09 Aug 2020, 08:37

Covid19 Parks and More

The last however many months have been challenging to say the least - high expectations for a great year were dashed somewhere in February or March when we started staying home due to the global pandemic. It’s still weird to even say, because it feels like we’re living through such a profoundly surreal time.

We are living through a profoundly surreal time. During this time there has been a global rebellion pushing for equality for all - with serious conversations related to defunding the police and the inequitable treatment of Black people across the world, and specifically the USA. People I never would have expected to be talking about abolition are having real conversations about it.

There has been a push towards returning back to normal, as if the pandemic is over and not increasing in numbers. There is increased and unreported police violence across states in the USA. I’m not sure what to do beyond show up and donate, but we’ve been donating often to a variety of causes and groups both official and unofficial to try and support these efforts. I’ve been writing more letters to government members expressing my views, and leveraging my priviledged position where ever possible.

In the more personal - we had registered our child in school starting this year, and now we’re not going to be sending him due to inadequate funding, and just generally not trusting that our government will support teachers, schools, and school boards in ensuring adequate social distancing, or masks, and also questioning the purpose or efficacy of junior kindergarten under these circumstances.

Before he was born, we had talked about homeschooling, so it seems the pandemic has forced our hand towards that direction this year and I’m glad we already considered it. It’s a much different set up than what I would have been inclined towards - I was more interested in small homeschooling groups or outdoor activity groups, but I suppose we’ll figure it all out at some point. We will have to.

06 Mar 2020, 08:37

Yoga Confessions

Sometimes when I can’t take a photo of my asana practice, I question whether I should do it. Realizing this, it seems to me that that would indicate how much I needed to do a practice without sharing it. There is also such a tangible pressure to start building a “brand” as a yoga teacher. But am I a teacher? Do I want to be? I have done YTT, I have the first step certificate, but there is so much more to learn and do before I really feel ready to share - but at the same time, if not now, when?

The desire to show people who I am, and what kind of teacher I am, but represented in the physical asana practice and not any of the other philosophical underpinnings - it seems flawed, but also seems like the reality to build a following. But I have to ask myself how important building a following is - perhaps some questions to ask myself after some meditation and pranayam.

02 Mar 2020, 08:37

March 2020 - Reading

I’ve read a bit over 30 books so far this year, some books I have really liked, some I didn’t care for. I have been worrying that having a numerical goal will make reading less of an enjoyable experience - there are streaks of a competitive nature within me, that keep peeking out occasionally, and that’s not what I’m about. Or at least, that’s not what I want to be about.

But I set the goal at the beginning of the year for 202 books, and currently, I’m still on track for that. I haven’t been stressing out over books, but sometimes I notice myself thinking I just want to finish a book, and add it to my tally. Something I want to be mindful of, I don’t just want notches in my bookshelf, I just love reading and exploring different books.

In the past two months there have been a few books that have really stood out:

Two books by Becky Chambers. The Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet, and To be Taught if Fortunate. So far, Becky Chambers has written a couple of my favourite books - both of these. They’re all unique, but similar - the world building, and the storytelling, and the character development, and the subtlety of some of the choices are just so wonderful I have a couple of her other books hanging around the house just waiting to be read, and I’m eager for more, but also hesitant to read them all too soon.

Literally, I have had both of her other books in my house, and I haven’t been able to open them - I want to wait. It’s a weird delayed gratification thing, but oh well.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. This was the second young adult book I have read by Elizabeth Acevedo, and it was just marvelous. She brings a story I’ve never heard before - a teenage parent navigating high school, love, and following her dreams (while still being largely rooted in reality.) I feel like the story is told with such love for each character, I always leave her books feeling connected to them somehow.

I also have read her work in a combination of audiobook/paperbook/e-book format. Elizabeth Acevedo narrates her own work, and I think that definitely makes the whole thing even more wonderful. Her speaking voice is beautiful and full of the depth of feeling for each character.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller Where do I begin with this book, it is a memoir of Chanel Miller, formerly known as Emily Doe, after being sexually assaulted on the Stanford Campus by Brock Turner. I remember reading the Victim Impact statement thinking how fierce and powerful Emily Doe’s words were - and that definitely continued in Know My Name. It offers insight into what it looks like to navigate the justice system as a survivor and what it looks like to be at the center of such a media firestorm.

Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me by Anna Mehler Paperny An up close and personal look at depression and suicidality from a reporter who lives with it. The authour wove her experiences with the Canadian (and specifically the Ontario) mental health system, with the system as a whole - looking at different treatments, hospital stays, interviewing doctors and researchers around North America about depression and neuroscience. As someone who has had experiences with the mental health system, albeit not in this province, I found her insight and honesty so important to understanding others going through the system, or understanding why people would choose not to.

31 Jan 2020, 08:37

January 2020 - Books I've Gone And Read

It’s been a great month for books, and I wanted to talk about a few of the ones I’ve been able to read this month.

  1. The Deep by Rivers Solomon. I don’t always love flowery language, but it fit this book beautifully. Really unique, glad I read half of it in book form and half via audiobook. Narration excellent!

  2. The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking. It feels like a softball of a book, but I definitely find myself thinking about coziness or setting up some cozy spaces in the house. Maybe inviting friends & family over for cozy dinners.

  3. Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang There is so much story in this otherwise small book. I really loved it. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, other than I knew it won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction, and it was lovely.

  4. My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich - Ibi Zoboi. It took a bit to get into this book, but once I got into it, I wanted to see how it ended. I found myself frustrated by parts of the book, but not enough to put it down. I cared about what happened to the protagonist.

  5. Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home. This graphic novel is beautiful - it reflect on the present German experience of Holocaust and war, and an individual looking deeply at their own family history and who was involved in what. Emotionally difficult

  6. Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom. I’ve read a few essays by this authour before, but all were updated and elaborated on for this book. It’s brilliant, heartbreaking, and so hard to read at times (“Dying to be Competent” specifically)

  7. Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses: A Practical Workbook for Integrating Themes, Ideas, and Inspiration into Your Class. It’s a great collection of ideas and themes to expand on in classes. Good summary of philosophical elements that can be shared while teaching.

  8. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers. I loved this book so much. SciFi, a non-human-centric universe, it’s queer, it’s engaging, the world building is wonderful and it was a pleasure to read. Looking forward to reading more from this authour.

  9. Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline - heck it was good, moody and mysterious, an exploration of loup garou. Loved the strong but honest protagonist, loved the central love story.

  10. The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis - dystopia gets me every time. Took a bit to get into it, but once I was, I was burning through it hoping they make it to Lady Ghost. It feels hot and dusty reading the book, the mood is set perfectly.

  11. The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones - This book reminded me a bit of Station Eleven (which I loved) I liked the alternating perspectives, and meeting each character with more depth, another dystopia about disease and environment which I can’t get enough of.

  12. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. Heck what was this book. I read it and I think I kind of love it, but also - what did I just read? super-hard-SF spy vs spy romance? Phew. I think I recommend it. It’s really quite beautiful.

  13. Invisible Women - Caroline Criado-Pérez. It is a brilliantly frustrating & eye opening book. Definitely recommend reading it if you’re human. I have a hard copy and mixed that with listening to the audiobook which is narrated by the authour!

  14. Palestine by Joe Sacco. A graphic novel memoir of his time in the Occupied Territories. Fits under the BookRiot #readharder2020 challenge for memoir.

    1. Drive your Plough over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Should I be so sympathetic to Janina? Perhaps not, alas here we are. My intention is to eventually read it in the original Polish & see the film.

    2. Know My Name a memoir by Chanel Miller. Phew this is powerful. It is hard and heartbreaking and amazing and awful and I am just awestruck by the writing and the honesty and analysis and self reflection of it all.

    3. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa. This felt like something special - dystopian society where The Memory Police control thoughts through the eradication of memory, in increasingly intense ways.

    4. Love her Or Lose Her by Mallory

    5. Fumbled by Alexa Martin

13 Jan 2020, 11:14

Reading Women 2020 list

I am grateful to last years Reading Women challenge for introducing me to some great women writers and some fantastic series - like the Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry Thomas, reading about Appalachia, discovering how wonderful novellas can be, as well as a deep dive into the work of Jesmyn Ward, and one from Jhumpa Lahiri.

** Reading Women 2020 **

  1. Book by an Author from the Caribbean or India
    • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
  2. A Book Translated from an Asian Language
    • The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith (written and translated by women
  3. A Book about the Environment
    • The Migration by Helen Marshall
  4. A Picture Book Written/Illustrated by a BIPOC Author
    • ✔ Sulwe: Lupita Nyong’o, Vashti Harrison
  5. A Winner of the Stella Prize or the Women’s Prize for Fiction
    • Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • The Erratics - Vicki Laveau-Harvie
  6. A Nonfiction Title by a Woman Historian
    • This Is a Woman: Inside Ravensbrück, Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm
  7. A Book Featuring Afrofuturism or Africanfuturism
    • Seed to harvest series by Octavia Butler
    • The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
  8. An Anthology by Multiple Authors
    • ✔ Maiden, Mother, and Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes Edited by Gwen Bentway - an anthology anthology by trans femme authors exploring the realms of magic, supernatural beings, and alternate universes.
    • ✔ New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nisi Shawl
  9. A Book Inspired by Folklore
    • Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
    • Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories
    • ✔ Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc
  10. A Book about a Woman Artist
    • Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists - Donna Seaman
  11. Read and Watch a Book-to-Movie Adaptation
    • Divergent by Roth
    • ✔ Drive Your Plough over The Bones by Olga Tokarczuk
  12. A Book about a Woman Who Inspires You
    • ✔ Know my Name - Chantal Miller
  13. A Book by an Arab Woman
    • Laughing all the way to the mosque by Zarqa Nawaz
    • I am Malala - Malala Yousafzai
    • ✔ We have Always Been Here - Samra Habib
  14. A Book Set in Japan or by a Japanese Author
    • ✔ The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
  15. A Biography
    • Sontag - Benjamin Moser
    • Sophie Scholl and the White Rose - Annette Dumbach and Jud Newborn
  16. A Book Featuring a Woman with a Disability
    • ✔ Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me by Anna Mehler Paperny
    • ✔ Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc
  17. A Book Over 500 Pages
    • ✔ Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez (it’s a sizable book, that I now realize is not 500 pages long, but I’m going to go with it, and maybe find something else that also fits.)
  18. A Book Under 100 Pages

  19. A Book That’s Frequently Recommended to You

  20. A Feel-Good or Happy Book

  21. A Book about Food

    • Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating - Christy Harrison
  22. A Book by Either a Favorite or a New-to-You Publisher

  23. A Book by an LGBTQ+ Author

    • ✔ Small Beauty - jia qing wilson-yang
    • ✔ We have Always Been Here - Samra Habib
  24. A Book from the 2019 Reading Women Award Shortlists or Honorable Mentions

BONUS 25. A Book by Toni Morrison * I took a look at bookriot’s list of Toni Morrison’s books and a suggested order - The Bluest Eye 26. A Book by Isabel Allende