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January 2012 (141 posts)
You don't like to ask for help—plus 4 other ways you waste time (and how to stop!)
Need to relax? Call your mother. No, really.
Not only is it okay to put yourself first, but sometimes you actually need to.
The Life-Lifter: "There was somebody in need. And I hope if I'm in need, somebody will help me." The 64-year-old woman who rescued 2 people from a burning car.
If one of your resolutions was to be more creative, perhaps you should take part in a large-scale art project and have your work exhibited in New York City. No, really! All you have to do is sign up for The Sketchbook Project, an exciting community arts initiative. Thousands of artists, from novices to seasoned veterans, are participating, and there's still room for more to join. When you sign up they send you a blank sketchbook and a due date. You then traipse through daily life buoyed by inspiration, seeing the beauty in everything. (I mean, I'm assuming that's how it works.) Then, starting this summer, all the sketchbooks will be archived and displayed at the Brooklyn Art Library, where the public can view it and proclaim your creative genius. (Again, I'm assuming.)
Here is a great video made by one of the participants, documenting the evolution of his sketchbook's cover:
One collaborator, a retiree from Australia, says of the project, "I was inspired by previous sketchbooks that participants have made. It gave me a purpose, a deadline, and a challenge." Another says, "Knowing that my work will be out there for people to people is an amazing feeling."
If the idea sounds daunting, let me just say that even an amateur like me can vouch for the transformative power of
keeping a sketchbook. I took an art class in college where one of the
assignments was to keep a sketchbook in which you would draw or paint
the same thing—I chose the view from my kitchen window—a different
way every week, and I can still viscerally feel the deep satisfaction I
got from my crappy oil pastels of pigeons. The teacher assured us that
tackling the same subject again and again would help us to see the thing
more deeply and what do you know, she was right! I haven't lived in
that apartment in almost a decade, and yet I can picture the view from
that window precisely. Seeing things more deeply, and having your artwork on display? Whether you're an artist looking for community or a creative person seeking a an assignment, The Sketchbook Project might be just the thing to get you through the winter.
I thought of Munro's story when reading John Simon's moving L.A. times piece entitled "My Turn: Loved Formed in Alzheimer's Crucible." The essay is a sweet tribute to the woman Simons fell in love with late in life, only to lose her to the fog of Alzheimer's. He recalls the fun they shared— "We had the time of our lives dancing with each other." Then Simons realizes that his lady love Dorothy is beginning to show signs of Alzheimer's, that maybe even some the zaniness he was intrigued by could have been early symptoms. He told me via email that he wrote this essay "to show that not all Alzheimer's experiences are horror stories. Dorothy never turned into a monster in spite of her constant wandering and other behavior problems. She always was loving and kind, and she always seemed to recognize me. Caregiving was a big job, but I never felt overwhelmed by it. The happiest period of my life when I had this real live woman to care for."
And now that she is in an assisted living facility, Simons writes that he is the one who is suffering. "She seems content in her dream world of dementia, while every day I am reminded of how much I have lost now that she has left my side." Isn't that always one of love's challenges, when due to some circumstance we start to live in different worlds from our lovers?
Read the whole piece here, and don't miss Simon's wonderful bio line!
Life Lessons from Senior Citizens
The 3 Things No One Tells You About Aging
The weekend is within reach...let these little splurges make getting there more fun.Big Ideas Notebook, $14. Stick this embossed, faux-leather notebook in your purse or on your bedside table to capture that next "Aha!" moment.
"This Too Shall Pass" Print, $24. Whenever you're feeling down and out this will serve as a reminder that better days are ahead.
The Happiness Project Page-a-Day Calendar, $12. Adapted from the best-selling book and popular blog, you'll find words of wisdom, inspiring quotes, and strategies for putting a smile on your face—even on a manic Monday.
Ultra-Bright Arm Warmers, $59. Knitted from lambswool, these promise to keep forearms toasty when they're gripping bike handlebars...or typing on a computer in an unfairly frigid office.
Rachel Chong has an interesting piece at co.EXIST about volunteerism, and the quandary of how to make it relevant to people. Chong points out that most volunteer opportunities involve things like painting houses and serving food, but these activities don't play to most American's professional skills. In other words, if you're an accountant, why not devote a few hours not to ladling soup but to offering pro bono accounting work for your local shelter? As Chong writes, "When volunteering doesn’t result in an impactful outcome, people volunteer halfheartedly or they don’t volunteer at all." Sharing your professional skills can not only be more helpful, will probably be more satisfying to you as well. Since MLK Day has been designated a national day of service, there's no time like now to start. Read Rachel Chong's piece to learn about how her organization, Catchafire, can help you to help others —their website can match you with pro bono opportunities that match your skill set in a manner of minutes.
Ways for Kids to Volunteer
How to Be a Hero in Hard Times
What Kind of Volunteer Are You?
"It’s really opened myself up." A friendship between an artist and a soldier creates a unique portrait of life in Iraq—and an opportunity to heal.
Enter a new world through books (literally!) with these surprising dioramas.
Here, Kitty! The most poised 3-year-old in the world faces down a lion.
Document what you wear every day—and 19 other ideas for creative living.
The Life-Lifter: "It's not a traditional marrige. It's not the marriage we signed up for. But I feel like there's a connection there that never ends." One family's moving story of love after a brain injury.
Ask Val: Do I Really Need an Eye Cream in Addition to a Moisturizer if I Don't Have a Lot of Wrinkles?
A: I'm 61 and I don't have a lot of wrinkles, either. I've been using an eye cream since I was in my 20s. Am I relatively wrinkle-free because I've been loyal to the eye cream? No, says Jeffrey Benabio, MD, a dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. "Eye creams are just variations of facial moisturizers," he says. Both may contain antioxidants to help minimize wrinkles and other ingredients that help tighten skin. Unlike many facial moisturizers, however, eye creams don't usually contain sunscreen, and you get a lot less product for a lot more money. As the doctor astutely notes, an eye cream is unlikely to make much difference except on your credit card bill.
Keep in mind: If you use moisturizer around your eyes, apply it carefully; the one benefit of a cream formulated specifically for the eye area is that it may be less irritating.
Kate Middleton, er, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge that is, turns 30 this week, and everywhere you turn there are photo tributes running down her greatest moments, reliving the royal wedding, and tracking her evolving style from classic to classic-er. She's the princess (okay, duchess, but princess enough) everyone loves. And, as Tom Sykes writes for the Daily Beast, "As Kate enters her 31st year, it’s quite apparent that she isn’t Diana 2.0." He points out how important it is that Kate is sure to celebrate her birthday in a quiet, understated, appropriate way; how carefully Kate has managed her image, noting that "the Duchess of Cambridge understands the perils of her position: the politics, the power plays, and how things could turn very nasty, very quickly were she to become identified with the idle rich at a time of austerity in the UK." Sure, part of why everyone loves Kate, er the Duchess, is her beauty, her charity work, her hats. But as Sykes points out, what make Kate the perfect princess for today's world are the "middle-class, 'normal' values that made her such a catch for William, and continue to make her so popular around the globe."