WHAT WE LOVED WATCHING
The Great British Baking Show Apparently, I’m late to the game but the GBBS is the bomb! After spending an afternoon purging my Netflix queue this summer, I realized I didn’t have anything left to binge. As I added new shows to watch to my list, this gem popped up. It’s inspired me to up my baking game and I’ve been experimenting on my family all fall.
Meru Every year around this time I seem to make an annual viewing of Meru from Jimmy Chin, also director of Free Solo of recent Oscar fame. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you are probably not a stranger to Chin’s work. This movie helps answer the question of ‘Why do humans push themselves to the limit or need some crazy, audacious, life-risking adventure or objective?’ The simple answer: Because it’s there. This movie really awakens my spirit to the big things humans are capable of, even if it’s just climbing an epic mountain.
Ted Lasso This is not so much a show about an American football coach recruited to coach a British soccer team as much as it’s a show that will renew your faith in humanity. It’s funny, inspiring, and is one of those rare shows that can make you reflect on your life and make you ask “How can I put a little more of the Ted Lasso spirit in my life?”
Immortal Egypt Did you know that Cleopatra lived closer in time to us than she did to the builders of the pyramids? That fact shows just how long ancient Egypt endured. Dr. Joann Fletcher’s four-part series—Immortal Egypt (2016)— kicked-off my fascination with the religion, culture, and politics of ancient Egypt. Exploring ancient Egypt’s 3,000-plus year history turned out to be the perfect way for me to keep my mind occupied during the pandemic.
WHAT WE LOVED READING
A Fine Balance This is one of my favorite books that I re-read this year. It’s a story about the slow development of a friendship that is brought about by 4 people being thrown together in India during the State of Emergency. The book contains one of my favorite quotes, “Sometimes you have to use your failures as stepping stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair. In the end, it’s all a question of balance.” Seemed like a fitting book to revisit for 2020.
The Hate U Give I read this with my daughter over the summer. This young adult novel was such a heartbreakingly honest account of what is happening in America right now. As a white reader, the experience this story affords its readers cannot be taken for granted. This book takes you into the heart of Garden Heights after the main character has witnessed the wrongful murder of her best friend Khalil by a police officer. Reading what Starr deals with on a day to day basis and the experience of being alongside her as she grappled with the injustice of it all gave us an entirely new perspective with this honest firsthand account. It really is powerful. This novel is such an essential read, and I highly encourage you to pick it up and share it with others.
Start with Why This is one of those books that has really transformed my thinking as a leader over the past year. As a former educator, I was used to answering the question ‘Why do we have to learn this, Mr. Bailey?’ Equally important is putting the ‘Why’ behind everything we do in social impact work or business or even in your family or personal life. This book helps an individual or organization clearly draw out their ‘Why’ and how that ‘Why’ filters down to impact your mission and your everyday work.
Tribe of Mentors I’ve been reading this book off and on for a few years because I find myself falling down random rabbit holes of interesting websites, podcasts, books, and other resources. It’s great for bite sized reading and includes a broad variety of perspectives and advice that is thought provoking!
Fantastic Strangelings Book Club I adore author Jenny Lawson’s irreverent sense of humor and her boldly honest portrayal of living with several mental and physical illnesses. Early this year her blog followers convinced her to start a book club featuring books that she finds interesting. I joined mostly because I love Jenny but have ended up loving the variety of books that she has chosen, as that many are books I would not have picked up on my own.
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous Over the summer, I joined a zoom book club where I was introduced to Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel (2019). In this fictional story, told as a letter to his mother, Vuong draws on his background as a poet to tell an arrestingly beautiful story of poverty, queer youth, the refugee experience, and so much more. It stays with you.
WHAT WE LOVED LISTENING
American Hysteria This podcast explores the moral panics, conspiracy theories, and urban legends that shape our culture. It talks about everything from killer clowns to hipsters to The Mandela Effect through the lens of psychology, sociology and biology.
Peloton App Working from home with gyms closed and limited interaction the Peloton App saved my soul! It was the perfect collaboration of physical fitness and personal motivation. Now that the gym is back open I take the app with me to motivate my workouts. I love being able to pick my music genre and I get to squeeze in a little me time! Favorite Instructor: Robin Arzon.. “Yass Queen!”
– Wendi Ames, Director of Donor and Community Engagement
I have to agree with Wendi on the Peloton App. Not only does it keep you going and motivated in your workout, but there is also such a variety of exercise! It’s not just for stationary bikes, y’all! There is yoga, running, high intensity, and of course, biking on this great app. I have to say my favorite feature on the app is the meditations, especially on those highly stressful days when I need to quiet my mind from all the craziness.
The Ed Mylett Show Admittedly, I am not a reader. I love learning and listening to other points of view and life lived experience. The Ed Mylett show lives up to my personal mantra that you can learn a little something from everyone no matter their background. Whether its Jay Shetty learning about Life as a former monk or how luck played a huge factor in the life of Bob Menery, there is a lesson to learn!
True Crime Brewery is a true-crime podcast I came across this year. Jill and Dick are husband and wife that use their medical knowledge and life experiences to take a deep dive into some of the most intriguing crimes from all over the world. Just for fun, Dick uses his expertise as a craft beer lover to review and/or recommend beers from the regions where each crime occurred. Even though I’m not a beer drinker myself, I get a kick out of his appreciation for brew.
Nice White Parents It’s easy to think that having good intentions is sufficient to create the “right” kind of change. Chana Joffe-Walt’s podcast, Nice White Parents (2020), is a case study of how good intentions go awry and perpetuate an unequal, segregated school system. This podcast builds on a series of 2015 reporting that Joffe-Walt completed with Nikole Hannah-Jones on school segregation (available in the link above). As I was thinking about education, I finally made time to read/listen to Hannah-Jones’ 2019 1619 Project. All three project has been absolutely indispensable for me by illustrating how creating change should begin with listening and learning.