: "In high school, everything means everything to you. You don't realize that none of it will matter after you leave." Truer words, I suspect, have never been spoken.
The Support Whitney Kropp Facebook page has over 60,000 likes -- head on over to show your own support, and to get updates from the team. And even if you escaped high school decades ago, it never hurts to look yourself in the mirror and repeat after Whitney: "I'm a beautiful person and you shouldn't mess with me!"
How to Deal with a Bully
The High Price of School Bullying
We all have those Life Traffic Jams sometimes. You know the feeling. Maybe everything looks okay from the outside, as it did with Emily Finch; she had a beautiful family, a big house, and drove a Suburban around, and yet, something was just off. As she recently told Bike Portland, she was depressed and "at a time in my life when something had to change." As anyone who's ever spent some months or years stuck in a Life Traffic Jam knows, sometimes you just get out of that car and start walking in the other direction. in Emily Finch's case, this happened to be a very literal solution. This mother of six got a bike. Make that, a family bike:
That's right, Emily Finch transports all her six kids around in a bike, outfitted with a specialized cargo bin called a bakfiets and an added children's bike at the back. According to Bike Portland, Finch had never biked until a few years ago, when she started feeling stuck and dissatisfied. So where most of us would think, Okay, clearly I need to make things easier on myself (or, uh, is that just me?), Finch decided to sell her huge Suburban and lug her kids around town in a family bike. You must read the entire post over at Bike Portland for details on how this petite 34-year-old powers her enormous bike (she estimates that with the kids, their gear, and a load of groceries the total weight tops out around 550 lbs!).
In part the family bike came out of Finch's desire for her large family to create a smaller carbon footprint. But also, as she put it, "When I saw that bike, I knew it. I said, 'This is it. This is going to change my life.'" And she's right, the bike has transformed her life and the life of her family: they've saved lots of money not having a big car; Finch lost the 25 lbs she thought she never would; they even ended up moving to Portland because it was more bike-friendly and open-minded than the small town they lived in before. Trading the car for the family bike has changed the scope of their days and outings, and has introduced Finch into the welcoming community of fellow bikers.
As you might imagine, it's not always (ever) easy, but Finch says, "it's changed my life. I can't really explain it. In the end, my bike just brings me happiness." And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how you tell a Life Traffic Jam who's boss.
Try Biking to Work
Workouts for Any Schedule
There's nothing like a good old-fashioned "We Are the World"-style anthem, am I right? Many voices (preferably with a high percentage of celebrities), joining together in catchy song, to support a cause you weren't totally completely sure was a cause at all? Turns out, today is National Voter Registration Day, and guess what -- according to the nonpartisan group L.O.V.E., AKA "Let One Voice Emerge," the largest group of non-voters in America is unmarried women. What? Ladies, nearly 20 million of you are not voting! Not to nag, but remember how just a few generations ago, it was illegal for women to vote? It is a mighty power we have been given. Let's not abdicate it because it seems like a pain to get to the polls, or to get registered (it's not).
In the meantime, let Fergie, Keke Palmer, Patti Austin, Sheila E., and many many others inspire you to vote like your life depends on it. (Which it just might.)
Drew Barrymore's Voting Campaign
The Impact of the 2008 Presidential Election
I like fun months, like National Honey Month (September) and Women's Friendship Month (also September). Then there are the not-fun-but-important months, like Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (uh, also September). I'm not sure there's any combination of words more awful than "childhood" and "cancer." Okay, so I wrote that sentence and then stared at it for about ten years. How to transition from there? It's just too awful. Arnold Palmer Hospital's Illuminate Blog acknowledges the difficulty of Childhood Cancer Awareness: "People really don’t want to talk about it...We don’t talk about it because it scares the living daylights out of us. The very idea that it could happen to my child, to my family is more than we can bear. It’s an unbelievably heart-wrenching thought: caring for your child as they suffer and knowing that you are powerless to take away their pain. But, for some it is their reality; it’s the hand they were dealt."
Then there are the kids who have to live through it all, and who display strength of spirit that makes most adults look like overgrown pansies. Kids like Talia, a 13-year-old who has been battling cancer for six years. Six years. When she first started to lose her hair from chemotherapy, she tried wearing wigs, but according the Illuminate blog, she said, “It just didn’t feel like me...Makeup is my wig.” Talia started posting her makeup tutorials online and has become something of a YouTube phenomenon. This girl is really gorgeous, with unrealistically huge dark eyes right off an illustrated princess, but as her vlog reveals, she's also incredibly fierce, brave, and (you knew it was coming...) beautiful on the inside.
It's easy to glaze over at the words "Childhood Cancer," to shut down out of self-preservation -- some things are just too sad to comprehend. But kids like Talia make it real, and help us to understand that if a 13-year-old can say, "Having cancer has been a gift, but yet a horrible, horrible, terrifying thing," then the least we can do is listen to her.
Collecting Jokes To Help Kids With Cancer
Unexpected Help for A Teenager In Need of a New Leg
The bakery chain Sprinkles has begun a "Pay It Forward" campaign designed to bring a little more, ah, sweetness to the typical partisan squabbles. Every day until Election Day, members of Congress can get a dozen cupcakes from the Georgetown Sprinkles shop for free -- if they have it sent to a representative or senator from the opposing party. According to Washington City Paper's Young and Hungry blog, Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson hopes “to inspire a spirit of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.”
I'm sure political junkies and sugar fiends alike can agree that this is one of the more original ideas we've heard out of Washington DC in some time.
What Oprah Knows About the Importance of Voting
Like Julie Mangano, a blogger who recently lost her elderly father, and has written eloquently about the grieving process on her blog. In a post called "Driving With Dad," Mangano writes about the special bond she always had with her father, and in particular about a game they used to play: "Very early on in life my dad tried to teach me to read his mind. He created some flashcards with names of colors on them. He would hold up the blank side of the card to me and tell me to close my eyes, focus on what he was thinking (what?) and guess which color was named on the back of the card...After a few hours, I could name the right color every time he held up a different card. In retrospect it probably was more because I learned the patterns he used to switch around the cards and try to trick me... Whatever the reason, our bond was established and we remained deeply in sync for the rest of his life."
Do you ever feel as if you just need to be scrubbed clean? As if there were some authentic self there, but you just haven't seen her in a while, distracted as you've been with work and family and the difficult work of maintaining everyday life? Like you know the real you climbs mountains and writes haiku every weekend, but you somehow just haven't found the time to deal with her lately? Like maybe there's something hiding beneath the surface, like, say, a $600,000 lighthouse.
Allow me to explain: according to Art Info's In the Air blog, an 18th century painting attributed to the studio of French painter Claude-Joseph Vernet was recently sent to the cleaner's by an art dealer in preparation for the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair this week. (Check out the blog for the dingy pre-cleaning painting.) When the dealer got the bright-and-shiny-painting back, he found there was an entire section that had been painted over. There was now a lighthouse completing the composition, which not only changed the whole feel of the painting, but most significantly, revealed the painting to be in fact a work of Vernet himself, vastly increasing its value -- 16 fold.
There's always something exciting about a work of art that harbors a secret. And I love the idea that something so simple as a good cleaning could change a painting's fate, make an art lover a mint, and most of all, reveal a work's authenticity.
If only there were official restorations for people. It would be something between a spa day and a religious conversion, just a good soul-scrubbing, a little life-brightener.
The Power of Authenticity
Cultivate Your Own True Self
September 22 was the Autumnal Equinox, when day and night will be the same length for one strange day, before we slip into that cozy-or-depressing-depending-on-your-perspective darkness of autumn and winter. Every year the equinox inspires a 50/50 night and day of mixed emotions, too. I mean, don't you just love fall, with all its appley-pumpkiny-leafy crispness and opportunities for sweaters? And then there's Halloween, basically the only holiday worth celebrating. And yet there's always that dark, cold, mucky winter-chaser to gulp down afterwards, about which most of us feel less enthusiastic. So what do you do on the equinox? It must be something slightly mysterious, I think, slightly odd, in touch with nature in some askew way. Like, maybe, silent dancing?
Allow me to explain: a friend of mine recently shared this video, AKA the most beautiful, strange, haunting "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" report in the whole land of Facebook. She explained that she was strolling along on a hot summer night in Lisbon when she came across these people silently dancing the tango outside a church. The result is a dreamy spectacle, captured in a hazy camera-phone movie that I've since watched approximately 80,000,000 times, wishing I were one of those dancers. Something about the silence and the darkness make them seem not like individuals but like a force of nature.
So why not dance silent tangos at midnight in the week after this equinox? You don't need a church, just any sacred-ish space will do -- a backyard, or a courtyard, or a roomy fire escape -- and the will to give yourself permission to dance to the moon even when there is no music. Or at least watch this video a few times, while contemplating the mysteries of the universe. Happy Equinox.
The Making of Oprah's Flash Mob
A Democracy of Dancing