issue #198 - the one about big questions

small talk so so overrated

A heads up - this newsletter is an especially long one and will likely be clipped by Gmail. You can read the full post here.

Over email, an acquaintance shared this powerful op-ed and posed 4 big questions from it to us, along with her answers:

  1. What crossroads are you at?

  2. If the next five years is a chapter in your life, what is the chapter about?

  3. Can you be yourself where you are and still fit in?

  4. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

In an effort to hold onto my humanity during these times, I’ve been spending more time offline having thoughtful, deeper conversations with my friends and loved ones. There’s something to be said about sharing more of yourself with groups as well, and you have been such a big part of my digital circle. I wanted to share my answers to these questions with you, and hope you forward this to those you want to keep close with your own answers (and please hit reply - I’d love to read yours and get to know you better as well!)

If you do forward the email, please use your unique referral link. You’ll be able to redeem some goodies - bookmarks, books, and even 1:1 mentoring sessions - with your referrals!

What crossroads are you at?
The details of my day job need to remain private (any public statements could be construed as pre-approval marketing and affect our submission with FDA), but I will say that the past 7 years have been a rollercoaster. Just when I think we’ve overcome the last challenge, a new one presents itself. It’s the nature of the business and things continue to progress, which is both rare and positive news. Giving Rhoshan Pharma my full attention and focus means I’ve had to table and postpone a lot of my plans for this content business. I have so many ideas and plans for this platform that light me up, and not being able to execute on them has me feeling like I’m stuck at a mental and emotional crossroad for the past year. I know it won’t always be this way, but I really would like to take a specific path. I know this crossroads is a cloverleaf interchange and this path will loop back around to this crossroads so I can take the path I’m feeling called to - it’s just not right now.

If the next five years is a chapter in your life, what is the chapter about?
This is the presence chapter. “Breathe here and be here” is a common thread in my friend Neeti’s meditation and yoga practices, and it embodies this chapter of being present in the each moment (as best as I can be). I’ve found my confidence in caregiving this year (for my kids and my parents), and I savor our time together with more gratitude. I feel like I’ve taken the time we’ve had together in the past for granted, and I’m all too aware of how fleeting it is. I also want to bring this presence into my solo time and spend it more intentionally - less scrolling, more creating or consuming works that make me feel good.

Can you be yourself where you are and still fit in?
I’m getting there. I’ve come to realize that the spaces I don’t feel comfortable in are spaces I can gracefully decline, and to stay in the spaces and with the people that value my full self (and vice versa). I feel this even more palpably right now - Diwali season is in full swing, and I’m conscious of what I’m saying yes or no to. My litmus test for this is choosing not to drink alcohol in these big events - if I need that glass of liquid courage to feel comfortable, then that event is not the place for me.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
I’d start the book proposal for my third book. I’d launch a YouTube channel to get more on-air practice to get closer to my dream job (being a host on The View). I’d talk about myself more (I did sign up for Break An Egg to help me with this fear, specifically). I’d put myself out there more (both fear and a lack of time is what’s stopping me now).

Smart Snacks

some thoughts on Deepavali/Diwali - new life goal: do karaoke with the Kelces - I would’ve earned better grades in chemistry lab if he was my lab partner - this hair pin tutorial works like a charm (I have and love these pins) - this is how you should sit while eating - the best vocabulary lesson for book lovers - this cardigan is the ultimate cozy-chic piece - delicious and simple pot pies - I’ve watched this video at least a hundred times - the most perfect little bag

What We Read This Week

The Stranger I Wed by Harper St. George - if Miss Scarlet and The Duke (the absolute best TV show) and The Viscount Who Loved Me had a book baby, it would be Harper St. George’s forthcoming book and the first in her Dove Sisters series. She’s an feminist, illegitimate heiress of a New York tycoon, he’s an earl with a heart of gold and in need of funds, and they inconveniently fall in love. This one won’t be out until next year, but it’s worth picking up St. George’s Gilded Age Heiress series and Sarah MacLean’s Hell’s Belles if you’re craving this specific vibe.

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears - a succinct, soul-stirring book from a woman who was exploited by everyone (her family, her loves, pop culture, the press, capitalism). Sam Lansky did a phenomenal job co-writing this book with Spears, and Michelle Williams did a brilliant job of narrating. I’ve been thinking about this book constantly and am sitting with a swirl of feelings about this book (and the state of the world). Most of all, I wish the best for Britney and that she can live in peace and with freedom - something she shouldn’t have to earn, but she most certainly deserves.

Everyday Dharma by Suneel Gupta - every Diwali, I reaffirm a goal to learn more about Hinduism and every year it slips from my consciousness - until earlier this summer. I loved The Way of the Goddess when I read it over the summer, and Suneel Gupta’s Everyday Dharma follows in this tradition of blending ancient Hindu scripture to an attainable, soulful practice for modern life. Here’s the rest of my modern Hinduism TBR.

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo - I was excited to read Elizabeth Acevedo's first book for adults and it delivered. For fans of Olga Dies Dreaming, it includes multiple povs from different generations of a family, questions of fate, and nuanced sibling relationships (and aunt/niece relationships, which aren't as common in books). Excited to read more from her.

This Week’s Tops Reads:

Your Questions, Answered

All of these questions and answers are saved on my LTK page for future reference. If you heart one of the posts, you’ll be alerted when any of the items linked in the post go on sale!

Uplifting book recommendation for someone dealing with chronic illness?

A cool new casual/work/chic coat!
Shearling is big this fall - this Mango coat is great if you want a dressier option, and this One/Third coat if you want something more casual.

A suede bomber is always a great layering option. For those warmer fall days, this chore jacket is polished and so versatile. A quilted jacket is a great option when it’s a bit chillier.

I also love a wool shacket for the casual/cool factor. For work, I’d go with one of these classic wool coats from Quince.

Oooh your latest romance/beach read obsession!
I just re-read Alexa Martin’s Playbook series again, which is an annual mood read for the start of football season.

My new witchy season read is The Shadow Cabinet by Juno Dawson, which I’m loving right now.

And I just finished the ARC of Harper St. George’s forthcoming book, but will be re-reading her Gilded Age Heiresses series because it’s so good.

A cozy mystery to watch
I am OBSESSED with Miss Scarlet and the Duke. If Veronica Mars was set in early 20th century London, it would be this show and it is just a delight.

I’m also enjoying Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (set in 1920’s Melbourne - same vibes, different accents, equally delightful)

Looking for a winter craft activity. Something I can do while listening to an audiobook.
I love to needlepoint and crochet when I’m listening to audiobooks. These are the best beginner sets from Unwind Studio and Woobles, respectively.

Holiday/Christmas murder mystery or thriller!
These are some of my favorites:

Last fall fashion finds I didn’t know I needed
I got the coats covered earlier - highly endorse those styles.

I’m really loving my Birkenstock-esque Mary Janes paired with wool or sheer socks (it’s weird, but it really does work).

I really love a cozy sweater dress, and this cashmere one is so delicious.

A taupe bag feels very fall - I scored a preloved Loewe puzzle bag on Poshmark, but am linking to some other options in this perfect shade.

A ridiculously oversized sweatshirt is my Sunday football look (I take a unisex XL). This one looks great with workout leggings or leather leggings alike.

If you didn’t snag these Birdies sneaker boots, you must - they are the best!

I have a love affair with MM.LaFleur’s Sahara print and this blouse is just perfect.

A gender neutral stocking stuffer for adult family members, up to $20-ish
We stuff our stockings with toiletries for the upcoming year (a tradition my mom started), and these lip balm sets are the absolute best. 

Personalized socks are unexpected and completely delightful. Set, Bananagrams, and Cover Your A$$ets are favorites of ours, and something the entire family can enjoy during your time together. 

A tumbler, portable battery, fabric shaver, and bowl lifter thingy are practical gifts that are always appreciated. 

I personally got a kick out of these packaged batteries. Lastly, a  popcorn popper and personalized socks are a fun and unexpected gift.

A journaling app and ideas for gifts to a writer
I have 2 app recommendations - Silk & Sonder’s app provides journal prompts and can be a digital journal as well. For prompts only, I love Superhuman’s writing meditations (and all their meditations, really). You can get a 60-day trial with code hitha when you register for an account (not valid with any of the 3rd party signups)

As far as gifts for writers, each writer’s style and tools for writing are probably pretty established, but there are some items that make my own writing stretches more joyful:

Light fiction for first few weeks postpartum weeks/late night feeds
I highly recommend these audiobooks (which was the only format I was able to read during those first months postpartum). You can find the non-audiobooks linked here.

ACOTAR is not light but it is the most engrossing series and the full cast audiobook is just fantastic. I re-listen to the series often.

You can also find all my book recommendations and recent reading logs here.

A great sexy fun holiday party dress
My sequined Style Charade x Sail To Sable dress has been my go-to holiday party dress for years now - I have a silver one, but planning to add the gold one to my wardrobe.

I love a satin slip dress paired with a faux fur shrug. This polka dot one is so cute as well.

Feathers and tulle some of my favorite embellishments for cocktail attire as well, and this slinky off-shoulder dress is so chic.

Super warm winter books (not Sorel)
I’ve linked to some leather boots linked with shearling, and these wool high boots that are really warm and elegant.

Get rid of dark circles under eyes
Genetics, sleep (or lack thereof), and hydration are some of the largest contributors to undereye dark circles. I’d try to get more sleep and drink more water, but I’m linking some of my favorite skincare and makeup to help treat and hide them as well:

Sunday Riley’s Auto Correct, Wander Beauty’s Baggage Claim eye cream, and Alchimie Forever’s tightening eye gel are some of the best brightening and hydrating eye creams on the market.

Live Tinted’s Huestick (I use perk) is a great color corrector for hiding undereye circles. I also love their Hueskin concealer (I use shade 13) and Rare Beauty’s undereye brightener over the color corrector, and that’s worked quite well for me!

The best cozy, semi-masculine candle recommendation
Hotel Lobby Candle’s Cabin and Lodge scents embody this vibe perfectly. May I also recommend getting a candle warmer lamp, to help extend the life of your candle? I LOVE mine.

Fun ritual/reward for after daily IVF injections
You deserve everything! I hope you treat yourself to one of these:

A holiday gift idea for a busy WFH mom who has it all
These are the best gifts I’ve ever received and I think this person would love any of these items:

Something lighthearted to watch
These are some older shows/miniseries that you may have missed when they originally aired (many are my comfort rewatch shows for me). And Kelce is just the best - like, the absolute best.

Gift idea for 10 year old boy
I think these gifts would be awesome for any 10 year old (and I may have bookmarked them for holiday and birthday gifts for Rho). 

This planetarium projector comes with 5 different discs, and I would pair them with the book Space Case). 

I also love these make-your-own comic book, video game, and light sign kits, and this old school Game Boy-esque console

If the 10 year old in question is into Zelda or just swords, this Master Sword building kit would be a huge hit.

A weighted blanket that’s not grey
Quince has a pretty woven blanket in a variety of colors, and I also love this cozy faux fur one.

Something to help me sleep that isn’t Advil PM
Not drinking alcohol in the evenings really does help. I enjoy a Ghia spritz when I want a drink to mark the transition between work and family mode. I’ve also been drinking magnesium (either Beeya’s or Moon Juice’s) every evening before bed, and I’ve found it really helps as well.

I’ve been very, very loyal to the Equilibria sleep gummies ever since they launched, and have two every single night. I also love a sleep mask and this weighted silk one is heavenly (though if the pressure on your eyes is too much, this molded eye cup one from Slip is very nice).

If you haven’t replaced your pillow in a while, I really love mine from Earthfoam (it’s like a Goldilocks pillow - not too hard, not too soft, just right).

If you made it this far, you have my immense gratitude. Thank you, as always, for welcoming me into your inbox every week.

All my love,
HPN

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