There's something about turmeric, cinnamon...
"At 35, she was still proudly unconcerned about being single and childless. While other women in her position 'might have been freaking out and thinking about the next 30 years rather than tomorrow’s deadline, I didn’t lose my nerve too early.' (She’s now been married for over a decade, with two kids, ages 7 and 10.)" - What would a World Designed by Women Look Like, by Justin Davidson for The Cut
The sunny-day five:
  1. If you want to be a leader, remember that, when it comes to introspection, self-aware leaders ask “what, not why”. But don’t go with your first thought, because it’s never your best thought. Also, speaking of leaders, here are four things executives do differently … aaaaand here’s a fifth: “successful people are readers”. So grab a book or just think like Leonardo DaVinci. You could also just go by these 12 rules for life and leverage these nine ways to focus your wandering mind … on these nine common myths about meditation maybe. If meditation stresses you out, try this. Also, when it comes to life, Earth is really, really, really lucky, but still vulnerable, and vulnerability is something men and women share along with negative consequences that come from the impossible expectations of masculinity.
  2. Have a habit you want to break? Don’t resist it; replace it. While you’re at it, here’s a question for you: "Why does this painful gulf exist between the selves we aspire to and how we spend our time?” Perhaps it’s because many of us lack “untouchable days”
  3. I’ve never been a good read-all-the-travel-books-before-you-go traveler. Instead, I’ve just … gone. Apparently, Anthony Bourdain takes a similar approach, but he did teach me one thing though: tick off the nerds to find some great eats. Then again, the CIA says I should probably read a bit more about where I’m going than I currently do. I also need to learn how to dress for the apocalypse, apparently. Oh, speaking of travel (which is often expensive), it’s tax season — the time I want to run away (not that it would help). But don’t wallow, just take a moment to think about the financial decisions you are most proud of
  4. Quick, when I say nude, decaf, phone-free, and gut health what comes to mind? No, it’s not a new diet, even though this purports to be the last conversation on eating right you’ll ever need to have. Now that your mind’s done with that, you may want to start thinking like an old person — if you want to be happy, that is (DaVinci is, like, super old so, you’re already on the way there in #1). Old people really have a valuable perspective on happiness — so valuable, the NYT has two pieces on it. While you’re diving into both of those, remember, happiness and meaning aren’t the same. Also, riddle me this, "if things are so much better, why do they feel, for so many people, so much worse?” 
  5. ‘Ever had the itch to reinvent yourself? Then you’ll want to read this. Or you could just pull a stunt like this. Also, if you love writing, be like me and write for free (but there are some instances where I do get paid and you should too). Also, if you’re like me, you’ll need Evernote. Also, I feel this writer, "I felt a horrible dread that the best times were already behind me. I was new to San Francisco, and angry at San Francisco for not being New York.” Except, instead of New York, make that D.C.. Speaking of D.C., the LivingSocial folks walk the brand’s talk to the point where they’re marrying one another at a notable rate.

BONUS ROUND: Last, but not least, if these times are leaving you feeling blue (or even if they aren’t), check out the trailer for “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, the documentary about Mister Rogers. It will turn your frown upside-down. Sit down and watch it while drinking some golden milk (thanks for turning me on to this ambrosia, Monica).  

How to be yourself 🙇
How often are you yourself? I don’t mean the person you play at work, or the person you play at home, or the person you play when you’re out with your friends. I mean how often have you been you — your real, genuine self?  

Some people may bristle at this, answering, Of course I’m always myself. Authenticity is everything to me! If that’s your answer, wonderful. Some people find it very easy to be themselves. Others of you may say, I’m myself at home, but I definitely put on a different face at work. Others might flip that around. Then there are those who might say, I don’t feel safe being myself until I am alone.

I fit in that last group. Since I’ve known myself, I have always felt the need to play a role. That’s why I studied the performing arts and film production. I am fascinated by the process of creating a character and then, like a diver preparing for frigid water, stepping into the character like a body suit and navigating the world. That's not to mention creating entire worlds around characters. Also, like many women -- and especially as a woman of color -- I learned early to be aware of how I look, what I say, and how others might react to me.  

Throughout my youth, while I was never one of the “cool” kids, I was definitely always trying to stay one step above open ridicule from my peers or failure in the eyes of my superiors. I worked hard to get the right grades, craft the right resume, the right look, the right attitude and to hold up the mask as I constructed it. When it slipped — due to a maintenance failure on my part or a lack of resources — I would criticize myself, analyzing why it slipped and how I might hold it more firmly next time.  

Now that I am older, I’ve learned to care a bit less about what people think. I chopped off my hair, stopped wearing makeup, and only go out if I feel like it. But I’m still keenly aware of others thoughts. I still find myself saying, If I do that, how might I be seen — what will people think of me?

Self-awareness rests at the heart of that question -- specifically, the balance between internal and external self-awareness.

A group of researchers published a piece in the Harvard Business Review on self-awareness in leaders, they found that there are four archetypes of self-awareness, and one of them is called “pleasers”. These are people with low internal self-awareness and high external self-awareness. Pleasers "can be so focused on appearing a certain way to others that they could be overlooking what matters to them. Over time, they tend to make choices that aren’t in service to their own success and fulfillment.”  

Ouch. That's me. (If you’re interested in taking their quiz, you can find it here. You’ll need a friend to take it with you to get results.)

Those with both high internal and external awareness are called “aware”. These are people who “know who they are, what they want to accomplish and seek out and value others’ opinions. This is where leaders begin to fully realize the true benefits of self-awareness.”

So, rather than asking myself what others might think, the real question I should be asking is: what do I want to accomplish, and from whom might I get feedback to make sure I’m going about what I need to do as effectively as possible? 

This immediately raises the specter of selfishness for me. When one only cares about what they want, they inherently disregard others’ wants and needs, right? Not necessarily. Two principles hold true:  

  1. Apply your air mask first. If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others. 
  2. You can want what others want. Sometimes what you want will coincide with what others want, and when it does, that’s a great opportunity to team up and discover even more beyond what you and they wanted. 
I used to confuse self-awareness with superficial activities such as not wearing makeup or not going with the crowd. Sometimes the crowd is going to a great place, and sometimes makeup can be a fun expression of one’s artistic abilities. Self-awareness, at least so I am learning, is about declaring clearly to yourself not what you think others want you to want, but what you want unto yourself.  

So, knowing all of this, what is one to do? Well, in my case, I’m focusing a bit more on when I make choices, pausing to ask myself what I want to accomplish, and what I am willing to sacrifice to get it. I am watching for language such as:  

  • What will people think of me if I do that?
  • How will I look to others if I do that?
  • How am I being seen right now?
There’s a time and place for great performances (and I do love me a great performance!), but it should not come at the expense of taking the life path one wants to take -- rather than the one others want them to take instead.  
I may write for free, but when I get support, that's awesome too!
Thank you, as always to my two largest supporters: Natalya Pemberton & Tim Karu!

Natalya is a culture and design enthusiast learning Sustainable Systems at the innovative Presidio Graduate School.

Tim runs the Mercury Inn in Portland, Maine.

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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...cloves, ginger, all-spice, nutmeg and almond milk."
Emi Kolawole · E is for Everything HQ · Palo Alto California 94306 · USA
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