February 2016: Spurred on by effective altruism and handwritten notes


Ah February, you seemed to disappear in a haze of busyness and an associated earnest pursuit of outdoor escape to counteract it. A few of the things that have spurred me on through the month have been:

Contemplating this article on ‘effective altruism’, a movement advocating the people ensure that the action, money and time dedicated to making a difference makes the biggest difference possible. I’m not totally on board with all of it, and neither is this article, but it does have five tips on how to genuinely make a difference.

Returning to spoken word poet Sarah Kay’s poem ‘Mrs Ribeiro’. It’s a shout out for educators and learners everywhere.

Whilst I haven’t consciously been contemplating vulnerability in life, I did enjoy the raw honesty of this blog post on ‘When You Can’t Be the Person The Internet Wants You to Be’ and this conversation with researcher Brene Brown on the courage to be vulnerable. I tend to listen to plays, podcasts and playlists – a one-way flow of entertainment and information. It was a refreshing change to listen to a conversation between people, as well as the content itself.

lulworth_cove_february16lulworth_cove_fishing_traps_february16Photography has been a bit of a theme this month too. As well as managing several escapes (with camera in hand) to English countryside (Peak District with family for a weekend, south coast ventures for day trips) I also simultaneously enjoyed and grieved at Chris Packham’s photographs of the impact of litter. They were made all the more poignant by being places that we frequent ourselves.


I took part in a handwritten letter project exchange matching current strangers in the hope that they might become pen friends. Or at least enjoy the giving and receiving of a handwritten letter. I drew such satisfaction from the whole process: the hand-scrawled envelope poking through the letter box, deciding what one-page of information to send to a stranger, the journey to the post office to send my ‘Hello, I exist’ across an ocean. So much more satisfying than a mere click of ‘send’ with a fingertip. I’m not advocating an end to online communications (which I love for their accessibility and democracy) but, perhaps a diversification of our channels. I *may* find myself sending a few more letters after this.

On that note, if you need convincing of the power of writing letters, read here about how letters helped a Challenger shuttle engineer shed 30 years of guilt after that tragic accident. I was struck by the importance not just of the act, but of the actor too. It was not just the receiving of the letters that mattered, but the sender too.


This is part of a monthly series on the things that spur me on to keep going with intentional living. What has spurred you on recently?

2 thoughts on “February 2016: Spurred on by effective altruism and handwritten notes

  1. really enjoying your blog, so thank you for taking the time. This round up struck home with me, not least because you mentioned Brene Brown – I’m doing her on line course on Living Bravely at the moment (it is awesome). Letter writing also got me thinking, and the power of connecting and forgiveness – hadn’t seen that NASA interview before. all very provoking in a good way. I look forward to March news…


    1. Thanks Cathy! Really appreciate the encouragement. The online course sounds interesting. I’m thinking a lot at the moment about not living our lives in isolation, that it needs bravery and vulnerability but the benefits are so work the risks. xx


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