Today's note is a little different; it's an impromptu special edition that I'm calling Helpful Curiosities. You see, along with this being the season of joy and giving, some of us are also in the season of quiet overwhelm, of loneliness, of anxiety, of not-quite-enoughness, of money troubles, of holy-wow-the-world-is-extra-scary. Your average gift guide has a way of forgetting all about the less-pleasant nuances of the human experience this season. So, in the spirit of inclusivity, love, and the question that I hold as the backbone of personal transformation (How might this [career, relationship, situation, fill-in-the-blank] change if I approached it with a sense of bubbling and unbridled curiosity?), I'd like to share with you a short list of helpful curiosities, for yourself and others.
1. www.five.sentenc.es is a super simple website (and premise), the tagline of which is, A Disciplined Way to Deal with Email. The gist: "Email takes too long to respond to, resulting in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot of it [...] www.five.sentenc.es is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be five sentences or less." I first encountered this policy when a new friend emailed me and I saw the following in her signature: "My goal: www.five.sentenc.es." I knew her brevity wasn't personal; she was on a quest to reclaim some of her time, to use pockets of it consciously, and to be transparent about her efforts to do so. Feeling overwhelmed by email? Tack on a message to your signature and cut yourself some slack.
2. Make media lists. Hard-pressed for ideas (or cash) when it comes to holiday gift-giving? Compile a list—handwritten or electronic—of very specific and relevant recommendations (movies, music, podcasts, apps) for each individual on your list. Think of it as a custom-tailored entertainment cheatsheet. I'm a fan of hand-doodled snail mail, but, if you prefer a less-handmade look, try using Canva to create a fun (and free) graphic that you can then deliver via email.
3. Take inventory of 2015, so you don't lose track of your growth. The years I didn't take an inventory are a bit blurry and indistinct, while the ones that ended with a conscious review and intention-setting wound up being defining. My brilliant coach-friend Caroline has offered up her personal approach to this process in a free PDF that you can type into directly, without the hassle of printing it out and storing it somewhere. I plan to work on mine during our quiet New Year's Eve non-celebration. :-)
4. Get out from behind email (as with #1) and set some dates to connect. Consider scheduling actual visits or Skype visits with your favorite people. Purchase or draw up your own 2016 calendar, circle the dates you can commit to (don't forget to note them in your own datebook!), and then gift your family and friends with the calendar, a visual promise that you'll have more face time in the coming year.
5. Change your desktop wallpaper, change your life. I'm a big believer in the enormous power of words, so I've just installed Esmé Wang's uplifting (and free) wallpaper for a little motivation. Also: Change your password, change your life. This isn't a finding from this past week, but from well over a year ago. I remember sitting at my work desk, reading Mauricio Estrella's article, and immediately taking heed. Not to get all woo-woo on you, but, I could never have imagined how much my life would change, following this one small tweak. As with #3, intention is everything. (As is perspective.)
I love hearing from you. If you feel moved to do so, please hit 'reply' and share your thoughts and findings with me.
Notes from the week of December 6
+ my Love Interest's genius with spreadsheets (he got me organized with just a few clicks)
+ two new-to-me hashtags on Instagram, both of which are veritable treasure troves of snail mail delight ('showandmail' and 'letterwritersalliance')
MEALS EATEN, DRINKS DRUNK
+ ginger snaps
+ pho with tofu (my first pho experience—I'm sold!)
+ massaman curry with tofu
+ ginger broccoli and tofu
+ late night grilled cheese
+ Mediterranean mint ice cream
BOOKMARKED (HAVEN'T READ, WANT TO READ, OR AM IN THE PROCESS OF READING NOW)
+ Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry
+ The Girl on the Train (I'm about halfway through the audiobook, in fact) by Paula Hawkins
+ The Desire Map (audiobook) by Danielle LaPorte, gifted to me by the inestimable Stephanie Ducharme
+ felted ball garlands
+ more fairy lights
+ Netflix yule log
+ it's 70 degrees in the middle of December, and I've got winter wonderland music playing—this is a confusing time
+ also, rain instead of snow...
+ letter after letter for Year of Wonder, which has been so beautifully received