Tuesday, 6 April 2021

End of March Reading List

 Paper towns by John Green. 4/5. Loved it. I've read lots of his books, and they are so nice to read. His characters are in high school and really smart. And there is an epic road trip, which is the best. I want to check out the movie now. 

Your Erroneous zone by Wayne Dyer. 5/5. This book is intense. It kind of has a Byron Katie vibe to me. Some stuff from the book:

- Most sickness is a choice. This is a little much, but I absolutely believe a majority of illness comes from stress. And of course stress is a choice. So I guess I agree in a way. He talks about how illnesses get us so much benefit like attention and being able to avoid certain things that scare us. 

- Complaining is useless and so is apologizing. He says it's so much better to realize you have made a mistake and then vow to do something differently. 

- Do what you want. I think this is the main takeaway I got from the book. He says we all need to do exactly what we feel like doing way way more. He uses really simple examples like going to sleep when you want, eating when you want, giving gifts when you want. He says we should all avoid following cultural and societal conventions as much as we can. 

The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman. 4/5. This book is really old (pre-2000) and also American, so a lot of the advice does not apply here in Canada. But I still really liked the book. Some tips from the book:

- Believe you deserve to have enough money. If you always feel like you don't have enough, you will never have enough

- Give away money every month. She really feels you need to give money away to get more money. She says never to give money to friends or siblings, ever. She recommends you donate anonymously to a charity you care about every month. 

- Obvious tips you will find in every finance book like get rid of credit card debt, start investing really early, etc. 

- Be cool with losing everything. She talks about how her dad lost everything three times, and each time he came back with more abundance than before. 

Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildiner. 2.5/5. 

Hmmmmm. I dunno, but I just wasn’t really into this. It was slow. I think I would have enjoyed these cute little stories of her life in essay format like David Sedaris. Nothing really exciting or extreme happens in this book. But it was cute sometimes. And funny sometimes. I think I would love having coffee with the author. 

Monday, 22 March 2021

Mid-march reading and media consumption

 Reading so much and also just loving so much tv lately. It's such a weird time because we all remember how we were feeling a year ago. I'm feeling extra grateful we are able to do things like shop for Easter basket stuff, and see my sister and her family. We are getting our first dose Covid vaccines on Saturday, which really makes it feel like the home stretch is happening. 

Creating money by Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer: 5/5. Another book "written" by spirit guides. I am kind of falling into this weird world where spirits are a huge thing (I don't know why! I am kind of a skeptic). So the deal with this book is you need to think about what you would do if you had millions of dollars. How would you spend your days? Then you need to try to do those things even if you don't have the millions. For me, I would still work my normal day job, but just with a more relaxed, joyful attitude. So I can try to adopt that carefree happy attitude about work now. And I would do more things that are a "waste" of time, including: reading more, writing on this blog more (even though only a couple people read it), doing yoga classes, taking classes on stuff like meditating, and weirdly, doing reviews on stuff. Anyway, I am going to try to work some of that useless stuff into my life now instead of waiting until I'm 60 and able to retire. 

Inside out and back again by Thanhha Lai: 5/5. This is a book of poems about moving to the US during the Vietnam war. I loved how so few words could so fully explain such a complicated and difficult time for the author. 

Hunger by Roxane Gay: 5/5. I feel like lightbulbs are turning on all around me so I am suddenly seeing something I never once thought about because it was in the dark and I had no idea it existed. This is about being "of size" and black and female. The part where she talks about buying a second seat in the airplane because that's what the airlines tell you to do hit me the hardest. The flight attendants are so confused by two boarding passes and one person. And then that second seat you paid for doesn't really feel like yours because the other people in the aisle don't know you paid for it, so they feel it's theirs too to put their bags on. 

Dress your family in corduroy and denim by David Sedaris: 5/5. I have read so much of this author that I end up rereading so many short stories. But they are so good every time. I love knowing that he used to work as a house cleaner, even as his stories started to be read on the radio, and he started to get a hint of fame. 

Siblings without rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I loved their other book, and this one has the same vibes. Basically, when someone is expressing an emotion, do whatever you can to not minimize it. Let the person have the feelings. No one in the world wants their emotions to be brushed away. It's a good reminder. 

Ted Lasso: 5/5. Jon got a year of Apple TV for free with his new phone, and the first thing we did was watch the entire season of Ted Lasso over a couple days. It's just so great!! It's cheesy for sure, but perfectly so. A favourite thing for me is when characters on a show have such good friend chemistry that they finish each other's sentences. The coaches in Ted Lasso had that excellent chemistry down. Such a feel good show. 

The Morning Show: 5/5. Somehow, I had never heard of this one, even though it has so many huge names in it. We are halfway through, and it's just so great. I love the #metoo aspect of it. 

The Bachelor: 4/5. My mother and sister were not fully into this season. I LOVED it. I fully loved the "after the final rose" episode that was about the picture of Rachel at the plantation party. I think they did a great job (not perfect!!) of introducing systemic racism to your average white middle-class middle-age home (aka my parents). I think we are collectively learning SO much about systemic racism right now, and we all need to wake up to what is still happening. I also really liked Matt James. He seemed so open and down-to-earth to me. 

Superstore: 4/5. This show feels like it goes on and on. I for sure miss when the show was about Jonah and Amy potentially hooking up, but I do love that this show deals with huge issues like misogyny and unions and immigrations in a super light way. 

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Reading from the last week or two of February

Jon and I are lucky enough to get a few hours together on every other Friday morning. Sometimes we go out for breakfast, sometimes we go for a run, sometimes we go get groceries. We feel SO SO grateful that our life allows for this time together. Anyway, the other week we used our couple hours to go to both a bookstore and the other bigger library we don't always go to. I had to put a limit on myself, otherwise I would have come home with thirty books. 

We are never meeting in real life by Samantha Irby. 5/5. Oh my gosh. I loved this book so much more than I thought I would. I loved reading about her experiences as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic. I loved when she wrote about her body with so much honesty and self love. It made me want to love my body more. Can't wait to read her other book of essays. 

Super Attractor by Gabrielle Bernstein. 4/5. I mean, I liked this book. It reminded me of the Secret, and also a lot of other books about manifesting. She writes about meditating and talking to your spirit guides and always trying to feel good. And I'm pretty down for all those things. 

When the body says no by Gabor Mate. 5/5. This one is a life-changer. I would recommend this book to every single person who has any autoimmune issues at all. Plus, anyone who has stomach issues or cancer. Basically everyone. Which is so many people in my life. Jon is reading this book now because he is super interested in the connection between stress and illness. A couple surprising things I learned from this book: 
- Stress is often not obvious. It is low level and chronic and you probably are not aware of it. It's usually from childhood stuff. 
- positive thinking is not the same as positive being. Like, just saying things are good and trying to have a good attitude is really not great for you. You need to be positive from the inside, deep down. Which involves tons of work and facing things from your childhood. 
- Being "nice" is so bad for your health!!! No one is just super nice all the time on the inside. If you are being nice all the time, you are not being real. If everyone says how nice you are all the time, you need to make some changes and really look at if you are doing what you want to do in life. 
- Feeling guilty that you did something wrong often means you are on the right track. If you avoided feeling guilty all the time, you would only be living for other people. 

The best of me by David Sedaris. 5/5. I devour everyone he writes. Loved all these stories. I had already read many of them, but his writing is the kind you can read over and over. My favourite stories usually involve his sister Amy, but I also enjoyed reading about his father. I laughed out loud so much. 

Monday, 22 February 2021

How I made our guest room safer

I have such good memories of having sleepovers at friends homes and at my home throughout my childhood. Some of my friends would stay for many nights in a row or even weeks. I had a double bed and a double papasan chair in my room. 

Our oldest kid has been doing sleepovers for a few years now with family members and also with one friend of his who we know really well. When Will grew out of his crib last year, I was so excited to move the bed situation around in our house so Cohen could have a double bed in his room for sleepovers (until now, we would blow up a little mattress on his floor). 

I was telling a family member (not in my immediate family) about our new improved sleepover situation. They said they wouldn't recommend having kids who aren't siblings sleep together in the same bed. I was like, huh? Why not? I have slept in the same bed with so many of my friends so many times. I mean, they are the same age, and they are little kids. But this person didn't grow up like me. They had to sleep in the same bed with friends and cousins sometimes due to situations I couldn't even dream about (like because a guardian was just gone for days on end, so a friend or relative had to step in). And this person had been in situations where they felt forced to cuddle, touch, etc another kid their own age who was probably just physically curious or maybe lonely or whatever. 

I'm telling you, that never ever crossed my mind in a million years. Of course, I don't actually think that would happen in my house where J and I are super involved with our kids and keep a really close eye on them and their friends. And also in school now they learn about their body and consent and stuff so early. BUT. I just want everyone to feel safe and comfortable in our house. And when I think more about it, there are lots of times where two people sleeping in two separate beds is better than two people sharing one bed. Examples in my own life include my brother-in-law and his dad, my separated in-laws who still travel together sometimes, Cohen and his female cousin. Even if a couple of my girlfriends were spending the night, they would for sure prefer to have their own bed. 




I think we have all had these lightbulb moments this past year (#BLM, #metoo) where we learn something that just completely changes the way we see the world. I love learning more and trying to be better. So now, our guest room is a pair of twin beds, and I actually think it looks way better. I am no decorator, so it's pretty basic, and also we did it on a budget so we just used a lot of what we already had (who would have guessed cushions can be so expensive!!). We aren't really having any guests right now, but we are so ready to have sleepovers as soon as it's safe. 

Friday, 19 February 2021

My February library list

When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. 4/5. So this book is written by a rabbi who lost his son at a young age after a long illness. 
A couple things that stuck out for me: 
- When someone has something bad happen to them, never ever say anything that might seem like you are blaming them or God. Like if someone's parent dies, I am pretty sure they don't want to hear that "it's God's will" or "God must know you are strong enough for this burden." Also if someone is getting a divorce, definitely don't ask them if they were having enough sex or talking enough or going on enough date nights. That's the last thing someone wants to hear. So I loved the chapter about how to talk to people who are dealing with tough life stuff
- Prayers. Praying has always rubbed me a little the wrong way (asking God to fix things for you feels weird to me). BUT. I think they are so helpful in making the person who is praying feel better. And I think sending good vibes to people is actually helpful. Which I guess that's what prayers are? For years I have been sending good vibes to my friends and family. Maybe I was actually praying that whole time. 
- The main thing I got from this book is that God's main way of helping is sending people. So when you are super down and feeling totally screwed, God will send you people who will help you. It's some sort of guarantee. I have found that to be so totally true. When we were about to terminate my pregnancy, I had just started at out clinic, and so had 12 brand new coworkers. And with one, I just broke down. And she said she knew how I felt. And I said, well, no, you couldn't know unless you had to terminate a pregnancy due to a medical issue. And she had done exactly that ten years earlier. I remember being shocked that someone who went through my exact situation landed right in front of me just when I needed it. 

She Came to Slay by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. 4/5. This was a kind of info book about Harriet Tubman. Of course I learned about her in school, but it was cool to get a refresher and learn a little more. I didn't remember that she had epilepsy from a head trauma. She believed that whenever she fell asleep, she was getting direct orders from God, so she was really grateful for her sleeping spells. Also she was taking care of a newborn at the age of five because her parents had to work all day long. And I never really knew the story of her working during the civil war for the Union army. Super interesting. 

White Rage by Carol Anderson. 4/5. I read White Fragility, which is more explaining what systemic racism is. This book was different. It was really a history lesson about slavery in the US and what came after slavery that was basically still slavery. This book felt really really well-researched, like the best textbook ever. The thing that I'll still thinking about is this: Black people in North America can't possibly have any kind of generational wealth. They were not allowed to own anything or really have any freedoms until very recently. Very recently. For Black people, for sure their great grandparents had less than nothing. For some white people, maybe that is also true, but it had nothing to do with the colour of their skin. There is no comparison. I think everyone should read this book and probably at least ten other books about the history of systemic racism. PS: Canada is not all cool when it comes to racism. More on that in the future. 

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. 5/5. Some books keep me up at night thinking about them. This was one of those books. I was reminded of a time in my life when I was a teenager and an older man I knew really well asked me to come into his office and look at his computer screen. Which was open to a website with naked women. It felt so weird and horrible, and this book made me realize he was testing me to see if I would act cool about it. And I just really think that absolutely no one can judge what a teenage girl does when an older man in a position of power does weird unacceptable stuff like that. Twenty years later, and I still cringe about that moment. 
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