Projects

Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

There were again a number of smile-worthy moments this week. For instance, I saw three Franciscan nuns in line at the Seven-Eleven store on Tuesday (7/11) waiting for their free slurpee! This faux-holiday of frozen beverages is another one that definitely belongs on our previous post about made-up annual events! Anyway, by far the week’s smiling-est winner was that my friend Faith became engaged to her person–Shawn!  While celebrating their dating anniversary, he asked THE QUESTION (you know the one) and after agreeing, she asked him right back, which may be one of the most adorable things I’ve ever heard.

This news caused me to use a terrible, invented word mash-up to describe this situation while hanging out with Faith on Wednesday in Bryant Park.  I told her I was a joy-eur of her news! I took the word joy, then repurposed the word voyeur, (which is totally the wrong word, given its racy, salacious definition), and what I mean was that I am given joy by seeing their joy! It’s a blessing to have witnessed from the sidelines the growth of their love and relationship from its inception. I remember when Faith first told me that she was seeing this new guy, Shawn, and I could tell from the start that she was (this is the only appropriate word) smitten! Next I got the chance to meet him, hang out with him, see the two of them together, see the way they looked at one another, heard something of how they cared for one another…

Their engagement was not some out-of-the-blue surprise, and for me, that’s the best way– when you feel that it has happened  because it seemed natural and right. Probably most of us have experienced the feeling of hearing news of an engagement and trying to share the celebratory mood while feeling a tug of uncertainty. In wanting the best for people we love and care for, we may still have questions about their choices on many things, including their partner. Ours frequently then becomes the task of trusting the person we love in their choices– acknowledging that as an outsider we can never be fully privy to the complexities and depth of the couple’s relationship. Other times, like now with Faith, the joy is easy, and the news seems like the most obvious thing in the world. It’s not fairy-tales and roses from here on out;  rather, I feel like they can and will face what comes (the good, the bad, and the ugly) as partners. I love knowing that they will journey through life together, and who doesn’t want this kind of love for their friends?

I’ve long been grateful for Faith’s friendship, and now I’m so grateful that I’ve gotten to ride along a bit on their journey as a couple, and now share their joy! Congratulations and so much love to them this week!!

 

Projects

Millennials…

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. We’re all a part of the millennial generation. According to Wikipedia (which we’ll use as a source, since we’re all millennials here): Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when this cohort starts or ends. Demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years.

This week, Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian will share their thoughts on how or whether they feel like the labels and stereotypes associated with millennials apply to us.


Maggie
I have seen this video shared by people on the internet so many times. Every time there’s a caption like “Simon Sinek saves the world.” “Simon Sinek on how to fix millennials.” “I blame the parents.” Blah. Blah. Blah.
If you have 20 minutes, Simon’s observations are interesting, if condescending.

 

John Christ, a comedian, has also capitalized on our cultural “truth” about millennials in a series of amusing, if condescending, youtube videos.

I hate to be a “snow flake” or a “whimp” who just can’t take a joke…but I feel like these kinds of things, while they may have their place in our conversation don’t really capture the whole story here. I’m so frustrated by the stereotype of millennials. Maybe I’m being a millennial here, but…these things don’t describe me. I don’t feel like I’ve been ruined by text messages, Facebook likes, instagram or participation trophies. I’m not traumatized by getting unfriended by someone. I don’t feel like I’m allergic to work. I don’t feel like I’m entitled to a corner office.

I do feel like I was played by the system. I believed that by working hard in school (and I worked very hard and got really good grades), I would be able to get a good job when I graduated from college. You know, the kind where you can pay off your student loans and pay the rent for an apartment that didn’t have a cockroach problem. I didn’t need a corner office, a fancy title, or free snacks.

I expected that I could find an entry level white collar opportunity in some field. Accounting. Banking. Consulting. Something. Anything. Literally anything. But that was a luxury reserved for people who graduated in another time.

I graduated from college in 2009. And, I don’t know if you know this, but the World economy nearly collapsed, the housing market went belly up, and on top of that we (the collective, United States of America, “we”) ended the shuttle program, which was kind of a big deal for Florida’s Space Coast where I happened to find myself as a freshly minted college graduate in search of a first job.

I applied for a lot of jobs, and I got several. At one point, I had three part time jobs. All paid less than $10/hour. That was not fun. But, I struggled to find a better opportunity, for every “entry level” job I found, there was this line at the bottom “minimum five years of experience.” Where was I supposed to get this experience? I thought about moving somewhere else…but how was I supposed to afford to move? What if there weren’t any jobs there either?

At one point, I thought, “I have a degree in mathematics, surely I could get a job as a math teacher.” BUT….no. Budget cuts in our local school system meant that they weren’t hiring smart, enthusiastic people without a teaching certificate. So…I thought about going to graduate school to actually get qualified to do something, but wasn’t wild about the idea of borrowing more money and still not actually having a job.

I feel more like the guy in this Zen Riddles for Millennials than the millennial getting engaged or the people being described by Simon Sinek.

Maybe I’m too bitter about this. Maybe I don’t have enough perspective to see the reality of this situation. Maybe I don’t know a diverse enough collection of millennials to really appreciate how shallow, entitled, and addicted to screens we all are. I’m just saying…I think there is more to this story.

I’m not saying I’m retroactively entitled to a job. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to figure out some things. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for the career and business I’ve found. But I am saying that this should be a part of the conversation.


Mary Margaret

While brainstorming topics for the blog, Maggie tossed out a suggestion she’s mentioned before: Let’s write about what it means to be a Millennial. And I said…

Okayyyyy….but I’m not even really sure what that means.

Which pretty much says it all.

I’ve heard the term peppered throughout popular discourse—  disparaged by baby boomers, contrasted with Gen-Xers—without ever actually tuning in enough to define what it entails. But what I’ve learned since Maggie’s suggestion about my inclusion in this generation is rather handily contained in my response and reaction.

For one thing, I had an absolutely “millennial” solution to my problem. (Insert eye roll here) I immediately Googled the term, pulling up the Wikipedia page to skim through general definitions and subject headings. My adaptability to ever-changing technologies and information sources is undoubtedly a salient feature of my generation, and one that I’ll happily acknowledge.  I’m glad I remember when few people owned a personal cell phone or computer, when email was new, and when school research papers were drawn together using mystical elements like card catalogs, libraries, and reference books. Simultaneously, I’m glad that by the time I was in college, accessing online source material was common and expected, so I learned to be a discerning consumer of this new stream of information. Growing up with the growth of the Internet has saved our generation from the struggle faced by some of our parents in becoming literate with these new technologies. I’m grateful to have absorbed early that not everything you read on the Web is reliable, and that there’s really no such thing as privacy in that space. I like my inclusion in a demographic that straddles a recognition of what digital technology has given us, while possessing an ease of facility in its use. (Gracious, these kids today don’t even know what a pay phone is!)

I also admit to accompanying many of my peers in a trend of “delayed rites of passage” compared to early generations. While I moved away from home, got my degree and became financially independent not long after University, I haven’t married, bought a house, had kids… frequently pointed to as milestones of “adulting.” I also check other Millennial boxes like my career flexibility and desire to follow personal interests and passions in my job. Other points ring false for me, though, (such as the idea that Millennials are less religious, since my faith is critical to me and my worldview), and it is this rejection of the label that is perhaps most telling.

From Wikipedia, I learned my favorite thing about being a Millennial, which is that only a minority of us actually identifies as being Millennial!  So I thought, oh yes, I’m a Millennial (but not really, don’t put try and box me in and think you’ve understood me!) What I garner from this point is something I see reflected in the entire article–  constant references to our make-up as the most diverse generation, as well as the most educated. For better or worse, perhaps this awareness of our variations, paired with our knowledge of diversity in the larger world, makes us rail against identifying as groups. I mentioned briefly in our feminism post that I push back against self-identifying with labels, this slivering up of societal segments. Perhaps its’ my Millennial narcissism (cue second eye roll) that leads me to see myself (but also others!) as incredibly complex creatures that resist defining. Perhaps it’s my Millennial social liberalism that desires to see less fragmentation in our society and this pitting ourselves into different camps with different goals and motivations. Maybe it’s my Millennial positivism (umm, not totally sure this is me, actually) that hopes for this!

I dislike like the idea of belonging to the ME generation in many ways; I may in fact believe the selfie stick is what’s wrong with society at large. But if my Baby Boomer parents sought to instill in me a sense of self-esteem and specialness, the effect might actually have been that that while I often struggle to see ME this way, I very much believe this about YOU. The fundamental uniqueness and value of the individual is elemental to me, and it’s how I’d like to approach all my interactions with others, as much as I may fail practically at this.

If I’m important, so are you, so are we all. Millennial enough for you?


Jillian

I’m a millennial and I love it and I love millennials. I love our selfies and our internet slang and our memes. I love our technology obsessions and our new expectations about what our lives should look like.

If you belong to an older generation and you dislike millennials, I have some difficult news for you. It isn’t millennials you hate. It’s change.

For centuries, the invention of the printing press was considered the most pivotal moment in the history of civilization. Suddenly information could be mass produced. Knowledge could be handed out and passed around. Ideas could be shipped across borders in boxes.

Before, the world’s intellect was contained in small collections of rare, hand-written manuscripts. Only scholars and priests could read – no one else had any reason to. Suddenly, with the printing press, everyone had a reason to learn to read. Knowledge was diffused among the people, and with that, power was likewise diffused. Lay people could read the Bible for the first time in history, and Protestantism could be born. News could be disseminated and political pamphlets spread around – that’s how a revolution was begun and the world’s first modern democracy was born. And once people had a reason to read, people could also write. People could maintain relationships with loved ones across long distances through letters, giving them greater freedom to leave home and pursue new and better opportunities.

Once the printing press was invented, the world caught fire with intellectual growth and unimaginable possibilities. Everything changed.

Now, think about the invention of the internet.

No more is the printing press the most pivotal moment in the history of civilization. Now, the entire world’s catalog of knowledge and ideas is accessible via my smart phone or your Apple watch. I not only can talk to my friends anywhere in the world at any time – I can meet entirely new people anywhere in the world on social media. I can pay bills, consult with a doctor, get a degree and petition my government all online. I can broadcast my own ideas to the world, and if they resonate with other people, I might be heard by millions.

The most pivotal moment in the history of the world is this one, right now.

The power and possibilities of the internet have expanded so rapidly and are still expanding so rapidly that we have no idea where they will lead, what new responsibilities will come, what new problems, or how we will face them. That’s scary, but it’s unstoppable. The future is exploding. And we are alive to see where it all goes and even to participate.

I think about all this wildness, all this excitement, all this danger, all this newness, all this profundity… And then I hear people talking about how the young people today should be more like the young people of yesterday.

It’s like a record scratch. What? Do you not see what’s happening? How could my generation possibly be like your generation? And how would we survive this cultural explosion if we were?

Your generation, your youth, were great. And so are ours. It’s not better, it’s different.

The march of progress is inevitable. And when something like the invention of the internet happens, that march becomes a tidal wave. So, you can disdain these developments and most of all the way they’ve changed people. Or you can appreciate the extraordinary magnitude of this moment and marvel at the unprecedented ways in which humankind is adapting to this radically new environment.

I’m a millennial but I’m an old millennial. The kids my husband teaches are young millennials, and they’re much different than me. I hope I never grow to look on their habits, attitudes or values with disgust – they were born into a different world than I was, though our births were only 15 years apart. I hope I always maintain a joyful curiosity about the perspectives of the young and an openness to the wondrous complexities of progress.

For now, I’ll proudly wear the millennial label in honor of this spectacular moment in time.

In the words of every millennial’s favorite Broadway musical, “Look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now.”

Projects

Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile. 
 

Really this post is just a continuation of our Thursday post, because I’d like to write about my Fourth of July. For starters, I had the opportunity to spend several hours on the phone that day with Maggie and Jillian. We talked long enough that I heard Maggie’s elder daughter in the background saying, “Mommy, why are you talking to Mary Margaret for so long? That is tooooo long.” But, sorry Naomi, truthfully it was so nice to just talk and talk, without anywhere in particular that any of us needed to rush off to. This rarely happens in the busyness of life, yes?  I’m so grateful to the husbands, children, and tasks that wait patiently while we refill our spirits with a good triangle conversation.

In the afternoon I walked all the way down Ocean Parkway from my house to the Brighton Beach Boardwalk and met up with my friend Val. We talked and people-watched until the beach got dark and the fireworks began over at Coney Island. Were there tons of people around? Yes. Was it a nightmare getting back on the train at the end of the evening? Of course. But the event was smile-worthy for several reasons. Val’s company-always- but also because it unexpectedly made me feel great about what America is able to encompass.
On the boardwalk watching the fireworks was sort of an American ideal in a nutshell– meaning it managed to be a place that easily and quite beautifully held all the languages, cultures, and demographics that were around me. I could stand in one spot and hear Spanish, English, Russian, and languages I didn’t even recognize echoing around me. Val and I stood sandwiched between two Muslim families,the women dressed in brightly colored hijabs and festive clothes for the holiday. On the whole, actually, the fashions we witnessed were…epic. People of all ages, genders, cultures, and orientations surrounded us, and we watched together, cheering collectively at the end for the grand finale. It was like being in one of those heart-string-tugging commercials they tried desperately to make for the Super Bowl following the president’s travel ban, only this was authentic, unplanned, unaffected. And not everyone was drinking Coca-Cola. Sorry, Jillian.
It felt like America realized. American as an experience– and I was grateful to live where in this city and have the opportunity to dwell in a moment like that. As corny as it sounds, I love that we were all so different, but we stood together in our differences and enjoyed a simple pleasure like viewing some aesthetically pleasing controlled explosions in the sky over a large body of water. Yes, Americans are kind of weird, but I can love us for that too. I’m hard on my country, because I expect a lot of us, but moments like this emobdy for me an America worth loving and an America worth standing up for.
3:30 Thursday, Projects, Triangle Tuesday

America the Beautiful…

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. Lately America has seemed a little, ummm….ugly? In spite of well-intentioned and idealistic talk, there’s been very little unity building in this country since last November’s election. In honor of Independence Day this week, the 3:30 gals remind ourselves and you that there’s so much to celebrate with some awesome, uniquely American things! 


Mary Margaret

  1. Geography. No seriously, folks. The song about fruited plains, mountains, and shining coastlines is poignantly correct when we consider the vastness of diversity in our country. The Grand Canyon, the Rockies, Appalachia, coastlines, forests, lakes, glaciers, volcanoes; there’s profoundly wondrous natural beauty in this land, which is worth celebrating and protecting!
  2. Bluegrass Music. You’re welcome,  world. Or sorry, world, depending on if you’re       anti-banjo. Sure, it may not be for everyone, but I’m grateful for this uniquely      American sound, born on this soil.
  3. The First Moon Landing. The anniversary of this is also in July, and I’d just like to remark that while I wasn’t even alive when this happened, I still find it        incredibly inspiring that Americans dreamed of, planned, implemented and achieved walking on the moon. Multiple times. Obviously I am not a conspiracy theorist here. Maybe I’m just captured by the sheer capacity of humans to dwell in everyday realities and yet believe in things that seem fantastical!
  4. Regionalism. Diversity is complicated. Diversity is also cool, if you ask me. Technologies may be making us increasingly more homogenized, but I still think it’s cool that you can travel to a different part of your own country, your own town, your own city even and be surprised by what you find in the myriad of religions, languages, cuisines, cultures and subcultures that this nation contains.
  5. Rocket Pops. Enough Said.

Rocket-popsicle


Maggie

  1. The Internet. I recognize that the internet isn’t specifically American, and that internet trolling, cyber bullying, and cyber security are real and challenging issues that come along with the internet. But, thanks to the internet, I also get to see my family on video calls, collaborate with my friends who live far away, and see hilarious videos on youtube. I have the encyclopedia of the whole world available when I want to learn whether cloth or disposable diapers are better, or how to pronounce quinoa. We can all work on our cyber manners, but I’m still going to count the internet as a win for America.
  2. National Parks. We have some amazing National Parks in our country. I get to enjoy the Canaveral National Seashore on a pretty regular basis, but there’s more. The Saguaro National Cactus forest is amazing, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons…and that’s just the few that have made a big impact on me. I have a passport to the National Parks, so I can track all the one’s I’ve been, too. It’s not very full, but maybe something to work on like in Mary Margaret’s Some Suggestions for Saturday.
  3. Musicals. The Musical is a decidedly American art form. And whether your favorite is Oklahoma, Ragtime, Hamilton, West Side Story, Les Miserables, Wicked, Urinetown – or one of the many other wonderful and noteworthy American Musicals. I think they’re delightful. I haven’t taken the opportunity to enjoy live theater in a while, but I still hum show tunes all. the. time.
  4. Libraries. I love libraries so much! I love them! There’s something about being in a building full of books that makes me feel like the world will be well. And mercifully, even in my small community, we have public libraries available for everyone.
  5. Interstate Highway System. I think it’s incredible that I could get in my car right now and drive, for free, on a pretty good road all the way to Tacoma Washington. As long as my car could make it, I could go there. I know from playing Oregon Trail in Elementary School that many people didn’t make that trip. But I can! Why? GPS, interstate highways and gas stations.

Jillian

  1. Satire. America is the land of democracy and free speech – the land of the everyday, ordinary person. So there’s really nothing more American than laughing at the powerful.
  2. Conspiracy Theories. Another wonderful element of free speech – you are allowed to talk shit about your government, you are allowed to call out the ugly things they do, and you are allowed to endlessly postulate about all kinds of outrageous and horrible things they may or may not have done at all. And I love it. I don’t personally believe that they faked the moon landing, or that a crashed alien spacecraft is hidden away at Area 51. But if you do, please tell me because I could listen to you talk for hours. (And I totally do believe that FDR sent Amelia Earhart to spy on the Japanese and that they captured her, that FDR did not even try to save her, and that both governments have covered it up this whole time. This Sunday on the History Channel, 9/8c.)
  3. Generous personal space. I think the abundance of geographic space in America is what makes us inclined to claim a lot of it for ourselves. We have big houses and big cars and we have BIG perimeters of personal space around us at all times. And that is something I profoundly love about being an American. When you’re in America, strangers try to stay about 3 feet away from you, and that is the best way. The American way.
  4. Vegetables. Okay, this one is cheating a little bit, because these things are particular to the New World on the whole, and a lot of them originated in Central or South America. But I think very few Americans realize how special our vegetables are. Ireland had no potatoes before they were brought back from the New World. Italy had no tomatoes. I can’t even list all the things we wouldn’t have without corn. Truthfully we should all be celebrating the Fourth in the produce section at Kroger.
  5. Coca-Cola. I’ve saved the best for last. Coke is hands down the greatest American invention, don’t even @ me. Coke has conquered the world with its delicious, fizzy, tooth-decaying goodness and its gorgeous logo and its amazingly uplifting commercials – how do they even do that?!?! Wherever you are in the world, when you see that beautiful white scroll on that red background, your heart fills with pride. God bless America.
Motivation Monday, Projects

Ask for help

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how for that week, I needed to stretch myself and get it done. It was a week where everything needed to happen, and I needed to do it.

After 24 hours of contemplating this, I cracked.

I realized that I didn’t have the emotional or energy reserves to be Wonder Mom or Super Woman for the week, and I needed help! So, I did what any grown woman would do in that situation, I called my mom.

“Don’t you want to drive down and spend the week with me?!?!?!”

Luckily for me, it worked out, and as a bonus I got to spend a few days not just with my mom, but also with two of my sisters and her dog. It made a hard week more fun for me and my daughters.

I often think I’m being weak or lazy when I ask for help, but I think it’s also valuable – dare I say essential – to recognize that we can’t do everything for ourselves or by ourselves. Sometimes, you need a little support, and other times, you need a lot of support.

So, I hope that this week, when you need it, you’ll remember to ask for help.

Projects

Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

A week where it was hard to pick which thing to share today- What a blessing of a problem to have. Undoubtedly there continue to be constantly discouraging things in the news, on top of loved ones in my life who are currently dealing with really difficult circumstances;  and always there are the general ups and downs of day to day life. But for all of that, thank you God for your persistent reminders of goodness in our world. This week I got to celebrate a friend’s birthday with her, open a play at my new job, catch up with several other friends, and enjoy some beautiful summer weather! But I’ll leave you with a smile-worthy poster I happened to see on the train platform the day of the NYC Pride Parade.

As my Mom always told me- Hate is a very strong word. Here’s a service advisory: There’s no time or place or occasion for hate. Now go forth and love!

pride

3:30 Thursday, Projects

Should have Gotten a Pedicure…Barefoot Tales!

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. Now that summer has officially arrived, the time for kicking off your shoes and feeling the grass between your toes, we bring you stories of going barefoot! 


Jillian

When I look at my bare feet, I think of my mother.

It seems to me that 90% of what it means to be a woman you learn by the time you’re three years old. You learn it from your mother, just from looking at her and watching her move and listening to her tones.

I studied my mother. I watched her curl her hair, I noticed the blackness of her mascara-ed eyelashes and the redness of her lipsticked lips. I touched her smooth, shaved legs. The thing that captivated me perhaps most of all was her bright, colorful, beautiful, perfect toenails. They were different shades of pink and red all the time, from neutral to bold, sometimes flecked with gold. Her toenails were never bare. In my memory, they were never even chipped.

As I grew into a teenager, I realized how much discipline and attention it takes to pull off the consistent, daily performance of femininity – the hair, the hair products, the hair removal, the creams and pumices, the makeup and the nail polish. I realized that my mother has that kind of discipline and attention, and I realized that I will never have that. And I decided it wasn’t something I wanted for myself anyway – I don’t want to fret about a perfect appearance, I want to leave my mind free for other thoughts.

Now, when summertime arrives, I paint my toenails like I’m supposed to and then I forget all about it. I just go about my life, to work or to church or to Fourth of July picnics, with my toes peeking out, blissfully unaware of the weeks-old polish flaking away.

But occasionally I see my toenails with the polish halfway eroded and I think to myself, That is shameful. And then I smile, because it reminds me of something so old and universal. Something about the way a little girl looks at her mother, something about the innumerable things that you learn just from watching her. And something about that part of you that, despite all the growing up and changing and rejecting and discovering, will always wish you could be just a little bit more like her.


Maggie

I have organized a large part of my life around my desire to not wear shoes. As a Martial Arts instructor, I teach all of my classes in bare feet; in my home, I don’t wear shoes; and, in between, I try to wear sandals as much as possible. Since I live in Florida, this is socially and seasonably acceptable.

One side effect of my barefoot lifestyle is that I spend a LOT of time vacuuming and mopping. Every day our training floor must be vacuumed (sometimes twice), and at least once a week we clean and sanitize the mat. A fellow instructor once told my husband and me that “when you clean the mat you clean your soul.”

At the time I thought he had gone off the deep end.

But with time, I have come to appreciate that lifting the dust, dirt and grime off the mat and being constantly vigilant about foot fungus is good for my soul (pun intended).

I find that the daily ritual of vacuuming the mat very soothing. I’ll listen to a podcast, strap one of my daughters on our baby back pack, and the white noise of the vacuum cleaner will lull her to sleep. It’s a peaceful, cuddly weightlifting exercise.

Having grown up in the church, I have heard at least 30 sermons (probably more) on the The Last Supper and particularly the moment when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Most of the sermons emphasize how humbling this was because the disciples probably had disgusting feet – they walked everywhere, lived in a desert climate, had no running water, etc. But it wasn’t until I began my daily practice of cleaning up after other’s people’s feet that these sermon illustrations really hit home, and I have come to appreciate how much dirt people pick up and leave behind with their feet, but also how nice it is to clean away the dirt you pick up every day.

I feel like my feet probably look a lot like the disciples’ feet – calloused ,and by the end of most days, they’re pretty dirty. But they’re also tough – I can walk across most surfaces unprotected by sock or shoe. In my baptism, my head was sprinkled with water, symbolizing the washing away of sin, but nothing feels cleaner to me than having my feet cleaned and clearing away the dust and dirt from the day.

There is so much that comes at us every day. So many stories to hear, so many issues to care about, so many things that taking a few minutes to clear away the the grime and leaving your sole fresh and refreshed can be good for your spirit and your sole.


Mary Margaret

The first thing I do when I walk into my apartment? Take off my shoes. Aside from the sanitary benefits of not wearing New York City pavement-pounders all over my floors, removing my shoes is my signal to myself that I’m home. I instantly feel more comfortable and like myself when I’ve achieved foot freedom- Closest to my natural state of being. If I could safely go barefoot more places, I would. But you know, glass and dog poop, so freedom has its limits.

The human spectrum of reaction to the uncovered foot, ranging from lust to disgust is expansive, but whether you loathe or delight in toes, to me there’s something so visceral and immediate about the uncovered foot’s connection to memories. The physical sense of the ground, temperatures and textures, earthen or manmade, wet or dry, solid or crumbling surfaces—these feelings come yoked to my recollections as if I could feel their matter beneath my toes once more. Being barefoot seems to make my sense of place more immediately and firmly etched into mind. Smell, taste and sound connect more intimately to my emotional memory—how I felt in a moment—but the feel of a place is under my feet. For instance:

The lacquered wooden beams and pebbly mats of every yoga studio I’ve ever entered. No wonder yoga has been my favorite form of physical activity for over a decade, since it’s rather unique in being safely practiced sans footwear. I feel most grounded in my own physical self on my mat, digging my toes down, acknowledging gravity and the connection from toe to ball, to heel, to every other part of my body.

Cool, smooth, richly ornamented carpets of the mosques I visited in the Middle East. As my head was covered, so were my feet uncovered to respect these spaces. Thinking of leaving my shoes in small cubby holes by the door to tiptoe lightly across the rugs, threadbare from the thousands that came before me to visit and pray at these sights, instantly brings me back to the year I spent in East Jerusalem, and traveling in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt.

Cool, hard stone floors of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. I’ve long loved the annual Maundy Thursday practice of foot washing in my congregation. We wash and are washed, literally touching the bare feet of people we only casually know. If you aren’t a pedicurist, you’d probably never do this, and for me, I’ve found it to be a palpable reminder of the kind of humility Jesus calls us to. If he could wash the dust covered feet of His Disciples, surely we can at least bring ourselves to pour some water over the foot of an elderly choir director, finding some holiness in humbleness.

Shorelines: mud, grits, pebbles, sand, stones, debris. Many places I’ve been blessed to visit- in Italy, the Middle East, East and West Coasts– had some body of water, affording the chance to step directly into the soil and water of the land. This can be a perilous pursuit. Jetty rocks are often sharp, creatures in the sand may pinch or sting, icy water may cause your toes to numb, but allowing no barrier between you and Mother Nature invites a fullness of experience impossible with barriers of rubber, leather or canvas blocking the way.

Is this perhaps the heart of what I’m trying to say about going barefoot? I long to get everything out of the way to be more consciously present? In yoga, the “chakras” describe locations where energy flows in, out, and around the body. While I don’t attach spiritual significance to this per se, I enjoy this mental exercise of visualizing energy. I feel corny verbalizing this, but I think I’m so eager to take my shoes off because of my internal sense that it brings authenticity to my experience of that place. I’m ready to kick off my shoes, seeking sensation of the inward and outward flow of energy through my foot chakras, rooted under the balls of each foot. Maybe I’m striving, hoping to soak in the energy and memory of places through my toes and legs, up, up, up, through torso and heart center, all the way to my brain and inner eye where it can lodge and dwell as memories of unique and singular places and moments where my feet once found themselves.

 

Projects

Some Suggestions on Saturday?

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

My birthday is now less than a month away. I have just a few short weeks left in my twenties, before the clock strikes midnight, and I join my fellow 3:30 girls in hitting 30. I admit, I’m still not really sure how that is going to make me feel. One thing I have done for a number of recent years in anticipation of my birthday is to create lists. For one thing, I love a list. Let me try this again…I LOVE a list. Arbitrary or not, they help me feel calmer because they allow me to create some semblance of productivity, order, and organization out of situations that seem overwhelming. A list doesn’t solve something outright, but it helps me articulate what I feel spinning around my brain in a way that feels more manageable. Sometimes lists are about organizing time. Sometimes lists are about remembering. Sometimes lists are even about giving language to hopes and ideals. I’m a firm believer that while by no means exhaustive, lists can range from the mundane to the profound in expressing the clutter of the human experience of having a monkey brain. I mean, c’mon, Moses came down from the mountain after meeting with GOD, and what does he bring back to explain how the Israelites should conduct their own lives and relationships? A list!!

Now that you are all firmly convinced of my Type A neuroticism, let me explain what I’m getting at. I started creating lists (with the exception of 1 year) after age 25 at my birthday, calling them “25 Things in my 25th Year,” “27 Things in my 27 year” “28 Things in my…” you get the picture? On these numbered lists would be ideas for the year ahead– ranging from activities purely fun to more goal-oriented tasks. I don’t really go in for “bucket lists,” but I like the idea of prompting and urging myself to try new things as I get older. It isn’t so much that I dread age the way some do, but that I want to counteract a feeling that with age, the more engrained becomes force of habit or stasis. I’d like to believe that continual evolution, innovation, and learning continue throughout life.

I add to these lists places to go, experiences to have, foods to try, books to read– a mix of things that can be done in an hour, a day, a month, and spread throughout the year– some things should be no-or-low-cost (in resource and effort), and others require something of me. Here are a few things (in list form!!) that I’ve done in the past few years:

*Read the entire Bible

*Ran a half-marathon

*Watched an opera at the Metropolitan Opera House

*Opened a Roth IRA

*Joined the bone marrow donor registry

*Knit two quilts

*Taken an African dance class

*Seen the Rockette’s Christmas show

*Tried chicken & waffles, New York egg creams, and whiskey sours for the first time

*Visited the Whitney Museum, Museum of the City of New York, and the Jewish Museum of NY

*Read Atlas Shrugged, War and Peace, Moby Dick,  Pilgrim’s Progress, and The Seven Storey Mountain, among others

*Done the balancing yoga pose “Crow” for 10 seconds

*Gone on dates via a dating website

*Seen classic films I’d never seen like Citizen Kane, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Vertigo

As you can see, there is a mix of fun and business, some things that are time consuming, and others humorously easy. I never accomplish all the things on the list, but there isn’t actually pressure to complete the list. Sometimes things roll over to the next year if I still have interest, and some just go away.

I’m telling you all this because I’m starting early this year to compile the list. This year it’s THE BIG 30. And I’m taking suggestions. Is there a book, movie, experience, food, drink, museum, location, goal, project, class that sounds interesting to you that you’d suggest I add? I may already have done it, no problem. I may not be interested, no offense. But this year I’d really love to have people help me brainstorm if they have any inclination! It helps me continue to expand what the list can be, which was the idea right? I may be turning 30, but my world and me in it, can still grow.

So throw ’em at me folks!! Any ideas?

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.

giphy (12)

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.

Motivation Monday, Projects

I always get the most done when I have the most to do

I have a crazy busy week coming up.

My husband is going out of town to do some professional training and compete for World Champion at the ATA World Expo in Little Rock, Arkansas. If you’re not a fan of Martial Arts, and specifically my style of Martial Arts, it probably totally meaningless to you, but it’s a big deal for him and for us.

Because of the timing of this year’s event, I’m staying home to run our business and take care of our two little girls.

On the one hand, I’m completely overwhelmed by the prospect of this week (in fact, I have delayed doing some important preparation because I just didn’t want to think about it), but on the other hand, I know from experience, that I will probably get it all done. Our classes will happen, our family will be fed, my husband will get where he needs to go, and I’ll probably manage to keep our house in an above average state of order.

Why?

Because I have to.

And if there’s something that I’m not able to do, finish or accomplish…I’ll still have to figure something out.

I think this is crazy, but it’s true. The more I have to do, the more I get done. There have been times in my life where I had no commitments or obligations, and I got nothing done. I could have done literally anything – meditated on the beach, re-read all seven Harry Potter books, written The Great American Novel, learned to knit, crusaded for World Peace – yet I filled that time with nothing of lasting consequence.

I’ll be honest, this week, I’m sure I’ll wish I had a little bit of that down time in a bottle for a quick recharge, and I know that I couldn’t be productive like this for an extended period of time. Part of what makes a sprint like this possible is knowing exactly where the finish line is and being able to see it for the whole race. But I still find it motivating because it’s an opportunity to stretch myself and prove to myself that I have energy, time and resources on a regular basis that I’m not tapping into.

What do you think?

Do you get more done when you have more to do? Or do you prefer a more even pace to work?

I hope you have a great week!