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Where Do Ideas Come From?

Remember how I told you that I had four thoughts that came out of reading Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays? You can go backwards to the first thought or second thought, even if you haven’t read the book because these thoughts aren’t tied to the text but rather float above the page. In other words, reading these posts will not ruin the book, and at the same time, they’re not (I think) confusing.

This is the third thought.

And it’s actually about thoughts.  Like where thoughts come from.

Sometimes the most amazing idea pops into your head, and you while you’re happy that you had it, it brings with it a certain frustration: why can’t you conjure these great ideas whenever you want (or need) to have one?  Or am I the only one who thinks that?

I think that a lot: with book ideas, with blog post ideas, with solutions to problems.  I feel great in the moment — Yes!  I have something to write about! — but I also feel massively frustrated that those ideas don’t occur to me when I need them.  When I force them.  When I am staring at the screen, feeling the clock ticking.

Mastai tackles this idea in Chapter 75 (all the chapters are very short — only two or three pages sometimes) on page 179,

“Okay,” she says, “but what if every creative idea that someone has is unconsciously borrowed from that person’s experiences in another reality? Maybe all ideas are plagiarized without us knowing it, because they come to us through some cryptic and unprovable reality slippage?”

“Does that mean, like, the version of you that had the idea in the other reality also stole it from another version of you in yet another reality?” I say.

“I don’t know,” she says, “maybe we can only access a limited number of, like, adjacent realities and we’re constantly shoplifting ideas from different versions of our world and mistaking them for our own insights.”

So when you have an idea, you are borrowing it from another version of yourself that exists in another reality.  Except that there is no idea Eve, a version of you that sparks the original idea.  Instead, each version borrows what is commonplace to another version but is mind-blowing in your own reality.  So perhaps MicroblogMonday was mind-blowing (okay, it’s not mind-blowing, but you get the point) in this reality, but I borrowed it from a version of myself in another reality where there is only microblogging, therefore it’s on the same level as cereal or umbrellas — just a thing that we take for granted without considering it too hard.

Your thoughts?

October 3, 2017   3 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 162: Lagom

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.


I learned a new term this week.  It was presented as 2018’s “hygge,” though once I Googled it, I saw that it was also 2017’s “hygge.”  That feels like a lot of work for a single word.

Lagom is Swedish, and (based on what I’m reading) it roughly translates as “just enough.”  The Guardian summarizes the sentiment and compares it to hygge:

Both imply a distaste for extravagance and flashiness, but hygge is active in a way that lagom is not. Hygge is about doing that little bit extra to create a special atmosphere. Lagom, although always positive, is almost the opposite. It’s about not doing what is unnecessary or superfluous, focusing on what is absolutely essential, knowing when to stop.

Which sounds pretty damn good to me.  There are times when fussy is totally worth it; go all out and enjoy the final product.  But too many times we feel like we should strive for fussy when we know that pared down is more our style.  (Or, more attainable.  Can you tell that I don’t lead a very Instagrammable life?)

And yet when it comes to personality, I’m not sure it would work for me.  As much as I am austere when it comes to tangible things, I feel pretty passionate about ideas.  The author continues:

Being lagom also means being moderate in personality, views, and politics. When Swedish children are told skratta lagom, or teenagers are told to have lagom kul, it doesn’t mean “have a bit of a laugh”, or “have a bit of fun”, it means “don’t laugh too much”, or “don’t go over the top”.

You can’t take a word out of a culture.  Or you can try, but it will forever be like wearing someone else’s shoes; they may be your size, but they’re molded to someone else’s feet.

What do you think about the idea of lagom?


Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored post.

1. Breaking the Pattern! #Kheer Writes 8. Failing at Haiku 15. Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal)
2. Why Do Women Do This? | Naba 9. Isabelle 16. Virg� nia
3. Must Have Books for Toddlers | Tina 10. Different Shores 17. Chandra Lynn (Pics and Posts)
4. Unpregnant Chicken 11. Shilpa 18. Impatiently Infertile
5. Cristy 12. Empty Arms, Broken Heart 19. Middle Girl
6. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled) 13. geochick 20. Mali (No Kidding)
7. Laughing IS Conceivable 14. Journeywoman

October 2, 2017   17 Comments

Baby Does Not Equal Sex

When someone tells me that there is a meeting, I show up for the meeting, which is how I found myself in a school library with two other parents learning about the sex education program at the school.

There are probably many good, individual reasons why people didn’t attend, but collectively, it was a pretty pathetic showing.  3 out of 300?  1% of the parents?


All week I joked about how I had to attend a meeting and learn about sex, and I cannot tell you how many people responded seriously, pointing out that of course I knew about sex because we had two children.  In their mind, sex may not always produce a baby, but babies are always produced through sex.  It meant that I spent a better portion of the week educating people on fertility treatments.

I can’t say they were awkward conversations because the other person usually responded, “Oh!  I didn’t think about that.”  But it was just eye opening that regardless of how much the media covers the topic, regardless of how often it appears in People magazine or the New York Times, people still make the assumption that children come from sex.

October 1, 2017   14 Comments

662nd Friday Blog Roundup

My sister bought me guinea pig socks.  Do you know how amazing it is to go to the mailbox to get the mail and see a lumpy package inside?  And then open strange package and find a pair of socks featuring guinea pigs thinking about carrots?

It made my whole week.

guinea pig socks

ChickieNob instantly wanted them for herself, but HANDS OFF.  I will share t-shirt collection.  I will share my high heels.  But I will not share my guinea pig socks.

They make me so happy.


Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.


And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

No Kidding in NZ has a post about being an aunt.  I love this post because it’s nuanced; looking at the pros and cons of parenthood or not as well as the fact that just as you cannot control whether or not parenthood happens, you also can’t control the child that ends up in your life.  I love this: “But there are also complicated and confused emotions, knowing that I wouldn’t wish my sister’s concerns on anyone, and feeling relief that I am not the one primarily bearing that burden, but also knowing that there is great joy in her role as well as great fear and sadness, and that I would have willingly born these myself, if I had had the chance.”  It’s a gorgeous post — go read the whole thing.

Res Cogitatae has a post about the worth of changing things when life is working for some but not for all.  She asks: “If everyone else in your family is happy, is it selfish to want to change things just because you aren’t?”  The comments are good, too.  Go join the discussion.

Lastly, Family Rocks has a post about how a kind gesture also brought out feelings of shame and a sense of “less than.”  It is a post about doing a lot, all with a chorus of internal voices telling you their opinion, too.  It’s a post that will both feel familiar and also contains a deeper layer once the surface is peeled away to explain what life is like when you find yourself living a Plan B you never imagined.

The roundup to the Roundup: My sister got me guinea pig socks.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between September 22nd and 29th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

September 29, 2017   5 Comments

Capturing Vacation

In the middle of the Mitzvahmoon, I walked down to the water with my phone and filmed the waves for a minute.  I thought I would put it on a loop and then upload a half hour version to Youtube so I could let it run while I worked once we were back home.  Feel like I’m at the beach.  But then I got home and didn’t have time to actually complete the task.  So much for bringing the vacation home.

The New York Times had an article about the optimal length of a vacation, and research puts it at eight days.  I mean, you can go beyond eight days, but the average person receives most of the benefits in the first eight days and loses them within one day back at work.  One day.  That’s all you get.

I actually read the article because of the Mitzvahmoon video: this idea that we can remember and revisit the vacation through photos when we get home.  It’s sort of true in my experience — ChickieNob and I love to sit with albums, remembering trips, and I carry about a dozen pictures of Chincoteague on my phone and look at them when I’m feeling stressed.  But this thought jumped out at me from the piece:

My patient had no pictures or videos to show me, just a sharp and indelible memory that e carried with him. And that I suspect is key to a great and long-lasting vacation: He allowed himself to be open to the unforeseen and immersed in his experience … It made me wonder whether in the attempt to record and preserve our pleasure, we become observers of our experience rather than full participants in it.

“Preserve our pleasure” — I love that because why else would I point my camera at a random stretch of ocean?  It’s to try to capture the wonder we felt staring at the water while it exploded into tumultuous waves due to a hurricane still several days away and the relaxation it brought to stare at sea foam instead of a computer screen for a few hours.

At the same time, it wasn’t a profound enough thought that I’d ever leave my camera at home because I love looking at the pictures when I get home.  But it was definitely food for thought.  When am I taking a picture I’ll use in the future, and when am I taking a picture just because I think I should take a picture?

Do you look at your vacation photos enough to make them worth taking?

September 27, 2017   7 Comments

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