The Very Best of 2022 (according to me)
I’ve got a confession: I love end-of-year best-of collections.
It reminds me that we shape our tastes, influences, and outputs slowly and cumulatively.
Here are some of mine! In the coming weeks, I might expand on some of these items. But for now…
There are so many podcasts I love. I’ll list some favorite episodes and favorite podcasts in general.
Being Well with Rick and Forrest Hanson
The Being Well podcast, with father/son team Rick and Forrest Hanson, was an incredible discovery this year. They talk about everything psychology, mindfulness, and general well-being (if you couldn’t tell by the name).
In Untangling Ourselves with Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison , the Hansons talk to Zen Buddhist monk Koshin Paley Ellison about how we tangle ourselves and get confused by our pleasures.
“Who succeeds in untangling the tangle?” is a question posed by Ellison both on this podcast and in his book. You won’t get an answer, unfortunately. Nevertheless, Zen monks enjoy making us break our brains to solve the unsolvable.
He categorizes pleasure in two ways: junk pleasure and true pleasure.
Junk pleasure is like junk food; it’s the stuff that adds no nutritional value to our lives, but we consume it anyway. It’s most of my reels/youtube shorts/tik tok feed.
True pleasure is the type of pleasure you can find in the stillness of nature or when you start writing, and your ideas suddenly take off out of nowhere.
Seal on Soda Jerker
While I love this podcast for its golden nuggets on songwriting, this episode with Seal was particularly fascinating.
It could be because Seal has always come off as a mysterious figure to me. His 1994 S/T was a formative album for me. From start to finish, it’s nearly perfect. The album also got me interested in production and ambient-type sounds. Trevor Horn is to thank for that.
Seal goes into some great details about the production of that album (and many others).
Mike Williams on A Productive Conversation with Mike Vardy
I’m a productivity geek. I love new methods, apps, systems, and tools to get my life in order and get things done.
That being said, I rarely get to hear someone talk about productivity in a new way. Cal Newport is great at innovating in this area, as is Vicky Zhao on YouTube.
But many people who talk about productivity view it as a way to get more things done, while I see productivity as getting the right things done and optimizing my life around the things most important to me.
This conversation struck me. To be clear, Mike Williams doesn’t have a brand new take and was a higher-up at the David Allen Co (GTD). But for whatever reason, he simplified a lot of things for me. I immediately bought his book, Doing to Done, a breezy and free-flowing collection of time management/productivity strategies that don’t suck. While I was familiar with many, there were some new ideas.
LIKE! Only processing emails you received yesterday. You know that you have a finite number of emails to process, and you’ll only be a day late in responding most of the time. Brilliant.
The host, Padraig Otuma, reads a poem every episode and dissects it beautifully. This is a show that will make you think and reflect. I always catch every episode. It keeps me centered, and it’s anything but dry.
This Jungian Life
A podcast where three Jungian analysts sit down and discuss everything from a Jungian lens. Genuinely fascinating, if not a little on the academic side.
The Huberman Lab Podcast
Cutting-edge research on nutrition, fitness, meditation, creativity, and more. I like Huberman’s style of explanation, and he seems trustworthy.
On the Reg
Inger and Jason talk weekly about information, work, productivity, etc. I love their chemistry. Inger is a total genius, and I will take any recommendation or strategy she gives me.
Kelly Deutsch interviews various spiritual and scientific leaders to explore contemplation and mysticism. I’ve enjoyed these episodes, and I’ve come to realize that “woo woo” is more scientific than previously thought.
The Informed Life
How did I never hear this podcast before 2022? Jorge Arango interviews information architecture and knowledge management experts. It’s the perfect pairing with the Ahrens/Forte book and apps like Obsidian.
Kelsea Ballerini - Subject to Change
This album made up for the disappointment that was Midnights (my opinion, I do not seek to offend). A perfect little pop-country album with deceivingly profound lyrics. Like if Allie X and Kacey had a baby? Or if Taylor Swift stayed more country than pop.
The 1975 - Being Funny in a Foreign Language
Every time the 1975 release a new album, I am overjoyed. And every single time, they deliver something that feels familiar but is a substantial step up from the last. This is no exception. Probably my most-played album this year. Matty Healy has this way of writing lyrics that I wish I had written, but I don’t know precisely what they mean to him. I do, however, know what they mean to me.
Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
Every Kendrick album is a whole piece, not a collection of songs. He outdoes himself every time, and this one is so hard-hitting that you need to be emotionally stable to listen to it.
Burt Bacharach and Daniel Tashian - Moon Over Wichita (single)
My son listened to this tune with me in the car one day, and halfway through, he said, “Dada, can you please start the song over and tell me the lyrics?”
And so began our new tradition. Now and then, lyrics will catch Dezi’s ear, and since they don’t have lyrics in CD Jackets anymore, I am his verbal captioning service.
Aside from this lovely bonding moment with Dezi, this song is ridiculously powerful. I love Daniel Tashian singing Bacharach even more than I loved Elvis Costello singing Bacharach (their collaboration album was my entryway to Bacharach, really).
Another Michael - Water Pressure (single)
I don’t know what this song is about.
Burnin’ up some CDs for my friends Icin’ up my broken heart again I pretend to say “when.” I wanna know if you can hear my voice Comin’ from the other end
But it reminds me of the early 2000s, both in terms of the music (they’re like a happy Red House Painters) and the lyrics’ themes. I love it.
Charlie Hickey - Nervous at Night
I listened to this album on a long drive from New York to DC (while sick with a stomach bug), and it was the perfect companion. While many of Hickey’s songs sound like the other, I like them all. Planet Without Water is a gorgeous tune (and destined for first-wedding dances everywhere), and Thirteen nearly had me in tears. It’s about a friendship between two boys and how they grew apart.
I know this feeling. Wanting to leave someone behind even though you have history.
I grew up, and you didn’t I guess that it’s fucked up to feel like I’m winnin’ Now you wanna catch up? You gotta be fuckin’ kidding Sorry, I’m busy this weekend
Movies & TV
The White Lotus
Writing a 2022 end-of-year list without mentioning this phenomenal show is hard. Season 1 was great, but Season 2 was a masterpiece.
The overall theme of the show was intimacy vs. isolation. Every character wanted some form of intimacy but was met with various forms of isolation. It made me think a lot about intentionality in our relationships and the self-imposed constraints we put on our relationships to keep things in order/balance.
This was an incredible series for a coach who works with people in career transitions. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say this: if you’ve ever felt confined at your 9-5 desk job, this show may speak to you. It also raises an interesting question about work/life bleed: is it better to integrate our work and personal lives (like answering email at night), or is it better to have a strict separation (leave work in the office)?
Also, the ending left me on the whole edge of my seat. I needed season 2 as severely after that as I do right now.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
I love anything about multiple worlds/time travel, so this was a real treat.
At its core, this feels like a movie about what it’s like to be a parent. Small decisions can create a butterfly effect on the rest of your life and your children’s life.
Parenting is no joke.
I discovered this app two years ago, and it completely stole my heart. And it’s only gotten better.
The only way I can describe this app is that it’s a note-taking app that is brimming with fantastic features that help with learning and connecting neurons in your brain. For instance, I’m writing this blog post in Obsidian to connect different ideas.
There’s also this neat feature called the graph that shows a big chart of all the different connections in your system. It’s cool to see your “second brain” on digital paper.
If I ever need ideas on a particular topic, I’ll go straight to Obsidian and start to follow connections between the different notes. As a result, I have creative/innovative ideas every time.
My task manager of choice. It will always make my list. Of course, I wish it were available outside of the Apple world, but also that’s part of why it’s so good.
Omnifocus does what no other task manager does very well: it filters my tasks down to the most essential stuff. As a result, I can enter hundreds of tasks into it, and by using their “perspectives” feature, I can immediately see the most important work.
It’s got a learning curve, and the curve is worthwhile. If you don’t use Apple (or if Omnifocus frightens you), check out Todoist.
I keep my journal in DayOne (again, Apple only, but other apps are similar on other platforms).
I track everything I do inside this app. It will also show me what I did on this day for the past 20 years (I’ve imported old journal entries from back in 2001).
Also, I can order a physical book of my journal entries at the end of the year.
YNAB (You Need a Budget)
This budgeting app is finally the one that stuck. Instead of telling me how much I spent on specific categories, YNAB allows me to allocate money to items or services I want to purchase. As a result, I feel less stressed about money now that I’ve been using it. Important to note: there’s a learning curve, but it’s worth it (seems to be a theme in my Apps recommendations).
Getting Things Done by David Allen
To no one’s surprise, I re-read GTD for the millionth time this year (twice, actually). Why do I love this book so much? Perhaps I’ll expand on it in a future newsletter, but at its core, this was a book that took me (20 years ago) from being late with everything and forgetting all of my commitments to being one of the most reliable people that I know. When David Allen talks about having a mind like water, he isn’t joking. This also works well with an app like Omnifocus. Few apps work with the GTD system… Omnifocus is one of them.
Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte
While I’m not a megafan of Tiago Forte, I’m glad there is finally a mainstream book on digital knowledge management for the individual. Very much related to the Obsidian app recommendation.
Work Clean by Dan Charnas
I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of Mise en Plase, or putting everything in its place, popularized by chefs. The idea is that to be successful and productive, your workspace matters. Making sure that everything has a place will allow you to get more work done efficiently rather than being constrained by clutter.
How to Take Smart Notes by Sonke Ahrens
I’ve been taking notes incorrectly my whole life. This book showed me how to take small, atomic notes that become interlinked. It explains the concept of a Zetelkasten. Perfect for those who deal with lots of information.
How to Be Everything by Emily Wapnick
I am so happy I found this book. For the longest time, I worried that I hadn’t picked a “path” for my career. I do whatever speaks to me (and I coach people who feel the same way). This book gave me the “permission” I needed to let go of wanting a path. I’m now happily chasing all kinds of butterflies.
Okay, that’s enough for this list. Of course, there’s so much more I enjoyed in 2022, but these are most definitely the highlights.
What media did you consume in 2022 that you will take into 2023?