Posted in connections, mental health, mindset, parenting, thoughtfulness

Don’t be that uncle

I have a student who has been playing an instrument for a week.

He came to class completely disheartened and said, “My uncle said I’m never going to be able to play this.”

Don’t be that uncle.

Of course the kid is struggling and sounds terrible right now. He’s been playing for a week. Instruments are hard.

Build them up instead of putting them down.

(And deal with whatever baggage you’re carrying that makes putting down your automatic response.)

Posted in cancer, connections, ebb & flow, thoughtfulness

Thinking of you

When someone dies, those close to the deceased have an onslaught of well-wishers.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer or another critical health issue, they have a similar herd of well-wishers.

When someone has another unfortunate life event, they have immediate help and concern.

The thing is … the support dies off well before needed (and is often overwhelming in bulk).

If you know someone who is three or four or nine months or a year or two years into something that you would have sent flowers for at the onset, send flowers again. Or initiate a visit or phone call (depending on proximity). Or send a card. Or a care package.

You’re not going to “remind” them that they suffered a loss or are sludging through an unfortunate chapter in their life. They didn’t forget. It just seems that everyone else did.

Go. Reach out. Make someone’s day.

Posted in differences, hope, know better do better, mindset

Breaking barriers

I get an email every weekday morning from “the universe.” Some of them say just the right thing on just the right day. Some … meh.

Today’s tied in to a post that I had a skeleton for already and decided to use the inspiration to fill it in.

“Performing miracles, Heat, isn’t a matter of doing the impossible, it’s a matter of redefining the possible.”

Running a mile in four minutes is an easy example. It was impossible, but once it was done, it was replicated hundreds of times. It’s not easy (and man, that’s fast!), but over 1400 men have done it so far. They just needed permission.

Another that comes to mind for me is climbing the Dawn Wall. In the last year, I saw the movie by the same name (on Netflix—watch it!) and read Tommy Caldwell’s book (The Push) about it. It’s a 3000-foot rock face in Yosemite, a place renowned for climbing. This particular bit of rock had never been free climbed and was considered unclimbable.

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson free climbed it in 19 days (after years of working on it). Not long after, it was climbed in eight days. It went from unclimbable to climbed to climbed in less than half the time in under a year.

Of course, this has application all over life, not just in elite athletics.

Women, people of color, queers are breaking barriers all over the place, which on one hand, is excellent! It’s about time!

On the other hand, it’s not cool or neat or fun that there are so many firsts for women, people of color, non-Christians, queer people. Because it’s 20 freaking 19.

But it does ask the question: what are we “not able” to do just because it hasn’t been done yet?

Posted in books, meandering, podcasts

Magnetism in enthusiasm

There is something delightful about people who get jazzed about a topic, even if the topic is weird (by my standards) or not something I’m necessarily interested in.

I have read most of Malcolm Gladwell’s books and have enjoyed them thoroughly. Some of the pieces within them are about topics that I wouldn’t necessarily choose to read about. But they were in the book. So I read them. And they were interesting!

He has a podcast called Revisionist History. Some of them I enjoyed because the content was up my alley. But then he turned to talking about music history which, oddly, I wasn’t super-interested in.

And yet, I was captivated.

He was so immersed in what he was talking about and so excited to share it that it was interesting to listen to.

Six-ish months ago, I bought a one-year subscription to MasterClass. Not entirely understanding what I’d purchased, I was delighted to learn that I had access to all of the classes, not just the one I thought I had bought.

I’m taking in all of the classes about either writing or photography. (The Kid has enjoyed some episodes of Penn and Teller and others about space travel.)

In the time I’ve been a member, new classes have been added, including one by Malcolm Gladwell.

It’s about writing, so I was going to watch it regardless, but by this point, I’d become a fan enough that I would have watched at least some of it anyway.

And it doesn’t disappoint.

Listening to the podcast adds voice, inflection, etc. that the consumer doesn’t get in writing.

Watching the MasterClass adds gestures and facial expressions.

If nothing else, he is excited about his work and the stories he tells.

I have no connection to him though I’d love to share a meal or afternoon tea, I get no kickbacks for books, podcast listeners, or MasterClass subscribers (though I think I can maybe give you a referral link to MasterClass and get a discount on a renewal). I am just delighted that his work has crossed my path at this point in time when I appreciate them.

Have you been in a space where you’ve been captivated by someone’s enthusiasm about something that you otherwise might not be interested in?

Posted in differences, mindset, parenting

Kids, birthdays, parties, gifts

Most parents I know lament the amount of stuff their kids have. (Some lament their own as well.)

Most parents I know specifically say that there’s no need to bring a gift to their kid’s birthday party. (This is extra nice when we don’t really know the birthday kid very well and aren’t sure what would be good. And if “they’re really into dinosaurs” (or whatever), it’s still hard to know what won’t duplicate something they already have.)

When the kids were younger, they didn’t typically open gifts at the party.

In addition to all of the drama avoided, gifts opened at home later means that all of the potential negative reactions to having given a card are publicly avoided.

It’s a little trickier now. Gifts are more often opened at the party.

So what to do?

If clutterstuff is a problem and it’s genuinely OK just to bring a card, then it seems that would be the way to go.

In theory, I’d like to have a get-together with The Kid and the birthday kid at a later date, treat them to that as their gift (if there’s an entrance fee, or if they get food). No clutter, no guessing what they like, still something gifted, time spent together. But I’ve found that much of the time, the get-together never happens.

I saw a suggestion for a “fiver party,” where each child brings $5 in a card to go towards a larger thing that the birthday boy wants to buy. It’s billed as being inexpensive and convenient for parents, since $5 is easier and typically cheaper than buying a gift.

But that feels funny. Not entirely sure why.

I saw a post yesterday with a suggestion for a wedding gift: a wallet with gift cards for places to go on dates. Good for applications beyond weddings, really, especially if you want to go a group gift for someone(s) and know places they like to go/eat/shop.

Which got me to thinking that maybe setting up playdates intentionally as a gift might work. (The connection was the collection of future outings as a gift.)

I’m still in the “thinking out loud” phase of this idea. For ease of pronouns, I’m going to create an example for The Kid’s birthday.

We invite who he wants to invite and suggest that in lieu of physical gifts, we’re creating a playdate series. We (both kids’ parents, with kid input) schedule a date and a location, and go from there. They could be to anywhere locally—parks, museums, other activities—and then he gets 1-on-1 time built in with his friends. And maybe tries out a new thing or goes to a new place.

There are logistics in there that I haven’t worked out.

Maybe have a coupon or something in each card, saying where the playdate will be.(Not sure kids care about the date.) But if it’s scheduled, it’s more likely to happen. Or let them pick a where and we can schedule the when at the party.

I do like the idea of one gift from everyone. I don’t know why I feel like that is less comfortable to set up than the thing I was just thinking about.

What do you think?