Episode 3: Kristen Meinzer on loving yourself just as you are

Photo: Lauren Eliot Photography

Photo: Lauren Eliot Photography

This episode is with Kristen Meinzer, host of By The Book, When Meghan Met Harry, and CNN's Lisa, Sandra & Kristen Go To The Movies. She's the author of So You Want to Start a Podcast, an inspiring, comprehensive, step-by-step guide to creating a hit show that covers everything from hosting and guest booking to editing and marketing, while offering plenty of encouragement and insider stories along the way.

Kristen’s shelf-care includes beautiful plants, birds, travel mugs, Dolly Parton, and most importantly, loving yourself, no matter what.

And don't forget to show off your #shelfcare! Tag us on Instagram to be featured on our feed.

Let's rest and recharge together!
kate and lauren


KATE: Hello! My #shelfcare this week is definitely something you’ll want to check out. It’s an app called AUDM, which turns all those articles you have bookmarked into podcasts! AUDM is subscription based and lets you listen to feature stories from publications like The Atlantic, NY Mag, and The New Yorker. I also can’t rave about my Mnemosyne notebook enough. I love the entire line and find that the quality is unmatched. For a stationary nerd like myself, I have found this brand to be the ultimate find.


LAUREN: This week my #shelfcare is a podcast—Finding Fred, a new show from iHeartRadio and Fatherly that "digs into the deep and simple language of Mister Rogers to uncover his very adult lessons about how to build a meaningful life." Every episode is like a big hug. I cried multiple times, throughout each of the first two episodes. (The second episode talks about the famous foot bath storyline with Officer Clemmons.) The show also talks about the beauty and simplicity of Mister Rogers's messages: you are perfect the way that you are. As a kid, I already knew that. The world has since ruined me. I need this message now. Mister Rogers isn't for kids, it's for adults. It is adult self-care. I've paired it with something that makes me feel like a 5-year-old—Cover FX Glitter Drops. I put a teensy dab on my cheeks and it looks like a cloud of glitter has exploded upon my face. It's not for everyone. Caveat: the glitter will get on everyone you know the moment you touch them. I actually think that's a good thing. It's statement makeup.

Books and products recommended in this episode:

Kate: Okay, let's jump right in. You want to describe your self care? 

Kristen: Yes, let's do it. So I sent you guys a photo, this photo for anybody else out there who doesn't see the photo, who's not currently on the website, but you're going to go to the website. I know you are. What's your website again? 

Kate: And the Instagram. Theshelfcarepodcast.com

Kristen: Yes. Everyone go to theshelfcarepodcast.com and look at the photo that I submitted because that is a view out my bedroom window. You'll see that there are brick buildings and brownstones and trees and maybe you will even see my bird feeder out there. So that's my bedroom window and on the shelf, left to right. So on the far left is a plant. And when I first moved to New York, 1999, 2000, during my first two years here, I bought a couple of plants just at neighborhood grocery stores and they're philodendrons, one’s a polthose, I believe I'm pronouncing that right. And these are plants that you supposedly cannot kill.

Kate: That's the most important thing. I just moved into a new apartment and thinking about buying plants, I need ones that will not die. 

Kristen: Yes. So I did my research and I found out what can I neglect for up to two weeks at a time and it'll still be fine? And, just went to the grocery store and got one my first year and then one the second year. And then these plants have grown and grown and grown. Each of the plants I think had maybe five or six leaves when I bought them. And now they take up giant pots and I have about 10 of them in the house ‘cause I take all the clippings and grow new plants. And then about half a dozen or maybe a dozen and my friends also have plants made out of the clippings. And yeah, I just like to clip the, pay attention to them, love them. 

Kate: Pay it forward.

Kristen: Yeah. And so it's something that I love that I can pass on the love a little bit. So I feel that, you know that plant is always on that little window sill and it would be disingenuous for me not to have included that. 

Kate: And talk about your bird feeder a little bit. 

Kristen: Yes. Yes. So my bird feeder, Santa brought it to me a couple of years ago. I love watching birds. Birds are very special to me. I just think it's miraculous that we get to live on a planet where creatures fly. And it's like how cool is that? How cool would it be to fly? Yeah. The next thing over then on my shelf-care is the package of bird seed. So we switch up the brands all the time. Or I should say my husband Dean does cause he's the one who buys all the bird seed.

Kate: Okay. So moving along, you also have your travel mug. 

Kristen: Yes. Um, I call it my sippy cup. Um, I use a Contigo brand one. I mean, I believe that there are many, many, many great brands of travel mugs. This just happens to be the one that I use and I have a couple of different styles but I never leave home without my Contigo travel mug and I use my sippy cup constantly cause I'm always thirsty. On the flip side, I go to the bathroom a lot, but I drink a lot of water. I absolutely abhor plastic bottles and I don't want to ever be in the habit of buying plastic bottles. And so I carry my sippy cup and I just refill it everywhere, whether it's in public bathrooms or drinking fountains or in the kitchen right here as I did when I first arrived. And so I never leave home without it. 

Kate: I love this Dolly Parton bust magazine. 

Kristen: Yes. So I'm a big Dolly fan. Dolly Parton is just a national treasure, a world treasure. She speaks sweetness and light in everything she does. 

Kate: She is the American version of Dean. Dean is to New Zealand what Dolly is to the U.S.

Kristen: She is so special and she has such a gift for somehow not coming across as partisan. People love her regardless of how they vote, regardless of what their religious leanings are, people absolutely love her and I love her and everything she has done with the success that she's attained, she's just given back tenfold to the world. And so I just love her. And this Bust magazine that is in the photo is actually a gift for my friend Sarah Bentley because she knows that I love Dolly and she also knows that I love Bust magazine. I'm friends with one of the editors at Bust actually, full disclosure. And it's just good feminist, completely intersectional, body positivity. It's everything that you want in a magazine. And I just think as somebody who grew up in a world where almost all the magazines, everybody weighed about 90 pounds and was five foot eight and white, and that's not true with Bust. So Bust magazine's great because there are people who look like me, I'm Brown and you know, depending on who you ask, I'm stout and I'm not white. And so it's just good to have a magazine that exists that celebrates all kinds of people. And this particular issue of Bust has Dolly on the cover and she celebrates all kinds of people and she just spreads the love and her whole spirit is, I love you and I believe in you and I want to bring a little rainbow to you because I know that, you know, sometimes there's a lot of rain in your life. There's rain in my life, you know, so she's just fabulous. 

Kate: It's hard not to think about Dolly Parton and not think about her beauty routine. You can only imagine how long it takes. You know what if I was Dolly Parton, I would just go to bed like that and wake up like that and just keep layering it on. But what is your take on your beauty routine? You don't strike me as someone very high maintenance.

Kristen: I’m pretty low maintenance. As I was saying when I first walked in here, this wasn't on mic, I just got my annual haircut. 

Kate: It looks amazing. 

Kristen: Thanks. I'm a total cheap ass and you know, haircuts cost a lot in New York. 

Kate: So much in New York.

Kristen: For all you folks in the rest of the country who are able to go to your neighborhood, Super Cuts are great clips and get a $12 haircut, there are a couple of those still in New York. I think there's like two Super Cuts left probably in New York. There are a couple of beauty schools here where you can do it, but for the most part, haircuts cost like a hundred dollars in this town. It's insane. But there's a place in my neighborhood I just walked by today and I popped my head in and I said, “could you give me a really good shampoo and a haircut? I don't need a blowout, but how much does it cost?” And they said $34. And I paused and I thought, oh, that's like twice as much as I normally pay. And I'm like, I'll do it. I'll do it. I'm going to get the $34 haircut and shampoo. So I did it. And then they were really sweet. They threw in a hair dry for me and everything. They dried my, they were really great. And yeah, I gave them a very nice tip. They were fantastic. 

Kate: They knew it was out of your comfort zone to pay that much.

Kristen: Which in New York, that's an insanely cheap haircut, by the way. It's a place called Prospect Hair. Shout out to Frankie who cut my hair today. He was really nice. It's really affordable by New York standards, but you know, I'm a cheap ass. 

Kate: Full disclosure. I have such an issue with paying New York prices that I happen to get quarterly haircuts and it just coincides with every time I'm home visiting my parents. 

Kristen: Where's that? 

Kate: In California. And I'm able in Southern California, I still go to the same person who's been doing my hair since high school. It's so much cheaper that I even justify it with the flight. I'm like two birds, one stone, get a haircut and visit the rents. Perfect. Perfect. Okay, so finally, the most exciting thing I have to admit is your book.

Kristen: Oh, my book, I had to include my book because originally I wanted to give you guys a photo of myself working and you guys were like, no, no, no, no. It's gotta be a book. So it feels really like self-promotional and I apologize for this, but I included my book because my book is writing, working, spreading confidence in other people and kindness. Those are versions of self care for me.

Kristen: I would rather them have an encouraging guide that is built on over a decade of experience than to just go online and read all the articles written by blowhards and tech bros. There are a lot of people who act as gatekeepers in the podcasting world. It's a lot of white dudes who frequently make it sound a lot harder than it has to be in some areas and a lot easier than it is in others. And I just wanted to lay out the truth, like these are things that you should be thinking about and you have it in you to do this. And the technology is not actually the hard part. That's really easy. The hard part is knowing why you want to start a podcast and who is it for and how are you going to structure it and how are you going to find your community and make sure that they know about your show so that they can benefit from it.

I'll say in the beginning, I'm sure I was the worst interviewer on the planet when I started out and I remember, and I even talked about this in my book, I sucked at being interviewed in the beginning too.

Kate:  You would not believe that. 

Kristen: Now I'm much more relaxed about it, but the first time I was really thrown into the deep end on TV as a kid, the light went on saying, you're on air and it was live TV and then later on when I went into radio and did it again, I was just like popped right into the studio and then 2 million people are listening. The light is on saying I was live and I'm like, I really don't know what I'm doing here. You're asking questions I wasn't expecting, Oh God, what am I going to do? How do I do this?

And you know, it's hard being on both sides of the mic. So in my book I do actually try to give guidance on both how to give a great interview and how, meaning in the guest role and also in the host role, how to do that. So I want to put stuff out there that I wish existed when I was starting out. 

Kate: One of the things that is so present on your podcast is your relationship with Jolenta Greenburg, your cohost. Your roles are changing now that you have your new podcasts as well. Do you want to talk about your new project? 

Kristen: Yes. So in addition to, By The Book, in By The Book, we're really at the center of the story. It's a reality show where I would call it a version of stunt reality where we throw ourselves into situations. We followed the rules by a different self-help book. In each episode we record ourselves. You can hear how each book enhances or destroys our lives. 

Kate: More often than not, destroys. Have there been any that you've re-read?

Kristen: Oh god, no. I hate self-help books. I can't stand them. 

Kate: Of course! Because your roll is the skeptic. Jolenta probably has a different answer. 

Kristen: Yes she does. She does. So you know, on By The Book we're really at the center of the show, we’re the subjects of the show, and our poor suffering husbands are as well. But our spin off show is called We Love You And So Can You, and we started this show partly because so many listeners have written us over the years saying, “why don't you choose me to live by self help books with you? Why don't you choose, you know, somebody who has a different perspective than you? Because you're two women in Brooklyn who come from media backgrounds who, your lives are so different than mine and I am a black man, or I'm an LGBTQ person in the Midwest, or I'm somebody over 50 or I'm a teenager.” And we would get so many letters from people who, you know, there's no way Joe Linton, I can pretend to be a teenager. There's no way Jolanta or I can pretend to be another race other than she's white and I'm Asian, you know, that would be disingenuous. And also just weird and creepy. So we'd been thinking all along at some point we would like to bring other people on to go on a journey with us and how would we do that? And we decided eventually the best way to do it would be to make what we call a makeover show for your heart. 

Kate: It really is. I just listened to the first episode and it felt so warm and touching, and it's such a feel good. 

Kristen: Oh, we're so glad 

Kate: It’s exactly the role that podcasts can play in self care, because you feel better when you're listening to it.

Kristen: Oh, I'm so glad. I'm so glad. Yeah. In each episode we have a different person, they have a predicament and we give them a set of self love steps that they can say, that's malarkey. This is nonsense. I'm not going to live by that rule. I'll change it up because Jolenta and I aren't trying to be gurus or thought leaders or you know, or experts in any way. Just because Jolenta and I lived by 50 self help books, doesn't mean that we're people who are like I said, we're not experts. We're just people who have lived experience and we would never try to force anybody to do something they don't want to. And we say upfront to all of them, we're not experts. If you want to live by these steps, go for it. And so in some cases they really mix up the steps or they'll live by them to the letter and then at the end of two weeks, we check in with them and hopefully they feel a little bit more able to handle their predicament. And hopefully they love themselves a little bit more. That's the goal of each episode. 

Kate: I loved myself a little bit more after listening to it. 

Kristen: Oh, that makes me so happy. And Jolenta and I want people to feel that way with everything we make. And one thing I think, I learned this from Jolanta, Jolanta is so good about just showing all the parts of her that a lot of people would be embarrassed by. And these are things that I didn't use to do before the show because prior to hosting this with Jolanta, all my hosting was being a critic, essentially. These are my thoughts on pop culture or these are my thoughts on movies or these are my thoughts on the British Royals. And you know, sharing thoughts is not the same as sharing my own pain or sharing my own trauma or any of those things.

And Jolenta that's her bread and butter as she says, every time I'm going through something horrible, I think, how can I turn this into a show? 

Kate: You know, with my co-founder for the podcast, Lauren, one of the things that's great is that we compliment each other and we fill each other's gaps. And Lauren pushes me in ways and I push her in ways. And it sounds like that's very similar to the partnership that you have with Jolenta where you're probably more vulnerable at times because you look to Jolanta and she inspires that in you. 

Kristen: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And it was terrifying at first and it was the third episode into By The Book that we lived by FRENCH WOMEN DON’T GET FAT

Kate: I remember that episode. Every single person listening, listen to that episode because it was so inspiring and so smart and so relatable. So thank you for that. 

Kristen: Oh thank you. It was terrifying. I stayed up, I think I didn't sleep for like 72 hours before the episode went live because I had never made myself so vulnerable in media before. And I was scared, what are people gonna think about me? Are they gonna think I'm a loser? Am I setting a bad example? Will people think that I'm actually saying it's okay to be anorexic? ‘Cause I have a history of disordered eating and living by this particular diet book, which tells you to not eat for the first 48 hours, just put me into a tailspin. It was terrible. And so, living by that book and then putting myself out there was so scary. And then within the first couple hours of the episode going live, we started getting one letter, two letters, 50 letters, a hundred letters of people who wrote in and said, thank you. I didn't know that other people can talk so openly about going through this. I read a couple of secret blog posts from people I’ve seen a couple of celebrities who are already wildly respected and are still skinny no matter what they say. And you know, and you know, I think a lot of the people who speak out traditionally about disordered eating already look like supermodels. So it's hard to even relate to them when they talk about it, if that makes sense. 

Kate: It completely makes sense. 

Kristen: Yeah. And so, so many people wrote in and said, just having somebody who looks like me. Somebody who is not white, somebody who's not tall, somebody who isn’t necessarily someone who normally talks about this. And I relate to you and I feel seen. And so that episode really was just a mind blowing experience for me because I went in so terrified and afterward I was so relieved and thankful that I actually put myself completely out there for it. And I've done that again and again and again on the show. 

Kate: Listeners are very grateful for that episode. It just hits such a cord and you can tell by the response that you got. And while I was listening to the first episode of We Love You, I was thinking to myself, if you were on an episode as a guest, is there anything that you would want to improve upon or anything that you would want to you know, not fix, I hate using that term, but radically accept about yourself that you might be resisting right now?

Kristen: Oh gosh. I’m afraid if I say no, then I sound smug, but like, no, I don't want to do this. And the reason why is because I think By The BOok we, like I said, we've lived by 50 books. I feel like I put myself through this every single day of my life already. And the version I put myself through is, I mean, you know, some of these books are horrible. Some of them tell us to do really dangerous things. There was one book, THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A FUCK, that essentially tells you to step on death's door so that you really know the power of life. So, you know, face death and I'm thinking like, and I remember standing in the middle of traffic, you know, I think it was like a four lane highway or something and that episode I recorded myself and it was just idiotic.

There are things that some of these authors who were born on third base and had everything handed to them tell the rest of us to do. Hey, if I can do it, you can too. And it's like, no, because you were already born rich, well-connected, heterosexual, white and male. And I am almost none of those things except straight. And so no, you were already born on third base and now you're telling me that I have to do certain things to have the same success as you. I can do all of those things for the rest of my life and I'll never have all of the advantages that you have. That's just what it comes down to. And why should I stand in the middle of traffic and potentially get hit by a car just so that I can live like you?And afterward, I'm still not him. And that's fine. I'm actually better off as me.

Kate: And there's this level of should. You should be able to do this, you should. It sets you up for failure. And there's a level of shame in it too, if you can’t do it. And that's something that Lauren and I talk about a lot is that should feeling. I should be better at this. I should. And the only way to accept that is to accept it and just say, you know, yes, there's a lot of shoulds, but that's not where I want to be. It gets into that fixing mentality. 

Kristen: But why should anyone anything?

Kate: Exactly. 

Kristen: Yeah. No one should do anything other than like, you know, be you. That's fine. You're perfect the way you are. Nothing's wrong with you.

Kate: Which is such a great thing to hear. And that's one of the takeaways from the episode. And I can't imagine that that wouldn't be, it's just love yourself because all of these people get better once they actually love the person that they already are. 

Kristen: Yeah. And then, you know, problems are still going to exist. They're not going to go away because you're a certain weight on the scale or because you wake up at a certain time every day or because you do anything else like dress a certain way, that's not going to fix all of your problems. People still lose jobs even though they dress the way they should. People still get divorced even though they're the weight they should be. You know, all of these things still happen.

Kate: You’re just hungry throughout the process. You’re just hangry. Maybe that led to the divorce, maybe if you had some carbs.

Kristen: So all of these shoulds, they're not gonna fix your whole life. They just aren't. Most of them won't fix any of your life, honestly.

Kate: Kristen, thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate you taking the time and I will continue to be an avid listener of your podcast and I love the book. It's been very helpful and will continue to be helpful and just thank you again. 

Kristen: Thank you. This was so fun.

Kate: Good. I'm glad to hear that.

Episode 2: A conversation about matcha, stars, and hammocks with Ingrid Rojas Contreras

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Our second episode is with Ingrid Rojas Contreras, author of FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE. Inspired by Ingrid's own life, FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE takes place in Colombia in the 1990's and is told through the alternating perspectives of Chula and Petrona, who develop an unexpected friendship. With beautiful and violent writing, Ingrid weaves together two coming-of-age stories, shedding light on what happens to strong women who are forced to sacrifice, and the connections that can be made as a result. It's a book we cannot recommend enough!

We can't wait for you to hear the episode. Ingrid's self-care tips were unlike anything we could have imagined. Ingrid lives a life of hammocks, baths, stargazing, and of course, reading. Ingrid is a reader who uses books and writing to care for herself. We think you'll be stealing her Shelf-Care rituals for yourself.

And don't forget to show off your #shelfcare! Tag us on Instagram to be featured on our feed.

Let's rest and recharge together!
kate and lauren

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KATE: It's officially my favorite season--Autumn! And how am I celebrating? With depressing, "punch in the stomach," books that feature depressed female narrators! What's more fun than that?! I started reading EILEEN by Ottessa Moshfegh after finishing THE NEW ME by Halle Butler and highly recommend both for anyone looking for something dark to read. Even though the weather is creeping towards winter, I like to keep a beachy vibe going with my hair. Thanks to OUAI Texture Foam, my hair stays in eternal summer-- even as my reading habits keep getting bleaker and bleaker.

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LAUREN: This week #myshelfcare is Daphne du Maurier's REBECCA, a perfect book for me to re-read in October for the zillionth time. It's a beautiful, mysterious, delicious, gothic novel about fucked-up romance and it checks all of the boxes for me. Plus it has the best first-line, ever. And shout-out to my panel of CBD oils, which I take before I go to bed. CBD oil doesn't work for everyone, but it sure works for Ingrid and me. Does it work for you? On my shelf: Charlotte's Web Everyday in mint chocolate, Danodan Grassworks, Restorative Botanicals Hemp Oil in spice, and Genesis Pharms High CBD Tincture. They each have a variety of power, I play around with them, depending how wired I am.

Books and products recommended in this episode:

Kate: Why don't we get to it and you can start describing your Shelf-Care. 

Ingrid: I love Laneige, the water sleeping mask. It's so refreshing and so relaxing. I also have a Sunday Riley’s Luna Sleeping Night Oil. I also have Good Genes, another Sunday Riley, more of a day cream, and a Vitamin C brightening serum. 

I've also started drinking matcha in the last two years, so I switched from coffee to matcha and it's just been like the, the best decision that I have ever taken. I was just reading up on matcha and it has something in it that they actually take and isolate and put it an anxiety medication. So it's like, uh, a really nice way to wake up.

I also have these cannabis-infused gummies, they're mostly CBD and they’re sparkling pear.

Kate: What is the brand? Because I've been, when I can't sleep at night, I Google what CBD to buy.  Which just goes to show how badly I need CBD.

Ingrid: This is Kiva, Kiva and it's the sparkling pear, CBD gummies. There's, it's so, yeah, it's super relaxing. It's it, the feeling is kind of like if you, either you have two glasses of wine or you just got out of a hot bath, that's what it feels like. 

So you know, what I like to do is at night, just when I'm winding down, I like to take this CBD gummy and I have a hammock in my writing room that I actually unhook and re-hook depending on whether I'm using it or not. So it doesn't take up space the whole time. Um, and then I get in my hammock and then I curl up with a book and it's, it's just like the best, just such a relaxing experience. It's amazing. 

Kate: I love that. And what are some of the books that play into your Shelf-Care? 

Ingrid: Um, you know, something that I really love rereading are Kafka’s shorter stories. So they're the ones that are usually like a paragraph long or sometimes a page long. But I find them to be so beautiful and amazing. 

Kate: And having the short Kafka, similar to being intimidated by matcha, Kafka is something else I'm intimidated by. And having a paragraph seems much easier to digest than an entire book.

Ingrid: Uh, Oh my God, I'm going to change your life.

Kate: Please. I am not someone who typically read short stories and I know I'm missing out on a ton of great things. I mean I wasn't able to read FLORIDA by Lauren Groff, and I also even essays I can't, I just read TRICK MIRROR and that was the first essay collection where I read every word.

Ingrid: Yeah. Well, you know, Kafka's shorter stories can be quite funny. Um, what else? Well, I've been reading, I just finished Kaveh Akbar's CALLING A WOLF A WOLF. Um, and it was so beautiful. I've been reading it for maybe three weeks, um, and I just really wanted it to last longer. I wanted it to go on.

You know what else I love to reread is A HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE. I love that novel so much.

Kate: People that have read that book, I don't know, I've never heard of someone reading it only once. 

Ingrid: Right. You know, there's something about that novel, I think when it came out, initially Colombians didn't know how to read it or appreciate it because it was, it was such a close mirror that our reaction was to mostly just be like, well, this is normal life, so this cannot be literature. Which is speaks to the level of internalized colonialism that we have. But then once you kind of like dig under that and you, um, start to, to like really love the, the novel for kind of the, the joy and the gift that it is. 

Kate: Was there any book that you read that made you excited about moving to the U S or paint a picture of the U S in an idealized way that you can remember just making that move very exciting for you?

Ingrid: Um, I don't think so. It all seems, and you know, the literature also doesn't speak of one place, so it all seems very confusing to me, to try to imagine how THE GREAT GATSBY and like AS I LAY DYING were in the same country, you know, when, when you haven't been here like it, it's hard to imagine. And then you're trying to piece that together with the Hollywood movies that you see and then you're really confused. Well, what is, what is this place? 

Kate: Do you remember when you first moved to the U S ever having a moment where you just thought this is what it means to live in the United States? Was there a product that you saw or you know an experience that you felt like it hit you where you actually were? 

Ingrid: Yeah. So I read a lot of literature while in Colombia and so one of the things that I was really curious about were fall and winter. Living in the equator, we obviously don't have any of that. Um, and I had never seen snow, um, but it was still, you know, somehow a part of our cultural conversation. And it was always like, we, we always compared it to flour. Like it would be like light and dusty like that. 

Kate: So that must have been shocking when you experience snow for the first time. 

Ingrid: Yeah. It was very shocking. It was very beautiful. I mean, I remember being inside and then just watching it fall and how beautiful that was. And then being in it is not as beautiful. 

Kate: No. It rarely is. Most things that look beautiful once you get a closer experience and firsthand, not so much. 

Ingrid: Yeah. But I always remember cause you know, we have a famous metaphor for death, which is, a broom that's sweeping away dust or scraping a floor clean. And you come across this metaphor in places that have snow over and over again. How you know, things getting blanketed and snow is the death metaphor. So when I first kind of saw that in, in real life and even saw the leaves changing and things like that, it was a moment where I was like, I finally get all that, all of those poems that I before could not really access.

Kate: Ingrid, would you mind giving a 15 second synopsis of your book and describing it for people that haven't had a chance to read it yet?

Ingrid: Sure. Uh, FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE  is an autobiographical novel. It takes place in the nineties in Colombia. And so there's car bombs happening as there were at the time, and Pablo Escobar's on the run. So there's all this violence exploding throughout the nation. And it's told from the point of view of two girls who come from different classes and these two girls, um, develop a friendship.

Kate: When you were writing this, I can imagine it took your mind to very dark places and places that, and memories that reminded you of experiences that you probably wanted to distract from or forget in some instances. And I'm wondering as you were writing this and the catharsis of it, how did you take care of yourself and how were able to compartmentalize where you could still function while you were going through and writing about such dark subject matter? 

Ingrid: Yeah, that's such a good question. You know, it is hard, ‘cause when you're, especially if you're writing from experience, you, you do have that kind of daily, sensation that you're just opening a wound. And so then when the writing session is over, you kind of have to deal with, with the fact that you've opened up all these emotions and like how do you, you need to like find places for them. One thing that really made a difference for me is I found this little, it's like a little plastic device and it's called, it's like a sound device that you can hold in your hand and it's called, The Buddha Machine and Phillip Glass designed I think there's seven different loops of sound. So it's just a short loop and it repeats over and over again so you can listen to the same to the same music for however long you want. And there's something about looping sound that really, really relaxes me and kind of like really puts me in a meditative state of mind. And the other thing that I started to do was I started to really get into stargazing and constellations. Yeah. 

Kate: Oh, that's so cool. I love space. I had a moment of insanity when I was in college and was an astronomy major for a semester.

Ingrid: Oh my god really? 

Kate: Yes. And it's wasted on me now that I live in New York. I went out with someone who went to, actually two people that I've gone on dates with now in my life have gone to space camp and this isn't something that comes up within the first hour of me meeting them, which is shocking because if I went to space camp you would know that before you knew my first name in most instances. 

Ingrid: What happens at space camp? 

Kate: They don't go into too much detail because I think what happens at space camp stays at space. But I know that as a child, one of the most exciting things for them is the astronaut ice cream. 

Ingrid: Mmm. I want to go. 

Kate: Yes, definitely. And um, being the life of a writer can be really difficult when it comes to structuring your time and discipline. And do you find that you rely on routine to get you through the days or are you more, I wake up in the morning, everything I do is more intuitive?

Ingrid: Yeah, I do love routine, routine is very important to me and I usually write better, like my mind is more present or more active and fresh in the mornings. So I usually just think of, I have like two windows in which I can write and it's either, you know, early in the morning, or it's late at night. And I just kind of structure my days around that. So right now I'm teaching a class that is that 3:00 PM, and it's perfect because then I can, even on a teaching day, I can like wake up and have my morning session, go to class, come back, and then have a night session. But it doesn't look like writing all the time. Sometimes it looks like research or sometimes I'm just kind of thinking about an idea or a concept that I want to write about, but I haven't found my way in yet. 

Kate: Do you find it hard to go from writing in the evenings to turning off your mind and getting into bed and having a good night's sleep?

Ingrid: I think because it's in different rooms than it feels like, Oh, once they leave this room, it's like the end of the workday. 

Kate: I just started doing that. I was struggling because I noticed I started getting a burst of inspiration to work after dinner and I was having a difficult time shutting my mind off once I was done doing that and actually spoke to my therapist about it and she said her number one tip, and I can't believe I hadn't been doing this, is that your bed is reserved for sleep and sex. And I had been looking at the clock and let's say it's 11:00 PM, I would go into my bedroom and read. She said that is the number one thing to correct in order to change my sleep pattern is read on the couch or reading a different room and only be on your bed to fall asleep. 

Ingrid: Yeah. You know, I've tried that, but it's so difficult. The allure to read in bed is so great. 

Kate: The one upside is I waited forever for the couch that I have in my living room and there's something about it that is so alluring to me that reading on it and I have a good view from my reading nook that makes it better than my bedroom. 

Ingrid: Yeah. I guess it's the same way. If I'm in a hammock reading then that is like that better, a lot better. I’m so comfortable.

Kate: The hierarchy of ideal reading positions. 

Ingrid: Yeah. I think it would go hammock then bathtub and probably, bed after that.

Kate: How often do you take baths? 

Ingrid: I take so many baths. Um, probably one every two days I would say. I have a really good bathtub right now. So always in there. I really like have you tried Lush bombs

Kate: No, I haven't. 

Ingrid: They're just, there's this amazing bath bomb and they, I think they make them was all natural ingredients. So it's like really good for your skin and your hair and everything and, but more importantly when you're dropped them into your bathtub, they create this kind of like neon explosion of color that be like pink and blue and like turquoise and yellow and it's amazing.

And you know, I haven't tried this out yet, but I just ordered it cause I, you know, had an idea at like 11:00 PM last night. I just ordered, you know those like rainproof notebooks that, you know, scientists will, will buy to kind of make a field notes and when they're out in vain, 

Kate: I do now.

Ingrid: Yeah, they're called like rite in the rain notebooks. So I just ordered, I ordered a notepad ‘cause I was thinking that I could write in the bathtub cause I've always wanted to do that. But it never works. Your paper gets wet, the pen doesn't work. So I'll report back. But I think if it works, it's going to be brilliant.

Kate: Does that mean that you write by pen and paper?

Ingrid: I have a lot of different methods that I switch around depending on whether I get stuck. I write mostly in the computer, but I also have typewriters and I will also write long hand. They all have different speeds of thought. So when you're typing in a computer, you can very quickly get the words that you want on the page. When you're in the, in the typewriter it's slightly slower, so that sometimes as you're writing a sentence you start to see other ways that the sentence can go. And so what you end up typing actually looks very different than what you would have typed on a computer. And pen and paper is like the slowest thought process I think. So that you kind of can kind of see multiple ways in which the sentence can go before you reach the end of the sentence. So it slows you down. And if I'm, if I'm getting stuck on the computer, then I will use one of the other.

Kate: When I write with pen and paper, I also noticed the word selection is sometimes based on the word that I want to write physically. In addition to emotionally and there's a different connection that comes out when each word feels different because typing on a computer each key feels exactly the same, but when your writing something out, each word physically has a component to it. 

Ingrid: That's so true. Do you have a favorite letter that you like to do? 

Kate: You're talking to someone whose favorite thing about herself is her penmanship. I will be writing in coffee shops and get strangers approaching me, telling me they love my handwriting, which is a great compliment and also makes me wonder how much they're reading because, of course there’s certain things that I'm writing in a journal for a reason, but just this morning was writing in my journal. I find that there's something about putting a pen to paper that forces you to be very deliberate in your word choices too.

Ingrid: It makes me wonder, my favorite letter to make would be the “y”, by the way.’

Kate: Lowercase? Or uppercase?

Ingrid: The lower case. 

Kate: And would this be handwriting or print?

Ingrid: Handwriting. It makes me wonder because I read there was research about why we remember things that we read in physical books or like magazines or things that we can hold. We remember that better than when we read something online. And so there all this research going into it and the finding was that a part of when you're recalling something that you read on the page, it's spatial memory. So that information is stored in two different parts of your brain, like the words, and also like where, physically, it was so that you can access it better and that's why we remember it more. Whereas if you're on a screen, it's all the same place. And so you don't have this extra place that you store that information in. I think that's why we tend to be like, “I don't know where I read that” or like “Was it in The New Yorker?”, that memory isn't there. But it makes me wonder if for writing physically, it makes more of an imprint for the same reason. Cause you have a spatial memory that goes along with it. 

Kate: Definitely. That makes sense to me and something that really feels true.

Ingrid:  Yeah. Yeah. I can totally see that. 

Kate: Thank you so much again for joining us and I am very grateful that you took the time. 

Ingrid: Oh, thank you so much for having me. This was so much fun. 

Kate: Great. Thanks again. Thank you.

Episode 1: Candace Bushnell


You know Candace Bushnell from SEX AND THE CITY, the book that defined culture, dating, and fashion for an entire generation of women. (And brought people like us to New York City.) Her latest book, IS THERE STILL SEX IN THE CITY?, focuses on another dynamic group of friends who grapple with the ever-modernizing phenomena of dating and relationships in their fifties.

In this episode, you'll listen in on Candace's bedtime routines (spoiler alert: get ready for some great book recs!), relationship advice (and break up advice, for that matter), and how she's continuing to change the culture for women. We hope you love the conversation as much as we do. Be sure to listen till the very end (it's only 20mins so don't worry-- we know you're busy) to find out if you won our Hungryroot #shelfcare giveaway.

And don't forget to show off your #shelfcare! Tag us on Instagram to be featured on our feed.

Let's rest and recharge together!
kate and lauren



I finished SEVERANCE by Ling Ma recently and highly recommend it for fans of STATION ELEVEN, THE ROAD, or anyone who wishes Karen Thompson Walker could write a book a year (if you haven't read THE DREAMERS or AGE OF MIRACLES-- what are you doing with your life?!). I also recommend that if you're used to using liquid body wash that you make the switch to bar soap. I'm trying to cut down on my plastic use and as it turns out, I actually like bar soap better! Totally a win-win. I'm using Fresh's Sugar Lemon right now but might switch to something cozier (can a scent be cozy?) now that it's starting to get cooler outside.

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This week #myshelfcare is Rona Jaffe's THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, which feels like VALLEY OF THE DOLLS for the publishing world. I think this book is on every book-lover's bookshelf, no? I first read this during a period of my life when I was not working in book world, and it was complete torture. Despite the awfulness of what happens to April and Gregg, it made me miss publishing badly. You'll also see Natural Herbal Pain Terminator patches. These were recommended to me by my acupuncturist when I had a foot injury and I slapped these babies on with reckless abandon. The relief was almost instant and helped me sleep and get through my day. Buy them in bulk.

Books and products recommended in this episode:

Kate: So right out of the gate, because we're all busy, we want to know, describe your Shelf-Care.

Candace: Well, my shelf care is a ritual that I do pretty much every single night before I go to bed. And the biggest part of the Shelf-Care is reading. And this is to me, reading is probably the best thing that you can do before you go to sleep. It's not all buzzy and distracting like TV and it's a great...telling your brain stories is very, very soothing before you go to bed. And then it's something that you also can look forward to when you're going to sleep. I always have a book and it kind of depends on, you know, I read a lot of things like I’ll read like what's currently on the best-seller list. And then I'll read, you know, more obscure literary books that I get from my publisher, which is Grove Atlantic.

Kate: They published one of my favorite books of the last year. It's called CONVENIENCE STORE WOMAN

Candace: Oh my God. Yes. 

Kate: I love that book.

Candace: So much! And I mean it really makes really made me think, and it made me think about, um, so many, you know, there's so many women's lives out there that we don't see and we have no concept of. And those are the women who are behind the counters. Those are the people who are doing all the behind-the-scenes work. 

Kate: And one of the things that I knew you read recently that I too read and cannot rave about enough is FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE.

Candace: Yes.

Kate: I have been dying to know your thoughts on that. For anyone listening that hasn't read about it or hasn't read it yet, please do read it. It's amazing. But it's about a 40-year-old doctor going through a divorce. 

Candace: I loved it. I thought it was great.I mean it's hard to pull off and she did a great job and she really captured that. It's that 40 something malaise where things really start to turn around and women kind of get a little bit more power and it's, you know, and the kids and everyone's trying to do it all and have it all and it's just too much. I mean, you can just like feel a franticness of their lives, but I thought he actually came across as being pretty sympathetic.

Kate: Yes, I agree. Especially the last part of it that all the characters I've found very empathetic. Just going back to your shelf care, what in addition to reading do you do in the evenings to help you rest and recharge? Are there any products that you always use?

Candace: The one thing that I have is a lavender pillow spray, which is actually not that easy to find. I mean, I really got hooked on his lavender pillow spray. Definitely when I was on one of my book tours. I find that really helps sleep. Another thing is Sleepy Time Tea. So I do sleepy time tea cause I do think that sleep is really restorative. And then I have, God I have like foot cream.

Kate: Oh that sounds lovely. I did a pedicure so badly. I don't even want to touch my own feet right now.

Candace: It sounds horrible and it sounds so weird and nobody wants to touch their feet but it's, it's a great thing. Like you're lying in bed and you're reading. And I have like a serum and then I also have just like a gel that goes over your, your evening, you know, night cream. So I probably do something around my eyes and then I sometimes do night cream and then we'll do like this gel. So I have that. Oh. And then I have M&Ms with peanuts.

Kate: Oh, those are by far the best M&Ms. It's overwhelming these days. There's so many options for M&M's. Why don't they just keep it simple? It’s  just peanut or plain. That's fine. That works. We're so overwritten with choices that it's just a little bit aggressive to have. So a dozen choices for M&M's. But I have a question for you. When you were talking about your sleepy time team, it made me think about how so many people are on the CBD wagon. Have you tried anything? Do you have any thoughts on CBD? Have you done it yourself?

Candace: I mean, CBD really? Like try THC. Um, I, I do sometimes smoke, but I don't do the CBD.

Kate: It's like sugar free cake at a point. It's just like no half the cake. You want the cake.

Candace: You know, I did once try these CBD drops but the tongue and yes they did. W I would say that they did work, but I feel kind of, it felt a little like, eh, the next day.

Kate: I can see that. I know that you spent time in the country after your divorce and you really questioned what you wanted and basically had an existential crisis. And it's funny because I notice in a different way that a lot of women in their thirties also are, you know, having to grapple with these bigger questions like, do I want children? If I want children, what does that mean for my career? Do I actually want kids or am I programmed to want kids? Especially now where women feel more empowered to question what they want versus what they should want. It's funny, I really related to that aspect of your book, just that questioning, okay, what's what, who am I? And especially being recently single, I find that that exasperates it because now I'm just a lot of unknowns. And when you're grappling with these feelings of that existential crisis, what's your favorite way to sort of unwind or how do you react to those? Do you distract or what has helped you to sort of deal with that?

Candace: One of the things that helps me overall and has helped me through all my twenties and thirties is really having work. I mean, it is having in a sense your own life to go back to. And I mean that's always the tricky part about relationship because relationships demand that you make some sort of compromise and give up your own, like you know, for the betterment of the couple. And, and so you give things up and then if you lose the relationship, the question is then what do you have? And you know, you're young so you still have your career. You still have, you know yourself. Hopefully you still have a place to live. I'm assuming that you have income. And you know, so you have a lot of things that really can help you. You still have youth, you know, I mean, you're not 23. 

Kate: Thank God. Thank God I would not go back to my twenties for anything.

Candace:  At the same time, it's like you're not 23. You know what's going on, you know how to do things. This is not your first time. 

Kate: It's not my first rodeo. 

Candace: Yeah. It's not your first rodeo. So you know what to do. And I mean for me, like every time I broke up with a guy, I always found that it was a really good time to get back to me, who I am, on my own and not being in a role of relationship to somebody else. And you know, that means you do more of you. 

Kate: There’s no one else to do. It’s all me, all the time. I've always prided myself on being fiercely independent. But I've noticed I was so used to living with someone that it does get lonely. And is that something that, I know you're in a relationship now, but how have you sort of dealt with those feelings of loneliness when you've been single for quite some time?

Candace: Well, you know, for me, I feel like I always have something to do. 

Kate: Productivity is a great distraction. 

Candace: Given time on my own, I'm going to go out there and create something. I mean I’m going to put my brain to work at something and I think that now is a really good time to like look around at your career, what you want to do, what have you neglected because of this relationship?

Kate: This podcast is one of them.

Candace: So it's this podcast and you know, there are probably some other things as well. I mean the fact is when you're not in a relationship, you do have a lot more time. Yes. Because relationships take so, I mean if you're a woman you have to be working your relationship all the time. 

Kate: And compromising all the time.

Candace: And compromising all the time in a dozen, little tiny ways. Make a list of the compromises that you made. Like for every superhero movie now what are you gonna do and what are you, you know, what are you going to go and watch that you really wanna watch? 

Kate: There’s so much Bravo on in my new apartment, this is basically Andy Cohen all the time. And so also I don't want to do the apps. I feel like if I start doing apps, I'm just going to want a date less and not more. How do you feel about meeting people in real life? Can that happen anymore? And are you someone that supports women hitting on men?

Candace: I have pursued some men, plenty of them. And I think the thinking behind it is that if you pursue a man and you get him, that his feelings for you might not be as strong as if a man pursues you. 

Kate: I so do not agree with that, though. Do you agree with it?

Candace: You know, it's about everybody's ego. 

Kate: It is so about ego.

Candace: It depends on the kind of person you are. Like if someone's pursuing me. I'm like, you know, please don't, I mean I kind of would rather pursue somebody.

Kate: When I approach a man, it's because there's something about them that leads me to believe they're interesting or they're smart.

Candace: A lot of women are like that. 

Kate: Yes, we're more intuitive. 

Candace: You know, a lot of women are like that, but the reverse is not true. 

Kate: Agree completely. Going back, we were talking a little bit about being 23. I was actually 23 when I moved to New York and I was obsessed with sex in the city, just like all of my girlfriends. When I moved to New York, it was basically welcome to New York by Taylor Swift or that came out after. So it was empire state of mind and Sex And the City. I would listen to empire state of mind and I would watch sex in the city on repeat. Did you ever in a million years expect to be the cultural icon that you are today? 

Candace: Yes. But I didn’t think Sex And the City was getting to necessarily be a huge hit. I've always really felt driven to write and to really try to change the culture. And I was and I still am, I'm a feminist and I was when I was very young and sexism is really, you know, one of, I guess one of my platforms. It's something that I've, you know, really worked to try to change. I mean just to try to change women's ideas in their heads of what's possible for them. I really always wanted to smash all of these things that society said about women, you know, from girls being sugar and spice. I grew up in the 60s so we got that kind of messaging constantly. Now what I didn't expect, and I think one of the reasons why it's such a hit is that it's on TV. And TV became more and more of a thing and it was starting to change with Sex And the City. And then you know it was on all the time. And, and so there's, it's really, it's had an incredible reach.

Kate: It has. And one of the things that has separated Sex And The City in addition to the subject matter is there's few shows that have that sort of styling clothes played such an important role on sex in the city, just like Manhattan did clothes and what Carrie wore was constantly being talked about. What role do clothes play in your life?

Candace: I think clothes are exactly what you saw on Sex and the City, their costumes, and you know, Manhattan is New York. I mean, everybody's in a costume. Everybody's in a uniform. And so for me, clothes are costumes and expression. In a city where fashion is one of the biggest industries here. I mean, fashion literally used to be garment district and we're making clothes there.

Kate: Do you remember your first splurge item that you bought for yourself?

Candace: When I went to college, I went to Rice University across the street was Neiman Marcus and I went in there and found this amazing pair of disco Charles Jourdan shoes that were very reduced in price, but still maybe $50, which was a huge amount of money back then, and I bought them and I knew that those were the shoes that were going to take me to New York

Kate: Did they? 

Candace: They did. When I got to New York, I had the right shoes.

Kate: That's the most important thing. When I first moved to New York, I'd be so embarrassed at who I am today. I used to judge women that weren't wearing heels. I don't even own a pair of heels these days. Anytime I see a woman in heels, I think, Oh, that must hurt so badly.

Candace: Really?

Kate: The fashion has changed a lot. Well, Candace, thank you so much. I know you're very busy, so we really appreciate it. This has been such an honor and thank you again for everything.

Candace: Talk soon, bye!

Welcome to The Shelf-Care Podcast

Listen in on conversations with ambitious women about how they rest and recharge.

The Shelf-Care Podcast is like a staycation where you spend your mornings in yoga, your afternoons in a book, your evenings in a sheet mask, and you’re in bed before 11PM (ok, 10:30). It’s a place where a woman can find her next great read, latest skincare obsession, and new favorite wellness hack in less than 30 minutes.