for the information age
in my quest to live well and be well in the information age,
here are things I do, read, eat, enjoy.
some of these things sustain me. others are extra.
keep reading stories
I am a slow reader and can only finish so many books in a year. So they'd better be good. They better be beauty on the effing page.
Devotions by Mary Oliver
I can pretty much open this collection of poetry to any page and be moved. Mary Oliver is the boss when it comes to reminding us that we can return to nature again and again for sustenance, for beauty. RIP.
Crudo by Olivia Laing
Something made me pick this slim book up in the bookstore. Well, thank you, something. This work of fiction is working - Laing weaves modern angst, love, and the female journey into a sharp-toothed commentary on the State of the Earth. At first we do not like our protagonist. She is selfish and nasty. Then we start to kind of love her. She is us.
The Gift by Hafiz
When you turn 50, people give you the coolest gifts - one of which for me, this year, was Hafiz's The Gift. Hafiz was a Persian mystic-poet and this collection seems to hold the keys to life. In one poem, he says, "This sky, where we live, is no place to lose your wings." Enough said.
the pocket Pema Chödrön by Pema Chödrön
Need fast relief from suffering and despair? Chödrön, a Buddhist nun, shares practical, no-nonsense, guidance. Now, especially, read passages When Things Fall Apart, The Path Is Uncharted, Now Is The Time. They wake you up out of this stupor. This book is so tiny it will actually fit in your pocket (in case you get to go somewhere).
dust the day with delights
I am of the opinion that we can and should sprinkle our days with small delights. Kind of like that meditation where you close your eyes and imagine you leave a trail of rose petals behind you, everywhere you go. Actually, very much like that.
If you live in a place where it is possible, go outside and gather something green - anything - and put it in a jar on your desk. Any weed will do. I like to scavenge sidewalks whilst shrub pruning is underway. Or even better, a small potted plant that you tend. Something verdant in your midst can change your outlook.
For Rose Dream by @aroma
It's a good idea to put kids' drawings in your space. My son drew monsters nonstop for one whole year. He made hundreds of monsters, each with its own personality, super-powers, physicality. His drawings remind me of my own dark and light sides and that they can coexist. Kid art is hope, honesty, fun, imagination, creativity encapsulated.
have a few good habits
My stories highlight some of my unhealthy habits. I wrestle with them daily.
But I also have a few good habits. To balance it all out a bit. You copy?
the 16 second meditation
I don't know about you, but if I don't "stay after it", I begin to sink. And by "stay after it," I mean that I must continue to chase away the tendency to worry, wish, wallow. Worrying, wishing and wallowing are my escapes from the work at hand, from what is happening right now. Pema Chodron says, "you are the sky, everything else . . . it's just the weather." This quick and ridiculously easy meditation really is just 16 seconds long - and a great return to that sky business. Taught to me by Davidji at the incomparable Unplug Meditation in Santa Monica, CA.
This is the breakfast mainstay. Even if all hell is breaking loose, this delicious meal-in-a-jar starts the day right. It is chock full of healthy protein and nutrients. I make it with a vanilla-flavored bone broth protein powder (sounds gross but it's yummy and very good for joint, gut and hair health) and lots of frozen veggies and berries. It's what gets me out of bed in the morning. Recipe HERE.
the last straw
Now we are getting technical - but The Smoothie is best enjoyed via these wide-mouthed glass straws. Somehow, these do not break or crack and can be used day after day. Naturally, they come with their own teeny tiny straw scrubber. Now you can eco-suck.
Many sleep-deprived people say they need their phones in the bedroom because they rely on the alarm clock function. It's what I used to say. But the phone on the nightstand is a distraction, a sleep interrupter and sleep delayer. Here is a $10 old school sleep solution - a Timex digital clock. Night night.
can't you seed?
My friend B says I have to include raw hemp seeds on this list . . . I sprinkle them on salads, eggs, veggies. They add a yummy subtle nutty crunch to anything and are a wonderful source of healthy fats, plant-based protein, amino acids.
baby knows best
I have never washed my hands so much in my life. I have begun to use bleach products again (blech!). Alas, my skin has begun to crack and sting and feel reptilian. This Baby Oil by the clean machine, Beauty Counter, is offering great relief. Super simple: coconut, jojoba oil, and sunflower seed oil. Over-and-out.
5 minutes of poetry
This Poetry Foundation podcast's sole purpose is to bring you "five minutes of poetry a day". Slowdown host, the poet Tracy K. Smith's voice is hypnotic - her poetry curation ranges the gamut from nature to parenthood, to belonging in this ever-changing world. The brief context she provides leaves us feeling embraced, moved, alive. Induces a sense of unity, compassion. We are all in Slowdown mode now, so this is just working.
the oral tradition
I do both high-tech and low-tech book reading. On walks, I love listening to stories. Being read aloud to harkens back to childhood, to caveman times. I don't know the science behind it, but stories seem to enter the brain differently though the ears. I still mostly read "actual" books because I like to dog-ear and underline; listening is 100% pleasure.
music for mind expansion
Kip Mazuy's musical creations, for at-home meditation, are less songs and more experiences - they soothe, inspire, open. If talk meditation is not for you, try 10 minutes of Kip. You don't have to do anything but sit back and listen. Find him on Spotify.
use tech that helps
Some tech is addictive, anxiety-provoking and a waste of time. Other tech is moving, helpful, wise.
see what you see
We all suffer from image overload. Art and curated art experiences, which you can self-create, can offer mind opening, healing, compassion.
Take a moment, if you are able, to look at works that help you understand and process what we are experiencing.
kysa johnson - diseases and cures
Kysa Johnson's paintings, drawings and installations explore how microscopic organic forms shape our universe. In this body of work, she employs the shapes of both disease molecules and the vaccines molecules that defeat them. These shapes, which are invisible to the naked eye, take on profound meaning as the building blocks of gorgeous landscapes. The disease and the cure are omnipresent, helping shape our moment.
luchita hurtado - time as healing agent
When I saw this show at LACMA, the 99 year-old Venezuelan artist was in the house. Her art spans decades she painted her way through it all - the Depression, the Sexual Revolution, to the present where she has taken up environmentalism. The sweeping nature of the show, the lucidity of Hurtado's eye seemed to say, this too shall pass - but not without some pain, some change, some courage, some hope. To craft the 1966 piece pictured here, Hurtado "traced outlines of herself and her youngest son." Exactly.
leonardo drew - elevating the ordinary
Leonardo Drew is a sculptor and an installation artist with a mind into which I'd like to climb. This piece entitled Number 19S, is a thing of delicacy contrived of toilet paper and thread. Here, a thing of intoxicating loveliness crafted from a thing of necessity, something we took, until recently, quite for granted.
julie mehretu - what it means to be human
Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and lives in New York. Her jaw-dropping paintings employ intense and seemingly mathematical layering of geometric shapes to question capitalism, colonialism, globalization. Enter a piece stage left and you will be violently swept into the human saga. Pictured here from her recent LACMA retrospective, Being Higher II, eludes to the human form, to explosive change, to a new perspective of what it means to be human.