Weekend Reads

A few days late (SF recap to come!), but here's what I've been reading. Oh, and if you haven't voted yet, GO NOW. Here are 5 reasons why.

A personal story that about size and weight that will likely make you uncomfortable. Or maybe that's just me. I recognized myself at points in this essay, even if I'd rather not admit it. I admire her attempt to cut through the bullshit of the game of pretend women sometimes play: that staying fit and healthy -- or specifically, thin -- does not take work. I like that she asks why some women play this game for the benefit of others (namely, men). I don't prefer her particular version of fit/healthy for my own life, and I think there's some concerning paths of thought here that I wouldn't promote to my, let's say, 16-year-old sister, but I do think it's powerful that she basically owns up to the fact that she makes an effort -- something I think a lot of women wouldn't actually do. Related: see this Instagram.

Two things I do, in fact, want to eat soon, and my new favorite snack bar (discovered at a coffee shop in Iowa City).

"There is nothing wrong with celebrities (or men) claiming feminism and talking about feminism. I support anything that broadens the message of gender equality and tempers the stigma of the feminist label. We run into trouble, though, when we celebrate celebrity feminism while avoiding the actual work of feminism." -- Roxanne Gay, whose collection of essays I devoured on a recent plane ride

A theme in my yoga classes lately.

A HILARIOUS flow chart to help you practice the art of not giving a shit.

6 ways to deal with rejection, if you've been served up big heaping bowls of No lately in life. #3 and #6 particularly resonated with me.

A different perspective on posing nude from some badass Playboy alums.

Oh, and I'm a new convert to Baldwin denim. I usually spend $40 at Gap on a pair of jeans, but that was six years ago, so I sucked it up and invested in some quality pairs, all thanks to Kiley.

Another great interview with Mindy. I could sit in a room and listen to her talk all day long.

So again, if you have time to read this post, you have time to go vote. The end. And if you voted, YAY YOU! You're awesome.

Weekend Reads

After a mini blog hiatus, I've been fully tugged into fall. This is my favorite time of year, not because of pumpkin spice lattes and boots and colorful leaves -- and liking those things makes me basic, right? -- but because it reminds me of going back to school, of newness and exploration concurrent with rooting down and warming up from the inside out. It's a busy period, and right now I'm continually reminded that a full calendar is not the same thing as a full life. My calendar is filled with yoga classes to teach and college writing lessons to plan and work projects to finish and conferences to attend and friends to visit and freelance articles to write and family to see and art center meetings to prepare, and some days, it feels like too much. Because it is a little too much, even if it's all good. Seeing 21 unfinished blog posts in my drafts folder forced me to check back in with my own priorities... somehow writing is always one of the first things to fall off my list, even though it's one of the most important.

That being said, let's officially kick off this season with a round of weekend reads ...

"It’s OK to want what you want. In fact, if you don’t start there, with actually owning your desire, you are doomed. Own the wanting. Without apology. And all good things will start to flow from claiming the desire.” -- Danielle LaPorte

How to do a life audit.

Kate Conner says to stop collecting advice that support your natural bent, because you need to actually do the opposite:

give live


A history of the bucket list phenomenon: "What if, instead, we compiled a different kind of list, not of goals to be crossed out but of touchstones to be sought out over and over, with our understanding deepening as we draw nearer to death?"

Working on this: Commitment based on HELL YEAH.

7 questions to find your purpose.

"Adulthood as we have known it has become conceptually untenable. It isn’t only that patriarchy in the strict, old-school Don Draper sense has fallen apart. It’s that it may never really have existed in the first place... Which raises the question: Should we mourn the departed or dance on its grave?" -- A.O. Scott

"It's kind of a set-up. The world tells us to be selfless and then hands us a self."

A powerful, thoughtful meditation on death, dying and modern medicine.

"Our friends, our people, are who create the stories of our lives with us, and who will tell those stories in our absence." -- Allison Slater Tate

Weekend Reads

Happy Friday, friends! If you can listen to this song and not bounce around, then fine, you are allowed to dislike TSwift. But you're missing out!

How you can be nice and still self-promote or throw your hat in the ring. In other words, be a tiger.

Tell me you've never heard these awful (albeit hilarious) mantras in a yoga class...

Use your words.

A cool new song from one of my favorite artists, with a beautifully intimate video.

"The great thing about life is—the terrible thing about life is—that everything is mixed up. All the things that you thought were one way suddenly turn out to be another way. . . So it’s very weird. But nobody’s perfect."

Why I'm lucky to have two fantastic sisters.

"You feel how you feel. The things in your head are the things in your head. You can’t change either directly through sheer force of will. You can only change what you do."

One writer's journey to find his voice.

There are many touching, thoughtful and heartbreaking stories about Robin Williams going around lately, but this journalist's defense of covering the actor's death is an important lens.

The claim that we should eat less fish.

A critical, long piece on why Syria is terribly dangerous for reporters and journalists.

This 75-year-long study says men who have good relationships with their mamas make more money. 

In defense of typos.

Ask for what you want.

Weekend Reads

This weekend, for me, is ideally full of writing projects, yoga, outdoor time so long as the weather permits, church and catching up with friends. And maybe a new bike! (Can someone explain why bikes -- like normal, ride-around-town bikes -- are so grossly expensive?!) Happy Friday! Great links include:

Why body hatred is ... boring.

"The protesters say they're opposed to abortion because they're Christian . . . . It's hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I'm a Christian." -- Check out Dr. Willie Parker's thought-provoking Esquire interview.

9 hilarious rules for yoga teachers.

Grace Bonney's lessons for building an empire.

Cheerio commercials keep getting better and better. Way to go, Dad.

Survey results about why residents love and hate their cities.

Why you should read The Circle.

Pretty sure I felt this way about all my favorite songs when I was age 8-14. Ha.

84 years of volunteer weather reporting?!

Loving this groovy song lately, but more importantly, can this video be turned into a real movie? Dianna Agron and Chris Messina make heartbreak and cheating look so good.

And on that note, the importance of kindness and generosity for the longevity of our relationships.

Weekend Reads

In the summer, I try to take advantage of beautiful weather and downtime as much as possible -- and while I love blogging and reading online, I do also try to decrease my screen time during these special months. I'm no different than any other Midwesterner who waits all year for warm sunshine, so I've wanted to enjoy it to the max. And since it's August (geez, already!), I already find myself in back-to-school mode, getting ready for a new season of life. I've spent the past few weeks re-thinking my approach to writing, blogging, reading and well, my choices in general, to make sure that I'm prioritizing what's most important and fulfilling to me. Stay tuned for a multitude of book reviews, some new blogging endeavors and more personal content going forward.

Enjoy this lovely Sunday, and these great links:

A better script for telling people what you do for a living.

Why you should always bring a sweater to the office.

Are you friends with these 7 co-workers? (I personally can't handle #1 and #2.)

How historical car regulation methods could be used with gun control efforts.

Can't wait to see this film. Of course Johnny Depp is the wolf.

A beautiful essay that has stayed on my mind.

One new way to consider your career. (And why failure is crucial to reinvention, longevity and progress.)

An optimistic opinion: "Fans view music the way they view their relationships." 

This song is hilaaaaaarious.

Why living in truth means embracing discomfort.

An eye-opening claim about Whole Foods.

Listen to this song and try not to dance happily.

Weekend Reads

It's April, and the weather is finally getting nicer! Here's the usual mix of think pieces, quotes and articles that have been on my radar lately: Does it matter if the rich getting richer, so long as you get your bonus?

Some tips on negotiating as a female.

Why too expensive often means "it's just not worth it." Also, check out Godin's seminars on Skillshare -- I just took one of his marketing ones and it was excellent.

On cultivating insight.

Gorgeous churches revived as libraries.

Chill out about the Kim Kardashian Vogue cover. (And I hope you weren't actually all worked up about it.)

Instead, learn about these truly cool women.

Figure out how your creative work serves the world.

23 good times to say no. #23 made me laugh out loud, it's so true.

Ladies, please just starting liking your bodies already.

Weekend Reads

Surprise, surprise: being a puppy parent and starting a new job within the same 30 days takes a pretty big toll on one's life. Namely free time with zero interruption. I realize this is a fact of life with a dog (AND KIDS EVENTUALLY I KNOW GUYS), but I'm still getting used to it all -- waking up by 7 a.m. even on the weekends, monitoring Stanley as he attempts to chew every single thing in the apartment (except his toys), taking a quick nap instead of reading, and so on. And I forgot how a new job can be exhausting and stimulating all at once, as I've had to face a learning curve transitioning into technology-oriented projects with more responsibility as well as putting names to faces in my new department. But all of that is just temporary, and I'm looking forward to getting back on track in terms of reading and writing and blogging... perhaps with my newly gained morning hours! Ha. Right now I just drink coffee and watch the news and say NO! to Stanley a million times.

Media outlets continue to bombard the American public with endless stories about the missing Malaysian plane. I'll be honest, I've not been following this much at all, primarily because the onslaught of theories and facts and details and claims is overwhelming. Jack Shafer addresses the issue of overcoverage at Reuters in an important way, noting that humans have always been drawn to stories of disaster and mystery, and that today's media is bound to make mistakes or produce conflicting reports in light of the fast-paced speed of the news world.


Though I'm curious about why the plane is missing, and certainly my heart goes out to the families of those on that plane, I guess I don't feel the need to "keep up" with the entire scenario. Is that bad? I don't know.

What do you think -- are you fascinated by the missing plane, keeping up with every news items, or not really paying close attention?

Speaking of news, this detailed explanation of the new NYT Now mobile summary app is extremely interesting. Dan Nosowitz calls it a platform change due to reader trends shifting from web to mobile:  "Mobile news readers are doing something akin to 'snacking': instead of reading the morning paper, or diving deep into news sites on a lunch break, mobile users pull out their phones often, multiple times a day, for shorter lengths of time."


Definitely true for a lot of folks. I do this all the time, particularly during the week; instead of sitting down to read or watch the news (a luxury often reserved for weekends), I try to stay up to speed during small pockets of downtime. One of my good friends, who is a news anchor in the Quad Cities, even has alerts sent to her phone from various news apps, so that she's constantly informed (part of her job, yeah, but the same concept).

Nosowitz writes, "The idea [with the NYT app] is that at a glance, you can get a sense for what's going on in the world, rather than having to pore through sections and stories as you would on a more traditional app or site. What NYT Now is doing is like an elaborate New York Times-centric Twitter feed: instead of a headline and a link, you get bullet points, a picture, and a link. And you're relying on the NYT Now staff to pick the stories you care about. It's almost like a newsletter, except it updates constantly instead of being sent once a day."

The catch: it's $8 a month. Would you pay it, or do your own summarizing of the news for free?

This next piece is a long read, but crucial for anyone who does any sort of freelancing work via the web. Sarah Kessler spends a month in the "gig economy," a term for a collaborative, shared economy where people work project-to-project rather than for corporate America.


Wow. Her experience is not only a good story, but an incredible testimonial in opposition to digital employment (at least, the way it stands now). I've dipped my toes into these waters over the past year, and I share some of her complaints. All these new sites that promise to deliver paid work? They're not lying, but they usually don't disclose the fact that SO many Internet users are vying for the same $10 position. Especially with all the writing and editing gigs -- I can't tell you how many times I've seen a posting that asks for 20 hours of work but only wants to pay $50 or something equally ridiculous. And the thing is, people are willing to do it.

What do you think of digital employment? Does it really provide a sense of freedom and security in comparison to the corporate world? Have you taken on odd jobs from the web?

Okay, let's talk television. Two great reads for you!

In a recent episode of GIRLS, Marnie works at a friend's art gallery where she tries to help lay out an exhibit with the artists. Jessa storms in and steals the show, naturally (I won't spoil it, but it's a funny scene and predictable to the nature of the characters). But get this: the artist is played by Louise Lasser, an actress who played the protagonist in a unique tv show in the '70's called Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. The show was known as a unique (for its time) critique of American consumer culture. Lasser also happened to be married to Woody Allen for a while, which may or may not be interesting to you, but her commentary on the marriage in this interview with Claire Barliant at The Toast sure is.

louise lasser

And if you're a Mad Men fan who anxiously awaits the final season, you may want to read this interview with the show's creator Matthew Weiner.

matthew weiner

He shares insights on episode themes and character dialogue, how he transposed real moments from his past into anecdotes on the show, why he thinks Don Draper is an Everyman and reflections on why audience viewers love Joan and Peggy and love to hate Betty and Don. Cannot. Wait. For April 13. (For more, see a longer piece by the interviewer, Hanna Rosin of The Atlantic.)

On a completely different note, Katie McDonough at Salon writes a biting essay about recent Republican talk that seems pro-women on the surface... except, oh wait, no. (Disclaimer: I'm Democrat and honestly seek ways to find common ground across parties, but then I read a story like this and it seems impossible. To say the least.) She says, "Republican rhetoric about modern ladies making their modern way in the modern world falls away pretty quickly when you apply a little pressure — particularly when it comes to reproductive rights and abortion care. This becomes abundantly clear in a state like Texas, where women and other people seeking abortion must wait 24 hours, undergo coercive counseling and have their ultrasounds described to them in detail before they can make a decision about their health. . . You’re left with the distinct impression that the GOP believes women can sometimes be fiercely independent — but are mostly really, really stupid." Honestly, I continue to be absolutely baffled that women's reproductive choices are in the arena of political discourse like this at times.

Vent over. Your reward for reaching the end of this post is THIS!


Extreme dog grooming photos. These are real life. Get some laughs on this sunshine-y Friday.

5 Weekend Reads

Like everyone else (particularly in the Midwest), I've reached that point in winter where it feels like it will NEVER BE WARM AGAIN. Even when it's sunny out, it's still freezing and there is snow on the ground. I'm tired of wearing boots and a coat. I'm bored of television and reading indoors. I'm done talking about how awful it is outside, weather-wise. And then good ole Phil had to go and predict six more weeks of it! I was reminded last week, however, that I'm lucky to live someplace that is more than equipped to deal with nasty weather--as opposed to the South. Check out these photos.

snow - the atlantic

I'll admit, at first I was like, "Two inches resulted in this? How is that even possible?? We get a foot of snow and ice and it's below zero and I still go to work." My best friend lives in South Carolina and had the same reaction when her friends panicked about their pipes freezing despite seemingly fine temperatures; she assumed they were overreacting... except they weren't, because the pipes in houses there are not the same as the ones in Illinois. So even though winter becomes tiresome in Iowa, I remained thankful that it doesn't completely disrupt life.

Still, I've had to work hard to avoid the seasonal depression that comes with dreary days and cold temperatures. This sweet post by Kate Conner, referencing a phrase by another writer, Shauna Niequist, pinpoints exactly how I've been feeling lately for all sorts of reasons. Conner says, "You know how puppies in a box sleep? In a big snuggly heap, all piled on top of each other and nuzzled in?" (Tell me that doesn't immediately sound DELIGHTFUL.)

puppy box

Well, according to Niequist, change is like that, it's like being out of your puppy box, when everything feels cold and lonely and you just want to be safe and warm again. I love this description, so much, in fact, that thinking of it made me tear up a few times last week as I faced various challenges in my day-to-day life at the moment. Being out of your puppy box sucks, and it makes you want to whimper. I think as humans, we forget that we need each other, we need to be nestled up against each other with love and kindness and connection. And when we are lacking some of that, among other hardships, it puts us entirely outside our comfort zone. (Also: I'm puppy-sitting a pug this week and that fact combined with this article makes me want a pet like no other.)

When I'm feeling down and out of sorts, I also try to read as many stories as possible (like the one below), because that helps me remember that my life is pretty damn good, all things considered and gets me out of my own head.  Paul Kalanithi, a chief resident at Stanford University, wrote the most beautiful reflection on having cancer at age 36.


He's a physician, so he knows up close and personal how to talk to patients about a diagnosis... except, of course, it's different when it's his life on the table. He says, "The path forward would seem obvious, if only I knew how many months or years I had left. Tell me three months, I’d just spend time with family. Tell me one year, I’d have a plan (write that book). Give me 10 years, I’d get back to treating diseases. The pedestrian truth that you live one day at a time didn’t help: What was I supposed to do with that day? My oncologist would say only: 'I can’t tell you a time. You’ve got to find what matters most to you.' I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live." Kalanithi's words are powerful, hopeful and honest in the face of disease and the unknown.

On a lighter note, Leandra Medine's chatty discourse about cleansing herself of iPhone attachment made me laugh.

iphone addiction

Countless articles exist right now on the theme of our collective addiction to technology, but this one is great because she details how different her choices are without a cell phone at her side. She says, "Without wondering whether anyone was e-mailing, or texting, or calling, or @-ing me, I had nothing to do but be where I was." Ha. And isn't that what we want? Sometimes nowadays I leave my phone at home on purpose, and I'm always horrified/amazed at how quickly I'm reaching for the phantom device to . . . do what? Call someone? Text? Look at social media? Really, I don't need it with me all the time. If I'm going out to dinner, I don't bring it with me--because I don't need to talk to anyone but the person I'm with. When I go to yoga, I don't bring it with me--because I need to reveal in the stillness before and after, not clunk myself up with distractions again. Lately, I try to leave it at home whenever possible, and I think of a cell phone as a compliment to my daily life... not the be-all, end-all. It's surprisingly hard, but a good exercise. You see, hear, think and feel much more when you aren't glued to a tiny glowing screen.

And finally, ever since I started writing for Silicon Prairie News, I've started paying closer attention to the world of entrepreneurs, start-ups and mobile applications. (It also helps that some of my dear friends in Des Moines are incredibly computer science-savvy and work at companies focused on changing the world, one technological advancement at a time.) Have you heard of ORGANIZE? It's an app created by Greg Segal to "dramatically increase the number of organ donors in the U.S. and create the first central organ donation registry."

organize app

This cloud-based app could streamline organ donor registration across states, decreasing complications upon signup and for families dealing with donation decisions in light of a death or serious disease. Their passion revolves around the waiting period for organ donors, and the logic that if there were more donors, the waiting period could be decreased. I'm not sure if that's actually true or not, but as an organ donor, I love that one guy took it into his own hands to make an important system more efficient.

All in all, be thankful for your health, cuddle a puppy if you own one (or a friend works, too), set your phone down a few times a day and know that spring is just around the corner.