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May 2012 (135 posts)
Why do we do this? Why does it feel so wrong to say "I want" (or even worse, "I need")? If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it has something to do with not wanting to seem incapable. Then I happened upon the "I want" list of the sculpture artist Louise Bourgeois. Part poem, part therapy, part life list, this document feels extraordinary (and not just because of the purple ink, although let's face it, that helps).
"I want to feel," reads the list. "I want to be good. I want to be better. I want to do it." It's striking, reading through this list, how empowering the idea of wanting becomes. It's not about being selfish; it's not about requesting goods and services. It's about connecting with that primal part of yourself, that inner kid who is all want and love and fury. It's about wanting to grow, to change, to connect -- it's a kind of wanting that's about reaching out, not reaching in.
The list is part of a new exhibit focusing on the influence of the subconscious and psychotherapy on Bourgeois' work, at the Freud Museum. According to The Guardian, the list "was inspired by the discovery of a cache of the artist's writing, which revealed that she had undergone psychoanalysis, a fact she had previously kept secret." The show's curator, Philip Larratt-Smith, told the Guardian that Bourgeois went from "making these tall, monolithic statues in the early 50s, then re-emerged with a totally new body of work in the 60s. It was always a mystery how she got from A to B. These writings fill in the story."
Looking inward, it seems, reinvigorated this artist's work. And perhaps pinpointing what she wanted was a part of this process. When you really get to the bottom of things, when you really acknowledge your desires, pushing past the politeness and the inbred "no, no, no!"s -- what is it you really, really want? Above all, the lists suggests, Bourgeois wanted to accomplish mastery. Ambitious. Inspiring. But not needy, or greedy, or incompetent in the least. Even in want, it seems, there is room for graciousness.
Increase Your Abundance
How to Say What You Want
A gorgeous cake. Whether you're planning brunch at home or dinner out for Mother's Day, a homemade cake is a priceless way to end the meal. We're loving the amazing array of great-looking cakes we've seen on Pinterest lately, from this simple pink number to a sunny lemon confection to one frosted in a stunning ombre palette.
Strawberries. Ditch those golf ball-sized, white-in-the-middle, hard and pretty much tasteless fruits that pass as strawberries throughout the winter, because the real deal has arrived (or will be here soon). Festivals celebrating the vitamin C and folic acid-rich berry are taking place all over the country, from California, Oregon and Oklahoma to Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia.
Rhubarb. The perennial vegetable may be best known for its compatability with strawberries, but it's also wonderful in savory dishes (check out this list of 6 unusual uses for rhubarb, which even includes putting it on pizza). Look for long, firm stalks at your greenmarket, and be sure to remove the leaves (if the farmer hasn't already), since they are toxic.
Glow-in-the-dark jelly. Harry Parr and Sam Bompas--aka Bompas & Parr--are bringing gelatin back into style; the British duo's stunning creations include a jelly installation inspired by Napoleon's chef Antonin Careme, and "jellyscapes" for fashion runway shows. Their new book, Jellymongers, explains how to make your own glowing gelatin and much more.
5 simple (but beautiful) new cookbooks
Think you don't like kale?
Why you don't need fancy wine glasses
Today's Thank You Game challenge is to thank someone who
taught you something.
There are very few life experiences that don't hold a teachable moment. If you care to look beneath the surface of appearances, you'll most likely find an "aha" or two. The greatest learning for me usually happens in times of distress, pain, suffering. So I would like to thank the people who've brought me those dark moments, when I felt most wounded, or betrayed. You have been my greatest teachers. Thank you.
Maya Angelou many years ago shared this profound wisdom: "When people show you who they are believe them; the first time."
Now, I do.
Already a mother of two, Campbell breezily writes about how these babies are an antidote to her periodical bouts of baby fever, during which she forgets about the sleepless nights and endless diapers and starts thinking up names. And she writes about how she loves those babies, while she has them, with all the love she has to give. "Every child deserves to be someone's priority. Being a foster parent is being the one person in the world who puts this child first...I don't love them part time, I love them all the time. Even at 3am, when I would much rather be sleeping. And I don't know how anyone could feel any differently."
It's brain-bustingly sad that there are babies whose parents are truly unable to take care of them, but just knowing that there is such a person as this loving, nurturing foster mother, that we live in a world where strangers will help your child if you cannot -- it makes the world seem a benevolent place, after all.
Get Involved With Foster Kids
Each nylon duffel has beachy stripes and comes packed with supplies that Thompson, who also had a preventative double mastectomy, deems essential to a comfortable recovery. For example, Thompson explains that after a procedure involving tissue removal, some fluid accumulates at the surgical site, and patients are sent home with special drains they need to tend to. However, Thompson says that most of her patients were so woozy when they heard the instructions that they forgot what they were supposed to do. That's why her bag includes a little drain care kit with specific how-to's--not the sexiest Get Well gift, but one of the most useful, and therefore, one of the most thoughtful. The bag also includes a heart-shaped microbead pillow that women can put under their arms to ease the pressure on their incision, as well as surprises like slipper socks, earplugs (for creating silence in a bustling recovery unit) and high-end face lotion and eye balm. Thompson's company offers other bags designed for the unique needs of patients recovering from brain and gynecological operations and, soon, C-sections. (Fifteen percent of the net profit from each bag Bffl Bag will be donated to a related health charity.)
It will make you feel good to see your VIP (Very Important Patient) using Thompson's road-tested items in the bag during the first days after her surgery...and it will make you feel even better to see her tote the bag to the gym and the beach not too long after that.
There's this woman who I think is living my shadow life, or else I'm living hers: we see each other everywhere. I literally see her every day, and not at the same places either -- one day it was the library, the next day the coffee shop, the day after it was on the street in completely different neighborhood than where we usually see one another. But it took a Boom Boom! card suggesting the act of kindness to get me to introduce myself.
If you would like to become acquainted with someone in a very awkward way, I suggest interrupting her nice coffee break and then asking to take a photograph of her with some card in front on her face. That said, shouldn't we all just do this? Introduce ourselves, like normal human beings, instead of shuffling around not making eye contact with people, or spending years greeting familiar faces, "Hey! Hello...you...!"
About the Boom Boom cards. Each deck contains suggestions for kindness, which in my deck (Original Flavor) amounted to basic politeness I probably should employ every day but don't. Hold open a door. Call someone you haven't spoken with in a while. Apologize. Pick up some litter.
To this card, I say: If picking up dog poop is a revolutionary, call me Che Guevara. I guess it doesn't count as much if it's your own dog though.
Next! I think anyone who has ever worked in customer service can appreciate this one:
This one feels good, it really does. I wish every day, everywhere, I could tip extravagantly and often. I would burn through my budget real fast though, so I think on most days a really earnest smile and thank you will have to suffice. Still, it's one of the only kinds of spending money that actually feels nice. Well, that and:
The cutest aspect of these rather cute cards is how they turn kindness into a game. You register your deck (or individual card) online, and track your kindnesses, writing a little story (and including a photo or video if you like) about each card. What's coolest about this is reading other people's additions. I bought coffee for someone and felt kind of nervous the whole time; she was a little confused, but then again, this is New York City and it probably seemed like a weird scam. Then there's Denise in Jacksonville, Illinois, for example, who also bought someone coffee and reports that the recipient thanked her profusely and vowed to pay it forward. Kindness is catching, and the game-like aspect of these cards makes the small good deeds (and I appreciate how imminently do-able they are) feel even more fun. I found myself wanting to give the cards to people, too, because it struck me that the most fun part was the weird, warming act of buying a stranger coffee, picking up some litter -- it was the feeling of putting good energy into the air that I wanted most to share. Which I guess is the whole point.
Find out more about Boom Boom! Cards and read about people's kind acts here.
Play Oprah's Kindness Game!
Stories of Modern Kindness
Today's Thank You Game challenge is to thank someone who
spoke up for you.
I'd like to thank David Zaslav, my partner at Discovery who keeps speaking up for me with his unwavering support of OWN.
And Gayle King (who's in the photo above). She knows all the ways she's stood in the gap, been supportive, spoken up for me. Thanks Gayle friend.
The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food by Ian Knauer
The gist: A former Gourmet test kitchen cook uses common ingredients to make modern versions of classic American dishes.
The "wow" recipe: Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie
The recipe she'll make again and again: Brick Chicken with Corn and Basil Salad
Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard by Nigel Slater
The gist: A British food writer combines cookbook, produce/gardening guide, and ode to his own backyard garden.
The "wow" recipe: Crisp Pork Belly with Sweet Peach Salsa
The recipe she'll make again and again: Baked Rhubarb with Blueberries
How to Cook Everything: The Basics by Mark Bittman
The gist: Bittman gets down to the nitty-gritty, with 1,000 photographs of everything from dicing vegetables to recognizing when meat is done.
The "wow" recipe: Vanilla Peach Smoothie
The recipe she'll make again and again: Skillet Pork Chops with Apples