A pretty place for a (not-so-)still mind!

Hello! I just got out of a seven-day silent meditation retreat!

If you haven’t dropped off already (!) for fear I’m going to either be all zen or try to convert you, I imagine you’re thinking something like: I can’t do that meditation crap for seven minutes, never mind seven days.

I anticipated you might think that, so thanks to just-launched machinery (the pandemic has really accelerated technological innovation!), I recorded one of my meditation sessions so that you could see just how it’s done. That’s right, I’ve got a transcript of what actually happened inside my brain! …

The new ‘commute’ and why it’s critical to our wellbeing — and success — at work.

In the waning days of March, mere moments (though perhaps it was days, who can really say anymore) after the shelter-in-place mandate began, I was gripped with a haziness in my brain. As I worked, it felt like I had to pull thoughts out through the morning mist over a lake: I knew they were there, but I couldn’t grasp them.

Panicked, I sent out a bat-signal to my fellow designers: join me for a daily creative collisions standup before work.

As you might recall, in early spring, we were not just working from home, we were working from home…

San Francisco, March 2020

Author’s note: I originally drafted this article in early June, right before the rising civil rights movement. It then felt like the wrong moment to publish it. But today, as AirBnB goes public, I find it worth revisiting.

In San Francisco, March 8, 2020 was the kind of early spring day that made people want to flock to the parks, linger with friends, consume piles of food foraged from local shops, and wait in line at Bi-Rite for ice cream cones they could consume at just the right pace because the temperature was that breezy, balmy shade of in-between that…

The author’s to do list for the day after the US election, November 4, 2020.

Given the election results are still pending and it can be easy to be overwhelmed / distracted / distraught by that, I thought I’d share a few things that I’ll be doing today to keep myself feeling good (erm, as good as I can in this heightened uncertainty), and why they’ll help me feel okay as the day goes on.

  • Keeping my expectations of myself / my productivity low — there’s something kind about setting gentle expectations for ourselves. It becomes easier to benefit from a sense of accomplishment in a way we don’t if expectations are higher. That’s where…

Photo courtesy of Elysa Fenenbock

Artist Elysa Fenenbock is on number 44 of a 100-day make-meditation. She’s foraging for wildflowers or dropped petals in and around her neighborhood, and turning them into deconstructed portraits.

And designer Silvia Vergani is using flowers in an entirely different way, turning their petals into paint for her toddler’s art projects.

Finding ourselves without access to stores and not venturing far from our homes, we’ve started to take a second look at what is all around us. In fact, finding new uses for things we have access to is one of the most beautiful outputs of constrained times. …

A newly budding peony, showing us all the way on breaking through

“Sometimes it takes an overwhelming breakdown to have an undeniable breakthrough.”

So said ‘anonymous,’ and then, on Tuesday, my yoga teacher.

Folks, in case you hadn’t noticed (perhaps you’ve just come back from a silent meditation or, nope, there’s no other reason you’d have missed this) we’re in the middle of an overwhelming breakdown.

While most of the internet is articulating just how fast and how deep this breakdown is going to be, I thought it’d be more interesting to spend a moment on all the incredible breakthroughs we’re seeing and will see.

Because, this moment is MASSIVE. In terms…

My local hardware store’s curbside pickup system

What do you get for a one-year old who has all she needs, in the middle of a pandemic? As my niece’s first birthday approached, I found myself asking this question. I didn’t want to get her more clothes, toys or books, because she has plenty. I did want to support our local businesses. As the warm days are arriving, and as we are reviving the simple pleasures from our own childhoods due to the pandemic, I had an idea: a sprinkler for her and her older brother to splash around in!

Idea firmly rooted, I placed a call to…

If you’re like me, seeing this form arrive in the mail and noting it’s yet again a leap year (and therefore a presidential election year) leaves you with a certain feeling of… well, as un-civic as it is, dread. It feels like in these years, we lose a little bit (or a hell of a lot) of our humanity.

I lived overseas for 12 years. In that time, I missed two US presidential election cycles. Don’t get me wrong, I voted, but I escaped the utter torture that election year has become. …

Grapes, one of many fruits used for New Year’s rituals

“Gather round, everyone. Can you all see?!”

The dozen or so of us all squeezed into the vestibule at the top of the third flight of stairs, outside the door to our office. Our managing director made her way to the front of the pack, pineapple in hand. As we all peered on, she dropped it to the floor and rolled it across the threshold into the office.

It was Chinese New Year 2014, and we’d just completed the Singaporean tradition of the pineapple roll.


The thing about experiencing a new ritual as an adult is you often see…

Singapore Skyline, New Year’s Eve

This past summer, I spent way too many days combing through my home, evaluating each thing I owned. Sometimes, I would hold an item in my hand and ask myself if it sparked joy. Mostly though, I’d look at a cherished book stored in a closet or a once-favorite shirt I’d not worn in years and simply slip it into the Goodwill box.

By autumn, my house was consistently cleaner and neater: everything had a place and a purpose, so messes didn’t pile up. I felt less cluttered: not only my house, but me.

I’m not alone. The Marie Kondo…

Amy Bonsall

I help companies weave in kindness, creativity and humanity using human-centered design. Founder of Nau (www.inthenau.com) and Creative Collisions, IDEO alumna.

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