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

What is our responsibility?

People need people to thrive. Numerous studies in the last decade point to social networks as a critical variable for longevity, and for general functionality and thriving.

As both a teacher and a parent, I see articles and videos about special needs kids, and to teach your kids to be kind and to be friends with them.

Kindness is reasonable. Getting to know someone who seems different than you is reasonable. But if you get to know someone a little and really just don’t care for them, are you going to be friends with them because they’re different?

As we get older, we don’t generally spend social time with people we don’t like (unless maybe we’re related to them). It seems we don’t even spend time with people we do like! I don’t know anyone (that I know of) who is friends with someone they don’t like just to provide a friend.

It’s not limited to special needs people. We have an epidemic of loneliness and isolation right now, causing or feeding record numbers of people with depression.

Where is the balance? Whose responsibility is it to be the social network for people who don’t have one?

We, collectively, can’t even agree on helping people who need money, which is (or seems like it should be) less complicated than helping with social-emotional support.

What do you think? Whose responsibility is it to provide the village, now that villages are gone?


Posted in gifts, marriage, mindset, parenting, thoughtfulness

Mother’s Day—advice for the guys

Every year, memes get passed around that say something to the effect of, “For Mother’s Day, I want to sleep in and wake up to a clean house.”

Lots of “ha ha ha” reactions.

But you know what? Based on conversations I’ve had with women in the past couple of year, that would actually be perfect.

So guys, if that’s what she said, that’s what she meant. Do it. Give her a few hours in bed to herself (sleeping? with a book? with her tablet? Mom’s choice…) while you and the kids clean the house.

Don’t farm it out. Do it yourselves.

Then make breakfast (or brunch by then?) for her (if the kids are little, you’ve already fed them at least once), maybe in bed if she’d like that (I personally don’t like eating in bed but for many it’s A Thing) and then clean it all up.

All of it.

As we say at our house, “Use your Mama eyes.” Don’t do a half-assed job that she’s going to need to finish later. Make it better than good enough; make it good.

If she says she wants to sleep in and have the house clean, she means it. (If this isn’t on her wish list, don’t do it. Seriously. Listening isn’t that hard.)

Posted in food, mindset

Meat isn’t protein

The Climbing Daddy and I went to a Mongolian BBQ place the other night. (If you’re not familiar, you go through a buffet-type line full of potential stir-fry ingredients, and they cook it for you at the end.)

The first section on the buffet was labeled “protein.” It was different types of meat: beef, poultry, fish.

Meat isn’t protein.

Meat has protein.

Lots of other things also have protein. Definitely not to the same extent, but everything on that buffet table contained protein. Yes, vegetables have protein. Yes, noodles have protein. Yes, rice has protein.

Protein is a macronutrient, and we need it for our bodies to function properly. We also need carbohydrates and fat. (Not necessarily the kinds or quantities we prefer to eat, but that’s another story.)

Meat is usually muscles. Sometimes organs. Contains protein, water, micronutrients, fat, sometimes a bit of carbs (more in organs than in muscles).

If you’re tracking macros, then you need to know protein contents of foods. (Which still doesn’t relabel meat as protein.)

Just call it what it is.


Posted in audience participation, know better do better, mindset, tips

Produce bags make no sense

Earlier this week, The Climbing Daddy and I tried a new thing. We ordered groceries online and picked them up.

We knew there would be disposable bags (we use reusable) but the amount of unnecessary packaging convinced us that, except in rare circumstances, we’re not going to use this service again.

Set the stage:

  • 12 items
  • 2 refrigerated
  • 1 frozen
  • 1 glass bottle of sauce
  • 7 produce
  • 1 dry goods

Because I walked in to the store to pick it up (which, as it turns out, you’re not supposed to do), I saw the staging area. There are two refrigerators, one freezer, and a set of wire shelves.


When I arrived, they pulled a bag off the shelves, a bag out of the fridge, and a bag out of the freezer.

Three bags for 12 items.

The room temp and refrigerated bags were both paper, but both were double-bagged.

Five bags for 12 items.

The one frozen item—a bag of broccoli—was in its own plastic bag.

I thanked them, took my bags, and came home.

The jar of sauce was in a small paper bag inside of the larger grocery bags.

Six bags for 12 items.

Each produce item was in a plastic bag.

13 bags for 12 items.

This is why we won’t use this service again. (This is why we don’t use the prepped meal delivery services, either. So. Much. Trash.)

But let’s talk for a minute about produce bags.

There is a time when they’re useful. Buying loose green beans, for example. They need something to hold them.

Everything else—why do you use a bag?

I saw a man put a mini-watermelon in a plastic bag. Why?

For produce that you eat the whole thing, including the outsides, you’re going to wash them before you eat them, right? So it’s not a dirt or germs issue. (And seriously, those things have been in dirtier places than your shopping cart and have been handled by who know how many people.)

For produce that you don’t eat the outsides, some people still wash them, but most don’t care about dirt or germs on the skins, so why do you need a bag?

(There’s legitimacy in washing produce that you cut but don’t eat the exterior—like melons or avocado—something I learned when I was immunocompromised.)

Please. Stop using produce bags.

Plastic is an enormous environmental problem. It doesn’t break down. For a short while, we thought that some of it in the ocean was breaking down, but it just broke into small enough pieces that more aquatic life could eat it.

Some areas of life, plastic is difficult or impossible to get rid of. This isn’t one. Just put your produce in the cart without a bag. Even if it’s wet from the “storm.” Just put it in there. Stack the wet stuff together. You can do it.

Acquire reusable bags. While you’re at it, choose bags that are made from natural fibers. Because a reusable plastic bag is better than a single-use plastic bag, but it’s still plastic. Pick up a few smaller drawstring bags for your produce, if you can’t put 5 apples in your cart individually.

Keep them in your car.

“But I always forget them in the car!”

This used to be me until I made a rule for myself that I was not bringing disposable bags—paper or plastic—out of the store. If I forgot my reusable ones, I had to go back out and get them.

It took twice. Leave the cart in the store. Go out to car to fetch bags. Return to store and finish shopping. Pain in the ass. Learn quickly. Especially in bad weather.

Once you get in this habit, you’ll start bringing your bags shopping in places that aren’t the grocery store.

Create the habit, and report back for a pat on the back.


Posted in differences, know better do better, mindset, parenting, vulnerability

I used to write anti-abortion poetry

People change.

In fact, people should be (and in some cases, are) encouraged to change.

When you know better, do better. (That’s change.)

So I’m conflicted about judging politicians, for example, by stances they held 20 or 30 years ago. (This is also perhaps an indicator that we shouldn’t have career politicians, but that’s another argument for another day.)

In some cases, they’ve changed. Perhaps, like me, they were on the wrong side of history then, but they learned and changed.

In some cases, they haven’t changed a bit. But the fact that they were racist/misogynistic/homophobic 20 years ago still isn’t relevant, necessarily. Just that that’s how they are now.

(Of course, in some cases, they’re the same but pretend not to be.)

Outside of politics, part of the reason that families can become problematic is because so often they remember you from back in the day and refuse to let that person go. And sometimes argue with you about the validity of the new pieces. Especially if they feel threatened by the change, and/or the family culture is one of put-downs.

Longstanding friends can be like this, too.

In either case, we can see and honor change, or we can see and resist change. (Denial is included in resistance.) The fear of rejection of the “new you” is a big reason people keep quiet and don’t display their improved selves.

Embrace positive change.

(Two problems there: “positive” is subjective and change is hard.)

Let everyone around you have space to do better when they know better.

And when you do it? Own it. Your confidence is contagious and it bleeds confidence onto others, even if the people closest resist.