Five years of digital navel-gazing

March 31st, 2015


“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.”

Ira Glass (full quote text or video version)

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Curated: Dessert mashups and Peeps shows

March 30th, 2015

1. “Above all else, remember that charm is sustainable. It is not finite. Think of it as a bargain-priced, bottomless tub of marshmallow fluff. So take flight and flit from person to person, depositing little glistening, sugary dollops of charm wherever you go.”

Simon Doonan, Charm Offensive

2. Read

These totally brilliant feminist humblebrags

This ambitious Harry Potter fan fiction imagines a world where Harry Potter’s aunt and uncle are decent parent figures.

Netflix is my girlfriend: An essay about how we choose to spend our time

3. Look

I think these photos of Swedish dads with their kids are so lovely.

Peeps show: It’s the time of year when people create elaborate dioramas from marshmallows. (That’s where the top image on this post comes from.)

4. Eat! The Dessert Mashup Edition

A. If you’ve managed to keep your stash of this season’s cookies intact, then here are a few options for Girl Scout cookie recipes.

B. Orange Red Hot Sorbet? This sounds weird but also intriguing. I will probably never remember to buy Red Hots, though.

C. Cinnamon Toast Crunch + Tres Leches Cake = Cereal Milk Tres Leches Cake

Love being boss

March 27th, 2015

I wouldn’t define myself as a creative entrepreneur at this point in my life/career, but I do have a few creative side-hustles (including this blog and my work on Positive365).  Lately, I’ve been digging Love Being Boss, a podcast and private Facebook community dedicated to people who are hustling part-time or full -time in creative ways.

The co-hosts (two kick-ass entrepreneurs named Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon) talk about everything a creative-business-type might need to know, from money to personal branding to fear of failure.

If you’re interested, I recommend you start with:

The Facebook group is totally inspiring, with lots of great discussion from its members about their questions, problems and successes with their work. All of it makes me want to re-commit to some of these side-hustles, write more, edit more, and generally create more. (And get paid for it, too!)





The coils of the day

March 23rd, 2015

“Anyone who has parented a human for more than five minutes has felt the coils of the day wrapping around their insides, making the chest tight and the stomach hungry for nachos. By 9pm, I have no words left. I just want to sit in the dark, watch Michael Scott, and not have to think any intelligent thoughts.

Shark tank idea: a service that comes to your house, gives you a glass of wine, ten minutes of uninhibited dancing, then rubs your back until you fall asleep. (That or someone who just shows up to play with your hair while you binge watch Orange Is The New Black).

A service specifically built to help us unwind.”

Kate Baer, “When you are tightly wound

The Gentlewoman’s Library

March 17th, 2015

Have you heard of The Gentlewoman? It’s a beautiful British magazine that “celebrates modern women of style and purpose” and  features artful black and white photos, interesting interviews and chic fashion ads. It’s printed on thick paper, which makes each issue feel like a special collectible.

My only complaint: It’s really difficult to find in the United States. Big-box stores tend to carry few (if any) copies, and there’s no default way to subscribe (unless you pay costly shipping fees through specialty services). I try to hunt down issues when they come out, but I don’t always succeed.

So I was delighted to realize the magazine has a stash of profiles on the website, including a few gems I’d missed in print. Start with these for your reading pleasure:

  • Adele, who discovered Etta James as a 13-year-old shopping for albums: “I loved the attitude on her face on the cover of the CD. You wouldn’t want to mess with her, she was so fucking fierce. And then I heard her voice, and I nearly died.”
  • Angela Lansbury, who loves making beds and ironing, and has been acting for 60+ years: “It’s so easy to give up or get lazy. It’s worth it to continue to present yourself as a woman of loveliness and dignity, a woman who feels good and knows she’s looking her best.”
  • Isabel Marant, who invented the wedge high-top sneaker trend: “Being a woman designer, for me, is not about fantasy; it’s about dressing women properly with an energy that corresponds to now.”
  • Yoko Ono, who once performed an art piece where the audience cut away her clothing and left her in underwear: “Stay positive, never eat after 8pm, and walk every day.”


Curated: Call Me Ishmael

March 12th, 2015

Found the meaning of life while waiting for a new driver's license…

A photo posted by Suzanne Wilder (@thewilder) on

1. “Yes. I know harrassment exists. The casual cruelty of the world is amplified online. Never be afraid to be you. This is the good fight. There are more people who love you than who heckle. I am one of them.

Even the assholes have a voice. But they must. It is better to hear evil’s hateful blather than to let it plot in silence.

Social media is the closest we will come to being telepaths in a hive. We are Borg, or we will be. Only, hopefully, sexier.”

John DeVore, I love the internet, even though it’s on the internet

2. Multimedia smorgasbord

What if the world had a website, in which someone posted videos that showed the typewritten transcript and audio recording of a voicemail message about a book? WE HAVE THAT NOW. That site is Call Me Ishmael; here’s a good one about Cheryl Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things.

 3. Watch

Have you heard of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? It’s a Netflix-exclusive sitcom from Tina Fey that is 50% heart, 25% New York jokes, 15% rich people jokes and 10% references to the ’90s. And 100% fun to watch.

Bonus: If you’re already watching, here’s a podcast that breaks down what makes the show such a treat. Full disclosure: I worked with one of the hosts at a previous job and I’m friendly with the fine folks at the Addison Recorder.

4. Read

5. Drink!

This Negroni float looks tasty. Can someone bring me pre-made rosemary simple syrup? Because I got the lazies, but I DO want a drink.

Related: What your favorite drink says about you


One-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people pleaser

March 11th, 2015

The truth is, many people see a desire to please people as a weakness. But I don’t see it that way at all. It’s time to start thinking about it as a strength.

We’ve been told by society that it is a negative trait, that it’s a flaw. It’s been perceived that way and reinforced for so long that it’ll take a long time to change that perception. But I truly believe that it can be one of your greatest strengths.

What is wrong with wanting to give? Being positive? Making sure everyone around you is happy? To me, these sound like the furthest things from a “weakness” and it blows my mind why people would want to label it as such.

Gary Vaynerchuk, Being a People Pleaser is a Strength, Not a Weakness

Nerd alert: Lit down under

March 9th, 2015

This spring, I’m trying to follow along with a free literature class from Coursera called Australian Literature: A Rough Guide. I’m a total nerd for reading (have you noticed?) but I’ve never gotten into any sort of Australian literature. I’ll admit my interest may have been piqued from watching a lot of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

I love the idea of massive, online open courses (MOOCs). Free lectures from great professors all over the world? Yes, sign me up! But I struggle with following through on the weekly readings and video lectures on the set schedule. The “learning and discovery” aspect is so enticing, but the “committing to hours of assignments while working full time and raising a toddler” is tricky. Especially when the classes are free and without any human obligation. Still, this is a great chance to explore an enormous body of literature, with guidance from experts and short suggested readings. I’m doing my darnedest to keep up with the syllabus.

Here’s some of the first week’s reading assignment:

Australians are surrounded by ocean and ambushed from behind by desert – a war of mystery on two fronts. What worries us about the sea and the desert? Is it scale or simple silence? Historically we see ourselves as outback types…

We are not sea people by way of being great mariners, but more a coastal people, content on the edge of things. We live by the sea not simply because it is more pleasant to a lazy nation, but because, of the two mysteries the sea is more forthcoming; its miracles and wonders are occasionally more palpable, however inexplicable they be.

(T. Winton,  Land’s Edge)

Now he had tried Western Australia, and had looked at Adelaide and Melbourne. And the vast, uninhabited land frightened him. It seemed so hoary and lost, so unapproachable. The sky was pure, crystal pure and blue, of a lovely pale blue colour: the air was wonderful, new and unbreathed: and there were great distances. But the bush, the grey, charred bush. It scared him. As a poet, he felt himself entitled to all kinds of emotions and sensations which an ordinary man would have repudiated. Therefore he let himself feel all sorts of things about the bush. It was so phantom-like, so ghostly, with its tall pale trees and many dead trees, like corpses, partly charred by bush fires: and then the foliage so dark, like grey-green iron. And then it was so deathly still. Even the few birds seemed to be swamped in silence. Waiting, waiting – the bush seemed to be hoarily waiting. And he could not penetrate into its secret. He couldn’t get at it. Nobody could get at it. What was it waiting for?

(D.H. Lawrence, Kangaroo)

Anyone else interested in reading some literature from the outback?

(Top image via the National Gallery of Australia)

I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum…

March 5th, 2015

I’m a big fan of Wes Anderson’s movies, so I’m snatching up a few of these notebooks inspired by his movies ASAP. (Here’s the Etsy shop that sells them.) 

The one pictured above comes from The Royal Tenenbaums, which is probably at the tip-top of my favorites from Anderson. Gene Hackman hits all the right notes of loving, scheming, charming and overbearing in his role as the family’s patriarch. Add in Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, and narration by Alec Baldwin, plus all that whimsical, eccentric wardrobe and set design… I’m pretty much a sucker for any singular item on this list, but the combination is irresistible.

If you’re already a fan, here are a few things you might not know about The Royal Tenenbaums and here’s a fascinating excerpt from Anjelica Huston’s memoir about her relationship with Jack Nicholson.


Curated: You fluorescent lightbulb of truth

March 3rd, 2015

1. “You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.”

 Amy Poehler in Yes Please 

For me, last week was about saying farewell to Parks and Recreation, the NBC comedy starring Amy Poehler as a loveable, devoted public servant in a small town parks department. (The quote above is from Poehler’s funny recent memoir.)

If you’re already a fan of the show, you may enjoy this commentary about the character everyone loved to tease (but not hate), Larry Jerry Gary Grgich. What I loved about the show is how it celebrated heartfelt relationships between characters, absurd humor from small-town situations, and enough occasional fart jokes to satisfy my inner 12-year-old. Here are a few more gems that I’m clinging to after the show’s finale:

2. Look

This National Geographic photo set appeared just before Valentine’s Day, but I added it to my Pocket list and didn’t get to it for a couple weeks. It’s a great series on picturing love. 

 3. Read

4. Eat!

It’s Girl Scout cookie time. While I prefer to consume mine with milk or hot cocoa, other people may want to pair them with wine. (The abbreviated version is Thin Mint = Pinot Noir or Merlot.)

Top gif by Adam J. Kurtzman, via post emotional