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?

 

Push and release

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800_6365 (Photo credit: binkwilder)

Ever take personal training at the gym? The trainer ignores all your moans and groans, loads you up with free weights and says, “Push, push, push” and then when you’ve pushed ’til the cows come home and your tongue is purple, they say “release.” Feels pretty good, right?

My week is like that. Monday and Tuesday I work really hard seeing clients. Push, push, push. Hard use of emotional energy. Then Wednesday comes and I say, “Ahhh.”  I also teach classes for my local university online. I work really hard Monday through Friday, answering emails, grading papers. When Friday night comes, when I have pushed through the week, I can finally say, “Ahhh.”

We need both the push and the release. I had a  friend several years ago who had a terminally ill partner. She devoted her life to keeping him alive: doctor’s visits, alternative treatments, special diets. Even though she knew the ultimate result, she couldn’t stop pushing. Push, push, push, with no release. My heart when out to her, and I crossed my fingers that she’d survive after he passed away. There was no release built into her 24/7; she couldn’t afford it, and her own well-being suffered as a result.

One of the most demanding Olympiad events is the biathlon. The Scandinavians excel–they ski at top speed for miles and miles, then stop and shoot for marksmanship with a rifle that they’ve had slung over a shoulder. They have measured the physical ability of these competitors: the best in the world. They are able to go from the adrenaline rush of high-speed skiing to the absolute calm of marksmanship, in other words, the push and release.

I like to go visit the beach; do nothing but walk the sand, feeling in every core of my body the push and release of the waves crashing against the shore.  We originally came from the ocean. I am wondering if the push-and-release instinct is hardwired into our psyche.

If so, we need to pay attention to what our body needs. Physical or emotional exertion, and then that relaxation release when we reach the end of the required effort. We need it; we crave it.

Push and release. Breathe. Repeat.  Ahhh!

 

Finding life’s balance

bella circus performs : yerba buena gardens sa...

When I was little the circus would come to town, and if my folks had the money we’d go see a performance. I liked the horses, didn’t find the clowns terribly funny, and gasped at the tigers and lions. But my absolute favorite were the artists who walked the tightrope.

They had this long floppy pole for balance, and I would hold my breath as they made minute adjustments, sometimes stepping back, then teetering precariously before they walked ahead slowly, testing each foothold. Only when they reached the platform at last, did I breathe again.

Life is like that, too. In difficult situations, the future seems precarious. I find that I have to move back before I can go forward. I tilt one way and then another to find balance.

Sometimes I forget that balance is ALWAYS a matter of making adjustments, depending on the current situation. That finding a balance in life is always temporary. I struggle to be flexible in the situation, ready to teeter and tilt and fight gravity for a toehold.

But that’s not such a bad thing. Kathy Freston, in her book Quantum Wellness talks about the four Rs of balance: Regular, Reach, Relate, and Rejuvenate. Regular is the ‘getting things done’ phase. In this category fit all those things you HAVE to do: work, chores, sleeping, eating, those ‘to do’ lists that multiply like rabbits.

Regular seems to be a strength of mine. Given a firm deadline, I can usually suck it up and get it done. Maybe not perfectly, but somehow, the important things are usually finished.

The second R, Reach, is also one that I enjoy. I’ve always been a reacher. I delight in discovering a new idea, a word I don’t know, a world I haven’t visited yet. It becomes an irresistible invitation. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt is my motto.

But I start to fade on the 3rd R, that Relate part. By nature, I am an introvert. Give me a good book, a warm cat, a comfortable couch, and I am content. I need to remind myself that there are others in the world, and that friendships need maintenance in order to thrive. I forget that, sometimes.

And when it comes to the 4th R, Rejuvenate: Have fun? Take care of myself? Do all those good things like exercise and eat well and sit in the sun and laugh? Ah, those are definitely way, way down the To Do list!

As Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and they is us.”

I walked along a favorite creek not too long ago. It is in a pristine slot canyon, with high red rock walls on either side. To get to the spring at the end, I must criss-cross the water a dozen times.

Each crossing is different. Some are easy, with large flat rocks. In some, poles have been placed across the water, and I must balance with one foot on each log, in an awkward, hitch-step fashion to reach the other side.

As I get deeper into the canyon, fewer hikers have gone before me. When there have been rains or frost in the early morning, the crossing rocks are slippery, and sometimes I end up with a wet foot. Or I choose a rock that settles into the mud, shifting uncertainly, and my arms fly out in balance in order to reach the safety of the other side.

Each crossing is different, each requires a different strategy to find balance. Sometimes I misstep and I end up in swift, cold water that jolts me into awareness of the present moment. At each crossing of the creek, I find that balance can be maintained only for an instant, and then a new challenge presents itself.

And I begin to recognize that life is like that, too. A work in progress always moving forward, in balance for just a moment before slipping into chaos once again. I begin to understand that life is all about finding balance and losing it, and finding it once again.