Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit , has been on my reading list for several months. And last week, I was lucky enough to hear Duhigg speak at a conference I attended.

His talk was fascinating. He detailed how we form habits—by basically getting sucked into a “cue > routine > reward” loop that we end up repeating day after day. He also explained how we can break habits, by changing the reward to interrupt the loop. (All of that in detail here.)

But the point that most resonated with me was about willpower. Duhigg mentioned that in children, willpower is the one trait that most corresponds with future success. Willpower, studies have shown, is a greater predictor of success than intelligence, socio-economic background, education, etc. It’s strong stuff.

Over the past year, I’ve been focusing on the power of positivity and optimism. Mainly, how really, truly believing in yourself and your abilities can make things happen. It hasn’t been easy. It’s so much easier to fall back into the old habit of self-doubt.

Now that I know willpower has scientifically been proven to make things happen, I’m going to use that to interrupt that “cue > routine > reward” loop. When I feel self-doubt creeping in, I’m going to remember that the payoff—whatever goal I have in mind—will be realized as long as I keep believing. That will hopefully change my negative thinking habit, for good.

Duhigg also mentioned that habits are easiest to modify during times of change. So if you’re in a period of upheaval, then all the more reason to stay positive. Good things will be coming soon!

believe in yourself a little more

Have you read The Power of Habit? What did you think about it?

(Image via Pen and Paper—first found via my ballet teacher’s Facebook page!)

Thread Art

How gorgeous is this thread art installation? It’s the work of Gabriel Dawe, a Mexico City-born/Dallas-based artist. He’s created numerous pieces like this around the world, but this one, “Plexus no. 19,” at Villa Olmo, in Como, Italy, is my favorite. I love theВ juxtaposition of the delicate threads against the site’s ornate architecture. It’s like catching a glimpse of a rainbow on a sunny day. (Which, by extension, made my day a little sunnier!)

thread art


Gabriel Dawe thread art

(Images via Radiolab)

Ballet, Cats and Other Things

First, Second and Fourth Positions

First, Second and Fourth Positions

Of all the things I came across on the internet this week, this was by far my fave: the Tumblr “Ballet, Cats and Other Things” from New York City Ballet principals Wendy Whelan and Janie Taylor. (Both, whom I’m a huge fan of.) It’s basically the dancers’ arty iPhone snapshots of, well, ballet, cats and some other things. And you know how I feel about ballet and cats. (Is required that if you’re a dancer, you also love small, furry animals?)

It’s cool to get a peek into Whelan and Taylor’s lives—especially the up-close looks at recent NYCB productions, like “Sleeping Beauty,”В “Diamonds”В and “Swan Lake.”

And, of course, the cat photos are pretty irresistible, too. I laughed out loud when I saw the one above with Whelan’s astute caption!

Have a wonderful weekend!

(Image via Ballet, Cats and Other Things)

DIY Globe Pillows

I’m not a crafty person. My sewing skills are limited to stitching ribbons onto my pointe shoes—and even then, I’ve had to undo and resew every pair. But I love these DIY globe pillows, from saltlabs, so much that the idea of sewing them together seems really fun. (You know I’m a sucker for globes and maps!В ) I can see myself curling up with them on my sofa and thinking about where I want to go next!


diy globe pillows

Salt labs also has a number of other DIY pillow kits—I especially like theВ Brazil, Australia and summer constellations. Which one is your fave?

(Images via saltlabs’ Etsy shop)

Firefall at Yosemite National Park


My visits to national parks have been few and far between—my first trip to the Grand Canyon was just a few months ago!—so it was no surprise that I’d never heard of “firefall,” at Yosemite National Park, before today.

For about one week each February, the sunset over Horsetail Fall creates an amazing illusion: It makes it seem like the water is on fire. And each year, hundreds of photogs trek to the park for a chance to capture this “firefall.” Some of the images out there are astounding—it really looks like red-hot lava, and not mere water, is flowing over the cliff!

Have you ever witnessed firefall in person? Or seen anything like it? (Yet another reason to add Yosemite to my list of must-visit places!)

(Photo byВ Jim Wilson via The New York Times)


How Are You Surviving the Long Slog?

countdown to summer

Are you ready for summer yet? I certainly am! Even though I’m a die-hard east coaster, I’m not a huge fan of winter. In fact, I’ve been calling this period, from President’s Day to Memorial Day, “the Long Slog” for most of my adult life. Because that’s pretty much what it feels like!

Here’s why: In NYC, these are the coldest, greyest months. But unlike November and December, there’s no feeling of excitement and anticipation for holidays and all the fun they bring: family time; parties; last-minute, use-up-your-vacation-days trips. Swaddling yourself in tons of layers to leave the house is getting old.В The long, warm days of summer feel pretty far away, right now!

I deal with the Long Slog in various ways. I do a lot of ballet, make plans with friends, schedule a few weekend trips. And sometimes, I just give in to hibernation. I’ve made more dents in my reading list during Long Slogs than at any other time of year. And during one Long Slog, Mal, Peter and I camped out in our living room every weekend and watched all of Lost in its entirety.

How are you surviving the Long Slog? If you have any book, weekend trip or NYC event recommendations, please let me know. I’d love to hear!

What Does Your Manhattan Look Like?

Back in 2009, native New Yorker Becky Cooper walked Manhattan from top to bottom. Along the way, she handed out blank maps of the borough, along with stamped envelopes bearing her address. Her request to recipients: Fill in the map with your experience of Manhattan. Tons of people obliged; weeks later, Cooper was inundated with personalized maps.

She’s compiled the best ones for her book,В Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers, which comes out in April.В This weekend, the NY Times ran an awesome gallery of a few of the maps. It included entries from New Yorker staff writer Patricia Marx (who themed her map around her lost gloves) and the head of the New York Public Library’s map division (whose map pointed out directions to key places in her life). The one below especially amused me—it’s funny how territorial New Yorkers can be, whether intentionally or unintentionally!
migration patterns
If you were given one of those blank maps, how would you have filled it out? (I think I would have highlighted 30 spots, each representing a significant place for each year or my life, numbered accordingly.)

(Image via NY Times )