One of my dear friends gave me a framed poster from the Syracuse Cultural Workers organization to hang in my new apartment: Make Art, Not War. I adore it. During these times when our country is so divided, when the battles in Washington (which have always been there, by the way) have spilled out onto our streets and into our neighborhoods and homes, this simple thought and its visual clarity cheer me up every time I look at it.
When was the last time you quieted the noise in your life and gave your mind over to a creative project? For me, the simple act of reading or writing can put my mind in a positive place. For others it might be painting, photography, knitting, sports, cooking (like my mom), or puzzles (like my sister). When you focus on something that gives you joy, it’s amazing how fast the anger and negativity falls away.
This month, I wrote a one-act play, celebrated the publication of one of my short stories, and embarked upon a new self-study plan to revive my flagging Italian language skills. All these things helped me unwind and destress. With the virus continuing to spread, no end in sight to social distancing, and economic pressures mounting on average Americans just in time for the holidays, I implore everyone to Find Your Beach (as the brilliant Corona ad campaign urges).
With that in mind, I offer a few recommendations from my November…
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an uplifting film based on the popular novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. While this is certainly a movie for booklovers, I think everyone who gives it a shot will enjoy it, booklover or not. Set on the small island of Guernsey in the aftermath of WWII, it’s a story about love, trust, faith, the healing power of books, and the strength that it takes to overcome the greatest losses in our lives.
- Need a laugh? Don’t we all right now? Check out National Public Radio’s “We Did It For the LOLs: 100 Favorite Funny Books.” NPR compiled the list based on a readers’ poll they conducted last year. They received more than 7,000 responses. Take a few minutes to go through the final selections and see how many you’ve read, or how many you want to read to get your desperately needed LOLs. They include books by some of favorite funny people, i.e., David Sedaris, Tina Fey, and the late, great Erma Bombeck.
- Feeling down? Need a therapist? Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb (2019) is an engrossing memoir about the challenges of psychotherapy from a therapist’s point of view. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the upbeat tone, the insightful writing, and the author’s optimistic worldview. I highly recommend it, especially if you’ve been through therapy, are considering it, or you’re just curious about what the person on the other side of the desk is thinking and feeling.