This Year in Reality 2015

When Beth and I decided we were really going to get on this thing and use this space and do some writing, we decided that we both needed a recurring series. Beth has been doing the Series You Should Check Out. These have been enjoyable to read (and have definitely put books into my TBR pile) and they’ve even gotten us a couple of author retweets. (Which, I have to say, was super exciting for both of us!) I decided to go in a different direction and review at least one non-fiction book a month. I flippantly titled this recurring series This Month in Reality. And, while not getting us any retweets, it has at least gotten me the personal satisfaction of engaging in some topics that I’ve had an interest in but have maybe not have made time for. The books that I read this year can probably be divided into three categories: Self help (dating advice,exercise, etc, New Years resolutions and Mesoamerican History! *only self-help for me because I study Mesoamerica*. ) Pop Culture Interest (the life and times of Kim Gordon, Piper Kerman and Orange is the New Black,Pop Physics,Travel as a metaphor for personal growth, Oscar winners ) meditation (Meditation and Science, meditation and practice, meditation AND pop culture). I’m so proud of my accidental consistency. I plan to continue this column in the coming year and I will also endeavor to be consistent, although more intentionally so. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year considering who holds space and who is asking for it in our society, so expect to see books that help me meditate on and answer that question in 2016. But, before we get to 2016, I’d like to say goodbye to 2015 to revisiting my favorite reads/listens in reality this year! So, in no particular order:

 

 

<a href=https://stacksexceedlifeexpectancy.com/2015/07/31/this-month-in-reality-love-and-revolution/> Revolution by Russell Brand</a>.

 

This book hit me right in the feels. In a moment of synchronicity, I listened to this book at the exact right time for me because the messages of his book, that love is important and should be cherished and cultivated and that if something isn’t working we have to try something new and endeavor to make it better, were both things I needed to hear. It feels a little trite to say that a celebrity known for being a dirty hippie who once did a lot of drugs said the things that I needed to hear (especially when those things are stuff like, “your reality is the result of your attention and intention” and “sometimes you have to realize that the only power you have in a situation is the power to make it worse”) but it’s true so I might as well own it. I think Brand is a funny dude and I think the ideas he discusses are worthy ideas. So, if you’re feeling despairing and fed up with what the world looks like, take a break and hang out with this squirrelly English dude. Maybe he’ll say what you need to hear, too. (Or, maybe you’ll hate it and it’ll be one of those hate reads which is also cathartic. I don’t know.  You do you.)

 

<a href=https://stacksexceedlifeexpectancy.com/2015/04/02/this-month-in-reality-travel-as-a-metaphor-for-personal-growth/>Eat, Pray, Love</a>

 

I wanted so badly to hate this book. No, really. I wanted to hate this book because knowing barely anything about Elizabeth Gilbert (except the general plot of this story) I had decided that Gilbert was a selfish person who does what she likes and (mis)uses foreign cultures to justify her self-serving decisions. Now, maybe my original judgments about her are true and maybe they aren’t. But, try as I might to hate this book, I just couldn’t.  I found this book to be tremendously enjoyable. In the book someone suggests to her that every person and every city has a word that sums them up. When you find the city that you match, you’ve found your home. This is a clue to her that it is time to move on. I really liked this idea and I spent a long time considering what my word is. I just went back through a bunch of text messages with a friend who loved the book to see if I had come to a decision about my word. I think it might be “chameleon”. But, I’m still not sure. This book was a beautiful, painful, wonderful read. I’m so happy I picked it up!

 

<a href=https://stacksexceedlifeexpectancy.com/2015/10/31/this-month-in-reality-mesoamerican-history/>Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed by Professor  Edwin Barnhart</a>

I picked up this lecture series from audible because I thought, “What the hell? You know practically nothing about the historical context that gave birth to this language context you study, what could it hurt?” Nothing, I decided. And, I’m so glad that I picked it up. It covers the Toltecs, Olmecs, Zapotecs, Mixtecs, Tarascans, Aztecs, and Mayans: all of whom had empires in Mesoamerica prior to the arrival of Columbus. Did you know that? Prior to reading this audio book, these were names I knew, but I didn’t realize the the history that these names conveyed. These were huge empires that had sweeping impact on the culture, the people, and the land. How cool is that? Audible has an entire series of lectures, so if you’re interested in learning a little about anything, you might find something that will capture your interest! I, of course, recommend starting in Mesoamerica.

 

 

I hope that you have enjoyed learning a little this year along with me and that 2016 will bring us more knowledge about this cool and exciting world we live in!

 

This Month in Reality…..Travel as a metaphor for personal growth!

Let us rejoice in today, March 32nd! 

I am indeed back after a lovely vacation hanging out with my sister and our parents! And, let me tell you: not only do I love traveling, but I also love travel memoirs! Since I discovered the genre of travel memoir in college it has been a genre I’ve always been happy to come back to. So, it might surprise you to know that until this month I hadn’t read Eat, Pray, Love. Yes, I saw all the hype when the book came out and then when the book was optioned and made into a movie. I avoided it because it seemed like a travel memoir that was going to make me angry. I thought it was going to make me angry because here’s this woman who is making a good living and has a good job and a husband who loves her and she just throws it away and travels the world. I thought she’d make me angry or worse, that she wouldn’t be sympathetic at all and I’d be reading an entire memoir where I don’t care about the person at the center of the story. (Yes, that’s right, not being relatable is a bigger problem than making me angry.) On top of that, traveling and exploring other cultures while either talking about how cheap everything is or glossing over the problems and idealizing the not-problems really bothers me. I was concerned that Elizabeth Gilbert was going to go to an ashram in India and talk about how deep and spiritual all Indians are and not put this ashram in the context of a country with large populations of people who have different religions which are antagonistic to each other. Or, worse, I was worried her biggest concern would be about the dogs. (Note: I’m happy when people are worried about animal welfare. I’m not happy when they’re so worried about animal welfare that it affects how they feel about seeing poverty-stricken people. This is especially troubling when you also think those poverty-stricken people have the most beautiful culture. Anyway, that’s probably a hypocritical rant for another day.) So, I didn’t read the book when it came out. Or, when it was made into a movie. Plus, I didn’t see the movie. I picked it up hoping that I would hate it and that would make me feel vindicated for avoiding it up until now.

No such luck. (Spoilers behind the cut).
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