Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Good Reads’ Category

Good Read: The Alchemist

 

IMG_2176 2 copy

 

Have you read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho?  It is a really great read that my dear friend recommended, which I finished reading recently.  I highly recommend this book to all!  This book traces the spiritual path and of a young shepherd boy who is compelled to follow his dream of finding a hidden treasure in Egypt.  To do so, he must leave the comfort zone of home, learn to trust the “Soul of the World,” and believe that there are forces in the universe that want us to be happy.  In order to find happiness, however, the boy must first discover his “Personal Legend”— that is to say, he must to discover what he is meant to do in the world.  Fortunately, the boy soon takes the first step in his acquisition of happiness — he listens to his heart and overcomes fear.  As the boy continues his sometimes painful journey, he discovers that one cannot be dissuaded from pursuing a “Personal Legend,” even if the choices seem impossible to bear.  The end result for anyone who does so, Coelho assures his readers, is physical and spiritual reward.

Some of my favorite quotes from this book are shown below.

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”

“All things are one.”

“Never stop dreaming.”

“Follow the omens.”

“Making a decision was only the beginning of things.  When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

“If I could, I’d write a huge encyclopedia just about the words luck and coincidence.  It’s with those words the universal language is written.”

“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.”

“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future, I’m only interested in the present.  If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.  You’ll see that there is life win the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesman fight because they are part of the human race.  Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it is all written there.”

“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future.  I’m interested only in the present.  If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.”

“The most important part of the language that all the world spoke — the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart — it was love.”

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person realize his dream.”

“Don’t think about what you’ve left behind…Everything is written in the Soul of the World, and there it will stay forever.”

“Wherever your heart is that is where you’ll find your treasure.”

“You will never be able to escape from your heart.  So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.  That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.”

“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for to achieve.”

“Every search begins with beginner’s luck.  And every search ends with the victors being severely tested.”

“Don’t give into your fears…If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”

“When we strive to be better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

 

IMG_6610 2

Good Read: Inspirational Books

IMG_4720 2

 

I thought that I would share some inspirational books!

Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna NiequistSavor contains 365 daily readings, plus there are great recipes included throughout the book.  Each daily reading is short and poignant, and designed to help you pause in your day, to consider your everyday life, to slow down, and notice the beauty right where you are.  Each reading ends with a question or statement to ponder throughout your day.  Below is an excerpt from this book.

“I want to arrive.  I want to get to wherever I’m going and stay there.  That’s why I used to be such a ferocious planner of my life.  But I’ve learned to just keep moving, keep walking, keep taking teeny tiny steps.  In those teeny tiny steps and moments I become who I am.  We don’t arrive.  But we can become.  And that’s the most hopeful thing I can think of.  In the passing moments of our lives, in the small steps we take, we are shaped into who we are becoming.  What small steps have you taken recently?  How have they shaped you?  Who are you becoming?” –Shauna Niequist

Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed: I love quotes, and this book is a collection of quotes and nuggets of advice and inspirational wisdom.  This book makes a great gift for women.  Below is one of my favorite quotes.

“The thing about rising is we have to continue upward; the thing about going beyond is we have to keep going.” — Cheryl Strayed

Outrageous Openness: Let the Divine Take the Lead by Tosha Silver: This book is about opening up to life, intuition, and divine guidance.  Each chapter contains pearls of playful wisdom.  Silver urges one to be open and provides examples of what happens when we practice from that place.  This book focuses on putting one’s faith in the divine/Universe/God/life to bring us what we need, while bringing an attitude of curiosity, acceptance, and generosity towards ourselves and others.

A Year Without Fear by Tama Kieves: I first read this book, a collection of daily inspirational wisdom, last year, and I am rereading this book again this year.  Each day’s reading provides inspiration.  Below is one of my favorite quotes.

“Trust each moment to take you where you need to go.  You won’t always have the same feelings or thoughts or perspective.  One day you wake up and new opportunities become available.  Opportunities are like a carousel ride with colorful horses that sail around and around.  When it’s your time, you’ll see your horse.  You’ll jump and fly through the air like a natural.  You’re always a natural in the right time.  Today I remember that in the right time, I’ll see my opportunity.”  –Tama Kieves

Good Read: BIG MAGIC!

IMG_7474 2

 

I recently finished reading, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert!  It is a fantastic read for everyone, as everyone is humans and inherently creative.  As you can see from the image above, I have earmarked the entire book!  Big Magic at its core is a celebration of a creative life.  Big Magic is broken into six sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity.  This is one of those books that I have on my desk, that I know I will go back and reference time and time again.  I am truly inspired after reading Big Magic.

The question: “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

Some of my favorite quotes from Big Magic appear below.

“And while the paths and outcomes of creative living will vary widely from person to person, I can guarantee you this: A creative life is an amplified life.  It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.  Living in this manner — continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you — is a fine art, in and of itself.”

“Because creative living is a path for the brave.  We all know this.  And we all know that when courage dies, creativity dies with it.  We all know that fear is a desolate boneyard where our dreams go to desiccate in the hot sun.  This is common knowledge; sometimes we just don’t know what to do about it.”

“Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates an uncertain outcome.”

“It seems to me that my fear and my creativity are basically conjoined twins — as evidenced by the fact that creativity cannot take a single step forward without fear marching right alongside of it.”

“And you have treasures hidden within you — extraordinary treasures — and so do I, and so does everyone around us.  And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.”

Read more

Good Read: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I recently finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  Japanese tidiness and organizing expert, Kondo, believes that decluttering your home can truly change your life.  Kondo has a waiting list for her services, and apparently, she does not have repeat customers as her “KonMari Method” really works.  Kondo firmly believes that serious tidying up cannot be done in baby steps of fifteen minutes daily or throwing out a few things every day.  Her philosophy is to do it all at once.

Kondo focuses on the relationship between three things: “In essence, tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in.”  She believes that the art of de-cluttering is “a special send-off for those things that will be departing,” and part of the process should be “a ceremony to launch them on a new journey.”

I do not like clutter and this book provided great suggestions for de-cluttering, which is really freeing.  Some of my favorite quotes from this book are shown below.

“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask” ‘Does this spark joy?’  If it does, keep it.  If not, dispose of it.  This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”

“When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.  As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t.”

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart.  Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.  By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”

“Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever.”

“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong.  Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.”

“I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.”

This book inspired me to go through my closet and attic and get rid of items that do not bring me/us joy!  If you are looking for help getting your house in order, I recommend this helpful book!

 

IMG_0830 2

Good Read: The Power of Starting Something Stupid

I recently finished reading the book entitled, The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton.  This was a good read. This book is full of helpful information, while providing a new perspective.  Richie illustrates how stupid is the New Smart—the key for success, creativity, and innovation.

What if the key to success, creativity, and fulfillment in your life lies in the potential of those stupid ideas?  This inspiring book will teach you:

-How to crush fear, make dreams happen, and live without regret;

-How to overcome obstacles such as lack of time, lack of education, or lack of money; and

-The five actions of the ‘New Smart’ to achieve authentic success.

One of the best takeaways for me came towards the end of the book.  In the conversations Richie had with older people near the end of their lives, their greatest lament didn’t have to do with failure, but with regret.  Therefore, if you have a wild idea that everyone says or thinks is ‘stupid’ — don’t discount it.  There is great value in those ‘stupid ideas’ that are actually not ‘stupid’ — instead, they are very insightful — and you should give them more attention and thought.

Have a great weekend!

 

IMG_0732 2

Helpful Books for Forging a Creative Path

books for creatives

I have shared some ‘Good Reads’ on the blog in the past.  However, I thought it would be helpful and useful to share the books, along with a brief synopsis and thoughts for each book, that have been especially helpful to me in pursuing a creative path.

 

Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

I first read Art & Fear during college and I have read it many times since.  This is one of my favorite books.  It explores the way art gets made, why it often does not get made, and the difficulties that arise along the way.  Most of all, this book helps to reshape your perspective and overcome your fear and attain your goals.

 

Ways of Seeing by John Berger

I also first read Ways of Seeing during college and I have read several times since.  Ways of Seeing is a collection of seven essays.  Three are pictorial; four are textual.  All essays are about art; how art is seen; how it is valued; how it is used; and what we can learn from looking at art.  I found this book very informative.

 

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

I have read The War of Art several times and this book is a practical guide for thriving in the creative world.  This is another one of my favorite books.  The wisdom in The War of Art can be used to help you accomplish any goal you set for yourself.  The key is beating resistance, a force that keeps one from living up to his/her potential.

 

This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love by Tama Kieves

I read This Time I Dance several years ago for the first time.  Tam Kieves is a former attorney who chose to leave practicing law and follow her true calling, writing.  Her story, which she shares in this book, about her career transition, is very inspiring and insightful.

 

The Power of Patience by M.J. Ryan

The Power of Patience offers many different ways of looking at patience and practicing patience each day.  I really enjoyed this book.  I found this book easy to read and filled with helpful information and various perspectives concerning patience.  Being creative, I have learned, requires a significant amount of patience and fortitude.

The portion of this book that resonated with me discussed patience in relation to receptivity.  Here is a quote from this book.  “However, the receptive energy of patience is real work!  It takes an effort to not simply run off and do something for the sake of doing it, to live in the unknown for as long as it takes without becoming angry, bitter, or depressed.  It may look like nothing on the surface.  But underneath, within ourselves, we’re lifting some heavy timber.”

 

Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Johnathan Fields

I enjoyed reading Uncertainty.  In a nutshell, this book is about managing the creative process, particularly with regard to entrepreneurial pursuits.  In this book, Jonathan Fields draws on his own experience of success, transformation, effort, and uncertainty and provides guidance on how to face our fears and use them to propel us forward, rather than hold us paralyzed.  Not only is this book motivational, inspiring you to take courageous decisions, it also provides practical advice on how to deal with the fear and take steps to avoid disaster.

 

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown presents her findings on the concepts of shame, weakness, and vulnerability.  Defining vulnerability “as exposure, uncertainty, and emotional risk,” Brene Brown has stated that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”  Brene Brown maintains that this feeling is the crux of most of our meaningful experiences.  Ultimately, she writes, it is not a weakness; everyone is vulnerable, we all need support via friends and family.  Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand.  Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice,” she writes, “we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen.  This is vulnerability.  This is daring greatly.”   When we choose to dare greatly, the rewards are vast: We feel more loved and are more loving, we feel worthy of that love, we choose our path and commit to it with daily practice, and we live with courage, engagement and a clear sense of purpose.

 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamontt

I read this book again last year while on vacation.  This is one of my favorite books chalked full of wisdom.  Below are a few of my favorite quotes from this book.

“You may need someone else to bounce your material off of, probably a friend or a mate, someone who can tell you if the seams show, or if you’ve lurched off track, or even that it is not as bad as you thought … But by all means let someone else take a look at your work.  It’s too hard always to have to be the executioner.”

“And I don’t think you have that kind of time either.  I don’t think you have the time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good enough at it, and I don’t think you have time to waste on someone who does not respond to you with kindness and respect.”

“The best thing about being an artist, instead of a madam or someone who writes letters to the editor, is that you get to engage in satisfying work.”

 

Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work! by Tama Kieves

I read Inspired and Unstoppable last year, which is a follow-up book to This Time I Dance!  Tama Kieves contemplates in this book that the way to success is an ‘inspired path,’ not a linear one.  In this book, she brings her ideas and actions together to help others choose to follow an ‘inspired path.’  I found the sentiments in this book insightful and helpful.

 

Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon

Art Inc. offers a concise guide for anyone seeking to start or enhance their career in art, with actionable tasks and helpful tools.  Lisa Congdon’s writing is clear, easy to understand, and inspiring.  I especially enjoyed the interviews with other artists that appeared throughout the book.  I also enjoyed reading the information relating to exhibitions and gallery representation.  Overall, the information contained in this book was very helpful and informative.

Good Read: Sashi, the Scared Little Sheltie

I recently was given the book entitled, Sashi, the Scared Little Sheltie!  This book is a good read, especially if you enjoy illustration and a book about a rescue sheltie friend!

Sashi, the Scared Little Sheltie, is the true story about a little dog who loses her home.  Sashi does not understand why she was left at an animal shelter, and because she cowered in a corner of her cage, potential adopters passed her by.  However, the Sheltie Rescue helps Sashi; and ultimately, Sahi is adopted into a home where she blossoms into the dog she was meant to be!  This story reminds me very much of our experience with Biscuit and Victory.

Importantly, this book was made possible via crowd funding via Kickstarter!

This book would make a wonderful gift for anyone who is a sheltie lover and/or anyone who supports dog rescue!

 

IMG_3983 2

Good Read: Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind

I recently finished reading the book entitled, Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn K. Glei and Scott Belsky.

This book explores a few facets of the creative life — increasing your idea generation; dealing with perfectionism; managing procrastination; and working through creative blocks, which are all common themes that artists face regularly.  Most of all, there are many insights from Seth Godin; Dan Ariely; Gretchen Rubin; and Steven Pressfield, among others who share their expertise.

Some of my favorite quotes from this book are shown below.

“It’s time to stop blaming our surroundings and start taking responsibility.  While no workplace is perfect, it turns out that our gravest challenges are a lot more primal and personal.  Our individual practices ultimately determine what we do and how well we do it. Specifically, it’s our routine (or lack thereof), our capacity to work proactively rather than reactively, and our ability to systematically optimize our work habits over time that determine our ability to make ideas happen….Only by taking charge of your day-to-day can you truly make an impact in what matters most to you.  I urge you to build a better routine by stepping outside of it, find your focus by rising above the constant cacophony, and sharpen your creative prowess by analyzing what really matters most when it comes to making your ideas happen.” -Scott Belsky

 

“Everybody who does creative work has figured out how to deal with their own demons to get their work done.  There is no evidence that setting up your easel like Van Gogh makes you paint better.  Tactics are idiosyncratic.  But strategies are universal, and there are a lot of talented folks who are not succeeding the way they want to because their strategies are broken.

The strategy is simple, I think.  The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.

There are many ways you can signify to yourself that you are doing your practice.  For example, some people wear a white lab coat or a particular pair of glasses, or always work in a specific place — in doing these things, they are professionalizing their art.”  -Seth Godin

 

“Step by step, you make your way forward.  That’s why practices such as daily writing exercises or keeping a daily blog can be so helpful.  You see yourself do the work, which shows you that you can do the work.  Progress is reassuring and inspiring; panic and then despair set in when you find yourself getting nothing done day after day.  One of the painful ironies of work life is that the anxiety of procrastination often makes people even less likely to buckle down in the future.” -Gretchen Rubin

 

“Creativity arises from a constant churn of ideas, and one of the easiest ways to encourage that fertile froth is to keep your mind engaged with your project.  When you work regularly, inspiration strikes regularly.” -Gretchen Rubin

 

If you are a creative, I highly recommend reading this book — there are many great insights and words of wisdom!  The biggest take away for me, from this book, is to maintain a regular daily art practice in order to keep moving forward and staying inspired.

 

IMG_0418 2

 

Good Read: Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon

I recently finished reading Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist by Lisa Congdon.  This was a good read!  This book offers a concise guide for anyone seeking to start or enhance their career in art, with actionable tasks and helpful tools.  Lisa Congdon’s writing is clear, easy to understand, and inspiring.  I especially enjoyed the interviews with other artists that appeared throughout the book.  I also enjoyed reading the information relating to exhibitions and gallery representation.  The information contained in this book was very helpful.

So, if you are a creative, I highly recommend reading this book!

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the word.” ~Albert Einstein

 

IMG_4608

Good Read: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

During our vacation, I read a few books and I also reread Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  I always enjoy Anne Lamott’s books.  Although this is book is mainly for writers, I found that her words are transferable to any creative discipline.  Below are some of my favorite quotes from her book, and perhaps you will find her words inspiring, too.

 

IMG_2451 2

 

“E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘writing a novel is like driving a car at night.  You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’  You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way.  You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.  This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.”

 

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.  You need to start somewhere.   Start by getting something — anything — down on paper.  A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft — you just get it down.  The second draft is the up draft — you fix it up.  You try to say what you have to say more accurately.  And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or eve, God help us, healthy.”

 

“Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop.  You can’t — and, in fact, you’re not supposed to — know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.”

 

“You may need someone else to bounce your material off of, probably a friend or a mate, someone who can tell you if the seams show, or if you’ve lurched off track, or even that it is not as bad as you thought … But by all means let someone else take a look at your work.  It’s too hard always to have to be the executioner.”

 

“That’s how real life works, in our daily lives as well as in the convalescent home and even at the deathbed, and this is what good writing allows us to notice sometimes.  You can see the underlying essence only when you strip away the busyness, and then some surprising connections appear.”

 

“So we need to sit there, and breathe, calm ourselves down, push up our sleeves, and begin again.”

 

“Writers tend to be so paranoid about talking about their work because no one, including us, really understands how it works.  But it can help a great deal if you have someone you can call when you need a pep talk, someone you have learned to trust, someone who is honest and generous and who won’t jinx you.”

 

“And I don’t think you have that kind of time either.  I don’t think you have the time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good enough at it, and I don’t think you have time to waste on someone who does not respond to you with kindness and respect.”

 

“If you look around, I think you will find the person you need.  Almost every writer I’ve ever known has been able to find someone who could be both a friend and a critic.  You’ll know when the person is right for you and when you are right for that person.  It’s not unlike finding a mate, where little by little you begin to feel that you’ve stepped into a share that was waiting there all along.”

 

“Publication is not going to change your life or solve your problems.  Publication will not make you more confident or more beautiful, and it will probably not make you any richer.”

 

“Being enough was going to have to be an inside job.”

 

“You can make the work a chore, or you can have a good time.  You can do it the way you used to clear the dinner dishes when  you were thirteen, or you can do it as a Japanese person would perform a tea ceremony, with a level of concentration and care in which you can lose yourself, and so in which you can find yourself.”

 

“The best thing about being an artist, instead of a madam or someone who writes letters to the editor, is that you get to engage in satisfying work.”