Spring loaded

As a company of book lovers, we equate any change in the season with an opportunity to talk about the books we are reading, planning to read, or have recently read. Here in the northern hemisphere, spring is springing, bringing days of longer light, chirpier birds, and a feeling of excitement about the coming weeks and months of warmer weather and beach days.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

For me, any spring read is one I can take out into the garden with me, but since I live on the east coast of Canada, and spring is being quite pokey this year, I have to content myself with reading near a big window, supervising the slow melting of the snow that currently covers my garden. To that end, there are a couple of old gardening books my parents, both avid gardeners, passed down to me. I page through them every early spring, dreaming of getting my hands dirty when the big melt finally comes. I’m also digging in to Baseball Life Advice by Stacey May Fowles as that season once again heats up. And lately I’m finding I really want to prioritize the voices of women. To that end, Penelope by Sue Goyette always has a place on my shelf, as does anything by Alice Munro, in this case the amazing Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. And I’m loving dipping into Startle and Illuminate, a book of writing advice from Carol Shields.

 

 

Rounding out this stack are reference books that feel luxurious. I want to eat everything that Deb Perelman cooks, so I love reading—and cooking from—her book Smitten Kitchen Every Day. The Hidden Lives of Trees I am slowly making my way through, a pace I’ll likely pick up as the leaves return outside my windows. And then there is Lists of Note, a perfectly odd compendium of lists by people like Sylvia Plath and Jack Kerouac, Edith Wharton and Captain Beefheart. As a lifelong lover of lists of all kinds, I am infatuated with this book. The thing about lists is that they can reveal much more than mundane details—everything from love to grief, to writing advice, to notes on how to be a good person are detailed here. And finally, an Italian translation of The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I don’t read this one so much as dream of being able to read it. Still, I like to open it and practice my pronunciation and challenge my comprehension.

 

Publisher and author Katy Bowman‘s stack


What are “spring reads”? To me they are those books that are grounded in the season OR they are books that help you do some deep cleaning. I read Animal Vegetable Miracle every year as I try to remind myself why I want to get out in the garden. Gathering Moss, Mind of the Raven, and The Home Place are books about an aspect of the natural world—and spring is where you’ll find me watching more birds, sitting on bare earth trying to pick things apart with my hands and eyes. Eat Well Move Well Live Well—while this is “52 Weeks of” book, I’m going to pick just a couple small chapters (“Fermenting” and “I Have Needs,” if you must know) and make that part of tidying house. Along those same lines, How to be a Better Person is like Spring Cleaning for my soul. “400+ ways to make a difference in yourself—and the world”, and I seem to need reminders for about 395 of them!

 

Co-author of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well Roland Denzel’s stack

That big book is by Seth Godin, and it’s called What does it sound like when you change your mind? It got it when I attended one of Seth’s talks. It’s really heavy. Fifteen pounds, and because I didn’t know I was going to get it, walked to his talk. That meant I had to walk back. With the book. A couple of miles. That, my friends, is nutritious movement. The perfect spring workout. By the way, the book is so big and heavy that we put if on a book stand like it’s the Bible or a unabridged dictionary. We read it every day. It’s all kinds of big.

Next up is Orient Express, by Silvena Rowe. It’s our second cookbook of hers. It’s like if Mediterranean and Bulgarian cuisine had a love child that was extremely photogenic. Totally worth it. The book is filled with amazing fresh vegetables and vibrant spring colors that will probably look brown on Instagram.

Dawn Again was hidden on my wife’s side of the bed, and our ‘spring clean’ brought it forward, so now I can finish it. Good timing, because there so much about the outdoors in there. Spring is the perfect time for the inspiration.

Tacos, by Mark Miller. This gift from Galina has an amazing recipe for Tacos Al Pastor. I love everything about tacos, Galina, and al pastor.

Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m., by Sam Wasson. This is all about Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The making of, the angst of, Audrey, Truman, Fred. All of it. In Truman Capote’s book, Holly is a prostitute, and I’m reading this book and I’m like “OMG, I was so blind…” How embarrassing.THEN… we watched again, and I wasn’t blind. Holly is not a prostitute in the movie at all. They made her a ‘society girl’ or something like that. Something that doesn’t really exist, like the fun, jazzy cocktail parties that we wish actually went on all the time in the early ’60s. I’ll probably watch it again soon. I love that movie.

That thing on the top is my kindle. That’s where I keep most of my science fiction and vampire stories. Vampires prefer winter, so for spring, I’ll be focusing on the stars.

Debbie Beane keeps the wheels moving at our sister company Nutritious Movement, but she’s just as big a word nerd as the rest of us.

 

All of my books right now are centered around growing and exploring, which are often put on hold as the snow piles up around here. We’re still waiting for it to melt (to stop falling, really) so some vicarious living through books is in order. Words for the Wild is my trail-side inspiration, and I’m re-visiting the essays with my kids as we get closer to backpacking season. Closer to the Ground is one I’ve been meaning to read for over a year now, but it starts in the spring (or rather, as the author is Ready For Spring To Start), so now’s the time to begin. California Field Atlas: exploring my home state anew with this beautiful inspiration to travel and be outside. Robbing the Bees is a cool history of humans and honey, as I try to decide whether this is the year we try again with bees. The Earth Speaks is a childhood friend, also re-reading with my kids. Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate is about gardening both the earth and the mind, apropos of spring, and July and Winter is to help me figure out how to grow more than just lettuce and peas in my short Tahoe growing season.

 

Co-author of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well Galina Denzel’s stack

 

My spring reads are the books that point me back to what is wanting to be born or be renewed. Right now, my spring reading shelfie looks like this: Blue Horses by Mary Oliver and The Chaos of Longing by k.y. Robinson—I read and write poetry, and the more writing wants to emerge, the more I find inspiration and company in poetry. There is a discipline in being available to the writing that wants to happen and reading others’ poetry helps me stay open to it. The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, as there are beautiful daily encouragements to keep looking out, yet staying connected to looking in. Belonging by Toko-pa Turner is one of the most moving reads I’ve held in a while, and invites us to embrace our deepest nature, and re-remember the skill of belonging and find our way back, both rooted and free. The archetypes in the book, like spring, are eternal and repeating, and invite what is eternal in me to show up. Standout 2.0 is my reminder that I have practical strengths in the world, and is a great teacher in how to show up at work and in the marketplace, with ease and grace, showing my greatest talents. It’s very affirming and has been a great professional companion for me and our work online. And last, but not least, I am re-reading Dynamic Aging—as I have committed myself to support my goldener students and create a local book club for them. I am inspired by the stories and women in the book and am preparing to pass on the spirit of Dynamic Aging—if there is a message of continuous renewal and hope through movement, this book is it.

Co-author of Dynamic Aging Lora Woods’ stack

My reading this spring is Rick Steves’ Portuguese Phrase Book and Dictionary + his Portugal.  Fado music is in my immediate future as my brother and I are backpacking (and driving) around Portugal for 30 days. My most common phrase will be Fala ingles? or Do you speak English?

Propriometrics Press designer Zsofi Koller’s stack

 

Spring is a time of expansion and movement, and these are all titles, that to me, explore pushing the edges of our current realities. Be it against our social and mental constructs (Fight Club), our gendered boundaries (Women Who Run with the Wolves), our own natural settings and movement (Wild) or the fantastical explorations of the imagination (The Space Trilogy), I love how spring creates new growth and fresh possibilities.

What about you? Are there books  to which you return each spring? Or is there a stack of new-to-you reads just waiting for your attention? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know!


#practicewhatyoupublish and other tips for holiday season happiness from our authors

For the last several months, I’ve been participating in a challenge to walk a hundred kilometres in a month, alongside two of my siblings, and a bunch of our childhood friends. This month, the online group in which we report our progress and egg each other on, is called “100 km in Crazy December…We Got This!!”—a nod to the way December seems to zip by in a cloud of twinkle lights and shortbread cookies, with one’s best intentions scattered like so much shredded wrapping paper after a gift-exchange frenzy. Without that kind of external motivation and accountability, I know it’s easy for me to forget I live in a body at all. My month is shaping up to include lots of time at my desk (book rewrites are coming my way this week, plus there’s the work I do here at Propriometrics Press and on Katy Says, the bi-weekly podcast from our author Katy Bowman), lots of time at my sewing machine (making Christmas presents for family and friends, and yes, for myself!), and lots of time in the car (my husband and I drive eighteen hours to see my family at Christmas).

All of this, plus the usual hustle and bustle of the season, could set me up for a stressed out, sedentary month. But I’ve been thinking about the hashtag we use on social media: #practicewhatyoupublish, and I’ve asked some of our authors to share with me—and with you—their best tips. We hope you’ll find some inspiration for your own life here!

 

Galina Denzel, the co-author of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, writes about meditation in that book’s chapter “Meditate on This.” But, she notes, “sitting meditation comes easier in those times when I have relative peace, life is in flow and I am not facing huge challenges. But with the holidays, there is more stress, more expenses, more travel, more preparations in our home. On top of it, we have a special holiday program, and our students need our attention, so technically, we put a lot on our plates.” So here’s how Galina embodies #practicewhatyoupublish:

While our life is rich with many amazing holiday experiences, it becomes harder to wake up and pull my cushion, sit and just drop into what’s in my body. And herein lies the paradox: the times when I most need to attend to my inner world is the time when I am least wanting to do it, because…there is stuff to do. Around this time of year I choose to do walking meditations instead of sitting meditations. It’s a way for me to combine two of my favorite ways to stay connected with myself at a time when walking comes easier than sitting. This way my walk to the store can become an opportunity to drop in and be with myself and attend to emotions, thoughts, sensations, connections that are tugging at my heart. I can do it on my way to or from work. I can do it while walking with my partner.

I usually choose one of three anchors for my walks. On some walks, I choose to attend to my breath, as I walk and become aware of certain thoughts, events, sensations, emotions or connections, I keep my awareness on my breath. This way I have a line connecting my attention to my breath and my whole experience organizes around it. A second anchor may be the ground. As I walk, I feel my contact with the ground—right, left, right, left—aware of the textures under my feet. A third anchor may be the colors around me—as my attention drifts I always come back to the colors and notice here is red, here is yellow. You can choose your own way to organize your walking meditations, and make this idea your own.

Practicing walking meditation is all about setting the right intention and can really transform how you feel through the holidays. To make it easier, I am sharing one of the walking meditations from our holiday program. Have a listen. (http://eatmovelive52.com/walking-meditation/)

Joan Virginia Allen is a co-author of Dynamic Aging:

During the holiday season, I am in the car a lot. Great opportunity to practice head ramping as explained in Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Whole-Body Mobility. For more information on head ramping, check out our blog entry “As Long as You Breathe, Change is Possible” at www.dynamicaging4life.com.

 

 

Doniga Markegard is the author of Dawn Again:

Winter brings time to breathe. Winter brings people together to sit around the fire and talk about the season, talk about our dreams, reflect, and imagine the future. I have been thinking a lot about the future. When you have kids it is hard not to. The changing climate, political system, and the rapid pace of tech growth are all subjects to talk about around the fire. There is something about sitting around the fire with other people that brings about a depth of honest conversation that is difficult to achieve in everyday passing.

I recently had the chance to sit around the fire at Wilderness Awareness School while I was on my book tour in Washington. This was the same fire I wrote about in Dawn Again. That was 20 years ago. It has been burning nearly daily since that time. Each year a new group of youth comes to gather around that fire and talk, cry, dance, dream, and imagine the future.

Pictured here, Doniga Markegard and her son Larry teaching Holistic Context-Setting to the Wilderness Awareness School apprentices

Katy Bowman, author of eight books, including Movement Matters:

My books are always about movement—specifically natural movement, transitioning your body to handle more natural movement, and where movement can fit back into your life. When it comes to movement, the holidays can be stressful because with the addition of so many extra “things to do,” the bout of daily exercise is the first to go. For many, it’s the least connected thing to other elements of life and so is the easiest thing to set aside when all the other plans come in.

Katy’s Hiking Advent invitation from 2016

The way I #PracticeWhatYouPublish is to, obviously, keep moving. I choose less convenient methods (read lots of things by hand!) of processing raw or foraged ingredients. I also like to celebrate with movement—to infuse the holiday with movement—so that we can move together (yay Vitamin Community!). I create exercise advents for my social media followers, giving them one exercise each day. I send out a “Week Before Christmas Hiking Countdown” letting our friends know where we’ll be hiking and at what time, and that they (or even just their kids) are invited. We hold a holiday-eve brunch for all our friends, often eating outside and then heading out for long walk down a local trail. In short, I’ve worked to make the holidays ABOUT moving. Movement is not only a great way through which to celebrate, movement should be celebrated. Movement is the gift!

Shelah Wilgus is a co-author of Dynamic Aging:

During the holiday season and any other time, I make sure to calf stretch several times a day. I leave a half foam roller in front of my sink in the bathroom. That way I can do a double calf stretch while brushing my teeth or just washing up. Detailed instruction for doing the calf stretch can be found in Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Whole-Body Mobility.

Alison Bernhoft is the author of Entropy Academy: How to Succeed at Homeschooling Even if You Don’t Homeschool:

I have a couple of Entropy-Busting Ideas which helped me keep the chaos at bay, at least as regards Christmas stockings:  early in the year, I hung up plastic grocery bags, one per child, on a rail in my closet kept exclusively for that purpose. (It’s a short rail, and we have six kids, in case you were wondering.)  As the months passed, the bags filled with odd items that I found on sale, with mementos of some of the trips we had made, maybe a CD from a concert we had particularly enjoyed. Then it was a simple matter to add the traditional English piece of silver money, apple and satsuma in the toe, then fill it up chocolates, brain puzzles, and a giant plastic candy cane filled with M&Ms.

Warning! Once wrapped, small presents become impossible to tell apart! THE ONLY WAY TO FILL STOCKINGS AND STAY SANE is to use different paper for each  child, (but the same paper for all that child’s presents.)

And Alison’s daughter Lorna adds:
The distinctive thing we did that comes to mind is extending the season and acknowledging the Magi by exchanging books on January 6, the Epiphany. Strong emphasis on extending the season!

As for me, I’m excited to apply some of these tips to my December, and I hope you are, too! In my family, we called January 6 Little Christmas, and there was always a special meal, and a small gift for everyone around the table. I loved the way it brought forward the warmth of the season into the new year. From everyone here at Propriometrics Press, may that warmth be your companion long after the last gift is unwrapped and the twinkle lights are packed away.

 

 


Nature school rules

As kids and parents everywhere get ready to get back to school—whatever that might mean in households and communities across the continent and beyond—we’re getting ready to publish Dawn Again, by Doniga Markegard. As well as being a memoir of Doniga’s time as a wildlife tracker and regenerative rancher, it is also a love letter to a nature-based education.

 

Doniga was fifteen years old and rebelling hard when she finally found her way to the Wilderness Awareness School near her home in Washington State. Attending high school through WAS changed Doniga’s life for the better (you can read more about that here), and the experience continues to ripple and reverberate through her adult life, and into the lives of her children, all of whom are also students at their local nature school in San Mateo County, California. And Doniga has kept her hand in, too. She’s an instructor at Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, bringing what she learned in nature school to a new generation of students.

Because Doniga is passionate about nature education, she’s looking forward to celebrating the launch of Dawn Again with an interactive Facebook Live event on Wednesday, November 1. We’re inviting nature school administrators and parents to take part, as well as anyone who’s curious about a nature-based education and whether it’s right for their family. The event is called What Comes After Nature School?, and it’s free and open to all who are interested.

The details:

What: An interactive Facebook Live event called What Comes After Nature School?

Who: Doniga Markegard, regenerative rancher, nature school graduate, author of forthcoming memoir Dawn Again: Tracking the Wisdom of the Wild

When: Wednesday, November 1 at 4pm-5pm PST 

Where: Online, wherever you are! It’s all happening on our Facebook page

Why: To hear about Doniga’s nature school experience, the ways in which it prepared her for college and her adult life, and why she chooses it for her own children now, and to have your own questions about nature education answered

We look forward to seeing you there!


Golden days

I’ve written before about how we celebrate good news, here at Propriometrics Press. Well, the emoji strings were flying thick and fast Saturday night, as news broke that we had won not one but TWO gold medals at the Foreword Indies Book of the Year Awards.

Three of our books were nominated for Health Book of the Year: Diastasis Recti and Movement Matters, both by Katy Bowman, and Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, by Galina Denzel and Roland Denzel. Movement Matters was also nominated in the Essays category. Much to our delight, Movement Matters won the gold medal for Essays, and Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well picked up gold for Health.

Here’s how that news was received in our virtual office on Saturday:

 

Once we’d cleaned up after the confetti cannon, frolicked for a while in nature, and consumed all the virtual champagne and tacos, I had a chance to ask our winning authors what it meant to them to win a Foreword Indie.

“Although I’ve written many books, I still think of myself as a sort of blogger-turned-author,” says Katy Bowman. “Most of what I write is on the internet—in short bursts on social media or in the occasional article. And even though I write about the importance of movement to our physiological, social, and ecological models, my books have always been relegated to FITNESS categories, making it challenging to spread the idea that movement is critical to our bodies, lives, and planet to anyone but exercisers. Movement Matters won Best Essays! In a contest open to essays on all topics, with judges who are into books, and who are not necessarily into movement or exercise or fitness or even health! I’m excited because it means Movement Matters is accessible—interesting, even—to those outside of fitness, which is the most critical step in bringing the idea that movement matters to the world.”

Roland Denzel echoes that sentiment. “We’re honored and thrilled to have been nominated,” he says, “but overjoyed to have won. It’s wonderful to be recognized for our hard work, and when it’s by people outside of the health and fitness industries, it’s even better. This is the audience we’ve always wanted to reach and help, so when they appreciate our work, we know we’ve succeeded.”

And finally, I asked our editor in chief, Penelope Jackson, what went through her mind when she heard the news two of our books had won gold—especially in light of how new this company is, and how small our list is. She resisted the urge to reply in emoji strings and celebratory gifs (for once), and instead told me: “What I thought of first was all of the hours Roland, Galina, and Katy put into writing their magnificent books; all the time I and our other editors spent working with the text; the time Zsofi spent designing and laying them out; all the time you, Steph, have spent managing distribution and sales and printing. So much of the work that goes into a book travelling from an author’s mind to a reader’s hands is invisible, and that’s why these awards are meaningful. They are a recognition of all that uncelebrated labour. We know how special and brilliant our authors are, and we know that every minute of our work has been more than worth it—I’m so glad other people see it too.”

Emoji tacos and champagne for all!


So, that was something!

So, in case you missed it, one of our books was on The Today Show on Friday, no big deal (totally a very big deal). First of all, what a total thrill to see Katy Bowman and some of her Dynamic Aging co-authors on national television!  And of course, the idea that millions more people were able to gain access to the ideas and possibilities presented in Dynamic Aging is the real fuel for our collective fire around these parts.

So that part was awesome enough, and then around mid-day Eastern time, Dynamic Aging started charging up Amazon’s best sellers list, finally coming to rest in the number two position, where it stayed for just about twenty four hours. At this writing, it’s still firmly in the top 50 books. You guys, out of more than thirty million titles. Let me give you a bit of perspective on this. Propriometrics Press is a very small company, with one full-time employee and a ragged band of independent contractors. We’ve all been together in person exactly one time, and it was just a few months ago. Getting our book on The Today Show was a massive accomplishment. Watching it climb the charts and compete alongside books published by the Big Five was a pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming experience. Seeing it still sitting comfortably in the top 100 books today—I don’t know how to explain the feeling. We do not do a lot of resting on our laurels, but we are pretty good at celebrating our success with long strings of celebratory emoji, like this:

The part of all this that remains the most awesome is hearing from readers. So, if you’ve had a chance to look at Dynamic Aging, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us a line in the comments if you like, and if the spirit moves you, maybe review the book on Amazon—reviews of all kinds help other readers decide whether a particular book is for them.

And now, it’s on to the next! (see under: laurels, not resting on). We are getting ready to release an expanded edition of Move Your DNA in just a few weeks. Tell you more about that soon!


Honors and mentions: Foreword Reviews Indie Awards!

Foreword Reviews announced its 2016 Indie Award nominees yesterday and Propriometrics Press is thrilled to announce that three of our books are on the list! Roland and Galina Denzel’s Eat Well Move Well Live Well is nominated for best health book, Katy Bowman’s Diastasis Recti is also nominated for best health book, and Movement Matters, also by Bowman, is nominated in both the Health and Essays category. Winners will be announced during the 2017 American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago on June 24, 2017. Good luck and congrats to our authors and the team that midwifed these books into the world!