|Get the best of Oprah.com in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletters!|
October 2011 (174 posts)
Every Monday, we're rounding up the things, small and big, that make us stop and think. Today, we're inspired by..
"All I want is for her to live, I don't care if she injured or not. It doesn't matter, I just want her alive."
-Turkish air force Lieutenant Onur Eryasar, who saved his fiancee from Sunday's deadly earthquake.
"The mind is like a flower: it needs constant nurturing."
-Gary M., New York Public Library patron.
"I think each person has to find their own sort of way and journey."
-Keris Myrick, on learning how to live with schizophrenia.
"Isn't that what mothers do? They are supposed to protect their children from the pains of their lives."
-Liberian peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee on her family's surprise at the events detailed in her book.
I’m having a hard time with Halloween decorations this year, because I keep getting quizzed about them by an inquisitive 2-year-old. “Oh,” I found myself explaining the other day, “That’s a, um, spooky kind of witch-scarecrow-thing, with a jack-o-lantern head.” In response to queries about these creatures, where they live, what they say, what they consume, I can only shrug and offer, “They’re not real. Just pretend.” But then my toddler asks, "How does everyone know about the same pretend creatures?" To this, I have no satisfying response.
In part, because I want to minimize the scariness of the holiday, and in part because there’s something appealing about the idea that weird magical creatures might exist. When faced with the specter of werewolves and the Loch Ness Monster and yetis, I channel Fox Mulder: I want to believe. So I was excited to read that Bigfoot, aka the Yeti, aka the Abominable Snowman,has been proven to exist in Siberia. That's from the NEWS, people! According to the Guardian, “a team of scientists say they are "95%" sure that Russia's wintry expanse is home to the mythical yeti, otherwise known as the abominable snowman.” The researchers say they have discovered a cave with a cozy Yeti nest inside, as well as footprints, hairs, and twisted branches which they claim are Yeti territorial markings. Animal Planet has more on the story, including a great gloss of Bigfoot sightings throughout history.
I love that these Russian scientists are completely serious. I love the idea that Earth contains within it mythical beasts, eluding our reach. I love a news story with a dose of magic in it. It's such a welcome escape from the mundane grown-up world of bad economies and wars and laundry piles. Unfortunately — wouldn’t you know it — there are no pictures or videos of the Yeti, but Discovery has a fun video about the creature here. No word yet on the Wolfman.
Like most of us, I rely on well-defined rituals to express my support when people I love are dealing with life’s ups and downs. Your great-aunt Hilda passed away? I know to send a bouquet of white lilies to the funeral home. My sister got engaged? I know to start planning the bachelorette party, tiara optional. But when my friends experience smaller – yet still significant – events, like a breakup, it's not as clear how to help.
Recently I discovered Bummer Baskets, custom-designed care packages. The titles include the "Not So Bad Breakup," the "Kind of a Bad Day," and the "Unemployed (But Hated Your Job)" baskets – and even one for the unwitting victim of a bed bug infestation.
Each package is filled with shredded green paper. The contents are decadent (fudgy brownies and an emergency candy bar to save an unemployed chocoholic from splurging on Godiva), uplifting (a “be happy” sunflower planting kit and “here’s to happy endings” wine glass to offset a bad day), mischievous (pocket-sized flask, pack of candy cigarettes, and temporary tattoo for a rebellious pal), and even witty (extra-large chopsticks for eating out of the Chinese food carton, cookies that say “lose my number,” and a “no more nightmares” sleep mask for a girls’ night in with your newly-single friend). The sender’s note is on a card that capture life's little mishaps in images, like an iPod submerged underwater, a heart flattened by tire-tracks, a Scottie inspecting his collapsed doghouse, and a man diving off a sinking ship.
Maybe reaching out to friends in their minor moments of grief will become as much a tradition as putting on a hat made of bows and ribbons at a baby shower?
Happy Friday! The week is over, we get two restful days, what more could we be grateful for? How about...
After 24 years of research (and more than once thinking it just may be too tough), one researcher announces a vaccine for malaria
The Kindness Cab is going cross country. See what it's bringing to every stop along the way.
The real life Notebook couple: after 72 years of marriage, elderly couple face death hand-in-hand
The Great Teddy Bear Search on I-90: How a post, a tweet and two state workers helped a soldier's six-year-old daughter.
How do you express your emotions? Is lipstick a visual cue of your mood?
How to find the perfect lipstick
Val's red lipstick rules
Try a lipstick that feels like a gloss
But lately the unlikeliest people keep going and achieving athletic highs, I'm pretty sure with the intent of making me feel like a lazy bum. First there was the pregnant woman who gave birth hours after running the Chicago marathon. Then there was the blind kid who pitched a no-hitter, and the deaf motocross champion. But! People! My knees!
Now there's this: the 100-year-old-man who ran the Toronto Marathon. Are you kidding me? Finishing at 8 hours, 11 minutes, he wasn't even the last to finish. According to NPR, the Indian-born British citizen Fauja Singh took up running at age 80 and trains by running about 10 miles a day. The Guinness World Record holder runs to raise money for local charities, including one benefiting poor children. According to his trainer, his secret is a diet that consists mostly of tea, toast, and curry. Um, what's in the tea?
NPR has more, including a smile-inducing video of Singh crossing the finish line. GO FAUJA!!
Decode your exercise excuses
The excuse-busting workout plan
Here's what I thought I knew about the poet: She was an eccentric whose largely hermetic life screamed austerity and mystery. And I can't help it: The first words that pop into my head when I hear her name are always, "Because I could not stop for death" and not "hope is the thing with feathers." So when I read in this post on the New York Times' Diner's Journal blog that she was really into baking, I was shocked. Here I always pictured Dickinson living on milky tea and cold pot roast (since she was too busy writing to eat the meat while it was hot). It turns out Dickinson loved to bake cakes or and loaves of rye bread. Manuscripts, letters and fragments from Dickinson's life have just gone on display at the Poets House in New York City, many for the first time, and among them is her recipe for coconut cake, written in her own hand. (Read more about Dickinson's unlikely hobby--and the baked good that won her second prize at the Amherst Cattle Show of 1856--here.)
Keeping with my perception of Dickinson, the instructions are stark and simple; there are no notes in the margins about how so-and-so likes this case with extra coconut or hot pink sprinkles. It's a very Dickinson-esque recipe, but still: It reminds me how thinking we know a person just by sizing them up is just wrong. Everyone--even famous, much-biographied writers--can surprise us.
20 books of poetry everyone should own
Poetry that will get you through a hard time
My idea was that babies were like Pavlovian guinea pigs. If they associated a song with sleep, they would fall asleep the minute they heard the first few phrases of music. I had a lot of ideas about babies at the time, most of the them exhausting, dopey, and just plain embarrassing, but the song one worked. I could make my baby fall asleep with one round of Bateau Sur L'Eau and I used to do for it pure sport during lunches with my friends, so that I would look like The Best Mother Ever as well as spooky mind-control master, when in fact, I just wanted the child to take a nap so I could eat my Cobb Salad.
Many a late night, when I have been up, unable to sleep, running through panic-inducing daydreams and to-do lists, I have tried to sing my children's old songs to myself—to no avail. They do nothing for me. Now, however, the British Telegraph has announced there is song that's been scientifically engineered to relax us adults—if not knock us out. The tune is called Weightless and it contains eight minutes and sixteen seconds of " carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms and bass lines help to slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol."
A study by David Lewis of Mindlab International found that listening to Weightless caused a 65 per cent reduction in overall anxiety and made many women drowsy . "In fact," he said. "I
would advise against driving while listening to the song because it could be
dangerous." I agree. But I do have to wonder what would happen if the song was played in supermarkets and banks, replacing the traditional Muzak. Would we all fall asleep mid-errand? Or would we just move a little slower and behave a more pleasantly to each other? It's hard to be rude when you're relaxed—even artificially.