Be curious. Stay curious.
E is for Everything
Exploring everything in between.
From unpleasant to Pleasanton
The idea of going to Pleasanton was decidedly unpleasant.   

My desire to stay home, read and putter around was strong. Then, I thought about Dr. Vivek Murthy’s warning about America’s loneliness epidemic. I thought about the type of person I wanted to be (not a flake), and I thought about the friend I was going to meet (someone I had not seen in over a year). All of those thoughts came together into a commitment: I would make the idea of going to Pleasanton pleasant. 

So, I left my apartment, grabbed a quick bite, boarded the train and found ways to occupy myself for an hour until I reached my stop in San Francisco. Then, I walked a few blocks and found my friend. There I learned that she was also less than enthused about going to Pleasanton even though it had been her idea. Like me, though, she knew that this was an adventure, and we were not the kind of people to turn down an adventure. Besides, my trek to the city had already generated momentum.  

We made a deal: If we didn’t have a good time, at least we shared the time together and, regardless, we’d have a story to tell. With that, we hopped into the car and set off.  

At this point, you may be wondering what is in Pleasanton. Well, there’s the Firehouse Art’s Center and, this weekend, the Taste of Africa, Pleasanton’s "6th annual extravaganza celebration and adventure into African culture” hosted by the Pleasanton-based Cheza Nami Foundation. The foundation’s core mission is to "preserve and encourage the appreciation of African culture by inspiring and educating the American public about Africa’s extensive and unique attributes, regardless of their heritage of origin.” 

I didn’t even have that much detail when I left. I knew there was an African arts festival of some kind, but beyond that I was clueless. I was also still a little miffed about not having my usual read-n-eat Saturday alone (and, if I were honest with myself, a little lonely).  

We got to the festival, and parked. That was when I heard the music.  

Not an hour later I had beads of sweat running down my back while I spoke energetically with local artisans from Ghana and Kenya and my parents’ home countries of Nigeria and Jamaica. I filled my belly with Jollof rice and plantains, I bought all-natural hair care products for my curly mop and I even bought a new dress. We toured the art exhibit, and if I had $3500 to spare, I’d have a new statement art piece for my apartment.  
Then, as the festivities died down, we migrated to see the rest of Pleasanton. I am here to say it is quite … pleasant. There’s a semi-hidden tea garden, a dairy shop with a killer root beer float, and cute clothing and sundry shops galore. Again, it’s all very … pleasant.  

It was an escape from a terrible, horrifying week of news that left me shocked, devastated and in pain — though nowhere even approaching the pain of the families, friends and loved ones of those whose lives were taken in Las Vegas. I was grateful for the time with my friend and for the opportunity to discover a new part of the Bay Area, but a piece of my heart still felt cold over what had happened … and the slim-to-no chance that anything of any great significance would be done to prevent it from happening again.  

I hope this weekend, you took (or will take) the chance to go out and be with friends and loved ones — that you will hug them close and remind them of how much you care about them. Beneath the horrors, the calls for change and the rhetoric, there is one, simple fact we must hold on to: we must connect and re-connect with one another if we are to heal and make progress towards meaningful change. 

We are not meant to live isolated from one another. While time alone for reflection is nice, we spend far too much time moving past one another, using one another for this or that end. We hustle, rush and busy our way through and around one another. I am just as guilty of this as anyone, and yet, it is so dangerous.  

In the end, two hours on the train and an hour in the car does not even count as a price to pay for a reconnection with my friend, with my heritage and with the world beyond my front door. It warmed the parts of my heart chilled by the past week, it offered me greater resolve to advocate for greater connectedness, and it reminded me of what a gift life is, and what an honor it is to share it with others.  
With that, here’s the five:  

  1. Why working at Trader Joe’s ain’t what you think: "Throughout my time working at Trader Joe’s, I had 11 other jobs and internships. But it wasn’t until I worked in other environments—fast-paced, prestigious offices where I wrote for newspapers, interned for politicians—that I suspected I was working for somebody less qualified than myself.”
  2. The Art of Taking Risks: “The most important question is ‘who?’ Who are you going to allow to mentor you? Who are you going to work with? Who are you going to spend your life with? Who will you let shape you?”
  3. Am I at the office … or the coffee shop?: "Space drives behavior, experts say, and the goal of the new designs is to hasten the pace of sharing ideas, making decisions and creating new products. They are also meant to appeal to millennial recruits, many of whom are more comfortable working in a Starbucks than in a traditional office.”
  4. Yes, introverts can be leaders too: "Just because introverts don’t expect themselves to manage leadership positions, doesn’t mean they cannot be successful leaders.”
  5. Secrets on how to implement organizational change: "Organizations that excel at implementation foster a leadership style that sets bold aspirations with clear accountability—emphasizing the challenging and supportive dimensions of leadership over the authoritative and consultative qualities that may be effective in other situations. Successful leaders are relentless in pushing and encouraging their reports, while also greasing the wheels through tough decision making."
Thank you to my supporters!
Thank you, as always to my two largest supporters: Natalya Pemberton & Tim Karu
These folks have generously supported E is for Everything on Patreon. Please jump on through to learn more about both them and their projects.
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Do you wish I'd shared something else? Please send me recommendations via Facebook, Twitter at @emikolawole, on Medium or reply directly to this e-mail. I will always and whenever possible give credit where it's due for great recommendations and inspiration. Have a great weekend!
Disconnect to connect.
Emi Kolawole · E is for Everything HQ · Palo Alto California 94306 · USA
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