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T (1655 posts)
As I stuck the list to the fridge, I daydreamed about the different lessons we would have every week, how I would combine documentary clips and projects and field trips in a totally inspiring and life-affirming improvised homeschooling situation. I envisioned the children and I racing through a meadow, peering at clouds through homemade cloud-viewers and shouting, "Cumulus! Nimbus!" at each other like greetings in a newly-learned language.
Right. So as it turns out, I apparently don't know how to learn about anything other than by checking out relevant books at the library. Each Monday I stare at the list, and think, Right. India. We were going to learn about India. Hm, guess I'll check out a book. What's next? Animal groups. Okay, I'll find a book. Now don't get me wrong, the disintegrating, outdated science textbooks at my local library are great and all. But I know there must be more engaging ways to learn about new things. And now I know where to find them: Learnist.
This new social media site is essentially Pinterest with a point. (No offense to Pinterest!) Users share their areas of expertise, compiling, say, helpful grammar infographics, or the best works of filmmaker Werner Herzog, or (my favorite so far) words that can't be translated into English. Learnist draws you in and around (I was not exactly looking for Werner Herzog, but suddenly here I am, obsessed) the way Facebook and Twitter do, but with more useful content -- lots of resources for teachers, home cooks, sports enthusiasts, basically, everyone.
So I can space out online and actually be compiling an unofficial lesson plan for my curious kid. Or, you know, myself.
Check out Learnist and request a (free, easy) beta invite!
Is Learning Ever Just Plain Learning?
The Importance of Curiosity
As Martha Beck writes on this very site, to live a life rich with everyday miracles, all one needs is a " sense of what's probable—and a world filled with moments of grace, strange synchronicities, and perhaps (who knows?) the occasional bedroom full of guardian angels." So where are your everyday miracles today? And when they appear, will you let them in?
The Big Question: An Adventure or a Nap?
The 23-Year-Long Road Trip
It's finally Friday! This week we're oh-so-grateful for...
Jimmy Fallon and the cast of Guys with Kids sing an awesome mash-up of classic theme songs [via TV Guide]
Google lets us explore the Great Barrier Reef with it’s underwater Street View [via Mashable]
Writers (hilariously) pick their favorite punctuation marks [via The Atlantic Wire]
The perfect way to say happy birthday to that special someone (grab 'em now, stock up on them, use them for years!) [via Oh So Beautiful Paper]
Depressing, I know. But the article also shares the story of Namakula, a young woman who was denied schooling but took a catering class. She has since started a catering company called Allied Female Youth Initiative and said that "the training showed her that she had other options besides being dependent on a boyfriend or husband." Namakula now says that people treat her with respect; she is now a woman with a future—all because she's taken the trajectory of her life into her own hands.
Ugandan Skaters Make Their Own Fun
Oprah's School for Girls in Africa
I know it's a luxury of my life that I get to think this, and yet I sometimes find myself wondering what I'm really doing here. Here in my life, I mean. Reading my kid a picture book about the rain forest the other day sent me into a mental tailspin. The rainforests! Are getting destroyed! What am I doing about it? Nothing! I don't volunteer, I don't donate large sums of money, I don't save the children (except my own, of course, when they teeter off the playground equipment). I don't even use cloth diapers! I'm part of the problem! Of course (and here come the excuses of which we all have so many) what could I do that would really make an impact without turning my life upside down, or maybe it needs to be turned upside? (And don't say use cloth diapers.)
So it was like something chimed in my chest when I read this BBC News story about Hernando Guanlao, a 60-something book lover in Manila who turned his private book collection into a lending library for his community. Twelve years ago, his parents died and Guanlao was looking for a way to honor their memory. Since he had shared with them a love of reading, he decided to put his books -- 100 or so -- outside his house, encouraging people to borrow them on an honor system. Over a decade later, his collection has swelled to the thousands, providing reading material to a community in which few people can afford to buy books and there is not a public lending library. Guanlao told the BBC, "It seems to me that the books are speaking to me. That's why it multiplies like that. The books are telling me they want to be read... they want to be passed around."
Books now overtake nearly all of Guanlao's home -- and life, since he quit his job in order to run the library, living off his savings. And this, as you may guess, was what spoke to me so eloquently. Here is a man who has found a way to combine a wish to help others with his personal passion, and it's changed not just his community's life, but his own. There was of course risk here -- he may well have lost all his books, in a place where books are expensive. And yet, as he told the BBC, "You don't do justice to these books if you put them in a cabinet or a box. A book should be used and reused. It has life, it has a message. As a book caretaker, you become a full man." Words which should be inscribed on every overstuffed bookcase everywhere, probably. (Read the full article to learn Guanlao's plans for even more intrepid and creative book-sharing.)
Guanlao offers another gift, too, even to those of us too remote to visit his library: a reminder that sometimes, when you're least expecting it, a need dovetails with your passion, and your life's mission finds you.
Becoming the Person You Were Meant To Be
How to Make Your Life Sparkle
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
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.
* 50 years ago, James Bond strode onto the big screen. Shouldn't we all age so well? (Vanity Fair)
* Who knew Mitt Romney was such a romantic? Check out the photos declaring his love he sent to his future wife Ann in 1968. (Time)
* "The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety."—Deepak Chopra shares some great wisdom in under 140 characters. (Twitter)
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