Tag Archives: advice

Some poems of hope and resilience


If you need some hope and inspiration and find your typical Internet material isn’t cutting it, perhaps you need something better. If so, visit this site: Poems of Hope and Resilience | Poetry Foundation. 

There’s many good poems there that might help. As they say:

How can we find hope amid uncertainty, conflict, or loss? When we feel we have lost hope, we may find inspiration in the words and deeds of others. In this selection of poems, hope takes many forms: an open road, an unturned page, a map to another world, an ark, an infant, a long-lost glove that returns to its owner. Using metaphors for hope seems appropriate, as the concept of hope is difficult to describe. It is deeper than simple optimism, and more mysterious, delicate, and elusive. It is a feeling we must develop and cultivate, but like faith, it is also a state with which we are graced. Hope can foster determination and grit—the ability to bounce back and to remain determined despite failures and setbacks—when we make daily efforts to change and improve what we can control. These poems speak to the importance of hope and resilience.

Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash

If you are tired of cooking, you need quarantine cooking help


At the beginning of the pandemic there was lots of advice on  cooking and baking being published. Then summer came, and it seemed to have stopped. Restrictions loosened, people went out to restaurants, and in the meantime much of that advice got shelved.

It’s winter now.  In the middle of the second wave with more lockdowns and restrictions, we need that advice again. Bad news: I don’t see as much new material on it. Good news: the old material from before the summer is still good. Case in point, this, from the New York Times: Our Best Recipes and Tips for Coronavirus Quarantine Cooking – The New York Times.

There’s lots and lots of good advice and good recipes there. More than enough to keep you going for the next few months.

My favorite of the lot are the recipes from Melissa Clark. If you don’t know where to start, start there. But really any of the pieces in that long list of recipes and tips are good.

As Jacques Pepin likes to say: happy cooking!

(Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash)

 

It’s the second week of January. You’ve broken your resolutions. Here’s some better ones for a pandemic


You’ve made resolutions to improve and already you’ve broken some of them. I get it: it’s hard to keep resolutions at the best of times, never mind during a pandemic.  It’s worse if you were hoping those resolutions were what you were going to get you through the rest of the pandemic. You may feel adrift.

Fortunately help is at hand. Here is a good article that will provide you with some gentle resolutions and how you can keep them: I teach a course on happiness at Yale: this is how to make the most of your resolutions | Health & wellbeing | The Guardian.

In a nutshell, be more compassionate with yourself. By doing that, over time you may find you build up enough inner resources to go back and tackle those failed resolutions. Did I say failed? I meant, paused resolutions. 🙂

(Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)

 

Instead of trying to be great, try to suck less


Yesterday I wrote about building up a new habit. Some habits do not require you to gain new skills (e.g. eat more fruit, walk every day). Some habits do (e.g. learning to code, draw, run a 10K). When you first try to build up new habits in those areas, you are going to suck. Your code will suck, your drawings will look like crap, your running might be difficult and painful. To deal with this, you need to do two things.

One thing is to make your goal to suck less in the time to build up your new habit. If you are drawing every day, don’t worry if it sucks. Aim to suck less than the last day. To do that, you will need to do two things:

  1. pay attention to where your new habit sucks and make some notes on where they suck
  2. research how to make such suckage go away
  3. apply what you learned from your research

If you are learning to run and it is hard, research how to make it easier. Maybe you need to stretch more, maybe you need to vary your routine, maybe you need to just cut yourself some slack. If you are learning to draw, maybe you need to draw different things, or maybe you need to draw the same thing every day, or maybe you need better media. You get the idea.

For more good advice on this, see this post by Austin Kleon. In that post you can get a PDF of the calendar pictured above if you need a way to track your progress to less suckage.

And what happens if you keep working on sucking less? Eventually you will find you don’t suck at all. (Or if you do think you suck, everyone else will think you are good and wonder why you think that. :))

How to shake those bad pandemic habits


It’s a new year, and you may not only be fed up with the pandemic but with the bad habits you picked up during the pandemic. You – ok, and me! – need new habits. While there a billion trillion guides on how to build healthy habits, here’s a nice article from the New York Times to help get you going: How to Build Healthy Habits.

In a nutshell:

  1. Start small and stack/tie your new habit
  2. Do it daily
  3. Make it easy
  4. Reward yourself

Stacking or tying your new habit involves tying your new habit to your daily habits and routines. For example, if you drink several cups of coffee each day and you want a habit of eating more fruits and vegetables, then have a piece of fruit every time you go have a coffee.  To make it easy, put the bowl of fruit next to the coffee machine. To reward yourself, have a small — small, not big! — piece of chocolate after completing the new habit. To do it daily, tie it to a routine or current habit you do daily or more.

Remember it takes time to build a new habit. According to the article, building a new habit can take “from 18 to 254 days. The median time was 66 days”. So give yourself some time. And start small and pace yourself.

A few more thoughts:

  • If it starts getting boring, challenge yourself. Or vary your habit.
  • If it starts getting hard, cut back, perhaps to the minimum amount (but not zero).
  • Get a coach or cheerleader, even if it your spouse, your best friend, or even your kids. (Kids love to cheerlead if they get to make noise. :))
  • Track that new habit. I like the journal below. Other people like putting Xs through a calendar. Whatever makes you proud of your accomplishments.
  • At first, focus on the fact you are started. Don’t think about how far you are going. Think about that you are going at all.

(Top Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash. Bottom Photo by Prophsee Journals on Unsplash)

On recording (why you should think about it differently, why you should resolve to do it)

Recording. Record. To me those words bring up images of black vinyl disks to play music. Records are great, but there is so much more to making a recording.

A recording can be anything, on any media. All the photos you take on your phone and store on Instagram are a recording. All the receipts you collect in a box are a recording too: a recording of what you spent and where you spent it. Last year I wrote down all the dinners I had since the start of the pandemic: it too is a recording.

For 2021, a good resolution is to record some part of your life. Do it in a way that is easy to do regularly. Do it such that there is enough information to look at it later. Some of my recordings this year were terrible: books I read, runs I went on. Others were strong: things I enjoyed despite the pandemic, politicians I wrote, friends I kept in contact with.

Some people like to use paper for this. Austin Kleon, a master of recording, outlines his process here: The year in notebooks. As he says

If you’re looking for a New Year’s Resolution, keeping a daily notebook is a pretty solid one.

On the other hand, if you are a digital person like me, use a simple tool like SimpleNote or Evernote or just your smartphone camera to record that part of your life. Whatever tool works best for you is the best tool.

It doesn’t have to be a diary or journal format. It can be a log of the best thing that happened each day. Or the funniest thing that happened that week.  Or the weather. Just record something, even if it is a few words.

There’s a number of benefits to making these recordings. If you do it well, at the end of your year you may be able to build up a list like this: 100 things that made my year (2020) – Austin Kleon. Even if your list is smaller, what you may get out of such a list is a recording of what makes your life worth living and what made things worthwhile during times when perhaps things weren’t that great.

Later, as you go through it again, your memory will fire up and you may recall other good moments not captured on paper or computer but still there. That’s another great thing about recording things: it helps you remember so much more.

Your life has value and meaning. Recordings help show that. So get making them.

(Photos by Photo by Samantha Lam  (top) and  by Markus Winkler  (bottom) on Unsplash)

Welcome to the New Year. This advice could come in handy.

Optimism

It’s a new year. A new year after a very difficult one.  It’s a good year to work on being optimistic. If you want to put in that work, start by reading this: How to Be More Optimistic – The New York Times. It will give you some tools to get you started on the path of seeing the fullness of your life.

Yes, there will be difficulties: there always are. The glass is never full. But being able to see things positively is a skill to work on. Today is  a good day to start working on it.

(Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash)

Some CBT Resources online you may find useful

Man thinking.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy is an effective way to deal with many forms of anxiety and depression. I’d argue it can help people with their thinking in general. If you are looking for tools to help you with it, here are two sets of resources:

  1.  Online Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Workshop
  2. CBT Worksheets (includes this PDF comes).

(Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash)

Merry Christmas! Here’s everything you need to know about making a turkey but were afraid to ask (or do)

Merry Christmas! I hope the day is a peaceful and joyous one for you and yours.

As part of the celebration, you may be making a turkey. Good for you. But making a turkey can be daunting and fearful. You need help. You need a guide. Indeed, what you need this excellent guide from epicurious. It will help you get it done like nobody’s business.

All the best to you and yours on this great day. Merry Christmas. And happy New Year to you as well.

Save this for your Zoom wine and cheese get togethers this holiday season….


If you are planning to have a Zoom get together over the holidays and you are look for ways to jazz it up with a wine (bourbon?) and cheese pairing, check this out: The Best Spirits and Cheese Pairings According to the Experts | The Manual

Or you can go to the site that provided the fine poster above.

Merry Christmas Eve!

If you are spending Christmas alone this year….

If you are spending Christmas alone this year and  you find the thought of it difficult (and why not?) then you might find this helpful: The Best Ways to Spend the Holidays Alone, From Someone Who Does It Every Year.

Some good tips there, pandemic or no pandemic.

Happy Christmas, wherever you are, and with whomever you are spending it with.

 

You are running out of time and you are thinking of regifting something. Consider this

It’s tough shopping in this pandemic. If you are stuck trying to find a gift and you are thinking of regifting, then read this first: Best Regifting Ideas — 5 Things That Are OK to Regift, and 5 That Aren’t | Apartment Therapy.

Yes, wine is a good choice (assuming the person getting the gift likes wine). For other Dos and Don’ts, check out that article.

(Image Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash)

It’s Christmas. Expectations can be high. This can help.

It’s Christmastime: expectations can be high, and sometimes unachievable.  This is especially true during this pandemic. If you are struggling to feel good during this time, here are two articles that can help:

Learn How to Appreciate What You Already Have 

How to Be Happy.

 

 

 

Are artificial trees better for the environment than real trees?

Christmass tree

It’s that time of the year. And if you haven’t gotten a tree yet — either from a field or from the attic — you might be asking yourself: what is the most environmentally friendly option? Well, the folks at the New York Times asked themselves that too and wrote about it, here.

I am a big fan of real trees and will continue to get them. But read the article and judge for yourself.

(Photo by Danny Castaneda on Unsplash)

It’s pandemic Christmas. Here’s details of a new phishing attack coming to your inbox


Hey, if you are like me, you are ordering your presents online. When you do that, you get a lot of emails back updating you on the status of your order. Since it is Christmas, you are anxious about your order so naturally you are checking on them quickly. And that’s why you need to be careful.

Last night I got an email from Target asking me to check out the status of my order by clicking the link. This was fishy (phishy?) to me, because I didn’t order anything from Target. I checked the links in the email and sure enough: they did not go back to the Target web site.

And it’s not just merchants. I also got one from Paypal warning me of someone breaking into my account and asking me to press a button which wasn’t linked to PayPal.

In short, check your confirmation emails carefully before you click on anything. Otherwise your Christmas could be an unhappy one.

To set goals, you need to look at your life. Here’s what I mean. (Or how to deal with Wanting to Have a Social Life, with Friends)

I’m not going to say that your goal setting is wrong. But it’s likely you are setting goals without looking at how you spend your time.  So let’s start there.

Write down what you are doing or think you are doing every day, week, month. Really think about this and take the time to document your life this way. Be as quantitative as possible. Then categorize those activities. After you do that, ask yourself: do you want to spend the same amount of time doing those activities in the future? If you don’t, do you want to spend more time or less time?

Let’s take someone named Alison. Alison thinks her goal is to be a better parent. However, when she looks at what she is doing, she finds she is spending most of her time working to become a partner in her firm. That’s her real goal: promotion.

Now Alison is multifaceted, as we all are. She doesn’t need to abandon one goal to work on another. She decides she does want to get promoted, but she does so in the context of also being a better parent. So she shifts some of her time and focus towards more parenting, then works to track that over time to see whether she really has internalized that as a goal.

The time and effort and focus you spend on something tells you what your goals are. Even if you don’t know those are your goals. I discovered this some time ago when I was tracking my todos in an app called Remember the Milk. I was the opposite of Alison. I thought I wanted to get promoted, but I spent most of my time focused on being a good parent and not enough on getting promoted. Eventually  I was content with that. I accepted that I would like to get promoted, but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my parenting time to that. And I liked my work as it was. From time to time I would be disappointed to see others rise in the organization while I stayed the same, but quickly I thought that was ok. I was meeting my goals.

Likewise, I ran marathons for a long time, and I thought my goal was to run more. But over time I realized that what I got out of marathon running had slipped away. It just became a chore and my goals changed from being a marathon runner to being healthier. Maybe as my life changes I’ll go back to running marathons.

There is a famous poem by Kenneth Koch  called You Want a Social Life, With Friends that addresses this:

Koch is strict here but the thinking is the same. Setting goals helps you move forward in life only if the goals you set align with your values and interests and the time you spend on that. Trying to do everything is difficult when resources  are limited. So think about the time you have and set better goals.

For more on setting better goals, read this piece.

(Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash)

To do good, you need to take your time

Good samaritan sculpture

There is a good review of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Fratelli Tutti,  here, in Osservatore Romano. I recommend you read it in full.

One thing in it that struck me was that in order to be good to our sisters and brothers, we need to make time for them. This is what the Good Samaritan does: he takes time to stop and care for another. We need to do this too if we are to be good.

Consider your week next week. How will you take time for others. Not yourself, but how will you give your time to make others better? In doing so, you will be doing good.

There are many ways you can be good. You can give financially. You can be virtuous. But you can also do good if you take your precious time and give it to others so they can be better, and in doing so, you can be better too.

(The image is from this piece on the Good Samaritan. I recommend you read that too. It’s insightful, and a reminder of what a powerful parable it is.)

 

 

How to improve and get better by using taboos and your dark side


How to improve and get better by using taboos and your dark side seems like a contradiction. But sometimes using your dark side can be just the thing you need to improve.

Now this can be harder to do than you might suppose. Our culture (from Faust to Star Wars) says appealing to the dark side leads to your ruin. This can cause you to not want to do this. But anger (against injustice), pride (in becoming the best), gluttony (for hard work) and lust/vanity (to self improve) can sometimes motive you and drive you much better than love and happiness can.  Sure, excessive vices can destroy you, I agree. But vices well harnessed and in moderation might get you through the difficult days of changing and help get you to the other side.

To see a good example of what I mean, read this: A Spiteful Guide to Self-Improvement.

You may not have an enemies or rivals or arch enemies. Fine. Invent some. Then go out and take them on and in the process become a better person. Then be magnanimous and graceful in your victory. There: now you are a better person and a good one too.

(Image by Gustave DoréJacob Wrestling with the Angel (1855) from wikipedia)

On being grateful despite duress

Grateful sign
It is said that being grateful is good for our mental health. But being grateful when living under duress can seem next to impossible. To see others do so is educational.

So I give you this piece on someone who is grateful in a way many of us might not be. I found it educational. I am still absorbing the lesson. I hope you gain something from reading it.

(Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash)

How to go skating in Toronto in the pandemic

Liisa Ladouceur (shown above) has written a thorough guide for anyone who wants to go skating in Toronto during the pandemic. No, you cannot just show up with your blades and start skating. You need to do more. And you should do more, because skating is a great way to enjoy winter in the pandemic era. So read this: Where to go skating in Toronto in 2020 by Liisa Wanders. Then get out there! Maybe I will see you at a socially safe distance with a fun mask on too.

It’s Monday. You have something risky you have been dreading to tackle. Here’s how to tackle it

You have something we want to do but don’t because you feel there is a big risk involved. You think: what if I fail? If you fail you fear you will a) be covered in shame b) lose out big c) have other bad things happen to you that you can’t even imagine you can cope with. No wonder you have been putting it off.

First of all, you can cope with pretty much anything. Second of all, there is a good and painless way to approach that thing you think is risky. It’s outlined nicely in this article and in that diagram. The article uses opening a restaurant as an example, but it could be applied to any big goal you have, from taking on a new job position to running a marathon.

In my own job, we deal with managing risk every day. We plan to deal with risk by taking the same method and applying it over and over. It is very effective professionally. It can be effective for you personally. Keep iterating until the thing that once seemed very risky now seems much less so.

(Image from a link to the article.)

You need Vitamin D. Here’s why.

From information is beautiful.

Want help getting your place neat and tidy this weekend? I have some links

cleaning products
If you are in a rut with keeping your place clean and organized, this could help:

  1. Zettelkasten is the German Secret to a Super-Organized Life | Apartment Therapy
  2. The Best Cleaning Apps – For Families, Roommates or Anyone | Apartment Therapy
  3. 7 Smart Cleaning Hacks Using White Vinegar | Apartment Therapy

It’s a pandemic: it’s hard to go anywhere nice and clean, so make your place that place. Or you can do what I do: procrastinate about cleaning and organizing by reading about it instead. 🙂

Why you need to exercise self-care (especially in a pandemic)


It’s easy to let care for yourself slide in a pandemic. But even in normal times it can be a problem. If you find this to be the case, then I recommend this piece. It can help you understand why you aren’t taking better care of yourself. It then helps you understand what good selfcare looks like.

I’d add a base reason for self care is you can only take care of others if you take care of yourself as well. The airplane mask rule is always in effect.

(Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash)

I hope Americans still on the fence about travelling for Thanksgiving read this


I understand the importance of Thanksgiving in the US. It’s a big deal, and a big part of that is coming together. But coming together might mean spreading COVID-19, not just with the people you visit, but others after the visit.

Because of that, I hope you will stay in your respective dwellings and take advantage of this offer from Zoom: Thanksgiving on Zoom: Your family get-together can surpass 40 minutes.

Normally if you have a free Zoom account, you are limited to how long your online session can last. Happily, Zoom is waiving that for this year. It’s a great offer: you should jump on it.

I hope people will meet up virtually in the US this Thanksgiving. It will make a world of difference.

Four good ideas from IKEA


Nothing radical decor-wise, but here are some good ideas from IKEA. For example, they’ve packaged up some of their products to make improving your home easier: IKEA Launched Decor Kits That Let You Mix Up Your Style Easily

They have these speakers (seen above) that I would quickly get if I didn’t have a Sonos speaker already. It combines the quality of Sonos with the affordability of IKEA: SYMFONISK WiFi bookshelf speaker – black – IKEA.

Speaking of affordability, here’s a reminder that IKEA is always stocked with affordable items: Under $10 – Affordable Furniture and Gifts – IKEA

Finally, it is easy to criticize rooms with too much IKEA furniture in it. Such rooms tend to look like a showroom rather than your room. However, for people who have a hard time making good choices about their decor, stealing ideas from IKEA makes a lot of sense. To see what I mean, check this article out: IKEA Catalog 2021 Neutral Calming Rooms | Apartment Therapy

You know about hygge. Now it’s a good time to learn about friluftsliv

winter in NYC

You likely know about hygge, and adopting that into your life can make winter not only more endurable but even wonderful. But while hygge is good for indoors, what about outdoors? This is where friluftsliv comes in. As this article explains, ‘We belong out there’: How the Nordic concept of friluftsliv — outdoor life — could help the Pacific Northwest get through this COVID winter  the idea of outdoor life,  especially in the depth of winter, is what we are going to need to get through this cold part of the pandemic.

I think you would benefit to read the article, but basically it describes friluftsliv this way:

More expansive than outdoor recreation and less self-serious than outdoor adventure, friluftsliv describes “whatever you go to REI for,” said Meyer. “But in Norway, it’s this deeper concept of having space from other people, which is kind of a Norwegian thing to do, and then it has that sense of being able to wander freely outside.”

It’s like flaneurism combined with winter. 🙂

Get yourself some good winter clothing and start planning to get outside. Not only will it help you from feeling cooped up, it will help you appreciate what you have inside. You can come back to your cozy blankets and candles and whatever else you have to make indoors delightful. Make a tea or a hot chocolate. You are the master of winter.

(Photo by Heather Shevlin on Unsplash)

Are you more worried these days? This can help


Are you more worried these days? Ha! I know you are: I see your tweets and your socials! Hey, it’s fine. These are difficult days. That’s not a licence to worry your head off though. Difficult or not, being able to worry less is a good skill to have.

If you don’t think it is a skill you have much of, read this. It will give you good practical tips to deal effectively with your worrying. Better yet, read it with a pen and paper handy; when you are done, write down a practical plan to change your worrying.

Worrying is a habitual way of thinking that can cause you damage. The good news is you can break that habit and change your thinking and have it shift away from worrying.  Worrying is like smoking or eating badly or any other harmful behaviors. Behaviors you can change. So set your mind on a different form of being. You’ll be calmer and more positive soon enough.

(Photo by Henrikke Due on Unsplash)

Thinking about Fun (something good for you to do)

kid playing in leaves

Are you having fun? That’s a question often asked of us as kids. Then we get older and get more responsibilities and that question dies off. You might only hear yourself saying: I am not having fun.

That’s a great loss. Our lives are enriched by fun. If you can’t even imagine fun anymore, here are too good pieces for your serious self to read:

I really recommend you read them and challenge yourself to make time to have fun. Remember make your own fun. For some people it is being goofy, other people it’s making something, and still others find fun in doing things no one else would consider “fun”. Never mind. Find your fun wherever you can and cherish it.

(Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash)

How to get into reading philosophy? Start with these five books

What Does It All Mean? Book
If you haven’t read philosophy before, it can be daunting. Doing it with an instructor helps. A good instructor or lecturer can give you context, guide you to what is important, help you ask the right questions, even acknowledge the difficulty of what you are reading.

If you don’t have that but still want to give it a try, I recommend this list by Nigel Warburton. Some of them are general, and some focus on specific fields of philosophy. They all sound good. Read the list: Warburton tells you what each book is about and why you want to read it.

I suspect by the time you finish the article, you’ll want to go out and get one of those books.

(Photo by Grant Jacobson on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. You want to get into some good habits. These two things can help

Perhaps you’ve developed some bad habits over the pandemic. Habits you want to shake off.  You might need help developing new and better ones.

Here’s two things that can help. First is James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. He takes a methodical approach to how habits form and how you can break them.

Second, there is the habitlist app that can help keep you going on your way to building new habits.

If you really struggle with developing new habits, try this. Make up a habit that takes little time and effort and practice making it a new habit. For example, you could take 30 seconds each day just to stretch. Or 10 seconds each day to breathe deeply. Heck take 5 seconds each day to say: I can develop new habits. 🙂 The point isn’t so much the habit as it is developing the ability to form habits. Once you can form some really basic but good habits, other habits that you might struggle with will get easier.

In praise of cozy corners (and how you can make your own)

Cozy corner.

Coziness is in the eye (body?) of the beholder. For example, I find the above image cozy. Other people might find the picture below cozy.

Cozy with cats.

Regardless of which one you prefer, I think having a cozy corner in your home is essential, especially as the cooler weather starts.

If you don’t have one or need inspiration, here’s 12 cozy corners from Cup of Jo you can check out and steal ideas from. A nice couch helps. So do blankets and pillows. Sleeping dogs and cats are nice. As are books and fireplaces. But don’t let me tell you how to be cozy: I think you should get there however you think best. 🙂

(Images from links to that blog post on Cup of Jo).

Did you mess up this week? Are you beating yourself up about it? If so, read this


Chances are you messed up at some point this week. It happens to everyone.

If you have a good attitude about it, that’s great. If you don’t, if you are beating yourself up for messing up, then read this.

I hope you feel better after reading that. Everyone makes mistakes. People trying really hard especially make mistakes. Give yourself a break. Then get back at it.

(Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash)

Two good articles on sleep

Man and dog sleeping

If you are having sleep problems, read #1. If you need to understand why you need to sleep more, read #2.

  1. Shuteye and Sleep Hygiene: The Truth About Why You Keep Waking up at 3 a.m.
  2. Scientists Now Know How Sleep Cleans Toxins From the Brain | WIRED

I especially liked #2. I had a long held belief that is why we sleep. It’s satisfying to see it established by science.

We all need clean and shiny brains. To do that, get some sleep.

On the joy of updating Wikipedia and how you can experience it too

Wikipedia home page

It is a small joy to update Wikipedia. I reflected upon that when I read this story of a librarian who has started down that path.

I have made a number of updates myself! Not many, but here’s my list:

  • on a French pastry I used to love getting, but found no entry on: Bichon au Citron
  • I’ve fixed a minor typo on this list regarding SNL
  • I was reading a book on the late Bronze Age collapse and when I went to the wikipedia page, I noticed it needed some references. I referred to the book I was reading.
  • Finally, I was reading about Anoxygenic photosynthesis and I added some references.

Basically I fixed up some pages that had errors or lacked citations. This is the easiest way to start. Creating a whole new entry, as I did with the pastry,  is harder.

You don’t even have to create a login, though I did.If you aren’t feeling too confident at first, try playing around in the sandbox. It’s easy, and you can’t break anything.

We all benefit from improvements to Wikipedia. Why not do some yourself? You will find it satisfying and joyful.

(Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. How are you doing? Not sure? Here’s a checklist to help you find out


With the pandemic, it’s easy to get into a mindset of thinking things aren’t going well and you aren’t doing well. I get it. But guess what? Chances are you are doing well. To see what I am getting at, check out this checklist.

It won’t take more than 5 minutes to do, but after you do it, you will think:

  1. Hey, I’m doing more good things than I give myself credit for
  2. Oh dear, I really need to work on X and Y and Z

Ok. Great! You now know you are doing better than you thought (give yourself a pat on the back). You also have a list of items to work on improving. It’s Monday: make up a plan to work on them this week.

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

It’s the weekend: here’s something good to read and something good to do


Congrats! It’s the weekend! You made it. Perhaps you want to relax. If so, here’s a list of books you might be interested in reading: 2020 books: Feel-good reads with guaranteed happy endings – The Washington Post

Hey, it’s the pandemic: you could use some more upbeat reading material.

If you are not the relaxing type, why not check in on that friend you haven’t heard from lately and drop off some soup. Need convincing that it’s a good idea? Read this: Soup for a Friend | A Cup of Jo

Obviously homemade soup is great. But if you live in Calgary, consider getting some soup from my friend, Carmie. She’s a great cook, and you can order soup from her company, SpoonFed. Get some bread or crackers, too.

The weather is getting cooler and the days shorter. Good soup can help you and your friends.

(Top image from the Cup of Jo blog post. Bottom image from the SpoonFed site.)

Friday night cocktail: the shaken martini (with guest appearances from Bill Murray and Google Trends)

You might think, how much can be said about a martini, shaken or not? Well quite a bit if you are David Lebovitz. I recommend you check him out and then get out your cocktail shaker.

Need more reasons to drink one? Well, you can be cool, like Bill Murray, here  drinking one in his new film, On the Rocks. 

Based on Google Trends, people must drink martinis mainly at Christmas. So save this post until then. Or be a trend setter and start having one now.

Hey man. Wear more red

Men don’t wear enough red, in my humble opinion. That’s too bad, because red is a great color to wear. Especially so in the cooler months, when men’s clothes tend to go towards darker and neutral colors.

If you are interested but unsure how to proceed, then check out this Guardian article. It has the tips you need. (The above picture is from there. The red shoe laces are really great. Consider getting a red watch band or a red scarf too.)

Meanwhile, here are my rules for wearing Red, written in 2008. They never go out of style:

  1. Bernie’s Rule of Wearing Red | Smart People I Know
  2. Bernie’s Rule of Wearing Red Revisited | Smart People I Know

Why you really are procrastinating

It’s not likely laziness. As LizAndMollie illustrates above, it’s likely due to

  • feeling inadequate
  • fear
  • not knowing where to start
  • being stretched too thin
  • perfectionism (or for me, not wanting to mess up)

So give yourself a bit of a break when you feel you aren’t getting things done.

P.S. Follow LizAndMollie for more great illustrations to help you get through this pandemic and more.