I don’t subscribe to a lot of newsletters, but there are a select few I not only enjoy receiving but actually read. Generally those are the ones in which the author shares a curated list of things they found particularly interesting on the assumption that if they find something interesting, their readers might too. And I invariably do!
So I’m “stealing like an artist”, as the brilliant writer and artist Austin Kleon would put it, and creating my own newsletter containing things I find particularly interesting. I’ve dubbed it my Compendium of Delight, because I like the word “compendium” (it makes me think of a slightly dog-eared journal stuffed with cuttings and papers and snippets of collected wisdom), and I love to share things that delight me. I hope they’ll delight you too – maybe even enough to subscribe to this newsletter!
And if you’re worried about adding more weight to your already-full inbox, fear not. I’m not trying to keep to a weekly or even bi-weekly schedule. Delivery will be charmingly irregular. Kind of like Canada Post, only (hopefully) more amusing. So without further ado…
1) I’ve finally gotten over my writer’s block enough to crank out the first blog post of my new website! Which is actually my old website, with a total makeover. I thought I was going to write a piece about my winter garden, but what came out was something else entirely. So I went with where my pen led me, and that felt right, given the ch-ch-ch-changes I’ve gone through in the past couple of years.
2) The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings) is the OG of curated delight. Its creator, Maria Popova, started it in 2006 as an email to a few friends containing things she found too interesting, inspiring or wondrous to keep to herself. Over the years, her “ledger of curiosity” expanded into a website and then a weekly newsletter whose audience has grown into the millions, including me. The Marginalian is the very model of a compendium of delight. Check out her site and see for yourself.
3) I’m one of those people who usually has several books going on at once, and the most baffling question you can ask me is “What is your favourite book?” I mean, seriously?? How am I supposed to choose? I do have favourites in the plural, though, and I’ll share lots of them with you over time. For starters, let me give you a slim volume called Improv Wisdom, by Patricia Ryan Madson, which reminds us that life is improvisation and guides us through a series of improv maxims that will help us improvise our lives more skillfully, joyfully, and delightfully. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this book changed my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but it did.
4) I’m a big fan of Gemma Correll, an illustrator and cartoonist who delights with her honest-yet-witty explorations of mental health issues as well as the everyday anxieties that beset us all from time to time. For example, who has not felt like this at least once? (Or – let’s be honest – at least once a day?) And I, for one, would welcome seeing these “more realistic self-help books” in an airport bookstore.
5) People who see beauty where the rest of us see brokenness are huge sources of inspiration for me. Check out “the pavement surgeon” and just imagine finding one of these sidewalk gems on your local street. (See also kintsugi.)
6) Music time! I plan to create a themed music playlist for each newsletter, starting with this one. It’s all about friends and it goes with my blog post, a connection you’ll understand if you read the post. But even if you don’t read the post, I hope you’ll enjoy the music!
7) I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from one of my favourite wise women, Rachel Naomi Remen: “Perhaps the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.” That is just wow on so many levels.
8) A photo for you from my camera (click on the image to see it larger).