This month has been exciting, hasn’t it? Kanye running for president! Wayfair conspiracy theories! COVID cases spiking! I’m obviously kidding. July is only halfway done and already a sh*tstorm. Anel (I hope jokingly?) likes to say that aliens are coming next. I feel like nothing would surprise us at this point.
I’ve been trying to focus on the things I can control at home but it’s been really hard lately. Reading the news feels like a reality show… and not the good kind.
A friend sent me this satire by Dave Eggers in the Times about COVID that captures the current state of the country quite well if you want a laugh slash cry.
What I’m reading and watching
Books – White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin D’Angelo: When I first bought this book, it was number one on Amazon’s Bestseller list and was on backorder everywhere which is great because that meant that a lot of white people are doing the work to learn about, well, white fragility. While I was reading it, the book became quite controversial for good reason. It’s a book about racism. Written by a white woman. Watch this video from Louiza Doran (“Weeze”) where she breaks it down better than I ever could.
To be a true and better ally, I acknowledge the fact that my education needs to continue with anti-racism books by Black authors which is why my next anti-racist read is going to be I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown which was recommended by many of you.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett: Wow, this book. I couldn’t put it down! It is a story of twin sister in the 1960s who separated in their teens to live totally different lives. Although they were identical white-passing twins, one lived her life as a white woman and the other as mixed-race. The directions their lives take them couldn’t be more different. This was one of those novels that I would stay up way too late reading every night. It gets an A+ from me!
I liked it so much that I also bought another one of Bennett’s books, The Mothers, which I haven’t started yet.
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor: A reader recommended this non-fiction book to me and I’ve been going back to it every few days to learn more. The author’s argument is that no matter what you do for your health, it doesn’t really matter unless you’re breathing properly. It turns out there are people studying this all over the world and he travels around learning all about breath.
Modern research is showing us that making even slight adjustments to the way we inhale and exhale can jump-start athletic performance; rejuvenate internal organs; halt snoring, asthma, and autoimmune disease; and even straighten scoliotic spines. None of this should be possible, and yet it is.
Truly I will never breathe the same again after reading this book and haven’t stopped thinking about it. And I’m not even done yet! It’s so fascinating, especially as someone who has suffered from pretty severe sinus issues for my whole life including two sinus surgeries.
TV Shows – Last week I finished Season 2 of The Politician (Netflix) and loved it almost as much as season one. It gets mixed reviews but I think it’s just wonderful, funny, dark, and relevant. On a more serious note, I’m slowly getting through When They See Us (Netflix), a mini-series about the Central Park Five that is absolutely heart wrenching to watch.
Docuseries – Anel and I have been watching Padma Lakshi’s new docuseries, Taste the Nation (Hulu), where she travels across America to discover the incredible food culture of different immigrant groups. We quickly learned that it’s more than a show about food. While watching her eat her way across the country makes our mouths water, we’ve learned a lot about our country’s history and current events as she does it. I recommend it highly!
5 Things I’m Loving
1. Cloud Foot Massager: Bare with me on this one. I realize it sounds like the most grandma product of all time, and it is. But it is also a wonderful treat after a long day. My brother-in-law has one of these and when I tried his, I was immediately sold. Anel gave me one for my birthday and it is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
This thing massages your feet and ankles while you sit and relax or read a book or watch TV. You can also reposition it to massage your calves. It feels like a real massage and the compression piece of it is a game-changer. The sides squeeze your foot into the most amazing hug that a robot could ever give. Ugh, I love this thing so much. There are really no words to describe how wonderful it is.
Anel and I sit and chat after Amalia goes down, taking turns with it. Sometimes I put it on with a gravity blanket on my body and basically levitate right off my seat. In conclusion, we’re in a thruple with the foot massager. It’s fine.
2. Necessaire Body Lotion (Transparency note: We’re negotiating sponsored content for IG. They gave me a code to share with you here but I will make no affiliate income from it): I finally tried this cult favorite body lotion after seemingly every single blogger and Instagram influencer told me I should try. I almost wanted to not like it because so many people told me I should but quickly realized what the hype was all about. Here are my personal reasons for loving it:
1. It actually works: I’m always on the hunt for the perfect clean body lotion that absorbs quickly and hydrates thoroughly. This is it.
2. Clean ingredients: I love that they share their “yes list” and “no list” of ingredients on the website.
3. Scent-free: They have some scented products but the fact that it’s scent-free is a plus for me.
4. Sustainable packaging: They use 85% post-consumer waste boxes and 100% recyclable paper for boxes and shippers. They only work with FSC-certified vendors. No virgin forest materials are ever used.
Read more about the brand here. I’m trying the body wash next. Use code JULIA10 for 10% off.
3. The Egoscue Method: When I threw my back out a couple of months ago, an old coworker of mine reached out to tell me about how she’s an “alignment specialist” at The Egoscue Method. Honestly, it sounded like a hoax at first but I was willing to try anything so I agreed to her free consultation. Six weeks later and here I am, a true convert. I shared some before and after pictures on Instagram but my body is so much straighter after working with her for that amount of time. I have zero (ZERO!) back pain, and am not afraid to bend over or pick up my daughter for the first time ever.
So what is it? Basically, we get on a Zoom call for an hour each week (in non-COVID times, this would be in person) and she does an assessment of my alignment and balance. Based on that, she gives me a “menu” of exercises for the week that include things like cat-cows, body twists, and other stretches and body movements that don’t seem like they’d do as much as they do. I complete my menu each day and it takes about 10 minutes. Every single week I see an improvement in my posture and how I’m feeling. It feels like magic and too good to be true but I think it might just actually work and is the one thing I’ve needed this whole time
4. Dudley Stephens Fit Guide: My friends at DS launched an entire fit guide dedicated to explaining the fit of their famously cozy fleeces. I’m so honored that they asked me to be a part of it! In addition to their dedication to sustainability, they are size-inclusive. Their fit guide covers sizes XS-XXL (fits sizes 00-20).
If you’re new around here and don’t know about the brand, Dudley Stephens is a Connecticut-based lifestyle brand that makes most of its products from fleece recycled from plastic bottles. Two of my girlfriends launched it as a side hustle and it’s grown into a major player in women’s online retail.
A few years ago I collaborated with them to create a new color: ice blue. It did so well that they kept it on as a core colorway (ps it’s coming back in Park Slope and Cobble Hill again today at 10am)
5. My New Chappywrap (gifted): My sister’s best friend from high school runs this company with her mom and I just love their cozy and colorful blankets. They sent me their new coral reef blanket as a birthday gift (pictured above) and it fits in perfectly with our living room decor. My other pick from their new arrivals is a classic navy and white stripe blanket. And I’m definitely probably not supposed to be saying this but we’re talking about a potential Lemon Stripes collection for 2021 and I actually can’t hold that in anymore because it makes me so excited. Nothing is set in stone yet but how amazing would that be? Eee!
Artist- I have fallen in love with Diane Hill, a Black UK-based artist who makes stunning floral and bird prints. My mom bought me this and this as a set for my office as a birthday gift. Check out her work for some serious eye candy.
Bonus 1- Equilibria Daily Drops in Mint: (Transparency note: I’m in a long-term Instagram partnership with Equilibria. This is not a part of that partnership.) The daily CDB drops I take 2x/day now come in mint flavor which is great because the original flavor tastes like straight-up weed. Which I was willing to deal with because of the results. But the mint makes it much more enjoyable!
Bonus 2- Apparently I can’t stop with just 5 this month. I bought myself a little gold anklet off Etsy and I can’t tell if that makes me old or cool. I’ll go with “moms of tik tok” vibe. I think it’s so cute!
Now that I’ve finished my novel for the month, I’d love to hear about what you’re reading, watching, listening to, and loving this month.
Photo by Julia Dags.
Look forward to these posts every month! Looking forward to trying some of these.
This makes me so happy to hear! I love writing them too.
Ok, this post was so fun to read! Goofy stuff, important stuff, great recommendations and so funny! The drops taste like “straight up weed” lol.
And that’s what happens when I write at 10pm after a glass of wine 🙂
I love my Chappywrap which I got because of you but had to ship it to my in-laws when they were vacationing in the States because they don’t ship to Canada. I would buy more if they will ship to Canada!
I’ll pass this along to them and see if that’s an option in the future. Fingers crossed!
So far this month, I have also read White Fragility, So You Want to Talk About Race (my favorite so far, the author includes a LOT of personal anecdotal stories that really drive home some points and things to reconsider), How to Be an Antiracist (this read a little too didactic for me), and the fictional Such a Fun Age- HIGHLY recommend this… as a mother with young children, it will make you (collect mothers with young children, not you Julia :)) reexamine your perspectives and attitudes… I continue to think about this book.
Oh, Such a Fun Age was such a great book! I completely agree with you about how it makes you think about your actions and perspectives, I haven’t stopped since I finished it a week ago. Can’t get it out of my head. I will have to reread it at some stage, I do feel there was a lot that went over my head – possibly because I’m not Black but possibly because I’m not American (possibly because I’m older than Emira!)
I liked Such a Fun Age but didn’t *love* it. It did make me think a lot, however. Now that I’m reading your comment I’m thinking I might need to re-read it with a new perspective as well.
it made me uncomfortable in a good way.. I hope to use it in a book club soon… I love books where you’re not sure at first whether you love or hate characters..with lots of gray areas…and that’s the biggest reason I liked it… not sure how I feel about the mother.. or the boyfriend…maybe worth a reread!
I love these types of posts! I’m beginning my anti-racist education as well and I do have to say the first book I am reading is by a white woman as well. I plan to obviously include black authors in this process, but there is something to be said for reading an experience that is similar to mine, in order to open my eyes. I’m reading “Waking Up White” by Debby Irving and for me, it is the perfect introduction.
I also recently read a fiction book that was amazing about a Nigerian immigrant experience – Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Def made me go down the Google hole and spend time learning about things, places, events, etc. that I never knew existed. I stayed up way too late many nights to finish it.
I love Americanah so much too! It has a lot to say about our current situation. It’s also pure entertainment!
I actually have that so might start it next. There are so many books on my list it’s hard to pick! I need to learn how to speed read.
I have been doing Egoscue menus for almost a year now, and this is the first time I’ve ever known anyone else to know what it is, haha! Definitely a hidden gem that helps so much more short-term and long-term.
No way! You’re the only other person I’ve heard from that knows about it. I guess the secret is out now!
Oooo girl Hamilton obvi!!! But I also LOVED The Vanishing Half, and just started Such a Fun Age, which I think you would really like, too!! Also, have been loving Anel’s gardening IG posts, ahah. Feel free to pass that along to him 🙂 lets make the last weeks of July ok-ish comparatively, woot!
OMG DUH! I can’t believe I didn’t include that. Obviously we watched and loved it. I read Such a Fun Age a few months back. I think you’ll like it too! I will for sure pass along to Anel the new #gardeninfluencer
I highly recommend So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Also, I just started Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad. It’s 28 days of anti-racism work that I think will be transformative in helping me to unpack my own biases, privilege, and blind spots.
I loved So You Want to Talk About Race!
Hi Julia, …I enjoy your “monthly favorites” …you blog is like a breath of fresh air!
Maybe because I’m closer in age to your mom lol! Your colorful pictures and pretty fashion choices are delightful! I wanted to share a book recommendation I think you will enjoy, its BEST to listen to it. “Letters from Skye”
Stay safe and healthy.