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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

About Stories

From a wonderful book called The Story is True: The Art and Meaning of Telling Stories, by Bruce Jackson. It says so elegantly what we've said before in Sharing Family Stories and other posts.

"In time, how we tell our story depends not so much on what happened then, but on what we know of the world now. And that is why the story of that time told at this moment means at least as much, and perhaps more, about this world now than that time then. And that is why these stories we tell again and again remain forever new."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Turning Blue

I recently shared this story over dinner at a restaurant with Lisa's family, and my daughter's delight at my absurdity and my fear was very gratifying! As we have said on this blog many times, sharing stories of our own mistakes and comic misunderstandings normalizes mistakes for our kids. We all make them. Nobody's perfect. And hopefully we can laugh about them afterwards.

So, one cold winter day a few years back I had been reading in a cozy chair, rubbing my hands together to keep warm, sometimes rubbing them between my knees or hugging myself against the chill. I wondered at one point if I should turn the heat up, as I noticed my normally pale skin was looking slightly blue. I hugged a blanket around my shoulders and continued reading. As the sun shifted and came through the window onto my lap, I noticed my hands really looked blue. Definitely blue. I rubbed them together again, thinking I should take a walk and get my blood circulating. I made a cup of tea to warm myself, and tried to quell the tiny voice in my head that was saying, "That does not look normal."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Do you have the moral qualities of a toddler?

Here's a fascinating piece from BigThink.com about the moral intelligence of toddlers. This is more evidence that we are hard-wired to care.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Courage to Survive

This video of concentration camp survivor, Alie Herz-Sommer, is a marvelous example of human courage!   She is interviewed by Anthony Robbins on the eve of her 108th birthday. 

We particularly noted:
1. the role that parent-child attachment played in her ability to withstand this ordeal,
2. her attitude of gratitude ("everything is a present"),
3. her life-saving optimism.

All things we can teach and model for our children, or that they teach us, that help develop our courage and resilience in life! Enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012


One of the members of our church choir is a dedicated peace activist who has been arrested more than once for her protest work; from time to time she reports on the status of charges against her. When my daughter first understood that this woman had been put in jail because of her beliefs, she was intrigued. This led to a discussion about democracy and civil disobedience, and to the stories of the Civil Rights Movement. The stories about Rosa Parks and Dr. King have become part of American mythology, and I was proud to tell her some of those stories.

I quickly found myself in rather deep water, however, since explaining the background of the struggle required discussing racism and its destructive manifestation in our history of African slavery. Imagine the squirming I suffered inside as I (a white woman) explained to my newly-adopted Ethiopian daughter how white people went to Africa to steal black people and bring them here against their will, their heritage stripped from them. The growing look of baffled alarm on my daughter’s face finally resolved itself into a gut punch of a question. “Am I your slave?”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Courage Quote of the Day

To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.
~ Soren Kierkegaard

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Courage Quote of the Day

Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.

~Brendan Francis

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Courage Quote of the Day

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.
~ Thomas Edison


Sunday, January 1, 2012

What Would You Do if You Weren’t Afraid?

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.  To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable."
~Helen Keller

It’s New Year’s Day and I’m taking a different approach to planning my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions.  I’ve tried and failed many times in some of my previous vain attempts at perfectionism disguised as self-improvement.  In fact, when reading Gretchen Rubin’s bestseller, The Happiness Project, the only commandment for happiness (submitted by one of her readers) that resonated with me long after finishing the book was: “I am already enough.”  These days I prefer books that open my mind to possibility, rather than filling it with worry about all the ways I am not YET enough.  I'm trying to adopt a more relaxed, hands-in-the-air-less-white-knuckle-approach to riding this roller coaster called life.  I like books that are more bucket list than to-do list.  Though goal-setting is important and empowering, mining our dreams often requires getting fear out of the way first.  Diane Conway’s book What Would You Do if You Had No Fear?:  Living Your Dreams While Quakin’ in Your Boots, for example, is filled with stories of folks who mustered the courage to conquer their fears and follow their dreams.