Tips on tipping your perspective sideways

Ever feel like you are in a routine and can't break out of it?

Grab your pickaxe! Here are a few ways to shake up your day:

1. Move your desk or bed around. See things from a different angle.
2. Take pictures of strange things on your digital camera. Patterns on a table, blades of grass, the sky, your backyard gate, the kids' favorite toys. It makes you unfocus on the big stuff and see the little things for what they are.
3. Write down one thing that you really appreciate. Repeat daily. Share with someone. Or not. Your choice.
4. Pick a "word of the day" and find out what it means. Make it something funny, like platypus, as a bonus.
5. De-clutter a closet, and revel in found objects like a missing bag of M&Ms. Run around showing people like it was a long-lost treasure. Found objects are cool.
6. Try a new flavor of tea or coffee and really savor the flavor. Smell it and try to remember it for another day.
7. Go outside and take a few deep cleansing breaths. Think about someone who can't do this simple task as easily as you can. Do it once more, for that person.
8. Say a simple prayer and imagine a greater being guiding you through the day, allowing you to make a mistake and putting a gentle hand on your shoulder when you need it. (Or a not-so-gentle kick in the butt if you need that instead.)
9. Take a moment at the end of the day to enjoy a snuggle with a dog, spouse/partner, kid, warm blanket, bowl of warm soup. You've earned it.
10. Before you sleep, take a breath and scan your body. Appreciate any positive changes, and accept your aches and idiosyncracies for what they are... a sign you are alive and well and living with gratitude.



Panda Ponderings: suggestions on how to grow the population of pandas

I think pandas are the most fascinating creatures on earth. More than whales. More than the elusive giant squid. More than a group of guys out on a Friday night looking for hook-ups. I figure if pandas are a critically endangered species, that could possibly be God's way of saying, "Hey... I screwed up. I've done it before, look at the platypus. No re-do on this one... the panda's pretty much a goner."

Why? It's not because pandas have entered the world of professional panda wrestling. It's because other than poaching, they just can't... um... do the wild thing. 

Apparently, and it's highly documented on the Internet, pandas are cute even after last call but are not so good at the actual "hooking up" part. A bamboo dinner by candlelight, a bit of nuzzling, and a roll in the shrubbery, but that's about it for most panda couples. Breeding programs actually use (cover the kids' eyes RIGHT NOW) panda porn and Viagra to seal the deal, but it's not easy. I think it's simply a case of picky pandas, like some friends of mine. I can picture a panda saying, "Uh UH. No way. Not interested. I'd rather go back to China and chase down my own bamboo than get with HER. She's got mascara circles around her eyes and stinky, dirty feet. NOPE. Not gonna happen..." You get the idea.

Here's my suggested breeding program. Make two compatible pandas sit down with their mother-in-laws separately, groomed neatly and with a sprig of fresh bamboo as a peace offering. [Tell the MILs in advance that it's either now or never... explain the whole critically endangered thing.] Give the MILs fresh bamboo as a bribe. The pandas will be pleasantly surprised at the MILs sweet smile and gifts, and reluctantly agree to give the thing with Ming Ming another try because heck, they are both not as bad as his panda friends told him last night and it could get worse. He'll think about his friend Soon-Yee and his MIL... she beat him with a shovel...

We all know that with a little bribery and educated third-party intervention, things will work out and the panda population will get back to the point where millions of Chinese can poach them again and sell their pelts on handbags on Canal Street for $99.

It's God's little way of keeping the universe AND the economy in balance, and fashionistas in something new and controversially fresh each season.


Teddy Kennedy: Family. Grace. Grit.

Big news here in Beantown: Senator Ted Kennedy, an icon here in Massachusetts, suffered from a seizure this week that turned out to be an inoperable malignant brain tumor. He's going home today, but the buzz around the Bay State is palpable. The coffee shops and school bus stops are filled with "I met Teddy once..." stories, sprinkled with a healthy dollop of reminiscing about Ted's committment to his family, to the Cape Cod Seashore, to the Bay State, and to lower/middle class families everywhere, as well as the labor party and blue collar workers who love him (warning: my Democratic roots are showing).

Teddy is a great reminder that even in politics, no human is perfect (Camelot is one of the great mythical legends). But even flawed and human, this imperfect person made a difference using politics as his platform. Ted's charisma, strength and fierce loyalty are like nothing we've seen... even Hilary appeared on TV last night singing his praises even though Ted endorsed Obama back before the Hollywood A-listers knew how to spell his name.

Hang in there, buddy. If anyone can fight a brain tumor, it's you with the backing of your family, friends, and constituents.
He epitomizes my favorite quote by Mother Teresa:
"We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."


T-shirts: the fabric of our pop culture

I love retro, funny, cool t-shirts and "flair" pins on Facebook. They are like mini trend spotters, pinpointing what people are talking and laughing about around the water cooler at work or at happy hour, and slapping it on something affordable.

T-shirts - especially funky retro looking ones - have been a favorite of mine since high school. The funnier and more clever, the better. They instantly communicate, "Hey! I've got a sense of humor! Do you? Cool! Tell me why you get this joke, and I'll buy you a candy bar!" And that, my friends, is how the seeds of friendship can be sown... as simply as through the fabric of a great t-shirt.

Here's a website called Snorg Tees that has some of the funniest ones I've seen in a long time. Graduation gift? Father's Day present for a hipster dad? Gift for yourself for still going to the gym after the New Year's honeymoon is over? Whatever. Make yourself smile for less than twenty bucks.