Best of 2022

I am absolutely loving the best of lists from my friends and heroes. So, why not put my two cents into the world? Here are some things I have loved in 2022…

Books

Stolen Focus by Johann Hari: This book had me thinking deeply about my relationship with technology. As someone who has a well-cultivated network online, I want to find a way to maintain this goodness while reducing the mental and physical impacts of my scrolling habits.

And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle by Jon Meacham: Obviously, anyone who knows me is mildly concerned about my love for historian Jon Meacham. Having read or listened to many of his books and his podcasts (see below), I found the nuances of Lincoln’s internal struggle and leadership to bring new light to this complex person.

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker: This has been on my shelf for a very long time, and I’m deeply grateful for this work. It affirms my desire for deep intention in gathering, everything from seating to the color of sticky notes. I keep giving it to others with the hopes of sparking their own intentions.

Turning to One Another by Margaret Wheatley: This was recommended to me by my friend, Rhonda, years ago, and I don’t know what sparked my finally opening the spine. Deep provocations about the state of conversation and connection in the world which provide space for self-reflection and group connection.

See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur: I’ve written of the beauty of this text before and can’t speak enough of its beauty. Valarie Kaur is a remarkable tale weaver who offers her brutal and beautiful story, and how love will concur it all.

Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer: read during a particularly hard time in 2022. Part memoir, part life guidebook, this short but powerful read is a must for all who lead, learn, or guide.

The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers: It took me the better part of five months to read this masterpiece. Layer upon layers of a family built from trauma, resilience, and love. I am deeply grateful for the moments spent with this book.

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist: read in the first weeks of 2022, this book is one I’ll need to come back to again and again.

Podcasts

Sold a Story: As the leader of teachers of reading, I follow the revival of reading wars closely. Many of my faculty friends were trained up in an environment of balanced literacy. As we discover the neuroscience behind learning to read, Sold a Story, and the work of Emily Hanford, give us a lot to chew upon.

Gangster Capitalism Season 3: A brutal look at the corruption at Liberty University and specifically the way that Jerry Falwell supported the silencing of sexual assault and filled his own coffers. It is maddening but an important listen as we unpeel the layers of so-called leaders for the Church.

Dare to Lead Podcast, episodes with Simon Sinek & Adam Grant: Rarely do I slow down and take notes with a podcast, but for this two-part series on the state of work, it was a must. Highly recommended read for all of those who lead, but also all those who have concerns about the state of work in America.

For the People with Bishop Wright (Foley Beach episode): I adore listening to Bishop Rob Wright (Diocese of Atlanta) every week. He brings deep insight into the world for Episcopalians and non-Episcopalians alike. In his conversation with Bishop Foley Beach of the ACNA, I found his patience, grace, and embodiment of love radiate through even when there was significant theological disagreement.

TV/Movies/Theatre

The Summer I Turned Pretty (amazon prime): I admit that I broke my own rule and watched the series without reading the books, but oh, how I became invested in this love triangle last summer. A thoughtful and heart roller coastering tale.

For All Mankind (Apple TV+): I’ve loved every season of this series and the most recent season took us to Mars with gusto and drama. My girl Molly never fails me.

The Met Opera HD Live: The Hours: I have seen the ads for the Met at the movies for years and have never actually gone. My desire to see the new production of The Hours starring Renee Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, and Kelli O’Hara ran so deep I decided to give it a go. Not only was the experience a hoot (junior mints at the opera!) but the production was mesmerizing. The work is rich, complex, and melodically luxurious. The use of the Greek chorus and dancers created nuance as the three stories were intricately woven together. I really hope a cast recording was created.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones-Lyric Opera of Chicago: It was worth every penny and missed minute of work to go to Chicago to see this premiere production by Terence Blanchard based on Charles M. Blow’s memoir. A jazz influenced score and out of this world dancing, it was one of the finest pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a long time.

Bono in conversation with Jon Meacham: I had no idea the impact that this conversation was going to have on my heart. I knew that I love Bono. I knew I love Jon Meacham. I knew it would be a nice convo. What I didn’t expect was the depth to which Bono would intricately describe what it means to be the hands and feet of God on Earth. His story of faith that is so little about religion and so much more about heeding the Great Commandment. Then, when the choir of Men and Girls broke into Bob Chilcott’s arrangement of MLK, I was simply undone. I cannot wait to read Surrender over the break.

Music

Forward by Ashes & Arrows: I first met this band at the Wild Goose Festival where the first performed on a side stage. I caught the end of their act after Compline in the Episcopal Tent and whoa. So thankful they played at lunch the next day to absolutely wow the Cafe tent. I keep hoping that someone like Drew Holcolmb will pick them up for a tour. Fingers crossed!

Weiner Strong playlist: This summer, two of my former students were tragically killed in a housefire while on vacation. It was a gut punch to see two bright lights go out from this world. Grateful to have been “friends” with the younger sister on Spotify, I’ve found this particular playlist to bring joy and hope into the world, just like L & J did for their friends, family, and even strangers.

Steve Hackman-Beethoven vs. Coldplay: Last season I went to my first Fusion concert from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Brahms vs. Radiohead blew my darn mind. This season they are doing a whole new series including Beethoven vs. Coldplay. I’m really excited for how this rendition of my favorite symphony, #3, is going to remix.

What did you enjoy in 2022? What did you read, see, listen to that I shouldn’t miss? Here is to closing 2022 with one last book and starting fresh in 2023.

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