Only those who take leisurely what the people
of the world are busy about
can be busy about what the people of the world
(Chang Ch’ao, via The Importance of Living)
It snowed in Portland! I went for a sunny, snowy run. Felt like Christmas.
An oatmeal themed photoshoot at WFF HQ.
The glow of the Big Pink — got to the office bright and early for board meeting prep.
And left when the sun went down.
Another pretty early morning sky.
The gym in the snow.
So fresh, so pretty!
Lunch at Boke Bowl with Jill.
A much-appreciated act of service.
Office sun beams.
Putting together our wedding invites on Saturday.
Read Little Fires Everywhere for 3+ hours on Saturday. So good!
I love to read and sometimes lose track of my favorite reads in a given year. Here’s a list, to the best of my recollection, of what I read in 2017. I’m sure I’m missing a couple that were less memorable. I’ll be tracking what I read in 2018 as I go along in a separate post.
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Best book I read in 2017. Read the entire thing on one flight and was worried the flight would end before I could finish. The characters in this book are beautifully developed and the storyline somehow both leisurely paced and compelling. I was surprised how much I loved this book about baseball considering how little I enjoy baseball.
Homegoing by Yaa Gwasi
Loved this one too. Also beautifully written and takes place across generations, tracking from the beginning of the African slave trade to modern day. Highly recommend.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
I enjoyed this book but read it right after Homegoing, which I really loved, so it’s not as memorable for me.
A Feast for Crows (Game of Thrones: Book 4) & A Dance with Dragons (Game of Thrones: Book 5) by George R. R. Martin
Jumped back into the Game of Throne book series. I’ve never seen the show so the plot hasn’t been ruined – was on the edge of my seat for the last couple chapters of the fifth book. Come on George R. R. Martin… we need that sixth book!
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
A nostalgic re-read that brought me back to childhood. Crazy how outdated the perspective on women’s rights and marriage is, despite being a forward-thinking book for its time.
Harry Potter (Books 1, 4, 5, 6, 7) by J.K. Rowling
A near-complete re-read of the best series ever. I usually do this once a year or so when I want that comforting entertainment.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
I was reading this book right before Peter proposed to me in September! It’ll always have extra good vibes for that reason, in addition to the fact that it’s a stunning book on writing.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
This book is incredible… read it.
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco
Loved this book and have recommended it and given it as a gift to several people. So funny and full of helpful life advice.
Start-Up Boards by Brad Feld
We have a Board of Directors now, so I read this book. It was pretty helpful.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
Funny, but not super memorable.
Power by Jeffrey Pfeffer
Recommended by a friend, this book is all about power (as you could have guessed). An interesting read that I’ll probably re-read to refresh my memory.
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
Love me some Brene Brown – not a lot of new material in this book, but a thought-provoking read nonetheless.
Disrupted by Dan Lyons
This book was so over the top, I stopped enjoying it. Parts were funny, but by the end I was pretty sick of this guy and his observations of start-up life.
The Nix by Nathan Hill
A well-written fiction book with lots of unexpected plot twists and great social commentary. Peter purchased this one and gave it to me, so I knew nothing about it when I started reading. I would recommend to anyone who wants to read a fiction book but is sick of the repetitive plotlines of mainstream fiction.
The Dip by Seth Godin
Seth being Seth. Thought-provoking, pithy, smart.
Packing some boxes in the basement before heading to Florida for a buyer meeting.
Work travel is usually not so glamorous, Part 1.
Work travel is usually not so glamorous, Part 2.
You know you’re in the south when, Part 1.
You know you’re in the south when, Part 2.
Mandy, you’re killing the magazine game.
Bought some new stamps for our wedding.
Headed to Tumalo, Oregon for a long weekend. We’re getting married here in June.
Scouting out the ceremony site in the desert.
Our friend Ryan and his son Wesley joined us for the weekend. They are so cute.
Cuteness in action.
An evening view into our kitchen from the couch. Doing some late night work.
Peanut butter and honey toast has been a consistent source of comfort in my life.
Another consistent source of comfort in my life.
Valentine’s Day tradition at Lovely’s 50/50 with my #1 boo.
Breakfast on brand.
A sweet card from an old friend.
Rainy Portland bridge walking.
Sometimes I really relate to my car.
My favorite boxes.
We hosted a Girls, Inc event at our office! Our office was full of high school girls.
Erika ran the show and set up an awesome almond butter making activity. It was so fun to see how excited the girls were to learn about Wild Friends and create their own flavors. All of these girls wanted to be engineers, scientists, and doctors. Girls, Inc is doing so much to empower the next generation of female leaders. We’re proud to contribute to the work they do.
The girls also designed their own labels. I loved this one… check out the teeth!
We’ve been running this company for 7 (!) years. Every year we go out to a fancy dinner just the two of us to celebrate (here’s my post from our dinner in 2014). This year we upped the ante and spent two nights at the Ace Hotel to enjoy some 1:1 founder “staycation” time.
We went to yoga at Yoga Pearl, had breakfast at Prasad, wandered around downtown and browsed at a few shops (including Powell’s of course), worked and drank tea at TeaBar, and ate dinner at Departure. Then we saw The Post at Living Room Theaters with a bucket of popcorn. It was such a decadent, relaxing, fun day with my best friend. We are lucky to have found each other as cofounders. #workwife
We’ve spent many, many nights in hotel rooms together over the last 7 years… it was a treat to stay at a hotel for fun without a tradeshow or meeting in the morning.
It’s February! Whoa.
Wild Friends does Valentine’s Day right.
Most of our office team, represented in the form of salads.
City lights on my walk to the bus.
Reading in bed on a Saturday night.
More reading – kicking off Sunday with The Daily Stoic and tea.
I’m still off Instagram, per my New Years Resolution, and I’m loving it! A few photos from my phone to share…
A message for myself (via Austin Kleon).
How Peter entertains himself while I finish work.
Breakfast date post-gym on Saturday.
Stop in at Tabor Bread to see Caroline mid-walk on Sunday.
Gave blood with my mom! We race to see who can give blood fastest. She beat me by two seconds.
New office views.
I cut Erika’s hair after work. She cleans up. It’s pretty glamorous.
My “motivation” to exercise on the chalkboard wall at the gym.
Flew to Cincinnatti. Ate some almond butter.
Lunch with Oprah.
The WF Marketing Team putting together some super cute Valentines gifts.
An evening of R&D.
The Wild Friends team volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank this week. We repacked onions into smaller bags. It was fun!
Costco date with E. We bought a big screen for our conference room.
Coffee and plants.
We hosted eight people for dinner on Sunday night. Peter made soup, and our friend Claire came over early and made homemade mozzarella cheese (!). Art above our stove by Corita Kent.
I’m taking a break from consuming social media this month to read instead (among other things). I deleted the Instagram app from my phone and I’ve been spending more time in my Kindle app reading in 5-10 minute segments instead of scrolling. A nice element of reading is that it doesn’t have the same endorphin rush as Instagram (still feels like “work”), so I’ve already noticed myself grabbing my phone less when I’m in the middle of a task, since the alternative activity on my phone isn’t as fun as it used to be.
Nevertheless, I’ve continued to take iPhone photos during my social media hiatus. Lacking my usual photographic outlet, I thought it might be fun to post snippets from life here, if for no other reason than to create a visual diary of sorts.
Beautiful skies on the first few days of the year.
Pretty pretty sky.
My coworker at the home office (insert heart eyes emoji here).
We moved offices this week. Just down the hall – the easiest move we’ve ever had.
It’s our first office that isn’t set up like an open office – lots of doors for quiet, deep work spaces.
Erika seems to be enjoying it.
A visit to my local hardware store to get copies of keys made and some house stuff. We painted our bathroom this week and I broke a lightbulb in the process.
Lots of cute homemade signs everywhere.
Thought about getting one.
My lunch aboard a plane to Cincinnati on Tuesday.
And my dinner when I arrived around 11pm EST. #WildFriendsFun
Peter and I listen to The Tim Ferriss Show every week. As a result, we are richer intellectually, physically and spiritually. The only way we aren’t richer is financially, since we’re suckers for the books Tim recommends. We figure it’s a worthwhile trade off.
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday is one such recommendation: arriving on our doorstep mere days after it was mentioned on the podcast (Marry me, Amazon Prime!).
The book is based around the Roman philosophy of stoicism. Stoicism is something that is practiced by those who would prefer to maintain calmness in the face of frustration.
The philosopher and writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes a Stoic as someone who “transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation and desire into undertaking.”
Um, yeah, okay – sign me up for that. Sounds very zen.
In all seriousness, as someone who has actively avoided anything with “philosophy” in the description, I was surprised at how inspiring I found this book. Holiday does an excellent job breaking down Stoic philosophers’ ideas into modern day advice. (And I freaking LOVE modern day advice.)
Here’s some key takeaways for me. About half of these are now personal mantras. (I told you it was a good book!)
Loving your fate
A key idea, reinforced frequently throughout the book, is “amor fati” – love your fate. Anything that happens around you, or to you, must not only be okay with you, but be the best thing that could have happened.
Holiday writes, “No-one is talking glass half full platitudes here. This must be a complete flip. Seeing through the negative, past its underside, and into its corollary: the positive.”
This isn’t an excuse not to reach your goals, to love your fate no matter what and not reach for more. No – Holiday argues that by loving your fate (the things you can’t control) you can more easily navigate past the obstacles towards your goals, with a clear head and happy heart. Loving the journey without being attached to any one route.
“Think water. When dammed by a man-made obstacle, it does not simply sit stagnant. Instead its energy is stored and deployed, fueling the power plants that run entire cities.”
Becoming Immune to External Stressors and Limitations
We’ve all met someone (or in my case, live with someone) who never seems ruffled, concerned, or angry. When faced with adversity, they break down the tasks in front of them into pieces and calmly get back to business.
Isn’t that annoying?
Holiday says that advantage is available for each of us to gain. We can all be that calm person unfazed by traffic, a bad boss, a stolen laptop, a missed opportunity.
He writes of Stoicism: “It’s a power that drives our opponents and competitors nuts. They think we’re toying with them. It’s maddening – like we aren’t even trying, like we’ve tuned out the world. Like we’re immune to external stressors and limitations on the march toward our goals. Because we are.”
Holiday quotes Obama’s advisor, Rahm Emanuel, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Things that we had postponed for too long, that were long-term, are now immediate and must be dealt with. A crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”
Loving the crisis (loving your fate) is the way to embrace the stress, use it to your advantage, to push past barriers, and get stuff done.
(Which explains why writing a college essay the night before it’s due is always so much easier…)
Enjoying the process
Stoicism encourages us to “Think progress, not perfection”, to break down obstacles in front of us into small pieces.
“And when you really get it right, even the hardest things become manageable. Because the process is relaxing. Under its influence, we needn’t panic. Even mammoth tasks become just a series of component parts.”
Expecting and preparing for tough times
The only thing we can change is ourselves. The world isn’t going to get easier to live in, work won’t magically become less stressful. Holiday explains, “You’ll have far better luck toughening yourself up than you ever will trying to take the teeth out of a world that is – at best – indifferent to your existence.”
Holiday pushes us to not only like (or love) tough times – but to expect and prepare for them.
I especially love this section:
“Are you okay being alone? Are you strong enough to go a few more rounds if it comes to that? Are you comfortable with challenges? Does uncertainty bother you? How does pressure feel? Because these things will happen to you. No one knows when or how but their appearance is certain. And life will demand an answer. You chose this for yourself, a life of doing things. Now you better be prepared for what it entails.”
^(Repeat to yourself each morning while brushing your teeth).
Flipping the obstacles
Winston Churchill had an acronym he would return to frequently: KBO. Keep Buggering On. (This will probably be my future tattoo).
Loving tough times, expecting tough times, and then pushing through tough times relentlessly takes a special kind of strength.
Holiday says the only way to gain this strength is to practice by doing, building mental muscle.
“Passing one obstacle simply says you’re worthy of more. The world seems to keep throwing them at you once it knows you can take it. Which is good, because we get better with every attempt. Simply flipping the obstacles that life throws at you by improving in spite of them, because of them. And therefore no longer afraid. But excited, cheerful, and eagerly anticipating the next round.”
It’s not about you
These are all inner tactics and techniques to steal your mind. But sometimes the best way to get out of your own suffering, to get out of your own head and love the struggle, is to think about others.
Holiday encourages us all to step out of our selfish struggles and to understand that someday we will die. Our individual legacy is small. But we have the opportunity to be part of a greater whole, feeling the same feelings, and experiencing the same struggle.
“Embrace this power, this sense of being part of a large whole. It is an exhilarating thought. Let it envelop you. We’re all just humans, doing the best we can. We’re all just trying to survive, and in the process, inch the world forward a little bit. Help your fellow humans thrive and survive, contribute your little bit to the universe before it swallows you up, and be happy with that. Lend a hand to others. Be strong for them, and it will make you stronger.”
The Stoic Mantra
See things for what they are
Do what we can.
Endure and bear what we must.
What blocked the path now is a path.
What once impeded action advances action.
The Obstacle is the Way.
I just completed AltMBA – a crazy, interesting, and, ultimately, transformative experience I’ll probably write about later.
Notable in and of itself is that the program requires students to write and published three researched, thoughtful blog posts every week.
Now that it’s over (it’s been over since Monday), I kind of miss writing that frequently. I would not normally choose to start writing after a busy day at work – but I did it anyways. It was required, and I did the work.
I’m hoping the muscle memory of writing frequently continues in this space post AltMBA.
There’s something about showing up to write day in and day out that’s really inspiring. I mostly turned out mediocre writing – until an idea would appears that I’d never even heard myself think before.
It’s pretty cool – and I hope to keep doing it here.
A few things I’ve been thinking and noticing lately:
- I am very momentum driven. Working a lot = I like working. Taking a break from routine and having a sporadic schedule (i.e. holidays) is like climbing into a warm bath I don’t want to get out of. It’s hard for me to jump into the rushing river of work – but once I’m in the water’s fine. Reminding myself this as I gear up to get back to the office tomorrow.
- Sleep is my single biggest influencer. Not a big surprise, I’ve always known this, but getting enough sleep over the holidays has reminded me that I am a different (much better) person when well rested.
- My self-deprecating humor is probably enforcing some habits I don’t love about myself. Example: I’ll riff on the fact that that I hate summer and sunshine, or that I’m bad at directions. True as these statements may be for me now, saying them out loud over and over is likely subconsciously preventing me from taking steps to change.
- Tuna salad on greens (with Mama Lil’s peppers) has been my favorite lunch for weeks and is still going strong.
- I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction (for AltMBA, rapidly approaching). Feeling ready for fiction. Next up may be my yearly or so re-read of the Harry Potter series.