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.
- Devotion by Dani Shapiro – 5
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – 1
- You are a Badass at Making Money by Liz Sincero – 4
- Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross – 2
- Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – 5
- Women, Food & God by Geneen Roth – 2.5
- Yes, Yes, Hell No! by Brian Whetten – 3
- Creative Confidence by Tom & David Kelley – 4
- Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller – 4
- The Thyroid Connection by Amy Meyers – 3
- How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan – 5
- The Art of Money by Bari Tessler – 3.5
- E- Squared by Pam Grout – 3.5
- The One Thing by Gary Keller – 3
- True Yoga by Jennie Lee – 4
- The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele – 4
- Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle – 2.5
- The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony – 5
- Finding Ultra by Rich Roll* (read previously) – 5
- Pussy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer – 3.5
- Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo – 4
- The Keto Reset Diet by Mark Sisson – 3
- Liminal Thinking by Dave Gray – 3
- Lean In by Sheryl Sanberg – 3
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson – 5
- Know Your Value by Mika Brezezinski – 4
- Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan – 3.5
- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris – 3.5
- The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup – 3
- Goddesses Never Age by Christiane Northrup – 4
- Super Ager by Elise Marie Collins – 3
- Calling In the One by Katherine Woodward Thomas – 2
- The Urban Monk by Pedram Shojai – 4
- Beyond the Mat by Julie Rosenburg – 3
- 37 Ways to Build Your Coaching Business by Steve Chandler* – 3
- The Artist’s Journey by Steven Pressfield* – 3
- This is Marketing by Seth Godin* – 4
- Grit by Angela Duckworth* – 2.5
- Coconuts & Kettlebells by Noelle Tarr & Stephanie Ruper – 4
- Keto-tarian by Will Cole – 4
- 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?
At this time of year, I often remind my yoga students to take some down time; to intentionally carve out some time for quiet, rest and reflection. We can so easily get stressed and out of balance during the holidays. We get very busy. Parties, shopping, school concerts and events. Depending on your profession, work can become crazy-busy at this time of year too. If you’re in the hospitality industry or have year-end deadlines to hit, the stress increases.
All this is amplified by that fact that what we are doing is diametrically opposed to what nature is doing. We are living completely out of sync with nature’s rhythms at this time of year. You only have to look around to see that what nature is doing, is very different from what we are doing. Trees and bushes are dormant. Flowers are not blooming. Wild animals are hibernating. You might even notice your pets sleeping more. The days are short and the nights are long. We should be resting more and sleeping more. Rejuvenating. If we follow nature’s rhythm, spring and summer should be our most active times. We should be recovering from all that now.
Of course, we are not going to stop celebrating our holidays and hibernate. But it is important to rest more, so we don’t burn out.
I’ve been pushing myself in a lot of ways. And some good has come from it. I’ve been working out hard and am beginning to see a stronger body emerge. I’ve been throwing myself into my job and being innovative and taking a leadership role at work. I’ve also been excitedly creating my new coaching program (which you will hear more about very soon). I spent six weeks on a ketogenic diet, which was amazing in many ways. I felt focused and sharp, lost weight, offloaded my cravings and propensity for snacking.
There’s been a downside to all this pushing. According to Ayurveda, what I’ve done is pushed myself right into a pitta imbalance. (If you’re not familiar with Ayurvedic doshas – vata, pitta and kapha, click here for an explanation and quiz, to find out your propensities). All three doshas have positive qualities when balanced and negative effects when out of balance. The characteristics of pitta are sharp, hot, intense, fiery. So, when in balance, pitta types make great leaders and entrepreneurs, are smart, funny, interesting and inquisitive. Pitta out of balance leads to anger, irritation, sharpness, short-temperedness. Qualities that pacify pitta are sweetness and cooling, calming activities.
I got sharp. Which isn’t all bad. My focus has been sharp. I’ve been able to get a lot done. But I was also getting short-tempered and angry.
So, I’m focusing on bringing some sweetness back into my life. That doesn’t mean loading up on Christmas cookies and eggnog. According to Ayurveda, most, if not all carbohydrates are considered “sweet.” This makes sense from a Western perspective, because carbs convert to glucose in our bodies. On the keto diet, I was getting no sweet at all.
I’ll be navigating the rest of the holiday season, through self-care and sweetness. A little less pushing. A few more carbs. More yoga and meditation. More snuggling with my kid. Connecting to spirit, reading and rereading yoga books and spiritual texts. Being easier on myself and others.
I want to wake up on January 1, 2019, feeling good, refreshed, joyful. Ready to start the new year and focus on my intentions. I may do keto again sometime. I’ll definitely have periods where I push myself hard again. But, as we move towards the darkest day of the year, I am moving towards softness, sweetness and rest.
Being someone who’s all about health and wellness, and with a background in sales, I’m often approached by direct-selling companies about representing their products. I’ve been asked to represent supplements, ketones, CDB oil, cosmetics, essential oils etc. I am actually a doTERRA rep, but since statistically, one in three people you know is a doTERRA rep, you don’t need to buy from me. (You can if you want. Click here). While I found most of those products good, they didn’t get me fired up the way Beautycounter does.
For years, I was like many people (maybe you), and went to great lengths and expense to buy organic, natural and local foods, while at the same time, buying whatever hair and skin products were on sale. So, while was downing my organic kale green smoothie, I was allowing all kinds of toxins into my body through my skin and hair. Sound familiar?
I first heard of Beautycounter from a couple of gals with whom I went to college. I knew they were both passionate about health and wellness, so I became interested. After a bit of research, I found out that this is an awesome company!
First of all, Beautycounter is a B-Corp. B-Corps are companies which meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Beautycounter discloses every ingredient in every product they sell and has a Never List, of over 1,500 toxic or potentially toxic ingredients that will never be found in their products.
I think what hooked me though, is Beautycounter’s commitment to advocacy and education. If you know me, you know I’m a bit of a political junkie, so anyone who’s willing to go to Washington and advocate for health and wellness is a star in my book! Beautycounter actually advocates for stricter regulations in the beauty and cosmetics industry. Have you ever heard of a company lobbying for more regulations in its own industry?
Oh, and their products are wonderful.
I encourage you to check out Beautycounter. Let me know if you’d like to try it out. You don’t have to host a party (though you can if you want) or become a rep too (again, you can if you want). Just try putting some safer products on your body, and your family’s bodies. Don’t counteract all that healthy food & yoga with toxic cosmetics.
Beautycounter products make great gifts too. Last day to order for Christmas delivery is December 17.
I wish you a joyous holiday season!
“You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
~Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Former New York State Senator
In the current climate of fake news, political discourse, he saids-she saids, what’s a healthy diet and what’s killing us, how much water do we need to drink, whether humans are designed to be omnivores or plant-eaters etc., the line between facts and opinions has blurred. And in some ways, that’s not a bad thing. We all have strong opinions about many subjects and that’s great. It’s great that we can express our opinions and that we can argue over them, whether on Facebook or at the holiday dinner table.
Where we go wrong though (and have been doing for millennia, BTW), is in expressing our opinions as fact. Wouldn’t it be a nicer world, if we all expressed our beliefs as what they actually are – our beliefs? I’ve been trying to do that. And it’s not easy for me, because I’m a confirmed know-it-all. But, I’m trying. When I catch myself expressing my opinion as fact, I try to back up and re-word. Instead of stating “x and y result in z,” I temper it. “In my experience x and y result in z.”
Imagine if religious and political leaders throughout history had done that? Imagine if early Christians said, “In my experience with Jesus, he is the son of God, but if you just think he’s a community organizer, that’s cool.” Imagine if vegans said, “I feel wonderful eating a plant-based diet, but if you feel better eating some animal flesh, please at least be sure to source it responsibly.” Imagine if Paleo dieters said, “Wow, look at Rich Roll. He’s a world class athlete, thriving on a vegan diet. Good for him.” Imagine if people could look at Colin Kaepernick and others who have taken a knee, and thought, “Gee, I’d never do that; I respect the flag too much, but I see that they are expressing their rights as Americans, and thank God we have those rights.”
I’ve been eating a ketogenic diet for about three weeks and it has been amazing for me. I have great energy and focus, my emotional eating has disappeared, I’m working out hard, I’ve lost seven pounds and I feel awesome. Needless to say, I’m sold. At Thanksgiving dinner, my mom was asking me about it, and I started telling her about how when we go into ketosis, our body burns ketones and fat, instead of the steady stream of glucose we burn, when we eat lots of carbs. I explained how this is how our bodies are meant to work and used the analogy of burning high-test fuel versus regular. I believe all this to be true. But, it popped into my head that many people don’t agree with this theory. Sure, there’s science to back it up, but there’s also science to back up it not being true. So, I ended with, “at least that’s been my experience.” Now, my mom wasn’t arguing or disagreeing with me at all. She was listening with interest. But, I felt like so much less of a pushy know-it-all, by ending my story that way. I’m sure she didn’t even notice.
So, I’m practicing not expressing my beliefs as fact. It’s not easy. But, it makes me a little softer, a little gentler. Imagine if the whole world tried it.
I’m not sure if what I’m experiencing is a midlife crisis. It’s not what I usually think of as one. I don’t want to buy a sports car or date a 20 year-old or neglect my adult duties of parenting and working.
But, something is shifting in me. There’s an underlying discontent; a need for something more. I’m feeling this, despite having a very happy life. Maybe it’s because I’m in my 50s and single. Maybe it’s simply because I’m in my 50s. (I mean, really, how did that happen??) It could be the regret I feel for staying in a bad marriage for years too long. Or the regret for not doing better at marriage. Maybe it’s because my life isn’t how I envisioned it would be at this point. Being the only parent to a teenager and living in Wisconsin was certainly not the scenario I pictured 30 years ago. But, I do honestly love my life, so why this feeling?
Then, there’s the realization of mortality. I lost my father and my ex-husband within nine months. My best friend lost both her in-laws in a very short period of time. Another best friend lost her best friend to a stroke – in her late 40s. I could go on. Am I just at the age when people are going to start dying more often?
Wikipedia defines Existential Crisis as, “a moment at which an individual questions if their life has meaning, purpose, or value. It may be commonly, but not necessarily, tied to depression or inevitably negative speculations on purpose in life…”
That’s not quite how I’m feeling either. I’m not despairing or even depressed. I’m more curious. For me, the questions are, “How can my life have more meaning? What is my purpose? What am I here to do? How can I make a difference?” When I look at it that way, it’s more of an opportunity than a crisis.
Apparently, what I am experiencing is not uncommon for women my age. And it is not a negative experience. It is an invitation to step into the next phase of life, the wisdom years.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, in her book, The Wisdom of Menopause, describes this time as “the Renaissance of your life.” She goes on to say,
“It’s as simple as this: our brains are changing. A woman’s thoughts, her ability to focus, and the amount of fuel going to the intuitive centers in the temporal lobes of her brain all are plugged into, and affected by, the circuits being rewired.”
We may be considering a career change (check), or leaving an unfulfilling marriage (check), or be done raising children (I came late to the parenting party, so I’m still in the thick of it, and happy to be there!)
These changes find many of us in our 40s, 50s and 60s looking for our next purpose. Our next dharma. We’re asking ourselves, “What now?”
For many, it’s an outward movement. It’s getting involved in community, doing volunteer work, politics, activism. Many women much older than me participated in Women’s Marches in the past couple of years, for the first time, taking an active role in shaping our future. And many brought along their daughters and granddaughters, thereby helping to create a much more aware and active younger generation.
For some, it is a more inward turning. As so many educated Generation X women have long identified with being agnostic or atheist, many find themselves searching for a deeper spiritual connection.
As I am re-vamping and re-creating my coaching course, I’m seeing that dharma, or life purpose, has to be part of it. It can’t not be. Physical health and easeful living are the necessary first step. As I’ve said to many clients, you can’t change the world, if you feel like crap. And, for me, there has to be more. That’s part of my dharma. To help my clients to find theirs.
So, I’d love to do a little crowd-sourcing. How does this resonate with you? Would you like to be coached towards finding your greater purpose in life? Do you have an inkling what it is, but don’t know how to make it a reality? Or is the crisis for you, that you don’t have any idea what it is? Or, is the whole idea of life-purpose a brand new concept for you? Please comment below and let me know.
Summer is winding down. September is here. To me, September has always been kind of like a new year. I know most people with school aged kids can relate, but even when I didn’t have a kid, I felt this. Summer is full of outward, hot, high-energy activities. In Ayurvedic terms, it’s Pitta time of year. Strong, fun energy. Lots going on. We’re often out of our regular routines, but we handle it well with Pitta’s fiery energy behind it.
Then fall comes along. School starts, vacationing winds down, we naturally feel a pull to get back to our routines. This is because fall is Vata season, the time of year we need grounding and routine the most. Vata energy can be very scattered. (think of fall leaves being blown around in the street). We need to pull our scattered energies in, in the fall. And, like the new year, it’s a good time to make a plan, set a goal, think about what might need tweaking, or full-on revamping in our lives. It’s a good time to look at areas of our life that are stuck and get them unstuck.
While stuckness and scatteredness may seem like opposites (and in many ways they are), they can be like two sides of the same coin. When we are scattered in our thinking or our routine, we lack the focus needed to make changes or reach goals. So, staying un-scattered can help us get un-stuck.
Why do we get stuck in the first place? And why do so many of us choose to stay stuck? I don’t have an answer to that, but there’s evidence of it all around us. So many people stay in jobs or relationships that, at best, don’t inspire them and at worst, suck the life out of them. People berate themselves for their bad habits – overeating, drinking too much, spending too much, self-medicating in myriad ways. Yet, they keep doing what they’ve been doing. Why? Why do so many people choose to stay in a situation or cycle that is familiar, knowing that they are passing up the possible job, experience, relationship, (fill in the blank) of a lifetime?
My best guess is that they do it because it’s easier. It’s less scary. It’s less risky.
We all know someone who doesn’t stay stuck. That person who finds herself in a mediocre to shitty situation and says, “Fuck this. I’m out.” And makes the change. And we all say, “Wow. What a badass.” We’re all impressed as hell. But, do we do then go out and do the same? Often, the answer is no. I have been both. I’ve been the badass and the stay-stucker. And let me tell, you, the badass is way better. Even if the change you make, turns out to be a less than stellar choice, it’s way better than wondering what life might had brought, had we taken that chance on the scary, but tempting opportunity.
I am not advocating doing all sorts of crazy things without thinking anything through. I’m talking about making conscious choices to step out of our comfort zones and do things that are uncomfortable and maybe a little bit scary. As one of my favorite yoga teachers always says, “if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not evolving.” As Brian Whetten says in the book Yes, Yes, Hell No, (I’m paraphrasing), if your intuition says yes and your voice of reason says yes, but your fear says “run away screaming,” that’s your sign that you should go for it.
So, as we get back into our fall routines, I invite you to think about where you may be stuck. And where might you take a small (or big) chance and get unstuck? You probably already know if you are a natural risk-taker. I am; I score very high on the risk-taking scale on all the personality tests. I got divorced when I was not in a financial position to do so. I left a secure career to do contract work for an online start up. I packed up my kid and my cat and moved across the country six weeks after the thought first entered my head. But, I’ve also been stuck. I stayed in a bad marriage and a soul-sucking career for years longer than I should have. Why? Because the thought of making change was overwhelming. And while it was tough and scary when I finally made the changes, it was worth it. Has everything been roses since I made those changes? Not at all. I struggled financially for a long time. I took on all responsibility for raising my daughter on my own. The job with the online company didn’t turn out to be as great as I thought. But, I have never wished that I didn’t make the changes or take the chances. They’ve made me who I am today.
If you’re not a natural risk-taker, I don’t recommend you get divorced, quit your job and move across country all at once. Start smaller. Maybe it’s time to commit to getting healthier, make an exit strategy from the job that doesn’t fulfill you. Go on that date you’ve been avoiding.
Make September the month to get unstuck. Make a goal to unstick one area of your life by the time the holidays roll around. Let me know how it goes.