Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2007

Weeknights at 10 to 11pm EST, ION Television has been showing reruns of The Wonder Years. Last night, “Independence Day,” the series finale, aired and summed up the lives of the Arnold family, Paul, Winnie, and of course, Kevin.

Many of you who’ve seen the show already know what happened (and if you don’t, stop reading now and turn your TV to Ion for some nostalgic programming). Paul went on to Harvard to study law, Kevin’s sister Karen has a little one on the way, Kevin and Winnie actually don’t end up together happily ever, and most shockingly, Jack Arnold passes away in the next couple years.

Some fans have wondered why the show’s producers ended The Wonder Years this way. They are puzzled as to why Kevin and Winnie didn’t live happily ever after. They also question why—after years of hard word and middle-class struggle—the archetypical American head-of-household Jack dies.

In my opinion, Kevin and Winnie living as happily-married high-school sweethearts would have been contrary to the show’s message. The Wonder Years was about the turmoil of growing up, the adolescent years where childhood things were to be abandoned as we progressed toward the adult world. Hobbies and activities were slowly neglected and forgotten. Friends grew apart. People change. We look back and remind ourselves of the good times and lament their passing. And life goes on.

I don’t think there was a dry eye in America’s living rooms when that last episode first aired. In fact, when Melissa and I watched it again last night she cried as if she saw this for the first time, and I struggled a little bit to keep back the tears, especially during the final scene.

The Wonder Years told the story of lost childhood, something you couldn’t hold on to no matter how hard you tried. I couldn’t help but analyze my own experiences growing up. Could I have done things differently? Could I have befriended more people? Could I have learned to be happier? It is a futile experience because I do not own a time machine.

The only things all of can do is march forward and anticipate the happy times. As for me, I’m getting married and about to embark on a different career path. My thirties are just around the corner. I am not a child anymore and haven’t been for a long time now. The future is where my life remains, not the past. And I look forward to those years with wonder.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Testing My Passions

Since I work in publishing, I have access to a lot of books. One that came across my path was The Passion Test by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood. This one struck a chord because, although there are many self-help and inspirational books out there, Janet and Chris’s book has specific activities you can use to define your passions and measure them. The book helps you to list your passions and rank them accordingly. Then it teaches you to focus your energy into your top passions.

After building a list with over 20 different passions, I iterated through my list and ranked my top five. The Attwoods then encourage you to write your passions down on note cards and post them wherever you frequent most. Here is what I came up with:

My Passion Test
09-25-2007

When my life is ideal I am:
1. Having a sense of contentment and inner peace.
2. Being a caring partner for my fiancé, my future wife.
3. Traveling to places that are new and interesting to me, where I will embrace a host of fascinating experiences.
4. Thinking about great philosophies and ideas.
5. Writing about the topics, philosophies, and issues I care about.
This or something better!

During the exercise, I discovered plenty more passions, including caring for others and pursuing photography. However The Passion Test stresses that the reader should only concentrate on the top five passions (at least for six months) so as not to spread oneself too thin. So for now these are my highest passions.

One of the most unique activities in The Passion Test is writing your speech on your 100th birthday. Here you are to mention all of the wonderful and exciting moments of a century’s worth of living. The point is not to build a “wish” list—in fact, the authors almost always avoid the words “wish” and “want.” The goal of the 100th birthday exercise and the others in the book are to convince you to believe your passions are already within your capabilities.

I’m still working out the kinks of my birthday speech, but as soon as I work them out, I’ll post it online. I’ll also give a more comprehensive review once I finish the book, including on how (or if) The Passion Test gave me a new perspective on life.

Read Full Post »

Since I work in publishing, I have access to a lot of books. One that came across my path was The Passion Test by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood. This one struck a chord because, although there are many self-help and inspirational books out there, Janet and Chris’s book has specific activities you can use to define your passions and measure them. The book helps you to list your passions and rank them accordingly. Then it teaches you to focus your energy into your top passions.

After building a list with over 20 different passions, I iterated through my list and ranked my top five. The Attwoods then encourage you to write your passions down on note cards and post them wherever you frequent most. Here is what I came up with:

My Passion Test
09-25-2007

When my life is ideal I am:
1. Having a sense of contentment and inner peace.
2. Being a caring partner for my fiancé, my future wife.
3. Traveling to places that are new and interesting to me, where I will embrace a host of fascinating experiences.
4. Thinking about great philosophies and ideas.
5. Writing about the topics, philosophies, and issues I care about.
This or something better!

During the exercise, I discovered plenty more passions, including caring for others and pursuing photography. However The Passion Test stresses that the reader should only concentrate on the top five passions (at least for six months) so as not to spread oneself too thin. So for now these are my highest passions.

One of the most unique activities in The Passion Test is writing your speech on your 100th birthday. Here you are to mention all of the wonderful and exciting moments of a century’s worth of living. The point is not to build a “wish” list—in fact, the authors almost always avoid the words “wish” and “want.” The goal of the 100th birthday exercise and the others in the book are to convince you to believe your passions are already within your capabilities.

I’m still working out the kinks of my birthday speech, but as soon as I work them out, I’ll post it online. I’ll also give a more comprehensive review once I finish the book, including on how (or if) The Passion Test gave me a new perspective on life.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Read Full Post »

Today’s high schools mostly focus on academic achievement and extracurriculars such as athletics and various social clubs. Course content is conventional and subject-specific: language arts, history, science, mathematics, and of course P.E. A school in Germany, however, is adding another class requirement: happiness.

“‘We want to teach contentment, self-confidence and personal responsibility,’ the school’s director Ernst Fritz-Schubert, told reporters….”

With the popularity of positive psychology and self-help books such as The Secret, I hope this turns out to be a trend in American public education. Too many adolescents are depressed, lonely, and seek fulfillment through reckless behavior in alcohol and drugs. After all, high school is where adolescents spend most of their time–shouldn’t high school teach them out to live a happy life?

Most coursework fulfills deep subject-specific content. Students learn Newtonian mechanics and optics in physics, quadratic equations in algebra, and the causes and effects of the Civil War in US history. The vast majority of the information taught in secondary education will be forgotten, but the arguments for continuing the subject-heavy curriculum are that it will help build character, virtue, and essentially give them the tools to make sound decisions. These same arguments can be made for building happiness—or positive psychology—into the mainstream curriculum.

Although we bombard the students with plenty of subject-specific information to help them create choices, we don’t teach students how to effective make decisions from those choices. A happiness-based curriculum will help students make choices by figuring out their own fulfillment. This, of course, is a lifelong progression but the foundation needed on how to make those choices should start in public education.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Read Full Post »

The very essence of autumn signals a transition period. Its arrival marks the end of backyard barbeques and beach parties that are hallmarks of the lazy days of summer. The brisk morning air and the beginnings of red, orange, and yellow leaves are nature’s ways of preparing for the cold and brisk months of winter.

Summer may be over but fall can bring lots of fun activities too. Apple picking in late September has become a bit of a tradition with my fiancé and her parents. It’s an activity that almost anyone can do, promotes healthy eating, and is affordable. Not to mention the many different foods you can make with apples. Homemade applesauce, apple butter, and the classically American apple pie all can be easily made with a sack full of freshly picked apples.

This year we visited Masker Orchard in Warwick, New York. Here you can pick all kinds of apples, from Macintoshes to red delicious and jonagolds and cortlands. Different apples ripen at different times so you might want to check their ripening schedule online. Macintoshes ripen in the second week of September; jonagolds and red delicious apples are ready in September’s third and fourth weeks. Going yesterday, we were able to fill our bags mostly with red delicious and Macintosh apples.

When you arrive at Masker Orchards, turn your radio to 87.9 FM and you’ll find a running loop of a character named “Apple Steve” giving you advice for a great apple picking experience. I found his rouse comical as he espouses “to do the right thing” by “respecting the apples.” With the pop-crackling of a 1940s phonograph, Apple Steve advises his guests to respect the apples and compares the taste of cider to “liquid apples.”

Masker charges by the bag so be sure to stuff them as best you can. One bag will cost $18.25, which is a steal if you utilize all its space. The teenage boys and girls who greet you at the entrance will hand you enough bags. If you find yourself needing more, ask one of the attendants and they’ll be happy to give you more.

At the end of our trip, we took home two bags and two full quarts of cider. My fiancé and I managed to pick a few tiny pickings for our pet hamster and dragged home enough Macintoshes and red delicious apples for an apple pie or two. True, this trip marks the end of summer but after savoring the cinnamon-spiced flavor of a home-cooked pie, I think I can embrace the onset of fall. Maybe.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Read Full Post »

I need to get a hold of this book.

It’s called “The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One” by Margaret Lobenstine. It’s designed for people who just seem to have too many interests to focus. That points to me to a tee. I love writing. I love astronomy. I love history. I love political science and philosophy. I love science fiction. I love movies and TV. I’m interested in just about everything and if I’ve never explored the subject before, I find I can get intrigued about it quite easily.

If I ever do get a copy, I’ll be sure to write a review about it and post it here.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Read Full Post »

Do Something This Weekend

Today is Friday, which means just about everyone who is employed in a 9-to-5 job is looking forward to the weekend. Of course, this includes me but not just because I’m off but also because it’s my birthday. Yes, amazing. Every year I’m surprised about how old I’ve gotten. But I digress.

Do something original this weekend. It doesn’t have to be outrageous, but pick something that you had always wanted to do but somehow never gotten around to it. Start that novel you’ve been meaning to write. Plan a trip. Ask out that someone you’ve been dreaming about. If its been awhile since you’ve seen a movie, go to the theater. Or hang out in a park. Start flying lessons. Take a martial arts class. Whatever.

Do something different for a change. It will give you a different perspective.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Read Full Post »