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: Finance for the People by Paco De Leon
I first learned about this author and her company, The Hell Yeah Group, in a virtual freelancing seminar I took through The Financial Diet. Paco’s panel talk about approaching finances as a freelancer and self-employed individual was so grounded, wise, and relatable—and her book Finance for the People is the same. Paco’s advice is based in thorough industry knowledge as a finance professional. But her balanced perspective is uniquely infused with a commitment to ethics and awareness of social forces like inequality. Through this book, she offers a practical guide to establishing a well-functioning and healthy financial life for regular people.
The book is almost like therapy, prodding you to answer questions about what you make, what you spend, what you feel like you’re worth, why you are too scared to ask for a raise, and why you may or may not have a good relationship with saving, earning, or spending. With a series of questions and journaling assignments at the end of each chapter, Paco guides readers to unpack their hang-ups about money and develop a seamless and solid plan for living the financial life they want while providing an education in navigating credit, investing, and retirement. I found it especially useful as someone who is self-employed and unable to follow a traditional blueprint for personal finance management. Unlike most books in the finance world, this is written in a relatable, socially aware style that features hand-drawn diagrams, striking metaphors, and intensely creative infographics.
“The first observation I invite you to make is the one universal assumption that we are all weird about money and we must first address how and why we are weird. Addressing this weirdness can give us clarity that prescriptive advice cannot because we’re weird in our own unique ways.” (Finance for the People, p. xiv).
Listening: Huberman Lab Sleep Toolkit
There have been phases in my life when I was under a lot of stress, and my ability to stay asleep has always been the first thing to go. Lately, this hasn’t been as much of an issue for me; nonetheless, this episode of Huberman Lab provided valuable insight because we all have those nights where it just doesn’t go as planned. I always love his way of taking insights from neuroscience and translating them into accessible information that an educated layperson can understand.
He outlines meticulously detailed steps each of us can take to optimize our sleep—to an extent that surpasses what I know I will be able (or want) to integrate into my daily life. Although I imagine if sleep is a significant issue for you, it will be worth it to try every behavior change he proposes. However, there are certainly some recommended practices I intend to start to make my days more alert and nights more restful. Namely, getting natural daylight into my eyes first thing in the morning by spending a few minutes sitting outside. Not only does this help your eyes and brain adjust to a proper cycle, but it also sounds like a great way to begin the day peacefully.
Reading: MacGuffin The Life of Things No. 8
This issue of MacGuffin Magazine was gifted to me by a friend from London and is so incredible. It’s a magazine all about desks and the lives of objects from the perspective of history, design, and culture. The articles bring alive a rich combination of work, architectural, and industrial design theories, emphasizing how our tools and material lives impact our actions, mindset, and output. The articles cover a variety of perspectives, including a history of different desk types, an analysis of the desk in the US President’s Oval Office, diagrams of seating arrangements in talk shows across the world, and an analysis of famous desks seen in movies and cinema. For me, this was a total nerd-out piece—I loved seeing pictures of the inside of editors’ desk drawers, analyses of utopian visions for desks and workspaces like Enzo Mari’s Proposal for Auto Design, the Eirmann Desk, or Superstuido’s Quaderna desk.
In the analysis of desks in films, they articulate the lives of our everyday objects:
“A clear lesson is taught by Antonioni’s L’Eclisse: only when humans have left the film do film objects complete their revolution. Only then are they freed from their practical or metaphorical tasks and able to simply be themselves.” (MacGuffin Issue 8, p. 43)
I love to think of my objects as beings around me, influencing me as much as I do them and imagining that as night falls, they live out their most authentic existence in my absence.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe the magazine is available here in the US, but for more materials about the lives of objects, I would recommend reading Vibrant Matter by Jane Bennett or Object Oriented Ontology by Graham Harman, or listening to a different but playful podcast series, Everything is Alive.
Smelling: P.F. Candle Co.
I’m not a big candle person. I don’t understand when you’re supposed to light them or why, and the risk of triggering my allergies never seems worth it. But I made an exception this week for P.F. Candle Co. as I was drawn to the amber bottle and craft paper packaging.
Granted, it took the items being on sale at a local shop to convince me to make a purchase, but I decided to try two versions of the room and linen spray in both Amber & Moss and Sweet Grapefruit and one candle in the Amber & Moss scent, as well. I have been seeing people on social media with absurdly intricate cleaning practices when it comes to making their beds and cleaning their rooms (including ironing or steaming their sheets, is anyone else seeing this?). Although I know I will never take it that far, I figured I could try using a room spray.
As someone who isn’t a connoisseur in perfumes or scents, it’s hard for me to put words to this, but I’ll try. The Sweet Grapefruit spray is a breath of spring, teen pop air that reminds me of the first body mist I ever bought from The Gap called So Pink,” which was also a grapefruit-based scent. I love it, and I can’t stop spraying it everywhere.
The Amber & Moss scent is more subtle, less feminine, and hints of cologne and fresh air. It smells more sophisticated and less sweet, giving a clean maturity to everything it touches. Playing with scent has given the rooms in my house a new personality and brought pleasure to my tidying routine.