January 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
I am reading this amazing book – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it is a fantastic read.
You can listen to the author, Susan Cain give her Ted Talk here (which has been viewed more than five million times).
In the chapter “When Collaboration Kills Creativity” she writes on the now-famous study conducted by Anders Ericsson. Regarding the value of solitary practice among the elite in their fields (violinists, chess players and athletes):
What’s so magical about solitude? In many fields, Ericsson told me, it’s only when you’re alone that you can engage in Deliberate Practice, which he identified as the key to exceptional achievement. When you practice deliberately, you identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach, strive to upgrade your performance, monitor your progress, and revise accordingly. Practice sessions that fall short of this standard are not only less useful–they’re counterproductive. They reinforce existing cognitive mechanisms instead of improving them.
Deliberate Practice is best conducted alone for several reasons. It takes intense concentration, and other people can be distracting. It requires deep motivation, often self-generated. But most important, it involves working on a task that’s most challenging to you personally. Only when you’re alone, Ericsson told me, can you “go directly to the part that’s challenging to you. If you want to improve what you’re doing, you have to the be the one who generates the move. Imagine a group class-you’re the one generating the move only a small percentage of the time.”
You can read a fantastic summary on the study’s findings here.
Reading about this at the same moment I’ve been slowing down and thinking about my life and my goals for the new year feels very apropos. I’ve been cleaning house both literally and mindfully, and working to, in the words of my very wise mother-in-law, “clear out of your mind that which has outgrown its usefulness” to make space for the new. As life picks up speed next week as we settle in to 2014, I will continue to make time for the Quiet; to recharge, be inspired and appreciate all that is around me.
December 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
I’ve long followed Remodelista, a “sourcebook for considered living” and I love their tips for being a good host during the holidays. Two of my favorites:
1. Declutter, declutter, declutter. Reining in chaos around the house is never a bad idea. Before your guests arrive, vanquish piles of clutter: if it’s useful or beautiful, keep; otherwise, toss. You and your visitors will be more comfortable.
10. Allow plenty of time for holiday decompression. Remember that a good host allows space for the guests to do as they please. For your visitors, as well as for yourself, take time this holiday to simply relax, restore, and renew.
You can read all ten here.
They also have a beautiful new book.
November 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
I think the simple life really begins with owning less stuff.” – Yvon Chouinard
A beautiful essay written by Patagonia’s founder.
November 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
“To me, having it all — if one wants to define it at all — is the magical time when what you want and what you have match up. Like an eclipse. A total eclipse is when the moon is at its perigee, the earth is at its greatest distance from the sun, and when the sun is observed near zenith. I have no idea what that means. I got the description off a science Web site, but one thing is clear: it’s rare. This eclipse never lasts more than seven minutes and 31 seconds.
Personally, I believe having it all can last longer than that. It might be a fleeting moment — drinking a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning when the light is especially bright. It might also be a few undisturbed hours with a novel I’m in love with, a three-hour lunch with my best friend, reading “Goodnight Moon” to a child, watching a Nadal-Federer match. Having it all definitely involves an ability to seize the moment, especially when it comes to sports. It can be eating in bed when you’re living on your own for the first time or the first weeks of a new job when everything is new, uncertain and a bit scary. It’s when all your senses are engaged. It’s when you feel at peace with someone you love. And that isn’t often. Loving someone and being at peace with him (or her) are two different things. Having it all are moments in life when you suspend judgment. It’s when I attain that elusive thing called peace of mind.”
November 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
One of the simple pleasures I look forward to most come Saturday morning is listening to Scott Simon on NPR on my drive to the studio. His voice, eloquence and humor always make me smile as do the stories, like these two I heard this morning.
“Lincoln’s words remind us at once of the brevity of life and the imperishability of humanity. The clock ticks, the calendar flips. No power exists to slow them down or manufacture more hours and years. Abe Lincoln reminds us to make our own lives count by filling the hours we have with what’s worthy, kind, funny and honorable.”
And this beauty. What a way to welcome the weekend.