Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Painting Your Inner Child

Feel free to use my last post as a sleep aid. My kids had trouble sitting through the ladybug slo-mo video too. I thought it was super cool! Who doesn't like ladybugs? They're like the shih tzu puppies of the bug world. I'm sparing you on this post. I realize it's a busy feasting day for my American friends tomorrow, so take a break from making your origami turkey decorations and watch some comedy on how to paint a SPECTACULAR picture.... and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's About Time

If you're looking for a fancy Christmas gift, how about this $6,400,000 hour glass? The sand is crushed diamonds. For collectors of the obvious metaphor? Yes, time is indeed precious.

In blogging time (similar to dog years) about 4 years has passed since my last post. For me, it seems like only about 3 days and I'm not surprised by my perception of time. My sense of time is like Cro-Magnon Man, there is DAY... and there is NIGHT. Obviously, I'm no slave to schedules. Maybe I should be a little more aware of the passing of time though.

How do you go about slowing your perception of time to make the most of it? Time seems to speed up as you age. There is proof of this. Physicist Michio Kaku in his documentary series Time, approached people on the streets of Manhattan asking them to tell him when they thought a minute had gone by. They younger people finished counting before an actual minute had expired, the older people after a minute. There may be a biological reason for this or it may be because as you age life becomes routine and more predictable. New experiences that engage your brain and seem to put you in the 'moment' stretching your perception of time, are less frequent.

I experienced this recently while taking a tai chi class. I'm completely out of shape and needed something more than my occasional walks to get me into an exercise routine. Tai chi sounded enjoyable and well...easy. And when I discovered my instructor was insane and hung out with Kerouac and Ginsberg in the 60's writing beat poetry? I thought, "my god, the universe is so kind to me! How did it know?!" My western mindset is also attracted (a little shamefully) to the idea that since tai chi is a slowed down form of martial arts, if you speed it up, you could really beat the crap out of someone (in self defense of course). The class was good for a while. But then my instructor turned out to be perfectly sane and tai chi is just so, so sloooow. Moving at a snails pace and having complete awareness of every tiny gesture made the class seem like 4 (boring) hours instead of one. Had I enjoyed it, the sense of expanded time would have been wonderful.

Another way to slow down your sense of time is to have adrenaline pumping, life threatening experiences. People who've been in a car crash or even a near crash, experience the event as longer than it was, being hyper aware of all the details surrounding the event. A study was done where volunteers free fell from a drop of 150 ft into a net. They estimated the length of the fall double than it's actual time.

So how does this apply to me or you? Personally I'm no thrill seeker so flinging myself off a plane or a cliff so I can feel like I've lived longer doesn't appeal to me. I'll think I'll just copy children. I'm guessing partially the reason why kids perception of time is lengthened because they bring all their senses to an experience. They're so much more physical than adults. My kids bounce or hum when they're at the kitchen table for dinner. They have a need to touch everything at the store. They're in the moment because everything is a sensory experience. Adults live partially in memory and often with a distracted mind. Our senses diminish with age, no doubt naturally and maybe a little from lack of engagement. Using your senses in the moment really expands time. I'm going to commit myself to really bringing my senses to my daily experience, because even in the simplest things, look what a wondrous world unfolds when time slows down...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Barbies, shopping and stuff, oh my...

No, this isn't going to be that big, ugly post I warned you about. I don't intend to post it. It's related to this documentary, in case you're interested. I researched and worked hard on it, so I would like it to be graded. If anyone is a 1st year professor of ...anything, I'd like to have it read and critiqued and maybe that would help me feel better about my poor university grades from 20 yrs ago. Grades resulting from too much tequila and watching Late Night and Star Trek:The Next Generation. Wow, bloggers say the darndest things! (I'm getting far too comfortable online I believe.)

Back on topic. My youngest daughter had a big birthday party recently. She put the word on the street that all she wanted was Barbies. The kids heeded the call. After the Barbie windfall from the party, a Toys R Us gift card and money from grandma, she had enough Barbies to populate a toy planet. Scattered among the multitudes, there is only one boy Barbie, a (VERY HAPPY) Ken doll. There used to be 3 Ken dolls in the house, but for some reason their heads kept coming off.

I'm just saying it like it is.

I let my 2 daughters play for a week without having to clean up. I managed a little half hearted nagging but they protested with, "but we're still playing!". Even if 2 days passed with the barbies left untouched, I let it go. I understand 21st century Barbie is so accessorized with gadgets that assembling the whole set up again is time consuming. Barbie has 2 flat screen TV's, an IPod, an IPod docking system, 2 MP3 players, laptops, several cell phones and even little plastic cappuccino cups. I actually think my husband is jealous of all the crap Barbie has.

After a week of finding little setups on bookshelves and under tables, I realized the little bimbos (bimboes? bimbos? how do you pluralize bimbo, I've never had to before) were taking up the entire top floor of my house and it had to stop. The barbies needed something like ... hmmm, a sorority house? We went to the toy store, looked at doll houses and then I was overcome with that icky feeling. $150 for some big, plastic toy that will have about 2 yrs of use, then nothing. But I had to admit, if I had the extra money to spend on something like that, I would probably buy it, just to make my life easier. All my desire to get away from consumerism and live a life that enriches, not pollutes the planet, pretty much evaporates when it comes to my kids.

This is my anthem whine - how can I raise my kids to truly understand value doesn't come from STUFF , when here in suburbia, here in the world, all around them, that's all they see? I know they are no more spoiled than the average middle class child, possibly less so, but still, marketing to kids has exploded since my childhood. In this New York Times article, "80 percent of global brands now deploy a 'tween' strategy". And parents get caught up or worn down and do the buying. I'm amazed at how many adults I've heard say how important it is their kids get the trendy and fashionable clothing, even it goes beyond their budget, for fear of their child being teased or left out. We're sending the message that inclusion is something that has to be bought at younger and younger ages.

There may be a small silver lining to this global recession, the disposable culture of consumerism will lose some of its power. The world beyond the mall or boutique will be explored and people may start slowing down and investing time into positive experiences and relationships. Wouldn't that be something. Doing so, can only make us happier.

As for the doll house, I'm going to a thrift store and finding a small bookcase that I'll strip and paint the interior to look like a house. Barbie will have a fixer upper. Then she'll have the room to store all her gadgets and endless beauty supplies (and I won't be tripping over them). My kids know their Christmas won't be excessive with stuff this year. After telling them so, I've watched them discuss with each other about what they want and if they even want it that much. Now they're not really sure what they want and don't seem to care. What is truly wished for in this house (for ages 10 and younger), is lots of snow, no school and playing outside.

Since I've become a little bit of a YouTube junkie and like to show off my recently acquired video embedding skills (that took a ridiculously long time to learn on this blog), I'll leave with this slinky commercial from my childhood. Times were different then, or maybe I was an idiot child, because I remember how thrilled I was when I first got a slinky. I notice they don't really make them anymore, or they only have plastic ones. I wonder if that's because of parent paranoia. I can imagine how a child could accidentally fall on a metal slinky and slit their throat like some old school Mafia piano wire whacking. Okay, enough with the sarcasm, have a moment of nostalgia with me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Possibly Unpopular Post

Still here. I lost my blog voice. As far as blogging goes, I've obsessively been researching and writing an epic post that is yet still unfinished, it's full of research, data and dry information and it's completely without humour. BUT I HAVE TO WRITE IT. It's a compulsive need at the moment, so be forewarned, it's on it's way.

I'm not an American, some of my close relatives are and I live near enough to the border that when I stand on my back porch I can see streetlights in Sumas, Washington. In fact, in moments of extreme restless boredom I've thought of crossing the border, getting a cup of coffee and coming back all within half an hour. Then if anyone asks what I did today, I say with uber coolness," Oh, I was out of the country, just got back now, it was great, thanks for asking."

So, I feel some kinship with my American neighbours . I followed the election with interest and am happy with the results. I was moved by Barack Obama's victory speech yesterday and pleased by the graciousness of McCain's words, but when I read this man's (hilarious) post today, it pretty much echoed my thoughts throughout this campaign (without of course, the baby strangling) . I'm also weary from socialism considered a dirty word. And it's true America is no where near a socialist government. Relax. No one is going to steal your land and go through your shoes in your closet and divvy them up with your neighbours. The shelves of Walmart won't be bare and you won't be standing in long lines to get toilet paper. If you do, it won't be because of socialism, it'll be because all the trees have been cut down and made into flyers advertising free flat screen tv's with the purchase of a brand new leather sofa set. *Sigh* Now ignore everything I just said and go finish celebrating.