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Even if your work feels mundane, there’s a way to find meaning in it

In Japan, phenomenal customer service is not limited to just high-end luxury shops and hotels. If you walk into any regular store, you will likely be greeted by an employee who will politely welcome you in, bow to you, and rush to help you as soon as they realize you need assistance. Their uniforms are crisp, clean, and appearance clearly cared for. The shelves are put together, the products aligned and organized. …

There’s a reason we’re drawn to the wild, especially when it feels far away

Illustration: Draden Ferguson

One morning on a hike in my neighborhood, a massive gray bobcat emerged from the bushes and onto the trail in front of me. I dug my heels into the ground and tugged on my dog’s leash, but she was too busy sniffing a rock to notice. Some bodyguard.

The bobcat stared back at me with wide, yellow eyes, like a startled housecat. I took a step closer, but a voice snapped me out of it. “What are you doing?!” my husband whispered from behind. “We gotta get out of here!”

It’s not uncommon to see wildlife where I live…

When you acknowledge the weight you’re carrying, every step feels important

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

In the past year, many of us have had to alter, expand, or completely re-conceptualize the definition of progress to make room for the daily tasks that, one or two years ago, wouldn’t have appeared remotely noteworthy. You watered all of your plants? Congratulations. You finished reading that book you bought in 2016? Huge.

Planning to run a marathon or even organizing a jam-packed social weekend might have once seemed easily in your grasp, but changing realities require adjustments to our capacities. …

If you think you’re getting me back in zippy pants, you have another thing coming, good sir

Photo: John M Lund Photography Inc/Getty Images

The pandemic ain’t over, but it’s getting there. We have vaccines, and though it fees like we’re rolling them out at the speed at which our grandmothers used to speak to grocery store cashiers, we can all see the sliver of light at the end of the syringe.

A year in isolation has taught us many things, from how much bullshit there was in “no WFH” policies to how many of us could have had careers in professional kitchens. For me, the biggest lesson has been learning exactly what I’ll tolerate in my life going forward. This time has forced…

Three lessons on how to handle adversity while feeling your feelings

A tree shaped by the wind
A tree shaped by the wind
Photo: Melanie Hobson/EyeEm/Getty Images

I used to think resilience was a tool I just didn’t have. I can be an easy crier. How can one cry frequently and also be resilient? When we think of resilience, we imagine stoic faces, superhero power poses, and triumphant fists in the air. If we do a Google image search for “resilience,” a person shedding tears certainly does not come up.

I don’t think that anymore. It’s a realization that has come from time and age more than any single aha moment, but I know now that — much like how courage is not the absence of fear

You have to overcome your brain, which is literally trying to keep you alive

U.S. President Donald Trump’s supporters outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In one way, the trauma you may be feeling from the past 48 hours is a good thing: It means your brain is trying to keep you safe.

We are wired to crave information that has a survival benefit. As our species evolved over roughly 2.5 million years, a laser-like focus on potential dangers helped us avoid death. A Homo sapien who lived 150,000 years ago and focused on, say, how beautiful the trees looked instead of the predator lurking within those trees? They became dinner. …

Watching the events of yesterday, I burst into hysterical laughter

Photo: Amblin Entertainment

Taps microphone. Coming to you live seven days into the new year, I would like to state for the record that I have lost it. I don’t even know what “it” is, but it isn’t here anymore, can confirm.

My completely natural response to the events of yesterday was hysterical laughter to the point of tears. And I mean hysterical. The sound of my laughter was unfamiliar to me. It was like a DC villain was commandeering my mouth. My hands were permanently placed in the air like the “I don’t know” emoji. You know when you’re in a Halloween…

Creativity is a continuum

Taylor Swift performs onstage during the 55th Academy of Country Music Awards at the Grand Ole Opry on September 16, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: ACMA2020/Getty Images for ACM

Taylor Swift’s pandemic productivity — two albums, folklore and evermore; two cinematic videos for the songs “cardigan” and “willow”; a “concert film” — is enough to make us mere mortals feel inadequate. I mean, doesn’t even non-pandemic-era T. Swift make us all feel inadequate?

Yes, as many have pointed out, she makes music for a living, has a lot of support and resources, isn’t dealing with children or online schooling, and, right, is Taylor Swift. That said, I do think we can all take a little something from her high-octane Doing Stuff During Covid energy. “Being productive” is never only…

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing

Woman walking in thin light stripe and looking up, in studio with concrete floor
Woman walking in thin light stripe and looking up, in studio with concrete floor
Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty Images

On a recent Sunday afternoon, while typing emails on an unheated outdoor patio as the temperature descended from “nippy” to “fucking cold,” it occurred to me that there’s no bouncing back from a year like this. The pandemic will end, but our pre-2020 selves are gone forever. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

You’d be forgiven for reading this and thinking, “well yes, duh.” As soon as our worlds shrunk down to household units and pandemic pods, we began planning for who we’d become after this: the priorities we’d re-prioritize, the goals we’d chase down, the dances we’d dance…

Photo: David Buzzard— Images

There’s something weirdly satisfying about saying — and believing — things like “Only one month left in this cursed year.” When something terrible or unbelievable or plain ridiculous happens, we post on Twitter or text our friends, “Wow, that was so 2020.”

And sure, why not? “To make sense of the chaos and uncertainty, our brains look for patterns, an easy way to explain what’s happening,” Jordan Davidson explains in Elemental. “One of those shortcuts: blaming it all on 2020.”

But as Davidson points out, blaming 2020 for, you know, everything, isn’t actually very healthy: “This false hope that the…


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