Simple Lessons in a Complex World

By Angela Noel

March 9, 2017

“It’s like raisin bread,” Ryan Allshouse explained, drawing a blue rectangle on his white board studded with blue dots, “As the bread bakes, it expands and the raisins get farther away from each other.”

“I still don’t get it,” I said. “How can the universe be expanding? Expanding into what? The bread expands into the air. Where there was air, the bread is now taking up the space. When the universe expands what gives way?” I cross my arms and tap my foot, brow furrowed, unhappy with the raisin bread explanation.

Ryan laughs. “I don’t know.”

Years ago, Ryan might have kept this conversation going. He might have argued with me and showed me the research on the expanding universe and why, from a space/physics/science-y perspective, my question was silly. But this Ryan, older, wiser, and passionate about knowledge and deep thoughts, has learned the importance of not-knowing. He’s learned the immeasurable value of the one statement every human can (and should) make, regardless of years of study and expertise.  Continue reading “Simple Lessons in a Complex World”

A Weekly Way to Share the Good

by Angela Noel

February 23, 2017

“Don’t go looking for trouble;” Sookie Stackhouse, heroine of The Southern Vampire Series often says, quoting her wise grandmother (who in turn was paraphrasing Proverbs 11:27), “it’s already looking for you.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, author and philosopher, offers a different but related perspective, “Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.” Even if you aren’t a fan of either Sookie or Dostoyevsky, it’s difficult to deny there’s truth here: Trouble is looking for us whether we like it or not, and we tend to focus on it, even when we’re trying not to.

But, trouble is neither all bad, nor all encompassing. At least, it doesn’t have to be. We can follow a different path. One highlighted by poet Mary Oliver in her poem Sometimes:

Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be Astonished.

Tell about it.”

I think Mary’s on to something, so I’m creating a way to share the good. I’m calling it “Awesome Nuggets: A Weekly Way to Share the Good” and I hope you’ll join me. Continue reading “A Weekly Way to Share the Good”

Who We Are

By Angela Noel

January 19, 2017

Seems like just yesterday we were dressing up in feather boas and funny hats together, but CK Sanders has been CEO of a successful New York business for sixteen years now. She once helped me catch crawdads in a pond, and now she helps New Yorkers experience the great outdoors through day trips to craft breweries, wineries, and other hot spots for agritourism.

Playing Dress Up
CK on the left, me, and and our cousin Michelle in 1980. Dressing up with Grandma Sue’s old boas and hats. (Did people actually wear this stuff?)

If owning her own business wasn’t enough, CK launched a music career as a side project. Her recently released single, “Who We Are,” feels like an anthem to everything I want 2017 to be: heartfelt, collaborative, creative, and true. 

Continue reading “Who We Are”

A Resolution Revolution

by Angela Noel

January 5, 2017

The UN makes resolutions, defined as, “. . .formal expressions of the opinion or will of the United Nations organs.” One could argue New Year’s Resolutions fall into this category. We are expressing our will or opinion on what we want to create in the world as a result of careful consideration and after assessment of the conditions at hand. But, here a resolution is needed often to “resolve” a current conflict or friction point.

When we make New Year’s Resolutions, no doubt the goal is to resolve an issue we perceive in our lives today; something we’re doing we want to stop, or something we aren’t doing that we want to start. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to break the routine and introduce a new idea. The issue I have with resolutions, as we practice them in daily life, is with the stiff formality of it all. Our lives are fluid. Sometimes, even if I want a grilled cheese sandwich, the bread is moldy and the cheese has a funny (but not in a good way) smell. I must adapt my dinner preferences as I must adapt my life to the circumstances within it.

My answer to New Year’s Resolutions is a cluster of yearly Intentions.

Continue reading “A Resolution Revolution”

Music Review: M French’s Winding Road

By Angela Noel

November 17, 2016

Matthew French, whom you may remember from my very first blog post, recently released his second album, Winding Road. He asked me to listen to it, not because I’m a musician or qualified to critique his music the way a writer for Rolling Stone would, but because he was curious about how it would make me feel.

I think that’s the key to Matt’s music, actually. He’s not writing songs for those people OUT THERE. He’s writing for a few friends, who might be listening to his music sitting cross-legged on the carpet drinking wine from a mismatched set of tumblers someone found at a garage sale. In other words, me. And maybe you. Continue reading “Music Review: M French’s Winding Road”

What I Choose to Believe

By Angela Noel

September 22, 2016

I love finding money in my pants. I know it’s my own money in my own pants, but it still feels as if I’ve unearthed a hidden treasure. The routine of daily living can cause me to overlook something of value only to be surprised and delighted when I discover it again. I experience this same thrill whenever I encounter playful reminders of the creativity and kindness of my fellow humans in everyday life. Continue reading “What I Choose to Believe”

Doing the Little Things Right

By Angela Noel

August 31, 2016

At six foot four, broad-shouldered and bearded, Joseph Vasterling looks every bit like the guy who earned a scholarship to play football at a now Division 1 school. At a practice before his freshman year even began, his hip flexor, the ghost of an old injury, screamed. His football career on the line, his coach asked, “Are you hurt or are you injured?” The implication was clear; if you’re hurt, rub some dirt on it and get back out there, but if you’re injured . . . goodbye scholarship. He walked back out onto the practice field under the blazing South Dakota sun only to watch the running back collapse. Joe decided then that football, a game he excelled at with minimal effort, wasn’t for him. He called his parents and boarded a bus for home. On that day and many since, he proved he has more in common with a reclusive 19th century poet than he does with a stereotypical jock. Continue reading “Doing the Little Things Right”

Saying Goodbye (For Now)

A Love Letter by Tessa Moore

August 25, 2016

Dear Kyra,

We told you for months that I was leaving for college, but it wasn’t until you were looking through my bottles of shampoo, laundry detergent, silverware, and soap that you finally understood. You turned around and crawled on my bed next to me. “I don’t want you to go to college.” Your six-year-old voice cracks with tears. Then, I had to hug you and let you cry. You didn’t know this but I was crying along with you. Technically, I was tearing up. But I wouldn’t be crying if I hadn’t tried so hard not to. Continue reading “Saying Goodbye (For Now)”

How to Let the Magic Happen

By Angela Noel

August 18, 2016

Getting from here to there could be a harrowing journey; drivers honked, tires squealed, and traffic lights were mere suggestions. Angela did’t like traveling in her city. But that wasn’t the only problem. In the 1990s, members of a drug cartel moved into her quiet, middle class neighborhood in Santiago de Cali, Colombia. Someone was assassinated across the lane from her house.

Angela, a teen then, wondered, Do people obey the law in the U.S.?  Continue reading “How to Let the Magic Happen”