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Tips for Adulthood: How to Prepare a Talk in 5 Minutes

public speaking

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

On occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

We’ve all been there. You’re in a meeting, minding your own business, when your boss suddenly turns to you and says: “I’d like you say something about XXX in 5 mins.” You smile politely and nod. “Sure,” you respond. “No problem.”

Inside, however you’re panicking. You’re always super prepared when you give a talk. You like to have all your ducks in a row. But 5 minutes? What if you say the wrong thing? Or forget to make your key point? Or – worst of all – ramble incoherently?

Worry not. Even with only five minutes to prepare, here are five steps you can take to nail your presentation:

a. Have a plan. Even a skeleton plan is better than none at all. So if someone asks you to speak off the cuff, grab a napkin or a piece of paper and scribble some ideas down. Remember the Boy Scout motto: be prepared.

b. Keep your plan simple. The key is to have a structure. Chronology can work well – i.e., past, present future. Or you can use a mnemonic like TAP, which stands for Thank you (for being here), Appreciate (what you did on project X; fundraiser Y) and Please (stay in touch). You can also tell a story, so long as there is a clear narrative arc with a beginning, middle and end. Whatever you do, observe the Rule of Three. Remember, you won’t remember more than three points and nor will they!

c. Be brief. If I asked you to stand up and give a talk on brain surgery, you’d probably say: 1. It’s difficult. 2. It’s dangerous and 3. I hope I never have to do it. But when you know a subject inside out, you’ll be tempted to tell the audience everything you know. Don’t. Remember: less is more.

d. Practice. Yes, I know. You only have five minutes. So once you’ve sketched out a plan, try to leave yourself at least one minute to run through it. If you’re in a face-to-face meeting, excuse yourself and go into the hallway. If you’re in a conference call, put yourself on mute and shut off your video. If all else fails, run through your structure silently in your head.

e. Have fun. Try to enjoy the talk, even if you’re nervous. Right before you begin, tell yourself a joke or remember a vignette that always makes you laugh. There are lots of reasons to smile when delivering a presentation. Above all, it you will put you – and your audience – at ease.

Note: A shorter version of this post originally appeared on the Clearwater Advisers website.

The Enduring Appeal of the Seven Up! Documentaries

growing up

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

Michael Apted, the enormously talented British director, died last week. Apted had an eclectic career which included a James Bond film, Coal Miner’s Daughter (about the life of Loretta Lynn) and the astounding documentary series, Seven Up!, which is legendary in the UK and beyond.

In his honor, this week I am re-posting a blog I wrote a decade ago about why I thought every parent should show the Seven Up! series to their kids. When I wrote that post, my kids were still young. But my feelings haven’t changed a bit. Here it is:

As a parent, it’s sometimes difficult to know which of life’s hard knocks are appropriate for children to know about and at what age.

I myself came under considerable criticism a few years back when I spoke to my then five year-old daughter about the Holocaust. And I’ve raised more than a few eyebrows (including two of my own) for letting my son read the entire Game of Thrones series when he was ten. (If you want a quick primer on sex, violence and everything short of videotape, do give those books a go…)

But one decision I have not regretted was encouraging our children – now 8 and 11 respectively – to watch the Seven Up! Series with me and my husband.

If you’ve never seen Seven Up!, drop whatever you’re doing and go do so. You won’t be disappointed. The series began as a documentary about childhood in the class-torn Britain of the 1960s, pivoting off of the famous Jesuit aphorism: “Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” The Director, Michael Apted (an assistant on the first film), interviewed 14 seven year-olds from strikingly different backgrounds in England and traced their evolution. His hypothesis was that knowing these kids at the age of seven would give us insight into the “man” (woman/person) in adulthood. He then went on to make a new film every seven years, the most recent installment being 63 up!

As you make your way through these films, you are privy to the remarkable dreams of childhood, the dashed hopes of adulthood, along with the inevitable personal crises, marital difficulties, and economic challenges that invariably accompany the process of growing up.

It’s not all doom and gloom. Sure, there are some pretty depressing stories in here – including about one bright-eyed youngster who proudly announces that he’d like to grow up to become an astronaut, but ends up homeless and mentally unstable. But there are also real rays of hope: kids who look like they’ll fall into drugs and crime but don’t…tough women who really enjoy their lives despite not having a lot of money…and poor little rich girls who look like they’re destined to remain lonely and miserable, but somehow manage to pull it together and lead a happy family life.

In part, my husband and I wanted our kids to see these films because they shine a spot light on some of the gritty truths of adulthood. Equally, however, these movies also teach kids that everything isn’t pre-determined at birth, that happiness isn’t just about having money, and perhaps most importantly of all, that life can be full of surprises. Some of those will be awful and unfortunate, but some will be exhilarating and inspiring.

Sure, I’d love to shield my kids from evil and sorrow in the world. But they will confront them anyway. And I want them to be ready.

How about you? What books/plays/music/films have you shown your kids that offered a glimpse into the realities of being a grown up?

How to Stay Fresh In Your Career

change

Photo by Fabien Bazanegue on Unsplash

There’s an old expression that seasoned college professors like to invoke about teaching: “The first year you get it wrong. The second year you fix it. And the third year you’re bored.”

As I settle into my third year running my communications consultancy, that comment came back to me. While it applies beautifully to teaching, it applies to everything else as well.

Because I love my job, I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure that I never get bored. Here are three ways I keep my job fresh, and you can too:

Keep Adding New Content

I have a lot of colleagues who love to deliver the same material year in, year out. Whether it’s a lecture for students, a sales pitch or a topic for a column or essay, having some pre-set, go-to content frees them up to do other things with their time.

But if you’re someone like me who needs constant change in order to feel alive, the worst thing you can do is to settle into a routine. So even though I frequently give workshops I’ve done before, I always make sure that I’m creating new content alongside them.

Just last month, for example, I developed a new workshop on “virtual presence” – i.e., how to maximize your personal impact in an online meeting or presentation. Preparing that workshop took several days to pull together. But it was also exhilarating. Even with workshops I’ve honed to the point where I’m happy with them, I’ll still change an exercise or an example. It keeps me on my toes.

Learn New Tools

When the Corona Virus first hit – and like every other workshop facilitator I know – I jumped into the digital workshop space with two feet. We had to. It was a classic case of “adapt or die.”

Back then, the learning was mostly around how to get the most out of platforms like Zoom and MS Teams. I still remember practicing “break out rooms” the day before my very first online workshop back in April. My daughter and two of my nieces stepped in as fake participants.

But as time goes on, I’ve gotten more adventurous and have expanded my digital toolkit. I recently incorporated Mural – the visual collaboration app – into a brainstorming exercise for a workshop on project management. In preparing for that workshop, I spent way more time practicing the app than I did refreshing myself on the workshop content. But it was worth it.

I went into the classroom with that tingling feeling of being slightly nervous about how that exercise would pan out. And that’s a *good* thing. I leaned into the material just that little bit more. The students loved the app, and I had another tool under my belt to take forward into other workshops.

Experiment with your portfolio

I’ve talked a lot here about how having a portfolio career suits my personality. But one of the things the pandemic has done is to force me to experiment with the balance within that portfolio.

When the pandemic first hit last spring, nearly all of my work was one to one writing coaching. Universities – a huge part of my client base – were too busy sorting out online learning in their core courses to think about the sort of soft skills workshops I offer. And corporate clients were focused on keeping their staff. They didn’t have any extra money – or headspace – to spend on professional skills development. Fortunately, PhD students – in particular – still needed help writing their dissertations.

But this autumn, that breakdown reversed. Nearly all of my work since September has been group workshops of various sizes. I’m only seeing writing coaching clients occasionally.

Although I didn’t engineer that experiment, I’ve learned a lot from it. I’ve decided that I prefer the current set up. It’s much more cost effective vis a vis my time. And when I do shift to one-to-one coaching – which is far more labor-intensive than running a workshop – it’s an absolute joy.

The lesson I’ve learned from all of this is that for my life as an entrepreneur to work, I need to constantly mix things up.

How about you? How do you stay fresh in your career?

This post originally appeared on Sixty and Me.

New Year’s Resolution: Sign Up To My Newsletter

happy new year

Photo by Carson Arias on Unsplash

As the holidays are upon us, I will be taking 10 days off from this blog come Christmas Eve. So I thought I would take a minute to promote my newsletter, Good Reads for Grownups.

For those of you who are already loyal subscribers, thank you. Your suggestions for “good reads” (or “good listens”) each month are incredibly helpful. I’m also so grateful to those who write in to tell me how much they enjoy the newsletter or who were particularly moved by one of my recommendations. It means a lot to me.

For those who haven’t tried Good Reads, I thought I’d tell you a bit about it. Long-time readers of this blog may remember my weekly Friday Pix column from days gone by. Good reads is essentially a deep-dive version of that column. As I make my way across the internet throughout the month, I set aside articles that really catch my fancy: interesting angles into current events like the 2020 elections…off-beat topics you never thought you were curious about, but can’t resist, like the literal meaning of every country’s name…or fun stuff like 20 words we think we know, but can’t pronounce. At the end of the month, I pull together the best of the best from what I’ve encountered and feature it in the newsletter.

But I’ve also added some new features to the old Friday Pix format. “Research Corner” highlights emerging research, usually in the aging and longevity space. In “Culture Corner,” I single out two books – one fiction, one non-fiction – I’ve particularly enjoyed reading, as well as a favorite podcast and TV show/film. I can’t tell you how much fun I have writing up these mini-reviews.

So if you’ve not yet tried Good Reads, please do give it a go. It’s free! And, hey, if you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe. I won’t mind – I just see the raw numbers! And if you do subscribe, by all means recommend it to friends and followers on social media, if you feel so moved.

OK, that’s the end of this PSA. I wish everyone a splendid and safe holiday season.

See you in 2021…

Tips for Adulthood: Five Ways to Enjoy Lockdown Christmas

jigsaw puzzle
Image: Ross Sneddon via Unsplash

Over on her wonderful blog, Gretchen Rubin is exhorting us all to make this Christmas memorable and special, even if it’s different. She’ll be celebrating by listening to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, buying a white narcissus, and making a graham cracker house.

Here in London, we are just entering “Tier 3” lockdown restrictions as I write this, which means – among other things – no going to restaurants or pubs except for takeout. But even if we were still in Tier 2, my family wasn’t going to be doing much anyway this year. Nor is anyone else.

Taking a page from Gretchen, I thought I’d share five ways I plan to make this holiday season special. These aren’t terribly original, but I hope they serve as inspiration for your own holiday cheer:

1. Read David Sedaris. I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided that if my family of four needs to spend a lot of time indoors over the coming weeks, we’d all better do a lot of reading . My husband and I got our kids several books for Hanukkah this year, including (without consulting one another!) David Sedaris’s new collection of essays, The Best of Me – one for each child! I suspect all four of us will devour that particular book, if for no other reason that no one can send up family life quite like Sedaris. And, let’s face it, we all need a good laugh right now.

2. Watch Love, Actually. On her list, Gretchen recommends watching some holiday films like Miracle on 34th Street or Elf. Personally? I incline more towards Love, Actually, another staple of the Christmas season. I watch it every year, largely because it unites the downright funny – Hugh Grant’s famous dancing scene in #10 Downing Street – along with the deeply touching – the Emma Thompson character weeping as she listens to Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. If you don’t know this film, do have a go, as we say ’round here. Delightful.

3. Do a jigsaw puzzle. When I was young, friends’ parents would phone up my mother and ask what I’d like for my birthday. She always told them to get me “a puzzle or a game.” I resented her for this, because I didn’t *want* a puzzle or a game. Fast forward 50 years and – in yet another sign that I’m turning into my mother – that’s exactly what I want. Jigsaw puzzles – especially large, 500- or 1,000- piece ones – are something everyone can participate in, but on their own time. You don’t have to be together to enjoy it, but, equally, you get to share in that collective sense of accomplishment as the pieces gradually come together.

4.Play a board game. When you’re ready to step away from your book or television set, I also highly recommend playing a board game. Board games are a great way to have “family time” that also entails focus. If you’re into strategy, I’m a big fan of Settlers of Catan – which can last for hours. This year, I got my daughter a new game called Dialect where you build a language. As my family spends half its time together arguing over who’s using which word correctly – (or not) – I felt this might be a good way to while away the days.

5. Drink your favorite tipple. “Tipple” means alcoholic drink and it’s another great British-ism. In the years since I’ve become a lightweight in the drinking department, I’ve become a real connoisseur of low-alcohol beers (which I define as beer with an APV under 4%, but most people classify as under 3%.) I’ve not been drinking too much this autumn as I’ve been busy with work. So I’ve amassed quite a collection in my “liquor cabinet” (which is really just a dimly lit cupboard in my laundry room.) On the principle that it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, bottoms up!

Tell us some of your special plans for this unusual holiday season in the comments section…

Holiday Gift Idea: Buy the New Tim Minchin CD

Tim Minchin
Tim Minchin via Wikimedia Commons

I’m one of those people who daydreams about being interviewed in important news outlets and being asked to rank my “Top 5” this and “Top 10” that. I’ve already shared my song list if I’m ever asked to come onto BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Disks and narrate my life. And if I’m ever asked to list my favorite comedian, I have no doubt whom I’ll pick: the wacky Australian singer/songwriter/comedian/actor Tim Minchin.

I got to thinking about Minchin while scrolling through some old holiday-themed posts on this blog. I was curious to see what sorts of topics I’d written about during holiday seasons past, and came across a post from December, 2010. In it, I recommended that everyone rush out and buy Tim Minchin’s (then) new CD. My husband and I had just gone to see Minchin perform live, and I wanted to shout to the rooftops about him.

For those of you who don’t know Tim Minchin, he’s the guy who wrote the lyrics to the blockbuster show Matilda the Musical, based on the book by Roald Dahl. Until the pandemic hit, this show was still running in London’s West End, and has also toured internationally. He also wrote the music and lyrics to Groundhog Day The Musical, if (gasp) you happened to miss Matilda. (Don’t.)

Matilda put Minchin on the global map, but I first got to know him when he was still up and coming as a song-writing comedian here in the UK, where he got his start. Here’s how I described him back then:

He’s a bare-footed, mascara-wearing, red-haired Australian: funny, irreverent, profane, absurd and just a little bit mad. What I like most about Minchin – apart from his hysterical lyrics – is the unadulterated joy he seems to take from his work. He really looks like he’s having a ball up there on stage, and his enthusiasm is infectious. More importantly, when you watch Minchin perform… you get the sense that this oddball decided early on in life that he wasn’t going to give a toss what other people thought about him. He was going to choose a path – in this case, playing the piano bare-footed – that worked for him. And if he looked and sounded weird, so be it. He would be true to himself.

All of that still holds. But a funny thing happened in the ensuing decade: Tim Minchin grew up. He moved back to Australia with his family. And his latest album – Apart Together – is actually serious. I know this because I heard Minchin interviewed recently on BBC Radio 4.

He’s still funny and odd and irreverent. But he’s also a middle-aged, married Dad. So, for this album, he decided to write about the kinds of topics that confront us all as we age: love, fidelity, and the meaning of success. Some of the songs recount the temptations he’s faced with other women while on tour. These are intermingled with lyrics sharing his disappointment with LA (where he lived for a while).

One critic described the new album as “Randy Newman-esque.” It’s an apt comparison. I love Randy Newman. Newman is also quirky and writes a mix of the the absurd (“Short People“), melded with the serious (“Lost without You“). (And yes, in case you’re wondering, I also listened to a Radio 4 “mastertapes” interview with Randy Newman not long ago. Are you sensing a pattern here?)

I find it deeply comforting when our pop culture icons age alongside us, instead of trying to remain forever young. Bruce Springsteen also comes to mind in this regard.

How about you? Which of your favorite performers have accompanied you as you age?

Tips for Adulthood: Five Great BBC Radio 4 Shows

BBC Broadcasting House

On occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

As someone who’s lived abroad for 14 years, I’ve often wondered what I’d put on my “Top Ten Things I’d Miss” list were I ever to leave the UK. I know what would go on the “Won’t Miss List”: how it gets dark at 4 pm in the winter…the endless chatter about the weather…and the Brits’ peculiar aversion to napkins.

But as we are in the season of giving thanks, it occured to me the other day how enormously grateful I am for the BBC, and in particular, BBC Radio 4. For those not in the know, Radio 4 is *not* the BBC World Service you hear piped into your local National Public Radio station in the US at odd hours during the day. Radio 4 is one of several channels that produces programming for the British domestic audience, and has its own, separate content.

I’ve written before about why everyone should listen to the BBC. This week, I talk about the particular shows I myself have grown to love…and you should too:

1.The Today Programme. The Today Programme is the BBC’s flagship news programme. It runs every morning, from 6-9 am, six days a week. When I first moved here, an American journalist told me “the entire country is riveted to this show from 7-9 am.” I’m not sure if that’s true, but there’s no doubt that this programme anchors much of the national public conversation. The BBC is frequently accused of being too left wing, but on this show, anyway, the presenters are just as rough on the Labour party as they are on the Conservatives. Have a listen to them grill just about anyone and ask yourself if you’ve ever heard anything like it on Morning Edition, where they presenters go out of their way to appear fair and balanced. (And yes, I use that term advisedly.) It’s really refreshing to hear journalists who aren’t afraid to take the gloves off, without devolving into shrill partisanship.

2. Profile. Profile is a 15 minute deep-dive into “the character of an influential figure making news headlines.” Although I don’t listen to this show nearly as religiously as the other four on this list, I’m never disappointed when I tune in. What I appreciate most about this programme – as with so many on the BBC – is its sheer breadth. They cover everyone from Professor Sarah Gilbert – the epidemiologist leading the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine – to actor John Boyega – to Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. I never cease to be fascinated by what I learn in 15 short minutes.

3. Saturday Live. If the tone of Profile is serious and respectful, at the other end of the spectrum we have Saturday Live, a Saturday morning chat show that is irreverant and at times, downright silly. At the beginning of each episode, the hosts pose a random question to their assembled guests, as well as to the listeners. It’s usually something along the lines of “Tell us about an unusual ritual you have” or “Describe a bad experience in a restaurant.” Throughout the next 90 minutes, as they proceed to do in-depth interviews with each of their guests about their careers, they intersperse answers to that question from listeners, along with their own. One of my favorite bits is the “Thank You” segment, where an audience member is taped thanking a stranger for an act of kindness, like coming to their rescuse on a remote motorway or returning a beloved item of lost clothing. Unlike some of the others shows listed here, this one rarely gets A-list guests. But it doesn’t matter. The kookiness of the tone – coupled with the genuine curiosity that the hosts bring to the interviews – makes it a deeply human show that’s often laugh-out-loud funny.

4. Desert Island Disks. This is a super-popular, long-running radio show that’s an unofficial “must do” if you’re anybody who’s anybody. The premise behind Desert Island Disks is quite simple: a guest is invited by the host choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island. It’s effectively a vehicle for getting famous people – whether Bill Gates or Bernardine Evaristo or Lin Manuel Miranda – to narrate their lives through music. Most guests select songs that speak to different parts of their lives: a piece that conjures up their childhood or family…something to capture the time they met their spouse…a tune that speaks to the most creative point in their career or the death of a beloved relative. In one of my occurring fantasies, I am a guest being interviewed on this program. (Hey, we all gotta dream…) Click here for my DID song list.

5. Broadcasting House. If there’s a theme in this list, it’s that – other than the Today Programme – my Radio 4 tastes clearly skew towards its weekend programming. Broadcasting House (BH) is a Sunday morning magazine programme where a panel of diverse guests – not all of whom are politicians – chew over the week’s news. I can’t exactly pinpoint why I love this show so much. A lot of it has to do with the host, Paddy O’Connell. Like most presenters on Radio 4, he combines erudition with a bit of cheek. My favorite bit is where he invites each of the guests is invited to choose a news story they found particularly noteworthy from the past week. They almost never pick the obvious ones, so you end up learning something you didn’t know about what’s going on in the country. Never miss it.

Do you have a favorite radio programme, BBC or other? Tell us why you like it in the comments section.

Tips for Adulthood: Five Innovative Trends in Aging

aging

Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

On occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

For the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of attending The Longevity Forum’s annual conference in November. The event brings together leading figures from the academic, investment and non-profit sectors to think about how enable people to live longer, healthier and more fulfilled lives. This year, the conference was held virtually and spanned an entire “longevity week.” Here are five things I learned about innovative trends in aging:

Read the rest of this post over on the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing blog

Dreams of My Mother

suitcase

Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

I had a vivid dream the other night. I was preparing to teach a class, but I couldn’t find my notes. As the time for the class drew nearer, I got increasingly stressed that I’d lost my window to prepare.

The Interpretation of dreams

In and of itself, that dream isn’t all that unusual. I constantly have dreams that I’m taking tests I’ve not studied for, or have been cast in plays for which I haven’t learned the lines.

But in this particular dream, my notes were buried in a large suitcase filled with my late mother’s belongings. And every time I tossed out one item – her old raincoat, a set of sheets, a painting – another item would appear.

As the class I was meant to be teaching got closer and closer, more and more things from my mother’s past appeared. It got to the point where I couldn’t empty the suitcase quickly enough. I never found my notes, I missed my teaching deadline, and I had to cancel the class.

Avoiding Sadness

I’m a big believer that bad dreams can be good for you. So I knew that this dream was trying to tell me something. After my mother passed away in June, I went back home to the States and emptied her apartment. But why was I dreaming about that now?

When I described the dream to my husband, he said, “It’s obvious. You’ve been working really hard lately. And you’re using work to stave off sadness about your mother’s death.”

He had a point. No sooner had I managed to achieve a modicum of balance in my work-life this summer, a tsunami of work hit in early September that has yet to abate. I’ve long used busyness as a tool for staving off all sorts of negative feelings and anxieties, so why not sadness over my mother’s passing?

You can’t box grief

But I think there’s something else going on in this dream as well. As we edge towards the six month mark of my mother’s death, I’ve begun to worry: Will I forget her? A lot of this has to do with the fact that – because of the pandemic – we’ve still not managed to have a proper memorial service to celebrate her life.

Back in June when she died, my siblings and I optimistically thought we might manage a service by Christmas. Then, Easter. But with the latest news reports around vaccines, I’m now thinking it will realistically be next summer, earliest.

And because of this delay, I’ve found myself wondering lately if maybe we shouldn’t opt for an online memorial service, as so many others have done. I raised this with one of my brothers the other day, who instantly killed the idea. He’d like to do it in person. And in talking it through with him, I realized that I would too.

What I came to realize was that planning the Zoom funeral was my way of ensuring that I didn’t forget her. But as my dream reminds me: I don’t need a funeral to remember my mother. She’s already here. Pictures of her are strewn across my house. I wear her jewelry and read her books. And if I ever get so busy that I stop processing those reminders, she will come back to me in my dreams, to remind me that she’s still here.

So perhaps the dream was a reminder that you can’t box grief. You can try to set it aside, but it will always pop back up – Mary Poppins like.

Thank Goodness.

This post originally appeared on Sixty and Me.

Tips for Adulthood: Five Reasons to Keep Walking

walking autumn
Image: Photo by Sébastien Goldberg on Unsplash

On occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

As we in the UK enter our second lockdown, I am revisiting some of the coping strategies I developed during the first lockdown. In addition to cooking more and doing micro workouts, I’ve returned to my daily walks with a vengeance.

Even if you’re not currently in lockdown, here are 5 reasons to keep walking as you age:

1.Walking spurs creativity. Research suggests a link between walking and creativity (There’s even a brainstorming technique called brainwalking. Can’t wait to try it!) But walking also teaches you how to be an observant student of other people. Writer and long-time public radio host Garrison Keillor once wrote that “A long walk also brings you into contact with the world…It isn’t about you and your feelings, so much as about what people wear and how they talk. The superficial is never to be overlooked.” Simply put, when you go outside you notice things. And, as the late, great Nora Ephron put it, “Everything is copy.”

2. Walking keeps your brain sharp. Walking also increases concentration and energy levels. One study suggested that walking three times a week over six months led to improved reaction times for those suffering from vascular dementia. Walking is also thought to have a positive effect on memory and problem-solving skills for children under 18.

3.Walking is good for your mental health. New research in the journal Emotion suggests that taking “awe walks” – i.e. walks that involve both physical vastness and novelty – can significantly boost positive emotions, especially among older adults. Participants in this study reported feeling more socially connected, more grateful, more compassionate, and more joyful. And this boost in “pro-social emotions” carried through into everyday life.

4. Walking lets you discover your neighborhood. My New Year’s Resolution to “walk without purpose” has borne fruit. During the first lockdown, I took long walks around parts of my neighborhood I’d never visited before. I discovered streets with names like “Malcolm X Way” and “Pablo Neruda Close.” I saw hand-made tributes to the British National Health Service (NHS) in people’s windows. I even found a new coffee joint and developed an adult crush on the 27 year old Russian-Canadian barista.

5. Walking gives you time for podcasts. As someone who came to podcasts belatedly, walking has been my friend. Because I don’t own a car – and because I’m not currently commuting – I now have more time than ever before to sample a range of podcasts. This is great for my newsletter – (I recommend one podcast a month) – and it’s great for me. I can stay across everything from US politics to new forms of storytelling to helpful writing tips. It’s been a huge boon to my life.

How about you? Do you walk more now? What does walking do for you?