Creativity as a cure for midlife crisis, butter and full-fat milk redemption, and results from a four-day work week trial are some of the best reads around the web from the last two weeks. In our podcast recommendation, learn how to say “no” gracefully, then I give a mini-review of the Beyond Meat plant-based burger. The long read focuses on France’s recent hero and the lack of opportunities in Paris’ troubled suburbs, my current read will have you questioning your outlook on the world, a poetic quote, and a travel update closes out this issue.
◦ selected words
“In this era of mindfulness, and today’s preoccupation with pursuing a meaningful life, a new antidote has emerged to cure the doldrums of midlife: creativity.” Whether it’s rooted in the maker movement, growing self-awareness, a search for meaning, anti-consumerism, disillusionment with traditional ideas of “success”, or as an antidote to anxiety and depression, more and more (including myself) are choosing creative paths of expression.
The New York Times (5min read)
On the transactional nature of taking inventory of your friends, being intentional with who you choose to spend your time with, and meeting people where they’re at. As the author behind the Desire Map says, the rest is just a bonus.
Danielle LaPorte on Medium (1min read)
I remember growing up making trips with my mom to the local Safeway, picking up 4L jugs of homogenous whole milk. One day we switched to 2% Lucerne, for reasons unbeknownst to me (nor was I very concerned, the milk was less creamy but still acceptable), and that was that for several years. Then we switched to 1%, and finally skim, which we, as children enjoying our sugary cereals, drew the line at. We’d also grow up with round tubs of Imperial margarine, and even today, my mom equates butter with all things bad with fat. How far the rest of the world has come, not only with reducing dairy intake, but also the truth about fats. However, the biggest takeaway from this article isn’t this healthy fats debate, it’s the closing paragraphs that argues we shouldn’t be debating the binary good and bad qualities of individual nutrients, but instead we need to focus on the harms of food production.
The Atlantic (5min read)
You could argue nearly everything is marketing, that we’re always selling something, in every engagement, publication, and interaction. This is no different with scientists, and though many detest the word “marketing” and the need for it, there’s a growing movement and awareness around the importance of the narrative. After all, who doesn’t like a good story?
The Guardian (4min read)
A recent study found the average worker spends less than three hours doing productive work. Back in my corporate life, I once got the courage to ask my boss for a four-day work week. I always got my work done, but was fully willing to take a pay cut in exchange for the extra day off. I was quickly shut down, citing the precedent that would be set at this very traditional company. This past Spring, two researchers from the University of Auckland studied the effects of a 32-hour work week at a local firm (no pay cut), with positive results. Employees were finding ways to be more productive and less distracted at the office. Some indirect benefits included lower power usage, reduced traffic, shorter meetings, and reduced office space needs. It never hurts to ask.
The New York Times (4min read)
◦ listen in
Tim Ferriss’ recent podcasts have a new twist that makes it more enjoyable to listen — less of him talking! Instead, authors of his favorite books read the best chapters. In this episode, Greg McKeown reads two chapters of his Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. If you’re feeling it’s hard to say “no” to an endless stream of requests, learn what it takes to make a slow “yes” and a quick ‘no’ a habit. Say “no” gracefully, and gain back time and respect while doing so. Like everything, it takes practice.
The Tim Ferriss Show (54min podcast)
◦ eat well
With major fast-food chains A&W and TGI Fridays putting Beyond Meat burgers on the menu, and their closest competitor, The Impossible Burger, gaining FDA approval this week for their veggie burger that “bleeds” soy leghemoglobin, plant-based burgers have gone from the lab to your corner with some serious momentum. Let’s be clear — this is not a health choice, it’s ethical. In fact, A&W’s Beyond Meat burger has 500g of calories and 29g of fat, both more than their signature Teen Burger. And it’s not vegan — unless requested, it’s served with all the standard fixins including mayo and “Uncle Sauce” (which contains animal products), and is cooked on the same grill as their beef, bacon and eggs. I’m as skeptical as they come with veggie patties, but I tried a Beyond Burger last week and I couldn’t tell I wasn’t eating meat. Another observation: more than half the orders that came through during my short stay were also for Beyond Burgers. We’re at the forefront of what could be a faux-meat revolution.
◦ read slow
Paris has a population of 12 million, more than the population of Belgium, and their young soccer players are being scouted aggressively, some being signed as young as 11. And the world’s second highest paid player, Kylian Mbappe, who’s just led his country to their second World Cup, has become a symbol of Bondy in the Parisian banlieues, a term for a poorer immigrant suburb that carries with it a negative stigma. It’s in these banlieues where 8 of France’s 23 World Cup team members got their start, and where young hopefuls see soccer as their way out. Written before France’s World Cup victory, a look at stereotypes, the importance of sports, family goals, false dreams, and limited opportunities in troubled communities.
The New York Times (18min read)
◦ current read
The TED Talk phenomenon who advises the United Nations on global policy, Hans Rosling passed away last year, but not before completing Factfulness, a work of passion he’s so wanted to put out into our conflicted world. In his own words: “This book is my last battle in my life-long mission to fight devastating ignorance… Previously I armed myself with huge data sets, eye-opening software, an energetic learning style and a Swedish bayonet for sword-swallowing. It wasn’t enough. But I hope this book will be.” A timely book that will give you an optimistic outlook on our world from a man who advised the most powerful world leaders while working the front lines against epidemics in Africa.
Factfulness by Hans Rosling (352p book)
◦ dig this
What I’m digging lately:
- Shoulder Openers – SHIFT Mobility Science’s YouTube channel has exercises to undo years of desk work and explains the mechanics behind each.
- BC Blueberries – It’s that season. And they’re just $1.99/lb ($4.40/kg). (Don’t ask why we don’t use metric for these things).
- What’s In This? – Confused when you read ingredients from food labels? Ever wonder what a Dorito chip is really made? Or Muscle Milk? Explained in plain English, a regular column from MEL Magazine.
- Jorja Smith – Lost & Found 🎧 – Debut album from the silky 21-year-old U.K. singer whose album has been compared to Amy Winehouse’s Frank and the works of Lauryn Hill. Review on Pitchfork. Listen on Spotify / YouTube.
◦ humble thought
“I have always loved the gaps, the spaces between things, as much as the things. I love staring, pondering, mulling, puttering. I love the times when someone or something is late — there’s that rich possibility of noticing more, in the meantime… Poetry calls us to pause. There is so much we overlook, while the abundance around us continues to shimmer, on its own.”
– Naomi Shihab Nye, via PoetryFoundation.org
Last night I landed in Honolulu and checked into a fine hostel not far from Waikiki Beach called the Seaside Hawaiian Hostel. I’m here for my cousin’s wedding this weekend, which will be a truly international affair since she currently lives in Hong Kong and her partner is from Hamburg. It’ll be the first time all 3 generations that my immediate family and first cousins will travel together.
When asked about this trip, I was a bit dulled to the idea of Waikiki. I’ve been to Oahu twice before and have always enjoyed my time, particularly the last trip hiking the prohibited Stairway to Heaven and exploring the North Shore. But it is one of the most touristy destinations (touristic as non-North Americans say), overflowing with resorts and sprawling hotels, and here is no place I’d rather be in the summers than the Pacific Northwest.
You could say I’m spoiled, which I am, and privileged, but I’m also very picky where I travel as my friends will tell you. I tend to avoid expensive destinations, particularly during peak season. But this is for family, and I told myself I wasn’t going to miss another big family event.
This morning I woke up without alarm at 6am, a wonderful feeling, but mostly thanks to the favorable 3 hour time difference. It’s been months since I’ve gone for a run, but it’s the best way to get your bearings. I started jogging south down Seaside until I hit Walls Beach, turned left and jogged past Publics to Queens Beach. I passed gorgeous 100-year-old banyan trees and watched a few surfers riding the small swell. When I stopped for a stretch, I felt like I was surrounded by birds of all sizes and colors, singing their melodies. That’s when I thought, shit, this is nice! Really nice. Some call it paradise. I don’t know if it’s the ocean breeze, how you can spend most of the day outside here, the tropical climate (probably not, it was actually hotter in Vancouver last week), or the unique mix of people that inhabit this area. It feels as far from America as you can get, while still being in America. And I’m really enjoying my first day here, exploring, getting out of my patterns, and breathing in the ocean air. Tomorrow I’ll check out the surf and see how a week of shoulder opener exercises affects my stroke. Six more days in paradise!