After finishing the doctoral program, I turned to focus on all the projects and plans I had put on hold for three years (okay, five years). While exhilarating, that approach made me focus on what I did not yet accomplish versus what I had just accomplished and more generally, what I already have in my life.
To flip my focus, I threw on some shorts and grabbed a hose.
An over 90-degree day in Arlington VA, turned out to be the perfect day wash my car by hand -- something I had never done. I remember my driver's ed instructor in high school advising us all to do this for safety reasons. He said you'd learn the dimensions of your car in a different way and it would help with depth perception. I'll let you know...
As I spent time hosing and scrubbing, thinking my improved parallel parking skills that would ensure, I also thought about how much I love my little car and all the great things it allows me to do.
Granted, it's pretty easy to do this with a car this cute. It shines up so nicely -- it's like brushing teeth to reveal a beautiful smile.
Washing every inch also gave me a chance to think about how cool it is that someone took the time to figure out how to make the automobile. I became interested and fascinated by the engineering and the brilliance it took to put this impressive machine together.
Now, my friends in California in full drought might be saying "tsk, tsk" -- what a waste of water! Well, I'm not sure the very nice Mr. WASH down the street uses less water and I've only done this once in my life so I'm probably not wasting water. Plus, Californians, I love you, but it you don't start desalinating toute de suite, I'm just going to stop feeling sorry for you.
The other naysayers, knowing my dissertation topic (corporations complicit in the Holocaust), may be poo-pooing my VW, a German -- WWII complicit -- company. For the moment, to that I will only say that it gives me ample opportunity to consider the complexities of my topic. Driving around in a paradox forces better thinking.
The 10-Minute Thank You Project
This blog is not explicitly about California water problems or buying products from companies formerly complicit in genocide (both topics I can talk about for hours), but rather the beauty of just shining up something that you already have. It can be something small like sewing back a button on a favorite shirt, cleaning out a favorite mug (vinegar works on coffee stains) or filing your nails...whatever it is just do with a spirit of "cool, thanks."
You'll be surprised how good you feel and how that object seems to beam again with all the good attention.
It was the perfect cure to my projects "not-yet-finished" pile. Of course, you will have to finish the 10-minute thank you project. The easiest way is to do it during a chore you have to do anyway...
Would love to hear how it goes.
Over the past ten years, I have spent summer days in a myriad of places -- Fiji, Indonesia, Australia, Spain, France, Holland, and China among others.
This summer, I decided to celebrate graduation by just hanging out in my favorite -- nearby -- places. The first stop was Marblehead, MA.
I'm fortunate that my extended family happens to be from one of the most pristine and adorable colonial towns left in America. Marblehead lucked out by not having a harbor big enough for the Industrial Revolution. So it remained colonial. The local residents carefully selected modern advancements (like plumbing and electricity) and left out franchises and much modern construction. As a result, you can meander down the streets seeing little signs on houses indicating which shipmaster, baker, or merchant lived in said house in the 17th and 18th century.
So no Roman Holiday this year, Fijian coconuts, or swims off the coast of France. Instead, I played football with my nephew, practiced my jack knife dive with the kids, picked tomatoes for my aunt, biked around colonial America and enjoyed the rich blessing of us all being alive and together.
I was also able to spend some time in the art studio of my cousin, Jonathan Sherman.
My childhood skate and snowboarding pal grew up to be an astonishing artist, specializing in Renaissance techniques and stained glass. (If you want to commission a museum-quality piece of work, click on his name above). Many people in my family have special talents and huge accomplishments, but none of that was the point of the dinner you see above. It was the giggles and togetherness that mattered most.
The youngest used a pack of cards to assign seats by age. The kids spent the afternoon with Jonathan and his lovely wife making the Happy Birthday sign for Sally.
Having had the great good fortune to travel all over the world, I have many "happy places." This summer, Marblehead shined as brightly as Rome.
Sarah Federman, PhD
Enjoy these short blogs and videos designed to bring you a little cheer.
My other blog Language of Conflict addresses the importance of word choice and narration in conflict.
Finish and Flourish supports writers struggling to complete projects.