Saturday, July 30, 2011

Entitlement, China and Other Things

You know you're getting on in years when you hear yourself talking about "young people these days" and their sense of entitlement -- as someone who's recruited and worked with people now in their 20s (and to be fair, as with all generalizations, there are some very clear exceptions), I think there's something there.  I once had someone suggest that in a self-review that they should get an exceptional rating because they showed up for work every day (imagine the rating if they had actually worked while they were there!).  There are so many philosophies out there nowadays on child rearing, from Tiger Moms to the coddlers;  here is a great article about trends that a psychologist is seeing in young people today.  Where is the pain of growing up of yore, where you could actually not get a trophy because you sucked at sports and didn't deserve one?  Where is the humility and sense of reality you get from the experience of losing?  Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People is one of the best books I've read on how not to raise a brat.  Unfortunately, my enforcement of its principles is probably weak.

I've recently started reading Mao's Last Dancer, Li Cunxin's autobiography of how we went from a poor (and I mean, poor) peasant boy in rural China to being selected for the prestigious national ballet school.  I'm only halfway through the book (but based on the movie previews I know that love and defection ensue), but what really stood out to me about his description of his childhood was that despite being part of a loving family (without being coddled), and perhaps even because of his poverty, he had his head screwed on right.  Anytime you want to recalibrate your view of hardship, pick up a book about living in Mao's China.  

Of course, this book has nothing to do with child-rearing.  I've just twisted it here to fit my topic of choice.  It does give a good picture into the mindset and environment of communist China, and actually reminds me a bit of some companies at which I've worked.

On the topic of China (yes, this post is going to ramble), I also recently ready Peony in Love: A Novel.  Let me just say that it wasn't at all what I expected, but like all Lisa See's works of historical fiction, was an enjoyable read while painlessly educating you on various events, customs and philosophies (in this case, of dead people).  

Recently I started reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women with my daughters.  I think I last read it when I must have been 8 or 9.  But I was struck each time the mother (who, I strangely didn't recall, they call "Marmee") spoke, at how she addressed my own sense of entitlement.  A lot to learn from that old Mrs. March, there is.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Liquid Breakfasts

I love breakfast.  I love eating, and breakfast is the first thing you get to eat every day.  I love bacon. Eggs.  Butter.  During the week, though, breakfast is a lot less fun.  For me, it's a rushed time, and with my new job I am usually on a call with an international group of people at an ungodly hour.  I need to be able to prepare something that can be done in increments as I hit the mute button periodically, and it needs to be quickly consumed.  But it also needs not to be disgusting.  I'm a snob like that.

So here's a little meal that my friend Patricia suggested.  It's actually surprisingly good.  You'll need (the stuff I took an ugly photo of with my cell phone):
  • Almond milk (about a cup or so...though I don't usually measure so you might have to experiment here); I've tried unflavored as well as vanilla and they both work fine
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Avocado
  • Whey (I don't really know what this is except that Little Miss Muffet ate them with curds in a nursery rhyme) -- but at Patricia's suggestion I got MRM brand 100% all natural whey in Rich Vanilla
  • (optional) Flax oil
All you do is slice up the banana and avocado, add in about a cup of the almond milk, a squirt of flax oil and a scoop of whey, and blend (I have a handy little Braun hand blender that makes this easy).  You can add in ice if you want it to be more smoothie-like, but I'm happy with it so long as everything else is cold.  The whey protein makes it filling -- unlike with smoothies, this one tides me over til lunch. There you have it -- healthy liquid breakfast!