Holy heat wave, Traipsers! Straight up HOT here in the west. To the astonishment of my friends, I've shifted to a 6 a.m wakeup to seize the cool mornings. (As my buddy Brandon texted, "WTF, who are you?!")

I've escaped the midday heat doing new-to-me activities like making cashew cheese or pesto from radishes and basil from our garden. Meanwhile, my farmer wife just soldiers on planting the remainder of The Project. Chelsea is tough as nails and would have made a fine pioneer!

This week's newsletter:
Practices vs. rituals (prioritize the former!), a fascinating podcast about neuroscience, an app to deepen one's appreciation for the natural world, and a way to shut off the background noise while working from home.

Stay cool out there,


Riding bikes and identifying flowers! (Indian Paintbrush, NBD...)
Practices vs. Routines

Experienced any dislocation in your daily schedule in the last few months? YUP. Me too. For better or worse, it's all of our current reality.
We're not alone. CoronaLame blew many of our schedules out of the water and blasted former routines to pieces. Why? As Ryan Holiday writes in this insightful article, it's because routines are fragile.
As he writes, "
The difference is in the flexibility. One is about daily rhythm. The other is a lifelong pursuit. One can be ruined by something as simple as hitting the snooze button one too many times or getting called into work unexpectedly. The other can adapt accordingly. One is something you made up. The other is something you do."

I couldn't agree more - focusing on practices vs routines serves me far better. I have few routines, but daily practices sustain and propel me forward. My COVID checklist helps.

Awesome App: Seek by iNaturalist

If you'd told me to look for a Rydberg Penstemon two months ago, I'd have pictured a satanic ritual. Certainly not a pretty blue flower.

Enter Seek, my current favorite phone app that is a) expanding my knowledge of the natural world and b) dramatically slowing down my hikes with Chelsea. During one recent 6-mile jaunt, we found 18 new plant species that before I'd have identified as "blue-flowered plant." It also helped me figure out unknown plants in our yard.

All you do is open the app and point your phone at the plant. It even identifies the human species, though not so granular as mountain biker vs. trail runner... Maybe for a future update?

I didn't need Seek to tell me what these backyard veggies were!
Podcast: How to Change Your Brain on Rich Roll's podcast

So many "whoa, that's cool" moments during this podcast interview with a Stanford neuroscientist (and former punk skateboarder).
Rich Roll's summary: "
A master class on all things neuroplasticity, Dr. Huberman walks us through the brain’s inherent ability to modify itself based on experience and how we can advantageously leverage this process–through focus, mindfulness and restorative sleep–to not only learn new skills but also improve all essential aspects of well-being."

A few takeaways:

1. Early stages of hard work feel like agitation and frustration due to norepinephrine - a stress hormone - kicking in. (Piano anyone?) This is because our brains seek energy conservation mode, not learning. Push through and the fun starts.
2. Calm down with two breaths in, then one out. Longer duration breathing out is a way to soothe the vagus nerve and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
3. Defocused time between deep work, aka NOT staring at a cellphone, regenerates energy and focus. 2 minutes to let eyes wander does wonders for creative rejuvenation. Unfocused eyes puts the brain in portrait mode, which quiets the amygdala. How cool is the brain!?
Working From Home Life Saver:

Our cat Oliver is a loud feline. He's interrupted contributed to a fair number of my work phone calls over the years of working from home.
Perhaps you have an Oliver - a dog, kid, or fish with a drumset - and are
struggling to find a quiet place to work while you're avoiding the office. Check out, a piece of serious AI magic that eliminates background noise from conversations. From dog barks to screaming children, it's like a magic mute button for everything except your voice.
The free version (what I use) gives you 120 min/week of muting, or pay $40/month unlimited time.
As a reminder, none of the links in this newsletter are ever sponsored. Just stuff I enjoy and think might benefit you all!
Annnnd that's it for this edition. Thanks for reading and as always, please send any links to videos blogs, articles, podcasts and book recommendations you feel are important my way. I love hearing what you're into.
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