Definition is subtle in the New Now.

When we determined that selling our house was our best defensive posture, we were forced into a paradigm about "home" that I never would have predicted.

Home is the place we'd come to and shut the doors behind us. Home, where friends join us and help us find the humor in it all. Home, where we're safe and warm, despite how frigid the times are outside. The determination to sell our house made us shift our notion of Home from the protective bodyguard to something entirely different. In order to survive, putting our beloved Home into the hands of the tactless and critical market, we had to see Home as the provider, whose coffers of gold would, literally, save us.

Remember when staying loose and free was the goal? Home was only a place to hang a shirt, and the more frequent the address change, the more real the adventure. Who can say when that shifted, I don't think it was linked to a milestone of age. Perhaps it was having the children.

More likely, it evolved around John's job loss, Home was the symbol of stability, missing everywhere else in our lives.

Yesterday, we took a decision - I use the English verb formation "to take a decision" with intention. We didn't "make" anything, we accepted a liability, we took a decision when - with eager buyer at the ready - we decided to "take" our house back. The definition of Home we had adopted as a desperate measure, that we should liquidate this perfect place and strip it of its value to get us through a period of time, became too awkward, painful to bear.

Home, once more redefined. It is ours again. We've committed the sales sheets and the marketing books to recycling, and the sign comes down today. Selling was a desperate measure. And we have taken the decision not to posture ourselves that way. May the Universe interpret our act as courageous, and reward us accordingly!



Searching high and low for something to make me smile. We ponied up money for the girls to play soccer this Fall. Following the gripes, resistance and small change requests from the families who aren't feeling the same sense of privilege that their kids can just play again this year, I got an email from Cassie's coach this morning with the simple words: "We smile and have fun all the time."

The news is littered with hard court battles waged by the opposing sides of our Healthcare debate. There are no more hidden agendas, this warfare is about which side is going to win. The scores of uninsured have no position on the team.

We're losing it, people, losing it!

And for those of us trying to make sense of the New Now, trying to find a job, to reassure our children that we live in constructive times; those looking simply to settle in to the year with the hope that we just might be afloat this time next year; the dearth of humor is just not funny.

The 23 year-old and unknown Patrick Kelly was featured today in "City Room", a relatively hidden, sidebar of a column you can read Thursdays in The New York Times. He too appears to be looking for some light relief. Frustrated by the lack of jobs but buoyed by the creative burst, he's started a blog called Make My Day with Patrick Kelly. His readers post New York-based challenges for Kelly, challenges he commits to fulfilling every day for a full year. For example, he'll set himself up at a busy cross street surrounded by a couple chairs with a sign offering "Free Advice". On September 8th, he headed to a bench in Central Park with his guitar and writing tablet, the challenge was to find people to help him write a song. The result is not just what they produced, but what was effected in the process.

Apparently, this incredibly rich concept is being launched for the experience, not as a money maker. The book will no doubt follow, and truth is, I'll buy it. Kelly proclaims the experiment is designed to be as fulfilling for his contributors as it is for him. They live vicariously as he takes the risks. They see their small ideas turn into a live event.

Read the blog. The kid is a kid, for sure, and his writing will assuredly not change the world. But what will stick with you is how brave he is, what little he has to lose. That's the place where creativity thrives.

My children will follow the Make My Day blog, as will I. To bring home the simple message that anything is possible. Nothing's for sure, but anything is possible.

Patrick signs off from his latest post with this salutation: "Stay classy, Planet Earth. Watch football tonight."

We've got to meet humor where we find it.



The New Now is in starkest light on September 1st. It was for us the first day of school. And my first day to lift weights after the long, languid summer (spent with head inverted in sand). Today is 10 degrees cooler than August 31st. It is the first day of the year in many quarters.

New. Yes, but it feels old for so many of us, old and hard. Perhaps still jobless, our economy (micro and macro) is still riddled with question marks. We at home are still wondering what zipcode we'll live in September 1st next year. We fight back resentment and sadness, we fight back our own fear of there being a bottom deeper than the one we've already hit. The New Now is one in which answers do not come quickly or neatly packaged. They come in loose ribbons, the answers are the ends which, once we find them, can be made into a bow.

New Now. Coming back from a long, languid summer (spent with head inverted in the sand) presents this one opportunity. A chance to breathe. Today, it's time to breathe, and figure out who we are. Who we want to be.

Julie and Julia. Julie Powell, post-911 tele-servicer, is saved by a bunch of loose ends she's given to tie in whatever bow she's creative enough to make. Out of this she defines who she wants to be. It doesn't take astounding acting, a breathtaking romance or a Queens apartment to inspire you to save yourself by such a simple act.
"Shouldn't I find SOMETHING to dewwww...?" That's Meryl Streep playing Julia Child in a way that, as JoJo said, makes you certain that she is in fact the venerable chef. Watch the clip.

Need new packaging? Need to tie your own bow? No desire to cook 50,000 French recipes?

Let's brainstorm:

Sell stuff on eBay. Start with a dress. Move to a rocking chair. It's a thrill!

Follow The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater. A year-long project is inspiring, and Nigel Slater, British chef who "believes that making something good to eat for your self or for others can lift the spirits in the way little else can." A gorgeous journal of a book which steers you to local and seasonal ingredients and tells you what to do with them.

Form a Resume group. Just a few trusted, like-minded people to gather around developing a creative resume. There is no right answer, but doing resumes together helps to bring out strengths and lose the dead weight.

Write. Take an online course and write. www.writingclasses.com

Comment on blogs. There is such great, fun stuff to read and think about in the blogosphere. Bloggers want to hear from readers, and the more you comment, the more there is out there from you. If you have thoughts and experfiences to share, consider tagging onto what's being said. (Start here!)

Create a cookbook, or better, a lifestyle guide. Called a "Cookbook, Remixed", Tastebook is your source, www.tastebook.com Include your experience and ideas, send it to the rest of us for a holiday present!

There are only a few moments a year when we are given a new air to breathe. This is one of them. No pressure and no worry. Not talking about changing your life, career, love or hair. It is a distraction, an opportunity, in a time otherwise fraught and daunting.

I entreat you to add to these ideas, here below, about how to tie a bow out of loose ends.