issue #152 - yet another random one
A quick housekeeping note - there will be no #5SmartReads this week due to some internal planning and an extraordinarily busy week. Thank you for understanding, and have a wonderful week!
I’ll spare you the details of the past two weeks - they’ve been the usual blur of work, kids, and another round of potty training (which has mercifully gone much better than the first attempt). I’ll leave you with some things I’ve been loving right now:
I never used to give my cleansers much thought, but Motif’s Abundance cleanser changed all that. It deeply cleanses without drying out your skin, gently exfoliates it, and the actives in the cleanser have helped brighten my skin and even its tone. In the evenings, I like to leave it on for a minute or two to act as a mini-mask before rinsing. If you’d like to give it a try, code HITHA15 gets you 15% off!
I’ve been on the hunt for fall candles that are not sweet, and I’ve found them. Hotel Lobby Candle’s new New York candle & D.S. & Durga’s Portable Fireplace are woody, smoky, and makes you feel like you’re wearing cashmere in a super chic library, sitting next to a crackling fire while sipping a hot toddy. They bring some glamour and coziness to my reality - sitting at my desk wearing athleisure, with 3 beverages crowding my desk.
A heads up for my perimenopausal ladies - the COVID bivalent booster may flare up all your symptoms, as they have for me. For the hot flashes, I can’t recommend this ice roller and cooling spray more, and I’ve been living in this Aerie pant/bra combo or this Vuori top & matching joggers to stay cool. My Equilibria sleep gummies, rapid sleep melts, and extra strength daily drops help with the insomnia. These sheets and pajamas have been my longtime favorites for staying cool while sleeping - highly recommend both.
I’ve talked about it before, but KiwiCo really has been a lifesaver for our family on rainy weekends, kids’ birthday parties, and being homebound while toileting. If you haven’t given them a try yet, you can get your first month for just $4.95 with code EARLY (which is their best deal ever, in my experience). They also have some great Halloween activities and costume kits and holiday activities if you’re getting a head start on your shopping.
What Everyone Read
Normal People by Sally Rooney- I am almost always a few years behind on catching up with popular literature, and this was no exception. I will say though that I really enjoyed this and it made me mildly nostalgic for my early 20s, with all of their angst and all of their freedom.
Baby, Lets Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him by Alanna Nash- I've been in an Elvis mood after watching the movie and it reminded me of a fantastic book I read years ago, Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him. I'm a huge fan of musician biographies, and this one took a different spin to focus on his relationships with all of the women in his life, including his mother. It was a deep dive into Elvis' psyche and was so fascinating I finished this very long book in a weekend! If you're a fan of music and hollywood history, you'll love this intimate look at Elvis' life.
Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauner. This is a beautiful and heart-wrenching memoir about family, grief, generational divides, self-love and identity. I found myself laughing and crying, and then often, taking moments away to reflect on the pain, struggle and joy that I experienced growing up in Texas as a multi-racial child in a strict, Muslim household. This book is just BURSTING with love. Highly, highly recommend.
How To Fake It In Hollywood by Ava Wilde- I love a fake dating trope especially when it involves celebrities! This book really captured the nuances of fame and how precarious it is for young women. And it's a debut novel.
The Way It Is by Lynn Ungar- I've read this poem over and over enough in recent weeks that I'm counting it as a "book" here. For me, it reads as a confirmation that it is, in fact, okay to be living in my hometown again, in the Midwest again, entirely unplanned and unwanted, yet somehow also so, so filled with joy.
Top #5SmartReads Of The Week:
King Charles Is Too Political For The USA (Politico)
The problem with toxic masculinity (In Pursuit of Clean Countertops)
Everything I Know About Parenting In A Crisis, I Learned My Mom (The New York Times)
Ask Elaine: A Friend Of 20 Years Is Ghosting Me. What Can I Do? (The Washington Post)
There Is No Roadmap For The Longest Phase Of Parenthood (The Atlantic)
The rest of the week’s reads + last week’s (and conversations!) are below:
Your Questions, Answered
Tips for navigating maternity leave when managing a large org? 1st time pregnant and I’m nervous!
You should read Lauren Smith Brody’s book, and if your company is open to it, have her come deliver a workshop on setting yourself and your company up for success when someone takes leave- she is BRILLIANT and kind.
Taking leave with Rhaki showed me what I could take off my plate because a team member did it better and showed an interest in continuing those responsibilities, and what only I can do. I found it to be really transformative even for our small company that made us stronger than before I left for leave.
I would propose a phase-in schedule (something I have here at #5SmartReads) because it’s hard to be fully back to work.
You got this. Your kid is lucky to have you as their mama, and your company is lucky to have yo as a leader. I’m rooting for you.
How to make peace with underachieving in my career for the sale of my personal life?
May I offer a reframe? To me, it sounds like you have excellent boundaries by caring for yourself and all your multitudes, and not just your career.
While this is often the opposite of what is expected of us and what society has told us we need, you are putting yourself first and that takes SO much strength and a strong sense of self.
You are overachieving when it comes to taking care of yourself. I celebrate that and am so proud of you.
Advice to get Desi parents to stop pressuring you to get married? 36F and not interested.
Desi parents are going to be Desi parents, and nothing will stop them. I’ve tried.
For the most part, this pressure is coming from the millennia old concern that desi parents have that a child isn’t truly settled until they’re married- it’s almost as if it’s encoded in their DNA. Sometimes remembering the WHY behind this pressure on you humanizes them, and you can react more calmly.
Find a very simple line and make it your default response, and if they engage further, go hide in the bathroom or another room until they stop. Something like “I hear you, and I know you say this because you love me. I love me too, and I love my life.”
I think Aparna Shewakramani’s book She’s Unlikeable is brilliant for everyone, but it has some amazing advice on how to live your truth when faced with expectations and standards that don’t fit your life. Highly highly recommend.
Hi! What hotel near Madison Square Garden would you recommend? For older parents.
I Would recommend staying at one of the hotels in Hudson Yards, which is a bit quieter and a few blocks away from MSQ. Pendry Manhattan West and Equinox Hotels are both there and are beautiful!
How did you cut back on wine? Trying over here but my anxiety is not letting me.
OOOOHHHHHHH I HAVE BEEN THERE.
Doing a dry month helped me sit in the emotions that had me reaching for a glass of wine, and find alternative rituals that would ease those anxious feelings.
Here are some of the rituals that helped:
Find an alternative beverage that lets you enjoy the ritual of unwinding with a drink, but not actually drinking alcohol. My favorites are Lyres Spirit, De Soi, and Equilibria Women drink drops in a club soda with lime and bitters (I actually bring these with me when I’m out to enjoy when I choose not to drink).
Meditation and journaling have helped me catch myself at the top of an anxiety spiral and slowly step away from it. Tara Schuster’s book Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies is such a compassionate and helpful book on how to work through the hard moments.
The buddy system really works. A Lot of my friends don’t drink, so I have no peer pressure on this front and it gives me the confidence to order that club soda or a cocktail when we’re out. And at home I just don’t drink anymore after doing Dry January last year - I just prepare myself a NA drink and enjoy the ritual of transitioning from work to home mode with a delicious drink that helps me feel refreshed and to sleep well.
What would your next book be about?
I’m hoping that We’re Speaking is the first of a series profiling incredible women of color that connects their life stories and experiences to tactical tips from other incredible women to help each of us step into our greatness.
I also want to work on the children’s book concept Rho came up with!
Favorite brunch spots in NYC?
We’re at Crave Fishbar nearly every single weekend! Perfect for a relaxing and delicious meal with kids.
Here are some other favorite spots (they’re all in Hells’ Kitchen or the UWS because that’s where we brunch most):
Multifunctional bag/backpack rec please. I’m ok to splurge for a price that will go the distance! TYSM
These are my favorite work/travel bags, but will give two a special shout-out:
The Cuyana backpack and the Senreve Maestra are absolute perfection on this front. They fit a crazy amount of stuff without weighing you down, the quality of the leather are amazing, and both are so chic and can be worn a variety of ways. They are my most used bags when I’m running around the city and I can’t recommend them more highly.
If you have a book idea, how do you go about that process? (Child development green)
My amazing agent runs a fantastic workshop that helps you develop your proposal and take them out to agents to pitch (once you sign with an agent, you pitch the book to publishers)
I would also read comparable titles to help you refine your pitch and better establish your differentiated angle as well- off the top of my head, I’d read Emily Oster’s books and Dr. Becky’s new book to help you focus on what you’re adding to the conversation that’s currently not being discussed or shared. Whether we like it not not, publishers will compare your proposal to these books, so It’s important to focus on what makes you and your book different and how it’ll contribute to this space.
For nonfiction, much to my chagrin, having a strong social media presence matters. Focus on engagement and high quality instead of filler count, and pick 1-2 platforms to focus on and drive people to a newsletter list (which is an asset you can control and are not at the mercy of other companies and changing algorithms!)
Coffee or chai?
Coffee wakes me up in the morning, but chai just soothes my soul and makes everything better! I’m team both- don’t make me choose!
Working mom with 4 and 1 year old. Tips to increase energy?
It’s the non sexy stuff- balanced and nutritious meals, daily movement, prioritizing sleep, and reducing your stress and doing it regularly. It is unsexy and boring and annoying but that’s truly the only way to keep your energy levels high. Here are some of my tools to maintain these habits:
I tuck my phone in its charging bed most nights by 8pm so I can physically disconnect and prepare for better sleep. We also keep our lights dimmed when it gets dark to help balance our circadian rhythms, and I wear Felix Grays blue light blockers in the evening to help prepare for sleep. I also swear by Equilibria sleep gummies and extra strength drops, which I take by 8pm as well.
Our weekends are solely for our family (the exception is karate and our kids’ friends birthday parties) and we are exceptionally lazy so everyone has a chance to recharge.
Saw an interview with Marc Cuban. Any thoughts on his new drug company?
BIG FAN. HUGE. I would work for Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs in a heartbeat- their business model is based on price transparency, which is a rarity in the space. While there are a pharmacy benefit manager like so many others, I find them to be providing critical benefits to patients whose drugs are cheaper to purchase out of pocket than through their insurance and pharmacy.
Additionally, I’ve heard really positive feedback on their quick fulfillment and shipment of methotrexate scrips in states that are restricting its use because it’s used to manage ectopic pregnancies and abortions.
Last 4 weeks of pregnancy…. what’s one thing you’d strongly suggest I do before baby!
Tagging my friend Catherine Brown because she’s very much in that phase right now!
I had a Thursday ritual in my last few weeks of going to therapy, Thai food, and acupuncture that was so restorative and I loved it.
I would also sleep as much as I possibly can (even though it’s very uncomfortable at that point!!), lots of warm baths, and a fancy afternoon tea with a friend!
I’m still telling everyone that they need to read Her Majesty’s Royal Coven which is superb (think a grown-up, progressive Harry Potter!).
Have a great week, and I’ll see you next week!