One benefit of having to walk a dog twice a day is that you get through a lot of audiobooks. I finished listening to Charles Duhigg’s Better Stronger Faster this week and really enjoyed it. It’s one of those Gladwell-esque pop-science books that gives you a 10,000 foot view of a subject mostly through vignettes.
This particular book explored 8 scientific concepts for better productivity. One section was dedicated to focus and illustrated the dangers of cognitive tunneling through some harrowing airline stories. Cognitive tunneling occurs when you become intently focused on something directly in front of you. This tunnel actually reduces your ability to focus and you end up working on the easiest and most obvious task. Common sense goes out the window.
I’m not a pilot, but being a parent these days often feels like flying a jumbo jet blindfolded. Common sense and a wider perspective can sometimes get lost. Making sure Cecilia understands the logic and can solve a multi-step word problem at 7:30 on a Wednesday night can suddenly seem like a very critical thing. Emotions might get heightened.
So much of modern parenting feels like it’s focused solely on raising high achievers to earn high salaries. Is that really the raison d’etre for having children? One of my Dad goals for 2019 is to not get crazy tunnel vision on hyper achievement. Yes, of course, school is really important. But achievement alone doesn’t guarantee happiness. That’s on thing reality TV can teach us. I want to make sure the girls understand there are many ways to define success and many ways to have a meaningful life.
I’m sure there’s a Netflix show out there to explain all this to them…
As much as I love Ken Forkish’s Flour Water Salt Yeast for making bread, I just never latched onto his pizza book in quite the same way. Maybe it was because I bought them so close together. Or maybe the detailed instructions felt like too much for a Friday night dinner (They really aren’t). It didn’t make sense, but either way, the book made its way to the basement shelves and stayed there.
This week, I’m giving it another shot with his 48-72 hour dough. So far, so good. The process is very similar so far to FWSY. The dough came together quickly without all the folding, just a countertop rise, shaping and into the fridge. Why did I think this was complicated?
It’s January. The gym is crowded. Everyone is making a smoothie. My feeds are clogged with resolutions and fitness ads. If you are looking to start a new running routine, or return to an old one after the holidays, here are the 4 things that I’ve seen work the best to get the run streak started and keep it going through the end of the year.
We undecorated (de-decorated?) the tree Friday night. The Christmas cookie tin is now just crumbs. I packed up vacation Dad and brought out the daily tasks white boards. It feels like 2019 is now officially open for business.
Three days of school, a basketball practice, some frustration over math homework, and Ally trying to cut table-side deals about how much broccoli she actually has to eat made the holiday halo fade faster than an iPad’s charge on the Jersey turnpike.
We talked about accountability and resolutions at dinner this week. Everyone has lots of goals and aspirations for 2019. I asked if they wanted to go public with their #1 goal as other people knowing might help them stay focused and achieve it after the excitement of the initial moment has passed.
Cecilia: Get an appreciation certificate at school.
Allison: Shut the door when she uses the bathroom.
I can support both of those.
When you sign up for a race in New England, you really never know what you are going to get. It could be mid-40’s in June or mid-60’s in January. It keeps you on your toes. It wasn’t quite 60 degrees, but it was way, way warmer for this New Year’s Day 5k versus last year’s version.
Last year, I struggled to pin my bib through six layers of clothes and had icicles hanging from my ears by the end. This year, I was quite comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. The hill in the first mile? Yeah, that didn’t change.
According to my best Insta block, my life in 2018 consisted mostly of pizza, baked goods, Dash, trombones and musicals. Throw in running and I think that about covers it. Damn you algorithms!
Given all the chaos going on in the wider world, life was remarkably placid for us in 2018. For the first in three years there were no unexpected ER trips or hospital stays. No staying up late deep Googling obscure diseases or symptoms. Gotta admit it was a nice change of pace.
There was a lot of baking. And musicals. And breakfast buffets. And kitchen dance parties.
Like each Olympiad, as we tucked the girls in on Christmas night, they declared it the best Christmas ever. Quick pause for a parent high-five!
I woke up the next morning to find them downstairs, surrounded by their new presents, fervently cutting up styrofoam and cardboard. I started to ask what they were doing cutting up my good styrofoam and not playing with any of their new presents, but stopped. They were clearly having fun.
There are so many expectations these days of both parents and kids that simple, spontaneous joy often feels like the first thing to go. So, I embraced vacation Dad, listened to the course grind of the scissors, and started the coffee.