June 28, 2019

I told earlier today David that reading the news, following the primary race, and generally staying “on top” of current events feels like sticking your head into a pool, searching for something on the bottom. It’s blurry, disorienting, and you come up gasping for breath. In that vein, let’s consider this quote. It’s from a group of people who intentionally disengaged from technology to find their priorities, and came back to say, “I think we also found the answer to the universe, which was, quite simply: just spend more time with your friends.” Cling to those you love and keep doing your best.

  1. A Feminist Defense of Bridezillas, NYT. “In her 2007 book “One Perfect Day,” Rebecca Mead argues that the bridezilla taboo is just one component of a profitable industry: Get women as stressed out as possible and they’ll spend any amount of money to get what they want. Even modern couples who shun tradition or would rather save for a down payment on a house must choreograph their alternative ceremonies. Potluck meals have to be assigned, volunteer photographers have to be coordinated, and the “you” in D.I.Y. isn’t just any old “you.” It’s — you guessed it — the bride.” I am behind this op-ed. Good pep talk if being labelled a bridezilla, bossy, or bitchy is making you hesitate to go for what you want.
  2. Claire Saffitz, Host, Gourmet Makes (Interview), Into the Gloss. “The best possible outcome is when the homemade version tastes the way you thought the original tasted when you were a kid. That’s like peak nostalgia. It’s definitely given me a small window into the American snack food industry. More often than not the first ingredients are sugar and corn syrup.” Interview with my cooking celebrity crush Claire Saffitz of Gourmet Makes and other Bon Appetit work! It’s an interview on the Glossier blog so it does hit her skincare/beauty routine (which has become a topic where my eyes glaze over, but you might find it interesting!). And I learned she’s coming out with a baking cookbook in 2020 and that is something I’m excited about!
  3. The research is clear: electing more women changes how government works, Vox. In my opinion, the headline should say it changes how government works for the better. “A woman legislator, on average, passed twice as many bills as a male legislator in one recent session of Congress.” Female legislators also bring more funds back to their districts than male legislators, on average. The article quotes people who theorize that it’s partly because for these women to have made it to high office, they had to be ambitious and very likely overqualified for their positions, to make it past so many obstacles in the advancement of women’s careers. The future is female, what is UP!
  4. The Mindfulness Conspiracy, The Guardian. I don’t endorse this long-winded piece! It takes a valid critique of mindfulness and shoves it into rant territory and I can’t resist picking at it. “Mindfulness advocates, perhaps unwittingly, are providing support for the status quo. Rather than discussing how attention is monetised and manipulated by corporations such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple, they locate the crisis in our minds. It is not the nature of the capitalist system that is inherently problematic; rather, it is the failure of individuals to be mindful and resilient in a precarious and uncertain economy. Then they sell us solutions that make us contented, mindful capitalists.”
    1. First of all, research-based mindfulness advocates are not unwitting about the passivity that mindfulness can cultivate in a person. That is absolutely a focus of the literature and one of several cautions given to practitioners.
    2. Furthermore, I would argue that disengaging our attention from those manipulative corporations is an individual act of resistance. I get what he’s (of course it’s a he) trying to say, but I don’t buy it. Sure, like Dove-soap body positivity and self-care in a bottle, mindfulness stripped from its ethics could be used as a productivity aid and nothing more. But concluding that all practitioners of mindfulness are intentionally teaching employees to serenely endure workplace abuse is disingenuous.
    3. I object to his assertion here: “With the retreat to the private sphere, mindfulness becomes a religion of the self. The idea of a public sphere is being eroded, and any trickledown effect of compassion is by chance.” The research shows otherwise; there are mindfulness techniques specifically designed to cultivate compassion. The person who taught me to meditate says that the purpose of the practice is not to calm down but to wake up: to sensation, to your needs and those of others, and to what needs to be done when you leave the mat. And if reducing suffering and dismantling capitalism are part of your ethos, then you will move on to that task, perhaps avoiding burnout in the process.
    4. This author reminds me of those who are almost anti-recovery, who say “Oh exercise creates endorphins? Asking your friends for support helps your depression? Sounds fake but ok, must be nice to not have real problems,” and that is obstinately miserable. I get that he’s trying to critique the fad of mindfulness, especially applied in a corporate or consumer context, but I think he takes it too far. And wouldn’t you know it, this guy wrote this longread (emphasis on long) in advance of his new book, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality. Pass.
  5. 14 People on How They *Actually* Made New Friends as an Adult, Man Repeller. “My fiancé really struggles to make new guy friends as he feels lame getting in touch with someone on a weekly basis. I keep reminding him to check in with people so they know he’s thinking about them and actually listened to details in the last conversation they had.” Checking in with your friends regularly is such a good thing to do! It feels like 101 stuff but man, when Kaitlyn asks me how my car’s AC is faring (answer: it isn’t) or Emily remembers I had a doctor’s appointment last week and how did that go, I feel seen and loved. If like me you are the center of your own universe and thoughtfulness isn’t effortless, I’ll share my strategy: make a little note on my planner for things like my friends’ parents’ names, reminders to ask how their interview went, etc. I learn from my considerate and friends and I say thank you a lot! There are a lot of good methods and pieces of young-woman-friendship wisdom in this post. For example, this is a cool way of thinking about when an acquaintance turns into a friend: “You’re not really friends with someone until you spend time with them on three occasions outside of the context in which you met them. I have taken this to heart and tried to organize catch-ups at different times of day/environments.”

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