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Relationships (107 posts)
Now we're all our own parents, and there are so many things we don't want to do. Like wake up at 6 in the morning and pay the bills we ignored the night before (whoops, slept in) or get to the gym as we publicly vowed to do in 2012 while tipsy on New Year Eve. Luckily, A new service called Gym Pact, which appeared in the New York Times this week has come to our aid, using an app that mimics my dad's old fashioned method. Basically you sign up on your smart phone and register how many days you want to commit to working out. The gym's computers are linked to the app, so if you don't go, you get fined $5. If you do go, you get paid—that's right, paid!—an amount that's determined each week by pooling and dividing all the money collected from no-goers. Right now that's about $1.50 a week, or $6 a month—an amount that I will try to spend on organic kale or carrots, but will probably spend on...jelly beans.
7 things not to wear to the gym
4 workout mistakes and how to fix them
Last week, NPR reported that a French physicist figured out why. By reproducing its area in this precise way, a tree is best able to withstand high winds and not fall over during storms and hurricanes. The writer suggested that architects and engineers might use its structure as a model for constructing buildings. I, however, am beginning to think I may need to use it as model for dealing with life. I'm no Renaissance-era genius, but it seems to me what the tree is doing is divvy the amount of space it takes up in the world—getting smaller and more flexible, the further it gets from its sturdy center, so that that it can sway when stressed.
These days, I have a pretty good idea of what lies my own sturdy center: kids, husband, job. About these things I am rigid. There must be time made for them, period! This has come about as a result of a brutal learning process, during which I had previous thought a lot of other things (say, my buckling tile bathroom) were also at my center. Sadly, they are not, and my first impulse was to chop all those other things off. No time to see friends for dinner? Then just don't have friends. No time to shop? Just wear your old bras until your babysitter sees the black one in the dirty laundry basket and thinks it's a part of a ripped spiderweb costume. But the truth is, these lesser things need to remain on the tree or you'll end up broken and blown away. The trick probably is finding the right branch for each expectation: a stout one for my friends (meet them for a quick coffee instead of dinner), a slender bendy one for my new bras (order several online and count on at least one fitting), and even a potentially breakable tiny twig for the bathroom tile (fix it next year...or maybe never). Not only will the structure protect you from high winds and stress, but it might also protect anybody who'd like to lean against you.
How to tell if your bra fits
The stress-detector test
Then came the gunshot that changed everything. In this must-read post, Kelly writes movingly about one of the unexpected gifts of Giffords' long road to recovery. Excruciatingly, this bright, articulate woman has had to relearn how to talk, and, as Kelly writes, "After she was injured, friends and family would often interrupt her, saying the words they thought she meant to say. They were trying to help, but I saw this only added to Gabby’s sense of powerlessness." He admits that he himself had trouble being patient, but was buoyed by remembering his wife's own immense patience. Read the post for the amazing story of their conversation with the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, a portrait of an incredibly strong marriage, and the sweetest anniversary present ever. Then, apologize to your husband for arguing over who's taking out the recycling next.
Protect your marriage
How couples can learn to communicate
Is your relationship too good to be true?
Clicking on the photos enlarges them and offers a caption about the departed person. "I found out via Facebook that my first love died a premature death this summer at age 41," one caption reads. "I find it incredibly strange that he no longer exists, out there somewhere." Another photo is labelled, "My brother was always a ham. He was also an amazing protector and friend. Looking through pictures of our childhood, I was amazed at how nearly every picture had him with his arm around me supporting me. He truly taught me the meaning of love." And another: "This is how I would like to remember my sister Sandy, optimistic and mischievous at the same time...She was strong and brave up until the very end."
Viewing this gallery offers an irresistible peek in to the stories of others, and the format is thought-provoking. What one photograph would encapsulate my life? What moment in time would your loved ones remember most about life with you? What pose, what face, what mood would you most miss about the people you love? If you're not crying by now, maybe it's time to go slice some onions or something. At any rate, when you see your loved ones over the holidays, be sure to hug them tight, tell them you love them, and remember to take lots of photos.
You must see this photo gallery to believe it: The Lives They Loved, at the New York Times
Coping With Loss
The Digital Trail of the Dead
Maybe we felt this way because we weren’t, exactly. When we
left the office building, we’d discuss work issues--and bring up off-topic ideas, trade workplace
gossip, wonder aloud about ideas that we were afraid were a little too
off-kilter to bring up in a company-wide meeting but that we wanted to bounce
off each other. According to Fast Company’s Kevin Purdy, we may just have been
doing some of our best work of all, there over our skim lattes.
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* File under: There will be tears. This marine is deployed to Afghanistan, but that didn't stop him from making an incredible video holiday card for his wife. (Buzzfeed)
* Speaking of excellent husbands . . . "You know what's funny? I don't ever feel the need to escape. I have a strong marriage. I like my life. You hear about these guys having midlife crises—I don't see that happening to me."—Harry Connick Jr. makes us swoon. (O Magazine)
* Remember singer Dobie Gray, who passed away this week, by listening to his classic hit, "Drift Away." (Vulture)
As she writes: "He was trained to drive a tank in World War II, but his ulcer and bad back got him sent home before he could be deployed overseas. Instead, his heroism took place on quieter grounds." Frangello goes on to describe an incident at a Target dining area, when her father saw some kids who were clearly hungry, and told the person working at the counter to give them all the food they wanted.
In recounting this and many other compulsively readable anecdotes, Frangello has created a tribute to her father that is sensitively nuanced, achingly ambivalent. Her father is a fascinating, difficult character who has suffered from mental illness, and her relationship with him is simultaneously close and distant, loving and exasperated. Her essay on The Nervous Breakdown is really an exploration of the question "What is love?"—and it's a must-read for anyone who has ever had to confront death, to experience grief, to love truly and deeply. In other words for all of us.
Caring for Aging Parents
Home Safety for the Elderly
The problem with being shy is that people are always telling you not to be shy, which of course makes a shy person feel 8,000 times more shy. But for some reason people just can't leave a shy kid (or grownup) alone, as if there were something wrong with being a bit timid, a touch introverted. Maybe this is because these are not qualities much valued in today's world of reality stars, big personalities, chronic oversharers.
Luckily there is now a (hilarious, tongue-in-cheek) guide to dealing with these mysterious quieter creatures, Jonathan Rauch's great "Caring for Your Introvert" in the Atlantic. "Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day?" writes Rauch. "Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate?" What follows is an amazingly accurate description of introverts, including the wisdom, "introverts are people who find other people tiring. Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone." He goes on to entertainingly and insightfully discuss how introverts are misunderstood (including the myth that all introverts are shy!). This should be required reading for introverts and extroverts alike; after all, as Rauch points out, the latter very infrequently understand the former. As he writes, introversion is "not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. It's an orientation." Read the whole essay to learn why extroverts run the world...but introverts understand it. How refreshing, to read something not about how an introvert can be less analytical or more outgoing, but rather, why it's okay to be an introvert. Especially if you happen to be one. Like, um, Murray.
Get the world to see the real you.
Can you fake charisma?
As an old married lady, I'd find myself saying things like, "Well, you know, if you really like each other, you probably won't care that he likes Hall & Oates, or it he's short." After all, I've been surprised to learn that my soul mate/life partner enjoys football, hates garlic, and thinks cats are demonic. I never would have programmed those parameters into my perfect mate profile. And yet...
"Impossible!" Email deleted. Sorry, guy. Well, in case my discerning former coworker is still on the prowl, she might want to try the newest trend in online dating—genome dating. Lone Frank writes in the Huffington Post that a Swiss company called GenePartner "has taken the search for a mate to a new level by developing a biological matching system using your human leukocyte antigen, or HLA, genes to find your perfect match." You take a q-tip swab to your inner cheek and that of your potential mate, stick it in the mail, and then the love scientists (ok, that's my term, not theirs) offer an analysis of your results.
The letterpress invitation came with a strange pang of jealousy—Rachel was my first friend to be getting married. I was happy for her, and a little surprised—we were all so young still!—and taken with the romance of it. A month or so later, a sheepish email followed. They had amicably decided not to go through with it after all. They just weren’t ready to be married. Eep! I didn’t know the fiancé, didn’t know what to say. Maybe this was sad news, or maybe secretly great news? Maybe it meant I got a refund on the Crate and Barrel salad bowl?
Happy events we know how to celebrate. Weddings, new babies, Bar Mitzvahs. Got it. There’s a whole infrastructure in place: what to wear, what to say, what favors to dispense. But when it comes to the bummer times, it’s easy to feel a little lost. Recently people have begun throwing Divorce Parties, so why not a Nearly Beloved Day?
Jen Girdish writes for Good about how she celebrated her cancelled wedding day, jumping off the train of a bad relationship. She found that after all the wedding planning and emotional drama, her friends and family “weren’t exhausted. They wanted to party.” It was then that Girdish considered “the idea that my social obligations to my cancelled engagement were not over. Was I expected to do something on the day I was supposed to get married?” Her friends had suggestions: close-call games like Dodgeball or limbo; a party with a wedding dress on a crucifix. (Read the essay for the sweet way they celebrated that day, and Girdish’s real life happily-ever-after.) In the end, she was relieved she’d escaped the failing relationship before going through with the wedding—Kim Kardashian, are you listening? —and happy to be celebrating her new life.
As for my friend Rachel, a few years ago I attended her wedding. It was a lovely affair in a forest, one of those parties were everyone seems happy, sure of a good thing happening. The groom was the same man she’d almost married years earlier. The time was finally right.