issue #118 - the one checking in
How are you?
Be honest. How are you, really?
I’m feeling a lot of feelings. Immense gratitude that my family is safe and healthy. A little burnt out from having both kids at home while working (and more gratitude that I have the ability to enable an auto-response like this with no consequences). I’m tired of Cocomelon and Shark Dog and even Encanto (though I still cry when Luisa’s song comes on). A little bit of pride for staying consistent with healthy rituals, and hopeful and fearful for the Philadelphia Eagles playoff game against Tampa Bay. And not at all ready for the week but also very ready for my kids to be back in school.
And a little tired of feeling all these feelings.
At this point, I feel like the things that brought me comfort and peace in the early days of COVID - romance novels, walks outside, my group texts with friends - have become survival tools like masks and tests. I’m hesitant to even think about planning a family vacation that requires a flight (since Rhaki isn’t vaccinated and the vaccines for children 5 and under are months away from authorization).
I miss my friends. I miss popping into a coffee shop with my laptop to work for an hour or two (it used to be my catch-up-on-email-on-offline-mode time). I miss marathon days running around the city, and the feeling of walking out of the my subway station and coming home after a fulfilling day.
I miss non-pandemic life and all the little things I took for granted. And while I know I won’t take them for granted when COVID becomes endemic, I also know it won’t be the same.
This is my long-winded way of holding space for all of us to feel not okay because things are NOT okay, nor will they be for a while.
Sending you all a big hug, and raising my second cup of coffee to you. If you’d like to share how you’re feeling or let out a typed scream, come over to the website and leave it in the comments.
On another note - the daily #5SmartReads newsletter is now free, and there has been some wonderful conversation about the day’s reads in those comments. Subscribers to the daily newsletter will have some special perks (first access to 1:1 mentoring sessions with me, the Smart Reads Book Club which will be announced next week!). If you’d like to join us, you can upgrade below!
What I’m continuing in 2022 (sponsored by Blue Apron)
It’s a new year. And I’m bringing some of my 2021 secret weapons into 2022.
Like Blue Apron.
Despite my best attempts, I am terrible about meal planning. I have every intention of going through my cookbooks, selecting recipes, grocery shopping, and prepping the meals on a Sunday afternoon so dinner is served, every single night.
That’s the fantasy. My reality is ordering the bare essentials (milk, bananas, yogurt, etc) on the “frequently shopped items” section on the grocery app, and running to the corner deli when we need to restock. By 5 pm, my husband’s texting me “What’s for dinner? What are the kids having?”
The answer is always Blue Apron. The service lets me do what I love best (the actual cooking and preparation of the meal), without any of the advance work. My husband picks the recipes every single week from the app, from the 53 options they offer at a time.
From 5-5:45, it’s my time to pop in my headphones and listen to an audiobook and lose myself in the chopping, sautéing, roasting, boiling, and plating of a meal that’s always delicious.
The convenience of Blue Apron is as good as the meals it provides. I can easily skip weeks (like I did when I was traveling on book tour), or have it delivered to another address (like we did on vacation last summer).
More than the convenience and the delicious meals, Blue Apron reduces a fair amount of the mental load that comes into meal planning and preparation and lets me enjoy the actual cooking of the meal. For me, it’s helped reduce my decision fatigue, and the cooking of dinner helps me unwind from my work day.
Blue Apron made 2021 easier and more delicious. Here’s to more delicious dinners and less stress in 2022.
If you haven’t tried Blue Apron, you can sign up to get $110 + free shipping off your first 5 boxes!
What I Read This Week
Barbarian’s Redemption (Ice Planet Barbarians #13) by Ruby Dixon - I’ve been intrigued by Bek since this series began, and his book quickly shot up to the #2 spot of my favorites in this series (Barbarian Alien is still my favorite). I can’t say enough about this series except I need you all to read it so we can discuss. It was such a highlight of my December, and I’m thrilled to have 9 more books left in this series (as well as Ruby Dixon’s entire backlist).
Need To Know by Karen Cleveland - I am extremely specific about thrillers. My preferences are YA thrillers that aren’t too scary (I’m still recovering from Verity), ones focused on wealthy people misbehaving (Christina Alger is my favorite author in this genre), or a good spy/political thriller, with an emphasis on US-Russia covert operations. I like what I like, and I LOVED Need To Know, which fit firmly in that last category and may have exceeded Red Sparrow in that ranking. The book is centered on a CIA analyst who discovers her husband is an asset for the SVR (Russia’s CIA), and what happens next. Spy life is often depicted more glamorously in books, but Cleveland centers the story around the couple and the challenge of raising young kids, which I found so compelling and empathetic.
The Lady Astronaut trilogy by Mary Robinette Kowal - I’m a compulsive re-reader, and find myself going back to old favorites after finishing a superb book and needing a minute before I dive into another. After finishing Need To Know, I revisited the outstanding Lady Astronaut trilogy. It’s an alternate history where a giant meteorite hits Earth in the 50’s and initiates an extinction-level event, with the only hope for humanity being space colonization. I first picked up this series 4 years ago, and have re-read it every year (sometimes twice!) since.
Top 5 Reads Of The Week:
You Contain Multitudes (Ask Polly)
The rest of the week’s reads (and conversations!) are below:
Your Questions, Answered
I’m not buying much these days, so I’m going to use this space to share some of the questions and product requests I get asked frequently.
What made you choose Athletic Greens? I’m drinking and liking it but it it legit?
Athletic Greens is my light breakfast-multivitamin-prebiotic that sets my day on the right foot and helps me make healthier choices throughout the day. I drink a lot more water, am more likely to exercise, and make better nutrition choices on the days I start my day with AG.
For me, that’s extremely valuable. It helps me start my day the way I want to, with minimal effort. It’s something that’s easy for me to be consistent with, which is key for building new habits and routines.
There is no magic bullet (in the wellness space or in the pharmaceutical space) to give you excellent health. Health is based on the many little choices you make every day, and AG helps me make better choices, every single day.
My friend Kat is the President & COO and on the board of Athletic Greens, and I used her link for my first order.
Favorite loungewear for airports?
Vuori gifted me some pieces last month and I will be wearing them on every flight I take from here on out - they are insanely soft and comfortable, and there is some magic in their fabric that helps regulate your temperature (I’m never too hot or too cold in them). I’ll be wearing the Halo Wideleg Pants with the long-sleeve Halo crew when work travel picks up again.
What’s your morning ritual?
I wake up every morning around 6 am, and always hit snooze for an extra 10 minutes of lazing about. I do the day’s Headspace meditation while sitting in bed (you can enable Headspace as an Alexa skill!), and then get out of bed to brush my teeth and wash my face and change into workout clothes.
I make my bed while sipping hot lemon water, and head to the kitchen and drink my Athletic Greens right away. I’ve set the kids’ plates and cups the night before, so I’ll prepare mini bagels with cream cheese or pop waffles into the toaster oven and cut up some fruit for them. By the time breakfast is ready and snacks and water bottles have been packed in their bags, I’m ready for coffee and they’re getting up. I drink my coffee while getting them fed and ready for school, and both kids are in school by 8:30.
The next half hour is my putz-around time, and I usually skim the news and save articles I want to read later to Pocket. I work out 9-9:30, quickly drink an OWYN protein shake after, shower and change, and am at my desk by 10.
Clothing brand that is “nice” but can still breastfeed (other than Hatch)
I live in Nesara’s caftans all summer long, and they are perfect for both pregnancy and nursing/pumping. Code hitha will get you $10 off your order! And even though my pregnancy and nursing days are long gone, I love BURU’s housecoats, which make me feel pretty and comfortable and are designed with breastfeeding mothers in mind.
What’s your Taco Bell order?
Chips and cheese for an appetizer, a #1 supreme with beans instead of meat for my main (1 Diablo and 1 Fire sauce packet per taco), and cinny twists for dessert.
How do you find the time to do the daily reads?
Reading the news has been a priority of mine ever since I was in high school - it’s one of my daily rituals that I can’t imagine not doing. Reading through the news, selecting the articles, and writing the commentary for 5SR is something I make time for because it’s important to me. I work on the post throughout the day, writing the summary for each article during my breaks between calls or when I’m working on a big work task. And I’m so grateful for my amazing team of contributors - I learn something new every time I read their submissions!
Favorite winter coat to survive NYC?
The Amazon coat served me well for years, but I’ve been wearing this coat Talbots gifted me (mine’s sold out, but this is similar and on sale for $72) and I like it more for a few reasons:
- the zipper doesn’t snag like the Amazon coat
- the hood is adjustable, helping it stay on your head even in windy weather
- the longer length, because it is COLD this winter.
Stay safe, healthy, and I wish you swift recoveries if you get the big O.