Hi friends! It is the two-year anniversary of this sassy little newsletter! Thank you, as always, for joining me on this ride. I am nowhere near out of steam nor ideas, but I am trying to think about what’s next for my writing. I’m still having that “new year newness” that has me optimistic. Usually that doesn’t wear off for me until after Lunar New Year. I don’t celebrate Lunar New Year, but growing up in the Bay Area with family near Chinatown in SF has always made Lunar New Year a constant in my periphery. Happy Lunar New Year to those of you who celebrate! By the way, I refer to it as Lunar New Year because there are multiple cultures that celebrate it, not just folks who are Chinese. If you didn’t know, now you do!
As I’ve mentioned, one of our goals this year is to take more days off so last Friday, we took the day off and saw the Patrick Kelly exhibit at the de Young museum in San Francisco. It was amazing and incredibly inspiring. I didn’t know that it would be what my heart needed, yet it was. It’s showing through April 24, 2022 so if you’re in the Bay Area I highly recommend seeing it.
It's a resource week this week so let’s get to it!
Okay, so this is hyper-local for me and it’s on my radar because while I live in Oakland, my day job is based in Berkeley. This resource is actually part of a California statewide project but I don’t know when things are rolling out for other participating areas in the state.
For folks who live, work, or go to school in Berkeley, we are being offered free subscriptions to two popular online mental health resources: myStrength and Headspace by clicking here. I’ve downloaded both and I’m not yet familiar with myStrength but I’ve done the free trial of Headspace and I enjoy it.
For others in California, the Help @ Hand site does show what other counties are participating but it’s not clear how. I recommend following the Twitter account of your city or county (or your city’s/county’s department of public health) to make sure you see news as it is shared.
From this article, “Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine’s largest hunger relief organization, is launching NutritionForME.org, a one-stop online resource to find simple, nutritious, and easy-to-make recipes using everyday ingredients. Created by the Food Bank’s Nutrition and Education team, the site allows users to search through hundreds of recipes to see what they can make with items in their pantries, cupboards and refrigerators.”
While it’s not a huge database, it can certainly be helpful and yes, you can access it if you aren’t in Maine. Nicole and I have stood in our tiny kitchen countless times trying to figure out what to do with a particular pantry item and I welcome any resources like this.
I think one of the most important aspects of this is that the recipes are catered to a tight budget and I appreciate that.
If you have been paying attention, you will know that I very rarely recommend books by cisgender white men and for me to recommend one is quite special. You also know that I am incredibly picky about the self-help/self-improvement genre and yet, here we are.
This book begins by detailing the importance of not focusing on goals, but instead focusing on systems and habits. There are many sports analogies in this book and the author points out that winners and losers have the same goal: to win. Having the goal of winning isn’t what leads to success; instead, it’s having a system in place where you make continuous small improvements to achieve the desired outcome. Also, having a goal makes there be an end point or as Clear puts it, a momentary change. So you reach the goal then what?
Clear proposes a system of atomic habits: small, consistent improvements that can build on each other to fuel bigger wins, bigger successes, etc. He talks about habits not only being “a thing you do” but how habits foster changes in your identity. It’s the difference between learning an instrument and becoming a musician or between reading a book and being a reader.
After making a very compelling argument for why habits, the book goes on to give a roadmap for how to successfully build habits. Not only how to successfully build good habits, but also how to break bad habits. He starts with introducing the “habit loop,” a cycle of four things: Cue, Craving, Response, and Reward. That is, make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, and make it satisfying. He also inverts it for us so that we have a roadmap for how to break a bad habit.
The bulk of the book is then breaking down these four elements and how to implement them in a way that works. After that, there are some advanced tactics for going from good to great. One of the most important parts of this book is when he talks about how to continue cultivating a habit when it gets derailed.
Heads up that this book is very heavy on examples focusing on exercise, weight loss, and a couple things here and there that have the pallor of diet culture. As always, take what’s best and leave the rest. You can buy it in my Bookshop or find it at your library.
That’s it for this week! You can shop any books I’ve mentioned in this newsletter at my affiliate shop, The Infophile’s Bookshop, and support independent bookstores. If you want to send me some snail mail, you can find me at P.O. Box 21481, Oakland, CA 94620-1481. If you want me to send you some happy mail, feel free to give me your address.
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