Category Archives: Brainpower

10 Daily Mantras Inspired by The Alchemist

mantras inspired by the alchemist

I recently finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Have you read it? I mentioned it in this post about a couple who keeps copies of it on hand to give to friends when they inevitably end up talking about it. I’m happy to have finally checked it off my list!

It is definitely one of those books that you want to read aloud a la Scheherazade/1001 nights because it’s so parable-y and mysterious. And it is also one of those books that is HIGHLY quotable! I found myself wanting to doodle the best parts in cursive all over my notebooks.

But then I thought, I can do one better! I can distill some of the key messages of the book down from quote —> daily mantra! (If you’ve been around these parts awhile, you know I LOVE a mantra.) Here are the 10 I settled on:

1. I face obstacles without fear.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” 

2. The right decision will reveal itself to me and always stand firm.

“If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return.” 

3. I choose to see the good in each day.

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” 

4. I am only defined by the present moment.

“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.” 

5. I don’t shine if you don’t shine. 

“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” 

6. I have confidence in my decisions.

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he has never dreamed of when he first made the decision.” 

7. Great achievements begin with ignoring the impossible.

“I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, not what actually does.” 

8. Failure allows us the opportunity to try again.

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

9. Live your own life!

“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

10. You won’t know how to do the thing until you do the thing.

“There is only one way to learn. It’s through action.” 

Which one is your favorite? Would you commit to saying it for a week to see how you feel? As an Enneagram 9, I think I’ll start incorporating #6, but #7 is also a favorite! 

P.S. You can read a whole series I wrote on mantras HERE — including 9 badasses who shared their favorite mantras with us and a 30 day mantra challenge!

Let’s chat about public policy!

Who wants to get nerdy for a couple minutes? If you’re down, let’s talk about the traits of effective public policy. Then, we can explore a really neat infographic brought to us by our friends at Norwich University.

Public policy affects us all, but what makes an effective policy and how can the success of different policies be measured? The infographic below highlights the main features of good public policy, discussing the most important issues and the formulae used to establish measures that work.

Public policy is a network of regulations, measures, systems and laws that are enforced or recommended to benefit people. Typically, policies are championed by a government or its representatives, with opponents lying in wait to make challenges and influence the decision-making process. 

According to the image below, the most crucial public policy issues in the US include strengthening the economy, increasing employment, reducing debt, defending the country against terrorism and making sure social security is financially sound. Additional concerns include promoting better education, protecting and improving Medicare, lowering the cost of healthcare, helping those in need and reducing crime rates. 

Effective public policy should solve problems and provide answers to questions, and it represents a combination of ‘good politics’ and ‘good policies.’ To draw up a strategy that works, it’s essential to define the problem and then undertake research and analysis to gather information and use data to make informed decisions. Planning and implementing policies involves a series of processes from collecting data for research purposes to drawing up budgets. Strong policies should solve issues efficiently and cost-effectively, promote citizenship, support democracy and facilitate justice. 

If you’re interested in public policy, or you’re keen to learn more about what makes a policy effective, take a closer look at the insightful infographic below. 


Infographic Design By Norwich University

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 4

Welcome back, Finding Delight Book Club members! Today is my final post about Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body 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 about a book and what it brings up for YOU. Sometimes this can be difficult when reading books by yourself. You read for entertainment and enjoyment, maybe you underline a passage that speaks to you or remark YAS! to a sentence that really rings true. But in a book club? We can dig a little deeper. So, shall we?

1. Roxane Gay highlights the way society treats fat people in unfair ways. People are quick to voice opinions and make remarks with little regard for compassion. We are constantly bombarded with messaging that being fat cannot be synonymous with being happy.

Explore your own battle with body image. How has mainstream media had an effect on how you view yourself?

2. In Hunger, Gay bravely recounts her story of sexual assault which occurred at a very young age.

How does this trauma play into her relationship with food?

3. This memoir highlights a common paradox, seeking body acceptance AND a physical transformation.

In what ways can we show kindness to ourselves and others when these two truths coexist?

4. Hunger isn’t always about food…

What else does the author hunger for?

5. Gay writes, “People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth might be.”

How would you describe the truth of YOUR body?

6. There are a lot of references throughout the book to damaging portrayals of weight/weight loss/fat shaming — gossip magazines, Oprah, The Biggest Loser — and we can surely call to mind many more that exist in mainstream media.

What media portrayals have you encountered recently that speak to body positivity and acceptance? Are you following any toxic social media accounts that you can remove in order to create a more loving feed/timeline for yourself?

Have you read Hunger 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 |

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

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 3

As a preteen, Roxane Gay experienced horrific sexual trauma perpetrated by a group of neighborhood boys. Hunger is a memoir about how her body was used and exploited and what has happened to her body since. Her writing is candid and open about the reasons she’s gained weight as a result of her trauma. She also shares what it’s like to navigate a world that cares little for folks they deem overweight. 

This book has so much to say about sexual assault, trauma, how society treats larger bodies, and believing women’s stories. Here is some expanded material on these themes…

Be Bigger, Fight Harder: Roxane Gay on a Lifetime of Hunger

Roxane Gay’s Hunger Complicates Narratives About Being Fat

Smile Sweetly, Don’t Shout

14 Women Open Up About Size Prejudice

Believing Women Means Believing Their Pain

The Sickening Consequence of Doubting and Dismissing Women and Girls

Finally, one of my favorite things about Roxane Gay is that she’s a prolific reader! So, if you want even MORE extended reading after Hunger, there’s no better person to turn to than the woman herself…

HERE she breaks down her 2018 in Reading and Writing. So there’s a TON of material to pore through to find your next great read. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 4! 

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 2

Part 2 for each book is typically where we dive into other works by the author of our current read. So, let’s get to it!

Roxane Gay is currently a visiting professor at Yale University as well as a writer and editor. If you enjoyed Hunger, you should absolutely pick up some of her other work…

An Untamed State

A novel about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

 

Bad Feminist

A collection of essays  spanning politics, criticism, and feminism. Through this collection, Gay reveals herself as one of our most interesting and important cultural critics.

 

World of Wakanda

Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey were the first black women to be lead writers for Marvel in this spin-off from the company’s Black Panther title. In it, Gay spins a Wakandan love story.

 

Difficult Women

A collection of fictional short stories that follow different women as they journey through a traumatic experience or something that sets them apart from the societal norm.

 

More on SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter
More to READ: The Year I Learned Everything, We Do Not Speak of Graceful Things, On the Death of Sandra Bland and Our Vulnerable Bodies, and MORE.
More to WATCH: On writing tips, The Nickel Boys, and Pretty Woman.

Pictured above – Roxane Gay presenting “Confessions of a Bad Feminist” which you can watch HERE

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Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! 

Part 3, coming soon!

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #7 in the Finding Delight Book Club. If you’re new to this series, I’m reading books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. The current pick is Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay.

“This body is resilient. It can endure all kinds of things. My body offers me the power of presence. My body is powerful.”

Synopsis

In this intimate and searing memoir, the New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls ‘wildly undisciplined’. She casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens and twenties – including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point in her young life – and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains and joys of her daily life.

With the bracing candour, vulnerability and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.

“Living in my body has expanded my empathy for other people and the truths of their bodies. Certainly, it has shown me the importance of inclusivity and acceptance
(not merely tolerance) for diverse body types.”

Initial Thoughts

Hunger is a gut-wrenching, vulnerable memoir that, at times, was super difficult to read. Yet, Gay’s wit and intelligence, coupled with short chapters, make it quite the page turner, nonetheless. You could easily devour this book in a day or take your time, letting the stories wash over you more slowly.

Gay recognizes all the ways in which our culture associates larger bodies with feelings of shame. She also shares all the ways in which her own body, and her relationship with food, have shaped her life and how she exists in this world. She shares stories of her life that speak to these themes, from her early childhood all the way to now as a bestselling author and sought-after speaker. While many of these experiences are painful and highlight all the ways our society could DO BETTER, they are never shared as an admonishment. Just stories, truth, as if Gay knows her audience are trusted friends.

I think anyone would benefit from reading this memoir. The writing is compelling. It’s a tough read, but the takeaways are so, so important. I saw one review online say Gay succeeds at “tough reporting from the inside out” and I couldn’t agree more.

“In our culture, we talk a lot about change and growing up, but man, we don’t talk nearly enough about how difficult it is. It is difficult.”

Read this if you’re interested in: body politics, women’s stories, feminism, society & culture

Read this if you loved: Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood, The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

Other books by Roxane Gay: Difficult Women, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, Ayiti

Keep a lookout for Part 2! I’ll be posting it soon.

Gilmore Girls Readathon Picks

The other day, a very enticing YouTube video popped up in my recommendeds. Announcing a GILMORE GIRLS READATHON! Of course I was curious what that could mean and of COURSE I clicked.

The video explained that the readathon was a challenge of sorts, inspired by none other than the Gilmore’s themselves — Lorelai and Rory. The YouTuber explained that the aim of the challenge was to choose 7 books, inspired by 7 different Gilmore Girls categories, and to read as much as you could between October 1st and October 15th. I loved all of her suggestions, but  I wanted to come up with a few of my own too!

Now, I probably won’t manage 7 books in 15 days (a girl can dream, but a girl has a job!). But I do think this is a super fun way to choose a Fall reading list. Afterall, Gilmore Girls is such a cozy, autumn-vibes show. Wouldn’t it be fun to rewatch and read your chosen books all season long?

Here are the 7 categories with a few of my suggestions for each! All of the books I picked are either ones I’ve read or they’re on my “to be read” list.

1. Book with a school setting (in honor of Yale & Chilton)

My picks:
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
T
he Secret History by Donna Tart

2. Book featuring a mother/daughter relationship (in honor of Lorelai & Rory Gilmore)

My picks:
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

3. Cozy book set during fall/winter (in honor of Stars Hollow & smelling snow with Lorelai)

My picks:
In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
One Day in December by Josie Silver

4. Book with complicated love interests (in honor of Dean, Jess, and Logan)

My picks:
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

5. Book written by an Asian author/has Asian representation (in honor of punk rocker girl Lane)

My picks:
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

6. The next book in a series you’ve yet to finish (in honor of A Year in the Life)

My picks:
Uglies series
Shatter Me series
Crazy Rich Asians series

7. Book with food on the cover/apart of the story (in honor of Luke’s diner)

My picks:
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Eggs by Jerry Spinelli

What do you think? Are you up for the challenge? 

P.S. More books for Fall. And movies, too!

Book Club: I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight Pt. 4

Books written by comedians is such a fun genre, don’t you think? They’re usually conversational, quick reads, and of course laugh-out-loud entertaining. So in honor of Margaret Cho, I thought it might be neat to share a few other books by comedians!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous, Yes Please is full of words to live by.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true.

Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow

From the writer and director of Knocked Up and the producer of Freaks and Geeks comes a collection of intimate, hilarious conversations with the biggest names in comedy from the past thirty years—including Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman, Harold Ramis, Seth Rogen, Chris Rock, and Lena Dunham.

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman

From the outrageously filthy and oddly innocent comedienne and star of the powerful 2015 film I Smile Back  comes a memoir—her first book—that is at once shockingly personal, surprisingly poignant, and still pee-in-your-pants funny.

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan 

Though he grew up in a large Irish-Catholic family, Jim was satisfied with the nomadic, nocturnal life of a standup comedian, and was content to be “that weird uncle who lives in an apartment by himself in New York that everyone in the family speculates about.” But all that changed when he married and found out his wife, Jeannie “is someone who gets pregnant looking at babies.”

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Which have you read? I’ve read Yes Please, Bossypants, and Dad is Fat, and the others are on my list! Do you like reading books by comedians? Let me know in the comments below!

Speaking of… If you haven’t read I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight yet, but it’s on your list, 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 |

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

Book Club: I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight Pt. 3

Last week, we learned a bit more about Margaret Cho. I shared some of her career highs, as well as links to read/listen/watch her elsewhere. I hope you enjoyed checking those out.

Today, I’d like to do something a little different and provide you with a round-up videos to watch. Enjoy…

On Fresh Off the Boat

On her mother

On sex positivity and feminism

On “Christian” groups

On her vagina

Stay tuned for Part 4! xoxo

Book Club: I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight Pt. 2

Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our current book club book, shall we? Margaret Cho is an American stand-up comedian and actress. She is best known for her stand-up routines in which she critiques current political and social problems.

For a complete run-down of her career highlights, I recommend checking out this IMDb bio HERE. There are just too many for me to cover in detail.

Her groundbreaking ABC sitcom, All-American Girl (1994), while short lived, was the first sitcom to feature an all Asian-American cast. The show was based on her own life and stand-up comedy act.

Later, her 1999 off Broadway one-woman show, I’m the One That I Want, toured nationally to great critical acclaim and was even turned into a book and feature film.

I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight is her second book and was released in 2005 alongside an audio reading, a DVD of a live taping of her Assassin tour, and a national book tour.

While she continues to earn accolades in both TV and comedy, her activism is also highly celebrated. She has been honored by GLAAD, American Women in Radio and Television, Lamda Legal Defense, NGLTF, PFLAG, and many more for her work in promoting equal rights for all. She has received the First Amendment Award from the ACLU and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at LA Pride in 2011.

“If you say you’re not a feminist, you’re almost denying your own existence.
To be a feminist is to be alive.”

More from Margaret Cho —

Read:
I’m the One That I Want
Listen:
The Margaret Cho podcast
Watch:
Margaret Cho: Beautiful (FREE w/ Amazon Prime)

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Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! 

Part 3, coming soon!