Something Good

At least three topics were half-written and discarded since I decided to share on this blog. When I thought about things I am seeking myself as a woman, professional, and citizen, I could only think: “something comforting, something good.” I didn’t know how to write “goodness,” and then it occurred to me to share what I already have--my favorite self-development tools, study-break treats, and sparks for inspiration.

It’s been a tough few years for me. Life trials peaked in 2015, which was a blur of family emergencies and tragedies in the midst of the major life transitions of completing a graduate program and job searching. (Before this search, I’d never had to submit sixty-three applications for anything.) Just as I was starting to breathe a little easier in my personal life, upheaval in our collective civil life ratcheted up. If you are like me, messages that could be described as “lighthearted” or “soothing” may be few and far between on your social media feeds. In conversation, the doctor’s office, even in my own thoughts, the word “fatigue” comes up far too often. So, for the past couple of years I have made healing and wellness a priority. I became a regular in yoga class, then discovered Tai Chi. (If yoga is not gentle enough for your joints/body, I suggest giving Tai Chi a try. Being able to stay on my feet saves my joints while experiencing benefits similar to doing yoga.) A significant part of my healing prescription is studying to become a licensed massage therapist, a program I am working through slowly but surely. As a side hustle that costs money rather than making money, it sort of misses the mark. Still, its contrast to my daily work balances me in a way that makes it all worth it. Along the way, I have learned to cherish certain media that inspires positivity. I figured this platform was an opportunity to share some of them with you. May you find or rediscover something good--calming, joyful, motivational, challenging--on this list.

Buddha’s Brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love & wisdom – by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius (2009)

My wonderful coworker shared this book with me. I love the first part of the title, but “neuroscience” was kind of intimidating. I am happy to report that it is a good, accessible read. A yoga practitioner I know is one of the gentlest speakers I’ve ever met, and this book reads to me as if he is the narrator. The lessons can be used as takeaways to share with colleagues and students, or studied in depth as a focused self-development project.

Leading Towards Health and Hope – by Larry Roper

In this hour-long recorded presentation as part of Flourishing @ OSU lecture series, Dr. Roper talks about how hope, consciousness, dignity, wellbeing and other factors come into the life of an organization.

Dignity: Its essential role in resolving conflicts – by Donna Hicks (2013)

It’s a familiar story. Decades and decades of hard work and scholarship culminate in a simple, profound realization. Dr. Hicks practiced conflict resolution in high-level, highly political contexts, which led to the realization that--guess what--we are human beings with a need to have our inherent worth acknowledged. I like to think that, as a caring person, honoring the dignity of others is so well ingrained I don’t need to think about it. Dr. Hick’s message, though, has had a subtle impact on me. An easy introduction to her work is “Declare Dignity,” a 20-minute TED Talk at TEDxStormont. Dr. Hicks has also written Leading with Dignity: How to create a culture that brings out the best in people (2018), and has a website with a Declaration of Dignity.

The Beauty of Conflict – by Clair Canfield (2016)

I am not about Northwest Nice. In my 5 years living in Oregon, this attitude is a strong #2 on my list of things I could do without. I believe civility is not just being nice, keeping your voice down. A truer kindness is making the effort and braving the vulnerability to say what you need to say. “Conflict” isn’t such a bad word when you have the skills to know peace of mind is waiting on the other side. After experiencing the insult (yep, insult) of Northwest Nice, this 20-minute TED Talk--discovered thanks to another amazing colleague--really spoke to me.

Calmer You website and podcast - by Chloe Brotheridge

I found this site while working on mindful eating, and ended up appreciating the techniques to help settle my body. The podcast episodes feel authentic, and there is a list of several other podcast resources (haven’t tried them all).

Climbing PoeTree – Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman

When I want to be fired up and calmed down, somehow at the same time, I click on the Experience tab of this website. I saw Alixa and Naima perform twice at OSU during grad school, and since then my favorite study break is to binge watch YouTube videos of their performances. Like many, my all-time favorite is the poem “Being Human.”

The Couragemakers podcast - by Meg Kissack

Honestly, I haven’t fully explored the blog and podcast, but appreciate what I have heard so far. Meg Kissack interviews women forging original paths with heavy doses of creativity. She also maintains a blog called “That Hummingbird Life.” I decided to share it simply because it has done enough to bring my awareness and intention towards developing the part of me that is an encourager. I like the idea of amplifying women’s voices.

25 Stories for Peace

A collection of tough (but inspiring!) stories may not be everyone’s idea of a relaxing time, but I love finding them. From my ESL teaching days, I still have a habit of searching for compelling and accessible reading passages, images, and graphics. (Where was Pinterest in 1999 when my picture file was 10 binders deep?) When I don’t feel like I can commit to cracking a novel, or there are already 3 books on the nightstand, I love a quick read from my story collections. In the same line--but with a completely different theme-- the Mysteries Abound podcast has well over 150 episodes of narrated stories about “the unusual, the strange, the perplexing and the down-right odd.”

Weightless by Marconi Union

The most relaxing song in the world, according to science 

Soul Music podcast

This podcast is currently #2 on my Best Ever list. My girls are permanently ranked #1, so #2 is quite an honor. Soul Music is a BBC Radio program, with each episode being an exploration of the personal and cultural impact of a single song (or genre). My three favorites are “You Are My Sunshine,” “True Colors,” and “Songs of the Civil Rights Movement.”  FYI, you might cry.

At some point, the list was loosely organized into professional and personal resources, but I hope the distinction is as blurred for you as it is for me, and you’ll find ways to use them in all areas of life. Perhaps one of these recommendations will bring to mind a few treasures that make you smile…and inspire you to share them. Take good care.


Shalece Rains is the Ombuds Administrative Program Coordinator for Oregon State University's University Ombuds Office. She may be reached via email at




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