Avoid Mental Hibernation: Read, Watch, See & Learn

As winter's chill begins to tiptoe into the city, I'm preparing for the inevitable urge to hibernate. For some strange reason, cold weather slows down my brain and tempts me to cuddle up and power down.


Until I'm ready to fully commit to holiday festivities (I'm one of the few who just isn't there yet), a little bit of inspiration is required to keep my brain active. Here are a couple of ways I'm stimulating my cerebral cortex and warding off mental hibernation.

What to Read: 

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

I was late to join the Malcolm Gladwell fan club. But I consider myself a member in good standing none the less. Twice now I've had the pleasure of hearing Gladwell speak. This year at Chicago Ideas Week, Gladwell introduced his latest book David and Goliath. Thankfully I got myself on the library's wait list early enough and I've been tearing through it. He's an entertaining speaker, but as I'm reminded while reading his latest work, he's an even more gifted writer. Gladwell has a way of making anecdotal evidence and straight-up scientific research compelling and entertaining. Plus, let's be honest, I feel smart when I read his stuff. He makes heady concepts accessible. If you're a Gladwell fan David and Goliath will not disappoint. In fact, if you aren't a Gladwell fan David and Goliath won't disappoint.

What to Watch:


Peek behind the scenes of New York City Ballet in a series of six to seven minute documentaries entitled city. ballet. Narrator, executive producer and dance enthusiast Sarah Jessica Parker gives us a glimpse of the world inhabited by this elite group of performers. It's so magical that I gobbled up all twelve episodes in one sitting! Class and performance footage is interspersed with unscripted interviews from the dancers. It's respectful and honest about the challenges dancers face without tarnishing the magic and majesty that is New York City Ballet.

What to See:

Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine

You think there's a lot of food in your house throughout the holiday season? The Art Institute of Chicago's latest exhibition will see your feasts and raise you a gallery or four. Showing now until January 27th, Art and Appetite is a collection of works celebrating the sensory pleasure of food. From still life and genre painting of the mid 18th century to the pop art of the 20th century that blurred lines between consumerism and artistry, this special exhibit is packed with tasty treats. As always, AIC has plenty of special programming related to the exhibit scheduled to whet your appetite. Mark your calendar for one or two of these great events.

What to Learn:

Treehouse: Online Interactive Education

Looking for an excuse to avoid the frigid temps outside but still want to accomplish something edifying? Why not learn a little web design from the comfort of your living room?
At Treehouse we believe that understanding, controlling and communicating with technology is a fundamental skill that everyone should have the opportunity to learn.
Treehouse students learn to build websites, create mobile and web apps, or even how to start a business through a combination of video tutorials, quizzes and code challenges. I'm currently involved in the web design track, but am excited to explore other options in the future. If this sounds like something you might enjoy too and you want to provide me with a scholarship, jump in here.*

How do you avoid Mental Hibernation in the winter months?


*For every person who joins Treehouse using this link, I'll receive 20% off my monthly bill.