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thinking thursday

By on Feb 26, 2015

mind “Because as soon as we liberated ourselves from a concept of what our son’s education should look like, we were able to observe how he learned best. And what we saw was that the moment we stopped compelling Fin to sit and draw or paint or write was the moment he began doing these things on his own. It was the moment he began carving staves of wood into beautiful bows and constructing complex toys from materials on hand: an excavator that not only rotated, but also featured an extendable boom; a popgun fashioned from copper pipe, shaved corks, and a whittled-down dowel; even a sawmill with a rotating wooden ‘blade.’ In other words, the moment we quit trying to teach our son anything was the moment he started really learning.” Ben Hewitt writing about the unschooling of his two sons. “Everyone we know who unschools, in fact, has chosen autonomy over...

I am not raising a badass Marine

By on Feb 25, 2015

I want to share something in this safe space, with one request – that in any discussion we have about this, we not denigrate the person who sent me these messages. Obviously this is a lot more about her than about me. I am sharing it because I believe many parents of kids with special needs get messages similar to these (if not as random and from total strangers, like this was), and, frankly, they are hard to dismiss in our hearts, even if our minds recognize them for what they are. I was taken aback by a post on my Facebook wall a month ago by someone on my friend list. Not someone I’ve met or know, but a relative stranger asking if I had ever been tested because some of my behaviors seemed to indicate I, too, had Autism. As if that was a bad thing. The particulars of that elongated and odd interchange are really unimportant; suffice it to say that it was off-balanced and...

tuesday book stack : free to learn

By on Feb 24, 2015

The importance of play—crucial for children’s healthy psychological development and ability to thrive in life—is woefully underestimated by parents and educators, according to Peter Gray, a Boston College developmental psychologist and author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life. “Play is how children learn to take control of their lives.”  All children are born with an innate curiosity, playfulness, sociability and deep desire to learn, but at some point after they enter school, what was once fun and engaging begins to feel forced, he explains. And, anxiety and stress levels among youths are at an all-time high: they are bogged down with homework, over-scheduled with extracurricular activities, deprived of free play, and faced with the pressures of getting into a top college. “How...

poetry wednesday : she’s not gone

By on Feb 17, 2015

Neither is the poet gone, though he died last week on Valentine’s Day. “You met a lot of unpretentious people in Philip Levine’s spare, ironic poems,” Dwight Garner wrote in the New York Times on Sunday. “Come as you are, this important and emotionally committed poet told us.” She’s Not Gone Philip Levine Someone enters your life on a day you no longer remember. The years pass, and she becomes the mother you never had, the older sister smoking before breakfast, the first friend. She lies back on the worn sofa in the heat of summer and shares a season of baseball. When you are twelve she explains the world, how the people were sold down the river, how someone will always work and waste away to these essential bones, muscles, and tendons. She explains your brother, who at sixteen needs two clean shirts a day and will grow to command, she explains you, who will never, and she...

happy birthday to the real johnny.

By on Feb 16, 2015

I know I joke a lot about Johnny Depp. And I write about Johnny Unitas a lot. And Johnny Appleseed. And Johnny Cash. But the fact is that there is only one Johnny. My Johnny, Mr Brilliant, the father of our two amazing girls. And today is his birthday. (And Emma’s half-birthday!) Have I mentioned how lucky I am to be growing old with this man? I’ve written about him on 37days a few times: happy birthday, johnny (2011) happy birthday, johnny (2010) mr brilliant is, above all, mr daddy Those are just a few of the stories about him. In 2010, I posted 54 reasons I love him. I’ve added five more to bring him up to 59: 1. He catches me when I’m falling. 2. He makes me laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh some more. 3. He makes good babies. 4. He is the best daddy in the universe. 5. He cooks. 6. He is curious. Insatiably so. 7. He isn’t content to ask Chef Google...

strong offer friday

By on Feb 13, 2015

“We re-engineer the behavioral and developmental gaps that are prevalent among youth in public housing.  We use bicycles, hard training, and tough love to accomplish this monumental task.  From top to bottom, we operate in a different way, with a different approach, in a unique style.  It’s hard to articulate this ‘style,’ but it’s made from holding our youth accountable, expanding their world, constant evolution of our programming, infusion of our distinct personalities, and broadcasting a knuckles down work ethic.  As an organization, including our youth, our battle cry is ‘Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop.’” Every once in a while, I get a glimpse of people who understand kids and who know how to mentor them, challenge them, and support them. That’s what the Richmond Cycling Corps does best. Mix all that with physical fitness and outlets for all the...

thinking thursday

By on Feb 12, 2015

mind What “Nightly News” and “The Daily Show” should do next. Hint: it involves women: “There are so many reasons why the next host of ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘Nightly News’ should be a woman. But needing any reason at all is part of the problem. We never seem to need a reason why men host most of the news and late night talk shows on television (or, you know, own most of the Fortune 500 corporations or are always president). The biggest reason to change the male-dominated nature of media and politics is because women are half the population. We already know the pool of talent that’s out there. We already know the names of the women who can do these jobs. It’s time to let them, if for no other reason than it’s been too long already.” In light of the senseless murders of three young students in Chapel Hill, why is it always a...

poetry wednesday : blackberrying

By on Feb 11, 2015

on the 52nd anniversary of her death, a poem by Sylvia Plath Blackberrying BY SYLVIA PLATH Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries, Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly, A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes Ebon in the hedges, fat With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers. I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me. They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.   Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks— Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky. Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting. I do not think the sea will appear at all. The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within. I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies, Hanging...

book stack tuesday : the recovering body

By on Feb 10, 2015

“It is often said that exercise is medicine, but a more correct statement is that insufficient regular exercise is abnormal and pathological.” -Daniel E. Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University I received this book in the mail, a gift from the author. At first, I set it aside, not considering that it applied to me since I am not in recovery. But because the author sent it to me, I put it in the pile of books I’ve been sent–I do read them all, even if it takes me a long time, because I am honored by the gift of them and want to honor the writers. I coincidentally picked this book out of the pile at the beginning of yet another focus on wellness–food and fitness. And realized immediately that Matesa’s focus on recovering from alcohol and drug addiction mirrors a recovery from addiction to food or sugar–that...

be responsible for your own well-being

By on Feb 2, 2015

I didn’t fully appreciate my red hair when I had it. There were too many downsides: nicknames like “Big Red” and “Carrot Top.” And the companion un-tannable skin splattered with freckles that became huge in the summer on some parts of my body, like my face and shoulders, but never on my legs, those translucent pegs that looked like cotton balls stretched out on the beach next to my easily tanned friends. Many an achingly futile afternoon in the sun with baby oil provided me with nothing other than future skin cancer scares. I grew up and grew into what it means to be unusual—red-haired and left-handed, both of which made me exotic at the time. There was great celebration in my house when the first catalog of left-handed scissors and composition books arrived, an acknowledgement that we were citizens of the world just like our right-handed compatriots. Not surprisingly, orange-haired...

strong offer friday

By on Jan 30, 2015

When I left my job and opened my own business 19 years ago, I started by taking almost all the consulting gigs that came my way because I was AMAZED at how much money I could make as a corporate consultant. I had quit my job to stay home with Emma more, and wasn’t. Until one day when my wise friend Dave Rippey said to me, “Patti, I don’t think the right question is ‘How much can I make?’ I think the right question is ‘How much do I need?’” Strong Offers Eight years ago today, my husband started writing his brilliant blog, pieces of which are often retweeted and shared by the likes of Le Monde, The Times, Slate, New York Times, Le Point, Paris Review, Huffington Post, Gizmodo, Le Figaro, Wired, The Economist, American Physical Society News, and many others. That’s a strong offer right there. I’ve started a “Fitness is a...

thinking thursday

By on Jan 29, 2015

mind Having watched money and connections land many a book on the best-selling lists, I find this to raise an interesting point about the dangers of pretending privilege doesn’t exist.   ”Because in this world where women will sit around discussing the various topiary shapes of their bikini waxes, the conversation about money (or privilege) is the one we never have. Why? I think it’s the Marie Antoinette syndrome: Those with privilege and luck don’t want the riffraff knowing the details. After all, if ‘those people’ understood the differences in our lives, they might revolt. Or, God forbid, not see us as somehow more special, talented and/or deserving than them.” I cannot get enough of this. I included it, with his blessings, in a book of mine. I read it often. body This is amazing and very cool and beyond the binary. Go big or go home seems to be the...