Monthly Archives: September 2011

Too Much Choice

I like cereal.  I think most people do.  In my house we usually have around seven or eight boxes going at any given time—a few twig-like whole-grain brands for me, some corn-syrup-laden-cartoon-character business for my husband, and a couple of kid-friendly healthy cereals for my son.  Theoretically, we could all eat the same kind of cereal (Honey-Nut Cheerios would probably be the intersection of our collective sweet spot) but there are so many options out there, why bother to compromise?

The other day in the grocery store I counted 164 kinds of cereal.  And I’m not including hot cereals.  164.  Now, I’m all for having choices and I know that I should feel privileged to live in a country where we have the freedom to choose exactly which cereal best fits our individual needs, blah, blah, blah.  But I do think there’s a gray area between, say, abundant choice and piggish consumerist overindulgence.

I think this dilemma of too much choice is the hardest on kids.  Kids today have so many options in a whole variety of things—from afterschool activities and sports to brands of sneakers and energy drinks—that it can be overwhelming at times because all of these choices are SO! DARN! EXCITING!  It’s like being in Times Square and not knowing where to look.

But I think the real problem is, that in a culture of infinite choices, you don’t really need to make a choice at all because you can always try something else on for size.  Download a new song, then decide you don’t like it—move on to the next band.  Think you might love that new Pepsi One then realize you’re more of Coke Zero person—that’s okay, try again.  We’ve added so many options in our consumer culture that the moment of reflection when making a purchase is no longer necessary.  Why bother to think when we can just have?

And I can’t help but wonder if this kind of carelessness has had an impact on other stuff, like divorce rates, or  the mortgage crisis, if we’ve just become so accustomed to making disposable choices, we’ve lost our ability to choose what’s truly right for us.

Don’t get me wrong; I like having options as much as the next guy.  But, I’d be hard pressed to find a reason why any store needs to offer 36 (yes, this is a real number) different kinds of toilet paper.

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The Right Side of the Bed

WATCH THIS to start your day off right.

You’re welcome.

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The Yoga of Writing

In Ashtanga yoga, the term drishti refers to a point of focus where your eyes can rest instead of wandering.  It’s a soft-focus gaze, the point of which is not to concentrate on a specific object, but to eliminate distraction. And just like staring at something and taking in its detail would draw your focus outward, away from your practice, shutting your eyes would draw your focus in, which, as we all know, comes with its own set of distractions.  Like so much in yoga (and in life) drishti is all about balance.

Which brings me to my analogy of the day.

For me, good writing comes from the same place as drishti—you look at your work too hard and you’re lost in the details, you rely too much on the subconscious and your writing’s not grounded.  So my advice to all you writing yoginis out there is to step back and give your writing a soft-focus gaze.  Just like in yoga, it takes practice to find the right balance, but the moment you achieve it, all of the searching and strain suddenly falls away.  Just like in yoga, some days it comes naturally and effortlessly, and other days it does not.  In fact, just yesterday I was in yoga class repeatedly reminding myself to let go of all conscious thought and be in the now when I came up with the idea for this blog post.  ;)

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The Corporate Ha Ha

We’ve all experienced it.  That feeling you get when a mediocre joke is performed live, creating that awkward moment where you, the audience member, is expected to laugh, because you know that whatever’s going on onstage is “supposed to be” funny.  Maybe we do it out of politeness, an attempt to honor the unwritten social agreement that it is better to fake laughter than to do nothing at all.  Others might call it mob mentality.

This experience can also happens in the movies, when you get to the funny part that everyone’s already seen dozens of times in the trailer and on TV commercials.  It may genuinely be a funny scene.  Or at least it was the first four times you saw it—but by now, the joke’s about as fresh as a week-old bagel.  And yet, everybody laughs, because we know that this is the part the filmmakers want us to think is funny.

Which is the problem right there:  thinking.   Any time you find yourself rationalizing the reason why a joke is “funny,” it’s not.  It’s like going to a movie with your mom and having her whisper the major plot points in your ear so you can be “in on it” too.  But if someone needs to elbow you in the gut to explain the joke—especially if that person is the one onstage—the ability to find a genuine laugh is lost.

I call this phenomenon the Corporate Ha Ha.

I didn’t actually see the live bit in the photo above  (assuming it was different than when they did it on SNL) but it just reeks of Corporate Ha Ha.  Only, in this example, if I had seen it live while sitting next my mother, I’d be the one whispering in her ear, doing the translation.  “That guy who’s dressed Mark Zuckerberg is actually Andy Samberg.  Which is funny because…”

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Guess who has a book cover?

Me!  If you would like to see the fabulous new cover for REUNITED, please visit Presenting Lenore, site of Lenore Appelhans, author & book blogger extraordinaire.

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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, writing

Do-It-Yourself Spa Day

We live in a non-stop world and it’s easy to get stuck on the hamster wheel of work, kids, school, laundry, and other Things You Have To Do, and to forget about carving out time for self-care.  And no, busy moms, going to the supermarket without kids doesn’t qualify.

Self-care is about honoring one’s need for relaxation, a word that surprisingly can still be found in modern dictionaries.  For me, sometimes this means going away to Kripalu for a weekend of yoga, other times it’s just a short hike with my friends, or going to get a massage, or deciding to read my book when I find myself with an hour in the house alone, instead of, say, unloading the dishwasher.

This past Sunday, my friends and I had our first annual Spa Day, though some of us now refer to it as our first monthly Spa Day.  Spa Day was inexpensive, easy to organize, and we left feeling relaxed, renewed, and refreshed.

If you have friends and access to a house, you too can create your own spa day!  Here is our recipe, but feel free to improvise.

10 Easy Steps for Creating a Do It Yourself Spa Day

  1. Find a friend to host, preferably one with a lovely sun-filled home, good Pandora stations, and a fire burning in the wood stove.
  2. Ditch husbands and kids
  3. Find a hair stylist and massage therapist to come to the house to offer hair-cuts and 30-minute massages.  Trust me, they do house-calls.  (Sierra and Leah, you are goddesses!)
  4. Get everyone to bring pedicure stuff (including large bowls for foot-soaking, bath salts, and bath stones for a mini foot massage effect).
  5. If you have a friend with a juicer and she’s willing to work it to create yummy concoctions for you, take her up on the offer.  Especially if she has a fondness for ginger.
  6. Get everyone to bring smutty magazines.  If someone shows up with a copy of Harpers or the New Yorker, tell them their kind isn’t welcome here.
  7. Feast on a pot-luck of delicious, healthy, nourishing foods.  (The abundance of local in-season produce we had in our meal made my heart smile).
  8. Don’t forget to move.  This isn’t a training session for the triathalon, but it’s nice to do a little yoga or get outside and take a walk.
  9. Return home to your family (who didn’t actually miss you) and to your work (that didn’t get done, and the world somehow managed not to completely fall apart) a little more sane.
  10. Rinse, repeat.

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20 Awesome Literary Tattoos

These literary tattoos are just too good not to re-post.  I guess some people are just really, really certain which books will be their favorites even when they grow old and wrinkly. Much thanks to Buzzfeed.  SEE THEM ALL RIGHT HERE.

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