Finding joy in surprising places

With a partial lockdown over most of Europe and winter weather coming and going, the outside may feel like a no-go zone to you too. Personally, I have been looking for ways to foster a soothing state and finding joy around me.

To give you a simple example, a few weeks back, for my birthday, I got myself the gift of a 12-month subscription from my favourite bookstore in London, Daunt Books, since visiting the British capital is off the cards for the moment. It is a gift that will keep on giving as every month they pick a title informed by my recorded preferences and ship me a pretty wrapped up parcel. In turn, I get a surprise every few weeks, hopefully, a good read and the satisfaction of supporting one of my favourite retailers.

Inspired by the segment “The kind of story we need right now” from Late Night with Seth Meyers, this week I looked for people who are making me feel better about the world, some famous, others less so. From Andy Hunter, founder of Bookshop.org to Bill Gates, to Brené Brown and Rajesh Ramani.

As I write my posts, I often get pulled into a research rabbit hole and I am never quite sure what will come out when I emerge. Today another surprise: the story that steals the show (for me) is Marcus Rashford’s.

I have been following him since the Spring (not in football terms, let me reassure you) and I am immensely moved by his work and its impact.

This quote from Sean Ingle at the Guardian sums it up perfectly for me:

“[…] When there seems so little hope for a genuine change in society, scrolling Rashford’s timeline has been like mainlining serotonin: the generosity and public-spiritedness leaping from vein to brain.”

In today’s post, I am sharing the businesses and people that have given me joy in recent days and made me feel more connected.

MARCUS RASHFORD & BURBERRY: SOME HEROES DO WEAR CAPES

Burberry, like many other retailers, luxury or otherwise, has suffered a great deal since the start of the pandemic. The fashion house, however, is making a considered effort to help disadvantaged young people, as they announce a partnership with Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford.

The 23-year-old footballer has already been praised by the fashion world when picked by Edward Enninful to cover British Vogue alongside Adwoa Aboah and other vocal activists for its September 2020 cover. For international readers, a little context: during the first lockdown this spring, Rashford petitioned the UK government to donate food to the 1.5M children who qualify for free school meals. Having received free school meals himself as a kid, he was concerned about children missing out on this reliable source of nourishment. While the government initially refused to support the petition thousands of businesses and individuals are now supporting this important initiative and following in his footsteps.

With his partnership, Burberry and Rashford extend help to young people in the UK and abroad, as the luxury brand is providing grants to youth clubs including a couple that the Man U player attended himself as a child.

Rashford also published a very moving letter to his 10-year-old self alongside the announcement, which finishes with: “Please, never go to bed feeling like you don’t have a role to play in this life because, believe me when I tell you, the possibilities are endless.”Meaningful words. Read on at the Guardian.

ONLINE BOOKSTORE RIVALING AMAZON ARRIVES IN THE UK

Described as the “revolutionary moment in the history of bookselling”, Bookshop.org is hailed as the conscious alternative to Amazon. A kind of Farfetch for the literary retail world, the online platform offers general browsing as well as a storefront for each participating store.

The B Corp was created by founder Andy Hunter with the mission to “benefit the public good by contributing to the welfare of the independent literary community”; a mission framed with clear rules stipulating that the business can never be sold to a large retailer, including its arch-nemesis Amazon.

With nearly $8M raised for independent bookstores since January in the USA, the founder rushed to the opportunity to support British booksellers ahead of the holidays.

For a second there, considering this story, my mind veered to Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail”. This may be the David vs Goliath, non-fiction version, for 2020 that you (in the US & the UK) can put your weight behind.

RAJESH RAMANI INVITES US TO BUILD RESILIENT MINDS

Life Enhancement Mentor Rajesh Ramani

Since my first encounter with him, Rajesh Ramani has been a great source of support and inspiration. The ex-Buddhist monk turned life enhancement coach at Kamalaya Wellness Centre in Thailand has now built a curriculum for emotional resilience, something we may all be needing more of this year.

Starting on Sunday, Ramani offers a five-week online seminar with the aim to empower us towards a better mind state: with tactics from growth through change, transforming the power of emotions into impactful and responsible actions at work and at home, win new empowering habits and how to integrate them successfully. Finally acquiring tools to develop a stronger mind and effective mindsets.

Listen to my interview with Rajesh on Out of the Clouds and click through to find out more about to Build a Resilient Mind.

BRENÉ GOES BUDDHIST

What, no woman in this lineup? That’s as surprising as football making it into my weekly musings. Not to worry, I bring you the latest episode of Unlocking Us, Brené Brown’s podcast, where she shares precious advice and practices from social activist and zen Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax in this short solo episode, “Strong backs, soft fronts and wild hearts”, worth a listen.

Also good news, Brown has launched a new podcast, named after her book, “Dare to Lead”. Find out more and listen to it here.

I’d love to hear about where you have found joy and what brings you peace as the noise outside gets ever louder.

This post was originally published in the AVM.Consulting newsletter, which comes out every Wednesday. For more insights into fashion, luxury, design, communications and more, you can visit: https://avm.consulting/

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