Category Archives: Parenting

The Cost of Owning Too Much Stuff

 

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There is a thought-provoking blog on the New York Times website that examines the price we pay when we own too much stuff. This article hits home for me as a pack-rat at heart.

In particular, this sentence really jumped out at me:

When we hold on to stuff we no longer want or use, it does indeed cost us something more, if only in the time spent organizing and contemplating them.

Almost everything I own has a twin. If I find a pretty pair of shoes, especially if those shoes happen to be on sale, I feel I must have them in brown and in black. If we are talking about handbags, which are a particular obsession of mine, the options are endless.

But why do I feel the need to own more than one of most things? I know I am not alone. For some people, their downfall is gadgets. For others, it may be tools. Some people can’t get enough clothes.

It is clear that this is about much more than fulfilling our basic needs. And I am the last person to look down upon an occasional impractical splurge, but I am left wondering if it would make more sense to focus on the quality of what we own rather than the quantity.

Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While I realize this is a problem that can only come with having disposable income, I would be willing to bet that even families living paycheck to paycheck can relate to this on some level. I also think this is highly influenced by culture, and that the United States is a society of hyper-accumulators.

I am fascinated by this tendency which, on its face does not make any sense, but at a gut level is so natural.

What do you think? What is your favorite thing to collect? Are you more likely to splurge on one high-quality item or to buy a lot of smaller, lower-quality, but similar items? Why do you think we hold onto things that we don’t use? Do you have trouble giving things away or do you frequently purge?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you liked this, you might also like:

Times are Rough: I’ve Got Too Much Stuff! (newsofthetimes.org)

The Hazards of Mountain Living: Colorado Forest Fires (newsofthetimes.org)

Our Disposable Culture and the Gentle Giants of Music (newsofthetimes.org)

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Filed under Culture, Home, Love, Parenting, Relationships, social pressures

Helicopter Parents and Tiger Moms: Turns Out Neither Knows Best

Copyright JC Politi Photography

There was an opinion piece in the New York Times this weekend called “Raising Successful Children” which generated quite a bit of discussion.

The article examines the latest parenting research which found that giving children autonomy and allowing them to make mistakes leads to the best long-term outcomes.

My parents did a great job with this. I was sent to a sleep-away summer camp for the most of the summer every year in my formative years. I feel like this helped shape who I am more than almost anything else.

I worked for a wonderful organization called Amigos de las Americas which provides opportunities for young people to live in remote villages Latin America, where their autonomy is simply not in question.

These types of experiences can really help young people develop confidence in their abilities. The Times article lays out research to prove this hypothesis.

But it seems that it has become harder for parents to give their children space to make mistakes and to develop their independence. The article points out that there has been much attention devoted to “helicopter parents” and “tiger mothers” in the news in recent years.

I am not a parent and I can imagine that it would be difficult to find the balance between protecting your children and letting your children forge their own path. But I am intrigued and curious about what makes it more difficult for parents to do this today than when I was younger.

Certainly, when I was younger, we had parents who lived vicariously through their children, but I don’t feel like there was quite as much of what I see as overprotecting children.

What do you think? Do you think that parents are more protective now of their children that when you were young? Do you think this has to do with the increased dangers in our society like gun violence and crime? Do you struggle with this as a parent? Have you found any tips or strategies you would like to share with others?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you liked this, you might also like:

The Ritalan Generation: Why do some children fall behind in school? (newsofthetimes)

The Power of Strengths and Weaknesses: Giving kids permission to just be (newsofthetimes)

A New Kind of Playground: What happens when young children are connected with technology? (newsofthetimes)

52 Comments

Filed under Career Planning, Culture, Education, Love, Parenting, Relationships, social pressures, Technology, Youth Leadership

Marissa Mayer: Iconic figure or simply the face of future leadership?

Copyright JC Politi Photography

The press has been buzzing with news of the recent hire of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer who, at 37, appears to be the first Fortune 500 CEO to be hired while pregnant, the youngest Fortune 500 CEO in history and only the twentieth female Fortune 500 CEO.

I read a story on CNN’s Management and Career blog about how she is also one of the few examples of successful businesswomen who “fully owns her femininity.”

What does this mean? I am intrigued by how enthralled we seem to be with this woman’s story. I understand that she is only the twentieth female to head a Fortune 500 company. And 37 is young for such a high-level position.

I certainly hope that she excels in the role and serves as a model to young women everywhere.

But the water cooler debates have been raging. I have heard discussions regarding whether Yahoo will regret its decision or whether Ms. Mayer will be able to handle the pressures, especially with a young child. And now, it seems, the press has moved on to debate her clothing choices.

As far as women have progressed in business, and there is no question that women have broken through many glass ceilings, it is clear that women still face significant gender biases in the workplace.

Marissa Mayer is being examined like a rare specimen in a museum and Yahoo is under intense scrutiny. Who is this unique creature? And what company would make such a bold decision?

I don’t see Ms. Mayer taking the helm of Yahoo as an iconic event. I know plenty of 37 year olds at the top of their careers who want children and plan to start a family after age 35. This is a trend I have discussed before, where women put off having children until they feel their career is where they would like it to be.

I am quite confident we will see more of this type of female leader in the future as the next generation reaches their potential. There was a thoughtful article called Marissa Mayer: Are the Rest of Us Shooting Too Low?, in the Forbes Magazine Work In Progress Blog about the conflict many women face when making choices about their personal potential.

With time, the media will probably continue to report on the woman’s hair and clothing – I suppose they need to report something. But I hope that the simple fact that a woman who is named CEO of a Fortune 500 Company is also going to be a mother will become yesterday’s news.

The more pertinent question is whether Marissa Mayer can lead Yahoo out of its recent slump. And if she is unable to do so, will her gender be cited as the reason for her failure? There have been several news stories questioning Ms. Mayer’s management style, so I don’t think that these questions are unfair.

Of course, these stories may come from a segment of society who generally believes that women are less competent leaders, so I will take these with a grain of salt and cheer her on from the sidelines.

What do you think? Do you think that this story deserves all the attention it has received in the press? Do you think that Marissa Mayer will be more likely or less likely to implement family-friendly policies at Yahoo? Why do you think the press feels a need to focus so much attention on the hairstyles and clothing of women in leadership positions, be they corporate CEOs or politicians? Do you think that we will reach a tipping point anytime soon where a female CEO will be less noteworthy? Why or why not? And what do you think about Yahoo’s choice to hire a 37 year old pregnant woman as their CEO at this challenging time?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like:

Does Anyone Care About The Lack of Women in Leadership Positions? (newsofthetimes.org)

Sheryl Sandberg’s Top 3 Tips To Keep Women in High Level Positions (newsofthetimes.org)

Four Strategies to Achieve Higher Employee Engagement (newsofthetimes.org)

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Filed under Business, Career Planning, Culture, equality, Parenting, social pressures, Stereotypes, Technology, Women, Youth Leadership

Love is All Around

One of many signs this morning.
Copyright JC Politi Photography

In light of the horrific events in Colorado on Friday, I thought I would dedicate today’s post to love.

I just finished my first sprint triathlon of the summer (1/4 mile swim, 17+ mile bike and 3.1 mile run!!) and all I could think about this morning as I looked around me was love.

I have only done all-womens triathlons. Every event I have done, I have left inspired by the women of all ages, shapes and sizes who are putting themselves through something physically challenging just to know they can do it. The support the women show each other is truly inspiring.

But what has really touched me in these events is the men who come to support the women in their lives. They come with signs, with advice, with music and with cameras. And they come with love and support. I can’t explain what this means to the women racing.

I do triathlons for many reasons, but one of the reasons is to have something that is all my own. Something that enables me to feel like I really accomplished something I set my mind to. The fact that the men at these races support their partners who have similar goals warms my heart.

And my sweet husband is one of them, so I thank him for that.

In the immortal words of the movie Love, Actually:

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.

A few other things that inspired me to write this post:

I came across a post yesterday called Heartwarming Quotes from Children About Love. Some adults asked the kids to tell them what love meant to them. Some of my favorites:

When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” Karen – age 7

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” Emily – age 8

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl – age 5

You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” Jessica – age 8

And finally, my post on love would not be complete without including this wonderful video, which to me is just a picture of love around the world. Thank you to Mimi from Waiting for the Karma Truck for this one.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pwe-pA6TaZk&feature=player_detailpage

What do you think? What are some of your favorite movies about love? Or poems? Or quotes? What is something simple that makes you realize that love is all around?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

41 Comments

Filed under Culture, Fitness, Love, Parenting, Relationships, social pressures, Women

Where does it stop?

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I live in Colorado. I am frequently in Aurora. I don’t personally know anyone involved in the tragedy in Aurora, but I know people who do.

The feeling in the air here is one of sadness and disbelief that someone could commit such a hateful act. A fear that something like this could happen to any of us at any time – a sense of dread that our kids could go to see a movie and not come home because of a senseless act of violence.

I share this sadness and my heart breaks for the parents and friends and family who lost loved ones.

But I do not quite share the disbelief. How many times does an act like this have to happen before our politicians will be willing to take leadership and do something about the proliferation of guns in the United States?

There is an excellent article by Roger Ebert in the New York Times called We’ve Seen This Before that is worth a read.

The alleged perpetrator of this crime bought four guns, including a semi-automatic weapon, and a massive amount of ammunition over the course of three months. Shouldn’t someone have noticed? Not with the currenty gun control laws currently on the books.

I understand the need to not turn a tragedy like this into a partisan debate. But I do not understand saying this is no time to discuss the politics of this event.

This should not be a partisan issue. This is about saving lives and stopping the killing.

State and federal legislative bodies in the United States simply must act to pass smart gun control laws. I am not saying that people cannot own guns, although I can certainly understand and empathize with this viewpoint. I would certainly feel safer if I knew that there were fewer guns in the hands of the public.

But we should be able to track better who has guns and for what purposes and to limit where these guns can be carried. It is a simple matter of life and death.

What do you think? Why is there such fear on the part of politicians to address this issue head-on? What do you think it will take for our leaders to take leadership on sensible gun control laws?

I know this is a sensitive and controversial subject, but I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

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Filed under Colorado, Culture, History, Parenting, Peace, Politcs, Poverty, Role of Government, Terrorism, violence

Secrets to a Long, Happy Marriage

From our Wedding in Argentina – 2007

Marriage is hard. We hear this all the time.

There is an article in the New York Times this week called The Wedding Effect, which really touched me.

The author is 29 years old and the article provides an honest, almost raw portrayal of her fears and skepticism regarding marriage. She calls marriage a “daredevil leap of faith,” which I think describes it perfectly.

The article held my interest for several reasons.

First, I could have written this same article at 29. My parents divorced when I was quite young – I think I was six. I was fortunate to have grandparents on both sides of the family who lived beyond 80, but both of their spouses died young.

When I was growing up, I had very few examples of marriage working through thick and thin. I had friends whose parents were still married and I remember being fascinated when I would occasionally hear their parents fight because I didn’t think people whose parents stayed together fought. I thought fighting meant divorce.

My husband and I have been married for five years this year. That feels like quite an accomplishment.

But this article reminded me of fears that I know are deeply embedded in my psyche about whether marriages can last. I am very happy in my marriage, and know that these questions come from that obnoxious inner voice whose words I simply need to hear and let go, much like the inner messages we hear telling us that we are not good enough.

From our small Baltimore wedding – we had two! Same dress…:-)

Whenever I meet couples who have been together for years, I ask their secret for a long marriage. This is not an attempt to make conversation. I am simply trying to place as many tools in my toolbox as I can to keep my marriage strong and to make up for the fact that my experience in my immediate family seemed to illustrate that only second marriages survive.

There is another interesting component to this article which is related to conversations we have had on this blog about women in the workplace. So many women have chosen to focus on their careers before marriage and before having children.

As I have written before, this can lead to women finding that by the time they are ready to have kids, their biological clocks have run out.

It is a cruel trick of nature and science definitely has it backwards on this one. I am quite confident I would be a significantly better parent now that I am 40 than I would have been at 21.

But I wonder how much of the fact that people are getting married later can be explained by fears like those described in this article. Statistics show the proliferation of children of divorce. This has to contribute to people getting married later in life.

What do you think? I would love to hear thoughts and advice for what keeps a marriage strong and healthy, through good and bad. What makes second marriages more successful? How do you silence the voices that question if your marriage is perfect? Is any marriage perfect? And do you think the fact that so many people came from homes with divorced parents is leading to later marriage? What impact do you see this having over the long term?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

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Filed under Career Planning, Parenting, Relationships, Religion, social pressures, Women

On the Road: Opportunities for Personal Growth through Solo Travel

Patagonia, Argentina
Copyright JC Politi Photography

Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.
– Alice Koller

Have you ever traveled alone? Would you? Why or why not?

An article in Lonely Planet tackles this issue and provides some tips for women travelling alone. The article is called, “Conquer Your Fear: 4 Tips for Solo Women Travelers.

This article made me think about my own experience traveling alone. When I was in my mid twenties, I lived in Austin, Texas and spent a few years learning how to be alone, getting to know myself better outside the constraints and expectations of family and friends, truly learning how to savor opportunities for solitude.

To further my personal growth, I planned to travel alone to the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion national parks. But at the last minute, I got cold feet and asked a friend to go along. That turned out to be a bad decision; this person is, sadly, no longer a friend for a variety of reasons.

The chemistry on the trip was not good and it put a dark cloud over the whole experience. I was disappointed in myself for chickening out and promised myself I would not let that happen again.

Ocean City, Maryland
Copyright JC Politi Photography

About a month later, I took my first solo trip. I drove up the west coast on the Pacific Coast highway in a rented convertible. This trip was absolutely life-changing and ignited my passion for solo travel.

After that trip, I took many trips by myself, including a month-long trip to Guatemala before I spoke a word of Spanish.

While I love traveling with my husband or with friends, solo travel will always hold a very special place in my heart.

There is a beauty to being able to control every aspect of a trip, from what sites to see, to what time to wake up.

You can even control bathroom breaks without worrying about disrupting someone else’s plans. Such luxury!

Venice, Italy
Copyright JC Politi Photography

Getting over the initial nerves of a solo trip can be a challenge, but it can also be one of the best opportunities for personal growth.

I am glad I overcame my fears and would love to hear readers’ stories about their fears or passions for solo travel – or both.

What do you think? Have you ever taken a solo trip? Where did you travel? If you haven’t done this, do you have fears of this type of experience? If you have done this, what did you learn along the way? Why do you think we have a fear of traveling alone? Do you prefer to travel alone or with another person? Why?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you liked this, you might also like:

Around the World in 80 Days: Would You Do It?

What Makes Amelia Earhart So Captivating?

Is There Room at the Inn? The Eternal Quest for the Perfect Getaway

52 Comments

Filed under Culture, Education, Environment, International, Parenting, Photography, Photos, social pressures, Stereotypes, travel, Women, Youth Leadership