Here are some things that delighted, enriched, or enlightened me this past year, as well as some tips and tweaks and lifestyle things that I will keep taking forward with me, and do truly recommend.
The Lover by Marguerite Duras – one of my favorite books now. A quick read, the beautiful prose drops you into the story and the setting in the most languid and sultry way. The whole premise is kind of scandalous, in a Lolita-y way, but it’s written by a woman–yay.
Beloved by Toni Morrison – I can’t believe I waited this long to read it! The writing style is unique and enlightening once you step into rhythm with it. While parts of the story are brutal to read, it’s a necessary brutality–the brutality of words that make the reader remember, remember, all that people have had to live through. I’d say it warrants a must-read for Americans and non-Americans everywhere.
Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto – a collection of short stories, kind of the literature equivalent of the graphics that accompany an infinitely looping lo-fi hip hop playlist on Youtube. Like a mini-animation of a young woman drinking some tea with her cat, in a small-yet-cute apartment, Tokyo skyline lit up in the window? Do you know what I mean? Have you ever visited that micro-world of lo-fi hip hop on Youtube? Banana Yoshimoto’s writing kind of feels like that to me. But even better, and sometimes heart-shattering, too.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – reminds me a little bit of the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and One Hundred Years of Solitude–with the whole, intergenerational trauma, curse passed on through the family thing–but also has hints of Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead in the pre-Abolition America, plantation chapters. Then, a touch of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the end in the modern-day scenes. Overall, a very good book.
A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros – a nice collection of essays on home, on art, on writing, on being a woman, being an artist, and finding home. What else could I ask for?
** evidently still going strong on my 2018 commitment to only read books by people who identify as a ‘woman, person of color, mixed descent, immigrant, and/or some/all of the above’ after realizing I had read enough straight white men for a lifetime.
10,000 Steps, Baby – not sure who came up with this (potentially arbitrary) number, but I notice a positive change in both mood and quality of life when I walk around 10,000 steps a day. It’s great for your health, and provides precious alone time to process, to observe, to listen to music and podcasts, or just zone off and stare at the sky.
The GYM (yes, your eyes do not deceive you) & Rock Climbing – laughing at myself because I have never been much of a gym-goer. I have finally embraced it in my own way–just using the Stairmaster and the pull-up machine, then core work and sometimes squats. Although I still dislike the environment of most gyms, I embrace it as a balance to my yoga practice. Speaking of balance–rock climbing continues to be my favorite exercise. It’s great for the upper body, can be a social activity or solo sport, and best of all, it is SO FUN.
Getting Back into Running – I’ve always been an on-and-off runner. This year, I’ve gotten back into it–without getting injured. The trick, for me, is to stop counting the miles/kms (which used to lead to pushing too hard, and injuries) and just run at whatever speed I feel like, for as long as it feels good. And it feels goooood.
Lots of Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra – Of course! 2020 was all about the Yin for me. I don’t teach Yoga Nidra (yet), but one day would love to share it. It’s such a beautiful theta-state meditation–it translates to yogic sleep. More and more, these soft yoga practices are the ones I love practicing and teaching the most. Earlier this year, I read the wonderful Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers, and Yin Yoga: A Quiet Practice by Paul Grilley, to refresh as I started teaching regular yin classes in Taipei. In early 2021, I’ll be taking a 100hr Yin training here, in Chinese, with a significant portion on Chinese Medicine and meridian theory, too.
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Mushroom Coffee and Cacao – 2020 was a year of wondering: is coffee my friend, my enemy, or my best frenemy? I haven’t used the word frenemy in a long time, but I think that’s it. I love the taste, I love cafés, and I like a touch of caffeine in my life–but do not need jitters, caffeine addiction, or an unhappy tummy, ever. My happy medium has been to drink mainly pour-over coffee (less caffeine, less acidic than espresso) and mix it with an adaptogenic medicinal mushroom blend! Oat milk recommended, or it tastes a bit funky. The mushrooms seem to help even out the coffee for me. Another option is to drink cacao instead (which contains less caffeine than coffee), with the added benefits of heart opening.
Bye to Blue Light at Night– I don’t often wear the blue light blocking glasses that I ordered from BluBlox, because I hate the feeling of glasses on my face, but I LOVE and use every day this red lightbulb from them. It’s an entirely flicker and blue light free bulb for after the sun sets. I put it in one of my bedside lamps, and as the evening goes on, I’ll turn off my normal light and just use the red light, or light some candles before bed. It’s helped me adjust to sleeping earlier this year.
** this will make less difference to your health if you are still looking at your blue-ass phone screen before bed.
Cycle Syncing – this is due for a post of its own, but cycle syncing is the adjustment of one’s food intake, exercise, and lifestyle to ‘sync’ with their menstrual cycle. By listening to the infradian rhythm, rather than just the circadian rhythm, we (people who bleed) better support our hormones and every aspect of our health. For me, cycle syncing looks like sweating it out and getting shit done in Week 1, right after my period ends; going to the gym, running, and socializing more when I’m ovulating/around Week 2; focusing on yoga and building strength in Week 3 of my cycle; and taking it easy during my pre-menstrual period, before winding it down completely, into full nothing-ness intuitive rest and alone time when I’m bleeding. It rocks. You can read more about it here, on Alisa Vitti’s website, which has been a great source for me.
To Be Magnetic – whether you slowly follow along on social media or listen to their podcast, or dive headfirst into a workshop–there’s so much to learn from To Be Magnetic. The main idea is neural manifestation, and the work is all about self-worth–clearing what is stopping you from manifesting your dream life–rather than thinking ‘positively’, visualizing, and spiritual bypassing. Their intuitive, energetic, psyche-deep-diving, yet realistic, epigenetic, neuroplastic approach to unblocking and expanding just makes sense to me. It works, and their binaural beats-backlit meditations, called deep imaginings, make ‘doing the work’ feel like less icky work. It’s a yoga nidra, mental surgery, guided healing of the best sort.
I put this category last because, let’s be honest, we all have a lot of content going on already, but if you dooooo need more podcasts in your life, I’ve loved these all year.
Yoga Is Dead by Tejal Patel & Jesal Parkih – taking apart (and down) different aspects of ‘modern yoga’ that have, arguably, killed it. Listen here.
The Highest Self Podcast by Sahara Rose – uplifting and 5D-as-fuck spiritual convos. Listen here.
J. Brown Yoga Talks by J. Brow – interviews with yogis of all kinds, bonus points when he rambles at the beginning in a very endearing way. Listen here.
The Twelfth House by Michelle Pellizzon/Holisticism – fun spiritual convos with strong witches and equally-as-strong intuitive business tips. Listen here.