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August 2012 (129 posts)
It's Friday! We're grateful for so many things this week, starting with...
Who would have thought a rapid sequence of ball-shaped objects would be so profound?
The Olympic Google doodles—They're just that amazing!
How do you connect a community? Start hanging swings in the most delightful of places
Humans of New York: A photographic census of the Big Apple (via Cup of Jo)
The coffee shop where everyone pays for everyone else's drinks (via GOOD)
Then I learned about the Brooklyn parrots. Yes, they are really parrots: bright green birds occupying the scrappy trees and power lines of Brooklyn. Part of me wants to leave the story there, imagining that the tropical poultry packed up one day and immigrated to the big city out of some birdy mix of courage, ambition, and confusion.
Turns out, there are also colonies of Monk Parakeets (most likely escaped pet birds) in Chicago, Florida, and elsewhere -- this site even tracks new sightings of feral Monk Parakeets. Opinion is divided on the hearty ex-pats: some call them invasive species (think "weeds of the bird world") and believe we should eradicate these non-native fowl. Others, like the aspiring ornithologist behind BrooklynParrots.com, celebrate the injection of tropical wildlife in our, let's face it, largely unnatural setting. (Visit this Brooklyn parrots blog for some theories on how they arrived in the city -- no, they didn't take the train, clutching suitcases, hoping to make it on Broadway.)
The thing is, I think that many of us are in our hearts Brooklyn parrots. We find ourselves ostensibly all grown up, in a place, doing a thing, living a life. And sometimes we are up all night, squawking into the darkness, wondering how we have come to be here. (It's so much colder than we imagined! Or -- so much hotter!) With any luck we find other refugees like ourselves and set up a colony, populating our nests with newfound family members whose lime-colored feathers remind us of a distant, half-remembered home. As the strange menu of my local diner plaintively asks, "Where else would you go?"
So sing on, Brooklyn parrots, you wonderful oddballs!
A Guide to Love in Any Species
Using Home As a Way to Connect
How to Reach Out of Loneliness
Recently at a Fort Worth, Texas, community pool, two parents had the unthinkable happen, when they saw their kids nearly drown. Luckily for them, a string of coincidence led Christy Daae to be at the pool, which she told the Star-Telegram she almost never visits. Daae recounted how she saw the two kids playing happily. The three-year-old girl then started struggling, and her four-year-old friend, brave little guy, tried to help her. (Cue throat-lump.) Another good Samaritan saw the kids go under and pulled them out. Daae, who is an ER nurse, and another woman began giving the boy CPR. (The girl was in better shape and breathing on her own.) The kids were both whisked away to a nearby hospital. Daae called her presence at the scene "a God thing." "I do feel that it was divine intervention," she said. "We never go to that pool." (Read the whole story here at the Star-Telegram.)
There are so many moments in life when a split-second, a mere millimeter, a seemingly random decision, ends up changing everything. Thank goodness, in this case, for Daae's bravery, quick thinking, and the "God moment" that brought her to that pool on that day.
Mothering in Public
A Small Act of Kindness
Claire Potter faced this conundrum with her 13-year-old son, whom she describes in the Guardian as being "eager for more freedom and independence" but also "a boy who hated sustained effort and shied away from any kind of system or daily ritual." So she devised 13 challenges, each of which played to his strengths while also addressing real-life issues. The challenges are inventive and inspiring; for example, the first was "Get on a train on your own. Get off at the 13th stop. Go to a sit-down cafe or restaurant. Order the 13th item on the menu. Then buy yourself a whole outfit with £13.13."
First of all, what a brilliant parenting move. Since she helped him to buy the ticket and they live in a rural area, Potter was able to present the train trip as a grown-up adventure, while also being able to keep tabs on his whereabouts. And the challenge truly does help him to hone some adult skills. But upon reading this I thought, not just, wow, that does sound like a very practical and also fun challenge, but also, Wait, I want to do that! I go places and buy things all the time. But taking the train to a place I've never been -- just because? Ordering a randomly preselected item on the menu? What a fun way to add secret sparkles of fun to every day.
The challenges span from learning and performing a piano piece in public to completing 13 household chores to creating a self-portrait of himself to learning Hungarian. As Potter puts it, the real lesson she hopes her son will learn is "that life is full of possibility and playfulness if you want it to be." Which is something we could all stand to learn, no matter how old we are. (Read the whole essay for Potter's inventive ideas for challenging your children -- or yourself.)
Rites of Passage for Grown Women
Challenge Yourself and Energize Your Life
So I am overwhelmed just reading about Lou Xiaoying, the Chinese rubbish collector who rescued more than 30 abandoned babies over the course of her life. Although she lived in poverty with her husband and her own children, Lou personally raised 4 of the children and found homes for the rest. According to the Daily Mail, Lou said, "The whole thing started when I found the first baby, a little girl back in 1972 when I was out collecting rubbish. She was just lying amongst the junk on the street, abandoned. She would have died had we not rescued her and taken her in. I realized if we had strength enough to collect garbage how could we not recycle something as important as human lives."
She adopted her youngest child when she was 82.
Now, according to the Huffington Post, Lou Xiaoying is dying of kidney failure, and trying to raise money to help support her youngest children after she is gone. She is being hailed as a hero in her community, and no wonder. Any mothering has echoes of the heroic in it, but when you add extreme poverty and an even more extreme altruism, when you think of the children whose lives had no value to anyone but Lou, well, it kind of makes you want to rise to the occasion, to find the bit of Lou Xiaoying in all of us.
(Read the whole article to learn more about how China's policies have likely contributed to the large number of abandoned babies and about how you can contribute to Lou Xiaoying's family.)
The Controversy Over Older Mothers
The Baby You Have to Give Back
Got a question about haircare, skincare or makeup for O's beauty director, Val Monroe? Now's your chance! During the month of August, Val is answering your burning beauty questions!
Marie asked: How can I go gray naturally without cutting all my hair off?
See Val's video response:
Do you have a question for O's beauty director Val Monroe or O's creative director Adam Glassman? Ask away here!
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.
* Yes, we know, this Call Me Maybe horse has been beaten past death, but still, Batman Maybe is pretty brilliant. (YouTube, via Coudal)
* There will be tears: A photographer captures a tender moment between a man and his dog in Lake Superior. (Huffington Post)
* “Maybe they just dropped something in my drink, I can’t say, but anything they wanted to do was fine with me.”—Bob Dylan, on his 1987 collaboration with the Grateful Dead. Open Culture's got audio of their rehearsal. (Open Culture)
Of the many inspiring stories to come out of the Olympics, how many of them have to do with a champion's excellent manners? Usain Bolt, world's fastest man, was being interviewed after winning the gold medal in the 100 meter dash, when US sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross's own gold medal ceremony began. He stopped his interview (in a very low-key way) to listen to the national anthem, and to let Richards-Ross have her moment over on that other side of the screen.
In a world that rewards competitiveness, how lovely it is to see an athlete take a moment to honor a fellow athlete's accomplishments. If only we could all feel this way about each others' successes -- writers, businesspeople, politicians, artists, even parents -- after all, we're all in this whatever-we-are-in together, and it never hurts to take a moment for someone else's moment.
(And you have to love how, when told he is a legend, Bolt chuckles, saying, "Yeah, people say that." Do they give gold medals in class and humility, too?)