Recent Reads: This Fragile Life

One of the books that I read recently was Charlotte Pierce-Baker’s memoir This Fragile Life: A Mother’s Story of a Bipolar Son Recent Reads: This Fragile Life. It’s a wonderful, touching story of what it’s like to be the parent of a young adult diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It wrenches at the heart without being self-pitying, informs without being focused on an educative aim.

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The story has an interesting perspective because Pierce-Baker and her husband are married, affluent, educated African American parents without a knowledge of mental health issues in their family. It addresses the difficulty of seeing her son arrested for drug issues (due to self-medicating the bipolar), the benefits of having money to help with his mental health problems (and the limitations of that) and the hard experience of learning how to help her adult child and when and how to set boundaries.

Her son’s poetry is woven throughout the book. It’s beautiful to see her use his words to share his story in both his voice and hers.

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Shining Affliction, Unsayable, Annie Rogers and Lacan

One of the book assigned for my Clinical Relationship class this semester was The Unsayable: The Hidden Language of Trauma Shining Affliction, Unsayable, Annie Rogers and Lacan by Annie Rogers, PhD. I fell in love with the book, reading it in one day and then reading a big chunk of it for a second time. After that I went back and checked out Rogers’ first book A Shining Affliction: A Story of Harm and Healing in Psychotherapy Shining Affliction, Unsayable, Annie Rogers and Lacan.

About Annie Rogers

Annie Rogers is a psychotherapist who shares case studies of some of her work with us in each of these books. She also has her own history of mental illness, including hallucinations and hospitalizations. A major focus area of her work has been studying French psychoanalyst Lacan and applying her interpretations of his theory to her work. She is inspiring in her work and it was fascinating to read each of her books for different reasons.

A Shining Affliction

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This first book is a book of two different stories.

The first is the story of one of her earliest patients, a young boy that she worked with during her practicum year. His is a devastating story of neglect and abuse and the acting out that occurred as he tried to cope with the world around him. It’s also a powerful story of transformative healing through the therapeutic relationship. His story reminded me of so many of the kids I worked with in my group home work and her work with him is inspiring.

But her work is imperfect. And for a time she has to take a break from him. That’s because this book is also her story – her story of her own breakdown, triggered by her work with young clients and complicated by a negative relationship with her own therapist. We see her work with another therapist as well as some psychology mentors and heal.

These are human stories and so they are stories without endings, without perfect resolutions. But they are powerful. And it’s inspiring to have read this book after reading The Unsayable because I was already familiar with how inspiring Rogers’ work went on to become and it was even more inspiring after realizing the difficulties she surmounted to get there.


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March Meals (Recent Eats and Drinks)

Some of the things I most loved consuming and imbibing in March.


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Fruit and omelette at Sweet Maple, breakfast sammie and hashbrowns and Little Griddle, yogurt and fixings for oatmeal at home, Chia Pod “yogurt” which I’ve got mixed feelings about and French Toast at Curbside Cafe (which actually wasn’t mine, I got two eggs and bacon which was good but not as pretty for pictures)


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Recent Eats: February’s Favorite Snacks, Meals and Beverages

Here are some of my favorite things I imbibed and ingested in February, some at home and others at San Francisco restaurants.


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IMG 3040 764x1024 Recent Eats: Februarys Favorite Snacks, Meals and BeveragesI’ve been on a bacon kick here at home but I also still eat healthier oatmeal and fruit on a lot of days. The other two pictures are from Stable Cafe; mine was the egg, bacon, cheese wrap and the other is the Nona (eggs, tomato, cheese, toast and ham).

Lunches/ Dinners

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The Reason Why I Jump

I recently read this special book that is a teen’s educational memoir about what it’s like to live with autism.

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 The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism The Reason Why I Jump was written by Naoki Higashida. He’s a Japanese writer who worked with a teacher using a system of pointing out what he wanted to say on alphabet cards, answering questions about what it is like to be inside the body of autism.

The book has been translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell and an introduction has been added by David Mitchell. They have an autistic child and explain how reading this book finally helped them to understand a lot about their child and gain more patience, compassion and communication with their kid.

The book is mostly Q&A format. The teen author highlights that this is just his personal experience and that he can’t say for sure what it is like for anyone else to be autistic. But he explains a lot about his experience in a way that might answer questions for others wondering what an autistic child is thinking or why they behave the way that they do.

For example, he addresses the question: “why do you ask the same questions over and over?” He explains that whereas other people seem to have their information stored in chronological order or clear files in their brain, his memory is more like a pool with dots of information. He says, “I’m always picking up these dots – by asking my questions – so I can arrive back at the memory that the dots represent.” And he goes on to explain that repeatedly asking the same question also offers the benefit of allowing him to play with spoken language because words or phrases he’s familiar with are easiest for him for conversations.

In  addition to the Q&A there are some short stories/ essays integrated into the writing. It’s a quick read and one that I found really powerful. It helps remind me that people experience every single thing differently from others – not just autistic people but all people. We don’t all remember the same, perceive the same, experience the same. It makes me want to be more curious about what others are experiencing and why they do what they do, rather than sitting in my experience and judging what’s happening from the outside.

I shared this (and other books I read) on Instagram. Follow me there.

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Coffee Pot Cooking

I was excited to see that Huffington Post had linked to an article of mine recently. They did a slideshow of Coffee Pot Cooking ideas in which they linked to my article on HubPages, written quite a long time ago but still popular there, of 12 Foods That You Can Cook in a Coffee Pot.

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They specifically highlighted my info on how to make instant ramen noodles in a coffee pot. I shared:

“Basically you put the noodles into the coffee pot itself, you put the spice in the filter where your coffee is supposed to go and you run the water through the machine just as if you were making a pot of coffee. Let the noodles sit long enough to become soft and you’ve got Ramen noodle soup that is no different than if you made it on a stovetop or in a microwave.”

In my article I also talk about how you can use a coffee pot to cook other broth-based soups, oatmeal and grits, vegetables including broccoli, poached chicken and fish, couscous and rice, pasta, beans, eggs and chocolate sauce.

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The Huffington Post slideshow includes some of these (and not others) and adds info on using your coffee pot to make hard boiled eggs, lemon pepper chicken and chicken pesto pasta, a grilled cheese sandwich, quesadillas,  and corn on the cob.

Did you know your coffee pot was so versatile?! Of course this isn’t going to work for all of those trendy coffee people who have given up the old-fashioned coffee pot in favor of French Presses, Keurigs, etc.

Have you ever cooked anything in your coffee pot?

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Four Related Practices in Lovingkindness

I’ve been inspired by the daily lovingkindness practice emails I’ve been getting since I joined the 100 days of lovingkindness from Wildmind. It’s a daily email with tips, thoughts, reminders, inspiration, etc. There’s also a related G+ community group.

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The 100 days started about two weeks ago. It happens in four sections of 25 days each so we’re about two weeks into the first section.

As described in their first email:

We’ll explore four traditional, related practices called “the immeasurables” or “divine abodes” (Brahma-viharas) for 25 days each. These are:

  • Lovingkindness (metta): a basic attitude of wanting beings (ourselves included) to be happy.
  • Compassion (karuna): the desire that beings be free of suffering, so that they can be happy.
  • Joyful appreciation (mudita): the desire that beings develop the skillful qualities that lead to the experience of joy and peace.
  • Loving with wisdom (upekkha): the desire that beings develop the qualities of insight that lead to permanent peace and joy.

Some of these descriptions may sound rather different from what you’re used to, but we’ll cross those conceptual bridges when we come to them.

Right now I’m working with Lovingkindness in particular as it relates to self-compassion.

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Recent Eats and Drinks

Recently enjoyed food and drinks, mostly from San Francisco restaurants:

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Okay, actually I’m cheating on this one because all I had at Caffe Dolci was a coffee and I took a picture of this gelato cupcake because it looked amazing.

Lunches and Dinners

The first few are from a place in the mall in Japantown. You order meat and veg that you cook yourself at the table on a built-in grill. And I got a sake cocktail with fresh grapefruit juice, which you juice yourself at the table:
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