June: What I’m into this month

Summer is here and I’m enjoying the long hot days! Here’s what I’m into this month:

  • College reunion. It was fun to go back to Dickinson College this month and stay in the dorms with friends. It’s funny how a trip back to school can make it feel like no time has passed at all…
  • Exploring Queens. I moved to this borough almost a year ago and made a long list of places to check out. I’m slowly making my way through and finding so many great places. I visited MoMA PS1, Brooklyn Boulders Queensbridge and Citifield (thought not for the first time). I’m taking a guitar class at Queens Guitar School and after class, I’ll meet Pete to try a new restaurant in the neighborhood (Astoria). We really like Milkflower and Snowdonia.
  • Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle School. I love a good project and this one from Chris Guillebeau is very compelling. He’s releasing a new podcast every day in 2017 about people and their side hustles. I really love how short each one is (most are <10 minutes) and that he includes quantitative measures of success, like revenue! I’m conflicted about the push for millennials to start a side hustle (more on that another time), but I appreciate this content.
  • The Getting Things Done method from David Allen and reaching Inbox Zero. I’ve heard about this on life hack sites for years and I’m finally reading the book. I haven’t fully committed, but there are great tips for leading a more minimal and organized life.
  • Long walks. I’m trying to get 10,000 steps a day, something that’s disturbingly difficult with an office job. Now that the weather’s nice I try to walk home across Queensboro Bridge or take a walk along the waterfront if I have time after dinner. Not always possible, but great when it happens.
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April: What I’m into this month

Afterward a whirlwind of travel in March, I’m enjoying a more home-bound April.

  • Lots of family time! My cousin is getting married in Pennsylvania at the end of the month, and it’s a great reason to get together with the Laffertys. I had fun exploring Philadelphia for her bachelorette party this weekend, and brunch at Harp & Crown was a perfect wrap-up. This has led to more plans for family get-togethers in 2017, like seeing Classic East in July!
  • So much music. The month kicked off with a house concert hosted by a friend and I went to Blue Note to see jazz when Autumn was in town over Easter weekend. After a six-week hiatus, I’m back to guitar lessons. I’m learning Don’t Think Twice by Bob Dylan and Diamonds and Rust by Joan Baez.
  • Continuing with the music theme, I will finally finish my listen of the first 50 albums on the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list from The Rolling Stone. I got James Brown’s ‘Live at the Apollo’ at the library this weekend since I couldn’t find it in full on any of my typical online music sources.
  • Starting – but not finishing – lots of books. If I complete the books I’m currently reading, I’ll exceed my reading goal for the year. I’m reading tons of founder bios lately and really enjoying them.

In the meantime, I’m also working on some longer-term projects that will hopefully come to fruition in the next 3-5 months. Good start to the year!

March: What I’m into this month

I’m breaking my posting hiatus with some of the stuff I’m following this month.

  • Lots of travel. So many of my trips strangely converged this month. Spain, Houston and Scottsdale. I checked off two bucket list items this month – visiting the Alhambra and the Johnson Space Center!
  • Outer space and life coming full circle. In 2009, I went to Scottsdale to recruit for the new Barneys New York store (unfortunately now closed). While there, Buzz Aldrin was signing his new book, Magnificent Desolation, at the Louis Vuitton store in the mall. The book was a very special Christmas gift to my dad that year. This winter, while going through my mom’s bookshelves as she prepares to sell my childhood home, I found Buzz’s book. I brought it back to Scottsdale to read poolside this month. Having also seen the Saturn V rocket at the Johnson Space Center just a week before, I felt like a real superfan.
  • So much reading. I finally finished Dubliners this month and Goodreads is moving up as one of my favorite social media accounts.
  • Getting back to writing in some small ways. More to come soon.
  • Career advice from powerful women. First Ann Shoket‘s new book The Big Life and now Sallie Krawcheck’s Own It. It’s exciting to hear how they navigated their careers and the advice they have for women like me. I saw Krawcheck speak at Work-bench last week and she was riveting. She came across as very authentic and direct, and it was great to speak with her briefly as she signed my book.

It’s been a whirlwind month and I really enjoyed it. Here’s to a happy spring!

Striving for Essentialism

I’ve kicked off 2016 with a lot of reading, mostly fiction. (So far, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, The Martian by Andy Weir and now Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It’s strictly coincidence I’m reading all books turned movies so far this year.) I love reading, but when reflecting back on 2015 I can only think of a single book that has really stuck with me: Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

Essentialism takes a different approach to lifehacking. Rather than trying to eke more productivity of out each day, an essentialist intentionally chooses less. Fewer to-dos, fewer commitments. I’m an optimist by nature, and I can’t help but say “YES!” to nearly every juicy opportunity that comes my way. But McKeown advises being wildly protective over your time. Unless you feel like an opportunity is a 9/10, you should say no.

It’s timely to reflect on this book at the end of January, just as my resolutions are feeling a little stale. Especially the diagram of going in a million directions versus one.  When we have a lot of projects or too many priorities (a contradiction in itself), we fail to make meaningful progress on any one area. I kicked off 2016 with this ideal in mind. If I’m going to be bold and aim high, I am better off choosing one thing and applying steady focus.

Next up in self-help/pseudo-business book reading is Deep Work by Cal Newport. I’m curious to see how well the ideas of Essentialism link to Deep Work. This year could lead to more singularly focused, deep working existence for me… Seems monk-like. I like it.

Roastin’ the Turkey

Last night in my guitar class, my teacher Vinnie talked about practicing and how, to be most effective, we’ve got to “roast the turkey.”

A properly roasted turkey takes about 3.5 hours to cook at 425° F. If your goal is a golden, juicy, well-cooked bird, there’s no way around this. Say you want to save on gas, so you put the heat at 200° F. You’ll have to leave the turkey in the oven a very long time to bring it to the right temperature for cooking, and even then it won’t be very good. Or say you want to cook it quickly, so you turn the heat to 600° F. Your bird will cook unevenly, burnt on the outside and not quite done on the inside.

So it goes with practice. If you do a little here and there, you’ll get better. But it’ll take a long time, and you’ll probably feel that your skills atrophy between practices. If you’re cramming by practicing hours and hours a day, you will see quick progress, but you’ll likely burn out.

I’ve been posting on here weekly, on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. I’m trying to return to a practice of writing, and having some output each week feels right. Gotta roast my turkeys.