A Year of Living Dangerously

Two years ago, my older sister gave us all the same gift at Christmas.  It was a white binder filled with a collection of interesting recipes she had discovered over the past year.  It was titled “The Year of Cooking Dangerously” – culled from what she called a year of  “free time, fresh produce, Top Chef marathons and most important, a reconnection to my family, friends and the art of simple living.” The pages detailed roasted winter vegetables, soups, cookies, and even a brine for turkey.  But along with the recipes were the stories of the meals.  A weekend with friends, a potluck Thanksgiving, a woman who made the best sugar cookies.

My sister’s life that year was one big transition.  She was downsized out of her job as a magazine editor, so she sold her swanky city townhouse and moved up to a mountain town in Colorado with her husband and baby.    She had to navigate a new life of “what now?” and “there’s a moose in my backyard” and “why doesn’t this town have a Target?” (can you imagine? Life without Target?!)

No, I didn't climb Mt. Everest.

So, the “Year of Cooking Dangerously” binder really translated to a “Year of Living Dangerously”.  Being pushed out of your comfort zone and making it up as you go along.  Since then, I’ve equated new situations to “living dangerously”.  And 2011 was really my year of living dangerously.  I didn’t sky dive, climb Everest, find a new religion or shave my head.  (Those things actually may have been easier.  Except the hair thing.  I would look terrible bald)  I left my old job, wanting still to be a TV journalist, but on a schedule that made me and my family happy.

Those first months of not knowing what came next were strange.    Slightly scary, even.  I felt like I was hopping around on one foot. But the freedom fired off parts of my brain that had cobwebs and made me think in different ways.

I met interesting people, connected with old friends and worked on new TV projects I never would have if I didn’t take the leap.  I started writing this blog.  I took up piano again – what used to be a chore as a child, the practice, the “do I have to play the piano?” is now such a treat.  Music really does something for the soul.  I started horseback riding again.  Fell off horse.  Broke pinky.  Stopped horseback riding.  (there’s a reason why it’s called living dangerously)  Celebrated my 10th anniversary, saw my daughter ride a two-wheeler for the first time, taught my son to read, potty trained the toddler and danced at my sister’s wedding. Wow.  What a great year!  Especially the potty training part.

But “Living Dangerously” is not easy.  It’s not always fun.  It can be confusing, frustrating and make you question yourself.  But I’m closer to my gut – I listen to it and trust it.  And I know happiness is just as important as a job title.

My sister is now the editor of another magazine and works on projects from her home where she’s free to corral two children, find new recipes and chase the occasional bear out of her garage.  (like a bad episode of Northern Exposure).  I’m still trying to enjoy the now, instead of the “where am I going to be in 10 years?”  So as I look back at 2011, thank you for walking along with me in my Year of Living Dangerously.  Maybe you’ve had a few moments of living dangerously yourself – congratulations!

And may 2012 be the best yet!

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Kids Shows, “Imagination Movers” and Twitter – Oh My

Kids shows can make me insane. I’m always slightly hostile to any show that my three kids adore, because:

a) the show definitely holds more power over them than I do

b) I have to watch it over and over

c) I actually start to sing along. Curses.

First it was Baby Einstein: Genius. Why didn’t I think of sock puppets dancing disturbingly to classical music?

The Wiggles: Dancing guys wearing primary colors. Still, replacing Greg the yellow Wiggle w/ Sam is like replacing Bo and Luke Duke with Coy and Vance. Shabby substitutes.

Curious George: Monkey who NEVER gets in trouble for doing seriously bad stuff.

Calliou: I know he’s four, but I hate that kid. 2-year-old sister Rosie is more mature than he is.

Sesame Street: Still the gold standard – plus they hilariously spoofed Mad Men and 24. With muppets. Who else can do that?

Thanks, Imagination Movers!

Then, the kids moved into Disney territory. The M-I-C-K-E-Y Mouse Clubhouse became an obsession along with a new show called the Imagination Movers. Four guys – Rich, Scott, Dave and Smitty – who kinda form a rock band but live in a warehouse (with a mouse), solve people’s problems and there’s a cute girl who lives upstairs. I think that’s it in a nutshell. They scored high in my book, because they got the kids engaged in problem solving. And they weren’t 50 years old trying to jump around and sing songs (see The Wiggles). Now, they’re also into Phineas & Ferb (my 2-year-old screeches “They’re making a title sequence!” when the show comes on). And we’re the proud owners of a talking Dr. Doofenschmirtz doll.  Don’t ask.

But there came a day when the Imagination Movers collided with my husband’s world. Jamie is a sports radio guy, and couldn’t resist when he found out one of the Detroit Pistons was going to be ON the Imagination Movers. So he did what any sports nerd – uh, anyone would do. Went to Twitter with the breaking news.

Jamie tweet: “Rip Hamilton is going to be on the Imagination Movers. I don’t know which is worse, Rip on the show, or me knowing that show exists.”

I blasted back something like, “Hopefully he wont be wearing woggle goggles”. Which, is the eyewear of choice for the Movers when they’re solving problems. Or something like that. (Again, I can’t remember what I learned in college, but apparently can list stupid details to kids shows.)

Well, apparently, Scott the Imagination Mover is on Twitter.

I love Scott the Mover

And my husband got an email from STM (Scott the Mover), gently chiding him for ragging on the show. And as an aside, said the Movers were sports fans too, so how could they be so bad?  Jamie, who has no fear of questioning athletes and sharing his sports opinion, now felt bad at taking shots at the IMs. I mean really, it is just a kids show. And a huge reminder that in the age of social media, we’re all only about 6 degrees of separation from Scott the Mover.

Scott (new best friend) and Jamie exchanged a few fun emails and a few weeks later, we got a package in the mail. Three autographed posters for each of the kids from the Movers. They now hang in their bedrooms. A classy move that made me fall in love with the Movers even more, and cut them some slack when one of their songs gets annoyingly stuck in my head.

After this blog goes out, I can only hope that Calliou isn’t on Twitter. I’d hate to make a 4-year-old cry (more than he already does). #whiner