Category Archives: Books

Book Club: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace Pt. 3

If you enjoyed reading Last Night I Dreamed of Peace, or feel like you’re not done learning the lessons it initiated, here’s what I recommend…

Continue Reading:

Books –
The Sorrow of War
When Heaven and Earth Changed Places
Catfish and Mandala

Articles –
How the North Vietnamese remember the conflict 40 years after the fall of Saigon
Vietnam’s female spies who helped change the course of the war

Continue Watching:

YouTube Videos –
Viet Cong Tunnels and Traps
A Vietnamese Soldier’s Perspective
The Vietnam War’s Agent Orange Legacy

Documentary –
Chau, Beyond the Lines

Movie –
Dung Dot // Don’t Burn

Continue Listening:

Podcasts –
UnFictional – The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram
What is Agent Orange?

Continue Experiencing:

Field Trip –
Visit The Vietnam Center at Texas Tech University

Stay tuned for Part 4! And if you want exclusive book club content (incl. the full reading list and FREE printables) sent straight to your inbox — SIGN UP HERE

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Book Club: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace Pt. 2

(Photo Credit: http://www.news.zing.vn)

Let’s learn a bit more about Thuy’s remarkable diary and the journey it took to publication, shall we? Dang Thuy Tram, born in Vietnam in 1942, was a young doctor. During the Vietnam War, she worked for the People’s Army of Vietnam and Vietcong as a battlefield surgeon, clinic supervisor, and medical teacher. On June 22, 1970 she was killed by a patrol from the US 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment while fleeing from a clinic that was undergoing repeated attacks. She was 27 years old. The last two years of her life are chronicled in her diaries, published as Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.

“Last night I dreamed that Peace was established, I came back and saw everybody.”

Following Thuy’s death, her diary was discovered by Fred Whitehurst, a 22 year old military intelligence specialist under strict orders to burn any documents he encountered without military value. He defied these orders. Instead, choosing to follow the advice of a South Vietnamese translator who said, “Don’t burn this one. . . . It has fire in it already.” He kept Thuy’s pages for 35 years, hoping to some day return them to her family.

His search for her family initially fell short. Whitehurst had returned to the U.S. after the war and pursued a career in chemistry, earning a Ph.D. and joining the FBI. Eventually, he enlisted the help of his brother Robert, another Vietnam vet, and the two of them brought the diary to a conference at Texas Tech University, home of a Vietnam Archive, in 2005.

At the conference, they met up with a photographer named Ted Engelmann who was planning a trip to Vietnam for work. He offered to do some scouting efforts for the brothers while there. It worked! Engelmann located Thuy’s mom.

Shortly after finding themselves in possession of scanned copies of her work, Thuy’s family had the diary published in Vietnam. Nhật ký Đặng Thùy Trâm rapidly became a hit. 300,000 copies were sold in less than a year and reviews drew comparisons between the wartime diaries and the work of Anne Frank.

Amidst the success of the publication, the Whitehurst brothers traveled to Hanoi to meet the family and later they would all visit Lubbock, Texas where the diaries were archived. Upon seeing her daughter’s handwritten notebooks, Thuy’s mother said, “Her corpse is in Vietnam, but this is her soul.”

In 2007 Thuy’s diary was translated into English for broader publication and this book would include photographs of Thuy and her family from their personal collection. While Vietnamese readers were huge fans of the book, folks involved were worried American reactions might be mixed, due to the depiction of U.S. involvement in the war and Thuy’s frequent references to the “American devils.”

Regardless, readers found Thuy’s words provided an honest depiction of the realities of war. The deputy director of the Vietnam Archive said, “They contain an emotional element that is typically lacking in official documents.”

“Don’t burn this one. . . . It has fire in it already.” 

Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! And if you want exclusive book club content (incl. the full reading list and FREE printables) sent straight to your inbox — SIGN UP HERE. Part 3, coming soon!

Book Club: Last Night I Dreamed of Peace Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #4 in the Finding Delight Book Club. My how time flies! If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. This month, Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram translated by Andrew X. Pham.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“Come to me, squeeze my hand, know my loneliness,
and give me the love,  the strength to prevail
on the perilous road before me.” 

Synopsis

Amidst the deadliest portion of the Vietnam War, a young woman, Dang Thuy Tram, leaves her family behind in Hanoi and sets off to work in a field hospital. As a recently trained doctor she is tasked with treating civilians and soldiers alike as fierce guerrilla battles occur day in and day out within the foliage nearby.

For comfort, she writes in her diary. She records her patient encounters, friends who have been killed in the fighting, her longing for a man she calls M., and her dreams.

These wartime recollections were rescued when, at war’s end, American soldiers were burning documents. A Vietnamese translator got hold of Thuy’s diary and proclaimed, “Don’t burn this one, it has fire in it already.” 

Breaking protocol, an American officer preserved the diary and kept it for 35 years, eventually delivering it into the hands of Thuy’s mother. It was later published in Vietnam and then translated into English by Andrew X. Pham.

Last Night I Dreamed of Peace is the parting gift from an unlikely heroine, killed at 27. Her voice lives on to help generations to come remember that compassion and dignity can persist in the face of the atrocities of war.

“Half of  our heart is filled with red blood, half with black. In our mind there is also a balance between the bright, intelligent and beautiful facets and the dark, negative, and cowardly parts. If I can grasp that in its entirety, then I can achieve tranquility and stability in this life.”

Initial thoughts 

First off, don’t skip the introduction! This bit of text penned by Frances Fitzgerald (author of Fire in the Lake) is excellent and offers insightful observations about the book’s meaning, history and origins. I don’t know a ton about the Vietnam War and the introduction helped to place Thuy’s writing into the larger narrative of world conflicts.

The fact that the book is a diary, the interior monologue of a young woman enduring the realities of war, is what drew me to it. (Anyone else read Anne Frank as a kid and become obsessed with the war diary genre?) And a new doctor, no less! Throughout the book she talks of caring for wounded Viet Cong soldiers below the 17th parallel that divided Vietnam into North and South. Her life is often in danger as the American “enemy” and guerrillas wage war mere paces from her makeshift field hospitals.

There’s also an element of romance to her life’s tale as she followed a man from back home into this service. She talks of “M.” frequently in the pages of the diary. Unfortunately, they have both become so committed to their duties that striking things back up seems nearly impossible. Thuy mourns the loss of what could have been.

Given her proximity to the violent, bloody, gory scenes of war, it’s interesting to note that descriptions of such things are limited. But of course, Thuy is a physician, not a soldier. This means grappling with the aftermath, putting the pieces back together that war tore apart.

In translation, her writing is extremely lyrical. Less an account of what’s happening and more poetic perceptions and ponderings — about the damages of war, firm communist beliefs, relationships with the people she meets in the clinic, and sometimes their deaths too. This style, along with the repetitiveness of Thuy’s thoughts, could definitely be off-putting to some. But at the end of the day, she’s a woman in her 20’s who can’t figure out which dude she’s in love with! She’s the epitome of “in her feelings.” Add war to that emotional hotbox and I think I can excuse the fact that she often wants to discuss pining for men rather than the AK-47 wounds she sewed up earlier that day.

Finally, reading Thuy’s wartime recollections as an American is a thought-provoking exercise in seeing the “enemy” as human. It’s easy to relate to a person when they lay their hopes and fears bare on a page. Reading that she dreamed of peace hopefully serves as a reminder, that death as a result of war is always a tragedy, regardless of sides.

Read this if you’re interested in: the Vietnam War, medical history, women physicians, wartime diaries

Read this if you loved: Home Front Girl by Joan Whelen Morrison, The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, and When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip

Other works mentioned: Fire in the Lake by Frances Fitzgerald

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

Book Club: The Truths We Hold Pt. 4

Welcome back, Finding Delight Book Club members! Today is my final post about The Truths We Hold, and I’m turning it over to you. While it is great to read other people’s thoughts about a book and learn a bit more about an author and dive deeper into a subject with extended reading/listening watching … what I love most about book clubs is that it allows a space for tapping into your own feelings. So, shall we?

In the final chapter of The Truths We Hold, Kamala Harris shares 8 mantras which she and her team rely on as touchstones and guideposts. They use them as “starting points for policy conversations and as ways to determine whether we’re on the right track.” For our final thoughts on this book, I’d like us to take a moment to reflect on these mantras.

How can we apply these bits of wisdom? How can we start conversations, enact change, and lead the charge in our own lives and around issues that matter to us most? 

How can you embrace innovation?
What is a bold action you’d like to take? Are there risks involved?
How will you test your hypothesis?

In what instance would it be helpful for you to hear from other voices?
What questions would you ask?
How can you amplify those voices?

What happens when seemingly insignificant details get swept aside in favor of grand pronouncements?
Are there tedious tasks you can take on and actually enjoy?
What’s one tiny change you think could have a BIG impact on your life or the country?

How do you wield your words for good?
What words do you think are most powerful?
How can you make your language more inclusive?

Are there goals in your life that would benefit from reverse engineering?
Once you’ve worked backwards, are there ways to adapt the steps to make the end goal better and more attainable?
What can you say to the people in your life who tell you the answer is 8 without acknowledging that they added 4 and 4?

What are you fighting for?
Who are you fighting for?
How can you join forces with other folks?

Have you witnessed any “fights worth having” lately? How did they make you feel?
Who inspires you to keep fighting and to never back down?
What strategies can you use in your life to be brave in the face of adversity?

In what ways are you “first”? What have you achieved, what goals have you met, how have you succeeded?
Now, how can you pull others up with you?
Who do you “take into the room” with you? Who is cheering you on?

Have you read The Truths We Hold yet? Pop any answers or thoughts that come up out of the exercises above in the comments. I’d love to continue the conversation. If you haven’t read it yet, but your interest is sparked, you can order it HERE or check it out from your local library. These posts will be here for you at any time — 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

So, what’s next for our book club? Subscribe HERE to receive the full Finding Delight Reading List or tune in next week for PART 1 of a brand new book. 🙂

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Would You Do This?

Would you buy copies of your favorite book(s) in bulk and keep them on hand so you can give them away?

Mimi Ikonn mentions doing this in a house tour video I watched years ago and it’s such a great idea that it really stuck with me. As she says, “We always buy a couple extra copies of our favorite books. That way, when people come over and we end up talking about our favorite books, we can just give them a copy.”

She and her husband keep spare copies of The Alchemist. Isn’t that brilliant?

What books would you want to keep copies of? I think I would choose The Poisonwood Bible and Wild. Maybe an extra copy or two of my book club selections? But it is so hard to choose!

So, what do you think? Would you do this? Have you read anything lately that you loved so much you would totally rush out to buy extra copies??? Let’s chat below…

Book Club: The Truths We Hold Pt. 3

Last week, we learned a bit more about Kamala Harris by way of some additional content. I linked to interviews, articles, and videos that I hoped would help further your understanding of this political powerhouse.

Today, I’d like to use Kamala’s story as inspiration for other stories and messages I think are worthy of our examination. Below, you’ll find books about politics, fierce female leaders, feminism, and justice. Add these to your reading list if you drew power from The Truths We Hold. I think you’ll find their pages have a similar effect.

I’ve also included a round-up of documentaries that serve as excellent supplemental material for Kamala’s book. Watch the trailers and choose what looks most interesting. (Or watch all six!)

Finally, there’s a playlist of Kamala’s favorite jams (for our musically inclined readers) and a call to action to get involved with your favorite 2020 hopeful. Enjoy!

Continue Reading:

Books to add to your reading list – 

Continue Watching:

Documentaries – 

  • Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed [TRAILER]
  • Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise [TRAILER]
  • She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry [TRAILER]
  • A Ballerina’s Tale [TRAILER]
  • 13th [TRAILER]
  • The Women’s List [TRAILER]

Continue Listening:

Continue Experiencing:

  • Get the deets on ALL the 2020 presidential hopefuls! Read as much you can and stay informed on the issues. Look into what they’ve done and what they’re promising to do.
  • Find one you like? Get involved! This can be as simple as talking to friends about why you’re down for this particular person or as involved as hosting watch parties & volunteering with their campaign office.
  • For info on how to get involved with Kamala’s campaign — EVENTS / STORE / VOLUNTEER / DONATE 

Check out Part 2 for more with Kamala Harris.

Stay tuned for Part 4!

P.S. You can get a free Joyful Warrior sticker (pictured above) HERE.

Book Club: The Truths We Hold Pt. 2

Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our current book club book, shall we? Kamala Harris is an attorney and politician who has served as the junior U.S. senator from California since 2017. She launched her presidential campaign on January 27, 2019.

As a senator, she has supported lowering taxes for middle and working class folk, DREAMers, sanctuary cities, marijuana legalization, and single-payer healthcare. Harris doesn’t back down from a battle and has taken on the criminal justice system, Wall Street Banks, and opponents of marriage equality.

She was born in Oakland, California and graduated from Howard University and UC, Hastings College of Law. She’s worked in the San Francisco D.A.’s office and the City Attorney of San Francisco’s office. She was elected the District Attorney of San Francisco in 2004.

In 2010, she became California’s Attorney General, and was reelected in 2014. Next, she became U.S. senator–the first of Jamaican or Indian ancestry.

Harris is married to Douglas Emhoff, through which she has two stepchildren–they call her their Momala.

“My mother had a saying: ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things,
but make sure you’re not the last.’

More with Kamala Harris

Interviews —

KAMALA An interview on Call Your Girlfriend
In Pitch For President An interview on NPR’s Morning Edition
Seeking the Presidency to Preserve “The Truths We Hold” An interview on The Daily Show

Articles & Other Books —

To Shrink Jails, Let’s Reform Bail Op-ed in The New York Times
Senate Passage of SESTA Press release
Smart on Crime A Career Prosecutor’s Plan to Make Us Safer
Superheroes Are Everywhere A children’s book

Videos —

Launches 2020 Campaign Oakland rally
On Giving Every Teacher in America a Raise An interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers
On Truancy Rates View from the Bay in 2009

📚📚📚

Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! And if you want exclusive book club content (incl. the full reading list and FREE printables) sent straight to your inbox — SIGN UP HERE. Part 3, coming soon!

Book Club: The Truths We Hold Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #3 in the Finding Delight Book Club. If you haven’t heard, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. This month, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

“Democracy just cannot flourish amid fear. Liberty cannot bloom amid hate. Justice cannot take root amid rage. America must get to work. . . . We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred, and the mistrust.” 

Synopsis

Senator Kamala Harris’s book walks readers through the events of her childhood and early career which have shaped her views and informed her political prowess. First, she is the daughter of immigrants. Her father, an economist, is from Jamaica and her mother, a scientist, hailed from India. They met at UC-Berkeley where they would often attend civil rights events. Later, they would bring young Kamala in a stroller to marches.

This early involvement in activism continued throughout Harris’s young life, leading to law school, and a passion for justice that would establish her as an innovative change agent in law enforcement — first, as a prosecutor, and then through her role as deputy district attorney. From there, she quickly advanced to the elected position of District Attorney for San Francisco, followed by chief law enforcement officer for the entire state of California.

The book highlights key ways Harris provided a voice for the voiceless in these important roles — including a battle with the banks during the height of the foreclosure crisis. It also showcases how important people in her life have impacted her political approach. Most notably, the daughter of a cancer researcher, it is clear how her mother’s science background informs Harris’s emphasis on data-informed decision making.

Now a United States Senator, Harris walks readers through a variety of issues that are affecting her state, as well as our whole country, including; health care, national security, mass incarceration, immigration, the opioid crisis, and inequality. The story of her life and career create the framework for discussing the issues but Harris doesn’t stop there. She offers insight on the work that is still to be done and provides a vision for how we can face these things together — by seeing ourselves in each other. In doing so, we can kickstart a shared effort to create positive change in America.

“In the years to come, what matters most is that we see ourselves in one another’s struggles.”

Initial thoughts 

When I added The Truths We Hold to my 2019 book club list it was because I was interested in what Kamala Harris was doing as a junior United States Senator. I had recently heard her give a few interviews where she discussed her background and I was interested to learn more. Now, Harris has thrown her hat in the ring for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and this book has taken on a completely different meaning. Whereas before the choice felt driven by “What has she done?” now I find myself wondering, “What could she do?”

While the publication date of her autobiography does feel very convenient, I won’t fault her for that. (Obama pulled the same move, you’ll recall… and many of the 2020 hopefuls have followed suit.) The book does a great job in laying out her political platform. It’s a super engaging read and felt authentic in a way that many political memoirs don’t. If you’ve ever watched Harris speak or heard her interviewed, you’ll note that her books “sounds” like her.

Learning more about Harris’s early life was a lot of fun. Her background feels really unique (maybe because she’s not another joe-blow, white dude politician??) but at the same time super relatable. (Similarities with mine include: daughter of an economist, lived outside the U.S. for a bit as a kid, and college debater!) The biographical information weaved through most politician’s books are why I like them so much. It really gives you a window into what issues matter most to them and which they’ll be willing to fight hardest for. I recognize parts of these narratives are blown up a bit for the sake of the optics — but I feel like I have a pretty good bullshit meter and can suss out which ones are genuine and which are a stretch. None of the personal links within the pages of The Truths We Hold felt disingenuous. 

It was also interesting to note how quickly Harris’s career progressed from assistant prosecutor to U.S. Senator. I found myself deeply respecting her hustle and the hard work she’s invested in her career but also on behalf of her constituents, for whom it feels like she has a genuine care for.

Altogether, I believe The Truths We Hold will serve as an effective foundation for this 2020 hopeful and magnetic candidate. However, no matter who you’re backing for this upcoming race, Harris’s book paints an inspiring portrait of what leadership looks like in challenging times. So, if you’re wondering if you should add this memoir to your reading list, I VOTE YES!

Read this if you’re interested in: Politics, U.S. government, recent California history, successful women, leadership, current events

Read this if you loved: United by Cory Booker, This Fight Is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren, and Off the Sidelines by Kirsten Gillibrand. (You could just do a who’s-who of democratic hopefuls by way of Amazon shoppin’.)

Follow Kamala: Twitter and Instagram

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

Book Club: Woman Code Pt. 4

We’ve reached the end of our series on WomanCode by Alisa Vitti. If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling wildly inspired and wondering how you can start living in sync with your cycle.

Below, are some ideas for each phase. These are practices or rituals I plan to incorporate in my cycle moving forward. Many of these were pulled straight from the book or were inspired by some of the resources listed in Part 2. Feel free to contribute your own ideas in the comments below! After that, I’ve included a few printables to help us take our cycle syncing from brainstorming phase to practical application. Let’s get started!

Here are some actions and practices I plan to incorporate in my cycle:

Menstrual Phase

Lifestyle –

  • Spend some time with a journal
  • Plan for the month ahead
  • Add an extra hour to night’s sleep (or make time for an afternoon nap)
  • Gentle stretching every morning
  • Short, lazy walks in nature

Professional –

  • Wrap up loose ends
  • Schedule meetings focused on planning
  • Evaluate ongoing projects and determine next steps

Self-Care –

  • Beautiful accessories as adornment and celebration
  • Steer clear of social media and technology in the evenings
  • Cleansing, salty baths
  • Rose: essential oil, incense, quartz, maybe a whole bouquet!

Follicular Phase

Lifestyle – 

  • Tackle a new project in your home
  • RSVP yes to social outings
  • Try something outside your comfort zone
  • See a new movie or check out a new restaurant
  • Take a challenging exercise class

Professional – 

  • Dive into your most mentally challenging assignments
  • Plan brainstorming sessions with colleagues/clients who need your help
  • Start a new project you’ve been putting off

Self-Care – 

  • Restock your cupboards and fridge
  • Buy yourself flowers
  • Change your bed linens
  • Wear something daring
  • Play outside

Ovulatory Phase

Lifestyle – 

  • Attend events in your community
  • Have important conversations with loved ones
  • Go on dates
  • Stick to high impact workouts
  • Explore the great outdoors with a friend

Professional – 

  • Make any big asks
  • Collaborate as much as possible
  • Gather opinions and feedback

Self-Care – 

  • Listen to music and DANCE
  • Moisturize
  • Schedule those beauty appointments (haircuts, etc)
  • Book in for a massage
  • Focus on pleasure

Luteal Phase

Lifestyle – 

  • “Nesting” for upcoming menstruation —
  • ie. make your domestic space comfortable, catch up on laundry and cleaning, grocery shopping/meal prep
  • Schedule some “me time” with a good book or take yourself out for a solo meal or movie
  • Scale back intensity of workouts as the phase progresses

Professional – 

  • Prioritize administrative responsibilities
  • Take time for reporting (finances, operations, etc)
  • Check in with customers and clients

Self-Care – 

  • Detoxifying bath
  • Make time for meditation
  • Pop on a podcast
  • Drink lots of water
  • Bust out some Hygge essentials (this is inner-autumn, afterall)

Now, how can we make sure to implement all these great, cycle-specific ideas? I love the notion of keeping a cycle journal or binder to help plan for the phases. This would be a great habit to get into at the beginning of each cycle — map out the coming days and set intentions. Then, you can check in as you “flow” through each phase. You can also track symptoms, dates, and what resonates with you in each phase so you can continue to do right by your body.

I created a couple printables to do just that. One allows for an overview of the cycle. Use it to jot down an overall intention for the upcoming cycle and to keep track of over-arching needs and clues. The other includes a page for each phase so you can dig a little deeper.

Download them HERE and HERE!

Lots of love,
Beth

P.S. Make sure you SIGN UP to get a copy of the book club’s reading list. There’s an exciting book coming up next week!

If you enjoy my book club, please consider supporting what I do (and helping me keep my book-shelf stocked). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Book Club: Woman Code Pt. 3 (Cycle Syncing Meal Ideas!!)

As promised, today we’re going to dive in to what drew me to WomanCode by Alisa Vitti in the first place — FOOD. The idea that our body benefits from different foods at different parts of our menstrual cycle made a lot of sense to me. Certainly I’ve seen how my body reacts to food differently (in a more negative sense — hi bloating!) throughout the month, but was there a way to use food to nourish my body and give it more of what it needed in each phase?

Vitti breaks down the science behind syncing your cycle with food and I thought it would be fun to explore ways to incorporate this cyclical approach to nutrition in our own lives. On a very surface level, without getting into any discussion of micronutrients and vitamin supplementation, we can start by looking at each phase of the cycle as a season —

Menstrual Phase = Winter
Follicular Phase = Spring
Ovulatory Phase = Summer
Luteal Phase = Fall

The way your eating shifts as the seasons change during a calendar year can be mirrored as you make your way through your cycle. Foods we often associate with a (northern hemisphere) Spring-time meal; like leafy lettuce, eggs, grapefruit, and split peas — are great for the Follicular Phase. While things like squash and sweet potato, brown rice, apples and dates, foods we associate with Autumn, are ingredients we might consider during the Luteal Phase. Thinking of these seasons occurring as you pass through your cycle’s phases is a great place to start when syncing your cycle nutritionally.

To learn more about foods for your cycle, I definitely recommend picking up a copy of WomanCode (if you haven’t already). Vitti goes in-depth on the topic in Chapter 5, and there’s a handy chart on pages 159-60 with all sorts of food ideas for each phase. Using this info as a jumping off point, I decided to “cook up” some meal inspiration for us!

(Note: As I’ve been trying to incorporate these nutritional changes in my own life, my approach has been focused on additions not subtractions. I find this to be the easiest and healthiest way to make lasting changes. I would never advocate for highly prescriptive and restrictive eating plans and, in my experience, completely changing your eating habits can lead to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, I’m looking for ways to introduce cycle-supporting foods along with the foods I already enjoy/know work well for my body.)  

Ok, let’s get into the phases…

Foods for your Follicular Phase // Inner Spring 

The Follicular Phase comes after menstruation and lasts 7-10 days. At the beginning of this phase your estrogen and progesterone levels are at the lowest and then estrogen begins to steadily rise. Along with that rise in estrogen comes a rise in energy and creativity. You might feel like you want to get out in the world and try new things! So, what foods can help us through this rising trajectory? Lighter foods and energy-building foods. Stuff like green smoothies, salads, foods with active cultures, oats, cashews, sprouts, etc. These foods are also high in Vitamins A & B which help with healthy egg maturation (lookin’ at you upcoming ovulation!).

Follicular Breakfast Ideas:
Oatmeal with cashew milk and cinnamon
Artichoke egg cups
Avocado toast

Follicular Lunch Ideas:
Split pea soup with toast and a plum
Almond butter and sour jelly sandwich with an orange and a hard-boiled egg
Romaine lettuce salad topped with sprouts, avocado and lentils
Serenity Bowl

Follicular Dinner Ideas:
Roast chicken with broccoli and zucchini
Breakfast for dinner — scrambled eggs, chicken sausage links, grapefruit & avocado
Chicken and Barley soup
Marinara sauce served over zucchini noodles

Follicular Snack Ideas:
Brazil nuts
Pickles
Pomegranate seeds

Foods for your Ovulatory Phase // Inner Summer

Ovulation begins around day 14 and may present with some tell-tale signs: cervical mucus, a desire to be more social, and flirtiness (hint, hint).  As you might imagine, your natural energy is at it’s peak in this phase and your mood is pretty stable due to that estrogen rise. As a result, you might want to stick to lighter grains, stay low on carbs, and focus on lighter preparation of vegetables (steamed or raw). You also want to make sure you metabolize and eliminate surplus estrogen and for that you need fiber-rich veggies. Foods like quinoa, nuts, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, strawberries, and salmon are all great during ovulation.

Ovulatory Breakfast Ideas:
Almond croissant
Fruit Salad – cantaloupe, raspberry, and strawberries
Sliced banana topped with almond butter and shredded coconut
Smoothie made with coconut milk and frozen fruit

Ovulatory Lunch Ideas:
Tuna salad over spinach with dry-roasted almonds and raspberries on the side
Lamb Tacos
Spinach salad topped with feta, strawberries, pistachios and fennel, served with balsamic dressing

Ovulatory Dinner Ideas:
Red Lentil Dal over quinoa or red lentil soup
Eggplant Parmesan
Salmon served with asparagus and quinoa

Ovulatory Snack Ideas:
Tortilla chips
Pecan Pie Lara Bars
Chocolate covered strawberries

Foods for your Luteal Phase // Inner Autumn

During the Luteal Phase, progesterone starts to rise after ovulation. You may experience waning energy levels and near the end of the phase many women begin to notice PMS symptoms like mood swings, bloating, acne, and tender breasts. So in this phase you want to focus on foods that promote hormone health in a way that helps alleviate these symptoms. Foods like collard greens, spinach, and kale are rich in magnesium and help reduce bloating. Sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots help counteract irritability because they’re rich in B-Complex. And, similar to the ovulatory phase, you want to flush out excess estrogen (which can be the culprit of many PMS symptoms) with fiber; so brown rice, apples, dates, and root vegetables can all help decongest the large intestine.

Luteal Breakfast Ideas:
Roast sweet potato topped with nut butter, banana, and cacao nibs
Pumpkin overnight oats
Chocolate Omelette 

Luteal Lunch Ideas:
Hummus and Veggie plate with pumpkin-zucchini-carrot bread
Turkey sandwich served with an apple and coleslaw
Beef hotdog with carrots/celery and hummus and a peach
Taco mixture (rice, ground beef/beans, veggies)in a collard wrap

Luteal Dinner Ideas:
Beef fried rice
Baked cod with collard greens and sweet potato
Sweet potato, parsnip, and kale soup

Luteal Snack Ideas:
Date balls
Beef sticks
Roasted chickpeas

Foods for your Menstrual Phase // Inner Winter

The menstrual phase begins on day 1 of your cycle aka when you get your period. So, when you’re in the menstrual phase you’re losing blood. Therefore, it’s important to eat foods during menstruation that contain trace minerals and iron as well as help build blood. Essentially, foods for your menstrual phase should be deeply restorative to the blood and kidneys. These can include seaweed, beets, beans, water-rich fruits, and miso. Because your body is involved in an intense elimination process during this phase, you want to ADD nutrients back into your body through your food.

Menstrual Breakfast Ideas:
Kasha cereal
Smoothie made with protein powder and blackberries/blueberries
Bacon, kale & mushroom fry-up
Buckwheat blueberry muffins

Menstrual Lunch Ideas:
Brown rice sushi rolls with seaweed salad and miso soup
Tomato soup with grilled cheese
3-Bean soup and side salad

Menstrual Dinner Ideas:
Vegetarian Chili
Catfish and chips
Crab cakes with warm beet salad
Roast duck with wild rice and cranberry sauce

Menstrual Snack Ideas:
Grapes
Beet juice
Miso soup

What do you think? Will you try out some cycle-supporting foods in your coming phases // inner seasons? Let me know below! 

Check out last week’s post for tons of cycle syncing resources.

Stay tuned for PART 4!!!

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