Monthly Archives: June 2017

#ShitWordSaturday: Resonate

Whenever someone says “that idea really resonates with me,” I wish I could manifest* that idea and twang them on the head with it, like some kind of tuning fork for the brain.

tuning-fork-1906402_640The bad thing is that I use it myself sometimes; it just slips out, to my utter horror. What’s worse is that no one bats an eyelid. I don’t see people lifting pens to play bullshit bingo in meetings any more (now there’s a game we should revive), which makes it so easy to leave the corporate butchery of words like this unchecked.

Resonate comes from resound – it means to produce a deep, reverberating sound or vibration. These days it’s used to mean something is appealing on a fundamental level: “that really resonates with me.”

Yuk. Maybe it’s my aversion to the idea that we’re all ruled by some kind of mystical vibration (again, see *) or maybe I’m clinging to proper usage too tightly and should let the world’s chief storytelling officers run wild without complaining.

Either way, I’m setting myself a challenge on #ShitWordSaturday: for the coming week, I will not use the word ‘resonate’ (unless I’m talking about sound or some kind of physics-related wave). Are you up for the challenge too? Or is there another word you need to ban from your textual toolkit?

 

* Not really. Manifest is a worrying trend in self-help books (my guilty pleasure) – even more worryingly, the ones written by and aimed at women.

“We just need to want something badly enough and it will manifest,” they say. “Hey girl, just connect to the higher power and manifest yourself that money you deserve.”

What?! Don’t be sucked in by the industry’s latest butchery of the English language. What they’re implying is that these things will materialize. But that’s not how life – or physics – works. (If it did, I would be sitting here cradling a first edition of The Count of Monte Cristo, not You are a Badass.)

Here’s my take: if you want that Ferrari/house/holiday you need to (*shock horror*) WORK FOR IT. Of course some ways of working are smarter than others, but just wishing something will appear from thin air and happy thoughts is not a good strategy. (It does remind me of that episode of Bagpuss when the mice make chocolate biscuits out of butter beans and breadcrumbs, though. Classic.)

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#FavouriteWordFriday: Beleaguered

In our post-truth world (as people have depressingly dubbed it), it’s helpful to be certain of a few things. Author (and so much more) Anne Lamott decided to write down some of the things she’s sure of, and she shared her list of 12 things in a recent TED talk. Before she even launched into the first item, she used a word that caught my attention: beleaguered.

“I hope that my list of things I’m almost positive about might offer some basic operating instructions to anyone who is feeling really overwhelmed or beleaguered,” she said.

I think we’re all feeling a little beleaguered – like we’re having to deal with a lot of problems or a barrage of criticism. Perhaps it’s our constant connection that’s to blame: by being continually updated about the world’s challenges and tragedies, we feel responsible, but because they’re too big for us to solve, we’re left feeling helpless. And while the internet gives us the wonderful opportunity to share our messages with the world, it also exposes us to criticism, ridicule and attack.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 14.25.22The word beleaguered comes from the late 16th century Dutch ‘belegeren’, which meant to camp round (‘be-‘ meaning about and ‘leger’ camp). It’s connected to ‘besieged’, which means being surrounded by military; in modern Dutch, ‘leger’ means army.

So yes, we’re probably all somewhat beleaguered – besieged by an army of internet trolls, troubled by the world’s seemingly insurmountable problems and harassed by our own feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps it’s a word we need to use more often to reflect on these issues that we all too often ignore.

What’s your #FavouriteWordFriday word of the week?


Hands off my notebooks!

I have an obsession with notebooks that’s bordering on unhealthy; I have a shelf dedicated to my (unused) notebooks in the office. I also love backing cool new ideas on Kickstarter and Indiegogo (you should see my computer keyboard that feels like a typewriter!).

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw The Perfect Notebook: the notebook to end all notebooks, one that will make me more productive, happier and healthier, and a better friend, employee, wife and mother.

It’s pretty plain looking, but it has a “modular disc binding system” – you can move pages around in it. I like that; it made me click on the promo video. That’s when it all went wrong.

The video shows a young professional woman struggling to juggle everything in her life: she should be getting more done at work, she should be getting her startup off the ground in her spare time, she should be eating right and going to the gym. She should be better at life.

ThePerfectNotebook-Video

But don’t worry, help is at hand! All she needs to do is switch all her clumsy files and lazy ways for The Perfect Notebook and she’ll be running a marathon and a multi-million dollar business in a matter of weeks. The pages are already printed with the stuff she should be doing, and some space to write her own goals. She just has to get stuff done and tick away.

I’m a productivity tool junkie, so why did this notebook – which technically combines lots of my favourite things – turn me off so quickly? This made me think about all the reasons I love notebooks.

They’re simple.

Get a load of pages and bind them together. It doesn’t matter if it’s lined, squared or plain paper, fixed with staples, glue or thread, bound in leather, fabric or card, the notebook’s core structure is simple. And it works.

They’re multipurpose.

Granted, the first page of my used notebooks almost inevitably spells out all the ways I’m planning to use that notebook to change the world, but by page four it’s usually home to shopping lists, reminders and scribbled down phone numbers.

They’re inspiring.

Some of them are beautiful and all of them make me want to pick up a pencil. They inspire me to write down my ideas and worries, my daydreams and doodles. My notebooks are where my thoughts come together somehow, a meeting place for words and scribbles. They give me the space to be creative and pragmatic all at once.

They’re non-judgmental.

My notebooks don’t tell me I should be working harder, or make me hang my head in shame if I miss a gym session. They just listen to my incessant rambling, which is rather lovely.

 

Even though The Perfect Notebook claims it can make me a better person, I’m sticking firmly with my imperfect notebooks instead. Would you make the switch?