Inspirations...by Karen

A collection of books, music, and anything that inspires me. Updated intermittently and when I feel like it.

Books I’ve read, have been influenced by, and often recommend. I’m a nerd and love to learn, so most are non-fiction: 

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman.

This book was written after a 15-year deep dive to uncover the well-known (and lesser-known) history of autism. Hitting on heavy topics like as institutionalization and eugenics, it’s not what I would call a light read. But the writing is eloquent and captivating, and the book as a whole it is enlightening and eye opening. A MUST READ for parents, teachers, therapists….and really everyone living in a neurodivergent world.

The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. 

I read this book early in my career. It re-ignited my passion for all things neurology and neuroplasticity. Through a collection of case histories, Doidge challenged the notion that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” by sharing the cases and progress made by people once labelled as ‘hopeless’. Another fascinating read, and easy to pick up and put down because of the case-study format.

The 5AM Club: Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life by Robin Sharma.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and am glad I did. I would have likely put it down and stopped reading a few times in print because of how it’s written. But the audiobook was easy to get through. That being said, it still made my list.  I’ve never claimed to be a morning person – quite the opposite in fact. Several months after finishing this book, I gave up trying to get up at 5 AM. Despite that, there are some great nuggets I learned that have stuck with me, especially the idea of taking care of your different “sets” in order to be a balanced human. I’ve never been great at that, either, and since reading The 5AM Club, have been inspired to make more positive changes to my life. Just not waking up that early. 

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein.

As a “Jack-of-all-trades” SLP working with anything and everything tossed my way, this resonated with me so much! “David Epstein examined the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields—especially those that are complex and unpredictable—generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They’re also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can’t see.”

Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison.

After reading his first book, Look Me In the Eye, shortly after its release, I knew I couldn’t miss this one. A fascinating read, it is aptly described as “an extraordinary memoir about the cutting-edge brain therapy that dramatically changed the life and mind of John Elder Robison.”

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.

If I could get a book in the hands of every parent, it would be this one, without question. “In this pioneering, practical book, Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist and author of the bestselling Mindsight, and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson offer a revolutionary approach to child rearing with twelve key strategies that foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children.

The authors explain—and make accessible—the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures. The “upstairs brain,” which makes decisions and balances emotions, is under construction until the mid-twenties. And especially in young children, the right brain and its emotions tend to rule over the logic of the left brain. No wonder kids throw tantrums, fight, or sulk in silence. By applying these discoveries to everyday parenting, you can turn any outburst, argument, or fear into a chance to integrate your child’s brain and foster vital growth.

Complete with age-appropriate strategies for dealing with day-to-day struggles and illustrations that will help you explain these concepts to your child, The Whole-Brain Child shows you how to cultivate healthy emotional and intellectual development so that your children can lead balanced, meaningful, and connected lives.”

If you’re a parent, do yourself a favor and get a copy or listen to the audiobook. 

If you know me personally, or if you scroll ahead to see the sheer number of recommendations in this section, you know I devour podcasts. It’s likely because it’s something I can learn from and listen to while doing other things (commuting, shopping, chauffeuring the kid around, doing laundry, walking the dog…). My tastes are diverse and varied, but I’ve done my best to describe what it is about the podcast that makes me a regular listener. Here are a few of my past and current favorites:

Radiolab

A WNYC Studios Podcast and a classic in my books. It’s one of the first podcasts that got me hooked YEARS ago. Check out the varied topics on their website.

This American Life

Another podcast I’d call classic. They’re OG podcasters and have made an art of it. Brilliant topics, well-considered research, and always enjoyable. Check out their site for more. 

Freakonomics Radio

If you’re a fan of the Freakonomics books, this podcast is for you. They continue to explore seemingly unrelated events in our world and have changed the way I think about a lot of things. Check out their archive to explore what they offer. 

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Described as a “podcast that celebrates the messiness of being human,” I’m happy to call myself an “ArmCherry”, and I LOVE me some Dax. He’s the kind of guy I want to be best friends with. He talks about his struggles with dyslexia and addictions so candidly – I wish more people approached life with such honestly. Dax and Monica host a variety of entertainers and musicians, scientists and change makers. Listen all the way through their “Fact Check” at the end of each episode. Plus, they’re funny, approachable, likeable, and HONEST. Love you, Dax! Check out their site for more. 

Science Vs

Oooh, the SCIENCE! ALL THE SCIENCE! Bring it on! Described as a podcast that “takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.” The proof is in the pudding. Check out their site for more. 

The Longest Shortest Time

Although I have admittedly not listened to this podcast for quite some time, I cannot express enough how helpful it was to me in the early days, months, and years of parenthood. I even did a deep dive on episodes while running my first (and only!) half-marathon – which I do NOT recommend! Crying, running (and peeing a little with each stride) made me quite the sight! Check out their site for details. 

Rich Roll Podcast

Another Podcaster who’s been at it for quite a long time. “Each week Rich delves deep into all things wellness with some of the brightest and most forward thinking, paradigm busting minds in health, fitness, nutrition, art, entertainment, entrepreneurship & spirituality. Intimate, deep and often intense, these are not interviews. They are conversations. A weekly aural dance designed to provoke, educate, inspire and empower you to discover, uncover, unlock and unleash your best, most authentic self.” I’m not fully plant-based, but I appreciate and regularly take in this long-form podcast when I can. Check out his site for more. 

Scene on Radio

I highly recommend their Seeing White series on racism, which was more than eye-opening. It really sparked my own self-evaluation of ingrained bias and encouraged me to keep reading and learning on the topic of racism. Their site can be found here

Uniquely Human The Podcast

“Expands the conversation on autism and neurodiversity by amplifying the voices of autistic individuals and thought leaders in providing insightful, cutting-edge and practical information about the autistic experience.” Read about their guests and topics here

Respectful Parenting: Janet Lansbury Unruffled

“Each episode addresses a reader’s parenting issue through the lens of Janet’s respectful parenting philosophy.” I’ve been a long-time follower of Janet Lansbury on social media. Her approach felt like a breath of fresh air when I found it. I’ve had many friends (and former clients) say how much of a difference her approach made in their lives.  Check out her site here

Anyone who knows me personally, especially in my teenage years and early 20s, knows how music obsessed I was. Although my intensity has faded a bit since then, music still has a direct line to my soul and brings me peace, calm, and energy when I need it.

Especially when working from home, it’s impossible to find a truly quiet, non-distracting corner or room to get things done. I’m easily distracted (squirrel!) so finding something to reduce distractions has been HUGE for me the last few months. Having access to the entire Apple Music library has shifted my listening habits quite substantially, especially while working. I’m no longer all 90s hip-hop and alt rock – anything that tempts me to sing along is a no-go when trying to focus – so I’ve really tried to find out-of-the-box options to help me focus. Here’s a bit of what I’m listening to on repeat these days. Give them a listen and let me know what you think!

Apple Music Playlists and Artists:

Headspace Apple Music Electronic 

“Whether you’re meditating, up late studying, or just plain old being mindful, deep concentration requires a special soundtrack. Narrow your focus with these enveloping electronic tracks, from ambient and minimalism to downbeat house. We regularly refresh this playlist. If you like a song, add it to your library.”

Ludovico Einaudi Essentials 

“After studying classical with some of Italy’s modern masters, this composer/pianist found popular success with his personal style of exquisite chamber music. Though his orchestral compositions include stormy climaxes, Einaudi’s contemplative, graceful moods make him a popular arranger for film and television.” He’s a go-to in our house, and was even played at our wedding. Credit goes to Jesse for finding this one. 

Led Zeppelin: The Complete Studio Albums

The Complete Led Zeppelin collects the eight studio albums…released between 1969-79, plus the posthumous ninth and final studio album Coda, released in 1982, after the death of drummer John Bonham.” Sometimes I have to bring the energy up. Led Zeppelin does the trick. 

Moby gets his own dedicated section because I love his instrumentals so much. Far from the music he released in the 90s, these are light, gentle, and help me tune out the rest of the world. 

What am I missing??

If you have any music, book, podcast or playlist recommendations for me, please comment below! I’m sure I’m missing some amazing gems. 

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