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It's often said that names can forge our destiny. Harry, the hairdresser, for example. Or Carol Moeller, the dental hygienist. Or Zoe Hamburger, the McDonald's account handler. (Check out this fun, silly list of names and professions.)
The Phil Campbells of the world had no such pretensions to glory. Their name linked them to small town in Alabama, also called Phil Campbell, which, in 2011, is celebrating its centennial. This spring, the plan was to welcome as many Phils to down south as possible, from as far away as possible, for the town's annual hoedown.
Then, on April 27, a tornado hit, killing 26 and decimating homes and businesses.
Instead of reveling in the streets, Phil Campbells (and one Phyllis) from all over the globe headed to Alabama last weekend to help rebuild those same streets, clearing debris, raising international attention, even organizing a movie-screening fundraiser. "I just thought we would be raking," Phil from Brooklyn told us. "But Big Phil from Wisconsin broke out the power tools and disassembled an entire wooden structure that had fallen over."
The website ImwithPhil.com, shows that Phils from Bowral, Australia, to Juneau, Alaska, have raised $35,000 to build a Habitat for Humanity home for one lucky family. "It was a profound experience," says Phil from Brooklyn. "But I don't want our names to overshadow the people of the town. They still need help."
To learn more, read The New York Times article or donate to the cause.
Feta cheese has long been the darling of the Greek food world, and for good reason: Its tangy flavor is key to such classics as spanakopita and Greek salads. But a new book on the country's cuisine, Food from Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros, introduces items that are just as versatile.
Kiros, the daughter of Finnish and Greek parents, begins her cookbook with a glossary of Greek staples.
On the list, amid such familiar items as feta, Greek yogurt, and phyllo, are three that we've become taken with:
Every Monday, we're rounding up things—small and big—that made us stop and think. Today, we were captivated by a witty acceptance speech, a persuasive op-ed, a rockstar author/behavioral economist and more...
* David Kobia, director of technology development at the crowd-sourcing nonprofit Ushahidi, which connected people at crucial moments during crises in Kenya, Haiti, India, Gaza, India, Chile and Japan, accepting (in just five words) the (RED) Webby Award for Special Achievement in social innovation:
"Our voices revolutionize the world."
* Tim Kreider, cartoonist and essayist, in his New York Times op-ed, "In Praise of Not Knowing":
"I hope kids are still finding some way, despite Google and Wikipedia, of not knowing things. Learning how to transform mere ignorance into mystery, simple not knowing into wonder, is a useful skill. Because it turns out that the most important things in this life—why the universe is here instead of not, what happens to us when we die, how the people we love really feel about us—are things we're never going to know."
*Joy Bryant, actress, writing in the July issue of Elle about the grandmother who helped her (eventually) develop an ecological conscience:
"She scrimped and saved to give me experiences that I'll never forget ... That mindfulness—call it frugality or environmental consciousness, whichever you choose, whether you're affluent or of humble means—is what's important."
* Luke Russert, an NBC News correspondent, on what he learned from his dad:
"I learned that night it's okay for a man to show fear and vulnerability. My dad could have said, "Suck it up. It's only an hour-and-a-half flight." Instead he went out of his way to support my weakness. To this day, I don't believe in a "no fear" attitude. All of us have fears, and they're real. But if you can acknowledge them and understand them—you might need help, like I did—you can overcome them."
* Dan Ariely, author of The Upside of Irrationality and a behavioral economist at Duke University, writes in the July issue of Wired about becoming enslaved by calendar apps: "Think how differently we'd interact with our calendars if the default was for time slots not to be empty—if, instead, they were prepopulated with tasks like thinking, writing and planning. We'd be far less likely to neglect the opportunity costs: Every time we accept an obligation, it would be clear that we are giving something up."
On the list of things we love—a little before garlic and a little after lilacs—comes David Whyte. This Irish-born, American-bred poet makes us look, think and feel differently. Take his poem "Self Portrait", or this line from his poem "The Journey": "Sometimes everything / has to be / inscribed across the heavens / so you can find / the one line / already written inside you."
Sure, he gives seminars at Oxford and has been profiled by PBS. But today he's given Life Lift 10 Questions That Have No Right to Go Away, questions that "almost always have something to do with how we might become more generous, more courageous, more present, more dedicated" and show us "when we might step through the doorway into something bigger, better, both beyond ourselves and yet more of ourselves at the same time." They might point your life in an unexpected, unforgettable direction.
It's Friday afternoon. That means it's gratitude journal time. Thank you, thank you, thank you to...
* The photographer who showed us the possibility of passion in the most unlikely of places (via Esquire)
* The Official Girl Scouts of the USA Cookie Finder app. Because Girl Scout cookies are always in season somewhere...
* Love songs: not so silly after all. Paul McCartney reminded us how much music matters on The Gayle King Show
* Oh, and hello...a few befuddled dogs surfing win mood booster of the week
I was thinking of giving my husband the day off for Father's Day. He could laze in bed reading, and I would take care of the kids. But maybe I should let him take care of the kids...and I'll go catch a movie instead.
As we found out this morning on LifeInc.Today.com, women aren't the only ones struggling to find a balance between spending time with their family and advancing their careers. A study by the Boston College Center for Work & Family called The New Dad surveyed nearly 1,000 fathers, most of whom had wives who also worked. The men reported that they spent an average of 2.65 hours interacting with their children, and, when asked if they would like to spend more time with their children during the week, "77 percent of the fathers reported that they would."
Most importantly, 65 percent of the papas believed that care for the kids should be split 50-50 between both parents (though 65 percent of them admitted that the mamas actually gave more care).
I'm beginning to think the whole country should move Father's Day from Sunday to Monday, close all the post offices and businesses, and let dads stay at home to pick up the children from school, buy them an ice cream and, screaming in terror, chase after the kids as they pedal like speed-drunk bicycling maniacs toward the intersection, only to stop at the curb and ask innocently, "Pop? Why are you so upset?"
So let's stop showering Dad with cards and gifts. Let's make Father's Day about being a father—from carpooling to making spaghetti for supper to laughing over who exactly floated the bath toys in the toilet bowl (true story).
After the jump: The moment that left the lead surgeon almost at a loss for words
Not to mention my favorite: Listen to your mother!
Luckily, I stumbled onto something that combines all those life lessons into one fun, good-for-the-soul project. This month, the website thredUP kicks off its Summer Book Swap. Here's how it works: Parents and kids pack up boxes of unwanted children's books (clean up your room!). They exchange the boxes with other families online (recycle!). The kids read their new used books at home (turn off that computer/iPad/video game/phone!), and the whole family receives coupons and free credit at websites like BookSwim, Chronicle Books and eBookFling (share!)
Just so you know, those coupons and free credits can be used to buy, swap or rent the new summer novels you've been dying to read perhaps on the beach, under an umbrella, alone for a few hundred juicy pages...
Check out these other ways to get cheap—and even free—grown-up books online!
Imagine that you're a 2011 graduate of Hampshire College, a school popular with intellectual do-gooders. On May 21, the only things standing between you and your upcoming Peace Corps mission were a few commencement speeches that—you were willing to bet your Mexican raffia tote on this—were going to tell you to "dream big," embrace challenge" and "not be afraid of failure." You barely caught the introduction of the staff speaker, Roberta Tudryn, the beloved cashier who's worked in the school dining commons for 30 years. Then you tuned in to her words:
And that's when you thought about all those times that you chatted with Roberta in the dining hall, and you hoped that you never said anything rude or jerky, and then you remembered your grandmother, who couldn't make it to today's commencement but sent you a card so sweet it made your throat burn, and you forgot about saving the world (for now), and you forgot about that night's parties, and you jumped up and whooped for this hardworking woman who had often brightened your day and who just spent five minutes thanking you for making her job worthwhile.