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Harrison Lin is a designer and engineer who hopes to build a kinder, more sustainable future. You can find his work at harrisonlin.com .

5 Questions with Harrison Lin

1. Tell us about a moment you experienced awe.
A little while ago, I went on an impromptu kayak-camping trip in Point Reyes's Tomales Bay with my now-partner. Hundreds of jellyfish floated into the bay, and we were drifting amongst them in the kelp. Some were healthy and pulsing in the depths of the waters, while others had landed on the sandy shores, drying up in the unforgiving sun. I reflected on the ephemerality of a jellyfish's journey. How uncertain, brave, and accepting it must be to move through the ocean like one! I sat there in awe, wondering how I could be as accepting as these jellyfish of my path through the world, uncertain yet ungrasping.

2. What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why?
I adore Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass, and show excerpts to my friends every chance possible. Kimmerer's stories are gifts in the truest sense, drawing from her culture's wisdom to reframe our relationship with the natural world from one of exploitation to one of care. My favorite chapter is one where she speaks of how language fundamentally molds the way we relate with our world. In her native tongue, the world is less so composed of static objects, and more so composed of dynamic actions. To quote Kimmerer, “A bay is a noun only if the water is dead. When bay is a noun, it is defined by humans, trapped between its shores and contained by the word.  But the verb wiikwegamaa - to be a bay... holds the wonder that, for this moment, the living water has decided to shelter itself between these shores, conversing with cedar roots… This is the grammar of animacy.”

3. When you're feeling unfocused or overwhelmed, what questions do you ask yourself to get back into flow?
I struggle with this often. I first focus on my physical and social needs. Am I hydrated? Have I eaten? How's my sleep? Have I gotten fresh air? Have I seen my friends, or talked with family recently? Then I ask questions of the mind, and check in with myself. How, exactly, am I feeling right now? I find that it's useful for me to dwell in this recognition, without judgment. Only then do I ask, why might that be?

4. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
The Zen concept of emptiness has immensely helped me navigate relationships, friendships, and life decisions. Emptiness is "a mode of experience in which you perceive things empty of your usual stories about them." In other words, I try to not apply my own judgments (good or bad) onto events in my life, and allows me to actively decide what judgment I willingly want to make, opting for a compassionate one.

5. Share something you'd like more people to know about you.
My deepest wish is to help enable a world where businesses seek to satisfy peoples’ needs simply and elegantly instead of stoking discontent and desire, where resource regeneration eclipses consumption, and where designers plan every product’s end-of-life. I wish for a future where peoples’ material lives are rich, abundant, intentional, and meaningful without exploiting peoples' wellbeing, polluting the planet’s natural resources, or endangering the survival of other species. How might we reimagine life from a first-principles approach to create spaces and products that sustainably meet fundamental human physiological, psychological, and social needs with self-sufficiency, and net-negative impact?

Aprilynne Alter is an indie maker and content creator based in Denver, CO. You can connect with her on Twitter at twitter.com/AprilynneA .

5 Questions with Aprilynne Alter

1. What are you most looking forward to lately?
The world opening back up again, enabling connection with more people. Through Twitter, I feel like I've finally found my people - the dreamers, the problem solvers, the creators, the indie makers. I can't wait to meet them all in person sometime soon!

2. What is your personal philosophy, in 3 words or less?
"Bias to action" I always bias toward acting on new ideas. If it doesn't work out, I will have at least learnt something I didn't know before. That new learning can then lead me to another newer and potentially more exciting thing.

3. You have a week without WiFi — what are you doing?
I'd roller skate in the mornings and lift at the gym in the afternoons. Beyond that, I'd spend most of my time writing (making progress on my fantasy book series, scripting new YouTube videos, journaling, and brainstorming tweet ideas) and reading (at any one evening, I always have my nose buried in some sort of fantasy novel.)

4. What do you wish more people celebrated?
Quitting! When we start out, we're usually equipped with a vague hypothesis of what we want to do or what makes us happy. As we continue through our professional and personal lives, we encounter new experiences that help upgrade our hypothesis. Quitting either a job or a relationship is usually a taboo topic. But each time we quit, it's an indicator that we've learned so much about ourselves and our goals, or that we've outgrown our last experience - that's something to be celebrated!

5. Authenticity is:
The knowledge of who you are, and the freedom to share yourself with others. As a high self-monitor, I struggled with being authentic for a long time. I became so caught up in how I "ought" to appear that I lost sight of who I actually was when no one else was around. I eventually was able to rediscover myself, and I made the conscious decision to never lose sight of her again.

Dianna Allen is the founder of TERRA, and is passionate about helping others run small businesses. Based in St. Louis, MO.
Issue No.29 · September 16, 2021

5 Questions with Dianna Allen

1. What was your path to where you are right now?
My path all began with my mindset of "effort always equals progress". When I started TERRA, I didn't know how to create home fragrances, but I tried and I learned and I perfected the craft. I then promised myself every day that I would do 1 thing to push my business forward. 1 candle sold then turned into 50 then an order for 1500 landed in my lap, and I've been practicing the same initiatives ever since.

2. What is your go-to mantra?

You can always start over. I am someone who gives 100% on whatever I'm working on. In my situation, it's growing my business –– well, now two businesses! Because at the end of the day, I know that if all else fails, I can still get a job somewhere and make the money I need to make. I truly have nothing to lose other than what could possibly be gained.

3. What advice would you give to your teenage self?
My teenage years were rough, but you could never tell from the outside perspective. And I would tell myself to just keep doing that, keep pushing through all that's happening, and continue to push through whatever comes your way. It will pay off and you will be so happy about the situations you overcame and didn't allow to break you down.

4. What do you most value in your friendships?
I value safe spaces in friendships. All of my friendships are built off of being 100% genuine with each other. This means being able to express myself during the good times and the bad times in life, without judgement. My friends are my safety nets in life. Without someone to simply express my emotions to, I would be mentally unstable.

5. What did you recently change your mind about and why?
I most recently changed my mind about how I feel pressure from others. I often feel pressure from customers, as in, always wanting to be the best that I can for them. This actually brought on a lot of stress for me to constantly feel this way. I've accepted that I never actually changed anything in how I run my business from day 1, and that the pressure is completely in my head... I've now decided it simply does not exist.

Michelle Huang is a creative coder and artist-scientist, currently exploring projects in the intersection of neuroscience and art. She uses EEGs to shorten the feedback loops between research and creation through immersive storytelling. You can find her work at michellekhuang.com.
Issue No.28 · September 9, 2021

5 Questions with Michelle Huang

1. What makes you feel most alive lately?

I feel the most alive and connected when I am inspired, in awe, and in flow. This usually happens during my creative process. Recently, I've found that through adding small constraints, whether through time (finish 1 mini-project within 24 hours), or material (focus on a specific software), I feel fully permissioned to play in the relative liminality. Through seeing these projects to completion, re-writing previously held beliefs of what could be accomplished, makes life feel that much more saturated.

2. How do you integrate mindfulness into your daily routine?
I tend to slot new practices within my schedule in a way that pairs fluidly with my already existing habits / lifestyle. For example, every night before bedtime, I commit myself to at least 1 minute of meditation. This feels natural to me, because I will inevitably go to sleep everyday, and I will pretty much always have at least 60 seconds to spare. The session almost always goes for longer, but the small timeframe minimizes the psychological friction of getting started (which is oftentimes the hardest part).

3. Authenticity is:
Alignment through non-resistance: in short, knowing where Truth is and following it.

4. How do you nurture your creativity?
To break out of existing patterns of thinking, I add variation to my environment; workspaces and tools act as extensions of cognition. So I'll intentionally put myself in the way of inspiration (ie catching the sunrise), invest in new tech, or work out of a different coffee shop. Collaborations with others also allow for a unique way to intersect planes of siloed knowledge / expertise to unlock additional permutations to old ideas. In this regard, I've been doing more of these after a long stint of solo-creation — feel free to reach out if there's any mutual interest :)

5. What’s the one thing you really want to share more of with the world?
I'm excited about amplifying citizen science: allowing for more people, through their experience of art, to become scientists and inquisitors of their own worlds. My mission is to use interactive technology to increase the connectivity of the human psyche, further enable the inner creator and scientist, and of course -- scale wonder each step of the way.

Norman Tran is the "Chief Explanation Officer" at Relating Between the Lines, where he teaches communication skills for healthy personal relationships. For fun, he is a junior jazz pianist, impish improviser, and absolutely an alliteration addict.
Issue No.27 · September 3, 2021

5 Questions with Norman Tran

1. You have a week without WiFi — what are you doing?
Finishing Lulu Miller's "Why Fish Don't Exist," practicing some piano chords & runs by Anomalie, and journaling at a park or beach!

2. The traits I most value in my friendships are:
1. Range: Someone who can move between the profane and profound with me because life is more fun with both depth and silliness!

2. Integrity: Someone who takes ownership of their emotions, behaviors, and life.

3. Curiosity: Someone who has a thirst for understanding themselves, others, and the world at large.

3. What's your best advice for how to deepen your relationships?
Choose Heartbreak over Harmony: Do, say, and face what's needed - even when it's hard.

The people meant to stay will, and the others who aren't will fade away. Painful? Yes. But what task is more worthy than finding the people you want to do life with?

4. A good apology includes:
1. Remorse: "I'm sorry"
2. Ownership: "I see how [action] caused [impact]"
3. Empathetic Perspective-Taking: "And I can imagine how painful it must feel to experience [action]"
4. Remediation: "Going forward, I'm going to [plan] to prevent [impact] from happening again."

5. What I wish more people knew about me is:
Because of my ADHD & giftedness, I have an unfair advantage for visualizing and explaining ideas. Workshop participants have even told me "I wish I could do what you do."But it's not easy being neurodivergent! I hope people know that though what I create might seem impressive, even "effortless," I want to be treated as a human, not a creative spectacle.

Ben Uyeda is a designer behind ZeroEnergy.com and Homemade-modern.com. He's based in Joshua Tree.
Issue No.26 · August 27, 2021

5 Questions with Ben Uyeda

The best conversations start with:
What are you currently most excited about is my favorite question to ask people. It is simple yet open and lets them share something positive that could be as simple as what they are going to have for lunch or as grand as their inspiration or ambitions.

What’s on your nightstand?
Water, a sketchbook, and a "chemical snooze button" 3 days a week I like to get started early and I keep a cold brew coffee, pre-workout, or some ready to drink caffeine like https://taika.co (not a sponsor) right next to bed. When I wake up I down it and then snooze typically another 30 minutes until it hits me and I fire out of bed and right into my to do list.

What’s most important for your mental health?
Sleep and exercise is first but I realized i have productivity dysmorphia which I suspect might be almost as common as body dysmorphia. I work really hard yet often feel as if I am not doing enough. Framing it as a condition i am susceptible to and acknowledging its harmfulness has helped me manage it and relax!  Note: I don't know if productivity dysmorphia is an actual thing but i know so many objectively successful people who seem to regularly feel like they are not being efficient or productive enough despite a wealth of enviable accomplishments. My work life balance is far from ideal but overtly acknowledging my own tendency to lean towards work helps me.

What’s the greatest gift we can give to others?
Curiosity, the effort to pursue it, and the willingness to share what we learn.

What is one of the most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
The consistent investment of time into small design and making experiments has been hugely beneficial. It can be hard to come up with a grand and unique vision all at once and often large projects require investment or support from others.  Small projects where I test out 1 or 2 ideas allow me to take small consistent steps and because I share them online it is easy for me to find collaborators who want to support my larger scale projects.

Samanee Mahbub is a mindset/career coach who helps folks overcome burnout and imposter syndrome to lead a happy, successful, and stress-free career. You can find her work at unstoppablecareers.com.
Issue No.25 · August 19, 2021

5 Questions with Samanee Mahbub

What was your path to where you are right now?
I was an overachiever who kept everyone happy but myself. I rode the train to an Ivy, to banking, and kept chugging until I crashed: mentally, physically, spiritually. I was a shell and I needed to fill myself up. Cue therapy, letting go of perfectionism, and setting healthy boundaries. Now I work less, live more, and help others do the same :)

My go-to ritual to slow down is:
A simple breathing exercise: inhale for 2 counts, exhale for 4 counts. Helps calm the nervous system.

Vulnerability is:
Removing the facade we’ve built for everyone else. It’s letting ourselves and people see us for who we are, not what we do. And it’s loving that person.

What do you do when you feel afraid?
I thank the fear for trying to protect me. Caveman brain after all. And I tell it, things are going to be okay. I’m going to try the thing that scares me, and I might fall on my face. But it's okay. I can get back up and keep going.

Something I wished more people asked me about is:
How the view we adopt for ourselves profoundly affects the way we lead life. From the love we accept, the careers we take on, the leap of faiths we take. Everything comes down to mindset and self-belief. Change that, and you can change anything and everything.

Minh Do is a cofounder, chief innovation officer, and producer based in Los Angeles, CA. You can find him at minhdo.com.
Issue No.24 · August 12, 2021

5 Questions with Minh Do

What was your path to where you are right now?
It's been a series of explorations. I can't sit still and I love to experiment. As a result, that's given me a love of many areas stretching into design, technology, entertainment, editorial, music, and education. Synthesizing them successfully has been the project of my 30's.

My go-to ritual to slow down is:
Meditating, walking, pushups, pull ups, and cuddling my dog. But honestly, playing hardcore video games while watching my favorite TV shows.

Vulnerability is:
Being as deeply honest as you can be with yourself. Allowing people to see your innermost fears and desires.

What do you do when you feel afraid?
Freeze up. Sweat. Mind running. Reset. Take a deep breath. Rinse and repeat. Look deep into myself later with shame, regret, and somehow renewal.

Something I wished more people asked me about is:
What do you think it means to be truly awake?

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