I am a Feminist, oh, and, I’m Writing a Book

Today I was listening to The Night Circus on my way to work and then in between students was reading a bit of How to Be a Woman and I remembered a thought I had on my morning drive about how as a woman I often feel like a beautiful representation of contrasts. Red riding hood AND the wolf. Able to be both the Princess AND the Dragon. Fire-y, Fierce, and wear a dress.

It’s actually a really great time. Trouble is, that pesky misogyny, is still all over our society and thrusts buckets of shame over being wolf-like or Dragon-y, or self-sufficient, strong-willed, loud, challenger, etc. etc. etc. BUT still does enjoy women to be care-givers who sacrifice themselves to death, either literally or emotionally, and then, when they can no longer serve a purpose to look good and say nothing.

It’s real f*!$ed up.

Lately I’ve been thinking about women, about being a woman, about how I became a woman, about which accurate and inaccurate things shape that identity. I thought about the myths against feminist about hating men and I think of all the women I know, myself way too included, who often become the holding space for men –helping them heal, helping them have space and safety to name the unnameable losses, support them when a bad cold comes to end their world, OR their heart has been broken and help them learn how to love again, and then promptly get discarded.

It’s really not great.

Then there’s the whole subtle oppression used against the woman with the courage to name this phenomena to the men they’ve loved, or the people they know to be chastised for thinking ‘so little of men’ and ‘overthinking everything’ and ‘it wasn’t about you’ or ‘quit being dramatic’ or whatever male culture language is presented so reasonably tapping into the insecurity of subtle and overt oppression towards women that often women start to think ‘I guess maybe I did think about it too much or I was being dramatic’ when what was happening was a naming of a very inconvenient truth.

As a woman I feel trained to be used, discarded, abused, grabbed, viewed so often as parts and never a whole person which matches how often my voice is taken and distorted, given back to me, in parts, telling me more ways I’m wrong so that the man in question does not have to face the reality I named that hit too close to home.

This isn’t a one time thing with one guy one time. This is a lifetime of comparing notes with other women. Other women who got a drunken call months, or even years later, from the men they helped heal, were convinced by that we were wrong, dramatic, overthinking and waaaaay off the mark to be told, between slurred professions of gratitude on the good nights, and painful almosts on the worst ‘you were right and I hope to find a girl like you one day’. Like me, but not me. Why call? Oh, and that little detail that what I was made to feel crazy by thinking and observing was actually the truth. Not cool. Also a lot of hiding behind work and avoiding things through the virtue of professional development. Citing a desire to connect as being unreasonable, demanding, and that old fan favorite against women articulating their expectations and desires — needy and too much work.

It’s so frustrating. Between physical assaults, sexual assaults, verbal harassment, the events that fall some where in between all of those, then there’s this super subtle but also dangerous pattern happening and it’s not cool.

Which, is why I’m writing a book. A compilation of fictional stories that show these experiences from women’s points of views. Show the realities of what is faced. Every day. A story of falling in love, women falling in love with finding themselves, overcoming these destructive lies and learning to, despite a lifetime of being made to feel less than, trust themselves. It’s the love story I wish would’ve been read to me. One without a prince and WITH a whole group of bad-ass woman loving people, helping people, doing good things, fun things, some fun bad things, and living life, not waiting for it to begin by the status of having been ‘picked’ to date or marry, but to be enough, as is. With or without kids, with or without a relationship. Independent, strong, part wolf and riding hood, part goldie locks and all three bears, part princess and part fire breathing, ass kicking, dragon.

Women finding themselves, finding their strength, and not healing one another. Because in my lifetime I’ve never had to help another woman heal. I’ve supported women, shared the weight of their life, found partners in the female friendships in my life, and at times taken care of their physical needs when some of the fun bad things turned into some throwing up in toilets and parking lots, but save them? no. Heal them? no. They do that on their own, and often for so many others, there is nothing I can offer them they don’t already have within them. Which is why I’ve come to love those friendships in a new and deep way. A way I’ve never read before. In a way I want to read. So I’m going to write it.

A note to great men — I do happen to a know a high percentage of great men. Great men who still at times pull some of the bull shit listed above, but can handle my expressing that to them respectfully and own it on their own. Who have helped support and hold me too. The true friendships found there too. I do not hate men. I do not think all men are like the issues I raised above, just as, not all women are both wolf and riding hood. Not all, but many, and I’ve been afraid to tell those stories of the rare great men, the many good man, and the plentiful — less kind variety. I’ve been more afraid to tell the stories of the complicated, strong, soft, guarded, beautiful, defiant, strong, whole, brave, broken, rised up phoenix women in my life, because being whole, all on our own, naming that, celebrating that, leaves no space for needing men, needing to have a husband, needing to have kids, needing to fulfill the scripts we’ve been given and instead write our own.

Choosing no children, or some. Choosing to be single for a lifetime unless someone we WANT (not need) comes along. Choosing to speak up in a world that subtly, and at time aggressively and overtly tells us to ‘shut the fuck up’. The notion of a woman being whole and happy on her own seems still so threatening to a society, even one that so clearly needs to remodel our modality of doing things. Look at our leadership in this country. We are broken. What we’ve been isn’t working. We’re not going to be ‘great again’. This country wasn’t great for the majority of people. I would rather we let go of some false nostalgia and move forward to an America that’s greater than it’s ever been.

 

One where a woman could be president without so much commentary on her clothes or body.

One where a woman could be whole and happy on her own and not face a risk of character assignation or physical and sexual assault risks.

One where men were encouraged, raised, and expected to be kind, loving, and respectful of all others. and never knew the phrase ‘like a girl’ to be an insult. Or that ‘being gay’ is equally insulting.

Where all people regardless of their nationality, sexuality, gender expression, can live their lives in peace. Where we can all have access to bathrooms, to homes, to jobs, to communities. Where we tore down all this broken barriers that separate us, look at the invisible divides our subtle and subconscious bias creates and build, maybe for the first time ever, a  united states.

That’s my dream. Maybe the book will help speak to that. Maybe not. But I know it’s worth pursuing and finally, after 28 hard years of work, I am beginning to trust myself on knowing what I need and who I am.

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Self-Compassion and Falling in Love

So, in the last few weeks (and, if we’re being honest, the majority of the years prior to that) I’ve been struggling with self-image. Specifically body image, but truth be told, the last few years after school were incredibly hard on me. I came eye to eye with all the ways I find a sense of self-worth. (spoiler, mostly it’s work and being of service to others, but mostly work) and then I had those avenues of creating self-worth taken away or lessened.

It was like the part in the movie before the uplifting montage that people talk through or go refill their pops at because it’s uncomfortable and too close to home. That place of struggle with no sign of relenting.

Today, in the event you’ve ever had a season or, perhaps, like me, nearly a lifetime of developing identity and worth linked to what I do professionally and Who I am to others and how I help them, have had that in some way taken from you, and are stewing in a pot of left over pity party tears you’re too exhausted to dump out (too far?) then I hope to offer a little bit of information based on what has helped me in hopes it might just help you too.

  1. Understand the concept of compassion. (I found it easiest to find this definition in relationship to someone I love. A friend, a relative, a really cute dog that won’t stop eating garbage, whatever works to provoke a sense of understanding, empathy, and kindness to another being that is struggling. Got the feeling? Great hold onto it real close.
  2. Now, apply it to yourself.
  3. If you lost it the minute you attempted to apply it to yourself go back to one and if you can hold kindness and compassion towards yourself for even a second longer praise yourself for the progress. Keep repeating this until you start to soften the really aggressive messages that tell you whatever painful narrative keeps repeating in your mind (not pretty enough, smart enough, good enough, thin enough,  faking everyone out and inevitably you’ll fail, be humiliated, sad, and lonely etc.) NOTE: this part, it can take quite a long time,  but every time you hold that self-compassion for 3 seconds instead of 0 you’re slowly softening these messages.
  4. Accept that some of your immediate responses during times of shame or struggle may be a bit, well, not great towards yourself. Accept that they exist but keep reminding yourself they’re just thoughts. They can come up, come visit, hell they can do the cha-cha real smooth all day in your brain, but that doesn’t mean they’re right or that you have to internalize them as anything other than a passing thought. Let your mind become Teflon for negative thoughts. BOING them off. If they come back with more urgency that’s okay, just telflon them off all day. Eventually, they’ll probably stop visiting so much.
  5. Meditate. Honestly. I’m a real struggler at this. I can only do 15 minutes on my best days and I skip a lot of days because as a real new meditator it quickly insights a lot of anxiety, thought hopping, and, oddly, a compulsion to count things near me (?) but without fail, even after the first 5 minute one, where every 1 second I had to bring my mind back to the present feelings; taste, smell, sight, touch, emotions — at the end of it my brain has slowed down and somehow that slowing aids in the self-compassion. I don’t know how, and maybe that’s not true for all, but I think it’s worth trying.
  6. Treat. Yo. Self. This is a very fun phase. I place it six after the compassion and meditation because it can be really tempting to use buying things as a balm to problems that are rooted so far out of the material. It provides a rush and it can be an addiction. So, I encourage some tool building prior. For me this was some new cloths, new hair, and lately updated nails. These things don’t make me more worthy than I was before and not everyone can do this at all. Maybe treating yourself is going to the library. Letting yourself surf facebook all night long. Maybe it’s an extra long walk. The point is, however you treat yourself, it should make you feel good. Something you love but don’t give yourself often.
  7. Write to the universe. In art, in actual writing, in prayer, in  whatever way speaks to your soul — speak to the universe, candidly, share your struggles and ask for what you need.
  8. Write a love letter to yourself.
  9. Look for people in your life, or in the world, who are living their lives as them.  I found body positive videos and Instagram helped me challenge a lot of my illogical, but very convincing, internal dialogues that tell me my body is somehow the problem, that if solved, would cure all that pesky self-critical dialogue I’ve been rocking (it won’t PS).
  10. If you’re feeling body image struggles specifically I found connecting to my body in healthy ways has been productive. Eating delicious, healthy meals. Taking the time to cook, going for walks, masturbation, yoga, massage, a full night of sleep, not wearing make up to let my skin do it’s own natural thing, wearing your best outfits just because it’s Tuesday and they make you feel good.
  11. Using apps as assets. I have an anxiety app PACIFICA which is amazing. Helps track moods and has some guided relaxation recordings. I also have a recording app which I think was 5 dollars, but there are probably free versions, that allow for me to process my day with myself. Instead of turning immediately to someone else to sooth my anxiety I am learning to turn to myself.
  12. Think of yourself as part of everything. On really struggling days I look at the clouds, or stars, or snow, or puppies and I remind myself we’re all made of the same things. If there’s a newly in love couple in the booth across from me and I feel a twinge of longing for what is not in my life I remember their love is all of our love. We all get a world that’s a little lighter and more rose colored. Just as the pain people feel is all of our pain, which sounds sad, but is comforting because no matter what we’re not alone, we’re in this all together, because we are all part stars and moon, smiles, and snuggles, excited puppies, and holding hands. We’re all of it, and that’s really uplifting to me.

Now, there’s a very real chance not all of these will work for you, and my own list includes more items, but this may be a place to start from, start learning the nuances of your soul, loving your baggage and accepting that the thoughts happen without accepting the thoughts and start falling in love with yourself.

I have found, for the first time, I can enjoy being with people without needing to be with them. I can say no to an invitation without feeling a need to justify and only say yes to what I need and want. I can turn to myself and be soothed, so that when a loving partner comes into my life, I won’t need them, but I will be able to invite them to join me in this journey and that’s pretty amazing. To know, as is, I am enough. The events that took place in my life that made me feel otherwise weren’t about me. And when I make mistakes, maybe date the same emotionally unavailable fella, or don’t budget well, or mess up at work, or struggle as we do, I can hold myself softly, kindly, and compassionately, and realize that this thing I’m doing, what I’ve listed above, is basically falling in love, but with me.

I hope wherever you are, wherever you’re at, you find exactly what you need today, and maybe, for good measure, a reminder that you are special and loved, because you are. ❤

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Citizen Term 2017-2021 Update #1

Hello and welcome to my first citizen term update. It was very important to me to not let our current leadership of the country and this, let’s call it character building, era push me to a deeply fatal apathy. When our leaders most need us to guide them I decided to take it seriously and focus my next term as a citizen. This is going to serve as an update of how those goals are progressing.

Term Objectives:

  1. Intentionally develop myself into a compassionate, emotionally regulated, self reliant but still open, wise, informed, engaged, service oriented, kind, leader and contributor in my community, career, and personal relationships.
  2. Educate myself on long standing education gaps.
  3. Become a more engaged citizen.
  4. Share what I learn using my voice respectfully, compassionately, and authentically to invite others into their engagement journey.
  5. Find a rhythm at work and become competent and continue to grow in the fields.
  6. Get my personal life (family, friends, romantic relationships as applicable, finances, retirement fund, car lease, savings etc. organized).

(NOTE: Goals below are specific to 2017)

OBJECTIVE 1: Intentionally develop myself into a compassionate, emotionally regulated, self reliant but still open, wise, informed, engaged, service oriented, kind, leader and contributor in my community, career, and personal relationships.

 

 

  • GOAL: Figure out how to be more active in my community.

 

      • To preserve the goals with deeply personal elements that aren’t exclusive to me I’ll speak to each goal in broad overview.
      • of the 4 goals listed under this area 3 have started, one has not (on that note, anyone wanna go to a county meeting with me?)
  • GOAL: Reflect Regularly

 

      • Of the 4 goals in this category 2 had been started, 1 wasn’t possible (person wasn’t available) and the 4th is being started with this blog post.

 

  • GOAL: Figure out how to be more politically engaged early and often.

 

      • Of the 2 specific goals listed 1 has been met, 1 is in progress.

 

  • GOAL: Be a change agent.Be an advocate for my rights and the rights of others.

 

      • Of 2 specific goals 2 have been started.

 

  • GOAL: Whidbey

 

      • Of the 2 specific goals 1 has been maintained so far, and one was done as best I could.

 

  • GOAL: Self-care and balance.

 

      • Of the 4 goals in this area 2 have been very minimally started, 1 sometimes happens on accident and the 4th I couldn’t do because it was too much for me in January, hoping to work through the emotions that impacted that for a 2nd attempt in February.

 

  • GOAL: Actively read.

 

    • Of the 1 goal in this area, things are going very well.

 

OBJECTIVE 2: Educate myself on long standing education gaps.

 

  • GOAL: Expand my knowledge base regarding political activities (federally and locally), public policy, world events broadly, science, history and other topics as they emerge.

 

    • Of the 2 goals in this area I have not even thought about, let alone started, either of them.

 

OBJECTIVE 3: Become a more engaged citizen.

 

  • GOAL: Continue to grow Art & Connection. 

 

      • Of the 5 goals specific to Art & Connection I have done zero of them. Let alone start any.

 

  • GOAL: Develop as a writer.

 

    • Of the 4 goals listed I have started 2, the other 2 will take time.

OBJECTIVE 4: Share what I learn using my voice respectfully, compassionately, and authentically to invite others into their engagement journey.

 

  • GOAL: Speak.

 

    • Of the 2 goals here I have been doing 1 and have not started the 2nd (speaking of which, anyone have any public speaking engagements they want me to speak at ;)…but seriously doing a speaking engagement was 1 of the goals.

OBJECTIVE 5: Find a rhythm at work and become competent and continue to grow in the fields.

 

  • GOAL: Check for understanding.

 

      • Goal complete.

 

  • GOAL: Work as an in home therapist.

 

      • Of the 5 goals 1 is done, 4 are active and improving.

 

  • GOAL: Work as a reading tutor.

 

      • Of the 3 goals 2 are in progress, 1 is not applicable until May. 

 

  • GOAL: Another job when tutor job is done

 

      • Of the 2 goals  here, neither is relevant yet, will come into play around April.

 

  • GOAL: Counseling licensure.

 

      • Of the 3 goals 1 is done, the other 2 are more time consuming.

 

  • GOAL: Clarify career goals 

 

    • Of the 2 goals I have not done or started either.

OBJECTIVE 6: Get my personal life (family, friends, romantic relationships as applicable, finances, retirement fund, car lease, savings etc. organized).

 

  • GOAL: Build savings account.

 

      • Goal is in progress.

 

  • GOAL: Pay off 4 debts in 2017.

 

      • Goal is in progress.

 

  • GOAL: Adulting basics (new plates, new license, update account addresses, order new check blanks, honda lease, retirement fund/planning, end of life care for parents planning)

 

      • Goal is active and improving.

 

  • GOAL: Refocus and check in on my health

 

      • Of 2 goals I have done neither.

 

  • GOAL: Family leadership role.

 

    • Of the 4 goals, 2 are happening, 1 is not applicable at this time and the last hasn’t been done.

If you’re at all interested in creating a citizen term for yourself, wanna know any details, or anything else always feel free to reach out (chrishollermann@gmail.com). If not, that’s a-okay, thanks for being my acount-a-bili-buddy for my accountability on this endeavor. 🙂

 

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Swampy, Sleepy, and a Little Weepy

I was recently in a swamp (like you do).

Talking about leadership (like you do).

Surrounded by experts in leadership and truly incredible human beings (like you do).

and a lot of things in my own swampy existence have been stirring in me, sloshing up and out my eyes in semi-spontaneous tears, and it seemed about time I sit down and do what this blog has been known to do: lay my heart all over the page.

I have a lot of specifics on my soul. Aches with names, heart breaks with identities that don’t belong only to me. The thoughts around them do.

My identity has recently been challenged. In a thoroughly uncomfortable way. Basically, it can best be summed up as I made an error at work. A big one. It required some ‘coaching’. Not the fun kind. It was handled beautifully. If you have to fuck up and be talked to about it I hope you get talked to like I did; compassionately, generously, supportively and kindly. The problem wasn’t in how they handled it or even what I did. The problem is what this undid. It stripped my identity. Which made me realize a few super uncomfortable truths:

  1. I tie my identity at least 90% to what I do.
  2. I tie about 98% of my identity to how well I do what I do.
  3. That makes me a hypocrite for all the borderline evangicalizing I do on behalf of worthiness and how it’s about an inherent worth as people not related to what we’ve done or have not done. (NOTE: While I do believe that, the hypocrisy was in that I said it, but I SUPER wasn’t living it)

In the last year I had everything I thought about myself challenged, taken away or lost, faced the ugliest parts of myself, had my identity as a woman deeply shaken (also because I felt I wasn’t doing being a woman well — see a pattern?) and the truth comes down to this:

I am both kind, loving, creative, sexy, intelligent, compassionate AND a disgusting, mean spirited, incompetent, at times genuinely idiotic, jerk.

I’m both.

I’m generous and greedy. I’m thoughtful and thoughtless. Apathetic and engaged. Active and lazy. We all are. We’re all of it. And that is just so grossly uncomfortable.

Lately a lot of mindfulness and Buddhist beliefs have been coming into conversations and this idea of being attached to identity has been stirring. This idea of being attached to outcome.

Someone wisely recently said to me ‘hope isn’t about the outcome, it’s about doing the work because it’s what we do, not to make something better.’ This seems all too fitting as we usher in a new era of attempted leadership in our country (not ready to call him a leader or by his title…or even his name — working on it — not there yet). I was so deeply moved by the women’s marches across the country and so thoroughly exhausted by what awaits us because it felt like there was this weight of the world, weight of change on my shoulders — on all of our shoulders, but what if we let go of the outcome?

Now, hear me out. In the same way as I let go of the fact I spent 27 years building my identity, guiding it through butterfly clips and glitter eye shadow and blond hair and red lips, I felt incredible freedom. Red hair, black hair, burgundurple hair, red lip, plum lip, nude lip — doesn’t matter really, they’re not me. I’m not me, we’re all connected, we’re all everything, and also, nothing.

So we do the work. We email, call, write our representatives. We protest. We watch the news even when it hurts. We write the articles. We paint the paintings. Not because it’s for anything or anyone, or in pursuit of better or worse or anything, but because we do the work for the sake of the work.

We’re hope and create hope for the sake of hope.

I’m not sure how well I’ve articulated this, but if you’re feeling confused, sort of calmed, and also a bit panicky I think I’ve gotten you to exactly where I am these days, in my own bizarre fairytale where I was in a forest in Washington having spiritual dreams about bears less than 72 hours ago and now I’m sitting in a town in Minnesota working 14 hour days not to ‘get by’, not to ‘get here’ or ‘there’ or make anyone ‘better’ but because the work is worth doing.

In the metaphor of swamps in the Yoda-isms of do or do not, I’m doing. Feeling knee deep in the muck, getting weepy, a lot sleepy, and trying to spend 10 minutes every day just being. Just observing wherever I am, whoever I’m with, whatever I’m doing being as present as I can. I can’t bare anymore than 10 minutes right now and that’s okay because it’s not for anything. It just is.

In all the confusion, swamps, forests, sleeps, and weeps sending so much light and love,

Chrissy

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Books, books, books: Paragraph Reviews II

Well Hello there!

I’m back to talk about, oh what a shocker, books. Same idea as last time. Short reviews of what I’ve been reading and an update on what I’m currently reading.

Reviews

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue was a good read. It’s great writing, story flows well, talks about immigration in the US and compares the American dream between two families; 1 family who appears to have obtained the dream, and the other who is striving for it. It’s beautiful and painful at times and while I’d recommend it there isn’t a satisfying completion but in the context of the book that both makes sense and makes it stick with you.

The Knight in Rusty Armor by Robert Fisher is such a delightful, accessible, very clever fable that looks at male culture with some tones of buddhism. It’s about a knight who was always at the ready to go in whatever direction he needed to slay dragons, protect villages, and be the best knight, but in doing so becomes confined to his armor. It then becomes a journey to remove the armor (male culture). It’s a quick reading being written towards a younger audience and, also, literally at 65 pages. Well worth the time to read it.

10% Happier by Dan Harris. So here’s the thing. I originally was going to rate this at 2 stars on goodreads, ultimately I made the choice to go with 3 because I think his voice is an important one to have on this topic. Basically this book is written from the perspective of someone who doesn’t buy into religion, faith, anything, and is focused on success, career, and his own neurotic patterns. He admits to being an asshole and a jerk (which, is a large part of why I wanted to give it 2 stars) but upon further reflection I related with him. We are all assholes sometimes. We all can get focused on success and not care about much else. So having a voice bravely own that and find ways to reduce anxiety, stop self-medicating, and become, by his estimation, 10% happier is something I’m glad exists.

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham. If you love Gilmore Girls and loved the reboot. This book is for you. It’s easy. It’s light. It’s funny, and it’s full of her reflection on life, but also, largely, about her two experiences with Gilmore Girls.

Poor Economics by Abhijit V. Banerjee. You gotta nerd out to economics to vibe this book, but if you enjoy economics then this is well worth the read. It was fascinating! It looked at the decision making of the poor without patronizing or relying on long held stereotypes of people in poverty being lazy. It provides an honest look at how massive poverty is as a problem and how important it is, but also offers hope in ways that it can be improved, and many of them much smaller in scale than I would’ve thought. Just a really phenomenal book.

Currently Reading

Carrying forward Generalist practice with families and Rumi’s pocketbook as well as The Book of Joy.

New to the currently reading scene:

Super Mario by Jeff Ryan which is about the history of Super Mario. It’s incredibly, incredibly fascinating. I don’t even play video games and I’m riveted by the 1983 gaming crash (that was apparently a thing?), lawsuits, how the game was created, who composed the music, the new controller. Just truly a delight. If you grew up playing video games an in particular super mario I can imagine this would be that much more interesting.

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. I am too freshly into it to provide much other than it already has a habit of getting under my skin like catcher and the rye did which is rare, electric, a little terrifying, and a dash of unsettling. So stay tuned on that.

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Paragraph Reviews and What I’m Currently Reading

Well Hello Again!

So it’s a snowy day in the neighborhood and it looks highly likely that I’ll be working from home again which means I can take some time in the morning to drink tea, enjoy a bagel, blog and read.

I’ve never tried this format before but I am going to do some reviews, in a paragraph or less, related to things in my life — food, clothes, books, and movies and then end with what I’m reading in the first few days of the new year.

I’m having fun writing this I sure hope you have fun reading it!

Food and Drinks

There is one of the holiday celestial teas — sweet nutcracker — it’s a black tea and it is everything right in the world. My anxiety has been elevated since some recent winter driving events so I’ve been trying to find calmer forms of caffeine and this tea is a winner.

The Velvet Devil Merlot. This is not an everyone beverage, one, legally as it’s wine and two, by taste, as it’s merlot, but this is my favorite wine. I first had it in Williston and paired with some cinnamon cranberry goat cheese it can undo the gnarliest of days. I have been able to find it at Happy Harry’s in Fargo and Albertson’s Liqour store in Williston and whatever the name of that liqour store across from the mall and by the old SAVE in Alexandria is.

Speaking of cinnamon cranberry goat cheese. Super not vegan (not that I’ve been succeeding in that since March of last year) but so intensely delicious. It has dethroned swiss and mozzarella as my favorite cheeses because it is that good.

Water. Classic — also a thing I’ve been more aware of, especially after an ill-fated accidentally wine hangover that was 98% brought on by inadequate water consumption before, during and after.

Clothing

So my golden birthday was last week and as a gift to myself I let myself get some new clothes (and books as will be revealed later). Mostly in store shopping so I could try on there but I did roll the dice and order some things from wicked clothing online. I got several tank tops with themes of feminism, activism, and very delightful sunrise designs and a few sweatshirts — one of which includes a sloth and sports, a suck it up buttercup, and a Rosie the Riveter we can do it. Delightfully pleased. Soft, comfortable, unisex sizing, and I believe the code SCHOOL is still good to get you 30% off your purchase.

Movies

More accurately this should be called movie. I saw Rogue 1 in theaters this last weekend and I had gotten mixed reviews from people so I went in knowing almost nothing. I loved it. You don’t need to see it to follow the episodes, it’s like an add on informational piece, I struggle with how extremism is romanticized and male culture is used to belittle a central character’s experience and also used to minimize horrible actual and horrible almost life choices. That being said I cried, I felt a lot things, I enjoyed the additional story line, and I will likely own this when it goes to DVD — worth the watch. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Books

Oh Gosh, no surpriser here, I have a lot that can fall under this category. I’ll do quick reviews of what I’ve read in 2017, what I’m currently reading, and where I’ve recently been buying books.

Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook — it’s a poetry collection and I read it in 2016, but on new years eve so I didn’t get a proper chance to sing it’s praises. It’s wildly under-read and underrated on goodreads (and I suspect in life). It is a refresh twist on a poetry book I’ve read in a while. Set up like a mixed tape the first half is side A: the poems, and the second half is side B: Remixes. I won’t spoil you on how it plays out but for 6.99 on amazon it’s well worth the purchase. Plus the author will actively interact with you via social media — which is a delightful bonus.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur — My favorite book of 2016 was also the first book I read in 2017. I’ve read it 5 times in 2.5 weeks. I want to be sorry about it, but I just love it. I have never been so moved by a collection of poetry in my life. It can be triggering, which I may have neglected to mention anywhere prior, so know that, and I feel it’s best read in a single setting if possible, but I still cannot recommend this higher. If I could’ve given it 10 out of 5 stars on goodreads I would have.

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace — also a poetry collection (that was super my jam ending last year and coming into this one). I would say it’s good, but having recently been reading such incredible poetry this felt like a three to me, when at any other time I probably would’ve rated it a four (out of five). I like what it’s trying to do with empowerment, addressing and using female fairy tale language to guide the book, but something fell flat for me. Worth the read if you’re an avid reader, but if you are a rare reader I wouldn’t recommend this one you dedicated your limited book time to.

Currently Reading

Rumi everyman’s library pocket poets. More poetry, no shock, I would say Rumi is one of the finest poets – ever – but I would also say his poetry is not as accessible as the modern poets listed above. It doesn’t make it unworthy by any means, but it does take more effort to read, process, and enjoy. I’m liking it, but truthfully, I’m not quite ready to exit my modern poetry fix yet so it’s been a slow read.

The Book of Joy by Douglas Abrams and details the conversations between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Demond Tutu about joy including science and other information about and around joy. It’s extraordinary but I’ve been reading it for a month already. It’s one of those books (The Art of Happiness, Man’s Search for Meaning) where it’s so good while also making your reflect and ponder that it takes time to get through.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. The main character Jende Jonga is an immigrant from Cameroon who has moved himself, and years later, his family, to the United States for a better life. He becomes the chauffeur for the Edwards family and in the two story lines a lot is said about the American dream, challenges of marriage, parenthood, work, life, and I’m not sure what else because I’m only half way in, but oh do I like it.

Understanding Generalist Practice with Families by Grafton Hull and Jannah Mather. Reading this for work as I’m still very new and learning. It’s a very easy read though which, in fairness, I was supposed to have read in grad school, but did not, but am now so in a very delayed way it’s coming full circle. I’m not sure this would have much interest to general population of people, but so far it’s very informative and greatly appreciated by me.

Book Buying

It is no secret that I love books and read. A lot. With a lot of reading tends to come a lot of buying (even though I still have so much to read on my shelves — it’s something I’m trying to be better at). I’ve been buying the bulk of them on thrift books.com (like thrift store for books but online. Most books are about 3 dollars, free shipping on over 10 dollars, and 5 dollar reward for every 50 dollars spent ( which is another way to keep yourself informed of just how much money you’re spending there), amazon.com, and barnes and noble. I did have some gift cards, but regardless, I honestly bought too many books and I should’ve been more responsible. With that failing honored, here’s what I’ve recently purchased:

  • Milk and Honey (several times over — happy holidays loved ones!)
  • The Domestic Violence Sourcebook (work related)
  • Understanding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (also work related)
  • Treating Attachment Disorders (also work related)
  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  • Talk as Fast as I can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls by Lauren Graham
  • Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook
  • The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
  • In the Buddha’s Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi
  • Sex, Drugs, and Chocolate: The Science of Pleasure by Paul Martin
  • SOS Help for Emotions
  • One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism
  • Siddhartha
  • Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life
  • Love in the Time of Cholera
  • Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys
  • The Knight in Rusty Armor
  • This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place you Live by Melody Warnick (a gift that I’m grateful for and looking forward to reading)

And finally Book of the Month Club (which is where I found and got Behold the Dreamers and Girls). I got a 3 month membership — so there’s that too. I would also recommend that– I’ve encountered books I would’ve have otherwise known of and loved everything I’ve read so far. After three months I hope to have a better picture of if that’s a fluke or one helluva business.

Now that my birthday and two major holidays are over I suspect so is this temporarily spending hoopla and back into the focus on saving and responsible adulting. I will probably do another similar blog in the future which allows for several, short reviews, all at once.

Sending so much light and love!

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My Year in Review Through Books

2016 was my most devoted reading year. In the 9 years I’ve been tracking what I’ve read this eclipses any other year in variety read, number read, pages read — basically it was a reading blow out. It seemed fitting to review my year this way.

2016 was a year that broke me wide open. A year in which the universe taught me the meaning of surrender. Several times over. It was a year of incredible challenge and joy. It was a year of spectacular love and ending of relationships. Of discovering dating as a fun pastime and realizing, for the first time ever, it really is a choice for me, and not one I have to make. I can be single, happy and in the throws of a beautiful life and not stare longingly out rainy windows, because, thank you progress, I have the resources to opt to not be in a relationship until I want/an appropriate partner shows up and society is making strides in accepting this as a celebrated life. That I, by myself, can be celebrated as a viable option in life. 2016 had some huge chapters close and other, equally significant chapter opens. 2016 was filled with books. Extraordinary books. (and a few duds).

Snapshot

Total books read: 103

Total unique reads: 100 (I read Milk and Honey…a lot)

Total pages read: 23,900

Non fiction: 47

Fiction: 35

Poetry: 16

Graphic Novels: 5

16 Greatest Books of 2016

  1. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  2. Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics by Sasha Cagen
  3. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
  4. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
  5. All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister
  6. The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight
  7. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
  8. The Arrival by Shawn Tan
  9. Maus I by Art Spiegelman
  10. Maus II by Art Spiegelman
  11. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
  12. The Girls by Emma Cline
  13. And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
  14. Whiskey and a Shovel II by R.H. Sin
  15. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  16. Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook

Transitioning into 2017 my main goal in reading (and in general) is listening to and tuning into the rhythm of my life and trying to enjoy the moments more and less about pushing through to a goal. I am so goal driven that for the first time, maybe ever, I have no resolutions beyond the broad one of enjoying and savoring life more. In reading I made my yearly goal 28 books, which isn’t a number that will challenge me, but I hope setting the goal lower will allow me to pick up books I have on my shelf that I haven’t picked up because they’re too long or too challenging.

I hope your first moments and day in 2017 are beautiful and calm.

Sending light and love! ❤

 

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