Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Relatable Book About Intention that Recognizes a Parent's Busy-ness

Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy

by Mallika Chopra

In this book Mallika Chopra — daughter of Deepak Chopra — explores the topic of intention, specifically how she set out to live an intention-filled life as a self-proclaimed soccer mom.

I really enjoyed this book because it showed that it can be difficult for anyone (even Deepak Chopra’s daughter) to live mindfully, and that it takes practice. The author understands that meditation and other mindfulness practices are worthwhile, and also understands that they may not seem fun and that finding time can be challenging, especially for busy moms. This perspective was refreshing.

As an example, early on in the book, she asks herself how she can serve and her answer is “Right now, as a mom. Beyond that, I don’t really know.” I get that. Sometimes all we have energy for are the things we are closest to. She also wrinkles her nose about physical activity as she reluctantly participates in yoga classes and even attempts an intense health retreat with friends. It is moments like these that make the book relatable.

Chopra provides a clear look at where her habits start and how they transform. She talks about what she thinks and how she feels before, during, and after various endeavors. These insights give the reader an opportunity to recognize “it’s not just me who struggles with these things.”

This book doesn’t dictate a “one way” of doing things. It acknowledges that any effort to be mindful, is going to be just that — an effort — and that is okay.

At the end of each chapter, she includes some exercises to help the reader get started in living more mindfully. These are presented in a friendly “things to try” demeanor, as opposed to assignments to be checked off. At the end of the book, she provides some notes pages and a couple of worksheet ideas.

Living with Intent is a worthwhile read, especially for parents who want to infuse more intention into their days rather than letting them zip by on autopilot.

I received this book for free. Please see my book review disclaimer.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Faith and Existence

Faith is a difficult thing. We are taught in school that theories need proof. We need to be able to support our arguments with hard facts and scientific data. And finding information is easier than ever, thanks to the internet -- unlike the days of my school reports, which required a library visit and rifling through a card catalog in hopes of finding something related to my topic.

Yet, we are still asked to have faith. To trust abundance. To surrender. To believe in a divine plan or miracles or the law of attraction or God.

This universe is a magical and scientific place. Sometimes it’s hard to trust what we cannot see for ourselves.

My friend Kristin wrote a post that resonated so deeply with me. It’s called I’m an ego driven skeptic and she begins, “My name is Kristin and I basically doubt everything.”

It’s definitely worth reading, so hop on over there. These are the words that I read over and over:
“I don’t usually believe in myself and I know I exist. I don’t have faith in myself, and I can see myself in the mirror. So why would I believe in something that I have to have faith in and I can’t see?”

Juicy, right?

I don’t usually believe in myself and I know I exist. I exist. You do, too. You can see yourself right now by looking down, just as I can see myself. We exist. That is easily provable. But do you believe in yourself? Do you believe you are worthy? Do you have faith in yourself?

Those questions are much harder.

Now go back to the second part of that quote. If you don’t have faith in yourself, and you can see yourself in the mirror, how do you believe in something you can’t see?

So much harder.

And yet, does operating from faith make the experience of life invalid or not worthwhile? Definitely not.

Faith is worthwhile even if it is hard.

Faith, when carefully placed, enriches our ego-driven, body-based experiences. It makes for a well-rounded life alongside science. Both are valuable.

Read Kristin's full post here: I’m an ego driven skeptic

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I Am Not Colorblind

I grew up in a place that I am realizing is somewhat of an anomaly. I grew up in schools where kids were white, black, Middle Eastern, Korean, Chinese, Hispanic, biracial. My friends, neighbors, and classmates practiced a variety of religions, or no religion at all. I had babysitters who were white, who were black, who were deaf.

Normal to me was that there was no normal. Everyone was different, everyone had a story, and it was worth learning as many stories as I could.

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.

My mother sang that to me when I was little, and I knew that it was true because I could see so many colors and lifestyles around me.

As an adult, and especially now that I’ve moved around and seen other communities, I’ve realized my childhood was perhaps a bit different than what many people experience.

The gut-wrenching news stories we keep hearing prove we have a long way to go toward peace and justice. The racism and religious animosity that I “knew” were things of the past as a child, I know now are still issues.

With emotions running high, it’s sometimes scary to speak up because words with good intentions behind them can be met with disdain.

One of those well-intentioned words that I keep seeing is “colorblind.” As in “I am colorblind; I see everyone the same.” I understand what you mean.

But when I see that word, I question it. Because we are not all the same.

If I am colorblind, I am missing a very key piece of who you are. The color of your skin is part of what makes you you. It is part of what makes you beautiful. It is part of your story.

I absolutely believe we should all be afforded the same opportunities. I want to be clear about that. However, I can’t ignore that maybe you haven’t been afforded those opportunities. And that is unjust.

Your experience — whether or not you are white, like me — is different from mine, because we have different bodies, different histories, different racial compositions, different parents, different personalities.

I am not colorblind. I don’t ever want to be colorblind. I see in color. Full, rich, vibrant color. That’s what makes this life interesting.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Read Facehooked. But don't get facehooked. That sounds awful.

Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives

by Dr. Suzana E. Flores
Published in March 2016 by Reputation Books

First, can we acknowledge that the title sounds like something you really don’t want to have done? That being said, I get what it means. As a society, we are hooked on Facebook. Dr. Suzana Flores has done a wonderful job offering insights and gathering anecdotes that objectively explore the effects of Facebook on people. She does not make a claim that Facebook is good or evil; she simply reviews how it is used and offers suggestions for balance.

She starts off with this dedication page...


So you know it's going to be good. I should also mention here that if you read this on a Kindle, be prepared to click-click-click a lot in the beginning to get past the crazy number of blurbs (those quotes that tell you how great the book is) and a detailed TOC. The introduction started 13% of the way through the book.

This is a quick and easy read, accessible for audiences as young as high school, but geared more toward adults. She includes a section about teens and Facebook for parents.

Throughout the book, Dr. Flores explains what happens mentally, emotionally, and physiologically when we use Facebook. She gets into how we edit the version of ourselves that we share online and seek validation through “likes,” shares, and comments. She addresses that Facebook can become an addiction and also how it affects our self-esteem and our real-life interactions with family and friends.

One of her final thoughts about creating balance was this: “If you compliment a friend on Facebook, make it a point to compliment someone in real life--that same day.”

That is a refreshing thought.

Pick this book up if you’re interested in social media, human behavior, or if you had to pause in the middle of reading this blog post to check Facebook.

Please see my book review disclaimer about affiliate links and that I received this book for free.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Act Loving to Feel Loving

Sometimes I read things that are so… tough and important and consciousness-raising. I don’t necessarily have anything to add. The author’s words are enough on their own.

This post from Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery is one of those posts: Life is Hard But They are Brave.

Please go read it. But, if you don’t have time right now, at least read this…
“My friend stopped by five hours after I started this love project and she said: lord. You are so loving to do this for them. And I said No, no, no. I don’t do these crazy things because I’m loving. I’m loving because I do these crazy things. Love is not a feeling. Love is the result of hours and days and years of using your hands and heart and mind to show up in a million different ways for other people. We don’t wait to act until we feel loving — we act so that we will feel loving. You don’t wait for love – you create it.”

…and this…
“The quote is from a mother who wrote four hearts and then the words: I ache. The hearts on this poster symbolize babies who were taken before they were named. And I looked at her four hearts and her: I ache and I thought: There is nothing I can do about your ache. You will ache forever. But there is something I can do about the I. I can make it a we. We will ache with you. Your sisters and brothers will ache with you.”

We are on this earth together. We are in this life together. Act loving and you will feel loving.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I May Need to Try Canning Again

A few summers ago, I tried canning. I made spaghetti sauce with friends, strawberry jelly, apple butter, blueberry butter, chutney, and even canned some apple slices. They came out pretty good for my first attempt, if I do say so myself.

I haven't done it since. But, that may be changing. I was offered an opportunity to review the "updated and expanded edition" of Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff, and I'm pretty sure I'm ready to give it a whirl again.

Krissoff takes the scary out of canning by explaining at the beginning what causes health problems, then uses recipes and processes with little room for error.

The recipes sound great, though I have to admit, I haven’t had a chance to try them yet. I am most excited about the half-dried strawberry preserves in red wine and the basic chicken curry. Yum.

It’s particularly nice how she breaks the recipes down by season, so canners can make the best use of locally grown or home-grown fresh produce. It may even spark a few ideas for planning your garden.

The cover is beautiful, and there is pretty photography throughout that is sure to inspire your taste buds. I reviewed the Kindle version, but you will definitely want to get the real book. Cookbooks are tough digitally.

If you are new to canning, this resource will help you feel more confident about trying it.

The revised version of Canning for a New Generation is out today.

Canning for a New Generation: Updated and Expanded Edition: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry

Please see my book review disclaimer about affiliate links and that I received this book for free.