Yesterday we had our first and likely only snow day in London and it was completely magical. I love how quiet snow makes everything, the hustle of the city stops, and time stands completely still. It was such a beautiful and joyful day, unexpectedly providing a much-needed reprieve from the constant state of lockdown. I’ve added a picture below because words don't really do it justice.
I spent much of the day snuggled up with tea, writing, and reflecting on the future of Chief of Stuff - what it means to me and more importantly what it can offer YOU. My goal for Chief of Stuff is to be a delightful, trusted source for all kinds of stuff - useful, funny, educational, and inspirational. I plan on writing at least twice a month, covering a broad range of topics and peppering in conversations with friends. I have some other fun things in the queue including planning the first quarterly “Bored Meeting.” I look forward to sharing more on that and other exciting news very soon! And if you’re new to CoS - Bienvenue! 👋
I was reminded this past week of the incredible power of words. A simple phrase or even a single word can convey so much. As we saw on Wednesday during the Presidential Inauguration, the right words can help us heal.
English is such a practical and utilitarian language. I think that’s why sometimes we struggle to find the right words to articulate a moment or feeling. It’s no surprise that the Inuits were said to have more than 100 words for snow and the Greeks have seven words for love (eros, philia, ludus, storge, philautia, pragma, and agape).
Here are my favorite words that don’t have an English equivalent:
Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese word meaning to find beauty in imperfections. (I came across this book a few years ago and loved the Japanese perspective - check it out here)
Saudade is Portuguese for the feeling of longing for an absent something or someone that you love but might never return (This really encapsulates how I’ve felt during lockdown and then one day a shop around the corner had it on their window)
Commuovere is Italian that means a heartwarming story that moves you to tears. (Basically every dog story out there!)
Guess what new word was just added to the Oxford dictionary? Even it couldn’t escape 2020! 😂 I imagine it rolled its eyes reluctantly, sighed heavily, and was like okay fine, fine I guess I can’t avoid it any longer… I’ll go and become a real word. Welcome adulting! 👏 👏
adulting, n.: “The action or process of becoming, being, or behaving as an adult; (now) esp. the carrying out of the mundane or everyday tasks that are necessary…”
Other new words include on-brand (adj), game day(n), vuvuzela (n), and traffic (adj). How traffic hasn’t made it into the Oxford Dictionary until now is something I’m going to have to investigate further… that really boggles my mind!
If you’re curious about the other words added, the full list is available here. Pick one and try using it in a sentence. I’ll go first: “I can’t wait for my order to arrive so I can give these shelves some zhuzh!”
Netflix just released a brilliant and hilarious new series hosted by Nicolas Cage - History of Swear Words. The first episode covers one of my favorite words, fuck, which can be traced back to the 15th century. I won’t give the rest away, but I found it f**king fascinating!
Also, I didn’t know that you could have a Ph.D. in profanity. Imagine coming home and telling your parents that you were planning on studying the origins of swear words as a career - they’d probably be like WTF!
Speaking of shows and impactful words - did you catch Soul? Pixar’s latest film is remarkable as it examines the very complicated, but important question of purpose. They also released a free Coursera series called “Brillant, Passionate You", which I registered for and am loving!
Many of us came out of 2020 hoping for a totally new, fresh start, and really it hasn’t been the easiest so far. In fact, it’s been pretty intense! I tried, but creating a long list of goals felt unrealistic in the current climate. Instead, one of the first exercises in the Soul Coursera workshop that I did is envisioning and writing down “what your best day looks like.” This helped me focus on what I like to do and hone in on what makes my days enjoyable. Now I try to incorporate those elements into each day, regardless of how hectic things are - and yes, getting a cup of coffee is high on the list!
Another easy practice is picking a single word for the week. This gives yourself a theme to focus on and since it’s a few days - it’s more manageable. As time goes on, you’ll realize that you were able to put your goals into action in a simple, subtle way.
My word for the week? It’s to Laugh. Nope,I’m not kidding!
I spent last week researching some pretty heavy (albeit important) topics, so this week I want to bring more lightheartedness and brevity into my day. Did you know babies laugh, on average, 400 times a day; adults, only 15 (that’s so sad!) This article in Harvard Business Review “Leading with Humor” discusses the importance of adding humor to the workplace, so I’m going to give it a try.
I hope you learn a new word, are inspired by one or are more intentional with how you use your words. You never know the impression you might have, especially if it comes from the heart!
Words matter. Thank you for reading mine.
P.S. The word migration is trending today, up +2600%. Looks like all the chatter about techies leaving SF for Miami is making an impact LOL