Posted in audience participation, connections, know better do better, mindset, motivation, parenting, thoughtfulness

Our part in creating sustainability

I hate planned obsolescence.

I hate cheap shit.

I hate the “everything disposable” mindset.

I hate WalMart and the Dollar Store.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to pay tons of money for everything, necessarily, but we need to find a way back to well-made things that can be kept for a long time, repaired, upgraded, etc.

It’s better to pay more for a thing up front that you can keep for a long time than to pay half as much that you’re going to need four of in the same time frame.

(And in the case of handheld technology, it’s neither cheap nor long-lasting.)

In order to do this, we need to

1- Buy less stuff. Especially with average incomes as they are and cost of living expenses continuously on the rise, buying higher-quality but more expensive stuff isn’t going to work at the same volume.

2- Be OK with stuff not being the newest. This example pops into mind. When I was a kid, we had an Atari. It was awesome. And then Nintendo came out, and we wanted one of those. We didn’t get one, because we already had a gaming system. So sometimes friends came over and we played Atari, and sometimes we went to their house and played Nintendo.

3- Share. People seem to do this more out of economic necessity, but there are lots of things that we don’t all need to own our own. We bought a giant umbrella thinger when The Kid was doing track last year. A friend’s daughter was doing swim over the summer. Instead of buying an umbrella, they borrowed ours. It worked perfectly. Unless we needed it at the same time, there’s no reason for us both to own one. Less money outgoing. Less storage space. Less trash later. True for many occasional-use things.

Can we stop going to the Dollar Store and buying lots of junk because we can and it’s cheap? Can we stop buying clothes that we’ll only wear for one season? (Kids excepted, because they grow…)

It’s a big shift. But it will help us mentally (less stuff = less stress about stuff—spoken from a place of privilege), it will help us economically, it will help us environmentally. It will help built community (for sharing, and for playing each other’s games). And maybe it’ll bring work back here from overseas.

You in?

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

Singing out loud

A few years ago, I was driving, The Kid accompanying in the back seat. The weather was nice, the windows were down, and he was singing.

It didn’t matter that the windows were down. It didn’t matter we were stopped at a light and the people next to us could hear him. He was just singing.

I admired him for that and decided that I would try to not care, either.

Because really … who cares what some random stranger(s) in the car(s) next to you thinks?

(The answer is, apparently, most of us.)

Sometimes I can turn it off—the caring what people think—sometimes I can’t.

Because it doesn’t matter what they think. Whether they like my music, like my singing, like my voice. I’m not singing to please an audience when I’m driving—I’m singing because I love to sing and it makes me happy.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a birthday party, and the playlist was 80s music. I knew almost all of the songs and could sing at least the chorus if not the whole song.

And so I did.

Not if I was talking to someone, of course—that’s rude—but waiting for my turn in a dice game? Waiting for a slice of cake? Helping clean up? Why not?

And you know what? It felt pretty good just to sing along and not care. Sometimes people joined me, sometimes not.

Another piece of that? Whenever I’m out and about and see a person who is happy singing or dancing and not caring that people can see or hear them, it makes me happy, too.

Spread joy.

Good music on in the grocery store? I’m singing. (Doesn’t happen that often, but more than never, now that I’m more often the target demographic.)

Do it! What do you have to lose?

Posted in books, differences, education, mindset, parenting

Reading is reading!

The Kid is learning to read. I mean, he’s in the years-long process of learning to read.

He loves to read.

Part of that is that he reads things that are interesting to him. It doesn’t have to be books. It doesn’t have to be at his reading level. Whatever is interesting.

Sometimes, he likes to read his old picture books. (The words in those are not always easy to read, since they’re generally intended to be read out loud by a competent reader. Even when they are easy, he enjoys them.

Sometimes, he reads LEGO magazines.

Sometimes, he reads chapter books.

Right now, he’s reading a Minecraft graphic novel. I believe he’s read it in its entirety three times since acquiring it less than a week ago.

Reading is reading. It’s all practice. It’s all building skills, building habits, nurturing a love of reading.

I remember overhearing a conversation years ago between two moms. One’s son was only interested in reading comic books. She forced him to read “real books” before he was allowed to read comic books. They weren’t school-assigned; she just didn’t think comic books “counted” as reading.

There are words, sentences. There’s a story. There are characters.

It counts. It all counts.

Reading is reading.

Posted in audience participation, connections, differences, hope, know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, parenting, physical health, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Workplace wellness

Today’s post is full of broad sweeping statements. Of course they are not true for every individual in every category. But I’m not going to make a disclaimer in every paragraph because it’s unwieldy to read.

Many companies are introducing (or have already introduced) wellness incentive plans regarding various biomarkers of their employees (with questionable legality).

But stress is seemingly worse for your health than any of the markers they’re measuring.

How many employers are actively seeking to reduce their employees’ stress levels?

None? Benefit of the doubt and say a few?

This embodies so many facets of America.

1. We’re unhealthy. We eat badly; we move insufficiently; we’re overweight and underslept; we lack meaningful community; we view vulnerability—necessary for connection—as a weakness; we prioritize work over play, over rest, over family; in addition to all of the -isms that culturally define us.

2. We don’t believe in health care as a right. Which, on a tangent, is mostly sick care. (For more details on that, see point #1.) Only people who work the right jobs for the right people for the right number of hours get to have health insurance. And even then, many of those people still have to pay for it. Sometimes a lot. And pay even more for their families to be covered. Which doesn’t even cover all of what’s potentially needed.

3. Companies are not interested in their people. They are interested in money. So they do whatever they can to siphon more money to the top people. (Because, despite current mindset, companies are not actually in themselves people. They’re just run by people. So we could more accurately say that the people at the top of companies are disinterested in everyone else in the company, so long as they continue to live large.)

Whether that’s hiring fewer salaried employees and expecting them to work more (sometimes way more) than 40 hours per week, or hiring more hourly employees part time so they don’t have to pay for benefits, or paying as little as possible, or countless other possibilities, the money needs to pour up.

It’s a giant mindset problem. A cultural problem. A mental health problem. A shaming problem. A physical health problem. An economic problem.

I don’t know how to fix it.

But I do know that I can contact people in charge of stuff (whether it’s government officials or company leaders), and I can vote. (Are you registered? If not, open another browser window and go do it now! People taking it all for themselves depend on your apathy to maintain or advance their position.)

And I can do my best to be the change I want to see, live my life out loud, and hope others join me. (And they do. They always do.)

Be the change. Be self-aware, even (especially) when it sucks. Be open. Be vulnerable. But be fierce.

(Except on the days that you just need to lay on the couch. Then just lay.)

Posted in about me, gifts, parenting, storytelling

Father’s Day gifts…belated

So … it’s not anywhere close to Father’s Day.

Here’s the story:

The Kid and I went to Burst of Butterflies, a local painting place (canvas, ceramic, etc.) where he painted two small identical tiles that said #1 Dad.

We were traveling for the actual holiday and picked up the tiles after we returned. We had talked about what we were going to do with them but didn’t do it.

And didn’t do it.

And forgot about it.

A week or two ago, I was cleaning out one (of too many) piles in the office and found the tiles.

Oops.

So I mentioned it to The Kid, and we decided to continue with the plan.

What was the plan again?

I’m not sure that what we settled on is exactly what we had decided originally, but what we made turned out well.

He chose a photo of himself with each daddy; I had them printed.

Using some craft foamy stuff, hot glue, and wide popsicle sticks, we made a picture frame for each photo (photo very much not removable), then added the tile to the top left corner, as per The Kid’s requirements.

We agreed that magnets would be the best way to make them hangable—they’re very imbalanced—but I don’t have any on hand. Those will need to be added later.

Overall, they turned out well, and we’re both happy with how they look. As for the daddies? They haven’t seen them yet, but moreso than in June, they’re sure going to be surprised!

Also, on a tangent: as we were getting all of the materials out and organized, The Kid said, “You know, Mom, we could make a video about making this and post it on YouTube. And then other kids could know how to make a great Father’s Day present.”

We could. But Mama is tired. And other minor resistances.

So when I sat down to write a blog post and was completely uninspired, I asked The Kid, “What should I write about?”

“Mom! You should write about making the Father’s Day presents! It’s a good story!”

And so it came to be.

By request:

The end.