16 December 2013

taste


I came across this quote a few weeks ago that really resonated with me, and I hope you find it inspiring, too.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” 

― Ira Glass

13 December 2013

move

This old video is still my favorite travel video because of the connected humanity, the zest for life, and enough time to see the different places, but I just came across this one, and it is truly an editing feat.  Enjoy.



12 December 2013

biking in vegas

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The internet never ceases to amaze me.  Even as an occasional blogger, I've connected with lovely people and groups I wouldn't have met otherwise and feel very lucky to still be a part of this nebulous but huge, growing and very active community.

One recent connection is with Bridget, who has discovered joy in biking around Las Vegas.  Not what one usually associates with the glittering, play-all-night, what-happens-there-stays-there city.  But it turns out she isn't the only one.  This New York Times article also talks about his experience on one of these newer trails.

And here's Bridget, my first guest blogger.  Welcome, Bridget!  Thanks for finding me. :-)

Biking in Las Vegas has never been better!
There were times when I used to spend so long at the gym that I would be there until 9 at night.  This was after working the entire day and getting off at 5.  I hated how there were so many people in the gym, sweating and cramped together.  It always reminded me of an animal running around in a cage.  However, I did not realize that there was another way to exercise.  Other people felt that riding a bike outside, going for a run, or exercising without a gym was great, but I felt this was not a good idea due to pollution being an issue outside.  It was not until I moved to a new place that I discovered the workout regimen a person has would vary depending on what city they live in.  This is why moving to Las Vegas was a revelation for me.  I realized that instead of it making me an indoor person when working out, the opposite happened.
Las Vegas at first was intimidating to me in the terms of working out.  Where in the world was I going to go in order to exercise there?  Not only was it incredibly hot outside, there was also a large amount of people walking around outside, both drunk and sober. Sin City did not seem like the best place for a workout regimen.  However, I realize now that Las Vegas does in fact have great places to work out!  They are outside in some of the most natural settings that you will be able to find.

05 December 2013

farewell to a great man

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Rest in peace, Mr. Nelson Mandela.  You were truly an inspiration.

I was so moved when I read his autobiography (Long Walk to Freedom) in college that I wrote him a letter.  Although I never received a letter from him personally, I did get a nice letter from his office. :-)

03 December 2013

tips for buying flights

Here is a list of tips I found useful.  Did you know Wednesday was the cheapest day to fly?  Or that you should buy tickets individually even if you're traveling with others?  I didn't.  So, hope this helps.

Cheapest Days to Fly and Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets

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Shopping for air travel can be both confusing and frustrating — airline ticket prices change frequently (with seemingly no particular rhyme or reason).
Let’s face it — your time is too valuable to be laboring over a computer screen for hours searching for a great deal — our company mission is to take the mystery out of shopping for cheap flights, so let’s get started.
We have boiled down hundreds of our tips from a decade of airfare research specifically to educate fliers on how to make the best ticket purchasing decisions for each and every trip (checkout the video and the air travel insider tips below):

Cheapest Day to Fly – Wednesday

We did an in-depth study of our proprietary historical airfare database (world’s largest) and pinpointed the cheapest day to fly is Wednesday for domestic travel (gory details at the link).
Wednesday is one of the three cheapest days, the others are Tuesday and Saturday (Friday and Sunday the most expensive days to travel). The cheapest day to travel internationally are a bit different — we are working on this research and it should be up shortly.
The cheapest time to fly is typically the first flight out in the morning – yes, that means you have to get up at 4am. Next best times are flights during/after lunch and flights at the dinner hour (of course the absolute cheapest time to fly is on those limited routes with red eyes).

Best Time to Buy Airline Tickets – Tuesday 3pm Eastern

Another of our studies shows that the best time to buy airline tickets and shop for travel (domestically) is Tuesday at 3pm Eastern – yes shopping on Tuesday is the the best time to buy airline tickets, but be careful as most of these discounted airfare are pulled on Thursdays, so you're probably paying too much if buying on the weekends.

13 November 2013

how to organize your life

This is exactly what I was looking for, and I can't wait to try it.  If you're also feeling overwhelmed by your To Do list, maybe you'll find it useful, too.

Paul A. Klipp, agile and lean software development specialist

I have now spoken at two conferences about my time management solution, which is not original, but rather a collection of best practices from several approaches to personal productivity. The presentations were very well-received and I was often urged to document the approach, and so I will attempt to do so here.

From David Allen's Getting Things Done I learned that my brain is for processing, not storage. Most of the stress in my life, perhaps all of it, used to come from the nagging fear that there was something more important that I ought to be doing. From Tony Buzzan I learned that the best way to empty my brain on paper is a mind map. From Steven Covey I learned that I have many roles in life, and the most important are the easiest to forget when budgeting time. From Nick Cernis, the author of Todoodlist, I learned that visualizing my life can be fun. From David Anderson I learned to visualize my workflow and limit my work in process for faster task throughput times. Finally, from Francesco Cirillo, the creator of the Pomodoro technique, I learned to break myself of multi-tasking and the power of focus.

05 November 2013

hyperbole and a half


My book group was considering this book, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, so I went to look at her blog, and I am in love.  Hilarious, self-deprecating and insightful.  Go here for the danger of a dinosaur costume, and enjoy!

04 November 2013

what a seventeen-month-old baby already sees

I took my seventeen-month-old baby to the playground this morning, and she stopped in her tracks on the landing right before going down the slide to stare at a teenage boy, maybe sixteen or seventeen years old, who was rummaging through a trash can for something to eat.  I don't know what made her stop and stare, but at the end of it, she decided she was scared.  She didn't go to her usual winding tube slide and slid down the straight, open slide right into my arms instead.  What did she already detect at such a young age?  It makes me sad, and I hope that boy's future looks up.

On the other side of the tire swing was a man who had just come from surfing in the waves below and was changing into fancy work clothes behind his shiny Volvo.  When he emerged in his shiny shoes, I said, "Presto change-O" and wished him a nice day.  You'd never guess he was the surfer who had walked up the path just moments before.

What different lives.

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30 October 2013

happiness by the numbers

Happify found me through this blog and asked me to be one of their beta users, and after trying it for a few months, I would definitely say it's worth trying.

They look at the science of happiness and offer exercises to check and improve your own levels of happiness.  You can choose a track to follow-- so you can work on whatever is important to you, whether it's fitness, family or career success, for example-- and change any time you want.

As a relatively happy person, I took a break from it after I finished one of their exercise series, thinking I didn't need it to be happy-- but when October became really stressful, I went back to happify and got myself back on track again.  It's a great tool to have in your arsenal that you might not need every day-- like meditation for some people-- and is a good reminder that we are in charge of our own happiness.

Here's an example of one of the articles you can read on their site (below).


Happiness by the Numbers: 8 Stats That Could Change Your Life

BY 

JESSICA CASSITY

What do the happiest people have in common? They have a handle on at least of few of these eight instant happiness boosters, some of which may already be elevating your mood.
6 or 7: The hours per day of socializing that leads to the highest levels of happiness
People who regularly spend about a quarter of their hours each day with family and friends are 12 times as likely to report feeling joyful rather than feeling stressed or anxious. The same Gallup poll found that people are happiest on weekends (no surprise there!), likely due in part to the amount of time spent with loved ones on these days.

08 October 2013

46 ways to increase your happiness

I have been feeling pretty stressed lately (anyone else find October to be a stressful month?), and I found this article to be a great reminder.  I hope you're enjoying your October so far and that this can help increase your happiness, too.  (And maybe give you incentive to have more sex.)


Be Happy: 46 Proven Techniques to Increase Your Happiness and One Way to Get More Sex

By Brad Aronson   |   Posted in: Life Advice
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to be happier. Almost everyone loves being happy (and sometimes we desperately need to be happier), so why not see if we can find more of a good thing.
After a lot of research and testing, here are 46 ways I found to be happier.
By the way, most of these ideas are supported by science.
If you still need a reason to read this article, point #29 will help you get more sex.

    Personal Development

  1. See setbacks and obstacles as growth opportunities

    Jack Andraka was rejected by 199 research institutions before he found a home for his research and developed a breakthrough diagnostic cancer test (at age 15). Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school. It’s ok to fail and have challenges. Your failures are your best opportunities to learn. Hopefully, you can see them that way.
  2. Let yourself be a novice

    No one begins as an expert. And, if you think about it, experts built the Titanic. A couple of students who didn’t know what they were doing built Google. Who would you rather be?
  3. Don’t sweat the small stuff

    Before you get upset, ask yourself, “Will this matter tomorrow, next week or in a year?” If you get upset at someone who cut the line or a customer service representative or anyone else, you’re not hurting him. You’re only affecting your own happiness.
  4. Don’t be a maximizer

    You can spend all day surfing the Internet to find the absolute best price on a new TV. Unless that is significant money for you don’t worry. Your gift doesn’t have to be perfect; it has to be thoughtful. Your house can be clean, but it doesn’t have to be immaculate.
    Very good is good enough.
    This saves time, which none of us have enough of, and it reduces stress.

22 August 2013

the opt-out generation

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The original "Opt Out Revolution" article appeared in the New York Times on October 26, 2003, and it described well-educated, high-powered women who decided to leave the fast track to focus on raising their children at home instead.  The media had a field day with it, trying to figure out whether they were wasting years of the feminist struggle for equality in the workplace or if it, as they claimed, was a new, more balanced version of feminism.

Fast forward ten years, and it sounds like "The Opt Out Generation Wants Back In" (New York Times, August 7th).  They were confident as they walked out in their suits and heels as lawyers with prestigious firms and so on, optimistic that it would be a temporary break from their upward trajectory, but for most women, it has been more challenging than they predicted to reenter the workforce after a hiatus.

It's interesting to consider this when you have a new little one (or one on the way): how will you structure your family?  Who will take care of the child(ren)?  Who will pay the bills?  How will you also make sure your romantic/adult relationships thrive?

It's interesting to note that while it was more of a struggle to find work after time away, it sounded like none of the women regretted their decision.  Further, while some tried to return to their former fields (and usually took lower-level positions and lower pay), most of the women ended up going into more "nurturing" fields, such as education or the nonprofit sector-- and they were happier and felt more balanced.

I thought these articles were a nice reminder to not get too caught up in the rat race, to slow down and look clearly at the price we pay for success, and then to choose our forward movement with our values and priorities in mind-- but to also not be too idealistic and realize that when we choose what's important, other things will likely fall by the wayside.

And I guess that is the key.  We have such limited time in our quickly passing days, months and years, we have one shot at getting our children's childhoods right (no pressure), so we have to make sure we're actively choosing what we do with our time (and actively choosing what falls by the wayside).  We can define our own version of success and happiness and make that life a reality.

18 July 2013

12 June 2013

drowning doesn't look like drowning

I just came across this article on Slate and thought it was really informative.  As summer approaches, let's hope being informed keeps us and our little loved ones safe.

A lifeguard keeps watch on opening day of the newly renovated McCarren Park Pool on June 28, 2012, in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine; what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not 10 feet away, their 9-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”
How did this captain know—from 50 feet away—what the father couldn’t recognize from just 10? Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew know what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life.

31 May 2013

my new challenge as a human being

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"Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving you happier."

     - Mother Teresa

15 May 2013

russians doing good deeds


In case you needed a visual reminder that people are good, this is a nice one.  I guess there had been a lot of insurance fraud, so Russian cars are required to have dashboard cameras.  What people have been catching instead are lots of small, anonymous acts of kindness.

The translation of the title: Do something good.

Enjoy!


02 April 2013

lessons learned from fighting little girls

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I had the pleasure of meeting up with Tricia, an old friend from ninth grade, and her partner, John, and they told me the best story I'd heard in a while.

Two little girls were fighting-- all-out yelling at each other.

Then, one of the girls said, "My daddy has a mustache."

The other responded, "Want to go jump on the couch?"

And the fight was over.

We should all remember this when fights get ridiculous and go jump on a couch instead.

Tricia also directed me to this video that embodies an amazing attitude about life.  Enjoy!


27 February 2013

9 months


Nine months for my inside baby to grow from the size of a sesame seed to the size of a watermelon, and now, nine months of my outside baby growing from fitting on papa's forearm to being almost half as long as I am.  I am still amazed at how quickly they grow, how quickly they change, and how quickly the months fly by.

Blink, and you miss things.

I now understand why parents always think their kids are smart.  When they first come into the world, babies are completely useless.  They can't even hold their heads up.  So, in contrast, when they learn to roll over or babble, you think your little one is a genius.  It's even a developmental milestone when they look for something they dropped.  Way to go!

22 February 2013

when to buy organic

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I've been told I should get organic food for my baby.  I haven't really been vigilant about it.  But here's a list of when it's recommended and when we can get by without, from the Environmental Working Group:

Dirty Dozen (buy organic)

apples
celery
strawberries
peaches
spinach
nectarines - imported
grapes - imported
sweet bell peppers
potatoes
blueberries - domestic
lettuce
kale/collard greens

Clean 15 (lowest in pesticides)

onions
sweet corn
pineapples
avocado
asparagus
sweet peas
mangoes
eggplant
cantaloupe - domestic
kiwi
cabbage
watermelon
sweet potatoes
grapefruit
mushrooms

Hope that helps.

15 February 2013

read to live more


"In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read...  It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish."

- S. A. Hayakawa

10 February 2013

relaxing to boost productivity

Moorea, French Polynesia

Happy year of the snake!  Today is Chinese New Year, and it's supposed to symbolize your year ahead.  So, I intentionally spent all day with my husband and baby girl today, and it was wonderful.  I hope my year ahead is filled with more family days like this.

Also, in my current mission of creating more of a work-life balance, I really appreciated this article that my writing buddy sent me from the New York Times.  I hope you find it useful, too.

Relax!  You'll Be More Productive
By Tony Schwartz


THINK for a moment about your typical workday. Do you wake up tired? Check your e-mail before you get out of bed? Skip breakfast or grab something on the run that’s not particularly nutritious? Rarely get away from your desk for lunch? Run from meeting to meeting with no time in between? Find it nearly impossible to keep up with the volume of e-mail you receive? Leave work later than you’d like, and still feel compelled to check e-mail in the evenings?

15 January 2013

distraction from distraction by distraction

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T.S. Eliot talks about "distraction from distraction by distraction" in Burnt Norton, and boy, does that seem appropriate for our modern world.

Edinburgh philosopher John Llewelyn says this "denotes a way of life lived utterly unseriously, in which one allows oneself to be driven hither and thither by one whim after another without rhyme or reason."

10 January 2013

happy 2013

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Happy new year.  I hope your 2013 is off to a fabulous start.

It seems the theme for this year is "I don't believe in New Year's resolutions."  Not because people don't want to constantly better themselves but because they don't want to be limited to only doing so on New Year's.  Fair enough.