Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Woman in Her Thirties and the Heroes We All Need

Have you guys seen The Great British Baking Show? If not, it's on Netflix. And you're going to need to watch it.

Let me be clear about a few things before I start talking about this important piece of television. The first is that I don't have time for television. Neither do you, I'm guessing. We are back to school, the newest members of the swim and hockey teams, oh, and did I mention work and all the other millions of things we have going on? Every single day is a race to the finish, and every morning we wake up and start a new race all over again.





Who has time to watch TV? WHO?

After a particularly taxing day recently, I decided that instead of 'winding down' with a scroll through the news and reading about how things are... well... very... you know... I decided I would give The Great British Baking Show a try.

This is the show the world needs right now. Here's why:

Everyone is kind. 
I completely realize I sound like a Pollyanna hippie when I say this, but I simply don't understand why people are so friggin mean to each other. Maybe the mean parts of The Great British Baking Show are edited out; maybe Mary really is a horrible human being who is secretly making fun of each contestant on the show, but I doubt it. The Great British Baking Show is a competition, and yet everyone, even the people in competition with each other, still finds a way to get along and not call each other horrible names.  See, people? It's possible.

There is no unnecessary drama. 
We need to talk about how news nowadays has been sensationalized to to soap-opera proportions. Don't get me wrong-- I love a good drama, and I love getting all the feelz. But a Kardashian announcing a pregnancy is not 'Breaking News'. In fact, it's not important in the least. Maybe we should also apply that philosophy to some other famous people, too. The Great British Baking Show doesn't have ridiculously dramatic music; the hosts don't pit people against each other and try to get them to talk sh*t. It's strictly a fact-based presentation of how each competitor has performed. How refreshing!

There is civil discussion of complicated issues. 
I'm a woman in her (very) late thirties now, so I know a few things. One thing I know for sure is that very few issues have black and white solutions. Let's take Mary's Cherry Cake, which was part of the competition in the first or second show:


Each contestant had to recreate this masterpiece, using the same ingredients and minimal directions. Each came up with varying versions, each with their own problems and successes. It took a lot of discussion of technique and evaluations of the final product to come up with the winner, and even that one had its flaws. If Mary's Cherry Cake requires this much bi-partisan discussion, I think it's safe to say that a zinger on Twitter is not going to solve the problem of, oh I don't know, immigration reform.

Active listening. 
Though every contestant on The Great British Baking Show is an expert baker and the judges are legitimately famous for their craft, I have yet to see anyone on that show plug their ears, say their way is the only way, and not be willing to listen to other people's ideas and concerns. Here's an example of what happens on this show:


Notice how they are looking at the person talking and listening to what they are saying. They might think this guy is totally out of his mind doing what he's doing, but they are still giving him the decency of listening to him and letting him speak. And when they have questions, they ask them of the person. They don't gossip or roll their eyes or make assumptions. They just ask questions when they have them, and get the answer from the person who can give the answer. I mean, what a concept!


There is a conscious moving forward.
Of course, The Great British Baking Show is a competition. People are eliminated each show, and while that is a necessary sadness, there is also support and hope for this person's future. No gloom and doom, no screams of the apocalypse. This is, in fact, the system. Concessions need to be made for the greater good. And at the end of the day, if the person eliminated is someone the judges or the audience truly believes in as a baker, we have the choice to support them in other ways. You picking up what I'm putting down, here? A person doesn't need to win The Great British Baking Show to make a positive impact in this world. And we, the audience, can choose to support that person in their loss and elevate their... baking... in other, maybe even more impactful ways.

This is, you know, life. We can move forward with hope. We really, really can.

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Woman in her Thirties, Post Summer

No, blog, I have not abandoned you. I know it seems like I have (and in the home stretch, no less!). Believe me, I've had no less than ten posts brewing in the last few months:

A Woman in her Thirties Goes Vegan
A Woman in her Thirties Finally Gets her Husband to go to Yoga
A Woman in her Thirties and the Fast-Paced Game of Mini-Golf

But I keep going back to a conversation I had with a woman I taught with in China. She was from Europe and had lived in Asia many years, and when I told her I liked to write she smiled and said, 'Write quickly, then. If you live in China for a year you can write a book, but if you live in China for two years you can't write anything at all.'

I think I finally know what she meant by that. There is a lot going on in the world right now. A lot of despair and sadness. Was all that despair and sadness there before? Sure. But call me privileged or call me naive or call me whatever you want, but it feels more palpable now. I struggle to comprehend a lot of things, and while I'm reading and listening and focusing and trying to understand what seems fairly clear cut to me in many instances, I remain like the person I was after three years overseas: Void of anything substantial to write.

I want to write about how my kids are starting 1st grade and Pre-K, and I'm biased as hell but I think they are pretty much the greatest little people ever.


I want to write about the awesome people I'm working with, and all I'm learning from them.

I want to write about how nervous I am for our fall schedule to begin this week. We are exceedingly overbooked, even more than usual, and everyone keeps telling me to get used to it, but I'm really, really not looking forward to being so busy. 

I want to write about what we're struggling with this summer, what we're doing to fix those things, and what we're not doing to fix those things, and how being a parent means that every damn day you're negotiating who these little people are with who you are, and that requires a great deal of self-reflection and humility and patience. 

I want to write about this TEDx talk, and how the absolute truth of it makes me feel both inspired and terrified at the same time. 

I want to write about our summer. Our trips to California and up north. The joys of swimming and building elaborate LEGO cities and paying way too much to go on little adventures around the cities and neglecting our piano practice. 


But I don't know where to begin. Because while all these things are true, my voice feels small and unimportant right now. The entire premise of my second book was that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. I guess that is where I'm residing. Frozen, figuring out how to be part of some bigger solution. 

At any rate, dear blog, I have not abandoned you. I'm thirty-nine now, in the final year of this little writing adventure, and while I'm grateful for all the ways you've helped me process the last (seriously awesome) decade, my relationship to you and to all my writing has changed. 

Stay tuned. There's more, I'm just not sure yet what that means.