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Lunchtime Reads 9.9.16

lunchtime reads 9/9/16It’s been too long since I’ve put together a Lunchtime Reads roundup post! I’ve been hoarding links, but haven’t been great at sharing them. Or anything really. I guess that’s a natural byproduct of buying a house, moving cities, and dealing with both wonderful and unfortunate life stuff. So anyway. Here we are.

“Our current age rewards fractured identities: The more you can do, the better. What have you accomplished? What do you have to show for yourself? What books have you published? Do you have children? What are their grades? Do you have hobbies? To be a productive American in the 21st century is to be split into your discrete parts and analyzed for efficiency all the way down the line.” Laura Turner, Learning to Love My Anxiety

“The secret to satiation, to satisfaction, was not to meet or even acknowledge your needs, but to curtail them. We learn the same lesson about our emotional hunger: Want less, and you will always have enough.” Jess Zimmerman, Hunger Makes Me

“There’s lots of talk about how the internet is making it possible to live anywhere these days and do their own thing. But I think people my age and younger forget the fact that people made their own scenes even BEFORE the internet.” Austin Kleon, Find a New City

“We start to believe that we need to escape to another country and live in a refurbished RV in order to explore. We start to credit these unrealistic, far off adventures as the only solution to our wanderlusts… But I’m ready to embrace a change of heart… Let’s stop the ideology that adventure has to happen in these lush, fabulous moments. Let’s live and love local.” Laura Gingerich, 5 Reasons to Love Living Local These sum up almost exactly why we decided to buy a house in Lancaster City.

“One successful entrepreneur, in a rare moment of vulnerability, recently wrote that he burst into tears in a small suburb in Japan watching families ride their bikes together in a park. It struck him that this simple, mundane pleasure was something he would never know again.” Mark Manson, The Dark Side of the Digital Nomad


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Funk Busters — What to do When Nothing’s Right

Queen Anne's LaceI had planned to sit down and write any number of aiming-to-be-brilliant-and-engaging things, but today’s got me in a funk. I don’t feel like writing. I don’t feel like working. I don’t feel like anything. So here’s a list of things I have done or should do to snap out of it. They’re mostly the tried and true things I can rely on if I catch an existential crisis in the early stages.

  • Go for a run. I totally should have done this when I got home from work rather than slumping on the couch and eating a popsicle.
  • Read a book with a plot. I’ve been trucking through things like JavaScript & jQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development and The Creative Habit lately, but what really does it for me is well crafted fiction. I just busted through The Signature of All Things at the beginning of the month, and it was some kind of healing to be lost in fiction again. There’s just something about story and plot that self-help and nonfiction lack.
  • Roast and freeze a chicken. I’d be remiss as a Mennonite if I didn’t include some form of food preservation. Something about making the house smell all warm and delicious while knowing that you’re about to nourish yourself is really helpful. Pulling all the meat off the carcass and preparing to make stock with it requires you to work with your hands and be in your body. It’s meditative. You have time to think, but also something outside yourself to focus on. Same goes for washing dishes and any number of other housekeeping tasks I usually resent because of gender baggage.
  • Cuddle a cat. Or any animal really. If I had been near one, I would have hugged a cow this afternoon. They’re warm, and they look you in the eye without judgement.
  • Drink water. I tend to feel worse if I’m dehydrated. Sometimes the difference between feeling kind of schlumpy and feeling like the world is ending is just water and maybe a snack.
  • Write on paper with your hands. Write three pages without stopping. No editing, no self-judgement. Just write whatever stupid thing comes into your head.
  • Go to bed. Maybe things will feel better in the morning.

A Confession & The Real Magic of Alt Summit

Photo by Brooke Dennis

Credit: Brooke Dennis

I have a confession. My biggest concern and source of anxiety about going to Alt Summit last week was that the people I’d meet there would be super self-promoting, superficial, and disinterested in sincere conversation and friendship.

Boy was I wrong.

Alt Summit

Credit: Brooke Dennis | I really don’t mean to be glaring at the panelists.

I’d just read so much about the time and effort that goes into the outward displays of creativity and style. I was worried that this intense focus on how people look and what they wore and how beautiful their business cards are would discourage people from forging quality friendships that grow deep beneath the surface.

But behind the cute outfits and beyond the beautiful business cards and even inside the very grand Grand America (there’s a chandelier in every toilet stall), I met people who were willing to share their insecurities and struggles, accomplishments and joys. These were people whose beauty and spark emanated from the inside.

Alt Summit Umba

Credit: Chad Braithwaite

It’s inevitable that there’ll be quite a bit of self-promotion going on at an event like Alt. After all, that’s how a lot of people approach networking. But I went into the conference with the mindset that I was going to make friends. I was determined to be myself, and if that meant hanging out at the lobby bar alone every night because I needed a break from the hustle and intense social interaction, then so be it.

Alt Summit Green Party

Credit: Justin Hackworth

And you know what? I never had to hang out at the lobby bar by myself. Not once. I ended up spending time there with Paige, Megan, Allison, and Mere at different points throughout the week. I didn’t walk through a hallway once without recognizing a new friend like Joy, MJ, Ashley, Bobbie, or Amy, who said hello. I’ll be eternally grateful to Megan for saying hi and introducing herself when I’m sure I looked shell-shocked in the green lounge while way too many people were squeezing in to either listen to Christy Turlington’s interview or look at a fox, skunk, or parrot (Unbeknownst to me. It is safe to say I am a more than a little distressed that I missed out on a chance to cuddle a fox. Had I known, I might’ve tried to foxnap the creature & bring it home to Pennsylvania. I mean, LOOK AT IT.).

Fox at Alt Summit

Credit: Brooke Dennis

The point is, I started to feel like I really did belong in this space, and that felt pretty revolutionary for me. I met real people who I hope become real friends. To me, that’s the real magic of Alt.


Conquering Alt anxiety

hand dyed yarn, FlagstaffIn years past, I’ve looked at Alt Summit (and a lot of other things) as something that would always be just unattainable for me. Out of my reach, out of my realm. But I’ve done a lot this past year or so to change that kind of thinking, which is probably a whole other post unto itself.

Despite that, I’m headed to Alt Summit next week. I literally bought my ticket on my phone while standing in line at a snack counter at the Grand Canyon in August. The anxiety finally hit me right in the chest last week. (Is that happening to anyone else headed to Alt right now?) Before the mind-numbing fear really started to take over my head, I decided to fight it off.

So I emailed Kathleen. She’s someone I admire for doing what she wants and being who she is, which sometimes feels rare to me in blog-type circles, and I hoped that she would have something valuable to share with me.

Reaching out to someone you admire for advice is a risk. I decided that taking that risk would help me feel more in control of the situation, like I was taking a step to help myself. Even if she was too busy to respond or my email got lost in her inbox, I would still feel like I had successfully managed a bit of fear just by reaching out to her.

In addition to her (super quality) advice, this is what I learned from that experience: People are just people. Even your big internet girl crushes, which is super applicable during Alt season. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you admire or who are more experienced than you. Chances are, they’ll be wonderful. Worst case scenario? They’re busy and don’t get back to you. And still, you gain the experience of having taken that risk, small though it may have been.

So, if you’re headed to Alt for the first time this week, head over to the Braid blog to read the advice Kathleen shared with me, and then take one step to help yourself feel more confident and prepared. Also, I can’t wait to see you there! Please say hi!

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Lunchtime Reads: 12.20.12

I feel like I’m finally realizing the importance of female friendships.

More compelling writing at The Rumpus.

More advice from Cheryl Strayed.

As I dip my toes into web design, it’s good to follow those in the know.

I’m thinking I might need to set up rules around my own compulsive media usage. Maybe I’d feel better. 

“Contrast is fundamental to beauty.” Brett McCracken writes the most beautiful blog posts, especially during Advent.