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Wait...Tea? I'm such a caffeine fiend that my 3-year-old is trained to wake me up with a "Mama, it's time to make your cup of coffee!" But the way
blogger (Tea & Cookies) and author (The Butcher and The Vegetarian) Tara Austen Weaver writes about tea, I almost believe I love it as much as she does.
In a recent post, Weaver, who shares my morning routine obsession, writes: "I know some who eat the same breakfast, day in and day out. Some people use the same bowl or cup (a friend of mine recently visited and brought her favorite mug with her). There are tea and coffee rituals galore. These are the ways we lure ourselves out of bed, ground ourselves for the day ahead." As all of us routine-obsessed folks know, the morning ritual takes on heightened significance around this time of year. Mornings are darker and chillier, making it harder to launch out of a cozy bed. Those of us who leap out of bed are forced to awaken in those way-way-pre-dawn hours really need a good reason to make the eternal trek from the bed to not-the-bed.
Like, maybe, the promise of the perfect cup. Coffee, tea, whatever it is doesn't really matter. As Weaver puts it, "What matters is that I do it. That I take the time for this small thing that grounds me for the rest of the day. That even on hectic mornings, in fearful times, on shaky ground, I am able to wrap my hands around a warm cup, inhale a fragrance both comforting and calming. In that small moment I feel like, Yes, I can do this. And then I get on with my day."
Because she can. And I can. And you can.
(Read Weaver's entire blog post for its rapturous celebration of that morning cup of tea but also for the can't-miss comments, in which her readers share their own lovely morning musts, snuggly cats, oldies stations and all.)
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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.
* 50 years ago, James Bond strode onto the big screen. Shouldn't we all age so well? (Vanity Fair)
* Who knew Mitt Romney was such a romantic? Check out the photos declaring his love he sent to his future wife Ann in 1968. (Time)
* "The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety."—Deepak Chopra shares some great wisdom in under 140 characters. (Twitter)
No, I'm not suggesting any sort of twit-pic-ing. Rather, this is about Blog For Your Breasts Day, a day of internet awareness-raising. Breast Cancer Awareness month can be a tricky time for women; we want to get involved and show how much we care and fight against this awful disease, and we suspect that eating yogurt with a pink ribbon on the top isn't quite cutting it. But we're not, most of us, medical researchers. We're not (all) oncologists. How can just caring make a difference? Well, three years ago the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation started Blog For Your Breasts Day, urging women to reach out to their communities and encourage others to take action too. This year the goal is to direct readers toward the Health of Women study. Here, you and your readers can take part in a study for men and women with and without breast cancer that aims to gain a better understanding of breast cancer and what causes it. (And if you don't have a blog, you can share in a Facebook note, too.)
When you take the pledge to participate in Blog For Your Breasts Day, you will be sent an official BFYBD badge to publish on your site. And of course you can also celebrate the way girls everywhere do -- by wearing lots and lots of pink.
Fabulous Ways to Fight Breast Cancer
Hope-Inducing Breast Cancer Cure Breakthroughs
You have to really remember what it's like to be in the hothouse of high school to realize how brave such a statement is. Kropp was recently the victim of a mean-spirited prank, when classmates at her Michigan high school nominated her to the Homecoming Court.
As a joke.
According to the Huffington Post, Kropp was so embarrassed she said she contemplated suicide. It makes the heart ache to even read.
Then something unprecedented happened: the entire community rallied to support the sophomore, who had been repeatedly bullied because of her black clothing and multicolored hair. (If I'd gone to her high school I would have had a total friend-crush on her for these very reasons, but apparently there are not so many me's in West Branch, Michigan.) The Huffington Post reports that "Instead of allowing Kropp to be defeated by the bullies, the small farm community rallied around her, convincing her to attend homecoming despite the joke. Several business in the town volunteered to buy Kropp dinner, take her picture, do her hair and nails, and dress her in a stunning red gown and heels for the big day." And most importantly, the support from her hometown should help Kropp to know in her heart what a local nail technician said: "In high school, everything means everything to you. You don't realize that none of it will matter after you leave." Truer words, I suspect, have never been spoken.
The Support Whitney Kropp Facebook page has over 60,000 likes -- head on over to show your own support, and to get updates from the team. And even if you escaped high school decades ago, it never hurts to look yourself in the mirror and repeat after Whitney: "I'm a beautiful person and you shouldn't mess with me!"
How to Deal with a Bully
The High Price of School Bullying
"Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise."—Alice Walker
"When people show you who they are, believe them the first time."—Maya Angelou
"When people talk, listen completely."—Ernest Hemingway
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out just how far one can go."—T.S. Eliot
"Don't ever confuse—your life and your work. The second is only part of the first."—Anna Quindlen
"The best way out is always through."—Robert Frost
"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.—Henry James
"A good time to laugh is anytime you can."—Linda Ellerbee
"Be the heroine of your life, not the victim."—Nora Ephron
We all have those Life Traffic Jams sometimes. You know the feeling. Maybe everything looks okay from the outside, as it did with Emily Finch; she had a beautiful family, a big house, and drove a Suburban around, and yet, something was just off. As she recently told Bike Portland, she was depressed and "at a time in my life when something had to change." As anyone who's ever spent some months or years stuck in a Life Traffic Jam knows, sometimes you just get out of that car and start walking in the other direction. in Emily Finch's case, this happened to be a very literal solution. This mother of six got a bike. Make that, a family bike:
That's right, Emily Finch transports all her six kids around in a bike, outfitted with a specialized cargo bin called a bakfiets and an added children's bike at the back. According to Bike Portland, Finch had never biked until a few years ago, when she started feeling stuck and dissatisfied. So where most of us would think, Okay, clearly I need to make things easier on myself (or, uh, is that just me?), Finch decided to sell her huge Suburban and lug her kids around town in a family bike. You must read the entire post over at Bike Portland for details on how this petite 34-year-old powers her enormous bike (she estimates that with the kids, their gear, and a load of groceries the total weight tops out around 550 lbs!).
In part the family bike came out of Finch's desire for her large family to create a smaller carbon footprint. But also, as she put it, "When I saw that bike, I knew it. I said, 'This is it. This is going to change my life.'" And she's right, the bike has transformed her life and the life of her family: they've saved lots of money not having a big car; Finch lost the 25 lbs she thought she never would; they even ended up moving to Portland because it was more bike-friendly and open-minded than the small town they lived in before. Trading the car for the family bike has changed the scope of their days and outings, and has introduced Finch into the welcoming community of fellow bikers.
As you might imagine, it's not always (ever) easy, but Finch says, "it's changed my life. I can't really explain it. In the end, my bike just brings me happiness." And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how you tell a Life Traffic Jam who's boss.
Try Biking to Work
Workouts for Any Schedule
There's nothing like a good old-fashioned "We Are the World"-style anthem, am I right? Many voices (preferably with a high percentage of celebrities), joining together in catchy song, to support a cause you weren't totally completely sure was a cause at all? Turns out, today is National Voter Registration Day, and guess what -- according to the nonpartisan group L.O.V.E., AKA "Let One Voice Emerge," the largest group of non-voters in America is unmarried women. What? Ladies, nearly 20 million of you are not voting! Not to nag, but remember how just a few generations ago, it was illegal for women to vote? It is a mighty power we have been given. Let's not abdicate it because it seems like a pain to get to the polls, or to get registered (it's not).
In the meantime, let Fergie, Keke Palmer, Patti Austin, Sheila E., and many many others inspire you to vote like your life depends on it. (Which it just might.)
Drew Barrymore's Voting Campaign
The Impact of the 2008 Presidential Election
I like fun months, like National Honey Month (September) and Women's Friendship Month (also September). Then there are the not-fun-but-important months, like Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (uh, also September). I'm not sure there's any combination of words more awful than "childhood" and "cancer." Okay, so I wrote that sentence and then stared at it for about ten years. How to transition from there? It's just too awful. Arnold Palmer Hospital's Illuminate Blog acknowledges the difficulty of Childhood Cancer Awareness: "People really don’t want to talk about it...We don’t talk about it because it scares the living daylights out of us. The very idea that it could happen to my child, to my family is more than we can bear. It’s an unbelievably heart-wrenching thought: caring for your child as they suffer and knowing that you are powerless to take away their pain. But, for some it is their reality; it’s the hand they were dealt."
Then there are the kids who have to live through it all, and who display strength of spirit that makes most adults look like overgrown pansies. Kids like Talia, a 13-year-old who has been battling cancer for six years. Six years. When she first started to lose her hair from chemotherapy, she tried wearing wigs, but according the Illuminate blog, she said, “It just didn’t feel like me...Makeup is my wig.” Talia started posting her makeup tutorials online and has become something of a YouTube phenomenon. This girl is really gorgeous, with unrealistically huge dark eyes right off an illustrated princess, but as her vlog reveals, she's also incredibly fierce, brave, and (you knew it was coming...) beautiful on the inside.
It's easy to glaze over at the words "Childhood Cancer," to shut down out of self-preservation -- some things are just too sad to comprehend. But kids like Talia make it real, and help us to understand that if a 13-year-old can say, "Having cancer has been a gift, but yet a horrible, horrible, terrifying thing," then the least we can do is listen to her.
Collecting Jokes To Help Kids With Cancer
Unexpected Help for A Teenager In Need of a New Leg