So. Many. Spoons.After unloading the dishwasher and finding a true train wreck in the silverware drawer, I pulled all of them out to see if spoons support this hypothesis:

As the length of time you’re married increased, so too does the number of spoons you own, but the number of them that match declines in equal measure.

The counting and sorting ensued. 32 total objects that answer to the name of “spoon.” It’s when you begin sorting that fascinating disturbing patterns emerge.

 

  • 19 combinations of pattern and size
  • 13 different patterns
  • 14 spoons had no matches at all
  • 4 soup spoons match each other, but have only 2 matching teaspoons

We have achieved Instagram-influencer level of whimsical shabby-chicness (“Mix and match your flatware! It adds an element of fun and surprise to the dinner table!“).

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tl;dr – Facebook does some stuff that I value really well. What can replace it?
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Right now, Facebook is arguably the sugar/transfats/Big Tobacco of the
internet. And understandably so.  Rational, sane people are not just
leaving FB for social media breaks, they’re downloading their data, and
deleting their accounts entirely for reasons I understand and respect.

What’s driving us the storm Zuck’s gates with pitchforks is the other
side of the coin that drove us to jump aboard back in the late aughts.
Everyone is here, everyone shared—though not as knowingly as we should
have—a pile of info that made it easier to find people and ideas.  Some
of those ideas were embiggening for us.  More were probably not.  But
that’s a human thing rather than a technology thing.

I value this crack-house mattress fire of a platform for a couple of reasons.

1) Book Clubs: While not as easy to use as the forums/bulletin boards
of the past which made “discussion” of books pretty straight forward,
I’ve been a part of two Book Clubs where I learned a lot, enjoyed
correspondence with like-minded book nerds, and learned about additional
resources/links/obsessively detail-rich fan sites that I wouldn’t have
otherwise known.

2) Connecting and re-connecting with people from
college, high school and camp who I either haven’t been in touch with
for a long time, or didn’t know that well at the time but have grown to
know better and respect through following/Friending on Facebook. I’m a
different person than I was 30 years ago (thank God). There are a lot of
people I’ve connected with who’ve made me think in new ways.

3)
Sharing pictures of stuff that’s important, however it is that we
choose to define important. I like seeing pictures of your families as
they grow and change. I like seeing pictures of interesting places and
things. Is it braggy sometimes?  Sure. Do I want to see pix of your feet
at the beach?  No more today than I did nine years ago when this circus
opened. Am I guilty of all of these?  You betcha. But that doesn’t take
away the fact that my kid leaving for a trip far away is as proud/happy
a moment for me as your pics of vacations and Don Williams’ pics of stunt cooking and his daughter.

4) The Sunset Grille effect. Besides being a highwater mark in the
history of Gratuitous Use of Roland Guitar Synth in Rock, Don Henley’s
1984 single ends with “What would we do without all these jerks anyway?
Besides, all our friends are here.”  Centrality. My mom doesn’t have to
remember, app, or bookmark a Flickr stream to see pix of her
grandbabies.  I don’t have to open an app on my hooptie laptop to
discuss weird typography as narrative in a book club. I can bore all of
you at once on Sunday morning. For (somewhat) better and (a lot) worse,
Facebook did create a virtual citystate where participation is the norm
rather than the exception. “What would we do” indeed.

As tech-affirming as I am, I don’t mean to serve as an apologist for the Menlo Park Menace.

I would, however, miss some fairly significant chunks of interaction
that Facebook has provided, and I’m curious to know where I’d be able to
find similar connectivity.

Where will you go? Who will go with you? How will you tell the people you value where you’ve gone and why?

Or #Netflix, PLEASE Buy These People and Put Them Out of Our Misery!

Here comes the weekend. And with it, a looming sense of dread. That’s because I know we’re going to try and use our #moviepass again.

The kludgy, userproof process of purchasing two tickets on a busy weekend night is unenjoyable enough to make coughing up 13 bucks seem like the better lifechoice.

It combines the worst elements of the bus station (wandering people, noise, uncertainty, the smell of 12-hour-old rollerfood) with using one of those ATMs you find in stop-n-robs in a really bad part of town, where the ATM dispenses a chit that you take up to the bullet-proof glass window and exchange for your cash.

It could have, should have, been so much better.

My prediction:

1) Netflix purchases MoviePass’s IP and users, probably before the end of the year. They substantially rework the greasy fiddly bits of MoviePass to work more like Fandango, and eliminate the multi-step checkin/selection/kiosk square dance that’s currently choking theater lobbies with frustrated and confused movie fans.

2) #NFLX and the studios negotiate a tiered distribution schedule that pays studios and theaters at different rates for Opening Weekend, First-Run,
and Ending Soon. 

3) NFLX re-tools the entire thing and relaunches it as Netflix Premiere. Moves the price point to 24.99/mo. (just short of double the current of a Premium subscription.)  For you money, you get:

– The existing level of Netflix service

-1 Opening Weekend Movie per month.

-1 First-Run Movie per week

– 1 Ending Soon per day

4) Movie studios and theaters love it because they don’t have to take the outsized hit on Opening Weekend movies from MoviePass users. They put additional butts in seats (and sell popcorns and cokes) for movies that the public may see as being on the cusp of rolling out and decide to stay home, waiting for the movie to hit the streaming service. It’s a stepped approach to movie revenues based on making money from multiple stops along the Long Tail.

Plus, they gain even more access to the enormous trove of data that Natflix already collects. It allows everyone who sells someone to a moviegoer new touch points along the user’s journey, beginning months out from a big-budget debut.  Multiple relevant promotions. Remarketing opportunities. Couponing and so many others.

5) Subscribers love it because it fixes the crackhouse mattress fire that the current MoviePass forces its users to be a part of. It eliminates the frankenexperience of weird location-aware apps, payment cards, touchscreen kiosks and fistfulls of thermal paper tickets.  Apple Pay, Amazon, Fandango and hundreds of others have taught us that if you have your phone, you should be able to tap to pay.

6) Netflix and its shareholders love it because it captures incremental revenue from subscriber and, most importantly, increases the Lifetime Customer Value of every subscription by capturing multiple portions of that consumer’s entertainment dollar.

Everyone wins. But consumers, it seems, win more.

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*Yes, “borken.”  I’m trying to get found in more tumblr searches and not at all above using a #pandertag or two. Hey, at least I didn’t include anything like #cutekittyGIF, right?

Using personal discomfort and ritual as tools to create separation between places and mindsets

It was certainly not what I was expecting. A brief mediation and an a
cappella mantra (“om namah Shivaya”) before the main event—a phenomenal Creative Mornings Nashville on Anxiety by FoxFuel Creative’s Colton Mulligan.

image

It was my first Creative Mornings event, so I had no idea what it would be like.  What I found was a room full of easily 200 creative folks of all disciplines. Next-wave, open-plan co-working space in East Nashville courtesy of wework Nashville. Bomb-ass coffee. No business card swapping per unspoken rule, but lots of people talking with other people about making stuff.

So when Sadie Hart
(@sadiehartmusic) rang a tingsha and invited the crowd to be a part of
“a little mindfulness time” before we got started, I got the same
squirmy feeling I get when someone sits down in front of you with a
guitar and says “I’d like to play you a song I wrote.” 

image

Part of it was a jaded “oh Lord, really?” attitude that seems to have become many Nashvillians’ default outlook as our city has grown its creative and new economy influence. Lots of us feel that we’re no longer cool enough to live here. But the larger part was my backpack full of rocks. It’s hard for me to look intent and earnestness in the eyes and not feel the uncomfortable abashedness that comes from existential intimacy extended by a stranger.

I was delighted to be dead-ass wrong on both accounts.

So because I’m not going to be a jerk in public if I can possibly help it, and following her direction, I grounded the four corners of my feet and lengthened my spine. Breathing in and out, I noticed that I was paying closer attention.  (Actually, I noticed it in retrospect.  At the time, I was simply noticing my lengthened spine and four-cornered feet).

As she began singing the mantra, I heard and felt the way that this big open shared space full of people began to hang heavy with intent.  A bunch of people were working really hard at disconnecting from whatever was outside and what might be about to happen, and to open their minds to what was.  In here.  Right now.

So this Stetson-wearing yogi led us to create separation between the demands of the outside world and what we were about to hear … a talk on where anxiety and creativity intersect.

And it was fantastic.  I left feeling energized, hopeful, and maybe possibly a little less jaded about the business of creativity than I’d been two hours before.

Stick with me. I promise I’m getting to the work-related part.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about how ritual functions with groups of people. Church services do it. Group fitness does it. Wearing a Boy Scout Uniform and reciting the Promise in unison does it.  

The meditation and song put us out of the rhythm we’d been in.  On purpose. The rattle and hum of 200 different people gently aligning intentions felt weird and different.  On purpose.  By creating a time, a place, and head space that were precisely not the everyday, I (we) became something different … more focused, more present.  On purpose.

So what does this all mean for work?

Well, while I think beginning every day with group meditation could sound good in principle, there’s a high, sour religiocorporate tang to the idea of mantras being piped throughout the office before the morning bell rings.

image

But what it does suggest for me is that working some sort of mindfulness ritual into the beginning of the day is important. For #freelancers, it’s doubly so.  Here’s why.

When I had full-time, corporate job, every day began and ended with a 30-minute commute. I would make the drive, in good traffic and horrible, with either an audiobook playing (always fiction, never business) or in silence. Whether I knew it at the time, the commute was creating a liminal space between home and work, career and hearth, brain and heart. Reconnection through separation.

Now that my commute is either 13 stairs or a few minutes to the public library, that ritual is missing.  And after this morning, it’s something I feel like I need to get back.

Enough talk. We want action.

  1. Give the Headspace mediation app a try.  10-minutes guided mediations with a nice British guy.  It’s fantastic. It works.  Everyone in my house says I’m more pleasant when I use it. They’re right.
  2. Exercise. Especially if you’re non-athletic. Or a couch potato. Or human. I like the mindless point-it-and-go misery of running. I don’t use music, and rarely listen to audiobooks.  I find that this is a perfect place to use a mantra. “This run. This mile. This lap. This step.” It fits the rhythm of my run, and it’s hard enough to keep straight in my head that it works almost as effectively as reflecting on a koan.
  3. Rise with the sun. Set with the sun. It’s so easy for worktime to become anytime you’re conscious when you freelance. Fight the urge and reclaim your day by getting up early-ish, working when it’s light outside, then closing the laptop and re-engaging with the rest of the world as it grows dark.  It really works.  When I manage to do it.

So there it is … use ritual to create separation between work and life. It’s hard to do the first time. But it gets easier with time.

Now close this tab and get back to doing billable work.

Namaste.

 

Photo Credits:

The pics of Colton speaking and Sadie smudging come from Creative Morning Nashville’s Instagram Feed.  If you shot them, holler and I’ll add you to the credits.  And the 1984 Tribute image came from The Inspiration Room’s review of DoubleTwist’s launch video from alllll the way back in 2009.