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Anti-aggravation Week #2: Make 'em Fix It

Renters, call your landlord and report that broken stuff they're supposed to keep working.

Home-owners and those with more strict lease agreements, bring in a pro and just get the most irritating home flaw taken care of.

You deserve to live without dripping faucets, broken doorbells, dead stove burners, holes in walls, and similar nonsense.

Posted on November 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Anti-aggravation Week #1: Just Fix The Little Thing

Something around the house bugging you? Are you being held back from doing a particular thing or using favorite stuff because of some minor breakage or missing piece?

Just take care of it.

Sew that button back on. Replace that broken drawer pull. Buy a new backpack that doesn't have a broken zipper. Replace the damn lightbulb already.

It'll take less than half an hour and it will finally quit annoying you.

Posted on November 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Party Day!

Today I encourage you to have a good time. Let go of worries: attend, plan, and/or host a party!

Even if it's just you & a few friends playing board games, going to a movie or otherwise playing together, get your party mindset on and enjoy!

Tiaras may help.

Posted on November 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Feel the fear and do it anyway, relationship edition

Sometimes it's very scary to consider revealing your feelings and fears. You know, those parts of yourself you aren't so proud of and those things you have figured out are the potential weak spots for keeping it all tickety-boo with this sweetheart?

This is that terror territory where life can get harder, things could turn out to be dealbreakers, all kinds of uncomfortableness could arise and it's just so easy and tempting to stay in the safe zone.

At some point to get things better and stronger and more rewarding with a partner you must venture out of what feels pleasant and predictable. Have some deeper conversations. Share some fears. Expose some vulnerabilities. Talk about what you really want, what you really really want.

There are levels of intimacy you can't fall up into; you have to climb.

It's worth it.

Posted on November 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)


Heather's comment on my post about always learning was a great example of the principle of sharing group knowledge. As I was writing it, I was thinking "hmm, really should put in something about determining the authority of sources, but maybe that's a post of its own..." and then - cool! - she came back with that bit that was needed to help round out the post.

I encourage you to use tools and conversational techniques that provide an opening for others to weigh in with their knowledge. Blogs with comments on, wikis, giving other people a chance to talk in meetings, asking leading questions when you know someone has knowledge they could share, giving credit where credit is due, all of these are good ways to create better experiences for everyone involved.

Posted on November 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Catch yourself at your own games

"Vanity is so secure in the heart of man that everyone wants to be admired: even I who     write this, and you who read this."
     - Blaise Pascal

Everyone seeks affirmation of their worth. Keep an eye on how you go about it and see if you avoid being conniving.

I don't think anyone can really be completely self-sufficient - even the most confident people I know get unsure and feel restored by praise or imitation or attraction - so accept your need for some admiration. Then go about getting it as honestly as you can.

I probably hardly need say that this is particularly important when it comes to relationships, eh? Don't make you partner do a little dance for your love; give freely and accept graciously that which is genuine and caring.

Posted on November 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cultivate Your Habits of Learning

I grew up in one of those wonderful families where when a question came up, then out came the big dictionary or the encyclopedia or the atlas or all three to try to figure the answer.

My mother told me that when she was a kid on Sunday's after church they'd come home, break out the Interpreter's Bible and look at the different ways the particular pieces of scripture quoted that day had been translated and discussed over time.

One of my fond memories of my grandfather, her father, is his insatiable thirst for knowledge and particularly for the origin of words and idiomatic expressions. Many times since his death I've encountered something and wished I could share it with him or ask him if he's heard about it; those moments make me sad, but also happy because I know I'm celebrating a curiosity about life that is a great memorial to him.

When you say to yourself "Hmm, I wonder..." don't just stop there; see if you can learn the answer.

With the web we've got so many great and easy to use resources, there's just no excuse not to keep stretching your brain every day.

For example, I was just wondering if seltzer water and club soda and soda water are all the same thing. Well here's the Wikipedia article on carbonated water. They are the same, it turns out, but different ones may have differing amounts of added salts, including none at all. Reading further though, I discover a paragraph about the discovery of a method of carbonation by Joseph Priestley in the course of various experiements and that reminds me of an amazing painting I saw in London: Experiment on a Bird in the Airpump. Reading further I find a link to the transcript of a marvelous NPR interview with the last seltzer delivery man in New York City. Now when I pour some bubbly water I'll probably think about the way people still 250 years later have such varied reactions to science or perhaps about Trafalgar Square or about paintings with a particular quality of light or about New York or about old people's kitchens and the things they make for you or about changing professions. How marvelous a transformation to make on an ordinary old can of seltzer water!

Posted on November 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Teach others to discard SHOUTING ONLINE

Dear friends, won't you help me spread this good idea of Heather Champ's?


We all have people in our lives who WRITE IN ALL CAPS. They mean well, in fact they're lovely people who either are enduring a horrific keyboard malfunction or don't know any better. Chances are that we'll all be spending some "quality" time with them in the weeks leading up to the new year, perhaps gathering around candles, trees or turkeys.

I propose that we all take a few moments to spread the peace and love of a world devoid of ALL CAPS emails, posts, comments, etc. Just think of what a beautiful world it would be...

Failing that, take a knife and pop that "caps lock" sucker of their keyboard, tuck it in your pocket and run like mad (back to the turkey, ham, etc.). Those of us, like myself who work in Customer Care, will be ever grateful for your endeavours.

I am mercifully not so afflicted in my immediate family, but I, alas, can't claim never to encounter it in my work...

Posted on November 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

You Don't Have To Be Pretty

You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked "female".

Read more of Erin McKean of A Dress A Day's fabulous essay on the place fashion should take in your priorities.

Guys, please write the male counterpart to this in the comments. Is it just "you don't have to act macho" or can we get to a more specific aspect like "rugged", "tough", "strong"? What is that constraint that brings down the social pressure when you're too gentle and soft?

[Thanks to my good friend Anil for the link and for being the kind of guy who likes to read a post like that and wants to share it]

Posted on November 12, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Soup Day!

Hooray! Soup Day!

Make soup today.

If you don't know how to make soup, it's Learn to Make Soup Day. Have a stone soup party if you don't have a recipe you've been wanting to try.

Posted on November 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4)

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