The wonder of soil

Soil is the literal and metaphorical skin of the Earth. It is the thin layer where rock and life intersect to form the basis of our existence. Whether we realize it or not, soils provide services that make life possible for humans from serving as the medium in which we grow food to regulating our climate.

But soils are more than just the sum of the services they provide us. Soils do not need to do something for humans in order to warrant our appreciation.

Write to learn, not just to communicate

So much of our writing here on Medium and elsewhere is written to communicate something. We write with our audience in mind and work hard to select the perfect turns of phrase to keep our readers reading. In non-fiction we communicate events, facts and theories. In fiction, we communicate emotions, ideas, and opinions. Usually, our writing has the end goal not just of being read but also that our reader learns something.

But what if it didn’t. What if the primary goal of our writing was to learn something ourselves?

This mindful productivity tool has given me my time back

I am a bit of a productivity freak. I obsess over ways that I can optimize my work flow to get more done in less time. I know I’m not the only one.

My job as a scientist requires a lot of deep thinking, writing, and problem solving and is bound by high expectations from colleagues, and mostly myself. All these, coupled with my perfectionist tendencies, can lead to serious bouts of stress.

In the last five years, I have hit this wall of stress head on many times. I have been pummeled with insomnia and daytime jitters that leave me feeling anxious and unproductive.

If you’re like me, you may have found yourself battling the relaxation begets stress paradox. When I am stressed, I know I need to take more time to relax. But, when I spend too much time relaxing, I feel like I am taking away from my productive time. Not getting anything done when I am relaxing can, actually, make me feel more stressed.