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Wednesday
Mar052014

Is God Plausible?

Photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC” 
~Kurt Vonnegut

Whether or not you believe in a higher power, you've likely had discussions about God's existence. What is one line of thinking--your own or someone else's--that leads you to believe that the existence of God is plausible?

What's the most compelling argument you've heard in favor of the existence of God?

 

Tuesday
Mar042014

Let Go or Be Dragged

Image courtesy of Flickr. If this is your photo, claim it. "If you love someone, set them free. If they come back to you, it's probably because no one else wanted them, either." ~Internet meme

Holding on isn't always the healthiest thing to do, is it? But it's not easy to let go, either. There's an art to knowing when it's time to fish, and when it's time to cut bait. What are five things you really need to let go of in order to become a stronger human being?

1. That grudge against whassername.
2. Perfectionism.
3. The hope that your husband will ever, ever, ever put his dirty clothes in a basket instead of on the floor.
4. Being the "responsible" one.
5. The client who never paid.

List five things you reallllly need to let go of.

Monday
Mar032014

Firing the Bad Cop

Image courtesy of cyril chermin via flickrI pay a bill each month--actually, multiple bills--that give my family access to all kinds of information and the ability to communicate with people around the world. It's a beautiful thing, really. If I want to know what temperature it will be when we arrive at the beach, it's there. If I want to know the name of the guy who invented the whoopee cushion, I can have the answer in seconds--kind of. If I want to know how old Judy Garland was when she played Dorothy, a few keystrokes, and I have my answer. It's almost like magic.

I also have five kids. Great kids. Funny kids. Talented and smart. The combination of the magical worldwide window we call the web and the curious creatures that are children has resulted in a number of interesting and sometimes uncomfortable conversations in our home. As a parent, I feel it's my job to protect my children from unpleasant and potentially damaging media they might encounter when they are young. As a woman, I'm angry that so much of what is broadcast on the Internet is unrealistic and disrespectful toward my gender. My goal, too, as the mother of boys, has been to teach them to see women differently, to treat women differently, to be human beings that reject objectification and embrace intelligence, respect, and the value of a person as a person, complete with thoughts and feelings and a history and a future. 

There's so much stacked against us, though, both guys and gals. Images and stigmas and expectations. 

When my older kids were younger, and I discovered someone looking at porn or reading elicit stuff online, I had two strong and immediate reactions--anger and betrayal. I felt their decisions to ogle naked bodies on a computer screen were a direct insult to me personally. I feared I had failed my children. I feared I had failed my female sisters. I feared I had failed in upholding my ideals in general as a parent and as a woman. Anger, as I have since learned, is a smokescreen for fear, so my first reaction to the person who I had perceived as betraying my trust was, of course, anger. 

I'm sorry now that I expressed such anger and foisted shame on the people I love. I can only plead ignorance in knowing how to handle my feelings of betrayal and embarrassment. I guess I could even say I acted out of laziness. I didn't want to try to communicate because I didn't want to face the embarrassment or put my thoughts into constructive words. It's easier to raise voices and place blame.

By now, I've learned a few things. It certainly took some trial and a lot of error. One of the things I've learned is that calm communication, in any form, is better than anger. Recently, when I suspected one of my younger children of seeking unhealthy images on the Internet, I pushed away the feelings of betrayal and fear and called instead upon reason and empathy. I know what it's like to be curious, and I know what it's like to be shamed. One is a natural part of growing up. The other is a form of control bourne out of laziness and fear. I didn't want this person I love to feel ashamed or distanced from me. I wanted them to be informed, to know they're normal, to understand that there are healthy ways of approaching curiosity and potentially damaging ways of attempting to satisfy what our brains and bodies get all fired up about. 

So I sat down with this person I love, and I said, "Here's the thing. What you're feeling and wondering about is completely normal. There's nothing wrong with wanting to know what bodies look like, what they do, how they fit together, and how that might feel. Everyone wants to know those things. Every. Single. Person. And if they tell you they don't, they're probably lying."

I went on to tell this person I love about the time when, around their age, I stumbled upon a stash of porn belonging to an adult I loved and trusted. There were images there that haunt me to this day, not only because they were completely out of context, and I was unprepared for them, but because they were demeaning to women and to human beings in general. Recalling those images now also recalls the painful memories of how that same adult I loved and trusted one day found a stash of nude drawings I had made and approached me enraged, screaming about how bad I was for drawing them, making me throw them into a steel barrel and set a match to them. I was horrified and, yes, ashamed. I feared that there was something weird about me for being curious and having sexual feelings. For the rest of my adolescence, sex was taboo, a topic I knew would make the people who loved me very angry, possibly even causing them to reject me. 

After I shared that story with this child I love, we talked about being curious, about asking questions to the people you love and trust and not seeking answers through questionable sources like random searches on the internet. I also did something I've heard you should never do--I handed over a book full of information from a source I trusted, a source that offered all kinds of answers, written for this child's reading level. The next day, I asked how it was going, and the child said they had read the ENTIRE book. And liked it! We had a good talk, and now, whether through face-to-face questions, emails, Facebook messages, or texts (no form of communication is invalid), we can talk about the questions. No anger. No fear. No shame. 

Last week, I listened to a podcast I love called The Moth, which is committed to recording true stories, told live on stages across the country, without notes. It features a variety of people from all walks of life, both everyday folks and celebrities. The podcast I listened to included a story by Adam Savage, cohost of one of my family's favorite shows, Mythbusters. Savage approached the subject of raising kids in the age of the Internet with thought, honesty, and humor. In his talk, he shared how he initially went the route of the "bad cop," but then realized it was better to simply discuss the issues.

I'm including the transcript of the talk below, for those who prefer reading over listening, but listen if you can (it's segment one), because his delivery is great.

Bringing things like Internet porn out into the open with honesty, fact, and humor does a fabulous job of crushing shame and insecurity, not just in those we love, but in ourselves, too. It takes away the power of that shame and replaces it with the knowledge that we can talk openly to those we love, those who will support us and love us unconditionally. When we fire the bad cop, we foster great conversations that make positive, lasting impressions.

The Moth: Talking to My Kids About Sex in the Internet Age by Adam Savage

'I have twin boys, Thing One and Thing Two. I have worried, I have worried since before they were born about how to properly prepare them for the world, how to give them the best information to be good humans and have good lives. I think of their brains like computer programs, like computers, and they're running all this custom code. It's not all my code, unfortunately. Only about 10% of the code they're running is mine. The problem is, I don't know which 10%. I have no control over what they prioritize. See, at first, it's really easy, and it's like training dogs, right? With babies, you just accept the behavior you're willing to live with, reject the behavior you're not willing to live with, and there's a lot of fluid cleanup.

But something happened to my kids the moment they started to leave the house for daycare, for kindergarten, for first grade. Two things happened, actually. The first thing is they started getting information from sources other than me. They started running outside code. The second is they started behaving like people that I'd never met before. And I would get this call from school. Is there anything worse as a parent than a call from the school? 'Ah, hello, Adam. This is the school calling. Uh, we just want to let you know that at 2 o'clock today, out in the yard, you failed as a parent.' I'm pretty sure that's what they said.

So, you get them home at the end of the day, you figure, all right. Time for some parenting. You sit them down. What do you talk about? Well, if they stole something, you talk about honesty. If they lied about something you talk about honesty. That's a regular refrain. If they hit someone, you talk about anger management issues, and you use other words, like, 'Use your words.' It's all like you're trying to run code to get them to not do the same behavior the next time.

And how are you doing running that code? From the looks on their faces, I wasn't doing very well. My kids, very early on, perfected this blank stare, this, 'I'm not gonna give you anything to get upset about within these parameters, and I'm just gonna wait for you to be done.' This is not an environment that's conducive to running deep code.

And the stakes are high. I remember being five years old. I remember being in kindergarten and I got pushed off the swing by a classmate named George who was black, and he stood over me while I was out of breath, not even having a breath to cry with because I was in so much pain, and he laughed at me. And I went home, and I asked my mom…I was really unhinged by the fact that he was laughing. Not the injury, but his delight in my injury. My mom sat me down and she said, 'Well, black people have a lot to be angry about with white people. There's long history that's difficult…,' which she explained: slavery and racial matters and everything. I understand what she was doing. She was trying to give me some context. My five-year-old brain doesn't know context. What she said was, 'The situation is bigger than you currently understand.' What I heard was, 'You're part of the problem.' And for the rest of my life, even today, I meet a black person, and some part of my brain goes, 'I hope they realize I'm one of the nice ones.'

So the stakes are high. But what can you do? You get the call from school, you bring the kid home, you talk to him. Somewhere in the fourth grade, we hit the real talk. Apparently, according to the daycare teacher, my son, Thing Two, had gathered his friends around him, and said, 'Come here. I've got something to tell you.' Clearly inspired by one of the inappropriate movies I had taken him to. He explained that, 'when you get older, you get a girlfriend, and you have sex with her.' Like it's a bar mitzvah gift.

So I get this call, and I figure, alright. Time for the sex talk. Feels a little early, but alright. I sit them down on the couch in front of me, and I say, 'So, you know, guys, this happened, and I just want to know, what do you know about sex? Do you know what sex really is,' and they're like, 'Yeah, we totally know, Dad. We totally know. We have no idea. None.' I'm like, okay, good. No reason not to be technical, so I go into some fairly great details about their private parts, what they are, how they work, what they do, where they go, and I'm embarrassed,too.

Two things are happening with them. One of them is that they each grab a pillow and hold it in front of them like a giant shield. It's hilarious. Clutching it. This look on their face. I look up, and I see the look on their face, and that look is one of undivided attention. It's full of terror and embarrassment, too, but attention.

And in that second, I become a complete fan of talking to my kids about sex. When else am I going to run code this pure, this deep, on a level that's really getting to them? So we have a bunch more sex talks over the next few years. And they go fine! I say some funny things, I say some real things, I think I'm really getting to them, but the whole time, all I'm really thinking about is how to approach this aspect of their lives that I didn't have to deal with when I was a kid. The Internet. We didn't have 24/7 delivery of porn to every device strapped to our bodies. Don't get me wrong. I wanted that. But I had to find my porn by the side of the highway, and I was grateful.

So I'm about to tell you about the experience of catching my kids surfing porn, and I'm gonna tell you one kid's story, but the thing you should know--both kids' stories are nearly identical, except for a couple of details. In both cases, I got an email late on Sunday night from their mom, who I'm divorced from--we share custody--sending me a linkdom, probably just before her computer was totally crippled by malware, of their search terms. As a side note, I have my children's first porn search terms. It's like almost better than their first steps. Thing Two's first search term? Nudies. Not what he was looking for. Turns out to be some sort of areola-hiding garment for sheer dresses.

The other thing, Thing Two was the first one to be caught, and the other difference between the two of them is I attempted to play 'bad cop' with Thing Two, and I was met with a complete stonewall. And then I thought about it, and I realized, I'm not really that angry about what happened. I'm mean, actually pretty sanguine about it, and we could talk about it.

So when it came around to Thing One, I didn't go through 'bad cop.' He merely got in the back of my car, and as we drove to breakfast early Sunday morning, I said, 'Listen. What you did is totally reasonable. Being curious about what people look like naked is a rational and normal response to the world, and it is a reasonable curiosity for you to have. No one's in trouble, and I'm not mad. Now, is there something you want to tell me.' And there's this pause in the back seat, that pause you know as a parent means, 'Ahhh. I've got them.' And he says, 'I searched for big boobs!' Somewhere in my head is an interrogation room and a two-way mirror behind which two detectives are high fiving that I've just nailed the perp. And I start to talk to him about what he saw, and how he felt about what he saw.

But, again, all I'm thinking about, really, is the 800-lb gorilla in the room. Not what he saw, but what he's gonna see.

So I tell him, 'You gotta be careful out there. It's reasonable to be curious, but your curiosity is gonna pay off really, really unpleasant dividends pretty quickly.'

He's like, 'What do you mean?'

'Well, there's some really awful stuff out there. Genuinely, genuinely awful stuff.'

And I see it in his eyes. Actual curiosity. That's bad. I don't want that.

So I tell him, 'You're going to see things you will never be able to unsee. Things that will stick in your brain and ruin moments for you because they'll show up and screw over your brain because it won't be able to think about anything else but that horrible thing you saw once when you were 12.'

And now I see fear in his eyes, and I realize he's 10 or 11, and I'm still reasonably omnipotent. I've maybe scared him away from the Internet for a year, but not much longer than that. So how am I gonna prepare him for what he eventually sees? I thought about myself at his age. I thought about my classmates, Caesar Ortega, bringing a skin mag to middle school, and showing us pictures that I found upsetting, and I thought, what would I have wanted to hear at that moment? What would have helped me with that?

And then I thought about my mom trying to give my five-year-old brain some context about racism in the United States. This conversation between my mom and I occurred only seven years after the Civil Rights Act had passed. This stuff was fresh and is fresh to our generation, and I think about that in direct contrast to the blissful lack of racism in my own children, who have been lucky enough to grow up in such a diverse, liberal city as San Francisco. And then I think, this is where cultural change really occurs, generationally. And if the stakes are this high, I better get this right. I better be concise and succinct.

And then it hits me what I'm supposed to say, and I say:

'The thing you've gotta understand, Bud, is the Internet hates women.'

And I recognize there's probably those out there who are thinking that's an incredibly broad brush to pain the Internet with, but let me put it this way. If you could look into someone's brain the way you search the Internet, and the Internet was a dude? That dude has a problem with women.

I realize this is the code that I wanna run, and he's old enough to run it. I want him to realize that, even by the chance dint of his gender, if he's not part of the solution, he might very well be part of the problem, and I want him thinking, when he talks to women, 'I'm one of the good ones.' 

Thursday
Feb202014

Comfort

Photo courtesy of megapixx via Flickr.

"There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, 'Do trousers matter?'"
"The mood will pass, sir."
-- P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters
The softest hoodie ever--the one you borrowed from your college roommate seven years ago.
The concert t-shirt you once wore for three days in a row.
That pair of sweats that are on their last leg but you just can't bear to get rid of them because they're so doggone comfy.

I have them, too. Those go-to pieces of clothing I slip into after a not-so-comfy day.

I also have go-to choices that make me feel comfy. Things I say. Things I don't. Personality traits I hide around certain people. I used to be more intentional about this than I am now. I used to make conscious chameleon-like choices based on who I was around--their beliefs or personalty types. Not so much now. I've realized that I'm much happier being who I am, genuinely, around most everyone, and I have more real friends, not just people who are part of my life because they think I belong to a certain demographic group.

It's not always easy to be transparent, to attempt daily authenticity. The key for me, I think, is to remember to be kind--not to get wrapped up in the opinion, issue, or argument and forget about the real, human, person. That's especially difficult when communicating with the type of person whose value and security seems to come from being "right." I should know. I've struggled with being that person (big surprise, huh?). Being right is not more important than being respectful. It took me a long time to get that through my granite head. I'm still working on it. 

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. Matthew 5:5

Yet, there's also a delicate balance between being respectful and being honest. I have strong opinions about Jesus and money and sanctity of life. I don't stand on a platform (often) or shout them at people's faces, but I'll enter into an honest, respectful dialogue when the conversation veers naturally in that direction. It's hard, because those are hot buttons. Not many people want to hear that Jesus was more of a communist than a capitalist*, or that God doesn't bless America any more or less than God blesses any other hunk of dirt on the planet, or that the money Christians give as a tithe is supposed to care for the widowed, orphaned, and poor among us, not to building basketball courts and empty steeples and unnecessary vacationary trips. The Bible has a ton more to say about casual, incestuous sex, caring for the poor, and rejecting war and violence than it has to say about homosexuality or abortion. In fact, female homosexuality isn't even mentioned in the Old Testament. These are all complicated conversations with no easy answers, so it's sometimes easier to slip into that comfy college sweatshirt or tattered jeans and say nothing.  

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Romans 12: 9-10
 

One of my favorite songwriters, David Wilcox, says his job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. He has a great song called To Love which is a fine example of how he practices his comfort/affliction craft. The crux of it is this--Jesus gave us one commandment--to love.** It might not be a comfortable commandment, or a convenient commandment, but, still, there it is. Our task. What we Christians have been told to do. Jesus had some pretty solid ways of following through with that commandment, too. Those ways guide and inspire and confuse and challenge me every single day of my life, whether I'm dealing with people related to me, or people I don't know at all, with people living next to me, or on the other side of the world, those who think the way I do, and those who don't.***

It's difficult to live with the constant reminder that every single person on this earth has value and purpose, that each one is loved by God, because that means I have to live and act with purpose and with love, too, no matter what. 
*Matthew 19:16:
Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”
The man asked, “What in particular?”
Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”
The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”
“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”
That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.

Deuteronomy 15:4-11
There must be no poor people among you because God is going to bless you lavishly in this land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance, your very own land. But only if you listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, diligently observing every commandment that I command you today. Oh yes—God, your God, will bless you just as he promised. You will lend to many nations but won’t borrow from any; you’ll rule over many nations but none will rule over you.
When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. Don’t count the cost. Don’t listen to that selfish voice saying, “It’s almost the seventh year, the year of All-Debts-Are-Canceled,” and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He’ll call God’s attention to you and your blatant sin.
Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.

Romans 12:20-21
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Luke 11:41
Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.

**Matthew 22:34-40
When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
Jesus said, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Matthew 5: 38–48
"Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Luke 6:27-38
"To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.
“I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

***Romans 14: 1
Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

Romans 14:10-12
So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. 
Tuesday
Feb182014

Breakfast


Photo by cobalt123 via Flickr

Here's what I'm really bad about. Breakfast. It's not that I don't like breakfast. I mean, hello! Bacon? Buttery toast? Fresh fruit? Fried potatoes? WAFFLES?!?

But, still, I can't seem to get myself in gear enough to eat that stuff while it's still morning, let alone make it. When morning comes, the habit is to hang around in bed and read or write until it's not reasonable to be there any longer. When I do hit the floor, I hit it running. Laundry, vaccum, write some more. On work-away days, I keep the covers pulled up to my chin until the last possible second, and then I rush, rush, rush to shower, gather my things, check email, put on my makeup, check email again, put on shoes, take a stroll through social media land, then run to the car with, if I'm lucky, a cup of yogurt or a granola bar or an apple in my hand. Usually not, though. Usually, I don't eat breakfast until...well, until lunch. 

I know, I know. Don't tsk tsk me. I don't know why I do it. I think it's guilt. I think that, because I love food, I can't allow myself the pleasure of eating before I get the "important" things done. Food equals pleasure, and I don't deserve pleasure if I haven't earned it. Messed up, right? Don't think I don't see it.

There was a period of time when I forced myself to eat. Told myself it was more important to feed my body than paint my face or answer email before work. But old habits won't easily let you leave them for better, younger, more attractive habits, unless you have a really good game plan. My game plan is to keep almonds, pistachios, pomegranates, clementine oranges, bananas, little cups of applesauce, and fig bars on my desk. And then I make myself stop what I'm doing and eat them. If I'm being very disciplined, I make myself eat them sloooowwwly while doing nothing else, except maybe reading. When I do that, the rest of the day (surprise!) goes much better.

On good days, I can follow a healthy routine. Get out of bed. Make said bed. Eat food. Clothe myself. Write. Hug my kids. Write. Tell someone I love them. Write some more. Call some people. Clean a few things. Eat again. Listen to a podcast. Read. Shower. These are simple things that improve my quality of life instead of letting life run away without me, yelling "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" as it races to the sunset. 

Lemony Snicket said, “Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” Then again, John Kennedy Toole, author of A Confederacy of Dunces, said, "I avoid that bleak first hour of the working day during which my still sluggish senses and body make every chore a penance. I find that in arriving later, the work which I do perform is of a much higher quality.”

So, with that in mind, what are three things you can do first thing in the morning that will improve your quality of life? Is it to get one more hour of sleep? To hop out of bed at the first light of dawn? To read some Willa Cather or Dorothy Parker? To make a pot of soup? Or to listen to some Bee Gees and watch some figure skating? What works for you?