Posts Tagged ‘stress’


I’ve been reading up a storm this month, so far. Here’s the latest roundup:

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
I loved Emily Nagoski’s previous book, Come As You Are, a brilliant exploration of women’s sexuality. This book, co-written with Emily’s identical twin sister Amelia, explores the stress we experience as women, and shares strategies for naming and dealing with it. Witty, insightful and thought-provoking. I especially liked the parts about completing the stress cycle (so it doesn’t just build up in your body) and befriending your inner madwoman. Will be thinking about this one for a while.

The Women and the Men, Nikki Giovanni
I picked up this poetry collection at Manchester by the Book and have been reading it slowly. I find Giovanni’s work powerful and engaging – I love her imagery and the way she plays with language.

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations, Mira Jacob
I loved this wry, warmhearted, piercingly honest graphic memoir about what it means to live in the U.S. as a person of color, a woman, an artist and a part of an interracial family. Jacob is American-born to Indian parents; her husband is a white Jewish man. Their son, Z, is funny and smart and asks really good questions. This memoir chronicles many of their conversations as well as Jacob’s personal history. Fantastic.

Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America, Angie Schmitt
Pedestrians are dying in the U.S. at a truly alarming rate – especially older folks, disabled people and people of color. Schmitt delves into the urban planning, car design and systemic inequalities that created this epidemic, and offers some solutions for reversing it. Incisive, accessible and thought-provoking. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Aug. 27).

Float Plan, Trish Doller
Ben and Anna had planned to sail the Caribbean together, until Ben’s death by suicide. But Anna, in a desperate attempt to move forward somehow, decides to take their boat and sail anyway. She meets Keane, a handsome Irishman, and still has to deal with her grief. Funny, sweet and romantic. To review for Shelf Awareness (out March 2021).

The Road to Memphis, Mildred D. Taylor
Cassie Logan and her friends all know to keep their cool around white people – but one day her friend Moe has had enough and severely injures three white men. Cassie, her brother Stacey and two of their friends flee town with Moe, hoping to get him to Memphis so he can head north. A powerful installment in Taylor’s Logan series.

All the Days Past, All the Days to Come, Mildred D. Taylor
This book picks up Cassie’s story in the 1940s, when she’s a young woman and her brothers are also reaching adulthood. It spans two decades, as Cassie moves from Mississippi to Toledo to California and finally back south, to participate in voter registration drives. I love Cassie’s honesty, her stubborn sense of justice and her warm, fiercely loving family. I wanted her adventures to go on and on.

Yes No Maybe So, Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Jamie Goldberg gets roped into political canvassing by his cousin, the campaign manager. Maya Rehman is missing her best friend, her parents are separating, and she grudgingly agrees to canvass with Jamie. To both their surprise, the work isn’t that bad – and they like each other’s company, too. A sweet, funny YA romance about dealing with big change and standing up for what’s right.

Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God, Kaitlin B. Curtice
Curtice is a Potawatomi woman who is also a Christian, and she explores that tension in this book. It’s beautifully written, and at times it’s clear and powerful. At times it didn’t quite land for me. Still important, as we continue to face tough, long-overdue conversations about race and discrimination.

Watson & Holmes: A Study in Black, Karl Bollers, Rick Leonardi & Larry Stroman
My guy lent me this graphic-novel reimagining of Watson and Holmes as black men fighting crime in 21st-century NYC. I’m not a huge comics reader but I liked their witty banter. It amazes me how Conan Doyle’s characters are endlessly being reinterpreted.

The Fountains of Silence, Ruta Sepetys
I love Sepetys’ gripping YA novels about largely forgotten corners of history. This one explores the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and the effects of Franco’s regime on young people in the 1950s. I loved the two main characters: Daniel, a visiting Texan who is half Spanish, and Ana, who works as a maid at his hotel. Compelling, lushly described and very romantic.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to local bookstores I love: Trident and Brookline Booksmith.

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And let it be enough.

The countdowns have begun. Four days till Christmas; three days till Christmas Eve; one more day of work before J and I take a step back from our usual lives to spend some time with family. The gifts are all bought and mostly wrapped; the Christmas cards are finally sent; the packing lists are in progress. And despite the fact that I’m not technically behind on anything, I’ve been feeling the stress.

Fortunately, there are a few antidotes, mostly my usual lifesavers: time on the couch with a hot drink or a book; a wee bit of knitting (or even yarn-winding); some let-it-all-out journaling sessions. Homemade soup; flickering candles; holiday episodes of Friends (we wrapped presents the other night while cracking up at the Holiday Armadillo).

Two favorite antidotes to stress: twinkle lights and a holiday movie.

One new antidote for me this year is Marianne Elliott’s series of “peace offering” emails. She’s been sending one a day for the last month, and they’ve encouraged me to stop and take a deep breath (or several) amid the encroaching holiday frenzy. (I love this time of year, but it does get hectic.)

I confess I haven’t taken up daily meditation or pranayama breathing, both of which she recommends – but I have been reminded to relax, breathe deeply, be kind (to others and myself), practice gratitude, and get some sleep. And most importantly: to do what I can do, and let it be enough.

Taking a deep breath

This is key for me, as an overachiever, a list-maker, a people-pleaser and a woman – we are always trying to do more, accomplish more, give more, be more. And it has been so helpful for me to limit the size of my to-do list – sometimes to choose two priorities, as Sarah suggested recently, and other times to simply do what I have time or energy for, and let the rest go. And – this is the secret – not to beat myself up over it later. To decide that whatever I can do – whatever I can be – is not inadequate or imperfect or lacking, but enough.

As we head toward the weekend of Christmas, I hope you, too, can find a way to do what you can, let the rest go – and let it be enough.

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That’s what I’ve been doing since we got home on Sunday. Or trying to do.

Bethany’s wedding was so much fun – a whole weekend spent with old and dear friends, five of us crammed into a hotel room just big enough for us and all our stuff (and about a million inside jokes). Jeremiah serenading everyone at the wedding with Sister Hazel’s “This Kind of Love.” The guys making faces whenever a camera appeared. The welcome sound of so many Southern accents. Bethany, nervous and beautiful in her white dress and veil. Angela, sister of the bride and baker extraordinaire, working hard to make sure the cake didn’t fall. Lots of lip gloss and curling irons, silver high heels and jewelry, and yards and yards of twinkle lights and white tulle. Hugging one dear family who made it all the way up from Abilene.

But between flight delays on Sunday, houseguests when we got home (though we thoroughly enjoyed them), cold rainy weather in Boston, a stack of stuff waiting for me at work and bad health news for one of J’s aunts, it’s been a tough reentry. Still is, actually – it’s not over yet. I’m not quite back to a regular sleep/work/cooking/life routine, and 57 degrees does not feel like summer.

So I’m trying, trying, to take it slowly. Letting (some of) the laundry wait; stocking up on (some) essential foods and also picking up takeout; treating myself to a chai latte here and there; spending my lunch breaks reading at my favorite cafe. Listening to Frank Sinatra as I edit webpages; reading young adult books and Agatha Christie mysteries and Laura Harrington’s gorgeous debut, Alice Bliss. Trying to shut the computer down in the evenings and get some sleep. And remembering all the lovely moments from the weekend. (Photos + stories to come.)

How do you reenter after vacations or time away?

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