We're finally going on our trip ✈️: The Delights of Distraction No.86

This week’s newsletter ended up being quite wordy, so we’ll keep the introduction short other than to tell you that we have FINALLY booked our tickets for Thailand this week. We were supposed to leave for Thailand to meet our ceramicists and for a little break on April 3 - but then through a series of unlucky events that involved Covid and post Covid effects, we had to postpone our trip. If we do manage to leave this week, it will be the first international trip we’ve taken since February, 2020. We’re looking forward to Sub-40 centigrade weather, cheap winecoolers, Pomelo salads and midnight foot massages after an evening of window shopping and bar hopping. 

And on to our programming for the week, some of our favourite links: 

To read: When the world grows increasingly hectic, as it has continued to do in recent times, some of our old anxieties flare up with vengeance. We find ourselves trapped by our minds, unable to detach from our screens, running through negative thought patterns that hold us hostage. This descriptive article in Psyche magazine reminds us of the necessity of cultivating mindfulness in a world that is designed to distract and frighten; by using our five senses to notice what is going on around us. Scroll down the newsletter for the poem, Relax By Ellen Bass, that gorgeously illustrates this concept with a visceral flair. 

Whether it becomes a crisis or not, midlife is a difficult time for many. One common reason is what psychologists have called “sandwiching”: As you raise your kids, you are also saddled with the care of aging parents. Midlife usually starts around your 40s: The skills you honed in early adulthood start to wane. If you don’t focus on the abilities that grow as you get older, you might perceive aging as an unmitigated loss, which will be a source of suffering. But the writer Arthur C. Brooks, lists two wise decisions you can make to avoid this fate. This article also served as a reminder that birthdays can, and should, be joyous celebrations of life lived, not dreaded timestamps of what has and has not yet happened within the span of an arbitrary number of years. 

To joy scroll: Mary Cassatt was a turn-of-the-20th century American painter best known for her ability to capture the unfathomable intimacy between mother and child-with great beauty and nuance. Her painting, La Toilette, apparently made the legendary Edgar Degas exclaim, "I do not admit that a woman can draw like that. Scroll through her motherhood-themed paintings, explained in theme and meaning in the Daily Art Magazine. 

To listen: We’ve linked to this once before, but it’s such a beautifully transportative yet simple site that we’re recommending it again. Radio Garden is where you can go to listen to live radio all over the world by navigating an interactive globe. This has the potential to be a great way to discover music you've never heard before, and just listen to talk shows or radio stations anywhere in the world, immersing yourself in the local language and musical zeitgeist of an esoteric location. Currently we are on 88.6 in Mauritius. It's multilingual, with popular songs that have been covered in French and remixed with local beats - fire! 

To try at work: This site is a list of things you might feel like saying at work and the alternative - more professional way - that you should say it. 

This guide was inspired and compiled from content created by @loewhaley on Instagram, and while some of it might not flow comfortably out of your mouth, we think it might provide some ideas on how to politely address your boss and colleagues even while hoping they spontaneously combust. 

Example: Instead of saying: “That sounds like a horrible idea.” 

You can say “Are we confident that this is the best solution or are we still exploring alternatives?” 

Instead of “That meeting sounds like a waste of my time” 

You can say, “I’m unable to add value to this meeting but I would be happy to review the minutes.” 

Instead of “Stop bothering me.” 

You can say, “You have not heard from me because further information is not available at this time, once I have an update I’ll be sure to loop you in.”  

To cook: First, here are a couple of food-adjacent articles we found interesting: 

India’s new taste for local whisky is shaking up the global drinks market, as sales of Indian single malts are booming from a new generation shedding old notions about the superiority of imported brands. 

Also - a list of food myths that have been circulating from our grandmums to whatsapp group chats, busted.  

And finally, a potato-stuffed flatbread (NOT a paratha) - coz life’s too short to not allow yourself the simple pleasure of carb blissfully meeting cheese.  

To life hack: While Ami loves efficiently ticking off her to-do lists, Viv often feels overwhelmed by the random things she needs to get to, no matter how much she is gently bolstered to “get organized.” If you feel like Viv most of the time, here's a simple three-step prioritization framework glommed from David Allen’s “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” to help you manage a list of tasks based on what you get to do: 

First priority: Do the things that will relieve the most stress in your life. 

Second priority: Take care of the tasks that reinforce your identity. 

Third priority: Everything else. 

Life is about balancing your stress levels and reinforcing your identity. If you're low stress and showing up as you intended, then you're going to be pretty happy with everything going on around you. 

What stresses you out will change depending on the scenario, but you should always prioritize reducing stress whenever possible. It has tremendous short-term and long-term benefits. Also, when we say identity, we’re not talking about who you are today. We’re referring to who you want to see yourself as in the best possible version of your future. Identity doesn't have to be just one thing. You can be a caring friend, a healthy eater, a patient listener among other things. Just be sure you are consciously choosing an identity and not staying on autopilot. But as a corollary to this, remember to be kind to yourself: 

“Nobody in the history of humanity has ever achieved work-life balance, whatever that might be, and you certainly won’t get there by copying the six things successful people do before 7:00 a.m. The day will never arrive when you finally have everything under control—when the flood of emails has been contained; when your to-do lists have stopped getting longer; when you’re meeting all your obligations at work and in your home life; when nobody’s angry with you for missing a deadline or dropping the ball; and when the fully optimized person you’ve become can turn, at long last, to the things life is really supposed to be about.” Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals 

To quote: "For nothing is fixed, forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out." James Baldwin 

To end:

By Ellen Bass 
Bad things are going to happen. 
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus 
and your cat will get run over. 
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream 
melting in the car and throw 
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier. 
Your husband will sleep 
with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling out of her blouse. Or your wife 
will remember she’s a lesbian 
and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat— the one you never really liked—will contract a disease that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth 
every four hours. Your parents will die. 
No matter how many vitamins you take, 
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys, 
your hair and your memory. If your daughter 
doesn’t plug her heart 
into every live socket she passes, 
you’ll come home to find your son has emptied 
the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb, 
and called the used appliance store for a pick up—drug money. There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger. When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine and climbs half way down. But there’s also a tiger below. And two mice—one white, one black—scurry out and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point 
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice. She looks up, down, at the mice. 
Then she eats the strawberry. 
So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse 
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat, slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel 
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely. 
Oh taste how sweet and tart 
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth. 

Wishing you sweetness and serenity this week,

Viv and Ami

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