Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

The End

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Perhaps it was telling that I recently wrote about the impermanence of most things in our lives.  As I wrote that post I didn’t see it as a foreshadowing of any kind.  Yet, it was just a few weeks later that I came to the decision to quit blogging.

When I started this blog nearly four years ago I had a not-very-demanding job, an equally undemanding one-year-old, and an abundance of spare time.  I felt that the orbit of my life was small – rarely extending beyond my own day-to-day existence.  I was looking to stretch myself in some capacity; to expend my time and energy in ways that would enrich my life and that of those around me.  I was searching for something, but I didn’t know what.  To put it quite simply, I was bored.

After reaching out to my husband, my sister, and the person who would become my best friend in the online world, I settled on a pair of endeavors that I hoped would add to and glean from my life something of value.  I began volunteering in the NICU of St. Louis Children’s Hospital.  And (with Aidan’s encouragement), I started this blog.  I covered everything from C-sections to robots, ­­­­vegetarianism to feminism.  I looked at the world through a new lens, considering my own perspective on all manner of topics that might make for interesting blog fodder.  And all along I relished in the opportunity to come here and explore those topics, rarely seeing my posting schedule as an obligation rather than a privilege.

However, my offline life has marched on, ushering in two new children and some big career changes.  There may or may not be a second adoption on the horizon.  And I’m confident that – at least for the next 17 years or so – life isn’t going to get any quieter.  Reflecting on life is a crucial component of living it well.  But reflecting on it twice or thrice weekly in thousand-word essays is a luxury.  And for the moment it’s a luxury I cannot afford.

Perhaps my departure seems abrupt.  I haven’t ever (even during breaks) equivocated about my desire to blog.  One thing about this blog, though, is that it was never about me.  While I find myself quite fascinating, Dickensian I am not, lacking either the tragic or comic qualities that would make me a worthy subject matter.  Certainly, I discussed bits and pieces of my life as they related to other topics.  But writing about myself was never my intent.  In fact, it was something I generally sought to avoid. And that is how it is that I have arrived at a place in which it is very clear to me that it’s time to log off, yet without any warning to you.

As I think about it, this blog is one of the things in my life of which I am most proud.  I am proud of the range of topics I’ve covered.  I’m proud of the quality of the writing I’ve produced and of the quality of the conversation it has generated.  And I’m proud of my dedication to the entire project over time (this year’s absences notwithstanding).  I am a bit sad to give up this part of my life, but mostly relieved.  I haven’t been very good blogger this year, and if the hard truth of the situation is that I must choose to do this poorly or not do it at all, I’d rather not do it at all.  Also, I hope that with this obligation cleared from my schedule I will find more time and renewed energy for other interests that have been crowded out bit by bit.

So here you have it: my last post.  It is not my most interesting work – no thoughts on the sequester’s hideous effects on Head Start, no reflections on the upcoming change of seasons, no exploration of the idiosyncrasies of Francis and Claire’s marriage in “House of Cards.”  Just my honest confession of time constraints and prioritization.

This blog will remain live at this site until sometime in mid-December when my hosting package expires.  In the meantime I will have the entire thing – every post and every comment – converted into hard copy, so that I (and perhaps someday my children) can come back to it and experience again this thing that was such a big part of my life for a time.

Finally, I must thank you.  Thank you for coming here and reading.  Thank you for commenting – for challenging and supporting me.  Thank you for being a part of this experience which I have treasured and which I will cherish every time I think back on it.  I know there will be days when I long to come here and explore my thoughts on a topic that interests me.  But on those days I will talk with my sister on the phone, or a girlfriend over lunch, or my husband in the evening.  I will continue thinking Ten Dollar Thoughts, even if only in the confines of my mind.

Everything’s a Phase

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

The other night JDP lolly-gagged contentedly in the bathtub.  His brothers were already bathed and jammied, and he was happy to be in the tub alone without anyone to steal his toy boats and trucks, so I let him take his time in the bath while I changed our sheets in the room next door.  At one point his babbles and splashes settled down and I quickly went in to check on him and found him lying on his back in the tub, completely relaxed, holding a toy boat above his head and turning it over in his hands.  He was so happy.

This was a noteworthy moment because just a few weeks ago every bath was a battle.  For reasons that we were never able to determine, sometime in late April JDP decided that baths were on par with waterboarding and threw a commensurate fit every time we filled the tub.  This lasted for about a month, and then suddenly it was over.

The experience of raising children is probably unrivaled in its ability to impress upon you that nothing lasts.  Neither diapers nor tantrums.  Neither Boppy naps nor toddler vocab (the cutest words ever spoken come out of the mouths of 18-month-olds).  For better and worse, they all come and go.  And based on our limited tenure so far I would say that raising an adopted toddler even further heightens that truth.  They have so much to process, and yet they have so few means to do so.  And so, absent the ability to say something self-aware and coherent about it (such as, “You know, Mom, remember like three weeks ago when X happened at bath time?  Well it really freaked me out and I’m having some trouble getting past it.  Could you talk it through with me?”), they throw a fit.  And perhaps they even throw the same fit every other night at bath time for a solid month.  And then, poof, they’ve moved on.  What was once perceived as a torture chamber is now considered the best possible respite from the stresses of toddlerhood.  Voila!  Time heals all bath hatred.

That night after putting JDP to bed I went downstairs and told my husband about The Happy Bath and marveled at it.  All the hangups were just… gone.  “EVERYTHING is temporary,” I told him.  And that got me to thinking about how true that statement is in all aspects of life.

It is true of the friends whose lives go in different directions.  It was true of many old classmates.  It was true of the car I drove and loved for nine years after college.  It is true of the miserable boss or antagonizing coworker (I’ve had my share of each).  It is also true of the wonderful, mentoring boss and the fun, collaborative coworkers (thankfully I’ve had those too).  It is true of neighbors and homes and restaurants.  When we look at the list of things and people in our lives that are truly permanent – the ones that will be with us ten or 20 years from now – it’s a surprisingly short list.  The people in my life who are permanent include my and GAP’s parents, siblings, and their children, and a few key friends whose presence in our life transcends logistics or phases.  We will not live in our current house forever (which means that we will not live two blocks from our favorite pizza place forever).  We will not have our amazing dogs forever.  We will not have to travel with sippy cups and Pack N Plays forever.  Our kisses will not heal our children’s wounds forever.

It both breaks and warms my heart to recognize that everything is temporary.  Everything’s a phase.

GAP is not one for keepsakes, but I am.  When we first started traveling together it took me a while to explain to him why a memory itself isn’t enough; why I needed an object to embody it.  Most of life’s experiences are fleeting, but tangible representations of those moments can be more enduring.  I like to look at, and hold, and feel things that take me back to a particular place in my life.  They help me carry with me the moments that I can’t actually carry with me.

Sitting on my desk at home are a horseshoe, a coffee mug, and a lacquered box.  But they are not just a horseshoe, a coffee mug, and a lacquered box.  They are reminders of a place or time that I do not want to forget – a phase of my life that is gone.  Almost.  But not quite.

Four Months Later…

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Did you think I’d totally forgotten about this blog?  I wouldn’t blame you if you did.  Four whole months ago I made a passing comment about extending my holiday blogging break due to some craziness in my professional life, and haven’t been heard from since.  Poof!  I was gone.

I’m really sorry about that.  I have a collection of loyal readers and I know that my absence here has been disappointing to many of you.  (Some of you have even flattered me by telling me so.)  And now that I am back I feel that I should provide a bit of explanation.  As you will read below, my head has not been entirely above water these past few months, and something had to give.  Actually, a few things had to give, and blogging was one of those things.  Sometimes real life steps in and demands to be lived rather than pondered.  This was one of those times.

So here’s how it all went down…  (Because I will not try to fully recap four months in one blog post, I’m giving it to you in bullets.)

  • Late November – Writing energy flags as my creativity is channeled into Christmas gift ideas, party planning, and other holiday merriment.
  • Early December – ADOPTION REFERRAL!!  We were matched with a child and spent the rest of the month scrambling to file immigration documents, referral acceptance paperwork, and many other forms which we hadn’t completed since we weren’t expecting to be matched until spring or summer.
  • Late December/Early January – Work demands ramp up to an incredible level.  I pull many 15+ hour days which are (if I’m being diplomatic) “unpleasant.”  Post-holiday blogging return gets postponed.
  • Mid-January – The flu hits our house and fells both GAP and me in consecutive bouts over the course of about 10 days.  We concurrently pester our adoption agency about our wait time to travel to Korea.
  • Late January – The mayhem of my work life continues.  I leave my job.  We continue to push our adoption agency to get our travel approval granted expeditiously.
  • Early February – I kick off a massive job search with the hope of uncovering as many opportunities as possible before we bring our new son home.
  • Late February – We travel to Korea for a week to get our son.  He is two years old, completely adorable, and will be known on this blog as JDP.
  • March – JDP works hard to overcome jet lag, learn English, learn sign language, adapt to life with brothers, make his peace with many new foods, accept discipline as a regular part of life now, and gain his footing in a completely new existence.  I interview with several companies.
  • Late March – I get a job offer!  I accept it!
  • April – I try to enjoy my final month of downtime at home, continue to help JDP settle in, and tie up many loose ends before returning to work.

And that brings us to today.  I am now back at work and trying hard to resume our normal routines.  Many of those routines have changed as we adjust to being a family of five, but we’re getting there.  And part of that return to normal includes a return to blogging for me.

Now that I’ve explained the reasons for my little disappearing act, I want to say that the past four months have impressed upon me that blogging is an incredible privilege.  The time, inclination, and resources (mental, emotional, etc.) to wax philosophical about the world around me are not available to everyone.  I am lucky that nine days out of ten they are available to me.  But since the start of 2013 they have not been, and that has prompted me to appreciate more than ever that blogging is – as I might tell my kids – a special treat.

I’ve had many ideas in the past four months of things I’d like to blog about – ideas that, sadly, have come and gone.  No matter.  There will be new ideas and new blog topics.  I plan to resume my twice weekly posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I hope you will come back, resume reading, and offer your thoughts on anything I write.  The dialog, after all, is much of the reason I do.

I’ve missed being here.  And I’m very happy to be back.

A Legitimate Question

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Only recently have I begun to lie about my age.  I’m perfectly willing to concede that I’m 35.  But when I reach the end of a Boden product review entry and am asked to categorize my age I just can’t bring myself to check the 35-44 box.  I always check the 25-34 box.  Thirty-five is one thing.  But I’m not yet ready to reconcile myself to the fact that I’m part of an age category that includes 44-year-olds.  I’m pretty sure that it’s okay for me to avoid unpleasantries about my age, though, because I am not the House Minority Leader.

Yesterday, as she announced that she intends to keep her current post as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi grew offended when NBC reporter Luke Russert asked her about whether that decision damaged the Democratic party by preventing younger leadership from taking the reins.  As soon as the question was out of his mouth the congregation of women standing behind Pelosi cried foul.  ”Age discrimination!” they shouted.  Russert (bully for him) held his ground, though, repeating the question and pressing for an answer.  Pelosi then remarked. “Let’s for a moment honor it as a legitimate question, although it’s quite offensive. You don’t realize that, I guess.”

Now I know the old saying goes that a lady never reveals her age,* but I’m here to say that I think that women (at least women in public service) shouldn’t get a pass on this issue any more.  Once upon a time there was a much thicker glass ceiling than there is today.  Women didn’t serve in houses of Congress, on boards of directors, or on the United States Supreme Court.  Slowly, though, we’ve chipped away at that glass and today women fill all sorts of leadership roles.  This progress is both wonderful and warranted.  But just as women’s merits should be held in as much esteem as men’s, so should our accountability be challenged as persistently.

By asserting that Russert’s question was offensive Pelosi tried to give herself a pass, to move on without answering it.  It sort of pains me to say it, but no man would have done that.  The ages of Reagan and McCain were widely discussed during their presidential administrations and campaigns.  I wasn’t following politics very closely in the early ’80s, but I followed the 2008 presidential race energetically and never once did I see McCain avoid a question about his age.  He consistently responded that he was in excellent physical and mental health, and that his age had provided him a full set of life experiences that would guide his leadership of the country.  These are fair questions in the political arena, and if women want to go toe-to-toe with men in elected office we can’t ask for special treatment on certain topics.  Part of shedding the sexist limitations of our nation’s past is also shedding some of the chivalrous protections that went along with it.  Russert’s question was a legitimate one, even if women of Pelosi’s generation don’t like to think so.

In retrospect what surprised me most about Pelosi’s initial “How dare you!” response was that once she got past it and gave a real answer, it was a good one.  She talked about not having entered Congress until much later in life than her male counterparts and her resulting awareness of the need to elect young women to the House.  She talked about her efforts to shepherd younger representatives into positions of leadership.  She made it clear that her maintenance of her current role is in no way detrimental to the grooming of younger leadership.  (Whether or not you agree with that is a different question altogether.  My point here is that she had an eloquent answer.)

In a way I think Mrs. Pelosi weakened herself with her knee-jerk rejection of Russert’s question.  She should have embraced it.  In doing so she would have conveyed confidence in her tenure and her experience.  Her eventual answer about working to facilitate younger leadership would have rung true.  And the headlines following the press conference would have focused more on her leadership and less on her age.

No elder statesman has ever apologized for his age.  No elder stateswoman should either.


*To this day the age of cosmetics legend Mary Kay Ash is only an estimate.

The End. The Beginning.

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Today is IEP’s last day of freedom.

I make it sound so foreboding, don’t I?  I don’t mean to.  Honestly, I shouldn’t.  The thing that awaits him tomorrow?  It’s his first day of school, which, when you get right down to it is one of the most wonderful things that will ever happen to him.  It will open the doors to learning and friendships and adventures of all stripes.  Truly, I am excited for him.  He is excited.  We are all excited.

With each rite of passage, though, we leave something behind.  In this case it’s the very last vestige of his babyhood, and that (at least for me) is not without some sadness.  No longer will he play in his pajamas while I get ready for work.  No longer will he get to look at Nanny when she arrives and proclaim, “I want to go to the Science Center today,” (as he did just yesterday).  And most of all, no longer will each day be his blank slate to fill with nearly anything of his choosing.  It is the end of something.

It is also the beginning of something.  Starting school is a happy occasion.  It is also a privilege.  But there will likely come a day when it will be a chore; when IEP will long to stay home in his pajamas doing the 7th grade equivalent of spending the morning playing with his toy trains.  When that day does come I will think back on this time in his life, on how unencumbered it was by responsibility or obligation.  And perhaps there will be a day here and there when I indulge him.  Perhaps there will be a day here and there when I try to recreate for him the joys and freedoms of being three years old.

This morning was like most others.  There was breakfast in the sunroom.  There was a long walk with the boys in the double jogger and the dogs on either side.  There was the instruction that it is IEP’s “very important job” to make sure that his bed is made and that he is dressed before Nanny gets here.  It’s a routine we’ve been practicing for weeks in preparation for this very moment.  We are ready.  But even though we’re ready – or more adroitly, even though he is ready – I am not entirely ready.  That, though, is the tricky, slippery, unwieldy thing about raising kids.  They continue growing up whether we’re ready or not.  I’m still a relatively green parent, but I’d be willing to wager that I’ll never be entirely ready, and that each new phase will come accompanied by a silent internal chorus of, “But I’m not ready yet!”  I will sing the chorus to myself over and over and over, and it won’t change a thing.

IEP hasn’t been a baby for some time now.  Starting tomorrow I won’t be able to fool even myself anymore.

The Olden Days

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

“Please tell me about I am a little baby.”

Translation, “Please can we talk about when I was a baby.”

It’s one of IEP’s favorite requests these days.  Now that he has a baby brother and a sense of how different babies are from kids, he finds it really interesting to hear about all the things he did when he was a baby.  Partly because I enjoy the trip down memory lane, and partly because I think it’s good for his library of memories, I indulge him.  Also, I was the same way as a kid.  I loved hearing about myself as a tiny tot.

The other thing I loved being told about?  The olden days.  ”Mom, tell us about the olden days!” my sister and I would plead.  This meant, essentially, “Tell us about growing up in a small town in the 1950s so that we can marvel at how arcane life was back then.”  And, probably for the same reasons, she also indulged us.

She told us how her family’s home phone number was only four digits long, and her grandmother’s was only two digits.  She told us that when her mother was pregnant with her and ready to deliver she just got up and walked across the street to the hospital.  She told us about writing counter checks at the Tastee Freeze after school and dragging Main Street on weekend nights in high school.  And she told us about when she worked as a teller at the family’s bank one summer in college a bird got into the building and she was the only one able to shoot it down. …  No answering machines.  No microwaves.  No VCRs.  No cassettes or CDs.  No car phones.

I remember thinking, “Whew.  I’m glad that I’m growing up in the 80s when things are so advanced.  This way my kids won’t think I grew up in the dark ages.”  Clearly 13-year-old Gale had no idea what was coming.

It amazes me to think about this sometimes – how vastly different life is today with the technological advances of the past 20 years.  My children will never know life without cell phones.  Further, they will never no life without iPhones.  They will never know life without the internet and all that entails – e-mail, social networking, instant answers to random questions, etc.  They will never replace a scratched CD.  They will never go to Blockbuster to rent a movie.  They will never know what it is to rewind a tape.

One of these days my kids will be old enough to realize that things were not like this when I was a kid.  They’re going to ask me to tell them about the olden days.  They may not call it that, but that’s what they will mean.  I imagine that probably within the next five years, and certainly within the next 10, I will have to answer some collection of the following questions.

  1. How did you look up movie times? (In the newspaper.  You only threw them out once a week.)
  2. How did you record a show?  (You scrambled to find a blank VHS tape, or something you didn’t care about taping over.)
  3. You didn’t have Tivo?  (No.)
  4. What did you do if you missed something on TV?  (You just missed it.)
  5. What did you do during commercials?  (We watched them.)
  6. How did you make plans with your friends?  (You called their house.)
  7. What did you do if they weren’t home?  (You left a message with someone else at the house.)
  8. How did you do research for school papers?  (Went to the library or used an encyclopedia.)
  9. What’s an encyclopedia?  (It’s what Wikipedia would be if it were printed out into about 30 books.)
  10. How did you listen to music?  (We made mix tapes.)
  11. How did you order things?  (You called a catalog.)

It’s amusing to think about, but I also puzzle over the significance of my life having bridged the gap between the pre- and post-internet worlds.  I think it must be akin to being born in 1890 and Ford Motor Company launching the Model T when you were 18 years old.  I think the change is that seismic.

My kids are absolutely going to think I grew up in the dark ages.  And by today’s standards, they will be right.  But in some ways, I look  forward to their jaws dropping when I tell them that you used to have to look up directions before you left the house, and car phones were mounted to your dashboard.  I think it will be good for them to understand a different way of life, if only academically.

But also, I think I will enjoy the trip down memory lane.  It’s not that I think the older ways were better.  (Life with the internet is far superior to life without it in many ways.)  But I like thinking back on the simplicity of childhood.  Yes, the simplicity of childhood is amplified by the simplicity of less technology.  But life for a child is usually simpler than life for an adult in any era.  As adults we tend to complicate things unnecessarily.  Stopping to remember that things can almost always be simpler is a good exercise for all of us.

A Programming Note

Monday, March 19th, 2012

I’m here to level with you.

As I’ve mentioned recently, my lovely, smiling, cooing, and altogether adorable second son SSP has one fault.  (I’m sure there will be many more in the future, but for the moment it’s just the one.)  He isn’t sleeping through the night.  That alone isn’t such a big deal.  He’s only four months old and lots of babies don’t sleep through the night at his age.  However, he has taken it a step further.  Lately he has been waking up to eat twice most nights.  Sometimes he wakes three times.  If we get through a night with only one feeding I count it a huge victory.  And since maternity leave is a dim and distant memory (sigh), I am no longer able to get my head back above water with an afternoon nap.

This means that I am a wee bit exhausted lately.  (My mother lovingly told me over the weekend, “I’ve never seen you so tired, my dear.”  Ummm, thanks, Mom…)  So, in the interest of my own sanity and that of my family, I’m going to dial it back around here to two posts a week for a while.  You will find my fresh, witty, and insightful thoughts (I’ve decided that anyone who is this tired is entitled to a bit of self-flatttery) here on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next couple of months.  And when SSP starts sleeping through the night and I start feeling like a normal human again, I will return to my standard MWF posting.

So, check back tomorrow for a new post.  Until then, have a wonderful Monday and a wonderful week.

Before and After

Monday, December 5th, 2011

I have a friend who has the kind of hair that every girl envies.  It is fine, but thick.  It is the perfect shade of blonde.  It is well-behaved and straight.  It falls with conviction down to the middle of her back.  It swings when she walks and bounces when she runs.  If she weren’t one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, I might hate her for it.

I do not have that kind of hair.  My hair is not especially thick; perhaps a bit thinner than average.  It is naturally a bit wavy, depending on the humidity, but I can’t really rely on it ever to do the same thing twice.  My hair and I get along the best when I keep it trimmed just above my shoulders, and I pull it back into a low, parted ponytail quite often.

My friend – the nice one, with the killer hair – isn’t just nice.  She’s better than that.  She is good, and kind, and generous.  Every few years she goes into a salon, sweeps her hair back into an elastic, and instructs the stylist to cut 10 or 12 inches of perfect hair off of her head.  She places it in a plastic baggy and donates it.  Every time she does it I’m inspired.

Because my hair isn’t particularly suited to the half-way-down-your-back look, I’ve never let it get long enough to donate.  (I am a big fan of charity, but also a big fan of personal grooming.)  But with this most recent pregnancy, I had a game plan in place.

When I was pregnant with IEP I discovered that something about pregnancy hormones causes my hair to roughly double in thickness over the course of nine months.  Instead of shedding dozens and dozens of hairs every time I shampoo I lose only four or five individual hairs.  By the end of a pregnancy I have hair that is legitimately enviable.  The flip side to this coin, though, is that a few weeks after delivery karmic justice rears its ugly head and all of the hair that didn’t shed out during the pregnancy exits stage left over the course of about 10 days.  It breaks my heart.

So this time around I decided to trade my heartbreak in for something a little happier.

More than a year ago, before SSP was even in the works, I started growing my shoulder-length locks out.  By the time SSP was born I had enough hair to follow my super nice and super generous friend’s incredible example.  (That photo up top was taken when SSP was two weeks old.)

And last week I walked into my salon looking like this:

Cold feet struck me when I sat down in the chair at the salon.  My stylist gave me a much needed pep talk (“Gale, you have hair and some kid out there doesn’t.”), and then when I gave her the final go-ahead she started snipping.  About an hour later, she stopped.

I walked out looking like this:

Most of my charitable acts are financial donations to good causes, casseroles made for the church food pantry, and time spent volunteering at the local children’s hospital.  But something about this felt different – both bigger and smaller.  I gave, quite literally, a piece of myself.  It wasn’t a ton of hair and will certainly have to be combined with other donations to make a single wig, but, like the widow’s mite, I gave all of what I had, and it was a fundamentally different experience.   It feels quite different to give all that you can, rather than to make a token offering that only represents further generosity that wasn’t extended.

I am amazed by the people like my friend who give this incredible gift over and over.  I wish I had the kind of hair that I could grow out and donate repeatedly, but am thankful that I had the opportunity to do it this once.  It feels good to lay all that you have out on the table.  I should do it more often.

A New Set of Initials

Monday, October 31st, 2011

I’m adding a new set of initials to the lexicon around here.

SSP was born on Friday morning weighing exactly seven pounds and measuring exactly 20 inches.  He looks just like his brother did as a newborn, and is every bit as sweet.  Delivery was smooth and largely uneventful.  The only drama of the whole affair was the Cardinals’ stunning Game 6 victory as I labored Thursday night.  We came home yesterday, all happy and healthy, and are enjoying the adjustment to a family of four.

I’m not quite sure what my presence in this space will be like in the coming few months.  I will certainly be taking a hiatus from thrice-weekly posting, and from my usual menu of thought-provoking topics.  I’m considering just posting photos – “Scenes from Maternity Leave” or similar – but haven’t really settled on any one approach yet.  Stay tuned and I will let you know once I’ve figured it out.

Thanks for all of your support and good wishes over these past many months of pregnancy.  It is such a blessing to finally have SSP in our family.

Finding What’s Missing

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

I was intrigued by Gretchen Rubin’s most recent tip for improving her level of happiness.  She advocates for getting up earlier.  She finds that waking up before the rest of her family provides her with quiet productive time that would otherwise escape her daily routine.  She comments, “I spend the hour from 6:00 to 7:00 working at my desk, and I love the light, and the quiet, and the sense of focus and freedom from interruption that I have during that hour. I wish I could go for a walk, too, but so far the desire to spend the time at my desk has triumphed.”

As a morning person myself I can relate to her approach, but I was disappointed she didn’t explore the roots of why this tactic is so beneficial to her.  She explains what she finds valuable about it, but stops short of further exploration.

If I were to explore this topic more thoroughly I would encourage people to determine what is missing from their lives.  For a busy mother of two young children an hour of peace and quiet at the start of the day may be priceless.  But for a single person who works from home more hours of quiet alone time may be the last thing they need.  Perhaps this person would be better served by a standing coffee or lunch date with a friend.  We all have different shortcomings in our lives, different holes that need filling.  Rubin has successfully identified her own hole – a quiet time of freedom and productivity – but I think she does her readers a disservice to assume that their holes are comparable.  The point here is to add back to your life something that is missing and find a way to incorporate it.

What is missing from my life?  Lately, sleep, but that’s not going to change any time soon.  As I stare down my upcoming maternity leave I anticipate that adult social interaction will be a shortcoming for the next few months, and that is a gap I’ll need to mindfully fill.  Perhaps for you it’s the opportunity to actually sit down to a meal.  Perhaps it’s time to read.  Perhaps it’s a break in the middle of your work day to clear your head and refresh yourself.  No two of us are exactly alike.  We have to make room for our differences and improve our happiness accordingly.