One thing you should always do

Now I’m the first to say I don’t know the answers and am certainly no font of wisdom, but there is one thing I do know. Always go to the funeral. Always. If it’s your friend’s grandmother, go. If it’s your great aunt who you hardly knew, go. If it’s a childhood friend, go.

Funerals are quite possibly one of the most devastating and beautiful events we can participate in. It’s the sadness of a spirit and life lost, but also a celebration of all the lives that person touched. The past eight months have been some of the most difficult I’ve had. Coping with the loss of a peer, a loved one, really took me down with full force. I’ve written about it at length here; writing so much has helped ease the pain. What really helped me most was showing up & being present for his memorial. Hugging his parents close, seeing old photos of us, sharing memories with friends.

I had the sad opportunity to attend a memorial service for a dear friend’s mother this past weekend. She died too young with so much fight in her–she embodied spunk. While I was not close to her, I love her son. He’s been a true friend for years. He’s shown up for me for all those years, and these times are when you need everyone you know to simply show up. Whether you send a card, give a hug, or lend an ear–it matters so much.

It’s not always easy to put on the black dress, grab the Kleenex, and go to the church or service, but it’s what’s right. My mom taught me this when I was in seventh grade and my friend’s grandmother passed away. She told me that I needed to go; that it mattered beyond what my 12 year old mind would imagine.

While I’ve been lucky enough to never have to suffer the loss of an immediate family member, that means I can’t know the difficulty that would accompany those moments. What I do know is that I want to be surrounded by love, support, and compassion.

Ted Talk Friday: The secret to living longer may be your social life

I have posted talks on this topic in the past, but I don’t think the importance of social interaction can be emphasized enough. Pinker doesn’t just talk about social connectedness, but she also compares social connectedness to the impact of other health factors. I hope you enjoy.

 

 

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Do you make the time to maintain relationships? Do you think you will be the happy or the grumpy old man? 😉

Ted Talk Friday: The secret to great opportunities? The person you haven’t met yet

I found this talk and was immediately curious about the title. Tanya Menon does a great job melding a number of ideas–the value of personal relationships, diversity, and generosity. I hope you enjoy and start thinking of those around you just a little bit differently.

 

 

 

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Do you agree with Menon? Do you surround yourself with those who are different than you?

Ted Talk Friday: The gift and power of emotional courage

Dr. Susan David does a beautiful, brave job in telling her personal journey that led her to her research focus. Her story dovetails with my interest in the role of narrative in wellbeing. We so often shut others out of our story, but putting it down on paper has such a power–even if no one else reads it. I am passionate about positive psychology, but the description of a “tyranny of positivity” is a distressing by-product of how the field has been commercialized. The fact that one-third of us judge ourselves for our own emotions…there is something so sad and makes me believe that everyone needs to hear David’s message.

 

 

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Do you judge yourself for your emotions? Do you categorize emotions as good or bad?

The Dangerous Power of “Productivity”

I believe we have started a dangerous cult this country–I don’t know how far it extends, but I’ve noted almost all of my peers have a constant desire to be productive. Anything that is not productive is not worthwhile. How sad is that?

I understand this mindset since I had it for at least four years. During college, I would not do anything if I did not see its purpose:

  • Going out for dinner? No, a waste of valuable study time.
  • Taking a weekend trip? Nope, I won’t have time to work ahead.
  • Hanging out and watching a movie? No, I need do x, y, z unfulfilling “productive” activity.

 

After graduating, this led to me completely going off the rails without action items that needed to be done. My parents took me on a trip to the beach after graduation and I could not even take one day off. I would sneak back from the beach to our hotel room and look through potential jobs on LinkedIn–yeah, that’s nuts. But it’s not just me…it’s a lot of people.

Over the past six months since graduating, I’ve been actively working to disengage from certain routines that make spontaneity difficult (I don’t always have to go to bed early, I can ask to reschedule). In addition, I have been forcing myself to be just a little bit lazy…I might just lie in bed for an extra ten minutes in the morning. Today I woke up without a plan and drove to the beach–no plans, nothing productive in store. I laid down on the sand and just read my book. Afterwards I spent the day wandering around the area, going into local shops and people-watching.

I don’t want to diss productivity too much–it gave me a solid GPA, amazing experiences, and it’s an inherent part of who I am. At the same time, it can’t be all I am; there is a high price for living a life that constantly prioritizes productivity. For me, it sacrificed the things that matter most: relationships, mental health, and physical wellbeing.

In sum, I think it’s knowing when to prioritize productivity, and when to let it go and enjoy life for all it is–the fast, the slow, the mundane, the powerful.

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Do you prioritize productivity? If so, at what cost?

Ted Talk Friday: My failed mission to find God — and what I found instead

Anjali Kumar does a wonderful job explaining her experience; as someone who feels spiritual but still checks the same “none” box, it is refreshing to hear someone’s journey on the path of finding spiritual community. She sprinkles in plenty of humor for a topic that is often so serious and difficult to discuss. I hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

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Do you consider yourself spiritual? Have you experimented with other religious communities?

Ted Talk Friday: You aren’t at the mercy of your emotions — your brain creates them

I am always attracted to any Ted Talk focused on psychology or emotions. Feldman Barrett breaks down how we feel and what emotions truly are. She truly dives into the double edged sword of our own emotions–they are not hard-wired, and they are malleable. Curious how our brain fills in the blanks to create emotion? Watch the video below to learn more.

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Do you agree? Where do you most often fill in the blanks?

Living in the moment in LA

I stepped off the plane for three days with virtually no agenda. Yes, my type-A, planning self took a backseat for once. I definitely see the value in planning, but there is nothing more freeing (and sometimes scary) than arriving in a new place with no “next step.”

Of course I had booked an Airbnb and told my friend, Ann, which terminal I would arrive in, but beyond that…our weekend was an open book.

After Ann generously picked me up, we wandered over to a nearby coffee shop and just caught up a bit, relaxed, and enjoyed steaming cups of coconut tea.

After sitting down and getting ourselves together we decided we only had a few goals for the day:

1) visit Halo Top Creamery (only my goal since Ann is vegan haha)

2) visit Venice beach and Santa Monica

Goal 1: Accomplished

Goal 2: Accomplished

We enjoyed a beautiful walk along the beach and then the most touristy Pier. No doubts we got those 10,000 steps in!

After our long walk of course we were hungry so we looked up a few places in the area and ended up at Flower Child (it’s affiliated with True Food Kitchen). The food was delicious, and the vibes were everything you could want from So. California.

After dinner we decided to go see a movie so we killed time shopping before we the showing of “Shape of Water.” I personally love the movie, but Ann was not the biggest fan-in fact she didn’t like it all, aside from how beautiful it was.

After the movie, we went back to our adorable Airbnb and passed out from exhaustion.

We are both morning people, so the next morning we woke up around 7:30/8 and enjoyed a relaxed morning with hot tea and getting dressed up for…the SAG Awards! One of my dear friends interned for them this year and was generous enough to get me two tickets to attend (SO KIND!). This was the only real plan in our whole trip. We made a quick detour to Whole Foods for snacks and then got all dressed up for the red carpet event.

We arrived at a parking garage and waited with about 100 other people to go through security and attend the red carpet.

It all felt beyond surreal; now I’m not a People-reading star-crazed fan, but seeing celebrities in person is pretty cool and exciting.

A kid from Stranger things…

The guy from Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name:

Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn:

You get the gist–endless stunning celebrities. I left feeling grateful to be just a normal person; seeing the paparazzi really showcases the dark side of fame. While harassment is slightly too strong a word, the comments many of the photographers made were certainly over the top, and often rude.

After the show, we stopped to take a few more pictures then headed to M Cafe in Beverly Hills (just a block from Rodeo Drive).

I got this delicious Macro bowl with Miracle Noodles and it was SO good and filling. It was overflowing with tofu, pickled radish, kabocha, potatoes, kale, carrots, nori, and herb-baked tofu. I highly recommend this place!

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After dinner we were both tuckered out so we went home and watched “Mudbound” on Netflix–it was a (intense) great movie!

The next morning we got up pretty early, packed up from our Airbnb, and headed to a cozy, quiet little coffee shop in Beverly Hills. Ironically, moments later about 50 people starting pouring through the doors–loud as can be. We learned that this was the monthly Beverly Hills “Walk with the Mayor” group and thy happened to choose that same coffee shop this month…what’re the chances?! Luckily, we found it all amusing and one nice participant in the walk gave us a free drink because he could see we were attempting to work. Luckily, they stayed for only 30 minutes before they were on their way!

After the coffee shop, we relocated to Whole Foods and I worked from their for most of the afternoon. A quick work stop at Starbucks later and it was time for me to visit Quest Nutrition HQ. My friend generously dropped me off and drove back home. I was brimming with excitement as I entered into Quest and everything was as I had imagined. The amazing team, Alyssa and Clark, showed me all around the building, introduced me to the team, and even let me play in their show kitchen:

Thanks for giving me a tour!

It was so much fun. Next stop: airport.

I got to the airport with about 3.5 hours until my flight; flying Virgin Airlines I know they have lots of flights between LA and SF so I asked if there was an earlier flight–and lo and behold, there was! I got Home an hour earlier, curled up in bed, and felt nothing but gratitude for the amazing time I had in LA! A great lesson in leaving some “plans” up to fate!

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Have you planned all of your best trips? Or have you let fate take a leading role?

Ted Talk Friday: Bodybuilding for the brain

I think this is such an important topic today. People brag about getting too little sleep, but there is so much research showing its great importance in how we learn and live. Growing research supports that it is critical for learning, but also for preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s. Watch the talk below to learn more about why you shouldn’t neglect your sleep.

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Do you get enough sleep? Did you know that sleep was this important for learning?