Gosh, I feel like life teaches me this lesson on a daily basis. The truth of the matter is that Ralph Ellison is right: life is to be lived because it CAN’T be controlled.What a Silver Lining thought of my day. Hope it is the same for you!
Recently, I came across the most wonderful Silver Lining book: Advice to Little Girls written by Mark Twain in 1865. In this beautiful children’s story, Mark Twain challenged -as the title suggests – little girls to digest the intelligent humor he was, and still is, known for among his adult audiences. How fun is that?
The Silver Lining is that Maria Popova from Brain Pickings discovered the Italian version of the book in the summer of 2011 and convinced Claudia Bedrick of Enchanted Lion Books to reprint the book in English. How fabulous is that? I mean, really.
I love this book. Love-love-love it! It’s beautiful, engaging, charming, witty and spot ON. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we are!
Good little girls always show marked deference for the aged. You ought never to “sass” old people unless they “sass” you first.
You ought never to take your little brother’s “chewing-gum” away from him by main force; it is better to rope him in with the promise of the first two dollars and a half you find floating down the river on a grindstone. In the artless simplicity natural to this time of life, he will regard it as a perfectly fair transaction. In all ages of the world this eminently plausible fiction has lured the obtuse infant to financial ruin and disaster.
Good little girls ought not to make mouths at their teachers for every trifling offense. This retaliation should only be resorted to under peculiarly aggravated circumstances.
How spot on is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote about life being a succession of lessons? I am seriously loving this image and find that I reflect on it with a great deal of frequency.
I seem to always be asking myself, “What can I learn here?” and “What is the lesson?” I believe that we have a great opportunity to see life as indeed “a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” I hope that you find it to be as much of a Silver Lining as I do!
To lighten things up a bit after two days of heavy duty posts, I thought I’d write about my love of offices. For as long as I can remember, I have loved everything about offices, from the furniture to the supplies. In fact, when I was a little girl, I loved to go to my father’s office and play (respectfully) at his secretary’s (pre-”executive assistant” title) desk.
Oh and my favorite Pinterest board is “Happy Home Offices.” Combine this with my love of organization you can imagine that when it came time to put together my own office, I had a BLAST! For the record, I know how weird that sounds!
Some of the things that were important to me when creating a comfortable and inspiring place to work (hours on end each day) include:
Personal touches, including photos of family and friends as well as a subtle and fragrant candle.
A bed for Buzz because his favorite place to snooze during the day is under my feet.
Maximizing lighting both both natural as well as lamplight on my desk and in the room.
Organizational supplies and tools, including an efficient (and – I must admit – color-coded) filing system.
Plenty of storage so that the room stays tidy. The cleanliness factor is huge for me. I can’t work in a messy environment.
On Monday, May 20th, an Oklahoma tornado crashed through suburbs, leveling entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow to an elementary school. In the photo* above, a woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, May 20, 2013. How much more heartbreaking does it get?
Many of you already know how important it is to me that adults talk with children and keep lines of communication open. Silence is NOT golden especially when television and other media are depicting graphic scenes of devastation. Children are being exposed to stories and photos of dislocated families, destroyed homes and a rising death toll. UGH. We MUST talk with children about natural disasters.
The thing of it is: when children are left alone with information, they have the capacity to imagine far worse than reality (even when reality is awful!). For example, young children often confuse facts with fantasy and may not realize that the same images are shown over and over again on television. Rather they may think that the disasters are happening over and over again. Yup. How awful is that?
The Silver Lining here is that there are concrete tools for talking with and helping children cope with the tornado in Oklahoma and other tragedies:
Encourage ongoing dialogue. The more communication the better. One conversation is not enough. Children are better able to take in and cope with small amounts of information at a time.
Be honest.Use developmentally appropriate words and concepts that children can understand.
Encourage children to ask questions.Make sure that you listen to the questions being asked and and concerns being expressed. Don’t assume and please don’t project your fears onto your children. Answer the questions that children ask. Keep it to that. Do not volunteer more information than asked because children may not be ready to handle that information. Unconsciously, they know what they can handle and when.
Know the facts. Be able to explain what a natural disaster is as well as how and why they happen. Use simple, clear facts and avoid opinions.
Normalize feelings – especially fear. It is important that a child not be left with distressing feelings. A child may demonstrate their distressing feelings by throwing temper tantrums, an inability to sleep or having meltdowns. Pay attention to unusual behavior and address behaviors head-on.
Turn OFF the television. Watching the devastation over and over and over again only heightens a child’s worry and fear. Research has shown that watching media coverage, especially repeated viewing, can create stress for children even when they are not directly exposed to disaster. Television viewing for young children needs to be limited. If they see some television that reports on disaster, it is best for parents to watch with their children in order to deal with their reactions and correct misinformation.
Reassure children that they will be taken care of and that you will do everything that you can do to protect them. DO NOT tell them that “this will never happen to you” because as we know all too well, a natural disaster can happen anytime, anywhere.
Use the conversation as an opportunity for learning. Talk about what you and your family would do in the event of a natural disaster. Make a plan. The reassurance will provide comfort.
Encourage children to relax. Some options include: coloring, reading poetry, singing songs.
Maintain a consistent routine because children equate a routine with stability and security.
The important thing to know is that children take their coping cues from us, the trusted adults in their lives. This isn’t to say that we should cover our emotions. Not at all. Rather, we need to model healthy coping mechanisms for our children. Some examples include:
Moderating news intake
Self care (eating, sleeping, bathing)
Express our feelings
Including children in the dialogue about a natural disaster is a Silver Lining amidst the tragedy because it demonstrates that parents are trustworthy and that honesty is a core family value.
Last week was a full-ON Angelia Jolie kind of week. Because so many people have asked my opinion about her decision to have a double mastectomy, I thought I’d weigh in with my reaction to her Op-Ed piece in the New York Times.
So many references have been made to Angelina Jolie’s “preventative” double mastectomy. Let me begin by saying that “prevention” is an incorrect word to use when talking about breast cancer. Unfortunately, at this time no one knows specifically how to “prevent” cancer. All we know now is how to reduce the risk that a person will get cancer, but no intervention is fully protective against acquiring the disease (which, for the record, is an f-bomb!).
One of the Silver Linings of Angelina Jolie’s public disclosure is that it will (hopefully) encourage people (men, too! – I have a friend whose dad died of FBC) to look into their family history. There are many ways to do this, beginning by having a dialogue and asking questions. ONLY if there is a strong family history does it make sense to get the ($3000+!) BRCA1 & BRCA2 genetic test.
My friend Dr. Marsia Weiss, who founded Breastcancer.org was quoted as saying, “These are single, rare gene mutations that most people don’t have. Some women who hear about Ms. Jolie’s case might feel they should get the test, but the reality is that only a small percentage of women actually qualify for it, based on the guidelines.”
Further, The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) position statement on genetic testing states: “A genetic test for breast cancer should only be utilized with full consideration of its limitations and implications. Genetic testing cannot cure or prevent breast cancer, and cannot accurately predict whether a woman will or will not develop breast cancer. Most women who get breast cancer do not have BRCA1or BRCA2 mutations, and some women with confirmed mutations will never get breast cancer.”
After my diagnosis, I had the BRCA test. The reason that I was tested was because when I was diagnosed, I was under the age of 40 (I was 39). The greatest Silver Lining of my entire ordeal was that I was BRCA negative. In other words, my diagnosis was NOT because of faulty genetics and I would NOT pass any genetic predisposition on to Suddenly Seven.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), statistically, women who have one or both mutations have about a 60% risk of breast cancer during their lifetimes (not 87% as Angelina Jolie suggested), compared with 12% for women without such mutations.
Not only that, but also according to the NCI, mutations in the two BRCA genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, account for less than 10% of all breast cancers. This statistic surprises most people. Genetic mutations also account for about 15% of ovarian cancers.
Angelina Jolie’s situation definitely highlights the emotionally charged dilemma facing people with the BRCA mutations. For those people who do test positive for a genetic mutation, it is really important to consider ALL options, beginning with less-aggressive, “barbaric” alternatives to lower the risk of getting breast cancer. Many doctors advise very close monitoring, with screenings via ultrasound or MRIs twice a year. Chemotherapy is another option to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. There are also clear lifestyle modifications (e.g., maintaining a healthy weight, reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption, and a low fat diet, to name a few) that reduce the risk of getting breast FBC.
Now, I will say that I admire several aspects about Angelina Jolie’s decision, beginning with the fact that from the get-go she states that it was indeed her decision. She didn’t make sweeping generalizations or “should” on anyone. I appreciate this very much.
I am also inspired by the fact that one of the most beautiful women in the world bravely and publicly declared that her breasts do not define her — her power over her health and her body had trumped her dependence on a body part to express her femininity. What an incredible role model. “I do not feel any less of a woman,” she declared. “I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.”
Additionally, there is a great Silver Lining in her disclosure: people will hopefully be more inquisitive about their family history.
The thing of it is there are no perfect options. The most important thing is that people make FULLY informed decisions in collaboration with trusted physicians. Angelina Jolie’s decision is very unique and very personal and doesn’t necessarily apply to every man or woman.
This Frank Lloyd Wright quote about the importance of studying, loving and staying close to nature is a Silver Lining today. I read it this morning and proceeded to spend the entire day outside, loving and staying close to nature!
It has been a spring filled with animals, which equates to a spring filled with Silver Linings. I am always happiest when I spend time with animals. Their beauty, spirit and sense of presence always inspires me. It fills my heart with joy that Suddenly Seven has the same affinity for the magical world of animals, from dolphins to capybara’s to beloved Buzz.
Here is Suddenly Seven feeding a capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Ever heard of this animal? It is the largest rodent in the world and definitely reminded me of the “rodents of unusual size” from The Princess Bride except that capybara’s are much nicer and not inclined to chew on people.
Lions are my favorite animal. They were roaaaaaaaring the day we were at the zoo.
Me smooching with the dolphins earlier this spring. Talk about a Silver Lining!
Buzz at the beauty parlor. It’s hard to be so handsome!
This particular capybara loved neck rugs. Look at those TEETH! Major Silver Lining!
This is Michael the giraffe. He loooooooves his lettuce!
We had a seat on the dolphin superhighway. It was magical!
Though I have a strong inclination toward a vegan diet, I do love salmon. Love as in “I could eat it everyday” love. However, I tend to eat it 2-3 times per week and stick to a plant based diet the rest of the week.
There are tons of health benefits to eating salmon. The omega-3′s present in salmon contribute to decreasing the risk of cancer (yah!), improving eye health and cardiovascular function. Oh, and, the omega-3s found in salmon also lock moisture into skin cells, encouraging the production of strong collagen and elastin fibers, which contribute to more youthful looking skin. Better than botox, right? Nice Silver Lining.
Speaking of Silver Lining, Chef Maili (with whom I’ve been playing in the kitchen for the past few weeks!) came up with an amazingly scrumptious and super simple salmon recipe. It’s my new fave. Usually, I’m not a big fan of cooking with ginger; however, this recipe rocks. It’s the perfect balance between sweet and savory.
Hope that you enjoy it as much as we are!
Here’s how to cut salmon:Here’s a great lesson in cutting garlic. Smash the garlic with the side of a knife to get the skin off. For dicing, if you sprinkle a wee bit of salt on the garlic, then the garlic won’t stick to the side of the knife. Genius tip from Maili!