Awesome Nuggets: Winter 2019 Edition

By Angela Noel Lawson

February 13, 2019

I grew up in California. Winter meant off-the-shoulder sweaters, jean shorts, and UGGs. But all that changed when I moved to Minnesota. So much so that I measure my years in the Midwest by the winters I’ve spent here. This will be my fifteenth.

The first freeze left me struggling to understand how to scrape the ice from my windshield. My boss at the time, a Canadian, told me to use the edge of my credit card to scrape my window. This was not great advice. But I’d never heard of a “scraper.” So that’s my bad.

It took me 12 winters to actually live in a home with a garage. I never fully appreciated the humble glory of parking beneath a roof until I moved here. Now I do.

I also learned that extreme cold causes cancelled school. My son was in kindergarten for the first “polar vortex” when temperatures dropped to -18F. Jackson struggled to understand that Mommy was on a conference call and couldn’t play just then. But even in those days I rejoiced in the fact that I worked at a company that allowed for remote work. This alone was and is something to be grateful for.

In the past few weeks the Midwest has experienced crazy cold temperatures. Here in Minneapolis we hit -28F, and that wasn’t counting the windchill. But Awesome Nugget posts aren’t about the hardships. They’re about the fun moments of surprise and delight that offer me a moment of pause. Being grateful for all the wonder and joy brought on by circumstance is one of the best parts of being a living, breathing human being.

So without further ado, here’s a few  of the little moments I’ve noticed so far this winter. Continue reading “Awesome Nuggets: Winter 2019 Edition”

Parents Judging Parents: I’m Afraid I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

By Angela Noel Lawson

February 4, 2019

Recently, my son hosted a friend for a sleepover. Around six in the evening, I began to think of dinner for the kids. I opened the closet where we keep cans of soda and the odd extra can of soup. Then I pulled from its depths two cans of diet root beer. As I handed a can to my son’s friend I said something surprising. Something that, on the surface, was a non-event. But when I looked deeper I found the seeds of an insidious parenting problem.

“Well,” I said, remembering my struggle in the soda aisle between the regular and diet option while at the grocery store the day before, “I guess you have to decide between the sugar and the chemicals, am I right? But, of course there’s no caffeine either way, so there’s that. Anyway, I went with the diet.”

Meanwhile, the fourth-grader waited patiently, hand outstretched for his drink. Feeling vaguely foolish, I dropped the can into his open palm.

The rest of the evening proceeded as sleepovers do. They  watched movies, built forts, and dumped Legos pretty much everywhere. But it was my non-event comment that bothered me. I couldn’t banish a simple thought: Why had I burdened this young man with my reasoning on diet versus regular?

Only one answer seemed right: I’m afraid of being judged for my parenting choices. Continue reading “Parents Judging Parents: I’m Afraid I Don’t Know What I’m Doing”

Bad Behavior’s Brighter Side: A Lesson I Learned about Love

By Angela Noel Lawson

January 21, 2019

I like to believe I’m an optimistic, self-aware, wholehearted person. And I am. But, not all the time. Sometimes I’m petty, even a little mean. I find I am occasionally nicer to strangers than I am to the people I love most. Such was the case recently. However, because I am those other things as well as an occasional ass, I learned something important from my bad behavior.

Continue reading “Bad Behavior’s Brighter Side: A Lesson I Learned about Love”

The Most Important Promise I Ever Kept–Now on Heart and Humanity

By Angela Noel Lawson

January 7, 2019

Sometimes, the most important promises we make are to ourselves. Several years ago, when I locked the door on my husband, I kept my promise. Read more and share your thoughts and experiences at Heart and Humanity: The Most Important Promise I Ever Kept.

Photo by joyce huis on Unsplash

The Moment I Fell in Love My Eyes Began to See–Now in Heart and Humanity Magazine

Love changes us in unexpected ways. It builds bridges, mends fences, and fortifies us against adversity like nothing else in the world. When I fell in love, I had no idea how important the gift of that love would be.  Continue reading “The Moment I Fell in Love My Eyes Began to See–Now in Heart and Humanity Magazine”

The Problem with Pretty Girls and Princesses–Now on OTV

By Angela Noel

September 12, 2018

We affirm what we value. When it comes to girls, too often we value what’s on the outside rather than what’s within. I’m honored to have my essay, The Problem with Pretty Girls and Princesses, featured in OTV Magazine. In it, I share my story of how being called a pretty girl (or not) impacted me. And more importantly, what I’ve decided to do about it.  Continue reading “The Problem with Pretty Girls and Princesses–Now on OTV”

Relationships: When a Run is Not About Running

By Angela Noel

September 4, 2018

I’m not especially good at running. In fact, I’ve mostly hated it for the vast majority of my life. As a teen, I joined the cross-country team and hated it. In my twenties I ran mostly to impress a boy–still pretty much hating it. In my thirties I had my son and developed a back problem–virtually no running at all then. But, something changed in my thirty-ninth year. That something’s name was Paul. Continue reading “Relationships: When a Run is Not About Running”

Practicing Courtesy: 30 Things Nice People Do

By Angela Noel

July 23, 2018

I’ve written several posts about encounters with people while traveling in the last year. One about trouble in the security line. Another about assumptions I made about a priest. I’ve also talked about things I’ve learned from drivers of taxis or Ubers. All of these posts highlighted, in one way or another, the importance of basic civility, courtesy, and kindness. This post pulls some of those ideas together and adds a few more. Continue reading “Practicing Courtesy: 30 Things Nice People Do”

Laughter: The Bug You Want to Catch

By Angela Noel

January 31, 2018

I recently began running up forty-five flights of stairs once or twice a week. It’s not all at once of course. It’s nine floors of stairs I run up and then walk down, five times. That’s over 1,000 stairs. When I reach the top I’m breathing like a banshee and wishing the way down was at least twice as long as the way up. It’s hard. The last thing I want to do is laugh while I’m torturing myself in this way. But it turns out, that’s exactly what I should be doing.

Laughter, a study at Georgia State found, improves health outcomes in older adults. One of the authors of the study, Dr. Jennifer Craft Morgan, points out,“The older adult angle is what we were really interested in, but there’s no reason to think that it wouldn’t have the same positive effects on younger people than it did on older people. Activity is a problem at all ages and laughter and exercise has benefits for all ages.” Laughter isn’t just a benefit when working out, it’s also a powerful social tool–like a rum and coke, but without the sugar and poor decision-making.  Continue reading “Laughter: The Bug You Want to Catch”

Cognitive Bias Series: Making a Stranger Into a Friend

By Angela Noel

January 18, 2018

I need help.

Few three-word sentences are so loaded with meaning. On the one hand, I could be asking for something simple, like directions or the time of day. On the other hand, maybe I need something more, like a kidney or a cashier’s check payable to a bank in Nigeria. Either way, I’m guessing you react to that phrase. I know I do.

Many of us have a complicated relationship with needing and granting “help.” This relationship, bound up in the shortcuts our brains use–our cognitive biases–can make all the difference in building meaningful, collaborative connections with others. In this post, as I promised in the introduction to this series, we’ll explore how we build relationships, contribute in our communities, and get work done. Believe it or not, this little brain elf is called: The Ben Franklin Effect. Continue reading “Cognitive Bias Series: Making a Stranger Into a Friend”