Tag Archives: Jessica Stillman

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar’s “Take On Me”, the Woman Slowly Fading, Mama’s Table, Relationship Hacks, and Voices of Influence

Happy weekend! Here are my five faves of this week – rapid-fire.

1) Beyond the Guitar’s “Take On Me”Nathan Mills does it again.  He takes Norwegian band A-Ha‘s 1985 hit “Take On Me” to a whole new level on classical guitar. So beautiful that lyrics aren’t needed; the nostalgia is already there. This song is featured in the video game The Last of Us Part II. Whether you loved it or hated it in the soundtrack of that game (or not a gamer)…its melody is “all the feels” under the deft fingers of Beyond the Guitar. Enjoy!

2) To The Woman Slowly Fading – I didn’t know the work of Scottish poet Donna Ashworth until my great-niece posted the poem below on her social media. She (my great-niece) is mum to three little ones; in fact, three under the age of three at the time.

She is tired and pulled. Yet in the tired, she is full of joy.

I’m grateful she shared this poem because it told me something about her and it also illuminated something I had been feeling from a very different place. My niece is nearer the beginning of her life’s journey, and I am closer to the ending. Nothing sad here; just what is.

At our latest family dinner, I had that strange thought of fading. A moment of poignancy taking in the lovely scene of adult children and wee ones around the table. Ashworth describes this sense of fading so well. Read for yourself the lines below.

To the woman who has lost her spark.
To the woman whose get up and go, has well and truly gone.
This is for you.
This is to remind you whose daughter you are.
This is to remind you, that you don’t have to be everything to everyone, every day.
You didn’t sign up for that.
Remember when you used to laugh? Sing? Throw caution to the wind?
Remember when you used to forgive yourself more quickly for not always being perfect.
You can get that back again.
You really can.
And that doesn’t have to mean letting people down or walking away.
It just means being kinder to you, feeling brave enough to say no sometimes.
Being brave enough to stop sometimes.
And rest.
It starts the moment you realise that you’re not quite who you used to be. Some of that is good, some of that is not.

There are parts of you that need to be brought back.

And if anyone in your life is not okay with that… they are not your people. Your people will be glad to see that spark starting to light up again.

So, if you have been slowly fading away my friend, this is the time to start saying yes to things that bring you joy and no to things that don’t.

It’s really pretty simple. – Donna Ashworth, To the Women

I do take exception to the one line: “Saying yes to things that bring you joy and no to things that don’t.” Fortunately for my young niece’s children, she is not going to ignore their cries in the middle of the night, or their tears after a fall, or their fears of the unknown. These things do not bring her joy, but they are part of the journey.

Difficult family members, friends in crisis, health issues, mounting drama in the world’s press…we can’t always say no, but we can measure ourselves out in wise and thoughtful ways. There is sacrifice in life, and, with it, joy.

So if we are fading…may it be for good reasons. Squeezing all we can out of life and relationships…even the hard ones. Not leaving anything left on the field when the clock runs out (was that phrase from Vince Lombardi?). No slow fade. Intentional. Deliberate. Owning it.

For believers of Jesus, there is a call reflective of this: On the return of the Messiah one day, we are reminded of the joy of that great day when “He must increase, and I must decrease”. (John 3:30) As on a wedding day, we take in that glorious arrival of the bridegroom for his bride.

Fading may be how we feel, but the reality is we all have various seasons in our life’s journey. Each with its own glory, joy, and exhaustion.

Life…taking it all in.

“You may begin to notice that you’re invisible. Especially if you’re short and gray-haired. But I say to whom? And so what?”Grace Paley on the Art of Growing Older

Donna Ashworth – poetry website

“History Will Remember” – a Pandemic Poem – Donna Ashworth

3) Mama’s Table – Our youngest child, Dan, has been affectionately referred to as a food snob. He loves all kinds of food but can be hyper-critical of what he considers bland food or just the wrong mix of flavors or textures. Fortunately he is a good cook and he has been since middle school. On bake sale days back then, he would take his cupcakes into school and brought empty platters back home. His yeast rolls, from a favorite teacher’s recipe, were amazing. He and a small cadre of high school friends who loved to cook (well, to eat, for sure) even started a cooking club.

They had a great time together, and we enjoyed their feasts with them. Nothing like a kitchen full of friends and all good things – loud laughter, strong opinions, and the yummiest blend of fragrances.

Food has its own culture and anthropology. In fact, Dan has moved on from just cookbooks focused on recipes to thick volumes covering not just the food of Persia, Malaysia, or Russia but the culture that goes along with the food.

The article below reads like some of those texts.

The Economics Behind Grandma’s Tuna Casseroles – Megan McArdle

McArdle tells the story of how decisions were made in homes across America from the 1890s right through present-day. The quote below resonates deeply with the food experience I knew growing up.

“The great blessing of my life is that my mother did not let me become a food snob. She was from a small town in middle America, and she did not view this as any great handicap. Nor did she look down on the culinary tradition she inherited from her mother, a “good plain cook” of the miracle-whip-and-white-bread Midwestern persuasion whose pie crust was infallible. We did not mess around with limp chicken breasts and cans of Campbell’s Soup, but I have eaten plenty of Jell-O salad, and liked it. (On summer days, I still occasionally crave shredded carrots and crushed pineapple embedded in orange jello made with ginger ale. Don’t sneer; it is delightful and refreshing.) Apples, bananas and raisins, dripping with Miracle Whip, were served as a salad in my house, and one of my favorite dishes from my grandmother was ground meat and pasta shells in Ragu. I still bake out of the Betty Crocker 1950 cookbook, and have never found a better guide to the classic American layer cake.”

We got a Betty Crocker cookbook as a wedding present and I still use it. I remember growing up with Campbell soup and Jello salads. Money was always tight so Mom would use pork brains (??) from a can to add to eggs to make them stretch far enough for us four kids. My first pizza was from a Chef Boyardee box. We never ate out at a restaurant, but I remember when a McDonald’s opened up near us (the first one in our area), and Mom took us for burgers and fries as a reward for behaving ourselves at the grocery store. That was a big deal. Church suppers were a big deal as we sampled what our friends enjoyed at their homes. Food was (and is) much more than just nourishment.

How about you? What is your food culture? Or rather the culture you knew as a child. For many of us these days, our food cultures are diverse and delicious…but we still remember the culture of Mama’s table.

4) Relationship Hacks – Just a few finds on how we treat each other, and sometimes ourselves.

Photo Credit: C. S. Lewis, AZ Quotes

“Every day, we have the opportunity to be more thoughtful, respectful, supportive toward people living with ‘invisible’ challenges.”Ian Kremer

Someone Needs Your Encouragement – Marshall Segal

5 Phrases that Make People Discount What You’re Saying – Gwen Moran

Use the Magic 5:1 Ratio to Improve All Your Relationships – Jessica Stillman

5 Indicators of an Evil Heart – Signs of a Narcissistic Partner – Lesli White

Jacqueline Woodson’s Lovely Letter to Children About Kindness, Presence, and How Books Transform Us – Maria Popova

5) Voices of Influence – Amidst all the voices gracing our lives and in the news media, we have some truly stellar influencers. Below are just a few:

73-17 In the Making – Sho Baraka, Jackie Hill Perry, Propaganda

Rapper’s Twitter Thread About Human Behavior During Pandemic Goes Viral: People Will ‘Demand’ Authoritarianism ‘When Sufficiently Frightened’ – Zuby – Charlotte Pence Bond

YouTube Video – Black Self-Making – Glenn Loury & John McWhorter

YouTube Video – Breaking the Silence – 2021 Documentary on psychosis and psychotic disorders. Written, directed, and produced by Dara Sanandaji.

___________________________________________________________________________
Have a safe weekend filled with sweet times with people you love.
Bonuses:
Photo Credit: Twitter, Ian Kremer
Photo taken at the Jefferson Memorial, Three Panel

5 Friday Faves – Emotional Intelligence, Hand Massage, a TV Commercial, 40% Rule, Zelda – & a Bonus

Blog - Friday Faves

Friday is here again…and I’m looking back over another week that went by in a blur. Glad to share some of the discoveries of this past week. Would love to hear about your week’s finds (comment below).

1) Emotional Intelligence – This is a concept that’s been around for awhile now, but I never really read about it until this week.  Matt Monge’s article for The Mojo Company sparked my interest. He described 6 symptoms of leaders with low emotional intelligence. Here’s the definition: “Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” 

Two of Monge’s points were: 1) Leaders with low emotional intelligence say “I’m sorry you feel that way” more than “I’m sorry,” and 2) Leaders with low emotional intelligence often blame the people they hurt for the situations leading to them being hurt. Daniel Goleman has written several books on this topic including Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. The very cool thing about emotional intelligence is that it can be developed. The big dilemma is whether bosses who tend not to be bothered by their impact on personnel would buy into this or not. Incorporating such concepts in personnel accountability metrics might provide some incentive. I’ve added graphics below that helped me further understand emotional intelligence.Blog - Friday Faves - Leadership - Emotional IntelligencePhoto Credit: Self Study History

Blog - Friday Faves - Emotional Intelligence - grid - dollieslagerPhoto Credit: Dollie Slager

Blog - Friday Faves - Emotional Intelligence - low & highPhoto Credit: The King and Queen

2) Hand Massage – My dad is 93 years old. He has Alzheimer’s. I can’t imagine he has ever had a hand massage in his whole adult life until this past week. The memory care unit which is now home to him has this lovely activities director. One of his first days there, she brought over two warm washcloths and wrapped both his hands. Then she began massaging each one. He just melted into a relaxed, soothed puddle.  One of his repetitive actions is to scratch his hand which he does to distraction. Hand massage is such a thoughtful, therapeutic act. It never dawned on me to do such a thing. Midway down an excellent piece on Alzheimer’s by staff at University of Maryland, massage is recommended as treatment to calm these patients. So glad Dad is where he is with these engaged caregivers.Blog - Dad and hand massage

3) A TV Commercial – We all discover human interest videos through our social media sites. This is my favorite for the week. The #SharetheLoad video produced by Ariel (a washing detergent we used overseas) in India is beautiful. The message is a father’s regret that he modeled for his wife and daughter a very passive role in the home. Even as an older man (the commercial goes), he determined to make that right. Whether it happens or not in such homes today, the message is a powerful one.

4) 40% Rule – So I found this Fortune article on my Twitter feed. Sidd Finch wrote about Jesse Itzler’s encounter with David Goggins, a Navy Seal. during a 100-mile relay race. Goggins was running the entire race without relay partners. Itzler was so intrigued by this ultra-athlete that he actually invited him to live with Itzler’s family for a month. Out of this time together came the book Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet. Goggins taught Itzler about the Navy Seals’ 40% Rule.

Itzler explains, “He would say that when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done. And he had a motto: If it doesn’t suck we don’t do it. And that was his way of forcing us to get uncomfortable to figure out what our baseline was and what our comfort level was and just turning it upside-down.”

“The 40% rule, the SEAL explained, is the reason why even though most people hit a wall at mile 16 during a marathon, they’re still able to finish.”

Blog - Friday Faves - 40 percent rule - David GogginsPhoto Credit: Just Go Fitness

“I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when I’m done.”David Goggins

Blog - Friday Faves - 40 percent rule - Navy Seals - David GogginsPhoto Credit: AZ Quotes

5) Zelda The Legend of Zelda is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. I recently wrote briefly about it here. Koji Kondo wrote much of the music for the video game series. Blog - Friday Faves - Video Games - Link of The Legend of ZeldaPhoto Credit: Cogswell.edu

Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar has posted two covers so far to showcase how beautiful the music is and how well it’s captured on classical guitar. I wrote about the first cover previously, and here’s his second piece. Happy 30th Anniversary, Legend of Zelda.

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence (with featured article “What Makes a Leader?” by Daniel Goleman)

10 Signs You Have Exceptional Mental Strength by Jessica Stillman

BONUS: If you got this far, you will be so rewarded! Very few people in my life watch American Idol, and this is its final (15th) season. I am not fond of the whole reality show murkiness of it, but the performances of these gifted young people and the judges (Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr., and Jennifer Lopez) are captivating as well. I want to post videos of two amazing performances from this week’s elimination show (elimination meaning the week the field of contestants narrows to the Top 10). The first video is that of La’Porsha Renae who may very well become the final American Idol. This one can sing!!!

We were overseas when American Idol’s first season aired. I don’t actually remember how I saw Kelly Clarkson in that competition, but I remember following her. She was the first American Idol winner, and the rest is history. To be honest, Kelly Clarkson was off my music listening grid…until now. The song she wrote and performed, Piece by Piece, deals with the painful subject of a father who deserted her as a young child. The song also celebrates the very different man she married, the faithful father of her daughter. This song may make you cry. Wow!