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Columbus Day’s many meanings

October 10, 2016

My husband and I laughed last October when we learned that our daughter, who was living outside Madrid, would also be having a holiday on Columbus Day. It had not occurred to our rather ethnocentric selves that the country who launched the infamous explorer would take the occasion to mark this anniversary, which we Americans consider a birthday of sorts. Perhaps the clue should be in noticing that Americans include the enormous land mass that runs nearly pole to pole and includes dozens of countries. In fact, a number of countries mark this occasion with varying emphases.

In Spain it is called Hispanic Day, or National Day. Until 1987, it was in reference to Spain’s connection with countries of Hispanic origin. Today it is marked with a flag raising ceremony and military parade. This was to accommodate the Conservatives, who wanted to emphasize heritage and the Republicans, who wanted to highlight democracy. The Bahamas, where it was generally believed that Columbus first made contact, entitle their holiday Discovery Day, while Costa Rica celebrates Day of the Cultures.

We begin to encounter more controversy as we move to other countries. Argentina calls it Day of Race, with some trying to rename as Respect for Cultural Diversity. In Chile and Mexico, it is called the Day of Indigenous Resistance, more pointedly accentuating the fact that while the “discovery” of the Americas brought contact and exchange with Europe, it also brought tremendous conquest, colonization and suffering for many of the indigenous peoples, from which many have yet to recover. In Bolivia, the day is called pointedly, Day of Mourning for the Misery, Diseases and Hunger Brought by the European Invasion of America. Diseases were in fact the major cause of genocide because the indigenous people were not immune to what was carried in. Different countries have waged campaigns to change the name of the holiday to varying success.

Columbus could not have known what was to follow his urge to cross the vast sea to the west. Said he, “For the voyage to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.” Although he thought it was China, it was established as a distinct land mass the year after his death. Columbus brought foods, horses and tyranny along with diseases to the New World, a mixed bag by anyone’s count.

Nothing is all forward motion. There are prices to be paid with any effort to stretch boundaries and push beyond the status quo. I like to think of Columbus Day as a tribute to the notion that we can look beyond where we are. It is always a gain to consider what we can learn from outside the box, because from there we are afforded an expanded view of what rests within. To do so responsibly, it is important to be aware of where we tread, and what the impact of our exploration might be. So many natural parks demand that we leave no trace, and take out what we bring in.

I think of the prime directive of the Star Trek explorers not to change the natural order of wherever they encounter. While this is not possible one hundred percent, it does give shape to the exchange, while maintaining respect for the beings they meet. I hope to hold this kind of vision while I push my own boundaries, and appreciate that Christopher Columbus played a major role in shining a light on these Americas, where I have to privilege to reside.

A new way to view Pinktober

October 7, 2016

I recently commented on an online status of an artist friend who stated that she had been accepted to participate on Top Chef. I was startled and surprised, but given her immense talent as an artist thought it completely plausible that she might have hidden talents as well, and commented this.

Hours later she sent me a private message that since I remarked on her status, she was obliged to tell me that she was not, in fact, accepted to Top Chef, nor did she have a squirrel in her car (something I missed in my excitement about Top Chef participation). Her posting was part of a Breast Cancer Awareness “game.” Anyone who comments is invited/encouraged to continue the hoax and post one of ten untruths including the above two, plus others as provocative as #6 “I’ve decided to stop wearing underwear,” or #10 “I’m getting a pet monkey.” They are all unlikely but to varying degrees in the realm of possibility.

I was puzzled and a little miffed at what I perceived to be a lack of connection to breast cancer. The ten semi-outrageous declarations range from delightful to mildly jolting and none carry the weight or depth of a cancer diagnosis. Certainly it would be cruel and in very poor taste to post untruthfully that someone was diagnosed with any disease, so I suppose this game was one way to evoke the element of surprise. It catches our attention, and we are willing to engage in discourse with someone who asks “#3 How do you get rid of foot fungus?” What then are we willing to discuss when we learn that someone we hold dear has been diagnosed with a serious disease?

Having been on the receiving end of the real thing, I know that there is no complete preparation for such news. No matter the process with ultrasounds or biopsies, there is not a way to stop the stomach dropping news to hear the word cancer in connection with your health. Although life goes into a surreal time warp, protracting and distorting the experience while waiting for next steps, it does in fact march on resolutely, leaving a bevy of feelings in its wake.

Now also learning about people’s responses to breast cancer through my psychotherapy practice, I know that people work through the shock and make decisions about treatment which are often not straight forward or simple. There can be similarities in diagnosis, but not in personal circumstances, or people can be of similar age and proximity to health care, but have radically different severity or type of disease. In addition, when someone has a lumpectomy and radiation, typically the least amount of treatment, she is still dealing with the psychological impact of working through an otherwise deadly disease and a near miss can provoke thoughts about one’s mortality, wishes for life, order of priorities.

A potential gain of the game is the community that Facebook can generate. In the face of upsetting news, the power of the group cannot be underestimated, but one must be ready, and in a position to receive the focus and attention.

If the Facebook “game” helps people to have more compassion for receiving unanticipated news, then the net result is positive, offsetting the confusion and clarification that inevitably ensue.Without knowledge of where the game was initiated or by whom, it is impossible to completely understand the intent. I will assume the head scratching that results is meant to help us all to expect the unexpected. At least they are not doing it in the omnipresent pink that also characterizes this month.

Another day in paradise

If you had told me a month ago that I would dump my beloved WRX in a hot minute, I would have told you that you were crazy. With a mere 125,000 miles, my Subaru was good for another three to four years at least.

Except on my way to work three weeks ago the clutch started shuddering and then squealing and then spouting smoke as I pulled into the service station near my office. “Your clutch is almost certainly gone,” was Sam’s proclamation. I eyed the plaque on his wall which declared “Another Day in Paradise,” a phrase I heard him utter every time I walked past.

Two hours later he called. “Your transmission is also shot. I’m very sorry.” He wouldn’t recommend installing a new one plus the clutch. While I absorbed this he called back, having located a used transmission with only 40,000 miles. Relieved, I picked it up a few thousand dollars and two days later.

It was the shrill whistling on my way home that sounded the first alert. Increasing in volume and pitch as I drove, my heart sank in reverse proportion. After driving it for a week to make sure it wasn’t something that would just go away, I determined that at sixty five miles an hour, the whine was too high to make out. So if I just flew around town I was all set. Sam could exchange it for another used one, but it was a less than subtle nudge to replace my drive.

I decided to buy new since the 25,000 miles the previous WRX owner drove had clearly been the downfall of my otherwise happy vehicle. Thus began the befuddling and vital sifting of the matrix of variables involved in buying a new car, the second largest purchase most people will make in a lifetime. I listed my priorities: new, manual transmission, all wheel drive, responsive (read zippy) engine, good looks and reasonable price. I could get everything I wanted if willing to spend forty grand or more.

At the Nissan dealer I waited for my salesperson to get back to me with numbers on trade in value for my car and incentives on a new one. A woman roughly my age and I trolled for snacks at 6:30 pm on Labor Day Monday. “What are you driving now?” she asked. I pointed to my sporty blue car. “You want a manual transmission?” she looked as if I had just handed her a spider in a jar. “What color are you looking at now?” I had been thinking Cayenne Red, and she blurted out, “I would be bored with that in three months!” And what color was she considering? “Black. In and out.” “I would be bored with that in three months!”I exclaimed and we both laughed. She was deciding between a Mercedes which she said would stretch her budget every month or a Pathfinder which would be easy to do. We all need to listen to our own masters. There’s no imperative. Just the balancing of what’s most important with what’s possible.

I wasn’t willing to strap myself for any car. We ended up side by side negotiating with our sales people. I hope she gets the deal of her dreams, including the 0% financing. I would need to sleep on the generous trade in, plus $500 incentive for my base model Juke with its paddle shifters and installed moonroof.

Monday evening I’ll kiss my WRX goodbye and drive away smiling in my Bordeaux Black (shines eggplant color in the sun) Juke. Another Day in Paradise.

A nod to the nap

August 31, 2016

Summer is THE time to hone one’s skill in the Department of Nap. I have never been prone to this practical and invaluable skill, and I am trying to make some headway into this seemingly unbreachable fortress.

There is no doubt about the restorative properties of the Nap. It can mean the difference between a struggle through the evening and being able to greet it cheerfully. My husband has the capacity to snooze on demand, and while this may come with its own downsides, I wish to be able to call it up when the situation warrants, without fear of incoherence and disorientation upon awakening. Even in college when I would regularly play ping pong until 2 a.m., and then trundle out of bed for an 8 a.m. class, I could not dally in Dozeland during the day.

Lately, I have found that Nap comes looking for me the day after I have been up in the middle of the night for some time. I have tried to infer some correlation between what I have poured down my gullet and any subsequent wakefulness, and have eliminated caffeine, meat and most dairy from my feed. Add in a couple hours biking and swimming and this typically ensures a pleasant forty winks, as long as it is also cool in the bedroom. My primary care physician describes sleep as becoming more fragile as we move through the life cycle. I like this description, as it suits so well. If I have set the stage properly, I generally enjoy my six-seven hours of z’s even with brief forays to pee if I surface. I have also learned not to sweat the times when I’m wakeful from 1-3 a.m., but instead try to enjoy the quiet, and get in some needed reading that I have missed from the day.

I’m not taking this lying down. I realized that this occasional night wakefulness has actually paved the way for my budding expertise in the area of the Nap. Interrupted night’s slumber, plus full workday or workout and voilà! We’re talking droopy, unplugged and battery reset kind of siesta. No lightweight catnap. Nothing to snort (or snore) about.

Philip Roth advises napping to be embraced so completely that one changes to pajamas and snuggles beneath the blankets to more fully take advantage of this delicious passage. I worry that this extreme measure will catapult me into a full on two hour bout of unconsciousness which will then TOTALLY wreck any hope of shut eye at night.

So I’m starting small. During my week on Cape Cod, after a walk through the dunes and a late lunch, I managed not once, not twice, but three times to have a tėte à tėte with the sandman while parked on a sun saturated lawn chair overlooking the ocean. Each time thirty lovely minutes elapsed before I could utter chocolate fro-yo and I found myself only slightly discombobulated and full of energy for voicing my opinion about dinner options. How soon, what to make, what kind of music to accompany.

Ah, Nap. You’re within my grasp. Soon it will not be just during movies that you ask me to visit. Soon it will be my choice to ask for your elixir, your rejuvenating brain massage. If logs really do sleep well, I’m all for emulating them. Rest easy, Nap. I’m coming for you.

The Importance of tears

A client once told me that his mother intentionally kept him from attending his grandfather’s funeral because she didn’t want him to see her cry. At eleven years of age, he felt old enough to be a part of this ritual, and certainly had feelings about it himself. The message of shame around the tears further complicated the expression of grief for the child. Was it okay for him to cry? What would his mother think? Did he need to protect her from his own sadness? When are tears okay?

Another client mentioned that in her very large family that she was the only one who shed tears upon learning of her very young niece’s death. In over thirty years of psychotherapeutic practice, I have had the privilege to bear witness to many types of reactions to numerous events. I understand the person who is numb and does not cry, or for whom an injury was so sustained and delivered by someone who s/he had thought was trustworthy, that the best defense was to create a sturdy (albeit brittle) crust. But I see it as my responsibility to encourage conversation when someone says, “I wanted to tell ___ about my illness, or that a relative had died etc, but I was afraid s/he would cry.”

In these types of instances, tears are not a conversation stopper but merely an expression of emotion. They are part of a dialogue. I have yet to see someone fill a room with tears, run out of tissues, or fell another human with excess salt. People do not crumble because of tears, so the need for protection around them is (unwittingly) fabricated, a fear but not a reality of what will happen. Yes, someone delivering difficult news may then have a response to how the receiver reacts. That is part of our lives that are laced with sadness, however frequent or infrequent. Avoiding it all together means that it rumbles around unexpressed, seeking outlet at often unexpected and inopportune times.

In the wake of the atrocities of the past weeks in our country tears are an appropriate response. Even when not our child or close relative, it is not a far stretch to feel the force of violent unexpected death so close at hand. The intense secondary trauma needs voice lest it be stifled and turn rancid inside.

It was not until I learned about the death of my friend’s beloved Golden Retriever that my own tears were unleashed, also bringing forth the anguish about the loss of human life. The protests are evidence that people feel strongly enough to speak out for those who cannot. So, too, tears demonstrate our very human connection to what we have experienced. It is one way that we show the depth of importance, the truth of meaning. At a time when people are hurting, seeking the comfort of contact with another, we don’t want to let a little bit of water to get in the way.

Tears do not need to manipulate, detour, influence, hijack or otherwise derail any discourse between people. They are merely a punctuation, evidence of the power of vulnerability and a marker of human interaction. They can act as a bridge between us; everyone understands the pain of tragedy. Let us be willing to accept the message of tears without adding the judgement about them which serves only to separate those in need from those who can learn from and be present with them.

Mammoth impact of documentary about elephants

June 29, 2016

One would have to be made of stone to not be moved by Sangita Iyer’s award-winning documentary, Gods in Shackles, about the torture of elephants in temple rituals in India.

The movie opens with a scene shot during the largest festival of the year, in an immense square teeming with people and a line of elephants on either end. The elephants are bedecked in glittering color down their long foreheads and onto their trunks, and ridden by men who use sticks with barbed ends to keep them in line. Their beauty and height above the crowds make them a dramatic symbol and dazzling border to the intensity of the thirty-six hour continuous activity. I suppose it could be easy to forget that they are not merely decorations, and not an imperative part of this celebration.

Iyer, Toronto based journalist and documentary film maker, brings our attention to the fact that they are sentient and particularly sensitive beings, and this is being ignored in their treatment and use in ceremony. She points out their painfully raw ankles where the shackles rub them for hours on end, and reminds us that their feet, which are built for the softness of the grasslands, are tormented by hot pavement and unrelenting sun. Their feet are also made for many hours of movement a day, in order to find feed for their enormous frames. Standing still for hours at a stretch is in itself an excruciatingly painful practice.

Perhaps most frightening are the firecracker-like noises which punctuate the festival. The majestic elephants, with extremely keen hearing, are subject to these blasts without a way to react or move in response. What results when they do bolt or move suddenly out of fear and frustration is injury (or death) to nearby people or the elephants themselves. These avoidable tragedies are part of what drives Sangita forward in her quest to end this practice.

I sit at the world debut screening at Elephant Walk Restaurant in Cambridge, and know I am among like minds. There are PETA representatives, and people who are already sympathetic to the plight of these magnificent creatures. Many of us are nervous about watching the movie. I could not watch Lassie or Flipper as a child; even with predictably positive outcomes, I could not bear any potential (or imagined) suffering that might befall these stage animals. Now we are watching multiple ways in which these real life gentle giants are mistreated without thought.

I am prepared to avert my sightline during very graphic shots of wounds inflicted not only to the ankles, but ears and eyes as well. But the places that truly take my breath away are the scenes where Sangita herself is meeting the elephants, helping to bathe them and embracing them with the kind of love one sees between parent and child. Her joy is radiant and jumps off the screen – it is this passion which is infectious, and matched by her professionalism in documenting the fate of the elephants.

The event is also a fundraiser to help get the multiple award-garnering film to the seven cities where it will screen in India, and Kerala, Iyer’s home province. Although Iyer wants it distributed yesterday, she is aware that the process of moving it forward is circuitous and that each gradual step counts toward her goal of liberating the elephants and restoring them to the wild where they help maintain the delicate balance in the ecosystem.

It is a rare privilege to support this intensely focussed, humane, and inspired movement to return these beautiful animals to the place where their spirits soar. Visit www.godsinshackles.com

Blown away by the Manta Ray

June 8, 2016

Off the coast of the big island of Hawaii, we don wet suits, snorkels and masks and splash into the salty Pacific. As dusk approaches we make our way the short distance from the chartered boat to the raft, grabbing the red handles that ring the structure in order to float with legs stretched out.

Within minutes a twelve foot Manta Ray swims into view not four feet away, its wings flapping fluidly as it banks left and swims off. “Argglg!” I exclaim through my snorkel. Even though we are expecting them, the appearance out of the depths is still startling, as is their size of up to sixteen feet from wing tip to wing tip. Within several minutes there is one after another looping up in front of us, gigantic mouths wide open and gills spread to filter and catch as many plankton as possible. We see their gray and sometimes spotted top and white belly as they make several circuits in a row and I am in awe of the acrobatic and graceful arc that they carve as they repeat this choreography. My eyes grow wide and I am wonderstruck at their size, elegance and utter grace. They come within inches of our outstretched bodies, and several times I’m certain that one of their wings will brush against me.

Suddenly a shout pierces the air. “SH*T! OH SH*T!” It is the teenager from the family of five. “MOM, IT’S SO HUGE!” he bellows at the top of his lungs. At first I am annoyed, worried that his screaming will scare the Mantas. It quickly becomes evident that this is not the case as more of these enormous creatures make their way to the lights from the raft, which attracted the plankton. The boy cannot contain himself. Any veneer of teenage cool has vanished as he continues at volume ten: “MOM, IT’S SO CLOSE. THEY’RE AMAZING. IT’S LIKE A BALLERINA DANCE. SH*T!” Now it is pee-your-pants funny. And the joy that is unselfconsciously bubbling up from him is contagious.

His voice booms utter astonishment mixed with a touch of fear, as he is completely overcome with these toothless and stinger-free giants. I cannot even fathom how he can keep his mask underwater while his mouth is above water to narrate his flabbergasted observations. Anything I try to say comes out in a garbled mush. My husband, who is immediately to my right does not even hear him at all, we find out later. My 26 year old daughter is in between the kid and me and is as tickled as I am.

Even as we are reverent, and silently witnessing the majesty of the moment, there is a part of all of us that feels exactly like this fifteen year old. We all want to scream and shout and wiggle all around and it is just our desire to interfere as little as possible (and our snorkels) that help us to remain silent. For every moment that I am speechless, he is broadcasting the magic with his natural megaphone.” SH*T! OH MY GOD! IT’S A LITTLE SCARY BUT THEY’RE SO COOOOOOL!” Honest and pure, life giving and hilarious, unadulterated WONDER.

I am IMMENSELY GRATEFUL that the unbridled enthusiasm of this awestruck teenager was PRESENT to enhance our reverence of these magnificent animals of the sea. They will remain forever favorites, coupled with the neon lit expletives provided by our young friend.

When the chickens come a-callin’

April 18, 2016

Saturday was a day of unusual relationships. It started with a bridal shower at which I was meeting the bride for the first time, and ended with greeting our daughter’s (newly ex) boyfriend’s family who had flown in from Scotland. But neither of these was the most unusual.

When I arrived home from the shower I was greeted by one leaping dog, who insists on demonstrating her enthusiasm in this way until I get her to settle down. But where was her slightly shyer sister?

I spotted her in the middle of the yard, and she appeared to be munching on something. “Oh NO!” I screamed and went tearing out to the yard at break neck speed. Our seventeen pound peanut of a rescue was pecking at a downed hen. She looked gleeful and I couldn’t spot any chicken parts, but it was clear that the hen was expired, inert, an ex-hen. The break neck speed had evidently been in reference to the hen.

I turned tail and careened inside where my husband was already lacing up his shoes to dispose of the unfortunate clucker. “Nooooooooo,” I wailed, even though I knew it was too late to save this feathered friend. “Nooooo.” Twice before I had caught Livvie with a chicken in her mouth, and had raced outside screaming bloody murder to um, stop the bloody murder. And despite the plethora of flying feathers, both times a hen had waddled away swiftly. Our dogs stay within the bounds of their underground fence, so each time the hen was visiting our (h)enticing, insect ridden yard.

Our sanguine neighbors were unperturbed. “That’s Mother Nature,” and then “That’ll teach her to go in your yard.” I was dubious about the learning curve of the hens and imagined one arriving back at the coop. “Guys, do NOT go over there when the four leggeds are out. Man, they are FAST, and their bite is way worse than their bark. I lost a whole patch of feathers back there. How’s a gal supposed to relax and lay eggs after that?”

I felt terrible that our previously shy and shakingly terrified terrier had hit her stride and was aggressive with the chickens. I know how upset our neighbors have been when hawks, owls or coyotes have picked off their brood. Having just seen Zootopia, I ponder the question of how we overcome our savage tendencies. I am just as struck by how deep this streak can run.

I wondered how much dinner the little carnivore would eat after her live snack, but she ate normally, and our daughter commented that she looked remarkably unbloody. The meaning of this struck home the next day when watching Livvie (aka Chickenhawk) playing with Fred, our fifteen pound kitten. She was jabbing at him with her mouth the same way she does with her sister dog, or us. My husband’s words came back to me, now that I could hear them. “She was pecking at the (unresponsive) hen, trying to get her to engage.” It’s possible that Livvie was playing, but was just too rough, and the faint hearted chicken was literally scared to death.

Our neighbors have talked about clipping the wings of the chickens so that they don’t fly over the fence. I hope this helps. Even with the complete understanding of our egg collecting friends, it does not sit well to have their animal population so impacted by ours. I am grateful for their perspective and will consider whether it’s possible to train the chicken chasing gene out of our feisty young dogs.

A Leprechaun’s Improvisation

March 17, 2016

On the evening of March 16th, when Kate was eight or nine, she greeted me when I returned home from work around 8 pm. “Guess what,” she cried. “I’ve put my boots under my bed so the leprechaun will leave me treats.” What ho? This was a new one in my world. “Someone at school told me about it. Isn’t that great?”

I hesitated just a moment before replying, “Yes, how fun is that?” I was feeling for the hard working leprechaun who had so much to do and might not have enough treats in his coffers to fill the boots of so many children. Tall boots to fill, that.

She went to bed happily while I considered the options.

There were no more outings scheduled for the evening and I scanned our cabinets. We often bake and have homemade cookies around, but not then. I found an item that I have not bought before or since: Drake’s coffee cake packages. There was one left and I snuck it into Kate’s boot, lest the leprechaun suffer some untoward delay. And then I did something completely uncharacteristic of me. I left the empty box in the cupboard.

I am a dedicated and prompt recycler. When a box of something is finished, I crush and add to the recycle bin. Nothing lingers unattended in the kitchen, as the clutter which is already loud threatens to overtake if I don’t feed the recycle bins promptly. I’m not sure exactly what my thinking was here.

The next morning Kate arose and came downstairs holding the coffee cakes triumphantly. “Look what the leprechaun brought, “ she crowed. A cloud passed over her face and she walked very deliberately to the cabinet and stretched onto her tippytoes to reach the fated box. I cringed as she opened it and looked inside.

“The leprechaun took our Drake’s cakes.” she sounded perplexed. I opened my mouth to protest and offer an alternative solution…(Dad ate it last night…the dog pushed a chair over and made his way into the box…a hardy herd of ants carted it off together..) An instant later her face brightened and she declared, “What a smart leprechaun he is. He had not been expecting me to put my boots under the bed. It’s the first time I ever did that so he just used what was here.” Satisfied and pleased, she bounced off to get ready for school.

I sat in awe of her creativity and conviction in her beliefs. Once again I am shown how we create our reality. Certainly I was relieved that it met her expectations. I was grateful that she orchestrated this whole event and established a new tradition. I will be eager to see what lands in my boots on March 17.

Loving the Leap Day possibilities

February 29, 2016

Why should frogs have all the fun? The concept of Leap Day has always captured my imagination, named in such a way as to invite boldness, a time to try out a new behavior or idea, a designated opportunity to bring freshness to life.

This quirky day, designed to bring synchronization between the solar and calendar years, dates far back in history. Julius Caeser (hence the Julian calendar) instituted the extra day to compensate for the roughly extra quarter day each year that separates the two calendars. However the actual difference is slightly less than a quarter day. It is eleven minutes and fourteen seconds less. In my growing respect for how small increments create big change, it is not surprising that these minutes would eventually throw the calendar off course by a full day, and it is Pope Gregory XIII who is credited with adjusting the formula to eliminate a leap year three times out of every four hundred years. (hence the Gregorian calendar) The rule is, a century year cannot be a leap year unless it is divisible by four hundred, thus 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but 1600, 2000, and 2400 all are. With this method, it will take 3,000 years to give one extra day. How this conundrum will be handled?

Some of the traditions around Leap Day include the dated Irish tradition that women could propose to men on that day. It is also sometimes called Bachelor’s Day and in European countries the understanding was that (upper class) men who refused a woman’s proposal on February 29th had to buy her twelve pairs of gloves (supposedly to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring.) This does conjure tremendous fashion possibilities, and certainly lots of business for the glovers of the time. Yes, this is what glove makers are called. Today they would move to Virginia, which is known for Glovers. Would they give twelve pairs of the same boring white gloves, or would it include leopard, red, blue, rainbow, and stripes? And would they include hats to match the gloves, or would that be considered gauche? These are the questions that vex.

I propose that Leap Day be considered a personal opportunity to break free of the mundane, to celebrate initiative and reward inventiveness. Employees should be given the day to research new material, to seek new business or to sit still, whichever is most unfamiliar. I love that this day occurs to pay homage to inexactness, to the effort to coordinate and to create a common language by which (much of) our world speaks of days and years. It is a public declaration that we honor the sun around which we cycle each year, and over which we hold no sway. We cannot move or change the sun, we can only adjust our own behavior and measure to accommodate our relationship to it.

What an important concept to remember and reminds ourselves about. It is a piece of structure around which our most creative selves can and do emerge. It is within a framework that our most striking achievements develop. Everyone’s Leap Day will look different, but may it be a time for adventures as large as visiting a new country to as small as changing up our morning routine to try a new cereal or coffee. It feels good to stretch ourselves. We need to have faith that possibility lies within our capability. What better invitation than a day named for this jump?