Mad Men Had It Figured Out

My husband, Griff, and I lived with no television for our first summer together. No. We’re not minimalists. We’re not cult members. It just happened by chance. We loved it.

Imagine the horror of family and friends! In August, my brother teased us when he realized we still hadn’t bought a TV…he showed us a full page ad for televisions in the Sunday paper. He informed us, with a straight face, that they had something new called color TVs. Living without television, we were clearly an enigma to others but not to us.

We had been planning to buy a new TV but never got around to it. We were too busy… living simply. It was wonderful. It was romantic.

Simplicity that summer was light, healthy dinners and bike rides, walks to the local pool to swim laps, walks to the beach and through the village. Quiet nights with light breezes filling our rooms in our quaint, quite charming apartment, on the third floor of a remodeled Victorian home by the Long Island Sound.

We had family and friends over for barbecues in the yard and met family for fireworks at the beach. We weren’t making a statement, we simply had no interest in TV and had no time for TV. We read great books that summer too.

We’ve had summers on Cape Cod with our friends, our kids and loads of children….and no TV. None. It has been wonderful. We still have those summers with our friends on Cape Cod and no TV. Okay. Our kids are teenagers. They all have iPhones but in the summer, there is no wi-fi. It is truly a vacation. We can get wi-fi when we need it.

Without being “those kids” without TV, ¬†our kids learned that summer was special.They had plain old fashioned childhoods, catching fireflies, walking to the ice cream store and playing board games, cards with kids and grown ups.

We did have the TV to watch movies… Jaws is still a favorite. We were with like minded families so it was easy. Other people were either horrified or amazed.

Today, TV is less c“Stop buying things.” -Mad Menompelling than ever. Commercials feel like noise pollution. We’ve always muted the noise. We’ve pretty much given up on network television except occasional college football, NFL football or PBS, Downton Abbey. Netflix movies as a family…if we find something we can all agree on. The whole family has fun bingeing on the Netflix TV shows with full seasons from AMC. No depressing drug commercials. Pause buttons. Watching TV on our own terms.

Considering we brought our kids up living simply with PBS TV Shows like Sesame Street, isn’t it ironic that we’ve had so much fun watching Weeds together. I know, Parenting 101.0 Griff and I are loving like Mad Men. It’s our parents’ era. It’s about the lives of Madison Avenue advertising pioneers in the 1950’s. i even love the clothing and set details. It’a that Madison Avenue thinking that has created our American consumer monsters….that, and keeping up with The Jones’.



Be Where You Are

Stop. Just be. Breathe.

Sometimes I forget. I’m so busy thinking about which direction to take and choices to make, I get lost…not Mapquest kind of lost. I know where I am, I just forget to be there. It takes practice To be present.

I spent a lifetime thinking busy was the way to be. It filled my days but not my soul. Thankfully, our children taught me early on what it meant to be present. Little kids have time to notice details. Their minds aren’t cluttered with to-do lists, dinner plans or timetables…they can’t even tell time. They immerse themselves in play. They get lost in their imagination. They stop. They notice. They question. They think. They talk. When they’re done, they move on…fully satisfied.

Our kids are older now. I’m walking our Golden Retriever at the beach. As we walk along the Connecticut shore, snow covers the beach, waves crash, winds blow and the dog stops to sniff the driftwood, shells and dune grasses. She reminds me it’s time for me to stop too. I stand in the wet sand in my clunky boots, lots of layers and frozen fingertips and I take in a deep breath. I look around at the magnificence of this natural beauty and I’m here…where I’m standing. I breathe some more and count my blessings. Taking a moment to be grateful changes everything.