issue #120 - the one that turned out differently than planned
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I set my morning alarm 15 minutes earlier - 10 minutes for snoozing, and 5 minutes to play the day’s Wordle (and closing my eyes and randomly picking a starter word from this list Elizabeth crowdsourced).
I rush through the rest of the morning - getting myself out of bed and changed, downing my Athletic Greens and coffee, getting the kids up and dropped off at school.
Once the kids are dropped off, I sip another cup of coffee and grab my Kindle to continue reading Ice Planet Barbarians for 30 minutes (a more enjoyable way to recharge than to scroll social media - guilty).
Then it’s the mad rush of Zoom meetings/emails/work, with a workout and shower crammed in if I’m lucky. The only thing that keeps me going during my work sprints is this Celine Dion complication, and I pick my workouts based on the playlist (and exclusively pop, pop punk, Broadway, or Disney workouts from the Peloton app). Some days, it’s a double Celine day (work playlist AND workout).
Those are always pretty great days.
As I make my way from my desk to the kitchen, I pop an Equilibria gummy and take 5 deep breaths to mark the transition from work mode to mom mode (the ritual that’s replaced my nightly glass of wine).
Dinner, baths, and bedtime is another whirlwind with the family. Once the kitchen is clean, the boys are asleep, and the house is quiet, my husband and I pop on an episode of The Good Place, which is so soothing and frankly the show we all need right now.
Every day feels like it’s the same. And while the little bright spots - the book series, playlist, gummy, and TV show - are also the same, they bring a sense of comfort rather than being rote or tired.
Living the same day over and over is absolutely exhausting. But I find it somewhat healing after a tumultuous last quarter of 2021 (closing a major deal, medical emergencies, a book tour, and trying to be a decent mother and wife and daughter).
My family stayed safe and healthy (which is the greatest gift of all). I basically lived in loungewear this month. I cooked most of my meals and prioritized sleep and fitness for the first time in a long time. I found joy in these little things.
And as in-person meetings and work travel ramps up next month, I’m going into it in a much better headspace than I was last fall.
I thought this week’s reflection would go very differently when I began writing it. Where I thought I’d be venting, I’m instead sitting in gratitude for the little decisions I made for myself every single day.
Is there one little thing that brought you daily joy this month? Is there one small decision you made for yourself every single month that has you feeling better? Is there a book or show that brought you inexplicable joy this month?
Savor it. Celebrate it. And if you feel inclined, share it in the comments.
I’m celebrating all of us for surviving the month. One down, 11 more to go for 2022.
On protecting my peace and what’s left of my sanity (sponsored by Blue Apron)
You make a lot of decisions in a day.
The outfit you put on. What to eat when you’re on the verge of hanger. What task to begin the day with. What to eat for lunch. What e-mail to respond to first. If you do answer the call coming in from the number you don’t recognize. What to eat for a snack. If you need another cup of coffee or just to drink more water. What to do next on your list. What to do during a work break. To text that friend you’re thinking about right now, or to write it down and do it later.
I’m wiped by the time I’m asked “what’s for dinner?” And I’m sure I’m not alone.
We make an estimated 35,000 decisions in a day. It’s no wonder that as the day goes on, the harder it feels to make decisions and we feel more tired and overwhelmed (this is called decision fatigue, and there’s a lot of research documenting it).
I’ve done my best to automate as many of the little decisions that I make every day. I throw on a workout set and a sweatshirt every morning, in the hopes I’ll actually work out. I start my day with the same ritual - making a cup of tea with lemon, writing down my three main goals I’m focused on, playing the same LoFi playlist I start every morning with, and tackling the first task on my t-do list.
And when it comes to “what’s for dinner?” and “what are we watching tonight?”, I defer to my husband. And Blue Apron.
My husband selects the Blue Apron meal he wants for dinner by 4:30 pm, and will remove all the ingredients and have the recipe card out. By 5, I’m in the kitchen preparing dinner while listening to an audiobook (my unwinding ritual every day). All the big decisions of the day have been made, and I get lost in the chopping, roasting, simmering, and assembling of dinner (which is usually a new recipe, given Blue Apron’s 53 meal options every week).
It’s always delicious. And whatever my husband picks for us to watch is always entertaining.
Blue Apron helps lighten my mental load, especially during the time of day when I don’t have much brainpower left. Their meals both satisfy me and fuel me for the next day.
Tens of thousands of decisions won’t be made by themselves.
What I Read This Week
When The Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen - this is one of the scariest thrillers I’ve ever read - mostly because the horrors detailed in McQueen’s outstanding book actually happened. She writes the horrors of slavery depicted through a ghost story with such rich detail that you feel like you were there. I think every American should read this book.
American Royalty by Tracey Livesay (out June 28th) - this was the perfect palate cleanser from Reckoning and also very vindicating as a fan of the Sussexes. When a rapper named Duchess and a reclusive, academic prince are brought together in the unlikeliest of circumstances, it’s a book I will always read. This one exceeded my already high expectations, and I’m itching for a follow up.
Full Out by Monica Aldama - if you haven’t watched season 2 of CHEER, you will LOVE this book. If, like me, you began it after finishing the season, some of Aldama’s stories and advice will ring hollow and familiar. There's not much new content in this book that you haven’t already seen play out in the screen. But there are some sections that I’ve bookmarked that are basically the mat talk that I need before I do hard things.
Barbarians Rescue (Ice Planet Barbarians #15) by Ruby Dixon - Just when I think I can predict the plot for the remaining IPB series, Ruby Dixon throws a massive curveball at me and seizes my attention even more than she already has. I did NOT see the main plot point coming, and I know I say this every week but this book definitely reshuffled the order of my favorite IPB books. Limiting myself to one book a week to make it through winter was both wise and foolish (wise to give me something to look forward to every week, foolish because I REALLY need to know how they wrap up this series now).
Top #5SmartReads of the Week
Kate Hudson's Absurd Empire (Back Row)
The Rot of Candy Crush and The Rest of Wordle (Culture Study)
It Won’t Be January Forever (VOGUE)
In one small prairie town, two warring visions of America (Associated Press)
The rest of the week’s reads (and conversations!) are below:
Your Questions, Answered
What are some things you’ve bought lately that you’ve loved?
I restocked my Barrière KN95 masks (the most comfortable ones I’ve found - code HITHA20 gets you 20% off), this little shower speaker (very loud and long battery life), my new vegetable chopper, and Jonathan van Ness’ Skillshare class (my link gets you a 30 day free trial, instead of their usual 7 day trial).
I have active partnerships with Barrière and Skillshare right now, but I’ve been a longtime fan and customer of both before we began working together. In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to disclose these engagements, and thank you for supporting the partners that allow me to continue writing this newsletter and creating content that helps you live smarter, better, and feel less alone.
What’s busier, Rhoshan Pharma or your personal brand/book/IG work?
Currently, Rhoshan Pharma is the busiest. We are in the thick of a lot of development activities and will be for the first half of the year. My daytime working hours are dedicated to Rhoshan first, and I use the snippets of time to work on the next day’s #5SmartReads (though they’re usually finished in the evenings), and I write the weekly newsletter on Saturdays. I film most of my sponsored Stories in the evenings as well. The list of Reels I need to film or finish editing is just getting longer, but it is what it is right now.
I’m lucky to have the most incredible teams at Rhoshan Pharmaceuticals, All The Smart Things (my content business) and home. My team members take on a lot of work that let me spend my time on the things I’m best suited for.
Who’s on your 5SR/Hitha team that works with you on all your projects? Do you mostly delegate?
I’m thrilled that you’re going to get to know more of my team members in the coming months! Meet Team All The Smart Things:
Austin, my manager - Austin handles the bulk of the operational work for sponsorships (negotiating the rate and contract, making sure I have everything I need to create and post, handling invoicing and payment). We also brainstorm different sponsorship opportunities and new brands to work with. I don’t really know how I handled sponsorships before Austin, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her partnership.
Taber & LaToya, editorial managers - Taber and LaToya oversee operations of #5SmartReads (preparing and posting the IG Stories every morning, managing the contributors, preparing the weekly newsletter) and also support Austin with sponsored content (grabbing analytics, collecting your responses to the content). They’re also my sounding board when I have harebrained ideas and aren’t afraid to tell me if they’re absurd. Taber just returned from parental leave and LaToya will be going on hers in the coming months, so we’ll be defining each of their roles and responsibilities more clearly once LaToya returns from her leave this summer.
Skai Blue Media, my communications team - I have the most phenomenal four women (Christanna, Leah, Sabine, and Emma) who coordinate my speaking engagements and events, help me pitch and place op-eds, manage my interview requests, and coordinated my book tour. They are incredible, and so good at what they do. I’m really lucky to have them in my corner.
Because of this amazing team and all the things they do, I can focus on creating great content, preparing for and delivering strong speeches or talks, and not drop as many balls as I used to.
Diaper bag recommendations?
I use and love Dagne Dover’s Wade diaper tote! I’ve used it as a travel tote for myself as well.
What’s your ranking of the Bridgerton books? Just finished #8!
I don’t really remember the titles, just the main Bridgerton in each book, but here’s how I group them:
LOVED - Anthony, Colin, Hyacinth, and Francesca
MEH - Daphne and Eloise
*eye roll* - Benedict and Gregory
I loved the Rokesbys series a lot more than the Bridgerton books!
Hi! I’m currently TTC (trying to conceive) - any thoughts from your experience that you’re willing to share?
I had a lot of luck on that front, if I’m being honest. But I would recommend checking out Natalist’s incredible blog. The posts are thoroughly researched, honest, and can answer nearly any question you may have.
Just curious if you’ve dabbled in NFTs
I haven’t, but my friend Michelle sent me a deep dive on NFTs that I’m making my way through. She launched WAGMI (We All Gonna Make It) to educate more women on NFTs and share vetted NFTs from inclusive communities. Highly recommend following the account!
Stay safe, stay healthy, and please share the little thing that brought you joy on a regular basis this month.