A few years ago, I attended a conference presentation during which audience members were asked to construct a metaphor to represent our experiences as students. No one had ever asked me to do this, so I was intrigued, but pretty stumped. Then I remembered my old boom box, with its radio and dual cassette deck–I always kept a blank tape handy, ready to press “record” whenever something caught my ear. I realized that I did the same in the classroom, gathering bits and pieces from various sources, often without an idea of how–or even if!–those pieces would fit together. That was the joy of making and sharing mix tapes; when crafted thoughtfully, they were greater than the sum of their parts.
In that same spirit, I share a weekly “mix” of articles, recipes, book recommendations, and ideas in the hopes that something I share might fit into your own personal, ever-evolving collage.
Have something you think I might be interested in? I’d love to hear about it. Share it here.
So, this is Christmas–a strange one for us, as my mother-in-law died on Saturday evening, just after 7:00 pm. Her death was peaceful, for which we are grateful, and she died at home, surrounded by loving family.
Naturally, our experiences over the past few weeks have had me thinking about the ways that we as a culture do–and don’t–process and deal with aging, death, and grief. Though it’s an inevitability for us all, we tend not to know what to do when it happens to us or someone we love.
-Since the death of her husband in 2015, Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg has been on a mission to change that; along with Wharton professor Adam Grant (whose On Being interview is a favorite), she’s been advocating the “Just show up” approach. Though most of us instinctively say “Let me know if I can do anything,” those words effectively shift the burden to the person already dealing with a difficult time. In this piece for USA Today, Sandberg & Grant discuss what to do instead, and run through other common (if well-meaning) mistakes we sometimes make around the holidays when it comes to friends who are grieving or in crisis.
-Though I’d planned to spend the last week working through a large stack of exams and final projects, my brain was too distracted to effectively focus on grading. Instead, as has been the case at other bedsides, I turned to fiction, specifically Victor LaValle’s The Changeling, which I have been eager to read for months. A friend just generously loaned me her copy, and it could not have landed at a better time–it’s one of my favorite pieces of fiction in recent memory. I’ve nearly finished it, but have left the final pages to savor, maybe tonight after Shiv goes to bed.
-I had some ambitious baking projects planned for this Christmas (like this amazing-looking trifle, which I may yet manage to pull off for New Year’s Eve), but they had to be set aside for obvious reasons. Still, Shiv & I managed to do a little baking together–one of my favorite traditions–yesterday afternoon. Since he & Jill both adore the orange-chocolate combination, I’d set my eye on this orange-chocolate madeline recipe and it did not disappoint. They felt fancy, but weren’t difficult to pull off, which is exactly what we needed.
Sending everyone much love this Christmas Day.