July 23

by Kelsi in , , , , , , ,


 

Last week we broke ground on a long-anticipated dream project, the building of our backyard studio, which will be a work/art space for my husband. Our little one car garage was demolished to kick it off…

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While watching the demo I made Pamela Salzman’s grain-free chocolate zucchini cake (which is crazy good by the way). My happy version of multi-tasking…

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Speaking of cake, Simple Cake by Odette Williams is a wonderful book and one I’d highly recommend for your library whether you consider yourself a baker or not…

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I’m really enjoying this turmeric tonic from Further Food. I blend a scoop of it with cold water and a little honey syrup (recipe for honey syrup here) and then drink it over ice with my favorite glass straw

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I’ve had a lot on my plate the last few weeks and my advanced food prep has been lagging. Thankfully I’ve found a go-to protein powder that I love and helps me get by if I have nothing to grab before walking out the door. I mix one scoop of this Amazing Grass Protein Superfood and two scoops of Vital Proteins Collagen with 12oz of orange juice and whip it up in the Vitamix for an easy and satiating breakfast. And on really long teaching days when I don’t have a break between clients I will make a double batch and bring it to the studio in this 32oz insulated Klean Kanteen

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This Tony's Chocolonely Almond Sea Salt bar is my absolute favorite chocolate and I always have a few bars on hand…

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I just bought several sheets of these beautiful Ellsworth Kelly stamps

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My husband and I both carry around this Memento Mori as a daily reminder to be present and focus on what really matters.

“Meditating on your mortality is only depressing if you miss the point. It is in fact a tool to create priority and meaning. It’s a tool that generations have used to create real perspective and urgency. To treat our time as a gift and not waste it on the trivial and vain. Death doesn’t make life pointless but rather purposeful. And fortunately, we don’t have to nearly die to tap into this. A simple reminder can bring us closer to living the life we want.”

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I am a big fan of Stoicism and recommend signing up for The Daily Stoic which is put together by Ryan Holiday (he has a book by the same name). His other books The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy are also worth a read…

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Wendy Whelan’s line to live by is one I live by too…

Energy produces energy.
Photo via    La Ligne

Photo via La Ligne

Lastly, Esther Perel’s On Being conversation is a delight to listen to…

Photo via    On Being

Photo via On Being

One of my favorite parts near the end of the conversation:

When I say, “The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives,” it’s because I do think that the bonds and the connections that we forge with others give us a greater sense of meaning and happiness and wellbeing than just about any other thing — when it’s good, because it can be exactly the opposite, huh?

And now it’s like, how much are you investing in your relationships? And I find that, often, people don’t. They talk about “my partner is my best friend,” and they treat them like shit. They talk about “my friend,” and they haven’t seen that person or talked to that person in years. It’s like, no, you can’t just do it like that. You can’t be lazy. You can’t be complacent about this and put all your energies at work and bring the leftovers home — and all of that stuff.

Or I have this question I’ve been playing with lately, and I just asked it in Sydney. I was like, “How many of you go to bed, and the last thing you touch is your phone? OK, stand up. And how many of you, the first thing you stroke in the morning when you wake up is your phone? Please stand up. And how many of you are doing this while there actually is another person lying next to you in bed?” That’s ambiguous loss, by the way. I’m like, seriously? Seriously?

So that’s what I am trying to address at this point; it’s like, interestingly, we don’t look at relational health enough. We don’t connect it to mental health. We don’t connect it to our overall physical health. And we certainly don’t connect it enough to our societal health, if we want to really go bigger. It’s not the freedom that is our problem. It’s not the fact that we have choice, but they have always gone together with responsibility, with accountability.

You can see more of Esther Perel in her TED talk from a few years back and read her book Mating in Captivity.

 

Spring!

by Kelsi in , , , , , , ,


 

It is Spring! The chives and tarragon in the garden are pushing through the dirt. I have my work cut out for me with the insane amount of weeds to pull but with the beautiful days we’ve been having I hardly mind.

Lucas’ Papaw Ointment is my new go-to multipurpose salve for chapped lips, cuticles, scrapes and garden splinters…

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I’ve been transitioning my winter clothes out and adding a few new things to the mix like this Clare V midi sac that I can’t stop wearing…

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I’ve also added the Clare V framed Flore handbag to my birthday wishlist…

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I recently found the perfect size pocket notepad with tear away sheets from Rifle Paper Co to carry with me for my endless list making…

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And these Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens are becoming my new favorite…

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This Patagonia woolie pullover has been wonderful for cutting the chill when it’s too warm to wear a jacket…

One of the biggest highlights this month is I finally started taking sewing classes at Drygoods Design. My husband gave me the trilogy class series which was on my personal xmas wishlist. The space is gorgeous, the fabric selection is killer (see the Japanese cotton I bought for my tote below) and the small classes are a delight…

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If you go check out the shop in Pioneer Square I’d also highly recommend going to Elm Coffee Roasters for a latte with their house-made hazelnut milk, maybe swing by Jujubeet Cafe and order the avocado toast on the gluten-free bread from Nuflours and then head up Jackson to Kobo in the International District. Last time I was there I picked up this rad nightlight for our bathroom made by Boy Designs

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The new mantra on the letterboard at home is courtesy of the wonderful On Being conversation with neuroscientist Richard Davidson

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And along the same line of thinking I am really digging Atomic Habits by James Clear

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He is spot on articulating what I personally believe and try to embody on how making seemingly inconsequential small adjustments every day can be incredibly powerful and help us become our best selves.

“It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.”

This sentence is my favorite:

Progress requires unlearning. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your believes and to upgrade and expand your identity.

And for an incredible example of how small things lead to big things and how we can expand the limitations we often set for ourselves on what is possible, go watch The Dawn Wall on Netflix…

 

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

by Kelsi in , ,


 

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language—to give a name to emotions we all might experience but don’t yet have a word for.

All words in this dictionary are new. They were not necessarily intended to be used in conversation, but to exist for their own sake; to give a semblance of order to a dark continent, so you can settle it yourself on your own terms, without feeling too lost—safe in the knowledge that we’re all lost.”

 

Free Solo

by Kelsi in ,


 

Last year I simply posted this when news broke that Alex Honnold had climbed El Capitan without ropes. You can now go see the film about his awe-inspiring achievement…

On June 3, 2017, Alex Honnold free soloed the Freerider route of El Capitan in three hours and 56 minutes. It wasn’t an act of recklessness but of the kind of planning worthy of a moon landing. It wasn’t an act of selfishness but an extraordinary gift to everyone who believes that the limit of human achievement is far from being reached. It wasn’t a useless stunt but a reminder that utility alone is a poor way to measure the grandeur of one man’s spirit.

From here.

 

Busy is a Decision

by Kelsi in , ,


 

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?

My billboard would say this: “Busy is a decision.” Here’s why: Of the many, many excuses people use to rationalize why they can’t do something, the excuse “I am too busy” is not only the most inauthentic, it is also the laziest. I don’t believe in “too busy.” Like I said, busy is a decision. We do the things we want to do, period. If we say we are too busy, it is shorthand for “not important enough.” It means you would rather be doing something else that you consider more important. That “thing” could be sleep, it could be sex, or it could be watching Game of Thrones. If we use busy as an excuse for not doing something what we are really, really saying is that it’s not a priority.

Simply put: You don’t find the time to do something; you make the time to do things.

We are now living in a society that sees busy as a badge. It has become cultural cachet to use the excuse “I am too busy,” as a reason for not doing anything we don’t feel like doing. The problem is this: if you let yourself off the hook for not doing something for any reason, you won’t ever do it. If you want to do something, you can’t let being busy stand in the way, even if you are busy. Make the time to do things you want to do and then do them.

- Debbie Millman

From Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

 

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

by Kelsi in , ,


 
The most radical thing about him was his unwavering commitment to the value of kindness in the face of the world that could seem intent on devising new ways to be mean. “Let’s make the most of this beautiful day,” he would sing at the start of each episode. He made it sound so simple, but also as if he knew just how hard it could be.

"What Mister Rogers tried to teach us — how to navigate “some of the more difficult modulations” in everyday life — might now be classified as emotional literacy. He acknowledged that anger, fear and other kinds of hurt are part of the human repertoire and that children need to learn to speak honestly about those feelings, and to trust the people they share them with."

Read the whole NYT review here

 

It's the weekend...

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

Finally, some sunshine is arriving in Seattle which is welcome news for us sun-starved Seattleites. It has been a bit bleak the last few weeks...

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I'm going to celebrate by wearing my new Clare V x TOMS leopard espadrilles (seen below). See the whole collection here...

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I likely won't wear them this week but I took advantage of Loeffler Randall's Friends + Family sale last week and finally pulled the trigger on these silver beauties that I have been eyeing the last six months. They are so soft and even more gorgeous in person...

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I've really been enjoying this adaptogenic take on a thai iced tea. Thrive Market has the best price on Sun Potion products by the way. And if you're not making your own, this Aroy-D coconut milk is my favorite one...

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Every time a DWR catalog arrives I linger on the LOLL lounge chairs. Some day I'd love to have a pair of these on the patio...

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I've been wanting to make these beautiful pancakes from Heidi Swanson and I think tomorrow is the day...

Image from 101 Cookbooks

Image from 101 Cookbooks

Last week I finally watched Franca: Chaos and Creation and loved every minute of it. I might queue it up again this weekend...

Photograph by Francesco Carrozzini via  Departures

Photograph by Francesco Carrozzini via Departures

I also am watching this tonight once the kiddo is in bed...

It is likely that I will be mixing up a margarita to enjoy in the sunshine at some point this weekend, but tonight I am drinking a glass of my favorite "house wine" that I've been buying locally at PCC (I have Olaiya to thank for the recommendation). And since I'm solo for dinner tonight (and my husband hates mushrooms) I'm looking forward to making this pea and mushroom sauté from Pamela Salzman that I will devour in peace.

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Living with Spaciousness

by Kelsi in , ,


Krista Tippett's conversation with Naomi Shihab Nye is one of the On Being conversations that I have listened to multiple times. Listening this time around it was this part about "living with spaciousness" that stuck with me the most...

MS. TIPPETT: Well, so — I’m very interested in general in this question of what poetry works in us. But I think even that question itself holds the implication that poetry is something separate, something distinct. But it seems that, in your sensibility, you see it as very organic. I mean, there’s — I think it was in some of your writing for poems by children, you said, “I do think that all of us think in poems.”

MS. SHIHAB NYE: I do. I do think that. And I think that is very important, not feeling separate from text, feeling sort of your thoughts as text or the world as it passes through you as a kind of text. The story that you would be telling to yourself about the street, even as you walk down it, or as you drive down it, as you look out the window, the story you would be telling — it always seemed very much to me, as a child, that I was living in a poem, that my life was the poem. And in fact, at this late date, I have started putting that on the board of any room I walk into that has a board.

I just came back from Japan a month ago, and in every classroom, I would just write on the board, “You are living in a poem.” And then I would write other things just relating to whatever we were doing in that class. But I found the students very intrigued by discussing that. “What do you mean, we’re living in a poem?” Or, “When? All the time, or just when someone talks about poetry?” And I’d say, “No, when you think, when you’re in a very quiet place, when you’re remembering, when you’re savoring an image, when you’re allowing your mind calmly to leap from one thought to another, that’s a poem. That’s what a poem does.” And they liked that.

And a girl, in fact, wrote me a note in Yokohama on the day that I was leaving her school that has come to be the most significant note any student has written me in years. She said, “Well, here in Japan, we have a concept called ‘yutori.’” And it is spaciousness. It’s a kind of living with spaciousness. For example, it’s leaving early enough to get somewhere so that you know you’re going to arrive early, so when you get there, you have time to look around. Or — and then she gave all these different definitions of what yutori was to her.

But one of them was — and after you read a poem just knowing you can hold it, you can be in that space of the poem. And it can hold you in its space. And you don’t have to explain it. You don’t have to paraphrase it. You just hold it, and it allows you to see differently. And I just love that. I mean, I think that’s what I’ve been trying to say all these years. I should have studied Japanese. [laughs] Maybe that’s where all our answers are. In Japanese.


How to Break Up With Your Phone

by Kelsi in , , , , , ,


 

I'm not sure where I first saw the image below but it resonated strongly with me. Often when I have a break teaching and walk down to the coffee shop I pass person after person looking down, only to open the door to a room full of people again looking down, and stand in line to order my coffee behind a handful of people each one, again, looking down...

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Our lives are what we pay attention to.

I hope this slim and life-changing book by Catherine Price becomes as ubiquitous as another slim and life-changing book I love. Read more about it here and also here.

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At home we follow a 24 hour "tech sabbath" beginning Friday at 8pm until Saturday at 8pm (which Price mentions) which has been a game changer. I first learned about the idea of a "tech sabbath" from Tiffany Shlain and her converstation with Krista Tippett.

Do yourself (and your kids) a favor and read this book.

 

Brain Pickings - 10 Learnings

by Kelsi in ,


 

The following list is written by the incredible Maria Popova of her incredible site Brain Pickings (I also mentioned her here). I can never get over how much she reads, researches, and contemplates and how she can articulate it all so beautifully.

"Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Mostly, it’s a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life."

This is a list to revisit often, and a "code" to live by.

***

1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. Cultivate that capacity for “negative capability.” We live in a culture where one of the greatest social disgraces is not having an opinion, so we often form our “opinions” based on superficial impressions or the borrowed ideas of others, without investing the time and thought that cultivating true conviction necessitates. We then go around asserting these donned opinions and clinging to them as anchors to our own reality. It’s enormously disorienting to simply say, “I don’t know.” But it’s infinitely more rewarding to understand than to be right — even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology, or, above all, yourself.

2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. As Paul Graham observed, “prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.” Those extrinsic motivators are fine and can feel life-affirming in the moment, but they ultimately don’t make it thrilling to get up in the morning and gratifying to go to sleep at night — and, in fact, they can often distract and detract from the things that do offer those deeper rewards.

3. Be generous. Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words. It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator. Always remember there is a human being on the other end of every exchange and behind every cultural artifact being critiqued. To understand and be understood, those are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.

4. Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.

Most important, sleep. Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking momentdictates our social rhythm, and even mediates our negative moods. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?

5. When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as important, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. You are the only custodian of your own integrity, and the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you.

6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living — for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” This is borrowed from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman, for it’s hard to better capture something so fundamental yet so impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy. The myth of the overnight success is just that — a myth — as well as a reminder that our present definition of success needs serious retuning. As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.

8. Seek out what magnifies your spirit. Patti Smith, in discussing William Blake and her creative influences, talks about writers and artists who magnified her spirit — it’s a beautiful phrase and a beautiful notion. Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance.

9. Don’t be afraid to be an idealist. There is much to be said for our responsibility as creators and consumers of that constant dynamic interaction we call culture — which side of the fault line between catering and creating are we to stand on? The commercial enterprise is conditioning us to believe that the road to success is paved with catering to existing demands — give the people cat GIFs, the narrative goes, because cat GIFs are what the people want. But E.B. White, one of our last great idealists, was eternally right when he asserted half a century ago that the role of the writer is “to lift people up, not lower them down” — a role each of us is called to with increasing urgency, whatever cog we may be in the machinery of society. Supply creates its own demand. Only by consistently supplying it can we hope to increase the demand for the substantive over the superficial — in our individual lives and in the collective dream called culture.

10. Don’t just resist cynicism — fight it actively. Fight it in yourself, for this ungainly beast lays dormant in each of us, and counter it in those you love and engage with, by modeling its opposite. Cynicism often masquerades as nobler faculties and dispositions, but is categorically inferior. Unlike that great Rilkean life-expanding doubt, it is a contracting force. Unlike critical thinking, that pillar of reason and necessary counterpart to hope, it is inherently uncreative, unconstructive, and spiritually corrosive. Life, like the universe itself, tolerates no stasis — in the absence of growth, decay usurps the order. Like all forms of destruction, cynicism is infinitely easier and lazier than construction. There is nothing more difficult yet more gratifying in our society than living with sincerity and acting from a place of largehearted, constructive, rational faith in the human spirit, continually bending toward growth and betterment. This remains the most potent antidote to cynicism. Today, especially, it is an act of courage and resistance.