We all have a few secrets. Some aren’t for sharing. Some are for sharing with a trusted few. And some get spilled on the internet, in spite of the fact that one could lose all credibility and respect.
Secret: I pour over the best and worst (especially the worst) dressed lists after every entertainment awards show. I’ve never missed Project Runway, and I check in with Tom and Lorenzo daily. Until recently I watched Fashion Police with Joan Rivers religiously and even admired her chutzpah (however, her fat shamming crossed the line and we’ve since broken up). And there’s more. I watch Scandal, eagerly anticipating the moment when Olivia Pope will splash coffee on her more-fashionable-than-the-rest-of-us white coat or spill red wine on her cashmere lounging outfit.
Fact: I may be the least fashionable person you know. My interest and occasional obsession in celebrity dress up makes no sense. My idea of private hell includes having to wear a formal gown. Add high heels and you’ll never see me again. I only wear spillproof fabrics.
I also love (seriously love) the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I am a feminist. Yes, I know that doesn’t compute. But I have loved that movie, and every song in it, for most of my life.
While I am giving it all away, I have more Neil Diamond CDs than any other artist.
I am thrilled that TV binge watching is now a “thing” because I am really good at it.
I believe my little not-so-secrets are considered ‘guilty pleasures.’ I’ll bet you have a few, too. And no, I am not referring to doing the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle in pen, allowing yourself a small piece of fair trade dark chocolate every three months, or collecting marathon running medals. I am talking about the lowbrow and embarrassing stuff you do when no one is looking, but you’re feeling the need to indulge. If you’re hiding, then it counts.
Putting Junior Mints in your movie popcorn (and the popcorn itself, if you didn’t hold the butter), staying in your pajamas all day (double points if you have morning and afternoon pjs), and gourmet ice cream for one. Toss in a pile of glossy magazines, an arsenal of nail polish, and rescheduling life around the Survivor finale (we’re up to Season 28, if you’re watching along with me), and you’re talking my language. Nutella by the spoonful, mixing a little lemonade in your beer (don’t judge), owning more than three pairs of slippers. Are we on the same page here?
But let’s make a deal with each other. Let’s stop calling them guilty pleasures and re-frame them as deserving treats.
A treat that we made it though the day, the week, the year. Or even the commute, the conversation, the project, the meeting, the event, and the ridiculous never-ending list of chores.
And while we’re making our smart and sassy deals, let’s skip the part where we have to earn them.
We have earned them just by making it this far. We have worked and wiggled our way to fifty-something, with a few failures, some disappointment, and more sweat and tears than we care to admit. This life journey stuff is a bumpy path. We’ve been supportive and strong, and we’ll continue to be so.
Sometimes we just have to be silly. And we need to waste a little time. Enjoy a little sparkle, taste a little sweet with our salt, and laugh at a bawdy joke. We need to sing with our outside voices with no apology. We need to give our brain, our better judgement, and our inner critic a break.
So while I may not admit to the world that I own
six seven pairs of slippers, and I can tell you what Lupita Nyong’o wore last week, I’ll admit it to you. Perhaps not with pride, but also without guilt.
Now pass the nail polish and let’s get to the fun stuff. By the way, have you tried truffle salt on your popcorn?
We’re wandering around the internet (yes, probably in our pajamas, and most certainly with a glass of wine in hand), so you don’t have to. This week’s fabulous finds:
A worthy and wonderful crown. Beautiful henna tattoo crowns for cancer patients who have lost their hair. Love this!
We’ve always admired Paula Scher as one of the most influential (and productive, and creative, and brilliant) women in design.A wonderful interview with her about how design, and persuasion, is an endurance test.
What you never knew you needed. Instagram Marshmallows.
Chase down those marshmallows (or anything) with A Film About Coffee. Looks fascinating (and delicious).
For more on Madeleine L’Engle, check out this post on Brain Pickings. Thanks for Maria Popova for the link.
By Laura Jenkins
About four years ago I connected with one of my sisters for the very first time.
I was 48 years old, and she was 57.
Honest to God, the only thing I was after was medical information. At the time my mother was dying of cancer, and I’d never even had a clue about what kind of genetic foes might be lurking in my paternal DNA. At nearly fifty years of age, I decided that gaining the other half of my medical history was worth the risk of whatever response I got from my biological father’s family. So I sent an apologetic message to my sister Laurie, expecting the worst. And instead, I got the very best.
When we talked on the phone for the first time, she asked, “Do you have any pictures you could send me of when you were younger?” I emailed her a few. And she was so blown away by our resemblance, she drove to a storage unit to get a photo of herself at around the same stage of life. She came of age in the sixties; I in the seventies (comparison above.) What do you think? I imagine that if you took away the hair and the clothing, and I was facing the camera as she is, you might not be able to tell the faces apart.
The entire story is super interesting, but it’s long. I could talk your ear off about how meeting the Italian side of my family has changed my life. However, in a writing workshop I frequented last year, Spike Gillespie came up with a super cool challenge that made me condense part of the narrative: Write about a significant life experience in 100 words. Then tell it in 50. Then tweet it. And finally, write a haiku about it.
Ninety percent of my experience with meeting my father’s family is infused with surprise, joy, and delightful twists and turns. I can’t even begin tell you what wonderful people my sister, brother and their extended families are. I also met my father’s warm and gracious sister, and a cousin I love as though I’ve known her all my life. I adore them. But the week before I did Spike’s brilliant exercise, the writing prompt was “outsider.” And when reflecting on that theme, one of the two things that immediately came to me was the ten percent of this whole experience that didn’t go so well. And writing about it in this format was strangely cathartic; it helped me get to the heart of what I was feeling at the time. What does it feel like to be EXcluded? Here’s one take.
Quick note: I initially thought the assignment was 200/100/50/tweet/haiku, so I decided to leave the 200 in.
I’d been standing on the precipice for 25+ years and finally made a split-second decision to jump. Four months earlier I had discovered the obituary of my deceased biological father, whom I’d never met. And now I was staring at Laurie, my half-sister, on Facebook. “Wow – my heart is pounding as I write this,” my message began. For most of my life I feared that if I contacted my father or his other children, I’d be scorned, vilified or outright rejected. Folks usually don’t kill the fatted calf for the child of the other woman.
To my great surprise, I found a beloved sister with whom I have everything in common. She eventually introduced me to our big-hearted brother, John and we, too, have become close. The youngest brother, however, reacted much like I imagined my father would’ve, had I appeared on his doorstep. He asked to meet me when I was in Washington visiting our sister, and he and his wife were more cold, sullen and patently rude than I could’ve thought possible. When I feel indignant at the way they treated me, I try and remember that he’s facing a dilemma he cannot fix: that of reconciling his view of our father with who he really was.
Two out of three ain’t bad. I never dreamt I’d have any kind of relationship with my biological father or his children, given the fact that I was tangible proof of his philandering. Four months after discovering his obituary I found my sister on Facebook, and today we share a close friendship and soul connection that’s difficult to explain. I also found a rare bond with our older brother, who is an incredibly generous and loving soul. The third sibling, however, couldn’t summon any response beyond suspicion, contempt and hostility. He invited me to his home and then brusquely shunned me the entire time.
I never expected anything but dismissal. Surprisingly, I found a large, loving family when I contacted the daughter of the father I’d never known. The only exception was one brother, who made it clear I’m unwelcome. Good thing my existence doesn’t depend on his approval.
Found an amazing family behind my abandoning dad, but am unwilling to sacrifice myself on the altar of one brother’s angst. #notworthit
You wish you could fly
And preempt my conception.
Like father like son.
A few more bits to ponder for the weekend. Thanks for stopping by this week. See you on Monday with new work from Laura.
The most powerful piece we saw this week: Would you know your relative if they were homeless?
Emily Kelting celebrated her 60th birthday hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. Her story gives us something fantastic to aspire to.
And just one more for good measure, Everyday Awards for the Olympian inside all of us. I’d like one for “not spilling food on new white shirt” please.
“I think of all the thousands of billions of steps and missteps and
chances and coincidences that have brought me here. Brought you here,
and it feels like the biggest miracle in the world.”
—Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall
I’ve always loved a good metaphor and am even willing to climb for one. For years I’ve been intentionally seeking interesting stairways to photograph. Sometimes there is a view at the top, sometimes there’s nothing but a resting spot. But always, it’s something different, and that in itself is worthwhile.
Until recently, I was pretty clear where I stood and why— firmly and proudly with Team Make it Happen. There’s another team, Team Meant to Be. We’re the doers, they’re the believers. They accept, we activate. They hope. We hike. And obviously, we’re the superior team.
A funny thing happened on my way to judging and dismissing Team Meant to Be. I realized they might have something. Something I wanted, and maybe even needed. Perhaps it was time to change the way I play.
You know Team Meant to Be, don’t you? They attribute an event—painful, miraculous, or just surprising—to a higher spirit, God, luck, or magic. To an outsider, it appears they don’t wallow in what ifs, but move forward powered by accepting what is. While I do give a shout out to karma for the appearance of an open parking spot (bestowed by the universe for letting someone ahead of me at the market) I don’t understand why one would give up calling their own shots.
When a job is lost, meant to be. A life tragically cut short, meant to be. Climate change, divorce, the appearance of a soon-to-become-yours rescue dog, a double rainbow at the exact moment you needed a sign. Meant to be. A sports blowout or a courageous comeback. Sustaining marriages, miraculous recoveries, and functional families. Always meant to be.
“It was God’s will. The stars were aligned. It’s the full moon. It’s out of our hands. There’s nothing we can do about it. Magic, I tell you. It was luck. We’ll never know why. Some people just aren’t lucky. She gets all the breaks. He can’t catch a break. Good karma. Bad karma. She had an angel looking over her. Chance. Fate. Fortune. Kismet. Destiny.”
Seriously, why wouldn’t you take credit for great moments… even if that means taking responsibility for the rotten ones? Why wouldn’t you want to feel like you matter, you can make a difference, that the world depends on you?
Who really wants to hand over their power? Wouldn’t everyone rather be on Team Make It Happen?
In their shining moments, Team MIH are leaders, activists, artists, organizers and rabble rousers. They are the moms who get dinner on the table, clean laundry folded, summer camp schedules completed, and make Christmas morning happen. The dads who coach, fix, build, pay bills, maintain the vegetable garden, and teach their daughters how to backpack in the wilderness (and yes, I am speaking of my own family). Make it Happens invent, produce, and create. They are stubborn, committed, believe in their vision and act on their passion. They move. Fast. Their brains resemble hamster wheels, spinning like crazy. They are schemers, drivers and dreamers. And they get stuff done.
Our team slogan is, “We’re busier than you are, and proud of it.”
Do I hear whispers of a downside?
Maybe. Possibly. Potentially.
Yes, there is a downside.
The downside, as you may have already figured out, is that MIHs are so focused on achieving—getting to the next thing—that sometimes they can’t appreciate the last thing. It’s all up to them, and they wear responsibility as a badge of honor. They are always in charge and they always know what’s best. In their worst moments, they can even manufacturer a little drama. And they aren’t particularly good at sharing… the work, or the light. They believe that if they aren’t making something happen, then nothing is happening.
You can spot them in their chosen position—that would be in self-centered field.
“I can’t slow down, there is too much to do. It’s my fault. It’s my responsibility. If I don’t do it, no one will. If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. They’re depending on me. I am so busy I don’t have a moment to breathe. It would take too much work to get the information out of my brain and into yours, so I will just go ahead and do it. I will make it happen, even if it kills me. I’m needed. If only I had been there, I could have prevented/accomplished/stopped/started/finished it.”
My name is Kim, and I am a recovering member of Team Make it Happen.
I am 56, and I am learning that there are other ways, and they don’t all have the word “my” in it.
I want to live a life that is a balance of believing, doing and loving. I want a little wonder with my reality.
I am learning that I don’t need to understand everything. Accepting the unexplainable might even be enlightening.
Moving on doesn’t mean I haven’t acknowledged what happened. It’s just another form of action, without a bullhorn.
There may be a higher power who helps guide us in our journey. And she might even know my name.
Maybe, just maybe, blind faith is more about faith than about lack of vision.
Life doesn’t have to be a never-ending do-it-yourself project.
Being a rabble rouser may be exciting, but it’s not always productive.
Standing in the light is much more fun with company.
The laundry doesn’t really matter, nor do the dishes, or the dirty windows. Being present matters.
Slow might actually be the way to go. And it might allow me to get to my destination faster, with a few more friends by my side.
Awe, the experiences that have stunned me into silence—holding my newborn daughters, the northern California coast, the High Sierra mountains, sitting with a poor mother in India who can’t feed her children today, but believes she can make a better life for them tomorrow—those are the most powerful moments that can move us to act. I believe in awe. Both the stunning silence and the action that follows.
Success isn’t always about what I’ve produced. Perhaps success won’t ever be about what I’ve produced. It might be simply that I am alive, I am trying, and I am loving as fiercely as I can.
While never an athlete, I have always been a collaborator and think of myself as a team player. It’s time for me to reshape my team, and certainly my position. My hybrid team name will be Team Happen To Be Me. And I will absolutely make that work.
Mojo goodness from the corners of the internet, to take you into the weekend.
We learned about Rwanda’s all woman drumming corps and ice cream shop, Sweet Dreams, at TedX Women last fall. Here’s more from NPR. So awesome!
Did you see this BBC story about a 13-year old girl eagle huntress in Mongolia? Awe inspiring and full of joy.
Because you deserve it…bookstore scented candle on Etsy. Gotta love a little clever.