A few things: November 2019

My friend called it “November the last,” which is how I’ll always think of November 30. And now it’s today, and the feisty month of December is less than a day away. Today, then, is a good day to pause, if only for a few minutes and take a personal inventory of sorts. Whatever you had on the list for this year has likely either gotten done or will not get done. If you’re now looking ahead to 2020, I’ve got a tip for planning.

But before any of that, in case you stop reading before the end, a reminder. Today, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is Shop Small Saturday. And yes, “Shop Small Saturday” is a made-up thing (invented by American Express) in the series of post-Thanksgiving made-up things.

Here’s why Shop Small merits thought and action (even if it’s a made-up day, made up by American Express): Every time you buy something from a small, local-owned, independent maker or shop proprietor, you are saving humanity. You are preserving real human-to-human interaction, where a real person will help match you with the wine, or sweater, or piece of art, or fresh lettuce, or handmade cutting board that delights you, and only you. A real person, in a dining room or on a kitchen table, will carefully wrap and pack your item that he or she made, and send it to you with an extra dose of real, human love and gratitude for supporting that small business.

So, if you have any shopping to do this weekend, whether it’s holiday-related or just ordinary shopping, please consider supporting all of the small business and makers around you.

Chipper Things shop small image.jpgThinking About…

A long, long (long) time ago, the company I worked for brought in a motivational speaker. This sounds hum-drum and commonplace, yes? Well, it wasn’t then (a LONG time ago – 30 years, almost).

Back then, in the (blessed) dark ages before YouTube and fitness apps, there were real, actual people who came, in person, to talk to other real people with the sole goal of motivating them. These people, these motivational speakers, were PAID to do this work. And they most often handed out pieces of real paper — without QR codes printed on them —  for the people in the audience to take back to their offices or homes or tiny studio apartments.

So, imagine this room — a small, hotel conference room — where people (people without phones in their pockets!) are sitting in chairs, facing a screen (with an overhead projector), and listening to a man who talks a little, writes words on a sheet of transparency film (that projects on the screen), and then talks some more.

The words he’s writing on the sheet of transparency film are in numbered-list form. The title at the top of the list (and of the presentation)? How to be a High-Performance Person.

Here’s the list, in order:

  1. Handle Change and Challenge Positively
  2. Have a Vision for Growth and Progress – work from document not thought
  3. Be a Dedicated Team Player
  4. Be Intensely Customer Focused: External, Internal, Paternal, Fraternal
  5. Implement Extraordinary People Skills
  6. Internalize Motivation
  7. Project an Image of Excellence
  8. Cherish the Free Enterprise Opportunity

I still have this piece of paper, almost 30 years later. From time to time I pull it out of the file (my file folder labeled “Things to Keep”) and do a little self-check. I’ve kept this (now tattered) piece of paper for all these years because this is about as good, and simple, as it gets. It’s universal, timeless advice.

In particular, I’ve been thinking about the enduring value of writing things down — working from document not thought — even if it’s just scribble on a sticky note that sticks on a desk or computer screen. I’ve been thinking about the value of written plans because those yearly planning worksheets from Ink+Volt that I shared with you last year made a big difference for me in 2019, and I wonder if the same was true for you.

The 2020 planning sheets aren’t available on the Ink+Volt site yet, but if you’re a subscriber to the blog (it’s a good one), then you can get them by email. When they’re available on the site, I’ll share the link.


Busy making and shipping all the holiday things. Also: We got the Christmas decorations up early (like, we were the first ones on our block to get our outside lights up, which has never, ever, not one time ever, ever happened before), so we might actually bake some holiday treats for friends this year, which hasn’t happened in a long, long time.


Squash soup, winter galette, root vegetable tarte tatin (pain in the ass to make, but actually worth it), and salads with fresh lettuce from the farmer’s market. That’s what I’m making these days, more or less.

And speaking of food: “How steaks became manly and salads feminine” is a fascinating read.

On that note, last but not least:


The NYT “10 Best Books of 2019” list included only one that I’d read (Rachel Louise Snyder’s No Visible Bruises) and three that were on my want-to-read list. I’d list those three, but it’s changed since the list was published. Say Nothing, which hadn’t been on my list, suddenly jumped straight to the top on a friend’s recommendation. It’s terrific, and it will lead neatly to the next on my actual list, Kevin Barry’s Night Boat to Tangier, which I’ll read after I finish The Dutch House, which somehow keeps getting pushed aside.

Other, shorter recommendations:

America’s Epidemic of Unkindness

She’s Not Your Rehab

The Mister Rogers No One Saw

The Quiet Protests of Sassy Mom Merch

Grace Paley on the Art of Getting Older (Note: I found this one through Pocket, which is a great source of curated articles, if curated reading lists are a thing you can tolerate)

Here’s a post I wrote for the Kindred Place blog about how we’re incorporating a mindful practice into our work (because the cobbler’s children need shoes, too).

And if you took my advice a few months ago and signed up for Bill Murphy Jr.’s daily email from Inc., and if last week you realized (as I did) that Bill Murphy Jr. is no longer writing that daily email, and if you want to keep following him and his upbeat, interesting perspective on the world, then you can find him at Understandably.com.

OK, November, that’s a wrap.

Actually, P.S.Frozen 2? It’s great. Seriously great. And if you go, make sure you stay until the very, very end of the credits. Like, you might be the last people in the theater, while someone is sweeping up popcorn and you start to feel stupid for still sitting there (this actually happened to us), but it’s totally worth it. Trust me.

P.P.S. Why yes, in our annual Thanksgiving family photo I am elbowing my son, trying to get him to smile; and yes, Bernard is being himself, and my daughter is ignoring him. This is so very much us.


  1. I write down stuff all the time. It’s such a good feeling when you can cross stuff off your list. Plus I can’t remember shxx anymore!
    Great picture ! Love the piggly wiggly shirt Bernard !

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