Why I Write Pieces I’ll Never Publish

Sun setting over a Tennessee lake

The writing I do falls into three broad categories:  (1) blog posts; (2) pieces that might someday be published (personal essays, poems, fiction); and (3) things I write only for myself (and I suppose the writing I do for work is a fourth category, but that’s a whole different animal).  Today, I’d like to talk about the third category.  What’s the point of writing things that no one else will ever read?

Read more

My Wardrobe Challenge

Clothes hanging in a closet

If you use Pinterest or read women’s magazines or websites, you may have come across this concept:  Turn around all the hangers in your closet.  After you wear something, hang it up with the hanger facing the other direction.  You will easily be able to see which clothes you’ve worn and which you haven’t.  After six months or a year, donate or sell any items you haven’t worn.

It’s not a bad idea, but because I fully Marie Kondo-ed my closet last year (more about that later) and am generally pretty good about regularly purging clothes that are in poor condition or don’t fit well, this concept didn’t seem all that useful to me.  But it sparked a slightly different idea.

Read more

Rethinking Gift-Giving

Oil painting of a cluster of tomatoes at different stages of ripeness and a small ceramic pitcher on a rumpled blue tablecloth
Still Life with Tomatoes, 2009. For details or to purchase, please contact Alexis (contact form in menu bar).

I recently came across this post on gift-giving from Mr. Money Mustache and thought it was worth sharing.  The post is several years old and references Mother’s Day, but it applies to all the occasions on which our culture tells us we are supposed to give gifts.

Ideally, gift-giving should be a way of expressing our appreciation for the people we love, making their day a little brighter, and perhaps easing their burden.  At its worst, gift-giving can become another obligation, and the gifts we give can sometimes add to the burdens of the receiver as well as the giver.  I’ve gone to holiday gatherings without gifts to give and have been embarrassed when others brought gifts for everyone, including me.  The gifts were not personally selected for each individual, but were, I suspect, bought en masse out of either a sense of requirement or a desire for the gift-giver to feel good about herself.  These gifts were not meaningful, but they provoked feelings of guilt and obligation in me.  That is not what gift-giving should do.

Read more

A Curiosity Manifesto

A massive white sculpture of a head in a waterfront park in Seattle

I’ve become convinced that curiosity is the solution to most of our problems, individually and globally.  How can that be, you ask?  How could centuries-old conflicts, climate change, interpersonal strife, and disease epidemics be cured by mere curiosity?  Well, you’re on the path to finding answers simply because you’ve begun by asking questions.

Read more

The Last Man on Earth: What Would You Do?

A rugged, uninhabited mountain landscape

One of my favorite TV shows right now is The Last Man on Earth.  The show’s premise is that a viral outbreak has killed nearly all people and animals, save a few who were immune or unexposed.  At the beginning of the show, we meet Phil Miller, who’s been traveling the country trying to find other survivors after losing everyone he knew.  He’s miserable and lonely, and just when he’s about to give up on life, he meets another survivor, Carol.  As the series progresses, a few others join them.  Phil struggles to adjust to living with people again.  The circumstances bring together dissimilar people who likely would not have crossed paths before the virus, and we watch them try to figure out how to live in this new world.  The show is quirky, funny, creative, and at times poignant, though it’s not as depressing as you might guess.

Read more

Balance for the Busy Millennial

A stacked rock sculpture in a waterfront park in Vancouver

We millennials are a generation of side-hustlers. We pursue multiple careers simultaneously. Some of us maintain day jobs as a financial necessity while we work to make our side gigs profitable, but others really love our full-time professions and just happen to love our after-hours work too. As teens, we were encouraged to be well-rounded and involved in everything. The standard advice was that having varied interests and doing lots of things would make us more appealing to colleges and, later, to employers. We were also told from a young age that we could do anything, and we perhaps internalized that message as being able to do everything. In a way, I suppose I’ve been side-hustling since I got my first part-time job at 14. If you count all of my middle school extracurriculars, my full schedule of simultaneous projects and goals started even earlier.

Read more

Listen to the Music

A pair of wireless ear buds

I’m on year two of my One Line a Day journal, so for the past two and a half months, I’ve received a daily reminder of what I was doing and thinking on that day a year ago.  My March 21, 2016 entry mentioned exchanging favorite Dolly Parton songs with a couple of friends (we were planning a trip to Dollywood) and closed with this line:

“I think listening to music makes me more thoughtful – I should do it more often.”

Read more