issue #192 - a current favorites one

sports documentaries, a much-missed pillow, and more

There were some amazing moments this week (attending some SANYFW shows, precharging every day, inching closer to sweater weather).

Those were the exceptions. The norm was my own restraint collapse alongside my kids as we adjusted to homework and after school activities for them and back-to-back meetings for me, and the evening routine to accommodate them. We’re still figuring things out, but here are some of the things that brought me joy, comfort, or gave me a much-needed distraction in the midst of the chaos.

I used to be able to sleep anywhere, with any pillow and bedding, and feel completely rested. That is no longer the case, and I only realized it after having to sleep without my Earthfoam pillow for a month in Vancouver (and being utterly thrilled to reunite with it when I got home). It’s the Goldilocks of pillows - not too firm or soft, juuuuust right. I’m about to add their mattress toppers to all of our beds, and purchase their mattresses for our Pennsylvania home.

I can’t stop watching sports documentaries right now. I was grateful for my 24 hour trip to Boston to watch the entire Angel City docuseries, and cried multiple times while watching Kelce on Tuesday. Box To Box are killing it with Drive To Survive, Full Swing, and Break Point on Netflix (watch them if you haven’t yet). While reality TV helps me shut my brain off, these light a fire under my butt to push through through the challenging moments and savor my wins more.

If you need an outfit that looks polished and stylish and is incredibly comfortable, I highly recommend a slip skirt paired with a contrasting or matching top. I wore a red one with an embellished Indo-Western button down to a fashion week event on Monday, and paired my new sweater with a matching skirt for a nonprofit board meeting on Thursday.

Two things have helped me become a breakfast person - peeled hard boiled eggs from Vital Farms (I add a dab of Yellowbird habañero sauce and sprinkle Red Clay Spicy Everything salt to each half), and a Blender Bomb smoothie (I add frozen spinach and blueberries, a scoop of AG1, 2 scoops of this protein partner, oat milk, water, and ice and enjoy it from this smoothie glass). Now I just need to be better about eating lunch before hanger strikes.

Some little joys/finds/purchases:

The greatest TikTok you’ll ever watch (and be sure to read the replies) - I purchased this skirt to add to my fall style rotation - my fancast for Lessons in Chemistry actually happened and the trailer exceeded my high expectations - I loved being interviewed by The Wie Suite about my approach to productivity - I have my eye on this Eagles sweatshirt and hat (don’t need them, but irrationally want them) - I definitely did purchase Hotel Lobby Candle’s new Aspen, both for its scent and for its Eagles colorway - if you enjoy romance (and especially fantasy romance), you’ll love Ali’s book reviews - immensely proud of my friend Neha and this important report her team published on mothers pausing their careers - I’ve re-read my advance copy of The Christmas Orphans Club three times already, so this is your reminder to pre-order it - Serena’s Rubirosa tie-dye frittata looks incredible - I cannot get over how adorable scallops are when they swim

What We Read This Week:


  • Outlive by Peter Attia - this is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read in recent memory, and one everyone should read to prioritize their health. Focused on longevity and increasing one’s healthspan, Attia does a phenomenal job of explaining the science clearly and succinctly. The roadmap he outlines to improve your healthspan are made up of the things you know you should do, but I really valued the way he connected this advice to the specific ways they contribute to a longer healthspan.

  • Daisy Haites: The Great Undoing by Jessa Hastings - it’s official - I think the Magnolia Parks universe is the first book series that makes me feel the way The Idea of You did, and I don’t know what to do until the fifth book is finally published. While book 3 takes us further out than this one, it fills so many of the gaps that I both noticed and didn’t notice. If you haven’t jumped into this universe yet, this is your sign to get in and hold on for dear life.

  • The Love Rematch by Kay Marie - Emily’s mom campaigns for her to be the next Bachelorette on national TV, but when she arrives she realizes that one of her producers is her first love, Jake, who ghosted her seven years ago. I haven’t watched The Bachelor since season 3 or 4 and I thoroughly enjoyed this book! So much that I finished it in a day!
    Here’s what you’re getting:
    ✅ inspired by The Bachelor
    ✅ dual POV
    ✅ second chance romance
    childhood sweethearts
    ✅ so much hot yearning
    🌶️: a little - it’s not entirely fade to black

    If you’re looking for a fun escapist read and/or enjoy reality TV, this is a good one to pick! This is out October 16, 2023 and is worth the pre-order.

  • You, Again by Kate Goldbeck - a new release, this book is perfectly of its time. The sarcasm, the toughness, the humor, the wit, the candor, the very New York moments - perfection. Pop culture references are top notch. Of course there is romance and 🌶️ and very messy people and an amazing side cast. And it will rip your heart out before it puts it back together.

    If you like any of Emily Henry’s books, you need to read this one.

Top #5SmartReads Of The Past Week:

Your Questions, Answered

What things is your audience surprised by/curious about re: accessibility/disability/illness?
I can’t speak for my audience, but I’m firmly in favor of policy writing, urban design and planning, and industrial engineering focusing those with disabilities FIRST because it makes for a better world for us all.

I’m so grateful to our 5SR contributor Qudsiya for sharing the reporting and news we all need to read on this topic, and following folks like Melanin And Moxie, The Heather Report, Tiffany Yu, Nitika Chopra, and Chronicon who have helped reframe my perspective with empathy and grace.

How do you get out of your own head when you’re prepping for something scary?
In today’s case, it’s doing the following before a big meeting:

  • Blasting Demi Lovato’s new rock album (rock versions of her greatest hits so far)

  • Eating 3 hard boiled eggs with hot sauce and Red Clay’s spicy everything salt so I don’t get hangry.

  • Drinking a big glass of water.

  • Throwing on a nice top on top of my workout clothes and hair in a high bun, and wearing my Alexis Bittar snake earrings (currently 25% off with their friends & family sale). 

  • Blocking an hour today for downtime (grateful for flexibility which makes this possible). I’m going to eat my dinner leftovers, watch Southern Charm, and needlepoint.

Whenever I’m talking anything scary or intimidating, I follow Coach Karen’s stellar advice to write a Magic 20 (a list of 20 things to do to get close to that goal or break down this project into small chunks,) and I put 15 minutes recurring block on my calendar to do 1 thing from that list until it’s done.

It is the best tactic I’ve found to make progress on anything I’ve found scary, intimidating or overwhelming. And it’s hard to list 20 things, which also helps you discern from tasks that serve this goal from busywork you’d usually do to productivity procrastinate.

Copy tips/templates for brand collabs and email sequences?
There are two excellent resources for this - brand collaboration/pitch scripts from Her First 100K ($29) and Influence With Impact ($97). I’ve bought both and can confirm they’re excellent.

Taking a friend to NYC for her 40th! Dinner recs? Prob staying in Hell’s Kitchen area.
Happy happy birthday to your friend! Recommending my favorite spots on the West Side because it’s fairly easy to get to them (HK has great restaurants but none feel special enough for a milestone birthday)

  • Drinks at The Pendry and dinner at Zou Zous in Hudson Yards

  • Dinner at Reyna and nightcap at Airs Champagne Parlor

  • Sushi Nakazawa

  • Sona’s drag brunch on weekend mornings

  • Bad Roman & Robert in Columbus Circle

For the most part, you can take the 123 up and down to any of these spots!

Are you in a Sunday Riley ad for Sephora?!
I am! It was part of a whitelisting campaign I did for them - love Sunday Riley products (I linked my top repurchased items).

Any advice for wandering 20 something’s trying to figure out what to prioritize?
Looking back on the past 2 decades and looking forward to the next one, this is how I feel about those decades of your life:

20s are for exploring
30s are for aligning
40s and beyond are for thriving

When I look back on my 20s, I learned the most and have the fondest memories of the things that bucked expectations. Do your best to let go of any “shoulds” you may be feeling. Instead, think about the bucket list items you can do right now or scary goals you can make a Magic 20 for and chip away at.

I’m really happy that I did meet my husband when I did (age 25) when we were just getting started and I love what we’ve built together over the past 14 years. Here’s the reframe my SIL gave me that I think helped me manifest my husband.

Baby boy names! Indian fusion but easy to pronounce! Thank you!!
We were in the same boat! I’m obviously partial to my kids’ names, but here are some others we considered:

  • Akash

  • Shaan

  • Karan

  • Sahil

  • Neel

  • Shiv

  • Nish

How did you decide whether to place your kid in private or public school?
Both children began at private schools that we toured and selected based on their specific needs at the time, which I recognize is a huge privilege and we are lucky to have been in a position to make that choice.

We toured both private and public schools when Rho was 4 and we were deciding where he’d attend kindergarten, and the school that we felt was the best for him happened to be a private school where he continues to thrive.

Some of the factors for us are student/teacher ratio, curriculum, culture, and if we simply liked the faculty and other parents at the open house events. Looking back on it now, i would’ve focused closely on administration- there has been some transitions at the senior level at the boy’s school but I’m really happy with the current senior leadership and the transparency and empathy they’re currently leading with. Location was also a factor.  

When they expanded their early childhood education program, we evaluated it for Rhaki and came to the decision that it’s the right place for him during those PreK years, and we pan to keep him there for elementary school.

We check in with Rho and discuss schools every semester to make sure we’re on the same page, and I know we’ll evaluate all our options for middle school for sure.

Encouragement to rock my grey! LOVE your style! ❤️ 

I feel very empowered and I like how I look so much more than when I was dying my hair. I think about something Jenna Lyons said on RHONY about dressing/styling for herself versus for the male gaze, and that sums up how I feel about my grays. I made the decision for myself and loves every party of it- less upkeep, looks great (in my opinion), and I’ve never felt more like myself.

Some tips for the grow-out-phase:

  • use Madison Reed root touch up during the grow-out process until you have a few inches of growth

  • do frequent scalp massages with hair oil (I love Ranavat, Fable and Mane, and indē wild) to recondition your grays to their usual texture

  • get gray or light highlights that match your growth pattern of your grays

And have fun!

Having my hysterectomy next week. Any must have recovery things I need??
Any advice for anxiety going into a major surgery? Any little indulgences I should buy?
I wrote an essay and Q&A about my hysterectomy, which also has product recommendations for recover.

Sending you all my love and best wishes for a swift recovery!

Tips on pivoting from a traditional 9-5?
Amanda Goetz’s newsletter, Life’s A Game, is filled with so many phenomenal tactics to help do exactly this (as she is doing right now!)

Highly recommend you subscribe, and if you hit reply, I can forward you her latest issue that talks about her experience and a powerful framework on doing just this.  

How did you manage your relationship with demanding jobs at the same time?
Our weekly relationship check-in is a lifesaver in helping us manage our home life and stay connected to each other- even if we barely spent any 1:1 time during the week, this practice ensures we don’t let things fester or hurt feelings to grow over a long period of time.

Why is my 3 year old suddenly refusing to stay in his bed/room at night???
Toddlers are something, aren’t they?

For any kind of developmental challenge like this, I have to check in with myself and gauge what my mental and emotional bandwidth is to deal with it, and come up with a plan from there.

Specifically for this, though, a lock may work. We used this with great success until recently (Rhaki figured out how to open it at 4)

Advice on after school restraint collapse??
1) I’m relieved I’m not alone.

2) Feeding myself a snack before pickup (Caitlin, thank you for the reminder) and bringing snacks for the kids to have on the walk home really helps.

3) Having chill music playing and giving them 15-30 minutes to do what they want while I get dinner finished really helps. I’ll also pop in my AirPods and play a Superhuman anytime meditation to get me in a better headspace.

4) Hard days happen. one of us will lose it or all of us will lose it, but I focus on repair (Dr. Becky’s TED Talk) and give myself a lot of grace.

Pushing homework after dinner on hard days also helps.

How you position yourself for a job in the market as a generalist?
Tips for re-entering the workplace or work after burnout or time off?
How do you build a portfolio career with things you’re interested in?
These are all excellent questions that I plan to gather wisdom and answers from two of our 5SR contributors - Dr. Jessica Wilen and Julia - as well as some other wise folks I know like Christina Wallace (who wrote the book The Portfolio Life - highly recommend!), Keren Eldad, Minda Harts, Leah Wiseman Fink, Antoinette Beauchamp and others.

We’ll work on a career-focused weekly newsletter in the coming weeks, where we can give these questions the ideal forum to go deep with our advice and answers.

Sending my kid away for a week long science camp. Having anxiety, who do I talk to?
A lot of my friends whose kids have traveled to sleep away camp said it was harder on them than their kids!

I will say that when our kids go spend a weekend with their grandparents and my husband and I do our own thing. I love to dive into a book series. Here are some that I couldn’t put down:

All my book recommendations can be found on my #ReadWithHitha tag


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