As most hot and interesting singles do on a Saturday night, I was sitting on my couch watching productivity YouTube videos and came across a great video from one of my favorite YouTubers Ali Abdaal.
I always love a book recommendation from people I admire, so I ordered Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon immediately. Not only was this a quick read, but it was the kick in the ass that I needed.
If you look through this blog you’ll see that I dipped my toe, during grad school, into the blogging space. I tried to talk fashion, lifestyle, food, all the things, but balancing a full time MBA program and work didn’t prove to be conducive to blogging. BUT, and this is a big but, I started to lose interest in writing about those things.
Yes, I enjoyed them as a topic, but I was less style blogger and more fascinated by people like Tim Ferris, Ryan Holiday, Ultralearners like Scott Young, memory champions like Nelson Dellis and Yanjaa Wintersoul, and unlimited mindset coaches like Jim Kwik. I would wistfully read their content, listen to them on podcasts, and then immediately think “I wish I could do what they do.” I would talk my mom’s ear off about how there were no Black women in the space that I knew of, and that when I was smarter, better, faster, and whatever other BS I would try my hand at sharing my personal ultralearning challenges, stoic journey, etc.
Those ANTs (automatic negative thoughts as Jim Kwik calls them) started having less of a hold on me when I came across Ali’s YouTube channel, because here was a doctor who was making the time to chase the things he wanted (like starting a business and learning to play the guitar), in addition to practicing medicine.
What does all of this have to do with me blogging/writing again…well that’s where Austin Kleon comes in.
Kleon talks in his book about making the commitment to learn in public. “…whatever the nature of your work, there is an art to what you do, and there are people who would be interested in that art, if only you presented it…” Rather than wait until I’m perfect or an expert to share, I’m willing to share my amateur attempts. Even Ed Catmull, my favorite imaginary mentor, talks about the benefits of approaching everything with a beginners mind. I want to share my writing not as a self-promotional attempt, but a self-discovery vehicle. As GaryVee says “document, don’t create.” I want to document my passion for productivity, pushing the limits of my cognitive ability, personal development, tech, and even love of storytelling and style.
Tim Ferris says it best, “waiting for someday will take your dreams to the grave,” and I realized I’ll never have a perfect resume to share my passions and projects. Also, to be a little self serving, teaching someone else will help drill the information, quotes, whatever into my brain better than holding it to myself. Even the stoics challenge us to stop putting off till tomorrow what we can do today, how much longer will we wait?
In some capacity, at the minimum, I will show my work weekly. I want to show the things I’m working on, and that includes:
Gaining fluidity in French so I can read French classics in their original language
Moving from #25 to the Top 15 of US Memory Athletes
Reading 100 books in a year (a goal I’m about to hit in 2021, so 2022 may be 101)
Learning Dutch and Italian, in pursuit of becoming a polyglot
Transitioning from long board to a short board in surfing
Regaining fluidity in Spanish
Organizing my home in a way that supports my neurodivergence
Teaching myself graphic design
Defining my style uniform, creating a wardrobe that lowers decision fatigue, and learning about the fashion industry
Becoming a media and entertainment futurist
…and probably a thousand more projects and topics, because my intellectual curiosity knows no bounds!
I look forward to showing my work, curating content that catches my attention, what I’ve learned, and what I’m noodling on at any given point, even if it’s for three people.
Now if you’ve stuck around until the end, here are some additional Ali Abdaal videos and Austin Kleon videos that I think you’ll like.
October was one of my stronger reading months, most 5 star reads, and most DNFs in a month.
A DNF for those that don’t frequent the book corners of social media are “did not finish” books. Every great reader I admire and aspire to be like (yes, having reading “idols” is really a thing) espouse the importance of not finishing books that aren’t clicking for you. Ali Abdaal said it best, treat books like blog posts. Take away what you want, leave when it isn’t serving you, and move on if it’s not working. Because I think we all know someone who is languishing away months at a time to read Sapiens. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but, IT’S OK TO NOT FINISH A BOOK!
Before I share my reviews, I have some book analytics thanks to Storygraph (the social book platform I use, now that I’ve left Goodreads).
I “read” 16 books, with 4 DNFs, and most of those DNFs were around 40-50% into the book.
47% of my reads were nonfiction, 53% were fiction…I don’t weigh nonfiction as more important but I’m proud to see an almost fair split. My average rating with 3.64 stars, and I read 4,750 pages, the most pages this year.
Pros: Grady Hendrix does campy horror stories so incredibly well. He has the right balance of gore, laughs, and story. There’s a really wonderful story about friendship at the center of this that made me a little misty in the end. It’s so fast paced and fun that it’s like reading a movie.
Cons: Grady is so committed to the social commentary and staying authentic to the time there are some moments that are offensive. (There’s reference to a Slave Auction day at the high school) SpoilerThe exorcism scene was a little long for no reason. I would have loved more scenes of how possessed Gretchen was impacting the students. I wanted to know what the parents thought or if Gretchen ever tried to tell anyone what happened…cause it felt like the exorcism was wrapped anticlimactically.
I don’t have the right vocabulary to explain how much I hated this book. I didn’t like the Silent Patient, and honestly reading this is on me knowing good and damn well I don’t like this author…but here we are. All my marginalia is just rants about how mad I am that I’m still reading it. The main character, hated her…the unnecessary tie to Silent Patient, burn it all down…the random ass parade of new characters to try and throw the reader off, oh boy. I want to fight the publisher. The men in this book are written so creepy that even I was like damn homie you are making a great case for neck beards with this. Just flames, flames on the side of my face.
I really enjoyed this, and it desperately made me want to go back to Paris. I would have loved a section on how the art, literature, and films of Paris helped her embrace her inner Parisienne, along with how she learned the language through living. Also Paris is such a visual medium, I would have loved pictures or a link to a website or Pinterest board. I did walk away fully inspired and looking forward to implementing points from the book. And I applaud the author for acknowledging the heteronormative nature of the dating portion, and including Black women in the interviewees because Black women aren’t always associated with a typically French aesthetic.
I was looking for a book the would inspire me to believe bigger with the help of my Christian faith. This book wasn’t it for me. Yes this is hopeful, grounded in the word, and very vulnerable. However, it feels exceptionally repetitive and the overall thesis feels like she’s projecting. The only way to you purpose is some major life shake up by God. I would have loved for this to be more about believing bigger, walking through the Bible and finding all the places God calls us to accept and ask for bigger. This was a lot of repetition, and could have been a lovely YouTube video.
Pros: Bennett does a beautiful job weaving all of these seemingly branched timelines and stories together to make a really rich picture of how this family got to where they are. The pacing was good, I didn’t get bored at all. There’s beautiful commentary on identity, and the inhumanity marginalized people face.
Cons: It felt like another Imitation of Life style passing story. The sections served no point. It felt like it was written to get non Black people to have compassion for all the generational trauma Black people deal with.
I don’t even know how to review this book because I don’t fully understand what I read. I like that it challenged me, but the book felt so heavy handed on symbolism and metaphor that I wondered if that was intentional or satire. Pros: It’s a fairly quick read. Loved the Heathers/The Craft/Coven vibes. Also enjoyed the satire around writers and artists. Cons: Genuinely couldn’t tell what was intentional and what was just heavy handed on metaphors. I wish there’d been some semblance of character development so I got a sense of the situations I got dropped into. The three act structure didn’t feel like it was used well.
Pros: Really great mix of hip hop/pop culture and feminist commentary. It doesn’t center mainstream feminism in any way or use that as the set point for the book to move from. It’s incredibly challenging and forces you to check your respectability politics at the door as a Black reader.
Cons: While the first portion of the book felt like incredibly crafted essays the back half felt like personal stories. Would have loved more academic insight or even a portion at the end of additional reading so I could continue engaging in the topics she brings up.
I will never meet Steve Jobs and I’ll probably never meet Ed Catmull but this book has profoundly changed my life every time I’ve read it. I’ve been a senior manager desperately looking for a way to find my professional and creative voice, I’ve been a director wanting mentorship and a North Star on how to innovate, and I’ve been a VP wanting to be the leader I always wished for and to create the groundwork for my professional legacy. I’m never the same person every time I read this, but I always walk away from this book changed. And I’ll never get through the final chapter without sobbing because it reminds we that we don’t get to experience our legacy, but we plant the seeds for it while we’re here.
Pros: This was so fast paced and kept me engaged from the moment I started it. I thought I knew where this plot was going but it surprised me in the best way. It had more heart than a traditional thriller. I like at the center is really a story about what you’d do for your family and the people you love.
Cons: I didn’t think the book needed to be divided into parts. The story was cohesive without those “commercial breaks.” As someone who knows nothing about Austin, those details about the city were lost on me, and could have gone toward the story. There were some superfluous characters that felt like they were just there to make certain plot holes make sense (I’m looking at you best friend and high school boyfriend character).
Pros: Loved the setting against the Mexican backdrop, all Gothic stories don’t need to be set in England. Really enjoyed the themes around women’s health, believing women, and women finding their power/breaking generational curses. I can see why this is being adapted, lots of visual mental pictures come up while reading.
Cons: For a 300 page book this is so slow that I almost DNF’d multiple times. It’s so wordy that I had to just breeze through some of the descriptions to get on with the plot. The eugenics convos served no purpose to the plot in my opinion.
Honestly, I didn’t enjoy this book, maybe I’ll like it more when it becomes a TV series. But, this confirmed that even with a WOC writing, gothic is not my genre.
Pros: Loved a rom com book with a Black woman at the center. Loved that the main character was over 35 and not posed as a spinster. The social media element was cute and made for a new setting on the fake relationship trope.
Cons: This was a DNF for me, it was so slow and so British and just had words for the sake of having words. The author spends a literal chapter and a half trying to prove she can write a Black female character that she spends it talking about Black hair. It was clearly projection having a chapter about a white stylist doing her hair, to show a white person can comprehend a Black experience. But that immediately went out the window when at the end of the chapter her friend asks to touch her Afro and she gladly welcomes it. There was nothing interesting about the story that made me want to stick around.
This was a DNF for me. There were some strong moments in the first story, but the surreal narratives were way over my head and I couldn’t get through the writing. There are other short story collections I’ve loved this year that have set the bar so high that this wasn’t the right kind of challenging read for me. BUT I may revisit this one next year.
These were phenomenal and short reads that lit a fire under my ass to let go of my analysis paralysis and show my work, not allow my limiting beliefs to keep me from sharing my knowledge and work, and to keep going through it all.
A few months back before graduation I got an email from the Columbia Business School administration telling me I’d been selected as one of their candidates to nominate for the Poet’s and Quants 100 Best and Brightest MBAs (2017).
Honestly, I was floored they even wanted to nominate me. Seriously, my MBA journey has never been a walk in the park, but it hasn’t stopped my constant hustle.
…so months passed and there was no word on whether I’d been selected. And in true transparency, I was a weeeee bit bitter. Profiles went up about other students, and I thought the idea of getting included was getting bleak.
I had a chance to hear Bobbi Brown speak, and wrote about it in this post here.
There was a question and answer portion at the end, and I was lucky enough to get to ask the incomparable Bobbi Brown a question.
When Bobbi started her talk, she talked about how she forged her brand an inspiration above what the trendy thing to do was around her (hilariously enough it was heavy contour and drag queen level makeup…sound familiar). Well my question picked up from that moment, how do you find inspiration and direction in your personal brand and style, without getting caught up in what’s trendy?
I looooove matcha…I love it so much that I legit have to physically stop myself from posting photos of my morning matcha on a daily basis. No seriously…I legit post a matcha photo every other day on my Fitspo insta…
…and I will take a train from Harlem to Chinatown for a raved about matcha…I’m a match maven! (Seriously, that matcha emoji is everything to me)
So I consider myself to be a smart cookie. I mean, I graduated college with honors and I’m at an ivy for my MBA (p.s. if you are tired of hearing that…I’m not, so I will say it until they put me in the ground). And I’m athletic, I swam and rowed in college, I was a junior olympian in swimming, won countless horse shows…so I like to think I know health and wellness.
Then why was I so dumb about food?!?
Now when I say dumb I don’t mean like because Oreos are vegan I thought they were healthy. I mean allowing my food noise and my disordered eating to take over my life dumb. Nothing put more of a damper on family affairs than when you are on some insane diet, and your out of town relatives have to listen to you order so far off the menu, that you would have been better off bringing your own food. I’m the kind of nutrition nerd that was making her parents show at Whole Foods, when it was called Fresh Fields.
So a few months ago I realized I was letting my disordered eating take over. I was starting to obsess about my calorie counting app, toying with starting a new diet, and wondering if I could find the willpower to go keto. Now those things may work for other people, but I’m looking to go through more of a Khloe Kardashian lifestyle change, slowly but surely, and as a lifestyle change.
After a good bout of Facebook stalking, I came across the Tovita Nutrition instagram page. They had just coached the gorgeous new Miss California USA 2016, and I wanted in on that Tovita glow. I emailed the ladies, and worked with Molly for 8 weeks. The only person that knew about my nutritional fairy godmother was my mom.
What I gained during those 8 weeks never involved a diet, is was about learning to be intuitive and smart with my eating. Through Molly’s guidance I lost 12 pounds, but gained so much more. During my family vacation to Orlando I wasn’t a raging diet monster. If I wanted to indulge I did, and mindfully, and when I was over it, I moved on. It sounds simple, and it wasn’t. But having the accountability of knowing someone would check over my food journals, give me advice, and be supportive was helpful. I think the best compliment came when my cousin said, “I’m so glad we can all sit and enjoy a meal, and you’re not over there eating something depressing.” Full disclosure, this was while we were at a Mexican restaurant where I had all the veggies they could pile on a skillet with some chicken and salsa.
I’m hoping over the next few months, I can share with you dear reader all the tips and tricks I learned from Tovita, how I’m evolving in my lifestyle change…and the smaller jeans I get to rock right now.
So if you are looking to have a kick ass coach, or you just want a virtual buddy who will tell you that “no, more than a tablespoon of coconut oil is not healthy.” Check out the ladies of Tovita.