Sunday Detox: Suits and Slapstick

Beautiful Little Business Woman In Jacket And Tie

We all take ourselves a little too seriously, particularly during the week when our noses are to the grindstone in whatever professional endeavors on which we choose to embark.

Earlier this week, I was invited to a gathering of “intellectual leaders” and was placed into a setting that takes itself pretty seriously.  Prestigious. Important. Exclusive.  I signed up.  I arrived.  I deflated.  

I was sick of faking it, tired of speaking for speaking sake, and tired of conjuring intellectual passion for a topic on demand. So, I opted out.  I was there in body, but not spirit.  I sat in the back, I didn’t speak, and I intentionally passed the microphone — the one I would normally grip onto — to others in the room.  

My first instinct was to be disappointed in myself.  Why couldn’t I “show up” for this?  Later on that week, as I was speaking to friends and colleagues about the experience they all responded with different versions of the same question:  “What’s really important to you?” “What felt inauthentic about that forum?”, “Why didn’t you feel like yourself?”

It’s hard for me to feel like myself in settings where the pretense is high, and where I can’t inject humor and the child-like do-whatever-you-want-to-make-yourself-completely-JOYFUL feeling.  Most professional settings (that I’ve seen anyway…) come with some level of affectation that we all contribute to in order to ensure others that we are comptent, smart, on our game. But it can stifle people bringing their true self and their honest thoughts to the table, which is bad for ourselves, our colleagues and our work.    

I bumped into an article a few days later that spoke to this same challenge, and the ways that businesses are starting to think about bringing in humor and comedy as a tool to make people more effective and purposeful in their work.  The entire article is worth a read but in essence it says:

“By using humor, we allow great ideas to come from anywhere. Humor breaks down barriers, and people end up having really creative ideas.”

As I thought about this over the past week, it helped reground me in how important it is to me to create professional situations that make people feel as comfortable as possible — that channel the humor and the child-like curiosity that we all have.  The humor that allows us to poke fun at the stiff suits we’re all wearing for unknown reasons. The curiousity that allows us to ask questions, whether or not we think we should already know the answers. The excitement for the world that allows us to truly enjoy it instead of growing tired of it, and that enables us to actually get something done together.

 

Lunchtime Blog Roundup

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Is it me or does this week feel extra long?  Maybe because last week was a short one with President’s Day.  Maybe because I’ve been on the road this week.  Maybe because I keep going to hot yoga at the break of dawn.  Either way, I’m ready to wind down for the weekend.

For those of you who feel similarly and could use a quick break, here’s a list of my favorite go-to blogs for a little pause from the grind of work and life (when I’m not catching up on The Holly & The Folly, of course).

For when you want to figure out what to make for brunch this Sunday…

  • Cookie & Kate:  Cookie and Kate is one of my favorite cooking blogs.  I dig her style – whole foods, not afraid of the occasional indulgence or yummy cocktail, but very afraid of processed or artificial ingredients.  Another great along the same lines is Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks.

For when you’re jaded with the current state of our political system…

#whenyouworkatanonprofit

  • Nonprofit with Balls:  The title says it all.  Author Vu Le shares his take and his stories on the nonprofit sector with a big dose of humor.  While the “balls” in the title actually refers to the many balls nonprofit employees need to juggle, the blog also is written with a fair amount of irreverance and bravery.  You hearty souls that work in the nonprofit sector will love it.

For when you just want a few pretty pictures…

  • The Sartorialist:  Scott Schuman’s blog on street fashion that he kicked off in 2005 hoping to shine a light on the interplay between runway fashion and real life.  He’s a brilliant photographer, so aside from a snapshot of real people’s fashion adventures, you’ll get a lot of soulful shots peering into the lives of his subjects.

What blogs get you through your long weeks?

&d

 

Sunday Detox: Recommitting

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As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a big fan of making commitments at the beginning of the year.  I build an aggressive reading list and bucket list to chart out what I want to accomplish in the year to come.  I have a lot of friends who are staunchly opposed to making resolutions because they find it artificial, arbitrary, or too focused on negative qualities.  I get that.

But, for me, the tiny life pause that comes at the end of the year is a perfect time to focus on – and sometimes even more importantly organize – the personal goals I have for myself.  They’re usually not focused on changing things that I don’t like or think I should do less of (eat healthier, lose weight, stop killing your plants, etc.) but more on the positive things that I want to introduce to my routine.

Fast forward to the end of February and life has started to get in the way.  The life pause feels further away.  My intentions for the year are in the back of my mind, but the detail is foggy.  So, I’m using this Sunday to recommit, to take a look at those goals, to see how they might have changed for me over the past few months, and to see how I’ve done so far.

Let’s take a look at my reading list first.  So far, so good, thanks to the ladies from Prose and Hos(e).  I’m trying to read 40 books this year, and I’m on my 4th.  I have a little bit of catching up to do, but The Luminaries was a BEAST of a book, so I’m thinking I can pick up the pace.

  1. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes  (An easy, poignant read – check out Taryn’s review)
  2. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (An 800+ page tome.  Slowed down my progress but it was worth it.  Catton is a masterful storyteller, but you need to be ready to commit.  An openness to the supernatural helps.)
  3. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg (I fell in love with Aziz on Parks & Rec and loved the mixed style of vingette and social science, but this book could have been half its length and just as effective. Most interesting, I bet, for folks who are navigating the world of online dating.)
  4. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (in progress!)
  5. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  6. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
  7. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  8. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  9. Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
  10. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  11. All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  12. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  13. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  14. The Power Broker by Robert Caro
  15. On Looking: 11 Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz
  16. Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter
  17. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
  18. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
  19. The Power of Unreasonable Peoplby John Elkington, Pamela Hartigan
  20. Susan Sontag The Complete Rolling Stone Interview by Jonathan Cot

On to my 2016 bucket list.  I’ve been a little bit of a homebody, concentrating my success on the reading and writing items on my list.  I am excited by the fact that I’ve made regular writing a habit for work and play, writing about 4 short form pieces a week for various forums.  That was a longtime goal of mine, and it’s now a regular practice that I love for all the reasons I thought it would.

Big accomplishment, for sure.  But, most of the items on this list have gone untouched.  Most of my time out and about in the city has been consumed by the standard drinks, dinner, coffee with friends and family.  Time to shake it up if I’m hoping to accomplish the rest of this list.  Excuses about the NYC winter be damned.

  1. MOMA PS1
  2. US Open
  3. Met Opera
  4. 9/11 Memorial
  5. Momufuku
  6. Mission Chinese
  7. Rockclimbing
  8. Bike all five boroughs
  9. Walk across the Manhattan bridge (with earplugs)
  10. Take a Soulcycle class (What IS all the hype about?!)
  11. Run a 10K
  12. Stay in crow pose for more than 2 seconds
  13. Take an Indian cooking class
  14. Read 24 fiction books (on my way with 4 down)
  15. Write twice a week
  16. Make homemade Gnocci
  17. Make Tamales
  18. Make Tagine
  19. Make Beignets
  20. Build a Gingerbread house (Kind of – do gingerbread men count?) 
  21. Grow tomatoes (take that Brooklyn!)
  22. Learn to sew (don’t judge me for not knowing…)
  23. Learn to crochet
  24. Buy a lifetime supply of cloth napkins and ban paper towels

Well, that felt useful for me.  Not sure how useful it was for you, dear reader.  But I’m feeling one part proud of what I’ve accomplished, one part recommitted to what I haven’t, and one part super hungry for tamales at 8am on a Sunday.

&d

P.S.  Who here wants to teach me how to sew?

Call Me Joe Biden

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My Thursday commute home today is a trip from Boston to Brooklyn on Amtrak.  I make this trip at least once a month for work and love visiting my beloved Beantown.  A surprising — and slightly terrifying — result of my trips and my love of chatting it up in the cafe car, has been an unusually close relationship with the Amtrak crew.  Joe, Rita and I have had good times over cheap wine and hot dogs.  Over the years, I’ve come to love this ride.  Here are a couple of my favorite, predictable – but never dull – moments between these two cities.

Connecticut Sunset:  I always grab a seat on the left side of the train so I can catch the exquisite sunset over the water in Connecticut.  I tried to take a few pictures as it went by this afternoon, but pictures just don’t do it justice.  It’s really breathtaking and always serves up a much needed moment of calm from the universe after busy days.  AND if you look closely before New London, you can see an ADORABLE little duck family.

GE Employees:  If anyone rides the train more than I do its those damn GE employees commuting between CT and Boston.  Most of them are pretty docile, but there are always a few that cause a ruckus, provide entertainment, and make me feel lucky to be married to someone who’s much nicer than they are.  Whether it’s screaming at each other their various theories why Obama has ruined the world, the true magic behind Jack Welch, or whether Heineken is superior to Bud Light, there’s always a good reason for a solid eye roll.  They don’t notice.  (Disclaimer:  I don’t believe that all GE Employees are republican bros.  Just the ones that ride Amtrak.)

Passing New Haven:  I moved there kicking and screaming in 2010, but I grew to love that town. Now I love when the train pulls into the old Have.  I get a dose of nostalgia for the mash up of pizza, yoga and Gossip Girl gatherings I had with my lady friends during those years.  And then I continue on home for the next THREE HOURS.

Rita:  Rita is my homie.  She staffs the cafe car.  She knows my scene.  Get on the train in the late afternoon — hot chocolate and a granola bar.  Early evening — Sauvignon Blanc to bring it home (she gives me the larger size for free because she is a little angel sent down to earth by the transportation gods).  All I have to do is approach the counter, and she smiles and serves it up.  When she doesn’t have customers, she comes to hang out with me at my cafe car table and helps me write alternative (angrier) versions of the emails I’m sending to clients that have been misbehaving.

There’s still nothing better than arriving home.  Pulling into Penn Station… ’til next time…!

&d

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Bucket List

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Once the holidays end, there’s always a bit of a let down that follows.  A little bit of “well, now what…?”.  In NYC, the answer is usually four more months of winter and a spike in mood lamp sales.

So this year, amidst the holiday storm, I’m planning ahead so that come January 2nd, I’m excited to take 2016 by the horns – snow boots and all.

I’m creating a bucket list for 2016 (an awesome idea I stole from T) that lists the 24 new or ambitious things that I want to do in New York throughout the year.  I’m thinking that 2 a month will keep me on my toes, while actually being achievable in the madness that is every day life.

My hope is that it’ll give me structure and motivation to aggressively pursue the personal — not just the professional.  And, perhaps most importantly, allow me some sort of undetermined grand prize next December when I’ve slayed this list.

Here she is:

  1. MOMA PS1
  2. US Open
  3. Met Opera
  4. 9/11 Memorial
  5. Momufuku
  6. Mission Chinese
  7. Rockclimbing
  8. Bike all five boroughs
  9. Walk across the Manhattan bridge (with earplugs)
  10. Take a Soulcycle class (What IS all the hype about?!)
  11. Run a 10K
  12. Stay in crow pose for more than 2 seconds
  13. Take an Indian cooking class
  14. Read 24 fiction books
  15. Write twice a week
  16. Make homemade Gnocci
  17. Make Tamales
  18. Make Tagine
  19. Make Beignets
  20. Build a Gingerbread house
  21. Grow tomatoes (take that Brooklyn!)
  22. Learn to sew (don’t judge me for not knowing…)
  23. Learn to crochet
  24. Buy a lifetime supply of cloth napkins and ban paper towels

There you have it.  Who’s coming with me?  What’s on your bucket list?

&d