Saturday, July 31, 2010

Being an Interested Person

I watched, spellbound, a presentation by the dean of Pixar University as he talked about how Pixar promotes the idea of collaboration and values the type of employee that has both depth and breadth, that is they are not just interesting people who have succeeded in life but rather people who have met with failure and overcome and are curious about the world around them. (watch it here)
Then, I found this on Andrej Gregov's Weblog:

According to Randy S. Nelson, who joined the company in 1997 and is dean of Pixar University... "We've made the leap from an idea-centered business to a people-centered business. Instead of developing ideas, we develop people. Instead of investing in ideas, we invest in people. We're trying to create a culture of learning, filled with lifelong learners. It's no trick for talented people to be interesting, but it's a gift to be interested. We want an organization filled with interested people."

This gives fresh life to the advice my mother gave me years ago when she wisely reminded me that people always want to talk about themselves, so you can always have a conversation by asking them questions. Time and time again I have followed this nugget of wisdom and it has served me well.

I think this goes along with the commonly repeated adage usually doled out for single persons that being the kind of person you would want to marry is as important as looking for the right one. We can be so self-absorbed. Curiosity about the people around us and what makes them unique goes so far in creating healthy interaction.

Babyhood is the time to be self-absorbed, to cry to others for what we want, to think it's all about us; at that time it's perfectly appropriate. But we should gradually grow out of that, and as Mr. Rogers says, "get nicer as we grow older".

We do have to work against the residue of things that have not gone the way we liked in life, but if an airliner can overcome the law of gravity by applying a superseding law of thermodynamics, then we, too, can fly above the disappointments of life to become the pilots of our own mind.

After all, there is so much more that we have yet to discover! The possibilities are endless. Aren't you interested?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: Beyond Opinion

Beyond Opinion; Living the Faith We Defend by Ravi Zacharias
Best described as a themed anthology, the work includes topics by 11 apologists of our century who in turn draw upon the time-honored thoughts and writings of apologists such as Augustine, GK Chesterton and CS Lewis.
The chapters contain some redundancy; still, the result is not the dry crackled stuff of doctrine, but rather a living testimony of the work of God alive in real people, some former atheists themselves. It also explores the beliefs of the Eastern religions, Islam and special problems of youth culture.
It could have benefitted from a broader scope of writers, as all but two are connected with Dr. Zaharias’s RZIM Ministry.  However, the thoughts and philosophies explored help one to feel a door has been opened on the discussion between Theist and Atheist. Such a door has in the past been limited to a pinhole of understanding, and clouded by the fact that most Christians were unable to form a passable argument. This book turns the tables and masterfully creates the Christian argument with gently loving logic, that is more woo than woe.
As a child who grew up in a postmodern, evangelical, American household with a Bible College education, I slurped this book up like porridge on a cold morning.
Thomas Nelson Publishers has provided my copy of this book in return for my honest opinion of it.

Full House

There's something wonderful about a bathroom that smells like someone, or several someones just took a shower, the sound of the dishwasher and washing machine running, the sound of laughter, and argument and teasing.

This summer, while Jim is on vacation, we live in a house with 5 girls, from ages 14 to 22.

Just let that sink in.

This means there are frequently boys, too. And while I sometimes fantasize about getting everything cleaned up and having it stay that way for a few days, I wouldn't miss this invigorating part of our lives for anything. Time enough later for hubby and I to sit and sip drinks alone, for this season will slip away all too soon.

Of course I hope they return often with babies in tow, but that is getting ahead of my story.

Now is the season of drama, heartbreak, summer crushes, galloping shampoo consumption, clothing trades, job interviews, new cars, parties and wearing the poor old house down to its knees. May every moment be cherished!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dinner Under the Stars

We inaugurated a tradition tonight. The Maris Family Dinner Under the Stars!
California's beautifully cool, breezy evenings are a tantalizing invitation to dine outside. So we did!

We set a board across two chests, topped  it  with a tablecloth, added candles.

 As the sun was setting we dined on Onion-Crusted Chicken, authentic German Spatzle, Stellar Stuffed Zucchini, and a green salad. We followed with the rest of my birthday cake and peach cobbler for the purists. (the peaches were picked from the backyard this morning!)

By the time desert was passed around we needed to have coffee and jackets to brave the cool air.

The dogs and cat looked longingly on as we dined sumptuously and laughed at silly private jokes. We'll definitely do this again, but we won't wait til next year. I kept the table up just in case we want to eat breakfast al fresco too!

What memories have you been making this summer?

Sunday, July 25, 2010


My 52nd birthday has just passed, and I'm still basking in the glow!

My husband went over the top this year to the point where I actually wondered if I was some kind of celebrity or something. It got me thinking about how celebrities must feel. In a word, unworthy of all the fuss.  while I've always dreamed of being famous and desired by the masses, I got a tiny innoculating dose yesterday when they totally spoiled me.

The feeling was wonderful but with an underlying tow of anxiety. Why anxiety? Well, all that joy is just too heavy to hold sometimes. It can put you in a sort of shock similar to a shockingly bad experience. You pinch yourself in disbelief in both instances. Mediocrity is a comfortable old friend, after all.

So mediocrity and I are back to walking hand in hand, except for the fact that we haven't had my birthday dinner yet, and are going to lunch with the family. I suppose I could get used to all the fuss. See you after lunch!

The Totally Birthdayed