Darria: I am no superwoman. I don't have any of this figured out. I just have figured out the things that help me to keep my sanity.
Gretchen: what research shows, and I think it’s obvious from everyday life, is that when people feel happier, more energized, more focused, then they're actually more willing to engage in the world and in the problems of other people. It’s not like being happy and calm makes you want to drink margaritas on the beach. It makes you want to go register people to vote. People who are less happy and more stressed tend to get isolated and defensive. They're just dealing with their own problems. The idea that it’s a waste of your time to clean out your coat closet, I get it. It sounds trivial. I totally get that. Yet there is a connection where if somebody feels like their household is really what they want it to be and very calm, that would actually allow them to turn outward into the world more effectively.
Carolyn: Ashley and I as kids used to take all these pictures of each other all the time. We had these cheap cameras. My parents would develop the film every week. One night we decided to pretend to be Playboy models. We had pictures of each other topless and swinging on bars. It was proto-erotic. We were nine years old. There wasn’t exactly sexual energy. It was just exploration. We didn't know what was happening. It was girlhood.
Hillary: When I had my baby, I read a lot of books. The advice I was getting from experts was making me feel like a failure. A lot of this advice is written from a “my way or the highway” perspective. If it works for you, great. If it doesn't, then I would feel like there was something wrong with me or something wrong with my kid. The thing that I discovered is the stuff that was really working for me was stuff that I had invented myself out of trial and error, out of moments of desperation, or things that friends had shared with me.
Daniel: What's interesting is that there are differences in men and women in their chronotypes. Men are more likely to be owls more than women. Even over the course of a lifetime, little kids are very strong larks, as most of your parents know. They get up early in the morning and start running around like insane nutjobs. Then around the mid-teens there's a massive move toward lateness. Again, it’s biological.
Zibby: I wanted to discuss Love Poems for Married People first for many reasons. One, because it’s so ridiculously hilarious and I loved it. Two, because Valentine’s Day is around the corner. This is such a perfect giftable item. Everybody should be giving it to their husbands and wives and everything. (Watch video here.)
Lindsey: I always think of that Gail Godwin quote, “The more you focus on the singular and the strange, the more you access the universal and the infinite.” Each essay actually comes at the question of -- we were like, “Write about being forty.” It’s a pretty broad prompt. I do think that some themes emerge.