"I was waiting for something extraordinary to happen, but as the years wasted on nothing ever did unless I caused it." – Charles Bukowski

I don't really know birds, but ran across these yesterday while walking around my yard. 

Good morning!

I am Hugh Hollowell, and this is Life is So Beautiful, a newsletter about finding the beautiful when it's hard to - and maybe especially when it's hard to.

As a person who lives with ADHD (note I don’t “suffer” from ADHD, any more than you suffer from being left handed or having red hair), which is literally a deficit of attention, I find anything that increases my mindfulness is helpful.

After all, that is why I started this newsletter – I wanted to be forced to seek out things that I thought were beautiful. That is the reason I do it every Monday – because if I did it when I thought about it, I would have sent 3 emails over the last six years, instead of more than 250. It’s also why I have things like, “Text Brian” show up as calendar reminders, because while I love my friends, if they are not in front of me, I often don’t think about them. These are examples of coping mechanisms.

When I am not getting the results I want in a given area of my life, it is almost always because of a deficit of attention on my part, and then I search for ways to be mindful and attentive to that thing. Over the last 30 years, my weight has moved up and down within a 50-pound range, depending on how active I am and how busy I am. Like many of you, I haven’t been all that active or busy during the last year, and so my pants got snugger and my weight crept up.

My family has a history of high blood pressure and diabetes, so I really should pay more attention to what I eat, and how much I eat. But, I really haven’t – mostly because of the deficit of attention thing. So, I developed a coping mechanism: I now log all my food.

That’s it. I use an app (I use MyFitnessPal, but it really doesn’t matter which one you use) and I enter my food that I eat. I bought a scale (I use this one, but again, it doesn’t matter) and started measuring what I eat. I now have to read labels and pay attention to serving sizes and over the last month of doing that, I feel like my relationship with food has dramatically changed. The logging was a pain in the ass at first, but it is now just a thing I do, like brushing my teeth or putting on pants. I maybe spend 10 minutes a day on this activity.

And because someone will ask, I am down 7 pounds over the last month, but the main thing is that I feel better, because I have control of an area of my life where I have felt out of control for so long. I have hesitated to write much about this, because diet culture and scammy weight loss schemes and patriarchal beauty ideals are all a thing, and the ways we have been talked to about our weight and body shape are often toxic.

But I decided to include it here, because one of my goals here is to encourage you to pay attention to the world around you, and this is one way I have done just that.

Five Beautiful Things

  • In London, there is a wall 2 meters (about six feet) high near Parliament covered in 15,000 red hearts, with more being added, to serve as a memorial to those in the UK who have died from COVID. This is so lovely.
  • Sculpture from the tip of a pencil, on a grain of rice, on a lentil, in the eye of a needle. This is fascinating to me, and the level of detail is astonishing.
  • Radio Garden is a map of the world. On this map is green dots in various places, and should you click on the dot, you can listen to the radio station being played in that market, and the reception is great! I got lost listening to random stations in Europe and Africa. They also have an app for your smartphone.
  • This 5-minute video is an 18 day time-lapse of an erupting volcano in Iceland. The nighttime scenes are spectacular!
  • A while back I shared an “earthrise” video, but it was poorly edited and over-narrated. Here is some of the same footage, but much better done. Around 5 minutes in, the eclipse of the sun is like nothing I have ever seen before.  


I have mentioned before that the public library here in Jackson leaves much to be desired, so I ended up using it not at all. I have also mentioned that as a result, I got a card from the Brooklyn Public Library, where anyone with a pulse and $50 a year can get a library card. That gives you access to lots of databases, e-subscriptions to magazines and newspapers, and hundreds of thousands of ebooks and audio books.

The upside of this is I am reading fiction like I haven’t in years. Here we are in the middle of April, and I have read more than 50 books so far this year – for fun! And it has cost me exactly $50, or roughly 1.75 hardcover books. If you aren’t reading enough, I recommend you check it out. I recently discovered the mystery fiction of Ann Cleeves, which hits one of my happiness triggers (UK village mysteries), but I wouldn't have risked spending the money on a new book by an author I wasn't sure I would have liked. 

* * *

Well, that is it for this week. I hope you have a great week, and that your life is filled with beautiful things. If you see something beautiful this week, I hope you will let me know about it, and if one of my five I shared today struck you in a special way, I hope you will let me know about that, too.

The best way to support my work is to become a patron. The second best way is to forward this email to someone you think might like it. 

Take care of yourself. And each other. 

Hugh Hollowell Jr

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