Celebrating Women

Women’s History Month is upon us so here are some books by women and about women to make life better and more inspiring and hopeful. I shared them on Good Day Alabama on WBRC Fox 6 this month..

Emily Post’s Etiquette

Updated by Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning

There’s a lot of incivility in our culture right now, so Emily Post’s guide to good manners, first published in 1922, seems timelier than ever. It also was recently updated for the 21st century, so it’s more relevant than ever, too. The book has been refreshed through the decades, but the Centennial Edition out last October is a comprehensive update. Lizzie Post, and her cousin and co-author, Daniel Post Senning, have taken on issues far more crucial than table settings, what to wear to an evening wedding, thank-you notes, and basic courtesies like gifting and RSVPs (although those are important!). They address embracing without permission, flaunting privilege and being a bad listener. They write about tech etiquette including video meetings, parties and classes, and how to politely handle devices, home security, and AI. They take on tipping in our era of ridesharing and tough times and prompting payment screens. They even address subjects like grieving a miscarriage, which would not have been talked about at all during Emily’s era.

They’ve done the update in part by crowdsourcing, including ideas from callers to their Awesome Etiquette podcast. With our specific time in mind, the new version encourages patience and humility when talking about difficult subjects, advocates losing gracefully and avoiding the word “but” in any apology.

“I think mostly that it’s really easy to paint etiquette and manners as tools for elitism, tools for secrecy, tools for exclusion,” said Lizzie Post, Emily’s great-great-granddaughter, “and when they are used that way, and they definitely can be, they are effectively useless. But when we’re using etiquette and manners as a tool for self-reflection and awareness of others, I think we’re really going to have a chance to make the world a nicer place.”

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful:  A New Story About Anxiety

By Sarah Wilson

First, a few words about the title. There’s a Chinese proverb that says that before you can conquer a beast, you must first make it beautiful. The author came upon this proverb while reading psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison’s memoir, An Unquiet Mind. And it became a way for her to understand her own lifelong struggle with anxiety. Wilson, an author, journalist, and entrepreneur, helped millions all over the world live healthier lives with her I Quit Sugar books. But while she was helping others, she was also managing her chronic anxiety. This book focuses on anxiety in a way that disputes that this disease needs to be medicated into submission. Rather, we can learn to approach anxiety as a spiritual quest, not an affliction. Working as a journalist, Wilson interviewed fellow sufferers, mental health experts, philosophers, and even the Dalai Lama, and she applied what she learned about treatments and triggers to her own experiences. The result:  a humorous, readable, comforting book with practical tips for every day.

She encourages readers to:

  • Cultivate a “gratitude ritual” because it’s hard to be grateful and anxious at the same time.
  • Eat to curb anxiety. Real food, she says, is your best friend.
  • Just breathe. Focusing on your breath does wonders. There is real healing power in meditation.
  • Make your bed. It’s simple, yes, but simple outer order creates inner calm.
  • Study fellow fretters and learn from them. Emily Dickinson, Charles Darwin, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. all struggled with anxiety.
  • Actively practice missing out. This is the opposite of FOMO. Get comfortable with just being with yourself.

This little book will encourage those who are anxious (and who isn’t from time to time?) to embrace anxiety as a part of who they are, and to explore the possibilities it offers for a richer, fuller life.

Extraordinary Women in History:  70 Remarkable Women Who Made a Difference, Inspired & Broke Barriers

By Leah Gail

Here’s some inspiration for all ages. This book is an empowering celebration of influential and unstoppable women throughout history—some you will already know and others you’ll, no doubt, learn about here. All helped shape history in one way or another. These are real-life stories of 70 heroic females. The stories are short but big on impact and they seek to inspire and empower women of all backgrounds to dream big and break barriers by sharing the amazing achievements of truly unstoppable female heroes. There are pioneering innovators, radical reformers, leaders, writers, artists, veterans and more—all trailblazers, all breaking barriers.

They include:

  • Junko Tabei, the first female to reach the summit of Mount Everest
  • Lily Parr, the English star of women’s football
  • Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first licensed African American Nurse
  • Marie Curie, the pioneer of radioactivity
  • Harriet Tubman, an anti-slavery icon
  • Empress Suiko, the first female regnant in Japan’s recorded history
  • Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar
  • Irena Sendler, who rescued 2,500 Jewish children in World War II
  • Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, the most travelled woman of the Middle Ages

Whether you’re a history fan, an educator or just want to inspire a young person you love, this book, an inspiring testament to the power of dedication, courage, hard work and tenacity, is a great way to do that.

I link to Amazon to show you exactly what book I’m talking about, but I love to shop locally at Church Street Coffee and BooksThe Alabama Booksmith, Little Professor Book Center, and Thank You Books in Crestwood. And I visit my local library often in person and online!

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