A Radical Universe Of Self-Care

Artist Yumi Sakugaw’s new book offers cozy meditations on the American obsession with shortcuts

The terms “life hack” and “self-care” have reached buzzword status in recent years, bringing with them occasionally negative associations. Taking time for oneself can be interpreted as an overly indulgent activity. But in our dark and uncertain political climate, chasing happiness and comfort where you can find them has the power to ground you in the present moment, recharge your energy, and give you the resilience and hope you need to carry on.

In The Little Book of Life Hacks, comic artist Yumi Sakugawa challenges America’s peculiar “protestant work ethic” and how often it’s at odds with a culture that insists we find happiness, romance, and the perfect manicure. The illustrated book follows her two prior meditation guides, as well as the comics Ikebana (Retrofit Comics, 2015) and I Think I Am in Friend-Love with You (which went viral before it was published by Adams Media in 2014).

Throughout, Sakugawa offers up a number of entirely useful self-improvement strategies, from taking care of your hair and decorating your apartment on a budget to learning how to love your body. Along the way, she builds a quietly radical universe, one where women of all colors, sizes, and styles partake in self-care, guilt-free. Dive in with Sakugawa’s creations, along with her commentary, below.

“I definitely spent a lot of time creating the rules of the universe, like it has to be really diverse, all body types and sizes,” says Sakugawa. “It's a universe where all the inhabitants are really supportive and mindful and introvert-friendly. That's why, for example, there are certain pages where there are no images or words, just swaths of color. The idea of giving space for the eyes to rest so that readers aren't overwhelmed with information was really important to me.”

“Sometimes with lifestyle books, especially if they're written by really famous celebrities, there's that feeling of inaccessibility: Like you’re not good enough if you don't have these certain lifestyle benchmarks. But I really wanted everything to feel very accessible, where the entry point is available to everyone, which I think is why I added details like little faces to fruits and refrigerators.”

“Fashion is this really wonderful way of greeting this new day with your intentions. I love the quote, ‘We're not human beings having a spiritual experience, we're spiritual beings having a human experience.’ And so I feel like as spirits in this physical human earthly form, it's fun to dress up this human avatar that you're in to greet the particular energies of the day.”

“Whether it's a story or an illustration or a meditation guide, I think what I'm interested in the most is creating a space for readers where some kind of healing shift occurs, where there is this palpable shift or clearing of perspective, where you're given permission to see or feel things or process things that you otherwise wouldn't have thought of.”

“Especially among women there’s this underlying fear that if you really indulged in every single one of your desires, you’re just going to go off the rails and your life is going to be ruined, right? Like, ‘If I buy one expensive dress, I’ll buy 10 expensive dresses, and I’m going to go bankrupt.’ I feel like the very first step is just giving yourself permission to have desires without censoring yourself.”

“And then, when you have these desires, instead of repressing them, just really allowing your body to feel the full extent of it in this really mindful way. And as you open your channels and give yourself permission to just feel desires, in tandem with just meditating and being a mindful person, I want to believe that there’s an inner compass where, the more you healthily indulge in your desires, you also know when you don’t want something.”

“We’re still grappling with the legacy of that protestant work ethic. We live in a culture where there’s still so much guilt associated with taking a rest, treating yourself. I even make this sort of logical fallacy in my book. I say something like, ‘If you’re having a bad day, have a cupcake.’ Or, ‘You worked hard, so have a manicure.’ Now, I would reframe it—you could be having a really great day and have a cupcake, or you could have gotten nothing done, because that’s what you want to do.”

“When you love your own life, I think that gives you a sense of pride and ownership that infuses everything. You're going to want friendships that are really supportive. You want a home that is really this sacred space for you, that really honors and celebrates your particular needs as a person. And then you want to make the food that tastes good to you, which is also healthy for you. You want to take care of your own body more.”


The global climate change strikes on Friday are said to have been the largest protest for climate change in history. An estimated four million people participated in 2,500 events across 163 countries on all seven continents. That included an estimated 300,000 Australians, but a total of zero were in Hyde Park in Sydney, despite a viral photo that claims otherwise.

Australian Youth Coal Coalition, a pro-coal Facebook page, posted a photo showing trash strewn across a park after what appears to have been a large event. "Look at the mess today's climate protesters left behind in beautiful Hyde Park," the photo was captioned. "So much plastic. So much landfill. So sad." The only problem is, the photo wasn't taken after a climate change protest. It wasn't even taken in Australia.

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via GOOD / YouTube

Last Friday, millions of people in 150 countries across the globe took to the streets to urge world leaders to enact dramatic solutions to combat climate change.

The Climate Strike was inspired, in part, by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who has captured worldwide attention for her tireless work to hold lawmakers responsible for the climate crisis.

The strike gave people across the planet the opportunity to make their voices heard before the U.N. General Assembly Climate Summit in New York City on Monday.

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

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Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

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Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

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