- there are tons of little carrot sprouts
- there are officially 10 asparagus bean sprouts
- the mint's going crazy
- the pepper plant has gotten huge (at least, I think it's a pepper plant -- it might be a weed)
- tomato plants have tripled in size -- and there's one tiny little green tomato!
I enjoy the solitude of watering the beds daily, and I live in fear of caterpillars (because the first time I see one, I will freak out, and Marcus will have to take care of it). Seeing the sprouts pop through the earth is thrilling; however, I'm a little irritated that the bean plants aren't big enough yet to start climbing the poles, to say nothing of the fact that I have yet to eat a single vegetable from my garden.
In other words, so far, so good.
Once a week or so, I spend the morning working in a coffeehouse. I definitely have my favourites, but it's not always the same one. Sometimes I'm really productive (usually if I'm actually handwriting my work), and sometimes I'm not (particularly if there's wifi), but since I generally work in solitude, it's sort of nice to be in the middle of the buzz of humanity every once in a while.
A few weeks ago, my friend Andrea shared a link to this "white noise" app that makes coffeehouse sounds -- I wonder if it would have the same effect?
On any given day, these are what my hands look like.
On any given day, the process of setting up this shot, complete with tripod and proper lighting -- when really, I should be working on more important things* -- is what procrastination looks like.
* not long now.
Here's what made this week lovely:
• Fresh grocery-store daisies. There was no way I could pass them up.
• While I got a lot done this week, I didn't get nearly as much accomplished as I was hoping to. That said, given how many of the great thinkers of history spent their time, I'm not going to feel too badly.
• Besides, I made a list of productive ways to procrastinate. So, you know, there's that.
• Well. It appears that I have to add Seoul, South Korea to my travel wishlist. Because a coffeehouse shaped like a giant Rolleiflex camera? Yes, please.
• These photographs, shot in Weeping Mary, Texas, are just gorgeous. (Also, as an aside, I just love Texas site names and the stories behind them, man. The name Weeping Mary reminds me of another personal favourite, Woman Hollering Creek.)
• My friend Alice authored this short story, which has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I could not be more proud of her (and it's a great read).
• Marcus and I often dream of what our imaginary vacation home would look like. For the record, it would look something like this.
• Speaking of Marcus, he took it upon himself to educate me on the proper way for a woman to behave. If I wasn't laughing so hard, he might have walked away with a limp.
• And finally, some fun news from my friends over at The ONE Campaign: this week, ONE launched one of Africa's biggest music collaborations ever, Cocoa na Chocolate ("Cocoa is Chocolate") in support of their do Agric, It Pays campaign. The campaign is intended to push African leaders to make more and better investments in agriculture, including keeping their promises under the Maputo Declaration; in addition, the message of the song is intended to change the way young people perceive pursuing a career in agriculture, positioning it as a way to make a living that offers real economic opportunity.
To that end, nineteen of the biggest musical stars from the continent of Africa* got together to record this song - the track features 11 different languages including Swahili, Pidgin, Shona and Xhosa, and each artist wrote his/her own verse. The lyrics express the importance of agriculture for Africa’s future and in the fight against extreme poverty. When I was in Washington DC back in February, I got to hear a sneak preview of the song -- it's wildly infectious, and sounds shockingly like the soca music I grew up with in Trinidad. (When I first heard it, I may or may not have started dancing in the audience. Ahem.) So today, as the song of the day, I share the official music video with you: but be prepared, the likelihood that you'll be able to remain sitting still in your seat is very, very slim.
Simply click here or on the image below to enjoy:
And on that incredibly joyful note, friends, have a great weekend!
* If you want to learn more about the awesome artists who contributed to the Cocoa na Chocolate, they are: A.Y. (Tanzania), Buffalo Souljah (Zimbabwe), Dama Do Bling (Mozambique), D'Banj (Nigeria), Diamond (Tanzania), Dontom (Nigeria), Fally Ipupa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Femi Kuti (Nigeria), Judith Sephuma (South Africa), Juliani (Kenya), Kunle Ayo (Nigeria), Vusi Nova (South Africa), Liz Ogumbo (Kenya), Nancy G (Swaziland), Omawumi (Nigeria), Rachid Taha (Algeria), Tiken Jah Fakole (Cote d'Ivoire), Victoria Kimani (Kenya) and Wax Dey (Camaroon).
March was wonderful -- there was travel, I had several talks that I gave. I love it when my calendar is filled with things I love to do. However, for the first time in a month, I have two weeks before me with nothing on my agenda.
This is a gift.
I have promised myself that I'm going to use the next two weeks to work exclusively on Lime Retreats, which I'd like to officially launch mid-April. For this reason, during this time I'm going to scale back on writing here on Chookooloonks, turning it into an old-school photoblog -- I'll continue sharing photographs every day, but probably not so much with the words (although I'll continue to do This Was A Good Week on Fridays -- there's just too much awesome on the internet, and life generally, not to share). I could, of course, go completely silent here while I work, but I find that often photography helps me get out of my head when I get too bogged down, so I'd like to keep up my practice of shooting daily (and as a result, you'll probably glean what my current state of mind is with every day's post!). And of course, I'll continue to update Instagram and Facebook, if you want a more real-time experience of what's going on.
One more thing, before I go -- I had been meaning to add a Trinidad & Tobago gallery to Chookooloonks for years, and this past weekend, I finally got around to it, using photographs that I took almost 3 years ago. (Three years. It's time to go back, man.) I hope you enjoy them.
And on that note, friends, we'll talk again on Friday (although, again, I'll share photos with you daily in my absence). Hope you're having a great week!
My daughter is 10 years old. Overall, she's a pretty confident kid, for which I'm incredibly grateful. But I'm not naive: she's fast approaching the age where most girls' self-esteem begins to plummet, when self-worth becomes tied to appearance, to the exclusion of everything else. (These statistics are horrifying: 80% of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat, while body satisfaction hits rock bottom at ages 12-15 -- when their bodies are changing the most! -- without recovering at all until age 20!). The fact is that it can be tough to think of yourself a weed among a garden full of roses -- at least, I know when I was 11, it definitely was for me.
So how do we convince our kids that despite the hype, even weeds are beautiful?
I was talking with a group of girlfriends about this recently, and I mentioned a few of the things that I'm pretty intentional about in our house, in order to help Alex navigate this time of her life in the best way possible. Again, we're just now entering her tweenage years, and I'm certainly no parenting expert, but I'd thought I'd share my thoughts here with you, in the event you might find them helpful in your home.
1) I'm a big proponent of telling your kid he/she is beautiful. I feel like there's a trend happening where people believe that telling your child that s/he is good-looking is a bad thing -- like it's somehow telling them s/he somehow "less than," or advocating that looks are really the only thing that matters. To be frank, I think that's total hogwash -- if your own parent isn't going to tell you that you're beautiful in his/her eyes, then who the hell will? (And honestly, even if my daughter thinks "you're only saying that because you're my mom," I figure that she must take a little comfort in the fact that at least her mom is saying it, you know?) I think the mistake comes when people make that the only thing they say about their kids, or say that to the exclusion of all the other awesome things they are. Complimenting talents, intelligence, caring, kindness, compassion and empathy are extremely important, and should be done often -- but I don't think that means that telling your child s/he's beautiful is a bad thing, either.
(Besides, the fact is that I truly, honestly believe Alex to be very beautiful. Why would I withhold this belief from her?)
2) I'm also (unsurprisingly) a proponent of advocating different as beautiful. I'm very careful and mindful to point out beauty of every kind to Alex -- I point out beautiful old people and beautiful young people, beautiful people who are different shapes, and different sizes, and different races, and different religions. I think when your kid sees you sincerely expressing how beautiful you think people are who don't look like what the media defines as "beautiful," your telling her that she's beautiful gains a bit more credibility beyond "well you're my mom, you're supposed to say that." (I might be making that up, but I'm going with it). I'm also really big on making STRONG beautiful, as opposed to thin being beautiful, since I have a daughter who will never be a media ideal of tall, blonde and thin. Her black belt in karate has done TONS for her self esteem, and I point out beautiful strong people as often as possible -- in fact, the Olympics were awesome for that. We discovered Paige McPherson, a Tae Kwon Do Olympian (she won the bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics), who actually looks like Alex (and shares a similar story -- adoption, multiracial, passionate about dance as well as martial arts) -- and Alex now follows her on Instagram. It has been lovely to have a positive role model for Alex, and it has helped Alex pick through the messages about what is beautiful on her own.
Identifying celebrities who share your kid's interests, and sharing YouTube videos and interviews with them (make sure that they're celebrities who also seem to share your moral code, though -- the last thing you want is some arrogant, drug-using-superstar-in-their-own-minds to send the wrong message!) is a great way to have your child feel less alone, and see her own potential. It's even better if the celebrity resembles your child -- having someone to identify with who represents attainable beauty might help as well (Lupita N'yongo spoke so eloquently about this herself).
3) I don't buy fashion magazines, and actually don't have them in my house. I don't make a big deal about it, I just don't buy them. (Even Vanity Fair, which I love for the photography, I only read online, usually on airplanes, when Alex isn't around). I feel like Alex sees enough media that shows what "beauty" is suppose to look like, without me feeding into that media hype. I also am pretty big about curating Alex's movie consumption to show beauty & "coolness" of all different kinds ("Akeelah and the Bee" is a current favourite.) So Alex's media consumption is watched closely, so that all forms of beauty -- different races, smarts, even traditional "coolness" -- are pretty evenly presented.
(My "ban on fashion magazines" statement isn't entirely true: because Alex does, in fact, love fashion, over the past few years she's had a subscription to this very awesome magazine that features fashion design, crafts, and articles written by teens for teens, with models who look like everyday girls. She loves it, and pours over it every time it arrives.)
4) To that end, I let Alex take the lead on how she wants to look. I often ask Alex how she would like to dress, or what what she'd like to do to change her look, and support her experimentation (to an age-appropriate point, of course). My rules are generally that what she chooses to wear has to be weather-appropriate, that it has to fit her (which covers a multitude of "too revealing" sins), and that it has to be clean. But otherwise, I let her rock whatever she wants to. The result has been some really interesting outfits -- many that I would've never considered for her myself, but actually love on her!
As far as additional resources, I also found this wonderful list on ways to raise a confident kid -- I particularly love the point about encouraging your child to solve problems on her own instead of doing them for her. Which, incidentally, brings to mind another really fantastic site -- the Khan Academy -- which I've let Alex loose on. One day, she was very quiet for hours, and when I went to investigate, I found her engrossed in teaching herself how to code. She could not have been more proud of herself. And while I'm on the subject, if you've got a tween/teenager in your house, be sure to check out Smart Girls At The Party, run by Amy Poehler and my friend Meredith Walker. Some really great stuff is happening over there.
But as I said at the beginning of this, I'm very new at this, and as parenting often is, I'm definitely a work in progress. To that end, I'll happily take any advice from you guys: how do you help your kids navigate their adolescence with their self-esteem intact; or, in the alternative, what was the most self-esteem building thing that happened in your teenage years? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments, below.
Some things that made this week a good one:
• This week meant a return to routine after spring break -- and honestly? I find a bit of comfort in this. I loved being away and our concentrated family time, but there's something to be said to returning to life refreshed, ready to tackle things. Also? There's very little I like better than being deep in concentration in my little office, and it begins to rain outside. That happened this week -- total bliss.
• Billy Joel & Jimmy Fallon weemba-wop-a-weemba-wop. And all is right with the world.
• This crystal-clear description of how blogging has changed over the years really made me think. In a good way.
• I'm a dog person. These photographs illustrate why.
• This guy's train set is INSANE. And seriously awesome.
• Marcus and I watched this Academy Award-winning documentary on Netflix this week, about the backup singers to some of the most famous bands and artists of our time. Inspiring (and a little heartbreaking) -- if you can get your hands on it, it's definitely worth the 90-minute watch.
• The light in these shots make me want to bust out my Hasselblad again.
• All over the world, people are feeling like a room without a roof. (Although I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed -- and skeptical -- when I didn't seen Trinidad & Tobago represented. So I did a search. And of course, my country came through.)
• Last week, I mentioned Xanthe's new course offering, Creating Tangible Time Capsules -- a wonderful way to create a tangible keepsake of your life. Well, it turns out that today's Xanthe's birthday, and instead of receiving gifts, she's giving one away -- so leave a comment below telling me something good that happened to you this week, and I'll pick one commenter to win a place in her upcoming class! I'll announce by updating this post on Monday -- one comment per person, please!
• It is entirely likely this Parmesan-roasted cauliflower may appear on my dinner table this weekend.
• And finally, for the song of the day, the following little video clip of Lisa Fischer. Lisa was one of the women featured on that documentary I mentioned above, and her voice is like molasses (which probably explains why she's sung backup on every Rolling Stones tour since 1989). Stunning.
On that decidedly soulful note, have a great weekend friends (don't forget to leave a comment to win a spot in Xanthe's class!).
update, tuesday, april 1st, 2014
Sorry I was late on the announcing friends -- according to Random.org, the winner of the spot in Xanthe's class is Christina, who said, "I started a collaboration blog with 2 of my oldest friends!"
Congrats, Christina! Keep an eye out on your inbox for an email from me. And thanks to all of you for your comments!