Something Good #4
The pleasure of our bodies in motion, the magic of stories, a path of yellow moonlight to bring you safely home.
Hi, I'm Nina Iordanova and this is the 4th edition of Something Good, a newsletter designed for your 🧠, 🖐, and ❤️. Coming your way every two weeks, I hope you find something good here.
[Hi everyone! I previously published Something Good through Good People, but have decided to run it as a personal project. It’s something I put a lot of love, thought, and care into and am so happy to have you here with me! - Nina]
I spent the first 30 minutes of my morning watching dance videos on YouTube as the sun rose.
There’s something so visceral about it.
This balance of power and control, violence and precision, where your whole body is alive in itself. The energy that’s exchanged between partners, simultaneously independent and in perfect trust.
There’s so much joy in moving just for the sake of movement.
That’s one of the things that’s been hitting hardest for me in quarantine and during the winter. Or maybe even just as I get older.
This missing sense of play that’s physical and not intellectual.
I used to dance in high school.
I remember the state of flow you could find, where your body knows how to move and when to move and you just have to get out of your own way. Feeling how strong your muscles are and how they engage, how your body is an instrument you can push and play with.
Everyone is Beautiful and No One is Horny talks about how the way we treat our bodies has changed in the past few decades. From vessels for sport, pleasure, and competition to objects we polish, shine, and present, but never really use.
A body is no longer a holistic system. It is not the vehicle through which we experience joy and pleasure during our brief time in the land of the living. It is not a home to live in and be happy. It, too, is a collection of features: six pack, thigh gap, cum gutters. And these features exist not to make our lives more comfortable, but to increase the value of our assets.
A generation or two ago, it was normal for adults to engage in sports not purely as self-improvement but as an act of leisure. People danced for fun; couples socialized over tennis; kids played stickball for lack of anything else to do. Solitary exercise at the gym also had a social, rather than moral, purpose. People worked out to look hot so they could attract other hot people and fuck them. Whatever the ethos behind it, the ultimate goal was pleasure.
Not so today. Now, we are perfect islands of emotional self-reliance, and it is seen as embarrassing and co-dependent to want to be touched.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D., touches on a similar question in Women Who Run With the Wolves:
There is no “supposed to be” in bodies. The question is not size or shape or years of age, or even having two of everything, for some do not. But the wild issue is, does this body feel, does it have right connection to pleasure, to heart, to soul, to the wild? Does it have happiness, joy? Can it in its own way move, dance, jiggle, sway, thrust? Nothing else matters.
So I’ve been thinking about that, and how we can get more pleasure from our bodies in a way that doesn’t feel like just another self-improvement project.
Where our bodies and the ways we use them can also be ways to connect with each other and ourselves.
For me right now, this is what joy in my body looks like: opening Photo Booth, throwing some good music on, and watching myself dance just for the fun of it.
This caught my eye
🕺 Sven Otten dances neoswing in his bedroom. (2:43). My mom shared this with me a few years ago and I became OBSESSED with how he moves. I spent a few weeks learning some of the basic footwork and now just throw it on to dance to in my living room!
🎂 The Birthday Paradox. How many people do you need to have in a room for there to be a 50% chance of two people sharing the same birthday? Come find out in this interactive experiment!
📚 Monetize your book recommendations while supporting local bookstores. Looking for how to recommend books in a way that supports local bookstores and also pays you commission on every sale? Bookshop is making it possible! They’re currently only in the US, but I’m really digging this alternative to Amazon book links. Super easy way to monetize your great taste in books while helping people shop local!
🥘 Miso-Glazed Eggplant Grain Bowls with Basil. This was quick, simple, and super flavourful to make on a weeknight. GREAT mix of flavours and textures, balancing umami eggplant with fresh basil and crisp cucumbers. The ingredients are fairly common pantry staples with the exception of the white miso paste, which should be available in any well-stocked grocery store near you! 🌿🍆🍚🥒
🎥 The magical science of storytelling | TEDxStockholm. (16:44). How is it possible for you to be so easily tricked by something as simple as a story? Because you are tricked. Well, it all comes down to one core thing and that is emotional investment. The more emotionally invested you are in anything in your life, the less critical and the less objectively observant you become. And the greatest emotional investment of all is falling in love. Author and coach David JP Phillips talks about the power of stories, the chemicals they release in our brains, and how they help us feel more human and connected.
👯♀️ The perfect choreography to Way Down We Go. (1:11). My favourite part is at 0:49 - vicious and beautiful and strong. Watch below 👇
I’ve been looking for new newsletters to subscribe to! Are there any you’d recommend?
Ones that I’ve been enjoying:
Sari Azout’s Check your Pulse (a tech and startups newsletter designed to make you feel human)
Reza Saeedi’s Out of Curiosity (a weekly newsletter promoting ideas to help get 1% better everyday)
Aja Singer’s For The Love (a newsletter about branding, startups, and mission-driven companies aiming to make the world a better place)
Kai Brach’s Dense Discovery (a beautiful weekly email with fresh discoveries at the intersection of technology, design and culture)
What are some of your favourite newsletters in the generalist/lifestyle categories? Shoot me an email back and make my day!
Things my mother taught me
When I first moved into my new place, I caught a cold almost immediately. I just couldn’t warm up no matter how high I turned the thermostat or how many sweaters I put on.
I called my mom to ask if she had any advice, and she suggested one of her top craziest ideas.
A homemade heat pack made out of…
and a sock.
Popular in communist Bulgaria in 1980.
I blatantly refused. I was not going to make this rice-sock heat-pack. I’d rather spend days shivering with a scarf, hat, and a million sweaters on than give in, and I told my mom as much.
First came the WhatsApp messages with instructions on how to make it.
(Take a clean sock. Fill it with rice. Tie it at the top. Microwave it in 30 second increments until it’s warm.)
Then came photos of the different techniques.
(Rice in a sock vs. rice in a bandana, different sock set ups, different bandana set ups.)
And finally, my mom video called me and forced me to make it while she watched.
I spent every waking moment of the next three days with the sock tucked somewhere in my clothes, radiating heat and the comforting smell of warm rice.
The cold passed soon after.
It looks very silly but it makes me think of my mom every time I use it, and how stubborn I can get for no reason at all.
You can definitely try this at home!
Beannacht (audio version)
by John O’Donohue
On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.
And when your eyes
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.
If you’re wondering who’s behind this newsletter:
My name is Nina Iordanova. I am a writer, community builder, and co-founder of Good People. My mission is to create more ways to make us feel like we belong - to ourselves, to each other, and to the world around us.
Follow me on Medium where I write about connection and belonging.
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Thanks for reading and I'll see you in two weeks! 👋