I’m busy. I have a demanding job working for 18F (yes, that’s part of President’s Obama’s “stealth startup”), which requires juggling numerous projects and frequent travel. Newsflash in 2015: We’re all busy. With the hectic pace of life, work, technology, media and the world in general, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just really need to hit pause. And when I do, I find my peace on Instagram.
I’m not talking about squad envy or like-mongering or that thing where Facebook makes us feel more lonely. I’m talking (with a nod to Jon Stewart) about micro-moments of Zen — a quick hit of joy and repose amid the chaos.
These little pockets of delight can come from friends and family, obviously, but I also follow a few accounts at arms-length specifically for this purpose, whether it’s because they make me smile, make me think, or just blow me away with their beauty and grace.
The Art of Plating (@theartofplating)
Strawberry mousse tart, pulled sugar peas, rolled white chocolate ganache and pea dust & cream by @sweetfable #TheArtOfPlating. Source.
Since we’re talking about Instagram, here’s the obligatory food account. I love cooking, but, more specifically, I love the preparation and the plating. Chopping, slicing and putting the bits into little bowls before I begin cooking puts me in a zone. Then, once everything’s done, I take joy in figuring out just the right way to present the food on the plate. I’ll never get to the jaw-dropping heights of the gorgeous works presented by The Art of Plating, but seeing these beautiful concoctions make me go, quite simply, “Wow.
The New York Public Library (@nypl)
Well, well, well. Looks like we’re making our comeback, @KCLibrary! #WorldSeries #LGM ✨⚾️✨ Source.
While most people know this account from the super clever #bookfacefriday concept (people hold up a book that matches what they’re wearing, usually over their face) or maybe just because it’s one of the most iconic buildings in New York, the New York Public Library account hooked me during the baseball playoffs this fall. They began talking smack, as it were, back and forth with whichever team the Mets were facing in the series. In return, the main library in their opponent’s town would do the same. It was a genius, out-of-the-box idea that had me eagerly checking their Instagram feed after each game. I stick around now because seeing the old card catalogues and gorgeous books brings a smile to this former English major’s face.
U.S. Department of the Interior (@usinterior)
#BryceCanyon #NationalPark in #Utah is the ultimate place to explore the wonders of the night sky. Here the #MilkyWay extends from horizon to horizon like a vast rainbow, and on a moonless night, visitors can see 7,500 stars… Source.
America’s pretty breathtaking, but I can’t always get out of the office to see it. Full of gorgeous landscape snaps, the Department of the Interior provides a window across our amber waves of grain. (And the Bureau of Land Management, which falls under Interior, kills it on Instagram, too.) The colors are magnificent and otherworldly (with the occasional bear or other natural critter). It’s a great account to follow if you want to quickly fall into travel-daydreaming mode, and most shots leave me thinking to myself, “Yep, gotta add that to my bucket list.”
Humans of New York (@humansofny)
“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?” “My principal, Ms. Lopez.” “How has she influenced you?” “When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.” Source
Humans of New York (HONY) finds the story behind every human photographed as photographer Brandon Stanton asks his subjects questions and posts their answers along with the photos. (His most recent series on Syrian refugees was shocking and stunning, and even compelled actor Ed Norton to launch a fundraiser for one of his subjects.) Whether it’s refugees, actors, parents or a teacher whose student’s HONY inspired a $1.4M fundraiser for a school in New York City, I’m taken aback and inspired.
Overheard in the Newsroom (@ohnewsroom)
💸💸💸 #ohnewsroom. Source.
As a former photojournalist, whenever I need a good howl of laughter I visit this snarktastic account curated by Kevin Cobb. He takes submissions from folks in actual newsrooms and shares them for all to revel in. (Last year, he even launched an “Overheard in the Newsroom” Etsy shop featuring quotes.) The beauty of it all? Just replace “Newsroom” with your office’s name, and it pretty much still stands. (Fun fact: I once had a major band submit their rider and quote to me in comic sans. No, I didn’t book them.)
Before drifting off to sleep, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (@stationcdrkelly) captured this images from the International Space Station and wrote, ” Day 180. Moonlight over Italy. #BuonaNotte Good night from @ISS! #YearInSpace.” Kelly is living and working off the Earth, for the Earth aboard the station for a yearlong mission… Source.
This. Because space.
Breakin’ Hearts Since 2012 (@loki_the_wolfdog)
I don’t see the problem with chasing waterfalls. Source.
Full of stop-you-in-your-tracks photos, Breakin’ Hearts Since 2012 chronicles the outdoor adventures of Loki, a Siberian husky, Malamute and Arctic Wolf mix. I fell in love with this visually stunning account before I even knew the backstory, which makes it extra sweet: Loki’s owner, Kelly Lund, adopted him after the blizzard of 2012. Loki is a gorgeous enough animal to begin with, but Lund’s blend of beautiful moments with this majestic creature often takes my breath away.
Andrew Knapp (@andrewknapp)
Find Momo at the beach! Source.
I love puzzles. Not the literal ones that come in boxes of 500 or 1000 pieces. I’m talking about the kinds of games or riddles that engage my brain in a way where I have to stop everything I’m doing and concentrate to figure them out. The first time my friend Jeff tagged me in the comments of one of Andrew Knapp’s ‘grams, I thought, “Why? It’s a pic of the beach. And what does #FindMomo mean?” A quick scroll through the account showed me what’s up: Knapp posts fun shots of his border collie Momo, and the game is to #FindMomo. I was instantly pulled into the game. Sometimes it’s super easy to find Momo, like when the dog’s front and center on a pic. Other times, it’s harder, like when Momo blends into a snowy background or is in front of a building with a wild pattern.
So there you have it, my personal moments of insta-zen. It’s not a complete list — a number of friends post photos of their babies and kids, and each time I see their mugs, it gives me all the smiles. Many of them are on protected accounts, though, so instead here are some squishy baby faces you can enjoy too. (Also I, too, have gone down the “Hamilton” rabbit hole, but I will spare you my obsession. Except to point the true fans here.) Ironically, it is a great way to connect with the wider world while diving deep into your phone (between Loki and the U.S. Interior, you have a nice foil for that mid-morning meeting). But for me, it’s actually a way to connect with myself. I am a person who loves many things, who does many things, who cares about many things, and these moments during my day are there to remind me of all the things I am and want to be.
And also because space.