Hi! This week, we’ve got a book report episode for you. We’re each sharing three books we’ve read recently!
You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.
Show Notes: This week, we are each sharing several books!
Me And White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
This book is truly transformative! If you’re going to read it, definitely get a journal and do the journaling prompts.
Shout out to Layla’s podcast, Good Ancestor Podcast.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
If you want an introduction, listen to Glennon’s interview on Unlocking Us.
Shout out to Emma’s friend Madison Morrigan and her new podcast Everything Belongs.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book scared me into completing my book proposal. So if you need some motivation to complete a project, I highly recommend Big Magic.
Shout out to the Libby App where you can listen to library books for free. 🙂
On Writing by Stephen King
We love the idea of looking at writing as uncovering a fossil.
Shout out to The Martha Rules, which Martha wrote from prison. It’s definitely worth a revisit.
The Danish Way Of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Sandahl
Here’s a link to my hygge blog post which has links to the three books about hygge I read last year.
Reframing is such a powerful practice—try it and see!
Holistic Wealth by Keisha Blair
This is a personal finance book, but it also talks about other things that contribute to a wealthy life. If you’ve shied away from personal finance because it’s intimidating, we recommend this book.
Honorable mentions (we always have more than three)
–Work Optional by Tanja Hester. I learned so much about forming a long-term plan and investing from this book. I heard about Tanja on Young House Love Has A Podcast.
–You’re Wrong About Podcast. Listen to the episodes about Open Book by Jessica Simpson. It’s like being in a book club with friends and you don’t have to read the book first to enjoy these episodes.
–Woman Of Color by LaTonya Yvette
Here are the links to LaTonya’s posts she wrote for ABM and here’s a link to LaTonya’s blog. Also be sure to follow her on Instagram.
We’d love to hear your recommendations for books we should add to our reading lists and check out more book report podcasts here. xx!
Miss an episode? Get caught up!
- Episode #45: Covid Pivots
- Episode #44: (MINI) Oops I’m Moving Again Follow Up Q+A
- Episode #43: How To Be Your Own General Contractor
Episode 46 Transcript
Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. Way back in episode eight, we shared some personal development books that have changed our lives. And we heard from you all that you loved that episode. As you know, Elsie and I are big believers in lifelong learning. So this week, we’re back with more books that we’ve read since then. Book report! Yes. And I think we call them self-help. In Episode eight, and this time we’re calling them personal development. A listener was like because we were like, oh, we need a better name. So we are each going to do three books and then some honorable mentions. And I was realizing as I was putting my list together that each of my books has kind of an element of almost like a little bit of a memoir?
Emma: Which I feel like a lot of personal development books do, because a lot of times the author is telling you how this thing they’re teaching you changed their life. But yeah, mine especially kind of have an element of that. So I’m going to be interested to see if yous do, too.
Elsie: Um, hmmm…(laughs)
Emma: I know. Well, it doesn’t matter. It’s just, you know, I don’t know…
Elsie: Maybe some of them, yes.
Emma: My first book is Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. So I have never read a book like this before, about white supremacy. This is my first one. And I am so glad I chose this as my first one. So, Layla, not only is she an amazing writer, she has an amazing reading voice. She reads her own audio book, which I did as an audio book because I love audio books. It goes thoroughly into every single thing that you might have seen floating around on the Internet lately, having to do with Black Lives Matter and anti-racism. She goes more deeply into every single subject or term that you might not understand, or concepts that you might need to have explained to you more deeply. So it’s really, really amazing.
Emma: Love that. Oh, and we should say just out of the gate so that I feel like I will keep repeating this. So I’ll just say it here: we are going to put all these books and any other books or other authors that we bring up at the same time, or if some of these authors have websites or Instagram accounts, all of that will be in the show notes, which is at abeautifulmess.com/podcast. So if you hear a name and you want to learn more, you can go there to find it instead of having to, like, rewind the episode.
Elsie: Definitely use the shownotes as a resource. This week we’ll link all of the books to Indie Bound. So…
Emma: Yeah, if they’re on there, if not, we’ll find something else that’s hopefully wide enough that enough people will be able to at least see it. And you can always find them on other places if you know the title. So.
Elsie: So I want to read a quote from her book that really spoke to me, because this is kind of where I am in my life, kind of starting from nothing. It says “Your desire to be seen as good can actually prevent you from being good, because if you don’t see yourself as part of the problem, then you cannot be part of the solution.” So, I wanted to read a few of my takeaways from the book. One is, this is a 28 day challenge, and it has journaling prompts. You definitely need to buy a journal and do the journaling prompts. It’s a big part of it and you will not get what you need to get out of it if you don’t do the journaling prompts. It was definitely my favorite part of doing the book. Another thing I wanted to say about it is I definitely recommend this book to every white person who wants to learn more about anti-racism. But I will say you need to go into it with a humble heart, feeling open and feeling ready to learn. It is a, you know, a super heavy topic and there were lots of points of it that were difficult for me to get through or, you know, just confusing, frustrating. It’s like you’re unlearning a lot of things that you didn’t even know where a problem. So it’s hard work. One of the things I felt encouraged with about is that after completing this challenge, I feel a little bit more ready to have a multi-layered, nuanced conversation about race instead of a linear, good, bad, racist versus nonracist conversation. I think that that’s kind of where I was stuck for most of my life and realizing for the first time that it’s much, much, much more complicated than that was a really big step. Another great quote I loved because we’re bloggers and we get called out a lot is “being called out or called in is not a deterrent to this work. It’s part of the work.” So one of the big things that I learned from the book was not to be constantly afraid of getting called out because that kind of perfectionism was really, really holding me back in my own journey. I know that a lot of people who are, you know, even just casually online, but definitely people who are like us in the influencer category feel a lot of fear about getting called out and being wrong and saying the wrong thing, and I think that this book really helped me to kind of get past that fear and start moving, you know, in a better direction. So I want to be a better ally ongoing, and I think that this is definitely a really, really good resource to kind of get a basic education to get started.
Emma: I love that. I haven’t read this book yet, so that’s a great recommendation I will put on my list of things to listen to. I also…
Elsie: It’s a great book, yeah. Definitely do the prompts.
Emma: Yeah. Well, I love journal prompts or I really like when books kind of force you to get involved. I think that I think it always is a mechanism whenever you’re teaching to help people have things sink in better. Whenever you write or you have to like explain it from, you know, a situation in your life or whatever, you know, it just forces you to kind of understand the concepts better. But one thing I was thinking about as you were explaining some of your takeaways from the book, which I loved, is I feel like Brene Brown said this on a podcast recently. I’m pretty sure it’s her. If I’m getting it wrong, I’m sorry. But she said it’s not about being right. It’s about getting it right. And I love that idea. It’s very like, don’t be afraid. You’re not going to get it right all the time. You’re gonna be wrong. And people can tell you you’re wrong because it’s not about you being right. It’s about you getting it right, which is an ongoing process of learning and changing and growing and sometimes getting it wrong and it being painful or embarrassing or whatever else uncomfortable and moving forward, because the goal is to get it right, not to be right. And I just really something about it connected with me. Like I was like I, I yeah, yeah. I don’t want to be right. I don’t care about that. I want to get it right and I’m not going to always get it right. And I’m okay with that. I want to move forward though. That’s important to me.
Elsie: Yeah. It feels good to finally be at that place. I didn’t know that that was something I really needed to learn because in the past I’ve been incredibly defensive. And, you know, that’s just kind of a normal first reaction when you don’t know better. But now that I know better, I feel like just kind of going through the rest of my life knowing that I’m probably wrong, is how I’ll probably approach things more often, and I feel like that will give me an opportunity to learn a lot more and grow a lot more moving forward. So, oh, I went to also recommend Layla’s podcast I just started listening to, it’s called Good Ancestor Podcast. And so, yeah, the good ancestor part is just kind of a goal that maybe if we do better in our lives, then we can leave a better world for, you know, our children and grandchildren. And that means a lot right now.
Elsie: The way things are in the world right now, I feel like that’s a really hopeful goal to shoot for.
Emma: Yeah, I love it. My first book is I read I think I posted about this on my Instagram, so maybe people know. But I read recently Untamed, which is by Glennon Doyle.
Elsie: I haven’t read that, but I’ve heard everyone talking about it. So I’m very curious to hear what it’s about.
Emma: Yeah, I feel like this…
Elsie: It’s popular, right?
Emma: Everyone’s, yeah. Everyone’s read this. So I don’t think it’s really a recommendation you haven’t heard of. It’s not a hidden gem. It is a best seller. It is awesome. It also, she has the most beautiful cover on this book. It’s like this kind of marble-y purply pink and it has like glitter.
Elsie: It’s very pretty.
Emma: And I think the cover really actually does very much reflect what the book is like because it has a lot to it. And it just kind of blends into a bunch of different areas. So, yeah, if you don’t know anything about Glennon, she has other books out. She has an Instagram. She’s been on lots of podcasts. She’s a pretty well-known figure. So you can learn a lot about her very quickly if you don’t know who she is. And she has a very interesting story. And if you need an introduction to this book, Untamed, I highly recommend the Unlocking Us podcast. She has an interview on there where she’s talking about the book and it’s great. So anyway, check that out if you’re interested. So here’s some things, the book is kind of like telling the story of her life from the past 10 years, five or 10 years or something like that. I don’t know the exact name number of years, but…and she’s gone through lots of different changes in her life. It’s…her perspective on it is so deep and so interesting. So the book covers all sorts of things. But a few topics are sexuality, addiction, mental health and taking care of yourself…
Emma: …racism, parenting and also sexism is specifically sexism within the lens of the evangelical Christian church, which is something that was a part of her life for a long time.
Elsie: Woah, OK. I need to read this for sure.
Emma: So there’s a lot. I, I wanted to put this on my list because I really enjoyed the book, but it’s kind of hard to talk about in a concise way because there, there’s a lot and it’s, has so many different layers and so many parts of it I found really challenging and interesting and just really broadened my perspective on different things. So I love it. And what else? Oh, I also, this is a very side note, but if you like Glennon, if you’re already like, yeah, Emma. I know Glennon, it’s been years, already read this book right when it came out, you’re not telling me anything new. OK. Well if you do want something else, my friend Madison Morrigan kind of reminds me of Glennon although she’s her own individual and so is Glennon they’re not like the same or anything. But to me, they kind of vibe the same because they’re both so deep and they have really interesting broad perspectives. So anyway, Madison Morrigan has a podcast she’s just launched. It’s called Everything Belongs. So highly recommend checking that out, too, if you want more of this type of deep thoughts from a rad woman.
Elsie: Oh, nice. I can’t wait to read that. Someday on the podcast, I want to talk about her evangelical upbringing because it’s so crazy sometimes when I can’t sleep at night, I fantasize about doing a podcast about it, but it’s…there’s so many parts to it that it’s hard to…you know what I mean? It’s scary.
Emma: Yeah. Yeah.
Elsie: It’s a lot to take on.
Emma: It’s a lot to talk about in a 20 to 30 minute…
Elsie: Right. (laughs)
Emma: …you know, without getting to explain all the other parts of it. I think that’s what’s so difficult about it. Plus, I think like my perspective on it this year, I’m 34 years old, is very different than when I was 24 years old. And I have a feeling it’s gonna be very different from when I’m 44 years old. Like, I just feel like you’re always growing and, like looking through a different lens at your past or at things you’ve gone through. And so it’s just so hard to…
Elsie: I feel that, too.
Emma: I don’t know, like, I just, you know, I’m like I feel like, do I even have enough perspective on this yet? (laughs) But I don’t know. Maybe you never do. And you’re just always moving forward with life. Anyway…
Elsie: Definitely a long term project.
Emma: For sure.
Elsie: Okay, So my second book is called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. So I’m really into the Libby app and I kind of just save books on there en masse, like I save so many books to listen to and then a lot of…
Emma: Is that the library app?
Elsie: Yes. It’s a free app. And if you have a library card, you can listen to audio books for free. You do have to wait in lines. Some of the lines are very long, maybe like five or 10 weeks for a popular book, but it is totally worth it. And I save so many books that there’s always at least two books that are ready for me to listen to in my app. So anyway, I put Big Magic in there, just sort of because I had heard a lot of people mention it and I saw that the cover was beautiful. I didn’t know who Elizabeth Gilbert was. I didn’t know what the book was about. I thought maybe it would be inspirational or just kind of fun, which it was, but. OK. Wow wow wow. This is one of my favorite books of my life. It really changed my life. And so I’ll tell you the story about it. It was, it was a random Sunday afternoon. And I was painting our front door because our house was about to be photographed to go up for sale in like two days (laughs) to finish it…
Emma: You’re like time to finish it!
Elsie: …myself on my kids’ nap time on the weekend. So I started listening to this book and it was just the most surreal experience. I was crying a lot. I couldn’t stop talking about it to Jeremy. He’s listening to the book now. A lot of my close friends have been listening to it. I kind of can’t have a conversation without talking about it. So anyway. Alright. So, first of all, the book. I love how it has a concept about thinking of creativity as a living thing that…almost like a pet that you have to care for and nurture or it will leave you and move on to a new owner. And I love that the concept of thinking of an idea that way.
Emma: It’s a Tamagotchi. (laughs)
Elsie: Yes! That’s kind of my new visualization of a creative idea. Yeah. Is a Tamagotchi that I could kill. And I need to be very alert and careful with it…
Emma: You gotta watch it!
Elsie: So she tells a story in the book about a novel she was writing, which so many of us have these projects. You start it, you’re on fire. You know, she even like had gotten a book deal already and she was sort of like in the process of it. And then something happened in her life. She put it on the backburner, I think, for two years. And then when she came back to it, the idea was just gone. And I’ve had that experience more times than I can count in my life. And so it really spoke to me. And then she had, her story actually goes on to just get even wilder, because it’s like the idea went to her friend and then years later, her friends writing almost the exact same book she had been writing. And it’s like a very specific fictional story. Anyway, I’m definitely ruining this part of the buck for anyone who’s going to listen to it, but do it anyway, I promise you, it’s so worth it.
Emma: And it’s better in the book than what Elsie’s doing right now (laughs).
Elsie: Oh my gosh, you’re right.
Elsie: OK (laughs). OK, I’ll call it on that part and I’ll just talk about how it affected me. So basically, as soon as I heard this story, I take things very literally and I sat my ass down and started working on my book that I had been putting on the backburner because I’ve been working on a book for a couple years now. It was a very almost spiritual like fate, like experience, because Emma had come to me at one point and said, Elsie, you need to write this specific book about this specific thing. And then like four or five other people had said this exact thing to me. I know that this book chose me and I’m supposed to be writing it, but it’s 2020. Our kids have been out of school again. There’s a lot of things in my life that I’m moving for a second time in a year (laughs). There’s a lot of things in my life that I can use as an excuse to not finish this book this year. But when I read this story, it scared me so bad that I immediately started writing again and within, it was like within two days, I had finished my book proposal that I was working on with my agent. I was months late on this thing. Like she probably didn’t even know if I was…she didn’t even know what I was doing at this point. She was just letting me be a flaky client. And anyway, now the proposal is fully finished in her inbox and she’s going to do her thing with it. And hopefully, you know, it’ll find a home and stuff. But I feel like I really need to send Elizabeth Gilbert an edible arrangement or some kind of gift for giving me this great gift of, you know, a fire under my ass to finish this project, because I now can see that it wasn’t going to wait for me forever. It is a book that has a time limit, an expiration on it. And I’m so glad that now I have the, you know, the push. So anyway, I loved that part of it. If you’re a person who has something in your life that you want to do, you’ve been putting off. Definitely go for Big Magic. The other thing I loved about the book is she has a lot about…so she is the writer of Eat, Pray, Love, which is like a bestseller for three years. I’ve never read it. I don’t really know that much, but I’ve never even seen the Julia Roberts movie. But I know how famous it was, was it the early 2000s?
Emma: I think so, yeah.
Elsie: Right. OK. So I know she had like a massive bestseller and I have a few friends in my life who’ve had these, like, massive successes. And it can be something that propels you forward and it can also be something that really holds you back. I know that Emma and I have had this in our life when we had a couple times in our life, we’ve had these massively successful things that we felt we couldn’t outdo — one being our first app, which was just I mean, it went to number one on the first day and it stayed there. And it was the single most life-changing day in my career, probably till I die. And I think if we would have let ourselves cave in to the fear of not being able to outdo that experience, then we wouldn’t have done our next couple apps, which were failures compared to that first one, you know, but then led us to A Color Story which is wildly more successful than our first app and our apps since then. So I don’t know if that makes sense. That is a really, really important thing to me. Learning the importance of a lifelong creative journey. That is not just outdoing yourself and not just reaching for a peak and believing that a peak always has to be there, but letting it just be what it is and letting some things be creative, letting some things be, you know, fulfilling in different ways than always being at the highest pinnacle of your success. I feel like that’s such a freeing thing. And hearing someone who’s had a three-year-long bestseller is kind of, you know, the right person to learn that lesson from. So, yeah, anyway, give it a 10 out of 10. Love the book. And it is definitely something that I’ll probably revisit throughout my life.
Emma: Yeah, I loved Big Magic. I listened to it years ago. I want to say I listened to it when we first moved into this house because I feel like…
Elsie: It’s kind of an old book, right? Like, I think I was really late to the boat on this one, but maybe…
Emma: Well it’s still super relevant. So…
Emma: Also, if you haven’t Elsie, listened to this yet, she was recently on the Rise podcast with Rachel Hollis.
Emma: Elizabeth Gilbert was. And she was talking about I. Well, she probably talks about a bunch of things. The part that resonated with me was that she talks about fear. And she talks exactly about what you’re, what you were just saying, like how she had this big success and she was really scared. And I think it’s just kind of that — she explains so many interesting things though, give that a listen. But I just kept thinking about how I feel like you just can’t believe the hype about yourself. You have to just recognize that life is long. And it’s gonna be one of those graphs that has like peaks and valleys. You know, it just is. And so you just have to be willing, you know, if you’re at one of the peaks, one of the high moments, like, well, I’m going to head into a valley next and I have to be OK with that, because that’s just how this works sometimes. So…it’s the only path forward
Elsie: Absolutely it is. Yeah, I, I find that really inspiring. Yeah.
Emma: Yeah. Well on that note, it’s funny because I actually think Big Magic in some ways is very similar to the next book that I was going to recommend. And it’s funny because these two writers, they’re both writers, but they’re very different in the way they communicate. I just think it’s funny to compare them. But I wanted to recommend On Writing by Stephen King, this is kind of for writers. But I also think anyone working on any type of creative project that involves writing, you don’t have to be writing a novel for this to be beneficial, in my opinion. Obviously, if you are wanting to become a writer, though, this is exactly the book you would want. But I talked a little bit about on writing in Episode 41 when I talked about how I finished my first novel this year, because I listen to this as I was trying to get past my fear and my, I don’t know, I guess self-hate to actually write it. And I just really, I listened to it and I really loved listening. Stephen King narrates his own book. And I just loved hearing from him. He’s a very, like, funny, no-nonsense type guy. I don’t know him in real life, but this is just how he comes across in the book. And…
Elsie: You don’t know him in real life? (laughs).
Emma: No, not yet. I’m hoping he hears this podcast is like “she sounds great”. No. (laughs)
Elsie: I have a lot of fantasy best friends. Is he in your fantasy best friends category?
Emma: If I saw him out, I could not say hi.I’m too big of a fan. I couldn’t do it. I would be like, no, I’m not cool, enough to say hi to Stephen King. I can’t do it. But but from afar I can be like, love it. Loved your book. You were super helpful. Thank you. But, so I talked about this a little bit already. If you heard Episode 41, he describes writing a fictional story like uncovering a fossil, which I think is so similar to what Elizabeth Gilbert is getting at with her idea of how the story is like a little pet that comes to you.
Emma: Because it’s very much like this thing already exists outside of you. You are just caring for it and bringing it into the world. You are just uncovering the fossil. And it’s — that makes so much sense to me because I had…
Elsie: It’s very romantic to think about a fiction story that way.
Emma: Right. Well and I just know a lot of people listening are probably very creative people like we are. And so they have various creative projects in their lives. And I feel like most people who’ve worked a lot on something, whatever it is, writing, painting, pottery or whatever your thing is, you know, you’ve have these moments where you feel like you’re tapping into something and that’s when you, like, know you’re getting it right. I don’t know how else, you know, like I think Elizabeth Gilbert and Stephen King have described it much better…
Elsie: It clicks into place. Yeah.
Emma: Yes. And for me, that is the most spiritual experience I ever have in my life, because I feel like that for me is when I’m, like, connected with the universe. So for me, creativity is kind of a opportunity to connect with something beyond myself. That’s what I kind of think about. And it’s so funny because…
Elsie: Wow that’s beautiful! I love that.
Emma: (laughs) Well, it’s a weird — you would think, oh, well, you’re writing a fictional story, so you’re making it up. And it’s really all about your ideas and your observations. And yeah, it is. But it can be so much more whenever you kind of hold it loosely in your hands and allow yourself to uncover the fossil as Stephen King would say. And I just find that to be the most…that’s what I love about creativity. It’s that’s what I, like, find infinitely thrilling about making stuff. So often I feel like people ask, like, why you guys make so much stuff. Like what? Why why do you have this career? Like making crafts and you’re always doing weird, weird projects that sometimes don’t even make any sense and don’t even make money. And don’t mean anything.
Elsie: Yeah, we’ve had many, many people in our lives, friends and business advisors and things like that, basically say “you should do less.” And we say, “nah”.
Emma: Yeah. And I mean, it’s I get it. I get the advice. And I think there is a time when you have to think about business, you have to pay bills. I’m a real person. I get that. I’m not crazy, you know, like I don’t have a trust fund. But also for me, creativity is about that tapping into the universe and being a part of it. And then we’re all a part of it. And I just I love it. It’s the — some of the happiest moments in my life when I feel like I have done that. I’ve had the moment of that. And so anyway, so I really understood when Stephen King described it this way, and I think Elizabeth Gilbert kind of does the same thing in Big Magic. So I feel like it’s a thing, confirmed. Anyway. That’s my second book. What’s your third book?
Elsie: I, I can’t wait to read that one. It’s in my queue. And I’m really looking forward to it. I love books about creativity and writing.
Emma: It’s fun. He also has a very…the end of the book. I hate to spoil it, but it’s also been out so long that I feel like you may know this about Stephen King…
Elsie: Just do it Emma, that’s what we’re doing. A book report.
Emma: We are spoiling books. So he has a moment where he’s in an accident. He gets hit by a drunk driver…
Emma: And yeah. He’s in the hospital, obviously. He survives. He’s still alive today. But, you know, he has this time where he has to recover and do physical therapy and lots of things like that. And he’s still writing this book on writing. And he just talks about how the process of that really helped him heal because it kind of gives you something to do and creates this routine in your life and gives you purpose. And, you know, just all the things that having, you know, important work does in your life. And I really identify with that, too. The idea that important work, you know, work that you value can help us heal and can help us be our best selves.
Elsie: Absolutely. A different story for a different day, but I read Martha Stewart’s book that she wrote from prison and…
Elsie: Yeah. And it’s a business book, I think. I think it’s called The Martha Rules. Do remember that?
Emma: Yes. I haven’t read it. Now I want to revisit it because I’m like that is so such a fun perspective. So interesting. Yeah.
Elsie: My third book is The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander. So you know that I love Hygge books. I think I’ve mentioned this probably like 15 times in previous episodes. I will link in the show notes the three Hygge books I read last year, and I also did a blog post about it. It was a very, very life-changing, like life-changing in a soft, cozy, easygoing way, like the kind of little micro-changes that you really need. But you kind of need someone to explain to you why you need it, if that makes sense. That’s what Hygge has done for me. It’s small stuff, but it’s been very impactful. So when I saw there was a book, and I will confess, I haven’t read a lot of parenting books. I’m definitely an instinct-based parent. I believe very much, very strongly that your instincts will tell you what’s right. Ninety-nine percent the time. But my husband I are in a challenging time in parenting right now because we are homeschooling our kids by necessity because of a coronavirus outbreak in our area. And we don’t know how long it’s going to last. It’s not something that we always dreamed of doing. It’s something we’re doing because we need to. And so I thought now is a good time for me to read parenting book and get a little bit pumped up and learn some things just to try to, cause that’s something that helps me move forward, is just staying motivated and learning. So. Alright. I’ve written down a few my takeaways from the book. It’s every bit as wonderful as the Hygge book, The Danish Way of Parenting. OK. So this is reinforcing something that I feel like I learned from my childhood and kind of just like putting a thumbs up by it is to create a sensory-rich environment and then let your children, like, basically give your kids all these art supplies, but let them make the art they want to make, not doing all these micromanaged Pinterest projects. And I. Okay. I love a micromanaged Pinterest project, by the way. I do those as well. But I think that having this free time, this is what my mom taught us. She really didn’t tell us what to make. She really didn’t give us projects to do.
Emma: She didn’t even have Pinterest!
Elsie: (laughs) Right. She just gave us supplies and she just said, do whatever you feel like she would literally say a sentence like do whatever you feel. And we would start doing it. And she would tell us, I like that idea. Keep going. Keep exploring it. And so I do think that there’s something extremely valuable in that level of, or that type of an open-ended project. So that’s something that I really want to bring into my parenting. And always remember to keep in every day of parenting is, are these open-ended playtimes and art times where I’m not telling them what to do or how to do it. Another big thing I learned from the book is how to create a growth mindset in children instead of a fixed mindset. This is something I had never learned about before. It was totally new information for me. So learning how it’s maybe not the best or most helpful thing for my kids that I, I am a complete over-complimentor. They’re saying in this book to praise your kids for effort not intelligence. Answer them honestly when they ask you questions. Teach them to answer honestly and read stories that don’t always have a happy ending or don’t always have an easy topic. Things like that. And I’m definitely the kind of parent who would walk into the room, be like, “you’re the best artist, you’re the smartest kid,” you know. (laughs) And I’ve learned from this book that those kind of compliments aren’t as helpful as saying I really like how you, how you don’t stop trying. I really like how you’re trying something new today that you didn’t try yesterday. So I’m practicing more things like that. And that feels really helpful. It feels instantly like a hopeful shift. Small thing, but I can tell it’s going to make a big difference over time. And then something that’s helping me for my children, but also for myself as an adult, is just practicing, reframing tricky situations from an optimistic perspective and not in a false way. That’s sort of like, you know, “good vibes only” not in a false way that denies that the very, very challenging year that we’re having, like Emma and I are both having a far more challenging shittier year than we even tell you on this podcast, like it is, it’s a hard year and we know it’s a difficult year for so many people. That said, so for me, my big reframing for the week and it was definitely inspired by this book, is instead of saying I’m not cut out to home school or I never wanted to homeschool or I’m not good at homeschooling, for me to say “I have a chance to try something I never would have tried. I have a chance to practice something for a short amount of time that could be fun.” And reframing a difficult situation into a really kind of fun opportunity. And it really is working. It really is changing the way that I’m looking at our current, you know, next few months ahead of us and seeing it as an opportunity to bond with my kids and do things that are really fun. I’m sorry if that made me sound like…it is a hard year, though. I’m not going to pretend like it’s not. It’s been really really…
Emma: It’s okay if you don’t want to homeschool.
Emma: It’s OK.
Emma: It’s OK. Not everyone wants to do it. It’s OK. You’re doing your best. That’s all you need to do. You’re doing great.
Emma: It’s OK if you don’t want to do it. Thank you.
Elsie: I admire people who homeschool so much. And even as a child, I begged my mom that I wanted to be homeschooled. I always thought it was something that I…
Emma: She was like, no, get out of here. (laughs)
Elsie: Right. She said, no. (laughs) I always thought it would be something that I probably wanted to do. And then when I became a parent, I realized that there’s so much value for me in having my career and them having teachers and friends. And so it never has been something where I dreamed of homeschooling since I’ve been a parent. But I’m doing it now. There are some really big silver linings, even though it is not something that we will probably do permanently anyway. So I know that reframing is something that might sound sort of like small and petty, but I think that it is really powerful and a key to happiness and contentment. And I can see it basically instantly that it’s changing the way I’m seeing my role as a parent, my day, my schedule, the challenges that I need to face right now. So anyway, definitely recommend the Danish Way of Parenting. It also has a lot to say about if you’re someone who wants to learn more about disciplining, spanking, things like that has a lot to say about that. Better practices that could be better than that. Yeah. So I highly recommend it.
Emma: I love that. Yeah. Doesn’t sound small and petty at all to me. Definitely sounds powerful.
Elsie: It. Yeah. When I first started reading it I was like, OK, that’s a small little micro change. But when I started actually doing it throughout the day, it’s kind of amazing.
Emma: I think small changes are what, you know, what makes it happen. It’s all, you know, small things. I also really do believe in the power of, like you’re calling it, reframing, which I think is a great way to say it. But just putting the power back in your court and changing how you view something. I really feel like most of personal development books, generally, whatever topic, are kind of about mindset. They’re kind of about you recognizing that basically we can’t control so many things in the world. I can’t control if it’s going to rain today. Right? Like who knows. I can’t control it, but I can’t control how I react to if it rains. I can, you know, do things that I couldn’t have done because now I have rain or I could just sit and be like, bummer, it’s raining. I can’t do something now. And one is full of action. And full of promise. And one is, you know, kind of a downer. So and I mean, that’s a really like random small example, but I really think life is full of that and that doesn’t mean that you don’t sit in sadness whenever it’s time to grieve something, because that’s part of real life and feelings. But I think reframing things so that you have power, so that you have the ability to work through and make the most of whatever life deals to you, I think is powerful. Very powerful.
Elsie: Yeah. I would definitely say for anyone listening who is a skeptic, just try it for one day and just try to reframe some of your limiting thoughts where you think I’m not good at this. I can’t do this. I don’t like this. Try to reframe it into something that’s an opportunity for you and you’ll just, you’ll understand the magic. It’s magical.
Emma: Mm hmm.
Elsie: What’s your third book?
Emma: My third book is called Holistic Wealth by Keisha Blair.
Elsie: Oh, OK. So I love the title.
Emma: Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, we had to bring up some kind of personal finance book. But here’s the deal, this is about financial independence. And it’s also about so much more as you could probably guessed by the title. So one Keisha starts off with, she has a really powerful and heartbreaking story. When she was in her early 30s, her husband died very unexpectedly. He had a rare form of, I believe, cancer. So he died very suddenly, very unexpectedly. And she had two very young children. I think her youngest had, like, just been born six months before or something. So she was widowed very unexpectedly. She was very young and she had two young children. And as you can imagine, this tragedy in her life really put things in perspective for her. And the book’s about so many things. It’s about personal finance, eating well, relationships. I mean, wealth isn’t just about money. It’s about so many things. Right. And she touches on a lot of that. But I also just keep thinking, like I’m reading her book this year. But it’s — I read it this year, but it came out a while ago. But I just feel like 2020, I feel like people could probably identify with her story of, like a sudden tragedy. Obviously, her story is her story, but 2020 has been a surprise for a lot of people in a lot of different ways. And I think you can use it as an opportunity to let it inform your perspective on what a wealthy life is and means, you know? And I think she does just that. And then she goes through her book, sharing how you can do it, too. And it’s just really an interesting book. It’s very heady. It’s — I don’t know if you’re kind of like I don’t like personal finance books because they can be so only about money or only about investment — investing or, you know, whatever and I’m like oh, well read this then, because it’s about a lot of things. Many aspects of life. Yes. Also personal finance. But just lots and lots of things.
Elsie: I’m adding it to my queue right now.
Emma: Yeah. This one actually read instead of listened to so. Yeah. But anyway, Keisha Blair, she’s rad. It’s a really interesting book and I think it would be a great one if you’ve kind of shied away from personal finance in the past because you feel like it’s too much about money. Or maybe it’s an intimidating topic for you for various reasons. This is a great one. But as you know, we also love Ramit. There’s lots of great options out there. But this I really enjoyed this book. I really connected with it. She quotes lots of different philosophers. So I feel like that was probably something that connected with me, too, because I love philosophy. That was my major in college. So, yes, it’s a really fun book.
Elsie: Nice. I can’t wait to. I can’t wait to listen that because. Yeah, one of the things I love when Ramit talks about is the money dials in your brain, like the things you’re raised — like the education you’re raised with, with money that you need to adjust over time. I think that that’s such a great thing to develop as an adult and work on. So. Sounds like that would be a great book for that.
Emma: Yeah, it’s very fun. It’s very interesting.
Elsie: Oh, I can’t wait to read it. I have a couple shout outs.
Emma: Yeah. Shout outs. Honorable mentions — because we only did three books and…
Emma: We just still want to just throw a few more in that we’ve read.
Elsie: Yes. Yeah. We always have to throw a few more in. So right before I moved, I listened to Work Optional by Tanja Hester. I heard about this book actually, she’s interviewed on Young House Love Has a Podcast on Sherri’s podcast. And so I heard about her there and then listened to her book. It is somewhat similar to Ramit’s book. So if you have read his book and you enjoyed it, there’s a lot of the same types of attitudes about money where it’s very empowering, but it goes into a lot more detail specifically about index fund investing and creating a path to becoming either being able to retire early or being able to be financially independent, where you only have to work if you want to. So that’s what the book is about specifically. And it goes into great detail about that. It’s a little bit more of a penny pincher book than I like for my own personal taste, but not too extreme. And I loved the author. Her speaking voice, her writing style. All that was an A+. And I learned a lot from her specifically about investing. So I definitely recommend it. And the other thing I wanted to mention, so I mentioned, I think on a guilty pleasure treasure recently Open Book by Jessica Simpson, which is definitely a memoir. This is, we’re past the part of talking about self-help. Now, it’s definitely just a story of her life. Very, very fun read. I listened to it. She reads it herself. Highly recommend. But I want to also recommend, so when we were driving to Missouri a few weeks back to visit family, we listened to a Deep Dive podcast. It’s called You’re Wrong About Podcast. And they did, I think three episodes about Open Book where they pretty much just went through the book. So instead of reading the book, you can listen to this podcast where they kind of tell you about the book and dialogue back and forth about it. It’s very fun. It’s almost equally as fun as listening to the book itself. So I wanted to mention that and also —
Emma: Would you need to listen to the book first in order to, like, be able to follow along?
Elsie: Definitely not. I did. I had read it and I was like, Jeremy was like, do you wanna listen to this, Jessica? These Jessica Simpson episodes? And I was like, hell, yes. Because I can never get enough. But he hadn’t listened to it at all. And now he has, like, I think, a proper appreciation for Jessica Simpson from this podcast. So he loves the podcast because they did a deep dive about satanic panic, which is this kind of crazy phenomenon from the 90s where a lot of people were wrongfully put in prison. It’s tragic. It’s really, really an interesting story. So they do a lot of episodes about that. And then we also listen to an episode about Courtney Love, which was great. So, yeah, I definitely recommend that podcast. What are your shout outs?
Emma: I just had one I wanted to recommend. It’s also kind of a memoir, but it has other things in it too. But it’s Woman of Color by LaTonya Yvette. And if you don’t know LaTonya, she has an amazing blog. And again, all this stuff’s in the show notes. Oh, she is already a wonderful writer. I really enjoy her blog. Yes. So you’ll love her book if you, well, you have it. So she is an amazing writer. I really wanted to put that out there. She is. This book is very personal. She tells the story of her life as a Black woman in America. Her family growing up, she’s from New York City. She still lives in New York City. Being a parent, lots you know, think she’s gone through and her writing is just really, really beautiful. It’s very poetic. It’s really enjoyable. Also, the photography is really beautiful in this book. And she also has, like throughout the book, little bits of like styling advice or kind of editing down your closet. And then she also has lots of interviews of other women of color who are designers, business owners, artists, lots of different types of really rad women. So it’s a really eclectic book, really fun to read. Also just really beautiful. So after you’ve finished reading it, it would make a great coffee table book because it’s truly just so pretty. And I haven’t really come across a book that I was like, oh, this is amazing writing and kind of a coffee table book level of like beauty and interesting images and all that. So highly recommend. Woman of Color. Check it out.
Elsie: Yeah. It’s a beautiful book. So we will link to all of these in the show notes. And we would love to hear your recommendations for what books we should be adding to our queue because we’re both kind of in a self… what do you call it? What you call this kind of book? Personal growth?
Emma: Personal development.
Elsie: Personal development. OK. We’re definitely interested in more books like this for sure. I love to hear it.
Emma: Yeah, we’re in it to win it. Lifelong learning.
I don’t really enjoy journaling, so I just finished White Fragility as my intro to similar work as Me and White Supremacy. I really recommend that one too, so informative and well written. Also recently finished Skin Cleanse from the last round of recommendations. Love love these episodes, keep them coming!
I loved the openness from Elsie on educating her daughters at home.
The struggle is real.
I wanted to know if the thought of what I have heard of recently, of “teaching pods” or “education pods” is something to consider for this year and the circumstances….?
I don’t know much on it, but I briefly heard about it.
I just finished reading Big Magic based on your rec and have already written 2/3 of a personal essay I have been thinking about for months! It’s also encouraged me to finish the manuscript I have been contracted to turn in to the publisher that’s been overdue for ages, haha. It really scares you in a good way! Last summer after my dad died I badly needed pleasant distractions and picked up Gilbert’s “City of Girls” on a whim. It was exactly what I needed and I am so, so grateful to Gilbert for helping me through those difficult weeks. I think you gals would like it too <3.
OMG! This makes my day. Hooray!
Your link for LaTonya’s book is broken!
Thanks for letting us know! Which browser are you using? It worked for me when I tried it in Chrome and Safari.
Big Magic was SO impactful for me! It helped me realize that while my job is creative (architect), I was inadvertently treating ‘hobby’ creativity as something not worthy of my time, even though there are so many things I love doing besides architecture (scrapbooking, sewing, writing). I’d put architecture on this pedestal of ‘worthwhile’ creativity, when in reality it can be incredibly draining, because it’s still work! Working on something that can be completed in a day, or a week, vs my work projects that take years – it was so refreshing, and made it so clear to me that I have time and space for creative pursuits big and small.
Sometimes I think Emma and I are the same person. I am also writing my first novel and second the recommendations for Untamed and On Writing. For a good fiction novel, Where The Crawdads Sing was the best book I’ve read in a really long time- I was about ready to write a thesis about it by the time I was done reading, ha. So many layers and the way the author uses language is gorgeous.
Also, I can vouch for reframing being a very powerful tool to live a life with less fear. After five years of pregnancy losses and refusing to entertain IVF due to fear of needles, I decided to start thinking about IVF as something I get to do instead of something I have to do. I’m a good candidate for it, we can pay for it without it destroying our future and what better time to do IVF than when you can’t see other people whose heads you might tear off in a hormone-induced rage? A few months of reframing in this way has significantly reduced my fear of the injections and retrieval. It’s a kind of magic.
Your conversation about Elizabeth Gilbert and Stephen King immediately reminded me of a Michelangelo quote I like to share with my creative writing students on the first day of class: “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.” Thanks for another great episode!
Love your podcast and blog! Elsie, you mentioned the parenting book talking about growth and fixed mindsets. This book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (by Dr. Dweck), goes in detail about those differences, I highly recommend it!
Thank you Mia!!!