From my squishy and grateful heart to you: happy holidays beauties.

For me, the festivities begin late November with Thanksgiving, which also happens to be close to my birthday and the two people who comprise my birthday triad: my mama and partner. The celebratory buzz gains momentum in December with Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, Goddess Gatherings, la Posada (a Mexican reenactment of the pilgrimage to Bethlehem, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve. Not to be left out, January brings us New Year’s Day and Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day, a.k.a. the day that kids get to open presents in Spain). That’s a whole lotta celebration!

I really love that Christmas and New Year’s Day have their own-before-the-day to help us prepare. To put things into perspective and measure the impact of the holidays in days, let’s do a little holiday math with the celebrations listed above. Everything will be listed in the number of days and the aforementioned day-before-Eve days to give us some credit for preparing and recovering from each day:

My birthday + mama’s birthday + partner’s birthday: 3 days / 6 days
Thanksgiving: 1 day / 2 days
Hanukkah: 7 days / 14 days
Winter Solstice: 1 day / 2 days
Goddess Gatherings: 1 day / 2 days
La Posada: 1 day / 2 days
Christmas Eve: 1 day / 2 days
Christmas Day: 1 day / 2 days
New Year’s Eve: 1 day / 2 days
New Year’s Day: 1 day / 2 days
Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day): 1 day / 2 days

The total estimate of holidays and preparation and recovery days: 19 days / 38 days. That’s 3-5 weeks of connection with family and friends! And we didn’t even include holiday parties with friends and colleagues on that list!

Whether you celebrate all, some, or even more than the holidays listed above I’m here to give you a license to celebrate big or curl up and recover, whichever method fills you and your precious self up most. The holidays are known to amplify emotions of joy and sorrow as Emily shared with us a few weeks ago. Being around the people we love the most can be filling and draining and everything in between for a variety of reasons.

There are times this holiday season when I’ve felt drained and needing to connect with what’s precious, filling, and essential to my core being: movement in the form of walking, running, dancing, and yoga. Connecting with my loved ones. Creating photos and images. Reading good feminist literature. All these things connect me to the divinity of what it means to be feminine when I’m showing up in the world in all my roles as a woman, daughter, partner, friend, business owner, teacher, auntie, and human in this world.

If reading good books written by talented women is also what floats your soul boat, here’s a list of five of my favorite female empowerment books that I had the pleasure of reading in 2018.

Number 1: Men Explain Things To Me – Rebecca Solnit. Genres: Social Science, Feminist Nonfiction.

Two sentence summary: recommended to me by one of the most lit up women I know, the author of this book is famous for coining the term “Mansplaining”. In this short book of humorous and deep essays, she begins with a humorous story about a man who explains her own book to her at a party without listening to her when she says multiple times during his self-important tirade: “I wrote that book”.

My favorite quote: “Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.”

This book is a good read for anyone who: has ever felt the frustration of being over-talked by a masculine-oriented person and for masculine-oriented people who want to learn more about how to be more aware of gender equality.

Reading this book made me feel: like I’m not the only one who’s struggled to communicate in a masculine context and helped give me some tips on how to react when I’m mansplained to again.

Number 2: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg. Genres: Feminist Non-Fiction Business Leadership.

Two sentence summary: former Google executive and COO of Facebook calls women to action to show up in leadership in order to have a more gender balanced world. Sheryl caught a lot of flack for this book being insensitive to those who are not multi-millionaires, but beyond her self-admitted bias, there’s so many goodies and takeaways in here that most haters failed to address and I find it universally motivating for all women despite her self-admitted constraints on her own perspective.

My favorite quote: “Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively for women. When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.” For more information on this, see the Heidi-Howard study on gender bias.

This book is a good read for anyone who: wants to know more about how to pursue a gender-balanced and more equal world with regards to leadership, love, and family life.

Reading this book made me feel: that happy to be alive in a time of gender equality and ferociously re-committed to closing the gender equality gap.

Number 3: The Power – Naomi Alderman. Genre: Feminist Science Fiction Dystopia

Two sentence summary: young women of the world are born with the power of electricity in their hands and the preteens can awaken it within each other and the older generations. When the previously disempowered gender has the power to heal, defend, and protect themselves from assault from men, how will they choose to use it?

My favorite quote: “It doesn’t matter that she shouldn’t, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth.”

This book is a good read for anyone who: enjoys dystopian fiction and wants to get lost in the story that asks the question: “When the power is in the hands of the previously oppressed, how will they choose to respond?”

Reading this book made me feel: surprisingly filled with excitement and awareness about how different my and other women’s worlds would be if we didn’t have to walk around in fear that we could be assaulted in any given moment.

Number 4: There’s No Good Card For This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love – Kelsey Crowe, Emily McDowell. Genres: Self-Help Nonfiction Psychology.

Two sentence summary: dovetailing nicely with our guest blog post by Emily Shutt earlier this month, this book pairs with world-renowned visual reminders of how we can all be better friends and people to ourselves and other people who are going through hard times in order to create a more-connected and authentic world.

My favorite quote: “Forgiveness comes when we’re able to recognize that the other person’s actions were more about them—their own motivations and context—than about us. (And that insight may or may not justify their behavior.) It’s not so much that we forgive to forget, but that we forgive in order to learn about others, learn about ourselves, and let go of resentments that hold us down.”

This book is a good read for anyone who: wants to reach out and just isn’t sure how and who benefits from learning from simplified illustrated examples.

Reading this book made me feel: softer towards my own challenges and more empowered to approach those who are going through a hard time.

Pussy: A Reclamation cover
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Number 5: Pussy: A Reclamation – Regina Thomashauer. Genres: Feminist Non-Fiction.

Two sentence summary: recommended to me by one of the most fiercely feminine women I know, this is an equally fiercely feminist read that calls for women to reclaim a word that has been used against women for too long and uses Pussy help women to identify their essence and enable them to tap into the unique profoundly divinely feminine aspects of our beings their lives.

My favorite quote: “So many of us were taught to keep a lid on anything and everything outrageous. To just turn it off. We turn off our life force, turn off our feelings, turn off our sensuality, and as a consequence, we turn off our power.”

This book is a good read for anyone who: desires to reclaim their deeply feminine power. Power is a reoccurring theme if you haven’t noticed.

Reading this book made me feel: like screaming “Yes, how does this woman know exactly how I’ve felt for years?” and full of joy that my the trail of my own quest to promote the power of femininity has already been blazed.

Have you read any of these books or do any of them sound like must-reads to you? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

My holiday wish to you is that you’re able to carve out the time to fill yourself fully with your own feminine energy so that you can go celebrate with those who fill you up with the most joy. And in the case where you must interact with those who don’t bring you joy, may you prioritize time to fill yourself back up with that which makes up your divinely feminine self.

Thank you for a beautiful 2018.

Breathe and believe, beauties.

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