Above the Noise – Urban Beauty and the High Line

At any time of year New York City is an experience that inspires the imagination, but during Christmas season it’s hard to deny the magic that is present. Magic that includes the giant tree at Rockefeller Center, crowds of people, Christmas lights, and Macy’s “Believe” campaign dressed up in sparkling red. If you read my blog post yesterday you will note that I am using the word ‘magic’, a more appropriate word for this blog post than wonder!

This weekend we celebrated an early Christmas with my son and his wife, knowing we would not be together during the actual day. We met in New York City, dressed in our prerequisite New York uniforms of black coats, leather boots, and chic scarves that spoke of a sophistication none of us claim on a daily basis.

Besides the highlights of a Christmas celebration around a large, gorgeous tree in a hotel lobby with oversize glittery ornaments, we walked for hours above the noise and chaos of the city in the High Line Park.

The High Line Park in Manhattan’s west side is a tribute to good urban planning with a heavy dose of passion. It was created out of an old freight rail line raised above the city that has long been out of use. The freight line was a historic structure and was going to be torn down. In 1999 some community members fought for this to be preserved and the idea of creating a city park that stretched along the line across Manhattan was born. Above the crowds, above the noise, above the yellow cabs characteristic of New York City, above the chaos and above the pushing and honking, is concrete green space – a tribute to urban beauty and planning.

It is free for all to enjoy. In a walk along this park you can go from midtown to the west village and find a lovely café to drink coffee or read a paper, or, in our case, eat at The Spotted Pig, a famed restaurant where the likes of Lou Reed eat and congregate. Public art is on display and captures the imagination with it’s lines and symmetry.

Benches line wider areas of the park and a unique sculpture is artistically set against a backdrop of the Empire State Building and other high rises, doubling as a bird feeder and perch for wildlife. You feel like you’re in your own world of talking, walking and viewing as you take in the urban beauty.

Walking above the noise gives a perspective that I am unable to get on the ground. It’s a perspective that includes space and perception. I can see more than a few feet in front of me, unhampered by the myriad of little things that can cloud perspective and attitude. Above the noise there is a beauty that, although still present below, is unseen.

The High Line in all its urban beauty made me pause and think about living above the noise. Fully a part of life, but not caught in the chaos. Can I live above the noise, experiencing the beauty without focusing on the bedlam and disorder that can mar beauty and peace?

For me urban beauty is so much more profound than the natural beauty you find in the country or at the ocean. Perhaps it’s that there is a sense of redemption in urban beauty that doesn’t seem as important in a rural setting, where garbage is not spilling out of bins onto street corners. In the city the smell is not of honey suckle and newly mown grass, demonstrating the character of a creator God. Instead my sensitive nose takes in a mixture of fried foods, exhaust smoke and urine. Because of those things that display a broken world it’s in the urban setting that my heart leaps as I realize that the door I just passed is a glorious contrast against the worn, red brick of the building. That above the noise is a peaceful place – that’s what High Line park is. Glorious redemption and peace in the midst of an urban machine.

Beauty is all that is glory and God is beauty embodied, glory manifested. This is what I crave: I hunger for Beauty. …Like an addiction, a compulsion that can’t stop its seeking, do I always want to see more beauty — more of the Glory of God? Because that is what I’m made for –to give Him more glory – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Magic inside macy's
Rockefeller Center and beautiful tree - a proposal took place right before our eyes on the skating rink below
High Line Park - Above the Noise!
Sarah Sze - Still Life With Landscape with city back drop. Serves as a perch for birds along with feeding areas and bird baths.
Close up shot of the sculpture by Sarah Sze
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Stef's favorite book
The gang minus the photographer
View from the High Line - Statue of Liberty in the distance
The Spotted Pig at the end of our city journey
Beautiful door against red brick - Urban beauty

Blogger’s note: All photographs are courtesy of Cliff Gardner – photographer and tour guide par excellence!

Angels From the Rooftop – A Christmas Story from Pakistan

Bethlehem Gate

My mom grew up in a small town in Massachusetts called Winchendon known at the time for its toy factory. The toy factory made a variety of wooden toys and the town earned the well-deserved nickname of Toy Town. A large wooden rocking horse, created in 1912 and recreated in the 1980’s, stood under a pavilion in the center of town, symbolic of the town’s history

My mom was named Pauline and she was the first-born, the oldest of four children born to my maternal grandparents, Ruth and Stanley Kolodinski. Her’s was a world of seasons; hot, humid summers, fall with red and golden foliage, white Christmases, and rainy April’s that brought out the glorious mountain laurel in late June. She knew baked beans, brown bread and New England boiled dinners.

The long sea journey that took her, my father and my oldest brother to Pakistan in 1954 took her from a town of sidewalks and bay windows to a desert with dusty palm trees and Bougainvillea. The contrast between her life in New England and that in Pakistan could not have been more pronounced. Her story was one of a commitment and calling rooted deeply in her soul; a story with many chapters that began with a move across the world to create a home and life in Pakistan.

Christmases in Pakistan differ dramatically from those in the west. As an Islamic Republic, the majority of the population is Muslim and green, red, and golden twinkling fairylands and holiday music don’t exist. Christmas traditions among the minority Christian population include long drama presentations depicting the Christmas story, all night Christmas caroling parties and new clothes for everyone in the family. Christmas was a time where my parents opened up our home to people coming from near and far, serving hundreds of cups of sweet Pakistani chai throughout the day along with special sweets and savory snacks.

When my mom and dad first arrived, adjusting to Christmases in Pakistan was a challenge. Loneliness and homesickness tended to come on like thick clouds, made more difficult by their desire to create magic for their children along with an acute awareness of the absence of grandparents and other extended family members back in the U.S. I don’t remember this happening, but I’ve no doubt that sometimes the effort to make things special for us kids overwhelmed and tears crept in, throats catching on Christmas carols as they celebrated Christmas far away from where they had been raised.

The town they lived in at the time of this story possibly resembled ancient Bethlehem more than any place on earth. Dusty streets, flat-roofed houses with courtyards, and donkeys and ox carts that brayed and roamed outside were all a part of the landscape of Ratodero. Our house was located right in the middle of a neighborhood and we were the only foreigners in the entire town.

I was almost 3 years old in the Christmas of 1962. It was a Christmas where my mom experienced deep sadness and, despite the excitement of me and my brothers, felt more than ever like we were “deprived” of a “real” Christmas. It was a few days before Christmas that the feelings became more than she could bear and after we were put to bed, she went up on the roof top and looked out over the city of Ratodero. She gives words to her feelings in this narrative:

“Leaning against the wall, I pulled my sweater closer against the evening chill of December. The tears I had been holding back spilled over as I looked up at the stars, then out over the flat roofed houses where our neighbors were cooking their dinner. The smoke from wood and charcoal fires rose in wisps, and with it the now familiar odors of garlic, onions and spices. Familiar, yes, but at that moment the smells only reinforced the strangeness of this place. Then I wondered ‘Did Bethlehem look and smell something like this?’ – Bethlehem where God came down to become a human being, a little baby in a manger, in a setting not so different from some of our neighbor’s homes”.(Jars of Clay, page 128)

It was at this point, tears falling, experiencing the loneliness and sadness of a world apart, that she looked up at the dark, clear sky and as she watched the bright stars, millions of light years away, she heard singing, just as on that night so long ago, the shepherds heard singing. Could it be angels? It was a moment of wonder and awe that the God who she loved so deeply, who knew her frame, knew her sadness, would provide angels to bring comfort and a reminder that she was not alone.

There were no heavenly angels, but “earth angels” had arrived in the form of our dear friends, the Addletons and the Johnsons – two missionary families with 7 kids between them – who out of love for our family had traveled along a bumpy dusty road, remembering that we were alone in this city. There they stood in the street, outside our front door singing “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come. Let Earth receive Her King!” I am too young to remember the celebration that followed, but my mom writes this:

“We woke our children, and together we sang Christmas Carols, ate Christmas cookies and drank cups of steaming tea. And I knew God had sent them to us on that very night to show me once again that no place where he sent us could ever be “God-forsaken” Jars of Clay, page 128

My mom, far removed from the snowy childhood Christmases of her past, where eggnog and Grandma K’s raisin-filled cookies were plentiful, taught us that Christmas is not magic that can quickly disappear, it’s wonder. It’s the wonder of the incarnation; it’s the wonder of God’s love; it’s the wonder of angels heard from rooftops.

Bloggers Note: If you like this post, check out some of these:

Immigrant Communities – What Works?

I had a fascinating conversation a few weeks ago with a woman whose parents are Sikhs from the Punjab region of India. As a young couple they immigrated to Canada and raised their family in a suburb of Toronto. She grew up in a multicultural neighborhood with native-born Canadians, Koreans, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Somalis, Bangladeshis, and more. No one talked about diversity, they lived it.

What made this community work? What is the make-up necessary for an immigrant community to work? What are the policies that support this – or are there any? What is the attitude of those who are native to the community? How does that affect the experience of the immigrant? I’ve asked a lot of questions because there is a complexity to the issue that makes it difficult to dissect.

In September of this year a report came out called “All Immigration is Local: Receiving Communities and Their Role in Successful Immigrant Integration,”. The report challenges the traditional approach that focuses on “immigrant behavior” and the focus on immigrants to assimilate and take on a new role as “Americans” by learning the language and diving into life in America.  How can immigrants take on this role if they are unaccepted by the “receiving” community? And how can the community receiving them welcome immigrants if there is confusion and fear about a neighborhood changing and no dialogue to reassure?

A while ago while working as a visiting nurse in Lynn, Massachusetts I had an experience that illustrated this issue. Lynn is an industrial city located about 20 minutes from Boston to the north along the Atlantic ocean. Lynn has been a depressed community for some time. It’s population and industry peaked in the early 1900’s and has since lost steam. It is known to have a high crime rate and a little rhyme characterizes the city: “Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin, you’ll never go out the way you came in.” I saw patients during the week in Lynn and on Saturdays worked in an office in another city triaging calls from patients.

One Saturday I received a call from a patient. The patient was from Lynn “I’m calling to complain about my nurse” she said. “Oh, I’m so sorry, can you tell me a bit about what’s going on?” “Well, I don’t think she knows what she’s doing. You see, she was raised in Pakistan…..” Great! The patient was calling to complain about me. The humor of the situation struck me and I had to muffle my giggling. I also knew that I had an ethical dilemma: I knew I was me, but she didn’t. I could just take her call and soothe her, or switch the call over to  my supervisor (the right thing to do). I put her on hold and in a stealthy whisper shouted over to my supervisor “Jill! I’ve transferred this patient to you because she’s calling to complain….about me!

But I knew instinctively what the problem was. This elderly white woman, who had never lived elsewhere, was watching a neighborhood change before her eyes. Immigrants from Cambodia, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic were becoming an integral part of the city and her neighborhood. Lynn was rapidly becoming what is termed a “majority, minority” city. This woman was terrified. She had no tools to feel secure in the changes and then along comes a white nurse who proudly lets her know “I’m not from here! I was raised in Pakistan“. It was one more symbol to her that the home and community she had known her entire life was changing and she didn’t feel a part of that change.

I tell the story because I think it illustrates well the fear and confusion that can be present in the “receiving” community. I don’t think this woman was inherently prejudiced or mean-spirited, I think she was grieving the loss of a community she had been a part of and had no tools to welcome and engage newcomers.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a big fan of immigrant communities. I live in a largely immigrant community, I interact with newcomers to the United States regularly. But I am also a big fan of wanting to bring others on board in the process and I’ve found that it’s not always easy. This report was written to help communities come on board and face the challenges that come as immigrants arrive and struggle to create a new home and a new life.

So what are some of the solutions to what works? Relationships, addressing misconceptions, and personalizing both parties is key to building  successful communities. In the words of the report:

“A major step in reinforcing a sense of commonality and community between foreign-born and native-born residents is to create opportunities for contact and communication. Evidence shows that having direct contact with immigrants changes people’s perceptions of immigrants and immigration. Immigrants themselves also look to their native-born neighbors for cues on how to fit in and how to behave in American society. Creating spaces for immigrants and native-born to interact, and to recognize their common goals for the community and future, is critical to the success of receiving communities.” from  All Immigration is Local: Receiving Communities and Their Role in Successful Immigrant Integration.

Immigrant communities in the United States are as old as the country itself and no group has been immune from prejudice. Unfortunately that history is not always passed down through the generations as a way to teach others that the hurt of prejudice should not be passed on to others. Someone has to stop the vicious cycle.  I am convinced that a part of breaking this cycle is hearing real people and real stories. It’s hard to hate someone who is sitting right in front of you, telling their story.

So back to the original question: What do you think makes an immigrant community work? Would love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comment section! 

Taper, Trim and Snip: Nine Countries, Nine Haircuts!

Today is a guest post from Robynn Bliss. Robynn has written other posts and beautifully articulates the complexity of living between worlds as it relates to normal life events. In this post she takes us on a journey through something common to women and men everywhere, haircuts!

One of my ridiculous claims to fame is that I’ve had my hair cut in 9 countries. It may seem a silly thing to say at a dinner party or over coffee with a friend, yet remembering those nine countries keeps me connected to my story while at the same time holding out hope for a trim in a tenth country somewhere, sometime!


Growing up in Pakistan meant many childhood haircuts. The ones where I’d sit on the edge of a charpai (rope bed) in our courtyard so mom could cut my bangs, or perch on one stool on top of another outside Utopia house in the summer with the wide expansive views of the Himalayas and my chin tucked into my chest so the back of my hair could be trimmed by Auntie Carol. Then there were the boarding school haircuts in dorm rooms—some quickly and surreptitiously done by friends by the light of flashlight, others by dorm mothers with proper plastic sheets and the hair cutting tools to taper, trim, and snip!


Returning to Canada for college meant inexpensive haircuts for a dollar downstairs outside the student lounge by college girls anxious to earn extra pocket-money. After graduating and moving to the big city I could afford a haircut by Blair at Blessings and Co –a stylish, extravagant salon with warm lighting and classical music in the background.


One Christmas my cousins and I travelled down to visit my aunt and uncle who were staying in Southern California. On Christmas day all 5 of us descended on friends wintering in Yuma, AZ in their RV. Vera cooked up a turkey in her miniature oven and prepared the fixings on her tiny stove. We ate Christmas dinner around the picnic table outside. On Boxing Day we decided to cross over into Mexico. I had needed a haircut so why not in Mexico? The back alley beauty parlour proudly boasted 4 women in floral aprons all sitting around gossiping in Spanish with nothing to do. They were thrilled for the business and for the distraction. “Haircut?” I enquired. Off they prattled an excited affirmative. They decked me out in a green sheet and started in. “Taper?” one asked. “Yes, taper it up in the back but then keep the longer layers in the front. Don’t cut my bangs! Cut it short over the ears.” I made my wishes known. “Taper?” she repeated, it was apparently the only English hair word she knew. She kept saying it as she cut and primmed and pranced all over my head, “Taper?…. taper?… taper?…” I kept smiling and nodding, “Sure!”


Lowell and I eventually married and moved to India. After a futile attempt to grow my hair so as to look more like my neighbors, one of my most notorious haircuts involved a four star hotel in Delhi, a friendly beautician, an excellent haircut and, at no extra charge, a terrible case of head lice! There was another memorable haircut from a friend who had a beauty parlour in her home. When I got home, Lowell, who isn’t particularly observant about things like hair, asked, “Is it supposed to do that in the back?” My sweet friend had hacked a chunk of hair out of my style. It took several months to grow it out!


One year as we were headed back to the US for meetings, I emailed ahead to ask my friend Dianne in New Jersey to please make me an appointment for a haircut immediately after we arrived and before the meetings began. Our route had us going through Kuwait City. There we encountered technical difficulties and were put up in an airport hotel for 24 hours. Next stop was London. Because we had missed our ongoing connection we were once again graciously given a room at The Edwardian Airport Hotel –the nicest hotel we’ve ever stayed in—for another 24 hours. Knowing I had missed my appointment in NJ, I walked down to the lobby of the hotel and discovered one of the best haircuts I’ve ever had at one of the highest prices I’ve ever paid!


There was a haircut in Huahin, Thailand. Actually there were two. The first one, where the hair cutter (again) chopped off a little too much resulting in a hole on the side of my head. This was directly followed by another where a fellow traveler and tourist made a brave attempt at correcting it with a towel over my shoulders and a pair of nail scissors in the hotel lobby!

United Arab Emirates

A trip to the UAE to visit friends resulted in a luxurious experience in a posh beauty parlour. The Arab women, free from their black robes and public restraints, were chatty and outgoing. The latest fashions were uncovered, beautiful black hair was let loose. There was a vibrant intimacy in the air. Nails were painted, unwanted hair was waxed off arms and legs, faces were massaged with fragrant creams and oils, eye brows were shaped with dancing threads and of course hair was washed, cut and coiffed. It felt to me like I had entered a strange new mysterious world. It was a sensual and sizzling place. And I had my hair cut there!


Kathmandu provided me a haircut at a funny little roadside parlour. The walls were covered in laminated pictures of lovely Chinese women with modern hairdos and Bollywood movie stars. The hair cut was inconsequential but I remember my senses being blasted with poignant incense burning, the garish vermillion paste and grains of rice on the forehead of my hair cutter and loud raucous blaring of those same Bollywood stars blasting their tunes.

Years ago a group came from Kansas to visit some others in Varanasi, the city in North India where we lived. When I heard that one of the visitors was a hair stylist I begged for a haircut! Judy popped by our house and there in the middle of our dining room on the banks of the Ganges river she cut my hair, another friend’s hair, and our girls’ hair. It was such a treat: a good haircut right in our own home.

United States

Now that we’re in Kansas that same Judy cuts my hair monthly. Coming from my world, it seems shamefully extravagant to have a good haircut that frequently. I pop over to her house and she cuts my hair in a room tucked off her dining room. Judy previously worked in a high-end salon and now works out of her home. She massages my scalp with a conditioner that smells expensive: all coconut and pineapple lather. She massages my soul as we talk about significant things: marriage, and grace and God. When the cut is done, she styles and spritzes and sprays and pretends that I’m a wealthy client.

Pakistan, Canada, Mexico, the UAE, England, Thailand, Nepal, India and of course here in the US… mine is a story punctuated by interesting haircuts in far off corners of the world. I wonder if and when the 10th country will be added to the list. On occasion I regret the places I’ve been where I failed to get my haircut! Even as I settle into the Midwest, my soul and my hair long for an adventure somewhere in a far off corner of the world sometime soon!

Frosting on My Cake

It was a surprise yesterday to find out I was highlighted by WordPress as  one of the WordPress.com Bloggers Who Covered the Biggest News Stories of 2011. The piece wasn’t my best post and definitely not my best writing, but it was written during the January 25th uprising in Cairo and detailed a more personal overview than was available through news sources.  I had a birds eye view through Annie, my daughter who is living and studying in Egypt and has been there the last three years. Annie lives a block from Tahrir Square.

The honor was frosting on my cake. Think about cake for a minute. Good cake is moist and rich and tasty. Whether carrot cake, filled with walnuts, pineapple and coconut, red velvet, zucchini chocolate chip or chocolate, cake has a rich blend of flavors that satisfy. Sliced up and served with a cup of your favorite hot drink, you sit and savor the taste, you don’t want it to end. The frosting is great, but the cake is what satisfies.

It’s a good description of what this has been like for me. Being selected from hundreds of thousands of blogs was frosting. It’s great and I am excited, but the cake is that I have been able to write everyday, and learn in the process. Here’s a secret – I have never been able to do anything everyday for a year. Knowing I have been able to write daily is my cake, my thick rich blueberry carrot cake (stay tuned for the recipe from my mom!). It tastes good and it satisfies. The frosting is great too, especially if it’s cream cheese. To be sure I like frosting on my cake, but I know too much frosting makes for a sugary sweet aftertaste and will have me wilting under a sugar high.

Some people don’t like the frosting at all, they scrape it off to the side and it ends up in the garbage. I am not one of those people. I love frosting. I love words of affirmation. I love praise. I love comments. But I also love that even when they don’t come, I’m learning to continue the discipline of writing, making a cake as it were, giving it to God as it bakes, then feeling satisfied with the outcome –  the piece of cake that has no frosting.

So thank you – for allowing me to indulge in a bit of self-reflection and analysis. Thank you too, that way before the frosting came, you supported the cake!

So what’s the cake in your life? What do you love to do?  And when you get affirmation for it? Well that’s just frosting. 

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A Tree Grows in Kenya

‘Tis the season of wrapping paper, ribbons, and gift cards. It is a season marked by 450 Billion dollars in spending, rum infused eggnog, and massive returns the day after Christmas. It is a season of glittering lights that bring a sense of magic, and deep depression as demonstrated by the increased number of therapy visits during holiday seasons.

This is Christmas. Advent is a different story altogether. Advent is expectation and longing, hope and joy. In the spirit of Advent I want to highlight a way to give that may not reflect the material things of Christmas but reflects Advent beautifully.

It’s bigger than a breadbasket, costs less money than a gift card, and is longer lasting and more valuable than a diamond ring. It is half a world away, but you see one every day. It is simultaneously exotic and practical. It is giving at it’s best. It’s a tree in Kenya!

In my post In Praise of Green Space I contrasted the beautiful green space of London with the absence of green space in Cairo or Karachi. I highlighted my brother Ed’s work at Care of Creation and his love and promotion of green space.  It is in the country of Kenya where the work of Care of Creation began, through the vision of a man name Craig Sorley and my brother, Ed Brown. Sorley is an environmentalist and was featured in Time Magazine in 2008 as a hero of the environment. Both Craig and Ed have an urgent and compelling message, that of caring for our earth, our world. They believe there is a direct call to care for creation  based on God’s clear love of creation as evidenced in the Bible.  Once people catch a vision of caring for the earth, the call is for direct action around planting trees, harvesting water, and farming land. You can read a far better description of the work of Care of Creation here but I want to highlight the planting trees part of the action.

Staff at tree planting workshop

Ten trees can be given for only $12.50. So little for so much. $12.50 for a legacy of trees, a solution to what is described by Care of Creation as “rampant deforestation, leading to droughts, floods, soil erosion and increased human poverty and hardship, as well as loss of habitat for animals and birds.” And planting trees is part of the solution to what has become a huge problem.

A tree grows in Kenya – a tree grows and a forest is rebuilt. A tree grows and land is replenished. A tree grows and a family has an occupation. A tree grows and a world is changed.

So this Advent season, if you want to do something a little different, remember that a tree grows in Kenya.

Here is information on how to give trees this Advent season: PLANT TREES IN KENYA. Remember: 10 trees for $12.50! You can even add a gift card! For some remarkable pictures take a look here.

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Advent Reflection – Grief and Hope

On the Friday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, a man was killed in a car accident in a tunnel in Boston. Reading the newspaper report caused pain of the sort that anonymous news sometimes brings. The “Why, Lord?” that stays only until I am distracted by the next sad news item.  Finding out that the man was the father of a friend and colleague, the stable force in her family, brought on a more personal sadness for someone I know. His death has caused grief and pain of the sort that makes your throat catch, and gives you butterflies in your stomach and inability to concentrate. It’s a grief that you can taste.

The funeral was held yesterday in a Catholic church, with bright sun shining through the beautiful stained glass window depicting the Last Supper. The grief was palpable. Where is hope in this situation? What can be said to offer care and comfort?

I read somewhere that grief sets its own agenda, it cannot be controlled. You don’t know when it will flood over you and whether the manifestation will be tears, nausea or distraction. Hope seems so false when grief is so real. Words are ineffective and empty, Bible verses can bring more pain.

But one thing does seem to bring comfort. The presence of a person.  Being available, not with words but with our presence. Not a false hope that says “Is there anything I can do for you?” when there are no words to express what may be needed. Not a false hope of platitudes and empty words. Not a phone call that is lost every time we are out of range of a cell phone tower. Instead, we offer the fullness of our presence.In the midst of grief, the presence of one who loves can offer hope and comfort.  And that is a picture and glory of the hope of Advent. That in the midst of our grief, God became present among us.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

A Weekend Challenge – Literally or Dramatically?

Some time ago, as we were sitting around the dinner table, one of our kids used the word ‘literally’ in a sentence. My husband looked at her and said “Don’t you mean ‘dramatically’? Why don’t you use the word ‘dramatically’ instead?

And that is your weekend challenge. Every time someone uses the word “literally” around you, ask them to repeat the statement inserting the word “dramatically”.

We know there is an overuse of the word and we are probably all guilty! With this challenge we get a chance to see just how guilty we (and others) are and have some fun. In the middle of the sentence when your teenager says to you “I am literally not going out in public with you again if you do that” calmly look them in the eye and say “I wonder if you could repeat that sentence using the word ‘dramatically’ instead of literally”. They will literally look at you like you have two heads.

I’ve listed some examples to give you a head start:

“I literally fell off my chair laughing!”

“I literally died when I heard that”

“I literally wet my pants laughing!”

“I will literally kill you”

“It was literally the best day of my life”

What have you literally done or not done? What has your child literally done? I am literally going to love getting feedback in the comment section. Write what you heard and then substitute it for dramatically. It will make things so much more fun. Literally.