January 2019 Reading List

Reading lists are my favorite. When I stumble across one for an artist or creator I know, I’m always inspired. When I put together my own, I’m excited because it’s a living, online record of everything I’ve engaged with. In the past, my goal was to create a list each week. Sometimes things get too busy,though, and that (overly ambitious) idea falls to the wayside.

Regardless, I love how reading lists can bring people together and share important ideas. This is a collection of things I’ve stumbled across so far in January. And if you’re interested, check out previous weeks right here.

1. On Mental Health

Mental health is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while, not only from my personal experiences, but experiences of people close to me. But it’s such a difficult topic to approach. Something that I thought was really interesting was this introspective piece by Benjamin Sledge. Here, he talks about the way we view mental health, and why it’s completely wrong.

“Whether they’re overweight — or even if they’re an athlete training for an IronMan — we root for the men and women training their bodies. If you see someone who’s fit in the gym you never ask, “Why on earth are you working out? You’re already fit!” Everyone knows maintenance requires work.

But the exact opposite is true of mental fitness.”

Isn’t that so true? We’re so willing to accept people working on themselves in literally every other aspect except for mental health. What does that say about our views, stereotypes, and the difficulty in changing our perceptions in a highly judgmental world?

2. On The Up-Side Of Social Media

Social media often gets a bad rap, especially in the realm of education. However, it’s not always bad, and this beautiful article from a mother about her daughter’s social media shows it in a positive light.

In the story, the mother discovers her daughter’s Instagram page filled with beautiful photography.

“Social media has been blamed for ruining our democracy, shortening our children’s attention spans and undermining the fabric of society. But through it, I was able to be with Paulina out in the world again, to see what she sees, to virtually stand beside her and witness the people and places she moves through, in nearly real time. Not in a parent-policing role, but in a wonderful-world sort of way.”

This warmed my heart. I’m happy to see an uplifting story about how powerful social media can be, rather than how it’s continually ‘destroying’ younger generations.

3. On Recognizing Privilege

Okay, this article was so important for me to read, digest, and re-read. The author, Jenée Desmond-Harris, discussed this topic with strength and eloquence. She talks about how people often use the collective ‘we’ when writing, but what does this ‘we’ actually stand for? Is it everyone, or just white Americans?

“When we suggest that something is true of everyone — or of a group of people — when it’s really a more accurate description of what’s true of white people in that group, it alienates readers and destroys trust: If you’ve forgotten that people of color exist, what else have you missed?”

I think this article is so very important to think about and talk (among all races and backgrounds!). Opening this kind of conversation, albeit awkward at times, can really help people to see their unconscious biases and work towards true harmony.

4. On Life Lessons

I love this poem about a mother’s fear for her unborn daughter. This reads as a letter, filled with hope, shame, and anxiousness about the world her child will face when she finally arrives.

“I feel forty-six pieces of her
forming inside of me:
Her fingers dig into the underside of my belly
button, and her feet kick ferociously
for freedom.
In this moment, I want to yell for her
to stop searching for a way to escape this haven.”

5. On Touch

With striking repetition of the lines, “How did I get here?” this story of a mother losing her son to alcoholism is one that pulls at the heart. The pain through the words is almost tangible.

6. On listening to our bodies.

Something I’m really working on in 2019 is learning to listen to myself and my body. I stumbled across this empowering piece by Tyler Calder on eating what feels good and it really resonated with me. In my early twenties, I was obsessed with being healthy. I was always worrying about calories, about food intake, and about being in great shape. (To the point that I was adopting toxic behaviors in the name of ‘wellness’!) It took me a while to understand what I was doing was wrong, but now I accept my imperfections, cravings, and ups and downs.

This article was a great reminder of that—how important it is to truly listen to ourselves, give into our needs, and do things we love.

“This year, instead of pressure, I’m choosing permission – permission to try something new, permission to give to myself without guilt, and permission to be imperfect in the process.”

7. On being burnt out.

It’s common knowledge in today’s society that millennials get a bad rap. Lazy, unmotivated, pretentious–you name it. I understand, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not true across the board. In fact, many people will argue that millennials are the burnout generation (and honestly, this is valid!). This BuzzFeed article explains it perfectly. It’s not that people are busy, but they’re over-scheduled. And it’s not that they’re doing all these difficult things; in fact, it’s the mundane that’s truly holding them back.

Do you find yourself struggling to get the simplest of tasks done? Pushing off small things under the guise of ‘not having enough time’? Me too. But what does that mean about the society we’re living in, and what we prioritize?

8. On celebrating young women of color in Congress.

I am so excited about the shift in voices, cultures, opinions, and political beliefs in Congress. This article on Elle features their voices in direct quotes, which is so meaningful to read. It’s a small glimpse into live in their shoes, which is so inspiring!

Sara Mora, a twenty-two-year-old activist and influencer said it best, “These newly elected women are trail blazers, and I hope to see them continue to tackle large issues all the while continuing to stand tall in their truth and their powerful voices.”

9. On Stillness

I’ve written countless articles on the practice of being still. It’s been one of my resolutions (in progress) for years, and something that really resonates with me living by the beach. When we teach ourselves to slow down, we find that we’re rejuvenated. In the book, The Art Of Stillness, this message is so prominent. It gives me encouragement heading into 2019.

“In an age of speed … nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”

Do you feel like you’re constantly moving, always rushing, forever trying to reach the next goal? Is stillness something you’re working on, too? My biggest focus for 2019 is this area.

What about you? What are you reading?
 

Featured Image Credit: Toa Heftiba