Today is Pi(e) Day. How will you celebrate? I am in Los Angeles, California where I believe pie is still made… somewhere. I am off to find.
I just returned from watching the movie Selma with my friend Petrea. Coincidentally we had agreed to read The Warmth of Other Suns about the great migration of Black Americans to the north and west to escape the violence of Jim Crow. Then we scheduled our girls night out to see Selma and we had an urgency to finish this terrific non-fiction book.
Isabel Wilkerson’s wonderful account of three individuals who amplified the experience of 6 million Americans fleeing an intolerable situation, sometimes leaving everything behind, to seek freedom and opportunity for a better life. They often met the same racism though less formal. It helped us understand the climate of fear that Black Americans in Selma faced as they asserted their right to vote.
I braced myself for what I thought might be more of history lecture and was wonderfully surprised by Selma‘s power as a story, beautifully photographed, and expertly acted by great actors. Selma was riveting. I had chills for the last third of the movie.
I recommend this movie even to people outside of the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a model of leadership that should resonate with everyone.
The other sobering aspect are the echoes that still reverberate today. A defenseless young black man is shot by a state trooper in a restaurant. People are ridiculed for marching and “creating a civic disturbance.” It takes place in Alabama and we could not help notice the parallel with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn ban on gay marriage in Alabama and the Alabama Supreme Court Justice’s decision to defy the court’s decision.
It would be easy to shake our heads at those poor close-minded people in Alabama. Instead we tried to think of something we could do to make a difference for race relations and equality in Davis. We tend to be smug intellectuals who think we would never partake in anything so vulgar as what happened in Selma. But this is the town where a The Daily Show correspondent grew up and felt rejection because his family was from India. And where campus police sprayed mace directly into the eyes of student protesters. And where we never have our values tested, so we do not know if we have the courage of our convictions.
It was a Wednesday night so we did not expect a crowded theater. We had it all to ourselves. Go to the theater this weekend and see this powerful and important movie.
This blog post first appeared on Redesigning49.com.
I planned this trip to New York City months ago. My main objective was to spend time with my friend Ray and I timed it to coincide with Vogue Knitting Live. Then a business trip to Nashville came up and I had to scramble to change flights and find someone to stay with Lulu.
Just before the trip I finished an extensive goal setting exercise and realized it was paralyzing me, not inspiring me. I literally tore up the goals while UK Sarah watched via Skype! I replaced it with a recommitment to being present as much as possible. Then I flew to Nashville.
Nashville was a whirlwind and deserves its own post about what I learned there. On Thursday I continued on to New York City and enjoyed a great evening with Ray and his partner Jim.
In the middle of the night I became seriously ill. Everything I ate that day came out violently. I felt like a truck ran over me, turned around and ran over me again.
I had plans! I had places to go, Sesame Street retrospectives to check out. Instead on Friday my big achievement was walking outside my hotel to get a vente hot tea at Starbucks. I slept a lot. I could not even claim to read or write a tweet or write a blog post. I had just enough energy to laugh at the irony: I had just reread the chapter in Steven Pressfield’s War of Art about resistance to creativity. Illness is a common form of resistance.
Maybe it was food poisoning from cheese pizza at the Newark Airport, or may be it was the flu. Either way it was a great teacher. The only productive choice was to pass through it and put my diminished energy to getting better.
By the next day I felt washed out, yet considerably better. I spent some time at the Vogue Knitting Live event and met Ray for coffee. I wrote a little and ate carefully.
Fortunately today I was okay. I said yes to meeting up with my cousin Carrie Pieper. We are the same generation of Pieper and I am 20 years older. She is delightful! She moved to New York City 3.5 months ago to seek her fame and fortune behind the scenes on Broadway. Already she has a self-supporting job, an apartment, friends, and a second job with Classic Stage Company. Gumption. (Sandy and Marty have every reason to be proud.)
We went for coffee at her workplace, Amy’s Bread. We bought some pastries to take to Ray and Jim’s for brunch and it turned out to be Jim’s favorite indulgence. We enjoyed a classic New York City brunch at their spacious mid-town apartment, one guest even sang for us! Four and a half hours later we sloshed out into the rain feeling like cousins.
This weekend, with its wonderful connections, was made possible by living in the now.
My cousins Kim and John drew my name for the family Christmas gift exchange and gave me a pie box for transporting my homemade pies. I love it!
You can get your very own Piebox on Scoutmob.com (a kind of Etsy or shopping site for handmade products). This product is made in Chicago, Illinois.
One of the challenges of following Christ for 40 years is a bad case of “been there, done that”. It is easy to start reading something about a Bible passage and check out because I have heard it before. I wanted to mix up my morning routine and figure out a devotional habit I could stick with all year. Will Schwalbe mentioned a devotional his dying mother had by her bedside: Daily Strengths for Daily Needs, by Mary Tileston. I bought it and every day I read another entry. I sustained the practice and I have just one entry left.
It has been short enough to make it impossible NOT to read everyday even though a lot of the entries are in old fashioned language that is hard to comprehend. Here is an example of one of four parts of December 27: “Whatever we are–high or lowly, learned or unlearned, married or single, in a full house or alone, charged with many affairs or dwelling in quietness–we have our daily round of work, our duties of affection, obedience, love, mercy, industry, and the like. And, that which makes one man to differ from another is not so much what things he does, as his manner of doing them.” –Cardinal Henry Edward Manning.
I started searching for a replacement last week. Stephen Mattson mentioned Rob Bell’s “What is the Bible?” found on Rob Bell’s blog on Tumblr. I checked it out and I love it. Posts are a perfect length. Enough to provide some inspiration or insight, not so much I have an time-limit excuse not to read. I have read 7 entries already because I love the perspectives.
If you are not part of the parallel universe of American Evangelical Church, Rob Bell is controversial. He wrote a terrific book called Love Wins that alienated him from the orthodox evangelical church. It must drive them crazy because he is a very gifted theologian, trained at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a great writer. He is a postmodern so he is approaching worship and following Christ differently. The main beef seems to be that he is not willing to condemn homosexuals to hell, or anyone really (hence Love Wins!).
I have read many Bible commentaries and devotions where I did not agree with everything the author wrote, so I do not mind exercising my discernment muscles. Plus I am more alienated from American Evangelicals and more aligned with Bell.
Most importantly it is reconnecting my intellect and my heart and the Holy Spirit.
Minimalism is not a lack of something. It’s simply the perfect amount of something. – Nicholas Burroughs
What is enough? Answering this question has been key to maintaining my redesign this year. In 2011 I sold or gave away almost everything I owned to move to New Zealand. The move became a sabbatical, but the act of pruning my possessions and my obligations was life changing.
When I returned in 2012 I started a consulting firm with one client and worked about 20 hours a week. Gradually one client became two and the assignments for each client multiplied. There have been months where I have worked almost 160 hours. The money is great and I can always find ways to spend it or save it. However, I want my life to be in better balance than it was when I was a non-profit executive director. This means taking time to work on my own projects like this blog and riding my bike. Plus I travel about 8 weeks a year.
This requires knowing what is enough. Enough work. Enough money. Enough yarn. Enough books. Enough travel.
As a consultant who has to track my hours carefully, I have a tendency to monetize all of my time. Knowing what I need to make each month to pay my bills helps to lessen the temptation to work more than necessary.
The real point of pruning life of belongings and obligations is to make room for the things that really matter to you. And what if your work is what gives you your spark? Then being clear on the essentials will help to focus on your career goals.
Every end of year I spend some time reviewing the year, making goals for the next year. And since 2011 I try to glean my unneeded possessions. It is always easier as you put away your Christmas gifts to toss the items that are worn out or give away the items you have not used all year.
I do not harbor any anxiety as I do this, in part because I have practiced letting go of my stuff. And because I know the answer to the question: what is enough?
This blog post inspired by: http://wheresmybackpack.com/2014/12/26/travel-theme-minimalist/
Introducing my daughter Sarah Harriet Dolislager’s new blog. I am very proud of her!
I’m 24 and self-employed. It’s pretty surreal, to be honest, and I’m learning a lot about how people view self-employment and some important aspects of it. When I first told people that I was leaving my state job for consulting, a lot of people responded, “So you’ll be working from home?! Lucky!” And honestly, yes. I completely agree. I am blessed to be able to have the freedom to work when I want and where I want. But their reactions made me cringe a little, and I even wanted to defend myself. I wanted people to know I wasn’t lazy! That I would actually be working from home! That I might actually get more done at home than I got done in my cubicle every day, and in less time. I’ve been working from home for a couple months now because of an adjusted schedule I had with the state. I had…
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One of the many highlights of 2014 is viewing Fiordland Crested penguins at the Wilderness Lodge at Lake Moeraki on my most recent visit to New Zealand. I am thankful for many things in my very rich life. I hope this season provides an opportunity to count your blessings. I am counting 15 Fiordland Crested penguins among mine!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
I bought a magazine in the Dunedin airport (in New Zealand) I wanted to read and I thought Sarah Harriet would like. It is called Frankie and in one of the articles it talked about “the age of opinion”. Everyone has a RIGHT to an opinion, facts be damned. This especially resonated with me. The day before on the train from Middlemarch to Dunedin some US citizen with a southern drawl was telling the train conductor in a loud voice, “Barack Hussein Obama is a secret muslim.” And she was not joking. (We should spend more energy keeping people from leaving the country and not worry so much about those coming in.)
My mouth dropped open at this woman’s conviction and her willingness to parade her ignorance. A sophisticated Chinese tourist sitting across from me caught my eye with that look that is both “Can you believe she said that?” “Are you going to react?” I still do not know what I could have said.
One way I keep my sanity in the age of opinion is to watch Jon Stewart The Daily Show and more occasionally The Colbert Report. This week is the last week of shows for Stephen Colbert. He will replace David Letterman (sometime in 2015) and will no longer be in character as a snarky conservative news commentator. His last few guests have been as eclectic as his intellect: rap artist Kendrick Lamar and Smaug the dragon from the Hobbit.
There are print satirical antidotes to an overdose of people’s opinions: The Onion, Let me know if you have any other ways of coping.
Here is the link to Colbert’s interview with Smaug:
A kindred spirit for sure. Thanks for sharing Sarah Harriet.
The honest truth – I never have the money I need to travel, but I buy the ticket anyway. I’ve realized that money comes and goes, but the more I make, the harder it is to part with it and weirdly, the less I have, the easier it becomes to budget.
I don’t do that saving account, checking account, travel account thing either. I am not rational. I am extreme. I want to travel and so I do. There is no in between. While I was working my first career job in public relations, I realized early on that it was going to take me forever to save all the money I would need to see the world. I come from a middle class family, I’m the middle child of five and I live in one of the most expensive places in America – Long Island, New York. I don’t…
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