5 Weekend Reads

I decided to change the name of these weekly round-ups, because I usually don't write them on Fridays in the first place :) Enjoy! 1. The Teachable Moment of Frozen

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Animated films bring a certain type of joy to my heart; they are funny, genuine, clever and most of all, usually about some sort of big lesson that applies to adults just as much as it does children.

Frozen fits that mold, but in an exceptional way: it's not a love story. Or at least, not the one we're used to seeing from Disney. Read why one father appreciated this movie on behalf of his two small daughters.

(Another reason why Frozen is exceptional: Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. The singing and the songs are so excellent and catchy enough to stick in your brain for days.)

Go see Frozen! And if you're interested in other reviews and critiques of the movie, check out this, this, and this.

2. Unlearning the "Busy" Story

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Everyone I know is guilty of answering the question, "How are you?" with "Busy!" It's nothing new; Google "the busy trap" and you'll find endless think pieces from the past two years about this current societal trend.

Yes--"being busy" is a trend of sorts, which Laura Vanderkam points out usefully in this FastCo essay. She writes about her experience as a journalist, wherein it's often typical protocol to find three anecdotes to prove a trend. Vanderkam correctly notes that humans do this all the time without thinking, in almost all of our environments and interactions. If a person is slightly standoffish or quiet three times in a row? That person becomes rude or snobby or bitchy. If the food at a restaurant isn't up to snuff a few times, we decide it isn't any good and avoid ever going there again. And so on--there are millions of examples at work, at home and within our love lives.

Vanderkam says, "Because I write about time management, I see this when people decide that 'my life is crazy' and 'I’m so busy!' and 'I have no time!' If you decide this is your story, you can certainly find three pieces of evidence in any given week that this is true." She uses her personal life as an example: she could claim she had a "crazy busy" week, but it's also true she had time to read a magazine, go out for coffee with a friend and take a long walk.

I've been a long proponent of talking about time management in terms of prioritizing instead of blaming it on being "busy." When I look back on my week, yes, it might have been "busy" with deadlines and obligations, but at the same time, I managed to make it to yoga most days, catch up on my favorite television shows, take a Sunday nap, and putz around on the Internet. Whatever else I failed to do was simply because I didn't prioritize it, not because I didn't have enough time. Sometimes that's just fine, and other times it means I need to manage my own time better.

Still, when I talk to a family member or friend, the urge to chirp "Busy!" is far too strong. I make a mental effort to say anything but that, and honestly, it's really hard. "Busy" feels validating and important. But it's not. So this week, I challenge you to remove "busy" from your vocabulary. See what other data points from your life you might discover along the way, and construct a new narrative about your days and weeks.

3. The Resistance

Great piece by Seth Godin (naturally) about how to fight creative resistance. Best takeaway: "You – everyone in fact – have all it takes to be a brilliant designer, creator, or author. All that’s holding you back is . . .  that little voice in the back of your head, the 'but' or the 'what if' that speaks up at the crucial moment and defeats the joy and insight you brought to the project in the first place."

This happens when people sense risk, and it's insanely easy (not to mention risk-free) to be the person who says "That isn't going to work," or "That will cost too much" or "We don't have time to focus on that" -- etc. It's easier to be a problem-noticer than a problem-solver.

As Voltaire says, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good." Make things happen. Create. There will always be reasons not to, but none of those will get you anywhere.

4. Stop Trying to be Everything

I do feel like this essay targets women, mostly because we tend to be the gender that obsesses so damn much over whether or not someone likes us. It's something I constantly struggle with--the desire to connect and build relationships with the reality that the magic of those things does not happen with every person on this earth.

But I appreciate Jennifer Pastiloff's words: you cannot be everything to everyone. On the days where I feel like a failure because my coworker thought I should have handled a project differently, and I forgot about the volunteer meeting, and I had to reschedule a coffee date, and I didn't call my mom back, and I didn't email a long-distance friend--I'll remember that it's all okay. I'm doing my best. And so are you.

(A generalized question, but something I'm continually curious about: do men have any reaction to this sort of piece? Do you read it and think, well, duh, instead of feeling reassured? Do you ever worry about making people happy, or feel down when it seems you didn't make someone happy?)

5. Why You Should Know Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

chimamanda

This isn't new, but I continually want to share this TEDx talks because it's extremely excellent and important. Adichie, a Nigerian writer, has recently become a little more well-known due to her words being used in a Beyonce song. I haven't yet read Americanah or her other works, but her speech in the link above is outstanding.