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June 2012 (119 posts)
So, yes, things are pretty awesome. We get to be alive. We get to live in structures designed for living. Most of us even get to pick out stuff we like to surround ourselves with. We get to go do things. There are such things as free days at museums, libraries full of books, parks anyone can enjoy, machines that give you a big shiny sticker for a quarter. AWESOME!
But in case you are having one of those blah-days, or one of those blah-months, or blah-lives, when it's for some reason difficult to remember that things are indeed awesome, there is 1000 Awesome Things. Well, there was anyway. The blog, which has been counting down from 1,000 (Broccoflower) since 2008, has recently reached #1. Luckily there is a book version, and another book version, and yet another book version on the way. I did say we all needed these reminders, didn't I?
But of all the awesome things Neil Pasricha has reminded us to be in awe of, be sure to check out #2: Remembering how lucky we are to be here right now. He breaks it down: "You are the most modern, brightest spark of years and years and years of survivors who all had to meet each other in order to eventually make you. Your nineteenth century Grandma met your nineteenth century Grandpa down at the candle-making shoppe. She liked his muttonchops and he thought she looked cute churning butter." Awesome. He breaks it down even further: "On this planet Earth, the only one in the giant dark blackness where anything can live, we ended up being humans. Congratulations, us!" Seriously, awesome. Have you ever watched a slug slugging around a garden? They don't even get to drink coffee!
And what follows is the best reminder of all, the reminder we should all remember at least once a day: "You only get a hundred years to enjoy it." And that's if you're really super lucky! I don't know if it's because I read this right after having a (silent, inner) temper tantrum about having A/C window units installed before the super left town or what, but this post brought tears to my eyes. My goodness, how true it is! How awesome is all of this? So go ahead, read the whole post for Pasricha's funny, wry breakdown of everything that is awesome about existence. And hurry! As he puts it, "You'll never be as young as you are right now."
See the World With Fresh Eyes
Finding True Happiness
Last place is where high school junior runner Meghan Vogel found herself on Saturday, at the Division III girls state meet in Columbus, Ohio. She'd just won 1,600 meter race and was worn out, and found herself lagging behind in her next run, the 3,200. Then with about 20 meters to go, the girl in front of her collapsed. According to ESPN, Meghan helped the girl, a sophomore named Arden McMath, to her feet, and carried her across the finish line. Oh, and she made sure Arden got across the finish line before her.
Just like anyone would, right? Um, I doubt it, though Meghan seems to think so: "Any girl on the track would have done the same for me," she told ESPN. "I think fate may have put me (in last place) for a reason." She's attracted international attention for her action, to which she says, "I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do." Well, apparently someone was raised right. (You must check out the ESPN article for a photo of the girls running the race -- I feel like I want to make an inspirational poster of it to look at when exercising should I ever do such a thing. Those pained yet utterly determined expressions!)
This wise teenager seems to have found some meaning in the overwhelming media response to her action: we love good news, yes, but also, we need this idea that you find yourself where you are for a reason. Even if where you find yourself seems to be last place. Because it's only last place if you let it be.
A High School Basketball Champ's Inspiration
9 Stories of Every Day Kindness
Well, recently Flood finally got her chance, at age 75, to dine in the dining car of the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. (This happened thanks to an awesome program called Wish of a Lifetime, kind of like Make-a-Wish but for seniors. ) "Oh she would have loved this," she said of her grandmother. Listening to this story, I thought of Flood's grandmother, of how heartbreaking it would be to explain to a child, This world we live in, it is unjust, and it is unjust specifically to you, and here is how you must deal with it. And how glad her grandmother would be, to see Flood in the dining car, enjoying a meal and a glass of wine. And how the simplest things—being on one side of a glass door or another—can make all the difference in a life, whether we realize it at the time or not.
Learn more about how Wish of a Lifetime, along with their partner, Brookdale Senior Living, enriches the lives of seniors.
Oprah's Tribute to the Freedom Riders
Meet the Original Rosa Parks
My kids are obsessed with this song "Don't Give Up." (Yes that would be Bruno Mars singing on Sesame Street.) We sing it to each other all the time, and lately we're having lots of conversations like this: My daughter says, "This is too hard!" And I say, "You're right. Let's give up. I can't color this Diego coloring page. It'll never work. Let's lie on the floor and cry." And a knowing smile spreads across her face and she says, "Nooooo, don't give up! DON'T GIVE UP!" It's a silly game, but I also can't help feeling like it's a kind rehearsal for larger, more give-uppier moments.
I doubt this "Don't Give Up" game would work with anyone over the age of 3, though, so instead I offer: Matt. W.
A reader just sent me the link to this video and oh man. This boy, 9-year-old Matt W., is a total and complete inspiration. Matt, who has spastic cerebral palsy, decided to do the 400-meter run at his school's track-and-field day, apparently on a mission to make everyone in the world's hearts explode out of their chests at once. He runs. He struggles. He runs. And then, his teacher and classmates join him, cheering him on. Now here's a word of warning: you have to stick with this video. There's a stretch in the middle where Matt is running, alone, a bit like a baby deer, and you will think you can't do it. But listen, if this kid can run this race, you can watch this video. Wait for the end. Wait for the little subtitle "It's okay to start crying now. Matt's mom is." If you can even see if through your tears.
Will you ever give up again?
via Yahoo Sports (Thanks, @TheGnombre!)
Boy With Cerebral Palsy Walks For First Time
The Cookie Diva Who Never Says "Can't"
So you've got to love this concept a group of Portuguese architects, Ana Luisa Soares, Filipe Magalhães, and André Vergueiro came up with for the awesomely-named Rooftops, Why Not? contest: putting public schools on top of New York City skyscrapers. As they put it, "What if suddenly the education would become the highest (and most visible) value of a society?" The resulting imagery is dreamy and futuristic, and evokes the question: How else can our urban spaces be reimagined? And: what do our structures say about what we value in life? And: how cute and raucous would the "School Elevator" be?
Be sure to visit the Cargo Collective site for more gorgeous images of architectural inspiration.
The Invention That Makes Everyone Smile
Saving the Hair of Cancer Patients
Oprah's Search for New Ideas
“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”
"Who wrote that?" I asked her once.
She squinted at it and shrugged. "Someone who didn't do a lot of laundry, I'd guess."
2. Laundry is one of those household tasks that's so mundane, so repetitive and unedifying and, particularly if you have kids, so unending, that it's hard to find any joy in it. Cooking has gotten a bit sexed-up, what with food blogs featuring glamour shots of daily dinners. Getting organized looks awfully fun and pretty on Pinterest. But laundry? Laundry is just...laundry.
And yet, the blog Four Deer Oak has a nice post on laundry this week. Blogger Anna Camille writes, "I don’t mind doing the laundry. It sounds like a rather odd thing for a 21st century feminist to say, but I’ve realized this year that I like doing the laundry for my family. It’s a chore, sure, and a necessary one, but who doesn’t like to have clean, fresh-smelling clothes. I don’t mind doing it and as I fold the cleaned laundry, I think of my loved ones and the blessings we have."
Wait, I think she made a mistake there. I think she misspelled "as I fold the cleaned laundry I grumble about how little my family appreciates all the work I do around the house." Oops!
3. Still, I have to admit that my laundry situation has recently changed in a way that has made life much, much easier. As I take the warm clothes from the shiny new dryer, I actually am able to appreciate (almost all the time) how this is something I can do for the people I love, and how lucky I am that there are these nifty machines that do all the work for me, that the hardest part of the task is the soothing work of folding everything while watching mindless television. "Let there be nothing on earth but laundry" indeed!
4. So I was doing the laundry in this nice clean new laundry space and suddenly those words from my mother's laundry room came floating up into my head. I abandoned the almost-folded pile to google the poem.
5. Here it is: Love Calls Us to the Things of This World, by Richard Wilbur. It's just the thing for those moments when you are doing laundry or any mundane task at all and need a jolt of inspiration, a peek out of yourself, a reminder of the beauty of the every day, of the small journeys your soul can make while the rest of you is half-asleep, the joy of that stinking always-full basket... how "outside the open window/The morning air is all awash with angels."
(Whether or not Richard Wilbur did his own laundry, of course, is still up for debate.)
A Sign to Live By: Be Excellent To Each Other
A Magical Approach to Cooking
"A goal is arguably just a random something that is sufficiently far away. A caprice. But somehow, if taken seriously, if treated as fate, a goal can make an odyssey out of what would otherwise just be the small hours of life. One sets out to fulfill the prophecy no prophet ever professed, and the drama of how to get there from here makes meaning out of what might otherwise be just meanderings."
--From an ELLE magazine profile of one of our heroes, Diana Nyad, who will make another attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida this summer.
Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain
By Lucia Perillo
"Don't tell me about bad boys," writes Lucia Perillo. "I've seen my black clouds come and go." What she's also seen are some pretty dark-minded women—from a solitary mother addicted to cough syrup to a mistreated housewife who dreams of armed robbery. In the hands of a less-talented writer, these characters would turn out hard-boiled and, worse, hard to love. Instead, Perillo infuses each one with joy and humor, celebrating the best intentions behind the worst choices. The stunner of the collection is "Big-Dot Day," in which a mother and her young son, Arnie, set off from Las Vegas to the Washington coast, following yet another "new guy," who has plans to work a salmon boat. Left alone in the motel room, Arnie hatches a plan to go fishing—and what he catches (hint: it's not a fish) turns out to be both amazing and hilarious yet so quietly indicative of this boy's loneliness that you have to sit for a while, contemplating how it is that we all survive growing up. Relentlessly compassionate, this is a collection for the mistake makers and trying-as-hard-as-we-canners of the world—which probably means all of us.
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