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Issue #21  // Surviving the Least Wonderful Time of Year ☔

via @andizeisler

From Gill:

January is an objectively miserable month. And I don’t even live in a place where it gets that cold! If you live in a place that has blizzards or four hours of daylight, you are so much tougher than I am, and I applaud you 👏

But still. Every January, I experience the post-holidays, everything-is-gray, always-winter-but-never-Christmas blues. Why is spring so far away? Why is there so little to look forward to in the first part of the year?

I find myself grumbling through mornings even more than usual, and then falling into distraction and procrastination habits that make me feel even worse. Since February is my second least favorite month, I’m trying to break out of this pattern by maintaining two simple habits:

1. Dance in the mornings
2. Walk outside every day (near green things if possible)

I go to a morning Zumba class once or twice a week, and I notice a huge difference in my mood and energy when I do. The same goes for taking a walk – even a short one.

Research backs up the value of these habits. Dance has physical, emotional, cognitive, and social benefits. “Green exercise” (physical activity outdoors) can improve physical and mental health. For more stories and studies on this topic, I highly recommend health psychologist Kelly McGonigal’s new book The Joy of Movement, which is all about the happiness, meaning, and connection we get from moving our bodies.

So I’m making an effort to add doses of dancing and walking into my day, even if I’m just dancing to one song while getting dressed or walking a few minutes to the grocery store.

What’s one thing you can do to boost your mood this time of year?

🎙 Latest Episode: #30 - Balancing Novelty & Familiarity

What blend of novelty and familiarity brings you the most joy? We talk about research behind this topic and some of our own tendencies, plus share a few tips on how to get the most out of new and repeat experiences.

👉 Steal This Tip: Look for new insights in repeat experiences.

Just because you’ve done something before doesn’t mean you’ve experienced all it has to offer. Practice mindfulness, and search for the things you didn’t see the first time around.


Episode #16: Breaking Through Limiting Beliefs🎙

The beliefs we have about our capabilities aren’t actually facts, and they can often hold us back from change and new possibilities for ourselves. We discuss our own limiting beliefs and how to replace a fixed mindset with a growth mindset.

Listen to the episode.

😄 Things We Text Each Other

From Melia: Life with Avery at the moment 😩

😍 Stuff We Love Right Now

On the Interwebs  🖥

From Melia:

  • The Best Thing to Come Out of the Cats Movie
    You know that Cats is going to air on Mystery Science Theater 3000 one of these days, but before it does, there are Rowdy Screenings happening at L.A.’s Alamo Drafthouse with cocktails and audience participation. I would absolutely pay for this Rocky Horror Picture Show-like experience and will probably do a home theater version once it’s available for streaming.

From Gill:

  • Small Changes Add Up
    The Healthyish Guide to Eating for the Planet...Without Stressing Out
     was exactly what I needed to read this week. It contains easy-to-digest (ha!) info and small steps you can take to shrink your individual climate footprint: “Of course, we can’t actually save the planet via our personal choices alone, even if we all gave up red meat forever. But all the little decisions can at least begin to move the needle in the right direction (and relieve some of our collective agita!), and that’s where this guide comes in.”

On Our Screens & In Our Ears  📺  🎧

From Melia: 

  • Mellow Work Music
    I’m loving the low-key singer-songwriter Rosie Carney, who reminds me a bit of Jewel. It’s good for making those gray-skied days at work cozy rather than gloomy.

  • Two Shows Made in a Lab for Me
    Darren gets big points for finding two new shows that he knew I’d love:

    Flirty Dancing on FOX matches a single person with two suitors, each of whom learns a dance and performs it with the lead on a blind date. They don’t speak a word and see if they have chemistry. I’m a sucker for music, dancing, and love, and this show delivers all three.

    Encore on Disney+ is produced by the fabulous Kristen Bell, who reunites castmates from a high school musical years later to reprise their original performances. It’s poignant and playful and full of second chances (I’m also a sucker for those).

On Our Plates   🍽 

From Melia: 

  • Mom’s Lemon Custard Pie 
    When we have friends to dinner, I think about which dessert sounds good to me and Google that. This weekend it was “lemon custard pie,” and this simple recipe delivered. I balanced out its light and lemony brightness with dollops of whipped cream. You can defrost a frozen pie shell or buy refrigerated pie crust (as I’ve said before, unless you’re a great pastry chef, it’s hard to improve on store-bought pie crust).

From Gill: 

  • Mediterranean Bowls
    I used to think cava was just a delicious sparkling wine. Turns out, CAVA is also a healthy fast food restaurant (kinda like a Mediterranean Chipotle). You start with a base – greens, grains, pita – then add dips, proteins, toppings, and dressings to create the best bowl ever. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law made this on our family vacation last summer with tons of options: meatballs, garbanzos, hummus, feta, veggies, stuffed grape leaves. I tried a version on my own last week with chicken meatballs, roasted veggies, Greek salsa, pickled onions, couscous, and harissa yogurt. So good.

If you like the Semi-Together podcast, why not share the pod with a friend who would enjoy it? You can also become a patron here.  

Until next time! 


Melia & Gill 😘😘

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