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Thursday, July 8, 2021

July 2021: Reflections on Returning


I don't know about you, but I am finding this a rather disorienting time. I am certainly thankful we're not quite as fraught as this time last year (escalating COVID numbers in the US, protests sparked by George Floyd's murder, and a contentious presidential campaign), but things are still complicated and scary. Just checking the news this morning sent chills: a presidential assassination in Haiti, chaos in Afghanistan as the US withdraws troops, rising numbers of bodies found in the condo collapse in Florida. I can chalk up some of the anxiety to the endless 24-hour news cycle, but these are tragedies regardless.

Fun blog post opening, right?! But I cannot try to happy talk my way around what I am hearing. At the same time, I am finding that it all becomes somewhat more manageable if I talk about it with those I trust. This is one of the things I have experienced out of the pandemic -- people are more willing to talk about difficult things more readily. The resources I am listing this month are borne from those conversations and reflections. I hope they prove useful to you too.

The Age of Reopening AnxietySure, there are a TON of articles out there about life post-pandemic. I felt like this one actually had something to say. [Hint: note the new term "cave syndrome."] I especially liked it because it put words to some of the hazy feelings and thoughts I was having. Even better, it's not all gloom and doom. As stated at one point in the piece, "Some individuals’ private lives had benefitted from the slowdown. 'Some people have let themselves discover empty time, and actually inhabit it, and not be pulled into the ever-present temptation to fill it,' he said."

You Can’t Cure Your Employee’s Existential Crisis. But You Can Help. While the previous article addresses more of our personal life challenges as we slowly return from the pandemic, this article is more geared toward the role of leaders and managers in the workplace.

How Do You Ask Good Questions? I suppose this post emerges from a discussion around how to be a good podcast interviewer. But in the spirit of the "I have forgotten how to socialize" dilemma that many are feeling as we return to in-person gatherings, I think this has some good ideas to try out.

What I Am Reading And Listening To. So many different things are occupying my attention right now as I try to process all the crazy going on:


  • Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted. I’m semi-obsessed with this book by Suleika Jaouad. My friend Nancy Rust, a writer, recommended this to me. I read it in about 5 days. You know that feeling, where you are reading it when you brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, make breakfast. The experience got extended when she was interviewed on several of my go-to podcasts and I learned even more. She provides profound insights on mortality, purpose in life, writing, suffering, etc. That has prompted great opportunities for reflection. My favorite interview of her was this one with Tim Ferriss. Fun extra: go to Jaouad's website, theisolationjournals.com, and sign up for their free weekly journaling prompts if you are already a journal keeper or want to get started.
  • Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation. Anne Helen Peterson provides fascinating (and sometimes cranky) insights on the struggles for Millennials and Gen Z as their early education and work experiences bridge the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and the recent pandemic. These younger generations have gotten a bad rap and clears that up real quick. Wow. She also has a newsletter on Substack that is pretty darn interesting.
  • Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet. This was a re-read for me to provide renewed motivation for good "food hygiene" in terms of eating seasonally, organically, and locally.  I first read this book 10 years ago or so, when I first decided to try eating seasonally and organically. "Locally" is mostly possible, but I have some dietary restrictions that sometimes makes that less possible. But Michael Pollan, in "In Defense of Food," taught me how to shop around the edges of a grocery store.
  • The "Sunday Read from the NYTimes." This is a part of The Daily podcast but it's become a regular Sunday habit for me to hear long-form journalism audibly. I recommend this recent episode about the woman who insured we would learn about Van Gogh. Amazing!
  • PBS News Hour. Feels less panicked and less dramatic that standard cable news, who feel like they are trying to stir me up hourly into a frenzy. I listen to the podcast while I'm making dinner and get caught up the latest without getting heartburn. I also occasionally listen to BBC World News to make sure my perspective is not too US-centric.
  • Smartless. 100% silly, guilty pressure. Few podcasts make me laugh out loud, but this is one of them. A fun way to unwind. Favorite episode so far: the interview with Maya Rudolph.


  • Last but not least: Read about a 70 year old woman who was the first woman to thru-hike the
    Appalachian Trail alone -- and she did it in tennis shoes.
    Wow. Who knew? Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself, I can think about Emma Gatewood. Sheesh.





Thanks for reading... stay tuned for updates on more recent podcast interviews (I just recorded two this morning!) and coaching conversations. Reach out to me at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me with questions or feedback.

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