Mighty Life List
Nov 29 2011

Yep. Yep. The 2012 Victory Mix

Here’s what, 2012 is about to rock your face off. “Yep. Yep.” is a mix I put together for you and your steady progression toward victory. Leave us your 2012 song recs in comments. Cheers to a new year, my friends.

(I mostly live on Spotify now, so here’s the Yep. Yep. Mix over there, if you like it like that. The one below is from Rdio, which lets me embed the player with song previews.)

Nov 28 2011

Rock Star Ph.D

Read this in The Week, and taped it to my mirror:

“You are what you learn. If all you know is how to be a gang member, that’s what you’ll be, at least until you learn something else. If you go to law school, you’ll see the world as a competition. If you study engineering, you’ll start to see the world as a complicated machine that needs tweaking. A person changes at a fundamental level as he or she merges with a particular field of knowledge. If you don’t like who you are, you have the option of learning until you become someone else. There’s almost nothing you can’t learn your way out of. Life is like a jail with an unlocked, heavy door. You’re free the minute you realize the door will open if you simply lean into it.” -Scott Adams

(Addendum: Ah, man. The wisdom in this quote notwithstanding, it would seem Scott Adams has a history of “interesting” opinions on gender issues:

Dilbert creator deletes misogynist rant
Scott Adams weighs in on rape

Boo on that. Boo, I say.

Nov 23 2011

5 Gifts for the Eco Friendly

Glad sponsored this post as part of a campaign about producing less waste. If you’re up for talking trash, you can visit Glad.com for more information.

They bike instead of driving, use cloth diapers, eat organic from the farmer’s market, and their house doesn’t even smell like patchouli. Your friends are living a thoughtful life, here are a few ways you can be thoughtful in kind.

Tiffin Box, $37 from ModCloth
Tiffin boxes compartmentalize food so you can transport it without wrapping each item. They also out-cute a plain paper bag by a country mile.

Glass Water Bottles, $27 from Indigo
Eschewing bottled water is the new “going vegan.” It just makes you better than other people.

Reusable Sandwich Bag, Raindrops, $7.50 from The High Fiber Co.
Every sandwich is a gift. Might as well wrap it like one.

Flip-Top Snack Cup, $8 from Babybot
Each cup represents approximately 8,428 snack bags. Give or take.

Manners Cloth Napkins, $54 from Betsy Grace
When the napkin is cloth, you get a pass on tucking it into your collar.

Nov 22 2011

Birthday Goals and Serendipity

Say, you should know this post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society as part of their More Birthdays campaign. This is their logo, which you may choose to click on if you hate Cancer:

I happen to be a big fan of birthdays and the people I love having as many of them as they can get their hands on. Also, paper hats.

This is me and and Evany with our phasers set to stun.

I make my goals for the year on my birthday, and this year I thought a lot about my friends while I was planning. I’m a big fan of a tidy list, but Evany not so much. The first time I suggested she write a Life List, she made a face like there was something alive in her mouth and it was trying to struggle free.

Evany’s instinct isn’t to plan, she just surrounds herself with interesting people and tries to say yes. In fact, you may recall that time I talked her into leaping to her death while she was still having adrenal flashbacks from the 40-hour labor she’d endured a few weeks earlier. She’s a trooper.

I thought of Evany when I said yes to Geri-Ayn’s last-minute suggestion that we spend my birthday in St. Lucia. I thought of her when I was making yet another birthday list, and I realized that lately the world has cooler ideas for me than I have for myself.

Remember when we talked about guiding principles, questions you ask yourself when you have a tough decision? You guys had some useful ones:

-“Is this worth the energy I am going to put into it?”
-“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
-“If not now when?”
-“One year from now, will this matter?”

At Camp Mighty, Evany suggested a great one too. She gave a talk about how we all have friends who choose partners or make decisions that only cement their worst qualities. For all of us, there are forks in the road where we decide to “lean into the worst side of ourselves or stay gold.” Evany suggested you ask yourself, “Which decision makes you the better version of you?”

And I thought back to myself with a notepad in a hammock on my birthday, asking myself whether this or that activity would make me feel more chilled out. You know, just planning peaceful times, writing peaceful stuff on my tidy list so I could check each thing off peacefully, maybe while I meditated or something.

But now my planning is starting to get in the way of interesting projects that are materializing on their own. And the best version of me really loves other people’s adventures.

So this year, leaving room for serendipity tops my list of birthday goals. In that spirit, I’m wondering what you guys have crossed off your lists that you’d recommend. What have you done that’s worth doing, and next time can I come too?

In the meantime, I’ll just be following Evany around in my space suit.

Nov 21 2011

Last Chance for an Advent Grab Bag

We’re about to ship out our 24 Days Advent Grab Bags so they arrive in time for the Christmas countdown. Fifty percent of the proceeds go to support Charity Water! If you still want one, you’ll need to order now, by 7 p.m. PST please.

Order Now
Ages 4 and up
$35, plus shipping
50% of profits support Charity Water

A big fat thanks to those of you who have already ordered. You should have your package by the end of the week.

Nov 21 2011

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

These are most of the best parts of The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. My favorite part is his definition of contiguous; one of those moments when an author plucks something from your brain. It was a reminder that even most particular, private elements of human experience are ultimately universal. I’m not putting it here because I consider it a talent spoiler. Speaking of which, ephemeral is one to tuck away too.

The rest of it:

autonomy, n.
“I want my books to have their own shelves,” you said, and that’s how I knew it would be okay to live together.

belittle, v.
No, I don’t listen to the weather in the morning. No, I don’t keep track of what I spend. No, it hadn’t occurred to me that the Q train would have been much faster. But every time you give me that look, it doesn’t make me want to live up to your standards.

Breathtaking, adj.
Those mornings when we kiss and surrender for an hour before we say a single word.

exemplar, n.
You love my parents, I know. But you never get too close. You never truly believe there aren’t bad secrets underneath.

quintessence, n.
It’s the way you say thank you like you’re genuinely thankful. I have never met anyone else who does that on a regular basis.

recant, v.
…I want to take back the time I said you were a genius, because I was being sarcastic and I should have just said you’d hurt my feelings.

suffuse, v.
I don’t like it when you use my shampoo, because then your hair smells like me, not you.

taciturn, adj.
There are days you come home silent. You say words, but you’re still silent. I used to bomard you with convesational crowbars, but now I simply let the apartment fall mute. I hear you in the room — turning on music, typing on the keys, getting up for a drink, shifting in your chair. I try to have my conversation with those sounds.

My vocabulary notes:
peregrinations – travel from one place to another, especially on foot.
solipsistic- of or characterized by the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.

Nov 17 2011

Camp Mighty in Your Words

While I’m writing thank you notes, ironing muslin bags for advent kits, and arranging for a six-foot rocket to be delivered to my one-bedroom apartment, here’s what Camp Mighty attendees are saying about our weekend in Palm Springs. Now that I read them all together, they kind of read like an ad, which makes sense because we paid every attendee handsomely to say nice things about Camp Mighty on the Internet. Thanks, guys!

Photo by Lisa Congdon, this is the aftermath of her spectacular Space Camp costume. Click through to see it in action.

Leslie of Lights and Letters, “It does actually rain in Palm Springs. I was there when it happened. BUT! If you spend four hours in the hot tub drinking champagne punch you will hardly notice.”

Photo by Jon Armstrong.

Meg Keane of A Practical Wedding, “[Kenna] had a realization that most of us wait to do good till we’ve built our careers, or till we’re in a place where we can do more good, and that’s not good enough.”

Heather Armstrong of Dooce, “Camp Mighty is pretty much the more crowded version of The Mighty Summit that I attended in Wine Country last year. The goal of these events is to get drunk fall over borrow weed from the guy upstairs explore the idea of what it is you really want your life to be. And what is standing in your way.” (Heather wrote two posts actually.)

Anna of Positively Anna, “One of the most powerful messages I took away from this weekend is that we don’t have to conquer everything alone. In fact, it is a whole lot more fun to do it together.”

Photo from the Ecco Domani party photo page on Facebook.

Margit Detweiler of What’s Your System, “Mornings kicked off with inspirational chats from creative folk like Oprah producer Brian Piotrowicz, artist Lisa Congdon and Facebook Content Strategist Evany Thomas. Using a alternately creepy and hilarious cuddle party as metaphor, Evany listed out ’10 Easy Ways to Do More Things You Don’t Want to Do.'”

Cecily Kellog at Babble, “Overall, Camp Mighty was a great time with constant surprises. It was far different than any other social media conference I’ve attended.”

Photo by Sarah at Sawk Photography. (I totally subverted her methods for keeping people from stealing it so I could show you. Sarah, take me to task in comments if you want me to take it down, and I will. It is rad.)

Jules of Pancakes and French Fries, “Lisa Congdon’s talk at Camp Mighty was my favorite… She started off her talk by sharing she is a big introvert. I know the feeling. Then she spoke about her life and how she changed it, focusing on the last five years of explosive, prolific growth. It was inspiring to see how someone around my age folded themselves into a chrysalis and emerge changed and renewed. Come to think of it, that’s what her talk did to me.”

Photo by Stevie of Tru.che (@imakeshinylove)

Megan from Not Martha, “The afternoons were filled with a refreshingly non-imperative collection of skill building events that included learning to saber open a bottle of champagne, throw a punch, make champagne punch, make a mix tape, meditate, make a balloon animal, have personal swim instruction, or learn to use one of those heavy duty fire extinguishers.”

Erica of The Elbow, “I’ve told a few people about it and how amazing it was. That the people were some of the coolest, nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. The response I’m getting is “Oh, that’s cool”. Which is kind of like saying “Oh that’s cool” when you see the Northern Lights for the first time. It just doesn’t do it justice.” (Erica has a second post here.)

Jen Epting, “At that moment, [Evany Thomas] realized that she had a choice. Do you lean into the worst version of yourself, the one who longs for life to roll out wide and long ahead of you towards retirement? Or do you hold yourself to the highest standard? ‘Stay gold,’ she told us.”

Photo from Andrea at Flights of Fancy, “The ladies that were standing around in fact looked a little scared and creeped out. One gal came up to me afterwards and said, ‘So do you hit things often?'”

Eden Kennedy of Fussy, “Today at Camp Mighty we had our team lunches, where the group of people we raised money with for Charity: Water got together to read five things from our life lists to the rest of the group. If you, the listener, knew of a way to help the list reader take a step toward one of the items on their list, you spoke up and said so. Do you need 200 pounds of sand for your playground project? Well, there happens to be someone sitting behind you whose best friend’s cousin’s father is the head of Home Depot. Maybe they can help you.” (Eden also has posts here and here.)

Ellie of Things I Ate in General, “I’ve spent the past few days in Palm Springs attending Camp Mighty. In this time I have: made a balloon animal, sprayed a fire extinguisher into a field, learned how to throw a punch, learned how to make punch, gotten a Mondrian painted on my hand to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities, sipped Tang cocktails while dressed as Amy Pond, had my picture taken for a street fashion blog, sat in a hot tub in the rain, and more!”

Photo by Amber of Amber Marlow Photography, who also posted.

Amy of Just a Titch, “For me, I think I realized that you can never underestimate the power of a lot of really kind, smart people in one place.”