Have you ever wanted to just escape the city, suburbs or even a small village in the country side? Just leave it all behind and go out into the wildeHave you ever wanted to just escape the city, suburbs or even a small village in the country side? Just leave it all behind and go out into the wilderness. Well Claire Dunn did just that, she spend a year in the Australian outback building her own shelter and learning how to light a fire without matches. She wrote about her experiences in My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild and it is a fascinating and inspirational view into what a year in the wilderness can look like - and how it can help you figure out who you really and what you really need.
Our mission is to build our own shelters, and gradually to acquire skills such as making fire without matches, hunting and trapping, tanning hides, gathering bush food, weaving baskets, making rope and string, moulding pottery, tracking, increasing sensory awareness, learning bird language and navigating in the bush. Visiting instructors will join Kate and Sam to teach a series of workshops over the first half of the year. Then we will be left to fend for ourselves. The rules are few. Apart from no booze, we are limited to thirty days out of camp, and thirty days of visitors in. It is essentially to be a Choose Your Own Adventure story, with equal emphasis on experiencing the changing face of the bush and ourselves, over four full seasons. A cross between the reality-TV show Survivor and the solo wilderness reverie that American poet and naturalist Henry David Thoreau elucidated in his book Walden. "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!" Thoreau had exclaimed in exaltation of his self-styled life as a forest hermit, words I had inscribed on the inside cover of my journal. To qualify for the program, all we had need to do was study the basics over two week-long courses, and prove that our motivations weren't madness or law evasion.
Even though she'd been working to protect the environment and the Australian forests and thought she knew what the forest was like, actually living there turned out to be quite a different experience...
I thought I knew the forest until we moved in together. And then, as is often the case with flatmates, I realised I barely knew it all. It had been an easy assumption to make. I was a forest campaigner; the forest was my life. All day every day it was what I spoke of, what I thought about, what I loved.
More importantly, I imagine, was learning how to truly listen to yourself. To stop being a human doing, rather than a human being (something I can personally relate to).
"Claire, the messages we receive from our culture run deep. It trains us to be human doings, rather than human beings. Your upbringing was particularly strong in this. "For a woman, in particular, this comes at a great cost - separation from her true self. The most important task for you this year is to return to the feminine." ... "The feminine is guided by feeling and intuition. She learns to listen to the impulses arising within her, and acts according to her own sense of rightness. Her heart, not what the outside world deems to be success, is her map and compass. This is the seat of her power." ... "What I want you to do is simple: I just want you to feel. Feel everything. Unmoor your emotions from the judgments that will arise and come back to your heart. Ask yourself, 'What do I feel like doing now?' And then do that."
I think this is such an important lesson for all of us. Learning to truly listen to ourselves, figure out what is the right next step for us and realizing that we don't need to check of all of the things on our to-do list, before we are "enough", before we can do the things we truly desire.
I pick up the pace, my face red with the knowledge that I am being seduced again by the false promise that there is a magic point in the future when enough will be enough, when I will tick the right number of boxes to give me permission to slow down.
In conclusion she touches upon how most of us could do this, if we really wanted to, but so few of us do in part because we don't truly believe it's possible. In my experience this doesn't just go for spending a year in the wild - it is just as true for our other dreams.
"You could do it, too," I say lightly, as the young guy looks wistfully at my shelter, knowing as soon as I say it that there's plenty of reasons why he can't, or won't. While the few thousand dollars and the luxury of unattached time mightn't seem like much, it's more than most people have. And that's the easy part. Hardest is the belief that it's possible, that you can do the thing you've always wanted to do, the one thing that calls to you more than anything. The thing you'll only regret in its absence.
Self-care has become increasingly important to me over the past several months, as I've been dealing with (and continue to deal with) a lot of healthSelf-care has become increasingly important to me over the past several months, as I've been dealing with (and continue to deal with) a lot of health challenges. I've had to truly learn what it means to put myself and my health first - something that's very difficult, when you veer towards a Type A personality and want to be able to do all of the things perfectly all of the time.
I struggled with permission. Feeling worthy and deserving of having my needs looked after.
One of the more difficult things to come to terms with was realizing that self-care isn't something you can check off your list and be done with - you have to start over every day. But that's also the beauty of it, that you get to start over every day and work on becoming truly proficient at looking after yourself - which in the end will enable you to be the "best" you.
At its essence, it's very core, self-care is about identifying and meeting your needs.
Braime guides you gently and with compassion through why self-care is so important - and why we might resist it. Teaches about the difference between coping strategies, short-term self-care and long-term self-care. She covers the essentials of self-care such as sleep, exercise and food and shares an abundance of suggestions to try out.
Storytellerby Jodi Picoult - like all of her brilliant novels - tangle with the more difficult questions. Who's got the right to forgive? Can murder eStoryteller by Jodi Picoult - like all of her brilliant novels - tangle with the more difficult questions. Who's got the right to forgive? Can murder ever be justice? Or mercy?
You will ask me, after this, why I didn't tell you this before. It is because I know how powerful a story can be. It can change the course of history. It can save a life. But it can also be a sink-hole, a quicksand in which you become stuck, unable to write yourself free. You would think bearing witness to something like this would make a difference, and yet this isn't so. In the newspapers I have read about history repeating itself in Cambodia. Rwanda. Sudan. Truth is so much harder than fiction. Some survivors want to speak only of what happened. They go to schools and museums and temples and give talks. It's the way they can make sense of it, I suppose. I've heard them say they feel it is their responsibility, maybe even the reason they lived. My husband - your grandfather - used to say, Minka, you were a writer. Imagine the story you could tell. But it is exactly because I was a writer that I could never do it. The weapons an author has at her disposal are flawed. There are words that feel shapeless and overused. Love, for example. I could write the word love a thousand times and it would mean a thousand different things to different readers. What is the point of trying to put down on paper emotions that are too complex, too huge, too overwhelming to be confined by an alphabet? Love isn't the only word that fails. Hate does, too. War. And hope. Oh, yes, hope. So you see, this is why I never told my story. If you lived through it, you already know there are no words that will ever come close to describing it. And if you didn't, you will never understand.
It's the story of a small-town baker hiding from the world, until she strikes up a friendship with a man old enough to be her grandfather - with a story of evil he's kept a secret for most of his life. How do ordinary people end up able to commit horrific crimes?
Did I know this brutality was wrong? Even that first time, when my brother was the victim? I have asked myself a thousand times, and the answer is always the same: of course. That day was the hardest, because I could have said no. Every time after that, it became easier, because if I didn't do it again, I would be reminded of that first time I did not say no. Repeat the same action over and over again, and eventually it will feel right. Eventually, there isn't even any guilt. What I mean to tell you, now, is that the same truth holds. This could be you, too. You think never. You think, not I. But at any given moment, we are capable of doing what we least expect. I always knew what I was doing, and to whom I was doing it. I knew, very well. Because in those terrible, wonderful moments, I was the person everyone wanted to be.
I don't want to give too many details away, suffice it to say that Picoult is as thought-provoking as ever. She's a master at pulling at your heart-strings while making it completely impossible to continue to see the world in black and white - which is why she's one of my favourite writers. ...more
Lately I've been digging deeper into health looking beyond just diet, and instead embracing the importance of all aspects of our lifestyle. The PrimalLately I've been digging deeper into health looking beyond just diet, and instead embracing the importance of all aspects of our lifestyle. The Primal Connection: Follow Your Genetic Blueprint to Health and Happiness by Mark Sisson is the best guide I've found so far to get started on this. While there's still plenty of things to dig further into, it's an excellent primer on a wealth of topics, such as:
Nature + Wilderness
I'm talking about a life of physical challenge but ample leisure. I'm talking about living by the natural ebb and flow of light and darkness, season to season. I'm talking about living in smaller groups. I'm talking about play and creativity and getting dirt under our fingernails - a life of the raw senses and an overlapping of the self and the natural environment.
Not all of the suggestions might work right now, but there are plenty that help you bring these aspects into your life in little bits and pieces and I love knowing what I can work towards going forward.
I've noticed for a while that taking plenty of time for sleep, spending time in nature and generally slowing down is incredibly important for both my mental and physical health and well-being. The Primal Connection has helped me look at more ways to get these things into my day-to-day life, as well as pointing out other important areas such as playing with dirt - and playing in general. I highly recommend it!
How do you make sure to make time for sleep, play, nature in your life? Have you noticed these things making a difference?
As always I invite you to find me and connect with me on Goodreads.
Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourselfby Lissa Rankin, M.D., is a difficult one for me. On one hand I am a skeptic at heart aMind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin, M.D., is a difficult one for me. On one hand I am a skeptic at heart and I tend to question most things in life – whether that be religion, work, lifestyle and health. As an example I am gluten free, even though I am not (to my knowledge) Celiac. And you know, gluten free is all a fad… Although my decision came after reading about an Italian study that showed 75% of women with Endometriosis do better on a gluten free diet, you could easily - from a skeptical perspective - pick it apart: It wasn't a double-blind study, there was no control that people really stayed gluten free, etc. But I decided that it was a good enough reason for me to give gluten free a proper chance. After I reached my initial goal of 3 months I already felt much better, and since then I have halved my consumption of pain killers. Which is anecdotal evidence, and therefore counts for practically nothing in most skeptical communities.
Furthermore, I know that I do much better when I follow a primal/paleo diet and cut out all grains, legumes, processed/refined sugar and most dairy. I always stay gluten free, but I can tell you when I eat processed food (including processed gluten free foods) and particularly anything rich in sugar, my body reacts. Strongly. Again, this is anecdotal evidence and even though I could link you to hundreds and probably thousands of blog posts from people who are paleo/primal and where these lifestyle changes have improved their health and wellness, it is still “just” anecdotal evidence. Or worse, “all in our head”, a statement which I am particularly sensitive to as I have had several doctors tell me that my period pains were “all in my head” and that I just needed to get over myself. This happened for years until I finally saw an OB/GYN specialized in Endometriosis who straight away recognized my symptoms and had me booked in for a laparoscopy (the only way to diagnose Endometriosis). Turns out, it was not all in my head.
With that being said, I do think our head and our mind can play a massive role on our health, wellness and recovery. We know that our mind can play a huge effect on our body, so that we might get better when given a sugar pill as long as we believe it is the real medicine, aka the placebo effect. Similarly we might experience side effects from medicine – even if we have received no real medicine – this is also known as the nocebo effect. It is a fine line though, I don’t believe in “the law of attraction” – that it is out “fault” if we become ill, but I do think our mind can play a huge role in our getting better. What I don’t understand is how often the conventional medical community will completely disregard the placebo effect as a useful tool in helping people to heal. At the end of the day, if I halved my pain from going gluten free I don’t really care if it’s the placebo effect – I care about how I feel and my health.
While I did not agree with everything that Lissa writes in Mind Over Medicine, I thought it was very thought-provoking and a great read to start thinking about these issues. I really loved her own journey from a more “standard” medical approach, to beginning to look at the role that our mind plays in our health. Her dedication to her dad (who was also a very skeptical doctor) was very heart-warming:
I hugged Mom and mused about what my father would think about this book if he had read it. The whole time I researched it, his voice was the voice in the back of my head, questioning me, prodding me, pushing me to go deeper, serving as the ultimate skeptic I was trying to win over.
I also really appreciated her focus on providing references for her statements:
Throughout this book, I make every effort to back up what might seem like far-out statements with scientific references. Because I know that what I’m about to teach you will raise eyebrows, I’ve written this book just for the people who are skeptical, as I was. I’ve laid out the book to walk you through my argument as if a jury of my physician peers were judging me.
Lissa starts of by talking about the different thoughts around how placebo works; 1) they think they will get better, 2) classical conditioning, 3) emotional support, 4) other treatment and 5) disease resolves itself. She goes on to talk about how negative thinking has been shown to have an effect on our body and how our thoughts can actually change the way our DNA expresses itself.
Lipton says, “When we shift the mind’s interpretation of illness from fear and danger to positive belief, the brain responds biochemically, the blood changes the body’s cell culture, and the cells change on a biological level.”
When our beliefs are hopeful and optimistic, the mind releases chemicals that put the body in a state of physiological rest, controlled primarily by the parasympathetic nervous system, and in this state of rest, the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms are free to get to work fixing what’s broken in the body.
Talking about the use of alternative treatments (this is where I get very skeptical, to be honest):
Instead of dismissing such treatments, I’d like to make the argument that perhaps nontraditional healing modalities work not so much because of the modality being practiced as because of the potent combination of positive belief in the healing method, the nurturing care offered by the practitioner, and the relaxation responses these treatments induce. Perhaps these modalities are, in fact, highly effective— but not via the means we might expect.
In conventional medical wisdom, we call anything that doesn’t outperform placebo “quackery.” But haven’t we lost sight of the real goal? I suggest we reconsider our evaluation standards regarding the efficacy of medical treatments. If the patient is getting better, does it really matter whether the treatment is better than placebo? Is resolution of symptoms and cure of disease not the ultimate goal? Does it really matter how we achieve such a goal?
One thing that turns out to be very important is whether or not we FEEL in control of our health and our lives:
Psychological states can directly affect the outcome of remission from some diseases, at least those that are immune-mediated, as many cancers are. This may explain why optimists are healthier than pessimists. Because of their healthier explanatory styles in the face of negative life events , optimists are more likely to learn healthy adaptations in response to life’s shocks, making them immune to states of helplessness. Pessimists, on the other hand, feel like life’s shocks are inescapable, and like the listless, helpless rats, they get depressed and their immune systems weaken . Over the course of a lifetime, fewer episodes of learned helplessness may keep the immune system stronger, reduce stress responses and their negative health outcomes, and reduce the likelihood of disease.
Radical self-care also involves things like setting boundaries, living in alignment with your truth, surrounding yourself with love and a sense of connection, and spending time doing what you love. You need radical self-care, not just in your health habits, but in the rest of your life.
Merely knowing what needs to change isn’t enough. The hardest part of the process is mustering up the guts to actually do what you know you need to do.
[caption id="attachment_1628" align="aligncenter" width="294"] Whole Health Cairn[/caption]
Lissa goes on to talk about the importance of happiness, how we can deal with our own negative thoughts and beliefs. She also goes into great detail about the importance of balance in our lives, what she calls the ‘whole health cairn’ – if one of the stones/parts in our lives isn’t balanced, our physical health is often the first to go. Lissa ends by giving us suggestions on how we can write our own individual prescription to help us create more balance and vitality in our life. ...more
Lean In for Graduates(the updated and expanded version of Lean In) by Sheryl Sandberg is a very thought-provoking read. While I might not agree with eLean In for Graduates (the updated and expanded version of Lean In) by Sheryl Sandberg is a very thought-provoking read. While I might not agree with everything in it, it left me with a lot of things to think about.
Lean In has been criticised for being very middle class-centric - and it is. Some women aren't interested in leaning in, other are more than busy making enough money to make ends meet. Sandberg herself addresses some of these criticisms in her introduction to Lean In for Graduates:
This book makes the case for leaning in, for being ambitious in any pursuit. And while I believe that increasing the number of women in positions of power is a necessary element of true equality, I do not believe that there is one definition of success or happiness. Not all women want careers. Not all women want children. Not all women want both. I would never advocate that we should all have the same objectives. Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire. Some of the most important contributions to our world are made by caring for one person at a time. We each have to chart our own unique course and define which goals fit our lives, values, and dreams. I am also acutely aware that the vast majority of women are struggling to make ends meet and take care of their families. Parts of this book will be most relevant to women fortunate enough to have choices about how much and when and where to work; other parts apply to situations that women face in every workplace, within every community, and in every home. If we can succeed in adding more female voices at the highest levels, we will expand opportunities and extend fairer treatment to all. ... I know some believe that by focusing on what women can change themselves—pressing them to lean in— it seems like I am letting our institutions off the hook. Or even worse, they accuse me of blaming the victim. Far from blaming the victim, I believe that female leaders are key to the solution. Some critics will also point out that it is much easier for me to lean in, since my financial resources allow me to afford any help I need. My intention is to offer advice that would have been useful to me long before I had heard of Google or Facebook and that will resonate with women in a broad range of circumstances.
While there are definitely other issues that we as feminists, and as people in general, need to address, but in my opinion that doesn't make the topics discussed here less relevant.
Because it is relevant that the way men and women are treated within the professional world is often very different. Sandberg's cover the differences (backed up by studies), and talks about different ways to manage your career:
As you start your career, you should be aware that men are often promoted based on potential, while women are promoted on past performance. You should also be aware that when men are successful, they are often better liked by both men and women, but when women are successful, they are liked less. I have asked audiences around the world to raise their hands if they’ve been told they were too aggressive at work. Time and again, a small fraction of men raise their hands, while a great majority of women shoot a hand into the air … and sometimes two. You should also be aware of the internal barriers that we often impose on ourselves. Too many women sit on the side of the room when they should be sitting at the table. Too many women lower their voices when they should be speaking up. This is not our fault. We internalize messages that say it’s wrong for us to be outspoken, aggressive, and as powerful as— or even more powerful than— men. In response, we alter our actions.
Professional ambition is expected of men but is optional— or worse, sometimes even a negative— for women. “She is very ambitious” is not a compliment in our culture. Aggressive and hard-charging women violate unwritten rules about acceptable social conduct. Men are continually applauded for being ambitious and powerful and successful, but women who display these same traits often pay a social penalty. Female accomplishments come at a cost.
Even worse, the messages sent to girls can move beyond encouraging superficial traits and veer into explicitly discouraging leadership. When a girl tries to lead, she is often labeled bossy. Boys are seldom called bossy because a boy taking the role of a boss does not surprise or offend. As someone who was called this for much of my childhood, I know that it is not a compliment.
From a very early age, boys are encouraged to take charge and offer their opinions. Teachers interact more with boys, call on them more frequently, and ask them more questions. Boys are also more likely to call out answers, and when they do, teachers usually listen to them. When girls call out, teachers often scold them for breaking the rules and remind them to raise their hands if they want to speak.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Peggy McIntosh from the Wellesley Centers for Women, gave a talk called “Feeling Like a Fraud.” She explained that many people, but especially women, feel fraudulent when they are praised for their accomplishments. Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake has been made. Despite being high achievers, even experts in their fields, women can’t seem to shake the sense that it is only a matter of time until they are found out for who they really are— impostors with limited skills or abilities. ... For women , feeling like a fraud is a symptom of a greater problem. We consistently underestimate ourselves. Multiple studies in multiple industries show that women often judge their own performance as worse than it actually is, while men judge their own performance as better than it actually is.
This experiment supports what research has already clearly shown: success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less. This truth is both shocking and unsurprising: shocking because no one would ever admit to stereotyping on the basis of gender and unsurprising because clearly we do.
All through my life, culturally reinforced signals cautioned me against being branded as too smart or too successful. It starts young. As a girl, you know that being smart is good in lots of ways, but it doesn’t make you particularly popular or attractive to boys.
“We believe not only that women are nurturing, but that they should be nurturing above all else. When a woman does anything that signals she might not be nice first and foremost, it creates a negative impression and makes us uncomfortable.”
For women, taking credit comes at a real social and professional cost. In fact, a woman who explains why she is qualified or mentions previous successes in a job interview can lower her chances of getting hired.
When a man helps a colleague, the recipient feels indebted to him and is highly likely to return the favor. But when a woman helps out, the feeling of indebtedness is weaker. She’s communal, right? She wants to help others. Professor Flynn calls this the “gender discount” problem, and it means that women are paying a professional penalty for their presumed desire to be communal. On the other hand, when a man helps a coworker, it’s considered an imposition and he is compensated with more favorable performance evaluations and rewards like salary increases and bonuses. Even more frustrating, when a woman declines to help a colleague, she often receives less favorable reviews and fewer rewards. But a man who declines to help? He pays no penalty.
An internal report at Hewlett-Packard revealed that women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100 percent of the criteria listed. Men apply if they think they meet 60 percent of the requirements. This difference has a huge ripple effect. Women need to shift from thinking “I’m not ready to do that” to thinking “I want to do that—and I’ll learn by doing it.”
Most people would agree that gender bias exists … in others. We, however, would never be swayed by such superficial and unenlightened opinions. Except we are. Our preconceived notions about masculinity and femininity influence how we interact with and evaluate colleagues in the workplace. A 2012 study found that when evaluating identical CVs for a lab manager position from a male student and a female student, scientists of both sexes gave better marks to the male applicant. Even though the students had the same qualifications and experience, the scientists deemed the female student less competent and offered her a lower starting salary and less mentoring. Other studies of job applicants, candidates for scholarships, and musicians auditioning for orchestras have come to the same conclusion: gender bias influences how we view performance and typically raises our assessment of men while lowering our assessment of women. Even today , gender-blind evaluations still result in better outcomes for women. Unfortunately, most jobs require face-to-face interviews.
When I hear language like that, I bring up the Heidi/ Howard study and how success and likeability are negatively correlated for women. I ask the evaluator to consider the possibility that this successful female may be paying a gender-based penalty. Usually people find the study credible, nodding their heads in agreement, but then bristle at the suggestion that this might be influencing the reaction of their management team. They will further defend their position by arguing that it cannot be gender related because— aha!— both men and women have problems with that particular female executive. But the success and like-ability penalty is imposed by both men and women. Women perpetuate this bias as well. Of course, not every woman deserves to be well liked. Some women are disliked for behaviors that they would do well to change. In a perfect world, they would receive constructive feedback and the opportunity to make those changes. Still, calling attention to this bias forces people to think about whether there is a real problem or a perception problem. The goal is to give women something men tend to receive automatically— the benefit of the doubt.
I greatly recommend Lean In for Graduates - to both men and women. These topics matter to all of us. I sincerely believe that we will all do better, achieve more - in both our professional and personal lives - if we work together on a fair and equal basis....more
One of the things I love about Kresser's approach, is that he understands that each of us is unique, and that the Paleo diet is a template that must be fitted to our individual needs and challenges.
I've discovered that Paleo functions best as a general template, not a rigid prescription. Think of it as a starting point, not a destination. Even though we each share so much of the same DNA, we have unique circumstances and needs.
Kresser goes over the scientific background for eating a paleo diet, before diving into how to "reset" your diet and then tailor it to your needs. From macronutrients to micronutrients (what we need, where we can get it and how we can make sure we actually absorb them), He then goes on to address other health issues such as exercise, sleep, stress, social connections, nature and play.
While Your Personal Paleo Code is long enough on it's own, you can find a ton of extra chapters on Kresser's website, covering specific health issues such as anxiety and depression, adrenals, skin issues, stress management, digestive issues, autoimmune diseases etc., as well as references upon references to all of the scientific studies backing up his information.
Your Personal Paleo Code is an amazing resource, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to understand how diet and health and wellness all intersect....more
How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk by Bruce Kasanoff is a quick and easy read, but that doesn’t take away from the timeless and inspirational content. Kasanoff's writing style is very clear, precise and easy to understand.
The basic idea is that it is possible, and indeed preferable to promote yourself – but it is possible to do this without being a jerk. The way to do this is to be:
I very much enjoyed How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk and thought it was a great reminder – although for those of us who keep up-to-date on personal development there wasn’t a lot of new ideas (at least not “new-to-me”). Quotes
By first thinking help this person, you will change the way that others perceive you. There is no faster or more effective way to change your interactions and relationships. You will be viewed as a positive, constructive, helpful, and dependable person. People will think you are perceptive, attentive, and understanding. That's why this way of thinking is not altruistic; it is selfish, in the best sense of the word. The single best way to help yourself is to always be looking for ways to help other people. Sure, you'll be making the world a better place, and over the course of your life, you will help many thousands of people. But don't do it because you ought to or because it's the "right" thing to do.
Instead of figuring out what you really want to say, you might tend to cram too much information into one document, whether that happens to be a memo, report, or presentation. There are many ways to phrase this. You could ask someone to identify three things you should consider changing. You could ask them for their three least favorite aspects of the work you did. You might try asking them to identify three things they did not fully understand. The key is to not be too negative in your request. If you say, “Tell me three things you hated,” most people will say, “I didn’t hate anything, it was good.”
Lots of people — myself included — talk a good game about being open-minded. But how many of us are truly open to ideas that challenge our most closely held beliefs? This question is important because the odds are overwhelming that at some point, your career, marriage, or even your life will be wholly undone by your belief in an idea that proved to be wrong.
The best business people are show people, as are the most effective educators and the most compassionate physicians. Whether consciously or not, they operate their professional lives as though they were in show business.
Partner with others, but do so in a thoughtful and cautious manner. Choose partners who have solid reputations, who share key values with you, and with whom you have common goals.
The memories of the first decade seemed rather disjointed at first, often jumping from one to another with seemingly no connection between them. Later on, however, it begins to come together and makes sense, as each memory helps throw light on new issues in Scot's life.
Lily Scot has led a fascinating, and at times very difficult life. I loved the way she opened up to the reader and allowed us inside into her life, giving us a chance to understand the things that we have found difficult and hard to accept in our own lives - even as they might have been very different to hers.
However, Sating the Preta is not a how-to-manual on overcoming complex PTSD and emotional abuse. It is the author's story, and while it is inspirational and gives the reader hope, there is little practical advice or guidance (which might also have been misplaced in a memoir). In my opinion this doesn't detract, but is just something for the reader to be aware of....more
While never crude or unfairly dismissive, Sagan convincingly makes the point of Edmund Way Teale: "It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it." Sagan over and over again shows how dangerous it is to accept pseudoscience and other falsehoods without any scientific, independently verifiable evidence. He tackles such varied topics as UFOs, alien abductions, astrology, witch hunts, faith healings, demons etc., and authoritatively debunks them all.
In the last part of the books he uncovers how dangerously far Americans have falling behind when it comes to understanding even the most elementary science, and what dangers it could hold for the future, specifically in terms of democracy and liberty.
If nothing else, I highly recommend the chapter The Fine Art of Baloney Detection(the link will take you to a free PDF version). In my opinion this essay should be required reading in all high schools. It powerfully and simply sets forward rules and guidelines to help you keep a skeptical mindset, e.g. by using tools such as looking for independent confirmation of the "facts", encourage debates from all points of view, put little weight on authority arguments, look for more than one explanation, don't become too attached to your own explanation etc.
Sagan has a real gift for explaining difficult and scientific topics in layman terms, so even if you don't have a scientific background it is an easy, enlightening and educational read. Quotes
"Spirit" comes from the Latin word "to breathe". What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word "spiritual" that we are talking of anything other than matter (including the matter of which the brain is made), or anything outside the realm of science. On occasion, I will feel free to use the world. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
"Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing in the absence of evidence, on my say-so."
101 Secrets For Your Twenties written by Paul Angone is a funny, often profound book full of insights to your twenties. Fundamentally your twenties is101 Secrets For Your Twenties written by Paul Angone is a funny, often profound book full of insights to your twenties. Fundamentally your twenties is a time to experiment and build the foundation for the rest of your life - it is not the time where everything will fall into place and be perfect. And that's a relief. If you don't already read Paul Angone's blog, All Groan Up, go do so. It is rather representative of the book as well. I recommend starting with 21 Secrets For Your Twenties, which is the article that made Paul Angone and the site famous. There were times I felt there was a bit too much religion in there, just so you know. I would still heartily recommend it though, especially to those of you who are, you know, in your twenties. Quotes
As a writer, I used to be bummed about all the time and effort I spent writing hundreds of pages that would never see the light. But as I grew as a writer I learned that you have to write a lot of really atrocious firstdrafts before you can find the story you need to tell. Our 20s are the same way. For many years it will be about getting words down on paper that we’ll edit later. Plans will fail because that’s part of Frightful First Draftdom. But five rewrites later, we’ll lean back and say, “Wow, that’s actually not too bad.” We have to be willing to allow ourselves to write some terrible first drafts. You can’t have a good story without a good struggle. If we keep trying to live other people’s lives, who is going to live ours? If we’re always trying to live like we’re “supposed to,” we’re never going to truly live. Insecurities don’t just disappear with age. No—they become more pronounced and ingrained. We must actively face these insecurities and work on removing the root, or the weeds will just keep growing back. We need to sail our own ship instead of drowning trying to swim to everyone else’s. Complaining and creating have a direct correlation. The more you create, the less you complain. The more you complain, the less you create. It’s a pretty simple formula. Complaining is passive and powerless. Creating is proactive and powerful. We learn that sometimes life will dismantle you so that you can be rebuilt. We spend so much energy worrying about what other people think, when honestly they’re not really thinking about us at all. We spend so much time making our lives look virtually appealing, when maybe we should spend more time, you know, actually making our lives. Are you freaked out that you have no idea what you’re doing? Perfect! So is everyone else. Even the so-called experts sometimes don’t have a clue. Sometimes they have simply mastered the art of Perceived Credibility. “Stop worrying about finding the right person. Instead, start working on becoming the right person.” I wanted to find someone to heal from my insecurities, when I really needed to heal from my insecurities, so that I could find someone. Naomi loves saying, “We get to create our marriage.” And I think she’s right. Marriage doesn’t define us, we define it.
The Little Book of Contentment by Leo Babauta is an excellent introduction to the philosophy of being satisfied and content with life as it is right nThe Little Book of Contentment by Leo Babauta is an excellent introduction to the philosophy of being satisfied and content with life as it is right now, while realizing that doesn't necessarily have to mean leading a stagnant or lazy life. Highly recommend it (plus it's free!)...more
About a month ago I read To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink, in which the author makes the argument that the vaAbout a month ago I read To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink, in which the author makes the argument that the vast majority of us are in sales (especially people in health care and education), whether we know it or not.
"People are now spending about 40 percent of their time at work engaged in non-sales selling— persuading, influencing, and convincing others in ways that don’t involve anyone making a purchase. Across a range of professions, we are devoting roughly twenty-four minutes of every hour to moving others."
Pink shows us that the image, many of us have, of the dishonest used-car salesman who uses tricks and pressure to get people to buy, rarely aligns with reality. Instead he shows us techniques that can help us to more effectively share the world, as we see it, with other people.
"First, in the past, the best salespeople were adept at accessing information. Today, they must be skilled at curating it— sorting through the massive troves of data and presenting to others the most relevant and clarifying pieces. Second, in the past, the best salespeople were skilled at answering questions (in part because they had information their prospects lacked). Today, they must be good at asking questions— uncovering possibilities, surfacing latent issues, and finding unexpected problems."
"Martin also said that top salespeople have strong emotional intelligence but don’t let their emotional connection sweep them away. They are curious and ask questions that drive to the core of what the other person is thinking. That’s getting into their heads and not just their hearts, attunement rule number two. Most of all, “you have to be able somehow to get in synch with people, to connect with them, whether you’re with a grandmother or the recent graduate of an MBA program,” she told me."
I especially enjoyed the part that looked at the role of introverts and ambiverts in selling:
"The notion that extraverts are the finest salespeople is so obvious that we’ve overlooked one teensy flaw. There’s almost no evidence that it’s actually true."
Another key takeaway was the research by Barbara Fredrickson which showed that people with a positive outlook on life tend to have a ratio of 3:1 positive emotions to negative emotions in their lives. She has a daily tracker, which I’ve been using for almost 2 months now and have found incredibly helpful and insightful in realizing how different events and people affect me and my general well-being.
In addition, did you know that people unconsciously feel like things are more true if they rhyme, compared to things that do not rhyme?
"Participants rated the aphorisms in the left column as far more accurate than those in the right column, even though each pair says essentially the same thing. Yet when the researchers asked people, “In your opinion, do aphorisms that rhyme describe human behavior more accurately than those that do not rhyme?” the overwhelming answer was no. Participants were attributing accuracy to the rhyming versions unconsciously."
I greatly recommend To Sell Is Human to traditional and non-traditional sales people alike – especially if you are in the business of moving people. And really, aren't we all?
"In both traditional sales and non-sales selling, we do better when we move beyond solving a puzzle to serving a person."
"That means that not only should we ourselves be serving, but we should also be tapping others’ innate desire to serve. Making it personal works better when we also make it purposeful."...more
F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Wayby John C. Parkin has been described as Buddhism/Eastern Philosophy expressed in Western terms. As you you might alF**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way by John C. Parkin has been described as Buddhism/Eastern Philosophy expressed in Western terms. As you you might already know, I am an atheist, so I don't particularly care about the religious beliefs espoused, but I picked the book up nevertheless because it came highly recommended by a friend.
It is well written, funny and very (thought) provoking at times. I wouldn't say I agree with all of it, and some of the more religious points completely lost me (such as talking about chi, your "life force"), but I would still recommend it. I think the main point, to generally speaking just let go and say "f**k it", is something that I, and most people I know, should take to heart.
When you say Fuck It, you let go of your hold on something - usually something that's causing you pain.
When you say Fuck It, you give in to the flow of life - you stop doing what you don't want to do, you finally do what you've always wanted to do, and you stop listening to people and listen to yourself.
Life is made up for us of things that matter. Our value system is simply the things in the world that we've chosen to matter to us (or been handed by 'conditioning'). And the things that matter to us are the things that we take seriously.
When we say Fuck It (and we usually do say it when the things that matter have gone tits-up), we recognize that the thing that mattered to us doesn't matter so much. In other words - through whatever unfortunate circumstance - we stop taking seriously something that we usually take very seriously.
The author will take you through why we say f**k it, how to say it, when to say it (all the time and to everything!) and what happens when we say it. Parkin is really provocative at times, usually when he is touching on a topic that is very serious to you. We all have these topics, these little red buttons. Sure, we might agree with him that we should learn to relax on this or that issue, but surely not on this one very important area. Possibly that is where we need it the most?
For me, I am working on coming to terms with and letting go of my need for control (even admitting that I had a control issue was hard, I'm sure friends, family members, partners past and present are laughing now). But realizing that I do not need to control everything, and that things will still be okay and that the vast majority of the time things work themselves out. It really is such a relief. And yes, much easier said than done.
How about you? How do you feel about Buddhism, or the Western philosophy of saying "f**k it"? ...more
One of the main things I took away from The Ethical Slut is that I have, at least emotionally, been stuck thinking about life in terms of so-called "starvation economies", i.e., the idea that life is a zero-sum game and that if someone else has something that means there is less for you. While there are a few things in your life, e.g., time and resources, that are indeed limited, most things are not. There is no set limit of beauty, intelligence, sexiness or love.
Another important point is learning to trust yourself, that you do have the skills to look after yourself and that you don't need to (and in my opinion shouldn't) rely on another person to take care of you. Learning to ask for what you need (but also knowing and respecting that that doesn't necessarily mean getting it, or getting it when you want it), daring to be brave and vulnerable by opening up to people, setting and respecting boundaries, knowing yourself and owning your own feelings.
When you respect your own limits, others will learn to respect them too. People tend to live up to your standards when you are not afraid to set them.
To truly know yourself is to live on a constant journey of self-exploration, to learn about yourself from reading, therapy, and, best of all, talking incessantly with others who are traveling on similar paths. This hard work is well worth it because it is the way you become free to choose how you want to live and love, own your life, and become truly the author of your experience.
A basic precept of intimate communication is that each person owns her own feelings. No one "makes" you feel jealous or insecure - the person who makes you feel that way is you. No matter what the other person is doing, what you feel in response is determined inside you. ... The problem is that when you blame someone else for how you feel, you disempower yourself from finding solutions. If this is someone else's fault, only that person can fix it, right? So poor you can't do anything but sit there and moan. On the other hand, when you own your feelings you have lots of choices. You can talk about how you feel, you can choose whether or not you want to act on those feelings (no more "the devil made me do it"), you can learn how to understand yourself better, you can comfort yourself or ask for comfort. Owning your feelings is basic to understanding the boundaries of where you end and the next person begins and the perfect first step towards self-acceptance and self-love.
Perhaps the most important step in dealing with problems is to recognize that they will happen and that it's okay that they do. You'll make mistakes. You'll encounter beliefs, myths, and "buttons" you never knew you had. There will be times when you'll feel pretty awful.
Knowing, loving, and respecting yourself is an absolute prerequisite to knowing, loving, and respecting someone else. Cut yourself some slack.
Everybody feels bad sometimes, so you are in excellent company. And when you have the courage to be open about a vulnerable feeling, everyone around you gets permission to be open with theirs.
Actually this book is so quotable, my copy has many many yellow highlights. In this review I have chosen to focus on the parts that I believe are applicable to everyone (and I honestly do feel like everyone could gain something from reading it), it does also have plenty of information on ethical/consensual non-monogamy (in all its variations), as well as safe and safer sex practices....more
The main message of this book is find out what your values are, and lead your life according to those values. Much of the information covered has made it into mainstream culture and many other books (7 Habits was first published in 1989), and while much of the information was familiar to me it was still a great way to go in depth with the topics. First 3 Habits; moving from dependence to independence Habit 1: Be Proactive Take responsibility for your own life and your choices. Take the initiative based on the values and principles you want to base your life on. Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind Know what goals you have for life, and what you want for each of your roles and relationships and keep these things in mind with your daily actions. Put First Things First Building on habit number 2, make sure that your daily and weekly tasks are prioritized according to what is most important to you, rather than what is most urgent. Next 3 Habits; moving from independence to interdependence Habit 4: Think Win-Win Fully understand that mutual beneficial solutions are ultimately better in the long run for everyone involved. Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood Listen emphatically, keeping an open mind, to really understand another person's point of view, before trying to explain your own point of view. Habit 6: Synergize Team work combines people's strength and allow the team to reach goals that no one could have achieved on their own. Overarching Habit: Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw Make sure you look after yourself in terms of physical, mental and emotional health so that you have the energy and ability to lead an effective lifestyle in the long-term....more
The S&M Feminist: Best Of Clarisse Thornis an excellent introduction into pro-sex feminism, as well as S&M, polyamory, gender issues and relatThe S&M Feminist: Best Of Clarisse Thorn is an excellent introduction into pro-sex feminism, as well as S&M, polyamory, gender issues and relationships from a feminist point of view. If you're a regular reader of her wonderful blog you will probably recognize a lot of the articles, but this book ties them all together in a new way.
I think this book is incredibly important and relevant for everyone, whether you identify as feminist or not, whether you are interested in BDSM/S&M or not, polyamorous or not, etc. One of the main topics in the book is communication and consent, a topic that is relevant to all of us, and which I think is too often ignored in "normal" relationships, where we often go by assumption, rather than talking and discussing things openly.
I think we need to teach that sex can be incredibly difficult. It can be hard to communicate with your partner. It can be hard to learn and come to terms with your own sexual desires. It can be hard to understand or accept all your partner's sexual desires. And just because it's hard, doesn't mean that you're with the wrong partner — or that you're missing some vital piece of information that everyone else has — or that you're doing it wrong.
All my most extraordinary sexual connections have benefited from everyone involved taking ownership of their desire, and talking about it directly at least a little bit.
The fantasy of a sexual relationship that is totally instinctive and perfect without any effort is just that — a fantasy.
Another important point she makes, is that we, maybe especially as women, need to learn to be okay with what we want - and with what we don't want. And accepting that we are okay, the way we are; "
sometimes you simply want or don't want things, and that you aren't required to justify your desires."
I think many people have sex they don't like because they don't feel like they can look for something different — they think it's the best they can get. I think many people have sex they don't like because they think it's what their partner wants
How To Win Friends and Influence Peopleby Dale Carnegie is a classic. I have been told over and over again (especially within the business world) thatHow To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a classic. I have been told over and over again (especially within the business world) that this is a must read book (ironically, for how much this book is recommended, it is rarely followed). I can understand why it is a classic, it is certainly sound advice, but a lot of it also strikes me as fairly common sense, aka the Golden Rule.
The book is divided into three parts covering the following 30 principles:
Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Arouse in the other person an eager need or want.
Become genuinely interested in other people.
Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
Show respect for other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
Begin in a friendly way.
Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
Let the other person do a a great deal of the talking.
Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
Try honestly to see things from the other persons point of view.
By synthetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
Appeal to the other nobler motives.
Dramatize your ideas.
Throw down a challenge.
Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
Let the other person save face.
Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be “hearty in your appreciation and lavish in your praise.”
Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.
It's not a long book, and I think reading the book over a month, a principle a day, is definitely worth your time. It'll give you food for thought, or at least remind you of some principles you might have forgotten. Quotes
I have had some interesting correspondence with Lewis Lawes, who was warden of New York’s infamous Sing Sing prison for many years, on this subject, and he declared that ‘few of the criminals in Sing Sing regard themselves as bad men. They are just as human as you and I. So they rationalise, they explain. They can tell you why they had to crack a safe or be quick on the trigger finger. Most of them attempt by a form of reasoning, fallacious or logical, to justify their antisocial acts even to themselves, consequently stoutly maintaining that they should never have been imprisoned at all.’ (This actually reminds me about the book; Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) which deals with logical fallacies and how we justify past mistakes and errors).
Dr. Dewey said that the deepest urge in human nature is ‘the desire to be important.’
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
I am pretty much the stereotypical firstborn - for good and for bad:
Firstborns need permission to be able to relax. We struggle commonly with time management, stress management, and prioritizing because we tend to take on a lot . . . in fact, too much.
Firstborns and Only Children Reliable and conscientious, they tend to be list makers and black-and-white thinkers. They have a keen sense of right and wrong and believe there is a “right way” to do things. They are natural leaders and achievement oriented.
Believe it or not, people who have sloppy desks are sometimes more concerned with being perfect than people who appear on the surface to be neat and organized. The person who has the sloppy desk may be what I refer to as a “discouraged perfectionist.” He wants everything in his life to be perfect, and because he knows it never can be, he tends to leave things half done or not done at all. In other words, he’s afraid to attempt things that he knows he can’t do perfectly.
Firstborns are always ready to pitch in and help because they’ve been groomed to do so. They have a high sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. There’s not a lot of gray in the black and white of a firstborn’s world.
Firstborns don’t like surprises. They like things to be orderly and organized.
If you’re a pleaser, your motto in life is peace at any price. You bite off far more than you can chew. You’re the type of person who would do anything for others while leaving nothing for yourself. You hold yourself responsible for other people’s failures and negligence. Your goal in life is to make sure everyone is happy, because then, you reason, you count in life. So you run yourself ragged while trying to do favors for everyone else. Because you bail folks out of messes, people like you. You’re a nice person. You can always be counted on, and people seem to know your soft spots. You spend every day running on a tankful of guilt. You’re driven by that guilt because you know you can never do enough. You just can’t seem to say no.
Many parents tend to view their firstborn children as older than they really are. They expect them to grow up too fast.
Firstborns are goal setters; they are well organized; they are the sort of people who know where they’re going, how they’ll get there, and how long it’s going to take to get there.
Dr. Leman's book will teach you how to make the most of your special abilities as a firstborn, while helping you cope with the things we are more prone to struggle with, such as perfectionism, saying no etc....more