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This month has been tough. During this fourth month of lockdown I have felt constrained, frustrated, unproductive, uninspired and, to be quite honest, drained. For an eternal optimist, it’s a difficult place to be. To find inspiration, I’ve spent my down time with some great people I admire and read a few good books.  

So if you’re feeling the same, or are perhaps looking for something new or different when you need to unwind, these are some of my favourite podcasts, TED Talks, books and series this month.

Listen up

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Michelle Obama’s podcast. This week she kicked it off with my dream dinner guest, President Barack Obama. They are voices of sanity in a mad world.

She kicks off the series discussing our relationship with community and country, our place in the world and how we can use our power for good; to build a world of “us”, not “them”; that we find purpose and joy when we remember that each of us is our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. It’s a reminder that it costs us nothing to show some kindness, generosity of spirit and understanding towards others – neighbours, friends, family, colleagues.

On a lighter note, the President’s laugh and their easy riffing with a great audio bed make this a great way to spend 45 minutes.

Let someone else do the (TED)Talking

Sleep is the single most important thing we can do for our health every day. Those who know me will know that I believe a good night’s sleep to be the holy grail (you can read my post on sleep here). Matt Walker, sleep scientist, does a deep dive into the impact of sleep – or lack thereof – on your health. He makes complex physiological issues easy to digest, and might just help you better understand your own sleep cycle and how you can improve it.

Watch his TED Talks here:

Grab a book for the weekend

Reese Witherspoon’s book club, Hello Sunshine is a great place to look for Women-centric reads. Her selection is broad and there’s something for everyone. I love a great biography or non-fiction read, but this past month I’ve felt the need for something easy and light.

July’s picks:  “I’m still here” – Austin Channing Brown and “The Guest List” – Lucy Foley

Go digging in her archives for the full list – I guarantee you’ll find some gems!

Make TV time educational, inspiring and entertaining

The short winter days mean we’re spending a little more time on the couch. While we’re unable to physically travel anywhere, I’ve turned to Netflix to get my fix. “Down to Earth” is entertaining and intriguing, touching on a variety of topics and inspiring new pins to add to the map. Throw in a bit of eye-candy with Zac Efron (for my daughter) and it’s a winner.

Watch it on Netflix

My other favourites have been “Somebody Feed Phil” (also on Netflix) and “Gordon, Gino and Fred: Road Trip (UK’s iTV). They’re very different – as you can imagine – but I have seen food and places that are now on my bucket list and we’ve belly-laughed during both.

The round up

Whilst I have been taking my own advice and not bashed myself over the head for being unproductive and what I would usually deem rather slovenly, as we head into August, I’m wishing for renewed energy, motivation, progress and in the words of Anne Murray “a little good news”! I’d love to hear about how you’re getting through a Covid-19 slump?

Liz Grantham