Tag Archives: Julio Naudin

My new mantra is…

My husband, Julio Naudin, is good at doing one thing at a time. Here he is placing the final stone on a small cairn in Northern California.
My husband, Julio Naudin, is good at doing one thing at a time. Here he is placing the final stone on a small cairn in Northern California.

Four simple syllables give me the heebie jeebies.
I used to believe the same four syllables were wonderful. I used to believe they represented something I wanted to be doing as much as possible. I used to believe they embodied the utmost of productivity.
I now know better.
I was wrong.
The four simple syllables are not the be all, but after years of experimentation with them, I realize they could be my undoing.
The four syllables are mul-ti-task-ing.
Multitasking is not my friend. For that matter, it’s not your friend either.
I came to this decision on my own, but as it turns out, this isn’t just my opinion. Science backs me up — by doing less, we do more.
Plus, it’s not good for our brains. Chronic multitaskers have a “failure to filter,” according to research by Stanford University. And that filter failure doesn’t allow them to distinguish between the information that’s important and the information that isn’t.
I had missed that newsflash when it came out a few years back. I came to my anti-multitasking stance based on observation and personal experience.
For example, I’ve had a lot of conversations recently with a young mother who works part-time from home. She has a toddler. Until recently, she spent most of her time trying to watch the toddler and get work done in spurts when the child was occupied.
This is what we do now, isn’t it? We check emails when we’re closing the car door and walking in the building. We used to just walk in the building. We catch up with loved ones on the phone while we’re watering the plants. We used to just water the plants. We go walking or running and listen to a book on audio. We used to just walk or run.
The whole thing seems to work, but maybe it’s not working as well as we think. Science says that our brains just aren’t wired to take in more than one message at a time.
The young mother says she was constantly frustrated with her young daughter and the little girl whined a lot. Maybe that was because she never had her mother’s full attention. The lines of our lives have been so blurred. Most of us are never fully at work or off work. That constantly on with constant access isn’t working as well as we think it is.
Let me say that I’m as guilty as any. As I tried to write this column, my 18-year-daughter came up and wanted to chat. In case you’re keeping score at home, the 18-year-old daughter wanting to sit and chat doesn’t happen often. She sat beside me as I sat with my computer open. She just wanted to talk. I felt like I had to write and finish this column.
The irony was not lost on me.
I ended up closing the computer and pushing it away. Had I been writing about any other topic, I’m not sure I would have taken my own advice.
But the truth is, how many more times is my girl, while she’s living at home, going to want to sit and talk to me about the new choreography for their Spirit Week dance at school? How many more times is she going to want to look at information on colleges and have a rational conversation about where she should go?
I missed my deadline on this column — and maybe I don’t have all the words just right, but I did have a lovely, distraction-free conversation with my daughter tonight.
“One thing at a time” is my new mantra.

LSS: Words of wisdom from across the world

Thursday night we had one of those gatherings of people around our dinner table that, for me, was a thing of beauty.

Of the eight folks at our table, we were born in five different countries. Four of us were born here in the United States of America. The other countries represented were Iran, Japan, Mexico and China.

After an hour or so of polite, but interesting chit-chat, we got into one of those rare and wonderful conversations that goes beyond pleasantries and gets to the heart of things. We started talking about the complexities of relationships, focusing most of our attentions on marriage, parent/child and siblings. The interesting part of the conversation was that while there were a few subtle cultural differences, we had all really come to most of the same conclusions about how to make things work or smooth things over. I asked my guests to consider their culture and offer insights regarding how to make relationships work.

The Cajun spoke first.

“Pick your battles,” my friend Debra Broussard Taghehchian said.

“Act like you want to do it — not like you have to,” said her daughter, Layla.

And then Debra’s husband, Saeed Taghehchian, who is from Iran, offered a Persian jewel of wisdom: “It’s a lot easier to change myself than trying to change you.”

With that one, we all gave a hearty, “Amen.”

Jiro Hatano, our friend visiting from Japan, had been quiet through much of the conversation, but with Saeed’s sage adage, Jiro grabbed his handy-dandy translator and started translating ideas and axioms from Japanese into English. With each, he would do his best to explain its meaning and context.

“His conduct betrayed his upbringing,” was the first translated from Japanese and prompted much discussion. Should the verb be betrayed or portrayed? Was Jiro trying to say the Japanese equivalent of, “He was raised to know better,” or, “Raised as he was, this is what you should expect”?

Jiro said it was the latter. Basically, you get out what you put in.

The second Japanese advice on making relationships work was: You’ll give yourself away every time you open your mouth.

In other words, keep your mouth closed whenever possible.

The third was the most difficult to translate. Jiro’s original version of the sentence was enigmatic:

Inscrutable are the ways of heaven.

After much discussion, he explained its meaning: We can’t predict the future. The way of life is changing always. If we have trouble now, that trouble could turn to happiness one day.

Jiro’s thoughts inspired another Persian insight from Saeed. The first, loosely translated is: Taking the high road sometimes requires keeping your mouth shut.

“Sometimes we say in Iran, if you don’t want to lose, don’t fight,” Saeed said.

My husband, originally from Mexico, agreed and decided it was time to enter the discussion.

“For me, it’s about managing the moment,” he said. “You can’t make your decision about how you’re going to react to one thing by thinking about the future or by thinking about the past. You’ve got to do the right thing based on the circumstances at hand. If you mind that, those moments become cumulative. It’s collecting the little pieces that make a long chain.”

And with that, we finished our sherbet and agreed that if the eight of us from such different backgrounds and family situations could find such common ground around a dinner table in Louisiana, global concord is surely within reach.

Jan Risher’s column, Long Story Short, appears Sundays. Email her at jan@janrisher.com.

LSS: A lesson from his father

My husband and I have been married 18 years. Through the years, I’ve gotten bits and pieces of the story I’m about to tell, but this week was the first time he ever told me the whole thing — and he gave me his blessings to share it here.

Back in 1969, a few weeks after the astronauts landed on the moon, my husband’s dad went into the hospital.

From everything I know about my husband’s father, I gather that he was a manly man. I know he loved strange meats and cheeses, opera and bullfighting.

“He had a bunch of opera records,” my husband said. “I got that from him. I like opera. I’m not a fan of bullfights, but I’m glad I got to see some. I love the music and the sounds of a bullfight — and you know I love strange meats and cheeses.”

That trip to the El Paso, Texas, hospital marked the first hospital stay of his life. Doctors wanted to determine the source of some stomach problems. My husband and his mom were waiting for his dad when he got out of exploratory surgery. Everything seemed fine.

They talked for a while, and then headed home to check on the family’s two younger children staying with neighbors.

At some point that night, the phone rang. It was one of those phone calls you don’t want to get. Someone from the hospital was calling saying things weren’t going well.

Come quick.

No one else in the family drove. They woke Mr. Ortiz, the neighbor. He took my husband and mother-in-law to the hospital. When they got to the hospital, the staff wouldn’t let them in the room where they had visited a few hours earlier. My husband remembers someone talking to his mom and her crying.

Eventually, they went home. Nothing in his life has been the same since.

That was the summer between his 8th and 9th grade years. In 8th grade, he had been student body president and involved in all sorts of extra-curricular activities. Once the funeral was done and the dust settled, he and his mom sat down and had a long talk.

He was the same age as our oldest daughter is now.

“Think about Greer (our daughter) right now,” he said to me last week. “She doesn’t have a clue about the ramifications of the light bill not getting paid. She doesn’t even think about it. The lights go on by magic. We stop and eat at a restaurant, and she orders whatever she wants. It’s all magic. Back then, when my mom and I figured it all out, I remember thinking, ‘Oh, you mean if I don’t do this, the lights won’t go on? What do we do?’ Well, I got a paper route.”

So began my husband’s long career in newspapers — and many other life lessons.

“I became more aware of everything around me because I became responsible. Childhood was over,” he said. “All of a sudden it wasn’t about me anymore. I wasn’t bitter. That was just the way it was. As a matter of fact, in a strange way, it gave me more reason to succeed — to be good at what I was doing because I wasn’t doing it just for me anymore.”

He had thrown a paper route before, but the short route was to earn money to buy model airplanes. He refers to the job he got after his dad died as “a real paper route” — 100 papers every afternoon. He’d pick them up a block from his high school and walk the mile or so up the mountain throwing papers on both sides of the street. He switched to a morning route his sophomore year in an effort to be available for after-school activities.

By the time he graduated high school, he went to work for the newspaper full-time.

Early in our conversation, I asked my husband what he thought his dad taught him. He was stumped.

“When your parent dies and you’re that young, there are a lot of things that you plan to do together or thought you’d do, but we never got to do,” he said.

By the time he got to the part of the story of how his life changed after his dad died, he had come up with an answer to my question.

“Maybe that’s what my dad taught me — to get up and go to work every single day.”

He paused.

“Or maybe it was something more. Maybe somewhere along the way, I figured out what my dad knew all along. He was a man who never complained — which may explain why he was so quiet! Even so, I believe he taught by example that life is about happily doing whatever you have to do.”

Gracias por la lección, Papi.

(Jan Risher’s column, Long Story Short, runs in The Sunday Advertiser. Email her at jan@janrisher.com.)

LSS: On the art of appreciating your husband’s ex-girlfriends

Somewhere out there, probably somewhere around the West Texas town of El Paso, there’s a woman I need to thank.
I’ve never met her. I don’t even know her name. I’m fairly certain she’s unaware what she did for my family and how it has positively affected our lives for decades and continues to do so today.
Apparently, she was attractive.
She had gone to a fancy private girls’ school in El Paso, Texas. My husband went to a big public school not too far away. They both graduated that May and ended up working together at W.T. Grant’s through the summer.
He liked her. He thought she was great.
“She seemed older than me,” he said. “Basically, I had a crush on her.”
He asked her out. They even went with her parents to the wedding of one of her family friends.
One day in mid-summer, the two of them were talking during a break at work. He asked her something about work later that week. She told him she wouldn’t be in that day. He asked why.
“Because I’m going to register at UTEP that day,” she said.
UTEP is the University of Texas at El Paso, a great school that literally sits right along the border of our country, with only Interstate 10 between it and the Rio Grande.
I’m unclear on exactly how the rest of the conversation went, but somewhere along the way, she said, “What about you?”
And he said, “Oh yea, I’m registering later this month.”
Here’s the thing: until that moment, going to college had not been a part of the plan for my husband.
He was the oldest child. His dad had died unexpectedly four years earlier. He was doing everything he could to live his life and help his mother and the rest of his family survive. Somehow college had not entered the equation.
Until that girl said she was headed to college.
“If she was going there, I was going there,” he told me last week.
As things turned out, he couldn’t get everything together quickly enough to get registered for the fall semester, but he was there in January.
Once at college, their paths didn’t cross as often as he anticipated. “She started dating someone and eventually got married and dropped out of school,” he said. “A semester later, I started working full-time at the newspaper and going to school part-time, but I graduated. I probably wouldn’t have gone to school—certainly, not back then—if it wouldn’t have been for her.”
And in trying to impress a girl, he changed the course of his life.
Our lives, for that matter.
From time to time, I think about the impact that almost-summer romance and quick conversation had. It’s such a great example of just never knowing the effect of our words and actions. Beyond that, it’s also an illustration of how the people you hang around can influence your life—for the good or otherwise. Realizing their sway might not be possible at the time, but it’s there whether you like it or not.
In other words, your mother was right. “Hang around people you aspire to be like—people who make you a better you.”