Thursday, May 31, 2012

I've never been great at coming up with creative subject lines...

I am an avid reader of The Listserve. I love the concept of the group and I love receiving each day's email. So far I've learned so much from so many strangers - drink recipes with ingredients I would never have thought of, more information about bees and beekeeping than I ever thought I'd learn, the list goes on and on.

While I always hoped that one day I'd be selected to send out an email - I didn't expect the time to come so soon. To me, the chance to email almost 20,000 people in countries ranging from Belarus to Cambodia to Lebanon to Nigeria is an incredible one. It's the 21st century equivalent of being given a microphone to talk to a massive audience of people from around the world, people that you'd never normally meet. A really amazing opportunity, but also one with quite a bit of pressure. I have to be honest, when I received the email yesterday afternoon, I panicked. What could I possibly tell people that they didn't already know? I'm 22 years old - how many incredible life experiences do I have that would be inspiring to 20,000 others?

Some of my favorite Listserve emails so far have been those that contain inspiring pieces of advice based off of the sender's own experiences. I just graduated from college and I'm at a point in my life when I feel very young and very old at the same time. I have my whole life ahead of me, but now it's largely up to me to determine what my future will look like. I know I have a lot to share, but I also know that I have even more to learn. So, accordingly, I decided to solicit members of my own family - ranging from grandparents to aunts to parents to siblings - for pearls of wisdom that they've learned throughout their own lives. I figured that it might be more worthwhile to share inspiring quotes based off of over 250 years of experience, than just 22.

Below are some of my favorites:

"Walk through life being pleasant and kind to everyone you meet, knowing that your kindness will not only make someone else's life better, but also your own." - Morrie Zimring

"Keep on going, even if you feel like there is no tomorrow." - Susan Sale

"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." - Muriel Zimring

"When you lose, don't lose the lesson." - Miki Zimring

"Everything you're looking for lies behind the mask that you wear." - Miki Zimring

"Sometimes it's shit till it isn't shit anymore." - Lori Sale

"An unsolicited opinion is hardly ever heeded or valued." - Scott Sale

Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak to you all - I'd love to hear back from anyone and everyone. This is a great group and I'm honored to be a part of it!

Jordan Sale

22 years old
From: Los Angeles, CA
Moving to: Washington, DC
Currently in: Chiang Mai, Thailand!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No time to mourn our humble existence

After 13 years of flying to the edge of our solar system, the American Voyager 1 space probe, reached the almost incomprehensible distance of 6.4 billion kilometres (nearly 4 billion miles) from Earth in 1990 and was turned around to take a picture of our home planet. Earth is no more than a pale blue dot, hardly to be seen against the cosmic background.

The insignificance of our planet in the truly fascinating happenings of the universe becomes more clear, when trying to comprehend, that the Milky Way, which can be seen on a clear night, is in fact what a spiral galaxy looks like from the inside! It may contain up to 400 billion stars – one of them, is our sun.

And then, on one of the sun's planets, there are humans. When contemplating the irrelevance of every single being on earth against the immense numbers that the universe provides, our mind protests, that this can not be so. But with all the evidence we have from hundreds of years of exploring the night sky, we have to come to the conclusion, that it is.

Some people feel small because the universe is so big. But in our each and every life, there is no time to mourn our humble existence, nor to believe that of all possible life forms in the universe, just we are the selected species. Let us accept the fact, that we are a very small part of the universe and concentrate on our life and the lives of people we love and care for, making our home planet a more peaceful place to live.

After all, we are forced to get along together. There is no way of escaping our home planet and, as yet, there is nowhere else to reach besides our pale blue dot.

Passau, Germany

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From the bottom of the world


I'm from somewhere far away.
Apparently, I live in the most remote city with a population in excess
of one million people.

Hello from Auckland, New Zealand.

I don't feel very far away from you. I think we probably have a few
things in common.
I live and breathe and work and sleep and eat and love.
I read this list email every day and I hope for a glimmer of
inspiration from others.
I struggle with depression and anxiety and stress and worry. Some days
I feel like every day is a battle.
Some days, it is a battle for me just to get out of bed.

But today feels like a good day. I told myself this morning when I
woke up that it would be a good day.
And here we are. It's a good day. The sun still shines. I chose for
today to be a good day.

You choose your path. You're the one who decides what can happen to
you and if you'll let it happen to you.
I feel like I need to remind myself of this more often.

I'll finish with a quote I liked from Ralph W. Emerson

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared
to what lies within us.

Kia Kaha,
Auckland, New Zealand / Aotearoa

Monday, May 28, 2012

Worry Less, Do More

It's often said that the biggest obstacles we face in life are the ones we put up for ourselves. Unnecessary worry is one of those.

How many times have you denied yourself an opportunity because of worry - maybe you felt like you weren't ready, or that you didn't deserve something enough?

If the answer to that question is “never” then you're very lucky indeed but most people have held themselves back on many an occasion. Personally, towards the end of last year I was holding myself back to the point where I was hardly doing anything new or creative, stuck in a self-imposed rut.

I'm not saying we should try to never worry about anything, because it's perfectly natural to worry sometimes, and certain things in life will always cause anxiety.

What's important is to learn to realise when we're worrying unnecessarily and devise strategies for dealing with it in a productive way.

Those strategies will be unique to you, so you'll have to work them out yourself. It's really easy though – all you need to do is take a little “quiet time” whenever you feel worried, frame your worry into a statement and then come up with a logical solution.

For example:
“I'm worried that if I go for a job interview I might mess it up and make myself look stupid”
Strategy: “So I will make sure I'm fully prepared for my interview and perhaps roleplay with a friend so I can practise”

Quite often I find that just turning a vague worry into a definitive statement makes the solution obvious.

Of course, sometimes you really aren't ready for that new job, or physically fit enough to run that marathon – but at least this way you have some kind of action plan.

Once you have the hang of dealing with minor worries in this way, you should find that you'll spend less time thinking about doing stuff, and more time actually doing stuff.

You won't always succeed, but if you're worrying less and doing more, failure is just a side effect of all the awesome new things you're experiencing rather than a crushing defeat.

Thanks for reading, I hope you'll join me in worrying less and doing more! I'd love to hear about your thoughts and experiences so please get in touch :)

Kris Noble
London, UK

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Work together to achieve more

Virtual interaction has become a thing of the now. The instant feedback is addicting and we almost feel like we can touch and experience life in the same way we would if we were physically together. Sometimes the virtual is a good substitute and other times, there is simply nothing that replaces the feelings and the ideas that can flow during a conversation had within a single room. However, the more time we spend in the virtual, the easier it becomes to dismiss the value of coming together in physical spaces.

While working away deep in the virtual, an interdisciplinary group of friends brought me to join them in POPSHOP, the place where we go to work, play, talk, sleep… sometimes, and most importantly work together physically. It’s a place where we can build, where dreams are celebrated, but only if they are followed up by action. Where ideas are great, but not as great as the process of building, of showing others, even if not for monetary gain but for the physical feeling of building. It is our firm belief that the only way to really move quickly, is by sharing with others and by allowing them to help catalyze growth. Leveraging the knowledge of others not for an explicit reciprocity, but an implicit one. Being together physically not only lets us better share our ideas and help each other, but it actually has a really powerful effect. It is that extra level of commitment that drives us to not only talk about our ideas, but take action and make sure we achieve our dreams, and when we get stuck have people around to help us move forward.

So poprightin online to see more and make sure you physically get together with a group representing diverse ideas and skills, to see how much more you can achieve.

P.S. I wrote this in the POPSHOP with the help of some of the awesome people around me.

Sam Sinensky
New York, NY

The one armed frog

I have a tattoo of a frog on the top of my right foot. I drew him myself. When people ask me why I always say that when I take a step, he hops.

But there’s a story behind that.

I was tree planting one year. While planting you need to move fast, the more trees in the ground the more money you would make. I was never all that great at it but I stuck with it and at the very least I kept going.

One rainy day, on a hill surrounded by tree stumps and torn up branches, I threw my shovel into the ground to open up space in the dirt for a little tree but as the blade of my shovel came down a frog hopped onto the path. The shovel came down onto his shoulder.

The frog’s arm was cut off. Not completely, though, there was a small flap of muscle/skin hanging on (if you’ve ever read Harry Potter, think of Nearly Headless Nick) and the frog was wriggling around on the ground, likely in a lot of pain.

I was a little shocked. I stared at the frog a little while, and it never made a sound. I looked around, walking a few steps to see if someone was nearby. Probably for moral support, but I hadn’t really thought that far ahead. I didn’t know if I should try to kill the frog, knowing that with it’s injury it would be easy prey and have difficulty moving around to get it’s own food. I decided to go back to check on the frog.

He was gone, somehow moving himself back into the brush. I still wonder if his arm wasn’t as bad as I thought. Either way, he'll figure things out for himself.

I’ve had other tragedies in my life, ones that easily surpass the armless frog in the scale of life changes and impact, but the frog gave me things to think about, which turned into something that I learned.

The memory of that frog comes with me every time I take a step forward. Bad things will happen, you must remember them but don’t ever stop moving forward. Things will sort themselves out as long as you do.

He’ll remind me, when things get troublesome, to keep hopping.

Vera Suzanne
Ontario, Canada

Saturday, May 26, 2012

How to flip a phone

Remove the phone from its hook. Rotate it 180 degrees so that the end with the cord is up. Replace the phone on the hook.

(Generally applicable to payphones and other vertically mounted phones. Adapt instructions as necessary.)

Boston, MA

Friday, May 25, 2012

Don't forget to have fun!

Hey! It's cold right here in Brazil! brrrrrr
Well, I would like to share with you some things that I did recently and, somehow, changed my life:

I quit my boring strategic consultant’s life
I decided to take a sabbatical year
I discovered life (yeah! There's life between 9 am to 18 pm)
I went skateboarding at Ibirapuera's Park (Sao Paulo) every afternoon
I started studying Social Entrepreneurship
I met new (and interesting, inspiring, innovating, brilliant, etc.) people
I traveled to the most beautiful place in the world (Chapada Diamantina | Bahia | Brazil)
I traveled to other countries
I started swimming
I started swimming and running
I started swimming, running and mountain-biking
I started cross-country triathlon competing
I made new friends
I met old friends
I visited a slum
I made friends at slums
I changed my points of view - I found a new purpose for my life
I started my own business
I failed in my first own business
I met more people - including my current business partners
I work at a business that really cares with social and environmental issues
I changed my eating habits - now I'd prefer organic foods
I found love again
I found a girlfriend that inspires me
I found a girlfriend that I admire
I hugged my mother, father and sister - and said many times that I love them

And today... I feel myself lighter... I laugh every day... I'm in peace.

That's my suggestion to you... try to do things you'll never think you would do. Enjoy, learn more and don't forget the essential point: HAVE A LOT OF FUN!

Diogo Pires
Sao Paulo, Brazil

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


“It takes a very long time to become young.” - Pablo Picasso

It’s kind of funny —I am an eighteen year old boy who should be basking in what’s left of my youth, but I feel like I am a middle aged man with nothing but repetition left in life.

Wake up. Go to school. Go to work. Do homework. Eat. Shower. Sleep. Repeat.

I mean people have warned me that life out of high school sucked, but no one could have really prepared me for this. While my peers are out of state at some fancy University, having the time of their lives partying, drinking, and networking with a variety of people.. I am here, stuck on this rock, going to a community college, and living paycheck to paycheck.

I was told that doing great things in high school would amount to great things out of high school, but that was just a way of getting me to go to class. I’ve done sports, I was a vital role in the school’s yearbook, I was enrolled in advanced placement classes, I participated in numerous clubs (service/leisure), I have held leadership positions in those clubs, always went out of my way to volunteer, and I even represented the state in a national competition and placed 3rd overall.

All these things may have been a great experience for me, but it just sucks knowing that it all amounted to this. Here I am. Stuck.

Although my life isn’t the greatest at this moment, I like to look at it knowing that it could be worse. I mean there is always someone out there in the world that has it worse, just as there is always someone in the world who has it better. This sort of gives me a modest way of looking at life: I am not walking around with my nose up in the air nor am I moping around hoping everyone takes pity on me.

As for the quote above, I don’t really know what Picasso meant by it. I’m guessing that it takes a very long time until you actually get to understand the meaning of all of this crap. And that it takes a very long time for you to actually enjoy life because we have to work for it.. That you know, we will have the opportunity to be ‘youthful’ when are have finally made a name for ourselves. When we stop trying to please everyone and start doing things just for the hell of it.

While typing this, I’ve realized how dull my life has become and that’s just no bueno. So although life has been stressful let’s try to remember the fun in life –and let’s not get all caught up in this shit. I think with a balance of work and fun, time will be that much bearable.

Kurtis Katakura
Honolulu, Hawaii

Thoughts of one of the happiest guys in the world

I've thought about what to write in this email ever since I signed up to the list, and to selected this early in the list is both awesome and a little frightening, because I don't really feel ready. Nevertheless, this is my contribution, and it will hopefully be of some kind of use you!

When I got the mail about being selected, the first thing I had to do was to decide what I wanted to write about. Should I tell a story? Write about my life and ambitions? Tell about the company I am starting? Why I think my education is awesome? Or why I love developing for Android?

It was a hard choice, but I finally made up my mind – to tell something I usually don't write about, something I know I am admired for all bragging set aside.

So I chose to write a little about my way of life, and why I think it makes me the one of the happiest guys in the world.

Sure, the past 26 years have been mostly great for me, but there has sure been some lows down the road already. But no matter what has happened I have kept my spirits high, and with a healthy faith in life I have made it all the way till today. To put it in a little perspective, here is a short summary of one of the worst weeks of my life so far:

It started out great, with plans to go the Crete with my beautiful girlfriend for a week, taking of Sunday morning. On Tuesday some idiot broke in to my car an stole a lot of stuff, including my laptop (yeah, it was hidden) and set me back around $3500. On the following Saturday one of my teeth started to hurt, and at around 8 in the evening I couldn't stand the pain. The result was a root canal, a canceled holiday not covered by the insurance because it happened before I left the country in total setting me back another $2000. And all of this while being a student having $900 a month for everything. But I kept my spirits high, because there are more important things in life.

And what is it then? Well, it is kinda hard to explain, but basically my philosophy in life is stay happy. Not at any cost, but if there is something to be happy about, why spend time moaning about what has gone wrong? It kinda works like this; when something goes wrong, I focus only on the good things that results from whatever and let the bad stuff happen as something that need to get done to get to the good stuff. For example, I was just glad that the lady at the emergency room gave my both penicillin and very strong painkillers that got me through the night, and that the dentist gave a completely painless root canal the day after leaving me with a fixed tooth and no pain at all.

So, what I am actually trying to say here is that life is awesome, and if you can control the way you think about things, you can actually stay on the good side of almost anything. It works for me anyway!

Be positive, and spread it with a smile! It WILL get you further!

Jacob "Jam" Markussen
Aarhus, Denmark

Monday, May 21, 2012

Maxine and the Radio

Hello. Because you are a friend I've just not met yet, I'm writing this so that we might be a little closer. In this email I will:

1. Tell you a little about what work's been like for me lately.
2. Choose and present to you some rad radio. I love NPR. I am a walking pledge drive. I am not paid by National Public Radio. They don't know who I am. So great is my love for it, though, that I'm sending the love along to all y'all. In some ways the segments I mention below are like the beginners version of radio-- Radiolab and TAL are classic NPR staples--but in other ways I feel that they represent the absolute finest in radio listening pleasure.
3. Say a couple things that need to be said.

Ready? Ronward!

1. A day of work
I just got home a little while ago. A lot of my work consists of getting on the phone and talk to people. Sometimes, on these calls, I get pissed off and the forked vein in my forehead bulges (I know this because yesterday I was on a Skype conference call, and the vein popped out when I was trying to make a point that seemed really important at the time. I should probably get my blood pressure checked.) The window in my office looks right onto a lawn; a small woods starts at the edge of it, and beyond, there's a river. Every so often, when I'm sitting at my desk, two or three deer leap out of the foliage and nibble at leaves. I take pictures of them with my camera phone. Generally, the pictures do not turn out.

2. This is NPR
Listen to THIS WHOLE SHOW: Radiolab, Season 6, Episode 2 'After Life'
Be obsessive about THESE 14 SECONDS: Radiolab's original open, particularly the part where the lady says "and this is NPR".
Experience the WEIGHT-LIFTING SNOWMAN: "We did it!", This American Life, Episode 323, Act 2, 'Super Duper'
Regularly make yourself an actual good American by listening to THIS SHOW ALL THE TIME: American Roots

3. The truth of the matter is:
Compassion and forgiveness are the most important things.
The Hunger Games trilogy had engrossing, even great stories... but they were not actually that good as books.

Listen for the win,


"You Will Hang" and Other Things you don't want to hear on a Saturday Afternoon

Hi fellow ListServians!

In 1987, I was at a civil rights march in Cumming, GA (Brotherhood March II). I was grabbed by a coordinator towards the end- I was told to flank the woman next to me who was with a child in a stroller; there were people on the ridge next to us throwing rocks and bottles and screaming obscenities. As I tried to turn my body into a shield I directly faced these people screaming the most hateful and violent words I have ever heard uttered. I thought I had understood racism and prejudice. I understood nothing.

I was becoming enraged. I wanted to fight back. As I began looking for a rock or anything, a chant was growing in the stream of marchers; I expected a confrontation until I heard what they were chanting. To fight the shouts of "Nigger Lovers" and "You will Hang" was a chant of "We Love You" in return.

I didn't understand. How can people met with lifelong hatred and discrimination act in return with Love? In the face of people threatening to kill you, they reply with "I Love You".

I broke inside. I collapsed. The people around me grabbed me, pulled me up and helped me to my feet. I heard the words beside me "It's okay brother, I have you" and I regained my footing and made it to the end.

There is a picture of me sitting on a curb shortly afterward looking exhausted and dazed. 25 years later I am still exhausted and dazed.

I try to inform everything I do in my life with this experience- the morals I raised my three amazing daughters with, how I still to this day try to make changes in this ever-broken world of ours.

There are so many awful things that humans do to each other. I truly believe they can only be resolved with a genuine love and caring for each other. Unequivocally, everyone should have the same opportunity to equal treatment under law, clean food and water, safe housing, health care and good education. And mutual respect. I have not ever heard a single argument to lead me to believe anything other than this.

This is the underlying theme of the Occupy Movement. It's about everything really. But most of all, it's about love and respect for us all.

Email me if you want to read some of my poems.

Much Love and Respect to you all

Kip Silverman
Portland, Oregon

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What IF

Today's question: What IF?

What IF you could make an impact?

What IF we could end hunger?

What IF there was enough food on the planet RIGHT NOW to feed every human being?

Well, there is. And we can end hunger. Fascinating, right!? The generation being born right now is the first in our history that may see the basic needs of every human being met.

These are things that, once you know, you can't un-know. These are things that should inspire us all. These are things that - at Impact Foods - give us purpose.

Impact Foods is a small food company in Dallas, TX with a big dream - to see the day when no children are hungry.

For every bag of granola we sell, we feed a hungry child. We do this through our partnership with the World Food Programme. We help end the cycle of hunger at three critical points:

1) 1,000 Days: We target hunger in the first 1,000 days of a child's life, where damage done to the brain by malnutrition is irreversible.

2) School Meals: Then, we provide meals in schools - which boosts community attendance by more than 50%. This program allows children to receive nutrition as well as an education.

3) Sustainability: Our hunger work is done in a way that treats the problem, not simply the symptoms. Our ultimate goal is to break the cycle of hunger through not only feeding children, but educating them and giving them thriving communities and self-sustaining economies so that companies like Impact Foods no longer need to exist.

But for now, they do need to exist. And we want to encourage you to start a conscious capitalism project of your own. Our passion is hunger - what's yours!?

Sure, we'd love for you to buy a bag of our delicious all-natural granola when it hits the shelves of Whole Foods this August...but really we want to to think about today's question:

What IF.

What IF you could make an Impact?


My father-in-law and his values

My father-in-law is pretty right wing. He's all about the Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, Tea Party and Ann Coulter. He rants on about immigrants, taxes and President Obama. He sends my husband and me crazy emails with "facts" about various minority groups, how universal healthcare will doom America to socialism, why we need to drug test poor folks on welfare, that sort of thing. We generally avoid engaging with him about all this stuff.

But, seemingly incongruously, he doesn't hate on the gays. He doesn't believe that gay folks are degenerate or sick, or make substandard parents, or should be singled out for anything. There's a refreshing absence of conspiracy theories about gay agendas. He doesn't bust out his religion to support discrimination. In fact, he's pretty progressive in his thinking that lesbians and gay men should have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else -- I think he believes homosexuals are, for the most part, just regular folks doing their thing.

He became my father-in-law when I married his son back in 2008, when gays could marry in California. He and his wife welcomed me into their family with open arms. Now, after nearly eight years together, my husband and I are in the adoption process. We are starting a family, two dads and a baby, with friends and family. We will teach our daughter or son our values, a few of which might be very different from his. But when it comes to equality, love and respect, I can say we'll be upholding a tradition.

Noah Abrahamson
San Francisco, CA

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We can do this

Make a difference. Donate a dollar, recycle a bottle, love someone, hold a door open, acknowledge another's achievements, give a hug or an opportunity to someone else. We are all a part of this world together. Tonight, look at the moon (something that we all share) and know that someone else is looking at it too, thinking of you and hoping that what she wrote has inspired you to do something positive.

Washington Heights, NYC

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

David Evans

I’m going to tell you about an inspirational person. He loved to push himself to the limits, the sports he loved were always ones where he could use his brain, expeditions, climbing, bouldering, kayaking, orienteering, he maintained his nerdy ways.

I don’t want to give you the wrong impression that he was really intelligent there was that one time we drove all the way to a festival for the day, he got out the car and realised he had no shoes on ‘Oh shit got no shoes on, we’ll have to go back’, that was kind of stupid.

He did use his intelligence to get a degree in Mechanical Engineering and teach children Kayaking and climbing, but I liked to remind him of the stupid moments more than these.

His determination and complete love of life led him in so many directions, being a DJ, learning to fly a plane, and all the while he wanted to better himself. He came back from India and wanted to learn so much about spirituality, religion and philosophy, he had a desire to know why we were here.

He always wanted more, more adventure, more knowledge, more achievement.

You would never guess this on a night in Liverpool when he would turn into the craziest party animal. One night, he was dressed up as a paramedic for a fancy dress party, ordered a pint of Red Bull and a pint of vodka, dancing the night away to techno taking a gulp from each one in turn.

I could spend hours telling you about his life but put simply he was just so nice, and kind and hilarious, someone everyone of you would love to have as a friend.

David Evans is my older brother, he died 1 July 2011 in Chamonix, France in a climbing accident. He was 24 but lived such a meaningful life that inspires me everyday to live my life through and for him.

David’s advice would be what his tattoo said, he would tell every single one of you with a huge smile on his face and in his deep scouse accent ‘Learn from yesterday, live for today’.

And If I could tell him one thing I would answer his question of why he was here, I’d say that he was here to infect so many lives with the love, determination and inspiration that guided his.

Rachael Evans
London, England

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


To all the people of the list- buy a bulldozer.


Bagel Parrot: bird in the city

I'm your average twentysomething living and working in Manhattan, but I won't bore you with any further details (I'll leave that to HBO). Instead, I'll introduce you to my Congo African Grey parrot, Bagel. Greys are considered one of the most intelligent species of birds, with an amazing ability to mimic speech, identify objects, and even do arithmetic. Google "Alex the parrot" after you read this email and you'll see what I mean.

- So, why "Bagel"? On a chilly Saturday morning in late December 2011, my boyfriend and I were at a loss for lunch options, per usual. We were headed east to the F train when we turned around because I decided I wanted a bagel from Brooklyn Bagels. One thing led to another, and we found ourselves at our local Petland Discounts playing with a beautiful baby African Grey*. It was only appropriate that we name our New York-born-and-bred bird after our prized breakfast staple.

- Does she talk? Most definitely. She came home knowing how to say, "hello", "oh boy!", and "I love you", and mimicking a smoke-detector and aquarium bubbler. Since coming home, she's only picked up gibberish, curiously enough, including "wee goo" and "bagel poopah"; she has also learned to mimic coughing and a door squeak. The other day, she said some indecipherable things in a deep masculine voice; I think she picked it up from PBS, which I leave on when I go to work.

- Does she get to go outside? Yes. She's been outside a total of ~8 times, and mostly in the Chelsea area. She's also been to the Upper West Side and Fort Greene. She's still learning how to fly, but we do have a parrot harness ready for when she grows out her flight feathers.

- Where can you find Bagel? On my shoulder around Chelsea. Or, on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram with the handle "bagelparrot".

*Disclaimer: Bagel was not an impulse buy. I grew up with birds and had been on the market for a parrot for a while. While African Greys make amazing pets, they are so intelligent and sensitive that they may resort to self-destructive behavior if they do not get enough attention. They also live until 60, so be prepared to write them into your wills.

Jenn W.
Manhattan, NY

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hello, world!

I wasn't really expecting to be given the chance to send out an email to everyone, so I'm not totally sure what I want to say!

I'm a student, and I can't really cook, so I think the best thing I can do is send out a couple of really simple to make (yet still quite nice) recipes. (It might give some ideas to other students out there!)

First one: Toad in the Hole. This one takes about 35 minutes from start to finish, incl. cooking time.

3 fat sausages
1 heaped teaspoon white flora / trex / oil (or another cooking fat)
1 large egg
3 fl. oz milk
2 fl. oz water
Pinch of salt

1. Heat your oven to 220 degrees
2. Put the sausages in a roasting dish, and put in a heaped teaspoon of white flora (or something similar like trex). If you don't have anything like that, I've found oil works ok too.
3. Put them in the oven for about 10 minutes.
4. While they're cooking, put the flour, salt, egg, milk, water, and salt in a bowl together and whisk it together until all the lumps are gone. I usually need to scrape around the side of the bowl with a spoon to mix in the stuff that sticks to the sides.
5. After the sausages have had their 10 minutes, pour the batter over the sausages and put it back in the oven for about 20 minutes.
6. Serve with whatever you like! I like to eat it on it's own, but I've been told that's weird.

Second: spicy beef meatballs
This one isn't as simple because it needs a spice mix called ras el hanout. They don't sell it in the supermarkets around the university, but I usually pick up a pot from waitrose when I go home, and it lasts for ages. I've included it here anyway because it's really nice (it's a favourite of all my flatmates). It also takes a bit longer to cook, about an hour and 20 altogether.

20 small beef meatballs
200g cherry tomatoes
1 large onion
2 tsp. ras el hanout.

1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees
2. Chop the onion up, and put it in the dish with the tomatoes and meatballs
3. Sprinkle the ras el hanout on top
4. Cover with tinfoil and put it in the oven for an hour.
5. Take the tinfoil off, squash the tomatoes and give it a stir.
6. Put back in the oven, without tinfoild, for another 20 minutes.
7. Take out and serve with pitta breads!

Finally: cookies!
This is the simplest (and one of the nicest) cookie recipes I've found.

100g butter
100g sugar
1 large egg
175g plain flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 big bar of chocolate (I like dairy milk best)

1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees
2. Mix together the butter and sugar
3. Mix in the egg
4. Stir in the flour and baking powder
5. Stir in the chocolate
6. Cover a tray with tinfoil/greaseproof paper, put the dollops of the mixture onto the tray, and cook for 12-15 minutes.

That's all I have! Hopefully this will give some ideas to at least a few of you.

Adam Tonks
United Kingdom


Hi there,

"The Listserve" has been impressively void of self promotion, probably due to the ban on links. Amongst those in the know, the classic "Diva Cup" post stands out as a favorite. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a sponsor for this post within the 48 hours I was allotted and I have no Chicken Soup for the Soul words of wisdom. I do, however, have some things I think people should know:

* You should brush your teeth before you eat, or wait 30 minutes after (for pH reasons)
* HBO's Girls would be better if they cut out all the focus grouped portions (i.e. any scene not involving Hannah).
* Ashton Kutcher is a megadouche who used the issue of sex trafficking to further his career
* Popchips (and Alison Brod Public Relations) is run by people too dumb to realize that dressing a megadouche up in brownface and telling him to fake a foreign accent to sell some revolting chips might be deemed offensive.
* You can make popcorn in the microwave using a paper bag and some popcorn
* Google George Zimmerman's MySpace profile and tell me he's not guilty
* 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi Arabian citizens
* I need a 1 BR apt in Portland near the Yellow Max line with no carpet and a gas stove


Portland, OR, USA

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hello. It's nice to meet you.

Hello! It's nice to meet you.

I have thought often about what I might write to you. I was so terribly excited to finally have the opportunity to say something to you. You know? To really make a difference. To impart upon you some great piece of wisdom. To share some new information with you.

You have already shared so much with me, and I know that I will be learning so much more from you. So what can I do for you? I believe in treating others how you want to be treated.
So, maybe I can make you laugh?

Here is my favorite joke:
George: Have you heard the one about the snake in the golf hole?
Lisa: No, I haven't.
George: Neither have I.

As you can see, joke telling is not my forte. The faces that I make to go along with the jokes is where my comedy lies ( I apologize if I did not use the correct form of that's confusing).

What else can I share with you? I love to bake. I often substitute coconut oil (cold pressed organic virgin) for half or all of the butter to change the flavor profile and perhaps make baked treats a little healthier. I also add a tablespoon of high quality baking powder to any recipe calling for chocolate. This always adds a lot to the chocolate flavor!

I think what I want to share the most with you is my passion. Truly and deeply, I am an artist and want nothing more than to share art with you. Specifically, I would love to sing you a song I've written. Since I can't sing to you, I thought I could write down the lyrics to a song I recently wrote. You can imagine a melody, write another verse, paint a picture, make a sculpture, or ignore it. Whatever suits your fancy.

"Hey Moon"

Hey, Moon! How's it going? Are you waxing? Are you waning? Have you seen the sun recently?
Hey, Moon! How's it going? Are you full? Are you new? Are you pulling the tide to and fro?
The stars are shining bright. I can hardly see their light beyond your beauty. My beautiful Moon.
Hey, Moon! How's it going? Hanging high in the sky, you hold the secrets to the night.
Hey, Moon! How ya doin'? Haven't seen you in some time. I 've been workin' all day long, sleepin' away the night.
The stars are shining bright. I can hardly see their light beyond your beauty, my beautiful Moon.
Hey, Moon! How ya doin'? Haven't seen you in some time. How I miss you. I want to kiss you, instead I see you in the sky.
My beautiful Moon.

Thank you for your time.

Kira Hirschfeld
Raleigh, NC

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Playing in the Sandbox

When I was in elementary school, maybe eight or nine years old, the school threw a fun event at night. I don't remember what it was called or what activities it offered, save one: a classroom filled with hundreds of craft supplies where you could make anything you wanted. This room had fabric, pipe cleaners, paper, paints, glue, wood scraps, wire, glitter, pottery, plastic shapes… and so on. It was a kid's dream come true and I spent quite a while in the room, creating things. I don't recall what I made, but I do remember my awe at all the cool stuff in that room, and I wondered why there weren't more kids in there taking advantage of it.

Today, I work at a company that is just like that room full of goodies, but for adults. It's called Sandbox Industries.

Sandbox is an entrepreneur's dream come true, just like that classroom was a child's. If you are fortunate enough to become a Founder-in-Residence at Sandbox, you're free to start your own company - anything you can imagine - and make use of Sandbox's metaphorical room full of craft supplies to do it. Our Startup Foundry offers development, design, copywriting, finance, PR, and social media services to entrepreneurs so that they can build whatever they want from scratch. In other words, we give founders the tools they need to start a business, and all they need to do is be creative and enterprising enough to use those tools to their advantage.

It's amazing to see what happens in an environment that is truly creative and collaborative. These entrepreneurs aren't competing against each other. They're working side-by-side toward a common goal, which means that they learn from each other's successes and mistakes as well as their own.

When I first started searching for jobs, I had no idea there was anything this cool out there. I stumbled into Sandbox by accident, basically. And it got me to thinking… What other amazing things are out there?

I hope that, if you're not excited or satisfied by what you do, you find the place that is as fun for you as Sandbox is for me.

Chicago, IL

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Recipe for Love

"I think it is time for you to make another batch," my partner solemnly said to me this morning.
I use to make it every year. It grew to be a notorious, magical, wild concoction of various mind-altering substances. Each successive year I would study nature and try to learn more about plants, natural aphrodisiacs, and things that could effect our emotions in a positive and loving way and I would experiment.
Some years were definitely more successful then others but in general, as with most things, my love potion got better with time. But then I stopped making it.
I am not sure why. Was it because I fell in love or because I grew up, got a real job? I don’t know. I just stopped and never really thought about it again until now.
Organizing my bookshelf I came across the book I found many moons ago, at a wise womyn’s garage sale, with this simple recipe outlined below.

1 ounce dried damiana (Turnera diffusa) leaves
1 pint vodka
¾ pint spring water
½ to 1 cup of honey
Infuse the damiana in the vodka for five days, and then strain through a coffee filter. Set aside the vodka tincture and put the leaves to soak in the water for another five days. Stain as before. Discard the leaves. Heat the water infusion just enough to dissolve the honey. Add the amount of honey according to how sweet you wish the cordial to be. When cool combine with the vodka.

I would take this cordial and combine it with a number of different ingredients. I started adding herbs to the damiana infusion. I experimented with time and the moon, scent and even the color of the final concoction.
I took courses and read book on ethnobotany and learned more about our complex relationship with plants. I discovered that honeysuckle helps us get over old emotions. Basil can balance the Madonna–whore complex. Cardamom oil is considered magnetic to the opposite sex. Ginger has been used as an aphrodisiac in China for three thousand years and is known to sharpen the mind and soothe the emotions.
Each year the potions grew in complexity but I never bothered to write down the ingredients from one year to the next. It evolved with me.
Love seemed less complex in those days. I wonder how much that had to do with these love potions.

Kamloops, BC, Canada

The best news I've ever received

There's good news, and then there's GOOD NEWS. It's good news when an unexpected check comes in the mail, or when your kid comes home with improved grades. But GOOD NEWS is life-changing. Today I'd like to talk about the best news I ever received. Here it is:

There is forgiveness for my failings.
There is grace for my faults.
There is love I can't understand.

This was life-changing news for me, because at heart, I'm rotten. I'm selfish. I'm a liar. Even when I do good things, too often I do them to try to impress other people, or to try to prove to myself that I'm not that bad, even when I know deep down that I really am.

People talk about karma; karma scares me. I'll never be a good enough person to deserve what I want. This is why this really good news changed my life.

The GOOD NEWS is that God knows me, knows all about me - and that he loves me anyway. That he offers me forgiveness if I'll just accept it. And that he offers me grace every day, and the chance to really be a
changed person.

God sent his son, Jesus, to earth for all of us. He lived a perfect life. He was the only person who karma really should've fully rewarded, and instead he died in my place, in your place. And then he didn't stay dead, but instead demonstrated the power to conquer death. One day he's going to come back to earth to set things right.

That's the best news I've ever received. It changed my life. It can change yours, too, if you'll believe it.

Chris Hubbs
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Life & Pizza

Every single one of us is going to be worm food in a hundred years, so have fun while you're here and try not to worry so much.

This used to scare the shit out of me, but we've been dead for the last 14 billion years and have had no objection to that.

Also, here is a recipe for a salt and pepper deep dish pizza crust which I love to make almost every week.


2 c warm water
4 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2c vegetable oil
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c cornmeal
5 1/2 c flour
1/4 c potato flour

2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper (if you don't want the salt pepper crust, use 1 tsp salt and no pepper)

Time to finish: 4.5 hours
Time where you're actively working on the pizza: 1.5 hours

4.5 hours before you eat

Fill a medium bowl with the 2 cups of water, mix / disolve the yeast into the water. Add the olive oil, vegetable oil, cornmeal, and half the wheat flour. Beat for about 10 minutes. Add the potato flour, the remaining wheat flour, and the salt and pepper. Lightly grease a bowl at least twice as large as the dough, place dough in the bowl, and cover with damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for at least 3 hours. Punch down the dough at least 3 times over this time.

1.5 hours before

Put the pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven and turn the oven to the max temperature.
Prepare sauce / toppings.

1 hour before

Roll out dough to about 1/2 cm thick to fit in deepdish pizza pan. There will be leftover dough, put it in the freezer or cook another pizza. Lightly oil deepdish pizza pan and put dough in it.
Add sauce / toppings.

30 min before

Lower the temperature to 450 F. Once it reaches 450, cook the pizza in the pan, on the stone, until the top is brown. Remove the pizza from the oven and get it off the pan and onto a rack by using a metal spatula to lift one crust of the pizza over the lip of the pan. With the stone still in the oven, increase the temperature to the max again. After the pizza has been on the rack for ~4 minutes, remove the stone from the oven and place the pizza onto the stone. After the pizza has been on the stone for ~5 minutes, remove from the stone, and its ready to eat!

Shea B.
Austin, TX

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The hidden gem of Europe

Hey guys!

Today I want to talk about a place very special to my heart: the country of Albania.

This is probably the point you groan with boredom; that's it? That's our email of the day? An informational on some little country?

As an Albanian-American who was born there and has returned several times to fall in love with the nation all over again, I am hoping I can dissuade any preconceived notions you might have. Albania is a small Eastern European country in the Balkans that is directly north of Greece. It has a long history of occupations (ex: Italy, the Ottoman Turks, etc.) and as such has an interesting fusion of a culture that blends old and new.

But let's get right into the heart of this. I urge you to GO visit. Take the path less traveled, this is what you'll find:

-A light-hearted, generous people (the role of the guest is an *extremely* important concept in Albanian culture - you will be in good hands)
-Pristine beaches with clear water on the Adriatic Sea (this will vary by location, but I am strongly encouraging you to go to Vlora for gorgeous beaches)
-Extremely affordable shopping and hotels (..seriously.)
-Good, simple Mediterranean food at alarmingly low prices (good bread + our own spin on cool tzatziki yogurt sauce + fresh salads, minimum. you especially need to try roast lamb here!)
-A penchant for music and dance, be it folk or techno
-Weddings galore. It's the Albanians' favorite excuse to celebrate and would be an unforgettable experience

And honestly? If there's even one year I advise you to uncover this gem of a place, it's now. 2012. It's the year of the Dragon. It's Albania's 100 year anniversary of independence. Et cetera et cetera. We're living in exciting times; go now.

Here's to good traveling, good food, and good people. Gezuar! Cheers!


Under The Tree Where It's Safe

The focal point of my elementary school's lobby was a big painting of two girls sitting under a lushly blossoming tree, looking down at what was either a book or a game or a picnic; my rememberance of those particular details is a bit fuzzy. But I remember the artwork, how its depiction of a pastoral spring day loomed over the hallway of the 1950s-issue school, and I also remember that it was in honor of two girls that had passed away. I'd thought, back when I saw it on a daily basis, that they had been killed in a car accident at some point before I'd reached school age.

Memory is a funny thing, though. It turned out that the two girls had actually died when I was in kindergarden, on a May day in 1981. This fact came up by accident on Saturday, when I was sitting in my parents' kitchen, the same one where I ate breakfast every day before trucking off to school and seeing that painting. My mother and I were talking about fear and Etan Patz, whose name had recently popped up in the news like a ghost from the beginning of that period in history where children were not just seen as the future but were seen as potential prey for media-created bogeyman with evil intentions -- baby-food poisoners, overly friendly bicycle-repair guys played by Gordon Jump, Satanist preschool teachers. "That shook me to the core," she said. "And then, those girls on Myers Avenue..."

I didn't know what she was talking about, but she filled me in -- don't you remember the painting, she asked me. I did, of course, and it turned out that it was painted in honor of the two girls, who had been brutally murdered, along with their mother, in the spring of 1981. The coroner, my mother noted, had never seen anything so brutal, so many stab wounds, such reckless disregard for another person's
humanity, let alone three of them. The crime shook our suburb, a grid-planned section of Long Island populated by so many who had left their outerborough upbringings for what they assumed would be a Better
Life, not just because of the trees and bigger houses but because of the illusion of safety, an idea that seemed ever more tenuous with the increasingly bad news emanating from televisions and newspapers but that could at least be achieved on a nuclear-families-in-it-together level. But it was one of those subtle earthquakes that only affects structures, one where the damage isn't fully revealed until many years later. The parents kept a brave face and cloaked the most gruesome details -- or at least, mine did, judging by how shocked I was on Saturday morning, hearing this awful, 31-year-old news as the sunlight beamed into the kitchen where my mother had probably first learned of this tragedy all those years ago.

That night I got home and started pulling up accounts of the crime; the first few I found were wire mentions of the perpetrator being caugh. And then this, from the New York Times, May 2, 1981:

"It was Donald Williams Jr. who several hours earlier had reported to the police that he had been attacked on Myers Avenue at 4 A.M. as he was returning home from a night out. He described his assailant as a young black man with medium build, who he said had come out of the darkness, stabbed him in both hands and the chest and then quickly fled."

Ah, the "young black man." You might not be surprised to find out that it was actually Williams, the family's across-the street neighbor, who committed the crime, a fact that the police figured out quickly (he was indicted less than a week later). That he floated a story that played into the prejuidices of the people who would be investigating and thinking about the crime probably isn't surprising, although it is depressing. But then again, doesn't fear play on those thoughts that lurk in peoples' brains -- especially those that are the ugliest to reveal outside of the context of a narrative that will support them?

Popular recollections of the 1980s might involve dayglo and stockbrokers, but for me, so much of that decade's narrative is wrapped up in the concept of being afraid. Some of it was personal: I was sickly when I was young; I was nerdy when I was older. But the milk cartons and movies of the week and the examinations of Halloween candy and so many other things created an atmosphere that taught children to look not just before they leapt, but before they even took the most miniscule step toward another person. It's something I'm still trying to shake off today, and when I read so many of the recollections of my peers about topics of all sorts, I wonder how many of them are still, in the depths of their minds, preyed upon by the vague memories of tales about people who are out to do nothing but cause them harm.

 maura johnston
Astoria, N.Y.

I Dare You

You are a unique, badass, and multi-faceted human being. There is no one else even remotely like you. Who are you to withhold your greatness from the world?

Why would you waste a second of your precious time pretending to be someone else? How dare you hide your gifts from us? Why would we want you to be like every other [insert category here] out there?

We don't.

We want you. The authentic you. The real, genuine, imperfect, weird, quirky, REAL you. Anything less than that is not enough.

Just be you. It's the most amazing gift you can give to yourself, to me, to everyone in your world, and everyone in the world.

It's easier for some people than it is for others. If it's hard for you, make it your life's work to search for and find your authentic self. There is nothing more urgent.

Take full responsibility for your thoughts, behaviors, actions, the consequences of those actions, and the impact you have on people around you.

Be grateful. Appreciate and love what you have and what's working.

Seek clarity. Figure out what you like, what you want, and what's important to you.

Make decisions based on what's aligned with your values and what you're passionate about.

Learn to let go of the things/people/thoughts that don't serve you or steer you toward happiness and fulfillment.

If you know what's important to you, it's easier to know why you are doing things and what things you should be doing. Don't waste time doing things that are not related to what's important to you.

Dare to be emotionally accessible, vulnerable, and to expand your emotional range. Go for depth, richness, and honesty. It's raw, it's terrifying, and it's exhilarating.

Whatever you are, whoever you are, and whatever it is that you're all about - OWN IT.

Be unapologetically you. Know what you're about and pursue your dreams with an open heart and genuine passion. If someone doesn't like it, that's fine. But it's not your problem.

Seek resonance. This is where the magic happens. Don't fear it. Embrace it.

Be alive. Be real. Be you.

I dare you.

Sandra Possing
San Francisco, CA

Friday, May 4, 2012

Everyday is a Restart Day

Hi everyone,
Today I’m taking a mental health day. At least, that’s what I call them. Sometimes I need a break. Especially at this time of the year, because it’s the end of the semester and I have so much to do and I haven’t been eating as healthy as I could or exercising as much as I like or sleeping as much as I need.
I’m an ambitious, busy, independent person. It’s really hard for me to admit that I need breaks. But I’m admitting it to all 13,226 of you (yes, I just checked) because I want you to feel okay about it admitting it, too. Taking the time out to recharge your batteries is often very productive – it gives you the clear mind and the energy you need to tackle your next great project.
I have a lot of things I need to do tomorrow, and the day afterward. I have a hundred things I want to do in the near future. But today, I need a break, and I’m doing the things that make me feel healthy and happy. Before I go out and conquer the world or something.
Before I go, a really fantastic high school student asked me to tell you this: “Everyday is a Restart Day.” Today, I’m restarting – I’m eating well, exercising, and getting a full night’s rest before I embark on tomorrow’s journey. And that is perfectly okay.

Megan Quinn
New York City

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Bloody Mar/y/ia from Juba, South Sudan

here is something that i have worked on for a long time.
you can sort out the proportions to taste, but it will make you a solid bloody maria.
even in south sudan you can find most of these things.
you may need to sneak the tomato juice in, or use ceres.
i have not put in proportions, but have listed these things in order of importance/operation/process. it's art. deal.
if you hate things that taste good you can substitute vodka for tequila

juba / 2012

make this recipe backwards, from the bottom up.

tequila (don't put this in until even after you've put in the juice(s)) -- and then - put a lot in.

1/2 cambell's tomato juice
1/2 clamato juice
(essentially, try to mix a heavy and light juice. If not, add some water or water and lemon. i haven't found either of those juices here in south sudan but it hasn't stopped me yet. don't put juices in until the very end.)

(the main bit


take all these things and slice them up.

then put in the stuff above)

dash of oj or other citrusy juice (lemon)
black pepper
worstchire sauce
onions (half shaved and half cut)
grated radish (good luck finding this)
chopped basil (or other similar smelly green herb)
chili pepper flakes
ground cayenne pepper
powdered ginger (or grated fresh)
pickle juice
pickled things (like pickled beans, for example. slice very thin) (if you don't have, skip or make your own pickles)
wasabi (get in a tube from nairobi)
horseradish (steal from fancy hotel in capetown.)
dijon mustard (or equivalent)

that's it. enjoy


Christopher Fabian
Juba, South Sudan


In 2006, I worked as a business journalist and did fun things like flying around the world to interview executives and reporting about what really rich people do with their money. I had a 9-to-5 job and an awesome salary. Three years later, the financial crisis hit and I, along with thousands of other people, was out of a job. So, for the first few days of my unemployment, I did what any other right-minded woman would do: I went to all of the sample sales that were happening during the daytime in New York and bought a lot of shoes. Eventually, my dwindling bank account forced me to open up my laptop and scour the Internet for jobs.

There’s no activity more disheartening than searching for jobs. Except watching an episode of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” while you’re out of a job, which I did, and it sucked. I applied for 23 jobs, and after each rejection, I spiraled down a path of self-doubt, uncertainty and depression. I had no direction in life. I felt like I was underwater, and I didn’t know which way was up.

In my misery, I started to try new things. I learned how to cook. I took up tango dancing. I read Harry Potter in Spanish. I bought a harmonica so I could sing away my blues.

I dared to try all of these things that I never had the courage to do before. But my biggest dare by far was to abandon the job search and apply to art school, to a program called ITP. Never in a million years did I think I would apply to art school. But the next two years were the most fun, the most challenging and the most rewarding times of my life. I learned how to program phone apps, make robots, create art and do things that I never thought I was capable of doing.

When I lost my job, I was poor, eating cliff bars for meals and collecting free samples of eye cream from Sephora. Today, I am still poor, eating cliff bars for meals and collecting free samples of eye cream from Sephora. What’s different, however, is my preconceived notion of my career path and who I am. Hitting rock bottom was the catalyst for me to reinvent myself and try things I never thought I could do. Like, I used to want to be a journalist. Now, I want to be a NBA basketball player. ;p

So, we will all undoubtedly hit many setbacks in our life. But embrace them because it’s a good kick-in-the-pants to try something new. Your “failures” could turn out to be the best experiences of your life.

Anh Q. Ly
New York, NY

Some thoughts


These are some things I've learned which guide the way I think, and which I value most. I hope they are the most valuable things I can offer to you. Of course, they come entirely from others, who I've paraphrased or quoted below. (I'll reference at the bottom.)

There is more advice and knowledge than I can ever consume. Most of it is probably good and useful to some extent. Hence, choice and prioritization are even more important.

The way something is presented is often more important than its content. The most important part of the way something is presented is how long it takes someone to consume it.

Time is the most important thing I have: "it has been said that time is money. That proverb understates the case. Time is a great deal more than money. If you have time you can obtain money--usually. But though you have the wealth of a cloak-room attendant at the Carlton Hotel, you cannot buy yourself a minute more time than I have, or the cat by the fire has" (Bennett).

I’ll spend maybe a third of my life sleeping. Traditionally, another third working, but: "there’s a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are 'making a living'. No, they’re not. They’re dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful. People will tell you that work ennobles you, that work lends you a certain dignity. Work makes you free. The slogan “Arbeit macht frei” was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. Utter nonsense. Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway" (Tan).

I try to guide what I do by this simple dictum: to do everything I do with intention. If one is happy to be average, it will happen. Being average is the default. Create, rather than consume. Consume with intention: don't watch TV, watch a show.

Last, I try to be mindful. What I mean by that is to be active in choosing what I think about, and to fight the defaults. Which is to say, for me, to be ego-centric. I like this mind-game from David Foster Wallace: "there are totally different ways to think about these [miserable, tedious] kinds of situations... [perhaps] the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he's in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way. Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket's checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do." But the point is not so much what you should think, rather that you get to choose what to think, and especially that you can choose to be happy. Strive to be happy.


Arnold Bennett's How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day.
Adrian Tan's commencement speech to NTU in 2008, "Don't work, be hated, love someone."
David Foster Wallace's commencement Speech to Kenyon College in 2005, "This is water."
Max Ehrmann's Desiderata.

Providence, RI