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Graphic Artists Guild

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Seven Years of Brain Pickings — Immeasurable Wisdom

In late October of 2006, Maria Popova, a college student and freelancer at an advertising agency, started sending out a periodic inspirational email. The email included links to an eclectic mix of mind teasing articles, from biomedical research to poetry. The email evolved into a blog which Popova dubbed Brain Pickings. Since then, Brain Pickings has grown to be a creative wellspring, with over 500,000 visitors per month, 150,000 subscribers to its newsletter, and over 395,000 followers of Popova’s Twitter feed. Brain Pickings has also been included in the Library of Congress’ digital archive of historically relevant materials. On the seventh anniversary of Brain Pickings, Popova published an article of what she has learned from the experience. The list amply reflects the wisdom behind Brain Pickings, and provides a framework for building a relevant and productive life. We recommend reading the article in full, but to synopsize:

1) Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.
2) Do nothing for prestige or status or money alone.
3) Be generous.
4) Build pockets of stillness into your life.
5) When people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them.
6) Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.
7) “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” – Debbie Millman

Brain Pickings is ad-free, and Popova derives her primary income from voluntary subscriptions and donations to the site. A “donating = loving” link on the site recommends a subscription level of $7.00 per month. Considering the hundreds of hours of labor every month behind the blog, supporting Popova’s work is worthwhile. Consider it an investment in a creative infusion.

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