If you missed last week's post on the holiday #ComplaintTuesday, which is taking the entire world by storm (well, my world), you can read it here: Complaining is Good for You, if You Do it Right. Science Agrees with Me.
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Last week I was working on a piece about the anxiety of returning to the office, or as people “out there” call it—returning to “normal.”
But last Thursday morning at 6:30 a.m., something terrible happened: A beloved friend of mine died. And as if to hammer home the point, writing about returning to how things were just made no sense to me. So, I stopped.
Michelle Lewis was not just a friend and an icon in my Fort Greene, Brooklyn neighborhood—she was a member of this community. She was a “How to Live” subscriber and one of its most ardent champions. Without fail, she’d send me a note every Wednesday after reading the new piece to tell me how perfectly timed it was, how much it helped her, or what she learned.
She was also the sort of friend who made me feel seen, valued, and cherished. No easy feat for someone who was also brash and proud, hysterically funny, irreverent, and found to be intimidating by those who didn’t know her.
She cursed, she was inappropriate, and we laughed our asses off together. But for a person who was proud, tough, and not particularly forthcoming with her emotions, she was very free with me, and that made me feel special.
More important than any of that was her love for dogs: Michelle was a small business owner who cooked 600 dog treats every single morning in her small Brooklyn kitchen, and sold the treats to the local cafés, coffee shops, and other stores. Every morning, she’d go to Fort Greene Park, sit on the same bench, and give the leftover treats to the dogs.
There was no dog she didn’t know, no dog who didn’t love her. They would literally wait for her to show up, sprinting across the park the moment they saw Michelle arrive. God help anyone who sat in that spot before she got there or the dogs would jump all over the poor unsuspecting person. Michelle’s treats were so good, I held an intervention with my dog, Busy, and threatened her with rehab.
After not being able to write the original piece about returning to “normal” life, I thought about what Michelle loved most about this newsletter, and as I perused her text messages to me, I saw that she most valued the bits of wisdom and advice I offered each week.
So to honor Michelle’s memory in this week’s newsletter, I am going to do just that and offer some of the best advice I have ever heard, thought or given. With some from my sister Kara thrown in for good measure.
And, as always, I invite you to please add your advice / wisdom / insight in the comments.
The heroes journey is an arc, but the heroine's journey moves in spirals or circles. -Joey Soloway *
Modern man thinks he loses something—time—when he does not do things quickly; yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains except kill it. - Lori Gottlieb
You cannot control others. No matter how much you push, cajole, threaten, they will not change. You need to find your own happy. Do not rely on other people to make you happy-that's on you. It's an inside job.
Uncertainty should feel like a challenge and not a threat
When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened. - Winston Churchill
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, it's a habit. - Will Durant
Frustration is a matter of expectation (All of the Stoics)
We're not an object, we're a process. - Justin Mager, MD
Often all that stands between you and what you want is a better set of questions.
Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask. - Tim Ferris
You don't find the time to do something, you make the time to do things. Debbie Millman
We get rewarded in public for the rituals we have in private - Matthew Hussey
Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life. - Jerzy Gregorek
What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn't have any doubt. it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn't want to go anywhere else. - Hal Boyle
I believe that the key to self-sufficiency is breaking free of the mindset that someone somewhere owes you something or will come to your rescue. - Amelia Boone
We are always the same age inside - Gertrude Stein
It’s not about feeling better, it’s about getting better at feeling- Marc Brackett
Doing things for other people out of fear isn't love, it's selfish anxiety - Abby Medcalf
It's easier to repair strong children than to repair broken men - Frederick Douglas
If you refuse to hear criticism, you choose not to learn.
Too many parents make life hard for their children by trying, too zealously, to make it easy for them. - Lori Gottlieb
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. - Henry David Thoreau
Most of your mental anguish is believing the "should" instead of accepting the "is."
Whenever you’re afraid or worried, project yourself into the future and ask your 90 year old self what she would do.
Leave them in the comments!
Thank you for reading.
Until next week, I am…
*The newsletter edition misidentified Joey Soloway as Jill Soloway. My regrets and apologies.
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