brene brown

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The Bookshelf, June 2019

The Parade, by Dave Eggers My list this month starts with a novel. This means I really enjoyed this book. Its a quick read, but dark and twisty. I like me some dark and twisty in novels. For anyone who has lived abroad, especially in slightly dangerous or off the beaten trail places, you’ll love this book. It captures several extremes in terms of how expats respond to the challenges of being foreign.

Braving the Wilderness, by Brene Brown. Of course this is a great read, its Brene Brown. I’d already read it but was looking for some ideas about community and relationships and she explores the deep need and longing we have for belonging. As a an expatriate, this resonates so much with me.

Running Home, by Katie Arnold. I loved parts of this book and honestly, skimmed a few parts. Katie’s relationship with her dad is complicated and she deftly captures the love/grief connection. Reading parts of this made me really, really want to destroy my journals. I only journal the bad stuff, so if one of my kids later tries to figure me out, and expose me by writing about me, after I die by reading my journals, they will totally miss my reality and only see my anger or sorrow. The parts I loved were when she talked about running, ultras and marathons and loved it.

Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, by Karen Armstrong It is hard to read about religious violence over the course of history, but also important. This book puts things like the Crusades and jihad into perspective and context.

Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship, by Al Ghazali. Super interesting, to read about more contemplative ways of looking at spiritual practice within Islam.

If the Oceans Were Ink: an Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran, by Carla Powers. An interesting take on moderate Islam through the exploration and friendship of a non-Muslim. I wanted to love this book but found myself liking it, parts felt a bit slow and limited in perspective but I also really appreciated Carla’s willingness to evaluate her own religious convictions and to question her friend, a sheikh, on hard topics.


What are you reading lately?

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On Wearing Ugly Pants (and envy)

ugly pants

the actual pants, ten years ago

Quick link: Envy and Ugly Pants

You know those ugly pants in your closet? The ones you pull on when you have to run to the grocery store and don’t expect to see anyone you know? The ones your husband tries to burn or cut or irredeemably stain? The ones you cling to and respond to his burn attempts with, “If you burn these I will destroy your black beauties!” and the fight ends?

I wore those to Lucy’s first day of school.

I shouldn’t have, they are really, stinkin’ ugly. But this was my ninth first day of school and the heat index hovered around ‘hellish’ and I just didn’t care.

Until I saw her.

That woman, every school has one, every woman knows one. Your nemesis. The one who seems to show up at every awkward moment of your life and while you are on your knees wiping up vomit, she is waltzing by on high heels  untouched by Djibouti’s dust. She smells like roses. You smell like vomit.

Even though we are far from the first day of school, I decided it was time to post the essay I wrote while Lucy was at school that day.

You know the woman I’m talking about. The one whose only flaw is that her well-dressed, wealthy husband’s chin sort of melts into his neck, deeper and deeper as he ages. The woman that makes you feel less than. The one that makes you discontent. The one with whom, in your own mind, you will never measure upShe has it all and no matter what you do, you never will.

This woman’s son is in my daughter’s class. Again.

This means I will see her on a regular basis for the rest of the year. Again.

This means it is time to battle the green monster of envy.

This means it is time to crush the concept of scarcity, the ‘mythical they.’

Click here to read more about how I battle this monster, how I face down the scarcity: Envy and Ugly Pants

How do you?