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Leigh Newman (186 posts)
Has this every happened to you? You're walking down the street, eating a muffin—which, like all muffins, is really a cupcake with added bran—while simultaneously talking on the cellphone:
You: I'll meet you [chew, chew] at six at the restaurant.
Your husband: Honey, I told you before [wind blows, the muffin paper crinkles in your hand] the dinner is at [boom-boom of woofers from a passing car] eight o' [dog barks, somebody else's cell phone rings playing "Last Friday Night" by Katy Perry) clock.
You: Right! [fire engine wails by] Got it!
Your husband: Great.
You: Six o'clock! [Child cries over skinned knee, disturbed man screams at the corner about the radio signals in his back molars] See you there! Don't be late!
Everybody seems to talk about how fast the world moves now. But rarely has anyone pointed out how loud is it—and how this changes us as listeners. Do we really hear each other anymore? More importantly, do we hear the small subtle noises that create such texture in a day—the clink of ice in a glass, the velvet whirl of the fan?
Last month celebrated sound expert Julian Treasure gave a TED talk on how to become a better listener. One of his exercises is to take a few minutes and savor the "hidden choir" in the everyday—for example a clothes dryer that thumps to rhythm of a waltz worth dancing to. Discover these sound secrets—and four others—that help you tune into the sound of your own life.
My mother has a saying: It's easy to be nice...(long, potent beat)...when you're feeling nice. The same holds true for forgiveness. It’s to forgive the easy, inconsequential things—being stood up on a date or cut in front of in line at the grocery store. But what about the big wrenching losses, those life-changing wrongs that you know you must forgive—not just for the person who let you down, but for yourself? (Bitterness, by the way, has been recently proven to reduce lifespan.)
Earlier this month, hearing about Farid Singh (from India) receiving an email from Qais Hussain (from Pakistan), we were astonished. In the email, as the website Good originally reported, Hussain claimed to have shot down Singh's father's plane—killing him—back in 1965 during the Indo-Pakistani War. Worse, Singh's father was an innocent civilian. Hussain sent his apologies and condolences, writing that "the unfortunate loss of precious lives, no matter how it happens, hurts each human and I am no exception. I feel sorry for you, your family, and the other seven families who lost their dearest ones."
Even more astonishing, was Singh's letter back...
We all believe in change at Oprah.com. But when you're in jail, that change is all the more difficult—if not, in many cases, impossible (one study found that 52 percent of all offenders in America end up re-incarcerated). This summer, as the Today show originally reported in this moving, altogether inspiring interview, an organization called Hope House reconnects kids with their incarcerated fathers by offering both parties a chance to catch up at an in-prison summer camp, complete with sing-alongs and art projects.
Much of the news coverage focused on the kids and how they become more open and loving to their dads after the weeklong experience. But listen to what counselor Rachel Foley says about the fathers toward the end of this clip.
Just to recap, Foley describes how putting a child in front of his dad transforms "the man from the nothing the prison makes him believe he is to the father he knows he is."
Which serves a great reminder to all of us. Sure, not all of us are in prison. Sure, there may be big differences between our lives. But the goal is the same: getting to that split second of visible change where we become who we want to be.
Every week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. On sale today...
By Maxine Swann
Why we loved it: One single American divorcée, two new mysterious friends to go out with, an entire city of handsome, sexy, endlessly interested Argentine men.
What made us want to move to Buenos Aires: "Flamboyant, the Buenos Aires trees bloom not once but at several seasons. The jacaranda tree has pale purple blossoms that fall off long before they're withered, littering the ground with pale purple trumpets; the palo borracho has pink blossoms, hand-sized, the whole tree flames up with them; the small yellow flowers on the tipa trees give off a dizzying scent. ... On the lawn that falls down from the Plaza San Martin, people lie out to sunbathe or sleep, exhausted in the middle of day. ... In the evenings, in darker spots, near where there are trees, you could practically make love, and people do."
The bigger picture: Does living in a foreign country—far from friends and family—help you discover who you already are? Or help reinvent you into the person you've always wanted to be?
The guilty pleasure: Traveling through the aristocratic, glittering cocktail parties of the Argentine elite, where Europeans and Americans are elevated—for better or for worse—to the status of semiroyality.
The authentic surprise: Nobody tangos.
Monday is too stressful. Wednesday is already hump day. But Tuesday is "you" day: a day when you have the energy to do—or plan—something fresh and unexpected that might just turn your whole week around.
Treat your family on Thursday, also known as Cupcake Day. How to make fluffy, scrumptious, strawberry flavored treats from the famed cupcake experts at Sprinkles.
Honor your inner King during National Elvis week. How to shake up a cold, sweet, smooth Velvet Elvis cocktail.
What to do with all those fresh-from-garden tomatoes that are taking over your kitchen and your life? How to make your own vat of ketchup (with a slightly spicy kick).
Treat yourself some revitalizing, life-lifting karma. How to feel good and help the world in 2 minutes this Friday, National Humanitarian Day.
Last Tuesday, when Diana Nyad gave up her quest to swim—without a shark cage—to Cuba at age 62, we all cried. We cried even more when the New York Times reported that Nyad said she had no regrets and that she had concluded that the combination of her injured shoulder and the asthma attack made continuing impossible.
So we moved over to her blog to grieve with her, where her supporters Candace Lyle Hogan and Elaine Lafferty said, "This was always about the importance of reaching beyond your grasp. Of course, a shore-to-shore success would have been nice—it was what Diana wanted, passionately. There’s no sugar coating for that; her disappointment is real. But for her contemporaries whom she so specifically addressed, this was always about the attempt, about the courage to risk wanting anything passionately again—or maybe even for the first time.... "
And we agreed, sobbing over our keyboards (okay, that was just me). Then we stopped. Because, the glory of Nyad's efforts was about her passion and willingness to try, but, geez, it was also about what she accomplished. As one Twitter fan so insightfully pointed out, "[She] 'only' made it halfway to Cuba?"
Fifty-eight miles of open ocean isn't exactly nothing. Which serves as a little reminder: sometimes what we achieve is something other than what we dreamed, but that doesn't mean it's failure.
Other writers are contributing essays on specific topics, such as Bono and Nicholas Kristof on social action; Ellen DeGeneres, Stanley Crouch and Henry Louis Gates Jr. on equality; Elie Wiesel and Toni Morrison on writing books; Julia Roberts and Diane von Furstenberg on culture; as well as Maria Shriver and Gloria Steinem on women's issues. Dr. Phil, Mark Nepo and Marianne Williamson will discuss personal growth, while Dr. Oz and Bob Greene will weigh in on health and wellness. Plus, an added surprise: a tribute to Oprah by John Travolta and Phil Donahue.
Consider it a readable, shareable, can't-put-down hope chest from the last two-and-a-half decades. (Inside hint: Preorders are available today.)
Yesterday, the New York Times profiled a project being run by the Scholar's Lab at the University of Virginia. Kelly Johnston, a geographic information systems specialist, created a series of maps that used Census Data to calculate the Jeffersonian ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The "life" map was made by color-coding areas of the country according to their life expectancy at birth statistics (the south, unfortunately, faired poorly in this area). The "liberty" map was made by color-coding areas according to their incarceration rates (not so free: Nevada, Texas, the panhandle of Florida and Colorado) The "pursuit of happiness" map, however, was based on "the ratio of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments to the total population."
The Times suggested that low population numbers of Wyoming and Montana skewed their high happiness levels. But speaking without any authority whatsoever, I find the whole criteria a bit fishy. Arts, recreation and entertainment (ie: paintings, skiing, and a matinee showing of Planet of the Apes)? Yes, these things make us happy, but what about people who don't like those activities? Surely, these folks pursue happiness too.
After doing zero research and obtaining not a single Phd, I deeply believe that the only truly accurate measure of national happiness is...drumroll...ice cream. Have you ever met a person who didn't smile at a double-dip in a waffle cone with sprinkles? Even raw food people like it. And vegans, if it's sorbet. And people who slam the door on children shaking little boxes of change for UNICEF.
A map of the country's ice-cream parlors, ice-cream trucks, and restaurants serving the frozen dairy delicacy might give us a much clearer view of just how assiduously the nation is pursuing happiness. Then again, if people are eating ice cream, they may not have to pursue anything—they're already happy.
Every week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. On sale today, the paperback version of the quiet, heartbreaking sleeper novel:
by Michael Knight
The story only a novelist could think up: Van, the fastest U.S. Army typist in the occupied nation of post–World War II Japan, becomes the babysitter to the young son of General MacArthur.
The blurb says it all: "This book awed me." — Elizabeth Gilbert
The words that capture recovering Hiroshima, circa 1947: "A scrap of metal. A hunk of concrete. A man alone. Difficult to imagine that anything had ever existed in this place until you noticed the scorched and gutted hulks of buildings big enough to survive the blast rising like weird barnacles on the landscape."
The astonishing event that takes place in that same landscape: A football game, the Tokyo Giants versus the Hiroshima Bears.
The reason to read: Quirky, must-be-true historical details pop up throughout the book, but the straightforward narrator makes us question difficult, universal concerns, like, How can you possibly take care of the people you love who seem to be unable to love even themselves?
Looking for a good book? Try these 27 sizzling summer reads.
My toddler has a blue fabric banner that hangs on the wall at home. On the banner is a little bear with a blank face. Below him are little pockets, containing all the different faces you can stick on the blank one: the sad face, the happy face, the silly face, the sick face, the angry face. This is supposed to teach my son about emotions (as if life doesn’t do that already). However, one face is missing: the movie-sad face.
A good movie-sad, as we all know, is totally different than a regular sad—in that you get all that sorrow and grief without having to actually lose or break up with anybody. Movie-sadness will stay with you over time,too, causing you to cry openly, should you remember a certain scene while spacing out a work or should you hear the theme song by accident (The Way We Were? Love Story? Anybody? Everybody?)
A few weeks ago, Scientific American reported on the film clip most used during psychology experiments to inspire tears. The winner...drumrolll...is the final scene in the The Champ. Even thinking about this scene makes me want to cry. I can hear Ricky’s scraped little voice, see an earlier image of his dad carrying a stuffed animal that he won for Ricky at carnival but was unable to give him because of some tragic plot twist that now escapes me since 30 years have passed since I’ve seen the film.
The doctors in charge of selecting the scenes say that finding the right scene is tough: “Some film scenes were rejected because they elicited a mixture of emotions, maybe anger and sadness from a scene depicting an act of injustice, or disgust and amusement from a bathroom comedy gag. The psychologists wanted to be able to produce one predominant, intense emotion [sadness] at a time."
Perhaps they need some help from a woman with absolutely no qualifications save for the ability to weep madly into box of popcorn slathered in butter-flavored oil byproducts.