Mental Health Books and Practices that Rock

   I couldn’t let May go by without saying something about mental health, not when it has been such a critical thing in my life.  The past year and a half I actually took off of school so I could learn more about my brain’s ways.   In that time I read a few books, and in reading them, I feel more in control.  Now that I’m back in school doesn’t mean I’m done learning though, it’s going to be a lifetime of learning and keeping my health in check.  As my contribution to this wonderful month of awareness, I’m sharing my thoughts on some books I’ve read and some things that help me on a daily basis that could help you feel more in control of your life too.

There are affiliate links in this post, which means that if you purchase anything through these links I’ll receive commission, which helps keep this site running.

ADHD According to Zoë: The Real Deal on Relationships, Finding Your Focus, and Finding Your Keys

This is the first book I read on mental health.  Zoë Kessler is an ADHD journalist and blogger who was diagnosed in her adult years.  In her book, at the beginning of each chapter she tells a story of an experience she has had.  She then ties it in with research and how it relates to her disorder in an entertaining way.  I enjoyed her book for her relatable stories, how she writes like she’s talking to a friend, and as a nice introduction into the ADHD world.  However, her book was more stories then facts so other resources are necessary to have a total understanding of navigating life with ADHD.

The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

So I’ve talked about this book before in this post, and maybe it’s not technically a mental health book but this book opened my eyes.  I have the worst worst worst trouble with asking people for anything.  With a little help from this book and my unashamed partner, It’s been a lot easier to ask people things.  Sometimes you can’t just rely on yourself and Google, and you have to turn to people who will and want to help you, especially if you are a creative.  In her book, Amanda Palmer shares her own life experiences with asking for help, which include having the highest crowdfunded album of all time.

Hardcore Self Help: F**k Anxiety
The name of this book perfectly sets the tone.  Robert Duff explains anxiety in about 50 pages in a way that’s entertaining and on everyone’s level.  Inside is an explanation of the types of anxiety there are, ways of treatment and a killer breathing exercise will aid you against panic attacks.

Hardcore Self Help: F**k Depression

I actually haven’t finished this book, but what I have read has helped me.  This one is a bit longer, as it needs to be, at about 120 pages.  Dr. Duff approaches the topic of depression in the same hardcore tone (in an appropriate way), and goes very in depth on the many facets of depression.  On days when I am feeling depressed and realize it, I’ll pick up this book as an attempt to not sink any deeper into it.

The Bell Jar

This book shook me up.  It was written in 1963 by Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide a month after it’s publication date.  The main character, Esther, is going through some things mentally at a time (1953) when they didn’t handle mental illness very effectively.  In her story, she begins as a prominent University student, then her mental health takes a toll on her.  This book also exposed me to the history of posture pictures, and the fact that someone somewhere has a naked picture of Hillary Clinton.

Practices that Rock/How I Keep My Health in Check:

  1. Diet and Exercise
    It’s drilled into our heads for a reason that these are good things to do, my life is so much better when I incorporate some good food and move around.  I eat what makes me feel healthy, running is the best stress relief, yoga helps connect my mind and body (love my local place and Yoga With Adriene videos), and I love taking my dog on walks.
  2. Journal
    I used to journal all the time when I was younger, and I decided to pick it up again.  I went and picked out the beautiful journal below.  When I’m in the mood, I journal.  For me, journaling is a great way for me to sort through all the thoughts going through my head.  Also, it’s a nice way just to see that I have gotten through good days, as well as bad.
  3. Meditation
    When I hear something will help me, I like to try it.  I never imagined I would ever be someone advocating for, let alone actually practicing meditation.  Meditation helps me clear my mind, focus, relieve stress, and let go.  I started out using Headspace, something I would recommend if you want to give it a go.
  4.  Talking to Someone
    It’s hard to talk to people about sometimes, but it’s so relieving afterwards, whether it’s with someone who’s going through the same thing, someone who’s a great listener, or my psychiatrist.  There is also a wonderful online community.  I haven’t tried therapy before but I’d like to, and am looking into seeing if I could at my University.
  5. Learning
    I am always going to be learning more about my mental health because it interests me, but also because it helps me stay at the top of my game.  I consume YouTube videos, books, articles, websites, blogs, and ask my doctor questions.

I am not a doctor, these are just things that help me.

I’m glad to live in a time where it’s okay to talk about sensitive topics like this one.
If you have any questions or comments you can email me or comment below : )

What has helped you?  Any books or resources you like?


Independent Bookstore Day 2017

I love this time of year, there are three very special Saturdays three weekends in a row.  Last week there was Record Store Day(and Earth Day!), tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day, and next Saturday is Free Comic Book Day.  I’ll be making my rounds at one of our local Avid Bookshops tomorrow.  Independent bookstores are wonderful because they house so much literary culture and are such a special experience to peruse.  I love our bookstore because they are an active part of the community, house secret signed copies of books, and they have handwritten notes under some books with their personal reviews.  In honor of this day, I wanted to share some books I recommend, as well as some I’ve been itching to read as of late.

This post isn’t sponsored or affiliated with any company, but I want to encourage you to support an independent bookstore tomorrow, whether in person or through a purchase online.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? -Maria Semple

This was the book I found last year on this day.  On trips before I had noticed it, read the message of recommendation but decided it was out of my reading comfort zone.  For that reason, this time I decided to get it and I’m glad I did.  I took it along on my vacation, a cruise, not even realizing I was bringing along a book about a family that wins a vacation on a cruise to Antarctica.  The book is organized into letters, emails, and memories along with those told from the viewpoint of 15 year old Bee.  It’s in seven parts, each dedicated to telling a part of the story of the disappearance of Bee’s mother, Bernadette.  Bernadette is a different mother than those around her, and she clashes with the die hard school affiliated, structured, event organizing mom’s that operate around her.  Her past has something to do with this, and Bee hunts for any evidence to tie what happened to her in the past to what is happening to her in the present in order to find out why she disappeared the day they were supposed to leave for their much awaited and anticipated cruise.  Throughout a series of events, they find out Bernadette isn’t so different from the other mom’s after all.

The Art of Asking -Amanda Palmer

I find inspiration in other people and seeing how they accomplish their goals.  I didn’t know much about Amanda Palmer, except that she was married to Neil Gaiman and makes music, before I read this book.  I hadn’t even seen her Ted Talk which has a lot to do with the premise of her book.  She was just an intriguing person to me and my partner, Ty, had just finished reading her book and recommended I read it.  I found so much in reading her book, especially as someone who has so much trouble with asking for help.  Amanda is truly a free spirit and a gifted writer.  Her experiences have been catered by asking, dreaming, loving, hurting, and never giving up.  She has shaped a life unlike any other I’ve known and is someone I very much support and admire.


Ready Player One -Ernest Cline
This book is quite dear to me, it helped me to rediscover a love of reading I had forgotten.  Thank you uncles for recommending and letting me borrow.  If you have a sentimental spot for the pop culture of the eighties or love a great book about adventure and alternate realities, this is the perfect book for you.  I love the world Ernest Cline creates in Ready Player One, a virtual reality induced way of existence.  Ready Player One is the story of  Wade Watts, a boy who is not at all noteworthy, until the day when his name shows up on the top score list of a worldwide contest for the complete estate of the person who gave everyone the virtual world they exist in.  His world is turned upside down, as he now has to fight for his life and the world’s fate as he tries to win the contest.  This was one of those books I was so sad about finishing, because it was such a great read.  In March 2018 the movie comes out and I can not wait to see it.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) –Mindy Kaling

A lover of The Mindy Project, I wanted to know more about Mindy Kaling.  Her book is so funny, I had to read aloud some parts to Ty.  It’s an easy read, and inspired me to watch the office, which she helps write, and is fantastic (just get through the first season).  Her humor and wit are similar to that you’d find on the Mindy Project, as her character is based on herself.  It was nice to figure out how she became who she is and this is a very entertaining and light read.


My Reading Wish List:

1. Make It Up -Marie Rayma
A week or two ago I stumbled upon an A Beautiful Mess article suggesting this book.  I’ve been wanting to make my own makeup for a while, I’ve been leading up to it by making my own body care items and collecting ingredients.  I’d love to have this book just to have a physical guide on how to make my own products, plus it seems Marie Rayma has already gone through the experimenting process.
2. The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo -Amy Schumer
I love what Amy Schumer does in the world of comedy and her movie Train Wreck is so great.  I’ve been wanting to read this book since before it came out, and still am very much interested in reading it still.
3. Silent Spring –Rachel Carson
Next month I’m taking an Environmental Studies maymester and I’ve decided to spend the month learning more about humanity’s impact on the environment as it’s something that interests me.  I’ve always wanted to read Silent Spring, so I thought it would be perfect timing and not a bad idea to have a book for reference.
4. Today Will Be Different -Maria Semple
I liked Where’d You Go Bernadette, and I want to read another piece of work Maria Semple has created.

Reading is something I’ve always enjoyed doing and benefit from every time I do.  I may not end up picking up any of these tomorrow, but I’ll get to them, besides the fun of going to Independent Bookstores is picking up something you didn’t expect to.

Be my Goodreads friend! I’m on there as Madison Kourajian.
Follow me on Instagram to see what I pick up tomorrow : )
What Independent Bookstore do you love?
Any environmental books you’d like to recommend?
Comment below!


Spring Style Wish List – Under $30!

I have no idea what is in style.  I am not a fashion expert (even though I’m well read* on the subject), nor do I claim to be, but it’s so much fun to put together outfits.  My closet is mostly made up of thrifted, gifted, and handed down clothing and I love it.  I am a very picky shopper and I like to collect special pieces that I can wear in a variety of ways.  One day I would like to learn how to make my own clothes, and revamp clothing like Coolirpa does, but for now you’ll find me headed straight for the clearance section.

*If you decide to get this hilarious book, I’ll receive commission  : )

Image result for laci grey swimsuit adore me
Grey Strappy Swimsuit
 It is very difficult to find swimsuits that cater to my size.  I have yet to find one that fits me well in all places and holds everything in, at least at a reasonable price.  It limits my options, but this simple swimsuit is cute but sexy, and I love the extra straps.  Additionally, the bottoms look like they will actually cover everything and are included with the top (Who decided swim pieces needed to be sold separately???).

Laura Cross Back Pinafore Dress
Pinafore Dress
This dress may resemble an apron, but I don’t care.  It would be a very versatile piece to have, and easy to accessorize with.  Bonus, I could get away with wearing it year round if I styled it right.

White Sleeveless Asymmetric Hem Flare Dress
White Asymmetrically Hemmed Dress
It terrifies me that this dress is white and I can only imagine the stains awaiting it if it ever becomes a part of my closet.  Regardless, I love the way this dress flows, and it would be super easy to style.

Detailed Harem Pants
These pants look super comfy, and comfort is the most important thing to me when I dress.  I hate wearing outfits I’m constantly adjusting, or skirts I have to pull down repeatedly.  If I’m in a dress or skirt, I will always have yoga shorts underneath it, because frolicking shouldn’t be limited by your outfit.  I don’t currently have any harem pants, and I need to get my hands on a pair of these as well as a pair of palazzo pants.

Silver Leg Chain
One day a couple of years ago, I was raiding the clearance rack and found a leg chain for $5.  Of course, I snagged it and had no idea how much I would end up wearing it.  It’s broken now, but I fixed it and made it work as long as I could, through the use of safety pins, ribbon, and my trusty glue gun.  I got compliments on it all the time, and it added a lot to my outfits.  I would love to have another one to wear out in the same manner.

Gold Hair Crown
This is just beautiful, and it would add a little extra something to any outfit.  I love how Sunaina added an elastic headband, because these things are not easy to keep on sometimes.


I didn’t expect to write this post today, but I had fun doing it.  Now I’m off to catch up on life, decorate my dreads, and create some things for myself and for you on Etsy.  What are you excited to wear this spring?

☮ Madison

Board Games for Two

I’m a little bit of a game enthusiast.  Every once in a while, I have to get rid of games in order to make room for more.  I love to go to secondhand shops and rummage through the games.  Occasionally I have to make a couple pieces or substitute parts it’s missing but it’s worth it when you get a game like Bezzerwizzer, that’s normally around $50, for $2.

Ty and I love to play games together.  We actually have tried to play every three+ player game we have with two people.  I have learned there is absolutely no way to play Clue with two players, but Outburst is pretty easy to make into a two player dual.

I am part of Amazon’s affiliate program, this means if you follow the links on my site and make a purchase, I’ll receive commission, which helps keep this site running.

Here are five board games we love to play together:

  1. Parcheesi
    The version we have is Pacheesi, which is the same, just a cheaper version with a smaller board.  We like to play with a couple house rules I grew up with (didn’t know they were house rules at the time) to make the game a little more interesting.  In this game, the goal is to get your four pawns around the board and into your home.  However, it’s not that easy.  You can use your pawns to form blockades that other players can’t get past or hop safe spaces to your home.  Also, if you knock someone out you can move an additional 20 spaces.  Sometimes, we like to play this where each of us controls two different colors, if we’re feeling a little wild that night.

  2. Monopoly
    We have the Monopoly Here and Now: World Edition, which we found for four dollars at a used bookstore in Tennessee.  I just love a good game steal, and it was even better that all the pieces were still in tact.  This game comes with six game tokens, which are different in every box, representing things from around the world.  The big difference between this version and the original is the money.  First, the money is in thousands and millions, which was easy to get used to.  The big difference is there is no paper money.  Instead of paper money, everyone has a plastic credit card and an electronic banking unit is used to track payments and balances.  I was a little skeptical at first, but I actually don’t mind playing with it, it’s pretty simple to use and makes it easy to set the game up.  When we have the time to play, it’s fun to purchase and trade different places around the world in this classic, wonderful game.

    This is the game all set up:

  3. Life
    Again, we have a different version from the original.  We have the Life: Simpsons Edition version of the game.  When my parents were getting rid of some of their games, I was lucky enough to inherit it.  This game is the same as the original, but each space is characterized by Simpsons culture and events from the show.  In this version you can adopt Sherri and Terri, become Mr. Plow, and reap the benefits for being mistaken as Mr. Burns heir.  This game is nostalgic for me, having grown up with the Simpsons, and having played a lot of Life.  I like to play Life whenever I want to play a long game, but not necessarily Monopoly long.

  4. Bezzerwizzer
    Last night I actually played this game for the millionth time, and still there are plenty of questions in this trivia game I haven’t come across.  In Bezzerwizzer, there are 20 different categories like technology, humans, sports and games, science, nature, traditions and beliefs, business world, and the one we dread, architecture.  Each round you choose four categories at random and arrange them according to which you think you have a better chance at.  For example, I would put humans in my four point slot, whereas I would put architecture in my one point slot.  Then each player gets a chance to swap or Zwap their tiles with another person’s on their turn, once per round.  This is when I would switch my architecture tile for a science tile and stick Ty with architecture.  Mwahaha!  In addition, each player has a chance to piggyback on a question using one Bezzerwizzer tile, up to two each round.  If you throw your Bezzerwizzer tile in because you are great at the science category and the opponent gets it wrong, then you get a chance to steal that question for three points.  I enjoy this game, because it’s a trivia game I actually have a chance at, as long as the architecture and sports questions come at a minimum.

  5. Risk
    This is actually a game I don’t own, but is at the top of my game wish list.  I grew up playing the 1980 version, and apparently there are a lot of different versions these days.  Personally, I’d be okay with owning the Star Wars or Marvel versions of the game.  We used to reserve this game for weekends or snow days, because it can take a lot of time.  Each player in the game is given troops, and countries they have power over.  The game is played carrying out dice wars that determine who gets to own each country, until one player has succeeded in world domination.  Risk is well worth playing if you have the time.

These are just a few of the board games I love.  It’s hard to find board games for two, so Ty and I play a lot of card and dexterity games as well.

If there are any two player board games you want to recommend, please share in the comments below : )

☮ Madison