On giving…

This post title is perhaps misleading. It’s actually about a lot of things. The culmination of some thinking. But also a work in progress.

I’m recovering from an SI joint fusion operation, which you can find out more about here, should you be so inclined. But the point is, I’m having time off work, with now manageable pain for the first time in 15 months, and having this time allows me to reflect.

I’ve been doing a lot of mindfulness – (try out www.headspace.com) – and thinking a lot about generosity. Giving. Not just to others, but also to myself. I’ve re-established my habit of giving a Kiva loan a month – (kiva.org) – and giving myself time, regularly and intentionally, to think on where I am going.

I’ve discovered the Tim Ferris podcast, the HiddenBrain podcast and the Infinite Monkey Cage podcast – all of which I thoroughly recommend. This has also led me to Tim Ferris’ book – The Four Hour Work Week, which is fascinating reading.

So where is all this leading? To an epiphany, I hope. Certainly to a lifestyle change. As I near the end of a contract here in Nanjing as a High School Counsellor, I see the future as an open door, full of possibilities. And these may not involve working full time and saving for the future…at least not in the traditional sense, where I’m working a 9-5 in order to ‘enjoy’ a retirement in 20 years’ time…

We’re taking a year off from August and giving ourselves the luxury of a year to travel, to chill out in our place in France, and to be with our kids and each other in a much more intentional and rich way. The year off has been planned for a long time and is evolving into two years… Instead of travelling around the world for 8 or 9 months, we may simply visit Canada and the US and then come home. And then head off again when we feel like it to tour Europe closer to home. And then hit South America sometime in 2017…

Are we sudden lottery winners? No. We’ve been keen savers for a while and have no illusions about the lifestyle we’ll be adopting for a couple of years. Learning about investment has been a big thing over the last couple of years for me as well. We think we can do this. It’s exciting.

So giving in its broadest sense. Giving us time and adventure and life in the here and now. After all, it’s where we always are..

Online University Fair

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Planning to study abroad? You are invited to CollegeWeekLive’s International Students Day Virtual College Fair. This free online event is your chance to text or video chat directly with top universities all across the United States.

When: February 17, 2016 from 4:00AM to 4:00PM EDT

Where:Online at collegeweeklive.com/international (login after you signed up)

Bonus: You will have a chance to win a $5,000 scholarship when you visit 5 college pages during the event!

You could be heading towards 4 years at one of these Universities:

American University Washington College of Law

Baldwin Wallace University

Ball State University

Ball State University- Graduateuate

Bentley University

Bethany Lutheran College

Boston Architectural College

Broward College

Butler Community College

California State University, Northridge

Canisius College

Canisius College – Graduate

Carleton University

Centennial College

Central Connecticut State University

Christopher Newport University

College of DuPage

Columbia College

Community Colleges of Spokane

Concordia University, St. Paul

Cornell University

Durham College

Durham College- Graduate

Eastern Illinois University

Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Michigan University Graduate

Emory University School of Law

Fashion Institute of Technology

Felician University

Florida International University

Florida International University – Graduate

Idaho State University – Graduate

Illinois Central College

Illinois College

Illinois Institute of Technology

Indiana State University

Indiana Tech Graduate

John Cabot University

Lakeland College

Loyola Marymount University

Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

Maryville University

Maryville University Graduate

Memorial University of Newfoundland

Miami Dade College

Miami University of Ohio

Michigan State University – College of Law

Middle Georgia State University

Midway University

New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies

NewSchool of Architecture and Design

North Dakota State University- Graduate

Northeastern University – College of Professional Studies Graduate

Nova Southeastern University – Huizenga Business School Graduate

Oregon State University

Otero Junior College

Pace University

Pace University – Graduate

Pepperdine University

Plymouth State University

Roger Williams University

Ryerson University

Sam Houston State University

Santa Clara University – School of Education & Counseling Psychology Graduate

Santa Rosa Junior College

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Southern Methodist University Lyle School of Engineering Graduate

St. Thomas University

Stockton University

Suffolk University

SUNY, Binghamton University

SUNY, College at Plattsburgh

Syracuse University

Temple University Beasley School of Law

Texas Tech University – Graduateuate School

The University of Arizona

Touro College – Graduateuate School of Technology

Tulane University Law

University of Akron

University of Alberta

University of British Columbia

University of California, Davis

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Riverside

University of Colorado, Denver

University of Colorado, Denver – Graduate

University of Houston

University of Idaho

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

University of Michigan, Flint

University of Minnesota, Duluth

University of Nevada, Las Vegas – Graduateuate College

University of Queensland

University of Rochester

University of San Diego

University of San Diego- Graduate

University of Southern Indiana

University of Tampa

University of Texas, Arlington

University of Texas, Arlington- Graduate

University of Western Sydney

Utah State University

Utica College

Utica College

Virginia Tech

West Chester University

West Chester University Graduate

York College of Pennsylvania

Top ten books from 2015…

One of my favourite books from 2015 also turned up on Daniel Pink’s top ten for the year:

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(My top ten would have included the last Discworld novel from recently deceased Terry Pratchett, The Shepherd’s Crown.)


The rest of his recommendations are below:

Okay, every other “media outlet” is assembling its end-of-year best books list. Why not the Pink newsletter?  Herewith, in alphabetical order by author, the 10 most compelling books I read this year.

The Light of the World: A Memoir
by Elizabeth Alexander
In 1996, Alexander, a well-known poet, met Ficre Ghebreyesus, a chef originally from Eritrea. Within a few weeks, they decided to get married. Within three years, they had two sons. Then in 2012, Ficre dropped dead of a heart attack. Alexander’s account of her grief is riveting. I read nearly the entire book in one sitting.

Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice
by Adam Benforado
Law professor Benforado argues that our legal system is built on assumptions about human behavior that just aren’t true.  Some examples: Eyewitness testimony is utterly unreliable, yet we use it to convict people. Human beings stink at detecting lies, yet jurors think they’re great at it. And, amazingly, false confessions are quite easy to produce. This book deserved way more attention than it received.

Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both
by Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer
You might remember this one from the 4Q4 this duo did for this newsletter. This is a smart, practical book that lives up to its promise to help you become “a better friend and more formidable foe.”

Fates and Furies 
by Lauren Groff
Whenever a book gets as much acclaim as this one — glowing reviews, a National Book Award nomination, even a Presidential endorsement — I become a bit skeptical. But this fast-paced literary novel, which tells the story of a marriage from two contrasting perspectives, deserves every plaudit. It’s gobsmackingly good.

How to Raise An Adult 
by Julie Lythcott-Haims
Another 4Q4 book. Former Stanford Dean of Freshmen Lythcott-Haims aims her howitzer at helicopter parents — and teaches us how to trust our kids.

The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong
by David Orr
You wouldn’t think an book-length dissection of Robert Frost’s “two roads diverged in a yellow wood” poem would be a great read. But Orr’s book is a gem — wise, funny, and insightful.

Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life
by Tom Rath
This slim book packs a massive punch. Rath, who has a string of culture-shifting bestsellers, harvests a trove of science to explain the importance of pursuing meaning, improving your interactions, and taking common-sense steps to boost your energy.

Infamy: The Shocking Story of Japanese American Internment in World War II 
by Richard Reeves
Shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 50 years ago, the U.S. government rounded up more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans and incarcerated them at “relocation centers.” This remains one of the most disgraceful episodes in American history. I read this back in April, but Reeves’s elegantly told tale has new relevance today as some of the very same xenophobia and racism rear their heads again.

The Arab of the Future: 1978 to 1984
by Riad Sattouf
Young Riad has a French mother, a Syrian father, and a head of shockingly blond hair. In this graphic novel he tells the story of his early childhood. Fans of Persepolis will love this one.

The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics
by Barton Swaim
A regular guy leaves academia to become a speechwriter for the Governor of South Carolina. Complications ensue. This chronicle — at once hilarious and sad — is the best book on politics I’ve read in years.