Reason #54,687 to LOVE St…

Reason #54,687 to LOVE Stephen Fry

“I suppose the thing I most would have liked to have known or been reassured about is that in the world, what counts more than talent, what counts more than energy or concentration or commitment, or anything else – is kindness. And the more in the world that you encounter kindness and cheerfulness – which is its kind of amiable uncle or aunt – the better the world always is. And all the big words: virtue, justice, truth – are dwarfed by the greatness of kindness.” ~ Stephen Fry


For those of you who have been keeping up with my rantings, you know that I am trying to not watch television. I have gone two days strong, and it has gone pretty well. Last night was a true test. On Tuesdays, I head to my exercise class after work, come home and eat dinner with DH and the twins, and then DHtakes the twins back to their mom’s house. That hour+ that he is gone generally is me-time. I plop on the couch, eat sugar-free popcicles, and watch Gilmore Girl reruns. I like that time, like the checking-out bit of it. And as soon as DH closed the door and left with the twins yesterday, I could almost hear the couch and Rory and Lorelai and bomb pops calling my name. But I resisted. I stood there for a few seconds, paralyzed as to what to do. Then I went outside to look at the yardwork DH had done and got motivated to plant some flowers and put a little bit of mulch down. (1) I got two beds weeded and planted – one bed with impatiens and another bed with herbs, dianthus, salvia, and begonias. Reminding me of playing outside when I was a kid, I willed the sun to stay up long enough for me to finish my work. It was much more satisfying then watching television. I know I will be a faithful television servant as soon as this month is up, but I love trying to do this – seeing what sort of person I am and what I do when I don’t allow myself access to that old stand-by.

In the spirit of the experiment, I have a new list (to the right – list 29) of things I am doing instead of watching television. I will update it, as appropriate.

The thing about not watching television is that everything is so quiet. There is room for thinking in my brain. And DH and I share a lot more from our days. We now have a two-day tradition of drinking champagne cocktails on the porch (2,3,4) and discussing everything and nothing from that day. It is very pleasant – and feels more like living than popcicles on the couch.

And I need to be more quiet. I really think that is my next big life lesson. There is this woman at work, who I don’t get to see much, but every time I have a meeting with her, I want to be her. She is so kind – she remembers details about my life and asks me about things and seems to really care. And she listens to my answers and always says the kindest things. (6) It truly is remarkable. And during meetings she asks thoughtful questions and listens to the answers. Really listens. I want to perfect that. I am usually trying so hard to impress a point or be funny that I too often talk over people or don’t really listen. (5) Bad Ginger. Part of getting quiet will be shutting up and listening. I bet I will learn a lot more and become a better friend, wife, stepmother, daughter, coworker.

(list 30) Addendums to this post

Here are some additional thoughts related to this post.

1. One of the things I love about being married is the division of yardwork labor. I bought a house with a huge, overgrown yard that I never could even hope to control. With his manliness, chainsaw, and persistence, DH has created space for me to “play” in the yard, including little flower gardens that I can putz in. That is a lot better than pushing the mower around and hacking at brush.

2. Here is the recipe for Fellinis – the champagne cocktail that DH and I have been imbibing in.

Fellinis (makes 2) – serve in champagne flute

1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Limoncello (lemon-flavored, Italian liquer that we keep in the freezer)
Juice of two clementines, one orange, or one tangelo

Mix the juice, triple sec, and limoncello with ice. Strain into flute. Top with champagne.

3. Last year we got stuck on Mojitos as our summer cocktail. DH planted some mint in a pot (it is invasive) so that we can make some this year with mint from our own garden.

4. I am very lucky to have a husband who goes along with my schemes. From 5 am 3-mile walks to art galleries to avoiding television, I have a willing partner. I couldn’t have married a more perfect match.

5. When I was single and looking, a more important attribute than finding somebody who was funny was finding someone who would find me funny. Yea, I have issues.

6. Waltz (Better Than Fine) by Fiona Apple came up on my iPod today while I was thinking many of the thoughts contained in this post – and the lyrics seem relatedish. I wasn’t a big fan of Fiona when she first hit the scene. I don’t really like musicians who show their underwear in their videos, regardless of how arty it is. (I really am quite a prude.) But I LOVE her Extraordinary Machine album that came out a couple years ago. It has great music and better than great lyrics. (Incidentally, I think Extraordinary Machine would make an excellent song for a burlesque dancer.) Ok, so here are the lyrics for Waltz (Better Than Fine). The bolded line reminds me of the woman at work I admire so much.

If you don’t have a song
To sing you’re okay
You know how to get along

If you don’t have a date
Go out and sit on the lawn
And do nothing’Cause it’s just what you must do
Nobody does it anymore

No I don’t believe in the wasting of time,
But I don’t believe that I’m wasting mine

If you don’t have a point to make
Don’t sweat it
You’ll make a sharp one being so kind
And I’d sure appreciate it
Everyone else’s goal’s to get big headed
Why should I follow that beat being that I’m
Better than fine


I am having a busy, busy day, but have a few updates in the life that is mine… sending them quickly into the void while I eat my faux bacon samich.

(list 27) Miscellaneous List

1. DH, the twins, and I went to visit our CSA farm, Snow’s Heritage Acres. It was absolutely fantastic. Brian, Beth, and their children were wonderful. We got to see their farming methods, pet a lamb, swing on a tire swing, plant some watermelon seeds, and see the salad greens that are going to be our delivery next week. It definitely was one of the best things we have done in a while. People who farm are amazing, especially small farmers who try to be self-sustaining. We were truly impressed – and it was cool to see where our summer and fall produce would come from.

2. The quote on my flower calendar for May is hilarious:

“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

tee hee

3. My father now has a blog:

4. The TV thing didn’t go to well this weekend. The kids and I ended up watching Matilda last night and on Saturday night I was sick and watched tivo’d Daily Show when I couldn’t sleep. But tonight starts in earnest. And my attempt at avoiding the tv meant a lot more reading this weekend, which was good. I almost read an entire book!

5. I have lost 10 pounds!!

6. My fresh attempt at being a fun influence on the twins worked a wee bit this weekend. I have started a tradition of “questions of the week” on our Friday nights with them, where I ask a question and everybody has to answer it. They now ask for it by name. Here are the questions that typically are asked:

  1. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
  2. What is the nicest thing you did for someone this week?
  3. What is the favorite thing you did last week?
  4. Who is your best friend?
  5. What is the nicest thing someone did for you this week?

7. I have two spots of poison ivy on me from gardening this week. I swear you just need to whisper “Poison Ivy” in the vicinity of me and I will get it. They really are itty bitty and not bad, but we only have one section of the heinous stuff left in our yard, and of course it got me.


DH and I went with some friends to see Run, Fatboy, Run last night. Except for a very disturbing scene involving a blister, it is a really funny movie. And inspirational in its own quirky way. As I tried to elucidate in an earlier post, the older I get, the more I realize that the only way to achieve anything is through perseverance. I have already done everything in this life that comes easy to me – so now I am tackling the stuff that doesn’t. And this movie had some great dialogue and images that help me to continue on that path, especially the one that is making me get fit.

In the spirit of the movie, I dredged out some motivating quotes on effort. I hope they can help you do something that is hard to do:

(list 16) Hard Work Quotes
  1. He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him. ~Dutch Proverb
  2. Many people think they want things, but they don’t really have the strength, the discipline. They are weak. I believe that you get what you want if you want it badly enough. ~Sophia Loren
  3. There are no easy methods of learning difficult things; the method is to close your door, give out that you are not at home, and work. ~Joseph de Maistre
  4. Gift, like genius, I often think only means an infinite capacity for taking pains. ~Jane Ellice Hopkins
  5. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison
  6. Sweat is the cologne of accomplishment. ~Heywood Hale Broun
  7. Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more. ~Edward H. Harriman

As a bonus, here is one that I think a couple of coworkers I have had over the years live by:

If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind. ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

I am finding the concept of working out after work especially hard today. I am tired, work has been wretched this week, and it is raining. I really want the couch, my soft quilt, wavy lays, diet coke, and to watch a good movie. But I am not going to do that.

Two questions for you, dear readers, or the void (if the void now has the ability to e-mail or post comments on a blog):
  1. Does anybody know the quote from the founder of Yahoo about hard work… something like “Hard work has a new definition in the information age – it is doing the things that nobody else wants to do.” I love the quote, read it somewhere, and now I can’t remember where and can’t find it inside the tubes.
  2. What movies inspire you to do the hard things in life? I know about Rocky, but what are some of the others? I will ask NetFlix for them toot sweet.


Today I went to my second Zumba class – an interval Latin dance aerobics thingy. I am probably not the worst person ever at Zumba, but I am probably in the top two. Despite that, I love the class… and I can’t wait until next Saturday when I get to sweat copiously and humiliate myself again. Why? Let me tell you.

In their charming book The Daring Book for Girls, Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz provide a compendium of girlhood that includes everything from how to do a cartwheel to profiles of famous women spies. I really love this book – and there is a particular quote from it that has been stuck in my mind for awhile:

Forget perfect on the first try. In the face of frustration, your best tool is a few deep breaths, and remembering that you can do anything once you’ve practiced two hundred times. Seriously.

When I thought about it, there are many things that I could not do the first time, or the first 50 times, and I had to work at it. Those skills, that knowledge, I treasure much more than the things that came easily to me.
(list 5) Things That I Had To Practice To Get Good At
  1. Organic chemistry formulas.
  2. Flipping pancakes.
  3. The knit stitch.
  4. The perl stitch.
  5. Understanding Philosophy of Science class reading material.
  6. Editing anything.
  7. Getting my corners to match up in a quilt block.
An article last year in New York Magazine explained that new research is demonstrating that it is important for kids to try, try again. In short, only doing things that come easily may make a kid less likely to cope and adapt when they cannot do something well.
I always have had every confidence that I could learn anything I wanted to – from physics to philosophy, if I applied myself. But doing anything athletic was another story. I have always considered myself clumsy, awkward, and winded too easily.
This image of myself has changed drastically in the last few months. I still am clumsy and awkward, but I don’t wind too easily now. And if there is anything I want to do, I can do it. And I will get there. My trainer, Mandy, has a great phrase that captures this idea – Let’s do something to our bodies that makes them change and adapt.
To do anything, I just need to practice 200 times. Or, in the case of Zumba, only 198 more times.