Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #43, February 28, 2021

 Hi all,

Apologies for the unexpected hiatus, but wow, it's been a hectic month!  I've been thrown headlong into the joys of homeownership (bats in the attic! leak in the roof! endless snow!), balanced with tying up dozens of loose ends around my job transition.  Today, I want to address a concept that's been raised to me many times since I announced these life changes a few weeks ago - the idea that chaos is necessarily bad.  Yes, life is indeed utter chaos right now.  I've barely slept, I've been eating Doritos and M&Ms for lunch, and my head is constantly spinning trying to keep up with the urgent items on my task list.  However, not all stress is negative.  I have perhaps never completed so much in such a short time in my whole life (including Cookie Party baking weeks), and I am feeling so accomplished!  My to-do list was (and still is) a mile long, but all of the items on it right now are things that either make me smile or are taking me a step closer to things that I believe will make me happy for a long time yet to come.

For the first time in over a decade, I walk around with screwdrivers in my pockets and a tape measure clipped to my waistband.  I'm doing things that have nothing to do with a computer - physical labor like fixing pipes and doorknobs and shoveling the 4+ feet of snow that have fallen since I bought my house last month - and it feels amazing!

And while I am completely overwhelmed at times (like when I have an hour to decide what stain color and sheen to use on our hardwood floors, or when I've been told to install 23 escutcheon plates on various drainpipes and I've never even heard that word before), I also know that when I begin each of these processes, I'm just a few hours away from having learned a new skill or body of knowledge.  This is actually how I've described my job throughout my career - I have often been in a situation where things come up each day that I have no idea how to do.  There's a very brief moment of panic or annoyance, and often frustration with the deadline I've been given to figure out how to deal with the thing.  But I know that if I can embrace that feeling and throw myself into figuring it out, I will learn and grow every single day on the job.  That's been true as a congressional intern, a concert producer, a varsity sailor, a nonprofit director, a contract manager with no legal experience, a fledgling academic writer, and a junior attorney.  It was also true at the start of my cookie-baking escapades, when I puzzled out how to play the piano, when I started dating (and eventually married) an Alaskan who took me on all sorts of outdoor adventures, when I started this very Digest, and most recently when I bought a house.

We're all faced with these situations all the time, and I really believe that what determines whether we succeed or fail is how we approach the problem.  If we treat it as an overwhelming source of stress, it becomes a difficult and perhaps insurmountable obstacle.  If we tackle it head-on and treat it as our next adventure, there's really nothing we can't break down into bite-sized steps and figure out.  I know the quarantine seems like an endless slog, but try finding a new project that energizes you and that you can turn into a worthwhile journey, whether that's your next work emergency, or finding something around the house to fix, or picking up a new hobby.  Whatever you decide to tackle, I know you can do it, even if it takes a little time or elbow grease to get there.  Happy trails!


Things to Do
Black History Month: As the month wraps up, check out these ways of exploring that you may have missed - it's never too late to dive in.
(Nutella) Recipes: Since the last Digest went out, an important holiday passed, and I can't let this slip by without celebrating.  February 5th was International Nutella Day!  Alas! all of my pans have been packed in boxes until a few days ago, so I wasn't able to properly celebrate this festive occasion, but below are a few of my favorite recipes from past years.  I'm also recalling the moment, a little over a year ago, when I found out that my love for Nutella literally runs in my blood - apparently, my great-aunt married into the Ferrero family, which frankly explains a lot about my lifelong chocolate cravings!

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