Weekend Reads #120

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Amy Sherald Bronna Taylor Portrait
Amy Sherald, best known for her portrait of Michelle Obama, with her recent portrait of Breonna Taylor. Click to read more about the author and the story behind this painting in Vanity Fair.

I was flipping channels the other week and came across Doris Kearns Goodwin, a presidential historian and award-winning bestelling author.  She was being interviewed about her book, Leadership: In Turbulent Times.  The book goes into how Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson handled tough times in America, making difficult decisions, and how they kept it together when things were so tough.  She was sharing how these four presidents let off steam, and how three of the four created ways to separate from their work so they could be better at their jobs.  Those who know history likely guessed that Johnson was the one who didn't find ways to decompress.  But it was a good reminder that no one can be “on” all the time or they will burn out.  And right now we are in a time where it's really hard to shut off.  We're so close to a presidential election that will truly affect all of our futures.  Mother Nature is wreaking havoc on our country.  Even with constant protesting, speaking up, spotlighting, fighting for change, and as seen above, dedicating entire magazines to Black lives, Jacob Blake was still shot seven times for no valid reason and is paralyzed from the bullets yet handcuffed to his hospital bed while a 17-year-old white murderer easily walked the streets of the same city the same week. 

When things get too much, don't opt out.  Don't give up.  Don't step away.  Take a cue from past presidents and find a way to decompress, let off steam, and temporarily distance yourself to be able to recharge.  We can't afford to give up, especially this close to such an important election.  But we also can't afford to burn out.

I feel that with a public platform, it is my duty to be a voice for change, for revolution, for education.  But I don't have to be a general, I can be a soldier.  I can share the voices of activists making change and work to strengthen my mind and body to fight for them.  This week was a week where I felt like everything was too much, and caught myself doomscrolling Twitter, falling deeper into a pit of despair and helplessness.  And that helps NO ONE.  In fact, that makes me a burden.  So each time I did, I stepped away from the device and did something to be a better soldier.  I took a shower.  I stuffed a handful of spinach in my mouth.  I rode the Peloton, or went for a walk, or did a stretching class, or just sat out in the yard looking at the sky or looking at nothing.  I looked for ways to decompress like Lincoln, who went to the theater hundreds of times during the Civil War, or FDR who hosted nightly cocktail parties in the White House where he banned all talk about war.  Because what we're dealing with is not a battle, but a war, and we need to keep ourselves in fighting shape, whether we are leading the cause or being a soldier for them. 

Weekend Reads

In a series of interviews, Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke to Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor's mother, to paint a picture of a full, loving life taken too soon. (Vanity Fair)

This is a must-read for everyone. Covid-19 isn't always a death sentence, and it's not just “the flu.”  (The Atlantic)

Tech oracle Jaron Lanier warned us all about the evils of social media. Too few of us listened. Now, in the most chaotic of moments, his fears—and his bighearted solutions—are more urgent than ever. (GQ)

Your ‘surge capacity’ is depleted — it’s why you feel awful. (Elemental by Medium)

If like me, sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on the floor for meditation is downright painful or like for some, impossible, you may want to consider a meditation bench.  After buying two meditation pillows and still having my knee hurt and my feet fall asleep, I was told about these things.  I got this one on Etsy, which is beautiful and well crafted with legs that fold down to make it easy to travel with or store in a small space.  It is a good height and width for 5'3″ me, my 6'4″ husband, and 5′ tall daughter. It is sturdy, but slightly angled with curved legs so it will rock to the proper placement for you to be in a kneeling position without your rear against your legs or feet. 

Remember the ‘NYC is dead' post I shared last Saturday? Jerry Seinfeld has a response. (New York Times)

How AA prepared me for the pandemic. (The Atlantic)

The Girl Scout uniform, updated for GenZ. (New York Times)

I know I am not the only one realizing the half-truths and omissions from the history I learned in school.  After reading Pachinko I realized how little I truly understood about WWII and the Japanese occupation of Korea.  Whether or not you read Pachinko and whether or not you know the history of this part of the world during this period in time, you may enjoy this article. (New York Times)


K and I checked out this documentary on Netflix about Jeremy Scott, watching a bit over three days.  I like watching fashion docs to better understand the mindset behind designers, and Jeremy Scott is not your ordinary designer.  This isn't the kind of doc that is going to make you want to be Scott's BFF, but he's not interested in winning any popularity contests.  However, it did make me respect him even more as an artist. 

My kid wanted to check out The Floor is Lava, a game show on Netflix.  We both agreed we didn't like it and won't be watching more. 

I know we're late to the game but we finally saw the movie Knives Out.  The house is amazing, the movie is 20 minutes too long, and it would have been better to have Jeff Bridges play the role of the private investigator, but it still was enjoyable. 

I finally finished reading Pachinko, and it was lovely.  I want it to be a movie or even a TV series so I can enjoy it again and see it through a director's eyes and see how we envision it differently in some ways and similar in another. 

For Your Entertainment

This song has been in my head all week.  At first, I was meh, not very unique and the video is cliche.  Then I saw the video again and liked it more.  And I kept hearing the song and by Friday I was singing it in the shower.  So enjoy my earworm from this week.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Hi! As always, stellar content, but I don’t think this font is very legible! it’s also rendering your copy to look like there are 2 spaces after periods. My 2 cents, love you forever! 🙂

  2. I feel you on “The Floor is Lava”. I think the issue is the contestants- it would be hilarious to watch a trio of neighborhood kids navigate the rooms! Anyway- our most recent family fave (my boys are Emerson’s age) is Dr. Ouch on Netflix. Twin ER docs in England dealing with all sorts of issues- mostly with kids. Great info and funny, too!

  3. I was taken aback at the outrage last week–I appreciate you insightfulness, Ali, your willingness to use what is your job, your income, the way you support your family as a public platform. Goodness knows people with much less to risk don’t share you sense of responsibility–thank you.

    On the topic of long-haul COVID survivors, we have a dear family friend who was healthy, a world-traveler, vibrant, and dedicated to a mentally intensive job in archaeology. She contracted COVID in March, and is still suffering the effects, so much so that her employer/insurance is putting her on 60% long-term disability. They anticipate she will never fully recover. She still suffers body tremors, memory fog, and exhaustion–this was someone who had never had more than a bad cold, skied and scuba-dived, and was the picture of health. Compounding her issues: she lives in Alaska where medical care is challenging to get at all. She’s been misdiagnosed, had her records deleted, had her doctors changed…it’s kind of insult to injury.

    I hit the surge wall last week–I’m grateful you post your workouts so I am reminded I can make it back.
    Oh, if you’re looking for more YA for Emerson, you both might enjoy the Belles (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23197837-the-belles)–a lot about how society’s expectations of beauty can warp your reality.

  4. Happy to hear you liked Pachinko. I thought it was terrific. Also loved Leadership In Turbulent Times. Anyone who is staying home a lot (and aren’t we all?) should read A Gentleman In Moscow. A fictional story about a Count who is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol Hotel. He spends decades there and manages to build a life despite his imprisonment. Reading Hamnet now… fictional account of the death of Shakespeare’s son. Gorgeous writing! Sorry….I could go on and on about books. I Enjoy your blog because it’s wholistic…not all fashion all the time.

  5. Thank you for todays inspiration. Perfect timing as i was feeling the same this week. Keep it up girl, we appreciate you.

  6. In the wake of the 2016 election, I took great comfort in listening to all three volumes of Blanche Wiesen Cook’s biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. It helped me see the historical, cyclical nature of the push and pull of US politics, and reminded me that a brave woman can live by her values.

  7. If you enjoyed reading about the Japanese occupation of Korea during WWII, then I highly recommend you check out Iris Chang’s “Rape of Nanking”. It is a fascinating look at the Japanese occupation of China during the same time period and is riveting to read.

  8. Thank you for your uplifting thoughts and ideas. You are an inspiration!! In these tough times we all have to step up!

  9. Thank you for increasing my knowledge and empathy levels…Pachinko recommendation , AA wisdom to deal with the pandemic one more day, long haulers’ consequences of Covid19, my surge protection decimation, Tamika Taylor and her daughter Breonna.

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