Entries in health (62)


Reading Patterns: What I Read, When, and Why

Some of the books on my to-read shelves. October 19, 2014.Typically, I alternate between fiction and nonfiction books in my reading. My fiction selections tend toward the literary in genre; my nonfiction reads run the gamut from science to business to essays and history.

I find truth in both types of books.

In fiction, I discover more truth about the human condition and relationships. In nonfiction, I uncover insights into the past and present, business and economic realities, best practices for living, and the wonder of the natural world. Alternating types of reads makes me feel better rounded than I would feel if I read in gluts of one or the other.

And sometimes, just reading fiction feels overly self-indulgent.

Yet when I went to my bookshelf today to select my next read, I had no interest in any of the fantastic nonfiction prospects on my shelf. I didn’t want edification on business or life hacking or the history and current affairs of science—to name a few examples. These books didn’t call to me even though I find them interesting and look forward to reading them (at some point).

I just wanted another novel.

Given that year-end always turns into a busy time in my work life, I could likely benefit from reading some of the business options. Yet right now I spend the overwhelming portion of my day—an even vaster majority than usual—puzzling through business problems and reading business materials.

I’ve reached my capacity for business thinking at this particular moment. I could read one of the great business books on my shelf, but I wouldn’t do it justice right now. I wouldn’t read it as actively as I should read it. In a way, I need to read business books when I have calm in my work life—when I’d have more receptivity to absorb their wisdom.

The other nonfiction reads?

I love science, but it doesn’t pull me today. I don’t feel open to its wisdom. History? Same. I don’t feel like nonfiction can fulfill my intellectual and spiritual needs right now. No matter the book’s topic.

Novels might. In this very moment, I crave the insights and knowledge that fiction provides about human interactions, emotions, and conditions. I need to sense a commonality of feeling and thought—and to see where perspectives differ from mine.

And yes, I seek the comforting cradle of characters, settings, plotlines, stories.

Call me self-indulgent. After all, sometimes self-indulgence serves a deeper purpose. Sometimes we know what we need.

How do you decide what to read and when to read it? And why?


Friday Links #4: Great Stuff Worth a Read

Assorted reading material on my coffee table. October 2014.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, each Friday post will feature fantastic articles, books, and blog posts that I’ve read since the Friday post before. The more good writing gets spread around the world, the better.


  • Atul Gawande writes beautifully. His articles in The New Yorker make me wish every profession had someone so insightful and eloquent. (Gawande is a surgeon.) Anything he writes, you should read. And his essay in the New York Times about how society—and medicine—could improve treatment for people in the final stages of life resonated for me. How can we do better by the people we love who face the end? How do we make their exits as peaceful and positive as possible?
  • Another article in the New York Times, a reflection on work by Danial Adkison, made me wonder about our expectations of the workplace. Do we all want it to feel like family? Or do we seek this type of work environment and these types of office relationships only when we lack a supportive, cohesive family outside the workplace?
  • I empathize with my friend Rebecca’s uncertainty about how to best deal with compliments. Everyone likes to receive praise, but so few of us know how to graciously take it. I’ve meant to comment on her post for a while, but I don’t have any truly solid advice. Do you?
  • In the New York Times, Ian McGugan wrote about the NFL’s lack of any strong incentive to change when it comes to cracking down on inappropriate player behavior to preventing concussions. Over years of crafty marketing, the sport has rooted thoroughly in our national consciousness, plays into the comfort of the familiar when it comes to rules and customs, and thrives through our natural human tendencies for brand loyalty—all of which weaken the winds that could turn over new leaves.

Do tell:

What have you read recently that I should read?


Things I Love: October 2014

Welcome back, fall!

The temperatures may not have changed much here in Texas, but the days have shortened and the nesting, cozying instincts have begun to stir. Fingers crossed that November brings fire-pit weather.

And here, at the cusp of autumn, I’ve provided a list of what I love in this moment:

Guy Degrenne Teapots

My six-cup Guy Degrenne teapot on my front porch, where I'll take it of a chilly morning. October 5, 2014.

I first encountered a Guy Degrenne teapot at a no-longer-extant restaurant called Bank housed in Houston’s Hotel Icon. A hot-tea aficionado, the restaurant thrilled me by offering loose-leaf teas in these perfect porcelain teapots with insulated metal covers.

That year—about ten years ago by now—I asked for a four-cup version for the holidays and haven’t had a better experience with a teapot. I still use that teapot at the office and have bought a six-cup version for the home.

I use both pots daily.

They steep loose-leaf tea without any side flavors, keep it warm for well longer than it takes me to finish either pot, and wash easily in the dishwasher. The decade-old one works as well as ever, though its insulated metal cover has gotten a little worse for my frequent wear (especially as its felt insulation keeps it from washing). If I do decide to retire it in time, I’ll replace it with a new version of the exact same pot.

Felix Doolittle Personalized Stationery

My beautiful Felix Doolittle personalized stationery, ready for real-mail creation. October 5, 2014.

Heartbreak when my stationer decided to change business plans earlier this year, leaving me in the cold for beautiful, personalized note cards. I love to send—and receive—real mail. I need real stationery on which to do it, I say.

And so: What to do?

Fortunately, Patti Wunder at Easton Place recommended Felix Doolittle. I ordered personalized notecards and writing paper, both of which arrived artfully printed—including the envelopes—and in elegant storage boxes, contents wrapped neatly in resealable cellophane.

Shortly thereafter, I penned my first snail mail with my new treasures and loved the way the paper held ink and how the notes came together for perfectly presented, neat-and-tidy real mail.

Healthy, Hearty Oat Bars

Oat bars hot and fresh from the oven, cooling on the counter before slicing. October 5, 2014.

In truth, I eat these oat bars all year long. Yet as the days shorten into ever-crisper nights, the cinnamon smell of these oat bars baking seems more right than it does at any other time.

These bars, adapted from a recipe from my beloved Victory Meals, which I’ve written about more than once on this blog (here and here, in fact), hit the spot of an afternoon and keep me going well into dinner time.

2 oz. oat bran
6 oz. extra-thick steel cut oats
1 tbsp. cinnamon
½ tbsp. nutmeg
½ tbsp. ginger
2 oz. cacao nibs
1 tsp. coconut oil
2.5 tbsp. water
Juice from ½ orange (or 2.5 tbsp. orange juice)
6 eggs
2 unpeeled Granny Smith apples, diced

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients except the apples in a bowl and mix until well blended.
  3. Fold the diced apples into the oat mixture.
  4. Pour oat-and-apple mixture into a 8” x 8” parchment-lined baking pan.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, turning once while baking.
  6. Allow to cool and serve warm or refrigerate and reheat before serving (also good cold or room temperature).

Makes two generous, filling servings.

What do you love this month?


Things I Love: September 2014

Back to products this month after a couple turns discussing services and cafes.

Paromi Herbal Tea

My Paromi herbal tea selections. September 7, 2014.

Want a challenge? Try finding palatable herbal teas for someone who doesn’t like fruity blends.

I discovered a couple creative and tasty options from Paromi at my local Whole Foods. One has a soothing blend of lemon and ginger that shies away from anything too stringent (although I do like a bam-pow kick of both at times) and another has a nice chamomile, lavender mix.

I wish Paromi offered these teas in loose-leaf, rather than in tea bags, but as I often only want a single cup of herbal tea before bed, I can live without the teapot.

Sunfood Super Foods Raw Organic Cacao Nibs

Sunfood cocoa nibs, ready to go. September 7, 2014.

If you love chocolate but try not to eat it too often (like this healthy eater), cacao nibs from Sunfood serve your cravings, cut out the bad stuff often included in processed chocolate (such as cream, added fats, sugars), and add valuable minerals and fiber to your diet. A win all around.

Add them to your baking (you don’t even need to adjust the other ingredients, I’ve found) for a chocolaty flavor and crunch or add them to savory foods, like chili, for a warming chocolate kick.

Door Hook from The Container Store

My door hanger from The Container Store in action. September 7, 2014.

I got sick of carting my bags up and down from my bedroom closet and the clutter of leaving my briefcases on the floor or table near the garage door drove me nuts.

A quick trip to The Container Store gifted me with this handy, reasonably priced, easy-to-install (heck, even I could do it) door hook strap. The hooks adjust to carry differently sized bags, can hold a significant amount of weight, and the brackets barely show on the closed door.


What do you love this month?


Friday Links: Reading to Get You Thinking

Assorted reading materials on my coffee table. October 11, 2014.

Let’s try something new.

I read everything I encounter: Magazines, books, packaging, direct mail. Flyers stuffed in my fence by landscapers.

Sometimes I have to consciously stop myself: “Wait. Why read the fine print about the return policies for a men’s shaving club? Quit that right now.”

Often, what I ingest and mentally masticate gets regurgitated in essay form on this site. You readers help me shape my thinking. (I love you for it, too.)

So I’ve decided to share links to the great things I’ve read over the past two weeks each Friday. I only do two Friday posts a month, so it shouldn’t overwhelm anyone—just periodically give you a resource for great reading.

Don’t worry:

I’ll spare you links to text on packaging. And the fine print on advertising. Also, I may still write whole posts about the contents of one or more of the links I post. Yet I figure good, chewy writing should get spread as far and wide as possible, even the texts that don’t prompt me to write an article in response.

And therefore, here, in list form, I’ve listed the thought-provoking things I’ve read over the last few weeks:

My biweekly list will likely get longer, as I’ll remember in future to bookmark the great reads I encounter.

What have you read recently that I should read?