“The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook” by Mickey Trescott

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Subtitle: An Allergen-Free Approach to Managing Chronic Illness

Recommended to me by: a friend

This cookbook feels less scientifically authoritarian and more personally friendly. “This worked for me, see if it worked for you.” Also, the photographs are beautiful and enticing. Unfortunately, most of the recipes have garlic and/or onion, which don’t seem to work well for me.

I may eventually buy a copy, just to add a few more recipes to my repertoire. I’m still considering whether to try the whole bone broth and fermented vegetable routine.

Recommended for a friendly introduction to “Paleo” cooking.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“The Paleo Approach” by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD

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Subtitle: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body

Recommended to me by: a friend

This is a textbook sized book with science textbook’s density of information. It contains detailed information about the immune system, digestive system, and scientific studies about the effects of food on both systems. I will admit I skimmed a lot of the science, not having time to study each section in depth before the book was due back at the library.

At the same time, this book comes across as a marketing tool for this particular approach to eating, complete with testimonials and a disturbingly thin white woman doing an extreme yoga pose on a beach on the cover. On the positive side, a Black woman’s (sleeping) face is also included on the cover.

While the book repeatedly emphasizes that each body is different and each autoimmune response is different, it also repeats that strictly following the proposed protocol is necessary for healing. I’m wondering if restricting my diet even further would be helpful, while my gut (hm) says, “No more restrictions!” The book emphasizes nutrient-dense foods as well as restrictions, and I think I already do pretty well at that, although I don’t eat a lot of organ meats as it recommends.

It includes suggestions for improving sleep, reducing stress, and increasing moderate exercise. I’m relieved to read support for those aspects of my self-care.

My friend is following the approach strictly, and is seeing good results. I’m considering whether to make further changes to my diet, and how that might work logistically.

Recommended if you have ongoing digestive and/or immune issues and want to learn more about what scientists currently know about these systems. At the same time, note that scientists are constantly learning more and changing their conclusions, and what works marvelously for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else.

Available at Powell’s Books.

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I also took a look at Sarah Ballantyne’s “The Paleo Approach Cookbook: A Detailed Guide to Heal Your Body and Nourish Your Soul”. Lots of varied, complex recipes. It seems more suited for cooking for a family than a single person.

Available at Powell’s Books.

The Recompiler, issue 1, edited by Audrey Eschright

Like many experienced women in tech, Audrey had enough of her latest job, and doubted that a better environment was available. So she quit and started a feminist hacker magazine!

Our goal is to help people learn about technology in a fun, playful way, and highlight a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. We’re especially interested in infrastructure: the technical and social systems we depend on. We want to share what it’s like to learn and work with technology, and teach each other to build better systems and tools.

This is the first issue, available in print and online. There are technical articles on the vulnerabilities of DNS and SSL (building blocks of the Internet), a personal article about growing up female in a tech-loving household, a how-to on setting up activist websites, and a bonus article on how to teach git (an unintuitive but popular version-control program).


The Recompiler – featured articles

“Sammy, the crow who remembered” by Elizabeth Baldwin Hazelton

I had this book as a kid. I remembered it because it has a character named Sonya, which is the only place I ever saw my name in a book, even spelled wrong differently. Well, until Crime and Punishment, but that was much later. Representation is important! I also remembered an overall warm feeling about the story.

It’s a true story, told with photographs, of a crow who returned to play and live with the family who raised him. Re-reading it now, I wonder about the photographer, Ann Atwood. There are gorgeous black and white photos of Sammy interacting with a cat, a seagull, a passel of kids, and gently leaning into an adult’s petting hand.

Highly recommended, if you can track down a copy.

“The Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer

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Subtitle: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

Recommended to me by: Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk

This book brought me to tears, laughter, and boredom. It’s a confessional mix of Amanda Palmer’s friendship with her childhood neighbor Anthony, her relationship with Neil Gaiman, and her band’s tours and tangles with a recording company.

Some of it recapitulates the TED talk. Some of it reveals more than I’m comfortable even repeating here about her famous husband. Some of it is really good advice about asking, forgiving, being in the moment, connecting, loving.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“Focusing with Your Whole Body” by Addie van der Kooy & Kevin McEvenue

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Focusing is a way of looking inside and being with a felt sense of our experience. Alexander Technique is about interrupting unhelpful physical habits to allow the body to move with ease. Kevin McEvenue brought them together: inviting the body to move how it wants to as a way of restoring flow to blocked processes.

Addie van der Kooy learned the process from Kevin and wrote this clear, gentle, welcoming manual. It comes with a CD of guided exercises, although the copy I read no longer had it. At just over 50 pages, it is concise, while still covering the material with care.

The exercises are done standing, feeling a solid connection with the earth through the feet, or sitting, feeling a solid connection through the sit bones and feet. The first exercise suggests: “[I]nvite your body to raise your arms upward from the sides of your body in the way it wants to. […] Listen for and allow any kind of movement, however small and unexpected. It may even have nothing to do with raising your arms!”

After each exercise, there are exploratory questions and discussion. Addie says, “When I do this exercise it often feels like I am inviting myself to dance with the wisdom of my own body.” We invite the body to express itself through movement, and then give consent to what comes (or not).

The following chapters are Grounding and Presence, Allowing a Felt-Sense to Emerge, Holding Both with Equal Positive Regard, and Coming to a Resting Point. Holding Both references Peter Levine’s ideas from Somatic Experiencing about moving between the trauma vortex and a healing vortex.

This book describes a loving, careful way to listen to the body. I tried the exercises on my own, and I want to try a facilitated Whole Body Focusing session sometime. Highly recommended.

Available at the Focusing Institute.

Kevin McEvenue also wrote two articles about how he came to develop Whole Body Focusing as part of his healing process. They are combined in “Dancing the Path of the Mystic”, also available at the Focusing Institute.

“Through the Gates” by Susan Windle

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Subtitle: A Practice for Counting the Omer

Recommended to me by: Kol Aleph – Jewish Renewal Omer Offerings Online

I tried Counting the Omer this year, moving through the sephirot of the Kabbalah in all their pairings over 49 days. I quickly found that I needed a woman’s voice to guide me through this historically men-only practice. Susan Windle’s book gave me warm, personal, inclusive guidance.

The book has a sense of movement through the days as she writes poems and letters to a group of people counting with her. She includes her struggles as well as insights. Her interpretations are clear, and resonate with what I sense in my body. At the end, she says counting the omer is about becoming more ourselves, which also makes sense to me.

Recommended to learn about Kabbalah and Counting the Omer from a woman’s perspective.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“She Who Dwells Within” by Lynn Gottlieb

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Subtitle: A Feminist Vision of a Renewed Judaism

Recommended to me by: Orasimcha Batdina

I loved this book. Lynn Gottlieb talks about exactly what I needed to hear, that other women find Judaism to be hostile ground. I cheered on her battle to make that hostile world hers in a new way, and winced at the ways men fought to suppress her.

“Women need a new situation. In a Jewish context, we need to transform the way we talk Torah, the way we practice ceremony and ritual, the way we tell and pass on stories, the way we codify laws, the way we organize our communities, and the way we envision sacred mysteries.” Yes!

Also it doesn’t hurt that she chooses a dragon (longtime favorite symbol of mine) to represent Shekhinah.

I appreciated the links between Judaism and the pre-existing Goddesses in the Middle East. I’ve worked with the Descent of Innana without realizing the story might be part of my heritage. Yes, we need stories about women that resolve in powerful, healing ways, not just, “And then she got married and had a son.”

I appreciated re-imagining keeping kosher as caring for the environment. I hadn’t viewed that as a directly spiritual act before, although it makes sense now that I think about it.

I also appreciated the section on recovering from violence and abuse, although there was a bit of “help them recover” about it.

Perhaps someday I’ll come back to the book for some of the re-imagined rituals it offers. For now, it’s the company I enjoy.

Highly recommended.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“On the Wings of Shekhinah” by Rabbi Leah Novick

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Subtitle: Rediscovering Judaism’s Divine Feminine

Recommended to me by: Orasimcha Batdina

Rabbi Leah Novick weaves the Shekhinah (divine feminine in Judaism) back in to Jewish history. Clearly, a lot of research and thought went into creating this book.

It contains a brief chapter on Kabbalah, which is what led me to read it, and further material on Jewish mysticism. If I wanted to create a feminist Jewish practice for myself, I would re-read this book. Right now, it’s not what I was looking for. I absorbed the information in a general way, but the specifics didn’t stay with me.

Available at Powell’s Books.

“A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle

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I clearly remember not wanting to turn the light out, the first time I finished reading this book, spooked by mind control. I was around 9 years old, new to having my own room, lined with bookcases of my parents’ books.

Rereading it now, it’s interesting to see which parts I could practically recite, and which parts I had forgotten, but then remember liking, like Meg being cared for by Aunt Beast. This 50th Anniversary Edition includes a biographical essay about Madeleine L’Engle, written by her granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis.

There was a discussion about how evil is defined in this book, whether it was removing people’s individuality. I think evil is more about control, erasing people’s power of choice. Pure evil is pure control, pure selfishness, pure disregard for the will of others.

Available at Powell’s Books.