How to Do 50 Things
From drawing a bird to forgiving your ex
A few years ago, I was feeling lost. “Stuck in the weeds” was how I kept referring to my state of existence. A little voice in my head kept telling me, incessantly, “You can’t do anything.” It literally said those words!
One day, I woke up feeling tired of the voice. So I decided to slap back. “Surely I can do some things!” I said out loud. (A word of advice: It’s best to argue with the mean voices in your head in the privacy of your own home.)
I decided to make this a project: I would write about how to do things. Over the past few years, I’ve shared advice on everything from how to substitute eggs and how to do a French braid to how to visit the Chicago Field Museum and how to write Roman numerals. Eventually, I started feeling better. I realized I knew how to do a lot of things! I’d finally gotten unstuck.
Maybe you would also like to get unstuck. So here’s how to do 50 things. Some of these are things I know how to do well. Others I probably have no place offering guidance on. But the project is done. I hope it inspires you to think about what you know how to do. I bet it’s more than you realize.
How to …
1. Name your pets
Ask children for help. They’ll pick a bunch of names you don’t like, like Elsa from Frozen and John Cena, which will make whatever name you pick seem so much better by comparison. We named our cat Norman by choosing the first author we saw on our bookshelf: Norman Donaldson.
2. Wrap a present
It turns out it’s best to do it diagonally. Set the wrapping paper on the ground so it looks like a diamond, and then place your object in the middle. Wrap. You’ll use less paper. When I started reading articles about upcycled gift wrapping, all of the ideas involved cutting things out of tissue paper, using pieces of fabric, and stamping with…