I’ve been reading a lot about burn out, probably because everyone is fucking burnt out. The thing that makes me the most sad is burning out from things that we control.

Like, I talk weekly with a friend that I made from the Akimbo Freelancer Workshop. We bounce stuff off each other constantly, and one of the big focuses is outsourcing. Getting things off our plate. Giving ourselves the permission to be the boss who takes two hour lunches.

Obviously the various stresses and demands of freelance work can make it hard to take that two hour lunch, but… if you don’t design your ideal work situation, others will. It will be ideal for them.

Emails at all hours. Phone calls. Ridiculous deadlines.

The best busy work is no busy work at all.

Sure, that sounds hippy dippy dream talk, but fuuuuuck it – a person has to dream, right?

It’s the whole “saying no,” thing, which I’m sure you’ve seen all over the internet. The act of saying no is basically saying yes to other things – yes to free time, yes to other work, yes to not working at all!

A while back I said “no more transcribing.” I had done 100s of hours of audio transcribing for writers. It was okay money, but the work required absolute focus. If you lose focus, it’s hard to get back on track. Toss in bad audio, and other work on your plate, and it just got to be too much.

So I said no. Could I have used the money? Of course! I could still use that money!

But saying no to that work gives room for the work I want to be doing (and it’s working).

Saying no to clients with ridiculous deadlines, unreasonable availability, low pay, high stress – that’s the shit you say no to.

Stripping away of the stuff that depletes you that makes space for the time to go outside for a walk, or take a two hour lunch.

So don’t manage your thing – your business, your blog, your music – with what everyone else is doing – make it fit how you want to live.


I got lost recently, digging through the Subtle Maneuvers newsletter archive. This quote struck me.

“As an artist and freelancer, there’s a lot of ways you can feel guilty on a daily basis. Guilty for not having enough free time, guilty for having too much, guilty for loving your job, guilty for not loving it. I’m trying to eliminate as much of that guilt as possible, because it’s totally useless. Since quarantine, I regularly sleep until 10. I have dessert every single day. I exercise when I feel like it. I relish my free time when I have it, relish my work when I love it. I ask for an extension if I’m just too sad to meet my deadline. I don’t care anymore. I’m done with guilt. Life is too short.”

Hallie Bateman

Just Be Better

Been thinking a lot about this press conference statement by Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles:

“If you’re fixing free throws, if you’re getting better as a player, none of this is happening. So everybody can bitch and complain about how tough this city is to play in. Just play better, man. This city will love you.” ESPN

Just play better, man.

A friend and I have a mantra we share, very simply, “just be cool.”

My mind is heading towards “just be better each day.”

I’m not talking about some quantifiable metric, some hustle, some “get 1% smarter everyday” grind. Better goes great with sports, or sales, but in life it’s different.

Just appreciate, be grateful, be present, be mindful. I know, magical hippy dippy new age bullshit, but whatever, I have to live inside this brain for the rest of my life, so I’m going to use what I use.

Just be better. Just experience better? Just be?

Asking Questions is Art

So simple, yet so right:

In an expert-run industrialized economy, there’s a lot of pressure to be the one who’s sure, the person with all the answers.

Far more valuable is someone who has all the questions. The ability to figure out what hasn’t been figured out and see what hasn’t been seen is a significant advantage.

Seth Godin

I know this only because I’ve been on the planet for 45 years, been in a couple of conference rooms, with smart people who kept me on my toes.

Yes, having an answer is fun. Makes you look good. Sure.

But when you ask a question that no one thought to ask, that brings the meeting to a halt, that sets fire to the agenda – that’s way more fun.

Getting there, though, is the long road. The journey. The million mistakes, the trials and errors, the blood, sweat, and tears.

The gold isn’t found in offering up the answers. It’s asking your friend the right question when they’re going through a hard time. The one thing that pulls them up, because the answer was inside them the whole time.

We’re On Our Own

Via @laurieallee

This is what I feel.

We’re approaching 30,000 COVID deaths here in Pennsylvania, over the course of 17 months. That’s like 1,750 per month. So, approaching a 9/11 death-toll every single month for over a year.

No memorials. No healing. No moments of silence. Nothing.

Sure, the IRS keeps knocking. Local hospital network keeps emailing me for donations. Remember when car insurance companies gave us automated discounts those first two months? HAH.

Through all of this I am reminded of one thing, very soundly; we’re on our own.

Before Giving Yourself Over to Your Job

From an interview with Harper’s Bazaar Digital Director Nikki Ogunnaike:

“My friend Joe Holder is very much of the school where he believes there are all sorts of products that people are buying and reaching and searching for to do their wellness practices, but there are things like stillness, meditation, religion, fresh air, and vitamin D. And I don’t knock anyone — do whatever you need to do to center yourself. But in my own life, making sure that I do something for myself in the morning before I have to give myself over to my job.”

‘Nikki Ogunnaike Wants You to Unfollow Anyone Who Doesn’t Bring You Joy, at The Cut

Even with my years of talking about productivity and using all the cool tools, my morning routine doesn’t exist. Some mornings I just stumble through, other mornings I rush to complete a task that I put off from the previous workday.

The idea though, of “making sure I do something for myself in the morning before I have to give myself over to my job.” The idea that we really do give ourselves over to our jobs, even when working remotely. That’s a real thing. A different headspace.

Covid Ain’t Over

Well, things were going in the right direction for a little while. But then…

I’ve seen this movie before. That slope is gonna keep going up. I’ve been to a local Starbucks a bit, to work. People flowing in throughout the afternoons with no masks. Packing the place every now and again. Same at the grocery stores.

And this is what we get. A new 7-day average of 472 cases.
Next week it’ll be 1000.
The week after it’ll be 2000.

“If you’re someone who is fully vaccinated, the pandemic is basically over for you in terms of your risk of getting covid-19,” Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja

I hope I’m wrong, but viruses are a lot more efficient than dumb humans.

Carlisle’s Horrific History with Native Americans

I got talking about Carlisle, PA with a friend recently. We read about the city on Wikipedia (here) and learned of this boarding school called the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, “an experiment in educating Native Americans and teaching them to reject tribal culture and to adapt to white society.” Horrific.

I’ve lived in PA most of my life and never heard of this place. This atrocity.

“Carlisle became the model for 26 off-reservation Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding schools in 15 states and territories. Some private boarding schools were sponsored by religious denominations.”


Oh, religious denominations, falling right in line with American imperialism!

And this from the “Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the fiscal year ending 1882“:

All our students attend Sabbath-school, the girls in our own chapel, the boys at the different churches in Carlisle. Sabbath afternoon services havo been conducted by Rev. Dr. Lijpincott, of Dickinson College, to whom I am greatly indebted for faith­ful and zealous services as chaplain. These influences have produced gratifying re­sults.

I mean, how does the church justify this? How do they remedy this? They played a part in the genocide of a people.

Home Economics class, 1901 Source

These are children from just 120 years ago. Sickening.

Loki and The Matrix

I love any story that involves a “what’s really behind the curtain” element. That’s probably why I love The Matrix (1998) so much, and can watch that first movie over and over again. There’s ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ from 2011, too.

Not sure why I decided to give Loki a chance, being as all those “comic book movies” don’t really do much for me. I didn’t grow up on those stories, or the comics. Sure, the ‘Batman’ from 1989 will always be a movie I love, but mostly because I was in middle school at the time, and everyone had that Batman logo shirt.

Getting into this Loki TV series was pretty easy, though. It jumps right into the mystery and intrigue real quick, and it does it mostly without the huge pomp and flash of those comic book movies.

And honestly, Tom Hiddleston is a delight. I love every bit of him this – the dialogue, the wit, the charm, his dashing good looks, his… journey.

For me two parts reminded me of The Matrix.

When Mobius tells Loki, “you could be whoever, whatever you wanna be, even someone good. I mean, just in case anyone ever told you different.”

Remember Neo riding in the car in the matrix for the first time, going to see The Oracle?

NEO: I have all these memories. None of them happened. What does that mean?
TRINITY: The Matrix cannot tell you who you are.

In The Matrix, the machines made up fake memories and lives. The TVA snatched people from the timeline and erased their memories.

Then I felt Neo’s lone meeting with The Architect was similar, too. He Who Remains said he paved the way for Loki and Sylvie, and The Architect said that the remainder was not unexpected, so there was a measure of control. Both were planned, expected. It was fate that led to these meetings.

Neo had to make a choice; return to the source and the salvation of Zion, or go back to the Matrix and the extinction of the human race.

In Loki, there was a final choice, too: go back and lead the TVA, or kill He Who Remains and await the “total destruction of… well, everything.”

I have no idea where The Loki story goes, and of course we know that Neo could have saved everyone a lot of turmoil if he just took the door to the right.

The problem is choice.

  • Loki could have stopped Sylvie, given his powers and strength, but he didn’t.
  • Neo coulda have returned to the source, but he didn’t.
  • Sylvie could have “listened to reason,” but like Neo, she was on a mission. She was in love with revenge, the story. She needed this ending, this finality, this completion to the quest that she’s been on for 1000s (?) of years.
  • Neo had to save Trinity because he loved her.

I’m fascinated by the Simulation hypothesis, which of course would mean that everything is made up, just like The Matrix, or everything is controlled by something like The TVA. In that, that means I can wake up as Tyler Durden tomorrow if I want, or someone with the confidence of Loki.

If we’re all making this up as we go along, why not?

The Heat Is On

Wrote a bit about running in the heat, over at The Soft Run:

We’re human, and we’re squishy (sometimes soggy). We’re made of red blood cells, not slabs of steel that arrange nicely on a blue-print.

Check it out here.