I read the book “Three Women” over the weekend – and let me tell you, that was some time seriously well spent. Are you familiar with this book? It was written by journalist Lisa Taddeo – she traveled around the country until she met three different women that she was interested in writing about. She followed their lives for eight years (talk about a time commitment!) – she moved to the towns were two of the women lived, she tells their stories through interviews, diaries, legal documents…all of these artifacts are pieced together to tell the story of these women, their desires, and how their lives play out. The book is FASCINATING. ♥️
One of the women she profiles is Maggie (actually her real name) – she has an inappropriate relationship with a teacher while in high school, eventually goes public with it…and is branded a whore. Of course – people can be so cruel. Her story plays out in Fargo, and after an administrative leave suspension, the predator who took advantage of her is back at work in a classroom (he was the North Dakota State Teacher of the Year in 2014, in case you’re interested)…and she has had struggle after struggle. This shit breaks my heart, for real – Maggie deserved better than the treatment she received. I hope that her life turns around, and that things are looking up for her – she SO deserves it.
The second woman profiled is Lina (not her real name) – she’s an Indiana homemaker and mother of two kids, and she is deeply unsatisfied in her marriage. I understand her problems, she’s starving for affection… but I’m not sure about the lengths she goes to when it comes to getting what she needs (digging up the bones of a relationship from high school, one that’s probably better left dead and gone). The way that her high school flame treats her makes me very uncomfortable, likely because I’ve let men treat me in that shitty manner as well. I think Lina’s story cut too close to home for me…I felt squirmy and awkward while reading it. It was tough…but SO well written.
The last woman profiled was the least relatable, at least to me – Sloane (again not her real name) is gorgeous, thin, successful, runs a fancy-pants restaurant, comes from wealth, and happily married…to a husband who likes to watch her have sex with other men and women. I found NOTHING relatable about her, to be frank, and most of her issues screamed of #firstworldproblems to me, but… I’m likely bitter because I’m not gorgeous, thin, nor successful! 😉 I wouldn’t be cool with someone who could only feel thrills by watching me get it on with someone else, though…that would be a hard pass for me. I found her personality in the book to be quite cold, calculating – and such a contrast to Maggie, who came across as passionate, sensitive, and invested in the life she was trying to make for herself. The contrast was an excellent dimension of the book, and really spoke to the depth of research the author did. Mind blowing!
Overall, this book was one that I couldn’t put down…I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it. Happiness is a good book! I have tremendous respect for the author and the work that she put in to telling the stories of these women, all driven by their own desires (what do desires even look like in women?), but taking dramatically different paths. ARGH! Such a great book! Get reading – you’ll love it! 😊
Yesterday I was talking about flipping the way we plan for the new year – instead of talking about all of the things we will do without, how about we focus on all of the great things we are planning to do? I love it! As promised, here’s the start of my list for the new year:
Spend more time reading! Plain and simple, it makes me happy – so why not do it more often? Yaa!
Get back to yoga! I’ve been feeling stiff and shitty lately, and it’s not getting any better…I need to get my arse back into a regular yoga practice. I predict it will make me feel better, inside and out. I’m not going to go crazy and declare that I need to do it daily, because I know that won’t happen (sadly my schedule isn’t conducive to that!). I will set the target for 3 times a week, and consider anything more than that a bonus. Yaa! I’m excited!!! 😊
More time writing – keeping a journal is an excellent thing for my mental health, and I’m going to do a better job of writing regularly in 2020. I started keeping a daily journal in March of 2019, and I wrote in it at least 5 days a week every week for the rest of the year – I noticed a difference in how I felt about things, and I noticed a significant difference in my stress levels. Success!
Take up meditation once and for all – I keep dabbling, trying it out…but nothing ever sticks, and I have to say that I often feel like a failure when trying to meditate. I get so easily distracted (it’s ridiculous), and then I get disheartened and give up. Not this time.
Eat better – I quit eating meat in September 2019, and it’s made a significant difference in how I feel. I have been eating seafood, and for now I will keep that going on – but meat is out. I’ve been working on getting more fruits and veg into the system, but that remains a struggle for me – I don’t know why. Actually, that’s a lie – I do know why. I like vegetables when somebody else prepares them for me, but I can’t stand them when I prepare them – go figure. It’s dumb. I’m going to try to do better with smoothies and get the fruits and veg in that way – as well, I will continue experimenting with supplements and see if I can’t improve my nutrition that way. All of the experts say that cutting out dairy is the way to go, but…it just makes me so sad. I love dairy – cheese, yogurt, cheese…. It’s all just so good. Yum.
Stop sweatin’ the small stuff – this will likely be the biggest challenge for the year, you know that? I’m a world-class fretter, and I can worry about nothing like it was my damn job. I’ve noticed that in the past year I’ve been able to let a lot of shit go that previously would have caused me to obsess, but I’ve still got such a long way to go. Hopefully this will be the year that I quit reacting to stupid shit, and only focus on what really matters.
Have more fun! I plan to embrace the idea of the return of the Roarin’ 20s with a passion – learn to dance the Charleston, wear a flapper dress (I bought a 20s style dress recently, actually…it’s gorgeous!), drink more gin, listen to more records, visit as many speakeasies as humanly possible, watch Midnight in Paris on repeat….all of it. Bring on the 20s – I’m ready!
This list is really specific to me and the things I want to focus on from a personal development perspective – of course I plan to spend more time with the kid and the family, enjoy them more, etc etc etc, all of that good stuff. I’m excited about all of it! Yaa!
What are you most looking forward to in the new year, friends?
I’m really feeling excited about the start of the new year – it’s a new decade, and it’s the 20s!!! WOOHOOOO!!!! Bring on the flapper dresses, and the gin, and the Charleston…all of it! Mostly I want an excuse to focus more on the fun things in life – this past decade has been a roller coaster of serious shit for me, and…I’m done. I need some levity in my life!!
I subscribe to the Quartzy newsletters, and I REALLY love what they send out on Fridays. This week’s came courtesy of Oliver Staley, Quartz’s culture and lifestyle editor. Here’s what he wrote:
I’m Oliver Staley, Quartz’s culture and lifestyle editor.
As we approach 2020, much of our conversation revolves around what we won’t be doing. Next year, I won’t avoid exercising. I won’t eat a second (or third) donut. I won’t watch The Masked Singer.
But what if we turned that around and talked about what we’re looking forward to in 2020? What will we do that’s fun, stimulating, interesting, or just relaxing? We asked Quartz’s culture reporters to weigh in with what they are most eagerly anticipating in the new year. This is what they told us:
Gerhard Richter: Painting After All. Come March, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art will put on the first major exhibit on German artist Gerhard Richter in the US in nearly 20 years. The show will span decades and encompass more than 100 of his works ranging from paintings to glass sculptures. Hits such as Betty, his enigmatic painting of his daughter, will be there, as well as lesser-known pieces and two new works. But what I’m really excited about are the abstracts.
His abstracts made me a fan before I knew the importance of Richter in modern art. I stumbled across some pictures online and they provoked an immediate reaction in me. He layers paint—often using a squeegee—in a way that gives it incredible depth, and his colors and lines make everything feel energetic. It’s going to be great to see so much of his work in person for the first time. (A 2020 bonus: The Whitney Museum of American Art will hold an amazing exhibit of Mexican muralists too.) —Marc Bain
The Good Lord Bird. I have always been fascinated by American abolitionist John Brown: I wrote about him for my senior history thesis in college, and I have devoured virtually every Brown-related book available. His life story is ripe for cinematic interpretation, and yet the only mainstream Hollywood depiction of Brown came in the 1940 film Santa Fe Trail. Raymond Massey’s portrayal of Brown was both inaccurate and offensive, depicting the abolitionist as a mere two-dimensional villain against whom the hero, Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart (played by Errol Flynn, naturally), could do battle. Until now, that is. Or at least, I hope.
Actor-writer Ethan Hawke will star as Brown in the upcoming Showtime miniseries The Good Lord Bird, based on the 2013 National Book Award-winning novel of the same name by James McBride, told from the point of view of a fictional freed slave who came across Brown during the violent confrontations called Bleeding Kansas. I don’t know if it’ll do Brown justice, but Hawke is a talented actor, and as the first serious attempt to bring the abolitionist to life on screen in 80 years, the miniseries has more than piqued my interest. —Adam Epstein
The Tokyo Olympics. I am an unrepentant Olympics geek. It has become fashionable in recent decades to badmouth the Olympics as wasteful, overly commercialized, and rife with drug cheats. Whatever. It’s an enormous spectacle, an opportunity to witness extraordinary athletes, and a chance to brush up on the rules of Greco-Roman wrestling. It’s also one of the few events that pulls together the entire world, and for no greater purpose than to play games. The 2020 version, which begins in July, is the first summer games in Japan since 1964, when Japan was emerging from the rubble of World War II.
The geopolitical landscape has changed, and as the Olympics have grown vastly more expensive, Japan emerged as one of the few countries with the wealth and will to hold them. Next year’s game features the return of baseball and softball (yay), the debut of skateboarding (ugh), and reemergence of stars like Simone Biles and Katie Ledeky from their four year hibernation out the limelight. I don’t know what else I’ll be doing this summer, but I do know what I will be watching. —Oliver Staley
Expo 2020 Dubai: Since attending the 2015 Expo in Milan, Expo 2020 Dubai has been on my calendar. For 173 days, over 190 nations will try to outdo each other in a grand showcase of soft power, design, and engineering. Spread across a 438-hectare (1,082 acres) space between the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the next world’s fair promises to be as bombastic and entertaining as earlier editions of the 168-year-old event.
The host city Dubai—known for its love of mega-projects—is feverishly building a “smart city” from the ground up. Attractions include a Bjarke Ingels-designed hyperloop, the world’s largest 360-degree projection screen, and ambitious structures using green technology.
Those who can’t make it to Expo 2020 can ogle daily attractions on Instagram. Follow #WorldExpo2020 and social media accounts of country pavilions. Apart from the architecture gawking, the fair also holds lessons about worker rights, ecology, and urbanism. —Anne Quito
House of Glass. After her grandmother’s death, Hadley Freeman, a journalist for the Guardian, found a shoebox in her cupboard. Inside were old photographs and a Pablo Picasso sketch—a most enthralling selection of clues. The result, 18 years in the making, is Freeman’s forthcoming memoir, House of Glass, which she describes as a tale of “family, art, fashion, war, betrayal, historical and modern antisemitism.”
The book traces Freeman’s family history, the difficult choices her grandmother and other ancestors were forced to make, and the extraordinary circumstances they found themselves in over the course of the 20th century.
Where one sibling would eventually rub shoulders with Christian Dior, Edith Piaf, and Picasso himself, another made a fortune as a microfilm pioneer. Yet another married an American, never returning to her native France. Freeman tells all their stories. Coming out in March, the book is already being heralded as “poignant” and “thrilling” in equal measures. I can’t wait to read it. —Natasha Frost
I’m going to start a movie nostalgia club. At our screenings, we will gather on my sofa and watch movies we grew up with—not so much inarguable classics like The Breakfast Club and When Harry Met Sally, but more forgotten personal favorites.
This came out of a conversation with my friend Emily about the 1987 Diane Keaton movie Baby Boom. We decided a screening was overdue. Everyone (okay, three people) who overheard us wanted in. Next up: Maid to Order (1987), starring Ally Sheedy as a maid in white ankle-boots with a chain-smoking fairy godmother played by Beverly D’Angelo. See also: Big Business (1988), in which Lily Tomlin and Bette Midlereach play a set of twins who were switched at birth. (They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore!)
I know I’m looking back instead of forward, but the thought of piling pals into my living room with popcorn and 30-year-old movies makes me feel happy and optimistic. Maybe by summertime we’ll be ready for the outdoor projector. — Jenni Avins
Have a happy New Year!
Isn’t this the best idea? I strongly dislike New Year’s resolutions anyway, and I REALLY dislike the idea of deprivation that is part of these resolutions – it’s all about what you’re not going to do/eat, etc…instead of the glorious things that you are planning to do with your life in the upcoming year. This email was a GREAT reminder of how to focus on the positive, and work on getting rid of the ‘elimination’ idea – let’s think about what we will have and do instead of what we won’t. I LOVE this!!!!!!! Stay tuned tomorrow for my list of things that I am going to LOVE doing in 2020!!!! 😊
I’ve been rereading the book “Grit” by Angela Duckworth again for work – you may have heard of her VERY famous Ted Talk on this topic (if you haven’t watched it, you should – it’s brilliant). I love this book, as it helps me acknowledge the areas of life that I’m very ‘gritty’ in, and the other areas where I tend to give up WAY too quickly…it’s a helpful reminder of the need to balance things out within me. She writes about a strategy used by Warren Buffett (yes, THEY Warren Buffett) to identify career goals: 1) Write down a list of 25 career goals. 2) Do some soul-searching and circle the give highest-priority goals – only five. 3)Take a good hard look at the 20 goals you didn’t circle – these you avoid at all costs, as these are the things that distract you, they eat away time and energy, taking your eye from the goals that matter more.
I read this plan over and over, and marveled at having 25 career goals in the first place! Yet, when I started jotting down my own list, I had to stop myself somewhere in the mid-30s…apparently there’s a lot I hope to accomplish in my life. The hard part for me is picking just five to focus on….I can’t seem to get past this step, which is likely why I have yet to accomplish all I strive to do. I’ve too many irons in the fire, and too many things on the go – the way to success is to narrow down the focus….I’ve just got to figure out how to do it.
I bought a new-to-me/used car last week – I got a 2016 Prius C, she’s tiny and I love her with all of my heart…I think her name is going to be Edna Eloise. She’s perfect for me, and I’m super-happy with her! 😊I’ve been listening to audiobooks while driving this week (haven’t got my Sirius transferred over yet) – first up has been “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson, and, humor aside, this book is full of majorly sound advice. I LOVE it. (**I’m listening through Scribd, a great book app that I am LOVING – if you haven’t checked it out, you should…it’s great!) It’s a great reminder not to sweat the little things, to let shit go when it doesn’t serve you, and to focus instead on the things you love and that matter. It’s a great book, and I highly recommend it – actually, I recommend both books I’ve talked about today. They seem to be contradictory (one is preaching passion and persistence, while the other is advising you to let more things go and maybe not try as hard), but both have an important lesson within them: figure out your passion, and persist until you get what you want…but don’t get distracted by the extraneous things around you. LOVE that message! 😊
Are you a watcher of ‘Fleabag’? If not, then you’d better runnotwalk to the nearest device and get started – it won’t take you long to get through both series, and I promise you that your life will be exponentially better for it. Seriously. It’s THAT good. The writing is smart, funny, full of things that we all think but few dare to say aloud. The acting is fantastic (seriously – Phoebe Waller-Bridge can say more with her eyebrows than most can manage with their mouths), the situations that our heroine finds herself in are frequently shocking, awkward, and so bloody real that you’ll be cringing along at home…the show is just delightful. Brilliant. A visual treat – we need more of these in our lives these days, methinks. The entire cast of characters brings their A game, they’re all written so real, so flawed, so fully formed, and so everything you hope you will find on a show…it’s all just great. Except it’s more than great, but I’m at a loss for words to express exactly how brilliant I find this show. Yep. THAT good.
I used to be a big TV watcher who kept up with a zillion shows, but in the past 6 years or so, my viewing habits have changed dramatically – I watch very few shows, as I just don’t seem to have the time nor the desire to watch everything and anything. When a show does come along that’s good (like ‘Fleabag’) I will likely binge it (just finished Season 2 of ‘Jack Ryan’ last night – LOVED it! John Krasinski is a really good Jack Ryan!)…although I did watch Hulu’s ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ weekly this year, and it was FANTASTIC!! If you haven’t seen that, check it out as well – it’s great, and the soundtrack is AWESOME!!! 😊 (Two standout tracks for your listening pleasure:
Anyway, ‘Fleabag the Scriptures’ was released this week – it’s the complete filming scripts for ‘Fleabag’ series 1 and 2, full of annotations of scene directions, other new writing from Phoebe Waller-Bridge…and the book is friggin’ DELIGHTFUL!!! 😊 I love rereading scenes that I’ve watched over and over again, as they feel different on the page than they did on the screen – not bad different of course, just different, and it’s kind of awesome. One of my favorite moments in the pilot is when Fleabag looks directly at the camera and says, “Do I have a MASSIVE arsehole?”…and it plays just as hilarious in the book! Yaa! 😊 This is a delightful collection that any lover of the show will want to have – I will likely watch the series again, just to thoroughly immerse myself in the whole Fleabag experience. Good thing I’ve got a few days off over Christmas, I smell a binge a-comin’!😊