I’m excited to start sharing monthly summaries of things I’ve been reading or listening to. There might not be a book every month (though I would like there to be!) but I’m hoping this blog will encourage me to find interesting articles, Instagram posts or songs to share with you all. I didn’t expect to be publishing this post so far into June, it’s surprising how quickly things start to feel distant…
I did finish a book in the later half of May, so I’ll kick off with that.
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben.
As you can tell from the title, it’s about trees
“What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries from a Secret World”.
I’ve been reading this on and off since November 2019, there were weeks when I didn’t read a single page. Sometimes because of health (both mental and physical), other times because I was drained from my GCSE course or writing awareness posts. I’ve recommended it to a few people already. Even in the first chapter there were facts I used in conversation with someone, only a couple of days after starting the book! I found the variety of ways trees communicate so interesting. Both with each-other (via fungal networks) and when using natural chemicals to repel pests.
It’s made me rethink my reaction to the efforts of companies replacing old trees with new ones. Did you know it’s important to have forests with multiple generations of trees living together? When they grow up shaded by their “parents” trees grow more slowly, making their wood more dense and strong. As well as giving them a chance to establish the communication networks I mentioned a moment ago. I don’t want to give you an entire post on trees so if this sounds interesting, do look the book up for more. It is available in audio book, for anybody who finds those more manageable (a five minute preview can be found if you google it. Helpful to check if you like the sound of the speaker), and is printed in many different languages (the English translation I have was a good read. Jane Billinghurst, the translator, retained an engaging “voice” and plenty of personality).
I was intending to keep these posts reading-based but then song lyrics came to mind and I couldn’t resist. So my next offering is a song. And, if you’ve found this site via my Instagram you’ll recognise it as my current favourite…
Vienna by Billy Joel
Okay, entire albums of Billy Joel. So far I’ve been enjoying The Stranger (1977) and An Innocent Man (1983). I’d barely listened to him until recently, though there were always songs of his I recognised. There are few people reading this who won’t have come across one or two like Uptown Girl and She’s Always a Woman, the latter is actually what lead me to listen to a whole album of his. Anyway, why single out Vienna? The first time I heard it I felt like I’d been caught in the middle of my thoughts and was being spoken to directly. I had started to tune out of the music a bit, thinking I’d go “get something done” even though my body was badly in need of rest. “Slow down, you’re doing fine, you can’t be everything you wanna be before your time,” has to be one of my favourite lines. I mentioned this song in my “Week with M.E.” story posts, saying when you’re chronically ill it feels like “your time” is a lot slower to come around than everybody else’s. I listen to this song a lot. Mostly when I need a reminder that just because I’d like to do more than I have, doesn’t mean I never will or that it all has to be done in a rush.
Thirdly, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Instagram over the past month, so I’ll add some references from that world:
# The Vintage Fashion Challenge
This is a 30 (thirty) day hashtag challenge with daily prompts (as a part of weekly themes) set up by “@ILiveInMyLab”, “@MakeThisLook” and “@TinyAngryCrafts”. They bring together a wide community of people, all engaged in the world of vintage fashion. Some pull out retro inspired looks, others are 100% true vintage and, personally, I fall in the middle, wearing a semi-practical (I say “semi” before anyone mentions the 1950’s ball gown…) mixture.
It’s a wonderful excuse to dress up. Which, this year, was needed by everyone who has been mostly isolating at home. But over the last two years of taking part (this being my third) it’s always had that value for me, since I’m mostly alone at home in more normal times anyway. And, while my parents appreciate the fashion show that is Sakara simply existing, it is nice to share my favourite looks with a wider audience.
Take a scroll through the hashtag if you’re curious!
But, to start you off, here are a few of my personal favourites (I would love to include more but don’t want to make you scroll an entire feed…):
@RubyRouxBijou, with the bonus of a relatable caption:
@EccentricMillenial sharing a daydream I’d also rather be living right now (also I love a good dose of ‘80s-does-’50s)
@ILiveInMyLab dishing out qualified advice on Future Fashion:
This post comes up properly embedded in my drafts but for some reason is only showing up as a link in the published post!
@TheVintageDiabetic sharing her traditional folklore costume from Bulgaria:
@XandraChantal with a dress featuring my absolute favourite shades of green, this one’s a day dream in itself.
@TheRebelCostumer for something doubly vintage!
# ChronicIllnessAndME or #LetsTalkAboutME
Another couple of hashtag challenges, this time focused on M.E. awareness month.
I combined some vintage fashion and disability prompts in the hope of making my account a space to express both my personality and the reality of being sick, without one seeming to erode or hide the validity of the other. Visit my Instagram or read the Summary Blog Post for more info on my contributions. This is a space to share things from others, so here are a few posts which resonated with me. I’m sure there are many I have missed, and others I did read which belong to people with private accounts. So this is just a small taste of the things people have been writing and sharing:
@EmmmaSometimes (a post about Lyme disease for which May is also the awareness month):
@RollingRosie times two (X2) as I couldn’t choose!
This is the tiniest selection of posts, mostly chosen in a very biased “I’m good friends with these people” way, as they were the first to come to mind. I also thought of quite a lot of chronically ill and/or disabled people who create excellent content, but not necessarily in honour of a May awareness month. So this is sure to inspire a post featuring a greater range of chronic illness accounts soon.
More next month?
This post has grown longer than I’d like because there was so much going on in May! Having said that, I’m already thinking about what could find it’s way into June’s summary. I expect I’ll mostly talk about things I’ve enjoyed, but I’ll also include things that aren’t exactly intended for enjoyment. Like some of the awareness posts I put in this month. Engaging in things that make us happy is important, and so are sharing stories and knowledge from people who aren’t widely listened to. I hope I can balance both. Speaking of which, it would feel like a misrepresentation of May 2020 to not mention any of the racism that’s nothing new, but has come to a wider attention in recent weeks. You’ll probably have seen it shared already but this is an excellent resource, especially for a long list of petitions I’ve been gradually working my way through each day while curled up in bed: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
This IGTV video by Stephanie Yeboha is something I would urge anyone to watch,
though I must note there aren’t any captions, something I wish Instagram would make a feature for on stories and videos within the app:
I begun writing a separate post in which to share everything I’d found so far then realised how unnecessary that was. The resources are out there. You can find them as easily as I could. So if you need me I’ll probably be in bed, reading as many books as my cognitively challenged brain can handle, hoping to change the world (one slightly-unlearnt personal bias at a time).
See you next summary x