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Wednesday, January 27, 2016


On a balance sheet the difference between assets and liabilities is known as equity. In simple terms, it's the amount available once anything owed is deducted from from anything owned. It's what makes a balance sheet balance.

Equity. It's been on my mind lately–not the stuff on a financial statement–but the concept of equity in general. I'm not talking about equal pay, gender roles at home, or even the social injustices of the world. I'm interested in how different individuals perceive, or perhaps approach, fairness.

My husband and I share similar values and agree on most morality issues. (He's probably a bit more pro-capital punishment than I.) But we often take a different stance when it comes to quid pro quo. Case in point:

My husband is an excellent cook. (Meat seems to be his specialty. He's proven his ability to convert a vegan.) I think everyone in the house would prefer him to cook every night. However. He's pointed out several times how this isn't fair. He shouldn't have to cook most of the time. Valid point. So I contribute–mostly during harvest and planting seasons. Despite my lesser culinary talents, I don't have to worry about screwing up, because he's often auditing me. "Did you season that? How much of that did you add?"

But here's the difference between Doug and me. He's keeping a counter. "I cooked the last three meals. You're on to cook the next three. I cleaned the kitchen yesterday. You clean it the rest of the week." (ha ha) Now, I will admit that by the end of harvest season, I'm beyond ready for him to take over the kitchen. But for the most part, I don't keep score. I think I figured out why.

Doug grew up with four other siblings. Everything needed to be divided equally and no one was shown preference. Understandable and commendable. I, on the other hand, grew up as an only child. Sure, I was taught to share with my playmates, but I generally experienced a plethora of attention and received...well...lots of stuff. I know what many of you are saying right now, including my husband. "Oh! Spoiled brat!" But I disagree.

I watched my parents give me things, knowing how hard they worked. Most importantly, I sensed the joy when they gave. Maybe I sensed this from my mom a little more than my dad. Nonetheless, I sensed it. And what's more? I always felt the giving was unconditional. I might've been wrong. Maybe my parents are waiting for me to buy them a swimming pool. And I will. Soon. Because it would make me very happy to give.

Our pets seem to get equity. The cat is entitled to whatever he wants. And the dog just wants whatever the cat has. And they get along beautifully. Just like cats and dogs.

While there are obvious moral imperatives when it comes to the issue of equity ("All men are created equal"), I do believe it's important to understand perspective before judging if something or someone is fair or not. I would also argue if we all quit keeping counters, we might great peace within ourselves.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Just Listen to Music

When I was young, I was always perplexed when my mother shut off the car radio. I'd try to crank it up. She'd politely turn it down. Or off. I knew she loved music, so I didn't get it.

Now I do. As a music aficionado, I never saw myself choosing silence, or NPR, over melodies. But that's exactly what I've been doing! I'm not sure when it happened. It sort of snuck up on me. And while I have always been somewhat geek-ish (even before my mom days), I decided something this week. I have completely amped up my boring-factor. I need more music in my life.

It's intuitive to crave silence after a hectic day. And keeping current on the news is obligatory after a certain age–31, I think. Music slipped from my priority, which is nuts if you knew me when I was young. I had top five lists almost every week. Top five artists. Top five songs. Somewhere along the line, I stopped tracking my top five.

Not that I'm a complete ignoramus when it comes to music. Lucky for me, I have a son who hijacks the radio to get his dose of Shawn Mendez or Drake. It keeps me hip. Along with the NPR, of course. And I could probably whip up a quick top five artists list in a pinch.

When I tread on my treadmill, I often watch The Office to get my twenty minutes of laughter. For the next ten minutes, I switch to I Heart Radio. I've been very faithful about keeping my cardio to 30 minutes max. But I'm thinking of increasing my music ratio, which means more exercise minutes. I know what you're thinking. More than 30 minutes of exercise? Crazy! I think I need it though. I've been rotating between Imagine Dragons and Coldplay radio–and with only ten minutes of airplay, I often fail to hear Clocks. A definite top five song.

Today I chose a rock workout station which began with Awolnation and ended with Journey. Diverse. And awesome. As I lip synched to Don't Stop Believin, I realized how much my soul needs music. I felt my pulse revving and my optimism edging up. Certainly working out contributed, but I happen to believe it was more about the music. After imagining myself on stage, belting out a duet with Steve Perry, I definitely felt happier and less distracted from all of the day's minutia. I don't even like Journey that much! I didn't think. Maybe I do.

I've been brainstorming New Year's Resolutions that don't involve eating better, losing weight, or getting organized. So here it is. It's a good one: Listen to more music–and absorb it completely.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Oyster Stew

When I was a kid, my mother always made oyster stew for Christmas Eve. I loved it! Of course, I never did eat the oysters. I only ate the peppery milk and butter broth—topped with approximately two cups of soup crackers. So this year when my mother said she was going to make the stew again for Christmas, I became nostalgically giddy. And I made a decision. I would try the oysters.

 Beyond feeding and caretaking, I always believed one of my responsibilities as a parent was to ensure a spectacular holiday for my kids...just like mine always were. Of course, this meant buying them too many gifts to open on Christmas Day—the theoretical climax. But beyond the plunder of wrapping paper, my intent has been to create traditions to forever stamp their hearts. I want them to remember the time we spent decorating the house. Or toasting with sparkling grape juice and sickening ourselves with gooey Rhodes rolls. Or rushing madly to take a picture in front of the tree before Mass. Or our annual retreat to the board game closet.

Few might agree the razzle of holidays tend to veil the true meaning of the season. Celebrations have evolved into lavish decorations, food marathons, and gifts designed to exceed expectation. The desire to buy more and do more has become practically instinctual this time of the year. But it doesn't have to be that way, as we all know. A few well-placed traditions, instead of a fiery hoverboard, is what really brings us true comfort.
When I bit into the oysters on Christmas Eve, I can’t say I had much reaction. They were fine. A little slimy. I didn’t mind them, because I mostly savored the milk and buttery broth–which reminded me of my happy childhood. And much like my opinion on the the oysters, it’s not the gifts that make Christmas. It’s the broth, or the traditions that surrounds us during this time. That’s the part I love most.

Happy New Year's everyone!