Last week, I entered into yet another Quarantine Phase. After months of treating quarantine like a temporary experience we just have to make it through, Jonah and I began to look at our habits—and what's really serving us—while we're here. The first thing we noticed is that we've been watching a lot of TV, like two hours per night. I was beginning to feel like I spent my entire day going from a laptop screen to my Peloton screen to the TV screen, and I didn't love that. Last week, we decided to keep the TV entirely off (with the exception of my strange addiction with Brie Larson's YouTube channel... more on that below) and the change felt dramatic. Each night after working out, we cooked together, ate at our table (instead of the couch), then did an activity a grade school teacher would probably refer to as "enrichment." We read, I got really into Ken Ken, worked on puzzles while listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and tried to focus our attention back to "in quarantine" instead of always thinking about "after quarantine." That being said: Please keep wearing masks and practicing social distancing, because I do wanna go outside some day... Here's what I loved this week:
I've had the New York Times review for Sarah M. Broom's memoir The Yellow House tacked to the cork board next to my desk since last August. Besides serving as living proof that I am my mother's daughter (she is the ultimate newspaper clipper), it also reminded me that I had a book to look forward to. This weekend, I finally sat down with it on Saturday morning and finished it by Sunday. Broom's memoir is about a large, unfinished house in New Orleans, the family that lived there, and the disastrous storm that destroyed it (Katrina)—as well as the politics of the city, particularly around race. It was big, beautiful, and a not-at-all "easy" break from the 800-page tome I paused from to read it (but that turned out to be a good thing). Note: Broom's memoir begins as less of a "traditional" memoir, and more of a family and city history, which is fascinating, but worth noting since it's a pretty dense (but rewarding!) start.
I've adored Brie Larson from the days of "She Said" (which remains among my favorite songs to scream-sing, apologies to Jonah). As no surprise, the news of her new YouTube channel made some waves in our apartment—especially when she partnered with my Ultimate Favorite Hero, Jimmy Chin (mentioned in a casual eight Lists at this point) to climb the Grand Tetons! The mini-documentary, directed by Jimmy, is great—but I've also enjoyed the feel-good vibe of her videos from this workout to this interview with Justina Omokhua and her audition fail stories. I just really enjoy her, and I hope you do too! Also, putting it out there: I think I would make an excellent addition to her and Jimmy's friend group. Obviously.
We could all use a little mental health help these days, which is why I was so excited to come across this article on five-minute stress resets. You may find a different tip speaks to you, but because I've had such a difficult time being present (see intro!), I've printed the tip below as a reminder:
Start by physically centering yourself by digging your heels into the floor — this evokes a feeling of being grounded in reality. Then take a moment to observe: What am I thinking? Feeling in my body? Doing? Then ask yourself: Is my response: A) Helpful? B) Aligned with my values now? Or C) Related to future worries or a past problem? While we can get stuck in specific thoughts, stepping back to more generally decide if those thoughts are helpful can get us out of rumination mode. It may also help to tape a list of these prompts on your computer to remember to take a step back and refocus when your thoughts are only making things worse.
I try to do this about once a day, and it's made me feel better—I hope it does the same for you!
2. The article that first brought my attention to Brie's YouTube channel!
3. The women the 19th Amendment left out ("I can't look at Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Susan B. Anthony as heroes; they were white supremacists.")
4. How to shop for well-made clothes online.