I've gotta be honest, friends, because that's what I do here: this week has sucked. I really haven't been feeling fueled up, I've been feeling like if I get through the day without telling anyone to fuck off, then I deserve many pretty things and glasses of pinot. But bad weeks pass. And even in bad weeks, there are good things. The good things I want to talk about this week are scarves, deep breathing, and the book You are a Badass. We're covering a wide spectrum here. Buckle up.
Fall has arrived, so scarves can officially be worn, and I LOVE scarves. All fall fashion, really--give me scarves and boots or give me death. Plus they can be wrapped around me like a blanket when the oppressive climate control at work is gettin' me down.
Chewy is a fickle little pickle--if I try to take a photo of him he will NOT have it (he can be laying on me for an hour, but the second I try to take a selfie he's like, "I'm out.") But if I'm trying to take photos without him, he's like, "Hey! Mom! Give me some attention!" That poor dog really needs some grooming, we've let him develop so many dreadlocks he's starting to look homeless. Plus he's taken to chewing off patches of his fur (not the dreadlocked parts, annoyingly) so that's really not helping the aesthetic. But, I digress. Moving on.
II. Deep Breathing
At the risk of this blog becoming little more than live coverage of The Living Experiment podcast, I'm going to tell you that this idea came from The Living Experiment. Dallas and Pilar were talking about the fact that you can reduce stress hormones and slow your heart rate, essentially stopping a stress response, if you breathe in for a few beats, hold that breath for a few beats, and then breathe out for longer than you breathed in. So, something like: breathe in for four counts, hold for six counts, breathe out for eight counts. I've been using this a lot lately, either when I feel myself tensing up or when I just want to consciously set a calm vibe for myself, like on my morning commute. Just two or three breaths will do it. I also used this technique when my flight home from Boston last week hit severe turbulence, dropped unexpectedly, and everyone on the plane screamed. I'm not having a panic attack, you're having a panic attack. I'm breathing. And gripping my seat and listening to Justin Bieber. It's fine. Everyone's fine.
III. You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
This book was recommended to me as personal development by my Beachbody crew, and I just started it last night. It's awesome. She writes in exactly the way I love (true, striking, and also funny). The book is pretty well-described by its cover: it's about believing in yourself and living your best life. It's definitely self-helpy, but not cheesy, so I love it. Here's one of my favorite passages so far:
"I have a friend who's a professional speaker. She's the kind of person who is so articulate, so powerful and bright and naturally captivating, that she could be standing at the counter, ordering a burrito and I'd get all teary-eyed: 'That's right! No refried beans! You heard the woman!' So imagine my surprise when, after one of her talks, she plunked herself down next to me and demanded to know how boring it was. I have gorgeous friends who think they're hideous looking, brilliant clients who one moment think they're God's gift to mankind and the next need to be talked off the ledge of self-proclaimed ineptitude, and an entrepeneurial neighbor who can't decide if she's a financial powerhouse or if she's about to cause her family to start living underneath a bridge. Self-perception is a zoo."
She goes on to talk about how we're never surprised when our phenomenal friends go out and do something phenomenal, but for some reason we don't give ourselves the same credit. We don't get any benefit of the doubt. She suggests to try seeing yourself through the eyes of someone who admires and believes in you, to try to stop wasting so much time and energy picking yourself apart. Ok, is that not great?? And it's funny, and quick to read. Buy this one.
That's all I've got for you this week, but you never know what next week may hold! OH! Also. Last week I posted about the concept of managing your energy, and energizing vs. depleting tasks, and I decided I wanted to share that concept more deeply and connect with some of my friends and internet stranger-friends about it. So, I'm running a little online workshop next week, Monday-Friday, to do exactly that. It's going to happen through a private Facebook group, I'll share a little bit of content every day and then there will be some interaction with the group, but it can all be done on your own time and won't take more than 15 minutes a day. And it's totally free! If you're interested, you can head on over to Cocoa and Cotton's page on Facebook and comment on that post or send me a message. And actually, if you like the blog and aren't already following the Facebook page, I post a lot more content there and on Instagram (@happy_healthy_hannaloraine) that you may like. Alright, that's really it.
Ok, we need to talk about short weeks. They are harder than full weeks. I don't know why, but it's true. And here we are at Thursday already and I sat down to blog and I have so many feelings and so many things to write about. So we're going straight to Fueled Up Friday, because it's basically Friday and that's the only format that will accommodate all of these different topics. And next week, there will be more blog posts because I'll be back on my game. Let's just start with the weekend and work our way forward.
I. Visiting Friends
We spent one of the three days in last weekend in Rochester, visiting a friend from college and her husband. Dan and I are lucky to have a lot of close friends, and catching up with them for dinner and drinks always recharges our batteries. Especially when we go to lovely restaurants that serve things like this board. The pear jam was so freaking good (with/on/in-and-around all of the meats and cheeses) that I'm going to have to figure out how to make it and post the recipe this fall (you should be excited for that, because it is YUM.) Plus, our friends have a new puppy so Chewy had a playmate and came home exhausted, which is such a cherry on top.
II. Wild Alaskan Salmon
It's the time of year where you can buy wild Alaskan salmon in your local grocery stores, and everyone should be doing that. I made two beautiful, huge fillets this week and ate the leftovers for lunch. The salmon was melt-in-your-mouth tender, which I sometimes have trouble achieving, but I think I've finally figured out the right temperature and time combo.
Here's what worked: Preheat your oven to 425. Rinse salmon,* pat dry, and set on cookie sheet skin-side down (I like to use tin foil for easy cleanup). Our favorite glaze is one part mustard to one part maple syrup with a splash of rice wine vinegar (about 1/4 cup each maple and mustard, whatever mustard you like) spread that over the salmon and sprinkle with fresh rosemary. The other filet just has avocado oil and salt. Bake for 20 minutes and put your broiler on for the last three-ish. Let it rest for a few minutes and then use a spatula to separate the skin from the bottom.
*A friend pointed out to me that you don't actually need to rinse salmon, because it just spreads bacteria around your kitchen and any bacteria that's on the salmon is killed when you cook it. I laughed out loud when I read her comment, because I am ALWAYS telling Dan that exact thing about chicken, but it never occurred to me to apply that knowledge to salmon. I did sort of think you needed to pat it dry to get the crispy outside, though...I'm honestly not sure. But I did rinse and dry these guys, and they were delicious.
III. Love Warrior
Phew. Friends. You likely already know by now how much I love Glennon Doyle Melton (and her first book, Carry On, Warrior, and her facebook posts, and her blog, and her facebook live videos...) and I've been looking forward to Love Warrior's release since more than six months ago, when I ordered this signed copy WHICH ARRIVED TODAY. But the book was released Tuesday and obviously I've waited long enough, so I downloaded the audio book and binge-listened to it Tuesday and Wednesday. I had already started listening a second time through when I finally got the hard copy in my hands.
The book is excellent--it's really raw, and really heavy, and really densely packed with truth. You should read it. Probably more than once.
IV. Mantra Bands
I ordered this lovely little bracelet online and it's giving me so much joy. It's thin and pretty and it says "Have Courage and Be Kind." I actually think Mantra Bands might be the answer to preventing myself from getting more tattoos, because I want nothing more than to tattoo all the wisdom on myself but maybe I could just wear it on these pretty bangley bracelets instead. I think I'm going to order "Be Still and Know" next, but I'm debating between sticking with the silver color or adding a yellow or rose gold to the stack. Also, I'll probably still get another tattoo.
See how I snuck Chewy in there? Didn't even see him coming. I'm tricky like that.
V. 30 Days of Shakeology!
This week I hit thirty days of drinking Shakeology, and I'm a total believer. No one is more shocked about this than me. In thirty days, I've had not ONE upset stomach from the shakes (I had a few sort-of-upset-stomachs from other things, like too much cheese, but even those were few and far between). I've never been able to take a protein supplement without stomach issues before. And this one is a delicious afternoon treat that I look forward to every day. I've gained a noticeable amount of muscle between drinking the shakes and doing the 21 Day Fix Extreme workouts (I especially love the weights-focused workouts, and have been thrilled with the results) which is AWESOME. "Gain muscle" has been on my to-do list for...years. I'm truly terrible at consistent weight training. Beachbody may have solved this problem for me. Can I get a hallelujah??
Super strong flexing pictures to come, probably.
Aaaaalright, that's enough for one Friday. Does that almost make up for the fact that there were no other posts this week? Almost sort of? Love you.
Happy Wednesday, cats and kittens! I’m still feeling pretty great after spending the laziest weekend up at a cabin with Dan’s cousins. Buying a cabin is a huge goal of ours, because there’s something so relaxing about heading into the woods for the weekend that you just can’t get in the city. Even if we have a weekend at home without much to do, getting away from your normal surroundings just recharges you in a different way. And this weekend was the perfect picture of laziness—sleeping in, naps, and reading. I did go for a run one day, but even that had a lot more walking than normal. It was great.
I finished the book I was reading on Saturday afternoon, and it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write a reading post for a while—I have some good ones for you guys. And I just learned that one of them is coming out as a movie! So get it while it’s hot. Plus, it’s the last day of August so if I’m going to post an August Reading List, time is really of the essence.
The Butterfly Garden
Ok, this one is a little weird. Let’s just start there. But I really couldn’t put it down. It’s about a man who kidnaps teenaged girls and keeps them in a compound with an incredible garden, and tattoos butterfly wings on their backs. So, if that premise is too much for you, go ahead and move on, but if you’re not totally turned off then you absolutely have to read this one. Yes, the subject matter is disturbing, but the book isn’t overly gross or gratuitous and the story is really captivating. Highly recommend.
That Old Cape Magic
This is the one I finished on Saturday—it wasn’t as consuming as The Butterfly Garden or What Was Mine, but it was still well-written and thought-provoking. It’s about a man looking back on his life, really—mostly his professor parents and his relationship with them, but also his marriage and his family. It’s framed by two weddings, happening in nearby locations a year apart from each other. I would read the other books on this list first, but I would recommend this one if you’re looking for something new.
What Was Mine
This book was so interesting and enthralling. It centers around a woman kidnapping an infant from an Ikea and raising the baby as her own. It’s told from many different perspectives—the woman who took the child, the child herself, the parents whose baby was taken, family members, coworkers, even the nanny. And it has my favorite quality in a book: deeply human, three-dimensional characters who make you think about people in new ways. So, yeah. I’ll recommend any book that does that.
The Light Between Oceans
Thanks to the satellite television at the cabin, I learned this book is coming soon to theaters near you! We don’t have regular television channels (because we have Netflix and Hulu and I haven’t taken the time to figure out how to make our TV have any more than that) so I likely wouldn’t have known about this movie until it was actually IN theaters, but for the cabin television. So, if you’re going to read the book, it would seem now is the time. This is actually another book about people ending up with kids who aren’t theirs—that’s an odd trend here. The Light Between Oceans is about a lighthouse keeper and his wife, and a baby that washes up on their little island in a boat. The imagery in this book is really beautiful—the descriptions of the lighthouse and the island and the characters are all very vivid, and the exploration of this odd human experience is really well-done. I didn’t love this one nearly as much as What Was Mine, but hey—Hollywood. So. There you have it.
I’ve been going through a lot more books since I made it a habit to read a little bit before bed each night—maybe only 20 minutes, but it really adds up! Have any good recommendations for me?? Leave them in the comments!
Good morning, lovelies! How are you today? I hope you're basking in the sunshine and drinking coffee.
When I started this blog, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to write about (or maybe it's more accurate to say I worried that I wanted to write about ALL of the things, and that the blog would just become a scattered mess. That might have happened, but it no longer concerns me.) But one thing I didn't think about was how often I'd want to write about books I was reading, because I want to enjoy the great writing that's enriching my days. So, thanks to my dear friend Jenny (who can be considered a co-creator of this blog for all the good tips she's given along the way) I went back through my older posts and added a "reading" category, so you can easily locate book suggestions if you find yourself in search of your next great read. And, today I'm going to talk about some of my favorite books of all time, plus a few that I've read lately. Because summertime and reading go together like...mornings and coffee. (If you can't tell, I just finished my coffee and I'm a little sad about it. Sorry you had to come along on that ride.)
Books for Summertime (Or really....anytime.)
I. Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert
I'm not going to include Eat, Pray, Love on this list because I assume everyone on the planet has already gotten the memo on that one, but if you enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert's voice in that book you'll also love Committed. What I loved about this book was its thoughtful examination of the institution of marriage--both historically in Western culture and looking at other cultures around the world--woven in with Gilbert's lovable story-telling about her own preparation for marriage. I've read this book a handful of times, and I think it's an important one. If you don't love Liz Gilbert and you don't love thinking critically about social institutions...move along.
II. Bread and Butter, by Michelle Wildgen
I read this book over a year ago and will admit that I don't remember the plot terribly clearly, but what I do remember is the rich, beautiful language the author uses to describe the food and the characters. I read this novel on the bus going to and from work at the law firm, and I always had a hard time putting it down. It will also inspire you to seek out more interesting and delicious meals, which is a plus for me.
III. Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty.
I've written before about how much I love Liane Moriarty's work, but this list wouldn't be complete without including her again. I realized recently why I love her books so much: she's got so much talent in creating characters who you feel close to, that her books make me understand humans better. You know when you have a friend that goes through something, and by observing that situation in someone you're close to, you understand it better? That's how I feel about her stories. They make me think about complex emotional experiences in ways I couldn't imagine on my own, and I'm always left thinking about her characters for weeks after I finish the novel.
IV. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
Do you need to laugh until you cry? This is your book. It's a quick one (I read it on a plane ride) but it is belly-aching hilarious. It's a collection of quote and stories curated by a twenty-something guy, about things his father has said and done. If you need a lighthearted mood-lifter, buy this one.
V. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
After finishing My Grandmothe Asked Me To Tell you She's Sorry (another excellent novel by Backman) I turned to A Man Called Ove. Backman is a captivating writer who has the "it" factor that makes you want to keep reading and reading, and this book did not disappoint. It's about an elderly man named Ove, who's a little bit of a curmudgeon. I don't want to give away much more than that, but trust me on this one--it's worth your time.
VI. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I'll be honest: this is objectively a fantastic book. The writing is excellent, the plot is well-constructed, and the World War II setting is both beautiful and terrifying in equal measure. Did you sense the "but" coming? Here it is: this book is a little dense. I tend to gravitate towards writing that's easy for me to consume--I love to sit down and read 100 pages of a book at a time, and I dislike books where I have to re-read paragraphs two or three times in the first ten pages, until I acclimate to the language. As you can tell from my style of writing on this blog, I prefer to read (and write) like I speak. So this book is going on the list because it's excellent--it really is. Once I got used to the writing style I truly loved it, and I'm sure you won't be disappointed (plus, if my other suggestions are not your style, this one might be more your speed). But if you're looking for something light and quick and easy, this isn't your jam.
That's all for today--I'd love to hear your recommendations for books I should read! I'm adding to my collection every week or two these days and making a point of reading every night before bed, so suggestions are gladly accepted!
You guys--last night, Glennon came to town and it was just as good as I hoped it would be. If you haven't heard me rave about Glennon Doyle Melton (and her blog Momastery, and her book Carry On Warrior) you can acquaint yourself with my fangirl-ness in this post. But, more importantly, you should just acquaint yourself with Glennon, because she is the freaking best. So, last night I drove myself to East Ridge High School in Woodbury along with a thousand other women to geek out over this wise and insightful soul packaged in a pixie-sized body, wearing cowboy boots. I mean, come on.
I am sometimes disappointed to hear my favorite authors speak, because their voice or tone doesn't match what I heard in my mind when I read their work. But G is a truly talented speaker, and hearing her tell her story in person wasn't disappointing in any way. There were several stories and ideas she shared that really struck me, but the one I want to share happened right at the end of the night. At the very end, the floor was open for people to walk up to microphones near the stage and ask questions. And the last question was something like this: "Glennon, I know that you have a very strong Christian faith, and I'm wondering how you maintain that faith while still having a very liberal outlook and being accepting of people who are living in opposition to Christian views." And Glennon laughed and threw her head back and slid into her chair and said, "That question is so telling. I love that question. 'How are you a Christian and you still love people?'" And everyone laughed, and she went on to say that she loves Jesus ("I mean, I worship the guy") and that one of the many things she loves about Jesus is that he spent his time on earth finding the people who power has forgotten and religion is leaving out, and he "took all of those people and said, 'let's have dinner. You are my favorites.'" And in Jesus' time, those people were lepers and prostitutes and tax collectors, but these days you might find they're refugees, and the LGBT community, and addicts. And Glennon explained that she wants to have dinner with those people, and she wants them to cook. And more than anything, she explained, the trick is that you need to get close to the people that you think of as "other" because the point of true Christianity is that there is no other. (I'll pause here to say that I don't really consider myself a Christian, but I am wholeheartedly on board with this brand of Christianity and I endorse this idea completely.) And in order to realize that there is no other, there is only us, and we, one needs to get close to the people that one fears. Because if you actually get close to someone that you fear and you don't understand, it becomes much easier to love them. And to see them as similar to yourself. As part of the us, instead of part of the them. And for Glennon, the people that she fears the most are conservative Christians and she's noticed that God keeps pushing more of those people toward her so she can try to fear them less. (Amen, sister. Amen, amen, amen.) I may have blown her some kisses at that point, I really can't say for sure.
So, I love Glennon. Easily, and without reservation. And I'll work on loving the woman who felt the need to ask her that question. What's life without a little challenge?
I'm wishing all of you a wonderful start to your weeks--I have grand aspirations of posting a delicious barbecue meatball recipe in the near future. I made them for friends on Friday night and I've been savoring the leftovers ever since, but I made the mistake of not taking any photos of the recipe. So I'll just have to make them again...what a tragedy.
Love you all.
Escaping into a really great book has been a hallmark of summer since I was a kid. I have great memories of swinging in the hammock in my parents’ backyard on summer afternoons, reading Harry Potter and Pippi Longstocking and everything Roald Dahl ever wrote. And yes, I love reading year-round, but there’s something about summer that just demands a good book. Lucky for you, I’ve found a fantastic one. It’s called My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman. This book manages to combine magical childhood fantasy with poignant and serious moments, all wrapped in a witty and somehow lighthearted package. It’s well-written and honestly difficult to put down—I have to force myself to close the book and turn out the light each night just to avoid falling asleep on my desk the next day. Backman also wrote A Man Called Ove, which is sitting in my mini-library and next up on my reading list. If you’re looking for a lovely book to dive into on your next free afternoon, pick up My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. And then tell me how much you loved it, because you will.
Hi, friends! It’s time for this week’s Fueled Up Friday. I loved hearing everyone’s reactions to last week’s post, and I think this series is a keeper. Up this week: springtime in Minneapolis, burpees, and Jeffrey Toobin's book about the OJ Simpson trial.
1. Springtime in Minneapolis
The warm weather is upon us! This week was in the sixties and felt amazing, so that in itself filled me with happiness. But what's really fun about spring in the frozen tundra is the euphoria that overtakes the entire Twin Cities. Seriously--last Sunday it was sunny and beautiful, and driving past Lake Calhoun and through Uptown to get to our house I a) almost hit like fifteen pedestrians because the place was swarming with people, and everyone was just walkin into the street willy nilly, and b) noticed that literally every single person I saw was smiling or laughing. You would have thought you had accidentally wandered into a very popular street festival, but you would have been wrong. That's just the kind of joy that overtakes this city when the warm weather comes. It's the best people watching of the year--every shape, size, color, and style of person you can imagine is just out in the world letting their light shine. Can't be grumpy on a day like that.
The warmer weather also means new outfits have become available! I do NOT like to be cold (great choice to live in Minnesota, I KNOW) so in the winter I really bundle up. All the layers, all of the exposed skin must be covered. So when outfits like this become an option again, I am a happy girl.
Also, can I just say that I like sharing outfit pictures because I like outfits, but I hate taking photos because I can’t figure out what to do with my face, and I’m considering just making this expression in every picture from here on out?
Would you still love me if I did that with my face? Maybe we'll find out.
Burpees are a move that the fitness world loves to hate. Almost every fitness expert cites the burpee as one of the best full-body moves you can do, and simultaneously all the fitness junkies are like "oh NO, burpees, save me! Spare me! Puh-lease!" So, I'll be the first to admit that I've never really done these until recently. Mostly because they involve a push up in the middle, and I find those to be hard enough on their own, let alone sandwiched between some squatting and jumping business. For those of you who are like "WTF is a burpee Hanna, you've lost me already" watch this YouTube video.
So, recently I've been pinning some quick home strength workouts to try to switch it up, and one of my favorites involves this circuit: 5 burpees, 10 squats, 5 burpees, 10 lunges (each side), 5 burpees, 15 sit ups. You repeat that as many times as you can in 20 minutes (or, if you are me, you do it two or three times and then collapse, without looking at how long it took you). I've noticed a few things: 1) burpees are really hard. That reputation is well-earned. 2) I like them. First because they really wear me out and I feel the work in my whole body in a really short amount of time, which is so efficient, and second because I've noticed myself getting better at them really quickly, and that's the most gratifying part of working out. 3) I think they're really helping tone my arms! Hooray for that! I've been trying to integrate more burpees and more planks because they are both simple, fast, whole-body toning moves and I'm starting to notice the benefits.
3. The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin
Word on the street is that this book has been turned into a TV series on FX, and I bet that series is awesome but I wouldn't know because we can't keep a television alive longer than a few months in our house. No joke, after having a dead TV in our living room for close to a year, we finally bought a new one on black Friday and broke it a few weeks ago when it jumped off its TV stand, to its death. So I'm reading this book instead of watching the series, and I think that's probably for the best.
I love a good crime story, and the OJ trial is obviously a legendary story. But, having been in the first grade when the trial happened, all I remember about the trial is that the day the verdict came back my first grade teacher made all the kids sit quietly on the carpet square in the corner while she and the teacher's aid listened to the radio across the room to hear the jury's decision. So, I'm learning about it for the first time and I can't put this book down. If I'm being honest, this book was the opposite of fuel for me this week, because it caused me to stay up too late several nights because I couldn't stop reading. But those are the best kinds of books, so it goes on the list.
Happy Friday, friends! We made it! I hope you all had lovely weeks, and I'll be back next week with some recipes--there was a recipe shortage this week because I had SO MANY other things I wanted to talk about! And also because I kept accidentally eating cheese and crackers for dinner.
Happy Friday, everyone! I'm trying something new this week--skipping the weekly workout log on Wednesday and instead swapping in a new kind of post that I'm going to try out the next few Fridays. The idea behind Fueled Up Fridays is taking a look at the things that kept me energized and excited throughout the week--this is a good reflection tool for me, and will hopefully give you some ideas for new things to try, too. This week, I'm talking about three things (and it was hard to narrow the field, because this was a really good week!): Glennon Doyle Melton, The Women's Strength Summit, and finally unpacking my clothes at the new house.
I. Glennon Doyle Melton (and specifically her book, Carry On, Warrior)
I first became familiar with Glennon because friends of mine on Facebook were liking her posts and every one I read was so profoundly true, and stripped down, and loving, and right (and funny, on top of all of that) that I finally started following her myself. I am completely in love with this woman's soul. For context, Glennon is a recovering alcoholic and drug user whose life changed drastically and quickly when she found herself pregnant at 26 (which was also the moment that she stopped drinking and using drugs). She married her husband, the father of her children, whom she had been dating for a while but had known for "ten sober nights" when they tied the knot. She is now a mother of three, still married to that man, and the best kind of Christian (who, you know, is most interested in forgiveness and loving others....like Jesus.) Her writing cuts to the heart of being human in a way that is frankly difficult to describe. But please, take my word for how magical it is.
Because this world is a wonderful and magical place, Glennon is friends with Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love and Committed, two of my all-time favorite books, and another human who I would like to take squarely by the shoulders and say "You get it, this life thing. Thank you for writing about how much you get it.") Glennon has a new book coming out this summer, and Elizabeth has been talking about how great it is, and I'm DYING to read it, and then this week I learned that Glennon is also coming to the Twin Cities to speak this summer and I immediately scooped up two tickets to see her. Part of the promotion for that event mentioned the book she has already published, Carry On, Warrior, and I immediately bought that book on my Kindle app and started reading it that night. And you guys. This book. It's changing my heart. It's making my life better. It's doing all the best things that art can do for you.
I love Glennon's writing because she is funny and lighthearted and self-deprecating, and in the midst of all of that she says things that are so right on that it actually takes my breath away. There are so many passages in her book that I've highlighted (and I don't ever do that, unless it's by accident because I meant to turn the page but my iPad misunderstood). I knew I wanted to share a passage from the book on my blog, and I had a hard time choosing because there are so many that I love so much. I want to turn this entire book into a poster I can hang on my wall. I want to wallpaper my house in these words. Because I couldn't choose, this is the most recent passage I highlighted, in a chapter about marital struggles:
"I read somewhere that God sends us partners who are most likely to help us heal. This rings true to me. It's just that sometimes the healing is so hard that one or both partners can't take it, so somebody bails, or makes it impossible for the other partner to keep on loving. I understand this completely. Healing is so painful. Thankfully, when we turn away someone who would have helped us heal, God sends another. I don't think he punishes us. He gives us lots and lots of tries. God is Forever Tries. I think He sends our healing partners in all different forms, not just spouses. He sends sisters, girlfriends, strangers, authors, artists, teachers, therapists, musicians, and puppies until one or several partners stick. But if we want redemption, we have to let one stick, eventually. We have to sit through the pain long enough to rise again."
II. The Women's Strength Summit
Another great example of women being their awesome selves this week is a virtual event being put on by Steph Gaudreau (also known for her brand, Stupid Easy Paleo) called the Women's Strength Summit. The Summit started on Tuesday, and there are a handful of amazing and inspirational speakers streaming every day, talking about strength and fitness and confidence and body image. The amazing part is that the summit is free, and the talks are available for three days after they go live. I've been streaming them at home while I do my evening workouts or cook dinner. Each of the talks I've listened to have been thought-provoking and each of the speakers has had a distinct personality and viewpoint that shines through to the listener. What I have really loved is that all of the speakers I've listened to have come across loud and clear as happy, well-adjusted, settled (and yes, strong) women. They are each all of these things in their own way--from the women whose focus is on body image and promoting self-love to the women whose focus is on building muscle and promoting strength training in the female athlete community, they're living different lives and are passionate about different things but they have each clearly found peace and joy in their own health journeys and helping others on their path toward wellness.
I particularly loved Erin Brown's discussion of self-love from the perspective that women feel the need to comment on each other's appearance as an indirect way of focusing on, or avoiding focus on, their own insecurities. Her point was that society approaches women primarily about how we look rather than any other aspect of our selves, but also that women often comment on other women's appearances either in negative ways (often to make yourself feel better--maybe I don't measure up to the standards of perfection, but neither does she) or to make yourself feel worse (if only I could look like she looks, I'm sure everything would be better). The takeaway from that is that focusing on changing how you talk to yourself, or think about yourself, is often really hard, but you can start making meaningful changes by focusing on how you talk about/think about other women. She gave the example of a friend of hers who made a point of picking out something that she liked or could compliment for every single woman she saw--this friend would sit in a public place and think to herself "I really like her shoes. Her walk is so confident. She has really pretty hair." This internal dialogue about other people eventually had an impact on her own negative self-talk, and helped her to be more gentle with herself. More loving. Such a hard thing. I appreciated her take on a different way to approach that shift.
That's just one of many examples of a great and thought-provoking exchange from the Summit--if you're interested in learning more, you can check it out here.
III. Finally Unpacking My Clothes!
We've lived in our house for a month and a half now, but it's really only the last week or two that I've gotten my clothes organized enough to start wearing real outfits (or maybe it's just that I finally have the energy to find the pieces I'm looking for, now that we have a fully functional bathroom and kitchen and I don't have contractors in my house at 7am every day.) In any case, I'm getting back into my normal routine and having fun with getting dressed again. Here are a few pieces I've been wearing on repeat:
1. The Picnic Table Pants
I have a real shortage of non-jean pants that fit me well, so I recently went in search of more and found these at TJ Maxx (they're Cynthia Rowley and they're awesome). When I tried them on I texted a picture to my friend Jenny to ask if they looked too much like a picnic tablecloth, and because she is a great friend she said, "No, I like them!" And the picnic table pants and I lived happily ever after.
2. The Best Blazer There Ever Was
I don't have to wear suits every day anymore (or ever, actually) but I used to wear them, and I've purchased a lot of blazers because of it. This is the best one I've ever owned, and it's from TARGET. Target, you evil genius, you. Are there no limits to what wonderful products you can offer me?!
3. Ankle Boots
We've been enjoying some early spring weather in Minneapolis, which means I've braved showing about two inches of skin between my pants and my ankle boots several times. Ankle boots qualify as perfect shoes in my mind because you can wear socks, they're easy to dress up or down, and they go with jeans, skirts, work pants and dresses equally well. Evil genius shoes, those ankle boots.
That's it for the inaugural edition of Fueled Up Fridays--I hope you all have a great weekend. I'm throwing a bridal shower for one of my best friends on Saturday and going for a run and having post-run brunch with another of my best friends on Sunday, so if you don't grab some fun for yourself I'm going to use it all up. Chewy also wants me to say hello on his behalf. He loves you.
Guys, I am just not ready for it to be Monday. I need another day! Save me. Make it so. Alright--I'm not ready for it, but here we are anyway, so we're soldiering on. Moving forward.
I owe you all a post about what it's like to make a career change that takes you from working all of the hours to just working business hours. It's marinating in my mind and it's going to materialize soon, but it's important context to posts like this one because I recently found myself with a great many more hours in the day. When you're used to working most of your waking moments and instead begin to work only between the hours of 8 and 5 (and only on weekdays!) it's really revolutionary to decide how you're going to fill the new space in your life. I took a new job in August that allowed me that luxury, and this blog is one of the byproducts of that. (Because it would have been really boring if I had written it at my old job. What am I up to this week? Oh, more working. Here's my desk, at all hours of the day. No one wants to read that.) Another byproduct is that I've been reading more. Reading is something I truly love to do, and I'm thrilled to be doing more of it these days. But sometimes I have a hard time choosing my next book, and I thought a post about what I've read and enjoyed lately might be useful if you find yourself in the same position. I'm not going to pretend to do any sort of in-depth book review, but here's a quick look at some books I've read lately that I would recommend.
I just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air today, and I definitely need more time to digest it, but I can wholeheartedly recommend it now. This is not a lighthearted book--it is a heavy, complex book about death, written by a neurosurgeon-neuroscientist-writer who is grappling with his own terminal cancer diagnosis. It is thought-provoking and sad and beautiful and wonderful. Read this if you want to think deeply about the big picture of life and death, and the human experience and how we relate to each other.
Our Souls at Night is a completely different look at the later stages of life. It's about two elderly people who live in a small town, and whose spouses have passed away, and their choice to spend their nights together (sleeping in the same bed, because they miss companionship). It's a quick read, and an enjoyable glimpse into a time that people don't often write about or talk about--the years when children are grown, and spouses and friends have passed away.
The Hypnotist's Love Story is the last of Liane Moriarty's books that I had not read, and honestly I resisted reading it until the end because the title sounded absurd to me (I didn't want to like a book with that title). But, I really did like it. If you haven't read anything by Liane Moriarty, I highly, highly recommend her. Her story lines can be a bit chic-lit-y, but her writing is excellent and she has a superb ability to capture complex humanity in her characters. I've thought back on her characters and stories after finishing her books often, and always feel like her writing makes me consider aspects of the human experience that I hadn't connected with before. That, and I can never put her books down.
Single, Carefree, Mellow is a collection of short stories, all of which I wished had been full-blown novels because I finished each one wanting to know more. This is another one that gives you brief glimpses of people in all variety of complicated relationships and situations, this time in bite-sized pieces. It's another fairly quick read, and you could easily set it down and pick it back up again between stories if you're the type that has a hard time finishing a novel.
Happy reading! And Happy Monday! We can do this.