Confession: I don’t listen to music much. Or rather, I don’t listen to a lot of different music much. Like many people, I don’t diligently work my way through entire albums, but skim the singles or a few tracks here and there. I tend to latch on to 10-12 songs (conveniently the length of your standard mix CD) at a time, and learn them inside out before allowing new ones in my heart. I tell you this because this week I have discovered my song to soundtrack last few months of winter: Light of a Clear Blue Morning by Dolly Parton. It’s so good! “Everything’s gonna be alright, it’s gonna be okay.”
- Open office plans are terrible for workers, so why do they persist? Alison Green for Slate. “I work at an interior design firm that specializes in commercial offices. Oftentimes, these open office situations are put into play because it is a cost savings for the company (more people in less space, often saving money on a new office or major renovation to accommodate company growth). Also, almost every approval for this is being made by someone high up enough that they won’t be affected by it. They overlook the value of employees’ happiness, not realizing that the distraction and lack of privacy can be detrimental to employees’ job satisfaction. Ultimately, in their goal to save building/space cost, they increase turnover and rarely do they realize the connection.” I have wondered why upper management likes open plans but the actual employees hate it — of course! Money!
- Family Dinner: 50 Conversation Starters for Young Kids. These conversation starters for kids at the dinner table are so sweet! Some examples: “If you were invisible – where would you want to go?” and “What’s one rule you wish your mom and dad didn’t have?” and “If you had to rename yourself –what name would you give yourself?” and “If you could only eat one fruit forever – what fruit would it be?” Sidenote, I could totally use some of these questions for our conversation board at the college library (haha).
- How I Became an Early Riser, Zen Habits. David and I are working on getting up earlier so that I can adjust to my new commute time next month. The two things working best for us so far are: moving the alarm clock so you have to get out out bed to turn it off, and easing wake-up time back 15 minutes at a time. It’s less shocking that way, and we’ve been enjoying less-rushed mornings!
- Why Is All of New Zealand Obsessed With This Drunken, Littering, Rowdy Tourist Family?, Slate. This is a wild story about some rude tourists becoming infamous as they travel (and litter) their way around New Zealand. My favorite thing about this article are the 3 quotes from hecklers at the courthouse: “How’s your holiday?” asked one. “Are you going to pick up your rubbish?” inquired another. “When are you going home?” a third person wanted to know.” Such mild censure!
- A Simple Trick for Getting Students to Ask Questions in Class, Faculty Focus. I really like this idea of having students write their questions on notecards so they’re anonymous. Do any of my teacher friends have tips on getting students more comfortable speaking up or asking questions in class? I would love to hear your strategies in the comments!
Hello friends! Have you been working on any creative projects lately? David gave me a cross stitch kit for Christmas, so I’m in the honeymoon stage of a new craft. We’ve all been there right? You know, counting down the minutes till you get off work and can snuggle by a window to sew, seeing tiny uniform stitches in your dreams. I would love to hear in the comments about what projects have been preoccupying you, or what you dream about creating this winter!
- How to Help Your Pets, Dr. Burstyn the Helpful Vancouver Vet. This is a playlist of sweet and informative YouTube videos on all kinds of cat- and dog-related topics, from how to pick up a cat to how to approach a dog you don’t know, and tips on giving pills or brushing your pet’s teeth. It’s a helpful, well-produced resource and also a really relaxing watch!
- 21 Emotional Wedding Moments That Moved the Photographer to Tears, HuffPost. I’ll just say it. I love weddings and I love LOVE. My favorite photo in this list is #8, which looks like it could be from a movie. Swoon.
- The Case of Caroline Calloway and Her Creativity Workshop Tour, Pajiba. Alright, this one is just juice, plain and simple. Good old American influencer gossip. I followed this story as a Twitter thread that has evolved to this (slightly confusing) story by Kayleigh Donaldson. I know there’s a lot of detail here about a shady, scammy series of workshops, but this whole scandal actually has me thinking about over-commitment. I think a lot of people my age are interested in making face-to-face connections but have no idea how to go about event planning, or approach it with the wrong intentions (profit, exploiting young-career creative talent). I don’t relate to much in Calloway’s shifting narrative, but I can relate to the urge to create “something” that is meaningful and brings people together. This is a cautionary tale with many morals, and even though I’d never treat people the way Calloway does, part of Donaldson’s final critique does convict me: “Calloway’s main problem is that she doesn’t want to be an artist or a storyteller or a writer: she wants to have made art, to have told stories, to have been a writer, to have taught, and so on. But that requires work, research, planning, sacrifice, and an acute understanding that not everything you do will be successful or worthy of celebration.” This piece makes me want to put my head down and focus on the work!
- Whenever We Talk About Burnout Culture, Include Disabled Folk, Healthline. This is an excellent follow up to the burnout post from last week. The articles that have come out this week have filled out our picture of burnout beyond academic “knowledge workers” to include working class people, people of color, and disabled people. Something that rubbed me the wrong way about Petersen’s piece was the dismissal of self-care (as only an industry, a trend, a scheme to make you spend money). “Disabled people have developed ways of coping. We call this accommodations or coping strategies or, sometimes, self-care. However, rather than be informed by disabled experiences, Peterson actively dismisses modern self-care. […] I’ll admit, self-care can be exhausting. Yet it’s more than just the commodified version Peterson describes. The self-care Peterson writes about is the watered-down version that abled people, particularly corporations, have created out of disability culture. Self-care for executive dysfunction is really twofold: 1) Make accommodations for yourself (such as reminders, simplifying tasks, asking for help) so you can hopefully complete the most necessary tasks. 2) Stop expecting yourself to do all of the things, or calling yourself “lazy” if you can’t.” This is a valuable perspective.
- Our Favorite Fat-Positive Reads, NYPL. This round-up made me hit the library holds list! Some of these titles are familiar to me (The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things was formative), but others I’m excited to check out. I can’t recommend Shrill enough!
PS – Did you see the new banner? My friend and graphic designer Charlotte Wood (website to come) created a logo for the Friday5 that I am just in love with. Something about seeing yourself represented in a logo is very powerful. Have a great weekend.
I love concept art. It always looks softer than, but familiar to the beloved finished product, and I think I’m drawn to sketches and half-finished projects since they lie in heaps around me. I love how in these two little sketches from 101 Dalmatians, you can feel the fog and rain. I like these concept sketches so much, here’s one more:
- That One Night: The Oral History of the Greatest ‘Office’ Episode Ever, Rolling Stone. “There’s nothing more satisfying than having Steve Carell barely able to get through his lines. It’s like a live show. You’re seeing someone experience it right in front of you for the first time, which is great.” I do love this episode. We quote little things from it all the time (“You know I have soft teeth, how could you bring that up?”), but it’s cool to see how much the cast and director admire Steve Carell. Reading their recollections of making this episode made me wanna go watch it tonight.
- 12 Cheerful and Creative Workspaces, Design*Sponge. I am really interested in designing a workspace intentionally, both at home and at work. I have a corner of our basement with art supplies and a table in easy reach, but I never seem to use it. Part of the reason is that I’ve moved toward sewing and hand crafts over painting these days, but I am confronted with how difficult it can be to make a space that is “your own” that invites a certain type of work, whether it’s creative, devotional, or exercise. This is some cute inspiration! #7 is my favorite.
- New Year’s Resolutions, Based on Your Myers-Briggs Type, Man Repeller. These new years resolutions or intentions are actually pretty inspiring, especially since they attempt to match with personality type. Not sure what your MBTI is? You can take one of the online tests which the creators of the personality instrument don’t recommend (well!), or read through the little blurbs of advice in this Man Repeller piece and see what resonates with you.
- How the Great Recession Influenced a Decade of Design, Vox. I never connected the aesthetics of fashion and design to current events in the economy before. It makes sense! They also talk about how used clothing (thrifting, consignment, and resale through social media) is on the rise, and that leads to people wearing trends from the past few decades all the time. There’s no one trend that’s back. But: “At the same time, a lot of stuff looks the same, with trends endlessly regurgitated on Instagram and reproduced by brand after brand. Recent rebrands by fashion houses like Burberry, Balmain, and Balenciaga have resulted in a cohort of identical luxury logos. AirSpace is a prime example of the sameness of our time, applied to “coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live/work spaces,” and it, too, represents a seamless way of navigating the world. “The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless,” writes Chayka. “Changing places can be as painless as reloading a website. You might not even realize you’re not where you started.”
- How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, Anne Helen Petersen for Buzzfeed. This essay has been everywhere this week! I consider myself familiar with the topic of burnout, both from personal experience and from some professional research on the topic. But I appreciated how Petersen traced the effects of burnout into other areas of life besides the 9-5 (or 7-7, or 9-midnight…). Burnout comes home with you, and makes fun things into chores and guilts you into restless action when you’re supposed to be resting. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the piece. “My new watchword was “Everything that’s good is bad, everything that’s bad is good”: Things that should’ve felt good (leisure, not working) felt bad because I felt guilty for not working; things that should’ve felt “bad” (working all the time) felt good because I was doing what I thought I should and needed to be doing in order to succeed.”
“That’s one of the most ineffable and frustrating expressions of burnout: It takes things that should be enjoyable and flattens them into a list of tasks, intermingled with other obligations that should either be easily or dutifully completed. The end result is that everything, from wedding celebrations to registering to vote, becomes tinged with resentment and anxiety and avoidance.”
- Introducing the New Fiskars DIY Tool Line, Design*Sponge. I’m totally eyeing that staple gun…
- Hey! Did you know we have a comment section now? I would love for you to weigh in on these reads or share what you’ve read that’s got you thinking! Just scroll to the bottom of this page and you should see a spot to leave a comment. (Your email address will not be visible!)
Happy new year! This partial week has me feeling like I’ll never know what day it is or what I’m supposed to be doing with my time. But it’s also meant I’ve had extra quiet and space to reflect, and I always welcome that. Here’s some stuff I read this week:
- Dumplin’, Julie Murphy. I loved this book! It’s sweet, melancholy young adult romance with a fat protagonist and nuanced friendships throughout. I really enjoyed the Netflix movie, but the book always gives you more space and time with the characters. Here’s a quote from near the end that doesn’t give anything away: “Sometimes figuring out who you are means understanding that we are a mosaic of experiences. I’m Dumplin’. And Will and Willowdean. I’m fat. I’m happy. I’m insecure. I’m bold.”
- The Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen. I am picky about my mystery series — I think I like them historical, I know I like them feminist or at least fearless, and on the spectrum of cozy-English-village-knitting-shop to gory-English-village-serial-killer, I err on the side of knitting shop. But I have enjoyed (and devoured) this series. Molly is an Irish immigrant in the early 20th century, come to New York City with very little and ambition to be a lady detective. I like that it hasn’t been easy for her, and there are times that she’s come perilously, frustratingly close to poverty and prison, but her determination and creativity keep getting her out of jams. Read them! Talk to me about them!
- Six Years with a Distraction-Free Iphone, Medium. I initially read this a few weeks ago, but it’s stuck with me. He talks about how he’s deleted most distracting apps from his phone, and the part I find most compelling is how he believes that opting out of distractions has given him a competitive edge amongst his creative peers. “Here’s the thing: When I stopped instantly reacting to everyone else’s priorities, I got better at making time for the projects I believed were most important—even if they weren’t urgent or nobody was asking for them. I invested effort in documenting and promoting my design sprint process. And, after a lifetime of putting it off till “someday,” I finally started writing, eventually publishing two books. How much of my improved output can I attribute to the distraction-free iPhone? A lot, I think. Doing big projects takes many sessions of focused work, added up over time. It’s like building a pyramid, and every work session is like cutting a block of stone and stacking it on the foundation.”
- The Real Reason You’re Burned Out, Tiffany Dufu on Oprah.com. This is an excerpt from Tiffany Dufu’s book Drop the Ball: Achieve More By Doing Less. I read this book last year or so, and I remember really liking the idea of the “MEL” (see the excerpt!). The book has some other great and very readable pieces of wisdom in it, including one I’ll paraphrase here: She talks about how she’s prided herself on being able to “get things done,” from housework to parenting responsibilities to her career, but during a period of burnout she realized that by not setting priorities, all demands become of the same importance. She says, “Do I really want to spend as much energy on the laundry as I do on my mission to educate women and girls?” And in the part I loved the most, she said, “Do I want my epitaph to read, “Well, she got a lot of things done?” And what I liked was not that laundry isn’t important, but that getting things done for the sake of doing them is not meaningful. I beat myself up for not “getting things done,” but if I take the time to sort out what is urgent, what is important, and what is not urgent but is important, then I can see a little clearer, and breathe a little easier.
- Introducing the BraverMountain Varsity Team, Blair Braverman. Okay, so this one is a Twitter thread of really cute sled dogs and their awesome sled driver (musher?). She gives some sweet fun facts about each dog, and reading through it made me wish it was a novel I could read, but also very glad it’s real life and these adorable, athletic dogs exist.
Have a great weekend!