What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: The Dirty Book Club

I picked this book up because it sounded like movie Book Club and it was on the $5 table at Barnes and Noble, an impulse buy at it’s finest. It looked like I started my own dirty book club as I walked to the checkout with The Dirty Book Club and Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. When the cashier scanned both of my books I said, “I don’t know why it looks like I read 50 Shades of Grey” and she didn’t even crack a smile.  But I think I’m funny and that’s all that matters.

When I first picked this up I read the author’s name and thought “Lisi Harrison… I’ve heard that before”. It wasn’t until I started reading it I realized it was the same Lisi Harrison who wrote The Clique series. The Clique books were some of my favorites to read, my school didn’t seem nearly as cool as Octavian Country Day and I loved reading about the Pretty Committee. Which caused my expectations of this book to soar. 

This book was slightly dramatic as I remember The Clique books to be, which is odd because it covers everything from cheating husbands to pot brownies. It was however a great read and the perfect book to bring with you to a beach.

While I enjoyed it I think I would have rather it focused more on the original members or on the bonding between the next generation. While there was a lot going on, I finished it and still felt like I was missing something. There’s little talk of the actual book club and how the new members got closer.

While we do see personal growth in a number of the characters, whether it’s actually reading that month’s pick or signing in pen, it feels like we’re following the Downtown Beach Club and not the Dirty Book Club. While each of the characters were independent of each other they blended together for me. If it wasn’t M.J., I had to remind myself who was who.

If you’re looking for a light-hearted and dramatic read this is one to have. While I felt like the relationships between characters fell a little flat, it was a good read for a day on the beach.

Happy reading!

xox,

Marissa

Uncategorized, What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: The Enlightenment of Bees

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden is the perfect mix of self discovery, a love story, and an honest reflection about voluntourism. This story is well thought out and each theme plays out very well and compliments each other. 

This story starts out with a proposal gone wrong and follows Mia on her journey to find herself. After a six year relationship, she realizes she had been in a relationship that forced her to compromise rather than fostering her growth. But it’s not just her love story, Nana Alice and her best friend Rosie also find themselves looking for love. 

As for the voluntourism aspect, Linden does not shy away from addressing the savior complex. If you’re not familiar with it it can be easily explained by @barbiesavior on Instagram. This book brings up two really good points about changing the world:

  •   It’s a two way street. You can’t go into a different culture and assume you’re the only person of value, you need to build a community.
  • finding where your passions meet the worlds needs

It’s a hard discussion to have, but this book definitely paves the way for the discussions to happen. As someone who has always wanted to do a volunteer trip abroad this has made me realize that without the community aspect no real change can be made. 

Another important lesson from this book was that the refugee crisis does not stop at the border. The true test comes as people are trying to acclimate into their new lives. 

There was one thing that was totally lost on me, the bee analogy. Bees are scattered throughout the text and I’ll be(e) honest I was confused. Until, I couldn’t take it anymore, I felt like they must mean something for them to show up that often. So I turned to Google and saw that bees represent community, brightness, and personal power. Well played Linden, well played.

If you’re looking for a thought provoking read that has a seamless storyline, this is your next pick.

Happy reading!

xox, 

Marissa

What I'm Reading

Summer Reads

You can read my full review of these books here:

These reviews are coming soon:

  • The Enlightenment of Bees
  • Last Year in Havana

Let me know what books you bring to the beach in the comments!

xox,

Marissa

wellness

Wellness Wednesday: Make a Run for It

Hello hello!

Today’s Wellness Wednesday is a track workout and I have included a few different options so you can pick whichever one you feel the most comfortable with. Just remember you should do some type of dynamic warm up before hitting the track.

I wanted to share different running workouts because I spent 6 years running cross country and track and some days I miss it. After running a 5k a few weeks ago I thought, I should really train for these things. In the hopes that I will use these workouts in preparation for my next race I figured I might as well share them here!

Option 1

While I ran track for a very long time I hate running on tracks. To me, the endless circles are boring, I’d rather have a change of scenery. But since that’s not always an options, I’ll give you a workout which is all about a chance of pace.

  • Jog 100 meters
  • Run 200 meters
  • Walk 100 meters
  • Repeat 4 times

I’ve always liked these types of workouts because the constant changing gives me something to think about other than “how much longer????”. If you want to add some distance, repeat the whole thing two more times and you are practically at a 5k!

Option 2

If you are going for speed this is the workout for you. While this was a workout I couldn’t stand in high school it definitely helps improve split times. Another team in our league had shirts that said, “to run fast you must run fast”, and while we always rolled our eyes when we read it it’s true. If you want to get faster, you need to practice faster.

  • 12 x 400 meter sprints
  • Take a two minute rest in between each 400
  • Take a two-five minute rest in between each mile

You can calculate split times here. If you are training for a 5k, put in the time you’d like to finish it and select 400m for the split times and you are good to go!

Option 3

This one is a long one but it was another one of my favorites in high school because things are constantly changing. And it will get you 4 miles once you are done.

  • 400 meters
  • 800 meters
  • 1200 meters
  • 1600 meters
  • 1200 meters
  • 800 meters
  • 400 meters

Be sure to take a slow jog or a walk in between your sets!

That’s all I have for you today! Let me know your favorite track workout in the comments!

xox,

Marissa

Style

Make a Statement

pineapple earrings
The cutest pineapple earrings from SUGARFIX by BaubleBar. You can find them here.

Hello friends!

Before we get into today’s style post I just wanted to share something exciting: today is the second anniversary of Sunflowers & Seersucker! While my first blog post went live on August 28th, today is the day I created an Instagram and started sharing on my corner of the Internet! If you have any fun ideas for posts on the 28th let me know!

Statement earrings are always a good idea. While I tend to wear pearls every day, I also don’t shy away from the fact that sometimes you need to grab attention. And while pearls complete most looks, sometimes you just need something flashy.

Today I’m sharing my favorite SUGARFIX earrings because while I love BaubleBar, I am definitely balling on a budget. You can click on any of the pictures to be brought to Target’s website.

palmetto earrings

Nothing screams summer quite like palmettos which makes these a great summer earring. Whether you’re vacationing in the tropics or trying to bring the sunshine to you, these are a must. They also have a cute blush pink which really brings out the heart shape.

lobster earrings

I may just be the only New Englander who doesn’t like lobster rolls but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate these earrings. If you’ll be spending anytime on the Cape, in Maine, or anywhere in between this summer you’ll probably want to add these to your cart.

beach themed hoops

Palm Beach anyone? The bright colors and seashells make these a must for a tropical vacation! My favorite touch is definitely the starfish.

bright fringe earrings

If you’re looking for something bold, look no further. These fringe earrings are perfect to add a pop of color to any look. They also come in lilac and black if you’re looking for something more subdued. While they are a little more laid back in color, they still add the perfect finishing touch.

Let me know which pair is your favorite!

Stay stylish!

xox,

Marissa

Photos of the earrings are not mine and belong to Target!

Uncategorized, wellness

Wellness Wednesday: Bodies Alive

Today’s Wellness Wednesday is a little different than usual. While we’ll still be talking about the human body, it’s not in the way you may be expecting.

This Sunday I was at the Museum of Science in Boston/Cambridge (the museum is actually split between Boston and Cambridge) and I got to see the Body World exhibit and it was amazing!

I went to see Bodies: The Exhibition when I took anatomy in high school and now that I have taken two more years of anatomy I feel like my appreciation for the human body and traveling exhibitions has only grown.

One thing that really amazed me about Body Worlds was that it was educational beyond just the bodies. They had rooms dedicated to different body systems and would include education about how to remain healthy through diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices in each section. As someone who just learned about workplace ergonomics one of my favorite parts was the video about adjusting posture while sitting at a desk and a model about proper lifting technique. I may be on summer break but it was a great way to review some key concepts from last semester!

A section on cataracts. I had no idea Monet and Degas both had problems with vision and it was interesting to see what they saw vs what they painted.

My favorite part of the exhibit besides being able to look at the bodies was the section on centenarians. Body Worlds featured a few people who have made it to 100 years old and had them speak about their lifestyles. While diet and exercise was mentioned, they centenarians also talked about their role in society. One woman discussed how important it was for her to be able to still be an active participant in her life, she still volunteers in her community and spends time with friends and family.

I had to feature this one on the blog! Mobility is medicine!

When you leave Body Worlds you can pick up a chip and pledge to make a lifestyle choice that will improve your quality of life. I was happy to see “exercise more” had a ton of pledges but since mental health is just as important as physical health, I pledged to stress less.

“Eat less sugar” was another popular one and if we weren’t in peak ice cream eating season I may have put my chip there…

But let’s get to the good stuff! The bodies! They are preserved through a process called Plastination and were absolutely amazing. It’s no secret I am a huge nerd when it comes to this kind of thing but they were breathtaking. You could see each of the muscles so clearly and the bodies were posed in such interesting ways, I could go on and on.

It wasn’t just the bodies that were on display, they had the nervous system and plastic replicas of the heart and all of it’s arteries and veins. The nervous system had to be the wildest thing for me because I was able to just stare at the brachial plexus I had learned about in class and look at in our cadavers but there it was laid out in front of me connected to all of the other nerves in the body.

I know not everyone may want to actually see the bodies so here is your warning: the donors are below!!

Could you imagine being the person to set this up?

That’s it for my review of the exhibit itself but I encourage you to keep reading below and learn about how these companies get the bodies. It’s an important discussion to have so let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Something important to keep in mind when looking into these types of exhibits: where the donors come from. In our anatomy class our professor mentioned that while these traveling exhibits are informative they don’t always get their bodies in the right way. Body Worlds’ donors come from people in Europe and the United States who have agreed to donating their bodies to medical students and the general public to learn from. Body Worlds is even stricter with their donations now after discovering some of their bodies were coming from Russian human trafficking rings. In an interview with NPR the founder of Body Worlds said, “What I certainly never use for public exhibitions are unclaimed bodies, prisoners, bodies from mental institutions and executed prisoners.” The key phrase here is public exhibitions. The founder of Body Worlds has admitted to selling unclaimed bodies for educational purposes. These bodies come from Chinese medical schools and have no written confirmation.

Bodies: The Exhibition is another story. The spokesperson for the company openly admits the bodies on display are unclaimed. The founder of this traveling cadaver company used to work with Body Worlds and then created a rival. This is the exhibition I had seen in high school and while it was one of my favorite field trips I had ever gone on, knowing that these bodies may not have been acquired in an ethical manner makes me cringe. But at least they are honest about not being able to verify who was donated to them.

So what can you do with this information? Weigh the options. Both companies have some shady deals going on, whether it’s the bodies they display publicly or sell to medical schools they both obtain bodies in an unethical way. If this is something you are really interested in seeing you just have to decide if you’d rather look at the bodies that were donated or if you are okay with seeing bodies who were not willing but the company is upfront about the means of getting them.

All of the information on donors to Body Worlds and Bodies: The Exhibition came from two NPR articles from 2006. While it is older information, this is the most trustworthy website I could come across.

I’m a huge quote person so I loved that there were quotes about life scattered throughout Body Worlds.

That’s all I have for you this Wednesday! Stay tuned next week for a more traditional Wellness Wednesday post!

xox,

Marissa

What I'm Reading

What I’m Reading: Pursuits Unknown

Always carry a book in your bag! It gets you through long rides on the T and the long wait for your food.

 Today I am sharing my first book review from BookSparks! I shared in June that I was accepted as part of the #booksharks team and now I get to share my thoughts on the first ARC I have received!

I was instantly intrigued when I read the description. While science fiction isn’t my go-to I often think I can communicate with my dog telepathically so it seemed super interesting. The description also mentions a disease called “Disorientation” which is much like Alzheimer’s and I thought a human/dog search team that goes after missing people seems like it would be right up my alley. Add in the fact that one of the people who goes missing is a famous scientist and I was hooked.

While I enjoyed the storyline, the narrating style wasn’t for me. I felt like I was coming in in the middle of a series, it’s a science fiction/alternate reality kind of story and at the beginning I had trouble figuring out what kind of world we were living in. It was also difficult to keep the characters straight, I had a similar feeling to the third Crazy Rich Asians book where there is a lot happening and I need to take the time to remember who everyone is.

However, this was a really quick read. I feel like I flew through it! The story was compelling and I was intrigued the whole way through to figure out what the answer was. There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle to be fit together but overall it was a good read.

Reading the author’s note at the back I discovered she wrote this as part of NaNoWriMo! National Novel Writing Month was something I had taken part in when I was in high school and I loved that that’s where this idea was born.

Overall, I would say that if you love dogs, science-fiction, a good mystery, or any combination of the three this book is worth picking up. For me it was more of a stylistic thing that didn’t match up for me so it’s worth a try! You’ll never know if you don’t pick it up!

Happy reading! Let me know what’s in your TBR in the comments!

xox,

Marissa

wellness

Wellness Wednesdays

Hello friends!

I am starting to bring Wellness Wednesdays back! As a physical therapy student we spent so much time during the spring semester talking about health and wellness promotion and getting people active. The CDC says adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise a week. Since I am a group exercise instructor I wanted to share some easy workouts with you guys that can be done at home.

As a group ex instructor I see the value in creating a community to exercise. If I don’t head to the gym with a plan sometimes I leave feeling like I didn’t accomplish too much. However if I plan to take a Zumba class I know I will show up and work hard. So even if you aren’t going to the gym to do these workouts definitely reach out to see if a friend wants to join you. Having other people to help you be accountable makes it a little easier.

Easy ways to incorporate moderate-intensity exercise into your day:

  • Walking/jogging/running around your neighborhood. If you feel like you don’t have time to set aside to do this, try walking to your errands. The post office and the library are about two miles away from my house, so some days I end up walking there. You can also run there and then walk back once you’ve picked up your stuff!
  • Find YouTube videos of exercises you want to do! If you don’t have a gym membership or feel like you can’t make t to the gym on a certain day check to see what’s available on YouTube. Here are some of my favorites: POPSUGAR Fitness has great Zumba and kickboxing classes. BohoBeautiful has an awesome 21 Day Pilates Challenge that I wrote about awhile back. Alo Yoga is always posting yoga videos and mindfulness challenges to their channel. And The Fitness Marshall is my absolute fav! He has fitness dance classes to popular songs. This is something that my whole freshman year floor did together all the time so it always brings back good memories. My favorites are: Dessert and 7 Rings.
  • Bike around your neighborhood! If you live in a city and need a bike you can probably rent one! Most cities have bike sharing programs now and in Boston you can rent one for $2.50 per half hour!
  • Find out what’s being offered! Now that summer is here, there are a ton of discounts floating around. You can try a new yoga studio for $30 for 30 days, or you can see what’s offered. A lot of parks will have free or super cheap exercise classes just to get people outside!

Here are some workouts I’m planning to share on the blog soon!

  • Barre
  • Yoga
  • Abs
  • Track/Bleachers

You can find out more about the guidelines the CDC has for different groups here!

Have a healthy, happy Wednesday!

xox,

Marissa