best things i read this week

Lately, a lot of people have been asking me what I'm reading, so here's a little round-up of the best or most interesting things I came across this week:

Getting Called Out for a Slur Taught Me How to Take Criticism—In this age of knee-jerk defensiveness, it's SO important to remember two things: what it feels like to be wrong (shitty, but that's how we grow), and how to gently point out someone's error (difficult, but necessary).

#MeToo Isn't Enough. Now Women Need to Get Ugly.—I remember my dad teaching me how to maneuver self-defense moves at like, age 10. Nothing about it was graceful or ladylike. "Kick him in the balls, or jab your fingers in his eyes," he'd calmly explain. Flash-forward about 10 years: I also remember being in college, and my then-boyfriend's supposed best friend saying things that made me uncomfortable, or trying to grind on me at a party. I didn't know what to do, and everyone deemed him "harmless," so I did what most women do: I gritted my teeth, offered a weak smile and avoided him. What I did not do was say, "Don’t say that to me. Don’t do that to me. I hate it." This piece by Barbara Kingsolver is really great.

To Hell and Back Again: A Day with the Marie Kondo Method—After we moved into a house last spring, I'm becoming more aware of all the stuff we've accumulated in just under a year. It's true that if you have space, you will fill it up. I've been slowly but surely getting rid of books and clothing and items I don't need, but preparing to fully clean out closets soon and this article made me laugh in preparation.

Facing a Mental Health Care System Gutted by Mayor Emanuel, Chicago Residents Plagued by Gun Violence Are Opting to Fund Their Own Clinics—The overall mental health services budget in Illinois was cut by $113.7 million between 2009 and 2012, and in addiction to a reduction in services, this leaves many individuals with nowhere to go for care. Add a sharp increase in gun violence over the years, and resulting PTSD symptoms from survivors, and you've got a big problem.  In response, Chicago residents in certain neighborhoods took it upon themselves to pay more in property taxes to establish a free community mental health center, the second of its kind in that area. Why? Because they know how necessary such benefits are, and if the state isn't going to provide it, apparently that responsibility falls on taxpayers in a different way.

No One Is Too Busy to Be Creative—"Ask yourself: “Is there anything that I’m even 1/8 of a percent curious about?" Liz Gilbert is the best when it comes to getting yourself creatively unstuck. 

I Used to Be a Human Being—As if we need yet another reason to practice being present, put down our phones/screens and single-task. In an oldie-but-a-goodie, Andrew Sullivan calls this our distraction sickness: "Every hour I spent online was not spent in the physical world. Every minute I was engrossed in a virtual interaction I was not involved in a human encounter. Every second absorbed in some trivia was a second less for any form of reflection, or calm, or spirituality. Multitasking was a mirage. This was a zero-sum question. I either lived as a voice online or I lived as a human being in the world that humans had lived in since the beginning of time. . . . Just look around you — at the people crouched over their phones as they walk the streets, or drive their cars, or walk their dogs, or play with their children. Observe yourself in line for coffee, or in a quick work break, or driving, or even just going to the bathroom. Visit an airport and see the sea of craned necks and dead eyes. We have gone from looking up and around to constantly looking down." Yeah, you get the drift. Be a human being.

On the book front: I finished Pachinko  (SO GOOD; can't stop thinking about the characters), read Courage Is Contagious in a single bath setting (which made me love Michelle Obama even more), thoroughly enjoyed The Royal We, a fictional take on Will and Kate's royal romance, and started The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (funny, relatable, easy to pick up and put down). Basically, by starting to read more at night before bed, I've finished more books in a month than I did last fall.