Let's Talk About Books Baby!

October

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Books Read

What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen

by Kate Fagan (Audible)

The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner

Dark Tracks (Order of Darkness #4) by Philippa Gregory

Drive Here and Devastate Me by Megan Falley

What do you know? I’m behind! And again, how did it become the middle of the month? Someday I will be disciplined and write these monthly posts on the last day of the month! Oh well.

Here we go… I listened to What Made Maddy Run by CU-alum Kate Fagan. Not because she went to CU… but because she is the person who married yogi instructor Kathryn Budig (who used to be married to a man)! I LOVE this couple. I watch all their damn stories, listen to their podcast, and now… read their books. Kate is an ESPN Sportscaster, I like that a lot of her reporting is women-centric and I love her enthusiasm for sports and athletes. This book was about a young college athlete who took her own life- Kate speculates that it is because of the pressure put on young athletes that play for Universities. Kate tries to unpack mental health topics, and I feel she does a pretty good job. The book is just kind of grim and overall a depressing topic… I like that the audible version is read by Kate herself.

The Bridge Ladies! First, Jacki got these books sent to those of us who were going to be attending book camp for FREE! It probably wouldn’t have been a book any of us would have chosen otherwise. That said, we had quite a discussion on this book! The book was written by a woman about her mother and her friends… ladies who played bridge. The book goes into topics of feminism, female friendships, generation disconnects, loyalty, and what it means to be witness to each other’s lives. I didn’t looooove this book, but I also didn’t mind it. But… I did looooovvvveee book camp this year! It was a quick whirlwind weekend trip to Salida. We stayed at the Amigo Motor Lodge, and would drive a quick 5 minutes and be in downtown Salida, which is so quaint and so lovely. We spent the bulk of our time in the town’s local book store, we even did yin yoga in there one morning… “Amongst other people’s dreams” as Jacki said. It was so great, I do wish it had been a little longer, but we did get our money’s worth as Jacki always pulls out all the stops with goodies, and local eats. And all the women were amazing! I’ll probably always remember The Bridge Ladies simply because the weekend was so good.

Philippa. Why I am the only person in the world reading this teen series by the queen of historical fiction I will never know?! Literally, no one has ever heard of this series. Why does she keep coming out with another book? It’s never been available in stores, it’s hard for the library to get a hold of. It’s a fine read and it’s always entertaining… it’s nothing worth writing home about though… maybe that’s why I’m the only person reading it? Why am I reading it? I guess cause I’m this far and I want to see where it’s all going. And it always makes me have crazy dreams. I guess I’m reading it cause it gets my imagination going. I also like seeing how someone who is known for their adult novels, switches over to YA. Anyway, I don’t really recommend anyone else dig in on this series.

Lastly, Drive Here and Devastate Me by my friend, and teacher… Megan Falley. This is my favorite collection of hers (that I’ve read). I love that this book is about love. Loving her partner, and learning to love her own body. For Megan’s book launch she had a performance here in Boulder, I was lucky enough to have my baby sis go with me to it. It was really funny to have someone that’s known me her whole life come and see my world I’ve made in Boulder… this weird mesh of yogis, political poets, and lesbians. My sister was in awe the whole night! Sometimes this is just my life and I’m up here living it every week day and I forget that on the weekends I go down to Aurora and am an Auntie and a Sister and a Daughter… and none of those roles feel like who I am in Boulder. I don’t know… just thinking out loud here. Anyway, I highly recommend this book if you want to be blown away by brilliance!

That’s all for now folks! I promise to give you November’s reads by December 1st at the latest! Not that I think any of you (are there any of you?) are out there biting your nails in anticipation.

If you’ve been reading something worth writing home about, drop me a line! Or like the cool kids say, “Slide into my DM’s”. WTF?!?!!


On Becoming & Giving Thanks

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This morning I woke up, I put on my Thankful AF shirt and as I do on a lot of my very best days… I drove to Evergreen. How fortunate I am that the person whose teachings resonate the most with me, lives only one beautiful drive away. And to have a teacher who invites people to her home, a teacher who lets you hold her kids, a teacher who literally offers you her yoga mat!  Driving there, I was listening to one of my teacher’s favorite teachers: Brene Brown. In her newest book, she quotes CS Lewis, who says,

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

This quote struck a chord. Those years I’d spent making my heart impenetrable. The burrito bowls. The fortress that is my body. How for a couple of years now I’ve been taking swings at it, like a piñata… little bursts of goodies showering forth every now and then… but still waiting for the whole damn thing to burst wide open.

What would that look like?

Today at Jacki’s house, she was going to lead us through some gratitude work and a yin practice. Through the gratitude work I found myself really going deep with the gratitude towards my family, it’s funny how sometimes we need a weekend apart to feel how lucky we are.

But it was in the middle of a supine twist, with my left leg draping across my body, my thoughts went to where they always do in that pose… my left ovary… the mass that used to grow there, the new one that might be growing now, the haunting… and right as I was about to start massaging that area, like I normally do… Jacki said, “What do you need to let go of? To makes space for something else…”. Lately I’ve been really honing in on what it means if I’m alone forever. But in that moment, I had a vision of me that was straight out of “Under the Tuscan Sun”... The MOVIE, not the book! At the end when Frances (Dianne Lane), finds herself in a pretty white dress, at her beautiful home she brought to life in Tuscany, and surrounded with random people; her lesbian best friend who had a baby, the men who worked on her home, who found a place in her heart, the weird eccentric lady of the town— all of these people had become her people.

In my version that came upon me in Savasana it was something more mountainous, but I let people in to my home, I housed people who maybe needed a little help, a little place to find their footing, a place to rest. A place to recover. A place to heal. In it, I did not look like Dianne Lane, but I did have those laugh lines, and my eyes sparkled… and you could tell that I’d had a really FULL life. Full of love.

”Thy people shall be my people.”

After savasana, Jacki had us roll over to our left side, our more feminine side. I always, roll to my right so I can feel that left ovary and so my heart is more towards the sky.  But I liked this. I liked rolling to my left… resting upon that space that broke me once upon a time. In savasana, Jacki read a poem from Danielle Doby’s collection, she read…

“Let your heart break daily.

In conversations, over song lyrics,

During the pause right before the

Sun rises. While you’re sipping coffee

+ looking into the eyes of someone

You love. It’s when we break a little,

We come alive. It’s in this space

Of feeling, we expand, and it’s here,

In our vulnerability and openness,

We step into our greatest selves.”

******

Let your heart break daily.

Little cracks.

Little fissures.

Like a piñata.

Until that whole damn cornucopia of goodness spills forth!

After class I made my way down the mountain to the little downtown of Evergreen, I started walking and just a few doors down from my original destination was a cafe that was still serving up breakfast. It was called The Wildflower Cafe, and above the door it said, “Eat, Drink, and Give Thanks”. They sat me in a window where the sunlight was just showering through, and every time the door opened a gentle breeze would lift my new short hair off the neck. The window served as a perfect frame for a couple that was sitting outside. They were so affectionate, and rather than make me uncomfortable I thought how beautiful that was. To love big. To love out loud. Everytime the woman pulled away from her lover’s face or shoulder, or ear… every single time her eyes were sparkling.

The cook in this place he sings, a lot. But it’s comforting. I stretch and look up to see a stuffed raven (or crow) right above my head in the top of one of those macrame plant holders. I one time had a dream that when I was laying on my right side in a yoga class that I opened my eyes to see a raven (or a crow) in the corner of the room watching me. Seeing this little stuffed guy above my head…. prompts me to google what it means if a raven (or a crow) shows up in your dream.

Raven= a bad omen

Crow= a good omen, representing change.

It’s definitely a crow. A sign to turn over. To that left side. The more feminine side.

The other morning in yoga, my teacher Sarah did this move that I’ve seen her do another time, I remember watching her and thinking how beautiful it was. It’s almost camel pose, but a moving, graceful opening. Standing on her knees, she reaches one hand back to the foot on the same side, her opposite arm raised above her head, and she arches her back, opening her heart to the sky and then she switches sides, so beautifully, like “moving through honey”. When I watched her do it, I wished that I could be that beautiful. But this most recent time I did it, a bit self-consciously. But I did it. This big body moving through honey. Gentle and sweet.

I imagine the day I do this with no abandon, that’s the day the piñata breaks.

Let's Talk About Books Baby!

September

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Books Read

On The Other Side of Freedom by DeRay Mckesson (audible)

The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson

Sea Prayer by Khaled hosseini

Yes We (Still) Can by Dan Pfeiffer (audible)

It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by: Lynsey Addario


Happy October Bookworms! Anyone delving into a super cozy grand read they want to share with me? I’m suddenly craving that kind of read! The kind where you can get lost in it and that you’ll remember this season of your life by it. Last night I saw a music show and in the last song, this little string of delight fell out of the singer’s mouth, “And you don't put your book down even after it ends…” and it was so sweet to me that I let out a gut wrenching sigh of wonder. And both of the beautiful souls I was with nudged me recognizing that those words were me, or touched that they spoke to me anyway. There was a moment where the singer, Gregory Alan Isakov called out Patty Griffin onto the stage and the two sang a song together, and at the end of it, after Patty had left the stage… Gregory Alan said, “That brought me such joy.” And I thought that was the cutest way of saying that. So simple. So sweet.

Let’s get in to this last month’s reads, shall we? Are you impressed that I’m actually posting this on the first day of a new month? I am. :-)

First up, I listened to the brand new book by Black Lives Matter activist and former candidate for Mayor of Baltimore- DeRay McKesson. This book was good, and I need to read more like them. Sometimes I see issues individually that affect black people in my country, but rarely do I think about how the whole system, all the issues, are intrinsically linked and feed off of each other ultimately perpetuating the oppression of a whole race of people. In honor of this book and to bring attention to matters and be an active ally I’m going to attend this yoga class put on by Sameside in Denver, if anyone is interested in going with me, here is where you can find out more: https://onsameside.com/experiences/downdogs-and-democracy-old-school-hip-hop.html

Next up was my poetry book for this month, this time I decided to delve into something with a little more meat to it, so I went with an old school Andrea Gibson book. Many of these poems I have heard them perform live but it was nice to slow down and hear it read in my own head and without all the energy of an Andrea Gibson performance. Don’t get me wrong- their performance is magical and the energy of the crowd- how they are moved is powerful- but sometimes overwhelming if you are sensitive at all. But sometimes that’s what we need right? To be moved into a space of uncomfort… (is that a word?)… anyway, I loved this book. I always love their poems. I am convinced that Write Bloody Publishing runs the corner in the poetry market. All of the best contemporary talent comes from there, I’ve found you pretty much can’t go wrong with any of the books from their collection. If it’s published by them, it has my stamp of approval!

Sea Prayer came out the same week that the Trump administration said that for the FY2019 they will drop the maximum number of refugees allowed to enter the US to 30,000... a record low since the program began in 1980. Hosseini’s book was inspired by Alan Kurdi, the three year old Syrian refugee who drowned in The Mediterranean Sea, and whose body washed up on shore in 2015. The book is a letter from a refugee father to his son. Though it is a picture book, and though it is brief... it is full to the brim with beautiful words...

“We woke in the mornings
To the stirrings of olive trees in the breeze,”

“You wouldn’t have forgotten the farmhouse,
The soot of its stone walls,”

“The crowded lanes smelling of fried kibbeh
And the evening walks we took
With your mother
Around Clock Tower Square”

“My boy, your eyelashes like calligraphy”

Though it be short, it is sweet. Khaled will be donating all of his author proceeds to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency . If you have a couple of extra bucks to spend, I recommend purchasing this one…. and if you have kids I recommend reading it to them and maybe just talking about how other kids around the world have different kinds of lives, and maybe come up with a sweet way that you could do something to make a difference. I think if I had kids I would do that.

Next up…. Yes We (Still) Can by Dan Pfeiffer, President Obama’s former White House Communications Director and Senior Advisor. I liked this book a lot, but for different reasons than you would think. Sure, the parts where we can commiserate about Trump feels therapeutic, but I liked the telling of how one becomes someone that gets involved in campaigns and then works in administrations. I’ve loved politics since I was a little girl and it just is fascinating to me and made me wonder who I might of been under different circumstances. Anyway, I love Pfeiffer and the whole crew at Crooked Media (which DeRay McKesson is also a huge part of). I highly recommend all of the “Pod Save” podcasts. Check them out here!

And lastly, but certainly not least was Lynsey Addario’s beautiful photography memoir. Lynsey started documenting the human condition around the world pre 9/11, but being a photo journalist and an American woman in the post 9/11 world Lynsey found herself in many of the places that my ex-husband used to (probably still does) go. She talks of the affairs diplomats and military members would have abroad and the connection they would make with each other that lovers, partners, and spouses back home in the states would not be able to relate to. Those parts came a little too close to home, and I would find myself gritting my teeth, and remind myself to focus on the time period, the history, and the perspective this woman’s voice brings to the table. There are pictures throughout this beauty of a book and so I highly recommend having a physical copy of it- where you can linger over the pages. I LOVED this book, I love the idea of someone who is so dedicated to their work that it is the most important thing… why am I always drawn to people like that? To care for something. To bring stories to the world. To wake us up. Thank goodness for people like this. This book is full of descriptions and the people that belong to faraway places, of their struggles, of the role we all play in each other’s lives, and there’s even a couple kidnapping stories. It’s entertaining, and it’s a beautiful collection of a very painful time in our nation’s history. If you read it, let me know your thoughts!

Otherwise, I would love to hear what books you guys are going to dig into this Fall!