Welcome to my Studio Diaries series! Each week, I share a list of what’s been thought-provoking and inspiring in the books, videos, art, podcasts, etc., that I’ve encountered in the last few days.

Here’s what I’ve loved this week!

Listening: Freakonomics

I have been a fan of the Freakonomics franchise for years—it was the first podcast I ever subscribed to. This week’s episode, Are M.B.A.s to Blame for Wage Stagnation? explores the correlation between business school graduates at the top of organizations and the trend toward falling wages that we have seen in the United States for a significant period. As usual with this show, they bring in voices from both sides of the argument. Although the research posits a curriculum focus in business schools on the bottom line and shareholder value with an instinct for those graduates to cut labor costs when in company leadership positions, I found one of their more nuanced counter-explanations more compelling. While shareholder value is undoubtedly emphasized in business education, some of the more equitable practices taught in business schools today will potentially take decades to be realized in practice, as graduates aren’t hired as CEOs straight out of school. Many of the leaders of fortune 500 companies we see today are graduates of a previous generation of business ethos and education and don’t necessarily embody today’s business values and ideas taught in schools.

Listening: You’re Wrong About

Sarah Marshall is one of my favorite podcast hosts; she is witty, intelligent, and can think on her feet when talking to guests. In this episode of You’re Wrong About, she brings in Amanda Mull from The Atlantic to discuss the history of online shopping and the present-day experience of trying to find what you need. They discuss the ethics of fast fashion, the history of debt (thanks to David Graeber), and the misled romanticization of barter economies. Sarah poignantly describes the contemporary experience of online shopping:

“Like everything we need is at our fingertips…but you can't get what you need because everything is at your fingertips, right? And you're in a giant garbage dump, and somewhere in the garbage dump is like the normal rug that you want, but where could it be?”

Reading: Calypso

David Sedaris is one of my favorite authors of all time. Like watching The Office, Seinfeld, or The Nanny, reading his essays is guaranteed to make me laugh in a timeless way. I have read many of his books and finally picked up a copy of Calypso, which has been on my list for an embarrassing four years. Like always with Sedaris, I was laughing within the first few sentences:

“Though there’s an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age. The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you’ll acquire a guest room.” (Calypso, p. 3)

If you also admire Sedaris’ humor and are a writer yourself, I would also recommend his Storytelling and Humor Masterclass.

Welcome to my Studio Diaries series! Each week, I share a list of what’s been thought-provoking and inspiring in the books, videos, art, podcasts, etc., that I’ve encountered in the last few days.

Here’s what I’ve loved this week!

Reading: Reclaiming Conversation

Reclaiming converstion
Reclaiming Conversation. Photo by Jenn Pavlick Studio

Sociologist and psychologist Sherry Turkle has taken on the immense task of understanding how our world’s focus on digital communication has affected our ability to connect. In Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, she interviews children and adults to understand how they depend on their mobile devices to get them through awkward conversations, interpersonal confrontation, and in-between times of everyday life. I am nearly halfway through the book, so I don’t want to make a full judgment yet, but so far, her view of how technology has negatively impacted our capacity to relate to one another on an intimate level is valid and convincing.

However, I hope that the remainder of the text contains an exploration of some of the positive ways that technology has led to closeness in friendships or relationships, particularly among young people. I am not a wholehearted optimist or pessimist when it comes to social media and technology, and I am hopeful that this book will provide a well-rounded, balanced view that our society can incorporate as technology evolves.

Listening: The Psychology of Money

The Psychology of Money
The Psychology of Money. Photo by Jenn Pavlick Studio

I have been listening to Morgan Housel’s book The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness as an audiobook after seeing it praised by Alex Fasulo—the accomplished freelance writer whose videos initially inspired me to get into freelancing. I am still only partially through the book, and so far, it stands out for not necessarily focusing on the best budgeting strategy, for example, but instead on how managing one’s finances is more about managing one’s behavior—a much more challenging feat. His explanation and examples thus far are illuminating and show the essential convergence of luck and patience in any pursuit. While ideas like luck can often make a method seem out of one’s control, his persistence that we must master our own psychology brings anyone’s goals back within reach.

Doing: Chair DIY Revamp

After being inspired by the Kelly Wearstler Masterclass and Geneva Vanderzeil's DIY projects I wrote about this summer, I picked up a pair of chairs from a nearby flea market. After gathering chair mood boards and solidifying my plan for how to revamp their appearance, I have begun the process of taking them apart and sanding them down to give t

hem a new, fresh finish. Here is the starting photo—stay tuned to see how they turn out!

Chair DIY. Photo by Jenn Pavlick Studio

Chair Mood Board
Chair DIY Mood Board. By Jenn Pavlick Studio

Welcome to my Studio Diaries series! Each week, I share a list of what’s been thought-provoking and inspiring in the books, videos, art, podcasts, etc., that I’ve encountered in the last few days.

Here’s what I’ve loved this week!

Seeing: Beyond Van Gogh

This immersive exhibit brings Vah Gogh’s body of work to life through digital projections. Traveling to cities across the US, the installation features a series of texts about the artist’s life and work, followed by a breathtaking projection room. It is in that enormous room where the exhibit comes alive through a nearly hour-long seamless, digitally projected animation of Van Gogh’s work. The installation is not like a documentary—there isn’t a narrative plot—but more like the experience of being inside an all-encompassing screen saver that tells a sensitive story through the interweaving of brush strokes, paintings, and letters that span one artist’s lifetime. Being in that room was an escape and a chance to dwell in the beauty of Van Gogh’s work and the awe of seeing what digital technology can allow us to experience.

Learning: Hand-lettering

I recently signed up for a trial of SkillShare—an online source of lessons and courses in any skill or topic you could imagine—and completed Gia Graham’s Hand Lettering in Procreate course. I have been thoroughly enjoying digital drawing on my iPad, and in this course, Gia teaches all the fundamentals needed to create beautifully crafted hand-lettered work. The world of typography, fonts, and lettering has many intricate details and rules that one wouldn’t know about without studying graphic design. Check out this typography glossary, filled with terms like ‘spur,’ ‘tail,’ ‘swash,’ ‘teardrop terminal,’ and more. Through the course, she teaches you how to create your first lettering piece. I plan to continue working on this skill, as the process is so pleasant and fulfilling. You can see my first piece from her class project below in the Yoga Nidra section.

Sensing: Yoga Nidra

I recently wrote about an episode of Huberman Lab where he discusses sleep. One well-being practice that Andrew Huberman consistently advocates for is what he calls ‘Non-Sleep Deep Rest,’ or NSDR. This includes a technique called Yoga Nidra, which—I won’t pretend to be an expert—is a type of guided meditation that can help with relaxing and gaining rest for the body and the mind and can be practiced in the middle of the day. I always struggle with a wave of exhaustion in the middle of the afternoon, and as an avid listener of Huberman Lab, I finally started dipping my toes into this practice. It has worked wonders. Unlike other types of meditation, this feels more like a nap but is refreshing rather than disorienting (I am not a napper). I didn’t do much research before starting and therefore have been following the guided meditations on YouTube by Ally Boothroyd, who, to be honest, was the first result of my search. I am still exploring other platforms and practitioners, but having the time to reset and rest each afternoon has infused me with a second round of focus and energy, helping me overcome a mid-day exhaustion problem that I have struggled with for years.

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