A roundup of some things I've been doing, reading, or enjoying lately.
Every weekend over at TheWorkout.Today, Keeley and I send out "The Weekend Wind Down: A restorative routine intended to provide rest, rejuvenation, and perspective for your mind, body, and spirit." This weekend we wrote about meditation and how we spend our days, and last weekend we wrote about why joint workouts help improve relationships.
Books I've finished so far in 2018:
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
This was an excellent book. Highly recommended for anyone who writes. And even if you don't care about writing, it really is applicable to any sort of purpose-oriented work that involves emotional labor.
We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
This book got good reviews, but I didn't love it. It wasn't boring - I got to the end without putting it down, but there was nothing that was intellectually or emotionally "sticky" for me. In other words, I haven't really had any thoughts or feelings about the book since I put it down.
Discontent and It's Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London by Mohsin Hamid
I've read two of Hamid's fiction books (Exit West and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia) and really enjoyed both of them - they are fast, fun, poignant reads. This book is a non-fiction collection of essays and short writing assignments he has done over the years covering everything from Islam to art to writing to the politics and history of Pakistan. Hamid has lived about a third of his life in Pakistan, a third in Europe, and a third in America, so he has an interesting perspective. I learned a lot about Pakistan, and would definitely recommend this book and his other writing. It is accessible, enjoyable, and beautifully written in his very simple, clear style.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (*almost done)
A true story about death, loss, and coping. I am almost done with this book and very much enjoying it. Didion has a way of elucidating mundane and the everyday details into a rich and vivid portrait of an incredibly difficult year of her life.
Some mini donuts I ate in Crested Butte, Colorado:
Some links I've saved:
Why Are Fees So Important In Determining Investment Returns?
Most investments advisors take "only" a "1% fee." This is a very simple quick explanation of why that can actually mean you are giving away 20% of your profits. Ouch. This is one of the primary reasons I recommend Wealthfront or self-managed portfolios with low-fee index funds.
NYTimes: The Tyranny of Convenience
"Given the growth of convenience — as an ideal, as a value, as a way of life — it is worth asking what our fixation with it is doing to us and to our country .... At the extreme, we don’t actually do anything; we only arrange what will be done, which is a flimsy basis for a life ... We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient — not always, but more of the time."
This article articulates some of what I've been feeling, and one of the reasons I've consciously been building more speed bumps in my life.
Tyler Cowen: Work Habits While Traveling
"Another piece of advice is to try what I call “the work vacation.” Go somewhere — perhaps somewhere dangerous or disgusting — and simply plan to spend your full, normal work/writing day there. Don’t try to see any sights or to meet any locals. Of course you’ll end up going for walks and the like and see and meet them anyway. But with zero pressure and more spontaneously, and in the meantime think of all that work you are getting done. By the end of the trip it will feel like a full vacation anyway, that’s how silly your memory is."
My experience is consistent with Tyler's. I love working vacations.
Sam Altman: E Pur Si Muove
"Earlier this year, I noticed something in China that really surprised me. I realized I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than in San Francisco. I didn’t feel completely comfortable—this was China, after all—just more comfortable than at home.That showed me just how bad things have become, and how much things have changed since I first got started here in 2005. It seems easier to accidentally speak heresies in San Francisco every year. Debating a controversial idea, even if you 95% agree with the consensus side, seems ill-advised."
I personally am glad to see more people speaking out against the thought and speech police that are ruining civil discourse.
Some recipes I've cooked over the past few weeks that I'm saving and will make again:
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas, Feta, and Herbs
Spicy Grilled Shrimp
Crock Pot Pork Butt Roast
Soy Sauce and Butter on Everything
Some things I'm focused on doing less or more off:
- Alcohol - I took all of January off, and now I am trying to take 2 - 3 days off each week.
- Sugar - I am trying to do no-added sugar 6 days per week.
- Social Media - I took all of January off from Facebook and Instagram. I didn't miss 95% of it, and I saved so many mindless hours. It felt great. I have mostly continued my Facebook fast into February and have re-introduced Instagram, but I check it less frequently.
- Pressure to do things - I am trying to be more OK with doing nothing.
- Meditation - I am trying not to be so all-or-nothing about it. Before when I couldn't (or wouldn't) do 20 minutes, I would do nothing. Now I am trying to sneak in little 3 - 10 minute meditations and not feel bad about it.
- Cardio - as the weather warms up a bit, I like to get outside and run around more. It feels good.
- Laughing. Because a good belly laugh just feels damn good. Plus, it's a reminder to never take things too seriously.
Peter Koehler's Writing Archive