Friday Favorites

So many great, thought-provoking and fun reads this week--which is fitting, considering Christmas break is right around the corner! That (hopefully) means downtime with friends and family, relaxing afternoons on the couch, sleeping in, reading all those books you haven't gotten around to (I know I have a long list) . . . and maybe a few runs or yoga sessions to balance out all the holiday cheer in the form of cookies and cocktails. Enjoy! Also, if you only read one article of the many below, make it #10.

1. 5 Ways to Do Nothing and Become More Productive

Do Nothing Be More Productive

How fitting for this time of year (also, I like that this dude is in a yoga pose. Rock on.) James Altucher recommends that people do nothing when they are angry, paranoid, anxious, tired or wanting to be liked. He says that anger dangerously blurs perspective; 99% of what we're paranoid about doesn't come true (so why let our minds run loose); anxiety tricks us into thinking we can control situations (newsflash: we typically can't); lack of sleep actually decreases the quality of our productivity; and that making choices for the approval of others doesn't fill our pocketbooks or feed our dreams in the long run.

2. Luxury Shopping, From the Other Side of the Register

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Carmen Maria Machado writes about her experience as a salesclerk serving affluent customers, and how her exposure to extreme amounts of money brought forth a sense of self-isolation and depression. She cites some interesting articles and studies about the relationship between money and how we treat others; one example states that money-primed people may be less inclined to help others, and likelier to eschew social intimacy. A worthwhile read, considering the time of year.

3. The CG Story: How Pixar Saved "Toy Story" From Becoming a Disney Disaster

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I love behind-the-scenes stories like this, and this book excerpt about how "Toy Story" came to be is absolutely fascinating. Read this:

The first few months of development were a period of noisy to-and-fro discussion — sometimes raucously funny, sometimes argumentative — around a table littered with a Toys “R” Us–like inventory consisting of action figures, dinosaurs, Slinky Dogs, G.I. Joes, and Mr. Potato Heads, some of whom would be reborn as characters in the movie. Here were four grown men feeling their way back to childhood, but there was one rule in place that was distinctly adult. There would be no complacency. Nobody’s ideas were immune to criticism. On the contrary, every effort should be made to shoot holes in each other’s ideas, however sound they might seem on first inspection. This was in fact more than a rule, it was a creed, and the license to criticize, combined with the ability to take criticism, became a strong bond between the members of the Brain Trust. Not that this way of working was always easy. As someone who does his writing alone, seated in front of a computer, I once told Pete Docter that I envied his situation of developing a story in a group situation. He laughed and said, “You should try it sometime. It can be brutal.”

4. Waxing Extravagant

No, this is not about waxing. It's about candles--hella expensive ones, in fact. Thanks to the likes of Instagram, I too have seen the trendy Diptyque candles and wondered why they are so pricey . . . while admiring their cool-factor. I think the most I've spent on a candle was $15, and it was a gift for someone else. Even then, I was like, damn, I just paid $15 for something that will melt away completely. So $75-445 for something that doesn't last? No way.

5. Don't Wait Until You're Ready

Oh, Glennon Doyle. I just love you. In this blog post, she covers a lot of subjects related to a personal situation, but concludes with this gem:

Anyway, here’s the secret. Not a damn one of us knows what we’re doing. You cannot wait till you know what you’re doing to get started. I NEVER know I’m doing. So I just do the Next Right Thing, one thing at a time. . . . Sometimes you’ll belly flop and it’ll sting and everyone will laugh and sometimes you’ll do a perfect screwdriver and everyone will clap. But after a while you will learn that you don’t jump for everyone. Everyone doesn’t even matter. You jump because at the end of the day- when your head hits the pillow- you want to Be One Who Jumps.

6. Stop Wasting Money - Buy the Cheaper Version

Buy Store Brands

I think all of us have fallen prey to brand loyalty--you know, when you buy Campbell's instead of the generic Hy-Vee chicken soup. Because "it tastes better" or "that's what I grew up with," when really it probably is all in your mind. I still do this. It's a hard habit to break. BUT this article really lays out the relationship between generic and designer brands. Check it out, and share these fun facts (i.e., Costco's bourbon is made by Jim Beam!) at a holiday party this year!

7. Danielle Brooks Is the Breakout Star of the Year

Otherwise known as Taystee on Orange is the New Black. If you haven't yet watched the show, get after it during your next day off. Taystee is hilarious and the woman who plays her, Danielle Brooks, seems so charming and genuine in this interview.

8. House of Cards Season 2

Speaking of time off . . . here's another show to catch up on! Can't wait.

9. Anne Fulenwider, Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief

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Great interview with Anne Fulenwider via The Everygirl:

"What I really want is to live a wide-ranging, fascinating life that allows me to see the world and meet interesting people and maybe even affect a little bit of change in women's lives."

10. R. Kelly, Terry Richardson, and the Power of the Bankable Creep

There's a big debate happening (not that it's new) about how to remain a feminist (if you want to call yourself one in the first place) in the entertainment industry. Amanda Hess, the author of the piece, really puts it starkly: if you're a young R&B upcoming star, for example, do you work with Chris Brown, despite his abuse record? Should Lady Gaga, a role model for many young girls and an activist so powerfully in favor of equality for all, collaborate with someone like R. Kelly, who been repeatedly accused of raping teenage women? And do Terry Richardson's excellent photography skills (now transitioning into music video skills) excuse the fact that he's been accused of sexual harassment? This piece also makes me question how I balance my own personal values while enjoying certain songs, films and magazines. I can imagine these sorts of debates are particularly difficult for parents as well.

11. Keep Your Day Job

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Austin Kleon tells creatives to keep their day jobs, while pursuing other interests on the side:

Get up early and work for two hours on the thing you really care about. Then, when you’re done, go to your job. When you get there, your boss can’t take the thing you really care about away from you, because you already did it. And you know you’ll get to do it tomorrow morning, as long as you make it through today. The “meaning” in your job is: it pays the bills. Get as good at it as you can, because it’ll make the job more interesting to you, and it will provide you exits to another one. Then find the rest of your meaning elsewhere.

12. 2013 Life Lessons from Pinterest

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Haaaaa haha. Pinterest is so ridiculous. I love to hate on it. Favorite line: "if it can't be stored in a Mason jar, then why the f*ck do you own it in the first place?" Literally spend 5 seconds on Pinterest and you understand.