What’s on my Nightstand: February 2017

Adult Fiction

Contents May Have Shifted, by Pam Houston
Dora: A Headcase, by Lidia Yuknavitch



The Places That Scare You, by Pema Chödrön
Unnatural Selection, by Mara Hvistendahl
The Botany of Desire, by Michael Pollan
Citizen, by Claudia Rankine


Short Story

Sonny’s Blues, by James Baldwin
Bloodchild, Octavia Butler



Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, by Joy Harjo
The Art of Peace, by Morihei Ueshiba


Young Adult Fiction

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli


Children’s Picture Book

The Blue Whale, by Jenni Desmond



The New Yorker
The Week



The New York Times



The New Yorker subscription card


Lip balm

HURRAW! black cherry lip balm


Bowl with apples & peanut butter

Field Day organic crunchy and salted peanut butter



Jack Russell Terrier (age 9)

What’s On My Nightstand: January 2017

Adult Fiction

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith
The Small Backs of Children, by Lidia Yuknavitch


Call Me By My True Names, by Thich Naht Hahn
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, by Joy Harjo


The Places That Scare You, by Pema Chödrön
Unnatural Selection, by Mara Hvistendahl
Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
Break Every Rule, Carole Maso

Young Adult Fiction

The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin

 Children’s Picture Book

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Phillip and Erin Stead
Lon Po Po, by Ed Young


The New Yorker
The Week


The New York Times


Shout Out Philly – Raising the volume on progressive activism in Philadelphia

Lip balm

HURRAW! black cherry lip balm

Bowl, palo santo wood

Patagonia, AZ


gift of Kelly Moreno

“Original Child Bomb,” by Thomas Merton, c. 1961 (signed copy)


This morning I woke up to this email in response to yesterday’s post:


My second reaction was to share the story my friend told me last night over sweet potato tacos. On Saturday as she and her husband turned onto 14th and Constitution in front of the National Museum of African American History – pressed body to body, sign to sign – a man wearing a red “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” hat drove a motorized wheelchair at a diagonal through the crowd, in the direction opposite the marchers. They simply smiled and parted to let him pass, where he continued to press through the crowd, against the tide.

Free expression has its place. So do civility and kindness and respect.

I’d say more about this, but I just made a really beautiful zucchini frittata. I’ve got petitions to sign and phone calls to make and friends who build bonfires in their backyards and host sign-making dance parties in their living rooms, kids and dogs included.

LOVE, baby. That’s where it’s at.

Featured image: Make America Love Again patch from Pins Won’t Save the World, Sagmeister & Walsh

What’s on my Nightstand: November 2016

Adult Fiction

Artful, by Ali Smith

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith

The Art Lover, by Carole Maso

The Elegant Gathering of White Snows, by Kris Radish

Young Adult Fiction

Beholding Bee, by Kimberly Newton Fusco


Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, by Joy Harjo

Why I Wake Early, by Mary Oliver


Beauvoir and The Second Sex – Feminism, Race, and the Origins of Existentialism, by Margaret A. Simons

Break Every Rule, by Carole Maso


The Pink Marine, by Greg Cope White

Truth and Beauty, by Ann Patchett


The New Yorker

The Week


The New York Times


“May your day be as beautiful as you are,” by scrane1970

Lip balm

HURRAW! moon balm


Dream Girl, by PINtervention

don’t die wondering

On Saturday morning I was talking with my parents and I shared an anecdote about one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Wayne Dyer: last week, he posted on Facebook that he keeps a suit in his closet with the pocket cut out. It’s a reminder that when he’s gone, he won’t be taking anything with him.

On Sunday, I learned that Dr. Wayne Dyer had died in his sleep overnight. I cried when I learned the news (not for him, of course, because he’s on to greater adventures), but for all of us who have benefited from his teaching. I’m sad because I can no longer learn what he is thinking about Today.

One of the most lasting messages of Wayne Dyer will be “don’t die with your music still inside you.” Don’t wait until you’re gone to do that thing that you’ve always wanted to do.

I fell asleep on Sunday night listening to one of Wayne Dyer’s audio recordings, comforting myself that I can honor him by making his teachings new for me again. Then I woke up on Monday and got to work on my book.

In honor of Dr. Wayne Dyer, answer these questions for yourself:

At the end of your life, what are the things that you don’t want to die wondering?

What do you not want to leave undone, unlearned, unloved, or unsaid?

Start today.

viva l’italia!

Today marks Day One of a thirty-day travel adventure. In about six hours I’ll be boarding a flight for Rome, then I’ll travel by train to the small town of Assisi in Perugia. Once in Assisi, I’ll spend four days wandering, sitting in cathedrals, writing, eating, drinking (“il vino della casa , per favore!”), watching paint dry, and listening to the saints.

After Assisi I’ll return to Rome, where an unanswered question awaits – one that I’ve been aware of since September, but won’t understand until I get there…

If there’s a good story to be told, I’ll scribble it in one of the plain brown Moleskine journals I always carry. Perhaps a few stories will hit the blog, but I’m going to do my best to enjoy life offline so that I don’t miss a thing. I know that I’m one lucky duck to have 30 days of adventure ahead of me, and I’m humbled and grateful.

Tell me a story

While I’m away, tell me a favorite travel story. I LOVE a good story.

a love letter for tough times

This is not a test.

You are not being tested.

No one is keeping score.

You are the expert and the architect;
a loving co-collaborator with the Divine
in a breathtaking play in which you are the star.

You’re head writer, producer, backer and director.
You cry at the sad parts and cheer with the audience
whenever you walk on stage.

Each morning, you oversee character development,
you consider and deliver the punchlines,
you get all the jokes.

You embrace feedback and revel in rewrites.

You scribble down plot twists on the back of your hand because you intimately understand that your character is shaped through adversity, and you thrive the most when you’re wide awake.

This is simply one moment among many in your life’s best work.

Live it like you own it.
Live it like you love it.
Love it with every breath.

This is not a test.

Click to share.

when people ask me

How do you do it?
how do you
again, and
do it

I tell them honestly: I don’t know.

There’s the temptation
to throw out the baby
pull the drain on the tub
and let the water
run free.

What I do know is what I kept:

and its sloppy lover, exhilaration.

And peonies –
can you ever get enough?
how tightly they guard
their dark buds
before bursting open
and spilling across the table
in a gorgeous confusion of
the softest pink.

In the very least, I have always counted on this.

I’m back

“What are three things that you love to do so much that when you’re doing them, you could do them all day, every day?

When a friend recently asked me this, the answers came easily: writing, time in nature, human connection. Then I asked myself: “Am I LIVING them?”

Three years ago at this time, I was running a raw-vegan retreat center on an organic farm in the mountains of Brazil. After a 20-year career in public policy and education reform, the decision was a sharp departure from the world I’d been living. It was a bold act to claim a life I craved. Between preparing farm-fresh dishes, swimming in waterfalls, and dodging venomous snakes, I kept a blog that connected me to thousands of people in over 100 countries. It was a crazy-delicious adventure that perfectly incorporated the things I love most.

At its peak, it was magic.

Then cancer happened. Paradise was laid to rest under a tsunami of chaos and grief. There’s just no way to sugarcoat that kind of loss. Then and now, it was an urgent reminder of the vital necessity of living in the present. Hour-by-hour, moment-by-moment, through conscious rededication to the things I love, I have tenderly, achingly found my way back.

Today – when I’m not running my business, eating, or sleeping, I am WRITING. I’m working on a novel, and I wake each morning like a woman possessed: driven, excited, and endlessly thrilled to see what happens next. (Even as I write this first post, it’s 3 am on a Sunday, and I just couldn’t help it: the words woke me up.)

Today – I resume my place in the wacky world of bloggers. It’s so good to be back.

Get in touch with me by commenting below. The very best way to keep up with me and my writing is to visit my blog. My newsletter subscribers receive my blog posts first. Be sure to subscribe to have all new posts go straight to your inbox.