The Crush Letter No 111: Calm TF Down

. 16 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love, and culture for those 40+.  Because midlife and beyond is so much cooler than they said it would be.  Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

I recently got back onto the dating apps (again). Hence the theme for this week's Letter, Calm TF Down.

The last time I was on a dating app, a few years back, I was a wreck. Not just jittery nerves. I had sick-to-my-stomach nervousness.

On my first dating app "meet up" I was so anxious I actually flubbed ordering the car. Behind from the start, I then had problems getting an uber to come out to my remote location during rush hour. I texted my date from the back seat to give him a head's up: I am running late – I hadn't factored in either rush hour or the well-publicized shut down of a major artery due to construction. He responded "Seriously? Is that bullshit or for real? How  does somebody with an MBA fuck that up?" "I'm so sorry," I said, "it's my first date in a while."  I had to ask the driver to pull the car over because I felt sick. "Honey," the driver told me, "I don't feel good about this date. How about we u-turn instead?"

We didn't u-turn it, unfortunately. My date and I were supposed to meet for a quick drink, but by the time I showed up he was on his way out to the date following mine, a dinner. He greeted me with "I don't actually believe that you're that nervous, or that flaky. Pretty women think they can get away with anything. It's rude." (Of course he was right that it was rude.)

I started crying on the spot. He was (evidently) overwhelmed with sympathy for a brief moment, and he bear-hugged me as a demonstration of forgiveness. But my mascara (and other make-up) got all over his pressed white dress shirt. I looked at him and saw a large blob of watered-down black and pink. Like a Helen Frankenthaler painting, except not. Since he was running off to his next date, I felt like I had to gave him the head's up "Ummm, I sort of messed up your shirt, crying on it." He looked down and said "Holy shit." "Can I get you some water and a napkin from the bar?" I asked. "No. You're a mess. Just stay TF away from me."

Anyway, things are going better this time around. Well. I am going better this time around. I'm the ocean.

But still, before as I start the dating app journey again I thought I'd brush up on some calming practices. Hence the Calm TF Down Letter.

And you? You may not be on the dating apps, but it is the end of the school year, and summer (and its joys and crush) is on you. You've got whatever worries and annoyances you've got (finding an affordable yet perfect place for a family summer vacation, trying on bathing suits, figuring out who is going to check on your elderly parents when you're away, trying to find somebody to take care of the dog). You probably need a little calm too.

Hope this helps you find some.

In This Letter. +Top Ten Jazz Albums To Soothe Your Soul. By Lisa Ellex    +Calm App Review: “If I Traveled Or Worked In An Office, I Would Rely On This App Heavily” By Evie Arnaude    +Drinking In Calm. By Dish Stanley  A lot of friends have been doing the "sober curious" thing for a while now. I was not one of them. Until ...   +Wanna Know What Keeps Us Calm? We’ll Tell You. If you love the practice of using apps to quench anxiety or drift off to sleep you might—big “might”!—love using this one.    +Books to Help You Chill TF Out    +{Re-Share} Bedtime Rituals for Couples. By Lauren D. Weinstein   +Our Song of the Week You wrapped me up in the color of love

Top Ten Jazz Albums To Soothe Your Soul. By Lisa Ellex

From its origins in Creole and Dixieland, to its evolution through swing, bebop, Latin, Afro Cuban, Brazilian, straight ahead, and beyond, jazz comes in a variety of forms. Here’s my top ten list of the old faithfuls I spin when I’m in need of something soothing.

1.  Eliane Elias Dreamer (2004)

Legendary Brazilian pianist, composer, and vocalist Eliane Elias is one of the few remaining musicians of the Brazilian bossa nova movement. A protégé of Vinicius de Moraes (lyricist and songwriting partner of the movement’s father, Antonio Carlos Jobim), her music exemplifies the sound of the genre. The standard selections on Dreamer offer Elias’ most sultry singing and makes this recording perfect for quiet and relaxing moments. On tour right now, be sure to catch her if she’s performing at a venue near you.

2. Carmen McRae Ballad Essentials (1999)

A compilation extracted from four of Ms. McRae’s Concord albums recorded in the 1980s, Ballad Essentials is the perfect primer if you’re unfamiliar with the genius of McRae. Legendary pianist George Shearing joins McRae on the standards “Don’t Stand A Ghost of A Chance,”  “More Than You Know,” “Too Late Now,” and “If I Should Lose You,” and her rendition of “These Foolish Things” is one of the best I’ve heard. The album’s final cut is a great version of “Fine And Mellow” (written by Billie Holiday) that features Jack McDuff on the Hammond B3.

3 . Chet Baker Plays For Lovers (2006)

Whether he’s playing the trumpet or singing, trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker’s breathy technique is hypnotic. Plays For Lovers is a 2006 compilation of four of the artist’s albums from the era of cool, the 1950s and ‘60s. Perfectly romantic, my only wish is that he sang on this most gorgeous rendition of “Moonlight In Vermont.”

4. Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto Getz/Gilberto (1964)

When Brazilian musician/composer Antonio Carlo Jobim brought his band of bossa to Carnegie Hall in 1962, he invited American tenor saxophonist Stan Getz to join the lineup. This single night of music set off the bossa nova craze in the United States that spread the world over. Getz and Jobim’s guitarist/singer, Joao Gilberto, went on to record the now classic Getz/Gilbert and forged this dreamy Brazilian sound that is the bossa we still can’t get enough of -- nearly 60 years later!

If there is a bossa nova bible, this is it! The album offers the perfect balance of instrumental and vocal selections and features Gilberto’s wife, vocalist Astrud. Though I’ve heard it for decades, I never tire of Getz’ gorgeous, breathy solo on this cut.

Every offering on this record is a stand-out, but you’ll especially love the classic “Corcovado” (“Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”) with vocals provided by Mr. and Mrs. Gilberto in both English and Portuguese.  

5. Miles Davis Kind of Blue (1959)

Considered the best jazz album of all time, Miles Davis assembled a rhythm section comprised of pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb, and completed the sextet with saxophonists Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane. Bill Evans sat out on the “Freddie Freeloader” track to give the bench to gone-too-soon pianist Wynton Kelly, making for a personnel of seven jazz giants. With no charts and no rehearsal, these men changed the sound of jazz.

6. Martina DaSilva  Living Room 3 (2022)

Releasing her sixth album in just three years, Martina DaSilva is a meteor. Her smooth and breathy timbre is always warm, tranquil, and seductive, and her interpretation and unique phrasing set her apart from many of her contemporaries. On her newest record, Living Room 3, she sings in English, Portuguese and French, never failing to communicate the essence of the song. A bonus on this record is the appearance of the fabulous Nicole Zuraitis joining DaSilva on “End of the Road.”  And just when I thought we didn’t need yet another version of “Moody’s Mood for Love,” DaSilva proves me wrong with her delightful rendition positioned on the record’s final cut, joined by Lucas Pino on sax. Keep your eye on this rising star.

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Calm App Review: “If I Traveled Or Worked In An Office, I Would Rely On This App Heavily”. By Evie Arnaude

If you love the practice of using apps to quench anxiety or drift off to sleep you might—big “might”!—love using this one.

When I started the process of writing this review, I hadn’t realized I’d actually downloaded the Calm app years ago and never used it--quickly understanding why. I have a solid meditation ritual already in place, and am extremely discerning of “practices” you have to pay for. So, straight off, I have a bias.

What’s more, for some folks (and I am one of those, apparently) don’t align with apps for this kind of purpose. I find it slightly un-calming to take the initiative to open an app to achieve “calm.”

Financially, this isn’t all that cheap, either. You can apply for a free trial with consent to subscribe and “cancel any time.” After a seven-day trial, you’ll be automatically enrolled. The price at the time of this writing is $69.99 per year or $14.99 per month. I opted for the yearly price.

Once you’ve put in some identifiers—so the app knows your goals, likes, all about you—you’ll open the app, as I did today, and it asks, with an array of varied smiley and downtrodden emojis to choose from, and let it know how you’re doing. Today, I’m unsure, and I tell it so with hesitancy, mostly because I’m afraid of where and how exactly this information is being used in the world of app non-privacy.

In the background, I can hear the sound of ocean waves, an immediate dopamine rush, and for that, I am grateful. This is my favorite part of this app so far and what I come back for (when I remember). I am a gigantic fan of ambient sounds and until the Calm app, I’ve been getting them for free on YouTube.

Scrolling down a bit, I’m offered various curated daily inspirations. I like Jay Shetty and he has a message for me today entitled “Learn to Fall.” In fact, there are three mini-lessons from Jay on this list, as well as several beginner meditation courses, all incredibly well done, if you’re just starting out. (I am not and told them so…still wondering why they keep sending me these.)

There are many apps out there that claim to help you get calm—Calm got the best reviews and, as you may already know from their remarkably effective marketing, have celebrity-read bedtime stories (that’s simplifying…though not really). I remember Harry Styles being features in all those ads, with a 39-minute lull-me-to-sleep “Dream With Me,” monologue that is, in fact, quite dreamy. Cillian Murphy, Matthew McConaughey, Alan Sklar, David Walliams, and so many more, offer soothing words on sleepy-inducing tones to help you achieve sweet dreams.

Although these are remarkably well done—and achieving good sleep was one of my main goals with this app, as it is in life—I don’t gravitate towards these for some reason. I would recommend though, and the production is excellent.

My other personal goal was anxiety reduction, and I was hoping the app would offer some guidance for how to achieve that. They do. They have meditative, chill-out remixes, perfect if you like chill-out music.

Perhaps one of my favorite elements is the movement feature. On my app, and not sure if this is true for everyone’s yoga and meditation teacher, Mel Mah, , has created short, simple, instructional guided courses for every mood in every variety. She is purely cheery and wonderful and worth the price of the app alone. That said, even Mel Mah, who I obvious like and endorse, is not enough to make me keep going back, as I don’t like performing these kinds of exercises on my phone and prefer a larger TV-sized screen.

In sum, I highly recommend the app—for people who gravitate towards apps. Calm has fantastic reviews and ratings for a reason: Everything they do is exquisitely produced and well thought it. Apps, for me, are never truly personal no matter how “personalized.” If I traveled or still worked in an office, I think I would rely on this app heavily for ready-made calming help. However, as I’m primarily homebound and someone who has everything I need here, I personally gravitate towards the old-school no-tech approach.

Drinking In Calm. By Dish Stanley

A lot of friends have been doing the "sober curious" thing for a while now. I was not one of them.

I like the ritual of a nightly cocktail - a dry gin with club soda and a slice of grapfruit - or a glass of minerally chablis. Or sometimes an earthy Willamette Valley pinot noir. It's a marker that breaks the day and signals an ease into the evening and unwind mode. Maybe it's age, maybe it's all the "sober curious" hype but I've started to feel my alcoholic indulgences the next day. In an attempt to get rid of the dragginess I feel some mornings I started experimenting with some of the non-alcoholic spirits. All the ritual, none of the drag. At least that's what I was after.

My favorite of the genre is Aplos Calme. They market it as a "functional, non-alcoholic spirit." It's a citrusy, herbally, minerally blend. By "functional" I think they are referring to broad-spectrum hemp that does the work of calming.

I've slid into a nice little drill. Two or three times a week I pour 2 oz of Aplos Calme over ice into a crystal tumbler, add 2 oz of tonic water (I particularly like the grapefruit tonic water) and a slice of either orange or grapefruit. Mix, stir and chill. It's a very moderate change, but it feels good all around.

Wanna Know What Keeps Us Calm? We’ll Tell You.

From God to dogs to wine to audiobooks–here’s where the folks at PrimeCrush find their peace and quiet.

Dish Stanley

“Having my oversized dog resting on me — whether she is lying down or leaning against my legs as we wait for a green walk sign — feeling her pressed against my legs steadies and reassures me. Just like demonstrated loyalty from anyone does, really.”

Evie Arnaude

“Audiobooks! I have so many on my phone and I know which readers have the voice that makes me sleepy. I guess I really like being read a bedtime story.”

Lisa Ellex

“It always helps me to remember to breathe, stay present, and reach deep in my core and trust that I am part of the divine. It also helps to engage in my work (either making words or music) as it gives me purpose and is quite grounding.  If I can’t keep still, I’ll take a walk in nature or through a thrift shop, depending where I am at the time. It really helps me sort things out.  And then there’s wine.”

Bob Guccione Jr.

“God calms me. Personally. He comes, we sit, we chat, he reminds me this is part of the overall journey, not the whole game, chill, relax, love your loved one, be kinder and gentler to everyone else first, before complaining about how hard they make it for me. He really is a very nice chap.”

Lynn Eaton

"Music calms me. Sometimes it's Mozart, Vivaldi or Beethoven, other times it's Led Zeppelin,  Queen or Santana. Or  it's Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. And sitting at the piano or strumming my guitar infuses my entire body with calm and soothing vibes."

5 Books to Help You Chill TF Out.

What’s disrupting your piece? We’ve curated a shortlist of books that might help you find it (and hold onto it).

How to Calm Your Mind: Finding Presence and Productivity in Anxious Times by Chris Bailey

These are tough times—this book is here to help. Bailey utilizes scientific-backed research to help you stay calm and productive, no matter what’s going on in the world around you.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

This may be the magic cure-all to just about everything. The key here is to be honest about our limitations and stop poisoning our lives with toxic positivity.

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? By Dr. Julie Smith

A therapist fills us in on her best advice for preserving and prioritizing your mental health, regardless of circumstance. Dr. Smith has such a personable way of guiding, sharing and helping—you feel like she’s an old friend.

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

If you’re looking for a guidebook that you can dip into for essentially anything you need, Matt Haig has been working on this one for years. It’s personal to him, but relatable (and helpful) to all of us.

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety by Sarah Wilson

The author herself struggles with chronic anxiety, and shares some of the practices she believes in—from nurturing food to gratitude—that might also help you. The title and the book’s overall theme reminds us all that no matter what our demons, they are a part of us.

Bedtime Rituals for Couples. By Lauren D. Weinstein

Spice up your bedtime routine with simple rituals for relaxing, bonding, and igniting a spark.

Bedtime rituals that couples often do together can become mundane. (Think brushing your teeth and spitting a mouthful of Colgate down the drain together.) The same old grind can lose its flavor like a stale, day-old Pop-Tart--and in dire need of resuscitation. The daily predictable patterns can inadvertently steal the joy out of a relationship and become at risk for complacency which leads to deadly indifference. But have no fear! Incorporating the right rituals can ignite powerful bonds, connections, and harmony. Sharing things with your significant other, whether it’s a bucket of popcorn while watching Netflix, taking turns giving each other a back rub, or leaving each other a loving/silly/sexy Post-It note in a totally unexpected place can foster positive feelings that last well after the day is over. Rituals don’t have to be expensive, elaborate, or time-consuming but an opportunity to reinforce that your relationship is a priority.

Bedtime can be the perfect time to unwind and indulge your partner by introducing simple rituals that can have an impact on intimacy and encourage a blissful night’s sleep. Here’s how you can incorporate or tweak the ones you already have:

First, set the mood: Dim the lights, turn off the technology!  Do you really need to text your co-worker, now, in bed?

And here are my suggestions for taking it all one step further...

Hit the Shower: I remember my ex used to say that a shower washed off the day. He was 100% right. Take turns giving your boo a scrub down. The power of touch builds intimacy and makes every inch of you feel pampered.

Try: Goop G. Tox 5 Salt Detox Body Scrub. It exfoliates, softens, hydrates, and detoxifies with 5 mineral-rich salts, $40.00.

I also like Pacifica’s Lavendar Moon Body Scrub, $13.00.

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Song Of The Week

Kiss of Life (Lovers Life) By Sade

This is Sade live from 2015, at her chillest best.

2015 Live Performance Listen Here

Some Past Stories You Won't Want To Miss:

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Top Ten Jazz Albums To Soothe Your Soul. By Lisa Ellex
From its origins in Creole and Dixieland, to its evolution through swing, bebop, Latin, Afro Cuban, Brazilian, straight ahead, and beyond, jazz comes in a variety of forms. Here’s my top ten list of the old faithfuls I spin when I’m in need of something soothing. 1. Eliane
Culture / Comments. By Dish Stanley
A place to share loose thoughts & stray ramblings on what’s happening. It’s a new thing! Stay tuned as it evolves. Let’s call this our “April in New York” Edition. Mostly because I was in New York this week. The water feature in Terminal B, snapped off of the Terminal B
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Dish Stanley XO,


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