For more than two years now, I have sent out an email on Monday mornings, containing a few thoughts of mine, along with links to five things I thought were beautiful. I call it The Hughsletter.
This post recounts how it all happened, but basically, I wanted a medium more intimate than blogging, but more private than social media. I love doing it, and it is my favorite project I am currently working on.
The premise is simple, and is based on a conversation I had with a mentor of mine when I first started doing outreach work among people experiencing homelessness. He told me that I was embarking on work in an ugly world, and that I had to increase my exposure to beautiful things.
“If tomorrow you were going to walk across the desert, tonight you would gorge yourself on water. Well, tomorrow, you will be exposed to tremendous amounts of ugliness, so today you should gorge yourself on beauty, to act as a shield to protect you.”
Over the last ten years, beauty truly has saved me, and given me the resources to go on.
But the thing about beauty and ugliness is this – the ugliness is obvious, but the beauty you often have to look for. It isn’t hidden as much as it is just unseen and unnoticed. But once you begin to look for it, it is everywhere.
People always ask about the details. I began with 35 people on that first email, and these days I have around a thousand subscribers. Earlier this year I upgraded to using Mailchimp after beginning with Tinyletter. I get sent lots of links to things that people think should be included (if you have suggestions, send them to me) and I collect things throughout the week. Then I get up early Monday morning and write the email.
The biggest thing I have learned doing The Hughsletter the last two years has been something it taught me about me: I like projects that require me to do something in regular intervals (like weekly). I like projects that have other people waiting for me to do something. And I like one to one communication (or the illusion of it) more than I do just broadcasting.
All of that went into my decision to start doing a weekly livecast on Sunday nights. It is regular, it is scheduled and it is interactive. All of that means it has a high likelihood of my not losing interest in it, which, if we are honest, is the biggest threat.
It seems that, no matter how much I fight it, I constantly learn more about myself. Often, the hardest part is paying attention to what I learned, though.