Musings on healthy living

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Book recommendations!

Some of you may have extra time off over the holidays, and surely some “snow days” are in our not-so-distant future, so I thought it was the right time to share some of my favorite books from the past year or two.  So grab your favorite hot drink, a soft blanket, and one of the following books and enjoy!

(I’m linking to amazon for efficiency but feel free to support your local bookseller or library instead!)

1.  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  This was a special read for me during and following my own visit to Charleston, South Carolina this September.  It is historical fiction and traces the journeys of two young women with very different circumstances (slave and slave owner) as they seek their own personal freedoms.

2.  Tell the Wolves I’m home by Carol Rifka Brunt.  The narrator is an awkward girl growing up in the 80s so I could easily relate to her!   This novel deals with love, loss, and family relationships during the AIDS epidemic.  It’s been awhile since I read it but I am pretty sure I cried a lot….possibly in public, on an airplane.

3.  Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.  Probably my favorite book I have read in the last few years.  Wickedly funny and smart, she satirizes Seattle, Microsoft, and private school mommies.  There’s a lot of heart here too though.  She wrote for Arrested Development…enough said.  If you haven’t read this yet, I’m jealous of you for getting to experience it for the first time.

4.  Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  No lie:  I swear I “discovered” this book before Oprah!  I don’t just read what Oprah tells me to!  And now of course it’s a big movie starring Reese Witherspoon that is hitting theaters maybe this week.  I’m sure the movie will be fantastic, but the book is well worth reading.  Cheryl writes beautifully about her journey and grief.  I will always remember when she encounters the fox in the snow.  Possible trigger alert:  this story deals with the loss of a mother.

5.  The Vacationers by Emma Straub.  This one is sort of similar to “Bernadette”.  A dramedy about an imperfect family traveling together to Spain on vacation.  It’s very accessible and easy to enjoy.

6.  Hyperbole and a Half:  Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh.  This is not a traditional novel; it’s a comic.  Again, this one had me crying on a plane…but I was crying from laughing so hard.  Very funny although she uses her comic strip in surprising ways and touches on subjects such as her depression too.

7.  The Good House by Ann Leary.  This is just a really well-written book and, again, it’s very easy to get into.  It’s probably a pretty realistic portrayal of a high-functioning alcoholic who is, as one might anticipate, a bit of an unreliable narrator.  Great characters and sense of community.

8.  Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.  This is an English book that concerns the relationship between a wealthy young man who is paralyzed from an accident and his female caregiver; it’s a love story and sad but also satisfying.

Happy reading!



What’s your motivation?

Has anyone heard of the new(ish) app TwoGrand?  It’s free and a tool to visually document everything you eat, your exercise, and how much water you drink…it also links you with other people who are following similar diets or have similar goals.  I am enjoying it because I love the visual inspiration of what other people are eating/drinking and it gives me some new ideas; also, it is weirdly effective for me as an accountability measure…I’m not going to eat that free pumpkin pie at work because then I would have to document it!!  Finally, the ability to track how much water I am drinking (with an established goal amount) is huge for me and I think it’s altogether possible I am not dehydrated for the first time ever.  As fun as it is to stalk and be stalked by strangers, if anyone I know wants to join this community, I’m sdclmt417 🙂

Everyone says in order to succeed with health related goals, you have to be really clear and specific with your motivation.  I rarely hear people talk about this, but my motivation with my diet and exercise is to be a kind and engaged person.  I have been noticing when I drink a lot of water, do some yoga, and eat “clean” that I am more patient and even-keeled; I am “serenely Sarah”!

I recently had an incident in which I had a snappish exchange with someone in a time pressure situation.  These things happen, right?  I assumed the next day it would be forgotten….but then that person seemed to not be speaking to me.  So (naturally!) I didn’t speak to her either.  In my head, I had a self-justifying narrative stream and worked myself into quite the righteous indignation.  I festered.  I stewed.  I let it spill over and breed discontent in my life.

A truly regretful and embarrassing amount of time passed.  Over a month!   Finally my thoughts shifted from my perspective to empathizing with hers.  My heart softened.  I wasn’t worried about whether I was “right” or not, because ultimately I wasn’t right in the way I was conducting myself every single day since the conflict had occurred.  So I reached out and expressed my regret and she immediately and graciously responded and the weight lifted from my shoulders was immense.

I don’t want to say this is a pattern for me, but it might be fair to say.  Except in the past sometimes I haven’t had that final conversation.  I haven’t put aside my fear or pride or self-righteousness and I’ve let relationships deteriorate and cease to be.  It’s still taking me waaay longer than I would like to process difficult situations, move past the ego, and respond in the way I want to, but I am making progress.

I’m sure my advancing age and the experience and maturity that comes with it plays a role, but again, I feel strongly that my mood and mental processes are supported and strengthened by basic lifestyle choices like getting enough sleep, regularly doing yoga, drinking lots of water, and eating unprocessed food.  My motivation isn’t to look good in a swimsuit or be a size 0.  My motivation is to treat all the people with whom I interact with the respect, kindness, and dignity that they deserve.

May we let go of resentments, and release our fear and sorrow in so doing.

Be well,