Archive for the ‘Other Good Stuff’ Category

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years engrossed in my work spending much of that time at a frenized pace and wrapped up in the priorities set for my position – mostly by others. This blog started as a way for me to write about and enjoy again some of the things that I love doing, but have seriously neglected in my life. It’s rapidly becoming much more to me…


With my return to writing, I’ve found a voice again in my own life. I’ve given myself permission to pursue my own path, regardless of whether it is practical or realistic, and to shed the (real and perceived) expectations of others. I’ve lived this way before, but I took a detour away from this approach to cultivating my life. Why? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m not sure that it matters either. Maybe clarity will come in time. What matters is the ability to keep this focus in the future.


As I mentioned previously, changes are afoot. Some are technical, but all will reflect this shift (or return) in my mentality and my commitment to living a life that gives pride of place to enjoying the things I’ve written about here.  The blog changes will also broaden the scope by following my ongoing process of living a cultivated life full of passion and meaning.


I’m expecting to roll out the redesigned, reimagined blog around Labor Day – fitting since it’s the fruit of much labor! – but the details are still somewhat in flux. Thank you for bearing with me through this transition. I hope you will enjoy the results.


Sincere thanks,


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“Studies of hunter-gather societies show that a person’s turf helps provide identity, privacy, intimacy, and protection from stress.  One reason our homes are so precious to us – and being homeless is so debilitating – is that every time we cross the threshold, we wrap ourselves in a cozy protective  mantle of memories that helps sustain our persona.” The Power of Place, by Winifred Gallagher.


As you may know, I have been reading The Power of Place and thinking a lot lately about my personal space – both my physical location in Dallas and my personal space at home. I love to travel, but I don’t desire to be a digital nomad for any longer than the length of my next trip.  That connotations of being location independent (or maybe location flexible) are more appealing to me since my work can really be done anywhere I have an internet connection, but I still want the benefits that a dedicated home has to offer.   

I don’t think that being location independent means that one should have to do without the benefits of feeling at home either.  I’m intrigued by what makes a place really feel like home, what makes it more likely to provide the “cozy protective mantle” that gives relief at the end of the day when you finally cross that threshold.  What do you think? What does being home mean to you?


My Favorite Apartment

I remember clearly the feeling of coming home to my tiny 600 square foot apartment in Washington, D.C. after traveling somewhere – dropping my luggage near the door, collapsing onto my tiny green couch to enjoy a few minutes of interrupted quiet, and thinking “I’m home.”  There was nothing inherently beautiful about this apartment.  I rolled out of bed in the morning directly into my tiny galley kitchen, the air conditioner sounded like an airplane ready for liftoff, and the place was really drafty.  Admittedly, the location of the apartment was great – five blocks due west of the White House, a few blocks north of the Lincoln monument, and around the corner from my classes at GW law.  I’ve lived in a bunch of different apartments since this studio in DC, and most have never evoked the same feeling despite the additional space, amenities, and often cheaper price. 


Making My House Into a Home

About a year ago, I bought my first house.  Needless to say, I have learned a lot in a year about the cost and effort of maintaining the physical structure.  Now I’m focusing more of my energy on creating this feeling of home and changing my physical space.  What I do know is that too much stuff can stifle any feeling of comfort, relief, or creativity.  I have focused on the outside of the house, so now I needed to focus on the interior and some home organization.  So I have begun to eliminate excess clutter from my space.  One garage sale, two eBay postings, and a big trip to Half Price Books later, my space is feeling homier again.


10 Clutter Busting Tips

 As a part of the larger effort to rid my life of excess stuff, I’m still working on improving at these things.  Like balance or being present in the moment, ongoing effort is required, and I don’t ever expect to feel finished with this effort.  There are still a few more piles to go through, and there always will be.  These tips are a little rigid for me, but I think they hit all the important points.  I’ve used tips #1, 5, 9, and 10, but the rest are where I’ve got room for improvement!  I think the most important tipis probably #2.  Never let it get too bad!  What do you think?  Any other tips to offer?

  1. Open your mail over the trash 
  2. Do a daily 5 minute cleanup
  3. File newspapers and magazines once a week
  4. Purge wire hangers monthly
  5. Clear closets yearly
  6. Arrange wardrobe by type
  7. Fold sheet sets inside one of the pillow cases
  8. Don’t overstuff drawers
  9. Eliminate unused items in kitchen
  10. Make a list before you shop

Originally from www.dominomag.com.

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The TEDGlobal conference is going on this week in Oxford, England, and I’m wishing I was there.  Another thing to add to my bucket list!  It doesn’t take much for me to wish I was abroad.  Getting excited about about travelling is nothing new, but anyone who knows me well would agree that this event sounds right up my alley — intellectually engaging, a variety of great topics, and located in historical Oxford.  When I was living and working in London for a summer, I visited my friend Emily in Oxford where she was studying for the summer.  I’ve only seen it during the summer, which must be relatively calm compared to other bustling times of the year, but it struck me as a perfect place for learning and contemplation…

In case, you don’t know anything about TED yet, the best part (for those of us not in attendance) is that they make all the speeches given available online within 24 hours of the speech.  There’s also a spot on the website to follow tweets using #TED.

“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year’s TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.”  For more information, click here.

Check out the program to see the line of speakers. I’m looking forward to watching: 

  • Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO
  • Daniel Pink, author and career analyst
  • Paulus Terwitte, a Capuchin monk

Two of my past favorite speeches are Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity and  Sir Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity.

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I am currently in the middle of an extended purge of the unnecessary things cluttering up my space – both literally and figuratively.  Having once loaded up all of my possessions into the trunk of my car and moved from Dallas to DC with nothing else, I still harbor the probably unrealistic belief that I could do it again.  I love the house I live in with great furniture and things acquired along the way, but for the right reasons I’d easily forgo these creature comforts that I’ve accumulated.  


Even though I come from a long line of  packrats, I have to admit that I truly love a good purge!  I’ve learned over the years that I have a tendency to get caught up in the moment of cleaning out spaces and getting rid of things… Later I tend to find that in my zeal I’ve gotten rid of something I wish I hadn’t.  The best fix I’ve found for this is putting anything questionable into one box.  If in a certain amount of time (i.e. 6 months), I haven’ gone looking for it or decided conclusively that I want to keep it, then off to charity it goes.  Any other suggestions?


For a little inspiration on this topic, check out this post on uncluttering your creative spaceby Zoë Westhof of the blog Essential Prose.

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Yesterday was the 16th day of 100+ degrees of heat in North Texas this summer, and it’s only mid July.  That number is roughly the number of days we typically get in a full summer…  This is my least favorite time of year in Texas by far, and it has me thinking about the importance of place and location in our daily lives.  The picture above is of the living room of the 5th floor walk-up apartment I lived in with my host family in Copenhagen, Denmark.  I was a complete beginner with my brand new (non-digital) camera and thought adding the date to the pictures was a great feature.  Needless to say, I was annoyed when I finally got home and had the film developed.  It’s a time and place of which I have very fond memories. For me it’s evocative of all the things that my time abroad included – excitement, novelty, and friendship – along with the crisp air and the cross breeze blowing through the open windows on the fifth floor.  It was a great place to live while exploring Europe and neglecting my grades… Below is a picture of the building across from ours covered in fall leaves. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of it so that I wouldn’t forget.   


scan0004As somewhat of an observer by nature, I may be more sensitive than most to my surroundings, but I’ve always believed that they influence our lives way more than we might expect.  I recently came across a book addressing exactly this premise… It’s a very interesting book – called The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions by Winifred Gallagher.*  She discusses the impact on human life of light (or lack thereof), temperature (extreme heat and cold), and even various levels of stimulation (from quiet environments to bustling cities). I’m only part of the way through the book, but I’ll be interested to share my thoughts about it along the way… 


*Note: If you’ve heard about Gallagher lately (maybe in the current issue of Real Simple), it’s not because of this book.  It’s because of her new book called Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, which has been reviewed in the New York Times and the Washington Post, among others.  I’m very interested to read it next.

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A recent op-ed article in the the New York Times by David Brooks called The Way We Live Now discuss what is required to achieve the level of success of the current Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor.   Today I’m not thinking about the scales of justice or the content of her decisions, but the scales of elusive personal balance and the amount of sacrifice required along each step of the way to get where Sotomayor is now.  
Not surprisingly Brooks points to periods in Sotomayer’s life where her relationships were strong and other periods where they were limited at best.  Its sad to think that this is what’s required of those seeking the highest levels of success, but I think that most entrepreneurs, executives in corporate America, lawyers, and doctors would say this rings true with their experience.  It rings true for me already.  Regardless of the content or substance of their jobs, I am truly thankful for women who are willing to make the personal sacrifices necessary to keep the glass ceiling elevated and to continue to push it higher and higher!  I also applaud women who are honest about these trade offs and don’t perpetuate the “you can have it all” myth. 
Balance is definitely elusive, and maybe it’s just an illusion.  Maybe we shouldn’t even strive for it since “[b]alanced people don’t usually change the world“?  There are only so many hours in a day, days in a month, months in a year, and we each have choices and decisions to make about what to do with our time and energy.  That much I know.

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Where oh where did my morning go?  I had grand plans of getting up early and getting some writing done.  I have plenty of great things to write about.  I’ve been busy even though I haven’t been writing about it, but this morning I woke up with an impending sense of disorganization and a feeling that my day was spiraling out of control already… 


Cape Cod Hydrangeas: Is this too much to ask for??

Cape Cod Hydrangeas: Is this too much to ask for??

I’ve been feeling this way for the last couple of days actually. Maybe it has to do with all the unexpected things that have already come up at work this week or the fact that I know the rest of the week is going to fly by since I’m booked up with meetings and projects from this morning through close of business on Friday.  I don’t know exactly what it is, and I haven’t completely shaken this feeling yet.  Normally, I’m much better at rolling with the punches than this!


When I feel this way, I tend to exert control over the things I can control – my immediate surroundings.  It almost always makes me feel better!  Since my house had gotten a little messy too, I started by making sure things were in their places.  I made the bed.  I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher.  I put in a load of laundry.  I had my morning coffee. I checked on the sad hydrangea that I planted on Sunday afternoon and watered it – again.  I sent an email to my father (the family plant expert) asking for “Help!” to save said hydrangea and consulted Google to no avail. Yet. I picked up and organized the piles of paper I accumulate.  And, I marveled at my newly organized pantry with new spice jars (above), a recent weekend project that’s almost complete!  If anything can make me feel grounded and centered it’s organization!  I’m feeling much better now and ready to conquer the day!   

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