I like to recommend good and useful books, but this month I am recommending a video. The video is called “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” (available on Netflix and elsewhere).
Minimalism is basically a lifestyle approach where you minimize the excess things in your life, and try to be purposeful in your consumption. Winter break was a great time for me to go through my things, and give away many of the things I had accumulated. All together, I have given away over 500 things, and I am still going! (This is coming from someone who has little clutter and is organized by nature–as most teachers are.)
I did this by doing a minimalism challenge: give away one thing on day one, two things on day two, three things on day three, and so on. By the time you are done you will have given away close to 500 things.
People have asked me where I donate. My go-to places are: the Arc (benefits people with intellectual and developmental disabilities) and a rescue mission that focuses on helping get people back on track from being homeless. I try to give high quality things and clothes that will be a blessing. I, in turn, feel happy and relieved to have less stuff in my life.
Even if you have no desire to become a minimalist, I think you will benefit from watching the video. The documentary approaches the topic from many different viewpoints. It also takes a look at advertising, and how we are constantly being bombarded through technology. It’s quite fascinating.
Monthly Book Recommendation: The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.
As an educator, this is one of the most important books I have read this year.
The Body Keeps the Score is packed full of research and personal illustrations for anyone interested in learning more about the effects of trauma on the body, including the accompanying physiology.
If you work with children or adults who have had trauma (based on statistics, we all have, whether we realize or not), practical applications are found in “Part Five: Paths to Recovery.”
This book is a must-read for teachers, psychologists, nurses, physicians (virtually anyone working closely with people).
This month, I am recommending the book:
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
If you are interested in a deeper understanding of the history of autism, this is a great and in-depth book to read.
The book definitely has some heft, and took me awhile to get through. In the afterward, Silberman shares that it took him five years to research the history of autism.
His main emphasis is a positive one: the world thrives with neurodiversity. He also advocates for people on the spectrum to have a larger role in advocating for themselves, and for a greater push in services.
Note: The book is not without some controversy. My simplified read on his take regarding some controversial issues is: overall, autism has not increased dramatically, rather, now we have an increase due to society identifying autism and widening of the spectrum, and that vaccines have no bearing on the increase. Even if you disagree with some of his viewpoints (I felt his section on pollutants skimmed the surface), it is still a very worthwhile and great read!
This book has been out for awhile, and I finally got to it! You may have seen the author on 60 Minutes, when the news show discussed parents holding back their children a year in school to give them an advantage. That was an unintentional byproduct of this book!
I recommend The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. He makes nonfiction really interesting, as he posits his different theories for why things occur.
Gladwell’s point is that things don’t occur in a vacuum, though he does seem to make a shift towards the end of the book to emphasize the importance of hard work. If you haven’t read this book, I think you will enjoy it!
I had a chance to read some good books this summer, and I really found this book to be fascinating:
Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers —written by neurologist David Perlmutter, MD.
An interesting point the author makes is…we all know diet can affect various aspects of our body, but we rarely think about how diet affects our brain. The author makes a compelling case for eliminating wheat from your diet (so much so, I have given it up!).
If you are interested in reading about a gluten free diet, or are curious just to know how diet can affect your brain, I highly recommend this book.
As to students, many children (though not all) on the autism spectrum have responded well and have shown improvement after being on a gluten free diet.
Because teaching is a demanding job…this recommendation is for the educators–actually, for all women (sorry men, this book is written for women).
I recommend: Unleash the Power of the Female Brain, by Dr. Daniel Amen. You may have seen Dr. Amen on PBS, talking about his SPECT scans and mental health.
My husband bought me this book for me, and I really love it–I have the book all marked up (not that I have done it all!). This book discusses optimizing your health, and gives many practical steps. It talks about diet, supplements, exercise, different brain types, and hormones. It is very informative, and I think you will enjoy it!