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Health Living Reading Challenge – April 2016

Healthy Living Reading Challenge - April 2016 | Inner Savvy Wellness
How are you doing on reading on the Healthy Living Reading Challenge?

April has been a good month. I moving on toward my final practical for my FDN training.  My son and I finished up his junior year of high school. We are so ready for summer.  I still found time for reading.

For the Healthy Living Reading Challenge I chose the book, When Breath Becomes Air by the late Paul Kalanithi

I normally don’t read books that are popular unless I read it before it became popular.  However, a New York Times Best Seller was on my list for this year’s challenge.  I was at the library and saw this and knew immediately this would be the book for this month.

I can’t praise this book enough.  Paul has a beautiful writing style.  He was first interested in and studied literature before he went to med school to become a neurosurgeon.  He was always on a quest to understand death. He goes into his young life and then what it was like to be a med student and resident in neuroscience. He then is diagnosed with lung cancer. I love how he describes his feelings and what it is like.

I can’t ruin this book for you, so I won’t be saying much more.  It truly was a gift to read. Maybe it was because I just watched my aunt go through her battle of pancreatic cancer with such faith and peace, that this book hit home for me.  But I believe anyone will enjoy it because we all have watched others die and face our own mortality.

A few beautiful quotes from When Breath Becomes Air:

“don’t think I ever spent a minute of any day wondering why I did this work, or whether it was worth it. The call to protect life—and not merely life but another’s identity; it is perhaps not too much to say another’s soul—was obvious in its sacredness.”

“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”

“The tricky part of illness is that, as you go through it, your values are constantly changing. You try to figure out what matters to you, and then you keep figuring it out. It felt like someone had taken away my credit card and I was having to learn how to budget. You may decide you want to spend your time working as a neurosurgeon, but two months later, you may feel differently. Two months after that, you may want to learn to play the saxophone or devote yourself to the church. Death may be a one-time event, but living with terminal illness is a process.”

This is a small, 228 page book.  I can’t recommend it enough.  Make sure you bring tissues.

This month my local healthy living book club read Alignment Matters: The First Five Years of Katy Says by Katy Bowman, M.S.  The member that chose this book teaches yoga.  I was happy to read it since I am dealing with my own posture challenges.

The book was a little hard to read.  Katy took blog posts she wrote from 2007 through 2011 and organized them according to topic.  The posts weren’t re-written. Something things were repeated, somethings weren’t applicable any longer, and some links were no longer valid. The repetition was the most difficult to me. Repetition is ok if you are reading over something over the course of 5 years, but when you read it within a couple of weeks, it makes it a little hard to read.

With that being said, I truly enjoyed the content of this book.  I learned that heels, no matter how hard are not good for your posture, your bones or your pelvic floor.  Did you know that?

I am trying to decide if I want to purchase My Happy Feet in order to have a gentle stretching motion of toe abduction.  Have you tried My Happy Feet?

There were several stretches to try to improve posture or flexibility.  My favorite was the Number 4 Stretch.  Page 69-70.  “Cross your right ankle over your left knee. Keep both cheeks on the seat and try to move your pelvis from a tucked position to an untucked position.” I definitely felt the stretch.

I found that I have very little range of motion in my shoulder. I knew that since I have had to do PT for frozen shoulder.  However, my favorite exercise was on page 287.  “Start from a standing position and then climb down to the ground, ending up face down.  Climb back up to a standing position and climb back down ending with your face up.  Repeat this cycle five to ten times.  It’s more fatiguing than you think?” This is a whole body exercise.  If you did this every day, can you imagine how your body would change?  I am trying to decide if I want to do this instead of my 5 push-ups after I go to the bathroom.  What do you think?

Overall I am glad I read this book for the tips I did pick up. If you decide to read it, just know that it isn’t a smooth read.  It isn’t a story, just a loose compilation of blog posts. If you are interested in learning more check out Katy’s 6 Posts Everyone Must Read.  

What are you reading now? Recommend it or not?

Linking up to:
Literary Musing’s Monday
Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural


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  1. Fun reviews! I hadn’t heard of the Breath Becomes Air and it sounds like a really amazing (if not “fun”) read…

    I really loved Katy’s Bowman’s “Whole Body Barefoot” — I bought toe separate socks and a gel separate after reading it. I’d recommend the gel toe separator over the toe socks, because you can double-up the wedges of the gel ones to stretch specific toes more deeply, and it would be hard to do that with the toe socks… but the toe separator socks might be a good place to start. 🙂

    Found you via Literacy Musings Monday!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks, Sarah, I still haven’t purchased either because I just couldn’t decide which to do. Ok, one vote for the gel toe separators. Thanks for coming over from Literacy Musings Monday

  2. Sarah says:

    Thank you for calling attention to books about physical health. I never think to read up on this subject, and it’s such an important topic. When Breath Becomes Air looks great — sad and affirming at the same time.

  3. I agree that books about healthy living should be on everyone’s list- now if we can only decide what “healthy” really means. I explore that on my blog. I also read and reviewed Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir and recommend it highly. Like you, I didn’t want to spoil it for people. The quote you used is one of my favorites also.

    • Karen says:

      DR. Oglesby, thanks for stopping by. Yes, the word healthy has been hi-jacked by advertisers and marketers. We need to go back to basics and learn to listen to our bodies. Reading is a great way to explore healthy concepts to try when they feel right to you, paying attention to how you feel when you do them. Here’s to real health.

  4. Leslie says:

    Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup. I recently read a great book about a doctor facing death titled Called for Life by Kent Brantley. It’s the story of one of the American doctors who contracted and recovered from Ebola.

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