3:30 Thursday, Projects

Try a Podcast!

The 3:30 project is a collaborative blog by three lifelong friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. This week, we’re going to share a recommendation for a favorite podcast that we enjoy listening to!


Maggie

I don’t watch television. I don’t have cable in my house. I don’t even have the bunny ears set up so I can watch the local news when there’s a hurricane. Instead, I occasionally watch The Magic School Bus and animated kids’ movies on Netflix and listen to podcasts.

I am a huge fan of podcasts. In fact, I organize a large portion of my life around listening to my favorite shows and hearing the interesting stories, news, ideas and insights from people I’m interested in and admire.

The first podcast I ever subscribed to, and probably my favorite podcast is by writer, Gretchen Rubin and her sister, Elizabeth Craft. It’s called, “Happier.” 

Each episode has a delightful tip to try at home: make your bed, go on an errand date, plan your summer, keep a one sentence journal. Happiness hacks like how to store your toilet paper in a small bathroom. And interesting conversations about Happiness stumbling blocks that come up for many people.

They aren’t addressing the deeper ills of society, but rather the nagging things that come up day after day that can either boost us up or drag us down. Their conversations are lively, engaging and most of all useful. It’s true – I’m happier when I make my bed every morning; I feel better when I tackle nagging tasks; and it really bugs me when I don’t have a place to keep my toilet paper.

In fact, I think it’s thanks to Gretchen’s inspiration that I was eager to start this blog with Mary Margaret and Jillian – it boosts my happiness to see their words every week and gives me a reason to stay in touch with them!

Coffee Break Podcast
subscribe at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/my-coffee-break-podcast/id1249557075

Also – I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that all of my podcast listening has inspired me to start a podcast, too! My husband and I enjoy drinking coffee and talking to each other. So, we’ve started a podcast, which just like this blog, has given me a big happiness boost. I’ve had to figure out new challenges: how do you submit a podcast to iTunes, what’s an RSS feed, how do I get a logo, is there music I can use without violating copyright laws, and, most of all, how do I get myself to stop saying “um” when we’re recording; and it’s given us something fun to collaborate on together, which I’m sure sounds crazy since we own a business together, but a lot of times we work in parallel rather than together, so this is a nice way to connect.

So, if you’re not a podcast listener, try subscribing to a few and giving them a listen! It’s a delightful medium – kind of like radio, but whenever you want, and you can press pause!


Mary Margaret 

Thank goodness for podcasts. I’ve become extremely addicted to them while doing daywork at Broadway theatres, because those are three to four hour spans of time where I’m basically alone in dressing rooms prepping clothes (ironing, steaming, sewing repairs) for the evening performance of the show. What to do with my mind while I check countless pant hems and ferret out loose buttons? Podcasts are absolutely my friends.

I’ve mentioned several on the blog already that I enjoy, including ‘This American Life’ and ‘Reply All,’ but I’ll also add another new favorite I’ve been enjoying, thanks to my co-blogger Maggie Penton: ‘Pantsuit Politics.’ This is a twice-weekly conversation between two women—a progressive and a conservative—tackling the political topics of the day, striving to introduce “nuance” to each of their conversations. I like listening to these southern ladies, because they are educated, with backgrounds in law, but they aren’t reporters, living in Washington, or ensconced in the bubble of a full-time political career. They are moms and wives, active members of their communities— one of them works in the business world, the other serves as a local City Commissioner. They attempt to provide research, background and context for the issues they discuss, strive for balance, and also authentically express where they land on certain issues. When an issue is asking for more background in order to facilitate discussion, they even put together special episodes called “primers” to help people understand the history of a certain issue. These women push back at one another’s various opinions in a non-confrontational, non-insulting way. It feels like a mutually respectful discussion between friends, but without rambling, (which while completely fine for normal conversation, can be tedious in some other podcast opinion shows I’ve listened to.)

Since most of politics now feels so polarizing and negative, I have found listening to these women to be a very healthy way to consume news. They are real voices, not playing characters or striving for satire (which granted can also be fun and have a place in our public discourse) talking about things that matter to them. Rather than pushing an agenda, they’re earnest and clearly motivated by their personal values. They started the podcast with the worthy goal of inciting dialogue and increasing empathy, which seems like a monumental task in the current climate. But I’d like to travel with them on that journey, and if that sounds appealing to you as well, I think you’d enjoy listening to Sarah from the left and Beth from the right!


Jillian

Maggie and Mary Margaret have shared some really smart, informative podcasts about self-betterment or current events and to all of those I say YAWN.

When it comes to podcasts, it better be about MURDER or ALIENS or I’m not interested.

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Here are the podcasts I listen to, and highly recommend:

King Falls AM: Y’all. Y’ALL. Check out King Falls AM, it is so wonderful. This one is a fictional radio serial (how retro!!) about an urban radio broadcaster who moves to a small town that turns out to be a hotbed of paranormal activity. Before long he finds himself at the center of a weird mystery, and hilarious hijinks and creepy encounters ensue. It’s like the lovechild of the War of the Worlds broadcast, the X-Files, and the Cat Who mysteries. It’s perfection, and the voice acting is delightful. It’s literally the best thing on the internet.

My Favorite Murder: You might have heard of this one – it was featured on Buzzfeed not that long ago. It’s a comedy podcast about true crime – murder in particular – which sounds weird, but if you listen, you’ll find it totally makes sense. For those who love true crime and love to laugh about their weird love of true crime, it’s perfect. Hosted by two hilarious women, it’s also got a humorously empowering vibe, with catchphrases like “f*** politeness,” “stay sexy, don’t get murdered,” and “you’re in a cult, call your dad.”

giphy-downsized

Astonishing Legends: The hosts of Astonishing Legends research and present only the weirdest stories from history, both recent and distant. Some of their series are mainly historical, like the one on the disappearance of Amelia Earhart (give it a listen – it’s much weirder than you probably know!), and others explore stories of the paranormal, such as the haunted Greyfriar’s Kirkyard in Scotland, the Mothman encounters, or Skinwalker Ranch. (Guys, just fyi, you should be at least as concerned about skinwalkers as about supervolcanoes. Which, if you’re me, is very concerned.) Most involve a nice blend of both, such as the Oak Island Money Pit, the ghost ship Mary Celeste and the Dyatlov Pass mystery.

Up and Vanished: If you liked Serial, and you enjoy a good southern drawl, then you’ll love Up and Vanished by novice documentary filmmaker Payne Lindsay. This podcast investigates the disappearance of Tara Grinstead, the largest criminal case file in all of Georgia, which has gone unsolved for more than 10 years. A suspect was indicted mid-season, but the podcast is still continuing to explore a number of strange apparent inconsistencies with the state’s case and with the testimonies of witnesses and townsfolk. The case gets creepier every episode. I’m not sure Lindsay makes an ethically responsible journalist, but he’s definitely a great storyteller.

Happy listening! And remember…

The truth is out there.

3:30 Thursday, Projects

Summer Reading!

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. The three of us have all been life-long readers! This week, we wanted to share a book recommendation from a book we’ve enjoyed in our 30th year!


Maggie

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

Ever since I graduated from college, I’ve struggled to get myself to read fiction. I have found that there are so many things I’ve needed to learn how to do to be an adult and own a business that I feel like all my reading time must be devoted to figuring out how to adult.

But, earlier this year, I picked up The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to read with my four-year-old daughter. I was doubtful about whether or not she would be into a chapter book with so many words and so few pictures, but I was delighted by how engaged she became in the story! She loved Dorothy, the Scare Crow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Man! And I was delighted to read this story. I’ve seen the movie (and the play), but I’d never read the book! It was so fun to see how the original book differed from the movie. Also, it reminded me of what I love about fiction: getting to see imaginary worlds, enjoy a story and learn a lesson about how often we have the things we seek, if only we knew how to use what we have.

So, whether it’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz or another story, I’d recommend you revisit a classic from your childhood (or perhaps a classic that you missed!). And…if you can, enjoy the book with a young and enthusiastic reading buddy!


Mary Margaret

The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

My summer book recommendation is actually a series of 4 novels, translations of works by Italian author, Elena Ferrante, which is actually her pseudonym. To me, these are a perfect series to fall in love with over the summer, since once I met these characters,  I enjoyed following their journey through time and age with each successive novel, so happy that I wasn’t done with their story once I put down the first book! I’ve been thinking back frequently on these books right now, since I’m working on a show with two Italian immigrant characters from Naples- a husband and wife living in Brooklyn in 1960 with their three daughters. Their complicated family dynamics have been more deeply illuminated for me having read the novels, giving me a greater understanding of the relationships and the world that these parents come from. These novels are great for readers who enjoy character/relationship-driven writing, who enjoy reading about times and places that are somewhat unknown to them (in this case, southern Italy in the period following WWII) and who especially enjoy reading about the complexities of the female psyche. Ferrante expertly paints complicated and absorbing portraits of women’s relations to their friends, moms, husbands, lovers, children, friends, and enemies, spanning from childhood to old age. Additionally, the translation is far from stilted or awkward, but often feels poetic, much credit given to translator Ann Goldstein. I’m grateful that my roommate lent me this series to fall in love with, and definitely recommend it to you. Once you put down the fourth book, though, I have little advice on how to work through your own Neapolitan novel withdrawal! Hmmm…I guess I’d suggest reading the books Maggie and Jillian recommend!


Jillian

When the year began I was already pregnant and in the middle of a degree program in Computer Science. So unless you are also pregnant, or also learning Java, I have little to offer in the way of book recommendations.

The one book I’ve been reading this year that has some universal appeal is They F*** You Up by psychologist Oliver James. James examines the “nature vs. nurture” debate and argues that the influence of parenting in the development of personality has been grossly underestimated. In fact, he argues that virtually all an adult’s behavioral and thought patterns are rooted in the way they were parented, even in cases of mental illness (which has been thought – wrongly, in James’s opinion – to be closely linked to genetics).

The book has some great insights into what makes people think and act the way they do. While it could be tempting to read it as a guide to blaming your parents for all your problems, James frequently encourages the reader not to do so. Instead, he hopes that you’ll use the insights from the book to take responsibility for changing those patterns from your childhood that don’t serve you in healthy ways.

The book has one very weird and very obvious flaw, in my view – which is that James interprets the “nature” in “nature vs. nurture” to mean genes. James sets up every single issue as being either a matter of genes or a matter of parenting. He believes that the role of genes has been overblown, and his evidence is compelling. But to propose parenting as the only alternative explanation seems bafflingly short-sighted. Plenty of things are natural without being genetic. Refusing to acknowledge that simple fact leads James to make some downright offensive assertions about sensitive matters like mental illness, sexuality, and working mothers. For instance, he declares that since there is no “gay gene,” that homosexuality is “caused” by abnormal parenting. James’s theories also seem to be wholly critical of working mothers. And when “science” appears to affirm all of society’s already entrenched ideas of sex and gender, that’s an obvious red flag.

If you’re able to dismiss the offensive parts without being too upset by them, there’s some interesting tidbits about family roles, discipline, sibling relationships, etc. It’s sparked some good conversations between my husband and me about the kind of parents we want to be. So if you think your parents might have f***ed you up, or if you’re terrified of f***ing up your children, like I am, then you might get something out of this book.

But as for turning your kid gay? Come on. That’s not a thing.

3:30 Thursday, Projects

First do no harm…

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. We have all had our own experiences with our health care system. This week, Maggie and Mary Margaret are reflecting on their perspectives on health care as a right and our societal duty to the sick.


Maggie

Just over three years ago on the day after Thanksgiving, my husband and I had a conversation with my in-laws over Skype. We talked about our holiday, our plans to visit over Christmas, and how nice it had been to see everyone at my sister’s wedding the week before. The next day, my father-in-law was admitted to the hospital through the emergency room. He had severe chest pain on the upper right side, and when he got to the ER my blood pressure was dangerously low and dropping. They couldn’t figure out what exactly was wrong, but his conditioned worsened quickly. That afternoon he was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. The next day, my husband rushed to Atlanta to be with his family in case his father didn’t make it.

My father-in-law had contracted a rare condition called necrotising fasciitis, with an even more rare complication called blood sepsis. Necrotising fasciitis, which means flesh eating disease, is when a bacteria starts destroying your skin cells. His condition affects about 4 in every 1,000,000 people in the United States every year. 30% of those affected die. Blood sepsis is when the bacteria enter your blood stream and start destroying your blood cells and internal organs, whereby the mortality rate leaps up to 80%. My father-in-law started out in reasonably good health without any of the risk factors – a compromised immune system, cancer, drug use, etc. that tend to accompany this disease and make it harder for your body to recover. Still, he spent a terrifying month in ICU, another month hospitalized in step down and rehab units, and months recovering at home before he could resume his life.

Each day that he held on to life was a miracle. But when I think about that experience, there were many miracles that made his recovery possible. It’s miraculous that he got treatment so quickly, that he was in a hospital with an ICU equipped to perform the multiple surgeries he needed to remove necrotic (dead) tissue and that none of the surgeries had any disastrous complications. It’s miraculous that he had nurses and doctors who were willing to keep fighting for him even while the odds were so heavily against him. It’s miraculous that while his organs were failing he had machines breathing for him, feeding him, cleaning his blood, and catching his waste. It’s miraculous that he had a month of paid vacation and sick time, so his family had less financial hardship while he was recovering. It’s miraculous that he had the protection of medical leave so he could take six months off from work and still return to his job when he was well. It’s miraculous that he had health insurance without a life time cap, so that my mother-in-law never had to make a decision about his care based on whether or not it was “cost effective.”

When we talk about healthcare in this country, we use terms like pre-existing conditions, co-pays, deductibles, primary care providers, in-network coverage, referrals, etc. We sanitize our language and forget that we’re talking about people whose lives have been disrupted by injury, disease or chronic illness. We’re talking about people who need treatment, compassion, support and dignity.

When I think about how fragile our bodies really are, I am humbled. My father-in-law’s journey through illness and recovery reminds me that this could and probably will happen to all of us or someone we love. Maybe you won’t know one of the people who experiences necrotizing fasciitis and blood sepsis, but you may know one of the people who faces cancer, stroke, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, old age, lung disease or some mystery ailment that defies diagnosis.

We need to remember when we talk about the injured, sick or chronically ill people in our society that these people are not “bad people” who aren’t taking care of themselves. We’re talking about our neighbors, friends and family members. They’re just people who’ve done the best they can with their lives and deserve to have their shot at a miracle recovery.


Mary Margaret

“My understanding is that (the new proposal) will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool. That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they’re healthy, they’ve done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people—who’ve done things the right way—that are seeing their costs skyrocketing.”

-Rep. Mo Brooks, R-AL in an interview this week with CNN’s Jake Tapper

I wrote an entirely different post for this week—and maybe someday I’ll find a use for those other musings—but current events compelled a change of course. The scrambling effort to do something (anything!) on the long-promised issue of healthcare, led the US House to a vote repealing the Affordable Care Act (by no means a perfect piece of legislation), only to replace it with an even less popular, less promising bill. While my concern is tempered by the knowledge that any repeal or replace still has to make a long, slow journey through the US Senate before becoming law, I’m still deeply troubled by the action and its surrounding conversation.

Before people had a firm understanding of cellular biology, before powerful microscopes revealed viruses to the human eye, before science made firm the link between microorganisms and the spread of disease, illness and disability were commonly viewed this way: people fell sick because they were bad. In Dickensian London, the filthy, overpopulated neighborhoods along the Thames were ravaged by disease as punishment for moral depravity…as opposed to sewage-polluted water, tainted foods, and other environmental and microbial causes.

The idea has Biblical roots; Judeo-Christian tradition understands the infirmities and limitations of the body as a direct result of our sinfulness—our fallen human condition. As illustrated clearly in John’s Gospel, when right before Jesus miraculously restores the sight of a blind man, his disciples inquire: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The implication is that disability is punishment for “bad living”— he or his parents hadn’t gone through life “the right way.”

It’s a comforting fantasy to think we’ve evolved past ancient times, Pre-Victorian London, or the ideas that prevailed during this country’s AIDS crisis, with its widespread attitudes that homosexuals were dying and suffering as retribution for their sinful lifestyle. To hear a modern legislator equate sickness and medical need with moral failing actually reveals how little we’ve changed the conversation By this dichotomy, the healthy are righteous, the sick are undeserving, and the federal government must step in to protect the interests of the healthy and blessed “good.”

I don’t know exactly what role I believe government should play in healthcare, but I do know I vehemently reject my lawmakers carrying such toxic, misguided viewpoints into their decision-making. With all the talk about preexisting conditions, we must truly face the reality that we all have one—maybe call it our pre-existential condition. It is our humanness! Like the ancients, I also believe that we ail because of our sin, but I do not believe it is personal. Jesus does not lay fault with the man or his parents, yet the man was still born blind; so where’s the blame? Is the sin with the child who develops diabetes growing up in a poor neighborhood with little access to nutritious food, or is the sin more with the society that hasn’t equally prioritized certain populations and the health of its youngest members?

Representative Brooks, I certainly believe in personal responsibility, and I believe we are sick because of our failings, but I do not believe in the cause-and-effect personal relationship between goodness and health you describe. Yes, we are sick because we haven’t lived good lives. Also, our neighbors are sick because we haven’t lived good lives. Which leads me to my more important point regarding our policy makers and healthcare: if you can accept the collective culpability of a sin-sick humanity, you must also recognize the collective responsibility of that humanity to care for one another. If we all make each other sick, we must all play a part in making each other well.

 

3:30 Thursday, Projects

May the 4th Be With You…and Other Made-Up Holidays

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. May 4 has now become a sort of pop-culture faux Star Wars holiday, with a now annual tradition of people channeling their inner Yoda and flooding the Internet with punny memes saying “May the 4th Be With You.” This week we look at unconventional holidays—those created and recognized by the wider culture, or maybe just ones we’ve made up ourselves.


Maggie

One of my favorite writers is Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, Happier at Home and Better than Before. One of her tips for being happier is to commemorate minor holidays – St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. As I mentioned on Easter, I do not excel at celebration, gift giving, or any other holiday traditions. That may be why I love the low-pressure nature of a silly or unofficial holiday that you can commemorate with an action, movie or talking in a funny way. I find that Gretchen is right and that it does give me a boost in happiness to celebrate for no reason and have special days to commemorate things like Star Wars, pi, Aunts and Pirates.

Some of my favorites (I’ve included lots of hyperlinks in case you want to learn more about all of my favorite minor holidays and celebrations!)

Google Doodles – I love that google creates a fun illustration or game to honor a person or event that I may have otherwise overlooked. I usually take the time to look up the event, person or occasion when there’s a new google doodle. One of my favorites was the google doodle commemorating the 155th Anniversary of the Pony Express!

May the 4th – Today! A day to celebrate all things Star Wars! I love the enthusiasm and creativity the Star Wars Universe inspires in people of all ages. I love the fan fiction, the costumes, the lore. So, May the 4th be with you!

star-wars-day-games-tall-1

Pi Day: March 14 (3/14). Pi (Greek letter “π”) is a constant that represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter. It’s an irrational number meaning it’s never ending, but thanks the the beauty of homophones, it sounds a lot like
“pie,” a tasty treat in the shape of a circle! As a lover of math, Pi Day is obviously one of my favorite informal holidays! To celebrate a little late, check out these math puzzles from my favorite math writer (yes, those exist!), Alex Bellos!

Aunties Day! The 3rd Sunday in July (which this year will be July 23rd) – I found out about this emerging holiday earlier this year. I know that my daughters have some very special aunts (and honorary aunts) for whom I’m so grateful. We have days to celebrate mother’s, father’s, grandparents and even siblings, so I love having a day to celebrate all the wonderful things aunts bring to our lives!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day: September 19- Argghhhhh Mateys! Okay, I know Pirates are actually really bad. They steal, kidnap and do all manner of bad things, and it is probably bad for our society that they’ve been so romanticized in our collective imagination. But, I’m a big fan of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” kind of swashbuckling pirate fun, and I love that there’s a day to celebrate it!

3:30 Day – on March 30th, we at the 3:30 project celebrated 3:30 day for the first time ever, but hopefully not the last! I love having a day to celebrate my wonderful friends and our collaboration is a great source of joy for me! To me, a 3:30 Thursday (if you haven’t noticed, we post on Thursdays!) – is like the opposite of Friday the 13th! A day when lucky things are bound to happen!

Another day I celebrate is October 20 – the anniversary of my first date with my now husband. This day doesn’t have the weight or pressure of an anniversary or birthday, no gifts or cards need be exchanged. But I can note the passing of this day with fondness and gratitude.

I love that on these special days there is no pressure to decorate the house, have a party, wrap a gift, send a card (things I really struggle to get myself to do), but these days mark the passing of time in a fun way. Today, “talk like Yoda I could” and it would feel festive and special, not like “problem I have and need a life I do.” These little holidays highlight that what makes something special is our collective celebration. It’s fun when everyone says “May the 4th be with you!” – but it wouldn’t necessarily feel special all the time.


Jillian

I’m not a holiday person.

I don’t hate holidays, I’m just not that into them. Take Christmas – it’s supposed to be a time when you gather with your family to be intentional about showing each other how you care. But I see my family all the time, and we’re good to each other year round. So I don’t appreciate all the pressure to make December 25th a profound and unforgettable experience. There will be another one next year, so just chill, okay?

If I feel that way about Christmas – the biggest holiday of the year for most Americans – you can just imagine how I feel about lesser holidays. St. Patrick’s Day flat out makes my blood boil. I will not buy and store special items of clothing in a horrid color just for one day a year. And if you touch me, god help you.

But there’s one holiday I love. In fact, I love it so much, I celebrate it every week. I invented it myself, and it’s called PLL Day.

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PLL stands for Pretty Little Liars (Tuesdays at 8pm on Freeform). Here’s how PLL Day got started. First, I fell in love with Pretty Little Liars. Then I got my mom hooked. Then I found some friends who were also obsessed with the show, and we made a plan.

Every Tuesday we’d gather at mom’s house for dinner. We’d rehash last week’s episode and all our theories and questions, then we’d watch the new episode, and lastly we’d spend at least an hour after the show talking about it.

The great thing about PLL Day is that it’s very flexible. It could be as casual as ordering a pizza, or if it was a season premiere or someone’s birthday or both those things on the same day, it could be a whole themed party with a cake.

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And an Instagram photo shoot.

But whether you plan something big or just order takeout, either way it’s always going to be a highlight of the week.

I wish all holidays could be like PLL Day. Not something to stress over, or make travel plans around, or cook a big meal for, or shop for – not something you have to make special, or worry about whether each person will have a good time. Just something to look forward to – a little time with people you enjoy, where the fun is built in. Something to get you through a week, or a month, or a season. And something it’s okay to change, or even to skip sometimes – there’ll be another episode next week.

pll invite
A hand-written invitation I made for a friend.

Just don’t ask me what I’m going to do when the series ends this summer. I can’t think about that yet.

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Mary Margaret

Anyone ever played the silly game whereby you take three people and then deem which  you’d Kiss, which you’d Kill, and which you’d Marry? Here’s my faux-holiday version!

KISS: Email Debt Forgiveness Day

There’s a technology podcast I enjoy called “Reply All,” whose hosts created a holiday called “Email Debt Forgiveness Day.” The premise, as stated on their helpful explanatory link for observers :“If there’s an email response you’ve wanted to send but been too anxious to send, you can send it on April 30th, without any apologies or explanations for all the time that has lapsed.” ( http://emaildebtforgiveness.me/ ) I only learned about their comical, yet grace-filled idea recently, so haven’t ever participated—one reason being that I try to be very responsive with email. That said, I once heard someone express that they felt “oppressed” by email. Not having a desk job where email is my primary form of communication, I can only imagine what it’s like to receive hundreds of electronic communications daily. It’s relatively easy for me to manage my inbox, but I know that for many in the modern world, email creates tremendous pressures and expectations. I’d like to kiss this idea because it opens up the idea of forgiving ourselves and one another for not being perfect users of our technologies, inviting us to break down some of the artificial rules we’ve constructed surrounding our communication via these technologies. Set aside awkwardness, guilt, and simply communicate- Just choose to reach out! I find this concept so appealing that although I may not greatly need it myself, I’d like to give it a smooch and pass it along!

KILL: Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Giving Tuesday

I certainly feel oppressed by email during this annual barrage from basically every company and organization in the country suddenly instructing us to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND! I’m sure there are economic benefits to this trifecta, and I’m not negating the positivity of Giving Tuesday as an antidote to the excesses of holiday consumerism, but I do find the timing and message utterly overwhelming. On the heels of a holiday of gratitude, we’re swiftly assaulted by the message that we do not have enough, are not giving enough, our loved ones don’t have enough; we must open our pocketbooks or miss out! The “holiday” also invokes an extreme competitiveness and covetousness between businesses and consumers both, which provokes strange anxiety in me. Nothing says peace on earth and good will to men like crowd-control fencing outside Target and people being trampled at Wal-Mart. Offering no solutions here; just saying these days make me want to hide out in a remote cabin somewhere until they’re over.

MARRY: Christmas Windows

Now that I’ve railed against Christmas commercialism, let me confess my beloved annual self-invented tradition of visiting the NYC Christmas windows with my dear friend Val. We’ve celebrated for six years, fanatically guarding our pilgrimage!We set the date, plot the route, choose a festive post-window unthawing spot…and in the precdeing weeks, we strictly observe the practice of “NOT LOOKING” in neighborhoods where the holiday decorations are. But the day is really only special because we make it special. Far more important than twinkling lights (which are awesome!) is this prioritizing of one another and time together, no matter how crazy the holiday season is. We give one another this gift that says: we do this each year together because we are family and love one another. I’d say any holiday based on that is worth committing to.

3:30 Thursday, Projects

Birthdays, and Birth-Days

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. In honor of Jillian’s 30th Birthday on April 27, she will write her thoughts on three decades, while Maggie and Mary Margaret share some thoughts about our dear friend becoming a mother in her 30th year! 


Jillian

In the stories of Flannery O’Connor, innocent people suffer and die and evil people walk away from their crimes, the end.

When I first started reading them, I thought, “Well, that was miserable. Why is that considered great literature?” But they say when you read Flannery O’Connor, you shouldn’t focus on what happens to the characters physically- you have to look at their souls. That’s where the real story is – in the movements of souls.

I’ll be thirty years old the day this is published, and it’s very easy to see myself as a massive screw-up. I always thought by now I’d have an enriching career where I was both successful and important in my own way. I thought I’d be making good money and deftly managing all the responsibilities of adult life. I thought I’d have learned how to keep everything in order – the laundry, the dishes, the dusting, the dogs’ toenails, my acne, my hair.

Actually, I thought I’d have all that down by age 27.

But when I left home at 18, what bloomed was not my potential but all my latent anxiety and despair. I starved my body. I slogged through college with constant migraines. I worked five years in a job that crushed me. I quit my job as soon as I could justify it. I crawled home to lick my wounds.

I’m turning thirty having been out of the workforce for a year. I’m in eating disorder recovery for the fourth consecutive year. I’ve spent more money on my therapy than I can bear to think about. I’m still working on how to not feel overwhelmed by everyday life.

But I think those things are not the real story.

I’ve fought for the things I believed in, over and over again. Especially when it mattered for my soul or for someone else’s. I lost all of those battles, but I never walked away from a fight that mattered. I’ve seen myself stand up and speak truth to power when everyone around me fell silent. I’ve stood up to opponents and to loved ones. I’ve stepped up to face things other people have found too frightening, not because I had to, but because I wanted to do right by my soul and others’.

I lost. I never righted any wrongs. I certainly never saved anyone. But I found out what I’m made of. Fire and grit and passion and sadness and faith and fear and bravery most of all.

So, if I’m a warrior of the soul who can’t get her shit organized, I’ve mostly made my peace with that. I can keep working on the everyday life skills, and I will – but my battle skills have been honed. I’m ready to take up arms when it’s needed. I’m ready to face down fear when it appears.

If the real story is the movement of souls, then I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I’m stronger, brighter, and fiercer than ever before. I’m making plans for my future – a future I have confidence and faith in, a future that only a year ago I didn’t even believe in.

I’ll be a mother before the end of the year, and I know that parenthood is rife with pain and fear and heartbreak. But I am not afraid. No matter how hard life may be, I know how to see past it, to find hope in the movements of souls. That’s my real story, and this is my gift to my son: that we will tell real stories – mine, and his father’s, and his.

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Maggie

Dear Jillian,

I know that you have really considered the pros and cons of adding a child to your life. But even so, taking on the role of mother is pretty daunting.

I would like to be the first person to officially give you unsolicited parenting advice. So, with love, please ignore any of this that you see fit!

10 Things You Simply Must Know Before Becoming a Parent

  1. People will give you unsolicited advice on parenting in an inverse relationship to how well they know you. You are not obligated to listen.
  2.  There is no perfect method that will help your baby to sleep through the night.
  3. Your child WILL have a temper tantrum in a public place. It doesn’t make you a bad parent.
  4. You will forget to take your diaper bag with you exactly once. When that one time happens, your baby will have a super blow out poop. If you’re lucky, this will happen at a place that sells diapers and baby wipes. You will live through this experience, but it’s okay to cry.
  5. People will judge you for how you feed your baby and whether or not you use a pacifier. But as long as your baby is fed, it’s probably going to be okay.
  6. You are under no obligation to breast feed in public.
  7. I know that strange things always happen to you, but nothing will be stranger than human coming out of your body.
  8. But right up there with a human growing in your body and then exiting, milk coming out of your breasts is also pretty weird. Depending on how things go and what you decide to do, that’s going to take a while to get under control. I know it’s natural, and despite our smart phones and climate control, we are still mammals, but it is messy and disconcerting to feel like a cow.
  9. There’s nothing wrong with naptime being your favorite part of the day.
    • There’s nothing wrong with also taking a nap during naptime.
    • There’s no reason that you should obligated to “be productive” while your baby sleeps.
  10. One of the things I try to do when I’m arguing with my daughter about whether or not she should wear underwear or when she’s upset that I’ve opened her yogurt incorrectly, is I try to remember the feeling I had when I found out I was pregnant for the first time. The hope, the terror, the excitement, the love, the joy – all of that. When I remember how much I wanted this little person to be in my life, it makes it a little easier to get through those moments.

Welcome to parenthood!


Mary Margaret

You know how people sometimes take any topic (almost to comic effect) and manage to somehow make it about them?  My dear Jillian is turning 30 this week, and in late summer she will enter motherhood for the first time with the arrival of a little boy! Now let’s talk about me.

Some people might look at my life and say that I am gradually being Left Behind.  No, not in the Post-Apocalyptic, Revelations-style, book-series-into-bad-movie way. What I mean is that while my status has remained “Single and Childless” over the past decade, my sisters, closest friends, and many of my peers have taken on new roles as spouses and parents. I would be lying if I didn’t say that there’s always a part of me that finds myself worrying that these new life-changing relationships and roles will mean that my life will suddenly seem small, tedious, and irrelevant to these people who have chosen to shoulder the awesome responsibility of growing and raising another human being. I wonder if they will look at me and my concerns and begin shaking their heads with a sigh of, “Unmarried with no kids? She just can’t possibly understand.”

People say motherhood changes a person forever,  and not having experienced this, I can only imagine what these changes feel like. But dwelling on the margins, witnessing the transformation of beloved people into mothers and fathers, I am categorically unable to say that I have actually been Left Behind.  On the contrary, my sisters, cousins, and friends seem to have invited me along for the ride, and I humbly and gratefully assert that my life has been profoundly transformed by the births of these beautiful children. Of course I am not claiming alterations like the radical, 24-7 life-overhaul brought about by having an infant under your care, but my life is decidedly different populated by the wonderful little people that are not mine directly, but I undoubtedly lay claim to in my heart.

So to the parents who have invited me along for their journey through pregnancy, birth, and parenthood…Most importantly this week, to Jillian,  here is what I want to tell you most about my transformation on the fringes:

I am grateful, I am honored, and I do not take lightly the responsibility of being permitted to be in your child’s life. Jillian, you are a careful, thoughtful,  discerning person; you do not bestow trust on each person that you encounter, so when you confided in me your motherhood hopes and later the fulfillment of these hopes, I  saw this as being entrusted with a gift. The gift and responsibility is your trust in me as a person able and willing to support you in this terrifying/joyous new experience and as a person capable of being a positive and loving figure in the life of your child.

Which leads to my next point, which is how deeply your pregnancy makes me think about who I am as an adult person, begging the question: who do I choose to be as a figure in the life of your child? If we are called to teach by example, how can I be (although marginal or far-away) a role model for your son of the values that you, his mother, and I share and have spent countless hours discussing together? How can my life be just one more small positive force in his world?

Speaking of values, what also am I called to do out in that world to make the life of your son safer, better, more hopeful, and more compassionate? There are times over the past few months following the 2016 election that have made me want to despair the direction of our American society. It seems a cliché I’ve heard repeated, but I’ve had those instances of looking around and not recognizing my own country. The fact that people around me are having babies, an act I view as a supreme faith in the hopefulness of the future, requires that I never throw my hands up, but rather seek out actions that will give those kids a country still worth being proud to grow up in. Whether that is voting, civic engagement, creating art, volunteering, and simply the fundamental nature of how I treat people in my work and personal life, your son drives me to action because I must take care of this world he must reside in.

I also am already considering what I can do to give you and your son a deep sense of my constant love.  I realized strikingly after losing some loved ones how deeply we come to know ourselves by our mirrors: people in our lives reflecting our identities back to us. Who am I to you, and where does that place me in the universe? I am tremendously grateful to have had people throughout my life that reflected back at me the sense that I was loved unconditionally, that I was valued, that I was smart, beautiful, indispensable to their existence and being on this planet. Even if I am close or far, I suppose I consider it of tremendous value for you and your son to know that no matter what happens, there is one more person beaming back love and support at them. One more person in their corner, in spite of the overwhelming feat of living life.

But enough about me.

Jillian, I know you are going to be an amazing mother. Why? Because, it’s you, my love.

And you know, you’re gonna have back-up. Always.

3:30 Thursday, Projects

Reflections on Easter

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. This week we wanted to share our thoughts on the recent Easter holiday.


Maggie

This morning, when my children woke up, there were no surprises from the Easter bunny in my house. I’ll admit that I’m ambivalent about telling my children that magical creatures sneak into our home in the middle of the night to leave them presents, but I did not neglect to celebrate this tradition in my home for any “holier than thou” reasons. I have just never figured out what I feel like is an appropriate Easter basket. I really don’t want Easter to be “Christmas lite,” I don’t like to give my children a lot of candy, they already have more stuffed animals than they can possibly play with, and I’m just left not really knowing what to do. So, I have just chosen to not participate in the tradition of the Easter basket.

Mercifully, my children are young enough that they don’t go to school every day, so they won’t go to school tomorrow and find out that the Easter bunny visited some of their friends, but for some reason skipped our house.

Nevertheless, I would like to share a few words in defense of the Easter bunny. I know you’ve all seen the “what do eggs and bunnies have to do with the resurrection of Jesus” posts on your social media accounts all week. And given my total failure to produce an Easter basket for my children in the course of their short but otherwise wonderful lives, I’m hardly the person to stand up for a tradition of magical bunnies leaving eggs and candy in your home.

But, in defense of the bunny – here is what I think: Yes, early Christians co-opted a pagan fertility festival because the vernal equinox (aka beginning of Spring) is really close to the Jewish celebration of Passover. It may have been an opportunistic way to retain more converts. But, on the other hand, look around you! If you live in the Northern hemisphere, Spring is in the air. Life is cropping up all around you! Flowers are blooming, everyone you know on Facebook is having a baby, and if you live in a place where you have an actual winter, I’m sure it feels like the world is waking up! Surely, whether the roots of the celebration are Christian or pagan, new life is something to celebrate!

robins nest
An actual robin’s nest at Jillian’s parents’ house.

 

I also think it’s weird that in our society where we use sex to sell literally everything (I listened to a radio commercial using sex to sell car insurance this week), we turn up our noses at the idea of a fertility festival.

Why should we give up this tradition? In our amazing modern world, we have many avenues for people struggling with infertility to seek medical help to have children, and it’s STILL crazy hard for some people to have babies. If I were an ancient druid struggling to have babies or my children had miraculously made it through the Winter, I might celebrate a burrow full of bunnies or a bird’s nest full of eggs, too – because, as I’m fond of saying when it comes to making and having babies: “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.”

So…please forgive my blasphemy, but today, in addition to celebrating the new life available to me through faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I also want to celebrate the new life that surrounds us at Spring time. With all things we can truly and legitimately be afraid of in the World today – Global Warming, nuclear war, extreme weather, intelligent robots taking over the world – the Earth is still reborn each Spring. I feel like birth – whether it’s a baby, a puppy, a bunny, a chick, a tree or a flower – is the Earth’s way of saying it’s still optimistic about the future. And that is certainly worth celebrating.


Mary Margaret

Saturday night at Easter Vigil, our Spanish language congregation partners, Sion Lutheran, baptized a group of children—and what miraculous outfits these children wore! Little girls arrayed in tiered, bridal-like layers of shimmering polyester, bedazzled tiaras, gloves, and lace-trimmed capelets; little boys in smart white, silver-trimmed militaristic suits and high-gloss shoes. These shimmery beacons fidgeted, twirled, giggled, got sleepy, and then were baptized with water and the Holy Spirit and welcomed into the Christian faith!

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More details Girl in christening gown being baptized in a Roman Catholic church. (from Wikipedia)

The story of Easter— the death and Resurrection of the man named Jesus in Roman-occupied ancient Jerusalem —is the most important story in my faith. It’s the central narrative on which our hopes are founded, the story that most clearly reveals God’s relationship to His Creation. Naturally, we each hear this story with individual ears, nuanced by our experiences, and because of my interests and profession, I likely notice references to fabric and clothing more than most.

The Baptism of Saint Vladimir in Chersonesus by Viktor Vasnetsov(1890). To the left attendants are holding Vladimir’s golden royal robes, which he has taken off, and the simple white baptismal robe, which he will put on (1890, fresco from St. Vladimir’s Cathedral, Kiev).

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The Baptism of Saint Vladimir in Chersonesus by Viktor Vasnetsov (1890). To the left attendants are holding Vladimir’s golden royal robes, which he has taken off, and the simple white baptismal robe, which he will put on (1890, fresco from St. Vladimir’s Cathedral, Kiev). (from Wikipedia)

The fabrics of Holy Week are varied and suffused with meaning. Jesus ties a towel around His waist to wash the feet of his disciples before they partake in the Last Supper. Roman soldiers clothe Jesus in a purple robe to mock the idea that He is the king of the Jewish people. Soldiers cast lots to try and win the garment Jesus wore at His arrest, which is seen as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. When the lifeless form of Jesus is removed from the Cross, He’s wrapped in a burial shroud– these funereal wrappings being what Mary Magdalene and the disciples later find folded in the empty tomb. The angels proclaiming the Risen Christ wear garments of radiant light.

I am struck by the marked contrast between the types of garments described—robes of light next to a utilitarian foot-washing towel; royal purples aside linen burial wrappings; the majestic and ethereal with the humble and rough-spun. I found myself contemplating Baptism alongside burial customs, and how across time, culture, and tradition, we often swing between these contrasts. Some are baptized shrouded in a simple white robe, stripped of embellishment or individual expression. Or some, like these children, are baptized in finery, arrayed like lilies of the field. Similarly, we might be buried in our nicest clothes and jewelry, while in other times and places, the most basic shroud or wrapping is traditional.

I don’t compare to advocate for one approach— dressed up or humbly simple—rather they both seem so startlingly appropriate as an illustration of how I believe God views us—in our lives…and deaths. They are two sides of Christianity’s claim about mankind’s identity in God. On one hand, He sees us at our most basic— stripped of pretensions of identity, culture, and habit, flawed and sinful—rough-spun. Our essential being is more clearly known to Him than to ourselves, and thus we approach Him empty-handed and unadorned—what could we possibly offer to the one who gives us ourselves?

Easter’s claim, though— that God in Christ redeems Creation, bringing ALL things into right relationship with Himself—is that when He views rough-spun Creation, He actually sees His Beloved. Like the Parable of the Prodigal Son, God takes a humanity that finds it so difficult to love one another, and in spite of anything we are, have done, or have failed to do, He clothes us in new robes, puts rings on our fingers. The Bible abounds with metaphors of new garments, garments washed clean, of God clothing His Beloved people in righteousness and holiness.

Easter asks us to believe that we are loved by God. That He sees us as intimately and essentially as the woven fibers of a simple white shroud. That He sees us as splendid, special, and worthy as the children of Sion clothed in gleaming new garments, heirs to a Kingdom of love. When we dress up for Baptism or burial, we may clothe ourselves in the signs and symbols of our humbleness or our belovedness, but either way, in life and in death, God covers us.


Jillian

“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one.” -John Steinbeck, East of Eden.

The thing that I love most about the Christian holidays is that, in a way, they’re all the same.

In Advent, we await deliverance. O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel. We wait hopefully and desperately. At Christmas, we celebrate our awaited deliverance – hopefully, and desperately. Then again at Lent, still we await that same deliverance. It comes on the cross at Easter weekend – we celebrate, again, hopefully, and desperately.

Mary conceives the divine Word of God and gives birth to the hope of mankind.

Christ conceives the divine Word of God and dies to bring hope to mankind.

Nichodemus asks, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Jesus answers, “Flesh gives birth to flesh but spirit gives birth to spirit.”

One story: the story of the soul’s painful and transformative exodus from old life to new. We ask, can I be redeemed? And the Bible gives us, over and over, this one story.

That’s why I celebrate Easter (and Christmas, for that matter) with Lady Gaga.

The thing that I love so much about Gaga is that her music videos and live performances always deconstruct the surface-level messages of her lyrics. You can listen to Born This Way and hear a long, 1980s-ish pop declaration that homosexuality and bisexuality are biologically natural – or you can watch the performances and see the One Story. In truth, I think, Gaga cares very little about biology. She cares about whether a human soul can be redeemed and how.

In the original Born This Way performances and music video, Gaga wears horns on her head. That’s how you know Born This Way isn’t about being “born that way.” You can see the powerful homages to the great Alvin Ailey’s modern ballet Revelations (Gaga’s choreographer trained with the Alvin Ailey school), you can see the images of baptism, and you can start to see how Born This Way is about being re-born this way. It asks, how can we be redeemed, to be wholly without hate and wholly united with God and one another in love? And it answers with pain and transformation and purification and death and spirit giving birth to spirit. One story.

You can listen to Judas and hear an irresistibly catchy pop confession of a Christian’s struggle with sin. But you can watch the music video and witness the shattering and scrambling of all the binary oppositions in the stories of Jesus: follower and leader, faithful and heretical, chaste and unchaste, sinner and saint, servant and master, human and divine. Judas doesn’t ask you what role you play in the story of Jesus – are you a follower or a betrayer, a Judas or a Peter – you are every role and every label. Instead, it asks, can you be redeemed to be wholly without sin and wholly united with God and humankind in love? And it answers with pain and transformation and purification and death and spirit giving birth to spirit. One story.

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Gaga throwing away the binary oppositions in Judas.

You can listen to Edge of Glory and hear one more addictive “YOLO, let’s dance and have sex before we die” song. Or you can watch the music video and see the glow of a refining fire barely contained behind a flimsy Hollywood set, and you can see the stylized makeup reminiscent of ancient religious icons. And you can begin to see the fragile boundaries between the physical and the spiritual, and how you yourself are the glass you must break so you can fall toward the glassblower’s breath.

gaga edge of glory
Edge of Glory official music video

Can you be redeemed?

Pain, transformation, purification, death, spirit giving birth to spirit.

One story.

gaga born this way

3:30 Thursday, Projects

Better than The Original?

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. So often people rant on and on about how an adaptation, sequel, or remake could never possibly be as good as the original. This week we challenged ourselves to take an opposite approach and look at adaptations that we think actually worked– ones that maybe even got it a bit better or brought a whole new appreciation to our understanding of the first version.


Mary Margaret 

My sister Emily and I loved reading Roald Dahl when we were little, and Matilda was undoubtedly a favorite. I have memories of us reading his paperbacks together, sprawled out on the carpet, with our yellowed paperback copy adorned with Quentin Blake’s classic illustrations of the stringy- haired little girl (that I’m sure Emily still owns). What I remember most about Matilda was it’s combination of eerie supernatural magic, slightly foreign “British-ness,” vivid characters both love-able and malicious, silly yet dark humor, and like many Roald Dahl stories, possessing palpable lessons about morality, justice, the importance of kindness, and in this case, the hidden strength under what seems outwardly meek, unloved, and small.

I saw Matilda: The Musical on Broadway with my mother in the summer of 2014. Ironically, two weeks later, I was given the opportunity to join the show’s wardrobe department, where I worked as a frequent sub stitcher and dayworker for a year and a half, until the show’s closing at the end of 2016. It was my first gig on a Broadway musical, and I was thrilled to work on a show that I enjoyed so much—the kind of show that made me truly excited about my part in making live theatre happen.

Matilda: The Musical is a fantastic adaptation of Dahl’s novel, superior in my opinion to the 90s film version. When you make an adaptation, I think it shouldn’t simply be because the original was “a good story” or successful, beloved or likely to garner attention (and ticket sales). One compelling reason to reinvent something is because you believe you can illuminate or bring to life some crucial essence of the original work in a new medium, and for this, theatre seems perfectly suited to Dahl’s work.

matildawestend

Why, you ask? Here’s just a few of the many reasons:

*Highly Theatrical Characters– Tricky to do on film, where outlandish characters can seem garish, the stage is the perfect place for Dahl’s characters like Mrs. Trunchbull and the Wormwoods to be dramatically over-the-top, without seeming strangely disjointed from the gentle realness of Miss Honey.

*Creepiness!- Dahl’s stories are rife with the creepy and dark; I mean the school principal locks unruly students in a horrifying closet called “The Chokey!” A dark theatre, complete with lighting, sound, music, fog machines, and stage tricks is an incredibly immersive experience, and so incredibly evocative of the eeriness and thrills of Dahl’s book, as well as vividness of a child’s imagination, which is a critical part of the story.

*Supernatural Elements– The recreation of Matilda’s telekinetic powers is inherently better on stage as opposed to film, because for most audience members, there is a true level of wonderment and “how do they do that!!” when live “stage magic” plays out. Even for a backstage worker like me, I am still often amazed by effects created by stage artists. I think with modern films, we are so aware now of the capabilities of computers and post-production, so it seems less magical, while seeing a little girl live on stage miraculously writing on a chalkboard with her mind, seems intrinsically more spectacular by the hiddenness of the trick.

* Revolting Children!- Matilda is about a child who does incredible things, and while watching a company of children sing, dance, and act their hearts out for over two hours, it’s hard to deny the amazing abilities and sensitivities of even the very young. Certainly children have much to learn, but we so often dismiss how much children are capable of doing and understanding. Watching the virtuosity of these real life kids (who genuinely seem to be having fun backstage, too!) perform so spectacularly, is to me a beautiful illustration and inspiration of what Dahl tells us through his little book-loving girl. Small does not equal weak. Force does not equal power. The power of your own mind and heart are stronger than an unjust regime.

I’d like to believe in this kind of justice- where a kind and brilliant child could topple a cruel despot. Where those who start out powerless and unloved achieve justice and peace.


Maggie

When I was in college, I took a course on fairy tales. It was one of my favorite classes. One of the ideas I took away from the class is that historically, fairy tales teach children skills they need for their life – don’t trust sweet talking wolves, ugly ogres can be princes in disguise if you give them a chance, and kindness and goodness will be rewarded.
We also get some insidious messages from our fairy tales: stepmothers are evil, powerful women can’t be trusted, good girls suffer, and it’s preferable to have very small feet.
So, as the mother of daughters, I’m delighted by a modern fairy tale: One where we learn that love will thaw a frozen heart, that you can’t repress who you are, sometimes you have to “Let it Go,” and you shouldn’t marry someone you just met.

Like every 4-year-old in America (possibly the world), my daughter loves the movie Frozen. For most of 2016, she would only wear Elsa dresses in public. I have 3 singing Elsa dresses, 3 Elsa nightgowns, a dress we affectionately refer to as the “hoop dress” and an Anna dress. So, I get that if the goal was to sell merchandise, Frozen is doing pretty well at my house.

So many dresses, so little time…
In many ways, I feel like Frozen is not just an adaptation the Hans Christian Anderson tale “The Snow Queen,” it’s an adaptation of the Disney Princess movie in general. I haven’t shown my daughter’s the classic Disney movies I grew up on: Beauty and the Beast (even the new one), The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc. There’s a lot to love about those movies, and I know they would enjoy them, but…I want them to be older so I can talk to them about Stockholm syndrome, love at first sight, consent, and generally make sure they have a fully developed sense of their own agency and self before I threaten it with the idea that they’re going to need a prince to save them from their challenges in life.
But in Frozen, Disney challenged itself to have a story of sisterhood rather than a story of marriage. It challenges the idea that an act of true love is a true love’s kiss, and instead offers the idea that love is complicated. You can love a sister who ignored you for your entire childhood; you can grow apart and come back together; you can be really really messed up, and it’s really hard to fix a big problem on your own. I mean, anyone can sweep you off your feet at a fancy ball, but it really takes love to climb a frozen wasteland and try to reach your sister in her castle made of ice (I mean…check out that symbolism!).
So, I tip my hat to Disney and all of their recent films. I think Moana and Zootopia are even better! Thank you for giving me a fairy tale that I can believe in!

Jillian

You know those people who are always saying, “Oh, DO NOT watch that movie until you’ve read the book”? I hate those people so much.

I’m an English major, and all English majors start out as book lovers, that’s obvious. But you learn pretty quickly that the world is so full of good books, you could never hope to read them all in your lifetime. And you also learn that truly great books are a different story.

Good books have interesting storylines and enthralling characters. Great books have interesting storylines and enthralling characters and masterful writing.

Good books are prime fodder for excellent movies, and since they don’t have masterful writing to begin with, they don’t lose anything in the adaptation. Here are some very well-loved books that I deem totally skippable in favor of the screen version.

The Hunger Games. Great story, great characters, but the writing is not special. In the film version, you get a purer, more elegant, more artful story by elevating the plot and the characters and leaving out the mediocre narration.

Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. As a creator of worlds, George R.R. Martin ranks right up there with J.R.R. Tolkien. As a creator of complex and fascinating characters, some might compare him to the Bard himself. But as a writer? No. A lot of readers have been angry that Martin appears to invest more time in the HBO series than in finishing the book series. But I say let him. He started a good book series, but now he’s writing a great, groundbreaking, go-down-in-history television series. And I’m thrilled with that.

But it’s not just mediocre books that can be surpassed on screen. Even really good books by some of the best authors can sometimes be surpassed by their film adaptations. The number one best book I have ever deemed to be totally skippable in favor of the movie version is Ian McEwan’s Atonement.

Ian McEwan is considered one of the great writers of our time. Atonement was nominated for the Booker Prize – it is a really good book. McEwan takes a lot of risks in his storytelling, and some of those risks don’t exactly work out. If you’re interested in examining the craft of novel writing, it’s fascinating. But if you’re interested in a challenging, thought-provoking story without – for example – complex characters who end up not mattering in the end, a handful of themes that get dropped part way through, and the confusion those extraneous elements bring to the story’s conclusion, then skip this excellent book and watch the extraordinary film.atonement_ver6

In the film, you get beautiful costumes, historical sets and an enriching musical score. But most importantly, you get a purer version of the story.

The best novels are already pure – distilled down until every sentence matters. That’s why for me, Atonement, in spite of its well-crafted prose, falls short of being a truly great novel – there’s too much that could be weeded out. And that’s what the film does – it weeds out the author’s wandering literary experiments and leaves a profound and meaningful story.

Life’s short. Spend it reading the books you love. Because if you spend it trying to read all the good books, you’ll miss out on a lot of phenomenal films.


Leave us a comment about the adaptations or remakes you love!

3:30 Thursday, Projects

Spring Cleaning

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. Spring has officially arrived, and now that it’s April, we might actually begin to believe it. This week we look at how this green, fresh season often spurns a cleaning spree, whether or not we shall partake, and what this means in our lives. 


Maggie

I struggle with tidiness in the same way that I struggle with my weight. For me, it’s not really a matter of discipline or willingness to try to keep the spaces in my life clear or my body healthy. For me, it’s a matter of courage. The courage to let go of the comfort and reassurance I feel from having the extra weight on my body and extra things in my life.

Any time I start losing weight or my house starts to get to clean, I sabotage my own efforts – not on purpose, of course. But it’s happened enough times that I know I do it. I indulge in an extra cookie, I miss a few workouts, I stop putting the laundry in the basket. To totally clean up my diet, my home, my life would require facing some uncomfortable truths about myself and risk discovering what I fear most of all – that I am not enough.

As it stands, I have an excuse: I can’t get any place on time because I’m so disorganized. I’ll 

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I blame the children

be more successful when I just “get it together.” Often, I blame the children (to be fair, a 4 year old and an almost 2 year old can create a truly impressive amount of pandemonium in a remarkably short period of time).

But what if I cleaned up my home and took care of my body, and still couldn’t get my life together?

A few years ago, I picked up Mari Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She recommends that you go through all of your possessions one by one and determine whether or not they bring you joy. If the answer is no, then you can get rid of it. Her reasoning is that if you get rid of the excess things in your life, you’ll be more motivated to keep your remaining possessions in order (and she has some recommendations on how you do that as well).

I set to work right away – I pulled all my clothes out of my closet and went through every piece of clothing – one by one. I didn’t think I had a huge selection of clothing, but I managed to donate three trash bags full of clothes to my local second hand store. I went on to discard an entire book case full of books – something I would have once considered a high crime. But, on the other hand, when my shelves were filled with books that brought me joy, I found that very freeing and refreshing.

But, after that initial and energizing round of tidying, I never made it to the rest of the house…I just haven’t had the courage to face it.

For me, facing my possessions – the aspirational purchase of a cross stitching kit, the 2015 journal that I started but lost track of sometime in February of that year, the picture frames I bought but have never put pictures into, the random notes with reminders on the them – they’re reminders of all things I’ve wanted for myself and my home and for whatever reason, I haven’t acted on or followed through with. It’s easier just to ignore them and let them pile up.

A fellow Martial Arts instructor once told me that when you clean your school, you clean your soul. I have thought about those places in my soul and my home that need cleaning. In my case, cleaning up is not simply an act of courage, but would also require an awful lot of compassion and forgiveness – for the hardest person to have grace for – myself.


Jillian

Confession: I never get rid of old clothes. I still own a blouse I bought in middle school when Forever 21 first opened in our mall. (It still looks great. I wonder if it was a different kind of store back then.)

I have more clothes than you’d probably believe, but I’m not a hoarder – I’ve been keeping my old clothes because I was still wearing them. And I’ve loved it – buying only a little here and a little there over the course of years, I’d built a strong and flexible wardrobe that I thought could carry me a long way in life.

But then, I started eating disorder recovery, and long story short, the enormous wardrobe I’ve cultivated for over 15 years is now full of clothes that – god willing – will never fit me again.

For the past year I’ve lived on mostly hand-me-downs while I ignored the problem of what to do with the loads and loads and loads of clothes I can’t wear. But now we have a baby on the way and it’s time to clear out.

It seems like an easy chore – bag it all up and drop it at Goodwill, job done. But in my mind, things get trickier.

Here’s the thing: donation centers are completely swamped with all our unwanted clothes, and people don’t necessarily want them. In fact, only about 20% of America’s secondhand clothes ever get sold. Whether it’s a consignment shop or the Salvation Army, they keep only what they think they can sell. If the clothes look too old, they never even get put on the shelf.

And the clothes that the donation centers don’t want? A lot of them go straight to the landfill. Goodwill alone ships around 20 million pounds of unsaleable clothes to the landfill every year. As for the rest, they may get passed around to other donation centers but ultimately they’re sold to for-profit textile recycling firms.

A good portion of those clothes – maybe 45% – actually do get recycled into things like housing insulation. But the rest gets stuffed into enormous bales and sold wholesale to private re-sellers in third-world countries where – guess what? – our tons of throwaway clothes smother their established textile industries and crush local economies, making the poorest people of the world even poorer.

Discarded clothes are America’s 8th leading export. One billion pounds of our throwaway clothes are sold to (dumped on) the developing world every year.

Of course, the alternative to donating your clothing is putting it straight in the garbage, where it can produce greenhouse gases and seep dangerous chemicals into the soil and groundwater while it decomposes.

The best thing to do with old clothes is to find an organization that will place them directly into the hands of someone who needs them – like a women’s shelter, for example. But in my case, I doubt even a shelter wants my anorexic skinny jeans. I doubt anyone does.

So, I have mounds of clothing to get rid of and no possible way to feel good about doing it.

But here’s what I’m telling myself to ease my conscious. If the key to this whole mess is to buy fewer clothes (and that is the key), then I’m doing okay. I’m not discarding bagfuls of last year’s fashion trends – I’m discarding bagfuls of apparel that’s been accrued a few pieces at a time for over a decade.

And here’s the other thing I know. While my own personal choices are important, recycling won’t end global warming – only renewable energy can do that. And refusing to donate my clothes won’t end global poverty – only international policies aimed at ending neocolonialism can do that. So at the end of the day, what matters far more than what I do with my old clothes is how I vote.

Happy problematic spring cleaning, everyone. Get ready to vote in 2018.

For sources, google “what happens to donated clothing” and take your pick.


Mary Margaret 

I learned while living in Jerusalem that strictly observant religious Jewish families go through an intense cleaning process in anticipation of the spring holiday of Passover. I already knew that no leavened bread was eaten during the eight days of the festival, a commemoration of the Exodus story where the Israelites journey out of slavery in Egypt. The practice reminds its observers that in this deliverance story, their ancestors left in such a hurry there wasn’t time for their bread to rise. What I learned in the Holy City is that far beyond simply avoiding rolls and crunching matzo for a week, people eradicate any trace of chametz, (leaven plus any of five specific grains) from their homes in anticipation of Passover. From an outsider’s vantage, it seems to amount to a religiously-proscribed, ritualistic, extreme home cleaning. Corners are swept, linens washed, surfaces doused with boiling, purifying water; anything that might possess a wayward crumb is cleansed.

I grew up in a household kept immaculately (let’s be honest, obsessively) clean and organized. (Note: Love you, Mom, and actually love that I’m like you this way). Cleaning happened continually, along with the habitual practice of weeding out unneeded items. I now organize my home multiple times a year, gleefully purging closets, cabinets, and paperwork, invoking a lightening, less burdened feeling around my life. Truthfully, don’t most of us clean partly or primarily because bringing order to our environment changes our mental and emotional state somehow? My most recent flurry was at the end of 2016 in an attempt to physically slough off some of the previous year’s burden. Along with donation/discarding sweeps, I also never last long without actual broom sweeping and my lemon-scented cleaner, so I avoid feeling completely overwhelmed by the state of my house. I can honestly say (without judgment of others!) I’ve never been in on the joke: “I must clean my room, since I can’t find the floor anymore!”

Spring-cleaning is a different beast, though; my roommate and I are planning our coordinated effort to tackle floorboards, stove, windowsills, etc.  Perhaps strangely, when I think about this type of elbow-grease, corner-vacuuming frenzy, my mind leaps to the Passover preparations. Not because I have the same goal as the orthodox, nor pretend to understand the true significance of someone else’s religious observance; rather my obsessive mind identifies deeply with the idea that I could eradicate every trace of something from my environment or life. I’m captured by the idea of the exquisitely clean, rooted-out, purged, fresh-slate, residue-free situation. After all, along with a floor I could eat off of, there are also crumbs I’d like to sweep from the corners of my brain.

Then I encounter a problem in my train of thought: my analytical mind that understands atoms starts whining about the virtual impossibility of eradicating every trace of leavened bread from a home. You could never get rid of EVERY crumb, my 21st century, post-high-school-chemistry brain exclaims!! In my home, too, I could never get rid of every speck of dust, every bathroom tile stain. Similarly, it is literally impossible to cleanse yourself of certain unwanted aspects of the mind or spirit.

Ultimately and obviously this leaves a tension in my fixation on the idea of cleanness and purification. The idea captures me, oddly romancing me in its simplicity and sterility. But logically I comprehend its impossibility—the futility and unhelpfulness of chasing it in a physical and spiritual realms.

No grand conclusions here. I’m working on this tension.

I’ve got to learn to live with crumbs.

3:30 Thursday, Projects

It’s 3:30 Day!

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. To celebrate this special date of 3/30, we took some time to reflect on our friendship and what makes us the inseparable Triangle.


HAPPY 3:30 DAY!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s March 30th!! We’re so excited to celebrate our first 3:30 Day, and on a Thursday no less!! We hope you enjoy this little video we made about how three preteen strangers became the three lifelong friends we are today.


Mary Margaret

Throughout childhood, my mother often reminded me that to have friends, you have to be a friend.  To me, this motherly, Golden-rulish wisdom emphasized the idea that friendship, different from kinship or even marriage, requires a conscious and continual choice.  To have friendship, we must actively decide to be a friend to someone, a choice that becomes more deliberate when it needs to span time and distances. There’s no legal or physical link that yokes us to our friends; no rings, certificates, or social contracts tying us to our chosen “best friends.”  While our mother never simply ceases to be our mother, and marriage is broken only through often costly, stressful legal processes, a friendship is often described as simply “fading.” The end of friendship doesn’t entail active bridge-burning, emancipation or divorce; simple inaction and neglect seems enough to allow this particular human connection to dissolve.  My dentist grandfather had a cross-stitch that read: “Ignore your teeth and they’ll go away.”  According to my mother’s adage, it seems our friendships are similarly at risk.

When I sat down to write about friendship and my connection to Maggie and Jillian,  I found myself pushing back against my mother’s words. Bear with me, because of course Mom was right on many levels. Meaningful relationships undoubtedly require work, commitment, love-is-a-verb activity—they ask something of us. But I actually feel something quite different has grown in my relationship with these two women: freedom from the requirement to do or be something.

As we’ve referenced on the blog, Maggie, Jillian, and I have called ourselves “The Triangle” since high school, joking that we always form a triangle, regardless if we’re the same room or across oceans. I don’t think we intended any deep philosophical meaning, but what I find beautiful about the symbol is that being in a triangle together is a passive yet stable position. We don’t have to do anything to be in a triangle. It requires only that we be where we are while it remains structurally flexible, yet constant, (provided we don’t fall into a line, gasp! which we assiduously avoid!)

I have wonderful family that I did not pick, but am blessed with.  I am not married, (the only one of us who isn’t), so I’ve never picked someone to share my life with in that way.  But when it comes to Maggie and Jillian, I feel like we picked one another, committed to one another, and somehow, without DNA, or vows, I know intrinsically that I will walk through life with these women.  I can’t know the span of our lives, but if God intends me for old age, I know I will grow old with these women. Yet miraculously I feel like they’ve released me from a sense that I must do or be something in order to bring this about.

I’ve lived long enough to naturally see friendships fade because of distance and time, and to lose touch with people who once loomed large in my life.  But with these two, I can’t explain how I know, but somehow I know that the structure is stable. The triangle abides. Even if I never floss again, we are in this together. Okay, we aren’t talking about teeth. What I mean is that sometimes God grants you friendships where in order to have a friend, you don’t need to be a friend.

You simply need to be.

Maggie and Jillian, I love you. Thank you for being those friends.


Jillian

I don’t call my husband my best friend. Of course, he is my best friend in the sense that we talk every day and share everything. But a husband is something different, and a best friend is something different, too.

I think a lot of people look for a spouse who can balance them out. That’s what I did. I’m neurotic, sensitive, intuitive and withdrawn. My husband is funny, energetic, popular, and athletic. He helps me look outward, helps me see the brighter sides of life. I help him look inward and help him see the darker sides when necessary.

In The Orphan Master’s Son, there’s mention of two women rowing across the ocean together. One rows all day, the other rows all night. That’s like my marriage – he rows me through the day, I row him through the night. We go everywhere together, we do everything together, we rely on one another completely. But when we look around, we see different things. We live the same life, but at times we’d hardly know it – we have to tell it to each other like a story.

It takes so much patience. It takes a relentless, uncomfortable amount of self-expression, and a painfully constant letting go of one’s personal absolutes. It’s challenging but it’s beautiful and it’s taken us so far, and I think it can take us to the ends of the earth. But there’s an inherent loneliness in this arrangement that the other rower can never soothe.

When you’re rowing in the dark and the loneliness overtakes you, that’s when you get on your radio and call out. And the person who answers is another night rower.

The way I see it, Maggie, Mary Margaret and I are all rowers in the dark. No matter where we are in the world, we see the same things – the same black ocean, the same night sky, the same stars and moon. When I call out to them, they’re there, in the night, in my realm. I don’t have to cross over to the daytime to talk to them. And I never have to try to explain to them what it feels like, rowing blindly, rowing on faith, feeling alone. They already know.

If I didn’t have that strength I draw from them, from their understanding, their community of shared feeling, I don’t think I’d ever have the strength to cross realms into daylight – to try to connect with the people who live and see and feel differently than I do, even to reach my own husband. The daytime is a bizarre and irrational place for a night rower. I need to know my other night rowers are behind me.

And they are, always. We’re family – not in the usual way of families, not just by loyalty, not even just by love. We’re family because despite the fact that our physical lives have taken us to such different places, somewhere inside of us we’re all on the same journey. It’s who we are. For all my life I’ll be calling out in the dark, and they will be out there to hear and answer. We’re night rowers, and we’ll make it the whole way, just like this.

3:30 Thursday, Projects

Where the wild things are

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. With Mary Margaret living in NYC, Jillian living in the midst of a woodsy suburban sprawl, and Maggie living on Florida’s Space Coast, we all experience nature in very different ways.


Jillian

If you hear something and think, “Is that an owl, or a monkey?” that’s a barred owl.

If you hear something and think, “Is that an owl, or a really big dog?” that’s a great horned owl.

If you hear something and think, “Is that a dog, or a fire engine?” that’s a coyote, or several.

If you hear something that sounds like leaves blowing in the wind, but also sounds like it’s coming from inside the house… that’s a pine warbler in your sun room, again.

If you hear a faint skittering sound around your window, but you can’t see anything… that’s bees in the walls, run for your life!!

And if you hear your dogs in the backyard take off running at maximum speed, that might mean something very cute and very small is about to die. (We don’t talk about the summer of the baby bunny burrow.)

Growing up in these suburbs, I never saw them as a wonderland of wildlife. Maybe I should have – there was a nest of baby birds in the bush underneath my window every summer, after all. But I guess when you go to college and then move downtown and all in all spend about nine years encountering only cockroaches and – god forbid it – opossums, a house in the suburbs starts to feel like Little House in the Big Woods.

I’ve seen box turtles and baby box turtles and a displaced but happy gopher tortoise all comfortably hanging out in the muddy side yard after a rain. I’ve seen teeny tiny snakes the size of earthworms. I’ve barely glimpsed a blur of a hawk taking off from the deck rail. And I’ve seen a pine warbler in my sun room, twice. But mostly I hear things. And usually, drinking my tea by the window and listening to the sounds is just the right amount of nature for me.

But sometimes I go out into the yard with the dogs. I sit in the swing, breathe in the fresh air. I close my eyes and commune with all the wondrous living beings around me. I say to them in my mind, “O, you beautiful, wild things, things that crawl, and things that climb, and things that fly – you beautiful, wild things both big and small – may you stay outside my house, forever. Amen.”

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Wanted for home invasion, two counts.

Mary Margaret 

Being outside, solitude, plants, water, wildlife, fresh air: these are beautiful parts of Creation that I find life-giving and necessary for my earthly walk. I try to spend some part of every day outdoors, absorbing natural light and inhaling clean, tree-gifted oxygen.

But wait, wait, wait, did we forget where I actually live?

There are many things I love about my life in New York, but scarcity of nature is one aspect that certainly never fit me like a glove. It fits more like a pair of too-short socks that are shuffling their way down into your shoe as you walk, until they are smashed into the toe and you finally throw up your hands in concession, stop, and yank them back up again…only so they can begin once more their toe-ward migration.

This analogy is apt, because I’ve learned that I can only handle city-life for so long before literally needing to seek out greener pastures. My family always hears me talk about needing a “city break,” which almost always entails a trip somewhere less populated and more naturally wild- a lake, ocean, mountain, even the suburbs where my Mom and Dad have what I teasingly call their “backyard nature preserve.” I’d cite this as a reason I haven’t spent more time visiting easily accessible cities like Boston, Philadelphia, or D.C., because when I have the chance to escape, I’m usually longing for grass, not more pavement.

I’ve developed strategies over the years for getting my green fix. I live directly on Prospect Park in Brooklyn, so I’m by the lake in minutes. I work near Central Park, so I frequently head there. I’ve got a list of go-to spots for quick infusions of nature—Botanical Gardens, the Cloisters, Greenwood Cemetery, the Brighton Beach Boardwalk. Eventually, though, I need something more—the man cranking up his boombox next to me, tourists who don’t understand/ care about park No-Smoking policies, realizing it’s been weeks since I’ve seen any animals besides rats, pigeons, and spoiled city dogs—I reach a tipping point.

I realize I’m speaking from a place of privilege, because I’m able to get out of town. New York does a tremendous job providing and maintaining public green space citywide; I don’t want to seem ungrateful. Please don’t misunderstand me- I love what cities are able to offer, and I love my life here. But the only reason I’m able to love it, I think, is that I know when I need a change.

Some people transplant to New York and readily graft themselves into the concrete jungle vine—great. Some people are like me. Another analogy, this one inspired by my grandmother. Astonishingly, my Mamoo grew potted pineapple plants in Northeast Georgia, certainly not a place native to them. She knew when to carry those plants (or rather have my Papoo carry them) inside and outside in different seasons to maintain equilibrium. I’m one of Mamoo’s pineapples. Sometimes, I need a new environment to keep thriving.


Maggie

Every body needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

-John Muir

My town calls itself the “Gateway to Nature and Space.” It’s true. I live in paradise. When I drive along US1, I can look out my window and see the beautiful Indian River Lagoon – home to manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, osprey, and more along side the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center.

The natural abundance here is protected largely thanks to NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center. The space center is surrounded by two magnificent nature preserves: the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Cape Canaveral National Seashore. These lands are protected (I’m going to go out on a limb here) mostly because the government doesn’t want a lot of private development near NASA’s launch pads, and it is teeming with wildlife.

Warning: Alligators are commonplace.

Alligators like to hang out in shallow water where they wait just below the surface for an unsuspecting animal to come and drink, then they pull the animal underwater where it drowns, and then they eat it. Basically the entire state is within 10-20 feet of shallow water. Last week, a man found an alligator in his garage. This is not nearly far enough away from my house to be comforting.

I’m just glad we have animal control.

And mosquitoes. There are so many mosquitoes. I don’t know if you know this, but mosquitoes swarm like bees. And they buzz. But there’s a magical plant called citronella, which repels them. I’m thinking about replacing the grass in my yard with it.

But, as long as you’re wearing sunscreen, bug spray and have lots of water – this place is paradise.

When I go to the beach, I visit Playalinda Beach at the Canveral National Seashore. It’s one of the few places in Florida where you can visit a beach that isn’t peppered with high rise hotels and permanent beach chairs. Instead, you have to be careful about sea turtle nesting areas.

playalinda

There’s places like the Enchanted Forest Nature Sanctuary, where you can explore the scrub, marsh and forest all in one square mile.

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The trouble with living in paradise is that paradise is pretty delicate. People come from around the world to enjoy the pristine resorts at Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando (a short 45 minutes drive from my home), but those pristine golf courses and gorgeous yards come at a cost.

fsih kill
Fish kill in Indian River Lagoon – March 2016

When we think about protecting the environment, we think about carbon emissions, renewable energy, and compostable straws (okay, maybe you don’t think about compostable straws, but you should). This fish kill was caused by run off from fertilizers. When people over-fertilize their lawns, golf courses, resorts, etc. the extra fertilizer runs off into Florida’s abundant water ways (remember, there’s water everywhere), and essentially fertilize the algae in the lagoon. The algae bloom like crazy and choke out all the oxygen from the water and the fish die.

Before I moved to Florida, I felt like nature was sturdy. Now I realize that we live in a delicate balance with our environment.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

-John Muir

So, as someone who lives here, I ask that when you visit, please pick up your trash when you leave the beach, skip the straw, watch out for alligators and don’t complain if the grass isn’t all green.