I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, a Book Review

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World of Whiteness is a book that white people need to read. Especially if you consider yourself a Christian. It’s important because we need to understand what it is like to live each day as a Black person in white organizations and institutions so that we can change our thoughts and behavior and evolve.

In her memoir, Austin Channing Brown shares her experience of growing up, going to school & to college, going to church, and working as a Black woman in a white world. I’ll admit to feeling tired just reading it because it was so difficult to read about how she has been treated. And as someone with Christian roots, I felt deeply ashamed and sickened to learn that this is how many white “Christians” treat Black people.

The author describes the mental and emotional labor involved in getting hired and working for white organizations that claim they want a diverse staff and are anti-racist but act the opposite; the daily micro-aggressions that she experiences; the strategies she sets up in order to protect herself; how the feelings of white co-workers must be catered to so they will always feel good around her. And on and on.

This is not a feel-good book. It’s an opportunity for white people like myself to listen to and learn more about the Black experience of living in the U.S. And as the author says, to not end with dialogue and mere conversation, but to act on what we learn.

“Reconciliation is the pursuit of the impossible — an upside-down world where those who are powerful have relinquished that power to the margins. It’s reimagining an entirely different way of being with one another. Reconciliation requires imagination. It requires looking beyond what is to what could be. It looks beyond intentions to real outcomes, real hurts, real histories. How just, how equitable can our efforts be? What would it take to enact reparations, to make all things right?” (p. 171 &172)

I highly recommend I’m Still Here I hope you’ll put it on your TBR and read it soon.


We Should All Be Millionaires, a Book Review

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

Rachel Rodgers (owner of Hello Seven) shares her own story of growing up poor, working hard through law school, to becoming a lawyer, and then her years of growing a seven figure business.

This is not a book on how to get rich quick. Rather, the author presents many mindsets and hangups that prevent us from building wealthy and then shows us how to change our thinking.

The author encourages us to have focus, to have boundaries and to follow through on our goals as business owners and entrepreneurs instead of caving to every family member and friend’s whim and request. It’s ok to say no. She addresses the division of labor in heterosexual households and how to have conversations with one’s partner on this subject.

There are practical chapters on how to price your work, how to find a “squad” or group of likeminded people who can encourage you to stay the course. And toward the end of the book, there is a $10,000 in 10 Days Challenge. I told you it’s audacious!

Did I mention that Rachel Rodgers is funny? No matter how serious the content about making money is, she will make you laugh throughout the book.

Personally, this book came my way at a time when I was in a business slump and the message really encouraged me and re-energized me to go after my entrepreneurial goals again. I even bought a copy for my daughter for her eighteenth birthday.

We Should All Be Millionaires is a book that most women need to read and I highly recommend it.

Rooted (A Book Review)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

In her new book Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit Lyanda Lynn Haupt weaves together her love of nature, insights as a naturalist, life experiences, and philosophical musings as a creative, imaginative, and spiritual person. It is a delightful, informative, and thought-provoking read.

I enjoyed the personal stories that connected her deep love for the natural world that began as a child to her interest in spiritual matters that began with her Catholic upbringing and expanded to other religions and philosophies as she grew older.

The varied topics of frogs, moths, and birds, the reciprocal relationship between trees, earthing, forest bathing, Jungian philosophy, mindfulness, the life of Rachel Carson, the writings of Thomas Merton, camping solo, and night vision captured my attention and stirred my imagination.

The chapter “Relate” with the story of the kidnapping of the Salish Sea orcas in the 1960s and 1970s hit me hard. I’d never heard that tale before, but my innate antipathy towards aquariums and zoos was justified as I read.

In the same chapter, she brings up Descarte’s “I think therefore I am” statement that divided mind and matter, that further separated humans from nature, and encouraged us to think of ourselves as the only life forms with consciousness.

While this book speaks the hard truth, it is upbeat, nonjudgmental, and encourages us toward more connection and healing.

Now that we are on the edge of losing it all, some of us are slowly waking up, shedding our shoes, and taking barefooted steps back into the heart of nature, listening, reconnecting with our many plant and animal sisters and brothers, relearning the ways to reintegrate ourselves with nature. To become again. This book inspires us along these lines.

Read Rooted. You’ll be glad you did.

*I received a free e-galley from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.


People We Meet On Vacation, A Book Review

Hi readers, today I have a book to share that’s a bright and relaxing read. I am trying to add more of these in my life, as I often choose stacks non-fiction, mysteries or weightier fiction.

Just the right mix of romance, travel, and lighthearted fun made reading People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry a delight. Although I normally find books that tell a story by going back and forth between time periods a bit tedious, this one worked for me.

Told from Poppy’s perspective, we follow her and her best friend, Alex, as she weaves the present day and the past ten years of their vacation experiences together. No matter what they have going on in their lives, where they are, or who they’re currently in a relationship with, they meet up each year for a week-long trip somewhere together.

These two are so different which is what makes them so wrong for each other romantically. Or so they think. They remain just friends while attempting to dance around the fact of their attraction for one another. Will they remain best friends? Will they become lovers? Or will this ruin their relationship for good?

Highly recommended summer reading!


The Heron’s Cry, A Book Review

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

What I enjoy in each book by Ann Cleeves is her cast of troubled, quirky, fascinating, and lovable characters combined with a satisfying murder to solve.

Just as she’s done in her Shetland and Vera Stanhope series, her new Two Rivers series provides characters I care about and mysteries that stump me every time.

DI Matthew Venn lives with his husband, Jonathan, in a house by the seashore. Matthew’s religious past still haunts him, but he makes a very good detective. Jonathan runs a local non-profit called “The Woodyard” that employs differently-abled people through a café and provides studio space and hosts events for local artists. The murders in The Heron’s Cry do involve The Woodyard and artists, just like the first book did.

Detective Jen Rafferty, a single mother of two teens, also features in this book. She does excellent detective work and feels guilty that she can’t spend as much time with her kids as she’d like.

The Heron’s Cry begins early on with a ghastly murder that leads Matthew and the team to interview families of people who died by suicide and to investigate the health care facilities that treated them. They uncover a dark online club, the true story behind an incident in the past, and find the trail that points them to the person who connects it all together. Will they solve the case before yet another murder is committed?

If you like Ann Cleeves’ books, you will enjoy The Heron’s Cry. The release date is September 7, 2021. (If you like these books, there is good news: The Long Call, the first book in this series, is being made into a new TV series to be released on BritBox in early 2022!!!)



Evening Poetry, August 7

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

On Being Here

by Travis Mossotti

Let's move out to the twin rockers
on the porch. I'll give you the one
facing west, and we can watch together
the yellow lab as he trots down the street;
no longer rambunctiously lean, he wears
the solid form that old, well-fed dogs possess.

We are but minor rockings to him, somewhere
in the periphery, barely extant, like any
confident neighborhood stray he keeps
his nose up, his pace steady and fixed,
on his way, perhaps, to a memorable hydrant.
You and I know time is valuable, and a poem

can only give so much, but if you've got
a minute, wait here with me that much.
I promise you any moment now a breeze
will cross over the porch to steal a little 
of the stuff that makes us us, and in this way
we'll both be giving ourselves up to the wind.

You can find this poem in Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection.


Weekly Wrap-Up

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my blog ad-free.

Hello, readers, and happy August Saturday to you! May you savor the day, move a little more slowly, and find a way to live toward more ease. These are intentions I have set for myself that I want to extend to you.

In case you missed the blog posts from this week…

On Monday, I shared the review of The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue. (I am ordering her newest novel, The Beauty of Impossible Things, from the UK because it’s not out in the US yet.)

On Tuesday, I blogged about the new novel We Are The Brennans by Tracey Lange published by Celadon Books.

On Wednesday, I talked tinctures and shared my super simple herbal tincture recipe.

And on Friday, in the For Your Weekend blog post, I gathered some weekly podcast, book, and visual inspiration to share with you.

Have a lovely Saturday!





For Your Weekend

This August morning is one of the magical kind, that makes me wish I was taking the day off to spend at a beach or on a new trail in a forest. The colors outside are a perfect balance of blue sky, green landscape, and golden sunlight.

I may not be on holiday today, but I will enjoy quiet moments in the garden, picking a few flowers (if the bees will let me.) I’ll make some herbal sun tea and hang laundry on the clothesline. And perhaps Alan and I will drive down to Seneca Lake to eat our dinner and walk along the water’s edge.

It’s been a while since I shared weekly sources of inspiration, learning, or enjoyment, but I’m picking back up with a few of my favorites.

Podcasts

What Could Possibly Go Right?: Conversations With Cultural Scouts Podcast with Vicki Robin (author of Blessing the Hands That Feed Us: Lessons From a 10-Mile Diet and other books) is one I’ve been listening to since its inception last year.

Episode #50 with Katharine Wilkinson “Making Our Hearts Public in Climate Conversation” discussed allowing our emotions to be present when we talk about the climate crisis.

The Goal Digger Podcast with Jenna Kutcher: This week I needed some entrepreneurial inspiration (AKA a kick in the pants business-wise). Yes, Jenna is bubbly and always sounds a bit extra, but she is a super smart entrepreneur with a seven-figure business. Here are two I listened to this week:

What You ACTUALLY Need to Do Before Leaving Your 9 to 5

The Quick-Start Guide to Content Creation and Promotion

Books

I’m currently reading the captivating Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit by Lyanda Haupt which has flavors of one of my favorite books: <a href="http://Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants“>Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. When I finish Rooted, I’ll blog more about it.

Yesterday I finished reading The Heron’s Cry (Two Rivers Series) by Ann Cleeves. If you’re a mystery lover, you’ve probably read the Vera Stanhope series and Shetland series and possibly seen both series on tv. The Two Rivers series features DI Matthew Venn, who lives near the sea’s edge with his husband, Jonathan, who runs The Woodyard, a local non-profit that supports both differently-abled people and artists. They’re a fascinating pair, along with Jen Rafferty, the detective on Venn’s team. And the mystery aspect is very satisfying as well. More about this book in an upcoming post. Publishing date is September 7th.

I’m also reading People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry. This is a bright, upbeat novel that so far seems to be about two friends who are figuring out whether they want to just be friends or if they’re in love with each other. The protagonist, Poppy, is a travel writer who works for R+R, a popular travel magazine. She’s best friends with an Instagram influencer and, yes, she gets to travel around to different locations. I love the travel aspect, as I am most likely staying close to home for the rest of this year, anyway. More on this book when I finish it.

Visual Art

Jonna Jinton is a Swedish artist/musician/videographer and more. Her Youtube videos are stunning vlogs of her life in Northern Sweden: the landscape, the music, the close-to-nature lifestyle, her latest creative projects, and more.

Here’s a video I watched last week: Summer in the North

My Garden

Even though I haven’t had as much time as I hoped to spend weeding and planting this summer, the flowers and vegetables are abundant. To hear the humming of dozens of bees collecting pollen from the flowers makes me so happy. It feels good to know I provided some food for these valuable pollinators in the middle of the neighboring GMO cornfields that surround us. I’ve scattered the photos in this post.

Enjoy your weekend, friends!






How To Make Herbal Tinctures (Wellness Wednesday)

Herbal tinctures are a form of plant medicine used by Western herbalists. Whether you’re a clinically trained herbalist, a folk, community, or family herbalist, tinctures are easy to make, easy to use, and effective.

My formal herbal training so far has been based in aromatherapy (Western) and Ayurvedic herbalism (Eastern). Ayurveda differs from Western herbalism in that it usually requires rather large doses of bitter or otherwise not very palatable herbs. (If you can get Americans to swallow several grams of powdered herbs in hot water a few times a day, it’s a small miracle. Let’s face it, we’re wimps.) I usually put powdered Ayurvedic herbs, such as Triphala, Shatavari, and Dashmula, into capsules with my capsule-filling machine.

Large doses can make sense because most herbs are gentle and subtle compared to a tiny pharmaceutical pill. And sometimes a pharmaceutical option is what we need. But for all the times when it’s not, we can use plant medicine, along with other modalities, to work with our bodies and nurture them back to balance.

When it comes to Western herbalism, tinctures are an easy way to take medicine. Just put the drops in water and drink. My number one tincture, my favorite plant ally, is St. John’s Wort. Depression runs in my family, and it’s something that’s always with me, along with its friend, anxiety. Sometimes it’s just a small shadow in the corner and sometimes it threatens to take over. But it’s always been something I address in natural ways.

And before I talk about St. John’s Wort any further, if you’re thinking of trying it, make sure you read this article that lists side effects as well as contraindications with many pharmaceuticals. Educate yourself about your own health and always check with your health care professional before taking any new drugs, herbal or otherwise.

St. John’s Wort may reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate depression, anxiety, PMS, menopause, ADHD, can improve sleep, and more. My experience with it has been excellent, but I don’t take any pharmaceuticals and was aware to look out for possible side effects when I started taking it. (I never experienced any side effects.)

OK, so how do you make a tincture? Here you go!

Easy Tincture Recipe

1 clean pint mason jar with lid

bulk dried St. John’s Wort or other bulk dried herb

vodka or other flavorless alcohol

Label or tape

Fill the jar 1/3 to 1/2 full of dried herbs. Cover with vodka and screw on the lid. Label and date the jar and put it on a dark, dry shelf. Check it every day or so, giving it a gentle shake, topping up the jar with more vodka so the herbs stay covered. Let it sit for 4-6 weeks, shaking every once in a while, then strain through cheesecloth into a clean jar or into clean dropper bottles. Label and date the jar or bottles.

Health Disclaimer: Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits of herbs, essential oils, flower essences, or other plant medicine I write about on my blog have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition. The words in this post are my own opinions, based on my own experiences. Please see your health care professional before you take any supplement and if you need medical treatment of any kind.

We Are The Brennans, (A Book Review)

We Are The Brennans by Tracey Lange is the story of an Irish-American family trying to stay close and take care of one another despite what life throws their way. It reminded me of the late, beloved Maeve Binchy’s family dramas.

After an accident in LA, their sister, Sunday, returns to the family home in New York, where her father and brothers all live together. Coming home means Sunday has to rub shoulders with her ex-fiancé, who works with her brother Denny. Sunday slowly heals from her accident and begins to help out at the family pub.

As she sorts out her feelings for her ex, Kale, and works through what made her leave so suddenly five years earlier, dark family secrets begin to find the light of day.

Someone wants revenge on their family–someone who knows things that could ruin them. The Brennans will either face the painful truth and it will tear them apart or they will band together, stronger than ever.

If you like novels about families and the secrets they keep, you’ll enjoy reading We Are The Brennans.

*I received a free ARC of We Are The Brennans from Celadon Books in exchange for my honest review.