Monday, February 27, 2017

the intern

a month or two ago, i saw a fabulous movie:  "the intern" starring robert de niro and anne hathaway. de niro plays a widower responding to an add for senior interns at the new york fashion company managed by hathaway.  i can't recommend this movie highly enough for the character development and mutually beneficial relationship that is set into motion.

when people or magazines talk about retirement, the focus is usually financial (as it should be because without money you can't eat or do the things you need and want to do!) but the movie started me thinking of all the other important aspects to consider in an effort to round out the retirement picture.  note that my entry is based both on observation of others (one of my primary ways of learning) and a personal desire of how i want to set my trajectory between the ages of 20-60 and beyond...this is a letter to my 43 year-old self:

emotions:  take stock of patterns, both your strengths and mistakes.  you are responsible for your own happiness.  accept the invitation to leave childish ways behind in order to grow up into your best self.  make personal growth and awareness a normal part of your life and surround yourself with people that are healthy for you and whom you wish to be like as you age.  have a diverse range of guides (professional and personal, people and books) to help normalize and support you amid the inevitable conflicts, life stages, and curve-balls that come with living so you have a wide range of tools in your emotional intelligence toolbox.  making it a point to know and understand yourself first reduces the need to blame and increases freedom and joy.  every situation can be an opportunity for transformation, empathy, and compassion.  people are drawn to intentional growth mindset like light.

social:  aging being what it is, it might be a good idea to develop friends of all ages.  while comforting to go through life with our peers, it can be depressing and not good for our mental health when everyone we know seems to be declining in health at the same time.  mix it up!  we can all learn from each other in community and can help with everything from weddings and care home visits to memorial services and graduation parties.  hanging out with young people--and those young at heart--at any age is contagious.

spirituality:  spiritual stages are invitations to take stock of your journey so far and find out who God is in it.  this will be constantly in flux as you grow and try to understand the world and your place in it.  just like with emotions, having a good coach or people you can discuss doubts and dynamics of faith in a fallen world with can really help you go the distance.  creating a mutual support system enables you to be an encourager as well as having a built-in network for receiving when you need it most.

work:  retire a little each year if possible.  if you can, start cutting back some things a little at the same time as dialing others up.  decide how much you need to live on--both you and your work place will benefit from a better you.  work to your strengths and ask for help with things that just aren't a natural fit.  by the same token, make sure to keep yourself from the downside of wisdom and experience:  coasting.  the goal is always to stay in the sweet spot of having just enough challenge to be energized and on the learning and growth curve.  stick to your strengths AND try new things.  this is a great season to try different roles in the same arenas in an effort to go the distance.

stuff:  this is also a great time in life to inventory your possessions while you still can.  how much is enough/too much?  are your priorities in things, travel, new experiences?  is it beautiful?  useful?  how can you be like the people in your heritage in terms of character traits and pass those stories on while traveling light in the process?  generosity of spirit and material resources both matter.  what is the right mix for you?

health:  in a word, prevention. DNA aside, find out what you can control and focus on that. something is going to get us, but there's alot we can do to stay healthy and well at every stage.  know your family history and know your numbers:  blood pressure, sugar, weight, cholesterol.  start assembling a team:  doctor, dentist, masseuse, naturopath, counselor/coach, fitness trainer. and focus on overall wellness; nourishment, not diets.  go natural whenever possible and be willing to pay the grocer more for the organic products and supplements you enjoy or that you deem a part of your personal wellness cart.  keep moving!  stretching, balance, and flexibility to help resist breakage from falls and as much laughter as possible.  a cheerful heart is the best medicine.

and, finally, community:  start volunteering now.  "what would you do with a spare day?"  make a list of your favorite non-profits or places that you frequent as a customer or client.  find out what the possibilities are between their needs and your offerings.  pay attention to what brings you and others the most joy and do more of that.  it is likely a good fit. experiment and try everything from libraries and hospitals to government agencies or environmental groups until you find your place of service.  you'll know it when you do and so will they.

the best part about life is we never arrive.  i always plan to keep to some routine and i never plan to "retire" in so much as to continue to seize life with gusto in many different ways as the years increase. i want to be life's perpetual intern...

Saturday, February 18, 2017


it is no small thing
to have an animal
meet your gaze
and stay

jersey calves
and newborn fawns
today it was a northern flicker
and its mate

all fire-winged and white
flitting tree to limb
to herald spring
by feather-flight

ls 2.18.17

pay it forward

not long ago, i happened to run into my 6th grade teacher.  after more than 30 years, he remembered me as his "voracious reader and writer".  i assured him i had stayed the same in that regard and that i was also a teacher now.  the best part was being able to look him, now retired, in the eye at his favorite daily bakery and say, "thank you for teaching me."

i also had a chance to offer gratitude to my 4th grade teacher recently.  my friend tracie and i were in her class 32 years ago...not only is mrs. s still teaching but now has tracie's daughters (one of whom is my god-daughter) as students.  we are in the process of nominating her for the onpoint teacher's award.

know a deserving teacher? learn more about the prize at: OnPoint Education Prize

another free way of paying it forward?  donating blood. it takes only about an hour of your time and the red cross is in very short supply right now.  they have stepped up the efficiency of their online scheduling process, making this an easy way of saving lives, especially if you have one of the rarer blood types. plus, there's cookies: American Red Cross

love to beach walk?  oregon beaches are unparalleled for wild stretches of open sand.  i don't want to take this for granted.  a scheduled cleanup is a great way to give back in community as is simply taking a small trash bag along on your next amble.  either way, it helps ensure coastal beauty for generations to come:  Oregon Beach Cleanup

what are some of your recommendations for saying thank you by paying it forward?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

happy heart day

since starting the practice three years ago of writing down one thing that i loved about the day, i can now see patterns emerging...this time every year, for example, i notice the first yellow crocus that blooms and it makes it into my journal. the sunrises and sunsets are tinged with pink.  the days get longer.  i can ride my bike to work again.  we get new baby chicks at wilco!  the list goes on and on...

...these are things that makes my heart happy.

kids make my heart happy, so i thought it was fun that valentine's fell on a school day this year.  i feel fortunate to spend such a day in the company of small children who are so free with their notes of love.  plus, they're funny.


"this is the best activity since sliced cheese!"  said a third grader.  "you mean sliced bread?" i queried. "no, i mean sliced cheese. it's more our generation." 

looking over the shoulder of a first grader writing, "happy valentine's day to my favorite ANT."

after giving rules of what is not going to happen in class (in favor of what is).  "any questions?  yes..."  "no, no questions, i just wanted to thank you for planting the seed in my mind."

gotta love them.

what makes your heart happy? 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

the 40.10.50 guideline

here's a little neuroscience for your day; a bit of practical metacognition, if you will...did you know that your brain is made up of 80% water?  that being so, before you sign up for expensive intervention, simply try drinking a tall glass of water.

also, this principle fascinated me.  i've always wondered why the same circumstance, happening to two different people, could have such a vastly different outcome.  this may have a lot to do with it.  scientists have discovered that about 40% of our personality is encoded in our DNA, that is we're born with this much of our natural outlook on life.

only 10% of our mental health, however, is based on actual circumstance.  this is extremely small in proportion to what comes next...because the rest is literally up to us!  that's right, 50% of our happiness quotient comes from how we think about and talk to ourselves about our circumstances.

this is why, of two different folks who win the lottery, for example; one will joyfully start to think about how they want to spend it to make the world a better place while the other person will stay awake worrying about taxes and thieves.

this 50% works in everything large and small.  coming down with a slight cold?  what a great opportunity to rest or maybe catch up on writing encouraging post cards to people.  stuck in traffic?  look around at the scenery, say a nice blessing over the person in front of you or sing along to your favorite song.

it's important to note this is not a numbing technique or excuse for not facing life or being in touch with reality.  it is exactly this way of processing that goes through--not around--the adverse circumstance and literally takes the energy from it to propel ourselves toward gratitude.  it is not without effort, but the payoffs for this intentional move when repeated and prolonged literally serve to rewire our neuron pathways.

the places you use get bigger, stronger, why not choose to use your 50% to boost your brain and the world around you? 


spuntino is a restaurant in new york, and a cookbook on italian-style comfort food by russell norman. it's a truly beautiful cookbook featuring a view of the brooklyn bridge on the front, a hand-woven looking spine, and photo essay/maps by area inside. 

i saw, for example, the bedford cheese shop and mast brothers chocolatiers featured--two of the places i visited when in new york!

my second book is not as beautiful, but highly informative.  for $7 used from powell's, i am teaching myself a course in knife skills.  not the self-protection kind, but the cooking kind.  i'm already on chapter four and am taking the quizzes.  now it's time for the practicum.  i now know all of the types and parts of quality chef's knives as well as the difference between forging and stamping, iron vs. steel, and honing vs. sharpening.

sure, i know how to get things into smaller pieces when needed, but i'm really excited to learn the cuts, everything from paysanne and rondelle to chiffonade and julienne.  thank you, american culinary federation foundation! i'll keep you posted; hopefully with all ten fingers uncompromised...