You’ve probably been encouraged to read more at some point in your life, but did you know that reading can have long-lasting positive effects on the way your brain functions? Reading has been shown to be a fantastic workout for your brain in improving communication and memory. Because so many brain functions are activated when you’re reading, the increase in sustained brain activity can not only train your brain in processing narratives, it also keeps your memory sharp and increases your attention span. Just think of it like lifting weights for your mind. Reading is also so helpful for lowering stress levels. In 2009, a research study showed that 30 minutes of reading lowered stress just as well as yoga or humor did. So if you’re not feeling up to that morning yoga practice, pick up a book instead — your mind and body will be grateful.

Reading is something I deeply value and encourage in my clients as well. It’s helped educate me, teach me about myself, and strengthen my mind — so I wanted to share 3 books that have been impactful for me:

1. Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie

I send this book to every single one of my one-on-one clients, because it has played a huge role in my development! It’s a collection of daily meditations that are great little snippets to boost morale and help you along the path to spiritual growth. Melody Beattie just makes the world come alive with possibility — and sitting with her writing is the best way to start your day, connect with yourself and the world around you.

2. Becoming Supernatural by Joe Dispenza

I’m reading this right now — and am loving all of the neuroscience-backed material! This is perfect for the science nerd. It’s a great mixture between scientific information and ancient wisdom — showing you how to rewire your mind to live a more expansive, mystical life. Super recommend!

3. The Book of Delights by Ross Gay

Ross Gay is a treasure — as is this book of short essays. He wrote this book as a year-long meditation in making space for, noticing and documenting delight. Sometimes it’s delight in painful things, sometimes it’s in easy-to-enjoy things. He mainly just trains himself to see the beauty around him and experience gratitude for it all — and it’s very effective in inspiring the same in the person reading it.

With the U.S. 2020 Election just around the corner (exactly one week from today), you might be falling into unwanted habits and mindsets— isolated at home, scrolling through social media, and feeling overwhelmed about all the uncertainty.

If you’re experiencing Election Stress Disorder (look it up — it’s a real thing!), then there’s no better time to practice mindfulness, awareness and compassion so you can up your resilience. Not only will focusing on your health and wellbeing help you stay afloat, it’ll also allow you to respond and make a positive impact from an empowered, clear-headed place.

When we fall into anxious mindsets, our reactivity skyrockets. Instead, bringing in some intentionality can do wonders for your mental and emotional clarity that will help you meet whatever challenges may come.

Here are three mindfulness practices that can help you develop adaptive resilience and ease your election anxiety:

1. S.T.O.P.


Take a breath

Observe your body, feelings and thoughts


I use this practice all the time — and it’s such a simple one to integrate into your day-to-day. Whether you’re commuting, scrolling through the news, or in a difficult conversation, this is a practice you can do subtly that will allow you to pause and practice awareness. Even a 10 second pause, breath and body-scan will give your mind one more moment to move from reactivity to intentionality.

2. Practice compassion.

I’m sure you have loved ones you struggle to see eye to eye with. When we’re disagreeing with someone we care for, it can be that much harder to prevent our emotions from running the show in how we respond. Instead, cultivate compassion for them.

Think of a situation where you and that person had a different response — and you think theirs was the wrong response. Mentally state the judgment you have of the other person — and be sure to exaggerate it so you’re clear on what it actually is. Then ask yourself, “Why do I think they behaved that way? What might be their underlying need?” Once you have that need in mind, take it one step further and ask yourself if there’s a way for you to connect to that need in them. While practicing compassion for another person won’t solve our differences (or change their response necessarily), it will begin to shift your response to them — and make way for more empathetic, productive interactions.

3. Ask for the help you need.

Don’t even know where to begin with your ballot? Confess to someone you trust that you don’t know how to get started — and then ask for help with research or finding a voter guide that can explain the issues more clearly to you. Feeling like you need someone to process your stress with? Ask for help. So many people are feeling exactly the same thing — but are potentially too afraid to reach out to someone else. You may be helping someone else at the same time you’re voicing your need. Feel confused about the issues? Model curiosity and ask lots of questions. There are so many people and organizations who would be willing to help you get clarity and make an informed decision.

I know we’ve all said this a dozen times, but this year has looked nothing like we expected. There has been a lot of uncertainty — but I think this has helped us all build the muscle of resilience. With today being my birthday, I want to pause to take note of the lessons I’ve learned over this past year. I think it’s so important to notice and honor the ways we’re growing and shifting — so that we can continue to transform. A lot has happened this year and I’m feeling so grateful for all the people, places, and experiences that have shaped my last trip around the sun!

Here are three lessons I’m taking with me into this next year of life:

1. People come and go — and that’s a good thing.

I’ve gained and lost relationships this year — that sort of change used to really gut me. I’d question myself and feel really shaken whenever I experienced any shifts in close relationships. This year, I’ve deepened my relationship to myself and realized that my identity doesn’t rely on my bond to any other person. I got clear on my worth, and let what wasn’t working flow out of my life without shaking my foundation or grasping at what was. This is still a work in progress but I understand that friendships ebb and flow and there is no need to attach to them if it does not feel right.

2. Things always work out as they should.

I entered into 2020 having goals and expectations just like anyone else — and every single one of them has had to be rethought and reframed to fit this new reality we’re experiencing. Everything from work to weddings, to travel plans and family gatherings had to transform into something else — and although different than what was originally envisioned, in a sense it was better. More intimate time with family, more thought out time with friends and more intentional time spent in general. There isn’t metamorphosis without a whole lot of discomfort and when you let go just enough, everything falls into place.

3. It truly does keep getting better

35 - I remember when I was younger and I thought of being this age and what that meant. I thought I would have it ALLL figured out - well guess what, I don’t but I don’t think you ever really do. I have more compassion for my parents, more understanding of my friends and more kindness to myself. I feel like I have the support of incredible people in my life and for that I am extremely grateful. Bring on the new year!

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