Shortcut to making big life decisions

You become the people you surrounded yourself with. Once you accept this, it's much easier to answer tough questions like “Where should I live?” or “What job's right for me?” or “Who should I marry?” I think the biggest barrier to making decisions based on how we become the people we hang out with is that we live in denial.

1. Geographic stereotypes are true.
When I moved from LA to NYC, I was horrified at the lack of yoga studios in NY. Yoga was already huge in LA, but not yet in NY. I was also scared that New Yorkers were always a little bedraggled, and I had just spent ten years learning how to look perfect everywhere I went in LA. It's fun. It's fun to have no weather and no fat and no rushing in LA. It's fun to get a day off from work to prepare for watching the Oscars. I grew up in Illinois, but I got used to living in LA.

The panic about New York was unnecessary, though. After ten years of living in NYC, when I imagined leaving, I thought I could never leave because the cultural opportunities are so amazing. The expertise people have in NYC is so vast and varied and I thought I'd never get that anywhere else.

When I left NYC I didn't care about looking perfect everywhere I went. I didn't care about the kind of car I drove. I was a New Yorker.

2. Never say never.
When I moved to Madison, WI, there were some things that were just plain shocking. There are no foreign cars here. I mean, maybe there are. Maybe ten percent of all people drive a foreign car. It's usually someone from out of state. Recently moved here. Because after you live here for a while, you get so used to the idea of driving a Ford that it doesn't seem weird.

You know the pictures of Midwesterners in NYC? I spent ten years learning how to spot a Midwesterner in NYC but really, it only takes ten minutes. Because people in the Midwest have no style. It's plain top, plain pants, plain shoes. You can rarely peg the decade their outfit comes from because it is tied to no particular style. I have made fun of this for years. And now I’m pretty sure it’s what I look like.

3. It's not about genes.
If your friends are fat, you'll be fat. This is true irrelevant of class, education, race, etc. The Framingham Heart Study goes a good distance to show who you hang out with is who you become. Not just for fat. For drinking and smoking and dying early. (Interesting tidbit from the Framingham Study: You are likely to drink the amount the women in your life drink. Men don’t like drinking without women.)

4. It's not about values.
How many people go to law school thinking they are going to represent the underdog and save the world? Thousands. And how many people can pay off law school loans and support a family and save the world? None. You have to marry someone who makes more money.

This is so common that people are making parodies about the save-the-world-types who apply to law school.

Once you get to corporate law, you don't want to leave. This is what you tell yourself: You will just stay there to pay off your loans. Then you'll stay there and do pro bono work. Then you tell yourself it's silly to go to nonprofit law when you can earn so much in a big law firm and just donate the money.

It happens to everyone. It's arrogant and delusional to think you'll be the exception.

And that is true for everything. When you are deciding what you want to do with your life, look at peoples' lifestyles. Ask yourself if you want that lifestyle. Don't tell yourself you'll be different. Statistically, that is absurd. And why put yourself in a situation where you have to be different than all the people you choose to be around every day?

5. Emotions are contagious.
If you have a happy person close to you, you’ll increase your own happiness by 9%. I have announced, of course, that I am done looking for happiness in my life. I think it’s overrated. Which means reading this blog is not going to boost your happiness by 9%. But I am hoping that interesting lives are also contagious and your life is much more interesting from spending time with me.

Posted in Fulfillment, No image, Productivity
93 comments on “Shortcut to making big life decisions
  1. Perry says:

    “Interesting” can be overrated. It’s even a curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

    I read once that success was having what you want while happiness is wanting what you have.

    Kind of the yin and yang of our society. On one hand these examples of “success” are held up as ideals that we should all strive for. On the other hand we’re constantly told, “Don’t worry. Be happy.”

    Think I’ll buy a lottery ticket on the way home tonight. Winning that would make me VERY happy!

    • Froztwolf says:

      If you won the lottery you’d be pretty happy for a while, absolutely.
      Research shows that a year later however, you’d be back to your set-point, as would be the case if you became crippled in an accident.

  2. melanie gao says:

    Yes, knowing you has made my life more interesting. Thank you for that.

  3. Tara Dillard says:

    “Our lives are about getting the outside to match the inside.” Carl Jung

    Read that over a decade ago. STILL trying.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  4. amy l The ParmFarm says:

    Penelope…

    If you haven’t seen it already, thought you would find ‘So You Want To Be a Journalist?’ equally entertaining! (and spot on I might add…)

    http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/8045747/

    Amy
    The ParmFarm

  5. Tanya says:

    I lived in Boston, New York and San Francisco and made the decision to move back to New Hampshire to get out of a terrible relationship. Four years later I am still here. I am pretty sure I am unhappy and I know I don’t want to look like these people. Accomplishing things I’ve always wanted to do has been easier- singing with a band, photo biz, owning and renovating a home, traveling, making enough money. But I always have this sense that I am leading the life of a 50 year old woman (quiet and planned) when I should be in a city walking, dating, being exposed to things with people my age (early 30s).

    • Piper says:

      I feel like you do as well….I’m 33 in NH. I think it’s partly how New England is… old… the people are old… the buildings are old… the schools here are old… the hospitals are old… the libraries are old… I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I would assume that we have a higher population of older people living here because it’s expensive as shit to be here. It does get depressing and it does get (generation-ally) lonely.

  6. Harriet May says:

    I used to want to become an immigration lawyer because I am an immigrant who has been here for nearly 20 years and has naturalized American parents and I still can’t get my citizenship, so I can’t imagine what it’s like if you don’t speak English well and don’t have the right papers. But then I realized I’m not cut out to jump through hoops, which is the same reason I gave up trying to join the army. And so I think that’s an example of me not knowing who I want to be yet, so I don’t know who I want to be around. And I think that maybe that’s the reason I have a boyfriend who drinks at least 5 beers a day and smokes and I’m trying to be a runner and a triathlete. I’m also terrible at making decisions, because I want everything. It’s tiring. So I think now I’m going to make decisions based on whether it’s interesting to me.

    • Margaret Goerig says:

      I don’t know if this will help you, Harriet, but I got better at making decisions when I stopped worrying so much about choosing the wrong thing. Sure, I still make bad choices but I don’t twist myself into knots so much about things anymore and I have accepted that if I do make a bad decision, I will just have to get myself out of it somehow and the world will probably not stop turning. There’s also the benefit that you’ll learn something from your mistake, so it’s not a total loss. I think that once you come to terms with that, you then become okay with the fact that you can’t do everything, and so you get better at just appreciating what you can do and you do it with more fervor. I started with small stuff, like, I dunno, what to have for breakfast or when to walk my dog, and gradually, it got easier to be more decisive about bigger matters, like what I want to be when I grow up.

  7. Earth Girl says:

    I made a vow to be interesting to my husband after I lost my job and was staying at home with children. He thought it was a joke, because his view of interesting is curious and that is just who I am. I am also basically happy. I think it is possible to balance interesting and happy, but it may depend on your definitions of each term.

    • joy says:

      i’m home more than my kids and used to worry about being interesting. truth is i enjoy a low key life, tho it sometimes feels like not enough. it’s definitely not enough as viewed by the outside world. i just want to have interesting experiences, for me.

  8. Beth says:

    Can someone please tell me what jobs are out there that you can get without going to grad school, law school, medical school, whatever school? Because I keep seeing stuff like this, telling us not to waste this money or that, do something else and make money instead of going back to school… WHAT IS THE SOMETHING ELSE???? Frankly the more I look the more it seems like EVERYONE is screwed together.

    Although all this stuff about lawyers right now is making it very easy for me to argue that getting my humanities MA, paid for totally by fellowship money and thus with no loans, was actually a better decision.

    • Laura says:

      My brother just got out of the military and is at engineering school, he is not even finished, but he keeps getting job offers. So there is one option that does include school. Also, everyone I know who has completed a 1 or 2 year vocational program in the medical field is employed now. Hope that is helpful.

    • MrLibra says:

      I have also noticed an uptick in videos emphasizing why most professional careers are “overrated” and “under-rewarding”. Pretty much anything to do with 5+ year degrees, costing > $100,000, primarily in things such as medicine or law.

      I realize we as humans tend to often have “grass is greener” type thinking, but, how I guess not enough people (self-included) think about the fact that if you choose to do a thing such as these types of careers, you should have at least some degree of desire or drive. They are challenging, and they take commitment, and are costly. I guess people (self-included) still struggle with the concept of vocation.

      I know I grew up in a medical family and was advised so strongly against a career in medicine for the reasons of complexity, cost, and lack of respect/reward, that I did not pursue it – even if it had been interesting. I may be economically in a better situation now (I don’t have huge student loans) – but I also sometimes think about what it might have been like to be a PhD or an MD or something else. I also think about what I might have chosen to do instead of my current track, had I been told to truly open my mind to any or all possibilities from the get go.

      On a side note, isn’t it interesting how there are some topics/concepts that seem to spread throughout our Internet and social networks (such as this), but in a seemingly sub-conscious way? Like, you look up and suddenly everyone is talking about something, and then eventually it quiets down?

      -MrLibra

      • MrLibra says:

        BTW, I am in information systems/IT/technology, since you were asking for tracks that didn’t require the most advanced degrees.

  9. Lynne Von says:

    As a woman who drinks I can verify that other people drink more when they hang around with me

  10. joy says:

    just be who you are. dress as you please. i live in milwaukee (yes, the bumpkin hotspot) and i don’t feel driven to conform to those around me. why insist on perpetuating a stereotype? just because there isn’t any decent shopping here doesn’t mean you have to dress “local”. loved the quote “Our lives are about getting the outside to match the inside.” Carl Jung
    it’s perfect.

  11. GMK says:

    I lived in NYC for years and now I live in New Hampshire. My experience has been that you can find fashion, art and culture anywhere, you just have to look. Thank heavens for the internet. And I agree, my life is much more interesting from spending time with you.

  12. Kathy B. says:

    Penelope…after reading this post I have decided 1) I need to get rid of my “midwestern” wardrobe; 2) I need to “let” myself be happier (& possibly more successful) instead of waiting for someone else to do it for me and 3)stick w/you because I don’t have to worry about making MY life more interesting because yours is ever so much more interesting than anyone else that I know. Is that also because I live in the midwest????

  13. BBell says:

    “It's arrogant and delusional to think you'll be the exception.”

    That might be one of the greatest lines I’ve ever come across. What makes it so great is that it’s true and the line is succinct.
    Thank you.

    • Earth Girl says:

      I agree that it is a great line and applicable to a lot of different situations.

    • malinger says:

      I totally disagree.. it’s only through being exceptional that the world changes and moves forward.. if that makes me arrogant and delusional, well, I guess I don’t mind being in that club..

      • Sandy says:

        are you a would-be public interst lawyer stranded at a big law firm, malinger? i am and my gut reaction was also to disagree with the statement. arrogant and delusional as that may be.

  14. Kathleen says:

    Okay, I’ve heard what you said. But, how do you know what the people or life is like in an area if you haven’t lived there before? You’ve already shared about NY and LA, but we’re considering the Carolina’s or Southern Colorado as our next home. What kind of research, if it’s not in the budget to visit yet, would help determine if a place would suit me?

    PS – I’ve already read your posts about living near your family and those areas are so depressed there is no work to be had there and it’s also mid-West so nothing new “for” me there.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Read the statistics. Median home price, median income, percent of overweight people, percent of kids in private school, percent of hard-core Catholics, etc.

      I moved to Madison WI without ever visiting, and I have to say there was not one statistic that lied to me. The only lies were the ones I told myself about who I wanted to be.

      Penelope

  15. UnderRadar says:

    Thank you so much for these blog posts. I learn something every time that helps me at work.

  16. Edi says:

    I heart your blog. I am only sad that I didn’t stumble upon it sooner.

    I love your blatant honestly.

  17. Cara says:

    This post really hit home…so to speak as home seems to be a place I keep roaming the world looking for. My most recent move involved realizing that, unlike most others in the beautiful mountain town I lived in on and off for more than a decade, I was never going to ride a high priced bike down backwood trails, wear serious outdoor gear, or ski only the backside of groomed runs. Plus, I truly enjoy wearing lipstick….and black. So, I left a great, well paying job for a city across the country where suddenly my partner and I have social invitations galore. Now, if I can just get the biz going…

  18. Mark W. says:

    I thought of American Gothic ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Gothic ) after reading this post about people, parodies, Midwest, etc.

  19. tiger says:

    dear Lady: your blog/writing style was an acquired taste for me, but now that i’ve acquired that taste i hope i’ll never have to be long without it. you make my life much more interesting than it would otherwise be (and i find it pretty interesting in general). thank you for writing, and being.

  20. JML says:

    This is so bang-on. It’s funny how sometimes the most obvious can give us the biggest jolt – that “of course” moment that changes everything. Penelope, your insight is a wonderful gift.

  21. Unmana says:

    “I am hoping that interesting lives are also contagious and your life is much more interesting from spending time with me.” It is, indeed.

    I have been feeling lately that I settled for being happy, and missed out on doing as much as I could have. I’m getting back on track now, and your blog helps.

  22. katz says:

    I still don’t know why you can’t have a happy interesting life??
    I think you are limiting yourself and are currently feeling miserable about your life and therefore have settled for just “interesting”. Since when has living and searching for a happy life been boring?? Perhaps you’re on the wrong track.
    I love your blog and read it everyday – even when you don’t post something new I re-read another.
    I think you deserve a happy life and it’s time you realised that for yourself. Your children also deserve a happy mother since it will increase their happiness by at least 9%!
    I truly wish you get out of your slump Penelope.
    All the best!

  23. Erin says:

    Hi Penelope – I hope you’re doing okay, this post seems to have a bit of a different tone than usual. It can be a bit hard being a blog reader sometimes – it feels like a relationship because you’re telling me personal things and I learn about your life, but then when you’re going through a hard time, I can’t help because I DON’T actually know you and I live halfway across the country. I am sending you good thoughts though, and strong energy vibes.

  24. Molly says:

    I spent the last 5 years living and working in NY and have been in San Francisco since September. I’m looking for a job.. everywhere.. and it’s helpful to know that even one will adjust even from going from LA to NY to Wisconsin. It is especially important to have a different perspectives, i.e. I no longer think NY is the be all end all but I do recognize that NY has a special sort of energy. I don’t know where I’ll end up but hope to surround myself with good people. Thank you!

  25. Sandy says:

    This post is in some ways so true, but in another respect I have to disagree with the part about geographical stereotypes. Yes, I change with every move, but I’ve also noticed that in my life (and the lives of those close to me), that if I’m not satified (sometimes this means happy, other times interesting, and other times something else) in one place, I’m not going to be satisfied in the next, no matter how radically different it might be. I tend to think if you lead a boring small town life, your life will probably be just as boring when you move to a big city. Because you’re a boring person.

  26. Diana says:

    By now, I don’t even remember what the subject of this post is (the video was so funny I kept watching them). Something about happiness. I’ll go back up… Oh right! “You become the people you surrounded yourself with.” I loved all your points and have seen it in action in my own life. What I can’t figure out is what to do when your job, or your husband’s job traps you and you morph into someone you don’t recognize and never wanted to become. I guess the only solution is to read Penelope Trunk (among others) and realize that where you live can make you look like your image in a funhouse mirror.
    Help! I want out of here!

  27. Angela DuBois says:

    I’ve realized that I already have the life I want. I just want a better income. And I’m working on that.

    • MrLibra says:

      That’s great that you have a life you are happy with, and know what you want! I mean this as a genuine, non-sarcastic question: did you have to try hard to find that state of mind?

      For folks like me (who don’t understand how it is that you “find happiness”), I cope with not knowing by learning to be comfortable with that lack of knowledge. If I find myself in a situation I am happier with later, great! Until then, gotta be happy enough with where I am now!

  28. Laura says:

    By that same logic, do people surrounding me become more like me? If so, is the factor of me changing necessarily the same as the factor that I change others? Or do some people have more change gravity. If I become successful, will I bring up the average, or will all my friends stop coming around? I want data and graphs!!

    Also, I am really good at being happy, and it makes me even more happy to know this is a benefit to people I like. :D

  29. Gwenn says:

    This quote would have changed my life if I had read it 5 years ago.
    “And why put yourself in a situation where you have to be different than all the people you choose to be around every day?”
    Yeah, I live in Nebraska. Thank goodness for the internet.

  30. Rusty says:

    I think you’re doing a good job remaining interesting while living amongst us boring WI residents. I know this to be true because you oftentimes write about the same topics over and over again, yet I always look forward to reading.

    My plain shirt, plain jeans, and plain shoes say thank you.

  31. Alice says:

    I love this post so much! I love every other post you have but I LOVE this one SO MUCH.

    You inspire me to join a start-up and focus on being interesting. Time to surround myself with other interesting people.

  32. Irving Podolsky says:

    “You become the people you surrounded yourself with.” Well, P, I have a different take on that, as is: “Birds of a feather flock together,” meaning: those of similar taste congregate in groups. You don’t become the people you join. You join them because you’re already like them. Shared ideas are then reinforced and validated.

    Of course there ARE people who want to be invited into groups and they will assimilate as best they can. And that’s okay too, and sort of what you’re saying. So I don’t disagree with you.

    By the way, the proverb, “Birds of a feather…,” has been in use since at least the mid 16th century. In 1545, William Turner used a version of it in his satire The Rescuing of Romish Fox: “Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.”

    (Reading Turner’s words, I don’t feel badly anymore about my typos and misspelling.)

    Irv

    • tiger says:

      i think you’ve misunderstood the circumstances the lady is describing, Irv. she’s not talking about flocking to birds of like feather; she’s talking about circumstances (such as loving someone) or personal ideologies (such as a desire to effect positive change in the world) pointing one toward a situation (such as a geographic location or a line of work) occupied by persons with whom one has no desire to associate, and with whom one in fact has little or nothing in common. like a hippie joining the Marines, whose militaristic mindset he finds repellent, because he dreams of making the Corps a kinder, gentler, more loving institution through his personal influence. she’s telling that hippie that if he joins and insists on remaining in the Marines, he’s going to become a Marine himself; that it cannot be otherwise.

      this is perhaps an imperfect analogy, but I hope it provides at least a little clarification nonetheless.

      • Irving Podolsky says:

        Well Tiger, I reread Penelope’s post, and you have a point. But it’s not a hard and fast rule. If it were, everyone immigrating to the US would speak English outside the home, all the time, which as you know, is not the case as it once was. Does everyone in South Carolina speak with a Southern accent? No. Here in LA, the population is pretty much broken up into ethnic and economic diversification, with exceptions of course. And yes, there are folks who want to escape their neighborhoods to CHANGE, to improve their lives, to assimilate a new identity. But generally, as I have observed, if you’re not born into a community, moving into it is a choice, taking on its identity is a choice, and, if possible, moving out of it is a choice.

        Now from reading Penelope’s posts, she chose to move from LA to NYC to Wisconsin. She has a choice to assimilate into farm life, or not. Driving a Ford or wearing nondescript attire, I agree, is a shift, if she does it. But will Penelope strip off the new paint from her farmhouse molding and return the wall colors to their original hues? Now THAT would be serious assimilation, a change of who she is at a core level. That “core-level” thing, how easily does that bend, even in a marriage?

        Irv

  33. Jim C. says:

    If Madison was shocking, you’d have a cow in Montana! No Beemers, no Lincoln Town Cars, no Audis. But lots of Subarus! We have to drive in snow and ice half the year, and we know AWD quality when we see it.

    BTW, that movie is great!

  34. Laura Tringali Holmes says:

    Just started following your writings. Enjoying myself immensely in the reading. Just wanted you to know. Thanks.

  35. Lisa says:

    I just wish I knew how to tell you how much I love your blog. We may need to move from flowers to jewels.

  36. Jeffrey Lovingood says:

    Great post. I agree that you become like those around you. As a 20-something, I was surrounded by people who worked hard and played harder (boozing it up, anyway). Now I’m surrounded by people who know more about diapers and pre-school than how to mix a good drink. Some days I long for who I once was, but I can’t give up all of the good I have now to be that again. Throw in a couple of re-locations, and the adjustments don’t stop.

    I already started working to reach out to those who are doing what I want to be doing – self-employed, creating jobs, creating good for others. This post affirms that.

    My goal is to be just like the people I surround myself with because I make conscious efforts to be in their company.

  37. Tzipporah says:

    “But I am hoping that interesting lives are also contagious and your life is much more interesting from spending time with me.”

    It is. Thanks.

  38. Tzipporah says:

    So what if you don’t end up being like the people around you, because you can’t be?

    You can make changes about personal appearance, interests, etc. but not always about income level, health, personality. You didn’t lose your Asperger’s by living in L.A. I hang out with well-off SAHMs, and I’m a hard-working poor mom who just ends up resenting the circumstances that make me unlike them (a sick husband and needy child).

  39. Jeepster Goons says:

    If my fiance and I surround ourselves with 5 dogs and 3 cats and decide to move to a tiny house on close to 5 acres in the sticks outside Austin, will we become our pets?

    • MrLibra says:

      Pets don’t read Penelope’s blog (at least I don’t think so!). So there – as long as you keep doing that, you’ll have a way of telling whether you have become too much like your pets or not. :)

  40. Kara says:

    The same is true for teaching, only without the financial rewards; either way you fail at money. So I guess by that token, you still have to have some sort of idealism to stay a teacher. (At least to stay a good teacher.) You could also argue the lack of ability to earn big money (thus removing that choice) makes you stick it out and “do good.” The money might also make some people give up and start clocking in, clocking out. I promised myself a long time ago that as soon as I started doing that I’d leave the field. That was 10 years ago and I’m still invested.

    Penelope, what I get from your blog is comfort. I consider myself to be happy and interesting but no one’s happy all the time. It’s always ups and downs. By being so honest and open you do make the world feel less lonely. And maybe inspire us all to be a little more brave.

  41. Scott says:

    You’re only one social unidirectional graph link away from a bunch of happy people, including myself ;)

  42. me says:

    I stumbled onto this blog in Oct 09 & have been hooked ever since: I check everyday to see if there’s a new post. PT’s musings have given me MUCH to think about; (even the comments section has its momemnts).

    It’s been a year & 1/2 of “interesting”: I’m looking forward to even more adventures via The Life of P.

    THANKS.

  43. michael keller says:

    hmmmm, be careful who you run with, be careful what you subscribe to. watch who says what…. this post i am not subscribing too…. cut across the grain and swim upstream is what this individualist lives by.

  44. Matthew says:

    When I read the original post, the video does not show up. When I click to go to the comments, the video does appear. It seems there should at least be a link in #4 to the video. I would not have seen it had I not gone to the comments. Keep up the good work!

  45. MaryAnn says:

    Try moving to New Jersey from LA. We moved here 7 years ago and I still hate it. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago so I thought “no problem, it’ll be very similar”. No way. Even if geographical stereotypes are true, and generally they are, sometimes it’s not the people, but the place. There are nice people everywhere. Every now and then I run into someone who’s angry and complaining. Oh wait, that’s me!
    I’ve gravitated toward the same type of people here in NJ as I did in LA. I do notice that if my friends are happy, I act a bit happier also. But it doesn’t last and 9% isn’t enough to effect your overall happiness. Isn’t being interesting a step toward being happy? Being interesting or interested, is being engaged in life. Then the unhappiness evolves to happiness. Or you don’t notice your unhappiness as much. I find here I have to really work at being happy here and I didn’t in LA.
    I do see those people you’ve described. Plain top, pants & shoes. I too have adapted to the styles I see around me, but I’m more Real Housewives now (the NJ influence) and in LA I was more surfer/LLBean (if that’s possible).
    Besides the places previously mentioned, I’ve also lived in Hong Kong, London, Indiana. Most of my life has been in LA (28 yrs.) and feel that it’s my real home. One good thing about living in different areas, is that you can see what you like and why. Then you can (if you can afford to) make a decision that fits you better. After all the moving around, I know exactly where I want to live (LA) and I’ll keep trying to get back there. Sorry if I rambled on . . .

  46. Kee Kee says:

    I grew up in Madison and have spent the past 15 years in Los Angeles as an entertainment lawyer (and you are right, there is no end in sight to paying off those student loans). I’ve now spent the past 4 months on a road trip with my dog trying to figure out the answers to those big questions, and I’ve determined that there are no short cuts in life. None at all. Life is hard. That said, I’m never going to stop looking for happiness. It’s that optimistic search that brings sunshine to both our own lives and others.

    Write on!

  47. chris Keller says:

    True enough as far as it goes. But I also think that you LEARN important new things from those who surround you.
    You may learn, I think, to define yourself in opposition to some of those . . . like teenagers do so well.

    Next, a question: If you are a teacher, do you become more childlike because you are surrounded by children? (Or do you become more like other teachers?)
    Of if you are a nurse, do you become more like the patients? (Or more like other nurses/medical professionals?) My answer is that the children and the patients become my best teachers . . . that is how it has always been for me. And the lessons have to do with simplicity via children; and with adaptation via the patients.

    I have wanted to be more tough-minded, so now I go to Tae Kwon Do . . .

    And oh, by the way, I think the midwest rocks. Wisconsin and Minnesota have the best public radio stations in the country. (Lifelong learning.) Milwaukee has its own ballet company. Chicago is less than 2 hours away if you need opera. (If you thought we are in the middle of a cultural wasteland.) And there is such a sweet abundance of natural beauty, it takes my breath away!
    I live in the southern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, about 30 miles from urban Milwaukee. And I love it. I am originally from Chicago, to which I could never return. To me, it is sensory overload.

  48. Kathleen Kurke says:

    PT, did you ever read Caroline Knapp’s stuff? In the compilation of her columns, “The Merry Recluse”, she tells a funny story about how she’d travel to new cities or places and find herself looking for where she could “be at home” in that new area. Might be a neighborhood, might place a venue, might be a group of people. But, I think it speaks to a very human drive to find a “home” for ourselves. And, I believe it is rarely ONE place. It’s a way of thinking and a way of being.

  49. le@thirdontheright says:

    agreed on all fronts :) best le

  50. W Church says:

    I don’t drink or smoke and hang out with people who do. One of my oldest friends worked in corporate law for about two years, quit and now works on cases dealing with civil rights around the world with little to no funding. Most of my friends do not have similar body types. I find it hard to believe that I’m a rare case.

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