Ciao!

Happy National Tortellini Day! Do you celebrate many holidays? I’m trying to celebrate more, so today I made cheese tortellini in broth for dinner. Yum! If you’re looking for ways to brighten your day, take a look at this calendar. The 17th is “Random Act of Kindness Day,” while the 31st of March is “Eiffel Tower Day,” y’all! I love it.

What I’m reading: Srikumar Rao’s Happiness At Work. He’s given a really nice TED talk on reshaping your attitude here.

 

 

Here’s my latest Daily Muse column on funny, odd, and strange true-life stories.

A fun discovery

Have you read anything from UC-Berkeley’s “Greater Good” center? Among their “core themes” of research and writing is happiness, as well as mindfulness and altruism. Explore here. Want something else fun to do this weekend? Take Keri Smith’s advice in the amazing How to Be An Explorer of the World  and uncover a mystery:

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Dr. Martin Luther King & David Foster Wallace on love and life

In the United States, today is the national holiday in honor of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., so my “What to Read on the Subway” column is all about the history of the movement. Read all about it here.

  The website Where Is My Guru also posted this beautiful meme on their FB account:
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I also happened across a speech by the late author David Foster Wallace on values. You can find the full-text on brainpickings.com:

“If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on…..The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”–David Foster Wallace

 I imagine that MLK and DFW would have much to say to each other, had they lived to adulthood at the same time, right? As MLK said: “We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives, and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Body image & “The Triple Bind”

I have a new essay about going braless up at the body image website Adios Barbie. I confess: it is  slightly anxiety-inducing to talk about your body on the Internet. I’m taking deep breaths right now. Still, I wrote the essay because I think Susan Bordo’s work in Unbearable Weight is important and deserves to be grounded in lived experience and shared with others.

Also on my radar this week is psychologist Stephen Hinshaw’s The Triple Bind: Saving Our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures. Hinshaw argues that young women today are trapped in a set of competing pressures that are impossible to negotiate. Compellingly, he describes those binds: “Today’s girl know she’s supposed to fulfill all the ‘traditional’ girl expectations–look pretty, be nice, get a boyfriend–while excelling at the “girl skills” of empathy, cooperation, and relationship building” but  a “successful girl must also master [traditional] boy skills of assertion”  by getting straight-As, excelling in sports, and aiming for a top-flight career, all the while being “effortlessly” sexy and thin. Here’s a FORA talk he gave surrounding the book’s publication.

For anyone interested in these issues, I highly recommend The Triple Bind. I have to give more thought to Hinshaw’s work and what potential strategies young women can use to escape all these pressures. I suspect yoga may offer some alternatives ways of thinking about womanhood, body image, and competition, but I’m still thinking.

Namaste,
Hope

My “5 Underrated/Popular Books You Should Read” is Up at Treehouse

Read these books, says my inner librarian. She might be a little bossy, y’all.

5 Underrated/Popular Things You Should Read (Bordeaux)

  1. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers was a religious scholar and academic who translated Dante and a popular mystery novelist in interwar Britain, best known for her detective Lord Peter Wimsey. Gaudy Night features Harriet Vane, Sayers’ stand-in, a prickly novelist and early graduate of a women’s college at Oxford. Some people find Sayers too dense, but I love that she is not afraid to burden her characters with opinions, flaws, and most of all, a love of education. One part whodunit, one part meditation on feminism, spliced with a 1930s English setting to please any Downton Abbey 
  2. Perfumes: The Guide by Tania Sanchez and Luca Turin. Turin, a European scientist known for his work on scent, was prominently featured in Chandler Burr’s (equally great) non-fiction book about the mysteries of smell, The Emperor of Scent. The Guide is a collection of perfume reviews co-authored by Turin and Sanchez, a fellow perfume enthusiast and writer; the couple’s assessments of individual perfumes are alternatingly humorous and poetic: “smells exactly like the synthetic flavor used in codeine syrup, but induces a hacking cough instead of relieving it.”
  3. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being A Woman by Nora Ephron. If you’ve ever wondered why late ‘90s Meg Ryan was America’s Sweetheart, look to Ephron, also the writer of You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, and When Harry Met Sally. In this essay collection, Ephron writes about food, books, and Bill Clinton. See also: her follow-up collection on aging, I Remember Nothing. 
  4. My Man Jeeves by PG Wodehouse. Understated hilarity and ridiculousness at its best.
  5. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. Fielding’s use of an epistolary format and the distinctive voice of her famously dysfunctional character is really funny–and difficult to pull off.

Cheers,
Hope