Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Gratitude



The other day, I got on the I am a Triangle Facebook group through my nifty Groups App. It allows me to access groups without actually going on Facebook, which I love. The Triangle group always has interesting posts and inspiring messages. The mediators of the page do such a great job restricting and removing posts or comments that aren't productive, supportive or relevant to the expat-repat experience. It really is the best.

So, I'm scrolling along and I see a post about gratitude. A woman remarks that she found an old journal and was so amused to see a list of things she was grateful for back in Singapore, before she had repatriated. The list included things like running playlists, running shoes, Sauvignon blanc, the name of their cleaner, health and the opportunity to travel. She suggested that people comment with their own gratitude lists and without skipping a beat, I did. Without thinking or editing, I wrote,
I'm grateful for *Trader Joe's *Spotify lists *great speakers/sound system in our car *remote start (will it ever stop snowing?!) *the cute phase our kids are in *being healthy *the realization that even though I feel like I'm getting older, writing is always possible and something I can keep doing and get better at and deeper into *our fireplace!!! *that a really awful neighbor moved out and is gone. Thanks for the reminder!!
And then I read what I had written and felt so happy and lucky. It's weird how as we approach 40, life changes. Some of the things we thought we might do, or even would do someday become things that obviously we won't do, probably ever. That's so weird. Life feels at once more limiting and constrictive because of that, and yet more free and expansive because along with age and realizing we won't do all of those someday things, we get to know ourselves. We understand that we aren't missing out on those other things, we're simply not choosing them because they don't actually matter to us. How liberating is that?! In life, identifying our values, what drives us, what gives us joy, and what makes us feel alive is what it's all about.

And then, out of the blue, J played the above video for me and it made me smile and feel so glad. Each of us has to live according to our own spirit, to feed our own soul and to chase our own dreams. It makes me feel so free. Do you keep a gratitude journal? What makes you truly happy?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Montessori: Perceived Risk



The top of that slide is a few inches above my head. It's a long way down, and there are no barriers of any kind to stop a child from falling. That is, unless you count those decorative ropes as barriers, which I don't. Coco was nine days shy of turning two years old when she climbed up the ladder on the right and toddled cautiously across to the slide, beaming with delight before she slid down. You can understand why last summer, we ourselves were delighted when her swimming teacher said she wasn't ready for the next level (which is typically for 7-10 years olds!) because Coco had a slight fear of the water that she wanted to see conquered first. It was probably the first time that parents were happy their child was afraid of water. But we were; Coco has been absolutely fearless her entire life.


This sticker is on the side of many unconventional playgrounds in Switzerland, such as this one. No risk, no fun is a custom playground design company comprised of three guys who believe that "a playground must contain certain challenges in order to be attractive." They seek to curb newer, safer, and frankly boring playgrounds from going in and instead propose "unique pieces for climbing, rocking, swinging, balancing, jumping, bobbing, wobbling, hiding, splashing, standing, hanging and looking." Doesn't that sound wonderful? Of course as parents, it's our job to keep our children safe. But children need a sense of risk. They are neither satisfied, nor able to acquire balance, strength or physical skills without it. In Montessori, we talk about "perceived risk" because at different ages and stages, and depending on the temperament of the child, what will satisfy their need for risk will differ.

Babies may be thrilled by so much as sitting on a chair that fits their proportions and is free of straps and harnesses and sits at ground level. They know that if they lean too far to one side, they will fall right off. And you can be sure that if a baby is sitting on a tiny chair, they probably will fall off because they have to test their limits. It's engrained. The beauty is that it's only a four or five inch fall and they learn without suffering.

Toddlers love standing on something close to the ground that isn't solid, such as this Montessori rocking boat. When they climb in, it moves and they have to balance. Toddlers are also fans of climbing everything, including bookshelves, so it's so important to secure furniture!

For older preschoolers, like a four-year-old, they're typically challenged and thrilled by a balance beam, a graduated lesson after "Walking on the Line" and a common feature in Montessori classrooms. Last week, I went to pick Coco up at school and she was walking across the balance beam backward with a blindfold on. She is not your typical child when it comes to risk and perceived risk.


But even though it seemed a little bit dangerous, I always let her take the lead (within reason!) in terms of perceived risk. I have never encouraged her to do something she didn't want to do, and always did my best to make it safe for her to do what she wanted to do. When I took these photos, I only did so when she had begun to sit down. The rest of the time, I was right there, phone in my pocket, no coffee or anything else in my hands, ready to catch her if she fell. I will admit that I am not disappointed that this particular playground was not the closest to our apartment. I really loved my time on the bench, reading a book at the park, which would have been impossible at this park! ;)

Risk is hugely important for children. In recent years, there has been a rise in injuries due to parent's trying to be protective on slides. And while we don't have any concrete numbers, it seems to myself and J that a lot more kids are knocking out their front teeth these days than did in previous generations. Of course, accidents will happen, but risk is also key in preventing them; it's how children develop the physical intuition to avoid injury in the first place.

Do you allow your children to take risks? No risk, no fun! ;)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Have a great weekend!


What are your plans this weekend? We went to check out a new barbecue joint in town tonight and after last week's episode, I'm actually counting down the hours until Homeland Sunday night. OMG. How on earth do those writers do it? Each season is better than the last. I don't even see how it's possible. Also, major kudos to Claire Danes for having a face that actually moves and has an appropriate number of lines for someone our age. I love that so much. She's amazing.

And, here are a few links for your weekend:

Such a good song.

Whoa.

So excited that Tim Ferris is interviewing Marie Kondo this week in Tokyo.

I've died and gone to laundry heaven.

Clever kitchen storage idea.

A complete list of creative conferences in 2017.

Totally digging this lunch bag.

Expats' loss of identity.

If you watched the ESPN documentary on OJ, you'll love this series (currently on Netflix).

Positively devouring this book. The introduction felt like it was written just for me!

A very long, but thought provoking read.

And, from the archives, cozy dining and dining in Alsace.

Have a great weekend! See you back here on Monday. xo

(Photo via Lindsey Tramuta on Instagram)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Swiss Onion Trick, or Thoughts on Integration and Repatriation


Last week when Coco was sick, I did the old onion trick. I sliced an onion in half and placed the two halves, cut side up, in the corners of Coco and Theo's room on the floor. The onions absorb all of the toxins out of the air and pull the sickness away from your children. This is what everyone does when their kids are sick, right? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe with Margaret Kelley


My friend Margaret is the quintessential All-American girl. She has an enviable, fresh, preppy look and over the holidays, I kept finding myself asking her about different outfits and clothing she was wearing. She seemed effortlessly polished and relaxed all the time, which is strange for someone with three kids. I was dying to know her wardrobe secret, and luckily for us, she was willing to share. 

All about Margaret's life-changing switch to having a capsule wardrobe, after the jump!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quick Weeknight Meal: Bacony Tomato Pasta


These days, it's rainy and dark and by late afternoon, things are feeling really gloomy. Sometimes the whole evening routine of dinner, bath and bed can seem really daunting. All hands on deck! So it's nice to have a simple meal that comes together quickly to hasten things closer to bedtime. Step-by-step instructions for one of my favorite quick weeknight meals, after the jump.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Have a wonderful holiday weekend.


Are you traveling this weekend? Hanging around home? We are staying in town and Coco and J are doing some skiing. She is completely better after her nasty virus. It really helped to let her fever run its course all day Thursday, and I also did the Swiss onion trick, which I'll tell you all about next week. (If you're already familiar - no spoilers - but shoot me an email, because yes to the onion trick!)   I can't believe it's already the second half of February. Honestly, where is 2017 going? I'm doing my best to savor every moment with my little cuties. Check out the cuteness in my Instagram stories! ;) I just don't want them to grow up, but Coco lost her second tooth last night. It's happening.

Here's a bit of what caught my eye around the web this week:

A chill song for you.

So excited to have found this podcast.

I've almost filled my current journal and it's exciting to be shopping for a new one. (A new chapter to be written:)

Is this Hygge? Haha!

Design lovers' reading list.

These photos are stunning.

So bad it's good.

This made me think.

Obsessed with this brow pomade and powder set and brush.

I got 100%. ;)

Enjoy your weekend and see you back here Tuesday! xo

(Gorgeous photo via Ffion McKeown on Instagram)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What are your favorite movies?


Remember when sick days were all about lying on the couch, surrounded by tissues and cold medicine and tea and juice and watching movie after movie and falling asleep and getting better? That's totally what Coco did today. Back-to-back, she watched Trolls and Frozen. Pretty much her version of heaven, minus the headache, chills and fever. 

Anymore, if I get sick, it's nothing like the above scenario. It's more like Sudafed, coffee and powering through anyway. Sometimes I'll let the kids watch a movie so I can sleep, but they usually wake me up in the most unpleasant way, like poking my eyes and then smiling the biggest, sweetest smile when they open. This is the toddler I'm talking about. If Coco did that at 5 1/2, it would be pretty weird, and I would not call it sweet. But when Theo does it, it's pretty cute, and it was when she was a toddler, too.

So, in the spirit of sick days, what are your favorite movies? Three of mine, straight ahead!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Best Rule of Thumb When Caring for a Sick Child


As a parent, one of the scariest things you'll do is take care of a sick baby or child. It's hard to know when to go to the doctor and when to wait it out and when to give them medicine and when to hold off. Our darling Coco is so sick tonight. I snuck into her room and took this photo just now. Such flushed cheeks and dark under eye circles. Poor little bunny!

Luckily for us, we feel pretty confident when it comes to taking care of sick kiddos. My mom gave us the most amazing rule of thumb to follow. That pearl of wisdom, plus all of our favorite remedies, after the jump.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Little Joys


What are the little things that make you happy? I was thinking today about how it really is the little things in life that tip the scales from day to day. The little things can get under our skin and make us really unhappy, grumpy, stressed, or angry. And it's the little things that can really make our hearts sing. In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm feeling the love. Here are a few little things I'm happy and grateful for today.

The hollow sound of ice cracking when you step on it. Preferably a big thick piece.

Theo kissing me on the leg when I get home and saying he missed me.

Coco showing me how she turns out her legs while she points her toes for ballet "like I'm showing you a sticker on my heel, mama." How true!

Watching TV with J and talking and not worrying about what we miss.

Having a lovely, laughter-filled coffee break with the girls at work.

The nice feeling of washing my face and applying all my serums, lotions and creams before bed. (Seriously, this is my new me-time;)

Red wine by the fire.

Bringing Theo and Coco into the big bed and snuggling my little cuties in the morning before we get up for the day.

Slyly watching Theo and Coco in the rearview mirror as they sing along with the radio in the car.

Sunsets.

Dry shampoo. There is still no greater miracle.

Watching people eat (and rave about!) the jam I made last summer.

Sleeping.

Telling J about my day and hearing about his.

***

I hope you're remembering the little things today. Happy Valentine's Day! Sleep well tonight. xo

Monday, February 13, 2017

Montessori: The Magic of Three


In Montessori, there is a great tool called the Three Period Lesson. It's really quite magical in how effective and simple it is, but it also relates to life's intricacies and mysteries in myriad ways. Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about the three-period lesson and how it might explain why we were foolish enough to leave our lovely life in Zurich when we did.

Let's explore that more, but first you need to understand the basic mechanics of the lesson.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Have a love-filled weekend!


Today is sunny and warm (44F/7c) and everything is starting to melt! Hurrah. As much as I love snow and snow days and cozy fires, I'm ready for spring. Coco and J are going up night skiing tonight and Theo and I are hanging out at home. I'm going to get him to bed early and read my book in a nice hot bath.

And here are some links for your weekend.

Kind of in love with this song.

Makes me feel better about Coco's getting older.

Have you ever tried EC? So fascinated by this.

On Frog and Toad.

How Children Lost the Right to Roam in Four Generations.

Couldn't resist buying this linen dress for summer.

Drooling over this apartment - in my favorite street in Seefeld!

Look up!

On writers and money.

How to break the cycle of outrage.

And, from the archives, another marriage saver and going to IKEA.

I hope your weekend is absolutely wonderful. As always, thank you so much for reading and see you back here Monday. xo

(Photo, Château de Chenonceau via Pinterest. Eclipse/Comet/Full Moon via Design Mom.)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Babies in Flight


Have you seen these incredible photos of babies aboard airplanes from the 1950's? They are just ridiculous. I cannot even imagine having my little baby up in a cot above my head on a plane, can you? The best part by far is the expressions on these babies' faces! They are completely unfazed. They rather seem to enjoy looking down on their parents in their seats below. I especially love the little guy in the middle photo. It's as if he's saying with his eyes, "You may go now" to the smiling flight attendant down in the aisle. What a crack up! And the curtains on the circular plane windows, and the huge glass baby bottle. So many fun details. I think I could stare at these photos all night. But those cots! Let's hope none of these flights encountered any turbulence. ;) 

I don't know about you, but I've been in need of some reprieve from the politics and news this week. Sigh. Have you seen anything whacky or interesting or funny lately? Please share!

(Photos via Thinkarete Lifestyle)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Valentine's His and Hers


What are you asking for for Valentine's Day? I am completely obsessed with the Bobbi Brown Off Duty Style File. It has everything you need for a relaxed weekend or vacation look for eyes, lips and cheeks. I played around with it today and the blush is so pretty. It's the most lovely violet pink color and you can dab it on your lips, too! The eyeshadow stick is gorgeous, not too shimmery, but enough in a rich rosegold hue, and the lip tint feels nourishing and has just enough color to make your lips pop. Throw on a couple coats of mascara and you can be out the door - feeling polished and fresh - in three minutes! So good.




This winter, I have been taking tons of hot baths with epsom salts and essential oils. So nice. But then I discovered Jo Malone Red Roses Bath Oil and I was positively in heaven! I put a couple handfuls of epsom salts in with one teaspoon of this bath oil and it's enough to make the whole bathroom smell like a giant bouquet of roses and melt all of my stress away. (This would also make a great gift for moms and grandmas;)


Valentino Donna is a really beautiful, feminine fragrance. It's heavier, but the snow just keeps falling here, so I find that it's the perfect winter scent. It's warm and powdery and floral all at once. It also reminds me of the waft of perfume that would fill the air when women would walk past on the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich. I always found their perfume too heavy, but now it takes me back and I like it!


And, finally, one for the guys. YSL's La Nuit de l'Homme is the sexiest, most wonderful smelling cologne I've ever come across. It's deep and alluring and after a few hours on, smells even better. J got a sample of it a while back and wore it every day for a week. I loved smelling it on his collar when he hugged me when he got home and it made me want to squeeze him a little closer and hold him a little longer. Absolutely the best. I will definitely be giving him a bottle of this Tuesday night.

J and I typically do not do anything special for Valentine's Day, but this year, I want to go out for tacos and margaritas and will spring to come! I also want to exchange gifts because it's just so fun to unwrap something special. Do you do it up on Valentine's day and give gifts, or do you think it's just a commercial racket? 

(Photos via Nordstrom

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

3 Tricks for a Happier Marriage

Barcelona, February 2011.
It's February, which means another anniversary since J and I started dating - wait for it - 14 years ago! That is quite hard to believe. But here we are. I have done the math correctly. Actually, we met just before Christmas 14 years ago and then hung out or went out in groups with our friends over the course of a month or so. But, our first meaningful, officially-became-an-exclusive-item date was 14 years ago on the 21st. We went to a formal party and heard a band play and stood at the back holding hands and smooched a bunch. Then, after the band was over, we were standing in the hallway and there was a Seurat on the wall. We were admiring it and reminiscing about life in Europe as we had both recently returned from study abroad and both very much wanted to go back. That was when we first decided we would go to Switzerland. That very moment! We both missed speaking another language so much and J said, "We could move to Switzerland because both German and French are spoken there." It's crazy to think we actually did. It's not exactly accurate that French and German are spoken in Switzerland; you have to ride a train for a couple hours from Zurich to speak French and be understood, but close enough!

Côte d'Azur, April 2011.
So this is the month I always get misty eyed and feel really proud of the relationship and family and life J and I have made together. It's pretty damn good. But, of course, marriage is also one of the hardest things a person will ever do. Our first couple years of marriage were really rough. I can be a bit of a commitment-phobe and the commitment level fully freaked me out. But I'm glad we are here now, still together. Marriage is definitely worth the hard work. Sometimes the hard work is marriage counseling, or taking a good hard look at one's own self and flaws. Other times it's being patient and kind despite frustration and dissatisfaction and being wise enough to know that any relationship, but particularly one that spans the entirety of one's life, is bound to go through phases and stages. Sometimes it's keeping your mouth shut and knowing when to go to bed early.

Pompeii, October 2010.

And then there are the little things, the simple things that make life so much easier. So, without further ado, the three little things that make marriage way easier for us:

Dishwasher
Before we had a dishwasher, we argued a lot about the correct way to do dishes, or who would do the dishes. When the dishes really piled up, the mess made me crazy. Then, after we got a dishwasher, all arguments about dishes were over. Having a dishwasher really is the best thing since sliced bread. In fact, I would rather have to slice all of my bread than give up our dishwasher. It seems like a given, or maybe silly, but having a dishwasher has been so good for us.

Separate Closets
Once you're married, you share everything. We share our bedroom, our bathroom, our bed. So it's nice to have my own space, kind of the way my locker was my own space in high school. My closet is organized by color and type of clothing and I only use white wooden IKEA hangers. All of my bags and purses are on the top shelf and I have space for my shoes and scarves and accessories and I love that it's the one place where everything is as I left it when I return to it. Add kids into the mix and it truly is the last sacred space.

Separate Toothpaste
I can't stand the way J squeezes the toothpaste tube and he doesn't notice that he does it (right down by the spout, crunched up and mangled!) so pretty early on, we stopped sharing toothpaste. We each have our own tube and we don't touch each other's. They're easy to tell apart!

What are the little ways that you avoid conflict in your marriage? Please share! One can never have too many happy marriage hacks. ;)

PS - Obviously keeping these separate has been a marriage saver, too! xo

Monday, February 6, 2017

Should You Use Cloth Diapers?


While I was pregnant with Coco, we decided we would use cloth diapers because they were healthier for the baby, more environmentally friendly, and would save us money. Then, after a few months, I was so sick of washing them. At every diaper change, I dreaded having to deal later on with the diaper I removed and they were getting harder and harder to clean despite the multiple rinses and washes I was doing. When our upstairs neighbors' daughter outgrew some size 2 Pampers and they gave us the remainder of the case they hadn't used, I felt positively gleeful every time I changed Coco's diaper and simply rolled up the adorable Pampers, wrapped the adhesive tabs around to make a neat little ball and tossed it in the garbage! Done. I really didn't want to continue with the cloth diapers. 


So I began doing exhaustive research and discovered, that in some cases, cloth diapers can actually be worse for the baby's skin, cause greater environmental impact and even cost more each month than disposables! Keep reading for a step-by-step guide as to whether you should be using cloth or disposable diapers for your baby.


Water and Washing Machine
If you're interested in making an environmentally friendly choice, the main factor you should consider is water. Cloth diapers use an incredible amount of water. They require a full water level wash, as well as a pre-wash and extra rinse. If you have a front loader, you will have to add water each step of the way because front loaders save water and their preset environmentally friendly water levels are not enough for cloth diapers. If you share laundry, using cloth adds a significant number of loads to your laundry each week and could cause conflict with neighbors.

Bottom Line: Cloth diapers are only an environmentally friendly choice if you live in an area with ample water supply. Having your own top loader is best. If you live in a water shortage or drought area, you absolutely should not use cloth diapers.


Waste Management
The other environmental factor to consider is waste management. If your garbage goes into a landfill, then cloth diapers are a great choice as they're keeping lots and lots of non-biodegradable waste out of a landfill. If your garbage is incinerated to generate electricity, then it's actually not so great to use cloth. In Zurich, they burned the garbage to generate electricity at a waste-to-energy facility. Recycling rates were high enough and waste levels were low enough that Zurich actually bought garbage from neighboring countries to keep their incinerators running! If you're looking for a happy medium, you can use biodegradable diapers. They're a bit more expensive, but they won't take hundreds of years to break down.

Bottom line: Cloth diapers are only an environmental choice if your garbage goes to a landfill. If your garbage is transferred to a waste-to-energy facility, you should not use cloth diapers.


Quantity and Dryness
When using cloth diapers, babies need to be changed far more often. Disposables pull the wetness in and away from your baby's skin, but with cloth, it's just sitting there and if you leave it, some babies will get more rashes and irritation. If you're concerned about dioxin exposure, you will find this study illuminating. More frequent changes mean more diapers, which means more laundry cycles being done, which means more detergent, hot water, running the dryer and time.

Bottom Line: If your baby has sensitive skin, cloth diapers may not be the best choice. And it's a personal weighing of factors, but depending on your electricity and water heating costs, the detergent you use and time, cloth diapers may wind up costing you more than disposables.

When we had Theo in Minnesota, there was plenty of water, our garbage went to a landfill and we had our own top loader and dryer. It would have been a good time to use cloth! But, we were so busy and I was taking Theo to work with me, so in the end we just stuck with our beloved Pampers. I subscribe to our diapers with Amazon Family and get 20% off each case. Plus, we don't have to haul them around, they just arrive on our doorstep, with our favorite wipes every month. I can't imagine ever going back to cloth, as cute as they are. Plus, there is nothing better than popping a used diaper into our diaper pail and never thinking about it (or smelling it) again!

If you're considering cloth, and passed all the qualifiers above, I'll be doing a round up of all of our favorite covers, prefolds, fitteds, fasteners, wet bags, liners, pails and detergents soon. ;) So stay tuned for that! What kind of diapers do you use? Or, if you're pregnant, what kind are you planning to use?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Have a good weekend.


Even though I rarely get as much sleep as I need (thank you, over active brain and thank you, little monsters darling children), I realized that it all works out if you just relax. Take it as it comes, don't stress and everything is fine. Even if you're tired. It's just so hard being tired. I wish I were a better napper, but I've finally admitted that being able to nod off during the course of the day is not a skill I naturally possess. Maybe I can learn napping somehow. I'll look into that and share what I find.

This weekend is photo day at Coco's ballet studio - her costume is a snowman this year, and she's gotten infinitely better at smiling for photos since last year. I've got my fingers crossed for a non-deer-in-the-headlights portrait tomorrow.

Other than that, we are just hanging out, having fires and enjoying the new snow. Oh, and Coco has a very loose tooth. It's going to fall out this weekend, for sure. I can't believe it! Bittersweet.

Here's a bit of what caught my eye around the web this week:

This song is always a good idea.

Should you care?

Three pros talk blogging as a career.

I love this nun.

Big picture vs details - which are you?

Looking forward to this book. It's next on my list.

The art of leaning back.

The Wedding Toast I'll Never Give. (The best)

I love these two together!

Vote with your dollar: consumer actions led to this and this.

I want to say thank you for all of your insightful and thoughtful comments. I read each and every one and love hearing what you have to say. As the blog gets busier, I am toying with the idea of having some time set aside each week for responding to comments so that I can continue the conversation with you. It's obviously the best part of having the blog. So, thank you for reading, and thank you for commenting, and I'll do my best to respond always. See you back here Monday! xo

(Photo via my Instafriend Andrea)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Short Film: Toyland



Today, I am subbing in a high school German class. Seeing the teacher's standard-issue European penmanship on the notes around the class and the German and Swiss flags on the walls make me miss life in Switzerland so terribly. It makes me feel nostalgic hearing German and having the students greet me with an enthusiastic Guten Morgen as they come through the door.

On the sub plans for today is the short film, Spielzeugland, or Toyland in English. Normally sub plans make for very unfulfilling teaching days, I have to say. But today, Toyland has truly gripped the students' imaginations and hearts. I didn't even have to use the discussion prompt questions left by the teacher. At the students request, we watched the film first without subtitles, and then with subtitles for further comprehension. I thought it was a good plan and the film does a lot of flashing back and time changes, so it was definitely necessary.

As soon as we'd got through the second time, it blew my mind to see the students immediately begin discussing the film and making connections to their own lives, displaying incredible empathy and compassion for the characters' and the choices they had made. There is hope for our world, people. I feel so hopeful being here with these high schoolers today.

Toyland is a beautifully made, heart-wrenching short film, but it still takes me by surprise how infinitely harder I find it to watch things like this since having children. So, just a disclaimer: If you're like me, maybe grab a tissue before you start watching. It's obviously heavy subject material being set in Germany in 1942. But, with current events and the state of the world right now, this is a film that everyone should be watching today. I hope you'll enjoy it - and more importantly, if you like it - share it. We must not let history repeat itself.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

If You Could Not Fail...


Do you ever listen to The Tim Ferriss Show? It is one of my very favorite podcasts of all time. Tim gets interesting thinkers on his show and interviews them in a way that makes them open up and talk frankly about themselves and their craft and the big questions in life. I loved the episode with Maria Popova as well as the one with Alain de Botton.

A few days ago, I was looking for something to listen to while cleaning. (I don't know if this happens to you, but I have the hardest time getting started when the house is a disaster and I don't know where to begin. For some reason, putting in my ear buds with a good podcast always makes a gargantuan mindless task easier. I'm transformed into a cleaning machine!) So I did a bit of browsing and after starting - and abandoning - three other podcasts within the first few minutes, I came across Tim's episode How to Design a Life with Debbie Millman.

I had never heard of Debbie, but the title grabbed me right away. As we get closer and closer to the end of J's program and still don't have a set plan in place for next year, I get more and more anxious. I feel like I don't know what I really want in life, but then at the same time, I do. Does that make sense? It felt like serendipity that I happened upon that particular podcast episode right then. I have been thinking about it ever since.

I absolutely encourage you to give it a listen in full, but the one main action item that comes out of it is an exercise that Debbie does with her students, and had done as a student when she studied with Milton Glaser (he designed the I heart NY logo. You're welcome.) The exercise goes like this...

What would your life be like, what would you pursue and go after - if you had absolute certainty that you would not fail?

I've seen this sentiment before on a square magnet on someone's fridge and it seemed really inspiring, but vapid. Debbie's exercise goes deeper. Rather than stopping there, she asks you to write, in prose, a long-form essay of your life TEN YEARS from now. "It's a January day in 2027," she starts, "what kind of bed do you wake up in? What kind of sheets are you sleeping in?  Where do you live? What do you do? Who do you see? From start to finish, write out your day. Write it out in extreme detail from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep at night." Once you're done, you simply put it away, although Debbie did extract a bullet list from her own, and then you pull it out and read it once a year.

She says that she gets emails and messages from students all the time who are so startled, a decade later, at how much of theirs has come to fruition. She warns that "it's spooky!" and you have to be very careful and deliberate in what you include and put into it because it will probably come true. I was utterly fascinated and dumbstruck. It's so simple, and so obvious a way to design one's own life. Why hadn't I thought of that?!

Imagining a winter's day in 2027 is a lot scarier than I expected it to be. I sat down to give it a go and was so broadsided by the thought of Coco being 15 and Theo being 12 that that was enough for one day. But that is all the more reason to sit down and write it all out in detail. If the next ten years slip away like that last ten years have, it would be easy to miss out on a lot. I heard somewhere that we're the busiest in life between 35 and 55 and I believe it. It's kind of the filet mignon of life and I want to savor every bit of it.

So while I haven't gotten to the exercise yet myself, I just had to share this with you. Download the episode and get cleaning, or go for a long walk, or let it capture your imagination on a long drive or commute. It is one of the greatest things I've listened to in a long time. It might even change your life.

(Photo via Pop Sugar)

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