2018 Life Changing Finds - Books, Podcasts, and More!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

2018 was a tumultuous year for me. It involved deep self-examination, graduating from counseling, an out of state move, and buying our very first home. Those are some big things jammed into 12 months! Luckily, because it was another year of big discoveries, I found so many resources worth sharing. I hope you'll click the links, give a listen, read, and enjoy some of what I have collected from this year!

Best Books

Nature and Ecology

  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer: Part autobiography, part history lesson, and part call back to the earth, Braiding Sweetgrass is a beautiful tapestry of story, science, and the implications of both on our personal lives and the health of our communities. Kimmerer calls upon her indigenous heritage to tell the stories of the North American landscape and uses her scientific research background to offer readers a complex, yet more complete view of the intersection of humans and the earth. She encourages connection to the land on which we live and responsible stewardship. I listened to the audiobook version and never wanted to turn it off. Find it here.
  • The Wander Society by Keri Smith: "Do you find yourself increasingly distracted and unable to focus? Do you feel like technology is taking up too much of your attention and time? Do you find your quiet talents going unused and unnoticed in a world that values bravado, celebrity, publicity, and money? If you answered yes, the Wander Society can offer a respite. This small anonymous organization is looking for thinkers to conduct research. No experience needed. Membership is completely anonymous. The world is waiting for your gifts! The Wanderers are everywhere." Find out how to join with Keri Smith's guide. I rarely pay full price for a book. This one is worth every cent. Get your copy here.


  • Mother's Milk: Poems in Search of Heavenly Mother by Rachel Hunt Steenblik: This collection of poems is a gift to all who are searching for the divine feminine. Steenblik's poetry is at once easy to digest and sustenance for a hungry soul. If this milk had a flavor, I bet it tastes like warm, freshly baked cookies waiting for you when you get home from school. The perfect illustrations by Ashley Mae Hoiland only add to the beauty of this book. Its the same price as eating out for lunch, and will feed you for much longer. Buy one for yourself, your daughter, your mother, your friend, your everyone, right here.
  • Walking With the Women of the Old Testament by Heather Farrell: If you're looking for a study partner for the Old Testament, this is it. Well-researched and beautifully written, this detailed look into the lives of the women and the stories we love (and some love to hate) is essential for understanding them fully. Accompanied by Mandy Williams' tasteful photographic depictions of the women using real-life models dressed in historic clothing, this collection is a wonderful addition to your bookshelf. (Look for my midwife modeling for the Puah and Shiprah chapter!) And luckily, she's got a New Testament collection too! Find the Old Testament here, New Testament here.
  • The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life by Fiona and Terryl Givens: These professors of literature and religion add to our understanding of God by using the weeping God of Enoch as a study guide to the nature of the divine. Readers are led gently into the discovery of a loving, vulnerable, and kind God that directly contrasts the wrathful, vengeful force most Christians are accustomed to hearing and reading about. Get your highlighters out - you'll need more than one to catch all the treasures contained here.
  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: I don't read much fiction, but if ever there was a book that turned my life upside down in all the best ways, this is it. The Red Tent is a re-telling of the story of Dinah, Jacob and Leah's only daughter. With a focus on sisterhood, womanhood, and the reclaiming of voice and a story that is largely silent in the biblical text, this book comes with my highest recommendations. I have seen some readers emerge from the story skeptical of the accuracy of the story, and this is my response: Welcome to patriarchy and the bible. Change your life in 321 pages here. No time to read? Watch the excellently made two-part series here.
  • The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey From Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine by Sue Monk Kidd: I am left so speechless by this book that still, 6 months after reading, I don't know what to say about it except "Wow. Everyone needs to read this." Kidd narrates her own experience of discovery, joy, loneliness, sorrow, and eventual peace through the journey of finding her place as a woman in the church and the world. Don't let the title scare you away - this book is tenderly written and well-researched, containing an 8 page bibliography of resources that highlight the difficulties of being a women and the exclusion (and sometimes demonization) of women in Christian theology and culture. I found it both a balm and a calling. Find it here.


  • If Women Rose Rooted: The Power of the Celtic Woman by Sharon Blackie: This was my first introduction to Celtic myths and women. It felt like coming home. I learned about my heritage and the unique ways the Celtic stories encourage us to connect to the earth, our communities, and ourselves. Some of the stories shared here were instrumental in my own healing. I listened to the audio book, then bought the kindle version to take notes as I listened. I plan on getting a paper copy soon. A book well worth buying three times. Find it here.
  • The Birth of Pleasure: A New Map of Love by Carol Gilligan: I was gifted a copy of this for Christmas 2017 by my bff and it quickly became the ultimate battle cry for brave vulnerability in my life. If you like Brene Brown's work, you will love this. Gilligan uses the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche as a roadmap of love and relationship, using examples from her own work and research in the field of psychology. Deepen your understanding of love and what it means to be truly seen here.
  • Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes: Last year I recommended "Spinning Straw into Gold" for my 2017 "Best Books". I wish I had read "Wolves" first, because this is everything I wished "Gold" was. Estes weaves tales from around the world into a beautiful look at the psyche and experiences unique to women. Some will make you laugh, some cry, and some wonder, but each is a valuable look into the reclaiming of the power of women. You can't go wrong with a book recommended by Emma Watson. Find it here.
  • The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris: Harris is a pediatrician practicing in the most poverty-stricken areas of California. Years of research have proven that there are long-term effects of childhood stress and trauma that affect survivors well into adulthood. These effects include mental illness, addiction, heart disease, diabetes, often showing up unexpectedly and "without cause". Because of these effects, Harris advocates a whole-person wellness approach to healthcare, for early stress treatment for children with a certain number of ACE scores, as well as ACE screening in both childhood and adulthood. Her research and work in service of childhood adversity are groundbreaking and necessary. Find it here.

Honorable Mentions: Books That Were *almost* Awesome

  • The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho - Content was intriguing but the storytelling was less smooth and engaging than some of Coelho's other works.
  • The Sacred Enneagram by Chris Huertz - Was not nearly as detailed and fun as listening to him on the Sleeping at Last Podcast.
  • Healing Spiritual Wounds by Carol Howard Merrit - A primer on faith crisis. Great for those in the beginning stages of questioning and seeking. Less valuable for those further along.
  • Gaia and God by Rosemary Radford Ruether - So well researched and chock-full of information it was more like drinking from a fire hose and less like reading a book. Will re-try with more time and background research.
  • When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams: Half biography, half autobiography, promising stories but little resolution or clear takeaway. I was spoiled by reading "If Women Rose Rooted" and "Braiding Sweetgrass" first.

Perfect Podcasts

  • The Christ Who Heals with Fiona Givens - LDS Perspectives Podcast Episode 62
  • Wisdom Literature with Dan Belnap - LDS Perspectives Podcast Episode 89
  • Fowler's Stages of Faith Development with Sara Hughes-Zabawa: A Thoughtful Faith Podcast (Start with Episode 231)
  • Mormon Women and the Challenge of Assertiveness with Julie de Azevedo Hanks: A Thoughtful Faith Podcast Episode 180
  • How Patriarchy Hurts Men and Boys with Wendy Christian: A Thoughtful Faith Podcast Episode 217
  • Wisdom - She's All Around You: The Robcast Episode 163
  • The Buying and Selling of Feminism: Exploring "marketplace feminism": What Would A Feminist Do Podcast, Oct 3, 2016
  • How to Be Girl Friends: Unladylike Podcast, Aug 7, 2017
  • Every Enneagram Episode from the Sleeping At Last Podcast
  • 10 Habits of Highly Effective Advocates: Food For Thought Podcast, Dec 6, 2017
  • Woman: The Liturgists Podcast Episode 39
  • Heavenly Mother with Rachel Hunt Steenblik: Q.More Podcast by Rosemary Card
  • On Sovereign Wings Podcast with Amber and Tasha

Amazing Art and Articles

  • Kristina Kuzmic explains why she feels its important to call out those who post inappropriate sexual comments on her videos with this video.
  • This graphic perfect illustrates what it really means to be highly sensitive.
  • I'm a mom to a little girl and I learned so much about changing my language when talking to little girls from this sweet and short video.
  • Dehumanizing Always Starts With Language - wisdom from my girl Brene Brown here.
  • You Ask by Elizabeth Ostler - a beautiful psalm of forgiveness. Read it here.
  • Blessed Are the Unemployed, the Unimpressive, the Underrepresented. This video is everything.

Soul Songs

Last year I shared my top 3 songs for the year. This year, I am happy to share my updated list for your listening pleasure!
  1. Whispers by Ayla Nereo
  2. Trouble by TV On The Radio
  3. Soft Gentle Brilliant (Acoustic Version) by Corey Kilgannon

Friends, what made your 2018 Life Changing Finds list? 
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