Best 8 Books to nurture creative people in mind, body, and spirit

West Fork, Oak Creek, Sedona, Arizona

As a writer, I use the month of January to reorient my life after the craziness of the holidays. That’s when I plan what I want to do during the coming year and renew my resolution to be as nurturing to myself as I can be.

I visit these eight authors to find new inspiration for the coming year:

Julia Cameron Finding WaterJULIA CAMERON. To nurture my creative spirit, there is no one better than Julia Cameron. She has written a series of books, including one for women in transition, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond involving three techniques for self-growth: handwriting morning pages, taking a walk in nature, and making an “artist’s date” where you take yourself to someplace new.

She’s best known for her Artist’s Way trilogy, and my special favorite is Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance

Your money or your life

VICKI ROBIN. Even though each year I resolve  to lower my holiday spending, I’m not always successful, and as a result January can be depressing! That’s when I turn to Robin’s seminal work, Your Money or your life. It’s been called, “the best book on money period.” I like it because it is practical and not preachy. It talks about the best ways to get out of debt, saving money through being more mindful, living well for less.

My kind of advice!

 

 

Paul Wilson - Finding the quiet

PAUL WILSON. About December 24th I think if I hear one more rendition of Jingle Bells I’ll scream. That’s when I yearn for silence and I turn to Finding the quiet: Four simple steps to peace and contentment—without spending the rest of your life on a mountain top.

(Although the mountaintop wouldn’t be bad, either!)

 

 

 

Meditation on the Go
PADRAIG O’MORAIN. Meditation calms me down and gives me clear thinking, which is absolutely essential for good writing. O’Morain is a master at giving ways to be more mindful, even on days when I am crazy-busy. According to the author of Mindfulness on the Go,  inner calm can be found “on your morning commute, during your coffee break, or in line at the super market.”

And he’s right!

 

Strong Women stay young
MIRIAM NELSON. Strong women stay young. Sometimes when the words are flowing, I spend long hours hunched over a computer keyboard, barely breathing, much less moving. I get up hours later moving like a jerky robot!

I’ve found much better way is to intersperse—with a timer set way across the room so I have to move—periods of writing with short bursts of physical activity.

Strong women stay young describes just six exercises using a straight back chair and a set of hand weights that can keep you limber, strong, and young.

 

Simple Steps

LISA LELAS. When deadlines loom, marketing rears its ugly head, and there is just too much to do in my life, I turn to Simple Steps: 10 weeks to getting control your life: Health, Weight, Home, Spirit.

What the author suggests is a step-by-step way back to sanity when stress threatens burnout.

I’ve bookmarked several strategies, and use them often.

 

 

 

Omnivore's Dilemma

MICHAEL POLLAN. The Omnivore’s DilemmaI like this author’s common sense approach to eating.

I’m a stress eater and a comfort eater and a convenience eater when I’m on a roll, plotting a new novel. Set something in front of me and I’ll eat it. Especially if it contains caffeine or chocolate, or even better, both!

Michael suggests instead, “eat food, not too much, more plants.” I agree.

 

 

The healthy writer
JOANNA PENN

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a brand new one just out, The Healthy Writer. Joanna knows all too well the kinds of stress that creative people subject themselves to in the pursuit of their art.

Here she teams up with a medical doctor to give some practical tips for escaping the unhealthy habits we sometimes construct for ourselves.

A positive read!

 

And that’s my favorite eight writers on best practices that help me start my New Year in a nurturing way.

What about you?
Who are you reading for inspiration right now?

 

Increase Productivity Through Immediate Rewards

Happy, happy, happy!

 

Have you ever listened to the dialogue you have everyday with yourself?

For example we’re all familiar with the Critic: You idiot! Why did you think that would ever work? They’re all laughing at you.

The “you” in this case often doesn’t talk back, but simply cowers in a virtual corner, taking in, and worse, accepting the negative judgments as being earned. Totally.

We also run into this negative evaluating side of ourselves when we don’t do something we know we should, for example, exercise: You are lazy. You should get up earlier.  Or overeating: Why did you take that extra piece of cake? You know better.

Indeed.

That system doesn’t always work too well, and in fact productivity plummets as we use valuable emotional energy to battle those negative, self-induced feelings within.

There is a way to change this.

Are you listening yet?

We can encourage and praise, rather than critique or judge when we do something difficult that we didn’t want or have to do, and did anyway: When we have that one in a thousand day when the to-do list got vanquished. When we tackled mind-numbing paperwork at the beginning of the day. When we not only made our step goal, but actually we were 57 steps over.

Some folks take this to mean, I need a BIG reward. When I do this hard thing, I’ll reward myself with a Godiva chocolate. (Who ever ate just one?) Or when I lose this weight, I’ll schedule a massage. (Find time for massage, schedule massage, get dressed, get in car…) Or if I finish the laundry, do this report, file my taxes, you name it–I’ll “let” myself read a fluff book. (Choose book, acquire book, don’t read it yet…no, not yet, either. If it’s a good book, it is already on my nightstand, half finished!)

There’s a more effective way. And it uses tools you always have at hand.

The key is that your rewarding action must be easy to do, short in duration, and it must be immediate.

Two ways to do this are the following:

IMMEDIATE PHYSICAL REWARD

Have you ever watched little kids on a playground? They do something difficult such as swoop down a slide for the first time, turn a hand spring, kick a goal. What do they do? They celebrate physically. They jump up and down. They hug themselves. They do a little dance. Their fist rises in a pump of victory.

Well, we all have a little kid inside that still wants to celebrate. The next time you accomplish something really cool, announce it physically in exactly the same way. And if you are in the middle of an office, head outside or into the restroom or a quiet place, and just do it. And then notice how you feel. Better?

SHORT VERBAL PRAISE

The second is by using small words of praise. My fitbit does this for me. When it notices that it is vertical rather than horizontal, it wakes up and rewards me: “Way to go!” it says. Or “Woot!” Or “What’s up?” And I have that little fillip of good feeling. Someone, or in this case, something, noticed my actions in a positive way.

You can do the same thing for yourself. On an index card, write down 10 short phrases that sound familiar to what you might say. The key is short. For me, the list includes, “Wow!” “That’s great.” “Look what you just did.” “That’s amazing!”

I practice saying these phrases in my mind, with as much enthusiasm as I can, ingraining them into my memory so that I can call them forth when I need them. And then I commit, to using them as often as I can, as soon as I can after a task is completed.

Try it. And then notice how you feel. I think you may be surprised.

If a system isn’t working, it doesn’t hurt to consider a change. Perhaps it is time to turn in those sticks and add a few more carrots to our lives.

What works for you?
How do you reward yourself when you do something hard?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ignorance is to bliss, as technology is to…

Bell Rock Courthouse ButteThe familiar phrase comes from an ode written by Thomas Gray, a poet who lived in the 1700s, The full quote is, “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”

The impetus for the poem was some joyful children playing near Eton College, with no thought of what future catastrophes their lives might hold. The poet lists a few: disdainful anger, pallid fear, grim-visaged, comfortless despair.  He describes an icy soul that watches a slow-consuming old age approach.

The poem was written when Gray was 26, perhaps a bit young for a midlife crisis, but consider that he died at 55. Later Romantic poets had even a worse fate, with Keats dying at 25 and Shelley at 30.

I’ve been blessed with good health, but these words of 300 years ago were prescient of events this past week.

On the advice of my wellness coach, I acquired a Fitbit and a blood-pressure cuff. (Also a thermometer that takes my temperature by touching my forehead, but that’s the topic for another day.)

Using these new wonders of technology, with additional inputs into my computer, I can tell exactly what my blood pressure is upon rising (comatose) and what percentage of fiber I have ingested for the day (not enough).

I now know if I’ve had a restful sleep or whether I’ve been sitting too long in front of the computer. It cheers me on if I’ve accomplished my step goal or allows me to “taunt” a friend if she has not achieved hers.

There are other intrusions on the horizon: Smart refrigerators that alert you if the milk is going bad. A beep on your phone to tell you the traffic is heavy this morning and you need to leave five minutes early for work.

Ray Kerzweil Singularity is NearAbout ten years ago, the futurist Ray Kurzweil wrote a book entitled, The Singularity is Near, in which he predicted a merger between genetics, nanotechnology and robotics to create a new humanoid species entirely unlike anything we ever known.

We are indeed close. I find it exceedingly uncomfortable to be jerked into the future like a puppy raised by the nape of the neck and unceremoniously dumped in the back yard. I’ve had that feeling several times this past week.

Maybe Thomas Gray had it right all along. Perhaps ignorance is bliss, and we don’t want, or need, to know what’s coming.

How do you feel about the merger of technology and humankind?
I’d love to hear from you!