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Family (71 posts)
But how, oh how, do people do it? I'm still furious about a prank that was pulled on me in seventh grade. People like me would do well to study Fatemah Golmakani. This woman is a beacon of goodwill and forgiveness. Her 22-year-old son was murdered last year in an act of gang violence so brutal that Golmakani suffered a heart attack while hearing the details in court. Since the four killers were sentenced to prison, Golmakani has summoned up vast forces of compassion, and now plans to start a charity to help the teens who killed her son.
According to the Huffington Post, Golmakani said, "What these men didn’t realize was that when they murdered my son, all their hopes and dreams were buried in Milad’s grave with him." She wants to start a charity that will include a safe space for troubled teens -- and you'll never guess how she plans to raise the money to get her charity off the ground. This woman is the definition of large-hearted, and it occurs to me, this is what it truly means to be a mother. The care-and-feeding-of-the-young is one part of it, but also there is this, the consciousness that every troubled person, even a criminal, is somebody's baby, has a damaged child inside of them. That everyone, even a murderer, wants to be forgiven and loved. If only we could all go through our daily lives remembering this, what Fatemah knows: "that forgiveness is the greatest remedy for grief."
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Admit it. You've yelled at the television before. "Don't marry her!" or "Don't go into the BASEMENT!" or "How could you do this?!" -- getting a wee bit more emotionally involved than a glowing screen probably deserves. And you've probably cried at a novel, knowing the characters were fictional. And you've certainly heard a song and passionately sang along and felt inexplicably moved, even though it was telling a love story not your own, recounting drama you hadn't yet encountered, because, well, you're in kindergarten.
Enter: these kids, rocking out in the backseat to Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know." I could watch this video eighty-thousand times. They are FEELING this song, they really are. And as Lauren Yapalater points out over at BuzzFeed, they run the gamut of emotions, from ferocity to indifference to heartbreak:
I love that these six-year-olds are feeling this song so intensely, full as it is of raw emotion that they have, surely, not yet experienced for themselves. But isn't that what art is to kids (and maybe to us adults too, really) -- emotional practice? I think this must be why toddlers insist on hearing the same scary story over and over from the safety of a parental cuddle, why kids love the parts of picture books where everyone cries, why tweens rock out to endless love songs: they know on some level that these are experiences they are destined to have, and that the pop-song-version is an easy, safe tutorial for how to deal when the trouble comes. From the looks of things, these ferocious, passionate, hilarious kids will be just fine.
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Already a mother of two, Campbell breezily writes about how these babies are an antidote to her periodical bouts of baby fever, during which she forgets about the sleepless nights and endless diapers and starts thinking up names. And she writes about how she loves those babies, while she has them, with all the love she has to give. "Every child deserves to be someone's priority. Being a foster parent is being the one person in the world who puts this child first...I don't love them part time, I love them all the time. Even at 3am, when I would much rather be sleeping. And I don't know how anyone could feel any differently."
It's brain-bustingly sad that there are babies whose parents are truly unable to take care of them, but just knowing that there is such a person as this loving, nurturing foster mother, that we live in a world where strangers will help your child if you cannot -- it makes the world seem a benevolent place, after all.
Get Involved With Foster Kids
There is a portrait in my in-laws' house that I am completely obsessed with. My husband (then a blond cherub of 5 or 6) and his brother (at 9 or 10) pose, bedecked in matching polo shirts, in front of a stone-washed background. Big brother is scowling. Little brother grins sweetly even though he totally has a black eye given to him by big brother just moments before saying cheese. It's as if the anarchy of childhood has broken through the attempted restraints of the Civilized Sears Family Photo. Because isn't that the way? You try to take a nice family picture and get goofiness.
Here's one father who has cracked the code with equal parts creativity and craziness. Instead of fighting the wackiness of youth, Jason Lee channels it, getting ideas from his daughters for their unusual family pictures. Observe:
The photos are great fun to look at, but they also serve as a helpful reminder: there are so many things in our lives that we take too seriously, when we could be just embracing the craziness and having fun with them. Documenting the kids, working, being creative -- whatever it is, take a page from the Lee family's scrapbook and loosen up a little. And when all else fails: bubble beards for all. (via Bored Panda.)
(Check out all of Jason Lee's gorgeous photography at his site.)
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None of the three is actually engaged. Nor is this a real bridal shop—it's the Atlanta area set of Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva. The sisters are stuntwomen, here to lend their faux-fighting experience to the fictional melee.
Of course, they don't just tussle over tulle. They've also fallen out of trees (Trisler, as a double for Jennifer Aniston in the recent film Wanderlust); careened through traffic in the passenger seat of a speeding car (Martin, in What to Expect When You're Expecting); and tumbled down steps (Duke, in Hallmark Hall of Fame's 2011 The Lost Valentine, standing in for Betty White).
You could say roughhousing runs in the Georgia-bred sisters' blood. Their father, Anderson Martin, is a stunt performer who has worked on films like Sweet Home Alabama and The Blind Side, while their grandfather, Glenn Wilder, performed in classics like Scarface. Trisler and Martin dabbled in the business as kids—Martin appeared in Run Ronnie Run at age 8. But in 2008, when Georgia began offering increased tax incentives, Hollywood arrived on the trio's doorstep; they scored jobs through family connections and were soon working on dozens of shoots. They now train with their father. "Our dad shows us different ways we can approach each stunt," says Duke.
Off set, Trisler works as a hair and makeup artist, Duke teaches Zumba, and Martin waits tables. But all three see many more stunts in their future. Says Martin, "When you're performing, going to work is like going out to play."
The whole story just makes me want to weep and smile at the same time. I'm reminded me of something a friend told me her 3-year-old son said. When faced with the idea of death, when he asked if everyone had to die and was told that yes, everyone died, the boy thought about this for a long, quiet moment and then responded, "Chocolate is a vegetable!"
Personally, I can't think of a better response to the huge scariness of illness, of death. Chocolate is a vegetable. Lemonade will make someone's cancer feel better. Yes....Yes, yes, yes.
The Sound of One Hand Playing
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The answer: her sister. Delle Donne is extremely close with her older sister, who is blind, deaf, and has cerebral palsy. As Delle Donne explained to ABC News, "Skype, cellphone, texting, email — doesn’t work with Liz. We’ve never spoken a word to one another so the only thing we have is our physical contact. So that’s our whole relationship. It’s everything. She knows me by my smell and my feel, so, physically, physical contact is the only thing she knows. So when I did leave, I lost Lizzie basically. Well, she lost me and I wasn’t OK with that when I left.” Delle Donne then took a break from basketball for her first year of college because she was feeling burnt out and wanted to recapture the joy of the game (yet another reason to love her).
And now that Delle Donne is back in the game, leading her team to unprecedented victories, she has her sister to thank. As Delle Donne put it, “She teaches me that you just fight no matter what." (You have to watch the ABC video for the hug between Elena and Lizzy.) And that teaches us all a little something about the power of sisterly love.
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Emily Dickinson said, "If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry." By that criteria, the artwork of Motoi Yamamoto is pure poetry; ever since I first saw photographs of his evocative mazes and sculptures, I've felt as if I were walking around with a nothing to me above the nose. And get this, the images below are made out of salt. That's right, salt.
If there is a somber, haunting quality to these images, it's intentional. Motoi Yamamoto told The Japan Times that he started working with salt after the death of his sister of brain cancer at age 24: "I draw with a wish that, through each line, I am led to a memory of my sister. That is always at the bottom of my work. Each cell-like part, to me, is a memory of her that I call up, like a tiff I had with her over a pudding cake she took from the fridge. My wish is to put such tiny episodes together." According to this article, "Salt has a special place in the death rituals of Japan, and is often handed out to people at the end of funerals, so they can sprinkle it on themselves to keep evil spirits away."
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking there's a Right Way to do everything. For example, dinner. I know I am under the impression that families are supposed to eat dinner like so: arranged around the perfectly set table, chatting about the day, eating a freshly-prepared meal composed of locally-grown vegetables and exotic spices that everyone is happy to try. This is not my dinner reality. Then again, it's not the dinner reality of anyone I know, either.
The gorgeous photography of Miho Aikawa, however, has me thinking that maybe that's totally okay. Her series "Dinner in NY" captures people having dinner the way they actually have dinner. A twenty-something woman has leftovers on her bed, watching television. A cat begs at the table for pizza. A young mother balances food on her lap while waving a toy at her newborn. A teenager eats alone, staring at her laptop. The photos are amazingly intimate portraits of people being themselves, and I can't stop clicking through them. What struck me most was how very many people eat while watching TV or using their laptops. And when I thought about it, I was honestly surprised to realize that I often eat this way too.
As Aikawa writes on her website, "we now do almost 50 percent of our eating while concentrating on something else." Here, I admit, I expected a mini-lecture on how we need to talk to each other more, focus on food and family more. We've heard all this before, and we know it, of course. I loved that Aikawa instead writes, "I would like to propose thinking what a dinner should be by objectively seeing diverse dinner situations. When you enjoy mealtimes, you're more likely to eat better. Let's think what we can do to enhance the pleasure of the table." Here's a dinnertime message we can all use: not a finger-wagging, but a call to action. She's not saying any one way of eating is better than any other, just that we should enjoy our mealtimes. Some of these distracted eaters seem a little zoned-out, but some (a smiling group of friends eating and watching television together) seem to be having a really wonderful time. And in the end, isn't that what a shared meal is all about?
Check out all of Aikawa's wonderful portraits at her site. (via TheKitchn)
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We're always hearing about how we multitask too much. After I typed that last sentence, for example, I checked a text-message that popped up on my phone, then perused my twitter feed, looked up to greet a friend (hazards of coffee-shop-working), all while listening to music and eating lunch. And I was not meaning to be ironic. The problem with this constant stream of doing-ness (soon I will go home, make dinner for my toddler while throwing pieces of cheese at the baby, probably all while making a phone call and plotting how to carve out some minutes to write an article that's due) is that while I find myself doing many things at once, it seems that I'm not doing any one of them particularly well.
No matter how many articles I read about how being overstimulated is frying my brain, I have to admit that the multitasking is not going to stop anytime soon. The only choice, it seems, is to improve the way we multitask, so that we are multitasking AND having fun. So, like, multi-multitasking. Like this gentleman, Dicken Schrader. Behold, the master of the joyful multitask:
Watch those four camera angles! This guy is playing percussion (an empty Coca-Cola bottle and a tambourine), keyboard, xylophone, kazoo, and singing all at the same time. Oh, and he's hanging out with his kids, teaching them about music and resourcefulness (all those hacked instruments!) -- and they all seem to be having a lot of fun. His joyful celebration at the end of the song makes me feel like I've participated in something incredibly exciting. Well, that and also like they must have gone through a lot of takes.
It got me thinking: why not take a page from Mr. Schrader's book and involve the children? My toddler loves to help, so tonight she can be in charge of doling out the finger food to the baby. And increase the fun quotient? Maybe we'll channel that witching-hour energy into a kitchen-cleaning-dance-party. Sure, we're all busy and trying to do too many things at once, but that doesn't mean we can't be having as much fun as the family in this video. After all, everything counts...even the busy, stressed-out moments.
Because of course I couldn't just enjoy this video for its insane cuteness. That's so single-tasking.
(via Apartment Therapy)