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What’s Important: Being an Independent Variable


by Jennifer Paros


It is important to remember that we all have magic inside us.

~ JK Rowling


My youngest son finds math hard. When he sits down to do a problem, anxiety often sets in. He has told me that if he can’t do math, it means he’s stupid. He puts so much importance on being able to do math correctly that he now resists the process of learning it. In his mind, his self-esteem and the measure of his intelligence are on the line, so there is a sense of great risk. When he is not thinking this way, he is able to move forward. What was risky before is no longer seen as such, and the overly important is put into perspective.

Seeing things as too important makes them weighty and slows our progress. It can make it difficult to start or finish a project because importance and gravitas often go hand in hand, and within that seriousness lurks the idea of potentially significant risk. Yet the concept of risk is self-determined. We each decide how the factors of a situation are seen: how resilient and capable we believe we are, and what the thing before us means. We assign the meaning; therefore we determine the expected risk.

One of the things my son has studied in math is variables: dependent and independent. A dependent variable changes in relation to an independent variable; whereas an independent variable is determined by choice. In the equation y = x +2, y is the dependent variable; its state is tied to and determined by x. Recently, my son made the connection that his well-being must remain an independent variable; it cannot hinge on anything outside of himself. In overemphasizing the importance of a thing, we make ourselves dependent variables, reliant on outcomes we believe are needed for us to be okay. more...



Keep it Simple


by Cherie Tucker








If you have ever cooked using a recipe, you may recall that each step is numbered and follows the same structure:


1. Heat oven to 350°F.

2. Beat together butter and sugar until creamy.

3. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.

4. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well.

5. Stir in oats and raisins: mix well.

6. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

7. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

8. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.


Notice that each instruction begins with a verb. This technique is known as parallel construction and is essential if you are talking about parallel things or actions. more...




An Artist's Story


by Erica Minor

The strains of An American in Paris played through my mind as I drove home from the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center and crossed the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan into New Jersey. It had stopped raining, but I still took note of the slick roads, paying careful attention to the wet patches. I had been rehearsing Gershwin’s masterpiece with the Met Orchestra, and had every intention of practicing my violin part when I got home.

I never made it.

As I was waiting at a traffic signal a mere block away from my house to make the left turn I made each day, a driver speeding along the wet road from the opposite direction raced through the yellow light, crashed into me head on, and sent my car into a frenzied spin. My hands gripped the wheel tightly as I struggled to maintain control, until finally I smashed violently into a curb, wrenching my entire upper body into a whiplashed pain zone.

But what struck fear into my mind most of all? Damage to my hands. They were throbbing painfully, even more than the other parts of my body that screamed at me. Something was terribly wrong. more...


February 2017

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