You know how, but you can relearn

Everything is an experiment.

Tibor Kalman

What we’ve learned as children enables us to function, but at times not thrive in daily life. As adults, relearning is hard.

I want to be task oriented. This is one of my strengths, but I want to relearn. For me, the reward of an accomplishment (checking something off the damned list) is a huge incentive. Doesn’t matter if I write it on a dirty napkin, if it’s a to-do, the world is not at peace until it’s done. Something else I developed was the tendency to rush. Pure impatience. All I want is for the task to be finished. Do I understand the extent of what I’m doing? Doesn’t matter. I’ll plow through until I can say it’s completed. The process has never been my strength. Often I even find it difficult to care about what I’m doing, I’m focused on the end result.

I want to focus instead on relearning how to engage in tasks fully, not as a means to an end, but as a means onto themselves. Like listening to music, the end isn’t the goal. Rather, the pleasure is in the process.

This is simple, and applicable on a life and death scale.

Growing up, I slowly had this process of realizing that all the things around me that people had told me were just the natural way things were, the way things always would be, they weren’t natural at all. They were things that could be changed, and they were things that, more importantly, were wrong and should change, and once I realized that, there was really no going back.

Aaron Swartz

Frank Lloyd Wright: in his own words

The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were completed. Wikipedia

Space is the breath of art.

All fine architectural values are human values, else not valuable.

Less is only more where more is no good.

Organic architecture seeks superior sense of use and a finer sense of comfort, expressed in organic simplicity.

I hate intellectuals. They are from the top down. I am from the bottom up.

Art for art’s sake is a philosophy of the well-fed.

As we live and as we are, Simplicity—with a capital “S”—is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is a more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.

—FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, The Natural House

Frank’s words resonate with us on that human, personal level, and like the designs of his buildings, his syntax is intentionally clean and minimal.

Arguably the greatest architect of the 20th century desired a Simple heart—Simplicity in all aspects of his life—and like him, I think the answer to our complex questions (and our fraught, complex lives) is much simpler than we imagine. Will knowing this (even agreeing with it) change anything? Maybe not now. But later? With your last breath in earth? Yes. You’ll know. Have the courage while it still matters.


Feature image copyright © 2014 Bauhaus2YourHouse

The Newest Version of Familiar

Experiment with change. New experiences become familiar surprisingly quickly. Replacing old, familiar reactions with new, intentional responses seems extra challenging to overcome. These thought processes are comfortable and second-nature and even if we can acknowledge they don’t always reflect well on us, it’s hard to subvert what we know.

A simple example would be mumbling a response rather than speaking clearly. The remedy is awareness, at least at first. The why isn’t important. Determining you’ve acquired mumbling as a type of vernacular from your parents or possibly as a result of your uncertainty of others’ desire to listen doesn’t change that fact that you’re a habitual mumbler.

What matters is how to stop mumbling and communicate better. Take note of the instances when/where you’re mumbling. Don’t try fixing the habit, just notice when it happens. Be consistent with noticing. Just see yourself in the situation: there you are, mumbling and leaving your sentences unfinished. It’s not worth getting hung up on how often/severely you mumble, just watch.

Once you’ve gained a handle on the ability to “watch” yourself when you mumble, it’s a smooth transition into watching yourself speak clearly. You are now aware you don’t mumble anymore. After a while it won’t be something new. You’ll become a habitual non-mumbler without thinking twice.


The new feminist is the non-feminist. This is the person who stops pointing out the false binary that is feminism: girl power, girl anything. You want equality, you want justice, you want to be heard? Me too. But I don’t want feminist power (girl power?), I want power. I don’t want a female voice, I want a voice. I don’t need to claim my gender proudly as if I have a stake in making it significant. My gender doesn’t matter, or at least it shouldn’t have to. I matter, and I’m looking forward to the day when all women everywhere won’t have to respond “me too” (to turn the hashtag on its preverbal head), because the fact will be implied, the conversation over. We’re living through a turning point in feminist history–human history–soon it won’t be the [x] feminist movement because the very concept of feminism will seem obsolete, kind of irrelevant. Women and young girls won’t have to march through our streets carrying signs that say, “Girls can do anything,” because that will be like saying, “Humans can breathe.” Of course they can, what’s the big deal?

That’s why we’re marching and making people uncomfortable and messing up the status quo. We’re feminists now so that soon we won’t have to be.

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.

Rebecca West, Young Rebecca: Writings, 1911-1917

A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.

Gloria Steinem

Moderately Improve

It’s January, go ahead. Maybe this won’t be a year-long marathon of self-transformation, though. Maybe this year will be more like multiple sprints. Can’t cut the sugar? What about one day a week? I bet that’s possible to maintain over a year, and that’s 52 days that you kept the commitment. Will you see real improvement? Maybe not, but worst case scenario you’ll become moderately better at keeping a resolution.

Although, be skeptical of self-improvement. Time management is the real focus, not you. Don’t strive for an ideal self, it’s overrated and kind of nonexistent. But basic time management skills? That’s a real game changer. Even moderately better time management gives you the handle on a life completely out of grasp in 2017. And I’ll give you a hint: less is more.

I think of this in terms of creativity. It’s a practice that requires a lot of time. I’ve been avoiding creative pursuits, alluding to lack of time, because that leaves my potential a mystery and saves me from failure/disappointment/frustration. I could be better at [x] if I wanted, “just not right now.”

This year is about time management, replacing the blah with the ‘this makes me feel human.’ For one afternoon a week, I’m going to do a creative sprint, 52 sprints in 2018. That’s moderate improvement.

You may not attain the highest height with one leap but my dear; you will reach your destination.

Jaachynma N.E. Agu, The Prince and the Pauper

Higher Standards

Whatever you decide, don’t let it be because you don’t think you have a choice.

Hannah Harrington

It’s not just about saving money. If you want to encourage the production of quality, don’t buy cheap. Yes, you can go to Walmart or Target and get 25 pieces of clothes and save some cash, but you’re going to keep them for a year or two tops, and then you’ll need/want something else.

Cycling through clothing every couple of years is your choice, but unless you expect to grow or shrink, it’s not the best choice you can make. It’s about quantity, sure, but getting more doesn’t mean better, it just means more. You can listen to the industry that encourages the massive consumption of cheap stuff with little value, or you can maintain a small closet of just the things you love because you understand the quality behind them. Clothes are just one example. Keep the highest standards you can and witness the changes your choices create.

It’s our choices that matter in the end. Not wishes, not words, not promises.

Alexandra Bracken, Passenger

Day Trading

Seth Godin wrote a great post this week and I’d like to add some thoughts about day trading/tracking–what bitcoin owners might be tempted to do as a result of bitcoin’s volatility.

When anything of value strings out our emotions–unpredictable highs and lows–we find ourselves obsessing. Bitcoin is just an example, though. If we’re aware enough to watch for it, we can see where volatility exists in our lives and where we create it. Sometimes we like the unpredictable highs and lows, even if we don’t realize it.

What throws you off? What do you day trade or try to track for a sense of security even when you know you have no control over a given situation? Focus on what you can control, namely, the attention and emotions currently focusing on your version of pointless day trading.

The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.

Gordon B. Hinckley