Great news: not being a morning person doesn’t mean you’re lazy after all

Confession right up front: I have never been a morning person. Never, ever. I have managed to be reasonably responsible and fairly successful despite this flaw, but there has never been a time when I have not believed that if I had tried harder (or at all) to overcome this shortcoming I would have been a better person. I knew how lazy I really was. How much I loved staying in bed after the alarm went off, preferably sound asleep.

Until now. As of today, thanks to my new hero, Amanda Ruggeri of bbc.com, I realize that I’ve had it all wrong for the past 70 (OK, 71) years. Being a morning person isn’t a sign of virtue after all, it’s just a matter of genetics.  Ruggeri’s recent article, Why you shouldn’t try to be a morning person, has me walking with my head held a bit higher.

The message is everywhere. We are told about how people in charge – successful people – get up at obscenely early hours after scandalously few hours of sleep. Typically, these same paragons of virtue hit the gym or the trails before the sun comes up and are busy in their offices before the rest of us leave the house. Knowing this has always made me feel a bit defeated before I even started my day – although not defeated enough to get up earlier.

Having read Amanda Ruggeri’s life-altering article, I now know that being a morning person or a night owl (or in the middle, as is half the population) is genetic, nothing more. It turns out that getting up early every morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, isn’t necessarily a sign of an extremely motivated, self-disciplined person who attacks every aspect of their life with the same steely resolve. Gosh, I wish I had known that many, many decades ago. Continue reading

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Diversity and inclusion in books for kids: it needs to be on the radar screen

We’ve become a lot more diverse as a population in one generation in most parts of North America, and far more so in two generations. Speaking as a representative of the grandparent generation, when I was young, outside of big cities diversity was mostly restricted to the difference in people’s last names. That was pretty well the sum total of noted diversity; maybe your name sounded Polish or Greek or Italian instead of English or French… and maybe your parents even altered their names to make things “easier”. Everything else was out of sight, out of mind. No longer. We are a rainbow world; we come together from everywhere. We recognize that people with disabilities should be able to lead full lives, just like everyone else. We have families where kids may be raised by a mother and father, just a mother, just a father, by two fathers, two mothers, or by a grandparent or a foster parent. The happy news is that none of this is behind closed doors. And, although everything is not perfect, for sure, by and large this is the world that people expect. Except, that is not what kids find in most books they read. It is not what a parent usually finds when he or she reads to their young child. Too many children do not see themselves represented in stories written for them, and too many of us, including me, have been blind to that reality. There are more signs of change, but it is slow …. and it is complicated.

Reading to a child from an early age has been identified as perhaps the single most important thing you can do to ensure your child is as ready as possible to succeed in school. (It’s also a lovely bonding activity.) Stories provide all kinds of value: a story can fire children’s imaginations, make them laugh, surprise them, scare them, teach them new things, and increase their vocabulary. But it can also reinforce the unintended and potentially damaging message that the young reader is different from everyone else. I have been brought up short by this realization a few times in the past year or so.

RobbyRobin1Some readers will know that I started this blog several years ago when I was starting to write stories for my small grandchildren, hence the blog’s name – Robby Robin’s Journey – because my first stories were about a young bird named Robby Robin. More recently, I had written a story for a new grandchild and thought I’d send a copy of the story to a young friend of mine who had a new child of about the same age. Just one thing, in my story there was a Mommy and a Daddy, with my grandchild’s family in mind, but in my friend’s family there are two Daddies. (And may I say that no kid could have two better parents; he’s one lucky kid!) I had never, ever stopped to think about that blind spot in my story-writing until then; for example, all of my Robby Robin stories have a Mama Robin and a Papa Robin, but maybe they didn’t really need to. It was easy to make a customized change for one friend with a few word changes and some revised illustrations. But if I had intended the story for a bigger audience, what about all the other “non-traditional” families? Do parents reading to their kids in these families have to explain every single time they read a book out loud that there are all different kinds of families, it’s just that they’re never shown in books?! As I say, I had never stopped to think about this issue until this particular time. Continue reading

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Aging and running: managing expectations, capturing that feeling of joy

What brings people joy from physical activity varies from person to person. One person’s passion is another person’s horror. For example, the few times I have downhill skied I have experienced little beyond sheer terror, whereas many people pine for the slopes and regret the day when their bodies no longer cooperate. I know many people who share my enthusiasm for running and then some, but more people I know don’t understand the allure at all. Whatever turns your crank.

I haven’t written a blog post about running since March because until recently my heel was still causing me problems. Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, something like that. Of course, there’s an additional challenge as well … it’s called getting old! We get slower, we don’t recover as quickly as we used to – from injury or just from the effects of exercise, and so we either decide that we’re too old and we’ll just remember those times fondly or we figure out how to continue the activity with the “new you”. Figuring out how to choose the best plan to continue to enjoy your favourite physical activity is not made easier by most trainers, instructors, magazines, or online advice. It’s all geared to the 20-40 year-old set, written by trainers who are the same age. And the advice is mostly geared to becoming super-athletes. Running magazines are starting to include the occasional article about the older runner, but that’s usually about someone who’s turning 50 or very infrequently 60. So those of us who aren’t ready to give up and are able to keep moving need to come up with our own rules.

I am a little rare in that I started long-distance running with commitment when I was already past those ages. It was my retirement project to try running a half marathon, and then I got carried away! Some readers of this blog will have read previously of my brother and I running our first marathon – the utterly amazing NYC marathon – in 2011, when I was in my first year of the women’s 65-69 category. A much younger friend of mine – and far better runner – just finished the NYC marathon this past weekend a full 2 hours faster than we did it, but there is absolutely no way that she could have had a more exciting, exhilarating, or personally rewarding experience than we did. And through several more half marathons, the Chicago marathon, and 10Ks in many great locations, my brother, my husband, and I, along with our own traveling cheering squad (my sister-in-law), have enjoyed some very special times. Continue reading

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Why write? Why blog?

This blog post was motivated by a post from a fellow blogger, DM, who asked so many questions in a recent post that my reply was too long to be typed into the usual comment box. This blogger – Iowan, farmer, cabinetmaker, entrepreneur, husband, father, grandfather, and author –  in his Heart to Heart blog, writes from his heart and writes often. This particular post had him musing about the writing process. In browsing through his writing journal, reminding himself of thoughts he had recorded for potential writing projects, he reflected on the challenges, frustrations, and joys of writing, and what compels us to put words to page (or more likely to screen these days). He ended by posing several questions for fellow writers and/or bloggers. Continue reading

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Boeing is committed to Canada, how sweet!

[Disclaimer: This is a short rant about Boeing’s charm offensive (aka marketing campaign) aimed at Canadians after shafting their aerospace industry with crippling tariffs. If you’re all for the big guys being able to push out competition, then you probably don’t want to read this.]

An ad started appearing on our TV screen last week that at first blush seemed very positive, even compelling. Mind you, I’m an easy mark for these feel-good kinds of ads. It was low-key, with lovely images of nature, soft music, and a pleasing, non-aggressive voice. Very Canadian. With many ads that I enjoy (sometimes more than the program I’m watching), I often remember the heart-warming vignette but haven’t taken in what is being advertised. But with this one I slowly woke up to the fact that this was Boeing telling Canadians how much they love us. Boeing! The same Boeing that has just convinced the U.S. Dept. of Commerce to slap two trade tariffs on Bombardier’s CSeries airplane totalling 300% of its sticker price. Yes, THREE HUNDRED PERCENT! Why not just say, “Sorry, Canada, but we don’t think you should have an aerospace industry. You can just continue to buy our airplanes.” Of course, that’s exactly what they’ve said, in spades, but without the “Sorry”. Continue reading

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The end of eating?

The other day, as a group of us grappled with the important question of the meaning of life (hey, someone’s got to figure it out!), a young colleague suggested that humans have evolved into far more complicated beings than was the case a few millennia ago, in large measure due to our interaction with complex modern technology, and that our needs, desires, and expectations will have changed accordingly. Those of us of the older generation weren’t buying it, observing that the fundamental things we’re all looking for – happiness and fulfilment – haven’t changed. However, an article I came across in this morning’s paper has given me pause. My younger colleague might be onto something. Continue reading

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Quilting projects continue, so does trial and error!

In May I posted about some lessons I learned when putting together a quilt for one of my charming young grandsons. Happily, the eventual result was proclaimed a success by its young owner.

I took my own advice when designing the next one, for the other young grandson in that family, and since I had already acquired several busy, patterned fabrics for him, I chose a simple pattern where the fabric patterns didn’t compete with each other. Based on a design I found online, Continue reading

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