As you read this I will be days away from escaping to the mountains of France on my first ever writing retreat. It is a strange twist that having spent most of this year turning down work and focusing on other areas of my life (health, family) that I am somehow still as busy as I ever was. I mean, I have a little more time to crochet and read, but mostly I get to the end of the day wondering how it is I ever managed to do more than I am doing because I feel I am busy all the time.
The retreat is a gift to myself, a chance to immerse myself in one thing, the writing and at a pace which is far slower than my day to day. I’ve noticed that when I talk about it, the language I use is very different. I talk of it being a luxury, an indulgence, of the slowness and the peace. It made me wonder why it is that I can’t capture some of that in my day to day. Is there a way to create moments in our everyday lives which give us those feelings or do we need to create these intentional retreats from real life in order to recharge?
While I figure that out, let’s get on with this edition of the Notes…
1) As confident as Gene Kelly
Before you say “white, privileged, male - of course he was confident” bear with me a moment… This article makes some excellent points about how acknowledging our talents allows us to deepen our confidence in them. As the writer says: “Think about it: How often do you acknowledge how talented you are? Like, really look inward and give yourself credit for all that you’ve done? Acknowledge what a badass you are and how hard you’ve worked for what you’ve got? How often have you forced other people to do the same? Think back to the last time that you required that others not only appreciate everything that you’re capable of, but that they also upped their game to meet yours. Have you ever done that?” For me, I have. It took years, therapy, mentoring, and frustration but there are areas in my life where I am unashamedly confident in my skill set. I know, for example, that I am the best mother that there is for my son. Not necessarily always the best mother on the planet, who is? But for my son, I am the right mother. And in my professional life, there are knowledge areas where I am absolutely rock solid in what I bring to the table. Where I can stand firmly in what I know while still leaving room for the growth and the evolution that is a necessary part of learning. I am confident in that and that confidence translates to the people around me. Now, over to you. How would you answer the questions that the writer asks?
2) An act of courageous and moral leadership
I am very proud to call some of the people in this article my friends. They are pioneers of building online and offline community at scale in order to change the world. I’m sure some bright spark is going to be along shortly to take the term “community entrepreneurship” and start slapping it on all sorts of sleazy marketing initiatives but for now I am celebrating the people who are building true communities for good and changing the lives of millions with their work.
3) What Google knows about you
There’s been so much talk in the last couple of year about Facebook and privacy and privacy and Facebook that somehow people seem to have lost focus on the huge number of other organisations that hold data on you or make assumptions about you based on the information they have (sorting through what Instagram thinks I’m interested in is always hilarious). If data privacy concerns you, then consider that Google holds significantly more data on most people than Facebook does. Here’s how you can check what they know and take some control over it.
4) On faith and hope
This is your long read. The one I want you to save and settle into in a quiet moment. Because what is said in here is important. You would have to have been living under a rock in the last few years not to have heard of the Black Lives Matter movement. We all know what it is, some of us are aware of how and why it started but how many understand what it took to create a movement that began a world changing conversation? You see, it has been my experience from meeting hundreds of community leaders over the years, that none of them set out to do what they have done. They simply saw something that needed fixing and couldn’t walk away from it. When noone else came along to fix it, they decided to try. Many of them wouldn’t have considered themselves leaders, a lot of them didn’t know how to do what they were doing but they did it anyway. Movements begin with the thing you can no longer tolerate or ignore, they are started by people who are more invested in creating the change than being recognised as the person who created change. They don’t want glory, they don’t want accolades, they do want change. And that’s how it begins.
5) Building your resilience
I Asked, You Answered
In the last edition of the Notes I asked; “Which book have you read recently that left an impact on you?” This is what you had to say…
Seeing Red by Lina Meruane. And (because one book is never enough for my nightstand) Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck.
Lost Connections by Johann Hari. Discussions over the causes of depression, with lost community being a big factor. So thank you for the work you do Emmy.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Beautifully written and thought-provoking.
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
“Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions “ - absolutely loved it! Having a newborn girl after having a son really made me think how I want to raise her in a world of inequality and this short piece came to me in the right time!
Play Your Bigger Game. Because it shows how you really don’t need the answer, but you can create it
The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield: a short, no-nonsense book on creativity and how to understand (and beat) the one thing that stops us from fulfilling our creative potential.
Our next Curiosities question is from a Notes reader who would like to ask other Notes readers:
Click the question to leave your answer (anonymously), There is also a place on the form for those of you who have a question you would like to ask your fellow Notes readers. Responses will be published in the next edition.
Until the next Notes,
P.S. My website is having a little spring clean at the moment. All the content is still there, it might just look a little wonky if you are visiting it for the next few weeks. Bear with me, good things are coming.
Who am I and who do I help? I’m Emmy McCarthy and I make small businesses better and help people create leadership in their communities.
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