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Hello again People of the Internet!

I have resurfaced from the deep.

It seems mushrooms have become all the rage around here. I blame Merlin Sheldrake for my fungi obsession. Somewhere mid-summer, I burrowed into the underland to explore the unmakers of the world through his brilliant book Entangled Life. I would review it, but I think it’s better to let the author speak for himself…and eat his own words…


It was from this book I first learned about zombie ants and the mad sorcerer fungus that animates them to achieve its nefarious goals. True story: There’s a type of parasitic fungus (Ophiocordyceps) whose spores shower down on carpenter ants as they go about their ant business. The fungus penetrates the ant’s exoskeleton, then chemically hijacks the ant’s central nervous system, forcing it to do things it wouldn’t normally do. Specifically, the fungus makes the ant climb up on vegetation, and lock its jaws on a vein of a leaf. The fungus continues to grows inside the ant’s body, and out through the ant’s feet, which it ties down to the plant’s leaf with threads of itself. Then it sprouts a mushroom out the creature’s dead body so its reign of spore terror can continue on to infect other unsuspecting carpenter ants. I drew this picture just for you because I thought you might want a visual:

Hey, what do you call a fungi that makes music?

A decomposer.

Waka waka waka!

Be good so you don’t get in truffle!

Sorry my mushroom puns are in spore taste.

“By opening the door to the shadow realm a little, and letting out various elements a few at a time, relating to them, finding use for them, negotiating, we can reduce being surprised by shadow sneak attacks and unexpected explosions.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

On a sleepless night earlier this week, I used the gift of extra time and energy to do some reading that has been neglected on my nightstand for far too long. Since then, a particular passage in the book The Subway Chronicles: More Scenes from Life in New York, has been tapping at my mental chamber door all week. Author Jacquelin Cangro, recounted a scene that unfolded during her subway commute: a little girl got onboard the train with her father and soon after erupted into a spontaneous twirling dance accompanied only by the music inside her own mind. The author watched with amusement tinged by a wistful yearning for the sort freedom of expression that comes with being four years old.

I sympathize with the author — oh to be free from the trappings of adulthood — from the notions of decency and decorum, from responsibility and respectability, from the ‘shoulds’ and ‘Thou Shalt Nots,’ from the veils and gilded cages.

A tiny dancer still lives inside of these subways, chambers, shadows, and longings…

If we cracked the door open just a little bit, what would we see…?

I started thinking about this list while reflecting on the 10-year anniversary of MyLittleSpacebook. Now that I have the list compiled, I realize the lessons I’ve learned from several of the books below have formed much of the basis of my own entrepreneurial toolkit. If that’s your jam, maybe there’s something in here for you too. Without further ado, here we go:

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation ~ Parker Palmer

It’s astonishing how huge an impact such a small book has had on my life. I was introduced to Parker Palmer’s work as an assistant professor/researcher trying to find myself as an educator. Palmer’s The Courage to Teach helped me discover what was in my teacher’s heart. His Healing the Heart of Democracy helped me better understand the notion of civil discourse in the face of seemingly unresolvable conflict. But, it was Let Your Life Speak that ultimately helped me realize what my work was NOT, which was a painful, but necessary step in finding out what my work is. At the time I read it, I was being carried along, almost imperceptibly, on a strong current powered by other people’s expectations and long-standing institutional traditions. Academia can be like that. Reading the book made me ask myself hard questions about the work life I was living, which I discovered was not at all the same thing as the life’s work that was living inside me. The book gave me the courage to jump ship and to begin charting my own course towards my life’s authentic work, which is an ongoing adventure, both terrifying and delighting!

The 4-Hour Work Week ~ Tim Ferris

Ferris’s book introduced me to the idea of lifestyle design. He generously shares all sorts of ideas on how to be awesome and get more done in less time.

Tribe of Mentors ~Tim Ferris

Ferris assembled an elite and successful crowd from which to source even more ideas on how to be awesome. The reading list alone is worth the price of admission!

The Happiness Project ~ Gretchen Rubin

My time-logging and goal-tracking systems were inspired by Rubin’s account of Ben Franklin’s systems as described in his autobiography. These practices have been effective in keeping me focused and helping me understand where my time goes so I can manage it better. Also, Rubin wrote about commonplace books, which I’ve also started keeping.

The Artist’s Way ~ Julia Cameron

Thanks to Julia Cameron I have been writing daily morning pages faithfully since December 21, 2019. While I have been journaling for years and years, I’ve never done so in such a purposeful and disciplined way as I have since starting The Artist’s Way. This book is a game-changer!

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains ~ Nicholas G. Carr

This book was not my idea. A client wanted us to read it together, and so we did. It expanded my understanding of the relationship between technology and thought. It also made me more aware of the tools I use and how they may impact and use me.

Meditations from the Mat ~ Rolf Gates

This book inspired a trip to a yoga conference in Washington, D.C., to practice with this master in person. The practice he led was absolutely beautiful – one of my all time favorite yoga classes ever. His workshop at the conference was informative, and I learned a lot I needed to know about how to start a business and how to sustain it at that conference. It also inspired me to dive deeper into my own practice and to embark on a 300-hour teacher training.

Sacred Plant Medicine: The Wisdom in Native American Herbalism ~ Stephen Harrod Buhner

Nothing about this book makes logical sense. It’s all magical heart song. Not even how I got it makes sense – we were on a road trip and there was the necessity of a bathroom break that somehow wound up happening at a Cherokee Museum and none of us were even planning to go through the museum, but there was a half-naked guy in a magnificent feathered headdress and as if that wasn’t confusing enough I was in the giftshop instead of the bathroom, and the book was calling and in my hand, but another of us was ready to go, so I put it down, and then third member of our party got confused about what we were even doing there and bought a ticket to the museum and before we could even figure out entirely what was happening, we wound up doing the museum tour. If it sounds like drugs were involved, I assure you, they weren’t, though it’s possible they should have been. After all that happened the book was still waiting and calling so I got it and no plant has ever been safe or the same since. Anytime this book gets opened something for-sure crazy is about to go down and I’m not even kidding.

Blink ~ Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell taught me the science behind thin-slicing, which neatly explains a lot of things attributed to intuition.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life ~ Twyla Tharp

I love Twyla Tharp’s writing style. It’s so simple and elegant. From her I learned the creative habit and that in itself was life-changing.

So that’s my list!

How about you? What books have changed your life?

Fair Warning: I’m way too old (and sophisticated) for this, but I’m about to go all sorts of 13-year-old-fan-girl here and fly my full-out-nerd flag about some books.  Brace yourself, this could be jarring because it also includes a page from my bullet journal.  I know. I’ll just go ahead and apologize for all that’s to follow in advance. This is what we have to deal with when I  have free time and my inner teenager takes over.  It’s like totally gnarly, ya know?! Yeah. I guess I should also mention that my inner teenager lived on the coast of Southern California in the 80s, so she’s a bit of a Valley Girl. I’m going to do my best to rein in the Valley. (Reign in the valley! Rain in the valley!)  Mercy.  Here we go…

Fever Series

As you can see, I’m like totally obsessed with Karen Marie Moning’s work. Ok, I’ll admit, it’s not just her work– it’s also her.  I’ve pored over every page of her website and I must say she’s wicked-cute in her promo pics with her bright red lipstick, smoky eyes, and silky blond hair.   The Fever Series has been completely consuming.  It’s my all time favorite series ever!

In case you missed it, I reviewed books 1-3 of the Fever Series HERE,and books 4-5 HERE.

Sidebar note: The setup idea for my spiffy bullet journal drawing of book covers came from bookriot.com

Without further ado, here are a few of the juicy bits from Moning’s Fever Series 6-10:

 

“Dude, it’s a post-apocalyptic world, who does job applications anymore?”

6. Iced – The walls between the human and Fae realms have fallen. With the Hoar Frost King busily unweaving the universe, cold and dark days ensue in Dublin. The absolute best part of this book for me was the Unseelie King’s library and all the crazy waiting to be unleashed there. I could live contentedly in that library for the next 300 years. And OMG the Crimson Hag — what a brilliant monster concept!

 

“Temptation isn’t a sin you triumph over once, completely and then you’re free. Temptation slips into bed with you each night and helps you say your prayers. It wakes you in the morning with a friendly cup of coffee, and knows exactly how you take it.”

7. Burned –  Mac really didn’t do much for me in this book.  I guess the weird hoard of silent birdy-priests that were inexplicably following her around had her too distracted to be a decent bad-ass. There was also her whole involuntary invisibility thing, which I suppose could put a damper on a girl’s sex life.  I guess we all go through these phases   when we’re not at our personal best because of what all the other weirdos are doing around us. In contrast, what used to be Dani returns from her time-bending foray through the Silvers, and she finally becomes someone I can like.

 

“…the dance was only for her, to let her soul breathe, to revel in being alive one more day.”

8. Feverborn – Mac abruptly becomes visible again. She and everyone else are trying to find the Song of Making so the expanding black holes don’t blot out the whole world. One of the Highlanders transforms into something else entirely. The dead walk the streets again.  There was a lot happening in this book.  There were also disjointed, rambly parts that I didn’t get, but the book as a whole was saved by the cliffhanger, which was deeply satisfying.

 

“Things never stop going wrong. Life isn’t about waiting for peace to arrive, it’s about learning to thrive in the midst of war. There’s always another one on the way.”

9. Feversong – Moning runs this book like a conductor coming to the end of a symphony. Various subplots that have been bouncing along throughout the series converge and mysteries resolve.  A super sweet love story emerges in the midst of the end-of-the-world chaos.

 

“I’d rather be fearless and criticized than fearful and approved of.”

10. High Voltage – This is all about Dani and all the stuff she had to go through to become someone I like. Then she turns into something else entirely, which was even better.

 

 

 

 

Link for Fever Series Review: Books 1-3

I am going to review books 4 and 5 of the series in a non-linear, stream-of-consciousness sort of way ’cause they’re spaghettied up inside my head.  

Book 4 of the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

DreamfeverDreamfever

“Life’s not linear at all. It happens in lightning flashes. So fast you don’t see those lay-you-out cold moments coming at you until you’re Wile E. Coyote, steamrolled flat as a pancake by the Road Runner, victim of your own elaborate schemes.”

Just to get this out of the way first: the 4th book is a sexstravaganza. That’s all I have to say about that. 

Mac is lost and broken.

The blasted book is still running around Dublin creating chaos.  I absolutely love that the book is a character.

Now, there are a lot of characters weaved through the first three books that I  haven’t mentioned, like Ryoden and the Nine. The Nine are a bunch (well, 9 to be precise), of seemingly immortal, buff dudes. Ryoden is the leader of the pack, and he owns Chester’s, a multi-level nightclub and the headquarters of the Nine on the private lower floors, which I imagine as a high-tech and sophisticated version of batman’s cave. When the walls between realms fell, Chester’s becomes the “it” hangout spot for both human and Fae. Barrons, though one of the Nine, doesn’t reside at Chester’s because he has living quarters at his own bookstore, Barrons Books and Baubles. The bookstore is all magical and warded and sits on the border between Dublin and The Dark Zone.

Dani, is another important character. She’s a 14-year-old Fae-killer with the power of superspeed.  At this point in the series, Dani, like Mac, is a sidhe-seer outcast. The sidhe-seers are an order of women with unique senses and super abilities, who have protected humans for centuries against the Fae when the Fae slip through cracks between the realms. At this part of the series, the walls are mostly down.

shadowfever

“Nightwindflyhighfreeeeee.”

–The Hunter

Mac, aka “Rainbow Girl” due to the color palette of her fashion choices, goes to the dark side. She returns in black leather as the evil Lord Master’s sidekick.  No, I haven’t told you about the Lord Master yet, and that’s mostly because I think it’s an unfortunate name for a character – even if he is the ruler of the Unseelie (i.e., the grotesque, evil Fae).  It’s just embarrassing. I guess it is for Mac too because she resorts to calling him “LM.” To make matters even weirder, he was Mac’s sister’s boyfriend at the time of her murder.

I haven’t read anything quite like the world and the monsters that Karen Marie Moning makes. There are fantastic things going on in this woman’s imagination – plots and subplots and twists and turns and interesting places with weird monsters.  In this book Mac goes through the Silvers and winds up lost in the Hall of Mirrors where there are portals to fascinating and dangerous worlds. The series is so entertaining.

 

darkfever

Book 1 of the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

Darkfever

“Sometimes Ms. Lane, one must break with one’s past to embrace one’s future. It’s never an easy thing to do. It’s one of the distinguishing characteristics between survivors and victims.”

–Jericho Barrons

 

MacKayla Lane (aka Mac) leaves her carefree life behind to travel to Dublin to investigate the mysteries surrounding her sister’s murder.  In Ireland, Mac uncovers family secrets, unknown powers, and a dark underworld inhabited by the Fae. In the midst of all that, she meets two central characters: V’Lane, a Seelie prince who holds a humorous at times “Death by Sex” power over humans, and the enigmatic Jericho Barrons who owns a bookstore and who is on his own quest to capture a sentient, omnipotent book – the Sinsar Dubh.

Having finished the entire series, in retrospect, book 1, was fun, but it was my least favorite.  MacKayla, preoccupied as she was with her hair, nails, outfits and general Barbie vibes, annoyed me at times, but I also liked her for the same reasons.  Overall, there was a lot of groundwork, character-setting, and world-building that had to happen to set the stage for the fun that follows.

Book 2 of the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moningblood fever

Bloodfever

“Well done, Ms. Lane. Just when I think you’re all useless fluff and nails, you show me some teeth.”‘

–Jericho Barrons

There was something about a vampire in this book, but that part was terribly uninteresting.  What was interesting were the interactions between three of the main characters: Mac, Barrons, and V’Lane.  Barrons continues to be cultured, self-contained, intriguing and mysterious.  The reader is left wondering what exactly he is and what manner of shrieking thing he keeps hidden in the lair beneath his garage. For her part, Mac uncovers more about who and what she is.  The banter between the two in their continued pursuit of the Sinsar Dubh is fun. Every scene with V’Lane, the immortal prince who has a knack for turning humans into sex addicts, is fascinating.

Book 2 of the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

faefeverFaefever

“Nobody looks good in their darkest hour. But it’s those hours that make us what we are.”

“…in the Deep South, women learn at a young age that when the world is falling apart around you, it’s time to take down the drapes and make a new dress.”

–Mac

The evil book, the Sinsar Dubh, is still on the loose and wreaking havoc.  The walls between the realms are starting to come down.  Without revealing too much about the cliff-hanger ending: it was dark and disturbing and Mac gets broken.

 

Yesterday while reading about the history of tulips in Michael Pollan’s book, The Botany of Desire,  I was overcome by the urgent need to plant the iris bulbs that have been sitting in the sunroom for over a month.  Now Raptor Red and Dangerous Mood are tucked in their beds for the winter and I hope to meet them in all their frilly glory this spring.

 

Lab Girl

“People don’t know how to make a leaf, but they know how to destroy one.”

–Hope Jahren

Have you ever wondered what secrets the trees are telling each other deep beneath the ground with their intertwined roots? If not, please read this book and enlarge your perspective.  Hope Jahren is a scientist who has made a respectable career out of playing in the dirt. She’s my hero for that. Her memoir, Lab Girl, is infused with her love of science, sunshine, soil and seeds. It features funny and highly entertaining tales of her travels and misadventures in academia and the band of misfits she loves along the way.

Night Circus

I didn’t intentionally set out to read a bunch of books on magic last year, but that’s what happened. We can blame Erin Morgenstern because it all started with her Night Circus, which was magically delicious and one of the best books I read all year.

Night Circus 2

 

Two ancient magicians pit their young pupils against each other in a strange and beautiful competition that takes place in a very special circus. The ‘competition’ wasn’t the fighting contest sort. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m not entirely sure what the point of the competition was. It had something to do with the creation and development of the circus.  Regardless, I was more enthralled by the characters and the scenery than the dumb competition. The performers were delightfully circus-y, of course, and the reveurs (i.e., the devoted followers of the circus) were also an entertaining set.  The circus’s scenery was so vividly rendered it almost felt like a painting. Good stuff.

~~*~~

At Morgenstern’s recommendation,  I discovered V. E. Schwab and she kept me entertained for a good two months with her work. First came Vicious.

ViciousCollege students Victor and Eli are researching and provoking near-death experiences amongst themselves, which leads to them developing supernatural powers…and a rivalry. The comic-book style characters with special abilities reminded me a little of the T.V. show Heroes.  It wasn’t my usual reading fare, but it was smart, well-written and suspenseful enough that I wanted to read more by the author.

~~*~~

I liked Schwab’s writing style well enough to plunge right into her Shades of Magic series.  It was awesome.  The trilogy centers around court magician, Kell, of Red London.  Kell is one of the last of the Antari, who are powerful spell casters able to travel between the parallel Londons: Red London, White London, and Grey London.  There’s also a Black London — the source of all magic existing in the other Londons, but the magic consumed that version of London and it was sealed off.  Back to Kell – he has one entirely blacked out eye – as Antari do – and he’s a smuggler, which gets him into big trouble. His smuggling eventually becomes a threat to all of the Londons, but you can’t be mad at him for that because he’s so dreamy! I might have fallen in love with him a little.

A Darker Shade of Magic

In the first book of the series, A Darker Shade of Magic, Kell meets Delilah Bard, otherwise known as Lila.  She is a bad-ass thief and to-be pirate lass from Grey London.   She is quite possibly one of my favorite characters ever.  She has her own names for the various Londons: Dull London, Creepy London, Kell London, and Dead London.  The interactions between Kell and Lila are worth the cover price.  They are adorable together. It’s hard to know who’s the hero and who is the side kick – they complement each other so well.

~~*~~

A Gathering of Shadows

The next book in the series, A Gathering of Shadows, features all sorts of magicians who come together in Red London for a magical fighting sort of competition. Kell and Lila do all sorts of bad things. I’m not one for reading fight scenes, but they are well written, so I was all into them. There’s also Alucard, who is a awesome pirate, or ship captain, depending on how you want to think about it. He becomes Lila’s teacher and their interactions are a riot.

~~*~~

A Conjuring of Light

The third book in the series, A Conjuring of Light, is about Black London.  Prince Rhy Maresh, Kell’s brother of sorts, plays a larger role in this story. There are all sorts of twists and turns, subplots, drama and intrigue. And magic. Lots of magic.   

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes about Delilah Bard:

“Lila smiled at that, one of those smiles that made Kell profoundly nervous.  The kind of smile usually followed by a weapon.”

“There were moments when Lila wondered how the hell she’d gotten here.  Which steps–and missteps–she’d taken.  A year ago she’d been a thief in another London.  A month ago she’d been a pirate sailing on the open seas.  A week ago she’d been a magician in the Essen Tasch. And now she was this.”

~~*~~

I always wanted to run away and join the circus, so I had high hopes for The Book of Speculation after a quick scan of a few pages revealed all the right words: an old, mysterious book, a curse, circus performers, magic, tarot, and mermaids.

book of speculation

The title was intriguing too, so it surprised me how much I struggled to get through this one. I abandoned it twice to read other books, but I kept coming back to it thinking it had to get better. Basically, the plot revolves around a librarian, Simon, who tries to figure out why all the women in his family die tragically before the same thing happens to his sister. The biggest problem for me was that all the best characters who carried the story were dead and in the past while the characters in the present were too boring to hold my attention for extended periods.

~~*~~

return of the witch

A couple years ago I went on a witch kick with Paula Brackston and read all her witchy work. Last year she released, The Return of the Witch, as a sequel to The Witches Daughter. The nefarious warlock Gideon somehow has managed to escape his imprisonment in the Summerlands.  Elizabeth returns to protect her student Teagan,  who has developed strong magic in her own right as a result of  having traveled the world to study with the masters. A handsome Timestepper, Erasmus, is enlisted to help find Gideon who has traveled back to the 17th century to wreak his havoc.  The flashbacks to Teagan’s training were a highlight for me, but it was Erasmus who steals the show in this one.

~~*~~

Untitled

No one has really “read” the  The Voynich Manuscript in a very long time as it’s a one-of-a-kind medieval codex of mysterious origin written in an indecipherable script. However, I am including this one here because I think there is something magical about a book no one can read. To quote Erin Morgenstern,  “…magic is secret and secrets are magic, after all.”

I did read the commentary and history of the manuscript as detailed by Skinner, Prinke, and Zandbergen and I have pored over the drawings of plants, herbs, and their roots. I have pondered its depictions of women erupting from concentric sheathes, each displaying their unique stars while encircling a centralized goat that is always, always eating. These particular drawings are categorized by the “experts” as astronomical, astrological and cosmological.  Then there are the nude women bathing communally in green and blue lagoons, interconnected through a strange system of tubing. The author had quite a lot to write about this, apparently, but the pictures tell their own story as these bathing tubes evolve into individual systems that seem more like a method of transportation and communication. Rainbows erupt between them. Mermaids. I see mermaids and rainbows (f82v-f83r). We go back to the sky then, and return back to the earth.  So cool. I have to wonder if it was indeed authored by a man, as all the experts referenced in this collection of commentary seem to think. I have other ideas.

21. Inferno
Last year I was a bit obsessed Dante’s Inferno. In retrospect, I’m not entirely sure what that was all about.  The obsession carried over a little into 2016, which is why I read Dan Brown’s Inferno. Here’s the plot in a nutshell (and this sums up the plot of all three Dan Brown books I’ve read): a handsome, brilliant professor gets called in by some organization to save the world from utter doom by using his knack for solving puzzles and his esoteric knowledge of symbology. After reading this novel I felt like I had just completed a course on art history. I found myself nerdishly looking up all the images of all the art that was referenced. It also felt like I’d just read a travel guide to Florence, Italy.  Embedded in between the art history course and the travel guide, there is a relatively good story, but the characters lack dimension.

22. The Brain: The Story of You

David Eagleman is a neuroscientist with a fancy academic pedigree – he was mentored by Francis Crick. Does the word “pedigree” make anyone else think about dog shows? Non sequitur. Anyway, I just discovered that The Brain: The Story of You was written as a companion book for his PBS documentary, which I haven’t seen yet. It works fine as a stand-alone book.  It touches on big picture topics like how the brain constructs reality, how it makes decisions, how it constructs a sense of self, how it does empathy, etc.  It is very well written and a good choice for the layperson interested in catching up on the latest trends in brain research.

23. Brain on Fire

This is the memoir of a reporter who was diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor autoimmune encephalitis following a psychotic episode that left her strapped to a hospital bed. The condition was treated, she recovered, and wrote the book. I appreciate that it gets the word out about a rare condition.  The expository aspect of the book was fairly well written, but I didn’t particularly enjoy reading the autobiographical bits where the writing had a fledgling, gratuitous quality. I think it would have worked better as a magazine article.
24. The Belly Dance Handbook

I bought the book following a workshop I took from Princess Farhana, who is a knowledgeable, generous, and just plain fun teacher.  The handbook is all about the business of being a professional belly dancer. She covers a wide-range of topics:  classes, contracts, costuming, makeup, music, stage lighting, swords, veils, zaghareets, and zills. It’s loaded with tips, tricks, and pitfalls to avoid.

25. A Dirty Job

Hapless agents of Death abound in San Francisco’s used bookstores and  thrift shops, where objects and the souls they contain are peddled to the soulless in the natural order of things until one mysterious buyer with dubious intentions arrives on the scene. We come to know and understand this strange world through the eyes of Charlie Asher, a beta-male, recent-widower,  new father, and newly-minted death merchant in a tale that is equal parts fabulous and ridiculous.

I almost never re-read books, but this one was my suggestion for the book club.  It’s been almost a decade since I read it for the first time – it was just as good the second time.

26. Second Hand Souls

This is the sequel to Dirty Jobs.  Asher’s little girl is growing up and causing a ruckus.  Goth girls, vampires, the homeless “mayor” of San Francisco, hell hounds, Buddhist monks, the squirrel people, Minty Fresh — you’ll find all the same strange characters from the first book, plus a few ghosts and new weirdos.  It’s as funny as the first one.

27. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes Are High

Just adding more tools to the box with this one. I read it and then re-read it. Again, something I rarely do. It was a book referenced in Thanks for the Feedback (see below).

28. Thanks for the Feedback

I originally read Thanks for the Feedback in an effort to sharpen clinical and communication skills. However, the information seems widely applicable and much needed for everyone given the current political climate. Employing the techniques might help us all  find our way back to civil discourse. Stone and Heen discuss the art and science of giving and receiving feedback. They emphasize the receiving end of the interaction (i.e., listening), particularly when you would rather not listen to what’s being said (e.g., in a tough feedback conversation).  The deep listening techniques the authors describe are intended to enable you to respond productively rather than to simply react in ways that may be counterproductive. Their explanation of why it’s so hard to listen to dissenting opinions is grounded in research on the cognitive neuroscience of empathy. It’s a smart, well-written book.

29. Take the Stairs

Take the Stairs is our book club pick for the new year. It’s packed with motivational ideas like “visioneering,” which is  creating a vivid mental image of your ideal life that will inspire you to take action on a daily basis. Vaden recommends scheduling virtually every moment of day. Beyond the formal work day schedule, he suggests scheduling (in writing) additional time weekly for five basic areas of life: Faith, family, faculty (i.e., work), fitness, and finances.  His suggestion reminded me of a visit to the Clinton Museum and Presidential Library, where they have an exhibit displaying the daily schedules for Bill Clinton while he was in office. His schedules were packed with  back-to-back activities from early morning to late night.  I was exhausted just thinking about it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good schedule. Mine is hand-written, color-coded and cross-referenced with a spreadsheet of goals/resolutions and to-do lists. But that’s my work life. I don’t want to schedule my “off” time to this extent.  Back to the book. Much of it I had read elsewhere, but one unique suggestion was to not attempt to achieve balance in the five areas of life.  Instead, Vaden, recommends using “harvest time” to get the most out of the seasonal shifts of life.

30.Top Secret Twenty-One

My sister and I joined a mystery reader’s book club in the 90s and that is where we first read Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money. Maybe that’s why I experience a bit of nostalgia every time I step into a Stephanie Plum mystery. It’s like returning home to catch up with family and old friends (minus the dead bodies and exploding cars, of course).  The series is formulaic, thus predictable, and it still makes me laugh.

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Carlota Betlinski

P e d r o L

storytelling the world through travels & books

Before I Forget

STORIES WITH NO BOOKS

BEN TROVATO – Durban Poison

Columns. Letters. Rants. Stuff.

Stitched in Stone

Based on True Wives Tales

THE GODDESS ATTAINABLE

The Goddess Attainable Blog is an inspirational portal for a goddess way of life.

The Druid Herbalist

An ongoing journey with the healing power of plants

The Fledgling Belly

The Adventures of a Discerning Bellydancer

It's Just Life

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Down the Forest Path

A Journey Through Nature, its Magic and Mystery

Project: Motion Blog

Modern. MOVEment. Memphis.

The Human Rights Warrior

"There is some good in this world...and it's worth fighting for." ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

The Tragic Life of Frank

Around five minutes ago I had this sudden revelation; that my life is quite sufficiently, tragic.

zona pellucida

...blinded by the light

Donna Mejia

Dance Artist/Scholar/Cultural-Creative

Beautiful Day Traveler

It's a beautiful day to dance with words on this journey called life.

shimmymobmemphis

dancing to change the world

samrarose

Just another WordPress.com site

Peaceful Hands Reiki

Where love flows

Job & Career News

From the Memphis Public Libraries

LibrarianShipwreck

"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Sorry Television

Reading a book a week

Mark Coakley

Author of "Hidden Harvest" and "Tip and Trade"

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

CultFit

Form, Flow and Grace

Owls and Orchids

Life, Love, Spiritual Living and the odd Catastrophe.....