Friday Favorites -- 11.9.18

One of the strangest things about the internet, to me, is how many people want to know what _____ I am wearing in photos. haha. I mean I get it, I think that too when I’m scrolling — I just never thought people would wonder those things about me. But here we are. So here are some of the things I’m wearing, and some of the things I’m really loving this week. :)

MVMT Sunglasses

I LOVE these glasses. I got the matte black, which is really striking — I’ve gotten tons of compliments. It’s also my first pair of polarized sunglasses — and wow, what was I thinking not buying these before?? Especially in Colorado. I drive into the sunrise every morning for work, and these are truly amazing. They’re a little pricier than sunglasses I’ve had in the past, but I can say after a few weeks of wear, they are totally worth it. Check them out here. And use my code: emilyventures15 for $15 off your order :)

Fireplace channel

If you watch my Instagram stories, first — sorry haha, and second — you’ve probably seen my love of the fireplace channel. I don’t have a fireplace of my own, but this honestly does the trick. I looked it up on demand one day and never looked back. I’m the type of person that likes a little background noise so the cackling sounds are perfect. I can clean, read, whatever, and have a little ambiance. It’s especially great on a snowy day. Making the most of what you have. :)

outdoor voices 1

Outdoor Voices Set

Everyone is hip to Outdoor Voices now right? I can’t tell if it’s everywhere, or if I just think that because I spend so much time on their website that all of my ads are targeted towards them. Hmm. Well if you aren’t, you gotta get on it. Outdoor Voices is a woman founded company that has a great mission, doesn’t airbrush, and has the coolest gear. The fabrics are awesome, the styles are original (although now often cheaply imitated) and they honestly just feel good to wear. I’m not in any way sponsored by them (although, hey call me :) haha) I just really love my pieces, and want everyone to know. My leggings are here, and crop is here.

hallmark

Christmas movies

Gosh, I’m really into a lot of sitting on the couch this week aren’t I? Haha… but seriously I kind of am. The time change hit me hard, and then a cold hit me even harder. This week has mostly been about getting home from work, putting on something cozy, and going to sleep early. In between there somewhere I have watched two Hallmark Christmas Movies. A little early, I know, but I can’t help it. If you need an escape of any kind, this is the way to do it. They are so unrealistic, and so predictable — but I love that about them. It transports you to a different state, you don’t have to pay too close of attention, and it just makes me feel good. Everything doesn’t have to be so serious. What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

the dream

The Dream Podcast

I’ve just caught up on this podcast, and it is really interesting — basically just the topic. It’s about MLMs (multi-level marketing) companies and it really is fascinating. I won’t give too much away, but if you’re wondering about all the things your friends are selling on Facebook, and/or need a new podcast to binge, give this one a shot.

Thanks for reading :)

Friday Favorites - 3.24.17

 “I’d never seen anything like it before, but it fitted to me exactly. It’s something that’s in the air – it’s different. The sky is different, the wind is different. I shouldn’t say too much about it because other people may be interested and I don’t want them interested.” - Georgia O'Keeffe on New Mexico

I haven't been so great about blogging lately. Mostly because the days are longer and I'm spending every moment possible outside. duh. But here are some things I've loved this week:

This Place

I went to Taos this past weekend and stayed in an earthship! It was so perfect and beautiful and relaxing. I was completely off the grid in the middle of nowhere outside of town - I really can't recommend it enough. You can read more about earthships and Taos here.  And/or watch my instagram story below:

This Data

I am currently reading 4 different books. And although I am not tracking a specific reading goal this year - I still project somewhere around 50 books read. While that sounds like a lot (and it is) think about all the books that exist! I want to read them all! But can I?

Emily Temple at Literary Hub decided to find out. She used data from the Social Security Life Expectancy Calculator and the average number of books read by different groups per year to find how many books you can still read in your lifetime. I've got around 2,800 left! I better choose wisely :) Look at the data here

This Recipe

I am restricting myself from meat for March (and into April for Lent), so I have been trying lots of vegetarian recipes (but mostly eating a lot of bread, french fries, veggie pizza, and macaroni and cheese haha). Anyways, I've found a winner! Buffalo Tofu!

Tofu?! It might sound scary if you've never worked with it, but this recipe is super easy and tastes so amazing I made it two days in a row. Head over to Killing Thyme for the recipe here (and thank me later) :)

This Timeline

The Atlantic recently went live with their "Life Timeline" You enter in your birthday and they give you a personalized timeline of world events from your birth into the future. Each event links to an article for more info. Some of it was meh but most of mine was pretty interesting. Try it for yourself here. 

This Soundtrack (and show)

Have you been watching Big Little Lies?? If you haven't, block out some time and get someones HBO password ASAP. The show is pretty addictive, but the best part is the soundtrack. While there is no official soundtrack, much has been written about the music on the show and you can find all the songs cataloged in many places. Find the songs from Episode 5 here. And this spotify playlist for more:

Happy Friday! I'm headed to California next week - follow along @emhart11 :)

Friday Favorites - 3.10.17

"I always have my own rules, and I can bend them if I want. I can see the confines I’m working in, but nobody else knows I’m doing it." - Jack White

Reminiscing: 

Yesterday I had a really awful morning. The kind that makes you rethink your entire life/place in the world etc. I tried to achieve some balance from, what else, reading random things on the internet. I read one of those articles (blogs) that regurgitated the same "social media is filtered, fake, etc." story. I was struck, again, by how much I disagree with that. 

I wrote this on Instagram and, although it may not be super eloquent (like this) I really believe it. 

I accidentally just read one of those blogs masquerading as news. It told me for the umpteenth time that social media isn’t real life, take it with a grain of salt, don’t compare etc etc. I look at social media as the complete opposite. This is real life. It is the absolute best parts of real life. The real life that, on a complete dumpster fire of a day like today (and it’s not even noon!), I can go back to in my mind if only for the few seconds it takes to find some kind of a throwback photo that brings me joy. And then I can post it in hopes that someone else finds beauty or joy in a photo of light coming in through a window in a corner of the desert. Because this is real life. And, you know, it’s pretty great.

So reminisce - please! Throwback Thursday, Flashback on Friday, whatever you feel like - it's your life. And it IS real life. How weird and unhealthy would it have been for me to post a picture of my morning breakdown in an effort to "be real?" Umm... no. I am purposeful in my life. I try to find beauty. It is there whether I instagram it or not - it is not a filtered view of anything. This is what I want to remember. 

More Reminiscing! (it's important remember)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Way to make me feel old ahhh. I never missed an episode growing up, I had the books, the VHS tapes, the posters, the outfits, and some crosses and stakes for the several years in a row I dressed up as Buffy for halloween. You can stream the whole series on Hulu and Netflix (and oh I do) - so if you never got into it in the beginning - do it now! It's still super subversive and amazing. 

There are so many great articles out today to commemorate the day. Here are a few I've read to start your journey into the rabbit hole (or should I say hellmouth) :)

Buffy's subversive feminism, NPR retrospective, how Buffy transformed TV, and Buffy and the birth of TV as art. 

Reading:

I just read this article/interview with Jack White in The New Yorker. I've always love White, but even more so now. Some cool takeaways from the article:

- White is obsessed with the number three. I have had an obsession (like, diagnosed) with it as well since before I can remember. "The number three is essential to his purposes. He says it entered his awareness one day when he was an apprentice in the upholstery shop. He saw that the owner had used three staples to secure a piece of fabric and he realized that “three was the minimum number of staples an upholsterer could use and call a piece done.” The White Stripes were built around the theme of three—guitar, drums, and voice. As both a stance and a misdirection, they wore only red, white, and black."

- He's into restrictions. This goes along with the number three. He says that, "the notion of restrictions appealed to White, who believes that, as far as his imagination is concerned, having too many choices is stultifying. The number three is essential to his purposes." I love this. I always talk (and write in this blog basically every week) about the importance of creative restrictions. Too many options is just that - too many. Restrictions are what allow us to come up with the most innovative ideas. 

- The Icarus Project. Omg. This is just geeky and perfect. "Recently, he put five years—a lifetime to him, he says—into a pricey piece of ephemera he called the Icarus Project, which involved sending a turntable into the stratosphere as it played a record, because a record had never been played at such an altitude. The project, he told me, exemplified his ambition “to be an eccentric and produce a beautiful moment that people will talk about.”

I especially love this quote, "White watched from a catwalk above the Detroit store, and about two hundred people watched with him, seeing the turntable revolve at one point with the curve of the earth behind it. The balloon exploded, and White thanked everyone for attending. Then he sat on a couch and said, “Now I can sleep at night.” This is exactly how I feel after completing something that I know is probably only important to me. But it is so important to me that I literally won't be able to sleep until it's done.

Listening:

I've been listening to PJ Harvey nonstop this week. I've been a fan for 15+ years, but like most things, the frequency of listening comes and goes.

I distinctly remember buying "Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea" as a 15 year old - and falling instantly in love. The music, her voice, lyrics, everything.

I'm also just really fascinated in her as a person. Like Jack White, and most artists, she is totally unique. She changes her style for each album and always brings a fresh perspective. Anyways, if you aren't acquainted, here is a list of her top albums. And if you aren't convinced yet, this is how the number one album is described:

Rid Of Me proves disturbingly relatable to anybody who’s ever been hurt by love, which is everybody, but it’s not the sort of album you casually spin while going for a drive. Truth be told, I don’t listen to it very often anymore — it’s too draining. It’s for moments when you crave all-consuming catharsis. Sometimes it’s enough just to know that this album exists. That it’s there waiting, for when you need to douse hair with gasoline, set it light and set it free.

Who could say no to that? :)

 

Thinking:

For my graduate theory class this week I had to read a whole lot of Foucault and write a paper. I've read a lot in the past, but never this particular excerpt from "Discipline and Punish" (sounds great already right?) Anyways, the architectural Panopticon is discussed and, well, let's just say it led to a never-ending (literally, it is still going) internet hunt for more information. 

A Panopticon is a circular building meant as a prison, where guards can observe prisoners at all times, but at a vantage point where the prisoners cannot see them. Therefore, the prisoners never know if they are actually being observed, but must display the same discipline regardless. It was designed by social theorist Jeremy Bentham, and despite it's popularity in theory, a true panoptic prison has never actually been built. 

The super interesting part of all this is the connection to the CIA wikileaks this week. Read up here if you're unaware. Like the telescreens in 1984, technology has in effect placed us in a panoptic society. We may be under surveillance at almost any time. Because we don't know if we are or not, our behavior may change. Foucault would say that we have become more docile as a result of the "unequal gaze" and therefore more easily coerced. There's obviously so much more to this, but even just the surface is an interesting thought experiment. If you want to go deeper... let's get a drink :)

Until then, read more here, here, and here

Planning:

Spring Break is just two short weeks away! I have a ticket to LA and a rental car for a week. I have trips planned to a few National Parks, some awesome AirBnB's booked, and... that's about it. I'll be in Mariposa (outside Yosemite), Carmel Valley, and Malibu - and while I won't have toooo much free time, I want your suggestions! What are some overlooked stops in these areas? Let me know! 

Happy Friday :) 

Friday Favorites - 3.3.17

“I thrive in structure. I drown in chaos.” 
― Anna Kendrick

I am, generally, a structured person. I started this Friday series in order to add some structure and deadlines into this blogging experiment. I have found through the experiment that while I really do enjoy the structure of a set post and the openness of the "five things I am interested in" outline - I want to try to add in more variability. 

I have found myself super busy recently and I don't want this to be a chore - it's supposed to be fun! Lately these posts have amounted to over five pages per week (single spaced!) of writing so I'm not going to shoot for five long researched interesting things each week - just things I'm thinking about - leave the longform for their own posts when I have the time and desire. And of course, this could change - maybe next Friday :) That's  the cool thing about this experiment - it is mine. It is literally my name and I can make it whatever I want it to be. So here are some of the things I really love this week. 

This Place

I was going through some old files this week and stumbled upon a brochure I picked up at Ghost Ranch a couple of years ago. Since then, I have basically been thinking non stop about it. Ghost Ranch was one of Georgia O'Keeffe's homes in New Mexico, and is now a retreat center where you can visit overnight or just on a day trip. 

It's no secret I love Georgia (read below for more evidence) and the desert. I could live in this picture. The smells, the sounds, the color, heck - even the dirt - I love it all. 

Ghost Ranch (and New Mexico in general) is a magical place that I highly recommend visiting. Find more info here

And read more about my adventures in New Mexico here, herehere, here, here, here, and here

This Article

The Brooklyn Museum just opened an exhibit on Georgia O'Keeffe - but not just her paintings, an exhibit featuring her style. Her persona. Anyone who is an O'Keeffe fan has no doubt been inspired by her sartorial choices, her words, and her attitude. The exhibit has paintings, as well as some of her clothing, and a retrospective of the many photographs taken of her. She is an icon in all three areas - and now I have a great reason to get back to Brooklyn to check it out. It runs from today through July 23.

More information on the exhibit here.

More information on O'Keeffe's here and here

 

This Quote

I love a good inspirational quote and I've been coming back to this one a lot this week:

"We don't see things as they are - we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

Life is so much easier (i.e. less annoying) when I remember this. So often (like, um, always) we assign judgement to others and their actions based on our own values. While I don't think it's realistic to refrain from any judgement, it's important to remember that it's all subjective. 

This seems super obvious, but the older I get the more I realize that the "obvious" things in life seem to be the easiest to forget. I have to constantly remind myself of these seemingly simple things. And it's not for others - sure, it's better for them if I don't judge them based on my own values - but remembering this is for me. My life is infinitely better when I stop assigning value judgments. Or, when I do, realizing that I have and remembering this quote. 

What are some of your favorite "obvious" quotes/sentiments?

This Thought

I always say that rather than thinking, creating, being etc.. "outside the box" that I just want a bigger box. I've been thinking about this a lot - I even wrote about it here. Structure is so important. Even if that structure is super limited. I need an expectation or a goal in order to succeed. I think many of us do.  Creativity testing has actually found that people are more creative when they encounter more obstacles, not when they are given total freedom. 

I really like a lot in this article. Here are some excerpts:

"The box itself has always represented limits, but why are those limits bad? And why can’t you simply expand those limits rather than ignoring them? Having limits provides an anchor or catalyst for your thinking, not a constraint. It’s actually how you go about thinking through the solutions that can be the real limit."

"Starting with the box, however, the sides give you concrete limits and useful details you can anchor your thinking around. But they don’t have to be the fixed limits everyone thinks they are. By examining those supposed limits, which are represented by the sides of the box, you can actually expand them to make your box bigger. And your “box” doesn’t have to be square. Add sides if needed to represent your specific situation."

What do you think? Do you work best inside a box? Outside? Within a bigger box?

This Media

Y'all! Are you listening to this podcast?? It is so good. If you don't know the background, Richard Simmons hasn't been seen in public for over three years now. The podcast features interviews and narrations by his friends in order to come to some sort of conclusion of what the heck happened. Of course, the premise itself is a bit icky, but it doesn't feel toooo exploitative or gross due to the hosts - who is a friend of Richards - genuine concern. 

Anyways, only three 30-minute podcasts have been released so far, but it's already been called "like Serial but better" - the highest possible podcast praise. I am hooked and I'm sure you will be too - listen here

And read more about Simmons and his public disappearance here and here

Happy Friday :)

Friday Five - 12.30.16

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” 
― Søren Kierkegaard

Resolutions < Goals

Did you know that of the 60% of people who make New Years resolutions, only around 8% keep them? That 25% of people will break them in just the first week and 80% will abandon them by February?? I feel like these or similar statistics are thrown around a lot this time of year but many people aren't deterred. We think we will be part of that 8% and set lofty resolutions each year. 

This year, like the last few years, I am not setting resolutions - I am setting goals. What's the difference? Well, goals are a plan to achieve something specific - resolutions are more of a permanent life change. Goal - I want to do yoga 5 times per week. Resolution - I want to lose weight. See the distinction? 

Resolutions are also often framed in the negative - something you want to change, lose, do better etc. Goals are just another awesome achievement you can add to your already cool life. 

How do you set a good, attainable goal? I have some acronyms for you, of course. Set a SMART BHAG. Whaaa?

A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Instead of "I want to lose weight" frame it as "I want to fit into my old jeans by June by attending yoga 5x per week and cooking at home 3x per week." Something like that. 

A BHAG is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It's something created by Jim Collins more for business goals but we used the term in the teaching program I was in and it's always stuck with me. A BHAG is something long-term and kind of crazy. Don't be afraid to think big!

Read more about goals here, here, and here

Importance of Reflection

Before you set some goals for 2017 I'm sure you will spend some time reflecting on 2016. The goals you made, what worked, what didn't, and what you want to change in the new year. Reflection is so important - not just at the new year - but every day! 

Reflection is the deliberate structured thinking that you do about your choices. It is an intentional attempt to synthesize what you've learned from an experience. A Harvard Business School study found that reflecting on a learning experience leads to better problem solving due to a greater perceived ability to achieve your goals. This perceived ability builds confidence (self-efficacy) and makes you better able to learn from mistakes, produce ideas, celebrate success, and help others. 

Reflection is the best way to change your perspective on a situation and ultimately be happier with your experiences. An easy way to reflect is with daily check ins like these from Joris Toonders. 

Daily Check In: 

Ask yourself these two question in the morning:

1. What are my goals today?

2. What are my challenges today?

Then ask yourself these in the evening to reflect:

1. Have I reached my goals for today?

2. What have I learned today?

So simple! Try it!

Read more here and here.

Choosing a Word

Albert Einstein said "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." So along with setting goals each year, I try to simplify by setting an overall theme for each year in the form of just one word. I've always known people who choose a word for their year and honestly thought it was pretty hokey until I tried it a couple years ago. 

Choosing a word is a great way to keep yourself focused on what matters. In teaching we backwards plan or "start with the end in mind" meaning if you don't have a destination or idea of what you want to achieve it's easy to get off track. A word works this way. While a goal is specific and a resolution is more open ended, a word is just a guidepost. It's also simple enough to not be overwhelming. 

So how do you pick a word? Well, I generally have an idea of the word that resonates with me or keeps popping up over and over but it's good to make a list. After you have your list, read the definition of each word, the roots, and the synonyms - you might find something even better. Then post your word up where you will see it every day, share it (if you want), and - consciously or subconsciously - let it guide you. 

Read more here, here and here.

Good Things

I think it's safe to say that many people are happy to see 2016 come to a close. This year has been a doozy for a lot of reasons and you only need to glance at a few memes (or this) to see why. But a lovely result of the "2016 is the worst" mindset are all the good things that have been showing up on social media. Friends have been posting the good things that happened to them, sharing lists of great discoveries, and heartwarming stories of goodness. 

While I don't think it's healthy to ignore all negativity and live in a dream world of Pollyanna positivity - focusing on the negative isn't going to help anything either! Studies have shown that we remember negative experiences more clearly than positive because negative emotions involve more thinking and processing time. Basically, we ruminate on the negative and then it becomes bigger in our minds. 

Researchers have also found that setbacks are twice as strong as positive progress in our memory and that a ratio of 5 to 1 good to bad things is what's needed to stay positive. Whoa. So play the glad game and look at all the pictures of baby animals, kids getting adopted, and families being reunited. Read all about the amazing discoveries made this year, the people who helped their communities, and others who achieved their goals. You need it! 

Good things here, here, and here. (and literally everywhere else - if you look for them)

Snow Erupting from Old Faithful?!

You may have seen on the news this week that snow seems to be erupting from Old Faithful - the famous geyser that erupts with boiling water every 74ish minutes at Yellowstone National Park. Well, there is snow in the air but it's not what is erupting. Hot water actually freezes faster than cold water and it's so cold (0 degrees Fahrenheit) that the water almost immediately freezes when it hits the air. So cool.

Watch a video here. Read more here and here.  

 

Happy Friday :) 

Friday Five - 12.23.16

"Do not be afraid of spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but 'steal' some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.” ― Albert Camus, Notebooks 1951-1959

Lone Geniuses

I just got back from a short trip to Arizona and, like almost every trip I take, I went alone. I do most things alone - I prefer it. So many people ask me how and why I travel alone, tell me that it is brave/adventurous, or ask what I am running away from. I just like being alone. That's the secret that's not a secret at all. 

Due to my proclivity for alone time, I'm always interested in studies about solitude. I recently read about a study in the British Journal of Psychology that found that while social interactions increase happiness generally, they have the opposite affect on people with higher intelligence. Not that I fancy myself a genius or anything but the logic makes sense to me. Intelligent people are driven to a specific purpose - or have a lot of interests and hobbies that can make social interactions more difficult. Whether they are more intelligent naturally or as a result of their curiosity and drive doesn't really matter. 

More than "genius" or "high IQ" I think that (and have lots and lots of evidence that) creative people are more likely to thrive in solitude. Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, and Howard Hughes are just a few of the many noted creative people throughout history who preferred to be alone. I know that I need a ton of alone time - not neccesarilly to recharge in the introvert sense - but to cultivate creativity. I mean, I can't research and write this blog about creativity and solitude if I wasn't, in fact, alone. :) 

So, as Nikola Tesla famously said, "Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born." It's nothing to be afraid of.  

Read more here, here, and here.

Biosphere 2 

On my trip to Arizona I stopped at Biosphere 2 in Oracle. Biosphere 2 is the famous closed ecological system where "biospherians" spent two missions living and working to simulate a space like environment. The longer of the two missions lasted two years, and while it had it's share of problems (a whole other posts worth) it was considered to be a success by many in the scientific community. 

The space and the science are super impressive but what I was interested in this week was the confined environment and isolation the biospherians experienced. Being stuck in a space (even one over 3 acres like Biosphere 2) for any amount of time with 7 other people is sort of my worst nightmare. Imagine only interacting with those people day in and day out - working, eating, socializing - everything. 

Now imagine the stress you'd already be feeling from harvesting and making your own food (one of the biospherians famously said that it took 4 months to make a pizza), conducting science experiments all day, and being the only engineers and maintenance of the amazingly large structure. Then add losing weight due to the low calorie diet, losing oxygen due to the closed system (oxygen got so low that it was equivalent to being over 13,000 ft above sea level), and then the effects of prolonged isolation such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, and boredom. Whoa. 

Confined Environment Psychology is super interesting and studies these sorts of environments - mostly long term Antarctic research stations (or, appropriately, ICE - Isolated Confined Environments) and uses the results for a model for life in space (just like Biosphere 2 and other Mars simulations aim to do). 

Read more about Biosphere 2 here and here. Read about confined environment psychology here and here. 

Or watch this TedTalk by one of the Biospherians: 

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 Productivity Cliff

I wrote a bit last week about American's tendency to overwork and not take all their vacation time. I couldn't understand why people would willingly do this so I did more digging. My theory has always been that more than 50 hours of work a week makes me less effective and efficient. While the average teacher spends 59 hours per week working, I've always been proud of my work life balance and ability to leave the unfinished work unfinished (to save my sanity). It turns out my theory is on the mark for most people.

According to a Stanford study there is a "productivity cliff" after 50 hours of work per week. The relationship between hours worked and productivity is linear (math woo!) up until 49 hours but then falls after 50. Productivity dramatically falls after 55 hours per week (the cliff) so much that someone who works 70 hours a week produces no more than someone working 55. Whoa. 

Long hours have long been shown to increase absenteeism, turnover, sleep disturbances (which leads to even less productivity), increase chances of stroke, heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes (in low-income jobs), and increase depression. So why do we do it? American's value work and "busyness" - but that is another topic entirely. Read on. :)  

Or first read more about the productivity cliff here, here, and here

Creating Margin

There was a piece in the Washington Post this week about how busyness has become a status symbol. According to a Harvard study, it's become the new conspicuous consumption - more people are able to have luxury items now so those items are losing their ability to signal importance or worth. Being busy all the time is a way to show your worth through perceived scarcity - (ie. I am very important and in demand). 

But if you read about the productivity cliff, the importance of taking your vacation time, or just have a pulse, you know that this isn't healthy or sustainable. You must create margin in your life. 

Margin is the "space between load and limits" or "between breathing and suffocating". It's the extra time intentionally planned into your day for the things that might come up or for the rest that you will need. And while you may not be signaling your importance, being intentional about creating margin opens up your life to more balance, creativity, and happiness. 

Read more here, here, and here. 

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Why I Use a Physical Planner (and you should too)

One more Friday of 2016 and you know what that means - new planner! I read this article on The Onion a couple weeks ago and am ashamed to say that many years I fall into the first few weeks then sporadic planner user group. But not this year. I actually started a new, undated planner a month ago (couldn't wait) and have tried to be very intentional about using it.

Successful people plan. They know where their time is being spent and where it is being wasted. If you are not intentional about time it can (and will) get away from you. If you want to create margin in your life, you have to be intentional. You have the power to design your own life - but you have to be conscious and plan it. 

So while I know all the important reasons to plan my days - there are also many reasons why I use a physical planner rather than one that is tech based. Here are some of them:

- Writing things down is linked to learning - you learn more when you write it as opposed to just seeing/hearing.

- Notes that are handwritten are remembered at a higher rate than those on a laptop.

- Physical writing helps you to focus - no notifications or other tech distractions

- Writing helps the brain stay sharp!

- Writing things down helps to mentally unload. You can think more clearly, receive ideas, and focus better once the mental clutter is on the page

- Writing down goals helps to achieve them. Self-authoring brings clarity, focus and direction.

(*Write your goals in your planner! You'll reap the benefits of writing them and of being reminded of them!) 

Read more here and here

Happy Friday :) *and Holidays!

Friday Five - 12.9.16

“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.”


― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This week has been a strange one. It's my last solid week as a 30 year old, it's colder in Denver than it has been in 2 years, it's the week before finals, and it snowed! It's been the sort of week that somehow feels long and short at the same time. A week where I have been happy and sad and everywhere in between for reasons I mostly can't even remember now. So, just like this scattered week, here is a scattered list of five things that have gotten my attention:

Emotional Relationships to Numbers (aka thank goodness I'm a prime number again)

In three short days I will be turning 31! Like many others, I am excited to leave this year behind. - not just 2016 but 30. It wasn't all bad - in fact, it was mostly really great - but the number 31 itself is exciting for me.

Why is 31 so interesting? Well, I am a math teacher, so I'm sure it's not surprising that I love reading about numbers. But my fascination is not just with numbers in a mathematical sense, but the emotions and relationships we have with numbers. I - like a lot of people - have always been obsessed with the number 3. I count out everything into groups of three. Three (and any multiple of three) feels calming to me. I'm also really interested in prime numbers - the lack of pattern and divisibility make them unique. I also like that 3 and 1 are both odd, that 3 divided by 1 is 3 and that the difference between the two are equal to the digits of the number. So.. maybe the fascination is mostly sort of mathematical (and strange). 

While I am excited about 31, my favorite numbers are actually 11 and 3. There are so many interesting studies about favorite numbers and number relationships. Even numbers are seen to be good or calm, while odd numbers are seen as bad. Evens are said to be feminine while odds are masculine and more difficult to process. Despite the seemingly negative connotations, odd numbers are far more likely to be someone's "favorite number"

The number 7 is - by far - the most common favorite number in the world. It is arithmetically unique and seems mystical in some way. It's the only one digit number that isn't a part of another single digit fact family (nothing under 10 can be divided into/multiplied etc to make 7). Three feels that way for me. It's odd, it's prime, it's curvy, and it's everywhere in art. Eleven is odd, prime, but still has even characteristics (add up to an even, first two digits of the Fibonacci sequence, etc..) 

If you want to learn more about favorite numbers and the emotional relationship we have with them, listen to this episode of Radiolab (embedded below) or read this, this, or this

Petrified Forest National Park

Today marks the 54th anniversary of the establishment of Petrified Forest National Park. I visited the vast park in the middle of nowhere nearly two years ago now. 

Interesting part of the parks history: at one point the park said it was losing 1 ton of petrified wood a month to visitors illegally smuggling it out. The park took several punitive steps to curb the theft but found that it actually seemed to increase with the attention placed on it.

I recommend a great, short, Criminal podcast (embedded below the pictures) about the wood theft. It talks about the bad luck people claim to experience after they've stolen wood from the park and the subsequent letters they send back (with the wood) in the hopes of their luck being reversed. The so called "conscience letters" used to be on display at the park - now they are trying to step away from that narrative - but the letters are still available on the website "Bad Luck, Hot Rocks" and book of the same name. Here are a couple of my favorites: 

Read more here and here

Creators vs. Consumers

Last weekend I spent Saturday night getting (much needed) drinks with a friend and catching each other up on our creative projects. Through the night - as we got a few more drinks and a little more honest in our venting - the refrain "at least I'm doing something" came up more than once. It can be frustrating and lonely to try to make something new. To put yourself out there for judgment. But at least I'm creating. At least I'm trying. At least I'm sharing. At least I am doing something. 

While "sharing" online seems to be constant, most people are not actively creating content. Consider the 1% rule of the internet - the theory that 1% of users actively create new content and that 99% generally "lurk" on most platforms . The 1-9-90 Principal is similar - that 1% of users are creators, 9% are synthesizers (Blooms Taxonomy woo) and 90% are just consumers. The Pareto Principle is also very similar and theorizes that 80% of content is created by 20% of users. 

Any way you look at it it's a very small percentage of people creating and the overwhelming majority of people are simply consuming. Here are some interesting stats I found:

0.2% of Wikipedia users ever contribute new content

44% of twitter users have never even tweeted (lurkers) and only 3% tweet daily

< 0.1% of YouTube users are creating any content

1-3% of Reddit users are contributing

< 1% of people who buy books on Amazon leave reviews

I don't know about you but I'd rather be a creator. I may not always create the best content but at least I am creating it. Creating gives you power - the only cultural influencers are creators. Consumers are passive. They believe they have limited options and work within a framework that's already been decided. Boring. And the more you create the better it gets! 

Read more about creating vs consuming here, here, and here

 

Psychology of Holiday Decor

One of the best parts of the holidays for me is the opportunity to decorate! I especially love Christmas decorating and despite living in a small one bedroom apartment, I have managed to fit in 7 Christmas trees of various sizes, shapes, and colors. 

 Generally I am the only person to ever see the 7 trees but I know that decorating is important to me and my mood. I wanted to know more so I did some digging into the psychology of decor. I ran into several articles talking about "neuroarchitecture"- the study of the link between neuroscience and the physical built environment. (i.e. how light affects mood)

Some interesting takeaways:

Clutter can sometimes be a good thing! It's been found that some clutter can be beneficial in a home and that being surrounded by evidence of who you are has a grounding effect. 

"Soft Geometry"or the idea that curved surfaces activate more emotional centers of our brain and cause us to relax. Conversely, a Harvard Medical School study found that sharp objects produced a negative feeling and conveyed a sense of danger. 

Plants reduce stress! Even just a picture of a landscape can improve concentration and lower stress. 

Rearranging can lift your moods! Just like the hedonic adaptation I talked about here, your physical environment can benefit from novelty. When you make changes in your environment, dopamine kicks in and motivates us. Easy way to rearrange: Holiday decor :) 

Read more here, here, and here

Math Stained Glass - Math/Art Connection

This week my classes all finished one of my favorite activities of the year - Math Stained Glass! They have to graph linear equations into a stained glass pattern then color them in and we put them on the window - instant fancy. 

The math art connection is so important to me. Every year kids complain that this "isn't art class" and I have to tell them it is. Math is art. They are inextricably linked. Here is some proof/things to ponder:

Maryam Mirzakhani, a mathematician who became the first woman and Iranian to win the Fields Medal (most prestigious award in math) works almost entirely visually. She sketches out everything on large paper and says that "The process of drawing something helps you somehow to stay connected”. This is math in the real world. It is open, creative, and outside the box. It is the direct antithesis of school math - math that is generally closed and absurd. School math poses very few interesting questions, and assumes a general algorithm can be used to find a tidy answer. That is not math.

Math is more than numbers and computation. The most powerful learning occurs when we use different areas of the brain. There are different pathways for drawing/visualizing and numbers and symbols and achievement has shown to improve when subjects are taught in a way that uses both of these pathways. Brain crossings are the definition of creativity - making connections between seemingly unrelated things and finding hidden patterns. The world is a pattern and math is all - guess what - patterns! 

Another creativity block in (boring) school math is the idea of "learning styles" that has permeated education and other fields despite there being no scientific evidence or brain research that supports the idea. Instead, many of the same styles and modalities apply to most people and EVERYONE is a visual learner! 

Visualization and visual representations are key in math. Students who use more visualizing in their curriculum achieve higher. Not just in math class, but students who are in more arts courses have been shown to score higher on SAT's and other standardized measures, as well as have more confidence, better motor skills, better decision making and problem solving skills. 

I could go on. And on. But if this is interesting to you read more here, here or here. (Or just bring it up with me over a glass of wine. But be prepared.)

 

Happy Friday :)