Archive for August, 2015

Now open: Intro to caring for twenty-somethings

There could be a post-college class for twenty-somethings called Intro to Caring. Those of us who occasionally become self-absorbed, or who lack the confidence that we can adequately care for others as well as ourselves, our work responsibilities and our home lives – all at once certainly would benefit. Heck, I’d say we all could benefit from it. And luckily, it’s available if we’re listening. In a sillier world, it’d be a real class, and it’d be something like this:

Intro to Caring (CAR 101): Introduction to Caring for People and Property

Required for anyone who wants to have a car or a bike, house or apartment, bank account, furniture, decorations, clothing, dishes, a plant, a pet and/or a child.

Learn from a variety of sources sharing the best techniques in care for homes, vehicles, fabric, décor, wood, tile and other household materials, finances, personal health (physical and mental), houseplants, grass, trees, bushes, flowers and common garden plants, dogs, cats, turtles and fish, infants, toddlers, children, tweens, teens and budding college students. This course will cover basic maintenance all the way to advanced and precise care for all of the above living and non-living things.

Gain insight from experts about the best routines to provide proper care for all of the people and things under your purview in the most efficient, empathetic, cost-effective and appropriate ways possible. Offers plenty of opportunities for learning by doing and real-world experimentation. Take this course before living on your own, if possible, or at least before buying property (unless you’re playing Monopoly). Be sure to take this course before having a child, especially if maintaining plant life or a pet has proven challenging. Refresher courses are available in various specialties including household maintenance, indoor and outdoor plants, pet care and child care.

Pre-requisites: Birth, pre-school, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, college (graduation from college preferred but not required)

Instructors: Your parents, grandparents, bosses and slightly older friends, with guest lectures by your favorite aunt, two of your funny uncles, that professor you never wanted to listen to but who was always right, your significant others (of the past and present, but unfortunately not the future) and your middle-school home economics teacher.

Cost: Full commitment to learning to best care for yourself as well as the people, places and things around you. Because that’s what it’s all about. And this is a course called life.

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Twenty-something questions on yoga, wine and dogs

Why does wine after yoga always lead to overly drunken evenings? If downdog is so easy for dogs, then why don’t dogs just teach yoga? Or brew beer? Why don’t all coffee shops already sell beer and wine – or at least Irish coffees?

Why is the laundry machine always taken? Why do some of the best desserts have cereal in them? Will we ever get too old for Reese’s Puffs or Cocoa Crispies? How sad will we be if we do? Where does the word “housework” come from? As a kid, we all do “homework” but when we’re adults we have to do “housework” – what’s the difference, anyway? Will the floors ever stay clean for more than a day? Do you still believe in the 10-second rule?

Why does everyone who’s writing a college paper double space to start a sentence? Were we all just trying to make our papers seem longer? And is that what Taylor Swift’s song “Blank Spaces” is really about? Why is Taylor Swift a guilty pleasure for so many of us? When will we decide our favorite decade of music?

Why can we all get away with blaming the weatherman? Who else was traumatized by the movie, “Twister?” Or “Titanic?” Why don’t we appreciate our parents enough until people our age start becoming parents? Whose parents don’t love wine?

If you can be engaged to your significant other and you can be engaged at work, what does the word engage really mean? When will we truly take the freedom to define things for ourselves?

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In the ABCs of twenty-something life, U is for Understanding

And we’re getting a lot better at it.

Twenty-somethings, I feel, are learning to cut each other some slack. We’re learning no one is perfect and everyone oversleeps or runs five minutes late from time to time. We’re realizing life can be exhausting, and sometimes, friends have to take the backseat to more pressing concerns, like insane weather or family medical emergencies, last-minute assignments at work or a simple desire to avoid extreme sleep deprivation. We’re noticing that anyone can say insulting things, but deciding that everyone deserves a second chance.

We’re learning these things because we’re making these mistakes, and that’s allowing us to understand why they happen. Understanding is a beautiful thing.

Understanding is applying our knowledge of situations we’ve faced to our treatment of others. It’s thinking before we speak and finding perspective. It’s staying cool when your college friend takes eight days to return your call and not feeling hurt when your former roommate who moved to another city doesn’t have time to see you when she’s home. Understanding is something I’m feeling from my friends more and more. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Maybe we’re only showing more understanding because we’re older and more mature, or because we still have so much in common when it comes to sleep schedules, careers, friends, dating, drinking, traveling, housing, cooking, eating, exercising – the stuff of life. Or maybe our new degree of understanding results from the increased connectivity we have compared to previous generations. Since we share so much of our lives online, we create more opportunities to see into each other’s world and appreciate what our different situations might be like.

Either way, we’re showing our new level of understanding most when it comes to forgiveness. We’re gaining the ability to forgive for missteps that previously might have annoyed us, like a friend canceling plans on short notice. We’re avoiding birthday drama and cattiness and replacing those bad habits with acceptance, tolerance, and even better, kindness.

We might not give ourselves enough credit for it, but we’re beginning to build a new strong suit, and it’s a helpful one for all involved. But I don’t have to spell it out because I know you understand.

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T is for Time: Why family reunions fly by

Shucking corn in the shade beside a lake. Shooting hoops on a patch of concrete at a campground. Pelting my cousins with plenty of water balloons. Body surfing in a wave pool or tubing behind a waverunner.

I have fond summer memories of family reunions that seemed to last forever. We’d drive to somewhere in Indiana or Wisconsin or Ohio and my Illinois-based family would all convene in a big gathering of at least 25 people. There’d be group photos that inevitably turn embarrassing a few years later, games with unusual prizes only a grandmother can give, big meals with all the good ingredients (like pepper-jack cheese) that you don’t always buy at home, and spare moments of sneaky camaraderie with the cousins.

Reunions seemed never-ending and that was a good thing, even to a child’s impatient, instant-gratification-seeking sense of time.

Reunions now seem like they’re over in a flash, and that doesn’t strike me as a good thing, even to a twenty-something’s supposedly more thoughtful, rational mind. But it does make sense. It plays into one of the main warnings I hear about growing up: the older you get, the faster the time flies by. I never knew that theory would strike in the context of a semi-annual family gathering.

And then it did. It seemed as though I had only just arrived in DeKalb for our get-together at a picnic shelter in the city’s largest park, when it was time to pack up the extra jars of pickles and tupperwares of chopped tomatoes and head back home. The speed of it all made me a slight bit sad as I drove away from Illinios’ unofficial corn capital after saying a series of surprisingly speedy family goodbyes.

The days of walking around the reunion site with my cousins, prank-calling each other’s friends or making s’mores for dessert around a campfire seem to be over. They’ve been replaced with days of scrambling at the last minute to chop too many tomatoes and find that old red reunion polo with my name embroidered on it. They’ve been replaced with days of enjoying a break by hearing the stories of my aunts and uncles, but realizing all too soon that it’s back to my story, for better or for worse.

I never thought family reunions would be something to change with age, but boy do they ever. I never thought family time would pass any faster, but boy does it fly. And that doesn’t teach me anything, except that I need to listen.

Those warnings about the accelerating passage of time are all too real, and not even the love of family can change it. So stick around when family time comes close to ending. Tell one last story. Listen to two more. You might forget them in an instant. You might still feel like the time blazed by way too fast. You might still reminisce and sorta want to be a kid again. But you’ll be be better off for it.

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