...but you don't have to take my word for it.
Adult coloring books
I first heard about adult coloring books about six months ago when I stumbled on the amazing work of artist Johanna Basford, who has published two coloring books for adults called Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest. Now that her books are mostly always sold out on Amazon, the whole thing is taking off and there are several really talented artists out there who have published adult coloring books. Now, you may be thinking thinking to yourself, "Really? Coloring? That's for kids!" But according to this Huffington Post article from 2014, "The practice generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity." In short, if you're stressed out, anxious or sad, coloring may be just the thing.
Manduka yoga mats
Like just about everyone else, I started my yoga & Pilates days with an el cheapo Gaiam mat I purchased at Target. And that was just fine, really, for my purposes when I was averaging a class a week or less. But last year, I was ready to invest in something awesome that would last. I've tried all of the fancy mats, from Jade to lululemon, and Manduka mats are my favorite. I own both a Black Mat Pro and an Eko Lite, and I love them both. The Black Mat Pro is probably the nicest mat I've ever tried. It's super thick (6") and wonderful to practice on (your knees will thank you!), but it's very heavy to cart around all day. So early this year I bought the Eko Lite. It's a little bit shorter, and just 3" thick, so it's nice and light to carry to class. I use yogitoes towels with both of them, which are awesome for sweaty practice. Since the Pro is heavy, I now use it mostly at home, and I carry the Lite to my classes. Try them out!
Dear Sugar Radio
Like most of the world, I am a huge Cheryl Strayed fan. If you haven't read Wild yet, you really need to - before you see the movie, which isn't as good (they almost never are). And if you don't already know that Cheryl started her career as Sugar, an advice columnist for a literary website called The Rumpus, you are seriously missing out. Her book Tiny Beautiful Things is a must-read compilation of her best Sugar columns. And now, the universe has granted all my wishes and Dear Sugar Radio is here, a podcast by Cheryl and the original Sugar, Steve Almond. Every other week, they offer pearls of wisdom and compassion to listeners who have written in with their problems. But it's more than a typical advice column, I assure you. Check it out!
Okay, I admit, this is not an easy read. It's painful, it's scary, and it's disgusting. It's also essential, eye-opening and important. The audiobook Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, as read by Mozhan Marno, is extremely powerful and at times upsetting. In the book, journalist Jon Krakauer (who has never written a book I didn't like) investigates a series of rapes at the University of Montana in Missoula, a typical college town obsessed with the football team, The Grizzlies. Between January 2008 and May 2012, the Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police that were improperly handled. Krakauer, in devastating detail, uses Missoula cases to shine a light on the overwhelming number of college rapes in America and why so many victims never go to the police. This book will make you angry - it should make you angry. One in every four college women is a rape or attempted rape survivor. That should be reason enough.
F*ck That: A Guided Meditation
This short spoof on a guided meditation* had me giggling nonstop when I first heard it - and for the seven or eight consecutive listens after that. I don't know what my favorite thing about it is - maybe that it sounds so much like an actual meditation that if you're not paying close attention, you might not even notice the jokes. Maybe it's that the stuff he's saying is so. damn. true. and I think precisely the same thoughts every day. Regardless, listen and laugh. (*NSFW)