Summer under ice, prescriptions for dreamers, and solstice hopes
Well hello! I’m so glad you’re here. If you’re a new subscriber to It’s Not Just You, welcome to the clan. I’m so glad to have you. (More about It’s Not Just You here.) And welcome back 🧡 to the thousands of kind and brilliant readers who’ve come with me from my old home at TIME magazine where I was a columnist and editor. I’ve missed you!
This is a round-up of a few delights I’ve stumbled upon this week. Subscribers will receive the Sunday Essay. And if you love It’s Not Just You, consider supporting it with a paid subscription or sharing! Yours, Susanna
Sweden's IceHotel is north of the Arctic Circle and its suites are temporal works of art, each with a different theme. This year I was taken with Midsummer Night's Dream" which captures a Swedish summer in ice.
In Praise of Hobbies: What if we just let ourselves draw badly or drum with more joy than skill? Not as an aspirational side hustle or to make holiday gifts, just The value of a hobby, write Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen, is not "the product itself, or trying to perfect it. It is in the transportative process, the radical delight of doing something that has no purpose or value other than you like it, because it grabs something indescribable in you and refuses to let go."
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Valerie June's music sustained me this month. She calls her style "organic moonshine roots music," but it's almost uncategorizable. Here’s her new album: "The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers.
I know there is a place for me
Help me to grow that I may living see
A stream that flows
A well no end to find
That holds the key
And stills my chattering mind
"Home Inside” —Valerie June
Last year I wrote about the winter solstice and the advent of vaccines in a TIME column called "When the Earth Turns Toward Hope." Who knew this year would feel so very similar.
"We find ourselves at both a celestial and medical tipping point. The COVID vaccines have arrived at our darkest hour—literally—and they bring with them a tattered satchel of hope. Tuesday's winter solstice is both the longest night of the year and the start of our climb back to the light."
This collection of newly-created words capture emotions we feel but can't quite express, and they’re not necessarily sorrows. Author John Koenig's definitions are short and lovely meditations on memory, longing, and change. A few favorites:
"Xeno, the smallest measurable unit of human connection, typically exchanged between passing strangers—a warm smile, a sympathetic nod, a shared laugh about some odd coincidence—moments that are fleeting and random but still contain powerful emotional nutrients that can alleviate the symptoms of being alone." (Derived from the ancient Greek for stranger or alien.)
"Ozurie, feeling torn between the life you have and the life you want." (Derived from the land of Oz + the prairie.)
bell hooks, the trailblazing Black author, poet, feminist, activist and professor, died December 15 at age 69. She wrote about race, gender and culture, but the consistent thread in her work was love—of the other, and ourselves.
“One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others. There was a time when I felt lousy about my over-forty body, saw myself as too fat, too this, or too that. Yet I fantasized about finding a lover who would give me the gift of being loved as I am. It is silly, isn't it, that I would dream of someone else offering to me the acceptance and affirmation I was withholding from myself. This was a moment when the maxim ‘You can never love anybody if you are unable to love yourself’ made clear sense. And I add, ‘Do not expect to receive the love from someone else you do not give yourself.’” —bell hooks, “All About Love: New Visions”
A Decadent Delight
One escapist fantasy of a conversation about four friends pooling their money and buying a house somewhere lovely, and I’ve fallen into a trove of ex-pat Instagram accounts and I can’t get out. It started with @chateaugudanes where the owners make unctuous cakes and restore a historic French chateau, click if you dare.
One More Thing: Thank you! 🧡
Thank you for visiting this page, for reading, for your kind notes and support for this endeavor. Setting out for the newsletter frontier from my perch as a TIME magazine columnist felt like a wildly irresponsible leap. But your words and your subscriptions, whether paid, free, or founding, sure have sustained me and helped me feel at home here. I’m grateful to know you’re all out there.
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