Filling My Cup in New Orleans

Filling My Cup in New Orleans

How do you fill your cup? What fills your soul? We all need to take time to fill ourselves up.
There are so many ways we can do this. Standing on top of a mountain seeing views for miles, listening to the ocean waves crashing, holding a child’s hand, lying in the arms of a lover until your heartbeats synchronize, sitting in church or temple and feeling the glory of God, camping in the desert or the woods and taking in the wonder of nature, taking a break from the day-to-day and spending time with people you adore.
It’s not so much how we do it, but that we take the time to do it.
What fills my cup might drain yours and vice versa. We all need to figure out what fills us up.
I spent last week filling my cup with music and great friends in an amazing city. I danced, I sang, I ate a million oysters, I strolled the French Quarter, I drank a Sazerac (or three), I had beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe DuMonde. I stood on the bank of the Mississippi River and marveled at it’s beauty, I wandered a couple of Voodoo shops.
As a single mom without another parent to share the responsibility, I don’t get breaks from parenting. I am blessed to have an incredibly easy, loving kid. And, I love to get away occasionally for an all-adult, weekend. I get to do this once or twice a year. These weekends pretty much always involve people I love to spend time with. Sometimes they are decadent concert weekends. Sometimes they are quiet, spiritual, contemplative yoga and meditation weekends. Both recharge me and top off my cup.
It took me a while to realize that self-care doesn’t have to equate to austerity. While some of my yoga/Ayurveda/health coach friends might look askance at my wild weekend in New Orleans, I know that I am being my authentic self (see my last post) and loving my life. I am an Enneagram type 7. A pleasure-seeker, a hedonist. No wonder I never felt quite right following a traditional Ayurvedic lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong – I love Ayurveda. And I love the fact that it’s not dogmatic and gives me a lot of wiggle room. I’ve had some Ayurvedic teachers who were more dogmatic than Ayurveda itself. Every time I heard the term, “non-negotiable,” from one of them, I immediately started looking for ways to negotiate.
If I come away from a weekend of Sex & Drugs & Rock and Roll (figuratively, of course!), feeling insanely happy and full of memories that last a lifetime, I feel no guilt about the fact that I ate dinner at 10 pm, day-drank and didn’t meditate. I’m home and I’m back to my healthy habits. One of the great things about living a life with healthy, Ayurvedic habits, is they stay with you, even when you go off. I had no concerns that I’d come back and continue to overindulge and stay up late or blow off my exercise routine. My good habits are well-enough ingrained in me, that I can go off, with little ill-effect and come right back to them.
Now for my Don’t Try This at Home, Kids lecture. 
I’ve been working on health, Ayurveda, yoga and putting good habits in place for years. So, I can go off the proverbial wagon without losing everything I’ve worked towards. If you are new to trying to become the healthiest, happiest version of yourself, you might need to be stricter with things in the beginning. But the way I look at it, is the goal is not to give up things that are “bad for you,” forever, but to be grounded enough in your healthy habits that you can have the freedom to do whatever you want. On occasion.
It’s also important to find things to fill your cup, that are aligned with your habits. Yoga, meditation, being in nature, skiing – all fill my cup, in a much healthier fashion. And, as I mentioned earlier, what fills my cup may not fill yours. Maybe you love crafting. For me, just the thought of walking into Joanne’s makes me queasy. Maybe you are dying to go to Disney World; I’d rather put a sharp stick in my eye.
In my Whole Life Coaching program, we delve into all of these things. First we focus on physical health and getting healthy habits ingrained. We work on organizing our time, space, and finances. Then we move on to the really juicy stuff. What’s makes your heart sing? What fills your cup? How can you shape your life into exactly what you want it to be? I’ll show you how you can make the time to make your life work for you, instead of you working your life away.  Email for more information.
I’m Sorry, Did I Make You Uncomfortable? On Living An Authentic Life.

I’m Sorry, Did I Make You Uncomfortable? On Living An Authentic Life.

I don’t care if you like me.
I’d like you to like me. I’d prefer you to like me. I enjoy being liked, and loved, as much as anyone. But, in the end, it is more important to me to to live and speak my truth, than to be liked. And that means not everyone will like me. And I can’t care about that.
Years ago, when my daughter was in Brownies, I made the audacious (you’d think blasphemous, from the reaction I got!) suggestion that an organization such as the Girl Scouts, that prides itself on empowering young women, should not be having girls selling crappy junk food for its fundraiser.
I need to add a disclaimer here. I am not against cookies per se. I do even occasionally buy Girl Scout cookies, because I want to support the girl scouts that I know and this is currently the only way to do so. My thought was that an organization as large and powerful as Girl Scouts shouldn’t be pushing young kids to sell crap. It shouldn’t be the institutionalized directive.  How great would it be if their fundraiser was also something that taught the importance of health and wellness? In this age of rampant childhood obesity, why would such a group continue to do this?
I got all excited and fired up. I went to the other moms with the brilliant idea that we, as a troop, take a stand. That we come up with our own fundraiser, that truly empowered girls. We would have the girls understand how important health is. We’d let the Girl Scouts organization know what we’re doing and why. We’d be starting a paradigm shift –  a revolution! Maybe there would even be a movie made about us, like Erin Brokovitch!
Guess how that went over. 
They looked at me like I had just suggested we put swastikas on the Brownie uniforms. One, who I don’t think disagreed with me completely, said that we were just one small group and there’s no way we could make a difference. To which I responded with my favorite quote from the amazing Margaret Meade.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
She was unimpressed. The Cookie Mom (yes, that’s a thing) actually yelled at me, told me I should take my kid out of Girl Scouts, a few other choice words, and finished it up by telling me that I was a rotten yoga teacher. Needless to say, Stella didn’t continue with Girl Scouts (her choice). She learned an important lesson in standing up for what’s right. I was proud of her and she was proud of me.
I got myself into a similar situation this past week. I somehow ended up in a Facebook group that was supposedly a support group for women going through menopause. I’ve always been bothered when women denigrate themselves, even in jokes. Memes with women inadvertently putting themselves down are all over Facebook. You know the kind, “I used to be hot, now I’m hot flashes,” jokes about needing alcohol to deal with children/partners, jokes about weight gain, stretch pants etc., blah blah blah. I always gently call out my friends who post these things, asking them to consider why they participate in this kind of negative self-talk. You see, our brains don’t know the difference between joking and not. We internalize the negative.
It’s not news that humor can be great and it can be hurtful. These days, racist jokes are unacceptable. Most people agree that sexist jokes, when delivered by men, are not cool. So, why do we jokingly allow our sisters to do it to themselves? My theory is that over millennia of patriarchy, women are so used to being put down, that we don’t even realize we are doing it to ourselves.
So, I brought this up in the menopause group, after somebody posted an awful cartoon of a fat, sweaty old lady with saggy boobs and a caption that read something like, “why must we be punished with menopause?” I’m sure you can guess where this is going. I was told to “Get a fucking sense of humor,” to “Get over myself,” to go away and that I was a drama queen. Funny, that I was suggesting that we build each other up, rather than tear ourselves down and for that, I got attacked.
I have heard some people say (mostly men), that that’s just how women are. They’re catty, they tear each other down to make themselves feel better. To that I call BULLSHIT. The women I hang out with, both in person and online support me and hold me up every single day. They are badass Goddesses and I could not live without them. They are are supportive, awesome and funny AF.
I think I’m fortunate, in that standing up for myself comes pretty naturally to me. I’m fiery, I’m opinionated, and I don’t back down from arguments. (My Pitta personality. Always have to throw in a smidge of Ayurveda!) I’ve been told I’m a know-it-all, that I can be too forceful and that I’m argumentative. I have softened some. Deliberately. I have worked hard at being able to listen to opinions that differ from mine, without immediately interjecting. I’ve worked on taking constructive criticism. I understand that I can’t just be a train wreck of forcing my beliefs on everyone all the time. And when I do argue, I do my best to do it respectfully. I don’t always succeed. I’m still working on it.
My point is, that we all sometimes have to take a stand. We need to stand up for what is right and just. In order to live an authentic life, we have to examine ourselves and our beliefs and behaviors. Sometimes our beliefs are self-limiting, sometimes we act out of our limiting beliefs. In my work as a coach, I push my clients out of their comfort zones and encourage them to change their self-limiting patterns. (Sometimes I do this in my personal relationships too, which goes over less well!) I encourage them to move out of their self-created status quo and step into their personal power. Their authentic selves. This doesn’t mean you’ve got to jump into an argument with everyone who has a differing opinion. We do have to pick our battles. But if we find that we’re constantly living in a way that is out of integrity with our true desires for our lives, it’s time to make some changes.
So, how did it end with the Facebook group? I left a Peace Out final message and left the group. I invited anyone who wanted to be part of a truly supportive group to private message me. And guess what happened. They started messaging me. They’ve joined my group. And I’m going to support the hell out of every single one of them.
I recently heard someone say, “I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.” I love that. I’m not either.
The Music’s in Me – Discovering a Lost Part of Myself

The Music’s in Me – Discovering a Lost Part of Myself

Disclaimer: This post contains nothing directly related to yoga, Ayurveda or health. But, if you’re willing to look under the surface, you’ll see that it’s about something that is part of my yoga. And maybe you’ll be prompted to look more deeply into what is your yoga. On & Off the Mat. 
I’ve always had good taste in music (if I may be so bold as to make that proclamation.) The first three albums I ever bought (at the same time) were Some Girls by the Rolling Stones, 52nd Street by Billy Joel and Night Moves by Bob Seger. Ok, you might not think those are the the greatest albums ever, but for a 13-year-old in 1978, it was pretty damn progressive. Consider that most of my friends were listening to Sean Cassidy and the Partridge Family.
Music has always been a part of who I am. I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with it. I started subscribing to Rolling Stone in 8th grade. My album collection (yes, vinyl. I’m that old!) numbered in the hundreds by the time I got to high school. While my friends walls were plastered with posters of Andy Gibb and Donny Osmond, mine featured Mick & Keith and the boys, as well as Led Zeppelin, Neil Young and Jackson Browne. While my girlfriends were emulating Olivia Newton-John, I wanted to be a witch, like Stevie Nicks.
I was lucky enough to grow up less than an hour from New York City, so I had the opportunity to see some amazing concerts. My first was Rod Stewart, at Madison Square Garden. My uncle Jonny (my idol) and his third wife took me. I’ll never forget the person next to me passing me a joint and slyly taking a puff. My uncle never said a thing about it, so I assumed he didn’t see. (20+ years later, we talked about it. In his memory he had given me a lecture about drug use. I guess that what he wished he had done!) By the time I got to college, I had quite a list of shows under my belt – The Stones, the Kinks, Bruce Springsteen, the Police (3 times), the Cars, Devo, Pat Benetar (ok, it was the 80s people!), Joan Jett, John Cougar (not yet Mellencamp), Siouxie & the Banshees (in Scotland), Eric Clapton and more. I even got hit on by John Michael Stipe of REM, when they were the opening band for Siouxie at a dive bar in Bronxville.  It was before cell phones and GPS, so it was easy to tell our parents that we were going to the movies and hop on a train to the City and catch a concert. (Sorry Mom!)
I spent my college years in Burlington, Vermont and got turned on to a few different types of music. Reggae was big there, as was the Grateful Dead. Oh, and did I mention that I went to college with and was in the same year as all the guys from Phish? They’d put their hand-drawn flyers on all our dorm doors inviting us to watch them play on weekends. And I remember seeing a little-known band called Widespread Panic open for Blues Traveler.
Music remained part of my life when I moved to Colorado. My first show at Red Rocks (the best concert venue on the planet, IMHO) was Reggae on the Rocks in 1993. I saw Merle Saunders at Turquoise Lake (literally, in the middle of the woods), at 12,000 feet, above Leadville.
But, then something happened. I got married, and my husband wasn’t into music or concerts. And I just kind of stopped going. It wasn’t that Brian didn’t want me to go or would have tried to stop me, but you know how it is when you’re married. You hang out with your spouse. And you make compromises. Sometimes without realizing it. So, for almost 20 years, music was back-burnered. I did drag him to see a few legends – The Stones a few times, The Who. Can you imagine having to be dragged to see the Rolling Stones?! He also had the TV on a lot, so I didn’t listen to much music at home either. I honestly didn’t even realize this was happening. My friends did. They invited me to go to Panic or the Dead or Phish every year. I didn’t go.
Then, a funny thing happened after my divorce. I started to embrace my musical self again. I started going to concerts and playing music in my kitchen and boogying while cooking and doing dishes. It was like meeting a part of myself that I had lost for two decades. I’d drop my daughter off at her Dad’s and head off to Red Rocks for a weekend of shows, and he’d say, “Aren’t you a little old for this?” Too old? Too old to feel my spirit soar? To old to dance until my legs hurt? To old to commune with people who feel the same as I do about music? Never.
What brought on this musical reflection? Next week, I am getting to check a huge box on my bucket list. New Orleans Jazz Fest. So much great music in such an amazing city. My bucket might actually overflow! Such diverse music too. Jazz Fest is a bit of a misnomer, because there’s everything from jazz to blues, to rock, country, creole, reggae, disco (yes, Chaka Kahn will be there this year!) From huge stages to tiny bars, there will be music everywhere! And I’m going with a bestie from high school, who shared some of those great concerts with me back in the 80s, and another of my favorite peeps, who knows more about jazz than anyone I know and can croon the old standards like he’s freaking Frank Sinatra! (He needs to be plied with a lot of adult beverages to do that, but in NOLA, I don’t think that’ll be a problem!)
Well, if there is a yogic lesson in this post (I know, you expect one), it’s this – Do what makes your heart sing. If there is a part of you that is full of passion and brings you joy that has been buried in the busyness of adulthood, if you’ve suppressed some part of you because you think it’s not useful, or mature or doesn’t fit into your life as a grown up, unearth it. Live it. Live your bliss and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 
Caring for Your Five Bodies

Caring for Your Five Bodies

If you’re one of my readers, I assume that you are interested in taking care of your body. Most of my blogs are related to health, in some way, shape or form. I’m sure you’ve probably also heard the overused phrase about taking care of our mind, body and spirit as well. But that’s not just new-agey mumbo-jumbo.  According to Ayurveda, we are all made up of five bodies, called koshas. Kosha translates to sheath, because each body is sheathed within another. All of the bodies are interconnected, from the outside in and from the inside out. They all require care. If any are neglected, we cannot live a life of balance, ease and joy. Any one neglected kosha, blocks access in both directions.
Annamaya Kosha – The Physical Body
The outermost layer, the Annamaya Kosha, is the physical body as we know it. It is our muscles, bones and organs, as well as our appearance. Annamaya Kosha translates to Food Body, because it is sustained by food and requires nutrients. It is the grossest of the bodies. (Not gross as in disgusting, but gross as in solid or dense). We take care of our physical body by eating a healthy diet, exercising appropriately, staying hydrated, sleeping well etc. The physical body is the base. If it is unhealthy, it is very difficult to access and balance the inner bodies.
Pranamaya Kosha – The Energy Body
If you are a yogi, you’re probably familiar with the word prana. It means energy or life force. It is carried on the breath. The energetic body is more subtle than the physical body, but it can still be felt as a physical sensation. When energy is full and balanced, we feel good. We are awake, focused, active. Neither lethargic nor scattered. We connect to our energy body with our breath. How lovely and relaxing does a deep breath feel? To access our pranic body, we can simply move our body until we are conscious of our breath. Take a brisk walk or jog and breath deeply, do some sun salutations and sync breath with movement, get out in nature and breathe in mother nature’s fresh air. This body is so important that an entire limb of yoga is dedicated  to it – pranayama, or breath control. We can’t see or grasp the energy body, but we can feel it, in ourselves and others.
Manomaya Kosha – The Mental/Emotional Body
By the time we hit mid-adulthood, we’ve all got emotional baggage. We’ve had trauma. We’ve lost loved ones, lost jobs, been hurt by people we trusted. Maybe we’ve been divorced or widowed. Many have had serious injury or illness. If we’ve lived for more than 4 or 5 decades, we’ve got baggage.
It’s not about how much baggage you have, it’s how good a baggage handler you are. 
We can use our traumas and experiences to grow our wisdom and become more skillful at life. Or we can do the opposite. When we do the opposite, we are attempting to protect ourselves, but what we are truly doing is limiting our potential. We put up walls to keep ourselves from being hurt, but the result is, we don’t truly live. We react with anger, when what we really feel is fear. We avoid people who push us out of our comfort zone. We feign independence when what we really want is love.  We use alcohol, weed, social media, food etc., as distractions to avoid feeling our real feelings.
What’s wrong with doing that? Well, besides the obvious answer of we never live our lives fully, we cannot access our higher, innermost layers. You see, the five bodies build upon one another. We start with the Annamaya Kosha, the food body, because, we literally cannot live without food and physical health. Nor can we survive without the breath, or prana. We can survive without taking care of the Manomaya kosha, but our existence will be fraught with stress, drama and unhappiness.
How does one optimize the Manomaya Kosha? Have you ever wondered why you keep getting yourself into the same negative situations? Bad jobs, difficult personal relationships etc. If so, it’s time to look at your emotional body. The job of a yogi is to master our emotions so they don’t master us. Do you run away or lash out when confronted with difficult emotions (yours or someone else’s)? Next time that happens, try to just stay with the emotion. Don’t react, just feel it. Go back to the first two bodies. How does this emotion feel in your physical body? How does it feel energetically? What is it doing to your breath? As we become more skilled in feeling our emotions, we can begin to truly understand them, and respond appropriately, rather than reacting. Meditation is a great tool for strengthening this body, as is pratyahara, the practice of sense withdrawal. Simply taking time to step away from sensory stimulus for a little while each day, does wonders to balance our emotions.
Vijnanamaya Kosha – The Wisdom/Intuitive Body
As we work more and more with our mental/emotional body, we gain access to the Vijnanamaya Kosha. We might start to notice our thoughts coming from a deeper, subtler level of our being. We are connecting to our intuition, or inner wisdom. We all have the ability to access this body, but it does take some work to get there. We all have intuition, but we don’t always listen to it, or even recognize it. If we haven’t done the  work on our mental/emotional body, we will not be able to access the intuitive and we will not cultivate wisdom.
We can all probably think of examples of when we ignored our intuition. Taking a job that looks good on paper, but you just have a feeling isn’t right for you, is an example of ignoring intuition. Any time you say to yourself, “I knew I should/shouldn’t have done that!” Is an example of ignoring your intuition.
A deeper meditation practice, spiritual study and a deep desire to know one’s self will strengthen this sheath. Noticing our gut feelings and honoring them, will grow our intuition.
Anandamaya Kosha – The Bliss Body
The Bliss body is most etheric aspect of the self. Every level of happiness, from full-blown ecstasy to simple contentment is connected to the Anandamaya Kosha. It is aligned with our soul’s desire, purpose, and living our dharma.  The Bliss Body is related to enlightenment. But, getting there is not a goal that we can set and achieve. Only mystics, saints and sages are generally able to access this body on a regular basis. For the rest of us, it is a place that we pulse in and out of. We’ve all had glimpses of it. The feeling of being in love or holding our new baby. I’ve felt this feeling skiing; standing on top of a mountain and gazing at the utter beauty of nature. I’ve also felt it in music; dancing at an outdoor concert on a summer evening and getting totally enveloped by the sound. I don’t think it’s possible to give specific directions on how to access our bliss. But, I can certainly give you some ways to guarantee you’ll never get there. Hold grudges, carry resentments and anger, blame others for your woes, be dishonest with yourself and others, suppress your emotions.
The best advice I can give someone looking to access the Bliss Body, is to work on the other bodies. All of them. You can’t skip one. A healthy body and a closed heart will not bring you bliss. Intellectual knowledge without connection to spirit will not get you there. Spiritual devotion without physical health won’t cut it either.
The Koshas are all part of us. Just as we can’t ignore one arm and have a full life, neither can we ignore one of these bodies. If you’ve been neglecting one, or several, make a concerted effort to work with your neglected parts. I guarantee you’ll feel better. And you might just get some bliss.
It’s Not Spring Without a Detox Post

It’s Not Spring Without a Detox Post

Every Spring (and some Autumns) I write a post about detoxing. You can read last year’s post on my blog.
As a student and teacher of Ayurveda, I have a lot of experience with seasonal cleanses and detoxes. Ayurveda generally recommends a cleanse/detox/reset twice a year – during the juncture of winter and spring, and again as summer turns to fall. There are many reasons to cleanse once or twice a year and there are equally as many ways to go about it.
Why do we cleanse at seasonal junctures? Let’s illustrate this by looking at how we feel at the end of winter. We have likely been eating heavier foods for a few months, a natural phenomena in winter. Maybe we’ve been exercising less due to lack of outdoor time. Maybe we’ve put on a few pounds. We could have gotten sick once or several times during the winter. We might feel tired and a little sluggish. We’re ready to throw off the heaviness of winter. As we head into spring, it’s time to lighten up our diet. In days of old, this happened naturally; our winter stores of food were running out and the greens of spring were yet to burst through the ground. We don’t have that natural feast/famine cycle anymore. We have all the feasting, but we have to consciously bring in the famine part – the cleanse. (Please don’t be panicked by the word famine.) A seasonal detox does not have to mean starving. We need to give our digestion a break, to rev up our Agni, or digestive fire. We need to replenish our Ojas, which is related to our immune system – especially if we’ve been sick.
Just as there is no one-size-fits-all diet, there is no single detox that works for everyone. The traditional Ayurvedic detox is a kitchari monodiet, which is great for those with depleted immune systems, leaky guts and lethargy. It’s good for vata types, in general. But, it may not be the best for those with a sluggish digestion or those who have difficulty digesting beans or grains. A juice fast is great for a kapha type or someone who wants to lose weight, but might be too extreme for someone who is under stress or feeling depleted. For some, just cutting out junk food and snacking is enough of a detox. And all this only covers the food aspect of detoxing. Detoxing can and should involve rest, downtime, connecting with nature or spirit, detoxing our space and relationships as well. My post from last year goes more into the non-food aspects of a cleanse.
As my spring detox rolled around this year, I had to admit to myself, that I really hadn’t done a true detox since the spring of 2016. I did the Master Cleanse that year and although it was a good cleanse, I got horribly sick afterwards. According to my Ayurveda teacher, I was so full of toxins, that the sickness was necessary.  Shortly after that cleanse, my father died. That fall I moved across country and just never got around to a fall cleanse. There was just too much upheaval in my life. I planned a better cleanse for the spring of 2017, once I was settled in my new home. Sometimes, the best laid plans don’t happen though. In early 2017, my daughter’s father died. Now I was in double-grief. I don’t even remember if I tried to do a cleanse that spring. After that I did a couple of mini-cleanses, but was always left feeling unsatisfied, like I hadn’t really accomplished what I set out to do.  But by early 2019, my body was craving it. I knew I needed a big cleanse. So, I decided on a modified fast. Five days. It was tough, but great. 
I had some bone broth, some green juice, a few fat bombs, some sprouts and a couple handfuls of nuts that week. I exercised normally. I went to work. I slept well. I lost 7 pounds. Sometimes I was hungry, sometimes not. Sometimes I was crabby, sometimes not. I went to hot yoga. I sweated. I smelled bad. The toxins were pouring out of me. I didn’t get to the fasting euphoria that I’ve felt on prior fasts, and I was ready to be done when I was done. And I was 100% satisfied with it.
And what’s come from it? I still feel lighter and more focused. My appetite continues to be smaller. I’m practicing intermittent fasting most days. I’m not craving sugar. My salt craving is returning, but that’s always been stronger than any sugar craving for me. I am now doing a 24 hour fast once a week. Sunday dinner until Monday dinner. I lift with my awesome trainer (Thanks John!) on Monday mornings and go to hot yoga on Monday evenings. This process actually turns Monday into one of my favorite days of the week!
If you haven’t tried a cleanse or detox (BTW, I use those words interchangeably), I encourage you to do so. I’d suggest an organized, group cleanse with an experienced leader if it’s your first time. There are plenty online and many local yoga studios and healthcare providers offer them. But, you can certainly do one on your own. Remember, there is no single way to do this. Let me know how it goes!
2018 Book Roundup

2018 Book Roundup

At the beginning of 2018, I set an intention to read 50 books in the year. That’s essentially a book a week. I had read numerous articles about how all the most successful people in the world, Bill Gates & Mark Zuckerberg, to name two, read 50 books a year. I’d read other articles about how regular people, like me, found it life changing.  I love reading and am a confessed book junkie; my definition of which is someone who buys way more books than she reads and often has five or six going at a time. So, I decided to go for it.

I didn’t make it to 50. But I made it to 41. I was pretty impressed when I added it up.

I’ve listed my 41 books of 2018 below. I haven’t put links on all of them, but they are all available on Amazon. As you peruse my list, you’ll find I don’t have a genre. I read both fiction and non-fiction, business, yoga & spirituality, self-help, health & wellness, memoir, and pretty much anything that someone I respect recommends.

I’ve included books listened to on Audiobook. Noted with an *. I’ve also included books I didn’t finish. This might sound odd, but there we a few books that I didn’t get quite to the end, but still felt I got a lot out of. There were also some that I skimmed parts. If I felt that I got most of the gist of the book, I included it.  I wasn’t sure about cookbooks. I love cookbooks and I really do read them. I decided to only include cookbooks that have at least 100 pages of informational reading before the recipes.

Here’s my list, in more or less chronological order. I’ve rated the books from 1-5, 5 being I loved it, 1 being Ugh, torture. Interestingly, there were five 5s and one 1.

  1. Devotion by Dani Shapiro – 5
  2. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – 1
  3. You are a Badass at Making Money by Liz Sincero – 4
  4. Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross – 2
  5. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – 5
  6. Women, Food & God by Geneen Roth – 2.5
  7. Yes, Yes, Hell No! by Brian Whetten – 3
  8. Creative Confidence by Tom & David Kelley – 4
  9. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller – 4
  10. The Thyroid Connection by Amy Meyers – 3
  11. How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan – 5
  12. The Art of Money by Bari Tessler – 3.5
  13. E- Squared by Pam Grout – 3.5
  14. The One Thing by Gary Keller – 3
  15. True Yoga by Jennie Lee – 4
  16. The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele – 4
  17. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle – 2.5
  18. The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony – 5
  19. Finding Ultra by Rich Roll* (read previously) – 5
  20. Pussy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer – 3.5
  21. Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo – 4
  22. The Keto Reset Diet by Mark Sisson – 3
  23. Liminal Thinking by Dave Gray – 3
  24. Lean In by Sheryl Sanberg – 3
  25. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson – 5
  26. Know Your Value by Mika Brezezinski – 4
  27. Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan – 3.5
  28. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris – 3.5
  29. The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup – 3
  30. Goddesses Never Age by Christiane Northrup – 4
  31. Super Ager by Elise Marie Collins – 3
  32. Calling In the One by Katherine Woodward Thomas – 2
  33. The Urban Monk by Pedram Shojai – 4
  34. Beyond the Mat by Julie Rosenburg – 3
  35. 37 Ways to Build Your Coaching Business by Steve Chandler* – 3
  36. The Artist’s Journey by Steven Pressfield* – 3
  37. This is Marketing by Seth Godin* – 4
  38. Grit by Angela Duckworth* – 2.5
  39. Coconuts & Kettlebells by Noelle Tarr & Stephanie Ruper – 4
  40. Keto-tarian by Will Cole – 4
  41. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – 5

So, what did I learn from this attempt? I didn’t read enough novels. One? Can that be? And it was my last book of the year!  I thought I loved Memoir, but turns out I really just love Dani Shapiro. I read a couple others and lost interest in a few more, but I didn’t love any as much as her trilogy (4th coming out this year!). And, I suppose the Elephant Whisperer is a memoir, though I’m sure the author would say it was about the elephants. I learned to be discriminating. If a book starts out poorly, I don’t force myself to finish it. Life is too short to read crappy books. I learned that great books aren’t that common, but there are plenty of good ones.

I am ready to start the challenge again. Who’s with me?