How are you greeting people these days? When you begin an email, or a call with someone you haven’t spoken to in a few months, do your words catch sometimes?
I find myself second-guessing convention more than ever: no more casual how-are-yous without taking a moment to really listen to the answer. I’m making more specific check-ins: How’s your day so far, how are things near you, are your kids getting anything resembling a meaningful plan for their school year? How are you regulating your nervous system?
(If you find yourself wanting to answer those questions, by the way, I hope you know that I welcome replies; they come to my personal inbox and while I’m not always quick to respond, I read them all, and I will reply.)
I notice that as I’m getting specific and close-up with people, I’m taking a similar approach with my days. This has been a year for getting close and going deep.
The photo up top is of the maple tree in my front yard. I’ve shared the land where that tree grows for five years, walked over its roots every single day -- and I think this is the first time I have taken a portrait of its leaves, taken the time to find the perfect angle and depth of field to try to capture the beauty I see in it, the way the leaves are coloured now, today. The plant life in the front yard has kept me connected to beauty, to life and its insistence, and to the passage of time.
Speaking of the passage of time: it’s been ages since I wrote to you. This year has been unrelenting on so many levels that I’ve typed a hundred different sentences to try to say something meaningful about it, and I've decided to concede defeat. Instead of trying to comment on this moment we’re in, I’m going to say this:
I have missed you. I have missed writing to you. That's what's true right now, and it's what's in my heart. I miss writing, and I miss all of you.
So, I am rekindling this newsletter. I’ll be sharing things I find noteworthy, and some of those things will be about how business can be a site of meaningful and ethical change (AKA my perennial obsession). There will also be curiosity experiments, and links to things that are thought-provoking, beautiful, and/or joyous. And perhaps you'll have your own thoughts about what you'd like me to include -- if so, I'd love to hear them.
Thank you for being here.
The first drag queen, William Dorsey Swann was hosting balls in D.C. more than a century before the heyday of the NYC ballroom scene that inspired Pose. (I can't help wondering if Swann inspired the phrase "swanning about".) A haunting account of one doctor's crucial data collection efforts to try to account for health care workers who died of COVID-19. An excellent close reading of Jean Milburn's house and its symbols in Sex Education (which, if you haven't watched yet, is bingeworthy). Oddly specific museums.
Things to make your business / work life better
I rewatched Big Boi waxing poetic about Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" and I'm so glad I did. That Alanis Morissette performance with her young child in arms has stayed with me for weeks: she's an attachment theory geek, and it shows.
Window Swap lets you look out of someone else's window for ten minutes. It's the best balm I've found yet for those days when I'm longing to travel. Bonus: sometimes a person's cat wanders through, or you hear muezzin singing the call to prayers, or someone speaks nearby, and it feels for a moment like you're just… sharing space.
My most treasured self-regulation tool: meditation music from a group of NYC indie folk musicians. I like it as writing/deep focus music, too. Bonus points if you buy it on a Friday, when 100% of proceeds go directly to the artists.
Flatter Me, a gorgeous and sweetly playful compliment battle card game from Ami Baio at Pink Tiger Games. Highly recommended, especially if your love language is words of affirmation.
One last thing…
If you're going to abide by one law, let it be the Tom Holland Law.
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