Review 61

birthofpillThe Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched A Revolution by Jonathan Eig

I could barely put it down!! This was an incredibly interesting and well-researched exposé on the birth control pill. I have a newfound appreciation for the unprecedented role it’s played in shaping women’s history and freedom of choice…No other invention has had a comparable impact on women’s lives. Highly recommended.

 

howtobeHow to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life by Ruth Goodman

I absolutely loved Ruth’s detailed and in-depth descriptions of Victorian life. She has LIVED it, as well, having tried out many of the household tasks and recipes used in the 1800s. Engaging and fascinating, as it goes beyond the grinding daily tasks into the cultural and social history of the time. I don’t think I’ve never been so grateful to live in 2016.

 

egoenemyEgo is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

This was an extremely thought-provoking book. Highly recommended for all humans.

 

doyouromDo Your Om Thing: Bending Yoga Tradition to Fit your Modern Life by Rebecca Pachecho

I wish I’d read this when I started doing yoga 8 years ago, but I’m so glad I found it now that I’m diving deeper into the history and postures during my time off work. Rebecca offers an incredibly approachable and secular voice in the yoga world. Sure, there’s still some chakra talk, but compared to the other yoga books I tried to read this month (not including them here for your sake and sanity), this was far and away the best. I went back and read the whole thing again as soon as I finished it, and I even took notes. This doesn’t happen often. Top pick for any current or future yogi!!

 

becoming-veganBecoming Vegan: The Everyday Guide to Plant-based Nutrition by Brenda Davis

Having been vegan since June, this book was super helpful for fleshing out the vitamins and nutrients needed to stay healthy. Luckily, we’ve been doing most things correctly! Lots of recipes and straight-forward science explaining the importance of a balanced fridge and the long-term positives of a plant-based diet.

 

harrypotterHarry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two by Jack Thorne

Once you get used to the style (it’s a play so the whole thing is dialogue), this was actually really good. Funny and likable new characters, and the essence of the original players was still intact. Fast and engaging read, with lots of plot twists and action. I hope the production comes through Seattle eventually!

 

shynessShyness: A Bold New Approach : Managing your Shyness at Work, Making Small Talk, Navigating Social Situations, Parenting A Shy Child by Bernardo Carducci

This book had some great reminders and exercises. About half of humans describe themselves as “shy,” but it’s merely a personality trait and not an inherited disease…Like any habit, it can be warped and improved. I’m committed to making more of an effort in this area during these months of not working, especially since it feels so comforting and natural for me to work alone at home. Gotta keep those social skills sharp!

 

playing-deadPlaying Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud by Elizabeth Greenwood

This is a great read for anyone who’s considered the repercussions and logistics of faking their own death. Or, just dreamt about starting a new life somewhere else. Haven’t we all? Elizabeth delves deep into these questions and successfully fakes her own death (just for the purposes of this book). She talks to experts in investigation and enforcement, as well as to success stories and failures. A bit rough around the edges writing and structure-wise, but overall an absolutely fascinating book.

 

artofwomanThe Art of Being a Woman: A Simple Guide to Everyday Love and Laughter by Veronique Vienne

This felt forced; I couldn’t relate to it. Or maybe I’m just not old enough to appreciate it yet…?

 

in-other-wordsIn Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

I absolutely love Lahiri’s writing, but this particular subject just didn’t strike a chord with me. She commits to becoming fluent in Italian and moves there after being struck by its beauty and culture. Definitely an admirable and ambitious feat. But it felt more like a very long opinion piece than a book meant for public consumption.

 

21002100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses by Daniel Lacerda

“Mr. Yoga” is about as pretentious as you’d expect him to be (in particular, look for the page with him shirtless explaining ‘chakras’), but this is a beautiful book. Very well-designed and expertly photographed. However, it includes about 1,000 more postures than I needed to see. Many of them were just variations or advanced versions of current postures. I would’ve preferred an in-depth discussion of correct postural alignment vs. scantily clad gymnasts posing in positions the normal human will never reach. But that’s just me.

 

leavemeLeave Me by Gayle Forman

Completely unlikable protagonist. Zero takeaways. It’s unclear to me why this book is so popular right now…can someone enlighten me?

 

sorrynotSorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up by Naya Rivera

Sadly, this was about as trashy and poorly written as I expected. Also, anyone writing a memoir before they turn 30 should probably be turned away by publishers. But it was nice to reflect on the glory days of Glee!

 

Ultimate Book Review: #50!

The day has come, my friends.  After much deliberating and listing (I sorted through 591 books), I’ve chosen my top 5 in each category.  The full list is here, but the winners are below.


NON-FICTION

PSYCHOLOGICAL

  1. The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
  2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  3. The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine Aron
  4. Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame by Ty Burr
  5. The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience by Kent Kiehl

LOVE / SEX

  1. Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan
  2. Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both by Laura Sessions Stepp
  3. Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic + the Domestic by Esther Perel
  4. Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Bering
  5. The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love by Ty Tashiro

HEALTH

  1. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
  2. Cheating Destiny: Living with Diabetes, America’s Biggest Epidemic by James Hirsch
  3. Think Like a Pancreas: A Practical Guide to Managing Diabetes with Insulin by Gary Scheiner
  4. Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  5. The New Rules of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle by Lou Schuler

FUNERALS / DEATH

  1. The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade by Thomas Lynch
  2. Grave Matters: Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to A Natural Way of Burial by Mark Harris
  3. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
  4. The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford
  5. Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

CLOTHES / MONEY

  1. Overdressed:  The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline
  2. The New eBay: The Official Guide To: Buying, Selling, Running A Profitable Business by Todd Alexander
  3. Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World by Mark Ellwood
  4. I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi
  5. Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture by Juliet Schor

LIFE / JOB DEVELOPMENT

  1. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  2. The Defining Decade: Why your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay
  3. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
  4. Die Empty: Unleash your Best Work Every Day by Todd Hendy
  5. Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields

TECHNOLOGY / FUTURE

  1. Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Dating by Dan Slater
  2. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle
  3. Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by Christian Rudder
  4. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd
  5. Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in A World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin

ENVIRONMENT / PLANET / SCIENCE

  1. Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China by Bianca Bosker
  2. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
  3. The Price of Inequality by Joseph Stiglitz
  4. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  5. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

FAMILY / SOCIAL

  1. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior
  2. The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley
  3. When Partners Become Parents: The Big Life Change for Couples by Carolyn Cowan
  4. Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar
  5. Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have It All by Sharing It All: and Why It’s Great for your Marriage, your Career, your Kids, and You by Sharon Meers

FICTION

ROMANTIC COMEDY

  1. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  2. How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper
  3. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  4. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  5. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

FAMILY

  1. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
  3. Family Happiness by Laurie Colwin
  4. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  5. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

GREAT CHARACTERS

  1. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  2. Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin
  3. Bel Canto by Anne Patchett
  4. Ape House by Sara Gruen
  5. Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

MARRIAGE

  1. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
  2. Lies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitfield Thomson
  3. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
  4. I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum
  5. Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

FRIENDSHIP

  1. The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
  2. Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro
  3. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
  4. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
  5. The World Without You by Joshua Henkin

HISTORICAL-ish

  1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  2. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  3. This Side of Brightness by Colum McCann
  4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  5. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

FAKE MEMOIR

  1. Little Bee by Christopher Cleave
  2. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  3. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  4. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  5. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

OTHER

  1. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
  2. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
  3. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
  4. Green Girl by Kate Zambreno
  5. Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw

COMING OF AGE

  1. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  2. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
  3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  4. The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
  5. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

SHORT STORIES / POETRY

  1. Come to Me by Amy Bloom
  2. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  3. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  4. The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum
  5. The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison

COMEDY

  1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  2. Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  3. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  4. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
  5. Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest by Jen Doll

MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY

SPECIFIC EVENTS

  1. Columbine by Dave Cullen
  2. History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life by Jill Bialosky
  3. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer
  4. Blood Will Out: The True Story of A Murder, A Mystery, and A Masquerade by Walter Kirn
  5. Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art by Carl Hoffman

EXPERIMENTS / TRAINING

  1. A Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
  2. The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists by Neil Strauss
  3. Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
  4. The Death Class: A True Story about Life by Erika Hayasaki
  5. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in A Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

SPECIFIC INDIVIDUALS

  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  2. Ted Bundy: The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
  3. I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
  4. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
  5. The Art of Asking: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

CHANGING IT UP: CRISIS EDITION

  1. This Far and No More: A True Story by Andrew Malcolm
  2. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
  3. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  4. Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff
  5. The Other Side: A Memoir by Lacy Johnson

LIFE AS…

  1. Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
  2. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
  3. With or Without You: A Memoir by Domenica Ruta
  4. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
  5. Redeployment by Phil Klay

GRAPHIC / ALTERNATIVE NOVELS

  1. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
  2. Blankets: An Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson
  3. Ant Colony by Michael DeForge
  4. Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton
  5. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

YOUNG ADULT

  1. The Future of Us by Jay Asher
  2. The Hunger GamesCatching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  3. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  4. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  5. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

SCIFI / SURREALISM / DYSTOPIAS

  1. A Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

HISTORICAL

  1. Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
  2. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
  3. The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London by Judith Flanders
  4. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  5. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

ROMANTIC

  1. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  2. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
  3. I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum
  4. The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
  5. Euphoria by Lily King

RANDOM

  1. A Happy Man by Hansjörg Schertenleib
  2. The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindogu by Kenji Kawakami
  3. Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You A Better Friend to your Pet by John Bradshaw
  4. The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do — and How to Get Them to Do What You Want by Mieshelle Nagelschneider
  5. A History of Graphic Design by Philip Meggs

THRILLER / MYSTERY

  1. Heartsick by Chelsea Cain
  2. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
  3. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
  4. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
  5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

 

Thanks, as always, for reading and being a part of this blog.  It has brought so much joy to my life, and I hope it’s inspired some of you to try out new books!!   xoxo

New 2013 Hobby – Nail Stamping!

I spent last night watching Pocahontas and trying my hand at (ha!) nail stamping a second time. So….my punishment is to write the Girliest Thothy Blog Post yet. I discovered this new fad while visiting my local bead store representative, who had the coolest nails I’d ever seen. She described nail stamping as screen printing for your nails…Intrigued. I usually don’t paint my fingernails because it comes off within a day. BUT at least you feel really beautiful that day. And man, today I felt beautiful.


20130124_070542DSCN107720130124_073155DSCN1074DSCN1087

To look like me, you will need:

  • Konad Nail Stamping Kit – I got Set B. Includes stamper, scraper, 3 konad polishes (you can’t use normal nail polish for the images), and 4 image plates (28 images)
  • If you’re bored like I was with the image plates in Konad’s starter kit, head to Bundle Monster on Amazon for a set. This was my favorite and MAN they are awesome!!!!
  • Paper towels and acetone … luckily I’m well stocked on that after making the wine bottle collages this summer
  • Professional-ish top coat (Wet n’ Wild is not going to cut it) – I splurged on the world’s best top coat, Seche Vite. And yes, I researched that. Nail stamping brings out my girly side.

That’s it! The process is pretty basic and honestly the learning curve is less steep than the internet suggests. Definitely do it on a flat surface, as the stamping and scraping part requires some stability.

First, paint your nails with normal colored polish. I was told that putting a layer of top coat on before the nail polish helps it last longer (thanks Em!). While you’re waiting for them to dry, pick out the images you want to stamp. I did different ones for each nail, because there are so many to choose from! I love options.

Make sure the plastic is peeled off from the metal plate. Then choose your Konad nail polish color and paint a little of it over the engraved image…PRO TIP: don’t plop a ton on – this video was really helpful when I was having difficulties on my first trial round.

Quickly scrape across the image to get the excess polish off (this is where the paper towels come in handy). Then use the mini stamper to literally stamp across the painted image. Then, yep, stamp it across your nail! It’s that easy.

Once they are dry, paint the top coat over to protect your masterpiece.

Please come join me! I have plenty of supplies. Boyfriend and cat are uninterested :(

DSCN1081

rejected by Princess Tibby the First

 

Putting gundams together is so last year. Not really – a post about that to come…

DSCN1092

my first gundam :)

Coming Back to Center

For those of you who have played tennis (and were actually learning from a good instructor), you’ll remember that after each stroke, you must come back to ‘center’  … not just the middle line of the court, but also with your body. Your feet are in a wide, solid, confident stance; your hands one on top of the other on your racket, which is now centered with its head facing the net; and you are bouncing on your toes, ready to run in whichever direction your opponent chooses. The shots you make after being in center zing off the heart of your strings, stimulating and exhilarating, boosting your energy to return to the middle for the next shot. If you don’t enforce this “come back to the center” rule, you quickly learn how difficult it is to prepare for the next stroke, and find yourself panting while pounding back and forth across the court, vulnerable to the evil will of your partner as they take advantage of those open spaces.

This photo is with cousins at the SLC Tennis Club in 2000, where I first learned to play tennis. I'm on the far right, tensed up and ready to dive!

It’s a decent metaphor for this time of year. I have to “come back to center” after every yoga pose as well, putting my full physical and mental energy into each posture and then forcing myself to relax (no fidgeting either!) immediately afterwards. Sometimes I’m pleased to make lists in my head while also earning recognition from the instructors during class – it feels like some minor success, to balance multiple things at once and get away with it. But it’s a detriment to myself and my growth, by wrongly celebrating the negative space that I’m allowing to be filled with planning and worrying. I’m not fooling anyone by pretending I can still master my volley shots on the tennis court when I’m out of breath from running back and forth just to keep the ball moving. There’s a glazed look in my eyes in the mirror at yoga when I’m not really focusing on locking my knee in Dandayamana JanuShirasana. There’s a stillness that comes from centering that can’t be forged. Coming back to center means letting those negative thoughts go, and focusing completely on self-improvement, on the moment.

For me, centering also comes in the form of friendship and family. I feel at peace when I’m around people that I love, people that I can be myself around. It’s like a form of therapy. I am blessed to have so many close friends and such an incredibly supportive and understanding family. With the impending new year, it’s even more important to give ourselves time to ‘come back’ to center and appreciate the things that make each day more magical.

Have a Merry Christmas and New Year!

Mindfulness in the Snow Globe

I’ve been participating in a 30-minute “Mindful Meditation” class on Wednesday afternoons during my lunch hour.  Since I’m drawn to free events (which there are a LOT of in Seattle – again, a plug for Freattle and Yay Today!), and it takes place only a few blocks from my work, I felt there wasn’t anything to lose. I thought it could help me concentrate better during savasana in yoga; learn some tricks for controlling/ignoring my thoughts.

My mind frequently feels like it’s a snow globe…too many bits and pieces swarming around in a small space, taking a while to settle down at the bottom and for me to be at peace with myself. Add on friend/family stress, a full-time work schedule, my health, and moving….. and not only do more bits and pieces form, but the shaking-up feels more aggressive. Meditating once a week is giving me a new perspective on my values and time, and has reminded me to appreciate the little things in life; to accept ‘nothingness’ as a healthy state of mind. To avoid sounding too hippie-ish, I’ll leave it at that and share some readings that were done during the sessions: usually the instructor reads a poem or quote or essay as a kind of theme for the day.

The first one that stuck with me was supposed to inspire appreciation for simplicity and the small details of life. “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye:

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,   

which knew it would inherit the earth   

before anybody said so.   

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds   

watching him from the birdhouse.   

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.   

The idea you carry close to your bosom   

is famous to your bosom.   

The boot is famous to the earth,   

more famous than the dress shoe,   

which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it   

and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.   

I want to be famous to shuffling men   

who smile while crossing streets,   

sticky children in grocery lines,   

famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,   

or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,   

but because it never forgot what it could do.   

Another one that’s stuck with me for several weeks is an essay from The New Yorker called “Busy.” I asked the instructor to bring a copy of it to the next class, and now I’m sharing it with you.

How you been? Busy.

How’s work? Busy.

How was your week? Good. Busy.

You name the question, “Busy” is the answer. Yes, yes, I know we are all terribly busy doing terribly important things. But I think more often than not, “Busy” is simply the most acceptable knee-jerk response.

Certainly there are more interesting, more original, and more accurate ways to answer the question how are you? How about: I’m hungry for a waffle; I’m envious of my best friend; I’m annoyed by everything that’s broken in my house; I’m itchy.

Yet busy stands as the easiest way of summarizing all that you do and all that you are. I am busy is the short way of saying –suggesting–my time is filled, my phone does not stop ringing, and you (therefore) should think well of me.

Have people always been this busy? Did cavemen think they were busy, too? This week is crazy-I’ve got about ten caves to draw on. Can I meet you by the fire next week? I have a hunch that there is a direct correlation between the advent of coffee chains and the increase in busy-ness. Look at us. We’re all pros now at hailing a cab/pushing a grocery cart/operating a forklift with a to-go cup in hand. We’re skittering about like hyperactive gerbils, high not just on caffeine but on caffeine’s luscious by-product, productivity. Ah, the joy of doing, accomplishing, crossing off.

As kids, our stock answer to most every question was nothing. What did you do at school today? Nothing. What’s new? Nothing. Then, somewhere on the way to adulthood, we each took a 180-degree turn. We cashed in our nothing for busy. I’m starting to think that, like youth, the word nothing is wasted on the young. Maybe we should try reintroducing it into our grown-up vernacular. Nothing. I say it a few times and I can feel myself becoming more quiet, decaffeinated. Nothing. Now I’m picturing emptiness, a white blanket, a couple ducks gliding on a still pond. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

How did we get so far from it?

I feel like I’m in brain-training, sometimes, in meditation class. It’s really freakin hard to shut everything off, when there is so much floating around (important and trivial). But I’m starting to believe that you can train your mind to increase peacefulness and compassion in the same way you can train your body to be more flexible and strong. I’ve noticed effects already in my daily life, in dealing with people, stress, and unhappiness. If anyone wants to join me on Wednesdays (or any day of the week at yoga!), let me know!  I’d love to have a companion. Sometimes I go just to hear the essays/poems :).

Also, holy crap, Amanda Knox is free! Guess I finished that book at the right time!

Namaste, dear readers.

Calling all Seattle-ites!

I’m heading to the top of the Space Needle for a wedding this weekend (!!) so I’m inspired to share my love of Seattle with you all. After sitting at an office desk all day, I’m always itching to go on adventures after work. Add yoga and friend commitments into the mix, and my energy levels slowly deplete.

However, I’ve compiled some awesome resources and links for y’all to check out, if you’re in the Seattle area. Once it gets a little warmer, I’m hoping to embark on some. Let me know if you’re down for joining!! I’m always making lists of things to do in my planner, but these are a few I haven’t yet tried (or want to do again :)):

Recreation

  • Garage Bowling on Capitol Hill
  • Japanese Kubota Garden at the Arboretum (canoe there?)
  • Some more obscure parks: Kerry, Carkeek, and Bhy Kracke
  • Board game nights at Chao Bistro on Capitol Hill
  • Northwest Trek
  • Seattle Pinball Museum – went last week and had 4 hours of fun!!

 

Seattle sites

  • Climb to the top of Smith Tower/take an elevator up Columbia Tower
  • Ride the Ducks
  • Underground Tour – would totally go again
  • Ghost Tour at Pike’s Place
  • Panama Hotel (if you read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, this is what it’s based on!)
  • Art Walks in the city (First Thursday downtown is usually the best – Pioneer Square and SAM)

 

Entertainment

  • Silent Movie Mondays at the Paramount
  • Twisted Flicks
  • Bug Museum at Pike’s Place
  • Rat City Roller Derby
  • Reading Room at the Sorrento Hotel
  • SoDo Goodwill bins (buy goods by the pound!), Ballard Goodwill, Fremont Vintage Mall

 

Night-time Oddities

  • Salon of Shame
  • Burlesque at the CanCan
  • Julia’s Drag Show on Capitol Hill
  • Unexpected Productions improv shows
  • Teatro Zinzanni monthly $25 shows – would totally go again

 

Some upcoming festivals and events in the area too:

Folklife Festival is this weekend: May 27 – May 29 (I’m going on Saturday)

Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade: June 18-19

Better formatted and more updated sites to check out if you’re looking for free things to do:

http://www.yay-today.com/2011/

http://www.freshpickedseattle.com/freeattle/

http://www.reddit.com/r/Seattle

Top 5 ways to Take Control of your Life

As promised, I’m following up about the class I took that taught me how to TAKE CONTROL OF MY LIFE. Didn’t leave feeling especially enlightened, but he definitely had some good suggestions. There ended up being only 3 of us there (all girls; one was 24 and the other was 19, so I was right in the middle) and it was a pretty interactive session … except toward the end when we all were exhausted from four hours of pretty vague PowerPoint slides.

I’ve done my best to condense his advice into a top 5 list (no particular order; just the order of my scribbles):

1.    What you think is shaped by emotional needs.

Most people have a gap between their needs and rational actions, and those of us who are unhappy tend to have a wider gap. To come to terms with this, you have to accept the uniqueness of what you want and FIND A WAY to bridge this gap. This comes down to your personality type, decision-making process, and awareness of yourself (see below for more). We also talked for a bit about the passive-aggressive personality (lots of those in Seattle, I’ve found) and how it’s ultimately rooted in fear; fear of confrontation. Interesting way of seeing it. A book suggestion related to the R and L sides of your brain: The Master and His Emissary – the teacher was swearing by it, but I also suggested Doidge’s The Brain that Changes Itself – I’ve reviewed it here in a past entry.

2.    Everything in life is a skill…You can learn to do almost anything.

 A lot of people I know (including myself) refuse to try to learn something, or go to an event/class because they don’t feel, for whatever reason, that they are capable of learning or excelling at it. Humans are rationalizing creatures (NOT rational creatures); we tend to create an answer in order to justify a (usually, stupid) decision. Recognizing this is one of the first steps to greater awareness about yourself and what you want. You must become conscious of your implicit values (i.e. ones you have inherited from your parents and society) as well as your daily actions and even what you say “no” to. He suggested writing down how you spend the minutes of your day, if you find yourself making the excuse of “I DON’T HAVE THE TIME TO LEARN HOW TO THROW POTTERY” and compare that to the list of things that you really want to accomplish in your life. Oh yeah…make a list of the things you want to accomplish/learn over the next few years and MAKE TIME to do them. Easier said than done, but thanks for the suggestion :P.

3.    It’s difficult to see how our environment influences us.

As he said: “A fish can’t see the water he swims in.” He also referenced a study looking at the “energy fields” of cities – some people just fit and feel better in certain places. To figure out what location works best for you, you have to make the jump; take the risk and travel and listen to your instincts. He then spent ~ 30 minutes going over the Risk Spectrum (i.e. there is a vast range of risks and consequences; not just black and white). Some people just tend to be greater risk takers as well, which is where that Risk Attitude test (and results – I’m moderate to high) came in handy. The greatest historical figures have been shown to have the highest risk taking attitude and impulsivity.

4.    Your personality type can say a lot about you and your potential.

Not sure how many of you took that Myers-Briggs test, but it actually has more things to say than I thought. The first thing it tells you is whether you veer toward an Introverted vs. Extroverted type. What this ultimately comes down to (looking past the negative connotations our society has placed on introversion) is where we get our energy from. For me, I am rejuvenated by having “alone” time – for others, being alone can be extremely nerve-wracking, and they receive their energy from being around other people. It also tells you whether you tend to be a rational/judging person or an emotional/feeling one. This result came out strongest for me; I am an extremely Feeling personality, and my suggested path was as a Counselor (specifically, a nun, which made me burst into giggles). The emotional quotient (i.e. which side you lean toward) is, he said, the best way to determine success in life. This is because the quality of social relations you have lends you a sense of meaning beyond yourself, and coming together with others toward a shared goal can result in amazing things (mostly because he believes that when you are contributing, you have a different energy about you).

Other test suggestions: Enneagram (assuming that every person comes into the world with a mission, this test tells you what type you are and the suggested mission), DiSC personality test, and Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences study.

5.    You ALWAYS have a choice in how to deal with a problem.

We spent a lot of time talking about the idea of Positive and Negative Spirals. It’s a simple enough concept, but extremely difficult to enact. By being aware of your feelings and actions, as well as how you make decisions, you can also train yourself to change your attitude. When you find yourself attaching negative emotions to something, it’s merely an act of will to accept these feelings and choose to see them in a positive light. Similar to making affirmations, this attitude shift has been proven to change lives. I’m someone who instinctually expects and plans for the worst, so I’m starting in small stages to break this. Sure, a healthy dose of pessimism is okay, but he argued that it’s very easy to spiral further downwards. Some book suggestions: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (on top of my pile now) and Napoleon Hill’s Law of Success (he was sent by Carnegie to interview the other millionaires of the day to see what decisions and personalities they had in common. He condensed his findings into a list).

I know there’s a lot missing from this, but I tried to hit on the important things. If people are interested in learning more about the personality tests, etc., I have some more specific notes with how it works and what it can tell you.

And to finish, with some inspiring quotes:

“There is no such thing as best in a world of individuals”

“All that counts cannot be counted” – Einstein

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken” – Wilde (I added that one in because there are few quotes that actually stick with me, and that’s near the top)

“Life is easy. Only the fear of it is hard” and “He never went looking for happiness. It came and found him in the moments when he forgot about himself” – both from A Happy Man

Risky Attitude?

I’m taking a class on Friday that I’m a little hesitant about. The description lured me in, and I’ve had really good experiences with all other Experimental College classes (through UW; there’s always quite an assortment). I’m in a place in my life where it’s a good idea to reflect on what I want, and what my personality and character say, in a larger picture, about my place in the world and in a career. Basically, I’m expecting a lot out of this 4.5 hour class.

But c’mon…I’m not entirely to blame….THIS is the description:

Being human, we all want to succeed, be happy and contribute in an increasingly complex world. How? Most classes and degrees deal with a generic “you” and are often out-of-context to what you want. Where is YOUR life…“big picture”? This class covers your inner and outer selves, how to think systemically for decisions that give more control to your goals, to understand the world and how to succeed and derive joy from it.

 I was a little put off as well, when the instructor sent us links to online personality and “risk assessment” tests, with the promise that the class would be

about you, your life and how to get the most out of it.  It is also personalized to you as we are all more different than most realize.  This by itself is an advantage but can lead to heartache and errors unless it is understood.  We will discuss not only what gives rise to success, happiness and life contributions, but what hinders many and some of the great ideas across several millenia that contribute to understanding our context in that which is greater than ourselves (history, civilizations, philosophy, etc.).  In a nutshell, you each are special and literally changing the world!

 

One was the Myers-Brigg test, in which I scored the same as I do every time: INFJ. And apparently Nicole Kidman’s one too. The test/results are pretty vague and predictable, but interesting if you’ve never taken it before. I’ve been doing some side research on introversion … there’s a big community of us out there (see Sophia Dembling in the Introvert’s Corner)!!

The other determined your Risk Profile – for $4. It placed you into one of these seven categories: Moralist , Toiler , Rational , Energetic , Ponderous , Adventurer , or Inspired and scored your Risk Attitude: values “over 85% are typical for people who tend to engage in very risky behavior. Values of the Risk Attitude index below 35% usually mean that the person has increased aspiration for safety and stability.” I was at 59% and a Rational. No big surprise there, and the description was deceivably spot-on in most areas. But I had to remind myself that these summaries are purposely vague and mostly positive – and applicable in some way to most people. It’d be interesting if some of you read through the descriptions and could place yourself decisively in ONE category over another. I’m trained to accept my title (like my grades) post-test, so that’s not going to work for me. 

Regardless, I’m trying to follow my yoga instructor’s advice and go into things with an open heart and mind. I’m showing up tomorrow with my $36 and a big smile. Yoga’s been teaching me a lot about being okay with being uncomfortable, and the benefits of adapting to constraints of my body and mind. So even if this class doesn’t save my life, I will still update you on the advice and memorable tidbits next week.

Also, side note: Check out two new blogs from people I love! Sarah is going to the Dominican Republic in a few weeks to start her 2 years in the Peace Corps being amazing, and Steve is blogging about design and web stuff , that I don’t fully understand…along with serving as his portfolio site.  Also, his site was made from scratch and is beautiful and Tron-y.

Betes, Pt. I

The time has come to dispel the myths and misconceptions I hear so frequently about being diabetic. If this can prevent even one person from asking “Are you sure you can eat that?” or “So you can’t ever have sugar again, right?”, then I have succeeded. With 23.6 million children and adults in the United diagnosed with diabetes, you probably even have family or friends who have it. So let’s buckle up and go on a LEARNING ADVENTURE!

Lesson One: Types
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 (what I have) and Type 2. My body does not produce insulin (as in, my pancreas has shut down), and the majority of Type 1 diabetics are diagnosed between birth and 30 years old, hence its alternate title, “Juvenile Diabetes.” Type 2s are insulin-resistant, which means they still produce insulin but cannot process it properly. Many people develop Type 2 as a result of diet, exercise, environment, and genes. It can be treated with a change of lifestyle/diet, pills, or minor injections to balance out insulin levels. For me, it is unclear why and how I “got” it. There is a possibility my great great grandmother had it (not a lot of diabetes research back then), but otherwise there are no instances in my family. Environment stress can be a factor in Type 1 diabetes, as well as a breaking down of the immune system.  Regardless, I’ve got it until they find a cure.

Lesson Two: Symptoms

I was diagnosed in May 2006, at the age of 17, in the middle of my Senior Project and with high school graduation a mere month away. I knew none of the symptoms of diabetes, so when I went to my doctor in May about a recent bike injury and my mom mentioned that I’d been peeing a lot and eating a lot of food – which resulted in an immediate transfer to Children’s Hospital – it was a total shock. I was in the hospital for 3 days, undergoing IVs, blood tests, and diabetes training. If we had known about the symptoms earlier, that would have helped, so I’d like to share the main indicators for ‘betes, in the hopes that this knowledge might help someone down the line:

  • excessive peeing (I was peeing about every 20-30 minutes at night before I was diagnosed)
  • extreme thirst (I drank a 32oz slushy in 3 minutes)
  • noticeable loss of weight (I got down to about 85 pounds)
  • headaches and flu-like symptoms at times
  • mood fluctuations and exhaustion
  • eating and drinking a LOT of sugar and carbohydrates.

 

After the education at Children’s, it made perfect sense why these strange occurrences were connected.   My body, whose pancreas hadn’t been producing insulin for at least 6-8 months, was struggling to compensate for the food I was ingesting by eating away my fat. That’s a simple explanation…look it up online if you want to know the scientific details J. If we had waited a week or so longer, I would have unexpectedly collapsed.

Lesson Three: Monitoring
As a result of this insulin issue, I must constantly monitor my blood sugar levels and correct any hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic reactions I might have. Hypoglycemia occurs when the sugar levels in the blood get too low and hyperglycemia is when they get too high (we typically call it “having a low” or “being high”). When I am having a “low,” I may exhibit certain symptoms like: shakiness, dizziness, sweatiness, hunger, difficulty paying attention, exhaustion, and (this hasn’t happened to me yet and hopefully never will) seizure. When people are admitted to the ED with diabetic issues, hypoglycemia is usually the primary reason, which makes it extremely important to stay on top of my blood sugar levels. Excessive exercise, not eating, or an incorrect dosage of insulin can cause hypoglycemia. Low blood sugars can be treated with fruit juice, candy, or some other simple carbohydrate. I use Skittles. It takes between 10 and 15 minutes for my blood sugars to return to normal after a hypoglycemic event.

When I am too high (hyperglycemia), symptoms include: dizziness, thirst, frequent peeing, blurry vision, hunger, nausea, confusion, and sweating. I treat this by giving a correction dosage of insulin and drinking lots of water, in order to bring my sugar levels back to normal. “Normal” means the numbers are between 80 and 120 – what an insulin-producing person is generally at. Mine can fluctuate from 25 (extremely low) to 400 (extremely high). I do my best to keep mine within the range of 80-150. To give you some perspective: When I arrived at Children’s Hospital, my blood sugar level (also called glucose level) was at 720.

You measure your blood sugar levels with a device called, creatively, a glucose monitor. I’m sure you’ve seen them in drugstores. This is the one I have, with the lancet device next to it.

 

I check my blood sugar levels before I eat, and 2-3 hours after a meal. That ends up being between 6 and 8 times a day, give or take. The process of monitoring entails (1) insert a strip into the monitor which will transfer the blood drop into the machine for monitoring,  (2) prick the tip/side of your finger with the lancet device and let a drop of blood form (3) press this blood to the end of the strip….and voila! A number appears on the screen.

 

If the number is high (i.e. above 150), I can give myself a correction dosage of insulin to bring it down. I have this device with me at all times, with a backup at work and several others at home.

TO BE CONTINUED…..