Howdy Traipsers,

A new era! Even-keeled leadership, positive action on climate and social justice, and a glass ceiling finally shattered. I know progress is slow and discord remains, but today I feel hopeful. Yesterday's swath of executive orders got me fired up!

On a more mundane front, I'm replacing our van batteries barely 5 years beyond their recommended life. Very much looking forward to not tripping the inverter while boiling water for Chelsea's morning coffee. Write up on that coming soon.


This Week's Newsletter:

Ditching a self-bullying mindset, begone tennis elbow, artistic biking, and Spotify playlists.


New project! As part of learning to draw and plus reading about music history, I'm doing a quick daily portrait of a composer or pianist in my journal. Here's opera pioneer Monteverdi and his badass beard.

Ditching a self-bullying mindset

(read on the blog here)

I’m one of those Type-A people who enjoys filling a 30-day calendar challenge with a streak of X’s. Solidly motivating for me, or at least a simple reminder to practice my Italian!


Recently I saw a challenge with a different take: a repeating loop of “do activity, get less awful.” (Paraphrased.) I found it funny...until Chelsea pointed out how that mindset is essentially bullying myself. Which hadn’t registered at all for me. 


In fact, I often beat myself up for falling short of self-prescribed expectations. I want to be GOOD at things. But what does that even mean? 


If we think we’re not “good” at something, is there a finish line? There’s always someone more skilled at a hobby, richer, fitter than us.


How freeing would it be to drop all (or at least most) comparisons and be happy with our efforts and current abilities simply for the joy of the activity? Drawing composers because the process entertains me, not for the finished sketch.

Would you trade it all?


Reminding myself how much effort and sacrifice goes into proficiency - much less mastery - of anything helps me gain perspective. As Ryan Holiday writes, would you permanently swap your entire life with someone else - negative and positive aspects - to have their talent?


I sure wouldn’t trade all my hours of travel and outdoor adventures for portrait drawing ability or the wizardry to play Beethoven piano sonatas.


My conversation with Chelsea was a powerful reminder that approaching life’s activities with a negative mindset - “I’m not good enough, so I need to improve myself” is a recipe for life-long disappointment. “I’m bad at piano, so I need to practice” pales for long-term motivation next to “this process is satisfying and I’m excited about learning it no matter the progress.”
I want motivation from the latter.


What if we talked to ourselves the way we talk to a best friend? Supportive. Inquisitive. Loving us for who we are, not because we’re “good” at something.
Celebrating us as a human being, not a human doing. If we can do that for our closest friends, surely we can do so for ourselves.


So now I’m aiming to put the X on the calendar and keep the streak alive. And also to feel fine if I miss a day or struggle with a piece of music.


Practice-->Enjoyment-->Practice. That’s a loop I want to be in!

Ditch elbow pain


Recently some tendinitis pinged in my elbows. Odd since I’m not rock climbing, the usual source. I think my piano playing did it!


Luckily, a friend sent me the perfect solution: a Theraband Flexbar. (Thanks, Jono!)  In just a week of doing 2 minutes of daily PT work, the tendinitis went away. I got the mid-range green one, btw.


Reading up on elbow issues, it seems many people have weak extensor muscles (top of the forearm) vs. their flexors. For anyone who types a lot, grips things like bike bars or weights, or all you lovers of racquet sports, adding a Flexbar to your quiver of PT tools seems like a no-brainer!

Beethoven, albeit looking a bit stern and with six fingers because hands are impossible to draw. Just ignore the bike flying over his head.

Bro, can you even do a handstand on a bike?

The young kids on my block think I’m the coolest when I pop a wheelie on my bike or flick a pinecone with the front wheel. For now - they'll find YouTube someday.


Still, I suspect their heads might explode if they saw Viola Brand performing artistic (aka freestyle) biking. Mine almost did.


Picture gymnastics on a moving bike or tricks on one wheel I cannot fathom. Simply amazing. I’d love to watch her unassumingly hop on a mountain bike and drop a few jaws at a mountain bike trailhead!

Spotify playlists for your listening pleasure

I’m digging a couple Spotify playlist recently: the relaxing, calm classical music Exquisite Piano Pieces, which I found while learning the Erik Satie song Gymnopedie No. 1 (you know it). The second playlist features the best of Leon Bridges – soul laced with 1960s rhythm and blues. So good.

That's it for this edition. Got a favorite wild-haired composer? Send their name my way and I'll sketch their portrait, hopefully making them look way too serious.
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