Scenes from Saturday + Food & Freedom

Parents of teenagers, what is it about the age (hormones, a glimpse of the ‘real’ world) that so often poisons the resiliency and willingness to just try of their younger selves?

For most, this is just a temporary fog, but here is a life lesson, or life approach, that I’d like to inject directly into my kids brains as an antidote to overly negative thinking: How can I make this work?

It’s not a life hack (hate those) but a mindset. Don’t be the type of person that approaches a situation and think, “What are all the ways this might go wrong?

This is not to say I want the girls to be naive or overly optimistic. Just the opposite. I want them to be realistic and believe that they’ll find a way through no matter what and not to depend on things outside their control.

Both types of mindsets need to deal with reality, but the first person will only have to solve problems that actually occur while the second person may never get started because they’ve scuttled themselves with potential (or even imaginary) problems before they even start.

There will always be reasons to not do something. It’s how you start anyway that makes a difference.

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Scenes from Saturday + Winter is Coming

The school work is ramping up (even if it seems like they’ve yet to have a full week) and so is the homework. This often leads to some mild paralysis and procrastinating. Which in turn leads to some frayed parental nerves. Even if I can recognize what is happening. It’s the same thing that often plagues me when I need to get my own writing or exercising done.

Too much focus on the outcome makes the gap between now and being done seem much larger than it might be.

So we’ve talked to the girls about changing their focus from the outcome (being done and that yawning gap to get there) to what they can do right now. When you shrink it down to the next five minutes, doing what you know you need to do becomes much easier.

Don’t focus on writing a thousand words. Focus on writing the first five sentences.

Don’t focus on the entire packet of math problems, focus on the first one. When they focus on doing the first exercise, getting started is easier and action becomes inevitable.

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Scenes from Saturday + Massages & Masala

One silver lining to living through a kitchen renovation is the ample crazy time at home. I’ve written before about capitalizing on the garbage time with the girls: various car rides, doing chores, walking to the bus stop.

We should be just about done with the kitchen next week (famous last words) and it’s certainly provided some stories we will tell and remember for years. And no one is too important or too busy to have some crazy time at home.

These moments are the best moments. If they’re rare, you might be doing something wrong. They should be regular. Maybe not renovation projects but the crazy, stupid times that feel discardable in the moment, but stick in the mind.

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Scenes from Saturday + Cars, Chili & Commerce

It was our town’s discovery day yesterday. Sort of a cross between a block party, street carnival, and chamber of commerce power point presentation. I’m sure your town has something similar.

It was 3 o’clock and the ubiquitous plastic trumpets someone had mistakenly thought were a good idea had wormed their way into my inner ear and turned my heart as black as the Grinch’s on Christmas Eve. I was done. Ally wanted to stay longer.

As a parent, it feels as if I’m perpetually short on time and always looking ahead to the next thing. But what am I actually rushing toward and what am I rushing away from? Do I really want to rush home to a house under renovation? Do I need to vacuum the glitter off the stairs again? Or remind the girls to practice their instruments?

I’m really just moving too quickly through their childhood. How important will those extra 15 minutes seem in a few years? How much would I give for a few minutes back right now before she becomes an irrational teenager?

Why rush toward an uncertain future? Better to focus on the present.

Still, a present without the plastic vuvuzelas would have been nice.

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Ragnar: Reach the Beach Relay – ’22 Race Recap

It’s Saturday morning and the van smells like a Frankenstein combination of boiled cabbage, Febreeze, and beef jerky. I’m in the third row, half bent over with my hands on my slightly distended stomach. For the past thirty hours I’ve been conducting a delicate chemistry experiment on myself. What is the proper combination of Tums, Pepto, and carbs to keep my GI tract happy through three legs of a Ragnar?

My stomach gives a troubling burble. Or was that a purr of satisfaction? I’ve lost track under the avalanche of antacids I’ve poured down my throat.

The line of honey buckets is only yards away. As the sun has risen, the conditions inside have gotten worse at each transition area. My friendly Scottish teammate came back whistling at the last stop and happily told me his body’s response to stress was to empty the tanks. Cheers to that, mate, but mine is quite the opposite.

At the first sign of stress, TSA security lines, or unfamiliar toilets, my digestive tract clamps down like Scrooge McDuck’s grip on a dollar bill. The only cure isn’t more cowbell, but a quart of prune juice and some quiet contemplation. Neither of which are readily available during this 200-mile team trek across New Hampshire.

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Scenes from Saturday + Apples & Arlington

[Editor’s note: It was my annual 36-hours in a van with some occasional running weekend, so Cecilia is taking over the blog this weekend. You don’t need to see 17 different point of view shots from inside a Ford Econoline.]

We just finished the fourth week of school and it has gotten interesting. In Civics, our teacher is making us say a vice president’s name before anything we say to him. It started almost two weeks ago and now I am one of the last two people still standing. I have not only learned the names of a bunch of vice presidents, I have also learned about focus, no, not my Dad’s antique car, but how much we need and use it in our daily lives.

Even if I think knowing a bunch of vice president’s names isn’t all that useful unless I start going to trivia nights with Dad. 

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Scenes from Saturday + Puppies & Progress

A new co-worker found out about my book thing. Like a lot of people, she wanted to know how I got it done. How did I write books and work a full-time job?

The pat answer is that you don’t write a book in one chunk. You write it a little at a time, day by day. If it’s important to you, you find the time.

And maybe that’s how it is now after I’ve made writing a habit. But it didn’t start that way. I finished the first book because I didn’t know any better. This quote from Orson Welles when asked where his confidence came from says it better than I can:

“Ignorance! Ignorance! Sheer ignorance, you know. There’s no confidence to equal it. It’s only when you know something about a profession that you’re timid or careful.”

Sometimes it’s far better not to know. Go on an adventure, people. Don’t wait. Be an amateur, explore the untried and find new ground.

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