art · culture

When Maturity Was Valued

A couple of weeks ago, I gave an abbreviated review of Nasher Museum in Durham, NC. I mentioned in that post that I was considering doing a separate post about a particular exhibit that caught my eye. Well, I had a moment to really process what I saw, and I want to share my thoughts with you here.

I want you all to take a good look at the marble bust below.

This is a bust of a Roman matron, sculpted sometime between 40 and 30 BCE. She’s poised, stately and undeniably mature. The sculptor didn’t attempt to depict this woman as a youthful maiden or an adorable waif. This likeness captured is that of an adult woman, self-possessed and satisfied with her position in life.

What really struck me is the caption next to the bust. The museum described this period of art as being one where “portraits tended toward a realism that valued maturity and experience over idealized youthfulness”.  I looked in awe at this woman that was able to enjoy her maturity being captured in marble and I thought to myself, “When did things change?”

I know that every adult was once young, and there are many beautiful things about youth. But I wonder why we spend so much time idealizing youth, both in art and culture. Is it because the fleeting nature of it is akin to the scarcity factor that fuels the supply/demand concept that we learned so well in those college economics courses? Is it because life’s disappointments make us long for the days before we knew the troubles that laid ahead for us? Is it because we wish for some of the fearlessness that we once knew but had to trade in for the “seriousness” of adulthood?

I’m not exactly sure when youth became the ideal, but I long for a time when we return to reverence for maturity. After all, the average person spends way more years as a mature adult than as an inexperienced youth, and if you have experience, you can make wiser choices that lead to a happier life. Even though I’ve had my share of disappointments and frustration, I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed my 30s far more than my 20s, and once I get to my 40s, I’m sure my life will be even better.

I can’t change an entire culture that worships youth, but I can share this lovely bust with you, and encourage you to see the beauty in being aged, experienced and (hopefully) wise.

That’s it for today. Have a great afternoon, and take care!

culture · Uncategorized

I’m Coming to YouTube!

One of my big “surprises” for the blog is that I will starting makng YouTube videos in the next couple of weeks! I’ve thought about it long and hard, and some messages are best communicated verbally as opposed to the written word. I won’t be posting videos every day, but for some topics, I think a video supplement is the best way to get the point across.

youtube.png

I have some short videos up right now, and I’ll be re-filming a video that I posted to my Instagram account last week. Here’s a video from my time at the Embassy of Ireland several months ago:

 

There will be lots of travel, cooking, art and cultural videos on my channel. In other words, it will be an extension of this website. I’m so excited for this new chapter, and I hope you all will enjoy the content I create!

culture · words of wisdom

Remembering Jackie: The Power of Words

On what would have been Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s 89th birthday, I want to reflect a bit on her legacy. You all recall that I’ve shared some of her words of wisdom before, but I thought it was time to share a quote that I’d had on my mind for a while now:

540fe67f6109f_-_jackie-o_words-lg

(Photo courtesy of Town & Country magazine)

One of the things that impressed me most about this quote is that Jackie acknowledged the POWER of words. Our words mold our realities, so we have to be careful with them. Are we using our words to “speak into existence” the things that we want, or are we regurgitating the things that depress or discourage us?

Recently, I’ve been especially mindful about the words that I’m using. I’m making a concerted effort to speak positively, using words that reflect the reality that I want to see, even if it doesn’t perfectly match what I’m actually beholding. I’m not living in a “fantasy world”, per se. However, I am focusing my attention on the best aspect of “what is” as well as discussing only the things that I want in my world.

I appreciate Jackie for stating plainly that our words are powerful and can create the world that we want to see. I’m delighted that I can use my words to make a difference, not just in my own world, but in the world of those that I interact with daily.  I’m honored to have such power and to be able to use it wisely is my pleasure.

It’s no coincidence that Jackie’s life eventually led her to a career in publishing: she always had tremendous love for words. As a writer, I can relate, and I’m thankful for her contributions to the literary world. Above all, I’m thankful for her example. She was a woman that lived with integrity, used the power of words expertly, and left a legacy of excellence. On this day, let’s remember Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the mark she left on the world with her words.

culture · international

Fun With Portuguese

I slacked with my Portuguese studies but I recently got back into my routine and I’m excited about learning more of the language. For the record, I’m learning European Portuguese, since I expect to go to Portugal before I travel to Brazil. But let’s be honest: I’d take either location: I’m not picky about which one I visit first!

portugal1

Portuguese has a lot of words and definitions shared with Spanish, but make no mistake: studying Spanish isn’t enough to get by in Portuguese. Familiarity with any Romance language will help with Portuguese comprehension. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I see or hear a word and it means what I *think* it means.

Pronunciation, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. I’ve taken French and Spanish, and certain tricks of pronunciation elude me: the same occurs while I’m practicing Portuguese, too. I really love is the tendency to add a subtle “sh” sound at the end of some words ending in the letter “s”. It almost sounds like what most Americans would consider a lisp, though it’s actually a completely acceptable sound. In fact, disregarding the subtle “sh” would likely make it clear to any native speaker that you aren’t one of them.

portugal

All of that being said, I love the sound of Portuguese, and I’m excited that I’m learning little phrases here and there. If I didn’t mention it before, I’ll mention it now: I’ll be sharing my language learning tools on this blog. For this post, I’ll be sharing one podcast that I’ve used to help me with learning Portuguese.

Portuguese with Carla has incredibly thorough language instruction and the lessons are long enough where you can really start “training your ear” to the language. Carla and her husband Marlon not only teach Portuguese but they also give neuroscientific tips, offering research and techniques related to improved language learning. I’ve been having a lot of fun listening to them and practicing along. I generally listen to the podcast but I also have checked out their companion YT channel, since I occasionally need to see what is being said so that I can get a better “feel” of the conversation. If you’re interested in learning Portuguese, I highly recommend this website/podcast/YT channel!

Here’s one of Carla’s videos, for your enjoyment:

culture · style

Learn About Royal Fashions

Happy Monday, darlings! I hope you all had a satisfying weekend. I spent some time perusing one of Daily Mails’s many articles about the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. The public is fascinated with the California-born beauty, and the Daily Mail recently ran an article on her clothing budget and latest fashions. The truth is, the public LOVES watching what the wealthy wear, especially if the wealthy ones they are observing happen to be members of a royal family.

royal

In line with this fascination, I just came across another FutureLearn course that I thought you all might want to check out. A History of Royal Fashion is a course available through this online provider until September 1st. The course explores the fashion and symbols enjoyed by 5 different dynastic families. Yes, this course also includes the current royal family, the Windsors.

guard

A royal guard – yet another fashionable dressed extension of the British monarchy

I’m far too busy to take this course myself, but I figured that I’d pass along the information for anyone interested. The course sounds really fascinating, so if it is offered again, I hope I’ll have enough time to check it out. But for you all that have the time and the interest, lucky, lucky! You can enjoy this course for free, just by signing up on FutureLearn. And, if you pay a fee, you can access the course indefinitely, so you really have nothing to lose by checking it out.

This is shaping up to be a busy week, but I’ll still be on my daily post scheduled. In any case, wish me lots of sleep and plenty of productivity when I’m awake. Thanks in advance! Talk to you all tomorrow.

culture · international · life curation

My Cultures and Identities Course is Completed!

I finished my Cultures and Identities in Europe course a few days ago, and I’m excited to share what I learned with you all. I’ll discuss what I enjoyed about the platform, FutureLearn, then I’ll dive into the course specific details and my take on what was offered in this class.

europe3

For starters, I’d never completed a course through FutureLearn before. I was familiar with the website but never did any of the classes, so this was a first for me. I was really impressed with the structure and content of the course that I completed. This was well-suited to online learners: an appropriate mix of video and written content that thoroughly cover the subject matter while keeping the students engaged. I also loved how easy it was to access the course and complete the modules according to my schedule.

The course, as outlined, takes about 3 weeks to complete. However, additional time is allowed, so if you miss a few days of study, you can easily go back and make up those sessions. The program has transcripts and closed captioning for impaired students. I was impressed with the amount of care that went into producing this free resource. However, if students are interested in access this course indefinitely, or obtaining a certificate of achievement, FutureLearn charges a fee (currently $59) for lifetime access.

europe1

Now that the general information is out of the way, let’s talk about the class. The class is broken down into 3 general sections: European Identities, European Memory and Heritage, and European Creativity. Each section delves into the history of the topic, the current state of the topic, as well as the politics that have influenced each of these areas.

The course defines Europe, European identity as well as European culture, then it explores all of the factors that have previously and currently have defined these concepts. I really loved learning about how Europe has created policy to embrace diversity as well as how Europe intends to approach cultural and creative programs outside of the economic perspective.

art1

I really enjoyed this course and, while I don’t plan to purchase lifetime access, I can easily see myself signing up for this again in the future, just as a refresher. There was a lot of good information in this course – I’m glad I signed up and completed it!