Monday, August 31, 2015

Thumbs up, summer.

The kids go to school this week.  A mid-week start, I guess to ease everyone into it.  So this past weekend, we wrapped up a really nice season with an al fresco lunch in Portsmouth NH, followed by a little browsing in some beachside gift shops and ice cream cones for all.   It was a really nice ending, to a really nice summer.  

A successful summer, to me, is easy.  We made sure there was plenty of time outside, a few trips to the beach, lots of swimming, cooking on the grill, cards at night, friends, adventures, naps.

Time moves fast as we enter another season of our life.  Proud that we did this one right.

Friday, August 28, 2015

10 minutes

Rather than use these dog-days of summer to procrastinate and aimlessly waste time on the internet, I focused on creating a social media post every day for my husband's business.  Although it seems redundant, it is free marketing and a strong social media presence is really important to small businesses and a way to drive client inflow and customer retention.   And really, tackling it for a few minutes a day just isn't that hard.  

Cheers to a productive week.   Looking forward to a friend's "Firepit Friday" tonight.  Summer's end is definitely in the air.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Quick tip on saving money

I've been using the slow August days to catch up a bit on my personal finance.  Simple little tweaks can make a difference.   As I reviewed my annual car insurance bill, I noticed that I'm charged a $5/month surcharge to use my debit card.  By changing to direct withdrawal from my checking account, essentially no different, I eliminate that charge and save myself $60/year.  A series of small changes can make a difference. Check the details of your policies, there may be easy ways to save.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Worlds Collide

I kid you not, if I took a screen shot of my open windows right now one of the tabs would be NPR's critique of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brain and another tab is the article that spurred the book, Is Google Making us Stupid (written in 2008, clearly not "hot off the press").  So when I tuned into an interview with meditation expert, Tara Brach, yesterday on my commute and she referenced the book - it felt a bit serendipitous.  I have this yearning to dig into what the internet, text messaging, social media etc. or more generally, the insane pace at which information is available to us, is doing to our thoughts and psychological health.

Can we relate the rising cases of anxiety to the incessant flow of information?   Are attention deficit problems a result of plugging-in?    I want to explore...

Ironically, the tab to the Atlantic article on Is Google Making us Stupid is still open because quiet simply, I don't have the attention span to finish it!   Even being conscious of it, I find myself clicking out of the article to check email, to read something else, or just generally distract myself with nothing of importance 5-10 times in a single article (!!).  That is really frightening to me.    

I've been using the past two weeks to prepare for September.  More to come, but I'm using September and the "back to school" feeling to kick my productivity into a next gear,  Rather than dive right in, I've used these two weeks to start to flush off the cobwebs and get things in line.  Among other things I hope to achieve, is a less internet addicted self.  I plan to unplug with more time reading books and being outside.  

Monday, August 24, 2015


Over the weekend, the Fenix team gathered for another Summer Boston Open.  This is the big tournament of the year - 54 competitors represented the team where they took 2nd place in a nail biting finish.

Year in and year out, the day never ceases to amaze me.   Hundreds of athletes compete in an incredibly tough sport - 1:1.  Just them vs. their opponent and a gymnasium full of teammates, coaches, rivals and strangers cheering them on.

This one was special, as it was Lucca's first competition.  The son of the coach.  The son of a very competitive coach...   And friends, he killed it.  In BJJ language, he submitted both opponents. That's the equivalent of the best win you can get.  He looked cool, calm, and composed on the mat - though he says he was a wreck - but you'd never know.  I think he has his father's icy veins and composure under pressure - a great trait that I envy.

The smiles from that day are everything.  They capture the joy and the pride that was felt.  Father and son shared that win.  I like to think the smiles represent the year they've spent together.  Like the fight, it hasn't been easy.  The obstacles have been many but the victory is proof that the hardwork and sacrifice pays off.  A lesson transferable in so many ways.   Congratulations Lucca - you earned it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Maria Popova

Devouring everything Maria Popova, the woman behind Brain Pickings, has to say.  A long time fan of the site, but not knowing much about who was behind it - I heard a Q&A she did on Tim Ferriss's podcast.  Her answers were a delightful blend of brilliant insight and simple truth.   I loved her thoughts on personal evolution and betterment.  Her ideas to write for 1 person (yourself).  Her insistence that consistency is the trait that links the greats, irregardless of their genre.

I'm hoping her words serve as inspiration for some new routines in the tireless quest to the best lived life.  

"Life is a continual process of arrival into who we are." - Maria Popova. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What I'm Reading: Triple Package

A few weeks ago I finished The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits predict the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.   The authors used the thesis that superiority in conjunction with inferiority and impulse control can explain the success of minority cultures in the US.   They highlight Cuban Americans, Mormons, American Jews and Iranian Americans and other groups.

The book was filled with interesting statistics.  Jewish people make up less than 1% of the total world population and have won more than 30% of Nobel prizes.  There are 14 Mormon senior executives on the list of Fortune 500 companies, a disproportionately high number and so on.  Rubenfeld and Chua theorize that personal traits, not IQ, genetics, inheritance or other calculable factors determine success.

Interestingly, they also theorize the very things that make "Americans" are in direct contrast to the Triple Package traits thus explaining why groups tend to be less successful as they assimilate into main stream American culture; case in point: the decline of White AngloSaxon Protestants.

The book had an interesting and well-done, socio-scientific thesis, but I never fully "bought into" the Triple Package traits being the answer.   I think there were overlooked factors - how does a person's risk tolerance factor into their success.  What role does necessity play?   The superiority/inferiority seemed like a stretch and while they never disproved it, they were not successful in thoroughly convincing me either.

The book did make a strong case for the continued need of America's pro-immigrant culture. Statistics throughout the book back that many of our most successful Americans are first and second generation immigrants.  I strongly believe that in order to keep America as the one of the greatest nations, we have to continue to support a culture of immigration and be willing to suffer with the negative consequences as an offset to the tremendous positive effects.  

I lean more towards Paul Tough's hypothesis of grit and familiarity with failure as being better indicators of success.  It's undeniable that the culture groups highlighted in the book are statistically outperforming the norm; I just doubt the Triple Package is the reason.