Sunday, February 14, 2010


Our minds see and hear what our past experience has trained us to expect. Naturally, there are blanks in each individual experience, which is tied to our place of birth, family, schooling and the myriad of people who have influenced us in large or small ways. The mailman and the family dentist have caused us to think a certain way about all mailmen and dentists. My mailman and my dentist (each very competent at his job) don't represent all mailmen and dentists in the world; they're individuals. Generalizations about a group may contain accuracies, but they don't allow for individuality. If we look into the proverbial mirror, we may notice blanks in our experience, or blind spots, which can hinder us from seeing another person's point of view.

Blind spots often manifest as anger, jealousy, resentment, fear of the unknown. They are why we feel threatened by someone voicing an opposing opinion, or even by the person in the next car trying to merge into traffic in front of us. Awareness of these blind spots is a good place to start. That old adage "you get what you give" hints that we should put aside the ego to look, listen, and really connect with those around us. That human connection, filling in the blanks, the ability to feel empathy or sympathy for our fellow humans, makes us better neighbors, partners, parents and people. That reflection in the mirror is you . . . and every connection you make.

William M. Thackeray: Quotes: Reflection
"The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face."

The Value of Intelligent Packaging

Packaging is a hot topic. Particularly when a new fancy cell phone or game platform is launched, or any computer product, there's a lot of buzz about packaging and how difficult the newer rigid plastics are to open or how over-packaged these (and other) items may or may not be. And obviously, with the green, eco, earth-friendly, environmental trend, packaging has been vilified as an unnecessary and wasteful landfill-clogger.

The movement toward economy in packaging is healthy, no doubt. The mantra reduce-reuse-recycle makes sense. The companies involved with the design and manufacture of packaging are hyper-aware of the rumbling by consumers. The fact remains, though, packaging itself is extremely valuable. The urge to label all packaging as bad is simply short-sighted.

With great packaging, the eggs you enjoy for breakfast remain whole and fresh until you cook them; the allergy medicine you keep in your desk is safe and retains its efficacy for when you need it most. No doubt about it: the safety and freshness of all the foods and medicines we ingest are due to proper packaging. In fact, the value of all products in the retail marketplace is greatly affected by packaging. Outside the retail realm there is smart packaging that keeps the individual components of computers, MRI scanners, space shuttles, airplanes and automobiles safe and ready for assembly, long before you see the final product.

Smart packaging is key, ideally beginning in the design stage of the product being packaged, through manufacturing, storage, shipment and use, so that entire process is focused on using the exact quantity and quality of materials required to protect the safety and functionality of the product. If the TV and each of its individual components have been properly packaged all the way from factory to consumer, the TV will function longer, meaning it will stay out of the landfill or recycle stream longer.

Intelligent packaging is being developed all over the world by companies and individuals who care about getting it right. It's not just about carbon footprint or monetary value. It's a delicate balance to reduce packaging materials, be aware of safety both within the manufacturing plant and for the consumer, ensure the whole life of the product being packaged, and maintain fiscal responsibility.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I just had a lovely phone conversation with West Coast Twitter connection Maia Berens. You might know her as @LifeCoachMaia. We connected accidentally, as people often do in the world of social media, and felt a certain kinship over the course of several months, so decided a chat on the phone was in order. We talked about our lives: husbands, kids, various jobs, and life philosophies. Part of the conversation had to do with the philosophy of being in the moment, how the challenges of life force us (or allow us) each to be a work in progress. We agreed that it's crucial to relish the details as we go about the process of life.

After Maia said goodbye and I returned to the sink to finish washing the dinner dishes, I recalled having heard that 20th century painter Norman Rockwell was eternally reluctant to let go of his artworks, even when they would have been deemed complete by anyone else. I'm not sure why that popped into my head, but I think there is a connection here. Even works that were commissioned by patrons of Rockwell with a large paycheck pending at the finish line were unwillingly released. I understand that there may have been issues with depression, and perhaps other things going on, but I'd offer that Mr. Rockwell seemed to truly cherish the process of creating art. At least that's what it looks like to me.

Intentions and goals are worthy and necessary, no doubt, but the road is so much sweeter if you savor the process.

"When I go to farms or little towns, I am always surprised at the discontent I find. And New York, too often, has looked across the sea toward Europe. And all of us who turn our eyes away from what we have are missing life." ~Norman Rockwell

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hibernation Consideration

In grade school we learned that chipmunks, bears, and other warm-blooded animals hibernate in winter, which allows them to survive the colder temperatures. I've been thinking a lot about this: perhaps New Englanders should strongly consider hibernation. A good time to begin may be as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes are washed and put away. We'd snuggle into our caves with full bellies, our body temperatures would drop and we'd survive on our stored body fat until Spring, to awaken just in time for the Boston Marathon. The long-suffering residents of Hopkinton would need to emerge early to get ready for the onslaught of racers, but at least they'd be well-rested. The remainder of us would be content to lie drowsily on the sofa watching the race on TV while replenishing our body fat stores with whatever snack foods we'd squirreled away. Halloween candy?

Perhaps you'd rather a modified hibernation; staying inside, but not sleeping the winter away. Technology lets us perform most of the tasks of living in society without ever leaving our homes. Work, chatting with family and friends, purchasing shoes from Zappos, choosing furniture or groceries for delivery, sending flowers to Mom or paying bills - all can be accomplished online while ensconced in a comfortable chair. We'd save on dry cleaning by dressing in our cozy, machine washable, sweatpants. Wii Fit games and yoga on DVD would help us stay in shape. Unlimited music, movies, Sporcle, and Seinfeld repeats would keep us entertained and if we wanted to learn, online courses for credit or otherwise are plentiful.

There'd be a Facebook fan page for hibernation where we'd compare notes and upload photos from our Blackberries, and #hibernate would trend on Twitter. New iPhone apps would abound.

It's a little late in the season to start now, but let's talk about it after your summer vacation and work out the details for next winter. And if you'd rather not participate, would you please shovel my front walk while I hibernate?

The gorgeous photo of the bear came from:

Native Americans

First People is a child friendly site about Native Americans and members of the First Nations. 1400+ legends, 400+ agreements and treaties, 10,000+ pictures, free clipart, Pueblo pottery, American Indian jewelry, Native American Flutes and more.