Real Good, Real Life, Real Results with Wellness Coach: Koren Barwis

2015 Summer Reading List

summer reading
I always have a stack of books on my nightstand: books I’ve started, books I hope to read, and books I’ll likely never read but they looked good on Good Reads or Amazon. Most of my picks are non-fiction, wellness or self-improvement books, with the occasional fictional story of someone I can relate to thrown in.

One of my 2015 goals is to read more and watch less TV (although after working all day, sometimes I just want to veg in front of bad summer TV ala Mistresses). So here is my summer reading list:


Started & Need to Finish

Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons

This memoir of a self-proclaimed fat girl talks honestly about sex, body image, growing up fat and more. Very funny so far.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Was captivated by Brene’s Ted Talk on vulnerability and picked up this book on courage, shame, and living a “wholehearted” life.

Thinking Like Your Editor by Rabiner and Fortunato

I know nothing about book writing or publishing, but want to publish a wellness book, so this is where I’m starting.

Next Up

Quiet by Susan Cain

I grew up thinking I was an extrovert, but as I get older, I find myself savoring my alone, quiet time.

Never Mind by Edward St. Aubyn

I read a beautiful passage by the author and it drew me to this novel.

Living with Intent by Malika Chopra

Always looking for tips on living better and more authentically.
Have any books that you’re hoping to read this summer?

Julia Child Is My 40-Something Spirit Animal

booksA good friend of mine turns 40 tomorrow. On Friday, I joked that she should enjoy her last weekend in her thirties and her response made my day — she said that I am her “40-something spirit animal.” Coming from one of the coolest, smartest hottie moms I know, her comment went beyond complementary, into affirming.

It is nice to know that the effort I put into being my best self is noticed and inspirational, but I do have to work at it.  Most mornings I’m up by 4:45 a.m. to workout and have a little quiet time to myself. Then, I walk the pups with my hubby, rain or shine. Bedtime is no later than 10 p.m. I don’t eat what I want, whenever I want. I give myself one splurge meal a week and boy do I make the most of it. I stretch, practice yoga, and pay a trainer to torture me and push me past my comfort zone.

Unlike many other moms, I am unapologetic about investing in myself. My trainer is just one example. I pay a small fortune to keep looking like a natural blonde. Good-fitting gym clothes, regular massages, quality food, therapy when needed are all expenses I’m willing to bear in order to keep my mind and body in good form.

Mostly, it is the changes I’ve made to my mindset and outlook over the years that have made a huge difference. Instead of assuming the worst, I try to see the good in people and give them the benefit of the doubt. I hold my tongue a few seconds longer than I used to, preventing lots of drama. I don’t feel the need to always be right (my husband may disagree with this one). I try to listen versus waiting to talk. I am less impatient, having learned to breath and relax. I now realize no one is trying to f*ck with me, hurt my feelings, or slow me down; we’re all just doing our best. But most importantly, I refuse to believe that the best years are behind me.

It used to be that women in their forties were considered yesterday’s news, but now we have celebrity role models like Jennifer Aniston and Julia Roberts to remind us that our forties can be fabulous. However, when I thought about who is my 40-something spirit animal, none of those celebs came to mind, Julia Child did.

Julia graduated from Le Cordon Bleu at 38 years old, took nine years to research and write Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and started her TV show at 49. She reinvented herself and found success in her forties. Julia continued her work throughout her 80s and died at 91. She kept improving and never slowed down until the very end.

Doubt that I’ll ever win a Primetime Emmy or be on the cover of Time magazine like Julia, but I do hope to be a published author someday. Instead of waiting for that someday to come, I’ve started writing my wellness book now in my free time. Hopefully it won’t take nine years, but if it does, I know that isn’t the end of the world as long as I’m continuing to move forward.

Grandma Helen’s Last Lesson

GM 1c 10

My maternal grandmother, Helen J. Dunlap, started dying in February of 1994, when my grandfather, the love of her life, died from melanoma. Grandma was never the same. She got more bitter, more negative, more depressed. Then the dementia set in and she became paranoid fand downright mean. Unlike my mother whose death from gall bladder cancer was swift and brutal, my grandmother just faded away. Grandma Helen finally died on Christmas day. Peacefully. Alone.

It is hard writing a positive tribute about someone who I am conflicted about. Losing my mom before Grandma was tough. And the last time I had a real conversation with my grandmother was ten years ago and it didn’t end well. Grandma favored my uncle and had a complex relationship with my mom. Grandma was criticizing my mom for something completely unwarranted and I defended mom. Looking back, I’m guessing that the dementia had already started setting in, making grandma attack those closest to her.

Me and GrandmaShe wasn’t always so ugly. Growing up, Grandma Helen was a strong presence in my life. My grandparents opened their home to my mom, sister, our two dogs (one was a great dane!), and me when my parents split up. While mom got back on her feet, I got to spend a lot of time with my grandma.

I learned the art of holiday entertaining from Grandma. She prepared amazing meals with beautiful touches like chilled butter curls and homemade gravy. She loved food and didn’t skimp on details. My Christmas menu this week included her recipes for yorkshire pudding, grandma potatoes, and steamed cranberry pudding with eggnog sauce.

Grandma was crafty and decorated with an attention to detail. She had an Easter egg tree with plastic eggs she decorated with lace, beads, and ribbon. When my sister and I would travel to see my Dad in California, she would create special goodie bags for the long plane ride. At Christmas, she created Grandma Balls — balls of newspaper with a little knick knack or jewelry in each layer with something special in the center — for my sister and I.

Grandma was a collector. She loved going to garage sales every weekend. She started figurine and doll collections for my sister and I. Every Christmas, she would give us a new addition to our collections. She fueled my love of Barbies and neatly organized all their clothes for me.

Grandma HelenI have a ton of quirky, random memories of Grandma…She was 100% Swedish. She was an only child. Her childhood wasn’t easy. I can attribute my good table manners to her – she was a stickler. Grandma taught me about banking and taking care of my money. She was a nurse for GM and her favorite color was purple (or maybe it was my Grandpa’s, so she wore it all the time to please him). Even her wedding dress was a light purple, which was very progressive for her day. When I smell toast and cheerios in the morning, I will always think of her.

Most of my memories of Grandma are surface snapshots; I didn’t know her as a wife, woman, or as a friend, but I honor her for giving my mom life. And I appreciate everything she taught me, with the last lesson being the most important. In her final years, Grandma Helen showed me first-hand how I don’t want to die — alone, depressed, just fading away. Grandma’s last lesson taught me to to stay active, stay connected, stay positive, and keep living until you die.

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Twitter: korenbarwis