I'm going to put on my Oprah hat for this post and tell you about some things I've recently discovered that I think are great. 2010 has definitely been all about learning. Learning how to eat, learning how to read again, learning how to practice putting myself first, learning how to love unconditionally, learning how to enjoy my time - with and without Ben, learning how to survive as a single parent, learning how to live and to love without conditions and expectations. Here's what's helping me on my year-long journey:
1.) 150 of the Healthiest Foods on Earth by Johnny Bowden
I love this book! I love this eating philosophy and I love how I feel when I'm using the foods in the book for my meals and snacks. I can't say enough good things about how the information is presented, how easy it is to follow and how great I feel with all the changes I've made as a result of the book.
2.) The Mood Cure by Julia Ross
A friend of mine who is a therapist recommended this book and it's taken me weeks to order it. I'm kicking myself for taking so long to pick up this amazing resource. Julia Ross is a ground-breaking therapist who has discovered the importance of amino acids in all areas of wellness: mental, physical and emotional. The Mood Cure plays perfectly into The 150 Healthiest Foods and goes a step further to address issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, lack of productivity and a host of other emotional conditions. I'm learning so much about the essential amino acids - and what happens when they aren't integrated into our diets. There's a more extensive blog post in the works on this incredible information.
3.) Plan B, Further Thoughts On Faith by Anne Lamott
I've read all of Anne Lamott's books. I can't say that Plan B is my favorite but it was sitting on a counter in a thrift store in New York and for fifty cents, I thought it would be a good re-read. After finishing it for a second time, I'm thinking of taking a third crack at it; this time with my highlighter. Anne Lamott has this amazing gift of taking spirituality and making it ever so real. I love her for her funny style of writing and also for her humble approach to life. Oh, and did I mention that she's a single mom? She tells wild stories of her son and of single parenting, some of which I find hysterical; others I find terrifying. Anne Lamott has been a family favorite for years; both my sister and my mom delight in her books, as do I. She rocks.
4.) Rue La La - http://www.ruelala.com/
This month's been kinda heavy with big decisions, sleepless nights, and too many migraines (along with a cold!). So I've found a guilty pleasure that has a dynamic feed of super current fashion trends. Rue La La features a designer each day and items are listed at deep discounts. Of course, paying over $50 for anything is not really my thing but it's fun to see what's coming up each day on the site and dream that I could actually pull off over-the-knee boots and super skinny Rock and Republic jeans. In Sacramento.
5.) The Fairest - http://www.thefairest.com
Similar to Rue La La, The Fairest features day-long "sales" on high-end cosmetics and skin care. I haven't seen anything yet that's caught my eye but with my obsession over affordable lip stick and eye shadow, it's going to be hard to resist the temptation to add to make-up collection!
6.) Online radio that's WAY better than Pandora - http://www.last.fm/home
Pandora was seriously ticking me off at the end of the year. Do they ever change their selections of artists? Why do they play Christmas music in October? And why are there so many commercials? I use online radio for all my home client sessions and was thrilled to find Last. fm. This new station features so many artists - many of whom I've never even heard! When I don't have a client, I'm constantly plugged into James Blunt radio and it might be the greatest thing since sliced bread. My clients like Enya radio, Il Divo radio, and Counting Crows radio. I like that I don't have to charge up my MP3 and attempt to play DJ all day. I also like that I can listen as much as I want without paying anything (unlike Pandora).
I went back to church this month after a 2 month sabbatical and after a phase of being totally "faithless." I'll save you the details of my ugly anger toward God and jump right into my "re-entry." It happened last Saturday night and it was pretty fantastic. I always ask myself why I go away from church when it makes me feel so good. I know that organized religion isn't for everyone, but it IS for me. On Saturday night, the Dean of our church asked me why I come. Waving my hand through the empty cathedral (we were talking after the service), I said, "I don't get this anywhere else. Not from yoga, from shopping, from friends, from family. THIS is my place to feel good." It's true. My spiritual tank was on serious fumes; it was that empty. Part of my own learning is not letting it get that low again. I feel so much better, I really do.
I am turning into such a cable junkie with late night marathons of "Weeds," "United States of Tara," "Mad Men," "Big Love," and "Californication." Each of these shows is brilliant in its own rite and I am forever grateful for Netflix and the ability to watch countless episodes in one sitting on my own computer. I am particularly captivated with "Mad Men," laughing out loud at "Californication" and wanting "Weeds" to go on forever and ever.
9.) Acer Internet Computer
A friend gave me his barely used Acer Internet laptop and I love it! The portability is great; I carry the little computer around from room to room, playing my James Blunt radio and I have great visions of sitting at Old Soul Coffee for hours on end, writing a novel or memoir or maybe just a couple of blog posts. I will say that the keyboard has taken some getting used to. Because the computer is so small, the keyboard is the perfect size for say, a 6-year-old. But fortunately for me, the 6-year-old is so engrossed in his new Nintendo that he has no interest in playing on my laptop anymore.
10.) Raw honey
Ending on a sweet note. We are on a raw honey kick. I read that raw honey is much better than any other sweetener and it even makes the "150 Approved Foods" list. I bought a small jar at Whole Foods and explained the difference between the "squeeze bear" and solid honey to Ben. Surprisingly, Ben loved the raw honey. Not surprisingly, so did I. I put it in my coffee, in my tea, in plain yogurt, on toast and give spoon fulls to Ben when he wants something sweet. My next challenge is to bake with it.
In the short span of just four weeks, I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about the business of short sales, loan modifications, and gently parting ways with your live-in mother. I've learned that mourning a lost client - or three - only makes me feel worse and that a new client is always right around the corner. Two friendships have really crystallized recently, showing me that true friends can help you get through anything.
And of course, having all the above little "extras" in my life is just the icing on an already pretty darn good cake!