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Life Lifters (282 posts)
Imagine that you're a 2011 graduate of Hampshire College, a school popular with intellectual do-gooders. On May 21, the only things standing between you and your upcoming Peace Corps mission were a few commencement speeches that—you were willing to bet your Mexican raffia tote on this—were going to tell you to "dream big," embrace challenge" and "not be afraid of failure." You barely caught the introduction of the staff speaker, Roberta Tudryn, the beloved cashier who's worked in the school dining commons for 30 years. Then you tuned in to her words:
And that's when you thought about all those times that you chatted with Roberta in the dining hall, and you hoped that you never said anything rude or jerky, and then you remembered your grandmother, who couldn't make it to today's commencement but sent you a card so sweet it made your throat burn, and you forgot about saving the world (for now), and you forgot about that night's parties, and you jumped up and whooped for this hardworking woman who had often brightened your day and who just spent five minutes thanking you for making her job worthwhile.
[Next, photos of potatoes that have ...antlers?.]
For one principal, however, a man who'd spent 16 years shepherding kids in tough South Philadelphia through grades 5 through 12, the budget choice was a call to action. Rather than lay off his music teachers, he walked right out the door.
The 62-year-old Angelo Milicia sacrificed his $180,000 job and long-term health benefits running the Girard Academic Music Program school in order to divert those same funds into his music curriculum. By retiring early and letting his assistant take over, Milicia prevented two of his music teachers from being laid off, both of whom were essential to the school's arts mandate which requires that all students participate in choir and take three music theory classes a week.
The budget cuts "would have been devastating to that program," Milicia told the Philadelphia Daily News. (Note to all other principals out there: Research by the U.S. Department of Education has found that students who reported consistently high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years showed significantly higher levels of math proficiency by grade 12.)
One of his graduating students told the paper, "Here's a man who makes a sacrifice for the students that he loves. You can't get any better than that." We agree. Read the full article...with tissues.
A stunner named Krista won the grand prize at the 2011 German Holstein Show last week. She defended her 2009 title against some 200 other dairy cows in the competition, with her bright eyes, taut skin, strong legs and round belly.
But nothing makes me happier than this factoid: The animals get their hair cut and blow-dried before the big day—but not curled. Cows, you see, have a natural permanent wave.
[via Spiegel Online International]
Imagine someone tells you a joke—in two separate languages—and not only do you not get it, but it seems like maybe you're the butt of it. It's an age-old problem, and last week it happened to the Dalai Lama on Australian TV.
Once again, His Holiness the Dalai Lama shows an uncanny knack for handling an uncomfortable situation. His response: Laughter always helps. It's a graceful demonstration of compassion for the journalist who looks desperate for a time machine, and it helps us forget that we've just heard a groan-worthy punch line.
It made us remember what the Dalai Lama once told Oprah: "I don't take myself too seriously! That makes me happy." Today it makes us happy too.
(via The Hairpin)
The Internet may be worshipped for all of the following things: crowd wisdom, missed connections, videos of baby elephants in a baby pool...none of them are what this stop-everything-and-watch-now talk, given by Web pioneer Jim Gilliam, is about. Gilliam went to college as a born-again Christian who had an affinity for computer programming. But, by his first spring break, he couldn't breathe. Not in a metaphorical way; he wasn't anxious. Gilliam had cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He told his story—how he fought the cancer, twice, and found a network of activists through his work—this week at Personal Democracy Forum. There was a standing ovation, and (warning) tears. So, just press play for a reminder of what having faith really means. After watching, we've only got one more thing to say: amen.
(via The Hairpin)
Stress is something Joan Borysenko knows something about. She's a Harvard-trained biologist and author of the new book Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive. For 10 nonstop years, she juggled completing her clinical research, running a working farm (yes, that meant feeding chickens), raising two kids, writing a book and running 25 miles a week. In her two free minutes each evening, she secretly smoked cigarettes behind a tree in her front yard. Then came the back pain. After that, a scary feeling that she was sleepwalking through her life, immune even to her kids' excitement about riding their new pony through the woods.
She, the stress expert, was at the point of nonfunction.
Borysenko was a perfect example of how trying to do more than you can do for too long can result in a host of problems: emotional exhaustion (say, feeling numb inside when you know you'd normally feel happy or sad), recurring physical effects (back pain, constant colds, headaches) and a sense of spiritual emptiness that leaves you isolated from others.
This state can look a lot like depression. In fact, it might be easier to think of yourself as depressed; you can seek treatment from a doctor for that. Recent research, however, has found that although both result in a loss of motivation and pleasure, if you're burnt out, you can usually reclaim your everyday happiness—from taking great delight in a piece of crispy morning bacon to enjoying your hours at work or as a parent—once you make some fundamental changes. So the question is, How fried are you and what do you need to do about it? Go answer these questions to find out.
As if he wasn't blue-eyed enough, sharp-jawed enough or cut enough (perhaps you too glanced in the open V of his rumpled, unbuttoned shirt in The Hangover?), it also turns out that Bradley Cooper speaks fluent—and very sexy—French.
"I wanted to find a way to be more in the moment, to be more in every day, to understand my life more..." So if you're Jonathan Harris staring down a milestone birthday, your next project is to take a photo every day. Called Today, it's now a short film: one image per second, some supersaturated, some stark, all focus-grabbing. "No matter what you do in your life—what you create, what career you have, whether you have a family or kids—your greatest creation," says Harris, "is always going to be your life story." Listening to Harris as the images flip from one to the next, we're convinced: In this moment-to-moment world, what a person needs most is time to create stories that will help make sense of what exactly it is we're doing here (via ThoughtYouShouldSeeThis.com).
For stressed-out city dwellers, Eoin Finn has a relaxing remedy.
After years as a yoga teacher, Eoin Finn still hadn't reached enlightenment—a serene state of appreciation for the present moment. Then, on a retreat in Costa Rica in 2006, he lay in a hammock. "I thought, 'If everyone did this for 10 minutes a day, we'd be calmer and more productive.'" He's right: Studies show that even short periods of relaxation can lower blood pressure and improve concentration. Finn gathered some hammocks and set up a "spontaneous relaxation" zone in Vancouver (his home), inviting hurried passersby to have a swing. "There's some bewilderment, then they melt right in," he says.
Now Finn hosts events across North America (see Blissology.com for details). "We're not selling anything," he says. "We're just helping people sit down and enjoy the simple splendors of life."