Herein lies the annual archiving of the books that occupied me this year.  I’m breaking this down into multiple posts to make it easier on all of us.

1. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

If you like Amy Schumer’s comedy and you want a good laugh, then you should go watch Amy Schumer’s comedy instead of reading this book.  If you are curious about the person behind the clown, it is worth reading. It’s written in the style of a personal diary – loosely organized thoughts about her family, her life, her loves, her stuffed animals, and her years of work behind her “overnight” success. She includes excerpts from a diary she kept in her early twenties with retrospective commentary.  It made me want to dig out the Winnie the Pooh journal I kept in my teens to remind myself what I was thinking back then.  As a whole, the book has a vibe of raw honesty that people rarely reveal to each other.

2. A Monster Calls

“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”


I paid too much for this book at the airport newsstand because it said “monster” on the cover. It was October 31 and I needed a way to mark the holiday that would be otherwise consumed by travel.  I crammed myself into a little airplane seat with my monster book and read it cover-to-cover. This book had me crying all across the sky on Halloween.

“…and sometimes witches merit saving. Quite often, actually. You’d be surprised.”

–Patrick Ness

3. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity


Silberman has provided the most comprehensive historical perspective on autism that I’ve read in my 16 years of studying autism and working with folks on the spectrum. He also delves into the wide range of controversies, treatments, and organizations associated with autism. It’s a work that honors the varieties of human intelligence.

4. The Japanese Lover

 From a retirement home in San Francisco, an octogenarian recounts the events that shaped her life to her young Moldovan employee. Her recollections span from her immigration from Poland to the events leading up to her marriage and beyond. In the telling I learned a lot I didn’t know about the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII  – and that was just the backdrop for a short episode in the narrative.

It’s hard to say what I admire most about Isabel Allende’s novels:  Her settings are as nuanced as her characters. She makes history live and breathe on the page.  She also guards her characters’ secrets well.  You have to get to know them and love them before you gain their confidence.

5. Another Day

This was the much-anticipated sequel to Everyday [Reviewed Here], the fascinating story of a bodiless teen who wakes up in a different person’s body every day.  Unfortunately, Another Day sucked and I am kinda (irrationally) mad at David Levithan right now. It was the same story, same events, same characters as before, but it was told by the boring character’s point of view instead of the awesome one’s.   Ugh – Why do that?  Maybe because it was written more for commercial reasons than for artistic ones.

6. The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism 

A friend wanted to read this book together, so we did. Drawing heavily from research in positive psychology, Cabane offers practical exercises to sharpen listening and speaking skills and to increase one’s general likeability.  The practices and advice were reminiscent of the principles from yoga teacher training, though Cabane couched them in the language of the corporate and academic world.

7. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works-A True Story

 

TV journalist Dan Harris attributes meditation to making him happier and generally less of an ass.  In his self-help/memoir hybrid he shares the experiences, ideas, and  research to explain the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the type of happy that meditation provides.

8. Leaving Time


A psychic and a detective reluctantly join teenager Jenna Metcalf’s search for her missing mother, Alice.  The search centers around the elephant sanctuary where Alice worked as a scientist. As the story weaves back and forth from past to present, the author explores mother-daughter bonds, memory, and grief in both humans and elephants. The ending had a crazy turn that I did not see coming.

9. The Great Gatsby

“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart and all they can do is stare blankly.”

–F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’ve been a little obsessed with the 1920’s this year and because I hadn’t yet read this classic, I figured it was time.

10. What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains: The Shallows


An interesting look at how technology changes the way we think. I posted thoughts this one HERE.

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It’s December and I am on a mission! There is a bunch of stuff I need to get done to wrap up the year. I have added new goals and resolutions to this month’s spreadsheet.

Today I decided to tackle the toy collection that is taking over my office.

With the closet and cabinets crammed with tests and materials, the bathtub has become a make-shift toy box.

toy-before

Before

I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond hoping to find inspiration to organize this mess. For under $50, I came up with this solution:

 

toy-after

After

 

I’m not done yet! I need a couple more hanging organizers, but already that feels sooooo much better!

 

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

November was exceedingly strange.  Here are a few pictures I’ve taken this month of things that happened.

There was this…

trump-wtf

 

Moving on.

 

 

tired-bear

“I just can’t” said the bear in the Costco parking lot.

 

 

(I was waiting on a friend in the car when the bear showed up seemingly unaccompanied.)

 

 

dino

“Rawr” said the dinosaur.

 

 

(The dino was my contribution to a SoKaN event for #901 Rocks – a delightfully fun community craft movement taking the city by storm. These are some of the other SoKaNers’ painted rocks…)

901-rocks

[And finally, coming home fr0m this mad, funny, heartbreaking, and beautiful world to  retreat (not to be confused with retweet) and recharge.]

 

cat on my book.jpg

Mad Catter crashing my tea party

 

 

 

 

This one is going on it.

Taking suggestions for others!

 

20161028_111848

Thinker on a Rock, Sculpture Garden in D.C.

 

20161028_151712

Somewhere in the bowels of D.C.

 

 

 

20161021_203849_1478177518756

South Main, Memphis, TN

 

 

20161021_212544

An Invasion at the Squirrel Nut Zippers Concert

 

 

 

 

 

We show up,

burn brightly in the moment,

live passionately,

hold nothing back,

and when the moment is over,

when our work is done,

we step back,

and we let go.

-Rolfe Gates, Meditations from the Mat

fire

Beneath those flames

the charred remains

of four years of work.

Therein the ash and smoke

lie thousands of hours of

hopes

dreams

plans.

The fire ate them all

with no regard

for the size or shape of the ideas.

I stood and fed the greedy tongues

as they hissed and sputtered,

devouring it all indiscriminately–

the fire and I whispering

all of your names

on the wind.

–Lunar Euphoria

 

Below is a video of another dance from the show Philomena’s Dream.  This medley is a collaboration of two dances across three different dance groups in Memphis: IDA, Jasmine’s Jewels, and Mystic River Dance.

The  choreographer of the candle dance is Isidora Hart. The song is Pachyderm Picnic by Brent Lewis.

Jasmine (of Dance with Jasmine) choreographed the second dance.  The song is Misirlou by Mosava.

I just wanted to share one of my favorite dances that our troupe performed in the show this month.  We started working on this dance around March of this year.

The song is Hanging Gardens by Mosavo on the album Mystic Babylon.  The choreographer is Feyrouz.

 

Love itself describes its own perfect. Be speechless and listen.

–Rumi

hammock

Out of nowhere El-D announced today that he is done being El-D. This is perfectly fine by me. Henceforth he will be called BeauJeau. Just thought you should know why there’s a new man in my life.

So anyway,  I somehow convinced BeauJeau to do an acroyoga class with me last night. Full disclosure: beer and wine were involved before hand – not a lot, but some, which probably had something to do his agreeability.

As a yoga teacher I feel it’s my duty to advise against drinking alcohol before practice. In other words, don’t try this at home kiddies!

Before we started with the acrobatics, we did passive partner work on the illiotibial band, which was quite enjoyable.  Relaxing on the mat and having my IT bands fondled was the best part of the class as far as I’m concerned.  Alas, the aggressively cheerful and energetic couple leading the class insisted we get off the mat and get to doing some balance work.

BeauJeau was the base, I was the flyer. I tried being his base at one point, but that didn’t work at all. I’m too little and he’s too big. He made a good foundation though.  At one point he lifted me up with his feet while I struck a flying superman pose. Then I did the same pose balanced in his hands. I was Jennifer Grey to his Patrick Swayze…

We saw the writing on the wall
And we felt this magical fantasy
Now with passion in our eyes
There’s no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each others hand
‘Cause we seem to understand the urgency…

Yes I swear it’s the truth.

 


…or that could just be the alcohol talking.

At one point in class I partnered with the instructor who somehow sent me doing somersaults in the air before I fully understood what was happening.

In BeauJeau’s words, the experience was summed up as “learning to do cirque du soleil.”

In my words, “I think I may be too old for this.”

In the final analysis, it was ridiculous and fun and nobody got hurt…unless you count the aftermath of today’s sore muscles – his abs, my biceps. Overall, it was a physical study in body mechanics, and in power/surrender, cooperation, trust, balance, and boundaries.

Yoga is yummy in so many different ways.

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